In his book True Evangelism: Winning Souls Through Prayer (Kregel Classics), Lewis Sperry Chafer first approaches evangelism by identifying and discussing the “false forces” in evangelism in Chapter 1. He explains these forces consist of “a false issue”, “a false assurance”, “backsliding”, “discredit to the covenant of God”, and “dishonor to the Spirit of God”. Essentially, this chapter warns the reader of any wrong methods and messaging that were currently being done in evangelism and why they are detrimental. In Chapter 2, Chafer explains salvation is the entire objective in evangelism and discusses that in detail. Chafer then uses the remaining chapters to discuss his view of the essential elements of evangelism and how to implement them to accomplish the objective of salvation. The chapter titles reveal the main ideas of the elements: “Conviction by the Spirit”, “The Prayer of Intercession”, “Suffering with Christ”, and “The Cleansing of the Priests”. He then ends the book with an appeal of what the reader should now do with the information just acquired.
The best quote of the book is “The work is all accomplished by the Spirit; for it is the Spirit Who inspires the prayer which is the only relief for the one who is suffering with Christ through the divinely given burden for the lost; it is the Spirit Who convinces of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment in answer to prayer which He inspires; and it is the Spirit Who meets the willing soul with the power of God in salvation.” (pg. 95) I chose this quote because I felt it summarizes the book well.
One new discovery I learned from the book is the warning of pressing people to make a public confession of faith when they are becoming a new believer. I had not thought about the dangers involved with that. My natural thinking was that of course they had to ultimately make the confession to follow Jesus in their heart, and that is what mattered the most. However, I also thought they proved what was in their heart by performing a public action. I now know not to press or promote the public confession so much, and to let the new believer make that decision without so much voluntary influence from me. That is an immediate personal application I took away from the book.
Another personal application is the reminder of how important intercessory prayer is for saving souls. I work with people in my ministry, and I keep finding myself thinking that the most important part of helping them receive salvation is to tell them about Jesus and demonstrate love. This book was a good reminder the most important part is in fact intercessory prayer.