Matthew R. Perry

Posts Tagged ‘Evangelism’

BCBC VisionCast #1: God’s Vision for Boone’s Creek Baptist Church in 2009

In Church Life, Culture, Evangelism on January 3, 2009 at 1:00 pm

We seek to spread God’s glory from our neighbors to the nations. What will this look like at Boone’s Creek? How will this help us in strengthening our people and sharing His gospel? Take a look!

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Avowed Atheist Penn Gives Some Prophetic Words For Christians

In Atheism, Evangelism, Homosexuality on December 18, 2008 at 11:19 am

Penn (of Penn and Teller) is a very talented individual who is a very avowed atheist. Yet, he was confronted by a man who is a Christian. Notice Penn’s reaction to this:

Interesting how Penn has figured out what so many Christians should already know. Consider this quote:

I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize. If you believe that there’s a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, and you think, ‘Well, it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward’… How much do you have to hate somebody not to proselytize?

(HT: Ed Stetzer)

Jesus’ Poor Evangelism Techniques

In Church Life, Evangelism, For Preachers/Pastors, For Seminary Students, Preaching on December 5, 2008 at 11:29 am

When churches and church leaders begin studying methods and techniques of our culture rather than what God has laid out in His Word, even the best intentioned leaders will find themselves straying from God’s will–even when the numbers and results say otherwise.

I grew up on the tail end of a revivalism era where many evangelists would come into a church to conduct “revival services” asking those to “admit they were sinners” and to “come to Jesus” so you will “go to heaven.” Laced with tear-jerking stories and sparse exposition of Scriptures (which the Bible says in Hebrews 4:12 is living and active, sharper than any double-edged sword), many would be emotionally moved. Revival services were considered great successes when great numbers would come.

I wonder how many who subscribe to this would look at Jesus’ evangelism techniques and say, “Wow, Jesus really missed it this time.” I am thinking of the story of the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19:16-30. Notice a number of things:

1. Jesus had a willing seeker. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Matthew 20:16). If that’s not a willing seeker, I don’t know what is! He clearly had a concern about his spiritual status before God. Jesus had someone ready.

2. Jesus had an influential seeker. This was a rich ruler, meaning he was part of the Sanhedrin, a.k.a. the Jewish Supreme Court. For many in our day, to have such an influential inquirer would be considered a great blessing. To those with questionable motives, this man needs to get into a church and learn the importance of giving to the Lord’s work!

3. Having such a convert would help make some in-roads into the Scribes and Pharisees world. No doubt that this would cause a stir.

But notice what Jesus does:

1. While many would be ready to bring them into the Kingdom right away, Jesus puts up roadblocks! “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 20:17 ).

Two things to notice here. First, he puts the inquirer on his heels by questioning his notion of ‘goodness.’ Only God is good, and only God can save. In essence, Jesus is saying, “Are you approaching me because I am good or say good things? Are you attributing to me the trait of being able to give life? Are you saying I am the Son of God — because only God and His Son can do this?”

Secondly, he puts up the barrier of the commandments. “Keep the commandments,” Jesus tells him. If you want life, obey God to the fullest extent! Yet, the ruler questioned which commandments he should obey! Jesus lists off the Second Tablet commandments: “You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, honor your father and mother, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

What are the significance of these? These are relational commandments — how one deals with another human being. The Scribes and Pharisees struggled with this. They loved obeying the minutiae of the law, but felt themselves morally superior to the common folk of the day. These were serious issues, given how they were God’s covenant priests who represented Him.

The rich young ruler felt himself capable of entering the Kingdom due to his adequate keeping of the commandments. In other words, he did not see himself as “falling short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). He did not see himself as a sinner in need of a Savior. He saw himself as a good man in need of vindication of his good works.

3. Jesus dug deep to the true obstacle of his heart. “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me” (Matthew 20:21). Whereas many preachers and evangelists call for an easy-believism, Jesus rejected this notion and told the young man to come face-to-face with the core problem/sin that is the obstacle for eternal life. His possessions were his god — if he is not willing to give up his god, he cannot receive eternal life. If he wants the treasure of eternal life in heaven, yet will not give up the treasure here on earth, he cannot be a part of the Kingdom.

Many in our churches would never say that Jesus’ evangelism techniques were poor, but given how so few model him in showing how inquirers should count the cost of denying themselves and taking up their cross, we wonder why so few who say they are Christians really look very much like everyone else.

Right before dcTalk’s great song from 1995 called “What If I Stumble?”, a preacher (I believe it was Brennan Manning) spoke this: “The greatest single cause of atheism today is Christians, who mouth Jesus with their lips but deny him by their lifestyle. That’s what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.” Maybe its because many Christians have not learned the lesson of denying self and taking up the cross of Christ daily.

May that not be said of us!

Praying For The Lost — A Lost Duty?

In Church Life, Sermons on September 11, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Last night, we had a time of prayer specifically for the lost—those who do not know Christ as Lord and Savior.  What prompted this prayer meeting was an initiative called “With One Voice” by the Kentucky Baptist Convention to have all Kentucky Baptist churches pray during their Wednesday evening prayer service on Sept. 10.

During this service, we read Scripture, sang some songs dealing with prayer and revival among our people.  Then we passed out what we call a “Five Alive” card where we supplied each person with two names from the 114 names on the “Salvation” portion of our Boone’s Creek Prayer Guide.  With those two names were three blanks for them to fill in names of people they know.   I encouraged them to consider those who were closest to them (family, friends, co-workers) rather than someone they did not know (for more on this, read Oscar Thompson’s Concentric Circles of Concern).

One of my favorite things to do during a prayer service is to have our people spread out over our 50 or so pews and pray for those who may come into our service.  If your church is like most of ours, you know where most of your regular attenders sit.  But it’s a joy not only to pray for them but also to pray for others whom God may have come in.  It really gives our members an outward looking perspective and gives us great anticipation.

The part that meant most to me was when Alex Marshall, Jr., one of our deacons, had Ron Chaffins (our minister of music) and myself kneel at the steps up to the platform, followed by the church coming forward and laying their hands on us as they prayed for us.  It reminded me of Col. 4:2-4 when Paul exhorted the Colossians church:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.  [3] At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— [4] that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

This prayer time really lifted my spirit up to heaven. Pastors bear a heavy burden in seeking to strengthen the flock as well as to share the Gospel with a lost and dying community. May our hearts begin to be crafted toward prayer for the lost and for the ministers of the Gospel who share His message. May our heart desire to be equipped to know what this message is so we can share it rightly. May praying for the lost never be lost on us!

Would Calvin Approve of Some “Calvinists”? I Think Not!

In Calvinism, Evangelism, Gospel, Sermons on September 5, 2008 at 1:40 pm

As part of my DMin project, I am immersing myself in all things Spurgeon. I cannot tell you how much his sermons and writings have fed my soul and strengthened me toward holiness and my calling to preach.

The latest book I’m working through is Iain H. Murray’s Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism. Murray contends that this was Spurgeon’s first major controversy in his ministry at New Park Street Church (soon to be Metropolitan Tabernacle). Though he was only 20 years old at the time, his preaching began to truly gain momentum in London. Yet, some of the Strict and Particular Baptists who held a hard line concerning Calvinism began to exclude Spurgeon.  Spurgeon noted that they felt his “doctrine was too low for them.”

Spurgeon responded not in the newspaper but through his sermons which were published for a penny a copy, having a readership of approximately 20,000 people. 

A Calvinist Preaching Evangelistically?  Absolutely!

The reason they felt that his doctrine was “too low” was that he claimed to be a Calvinist but preached evangelistically.  In a sermon in 1859, during a service in which the foundation stone was laid for the new Metropolitan Tabernacle, he said: “The stone has to be rolled away from the sepulchre of Calvinism yet.  The Calvinism of some men is not the Calvinism of John Calvin, nor the Calvinism of the Puritans, much less the Christianity of God.”  You see, what some called “Calvinism” was a type of teaching which said that there should be no appeal to humanity in regards to responding to the Gospel.  These “hyper-Calvinists” believe that the Gospel call should only be given to the elect sinners, for this is who the preacher should have in view.  

Spurgeon rightly rejected this.  While the Scriptures do speak of God predestining and electing (see his sermon on “High and Broad Doctrine” among scores of others), he saw from the New Testament a mandate not just to talk about the facts of salvation, but to make an appeal toward all sinners to trust Christ.  It is not up to men to determine who they think are elect and not–let God sort that out.  Everyone understands that their salvation is a gift from God.  

But to rely on such a subject emotion as to be one who must wait on emotions and feelings before you believe those commands and invitations to repent and receive Christ is dangerous and ultimately self-centered.  

What Did Calvin Have to Say About Evangelism?

John Calvin and his theology have come under considerable fire.   Some reject Calvinism because they deem that he and his theology discourage evangelism and even prayer.  The objection is, “If God has already chosen who will be saved, then why bother sharing the Gospel?”  Calvin addresses this himself:

Since we do not know who belongs to the number of the predestined and who does not, it befits us so to feel as to wish that all be saved. So it will come about that, whoever we come across, we shall study to make him a sharer of peace . . . even severe rebuke will be administered like medicine, lest they should perish or cause others to perish. But it will be for God to make it effective in those whom He foreknew and predestined (John Calvin, Concerning the Eternal Predestination of God, trans. J. K. S. Reid, London: James Clarke and Co., Limited, 1961, p. 138)

So those Calvinist who not only reject sharing the Gospel with all peoples or at least de-emphasize it.  This is not biblical and, ultimately, its cruel.  How could someone who calls themselves a Christian believe that Christ and his apostles taught that sharing the Gospel takes away from God’s sovereign grace.  Yes, Christ says that he has called out a people from this wicked world (John 6:37, 44; Matthew 11:25-27), as does Paul (Ephesians 1:3-4, Romans 8:29-30), as well as Peter (1 Peter 1:3-6).  It comes along the same theme of God calling the people of Israel out from the world (Genesis 12:1-3; Deuteronomy 7:7-8).  

But did not Jesus also say, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28).  Did not Paul say, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.  For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me” (Colossians 1:28-29, ESV)?

Ray Van Neste notes concerning Calvin and Calvinism, “Calvin’s doctrine of predestination did not make the preaching of the gospel unnecessary; instead, it made preaching necessary because it was by the preaching of the gospel that God had chosen to save the predestined.”  (I would highly recommend reading the entirety of Van Neste’s article.)  With this, Calvin even set up a school of missions where he would send out missionaries to teach the Gospel that was recovered during the Reformation.  

Conclusion

So if you hear a nasty rumor that Calvinists are not concerned with evangelism, those “Calvinists” are not from the ilk of John Calvin in the least.  We know that God is already at work in those whom He has called— we can evangelize with confidence.

The Gospel in Six Minutes (John Piper)

In Evangelism, Gospel on March 24, 2008 at 10:47 am