Sunday, March 6, 2011

Witnessing and Discipleship

OK, so I have not posted any new articles in the last five months. I have been very busy, and financial situations and working long hours have been much of the reason that I have not posted anything new in quite a while.

Anyway, I wanted to attempt to address what I believe are two big problems in the Christian church today: (1) the lack of a desire for personal evangelism, and (2) the lack of discipling new believers.

The first point I just want to touch on briefly. It seems that most Christians (at least American Christians) are more interested in going to Christian concerts, or going to a “healing service,” or reading books on how God is going to prosper them and make them happier, than they are about the fact that people are dying and going to Hell every day.

A while back, I sent emails to the Pastors of all the churches in the area that I could find an email for, asking them if there was anyone at their church that I could go out witnessing with. Only one church answered me back, and that Pastor merely forwarded my email to the Youth Pastor. I ended up meeting with the Youth Pastor, and basically, he told me they already had a ‘youth evangelism’ program at their church, where they would invite young people to their church to play games, etc., and if I wanted to go out on the streets and do evangelism, I needed to go back to my own church and talk to my own Pastor about that. So, in other words, none of the churches in the area that I contacted were interested in going out soul winning with me.

A friend of mine (that I used to go witnessing with) would go various places to witness to people, and, though he would ask people in his church to go with him, usually the only one who would go with him was his dad.

Another friend of mine goes with his wife every week (at a time when I’m working) to join with members of a certain local church to go witnessing to people downtown. Though the church has something like 1,000 or more members, only about 3-8 people from that church go downtown to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only three to eight people, out of more than a thousand? That is only a tiny percentage!

“…according to Zondervan Church Source, 97 percent of church members have no involvement in any sort of evangelism. A survey by Christianity Today found that only 1 percent of their readership had witnessed to someone “recently.” Does anything strike you as being wrong with this picture? This does not sound like the people I read about in the New Testament who had so much zeal that they were willing to die for our Lord.” (p. 55, “One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven,” by Mark Cahill.)

So, the first problem is that most American Christians are too involved with worldly issues; too interested in their own comfort, pleasure, wealth, luxury and materialism; too self-absorbed and selfishly interested in their own health and wealth to be overly concerned about the fact that most people in the world are on their way to Hell. They are willing to sit in a pew at their church for an hour to be entertained, but that is all.

The next problem goes one step beyond that.

The Bible says, "Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

Notice that it doesn’t say, “Go and make converts,” but instead, “Go and make disciples.” The extremely small percentage of American Christians who are willing to go out and witness to the lost usually end up handing out gospel tracts, or standing on a corner and do street-preaching. They may talk to one or more persons for a short while. And they may even lead that person in a “prayer of salvation.” But after that, the person is usually left on their own.

If someone is led to Christ, they become ‘born again,’ as Jesus said in John 3:3. They become a brand new creation, as 2 Corinthians 5:17 says. But if a mother has a baby, and she merely lays that baby down in the street somewhere and leaves it, how likely is it that the baby is going to survive on its own? Now, when a person surrenders their life to Christ so that their life is drastically transformed, God the Holy Spirit comes to live inside that person, and becomes a Guide and a Comforter and a Teacher for that person. So, indeed, a new Christian does have the Holy Spirit to help them. Nevertheless, God did not mean for Christians to lead someone to Christ and then just leave them. That’s why Matthew 28 says “go and make disciples.

If someone comes up to a professional artist and asks the artist, “How can I become an artist?” and the artist merely presents to that person the concept of how to paint a picture, a mere explanation like that is not going to help that person very much. He may try painting or drawing a few times and might get discouraged, since he has not had any training or support to be successful. On the other hand, if that professional artist takes the person “under his wing” as an apprentice, he will teach that person all he knows and give that person practical on-the-job training.

So the same is largely true of a brand new Christian. A well-meaning person may have given him a tract and explained the concept of getting saved. He may have even led him in the ‘Sinner’s Prayer,’ and then left. How successful will the new Christian be in his spiritual growth? He may even go to a church a few times but then may get discouraged and quit. What is missing? The answer: Discipleship. The soul winner should have invested much more time with the new Christian, invited him to a Bible Study, offered his phone number or email to answer any questions, invited him over to his house, etc., until that ‘baby Christian’ had matured. The soul winner should have helped him find a good church or invited him to his own church, and even made sure he had a way to get to the church. He should have sat with him in church, answered any questions the new Christian might have about the service, make sure he is enrolled in any discipleship class the church has (and, if the church does not have any discipleship class for new Christians, then one should be started), visited with him later or given him a phone call during the week, and made him feel welcome, loved and cared about.

Soul winning is more than just a numbers game. It has to do with the eternal future of a human being. Will the person wind up in Heaven or Hell? The soul winner should give 100%, starting from leading the lost person to salvation, to preparing and teaching the new Christian to go out and be a soul winner himself.

This may come as a shock, but a drug dealer can provide an example of how to disciple someone. First the drug dealer makes his potential convert a friend. He spends time with him, shows the person his lifestyle and a good time. Soon he introduces the person to drugs---just a little at first. He teaches him how to use the drugs, and soon the person is hooked. When the drugs get too expensive for the person, the drug dealer teaches the person how to sell drugs, thus making the person a fully educated drug dealer himself. Of course, this is a negative example, but if this plan of friendship, habit and education can be used for evil, why can’t it be used for good as well?

If the soul winner would follow similar steps with evangelism (i.e., friendship, caring, utilizing habit/routine and education, accompanied with lots of prayer), it seems that we would then have a lot more Christian soul winners, as well as full churches.

17 comments:

satire and theology said...

Whoo, I am glad I arrived here before that Dr. Kingpin guy did. You know, Whales gave me a Doctorate too!

'OK, so I have not posted any new articles in the last five months. I have been very busy, and financial situations and working long hours have been much of the reason that I have not posted anything new in quite a while.'

Virtual life versus Real life, that is the question.

'“…according to Zondervan Church Source, 97 percent of church members have no involvement in any sort of evangelism.'

Telling.

satire and theology said...

'Anyway, I wanted to attempt to address what I believe are two big problems in the Christian church today: (1) the lack of a desire for personal evangelism, and (2) the lack of discipling new believers.'

I have been blogging for seven years. I have found many, not all, Reformed/Evangelical/Baptist/Independent (sometimes Presbyterian) blogs in the US, especially in the rural areas unimpressive with how closed they are to outsiders. They do interact with others like themselves (followers/comments) and so it is not strictly independence in attitude. Now granted one could state many of these bloggers are young women and I am a male so they are cautious.

Well, when I was looking for survey assistance for my PhD I received the same kind of response from many of the Pastors of the same culture. I would suggest that the responses of the bloggers is largely learned culturally from the parents and leaders.

This is a type of xenophobia.

I would conclude that culture is not going to do well with evangelism.

Further,

If they cannot be welcoming to a brother theologian/Christian philosopher who is significantly different, how will they treat 'sinners'?

As far as Dr. Satire goes...did Whales lose your degree?

Jeff said...

Whoo, I am glad I arrived here before that Dr. Kingpin guy did. You know, Whales gave me a Doctorate too!

LOL!

If they cannot be welcoming to a brother theologian/Christian philosopher who is significantly different, how will they treat 'sinners'?

Interesting point.

As far as Dr. Satire goes...did Whales lose your degree?

Um...but your header above says Satire & Theology. Is there some confusion within the Multiple Personality/Blogs, or am I just not understanding? Twin doctors quarreling always makes me dizzy.

thekingpin68 said...

'As far as Dr. Satire goes...did Whales lose your degree?'

Satan, I mean Satire stole my line!

Dr. Kingpin!!

Jeff said...

Satan, I mean Satire stole my line!

Yes, I think he's trying to either impersonate you, or confuse you...or both. He sure confused me. I think he's just playing mind games, just to mess with your head.

Jeff said...

I know the two of you look alike, but I can tell you two apart by your headers, so please stop trying to confuse me! I'm already confused enough, thinking that I'm seeing double!

thekingpin68 said...

Jeff, I posted on Facebook your latest comment in regard to Islam on thekingpin68. A theologian/philosopher friend commented in regard polytheism/modalism. Just now.

satire and theology said...

Look alike? I am better looking.

Jeff said...

thekingpin68,

Jeff, I posted on Facebook your latest comment in regard to Islam on thekingpin68. A theologian/philosopher friend commented in regard polytheism/modalism. Just now.

Cool. Thanks, Russ.

Jeff said...

satire and theology,

Look alike? I am better looking.

Well, I guess I'll have to take your word on that. : )

Doug said...

Jeff - I discovered your site - it's fantastic - you've got a real vision and calling on your life from the Lord and are witnessing to His grace the way all of us should - be encouraged, you're right on the mark! We're living in the Last Days - the Church is "falling away from the faith" - but "those that lead many to righteousness shall shine as the stars forever and ever" (Daniel 12) - God bless you - Doug Krieger (www.the-tribulation-network.com)

Jeff said...

Thank you very much, Doug! Your comment is much appreciated. May the Lord richly bless you!

satire and theology said...

The Jeff! Your site is good and your assistance on my blogs is very useful. Thank You, Mr. Jenkins.

Jeff said...

You're welcome, and thank you, Dr. Murray!

Jeff said...

Now if I can just motivate myself to post a new blog article...

Anders Branderud said...

Hello Jeff!

You wrote: “tract and explained the concept of getting saved. He may have even led him in the ‘Sinner’s Prayer,...”

I would like to comment on that.


[To differentiate,] Did you know that the historical Jewish Mashiakh called Y’hoshua, from Nazareth, was a Torah-observant Jew and so was his followers called the Netzarim?

This is what the Mashiakh – Messiah – must have taught about ‘salvation’ - if he was a legitimate prophet according to D’varim [Deuteronomy] 13:1-6:

As stipulated in Devarim ["Deuteronomy"] 6:4-9,11:13-21 one is required to keep all of the directives of TorĂ¢h′ to one’s utmost—viz., “with all one’s heart, psyche and might [lit. "very"]“—”for the purpose of extending your days and the days of your children… like the days of the heavens above the earth” (i.e., eternal life). According to the Tan’’kh -Yekhezeqeil ["Ezekiel"] chapter 18 et.al – the Creator confer His atonement in His loving kindness to those and only those turning away from their Torah-transgressions and (re)turning to non-selectively Torah-observance including mishpat. Everyone has transgressed the Torah and its possible to obtain forgiveness from the Creator in His loving kindness when living in the above way. The Creator has promised this in His Bible – which is in Hebrew – and He doesn’t lie.

Thus, the way of ‘salvation’ in NT contradicts Torah and what the Mashiakh taught. Thus, it will not lead to eternal life. It is only an emotional filled experience that doesn’t describe a real encounter with the Creator. I am a former Christian and understand that after having studied Torah in Hebrew according to etymology.

Doing your utmost to follow the directives of Torah will lead you into an immensely meaningful relationsship with the Creator. I have been doing this for more than four years and it has led me into a great relationsship with the Creator.

Anders Branderud

Jeff said...

Hi Anders,

Well, if you’re trying to obtain salvation by following the Torah, all I can say is, good luck, because you’re never going to make it. First of all, Psalm 14:2-3 says that no one does good, not even one. Psalm 51:5,9 tells us that we are sinful at birth. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things. Isaiah 6:5 talks about having unclean lips. Isaiah 64:6 says that even the best ‘good’ works that we do are disgusting to God. So if you are trying to obtain salvation by ‘good works,’ you are following a hopeless path.

During Passover week, orthodox Jews put away all leaven from their houses, eat the matzoth (unleavened bread) and the roasted lamb, attend synagogue, and carry out the ritual and direction of the Talmud. However, they do everything except that which YHWH required first of all! YHWH did not say, “When I see the leaven put away,” or, “When I see you eat the matzoh, or the lamb, or go to the synagogue.” His Word was, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you.” You cannot substitute anything for this. Leviticus 17:11 says, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” You must have blood. In the Torah, notice the place the blood has in all the ceremonies outlined there: for example, in Exodus 12 and Leviticus 16 and 17. Especially in those latter chapters, notice the place that blood has in the Day of Atonement. Yom Kippur was the only time when the High Priest could enter the Holy of Holies and call upon the Name of YHWH to offer blood sacrifice for the sins of the people. This "life for a life" principle is the foundation of the sacrificial system and marked the great day of intercession made by the High Priest on behalf of Israel.

And yet, you cannot find any blood atonement in the Judaism of the present. The temple was destroyed, and a Muslim mosque stands in its place. The only spot on earth where Jews dared shed the blood of sacrifice, according to Deuteronomy 12 and Leviticus 17, was desecrated when the nation of Israel was scattered. That is why there is no blood. YHWH Himself closed the way to carry out the solemn service of the great Day of Atonement. Modern rabbis will say that you must turn to the Talmud, rest on its instructions and trust in the mercy of God and the merits of your fathers. But if “it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11), and if “all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isa. 64:6), then how can ‘good works’ lead to salvation?

Leviticus 17:11 is echoed in the New Testament: “In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22) The New Testament goes on to explain, “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) YHWH has given His only begotten Son, the Lamb of God, to die for our sins, and those who trust in His blood are forgiven of all their iniquities. This is the Messiah of Isaiah 53, and this is the Sufferer of Psalm 22. Today, Christ Jesus, Yeshua Hamashiach, provides the blood atonement. His blood has been shed for sinners, once for all. It has satisfied YHWH, and is the only means of salvation for either Jew or Gentile. The Scripture says: “when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). “In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). “But our High Priest offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God's right hand” (Hebrews 10:12). “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved “ (Romans 10:9).