Effective Evangelism

Judgement Is A Terrible Evangelism Strategy [1]

Christians have often been guilty of venting their spleen against homosexuals either individually or in general. To the recipients it is heard as hatred and condemnation. It is therefore little wonder that homosexuals are driven away from faith in Jesus. They feel rejected – and sometimes quite justifiably. Christians, more than anyone else, should love homosexuals and be genuinely concerned about their salvation. If anyone should suffer unjust abuse, let it be Christians. 1 Peter 3:13-18 13  Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  14  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ 15  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  16  keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  17  For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. Gentleness and respect are to be the marks of evangelism. Gentleness and respect. Christian should always do the right thing even if it means suffering. At least then the accusations will be groundless and those making them might be ashamed. Christians should not be surprised that non-Christians do not behave like Christians. That is to be expected and it therefore is no grounds for condemnation. Paul explicitly said we are not to judge those outside the faith (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). When Christians are genuinely concerned about others’ salvation, their response will be compassion and yearning rather than outrage. They will seek to build genuinely loving relationships rather than distance themselves. They will respect rather than reject.

But directness can be very effective

The opposite error is not to even talk about the sin, or not to consider it sin. It is remarkable how direct many of the biblical examples are. They called sin “sin”. They confronted the sinners. But the desire was to redeem not to condemn. The hope was that people would realise the reality of their sin and turn to God for forgiveness. Consider the following examples. The prophets. Most of the prophets were very confrontational. They identified and named sin. For that very reason, they were not popular. Sometimes they were simply declaring the reality of the judgement coming but generally that prospect was announced in the hope that the hearers would wake up and repent. Jonah is a revealing example. He was commissioned to preach against Nineveh because of its wickedness (Jonah 1:2). His message (when he was eventually obedient to God) was “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The result was that the Ninevites believed God and repented. What makes Jonah interesting is that, while he was (eventually) obedient, his motivation was wrong. He actually didn’t want the Ninevites to repent and be saved. He wanted to see them judged, and God condemned him for it. “Is it right for you to be angry?... Should I not have concern for the great city Nineveh, in which there are more than one hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left – and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:4, 11). Concern would have been the godly response but Jonah failed just as many Christians are today. Jesus. Clearly Jesus was hugely compassionate towards sinners. We have only to think of the way He stood up for the woman caught in adultery when the teachers of the law and Pharisees wanted to stone her. Nevertheless, He was direct – gentle and respectful but still direct – with those teachers of the law and Pharisees. He gently and quietly questioned which of them was without sin and therefore in a position to judge. There were other times when His challenge to them was not quiet and respectful. Matthew 23 is a list of “woes” directed at them and Jesus called them “snakes” and “a brood of vipers” questioning how they would escape being condemned to hell (v.33) and announcing the judgement that would come upon them (v.35-36). But note that Jesus also said that he would send them prophets and sages and teachers (v.34). Why would He do that? To challenge them with the truth in the hope of bringing them to repentance. Why else? If Jesus had not been concerned about their salvation, He would have done nothing. Jesus even knew that they would reject those appeals. “Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.” (v.34). These were hugely resistant people whom Jesus knew would not respond. That did not stop Him trying and at great cost to those prophets, sages and teachers. It would be because of their rejection of the truth and their determination to not respond to God that they would be condemned (vv.35-36). Note also the tender, compassionate yearning in the words that follow immediately. Matthew 23:37-39 37  ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  38  Look, your house is left to you desolate.  39  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”’ Peter It is remarkable how direct Peter was, for example, on the Day of Pentecost, soon after the crucifixion of Jesus and therefore aware of the real possibility of persecution. Acts 2:22-23, 36 22  ‘Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  23  This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross… 36  ‘Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’ What more serious crime could there have been than killing God’s Messiah? The result was that the people were convicted (“cut to the heart”, v.37). Peter’s own motivation and desire are seen in his response to their question “Brothers, what shall we do” (v.37). He didn’t condemn them to burning in hell. He urged them to repent and to find forgiveness (v.38). Acts 2:40 With many other words, he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Note the combination of warning and pleading – truth in love. We could add many other examples. There are times to be gentle and caring. There are other times to be direct. But the motivation is the same – a desire to see people find forgiveness in Jesus.

Objection: Being seen as “anti-homosexual” is destroying the

church’s mission

It is undoubtedly true that the church is seen in some quarters as being pre-occupied with this issue and of being judgemental and adhering to an archaic form of morality that condemns one group of people. Some will claim that the church must simply accept practising homosexuals in order to not become isolated from society which has increasingly little patience with the church. The church is seen as intolerant and irrelevant. By referring to “mission” we are obviously talking about the church’s relationship with non-Christians. How the church relates to those who claim to be Christians and gay will be addressed separately.

The church must reflect both grace and truth

Jesus is described as being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That is a balance Christ-like Christians will seek to emulate. Jesus was a friend of sinners. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. He is desperate about the lost sheep. The church must reflect a similar love for, and concern for, practising homosexuals. Indeed, the more the church believes the biblical position, the more love she must have. There is no excuse for “gay-bashing”. On the contrary, churches will be actively seeking to reach out to and love homosexuals and those homosexuals will be welcome in church. Christians will be anxious to surround them with love and anxious that they hear the gospel. The gospel is the truth part.

Mission is not achieved through compromise

Mission requires that the gospel be shared. The gospel is the good news of God’s love and forgiveness but it is good news only in the light of mankind’s sinfulness. Salvation requires repentance. To not mention a person’s sin is actually to deprive that person of the opportunity of forgiveness and salvation. People might be loved and accepted by the church but they will not be saved. In other words, they will not be accepted by God. They might become part of the church family but, without repentance and faith, they will not be children of God. They might be told that God accepts them but that is actually a massive and cruel deception. What is touted as being loving is actually the most unloving thing we could do. Nobody is going to repent without first being convicted of his/her sin. That convicting is a work of the Holy Spirit but often the Holy Spirit works through the honest words of a friend.

Truth sets us free and the gospel has power

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. The gospel addresses sin. Those who will not call sin “sin” are ashamed of the gospel. They are redefining it. It is noticeable how directly the apostles in Acts confront sin. We have just considered Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) in which he accuses the crowd of having killed the Messiah. Consider also Paul’s summary of his mission. Acts 14:15: …We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. Clearly truth can hurt and we might be tempted to shield people from it. Some might even think that is the Christian thing to do but Jesus said that truth sets people free. John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Those who claim to be Christians must hold to Jesus’ teaching. In fact, that is a sign of discipleship. They are set free by that truth but non-Christians are also set free by truth.

Proclaiming the gospel will inevitably offend some

Paul presumably said that he was not ashamed of the gospel because there were forces telling him he should be. But he would not deviate because it was the power of God to affect salvation. He would continue to preach Christ crucified even though the Cross was rejected. 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Paul talks about the offence of the Cross (Galatians 5:11). People do not like a message that reveals their sin. People do not want to be called sinners or to have to acknowledge their sin. John 3:19-21 19 This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. There is no avoiding the offence of the gospel other than by modifying it, after which it is no longer the gospel. The offence of the gospel does not excuse the unnecessary offensiveness of some Christians. Christians should still strive to be gracious and loving. It simply means that we cannot change the message to please people. We must fear God more than we fear people. We will be answerable to Him. And sometimes we will be called to confront people with the truth. Jesus confronted when necessary and His followers must be willing to do the same.

Consequently, Christians who stand firm will be hated

It simply follows that those who proclaim an unpopular message will be unpopular. As society becomes more and more depraved, it will increasingly reject those who shine a light on it and teach a better way. Footnotes [1] This phrase is from Carey Nieuwhof, http://careynieuwhof.com/2015/06/some-advice-on-same-sex-marriage-for-us- church-leaders-from-a-canadian/  Related pages The impact of liberal decisions
· · ·
© 2017 Peter Cheyne
A Christian’s Guide To Homosexuality
Truth In Love
Main sections Main sections

Effective Evangelism

Judgement Is A Terrible Evangelism Strategy

[1]

Christians have often been guilty of venting their spleen against homosexuals either individually or in general. To the recipients it is heard as hatred and condemnation. It is therefore little wonder that homosexuals are driven away from faith in Jesus. They feel rejected – and sometimes quite justifiably. Christians, more than anyone else, should love homosexuals and be genuinely concerned about their salvation. If anyone should suffer unjust abuse, let it be Christians. 1 Peter 3:13-18 13  Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  14  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ 15  But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,  16   keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  17  For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  18  For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. Gentleness and respect are to be the marks of evangelism. Gentleness and respect. Christian should always do the right thing even if it means suffering. At least then the accusations will be groundless and those making them might be ashamed. Christians should not be surprised that non- Christians do not behave like Christians. That is to be expected and it therefore is no grounds for condemnation. Paul explicitly said we are not to judge those outside the faith (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). When Christians are genuinely concerned about others’ salvation, their response will be compassion and yearning rather than outrage. They will seek to build genuinely loving relationships rather than distance themselves. They will respect rather than reject.

But directness can be very effective

The opposite error is not to even talk about the sin, or not to consider it sin. It is remarkable how direct many of the biblical examples are. They called sin “sin”. They confronted the sinners. But the desire was to redeem not to condemn. The hope was that people would realise the reality of their sin and turn to God for forgiveness. Consider the following examples. The prophets. Most of the prophets were very confrontational. They identified and named sin. For that very reason, they were not popular. Sometimes they were simply declaring the reality of the judgement coming but generally that prospect was announced in the hope that the hearers would wake up and repent. Jonah is a revealing example. He was commissioned to preach against Nineveh because of its wickedness (Jonah 1:2). His message (when he was eventually obedient to God) was “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” The result was that the Ninevites believed God and repented. What makes Jonah interesting is that, while he was (eventually) obedient, his motivation was wrong. He actually didn’t want the Ninevites to repent and be saved. He wanted to see them judged, and God condemned him for it. “Is it right for you to be angry?... Should I not have concern for the great city Nineveh, in which there are more than one hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left – and also many animals?” (Jonah 4:4, 11). Concern would have been the godly response but Jonah failed just as many Christians are today. Jesus. Clearly Jesus was hugely compassionate towards sinners. We have only to think of the way He stood up for the woman caught in adultery when the teachers of the law and Pharisees wanted to stone her. Nevertheless, He was direct – gentle and respectful but still direct – with those teachers of the law and Pharisees. He gently and quietly questioned which of them was without sin and therefore in a position to judge. There were other times when His challenge to them was not quiet and respectful. Matthew 23 is a list of “woes” directed at them and Jesus called them “snakes” and “a brood of vipers” questioning how they would escape being condemned to hell (v.33) and announcing the judgement that would come upon them (v.35-36). But note that Jesus also said that he would send them prophets and sages and teachers (v.34). Why would He do that? To challenge them with the truth in the hope of bringing them to repentance. Why else? If Jesus had not been concerned about their salvation, He would have done nothing. Jesus even knew that they would reject those appeals. “Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.” (v.34). These were hugely resistant people whom Jesus knew would not respond. That did not stop Him trying and at great cost to those prophets, sages and teachers. It would be because of their rejection of the truth and their determination to not respond to God that they would be condemned (vv.35-36). Note also the tender, compassionate yearning in the words that follow immediately. Matthew 23:37-39 37  ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.  38  Look, your house is left to you desolate.  39  For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”’ Peter It is remarkable how direct Peter was, for example, on the Day of Pentecost, soon after the crucifixion of Jesus and therefore aware of the real possibility of persecution. Acts 2:22-23, 36 22  ‘Fellow Israelites, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  23  This man was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross… 36  ‘Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.’ What more serious crime could there have been than killing God’s Messiah? The result was that the people were convicted (“cut to the heart”, v.37). Peter’s own motivation and desire are seen in his response to their question “Brothers, what shall we do” (v.37). He didn’t condemn them to burning in hell. He urged them to repent and to find forgiveness (v.38). Acts 2:40 With many other words, he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Note the combination of warning and pleading – truth in love. We could add many other examples. There are times to be gentle and caring. There are other times to be direct. But the motivation is the same – a desire to see people find forgiveness in Jesus.

Objection: Being seen as “anti-homosexual” is

destroying the church’s mission

It is undoubtedly true that the church is seen in some quarters as being pre-occupied with this issue and of being judgemental and adhering to an archaic form of morality that condemns one group of people. Some will claim that the church must simply accept practising homosexuals in order to not become isolated from society which has increasingly little patience with the church. The church is seen as intolerant and irrelevant. By referring to “mission” we are obviously talking about the church’s relationship with non- Christians. How the church relates to those who claim to be Christians and gay will be addressed separately.

The church must reflect both grace and truth

Jesus is described as being “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). That is a balance Christ-like Christians will seek to emulate. Jesus was a friend of sinners. He came to seek and to save that which is lost. He is desperate about the lost sheep. The church must reflect a similar love for, and concern for, practising homosexuals. Indeed, the more the church believes the biblical position, the more love she must have. There is no excuse for “gay-bashing”. On the contrary, churches will be actively seeking to reach out to and love homosexuals and those homosexuals will be welcome in church. Christians will be anxious to surround them with love and anxious that they hear the gospel. The gospel is the truth part.

Mission is not achieved through compromise

Mission requires that the gospel be shared. The gospel is the good news of God’s love and forgiveness but it is good news only in the light of mankind’s sinfulness. Salvation requires repentance. To not mention a person’s sin is actually to deprive that person of the opportunity of forgiveness and salvation. People might be loved and accepted by the church but they will not be saved. In other words, they will not be accepted by God. They might become part of the church family but, without repentance and faith, they will not be children of God. They might be told that God accepts them but that is actually a massive and cruel deception. What is touted as being loving is actually the most unloving thing we could do. Nobody is going to repent without first being convicted of his/her sin. That convicting is a work of the Holy Spirit but often the Holy Spirit works through the honest words of a friend.

Truth sets us free and the gospel has power

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jews, then to the Gentiles. The gospel addresses sin. Those who will not call sin “sin” are ashamed of the gospel. They are redefining it. It is noticeable how directly the apostles in Acts confront sin. We have just considered Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) in which he accuses the crowd of having killed the Messiah. Consider also Paul’s summary of his mission. Acts 14:15: …We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made heaven and earth and sea and everything in them. Clearly truth can hurt and we might be tempted to shield people from it. Some might even think that is the Christian thing to do but Jesus said that truth sets people free. John 8:31-32 To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32  Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Those who claim to be Christians must hold to Jesus’ teaching. In fact, that is a sign of discipleship. They are set free by that truth but non-Christians are also set free by truth.

Proclaiming the gospel will inevitably offend some

Paul presumably said that he was not ashamed of the gospel because there were forces telling him he should be. But he would not deviate because it was the power of God to affect salvation. He would continue to preach Christ crucified even though the Cross was rejected. 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the Cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. Paul talks about the offence of the Cross (Galatians 5:11). People do not like a message that reveals their sin. People do not want to be called sinners or to have to acknowledge their sin. John 3:19-21 19 This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. There is no avoiding the offence of the gospel other than by modifying it, after which it is no longer the gospel. The offence of the gospel does not excuse the unnecessary offensiveness of some Christians. Christians should still strive to be gracious and loving. It simply means that we cannot change the message to please people. We must fear God more than we fear people. We will be answerable to Him. And sometimes we will be called to confront people with the truth. Jesus confronted when necessary and His followers must be willing to do the same.

Consequently, Christians who stand firm will be hated

It simply follows that those who proclaim an unpopular message will be unpopular. As society becomes more and more depraved, it will increasingly reject those who shine a light on it and teach a better way. Footnotes [1] This phrase is from Carey Nieuwhof, http://careynieuwhof.com/2015/06/some-advice- on-same-sex-marriage-for-us-church-leaders-from- a-canadian/  Related pages The impact of liberal decisions
· · ·
© Peter Cheyne 2017.
A Christian’s Guide To Homosexuality
Truth In Love
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