Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category
One of the temptations for some today is to take historical figures and make them into saints. We either make people into saints or events into proofs of reverence. For instance, I have seen books that seek to make the various Presidents (such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Ronald Reagan) into Christians. Some seek to make the founding fathers of the United States into saints. Others take events such as the American holiday, Thanksgiving, into Christian holidays. Christmas is taught as a Christian holiday with roots even found in the Bible. Even some historians try to make Civil War people into saints from Robert E. Lee to Grant, from Jefferson Davis to Lincoln and to events such as the Emancipation Proclamation as Christian moments.
In reality, history is full of sinners. Sinners sin. In the history of the world, there has been only one perfect person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus alone never sinned (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:22). Every other person born has sinned. We are all guilty of sin whether it be a farmer living in present day Vietnam or a soldier who fought in the Civil War, we all are guilty before God. There are no perfect people and history testifies to this fact. From the barbarian acts of the Germans in World War II, the treatment of the people under communist rule in the former Soviet Union with their gulags, or to the treatment of the Indians by the white settlers here in the United States. In fact, during World War II, Japan merely copied the plan of the whites in the United States in taking lands from the people of China and other southeast Asian nations. The Japanese responded to American criticisms by pointing out the hypocrisy of the American government in their own treatment of the Indians and the Africans. History is full of sin.
For the child of God, history shows us that despite the sinfulness of man, we see the sovereign hand of God. God has not abandoned the world. He is actively in control. In the future, time will be no more and the Lord will reign forever and ever. The history of Germany, England, France, Sudan, or India will not matter in eternity. The people will. The plan of God is to save all who call upon His name (Romans 10:13). The gospel is to be preached to all people (Mark 16:15-16). The gospel is able to deliver sinful people whether they be sinful people living in Kansas City or sinful people living in Moscow. Paul wrote that Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). Jesus Himself said this was His mission, to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). We should not view people living in the United States or South Africa different from the poor sinners living in Iran or Haiti. All people need the gospel. None can be saved without the gospel. Religion does not save. Works do not save. Being a “good” person does not save (Romans 3:23). Only Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on the cross saves. There is no hope for salvation apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 10:1-4). This is why we must preach to all (Matthew 28:19) and to pray for all to be saved (1 Timothy 2:1-6).
I pray that you and I would do as much as we can for the lost. Pray. Give. Evangelize. Pass out gospel tracts. Preach the gospel. Share Jesus one-on-one. You only have this one time on this planet and then you are dead and will stand before God (Hebrews 9:27-28). Now is the time to be active in preaching the gospel. The gospel, and not our heritage, will save sinners (John 3:13-18). Now is the time for the Church to preach the gospel and allow the Holy Spirit to draw sinners to the Savior (John 6:44; 16:8-11).
I found the following qualifications from Charles Spurgeon on open air preachers to be interesting. May God grant us servants of the King who display such a calling to take the gospel to the highways and by-ways (Mark 16:15).
QUALIFICATIONS FOR OPEN-AIR PREACHERS
1. A good voice.
2. Naturalness of manner.
4. A good knowledge of Scripture and of common things.
5. Ability to adapt himself to any congregation.
6. Good illustrative powers.
7. Zeal, prudence, and common sense.
8. A large, loving heart.
9. Sincere belief in all he says.
10. Entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success.
11. A close walk with God by prayer.
12. A consistent walk before men by a holy life.
I heard a song this morning while working that claimed in it that all religions essentially worship the same God. The song was calling for religions then to be peaceful toward each other since we all are seeking to worship the same God. The song, along with modern culture, is oblivious to theology or they would not write nor utter such non-sense about God. Anyone can study the various religions and see that they don’t all worship the same God. Just consider Islam and Christianity for example. Both of these are the two largest religions in the world. Both claim to worship the one true and living God. Both believe the other is wrong with the exception of a few liberals among them. Now let us put this to the test.
- The God of Christianity is triune in the person of God. The false god of Islam is completely one (absolute monotheism).
- Jesus is the Son of God in Christianity, co-equal and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit. Jesus is the Messiah in Islam but just a man. Allah does not begot.
- Yahweh has revealed Himself as a loving, good, merciful, compassionate, and graceful God who saves those who have faith in His Son. Allah is said to be merciful and compassionate but there is no concept of grace in Islam because there is no understanding of personal sinfulness in Islam.
- Yahweh transforms His people from the inside out through the work of the Holy Spirit. Allah demands outward performance to worship him.
- Christianity claims the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God. Islam claims the Quran is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.
So after that very brief survey of Christianity and Islam, only a foolish person would read that and then assume that these two religions worship the same God. Jesus said that He was the only way to God (John 14:6) and Paul the Apostle said that there is only one mediator between God and man, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Islam would deny both claims. Christianity claims from Revelation 20:15; 21:27 that only those who have their names written in the Lamb’s book of life will be in heaven. The rest will be destroyed in an eternal hell (Matthew 25:46; 2 Thessalonians 1:9). Islam teaches, for the most part, that only faithful Muslims will enter into heaven.
For the disciple of Jesus, we have known this. We know just from talking to people that no two religions are the same. I have found that even people who claim to be Christians, who claim to be evangelicals, that they often worship a god of their own imagination. The great Puritan Stephen Charnock called most people “practical atheists.” Charnock noted that people often did not deny the existence of God with their lips or minds but with their lives (Titus 1:16). Charnock wrote,
“This secret atheism is the spirit of all sin. Every sinful motion practically throws off God’s law and sovereignty, declaring Him unworthy of His being. If it were allowed to be carried to its logical end, every sin of mankind would impugn, dethrone, and annihilate God, while setting up the sinner as a wiser authority.”
All sinners, whether they claim Jesus or not, operate as practical atheists when they refuse to worship and submit to the Lordship of Almighty God. You and I likewise are acting as practical atheists when we sin against God and refuse to obey Jesus as Lord (Luke 6:46-49). As Charnock goes on to note, we all want to be our own gods. This was the sin of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:5) and is still true today of us all who rebel against God and His Word.
May the Church rise up to answer the false notions of modern culture. Only Jesus saves and all who die without Him are doomed (John 3:18; 5:24-25). The Church must preach the truth of Jesus to the world (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15) and the world must hear the gospel to be saved (Romans 10:14-17). We must preach the truth of the gospel to all including the false religions such as Islam or Buddhism or any others. The world must repent or face the holy wrath of God (Acts 17:30-31; Romans 1:16-18). May we disciples of Jesus be active in preaching the gospel to the lost by the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
Here is a link to open air preacher and evangelist, brother Bobby McCreery. Brother Bobby preaches the gospel mainly to the students at the University of Georgia in Athens. His passion for the lost is wonderful and his zeal is uplifting to behold. I pray that God will meet Bobby’s needs and provides for his family. He is truly a good servant of God and a faithful brother.
You can find his site here.
Over the years I have often fallen prey to guilt evangelism. I would hear a sermon on the lost and my heart would break and then I would get up, grit my teeth, and go tell someone about Jesus. I would witness to a few folks and then my love for the lost would grow cold again. I would read a book on hell and the horrors there and would again want to witness to people to keep them from going to that awful place. But yet again my love for the lost would grow cold.
The problem with me was that I was motivated to share my faith by guilt and not by love. I would have told you that I loved the lost and had compassion on them to want them to be saved but in reality, I was just feeling a bit guilty for not doing what I knew God wanted me to do and that was share my faith. I viewed evangelism as a chore to be done and not as an act of love and mercy enabled by the gospel.
True gospel centered evangelism is not focused on sharing my faith out of guilt. After all, I am not saved because I share my faith but because of the work of Christ. When Jesus uttered, “It is finished” (John 19:30), what part was not finished? He completed the work of salvation that God required and now He commands me to repent and believe the gospel (John 6:29). God has reconciled me to Himself in His Son (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). This salvation is based all upon Jesus Christ and His shed blood and not my own works (Ephesians 2:1-10). While true faith works (James 2:14-26), saving faith focuses all on Jesus and the grace of God motivates me toward service (Titus 2:11-14). True faith does obey (Matthew 7:21-27) but true faith rests in Jesus and His righteousness and not my own (Philippians 3:7-11).
Guilt evangelism and gospel evangelism are quite easy to differentiate. Notice the contrasts:
- Guilt evangelism focuses on numbers; Gospel evangelism focuses on the glory of God.
- Guilt evangelism focuses on my efforts; Gospel evangelism focuses on the work of the Holy Spirit.
- Guilt evangelism appeases my flesh and soothes my guilty conscience; Gospel evangelism recognizes that Jesus has saved me by His grace and He uses me by His grace for His glory.
- Guilt evangelism makes me shed tears for the people; Gospel evangelism makes me shed tears for the blasphemy of God’s holy name and character.
- Guilt evangelism leads me to sow a few seeds here and there; Gospel evangelism seeks to sow seeds in every place I go for the glory of God.
- Guilt evangelism is focused on methods; Gospel evangelism is focused on the message of Christ.
- Guilt evangelism leads me to pray just a bit for the lost; Gospel evangelism leads me to pray for the salvation of souls for the glory of the King.
- Guilt evangelism places the emphasis on me, myself, and I; Gospel evangelism focuses on God alone.
- Guilt evangelism is satisfied by witnessing to a few people; Gospel evangelism is concerned that the Lamb may receive the reward of His suffering.
- Guilt evangelism rests in the ability of flesh; Gospel evangelism rests in the sovereignty of God.
I pray that you and I are motivated by the gospel and not by our flesh to share our faith. From the overflow of worship of our King comes the desire to see others saved and worshiping the King (Psalm 51:10-17). The Holy Spirit empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus (Acts 1:8). This power comes from the Holy Spirit and not from our flesh. The Holy Spirit enables us to be witnesses for the glory of Jesus so that the world can see our King. Both the fear of the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:11) and the love of the Lord motivates us to be His witnesses (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). I pray that we all would be faithful witnesses for Christ our Lord (2 Corinthians 5:20; 1 Peter 3:15-16).
Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Romans 15:20-21; Revelation 22:17
I consider Tony Miano a dear brother in Christ. He is one of the men who have helped me develop into a man concerned for a lost and dying generation. His training of me and many other men and women in evangelism will be a blessing that will be remembered in eternity as both he and I cast our crowns at the feet of the One who is worthy of our worship and service.