Archives For Evangelism

If you are new to watching televised soccer, you might not know what exactly it is you are supposed to be looking for. You understand that the goal is goals… but certainly there is more nuance than that, right? If the average game is 2-1, then you are spending a lot of time watching something other than scoring. What exactly is it, and how do you enjoy it?

Here is the simplest explanation I can come up with, and if you understand this, then not only will you enjoy soccer, but you will be a better Christian as well—and yes, I meant to type that.   Continue Reading…

June 3, 2014

Who will go?

by Nathan Busenitz

A guest post on world missions from Charles Spurgeon:

I plead this day for those who cannot plead for themselves, namely, the great outlying masses of the heathen world. Our existing pulpits are tolerably well supplied, but we need men who will build on new foundations. Who will do this?

Are we, as a company of faithful men, clear in our consciences about the heathen? Millions have never heard the Name of Jesus. Hundreds of millions have seen a missionary only once in their lives, and know nothing of our King. Shall we let them perish?

Can we go to our beds and sleep, while China, India, Japan, and other nations are being damned? Are we clear of their blood? Have they no claim on us? We ought to put it on this footing – not, ‘Can I prove that I ought to go?’ but, ‘Can I prove that I ought not to go?’ When a man can honestly prove that he ought not to go, then he is clear, but not else. What answer do you give, my brethren? I put it to you man by man. Continue Reading…

While there are many terrible places on earth to be a Christian (Sudan, North Korea, Afghanistan, Bhutan, etc.), Pakistan is arguably the worst. Other nations persecute believers, but in Pakistan the entire country has spent generations forming a world view that values the torturing of those that claim the name of Christ.

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It was almost six years ago when a group of fifteen Southern Baptist evangelists met together to bemoan the growth of Calvinism within SBC circles.

When asked about his concerns, Jerry Drace (the evangelist who initiated the meeting) explained that some Baptist pastors are so Calvinistic “that they almost laugh at evangelism. It’s almost to the extent that they believe they don’t have to do it. So [Calvinism] gives them an excuse not to do evangelism.”

Drace’s comments raise an important question. Does an affirmation of God’s sovereign election in salvation (commonly called “Calvinism”) deter people from faithfulness in evangelism?Calvin and Company

An answer to that question could be approached from several different angles.

One could, for example, consider evangelistic efforts among Baptists — comparing those who embrace the doctrine of election with those who do not. An SBC study “found that Calvinistic recent graduates report that they conduct personal evangelism at a slightly higher rate than their non-Calvinistic peers.”

A much better place to go, of course, would be the Word of God. There are many passages to which we could turn (from John 6 to Acts 13 to Ephesians 1); but I would start in Romans 9–10. Pardon the anachronism, but it is no accident that the most “Calvinistic” chapter in the Bible (Romans 9) is partnered with the most “evangelistic” (Romans 10). Clearly, the apostle Paul saw no disconnect between the reality of God’s sovereignty in salvation and his own evangelistic zeal. Continue Reading…

If we can agree that the goal of the Christian life is to glorify God as much as is possible, then there really is only one natural question: what is the single most God-glorifying action a Christian can do?

Some may argue that all elements of a Christians life, such as prayer, fasting, worship, parenting, sanctification, etc.,  are equally important. But I disagree. While all spiritual disciplines are interconnected—if your prayer time falters, so do your affections for Jesus, and then your sanctification falters, and then you sin—they are not all equal. I argue that evangelism is the single most important action for a Christian, and I measure importance by the way an action glorifies God. Pastor MacArthur has often said “nothing so much glorifies God as his gracious redemption of hell bound sinners,” and if the chief purpose of mankind is to glorify God, nothing glorifies God as effectively as evangelism.

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New Year 2014As we approach the beginning of the New Year, many people are reflecting on the previous year and how they’ve lived their lives, and are making resolutions and determinations to live better in the coming year, whatever that may mean. The process seems to involve a kind of refocusing on things that are important to us so that when we will have come to the end of this next year we will look even more favorably on it than the previous one.

Though I’m a few days early, as we anticipate the coming of 2014 I want to write an open letter of sorts that focuses on the most important realities in the world. And the addressee of my open letter is you. No matter who you are—whether young in the faith, a seasoned saint, or not a believer in Jesus at all; whether we’re good friends, have only spoken a few times, or if I don’t know you from Adam—I can think of nothing more profitable that I’d like to say directly to you. And perhaps the most interesting distinctive about this open letter for 2014 is that it’s nothing new. It’s the same old message for a brand new year, because it’s the only message that is sufficient to transcend all times and cultures. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll read carefully.

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Christmastime is upon us. In a few short days, many of us will find ourselves in a home filled with family members and friends, some of whom we see often, and some of whom we see rather seldom. It will be a time of reunion, reconciliation, catching up, and sharing stories. In many cases, it will provide multiple opportunities to bear witness to the Gospel before the people we care most about.

But precisely because we care most about them, it can often be difficult to have those conversations. We still may fear our family members’ evaluation of us, especially if they’re our parents. We don’t enjoy being thought of as strange, naïve, or narrow-minded by those whom we care most about. Maybe the last time we tried evangelizing them it didn’t go so well, and we don’t want to strike any raw nerves. It could even be that our pride and self-focus has dampened our affections for Christ’s glory and our love for our lost family members.

But sometimes the problem is just that it’s hard to start the conversation. Now, in some cases, the theme of the Christmas will provide some natural opportunities to speak about “the Reason for the season.” Praise God for those times. Pray for more of them. And take them when they come! Oftentimes, though, our unbelieving friends and family members who know that we’re Christians are looking for every opportunity not to take the conversation in that direction. And so if it’s going to get there, we have to steer it that way. And I can testify from experience that Christians can wind up squandering opportunities to move a conversation toward Christ and His Gospel simply because they don’t know how to make that move without being too abrupt, tactless, or cheesy.

In my attempts to gracefully steer a conversation toward the Gospel, I’ve found that it is helpful to listen for key themes. Some have conceptualized the history of redemption as forming around the four key themes of Creation, Fall, Redemption, and Consummation. As I’ve done some reflecting on these categories, I discovered that many of our life experiences can be viewed through the lens of these themes as well. Therefore, listening for these themes in a conversation with an unbelieving friend or relative can provide a way to naturally transition the conversation to the Gospel. Think through them with me.

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This post is an excerpt from my book, Holding the Rope: Short-term Missions, Long-term Impact published

by William Carey Books, to be released in 2014.

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. That little ditty has helped many historically challenged kindergarteners cement the date of the discovery of America into popular consciousness. But a comprehensive and true-to-life rhyme of Christopher Columbus’ success would read more like a dissonant tale by the Brothers Grimm. The iconic explorer commanded almost no skills besides sailing a ship. He could travel far, but rarely to where he was aiming, and upon arrival was never quite sure how to make the most of the accomplishment. The popular historian, Bill Bryson, commented wryly,

It would be hard to name any figure in history who has achieved more lasting fame with less competence.”

HTR 1 hands

Resolutely aiming his fleet at the Orient, Columbus inadvertently stumbled upon South America, believing it to be India, which explains why natives in the Americas were unceremoniously dubbed “Indians.” He then haphazardly explored this area for about eight years, bumping into various Caribbean Islands, which he pertinaciously continued to label as Oriental. He mistook the island of Cuba for mainland Asia, and he neglected to actually set foot in America, the territory most people assume he discovered.

Throughout his voyage he gleefully loaded his flotilla with copious amounts of fool’s gold and prodigious quantities of random plant matter that were to his estimation highly valuable spices from the East. Upon his return to Europe, as part of their exotic cargo, his surviving crew delivered their own dubious contribution to the Old World, namely syphilis.

Nevertheless, Christopher Columbus undeniably changed the world forever. By establishing contact with the New World and lugging unknown foodstuffs back home, he began an irreversible historical movement of seismic proportions, the social, political, economic aftershocks of which are still being felt today. The quake would significantly affect Church history.

In a similar way, a short-term missions trip (STM) can have lasting effects that cannot be predicted. A poorly aimed trip has the potential to wreak cultural and spiritual havoc in a village in Africa, or it can create a lasting bridge for the gospel to bring hope and change that echoes in eternity.

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 “If Superman were real, since he was born on Krypton and not a descendant of Adam, would he have a sin nature?”

I have been asked this type of hypothetical question on occasion while trying to have a meaningful conversation with an unbeliever about the gospel. Some of the atheists I encounter are very well versed in theology and Scripture, and have dismissed the gospel after what they consider to be thoughtful enquiry. They may express their disdain for gospel by posing conundrums meant to expose the inadequacy of the gospel, or an apparent inconsistency in my theology.Superman

By the time I am fully engaged in a gospel presentation I tend to get quite caught up in it. I really want the person to believe and repent, and for a moment, I forget that their salvation isn’t up to me, but the Holy Spirit. So, I have fallen into a trap most level-headed Calvinists wouldn’t. I have attempted to answer the proffered puzzle, so that I can show how consistent Christian theology is, and how the Bible is sufficient to answer every metaphysical question.

The problem is, it’s not. The Bible cannot answer every question relating to life and godliness—only the ones that actually have answers.

C. S. Lewis, with his towering apologetic intellect could also not answer questions that were posed to him by academic peers, such as “Can God make a square circle?” In A Grief Observed Lewis wrote with relieving candor,

Can a mortal ask questions which God finds unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All nonsense questions are unanswerable. How many hours are in a mile? Is yellow square or round? Probably half the questions we ask – half our great theological and metaphysical problems – are like that.”

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The missionary spirit is utterly contagious.

Even just one life burning brightly for the gospel can ignite the hearts of hundreds of others for generations to come.

What a powerful thing it is to contemplate that reality in the history of missionary work! Consider, for example, the following chain of gospel influence:

1. John Elliott (1604–1690) was a Puritan settler in New England who began evangelizing the native Americans. Known as the “apostle to the Indians,” he translated the Bible into their native language, helped to establish churches, and sparked a missionary zeal among Christian settlers in the New World.

2. That missionary spirit inspired men like David Brainerd (1718–1747) to similarly devote his life to reaching native American Indians with the good news of the gospel.

3. Though Brainerd died at only 29 years of age, his friend Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) was so impressed by the young missionary’s passion that he edited Brainerd’s diary and published it. Edwards himself would later work as a missionary to the native American Indians of Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

4. In 1785, an English shoe cobbler named William Carey (1761–1834) read a copy of An Account of the Life of the Late Rev. David Brainerd by Jonathan Edwards. The book had a profound impact on Carey’s thinking, igniting a passion in his heart to take the gospel to India. William Carey left for India in 1793 and the modern missions movement was born. Continue Reading…