Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Dust Storm of Evangelism, pt. 2

Part One

I've written on the motivation for evangelism already this year (here), but in light of the dust storm of evangelism, I want to revisit.   In part one, I wrote that evangelicals in our area have a goal of numerical growth, making their group get bigger.  They are motivated by getting bigger and all that goes along with that.  If they do get bigger, they claim that as evidence of God's working.

Someone who would seem on the other end of the spectrum from the evangelicals, Steven Anderson, also presents unfounded numerical success as a motivation to his adherents for "soulwinning," which isn't biblical evangelism.

In both above cases, little to no evangelism occurs.  Numerical success is the motive and different strategies are employed to reach that same goal.  Evangelism is difficult.  People don't want to evangelize.  In both examples, it really isn't being done, because both parties are missing the point.

A dust storm of evangelism arises from either no motivation, a lack of motivation, or the wrong motivation for evangelism, so evangelism isn't done, doesn't take place.  The impression is that it is getting done because people see numbers.  It isn't.  More damage is done than good because of this dust storm created, indicative of a lot of activity, leaving an impression that things are going great.

Evangelism is preaching the gospel. That's what the word means.  Evangelism is a compound word with the words "good news" and "proclaim" in it.  The good news is that people can be saved.  Evangelism is proclaiming to an individual or a group how that God can and will save them.  Evangelism occurs when a believer preaches the gospel to an unbeliever.  There are many unbelievers compared to much fewer believers.  Believers don't lack in recipients or targets for evangelism.  They are everywhere in every direction local, regional, statewide, throughout the country and the world.

Actual evangelism is supposed to be the means of the numerical growth of the church.  Scripture at least implies church growth as a motivation in scripture, just not the most common or obvious one.  It is an indirect motivation. The Jerusalem church grew through evangelism.  The Apostle Paul said the edifying of the body of Christ occurs through the work of the ministry (Eph 4), and the primary work of the ministry is evangelism.

Even with numerical growth tied to evangelism, the evangelist can't take credit for it.  The Apostle Paul also wrote in 1 Corinthians 3 that God gives the increase, not the ones who sow or water in evangelism.  If evangelism is done according to scripture, God gives the increase, not men.  The two strategies I mentioned above and in the first post are not of God.  They aren't God giving the increase.  Whatever results are produced through the man-made methods implemented, God doesn't get the glory from those, even if actual conversion is produced, which is unlikely.

A church should grow through evangelism, not other means.  That is the way for churches to grow, but growth isn't presented as a motivation for evangelism.  It is presented as a reality, but not as a motivation, perhaps because very often churches are not growing to the extent the membership wants it to.  They can't give up on evangelism just because they aren't seeing the results they want to see.  Growth won't sustain someone as a motive for evangelism.  It is exciting when people get saved, but when they don't, that shouldn't stop church members from evangelizing.

What should motivate believers to evangelize is simple.  The first is obedience to the Lord's command, but this is also tied into love.  We love God by keeping His commandments.  He commanded us to evangelize, so by obeying that command, believers are obedient, but they are also loving.  In Romans 1, Paul says he worshiped God in the gospel, which I believe means that He was worshiping God by preaching the gospel.  This is how someone presents his body a living sacrifice unto God.  If I'm not evangelizing, I don't think I'm obedient and I don't think I'm loving God.  We love Him because He first loved us, which is to say that we will evangelize if we are saved.

God is seeking for true worshipers and I want Him to have more worshipers too.  Everyone should worship Him, but they won't without the gospel.  I have to preach the gospel to someone if I want him to become a true worshiper, so I do.  This still relates to obedience and love.  I want God to be worshiped because I love Him.  He deserves it.  He deserves all worship and praise.

You can't love your neighbor as yourself if he's not saved and you don't preach the gospel to him.  Loving others is another reason.  This is tied into corollaries, like people going to Hell.  Allowing someone to go to Hell without warning is not loving.  We're responsible for warning people, who are headed to destruction.

I don't have any other actual motives for evangelism than obeying God, and then loving God and others.  I have other motives for the obedience and the love, but not for evangelism.  God is good.  God's way is best.  Evangelism is success, because doing what God says is success.

I'm happier when I'm obedient, because I'm fulfilled.  Fulfillment comes from fellowship with Christ.  I fellowship with Christ by conforming to His image.  I fellowship with Him by being like Him.

All of my motivation starts in my imagination.  I have to think about it according to scripture.  The feelings proceed from the right thinking.  My feelings follow my actions.  I don't feel right until I'm doing it and God gives me that peace and joy as fruit of the Spirit.  I'm submitting to the Spirit, not quenching Him, and my attitude becomes what it should be.

A dust storm of evangelism arises from no motivation to a lack of motivation.  If people will not receive the right motive, salvation should be questioned.  This is an unfaithful person.  He's not faithful to God, because he's not faithful to God's Word, which is how someone is faithful.  This is the correct view of the gospel, that it changes lives.  It changes someone into the image of Christ.  He will evangelize like Christ.  If he doesn't, and he doesn't show that Christlikeness, I doubt whether he is a saved person.  I'm in Christ and He is in me and that produces His image in my life.  I expect that of every Christian.

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