What is Wrong With The Modern Approch to Evangelism?

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE
MODERN APPROACH
TO EVANGELISM?

“In many interviews between reporters and known evangelical leaders the reporters have asked,

“If evangelicals really are as numerous as the polls indicate, why is it that there seems to be so little impact on the country? Crime continues to increase, divorce statistics climb…is it that there are really not as many evangelicals as you claim, or is it the case that being “born again” actually makes no difference in how a person lives?

“What is the problem? The problem is that the evangelical movement in America is shallow. It speaks of salvation but it does not grapple with sin. And since it does not grapple with sin there can be no true repentance.

“I am often asked whether we are witnessing a revival today, and I always answer that we are not…there is no revival. There will be no revival until there is an acute awareness of sin, and a genuine turning from it. Until that happens, any national profession of faith will be hollow, and the country will continue to decline, just as Israel did.”1

To the twenty-first century, post–Judeo-Christian mind (and for a large percentage of church members), sin is an abstract concept. It’s not connected to anything. The problem with many would-be soul winners is that they offer the solution (God’s grace) before the impenitent sinner sees the need.

To simply quote Rom. 3:23 and 6:23 to an unregenerate person, and expect them to be convicted by the word sin, is like getting arrested without being told what you are charged with! The average man on the street walks away from the typical “Gospel” presentation thinking to himself,

“This guy is crazy. I’m not a sinner; I’ve never murdered anyone!”

In the back of his mind he compares himself to the people he hears about on the news and justifies himself.

Willfully ignorant of God’s standard of righteousness (sinless perfection), and deceived by the sin nature, he “suppresses the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18), and lives in denial.

Since no one has defined sin for him (and being content not to search out the matter himself), he lives like he is never going to die. Sin (the key doctrine necessary to understanding the need for salvation), if mentioned at all, is just glossed over.

Most people think that since God is good, he will overlook a few minor transgressions. That would be like a criminal standing before a judge and saying, “Sure, I’ve committed a crime or two, but I didn’t kill anyone, and after all, you’re a good guy, can’t you just overlook this one thing?”

The judge would say, “You’re right; I am a good person, and because I am good I must punish criminals.

Only a corrupt judge would allow a guilty person to escape that do a penalty of the law. It is precisely because God is good ((i.e., perfectly holy and just, that He must punish sin. To do otherwise would be to deny Himself.

That is what the Gospel is all about, how God can legally forgive a guilty person without compromising his justice.

J.C. RYLE

Ryle was a preacher’s preacher in 19th century England. In his excellent book entitled, Holiness, Ryle hit the nail on the head with his opening statement,

“The plain truth is that a right knowledge of sin lies at the root of all saving Christianity. Without it, such doctrines as justification, conversion, sanctification, are `words and names’ which convey no meaning to the mind.

“The first thing, therefore, that God does when He makes anyone a new creature in Christ, is to send light into his heart and show him that he is a guilty sinner. The material creation in Genesis began with `light,’ and so also does the spiritual creation.

“God shines into our hearts by the work of the Holy Spirit, and then spiritual life begins . . . . I believe that one of the chief wants of the church . . . has been, and is, clearer, fuller teaching about sin.” 3

The fact is, you cannot understand any of the theological terms related to the doctrine of salvation in the New Testament apart from the doctrine of sin. See for yourself.

Redemption: A term meaning “to release on payment of ransom.” The idea is illustrated in buying a slave and setting him free. The question is, free from what? Eph. 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.”

Salvation: A term meaning “to be saved, or to be delivered.” The question then is, saved or delivered from what? Matt. 1:21: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for He shall save His people from their sins.”

Justification: A legal term meaning “to be declared righteous.” How and why do we need to be declared righteous? Rom. 5:8–9: “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath {of God} through Him.”

Righteousness: An attribute of God Himself, consistent with the nature of God. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Sanctification: A term meaning “to be set apart.” Set apart from what? Acts 26:18: “To open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

Gospel: Means “Good News.” Mark 1:15: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent (from sin) and believe in the Gospel.”

The Cross: Was this not where the body of Christ was broken and His blood shed to satisfy the righteous demand of God’s holy law against sin? “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ (John 19:30). The word “finished,” literally means: “Paid in full.”

There is a direct correlation between God’s love and the cross (see Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:5, 6, 8; Gal. 2:20, Eph. 2:4-5; 5:2, 25; 1 Jn. 3:16; 4:10 and Rev. 1:5).

There are two primary words used in the Bible to communicate the essence of sin. The first is hamartia (ham-ar-tee’-ah), translated in English as “sin.” It literally means to “miss the mark and so not share in the prize.”

This word is well illustrated by a marksman shooting an arrow and missing the bull’s eye. Romans 3:23 assures us that we have all “missed the mark.”

The second word is anomia (an-om-ee’-ah), translated “transgression,” which unlike “missing the mark” (because we were all born imperfect), refers to an act of willful disobedience. That is to willfully, knowingly violate God’s law.

So, from these two words we learn that we are all sinners by nature, and we are all sinners by choice.

KEITH GREEN SAID IT WELL…

“Unless people are truly convicted of sin, if they don’t fully see that they are totally condemned by the requirement of God’s law, then it is virtually impossible to show them the need of a Savior. Why, what would they need to be saved from? fun? That is why our modern Gospel must dwell on “all the good things God’ll do for you if you’d just accept Him!

“We can’t convince a sinner that he needs a savior by just getting him to admit that, “Well, generally, yes, I am a sinner.” He must see how the law of God totally condemns him as a sinner, and then the beauty of the Gospel, the glory of the cross, the marvelous power of Christ’s blood will be able to penetrate his anxious, waiting mind and heart.

“But because there is so little real conviction of sin brought about by the preaching of our modern gospel, we cannot truly require repentance anymore. If we did, no one would “come forward” at all.

“For repentance is easy to him who sees how ugly and horrible sin is, but repentance is impossible where the law does not convince the sinner of his wicked heart, compelling him to turn from his sin into the arms of a waiting, compassionate God.

“The natural tendency of the flesh is to avoid unpleasantness or discomfort, so we offer people a less confrontational, more indirect approach—something Jesus never did.” 2

Walking a person gently and lovingly through the Ten Commandments, and explaining the spiritual application of each one, showing how all of us have broken God’s law in thought, word, and deed, is absolutely, positively, the most convicting (politically incorrect) thing you can say to another human being!

And, since Hell awaits those who refuse to believe, it is also the most loving thing you can do for someone.

Sadly, most people are unwilling to discuss these extremely personal issues. So, in order to avoid pain or embarrassment, we offer people a “Gospel” that has little or no conviction of sin. Just believe Jesus died for you, pray this prayer, and you’re in!

I have seen this over and over again by well-meaning, but misinformed people in the ministry.

PARADOXICALLY ALL WE CAN DO
TO GET INTO HEAVEN IS TO
BELIEVE IN JESUS

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).

The question is, what does it mean to believe, and what am I supposed to believe? Even the demons “believe” in Jesus, and they fear Him, but you won’t see them in heaven (Jas. 2:19).

The word believe is found in the Gospel of John ninety-six times, more than any other book of the Bible. The word translated “believe” in the English Bible comes from the Greek word pisteuo, and is used as a verb; it’s an action word!

It means: to believe in, to trust in, and to rely upon Christ alone for your salvation. It is derived from the same root word as the word faith. To believe in Jesus, means to have faith in Jesus.

And without faith it is impossible to please {Him} for all who come to God must believe that He is, and {that} He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (Heb. 11:6).

And after He had come into the house, the blind men came up to Him, and Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.” Then He touched their eyes, saying, “Be it done to you according to your faith” (Matt. 9:28-29).

SO WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE FAITH?

“In the Hebrew language, there is no word for faith, apart from the idea of faithfulness. In our being faithful to Him we find the purpose for which we were created. That is not bondage, that is liberating. Our faithfulness to Him is the key that unlocks the treasure of all that He has given to us.” 4

So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

His master said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things, enter into the joy of your master” (Matt 25:21).

Genuine faith in Jesus results in a life of faithfulness to Jesus. Who were the epistles written to? “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus, and {who are} faithful in Christ Jesus” (Eph.1:1).

The question now becomes, what does it mean to be faithful?

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36). NASB

When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus (2 Thessalonians 1:7–8).

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15).

Please note, when we talk about obeying God’s commandments, we are talking about practical holiness from a heart of loving gratitude, not justification by works! We do not obey Jesus to get saved. Loving obedience is the result of our salvation, never the cause of it (see Luke 18:13-14, Rom. 1:17, 3:20-24, 10:9, Gal. 3:24, Eph. 2:8-9, and Titus 2:11).

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE?

Who was Jesus? Was He a prophet, a priest, a king, a man, God incarnate, or all of the above?

There are seven “I am” sayings of Jesus in the New Testament. Each one is a clear reference to Exodus 3:14 when God revealed His name to Moses: “I am, that I am.” So, when Jesus said, “Before Abraham was I am,” the Pharisees knew exactly what He meant, and they wanted to stone Him for claiming to be God (Jn 8:58, 59 & 10:30,31).

But Jesus did not just say, “I am the light of the world,” He said, “I am the light of the world,” and He gave sight to a man born blind!

He did not just say, “I am the bread of life,” He said, “I am the bread of life,” and He fed five thousand people!

He did not just say, “I am the resurrection and the life.” He said, “I am the resurrection and the life,” and He called forth Lazarus from the dead!

Each of the “I am” sayings, were accompanied by a miracle which in turn revealed attributes that belong to God alone. For example, the one miracle that Jesus performed more than any other was giving sight to the blind. Compare that to what God said in Exodus 4:11,

And the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes {him} dumb or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

These three “I am,” sayings show Jesus to be the Creator, the Sustainer, and the Redeemer of mankind. How about when He said, “Peace be still,” and the winds and the sea obeyed Him?

How about, “Destroy this temple and in three days, I will raise it?” He was speaking of rasing Himself from the dead! Only God can do that!

There are hundreds of examples of Christ’s divinity in the New Testament, that however, are beyond the scope of this book. The point is, unless you believe that Jesus is who He said He was, well, I’ll let Him tell you…

I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am {He} you shall die in your sins (John 8:24).

Here are just a few more examples in the New Testament:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (John 1:1-2).

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14).

I and the Father are one (John 10:30).

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and {yet} you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father (John 14:9)?

And not finding any {way} to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, right in the center, in front of Jesus. And seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, “Who is this {man} who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone (Luke 5:19-21)?

And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace {be} with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.”
Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:26-28).

Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus (Titus 2:13).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence (Col 1:15-18).

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty (Rev. 1:8).

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie.

I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. I Am Coming Quickly. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

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