Are you a Genesis 3 Christian?

I listened to the testimony of an adult woman from Guatemala.  She is 2nd from the left in the image. Her journey to faith brought me to tears, and once again aroused my desire to help other people share the good news of Jesus Christ.  As you read or listen her story, ask yourself this question:  Where would you start with the gospel?  Genesis 3, or Genesis 1? [Read more…]

The urgency of the gospel in personal evangelism

TheEndisNearA driving force behind personal evangelism is a sense of urgency.

Without a sense of urgency, evangelism loses one of it’s core motivations.

Without a sense of urgency, the persecutions that believers suffer for the sake of the gospel becomes something to be avoided.

The urgency of the gospel has propelled missionaries to all corners of the earth, often at sacrificial cost to their own lives, employment, and family.

Are we busy with trivial things?

We are busy in our churches with many affairs.

We appoint committee members who are focused on administrative issues.

We discuss issues ranging from the color of hymnals, women in ecclesiastical office, brand of coffee makers, to proper liturgy and what constitutes outreach.

Some committees are more like talking about a hobby than an actual team doing the work of the committee (not all!).

Many of these concerns are legitimate.

But we may become so preoccupied with so many diverse interests that we lose sight of God’s main interest – His desire that none should perish.

Bible verses that support the urgency of evangelism

The following Bible verses and themes are often used to justify the urgency of personal evangelism.

Jesus is coming back.  Jesus, the One who says these things are true, says, “Yes, I am coming soon.”  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!.  – Revelation 22:20 (NCV).

World evangelism will signify the return of Jesus. The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come. – Matthew 24:14 (NCV)

Hell is real for those who don’t know Jesus. And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire – Revelation 20:15 (NCV)

But cowards, those who refuse to believe, who do evil things, who kill, who sin sexually, who do evil magic, who worship idols, and who tell lies—all these will have a place in the lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.  Revelation 21:8 (NCV).

The harvest is ready now.  You have a saying, ‘Four more months till harvest.’ But I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields ready for harvest now. – John 4:35 (NCV)

We are to warn. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ you must warn them so they may live. If you don’t speak out to warn the wicked to stop their evil ways, they will die in their sin. But I will hold you responsible for their death.  If you warn the wicked and they do not turn from their wickedness or their evil ways, they will die because of their sin. But you will have saved your life –Ezekiel 3:18-19 (NCV)

So today I tell you that if any of you should be lost, I am not responsible.  – Acts 20.26 (NCV)

So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature person in Christ – Colossians 1:28

The Lord says, “Shout out loud. Don’t hold back. Shout out loud like a trumpet. Tell my people what they have done against their God; tell the family of Jacob about their sins. – Isaiah 58:1

Personal Responsibility.  Telling the Good News is my duty—something I must do. And how terrible it will be for me if I do not tell the Good News – 1 Corinthians 9:16

Sin is universal.  There is no one who understands. There is no one who looks to God for help – Romans 3:11 (NCV).

Christ is the sure remedy for sin. Christ took away the curse the law put on us. He changed places with us and put himself under that curse – Galatians 3.13 (NCV).

Today is the day of salvation.  I tell you that the “right time” is now, and the “day of salvation” is now. – 2 Corinthians 6:2 (NVC)

Is it your fault if people don’t hear?

I believe there is one argument in often used in the urgency of evangelism that must be forever removed from our teaching.

If someone dies before you share the gospel with them, it’s your fault they are in hell.

I’ve heard this expressed in different ways to soften it’s destructive blow.

The phrase – It’s your fault -is often hidden or unspoken to soften it’s blow.  It’s implied.

No matter how it’s phrased, this blame placing motivator to urgency is guilt driven.

  • If you think a person needs 29 conversations with you before getting to the gospel, woe to you if they die before the 28th conversation.
  • You might be the only Christian witness a person might ever see.

I think this guilt driven approach to urgency needs to be banned from our teaching.

It undermines the sovereignty of God, since you failed God’s ability to save.

It undermines the drawing work of God, since it implies that you are the only one ever in the life of that person to witness to the Good News.

It undermines the witness of the body of Christ, making you to be the only witness when other church members or believing friends could be in their life.

It undermines God as the author of salvation, since this makes salvation of someone else dependent upon your obedience.

I cannot stand this teaching.  I believe it is harmful and guilt inducing.

Let’s get rid of the “it’s your fault” teaching when we teach on gospel urgency.

How does urgency affect evangelism?

I have great sorrow and always feel much sadness. I wish I could help my Jewish brothers and sisters, my people. I would even wish that I were cursed and cut off from Christ if that would help them. – Romans 9:2-3

Paul had a sense of urgency to his message.  In the letter to the Romans, he expresses it with the words:

  • great sorry
  • Feel much sadness

Do I feel that way about family, neighbors, classmates, friends, or even strangers who are headed for a lost eternity?  Do I grieve for them?

Are there people I desperately want to see come to Christ, or come back to him?

Am I willing to lay down my life, and even my resources, so that they might know that there’s hope?

It’s a very different emotional motivator than guilt.

Now, getting the gospel to as many people as possible is our urgent task.

  • Is it urgent because hell is real?
  • Is it urgent because we know Jesus is coming?
  • Is it urgent because we must warn people about hell?
  • Is it urgent because someone might die and live eternally separated from God because you didn’t share?

I’ve been thinking about motives recently.

I wonder,how does gospel urgency impact our personal evangelism?

Do we go to the streets with tracts and open air preaching?  Do we preach a message of warning to passer-by who don’t hear the solution?  Do we preach about God’s love to passer-by who don’t hear the problem?

Do we strive to speak in front of as many crowds as possible, a la Billy Graham or Cash Luna?  (Not everyone is a gifted public speaker).

Do we make time in our schedule to talk about faith with strangers in the park, 1-1, with a scripted conversation, a la Way of the Master or Evangelism Explosion?

Do we find ways to share our faith at work, without being obnoxious, or other relational ways to open up faith sharing conversations?

Do we study books on apologetics to provide a rational foundation for our faith sharing discussions, a la Ravi Zacharias?

Let me ask you this?

How does one balance the urgency of the gospel with the time it takes to share the gospel in a friendship?

How does one balance the urgency of the gospel with the dreaded feeling of guilt that you’ve not done enough?

Video: Dr. Michael Green examines What is the gospel

Dr Michael Green Evangelism and the Early ChurchMichael Green has had a tremendous influence on my ministry through his books that I read while in seminary.

Michael gave the first talk at a recent confidence in the gospel event.  If you have 18 spare minutes, listen to his challenge to us to be faithful to the Apostolic Gospel.

Michael Green provides the keynote address exploring the question, “What is the Gospel?

He explores how the apostles approached the gospel by looking at the three word roots that are found in the New Testament for spreading the Christian message:

  • euangelizō, meaning ‘to tell good news’,
  • kēryssō, meaning ‘to proclaim’, and
  • martyreō meaning ‘to witness’.

The consultation, entitled, “A Faithful Gospel: How should we understand what the gospel is?” is the first in a series of five, taking place as part of the Evangelical Alliance’s ‘Confidence in the Gospel’ initiative.

(Feed readers will need to click through to watch).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

FOR SMALL GROUPS

  1. When we communicate the gospel, is it heard as good news? What can we do to ensure people see that the good news of Jesus is good news for them?
  2. How can we make sure we are staying faithful to the whole of the apostolic gospel, not just the parts that suit us?
  3. 2000 years later, how can we be part of the process of ‘bearing witness to the facts’ of the good news of Jesus?

FOR LEADERSHIP TEAMS

  1. How does the gospel we present compare to the gospel presented by the early Church? What is missing from our presentation of the gospel?
  2. In terms of how we communicate the gospel, what can we learn from Michael’s overview of the early Church’s approach?
  3. The apostles placed great importance on connecting the gospel to the Old Testament. How should we do this, when our audience has a limited understanding of the scriptures?

Free Download for further study on What is the Gospel?

More questions and a synopsis is found at the Evangelical Alliance Website:

 Books by Michael Green:

Did John Calvin have a heart for evangelism?

I found the following article that I think might help answer the question

Did John Calvin have a heart for evangelism and mission?


Dealing with predestination in the Institutes, Calvin does not directly address evangelism specifically, but neither does he describe it as unnecessary.

He does, in fact, write several times about the gospel being preached to the masses, resulting in the salvation of the elect and the hardening of the non-elect (III.23.10; II.5.10).

In other words, Calvin did not limit the preaching of the gospel to those considered to be elect. He explains his views more fully in his treatise on predestination:

Since we do not know who belongs to the number of the predestined and who does not, it befits us so to feel as to wish that all be saved. So it will come about that, whoever we come across, we shall study to make him a sharer of peace . . . even severe rebuke will be administered like medicine, lest they should perish or cause others to perish. But it will be for God to make it effective in those whom He foreknew and predestined.[6]

Calvin clearly encouraged Christians to be involved in evangelism!

“It befits us” to desire all people to be saved.

The result of this proper desire should make us try to lead everyone “we come across” to faith in Christ, for that is the only way they could share in peace.

This is not to be a half-hearted effort. Christians are to use “even severe rebuke” if necessary to prevent others from ignoring the gospel and perishing. Christians must make the effort to evangelize everyone knowing that only God can save.

Read the rest of the article here: John Calvin on Evangelism and Missions

Book: Erasing Hell by Francis Chan

How could a loving God send people to hell?

Chan and Perkins Erasing HellThat is a troubling question.

The question of hell is one that I encounter in my conversations with people who are still wrestling with the goodness of God or contemplating the justice and wrath of God.

It’s a question that can lead to great theological or intellectual debates among seminary students, but when one makes the question personal, it hurts.

How could a loving God send [name a unsaved person you love] to hell?

I’d rather erase it.

Serious thinking about hell

Authors Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle set out to examine Scriptural teaching on hell in Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up.

They’ve asked the same questions.  Like me, sometimes they just don’t want to believe in hell.

This is a book about what God says on the topic in Scripture, while wrestling with the some of the emotional challenges and logical questions we must deal with.

If you are engaging non-believers in a conversation, the question of hell is bound to come up.  This book does some heavy lifting when it comes to helping understand this doctrine.   Chan and Sprinkle are clear: “we cannot afford to be wrong on this issue.”

A response to Rob Bell

In March of 2011, Rob Bell put out a book on hell called Love Wins.

I’ve not yet read it first hand, but rather through the lens of positive and negative reviews.  Bell suggests a form of universalism — that every single person will embrace Jesus—if not in this life, then certainly in the next (Love wins, p. 107)

Most of Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up seems to be a response to Bell’s work.   While they don’t “bash” Bell like some have, Chan and Sprinkle challenge Love Wins, particularly in the 1st three chapters.

More particularly the authors probe the idea of a second chance after death and come up with zero biblical support of the concept, particularly those passages explicitly speak against this view (see Luke 13:22-30, Hebrew 9:27 among others)

Hell is not nice

Chan & Sprinkle wrestle with what Scripture has to say about hell.    Rather than sounding like a preacher who is angry at the world and condeming people for their vices, this book is both an emotional and intellectual read about the teachings of Jesus, the Old Testament, and the writings of Paul and John in the New.

They look at Scripture with the questions

  • The duration of hell
  • The nature of hell
  • What is the purpose of hell
  • Is hell a physical place
  • The images of hell: fire, gnashing of teeth, everlasting, destruction

The end result of their analysis is sobering.  They do a great job of sharing truth and wrestling with the emotions within them that truth generates.  If we manipulate the conversation on hell to make us feel comfortable, we are both irresponsible and selfish.

We forget that the eternal destiny of our friends and loved ones are at stake.

Read, Reflect, and Renew.

As I read Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up, I found myself reflecting upon the people that I know and love.

They have names, they are in my life.  They love me and I love them.  Yet some do not have a relationship with Christ.

I found myself repenting of the casual ways I have thought about hell in the past.

Reading this book has helped renew a sense of evangelistic urgency to help people in their journey to Christ.

Next steps:

Order your copy of Erasing Hell: What God said about eternity, and the things we made up from Amazon (affiliate Link)

How does the doctrine of hell impact your evangelistic activity?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.