Category Archives: Evangelism

The Prodigal Sheep

(Kudos to my brother, Clark Sims, for stimulating these thoughts with his lesson Sunday.)

There’s no mistake in the title. I want to talk about the prodigal sheep. He’s the brother who finds his way back into God’s service after years of inactivity and without any help or encouragement from the brethren. Like the prodigal son of Luke 15, this wanderer “came to himself” and came home.

Unlike the sheep of Matthew 18 who was sought by his shepherd, no one came looking for him. He just showed back up one day. That’s a good thing, of course, but it is a little scary. What if he didn’t come home? What if he stayed lost? The sheep was sought. The only reason the sheep came home was because someone went looking for him.

Why don’t we look for the lost. Here are 4 reasons we leave the lost, lost.

1. We Think He Knew Better

If a Christian has been around for a while we assume he knows that he should be faithful to the Lord. When he wondered away we figured it was a deliberate act and, since he knew better, he would come home soon enough.

We probably should rethink that.

2. We Think She Needs a Break

Life has a way of ratcheting up the pressure. We all feel a need for a break sometimes. Even Jesus stepped away from the crowds sometimes. Again, we think that she will be back as soon as life settles down a bit.

But what if they don’t?

Maybe we should rethink that.

3. We Think They Are Out of Town

American culture is on the move. We travel a lot. So we often assume that people have taken some spare time to visit parents, see the grandchildren or take a few days of vacation. But when the vacation stretches to the second week we should probably ask around. Most folks don’t leave for weeks without telling someone.

Out of town? Maybe not. We should rethink this one too.

4. They’ll Be Back

Surely no one would leave or drop out! That would be crazy! It’s good to be happy and to think highly of our congregations but sometimes people do leave. A misunderstanding or unintended slight can drive people away. Jesus said to deal with personal issues (Matthew 5:23 ff).

Sure, they might come back…and they might not. Rethink this one.

That lost sheep of Matthew 18 would have died if the shepherd thought like we think sometimes. I’m glad he didn’t, aren’t you?

Teaching in South America

Lethem, GuyanaI just returned from a trip to Lethem, Guyana and the Guyana Christian University. What a blessing to visit these good people and have both students and community visitors in my classes. For those who do not know, Lethem is located in western Guyana along the border with Brazil. It is south of the almost pristine Guyanese rainforest and is situated in the grasslands or savannahs. The school has been in place for just over 12 years and has been the source of many gospel preachers now working among the Amerindian people of the country.

On this occasion, I taught a university-level class on Revelation and a class on preaching. These great students were careful to compare my teaching to God’s word. We teach them to study the scriptures and use the Scriptures as the sole authority in their teaching.

I was also privileged to speak to the church of Christ at Culvert City which shares a campus with the school. It was so good to see old friends and some new ones too.

Here, at Eastern Shore in Alabama, we support Guyana Christian Medical Missions. A team just returned in February, another arrives in July and another in September or October. We are making some improvements to the clinic to be ready for the new team that arrives in a month or so.

If you are near Daphne, Alabama next Sunday, drop by the Eastern Shore church of Christ. I’ll be making a fuller report on Sunday night at 5.


Too Much Faith In An Election?


Did Christendom gain a great victory in the Presidential election of 2016? Some think so. Others are not so sure. Many believed the election to be a turning point, even a final chance for the nation to return to its Christian roots. The election is over and the favored candidate won. Now what? What is different for the church in the post-election period?

Not much.

The American church was not and is not persecuted

Notwithstanding a few rare and extreme cases, the government has maintained a hands-off policy toward the church. Some pseudo-church organizations have been discomforted but the church for which Jesus died has been left alone. The mission of the church is not to place manger scenes in the courthouse square nor to place copies of the 10 Commandments in public places. The mission of the church is to save souls (Luke 19:10; Mark 16:15, 16).

Ironically, the greatest church growth occurred during the 1st century when both the government of Israel (secular and theological) and the government of Rome opposed the church. The original Christians would be surprised at our weak evangelism and thin skin in the present day. We recoil and sniffle at the slightest sarcastic remark while they faced stoning, burning and unspeakable torture for their beliefs. As the writer of Hebrews remarked, “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Hebrews 12:4).

Christians must not depend on the government to do our work

The single brightest spot in the election is the not yet fulfilled promises concerning the United States Supreme Court. If the president-elect does what he has promised, we may see more protection of the unborn through a rolling back of heinous rulings allowing abortion. But even so, the ultimate battle is in the heart of the woman making such a choice. The Supreme Court has little sway in the heart of a woman struggling with a heartbreaking decision. But Jesus changes hearts and lives (Matthew 15:8, 18, 19; 22:37; John 7:38; Acts 8:22; Romans 2:29; 5:5; Galatians 4:6).

O that we would approach our Christian duties with the same fervor as we approached the election. What if we were as passionate about our Lord as we were of our candidate?

We have great work to do. We must be warriors in the Kingdom of Christ. To borrow from Paul, let us fight the good fight ourselves and not expect help from the other government.


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @J_Bryant_Evans.


Paralysis: Satan’s Tool

Guillen-Barre is a slowly progressing illness that paralyzes people beginning in the feet and sometimes moving all the way into the chest and neck. It’s terrifying to feel your muscle control slipping away and wondering whether your breathing will soon stop. In most cases GB reverses itself and patients make a full recovery but they are forever changed by the brush with a permanent infirmity.

As horrible as physical paralysis is, spiritual paralysis is far worse and, I would argue, far more common. In fact, paralysis is one of the devil’s top tools for preventing evangelism and stopping the spread of the gospel.

We’ve all experienced it. We meet someone that we really click with. We begin to spend time with them at work or at play. We actually consider talking to them about Jesus. But then the paralysis sets in. We cannot seem to bring ourselves to discuss the most important topic in our life and in theirs. “Jesus” just will not come out of our mouths. It would be easier to bend our arm halfway between our wrist and elbow than to talk to our new friend about their soul. Why? What happened?


We often assume that the people we know are not interested in the Bible. Or we assume that people are already comfortable in their faith and have no interest in anything we have to say.

Paul could have made such an assumption when he traveled city-to-city preaching the gospel. Yet he entered the synagogues, places where devout Jews were found, to preach to them. The entire church began among already devout people (Acts 2:5). Today, we likely assume such devout people are already comfortable in their faith.

We also tend to assume that wicked, sinful people – those with no obvious interest in spiritual matters – would likewise be uninterested in Jesus. We filter them out having never even spoken to them about the Lord. How do we know? Rough, Galilean fishermen were the first disciples (Matthew 4:18-22). Sinners were the chosen friends of Jesus (Matthew 11:19). Our assumptions and filters must be eliminated.


Fear is incredibly powerful. Yet all of God’s great men and women have rejected fear in favor of trusting in God for every need. The apostles were told that they would stand before powerful kings and governors (Mark 13:9) and Jesus would sustain them. Paul was warned of what awaited him in Jerusalem at the end of his third missionary journey (Acts 21:10-16). He appeared before murderous Jews and ignorant Romans and yet he never missed an opportunity to preach truth. Finally he would appear before Caesar and preach among the most influential people of the day (Acts 26:32; Acts 28:16, 30).

Satan will try and convince us that we will be persecuted for our faith. Oddly enough, he may be right. But we must know that any persecution that does come our way is laughable compared to what our brothers and sisters in the first century experienced. Be encouraged by the example of all those who stand for truth and let us “speak the word without fear” (Philippians 1:14)


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

The Thief on the Cross

Many have asked how it is possible that the thief on the cross was saved apart from baptism. Some use the thief as proof that baptism is unnecessary in salvation. Their thinking is in error as the thief proves nothing concerning baptism.

The story of the thief is found in some form in all four gospel accounts (Matthew 27:38, 44; Mark 15:2, 28, 32; Luke 23:39-43; John 19:18), however only Luke provides us the details of his encounter with Jesus. Stated briefly, the thief recognizes his impending doom, knows his guilt and asks Jesus to remember him when he (Jesus) comes into his kingdom. Jesus says, “Today, you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43).  It seems obvious that Jesus granted salvation to this man while both were impaled on crosses. It would be foolish to argue otherwise. So then, if baptism is essential to salvation, how is it possible that this man could be saved?

Christian baptism, that is, baptism for the remission of sins, would not be given for another 50 days. Jesus was crucified at Passover and the command of baptism was not given until the church began on the following Pentecost (Acts 2:38, 41, 47). Thus the thief lived and died before baptism was commanded.

Jesus was still living and could do anything he wished. His last will and testament was not yet in effect because he was still living. Hebrews asserts the superiority of Christ over all that came before. He is greater than the angels, greater than Moses and his priesthood is greater than that of the Levites. The writer makes clear that while the tabernacle was established and cleansed by the blood of goats and calves, the new tabernacle, the spiritual tabernacle is established by Jesus’ “own blood” (Hebrews 9:12).

The writer of Hebrews argues that a new tabernacle or priesthood requires a new covenant (Hebrews 9:15-28). Now notice carefully, this new covenant could not come into effect until the one giving it (Christ) had died. “For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive” (Hebrews 9:16, 17). Therefore, since baptism that saves (1 Peter 3:21) is part of the new covenant established by Jesus, the thief could not be subject to it while Jesus lived!

If I possess something of great value then I may do with it as I will while I am alive. Only at my death does my will dictate to whom and when that thing of value will go. The great thing of value possessed by Jesus was eternal life. It was his to give freely. Now, by his choice, his will is in force and governs that great gift.

We do not know that the thief was unbaptized. Although Christian baptism had not yet been given, at least three years earlier John the Baptist had begun his ministry in the wilderness where he baptized for repentance. We know that people in Jerusalem knew of his work as many, including the religious leaders, were going out to be baptized by him. He had many followers including some we meet as late as Acts 19:1-7. It is possible the thief had been baptized by John. The text simply does not say and we cannot speculate.

If we wish to have discussions about baptism and its role in salvation, let us do so. But let us accept, in advance, that the thief on the cross is not a valid example of salvation for one in the Christian age.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

So Many People!

crowdThe United States hit a population milestone this year surpassing the 320 million mark. That’s a lot of people but it is still lives us a very distant 3rd in the global population race. Both India and China count 4 times more people in their borders than we do. Worldwide, there are now over 7 billion people.

Correction: 7 billion souls.

When one stops and thinks that each Christian is given the task of bringing the good news to others the task seems enormous. But God gives us nothing beyond our reach. The Great Commission texts of Matthew 22:18-20 and Mark 16:15-16 are doable. The Lord would never have given the command if the results were beyond our reach.

It may be that we need to stop looking at the great forest and look instead at the trees.

Most of us have 2 neighbors within walking distance. Those who live in a planned neighborhood or in an apartment complex may have dozens or even hundreds within seconds of their front door. Let’s start there.

When the church first began Peter preached to the people who were there, at Jerusalem, and within the sound of his voice (Acts 2:1 ff). It is not until Acts 8:1 that people began mission type activities. But even then,  they continued to speak to people in the towns where they migrated to.

Evangelism among the original Christians was not sophisticated. It was incredibly simple. It involved people talking to other people about something important to them – Jesus. Opportunities for the Gospel abound.

Maybe the answer lies in the simplicity of their actions. What if today we simply spoke to people we know about Jesus? What if you turned off the computer and walked next door? Right now?

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

Man in the Mirror

SONY DSCWho’s In the Mirror?

Have you ever noticed how much sinners look like the man in the mirror? I’ve been struck by the similarities of sinners to Christians. I shouldn’t be. Christians are sinners too. The difference lies in the “no condemnation” statement of Romans 8:1, 2:

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”

Note that the freedom from condemnation comes only for those “in Christ Jesus.” Those outside of Christ have no such promise. There is also the very important contrast of those set free by the law of the Spirit of life against those judged by the law of sin and death. That verse is what makes the man in the mirror different from a sinner not in Christ.

That does not mean there are not important similarities. The differences fade quickly when we think of where we were before Jesus came into our lives.

Many who read here grew up with loving, godly parents who ensured they were raised “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4, KJV). We were taught the Bible stories and were thrilled when Daniel walked out of the lion’s den or when Jonah was swallowed by a whale. We had our little white Bible and knew all of the Sunday School songs by heart.

But what if we didn’t? What if we did not have godly parents? What if we never attended worship or Bible study as a child? Where would we be?

That is where we find the world today. Many do not have the background we enjoyed and so their lives descended further and further into worldliness and chaos. Without an anchor they drifted from one seemingly satisfying moment to the next. They were never taught.

I might be wise to remember that when you next look into the mirror. The saved face staring back at you might not have been so clean were it not for your blessed past. Where would you be?

My point is that we can see people who are lost but we cannot see why they are lost. Our approach to them must be that of a kindly, patient teacher. Remember the old saw, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” We’ll reach more with understanding. Teaching truth, never compromising, but understanding the path that brought them to us.


Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.

What Is Sin and Why Should I Care?

Moses Breaking TabletsPreachers are fond of saying that sin is the universal scourge of mankind. We talk a lot about sin and its impact on our world. We remind listeners that sin condemns. But it may be that some people, especially those fresh to thinking about spiritual matters, may not understand the entire idea of sin and may be a little confused by what we mean. Let me help.

Sin Offends God

At the most basic level, sin is any violation of God’s law. Put another way, sin is anything that offends the glory of God and his righteousness. In the Old Testament, Joseph is tempted to commit adultery with his boss’s wife. Most of us agree that adultery is a bad thing. Adultery is specifically mentioned in the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20:14). But when Joseph is confronted with the temptation, he asks, “How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God (Genesis 39:9)? In his thinking, sin is always against God. Others may be affected, but the sin is against God.

Bible study will reveal that God is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45). This is a trait of God which means he is set apart from anything evil. He is even set apart from you and me because of our sin. God is so holy that he cannot bear to look upon sin (Habakkuk 1:13). Sin then, is what God cannot tolerate. Therefore, he has taught us to avoid sin so that we might enjoy a relationship, even an eternal relationship, with him.

Sin Is Always Bad

Some sin doesn’t seem so bad. Some people will justify sinful relationships on the grounds that it “feels so right.” R&B singer Luther Ingram had a hit in 1972 titled, “(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don’t Want to be Right.” It extolled his desire for an adulterous relationship over his desire for righteousness. Many think the same way today. Others commit sin in the pursuit of happiness. Many say, “God wants me to be happy!” They then live in violation of God’s laws under the assumption that their happiness is more important than God’s will.

Little white lies and occasional dishonesty on tax forms and expense reports don’t seem so bad. After all, everyone cheats a little don’t they? This kind of thought illustrates a common mistake. Sin is not determined by what others think or do. It is quite possible that I can sin and never offend another person. The opposite is also true. I can offend people but never offend God. Consider Moses and his confrontations with Pharaoh. The king was constantly offended by Moses although Moses was doing precisely what God told him to do (Hebrews 3:5). Jesus offended many and angered some to the point that he was killed. Yet he was doing the will of God (John 4:34; 17:4). The only way to truly know sin is to learn from God’s word. Even preachers cannot be entrusted apart from the Word of God (2 Corinthians 11:14).

Sin Has A Price

So sin offends God. But why is that such a big deal? Good question. God is our Creator. He formed us from the nothingness of chaos. He instills within us an everlasting soul. That soul lives beyond death. It does not die but is eternal. After death our soul will either exist with God or without God. There are only two possible destinations after death. Unforgiven sin will cost us the ability to live with God eternally and consign us to the only remaining eternal place – hell (Revelation 20:10, 15).

With such a massive price, we see why it is so important to study God’s word so that we will know and avoid sin.

Sin Has A Solution

Jesus saves! You have heard that many times and probably seen billboards and placards at ballgames proclaiming salvation in Jesus. It is true. All sin is eliminated for those in Christ. The Bible says, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

Whatever sin you have committed, Jesus will take it away. When men realized they were guilty of killing Jesus they pleaded to know what they could do. The answer was simple, “repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). A person today with the same kind of submissive heart, can be saved by Jesus. There is a solution! Jesus saves!

The Real Cost

121px-MacheteSometimes we are reminded how easy we have it here. Aside from the occasional snide remark our faith is largely unchallenged. But not too far from our shores a preaching student, much like those at our Guyana Christian University, are paying the price for evangelism.

A preaching student was cut in pieces in the Dominican Republic because he baptized a woman. Take a moment to read the story and then pray.

I hope that when our faith is weak we will be encouraged by the strength of this brother.

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans

Reaching the Unreachable

You know someone that needs Jesus. Their life is a mess and chaos reigns every day. You fear their eternity yet they slumber through life with little thought for the Lord and his salvation. Can this person be reached? Are they beyond the love of God? Should we surrender?

The Love of God Extends to All

Sacrificial love flows from God’s throne. Every action Jehovah has taken is targeted toward the salvation of lost men. He is driven by love. The death of Jesus was the evidence of his love (Romans 5:8; John 3:16). That love was directed toward sinners who live in rebellion against his glory.

It is inconceivable that God would offer his only son for those who despised him. Yet that is exactly what he did. Jesus authored salvation for the lost (Hebrews 5:9). All men are called to redemption by God (John 3:15, 21; 1 John 2:2; Acts 17:30, 31).

 Rejecting Jesus is Rejecting Salvation

God has called men in many different ways over the ages. But now, he seeks men through Jesus alone  (Hebrews 1:1-4). There is no other way to salvation except Jesus (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). Rejecting Jesus is the same as rejecting salvation. It is a personal choice, allowed by God, with astounding implications.

During his ministry, Jesus was rejected by many. John 6:66 has disciples deserting Jesus because of difficult teachings. Jewish leaders rejected him just as prophesied centuries before (Isaiah 53:3). Some people have, and will continue to, reject Jesus to their own detriment. Scriptures teach that many will follow broad paths to destruction (Matthew 7:13).

Surrender is Not an Option

Although many will die shaking a fist of rebellion at the Father we must not give up. Our task is to go and preach (Matthew 28:18, 19; Mark 16:15, 16). We work together with brethren and God gives increase through his word (1 Corinthians 1:6). So even in the face of apparent defeat, we press on. One may wonder how often Paul thought of quitting and retiring to a quiet place to worship in his later years in peace. But he did not, nor should we.

When people reject our message of salvation we understand that they are rejecting God – not us. Samuel found Israel’s demand for a king other than God to be repulsive and he took their demands personally. But God reminded him that the people were rebelling against heaven (1 Samuel 8:7).

Reaching the Unreachable

Actually, no man is unreachable. Contrary to some teachings, God calls all men and does not desire the destruction of any (2 Peter 3:9). We must not faint in our effort (2 Corinthians 4:16; Galatians 6:9). We press on and save those whom we can.

A man may reject your words and overtures of love but he cannot overlook a life of God-filled joy and glory. We begin by living the life that is worthy of our place with God (Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Revelation 3:4).

Next, we watch for opportunities and we seek openings to share the power of Christ. Jesus, through John, told Philadelphia that he had set an “open door” before them (Revelation 3:8). We must watch for those doors and be prepared to quickly walk through before they close forever.

Never give up, always press forward and always be prepared!

Bryant Evans may be reached at bryant at You can follow Bryant on Twitter @jbevans.