Tuesday, January 03, 2006

True Evangelism

There are various common, well entrenched but false notions which inhibit us in sharing the gospel. One is what I call the ‘poor God syndrome.’ We plead with people to give God a chance. We remind them of all God has done for them and ask them how they could be so unkind as to not receive Him. Sometimes even appeals are given describing God as the poor mistreated one who desperately longs to be loved by humans but is being stood up by us.

This is a desperately deficient view of God. It is true that He deeply loves His creation, but he is not in need of us. We are in need of Him. The gospel proclamation is not that God needs us to sign up but that He graciously calls us to repent in spite of ourselves- and that if we do not we will be judged. In speaking the gospel we are not to emotionally manipulate people from the concern of hurting God’s feeling! Rather we are to proclaim to them that we all, in ourselves, stand under the holy wrath of God deserving nothing but judgment. The love of God is seen not in Him being a jilted lover waiting for us to give Him a chance, but in Him not destroying us straight away. His love is shown in Him providing a way, at much cost to Himself, for our sins to be dealt with that we might be reconciled to Him. Gospel preaching then calls on people to repent lest they fall under the judgment of God!

John Angell James, an 18th century pastor spoke to this issue as well. He wrote :“It is as if he had said, ‘wherever we go, we find men in unprovoked hostility, inveterate enmity, and mad rebellion, against God’s holy nature, law, and government: we carry with us, as his ambassadors, the proclamation of mercy through the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ: we tell them that we are appointed by God whom they have offended, and who could overwhelm them with the terrors of his justice, to call upon them to lay down their arms and accept the offer of eternal pardon and peace: but we find them every where so bent upon their sins, and the enjoyment of their worldly occupations and possessions, that we are compelled to use the language of the most vehement entreaty, and to beseech and implore them in God’s name, and in Christ’s stead, to come into a state of reconciliation” (An Earnest Ministry).

I think Psalm 2, properly understood, teaches us much about this. Here is a link to my attempt to expound Psalm 2.

2 comments:

Gordon Cloud said...

Good thought. Someone told me once, "I've tried everything else, I guess I'll give God a chance". God should be our first response, not our last resort.

Ray Van Neste said...

Thanks for stopping by Gordon!