Evangelism, Discipleship and the Bible
Sadly, I hear this quote more often than I would like. “We need to be less confrontational in our evangelism efforts. We need to avoid offending people. You catch more flies with honey that with vinegar, after all.” However, though my goal is not to be confrontational, many falsely assume that is my purpose. Today, as always, my goal is to help the Christian, reach the lost, and change culture. The following is another example of what many may take otherwise…
I recently listened to a local church podcast. It is not from a church I attend or have attended. Some would say my listening was divine intervention. I have never listened to this particular podcast. In fact, I had already decided what my podcast subject was going to be for this past Tuesday. Anyway, I am not sure God is that involved in our everyday life. Either way, here are the highlights from the church podcast:
The subject was evangelism, thus my podcast and blog.
People are scared to share the gospel – I agree. Many do not know the gospel.
The church does not need gimmicks – I agree with this as well. The church needs answers! Starting with the gospel and including why Christianity is true. This would help eliminate the fear of sharing.
Cultivating your love – I am not sure what was meant here. My understanding was doing outreach and showing the love of Christ. I have addressed these many times. Being nice is not evangelism.
Are you around non-Christians – I agree with this one too. This does not mean being friends with non-followers. It means doing evangelism. Talking to your neighbor, coworker, strangers etc. Not inviting them to church, which is addressed later, but, literally sharing truth!
Pray for them and tell them you are – I am not sure about this one. I do agree we should pray. I am not sure we should tell people we are praying for them.
How do you know you are a Christian – obviously, I loved this one. Well, not the answer given during the podcast but, the concept. The answer given was the dreaded quote concerning “share the gospel, use words if needed.” See above…
Invite them to church – why? The Bible clearly states “they” do not understand. It is not Biblical. It is our job to share with others. The church is to prepare us to share, in theory.
Came to Christ from a personal relationship – another quote was given concerning 85% of those saved did so from a relationship and invite to church. I am confident this is not how salvation works. Something about the Holy Spirit being involved is Biblical. It does not matter if one believes they chose, Christ chose or otherwise. A move of the Holy Spirit is involved. No one seeks salvation. It is in the book.
So, evangelism and the Bible. I am going to use the bible to show you not to use the bible n evangelism! There are zero evangelistic personal testimonies n the Bible. I know that is what we are taught to use. Just stop! Also, no one in the Bible ever invites someone to church. Again, it is what we have been taught, “tell people how wonderful life has been since you were saved.” We are not promised our “best life now” when becoming a Christian. Share the truth. Tell them why you are a Christian. Provide evidence and reasons to believe Christianity. Most people like to believe things that are true. No one believes something they know to be false.
The gospel is offensive but removing the offense is not the gospel. To share the gospel, we must know what the gospel is. Paul tells us in 1st Corinthians 15:3. And, in Galatians 5:11-12 he expresses his fear of removing the offense of the gospel.
“11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? 12 In that case the offense of the cross has been removed.
Paul understands something we need to realize: the true gospel is offensive to sinful human beings. You cannot remove the offense of the gospel without removing the gospel itself. Paul recognized that it was impossible to share the true gospel without offending the lost.
Paul states in 1 Corinthians 1:23–24, “We preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” The words “stumbling block” and “foolishness” are very similar to the accusation that the gospel is offensive and extreme, and it is true — until the calling of God opens their eyes to see the good news. See above concerning “invites”.
From the Christian Research Institute, CRI, website: “What we call “apologetics” was, in fact, what the apostolic church would have called “evangelism.” Early missionary preaching testified to the historical realities upon which the Christian faith was grounded and called for repentance on those grounds. Consider Peter’s speech to the crowd in Jerusalem at Pentecost (Acts 2:22–25)
22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[a] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,
“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;”
Peter did not testify how Jesus had changed his life or about how blessed he had become. He appealed to the historical record: the miracles done by Jesus (as well as the sign of speaking in other tongues, witnessed by the crowd), the resurrection of Jesus and His empty tomb, and the fulfillment by Jesus of Old Testament prophecy. (Apologetics)
Paul, in fact, advised the Thessalonians to “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5:21). The Bible does not encourage a blind faith and we cannot “prove” God. We have an extremely strong cumulative case based on circumstantial evidence of His truth.
Allow me to share another quote:
“Culture is deeply saturated in three dominant philosophies: relativism, pluralism, and naturalism. Relativism says there is no absolute truth. Religious pluralism says there is no exclusive truth in religion (all views are equally true). Naturalism says there is no supernatural truth.
Do you see a problem in doing evangelism in this cultural climate? We are presenting an absolute truth to a relativistic culture, an exclusivist message to a pluralistic culture, and a supernatural view to a naturalistic culture. It is no surprise that Christians are confronted with questions like, how can Jesus be the only way? Has science proven that miracles are impossible? and Who are you to force your morality on me? These questions grow out of the soil of a secular worldview. Apologetics responds to these questions at the worldview level.
Not only does the Bible command apologetics, but the culture also demands it. —Tim Barnett (from, Why Apologetics?)”
Like apologetics, many examples of how the gospel is offensive including Jesus. Jesus made it clear that following him would bring the disdain of the world upon us. Look at John 15:18-21
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”
This all applies to making disciples as well. Think about it. A new believer will have questions. They know nothing regardless of how they came to salvation. Why should they believe the Bible? Why are they a Christian? Why believe a man rose from the dead? Why believe any of it if Christianity is not true?
Teach them it is true, teach them why and train them on how to apply it. It will help take away the fear of sharing.
Church, we must change what we are doing and how we are doing it! We are losing 5-75% of individuals between the ages of 18 – 30. Church attendance is declining. And we are still doing what we did, at least, 45 years ago. The world wants answers. Intelligent answers. Not faith as an answer. Telling someone what the Bible states does not impress anyone if they do not believe the Bible, or possibly if they do. Ask yourself why you are a Christian. Why you believe the Bible, the resurrection. If you cannot answer without using “faith”, “relationship”, “love”, or “the Bible says so” then you need to question your own Christianity!
See, helpful but, not popular…
John Mays is the Regional Director for the states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. He is also the Chapter Director at Marshall University. Contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org
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