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Disarming Arguments Against Evangelism (Part 1)

This is part of a short series on arguments I often hear from people who are not sharing their faith in Christ and are not seeking to make disciples according to Matthew 28:19-20.  The posts are not in any given order.

One of the most familiar arguments I have heard from people who are not sharing their faith is fear.  Fear of man has stopped many from sharing the gospel with the lost.  Yet I once heard Ray Comfort say that he too was fearful each time he stepped out and begin to talk about Christ.  I believe the flesh naturally doesn’t want to discuss the things of God.  Our flesh (along with Satan) wants us to remain silent and it’s okay to live our faith so long as we are not trying to win others to Christ.  The moment that we step out and begin to overcome our fear and talk to someone about Christ, we will be faced with fear.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of mockery.  Fear of persecution.  Fear of saying the wrong thing.  Just fear in general often halts our evangelism.

I have no doubt that the disciples faced fear like we do.  Yes they were confident in the Lord but their heart beats much have raced as they too stepped out and begin to preach Christ.  In Acts 4 we read the account of the Apostles praying for boldness.  The disciples had been warned in Acts 4:17 not to speak anymore of this name: the name of Jesus (v. 18).  The disciples stood firm in their faith in Christ (Acts 4:19-20) and so the Jews threatened them again (Acts 4:21).  The disciples went to prayer and they prayed for God to grant them boldness in the face of persecution from the Jews (Acts 4:23-24).  They praised God that He was sovereignly in control and not the people (Acts 4:25-26) and that His sovereign will would be accomplished just as it had been done through Jesus (Acts 4:27-28).  They then prayed a marvelous prayer: a prayer for boldness to preach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:29) and to glorify the name of Jesus (Acts 4:30).  Acts 4:31 says they were filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.  God heard their cries and He answered their prayers.

How often have I had to pray Acts 4:29!  I am fearful as anyone else is of speaking to others about the Lord Jesus.  I find it amazing that I can talk to strangers about sports, about politics, about the weather but not about the eternal things that really matter (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).  Each and every person will die and stand before the judgment throne of God (Hebrews 9:27).  They must hear about Jesus (Romans 10:14-17).  The gospel saves but it is not a silent gospel.  It is a preached gospel that saves sinners (1 Corinthian 1:21).

The lies against preaching the gospel because of fear are many.  Friendship evangelism is one of the biggest lies in the Western Church.  Friendship evangelism is the cop-out of many evangelicals to never sharing their faith verbally.  They claim that they are building friendships to lead to Christ yet never utter the name of Jesus, never speak of His grace and His mercy, never talk about sin, never speak of God’s demand for repentance and holiness.  Friendship evangelism claims to be preparing people for the gospel but never shares the gospel because the gospel is not preached.  The law of God (that shows sinners their sin and their need for a Savior) is never used.  Friendship evangelism is nothing more than something the devil has given people to try to soothe their guilty conscience.  They know the command of God (Acts 1:8) yet they consistently ignore His command to preach the gospel to the lost.  So instead of repenting, they turn to friendship evangelism to justify themselves and never open their mouths to the gospel that saves.  There is not one example of friendship evangelism in the entire Bible.  None.

Friend, my advice about fear is this.  First, repent of not sharing the gospel with the lost.  I too have had to repent of not sharing the gospel with the lost.  We are all guilty at times.  Secondly, pray Acts 4:29.  Pray Proverbs 28:1.  Pray Acts 1:8.  Third, go out and open up your mouth and share the gospel with the lost.  God is not going to just buzz you with power.  We must be willing to step out in faith and trust Him that He will give us boldness as we preach.  Over and over again I have seen Him show Himself faithful in this regard. I can pray for boldness (and do much) and when I step out and begin to share the gospel with a co-worker or the lady at the restaurant or the perfect stranger on the street, I have seen the Lord give me boldness time and time again.  Sadly, we often pray for boldness but then sit back and just wait for God to zap us before we go.  Notice in Acts 4:31 that it says that the disciples “continued to speak the word of God with boldness.”  They stepped out and God stepped in.  That is how He works (Hebrews 11:30).  God works through our obedient faith (Colossians 2:12).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/05/2014 at 10:06 PM

Let the Gospel Upset People, Not Us

There is no denying that the gospel makes people upset.  I have watched it with my own eyes as I explained the gospel to a lost person and then they turn into this ugly, ranting, mean-spirited person who hates God and hates the gospel.  Up until I explained the law of God, they were pretty nice to me and were cordial but when I begin to explain the justice of God Almighty in pouring out His wrath on humans who violate His just laws, it was here they turned on me.  People hate the gospel and more than that, they hate the God of the Bible (Romans 1:18-19).

With this in mind, I pray that we who preach the gospel to the lost would remember that people can get upset with the gospel or with God but let it be because of the truth of the gospel and not us that make them mad.  In other words, yelling a person or simply calling them names is not befitting for the disciple.  I seek to be a 2 Timothy 2:24-26 model when it comes to evangelism.  2 Timothy 2:24-26 reads (NIV):

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Notice verse 25.  Opponents are to be gently instructed.  This is not yelling at them.  Pointing a finger at them.  Accusing them.  This is preaching the gospel to the them in grace and love.  1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV) expounds:

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Notice that Peter the Apostle says that we are to give our answer for the gospel with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.  And he adds that people are to see our good behavior in Christ.  I pray that the crowds who hear us preach in the open air would see our good behavior in Christ as we deal with mockers.  I pray that those whom we give out tracts to would see our gentleness and respect.  I pray that those who are offended would be offended at the gospel and not at us.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:21 that God saves people through the folly of what we preach.  Let that be true.  May it not that people see us as the folly by our actions.  They may think the gospel foolish and they may think we are foolish for preaching, handing out tracts, standing with a cross, etc. but let it be the gospel that they find foolish and perhaps our actions for the gospel but not our own foolishness in our yelling, hurling insults, etc.

I write this because I rejoice that so many people are now rising up to preach the gospel in the open air.  There are more street preachers today than ever.  More people are going out to hand out tracts.  I rejoice that there are many people who are becoming passionate to share the gospel with the lost.  But let it be that our hearts are broken for the lost (Romans 10:1) and that our burden comes from the Lord (Matthew 9:37-38).  Let it not be our pride that drives us out to preach.  Let it not be our own self-righteousness that drives us out to preach.  Let us plead with the lost through tears.  Let us preach the gospel and leave the results to the Lord.  Let us exalt Christ and not ourselves in our preaching and pleading (2 Corinthians 4:5).  Oh may people leave our preaching angry at God or angry at the gospel but let them not take offense because of our actions toward them!  Let us preach the gospel remembering that we too once were just as lost, just as dead in our sins, just as blinded as they are now (2 Corinthians 4:4; Titus 3:1-3).  It was the mercy of God that saved us (Ephesians 2:4).  Take no pride in your salvation but humble yourself before the Lord (Romans 11:20-22).  Remember your chains that He broke off.  Don’t allow pride to rob you of exalting Christ even in the midst of harsh opposition to the gospel (1 Peter 4:12-19).

What Gospel Are We Preaching?

Missions trips, evangelism tips, etc. have been a focus of mine for the last few posts.  Let me return again to missions trips just for a moment before I dive into my point here.

Let’s take the average evangelical church.  They come up when the idea that they want to go to Bolivia with on a missions trip.  The trip dates are set, fliers are posted and announcements are made that they are going to Bolivia to spread the gospel.  It is still many mouths away but people begin to register for the trip.  Some take talking into while others join right up.  In the next few months, money must be raised for each person to go on the missions trip.  The cost is set at $1800 per person.  This will include their flight to Bolivia, their place to stay (at a local Christian camp near the city of  Santa Cruz de la Sierra.  The city has over 1 million people so it’s a great place to evangelize), and their meals.  Typically a group like this will have about 20 people so let’s just make it that many.  They are going to do a Bible club for kids and some other forms of evangelism.  They also will work with the local missionaries there to do some repairs to the church buildings.  They will be there for 10 days.  Usually you also have to have  a day of “fun” (sometimes two days) where the Americans can be tourists.

I am not here to be critical of the hearts of the people who want to go on the missions trip.  Some of them truly want to make an eternal impact for the gospel.  Many others just want to visit Bolivia.  To them, this is a glorified vacation where they get to ask others to fund their trip to Bolivia.  For the missionaries in Bolivia, many of them need the workers (even for minimal jobs) and they need the cash support from the American churches to continue their mission.  If a Bolivian church where to reject Americans from coming to their churches their financial support would also be hurt by this.  They are in a no-win situation when it comes to welcoming American missions trip teams.

For me, the danger is not in people raising money to go to Bolivia or even the fact that American churches want to go on missions trips because I see the good that come from missions trips in the hearts of the people who truly are broken by the Spirit of God for the lost.  My problem is what gospel are we preaching to the lost people of Bolivia?

Here you take 20 people from an evangelical church and my question would be: do they understand the gospel and are they able to tell others the gospel?  I have watched time after time as evangelicals in the United States prepare missions teams to go to the nations but they themselves don’t know the gospel.  I have seen people sign up for mission trips who never share their own faith here in their own Jerusalem.  They act like they are burdened to go to the lost in these far off places but never share the gospel right where they are and yet we trust them to go to Bolivia and preach the true gospel?  Perhaps we should make sure they know the true gospel and have been preaching the true gospel before we send them to preach the gospel.

What is the gospel?  This is a fundamental question.  We must be able to answer this or we will never be effective witnesses for Christ.  The gospel is not the “sinner’s prayer.”  The gospel is not merely knowledge about Jesus or the Bible.  The gospel is not about being a certain type or denomination (I have seen people think that just because a nation is primarily Catholic like Bolivia then the gospel is already there).  The gospel is not about just going through some steps (the “ABC”s of the gospel).  The gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-3).  The gospel is faith and repentance toward God after the law of God has broken our hearts over our sins (Romans 7:7; Galatians 3:23-24).  The gospel is the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5) that comes after we repent and believe.  The gospel response is to be baptized (Acts 2:38; 10:48; 22:16; Colossians 2:12).

Yet we take a group of people who can’t articulate the gospel to nations and places all the time.  I am not saying that good can’t come from this.  Again, I think many who go on missions trips need the gospel themselves.  Some think that because they are going on a missions trip, this pleases God (Isaiah 64:6).  Yet they come to see their own depravity before a holy God and they soon either truly repent of their sins or they hide on the missions trip doing odd jobs and avoiding any talk about Christ with the lost (because they don’t know Christ either and have no clue how to tell others about Him).

What do we do?  First, we preach the gospel to our people.  We all need the gospel each and every day.  The fact that Jesus is alive and at the right hand of God is necessary for me each day.  I can’t be a disciple in my own power.  I need His grace (1 Corinthians 15:10).  Grace is what saves us (Ephesians 2:8-9) and grace is what keeps us.  I need to hear His voice daily to know Him and follow Him (John 10:27-29).  The gospel is not something that I did back then and now I am right with God but the gospel is an ongoing relationship with God through Christ Jesus alone (Romans 5:1).  My justification before a holy God, my sanctification, my discipleship – all this is based on Christ alone (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  I depend on Christ to save me initially and forever (Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 7:25).  The gospel is not then something what we preach just at the end of our sermons but all the time.  The gospel is the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 1:16-17).

Secondly, we make sure those who want to go on a missions trip understand the gospel and have truly been born again.  God knows those who are His own (2 Timothy 2:19) but there are signs that we can see if the person has truly been saved by God’s grace (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Repentance involves the entire person and not merely a change in mind about Jesus or acknowledgement of our sins.  Biblical repentance will transform the person as they surrender to the absolute Lordship of Christ.  Our heart, mind, emotions, intellect, will, etc. are broken by the gospel and Jesus rules over them and He transforms them.

This will make an impact on the nations.  Can you imagine taking a team of 20 people who truly understand the gospel, know how to share their faith, and have been saved by the grace of Christ to Bolivia?  What would this mean not just for the gospel but for the people going?  I believe that it would strengthen them as disciples of Christ and would spread the fire of the gospel to the lost in Bolivia.  It would bless the missionaries there because they wouldn’t have to clean up the evangelical mess that typical groups from the States bring.  Instead, the gospel could go forth and God saves sinners by His grace (1 Corinthians 3:5-9).

I want to post one more post on this subject and I will do that next.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/11/2014 at 12:01 PM

When Reasoning With People, Quote Scripture

I am excited that in a few weeks they are having a large Jehovah’s Witnesses conference in our city.  Thousands of Jehovah’s Witnesses will be in town attending and I plan to go and preach the gospel to them.  I long to share the truth of Jesus with these lost souls who are so zealous for their false gospel.

In preparation for this evangelism event, I have been re-reading a few books that I have on the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  JW theology is twisted for those unfamiliar with it.  In essence, the average JW would claim that the Bible is their guide.  They would claim the Bible is the infallible Word of God.  Yet the JW’s look to the Watchtower Society in Brooklyn, New York as Jehovah’s organization on earth.  The Watchtower is God’s kingdom.  What the governing board dictates is what the average JW follows.  Thus JW’s spend hours reading not just their Bibles (New World Translation) but also the publications from the Watchtower Society.  These are viewed as Jehovah’s trumpets to speak for Him to this earth.

The average JW spends hours doing what they call “field work” or door-to-door witnessing.  They will spend hours a month handing out Watchtower and Awake! magazines which they believe come from God’s organization in Brooklyn.  Many JW’s dream of being a “pioneer” and often work jobs that allow them to spend more hours doing their field work.  Field work is the heart of the JW life.

Now let me establish some truths about JW’s.  First, it is not true that JW’s are vastly superior at quoting the Bible than disciples of Jesus.  I would grant you that the average JW knows more about their beliefs than the average evangelical but I am speaking here about true disciples of Christ and not just church goers.  True disciples of Christ abide in His Word (John 8:31) and hide His Word in their hearts (Psalm 119:11).  True disciples of Christ know that we will never see death if we keep His Word (John 8:51).  We also know that we must be in the Word of God to provide answers for our strong faith in Jesus (1 Peter 3:15).  Abiding in the Word of God also keep us saved (James 1:21).  It was by the Word of God that we first heard the gospel (Romans 10:17) and was saved (1 Peter 1:23; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

I have found that JW’s know topics and they have memorized topical studies but they don’t know the Bible.  They know parts of the Bible and have studied their own pet doctrines (as some evangelicals do) but they don’t spend time just reading the Bible.  They are not often familiar with looking at context of Scriptures and cannot quote the chapters but only a few verses from a chapter.  I met one JW who wanted to debate over the Greek in John 1:1.  He quoted the passage to me in Greek.  He then proceeded to try to give me a lesson in Greek on John 1:1 about it lacking the definite article.  I asked him if he knew how to read the Greek New Testament.  I then pulled out my Greek NT and asked him to read further.  He could not.  He had only memorized John 1:1 from lessons he had taken at his “society meetings.”  I showed him how the Greek article is lacking in several other passages  right in John 1.  He had no answer.  This is typical of JW’s.

I had another woman (and a “brother” with her) point to Matthew 24:14 and proceeded to tell me that only they, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, were doing what Jesus commanded here and were taking the gospel to the nations.  I asked her about the words of Christ here that the end would come.  She was emphatic that our world is heading toward the great battle of Armageddon when (satire here on my part) “Jehovah will slaughter everyone but faithful JW’s who have labored for His kingdom in Brooklyn, NY.”  The 144,000 will inherit heaven will faithful JW’s will inherit the earth.  I then asked her about Matthew 24:34.  I said, “Jesus said that all this in Matthew 24 would come upon that generation.  Which generation was He referring to?”  She had not heard that in her “society meetings” so she was unable to answer me.  The older “brother” stepped up and tried to answer me but he just rambled on to another subject (a common JW tactic).  I repeated my question about Matthew 24:34.  I pointed out that the same word was also used by Jesus in Matthew 23:36.  So which generation was Jesus speaking of ?

My point here is not to glorify my witnessing encounters with JW’s.  My point is to show that JW’s do not know the Bible like we think they do.  They know their beliefs.  They know parts of the Bible and again I grant you that they would run circles around the average evangelical.  But for true disciples of Christ who love Him and love His gospel, JW’s do not know the Bible in comparison.  We don’t need to be experts in knowing JW theology.  We really only need to know our own Bibles.  The Bible is able to cut down the lies of the JW’s.  When a JW tries to quote Scripture at you, use that!  Don’t be afraid to open the Bible and look at what the JW is saying and I promise you that if you love the Word of God, you’ll quickly see that they are in error in many ways.  Their ability to reason from the Scriptures apart from their dependence on “God’s organization” is zero.  The Bible is able to cut them deep (Hebrews 4:12-13) and to cast doubts on their ability to think rationally from just the Bible.

I hope that this encourages you to share the gospel with the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They are good people who I believe truly want to know God.  They are just in error about Him, His salvation, His grace and mercy.  I have so much sympathy for them and I pray that as a group of us will be preaching to them at their conference, I pray that their eyes are opened to the truth of the gospel.  Please join me in praying for this as well.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/03/2014 at 11:44 AM

Common Sense Evangelism Tips

Here are a few common sense evangelism tips I have gleamed over the years.  I’m sure that we all who love Jesus and preach Him to the lost could add many more to this short list.

  1. Preach Christ above all other things. 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
  2. Don’t get into vein arguments over points that do not matter (Bible translations, baptism issues, theological points not necessary for salvation).  2 Timothy 2:24-25.
  3. Use the Law to reveal the sinner’s sin (Romans 7:7) but don’t spend all your time on the Law without pointing sinners to the truth of justification by faith (Galatians 3:24).
  4. Keep breath mints nearby.  No one likes smelly breath especially when you are giving someone the eternal truth of God.
  5. Don’t focus on things that don’t matter in this life such as sports teams, politics, social ills.  Make the gospel the focus.  Let the gospel deal with the sinner’s sin.  That is what matters.
  6. Depend on the Holy Spirit and not your own wisdom (John 16:8-11).  The Bible promises us that the Spirit will empower us (Acts 1:8) to be effective witnesses for Christ.
  7. Trust God to bring forth the fruit of our evangelism (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).
  8. Pray!  1 Timothy 2:1-6.
  9. Fill your witnessing with Scripture.  Scripture brings conversion (Psalm 19:7 NKJV).  Scripture is the supernatural revelation of God that He uses to reveal His Son to the lost (John 20:31) and Isaiah 55:11 promises that God’s Word will bring forth the results He desires.  Furthermore, Scripture brings forth faith (Romans 10:17).  Scripture is the disciple’s only weapon (Ephesians 6:17).
  10. Don’t answer fools with their own foolishness (Proverbs 26:4).
  11. Recognize that people, by nature, do not want God (Romans 3:10-18).  People will naturally reject God and His reign over us.  We must preach the gospel to them despite their rebellion (Romans 1:16-17).
  12. When I take people through the Ten Commandments, I admit that I too have violated these laws.  Admit our sins.  Admit that we too need Christ both before our salvation and even now (John 15:1-11).  I have no trouble admitting to sinners that I still need Christ but I am walking in repentance (1 John 2:1-2).
  13. People often will try to change the subject when they either don’t have an answer for us or they are under conviction.  Don’t give in to this tactic.  Keep the focus on the gospel and on the sinner’s guilt before God.  Don’t let the person try to get you to explain the Trinity or why God didn’t heal their grandmother.  Focus on Christ and His glory.
  14. When dealing with the self-righteous, use the Law.  Ray Comfort calls this “grace to the humble, law to the proud.”  The law shuts people’s self-righteous mouths (Romans 3:19-20).
  15.  Lastly, no two people are the same.  We must depend on the Spirit to guide us when witnessing just as He did the disciples in the book of Acts (Acts 8:29).  I have had witnessing encounters with people that went great while others did not go great.  We must simply let God lead us and guide us.  He is faithful to do this for His passion is for souls (Matthew 28:19).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/15/2014 at 10:57 AM

Charles Spurgeon on the Qualifications of an Open Air Preacher

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.
3.  Self-possession.
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.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/19/2013 at 11:43 AM

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