Contend Earnestly: 5 Things That Aren't Evangelism

Saturday, February 07, 2009

5 Things That Aren't Evangelism

I think I am going to start calling Saturday's, "Stealing on Saturday's". It seems I really like to steal stuff on Saturdays, and this one is no different. I stole this from Desiring God. Here are some notes from Dever's message, which I am not sure I completely agree with. Because next week I am going to start posting on Evangelism for Today, I thought this would be a good lead in for discussion. What are your thoughts?

5 Things We Can Mistake for Evangelism

1) Imposition

We mistakenly take evangelism to be manipulation. But that's what the world says. In truth, we're not trying to impose our beliefs on anybody. Biblically, we can't impose our beliefs on anybody. Force and coercion cannot finally bring about the change that God demands. You can't expand Christianity by the sword. Evangelism is not some sort of intellectual imposition.
To believe that something is true and to share that with others is not coercion. We don't impose when we evangelize. We freely offer it to all and do not, cannot, force it on anybody.

2) Personal Testimony

A personal testimony is a wonderful thing. The Bible is full of examples of it, and we should testify to the wonderful experience of receiving God's mercy.

But consider John 9 and the man born blind. He gives his testimony but doesn't even know who Jesus is. His words glorify God, but they don't present the gospel. This is not evangelism.

Unless you're explicit about Jesus Christ and the cross then it is not the gospel.

3) Social Action / Public Involvement

Mercy ministries display God's kindness, and they are good and appropriate for the Christian to do. But such actions are not evangelism. They may commend the gospel to others, but only if someone has told them the gospel. They need to have the gospel added to them. Helping others or doing our jobs well, whatever they are, in and of themselves are not evangelism.

4) Apologetics

Apologetics are valuable, but they have their own set of dangers. You can get bogged down in talking about purely intellectual or peripheral matters and never get to the gospel.

It's fine for us to talk with unbelieving friends about questions that they have, but our attempts to try and answer them without setting the gospel as the foundation does no good. Jesus must set the agenda for evangelism.

5) The Results of Evangelism

For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, 16 to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things?

2 Corinthians 2:15

Note that the same ministry has two different effects. It's like the parable of the soil: same seed, different results.

We cannot finally judge the correctness of what we do by the immediate response that we get. The need for numbers puts an unnecessary stress on pastors and misunderstands the way that God saves.

We must practice our ministries realizing that some of us will be like Adoniram Judson or William Carey, who had no converts until after seven years of faithful gospel ministry. It's a fact that most people don't believe the gospel the first time they hear it.

Don't let the gospel that you preach be molded by what it is that gets an immediate response. Preach the gospel, trying to persuade--pleading for your hearers to believe--but knowing that you cannot convert a person. And then let God do with it what he will. He alone can call the dead to life. The gospel is powerful, and God is committed to using us to spread this good news.


Anonymous said...

A wonderful set of reminders. I have bounced around all of these modes of Christian action while trying to grasp exactly how we can harness them for evangelism. Your conclusion is right: the gospel, Christ crucified for us, simply must be at the center of every interaction that you intend for evangelism. That's one of the reasons why I am glad that NewSpring Church, where I am a campus pastor, makes frequent gospel presentations ... and there's rarely a week where the gospel isn't at least referred to.

Anonymous said...

Ipip: What do you talk about when oyu are not talkn aobut the Gospel?

This is not meant to be a slam but in Dever's understnading as well as many others the Gospel is not limited to a salvation presentation but is the fulness of the work of Christ on every page of scripture. We all need the gospel. If you are not always preaching the gospel in every message you are being unfaithful.

If you are at NewSpring with P. Nobel, I am not suggesting that is what you are doing, cause i have heard Perry and quite enjoy it, he preaches Jesus. But I just wanted you to be aware of over minimization of the gospel. As Christians we only have one message.

The Gospel not just what we need to be saved, it is what we need to breath and live...I came to Christ when I was four, but I need the Gospel everyday.


Anonymous said...

Great post. It's one of those things you already know, in the back of your mind or in your heart. Then to have it said go..DUH! Oh yeah, wish I said that...better yet wish I done that.

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