This article was originally posted at The Speak:Truth Project
By Justin Edwards
For several months now, I believe the Lord has been drawing and preparing me to preach in the open air. Through wonderful ministries like Go.Stand.Speak and Living Waters, God has equipped and greatly encouraged me to get “on the box“. I knew the day was coming when I would preach on the street for the first time, and that day came on Friday.
Scott Smith, who had organized an evangelism outreach in Charlotte, NC for the NCAA tournament with Bill Adams of Sports Fan Outreach International. I joined the group on Friday afternoon in front of Time Warner Cable arena, where they were already set up with microphone and speaker. Having fellowshipped and witnessed with a few of the guys for a couple of hours, I was asked if I was ready to preach. Truth be told, I had not planned on preaching on Friday, but as this new group of friends encouraged me and gave me a few pointers, what better day to preach the Gospel than this day? After taking a few minutes to prepare, I prayed that God would strengthen me and give me the words to bring Him glory – and I’m here to tell you our God did not leave me or forsake me. The Holy Spirit was with me every second!
Having learned much from Project Ezra and being drawn to preach from 1st John, I began with the Apostle Paul’s exhortation in 2 Corinthians 13:5,
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.
From there, I gave a brief testimony as a false convert for 22 years, and bridged this into an introduction of 1st John. I then proceeded into chapter 1 verse 5 where the Apostle John tells us,
This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
I have never preached before. And even though I was nervous before I started, and my flesh resisted and was looking for any excuse to not get on the microphone, God empowered me to preach His Word and helped me overcome my flesh. This was one of the most clear experiences I have had to step out on faith. There is no way possible I could have done this on my own, much less have wanted to, but through faith and obedience, God equipped me to serve Him through the proclamation of His Word. Once I got into my testimony and proceeded into 1st John, it was as if I had preached many times before. I was not nervous, and God gave me every word necessary to fulfill His purposes. Amazingly enough and to the glory of God, I preached for 30-45 minutes.
1st John is a beautiful gift God has given us for faith examination and biblical assurance of salvation. As you can see in the first test in verses 5-10, there is a clear contrast between those who give mere lip service to God, who are Christians in name only, and those who by sovereign grace have surrendered to His Lordship and are cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. There are numerous such tests in 1st John, and I found it to be a wonderful book to preach from on Friday.
1st John is also so varied that you have opportunity to touch on many biblical doctrines such as the deity of Christ, saving faith, sanctification, false disciples, perseverance, false conversion, holy living, practical righteousness, deception, sacrificial love, brotherly love, proof of one’s love for God through obedience to His commandments, testing the spirits, defending the faith against cults and heresies, and assurance of salvation. Expositing through 1st John enabled me to preach from many other passages in the New Testament that included godly sorrow, repentance, surrendering to Christ’s Lordship, forgiveness, loving your enemies, hell, the wrath and judgment of God, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Law, mercy, and grace.
All this to say, you will not be short of a sermon by preaching through this epistle!
I share this with you as an encouragement to step out on faith in whatever area of evangelism you find yourself fearful or lacking. I can’t tell you how joyful it was after open-air preaching for the first time, and God gave me every tool I needed, not lacking in anything! God has been molding me, just as He is molding you as “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
A dear brother sent me a message on facebook after I posted a status update about preaching for the first time. It was his first time witnessing one-to-one with a stranger. Just like me, God is helping him overcome his fears, and just like us, God will help you overcome your fears. You just got to trust that He will and step out on faith. To put into perspective what God has done in me recently, this time last year I had never handed a Gospel tract to someone before, much less witnessed to a stranger. Not only that, but public presentation has always been an obstacle for me. But see what God has done?
So what’s keeping you from taking that next step? Every born again believer is commanded to obey the Great Commission, so if one of hundreds of potential fears is holding you back, what are you going to do about it? We shouldn’t and can’t wait for people to come to us for witnessing opportunities. After all, when was the last time you went fishing and the fish jumped in the boat? You have to cast your line into the sea if you are to catch any fish. Are you ready to accomplish your next first?
If you are faithful in prayer and hiding God’s Word in your heart, “the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” (Luke 12:12). We can then “preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2).
I’d like to personally thank Scott Smith, Andrew Burgess, and Alex Burroughs for encouraging me to leap over this hurdle of faith on Friday. Additionally, I’d like to thank in the deepest respect Tony Miano, Chad Williams, Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, Pat Necerato, and the many associated evangelism ministries that God has used to bring me to where I am today in fulfilling the Great Commission. May He eternally receive all the glory, honor, and praise!
If you would like to go through the book of 1st John with other believers, I encourage you to join us as we go through the remainder of the New Testament, beginning with 1st John tomorrow on facebook.