February 27, 2017

The Gospel Pitch: Full Disclosure or Recruitment Tactics?

by Clint Archer

I’m a sucker for a good sales pitch. I’ve plunged into various predicaments because I couldn’t say no. This weakness almost derailed my career path the day the US military recruiters showed up at my seminary.dress whites

They wanted military chaplains. Being a chaplain was so far away from my calling that I expected to be impervious to their pitch. But their chapel speaker, a major in the Navy in a Top Gun-esque white uniform and impressive physique, preached up a storm. He regaled us with how he got to start Bible studies on submarines off the coast of Iraq, how he would disciple pilots while jogging with them on the aircraft carrier, and how he counseled combat troops in exotic locations.

After chapel, a gaggle of awestruck students fluttered to the recruiters like moths to the flame. The recruiters in their smart uniforms all smelled so good and beamed friendly smiles. They talked of seeing the world and being all you can be. They had pictures of happy soldiers with gleaming guns repelling from helicopters like my childhood GI Joe fantasies.

I…was…mesmerized.

Thankfully, I had a natural immunity to their wiles: I wasn’t a US citizen. But a classmate of mine succumbed to the allure and soon discovered a whole other side to the military. Before the ink on the dotted line is dry the friendly faces of the enchanting recruiters disappear and you never see them again. They shave your head, take your clothes, and start yelling and cursing at you.

I found out though that the Navy SEALs recruit in the exact opposite way. They say how difficult the training is, how dangerous the missions are, how many drop out, and how impossible it is to be chosen. They speak of pain and sacrifice and commitment. And paradoxically that brutal truth attracts better candidates than the honey trap method. Only the most committed and determined warriors sign up for the SEAL teams, knowing full well what lies ahead.

Some evangelists share the gospel in a way that makes Christianity sound like a vacation from trouble, a Disneyland tour of delightful experiences. And others present the brutal truth that following Jesus brings sacrifice, persecution, and lifelong warfare against sin and Satan.

Which method of evangelism do you think produces truly committed disciples?

Here are three truths every prospective disciple should know before committing to Christ…

 

  1. True Disciples Must Be Willing to Die for their Faith

Luke 9:23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

One of the most popular gospel presentations of our time is “The Four Spiritual Laws.” The very first law is this: “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” But the conditions of discipleship in verse 23 are to give up your desires, be willing to die, and obey Christ. The descriptor, “wonderful,” could be seen as quite misleading.

drill seageantThe phrase “take up his cross” refers to a condemned man forced to carry the means of his own execution. In earshot of Christ’s warning, were Philip and Andrew, who were crucified. There was James, who was beheaded in the book of Acts, after Stephen was stoned to death. Peter we know was imprisoned, beaten, and eventually (history tells us) crucified upside down. Mark was dragged to death in Egypt in 64AD, and Barnabas was burned alive in Cyprus in the same year. Luke, who wrote these words, was hanged in Athens in 93 AD. And this slaughter is still happening today – thousands of Christians are martyred every year. Paul says in 2 Tim 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”

That’s a pretty broad definition of a “wonderful plan.”

 

  1. True Disciples Must Be Willing to Sacrifice Wealth for their Faith

Luke 9:25 “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?”

The desire for profit is a normal part of life. But sometimes the desire for profit in this life is in opposition to profit in the eternal life and then you have to choose.

What happens when you are offered an opportunity to make more profit by being dishonest or ungodly? If obedience to Jesus is a lower priority to you than physical profit, then you cannot be a true disciple. You need to shift your priorities.

Leave your little kingdom building and corporate ladder climbing and invest in eternity. Phil 3:8  “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

True disciples value Christ over everything in life. Everything.

 

  1. True Disciples Must Be Willing to Speak Up for their Faith

Luke 9:26  “For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

We are all ashamed of something. A part of our lives that we would rather not talk about. And it’s okay that you keep some of that stuff to yourself. But there is something that it’s never okay to be ashamed of… your Savior.

You say “I’d never deny Jesus like Peter did.” Good. But what happens when people at work are all agreeing about some topic like abortion or evolution and you keep quiet so that people don’t know that you hold the opposite, biblical view?martyrs

Are you being ashamed of Jesus’ words? It’s one thing to talk about Jesus at church or in home group where it’s acceptable, it’s another to represent him at work or before your friends who will think you are uncool or even oppose you.

Pray this week for an opportunity to stand up for Jesus. It is a way of honoring him, and worshipping him. And no matter what the fallout is, it will all be worth it when Jesus calls your name out in front of tens of thousands of angels, and calls you his own.

If you’ve blown it, remember Peter. He denied Jesus three times, but he repented, and boldly preached Christ before thousands. And his repentance was obvious: he was mocked, imprisoned, beaten, and killed. Repent of your denial of him, he will forgive you and give you opportunities to stand up for him.

Being a disciple of Jesus is the highest privilege in life. But it behooves us to know what we are committing to before we sign on the dotted line. And we owe it to prospective disciples to tell them the truth about what may lie ahead. I have a hunch that will produce more committed and more determined recruits for the kingdom of God.

Clint Archer

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Clint has been the pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church since 2005. He lives in Durban, South Africa with his wife and four kids.
  • alexguggenheim

    Problematic, I believe, is the analogy. Both signees, for are certainly doing more than accepting a commssion or enlistment but as well, are contracting for duties and so forth. That is included in the enlistment or pursuit of a commission.

    The gospel simply is not analogous. It is the message of what Christ has done for mankind, individually applicable, that they may be saved from judgment of their sins when they die via justification in Christ.

    I owe them nor do they require, information about what life may or may not be like as a disciple. They are not there. They’ve yet to become a believer.

    It is only after one is born again do such discussions become relevant.

    Well intended but in this case I believe burdens are added to the gospel which were not intended.

    • Counterargument I have: Jesus telling people to count the cost; e.g. man who built a tower, man who goes to war first counts enemy force, “foxes have holes…” and “if one isn not willing to take up his cross he is not worthy” etc.

  • Jane Hildebrand

    My most difficult discussions have been with those who after sharing the gospel simply tell me, “I hear what you’re saying, but I don’t want to give up my sin.” Those are the most painful.

    • Agreed.

    • David Murry

      I find I can only share the living gospel to the degree my relationship permits that river of life to flow through me. I can only give to the degree I walk in.

      Theology without the living, breathing power of God expressed in our lives will usually only appeal to those who are desperate, or gifted by God in areas of analytics. For most, it is Romans 2:4 “not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”

      I have come to realize it is God’s kindness expressed by the HS in so many ways… if we tap into it that brings forth the gospel with power.

      The more the body of Christ displays the power of the Kingdom, and not just the words.. the better the lost will come into contact with the power of His goodness.

      I have yet to see a person that was healed from prayer not be open to the One who heals thru His Church. Same with direct, specific words the Lord shares about another person that are hidden to all except when the Lord reveals it to a person willing to listen and step out in faith.

      I make plenty of mistakes, but the gas stations and supermarkets continue to be the arenas where the love of God is most easily manifested to the Lost if I only step out and give to the degree of intimacy I am walking in.

      • I am not sure I understand your comments. Language like “tap into” is puzzling. “Theology without the living breathing power of God” seems odd as well. What does analytics have to do with presenting the gospel? I am also confused about your reference to healing and how that opens people up to receiving the gospel. This language sounds charismatic/pentecostal to me.

        • David Murry

          Sorry I was not clear.

          We have the power of the Holy Spirit in us, but we are often content to let Him stay hidden inside instead of “tapping into” the power of Him.

          Jesus said he only did what He saw the Father doing. We were given the charge to preach with signs following. If we are not doing this, then we have diminished the good news to intellectual debate.

          It has been my experience that intellectual minds gravitate toward this kind of gospel message.. and the rest wait until they are overwhelmed with life.

          I used to be what I refer to a born-again “pharisee” when I was in my teens… not much love and little desire to give love to others. I was content with attempting to behave a certain way. The more the Lord began to reveal His love to me, the more I desired to walk as He walks and give the power of His love to others in any and all ways He chooses to do so at the moment.

          Gal 6:8 Paul states to the church in that region that we either sow toward the dead,carnal man.. or to the kingdom. We “tap into” one or the other.

          Sorry I was not clear. I forget at times that the New Age has robbed so much of our language and made some basic principle so darn confusing.

        • David Murry

          Regarding “charismatic/pentecostal” language.. I gave up labels decades ago and decided to just attempt to seek greater and greater intimacy with my Heavenly-Father and walk as Jesus walked… not sure what that is called today.

          But when the Lord tells me someone has a tumor on their back and to command it to leave in His name.. I just do it.

          God bless, Ed.

          David NY

          • And that answers my question and confirms that I was spot on. It explains why your terms are so foreign and unorthodox. I don’t think anyone here believes that God tells you that people have tumors on their back and that you actually are healing them. This site is closer, much closer to the views expressed at the “Strange Fire” conference by Dr. MacArthur. Sorry.

          • David Murry

            Oh no problem at all, Ed.

            Thank you for sharing your convictions and biblical views. There are many that do not believe God speaks to His children. You are not alone.

            My prayer for the body of Christ is that we may, in His love and unity, seek to snatch as many out of the fire as we can.

            Unless, you take a Calvanistic approach to which I would say ” as many as Father desires not to go to hell…”

            God bless you and thanks for sharing

            David NY

          • To be more precise, we do believe that God speaks to us, but his speaking is in His Word. We view the claim that God “is speaking” to people very seriously.

            Another item about this site: it is staunchly Calvinistic in its theological orientation.

            I would be more than happy to discuss these topics with you via email or even google hangout if you are interested.

          • Lynn B.
  • David Murry

    What a challenging and heartfelt message. The Truth… spoken in love.

    Thank you,

    David NY

  • Lynn B.

    It occurs to me that the “Navy Seal type” might well sign up for waging spiritual war and dying a martyr’s death and be no more born again than the one seeking a wonderful life. Does the presentation of the gospel in scripture follow a set pattern or is it nuanced according to the individual or circumstance? Jesus pointed His words to the Rich Young Ruler at his prideful heart and self-deception but go and sell all you have said to a poor man may not have the same effect.

    Is the key that we are called to make Jesus Lord and Savior, and not Savior alone? If we’re sharing the gospel with a Muslim who knows full well they’ll be rejected and possibly even murdered for accepting Christ likely we’ll have little need to emphasize counting the cost. Conversely, to the typical western person most of us will encounter we could share stories of martyrdom and never touch on the unique way our Lord will call them to die to self. What is the same in every scenario is that they are committing to being a doulos of Jesus Christ whatever that may mean. They will own nothing including themselves and the desires of their hearts, but He is a good Master who will enable them by the power of His Holy Spirit whatever His sovereignty brings into their lives.