The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Friday, July 15, 2011

Why I Hate American Evangelism

This is definitely a rant blog. So, be warned. 

I think America has largely forgotten that a soul cannot be saved by the will of man, either the person "choosing Christ" or the person presenting the gospel to the unbeliever. This, of course, goes back to a theological issue, and shows the vast expanse between American Christianity and the true gospel. Calvinism still affirms the sovereignty of God, Calvinism still affirms that a sinner is dead in trespasses and sins, unable and unwilling to repent and believe the gospel. These doctrines have long been jettisoned by most who claim to be Christians, including many seminaries and pastors. In fact, the real issue is that at the top, at the seminaries, these doctrines have been lost. If we are to see the true gospel, and true, biblical evangelism, return to the States, it will start in the seminaries. It will start with pastors being entrenched in biblical theology, having the importance of the gospel and getting it rightly stressed, and the Holy Spirit moving in men to proclaim the gospel with boldness.

We have a long way to go. But we can all contribute to the change, to the much needed modern day reformation. All Christians, and I mean all, are called to proclaim the gospel to the lost, and to live in light of the gospel. Meaning our words, as well as our actions, should exemplify Jesus Christ, what He has done, and how He lived.  Of course, to actually know how we are to live, and who Christ was, and what He has done, requires rigorous study of Scripture.

But rigorous study of Scripture seems to be one of the biggest planks missing in conservative American Christianity today. Most seem to say that God would not make the gospel complicated, that it would be simple, and that much study of the Bible is not needed to proclaim the gospel faithfully. That is poor reasoning. Just look at the book of Romans, or really the whole New Testament. Much of it is laying out the details of the gospel, doctrines such as justification, propitiation, regeneration, saved by grace through faith alone, etc. All of these words are biblical words, describing our salvation. These are not words theologians have made up. Yet how many Christians could actually give you the definitions for these words? You may say they know the meaning of these words, just not by the big words themselves, but that too is not true. I have discovered that many Christians do not even realize that we are enslaved to sin before we are saved. This of course is because a gospel of free will power is what is preached today, a false gospel that is damning this nation faster than any Joel Osteen or Benny Hinn sermon.

The inevitable result of free will theology, a shallow understanding of the gospel, results in an evangelism that, in practice, denies the supernatural nature of salvation. We have forgotten that God brings a person to faith, God makes man willing to believe the gospel, and it is God who breaks our slavery to sin and empowers us to live for Him. In essence, we have replaced the Holy Spirit, or at the very least downgraded Him to an ineffectual, resistible force that merely tries to swoon, rather than a sovereign power that irresistibly changes the will and gives new spiritual life to the sinner. This works out like this- today evangelism resembles trying to pitch, trying to sell, salvation, whatever the cost, rather than proclaiming that salvation is of the Lord, that it is God who must change the sinner, not the sinner changing himself. This mean that anything goes. Want to play on emotions to get a "decision" for Christ? That's all good, whatever it takes to get the sinner to change his or her will by their own power. Want to scare someone into the kingdom of heaven? No problem. And why not just directly appeal to the will, calling sinners to "make Jesus proud" by choosing to live for Him? All these are ways in which Americans evangelize today, and these unbiblical tactics present a false gospel. These are the reasons I hate American evangelism.

We need to stop manipulating, playing on emotions, scaring into the kingdom, and calling for decisions. The truth is, the Bible says that no amount of manipulation, no amount of emotionalism, no amount of scare tactics, and no amount of calling sinners to choose Christ over sin, will bring a sinner back from the dead into new spiritual life. A dead man can't be coerced into anything. A dead man can't do anything. It is the Spirit that gives life, the flesh profits nothing. Those who are in the flesh, cannot please God. We should be preaching the need to be born again, not the need to give up sins by our own willpower. Until the sinner understands that there is nothing he or she can do to save themselves, there is no way the sinner will trust in something besides themselves to be saved. The law of God is supposed to bring us to the end of our ropes, to show us that there is nothing we can do for salvation. Then the gospel is supposed to show us that everything that we could not do to save ourselves, Christ has done to save us. The gospel is the good news that salvation has been accomplished for all the elect, and that this salvation is applied to sinners by faith, through the regenerating work of the Spirit. Until we preach this truth, which is the true gospel, we will continue to lead sinners to look inward to themselves, and their own willpower, for salvation.

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