The Old Testament and Evangelism

carenet_2014Sep04_0044 Last month, I spoke to a group of attendees at Care Net’s National conference about the upcoming release of The Evangelism Study Bible and my vision for the ESB to be an equipping tool for the workers in their pregnancy resource centers.

As I closed my talk, I brought up the importance of the Old Testament in evangelism. Here is an excerpt from what I said:

If I were a literature teacher, I would never tell my students, “You can skip the beginning and end of The Great Gatsby or Sherlock Holmes. Just read the middle and it will all become clear.”

Similarly, the NT by itself is incomplete. The OT teaches essential truths about God, humanity, and salvation.

As we worked through the content of the Evangelism Study Bible, particularly some of the content in the OT, it was such a deep privilege and joy to see how the whole Bible can be a practical guide for us in sharing the gospel. So much so, that “No portion of the Bible, even of the Old Testament, is properly read, or understood, unless it points us to Christ.”[1]

And I also loved all the “aha” moments that came when I discovered a portion of the Bible that gave me something new to think about regarding evangelism that hadn’t occurred to me. For instance, Proverbs has much to teach us about how to deal with difficult people, people who may even try to slander us or stop our evangelism efforts.

Or the story of the judge and prophetess Deborah who was a godly leader in Israel and earned the nation’s respect through her integrity and excellence. She shows us that whatever roles God places us in today, whether it’s as a homemaker, a counselor, a doctor, volunteering at your local pregnancy center, or whatever it may be, God calls us to lead with excellence and to proclaim the story of the redemption and hope found in Christ.

As you all leave here today, and you process all the tremendous information gleaned over the past few days, my hope & prayer is that you’ll also reflect on the theme of evangelism throughout the whole Bible, in both the Old & New Testaments. And as you read through your Bible, and God-willing the Evangelism Study Bible, you’ll make a concerted effort to pinpoint the evangelism principles that will apply specifically to you and the people you serve.”

[1] This phrase adapted from Dallas Theological Seminary’s doctrinal statement.