The                                              
Christian Pilgrim

 

54. Aggressive Evangelism



Aggressive evangelism is not suitable for the Christian. The Christian should display the fruit of the Spirit, not an aggressive nature.


Open Airs:

Matthew 12:19 - "He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets."

Acts 17:19 - "And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is?"

Paul did not get on a soap-box and start preaching to the minions. He was taken to the Areopagus and asked of his new doctrine by the people who took him there - they wanted to hear. This is totally unlike setting up a soap-box and shouting at people who do not want to hear.


Christ was not aggressive in His evangelism:

Isaiah 42:3 - "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth."

Matthew 12:18-21 - "Behold my servant, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased: I will put my spirit upon him, and he shall shew judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory. And in his name shall the Gentiles trust."

Matthew 27:12-14 - "And when he was accused of the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee? And he answered him to never a word; insomuch that the governor marvelled greatly."


Sometimes the prudent must keep silence:

Amos 5:13 - "Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time."

Ecclesiastes 3:7 - "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak."


Sometimes God stops His people from speaking:

Ezekiel 3:26 - "And I will make thy tongue cleave to the roof of thy mouth, that thou shalt be dumb, and shalt not be to them a reprover: for they are a rebellious house."



Hyperevangelism



If we listened to some ministers in Reformed circles, we would rapidly come to the conclusion that the greatest scourge in the church today is "Hypercalvinism" - a belief that because salvation is not for all men, therefore the gospel is not to be preached to all men. However, although "Hypercalvinism" does exist, and indeed is a problem, the numbers of its proponents are very small, and a far greater scourge is rampant which is decimating the church and causing havoc to the cause of Christ, and that is the problem of "Hyperevangelism."

But don't we believe in evangelism? Of course we do! The Lord Himself commanded us to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), and based on that command, we heartily do so (not, incidentally, based on the false premise that God wants all men to be saved). However, the problem is not whether we should evangelise or not, but rather the fact that for most evangelical churches, that is all they do! All their activities are geared towards an aggressive "get them in by all means" approach, which not only waters down the worship and preaching to fit a fictitious "seeker" (who always seems to have a mental age of about five), but also compromises the gospel of saving grace.

Anyone out there who does respond to invitations to come to one of these churches, soon finds out that the church has nothing to offer, only more advice on how to "get them in." No wonder that many soon become disillusioned with the church and leave - thus negating the original plan!

People are made to feel guilty if they are not overtly evangelising, and the whole thing is perpetuated. It is often pointed out that, "if the church doesn't evangelise it will die," conveniently forgetting that Christ Himself said, "I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18). God will build his church. He doesn't need us. We could just sit up by the fire in a nice comfy chair and do nothing, and not one of God's elect will be lost, God will still do all his pleasure. However, of course, if we do sit by the fire and do nothing, we will be being very disobedient. We have work to do! That is why we involve ourselves with the life of the church, not because God needs us in any way, shape or form. We must never forget this.

What is the solution? The solution is not to stop evangelising altogether, neither is it to use modern gimmicks which will soon perish with the using, but rather to make sure that there is something in the church to bring people to hear. Teaching should therefore be paramount. Adults as well as children need catechising these days - the last three generations have lost their knowledge of the truth. Of course this alone will not convert people, conversion is solely the work of the Holy Ghost; but we can propagate truth. We can tell people about Christ, His work, His attributes, His glory, and tell them how He wants us to live. We have so much to tell others about! Even if no fruit is found immediately, many can testify to the fact that when they are converted later on in life, they remember what they were taught in catechism class, and are eternally grateful for it.

Only then will believers grow in the faith, and evangelism will be a natural outworking of that faith, and not something that is altogether forced.

Of course evangelism is important, but not at the expense of everything else.

"Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves." (Matt. 23:15).

(October 2006)