Below is simply some ruminations on evangelism in a post-Christian culture. I am addressing and thinking about what evangelism is in 2015 only because of what it has become in the last few decades. Biblically, evangelism hasn’t changed, but practically, through man’s inventions and faithlessness, evangelism has been side-lined for the sake of attraction and salesmanship (I would know, I used to think this way too).
Many folks have the idea that we must make God palatable to the unbeliever, after all how will they believe if God is not appealing? But this has it backwards. The point of the Gospel is to make the rebellious sinner acceptable to God. Evangelism today has turned to become man-centered rather than God-centered. There is more, of course, as there always is.
Evangelism today, for churches and individuals willing to commit to evangelism, has been boiled down to one aspect, namely, proclaiming the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. This is certainly correct and if you only have time tell someone one thing, you tell them that they are a sinner in need of grace found in the work of Christ. Amen and amen.
However, the Good News, the evangel, does not stop with news, but with what that news does. The Good News that Christ is King changes the world, not just men’s souls. The purpose of evangelism is not to get a ticket punched to escape hell. It is not to fill the lifeboats on the sinking Titanic. Jesus is the Captain of creation and He will not let it sink. Jesus did not conquer the grave to let death and destruction win.
Evangelism is not less than the direct explanation of the Good News to a rebellious scoundrel. But it is more.
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The church is a people, a body, a city, a nation (1 Peter 2:9
). It offers a new way of life in Christ. When the church lives like the church–obeying all the commandments of the Lord Jesus Christ–the world will see that the church isn’t the world. It is something different, it is what the world will one day fully become. The church is the new creation formed of the new human race and its federal head being Jesus Christ.
This is evangelism. The people of God living in a counter-cultural way. As we are reminded from church history, the church must be contra mundum. If people visit your church and they don’t feel that this place is any different than a feel-good club, we must realize we are not offering them anything they can’t get somewhere else. If they can get the “feel-goods” down the road, well then down the road they will go.
What the church offers is true beauty, true love, true morality, true goodness, and this is to be represented to the world by God’s redeemed people obeying Him in grace and truth. The church engages culture, attacks and overcomes it, not by expressing the Gospel as mere fire-insurance, but by expressing the Gospel of Christ as a new life, a new creation in the new world.
Just a bit more here. What I am arguing to be true is true because Jesus Christ is not merely Lord of all souls, but He is Lord of heaven and earth, and by these terms the Bible means to say that Jesus is the Emperor of the Cosmos. Stitch that on a pillow to the glory of His Name.
Since Jesus is the Emperor of the Cosmos, all things belong to Him. This means we express the Good News of the Emperor of the Cosmos when we are faithful men who care for our wives as Christ cares for the church. We express the Good News when wives and mothers respect their husbands and love their children. We express the Good News when we handle our finances in accord with God’s wisdom, when we defend faith with truth and love, when give our lives for the sake of others, when we create the most glorious art, film, music, and books to serve our King. We express the Good News when we live as Christ with the Words of Christ on our lips.
The biblical vision of the church is not a meager lifeboat in a sinking world calling people to jump on board. No, no, no, no. The biblical view of the church is a conquering nation sent forth from the right hand of God the Father to declare enemies in the Kingdom of Christ to bow the knee and serve Him with faithfulness and joy. In fact we are more than conquerors, we are kings and queens serving under the benevolent rule of our Great Emperor, the Lord Jesus Christ.