(123) 456-7890 email@domain.com

Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him (Matthew 4:18–20).

One of the truths that is evident over and over in the Gospels is that Jesus was passionately interested in the salvation of sinners. The Bible tells us in numerous places that that is why He came to the Earth (to save sinners…to save you, to save me!). Jesus stated that Himself. In John 3:17 He said, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” The apostle Paul said, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15).

These kinds of statements raise a question—to save sinners from what?

Hell.

Jesus made it clear that unrepentant, unforgiven sinners will be judged for their sins and then put in a place of outer darkness, torment, and separation from God. So Jesus, who is passionately interested and committed to reaching sinners and saving them from Hell, tells Peter and Andrew right up front in Matthew 4 what He desires to do with them. He says, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). They had been fishing for fish. He would make them fishermen of something far more important: men, women, and children.

Jesus reiterated the importance of reaching people in the Book of Acts, chapter one. He told His disciples…

Acts 1:8–9
“…you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

So, right before His ascension back into Heaven, Jesus tells His disciples again that they are to be His witnesses, telling others about Him. So note that. The first words of Jesus to His disciples (Matthew 4:19) and His very last words to them before His ascension (Acts 1) had to do with evangelism.

These Scriptures and others make it clear that God wants followers of Jesus to take the good news about salvation in Jesus Christ out to the world. And yet, surveys and studies have shown that many Christians never do. Many Christians today are guilty of the sin of silence. And every hour while we remain silent—every day while we keep the gospel to ourselves—people are slipping into eternity.

Listen to these sobering statistics.

Every day on planet Earth 155,224 people die.
(Source)

If we were to line up these people who die every day, the line would be about 59 miles long. Isn’t that astonishing? 59 miles of humans dying every day. But there’s another line I find more astonishing. If we were to line up all the people on the planet who are alive but without Christ, giving each non-Christian 2 feet of space, the line would be more than 2 million miles long.

That line of people who have not put their trust in Jesus could wrap around the Earth’s equator 84 times. And where is that line headed? Jesus said, “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13).

That line of people is on a path to Hell. That is why it is so important that we share the gospel with them.

Why don’t more Christians share the gospel with people? There are a variety of reasons but, I think it’s safe to say that fear is the number one reason why Christians often keep the gospel to ourselves. 

•  Fear of what people will think about us
•  Fear of rejection
•  Fear of not having answers for the questions that might come up
•  Fear of hurting a relationship
•  Fear of losing a job

Have you experienced any of those fears?

I’m sure you have. I think we all have. Well, retreating into silence because of fear is certainly not God’s will for our lives. Paul says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love” (2 Tim. 1:7). God wants us living out our faith, not in fear, but under the strong influence and power of the Holy Spirit.

Well, what can we do to overcome our fear of speaking to nonbelievers about Jesus? In this article, I want to share with you…

Seven Cures for the Fear of Evangelism

These are seven Biblical principles that will help you overcome the fear of evangelism.

Turn with me in your Bible to 2 Timothy 2. And while you’re doing that, let’s imagine through a crazy turn of circumstances that the President has asked you to be the new ambassador for the United States in a hostile, volatile country—let’s say Iran. So you accept the position, you quit your current job and begin work next week.

The night before you leave to Iran, you receive an important envelope from the State Department that contains some of the talking points you need to bring up in your meeting with the President of Iran the following day.

The next day comes. You’ve boarded your flight, and you’re stretching out in your first-class seat ready to open the envelope and go over your talking points when suddenly you realize you forgot to bring the envelope that contained the important information.

Your meeting is just hours away. What kind of feelings are you going to experience on the plane? Some fear, maybe some anxiousness or anger. Right? You might even feel somewhat ashamed. Why? You’re not prepared, you’re not ready. You don’t know what you’re supposed to talk about. Well, that is one of the reasons why many Christians are uncomfortable speaking about spiritual issues with friends and family. They’re not prepared.

They don’t take the time very often to open the envelope from the State Department (the Bible) and go over their talking points. So they don’t have a clear, strong understanding of what the King of Kings would even have them to say. They don’t have a good grasp on the gospel message. They are ill-prepared ambassadors.

This is why Paul told Timothy, “Study to show yourself approved to God a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).

Not being ashamed, fearful, or anxious when witnessing opportunities arise has much to do with prior study and preparation. Peter tells us to “always be ready to give an answer to everyone that asks you to give the reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Well, to “be ready to give an answer” requires preparation ahead of time doesn’t it?

If you desire to overcome the fear of evangelism, it will be immensely helpful if you make yourself “ready” by developing a firm grasp on the gospel message.

The New Testament disciples knew their message. They had studied ahead of time and it showed. We see Philip in Acts 8 explaining the gospel (from the Old Testament) to the Ethiopian. We see Peter quoting the Old Testament Scriptures when he had the opportunity to preach the gospel in Acts 3. These men studied and prepared ahead of time and it showed.

Many Christians today are unwilling to do this, which is astonishing when you think about it. If the President asked you to be an ambassador for the United States, I imagine that you would take your job very seriously wouldn’t you? You’d be studying. You would give it your all. It would be an honor to be an ambassador for our country.

How much more seriously should you take your call as an ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20) for the “King of kings” (Revelation 19:16) and make sure you are diligent in preparation? Your preparation will help conquer the fear of speaking to people about Jesus.

Let’s go back to your imaginary flight to Iran. Wouldn’t you be a lot less nervous on that plane if you had received the envelope a few months earlier and had some time to go over your talking points? Yes, obviously. Your confidence as an ambassador is closely connected to your preparation.

So, the first cure for the fear of evangelism is:

1. Know the gospel.

I believe every ambassador of Christ, every Christian, should have at least a handful of verses related to the gospel committed to memory so that when opportunities arise to share the gospel, you can explain the good news to somebody. Here are some verses I recommend:

•  John 3:16
•  Romans 3:10
•  Romans 6:23
•  Romans 5:8
•  Romans 10:9–10
•  Acts 4:12
•  John 14:6
•  Acts 17:30

These are a great place to start. Write one down on a Post-It note and stick it on your bathroom mirror for a week or two. Then the next one. And soon enough you’ll have them all memorized. In addition to having a firm grasp on the gospel, it’s also immensely helpful for an ambassador to be able to answer the common objections and questions that nonbelievers bring up:

•  “The Bible was written by men and isn’t trustworthy!”
•  “Why does God allow evil and suffering?”
•  “How can you say Jesus is the only way to Heaven?”

My book One Minute Answers to Skeptics can help you with that.

There’s a second cure for fear in Matthew 28. Notice what Jesus said to His disciples there starting in verse 19…

Matthew 28:19-20
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you…”

Let’s pause there for a moment.

Jesus makes it clear here that we should be a people on the move, sharing the gospel with people, baptizing others, teaching them the Word of God. But notice the encouraging words Jesus said immediately before He tells us to go and make disciples. In verse 18 He says, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on Earth.”

In other words, He says ‘I have authority over everything. I have authority over your life. I have authority over the demons. I have authority over the weather. I have authority over disease and sickness, over life and death.’

Well, those words would have been pretty encouraging to the disciples as He was sending them out. And Jesus’ words in Matthew 28 should be a great encouragement to every ambassador of Christ. Why? Because a great antidote for fear is to dwell upon this fact:

The One that you are telling
people about is the
One who is in charge of
the entire universe.

When you understand that truth and keep it in the forefront of your mind, you’ll find yourself less nervous to talk to people about Jesus. So, the second key to effectively laying your fears to rest is this…

2. Remember that Jesus has “all authority” in Heaven and on Earth.

He’s in charge.

There’s a third truth Jesus shared with His disciples here that will be important for us to dwell upon if we will be free from our fears. Notice what Jesus says at the end of Matthew 28:20…

Matthew 28:20
“And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

In other words, Jesus tells them, ‘As you go and make disciples, telling others about Me, not only am I in charge, I am going to go with you!  Wherever you go, even to the end of the age, I will be with you.’

What a blessing it is to know that when you seek to make disciples—when you open your mouth to speak about the Lord—He is with you. You don’t have to do this alone!

God Himself will go with you and be with you to help you. How comforting is that!?

So, how can you overcome the fear of evangelism?

1. Know the gospel.
2. Remember that Jesus has “all authority” in Heaven and on Earth.

And now this third one:

3. Remember that God is with you.

He never sent you out to be a lone ranger ambassador. He is always right there with you. Oh, how that has often alleviated my fears! All right, there’s a fourth cure for overcoming the fear of evangelism. It’s found in:

2 Corinthians 5:10-11
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men…”

It was alive and well in the forefront of Paul’s mind that there was coming a day when men and women would tremble before the throne of a holy God, where all of their sins would be exposed and they would be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).

Paul knew that what the writer of Hebrews said was true, that for those still in their sins, “It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Knowing this stirred Paul’s heart to move out in spite of his fears and persuade people to receive God’s forgiveness before it was too late.

One of the reasons why some Christians are paralyzed with fear when it comes to speaking about Jesus is because they have lost sight of the reality that all who die in their sins will be “thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15) where they “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord” (2 Thessalonians 1:9).

My friends, the thought of what awaits the unsaved in Hell should serve as a strong motivation to speak up in spite of your fears. How is it that we can let nonbelievers head off toward eternity unwarned?

Charles Spurgeon, the beloved English preacher of old, said, “If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies; and if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees…Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

What a great exhortation. When an opportunity to share the gospel arises and you sense fear reaching up out of your heart ready to grab your tongue and keep you from saying something, remind yourself of:

•  the great white throne judgment (Revelation 20:11)
•  the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15)
•  the “weeping and gnashing of the teeth”
•  those dreadful words the unrepentant will hear: “I never knew you; depart from Me” (Matthew 7:23)

…and say something.

You might be wondering, “What do I say? How do I transition from talking about the Dodgers or the weather to Jesus?”

I like to ask people questions about themselves…

•  Where’d you grow up?
•  What do you do for work?
•  Where are some of your favorite places you’ve traveled?

And here’s a good transition question:

•  Do you have any spiritual beliefs?

That rarely offends anyone. A good follow up question: “Who is Jesus to you?” By asking questions, you’re getting the ball rolling. You’re steering the conversation toward Jesus, and lovingly getting in their way as Spurgeon encouraged us to do. I have an article here with more on starting up conversations with non-Christians.

Jesus––knowing full well the horrors of what awaited the unsaved––was willing to leave behind the glories and comfort of Heaven and endure the humiliation and excruciating pain of the crucifixion so that they could be saved. Shouldn’t we at least be willing to tell people what Jesus went through for them? What’s going to happen? Will they laugh at us? Will they stop being our friends? Is that too big of a cost for us? Do we value the opinions of people so much that we are willing to just let them perish? God forgive us! And may the Lord change us!

So, cure number four for the fear of evangelism is this:

4. Remind yourself of what awaits the unsaved. 

Doing so will help you get over your fear of men and help you share out of a fear for men!

A fifth cure for fear is found just a couple of verses down in 2 Corinthians 5:14.

2 Corinthians 5:14
“For the love of Christ compels us…”

Paul was not only motivated to share the gospel out of fear for sinners (realizing what awaited them in eternity), he was motivated by the love of Christ. He said there in verse 14, “the love of Christ compels us.”

The Amplified Version translates Paul’s statement this way: “The love of Christ controls and urges and impels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

In other words, Paul is saying, ‘We are urged on in this task, we are driven, we are compelled to keep ministering because of the love of Christ.’

Now, Paul is not referring to his love for Christ (though Paul did love Jesus); Paul’s referring to Jesus’ love for him and the lost world.

•  Knowing the love of God that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19)
•  Knowing the love of God that is higher than the heavens are above the Earth (Psalm 103:11)

…and knowing that He has that kind of love for me and that He loves the world (John 3:16), what glorious news that is!!

And what a motivation to share the gospel in spite of our fears! The love of God is too good to keep to ourselves. How can we keep this God to ourselves when we have been the recipients of such a lavish love?

So, we have a fifth cure for the fear of evangelism:

5. Think on the love of God for yourself and the world.

A sixth cure for fear is found in Psalm 106.

You are probably familiar with the story of how the Israelites initially failed to enter into the Promised Land back in the Book of Numbers. Moses sent in the spies who came back and spoke of large fortified cities and the large men who lived in the land. So the Israelites went back to their tents and wept and decided that it would be better to go back to Egypt and be slaves again than trust the Lord (Numbers 14:1).

What caused this unwillingness to enter the land? Fear (Numbers 14:3). The people were overwhelmed with fear. Why? Psalm 106 tells us. This Psalm recounts some of Israel’s history, including the Exodus out of Egypt. It says that after the parting of the Red Sea (v. 9-11), the people were singing praise to the Lord (v. 12). But in the very next verse it says “They soon forgot His works” (Psalm 106:13).

Soon after the Exodus, they forgot what God had done. They lost sight of how God had delivered them from the Egyptians. They forgot about: 

•  the events of the Passover
•  the frogs the locusts
•  the darkness
•  the Nile River being turned into blood
•  what God did to Pharaoh’s army

And so fear set in. And it paralyzed them and kept them from obeying the Lord and entering into the blessings that God had for them in the Promised Land.

Well, forty years later a new generation was about to enter the Promised Land. And I want you to notice what Moses says to them in Deuteronomy 7.

Deuteronomy 7:17–21
“If you should say in your heart, ‘These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?’ – you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt: the great trials which your eyes saw, the signs and the wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm, by which the LORD your God brought you out. So shall the LORD your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid…You shall not be terrified of them; for the LORD your God, the great and awesome God, is among you.”

This new generation of people, many of whom were youths 40 years earlier when their parents refused to go into the Promised Land, were surely experiencing some fear themselves. So Moses encourages them and says, ‘Don’t be afraid (v.18). You just remember what the LORD your God did in the past. Remember that mighty way He brought you out of that terrible place. Remember the signs and wonders you saw!’

Doing so would be an antidote for their fears. And it is also a cure for fear in the life of the child of God today. If you’re a fearful ambassador of Christ, I encourage you to dwell often on some of the amazing things God has done in the past.

•  Think back on some of the great things God did delivering you from your old life in Egypt (your slavery to sin, how He’s changed you)
•  Remember how He spoke the universe and every living thing into existence in Genesis 1
•  Think of how He used the early disciples in the Book of Acts

There are millions of amazing things God has done! Recalling what God is capable of, and how He worked in the past, has given many Christians courage and boldness to step out and let God use them.

This is a sixth cure for the fear of evangelism. If you’re taking notes, jot it down:

6. Dwell often on how God has powerfully worked in the past.

It was an antidote for fear in the lives of the Israelites, and it can be for you as you seek to get the gospel out.

There is one more cure for fear I want to share with you. It is found in Acts 4. The disciples had just been forbidden by the Sanhedrin “to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18).

This was a serious threat to the spread of the gospel. The Sanhedrin were the Jewish rulers who condemned Jesus to death and delivered Him over to Pilate to be crucified. When they threatened the disciples and commanded them to not speak about Jesus, they meant business! But look at the response the disciples gave them in verse 19. I love this…

Acts 4:19-20
But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.”

In other words, ‘We will not be guilty of the sin of silence. God has commanded us to preach the gospel. We cannot stop!’ 

God give us that attitude!

So in the face of this kind of ongoing threat to the spread of the gospel, what did the disciples do? They got together and began to cry out to the Lord. Let’s look at v. 29 and see a small excerpt of what they prayed…

Acts 4:29–30
“Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

So what did these fearful disciples do? They prayed!! They said, ‘Lord grant us boldness to continue speaking Your word.’ They knew they would need God’s help to be bold. And notice verse 31. God heard their prayer. Luke tells us that…

Acts 4:31
“And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit…”

How did God answer their cries for “boldness”? He “filled [them] with the Holy Spirit.”

Brothers and sisters, that’s what we need! What an effect this had on the early Christians! Look at what happened in verse 31. In the face of ongoing threats, it says “they spoke the word of God with boldness.”

There is no way you can be a bold ambassador for the Lord in your own strength. You must be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. So, cure number seven for the fear of evangelism is this:

7. Pray for boldness.

I wonder what would happen if you began to pray for the same thing the disciples prayed for in Acts 4. I wonder what would happen if you began to regularly petition the throne of grace and say God, forgive me. I’ve been keeping this good news to myself; I’ve been afraid to speak up. But I’m not content to go on living this way! Please change me. Give me a burden for the lost. Give me boldness to share with people. Fill me with Your Spirit.”

It’s exciting to think about what God might do if you were to start praying something like that. Because a prayer like that is in perfect harmony with His will. You can be confident He will answer it in the affirmative. He will change you. He will give you a burden for the lost. He will give you boldness!

Do you desire to be a bolder ambassador for the Lord?

1.  Know the gospel.
2.  Remember that Jesus has “all authority” in Heaven and on Earth.
3.  Remember that God is with you.
4.  Remind yourself of what awaits the unsaved.
5.  Think on the love of God for yourself and the world.
6.  Dwell often on how God has powerfully worked in the past.
7.  Pray for boldness.

As you do these things, I am confident God will begin instilling in you the boldness you need to be a courageous ambassador for Christ. Amen?

 

 

CHARLIE H. CAMPBELL
is the founder of the ABR Apologetics Ministry, a popular guest teacher at churches and conferences in the United States and internationally, and the author of several books and DVDs, some of which include:

•  The Bible’s Scientific Accuracy and Foresight
•  Archaeological Evidence for the Bible
•  One Minute Answers to Skeptics
•  Scrolls & Stones: Compelling Evidence the Bible Can Be Trusted
•  Evidence for God
•  The Case for Christianity

•  Answering Atheists
•  The Case for the Resurrection
•  If God is Loving, Why is there Evil and Suffering?
•  Homosexuality and the Bible: Answering Objections to the Biblical View
•  Teaching and Preaching God’s Word
•  Apologetics Quotes

WOULD YOU LIKE CHARLIE TO SPEAK AT YOUR CHURCH?

Charlie frequently speaks, free of charge, at churches, conferences, retreats, etc. If you are a pastor and would like to inquire about him speaking at your church or event, please contact ABR here and let us know the date(s) you'd be interested in, and someone will email you back shortly.

•  Endorsements/Feedback
•  Available topics
•  Sample teachings (audio)