Men would sooner believe that the gospel is from heaven, if they saw more such effects of it upon the hearts and lives of those who profess it. The world is better able to read the nature of religion in a man’s life than in the Bible.
It is this most obvious aspect of our Lord’s teaching which has been forgotten or ignored by modern evangelism. Anxious to bring sinners to life, peace and joy in the Lord, evangelists have failed even to mention that Christ insists upon denial of self at the outset. Having failed to pass on our Lord’s requirement, and forgetting it themselves, evangelists have never questioned whether their “converts” with self-centered lives are true followers of Christ. Assuming that it is possible for a man to be self-indulgent and yet heaven-bound, Bible teachers look for some way to bring ego-centric men to a higher spiritual plane. Then self-denial is taught as the requirement for a second work of grace. But Luke 9:23-24 shows that unless a man lives a life of self-denial, he has not received a first work of grace.
In our evangelism we must be partners with the Holy Spirit, presenting the Gospel but relying on the Holy Spirit of God to do the true convicting and convincing and converting.
The redemption of an eternal soul is one sale that I, in my own strength, cannot accomplish. I need to know that, not so that I won’t preach the Gospel, but so that I won’t allow my presentation of the Gospel to be molded by what I think will finally get a response and close a sale. Instead of using all my powers to convict and change the sinner, while God stands back as a gentleman quietly waiting for the spiritual corpse, His declared spiritual enemy, to invite Him into his heart, I’m going to preach the Gospel like a gentleman, trying to persuade but knowing that I can’t convict and convert and change the sinner. Then we’ll see clearly just who can really call the dead to life.
If you don’t believe that the gospel is the good news of God’s action – the Father electing, the Son dying, the Spirit drawing – that conversion is only our response to God’s giving us the grace-gifts of repentance and faith, and that evangelism is our simple, faithful, prayerful telling of this good news, then you will actually damage the evangelistic mission of the church by making false converts.
Testimony is, of course, popular in our postmodern, that’s-good-for-you age. Who would object to your thinking you’ve gotten something good from Christ? But wait and see what happens when you try to move the conversation from what Jesus has done for you to the facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, and how that all applies to your nonbelieving friend. That’s when you discover that testimony is not necessarily evangelism.
Who can deny that much modern evangelism has become emotionally manipulative, seeking simply to cause a momentary decision of the sinner’s will, yet neglecting the biblical idea that conversion is the result of the supernatural, gracious act of God toward the sinner?
According to the Bible, good motives for evangelism are a desire to be obedient, a love for the lost, and a love for God.
The bad fruit of false evangelism:
1. Worldly people feeling assurance because they made a decision one time.
2. Real revival being lost amid our own manufactured and scheduled meetings that we euphemistically call “revivals” (as if we could determine where and when the wind of God’s Spirit will move).
3. Church memberships markedly larger than the number of those involved with the church.
4. Inaction in our own lives, as we ignore the evangelistic mandate – the call to share the good news.
We need to know what kind of sales we can close and what kind we can’t. The redemption of an eternal soul is one sale that we, in our own strength, cannot accomplish. And we need to know it, not so that we won’t preach the gospel, but so that we won’t allow the gospel that is preached to be molded by what finally gets a response!
In one of his sermons, Spurgeon reminded his congregation about the doctrine of God’s electing some from the foundation of the world. But he noted that our task is to preach the gospel to every creature, not to find the elect. Spurgeon reportedly said that if God had painted a yellow strip down the back of each of the elect, he would run up and down the streets of London, lifting up shirttails, and preaching the gospel to the elect. But Spurgeon reminds us that God has not done so. Instead He has commanded us to “preach the gospel to every creature.” We must urgently appeal to everyone to come to Christ.
What right do we have to make God out to be Someone other than He really is in order to make people like Him more? Honor God by declaring the truth about Him.
The Spirit never makes men the instruments of converting others until they feel that they cannot do it themselves; that their skill in argument, in persuasion, in management, avails nothing.
Our job is not to moralize the unconverted; it’s to convert the immoral.
Don’t let the doctrine of election get in the way. We don’t know who they are. Somebody said to Spurgeon, “You can’t preach that doctrine. You can’t preach that doctrine to everybody because they might not be elect.” And he said, “Well if you’ll go around and pull their shirt up so I can see if they have an ‘E’ stamped on their back, I’ll preach only to them.” I don’t know who they are and so we go to the ends of the earth because this is a secret decree known only after faith, not before. So I can with no hesitation cry out to all to come to Christ.
What Makes Jesus Rejoice – Part 3? The article originally appeared (https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/42-140/what-makes-jesus-rejoice-part-3) at www.gty.org. © 1969-2008. Grace to You. All rights reserved. Used by Permission.
Your top-priority job as a parent, then, is to be an evangelist in your home. You need to teach your children the law of God; teach them the gospel of divine grace; show them their need for a Savior; and point them to Jesus Christ as the only One who can save them. If they grow up without a keen awareness of their need for salvation, you as a parent will have failed in your primary task as their spiritual leader.
The greatest charity in the world is the communication of divine truth to the ignorant.
Your shrinking from this truth about hell is not due to your sympathy with people’s pain. It is due to your lack of sympathy with their pain. God is the one who is sympathetic. He is the one who gave His only begotten Son to rescue us from this misery and to inform us insistently, dogmatically, and compassionately that we are in for an awful end if we persist in unbelief. Don’t say that you feel for people when you blunt the edge of the word of the Spirit. What have you ever done that shows that you truly feel for sinners’ eternal pain? Denying the truth of God’s Word about it certainly offers them no help whatsoever.
First, we must admit that we were silly ever to think that any evangelistic technique, however skillful, could of itself guarantee conversions; second, we must recognize that, because man’s heart is impervious to the word of God, it is no cause for surprise if at any time our evangelism fails to result in conversions; third, we must remember that the terms of our calling are that we should be faithful, not that we should be successful; fourth, we must learn to rest all our hopes of fruit in evangelism upon the omnipotent grace of God.
While our heart for social justice grows out from the gospel, social justice by itself will not communicate the gospel. We need gospel proclamation, for as much as people may see our good deeds, they cannot hear the good news unless we tell them. Social justice, though valuable as an expression of Christian love, should, especially as a churchwide endeavor, serve the goal of gospel proclamation.
Social Justice by Darrin Patrick taken from Don’t Call it a Comeback, edited by Kevin DeYoung, copyright 2011, Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton Illinois 60187, www.crosswaybooks.org, p. 158.
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.
Be ashamed to use the vulgar arts of a recruiting sergeant. Do not speak only of the uniform, the pay, and the glory; speak also of the enemies, the battle, the armor, the watching, the marching, and the drill. Do not present only one side of Christianity. Do not keep back “the cross” of self-denial that must be carried, when you speak of the cross on which Christ died for our redemption. Explain fully what Christianity entails. Entreat men to repent and come to Christ; but bid them at the same time to “count the cost.”
Therefore, since salvation is a work of the Lord, I can draw these simple conclusions: First, I must share the Gospel with passion. Yet when it comes to conversion I need to leave the matter in God’s hands because that is a work that only He can accomplish. Second, my responsibility is not to save people, but rather my responsibility is to faithfully share the “good news.” Therefore, I don’t need to resort to gimmicks or manipulation, but rather prayer and trust in God’s sovereignty. It is not the skill of the proclaimer, the packaging of the message or the techniques used to proclaim it, but the unadulterated Word and trust in the Holy Spirit. We need clarity, not cleverness. Third, once I share the faith, I can be at peace regarding the eternal outcome of souls and am I thankful for that!
We notice also that Jesus said that the number of such self-proclaiming believers, who are not really regenerate, is declared to be “many.” This should elicit caution in our assumptions of the success of our methods and techniques of evangelism. We tend to be quite sanguine with our “evangelism statistics” when we assume the conversion of all who answer an altar call, make a “decision for Christ,” or recite the “sinner’s prayer.” These tools can help measure outward professions, but they do not give us a glimpse into the heart. All we can ever see of a person’s profession is his fruit. And even the fruit can be deceptive. God, and God alone, can read the human heart. Our gaze cannot penetrate beyond the outward appearance.
There are, of course, those whom God has determined that He would never give new life to. Those who have committed the unpardonable sin, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (Matthew 12:31), will not be regenerated. Those who have trampled under foot the blood of Christ (Hebrews 10:29), will not be regenerated. Those who have committed the sin unto death (I John 5:15-16) will not be regenerated. I do not pretend to know whether this is one, two or three distinct groups. I do know this – that those who fall under these texts do not come equipped with a signed affidavit letting us know for certain that they are guilty of this sin. As such, I don’t believe we can single out real flesh and blood people and determine – “That one is beyond redemption.”
[Jesus Christ’s] victory, of course, does not mean that we rush off to kill all our enemies. It means instead that we are to love them. Our love for them must be strong enough, however, to tell them with both passion and compassion, that their hopes are in vain, that their gods are mute and dumb, and that there is only one name under heaven by which a man must be saved. Our love for them does not present the Christian Gospel as an option. It does not lead us to argue that it’s a good option that has worked well for us. Our love instead commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the Gospel, lest they perish. Our love calls on all our enemies to kiss the Son, lest He be angry and they perish along the way (Ps. 2:12).
The Scriptures say that God Himself is the chief evangelist. For the Spirit of God is the Spirit of truth, love, holiness and power, and evangelism is impossible without Him. It is He who anoints the messenger, confirms the word, prepares the hearer, convicts the sinful, enlightens the blind, gives life to the dead, enables us to repent and believe, unites us to the body of Christ, assures us that we are God’s children, leads us into Christ-like character and service, and sends us out in our turn to be Christ’s witnesses. In all this the Holy Spirit’s main preoccupation is to glorify Jesus Christ by showing Him to us and forming Him in us.
True religion is like the smallpox. If you get it, you give it to others and it spreads.
I saw that it were better to make a mistake in one’s first effort at personal religious conversation, and correct that mistake afterwards, than not to make any effort. There can be no mistake so bad, in working for an individual soul for Christ, as the fatal mistake of not making an honest endeavor. How many persons refrain from doing anything lest they possibly should do the wrong thing just now! Not doing is the worst of doing.
Soul winning should lead to soul building.
Present day evangelism commends a Savior from Hell rather than from sin. This eternally fatal deception seeks an escape from God’s eternal wrath, with no intention of being delivered from sin, carnality and worldliness.
I would not tell one lie to save the souls of all the world.
The first evangelists never assured unconverted people that God loves them. This is not to say conclusively that He does not love them in any way whatsoever. But the undeniable fact is, the love of God for man was a total non-factor in the evangelistic preaching recorded in the New Testament. In the book of Acts, for example, the greatest manual for evangelism that exists, the word “love” is never even used. So the first supposedly essential phrase – “God loves you and wants to save you” – has absolutely no biblical precedent… Likewise, and contrary to the second common assumption about the essential content of the gospel message, the words, “Christ died for you” were never addressed to unconverted people. The only people who are ever assured in the Bible that Jesus bore their sins on the cross are Christians. You will search the Bible in vain to find words like, “Jesus died for you,” presented as a promise or an appeal to the lost.
We must preach the gospel of God’s sovereign grace in Christ to everyone. There should be no restrictions on when, where, or to whom we will preach. We must never attempt to pry into God’s secret will. We cannot know the objects of God’s election and redemptive love until they repent and believe. We do not wait for a “warrant” (the apparent conviction of sin) before proclaiming the gospel and urging people to repent. We preach (as opposed to “offer”) the gospel to everyone indiscriminately because we are not God and we do not know when or where He will pour out His mercy next. Also, we preach to everyone because we have been commanded to do so (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8).