Question on evangelism

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Herald, Sep 11, 2005.

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  1. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Since the "transforming of my mind" to the biblical view of soteriology, I have given much thought to how to finish a presentation of the gospel to an unbeliever. I can no longer lead a person in the sinners prayer. There is nothing patently unbiblical about verbalizing a persons faith in Christ. It is the false assumption that somehow regeneration occurs because of the sinners prayer.* I have to admit that there are many people who have recited that prayer, believing that they are going to heaven, when in reality they are foreigners to the God's covenant of grace. There is no evidence of repentance in their lives. I grieve for them.

    So I ask my Reformed brethren, how do you approach evangelism? Do you have a passion for sharing Christ with lost (Romans 10:14)? Do you plead with the lost to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-21)? I trust we all do. But do any of you make a plea for some type of commitment after you have shared the gospel? Do you pray with the person? Do you ask them to verbalize their faith in Christ? Do you have a custom of doing something else? Or you do just tell them that they need to believe and repent?

    I am curious because evangelism is a command and I want to make sure that, as shepherd of God's flock, my brethren are fulfilling the command in a biblical manner.

    *The sinners prayer is not an accepted creedal affirmation. There is not one version that a person can pray. A typical sinners prayer could be, "Lord Jesus, I recognize that I am sinner. I understand that you came to earth to suffer and die and to pay the penalty for my sin. I now place my faith in you and accept you as my Lord and Savior. Come into my life Lord Jesus. Thank you. Amen." While most sinners prayers smack of Armenianism, many Baptist Calvinists have tried to change the wording in order to be more biblical. The intention is to turn the sinners prayer into more of a verbalization of a regeneration that has already taken place. It is not patently unbiblical. The "Calvinistic" sinners prayer seeks to encourage the person who has placed their faith in Christ and call them to immediate obedience to the scriptures.

    [Edited on 9-12-2005 by BaptistInCrisis]
  2. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    After reading my own post I believe I should clarify my intention. I am inquiring as to the custom and practice in the area of evangelism in other reformed churches. That is all I am seeking.
  3. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    I would present the unbeliever with the facts. And the implications of the facts. There is his present state, and the consequences. There is God's Word of reconciliation, his gospel, the righteousness of God. He must believe that Word. And that believing--knowledge, assent, trust--is a forever thing, not an "I did it yesterday or years ago" thing. As the witnesser, you know (being a Christian for X years) that you are saved, not because of a decision, but because now you are clinging to Christ alone for salvation, and he is holding you safe. And there are implications for changing "sides" in the great warfare, that massive antithesis. Tell him there is a cost to be counted. Tell him there are those who will say, "Lord, Lord," in the last day to whom Jesus will reply: "Depart from me, I never knew you." Tell him, "the way of the transgressor is hard." Tell him Jesus said, "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." "If you love me keep my commandments." "My sheep know me and they hear my voice, and they follow me." The Lord disciplines those he loves, like a Father. This man must, "buffet his body" and make it his slave. Yet, he can be sure that there is laid up for him a crown of righteousness, that the Lord, the righteous judge, will award him on that day, and not him only, but to all who love his appearing.

    Tell him it is possible he will know his moment of salvation, or he may not. But it isn't important to know the day or hour. What is important is the growing realization of the reality of it. Assurance is an unstable thing anyway, always dependent on the closeness of one's walk with God. Declarations of faith, obedience, fellowship, the comfort of the Holy Spirit, prayer--these are objective things he can look to in the NOW to gauge his own profession, to examine himself to see if he be in the faith.

    I would encourage someone to pray by way of confession of sin, and begging God to forgive and grant repentance unto life. One must start talking to God and listening to him speak through the Word, for without communication there is no relationship. A relationship between persons that does not include regular communication and intimacy is a farce. But it has to start somewhere. If the Holy Spirit is working on an elect man's heart, he is at least getting ready to hear his prayers.

    I would not add on to the prayer all that stuff about assurance, confidence of being heard, etc. All that does is foster a false, easy confidence in God's good grace. The kingdom of heaven is beset with battle, and "violent men take it by storm," they force their way in.

    Come to think of it, maybe better than all my words is simply the recommendation to go back to Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress and read it over and over until his thoughts are inseperable from your own. No two gospel encounters are ever going to be alike in every respect. Some other portion or portions of God's Word is going to speak to someone's specific need.

    Hope these ramblings are of some use...
  4. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't ask them or even push them for a confession of faith or even to say some contrite prayer that they are just mouthing to get me to shut up, as I have found over the years, many people do just that and they really don't understand they really DO need a Savior.

    I just present the Gospel, sharing verses that explain salvation, then ask them to read the book of John on their own and to pray that God will show them their heart and sinfulness and need for a Savior. That is all that God asks ME to do, share the Message, which in turn opens the door for the Holy Spirit to work in their lives, as it is God who saves, not me.

    I have found that most times when I do it that way, if I know them personally, after they have taken the time to read the Bible on their own they will seek me out and ask more questions, other times I have seen them back at church, and then there are others I won't know until we get to heaven on whether or not they accepted Christ or not.

    I still remember the very first person I shared Christ with, and much to my shame, I was pushy. I was a new Christian, and wanted everyone to know Christ and thought I could just force Him onto others. I have come to understand that just as I can't force myself or my friendship on others, I can't force a relationship with Christ on to them either. All I can do is make the introduction and then allow them to decide on their own if they want a relationship with Him or not.

    My friend I first tried to introduce to Christ, got angry at me, and didn't speak to me for months, she didn't want to know Christ, and she didn't like that I took Him with me where ever I went. I ended up going back to her and apologizing for trying to force a relationship with Christ on her, and explained I just wanted her to know Jesus too, I wanted us to share a friendship with Him together. I didn't like leaving Him out, nor did I like leaving her out, and if I had I ignore Him when I did things with her I felt bad. She understood, because she could relate to what it was like to be friends with someone and another friend not liking them and so she couldn't spend time with them together. And with that, she decided she wanted to get to know Christ too, and realized she assumed all these things about Him that weren't true, and 20+ years later the three of us still spend some wonderful times together.

    So go ahead and make the introduction, even telling them where they can find out more about Christ if they so choose, and then let them explore a relationship with Him on their own.
  5. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Thanks to Bruce and Bobbi for their comments. I am grateful and appreciate your words.

    As I said in my entre' post, "I can no longer lead a person in the sinners prayer." That said, I feel compelled by a hidden sense of urgency to call the person to repentance. Was Paul not of the same thought when he said...

    The church I attend and serve at was planted by a larger Baptist church (10 miles south of us) five years ago on September 12, 2000. The leadership of our sending church is not Calvinistic by a long shot. The caricature they hold of Calvinistic churches includes a belief that evangelism is meager, if not dead. As a "convert" to Calvinism I do not have a lifetime of Reformed or Calvinistic practice to draw from. I credit the Baptist church for having a strong emphasis on evangelism. Yet I recognizing the danger of "easy believism" that was popularized by Finney and was the mainstream of evangelical thought for most of the 20th Century and now into the 21st Century. My desire is to instill in our flock a passion for the gospel and to share Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 5. I started to feel concerned that no one was commenting on my post. Not because of ego, but because I feel the issue is so important.

    [Edited on 9-12-2005 by BaptistInCrisis]
  6. rgrove

    rgrove Puritan Board Freshman

    Greetings Bill,

    I invite people to church. When I was going into the neighborhood we just invited people to church. If they asked questions we answered. We always tried to leave our brochure which had information about our services, a statement of our beliefs, and a gospel message. We have a high view of preaching and believe that it is empowered in a special way by God in the conversion of sinners. I'm not trying say that we shouldn't do personal evangelism, but I am saying that from a Reformed perspective too much emphasis is placed on "personal evangelism" in our day. Talk to them, show them love, go out of your way to model Christ to them and ask them to come to a service. The congregation is an integral part of evangelism. Corporate prayer by the pastor is powerful evangelism. The hymns sung are an integral part. The public reading of scripture is a part of it. The preaching of God's word is of such importance words can't express it. Witnessing the ordinances of Baptism or the Lord's Supper are astonishingly good ways to communicate the gospel in a more wholistic manner than personal evangelism can ever attain to.

    That being said, learn as best you can to give reason for the hope that is within you. I'm not proposing not engaging your intellect in ways to present the truth to an unbeliever, but seek to bring them into the sphere of Christ's church so that they can experience a far more full presentation of the gospel than you'll be able to present in the form of personal evangelism.

    It's difficult, but as Americans we are raised on the principles of rugged individualism and a heightened degree of personal responsibility. But you'll find that in Reformed churches there is an elevation of the importance of the church itself and it's components (preaching, prayer, ordinances, fellowship, singing, etc) in evangelism while at the same time encouraging it's people to bring their whole intellect into submission to Christ. The latter process leads to a better ability (because serious scholarship is taken more seriously than in many anti-intellectual church circles) to do personal evangelism and a better ability to reflect Christ to those around us. So our pastors train and equip us in many ways, but don't give us personal evangelism manuals and patterns to go out and employ. I expect you'll find Reformed Baptists, for example, more likely to do an outreach activity as a group than as individuals. We pray for these efforts on the part of our sister churches on a regular basis. But I don't think we've ever prayed for a sister church's implementation of a new personal evangelism program.

    Well, I'm rambling I think. But is this a little more clear?

    [Edited on 9-13-2005 by rgrove]
  7. BJClark

    BJClark Puritan Board Doctor


    It sounds like what your looking for is more personal revival of the hearts of believers and non-believers, not just some words spoken to accept Christ, but a deep understanding of just how sinful we/they are.

    I think a huge problem in finding this today is the fast pace of society, the mind numbing TV sets, and video games that people don't take time to really sit and think about anything.

    People don't medidate on the word, they believe since God is a God of Love and compassion He would 'never' allow them to go to Hell, I mean after all they are 'good people' at heart.

    It's like they think not breaking *some* of the Ten Commandments is what will get them to heaven. People don't even call sin, sin anymore they have renamed it as a Personality Dis-order and Many Christian Counselors buy into those names instead of addressing the issue as it really is a SIN Problem.

    And because it's a dis-order or a dis-ease they don't believe it's something that can change or be dealt with on an internal level, so they medicate in order to avoid addressing the issue.

    Maybe if our pastors would address this issue in our churches people would actually begin to understand they can't medicate sin and face the realities of our Sinfullness before God, and begin to see just how sinful we are on a personal level which would in turn draw people to repentance.

    Okay, I'm rambling here, but it seems like this plays a HUGE part in opening people's eyes to their own sin.
  8. JonathanHunt

    JonathanHunt Puritan Board Senior

    Hi Bill

    If you are asking about the presentation of the gospel, reasoning with souls, pleading and persuasion, and you want some examples of good calvinistic evangelism (baptist to boot ;-))

    Then I would direct you here

    And listen to any of Dr Masters' Sunday Evening Sermons.

    I also recommend his book, Physicians of Souls:

    and Biblical Strategies for Witness

  9. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    I think some good things have been said already. But I would not shy away from demanding a response from the hearer, especially if you're preaching. That does not mean you do the "sinners prayer." But I would make it clear, that now, they are accountable to God's Word. God has revealed his way of salvation to them, a marvelous gracious act on His part to them, and now they must respond to the invitation of Christ. They can not remain nuetral now that the way of salvation has been made known to them. They must be encouraged to close with Christ personally.
  10. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    :amen: Encouragement to "close with Christ" is a very Puritan concept in evangelism. I counted the use of that phrase 17 times in part nine alone of William Guthrie's The Christian's Great Interest.

    See also Add to the Church: The Puritan Approach to Persuading Souls by Erroll Hulse.
  11. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    I cannot recommend Walt Chantry's book Today's Gospel highly enough. He uses Christ's encounter with the rich young ruler as the backdrop.
  12. crhoades

    crhoades Puritan Board Graduate

    This tiny book had a huge impact on me as I was embracing the doctrines of grace.
  13. rgrove

    rgrove Puritan Board Freshman

    Good catch. As I read my response perhaps I wasn't as clear as I should have been. I didn't mean to insinuate that the reformed tradition doesn't demand that a person exposed to the gospel doesn't need to be forced to answer the question "Who do you say that I am?". By personal evangelism I was refering to the many canned approaches that people are being taught these days.
  14. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    Very astute insight, BJ! :up:

  15. youthevang

    youthevang Puritan Board Freshman

    I was just reading this thread today, I ordered Walt Chantry's book Today's Gospel and afterwards, I ran into a co-worker today that had questions about Christ.

    This is a topic that I have been pondering for sometime with regards to "easy believism.".
  16. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Todays Gospel. It is a book that I will order today. It is my desire to see our flock faithful to our Lord's command by sharing a bilblical gospel of repentance.
  17. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

    Good day Bill!

    I believe this is an important question, especially for Calvinists. I have heard Calvinists say that nothing changes in regards to evangelism when converting from an Arminian mindset. I disagree. I will argue that Biblical evangelism only makes sense with Reformed Soteriology in mind.

    Where in scriptures is evangelism commanded? Matthew 28 is the obvious answer, but who does Jesus give that command to? He gave it to the Apostles. Back up to Matthew 10 and Jesus gives a similar commission to the Apostles, although it is effective for a short time, unlike the Matthew 28 commission effective until the end of the age. The Matthew 10 commission was specific only to the elect within national Israel, not all nations. That commission enabled those sent out to heal the sick, drive out demons, and even raise the dead. Are all Christians commissioned to do likewise? Go ahead to Matthew 28. Jesus is once again speaking to His appointed Apostles (minus Judas) and commissions them to make disciples by baptizing people from all nationalities and teaching them all that He commanded. This commission is until the end of the age. Again, are all Christians commissioned to do likewise?
    The contemporary church answer is of course. But we must ask ourselves, are all Christians to be teachers and baptizers? Are we all the same body part within the body of Christ? Are we all a hand, an ear, an eye? James exhorted the Church to let not many become teachers, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment (3:1). But wasn't he familiar with the great commission to all believers that we all must be teachers and baptizers? Of course he was, as were the Apostles. Notice that although modern preachers emphasize our duty to make disciples by quoting the great commission, the Apostles themselves in writing to the churches never mentioned it. Was it because it was not issued to the individual saints but to the Apostles?

    Now before anyone screams, "Hyper-Calvinist, grab your pitchforks!" Allow me to continue, but first a disclaimer: I believe God can effectively call His people through unorthodox means. He can use Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, jealous and heartless brothers, a big fish or even a talking donkey to accomplish His good purposes. So although churches such as Rick Warren's seem to attract thousands, that does not mean his method and view of evangelism is correct and we should just ignore scripture. We cannot judge an orthodox church by it's attendance.
    God's word emphasizes community, united community. There is always someone to say "Amen!" We are not all teachers, nor should every disciple try to be. The burden the contemporary church is placing on the saints is that our duty is to forget the brethren and reach the lost. On the contrary, the brethren are who we give preference to (Romans 12:10). We are to lay down our lives for the brethren (1 John 3:16). Friendship with the world is hostility toward God (James 4:4). Should we give preference to the children of the devil? Shall we lay down our lives for the goats? Should we develop friendships with the world in order to save some?

    Here is the bottom line. As individual saints, we are salt, we are light to the world, a city on a hill through our love for God and thus each other. How does the world know that Jesus is the Son of God? "We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren" (1 John 3:14). "I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me" (John 17:23). As individual body parts within the church, we each play our role; our part. The hand does what the hand does, NOT what a foot does. So if you are a teacher, you teach. If you are a giver, you give. If you are a server, you serve. By all of us in united love for each other, the salt and light will be apparent to the world resulting in hatred by the sons of destruction and a longing to join from the called. Thus the Church, founded by the Apostles, as a unified whole consisting of each part doing it's purpose will fulfill the Great Commission. As individual saints doing their part in the body, we devote ourselves to the word of God, to Fellowship, to the Lord's Table, and to the prayers (Acts 2:42). NOT to reaching the lost. The lost elect will be reached by unity among the sheep.
    Who adds to our numbers? A "clever" marketing plan? A seeker sensitive sermon? Of course not, the Lord adds to our number, not us! By us playing God and trying to add to the church in our ways, we are doing nothing more than opening the floodgates for the wolves and Antichrists. Why would Jesus lay down guidelines to tell a tree by it's fruit and how we should confront brothers in sin that may even lead to excommunication from the church? Did he not realize that influencing people's intellect is all that is needed to make a disciple? If influencing intellect is the case then why did the Apostle Paul cast out people from the church? Did he not know that all the person had to do was say a "magic prayer"? What about boasting? If salvation is a matter of intellectual assent, then the fact that I am saved and not my coworker must mean I am smarter, or wiser, or was raised in more favorable circumstances, etc. Why not boast, I have what it takes! Flesh and blood revealed everything to me, right? We do not need to trick or deceive people into joining us only so they will run away when they are finally offended by the word. The Church shall not water down the word, she shall preach the law and it's fulfillment - Christ. The law is the tutor that will lead the lost to the savior. The Church today tries too hard due to it's disbelief in God's effectual calling.

    As individual saints, we devote ourselves per Acts 2:42 while doing our gifted part in the body of Christ loving the brethren all to the glory of God so that the world will know that God sent Christ. We preach the word in season and out even though it may offend the goats, but by the grace of God it will convict the unconverted sheep to cry, "What must we do to be saved!?" To which the Church responds, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be baptized into the Church where she will begin teaching you all that Jesus commanded.

    Biblical evangelism only makes sense in the context of Reformed soteriology.
  18. Robin

    Robin Puritan Board Junior

    :amen: :ditto: Christopher!

  19. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Christopher, the least you have to worry about is pitchforks. Inquisition is not my style. But you seem to be raising the accusation yourself. I have to be honest. I have parsed your post hoping to take it differently. Unfortunately I find your post disheartening. You seem to indicate that the elect will somehow hear God's word by the church doing what it is supposed to be doing. Let me give you an example:

    I agree that we should be devoted to prayer. No Christian would deny that. We also should "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God" (2 Timothy 2:15) by the study of God's word. We certainly are to do all of this within the confines of the church, or as you put it, "the body of Christ." So are we to conclude that unbelievers will be mystically drawn to the church? Is there something about the church that is going to appeal to the unchurched? How is the unbeliever to hear the gospel?

    You cited Matthew 28 as a representative text for those who believe in evangelism. You limited the effect of Matthew 28 by saying it was written only to the Apostles. Exegesis aside, that is a weak argument. Paul said,
    "Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ." (1 Corinthians 11:1). Was not Paul an Apostle? Did he not have apostolic authority? Certainly he did! It is interesting that the preceeding verse lets us know where Paul's heart was, "just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of the many, that they may be saved." (1 Corinthians 10:33) It is interesting that Paul's desire is that, "all men may be saved." No, Paul was not waxing Areminian ("all men"). Would it be that we should wish for the same thing. None of us know who the elect are. Our desire should be that all will come to faith in Christ. We know that all will not; only those who are appointed unto eternal life (Acts 13:48) will come to faith.

    But back to your emphasis on Matthew 28. I find it troublesome that you would not seek to find other passages that may at least seem to indicate that Christians should be engaged in evangelism. Since you were unable, or unwilling to do so, let me help you by sharing a few.

    euangelistis (evangelist) = bearer of good tidings; good news

    May I point out that Timothy was not an Apostle. He may have been Paul's protoge, but he was not an Apostle. But Paul told him to, "do the work of an evangelist." Why? This is not complicated. He wanted Timothy to proclaim the gospel in order that people may be saved. And this admonition was not just for Timothy. Read on...

    Now what do we make of 2 Corinthians 5:18-21?

    How is the unbeliever going to be reconciled to God?

    apostello (sent) = sent, to send away

    If God wants to use Joel Osteen, Brittany Spears or Louis Farakahn in order to bring a sinner to the place where they will hear the gospel of grace, then so be it. But no one is going to be saved who does not hear God's word. And how shall they hear it if there is no one to tell it to them? And who is going to tell it to them unless someone is sent to them?

    Here is the great trap that must be avoided. We know that God sent prophets to warn and instruct His people. Finally God the Father sent John the Baptist (arguably the last Old Testament Prophet) to prepare the way for the Lord (Jesus Christ). The gospel of the kingdom first went out to the Jews. They rejected it. In Acts 10 we read where Peter was sent to Cornelius' house to preach the gospel. Later, the church confessed that the gospel and the gift of the Holy Spirt was being offered to the gentiles. But how was the gospel to be delivered to the gospel? By preaching the word of God!

    Do not glean from my first post that I was in anyway trivializing the church. The first concern of the church is to glorify God through worship and loving of the brethren (John 14:34). But this does not relieve the church of the command to preach the gospel. No where in my post did I say that every believer needs to be a full time evangelist. But I point you back to Paul, who said, "Be imitators of me, just as I am also of Christ." So who was Paul imitating? Christ. Should we not be doing the same thing? Did Christ Jesus preach a gospel of repentance? Yes, He did. Was His example only for the Apostles? What a ridiculous question to even ask.

    Am I hot about this topic? You bet I am. I quote another statement of yours...

    A truthful statement, but in context with your post it seems nothing more than a neat way to throw evangelism back into the pulpit where it should remain locked to a lecturn.

    I am Reformed in my soteriology. I am a Calvinist and do not believe anyone but the elect will come to faith. But I also believe that the way the unregenerate come to faith is through the preaching of the gospel. To think the unregenerate will be attracted to the church is mind-numbing. Yes, we may invite someone to church, and they may come to faith. It happens. But is not normative (In my humble opinion).

    I have more to say, but I need to take a deep breath and have a cold beverage.

    [Edited on 9-15-2005 by BaptistInCrisis]
  20. Steve Owen

    Steve Owen Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hello Bill,
    Amen brother! You are entirely right.

    Just a thought on some verses that you quoted:-

    2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2
    Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us; we beg [you] on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. We then as co-workers also plead [with you] not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says: "In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you." Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation!

    Just to point out that the word 'you' which I have twice placed in brackets, does not occur in the Greek. It is therefore unwise to assume that Paul is speaking only to the Corinthians. He is giving an defense of his ministry in these verses, and the 'pleading' and 'imploring' that he describes was part of his ministry to all who would hear him.

  21. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    This previous thread is worth reviewing as it deals with much the same issues raised here.
  22. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

    Good day Bill.

    First off, my motive for posting was not to directly refute you, but to clarify a common misconception about our role as individual saints in evangelism. Too often are we led to believe that our mission in life is to witness to non-Christians. By all means be willing and ready to give a defense, but leave the making of disciples to the church.

    Will unbelievers be mystically drawn to the church? Mystically? No, but providentially? Yes. God effectually draws all of His people to Himself. Our concern is not to attract the unchurched. In fact the church functioning biblically will be quite offensive to many, but she will not be destroyed. God will add to our number, we preach the true word (for how will they hear without a preacher?). Was Peter´s first sermon attractive? Was Steven´s? Did God still add to our number? I am not promoting hocus pocus; I am simply saying the church often tries too hard to do God´s job thus sacrificing love for the body of Christ.

    Being an imitator of Paul is not problematic to my point. To imitate him does not mean seek to have special revelation from Christ, heal every disease, cast out demons, etc. Paul was among the pillars of the Church. He was appointed to found the church. We should be imitators of him, but that does not mean we should all seek to be an Apostle. A qualified leader of a church must be above reproach and indeed someone to imitate.

    Certainly our desire can be for all men to be saved. We cannot tell the elect from the non-elect, so the external call is for all. I am not sure why you have problems with my argument. I am not saying that we do not bother with evangelism. I do realize that people can think that is where I was going thus the Hyper-Calvinist disclaimer. My point is centered in the difference between the call of the Church as a unified body and the call of the individual parts of that unified body. As a Church, she preaches, she calls, she evangelizes, she baptizes and she teaches. As individuals, we devote ourselves to the right understanding of the word of God, to fellowship and breaking of bread and to the prayers. By us individuals doing this in love we will be evangelizing. Some of those individuals are teachers, some are apostles (lower case "œA" in that they are sent out to start churches), some arte evangelist, but NOT ALL. Some individual saints should refrain from teaching and should not take all the responsibility on themselves for making someone a disciple. The Church is our mother who nourishes us with the milk of god´s word.

    I did not seek to find other passages, because I was explaining how Matthew 28 is misapplied in many churches today. Again the church consists of evangelists along with Pastor-teachers and qualified overseers. Timothy was appointed into an overseer position within the church.

    Bill, do you believe it is every individual Christian´s mission to teach an baptize?

    On the contrary the church should not just let anyone teach. However, all saints support this calling.

    Who are we to entrust these things to? Faithful men who are able to teach.

    Again the church consists of teachers, but not all are a hand or an eye are they? But the hand works with the eye and the eye with the hand. They support each other.

    We obey.

    As an ambassadors for Christ, shall we send a new convert to a church to refute a Gnostic heresy that is running rampant? Again, I will emphasize, that our love for each other will show the world that Jesus is from God. By our love we represent Christ, causing some to hate us and some to join us.

    Bill, does the church consist of preachers and teachers? If so, use them.

    I agree. Who preaches? Who teaches? Should the Eunich guide people through Isaiah or should Philip?

    I believe you took my post too personal as if I was directly refuting you. I apologize for giving such an impression. We imitate Christ, we imitate the Apostles, but does that mean we walk on water, or even segregate ourselves from the gentiles? We love the Christ and we love His Church. If you are able to teach all that Jesus commanded, then do so by the authority and appointment of your church. If you are gifted in different area, then do that in love in support of the call of God.

    This is unfortunate.

    Bill, disciples are made by baptizing people into the Church where she will teach and guide them in the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that they will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light (Colossians 1:9-12).

  23. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Chris - I actually posted a long reply to your last post but deleted it. It would only serve to prolong a debate that does not deserve a life.
  24. JonathanHunt

    JonathanHunt Puritan Board Senior

    Does not deserve a life?

    I am very disappointed that no-one has rebutted ChristopherPaul... at all... but would it just be a matter of semantics to do so?

    The way I read what CP is saying, he appears to absolve the believer of the duty of personal witness (aside from giving a defence), and leave it all (on a personal level) to that old chestnut 'the evangelism of holy living', and on a corporate level to the officers of the church.

    If this is what you mean, CP, All I can say is


    And if no-one else takes this posting to task then I will as soon as I can. CP, you may deny being a hyper-calvinist but your post can only promote hyper-calvinISM.

  25. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Is there a technical difference between preaching the gospel and witnessing for Christ? If so, let's make the distinction here:
  26. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    As mentioned earlier, there is a previous thread that delved into the distinctions raised here between preaching and witnessing.

    Preaching is a commission given with the authority of Christ to proclaim the gospel only to his ministers and not to all believers in general.

    Westminster Larger Catechism:

    The Great Commission is given to those who are able to preach and baptize. It is not a commission given to all but a commission given to those who are authorized to act with authority on behalf of Christ and his kingdom (ie., church officers).

    On the other hand, the charge to witness a good testimony to the faith is given to all believers. Matt. 5.16, 1 Peter 3.15 and other texts require all believers to live and speak worthy of a holy calling such that others will see our good works and hear our good words and be compelled to glorify God for what they see and hear, and some will even ask us to give an account for the hope that lies within us, for which we should all be ready to respond.

    Moreover, all believers are to support the work of the minister even though they are not official ambassadors of Christ. They can and should pray, invite others to church and otherwise assist the labors of ministers who are commissioned to preach the gospel.

    Evangelism (using the strict definition of 'public proclamation of the gospel with authority') is given to those called and commissioned by Christ for that specific purpose. Apologetics (defense of the faith) and witnessing (according to our place and station) is given to all believers. There is nothing hyper-Calvinistic about this distinction. It is Biblical and it is what the Puritans (who believed fervently in spreading the good news) taught, particularly in the Westminster Standards (see also the Directories for Public and Family Worship).

    To quote Bruce from the earlier thread:

  27. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritan Board Doctor

    Thank you Andrew.:handshake:
  28. JonathanHunt

    JonathanHunt Puritan Board Senior


    I agree.

    But ChristopherPaul has said this:

    And I find this to be very different from the distinction you have made, Andrew.

    We are either to witness, or not to witness. As I said, this could be semantics, but my reading of what CP has said is that our mission in life is NOT to witness, but just to live good little holy lives and leave the rest to the officers of the church.

    By witnessing, we are not 'making disciples', we are WITNESSING! We have personal witness, and we have corporate, church witness, which includes the public proclamation of the gospel by ordained men.

    Am I totally missing the point here? If so, just whack me on the head with a thick leather-bound confession and I'll be on my way...

  29. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    ChristopherPaul may wish to clarify his statement further, but I suspect what he means by critiquing the idea that "our mission in life is witness to non-Christians" is really the idea that we are all supposed to evangelize (which I am again using according to the strict definition of 'public proclamation of the gospel with authority') unbelievers. So, you may be right that there is some confusion caused here by a semantic misunderstanding (if I am misunderstanding ChristopherPaul's intent I will stand corrected).

    It is commonly taught in Arminian circles today, particularly in parachurch ministries with which I am acquainted, that it is the duty of every believer (per the Great Commission) to proclaim the gospel to as many people as possible according to a particular formula prescribed for 'witnessing' to unbelievers (by that they mean, really, preaching something akin to the 'Four Spiritual Laws'). In other words, if one is at a restaurant, and one fails to 'share' the gospel with one's waitress, then one has failed in his duty as prescribed by the Great Commission. The Arminian, I think, feels compelled to make sure everyone around him is given the 'opportunity' to accept or reject the gospel and if a believer passes an unbeliever by without presenting the gospel then that unbeliever's blood may be on the believer's hands. If this is what ChristopherPaul is reacting to, then I can relate to the intent of his statement. It negates the Biblical distinction between the duties of the ordained vs. those of the laity and puts undue pressure to 'save' others on those who are not called to minister the gospel. That distinction, which I have tried to set forth previously, does not in any way take away responsibilities on the part of the laity to speak the truth in love at all times according to their place and calling, in due season, including the message of the gospel. But it does mean that the mission of the ordained ministers to preach the gospel is not the same as the mission of the laity which is to live and speak according to their calling whether or not that involves articulation of the gospel to everyone they meet.

    I hope this helps to clarify. If I am off-base as to what ChristopherPaul is getting at, then my post may not be helpful, but at least I am explaining how I see the gospel duties of ministers and the laity working out vis-a-vis outreach to the lost around us. We should all care about spreading the good news and work to promote the advancement of the kingdom. But preaching/evangelizing is distinct from apologetics/witnessing and the mission of most of us is not 'woe unto us if we preach not the gospel' but rather 'man's chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever' (which encompasses speaking truth and the gospel message but does not make the primary mission in life of the laity to 'save' souls).

    [Edited on 9-16-2005 by VirginiaHuguenot]
  30. ChristopherPaul

    ChristopherPaul Puritan Board Senior

    The delusion I am in contention with is that every individual disciple is to fulfill the Matthew 28 commission "“ personally, themselves, sole mission and goal in their life. Those who are not teachers or apologists are needlessly stressed out over such misleadings simply because they are told to be a hand when they are an eye. Instead they should be encouraged to be an eye as best as they can thus helping the hand.

    The commission; the ultimate duty of the Church on Christ´s authority, is to teach and baptize thus making disciples. To make a disciple, one must taught by qualified teachers appointed by the presbytery supported by the saints; the brethren.

    If one is convinced to raise their hand, walk and aisle, sign a card or say some "œmagic prayer" but is unwilling to be baptized into a church to begin learning all that Jesus commanded, thus unwilling to devote themselves to the word of God, to the brethren, the sacraments, and to the prayers, then we can only conclude that they are not regenerate even though they responded to some sort of call.

    As individual saints, be us teachers, givers, servers, helpers, etc, we must not be stressed with the misguiding that we are obligated to make disciples out of everyone we come in contact with. By all means share the hope that you have, love them to Christ, invite them to church, BUT do not think that you must make them a disciple. That will come. For all we know they are regenerate before even coming to church. That should be apparent by their eagerness to learn all that Christ commanded. Or some may come, hear the word and then cry what must I do to be saved! Or some may come and conclude that we are all drunk and crazy and leave our midst.

    Modern Christianity is too concerned with numbers and on-the-spot decisions over a commitment to begin learning. What we have is a mass deception. Churches are so concerned with numbers that they no longer hand anyone over to satan (1 Cor. 5) or confront a brother in sin to the point of excommunication from the assembly (Mat. 18).

    People may have been convinced to make a decision but are never taught at all or even exhorted that one must be taught. In fact many are encouraged to keep living in the same way neglecting repentance. Then when that person comes across hard teachings such as from John chapter 6 or chapter 10, then as a result many of those disciples withdraw and do not walk with Him anymore. Or A division occurs among the people because of these words resulting in many saying, "œsuch teaching is insane, why listen?"
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