When I say unto the wicked , O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. (Ezekiel 33:8)
This is a sober warning. Its point is all about making sure that the lost man receives the gospel message.
“Simple enough”, you say. “But how is the gospel message to be presented?”
It involves the fullness and clarity of the message. And it involves how the message is presented.
Many in the Fundamental churches are content to present the whole gospel package in a pamphlet and hand these out wherever they can to people. OK. Fine. Some tracts like “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation” have done a fairly decent job of giving people the basics of the gospel. But that is not all that is necessary. The entire gospel is not reduced to a few key verses.
If we are faced with the last few desperate moments of life, that may have to do.
But over the years, I have seen gospel tracts that try to reduce the gospel to 4 basic laws or 4 steps to find peace with God or similar approaches. The problem is that pamphlets like these give a very Humanistic, positive approach to salvation. As if God is only concerned with getting someone out of Hell. To give them a fire escape. Or to avoid the negative aspects of the gospel to get a decision. To deal with the hard stuff later.
The modern gospel appeal is about God’s desire to give us a wonderful life, an abundant life.
A caring Christian is certainly moved with compassion to go out into the “fields white unto harvest” to bring those souls in so that they do not have to spiritually die. Someone cared enough to bring the gospel to us. Where would we be without God using some Christian to lead us to Christ?
Why Do We Evangelize?
This is a hard thing to say. And to some of you reading this it will seem uncaring and unloving on my part. But I need to ask a key question about evangelism.
What is the real reason that we should bring people to Christ?
Or, more specifically, are we doing it for God’s benefit or for the lost man?
Be careful. Because this is the crux of the matter.
God deserves to have every soul come to Him and trust Him. He has suffered everything for every soul and has a right to the worship of every man and woman that has ever lived.
While, as human beings, we cannot help but be moved with compassion for every soul, this is not why we should evangelize.
Evangelism is to bring glory to God. This is why it is to be done. And how we “do it” must bring glory to God.
Please, think about this for a moment.
How we conduct evangelism is not to be done so that it is more appealing to the lost. It is NOT to be infused with marketing and advertising techniques to appeal to the flesh or the senses. Our gospel must not be based upon how to best achieve the highest number of “decisions”. If we do this, we are idolizing evangelism. We are just putting “notches in our Bible belts.” We think that God needs our clever methods rather than His Holy Spirit to do this work.
God demands that every soul squarely faces his own sinful nature. And that means “repentance from dead works to serve the living God.” It involves an inward sorrow from sin. And a clear belief in Jesus Christ and His Word. And a clear understanding of the full gospel. Not some minimalist version that is “agreed upon” across wide denominational boundaries.
God’s Glory Above All
While we all should be eternally grateful to God for His salvation and the peace that He gives us, it is for His glory first of all that we are saved. It is that Christ may be “all in all.”
Many today think that it is by evangelism that we most glorify God. This is not so. It is by faith in His Word that He is pleased. It is by obedience through His Spirit. Successful evangelism may or may not be a result of that obedience. Successful evangelism must not be used as a “measuring stick” for any individual or ministry. God gives the increase as He wills.
Therefore, our methods must bring glory to God. Our associations with groups and organizations must be crystal clear and present no deviation or confusion of what the gospel is. We must not align ourselves with false teachers or false religious groups with some hope that we can win them by our life or testimony. By proximity to our “special goodness.”
We are a “called out” people to stand for the Lord and His Word. If we join in evangelism with or align ourselves with false teachers, our evangelism will be corrupted. It cannot be otherwise.
We are then doing something WRONG in order to do something RIGHT! God does not give us license to do that. That is a Humanistic and pragmatic religious doctrine that has no place in our thinking. Yet, sadly, it is the controlling philosophy in most Evangelical churches today. And, increasingly, in a great many Fundamental churches as well.
Let all we do, including evangelism, glorify God. This above all else.
And then, we can leave the results to Him who cares more for every soul than we ever could.