Jesus said, "The time is fulfilled,
and the kingdom of God is at hand;
repent and believe in the gospel."
Mark 1:15

  
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The Question Of Evangelism - Words or Works?  

 

 
 

Is evangelism something that is accomplished primarily by words, or works? What I mean by that is, is evangelism accomplished by verbally telling people about Jesus, or by doing things that may, or may not show people that we are followers of Jesus? To put it another way, how do evangelism and social action interact? 

First of all, my understanding of evangelism is that it isn't something that is an isolated activity - like leaving our house to go do "evangelism". We can do that, but it's something that we should be intentional about doing all day, every day - a lifestyle. As an individual, I don't see any issue with approaching someone simply looking to have a conversation about the most important questions of life. I'm not offering them anything physical, except maybe a gospel tract. We are simply exchanging worldviews with each other and sharing our thoughts - although, my intention is always to get to the gospel. Done rightly, I don't think this is offensive to people.  

Some people say that we need to earn the right to speak into people's lives. I've never understood that. If we are genuinely kind, and interested in a sincere discussion, people will recognize that, and appreciate our concern. Not always, but I can say that I have received handshakes and hugs from complete strangers, because they've enjoyed the brief moments we spent together sharing ideas.  

Building relationships is important. I just don't know if it's essential. Obviously a good relationship with someone lends itself well to our goal, but is it necessary? Sometimes building relationships and evangelism are pitted against each other. Shouldn't they go hand-in-hand? 

There is a quote that is often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach the gospel at all times; if necessary, use words." Can it technically be considered preaching, if most of the time we don't say anything, but let our actions speak for us? Don't we have to open our mouths, and tell them the good news? Serving them is not going to convey the message of the gospel. I believe our works should support what we're saying, they aren't the message themselves. I suspect many Christian's mindset is this - Evangelism is showing God's love through example. It's true that we do show our faith in God through our kindness to others, but we shouldn't say that we're evangelizing by doing good deeds.  

Here's how I think it plays itself out in the mind of many Christians. They step out in faith into their community and they're thinking two things, in this order: #1 Serve people and show the love of Christ. And #2 If the opportunity arises, tell them about Jesus. They are more than willing and excited to do something kind for someone, and that's great, but truth be told, I suspect many are extremely reluctant to share the gospel verbally, - because of the fears that exist. ("I don't know enough. What if they ask me a question I don't have the answer to?" etc.) And not to mention that many Christians aren't going to use the law of God to bring about the knowledge of sin and discuss repentance and faith in their gospel presentation. That is a much more challenging approach than "Just ask Jesus into your heart..." 

All I'm suggesting is that we flip the order of priority between #1 and #2. Do both, but be more intentional about engaging them in a meaningful conversation. What might this look like? Let's say, I give someone a hot dog and a bottle of water. They smile and say "Thank you." At this point I could say "God bless you." or "God loves you." Or I could say, "Would you be willing to give me two minutes of your time so that I could share with you why I'm out here giving away hot dogs and water? And maybe I could ask you a question or two, would that be ok?" By God's grace, I think I'm capable of doing that, and so are other Christians. And no doubt sometimes those 2 minutes will quickly turn into 20 minutes of extremely meaningful interaction. 

If all we are doing is the good work of providing food or a service to people, they will think well of us, but not necessarily think well of Jesus. On top of that, if all we do is the kind deed, it might even be possible that we are conveying a message that salvation is achieved by good works! Along those same lines is the concept of "Lifestyle Evangelism" - Which I would define as people coming to know Christ by the way we live. We don't even have to go out into the community to witness, people will witness our exemplary lives and that will convey the message of the gospel. This is false, and I bet this is more of a prevalent view than we might suspect. It flows from a similar thought process, but the problems remain the same. How does someone know the difference between a Christian showing Christ's love, and a non-Christian simply being "nice?"  

Any unsaved person can give blood or volunteer at a soup kitchen. Don't non-Christians do these things? And I don't know about you, but I have to tell people about Jesus because sometimes my life and the things that I say and do, look nothing like Jesus. Not only that, but lifestyle evangelism is actually a logical impossibility. To say that I will live like Christ to the world and that will be how I share Jesus with them, it can't be done. To live like Christ is to speak truth. He was about proclaiming truth, He came to seek and save that which is lost. If you always keep quiet about Christ, how are you acting like Him?  

The fact is - the biggest problem people have is the issue of their sin. Whatever their physical need is at the time, it doesn't compare with the possibility that they are still in their sins. Sometimes I think the Church is just making this world a better place from which to go to hell. Their only hope is Christ; and He's given us the words of life to speak to them. Do we spend too much time and effort meeting all sorts of various physical needs and do we neglect their most important need which is spiritual reconciliation? I don't know. I'm just asking. Wouldn't you agree that a huge portion of the people that we run into on a daily basis are headed for hell? The people we see at the gym, the gas station, at the park and on our block... I'm pretty sure that many of them are on their way to hell. And God's plan to reach them involves me, actually all of us who claim the name of Christ.  

Here's a quote to chew on, "Oh my friends, we are loaded with countless church activities, while the real work of the church, that of evangelizing and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected." - Oswald J. Smith. Charles Spurgeon said regarding reaching the lost, "Do something, do something, do something!" Most people interpret that as him speaking with a sense of urgency. That may be true. Since we can't go to iTunes and hear how he said it, I think he might have said like this, "Do something, do something, do something." Basically saying - Do anything! Find something you can do. Find a way! Talk to someone, if you can't do that, hand them a tract, if you can't do that, throw one on the ground so someone will pick it up, if you can't do that, support missionaries, if you can't do that, pray. Pray like crazy! Do something!  

All I'm saying is that I take seriously when Scripture says narrow is the way, and few there be that find it. The only hope for this world is Christ, and I'm just trying find ways that work with my personality so that I can be a usable vessel for Him. And do evangelism not my way, or the way others do it, or the way the world wants it done, but to do it the way Jesus wants. And if I can help others along the way, the more the better. Each one, teach one. 

I think John Stott sums up this issue in a concise manner. He said, "This does not mean that words and works, evangelism and social action, are such inseparable partners that all of us must engage in both all the time. Situations vary, and so do Christian callings. As for situations, there will be times when a person's eternal destiny is the most urgent consideration, for we must not forget that men without Christ are perishing. But there will certainly be other times when a person's material need is so pressing that he would not be able to hear the gospel if we shared it with him. The man who fell among robbers needed above all else at that moment oil and bandages for his wounds, not evangelistic tracts in his pockets! Similarly, in the words of a missionary in Nairobi quoted by Bishop John Taylor, 'a hungry man has no ears'. If our enemy is hungry, our biblical mandate is not to evangelize him but to feed him (Romans 12:20)! Then too there is a diversity of Christian callings, and every Christian should be faithful to his own calling."  

I thank you for reading this. I appreciate you letting me share/rant about some things that God has (in a good way) burdened me.
God bless.

 


       


Questions

The Big Question

Does God Exist?

What Is The Bible?

Is The Bible True?

Who Is Jesus?

Is Jesus In Every Book Of The Bible?

Is Jesus God?

Did Jesus Fulfill Any Prophecies?

Did God Create You?

What About Reincarnation?

Are You Going To Heaven?

What Is The Truth About Hell?

What are the Essentials of the Faith?

Who Will You Believe?

Want To Find A Good Church?

Looking For A Church In Harrisburg, Pennsylvania?

Which Bible Translation Is Right For Me?

 

Objections

"All Religions Lead To God"

"Never Talk About Religion Or Politics"

"Judge Not..."

"The Bible Is Full Of Contradictions"

"A Powerful God Wouldn't Allow So Much Evil..."

"The Church Is Full Of Hypocrites"

"What About Those Who Never Hear About Jesus?"

"A God of Love vs. A God of Wrath"

"A Loving God Wouldn't Send People To Hell"

"You're Only A Christian Because You..."

"As Long As You're Sincere In What You Believe"

"How Do You Know Which Religion Is Right?"

"God Would Never Forgive Someone Like Me"

"I Can't Believe In Miracles"

"Unanswered Prayer Shows God Doesn't Exist"

"What's With All The Different Denominations?"

"Jesus Was Just a Copycat of Pagan Myths"

"What About The Crusades?"

"What About Slavery In The Bible?"

"What About Evolution?"

"What About Homosexuality?"

"Jesus Didn't Say Anything About Homosexuality"

"What About Abortion?"

 

Other Stuff

   Other Beliefs

     Judaism

     Roman Catholicism

     Islam

     Jehovah's Witnesses

     Mormonism

     Seventh-Day Adventism

     Buddhism

     Hinduism

     Baha'i

     New Age

     Christian Science

     Scientology

     Freemasonry

     Oneness Pentecostals

     Unitarian Universalism

     Rastafarianism

     Wicca

     Satanism

What I Believe

Theological Terms and Definitions

Belief Comparison Chart

An Eschatological Overview (End Times)

Good Quotes

Paul Washer Quotes

20 Logical Fallacies

17 Questions Every Christian Should Think About

My Prayer - I Have A Problem...

More Than A Holiday

Honest Questions for Jehovah's Witnesses

Honest Questions For Mormons

Questions For Skeptics

10 Reasons To Tell Your Kids The Truth About Santa

A View From The Life Boat

A Collection of Helpful Bible Passages

A Story About A Boy Named Mikey

Thoughts On The Doctrine Of Definite Atonement

Questions To Ask A Child Before Their Baptism

A Critique Of An Origin-Of-Life Article

No Hope In The Pope

Terrorism - What You Can Do About It

The Impact Of A Blind Elderly Woman

Evidence For The Resurrection - W.O.M.E.N.

 

Apologetics / Evangelism

What Is Apologetics?

Why Should We Do Apologetics?

What Is Presuppositional Apologetics? 

What Do You KNOW? 

What Is Evangelism? 

Why Should We Evangelize? 

Are Christian Doing A Good Job Of Evangelizing? 

7 Reasons People Don't Share Their Faith

The Question Of Evangelism - Words Or Works? 

Is The World In Which We Live In Today Tolerant? 

Preaching What We Practice and Talking The Walk

Man vs. God Centered Evangelism

 

Around the Web

44 Reasons Why Evolution is Just a Fairy Tale

The Scientific Case Against Evolution

Evolution: The Anti-Science

A Letter From An Atheist

Are You A Good Person?

Is This Your Life?

What Does It Mean To Accept Christ?

What's Wrong With The Sinner's Prayer?

An Important Aspect of Baptism

Must We Believe Jesus Is God?

Turn or Burn

Top 10 Reasons Our Kids Leave Church

10 Reasons Not To Ask Jesus Into Your Heart

10 Principles For New Christians

10 Pitfalls Of The Foolish Apologist

Evangelistic Phrases That Produce False Conversions

The Secret About How Some Christians Witness

Preaching God's Love In Acts?

The Gospel In Every Book Of The Bible

7 Key Differences Bewteen Protestant And Catholic Doctrine

A Different Perspective On Halloween

10 Reasons I Kissed Halloween Goodbye

The Question After A Tragedy - WHY?

The Impact of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Thoughts About Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner

A Pastor's Response To The Marriage Debate

Sin By Any Other Name Is Still Sin

Should a Woman Be a Pastor or Elder?

Wives, Submit To Your Husbands?

The Shack - Missing Art of Evangelical Discernment

Universalism - A Problem for Everyone

5 Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

5 More Problems With Roman Catholic Theology

 

Audio / Video

    Original Sermon Jams

     Born Again - Paul Washer

     Does Jesus Know You? - Paul Washer

     We Got An A! - Paul Washer

     A Boy On The Street - R.C. Sproul

     Fearless - R.C. Sproul

     Hypocrites - R.C. Sproul

     Smiling Faces - R.C. Sproul

     Authorized Personnel Only - Tony Evans

     Drive-thru - Tony Evans

     One Flesh - Tony Evans

     Sex - Tony Evans

     The Satisfier - Tony Evans

     Who to Serve? - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     The Voice of Truth - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Transformed - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Where is the Love? - Pastor Ben Maxie

     He Claimed to be God - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Love is a Behavior - Pastor Ben Maxie

     Examine It for Yourself - Pastor Mike Leonzo

     Perfect Love - Pastor Ben Maxie

     We Need Preachers - Mike Bongo

     The Sovereignty of God in Evangelism - Mike Bongo 

     I'm Ready - Mike Bongo

     Our Day in Court - Mike Bongo

     Examine Yourself - Mike Bongo

     Exclusivity - Mike Bongo

     Our World - Mike Bongo

     The Great Exchange - Mike Bongo 

     True God - Mike Bongo

    The One Minute Apologist

     Intolerance - Greg Koukl

     Legislating Morality - Frank Turek

     Intelligent Design and Creation - Bill Dembski

     Tolerance is Unbiblical - Josh McDowell

     Homosexual Forgiveness - Michael Brown

     What Must I Do To Be Saved? - Hank Hannegraaff

     Is Jesus A Copycat Savior? - J. Warner Wallace

     The Resurrection - Gary Habernas

     Contradictions In The Bible - Mike Licona

     Is It About Winning Arguments? - Mary Jo Sharp

     Does Christianity Oppress Women? - Dianna Newman

     Is Evil An Argument For God? - Brett Kunkle

   WWUTT (When We Understand The Text)

     Hate The Sin, Love The Sinner?

     Thou Shalt Not Judge?

     God Will Never Give You More Than You Can Handle?

     Do We Have To Prove That God Exists?

     Preach The Gospel, If Necessary Use Words?

     You Don't Have To Go To Church To Be A Christian?

     I Stand At The Door And Knock?

     God Has Already Chosen Who Will Be Saved?

     Spare The Rod, Spoil the Child?

     The Bible Says Slavery is Okay?

     Are Catholics Saved?

     God Foreknew Who Would Be Saved?

     Does The Bible Say Homosexuality is A Sin?

     Alter Calls And The Sinner's Prayer?

     Worse Than An Unbeliever?

    Kids Section

     The Gospel

     David Platt On Sharing the Gospel With Children

     For The Children: Are You Saved? - Paul Washer

     2 Amazing 11 Year Old Boys

   Other Audio / Video

     Rescue The Perishing

     Emeal Zwayne's Dialogue With A Homosexual

     The Big Questions of Life - Voddie Baucham

   Explore God

     Is There A God?

     Can We Know God Personally?

     Why Does God Allow Pain And Suffering?

     Is Jesus Really God?

     Are Christians Judgmental?

   The Bible Project

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 1 of 2 

     The Book of Genesis Overview - Part 2 of 2 

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Exodus Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Leviticus Overview

     The Book of Numbers Overview

     The Book of Deuteronomy Overview

     The Book of Joshua Overview

     The Book of Judges Overview

     The Book of Ruth Overview

     The Book of 1 Samuel Overview

     The Book of 2 Samuel Overview

     The Books of 1 and 2 Kings Overview

     The Book of Job Overview

     The Book of Psalms Overview

     The Book of Proverbs Overview

     The Book of Song of Songs Overview

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 1 of 2

     The Book of Isaiah Overview - Part 2 of 2

     The Book of Hosea Overview

     The Book of Joel Overview

     The Book of Amos Overview

     The Book of Obadiah Overview

     The Book of Jonah Overview

     The Book of Micah Overview

     The Book of Nahum Overview

     The Book of Habakkuk Overview

     The Book of Zephaniah Overview 

Street Conversations

Street Conversations Disclaimer

Street Conversations - George & Paul

Street Conversations - Don

Street Conversations - VeeJay

Street Conversations - Joe

Street Conversations - Ralph 

Street Conversations - Charles

Street Conversations - Ed

Street Conversations - Ken

Street Conversations - Jessica

Street Conversations - Ida

Street Conversations - Earl & Evadel 

Street Conversations - Jim  

Street Conversations - Raheem

Street Conversations - Raheem part 2

Street Conversations - My Mom

Street Conversations - Eddie

Street Conversations - Renee

Street Conversations - Ron

Street Conversations - Rash

Street Conversations - Preacher

Street Conversations - Luis

Street Conversations - Keith

Street Conversations - Hippy

Street Conversations - Rich

Street Conversations - Hippy part 2

Street Conversations - Butch

Street Conversations - Scott

Street Conversations - Marcos

Street Conversations - Will & James

Street Conversations - Alexander and Valerie

Street Conversations - Jerry and Steve

Street Conversations - Blake

Street Conversations - Elteresa

Street Conversations - Pete

Street Conversations - George

 

Me      

My Baptism

Parable Of The Talents  

Survey Says  

A Hard Lesson  

Talking About Jesus  

The Perfect Gift  

A Faith Worth Thinking About  

Stand Strong  

Peace At Christmas  

Resolutions From Revelation  

Takin' The Gospel To The Streets  

Responding Rightly To The Gospel Of Grace  

A Defense That Honors God And His Word  

Encouragement In Corinth  

The Dash

Surrendering To Win

The Gospel

The Laborers Are Few; Therefore...

Love Has No Labels - A Response

Faith That Works

Atheists: They Don't Exist

YOU Must Be NEW

Making a Difference - Outreach and Evangelism  

Luke - A Careful Investigation to be Sure  

Be Kind! Yeah, But Why?

 

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