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Missions 101

Posts By: Ben Stafford

Why Consider the Sovereignty of God in Evangelism?

May. 2, 2012By: Ben StaffordAuthor Bio

Why should we consider the subject of the sovereignty of God in evangelism?

It is the clear teaching of Scripture.  

The doctrine of election and the effectual calling of men to salvation is clear and spoken of often;  the Apostles knew this very well and emphasized it!

One’s view of the Sovereignty of God will affect one’s method & approach to evangelism.

If you believe man has the ability to cooperate with God in the matter of faith, by making a decision and ultimately responsible, it will determine your approach to evangelism.  

If you believe salvation is all of God and all of grace, that man is spiritually dead, and unable to come to God on his own, this will determine another approach to evangelism.

In the coming weeks we will talk about cautions regarding two wrong views of this, as well as what effect God’s sovereignty should have on evangelism.

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Approaching Evangelism with Humility

Apr. 25, 2012By: Ben StaffordAuthor Bio

In a recent post on the manner of presentation of the Gospel I said that it is important that we approach evangelism with humility, and getting the starting point right. I’d like to expand on both of those here today.  

First, we ought to follow the example of Paul – who was simply living out the implications of the Gospel by having a humble approach, consecrated life and great carefulness:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5)

In short, we have no bragging rights. We do have the greatest message in the universe, and the fact that God would use sinners such as us should greatly humble us.  As ambassadors to Christ we must bring the message with a life that well represents it and with the greatest of care.

Second, we must also get the starting point right.  Note the language Paul used above: “I came to you…proclaiming to you…among you…I was with you…”

In other words, Paul valued being among people, getting to know people, identifying with them and listening (1 Cor. 9:20-22).

This will help us to know if they require:  a) a rudimentary knowledge of God to the ignorant; b) the Law and thunders of Sinai to the arrogant and proud; c) grace/forgiveness to seekers; or d) gentle persuasions to the young and tender hearted.

A canned approach never works!

Conclusion:  In evangelism we all have a long ways to go.  But we should be encouraged.  We do not have to be experts, nor attend Bible School, nor be theologically trained.  But we must be willing to be used of God and like Isaiah be willing to say:  “Lord, here am I…. send me” (Is. 6:8).  Ultimately it is all of God and all of grace that he saves sinners.  But if we are willing and able and available to be used, we will be surprised how opportunities will show up on our door step.

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Presenting the Gospel

Apr. 18, 2012By: Ben StaffordAuthor Bio

Last week in our study on evangelism we looked at Paul and observed that in presenting the gospel we ought to have humility, consecration of life, and carefulness.

What does this look like in practice?

In the Acts of Apostles:  the message of the Gospel was one and the  same for each situation.  We saw this message two weeks ago: "God has provided a way sinners can be reconciled to Himself; through Christ alone."

However,  there was differentiation and variety to the approach it was presented depending on the circumstance, AND the starting point was determined based on the knowledge of those who were to hear it.

·       1st Half of Acts:  Message framed more towards the Jewish Nation

-   Acts 2: 14-36; Pentecost

-   Acts 3:11-11-26:  Peter before the Jews on Solomon’s portico

        -   Acts 7:  Martyrdom of Stephen

·       2nd Half of Acts:  Message the same; but framed differently; the starting point was different

-   Acts 17:22-34:  Paul at Athens (pagans); history of Jewish race irrelevant

        -   Acts 8:13-15: The conversion of Lydia

        -   Acts 8:25-31: The conversion of the Philippian Jailer

It is important to know the message and to articulate it; it is also important to know our audience, to determine the starting point to bring them from a state of hearing to a state of seeking    and on to the place of salvation. 

The starting point can be any number of things:  

a) a rudimentary knowledge of God to the ignorant,                  

b) the Law and thunders of Sinai to the arrogant and careless,

c) grace and forgiveness to seekers,

d) gentle persuasions via stories & illustration to children.       

Paul’s approach to illustrate this differentiation is summed up in 1 Cor. 9:20-22:  he entered into the mind & thinking of his hearers, identifying with them. 

To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)

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How to Present the Gospel According to Paul

Apr. 11, 2012By: Ben StaffordAuthor Bio

Thus far in this study on evangelism, we have looked at why it should be a priority, the proper motives of it, and what the message of the gospel is.  Simply knowing these things, though, is not enough. How do we go about presenting it?  

We'll examine this topic more deeply in the next few posts. Before that lets simply look at the example of Paul in Corinth:

And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.               And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message               were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power...(1 Corinthians 2:1-4 ESV)

This was something Paul approached with humility, a consecration of life, and carefulness. 

Simply for the sake of allowing brevity to make it's point, I hesitate to elaborate any further.  For now, it may be good to simply meditate on Paul's example here: striving ourselves to have humility, a consecration of life, and carefulness in our own evangelism efforts.

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The Gospel Message as Found in the Acts of the Apostles

Mar. 28, 2012By: Ben StaffordAuthor Bio

Here are a smattering of times in Acts of the Gospel presentation.  It doesn’t take a Ph.D. to see the points of emphasis and commonalities. 

1.     Pentecost; Acts 2             

a.      Pentecostal event explained by Prophesy (Acts 2:17-21)

b.     Jesus was both man and God (Acts 2:22)

c.      He performed Mighty Miracles to confirm his deity (Acts 2: 22)

d.     Crucified according to divine sovereignty (Acts 2: 23)

e.      Resurrection and in accordance to prophesy (Acts 2:24-28)

f.       Ascension and in accordance to prophesy (Acts 2:33-35)

g.      Jesus is Lord which demands our allegiance (Acts 2:36)

h.     Jesus is the Christ which means God’s anointed one (Acts 2:36)

i.       Call to Repent & be baptized (Acts 2:38-41)

2.     Peter & John before the Sanhedrin Council 1st Time (Acts 4)          

a.      Resurrection (Acts 4:2,10)

b.     Salvation in Christ alone (no other name) (Acts 2:14) 

3.     The Apostles before the Sanhedrin Council 2nd Time (Acts 5)

a.      Resurrection & Exaltation of Christ (Acts 5:30, 31)

b.     Repentance & Forgiveness (Acts 5:31)

c.      Preached Jesus as the Christ (Acts 5:43)

4.     Philip in Samaria (Acts 8:4-25)   

a.      Preaching the good news of Christ and the kingdom (Acts 8:12)

b.     Preaching the Word of the Lord & the Gospel (Acts 8:25) 

5.     Peter in the House of Cornelius (Acts 10)                

a.      Christ is Lord of all (Acts 10:36)

b.     Death & Resurrection (Acts 10:39, 40)

c.      Christ as Judge of the Living & Dead (Acts 10:42)

d.     Faith in Christ alone brings forgiveness (Acts 10:43)

e.      Baptism follows (Acts 10:44-48) 

6.     Paul at Antioch of Pisidea (Acts 13)           

a.      History of Israel (Acts 13:18-25)

b.     Christ’s death & resurrection (Acts 13:26-37)

c.      Forgiveness proclaimed in Christ alone (Acts 13:38-41) 

7.     Paul in Athens in the Market Place (Acts 17:17-26)            

a.      He declared the one and true God (Acts 17:22-29)

b.     Call to repentance (Acts 17:30)

c.      Proclaims the resurrection & ultimate judgment by Jesus Christ (Acts 17:31)

8.     Paul’s witness before Felix (Acts 24)        

a.      He preached faith in Christ (Acts 24:24)

b.     He reasoned in righteous, self-control and judgment (Acts 24:25) 

9.     Paul in Rome under House Arrest (Acts 28)          

a.      Testifying of the Kingdom (Acts 28:23)

b.     Convincing them that Jesus was spoken by the Law and Prophets (Acts 28:23)

c.      Proclaiming the kingdom & teaching the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:30)

 

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