Chapter 5

CHAPTER FIVE
COMMUNICATING THE MESSAGE

OBJECTIVES:

Upon completion of this chapter you will be able to:
• Write the Key Verse from memory.
• Identify six important principles for communicating the Gospel.
• Identify a Scriptural reference which provides a formula for communicating the Gospel to people of other cultures.

KEY VERSE:

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. (Philemon 6)

INTRODUCTION

In Chapter Three you studied about the content of the message of evangelism and in Chapter Four you learned that you are the messenger of the Gospel. This lesson focuses on the process of communicating an evangelistic message.

Effective communication is the art of transmitting a message from one person to another in such a way that it is received without distortion. The greatest concern of evangelism is that the Gospel is shared in such a way that it is understood and accepted.

EVANGELISTIC COMMUNICATION

Here are six important principles of communicating the Gospel. Evangelistic communication must:

INCLUDE BOTH HUMAN AND DIVINE ELEMENTS:

Evangelistic communication is different from other types of communication because the Word of God, God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are involved in the process. Sharing the Gospel is not just talking or chatting with others. It is divine communication enabled by powerful spiritual resources which are at work to convince and convict the recipients of the message.

BE TO ALL CLASSES OF PEOPLE:

Evangelistic communication must be to all classes of people: rich and poor, educated and uneducated, civilized and uncivilized. Paul confirmed this when he said. . .

I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians, both to the wise, and to the unwise. (Romans 1:14)

When he said he was a debtor he meant that because he had received the Gospel he owed it to others to share it with them. He felt this responsibility towards all men everywhere. There were no class distinctions in Paul’s mind. Everyone needed the Gospel. There was no one too poor or rich, too religious or pagan, too near or far. You cannot be prejudiced in communicating the Gospel. If you show partiality, you are sinning (James 2:1-4).

BE BALANCED BETWEEN GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS:

The tendency among many believers is to be satisfied with the multitudes. Pastors spend most of their time behind the pulpit in front of the group. The individual is lost in the crowd. This is especially true in many cultures where mass communication is possible by media like television and radio.

There is no substitute for personal contact. Paul often ministered to great crowds but his illustration of ministering to the Thessalonians was like a mother nursing a child and as a father with his own children (1 Thessalonians 2:7,11). He balanced his efforts between groups and individuals.

Jesus evangelized the multitudes, but He also shared the Gospel with individuals such as the woman of Samaria, Nicodemus, Zachaeus, and others.

BE UNDERSTOOD WITHIN THE CULTURAL CONTEXT:

Different cultures have different ways of doing things. This was true even in Bible times. For example, Lystra was a remote pagan place. Athens was a highly civilized city and was very difficult to reach with the Gospel. Berea received the Word of God gladly. They were looking for the truth.

The many cultural, linguistic, political, educational, and national differences present a challenge but they can be overcome and the Gospel expressed in an acceptable way. To understand another culture requires a willingness to adjust your thinking and behavior. Of course, you must never change your thinking or behavior contrary to the standards revealed in the written Word of God, but you can change in other ways that help to more adequately communicate the Gospel.

The Gospel must be presented in a way that it is understood by the hearers. Vocabulary, language, and style of delivery must be adjusted in order to make the Gospel understood. Paul recognized and practiced this (Acts 21:37-40; 22:2).

Acts 26:18 provides a pattern for effective communication of the Gospel to people of other cultures. God sent Paul to the Gentiles. . .

. . . To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
(Acts 26:18)

The Gospel must be presented in such a way:

  1. That it opens the eyes of the people.
  2. That they may turn from spiritual darkness to light.
  3. That they may turn from the power of Satan to God.
  4. That they may receive forgiveness of sins through salvation.
  5. That they may receive a spiritual inheritance through sanctification by faith. The culture in which a person is raised determines five areas:
    -His Language: How he expresses and receives communication and ideas.

-His World View: How he views and understands the world.

-His Beliefs: Religion, beliefs in supernatural; ways of thinking; thought processes.

-His Values: The worth, merit, or importance which he assigns to things.

-His Behavior: How he acts and behaves; socially and culturally acceptable behavior. You will note on the following chart that Acts 26:18 addresses each of these:

GO BEYOND VERBALIZATION:

Words are basic to communication. Through the written Word, God revealed His will to mankind. But if you are to follow the example of New Testament leaders, you must go beyond verbalization, especially in cultures that are more oriented toward experience. It is God’s desire for people to experience the truth of the Gospel, not just hear about it. This is why Jesus said “As you go heal the sick and cast out demons.” The communication of the Gospel is more than a verbal presentation. It is the demonstration of power.

BE IN HARMONY WITH YOUR LIFESTYLE:

Paul told Philemon to live so . . .

. . . That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus. (Philemon 6)

Paul was encouraging Philemon to let his faith be communicated by Christian character and conduct which reflected Jesus to others. No amount of words can overcome the power of hypocrisy, nor will words alone accomplish what the power of a positive example can achieve. The communication of the Gospel must be in harmony with your lifestyle if it is to be effective.