Evangelism & Missions
Where the gospel is fully and powerfully preached, with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven, our churches do not only hold their own, but win converts; but when that which constitutes their strength is gone—we mean when the gospel is concealed, and the life of prayer is slighted—the whole thing becomes a mere form and fiction. For this thing our heart is sore grieved. –Charles Haddon Spurgeon
A recent “user-friendly” book, (ch was endorsed by several of the top names in the user-friendly, church-marketing, and church-growth movements), included a section entitled, “Different Times Require Different Messages.” That title caught my eye, so I began reading. This author—who pastors a large, user-friendly church—says modern times have ravaged people’s self-esteem so badly that people today actually need to hear a different message from what was appropriate a hundred years ago. He writes,
In times past the human spirit was far more sturdy than it is now. Modernity has taken a high toll of the human spirit, as has the high cost of the American dream. The stress of modern life has had a greatly negative impact on the self-esteem of modern man.
Consequently, there is a high level of fragility in the modern human ego. [Baby] boomers particularly have been fragmented and shattered by the fast pace of modern-day development. That’s why our baby boomers today are in a very fragile state.
Have you ever taken the time to read messages by some of the great nineteenth-century preachers … ? If you have, you will probably have noted that [men of that era] addressed quite a different crowd than we do today and they addressed them in a very different manner. And because of those differences, I disagree with those who say that such messages are appropriate for our time.
You see, people in our culture are truly broken and deeply wounded. They need desperately to be healed and put back together. But the process of healing, I believe, is different for every era and every generation, including this one.
Yes, different times do require different messages.
Douglas D. Webster compares biblical preaching to user-friendly methods:
Biblical preaching was God-centered, sin-exposing, self-convicting and life-challenging—the direct opposite of today’s light, informal sermons that Christianize self-help and entertain better than they convict.
No wonder nominal Christians leave church feeling upbeat. Their self-esteem is safely intact. Their minds and hearts have been sparked and soothed with sound-bite theology, Christian maxims and a few practical pointers dealing with self-esteem, kids or work. But the question remains: has the Word of God been effectively and faithfully proclaimed, penetrating comfort zones and the veneer of self-satisfaction with the truth of Jesus Christ?
· The simple reality is that the Church cannot be market-driven in its strategy and remain faithful to Scripture; rather the Church is obligated by Scripture to drive the market!
· To say it another way—the Church is obligated to influence and change the world, and not allow the world to change the Church! Once the Church prostitutes itself by allowing the world to corrupt it; it becomes powerless and useless for God’s purposes!
Set Apart for the Gospel
Paul’s epistle to the Romans is an exposition of the gospel in almost point-by-point fashion. In the first verse of the epistle, Paul describes himself as one “set apart for the gospel.” The gospel was the foundation of Paul’s ministry, and in Romans he gives a clear and thorough presentation of it. He writes about God’s wrath and human sin (chapters 1–3), justification and imputed righteousness (3–5), sanctification and practical righteousness (6–8), election and Israel’s rejection of Christ (9–11), and then makes practical applications of various gospel truths in chapters twelve through the end of the epistle. The gospel is his theme throughout, and one of Paul’s reasons for writing Romans seems to be to demonstrate the centrality of the gospel to all Christian life and ministry.
- When we speak of “the gospel” we tend to think of an evangelistic message. But it is not only an outline of salvation truths. The gospel—in the sense Paul and the apostles employed the word—includes all the revealed truth about Christ
- It does not stop at the point of conversion and justification by faith, but embraces every other aspect of salvation, from sanctification to glorification. The gospel’s significance therefore does not end the moment the new birth occurs; it applies to the entire Christian experience. And when Paul and the other New Testament writers spoke of “preaching the gospel,” they were not talking about preaching only to unbelievers (cf v. 15).
- All ministry in the early church revolved around the gospel. No one would have suggested a debate about secular politics, a weight-loss program, a comedy act, a stage show, a seminar on potty training for young children, or a class on time management for businessmen as a means to boost church attendance. The church and all its ministries were single-mindedly committed to the one task of strengthening believers for furthering the gospel in the world.
Romans 1:16 (NASB95)
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
What was the Gospel message?
- UNBELIEF has consequences… (Romans 1:18-32)
- Present destruction and misery
- Eternal separation from God
- No EXCUSES… (Romans 2:1-16, 3:10-18; 3:23)
- The Jew is guilty—condemned by the Law
- The Gentile is guilty—condemned by their conscience
- The ONLY lasting solution for Peace with God, is a relationship with Jesus Christ
- ONLY ONE OPTION…Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24-26; 5:1,2)
- Only Jesus Christ forgives sin
- Only Jesus Christ satisfies the wrath of God
- Jesus Christ alone, justifies and provides peace with God
- Jesus Christ alone, provides hope for your future
ILLUS: Calcutta, India has the largest homeless population in the world numbering in the tens of thousands. Near the temple to the god of destruction, one missionary couple reported the daily gathering of over 9,000 severely destitute and hungry homeless people. Across the street from the Temple is a shelter started by Mother Theresa with a sign on the outside that reads:
Do not bring any homeless or destitute person inside this building unless they have been rejected by every other available agency or shelter. This Shelter is for the most destitute of the destitute only.
Inside the shelter on this day, was a young European woman, holding in her arms, a young man who appeared extremely old. His thin body, looked like bones clad tightly with skin; she was feeding water and nourishment to him through an eye dropper. At times he swallowed, but mostly it dribbled down his chin.
He was dying; but his stare was unmistakable. You could tell he loved the woman deeply, even though she was a stranger to him, and she held his gaze as she fed him drop by drop.
A missionary nearby watched for a while, then said to his guests:
This man is the same age as the Nurse, he gazes at her, because she is the first person whose arms have surrounded him since his birth.