EULESS?”Evangelism is going to the battlefield where prayer has been and picking up the spoils of war,” Don Harms told those gathered at the Empower Evangelism Conference on Feb. 17. “Real evangelism is preceded by prayer.”
Harms, pastor of First Baptist Church, Porter, in suburban Houston, began his sermon titled “A Recipe for Revival and Requirements for Real Evangelism,” by describing the apostles’ steadfastness in preaching the gospel before the Jewish Sanhedrin as told in Acts 4:13.
“The Bible says they took note of them that they had been with Jesus. That’s the premium. Can the world tell you’ve been with him?”
Harms explained that deeper into the chapter, after the believers’ gathered for prayer, Acts says the place where they were praying was shaken and they were filled with the Holy Spirit.
Harms added, “Every revival that I can ascertain in the Word of God was preceded by prayer.”
The book of Judges is a never ending cycle of Israel falling into sin and despair followed by repentance and revival, Harms said, noting also that the rebuilding of Jerusalem in Nehemiah’s day and God’s show of power with Paul and Silas’ in the Philippian jail were preceded by fervent prayer.
In Acts, “the ground shook and the shackles fell off and revival happened right there,” he said. “The same is true in our churches today. If revival is going to come, if we are going to reap a harvest of souls, then prayer is essential.”
“We live in a time when people talk about revival and evangelism and do very little praying for it. The Bible said that when they had prayed, the place was shaken. Let me ask you a question you don’t want to answer: Have you shaken any places lately? Has your church shaken any places lately?”
Harms told of praying, prior to a series of revival meetings, over every seat in the small church where he pastored in Stanford years ago.
“When that revival had closed, we had baptized more people than attended our church on any given Sunday. God was at work. My friend, prayer is the answer.”
Additionally, real evangelism is powered by the Paraklete?the Holy Spirit, Harms said.
As a young pastor Harms said he tried to imitate Billy Graham in the same way many young preachers try to mimic someone they admire.
“Listen folks, those who say cute things are a dime a dozen, but the premium is to have the power of God on your life.”
Quoting Romans 5:5, which states: “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us,” Harms added, “I contend that our congregations must be like this today. And our power comes from above, it does not come from within.”
Real evangelism is also propagated by the Word of God and permeated with the gospel message, Harms said.
“Have you every noticed how many times Jesus quoted Old Testament Scripture? Every sermon in the book of Acts is based on the Word of God as they knew it. And yet some sermons are just stories. Actually, they are illustrations with Scripture enveloping it and building around it.
“People don’t come to church to be entertained; they come to hear ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ The Word of God transforms people’s lives.”
Harms said Paul’s simple advice to Timothy to “preach the Word” is as relevant as ever.
“And my friend, the best thing you can do, as best as you know how?you may be a college student, you may have never have gone to college at all?just get in the Word of God and tell your people what God has told you. You don’t have to put it out in homiletical form. You don’t have to have an outline. You don’t have to be cute about it. Just stand up and preach your heart out and people will come to Christ because God honors his Word.”
The simple gospel message should be included somewhere in every sermon, Harms said.
“Our church is culturally relevant. Our church addresses real-life problems that people face today. But we address problems in light of the Scripture and in every case Jesus Christ is presented as Savior and Lord. I think every church service ought to be one where if a lost man walked in he could hear enough gospel to get saved.”
He said that on Jan. 20, 1963, he walked into a church in Alaska, where he was stationed in the military, having never been to church or ever read a Bible verse for himself. Before he left that night, he was born again.