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Reducing Ourselves to Scriptural Evangelism

September 10, 2008

Scripture sufficiently explains evangelism.  It tells us what the Gospel is in a wealth of passages.  It shows us how to preach the Gospel in numerous examples.  The Bible really is here for us to know what to believe and do, evangelism being an important part of belief and practice revealed by God’s Word.

In a practical way, nothing is more important than evangelism.  We could conclude from New Testament teaching that we’re still here only because God is waiting for more people to repent (2 Peter 3:9).  Like anything else that is important, we look to the Bible to understand it.  Men tend toward being deceived.  We should think we will mess up evangelism if we don’t follow exactly what Scripture says.  God’s glory and the souls of men are at stake.

The Bible is not only about telling us what to do but it is also about limiting what we do.   In that way, it works like the Constitution of the United States.  The founders wrote a Constitution to limit the power of the federal government.  God’s Word should limit our evangelism.  Silence isn’t permission.  Based upon our belief in the sufficiency of Scripture, we should regulate our evangelism by the elements we see in Scripture.  I say elements and differentiate them from the circumstances of evangelism.   Some circumstances are paper, breath mints,  a mode of transportation, printing, computers, and doorbells.   Some elements are the words preached, the preaching itself, and the purpose of what is said.  We should do our evangelism like we see in Scripture.  That’s why we have a Bible—to do what it says—not to find things it doesn’t say and do those because Scripture doesn’t forbid them and mainly because we think our way will get better results.

God is honored when we live by faith (Hebrews 11:6).  Faith originates with what God said (Romans 10:17).  We please Him by doing it His way, not by thinking up something superior.  We dishonor God by leaning on our own understanding.  We devalue His omniscience.  We disrespect His wisdom.  Two ways that we disobey God are by adding or taking away from His teachings.  God doesn’t want us to add or take away from His Word.  It is an affront to Him.  The medium can change the nature of the message.

No short-term result excuses adding to what God said.  Obeying what He said honors Him.  It also yields a result we can count on.  God sees everything centuries ahead from now.  He knows better than us why He showed us a certain way to operate in evangelism.  What we see as success might be failure.  Even if it does work, it is still a way that we have added to Scripture, which will not glorify Him.   His glory surpasses in purpose our desire for results.  The model we example should reproduce Scriptural evangelism, not a man-invented method.

Many of the new unscriptural and non-Scriptural methods, posing as evangelism, come from a wrong perspective of God.  I hear statements such as:  “We don’t want to turn people off,” “This works better than anything else,” “It helps keep our workers motivated,” “Not everyone can preach the Gospel,” “We get better results to preaching when we do it this way.”  Among these “reasons” are fear and pride.

In many cases, the busiest churches spend very little time in real evangelism.  Many of the members can’t evangelize or are very poor at it.  Often, their regular activity isn’t anything that the Bible teaches.  They do church work that you can’t find anywhere in the Bible.  They have very little reason to grow in their knowledge of the Scriptures because they will likely never need to know huge portions of it.   Much of the Bible goes unused.  Very little spiritual warfare takes place.  Spiritual growth is minimal or absent.

God’s method glorifies Him.  It is foolishness to them which are lost.  People don’t get saved because it makes sense.  They receive Christ because of the power of the Gospel.  Bold preaching glorifies God.   Adding to His way by doing it our own glorifies us, doesn’t act in faith, perverts His plan, affects the nature of the message, and provides a poor model for others.  Instead, let’s by faith reduce ourselves to Scriptural evangelism.

  1. Don Heinz
    September 12, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Could Jesus have done puppet shows? Why didn’t He? Did He really think his disciples would be more effective just making disciples?

    Thanks, Kent, for the thought-provoking analysis of evangelism.

  2. September 12, 2008 at 9:33 pm

    Thanks Don. I hope others are thinking about it.

  3. September 26, 2008 at 6:51 pm

    “They do church work that you can’t find anywhere in the Bible.” Thanks for the reminder and challenge!

    True evangelism (as opposed to 2 min. sales pitches followed by prayer) produces real growth in the lives of believers who participate. This has been exciting to see at our church. New believers are eager to learn more and be better equipped to preach the gospel! Instant results are rare, but fruit that remains is not. Keep holding up the sufficiency of God’s Word!

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