Summary: As Christians, we have wonderful news. Are we telling anybody? In this passage, as Jesus talks with the Woman at the Well, He gives us the pattern of evangelism.
Every morning, giant double-decker busses drive through the streets of London. But they don’t just stay in London. They move back and forth across the entire country of England. Since the busses are constantly on the move, they are constantly being seen by millions of people. And in today’s world, anytime something is seen by millions of people, somebody’s going to find a way to turn it into a space for advertising. And that’s exactly what has happened to the busses. Basically, they have become rolling billboards that are seen by millions of people each day. Within the past few weeks, those advertisements have gotten a lot more attention than usual. They’ve gotten a lot more attention, because they have been displaying a religious message. A religious message designed to persuade people to believe what they believe. That sounds like a good evangelism program, doesn’t it? Well, it might be, except the news they’re spreading isn’t good news. You see, the word evangelism comes from the same Greek word we translate as the Gospel. The root word literally means messenger. Sometimes, as we saw when we were studying the 7 Churches of Asia in Revelation 1-3… sometimes it’s translated “angel”. Either way, the root word is a messenger. And when it’s put together in the form we translate as evangelism, it means bringing the message of the Gospel. Of course we know that gospel means good news. But the religious message that is being paraded around England on the side of those busses is far from good news. Here is what they say: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy life.” A group of atheists including the well-known evolutionist Richard Dawkins got together and raised $150,000 in four days to pay for this widespread ad campaign. Many people are calling it Atheistic Evangelism. But what could be further from the truth? Is that a message of good news? First, when they say that there is probably no God, what does that mean? It means that they are openly admitting that there is a good chance that God really exists. Probably isn’t absolutely—it isn’t even close. It’s like a slightly beefed-up maybe. Which is just a little bit more than, “I don’t know.” So here’s what they’re really saying. They’re telling people that there is a good possibility that an infinitely powerful supreme being exists. So, since that possibility exists, the best thing you can do is ignore it. Ignore the possibility of an all-knowing, all-powerful, righteous and holy God. Close your eyes to that definite possibility and stick your head in the sand and enjoy your blindness. Oh, and by the way, even though you’re ignoring the distinct possibility that you’re ignoring a Being that could hold you accountable for disregarding His existence… don’t worry about it. Now, I’m not the smartest person in the world, but how can that be good news? How can that be evangelism? But on the other hand, we have good news to tell. The news that we have is truly good. We don’t want people to ignore their guilt before a holy God. The Bible says that God is evident in His creation. Deep inside, all people know that there is a God—even if they have suppressed that truth in their unrighteousness. It is undeniable that God exists. The news that we have to bring is that He not only exists, He loves. He loves enough to provide an escape from His wrath. He loves enough to provide a way of relationship with Him. He loves enough to send His Son to die as a sacrifice for our offenses to Him. To pay the tab that we have run up with our lives. And He loves enough for His Son to live again to give us the righteousness of God Himself—the price of entry into His presence. That is good news. No guesses. No probablys. No maybes. Only Truth. Gospel Truth. So what are we doing with that Truth? Putting it on signs and busses and billboards might be OK. But is that what Jesus taught us to do with it? You see those things are only good for one thing. They are only good if they lead to personal encounters. Not to say that God can’t do it—He can do anything. But His chosen method of evangelism isn’t a sticker on the side of a bus. It isn’t a fish sticker on a car. It isn’t a Christian t-shirt or hat. Those things are good in their place. But don’t ever mistake them for evangelism. Evangelism is personally passing the good news of Jesus Christ from your mouth to someone else’s ear. Plain and simple. That’s what Jesus did here in our passage this morning. Notice that this didn’t happen in church. It didn’t happen in the synagogue. It didn’t happen as He was preaching to the multitudes. This was a one-on-one encounter. Yes—we know it was a one-on-one encounter between a woman and God incarnate. She didn’t know it, but she was standing in the presence of God Himself in the flesh. The One who created her was sitting before her. But Jesus didn’t go there. He didn’t show His divinity to her. He didn’t miraculously reveal Himself to her. He didn’t show her His glory or His holiness. No miracles. No signs and wonders. No epiphanies or revelations. Only words. Only words that the Holy Spirit had the Apostle John record in his Gospel for us. Only words—but those words show us a pattern for evangelism that we should be using. We should be using this pattern, not because it works—we’re not pragmatists. But we should be using this pattern because Jesus gave it to us to use. There are six parts to this pattern and I would encourage you to write them down. The first part of the pattern of evangelism is—you must be intentional.