The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman
(Summary by Bill Glad)
Impartation: He gave himself.
Why were Jesus’ demands upon discipline accepted without argument? The disciples understood that they were not just keeping a law, but were responding to One that loved them and who was willing to give himself for them. His was a life of giving – giving away what the Father had given him. Love is like that. It is always giving itself away. He lost no opportunities to impress upon his followers the deep compulsion of his own soul aflame with the love of God for a lost world. Everything he did and said was motivated by his consuming passion.
The constant renewing of his consecration to God through loving service to others constituted Jesus’ sanctification. He continually gave his life “for their sakes”. His sanctification then was not to benefit himself, but it was for his disciples, that they might “be sanctified in truth”. That is to say, in giving himself to God, Jesus gave himself to those about him so that through his life they might come to know a similar commitment to the mission for which he had come into the world. His whole evangelistic plan hinged on this dedication, and in turn, the faithfulness with which his disciples gave themselves in love to the people about them. They were to give as freely as they had received. Such a demonstration of love through the disciples was to be the way that the world would know that the Gospel was true.
Jesus made it clear that his life was mediated only through the Holy Spirit. Likewise, it was the Spirit that sustained and nourished the transformed life of a disciple as he continued to grow in knowledge and grace. By the same token it was only the Spirit of God that enabled one to carry on the redemptive mission of evangelism. Evangelism was the Spirit’s work; all the disciples were asked to do was to let the Spirit have complete charge of their lives. The fact that these men were of the common lot of mankind was no hindrance at all. It only serves to remind us of the mighty power of the Spirit of God accomplishing his purpose in people fully yielded to his control. After all, the power is in the Spirit of Christ. It is not who we are, but who he is that makes the difference. We must have his life in us by the Spirit if we are to do his work and practice his teaching.
Demonstration: He showed them how to live.
Jesus saw to it that his disciples learned his way of living with God and man. He recognized that it was not enough just to get people into his spiritual communion. His disciples needed to know how his experience was to be maintained and shared if it was to be perpetuated in evangelism. That is why the effort of Jesus to get across to his followers the secrets of his spiritual influence needs to be considered as a deliberate course of his master strategy.
As an example, it was no accident that Jesus often let his disciples see him conversing with the Father in prayer. They would see the place it had in his life without fully understanding what it was all about. Note that Jesus didn’t force the lesson upon them, but rather he just kept on praying until at last, the disciples got so hungry that they asked him to teach them what he was doing. At that point he would give them a lesson, and thereafter he emphasized the life of prayer again and again when talking with his disciples, continually enlarging upon its meaning and application as they were able to comprehend deeper realities of his Spirit. One thing is certain. Unless they grasped the meaning of prayer, and learned how to practice it with consistency, not much would ever come of their lives.
Another aspect of Jesus’ life which was vividly portrayed to the disciples was the importance and use of the Holy Scriptures. This was evident both in maintaining his own personal devotion and in winning others to the Way. He never ceased to used Scripture in his conversation with them; he exposited the Scriptures before them repeatedly, and he made it abundantly clear that the Word written in the Scriptures and the Word spoken by him were not in contradiction. Furthermore, it was made clear to them that if they were to continue in his fellowship by the Spirit after he was gone from them in the flesh, they would have to abide in his Word.
Through this manner of personal demonstration, every aspect of Jesus’ personal discipline of life was bequeathed to his disciples, but what perhaps was most important in view of his ultimate purpose was that all the while he was teaching them how to win souls. Practically everything that Jesus said and did had some relevance to their work of evangelism, either by explaining some spiritual truth or revealing to them how they should deal with people. Jesus was so much the master in his teaching that he did not let his method obscure his lesson. He let his truth call attention to itself, and not the presentation. All the disciples had to teach others was a Teacher who practiced with them what he expected them to learn. He did not ask anyone to do or be anything which first he had not demonstrated in his own life, thereby not only proving its workability, but also its relevance to his mission in life. It is well enough to tell people what we mean, but it is infinitely better to show them how to do it.