Evangelism and the Church – Part 1

Evangelism-660x330-e1467035966534

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.

 

εὐαγγέλιον – And God Ordained Encounters

Man_holding_Bible_and_sporting_Jesus_Saves_sign_on_his_hat

And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear… – 1 Peter 3:13-15

I haven’t written a post in a while but I felt compelled to share good news today.   The verse above is one of the most well known “evangelism” verses, however most only quote the second half. They sort of forget about the suffering and the threats and troubles that come along with evangelism.   I’ve been engaged in street evangelism and open air proclamation of the gospel for over a year now and my knowledge and boldness grows each time I got out. Disclaimer: this article is not about me.

I write today to encourage Christians. Those that have truly been bought by the blood of Christ. Some of you might evangelize. Some of you might evangelize a little, and some of you may not at all. But I want to encourage you today. I want to tell you what God has done. I want to give you hope that your efforts, no matter how small, are never in vain. The simple act of passing a gospel tract to someone can change their life for all eternity. I will quote my friend Tony Miano and we should never use the four letter word “only”. I “only” passed out tracts. No, if you passed out a tract, you presented the gospel to someone and that is a significant event. That is to the praise of His glory, and should never be minimized.

Today, is Thursday and it’s normally Emma Goldman day. It’s a wretched place that systematically kills babies.    I could go into a long why we didn’t go to EG today, but the bottom line is that God had another plan. It was decided we (Donnie, Roy & me) would meet at the church at 11 and walk the streets of downtown Davenport for a couple hours, passing out tracts and attempting to engage people in gospel conversations. That was our plan. As we pulled up to a snowy sidewalk I asked the guys to pray. I was particularly moved to seek the Lord’s guidance today that He would arrange our encounters and that we would practice 1 Timothy 2:24-25. That we would be gentle and compassionate.

Encounter 1. Demon possessed Vietnam Veteran. No more than 30 seconds after getting out of the truck I attempted to hand a man a tract and he began yelling and cursing at me.   The three of us attempted to reason with him but he was having none of it. He claimed to be a Catholic, showed us his crucifix and repeated a prayer that he says each day, and though his lips may honor the Lord, his heart was far from him. Especially as he repeatedly used the Lord’s name in a vulgar manner. We walked away humbled and dismayed at the anger in this man and prayed the Lord would be merciful to his soul.

Encounter 2. Alan. We moved up to 4th St. and walked past the Scott County Courthouse and one man got semi-angry with brother Roy as he attempted to give him the gospel and then I saw Alan and asked him if I could give him some good news. He refused. I turned and said to him, “sir may I ask you, what would happen if you died today, do you know where you will spend eternity?” He turned and said to me “No, I do not know.” Quick rabbit trail: friends, never let an immediate “no” discourage you. Always ask a follow up question if you can, you will be surprised at how one question can change things. I like to ask if they know what happens when they die, or if they have been born again.

Alan, listened intently as I presented the law and the gospel to him and urged him to repent of his sins and place his faith in Christ. He never took his eyes off of me and he seemed genuinely moved by the encounter. I asked if he had a church home and invited him to join us this weekend.

Encounter 3. Neicey. We turned left from the courthouse and headed toward the river front and walked past a short black woman in a huge orange coat. The hood was pulled up and under the big puffy coat she was bundled up even more. I could hardly see her face. Donnie handed her a tract and I believe she declined the initial offering. Donnie pressed the issue and asked her if she knew where she was headed after death. Without hesitation she said “Hell”.   Not in a prideful way, but in an almost sheepish way. I asked her if she knows what hell is like? She said, no, but I expect you are going to tell me. I described hell as the bible describes it. Utter darkness, no relief from the torment, eternal conscious suffering, with nothing good there. I said God provides us with goodness here on earth even if we don’t believe in Him, and just then the sun came out and warmed us and I said, see how He just provided His grace to us?

She began to describe that she couldn’t be forgiven because she was a murderer and had actually spent time in prison for killing someone and that this morning she had prayed and asked God if it was possible she could be forgiven and that He would send someone to tell her. She said she expected it would come from being in a church, but would have never expected three men on the street to show her the way of salvation. I described to her that Paul was a murderer and read to her from the book of Acts how he consented to the death of Stephen and while still breathing out his murderous threats the Lord Jesus Christ reached down and saved him. We told her the law is a tutor to bring a sinner to the grace of God and that she needed to repent and turn to Christ. She began weeping.

The conversation continued for some time and we all pleaded with her to trust in Christ and we asked her to join us in church to hear the preaching of the word, to enjoy the fellowship of the saints. I encouraged her to open her bible to Psalm 51 and read about David the murderer and adulterer and to cry out to God for His mercy and forgiveness.  As we prayed for her and then walked away the three of us were nearly speechless considering the goodness of God, His providence and an encounter that we will not soon forget.

We had several more encounters throughout our time and as we walked back toward the truck I attempted to hand some tracts to some people that were dressed fairly nice. They looked very clean, very nice and as I asked them to take a tract they politely declined. I pressed them. “Do you know what will happen to you when you die?” “No thank you” was their reply. I said, I hope you’ll consider that question today.

How about you? Will you consider that question today?

“A certain man gave a great supper and invited many, and sent his servant at supper time to say to those who were invited, ‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one according began to make excuses…

Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind,’…

Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say to you that none of those men who were invited shall taste my supper.'” – Luke 14:16-24

Will you come in? Will you dine with Him? Will you understand that you are blind, maimed and poor? Very few understand their condition.

If you are a Christian will you tell others that they might be saved?

 

Kevin

Should I Preach?

preach-the-word

What does it mean to preach, I mean after all it sounds so “preachy” and kind of harsh. I started thinking of things like being called a “Bible Thumper”, or “Holier than Thou”… My flesh cries out against this idea because it’s just not politically correct or culturally relevant. How many of today’s buzz words can I employ that convince myself and you that this is just not the way to go about it? Shouldn’t we be “relational” and utilize “friendship evangelism”? Shouldn’t we “invite” them to church, or have them attend a less hostile atmosphere, make it cozy and comfortable? Isn’t this a better method in the modern age?

Preaching seems to be something only reserved for those that get paid to stand in front of a church congregation. In a stodgy old building, and he or in some cases she, but we can discuss that another day, wear a suit and a tie and yell at people for an hour. Wouldn’t it better if that guy would come down to our level and wore a cool t-shirt and skinny jeans? He could be more conversational, and make it a little more relaxing? It seems that would be more effective.

Should the Bible get in the way of what we think works? Don’t get me wrong, I think evangelizing to friends is a great thing, but it’s not the only way and it shouldn’t even be the primary way. If we believe the Bible, shouldn’t we do what it says? Shouldn’t we use the language it uses? After all it is the Word of God right? Should we do as Paul said “imitate me as I imitate Christ”?

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17

The word “preach” used here is Kēryssō

  1. to be a herald, to officiate as a herald
    1. to proclaim after the manner of a herald
    2. always with the suggestion of formality, gravity and an authority which must be listened to and obeyed
  2. to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done
  3. used of the public proclamation of the gospel and matters pertaining to it, made by John the Baptist, by Jesus, by the apostles and other Christian teachers

Did you catch the part about gravity and authority? Jesus preached with authority and gravity, He demanded a response from His listeners. Jesus never gave people a pass, He wasn’t that gentle little mouse that people make Him out to be, that gives everyone a hug and tells them it’ll be okay. When they encountered Him it was to be confronted with their sin and be forced to make a decision about their condition. He used different techniques depending on His audience, but He always preached with gravity.

Mark 1:4 John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sin.

Acts 8:5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news; it is something to be proclaimed with authority and demand a response, so that some might be saved. If you are a believer it’s your job. It’s why you were saved. Not all are going to stand on a street corner and proclaim the news, but some will and some should. The meaning of the word calls for it, and the early church understood this. Paul knew it, and he lived it. And it didn’t take him very long to get to it.

Acts 9:20-21 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, “is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose…”

No time to think about it, not time to reconsider, or even hesitate, Paul just gets up and starts preaching…what a remarkable event.

But what do we preach?

But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent.” – Luke 4:43

This word is euaggelizō and it’s the “good news”, we must preach the good news, after all its news right? (Voddie Baucham – loosely quoted) Shouldn’t we be talking about news, especially good news? Christ must be preached, and the kingdom of God must be proclaimed as the only way of salvation. Are you willing?

Not all are called to preach from the pulpit, not all are called to preach in open air, or in the public arena, but we are all called to preach.

If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ!

This might mean friendship evangelism for some and maybe for most, at the very least, but it means what it says, and preaching is proclaiming with gravity and authority, and demanding a response. Doesn’t that seem weightier than “sharing” the gospel?

The only time the word share is used in the New Testament it has to do with sharing in other’s sins, or actual sharing of goods, so I’m going to do my best to drop this word from my vocabulary as it relates to the gospel.

I will preach the gospel, and I will proclaim the gospel, and maybe on occasion I’ll share the gospel, but I think preaching is just more manly and more Christ like, and more Paul like, so I’m going to try and be like them.

Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. – 2 Timothy 4:2

Kevin