Thursday, April 23, 2015

Confrontational Evangelism

Christ Cleansing the Temple
The Lord’s mandate of the Great Commission is urgent and we mustn’t delay.  The Bible should be the standard for our evangelistic approach, and not some other means. Our goal is not to get men to like us but to preach the good news of the kingdom and the name of Jesus Christ, call them to repentance, and ask them to turn to God. 

There are more examples in the Bible of Jesus and the apostles confronting people with Truth than of the friendly, indirect, long-range approach. In fact, we are hard-pressed to find any example where they did not confront people boldly and lovingly with the Truth, when they had the opportunity. Keeping silent about the gospel and delaying or neglecting direct evangelism is not taught in Scripture.  In fact, when the apostles were commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, they refused to remain silent, saying that they could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard (Ac 4:20; 5:40-42).

It was only at Jesus’ trial before Herod that He refused to say anything at all. But He had already previously delivered a message to Herod that was very bold, regarding the Lord carrying out His mission fully without interference from Herod, who wanted to kill Him. (Lk 13:32).

There are those instances recorded in the gospels, in which people came to the Lord without much said to them beforehand on His part (e.g., the thief on the cross, Zachias, etc). But when He did address people with words, He confronted anything in their lives that was not of the Kingdom of God.

God is love and requires us to love our neighbor. Yet Jesus taught us that if a town or village does not welcome or receive us we are to shake the dust off our feet as we leave there, as a testimony against them (Mat. 10:14; Mark 6:11; Luke 9:5). That is a loving response, since Jesus would never command us to do anything unloving.

We are first disciples of Christ and then business men, not the other way around. That means our obedience to Him, our love for Him, and our commitment to Him take priority over any business transaction or opportunity to make money. Even our businesses must have as a primary goal of reaching the lost with the Gospel. If you have a price at which you can be bought, the enemy will surely pay it.

We should treat a customer or prospective client with love and respect, but we cannot treat them differently than anyone else or show favoritism because they are clients, or because we hope they will become one.

I ask you: Is friendship evangelism an enemy of soul winning, and is it actually friendship with the world?  In many cases, it can be. The Scriptures say, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” (Jas 4:4).  Let us be careful that what we call evangelism is not hostility toward God.

For the Lord commanded the prophet Ezekiel to warn people boldly, so that they might turn from sin and be saved. He told Ezekiel that if he failed to warn them, then their blood would be on his hands (Ez 33:1-6).  This is very serious, so we must be careful not to conduct ourselves in such a way as to have men’s blood on our hands (Ac 20:36).

Every Plant the Father Has Not Planted Will Be Uprooted
The Lord Jesus always warned people boldly.  One such instance was when he said that the Pharisees worshiped God in vain, that they worshiped with their lips but their hearts were far from God, and they taught as doctrines the precepts of men.  He said that it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles the man but it is what comes out of the mouth that does so.

"Then the disciples came and said to Him, 'Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?'" (Mat 15:12)

Matthew Henry, the seventeenth-century, English holiness preacher and Bible commentator, commented regarding this passage:

“The disciples thought it strange that their Master should say that which He knew would give so much offense; He did not use to do so: surely, they think, if He had considered how provoking it would be, He would not have said it. But He knew what He said, and to whom He said it, and what would be the effect of it; and would teach us, that though in indifferent things we must be tender of giving offence, yet we must not, for fear of that, evade any truth or duty. Truth must be owned, and duty done; and if any be offended, it is his own fault; it is scandal, not given, but taken…if we please men with the concealment of truth, and the indulgence of their errors and corruptions, we are not the servants of Christ… The doom passed upon the Pharisees and their corrupt traditions; which comes in as a reason why Christ cared not though he offended them, and therefore why the disciples should not care; because they were a generation of men that hated to be reformed, and were marked out for destruction.”

But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." (Mat 15:13-14). The Greek for for "let them alone" is "aphiēmi," meaning "forsake, lay aside, leave, let alone, let be, let go, put away." The Lord instructed his disciples to leave the Pharisees alone, since they were blind guides.

Matthew Henry made the following comments about this response of Christ to His disciples:

Christ bids his disciples let them alone. ‘Have no converse with them or concern for them; neither court their favour, nor dread their displeasure; care not though they be offended, they will take their course, and let them take the issue of it. They are wedded to their own fancies, and will have every thing their own way; let them alone. Seek not to please a generation of men that please not God (1Th_2:15), and will be pleased with nothing less than absolute dominion over your consciences. They are joined to idols, as Ephraim (Hos_4:17), the idols of their own fancy; let them alone, let them be filthy still,’ Rev_22:11. The case of those sinners is sad indeed, whom Christ orders his ministers to let alone…Christ rejects the wilfully ignorant who care not to be taught…If the Pharisees, who made void the law, be offended, let them be offended…”

I think these are keys for us to remember as we proclaim the truth to people. We must not evade any truth or duty for fear of giving offense to others. We must own the Truth and do our duty and if anyone is offended by it, that that is his own fault; if we please men by hiding the Truth and indulging their errors and corruptions, we are not the servants of Christ. Christ did not care that He offended the Pharisees, because of the doom passed upon them and their corrupt traditions; and therefore we as disciples should not care if we offend others by proclaiming the Truth. For we live in a generation of men that hate to be reformed, and are marked out for destruction.

Confrontational Language of the Gospel
There are many instances in Scripture where Jesus and His followers used confrontational language to address people’s sin. Here are a few such examples:

"Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Mat 4:17b; 3:2)

"Repent and believe in the gospel." (Mar 1:15b)

"...unless you repent, you will all likewise perish." (Luk 13:3b)

"You hypocrites.” (Mat. 15:7; 22:18; 23:13,14,15,23,25,27,29; 24:51; Mark 7:6; Luke 12:56; 13:15)

"You serpents, you brood of vipers…” (Mat. 12:34; 23:33; Luke 3:7;)

"You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” (Mat 23:24; cf. Mat. 23:16)

"You blind fools!" (Mt 23:17a)

"You blind men..." (Mt 23:19)

"You are like whitewashed tombs…” (Mat 23:27)

"You are like concealed tombs…” (Luk 11:44)

“Woe to you…” (Mat. 11:21; 23:13,14,15,16,23,25,27,29; Luke 6:24,25,26; 10:13; 11:42,43,44,46,47,52).

“But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves.” (Joh 5:42)

"You are of your father the devil…”  (Joh 8:44a)

"...The kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." (Mt 21:43, NIV)

"How will you escape being condemned to hell?" (Mt 23:33b)

“You who are full of all deceit and fraud, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, will you not cease to make crooked the straight ways of the Lord?” (Act 13:10)

"You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it." (Act 7:51-53)

Here are some more examples of confrontational evangelism in Scripture:

Mt 4:17; 7:21-27; 8:19-22; 9:4-6; 10:7-8,14-20,22-27; 11:21-24; 15:3-13; 16:1-4; 17:15-17; 19:21-22; 21:12-16,23-45; 22:17-46; 23:13-39; Mk 7:6-13; 10:17-23; 11:15-18,28-33; 12:1-40; Lk 4:16-30; 5:21-26; 6:1-11; 7:39-47; 9:2,6,38-43,57-62; 10:10-16,25-37; 11:15-26,29-54; 12:1-12,49-59; 13:1-5,14-17,23-33; 14:1-35; 16:14-31; 18:18-25; 19:39-48; 20:1-19,21-47; Jn 2:18-21; Jn 3:1-21; 4:7-26; 5:16-47; 6:25-59; 7:4-8,15-38; 8:13-59; 9:35-41; 10:1-42; 12:34-36,42-50; 18:4-9,19-23,33-37; 19:10-11; Ac 2:14-41; 3:12-26; 4:1-20; 5:25-33; 7:2-60; 8:4-6; 13:6-12,15-50; 14:1-3; 22:1-22; 23:1-10; 24:10-21,24-26; 26:1-29; 28:23-29.

I encourage you to read through all the Scripture passages cited here, and see for yourself how the Lord and His disciples confronted people with the gospel lovingly. It often resulted in persecution.  It often resulted in people rejecting the gospel. It often resulted in people being insulted, offended (Mt 13:57; 15:12), enraged, cut to the heart, and humiliated (Lk 13:17; Act 7:54). It often resulted in people blaspheming, gnashing their teeth, covering their ears, arguing, and saying things that contradict God’s Word (Ac 6:9; 7:54,57; 13:45).  It also resulted in people becoming hardened and disobedient, even speaking evil of the Way publicly (Mt 26:65; Ac 19:19). But it also resulted in thousands of people, who were appointed to eternal life, putting their faith in Jesus Christ (Ac 2:41; 4:4; 13:48). And it resulted in the Word of the Lord reaching many people groups (Ac 2:9) and spreading throughout entire regions of the world (Ac 13:49; Rom 15:19,23).  That is what the Lord wants, so let us be obedient to Him.

Attribution notice: Scripture quotation taken from the NASB. Christ Cleansing the Temple, by Carl Heinrich Bloch, 1875

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, I recommend reading Rescue Souls!, Persecuted or Popular?, Give Me Children or I'll Die!, Here I Am, Send Me, Life is Short. Eternity is Not, Compassion for the Lost (poem), Avoid Becoming a Corrupted Christian, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, The Rise of Antichrists, and Ask for the Ancient Paths. You are invited to visit the Home page of this blog, and also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."  

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission.

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