Wednesday, August 28, 2013

...rekindling the fires of biblical evangelism

"But I do not account my life of any value
nor as precious to myself,
if only I may finish my course and the ministry
that I received from the Lord Jesus,
to testify to the gospel of the grace of God."
-Acts 20:24

Do we have a passion for lost souls? Do we go "where Christ is not yet named" to proclaim the life giving truth of sola fide to people who need the Savior? Do we identify with the profound self-condemning burden of the Apostle Paul for others to know the Lord when he says, "For I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my countrymen according to the flesh... to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises" -Romans 9:3-4. Or has apathy about the things for eternity numbed our hearts to the cries of those dying without Jesus Christ? Though God has chosen His elect in Christ before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:3-5), He still commands us to go into all the world and preach the gospel; to call all men everywhere to repentance; and to be ambassadors for Christ (cp, Rom. 1:16, Acts 17, Phil. 1:29). "Hell is burning while the church sleeps" beloved. When will we wake up from the slumber of our souls, loosen our tongues and proclaim the cross of Christ without apology, without hesitation, and without fear?

In most gospel calls today, there is little talk about sin; repentance; justification by faith; the Law; Lordship; propitiation; loving Him more than all other loves; denying yourself, taking up your cross and following Him, etc. One might legitimately wonder in the absence of those things, what do people actually respond to when we see public calls to follow the Lord Jesus Christ? No where in the gospels did the Lord ever invite someone to simply accept Him and pray a sinners prayer. The gospel is not just an offer of salvation; the gospel is a call to follow the Lord; a command to repent of our sin; and a compelling to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:14-21). Amen?

Correct Theology Should Not Make us Silent
As one who believes passionately in the doctrines of grace; the five solas; historic reformed biblical Christianity; and God's sovereign election of His own from all eternity in Christ; I deeply fear that "correct sound theology" has made some of us silent, proud, lax rather than bold, dispassionate, and to abandon the proclamation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in the marketplace. Where are the Whitefields, the Edwards, the Baxters, the Watsons today; in short, where are the sovereign-grace evangelists of our day willing to do "all things for the sake of the elect?" (2 Tim. 2:10).

We need to come out from under the safety of our comfort zone and step away from the ease of our carefully, crafted, cultivated world, and go "where Christ is not yet named" (Roms. 15:20). Whether across the street or around the world; we all need to be faithful witnesses for Christ Jesus our Lord (Acts 1:8).

It is good news we have to proclaim beloved (Rom. 1:16): how can a sinful man or woman have peace with a holy God for eternity? (Rom. 5:1-2). We must come to the cross where the perfect "righteousness of God was put on display as a propitiation for our sins." Let's live it, defend it, proclaim it, and share it; and "not loving our lives as unto death." (Acts 20:24).

I hope these two biblical and practical lists below of "The Gospel Proclaimed: and "The Gospel Obeyed" will encourage you and strengthen you to go into all world and preach the gospel. Evangelism is not just for a few professionals in the body of Christ--we are all to be witnesses of His transforming grace right where the Lord has placed each of us in the world.

Any clear presentation of the gospel of grace would include the following in some measure:

1. The Law - Romans 3-4; Galatians 3-4

2. Man's Inability to Save himself - Total Depravity - Romans 3:10-18; Ephesians 2:1-3

3. Justification by Faith Alone (the heart and soul of the gospel) - Romans 3-5; Galatians 3-4

4. Unmerited, Undeserved Grace - Ephesians 1-2

5. The Incarnation and Sinless Life of the Lord Jesus Christ - John 1:1-14; Hebrews 2:9, 14-17

6. The once for all Vicarious Penal Substitutionary Death of Christ on the Cross - Hebrews 2:9, 17-18; 9:14

7. Atonement, Expiation, and Propitiation in Christ - Romans 3:24-26; 1 John 2:2; Hebrews 2:17

8. The Triumphant Bodily Resurrection of Jesus from the Dead - Philippians 2:5-12
9. Jesus Christ proclaimed as Lord - Romans 10:9-10; Phil. 2:11

10. The Call of the ungodly to Repentance from Sin - Luke 24:46-49; Acts 2:36-42; 17:24-31; Romans 1-2

11. The Prayer for God to grant Saving Faith to the Unregenerate - Ephesians 2:8-9;

12. The Call to Follow Christ as Lord - Matthew 7:21-23; 16:24-28; Luke 14:24:25-35; Romans 10; 2 Cor. 5:14-21

What must one do to be saved? Man cannot do anything to be saved--he is hopelessly dead in trespass and sin. Man is completely impotent to save himself--there is no hope for him apart from Christ (Eph. 2:1-3; Roms. 3:10-18). Salvation is all of grace; all of faith; all of Christ; all of the kindness of God; all of the sanctifying and regenerative work of the Holy Spirit; and all based upon the Word of God--the gospel (Titus 3:4-7; Eph. 1:3-14). However, in saying that, the visible fruit of repentance by the internal work of grace will bear the following:

1. Conviction, contrition and confession of sin

2. Forsaking of all idols, loves, and all others--even self to follow Christ

3. Forsaking of all other means of salvation except through Christ alone - Jesus Christ plus or minus nothing

4. Forsaking of all religious practices, ceremonies, sacraments, and/or works righteousness

5. Repentance from sin

6. To deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him

7. Confession of Christ as Lord and belief in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead

8. To trust solely in the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved: that He is Lord-Sovereign over all; the only Savior; and the complete, once for all sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin

9. In short: Turn to God; Trust in Christ; Take the Gift of the Holy Spirit
Nothing is more important than the preservation and proclamation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. We live in a very pragmatic time where what works has taken precedence over what is true, holy, reverent and what pleases God. May we never water-down the life giving truth of the gospel of grace for the sake of numbers, comfort of the sinner over conviction of sin, or to pave a more smoother path for ourselves, rather than preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2; Gal. 6:14).

And as we go into all the world, may we not charge people to hear the gospel message. Let us not demand a single penny for proclaiming its truth. It is His gospel; and we have no right to make money a prerequisite for ministry when that ministry is about the heralding of the Good News. Wouldn't it be wonderful if you could go to any Christian concert, conference, evangelistic or worship gathering for whatever you could afford to give and never have to pay a ticket price again? Could you imagine the Apostle Paul charging tickets for people to hear him preach? Could you imagine the Lord demanding a fee before He gave the Sermon on the Mount? Could you imagine Peter asking for royalties to be paid before circulating one of his epistles?

"Freely we have received; freely we must give." Years ago, the Lord convicted me of this very thing and is why I stopped charging for my concerts, seminars, CD's... anything to do with the ministry. God broke my heart and I needed it to be crushed. I needed to repent of making money a precondition in providing ministry. Think about this beloved, I used to charge people to come to a church to worship the Lord. I used to charge people to have them hear about the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. O wretched man am I. I am so grateful that the Lord, in any small measure, by His sanctifying grace alone, allows me to continue in ministry--for I certainly don't deserve to.

I thank the Lord for the faithful men and women that shared the whole gospel and not a watered-down substitute when I was young. How thankful I am the Lord in His sovereignty saved this wretched man from his sin and brought me into eternal life by grace alone, through faith alone, because of Christ alone, on the Word alone, to the glory of God alone. In the words of A.W. Tozer, "The cross is a radical thing."

His Unworthy Servant in His Unfailing Love,
Titus 3:4-7


Mike Ratliff said...

Awesome post Steve!

Our theology is great and inspires genuine believers to worship their Lord, but the lost need to hear exactly what you put in this post. We must be diligent in getting this gospel preached to this lost and dying world. The watered-down, humanistic gospel is not radical and has little power. The real deal, as you presented it, opens the pathway to salvation for all who hear it because God is in the midst of it doing His work of saving Souls.

donsands said...

Thanks for another excellent lesson. A good post to share, which I intend to with my fellow elders.
Just a thought here: It seems the most godly followers of Christ are those who constantly lay their sins before the Cross, though knowing Christ's precious blood, and broken body has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west. Psalm 103:12

SJ Camp said...

This is one of the most important posts I think I have written. The gospel is under such attack today that even the manner in which the gospel is proclaimed leaves much to be desired to authenticity and accuracy to its claims.

On a personal note, it is very disturbing to me that when I post a humorous bit of sarcasm about the environment that it will garner 50 plus comments easily; and then when I spend time to write on the gospel and the struggles facing us in evangelism today, that only a handful respond.

It's interesting isn't it? What a great piece of technology we have at our disposal to use for the Lord, and...

I am not complaining; just making the observation.

Thank you all.

From the crucible of grace,

donsands said...

"Hell is Burning While the Church Sleeps" was a Keith Green tune, if I remember correctly. Or did you write that one Steve?
Great song.

SJ Camp said...

That was my song, but I was thinking about Keith when I wrote it. He had recently gone home to be with the Lord when I penned that song shortly after his memorial service.

Thanks for the encouragement.


Mike Ratliff said...

"This is one of the most important posts I think I have written. The gospel is under such attack today that even the manner in which the gospel is proclaimed leaves much to be desired to authenticity and accuracy to its claims."

Not only do the lost desperatly need to hear the true Gospel, but the Body of Christ needs it as well because it empowers all of our teaching and service.

Steve, keep up the good work.

4given said...

I have been in the midst of one of those precious trials that doesn't feel precious in the midst of it... but the Lord, in His timing allows the eternal perspective within the trial at times so as to encourage me to press on, I think.... thus, I have not been blogging much lately and have missed reading up on your posts. This is one I deeply appreciate and wanted to take time to digest it before responding... all i can come up with is thank you... your insight and diligence brings glory and honor to our Lord.

Michele Rayburn said...

Hi Steve,

Regarding your dismay at the lack of response to this post:

I have made the same observation regarding your post on "Stupid People in the Church: Will The Real Church...Please Stand Up?". Considering the state of the church today, neither your blog post nor my lengthy comments caused a dialogue to occur. I would think that it would have caused many to voice their concerns with the church. Perhaps my comments were so long that no one read them, or it really hit home and there was nothing left to be said! I don’t know!

But, I would not judge the value of your posts to your readers based on whether or not they respond. They may value them more than you know. And I think that they do.

To me, this post (“Will The Real Church Please Stand Up?”) was one of your most important posts, because if the state of the church is poor, so goes the gospel message.

You have done an excellent job of showing that the gospel message is not being preached with a clear, uncompromised presentation, and with a passion to proclaim it to a lost and dying world.

But, the reason this gospel message is being watered down is at least two-fold:

1. the state of the church

2. the influence of seminaries on our ministers (missionaries, Pastors, etc.)

It seems to me that a truly regenerate person would have a passion for the lost. I really wonder if a person can be saved and not have a burden for the lost. Then, this new Christian goes to church, and as I said on “Will the Real Church Please Stand Up?”, they are subjected to a Roman Catholic style of worship that inhibits good personal growth in the Lord with other believers.

And the Pastors usually come out of seminaries that stifle them as Shepherds. They leave the seminary and begin parroting their teachers, instead of learning to be in the habit of spending quality time in fellowship with the Lord for themselves, and instead of learning the importance of a prayer life.

There are too many Pastors who do not bring to the pulpit a fresh message from the Word. But instead, they tell us what others have said and in so doing they perpetuate the same mistakes, inaccuracies, and sometimes even heresies that their teachers have taught them. And that would include the presentation of the gospel.

Each Christian is personally accountable to God for their walk with Him. I would pray that they would have discernment before going to a seminary. They should either not go, or not allow the seminary to indoctrinate them into some cookie-cutter style of ministry and Spiritless exegesis. They should not let anyone rob them of “the simplicity that is in Christ”. (2 Cor. 11:3-4)

The gospel message will be pure if we keep our hearts pure...pure from the traditions of men, and if we, like Paul the Apostle, desire to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified, “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings”. That is the kind of “knowing Him” that the church in their heart of hearts would like to see brought to the pulpit. That kind of “knowing Him” cannot be duplicated or cranked out of the seminary, because it will be “Christ in you” being glorified in the pulpit. And then it will be real.

And “the power of His resurrection” will be real in the proclaiming of the gospel...when the Pastor (or missionary, or layman) is real...when they “know” their Lord.

I do think that there is more evangelism going on than we will ever know about...people we never hear about. And I am confident that the Lord is building His church and that "the gates of Hades will not prevail against it".

In His Love,

Shawn L said...


Amen!!! I pray all of us would boldly proclaim the gospel!!! This has been on my heart as well lately as well.. May God teach us to follow the apostles in their ability to share Christ whereever they are at.

Shawn L said...

Steve What a critical message to the church today. I have sent this to my friends at church.

Steve do you do any street preaching or door to door evangelism? Do you spend alot of time sharing the gospel with those at starbucks. I have tried to share the gospel at the local coffee shop recently and am meeting with a man going to jail as well. I have shared Christ on blogs as well from those who are hindu's. Sadly most of my regular evangelism is with family who doesn't know Christ. I want to be bolding sharing Christ in different areas in my community.

I need to pour over Paul's message more as I have seen opportunities come and go and pray to preach Christ with boldness to friends, neighbors, strangers, and family.

A friend of mine said street preaching is best with a buddy.

Do you do this with a friend? Also I have a friend of mine who recently meet a man running and began sharing Christ to him a week or so ago. May God be gracious to us to keep us making the most of every opportunity and be obedient to Christ. Never fearful or ashamed in front of men, but only having a fear of God.

I have a young friend of mine who is sometimes afraid of sharing the gospel as they might say something wrong. I fear as well this emphasis on sound doctrine in this man's life has hindered him in some ways to keep him thinking he can't proclaim Christ without making mistakes. I am discouraged to hear this and pray that what you have stated hear is truly the prayer of every church around.

May God be gracious to save His people,
Shawn Lynes

donsands said...

I like Casting Crowns. Their songs are more thought provoking then so many today.

Sometimes, though, I feel sort of guilty for being so reformed in my heart of hearts, when I see my Armenian brothers and sisters with such big hearts for the lost, like this song exclaims.

A man like Billy Graham, or a Keith Green, or a John Wesley truly cause me to reflect on the motives of my heart.
I do long with fervant desire that my friends and family would come to Christ, but I know this will never happen apart from His irresistible grace, and unconditional election.

May the Lord help me weigh all this in my heart and mind, and trust that He would help me understand these things better. Amen.

Michele Rayburn said...


It is no small thing that you are witnessing to your family. The seed that you are planting there will most likely bear fruit, even for generations to come.

Not all Christians are called to go overseas or to preach to millions. But I think that we should “bloom where we are planted”, and perhaps God will move us in other directions from there. He usually does. But I never get anxious about it. I just look forward to what God has planned for me in His own good timing.

I believe that God moved on a humble Pastor from Texas, an Army buddy of my Dad’s from World War II, to begin praying for my family. He used to send us Christmas cards with tracts in them. And I used to marvel at how this friend of our Dad’s would always remember us, and that he was a Christian, too! Living in Long Island, New York, as a Roman Catholic, I had never met a Christian. I wasn’t even sure if there were still Christians in the world! That’s how dark it was there. But this Pastor had a spiritual impact on my life, so that by the time I was 23 years old, I was saved.

Soon after I was saved, I began doing what he did. I began sending cards, letters and tracts to my family and friends, at Christmas, Easter, sometimes on birthdays, or when a sickness or tragedy would occur.

Now, more than 20 years later, I see the fruit of that “calling”. I have seen several family members become saved, and several more are being drawn. And of those that have been saved, several of them have children now, some of which are now also Christians.

The Lord has led me to reach out to so many people throughout the years, just in the course of daily their homes or in hospitals, or wherever. But there’s one thing I know that I can always do, and that’s to send a card, a letter and a tract.

And prayer is a huge part of evangelism, too. I pray for people and have seen God do great things as a result. Things I prayed for regarding world affairs I have seen God answer. Prayer is our greatest weapon of all.

In His Love,

donsands said...


Right on.

My belly is on fire to proclaim God's Word. I love the truth. however, sometimes when it comes to sharing this, I do dance around. I have also been bold with the truth, but I want to become bolder.
May the Lord grant me the courage to preach His Word of grace like I never have before, and may I continue to grow in ny boldness until He takes me home, or He returns. Amen. And all the glory goes to our Sovereign Holy Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

Shawn L said...


Thanks so much for some great ideas to reach more of my family with the gospel

Shawn L said...

Friends. Those of you who know Hindu's you might be interested in talking to Hindu's about the gospel. You wouldn't believe how much they bring up Christ in their daily conversation in reguard to their religion. What an opportunity to share them to real gospel message and begin talking about Christ.

I have done this on many occasions as the opportunity seems to present itself alot, however I haven't seen any conversions yet, but lots of opportunities present themselves. As well with Catholic friends as well.

I haven't spent any time sharing Christ with Mormons or Jehovah Witnesses, but I have spent some time with people in other cults.

Wow what an encouraging message. I believe I will pray for more opportunities to share the gospel with Hindu's again.

Michele Rayburn said...


I am so very glad that it was a help to you.

Love and prayers,

Anonymous said...

Steve, your observations are right on.
The claims of Jesus Christ are what should be in the forefront; on the mind,in our hearts and spoken from our lips, if we profess to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Our opinions about the world's issues such as the environment can become distractions and diversions from keeping the main thing (the gospel), the main thing.

Sarcasm, used by believers with well meaning intentions, may want to examine it's source and fruit. Might sarcasm be compared to fireworks? When the display goes off and up, there are wows and ahhs and then the show is over. What do we want to be remembered for and how is that a reflection of our Christian beliefs found in the Word? Yes, I just gave an opinion about sarcasm and I have no power to change another's opinion. Only the power of the Holy Spirit is what is to be working so mightily in God's children to conform us to the image of Christ and for His glory alone. This power is what I pray for those who are called to be servants of the gospel and who labor to love and feed the Good Shepherd's sheep and lambs.

The so-called great piece of technology needs careful/prayerful handling by Christian bloggers. I pray none succumb to becoming the blogging canary in a cage. The pc is not so great, when compared to the Truth spoken in love by a human with a beating heart beside me vs the computer that only hums and causes eye strain.

Thanks, Steve, for your labor of love. You and others belivers on this blogline are in my prayers.

2 Peter 3:17-18

L. Jones

Robert said...

thanks for a well reasoned article.

I'm throughly reformed and I believe that evangelism is the "forgotten commandment" of our generation.

Do you want to talk about a God who loves us like a little puppy licking our face? You'll find lot's of friends...

Do you want to talk about a God who is sovereign over even a man's salvation?

Do you want to have pot lucks, Promise keepers, and Christian Retreats?
You'll have lot's of friends to join you...

Do you want to get out and hit the streets to preach and witness?

I'm both...proudly reformed and fully aware of the call to preach the gospel to a lost and dying world.

Again, thanks for the great post.

Steven said...


Great post, especially the 9 points under 'Gospel Responded.' It seems as if too many people do not care and it is quite disheartening. I think too many people are trying to "pick and choose" who should come to the gospel. "We'll tell those like us and no one else." How sad!

I find this true in a lot of Christians, especially when it comes to sharing the gospel with a person of a different religion.They let the other religion run all over them without ever defending the gospel. I share the gospel with Muslims on a regular basis. God convicted me some time ago that I must risk it all to go into the flames of Hell and present the Truth so that some would be saved. It is a scary thing to go right into the Enemy camp and share Jesus with the dead, but it is also exciting to see how God is working.

ALL Glory to God!

Thanks again for the post

Frank Rollberg said...

Great post Brother. God has raised up evangelist in the Western suburbs of Chicago. There are evangelist like myself that are hitting the streets doing open air preaching and 1 to 1 evangelism sharing the Biblical Gospel like Whitfield preached . To GOD be all the GLORY!!!! We still need more laborers.

GOD Bless,

Frank Rollberg

Wm Mallory said...

Correct Theology Should Not Make us Silent

As one who believes passionately in the doctrines of grace; the five solas; historic orthodox biblical Christianity; and God's sovereign election of His own; I deeply fear that "correct sound theology" has made some silent, proud, lax rather than bold, dispassionate, and to abandon to the proclamation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today, where are the Whitefields, the Edwards, the Baxters, the Watsons; in short, where are the sovereign-grace evangelists of our day willing to do "all things for the sake of the elect?" (2 Tim. 2:10)

Steve, Your article reminds me of these verses...

Romans 10:13-14 - For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

This is exactly why we must continue to preach Christ crucified, repentance, daily cross, death to self!!! We do not know who His elect are…

The danger that we face in our reformed circles, is to sit idly by and do nothing (since God will save his elect)... Yet we see in scripture that we are commanded to preach!!! When sitting idly by, we are in disobedience to his call and command. May we all evaluate ourselves in light of scriptures and repent of this great wickedness....we must light our candles!!!!

How shall they hear without a preacher?

Sirnickdon said...

If it's true that "Any clear presentation of the gospel" should contain all of those points (even ignoring the order), then why can you not simply cite each point as it is cited in any particular presentation of the gospel in scripture?

I am not making the blanket statement that at no time do all of these points occur together (if they do, I'm banking on Romans), but I am asking if every presentation of the gospel in scripture makes all of these points, and if not, what implications does that make for us? (Because surely as Christ or Paul presented the gospel of grace to any individual or group they did it clearly.)

I love that you say that "correct theology should not make us silent." Too often we concern ourselves with correcting our own theology and others' and ignore the suffering of the world.



Captured! said...

I love to share the Gospel with children. Through the years, the Lord has opened the way to me to share and teach whoever is hanging out with my now 14 yr old niece and 10 yr old nephew. As an Aunt, it has been my prayer that my sister's children have Christian friends to walk with at School and at play and the Lord has honored prayer. Many of these kids have never heard the Gospel, but only know of the name of Jesus. I look for opportunities to meet the parents of my niece and nephew's friends whenever possible and so far all of them have allowed their kids to go to Church with us at different times. Sometimes I walk in to Church with two, three, or four. It always gets a grin from the Elders :> On those days, we find a room and have Children's Church and pray. I pray the parents of these kids would be changed by their children's faith, testimonies, & prayers :>

Ron Bauer said...

The lack of obedience to the Great Commission was used by God many months ago to usher in some dramatic changes in our family. Though reformed in doctrine, our family grew weary of all the infighting among reformed believers over what might be considered minutia in doctrine or practice while neglecting to share the Gospel with a dying world.

The other thing that I have observed is an out-of-balance emphasis on ministering to one's own family...being faithful in the duties of family living (which I agree IS important) to the point where it becomes a consuming thing with no time or energy left to minister to unbelievers. Did God really want us to be so consumed with our own families and lives that we neglect the Great Commission? It seems there should be room at a family table to minister to others outside one's own family or local fellowship.

I would be interested to hear others thoughts on this. It is not a settled belief but a growing sense of unease that the Church has become self-absorbed in caring for its own and neglecting obedience in other things.

Though this is my first time commenting, I appreciate your blog very much, and it has been the instrument of conviction, encouragement and refreshment for me. I am especially struck by your open-handed approach to ministry. How refreshing to see you relying on God and not fretting about fees, payment, stipends, etc. It brings to mind great men like George Muller, who would not accept a salary for pastoring a church, but had a box installed at the back for people to give as the Lord directed them. May God bless you richly for your faith and trust in Him!

Paula Bauer said...

My apologies for the name on my comment above. Ron was my brother-in-law, who entered Glory on 7/12/07 after a difficult battle with kidney cancer. The blog associated with Ron's name was set up to chronicle his journey for friends and family, and I didn't realize his name would show up on my comment. I have now changed the profile so it will no longer appear that Ron is posting messages from beyond the grave, and apologize for the embarrassing error.
Paula Bauer

S.J. Walker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
S.J. Walker said...

I know the feeling about lop-sided traffic Steve,

I rant about Brian McLaren or something like that and the "amens" and the "how dare yous" come out of the wood work.

But I pour my pathetic little heart about my sin or evangelism, or a simple little nugget from the word, and like Robert said: "chirp, chirp" go the crickets.

All that said, we should expect this to a large degree. Of course, we should be able to expect better from fellow believers, but that is really a separate issue. That is fellowship not evangelism. It is good and necessary- but not paramount.

So in regards to evangelism, we should not be discouraged by lack of enthusiasm from the lost--even those who claim to be saved. What we often fail to act upon is the truth that these professed Christians out there are not brothers in need of exhortation, but lost people floating on a plywood raft and thinking they are on dry ground. And, therefore, need rescued in love just as much as a Devil worshiper for in essence of eternity, they are the same.

The kid that stole a uniform and practiced with the team will only be able to enjoy conversations in the locker room about the basics, and the cute girls on the cheer leading squad. When the speech turns to the technical and detailed about the plays that need gone over before the game he will become silent, for he does not know what he is talking about and is thus equally uncomfortable as he is inept.

In this situation, we see the real team and the fake one. They look the same, smell the same, even use some of the jargon. But when they take to the field, it becomes clear who knows the play book AND UNDERSTANDS it and who does not.

Forgive me. I have "contextualized". ;-)

greuber said...

Hey Steve

Just a question I guess but more an observation. Under "obedience", other than line 6 (6. To deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him) and the end where we are to follow Him, everything mentioned is internal or personally relational. You are talking about taking the proper Gospel "out" to the world (elect) then I think we need a lot more action verbs in this section ! Following Him I guess is to encompass all "works" for the Gospel?
On the music/ministry note, I think that is brave and encouraging and tough decision Praise God and may He be glorified by your obedience !

Debbie said...

Having been raised in a thoroughly Armenian home, it is only by God’s amazing grace that I was led to COT. Here, over the past year or so, I’ve poured over the archived articles and current posts and the Holy Spirit has faithfully illuminated His word and taught me what it really means to study scripture with a heart wide-open to His instruction, especially in regard to some of these matters. As a result, I’ve come to have a nearly complete change of heart in so many areas of doctrine and theology, Calvinism being one of them. These important truths are truly precious to me because they have given me a wonderfully new sense of awe and gratitude for His amazing gift of salvation and a thirst for His Word like nothing I’ve ever known.

That said, one question that continues to linger has been addressed by this post and these comments: Why were we given the Great Commission since His elect will, without exception, be saved? Please know that I’m not being flippant in asking (sometimes things sound that way in the blogosphere when not meant to.) Whenever I bring the topic up with a small circle of friends (some of whome are REALLY brilliant in just about every imaginable way) they are quite sure that I’ve completely lost it :), and I find myself wondering how to answer this question. I understand that, of course, we want everyone else to know the saving grace of Christ --- it is a natural overflow of our regeneration. I also understand that we must be obedient and this is clearly a command. But both of these reasons seem to be mostly “self-serving”. Whether because of compassion or obedience, how does it change anything for the one who is lost since, in His sovereignty, He has chosen His elect and they will be saved. There are so many particular scripture verses that I have bookmarked about this, but I’d love to hear from anyone of you who could shed some light on this for me…

Much thanks,

donsands said...

"in His sovereignty, He has chosen His elect and they will be saved.'

This is a grand reason why we are to go, and to have exceedingly great hope that we may be used by God to rescue His lost sheep.

We don't know who God's elect are, but we can be sure that He has determined to find each lost sheep, and to bring each one into His pasture.

And our Lord is delighted when each and every one of His lost children come home. Angles rejoice in heaven when a sinner repents, and trusts in the Cross of Christ for His forgiveness, and bows his knee to Jesus who is Lord of heaven and earth.

Great questions Debbie. And difficult to answer. My feeble words probably don't help much.

have you ever read John Piper's, "Let the Nations be Glad"? It's a very good read. It may help.

Debbie said...


Thank you for your response –- I really appreciate it. I will definitely get the book you have recommended.

This isn’t something I’m “hung up” on, but I just haven’t been able to pull various thoughts and scripture together that answers this in a way that makes a lot of sense to others who are coming at this from a completely different perspective. It bothers me when I don’t feel that I can adequately articulate important truth. I’m sure that as I continue to study, it will become clear; another reason why I appreciate hearing what others have to say.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

In His grace,


Anonymous said...

Here's the crux of the issue. We all agree that preaching the gospel is critical. But, I feel alot of folks (myself included) struggle with how to do so. I'm getting involved in a ministry to work on this area in my life, but perhaps we could make this more practical.

Perhaps SJ or someone can offer up a couple of specific ideas with sharing the gospel.

To take this a step further, perhaps collectively, as participants on the blog, perhaps someone has a list of servicemen or ? that we could write to encourage and share the gospel with? This would be a great way to unite believers on this blog and give some real life opportunties for us to spread the gospel.

I think SJ's original point that some of us fail to move past the theology to the practical reality of sharing is spot on.

What do you think?

SJ Camp said...

Good words and I am sorry I didn't see this earlier. Lots going on.

I think one small way to share your faith each day is to go to the church of St. Arbucks. Starbucks has little world-view messages on their cups. Most of them are liberal and some are blatantly anti-Christian.

Not to be discouraged, I use these a launching points to engage others in discussion about the messages presented and then bringing them back to a biblical worldview and ultimately the gospel.

Thank the Lord for Starbucks for giving us a wonderful opportunity to present the truth claims of Scripture, address them with people right in their establishments, and promote the kingdom of God through the proclamation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is one way to daily engage culture for the cause of Christ.


Anonymous said...

SJ - thanks. I've never had a Starbucks! :)

Jacob said...

This is a great post Steve! If truly understood, our Reformed theology ought to embolden and ignite our gospel preaching. The gates of hell will not prevail against the gospel preaching you have exhorted us with in this post. I recently returned from a ministry trip to north Uganda and south Sudan. The gospel is bearing much fruit there. At this link is a short report of the wonderful privilege I had with our brethren:

Keep preaching the Word brother!

In His Grip,
Jacob Lee

Debbie said...


With regard to your comments a few days ago, I think I now see what you were communicating. Here is a thought from that particular book: “Missions is not God’s ultimate goal, worship is. And when this sinks into a person’s heart, everything changes. The world is often turned on its head, and everything looks different – including the missionary enterprise.” (John Piper –“Let the Nations Be Glad!”) Talk about a complete re-orientation in thinking and perspective! I’m beginning to make the connection as to why the writing of men like Tozer, who focus our thoughts on worship and such a high view of God, resonates so deeply … EVERYTHING else flows from this … nothing is diminished by this re-orientation, but rather given its proper place. Then, as you said, we can have “… exceedingly great hope that we may be used by God to rescue His lost sheep.”

I just wanted to say thanks for what has proven to be a wonderful recommendation; a most “helpful and good read”!


Jim said...

Sometimes I think if someone says “relationship” to me one more time (as in relationship evangelism), I’m going to have to go and get my axe…

What a breath of fresh air this message is (as well the messages in discernment that you recently posted)! I was feeling pretty isolated and hearing that God is speaking the same Word in other men’s hearts gives me courage…it is water to my soul! By God’s grace and power I WILL find ways to boldly proclaim the gospel!

Pray for me as I face the prospect of trying to find a new church. I have been at my current one for 5 years but I find our theological paths diverging. If I implemented the gist of the sermons from the past few weeks, I would I need to apologize to the world for not living up to THEIR idea of who Christ is, pick up a Norman Vincent Peal book on being “positive,” and love myself more. We're constantly reinforcing the notion to the congregation that anything that looks like preaching or a direct presentation of the gospel to anyone outside the church is "bad" and that being friendly with the world is "good." We send missionaries out to the world with the understanding that they are to speak the gospel to no one. And as much as I love our class, it (along with all the rest, I'm sure) appear to be in desperate need of some theological oversight. We get all sorts of unsound doctrine and misconceptions alluded to like the advice this past Sunday to consult the book of Maccabees to get the real inside poop on the Antichrist.

Please pray that God would help me find a church where sound doctrine matters, the Holy Spirit is not quenched, and the whole counsel of God is boldly proclaimed!

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