How should Calvinists evangelize?

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by biblelighthouse, Jul 3, 2005.

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  1. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    My cousin Jeremy just joined the Puritanboard . . . everybody give him a warm welcome!

    He made this great post at the end of a long thread . . . but I think it's worth pulling out as a seperate thread. (I've noticed that we are generally a lot more responsive to new threads, than we are to new questions posed at the end of already existing threads.)

    Anyway, everybody toss in your :2cents: on this great question:

    I think a lot of new Calvinists have similar questions. So, what are your thoughts?
     
  2. ReformedWretch

    ReformedWretch Puritan Board Doctor

    Wow, I struggle with the same issues! Last night at work a lady was telling me how she was going to go to the local "Free CHurch" for counseling with her kids. I wanted to badly to tell her to come to our church, but we offer nothing like that. Our pastor is wonderful and I am sure would have spoken to her at length, but we have no official counseling etc.

    It seems that evangelicals have more "stuff" to offer hurting people than we do and that annoys me to no end.
     
  3. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    :ditto: I totally agree with you!!!!!

    Of course, I am definitely not for watering down the sermons or the worship time. But I completely agree with your gripe, and I wish that more of the Calvinistic, biblically-sound churches would realize that it is important to have multiple programs and activites to get people more involved, and also to help people. Is the teaching of the Word most important? Certainly! But sometimes people aren't interested in listening to preaching until they first are touched by some other ministry of the church. So if offering various ministries helps bring people in so that they hear the Word, then so be it.

    I'm with you, Adam.
     
  4. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Jeremy, I guess I already swerved away from the original post a bit . . . let me get back on track . . .

    How should a Calvinist share the Gospel?

    As for me, I guess you would have to say I just "share and wait". I try to clearly teach the Gospel to those who are not Christians, but then I do not encourage them to "pray the sinner's prayer" or "walk the aisle", or anything like that.

    Only God can bring about conversion. I can only plant the seeds for it. Once God chooses to regenerate a person's heart, it will certainly happen, regardless of me. And me pushing a person can't make him/her come around any faster.

    So I plant the seeds, and then just patiently wait for God to make them sprout whenever He chooses.
     
  5. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked

    Well,

    I definitely qualify as a "new Calvinist" having only embraced the Reformed Faith one year ago. Prior to that I was a dispensationalist for 10 years who pretty much subscribed to the oxymoron of "decisional evangelism with eternally secure results". The following really helped clarify this for me. Athough I believe that Gospel Preaching is most effective as the Sciptures are exposited from the Pulpit, by a trained and duly ordained minster of the Gospel, the question: "how do we get the unsaved to Church so they can hear?" is still present.

    The "confrontational technique" presented in a portion of the linked article looks pretty good - especially if one the individuals doing the confronting is capable of competently defending the faith. In my experience, the ability to defend the Faith "on the spot" is often the most valuable skill that a Christian can have - especially if you live and work in an intellectual community.

    The beautiful thing about the Reformed Faith is that God is completely sovereign in His election of grace, and that salvation is a monergistic work wrought by God via regeneration and the simultaneous gifts of faith and repentance to the elected individual. It would seem that we are not trying to "get decisions for Jesus" but to make Him visible as local expressions of the Covenant Community.

    I do have many remaining questions about this issue. For example, based on the sovereignty of God, how do we pray for the unbeliever - or do we? Are there examples of Biblical Prayers for this?
     
  6. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    How should Calvinists evangelize?

    Biblically! Be responsible; Be obedient.

    1Co 3:5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?
    1Co 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

    Heb 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;

    Be prayerful!

    1Th 5:17 Pray without ceasing.

    1Ti 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

    Believers should be confident:

    Joh 6:37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.


    [Edited on 7-3-2005 by Scott Bushey]
     
  7. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    :welcome: to Jeremy! I have been recently sorting through this as well. I believe we are to be armed to the teeth with the Word of God. We are to be salt and light wherever we are. We are to be ready to haven an answer for the hope that lies within us.

    Colossians 4:5-6
    5 Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time.
    6 Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.

    1 Peter 3:15-16
    15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
    16 having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

    If I do talk to someone who is unsaved I make sure I speak the gospel to them and don't worry about other stuff. If it is fellow Christian then I will give an answer on any subject they are interested in, excepting in the case of an arminian. I will try to lace everything I say about other subjects back to the gospel. They almost all of the lead right back to that anyway.

    I as a woman would not street preach. I don't think it proper for an unordained person to street preach. I think as it says in Roman 10 that a minister of the gospel should be "sent." They should be annointed or ordained as such by a ruling body after they have been examined. Otherwise you may have preachers out there who may teach error. This is never good. I believe that God will raise up the preachers He needs to this end. He will reach all of His sheep one way or another.

    I pray constantly for my unsaved family and friends. I minister to my children along side my husband. They are my top priority as a parent. If God puts someone in your path you may be His plan to water a seed He has planted. Be ready as the Bible says.

    This gives me and idea for a poll. :)
     
  8. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior


    Brian, welcome to the puritanboard! It's good to have you here. :welcome:

    I do believe we should pray for unbelievers. In John 17, Jesus Himself prayed not only for those who were believers then, but also for those who would become believers later. However, He did not pray for everyone in the whole world (cf. John 17:9).
    Unlike Jesus, we do not know who is elect and who is not. So I believe we should pray for the salvation of people, while keeping in the back of our minds that God has not elected everyone to salvation.

    Pray, pray, pray! And if you accidentally end up praying for someone who's not elect, I don't think God will hold it against you. :) It's times like that when we can pray, "not my will, but Thine be done".

    [Edited on 7-3-2005 by biblelighthouse]
     
  9. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Keep in mind, God brings the increase!

    1Co 2:1 And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.

    You never know what foundation you are building upon; for all you know, you will read John 11:35, "Jesus Wept" and the person becomes regenerate!

    Mat 21:15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
    Mat 21:16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?

    Perfect praise! Even from those at the breast.
     
  10. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior


    Amen, Scott! I hear another presumptive regeneration discussion coming on . . .

    :D
     
  11. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Bite your tongue Joseph!:pilgrim:
     
  12. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior


    ::gasp::

    . . . trying . . . very hard . . . to bite . . . my poor little tongue . . .

    :D
     
  13. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked

    Scott,

    I in no way mean to distract from the simplicity of the Gospel. Ideally, we should never be ashamed or embarrassed to proclaim the wonders of Christ's redeeming grace; although how often do we all fail this in some way - I know I do. The following gives me hope:

    Romans 1:13-17 (ESV) I want you to know, brothers,* that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians,* both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,* as it is written, "œThe righteous shall live by faith."

    This porition of scripture is pretty clear that Paul's mission included both "the wise" (GK: sophos - the "skilled" i.e. those to whom the faith might have to be defended as part of preaching the gospel) and the "foolish" (GK: anoetos - the unintelligent. of these Calvin says: "All teachers have also a rule here which they are to follow, and that is, modestly and kindly to accommodate themselves to the capacities of the ignorant and unlearned.").

    Clearly, in the balance of Romans, the Holy Spirit inspires Paul to elucidate the greatest manifesto of systematic Christian doctrine known in history - a veritable defense of the Christian faith.

    [Edited on 7-3-2005 by BrianBowman]
     
  14. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Agreed. I, as well, in no way want to detract from being prepared in season and out. I am only trying to point out that we shouldn't worry as it is God who gives the increase.

    2Ti 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
     
  15. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked

    :ditto:

    This is the glory of "being a Calvinist". God gives the increase and we are simply "unprofitable servants". :amen:
     
  16. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Here are some principles that seem good to me:

    1. Christians should be able to testify as to what God has done for them (1 Pet 3:15). The "testimony" should give God all the glory.

    2. Christians should be students of the Bible. "Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks."

    3. Turn the "spiritual conversation" to Christ. Always.

    4. Don't worry so much about the specialized content of the gospel you present--make sure what you say is BIBLICAL.

    5. The reason for the above statement is this: All of God's truth is harmonius with itself. All finds its finality in Christ. Therefore, all Scripture ultimately points back to Christ. Some Truth is very close to the "core" of the gospel. Other Truth is not as close. If you did not "score" in one personal encounter by hitting close to the subject of the Cross or the Resurrection, I wouldn't worry about it for one moment. God was honored if you were faithful to his Truth, and defended it.

    It is the distinctly Arminian concern to get someone on one specific route to the Cross, and to get them to the "decision point." By this I am not saying, "There are many roads to God!" I am saying there are as many roads to the Cross as there are verses in the Bible! And nearly as many vantage points to seeing it clearly as there are faithful sermons. You will recall in Pilgrim's Progress that the narrow way of the faith was found inside the wicket gate, not outside it. Christian encountered the evangelist several times, and went into more than one bypath in getting to that gate. Other's came as well, by different paths, some more, some less painful.
     
  17. Puritanhead

    Puritanhead Puritan Board Professor

    I always thought of myself as an "evangelical"... are fundamentalist Dispensationalists like Jerry Falwell the only "evangelical Christians" these days? if so, than the appellation does not fit me any more... words like "conservative" and "liberal" are no less hollow than "evangelical" these days--- words lose their meaning...
     
  18. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior


    The Evangellyfish does not soothe hurting people. How come? Because they insist that if the hurting person just did: XYZ they wouldn't hurt anymore. They invalidate their pain by offering countless modes of advice without really "listening" or "bearing one another's burdens."

    When was the last time you felt heard or supported by a friend or family member who ran over your heart's outpouring with their list of "how to's" to fix it?

    The Calvinist has a more powerful way to comfort those suffering -- the Truth that we are ALL sinners, suffering in a cursed world...and even so, God alone is in control. So our suffering is neither pointless or aimless. Sometimes we come along-side and mourn with the sufferer and simply be there for them.

    Teaching this takes guts....everyone else wants to "say" ignore, distract yourself from the pain; get more faith and you won't hurt; if you hurt, what did you "do" to deserve it? (In summary, Job's counselors revisited.)

    Bottom line, for the Calvinist suffering pain, he says "Lord, though you slay me, yet will I trust You."

    Can the Evangellyfish say that?

    Getting to really know the book of Job is of great help.

    Therapy gives the mis-impression that it "fixes" things...when it does not. It has been said " the Christian therapy business flourishes where there is no confession of sins; administration of the Supper and right preaching of the Word." The so-called "Christian" feel-good messages actually cause neurosis.

    :2cents:

    R.

    PS. As for how the Calvinist evangelizes....do nothing different than th Apostles. It's that simple. No more, no less. In Acts 2, three thousand were saved after hearing a sermon about Covenant theology. And if Scripture says they were saved, they were finally and forever saved....Billy Graham, try to beat those numbers!! Rick Warren, it's not a Purpose-Driven Life, it's a PROMISE-Driven one. The Gospel is Promise-Driven!

    (See, you guys got me wound-up again... :scholar:)
     
  19. BrianBowman

    BrianBowman Posting Priviledges Revoked

    Robin,

    What a wonderful post. Having been an "Evangellyfish" for about 20 years of my life (including a pile of therapy), I'll give testimony that what you say is ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Thank God for deliverance from this through the Scripturally integrated truths of Covenant Theology!! God's sovereignty admininstered through the present reign of Christ and expressed through His Church and the authority of His written Word! This is the "narrow way" to wholeness. Everything else is the "broad path" to destruction.

    [Edited on 7-4-2005 by BrianBowman]
     
  20. Augusta

    Augusta Puritan Board Doctor

    Big honking :ditto: to Robin.
     
  21. JeremyConrad

    JeremyConrad Puritan Board Freshman

    An Arminian evangelist (like Billy Graham) ends his sermon with an altar call, or "the sinner's prayer", or, at least, a verse or two of "Softly & Tenderly" and "Just As I Am".

    How does a reformed evangelist end his sermon?

    [Edited on 7-4-2005 by JeremyConrad]
     
  22. Puritanhead

    Puritanhead Puritan Board Professor

    My late Great Uncle who was a Baptist preacher once found these two teenagers trespassing around the church bus and smoking something... He witnessed to them with an M1 Garand in hand... he was WWII vet. (One of my cousins mentioned that when I was harping about 2 Timothy 2:24-25 in Sunday School...) Seriously...

    :pilgrim:
     
  23. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    See you in church!
     
  24. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    The background:

    2 Corinthians 5:11---21 (read the entire chapter, btw.)
    The Ministry of Reconciliation
    Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

    From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.


    Here is the punchline:

    All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so thatin him we might become the righteousness of God.

    No "sales pitch"....we deliver the Message of Christ and what He did.

    The Gospel is a judicial "Summons"...(much like a court summons)...this why Paul says to "BE reconciled". He is calling his hearers to obey the Gospel.

    ;)

    Robin
     
  25. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Here is an excerpt from a Reformed sermon (from Revelation) by Dr. Kim Riddlebarger. Note, the conclusion....


    "That which we lost in Eden is regained in the heavenly city because of the saving work of the Lamb, who has triumphed over all of his enemies. And this is where the story of redemption inevitably leads, to a New Eden, an Eden which far surpasses the glories of the garden of Genesis 2-3. In the New Eden, we will not only drink freely from the River of Life, but we will eat from the same Tree of Life, the sacrament of the covenant of works, from which Adam was barred after the Fall. We read that its leaves are for the healing of the nations, which simply reminds us that all the nations have been healed once the curse has been removed. In the New Eden, all the nations are now joined together as one people in the heavenly city. We will no longer be divided by race, language, culture or social status. We will all be one, dwelling together in the presence of God.

    Beloved, the glorious scene described here will one day become a reality for all of the people of God. We will be raised from the dead in imperishable bodies. There will be no more pain, no more tears, no more death, no more sadness. The curse will be gone and we will fulfill that end for which we have been created. In the New Jerusalem, we will see God in our flesh (as Job once prophesied and which John now confirms). We will drink freely from the River of Life. We will eat our fill from the Tree of Life. We will behold the glories of God described here, completely safe and in perfect peace.

    Therefore, as we sweat and suffer, struggle and grieve in this life, let us never loose sight of what awaits us in the next. Through the testimony of John, this morning we too have seen the new heaven and earth. Its glories are beyond description. It is that place where God Almighty and the Lamb dwell. It will be our eternal home. For the Lord Almighty and the Lamb are our God and we are his people. And this is our glorious inheritance which God has promised to all those in Jesus Christ. With this scene before our eyes, let us not become weary of believing what is true, and doing what is right. For a new heaven and a new earth await us where we will dwell in blessed peace and safety in the presence of God, forever, and ever and ever and ever . . . Amen!"

    The entire sermon is here:
    http://www.christreformed.org/resources/sermons_lectures/00000107.shtml?main

    Robin
     
  26. street preacher

    street preacher Puritan Board Freshman

    Evangelism is the redeemed saying so. It is public worship on the streets of in our churches or wherever. God will draw who He will and then comes the heart of evangelism, discipleship, teaching them and truly investing in the lives of those new covenant brethren. It isn't about getting them to say a prayer of majic, (that is so Catholic, say 2 our Father and 5 hail Marys and you will be fine.) it's about exalting God and through this God produces other worshippers as well.

    [Edited on 7-5-2005 by street preacher]
     
  27. JeremyConrad

    JeremyConrad Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you! That is the clearest answer so far!!

    My fear is that I will become passive in evangelism. Being passive to me is kind of like a spider in a web just waiting for something to be caught in it's trap. Not that the Gospel is a trap, by any means. I'm just saying that I want to be active in evangelism, not passive.

    [Edited on 7-5-2005 by JeremyConrad]
     
  28. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    :amen:

    We should all FLEE laziness in evangelism. That's why I love about our good ole' Calvinist buddy, the Apostle Paul: He was very active and fervent in sharing the Gospel. And yet he NEVER gave an "altar call" or invited anyone to pray "the sinner's prayer".

    We should be VERY active. But our activity should not mirror the activities of Arminians.

    Let us preach the Biblical Gospel fervently! And let us also leave it to God to bring about the sprouting of all seeds. We can plant and water like crazy, and we should. But we can't make anything sprout.
     
  29. street preacher

    street preacher Puritan Board Freshman

    This is precisely my point. We are the messengers whose intent should be to worship the Lord through the proclamation of the gospel and God is the One who will do the work of conversion without the invention of man namely the alter call!
     
  30. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    :amen:


    Interesting, isn't it, that the "altar call" didn't even exist until it was invented in the 1800s, starting out as the "anxious bench".

    All the evanjellyfish must wonder how anybody was ever saved during the prior centuries.

    But, wait a minute . . . The book of Acts was written before the 1800s wasn't it? And that little revival called the "Reformation" . . . didn't that happen before the 1800s?

    But I know what they would probably say: "Just imagine how things would have gone even better if they had just had the altar call back then. . . ." :barfy:

    Here's the only "altar" for me, the only one for Christians in the New Testament:

    "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach." (Hebrews 13:10-13)

    [Edited on 7-6-2005 by biblelighthouse]
     
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