Summary: Using Daniel as an example, this message explores three essential of evangelism, regardless of style. Message is not only designed to teach, but also to inspire Christians to obey the Great Commission in reaching the lost.
This morning I want to use Daniel as a model evangelist. We usually don’t think of Daniel in those terms. We think of him as a statesman. We think of him as a prayer warrior. We certainly think of him as a prophet. He was all those things. But Daniel was also an evangelist. His style of evangelism in today’s terms would probably be “lifestyle evangelism.” He evangelized as he carried on his daily duties and as opportunities presented themselves.i
His style was very different from that of John the Baptist, for example. John the Baptist was extremely confrontive in his approach to evangelism. He called the Pharisees and Sadducees a brood of vipers (Matt. 3:7). He was more like the Christian on the street corner yelling “Turn or Burn.” No wonder he wound up getting his head cut off. He was not one bit diplomatic in his approach. His message was simple. “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”ii “God is here and He is commanding you to repent.”
Is that the wrong approach? It was not the wrong approach for John the Baptist. Jesus said “among those born of women there is no one greater than John” (Lk 7:28 NIV). He must have been doing something right to get that kind of commendation from Jesus. But when we look at Daniel’s approach to evangelism, we will see something that looks (at least on the surface) very different.
Philip fits more closely with the image we have of an evangelist. He went to Samaria and conducted a city-wide crusade. Acts 21:8 refers to him as Philip, the evangelist. People responded in mass. His approach was to preach Christ to the crowds. He did that with power and demonstration of the Sprit. Many unclean spirits came out of people. There were miracles in his services (Acts 8). John Wimber called this style of evangelism “power evangelism.”iii This is what Jesus told His disciples to do.iv This is what Paul did in his ministry.v John the Baptist did no miracles (John 10:41). Billy Graham did no miracles, yet he is one of the greatest evangelists of our time. Reinhard Bonkee had great evangelistic success in Africa. He did it much like Philip did.
Is it wrong to lead people to the Lord without miracles? Is it wrong to lead people to the Lord with miracles? It is right to lead people to the Lord either way. Who here would tell Billy Graham to not preach the gospel unless he could do it the way Reinhard Bonkee does? Who would tell Reinhard to stop working miracles and do it the Billy Graham way? Paul even went so far in to say that he rejoiced when people preached Christ even if they weren’t doing it with the right motives. Phil 1:18 “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.”
Regardless of what style of evangelism a person is using, we should rejoice that the name of Jesus is being proclaimed.
I have noticed over the years that Christians are more prone to argue over how it is to be done than to actually do it. “One day a lady criticized D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in his attempt to win people to the Lord. Moody’s reply was: ‘I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?’ The lady replied, ‘I don’t do it.” Moody responded, ‘I like my way of doing it, better than your way of not doing it.’”vi
Here is the Apostle Jude’s take on evangelism (Jude 22-23) “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude is saying your approach should vary depending on the person and the situation. You need to make the distinction. Some should be approached with tenderness and compassion. Others need to be awakened with the fear of God. They need to be saved “with fear” as Jude puts it. I have heard many people say you don’t get people saved with hell fire and brimstone preaching; you should be gentle and loving. Jude says, Yes, some people respond well to the gentle, loving approach. But there are other people who need to smell the flames of hell and make a decision. It takes the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to know when to do what.
What I want us to understand before we look at Daniel’s evangelistic efforts is this: there are various approaches to evangelism, there are a variety of ways and methods. In 1 Cor. 9:22 Paul said, “…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” The means is not nearly as important as winning some to the Lord.