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Thursday, June 29, 2006

Sex, Evangelism and Abraham

So often, people object to the doctrines of election by asking, So why evangelize? They distort the doctrine to some obscure level, believing a person will be saved apart from Christ simply because they are elect (ignoring that the elect will come to God through Christ alone). I listened to a caller on Stand to Reason's podcast who asked this very question. Greg Koukl used a very accurate metaphor to make a case for human instruments used in the election of God. In Acts 15, Abram is told he will have a son. However, this does not mean, since Abram is promised a son, he ceases to have sex with Sarai, since conception is in God's hands. In fact, after his sin with Hagar, Abraham is reminded the conception will come through Sarah. His action cooperates with the promises of God.

I don't believe sex is intended to be a model of evangelism, but I do think there are some similarities:
    Evangelism brings life
Romans 10 explains that though God chooses His elect before our creation, he uses our evangelism as the way to present the gospel message.
    It's wrong to make people burn
In the same way that it is wrong to incite passions in a person that you can not properly fulfill, I get terribly frustrated with churches that focus so much on what they call "pre-evangelism." How many times has a person passed on presenting the gospel because their intention was only to create interest?
    Evangelism has restrictions
The gospel is objective. The presentation is objective. Therefore, as sex is to be unconditionally tied to marriage, so evangelism is unconditionally tied to the gospel.
    Evangelism is pleasurable
A major problem with the question, Why evangelize? is that we should be asking in return Why not evangelize? When did the presentation of the gospel become drudgery or a task we have to do, rather than get to do? We should be just as delighted that God has chosen to save souls through evangelism as we are that God chooses to produce human life through sexual union.
    Evangelism can be scary
Probably the biggest objection to evangelism being pleasurable is that it is scary. But what person wasn't nervous on their wedding night? In fact, many things in life that are enjoyable are frightening or create anxiety when first tried.

Somehow, evangelism must be reclaimed. We must see that it is God's ordained way to get the message to His elect. That it is a specific message that we should always want to present. And that we should have a blast doing it.

10 Comments:

  • At 9:39 PM, Blogger TheReformedThinker said…

    Another analogy to use that I think makes good logic sense is this (I took this from Ryire in his Basic Theology book).

    Does God know when you will die? Yes. Can you die a single day sooner? No. Then why eat? we eat to live. The means of eating is essential to the end of living to the preordained day of death.

    God knows who his elect are, but he has chosen in his mercy to allow us to be part of the process. God could have saved people without our involvment. But he allows us to share in the joy and to be apart of his plan. All of God's elect will be saved. But they will not be saved without the hearing of the word.

    Our job is to preach the word and bring the gospel to the elect so that they can complete what God has predestined (II Tim 2:10)

     
  • At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It seems like you're saying that evangelism is "an event." Sometimes it can happen in a single setting, but usually evangelism is a process. When you make it an event, you discount those who have come before you to till the ground, plant the seed, water and fertilize it. It seems to me that that is all evangelism, not just the "speaking" of the Word.

     
  • At 8:09 AM, Blogger danny2 said…

    anonymous,

    while i acknowledge that our life must most certainly match our message (for the works are a manifestation that we truly trust the message), i think the biblical proof shows that evangelism requires articulation of the gospel.

    being nice to your neighbor is great. sharing food with the hungry is wonderful (and Jesus says it is an act as if done to Him!). however, neither is evangelism unless accompanied by an articulation of the gospel.

    in the classic passage about tilling and watering (I Corinthians 3) refers to the ministries of apollos and paul. it would be a major oversight to ignore that their ministries were centered around the preaching of the Word (not for a minute saying they didn't need to live it as well). neither paul nor apollos were watering and tilling by simply "living well" in corinth. they were preaching the gospel.

    evangelism is a message (the good news). a person can not stand before God justified because someone else fed them. but they can stand before God justified if a person explains the gospel to them and they repent and trust Christ.

    would you refer to sex as "an event?" again, in this illustration, there is something very specific that must happen for a child to be conceived, but most couples find themselves having intercourse as an outflow of their entire relationship with one another. in a healthy marriage, sex is not an event a husband and wife decide to participate in, but rather a natural part of their entire marital relationship.

    we should be feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, caring for the less fortunate, but i don't think we should call that evangelism.

     
  • At 8:47 AM, Blogger TheReformedThinker said…

    Good explanation Danny. This is one area where I feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit. As far as I can remember I have actually only been used once by God to lead someone to repentance and Christ. I have shared my testimony to many others. But for so long I have used the "my life is a witness" line because I didn't want to do the work of the evangelist. As you said that Bible clearly shows that we should practice what we preach, but actual evangelism is much more than that. It is actually sharing God's Word with people and telling them of His only plan of salvation. Though we are all not called to be like Ray Comfort, I believe we who are all saved are to evanglize and I have failed miserably in this area in my own life.

     
  • At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for your thoughts, although I couldn't disagree with you more on your definition of evangelism. Articulating "the plan of salvation," can most certainly be an event. But true evangelism is a lifestyle, spoken and unspoken. I think most evangelism is done in an unspoken way. Worship is a big thing now-a-days. People want to make it an event, when Romans clearly defines it as a lifestyle. Lastly, Sex is an event for men...but a process for women. :) Sorry, I couldn't resist that one.

    I really appreciate your passion for the Word.

     
  • At 10:03 PM, Blogger ~d said…

    anonymous: i fully agree that our words and lifestyle ought to go hand in hand, and (i think i hear you saying) that evangelism is often most effective in the context of relationship, but no one is going to suddenly understand the Good News of what Christ has done for them and for me without someone speaking the words. so i disagree that most evangelism is done in an unspoken way. evangelism is, by definition, "the winning or revival of personal committments to Christ." it's hard to do that with our mouths closed.

    here is another good article on evangelism: http://www.boundless.org/2005/articles/a0001299.cfm

     
  • At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Let me clarify. I do not believe that someone comes to follow Christ without the knowledge of who He is. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God. I do believe that IN THE PROCESS of evangelism, we speak the truth to that hearer. I just may not be THE person to eventually speak that truth to them. I may have another part in a particular person's life. I do not discount the work of evangelism done by the Spirit through the people who come before me. Ever heard someone say, "There's just something different about that person?" Maybe "that person" has never had an opportunity to speak with the "watcher," but he has evangelized all the same. God uses us to draw people even when we don't know it. Someone once said to me, "Evangelism is a conversation, not a monologue."

     
  • At 2:30 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    anonymous (by the way--who are you?),

    one of the difficult issues in discussion is to make sure we are using words the same way, to make sure we are communicating the same things.

    the genuine believer should have a life that is accordance with his message, so i agree with life matching doctrine...

    however, i can not find a passage in Scripture that suggests that sancified living is evangelism alone. it must be accompanied by words...and those words seem to be evangelism.

    i may be wrong. but this seems to be the classic (and biblical) understanding of evangelism.

     
  • At 7:53 PM, Blogger Dru Morgan said…

    I got a letter recently challenging my evangelism (by words) saying that God is not going to ask whether we repented and put our faith in Jesus, but will be more concerned with how many homeless people we fed.

    The trouble with this is that the person thinks they are actually living a life that is pleasing to God. Only when we become born again can we even have a desire to please God, much less actually succeed.

    Bottom line: Yes, live it. But, please, please, please articulate it.

     
  • At 3:38 PM, Blogger Charity said…

    Good and thought-provoking discussion!

    I believe relationship is vital in evangelism, and that it is certainly a process - I've heard the statistic that a person generally hears the gospel on average of seven times before accepting it.

    I think, though, that if we're using lifestyle to evangelize without articulating the message of the gospel, then sure - people are noticing there's something different, but who gets the credit? ME!

    While working during the summers to put myself thorugh college, my co-workers often commented that there was something different about me: I was honest, trustworthy, etc. They knew I was religious. But I never clearly spoke to them of what affected this change in me. So Christ didn't get the glory - I did. Without the message of God's grace, it simply looks like I'm a good person.

    For this reason, I MUST verbally share with people - understanding, of course, that I may not be the one God uses to bring them to repentance.

     

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