Tags: Biblical evangelism, Biblical hope, Biblical patience, Biblical waiting, evangelism, farming, Isaiah 40, Lamentations 3, soulwinning
In a comparison between the principles of farming and the principle of Biblical evangelism, we have noted the importance of planting, watering, weeding, and watching, all of which are necessary if we are to see an agricultural harvest OR a spiritual harvest of souls brought to Christ. Now we will deal with possibly the most difficult task for a farmer who is zealous and anxious to reap the fruit of his time and labor: the waiting.
For a farmer, obviously, every day is not harvest day. And, although harvest day is a day of great rejoicing and satisfaction, the experienced farmer will learn the principle of patience while he is waiting for it to arrive. In the same way, those who wait upon the Lord’s salvation, rather than getting frustrated, must learn to adopt an attitude of expectancy tempered by contentment. It is also important to remember that Biblical “waiting” is often “active waiting,” as paradoxical as that might sound. Waiting upon the Lord is more like the waiting done by a waiter in a busy restaurant than the waiting done by an exasperated patient in the waiting room of a medical office three hours after the appointment time while the doctor finishes a round of golf.
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
“Waiting” upon the Lord involves walking, running, and even soaring, as we look forward with Biblical hope (a knowledge-based AND faith-based assurance that He will keep His promises in His perfect timing).
The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him. It is good that a man should both hope and quietly wait for the salvation of the Lord.
Tags: 1 Corinthians 3, church planting, commentary on Matthew, evangelism, Hebrews 12, Matthew 13, soulwinning, soulwinning training, Sunday School lessons on Matthew, tips for soulwinning
One aspect that tends to be overlooked, though, is the principle of “weeding.” Sometimes the seed of the Gospel can be planted, but thorny weeds tend to choke out growth before strong and true roots can be established.
And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
Jesus warned us not to treat professing brothers and sisters in the faith as though they need to be pulled up and thrown out like weeds masquerading as fruitful plants, even if we suspect they may be false professors, although certainly God knows those who are truly His and will sort them out at the proper time.
Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
When it comes to pulling things up by the roots, we need to be mainly focused on our own hearts, because the weed of bitterness can easily spring up before we realize it, and it will serve not only as a an obstacle across our own path, but it will cause others to stumble and fall, as well.
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
So, while we need to exercise great care with those who have heard, and may be considering, the Good News about Jesus and His salvation, there might indeed be a need, along with the need for planting, watering, and harvesting, to do a little weed-pulling in our evangelistic efforts. A diligent farmer checks his field regularly for unwanted weeds which steal nutrients, sunlight, and room to grow from the crop he has planted and watered. In our soulwinning ministry, we need preaching planters, wise waterers, and holy harvesters, but we also need winsome weeders. Be a good friend to those who have heard the Gospel but have not yet believed. Invite them to investigate the Truth of the Bible more closely, answer their questions, and do what the Lord allows you to do to eliminate worldly, sinful, and Satanic distractions while the Holy Spirit does His work.
Tags: Biblical fools, Biblical wisdom, evangelism, evangelism devotions, evangelism training, gullibility, Proverbs 14, soulwinning, witnessing
The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.
Two types of people are being contrasted here: “the simple” and “the prudent.” The simple are shown as a bad example. They are not simple in the sense of being uncomplicated. They are simple in the sense of being unwise, perhaps even foolish. The prudent are wise. The characteristic that distinguishes the simpleton in this verse is that he is gullible. He believes everything he hears.
The one exception where it’s okay to “believe every word” is the Bible itself – which is obvious from multiple other passages. But here, what is being described is a person with no discernment: someone who foolishly “takes at face value” whatever he encounters. The prudent man, on the other hand, is careful about what is presented to him.
This principle – a healthy willingness to evaluate – has various and sundry applications, and one is in evangelism – specifically when it comes to dialoguing with someone about whether or not he is saved. A quick nod of assent to the question, “So, are you a Christian?” should probably not be enough evidence to end the inquiry when you are trying to present the Gospel to someone you do not know well. Follow-up questions about the when, where, why, and how, and by Whom, would constitute “looking well unto your going” when you are hoping to lead someone to Christ.
A wise man feareth, and departeth from evil: but the fool rageth, and is confident.
Again, the wise man and the fool are contrasted. Wise men see evil and are afraid of damaging their testimony and the effectiveness of their Gospel witness. They also fear the Lord Whom they love for saving them. Fools “rage.” They go on a tirade against the idea that they can’t do whatever they want, and they are confident – but it is a false confidence. It is a misplaced self-confidence and a dangerous confidence that their relationship with the Lord makes them immune to discipline and correction.
He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly: and a man of wicked devices is hated.
This verse is little different from the previous two in Proverbs 14. It is not a contrast between a “right” person and a “wrong” person. It is a contrast between a “wrong” person and a “more wrong” person. A short-tempered person loses his cool and does something dumb. It’s not excusable, but it is chalked up to the heat of passion, and can be repented of and repaired more easily. However, the person who coldly calculates a wicked plan, then carries it out, is not seen as bumbling or irrational. He is hated, even by those who are worldly, because he has first shown hatred to others.
Let’s remember to share the Gospel with others in a way that is honestly probing, non-hypocritical, and patiently kind.
Tags: Biblical evangelism, confrontational evangelism, evangelism, friendship evangelism, Matthew 28, Proverbs 27, Romans 10, soulwinning, witnessing
In response to my post called “Faithful Wounds,” which you can read by clicking here, I received the following comments on another forum, and gave the following responses:
Commenter: If the ignorant boy knows the man, and has an ongoing trusting relationship, it’s more likely that he will heed the warning without much incident. What I think you have argued is the fallacy of incongruent analogy.
And, would not God be the one doing the chasing, or “tackling”, anyway? If the Spirit is not working in the heart of that person, it matters not what variety of message we use. It will be to no avail. So, why not build a bridge?
Me: The boy in the analogy wasn’t just ignorant – he was dangerously ignorant. And, being completely oblivious to the danger and running out of space before he met an ugly end, there wasn’t time to build a bridge of relationship. We could argue, I suppose, that the man should have built a relationship with the boy a long time ago, but the (made-up-for analogy) “fact” that he didn’t build one before, doesn’t make the analogy incongruent.
I agree that God’s Spirit does the chasing and the tackling in one sense, but I also believe He uses loving Christians as His instruments many times. God is powerful enough to supernaturally implant the Gospel message into a person’s brain, and He is powerful enough drop a blockade from the sky that would keep everyone from racing into traffic, but the fact is, for some reason, it pleases Him to use redeemed sinners to declare His Gospel, and to form relationships, and even to, once in while, roughly shake someone we love into his senses before he hurts himself.
Commenter: You are saying that God’s Kingdom is built by hateful and rash behavior.
Me: That’s not what I said. I said the man who tackled the boy “appeared” hateful and rash, but that he actually acted out of true active love. I do not believe the Bible condones rash hatred, and did not mean to imply it.
Commenter: You are crazy. Someone needs to tackle you, mate.
Me: I’m sorry you think I’m “crazy.” Hopefully you are just joking and not being mean-spirited. Name calling is purportedly not helpful to building a bridge of relationship.
If you truly do think I’m crazy though, I guess I’ll have to live with the label. They said the same thing about Jesus (Mark 3:21) and the Apostle Paul (Acts 26:24). Anyway, “crazy” can be pretty subjective. Older Christian men will tell you that, several decades ago, it was pretty common for people to tell people right to their face that they God loved them, and that they could be saved from the consequences of their sin by trusting Jesus. They say that these people weren’t considered “crazy” at all. However, I admit that the standard has changed. These days, forcefully confronting someone with the Gospel when they don’t want to hear it is often described as “crazy,” while it is considered not only sane, but worthy of adoration, to wear a “meat dress” or to dance around in underwear on a stage while people scream out that they would die for you. “Crazy” can be sort of a relative term.
As far as someone tackling me, you’re a little too late – it’s already happened both in the literal (when I tried to stop a bigger person from beating up a smaller person, and his friends didn’t like it!) and in the figurative sense – many years ago – when a stranger who loved me enough to tell me the truth told me that, according to the Bible, I had sinned against God and needed His loving Son to save me. The Holy Spirit also “tackled” me at that point, opened my willfully blind and oblivious eyes, and showed me it was true. That Truth is something wonderful that I want everyone to know – even the ones who think they don’t want to hear it. That might appear hateful and rash, but it is not being hateful or rash.
Commenter: The primary flaw with your analogy is that anyone can by force save the boy from his path of destruction – in fact against his own will. Your analogy seems very similar to the comedian-magician Penn Gillette’s words, that “If you see someone about to get hit by a truck, there comes a point when you tackle them.” But what we are dealing with here is a soul’s choice to accept or reject the Gospel. It would be more accurate to say that one man prayed and pleaded and begged the boy to turn aside, and that the second, more forceful man, shouted and harangued and yelled at the boy to turn aside. But neither of them could do anything other than speak to the boy. The path of his own life or destruction – of any soul’s – is ultimately their own decision.
Me: You might believe that the analogy makes a point that you do not happen to like, believe, or agree with, but I respectfully submit that, in the scenario of the analogy itself, the point was not that anyone could stop the boy by force – the point was that only one person was willing to stop the boy by force. Someone had already tried more polite methods and they didn’t appear to be working.
I don’t know much about Penn Gillette, and I can’t really tell if you are agreeing with his statement or not, but on the surface (without knowing the context and without agreeing with him on other things) it appears to make sense. If I’m about to get hit by a truck, I would like someone (even someone who doesn’t particularly like me) to tackle me. As stated above, someone did that to me, spiritually speaking, several years ago, and I love him for it. Even more, I love the God Who I believe authorized and empowered him to do it. I have done it to others, and they have testified that they are grateful for it, too. I would argue that there is evidence in the Bible of evangelistic “tackling in love” and that it is portrayed in Scripture as the God-ordained thing to do in certain circumstances.
You state, “It would be more accurate to say that one man prayed and pleaded and begged the boy to turn aside, and that the second, more forceful man, shouted and harangued and yelled at the boy to turn aside. But neither of them could do anything other than speak to the boy.” Well, you are free to make up your own analogy I suppose, but to say that mine is less “accurate” kind of misses the point. The boy and his tackler landed just shy of the path of a speeding truck! Are you suggesting that the haranguing and yelling would have been worth the risk considering the magnitude of the harm averted? Everyone is free to dislike the analogy, but I would hope it wouldn’t be judged internally inconsistent, just like I would hope the tackler’s motives wouldn’t be mischaracterized as hateful and rash, when they are clearly stated to be otherwise.
You state: “The path of his own life or destruction – of any soul’s – is ultimately their own decision.” I want to give you credit (and I’m not being sarcastic) for the boldness of your convictions on this point. I would agree that each soul’s decision plays a part, but I would also argue (I think I can support it from Scripture) that other people who encounter a person also play a part in determining that person’s path, and that certainly God Himself plays a part in determining our path. To say that the person himself is the “ultimate” determiner, instead of God, is where we disagree.
Tags: 1 Timothy 2, Acts 1, exclusivity of Christ, exclusivity of Jesus, Jesus Christ, John 14, Salvation, soulwinning, swimming quotes, witnessing
The gospel of Jesus Christ is the one and only way of salvation. There is no hope for redemption apart from it. That conviction should drive us across the street, across the nation, and across the ocean, whether we run or swim or walk or crawl on bleeding hands and knees to deliver our message.
Charles L. Quarles
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
I Timothy 2:5
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.