Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Evaluating Evangelism and Witnessing

Second Quarter 2012 Adult Sabbath School Lessons “Evaluating Evangelism and Witnessing” For the week of June 23, 2012
Evaluating Evangelism and Witnessing
The evaluation of our evangelistic methods is a Biblical principle. We are to “live by every word of God” (Matthew 4:4), and everything we do we are to “do it all to the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31). There is always a temptation to lower our standards, or in some other way to make the path to God easier for those we are seeking to win to Christ, but we have counsel that we are not to “lower our standards at all to meet man in his fallen condition.” Therefore, the methods and standards we use in our evangelistic work is as much an act of faith and obedience as is the message we present.
First of all, we have been told that Christ’s method alone brings TRUE success. He mingled amongst people, desiring their good, ministered to their needs, won their confidence, and then called them to follow Him. Our methods cannot merely be information transformation, but relational, spiritual, and methods in which we invest quality time and effort to ensure spiritual relationship, growth, and eventual discipleship.
Secondly, we are told to “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). This is consistent with counsel to “Preach the Three Angels’ Messages in their order.” The Three Angels’ Messages begin with the Everlasting Gospel, not some prophetic issue. The Everlasting Gospel must be presented in the light of the love of God, the “matchless charms of Jesus Christ,” for “only by love is love awakened.” We must present a message that attracts, that is based on God’s perfect love, for “perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18). The Gospel must be “good news” about what God has accomplished and offers to every human being. Altar calls must also be based on the truth that “with everlasting kindness” God has drawn us to Himself and to the cross (Jeremiah 31:3).
The Bible is clear that “by their fruits, you will know them” (Matthew 7:20). Our goal is not church membership numbers, but a deeply growing spiritual relationship with Jesus Christ on the part of all the church members (no matter the numbers), and with the evidence of conversion seen by the fruit of the Spirit active in their lives. John 17:3 is clear that “salvation is to know God, and Jesus Christ whom He hath sent.” Our methods, efforts, and motives must be to ensure that converts truly “know” in an intimate way the character of God, as well as His plan for their lives.
The plan of salvation envisions more than church membership, or even the forgiveness of sins. It is wonderful good news that when we come to God as we are, confessing our sins, we “stand before God as though we have not sinned.” There has been a tendency to emphasize the mercy of God (as well as His love), while neglecting to teach that God is holy, and that His call is to holiness (1 Thess. 4:7). “Without holiness, no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). I John 3:7 is clear that we are not to be deceived on this point: “He who doeth righteousness is righteous, even as He is righteous.”
The beauty of the 1888 message was that it linked the Gospel with the cleansing of the sanctuary, preparing a people to meet God. True faith works by love and purifies the soul, so that anyone who truly experiences justification by faith WILL experience sanctification, for all comes to us through the efficacy of living faith, motivated by love. “Every man who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3). We are to present a message that draws away from the world, preparing a special people, loyal to Christ and to the principles of His kingdom.
Our evangelistic methods should also include extensive discipleship training as a follow-up to the reaping event. We are called to be witnesses and ambassadors for Christ, calling the world to be “reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:18). Our spiritual gifts are all to be utilized for one purpose: that others may also learn the truths of the Everlasting Gospel, the agape love of God, the depths of love demonstrated in the cross, and the ongoing work of our High Priest in Heaven to not only draw us to Himself, but to “finish our faith” (Heb. 12:2).
In a world in which, as I Timothy 4:1 points out, many in the last days will depart from the faith, following the seduction and doctrines of Satan, leading to a great falling away, we must have the courage and loyalty it takes to preach and teach the truth, “though the heavens fall” because we truly love God supremely and our neighbor as ourselves. I Corinthians 13:2 is clear that if we have all knowledge, and have not love, we are nothing.
No evaluation of evangelism is complete unless we “examine ourselves, to see if we are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5). Do we truly love God completely? Do we love our neighbors enough to die for them? Do we “hunger and thirst after righteousness” (Matt. 5:6)? We cannot give others what we do not have ourselves. That is worth repeating: We cannot give others what we do not have ourselves. May we truly place God first, and the salvation of souls primary in our lives. Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. In following our Lord, that will be our objective too.
--Thomas Cusac