How To Evangelize

Going through Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” series in Sunday School, yesterday we discussed his admonition that we ought to “gladly make others glad”.

First, our gladness equates to the fullness of our joy, our satisfaction with our life in Christ.

The others gladness can only occur when they recognize their sin, accept Christs forgiveness and redemptive work on the Cross, and begin and work out their own relationship with God.

One of the cardinal points of this teaching is that we, despite our responsibility to make others glad, are wholly and completely unable to make others glad. We are tools, we are the conduit used by God to bring about gladness in others.

But don’t think ours is a passive place, as our work for God is not passive in the slightest sense but active and our will and energy aligned with God’s work is necessary. As I love working for those I love, I ought to give all to the God who ransomed me.

And so, with our energy, and with our responsibility, and with our inability, we confront the admonition: “…always ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.”

And we ask, practically speaking: If I were to go to the door of a stranger across town with two people from Church, and (just thinking averages and chances) told them about Christs work on the cross. Would it matter? Would it make a difference in their life?

It may, it may not.

If however, you were “in the world but not of it” in the sense that you made relationships with unsaved people and allowed them to see into your life as you saw into theirs, and then told God: I’m ready for whatever trials You bring my way, only help me be strong and consistant in my love and trust in You, and let my patience and heartiness borne of Your strength in my life radiate and illuminate even in the depths of the trials You’ve allowed and shine such that my friends and neighbors who do not yet know the amazing power of Your might be unable to understand the peace within me. And give me the answer then as they see Your hope in me.

We are not saving people to heaven necessarily, but to a relationship with God.

To get someone to embrace heaven for any reason (to see loved ones, to escape hell, to live forever in bliss) besides the wonderful relationship we Christians experience with the Father of all, is to create a weak and cheap faith.

It’s like marrying for sex: sure it’s a cool thing that’s really fun, but the real reason to marry is because you can’t live without this best of friends who is so different from you and yet completes you in so many ways. Marrying for sex is one thing, but marrying for love and enjoying sex with that person you love is so far and above the former that it does not even bear comparing.

It causes me to think that the Ray Comfort method of evangelism, while it has it’s place in our sound-bite culture, isn’t the most effective method and may be more likely to create weak faith and charlatans of Christianity who at the first or second onset of adversity promised, will fall away and show “they were not of us”.

3 thoughts on “How To Evangelize”

  1. It is always fun to theorize which method of evangelism is going to be most effective. Luckily God is not limited by our lack of understanding. We are not called to judge who or what will bring the best short term or long term results. Naturally, I will always see what I want to do as the best and most effective.

    I have an experiment for you. When you meet someone new for the first time and you have a few minutes to talk. An easy conversation started is with something in the news. Everything leads to God. No matter what the subject you begin with you can bring back to God. "Well as a Christian this is what I believe concerning XYZ." Give them some personal information concerning your testimony and they will respond in like manor. They will share things with you they would not otherwise be willing to share. You will find yourself in a position to see God work in them. Some will avoid you after this conversation. Those who are seeking will continue to find time to ask you questions.

    Now the work begins. Converts are one thing but disciples are another.

  2. Matt . . . very good insight post. I was challenged to think about the two most prominant methods of vocal evnagelism recently. The "Ray Comfort" methods invoke the need for a relationship with Christ through the realization that we do not have one currently due to sin. Sure, Comfort goes about it a little . . . um, dramatically, by using the fear of Hell. However the basis of this "tactic" is not that we will be saved from Hell, but that sin must be acknowledged for salvation to occur. The other prominent method involves the use of a love of God before a huge acknowledgement of sin. However, the love of God cannot be accomplished without the acknowledgement of sin. Becuase without the acknowledgement of sin we still consider ourselves God. So, either way, at some point before salvation, there needs to be a blatant acknowledgement of man's depravity because of sin.

  3. However, the delima with these theories lies in the fact that there is no universally true "more effective" method of bringing someone to salvation because, while we may bring someone to salvation, only God and lead them through and to salvation. This is where the relationship with God becomes the defining factor. No matter what the motivation is to get to God, only a relationship with God can lead them to His throne of Grace.

    However, I do also strongly agree with Eddie (didn't know he was reading the blog) in that, living a life of Christ is not enough to intrigue someone in a life with Christ. Although I am in no way an evangelist (someone will be more confused about Christianity after talking with me than they will be before talking to me), I also know that, because I am a sinner and will inherently fail, I most communicate to others that the reason for my lifestyle is my God. After all, if lifestyle were the best way of bringing people to the point of salvation, why did Paul, and so many others, preach Christ crucified?

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