Tag Archives: Evangelism

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Ron’s #10: Reckless Abandon by David Sitton

“I conclude that ‘losing my life’ for the gospel is literally impossible because my years on this earth are worth far less than the value of the eternal gospel.”

This sums up well David Sitton’s approach to both missions and to the gospel. Leaving Texas as a young man to the jungles of Papua New Guinea, David brings the gospel of Jesus to those who haven’t heard. He abandons all for something of far greater worth.

Reckless Abandon satisfies in giving a glimpse of what a radical life yields, as well as reading how God moves throughout the world. This is an encouraging book to read.

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Ron’s #41: What is the Gospel? by Greg Gilbert

Whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian, Greg Gilbert’s What is the Gosepl? is one of the clearest overviews of what Christians believe. In about 122 pages, Gilbert discusses God, Man, Sin, the Cross, and Redemption. For the Christian, knowing the Gospel is pivotal in one’s sanctification.

Here is an overview of the Gospel and the book using Gilbert’s quotations:

“An emaciated gospel leads to emaciated worship. It lowers our eyes from God to self and cheapens what God has accomplished for us in Christ. The biblical gospel, by contrast, is like fuel in the furnace of worship. The more you understand about it, believe it, and rely on it, the more you adore God both for who he is and for what he has done for us in Christ” (20).

“We are accountable to the God who created us. We have sinned against that God and will be judged. But God has acted in Jesus Christ to save us, and we take hold of that salvation by repentance from sin and faith in Jesus. God. Man. Christ. Response” (32).

“A common view of God is that he’s much like an unscrupulous janitor. Instead of really dealing with the world’s dirt—its sin, evil, and wickedness—he simply sweeps it under the rug, ignores it, and hopes no one will notice. In fact, many people cannot conceive of a God who would do anything else. “God judge sin?” they say. “Punish me for wickedness? Of course he wouldn’t do that. It wouldn’t be loving” (43).

“Ultimately, it means that I’m the one who should have died, not Jesus. I should have been punished, not he. And yet he took my place. He died for me. They were my transgressions, but his wounds. My iniquities, but his chastisement. My sin, his sorrow. And his punishment bought my peace. His stripes won my healing. His grief, my joy. His death, my life” (68).

“Faith is not believing in something you can’t prove, as so many people define it. It is, biblically speaking, reliance. A rock-solid, truth-grounded, promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save you from sin” (73).

“Even as we slog through the trials, persecutions, irritations, temptations, distractions, apathy, and just plain weariness of this world, the gospel points us to heaven where our King Jesus—the Lamb of God who was crucified in our place and raised gloriously from the dead—now sits interceding for us. Not only so, but it calls us forward to that final day when heaven will be filled with the roaring noise of millions upon millions of forgiven voices hailing him as crucified Savior and risen King” (122).

Here is a link to Mark’s previous review of this book.

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Ron’s #35: Coffee Shop Conversations by Dale & Jonalyn Fincher


Coffee Shop Conversations: Making the Most of Spiritual Small Talk was a free offering in the Kindle Store for a short time. It was worth every penny I paid for it.

I enjoyed the premise of this book a great deal: People have a desire to talk about spiritual matters, so find ways to discuss them to bring a positive view of Jesus to the conversations. I think this is important in our evangelism. Often times, we are the ones who offend our friends and family, not the message of the Gospel.

“When our categories become more important than the people in the categories, we have become thoroughly modern adults who know how to justify our distance from our neighbor.”

“If we are eager to talk about Jesus’ sacrifice, we need to show them our own willingness to love them with sacrifice. We may find ourselves welcomed into someone else’s life when we lay down our sword of ridicule. Mocking others, even behind their backs, destroys our capacity to respect them when we speak face to face.”

“We’ve learned to bring up Jesus first and not our denomination, church’s name, or even the word Christian. Labels have baggage. We don’t want to be too quick to slap a label on others because we want to know them individually.”

I was reminded what I learned from Greg Koukl’s excellent book, Tactics, and it was indeed a good reminder. However, there was much to get in the way of the message in this book to make me not recommend this. I will list three of them.

The first is the writing style. One of my biggest annoyances is when two people co-author a book, and they both take part in telling the story. The Finchers go further in this by putting their name in parentheses whenever the person telling it switches. Annoying and distracting. It continued throughout, and I never got used to it. It seems amateurish.

The other was Jonalyn’s harping on egalitarianism (the philosophy that there are no distinct male/female roles in the biblical text. This is contrary to complementarianism, where male/female have different roles, but are equal in standing before God). She would offer mini-diatribes about it as though it was part of another book, but she was trying to cram it in here regardless if it were germane to the discussion or not. While I disagree with egalitarianism’s interpretation of key texts, I respect those who hold it and can articulate it well. Jonalyn is not one of those who can. Rather, it felt preachy and simple. In fact, my problem with this second point complements (pun intended!) my first criticism with the book. Jonalyn tries so hard to fight her way into equality that she not only needs to insert her name whenever she can, she also overshadows Dale’s stories. Ironically, her egalitarianism gave her a higher and more important role than her husband has in the book. Dale’s contributions are secondary to the story, and feel incidental to Jonalyn’s preaching.

To round out my criticism with the book is that while I love her focus on having important spiritual conversations, she seems to not have as high a view of Scripture as she has on conversations, whether about homosexuality or other world religions. Like the Finchers, I want to have important conversations about Jesus with those around me. However, I want to do that because of my love of Jesus, my love of others, and because of his love for them. All these reasons are grounded in the Bible itself. We are to be people of the Book, even those parts that we don’t like or understand completely.

If you are looking for a way to talk to others well and to encourage conversations on spiritual matters, skip this book and pick up Greg Koukl’s Tactics.

 

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Mark’s #41 – Evangelism and The Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer

If you’re a follower of Christ and you only read one book this year, it should be this book.  By far this book is the best book I’ve read in respect to the biblical mandate to evangelize.  This book is a thoughtful, clear, biblically sound look at how the doctrines of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility work together in respect to the advancement of the gospel.

This relatively short book is divided into four main sections:

  1. Divine Sovereignty - Here Packer shows that regardless of what a Christian may say they believe about the doctrine of divine sovereignty, all true Christians believe in it. In prayer, we are acknowledging our helplessness and God’s sovereignty.  We give thanks to God for our salvation, not to ourselves. We pray for the salvation of others. etc…
  2. Divine Sovereignty and Human Freedom – Packer calls these these an antinomy – an apparent contradiction; two truths standing side-by-side that both have cogent reasons for believing them.  The Bible teaches both of these, and we should not put the two in opposition to one another, because the Bible doesn’t.  We have to recognize that our minds and our reasoning is finite and that our ways are not God’s ways. The only way to handle an antinomy is to accept it and learn to live with it.
  3. Evangelism – Here Packer explains what evangelism and the gospel are and are not. For one to evangelize, one must faithfully teach and apply the truth of the gospel message.  There is no one single mode of evangelism, but a variety of way in which this can and should be done (i.e., personal evangelism with friends, family, co-workers, regular church services, Bible studies, etc.).
  4. Divine Sovereignty and Evangelism – In conclusion, Packer shows once again, that these are not in contradiction, but rather it is the sovereignty of God that is our ground and hope in evangelism.  When we share the gospel with people and the offer of salvation, they have a real choice they will need to make and be accountable to.  Likewise, as Christians, we too will be held accountable for our faithfulness in obeying the command to evangelize.  Nevertheless, God is sovereign over the ends as well as the means of salvation.   Successful evangelism without God’s sovereign grace is impossible.

 

A couple of months ago I read an article about one of my favorite pastors and teachers: John Piper.  In the article, Piper was asked what would he do differently after 40+ years of ministry.  His answer: He would pray more and he would do more personal evangelism.  I’ve tried to take that advice to heart.  This book is certainly and encouragement to that end.

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Mark’s #40 – One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven by Mark Cahill

Mark Cahill is passionate and excited about telling people, anywhere and everywhere, about the good news of Jesus Christ. As a speaker, author, and personal evangelist, he has taken Christ’s command to “go make disciples” very seriously and joyfully.   This is a book that is meant to be an encouragement to other Christians to do the same.  The strength of this book is in the authors passion and many stories from his own experience in sharing the gospel.

I want to be very careful in any kind of critique of a book on evangelism, especially one so heavily focused on the experiences of the author actually doing the work of an evangelist.  As D.L. Moody once said to a gentleman who criticized his street preaching evangelism, “what I’m doing to share the gospel beats what you’re not doing” (or something like that).   I pray that God would give me the boldness and passion He has given Mark Cahill.   He clearly wants people to go to heaven and not to hell, and he’s doing something about it!

However, I do have a few concerns with the book.  The writing is a bit too stream-of-consciousness and not well organized.  The author often slips into guilt or even poor theology as motivation for evangelism.  For example, Cahill writes, “Jesus did His part two thousand years ago, and now it is time for you to do yours.”  At other times I felt that Cahill’s apologetic responses were not well grounded or good arguments (for example, one of his ‘proofs’  for the Bible being God’s Word is that it’s the best selling book in history).

The overall thrust and motivation for evangelism is, for Cahill, to get people out of hell and into heaven… But what about God? You get reconciled to God when you embrace the gospel! Yes you get heaven and avoid hell, but even these are secondary motivations… “God is the Gospel” -John Piper.

Again, let me say I respect and appreciate the work and passion of Mark Cahill.  I would simply encourage him to spend some time growing deeper in his understanding of theology, apologetics, and writing ability.

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