Evangelism has been on my heart the last few months. My heart is burdened as I consider the souls of our friends, loved ones, and colleagues here on the North Shore. I had an opportunity to spend some time with two men from the Gideons last month, and I’ve been discussing evangelistic methods and tools with several people. I wanted to share one of those tools with you.
I’ve found that giving away Bibles can be a profound experience both for me and for those who receive them. Hair stylists, landlords, waitstaff, and dear friends have received the Word with joy. I believe that in an age where American evangelicals often have more Bibles than they need, this is a particularly good idea. I typically give away a Bible that has been gently used, rarely or never marked in. So, I try to keep a good one in my car for such an occasion. Paperback economy Bibles are good for giving in large numbers, but my preference with relational evangelism is to give five- to fifteen-dollar Bibles with gold or silver leaf pages and a cloth or leather-like cover.
You can also leave Bibles at restaurant tables, in conference rooms, or on a cousin’s kitchen counter. I’ve put together a little introduction to insert into Bibles that I leave in public spaces that I’d like to share with you. Feel free to use it as you wish. This introduction does not preach, only invites. The Spirit will preach, convict, and convert as they read. If the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, and able to divide soul and spirit, then simply getting it into peoples’ hands is a good idea.
This book is a gift to you
The book you’re holding is a gift to whoever picks it up.
If you’ve never seen or read the Bible, it is worth your investigation. It’s the best-selling and most-printed book in the history of the human race, and with good reason.
The Bible is unlike any other book you’ll ever read, so a little introduction might be helpful. It’s astonishingly coherent, but it was written over the course of about 1500 years, by dozens of authors, writing from the Middle East, Persia, Egypt, and Europe, in three languages, and in a dozen different literary genres. There’s one story being told through these stories, laws, military annals, biographies, letters, and visions, and it is the story of God – the good, loving Creator of all things – and the world God created. Some people have said that this over-arching story is like a classical comedy: Things start out very good, but conflict and sorrow arise, reaching a point of crisis, but in the end there is a stunning resolution and a “marriage,” which turns out to be very good news for the world that God has created and which He loves. Others have likened it to a heroic epic: The great king, whose kingdom lies in the hands of a destructive usurper, will stop at nothing to win back his kingdom, even if it means laying down his life for his people. These all fall short in the end, though, because there is no other story like this one. Including other books we usually think of as “like” the Bible.
So where should you begin in your investigation of this book? I have a couple of suggestions. First, you might try the very beginning. The Bible is divided into different books – 66 of them – comprising two “testaments.” The Old Testament, also called the Hebrew Bible, was written by the Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham, as they waited for a promise to be fulfilled that was originally issued to him by God. That promise is issued in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament. So you might consider starting there.
Another good starting point is to choose one of the first four books of the New Testament. Called “Gospels,” these four books are like biographies. They tell the story of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth, often called Jesus Christ. Christ is just a title, from a Greek translation of the Hebrew title “Messiah,” which means “anointed one.” The Gospels are named for their authors – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew and John were two of Jesus’s closest friends, and like Jesus, they were fellow Jews. John was devout, but before meeting Jesus, Matthew was not; in fact, he was a collaborator with the Roman Empire, extorting taxes from the Jewish people. But both of their lives were changed when they encountered Jesus. I think the same thing might happen for you, too. If you don’t start with Genesis, my suggestion is that you start with Matthew or John’s Gospel.
When you’re done with this book, keep it as your own or to pass it on to another. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.