Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings, But Christians Should
The great debate in Evangelism right now seems to be over one word: tone.
On one side you have the non-compromisers. They are fed up with what they would call “sissies” who, in their minds, compromise the truth by not calling sin, sin. Who are unwilling to declare the truths clearly laid out in Scripture, and who are way too easily offended. On the other side is a group of people who say that the way we communicate the truth matters, and would tend to be very careful when explaining the Gospel. They tip-toe around sin and hell, and would rather focus on “listening rather than condemning.” Most people probably fall somewhere in between. But there is a question that I believe is a valid one, and one that we must consider. Does tone matter? Because, of course, truth does.
My favorite passage right now as it pertains to evangelism is 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
“The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
Here’s four things to remember when we discuss the tone of the believer in evangelism.
First, we must declare without hesitation that man is dead.
What I mean by this is that you can’t make someone more dead. You have to grasp this theologically. 2 Timothy 2:26 describes man as ensnared by the devil. They need God to grant them repentance. On their own they are incapable of coming to the truth. Ephesians 2 describes human beings as being spiritual zombies. No amount of hypocrisy in the life of a Christian can drive someone further away from salvation. I despise the idea that what you say or what you do can make a difference in this area. Now your hypocrisy, can make a difference in whether someone will ever lend their ear to the Gospel again, as well as give people an opportunity to blaspheme the Lord. That said, I think that if we are not careful, we can exalt our importance in evangelism and severely undermine the sovereignty of God.
Too many people are stressed out when it comes to evangelism. They are paralyzed. A contributing reason for this must be the overemphasis on man’s role in evangelism. Your demeanor and words aren’t what saves people. It is simply–and only–the Holy Spirit who opens the eyes of the blind, or who gives life to the dead. You must grasp this. Stop exalting yourself into believing that if you “mess up,” then you are driving someone further away from Christ. It is simply not so; there is no basis in Scripture for this. People do not believe the Gospel, and no amount of kind works towards them, and no amount of evil works towards them can either make them more dead or less dead.
Second, we must preach the full Gospel without fear.
It’s not loving to withhold truth. At least it isn’t when it comes to life-altering truths. In fact, in dealing with salvation we are dealing with eternity-altering truths. No one will be tricked into loving Jesus. Hugs and kisses might convince someone to do something for a short time, but they will never be able to cause regeneration of a soul. The Mormons love to withhold “truth”. They wait to talk about their hard-to-believe doctrines until they have convinced people through hugs and kisses, and then unload on them the planets and archeological nonsense.
We must be different. Sometimes truth is difficult to deliver, but it is the most loving thing to do. Just as a doctor who must tell a patient about his cancer, we must tell people about their spiritual situation, because that is the means by which God has ordained to save people. We can’t cut corners, nor can we withhold information; if we do, we might be making false converts.
Third, we must remember that our words will reflect a transformed life.
The fact of the matter is that facts might not care about your feelings, but Christians should. This will not alter our message in any way, but it should alter our delivery. The fruit of the Spirit, the list found in Galatians 5:22-23, literally affects our speech. Every single one of them will be reflected in how we talk. It is evil, and perhaps evidence of an unconverted heart, to say that our words don’t matter. A quarrelsome person, someone who gets angry, an impatient man, or one who does not have self-control when he is speaking to an unbeliever should be really concerned for his own soul.
The whole point of the Gospel is that it transforms your life. It takes you out of slavery to sin and allows you to live by the Spirit. Your words should change as a result of conversion. The way you talk and your whole demeanor should change. Of course you will be passionate. You will attempt to persuade. You will even beg people to be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:20). But the tone will be the tone of someone who is crushed at the thought of this soul spending eternity in hell. Sometimes it would seem like these guys have the Jonah syndrome where they would rather the person with whom they are speaking to wind up in hell.
Fourth, we must realize that our words will show if we truly trust in God.
When it comes to “tone” it ultimately comes down to the evangelist’s heart. Does he actually trust in the Lord? So many of these guys even say that they are Calvinists, but if you were to listen to them argue with unbelievers they sound more like angry high schoolers who are part of the debate team. They try intimidation tactics and look down on their opponents. It is really hard to listen to them without thinking that they believe that their words are what will convince the other side.
The Bible tells us that it is up to God to cause people to come to their senses. Think about this for a second. They are blind. They are captured by the devil. They are incapable of escaping on their own. Why are you mad at them? Of course they deserve hell. Of course they love their sin. But there is nothing wrong with showing compassion to those who are in the same state that you were in before you came to Christ. When I share the Gospel I see their eyes. I see moments where they grasp their sin. The Gospel is terrifying to those who love their sin. The Bible commands the preacher to be patient. To be gentle. To be kind. The preacher ought to remember these truths to keep themselves from arguing and becoming angry. Patience, on the other hand, is a heart-condition of one who fully trusts the Lord. When we quarrel, are unkind, or are impatient, we might as well tell God that He isn’t sovereign and that we don’t trust Him.
We must reject the extremes. We must avoid anger and we must avoid compromise. The Gospel transforms our preaching to enable us to have grace and truth at the same time. We must fight our own pride and our own flesh to be able to find the right balance. We can speak with great passion and persuasion while being kind and gentle, and we can deliver the Gospel in its entirety without compromise at the same time. We don’t have a choice we must preach and we must do so in a way that glorifies our Lord. The truth matters as does our tone. Always remembering that it is the Lord who does the work of regeneration.
from The Cripplegate http://ift.tt/2tKmCgd