Developing an Evangelism Program PII
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. 2 Timothy 3:1-4
Why is that? Why would people not want to be in Christ? Why would they not respond to our outreach programs? The basic reason is that most people will place their trust in anything that is not God, such as their money, their career, and the high standard of living we enjoy in the United States. Overseas, trust is placed in clans, tribes, idols, religion, and various beliefs systems. People do not see the peril that is right in front of them. Just click on the evening news and you will be inundated by the moral erosion of our culture, and the flight from godly values (Rom.1-2; Eph. 2:1-3). The reason is that people are in sin, and they prefer that sin to God's love. It blinds, courts, and misleads! They do not want to be convicted away from their beliefs!
People like to see themselves as gods; their will is as a protected castle, and they will not bow to the siege of anything that comes against it-even that of Christ. Christ has a plan of love that feeds, not a siege that starves (A siege is when an army surrounds a castle before they storm it. It may take days and even months to starve the people into submission if the army cannot get past their defenses such as the rampart, walls, or mote). Yet, too many ignore the call, and refuse to give up their will. The walk of the Christian faith flies in the face of our individualistic culture that says we can do it our way, and we can have it our way. This mindset is not uniquely American; it is that original, sinful nature we all have (Matt. 10:32-33; 1 John 2:15-17).
We do not have to be perfect or even fundamentally good. All we need to do is be who we are. Just watch the biographies of famous people on cable TV, and how they lived their lives. They chased drugs, pleasures, and wealth, only to find despair, and, sometimes, even death. They thought they had everything, only to find they had nothing in their lives. It all comes down to the fact that people do not like to be convicted! They do not like nor want to be challenged; they want to do as they deem fit (Duet. 12:8; Jud. 17:6)!
We have to realize that we got ourselves into this situation through sin. At the same time, we must realize that we are unable to get ourselves out of it! Humanity is powerless to know God without God's intervention (1 Cor. 1:8-9; Phil.1:6; 1 Thess. 1:3-6; 5:23-24; 2 Tim. 1-12; 4:18; 2 Pet. 1:10). We are at the mercy of God, and God responds to us with mercy and forgiveness. We got ourselves into trouble; He is willing to get us out of it. The problem is that most people will not respond. They will not reach out a hand to take His, even when they are drowning!
No one wants to admit his or her depravity or helplessness, so we come up with all kinds of ideas and ways that we do not need Christ (Isa. 59:2; Rom. 1:18-19; 3:9; 19; 5:12-17; 21; Gen 3; Acts 17:26; 1 Cor. 15:22). The idea that we do not need Christ is not a new, twenty-first century phenomena, but was stated by Christ Himself as he told the story; A certain ruler asked him, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Why do you call me good? Jesus answered. No one is good-except God alone (Luke 18:18-19). The ruler, who was some kind of leader, was flattering Jesus, and assumed his good deeds would bring him eternal life. Jesus quickly responded that goodness is found in God alone, and that his flattery was insincere. Even if we are sincere, we will be sincerely wrong. The leader failed to do what was required, and his good deeds amounted to nothing.
The rich man refused to see his sin or to repent. He was only able to see his needs and desires. These desires became the barrier to knowing and growing in Christ. We are never to think too highly of ourselves, lest pride would enter in to ruin us. Pride removes God from our equation of life and relationships. It removes honesty and sincerity. It literally destroys our relationships and takes away our joy! The irony is that pride is used to seek fulfillment of the self and joy, but, it only results in sheer despair (Phil. 2:1-4). Jesus, in the Luke passage, tellsus never to allow money to stand in our way of Him. When we do, it blocks us off from the true treasures and blessings He has for us! Money represents anything that takes the place of our Lord!If you fear you will lose out in happiness or lose out in what seems important, the fact is-you won't! Wealth in itself is not wrong, but it can be a very powerful, false god that subjugates us; Christ frees us and blesses us! Allow Jesus Christ to free you from the self-destruction of your pride!
When we think we are a god to ourselves, we have a much exaggerated view of ourselves. Even if you are a model citizen, and live your life to help others, you will not even be close to godhood. Jesus knew the leader lived for his possessions, and would miss the Kingdom of God because of his own efforts. It is the righteousness of Christ alone that gives us the hope of salvation; our only effort is the acceptance and trust of what was done on our behalf. Of course, if you are perfect and born perfect, then you do not need to worry; however, no one has ever been perfect except for Christ. Too many people do think they are perfect, and boy, will they be surprised in the end! We all need help because we are not perfect. Fortunately for us, Christ was perfect on our behalf; He was our substitution; He is perfect; all we need to do is respond in gratitude and be our best for His glory.
The bottom line is that most people do not want to be bothered by religious things or be convicted; yet, the purpose of our existence is to be reconciled to Him. We have to be convicted in order to receive His grace. The Spirit is the One who convicts; it is our will that keeps Him from that mission! The biggest problem is in recognizing that we are indeed in need, and that we must surrender ourselves to God's providence (John 3:5, 30; Gal. 2:20-21; 1 Pet 5). If we dare to despise God and His offer, then we are damned-not a pleasant future-but it will be by our own design and desire, and our blame alone. If we choose ourselves over God, then we will lose everything!
Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God. Psalm 90:1-2
This Psalm, along with many other Scriptures, tells us that God has always existed, always directed His creation, and has always provided a plan for us. God is eternal, and we are not. He has always been and will always be. There is one God, and we are not Him! This is paramount for us to understand in order to begin our walk with Christ.
If an evangelist simply stated that Christ was a great moral teacher, he would get no reprisal. If you were to witness to your neighbor boldly that Christ was a great philosopher, he or she would invite you to tea. If a billboard stated that Christ was a great example, the non-Christian would not complain. Christ is all of those, and, yet, He is not. Our Lord is a great Example, Teacher, and Philosopher, but not just a great moral philosopher, teacher, and example. He does not stop there. He is also eternal and Lord over all (John 8:24; 56-58). The world, at large, is greatly offended by the implication that Christ is God, thus, saying He is anything but God is okay. Because, if Christ is God, then our self-directed destiny would be in error, and our will would need to be controlled by Him, and we just do not want to be lorded over.
Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God. John 3:18-21
Not believing in God is not the source for judgment or being condemned, but, rather, from not believing who Christ is or what He has done. The demons believe; they just do not trust or surrender to Him. It is the rebellion that our human nature constitutes against God that gives us over to damnation. Jesus, as the perfect One, comes to us, the condemned, with an offer of hope and salvation. We see that hope, but put it off saying, I do not need it, or, I can do it alone. Jesus goes on to say that our evil nature is the cause of our condemnation, and He is the source of our hope. When we love ourselves and our deeds more than we love our Lord, then we are in trouble. This is not of God's doing, but a result of our own will and choices (Eccl. 11:9; Rom. 3:3; 1 Cor. 1:18, 23; 6:2).
The Seven Main Objections
We have already examined the two prime, root reasons why people will not come to faith In Christ. Of all the objections we hear when we seek to share our faith, these two root reasons sum up all of the objections. Under these two reasons of no one wants to admit his or her depravity or be convicted of sin, come the countless objections that people give, and many different categories they can go into. But, from my experience in youth, pastoral, and evangelism work, over 90% of these objections fall into seven main categories.
First: Trustworthiness (Galatians 1: 4-10)
People tend to object to the reliability of the Bible, and even of God. This attack and objection is rooted in the nature of the will, as most objections are. People do not want to acknowledge a prime source to which they need to submit. So, they grasp at anything with which to make a blanket to protect them from the truth, and to give them comfort for their reasons. People will attack the faith to give themselves protection for their beliefs. If a seemingly logical reason can be ascertained, then they will use it. They may say the Bible is a myth and full of contradictions, but they probably have never read it, and are only are repeating what they have heard from others who also have not read or researched the Scriptures.
Before I was a Christian, I would say almost anything, and argue with anyone, to try to prove the errors and contradictions of the Bible that I got from reading anti-Christian books. However, I rarely went to the prime source. The more I looked at the prime source, the Bible, the more I was convicted of the real Truth! As I came to understand what it means to be a Christian, I learned, over the years, that the reality of God is found in our experience of Him, and being obedient to His will.I know that God exists because I know Him personally. This is a proof from personal testimony and personal reason. But, many use science as a reason to disprove the Bible's reliability. For this, we can see the trustworthiness of Christ just by the reliability of history that proves the historical aspects of the Bible. Even science-the reason why people object to the Bible-can be expounded through apologetics to prove the Bible.
Even though we have the answers to any objection through gifted Bible Apologists, credibility will be at stake for you in witnessing. People may not want to acknowledge a God to whom they must be accountable, so they will say there is no God as a protection from the responsibility and accountability they do not want to take on. Now, we know the truth, and science and history back us up, but most people, even Christians, know little about apologetics. So, do a little research; there are a lot of Christian books, websites, and resources that are of great help. You do not need to know all the answers, but you should know where to find the answers.
Second: Pluralism (2 Timothy 3:6-9)
This is also called Postmodernism. We live in a "politically correct" culture in the West, where offending someone's belief is a cardinal sin-unless Christianity is the target.
Most people in Americatoday want to believe that all religions are the same, and all roads lead to God. People will respond in a way such as, why does it matter what I believe? They say it is arrogant and narrow minded to believe that Christianity is the only way. This objection usually is expressed in the most passionate, negative responses because people want to believe what they want, and do not want to be dictated to or directed to Truth. The arrogance is in us and our determined will to go our own way; the ultimate pride and condescension is not Christianity, but rather our refusal to surrender our arrogance. Christianity is the true and only way that God provides for us out of His love and grace.
It is our human nature to strive to be on top. Two kids will argue over who gets the bigger piece of cake; so it is with adults who argue their right to themselves. We are always involved in tasks to prove our value and worth.
We often hear, what happens to the person who never heard the Gospel, like those tribal people in Africa? The fact is that most people cannot fathom that God is in control and sovereign, because it interferes with their comfort level. If they can rationalize that God is not sovereign, and that there are people not in His control, then they are "off the hook."
The key to providing evidence for the truth of Christianity is not rooted in the skill of the argument; rather, it is in the love of the person presenting the argument! Your life, and how you live it, is the greatest persuasive power you can have on someone (Eph 4:2; 5:9; Col 3:12-15)!
Third: Need (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
People do not want to admit to a need for something that is outside them, or see the need and urgency of their plight. So, you may hear responses such as, it is okay for you but I do not need it, or, Christianity is just a crutch for weak people. People get so entwined in their own lives that they never look up; all they see is their busyness, their accomplishments, or karma. They may see religion, in general, as a pacifier to the masses, as Communism was. They may believe that people should be in control of their own destinies, and that we are gods unto ourselves.
People get themselves into all kinds of addictions trying to find a substitute for God. They fear loneliness, a deep yearning for companionship that other people cannot provide, so they get involved in perverted activities as a substitute, only to have that yearning still unfulfilled.
People see religion as a barrier to science and rational thought, when, in fact, the opposite is true. Christianity is based on solid, rational, logical, and consistent reason. The will to reject the truth is like when the people on the Titanic refused to believe they were in danger as their ship sank, then panicked in the last minutes! They may also see religion, in general, as a reaction to a fear complex or that religion is an unenlightened way to view the universe. Yet, science has never given an answer to the basic beginnings and reasons of existence. God is our reason, our meaning, and our purpose in life-not being unto ourselves.
Fourth: Suffering (1 Peter 4:12-18)
As human beings, we are corporal in nature. That means we have a physical body with nerves and fragility. Suffering is a very negative aspect to our nature. After all, who likes to suffer? So, when people take a look around the world, and even in their own lives, and see suffering, the question arises, why would a loving God allow suffering and evil into the world? In other words, when they see suffering, they assume that if there is a God, then He does not care. And, since He does not care, then it does not matter how one lives or what one does.
What the non-Christian may not understand is that suffering is a result of our evil, sinful nature and arrogance against God. Suffering is not from God; it is from us. God is the One who offers an undeserved plan of redemption to bring us out of it. When we accuse God of allowing evil, it is like accusing a bank teller of robbery because they handled the money, while the real robber gets away. Suffering is the result of our choosing to disobey God, not a result of God. He does not have a malicious nature.
The modern person considers suffering as negative, because it does not line up with happiness, peace, and joy. Some Christians have furthered the problem by teaching that suffering is a sign that you are out of God's will and have unredeemed sin. However, this is not Biblical. Yes, sin is the main factor, but, more often than not, the consequences of the sins of others become cumulative and compacting, and affect us. It is a difficult journey, but take heart; our sufferings are very temporary in the scheme of our eternal existence (Matthew 5:10; James 1:2; 1 Peter 4:13; Hebrews 10:24; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 12:9 Philippians 1:19-25; 2:17).
We only see a small, small fragment of life and meaning. God sees the whole picture. Our time here is a mere vapor to what is ahead. We do not see the big picture, but only the here and now. He sees us with eternity in mind, so He can help us to be formed and matured for His purpose. His plan is best. Although it can be a hard and long road for some, it is worth it more than we can possibly imagine! Take this to heart; He is there-guiding, loving, empowering, and even carrying us through it!Check out John 16; 33; Romans 8:18and 1 Peter 4:19!
My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. (Psalm 119:50)
For further help please see our articles on: God Really Does Have a Purpose Behind Your Problems!and, Growing through Difficult Times of Waiting and Confusion . at www.intothyword.org
Fifth: Death (Matthew 10:28-31)
The non-Christian may not want to admit to a death in their past, or their own impending demise, so an objection to Christ comes out of it. They may deny death altogether-the afterlife part, that is. Since there is no afterlife, there is no God, and since there is no God, there are no moral absolutes. Thus, people are in charge and in control of their environment, and, again, have no need for accountability or responsibility. So, the individual can rationalize his or her own fate and values and do what he or she wants without fear of reprisal from a holy God. The other possibility is a denial of death stemming from an earlier loss, or the inability to recognize our immortal nature. Out of this view often comes the reckless endangerment of the self by thrill seekers who take on unrealistic, unsafe challenges.
The great news for the people with this objection is there is no death in Christianity; we are made for eternity and God has a place for us! Share the eternal comfort and position we have in Christ. John 1:1-14 tells us that Jesus is God who came to us both as a human being and as fully God. He experienced life and death. He has risen from the dead, (John 2:19-21; 19:33-37; 20:1-10), He has prepared a place for us, and has covered our sin so we can have eternal life (John 14:1-4; Eph. 2:1).This life is merely a temporary venture until we are called home (Luke 16:22-23, 2 Cor. 5:8, Phil. 1:21-23, Rev. 14:11)!
Sixth: Spiritual Warfare (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
We need to know that we have an enemy who will do whatever it takes to destroy our relationship with the Lord. He works best by blinding us to the truth and/or getting us to focus on things that take us away from God. Sometimes, these can be "good" things, such as being so busy with our children and their activities that we never go to church. Our enemy will also prevent others from gaining access to God, access lost out of our pride being inflected on others. Our enemy is the Devil. We have an enemy who uses our own ideas and conflicts against us, and tricks our will and desire away from God. Satan's strategy is that he joins the church and does not fight against it. Satan is at his best, his strongest, and most powerful in the church, because, as Christians, we let him. He causes more distraction by using Christians against each other than any occult practice could ever do. To use a Biblical illustration, Satan spends more time watering and fertilizing the tares/weeds (evil agendas and personal desires) than he does in cutting down the wheat (devotion to God).
Satan is the angel of light who fell from grace by his pride (verses Christ is Light the real Light) (Isa. 14:12; Eze. 29:12-19; Luke 10:18; 1Tim. 3:6); God has not taken his glory away; he is not a goat-headed monster with a pointy tail and a trident (the pitchfork). Thus, he deceives us with a little of the truth, and a lot of misdirected imitation of the Christian life. Satan accomplishes his task by manipulating us to focus on our desires and to be in conflict with one another. Satan spends little time in what we see in the movies-that is, an outright attack on us. We need not blame all of our problems on the devil, as so many Christians do. They do this to take the responsibility away from themselves, focusing all the blame on Satan. But, we do need to take precautions and actions to avoid Satan's influence on us and our neighbors.
Breaking Satan's influence (see our articles on Satan in the Discipleship channel) means breaking his strongholds of influence. Identify where he is operating, commit as many people to pray there as possible, and continue that prayer. His influence and stronghold will be torn down. (A stronghold is an area where Satan is at work in a concentrated effort. This could be a Hindu shrine in India or a pornographer in the US-or even a dead church.)
The key here is prayer and more prayer, a subject which we will be tackling later!
Seventh: Fear (Job 15:20-25)
Stemming from most of these objections is the underlying fear of the unknown and unexplainable. Most people, Christians included, do not have an accurate view of theology. They base their beliefs on irrational, preconceived ideas that they pick up from a smorgasbord of places. With non-Christians this is even more prominent!
Remember the two root causes for these objections? People do not like being convicted. Now, add to that the fear of being convicted! Even Christians! I had a friend several years ago who refused to ever go and hear a missionary speak. He was a leader in the church and a growing Christian. One day I asked him, why? His response was very honest and to the point; he said he did not want to be convicted, and have to leave for a foreign destination to be a missionary. This, for some reason, really scared him; maybe it had something to do with his parents being missionaries and the problems they dealt with that he did not want to face. I explained to him that God would not call him to anything he was not gifted to do, or had the desire to do, so to quit worrying. I guess he got over it, because he spent a summer in Russia a few years ago.
This grip of fear keeps Christians from growing because they do not want to be convicted. And, this fear is especially rooted in non-Christians! In addition, it is a very powerful motivator to the non-Christian who does not want to give up his or her perceived lifestyle out of fear that the Christian life is boring. They may feel like my friend who was afraid to go overseas. They may think they have to be some kind of monk, or they may have some perverted view of a Christian they got from TV or from misdirected Christians.
The non-Christian may fear God's vengeance, thinking his or her sins and deeds are not forgivable and, therefore, they would be rejected. It is a basic misunderstanding of the Gospel message; and, since they do not understand it, they reject it. I believe the biggest barrier is the surrender of the will. People just do not want to give themselves up; they think being a Christian is a sign of weakness and they do not want to be known for that (John 3:5; 30; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:10-14).
First Peter 3:15 is as clear for us today as it was for Paul; too many people rely on themselves to get through life while giving God the raspberry. We, as Christians, need to wake up and see the peril that the world is in-that our own friends, family, and neighbors are in. We are in a ship that is sinking from under our feet, yet we live our lives as if nothing were happening, just "partying on, dudes."
The key to evangelizing people that have fear as their concern-whether they fear God's wrath or the trivialities of life-is sharing the love and forgiveness of our Lord. The life of Paul (Acts 9) is an excellent place to start. They need to be reassured that, yes, God is a God of wrath, but He is also a God of forgiveness! He not only forgave us, He took our punishment in our place. Therefore, we have no need to fear Him-or anything else for that matter (Prov. 1:7; Matt. 10:28; 14:27; 1 Heb. 2:14-18)!
We need to communicate to others the need for Christ, and then realize the objections we may face. People do not see the need, and Christians are too busy in their lifeboats-ignoring the cries, afraid of being swamped. Our call is to be constant and do as we teach, do as we say, and act as we teach others about our Lord. There is no reason ever to make things up, bend the truth, or water down the gospel message to make it more palatable! Integrity, consistency, love, care, respect, and listening without being judgmental are utmost, important, and effective evangelistic tools for the apprehensive Christian sharing the love of God to someone for the first time (1 Thess. 2: 10-12)! Why? Because, hypocrisy gives people a false impression of God! Insincerity gives people a false impression of who we are called to be; it nullifies our witness and character! Because, God is righteous and just; God exercises grace. The willingness to model Christ's character is far more vital for us today than the willingness to preach it. God wants us to be authentic-not pretentious (2 Cor. 8:9; 1 Pet. 2:13-17; 3:13-22)!