Thursday, March 25, 2010

GOSPEL

Checklist Ministries, which was created by our 18 year-old friend Will Scott before he passed away from cancer last May, hosted a rally called Invasion last Saturday. I had the honor and privilege of presenting the Gospel at the rally.

We did this in such a way as to enable teens to share their faith in Jesus. We wanted to give them the opportunity to stop what they were doing and text at least one person with the message of the gospel, which means “good news.”

I believe the three most common reasons people don’t share their faith are they are hypocrites, they get nervous face to face, and they don’t know what to say. If you live one way at church and another way at school, you know you can’t witness because your life doesn’t back up the message. If that is you, remove that sin from your life and become a witness for God.

And the other two excuses are easy to overcome. By texting, emailing, or using Facebook, you can tell someone about Christ without being face to face, and they will not feel like they have been put on the spot. And by following this GOSPEL pattern, you won’t have to worry too much about what to say. So here is the GOSPEL that we presented at Invasion, as adapted from Dare 2 Share Ministries.

G od created us to be with Him. (Genesis 1-2)
O ur sins separate us from God. (Genesis 3)
S ins cannot be removed by good deeds. (Genesis 4 - Malachi 4)
P aying the price for sin, Jesus died and rose again. (Matthew)
E veryone who trusts in Him alone can have eternal life. (John)
L ife with Jesus starts now and lasts forever. (Acts - Revelation)

Now, please don’t feel like you have to text this like it appears. That won’t make much sense; this is just designed to help you memorize it. Look how easy it is to use this method in a 15 second explanation: “When God created us, His desire was for us to have a relationship with Him, but our sin separates us from God. Just like how Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, so our sin separates us from God. Our sin cannot be erased, no matter how many good things we do—we need a Savior. So Jesus died on the cross to make that transaction between God and us, allowing God to punish the sin and let the sinner go free. Because of this, everyone who puts their faith in Jesus alone, and who lives for Jesus alone, can enter back into a relationship with God. This new life starts now, and goes on forever.”

The Great Commission of Jesus still applies to us, to teach all nations that Jesus is Lord. What are you doing to fulfill this command? Who is the last person you told about Jesus?

I heard of one young lady that used this method and led her friend to Christ through texting. I want to hear other stories. If you use this method, leave a comment and tell us what happened.

"For I am not ashamed of the GOSPEL of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes…" Romans 1:16

Thursday, March 18, 2010

All Things To All Men


One of our favorite verses to use in our evangelism methods is where Paul said that he “becomes all things to all men” so that he might “by all means save some (I Corinthians 9:22).” This is certainly a good idea if we keep it in its proper context and application.

For example, I remember a time in high school where I knew a kid that loved skateboarding. Being the chicken that I am, I was never a skateboarder. All he would talk about was skating, and I knew none of his lingo. But to help develop a relationship with him (he was new to our church and didn’t know many people), I brushed up on my skating lingo so I could ask if he had done any sick ollies lately (impressed?). This would be like Paul saying “to the skateboarder, I became a skateboarder.” This is effective and necessary.

But then there are the people that use this verse to justify doing sinful things in the name of evangelism. The first one that comes to mind is about drinking. Some people will go into the bars to evangelize, which is a great idea, but then they order a round for themselves. If any sanctified Christian dares to oppose them on this practice, they will proudly cite their anthem: I’m becoming all things to all men.

Let’s step back and survey the damage that is done here. These pub evangelists have just given every lost person a license to continue in their very sin! “If he believes in Jesus and does the same things I’m doing, I must be OK.”

The same point was recently made to me in trying to defend a movie that used profanity. Someone told me that the profanity in this movie is being all things to all men. With that logic the same damage is done as with the pub evangelist. If this is the new justification in evangelism, where will we draw the line: Will we become porn stars to reach porn stars? Will we become drug dealers to reach our clients? Come on! This is ridiculous. Let’s stop taking the Bible out of context in order to excuse our sin.

Paul’s quote in I Corinthians 9 is being dangerously misapplied. His original point had nothing to do with giving himself extra liberty, but was all about denying himself the liberty that he already had! Look at his examples. To the weak he became weak, and though he was free, he made himself a servant. It is not that he fed his sinful appetite, but that he denied himself to reach some. We know for a fact that Paul denied himself the right to eat certain meat (which he had the right to eat) in order to keep the opportunity to reach others (read the previous chapter).

Do you really want to reach somebody for Christ? Then find a way to reach one by denying yourself, not by compromising your standards or beliefs. When we compromise, no one is actually reached for Christ, so we miss our goal. We are constantly reaching people by confronting them with their need for change. How many are being reached by drinking, swearing Christians?

Let’s be all things to all men so that we can reach some.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Evangelism


“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”

St. Francis of Assisi is given credit for this famous quote (although that exact phrasing does not appear in any of his writings), and a lot of people would think that this is a great philosophy. His actual quote was that everyone should “preach by their deeds.”

Preaching with our deeds is not just a strategy, it is a necessity. We are commanded all through the Scriptures to let our light shine and be a peculiar people. People should be able to look at our lives and see that we are Christians. They should see the love of Christ readily on display, and thus feel compelled to live their lives in the same way. The sermon that we should preach with our lives is a sermon of love, joy, peace, patience, self-control, forgiveness, conviction, etc.

But this idea that has emerged that says we should ONLY preach with our deeds is a heresy straight from the devil himself. Think about it: who is the one that does not want you to tell people about Jesus—God or Satan?

Believers these days are acting as if we are being overly intrusive by asking people if they believe in Jesus. You would think we were working for the Census Bureau the way we have been criticized for asking people about Jesus.

The new trend is to “have a conversation” with people. If the other person brings up religion, maybe we can insert some harmless little pithy Christian statement in there (“God knows our hearts.”). If they don’t bring up religion, then we will mind our own business as to not “force our beliefs” on them. This mindset is OK to postmodern people because they “got a conversation started.” I have tried to understand this way of thinking, but I just don’t see the merit. If these people die, that conversation will not save their souls.

I love the quote from William Booth of the Salvation Army. He said that if Christians could spend just three seconds in hell, then they would have no problem sharing their faith with anyone. Let’s stop with this conversation nonsense and realize that people all around us are headed for a literal, eternal hell

Lost people know what we believe (that they will go to hell if they don’t change), and that we are supposed to love them. For those of us who are so worried about looking like an evangelical or fundamentalist that we never tell them about Jesus, we are actually selling them short. If we don’t tell them about Jesus, they will know we aren’t showing them love and that we are just hypocrites. If we do tell them about Jesus, even if they reject the message, they will see that we are sincere in our belief and our love. This plants a seed that may be cultivated over time; the “conversation” only highlights the fact that we don’t actually love them enough to tell them about their sin, separation from God, and salvation.

We should be preaching with words everywhere we go. "Conversations" should come after we have initiated the subject of Jesus.

Maybe a better quote would be this:

Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, have a conversation.