Saturday, January 14, 2012
Evangelism Class #1
Overview of the syllabus. Discuss in some detail what will be done throughout the year.
I. A Definition
Evangelism is a deliberate way of life, which is actively engaged in the building of the Kingdom, through word and deed, with a longing to see the great commission fulfilled, toward the ultimate purpose that God’s glory would be made known to all the world, and all the world, in seeing his glory would delight in it. (This last aspect will be discussed in further detail next week, the title of the lesson is: The Supremacy of God in all of Life.)
II. A Word of Encouragement
I have two things to say:
1) Our longing is that this would serve as a great encouragement to you. Consider Paul‘s words to the Thessalonian believers, “Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word” (2Thess 2:16–17). Is evangelism a good work? A good word? The application of this verse to our hearts and lives would be fitting.
2) Don’t become discouraged if you fail to seize an opportunity. We have all had those moments where an opportunity was present to share Christ with a loved one or a coworker and we did not take it. (Story of Fred Smith). You are not perfect, and aren’t you glad that God does not evaluate our lives based on a system of merits? None of us would line up to the standard of perfection. So cheer up, the reality is: you are worse off than you think!
Lets move to another point of introduction: What do we mean by public and private evangelism?
With regard to public evangelism, there are two categories that you need to be aware of:
1) The category of the Church, that is: The primary means which God uses is the public preaching of His word on Sunday mornings. This class is not intended to develop a theology of a “High View of Preaching.” This is a subject which must be treated in its own time. Though, I would like to encourage everyone in this room this morning to evaluate your understanding of the role the sermon plays. Because: that is where God speaks primarily. A denial of the importance of this, I believe would lead one dangerously close to a denial of the doctrine of Sola Scriptura.
2) The Second Category is that of the Body. This is how we are fulfilling God’s mandate to make disciples of all the ethnos, nations. The point of this class, in one sense, is to ask the question, “How are the rest of us to understand our role in evangelism toward the lost?” and “To what end has God called us through evangelism?” and “What are the means of our evangelizing the lost?” The answers to these questions will be given, not necessarily directly, but indirectly as progress is made through this fall and into the winter.
Private Evangelism: This subject deals with the covenant primarily and catechetical issues in general. God’s primary means of bringing people into the church is through the covenant. Another way of saying it is: “Covenant faithfulness begets covenant faithfulness.” Consider these verses, “For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him” (Acts 2:39). “The secret things belong unto Jehovah our God; but the things that are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deut 29:29). God calls our children through his word in his time, through various means: preaching, teaching, all of which are avenues of grace in the covenantal household.
Consider for a moment the subject of households.
7And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee. 8And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land of thy sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. 9And God said unto Abraham, And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations. 10This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee: every male among you shall be circumcised. 11And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt me and you. 12And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every male throughout your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any foreigner that is not of thy seed. 13He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14And the uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. (Gen. 17:7-14).
23And Abraham took Ishmael his son, and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin in the selfsame day, as God had said unto him. 24And Abraham was ninety years old and nine, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 25And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old, when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin. 26In the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised, and Ishmael his son. 27And all the men of his house, those born in the house, and those bought with money of a foreigner, were circumcised with him. (Gen 17:23-27).
Consider the words of the New Testament, what is interesting here is the fact that this is dealing with Gentiles:
11And behold, forthwith three men stood before the house in which we were, having been sent from Caesarea unto me. 12And the Spirit bade me go with them, making no distinction. And these six brethren also accompanied me; and we entered into the man’s house: 13and he told us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, Send to Joppa, and fetch Simon, whose surname is Peter; 14who shall speak unto thee words, whereby thou shalt be saved, thou and all thy house. 15And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning. 16And I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit. 17If then God gave unto them the like gift as he did also unto us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God? 18And when they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance unto life. (Acts 11:11–18).
Also, to the Philippian Jailor, Paul said
25But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns unto God, and the prisoners were listening to them; 26and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison-house were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. 27And the jailor, being roused out of sleep and seeing the prison doors open, drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29And he called for lights and sprang in, and, trembling for fear, fell down before Paul and Silas, 30and brought them out and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved, thou and thy house. 32And they spake the word of the Lord unto him, with all that were in his house. 33And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, immediately. 34And he brought them up into his house, and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, with all his house, having believed in God.
Notice what is going on in a household. God is at work. There is much more that could be said on this subject but this suffices to give a foundational introduction, a warrant, so to speak for why private evangelism is so important.
A show of hands here this morning would be somewhat helpful in proving this point. My wife is an example of God’s covenant faithfulness. (Give example: Her father, mother, and their family, etc.)
“In what way are parents used by God to bring their children to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?” This issue is intricately expressed through the words of Paul in 2 Tim 3:14–14, “But abide thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. And that from a babe thou hast known the sacred writings which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
From this subject, I believe, springs the lost jewel of godly Christian homes, which is family worship. It is our prayer that those of you in this room, would be encouraged and find grace to either continue in what you have been doing, or begin what is so vital to, not only your children’s faith, but also yours.
Qualifications (We all have limitations)
We want to be servants of the Church and sensitive to everyone. We want to encourage and lead people to be evangelists and actively pursue involvement in one of two ways: as “senders” or “goers” (this is a good concept for the whole church). Part of that sensitivity is approaching this ministry with the related presuppositions:
Not everyone is “gifted” to evangelize.
Everyone walking with God is a witness.
There is no one specific way to evangelize the lost.
Evangelism is not supposed to be the purpose of the church-worship is.
Missions and evangelism in certain respects are synonymous.
Evangelism ought to be a genuine part of the body here at Cedar Ridge. Lets park on this for a moment. I firmly believe that the marks of a true and healthy church are contained in three vital components-
The preaching of the Word
The administration of the Sacraments
Notice that an a faithful or effective evangelism ministry is not contained in that description. Evangelism is not a part of the church in this respect. It ought to be a genuine part of your everyday life. As we gather corporately on Sunday mornings, the collective tone should be one of mutual encouragement and edification for the purpose of being refreshed and strengthened to go back out and do it (evangelism) again. Evangelism is an individualistic concept in this sense. The question is not, what is Cedar Ridge’s evangelism ministry like?” Indeed, the question is, “What is your evangelism ministry like?” I would argue that evangelism is a command of the Lord to be obeyed by every person individually as you have opportunity (and seek it out). Resulting in faithful obedience to the glory of God.
With this last point, I will attempt to move toward the first session: “The Supremacy of God in all of Life.” This will be next week.