Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Did He Invite?
In Mark 1, Mark encapsulates the work of the Lord Jesus Christ as: "Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel" (vv. 14, 15). Jesus did not invite people to gatherings. Galilee was the most populous of the regions of Palestine. He went there and preached right where the people were. Paul later tells us that "the gospel is the power of God unto salvation" (Rom. 1:16). Not much gospel preaching is happening today. Two other activities occur: 1) Inviting people to church, and 2) Taking people through a system of verses and repeating a prayer at the end. There isn't one example in the New Testament of anyone inviting someone to church. We are commanded nowhere to invite the unsaved to gather with believers.
People have a lot of reasons why they don't follow the example of Jesus in His work. "It doesn't work." "People get turned off." "You lose opportunities." "People don't like to have it shoved down their throats." Of course, none of these are Scriptural. These reasons manifest pragmatism. Sometimes "if it works, do it" is called "practical." Obeying Scripture is called "impractical." Many point to results to justify. However, none of us can judge results. God always uses the same means to save people---His Word---but He is glorified when we follow the Scriptural pattern. Not doing so is leaning on our own understanding, not acknowledging Him, and then not having Him direct our paths. Who directs the path when we do it our way? We do, of course. Does it work out better when we do it our way? Never. We know that by faith. Living by faith requires putting aside what we think will work. God sees things in one eternal present. We can't know the damage that using false methodology does. We might see numerical success, encourage others to do the same as us, and now dozens and hundreds of churches are mimicking us because what we do has shown results. In all of this, we are honored and God is ignored.
Preaching the wrong gospel is worse. The ones who invented and then perfected the travesty of corrupt evangelism have made it into a slick business presentation. Some of the same ones talk about having the power of God in evangelism, and they go out and misrepresent Scripture. The power of God is found in the Word of God (Heb. 4:12), the sword of the Holy Spirit (Eph. 6:17). Instead, men have taken out repentance, counting the cost, and the message of the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Ninety times in Acts Jesus is called Lord and only twice, Savior. Christ's Lordship was the saving message of the apostles. In 2 Peter 2:1, denying Lordship is said to be what most characterizes the apostate. Is it possible that these non-Lordship "evangelists" have simply spread apostacy throughout the land, explaining why so many professions, and yet so much godlessness.
This issue is really simple. Look at the methods of Jesus and the apostles and follow them. They were not complex. These methods did require studying the Word of God to do real spiritual warfare, to pull down strongholds in men's minds. They required faith and courage. They weren't expensive, except to each individual who was setting himself apart as a Christian in a godless society. The emphasis is no longer going out to where people are and preaching the truth. We know that the preaching of the cross is foolishness to the lost. We can't make true preaching into anything else to them. The new emphasis is making the church into something the world will want to visit or the message into something that the world will want to hear, and in so doing, we are dishonoring God, turning men into darkness, glorifying man, and ruining the soil that could perhaps be much more pliant if professing believers had done otherwise.