My apologies for the delay in this post. Perhaps I was wrong to post number 04 as “The Heart of Evangelism” because this post is going to deal more strictly to the gospel but I suppose it is all relative when it comes down to the general details. Okay this post originates from the post below this one, regarding the evangelical event run by a church in Blacktown. A typical evangelical question we like to see answered is “Where is He?” that is, God. Where is God amongst all the suffering, pain and injustice of the world. Read that carefully again and you might just pick up the discrepancy there.
I did not like the speaker’s talk very much, despite the fact that he was a pastor; the format of his talk seemed very disjoint with no logical flow. In fact in the isn’t he hadn’t even gone past the basic observations in the world; that is we, who claim to be Christians, may see our faith shatter from all the suffering around us because we expected God to protect us from the bad things in the world. And all he got through in the first half hour was asking the question “Why?”, not answering it, just asking.
And from that point on, his talked started to fall and in the end he kept on repeating “We want to see God work in this place, don’t we?” and then “Well tonight if you truly want to have your life fixed up and you truly want to see God work in your life then believe strongly and just ask him.” And the talked concluded on that note. Everything else in between really did seem like a waste of time. But there was one thing I noticed that I thought was the most strange thing ever; something that made this talk different from nearly every other talk I’ve heard. I wonder if anyone on the night actually noticed it. One thing was missing. One word was missing throughout his 45 minute talk; and that was the name “Jesus”.
To be precise He did say the word “Jesus” but only through quoting scripture. But apart from that one time he never used the name “Jesus” in his talk, with direct reference to Him. And that was something that made me really disappointed about the night. So many people turned up to a wonderful evangelistic service, with great music and stuff. And the entire night get ruined because in a sense, Jesus was not part of it.
I was more afraid at how new believers would receive the gospel on that night; in terms of “how” I mean that they’re going to receive the gospel without Jesus, even though the entire gospel is BASED on Jesus. How can you spread the gospel without mentioning Jesus at all? It was absolutely absurd hearing this pastor preach.
Before I move on about Jesus, there was also a slight misunderstanding concerning his points about the suffering in the world. He moved on to say that the world is awful, full of pain, etc; okay that is logical acceptable because it is widely observed. And then he moved on to say that “God wants us to have a wonderful life, He doesn’t want us to suffer’”. That is also true BUT, and it is a huge BUT, on what basis does he make such a claim. For example, I tell you that “the sky is blue; BECAUSE, if you look up you’ll see that it is so’”. He tells you that “God wants you to have a wonderful life, BECAUSE…” where was the reason for his claim? Where was the evidence to back up that statement? It might be true but believers don’t know what evidence provides enough reason for such a statement.
And in an apologetics book I read a while back, this is what is known as “wish-fulfilment”, painting a picture of God in a way so that it is appealing to your eyes, regardless of what the truth is. Some atheists, according to the book, do not believe in God because they reckon that the character God was created as “wish-fulfilment” by those who are suffering in the world. Some atheists believe that “Christians” saw the horridness in the world, and in strict denial they conjured up an image of God to provide them reassurance, and in that way they fulfil their “wish” of having a God who can take away the nagging problem of suffering.
This was exactly the way the pastor was presenting God, it made God sound like wish fulfilment to everyone. “Are you tired of being miserable? Are you broken by the financial crisis? Well God can solve all of your problems!” Such a statement is true but there was not evidence or reasoning in to convict that as the truth; what the speaker said sounded like nothing more than wish-fulfilment. This is an absolute “no-no” in evangelism. You cannot just present claims of God (even if they’re true) without authoritative evidence from some source, because it seems as if you’re just appealing to new believers. And sure enough those people will put their faith in God without question, because He is being presented in a way where He can satisfy their desires, there would be no other reason for them to accept God.
On the contrary, what is vital to evangelism is the fact that God already has done something to change the world; in fact the world is changed. What did He do? He sent Jesus to die for everyone’s sin so that those who believe in Him shall be saved from the pain and suffering in the world. Isn’t that good enough already? Those who have faith in Jesus already are saved spiritually; whatever happens to their physical bodies is irrelevant.
What is wrong with the world is not the financial crisis, violence, famine, none of these are the real problem. The biggest problem in the world is sin, and God had already dealt with sin through Jesus. Don’t you see? God has dealt with the troubles of the world; God has rescued the believers from impending doom, what more do you want? Are we going to ask God for another Jesus event? No; that is absurd. If we need Jesus to die for our sins again then it’s like the first time was redundant. No, God has already done more than enough for everyone in the world and so it is foolish thinking that we NEED God to work more in our lives.
Until new believers get this fundamental fact into their system, I am afraid that they’ll be building their faith in God through the wrong facts and hence having faith in the wrong things; things that God didn’t promise. This is a crucial starting point as evangelism probably is the first point of contact between new Christians and God; and it should be made to be the right beginning.