Recently I attended a men’s breakfast at a church and the speaker who was a pastor on staff was giving a message on leadership out of the book of Nehemiah.
Some of the points that he was trying to make was that the main focus of the church is Matthew 28:19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
So far so good, I agree.
He mentioned that the book of the law was read and it brought such conviction of sin over the people that they repented. Nehemiah 8.
Again, I have no disagreement there.
Then in one fell swoop he mentioned that he and another pastor were exploring a ministry called Q Place http://www.qplace.com where you get to know a person and listen to them before sharing Christ. “You can’t just walk up to someone and tell them about Christ!”
That is a false teaching. My thoughts went to many scriptures and experiences in the Bible such as Moses, the Prophets (Samuel, Jonah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.), Kings, Jesus preaching repentance, Jesus sending out the disciples two by two, Jesus many open air sermons, Peter at Pentecost, Stephen before the council, Paul at Mars Hill, the apostles going to the synagogue and teaching there on the Sabbath.
Now I will agree that when speaking with a person, we do need to listen to them and to answer them. 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
I talked to the speaker after the breakfast and confronted him with the fact that a person has no need for Christ and His church until he sees himself as a wretched sinner in need of a God who can save him from the only problem they have. Sin!
He could not argue or deny that truth, yet his response was the oft spoken rebuttal, “Well, that’s your calling”. I thought the primary mission of the church was the great commission?
NOTE: This was reiterated by a Pastor of the same church in a message just recently – “You can’t make a disciple without having a relationship with your neighbor. You can’t make a disciple without having a friendship with your neighbor.
It seems as if the institutional church wants to yoke themselves to the world, believing that they can bring a person to Christ and they’ll eventually become a disciple. It’s not a biblical approach and a departure from a scriptural gospel. A person only becomes a disciple when they repent and believe the gospel. Then they’ll know why they need Christ and why they need the church.
I would like to reprint an excerpt from a book that a friend of mine wrote entitled The Ambassador’s Handbook (Available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org): Let’s look at what our ambassadorship does not involve:
- We don’t try to draw the lost; that’s God’s job: John 6:44 – No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.
- We don’t try to convince their intellect that Christianity is true and all other pagan religions are false. This is a true statement, but it’s not our job to convince them; it’s the Holy Spirit’s job: John 16:8 – And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
- We aren’t responsible to have an answer for every intellectual rabbit trail someone sends us on; the lost don’t have to first unlearn false beliefs and then learn Christianity. When the law humbles them they’ll have the fear of the Lord and then they’ll be capable and eager to listen to the gospel: Pro 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Pro 16:6 …and by the fear of the LORD men depart from evil.
Ro 8:7 Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.
(Keep in mind that I’m differentiating between preaching the gospel and defending the faith. If someone won’t hear the gospel, or you’ve already given it to them, you can still defend the faith by being salt and light by your words and deeds. Matthew 5:13-16, 1 Peter 3:15).
- We aren’t responsible to convince them that they’re sinners; that’s the Holy Spirit’s job:
John 16:8 And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.
Ro 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another.
- We don’t ask them if they want to ‘receive Jesus Christ as their Savior’. ‘Receiving Christ’ as John 1:12 states is what happens to them when they’re saved; it’s not what’s required on their part to be saved – they must repent and place their faith in Christ by believing the gospel. By doing this they are saved and then they receive Christ.
- We don’t ask them to make a ‘decision’ for Christ. They must ‘believe’ and ‘repent’ to be saved – which inherently requires making many ‘decision’s. If they decide intellectually, without repentance, they cannot be saved (Luke 13:3, 5, Ro 10:9-10).
End of Excerpt
At the beach.
I’d like to share a few experiences of “walking up to someone and telling them about Christ!” On Wednesday or Thursday evenings we’ll go down to the Milwaukee lakefront and walk up to people, handing out gospel tracts and listening to them talk about their favorite topic. Themselves!
3 Young Muslim Men
As we were walking in the parking lot, we found 3 young men and handed them gospel tracts. They were the Million Dollar Bill and they kind of chuckled. They were Saudi’s and students down at Marquette. They identified themselves as Muslims so I asked them to consider a man in front of a judge who was found guilty of raping a woman and then slitting her throat, would the judge let that person go based on his good works. “No way”, was their response.
I took the time to take them through the commandments and they admitted to being liars, thieves, blasphemers and adulterers at heart. I asked if when they stood before the judge (God), would he find them guilty or innocent? There was much in the way of, “well, this is what we believe”. I explained that they would be guilty because by His goodness, God much punish the evil doer and that they were deserving of hell, an eternal punishment.
I then took time to explain the difference between Islam and Christianity, between religion and relation, that God provided a way for them to be forgiven and have eternal life. I also explained, that the only way for their salvation, was through Jesus Christ, His death on the Cross, burial and resurrection and by putting their trust in Him, the perfect God/Man who kept the law perfectly where we fail. I also shared that they needed to repent, to turn away and forsake their sin and that they needed a new birth by the Spirit of God.
Now with Muslims, it usually will come up that “How can God die?”, so I explained to them that God did not die but the man, Jesus died but the spirit never dies.
These Muslim men were very respectful, we listened to one another. We exchanged thoughts with one another but most importantly the gospel was shared.
Carrie Alone in the Car
We came upon, Carrie sitting alone in her car and began a conversation. She explained that she was alone, getting older and her health was beginning to fade. She said that her son was offering her a place with his family but she didn’t want to be a burden on him.
We acknowledge all of that and suggested that perhaps she should be thankful and accept his generous offer.
We then switched to the spiritual and that really was the topic. Carrie had knowledge of God but it was more of a spiritual experience. She had some bible-speak, that’s what I’ll call it.
We were able to take Carrie through the law and the gospel and she received the words graciously.