Category Archives: Evangelism

Albert Mohler Blog: “Keeping the Evangel in Evangelism: Why Evangelicalism Can’t Abandon the Old, Old Story”

In this essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. reflects on the centrality and urgency of evangelism in a post-Christian world. Mohler writes:

“Historical evangelicalism has always valued both theological principle and vigorous evangelism. Indeed, we cannot be authentically and faithfully evangelical without holding both of these features in tandem. The unity between evangelical theology and evangelism is not forced or fabricated. Our theological convictions should irrevocably give birth to our evangelistic fervor.”

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The Call to Repentance and the Championing of Grace

“We’re losing the nerve to call people to repentance.”

That’s what a retired pastor recently told me, expressing his concern that while the next generation loves to champion the unconditional love and grace of God, rarely does their message include Christ’s call to repentance. Younger pastors, he said, want to meet people where they are, in whatever mess they’re in, and let the Spirit clean them up later. God will deal with their sins down the road.

But in the Gospels, Jesus seems much more extreme. His good news was the announcement of God’s kingdom, and the first word to follow? “Repent!” No wonder Jesus didn’t tell the rich young ruler to walk with Him for a while until he stopped coveting. No, He got to the root of an unrepentant heart when He said, “Sell all your possessions and give them to the poor.” In other words, Repent. Turn around.

“I’m cheering for the next generation,” the pastor said, “but I feel like an ogre for stressing repentance all the time.”

Maybe you feel like that pastor. You’re concerned that the evangelical church is shaving off the hard edges of the gospel. You agree with the sentiment recently expressed by Kevin DeYoung, that repentance has become the “missing word in our gospel.” And yet you are concerned that that you may appear harsh and unloving if you stress repentance. Shouldn’t we just focus on grace?

Who Separated Grace and Repentance?

Here’s where we so easily take a wrong turn. Wherever did we get the notion that the call to repentance is opposed to the championing of grace? When did truth and grace get separated? Or repentance and faith?

To think that the message of grace and the call of repentance are opposed to one another is to miss the beautiful, grace-filled nature of what repentance actually is. The call to repent is one of greatest expressions of the love of God.

Christians, We Are Repenters

During the years I spent doing mission work in Romania, I came to see myself not only as a Christian, but as a repenter – a derogatory term applied to Romanian evangelicals, but one that was embraced as an accurate description of the full Christian life. Martin Luther kicked off the Protestant Reformation by reclaiming this truth, that the whole of the Christian life is to be one of repentance.

That’s why it puzzles me whenever I hear Christians talk about repentance as if it’s a harsh word that needs to be “balanced” by grace and love. We could make the case that grace is even more scandalous and offensive. And love in action, as Dostoevsky wrote, is a harsh and fearful thing compared to love in dreams.

God’s Compassion Behind His Command

For some reason, Christians frequently pit God’s compassion over against God’s command. No, no, no. God’s compassion doesn’t do away with His command. God’s compassion is the basis for His command. God commands us to repent not because He is an angry tyrant who wants to squash our fun, but because He is a loving Father who wants our best.

Our youngest child is four. Let’s say that his idea of fun is taking toys and stuffing them into the wall outlets at home. As his father, I raise my voice and say, “Son, stop! Don’t do that again.” His four-year-old mind may wonder why I’m making such a big deal of his little game. Why is Daddy being firm? Why does he sound so mean? Why is he squelching my fun? Imagine a counselor who comes along and says, “You know, a father needs to show some compassion. You need to show grace.”

Amen to compassion and amen to grace! The question is: What form does grace take on in this situation? Would it be compassionate for a father to let his son run into danger? Would it be gracious to fail to warn a child of painful consequences? No. The father’s command—his warning and the raising of his voice—is not a failure of compassion, but the very way he demonstrates his love for his son.

The Call to Repentance as an Expression of Grace

Likewise, when we call people to repent, we are not opposing God’s grace; we are expressing it. The kindness of the Lord is behind His call to repentance.

When you read the Old Testament prophets, you see that their main message is Repent or else! But read a little closer. Their call is far from the comic strip with the long-haired prophet walking around casually with a sign, clear on the message but cold and distant to the reader. The striking aspect about the warnings we find in the prophets is how often God’s anger is expressed in a context of grieving and weeping. The angry, fiery God of judgment is the spurned Husband who wants to woo back His wayward people from the brink of destruction.

The call to repentance is the call to return home. It’s the call to be refreshed by our tears. It’s the call to be cleansed from all our guilty stains. We need the scalpel of the Spirit to do surgery on our diseased hearts, so that we can be restored to spiritual health.

Don’t pit the call to repentance against the championing of grace. Jesus didn’t. Paul didn’t. We shouldn’t either.

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The Young Roman Catholic Man Who Clenched His Fist

(Jordan Standridge – The Cripplegate) “So I asked him a third question, and I let him know that I ask this question in order to really get to the heart of what someone believes about how they are going to Heaven. I asked him, “If you were to die tonight, and were to stand before God, and He were to ask you why should I let you into Heaven?”

Let me tell you about a Gospel conversation I had recently that left an impression on my heart.

Tim was a very polite guy.

He was cordial and respectful. He listened carefully and was obviously raised well by his parents. He was well dressed and was very articulate. Tim was also very religious.

I start off every conversation with the same question I ask everyone, “If it applies, what are two reasons you stopped going to church?” Tim answered that he goes to Catholic mass every week.

So I asked him my second question, “Coming from a Catholic perspective, what would you say the Gospel is?” He said it was the Bible. When I asked him what the “good news” of the Gospel was, he said that it was the possibility to live a better life and to go to Heaven.

So I asked him a third question, and I let him know that I ask this question in order to really get to the heart of what someone believes about how they are going to Heaven. I asked him, “If you were to die tonight, and were to stand before God, and He were to ask you why should I let you into Heaven? What would you say?” He thought about it for a few seconds and said, “I don’t think I’d say anything. I would expect the Lord to know whether I deserve Heaven or not.”

So that began a 40 minute conversation. Back and forth we talked about the differences between what we were saying. I asked if I could share the Gospel with him, he agreed and listened as carefully as he could.

Overall I was incredibly thankful for the conversation, I thought it well really well. We smiled at each other and listened to each other respectfully. But what was obvious to both of us is that we clearly believed in two different salvations. He stated that he needed to take the mass every Sunday in order to, not only stay within the possibility of being saved, but to achieve salvation. He clearly understood the fact that his religion was performance-based and that mine was an instantaneous salvation.

At the end of our conversation, I gave him a tract and encouraged him to read some verses from Scripture. I also said what I always say, that death is around the corner for all of us, and that we must trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. Then, we shook hands and he walked off.

And then something happened.

As he began walking away, holding the tract in his hand, all of a sudden, he clenched his fist and destroyed the tract. I was shocked. Our conversation was among the most respectful I may have ever had. I knew he was frustrated with the idea that our salvation doesn’t depend on us at all, and I could tell that he was super uncomfortable with it throughout our conversation, but I never expected that level of anger from him.

As I thought through our conversation over the last few months, I am reminded of so many truths from Scripture.  View article →

See our Research Paper on Roman Catholicism

Source: The Young Roman Catholic Man Who Clenched His Fist

Billy Graham: Who is Jesus?

As the world remembers the life of the Evangelist Billy Graham, I’ve been taking the opportunity to listen to his messages.  This video was recorded in 1971 in Chicago.  The title is “Who is Jesus?”

Enjoy.

Billy Graham’s Timeless 1986 Message to Anyone Who’s Not Sure They’re Going to Heaven

Billy Graham’s death has ushered in a viral response across the globe, as people remember the powerful and life-changing messages that the famed Christian evangelist shared over his seven-decade career.

READ: 10 Celebs Whose Lives Were Completely Transformed by Billy Graham

At the core of Graham’s preaching was the gospel — the belief that accepting Jesus is essential to transforming the human heart and ensuring one’s eternal place in heaven.

One particular sermon that Graham delivered back in 1986 in Tallahassee, Florida, has re-emerged over the years, and with good reason, as it describes what it truly means to accept Christ. And that timeless message is worth revisiting.

“Decisions are made whether we make them or not. Time decides if you will not and time always decides against you. There’s a lonely arena in the depths of your heart where the greatest battle of life must be fought alone,” Graham proclaimed. “That’s your decision about Christ. Your parents can’t make it for you, the church can’t make it for you, your friends can’t make it for you, your girlfriend, your boyfriend can’t make it for you. You must make it yourself.”

And the evangelist wasn’t done there. He implored his audience to remember that their acceptance or rejection of Christ would decide where they’d end up in 100 years.

“If you’re not sure that you’re ready to meet God, if you’re not sure that you’re going to heaven … that your sins are forgiven, you come and make sure tonight,” he said.

Watch Graham’s powerful and timeless message below:

Will You Pray for Awakening? Download Your Free Prayer Guide

We live in a world that needs awakening. What is awakening? It is a powerful movement of the Spirit of God to convert many people to Christ and to renew in His church a zeal for His truth, for spiritual growth, and for missions. This was Dr. Sproul’s passion, and in the final years of his life, he was constantly in prayer for awakening. He prayed and labored to see nonbelievers and the church itself awakened to the true character of God. So vital is this concern to Ligonier Ministries, we made awakening the theme of our 2018 National Conference and dedicated the entire year to pray for awakening.

When just two men–Paul and Silas–prayed, the earth itself shook (Acts 16:25-26). To help as many people as possible join us, we produced this free prayer guide. Download it today at PrayForAwakening.com or order the prayer booklet in packs of 10 to share with your friends, family, and church community.

To use the guide, find the prayer that corresponds to the current week. Each week of the month focuses on a different group to pray for, starting with you and your family and expanding to larger communities. Please share your desire to #PrayForAwakening on social media.

February Prayer Focus:

  • Week 1: Pray that you and your family would be transformed by the renewal of the mind according to the Word of God. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2)
  • Week 2: Pray that you and your church would contend for the faith so that it may be proclaimed with clarity to your neighbors. “I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 3)
  • Week 3: Pray that your nation and city would treat the name of God as holy. “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matt. 6:9)
  • Week 4: Pray that people in many nations would join themselves to the Lord by faith in Christ alone. “Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people.” (Zech. 2:11)

We hope this prayer guide encourages you this year and in future years. Join us in praying fervently for a mighty movement of God’s Spirit today, thankful that He has graciously promised to hear us, and confident that He will answer our prayers according to His will.

Don’t “Share Your Faith”

Code: B180129

Our postmodern culture gnashes its teeth at biblical evangelism. Their commitment to subjectivity and relativism cannot accommodate a religion that is exclusive, narrow, and declares non-negotiable truth. And that shouldn’t surprise us—Jesus told us to expect to be hated in the same way that He was (John 15:18).

Moreover, Scripture also warns against appeasing (James 4:4) or imbibing (Romans 12:2) the world’s values. But that’s easier said than done. We are called to separatism without monasticism—being in the world but not of the world. We can’t live our lives and engage our mission field without coming into contact with pagan culture.

For most of us it’s difficult to avoid marinating in the postmodern thinking of our friends, families, and colleagues. And we see signs of this even in the realm of evangelism.

The phrase “share your faith” is now deeply embedded in the evangelical vernacular. Most of us use it as a synonym for our evangelistic encounters, myself included. But those three words reek of postmodern subjectivity—a point not lost on John MacArthur:

It’s not your faith and you can’t share it. . . . That is a not-so-very subtle overture to the post-modern mentality that says my faith is my faith and I certainly would be happy to share it with you.

That’s not at all what we want to do. We want to explain the faith, the Christian faith, truth. And our greatest example for that is the Lord Jesus, who throughout His ministry presented the truth. . . . Jesus was relentlessly committed to the truth. He spoke the absolute truth into every situation. And either people accepted the truth, and rejected error, or they held tightly to their error and began to hate Jesus— because they saw what He was doing as an attack on them. And it was.

We don’t share it, we announce it. And it’s not your faith, it’s the “faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3 ESV). It is God’s gospel.

I rejoice that the Christian gospel rests on objective historical facts that transcend my own experiences or validation—God’s creation, man’s fall, and Christ’s redemption. I’ve watched in agony as Christians have vainly tried to duel with other religions and worldviews on the basis of personal experience. Those encounters rapidly degenerate into an endless subjective standoff. The experiential evangelist is powerless to refute someone’s experience with his own.

The truth of the biblical gospel crashes through all of those man-made barriers with God’s own written testimony. It doesn’t hinge on our personal skills or powers of persuasion. It is “the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

Imposters Abound

Yet there remains no shortage of people willing to substitute “the power of God” with their own ideas and agendas. The prosperity gospel attempts to entice people into God’s kingdom through the offer of material riches. The gospel of Roman Catholicism offers salvation through religious hoops and human effort. The gospel of seeker-sensitivity hinges on their ability to attract people that don’t exist—seekers (Romans 3:11).

Meanwhile, proponents of the social gospel advocate charitable works and social causes as the redemptive answer for a world overrun with sin. While writing this article, I was alerted to a recent tweet posted by the political arm of an influential denomination. It simply said: “We are fulfilling the Great Commission when we welcome people from other nations to our country.” That is a blatant lie told by people who should know better! The Great Commission is a command to “go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28), not to roll out a welcome mat at border checkpoints.

Works of compassion are meant to adorn the gospel, not replace it. When other adjectives encroach on the gospel (i.e., social gospel, prosperity gospel, etc.), it’s often an indication that it is no gospel at all.

Measuring Success

Our worth as evangelists can only be measured by our faithfulness to the message we have been called to preach. We find ourselves in good biblical company when most people reject the message we proclaim. Noah, Jeremiah, and even the Lord Jesus Himself, had relatively few converts by the end of their earthly ministries. Yet they all excelled in the sole metric of success for evangelists—they never deviated from the message they were called to preach.

That remains our benchmark for evangelistic success as far as God is concerned. He has called us to preach the gospel, both “in season and out of season” (2 Timothy 4:2). We are to present God’s holiness, prosecute sinners, proclaim Christ, and plead with all men to repent and believe the gospel. God will draw His elect (John 6:44), and Christ will continue to build His church (Matthew 16:18).

Preaching is our job and converting is God’s. Woe unto us if we ever confuse that simple point.

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180129
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

Everything Begins with God—Including Evangelism

Code: B180115

In the beginning God . . . (Genesis 1:1).

God’s own story of redemption begins with Himself. And that’s where we should begin when preaching the gospel.

That’s not to say an exhaustive discourse on the character and nature of God, or a full-orbed investigation of His infinite attributes, is a prerequisite to understanding and believing the gospel. Even our Spirit-illuminated minds cannot fathom God in His fullness; how much can we expect the mind still darkened by sin to comprehend?

However, we cannot accurately present the gospel without first dispelling the false and idolatrous ideas about God that dominate the world. People today blithely fashion a god out of nothing more than their sentimentality and spiritual preferences. But that popular exercise is as futile as trying to rewrite the law of gravity, or wish it away altogether. God is eternal (Isaiah 57:15) and unchanging (Malachi 3:6), and demands our reverence on His terms, not ours.

God presents and defines Himself in Scripture as the true and living God. He says, “I am the Lord and there is no other; besides Me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5). Furthermore, God’s Word reveals that the one true God eternally exists as three distinct Persons.

Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is impossible to fathom, but John MacArthur points out that Scripture is both clear and nonnegotiable on this subject:

Though the fullness of the Trinity is far beyond human comprehension, it is unquestionably how God has revealed Himself in Scripture—as one God eternally existing in three Persons. . . .

The Scriptures are clear that these three Persons together are one and only one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). John 10:30 and 33 explain that the Father and the Son are one. First Corinthians 3:16 shows that the Father and the Spirit are one. Romans 8:9 makes clear that the Son and the Spirit are one. And John 14:1618, and 23 demonstrate that the Father, Son, and Spirit are one. . . . In other words, the Bible makes it clear that God is one God (not three), but that the one God is a Trinity of Persons. [1]

God must be presented as triune if He is to be proclaimed faithfully. Additionally, the Trinity takes on great importance in the realm of evangelism because all three Persons play distinct roles in the salvation of sinners. The Father elects (Ephesians 1:3–6); the Son redeems (Ephesians 1:7–12); and the Holy Spirit convicts (John 16:8), regenerates (Titus 3:5), and indwells believers (Ephesians 1:13–14).

Creator and Judge

The Bible introduces the triune God as the Creator of all things, including mankind (Genesis 1). As such, He rightfully claims ownership of His creation (Psalm 50:10–12) and demands worship from us, His creatures (Exodus 20:2–5Matthew 4:10).

But fallen humanity rebelliously refuses to worship the Creator. The open communion that should exist between God and man is now blocked by a wall of divine hostility (Psalm 5:5). God’s just wrath toward sinners may be an unsavory subject for modern sensibilities, but it’s a necessary truth to awaken the spiritual complacency of our age.

While the character and nature of God is an inexhaustible subject, the evangelist must labor to instill some sense of God’s supremacy and sovereignty in the hearts of sinners. He must explain why they should tremble at the thought of their future day in God’s courtroom (Hebrews 9:27)! John MacArthur laments the modern evangelistic trends that do just the opposite:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). Much of contemporary evangelism aims to arouse anything but fear of God in the mind of sinners. For example, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” is the opening line of the typical evangelistic appeal today. This kind of evangelism is far from the image of a God who must be feared. The remedy for such thinking is the biblical truth of God’s holiness. [2]

Holy

Scripture ascribes its strongest superlative when it refers to God as “holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3Revelation 4:8).  Paul Washer points out that God’s holiness “is not merely one attribute among many but is the very context in which all other divine attributes must be defined and understood.” [3] Our evangelistic emphasis on God’s holiness is not meant to dispense with His other attributes such as love, mercy, and grace. Rather, His other attributes find their most profound meaning within the context of God’s holiness.

The word “holy” is translated from the Hebrew qadosh and refers to the otherness of God. As Creator, He transcends His creation and is utterly distinct from all that He has made. Regardless of size or splendor, nothing in creation even remotely approaches the perfections of God.

Why is it so critical to explain that the Creator of the universe is holy? Because we, in our sinful state, are the antithesis of everything He is. There is no greater dichotomy demonstrating our greatest need than the juxtaposition between a holy God and sinful men. John MacArthur points out the dire implications of that infinite gulf:

God is utterly holy, and His law therefore demands perfect holiness: “For I am the Lord your God. Consecrate yourselves therefore, and be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 11:44–45). . . . Even the gospel requires His holiness: “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16). “Without [holiness] no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14, NKJV). Because He is holy, God hates sin. [4]

Putting God in His Place

When believers think about God in terms of the gospel, we usually emphasize His love and mercy. And while those are vital attributes woven throughout the gospel, we must not make the mistake of neglecting His triune nature, His sovereignty over creation, and His holiness. Doing so frequently results in the proclamation of a man-centered gospel—one that portrays God as little more than a hero swooping in at the last minute to save the day.

The truth is that sinners stand in God’s crosshairs. Sinners are God’s creation and it is His law they have violated. God is the Savior only because He is the One from whom sinners need to be saved, for “He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished” (Exodus 34:7).

When we put God at the center of the gospel, we gain a clear perspective on the offense of man’s sin and the depth of his guilt. And that’s where we’ll pick it up next time.

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180115
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

The Dangers of an Oversimplified Gospel

Code: B180110

What needs to be conveyed to unbelievers in order that they might understand and embrace salvation?

Many of the modern trends in evangelism have tended to take a minimalist approach to the question. Unfortunately, the legitimate desire to express the heart of the gospel clearly has given way to a less wholesome endeavor. It is a campaign to distill the essentials of the message to the barest possible terms.

The glorious gospel of Christ—that which Paul called “the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)—includes all the truth about Christ. But American evangelicalism tends to regard the gospel as a “plan of salvation.” We have reduced the message to a list of facts stated in the fewest possible words—and getting fewer all the time: “Six Steps to Peace with God”; “Five Things God Wants You to Know”; “Four Spiritual Laws”; “Three Truths You Can’t Live Without”; “Two Ways to Live”; or “One Way to Heaven.” (This is not a critique of these specific presentations, but is merely an observation that we seem eager to produce and use “plans of salvation” that enumerate and consolidate the gospel message.)

Another trend, equally dangerous, is to reduce evangelism to a memorized script. Often, evangelism training consists of having Christians memorize a series of questions, anticipating that each question will fall into one of a few categories that has a preplanned response.

But the gospel is not a message that can be capsulated, abridged, shrink-wrapped, and then offered as a generic remedy for every kind of sinner. Ignorant sinners need to be instructed about who God is and why He has the right to demand their obedience. Self-righteous sinners need to have their sin exposed by the demands of God’s law. Careless sinners need to be confronted with the reality of God’s impending judgment. Fearful sinners need to hear that God in His mercy has provided a way of deliverance. All sinners must understand how utterly holy God is. They must comprehend the basic truths of Christ’s sacrificial death and the triumph of His resurrection. They need to be confronted with God’s demand that they turn from their sin to embrace Christ as Lord and Savior.

Furthermore, in all the instances where Jesus and the apostles evangelized—whether they were ministering to individuals or crowds—there are no two incidents where they presented the message in precisely the same terminology. They knew that salvation is a sovereign work of God. Their role was to preach truth; the Holy Spirit would apply it individually to the hearts of His elect.

The form of the message will vary in each case. But the content must always drive home the reality of God’s holiness and the sinner’s helpless condition. Then it points sinners to Christ as a sovereign but merciful Lord who has purchased full atonement for all who will turn to Him in faith.

Christians today are often cautioned about the danger of saying too much to the lost. Certain spiritual issues are labeled taboo when speaking to the unconverted: God’s law, Christ’s lordship, repentance, surrender, obedience, judgment, and hell. Such things are not to be mentioned, lest we “add something to the offer of God’s free gift.”

Worse still, there are some who take this reductionist evangelism to its furthest extreme. Wrongly applying the Reformed doctrine of sola fide (faith alone), they make faith the only permissible topic when speaking to non-Christians about their duty before God. Then they render faith utterly meaningless by stripping it of everything but its notional aspects. This, some believe, preserves the purity of the gospel. But what it has actually done is undercut the power of the message of salvation.

It has also populated the church with false converts whose faith is counterfeit and whose hope hangs on a bogus promise. Numbly saying they “accept Christ as Savior,” they brazenly reject His rightful claim as Lord. Paying Him glib lip service, they utterly scorn Him with their hearts (Mark 7:6). Casually affirming Him with their mouths, they deliberately deny Him with their deeds (Titus 1:16). Addressing Him superficially as “Lord, Lord,” they stubbornly decline to do His bidding (Luke 6:46). Such people fit the tragic description of the “many” in Matthew 7:22–23 who will one day be stunned to hear Him say, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”

If there is no simple description for an evangelistic conversation, then what should the evangelist say when proclaiming the gospel? What are the points we need to make clear if we are to articulate the gospel as precisely as possible? In the days ahead we’re going to lay out the basic, yet fundamental, building blocks for faithfully communicating the way of salvation to a sinner: the holiness of God, the depravity of man, the work of Christ, and God’s demands upon the sinner. These are truths we need to embrace as Christ’s people and master as His witnesses.

(Adapted from The John MacArthur Pastor’s Library: Evangelism.)


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TMS: The Perfect Model of Ministry

Matthew chapter 13 displays two key principles we can learn from the perfect model of ministry, who is Jesus Christ himself. He loves the lost, but never caters to their unbelief. He preaches the truth, but knows people will have different responses.

Love the lost

If you are modeling your ministry after Jesus, you truly love the lost. I don’t think there is any greater lesson that you can learn from the example that Jesus displays in Matthew chapter 13. Let’s begin by setting the context.

The final verses of Matthew chapter four introduce the ministry of Jesus in Galilee. Here we’re told that He was going throughout the land teaching in the synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every kind of disease. There has never been a person that walked this earth that has had a greater love for people than Jesus Christ.The news about Him spread throughout Syria and the people brought to Him all who were ill and He healed them.

His popularity spread. Why? Because He was really helping people. He cured every sick person brought to Him, no matter the severity of their affliction. Can you imagine the press? Can you imagine the number of people crowding in around Him seeking attention? And yet, He continued to give Himself away. He continued to go to the synagogues, continued to minister, continued to serve, continued to do miracles and continued to preach the gospel of the kingdom. That’s a glorious picture of the sacrificial love that Jesus has for the lost.

There has never been a person that walked this earth that has had a greater love for people than Jesus Christ. If you are going to be one of His disciples, you need to begin to manifest that same kind of love. You are going to have to have that same kind of a sacrificial servant’s heart and concern for lost people that Jesus had.

Don’t cater to unbelief

By the time you get to Matthew 13 though, you can see there’s a little bit of a change. At this point, Jesus has spent about a year ministering in Galilee. He has clearly articulated the revelation of His person as the Messiah.  He’s also made clear what is required to gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven.  He’s proven Himself by countless miracles of all kinds that the power of God is on display in Him and through Him. The change in His ministry practice occurs when the people continue in their unbelief despite the abundance of revelation they’ve been given.

The people are indifferent.  They’re just looking for more wow moments. They are not considering the reality of the power of God that’s on display, nor the significance of the message that Jesus is proclaiming. So, Jesus begins to speak to the people in parables. He pronounces a woe upon them for not responding to the revelation they were given. He doesn’t cater to their lack of faith by making it easier to understand—He makes it harder.

When the disciples ask Jesus why He speaks in parables, He basically says He won’t cater to the people’s unbelief. The disciples were blessed.  Their eyes saw, and their ears heard. The reason Jesus still taught truths about the kingdom in parables, is because even though He wanted it to be harder for the crowds to understand, He still wanted to teach the disciples and those who truly believed. The basic principle on display here is that God loves the lost. He offers salvation to all who will come to Him.  But He never caters to unbelief.

Yes, when you talk about biblical ministry, there needs to be a heart for the lost. It shares the truth.  It begs people to be reconciled to God.  But it does not make concessions that compromise the integrity of the church to cater to people who are not responding to the revelation that they are being given.

Understand people will respond in different ways

This is a fundamental principle of ministry that will strengthen your heart in the hard days when you wonder if you’re even making a difference. Success in ministry boils down to one thing—Faithfulness.There are four different types of responses to the Ministry of the word of God. The examples come from the parable of the sower in Matthew 13:1-23

  1. The first type of person you can expect to share the gospel with is like the hard road upon which the gospel message, as a seed, lands on and then is eaten by birds. It has no lasting impact. The next day there isn’t any evidence that it was ever there.
  2. The second kind of soil is the seed that was sown on the rocky places. This is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no firm root. The impact is only temporary. When affliction or persecution arises, he falls away.
  3. The third type of soil is the most difficult on a shepherd’s heart. This is the seed that falls among the thorns. It’s the heaviest, because they’re always with you. These are the people that are in your church because they’ve made a profession of faith.  They never defect, and they respond to an extent to admonishment and to instruction.  They will even affirm when confronted that they agree with it. But they just never really come all the way to saving faith.  There’s always something just a little off in the manifestion of real fruit in their Christian life.
  4. The last type of soil is the one we focus on and rejoice in. It’s the seed that was sown on the good soil. This is the man who hears the word, understands it, and brings forth fruit.

Don’t think that your ministry is useless because the only people you’ve led to Christ have abandoned the faith. You should expect to encounter people like this. There is no difference in the seed. There is no difference in the sower. The difference is in the heart that receives it, and you can’t control that. Success in ministry boils down to one thing—Faithfulness.  That’s it. Faithfulness to do God’s work, God’s way, for God’s glory.

Stop worrying about what the temporal visible results are. Yes, it’s heart breaking. Yes, ministry is going to be characterized by fixing love on people that aren’t going to love you or Christ and they’re going to disappoint you. But, instead of being disappointed, you’re going to have to grieve for them and keep finding a sense of joy and purpose and satisfaction from preaching God’s word.  You were faithful.  God is pleased with you.  Like Jesus who wept over Jerusalem because they wouldn’t receive the offer, you too can weep.  But, just like Jesus, you can be sure the Father is pleased with your faithfulness to preach, to appeal, and to invite them into the kingdom.

Our perfect model of ministry teaches us to love the lost in a sacrificial way, but never cater to their unbelief. We must keep doing the work of God for His glory regardless of how it plays out.

The post The Perfect Model of Ministry appeared first on The Master’s Seminary.

8 Ways to Connect Evangelistically with Non-believing Family Members over the Holiday

Many of us will be hanging out with unbelieving family members this Thanksgiving week, and we’re hoping to be a good Christian witness around them. Maybe these ideas will help you move in that direction:

  1. Before you join your family, pray for God to give you opportunity, boldness, and clarity as a witness. That’s what Paul asked others to pray for him (Eph. 6:18-20, Col. 4:2-4), so follow his lead.
  2. Hand a note of gratitude to a family member. Surprise somebody with a Thanksgiving card, and let them know you’re thankful to God for them. Maybe that gift will open a door for a gospel conversation.
  3. If someone you haven’t seen for some time asks how you’re doing, insert a word about God’s hand in your life. It’s not that hard to say something like, “You know, God’s taken care of us this year through good and bad, and we’re doing well.”
  4. If you’re asked to say the blessing, don’t be afraid to thank God for the salvation He has provided. It’s an honest prayer, and it allows you to briefly share what Christ has done for us.
  5. Avoid unhelpful debates over the dinner table. It’s hard to speak about God’s grace when you’re raising your voice about such things as politics (and even sports, in some cases).
  6. Quietly, one-on-one let your family know that you pray for them. Ask what prayer requests they might have – and see where the conversation goes.
  7. Reach out to family members who are most unlovable. All of our families have them. They sometimes sit by themselves, or they might be obnoxious and loud. In either case, give them your time and attention.
  8. Make a phone call to a family member who’s not present at the family gathering. Take the initiative to engage in this conversation: “I really love you. I just want you to know I’m praying for you and would love to talk more about what Jesus means in my life if you’re open to it.” You never know who might be ready to talk.

What other ways would you add to this list?

Source: 8 Ways to Connect Evangelistically with Non-believing Family Members over the Holiday