In short I think this book should be read by all Christians. It will convict you and challenge you. This is my first book review for CORE Issues, and I did it by video. Check it out and share with others. God bless!
Ouch! That might sting! Pastors, please hear me on this. When I share or post something like this it is NOT because I dislike Pastors who do Altar Calls or promote "Sinner's Prayers". For years I WAS one and was passionate about both!
I post pictures like this because it makes very clear just how unbiblical much of the "evangelism" done in church is today. I also understand the good intentions behind the actions. Even the motivation. Again I DID IT TOO! However, we cannot sacrifice sound doctrine for tradition of any kind. No matter how much applause it brings or how much support it brings to our ministries due to numbers on a tally sheet.
I don't think any honest pastor acts this way because their sole or even their primary goal is numbers. In fact I firmly believe many God loving and God honoring pastors due so out of not much more than blind tradition. Yet, I know, because I've been there, that when using methods like this, we DO focus on numbers to some degree and seek to improve them.
We are not to seek numbers at all. We are to seek to powerfully and truthfully proclaim the undiluted saving Gospel of Jesus Christ, and know that He will save all those who come to Him in repentance and faith.
When you see someone judging someone by telling them they are going to Hell it should upset you. It does me! However, the hypocrisy of the modern church is that we make eternal judgments all the time. When pastors and/or evangelists, or even lay people, all over the country declare that if anyone sincerely prayed this prayer and "asked Jesus into their heart", or "accepted Christ", or said and/or did absolutely anything they prescribe for salvation, and then judges that person assuredly saved and declare it to be so, is equally unfounded and usurping Christ's sole position as the Judge of all men! Friends this should not be so!
Friends, We cannot make tradition into doctrine. Sadly the last hundred years or so of Church history has done that for us and many are still caught under the sway of tradition that does not honor God. On top of that it offers no strength or comfort for men either.
When we take it upon ourselves to tell a person that we judge them to be saved and going to Heaven we do so without scriptural support and are actually in opposition to Holy writ. Please friends, examine scripture and see how Jesus and all the apostles and saints proclaimed the gospel. It was a command to repent, believe, and follow Christ up a narrow, difficult, and singular path that few find. Let us proclaim that hard but true message with a compassion for the lost fueled by a desire to glorify God in all things!
Oh and as a quick note I do remember all the big verses we can use to justify these methods. But before I address maybe the biggest ones ever used let me say just a couple more things.
First, we must remember to always have scripture as our guide. If we are evangelizing and preaching in a way that does not line up with scripture we are wrong. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.
Second, as you look at any text that seems to point to our ability to rubber stamp someone as saved, remember that true faith is a living faith.
Last an not least I want to say again that we must remember that we are not the judge of anyone as either saved or unsaved. All judgment has been given by the Father to the Son.
OK, here is probably the most famous verses used to say we can declare someone saved by a sinners prayer, etc.
"that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Rom. 10:9-11
Remember, as we read this or any passage. We have a living faith and everything here shows that. It does not say that those who once "believed" or "confessed" are saved. Look how emphatic and clear the wording is. Here's the key words, "confess", "believe", and "believes". Notice that these are active and living words!
It does not matter that one once confessed or believed. It matters whether someone will say till their dying day that they do believe and continue to confess to any man, woman, or child, that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!
Maybe my favorite verse for relaying Christ's command to the lost is this:
"...Repent, and believe in the gospel." Mark 1:15
Again notice the wording. Key words, "Repent" and "believe". These are again living and active words. It is not someone who once repented and believed who is saved. It is the person who by the grace of God was saved and by the grace of God continues every day to repent and believe as Christ commanded!
Now, don't think I'm a sinless perfectionist. 1 John makes very clear we sin. However, we are growing in holiness, being conformed to the image of the Son as Paul promises us in Romans 8. Some slide back further and longer than others but all who are saved sin with regret and tears. Whether seen by men or not.
I could go on with lots of verses but scripture is clear. Salvation is wholly of the Lord and we are humble and grateful recipients of amazing grace! Let us do as we're commanded to cast and water seeds. Then let us trust in God to bring the increase for His glory and the eternal good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose!
Welcome to CORE Issues! This is where I hope to address issues as they pertain to Evangelism in general and CORE ministries specifically. I don't know exactly how wide we'll range in topics, but most will be issues that arise due to peoples questions, comments, and concerns.
At other times I'll just be sharing what's on my heart and mind. Most often even these issues are going to stay mostly in the realm of evangelism as that is what CORE is mostly about. However, I'll probably address general theology issues and social concerns as they relate to the church today as well.
In the past I've posted some lengthy things on Facebook addressing issues and concerns but they kind of roll by and are gone after a short time Sometimes I'd like to be able to point someone to something I addressed but it is long gone by the time I want to do so. This way you and I both can keep track of what I've spouted off about!
In the end my first priority here(as in everything else)is to glorify God. After that I hope the blog will be a resource that blesses you and furthers your walk with God.
Please feel free to make comments here, in Facebook, email me, etc. Your ideas and overall input will be a major fuel source for this blog. God bless and thanks for your prayers!
Evangelism - Gospel Banners, Tracts, Preaching, and Ultimately What and for Whom We're Doing it All for Anyway!
(Quick note: I had to revise the title because while this started off as an answer to a concern about Gospel Banners, this post turned into a teaching on the wider issue of evangelism as a whole. So please be patient you'll be here a while, but I hope you'll be blessed.)
I recently heard from a brother some concerns he had with the use of Gospel banners. It seems some friends and relatives of his were angered and/or embarrassed by Gospel Banners they saw CORE using in a recent Classic Car cruise. I don't know how well you can see them but all the major banners we use are shown in the picture conglomerate in the upper left. So, from here on out at least you'll know the context of the complaints and concerns.
However, the concern this brother had was different. His concern was that he didn't see these as Biblical and felt they were impersonal. I had never heard that issue raised before. I was thankful that he brought it up because it caused me to prayerfully consider his concern in light of scripture.
Let me start off by saying this brother is a solid believer who loves the Lord. He's even accompanied me when I preached the gospel in the open air. He is not just an evangelism "Nay Sayer". His concern is legitimate, so I want to address it here for him and anyone else who may be thinking the same thing.
First and short. Are Gospel banners "biblical"? Of course first we have to ask: How do we mean, "biblical"? Obviously we don't hear of John the Baptist or any disciples carrying gospel banners or any other biblical characters I'm aware of. Of course we know that isn't what people are driving at. At least I hope not. If so giving away gospel tracts and even copies of the Bible itself would be unbiblical by that criteria!
So, really what we have to determine for being biblical, is whether or not the content is biblically sound. I will be the first to admit that I am appalled at what some "Street Evangelists" consider appropriate banners or signs. I personally believe that unless the banner uses language that properly depicts a biblical stance both in language and heart it is a bad banner. Of course the easiest banners to be safe are just those that quote scripture. However, often for the sake of space a banner may be a summation of a biblical truth that points people to Christ. Most of our banners are in that light.
I see banners like very short gospel tracts. They need to call out peoples sins and point them to the savior from sin in as short and as powerful a way as possible. They must do so for the glory of God and for the potential salvation of the readers soul. If a banner does not carry these elements I can't really call them a, "Gospel Banner".
(As a quick aside, all the tall banners on poles come to our ministry from before CORE even existed. They aren't even necessarily the banners I would have created. However, I approve of them and their messages. The only banner in the pictures you see that I created is the long CORE banner with both scripture and commentary.)
We could go deep into the theology of messages but I think I've covered the basics as to the biblical appropriateness of a Gospel Banner. So let's move on to my friend's concern regarding whether they are "personal".
Like the term "Biblical", the term "personal", could have various and sundry definitions. So for the sake of this blog I'm going to address the term, "personal", in light of my friend's concerns.
He mentioned to me that he saw the preaching that John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles used in sharing the gospel as both biblical and personal. As the person to person interaction opened the door for questions and dialogue on top of the preachers monologue. I definitely agree with this and even experienced the reality of very personal dialogue and debate today. Another brother and I had the opportunity to preach in the open air as well as chat one on one and tract at the Cranberry Festival in Bandon Oregon. This led to some very interesting and fruitful interaction!
So, by this definition of "personal", I agree that banners lack the one on one interaction my friend sees as appropriate. Now, I think I can clear this objection up as to whether or not this definition of "personal", should be a measure of the appropriateness of Gospel Banners pretty quickly. Let's look at some other ministry tools(some mentioned earlier above)that fall outside of this definition of, "personal".
Shirts - Many Christians wear them and they are little different than Gospel banners in their effect(Except they usually do not present a very good Gospel message. In fact they're often silly or even embarassing!).
Bumper Stickers - See "Shirts" above!
Gospel Tracts - As I mentioned above, Gospel Banners are really just short Gospel Tracts. They are equally impersonal.
Preaching - Yes, even preaching can be very impersonal. While tone, length of message, and even modeling the message for the current crowd may add a modicum of customization for them specifically, overall there is little interaction in most cases and the message is impersonal by the standard we're going by here.
The Bible - Yes, I know it may sound crazy, but even giving someone a Bible is impersonal by our standard without one to one interaction. Often times Bibles can be found destroyed or trashed or in second hand stores dropped off unread.
So, after all that is said let me give a quick summary statement and then go on to flesh out some other thoughts regarding the issue.
In short, no matter what the medium in the evangelism scenario, without at least two engaged participants in the scenario, the scenario is not "personal" by our definition here.
Now, I want to try to define what I see as, "personal". First let me say I believe all evangelism should be personal. In fact, any true evangelism must be personal. I say "must", because all true evangelism involves at least four persons. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit and last and definitely least, me! Without this very personal foundation for our evangelism any numbers other than these, no matter how great, are empty.
So first let's make sure we have the right reasons for our evangelism. If we do then our evangelism will be personal.
First in evangelism and in all areas of life we must do what we do for the glory of God. If we approach our evangelism with a heart that loves God we will evangelize in a manner that brings praise, honor, and glory to His name!
Secondly, if we love the lost people who are headed for the same eternal Hell that we deserve, we will cry out to them passionately and personally to repent and turn to their only possible savior, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Now we know the goals we are aiming for. So how can we use Gospel Banners(or any other evangelistic medium)usefully to attain them? To do that we must make clear what the specific purpose of evangelism is.
Evangelism's specific purpose is this: To call all sinners, everywhere, to give due glory to God for the amazingly gracious sacrifice of His only begotten Son, for the salvation of His people. They begin their life of giving glory to God by humbling themselves, repenting of sin, and trusting in Christ alone to faithfully and lovingly wash them from all their sin, seal and sanctify them by the Holy Spirit, and present them as His spotless Bride to the Father in Heaven.
In short, our goal is to see God glorified in His saving sinners through by the proclamation of the Gospel!
Now how can Gospel Banners or any other medium accomplish such a lofty goal? In and of themselves they will utterly fail. Yet, God promises that He will use preaching(The proclamation of His saving Gospel!)in any medium listed above, to save sinners! Don't take my word for it take God's
"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." 1 Cor. 1:18-25
"For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ." Rom. 10:11-17
So, in the end friends we only need to concern ourselves with a few things in evangelism. We need to be sure that our motives, mediums and the what we manifest to God and man, are God glorifying as defined by His word.
You see, we really only need to concern ourselves in whether or not our lives glorify God. If we obey the first command to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength, the second command to love our neighbor as ourselves will be inevitable. As we love God and are so thankful for being saved from the Hell that we deserve, we will want our neighbors to likewise love God and be thankful for being saved from Hell as well. So the fruit of that will be that our Gospel Banners and every other evangelistic tool we use will be dedicated to that end.
Be confident friends! The Apostle Paul told the Corinthians(1 Cor. 3)the truth of Gospel preaching in a nutshell. Some plant seeds, and others water them, but it is God that brings the increase! He will indeed bring the increase! Let us settle for no less than the authority of the spoken words of our Lord Jesus Christ on this!
"The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.” Mk. 4:14-20
Take heart friends! Jesus has promised that though many will not be saved, some definitely will! Those who are will not only be saved but will produce fruit to the glory of God!
"And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart." Gal. 6:9
God bless and thanks for reading!
By Mason Goodknight
Mason is the Director of CORE Ministries. He's a husband and father to three of the most beautiful ladies God could ever bless a man with.