The Blight on True Evangelism
By Henry Jaegers
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. (Matthew 23: 15)
This verse came to me several years ago while I was de-programming a person who was held captive by one of the major cults. It took a lot of research on my part to understand the teachings and with a clear understanding of the Scriptures, it was not difficult to spot the inconsistencies and errors in that religious system. The effort was rewarded and the cult member received deliverance. She received understanding which caused her to discontinue the indoctrination that she was receiving.
We understand how cults work and the methods they use in gaining converts. However, there is another type of proselyting that is considered to be, and it is not restricted to the cults, being very prominent today among so-called- evangelical Christians. For lack of better terminology, I call it "spiritual-scalp- hunting”. Its purpose is to gain trophies in order to exalt the so-called evangelist in the eyes of others. It is not hard to talk people into believing something that is not true if they do not have a base for detecting truth and error. Satan, himself, is a master of twisting and turning Scripture in order to deceive others and so is the spiritual scalp hunter. Winning a convert is the most important thing in the minds of these people and if they do happen to convert anyone, they would become scalp hunters themselves.
When you speak to many Christians today and asked them what it means to be a Christian, the common understanding is that when they die, they shall go to heaven. That is the most important thing in being a Christian. Although that is understood by many, there is nothing to support the idea for this being a reason to become a Christian. Many evangelists like to preach on subjects like hell and the great tribulation and use fear tactics in order to gain conversions. The practice is unbiblical, the motives are self-seeking, and the result is a total misunderstanding of why the gospel is good news.
Jesus never left the impression that being his follower was an easy thing. He said, "if any man will come after me, let him deny himself (of self), and take up his cross daily and follow me. He that loveth his life shall lose it and he that hated his life for my sake and the gospel shall find it." He told one of the frivolous would-bes- followers who was excited about the prospect of following Jesus and seeing all his miracles, received the word from Jesus that said: "foxes have holes, and birds of the air have their nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head". Jesus said, “enter ye at the strait gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there be that go in there-at because narrow is the way and strait is the gate that leads us to eternal life and few there be that find it.”
True salvation is the work of God and only the Holy Spirit can make a Christian. It cannot be done through argument or debating, it comes through conviction of sin by the Holy Spirit and results in an abundance of life through being faithful to his life principles found throughout the Scripture. Spiritual- scalp- hunting cannot produce true Christians because it cannot produce the evidence that only the indwelling Spirit can produce through a life surrendered to Christ. So, what is involved in this matter of true evangelism?
1 it begins with the true recognition of the need for God in my life where I am willing to turn from my selfish endeavors and embrace being Christlike in my character.
2. It continues with a genuine concern for lost souls. If I do not experience this true conversion that comes from God, I am not able to have the concern for others that only God can produce in me.
3. True evangelism incorporates a proper understanding of the Scripture. This does not happen overnight and it takes time for us to develop and gain a clear understanding of the true purpose and meaning of the Scriptures that we quote to others. We must have a plan but the plan must be true to the intended meaning of Scripture. (Keeping it in its context).
4. A deep conviction of the importance of prayer. Only prayer and commitment will activate the power of the Holy Spirit. True prayer must be exemplified by the love of Christ flowing out from me to others. A proper devotional life will result in producing the fruit of the spirit.
5. True evangelism produces patience and discernment as to the right time to share with others. There is nothing in Scripture that tells us that we must talk to everyone we come in contact with concerning the gospel. True prayer helps us to understand who is ready and when the time is right; when that happens, helping them to prayer will take place. We must not befriend the people with the purpose of producing conversion. We must be genuine friends and that means often, that we keep quiet about our religion and spirituality until we have earned the right to being a true friend and speaking when God opens that door. Only the Holy Spirit can prepare the heart and that comes through praying. The Holy Spirit can give discernment as to when that should take place. Someone has said that it takes at least seven times for the average person to hear the gospel before he is ready to follow Christ.
6. It is necessary that when a person receives Christ, he is properly mentored, instructed and encouraged in the faith. He must be told the importance of fellowship and the importance of encouraging each other in our gathering together in worship.
Being a true evangelist does not happen overnight, that by the grace of God he will use any instrument that we choose to give to him. Remember the little boy with a few loaves and fishes who gave them to Jesus and he fed the multitude. Our part is to be faithful with what God has given to us and you will be amazed at what God will do.