[Re-posted from my former Typepad blog, The Narrow Road. First posted SE 19, 2007.]
Active evangelism is high adventure Christianity. Its practice offers an even greater high than that of deal-making or commission sales because the stakes are eternal. The psalmist declares, “For the ransom of a life is too costly, and [the price one can pay] can never suffice—so that he should live on forever and never see the pit (the grave) and corruption.” (Psalm 49:8-9). And the Lord commends our outreach to those without Christ: “He who is wise captures human lives [for God, as a fisher of men—he gathers and receives them for eternity].” (Proverbs 12:30).
A few months ago while visiting and ministering in Raleigh, NC Pastors Ray and Renaid Almgren of Victory Christian Tabernacle (Monroeville, PA) shared the prophetic thought that the broad activation of prophetic evangelism was the key to unlocking the moving of the Holy Spirit in a city. Certainly development in and utilization of the giftings of either the word of knowledge or the word of wisdom (I Corinthians 12:8) adds an exciting and quite supernatural element to soul-winning. Several sites pertaining to the prophetic in evangelism are worth perusing:
Ray Comfort in a book just published last year, The Way of the Master, is seeking to revolutionize the whole contemporary method of evangelism. Comfort wants to return believers to evangelism the way Jesus practiced it: a message of Law and Judgment to the proud and hard-hearted and a message of grace to the humble folk. Ray call us to always incorporate God’s standard of righteousness embodied in the Ten Commandments in order to shatter the prevailing mindset that people are basically good. He says we must appeal to the conscience of man and offer Jesus Christ crucified as the only remedy to human sin and depravity, guilt, condemnation, the wrath of God, judgment and eternal hellfire. Click on the good person test below to experience this approach: http://christiananswers.net/gospel/goodperson.html.
Comfort connects the fact that our churches are filled with those not truly born-again and those who have never really repented and the lukewarm to the fact that God’s Law or standard is not upheld, and thus sin is not defined. Further, people don’t really see what Jesus actually did in restoring wretched sinners to relationship with a most holy God. He is even further a God of wrath towards human rebellion. We must return to the preaching of the realities of final judgment, damnation, and eternal burning in hell for those who refuse the Lordship of God’s Son Jesus Christ. 180-degree repentance is the only avenue of escape for mankind.
From THE MESSAGE John 3 excerpt:
[ Born from Above ] There was a man of the Pharisee sect, Nicodemus, a prominent leader among the Jews. Late one night he visited Jesus and said, “Rabbi, we all know you’re a teacher straight from God. No one could do all the God-pointing, God-revealing acts you do if God weren’t in on it.” Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom.”]
A couple of quotes from The Way of the Master are instructive:
What has the modern evangelist done? He has failed to awaken the blind sinner to his true plight. Instead, he has given him false peace. Now not only is the blind man still heading toward a horrible death, but he is deaf toward any further verbal warning. The message of peace has done him an unspeakable disservice. (p. 238).
Millions of people have been given “assurance of salvation,” yet they are strangers to Biblical repentance. The Law has never awakened them. They have never been warned to turn from the cliffs of eternal destruction. Now, because of the techniques of contemporary evangelism, their ears are deaf to the true message of salvation. (p. 238).
Comfort goes on to explain:
To presume that the unregenerate man already has the necessary light to be saved is to have a head-on collision with the many Scriptures asserting that there is none who understands (Psalm 53:1-3; Romans 3:11-12; 8:7). If we adulterate the Word of God by making the Law invalid in its lawful use of bringing light to sinners, we will have adulterous converts. Their hearts will love the world and the things in the world. But as we teach all nations and, like the disciples, do not cease “teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42), we will see sinners come to “know His will, and approve the things that are excellent, being instructed out of the Law” (Romans 2:18, emphasis added). (p. 274).
Comfort adds the perspective:
‘In survey after survey, researchers find that the lifestyles of born-again Christians are virtually indistinguishable from those of nonbelievers. The divorce rate among Christians is identical to that of nonbelievers. Christian teens are almost as sexually active as non-Christian teens. Pornography, materialism, gluttony, lust, covetousness, and even disbelief are commonplace in many of our churches.’ (p. 276).
He concludes: A clear understanding of the reality of true and false conversion would give light to church leaders who are horrified at the state of what they see as “the Church.” Such teaching would also stop the insanity of modern evangelism’s zeal without knowledge by showing that the category of lukewarm “converts” doesn’t exist. There is no division in the kingdom of God for those who are tepid. We should be either hot and stimulating or cold and refreshing. Lukewarm “converts” are not part of the body of Christ—they merely weigh heavy within the stomach of His body until He vomits them out of His mouth on the Day of Judgment (see Revelation 3:16). Because they didn’t pass through the jagged-edged teeth of the Law of God, they remain hard and impenitent. They were never broken by the Law that they might be absorbed into the bloodstream of the Body of Christ, to become His hands, His feet, and His mouth. They never felt the heartbeat of God….This mass of converts is like the “backslider in heart” who is “filled with his own ways” rather than the ways of God (Proverbs 14:14). (p. 276).
And what about all the intellectual objections to Christianity that are out there today? Comfort addresses these this way: It’s important to realize that some people do have genuine intellectual hindrances to faith, and these should be addressed. However, Albert Proudheart’s dilemma is a little deeper than he would have you know. The Bible warns us that in these last days men will scoff….We are even told that their motivation for being “willingly…ignorant” is their love of lust (2 Peter 3:1-7 KJV). No, Albert Proudheart doesn’t really have an intellectual problem with Christianity. He has a problem with his own heart. He loves sin. He drinks it in like water. Because of this, he has no concern for his eternal salvation. His mind is overtaken by something far more interesting. He’s feeding on sin’s succulent pleasures. Don’t argue with him. Instead, flick the switch that will suck the air from him. Learn to do what the Master did. Use the Law.
Ray Comfort’s The Way of the Master, as these quotations suggest, is helpful reading for anyone concerned with the state of the church, our darkening culture, and the fact that we ourselves will stand one day before God. Then, the Father will ask us whether we have obeyed Jesus’ Mark 16:15 directive, “Go into all the world and preach and publish openly the good news (the Gospel) to every creature [of the whole human race].” The book is approximately 350 pages long and makes a clear case for revamping popular evangelistic programs. As well as his book, Comfort produces original tracts, courses in soul-winning, and other resources. His site is The Way of the Master.
Another organization, The Pocket Testament League, provides free Gospels of John for those who will pass them out. They train believers to testify of Christ, too. This league backs up those who distribute their Gospels with prayer out of their corporate offices in Lititz, Pennsylvania. Go to www.ptl.org for details.
Some believers, including myself, write their own tracts. I include a brief account of my own coming to know Christ plus the Scriptures Isaiah 53:2-6; I John 1:7,9; I Thessalonians 1:10; and Acts 16:3. I then add a clear and succinct prayer of repentance, forgiveness, and invitation to Jesus to become Lord of one’s life. And I laser print them by the hundreds on colored copy paper. Americans are in a hurry and tracts are a means to reach people in shops, schools, and workplaces. Putting your own story in print provides a great conversation starter as well. I have blessed many people through handing them a testimony about Jesus. [Do go to http://lettersofchrist.wordpress.com to contract with me to write / format and / or edit your feature story of coming to know salvation in Jesus the Christ. Mission: lost souls.]
Intentional dialogue and relationship building with unbelievers are missionary endeavors we all must engage in. The possibilities for circulation in the pagan world around us are numerous. Of late I have been going to area college alumni social events as well as writers’ functions. Also, every city has www.meetup.com, a directory of all kinds of interest groups. We must consider ourselves at this point in time as actual missionaries in a pagan land, become well-versed in the defense of the Gospel, and go out and tell people about Jesus. The course of our nation hangs in the balance.
Jesus Himself testified to the fulfillment that comes to those who will labor for the salvation of men. He said, “I have food (nourishment) to eat of which you know nothing and have no idea. My food (nourishment) is to do the will (pleasure) of Him Who sent Me and to accomplish and completely finish His work. . . . I tell you, raise your eyes and observe the fields and see how they are already white for harvesting.”
Finally, the Father has entrusted us with a call to warn people. In Ezekiel 3:17-21 He says,
Whenever I send my people a warning, pass it on to them at once. If you refuse to warn the wicked when I want you to tell them, you are under the penalty of death, therefore, repent and save your life—they will die in their sins, but I will punish you. I will demand your blood for theirs. But if you warn them and they keep on sinning, and refuse to repent, they will die in their sins, but you are blameless—you have done all you could. And if a good man becomes bad, and you refuse to warn him of the consequences, and the Lord destroys him, his previous good deeds won’t help him—he shall die in his sin. But I will hold you responsible for his death, and punish you. But if you warn him and he repents, he shall live and you have saved your own life too.
Ezekiel 3:17-21 is a warning from God to us that we cannot ignore.