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HOW TO PREPARE AN EVANGELISTIC SERMON –

FORGOTTEN TRUTHS NEEDED FOR REAL CONVERSIONS

by Dr. C. L. Cagan and Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached by Dr. C. L. Cagan at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, October 21, 2017

“Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry”
(II Timothy 4:5).


The Apostle gave these words to Timothy shortly before Paul was killed under the persecution of the Emperor Nero. Timothy was Paul’s disciple. Paul trained him in the work of the ministry. Timothy became the pastor of the church in the city of Ephesus. Timothy’s main work was to be a pastor.

Timothy did not have the same ministry as “Philip the evangelist” (Acts 21:8). Philip went from place to place. Philip went to Samaria and preached Christ there (Acts 8:5). Then Philip went into the desert and led the Ethiopian Eunuch to Christ (Acts 8:26-39). Then Philip preached in other cities (Acts 8:40). Philip was a traveling evangelist. Timothy was the pastor of one local church.

Why did Paul tell Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist”? Because every pastor is called to do the work of an evangelist! Paul told Timothy to “make full proof of [his] ministry” (II Timothy 4:5). What was the full proof of his ministry? Doing the work of an evangelist! Every pastor is called to do the work of an evangelist. If you don’t do it, you are not doing all that God has commanded you to do!

Every pastor preaches in his church. That is his calling. And every pastor must preach evangelistic sermons in his church – and preach them often! If you leave the Gospel to a Sunday School class a few times a year, you are not a faithful preacher. If all you do is teach the people, you are not a faithful preacher. Your ministry is not just teaching the Bible. You must do the work of an evangelist. You must preach evangelistic sermons, and do it regularly.

What is an evangelistic sermon? An evangelistic sermon is aimed directly at lost people in the congregation, of which there are always many in every service, although some of them come to church every week. The entire evangelistic sermon proclaims the truth about sin and salvation in Christ – so that lost people who hear it will trust Jesus and be saved. An evangelistic sermon is not an expository sermon on several verses of Scripture. Pick one or two verses to preach from. Evangelistic sermons focus on the truth of one or two verses at most. Expositions of many verses are not evangelistic sermons. Study the evangelistic sermons of Spurgeon. None of them are what we call “expository” sermons today. In the Book of Acts every sermon but one was an evangelistic sermon. There is only one “expository” sermon in the whole Book of Acts! We should follow the example of the Apostles and Spurgeon when we preach evangelistic sermons!

Evangelistic sermons should be preached not taught. The Greek word for “preach” in II Timothy 4:2 is a different word from “teach” in verse three. Preaching in a loud voice is necessary in real evangelistic sermons. When Peter preached an evangelistic sermon on the Day of Pentecost he “lifted up his voice” (Acts 2:14). We must lift up our voices too when preaching to lost sinners.

Very few pastors today preach evangelistic sermons. Many don’t preach them at all. In America we seldom hear evangelistic sermons today. And it’s not much different in other countries. Pastors teach the Bible to their people – or they preach on healings, prosperity, and how to feel good – anything but the Gospel of Christ! They are not obeying the Bible, which says, “Do the work of an evangelist.”

You may say, “But how can I prepare an evangelistic sermon? What should I do?” That’s what this message is about. I’m going to tell you how to preach an evangelistic sermon.

An evangelistic sermon is a Gospel-centered sermon. What is a Gospel sermon? To preach the Gospel you must know what the Gospel is. The Apostle Paul said,

“I declare unto you the gospel... how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:1, 3, 4).

Again, the Apostle Paul said,

“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).

There are two parts in an evangelistic sermon. First, the problem of man’s sin; and second, what Christ did to save people from their sin.

I. First, you must preach the law – which tells people of their sinful hearts.

In the first part of an evangelistic sermon, you must preach the law. Why should someone trust Jesus? What’s the reason? Why did Jesus die on the Cross? Many sermons tell people to trust Jesus so they can have a better life, or be happy, or find love and friendship. But that’s not why Jesus died on the Cross! Some sermons tell people to trust Jesus so they can go to Heaven. But that is not a Gospel message if it doesn’t say why they need Jesus to go to Heaven. The Bible says, “Christ died for our sins.” The Bible says, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

If people don’t feel that they are sinners, why should they come to Christ? They won’t! They may pray a prayer. They may raise their hand. They may walk forward at the end of a sermon. But they won’t be saved! Why? Because they have nothing to be saved from!

How can you show people that they’re sinners? By preaching the law of God to them. The Bible says,

“The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24).

The law shows people they are sinners. After they are convicted of the sin of their hearts, they may come to Christ.

Many pastors are afraid to preach the law. They are afraid of making people angry. Iain H. Murray said this is “The Main Problem in Evangelism.” In his book, The Old Evangelicalism (Banner of Truth, 2005; read pages 3 through 37), Murray correctly tells us that fear of offending the lost is the main reason evangelistic preaching is so ineffective today.

Whatever you do, don’t preach against individual sins. “Do this. Don’t do that.” This is talking about people’s actual, or specific sins. But sin goes much deeper. They are sinners inside. They have a sinful heart, inherited from Adam. That’s why David said, “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). That’s why the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9). And the Bible says, “The carnal [unconverted] mind is enmity against God” (Romans 8:7). That’s why people do the bad things they do. What they do comes out of what they are. Christ said, “Out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders... All these evil things come from within” (Mark 7:21, 23). Far deeper than what people do is what they are. Even if someone tries to be better, he can never change his heart, any more than a goat can change himself into a sheep. People cannot be taught to be Christians. They have to be preached into it, as I explain in this sermon. God condemns the human heart as well as human actions. The Bible says, “They are all under sin” (Romans 3:9). Everyone is under the power and penalty of sin before conversion.

You must preach the law so that people will see and feel that their hearts are sinful. Now, everyone admits they’re sinners in some way. I never met anyone who claimed to be perfect. One man said to a preacher, “I suppose I am [a sinner], but I’m not what you could call a bad sinner. I am, I think, rather a good one. I always try to do the best I know.” That man was not ready to be saved! Before he can be saved, he needs to see that he is a “bad” sinner. That’s why you must preach on their sinful hearts.

Without the law of God, people won’t see why they need the Gospel of Christ. That’s why you must preach the law before you preach the Gospel. The Bible says, “The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” (Galatians 3:24). Like a schoolteacher, the law shows people why they need Christ. First the law. Then the Gospel. What Luther said was exactly right. You should study carefully what he said if you want to learn how to preach evangelistic sermons. Luther said,

It is necessary, if you would be converted, that you become [troubled], that is, that you have an alarmed and trembling conscience. Then, after this condition has been created, you must grasp the consolation that comes not from any work of your own but from the work of God. He sent His Son Jesus into this world in order to proclaim to terrified sinners the mercy of God. This is the way of conversion. All other ways are false ways (Martin Luther, Th.D., What Luther Says, Concordia Publishing House, 1994 reprint, Number 1014, page 343).

I said, “You must preach the law so that people will see and feel their inward sin.” I did not say, “You must preach about Hell.” Yes, Christ talked about Hell. Hell is real. But you must be careful when you preach about Hell. No one will be saved by being afraid of Hell. They may try to be better people. They may become very religious. But being afraid of Hell never saved anyone. Christ died for our sins. Hell is only a result of sin. The real problem is sin, not Hell. We have found that whole sermons on Hell do not convert people. The first part of an evangelistic sermon should expose their sin – not just individual sins, but the sin of their hearts.

To show people their sin, you must preach against their sinful, rebellious hearts. But you must not end there. The law cannot save anyone. The law only shows people the sin of their hearts. The Bible says, “By the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified...for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). The Bible says that saving people is “what the law could not do” (Romans 8:3). Only Christ Himself can change the sinner’s heart. Only the Blood of Christ can wash away sin. And that brings me to the second point.

II. Second, you must preach the Gospel – which tells people what Christ did to save them from sin.

In the second part of your evangelistic sermon, you must preach the Gospel. The Gospel is not a teaching on how to be better. The Gospel is not a message about the church, or even about Heaven. The Gospel is that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:3). The Gospel is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (I Timothy 1:15).

The Gospel is not a set of rules. The Gospel shows that God loves the sinner so much that Christ came to die for him. The Gospel is not made out of law. It is pure love and grace. As Luther said,

The Gospel...does not preach what we are to do or to avoid. It sets up no requirements but reverses the approach of the law, does the very opposite, and says, ‘This is what God has done for you; he has let his Son be made flesh for you, has let him be put to death for your sake’...the Gospel teaches... what has been given us by God, and not...what we are to do and give to God (“How Christians Should Regard Moses,” 1525).

The Gospel offers a sinner a new heart, and the forgiveness of sin through what Christ did on the Cross and at the empty tomb! The person who trusts Jesus is

“justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation [a payment for sin] through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:24, 25).

The Bible says that “God [shows] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us... [we are] now justified by his blood” (Romans 5:8, 9). Christ died in the sinner’s place to pay for his sin. As Isaiah said, “The Lord hath laid on him [Christ] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). The Gospel is the free grace of forgiveness of sin by Jesus Christ.

When you preach the Gospel, don’t just preach the death of Christ. Preach the resurrection of Christ! It is part of the Gospel that Christ “rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (I Corinthians 15:4). The resurrection of Christ is essential. The Bible says, “If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins” (I Corinthians 15:17). Christ did not stay dead in His tomb. He rose from the dead to give sinners a new heart (see Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26, 27).

Don’t just preach the death of Christ. Preach the Blood of Christ! Remember that people are saved “through faith in his blood” (Romans 3:25). We are “justified by his blood” (Romans 5:9). And the Bible says, “Without shedding of blood is no remission [no forgiveness]” (Hebrews 9:22). It amazes me that so many preachers follow Dr. John MacArthur when he says the Blood of Christ is not needed for salvation, and that there is no Blood of Christ today. But faithful and good pastors preach the Blood of Christ! Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was right when he said, “In periods of revival...[the church] makes her boast in the blood...there is only one way in which we can enter with boldness into the holiest [place] of all, and that is by the blood of Jesus” (Revival, Crossway Books, 1992 edition, p. 48). Preach the Blood! Preach the Blood! “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).

The Gospel is the free gift of God’s grace in Christ. The sinner cannot make himself good. There is only one thing the sinner has to do. He must trust Jesus. Just believing a fact about Christ will not save him. He must trust Jesus Himself. The Apostle Paul said to the Philippian jailor, “Believe on [Greek epi = upon, into] the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31). If a sinner trusts Jesus, he will be saved. And all the sinner must do is trust Christ. Jesus does everything else. He gives the sinner a new heart at the new birth (Ephesians 2:5; John 3:6, 7) and He cleanses the sinner from all sin with His Blood (Hebrews 9:14; Revelation 1:5b; 5:9b). “Only trust Him, Only trust Him, Only trust Him now. He will save you, He will save you, He will save you now” (“Only Trust Him” by John H. Stockton, 1813-1877).

At the end of your sermon, call upon the sinners to trust Jesus. Invite them to go into another room where you will speak with them privately. Your work is not done when they come to speak with you. “Coming forward” is not the same as trusting Jesus. “Raising the hand” or saying a “sinner’s prayer” is not the same as trusting Jesus. Trusting Jesus is trusting Jesus – nothing else. That’s why you must speak with the people who respond to your invitation after the sermon. And that is also why you must listen to them carefully as well. By listening you will learn the false ideas they believe, so you can correct them. Talk with each one personally and do your best to lead him to Christ. But that is the subject of another message. May God bless you as you preach on the sins of the heart and forgiveness through Christ’s Blood. Lift up your voice and preach the Gospel with power, like the old-time preachers did! Click here to watch a video of Dr. Hymers preaching “Wash and Be Clean!

Click here to read an evangelistic sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr. Dr. Hymers has been preaching evangelistic sermons for sixty years. You can learn a lot by reading his evangelistic sermon, “Wash and Be Clean! – A Typology of Conversion”. Click the title to read it. It will show you how to preach the law and the Gospel in an evangelistic sermon.


WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith Before the Sermon:
“When I See the Blood” (by John Foote, 19th century).


THE OUTLINE OF

HOW TO PREPARE AN EVANGELISTIC SERMON –

FORGOTTEN TRUTHS NEEDED FOR REAL CONVERSIONS

by Dr. C. L. Cagan and Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry”
(II Timothy 4:5).

(Acts 21:8; 8:5, 26-39, 40; Acts 2:14; I Corinthians 15:1, 3, 4;
I Timothy 1:15)

I.   First, you must preach the law – which tells people of their sinful
hearts, Galatians 3:24; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9; Romans 8:7;
Mark 7:21, 23; Romans 3:9, 20; 8:3.

II.  Second, you must preach the Gospel – which tells people what
Christ did to save them from sin, I Corinthians 15:3;
I Timothy 1:15; Romans 3:24, 25; 5:8, 9; Isaiah 53:6;
I Corinthians 15:4, 17; Ezekiel 11:19; 36:26, 27; Hebrews 9:22;
I John 1:7; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:5; John 3:6, 7;
Hebrews 9:14; Revelation 1:5b; 5:9b.