Drinking Deeply

Thursday, March 15, 2007 at 4:32 PM

Evangelism

Sometimes we look at evangelism with the wrong point of view. We ask on their behalf "what must I to be saved?" Of course, the question in itself isn't wrong. It's asked a number of times by different people. (Matthew 19:16, Luke 10:25, Acts 2:37, Acts 16:30)

And of course, Scripture gives us answers too. Check the verses following the above passages. We can also look at Romans 10:9-13, which ends with this:
13For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
Simple right? The problem is when we take this approach of asking on their behalf and we seek to give them the minimum to be saved. Out of this has flowed things like the 4 spiritual laws, various Gospel tracts, the powerpoint Gospel presentation. Now, don't get me wrong. There's a time and a place for these short presentations. The speeches in Acts are all examples of brief and to the point Gospel presentations.

But this is by no means all that evangelism must consist of. The great commission is one of many examples - (emphasis added)

Matthew 28
18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[b] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
We see examples in Acts, where Paul isn't just taking the shotgun approach to preaching the Gospel, but presenting it comprehensively and exhaustively.

Acts 19
8And he entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God. 9But when some became stubborn and continued in unbelief, speaking evil of the Way before the congregation, he withdrew from them and took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus.[c] 10This continued for two years, so that all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.
Acts 20
19 "You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
When we're proclaiming the Gospel, we're not exhorting our hearers to repent and believe in some entity Jesus so they have a ticket to heaven, but we're exhorting our hearers to believe God as He has revealed Himself through the Word so that they may live for Christ. There may be some topics that people may not be as interested in at first (like a careful examination of the translation of logos in John 1), but the whole counsel of God must be brought to bear eventually. We're not making converts, we're making disciples.

The entirety of the Gospel of John is an excellent example. John gives the purpose of his book in John 20:30-31
30Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
But what is John's Gospel about? It's about theology in addition to the life of Christ. We learn of the deity of Christ, the depravity of man, the sovereignty of God, the purpose and plan of God, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. All of these things were written "so that [we] may believe ...and by believing [we] may have life in His name. "

So let's not make lists of "this is what's needed to affirm in order to be saved," or say things like "usually when I talk to unbelievers, I never talk about this, because it's not useful for them." The whole counsel of God is God's Word, and it's useful. There are some that are more important to cover first, but all of it is important and useful, for all of us. Christians and non alike.

Further reading -

Vincent Cheung - Earnest Seeking, Even After Conversion (check out his links at the bottom as well)

Monergism - Evangelism (there's a lot here!)

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