Evangelism for Beginners -the sequel
Mar 20, 2017 // By:Dave // No Comment
Evangelism is something all believers (including you”beginners”) are called to do (whether you have the spiritual gift of evangelism or not).
Matt 28:16-20 “the great commission”
1 Pet 3:15 reminds us to have an answer ready for the faith that is within us.
In a previous post, Why is New England so Hard to Evangelize?, I discuss the results of choosing to not share our faith. Then, in Evangelism for Beginners, I offered some tactical points to help start on the path of sharing one’s faith.
the very word evangelism comes from the root greek word angelos (meaning message) and is the basis of our word for angels in the bible (messengers). Evangelize means “to give or pass on a message.
A word which has become translated and lost it’s real meaning in today’s culture is “apologize“. It really means to offer or give an explanation for an action or belief. Modern usage, since we often accept blame for something gone wrong when we try to explain the reason(s) behind that something, has changed the usage the word to mean to express sorrow or grief for something gone wrong (or at least to take blame for it). This is not the real meaning of the word. The exact meaning is to “offer a defense”. “apo” means “from, and “logos” means “word, speech, or story”, thus apologos means “story from”
1 Corinthians 1:18-31 (NASB)
18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And the cleverness of the clever I will set aside.”
20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
22 For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom;
23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness,
the “word of the cross” (in vs 18) is the gospel message. the “good news” that while we cannot pay the fine for our own sins, God sent His Son to pay the price for us (so that the relationship between created and Creator would be restored and available to all who are willing to accept the free gift waiting at the foot of the cross, Jesus Christ, crucified and resurrected for us.
verse 22 tells us that the Jews wanted a sign and that the greeks wanted wisdom.
What sign were the Jews looking for ? (well it was not seeing the self-proclaimed savior and king dying on a cross in total humilation) vs 23 tells us that the “crucified Christ” was a stumbling block to them. They wanted a king who would drive out the Romans, free them from physical bondage from their foreign captors and tyrants.
They completely missed the fact that they were in spiritual bondage (of their own sin nature) and dealing with a far worse tyrant, Satan.
Is that not a mirror for people of today ? They want a religion (system of faith) that will “fix” all their earthly problems and completely miss the fact that our spiritual problems are the cause of the earthly ones. Our fallen nature is the cause of a fallen earth, the source of the violence and suffering that everyone is so willing to shove back in God’s face as proof that He can’t be as good, loving, or just as we say He is if He allows all this to happen.
What do they expect ?
- A loving God (who respects our freedom of choice) to override our choice and make us stop sinning.
- Not create us in the first place since He knew we were going to sin against Him.
hmmm … Let’s look at these two options:
- If He overrides our free will (to stop us from sinning) then He is removing our freedom of choice and reducing us to automatons (machines that are preprogrammed). God wants us to worship Him with our choices freely and willingly (just as any parent desires to see their children doing the right thing with their own choices rather than being coerced or forced to do so). Freely honoring the parameters of a relationship is one good evidence of caring about the relationship and loving the other person (you wouldn’t knowingly hurt the other person you care about and that is what God is desiring from us as well)
- Not creating us at all because we are going to make mistakes in the future is about as logical as a would be parent deciding not to have children because they know the child will eventually do something to cause us heartache (which any parent can testify is a 100% certaintly (and a daily probability)
The reason the Jews did not recognize their savior was because their definition was wrong. The signs they looked for were wrong. They wanted the Messiah to fix everything they didn’t like about their physical world and rejected what He did offer.
The pharisees refused to hand over their priesthood authority because they liked their kingdom just the way they had it set up (power, respect, authority, money), but Jesus came to offer freedom from the power of sin, from the power of temptation, and the power to serve others rather ourselves. The Jewish quality control officers put a big rejection stamp right on His chest and called Him a fake (worse they accused Him of blasphemy and worthy of being humilated and stoned to death)
There was a time in our recent past, when the enemy used an effective ploy to get people to stop accepting his very existance … the image of a goofy, horned fellow with red pajamas and a pitchfork represented an image of Satan that was just to silly to take seriously. It resulted in the following though pattern: “That image of the adversary can’t be taken seriously, in fact it can’t even exist so if the image is unbelievable, so is the character behind the image”. And the public began to disbelieve the existance of the fallen angel who rebeled against the highest throne and tried to overthrown the Creator of the universe in His own pride (Isaiah 14:12-14). Rejection of the false image, a caricature, resulted in rejection of the reality that was far greater.
I see the enemy doing a similar thing now with the perception of God. By twisting the creature’s peception of love, justice, and righteousness, satan has created a new weaker, and very hypocritical image of our Creator.
Through propaganda and media (and the use of “jargon” rather that logically establish truth and doctrine), satan has managed to use mankind’s selfish desires to insist on it’s own definitions of love, justice, and a difference between moral rights and wrongs.
- How can a just God create homosexuals and then say that homosexuality is wrong?
- How can a loving God allow suffering in this world when He could stop it all any time at all?
- All paths lead to God so why would Jesus be so narrow minded and say that only He was the way to the Father?
- How can a loving God send people to hell when we tried to do good before we died?
These questions (and others like them) are the result of enemy propaganda taking advantage of misinformation. They create a caricature of God that is contradictory and foolish. People look at this hypocritical definition of God and react with “that is stupid, I can’t believe in that!” (and they would be right to react that way)
Before you even try to answer one of these questions, check and see if the right question is being asked (and if the question is based on accurate information)
for example: Objection number one contains a “set-up”; it’s a trick question because it is based on false information.
- Yes, God is just.
- No, He does not create homosexuals. Gen 1:31 assures us that everything He makes is good by His own standard and John 1:3 reminds us that everything (no exceptions) came from His creative hands. He creates humans with the natural desire for union with the opposite sex and some of the humans take that desire and choose to entertain satisfying that desire with the same sex instead, (and later often end up acting it out). Rom 1:26-28
- God has always wanted men and women to have sex with the opposite gender in the context of marriage Heb 13:1-25
- But He does not want this union out of marriage, and not with the same gender) Levit 18:22, Levit 20:13, Mark 10:6-9, 1 Cor 6:9-11, 1 Cor 7:2, 1 Tim 1:10, Jude 1:7
- The pleasures we seek in this life are based on desires created by God to enjoy those pleasures. The enemy cannot create anything and certainly cannot create pleasure either. All the enemy can do, it trick us into trying to satisfy those God given desires with means or methods that are wrong. (If I want a new tool, the correct way to get it is to fairly work for a fare wage, then use my earned wages to purchase the tool for a fair price. Stealing it or using money needed for rent would be the wrong way to acquire the tool).
In the same way, sexual pleasure is created by God for us. It is intended to be satisfied within the context of husband/wife relationship where it not only offers pleasure, but strenthens the marriage bond, and often helps create the next generation.
God just does not want it satisfied:
- outside of marriage activity (promiscuity) where is creates a bond that should not exist yet,
- through relations with people out of your own marriage relationship (adultery) where is weakens the trust and bond in marriage
- through relations with same sex (which even if you found a state that sanctioned same sex union there is the issue that even though the government of man “says it so” does not mean “God recognizes it” as a marriage.
God loves us and wants us enjoying everything He creates with the maximum benefit to us and for us. (He made the car and knows what the best fuel is to keep the engine smooth, without knocks, and not blowing up). There are good ways to enjoy His creation and then there are other ways that are not good. It’s really that simple (no matter how much we try to complicate things with situational ethics) 🙂
Bottom line: separate truth from falsehood before trying to have a meaningful discussion about God. Many or most have serious misunderstanding about God simply becuase their picture of God is based on a combination of enemy propoganda and simply, often innocent, table top “hearsay”.
There is a basic principle in communication skills called “qualifying the terms and phrases used (make sure the words being used mean the same thing to both parties in the conversation). In the apologetic conversation, you will find that many are thinking something very different when you say “God”. (brush away the misinformation) and get to “if we are going to talk about God, lets at least use the only authoritative book on the topic, written by God Himself, the Bible.
- This is not “bouncing a bible off someone’s forehead”.
- This is “building a relationship” (however casual it may be).
We are trying to prove:
- that people care about each other
- which creates a bridge to help people understand that God cares as well.
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux