Saturday, May 12, 2007

The Gospel and its proclamation (part 2)

[continued on from here]

The Gospel is be proclaimed for the salvation of sinners, and the message of the Gospel is derived from Scripture. However, what about the method? Do the ends ever justify the means in Gospel proclamation and Evangelism?

The answer is definitely no. God Himself has ordained the means by which we are to evangelize within the texts of Scripture, which is via proclamation of the Gospel in God's Word (Rom. 10:17). Since Man is saved via believing, which requires understanding, any method which does not proclaim the Gospel is definitely wrong. This would definitely rule out so-called 'lifestyle evangelism' (lifestyle pre-evangelism is fine) which does not communicate the Gospel at all and any so-called 'evangelism' activity where the Gospel is not presented; of which the worst is the 'seeker-sensitive circus church' phenomenon whereby unbelievers come to the church to be entertained and the most they ever get to a Gospel message is a pep-talk saying that 'God loves you and thus please accept Him (otherwise He is very lonely)' type of anti-Christian message which you WILL NOT find anywhere in Scripture (more on this later).

Rom. 10:17 thus summarizes the entire method by which Scripture dictates that Evangelism be done, which is through proclaiming the Gospel in words, since spiritual hearing is 'through the Word of Christ'. In the Great Commission in Mt. 28:18-20, teaching was central to making disciples, and the apostles in the narrative of Acts always proclaimed the Gospel through the method of preaching. In 1 Cor. 2:1-5, the Gospel was said to be proclaimed in speech. Through all this, we can see that words is the God-ordained medium for the transmission of the Gospel, not music, drama or whatever else that can be thought of. Therefore, without the sharing of the Gospel in words, there is no evangelism, regardless of the 'atmosphere' of the place or the 'professionalism' of the performers.

Now, as to whether music or other devices could be used to 'supplement' Evangelism, the question to look at is in what ways they are being used. If they are used in such a way that the message is undermined, by drawing attention to them instead of the message, then obviously they are not to be used. Similarly, if they are used as 'enhancers' for the message in order to 'manipulate' people into a more receptive state to make a 'decision' for Christ, then its use is similary heinous. Since no one can come to God unless the Father draws him (Jn. 6:44), there is nothing anyone can do which ultimately alters a person's destiny and therefore to attempt to do so would tend to create false converts by bringing these people at the most to a point of worldly grief which leads to death (2 Cor. 7:10). Not to mention the fact that it may cause a receptive person to confess Christ before he/she is prepared to do so and in so doing, the person may be discouraged by the promised persecution (2 Tim. 3:12) and leave hardened against the faith. We should therefore present the Gospel as it is instead of trying to soft-peddle it to make it more palatable to the masses.

Speaking of soft-peddling the Gospel, to present only half the Good News is definitely wrong, because it would alter the Gospel message in some way or another and thus bring down the curse of God upon that person (Gal. 1:8-9). Another detestable method is the bait-and-switch method of evangelism, whereby something 'attractive' is presented (the bait), and then substituted with the Gospel when the person has took interest in the bait (Assuming that they did indeed go to the Gospel). Such a method would of course end up presenting the Gospel, but then the people who are only interested in the bait you are offering would feel cheated and cause the church to bear reproach. More seriously, it betrays a fundamental distrust in the power of the Gospel in reaching out to those are lost. Practically, such a move often give rise to a very strong temptation to NOT even present the true Gospel to these people after baiting them out of a fear of them leaving the church, and down goes the tithing along with them, thus tempting these churches to compromise the Gospel message.

With the basics of the Gospel and its proclamation covered, let us look into a specifc area of the Gospel proclamation — Firstly, is it true and biblical that God loves everyone and earnestly desires their salvation, and secondly, should we present the Gospel to everyone in this manner?

[to be continued]

2 comments:

vincit omnia veritas said...

Daniel, are you trying to address certain issues in certain institutions, or are you writing broadly? Hmmm... ...

ddd said...

Huh...?

I was addressing broadly with an eye towards Piper's soteriology and the common grace issue. Am doing what I said I would be doing and haven't done for quite some time.