The Place of Evangelism in Life

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RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I found a good paraphrase of what Dabney seems to be saying with regards to going into ministry:


Is it a good and necessary consequence from the Bible to say that if you possibly can go into the ministry, that you must? Hence, if you are able to and don't then you are sinning? If not, what has Dabney got wrong?
I think Dabney was motivated by a concern that his own presbytery was seeing fewer men going to the ministry and mission field compared to others. It provoked the question of “Why is this?” Seemed odd that in a presbytery so well-established that there was so little sending as was actually occurring. That’s a fair question with provisos: Is it possible that some men are called but for some worldly reason are not going?

I don’t think I’d take Dabney unqualified on the matter, but he has points to consider.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
I found a good paraphrase of what Dabney seems to be saying with regards to going into ministry:


Is it a good and necessary consequence from the Bible to say that if you possibly can go into the ministry, that you must? Hence, if you are able to and don't then you are sinning? If not, what has Dabney got wrong?

No. If you believe you are called, and your church believes you are called, ordinarily you should start serving in some way.

However, calling includes desire. “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” (1Ti 3:1)

If you meet all the qualifications, and have all the support of the church, but you do not desire to do it, then you haven't yet been called. Called preachers desire to preach like Paul, who said, “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me.” (1Co 9:16-17)

If you believe you are equipped, and your church recognizes your gifts and qualifications, and desire for you to minister, then you must submit to the conviction of your conscience. Only you knows what your conscience is telling you.
 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
But for some reason, there is a disconnect between what the Holy Spirit is doing in the heart of a humble church member and what the leadership of the church think should happen or the timing of it.

I am sorry that has been your experience, Brother, but that doesn't seem to be the case with the man who started this thread.

But in reality, only approx 2% of church members share the Gospel on an intentional and regular basis while millions of people die every year without a trusting relationship with the only Savior.

There is no way you or anyone else knows this, but Christ himself. Can you tone down the hyperbole? What I hear you saying is that the laborers are few. I think we can all agree with that.
 

frog

Puritan Board Freshman
If you meet all the qualifications, and have all the support of the church, but you do not desire to do it, then you haven't yet been called.
To reiterate an earlier part of one of my questions then regarding aspiration:
If so, suppose a Christian has a godly character and is apt to teach and has no major life circumstances that act as impediments and has the opportunity to go into ministry [meaning they have the support of the church]. Does this opportunity bestow upon them a responsibility that they must go into ministry, since in ministry they are able to tell more people the gospel (Dabney would argue it is the best way to win souls)? Perhaps the question of aspiration comes up; if they don’t aspire to the office then they shouldn’t. Even if they have all the giftings and character and opportunity. Dabney would essentially respond by saying that all true Christians should desire the work and if they don’t, they shouldn’t do it, instead they must crucify their sin causing them to not desire it:
Where Dabney says about aspiration (I have put in bold the parts that seem to support that a true Christian should desire to go into ministry and if they don't they are sinning):
“But how foolish and mischievous is the perversion of this scriptural truth to argue, as some have seemed to do, that, therefore, if a young Christian does not feel an abiding and strong desire for this special work, he ought to conclude that he is not called? Is it so, forsooth, that if a man, to whom God has given the capacities and opportunities to do a certain laborious work for His glory, feels himself sinfully reluctant to it, because of a selfish and cowardly fear of its toils and self-denials, or because of a false and wicked shame, or because ambition and covetous-ness rather impel him to a different calling, he may, therefore, conclude that he is exempt from all obligations to it? Nay, verily. It is that man’s duty to repent immediately of this his reluctance, and to crucify it, for it is sin. How can a man be what every Christian ought to be, except he earnestly desire God’s glory in the salvation of souls? But the minister can usually do more, caeterls paribus, for this cause than the layman; so that every true Christian on the earth, young and old, male arid female, ought to feel, with reference to the work of preaching, that he would be glad to preach if God permitted him. Away with the notion that the young man is not called to preach unless he hath fallen in love with this special work, in some senseless and unaccountable manner, as though pierced with the invisible arrow of some spiritual Eros, or Cupid! It is nonsense, it is wickedness. The Holy Spirit is a rational being, the Bible is a rational book, and every Christian emotion which he produces in the human soul by applying Bible truth is produced according to the laws of the human understanding; it is a reasonable emotion prompted by reasonable and intelligent views of truth.

If we regard the Scriptures, we certainly find there very little support for the necessity of this unaccountable desire. In the third and fourth chapters of Exodus, we read that Moses, when commissioned by God to become the prophet of Israel, displayed liis reluctance by so many excuses that the divine wrath was excited. Jeremiah (i. 6 and xx. 9) similarly deprecated the sacred charge. Jonah sought to flee the work; at what cost the reader knows. And Paul says (1 Cor. ix. 16), “Though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of, for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me if I preach not the gospel.” He felt that he could claim no credit, because he dared not exercise any option concerning the ministry, but was impelled by the awful conviction that he could only evade this duty at the peril of his soul.

If, therefore, the young Christian does not feel this scriptural desire to glorify God by saving souls, so that he would be glad to do it by preaching if he might, he ought not, indeed, to thrust himself into the ministry like a slave going to a hated task. But he ought immediately to suspect himself of some most unchristian influence, of selfishness, indolence, vanity, ambition or avarice; he ought immediately to crucify these base feelings at the foot of his Saviour’s cross; he ought never to rest till his heart is in such a frame that the desire to do good, in any way God may point out, is his ruling passion, and he ought to do all this wholly irrespective of his finding his way into the ministry or not. For while his heart is in its present frame, he has no sufficient evidence that he has ever felt the love of God, and that he has not the wrath of God and the daily danger of hell fire abiding on him. Certainly, without this pious desire, he is as truly unfit to serve God in any other calling as in the ministry.
I heartily believe that all Christians ought to desire God's glory in the salvation of souls. But does that mean:
  1. They must pursue the best way for achieving this end, which Dabney argues is in ministry? They can not be satisfied with a good way of doing that, say in the workforce, but must strive for the better way in ministry?
  2. That they dare "not exercise any option concerning the ministry", i.e. they must go into the ministry if able?
I'm coming from a context which seems to share the same urgency for gospel proclamation as Dabney; which is quite admirable in many regards! But the push is so strong that it seems the following claim can be made:

After reading it [Dabney] I can’t see a circumstance in which a godly Christian man with a sound mind and who does not have a “totally diseased throat”, could remain in the workforce and not go into ministry except he be in sin. It seems he has no choice or freedom in the matter and must say with Paul (as Dabney quotes) ...For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16 ESV)

So based on the above summary, is this biblical? If not, what is the flaw in Dabney's argument? Or, where am I misunderstanding what Dabney has said?

----
I think Dabney was motivated by a concern that his own presbytery was seeing fewer men going to the ministry and mission field compared to others. It provoked the question of “Why is this?” Seemed odd that in a presbytery so well-established that there was so little sending as was actually occurring. That’s a fair question with provisos: Is it possible that some men are called but for some worldly reason are not going?

I don’t think I’d take Dabney unqualified on the matter, but he has points to consider.
You make a very good point about Dabney's contextual position. I do not think it's very different to my own.

My question then would be what qualifications would you make? If a Christian desires God's glory in people's salvation (which all should), has a godly character (which all should strive to), aptness to teach (Dabney says if you have a warm heart, sound mind and are diligent you will be able to reach this), the support of their church (which would probably occur if they noticed the preceding three) and no massive obstacles, on what basis can they say they do want to go into the ministry?

Is it justifiable for them to remain in the workforce, not because they love the approval of men or because they're afraid of the material hardships of ministry, but just because they enjoy their work as a good gift from God by which they can love their neighbour? Dabney points out some of the following factors that the Christian must consider:
  1. The present wants of the church and the relation of supply to demand: in my context there is a great need for gospel ministers. As Dabney says "The supply of young ministers barely repairs the waste of death and removals."
  2. All other useful professions, except Christian preachers, are full to overflowing: "Now, what young Christian, qualified to preach, who asks in the spirit of the true convert, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” can say in view of these facts, that God and his fellow-men have more need for him at the bar, behind the counter, or in the physician a calling, than in the pulpit? If he cannot, let him beware how he neglects the prayerful examination of the duty of preaching, at the peril of the wrath of his Saviour." In my context, there is a much greater need for gospel ministers than lawyers or doctors.
  3. More good can be done for souls in ministry than in the workforce
  4. In general, the temptations of the workforce are very strong: I think this is true in my context; e.g. there are greater temptations to the love of money in the workforce where the income can be quite substantial than to the ministry where the income is considerably less.
So in light of those factors, which for the most part seem to be true in my context, how could someone say they don't want to go into ministry? Must they go to the place with the greatest need (1 & 2), where the greatest good can be done (3) and perhaps where the least temptation will be? Or can they say they will go into the workforce where there is need, but it's not the greatest, where good can be done, but it's not the best, and that the temptations will be no stronger but different than the temptations in ministry?

It seems that if one must do the "better" over the "good" option then this would make it a sin to do the good (cf. 1 Cor. 7, 1 Tim. 4:1-5).
 

White Robe

Puritan Board Freshman
I am sorry that has been your experience, Brother, but that doesn't seem to be the case with the man who started this thread.



There is no way you or anyone else knows this, but Christ himself. Can you tone down the hyperbole? What I hear you saying is that the laborers are few. I think we can all agree with that.
That's why is written, "approx 2%". Do a survey on your church? Prove it to be wrong!
Mark 4:18-20
18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”
 

White Robe

Puritan Board Freshman
The question at this exact point, as I understood it, was how a particular church is to recognize a person's call to an ordained office in a specific congregation according to the scriptures.
We are talking about different topics. I am focusing on the forum's main discussion subject: "

The Place of Evangelism in Life​

 

KMK

Administrator
Staff member
That's why is written, "approx 2%". Do a survey on your church? Prove it to be wrong!
Mark 4:18-20
18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

With reasoning like that, I think you must be right. I am a 'smarty pants'.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
To reiterate an earlier part of one of my questions then regarding aspiration:

Where Dabney says about aspiration (I have put in bold the parts that seem to support that a true Christian should desire to go into ministry and if they don't they are sinning):

I heartily believe that all Christians ought to desire God's glory in the salvation of souls. But does that mean:
  1. They must pursue the best way for achieving this end, which Dabney argues is in ministry? They can not be satisfied with a good way of doing that, say in the workforce, but must strive for the better way in ministry?
  2. That they dare "not exercise any option concerning the ministry", i.e. they must go into the ministry if able?
I'm coming from a context which seems to share the same urgency for gospel proclamation as Dabney; which is quite admirable in many regards! But the push is so strong that it seems the following claim can be made:



So based on the above summary, is this biblical? If not, what is the flaw in Dabney's argument? Or, where am I misunderstanding what Dabney has said?

----

You make a very good point about Dabney's contextual position. I do not think it's very different to my own.

My question then would be what qualifications would you make? If a Christian desires God's glory in people's salvation (which all should), has a godly character (which all should strive to), aptness to teach (Dabney says if you have a warm heart, sound mind and are diligent you will be able to reach this), the support of their church (which would probably occur if they noticed the preceding three) and no massive obstacles, on what basis can they say they do want to go into the ministry?

Is it justifiable for them to remain in the workforce, not because they love the approval of men or because they're afraid of the material hardships of ministry, but just because they enjoy their work as a good gift from God by which they can love their neighbour? Dabney points out some of the following factors that the Christian must consider:
  1. The present wants of the church and the relation of supply to demand: in my context there is a great need for gospel ministers. As Dabney says "The supply of young ministers barely repairs the waste of death and removals."
  2. All other useful professions, except Christian preachers, are full to overflowing: "Now, what young Christian, qualified to preach, who asks in the spirit of the true convert, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” can say in view of these facts, that God and his fellow-men have more need for him at the bar, behind the counter, or in the physician a calling, than in the pulpit? If he cannot, let him beware how he neglects the prayerful examination of the duty of preaching, at the peril of the wrath of his Saviour." In my context, there is a much greater need for gospel ministers than lawyers or doctors.
  3. More good can be done for souls in ministry than in the workforce
  4. In general, the temptations of the workforce are very strong: I think this is true in my context; e.g. there are greater temptations to the love of money in the workforce where the income can be quite substantial than to the ministry where the income is considerably less.
So in light of those factors, which for the most part seem to be true in my context, how could someone say they don't want to go into ministry? Must they go to the place with the greatest need (1 & 2), where the greatest good can be done (3) and perhaps where the least temptation will be? Or can they say they will go into the workforce where there is need, but it's not the greatest, where good can be done, but it's not the best, and that the temptations will be no stronger but different than the temptations in ministry?

It seems that if one must do the "better" over the "good" option then this would make it a sin to do the good (cf. 1 Cor. 7, 1 Tim. 4:1-5).
Why is your name Frog? Are you French?
 

Andrew35

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thank you for all your responses.

From my background, some people begin to feel guilty for many of the activities that they do which don't involve directly speaking to non-Christians about Jesus or activities laid upon them by necessity (such as a job to provide for food). An example would be feeling guilty while going for a hike as this time could be used to evangelise instead. Or catching up with family and not talking about the Bible. Or working full-time instead of part-time if you can afford to get-by on less money and use the rest of the time to assist the church etc..
Coming from an IFB background myself, I felt the weight of this as a teen whenever we had "evangelists" come in and scream at us for "not soulwinnin'!" enough, even though people were "dyin' and goin' to hell!" and their blood was on our hands, etc.

This is a burden no one can bear.

So typically, rather than work through the logical implications of their pov re. evangelism, they do what most of us do when we realize we come up short:

Lower the bar and compare ourselves to others.
 

White Robe

Puritan Board Freshman
With reasoning like that, I think you must be right. I am a 'smarty pants'.
Brother, I am glad that you have a good sense of humor! Thank you for making me laugh! We have a charge from the King of kings, let us pray to get power and courage from above to complete the tasks.
 

frog

Puritan Board Freshman
We are talking about different topics. I am focusing on the forum's main discussion subject: "

The Place of Evangelism in Life​

Apologies Luis if it seems I have derailed this thread, that was not my intention.

To summarise how we got to where we are now: In my context these two things are organically related, such that strong encouragement to go into ministry often grows out of a heavy emphasis on evangelism. In my post #48 I demonstrate the connection between these two. The heavy emphasis on evangelism lead to the conclusion (along with Dabney's claims about aspiration) that a godly Christian man with a sound mind, who does not have a "totally diseased throat", and is supported by his church is in sin if he does not go into ministry. To be clear, this sin might be the reason he shouldn't go into ministry such as he is a drunkard or, as Dabney argues, it may be that he doesn't aspire to it - which Dabney seems to see as a sin.

This seems to be a disastrous conclusion. So, more or less, I was asking what is wrong in this flow of thought? I am sure there is something wrong. It may be that something is misunderstood in the major premise (the place of evangelism in life) or in one of the other premises elucidated in post #48 and #64.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Nah, not for consumption! Just as animals :)
You are not exploring the FULL potential of our slimy little friends.

I am confident that Peter's vision of the sheet full of critters lowered from heaven contained frog legs. Grant would also say there was a chicken sammich in their somewhere, too.
 

White Robe

Puritan Board Freshman
Apologies Luis if it seems I have derailed this thread, that was not my intention.

To summarise how we got to where we are now: In my context these two things are organically related, such that strong encouragement to go into ministry often grows out of a heavy emphasis on evangelism. In my post #48 I demonstrate the connection between these two. The heavy emphasis on evangelism lead to the conclusion (along with Dabney's claims about aspiration) that a godly Christian man with a sound mind, who does not have a "totally diseased throat", and is supported by his church is in sin if he does not go into ministry. To be clear, this sin might be the reason he shouldn't go into ministry such as he is a drunkard or, as Dabney argues, it may be that he doesn't aspire to it - which Dabney seems to see as a sin.

This seems to be a disastrous conclusion. So, more or less, I was asking what is wrong in this flow of thought? I am sure there is something wrong. It may be that something is misunderstood in the major premise (the place of evangelism in life) or in one of the other premises elucidated in post #48 and #64.
Brother Jack,
Taking into consideration that we are talking about an obedient, kind, loving, faithful ( holy) man with a good report from the Elders and the church, as well as from his family, then and only then the following should apply:
1) Evangelism will be a way of living, a constant desire in his heart, and in no way a burden. It will be a joy for him to please his Master and Savior.
2) His heart will be full of compassion for the lost.
3) He will be satisfied with the overwhelming love of His Savior which is the fulfillment of the conditional "if" promise from John 15: 10.
4) He is conscious that he has an audience of ONE.
5) Also I am sure that he has failed many times in the past, and that he has prayed, struggled, and suffered in the battle to conquer his own flesh and mind.
6) Evangelism is a process that requires going after the Lord according to Matthew 4:19, and our Lord promises to make us fishers of men. He is in charge of the process, we must go, and keep going against the desires of the flesh, the devil, and especially evil and selfish men.
Psalm 127 reaffirms that the Lord is in charge of building His church. Therefore we are being molded and fit into His spiritual house like precious stones. But there is suffering, pain, tears, and persecution, and yet in the most magnificent way, there is a transformation in the soul.

On the other hand, which of the Ten Commandments is this humble and obedient man breaking when he calls the lost to repentance?
Again
what is talking about in 1 Peter 2:9 ESV 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Do you notice the PROCLAMATION? who are the ones doing such a proclamation? And to whom is to be proclaimed? is it not to the lost?
( still talking about a man with integrity) because those that do it in presumption are just deceiving themselves.

Now, this is a very long way to say to you:
1) The scripture warns us that no too many should be pastors ( as I am looking at the struggle of my pastor and others, it is a huge responsibility) just a few can bear with it properly.
2) But if a man has taken steps to go after his Master, and if it is in His eternal plan to make him an undershepherd, I am sure the character of this humble man will reveal in plain sight.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
5. People should not be viewed as spiritual projects. We should not merely try to engage strangers for the sole purpose of trying to say a few words about Jesus to them. This is essentially using people for your own agenda. You become like a used car salesmen for Jesus.

Example: I have a facebook acquaintance that often sends messages of encouragement. I was grateful....at least until I heard them speak to others about their "ministry of encouragement" to others, especially the sick. I thought I was their friend... but it turns out I was a project. This changes things.

5.b Programs of witnessing that focus on momentary encounters with strangers only for a brief minute or two are generally ineffective. One may leave a well-written tract or pamphlet to increase one's impact, but you are essentially doing what salesmen call a "cold call" - and these are generally treated the same as an unwelcome phone call from a telemarketer.

Just to comment on this particular point I wholeheartedly agree. One of the things which I found most off-putting about the Christian Union I attended at university was just this attitude. It felt almost deceitful to me, as if we were to befriend people under false pretences.

5.b: The converse of this is seen in a friend of mine who does not tend to engage in formal evangelism but finds it very easy to talk with strangers he interacts with throughout his day, whether in the shop, in a restaurant or wherever. He can very easily bring the conversation around to the Gospel. These interactions may be one-offs but by merely being friendly and engaging with strangers one is already interacting with he finds many opportunities to make Gospel application.
 

White Robe

Puritan Board Freshman
Just to comment on this particular point I wholeheartedly agree. One of the things which I found most off-putting about the Christian Union I attended at university was just this attitude. It felt almost deceitful to me, as if we were to befriend people under false pretences.

5.b: The converse of this is seen in a friend of mine who does not tend to engage in formal evangelism but finds it very easy to talk with strangers he interacts with throughout his day, whether in the shop, in a restaurant or wherever. He can very easily bring the conversation around to the Gospel. These interactions may be one-offs but by merely being friendly and engaging with strangers one is already interacting with he finds many opportunities to make Gospel application.
The truth is that the order from above is "Go and make disciples" in order to obey John 15:10 we must love God and the lost. Very plain and simple! We must leave consequences and processes in the hands of the Holy Spirit.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
The truth is that the order from above is "Go and make disciples" in order to obey John 15:10 we must love God and the lost. Very plain and simple! We must leave consequences and processes in the hands of the Holy Spirit.

I believe the command you're referencing was given to the Disciples. It would be helpful if you could supply from Scripture a command given to ordinary believers, and not a general exhortation to obey Christ.
 

White Robe

Puritan Board Freshman
I believe the command you're referencing was given to the Disciples. It would be helpful if you could supply from Scripture a command given to ordinary believers, and not a general exhortation to obey Christ.
Well, there are plenty from OT and NT; but one will suffice at this time:
Mark 12:30-31
" 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This is specific, to every believer. Keep in mind that this kind is AGAPE LOVE ( you lookout for the best interest of the eternal destiny of your neighbor's soul) In other words, if your love is sincere, you would not let anyone going to hell without knowing that there is Salvation for those who trust in Christ.

In the context from 1 Corinthians 10 then

1 Corinthians 11:1
11 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Well, there are plenty from OT and NT; but one will suffice at this time:
Mark 12:30-31
" 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
This is specific, to every believer. Keep in mind that this kind is AGAPE LOVE ( you lookout for the best interest of the eternal destiny of your neighbor's soul) In other words, if your love is sincere, you would not let anyone going to hell without knowing that there is Salvation for those who trust in Christ.

In the context from 1 Corinthians 10 then

1 Corinthians 11:1
11 Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.

Whilst loving one's neighbour as oneself may indeed include sharing the Gospel with them, it is clearly not the focus of the command to engage in routine acts of evangelism. Christ's own application of these two great commandments (love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbour as thyself) is that they encompass the moral law, which is summarised in the Ten Commandments (Matthew 22:40). And Paul also makes this application (Romans 13:9). As the Larger Catechism explains:

Question 102: What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?

Answer: The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.

Question 122: What is the sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man?

Answer: The sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man is, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do to others: What we would have them to do to us.

Scripture gives a very clear definition of the moral law and what is required of us in relation to it. The two great commandments Christ gives are not vague notions into which we can read whatever we like according to the spirit of the age, but a summary of a specific moral code which had already been given to the church. And I don't see in the Ten Commandments a command to every believer to engage in formal acts of evangelism.

What is required of all believers is to exhibit the Gospel in our lives and to be able to answer if asked why we have a hope for eternity.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3:
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

1 Peter 3:15:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear
 

White Robe

Puritan Board Freshman
Whilst loving one's neighbour as oneself may indeed include sharing the Gospel with them, it is clearly not the focus of the command to engage in routine acts of evangelism. Christ's own application of these two great commandments (love the Lord thy God and love thy neighbour as thyself) is that they encompass the moral law, which is summarised in the Ten Commandments (Matthew 22:40). And Paul also makes this application (Romans 13:9). As the Larger Catechism explains:

Question 102: What is the sum of the four commandments which contain our duty to God?

Answer: The sum of the four commandments containing our duty to God is, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our soul, and with all our strength, and with all our mind.

Question 122: What is the sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man?

Answer: The sum of the six commandments which contain our duty to man is, to love our neighbor as ourselves, and to do to others: What we would have them to do to us.

Scripture gives a very clear definition of the moral law and what is required of us in relation to it. The two great commandments Christ gives are not vague notions into which we can read whatever we like according to the spirit of the age, but a summary of a specific moral code which had already been given to the church. And I don't see in the Ten Commandments a command to every believer to engage in formal acts of evangelism.

What is required of all believers is to exhibit the Gospel in our lives and to be able to answer if asked why we have a hope for eternity.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3:
Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

1 Peter 3:15:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear
Why am I using the same text to justify evangelism, but you instead somehow use it to justify not to evangelize? Something here is fishy! So the texts are not the problem, but what we do with them! So the question again is, Are we mastering the scriptures or the scriptures mastering us?
You confidently use 1Peter 3:15 and YOU ARE CORRECT! But FAITH (which brings consequences on the will of each believer) has been qualified by both Peter and James.
James 2:18 "18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." The rest of the context goes even more clear on the subject.
2 Peter 1:1 "
1 Simeon Peter, a servant, and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:"

Again brother LOVE and FAITH have an effect on the soul of the believer and Paul tell us " Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" 1Cor 11:1 (see the context from the previous chapter) & Luke 19:10 " For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

So, 1) How is a believer breaking the law when he/she shares the gospel or actively evangelizes?
2) This is the transformation from within :
2 Corinthians 3:18 " And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
 

alexandermsmith

Puritan Board Junior
Why am I using the same text to justify evangelism, but you instead somehow use it to justify not to evangelize? Something here is fishy!

Yes, something fishy is going on. It's almost like one of us is using texts which don't say anything about all believers being required to perform formal acts of evangelism as if they are commands to do just that...

So the texts are not the problem, but what we do with them! So the question again is, Are we mastering the scriptures or the scriptures mastering us?

Indeed.

You confidently use 1Peter 3:15 and YOU ARE CORRECT! But FAITH (which brings consequences on the will of each believer) has been qualified by both Peter and James.
James 2:18 "18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works." The rest of the context goes even more clear on the subject.
2 Peter 1:1 "
1 Simeon Peter, a servant, and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:"

Again brother LOVE and FAITH have an effect on the soul of the believer and Paul tell us " Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" 1Cor 11:1 (see the context from the previous chapter) & Luke 19:10 " For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

So, 1) How is a believer breaking the law when he/she shares the gospel or actively evangelizes?
2) This is the transformation from within :
2 Corinthians 3:18 " And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

I'm afraid I don't see how any of these texts set forth a requirement that all believers must perform formal acts of evangelism. Perhaps a lack of definition of these is the problem. When I refer to formal acts of evangelism I have in mind things like: going round knocking on doors in order to speak about the Gospel; tract distribution on streets or around houses; street preaching; holding evangelistic events; initiating conversations with neighbours, co-workers or friends purely to give them a Gospel proclamation. I do not mean speaking about the Gospel with neighbours, co-workers and friends in the course of conversation as it may naturally arise or be applicable to what is being discussed. With such a definition in view, again I say I fail to see how any of the texts you have quoted in this discussion lay down a requirement for me to engage in these acts.

The text from James refers to the good works which should flow from faith. This statement encompasses all good works which flow from faith, which may indeed include evangelism. But the verse does not limit these works to evangelism nor does it even mention such works. And considering the overall nature of the teaching of the Epistle of James I would suggest formal acts of evangelism are secondary to what James is talking about. I would suggest that what he is primarily referring to is our own speech and conduct and how we treat one another. He even makes the point that if a Gospel proclamation is all we give to someone who is in material need without addressing those needs then we haven't actually obeyed the Gospel.

We are told to be imitators of Christ. But that is a general command which I assume you would agree comes with rather significant caveats. Context is, indeed, very important. When we look at the context of Luke 19:10 we see that Christ's statement in this verse is in regards to His work of salvation and He is making the point that it is sinners whom He came to save. Is this really to be a foundational text for our obligation to engage in formal acts of evangelism because we are to be imitators of Christ? Surely there would be more directly applicable texts than one in which the Saviour is referring to His work as High Priest and Mediator? Now I don't exclude the use of this event in Christ's ministry for offering guidance on how Christians should be in this world. Absolutely not. I would take from the history of Zacchaeus the reminder that the Gospel is for all people, not just those who appear to be righteous and also of the amazing change in our lifestyle the Gospel produces, for example.

1) I have never claimed that a believer is breaking the law when he shares the Gospel or actively evangelises. What I said was that the commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself has a particular reference point, which is the second table of the Law, which does not include an active command to engage in formal acts of evangelism and therefore to claim that this commandment requires such acts on my part is a misapplication. That it may include them I specifically allowed.

2) Again I do not see how this verse lays down a requirement to engage in evangelism. This verse is anticipating the believer's glorification in Heaven after death referring to the work of sanctification here in time and the beginning of his being conformed to the image of Christ.
 

White Robe

Puritan Board Freshman
Yes, something fishy is going on. It's almost like one of us is using texts which don't say anything about all believers being required to perform formal acts of evangelism as if they are commands to do just that...



Indeed.



I'm afraid I don't see how any of these texts set forth a requirement that all believers must perform formal acts of evangelism. Perhaps a lack of definition of these is the problem. When I refer to formal acts of evangelism I have in mind things like: going round knocking on doors in order to speak about the Gospel; tract distribution on streets or around houses; street preaching; holding evangelistic events; initiating conversations with neighbours, co-workers or friends purely to give them a Gospel proclamation. I do not mean speaking about the Gospel with neighbours, co-workers and friends in the course of conversation as it may naturally arise or be applicable to what is being discussed. With such a definition in view, again I say I fail to see how any of the texts you have quoted in this discussion lay down a requirement for me to engage in these acts.

The text from James refers to the good works which should flow from faith. This statement encompasses all good works which flow from faith, which may indeed include evangelism. But the verse does not limit these works to evangelism nor does it even mention such works. And considering the overall nature of the teaching of the Epistle of James I would suggest formal acts of evangelism are secondary to what James is talking about. I would suggest that what he is primarily referring to is our own speech and conduct and how we treat one another. He even makes the point that if a Gospel proclamation is all we give to someone who is in material need without addressing those needs then we haven't actually obeyed the Gospel.

We are told to be imitators of Christ. But that is a general command which I assume you would agree comes with rather significant caveats. Context is, indeed, very important. When we look at the context of Luke 19:10 we see that Christ's statement in this verse is in regards to His work of salvation and He is making the point that it is sinners whom He came to save. Is this really to be a foundational text for our obligation to engage in formal acts of evangelism because we are to be imitators of Christ? Surely there would be more directly applicable texts than one in which the Saviour is referring to His work as High Priest and Mediator? Now I don't exclude the use of this event in Christ's ministry for offering guidance on how Christians should be in this world. Absolutely not. I would take from the history of Zacchaeus the reminder that the Gospel is for all people, not just those who appear to be righteous and also of the amazing change in our lifestyle the Gospel produces, for example.

1) I have never claimed that a believer is breaking the law when he shares the Gospel or actively evangelises. What I said was that the commandment to love thy neighbour as thyself has a particular reference point, which is the second table of the Law, which does not include an active command to engage in formal acts of evangelism and therefore to claim that this commandment requires such acts on my part is a misapplication. That it may include them I specifically allowed.

2) Again I do not see how this verse lays down a requirement to engage in evangelism. This verse is anticipating the believer's glorification in Heaven after death referring to the work of sanctification here in time and the beginning of his being conformed to the image of Christ.
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