Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Open Air Preaching -John Wesley

It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Neither do I; I love a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?

Here Mr Wesley bears his soul again! It is no marvel that the devil does not love field preaching! Of course the devil does not love field preaching, or open air preaching, or street evangelism, or gossiping the gospel, or speaking to someone outside a church building about their soul's destiny and their need to put all their trust in Christ! Why? Because he knows that if we limit the preaching of the gospel to church buildings, the majority, the huge majority of those who need the gospel and who it was intended for, will never hear it, and he will be happy! But if we take up field preaching, open air preaching, street evangelism, gossiping the gospel or speaking to all and sundry outside a church building about their soul's destiny, and their need to put all their trust in Christ, he will be in trouble.
Neither do I, states  Wesley, because it is difficult, laborious, filled often with rejection, scorn and even violence, as opposed to the easier option of a commodious room, a soft cushion, a handsome pulpit. But, says Wesley again. But where is my zeal, says the little five foot three inch human dynamo? Here he gives us the reason! Where is my zeal if I do not trample all these underfoot in order to save one more soul?
It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than have a comfortable time. It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than become a famous preacher.It is because he has a zeal to save souls rather than make a grand living out of preaching to the rich.

When he preached to the coal miners in their thousands, on hearing the love of Christ for them for perhaps the very first time, their tears would flow down their dirty black faces forming little white gullies- as the blood of Christ would also flow over their hearts, washing away the stains of sin, and making them children of God. It was for this reason that he fought his national inclination for the easy Christian life and went out into the highways and the byways in order to compel them to come in.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not whether they be clergymen or laymen, they alone will shake the gates of Hell and set up the kingdom of Heaven upon Earth. John Wesley

Here John Wesley makes a bold statement. He believes he can make the gates of Hell shake set up the Kingdom of Heaven on earth with only one hundred preachers. He is not looking for a million preachers,or a hundred thousand, or ten thousand, or a thousand, or even five hundred preachers for that matter. He is looking for a mere- one hundred preachers. But here I ask, what sort of preachers is he looking for? Is he looking for very religious preachers? Is he looking for the wonderful eloquent preachers or degree educated preachers? Is it preachers who have read and know the Bible in its original language? Is it preachers who have been Christians a long time? Is he looking for old preachers or young preachers, for rich preachers or poor preachers, for married preachers or single preachers? Is he looking only for male preachers? No,no,no! 

He is looking for preachers who fear nothing but sin. These preachers  don't fear man. They don't fear a loss of reputation. They don't fear being forgotten. They don't fear becoming poor. They don't fear violence and they don't fear death. They don't fear Satan but they do fear sin! They hate it and will run from it. For them it is poison. For them it will not destroy them but it will injure them. For them it will bring hurt to the relationship they have with their Master. Like a poison, if not dealt with, it will make them spiritually sick and if untreated could kill them. If they take of this poison they must immediately seek healing and forgiveness and restoration.

But Wesley is looking for preachers who not only fear sin but also those who desire nothing but God.Preachers who don't desire money, who don't desire  fame, or power, or influence. God alone is their desire. God alone is their goal. God alone is their first love, their prize, their first thought in the morning and their last thought at night!

Must these preachers be clergy, trained and educated in their own denominational establishment? No, says Wesley - they need only the call of God- plus a fear only of sin and a desire only for  God.

Monday, 27 October 2014

You have nothing to do but to save souls. Therefore spend and be spent in this work. And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society; but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance. John Wesley

'You have nothing to do but to save souls'.
So were Wesley's word to his preachers- the first and greatest priority was to reach and win souls for Christ. Let all else go!
'Therefore spend and be spent in this work.' 
Put all your resources into this venture, be it money, time or whatever, into the work -even to the very last cent or minute
'And go not only to those that need you, but to those that need you most' It is a time perhaps when resources are slim and there is great demand. Don't waste your time on those who neither need you nor want you-like Paul and the Jews, like Wesley and the Anglicans, like the religiously satisfied. Pray to the God of heaven to open up doors of opportunity, to give you divine appointments that your time would be most effectively used among those who are hungry and thirsty.
It is not your business to preach so many times, and to take care of this or that society;
We must not even be sidetracked to teach and pastor and lead, but rather 'to seek and save that which is lost'! Others can do the teaching, the pastoring and the leading-the evangelists must do the evangelism and make it their main aim. As Wesley concludes, not other forms of ministry must be their focus  -
 'but to save as many souls as you can; to bring as many sinners as you possibly can to repentance.

Reckon then that to acquire soul-winning power, you will have to go through mental torment and soul distress. You must go into the fire if you are going to pull others out of it, and you will have to dive into the floods if you are going to draw others out of the water. You cannot work a fire escape without feeling the scorch of the conflagration, nor man a lifeboat without being covered with the waves.”C.H.S.

What? Is reaching men for Christ not easy? Sadly many who have been won to Christ easily will not stay on the road when things get hot and dangerous. Did Christ not suffer persecution, pain, rejection, betrayal, the cross- and all for the benefit of those he would save? Should we expect a flowery bed of ease? No way, not if we want to go his way, To be fit to reach the broken, we  often have to have experienced brokenness so we can empathise with those we reach, We also must become hardened like a soldier, or fireman that we can face the difficulties that come against us and not give up on the face of battle. Might we suffer in the warfare? I think we will despite having the armour on - all the saints did-Paul, Peter, the Master himself was bruised greatly for our iniquities- should we as his followers expect less than that? AK

To be a soul winner is the happiest thing in the world. And with every soul you bring to Jesus Christ, you seem to get a new heaven here upon earth.” C.H.S.

Here Spurgeon is saying in effect, to become really happy we will reach and win people to Christ. I like that, and believe it with my whole heart.In fact, when people do come to Christ we are blessed beyond measure and it like experiencing something like heaven on the earth. The reason for this that we experience this is it is Christ's life radiating from the life of the new born Christ one. Let us experience this more and more.

'I would sooner bring one sinner to Jesus Christ than unravel all the mysteries of the divine Word, for salvation is the one thing we are to live for.' Charles Spurgeon

What does Spurgeon mean here? First of all he is stating that the most important thing in a Christian's life is to reach and win people to Christ. It is the greatest thing we can do: more important that having the knowledge and complete understanding of the Bible, which, would be most wonderful for any Christian to know. It is therefore more important than earning a great amount of money in one's job, or being the most competent person in our profession of law, or medicine, or Banking, or insurance, or sport, or politics or whatever! Nothing surpasses the imp0rtance of winning people for Christ. Did not our Lord say  'I have come to seek and save that which was lost', surely then we could do no better that follow the Master and learn to become skilful 'fishers of men.'

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Evangelism: Early Church Methods: A.W.Tozer

Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.—Acts 4:32-33
A friend of mine went to see a man who was the head of a local communist cell in a local communist headquarters where they send out literature. The communist said, "Come in, Reverend, and sit down." He went in and sat. "Now, we're communists," he said, "you know that, and you're a minister. Of course, we're miles apart. But," he said, "I want to tell you something. We learned our technique from your book of Acts." He said, "We learned how to win and conquer from your book of Acts." And he said, "You who believe the Bible have thrown overboard the methods of the early church and we who don't believe it have adopted them and they're working."
What was the method? It's a very simple method of the early church. It was to go witness, give everything to the Lord and give up all to God and bear your cross, take the consequences. The result was in the first hundred years of the Christian church the whole known world was evangelized. Success and the Christian, 10-11.
"Lord, we're too selfish, busy doing our own thing. Give us a spirit of love, of unselfishness, of willingness of pay any price for the sake of the Gospel. Do it for Jesus' sake. Amen."
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Reprinted from Tozer on Christian Leadership by A.W. Tozer, copyright © 2001 by Zur Ltd. Used by permission of WingSpread Publishers, a division of Zur Ltd.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Evangelistic Passion ::FRANK RETIEF looks at how we can regain our passion for the gospel.

Evangelistic Passion ::

FRANK RETIEF looks at how we can regain our passion for the gospel.
Source: Perspective Vo10 No2 © Perspective 2002

How can any Christian believer not have a passion to evangelise? When one thinks of the enormity of what Jesus did on the Cross for us how can we refrain from sharing it? FRANK RETIEF looks at how we can regain our passion for the gospel …
I am often introduced to audiences as a man with “a passion for evangelism”. The chairman sits down and I then have to face the audience wondering what he means. Is “a passion for evangelism” a sort of oddity, something to be scrutinised, marvelled at, perhaps even admired; but ultimately, something peculiar and unique to only certain people.
What, in fact, does it mean to have “a passion for evangelism”? Does it refer to a preacher who preaches with passion and fervour? It may certainly include that but there are rugby, cricket and political enthusiasts who are able to speak with great passion about their particular interest. Does it mean that it is given to some people in the church to have this “passion” but not others? Is passion tied to the “gifts of evangelism” but if you have the “gift of a teacher” you don’t need this passion? Is a “passion for evangelism” some sort of attachment that certain people carry around with them but which other Christians do not need to have – a sort of optional extra that is looked upon benignly by some who put up with the idiosyncrasies of those ardent and earnest souls who are always trying to win others? Is this passion indeed something that is outside of us that is somehow taken on board, or is it part and parcel of who we are as redeemed people?
In thinking about this “passion for evangelism” I would want to ask the opposite question: How can any Christian believer not have a passion to evangelise? When one thinks of the enormity of what Jesus did on the Cross for us how can we refrain from sharing it? Why is this salvation that Christ purchased for us considered so great and the consequences of not having this salvation so terrible that Paul could say in Romans 9:1-3:
I speak the truth in Christ – I am not lying, my conscious confirms it in the Holy Spirit – I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race ...
Or again we note that passionate statement in 2 Corinthians 5:9-11:
So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due to him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
We remember the awesome darkness that came across the land as Christ suffered, reminiscent of the Old Testament prophets who used darkness as a symbol of God’s judgement (Isaiah 5:20, Joel 2:31, Amos 5:20, Zephaniah 1:14-15, etc.). Think of the significance of the terrible cry wrenched from the innermost being of Jesus as in the darkness he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” About this event John Stott writes the following:
So then an actual and dreadful separation took place between the Father and the Son; it was voluntarily accepted by both the Father and the Son; it was due to our sins and their just reward; and Jesus expressed this horror of great darkness, this God-forsakenness, by quoting the only verse of Scripture which accurately described it, and which he had perfectly fulfilled, namely, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Cross of Christ p.81).
Then comes the mighty act of resurrection followed by his ascension to the throne of Heaven. These things constitute both a rescue for sinners from an unspeakable doom and a demonstration of God’s love for us that is difficult to describe. Hence Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:1-14.
True evangelistic passion is rooted in the belief that all these things are true. It not only happened but it all has a special meaning. It means that God has done something to make it possible for us to escape the final judgement and to live with Him forever. He sent His Son to die in our place on the Cross and to bear His judgement as our substitute. It means that all who believe in Jesus are pardoned, restored and transformed now. They experience God’s love and grace now in this life and have the promise of hope for the life to come.
Passion will mean that the true content of the Gospel is taught. It will ensure that the Bible is honoured and handled properly. But it won’t be a cold and sterile process, because true evangelistic passion will not be content until people have heard, understood and made some kind of response to the truth.
How can we not be moved, amazed, motivated by this? It is indeed given to some to express passion in a way others cannot. But this does not indicate a lack of passion on the part of others. It is a foolish thing to equate a passion to evangelise with mere fervour and zeal. It certainly includes that but is much more than that. We all have our own temperaments, personalities and characteristics through which the gospel is communicated. But evangelistic passion does not mean we all yell our heads off when we preach.
It does mean, however, that the gospel is always in our minds; that we constantly want to tell it; that we believe with all our hearts that it is the power of God to save people; that we feel immense pity and compassion for those who do not know it and consequently do not know God. Some may put their passion into preaching and teaching, others into writing, music or the arts. Yet others may look for different ways of expressing their evangelism that fits them as people with God-given abilities.
The truth of the Gospel will turn us into thinkers, indeed even “schemers”, always thinking of new ways to reach lost people. It will give us courage to do things we have never done before. It will make us willing to go the extra mile to help people. It will make us conscious that everything we do must count, for we can easily put people off. Thus we become focused on other people – their physical well-being, but most importantly, their spiritual standing before God.
In summary, here are some of the ingredients of evangelistic passion:
  • A grasp of the enormity of what Christ did for us by His death and resurrection.
  • A total conviction that this Good News is for all.
  • An inner sense of alarm at the consequences of people rejecting it.
  • A love for people who are lost.
  • A commitment to sincerity, patience and care in explaining the gospel and teaching the Bible.
It is hard to think of Christians with no passion for evangelism or churches that do not instinctively evangelise. Perhaps they have not understood the enormity of the gospel. What about you?
Frank Retief is a passionate evangelist and Presiding Bishop of the Church of England in Southern Africa.


Before the beginning of time, God saw not only the cry of his heart, but the cry within every human heart. The Mighty Three, the Triune God, broke through the hosts of hell to draw water from the Well of Bethlehem. God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. Now the offer to sinful humanity is: "Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14).
The true convert holds the Cup of Salvation in his trembling hands. He has seen the cost of his redemption. He sees that he was not redeemed with silver or gold, but with the precious Blood of Christ. Like David (2 Sam 23:15), he cannot drink of that cup in a spirit of self-indulgence. Rather than drink in the pleasures and the comforts of the Christian life, his reasonable service is to present himself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable, and pour his life out as a drink offering to the Lord.
Man. Illustration copyrighted.I was killing time in a department store when an elderly man struck up a conversation with me. It wasn't long before the conversation swung around to the things of God. When I asked this man if he had a Christian background, his answer was interesting. He said, "Oh, I am a churchgoer. I believe in God the Father; and the Son, He's around too…somewhere." His reply was both humorous and tragic. This man went to church, obviously had faith in God, believed in the deity and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, yet he was not saved.
If you love God, your heart will go out to the millions who are in such a state. They are in the “valley of decision.” Valleys are often without direct light, and direct light is what sinners need. They don't understand the issues. They are so close to salvation; it is as near as their heart and mouth. Yet without repentance, they will perish. Such thoughts are grievous. If you are born of God's Spirit, you will find that something compels you to run to the lost, to reach out to the unsaved, because God gave you a new heart that delights to do His will.
Well-known author and pastor Oswald Chambers said, "So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does." Bible teacher C. F. W. Walthers said, "A believer is ready to serve everybody wherever he can. He cannot but profess the gospel before men, even though he foresees that he can reap nothing but ridicule and scorn for it; yes, he is ready also to give his life for the gospel."
One cannot help but see Peter's passion for the lost, so evidently portrayed for us in the Book of Acts. He put behind him the three denials of his Lord, and stood before a multitude on the day of Pentecost. When a crowd gathered around the lame man who had been healed, he boldly preached the gospel to them. He testified before the very ones who had murdered the Savior, and he told them so. He had a passion for his God and a passion for sinners.
What was the apostle Paul's greatest passion? This longing, this aspiration, this yearning, was simply for the salvation of the lost. His greatest passion was for evangelism, something made evident by his own words. In the introduction of his letter to the Romans, Paul said that he was in debt to the world. His evangelistic zeal was so great that he said he would give up his relationship with Jesus Christ if it would mean that his brethren would be saved. Look at these sobering words:
    I tell the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and continual grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh (Romans 9:1-3).
I have looked at a number of Bible commentaries to see what they make of these verses. They have said that Paul could not be speaking of his own salvation. The reference is rather to Paul's willingness to be cut off from Israel. It's my understanding that the apostle was already cut off from Israel because of his faith in Jesus. If it was merely a reference to being cut off from his people, why did he say that he had already suffered the loss of all things? If they were but rubbish to him, why then does he have to back that up with (what seems like) oaths to make his point?
It is as though Paul was writing to hearers who would not be able to understand such love. How could evangelistic intensity weigh so heavy on a man that he was prepared to be cut off from any association with the Lord Jesus, to see that desire fulfilled? Such a statement could not penetrate selfish minds without a thoughtful preparation. They would not believe him, so Paul testifies that in what he was about to say:
  • He is telling the truth in Christ. The very One who was truth itself was Paul's witness that what he was about to say was true.
  • His Holy Spirit-regenerated conscience bore witness that he spoke the truth. He had cultivated a conscience that was tender before God and man, and the “work of the Law” did not accuse him of lying. His words could not be dismissed as mere exaggeration, or even hyperbole.
Deep within the soul of this man of God lay a burden--a great sorrow, a continual grief. Horror of horrors--he was saved, but his brethren were not.
Perhaps you do think Paul was lying when he said that his concern for the lost meant more to him than his relationship with Jesus. Maybe he had no fear that all liars would have their part in the lake of fire. Perhaps he had no concern that in bearing false witness, he would transgress the Ninth Commandment, for which Ananias and Sapphira where swiftly struck dead in their crooked tracks. Of course, we can't be the judge as to whether or not Paul was telling the truth in Christ, that his conscience was bearing witness in the Holy Spirit, but there certainly is evidence of his evangelistic priority in his writings.
Moses said a similar thing when he asked that God would cut him out of the book of life, rather than judge Israel.
In light of these thoughts, I don't know how anyone can call himself a Christian and not have concern for the lost. Charles Spurgeon said, "Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that." He continued, "The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the brave fireman, who cares not for the scorch or the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity has set its heart. If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for."
Ambulance. Illustration copyrighted.When an emergency vehicle drives through a city, the law demands that every other vehicle must pull over and stop. Why? Because someone's life may be in jeopardy. It is to be given great priority. That's how we should be when it comes to the eternal salvation of men and women. There is an extreme emergency. Everything else must come to a standstill, or we are in danger of transgressing the Moral Law, which demands "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
Hell should be so real to us that its flames burn away apathy and motivate us to warn the lost. Do we see the unsaved as hell's future fuel? Do we understand that sinful humanity is the anvil of the justice of God? Have we ever been horrified or wept because we fear their fate? The depth of our evangelistic zeal will be in direct proportion to the love we have. If you are not concerned about your neighbor's salvation, then I am concerned for yours.The evangelistic zeal described on the previous pages should characterize a normal, biblical Christian. However, according to the Dallas Morning News (June 11, 1994), sixty-eight percent of professing Christians out-side of the “Bible Belt” don't see evangelism as being the number-one priority of the Church. Also in 1994, the Barna Research Group found that among American adults who said that they were “born again,” seventy-five percent couldn't even define the Great Commission. A survey by Christianity Today (a major evangelistic magazine) found that only one percent of their readership said they had witnessed to someone “recently.” That means ninety-nine percent of their readership were just “lukewarm” when it came to concern for the fate of the ungodly. According to Zondervan Church Source, ninety-seven percent of the Church has no involvement in any sort of evangelism. Only once in Scripture did Jesus give three parables in a row (Luke chapter 15). He did so to illustrate God's profound concern for the lost soul.
How is it that so many who are within the Church can profess to love God, yet neglect or even despise evangelism? The answer is frightening.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Do You Pray for the Lost? By John MacArthur

Prayer for the LostBefore Jesus gave up His spirit as He hung on the cross, He took time to pray for those who were murdering Him. He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).
God began to answer His prayer on the Day of Pentecost as some three thousand people repented and were baptized that day, and there have been countless multitudes that have been saved through the centuries. In response to Jesus’ intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12), God has snatched many souls from eternal death.
Do you have a heart to pray for the lost like Jesus did? Do you have the passion that inspired John Knox to plead, “Give me Scotland or I die”? Is your attitude that of George Whitefield, who prayed, “O Lord, give me souls or take my soul”? Do you, like Henry Martyn, mourn when you see others trapped in false religion and cry out, “I cannot endure existence if Jesus is to be so dishonored”?
God used those faithful men as powerful tools to bring salvation to dying people. Each of them had a clear and vivid understanding of what is at stake in the gospel — it’s an issue of life or death, an eternity in heaven or hell. Do you realize that your unbelieving family members, your co-workers, and your neighbors will spend forever suffering in torment away from the presence of God if they don’t embrace Christ? That realization should drive you to your knees to plead, not only with them to believe the gospel, but with God to save their souls.
The seventeenth-century English Puritan Richard Baxter wrote,
Oh, if you have the hearts of Christians or of men in you, let them yearn towards your poor ignorant, ungodly neighbors. Alas, there is but a step betwixt them and death and hell; many hundred diseases are waiting ready to seize on them, and if they die unregenerate, they are lost forever. Have you hearts of rock, that cannot pity men in such a case as this? If you believe not the Word of God, and the danger of sinners, why are you Christians yourselves? If you do believe it, why do you not bestir yourself to the helping of others? (cited in I.D.E. Thomas, ed., A Puritan Golden Treasury [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1977], 92)
It is one thing to pray for family and friends, those for whom you have natural affections. But God wants you to pray for all people. Paul writes, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority” (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Kings and people in authority in Paul’s day weren’t bound by civil rights and were often unjust, self-serving, and cruel. Do you pray for the salvation of people like that — those who disagree with you politically, those who advocate ungodly agendas, those who openly embrace sin and reject the Scripture?
The Bible has several examples of radical evangelistic prayer, and for the worst of sinners. Here are a few examples:
Moses interceded for Israel after catching them in orgiastic idolatry at the foot of Mount Sinai. After he confronted and dealt with their sin, he turned to the Lord and prayed, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin — and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” Moses was willing to forfeit his life for his people, even though they were guilty of wicked rebellion!
While being stoned to death, Stephen followed the Lord’s example by praying for the salvation of his executioners: “And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ And having said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60).
Standing among those who killed Stephen was a young man named Saul of Tarsus. His salvation was an answer to Stephen’s prayer. Years later, the apostle Paul communicated the depth of his concern for his people Israel, and in Romans 9 he sounds very much like Moses:
I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, […]Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation. (Romans 9:1-3;10:1)
His brethren according to the flesh, fellow Jews, were the very ones who persecuted him so severely, disrupting his work, stirring up mobs, even plotting his assassination. And yet he loved them and prayed that God would show them mercy.
God honored those men’s prayers for the souls of the lost; He’ll honor yours too. Whether friend or foe; whether moral or immoral; whether you know them or not — pray for the lost. For those God brings your way, open your mouth in love and compassion to tell them the truth. Warn them of God’s judgment for their personal offenses against his holiness, but then tell them the good news. There is salvation in Jesus Christ from God’s eternal wrath, if they will only repent and believe. Once you’ve told them the truth, keep praying for them and trust God for the results. You will rejoice as you see God use you as He saves people from their sins and grants them new life in His Son.

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Christian origins of football, George Best, and how I became a Football fanatic!

Kaka from Brazil and perhaps the best player in the world letting the world know he is not ashamed of being a Christian.

I remember the night I became a football fanatic and a worshiper of the Belfast born footballer George Best, who in his day, was probably the greatest footballer in the world. It was at the end of a perfect day: my Dad and I had just come home from a day’s fishing for trout and we were sitting down to watch ‘Match of the Day’. The year was 1967 and I was eight years old. Manchester United were playing and from the moment my dad pointed out to me the long black haired Man U player wearing the number 7 shirt, and said :'there’s George Best’, my life was to suddenly change.

For the next seven years I was to eat, drink and sleep football. As soon as school finished I would be out practicing with a football or playing football with my friends. At night when I was sleeping I would be dreaming of scoring goals for Manchester United and Northern Ireland, alongside Mr Best! Of course we would score the same amount of goals-at least four apiece! However my first memory of watching a football match goes back to 1966 –the last and only time England won the World Cup. But 1968 stands out clearly in my mind when Manchester United won the European Cup 4-1 against the great Eusebius’ Benfica. Even now I can still rhyme off the whole team! That same year the Belfast part-timers Glentoran, were to only go out of the competition on the ‘away goals rule’ against the mighty Benfica, having drawn 0-0 in Lisbon and 1-1 in Belfast.

I was later to become the captain of the school teams I played for and was fortunate to play for other teams that won several Cups and Leagues. My dad was my greatest supporter and every Saturday used to drive me and many of the other players to our matches! Most of the kids who played alongside me were like myself, and also dreamt of the great glory that would come about when we would play for a top English team and Northern Ireland. One of the best players I did play with was a chap called Noel Brotherson who went on to play for Blackburn Rovers and Northern Ireland. He also managed to score a goal that resulted in Northern Ireland winning the Home International Championship which included the English, Scottish and Welsh national teams! Sadly Noel was to later die as a relatively young man.

During the period when I was beginning to think about spiritual things (I had become a Christian in 1974) I remember the night I became totally disillusioned with ‘the beautiful game’. It was the 1976 European Cup Final between Bayern Munich and the French team Saint Etienne, and though the French were the better team, having pressed their German opponents the whole match, Munich scored the one and only goal on a break away. My conclusion after the match was that if this was the best Football in Europe I was going to give up watching it-and I did! It had been a god in my life for a good seven years but from that time it was dead to me.

However in the last ten years I have started to enjoy watching it again –but now I will never get upset if a team I like fails to win-unlike before! I actually enjoy watching most teams and if it is a good match even enjoy seeing my team being beaten! In moderation I think football can be enjoyed and talking about it is often a good ‘ice breaker’ when getting to know young people in a Youth group setting which I am often involved with. I was therefore pleasantly surprised to discover its Christian origins and how it was often used in its early days to get young people off the street, to stop them fighting or to discourage them from getting drunk at weekends. Sadly it is perhaps ironic that it was alcohol that was to take the life of George Best, who through years of heavy drinking had become a chronic alcoholic. When my son took on a part time job with a local security company, his first assignment with them was to work as a steward at the massive funeral that took place for George in his home city of Belfast.However I also have it on good authority that before he died he had made peace with God!

Youtube tribute to George Best: the greatest player in the world of his generation.

The article below by Stephen Sizer on the Christian origins of football borrows much information used by Dave Roberts in his longer article in found in Christianity Magazine.AK

For some, football is their life, indeed it is their god. Their football pitch is hallowed ground. Apart from the bathroom, it is the only other place on earth where they will sing at the tops of their voices.

Many think that Church and football are in competition. Comparisons are common, although Sunday church attendance in Britain still far exceeds Saturday football attendance, its just you would not know it given the pages devoted to football in the Sunday newspapers.

Dave Roberts has written a brilliant article in Christianity about the origins of football in the UK, showing the profound impact local churches had in the formation of many of the leading clubs of today.

The association between Church and football is actually much closer than most people realise. As organized football grew throughout the 1860s and 1870s, it was actually church based teams which took the initiative to form the Football League in 1886. Tired of friendlies against inferior local opposition and the occasional thrill of the cup, William McGregor of the Aston Villa (Wesleyan) Football Club decided to see if there was interest in a league structure. Ten of the other teams joining Villa during that first decade of the league were church affiliated, with Methodists and Anglicans at the fore.

One of the founders, HS Yoxall, found large numbers of young men playing football on Sundays. He persuaded them to come to Bible class and provided a field for them to play on, on Saturdays. The same mission started cycling, rambling and angling clubs, and offered classes in arithmetic, writing, shorthand and music. They had a gymnasium, games room, lounge, library and refreshment bar. As this distinctive mission work went on, the Aston Villa (Wesleyan) Football Club grew from humble beginnings in 1874 to winning the FA Cup in 1887. McGregor had worked hard to curb the drinking of team members, and called a team meeting every Monday in a local coffee shop to help the players discover other social outlets.

John Henry Carwell, the vicar of St Andrews in Fulham, turned to the then 15 year old Tom Norman to recruit players for what became Fulham FC. He felt people needed to belong before they could believe. The church fed 160 poor local children daily with free hot dinners, while at the same time opened a gym to encourage fitness and sport. Southampton FC, similarly was founded by the curate of St Mary’s Church in the town.

Two other notable clubs founded by parish churches were Barnsley and Manchester City. Vicar’s daughter, Anna Connell started a men’s club at St Mark’s, West Gorton with around a hundred local young men to dissuade them from organised fighting. A football club was formed to help ‘deepen the bonds’ between them. The first match in 1880 of the team that would become Manchester City was against Macclesfield Baptist.

Queens Park estate in West London was another community in which the church initiated a football team. Christ Church Rangers eventually became Queens Park Rangers. Tottenham Hotspur similarly grew out of a young men’s Bible class at All Hallows, Tottenham. And teetotal Everton players associated with St Domingo Methodist Chapel actually provoked the formation of Liverpool FC when a small number of members formed the new club on Everton’s old ground at Anfield following a dispute over alcohol.

So maybe the Christian origins of the Street Child World Cup that has preceded the World Cup in South Africa should come as no surprise after all.
Stephen Sizer

With grateful thanks to Dave Roberts for his article, Aston Villa and the Mission of God in Christianity (June) 2010.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

"In the world ye shall have tribulation." John 16:33 Spurgeon

Are you asking the reason of this, believer? Look upward to thy heavenly Father, and behold him pure and holy. Do you know that you are one day to be like him? Will you easily be conformed to his image? Will you not require much refining in the furnace of affliction to purify you? Will it be an easy thing to get rid of your corruptions, and make you perfect even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect?

 Next, Christian, turn your eye downward. Do you know what foes you have beneath your feet? you were once a servant of Satan, and no king will willingly lose his subjects. Do you think that Satan will let you alone? No, he will be always at you, for he "goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour." Expect trouble, therefore, Christian, when you look beneath. 

Then look around you. Where are you? You are in an enemy's country, a stranger and a sojourner. The world is not your friend. If it be, then you are not God's friend, for he who is the friend of the world is the enemy of God. Be assured that you shall find enemies everywhere. When you sleep, think that you are resting on the battlefield; when you walk, suspect an ambush in every hedge. As mosquitoes are said to bite strangers more than natives, so will the trials of earth be sharpest to you.

Lastly, look within yourself, into your own heart and observe what is there. Sin and self are still within. Ah! if you had no devil to tempt you, no enemies to fight you, and no world to ensnare thee, you would still find in yourself evil enough to be a sore trouble to you, for "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked."

 Expect trouble then, but despair not on account of it, for God is with thee to help and to strengthen you. He has said, "I will be with you in trouble; I will deliver you and honour you."

Monday, 17 March 2014

St. Patrick

Slemish where Patrick as a slave had to tend the sheep of his master.
The patron saint of Ireland is St. Patrick (373-465 AD), and long before man gave him the title of saint, God had already made him one. "Unto the Church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be Saints" (1Corinthians 1:2). Though the Church of Rome claims St. Patrick as its own, he is more appropriately owned by the "General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, which are written in Heaven" (Hebrews 12:23), where "Christ is the Head of the Church: and He is the Saviour of the Body" (Ephesians 5:23).

“Patrick was descended of a family which, for two generations at least, had publicly professed the Gospel. His father, Calpurnius, was a deacon, and his grandfather, Potitus, a presbyter in the Christian Church. He was well born, as the phrase is, seeing his father held the rank of 'decurio,' that is, was a member of the council of magistracy in a Roman provincial town. These facts we have under Patrick's own hand. In his autobiography... written but a little while before his death, and known as 'Patrick's Confession,' he says, 'I, Patrick, a sinner, had for my father, Calpurnius, a deacon, and for my grandfather, Potitus, a presbyter.' We should like to know what sort of woman his mother was, seeing mothers not infrequently live over again in their sons. Patrick nowhere mentions his mother, save under the general term of 'parents.' But judging from the robust and unselfish qualities of the son, we are inclined to infer that tradition speaks truth when it describes 'Conchessa,' the mother of the future apostle, as a woman of talent, who began early to instruct her son in divine things, and to instill into his heart the fear of that God whom his father and grandfather had served” --from St. Patrick: Apostle of Ireland ---New Window, A Ten Chapter Excerpt (Chapters 9-18) from "History of the Scottish Nation" by James A. Wylie ---New Window.

Historians believe that St. Patrick's missionary career in Ireland took place in the 5th Century, though they are uncertain of the date of his birth. "But the very hairs of your head are all numbered [by God]" (Matthew 10:30). Born in Britain (373 AD), Patrick was kidnapped into slavery at the age of sixteen to serve as a herdsman in Ireland for six years, where he turned in faith to the LORD Jesus Christ. "When He [God] slew them, then they sought Him: and they returned and enquired early after God" (Psalm 78:34). During the second half of the 4th Century, when Roman power was in decline in Italy and Britain, Irish raiding expeditions were common along the west coast of Britain, and unconverted Patrick was seized by such raiders. "I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early" (Hosea 5:15). In a dream, he heard that the ship in which he was to make his escape was ready, so he fled his master and found his way back to Britain. "I being in the way, the LORD led me" (Genesis 24:27).

A passage from Patrick's spiritual biography, "Confessio" [Latin, Confession], tells of a dream that came to Patrick after he had escaped from Ireland and returned to Britain. One Victoricus appeared to Patrick, delivering him a letter entitled, "The Voice of the Hibernians". Hibernia is the Latin name for the island of Ireland. As Patrick read the letter, he seemed to hear a company of Irish beseeching him to return to Ireland. "9 And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10 And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the LORD had called us for to preach the Gospel unto them" (Acts 16:9-10). Though Patrick doubted his fitness and educational preparation for such a task, he entered his missionary task to the Irish people (405 AD) with the zeal of an Apostle Paul. "19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more... 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some" (1Corinthians 9:19, 22). He met with great success in Ulster and Tara, though he faced the continual threat of martyrdom. Remember, he preached the Gospel where pagan idols were worshipped and Druid human sacrifice was still practiced. "For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the Living and True God" (1Thessalonians 1:9). His success with the Irish was matched by his trouble with his ecclesiastical superiors in Britain; but through it all, he humbly promoted the "Gospel of the Grace of God" (Acts 20:24).

by Tom Stewart

Friday, 14 March 2014

Persuasion Evangelism

Presence and proclamation evangelism are often regarded as valid no matter what the response from it.

Nevertheless a negative response may result from:

A poor communication of the message

The unbelief of those who listen

Disobedience to the message

The demands of the message too high.

Some Christians, especially those of a post-modern disposition believe there isn’t a place for a third approach to evangelism namely that of 'persuasion' in witnessing or evangelism. They believe that instead, our example will draw them to Christ that is all we need to do.. But as in Fly Fishing, it sometimes requires a particular fly to catch a certain fish and we need to have several flies in our fishing box. Having only will not catch every type of fish! It is however true that persuasion alone or aggressive evangelism that encourages antagonism from those the evangelist tries to reach is counterproductive. Some Christians may have also been put off by aggressive or pushy evangelists who force themselves onto unsuspecting unbelievers. This is understandable: we don't want to be pushy when people don't want to know the message. But if those we seek to reach are prepared to debate or discuss and many do, there is certainly a biblical basis for it.

I would not recommend it for young Christians to have regular Biblical discussions with members of the sects such as the Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses, but if our Biblical knowledge is strong and we have a good working knowledge of their teaching AND have a strong sense we are being led by the Holy Spirit a Christian should have no fear in examining the scriptures with them in order to persuade them of the Truth.

As we will see from the following biblical accounts, in the right situation, persuasion, reasoning and even using good arguments can be used in evangelism.

Acts 9:22
Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ
29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him

Acts 17:2-4 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women.

17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there.

Acts 18:4
Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Acts 19:9
But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussions daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.

Acts 26:28
Then Agrippa said to Paul, "Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?"

Acts 28:23-24
They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets. Some were convinced by what he said, but others would not believe.

You could make a list of the words and phrases that refer to forms of persuasion.
Persuasion evangelism tries to get the person to respond to the message by way of proving , debating, reasoning, explaining, discussing or convincing the hearer that the message is true and must be acted on.

This type of evangelism as practised today has been criticised because of the dangers of manipulation and pressure tactics to achieve results. One has only to think how we dislike the ‘hard sell’ salesman who tries to sell us something we don’t want to buy or would want more time to consider the purchase, but are not allowed. Compare this with Jesus letting some disciples leave when they could not receive the word or the advice he gave his would be followers to consider the cost before they would follow him.

Results of pressurised results are often seeds sown without much depth of roots and will often vanish with the morning dew. I have been to see certain Ultra-Charismatic preachers who have almost persuaded me of their message by the end of the meeting, but after a good nights sleep and a calm reflection on the subject I have dismissed their claims. Nevertheless Jesus and Paul often would bring the hearer to a point of decision.

Look at 2.Cor.4.2-6
'Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.

And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing.

The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God'

Paul has renounced underhanded methods

Does not deceive or distort the truth of God’s word.

Lets people make their own minds up.

Recognises the spiritual barriers and leaves the result to God.

Persuasion evangelism might be presented through

1)a Testimony which would describe the change in a person’s lifee.g a converted drug addict who has been given power by God to overcome his addiction. Remember the man who had a legion of demons ? He wanted to follow Christ but was told to tell everyone what God had done for him.

2) Apologetics :reasoned presentation of the gospel attempting to remove some of the barriers to faith e.g. C.S.Lewis etc.

3) Warning :Pointing out the dangers of not becoming a Christian and urging them to respond. Have you ever read or sung this verse in church?

Sinners, turn: why will you die?
God, your Saviour, asks you why.
God, Who did your souls retrieve,
Died Himself, that you might live.
Will you let Him die in vain?
Crucify your Lord again?
Why, you ransomed sinners, why,
Will you slight His grace and die?
Charles Wesley

Evangelism need neither be just Presence evangelism or Proclamation Evangelism or Persuasion Evangelism: each one should build upon the other.

In Presence evangelism those the Church seeks to reach are unaware and ignorant of the gospel and our job is therefore to show them love ( See post on Presence Evangelism) in order to prepare them for the proclamation of the gospel. Having thus prepared them and being now aware of the gospel, in the proclamation of it we explain then what is at stake. It is at this point that we are obliged to persuade them to heed the word in order to make a life changing decision, to turn from their old way of life and follow Christ.

It is also true that we must be sensitive to both those we seek to reach and the Holy Spirit within us.Presence must of course must never be as calculated as described above. People sometimes can come to Christ without 'presence' at all. Nevertheless the Church should not expect results from what I would call 'cheap' evangelism, that is evangelism with just words.

Evangelism is also the most wonderful adventure that any Christian can be involved in. We must be open to the Holy Spirit each day,listening for his voice and direction. The result will beat any excitment on any drama found on T.V.

Proclamation Evangelism

This is the most common form of evangelism and a response to the Great Commission 'Here the focus is declaring, announcing and explaining the gospel in a way people can UNDERSTAND’.

The focus is on the verbal communication of the gospel- God is God who speaks- revealed in Jesus the WORD of God.

The good news declared interprets the 'presence' lived. Some view this mode as the only way for evangelism to be done. This is principally a contribution of the reformed tradition based strongly on Scripture.

Jesus had first of all declared "The time has come, The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
In the Lukan form of the Great Commission Jesus sent his disciples out to preach repentance and forgiveness to all nations (Luke 24.47)
It is clear that Christian Presence is not enough as Paul strongly stated to the Roman Church. (See Rom. 10:14,17) And what is that message. Again we can look at the definition of Lausanne that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gift of the Spirit to all who repent and believe.

There are at least three distinguishing marks of effective proclamation
1. Credibility
2. Authenticity
3. Sensitivity

I remember hearing of a certain Christian lived in a small Cul-de- sac who never really had any social intercourse with his neighbours. But being 'a good Bible believing Christian' he brought in an evangelist to preach the gospel for him. He did this by setting up outdoor P.A. equipment in his garden and then letting the preacher loose to preach a ‘Hell fire ‘ sermon. When he had finished preaching he packed up his P.A. equipment and left. The Christian who brought in the evangelist felt that his work had been done as he still never felt constrained to build up any sort of relationship with his neighbours.

It would seem that this sort of proclamation evangelism was neither credible, authentic or sensitive. It more than likely think that he was from some other planet, he did not genuinely care for them as he had never spoken to them before and the way he did it was most insensitive.

In proclaiming the gospel there is also a fine balance between faithfully preaching the unchanging message of the New Testament and interpreting it afresh in the different contexts that it finds itself.

Monday, 10 March 2014


In the next lot of posts I will discuss different modes of Evangelism or the different ways that evangelism is thought to be done.By examining these different modes of evangelism we will begin to build up a picture of what evangelism means today. The first mode I would like us to look at is Evangelism as 'Christian Presence'.

Whether we agree or not that Christian presence can rightfully be termed evangelism, Christians are present in the world and this will have a direct bearing on how they are perceived by non Christians.

Is the Church of Christ 'Good News' or 'Bad News'to those outside it?

1. Light of the world and salt of the earth.( Matt 5 .13-14)

'You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men.

You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven'.
Jesus declared that his followers would be both the salt of the earth and light to the world. Here Jesus plainly states that we should be an influence on the world.

What activities might constitute this mode of evangelism?

Attractive lifestyle: Testimony of a changed life,or a holy life. Through two thousand years of the Church history this has been a great witness to the world. Selfish have changed to become unselfish, nasty people have become kind and gentle, thieves now work and give of what they earn to the poor. Think of the likes of Nicky Cruz the one time gang leader or former paramilitaries from the I.R.A. or U.D.A. who have radically been changed by the power of the gospel.

Not only are changed lives impressive but also Christlike lives.

Paul often fills the beginning of his letters with great doctrinal themes as found in Romans and Ephesians then gives them examples of how these lessons can be put into practice in daily living.

Consider the passage below and think whether the world would not be impressed by such a radical lifestyle.
Romans 12:9-21

9 'Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honour one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervour, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head. "21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good'.
Look at the first verse ‘Love must be sincere’. Can love be insincere? Not real love: but something that which appears to be love can be, and many people have experienced insincere love. When someone see the genuine article they will be impressed and it could well convict them of their own insincerity and draw them to Christ.
The woman at the well knew love of a kind but the men she knew did not love her for herself but for her body. When she met the Lord she knew he was different. He loved her for herself.
The Great Commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves must be equally obeyed as the Great Commission. Jesus warns us through the parable of the good Samaritan that we can be as pious and religious as we like but if we don’t stop and help the person who is in trouble and in danger, we are disobeying the Great Commandment. Can we dare to be different and love our enemy and do good to them, by at least praying for them: even though they are out to upset us or give us trouble.
If Stephen had not prayed forgiveness for those who stoned him, the spiritual channel might not have been opened for the Pharisee Saul to become the great Apostle Paul.
If Jesus had not prayed for forgiveness for those who crucified him none of us might have been saved. Do not be surprised if you pray for the salvation of a person you are tempted to hate ,that they will soften to the gospel and come to Christ.

Another aspect of 'Christian Presence' that might be regarded as 'salt and light' in society are that of Loving relationships. In fact 'the mark of the Christian' should be love according to the Bible and the little book by Francis Schaeffer that bears that name.
In response to Jesus’ command to love one another Schaeffer writes: ‘ the point is that it is possible to be a Christian without showing the mark, (Love) but if we expect non-Christians to know we are Christians, we must show the mark. This means we must interact with unbelievers and not live in a holy huddle'.
Paul also exhorts husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. What a great example, especially today in a fragmented society to see marriages together after many years. It is sad to see however that there are often as many divorces among Christians as among non -Christians. I like to view the family as a mini Church. I also believe that it should have priority over the local church as regards time and energy. I don’t believe it is wise to sit on several Church committees when our marriage and family are falling apart. We should spend time with our family and should and really pray hard each day for our spouses and children as Paul prayed for his spiritual children:

‘I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,’

It would not be the first time that a good Christian has got too involved in church activity or evangelistic activity at the expense of his wife and family. If we have children we are under an obligation to give them the time to allow us be the best father or mother we can be. If we are not prepared to do that and are still single perhaps like Paul we should stay that way. If we have children, it might also be appropriate to forgo a time consuming ministry especially if we hold down a full time job until the children are of an age when they can look after themselves. The example of a good family speaks volumes and ensures our children will not become bitter against God and the church for taking their parents away from them.

In His Kingdom Manifesto of Luke 4 Jesus declared:

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me,

because he has anointed me

to preach good news to the poor.

He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners

and recovery of sight for the blind,

to release the oppressed,

to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour"

Those such as Tony Campolo and those involved in Sojourners ministry with Jim Wallis are very much focussed in this area fighting for the rights of the poor and oppressed. website address http://www.sojo.net/

Another area that the church can be salt and light is in

Prophetic involvement: This includes identifying with the weak, oppressed and the poor in society and being concerned for justice and truth in society .One could also include the ministry of William Wilberforce among others who fought against the slave trade or Martin Luther King who fought for civil rights in the U.S.

Another area which the church is involved is fighting for the unborn child who are Approximately 1,370,000 in the U.S. and about 200,000 abortions occur annually in the U.K.
Sacrificial service : Christians who are involved in social ministry such as caring for the needy often do it at great cost to themselves. e. g Mother Theresa etc. This often makes a great impression on non-Christians. ‘Actions often speak louder than words’ or James as warns us:

'If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.' (James 1.26-27)

The church also gains great credibility in the ministry it does among the poor and needy. Christian Aid and Tear fund among many others are great examples of the Church continuing to do the works of Christ. The Church does not do it to gain credibility, it does it because of what Christ did and it is that Spirit of Christ that gives Christians to love their neighbour.

William Still calls ‘Christian Presence’ ‘basic’ or ‘primary evangelism‘. It is ‘ living the life’ and allowing others to see the life of Christ in us by letting our light shine.

-‘The way to evangelise and build a nation is by Christian character, by the Word , Spirit and prayer, not evangelistic missions. The true witness is not primarily with banners in open airs and vast meetings in overcrowded halls but where you live and work and normally worship.’

There are however some criticisms of this mode -
Is it Evangelism or social action? Can it not be both?
Is there a danger that silence will predominate.
Are we letting the world set the agenda?

Saint Francis once said :

‘Preach the gospel at all times , and , if necessary , use words’

I think what Francis was trying to say here is that actions will speak louder than words and when the words become necessary to explain our actions they will point them to Christ.

In 1 Peter. Peter is speaking to the church while they were undergoing severe persecution. He does not tell them to get out there and go from door to door (but don't think that I'am against it)but he does say :

"In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander".

In other words live for God and by his word, and as we do that, people will ask why we did react or not react in a certain way when a certain things happened or why we were friendly to the friendless. Then we can tell them in a gentle way the reason for the hope that is in us and invite them to do the same or meet your other Christian friends at church or in your house.

Do you know this poem ?

Not only by the words you say,

Not only by our deeds you do, but in the most unconscious way

Is Christ Expressed

Is it a calm seraphic smile,

a holy frown upon your brow?

Oh No, I felt his presence when you laughed just now.

For me, `it was not the truth you taught

To you so clear, to me so dim

But when you came to me

You brought a sense of Him

And from your eyes He beckoned me

And from your heart, His love was shed

Till its no longer you I see , but Christ instead.

Some questions to consider:

Is Presence Evangelism not really PRE EVANGELISM as opposed to Evangelism?

The Lausanne Covenant which we looked in the last post states:

Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand.

c) But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Savior and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God.

Here John Stott notes its importance regarding evangelism but denies it is evangelism per se.

The Strengths of this mode include:

1.Real involvement in society rather than hit and run evangelism: to and fro from our holy huddle.

2.Prepared to listen and understand the context before speaking. The church is prepared to listen to and feel the pain.

3.Having an understanding that society more often wants to see action ( good works will bring glory to God) before they will listen to words.

Andrew Kirk writes:‘what we call social involvement ,they ( the NT Christians ) saw as one strand of evangelism. Without it the gospel could not be fully communicated.’

What are your views of 'Presence evangelism'. Is it not evangelism at all or is it the foundation stone and root from which evangelism must be built upon and grow from?


O.T.C. level 2 Evangelism Course

What is Evangelism?

This post is the first of a series I want to do on the subject of Evangelism, and among other things I want to examine the questions:
What is evangelism?
Why should we evangelise in the first place?
How is God involved in this work?
What does the New Testament tell us about these things?
Why do we as conscientious Christians feel guilty when we don’t evangelise?

For those Christians who hate the very idea of evangelism I must remind them that at one time or another someone shared the gospel with them,in other words, evangelised them.

Evangelism: What is it and would we want to do it?
Positive impressions of evangelism and evangelists :
 John Wesley preaching to thousands of coal miners and seeing them respond in faith to the gospel.
 David Wilkinson working among the street gangs in New York made famous in the book ‘The cross and the switchblade.’

Nicky Cruz the famous convert of David Wilkinson

 The quiet witness shown through the love and patience of a Sunday School teacher, B.B. Officer, mother, father, aunt or uncle that God used to draw you to Christ.
Negative impressions of Evangelism
 The button holer, the pushy evangelist who is arrogant and rude and says to all he meets ‘Are you saved?’, and will not believe you if you say you are already a Christian.
Roger Carswell writes: ‘ The popular caricature of the evangelist is of someone sweeping into town in a blaze of glory:; extravagant dress, luxurious lifestyle, exaggerated claims and charismatic personality. Brash, belligerent, beguiling and boastful are the characteristics of the evangelist picked up and promoted by the media in films like Elmer Gantry and Leap of faith.’

Certainly, if we have been touched by the love of God and experienced his forgiveness we will want to share it with others. But we often find it difficult: even Paul spoke of the conflicts he had in trying to evangelise.

But read what Matthew Parris,a former M.P. and one of the 'grumpy old men' in the programme with that name, wrote in the Times:

The New Testament offers a picture of a God who doesn't sound at all vague to me. He has sent his Son to earth. He has distinct plans both for his Son and for mankind. He knows each of us personally and can communicate directly with us. We are capable of forming a direct relationship, individually, with him, and are commanded to do so. We are told this can be done only through his Son. And we are offered the prospect of eternal life - an afterlife in happy, blissful, …glorious circumstances… Friends, if I believe that, or even a tenth of that, how could I care which version of the Prayer Book was being used? I would drop my job, sell my house, throw away my possessions, leave my acquaintances and set out into the world with a burning desire to know more and when I had found out more, to act upon it and to tell others.

Do these words not challenge even the most fervent of evangelists?

In his book Evangelism through the local Church Michael Green lists three definitions which I would like to look at. By examining these different definitions we can view evangelism from different perspectives as one would hold up a diamond to be examined from different angles.

The first one is Evangelism as OVERFLOW
He writes
‘overflow gives the right nuance,of someone who is so full of joy about Jesus
Christ,that it overflows as surely as a bath that is filled to overflowing with water. It is a natural thing. It is a very obvious thing.’
One has only to think of some new born Christian who is full of excitement and joy. He wants to tell the world. He is often unashamed of what he says or does.

A few years ago I organized a school reunion for my fifth year class mates who were with me in 1975. That makes me middle aged! One of the former pupils I contacted had been a Christian when I had been at school. He recalls, as I had forgotten, how I used to talk to him each day as we walked home from school together. Despite my amateurish efforts he still become a Christian then. However he later got involved in a very strict authoritarian fellowship and was burnt off and ended up far away from God.
When we met at the reunion Thirty years later his many years in the military service had taken its toll, he had become physically very unwell and also suffered from post traumatic stress.
To cut a long story short. After an initial rejection of my invitation to find comfort and help in certain Scriptures (his email which I still have reads:
‘I don’t want to go down that road’)he later became positively warm towards the things of God when we went out for coffee a month later. Within weeks he was sharing his new found faith and even asked his boss, who was having business problems had he tried about praying it. He told me he couldn't help it: it just came out. It had become so natural for him to tell all and sundry about his faith in God and he believed everybody could have the same relationship.

He even sometimes would get distressed about his wife and tell her that she was not right with God,even though she had been the one who had gone to church before I had met up with him again. I obviously had to encourage him to be patient with her and let her see from his life how he had changed. Nevertheless, all this came from the overflow that was in his heart. Later his wife came to have a strong faith and they both now led a fellowship group in County Down.

It is often true that some new Christians make the best evangelists. They more readily know what they have been saved from and want to tell others. Remember the demoniac in Mark 5 who had been delivered of a legion of demons? He begged Jesus to let him go with him .
Do you remember what Jesus said to him ?
"Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."
So the man went away and began to tell everyone in the towns where he lived how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.’
That is evangelism as OVERFLOW.
What an amazing encouragement to tell our story of how much God has done for us. But what if you don't feel that you are full to overflowing? Don't worry, the Master evangelist himself has promised us this: 'If any man thirsts, let him come on to me and drink and out of his belly will flow rivers of living water'. You can come now.

The second definition that Michael Green quotes is by the missionary D.T Niles :

‘Evangelism is one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread’

This is a very well known definition of evangelism and there is certainly a sense in which it is true : We are like beggars being wholly dependant on God and we are to tell similar beggars who are without food where they can find spiritual food.

Nevertheless, those who have found the bread of life lose their beggar status and will have become ‘children of God’. We therefore don’t go out as beggars, we go out as children of the King, but who still are nevertheless dependant on our heavenly Father.

Having known this definition for many years I often wondered where he got it from and if it had any biblical story. If there is one I think it must be from 2 Kings 7.
In this story Jerusalem had been under siege and the people were about to die of starvation. Meanwhile

3 ..there were four men with leprosy [at the entrance of the city gate. They said to each other, "Why stay here until we die? 4 If we say, 'We'll go into the city'-the famine is there, and we will die. And if we stay here, we will die. So let's go over to the camp of the Arameans and surrender. If they spare us, we live; if they kill us, then we die."

Anyway they went over to the Camp and discovered that God had done something to frighten the attackers away leaving food and precious possessions behind.

It says 'They ate and drank, and carried away silver, gold and clothes, and went off and hid them. They returned and entered another tent and took some things from it and hid them also.

9 Then they said to each other, "We're not doing right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let's go at once and report this to the royal palace."

We are like these beggars, only in our case we are spiritual beggars and have found spiritual food. Then,like the lepers we then decide not to keep this 'good news' to ourselves but to share it with our starving neighbours.

Whether D.T. Niles the famous missionary had this in mind when he stated that evangelism was ‘one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread’ I can’t be sure. But it certainly is the closest biblical reference I’’ve found.

The question is :Do we consider those whom we meet each day as mere beggars without Christ? As regards evangelism, they often don't realise their great spiritual need. We need therefore to pray that God will reveal their need to them.Then as we set apart Christ as Lord of our hearts, be prepared to give an answer to those who ask us the reason for the hope that we have, and as Peter encourages us:to do this with gentleness and respect.

I will look at a more comprehensive definition of evangelism.

William Temple the late Archbishop of Canterbury wrote:

'To evangelise is so to present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men shall come to put their trust in God through him, to accept him as their Saviour, and serve him as their king in the fellowship of his Church’

This statement is good in that it differentiates evangelism from 'mission'. Mission may be defined as ‘everything God sends the church into the world to do.’ Mission will of course include evangelism but it will also include social action, social justice, fighting for the rights of the poor, the weak and the voiceless.

Some would also include caring for God‘s world as part of Mission and that the Church should be 'Green' and involved with environmental issues. This has been championed by Tony Campolo and now even George Verwer of O.M.

But here Temple defines Evangelism as presenting Jesus Christ and the Good news which is in Him (through his life death and exaltation)so that people can put their full trust in God through Him as their saviour.

In a similar vein John Wesley defined saving faith as:
'not only(mental) assent to the whole gospel of Christ, but also a full reliance on the blood of Christ; a trust in the merits of his life, death, and resurrection; a full dependence upon him as our atonement and our life, as given for us, and living in us; and as a consequence, a closing with him, and cleaving to him, as our "wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption," or, in one word, our salvation'.

John Wesley

Temple’s definition also shows that Jesus is not to be seen in isolation from the Father. As it states ‘we put our trust in God through Christ.’
It is clear that the God of the New Testament is thoroughly trinitarian.
’For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.’ The Son did not come of his initiative but went in willing obedience to the Father.
Likewise Temple adds the work of the third person of the Trinity, emphasising that it is by the power of the Holy Spirit that enables men and women to come to Christ. The human evangelist can not do it alone. Even though they may be used by God’s Spirit. As Jesus tells us in the gospel of John
'When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment'. John 16:8

Neither can we bring regeneration or spiritual enlightenment to the man or woman who is spiritually blind. Again it is only by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Of course we can persuade, encourage and challenge people :but it only by the Spirit of God that can save men and women. Jesus told the disciples ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you will be my witnesses.’ If we are filled with the Holy Spirit surely the Spirit will also stir us to tell others about Christ. Spurgeon was right when he wrote:‘God has only one worker’ and that is the Holy Spirit.We must always rely on His power and leading.

This definition also points out that those who hear are brought to the point where at last they must make a decision. Will they bow down and serve the King or not. The process before they make a decision may have been short or a long one. This does not matter; what matters is that they are brought to the point where they will decide.
It shows that the goal of evangelism is not that they sign the Church membership roll or that they go twice on a Sunday:the goal is that they become disciples of Christ. As disciples the young Christians are learners and it is primarily in the Church that they will be taught. God has put various ministries within the Church in order to build up the disciples. In Ephesians 4 Paul tells us that when Christ ascended on high

'he led captives in his train
and gave gifts to men'.
" It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

As Green states, the evangelist is not out for mere ‘decisions’ .. He is out for disciples --and not for himself, his church or organisation, but disciples of Jesus Christ.’ The goal of discipleship is become mature, in other words: to be like Christ.

Though this is a well known evangelical definition of evangelism it has come in for some criticism. Jim Packer the Reformed theologian disagrees with the form of this definition because it defines evangelism in terms of success. It begins ‘To evangelise is so to present Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, that men SHALL come to put their trust in God through him’.Packer argues: 'The way to tell whether you have been evangelising is not to ask whether conversions are known to have resulted from your witness.It is to ask whether you are faithfully making known the gospel message'.
In other words we should faithfully proclaim the message and then leave the results with God.

Nevertheless the goal of evangelism is that men and woman will be persuaded and souls will be saved. Later in this series we will hopefully look at what is a faithful proclamation of the gospel.In a post-modern culture persuasion is very much a dirty word,however as we shall see in a future post it was part and parcel of Paul's method of evangelism. Remember 'the almost Christian' in Acts when Agrippa says to Paul in Acts 26:28
'Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian'.
Other translations have it:"Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?" Either way a strong element of persuasion was used by Paul.

Paul preaching in Athens

Perhaps the fullest definition of evangelism is found in the Lausanne Covenant of 1974 which was edited by John Stott.As is often the case with regard to Stott's writings it is the most thorough and probably the best I've come across.It should be noted that in the proclamation of the 'Good News', he stresses that the Christian life should not be presented to the non-Christian as a 'bed of roses' stating:'In issuing the Gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship.Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community'.

How often the gospel is presented in a way that makes the the hearer think that if they come to Christ all their problems will vanish, and not only that, they can expect good health and great wealth all their days.What a travesty of the truth this is bearing in mind that the gospels clearly show that Christ was not only a poor man but died in pain at the age of thirty three. Our Lord also told his followers:'Remember the words I spoke to you: "No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also".

To make it easier to study I have broken this definition down into 5 subsections.

a) To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures, and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gift of the Spirit to all who repent and believe.

b) Our Christian presence in the world is indispensable to evangelism, and so is that kind of dialogue whose purpose is to listen sensitively in order to understand.

c) But evangelism itself is the proclamation of the historical, biblical Christ as Saviour and Lord, with a view to persuading people to come to him personally and so be reconciled to God.

d) In issuing the Gospel invitation we have no liberty to conceal the cost of discipleship. Jesus still calls all who would follow him to deny themselves, take up their cross, and identify themselves with his new community.

e)The results of evangelism include obedience to Christ, incorporation into his church and responsible service in the world.

All these definitions( including those in the previous post) take for granted that the 'evangelist' first of all knows Christ himself. We can not share what we do not have ourselves! The OVERFLOW is a result of first of all being filled with God ourselves: ( If any man thirst, let him come to me and drink and out of his belly will flow...) The beggar has already been fed and then tells others where to get bread. Presenting Jesus Christ in the power of the Spirit takes for granted that the 'evangelist' or 'witness' knows Christ and is living by his power.Our presence in the world is also important.In the world we must be prepared to mix with people and listen to them in order that we might understand their angst and concerns. Then when the opportunity arises to faithfully proclaim the message of grace and forgiveness through Christ. That is why the motto 'To know Christ and make Him known' is most apt for those who seek to reach the lost for Christ.