The religious system’s slow and gradual erosion of the foundations of authentic Christianity warrants a close view of what we now believe about evangelism in the Lord’s church. Traditions appear to be made of steel, but they must crumble before our Lord who is the Truth.
What are some of these traditions?
- We’ve gone door to door to make people repeat a prayer to win their souls.
- Then we’ve counted how many bibles and tracts we pass out, and how many people repeat the “prayer of salvation”.
- Revival is a series of prolonged services twice a year featuring a special speaker. Our revival can conjure up “more of God.”
- The Finney invented Salvation Process of the late 1800s:
a. Bring the lost people to the Church, i.e. building.
b. Preach fear of hell so people aren’t left behind in the Rapture.
c. Sit the bad sinners on the mourner’s bench.
d. Raise hands during the “invitation” to pray in agreement for salvation.
e. Walk the aisle” to accept Christ and make a “decision.”
f. Front of building (which they call the church) is the altar; salvation only happens there.
“No single man is more responsible for the distortion of Christian truth in our age than Charles Grandison Finney. His “new measures” created a framework for modern decision theology and Evangelical Revivalism. In this article The Disturbing Legacy of Charles Finney, Dr. Mike Horton explains how Charles Finney distorted the important doctrine of salvation.”
If you were raised in the religious system, they espoused these traditions as truth. If you still love Christ today even after you came to Him in spite of that dysfunctional mess, you should not continue in it. There is no need to keep putting demands on His grace by repeating them, or teaching them as truth.
The Holy Spirit spoke about evangelism through Peter on the Day of Pentecost:
Acts 2:37-40 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”
Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call. And with many other words he testified and exhorted them saying, be saved from this perverse generation.”
People asked to be saved, but now we chase them down for a decision! To be “saved” means to be saved from this perverse generation on earth, not to go to heaven when I die!
Acts 2:47 And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
The Lord adds to the Church! One church not plural, not men, not church growth strategies, not witnessing, evangelistic outreaches, or missionaries. God who is Love adds. Therefore, only Love adds!
Acts 4:29-31 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
They recognized that boldness came from above, not from the study of doctrine. They also knew miracles, signs, and wonders came from the Lord, not someone’s great anointing or “how to” recipe. EVERYTHING related to the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ and evangelism depends on the filling of the Holy Spirit. The word boldness is better translated OVERFLOW, speaking to the rivers of living water coming forth from within us.
Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
They preached to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ. He is the Messiah they have been waiting for, but not one word about Heaven or Hell.
Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.
The Lord Himself causes the word of God to spread. This is not speaking of the written Bible, but the testimony of Christ in and through His people. The Holy Spirit doesn’t keep exact numbers; He only counts disciples. The Religious System counts number of members of a congregation. We’ve seen what little transformational effect that has on a city.
Acts 8:4-8 Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. 6 And the multitudes with one accord heeded the things spoken by Philip, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7 For unclean spirits, crying with a loud voice, came out of many who were possessed; and many who were paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was great joy in that city.
Preaching the Word has nothing to do with bibles, sermons, pulpits, buildings, ordinations, or seminaries. They could not read or write and had no bibles! It has everything to do with being a living example, sharing publicly the life and nature of Christ. The Lord Himself authenticated the message with miracles, signs, and wonders. If we can find the “Presence of Christ” only inside the four walls of a building, there can be no joy or transformation.
Acts 8:36-37 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”
37 Then Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.”
And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”
38 So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him.
The only prerequisite for salvation is to believe! Notice the request is coming from the eunuch, not Philip so he could get one more “convert”! We don’t need catechism or baptism classes! We need real conversion experiences with instant baptisms by the person who shared the gospel with them.
Acts 16:29-34 Then he called for a light, ran in, and fell down trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 And he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
31 So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. 33 And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. 34 Now when he had brought them into his house, he set food before them; and he rejoiced, having believed in God with all his household.
Notice the pattern for evangelism when the jailer asked, “What must I do to be saved”? Paul and Silas whose lives reflected Christ baptized the jailer and his family that same hour. They discipled him and his family unto salvation. When was the last time someone asked you, “What must I do to be saved?” Have people recognized the joy and peace in you that is in Christ the hope of Glory?
We should not be filling our congregations with people who have repeated the “sinner’s prayer” but have not fully made a total commitment to Christ. In the religious system many believe that fewer than 25% have ever been born from above. Any wonder there are so many problems and people leaving the religious system today!
2 Tim 4:5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
To be an evangelist has nothing to do with being a “soul winner.” It’s a person who preaches the “Good News” of Christ. It’s not an office, a title, or a position. It’s a calling and function in the body of Christ. The Good news of Christ is not that we skip hell and get a ticket on the Rapture Airlines with heaven as a destination someday. It’s that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected to give us His power over this perverse generation via the Holy Spirit. Today we can pray on earth as it is in heaven!
Love-fueled evangelism recognizes that the Lord must initiate everything we do in the Kingdom of God on behalf of His Church to allow Him to love others though us. Sadly, the religious system turned this compassionate act into a duty or a requirement. Why do you evangelize? Why do you share the good news?
- It’s my duty as a Christian.
- Makes me feel valuable.
- To keep people from going to hell.
- By request of your pastor.
- To satisfy your guilty conscience.
- To add numbers to your congregation.
- You want to see miracles, signs, and wonders.
If yes to any of the above reasons, you many need to check your love meter. To stand the test of time, everything we do for or to others must be founded in love.
God help us hear what the Spirit is saying to His Church! May the Lord himself take His heavenly bulldozer to all our human religious inventions and traditions.
Jose L. Bosque