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.

 

Don’t Stop Short…

stopshortAlmost anyone that claims any sort of knowledge of the Bible or Christianity knows the Great Commission. Jesus commissioned His followers to spread the good news of salvation to the world. It is the greatest responsibility of anyone that claims His name. In short it is why this blog exists and it is why you have been redeemed, assuming that is the case.

I would image that most professing Christians can even recite this verse from memory…almost!

Here is the problem, in my opinion. They stop short. (side note: if you are a Seinfeld fan you will get the reference, if not, never mind…)

Let’s look at what I mean by that.

Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came and spoke to them saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”

They stop short right here. By simply stopping right here the seriousness of the message our Lord is giving us and giving them has been undermined. The message is REALLY good up to this point. Look at what Jesus has said.

“Go” – poreuomai (to go, to travel, to take a journey, to go one’s way) We shouldn’t be sitting in our houses hoping someone like a Jehovah’s Witness will knock on our door so we can share the gospel. We are “commissioned” by Jesus to be travelers for His name.

What are we to go do? Make disciples. This is not to be confused with the twelve Disciples, minus Judas. The word means a pupil, or a learner, one who desires to learn, such as a scholar. If someone desires to learn someone needs to be instructing them.

In this post we won’t discuss baptism, but simply there is an order to follow once someone believes and that includes a public profession of faith by being baptized, but where I think is most often a “wiff” in Christianity, and this is where we stop short, is failing to recite verse 20.

…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

Do we see the stark contrast between going, then teaching but not commanding them to observe Christ’s commands? Many a misguided mission trip forgets that there is a call to obedience. This often omitted part of the Great Commission is really the lynchpin on which it all hangs. If obedience is not mentioned then Jesus is only a “savior” and not Lord. The whole truth of salvation has been lost. If Jesus is not your Lord, then He’s NOT your savior, and a Lord demands obedience.

A social or cultural gospel that does not require obedience doesn’t save…

It’s why there are so many running around shouting their little Antinomian battle calls, and crying foul and legalist the moment you bring up sin. It’s the biggest mistake in most of modern day evangelicalism. It’s a gospel without any teeth, a “jesus” that requires nothing of anybody, is completely unoffensive and sits around drinking latte’s and telling jokes with the sinners. How many times have you heard that?

“Well Jesus condemned you Pharisee’s and hung out with the sinners!” Yes, correct but He called them to repentance and told the harlot to go and sin no more… He didn’t hate her enough to say, “why don’t you go finish your tryst and stop by later for coffee and we can chat.”

Not THE Jesus, not the Triune Jesus… He demands our obedience and says He will cast those into hell that practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:23).

So if you have an opportunity to Preach the Word today, don’t forget to tell them they must observe all He commanded. Jesus did not take on the wrath of God and drink it down to the dregs so we could “dabble” in sin, He hates sin and those that practice sin will not inherit God’s kingdom.

Luke 13:2-3 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

That’s the gospel Jesus preached, let’s see that we do likewise.

 

Kevin