Rico Tice, Honest Evangelism: How to Talk about Jesus Even When It’s Tough (UK: The Good Book Company, 2015). Paperback, 105 pgs.

downloadIf I love Jesus and delight in God and enjoy fellowship with other Christians and believe in a real heaven and hell, then why don’t I evangelize more? Probing the idols of the heart, Rico Tice’s Honest Evangelism does a wonderful job exposing the hidden reasons why most Christians find the idea of telling people about Jesus either overwhelming or intimidating.

When I was in seminary, I read gobs of books on evangelism. Most of them had one thing in common: God has given you the power to share the gospel, so…get up and do it! Nothing can stop you. But Tice is much more realistic. He writes, “If you are going to talk to people about Jesus, you are going to get hurt. It is going to sever some relationships” (15). The Bible, too, is realistic. Jesus told his disciples that he is sending them out “like sheep among wolves” (Matt. 10:16).

There’s no easy way around this. We need to embrace the fact that we will be counted as “fools” for the sake of Christ. People will hate us and ridicule us. Let’s just be honest about this.

However, that’s not the whole story. The more you are willing to cross what Tice calls the “painline” of evangelism—the point at which it becomes emotionally or physically painful—the more dependent we become on God. Even the Apostle Paul evangelized with weakness and fear and much trembling (1 Cor. 2:3). Just because someone has the “gift of evangelism” doesn’t mean that it’s easy. And Tice would be the first to admit that.

I appreciate the fact that Honest Evangelism doesn’t hold an unrealistic picture of sharing the gospel. It’s, well, honest. But he doesn’t leave you with an overwhelming task either. The second part of the book is filled with practical tips and suggestions on what to say and how to get started—things like “being yourself,” getting equipped with basic theology, and how to engage in conversation. Very helpful!

In a culture of increasing hostility against Christ in the Western world, Honest Evangelism is needed more than ever. In fact, evangelism is part of your discipleship as a follower of Christ. God uses your witness of Christ—even if you fail—as a means by which he grows you in the gospel. I’m thankful that Tice keeps these things in front of the reader throughout.

The only negative I have with the book is that while Tice is extremely (and refreshingly!) biblical in most every point and application, he seems to have had a brain lapse when it comes to the actual gift of salvation itself. For example, he writes, “God gives people this life to make their decision. He treats us as adults, and gives us what we’ve chosen” (37). Where do you find that in Scripture? Of course, there isn’t a reference. Salvation is a gift. We plant and water the gospel; God gives the growth (1 Cor. 3:7). We preach and evangelize, “and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Sinners are not in a “neutral” place; they are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1). God must do a supernatural work in raising dead men to life in Christ. This seems like an obvious omission. But this is a minor criticism.

Honest Evangelism is helpful, encouraging, and it’s making me want to stop writing this review and go talk to my neighbor about Jesus. Peace.

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