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

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.