I once heard Timothy Keller compare our work of evangelism with Elijah’s work of building the altar at Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 18. Elijah built the altar, but it was God who sent the fire. Elijah couldn’t send the fire.
In the same way, when it comes to evangelism, it is God who “sends the fire.” God pours out his Spirit. God opens the heart of the person hearing the good news (Acts 16:14). God sovereignly and supernaturally rebirths the person, moving them from darkness to light, from death to life (Ephesians 2:5).
Only God can send the fire. But as Keller points out, Elijah still had to build the altar. In the same way, we also have our part to play in evangelism. The gospel belongs to God. But he chooses to use us to tell it in our natural and mundane human words—using our own personal relationships, listening skills, personalities, experiences, stories, emotions, and gospel outlines. This is why Paul also calls it “my gospel, the message I proclaim about Jesus Christ” (Romans 16:25, emphasis added).
Chan, Sam, and Ed Stetzer. 2020. How to Talk about Jesus (without Being That Guy): Personal Evangelism in a Skeptical World. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Check out our Bible Study on Sam Chan’s book How to Talk About Jesus. It is on Amazon as well as part of the Good Questions Have Groups Talking subscription service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.