Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Paul the Evangelist : The apostle who being constrained by love became all things to all men that he might win some for Christ.

If Peter saw more people come to faith in Christ (8000 after two sermons) than any other evangelist, Paul had probably the most dynamic and certainly the most far reaching,apart from Christ. He was truly the evangelist to the Gentiles, but not only so. He also preached to the Jews in the Synagogues until he was kicked out. The one time arch-enemy of the Christian Church was to become the fearless apostle.

After his dramatic conversion when he met the risen Christ on the Damascus road, God told Ananias a disciple in the city that Paul was ‘a chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles, and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he will suffer for my name sake’ Acts 9.15.This proved to be true -and suffer Paul did!

Paul was the product of three backgrounds, Jewish, Greek and Roman, which proved to be of great importance in his proclamation of the gospel. He was a Hebrew of Hebrews ( Phil 3.5), not merely a Greek speaking Jew but one who could speak Hebrew as well as being a Pharisee- who were the purest of the pure. He was also brought up in Tarsus and educated in a Greek environment,hence when the situation required it, he could quote Greek poets and philosophers when preaching to win a hearing with the Greeks he was seeking to reach for Christ ( Athens). Paul was also a Roman citizen and was (several times)to use this to his advantage, such as getting a fair trial( though this didn’t always happen).

We also have a unique background, the value of which we should not underestimate( or overestimate) that may provide a key for us to go through doors to reach people that other Christians may not be able to go through ( can you think of any examples?).

Paul’s own conversion also had a great impact upon the rest of his life and ministry. On the Damascus when he was literally confronted by Christ he was told he had been persecuting Christ himself. This was because he had been involved in the deaths and persecution of many Christians including Stephen. What astounds me is that Stephen actually prayed,while he was being stoned, in imitation of Jesus, that God would not hold their sin against them. If this did not shake up Paul at the time,after his conversion when he had time to reflect upon it, it must surely have had an impact on his life and teaching.

To study the lessons that we could learn from Paul with regard to evangelism would take many weeks so I will only look at a few of them very briefly.What for instance made him such a great troubadour of Christ? I believe this was obviously to do with his close relationship with God.In his letters he often writes of this intimacy when he speaks of the believer not only being 'in Christ' but of Christ also being in the believer. In Galations he also made the amazing confession 'I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me'.Paul didn't however make out that he alone could have this close relationship, rather he invited all believers to imitate him as he had imitated Christ (1 Cor. 11:1).

Another important aspect to Paul's life and ministry was that he was empowered by the Holy Spirit and in turn encouraged those who believed to be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5.18).Also Like Christ he knew 'his calling' in life, in his case, as an apostle to the Gentiles, as well as that of a teacher and prophet.If we are lacking in spiritual power we are encouraged in scripture to ask the Father to fill us with the good gift of His Spirit and also ask Him what his will for our life is.

Most people when they think of Paul, rarely think of him as a great lover of humankind. I have heard him being called a misogynist or a dictator or single minded, but never as compassionate or winsome or loving. But those who don’t believe he had compassion like his Master, in my view don’t know him or fully understand him.
Paul the evangelist motivated by love

For instance, who was it that wrote these words? : ‘If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’.

Paul also stated in Romans 9:’ 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, the people of Israel’. That was love, following the example of Moses and Jesus who were both prepared to give their life for the sake of others. Was he a lover of men? It was the love of Christ that compelled him to serve in his ministry ( 2Cor 5). He knew the judgement would fall on those who were not Christ’s and it was a mixture of the Fear of God, love of God as well as the honour and glory of God that were his primary motivations in evangelism.

It was because of this that he would do anything to make the gospel accessible to those he sought to reach, declaring to the Corinthians: ‘Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews…To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings’.

Though he ‘worked harder than all the other apostles’ he said it was not him but the grace of God within him (1 Cor.15.10). He also recognised his own sinfulness even to declaring that Christ came into the world to save sinners of whom he was the chief.1Tim.1. 15.

Paul the suffering servant

He was also prepared to suffer for Christ, and for the benefit of those he had won for Christ. He writes:’ I am talking like a madman—with far greater labours, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? (2.Cor 11)

Paul the caring parent

His called his converts at Corinth ‘my beloved children’(1 Cor.4.14) and of Timothy he wrote : ‘Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord’(1 Cor.4.17).

How did he tend his converts in Thessalonica? He writes:‘But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us’. 1. Thess2 6-8 See the tenderness he speaks of them. Surely this is not the harsh evangelist that people often think of him!

Paul the Spirit filled man

We often think of Paul as a great preacher like Billy Graham or Tony Compolo but he once wrote of his time before the Corinthians when he stated: ‘I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God’. (1Cor 2.3-5)

Paul the man of prayer

Paul was also a great man of prayer. Consider for instance one of his prayers for the Ephesians :’For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God’. Eph.3.14.19

He also spoke of ‘praying without ceasing’, of praying for those in the government in order that the gospel could be preached freely. Paul writes of wrestling against principalities and powers, and of praying in the Spirit as the Spirit would aid him in praying God inspired prayers.

In his letters to the churches he does not often speak of evangelism as such. But he does speak of living a life that is worthy of God much in the same way that Jesus told the disciples to be light and salt in the world.

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. Who wouldn’t want to be a Christian if they saw people living a lives like that described above?

Francis Schaeffer described the mark of a Christian was first and foremost a life of love. William Still always taught that primary evangelism was essentially living the ‘Christ like life’ not the show and razzmatazz of a big ‘revival meeting.

How does Paul challenge our own life style as regards evangelism. ‘How deep is our love’? How authentic is our walk with Christ. We are all hypocrites to a degree ,but Christ, who knows well our failings, still calls us to himself to learn from himself. The teacher, mentor and Master, the one who is gentle and lowly of heart promises to give us rest for our souls and his Spirit to help us to live the Christ life.


‘If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails’. Paul

Thursday, 20 June 2013

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” Acts 2:4 C.H. Spurgeon

What a blessing and gift it is to be filled by the Holy Spirit. Jesus tells us that our heavenly Father is only too willing to fill us. Let us ask him to be filled to the uttermost today. AK

Rich were the blessings of this day if all of us were filled with the Holy Ghost. The consequences of this sacred filling of the soul it would be impossible to overestimate. Life, comfort, light, purity, power, peace; and many other precious blessings are inseparable from the Spirit’s benign presence.

As sacred oil, he anoints the head of the believer, sets him apart to the priesthood of saints, and gives him grace to execute his office aright.

As the only truly purifying water he cleanses us from the power of sin and sanctifies us unto holiness, working in us to will and to do of the Lord’s good pleasure.

As the light, he manifested to us at first our lost estate, and now he reveals the Lord Jesus to us and in us, and guides us in the way of righteousness. Enlightened by his pure celestial ray, we are no more darkness but light in the Lord.

As fire, he both purges us from dross, and sets our consecrated nature on a blaze. He is the sacrificial flame by which we are enabled to offer our whole souls as a living sacrifice unto God.

As heavenly dew, he removes our barrenness and fertilizes our lives. O that he would drop from above upon us at this early hour! Such morning dew would be a sweet commencement for the day.

As the dove, with wings of peaceful love he broods over his Church and over the souls of believers, and

As a Comforter he dispels the cares and doubts which mar the peace of his beloved. He descends upon the chosen as upon the Lord in Jordan, and bears witness to their sonship by working in them a filial spirit by which they cry Abba, Father.

As the wind, he brings the breath of life to men; blowing where he listeth he performs the quickening operations by which the spiritual creation is animated and sustained. Would to God, that we might feel his presence this day and every day.

Monday, 10 June 2013


"We live to the Lord."—Romans 14:8.
F God had willed it, each of us might have entered heaven at the moment of conversion. It was not absolutely necessary for our preparation for immortality that we should tarry here. It is possible for a man to be taken to heaven, and to be found meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light, though he has but just believed in Jesus. It is true that our sanctification is a long and continued process, and we shall not be perfected till we lay aside our bodies and enter within the veil; but nevertheless, had the Lord so willed it, He might have changed us from imperfection to perfection, and have taken us to heaven at once.

 Why then are we here? Would God keep His children out of paradise a single moment longer than was necessary? Why is the army of the living God still on the battle-field when one charge might give them the victory? Why are His children still wandering hither and thither through a maze, when a solitary word from His lips would bring them into the centre of their hopes in heaven? The answer is—they are here that they may "live unto the Lord," and may bring others to know His love.

  We remain on earth as sowers to scatter good seed; as ploughmen to break up the fallow ground; as heralds publishing salvation. We are here as the "salt of the earth," to be a blessing to the world. We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for Him, and as "workers together with Him." Let us see that our life answereth its end. Let us live earnest, useful, holy lives, to "the praise of the glory of His grace." Meanwhile we long to be with Him, and daily sing—

"My heart is with Him on His throne,
And ill can brook delay;
Each moment listening for the voice,
'Rise up, and come away.'"

Monday, 3 June 2013

Persuasive 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.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

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.