Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Disarming Arguments Against Evangelism (Part 2)

This is part of a series of posts on this subject.  You can find the first post here.

Does it work?  This is the question that I often hear from pragmatic leaders in churches.  They want to know if the evangelism method I aspire works.  In other words, does it produce numbers?  Does it get people coming to my church?  Will my money increase?  Well they don’t ask this but this is the underlining motive I fear.  Numbers, sadly, are equated with success.  If your church draws large crowds, you must be doing something right.  In our day, churches do not revolve around doctrine but around methodology.  I know of Pentecostal churches that were planted and based off Reformed Calvinistic models and yet because the Reformed church has had success, doctrine is not an issue.  I know of other church leaders willing to travel to listen to T.D. Jakes or Creflo Dollar since they have large success and no one questions their faulty theology simply because of numbers.

Sadly, I also have had people bash certain forms of evangelism because, to them, “it doesn’t work.”  Take open air preaching.  I enjoy open air preaching.  I am nervous when I do it.  I fear more than anything that my words may not glorify God.  I want to honor Christ when I preach to the masses.  One brother was asked how many people had he led to Christ preaching in the open air and his response was great, “All of them.  I always lead people to Christ by exalting Him as Lord and Savior.”  Great answer.  True open air preaching should be focused on exalting Christ and lifting up the wonderful salvation that God has given to us in His Son.  In Acts 5, the angel gave instructions to the Apostles what to preach in verse 20.  This led to gospel conversations in verse 25.  Open air preaching should point people to Christ and hopefully produce one-on-one gospel conversations that could lead to someone repenting of their sins.

Yet how often do people criticize open air preaching!  Sure I have seen the “anger preachers” preaching in the open air.  They attack sinners by name and often will point out things from afar.  I know of one brother in the Lord who had longer hair.  He truly loved the Lord Jesus and was seeking Him.  While walking across a university campus he heard someone yelling, “Hey hippie, cut your hair you sinner.”  He turned to see an angry open air preacher pointing at him.  When he responded, “I love the Lord Jesus brother.”  The man replied that no true Christian man would have hair like a woman and proceeded on with his “sermon.”  This bothered my friend much that this man had judged him merely by what he saw and not by his heart.

The faithful open air preacher should preach both law and grace.  Ray Comfort teaches that we should preach “law to the proud, grace to the humble.”  The law of the Lord brings conviction of sin (Romans 7:7) and the law also humbles the proud and self-righteous (Romans 3:19-20).  Jesus used the law to humble the rich man in Luke 18:18-24.  Jesus used the law on the woman at the well in John 4:16-18.  Yet Paul used grace in Acts 16:30-34 with the Philippian jailer.  We should allow the Spirit of God to help us discern where people are when witnessing to them.  It is actually easy to see who is proud and who is humble when you begin witnessing to someone.

My point in all this is not to simply lift up open air preaching.  It is just one method.  The disciple of Christ can have various methods in evangelism but don’t make excuses for not sharing your faith.  Don’t say in your heart, “Well, I don’t like that so I won’t do that.”  Your pride may keep you from sharing your faith at all.  Certainly, there are methods I don’t like.  That doesn’t keep me from sharing my faith.  I want to obey Christ as Lord (John 14:15) and He said to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19).  The heart of God is for the lost (John 3:16).  That should be our hearts as well (Romans 10:1).  We are called to imitate Christ (1 John 2:6) who said He came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  That should be our heart as well.  Whether you pass out tracts, hold up a cross at a busy intersection, preach in the open air, one-on-one witnessing, doing good works for people to preach the gospel to them, etc. we all should be preaching the gospel to the lost.  Any form of evangelism that doesn’t preach the gospel is not evangelism!  The copout for the American church seems to be either friendship evangelism (in which people never share the gospel) or the social gospel where they feed the poor, clothe people, build houses, etc. but never share the truth of the cross.  How tragic that people will die and go to hell while Christians never bothered to share the truth of the gospel with them!  How tragic that people will go to hell who we helped but didn’t really help!

My earnest prayer to God is that the Church would exalt the Lord Jesus in our evangelism.  The focus should not be numbers.  The focus should be on discipleship (Matthew 28:20; Acts 2:41-42).  Don’t make excuses for not sharing your faith.  Don’t be lazy.  Don’t be full of self-righteousness and pride.  Go out and share the gospel with a lost sinner.  Remember the words of Paul the Apostle in Romans 10:14-17.  How can your lost sinful neighbors, co-workers, family members, etc. ever know the gospel if they don’t hear the gospel?  Don’t be lazy thinking that they will hear from TV or from the radio.  Be bold and share your faith.

May the kingdom of God come (Matthew 6:10) and may we all be fishers of men (Matthew 4:19)!

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