In the past week, I’ve received quite a bit of flak from individuals who are, let’s say, less than pleased with my evangelism methodologies and the way I’ve responded to people in general, in regards with that anyway.
It started out with a pretty simple question: “Do you think you’re a good person?” or “Are you a good person?”
As I started responding to what people said, more and more people became upset or angry it seemed. I think I had at least four people tell me I need to show love like Jesus, be more like Jesus in evangelism, etc. Quite a few self-proclaimed Christians responding.
And then I responded and said someone’s certain statement/response made me highly doubtful of them being a true Christian, and then it seemed people got even more unhappy with me.
One of the interesting things about it all though, is individuals either stopped responding to me or blocked/unadded me as a friend, at least for the most part. As they tried to argue, I would ask for them to give Scripture to back up they’re claims. They keep saying all these things, but what basis do they have? At one point, someone called me out for being judgmental and saying someone wasn’t a Christian (I didn’t say they weren’t, I implied I was highly doubtful of it). And I responded with a fairly concise and simple phrase: “Where stands it written?”
Many times we make so many claims, but what is the basis for those claims? Are our beliefs founded on Scripture, on what God has declared, what God has made known?
I even said things along the lines of, “I like to do evangelism biblically. Show me some Scripture to back up what you’re saying.” I responded to one person something like this: “I don’t base what I do off of the teachings of heretical/backsliding “churches” that don’t serve God as they ought.”
I said something like that last statement because I think that must be where all these so-called Christians (and perhaps some of them are true believers) get so much crap that’s not biblical. This isn’t to bash them, no. This is to point out “unfruitful works of darkness” (Ephesians 5:11) and to add to this discussion. I don’t hate them or anything like that, and I don’t want to put blame on them for what I called crap. It’s “churches” more that I blame, not as much those led astray by false teachers.
One individual messaged me privately, but ultimately told me she was done talking to me because arguing about evangelism like I did it was so stupid. And she also made a public post on Facebook directed at me, telling me not to tell her how to share Jesus when clearly I do it wrong. I simply commented on the post with a quotation from Scripture and the reference and I went back to look at so I could put it on here only to find my comment seemingly deleted from the post.
Regardless, I quoted from 2 Corinthians 4.
But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.2 Corinthians 4:2-6
You see what Paul says here? We’ve renounced underhanded and disgraceful ways, we refuse to be cunning and we refuse to tamper with the Word of God. What do we do though? Openly state the truth. Do we have a responsibility to do so lovingly? Yes. Respectfully? Yes. But we DO state the truth.
And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil,correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.2 Timothy 2:24-26
And with people claiming the Name of Christ, especially that exhibit in themselves the fruits of false converts and/or that are hardened and not teachable, I believe that speaking more harshly can be biblical. But each situation must be judged for what it is. Christ said not to throw pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6).
Jesus was very loving, God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), and Jesus came “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). This is all true.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time.Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.Colossians 4:5-6
I ought to speak with grace, but also with truth. And here we see we also ought to speak to different people differently! I’ll post a picture of a response I got from someone and how I responded on Instagram after posting, “Are you a good person?”
Now in this situation I responded like this knowing who the person was and having some context. This was a kid at my school who has been calling me God, possibly even Jesus, and whatever else for quite some time. So, I responded like I did. I warned him and told him what he ought to do. I don’t want him to go to Hell! So how am I unloving to tell him what I did? Maybe I should have responded privately, I’ll say that much and apologize for replying publicly perhaps. But to not speak of God’s wrath to a people that think themselves good especially is to “tamper” with God’s Word I do believe. That does seem to me wrong, and it down plays the goodness of God.
Jesus was loving, but He spoke truth and seemed to show harshness as well, at least at times, in our eyes. See how he warned people to repent if they did not want to perish (Luke 13:5). Or look at John 6.
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, ‘This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?’ But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, ‘Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.But there are some of you who do not believe.’ (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.)And he said, ‘This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.’ After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.’John 6:60-69
Or look at Acts 8 with the sorcerer Simon. Or Elymas the magician in Acts 13. Or read Acts 3 and Acts 6.
But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.Acts 13:50-52
Read Jesus’s own words in Luke 10. See how he instructed His followers. Consider what He did in the temple with the money changers (Matthew 21, Mark 11, John 2).
The issue at hand is this: the Gospel must be preached in its fullness and according to Scripture, but also spoken and led into and such often in different ways for different people. But regardless, the truth must be proclaimed.
Therefore, I refuse to tamper with the Word of God for my own gain of popularity or acceptance. I want none of it. I want the approval of God more than man’s approval. Or at least I ought to. What did Jesus say?
The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.John 7:7
We make an open statement of the truth (quoted close to the top in 2 Corinthians 4). What the Scriptures say ought to determine how we live, how we conduct ourselves, etc. The way we do evangelism ought to be determined by the Scriptures.
If you tell me I need to be more like Jesus in my evangelism, please, show to me by the Scriptures how I ought to do that. So many are deceived by false teachings that are far too affected by culture and society. I’d probably even go so far as to call them “teachings of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).
And I don’t say these things ‘cause I’m better than anybody. God chose to have incredible mercy on me and saved me by His grace and power; I did not earn it. I don’t deserve any good thing from God. I wish to look to God for the answers, which means looking to His Word— it’s not like I say these things because I’m so smart and know everything. I don’t proclaim that my ways are better. I don’t wish to proclaim myself, but Christ as Lord (2 Corinthians 4:5).
May we remember Paul’s words to Timothy:
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.1 Timothy 4:16
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.2 Timothy 2:15
If you want to discuss this more, please feel free to contact me.
To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Session 7: Scripture’s Sufficiency for Evangelism (Mike Riccardi)
Basics of Biblical Evangelism PART 1 of 2 – How NOT to share your faith
Basics of Biblical Evangelism PART 2 of 2 – How to share your faith
All direct verse quotation are taken from the ESV
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