He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Friday, April 30, 2010 

Missions: Fast Evangelism?

From around the world, from different tribes and tongues and peoples and nations, those who would be saved must come to Jesus, and they must come to him as he is.

We proclaim Jesus, a particular Jesus, Jesus as the son of God and savior of sinners. Merely to encourage people to articulate the name of Jesus, while allowing them to believe whatever they desire or devise in their own minds, is not a legitimate biblical strategy for the evangelist or missionary. The sons of Sceva made the mistake of thinking that the mere pronunciation of the name provided power to cast out demons (Acts 19). They knew the name “Jesus” but they did not know the man Jesus. In other words, they had come to a name, but they had not come to the man. Those to whom we go in missions must come to Christ as he is, not as he might wrongly be perceived.

Whether in North America or Africa or Asia or anywhere else, sinners are invited to come to Jesus as he is. They come to the one who is God incarnate. They come to the one whose ministry was one of compassion and caring. They come to the one who has made atonement, who has ascended to heaven and will one day return. I am not arguing that those who come to this savior must fully understand or clearly articulate all the mysteries contained in the gospel of Christ. Nor do I believe that believers, as they walk through this life, will fully grasp all there is to know about the person and work of Jesus. How many of us present have fully comprehended all the deep truths of the Trinity?

I am bothered, however, that we often intentionally deliver a minimum of information about Jesus, the gospel and the Christian life, whether in North America or around the world. The Scriptures would have us teach the peoples of the world all things that God has commanded. I believe that our evangelistic efforts have too often been influenced by our own North American cultural context. In our culture, we like things fast. We like fast cars, fast food, fast cures, fast fixes, fast . . . well, you fill in blanks. And, we like our evangelism fast.

Let me provide just an inkling of where I am theologically. I absolutely believe in the absolute sovereignty of God. I know that he can sovereignly and powerfully, in a moment, break through to a lost sinner and bring that person quickly into the kingdom. I know that our God can repeat, in a fashion, the Damascus road incident anytime and anywhere that he wishes. But, we do not expect regularly to be able to reproduce that episode ourselves. Furthermore, even the apostle Paul was not a sudden convert from a pagan religion and a pagan worldview. He was well versed in the Scriptures. His was not an empty slate. He did not come to that Damascus road experience with a dearth of information and knowledge.

- more to come from Dr. George Martin

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