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Evangelism, Missions and the Persecuted Church discuss Do the Reformed Confessions Affirm the Duty of Evangelistic and Missionary Outreach? in the The Church forums; Brothers, It doesn't appear to me that the WCF, Savoy, or 1689 adequately articulate and underscore the church's and individual Christian's obligation vis-a-vis evangelistic and ...

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    Do the Reformed Confessions Affirm the Duty of Evangelistic and Missionary Outreach?

    Brothers,

    It doesn't appear to me that the WCF, Savoy, or 1689 adequately articulate and underscore the church's and individual Christian's obligation vis-a-vis evangelistic and missionary outreach (i.e., the Great Commission). Chris Coldwell has noted that Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 191 urges believers to pray for the spread of the gospel [C.C. see previous thread]. I haven't done a careful study of the Three Forms of Unity to venture an assessment on those continental symbols. I'm curious to get your input. Do you believe the Puritan confessions give sufficient space and attention to what is arguably one of the church's and Christian's central roles in a lost world? On a related note, would you agree with the Presbyterian theologian John Frame when he writes, "A church that is not preoccupied with reaching the unsaved is not merely a weak church; it is not properly a church at all"?
    Bob Gonzales Jr., Dean and Professor of Biblical Theology
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    The short answer to this is that Reformed Theology ordinarily sees evangelism as being done by discipleship through the local church. For example, in the PCA, a young person ordinarily makes a profession of faith to the Elders, is examined, and then becomes a "communing member." This happens regularly and it is evangelism.

    Many Reformed churches are heavily involved in "mission" work with the method being church planting, that is discipling a community.

    There is a tendency in Reformed Theology to teach the full counsel of God's Word, both Old and New Testaments, and draw out God's plan of redemption through that. The Confessions emphasize the authority and revelation of the person and work of Christ through Scripture, so it tends to come in that manner.

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    Most would say that, by extension, praying for God's Kingdom to Come is a prayer for at least some sort of expansion of Christianity.
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    Canons of Dort

    In the Second Head of Doctrine of the Canons of Dort, the part that deals with Limited Atonement, Article 5 says:

    Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.
    I think this is one of the best uses of the word promiscuous that I have ever heard!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    The short answer to this is that Reformed Theology ordinarily sees evangelism as being done by discipleship through the local church. For example, in the PCA, a young person ordinarily makes a profession of faith to the Elders, is examined, and then becomes a "communing member." This happens regularly and it is evangelism.

    Many Reformed churches are heavily involved in "mission" work with the method being church planting, that is discipling a community.
    Thanks, Scott. I don't doubt that many Reformed churches are doing missions and church planting. Moreover, I agree that evangelism should be done in connection with the local church. My primary question is whether the Reformed Confessions adequately articulate the church's obligation to fulfill this role. A secondary and related question: Is evangelism through discipleship is fulfilled solely by means of inviting unregenerate people to church so they can hear a gospel sermon? Or are individual members of a local church responsible to propagate the gospel both by life and also by lip?
    Bob Gonzales Jr., Dean and Professor of Biblical Theology
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    George Gillespie, one of the Scottish Commissioners to the Westminster Assembly, says this regarding the work of an Evangelist:
    'Tis therefore most agreeable to the Primitive pattern, that where Synods or at least Classes may be had, and are not by persecution scattered or hindred to meet, such as undertake either to goe & preach the Gospel to Infidels, Papifts, Turks or the like, or go about any negotiation abroad in any common bussines of the Church ought to be approved, and authorized by a nationall Synod, or (when that cannot be had, & if there be withal great danger in the delay) by a provinciall Synod, or at leaft, (where this cannot he had ) by a Classis. Treatise of Miscellany Questions 1649), Chapter VII, “Of Prophets and Evangelists, in what sense their work and vocation might be called extraordinary; and in what sense ordinary,” 96-97.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JTDyck View Post
    In the Second Head of Doctrine of the Canons of Dort, the part that deals with Limited Atonement, Article 5 says:

    Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.
    I think this is one of the best uses of the word promiscuous that I have ever heard!
    John, thanks for the citation. That article clearly defines the publication of the gospel as a duty. So it looks like one of the continental symbols provides a good statement. Do you think the framers of the Canons of Dort would have made a distinction between the ordained minister's role in publishing the gospel as proactive and the layman's role as reactive (ala 1 Peter 3:15)?
    Bob Gonzales Jr., Dean and Professor of Biblical Theology
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    Is evangelism through discipleship is fulfilled solely by means of inviting unregenerate people to church so they can hear a gospel sermon? Or are individual members of a local church responsible to propagate the gospel both by life and also by lip?
    No. It's part of all-of-life discipleship. One is a missionary whether a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker.

    God uses each of our lives as a means to reach the lost with the Gospel and to disciple one another in His Truth through the ordinary encounters in life. The difference is the Confessions don't emphasize pressing the lost to make "decisions" for God because man lost the natural ability to do so in the Fall.

    There is also particular emphasis on discipling in God's Word (all of it, including the Gospel) with the family, that is, the covenant family. There is a high priority placed there, too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JTDyck View Post
    In the Second Head of Doctrine of the Canons of Dort, the part that deals with Limited Atonement, Article 5 says:

    Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.
    I think this is one of the best uses of the word promiscuous that I have ever heard!


    J.L. Van Popta, Evangelism: The church's missionary task in the world (1)

    3. Canons of Dort

    The Canons of Dort can help us here. Many Reformed people think that the Canons are a difficult and dusty document. You study it once while you are in catechism. Then perhaps you study it once or twice more in your life at Men's or Women's Societies. There some keener will beat you over the head with it: "It says 'such and such' in Chapter 2 Article so and so of the Canons of Dort and therefore you are Arminian!" Then you tremble in your Sunday shoes and think, "Oh no, not me, I'm Reformed!" And you are cowed into silence.

    But the Canons of Dort, though the least known, are not a difficult nor dry theological treatise. In fact the Canons in their presentation of Election in Chapter 1 and Redemption in Chapter 2 lay a ground-work for all evangelistic and missionary efforts. The doctrine of election should cause Reformed confessors and Reformed Churches, of all confessors and churches, to have the greatest zeal for evangelism. A truly Reformed church is an evangelizing Church.

    The Canons of Dort 1 .1 -3 read:

    Since all men have sinned in Adam, lie under the curse, and deserve eternal death, God would have done no one an injustice if it had 314 been His will to leave the whole human race in sin and under the curse, and to condemn it on account of its sin, according to these words of the apostle: that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; and, the wages of sin is death.

    But then the gospel message!

    But in this the love of God was made manifest, that He sent His only-begotten Son into the world, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16.)

    So that men may be brought to faith, God mercifully sends heralds of this most joyful message to whom He will and when He wills. By their ministry men are called to repentance and to faith in Christ crucified. For how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent?

    And here you see the role of the church in mission and evangelism. As Calvin says, God uses the human voice to collect His church.

    The wrath of God remains upon those who do not believe this gospel. But those who receive it and embrace Jesus the Saviour with a true and living faith are delivered by Him from the wrath of God and from destruction, and are given eternal life.

    So then the only way to eternal life is through faith in Jesus Christ presented in the gospel.

    Chapter 2 Article 5 reads:

    The promise of the gospel is that whoever believes in Christ crucified shall not perish but have eternal life. This promise ought to be announced and proclaimed universally and without discrimination to all peoples and to all men, to whom God in His good pleasure sends the gospel, together with the command to repent and believe.

    The promise of the gospel is to be announced and proclaimed universally to all peoples and to all men. To nations and races - all peoples. To individuals all men. The promise comes: those who believe shall not perish. The command comes: you must repent from sin and believe. That is the bottom line of the gospel. A promise and demand that must go out to all and everyone, collectively and individually, without discrimination. The Canons of Dort highlight this evangelistic calling of the church and the task of God's people.

    Calvin points out that it is a deadness which would cause believers to be silent about the gospel. The Canons of Dort set out the biblical doctrine that the gospel must be proclaimed universally to all men. As Reformed confessors we note that it is Christ who gathers his church, but we then with the Canons and Calvin remember that Christ uses first of all, the human voice and the agency of men to do that gathering work.
    Andrew

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    Westminster Directory of Public Worship on Public Prayer before the Sermon:

    That the Lord would vouchsafe to shed abroad his love in our hearts by the Holy Ghost; seal unto us, by the same Spirit of adoption, the full assurance of our pardon and reconciliation; comfort all that mourn in Zion, speak peace to the wounded and troubled spirit, and bind up the broken-hearted: and as for secure and presumptuous sinners, that he would open their eyes, convince their consciences, and turn them from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they also may receive forgiveness of sin, and an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Christ Jesus.

    With remission of sins through the blood of Christ, to pray for sanctification by his Spirit; the mortification of sin dwelling in and many times tyrannizing over us; the quickening of our dead spirits with the life of God in Christ; grace to fit and enable us for all duties of conversation and callings towards God and men; strength against temptations; the sanctified use of blessings and crosses; and perseverance in faith and obedience unto the end.

    To pray for the propagation of the gospel and kingdom of Christ to all nations; for the conversion of the Jews, the fulness of the Gentiles, the fall of Antichrist, and the hastening of the second coming of our Lord; for the deliverance of the distressed churches abroad from the tyranny of the antichristian faction, and from the cruel oppressions and blasphemies of the Turk; for the blessing of God upon the reformed churches, especially upon the churches and kingdoms of Scotland, England, and Ireland, now more strictly and religiously united in the Solemn National League and Covenant; and for our plantations in the remote parts of the world: more particularly for that church and kingdom whereof we are members, that therein God would establish peace and truth , the purity of all his ordinances, and the power of godliness; prevent and remove heresy, schism, profaneness, superstition, security, and unfruitfulness under the means of grace; heal all our rents and divisions, and preserve us from breach of our Solemn Covenant.

    To pray for all in authority, especially for the King's Majesty; that God would make him rich in blessings, both in his person and government; establish his throne in religion and righteousness, save him from evil counsel, and make him a blessed and glorious instrument for the conservation and propagation of the gospel, for the encouragement and protection of them that do well, the terror of all that do evil, and the great good of the whole church, and of all his kingdoms; for the conversion of the Queen, the religious education of the Prince, and the rest of the royal seed; for the comforting of the afflicted Queen of Bohemia, sister to our Sovereign; and for the restitution and establishment of the illustrious Prince Charles, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, to all his dominions and dignities; for a blessing upon the High Court of Parliament, (when sitting in any of these kingdoms respectively,) the nobility, the subordinate judges and magistrates, the gentry, and all the commonality; for all pastors and teachers, that God would fill them with his Spirit, make them exemplarily holy, sober, just, peaceable, and gracious in their lives; sound, faithful, and powerful in their ministry; and follow all their labours with abundance of success and blessing; and give unto all his people pastors according to his own heart; for the universities, and all schools and religious seminaries of church and commonwealth, that they may flourish more and more in learning and piety; for the particular city or congregation, that God would pour out a blessing upon the ministry of the word, sacraments, and discipline, upon the civil government, and all the several families and persons therein; for mercy to the afflicted under any inward or outward distress; for seasonable weather, and fruitful seasons, as the time may require; for averting the judgments that we either feel or fear, or are liable unto as famine, pestilence, the sword, and such like.
    Andrew

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    [quote=Scott1;465804]
    No. It's part of all-of-life discipleship. One is a missionary whether a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker. God uses each of our lives as a means to reach the lost with the Gospel and to disciple one another in His Truth through the ordinary encounters in life.
    That sounds good to me.

    The difference is the Confessions don't emphasize pressing the lost to make "decisions" for God because man lost the natural ability to do so in the Fall.
    Am I wrong to assume that the framers of the confessions believed in preaching the free offer of the gospel? Doesn't God's word call on sinners (indiscriminately) to repent of their sin and to believe in Christ? Does this entail a "decision" on the part of the sinner? Of course, I'm against what's often called "easy-believism" evangelism. But didn't our forefather's plead with men to "close with Christ"?

    There is also particular emphasis on discipling in God's Word (all of it, including the Gospel) with the family, that is, the covenant family. There is a high priority placed there, too.
    I definitely agree that parents should evangelize and disciple their children. I think, if I'm not mistaken, that was one of the great purposes of the confessions and catechisms.
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    See CHAPTER XVIII, Of The Ministers of The Church, Their Institution and Duties in the Second Helvetic Confession on how God uses ministers to build the church.
    Andrew

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    Great questions.


    Dr. Bob Gonzales

    The difference is the Confessions don't emphasize pressing the lost to make "decisions" for God because man lost the natural ability to do so in the Fall.

    Am I wrong to assume that the framers of the confessions believed in preaching the free offer of the gospel? Doesn't God's word call on sinners (indiscriminately) to repent of their sin and to believe in Christ? Does this entail a "decision" on the part of the sinner? Of course, I'm against what's often called "easy-believism" evangelism. But didn't our forefather's plead with men to "close with Christ"?
    We get into deeper theology here.

    Basically, Reformed Theology recognizes an "outward call" and an "inward call." The outward call is done when the Gospel is explained to people. The inward call is something only God the Holy Sprit can do, in accordance with God's will in eternity past (eg God decided this before the person was created, born).

    When God (unilateraly) regenerates a person, something happens to the constituent nature of a human being. They are not the same ever again. This regeneration affects every aspect of man's being (mind, will, soul, etc) and inclines the person to Christ. They were not inclined that way before God did this. Immediately, God gives faith to believe in Christ and to rest on that for salvation, something the person could not do before- they could not rest on this because they had a tendancy, a bias, a bondage toward sin before.

    After God regenerates (effectually calls with an inward call) and gives faith, the person is free to "decide" for God and the person most freely does because now they really want to- because God changed their nature. This is marvellous.

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    Bob,

    I think the issue is that Reformed Word and Sacrament are measured against revival techniques more than Scripture in many cases and that assumptions about what constitues "Evangelistic and Missionary Outreach" are very rarely examined to determine if they are Scriptural and, in fact, whether or not they actually do the good that many actually believe they do.

    I'm not the kind that likes to throw the baby and the bathwater out and acknowledge that there can be a complacency about being prepared to give an account for the hope that lies within. Nevertheless, what has supplanted Word and Sacrament in many corners is a success-oriented pragmatism that sees Church as too slow or inadequate for the job of reaching the lost.

    The irony, however, is that as soon as a man strikes out on his own, apart from the Church, it is impossible to fulfill the Great Commission. Why? Because we are commanded to make disciples: 1) baptizing them and 2) teaching them everything the Lord commanded us.

    What alarms me is not that the Reformed Church has a way of reaching the lost that I believe is completely Scriptural but that many that call themselves Reformed abandon Word, Sacrament, and Discipline and imitate the people that are "getting results". Seeing the results firsthand, I don't believe there is much that ought to be imitated.

    I was recently very saddened to visit a Church in the NoVA area that was reporting on a mission trip to Peru. Teenage children of the members of the Church had done some good work for their neighbors in Peru and even helped a missionary with catechism. What was sad, however, was that the "testimonies" of these teenagers was a mis-apprehension of the Gospel itself and the missionary work was seen as a way to "get serious" about God as a way to draw near to Him. The poor children they were helping were viewed as "closer to God" because of their circumstances. As the young men and women recounted their "favorite verse" eisegesis ran rampant - especially true for one of the older men in the congregation known both for his zeal but, unfortunately, for his misapprehension of Scripture passages.

    What is misfiring at this Church that has zeal for "missions" is that they're not firing on the "teaching them everything Christ commanded" cylinder. In other words, they have disciples in their midst and they do not train them. "Outreach" is seen as a higher priority than training. Thus, what is typical of many Churches today are ignorant disciples that are concerned about outreach to add to the ignorant Body of Christ.

    I don't say this with arrogance but with sadness at the testimony of these disciples who are supposed to be trained. Left un-checked, many of these zealous adults and teens are borderline Pelagians. There's absolutlely no "borderline" about it at Churches that are not Reformed at all and I've seen Pelagianism on full display across the Evangelical spectrum.

    Hence, you ask about evangelistic and missionary outreach in the Confessions and seem to assume it's not there because it appears that something explicit to the notions of "outreach" as currently defined must be found. I would argue that evangelism and missions are implied and will naturally result when Word, Sacrament and Discipline are Biblically applied.
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    One is a missionary whether a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker.


    I would like to explore this.

    If every Christian is a missionary, than no one really is.


    A missionary is one who is sent out. Your local butcher is not sent out anywhere except for your local environs. Acts gives us examples of those home local churches sent out and who went far to preach teh Gospel. This seems to be the missionary pattern.
    Pergamum


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    For some Puritan works on evangelism (see Joel Beeke, Puritan Evangelism; Erroll Hulse, Add to the Church: The Puritan Approach to Persuading Souls; Sidney H. Rooy, The Theology of Missions in the Puritan Tradition: A Study of Representative Puritans: Richard Sibbes, Richard Baxter, John Eliot, Cotton Mather & Jonathan Edwards; and James A. De Jong, As the Waters Cover the Sea: Millennial Expectations in the Rise of Anglo-American Missions 1640-1810 for a few modern treatments), see:

    Samuel Lee, What Means may be used towards the Conversion of our Carnal Relations?, Puritan Sermons 1:142-69
    George Hamond, How May Private Christians be Most Helpful to Promote the Entertainment of the Gospel?, Puritan Sermons 4:410-36
    Daniel Burgess, Wherein may we More Hopefully Attempt the Conversion of Younger People, than of Others?, Puritan Sermons 4:550-84
    Thomas Boston, The Art of Man-Fishing
    Andrew

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    RICH:

    Not sure why "outreach" and "training" even need to be done separately.

    Jesus took his students with him as he ministered. There was outrech during the training and Jesus used the training to do outreach it seems... an action-oriented mentorship whereby Jesus lectured his students, engaged in Q and A and even gave out assignments (the 70) and checked back on results.
    Pergamum


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    One is a missionary whether a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker.


    I would like to explore this.

    If every Christian is a missionary, than no one really is.


    A missionary is one who is sent out. Your local butcher is not sent out anywhere except for your local environs. Acts gives us examples of those home local churches sent out and who went far to preach teh Gospel. This seems to be the missionary pattern.
    Not to discount at all the hard work you are doing out there in the hinterlands as a missionary.

    Generally, Reformed would see you as an Evangelist or Church Planter (Church officer under authority) whereas the all-of-life discipleship for every Believer makes them a missionary (in a sense) in whatever sphere God calls them.

    Whereas broad evangelicalism tends to dichotomize sacred and secular, Reformed tends to see a unity of the two, all-of-life discipleship of every Believer.
    Scott
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    One is a missionary whether a butcher, baker, or candlestick maker.


    I would like to explore this.

    If every Christian is a missionary, than no one really is.


    A missionary is one who is sent out. Your local butcher is not sent out anywhere except for your local environs. Acts gives us examples of those home local churches sent out and who went far to preach teh Gospel. This seems to be the missionary pattern.
    Not to discount at all the hard work you are doing out there in the hinterlands as a missionary.

    Generally, Reformed would see you as an Evangelist or Church Planter (Church officer under authority) whereas the all-of-life discipleship for every Believer makes them a missionary (in a sense) in whatever sphere God calls them.

    Whereas broad evangelicalism tends to dichotomize sacred and secular, Reformed tends to see a unity of the two, all-of-life discipleship of every Believer.
    Those distinctions sound good to me. Please explain more, you've made some interesting points.
    Pergamum


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    Quote Originally Posted by Pergamum View Post
    RICH:

    Not sure why "outreach" and "training" even need to be done separately.

    Jesus took his students with him as he ministered. There was outrech during the training and Jesus used the training to do outreach it seems... an action-oriented mentorship whereby Jesus lectured his students, engaged in Q and A and even gave out assignments (the 70) and checked back on results.
    I don't believe they need to be separate. My point is that training is often neglected as if outreach is the sole goal of the Great Commission.
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    Please explain more, you've made some interesting points.
    In Reformed Theology, power tends to be de-centralized, especially to individuals and families. This comes partly from the "priesthood of all believers." Everything should not be dependent on the Minister, Elders or Deacons not merely for pragmatic reasons but because, biblically, each man stands as his own priest before God.

    If God gives such responsibility to disciple to each believer, its not hard seeing each person as being a "missionary."

    For example, someone called to be a computer architectural engineer is a "missionary" there, in that sphere as much as someone who braves the wilds of Africa to take the Gospel there. One can see how that view makes for a higher level of involvement for "layman" in the church because this is part of the all-of-life discipleship they are called to. One can also see this is a context which much Reformed evangelism gets done (Dr Gonzales).

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    RICH

    Amen. "disciple" all nations, not merely get them in the door....
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Bob Gonzales View Post
    Brothers,

    It doesn't appear to me that the WCF, Savoy, or 1689 adequately articulate and underscore the church's and individual Christian's obligation vis-a-vis evangelistic and missionary outreach (i.e., the Great Commission). Chris Coldwell has noted that Westminster Larger Catechism Q&A 191 urges believers to pray for the spread of the gospel [C.C. see previous thread]. I haven't done a careful study of the Three Forms of Unity to venture an assessment on those continental symbols. I'm curious to get your input. Do you believe the Puritan confessions give sufficient space and attention to what is arguably one of the church's and Christian's central roles in a lost world? On a related note, would you agree with the Presbyterian theologian John Frame when he writes, "A church that is not preoccupied with reaching the unsaved is not merely a weak church; it is not properly a church at all"?
    I believe this points out the superiority of the Westminster Standards when taken as a whole over Savoy or the LBC insofar as the Confession is a "this is what we believe" document while the Catechisms are more "this is what we do" oriented. Missions and evangelism are not a thing that lends itself to confessional language, IMO.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    Please explain more, you've made some interesting points.
    In Reformed Theology, power tends to be de-centralized, especially to individuals and families. This comes partly from the "priesthood of all believers." Everything should not be dependent on the Minister, Elders or Deacons not merely for pragmatic reasons but because, biblically, each man stands as his own priest before God.
    Are you sure about this? Here on the PB the concept of "every member ministry" has been criticized.
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    the concept of "every member ministry" has been criticized.
    There is definate ecclesiastical authority in church office but all-of-life discipleship and the priesthood of all believers are very much a part of Reformed theology.

    Remember what Martin Luther told the shoemaker who got saved when the shoemaker asked him, what must I now do? The shoemaker was thinking he had to go away and become a minister.

    Martin Luther told him, "Be a better shoemaker."

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    I want to thank all of you for the helpful input. I also want to make it clear that my posted question is not motivated by any doubts that the Puritans believed in and practiced evangelism. (I'm excluding the strain of hyper-Calvinism that seemed to develop in the 18th century.) And I agree with the many comments that emphasize the importance of a biblically holistic and church-centered form of evangelism and missions. My original question was, "Do the Reformed Confessions Affirm the Duty of Evangelistic and Missionary Outreach?" It appears that the Canons of Dort make this affirmation. It also appears that the Directory for Worship and Larger Catechism at least encourage God's people to pray for the progress of the gospel. And I suppose that we might infer that the duty of evangelism and missions is inferred in the confessional statements related to the ministry of the Word and sacraments.

    But in a day when we no longer live in a sacral society and the majority of our fellow citizens do not attend church, is it still adequate to have a confessional statement from which we may only infer one of the church's central roles in the world? Moreover, doesn't inferring the duty of evangelistic outreach and missions from statements affirming "the ministry of the word" run the risk of downplaying the layman's role in evangelism? I have heard that some Reformed Christians believe the pastor or missionary's role is to be proactive, whereas the layman's role is to be reactive or responsive. This gives the impression, at least to me, that the layperson is only to share the gospel when asked by an unbeliever. Are any of you aware of this view? Was this view advocated by any of the Reformers or Puritans?
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    Willem Teellinck in The Path of True Godliness, p. 132ff identifies the "third purpose of our lives: to promote our neighbor's salvation" and speaks at great length about the duty of Christians to witness to others.

    Heidelberg Catechism:

    Q. 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?

    A. Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own image; that so we may testify by the whole of our conduct our gratitude to God for His blessings,1 and that He may be praised by us;2 also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith by the fruits thereof; 3 and that by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.4

    4 1 Pet. 3:1, 2—Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Matt. 5:16—Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Rom. 14:19—Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
    BTW, a useful, indexed resource for studying the Three Forms of Unity and other confessional documents may be found here:

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    Please explain more, you've made some interesting points.
    In Reformed Theology, power tends to be de-centralized, especially to individuals and families. This comes partly from the "priesthood of all believers." Everything should not be dependent on the Minister, Elders or Deacons not merely for pragmatic reasons but because, biblically, each man stands as his own priest before God.

    If God gives such responsibility to disciple to each believer, its not hard seeing each person as being a "missionary."

    For example, someone called to be a computer architectural engineer is a "missionary" there, in that sphere as much as someone who braves the wilds of Africa to take the Gospel there. One can see how that view makes for a higher level of involvement for "layman" in the church because this is part of the all-of-life discipleship they are called to. One can also see this is a context which much Reformed evangelism gets done (Dr Gonzales).
    Scott, thanks for these comments. I tend to agree with this perspective. I recognize that there's a distinction between an officially recognized and commissioned "Missionary" (with a capital 'M') and a layperson "missionary" (with a little 'm'). But I like the idea of encouraging all God's people to be "missionaries" where God has placed them in their respective vocations. Part of that involves being faithful at one's God-given task (e.g., making shoes). But I think it should entail more than living a good life and doing good work. Individuals should seek and pray for open doors to communicate the gospel. The Baptist Faith and Message (2000), Article XI: Evangelism & Missions, clearly articulates this calling:
    "It is the duty and privilege of every follower of Christ and of every church of the Lord Jesus Christ to endeavor to make disciples of all nations. The new birth of man’s spirit by God’s Holy Spirit means that birth of love for others. Missionary effort on the part of all rests thus upon a spiritual necessity of the regenerate life, and is expressly commanded in the teachings of Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has commanded the preaching of the gospel to all nations. It is the duty of every child of God to seek constantly to win the lost to Christ by verbal witness undergirded by a Christian lifestyle, and by other methods in harmony with the gospel of Christ."
    I wish that the WCF, Savoy, and 1689 contained such an affirmation. What do others think?
    Bob Gonzales Jr., Dean and Professor of Biblical Theology
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    Heidelberg Catechism:

    Q. 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?

    A. Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own image; that so we may testify by the whole of our conduct our gratitude to God for His blessings,1 and that He may be praised by us;2 also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith by the fruits thereof; 3 and that by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.
    Andrew, thanks for the quote from the Heidelberg. By "conversation," are they merely referring to one's lifestyle? Or do they also intend the verbal proclamation of the gospel?
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    I believe this points out the superiority of the Westminster Standards when taken as a whole over Savoy or the LBC insofar as the Confession is a "this is what we believe" document while the Catechisms are more "this is what we do" oriented. Missions and evangelism are not a thing that lends itself to confessional language, IMO.
    I'm willing to concede that the Westminster Standards taken as a whole say more about evangelistic and missionary endeavor than the Savoy and 1689. My second post on "The Danger of Reformed Traditionalism" highlighted this deficiency in the 1689. I'm not so sure that I agree that "missions and evangelism are not a thing that lends itself to confessional language." Apparently, the authors of the Canons of Dort did not think so. And denominations like the Southern Baptists have accorded this role of the Church and Christian confessional status. In a context where non-Reformed churches often accuse Calvinism and Reformed theology of a lack of concern for evangelism and missions (an accusation with which I do not agree), wouldn't it be helpful to include in our declaration to fellow Christians and the world what we actually believe about this? If the Lord Jesus expressly and frequently taught on this subject, then doesn't it merit a fuller treatment in our confessions? If professor John Frame's assertion, "A church that is not preoccupied with reaching the unsaved is not merely a weak church; it is not properly a church at all," contains a substantial element of truth, then it would seem that an entire paragraph on the church's and Christian's evangelistic and missionary role in the world would enhance our confessions rather than harm them.
    Last edited by Dr. Bob Gonzales; 09-13-2008 at 06:36 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Bob Gonzales View Post
    Heidelberg Catechism:

    Q. 86. Since then we are delivered from our misery merely of grace, through Christ, without any merit of ours, why must we still do good works?

    A. Because Christ, having redeemed and delivered us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own image; that so we may testify by the whole of our conduct our gratitude to God for His blessings,1 and that He may be praised by us;2 also, that every one may be assured in himself of his faith by the fruits thereof; 3 and that by our godly conversation others may be gained to Christ.
    Andrew, thanks for the quote from the Heidelberg. By "conversation," are they merely referring to one's lifestyle? Or do they also intend the verbal proclamation of the gospel?
    I believe the meaning is primarily one's lifestyle or conduct, but I think the word is broad enough to encompass one's words as well as deeds. I would not understand the word "proclamation" in proper reference to the sharing of the gospel by one layman to another, personally, reserving that usage for the preaching of the word by a herald, or minister, of the gospel, but Johannes Vanderkamp make a point of saying in his exposition of the HC that "we should also seek by word and conversation to convert those who are wholly unconverted." We should certainly conduct ourselves, by word and deed, in such a way that others will see the grace of God working in us, and engage / be engaged by we who love the Lord.
    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Bob Gonzales View Post
    But in a day when we no longer live in a sacral society and the majority of our fellow citizens do not attend church, is it still adequate to have a confessional statement from which we may only infer one of the church's central roles in the world? Moreover, doesn't inferring the duty of evangelistic outreach and missions from statements affirming "the ministry of the word" run the risk of downplaying the layman's role in evangelism? I have heard that some Reformed Christians believe the pastor or missionary's role is to be proactive, whereas the layman's role is to be reactive or responsive. This gives the impression, at least to me, that the layperson is only to share the gospel when asked by an unbeliever. Are any of you aware of this view? Was this view advocated by any of the Reformers or Puritans?
    I would argue that, in a day saturated by the idea of winning souls for Christ that what needs to be more explicit is the need for the Church. I honestly don't believe that men and women have a problem being zealous. We see that in every form of religion, whether false or true. What men and women need is to have their zeal focused more properly.

    Catechetical instruction is severely impoverished in many corners. Not only do men and women not understand the need to mature in knowledge but many Pastors and Elders are severely negligent to the task. The training aspect of the Great Commission is boldly explicit in both the Scriptures and the Confessions and it is neglected to the harm of true Evangelism. Mind you I'm not talking about wooden repetition of theological facts as the solution but you simply cannot have true spiritual growth without instruction.

    As I note in the mini-article on our site about why Reformed theology is important, the problem in most Churches today is an impoverishment of the Gospel itself. I think neglect in instruction in one generation (or in the case of Evangelical Americans several generations) leads to neglect of the Gospel itself in subsequent generations. Fundamentalist Churches once had a form of the Gospel but had little or no training in the things of Christ. The fruit is now Churches that have neither. Reformed Churches are still preaching the Gospel but I'm wont to find many that take training very seriously and I'm already seeing the fruit in generations that follow.

    I know I'm sort of meandering but my basic point is that if a Church is faithfully preaching the Word, administering the Sacraments, and fully engaged in training the sheep and spurring them on to love and good works then fruit takes care of itself. That's not to say that the occasional boot in the butt is not needed but it is to say that the lack of zeal toward the lost can be attributed to poor discipleship and the fact that that zeal is for a different Gospel in other circles owes to a lack of true preaching and discipleship.
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    1689 LBC on the gospel

    1689 LBC 20.3

    therefore in all ages, the preaching of the gospel has been granted into persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the council of the will of God.
    The preaching of the gospel has not only been granted, it is commanded. This the essence of evangelism. Methodologies may differ but the message cannot.

    Conclusion? The confessions speak on evangelism.
    Bill Brown
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    There are a lot of good comments here.

    At the root of this, is soteriology. If you believe man is ultimately responsible for his own salvation, you tend to behave one way, in the church and individually.

    On the other, if you believe God is ultimately responsible for salvation, you behave another. If you believe that, your life is full of praise and obedience for what you could never have done for yourself.

    Reformed Theology sees more that the job of the church is to worship Him and to make His invisible Kingdom visible, not to press people for "decisions" outside of the context of His Church.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Semper Fidelis View Post
    Catechetical instruction is severely impoverished in many corners. Not only do men and women not understand the need to mature in knowledge but many Pastors and Elders are severely negligent to the task. The training aspect of the Great Commission is boldly explicit in both the Scriptures and the Confessions and it is neglected to the harm of true Evangelism. Mind you I'm not talking about wooden repetition of theological facts as the solution but you simply cannot have true spiritual growth without instruction.
    Just to highlight this important, but often-neglected point, as Joel Beeke says in his chapter on "Catechetical Evangelism" in Puritan Evangelism, p. 66, "Third, catechizing was a follow-up to sermons and a way to reach neighbors with the gospel." That is a key component, imo, of the kind of evangelism to which the Bible speaks and the Puritans embraced, that is, discipleship.
    Andrew

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    Quote Originally Posted by North Jersey Baptist View Post
    1689 LBC 20.3

    therefore in all ages, the preaching of the gospel has been granted into persons and nations, as to the extent or straitening of it, in great variety, according to the council of the will of God.
    The preaching of the gospel has not only been granted, it is commanded. This the essence of evangelism. Methodologies may differ but the message cannot.

    Conclusion? The confessions speak on evangelism.
    Bill, thanks for the citation. I was aware of that statement, but wasn't convinced the language "it is granted ... according to the council of the will of God" communicates clearly the idea of command since in the subject of paragraph 3 seems to be referring to God's sovereign dispensation in determining where the gospel is preached. Baptist historian Tom Nettles seems to think the duty of sharing the gospel could be more clearly underscored in this chapter and offers "A Suggested Addition to the Second London Confession." Here's what he adds to paragraph 3, a portion of which you cited:
    His secret will and good pleasure in this wise providence, however, is not the rule of our action; but rather his church must be governed by his commission of the gospel to all nations as the means of their calling. The apostolic work of careful dissemination, defense, and confirmation of the Gospel among all nations bore fruit only by virtue of the sovereign, inscrutable, and insuperable work of the Spirit embedding the preached word with vital power, and at the same time manifested the apostolic understanding of his command to make disciples. [Acts 13:48; Philippians 1:6; Colossians 1:3-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:4-7; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-15; 2 Timothy 2:8-10; James 1:17, 18; 1 Peter 1:22-25]
    I'd be interested to know your thoughts about such an addition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    Reformed Theology sees more that the job of the church is to worship Him and to make His invisible Kingdom visible, not to press people for "decisions" outside of the context of His Church.
    Scott, I don't see the need for a dichotomy. Pauline theology informs us to call men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. I like to think Reformed theology is consistent with Paul.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    There are a lot of good comments here.

    At the root of this, is soteriology. If you believe man is ultimately responsible for his own salvation, you tend to behave one way, in the church and individually.

    On the other, if you believe God is ultimately responsible for salvation, you behave another. If you believe that, your life is full of praise and obedience for what you could never have done for yourself.

    Reformed Theology sees more that the job of the church is to worship Him and to make His invisible Kingdom visible, not to press people for "decisions" outside of the context of His Church.
    Scott,
    If you are speaking to someone outside of the church and working through a gospel presentaton, why not just work at combining some of the strong aspects of both evangelism and discipleship that have been mentioned in this thread.
    Explain That when God draws someone to Jesus , he places them into His body, the church, to come under the authority of a God called eldership. That church life is vital to spiritual growth, and gospel responsibilities.
    Explain that body life among the called out sheep is commanded by The Lord Jesus.
    Walk the person through 1Cor 12, and explain what you understand theologically, yet use the language that Paul used which was very easy to understand.
    Anthony D'Arienzo
    Hope Reformed Baptist Church:
    Medford, N.Y.
    All that die have not the plague, and all that perish eternally are not guilty of the same profligate sins.The covetous are excluded from the kingdom of God no less severely than fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, and thieves, 1 Corinthians 6:9,10.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Bob Gonzales View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Scott1 View Post
    Reformed Theology sees more that the job of the church is to worship Him and to make His invisible Kingdom visible, not to press people for "decisions" outside of the context of His Church.
    Scott, I don't see the need for a dichotomy. Pauline theology informs us to call men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel. I like to think Reformed theology is consistent with Paul.
    Agreed. I think the Gospel always goes forward with an imperative that the hearer is under obligation to believe. What I think makes Reformed theology distinctive is that it recognizes that the Holy Spirit converts and not extraordinary measures.

    I wrote this article about 2 years ago when the Franklin Graham festival was in full swing in Okinawa: The Franklin Graham Festival in Okinawa and the Degeneration of Protestant Ecclesiology | SoliDeoGloria.com

    It is characteristic of many people today to throw caution to the wind when it comes to telling people about Jesus as if simply making sure the maximum number of people hear about Him is what the goal is. Literally, people simply did not care what the Franklin Graham reps taught from the pulpit. It didn't matter how much eisegesis was used in order to motivate people to beat the bricks so that they would get the maximum number of "unsaved" people to the Festival. Of course, my problem with the whole mess was that these "converts" were plugged into Churches that made them twice as fit for Hell but most people have an attitude that it doesn't matter how you finish but merely hearing and responding is important.
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    I was aware of that statement, but wasn't convinced the language "it is granted ... according to the council of the will of God" communicates clearly the idea of command since in the subject of paragraph 3 seems to be referring to God's sovereign dispensation in determining where the gospel is preached.
    Bob,

    I believe there is a principle embedded in scripture that when God bequeaths a stewardship to His church, it is not optional as to whether we are to use it (Matt. 25:13-30; 2 Tim. 4:2). The gospel is such a stewardship (1 Cor. 9:16-17). IMHO if it's not optional than it's a command. I believe this command is given to the church corporate and ministers of the gospel specifically. Therefore, the church is commanded to evangelize through the preaching of the gospel. But in the OP your question was directed at two groups: the church corporate and individuals. Not every person can preach. But everyone can employ an evangelistic heart in the presence of their family, friends, classmates and coworkers.

    As to the "addition" of the 1689 LBC that you quoted, it's not bad. I don't have any theological objection to it at first glance. That said, we only have one 1689 LBC. Given the nature of Baptist polity I suppose an individual church can choose to supplement the confession.
    Bill Brown
    Elder
    Grace Baptist Church
    Student at Midwest Center for Theological Studies


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