Posted by: baptistthinker | October 27, 2011

Evangelism and Preaching the Gospel

What exactly is evangelism? How is evangelism supposed to be done? Is it through preaching the Gospel and confrontation? Is it through building relationships with people? Yes. To both.

The reason for this post, is due to another blog post I made a few days ago. One person commented on my blog about “conversion”, and we sort of spun off on that for a bit, as it was at least a little relevant to the discussion. I’m going to post the entire conversation, and then add some thoughts and more detail from Scripture. The two characters in this conversation are Dr T and myself.

Dr T said:

However, none of that would be helpful at that moment. I would have to say that” the Jesus I follow is bigger than that. He walks beside you and meets you were you are. Fortunately, for me, he loves to much to leave me there. Most importantly, regardless of the reality of sin, You are a beloved Child of Christ. And as I am a beloved child of Christ as well, I will walk shoulder to shoulder with you in this. The most important commandment is Love your God with all your heart mind and soul, the second is the same, Love your neighbor as yourself. Love is Agape in this section, which means a whole love, a self sacrificial, complete love. When I am loving my neighbor, I am letting God shine through me and that creates a Namaste experience. (The God in me communes with the God in you.) Lets start there, the rest will come.”

And then:

agreed there isnt the ‘right’ answer, there is only the right motivation behind the answer. We are all Moses and stutter and have trouble with words. However, if the goal is relationship and conversation rather than conversion-God will aid in the reception.

Myself:

I don’t think the goal should ever be “relationship and conversation”. Those things should be a part of it, but our goal is always to preach Christ and Him crucified for the remission of sins.

Dr T:

Interesting, I would have to disagree. Without relationship and true conversation, then Christ becomes a weapon. Confrontation without Love is brutality. The great commission is to go make disciples (learners), so we are teachers, not preachers, right?

Myself:

So were Peter and Paul and the Apostles wrong to go and preach in the synagogues and town centers without building relationships first? I’m not against building relationships, but it is not primarily through relationships that conversion happens, but primarily through preaching the Gospel. The Great Commission is to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature, to baptize them, and to then make disciples.

Dr T:

Fascinating, I think we see this very differently. I dont think we convert people at all, I think God does that. We also seem to read different versions of the Bible. sharing the Good News and preaching are different understandings of the original greek translation. Really irrelevant. Nothing can be done before loving God with all h,m,s and loving neighbor, right? Loving is relationship. sharing the Good News is conversation. Peter and Paul did have relationship in many of those environments, having been good Jewish men, and good persecutors of Christ (Paul). However, I thnk the most important thing is they spoke of their love for people and desire to be in community with them. They were most harsh on people who claimed to be followers of Jesus yet did not show that in their daily life. They had stopped relating and began reacting. Most of Pauls letters to churches spoke to this hypocritical life.
Thank you for you openness to discuss and for the conversation. I have learned alot, whether or not I agree. Good talk

So let’s take a look at what the Scriptures say, because that is what is most important.

And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.
(Mat 4:23 KJV)

This word “preaching” is often translated “proclaiming” in newer translations. It means “to herald (as a public crier), especially divine truth (the gospel): – preach (-er), proclaim, publish.”(Strong’s Concordance)

Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.
(Act 8:4 KJV)

This is a different Greek word, which means “to announce good news (“evangelize”) especially the gospel:”(Strong’s Concordance)

So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
(Act 8:25 NASB)

So, when they had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, and were preaching the gospel to many villages of the Samaritans.
(Act 8:25 NASB)

On one of the days while He[my note: Jesus] was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders confronted Him,
(Luk 20:1 NASB)

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
(1Co 1:21 NASB)

Over and over in Scripture, when the Apostles went to a new city, they would go into the synagogue or the town square, and begin preaching and teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And their message is and was inherently confrontational. The message of the Gospel must confront people with their sinfulness, in order to present the good news that Christ came to save them from their sins, and from God’s wrath. Look at Acts 2, Peter didn’t stop and start building relationships with people in order to tell them of Christ. He stood and preached the Gospel message, one that spoke condemnation to the hearers, but then presented them with the good news that salvation was available through Jesus Christ. This is the pattern we see over and over through the Scriptures. Whenever God has a message, He sends forth people to proclaim the message. And it’s through preaching that God ordains to send that message. Now, can one build relationships with people, and then present the Gospel to them? Well, yes. But our goal should be to present the Gospel, not to make a friend.

I also agree that it is not us who “saves an individual”, that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. We are to proclaim the Gospel, but God will ultimately draw the person to Himself and save them. Not us. We are simply messengers. God does all the work, we are simply to be faithful in presenting the Gospel clearly and accurately. Any form of “friendship” as Christians, that does not ultimately lead to the proclamation of the Gospel, is not friendship but hatred.

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Responses

  1. I am surprised no one commented on this blog yet. It does seem we disagree, but I think I see where a little clearer. I think we might be understanding the word relationship differently. I am not talking about a chat buddy or even a friendship. I mean that if the gospel is shared without love it becomes a brutal condemning weapon. It seems to be that if we can’t save anyone, we also cant condemn (or pass judgement(not confused with discernment)). And since thrusting a weapon on someone is exactly the opposite of what Jesus did, we would be counter to His will. Examples of the lust in the woman at the well, the sloth in the man on the mat, the pride in the rich man. Jesus approached them with relationship or connection, rather than a bullhorn. I strongly agree, He did not avoid speaking directly to their sin, but only after breeching some standards to reach out in love. (He shouldn’t have been talking to a woman, much less a heathen woman, he shouldnt touch lepers, he shouldn;t eat with sinners…)


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