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Archive for September, 2014

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evangelism

Every Bible-believing church should be interested in evangelism, and every individual believer should be able to clearly and concisely present the Gospel to an unbeliever. We have been commanded to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to everyone (Matt. 28:19, Mark 16:15). Evangelism simply stated is the proclamation of the Gospel, the telling of the good news! It is a sharing of the very faith that we have come to embrace. However, for many of us, obedience to this command does not come so easy.

I am often reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul who, during his imprisonment for preaching the Gospel, asked other believers to pray that he might proclaim the Gospel with clarity and boldness (Eph. 6:19-20). At the heart of this request we are reminded that it is never easy to present the Gospel. Although the message that we proclaim is exactly what it claims to be, it is “good news,”  any believer who has ever attempted to share their faith with others would agree that doing so is no easy task. Maybe that’s why Paul, who suffered greatly for the sake of the Gospel proclamation, asked for boldness and greater ability to preach the Gospel with clarity.

When discussing evangelism, much of our time is spent thinking through programs, strategies, and methodologies. While I most certainly agree that our approach is a key component to our evangelistic efforts and that there are many good programs available to help equip us in our commission, I am afraid that too much emphasis on this side may cause us to lose sight of the goal of evangelism, or even worse, cause us to lose the heart of our message altogether.

Our evangelistic goal should always carry the same platform as Paul’s request: to proclaim the truth of the Gospel with clarity and boldness.

The need for clarity:

 Paul systematically lays out the Gospel for us in Romans and then provides us with a summary in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5. According to the Scriptures, the facts are:

  • Man has sinned against a holy God and is deserving of His eternal wrath.
  • That God’s own Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, became a man, died on a cross for our sins and rose again to defeat death once and for all.
  • This work of God’s grace can be received by anyone who repents and believes this good news (Acts 17:31, John 3:36).

The need for boldness:

I believe that Paul desired boldness because he also understood the bad news of the Christian message. He understood that God is holy and perfect and that He requires perfection from us. He understood that apart from Christ, all of mankind stands condemned under the righteous wrath of God, because we have sinned against Him and His holy law. Simply stated, Paul knew that his message came packaged with a natural offense because men are deceived into thinking that they are good. But Paul knew the reality. He knew that there are none that are good but God, and that the message he proclaimed served to reveal that fact.

Ray Comfort said:

 “They [mankind], like Paul, have no idea what sin is until the Law gives them that knowledge. When the Bible speaks of “good,” it means moral perfection in thought, word, and deed. Only God is good (Mark 10:18), and His Law is perfect (Psalm 19:7), holy, just and good (Rom. 7:12). Sinners don’t know that. There is none that understands (Rom. 3:11). I can’t overstate this fact – the world has no idea of the nature of sin, that it is a potent and irresistible magnet for the justice of Almighty God – that they live under the avalanche of wrath. That’s why so many will perish. They lack knowledge of God’s Law and therefore don’t see their need to repent and trust the Savior – no Law, no sin, no wrath, no repentance, no salvation. Sinners will be destroyed through a lack of knowledge of God’s law.”

The need for the law:

I am convinced that the clarity of the gospel proclamation requires boldness, because it is necessary to present both law and grace. The Bible tells us that the Law of Moses is good if it is used lawfully (1 Timothy 1:8). For what purpose, then, was God’s Law designed? The following verses tell us: “The Law is not made for a righteous person, but . . . for sinners” (1 Timothy 1:9,10). It even defines the sinners for us: the disobedient, the ungodly, murderers, fornicators, homosexuals, liars, etc. The Law was designed primarily as an evangelistic tool.

It is God’s Law (as summed up in the 10 commandments) that reveals to men their desperate need for Christ. It serves as a mirror to give us a flawless picture of God’s perfections and of our imperfections. This mirror (the Law) gives us knowledge of our sin (Rom. 3:20) and provides us with a true picture of our spiritual state.

In Romans 7, Paul shares with us his own experience to demonstrate the usefulness of the law to sinners. “Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet‘” (vs. 7). The law exposes sin and demonstrates it to be sinful. Thus, those who think they are alive discover that they are dead, and through this they are motivated to turn to God for salvation.

 

(This blog was originally written for the Southern Ohio Pastors Coalition)

Gary Chaffins, is co-pastor at The Grace Community Church at Bigelow in Portsmouth, Ohio. He has 1 beautiful wife, 2 rotten kids, a big-white dog, and carries a large NASB.

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