Evangelical Essentials (Part Thirteen)
We persuade men [people].
2 Cor. 5:11 (NIV)
The Apostle Paul did not sit back and assume that people had grasped the gospel. He was actively engaged in overcoming their objections by persuading men and women to yield their lives to the Lord of creation. Paul actively participated with the Holy Spirit in attempting to win hearts to the loving Savior.
The Bible says that, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30 KJV). As Christ is living his life in us, we will be fruit bearers. People will want to come to us and pluck that fruit of the Spirit in order to be refreshed. That attraction is an opportunity from the Holy Spirit to bring them to Christ. We are called to “watch to see where God is working and join him.”
[Henry Blackaby, Experiencing God, Preteen Edition (Nashville, TN: Lifeway, 1994), 11.]
We must tell others what motivates us. What If I run out of a room as fast as I can, how do you know for what reason I run? Have I looked out the window and seen my automobile being stolen? Is the phone ringing and I need to answer it? Is the building on fire and I need to save myself? How do you know unless I tell you? In same way, how do families, friends, and neighbors know the reason for my service unless I tell them that I am motivated by God’s love for me and my love for him? I must tell them.
Brothers and sisters, it is not enough to say that the liturgy contains the gospel message; Christ calls us to be proactive in sharing the message of the Cross.
Primitive [Early Church] evangelism was by no means mere proclamation and exhortation: it included able intellectual argument, skillful study of scripture, careful closely reasoned teaching and patient argument”
[Michael Green, Evangelism in the Early Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1970), 160.]
We should be mindful of the advice of Wesley, Whitefield, Edwards, and other notables of the Great Awakening, “Pastors should be faithfully working toward entirely converted churches.” We should never assume that everyone in our parish knows our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We must not take for granted that just because someone was baptized in a church or raised in a religious environment that they have an intimate, on-going, dynamic relationship with Jesus. We cannot assume the salvation of our congregations.