“The nature of Christ’s salvation is woefully misrepresented by the present-day evangelist. He announces a savior from hell rather than a savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.” – Originally from article Saving Faith: Part 1 Signs of the Times. Cited in the DVD Amazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism
I believe this quote from Pink is essential in developing a biblical approach to evangelism. It’s all too easy to gain ‘converts’ by scaring the ‘hell’ right out of people by conjuring horrific imagery of an eternal state of suffering and misery. Who in their right mind would choose this fate over one of eternal bliss? Heaven and hell are not the primary issues we are faced with everyday; righteousness and wickedness are. The bottom line is that we don’t choose heaven and hell. We choose between righteousness and unrighteousness. Heaven and hell are simply the eternal consequence of our choices between the two. (more…)
“In the great day, when the muster-roll shall be read, of all those who are converted through fine music, and church decoration, and religious exhibitions and entertainments, they will amount to the tenth part of nothing; but it will always please God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. Keep to your preaching; and if you do anything beside, do not let it throw your preaching into the background. In the first place preach, and in the second place preach, and in the third place preach.
Believe in preaching the love of Christ, believe in preaching the atoning sacrifice, believe in preaching the new birth, believe in preaching the whole counsel of God. The old hammer of the gospel will still break the rock in pieces; the ancient fire of Pentecost will still burn among the multitude. Try nothing new, but go on with preaching, and if we all preach with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, the results of preaching will astound us.“
- Charles Spurgeon
On the eve of celebrating our Lord’s victory over sin, death and the grave, my heart is heavy. At work yesterday, the two student workers I’ve been witnessing to decided to make light of God, Christ’s resurrection and anything else remotely related to the gospel. I honestly can’t recall precisely what all they said. I think I’ve blocked it from my memory. Every time I would seriously broach the topic they would generally scoff and mock it, making references to TV shows such as South Park, which regularly stomp on the bible’s pearls of wisdom. They had some good laughs at my expense. (more…)
I finally got my chance to share the full gospel message with the two student workers I have been chronicling about in my past several Adventures in Evangelism posts. Ned is the scientifically minded skeptic who nonetheless is considering adopting Judaism as his faith. Michael is a citizen of Zambia who is a Hindu by upbringing.
Last week as they were leaving my office I made an appointment to meet with them at the student union after work, have a drink and discuss religion. They agreed without hesitation to meet on Tuesday. The day came and I had them working with me that afternoon. We never discussed anything about the meeting or religion during work. At 5:00 they headed home. I almost forgot the appointment myself. I raced out the door and caught them just outside the building.
I said, “Remember our appointment today? Are you guys still game?” (more…)
For almost the entire past two weeks I have had the pleasure of working closely with two student employees in helping me install micro-projectors in university classrooms. ‘Ned’, who I have witnessed to in the past (see here) and his close companion ‘Michael’ are able workers and have helped me tremendously in completing my latest project. I have been looking for opportunities to preach the gospel to them, but we have been so busy with the installations, time has not permitted much dialog between us. The chance finally came at around 4:45 P this past Friday after we had completed the job. We were all gathered in my office resting from our labors, having casual conversation. Surprisingly, Michael and Ned broached upon the subject of religion.
Ned made a remarkable comment saying science would likely disprove the existence of God in time. I had discussed evolution some with Ned before and realize he puts much of his faith in science. I found it odd, because he had admitted to me in our previous discussion he was considering adopting Judaism. I didn’t bring up his apparent contradiction in thinking here. (more…)
In this post I am wrapping up the story of the discussion I held with my ‘devil’s advocate’ friend and the student worker ‘Ned’ in my office. You can read the first part of the dialogue here. The bulk of the discussion had thus far been dominated by Barney and I. After he left, the door stood wide open for Ned and I to continue speaking about religious matters.
I quickly discovered Ned staunchly believes in the ‘all roads lead to God’ approach to salvation. I tried to sum up his worldview with the following analogy. I said, “So God has set up the religions of the world as a kind of buffet of beliefs, where people can choose what system best fits their tastes. All God requires in return is sincerity and adherence to the commands and dictates of that faith.”
Ned shrugged, “Sure. Why not?”
I replied, “Jesus plainly said, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ The word proclaims there is ‘no other name under Heaven given among men by which we must be saved’. ‘Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved’. ” (more…)
Last Friday at work was simply another average, run-of-the-mill routine day. The week was notable only for a severe case of discouragement I inflicted on myself due to my inability to fix a couple of laserjet printers. I took them apart, replaced vital components and reassembled them only to find that neither worked!
As my depressing week drew to a close, I had a surprise visitor walk through my office door at around 2:00. ‘Barney’, a fellow computer tech and friend for the last 15 years or so, came by for a chat. Now, Barney is a fellow who by his own admission is not a Christian, nor does he give any pretense to become one. He has resolutely shrugged off my preaching and pleadings for the last decade. The interesting thing about him is, this past year he regularly attended an evening bible study I had held weekly. The group was dissolved last fall for personal reasons. However, even more fascinating is, of all the students who participated in my class, he has been the most insistent on getting the group back together. He has teased me that since the breakup he has been intrigued by Scientology and is considering joining up with them. The first time he told me I was appalled, but when he followed up by saying “You should really start that bible study again so I don’t go astray”, I realized he really missed the teachings and was prodding me. I truly believe the Holy Spirit is doing a great work in him. (more…)
The most difficult element in evangelizing the lost for me is introducing the subject of the gospel. In every conversation I’ve ever had with someone who needs to hear the message of saving grace, I have envisioned in my fevered imagination the worst case scenario possible. I could just see the jovial countenance of the individual darken to a piercing glower, his eyes boiling with black clouds and streaks of lightning when I mention the name of Jesus. I imagine peals of thundering condemnation bursting forth from his mouth as the cackling demons controlling him urge on an endless barrage of paint-peeling insults.
But when I actually engage someone in dialogue I often find that is not the case. The person is usually open to the subject, no matter where he might stand. I breathe a sigh of relief and plunge forward. Once a person appears willing to talk about religion that is my green light to gun the pedal, squeal my tires and see how fast I can get from zero to saved! I’m sure some people have regretted granting me audience. I allow my pent up passion for the gospel to rush from my lips like the ocean at high tide. Nonetheless, once the wall of timidity has crumbled I transform into a different creature altogether.
Since my conversion to the Doctrines of Grace I have noticed another difficult part of witnessing now is in proving to people that they are depraved, corrupt and hopelessly sinful. That their only hope lies outside themselves completely and depends only on the mercy of God through Jesus Christ. It can get uncomfortable telling someone how bad he is. I don’t dare present it as my opinion but rather as fact. The perfect law of God embodied in the Ten Commandments acts as a mirror, reflecting the ugly truth of man’s sinfulness. The mortal blow to human pride is blunted by not isolating a sinner’s fallenness as his own personal problem, but as the plague of everyone who has ever taken a breath. It is not a ‘you’ issue but an ‘us’ issue.
I’m introducing a new section to my blog entitled “Adventures in Evangelism.” In the tradition of great men of God such as Ichabod Spencer, I plan to chronicle my interactions with unbelievers (and ‘professing’ believers) as I share the gospel message with them. I sincerely hope that this is an area that I can journal on with consistent frequency over the years. Evangelism of the lost should be an essential staple in the believer’s diet of daily living. Admittedly, if I had kept a journal of all my evangelical efforts over the past 11 years, it would amount to little more than a puny pamphlet of pathetic pronouncements.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’ve witnessed to many people since I’ve been redeemed, with mixed results, but it has never been consistent and ongoing. I would often times feel frustrated and discouraged in my efforts. This would lead to long droughts of ‘mime evangelism’. That is, letting my actions do the witnessing for me. I wrongly believed that this in itself was just as effective as public proclamation of the gospel.
I have now come to understand the source of my frustrations. For 10 years I don’t believe I had a firm, well-rounded understanding of the gospel message. This made it difficult for me to convincingly convey the weightiness of man’s condenmation through the law. In fact I was taught to avoid making people feel bad about themselves and their fallen state! (more…)