Monday, October 02, 2006

21st century evangelism


Saw this posted up on the wall of a church down the street:

I see at least three mistakes here:

A category confusion of evangelism and conversion - In writing, "21st century Evangelism: Conversation, not Conversion", they have confused two concepts which should never be confused. Evangelism is the God-given responsibility to Christians and to the church to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. Conversion is the supernatural work of God to regenerate hearts that are spiritually dead. If we ever confuse these two concepts, it will either result in apathy and disobedience (when we think that evangelism is the work of God), or in coercion and violence (when we think that conversion is the work of man). Clearly, either of these errors will lead to terrible results. We must have a right understanding of evangelism and conversion as two distinct activities.

Evangelism is more than conversation - Evangelism certainly can (and should) involve conversation and interaction. In fact, it is important that we understand where others are coming from and to treat them with dignity and respect. However, ultimately, evangelism is not a two-way dialogue concerning what is the truth. Ultimately, evangelism is a faithful proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, according to His revelation. In this day and age, such a proclamation might be considered arrogant or dogmatic, but true humility is not trying to make the Word of God more palatable to human tastes, but humbly accepting the Word of God and faithfully proclaiming it. True humility is submitting to the Word of God. Therefore, we must measure true success in evangelism as faithfulness to the Gospel.

"Conversation, Not Conversion" - Though true success in evangelism is faithfulness to the Gospel, our heart's desire is that God would save sinners, not simply to have a meaningful conversation. Now, theological liberalism's desire for "conversation" is not necessarily a bad thing, and certainly God can use conversations. But we must not be content with simply that. We must understand that a "conversation" will not save anyone from God's wrath. "Conversation" will not help anyone put their sinful nature to death. "Conversation" will not open spiritually blind eyes to the glory of God's grace displayed at the cross. What is needed is the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to exchange our hearts of stone for a heart of flesh. Therefore, we absolutely need conversion. As Christ said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

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