Monday, February 12, 2007

Tuesday morning evangelistic smack-down, #20

“The problem of evangelization is gigantic because the factors in it are colossal, involving on the one hand the whole world of the unsaved, and on the other the whole church of the redeemed.” (Arthur T. Pierson, Evangelistic Work in Principle and Practice)
Comment: The local pastor of a church that has been plateaued and declining will agree – “gigantic!” There are loads of lost people out there, and loads of unmoving, uncaring people in here. And therein lies the challenge of just about every church over ten years of age.
“Christ must be proclaimed by life and word so that men shall come to a point of decision, and at that point, however they may come to it, they will accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour, and thus discover the Christian experience of faith in God within the fellowship of the Church.” (Myron Green)
Comment: “Life and word.” Too many cop out saying “my life is my message” without ever talking to their friends about the truth-claims of the gospel. Others cop out by thinking their talk without a life of righteousness can make the better difference. Life and word are the two wings of an airplane, and when flying no one is fool enough to prefer one wing over the other.
“Evangelism is really the outflow and the overflow of a spiritually vigorous church. Evangelism is the glow of an inner warmth, and the go of an inner compulsion…Evangelism is not the cause but the result of a spiritual church.” (C. William Fisher)
Comment: I hear “outflow” and “overflow” a lot from churches that don’t want to train their people for evangelism. And what isn’t trained for and expected and committed to with time and energy won’t typically happen.

Finney’s seven signs that indicate when a revival may be expected:

1. When the providence of God indicates that a revival is at hand.

2. When the wickedness of the wicked grieves and humbles and distresses Christians.

3. When Christians have a spirit of prayer for a revival.

4. When the attention of ministers is especially directed to this particular object.

5. When Christians begin to confess their sins to one another.

6. When Christians are found willing to make the sacrifice necessary to carry it on.

7. When ministers and professors are willing to have God promote it by what instruments he pleases. (Revival Lectures)

Finney’s four hindrances to revivals:

1. A revival will cease when Christians become mechanical in their attempt to promote. When their faith is strong, and their heartsare warm and mellow, and their prayers fully of holy emotion and their words with power, then the work goes on.

2. A revival will cease when Christians get the idea that the work will go on without their aid.

3. A revival will cease when the church prefers to attend to their own concerns rather than God’s business…They begin to think they cannot afford sufficient time from their worldly employments to carry on a revival.

4. A revival will cease when Christians refuse to render to the Lord according to the benefits received…God has opened the windows of heaven to a church, and poured them out a blessing, and then He reasonably expects them to bring in the tithes into this store-house. (Revival Lectures)

Some possible evangelism-related insights from political commentators…can you make the “gospel” connections?

In WORLD's continuing series profiling presidential candidates, Marvin Olasky looks this week at former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee:

John Kennedy in 1960 and John Kerry in 2004 both pledged not to let their Catholic standing affect their policy decisions. Reporters this year are pushing Mitt Romney regarding his Mormon beliefs. But Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist pastor and Arkansas governor who now seeks the GOP presidential nomination, says he is "appalled" when candidates separate their religion from their policy positions.

"At the heart of my governing is my faith," Huckabee told WORLD on Jan. 26, the morning before he announced on Meet the Press that he was setting up a committee for a run to the White House.

Huckabee said those who say their beliefs don't affect governing have a faith "so inconsequential that [he] can marginalize and compartmentalize it."

From George Will:

John Patrick Diggins's new book, " Ronald Reagan: Fate, Freedom, and the Making of History" - Diggins's thesis is that the 1980s were America's "Emersonian moment" because Reagan, a "political romantic" from the Midwest and West, echoed New England's Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Emerson was right," Reagan said several times of the man who wrote, "No law can be sacred to me but that of my nature." Hence Reagan's unique, and perhaps oxymoronic, doctrine -- conservatism without anxieties. Reagan's preternatural serenity derived from his conception of the supernatural.

Diggins says Reagan imbibed his mother's form of Christianity, a strand of 19th-century Unitarianism from which Reagan took a foundational belief that he expressed in a 1951 letter: "God couldn't create evil so the desires he planted in us are good." This logic -- God is good, therefore so are God-given desires -- leads to the Emersonian faith that we please God by pleasing ourselves. Therefore there is no need for the people to discipline their desires. So, no leader needs to suggest that the public has shortcomings and should engage in critical self-examination.

Diggins thinks that Reagan's religion "enables us to forget religion" because it banishes the idea of "a God of judgment and punishment." Reagan's popularity was largely the result of "his blaming government for problems that are inherent in democracy itself." To Reagan, the idea of problems inherent in democracy was unintelligible because it implied that there were inherent problems with the demos -- the people. There was nothing -- nothing-- in Reagan's thinking akin to Lincoln's melancholy fatalism, his belief (see his Second Inaugural) that the failings of the people on both sides of the Civil War were the reasons why "the war came."

As Diggins says, Reagan's "theory of government has little reference to the principles of the American founding." To the Founders, and especially to the wisest of them, James Madison, government's principal function is to resist, modulate and even frustrate the public's unruly passions, which arise from desires.

(used by Dawson Trotman – “His Word the Last Word” – which to Trotman was a great way to end every talk)

“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.” (Proverbs 25:15)



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