Continuation… final part.
10. Evangelism often is too dependent on proof-texting. Proof-texting is a lazy form of apologetics/argument. Cultic groups love it because almost any strange doctrine can be proof-texted if one rips a verse, sentence, or phrase from its context. I heard a preacher say on numerous occasions that one should not help the needy because Paul said that those who won’t work, should not eat. That passage was ripped out of one of Paul’s epistles and had nothing to do with caring for the needy. If it did, the Bible would be in severe conflict with itself. (Read II Thess. 3:10 within the entire thrust of the epistle.). Evangelism is not a series of verses strung together, or a list of counter-argument verses. Over-reliance on proof-texts puts us into the same game as cultic groups sharing their faith. If our faith is truly the living out of God’s whole revelation, we don’t need to rely on proof-texting. <Yes… perhaps proof-texting has its place at times… but we should not become dependent on it. We need to truly understand what we believe and why we believe it.>
11. Salvation is often falsely advertised. Jesus, Peter, and Paul say that following Christ can (and perhaps will enevitably) lead to suffering. We often describe salvation as the free gift of God (and it is). However, Jesus also says we need to count the cost of following Him. To place ourselves under the control of God, and recognizing Him as Lord of what we do and who we are… is no trivial decision. To suggest that salvation is all positive (or will lead to only good things happening to us) is deceptive. God is not the source of deception. We should not be either.
I believe that Evangelism needs to be:
-Holistic. It is the outpouring of our words, thoughts, and actions, both as individuals and as a community of faith.
-Loving. It is motivated by love for God and love for our fellow man.
-Hearer-focused. We share because we truly care for the hearer, and seek to ensure that each individual hearer understands the message as well as they can… leaving the rest in the hands of the Holy Spirit.
-Respectiful. It is built from a foundation of understanding those around us and respecting them enough to hear, and value, what they have to say.
-Lived. It is not, first of all, a thing we say but a life we live. The things we say are to be consistent with our lives, and provide context to our behavior.
-Knowledgeable. We are sharing God’s truth, and speaking of Christ’s love and faithfulness. This is not a series of verses, it is our own testimony in Christ.