The Old Testament is rich in describing Christian evangelism. This wealth complements New Testament teaching and practice. The Old Testament encourages an unusually bold witness in many ways. For example, there are at least six “do nots” for evangelism in the Old Testament that describe the bold witness that we find lived out on the pages of the New Testament.
- Be Not Afraid
“O Zion, You who bring good tidings, Get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, You who bring good tidings, Lift up your voice with strength, Lift it up, be not afraid; Say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’” Isaiah 40:9.
God told the seasoned evangelist, the Apostle Paul, “Be not afraid, but go on speaking and do not keep silent.” Acts 18:9. Be not afraid seems to be the first and foremost message that the Holy Spirit would speak to Christ followers in the face of an evangelism opportunity.
- Do Not Restrain Your Lips
“I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness In the great assembly; Indeed, I do not restrain my lips, O Lord, You Yourself know.” Psalm 40:9.
The fear of man leads to a deceptively pious restraint. This restraint takes on many faces: “Is now the best time? Maybe God will give me a better opportunity tomorrow?” “Perhaps I have not yet built up a proper relationship with this person.” “I don’t think that they are not really interested in spiritual things anyways.” King David in Psalm 40 affirmed, “Indeed, I did not restrain my lips.”
- Do Not Hide
“I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation.” Psalm 40:10.
The rulers of the Jews in John 12 hid their faith in Jesus, lest they be put out of the synaguogue. Their course of action was not confirmed by the Holy Spirit. Rather it was condemned. “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:42-43. King David did not hide the righteousness of God in His heart, but rather, he openly declared His salvation.
- Do Not Conceal
“I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth From the great assembly.” Psalm 40:10.
Right in the heels of “hiding” our knowledge of God and His salvation in our hearts, David continued synonymously. He affirmed that he had not “concealed” the love of God and the truth of God from the great assembly. King David remembered that he had not kept “concealed” within himself the glorious knowledge of the grace and truth of God.
- Do Not Be Silent
“On your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent.” Isaiah 62:6.
God combined His words from both Isaiah 62 and Isaiah 40 (as noted above), when he told Paul in the night by a vision, “Be not afraid, but go on speaking and do not keep silent.” Acts 18:9. Once fear has chilled the heart of the Christian, his lips freeze shut in silence. On the other hand, when told to keep silent, Peter and John stated, “We cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20. God commanded Paul, “Be not silent.”
- Do Not Rest
“You who put the Lord in remembrance, take no rest.” Isaiah 62:6.
Ultimately, our Blessed Hope is a heavenly rest. Our hope is not for a comfortable earthly rest. The Christian must put to death the selfish indulgence of laziness. While keeping all the responsibilities of life in a proper balance, particular attention needs to be taken to assure that we are not living in sloth evangelistically. Living a godly lifestyle, while necessary, is not a substitute for verbal evangelistic activity. So much have I felt this drift toward neglect within myself, that I purposefully carve out time for initiative evangelism into my regular weekly schedule—admittedly, the Coronavirus Pandemic and my wife’s simultaneous pneumonia has put a temporary hold on this activity. God commands His people, “Take no rest.”
Six “do nots” from the Lord from the Old Testament: be not afraid, do not restrain your lips, do not hide, do not conceal, do not be silent, and do not rest. A powerful message from the Holy Spirit. May these be taken as divine encouragement for all of God’s children.