Category Archives: Evangelism

Francis Schaeffer On Evangelism

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“We must remember that the person to whom we are talking, however far from the Christian faith he may be, is an image-bearer of God. He has great value, and our communication with him must be in genuine Love. Love is not an easy thing; it is not just an emotional urge, but an attempt to move over and sit in the other person’s place and see how his problems look to him. Love is a genuine concern for the individual….Therefore, to be engaged in personal “witness” as a duty or because our Christian circle exerts a social pressure on us, is to miss the whole point. The reason we do it is that the person before us is an image-bearer of God, and he is an individual who is unique in the world. This kind of communication is not cheap”

Schaeffer, The God Who Is There

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Knowledge Of God

John Calvin on the Knowledge Of God

The previous post-debate between Brunner and Barth-raised the question of John Calvin’s teaching on the knowledge of God. It is a fundamental question that we all raise but also seems to be confused on occasion. Calvin teaches that there are three fundamental aspects when it comes to the knowledge of God: the Sensus Divinitatis (SD) (“sense of the divine in man” or internal knowledge), external Knowledge of God, and knowledge of God the Redeemer.

For Calvin SD amounts to a universal belief in God the Creator. In regards to SD Calvin gives us the following reasons: (1) Observation shows us that all men demonstrate belief in God. (2) The various expressions of religious worship throughout the world seem to indicate a genuine appeal to a conception of deity or ultimate authority (3) Even those who object to God have a conception of Him that they are objecting to. Such a conception of God renders all men without excuse before God their Creator. Therefore, this natural conception of God that is held by all is related to theological and moral knowledge (Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 1, Chapter 3)

Calvin also taught that an external knowledge of God can be seen in the physical world. This is similar to what Paul says when writes  “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom. 1 ). Calvin does not offer a syllogistic argument for God’s existence in his discussion of the external knowledge of God. But he does teach that God’s attributes such as power and wisdom are revealed in creation (Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 5).

For Calvin, knowledge of God is distinguished from knowledge of God the Redeemer. The key distinguishing factor between these is the former is arrived at through natural revelation (external) while the latter through special revelation by the Holy Spirit (internal).

The key take away is the three part aspect to the knowledge of God SD, external, and knowledge of God the redeemer. Understanding how it is that we come to know God will help us understand how it is that we are to do as Christ explained in the Great Commission “make disciples”. Relying solely on external as some tend to do is insufficient. It is when we realize that the work of making disciples is completely God’s work then we can rely on God’s appointed means, the Gospel which is the power unto salvation, and the Holy Spirit the reveal-er of Gospel truth.

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Book Review: Honest Evangelism by Rico Tice

hnstevnglsmTITLE: Honest Evangelism

AUTHOR: Rico Tice, Carl Laferton

PUBLISHER: The Good Book Company (105 pages)

One of the great and final teachings of our Lord before His ascension was what we typically refer to as “the great commission.” Here Jesus commissioned the disciples to make disciples of all the nations. In a sense this was a call to go out and share the good news of the righteousness that our Lord has brought to us in His crucifixion. It was Christ’s atoning work on the cross that paid the penalty of sin, placing us in a right standing with the Father for all eternity which is really good news. As we move forward in redemptive history, we see through the power of the Holy Spirit the Early Church proclaimed the good news of this Gospel message to Jews and Gentiles in spite of persecution, oppression, and even to the point of martyrdom.

The great commission that was given to those early saints is the same for us living today. Naturally we are confronted with this great responsibility to evangelize while at the same time very significant questions regarding methodology begin to arise. When we consider the number of obstacles that lay before us in sharing the Gospel it is difficult to fathom a worthwhile attempt. Obstacles such as a culture that holds a precommitment to opposing anything that smacks of Christianity. Such opposition creates a hostile and intimidating environment for sharing the gospel.

For many believers we are excited for what Christ has done for us and about our salvation, but the thought of sharing with nonbelievers does little to warm our cockles. Such a situation is addressed head on by Rico Tice in his latest book Honest Evangelism. Tice, who happens to be a pastor and evangelist at All Souls in London speaks from experience. Tice explains that there are two halves of the evangelistic story. The first half is the opposition I discussed above which has a lot to do with the lack of evangelism that takes place. But there is a second half of the evangelistic story which is so essential for us to understand, namely “There is also an increased hunger… The same rising tide of secularism and materialism that rejects truth claims and is offended by absolute moral standards is proving to be an empty and hollow way to live”(20). Such a condition is endemic within all men. Once we understand this we can better understand the apostle Paul when he says, “I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words… I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified”(21).

To add perspective Tice gives the following points as motivation for evangelism: 1. The glory of Jesus 2. The guarantee of the new creation 3. The grim reality of death Against these realities Tice says, “this is why we talk about Jesus, even though it is tough. This is why it is always worth it. As far a methodology goes Tice encourages a one-on-one personal approach which has very little methodology to it but can prove to be very relational. Tice encourages one to “be yourself. In evangelism use the character of and gifts God has deliberately given you” (83). He explains that “There is no silver bullet in evangelism… But one-to-one evangelism is nevertheless reaping a harvest” (88).

In addition to getting the gospel out we are being relational filling two basic human needs that Christianity meets, salvation and the need for relationship. This is definitely not the hard decisionalism that I was brought up with, a “turn or burn” approach, but rather it is a “long-term commitment to invest in a relationship, to pray tirelessly, and to speak the gospel over and over again, patiently and persistently. It is a journey of gospel conversations” (88).

Obviously there is much that I haven’t covered in this review; I will leave that for the reader to explore. However, in a time when the Gospel of Christ has come up against significant opposition from the culture an honest approach to evangelism will show itself to be the catalyst for making disciples of all the nations.

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This book is provided to me courtesy of Christian Focus and Cross-Focused Reviewers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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