Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Evangelize or Fossilize or Compromise? – Part 1

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on February 20, 2009 at 12:44 pm

There is an old tried and true saying, “Evangelize or fossilize”.  In the sovereignty of God this saying is true.  God could have ordained angels or stones to spread the gospel and bring the elect to faith.  Instead God has ordained that the tongues of His people would testify of His grace.  However, that does not mean that all evangelistic efforts are good, even if they are bold or sincere.  Three elements must be a part of any true effort at personal evangelism or the preaching of the gospel:

1)  The message given must be true to the Scriptures concerning God and man

2)  The messenger should sincerely care about the individual

3)  The messenger must rely upon the Holy Spirit for results.

Some in our congregations will be more adapt at personal evangelism than others, but all can and must be involved in reaching souls at some level.  There should be no question in the minds of our church member’s relatives, friends and co-workers that the member is a Christian.   That alone should spark some conversation and open doors.  Something as simple as an invitation to attend church is a witness.  Many excellent booklets exist that the member can give out with little to no effort.  To not engage in simple efforts like these shows an amazing callousness toward those we profess to love.

Hyper-Calvinism, and especially Practical Hyper-Calvinism (better known as sloth) can be the cause of a lack of witnessing.  However, our Arminian friends often find their members are not engaged in evangelism.  The real cause is often the fact that all of us are afraid to be embarrassed, and that causes us to silence our mouths when we have the opportunity to speak for the cause of Christ and the gospel.

Modern methods of personal evangelism, combined with a false view of man’s free will, have led to much in the way of decisionism and wrong methodology, but not a lot in the way of true conversions.  Regeneration is the work of the Holy Spirit, who moves in such a way that we can see the results of His working, but we do not know for sure when He will work, or where He will work (John 3:8).  As Reformed Baptists, we need to make sure our heartfelt desire for revival does not cause us to abandon the truth of God’s Word or our reliance upon Him while attempting to speak for His name.

Next time we will deal with three common, but deficient ways of dealing with sinners.

Steve Marquedant
Sovereign Grace Reformed Baptist Church
Ontario, California
www.sgbc-ontario.us

  1. Looks like a great series!

    Pastor Jim (Savastio) just preached from Acts 5:17-28 and brought out that the angel told the apostles to go and preach the Gospel. Why? Because Christ didn’t die for angels, He died for us! That amazes me…

  2. Great word, Steve. I’m looking forward to the series. May the Lord grant us boldness and a genuine love for sinners. Our Calvinism should not be a deterrent but powerful motivation to witness with the assurance that Christ’s sheep will hear His voice.

    Bob G.

  3. “Practical Hyper-Calvinism (better known as sloth) can be the cause of a lack of witnessing”

    Great blog brother! If there is a lack of evangelism in our churches, it is not due to bad theology, just bad behavior.

    dc

  4. Dear Steve,
    You bring up a perplexing issue. On the one hand, there can be no doubt that our dogmatic theology is at times far more Biblical than our practical theology. Hence, we at times see a deficiency of evangelism in Reformed Baptist circles. On the other hand, some of our Arminian brethren can often display a practical theology which surpasses their deficient dogmatic theology. It would be interesting to conduct a survey of how many Reformed Baptists were saved within Arminian contexts. I for one was saved in a Methodist church, and immediately after God touched my heart, I responded to an altar call. This was not a circumstance which I would choose to replicate for others. Nevertheless, more than 40 years after that experience, I have confidence that the work of regeneration was genuine.
    It is rather vexing that so many are saved in circumstances in which we cannot be comfortable. If I were to concoct a tale of someone’s having been saved in a Charismatic church, migrating to an Arminian Southern Baptist, and finally settling in a Reformed Baptist church after having come to understand the doctrines of grace, there are no doubt many who would identify with the story. But God help us from looking to churches as grade schools, high schools, college and finally looking to our Reformed Baptist churches as the graduate schools. And God save us from the academic arrogance currently associated with schools of higher education. We have nothing which we did not first receive. May God grant us the grace to share this great gift with the simple, ignorant and rebellious — people like I was when I responded to that altar call in that Methodist church more than 40 years ago.

    George Seevers

  5. Hi Pastor Steve,

    This very topic came up at our women’s meeting last night as we tried to encourage one of our ladies, not to lose heart, in witnessing to her family. I appreciate the three elements you mentioned in the article. They are easy for me to remember, so I stay the course and not wander off into people pleasing and pride. I’m looking forward to part two. You have chosen a great title for this series.

  6. I’ve never done this before, so I’m not sure I’m doing this right, but I wanted to make a comment on what George Seevers said. Your comment is a good one, I appreciate everything you said. Similar to you, I was saved 30 years ago through the Arminian gospel. You said, “It is rather vexing that so many are saved in circumstances in which we cannot be comfortable.” I agree with you wholeheartedly. Doesn’t it rub against the grain? It’s like fingernails scratching across a chalkboard. Yet, it is the amzing way in which our Lord is at work, how transcendent are His ways. We will never be comfortable with the Arminian gospel, praise the Lord for that. It does however display God’s great mercy and longsuffering. You also said, “We have nothing which we did not first receive. May God grant us the grace to share this great gift with the simple, ignorant and rebellious — people like I was when I responded to that altar call in that Methodist church more than 40 years ago.” Amen to that brother. I’m still simple, ignorant and rebellious in many ways, but my trust is in Christ. Element number two of Pastor Steve’s article is vital, sharing the gospel with love, remembering who we are and where we came from. I would also like to thank David Charles for his comment. It was funny, what he said about Hyper-Calvinism (better known as sloth) and sad
    “If there is a lack of evangelism in our churches, it is not due to bad theology, just bad behavior.”

  7. I was converted at age 14 in the context of the PCUSA in what we called confirmation class. Calvinism/Arminianism was not discussed, and it wasn’t until I was in college that I even heard those terms used. The Gospel I heard when I was converted honestly had neither a distinctive Calvinist or Arminian flavor to it. My youth leader left that church (for the same reasons I did) to go to a fairly conservative United Methodist church in town, and she would describe herself as a Wesleyan. There was not the gimmickry or the emotionalism (note I didn’t say emotions) that we often attribute to Arminianism, so I would have to say it was Biblical without going into the systematics of Reformed theology or diluting it with gimmicks and emotionalism.

  8. […] by speaking and actively listening and engaging with the unbeliever. I think Pastor Steve Marquedant summarized it well in his article on evangelism on the RBF blog a few months ago with these three principles: 1) The message given must be true to the Scriptures concerning God and […]

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