Evangelism and the Church – Part 1

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For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. – 1 Corinthians 1:17

How will the modern church fulfill the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to go into the world and preach the gospel?  That’s almost too obvious of a verse to post initially, and most know this verse from memory, yet I just wonder how churches today do it?  Well, I think I know how they do it, but I wonder what they think about how they are doing it…

Evangelism is possibly one of the most intimidating and overwhelming things to do for any believer, especially if they weren’t saved in a somewhat radical fashion.  I’ve known many that were saved and you couldn’t stop them from talking about Christ to everyone they encountered, but let’s be honest, that’s not most of us.  I want to look at a few things that I hope will be helpful if you have honest intentions and desires to actually evangelize those around you.

What exactly is evangelism?

I think most of us have thoughts when we hear the word evangelism, it might bring up images of some lunatic on a box yelling at people. Perhaps that is a form of evangelism depending on the accuracy of the message .but the simplicity of the word is actually quite interesting.  It simply means “good news”.  εὐαγγέλιον euangélion – a good message, i.e. the gospel.

Matthew 4:23 And He went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people. 

Here we see a good description of the gospel.  Jesus taught in the synagogues and proclaimed the gospel of the kingdom.  We see this as a normal pattern of the Lord’s ministry.  Going into a town, engaging the Jews in the synagogue, preaching on the streets and then healing the people.

And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. – Luke 9:6 [1]

We see this pattern established again and again throughout the New Testament. We see it from John the Baptist, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles.  This is the primary pattern employed for spreading the gospel.  There is no way around this if you are to read the Biblical accounts with honesty.

“Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.”  And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach. – Acts 5:20-21

Why the gospel?  What is the significance of the gospel?

Paul tells us something pretty significant about the gospel in his opening remarks in Romans.  He tells us that there really is no other message than the gospel.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16-17

One thing we see is that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.  I guess that’s a good enough reason, but yet we also see that it reveals the righteousness of God.  A clear and concise gospel presentation needs to present the righteousness of God.  If that is lacking the message is not complete.  Paul gives us a very long discourse on the sinfulness of man, letting us know that all will give account and all are without excuse.

What are we to conclude about all of this?  God, in His wisdom, has chosen a very “foolish” way to save people.  He counseled within Himself before time began that it was the plan to draw a people to Himself through the preaching of the gospel to save those who believe.  This is what God has ordained and we need to pay attention.  Primarily, we need to be obedient.

For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  – 1 Corinthians 1:18

Any Christian that is honest about the topic can see the simple way in which the gospel was spread. They may ask if this is the way we should do it today.  Should we seek a different, more pragmatic approach to what God has already ordained?

If this methodology is true and biblical what do we do about it?  If we realize this to be the model that Christ has shown I believe we are only left with one question…  when will you go?

I admit there is fear…

I admit there are questions…

I admit there is much trepidation…

I admit there is the unknown…

But how can it be avoided?  Brothers and sister, we must “Go”…  it is a command.

Next time I’ll outline some biblical methods of evangelism and hope that it helps us overcome our fear and love of self and we can be used by God in the building of His kingdom.

 

Kevin

[1] The gift of healing was to establish the divinity of Christ and to affirm the message of the Apostles to the world.  The narrative is not a prescriptive for us today and if it were we would have people doing as Jesus did and going and healing every disease and affliction among the people as the Matthew 4:23 verse states.

 

Is church membership Biblical?

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Recently I wrote about some friends that had left our church.  I continue wondering why, mostly knowing the answer, but have come to the conclusion they were not willing to pursue church membership and felt some pressure to do so.  The pressure didn’t come from a desire to have them under a thumb or somehow repress their freedoms, although they might believe that.  No, I believe the desire for membership came out of a biblical call to be under authority and willingly submit to church leadership.  I’ve written about this subject once before so I won’t rehash but here is the article authority, obey, submit

Many people want church to be a part of their life, at least on Sunday, and then they want their own life, their independence and freedom to do as they please when they please.  The author of Hebrews tells us this is unprofitable for them (Hebrews 13:17).

Why would it be unprofitable for them?  People really get upset when their lifestyle is being challenged, especially when they are very honorable, lovely and exceptionally moral people.  Possibly and probably they are saved.  It really comes down to one of two things.  They either are saved and in rebellion to God’s Word or they are not saved.  I’ve tried to figure out some middle ground so I could think “good” thoughts, but I don’t see it any other way.  Biblically I mean.  This is why it’s unprofitable, whether unsaved or in rebellion, neither is a good place to be.

The simple act of rebellion certainly calls me to consider their salvation.  Disclaimer: I don’t determine salvation.  God will do His good pleasure and He may use this circumstance to do remarkable work in someone.  That’s not my call, but if an apple tree produces thorns, it’s not an apple tree.  So I must challenge them, in love, to consider their testimony.

I’ve recently commented on another blog that I follow, and really like, about church membership.  I see lots of people calling it things that I don’t believe it is.  I believe God designed us to be in fellowship and He clearly calls us to be under the authority of the church.   Not to oppress us but to free us and to protect us.

Below are two well respected pastors that are of like mind.  These are both short and very powerful.  If you are struggling in this area, consider how God will work in your life when you willingly submit to His will.

Alan Cairns – Is church membership Biblical?

John MacArthur – Importance of church membership 

Kevin