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Category Archives: Evangelism

The Gospel is not simply “Here’s how to be saved”

I remember, years ago,  being involved in a conversation including my dad and a few of my cousins. The conversation had turned to salvation and Dad asked one of my cousins if he had ever been saved. My cousin replied that he had, and recounted a time when he was nearly electrocuted but survived. He reckoned that since he had been saved from death at that moment that’s what Dad was talking about! (For the record, this cousin now knows what my Dad was talking about and does profess faith in The Messiah). Many people have no real idea of what one means by “been saved”. And to add to the confusion, many people in the American church today who profess to be saved, have an incorrect understanding of what it is they actually profess to have “been” because they don’t really grasp the gospel.

Gospel is a word that means, “Good News”. We church people often times forget that, as we do with a lot of “churchy” words and phrases. When Peter, Paul, John, James, Jesus was proclaiming the good news it was more than merely, “Here’s how you get saved!” Somehow, though, we have reduced it down to just that. Evangelism has become much like the task of being an insurance salesman.saleswoman as we try to convince people to get their fire insurance before it’s too late. If they don’t open a policy before death then there’s nothing they can do to protect themselves from external damage.

If You Died TodayThis faulty view of the gospel has taken it’s toll in how we live afterwards. While this “fire insurance” works well with certain worldviews – like the escapist worldview that says it’s all going to hell anyway and we just need to get as many people out of this Titanic as possible and into the lifeboat of Jesus – but it doesn’t jive with the whole of Scripture nor does it deal with sin, evil, and death as God tells us He dealt with it through Jesus. See, sin doesn’t win. God isn’t just going to destroy this creation since it’s been infected and take all those who believed in Jesus up to their mansion in the clouds way, way up high. (in comes the children’s chorus, “Somewhere in outer space, God has prepared a place for those who trust Him and obey!”) No! God is going to reclaim His creation. He is renewing it in and through Jesus. This is what was so glorious about the resurrection. The body that was mutilated by evil was resurrected. It was renewed. Not a different body, but the same body. Sure it was different in some aspects, things were changed about it, but it was the same body that hung on the cross that got up out of the grave! This is the Good News! That although this creation is mutilated with sin and evil, God is putting all things right, and He’s doing it through Jesus!

Why is this important? Because this affects the way we live. We see God’s creation as something that is good and our lives here and now as a means to further His kingdom. We actually become a part of what we have termed “The LORD’s Prayer”:

“Our Father Who art in heaven hallowed be Your Name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven…” ~ Jesus

If you think it’s only going to get worse then there’s nothing we can do about it but bunker down and pray for Jesus to come back before it gets too bad. But if you see the good news as God, through Jesus, setting things to the way they should be then you will be a part of that work. You will be a part of a city on a hill! You will effectively be the salt of the earth! You will be the one performing good works of love that others see and glorify The Father because of! You will be a part of the church that the gates of hell will not prevail against!

The gospel is not simply about how you can get to heaven. The gospel is much bigger than you.

“The Gospel is not simply, ‘Here’s how to be saved’; it’s the good news that, through Jesus the Messiah, the creator God is putting the whole world right.” ~ N.T. Wright

 
 

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A Tale of Two Sons

There was a king with two sons. Twins they were, nearly identical.. well, hair and eye color was different, but on the inside (the part that matters most) they were identical. Mannerisms, humor, etc. there was no mistaking who their father was.

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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in Devotion, Evangelism, God, Jesus Christ

 

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“Go to He…” What? There’s More?!

“Heaven is great, but it’s not the end of the world.” The first time I heard this N.T. Wright statement was 5 years ago, and it was quoted to me by a friend. It gave me pause, and I kept turning it over in my head. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Why? Because it ran counter to what I had been taught about the aim of my Salvation.

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What about Bob?

Growing up, a lot of emphasis was placed on our duty to tell others of the gospel. There would be set times that people would meet together and head out in groups with the intended purposes of knocking on doors and telling others about the gospel. This is an odd way to present need for evangelism. To me, it was taught as something I should do. Yes, I should want to do it, but the primary emphasis was placed upon how I OUGHT to do it. If it wasn’t done, I was to feel guilt at my utter failure in not fulfilling my duty.  Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2012 in Christian Life, Evangelism

 

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The Word of God is not “The Word of God”:


I recently read a missionary letter where the man was telling how they want to make the Scriptures available to the people of the region he plans to work with in their own language. He said, “1 Peter 1:23 states, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.” And Romans 10:17 states, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” In modern English, If you do not have the Bible (the Word of God), you cannot see people saved. WE WANT TO SEE PEOPLE SAVED!”

I know this man personally and there is no doubt that he has a heart for people and is concerned about their eternal destiny. My question for this post concerns his view of Scripture – How accurate is he? Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2011 in Church History, Evangelism, Scripture

 

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There’s Always Tomorrow, Right?

I was driving home from work one day last week, and the thought hit me – in all probability my Dad will die before me. This sobered me. I began to cry as I couldn’t imagine my life without my dad in it. My thoughts turned to times when I had been angry with my dad and abruptly ended a conversation or said words that were hurtful. I didn’t immediately turn and apologize as I knew time would help me calm down and I could go to him later and restore things. How foolish is that?! I was living under the assumption that tomorrow is guaranteed to him and me. While thinking of this, I wanted to call and talk to him, tell him I love him and appreciate him. Why? All of a sudden, the reality that time is fleeting hit me. Urgency set in. See, I had been born into this world and my dad was already in existence. Since he has been here my whole life, it is natural to assume that he will continue to be. I know death is real, I was a pallbearer at my Grandmother’s funeral, I saw my dad weep in my Maw-Maw’s back yard the day after his mother’s funeral. The truth is though, we just don’t look at those we love and think, “One day they won’t be here.” Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2011 in Evangelism, spiritual growth

 

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Apologetics & Christianity

One of my professors asked the Questions: “What is the appropriate role of apologetics in Christianity? In other words, should apologetics be used for evangelism or strengthening the church?” He asked us to write a response essay… here’s  mine for you’re critiquing or edification (preferably the later). =)


The practice of apologetics is biblically mandated and an indispensable tool for use in both evangelism and strengthening the church, not merely one or the other. The purpose of this essay is to define apologetics, establish from Scripture that it is biblically non-optional for every believer, and illustrate its dual use as both a tool for evangelism and edification.

Apologetics defined: Before we can figure out where a thing belongs we must know what that thing is we are trying to place, so it is important that we have a working, biblical definition of apologetics if we are to accurately discover its role in Christianity. Noah Webster defines apologetics as “to speak in defense of; defending by words or arguments; said or written in defense or by way of apology; as an apologetic essay”1. The mother of our word “apologetic” can be found in the pages of Scripture. We see it exemplified in Paul’s life as he wrote to the believing Philippians, “For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.” (Philippians 1:7) Festus reminded king Agrippa, concerning Paul, that it was Roman custom to not condemn a man until he was given opportunity to give an apologia concerning the charges that were brought against him when he said, “When I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him. I answered them that it is not the custom of the Romans to hand over any man before the accused meets his accusers face to face and has an opportunity to make his defense against the charges.” (Acts 20:15-16) We also see this in I Peter 3:15 when we are told to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” In each of the passages cited above, the word translated into English as “defense” is from the Greek root apologia.

A cursory look at the passages given shows that our dictionary definition is correct in as far as it goes. The goal, though, is not to have a working definition but a working biblical definition. The definition thus far could be stated simply as “boldly giving a defense and proof of Christianity”; which is good in that it shows the aim of apologetics is to defend Christianity not the believer of Christianity (there is a big difference). This definition fails, however, in that it does not speak of how one is to go about defending Christianity. There are various approaches to apologetics: experiential, presuppositional, evidential, historical, and classical2; but that is not what I mean by “how one is to go about” it. In Philippians 1:7 and I Peter 3:15 we see that there was a certain love, gentleness, and reverence that accompanied their defense. Paul described it to the church at Ephesus as “speaking the truth in love”. (Ephesians 4:15) Earlier, he had given the same instructions to the Corinthians by saying, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” (I Corinthians 13:1) and warning them that knowledge has the capacity to make one arrogant, but love edifies. (I Corinthians 8:1) It is easy for us to begin to use the truths we know to win a debate or victoriously shut the mouths of lions and lose the reverence for the things we are speaking and the love for the truth as well as our fellow human to whom we are presenting our case. Sometimes our apologetic takes the offensive, polemically showing how the opposing view falls short of consistently dealing with the facts. This is fine, but we must guard our hearts whether we are defensive or offensive. If we present our defense of the faith with an unchristian spirit then we do a much better job at destroying it than defending it. Therefore, if one is to biblically engage in the practice of apologetics, he must not only be able to give a reasonable defense of his faith, but do so in the spirit of Jesus Christ. This cursory look sums up our biblically working definition of apologetics as: “Boldly giving a defense and proof of Christianity in a spirit of meekness and humility.”

Non-optional: In establishing that apologetics is a requisite of Scripture I would draw your attention back to I Peter 3:15, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.” Peter makes giving a defense of the faith non-optional. Scripture refuses to let us relegate apologetics solely to the seminary students and pastors, but clearly shows it to be a responsibility and privilege given to every child of God. Peter expected his readers, who didn’t have free access to the entire Scriptures as we do nor a plethora of study helps, to be able to engage the unbelieving world around them in defending the faith. This world is antagonistic towards the gospel of Jesus Christ, and requires a constant apologetic to confront its skepticism and rejection. G.K. Chesterton, in his defense of the faith titled Orthodoxy said,To the orthodox there must always be a case for revolution; for in the hearts of men God has been put under the feet of Satan….For the orthodox there can always be a revolution; for a revolution is a restoration.3 It is this defense and proof of the gospel that every believer is commanded to boldly, yet humbly, be about.

Dual purpose: The aim of apologetics is two-fold: evangelism of the unbeliever and edification of the believer. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the very air the church breaths. We preach it, sing it, teach it, live it. It is this very thing that stirs our hearts, and there is no greater truth and no greater mystery than what is summed up in that one little word – gospel. We will be singing its wonders to the One it tells us of for all eternity (Revelation 5:9) And when we present a defense of it it, it works like a double edged sword cutting both ways. Proverbs illustrates this concept when it records, “Strike a scoffer and the naive may become shrewd, But reprove one who has understanding and he will gain knowledge” (Proverbs 19:25) A modern example of this can be seen in the books of Lee Strobel. Lee travels all over compiling evidence by knowledgeable believers in various fields of expertise in order to present a defense of the faith against the liberalism, skepticism, and atheism being propounded today. An atheist can read one of Lee’s apologetic works and come to faith in Christ by The Holy Spirit convincing him of the truth of what he reads. A Christian, who may have no formal theological training, can pick up the same book and have his faith in God strengthened as he sees how what he has believed accurately corresponds to reality and history and be better equipped to give a defense of the faith the next time he is confronted with an issue by a nonbeliever. This isn’t because of anything inherently within Lee, but because of the truth he defends. The same gospel that seems foolish to the unbeliever, causing us to give a defense of it to him, has the power to simultaneously strengthen the believer with its truth (I Corinthians 1:18-24)

Conclusion: There is more to be searched out and mastered, such as the five types of apologetical approach mentioned above; and maybe this essay will spur the reader to do so. But the aim of the essay is to give the reader the vision that the field of apologetics is something akin to a battle field; a place where belief wars against unbelief expending every ounce of energy, while simultaneously being strengthened by knowledge of his comrades fighting alongside him. A field where fighting is non-optional and it is necessary that every believer be ready to engage, yet in a way so loving as to seek to make friends of his foes. The same sword that dripped blood in battle begins afterward to drip balm on the very wounds it inflicted. Apologetics is not about defending the Christian making him look brilliant, but defending the Christ making Him look glorious! It is not about revenge, but reconciliation. It is lifting Christ up before the eyes of the skeptic showing him why he has every reason to believe, and before the eyes of the believer confirming to him that he has not forsaken his reason in believing.

1American Dictionary of the English Language by Noah Webster 1828
2Ready Always to give an Answer by Caleb Colley, M. L. A. (Apologetics Press, Inc., 2009) http://www.apologeticspress.com/articles/240172
3Orthodoxy by G. K. Chesterton, 1908