|EVANGELISTS AND EVANGELISM|
|Questions and Answers
What do you think of modern evangelistic crusades?
Are they in conflict with God's sovereignty?
We thank God for every effort which brings honor and glory to God. We must realize that we are only messengers of the gospel, and that the particular "methods" we may use in bringing the word of God to the world have nothing whatsoever to do with how many souls are saved. Our "methods" do, however, have a direct bearing on whether or not God is glorified when we present the gospel to others.
Everyone is born into this world as babies who are alive physically, but "dead in trespasses and sins." We are not born "partially dead," but dead to the extent that ". . . the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him; and he cannot know them because they are spiritually discerned" (1 Cor. 2:14). We do have free will, a will that is spiritually dead, a will that was transmitted to us by our first parent, Adam, who used his will to disobey God's commandments. That "will" that we received by our natural, Adamic, birth, is a 'chip off the old block.' It always chooses wrongly. No person has ever, of his own free will, chosen to exercise true faith in Christ, any more than a corpse has ever sat up in his casket and to say "Goodbye" to those in attendance at his funeral. This being the case, we know that anyone who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation comes because God has chosen [elected] him before the foundation of the world, and has sovereignly drawn them to Christ. The Lord Jesus proclaimed: "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him" (John 6:44).
Since there is absolutely nothing we can do to cause even one extra person to come to Christ than has been chosen by God in eternity past, it behooves us to minister the word faithfully, accurately, and in a manner that will bring honor and glory to God. Losing sight of the Biblical truth of God's sovereignty, some evangelists think they can bypass His sovereign will by employing human methodology to force more sinners into "the ark of safety" than have actually been elected by God. We can shout, we can press people to raise their hands, sign decision cards, go forward, be baptized, join a church, etc. To that end men have modernized church services with drums, violins, brass bands, et cetera, to "give them a kind of church service they like," but, in the end, only those drawn by the Father to Christ will ever be saved (John 6:44).
One preacher recently told me, "If I believed that I would have no incentive to preach the gospel." Then why should we bother to preach the gospel if only the elect will ever be saved, and if they will be saved regardless of our own evangelical activities? We should preach the word faithfully because Scripture says: "proclaim the word" (2 Tim. 4:2). He has commissioned us to do this. It is our "great commission." It is also our privilege, and our only purpose, as God's servants, to bring glory to the Eternal God. Listen to what the apostle Paul told Timothy:
"Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory" (2 Timothy 2:10).
This brings us, unfortunately, to the negative side of some evangelistic efforts. Many years ago a week-long series of evangelistic meetings was planned for eastern Long Island, New York. The effort was spearheaded by several evangelical, Bible believing churches and gatherings of Christians in the local area. The evangelist proposed presenting the usual gospel music, gospel message, an invitation that would prompt an interested person or new convert to "go forward" and sign a "decision card." The big problem was that once the decision cards were signed, these cards would be sent to whatever church the new convert happened to attend, whether that church was a Bible believing fellowship, a dead neo-orthodox church, a ritualistic church in which the Bible is taught through the pre-focused glasses of tradition, or a liberal apostate church. Fortunately, the organizers of the event flatly told the evangelist, "Absolutely not! If you intend to send the cards to any organizations other than the group of Bible believing churches that organized the event, we will cancel the whole effort." The evangelist reluctantly complied and the meetings were successful. How this bible-believing evangelist handled "decision cards" in future evangelistic meetings is unknown.
More recently, I attended a training session that was presented prior to a large evangelical crusade. The session was designed to prepare workers to counsel individuals who might express an interest in trusting Christ as Savior by signing "follow-up cards." There were many excellent suggestions given to the class as to how to care for the physical and spiritual needs of those who had expressed an interest in the gospel. Anyone interested in sharing the gospel with non-believers would do well to follow the principles presented at that training session and in the material handed out. However, in that meeting we were also told that those who expressed an interest in the gospel at the crusade would be referred primarily to whatever church they identified as their own [regardless of whether that church was a Bible believing fellowship, a dead religious church, or whatever]. It was only if the interested party had no church of his own that he or she would be randomly referred to a local church near him, one that had participated in the crusade. [And there was no guarantee that those churches who participated in the crusade would be God-honoring, Bible believing, fellowships].
Such "religious correctness," operating under the guise of ecumenism, is dishonoring to God, because it is completely contrary to the principles of separation from evil expressed in 2 Timothy 2:16-21 and 2 Corinthians 6:14. The leader of this crusade appeared on a "Larry King Live" interview in January 1997. The following is a transcript of part of the interview:
Larry King: "What do you think of Mormonism, Catholicism, other faiths within the Christian concept?"
Evangelist: "Well I think I am in wonderful fellowship with all of them."
Larry King: "You're comfortable with Salt Lake City. You're comfortable with the Vatican?"
Evangelist: "I am very comfortable with the Vatican."
Larry King: "You were preaching in his church (Pope) the day he was made pope."
Evangelist: "That is correct."
A similar question was asked of the same evangelist during a "Larry King Live" interview in June 2005. I did not, however, tape that interview, although, unfortunately, the response of the evangelist was substantially the same, except for the fact he placed greater emphasis on his "comfort" with "Salt Lake City," [Mormonism]. Apparently, as long as you go to a church, any church, he is comfortable with that.
Contrast the above "religiously correct" compromising dribble with the straight-shooting message of the Son of God. Read our Lord's condemnation of the scribes and the Pharisees, then decide whether any and all institutions that call themselves a "church," regardless of the amount of error they holds, are acceptable to the Lord.
Thankfully, God is sovereign, and if it is His will He will still work in the hearts of the unsaved in spite of unscriptural practices by particular evangelists who compromise with the religious world of churchianity! If you or I see a soul who is interested in a right relationship to God, and I refer that person to a dead, or outright false, religious institution, I would fully expect in that coming day of reckoning, that many of my works would be burned as hay, wood, and stubble (1 Cor. 3:11-15). But, don't take my word for it. Be a "more noble" Berean and hear the word of the Lord Jesus Himself. Notice how accommodating He was, (or was not), to the very religious scribes and the Pharisees, the religionists of His day:
"But woe unto you,
scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for ye shut up the kingdom of the heavens
before men; for ye do not enter, nor do ye suffer those that are entering
to go in. . . .
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