Election and Evangelism

“People often argue that this doctrine of divine election and choice leaves no place for evangelism, for preaching the gospel, for urging people to repent and to believe, and for the use of arguments and persuasions in doing so. But there is no contradiction here any more than there is in saying that since it is God that gives us the crops of corn in the autumn, therefore the farmer need not plough and harrow and sow; the answer to which is that God has ordained both. God has chosen to call out His people by means of evangelism and the preaching of the Word. He ordains the means as well as the end.”

~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones (Ephesians – God’s Ultimate Purpose)

Weekend Roundup: Seven Articles for your Musings

I know. I know. It is Monday so it is a little late for a “weekend roundup” but in my household the kids have a four day weekend from school so technically for me this still counts!

The False Teachers: This sounds like it will be good. Tim Challies is starting out a new series of articles that will scan the history of the church and pause to examine some of Christianity’s most notorious false teachers. The first one is Arius.

Missionary Biographies: Here is another church history link but of a different focus. This one is about the power and importance of reading missionary biographies and at the bottom actually provides a link to a great list of free ebooks of missionary biographies! Read up and may the Lord put a fire in your heart for the glory of his name and declaring it to all peoples!

Common Objections: The Old Testament is Full of Rape, Murder, Slavery, Homophobia: Over at monergism.com John Hendryx gives a very gracious and powerful response to some of these common objections. Read up so that you might be ready to give an answer for the hope that is in you!

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God: Nice review of a good book that I highly recommend. I have a very old beaten up copy of it in my library.

Looking to Christ in the Loss of a Child: As the article says, “The loss of a child is painful, deeply painful” but “In Christ, grief will not the last word.”

7 Truths for a Christ-Centered Marriage: This is the first of a mini-series on marriage that was timed to coincide with the week of Valentine’s day. I encourage you to read them all.

Final Focus: OK preachers and teachers – what is the final focus of your sermons?

Enjoy!

The Message of the Gospel is not “Behave!”

Wise, wise words from Jared Wilson. Oh how today’s church needs to hear this again and again. The gospel is not about making bad people good, it is about making dead people live! Take a few minutes to read this; it is time well spent.

This is the major malfunction of American evangelicalism’s political idolatry. To the extent we equate God’s blessings and his kingdom coming to bear with the right men on Capitol Hill and the right laws in place, we settle for moralism and a righteousness born of self.
We’d all reject this theologically, I think, but it is implicitly central in a lot of the rhetoric and the exasperation from American Christians about what’s wrong with America, etc etc.

As I was waiting for my ride to the airport from the hotel in Louisville, KY last week after the Together 4 the Gospel Conference, I was reminded of cultural Christianity’s real concerns. The transportation attendant at the hotel noticed from my tag that I was from Vermont. Our conversation went like this:

Him: “You’re from Vermont?”

Me: “Yup.”

Him: “That’s great. That van load that just left were from Vermont.”

Me: “Oh cool.”

Him: “Yeah. Good to know you guys are getting the good news out up there.”

Me: “Well, we’re trying.”

Him: “Need to get some Republicans up there.”

And there I was transported back to everything that drives me nuts about American evangelicalism: the equation of the good news with something other than the gospel of Jesus Christ, in this case — as is often the case — with political conservatism.

I believe many Christians in America would be satisfied if “the culture” just stopped using pornography and drugs and alcohol and stopped aborting babies and started “acting right.” As far as I can tell, that would be a Win.

But it’s not a win. A land where everybody acts right and is on their best behavior, where peace reigns and social decay is no more and the poor are helped and the hungry are fed, but Christ is not worshiped as the sole supreme satisfaction in all the universe, is a big fat FAIL.

As C.S. Lewis says:

We must not suppose that if we succeeded in making everyone nice we should have saved their souls. A world of nice people, content in their own niceness, looking no further, turned away from God, would be just as desperately in need of salvation as a miserable world.

The message of the gospel is not “Behave!”

But that is the message American evangelicalism — Southern and Northeastern, and most other places — has been proclaiming. It is at its heart pharisaical.

We are called to preach not moralism but Christ crucified, foolishness to American culture and a stumbling block to American Christians.

Michael Horton illustrates this well in his book Christless Christianity:

What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over half a century ago, Presbyterian minister Donald Grey Barnhouse offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia (the city where Barnhouse pastored), all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday . . . where Christ is not preached.

There is a great difference between “being good” and the gospel. Some call it moralism. Moralism, in fact, blinds us from the gospel by giving us something of “the real thing” ensuring that we miss out on the true gospel all together. We must remember that Christ came first not to make bad people good but to make dead people live. If we forget that, our Christianity will turn out to be Christless.

Seven Habits of Highly Evangelistic Christians

Thom Rainer, President and CEO of Lifeway, argues that the secret to being an evangelistic church “is really no secret at all. Ultimately evangelistic churches see more persons become Christians through the passionate efforts of highly evangelistic Christians.”

And what characterizes these highly evangelistic Christians? Read on (bold type added for clarity).

1. They are people of prayer. They realize that only God can convict and convert, and they are totally dependent upon Him in prayer. Most of the highly evangelistic Christians spend at least an hour in prayer each day.

2. They have a theology that compels them to evangelize. They believe in the urgency of the gospel message. They believe that Christ is the only way of salvation. They believe that anyone without Christ is doomed for a literal hell.

3. They are people who spend time in the Word. The more time they spend in the Bible, they more likely they are to see the lostness of humanity and the love of God in Christ to save those who are lost.

4. They are compassionate people. Their heart breaks for those who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. They have learned to love the world by becoming more like Christ who has the greatest love for the world.

5. They love the communities where God has placed them. They are immersed in the culture because they desire for the light of Christ to shine through them in their communities.

6. They are intentional about evangelism. They pray for opportunities to share the gospel. They look for those opportunities. And they see many so-called casual encounters as appointments set by God.

7. They are accountable to someone for their evangelistic activities. They know that many good activities can replace Great Commission activities if they are not careful. Good can replace the best. So they make certain that someone holds them accountable each week either formally or informally for their evangelistic efforts.

I really appreciate how he ends the article:

Sometimes we ask the question “What is my church doing to become more evangelistic?” But the better question is “What am I doing to become more evangelistic?”

Charles H. Spurgeon was right. We need more soul winners.

We need more highly evangelistic Christians.

Be sure to read the whole article.