Be amazed at the love of God for His children. Let us weep at our sin and praise Him for taking it upon Himself.
Be amazed at the love of God for His children. Let us weep at our sin and praise Him for taking it upon Himself.
Of all the charges we have been given by God, is there any more serious and important than the gospel? If we rightly believe that reconciliation of sinners with holy God is the most vital part of life, then the role given us by God in His grand redemptive plan must be worthy of our close attention. It is call to properly understanding and proclaiming that gospel our author strives to impress upon the reader in this fine book.
Seiver’s book is presented in 3 parts, focusing on the necessity of evangelism, the biblical pattern for evangelism, and the theological foundation for evangelism – which takes up the largest space in this book. This reflects what should be common knowledge among the children of God – our practice in all things related to our faith is informed and formed by what we think of ourselves and of God; our theology. This is why, for example, the first 11 chapters of Romans is a seminary in theology and the last 5 are how it works out in the lives of individuals and the local church.
One statement from the introduction that sticks out – the gospel “is not even primarily about sinners going to heaven when they die. It is about the manifestation of God’s glory in the contrivance and execution of the plan of redemption.” Being reconciled to God, being with Him in a state of being unable to sin, showing forth the glorious saving grace found only in Christ Jesus – that is the great prize. Since the Bible tells us (Mark 4 – parable of the seeds) that good soil will produce much fruit, and that the seed is the Word of God, we conclude two things that Randy puts before us: The Gospel is God’s message, not ours; and the fruit produced by our message will reflect its source. A false gospel will produce false converts – God promises to attend the proclamation of His Word, not the “wisdom of man”.
Part 1 defines Calvinism, Arminianism, and these views affect evangelism; about which he says, “We can define evangelism as the proclamation of the good news that God has universally published his terms of peace … this proffered pardon is not based in any sense on the sinner’s willingness to return to God or on his believing acceptance of the terms of peace. Pardon is based solely on Jesus’ redemptive accomplishments on the sinner’s behalf.” Our author bids us cast aside our traditions and concepts and jargon that is not found in the Bible; this should be solid ground but I have been amazed at how few people agree with the idea or with working it out to align with Scripture. This will be the rub for many who read this book. I would encourage anyone interested in the idea of biblical evangelism to take and read.
Bottom line from part 1: “People become effective evangelists when they are so filled with the knowledge of God’s glory and of his truth that they simply cannot be quiet.” That is what the Bible records and that is very good counsel.
Part 2 opens with this jewel: “Whenever we search for a biblical pattern for any aspect of the church’s life and ministry we need to understand that such a pattern is established in the didactic passages of the New Testament Scriptures, not in the historical and hortatory passages.” I dare say that many of the errors so prevalent in church life today are the result of normalizing narratives. Combine that with the long ending of Mark and you have people handling snakes and drinking poison as if commanded to do so by God to demonstrate faith in Him. As you read the chapters in this part, your thoughts of evangelism will likely be shaken, as many of the practices in our churches are not found in the Bible, but are established only as traditions of men. Randy sums much of this section up with this: “the message preached to the unconverted included no call for them to believe that Jesus died for them. It simply demands that sinners leave their sin and their wicked and misguided thoughts about God and return to his way. It assures them that when they account God to be faithful to keep his promise, he will pardon them in Jesus’ name (by his authority and through his merit).”
Part 3 is the longest, focused on the proper theology behind evangelism. He spends time presenting a biblical view of God and tells us, “It is never right to conclude that God is unfair [unrighteous] because he did not act in a way that meets our standard of right and wrong.” It is OK for the Christian to admit he doesn’t understand something; it is flat out wrong to say something clearly taught as God’s will is not right. We are reminded of our main goal in life – the glorify our God, and our author highlights how ur gospel proclamation fits into this: “We preach the gospel because it is in line with God’s great purpose—that is, to make his glory known in the earth.” What can be more glorious than the displayed mercy of holy God as He redeems sinners and makes them fit for His house? If some do not hear our message, we do not lose heart – our goal is to be pleasing to our Savior. He bids us to sow the seed He has given to us, not to presume to know or determine the nature of the soil into which we sow.
This section of the book covers other topics, such as the authority of Scripture, the nature and purpose of salvation, God’s eternal purpose, repentance and faith, and conferring assurance.
You are likely to disagree with some of Mr. Seiver’s conclusions or the details of this or that. But unless you want to sit in judgment on God, you will find yourself in vigorous agreement with his over-arching thrust – salvation is of the Lord!
Many people have benefited from Billy Graham and many of those never examined what Graham has been teaching these many decades. We read in the Word of God this brutal judgment:
I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Here is a 40 minute review of Billy Graham’s gospel and how it compares to the biblical gospel. Contrary to those who consider Billy Graham to be their pope, may this sermon open your eyes. (Note – the preacher errs in thinking law is part of the biblical gospel – that is as wrong as Graham’s gospel.) http://www.sermonaudio.com/playpopup.asp?SID=86111517593
Brian Hedges’ book, Christ All Sufficient, an Exposition of Colossians, is a welcomed book in any Christian’s library. It is widely recognized that Colossians is perhaps the most Christocentric book in the Bible; every preacher loves to preach from this text. Hedges’ book adds a rich tapestry of theology and doctrine to our understanding of this epistle that will cause the reader to rejoice and be in awe of his Savior.
Ten concise chapters bring out various themes from this letter in a consistent focus on our main goal in life – to glorify our God and King. Our author covers the gospel from three perspectives – the power of the gospel, the ministry of the gospel, and the mission of the gospel; all it very well presented and founded on the epistle being examined.
What thrills my soul the most and what ought to stir any saint to desire a deeper walk with Christ is the study of the nature and work of the Lord Jesus. In his chapter titled The Supremacy of Christ, Hedges reminds us that Jesus is “not only reveals to us God’s character and nature, he also perfectly bears the imago Dei as the Adam. He shows us what it means to be truly human.” (page 52) Since the first Adam, each of us has born the image of God in a twisted, marred manner as we were marked by sin from conception and every thought that followed. Jesus is the perfect image and He will be among us on the new earth. Hedges also reminds us of Jesus’ role in creation and in holding things together, as all things were created by Him and for Him. “The implications of this for believers is astounding … believers should never live in fear …” (page 54)
As Col 1:20 tells us Christ brings peace with the Father, our author rightly tells us “Peace is more than just a cease-fire in the conflict between God and humanity: it is the restoration of cosmic and relational harmony under the supreme lordship of Jesus Christ across all domains of existence.” (pages 57 & 58) There is nothing to fear in this life where all they can do is kill the body. Our refuge, our security is eternal and is more secure than anything all the armies of this age could provide.
In chapter V on the Sufficiency of Christ, we are encouraged to walk in obedience to our Lord with thanksgiving. We are complete in Christ, united with Him who is the fullness of God. Paul wrote that the ordinances against us were nailed to the His cross, a vivid word picture that communicates the imputation of sin onto Jesus. Horatio Spafford put this in lyrics that Hedges quotes and every Christian ought to love:
My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part, but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
Addressing Col 2:15, Hedges tells us, “Paul here alludes to the victory parade following a Roman victory, an image also appearing in 2 Corinthians 2:14.” (page 86) and follows up with “The powers of darkness thus have no claim and can pose no threat to those who are in Christ.” (page 87” I think our author was channeling Martin Luther:
And though this world, with devils filled,
Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed
His truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
We tremble not for him.
His rage we can endure,
For lo, his doom is sure.
One little word shall fell him.
That one word, of course, is the person of Christ – none other. Confidence in Him, the one in whom there is salvation; that is what this book builds up. Colossians is God’s Word about the person and work of God’s Son. Brian Hedges’ book gives the reader an excellent look into some of the deeper, richer meanings of what the Spirit spoke through the apostle.
Imagine reaching thousands upon thousands of people and almost never having to open your mouth. Sounds impossible doesn’t it? Other than the fact that millions of professing believers think they can actually accomplish this kind of thing by just living a Christian lifestyle among the lost, there is truly a way which you can do this. Gospel tracts.
Passing out gospel tracts is the only true lifestyle evangelism that can reach the lost without necessarily saying anything. Of course, this may not always be the case. There will be conversations started based upon the curiosity of those that take some of the tracts that are passed out. But isn’t that the goal of lifestyle evangelism? Projecting the life of Christ so that people ask you what makes you different? Well, gospel tracts will most certainly do that! But the best part is, if you are unsure, fearful, not eloquent, or just don’t know where to begin in your evangelistic endeavors, gospel tracts are not just a great starting point, but a formidable weapon in the Christian artillery that can be carried around until we enter in the joy of the Lord.
I cannot express how many times someone has told me they cannot be a regular, consistent, and purposeful witness simply because they wouldn’t know what to say, or because of their perceived lack of ability. They prefer to let their “light shine” so that their good works will glorify God among the heathen. When I introduce the fact that gospel tracts can help them overcome those fears and apparent lack, I am met with a resounding, “No thanks,” or with other terrible excuses as to why they cannot pass out a simple piece of gospel literature. It astounds me with the amount of timid excuses people make concerning why they “cannot” reach the lost, you’d think that passing out tracts would be going out of style!
When it comes to the idea of lifestyle evangelism, if you really want your light to shine before men, pass out gospel tracts! It is a dynamic way to fulfill what you’re hoping to accomplish if speaking a word about the gospel is hard for you. Most of the time, you’d be surprised how much of your lifestyle is of no concern to the unbeliever. That is until you hand them a gospel tract. If I am suspecting correctly, some of us may want to develop the relationship first so that we can reach them more intimately. Perhaps even serving them so as to open doors for the gospel. Nothing wrong with service and friendship. But if you really want them to see Christ in you, tracts will definitely make that happen at lightening speed. Folks may not chase you down, but you will get the gospel to them, which subliminally is our professed purpose for living our lives before the lost anyway, isn’t it?
If you want to know what it would be like to preach to thousands of people without saying a word, pass out tracts. If you want your light to shine to that cashier in Walmart, give them a tract after you pay. If you want your waiter to know that you love Christ, leave a generous tip (I MEAN THAT), and leave a gospel tract. If you want your co-workers to know you love Jesus, ask them for their address, send them a gift, and put a gospel tract with it. This goes for your family, friends, and any one else you want to see Christ in you, the hope of glory!
It’s not a problem that gospel tracts may not be your “thing.” But if you don’t choose this option and prefer instead to continue in your Christian walk hoping the lost will recognize something in you about Christ, and you choose never to regularly, constantly, and purposefully communicate the gospel toward, family, friends, co-workers, and strangers, then you are a hypocrite and are being apocitic. You’re not practicing lifestyle evangelism, but lifestyle hypocrisy. God has graced us with an amazing gift – eternal life. He’s given us minds to comprehend the gospel, and mouths to tell it. Since that is not enough for some of us, He has given us the printing press by which we can order tracts by the box full. If that doesn’t tickle our fancy, and we are somewhat literate, we have pen and paper at home by which we can use to spread the gospel in our writing if we don’t like the print of others. Regardless of the mode, true lifestyle evangelism is worked out through a Christian not just living out the commandants of our Lord, but teaching others to do the same (Matt 28:20). If it is still too much for you to at least give someone something that can preach the gospel for you if you feel like you are unable, then cast your Christian profession aside and embrace your title as an unbeliever.
“If Jesus is precious to you, you will not be able to keep your good news to yourself; you will be whispering it into your child’s ear; you will be telling it to your husband; you will be earnestly imparting it to your friend; without the charms of eloquence you will be more than eloquent; your heart will speak, and your eyes will flash as you talk of his sweet love. Every Christian here is either a missionary or an impostor. Recollect that. You either try to spread abroad the kingdom of Christ, or else you do not love him at all. It cannot be that there is a high appreciation of Jesus and a totally silent tongue about him. Of course I do not mean by that, that those who use the pen are silent: they are not. And those who help others to use the tongue, or spread that which others have written, are doing their part well: but that man who says, “I believe in Jesus,” but does not think enough of Jesus ever to tell another about him, by mouth, or pen, or tract, is an impostor”
– Charles Spurgeon, Sword and Trowl March 1837
– Until we go home