Focal Passage: Nehemiah 8:1-12
I was taught the FAITH evangelism strategy in Auburn, Ala., almost 20 years ago. I went because my church was planning on making it their method of outreach and since I was on staff, it was a good idea that I be trained in it. I did not go because I wanted to learn more about evangelism, and to be honest, I had not done a lot of evangelism. I was intimidated and uncertain concerning this week of training. I smile now, remembering how that week of training changed my life and equipped me to share my faith.
In our Sunday School lesson this week, Ezra arrives to read the Word of God to the people. Their reaction is captivating, compelling, and convicting. In Nehemiah 8:5 the people stood when the scroll was unrolled. For years, I have asked God’s people to stand in honor of the reading of His Word. It indicates the respect God’s Word deserves but it also says no other writing is like this living Word of God.
In Nehemiah 8:9 the people have a very visceral reaction to the explanation of the law. The text states that “the people were weeping as they heard the words of the law.” When the standard of the law was communicated to them, the people recognized how far from it they were. They began to weep as they became aware of the depth of their sin.
Notice that Ezra read the law for six hours and the people listened attentively in verse 3. They heard the law, but no reaction. In verse 8 a group of priests begin to explain and apply the law to the lives of the people. This is where each person began to understand that they personally had violated God’s law. It is one thing to tell people they need Jesus, it is another to explain to them why they need Jesus.
I still use the FAITH outline today when I have opportunity to share the gospel with individuals. In that presentation each letter represents some key component to the gospel and the letter “T” represents turn. It is the idea of repentance, the literal turning or changing of direction for a person’s life.
It is one thing to be remorseful for our sins. We weep and we cry over them. We are sorry for them. Our emotions, and sometimes our guilt, can be overwhelming. However, repentance is one step further. Remorse says “I am sorry for what I have done.” Repentance says “I don’t want to keep doing this. I want to change.” Sometimes we think the number of tears we shed indicates how much we have changed. In reality, how much we have changed indicates how much we have changed.
Before my FAITH training, I thought the days of door-to-door evangelism were over. What happened was I led an Asian couple in their 60s to the Lord on their doorstep. I still remember standing there in the glow of their porch light, watching a miracle unfold before me, and recognizing how wrong I had been.
I am firmly convinced that we are to share God’s Word with a people who have broken His laws. That we are to explain it in a way that they realize they have sinned and they understand their need for repentance. We are to help them understand how tears of repentance can become a celebration of forgiveness. And sometimes we get to watch a miracle unfold before our eyes. We see someone change before us and move from being under the control of darkness to become a citizen in the kingdom of light.
— Davis is senior pastor of Dublin Baptist Church, Dublin, Ohio.