Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Evangelism: Meaning, Message, Motive, and Methods


A few years ago I had the privilege of substitute teaching for the Thursday night Bible study of Grace Heritage Church, where Abby and I were members. Usually on Thursday nights we studied through a book of the Bible, but I took the opportunity- since I wasn't the usual teacher- to lead the class in a discussion on biblical evangelism. My primary resource for an overview of what the Bible has to say about evangelism was the book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer (see Tim Challies' review of this book). While ESG is not necessarily perfect (see John Piper's argument against Packer's use of the word "antinomy" in describing the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of Man), this book is- in my opinion- one of the greatest works on the subject of evangelism ever written.

What follows below is an outline of what I taught from the chapter in ESG titled "Evangelism":

Evangelism
(Adapted from “Evangelism” in Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer- a discussion on the meaning, message, motive, and methods of biblical evangelism.)

    1. Meaning
    1. Evangelism is proclaiming the Gospel: The Good News of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    1. Evangelism is declaring a specific message with a specific application.
    2. Evangelism defined through the ministry of the Apostle Paul:
      1. Paul evangelized as the commissioned representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.
        1. In evangelism, we act as Christ’s stewards.
            1. Scripture proofs: I Cor. 4:1-2; I Cor. 9:17
            2. Our position of stewardship highlights our accountability to evangelize.
        1. In evangelism, we act as Christ’s heralds.
            1. Scripture proofs: II Tim. 1:11; I Tim. 2:7
            2. Our position as Christ’s heralds highlights the authenticity of the evangelistic message.
        1. In evangelism, we act as Christ’s ambassadors.
            1. Scripture proofs: Eph. 6:19-20; II Cor. 5:17-20
            2. Our position of ambassadorship highlights our authority to proclaim the evangelistic message.
      1. Paul’s primary task in evangelism was to teach the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ.
        1. Scripture proofs: Acts 9:29;18:11
        2. Paul primarily engaged the minds of his listeners.
      2. Paul’s ultimate aim in evangelism was to convert his hearers to faith in Christ.
        1. The New Testament speaks of preachers converting people, as they are His means for converting (Lk. 1:16; Acts 26:15-18; Jas. 5:19-20).
        2. Paul’s aim in evangelism was not just to spread information, but to save sinners (I Cor. 9:22).
    1. Message
    1. Evangelism is the proclamation of a message about God.
      1. Primarily, our message is about God as the Sovereign Creator and Sustainer (Acts 17:24-29).
      2. As God is our Sovereign Creator and Sustainer, we are shown to be entirely dependent upon Him        and subject to His will.
    1. Evangelism is the proclamation of a message about sin.
      1. We proclaim God as the Holy Lawgiver and the Law as a reflection of His holy character.
      2. By God’s Law, we are revealed to be lawbreakers- sinners against His holy character.
        1. Conviction of sin is essentially an awareness of a wrong relationship with God Himself.
        2. Conviction of sin always includes conviction of sins.
        3. Conviction of sin always includes conviction of sinfulness.
    2. Evangelism is the proclamation of a message about Christ.
      1. The person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
      2. The work of the Lord Jesus Christ.
        1. Incarnation
        2. Atonement
        3. Resurrection
        4. Ascension
        5. Heavenly session
    3. Evangelism is a summons to faith and repentance.
      1. Faith is essentially the casting and resting of oneself and one’s confidence on the promises of mercy which Christ has given to sinners, and on the Christ who gave those promises. (Jn. 3:16)
      2. Repentance is a change of mind and heart, a new life of denying self and serving Christ the Saviour as king in self’s place. (Lk.9:23-24)
    1. Motive
    1. Our primary motive for evangelism is love for God and concern for His glory.
      1. Loving God:
        1. Love for God is the first and greatest commandment. (Mt. 22:37-38)
        2. We demonstrate love for God through obedience. (Jn. 14:21; I Jn. 5:3)
      2. Glorifying God:
        1. The Westminster Shorter Catechism: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. (1 Cor. 10:31; Ps. 73:25-26)
        2. Jonathan Edwards: “God infinitely values His own glory and finds His infinite joy in that glory…His greatest glory is displayed in the work of the salvation of sinners and therefore it is His highest joy… God has greatly glorified Himself in the work of creation and providence. All His works praise Him and His glory shines brightly from them all. But as some stars differ from others in glory, so the glory of God shines brighter in some of His works than in others. And amongst all these the work of redemption is like the sun in his strength… Christ has done greater things than to create the world in order to obtain His bride, and it is the joy of His marriage with her… God’s single end in redemption is His own joy.”
    2. Our secondary motive for evangelism is love for others and concern for their welfare.
      1. We should pray for the salvation of specific sinners.
      2. We should be alert for opportunities to evangelize and we should be enterprising in making full use of the opportunities God has given us- initiating situations and conversations in which to share the Gospel.
      3. H.C. Trumbull: I determined that as I loved Christ, and as Christ loved souls, I would press Christ on the individual soul, so that none who were in the proper sphere of my individual responsibility or influence should lack opportunity of meeting the question whether or not they would individually trust and follow Christ. The resolve I made was, that whenever I was in such intimacy with a soul as to be justified in choosing my subject of conversation, the theme of themes should have prominence between us, so that I might learn his need, and, if possible, meet it.
    1. Methods
    1. In our witness, we must have “confident humility” (Al Mohler) [The reference to Mohler was my own].
    1. Thoughts on methods we can use to evangelize.

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