Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)
TITLE: Will It Ever Be the Same Again
By Larry Whittington
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I don’t know about evangelism any more. Recently there were training sessions on soul winning, workshops on using buses in evangelism, special films to be shown to interested people and special manuals used in personal evangelism. Even now special public activities are provided to produce interest for visitors to come where they are urged to attend special classes designed to teach and instruct them about Jesus. These are all in addition to the regular church service.
Times change and I know churches change but I wonder if we will ever go back to the way evangelism was illustrated by the lives of the New Testament writers.
We won’t have the opportunity of having anything like what happened to produce a sermon like Peter’s first sermon on the day of Pentecost because we won’t have the Holy Spirit’s work like he worked that day. The result of that sermon to those religious Jews was effective. Some 3,000 people were baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. It might be nice, though, to be able to find a curious crowd of religious people that would listen to a short sermon like his seemed to be.
Also when Peter was called to the house of Cornelius, the first Gentile convert, to preach about Jesus, the whole household was assembled for the purpose of hearing all that had been commanded by the Lord. The angel of God doesn’t always work the same way these days. Here again, it would be nice to be able to go into a home where we knew was assembled the household of a devout man who feared God.
Examples from the life of Paul are interesting. Immediately after Saul, who was later called Paul, was baptized he did some preaching in the synagogues in the Damascus area. Look at Acts 9:20 (NIV). “At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.” It doesn’t seem that he was too effective from what Act 9:21 says. “All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call of this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’” Even though it says he grew more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus, he did not win many followers to Jesus. In fact, it says that the Jews conspired to kill him. Saul learned of their plan and escaped from the city with the help of the few who accepted his conversion as genuine. It seems Saul (Paul) is not doing to well with his evangelism even though he was specially chosen by God.
Paul always seemed to be going to assemblies of religious people and trying to teach them more perfectly about the true and living God. This was the God whom they believed in but they didn’t believe in His Son, Jesus Christ. At first, most of these religious people were assembled in synagogues. When these people completely refused to listen to him he went to the Gentiles. These people usually believed and worshiped one or more gods. Here Paul had to convince them there was only one true God.
Today there are many religious people. Some of them believe in the God of creation but may not know his Son, Jesus Christ. Can these people be evangelized? And of course, there are many others who have their own god they worship. Can even these be evangelized? How?
What if I tried to evangelize the way Paul did? What if I came into your assemble to teach any of those who did not know Jesus as the Son of God. What if I came in to tell them when they did believe that Jesus is the Son of God that they should obey what Jesus commanded the early Christians to do – to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins?
What about a synagogue? Would I be able to come in? They believe in the God of Creation but do not as know who Jesus is.
What about a mosque? They use a different name for the God of creation and they accept Jesus as a real person but they don’t believe him as the Son of God.
Certainly, things have changed. Evangelism has changed. Will it ever be like it was at the beginning of the church?
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