The Deliberate Church, Evangelism, Part 4

Here are two quotes for meditation from chapter 3 of the book, The Deliberate Church:

Often Christians will share the Gospel with an unbeliever and then encourage him to pray a written prayer.  People may indeed repent and believe this way.  But then the well-meaning evangelist will encourage the “new believer” that “if you prayed that prayer and sincerely meant it, then congratulations!  You are now a child of God.”  Yet praying a prayer is never offered in Scripture as a ground of assurance, nor is sincerity.  Jesus tells us not to look at prayers and sincerity for assurance, but at your actions—the fruit of our lives (Matt. 7:15-27; John 15:8; 2 Pet. 1:5-12).  The New Testament tells us to look at the holiness of our conduct, the love we have for others, and the soundness of our doctrine as the key indicators of our assurance (I Thess. 3:12-13; I John 4:8; Gal. 1:6-9; 5:22-25; I Tim. 6:3-5) (53).

I agree with this.  There is too much superficial, professing Christianity.  But for one so introspective like me, I have to look beyond the intensity of my actions for full assurance.  I never measure up.  I feel woefully inadequate in my love, in my actions, and in my doctrinal soundness.  Like the morose David Brainerd, I am reduced to pitiful discouragement. 

Yet my fears and depression flee when I look upon the object of my faith, when I look upon the beautiful Christ in blazing glory.

 And the second to the last paragraph of the chapter . . .  

“Benefit evangelism” fills our churches with people who are taught to expect everything to go their way just because they became Christians.  But Jesus promises persecution for following Him, not worldly perks (John 15:18-16:4; cf. 2 Tim. 3:12).  We want to build Christians and churches who persevere through hardship, who are willing to suffer and be persecuted and even die for the Gospel of Christ, because they value God’s glory more than the temporal benefits of conversion.  We don’t want people to become Christians because it will reduce their stress.  We want them to become Christians because they know they need to repent of their sins, believe in Jesus Christ, and joyfully take up their cross and follow Him for the glory of God (56-57).

Amen.

5 comments

  1. Yet praying a prayer is never offered in Scripture as a ground of assurance, nor is sincerity.

    I beg to differ:

    If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

    But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. (James 1:5-6)

  2. Todd,

    I believe that someone who desires to know the truth can pray and receive a witness of the truth of the gospel by the spirit. That is inclusive in James’ promise.

    But this is not the end of conversion. I believe that conversion comes through having faith on Jesus Christ, repenting of sins, being baptized by immersion by one having authority, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and continuing to abide by the commandments, repenting daily, and enduring to the end.

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