I like Aussie John. I CERTAINLY like what he says in the comment sections of my posts here on vtmbottomline blog. I've never met him but he's part of the reason I love blogging. We are truly Internet friends and brothers in Christ.
As an example of WHY I like his comments, here is what he recently said on my last post. "Paul, for far too long, we Baptists and other evangelicals, have maintained, rather arrogantly, that we have the right to seek to convert whomever we decide needs converting, and by whatever means. Jesus NEVER commanded that we make converts. Any good salesman can do that. I know that only too well from my experience as a young "pastor". If we would read His command properly and seek to be a follower of Christ who makes disciples, who, [those disciples] in turn, become disciple makers......now, that's another story."
Making disciples really is what it's all about as Aussie J. points out. Historically, Southern Baptists have called it "Evangelism." But, unfortunately, we've made the mistake of thinking of evangelism as something separate and apart from disciple-making. It isn't. So for the sake of being understood in what I want to say, I will use the the two phrases "disciple making " and "evangelism" interchangeably in the up coming posts on the subject of "biblical evangelism." It will take several posts and a ton of words to say all I want to say on the subject. But you are welcome to join me on this journey if you desire.
I'll begin by asking this question. What is evangelism/disciple-making really as far as the scripture is concerned? Whatever it is.. it will ultimately bring about what Paul the Apostle describes in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20 where he refers to the Thessalonians, whom he had personally evangelized, as his "hope, or joy or crown of rejoicing...at His [Christs] coming." So that passage, if it shows anything, shows that true evangelism will result in personal conversions, new congregations, and a continued walk of new believers with Christ. That certainly indicates evangelism is more than quoting the Roman road to someone or handing out a tract neither of which, by the way, is bad in and of itself. Only when such is viewed as evangelism fully defined.
So to answer the question of what constitutes evangelism/discipleship-making will require looking at several things. The first is the basis of evangelism/disciple-making so far as the scriptures are concerned. What do we base our message on that results in true biblical evangelism? Is it our telling people how badly they need deliverance? Is it addressing the emptiness of their life? Is it telling people God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their life? Do we begin with man even? Or is there a much stronger foundation to be laid for the gospel to impact human life?
I believe that the fundamental and absolutely necessary beginning point is that Jesus Christ has DONE something. According to Matthew 20:17-28 Jesus has suffered, died, and was raised from the dead as an accomplished fact. That fact is interpreted as to it's purpose in verse 28 where it is declared to be a "ransom for many." This makes very clear to me that the message we deliver is NOT one of something POTENTIALLY happening that we could call getting "saved" but something that has ACTUALLY happened that we announce as a "finished work" of the One who came to save. The gospel is about HIM.
So my personal testimony may have a place, but it isn't the foundation of the gospel. Everyone needing to be saved is certainly a reality, but it isn't the foundation of our gospel message. Even to talk of "sharing" the gospel must be thought of as speaking of what has been done in the Person and Finished Work of Christ. It all begins there.
All the rest we of our message is an explanation of the.. why He did this..to deal with sin and it's consequence..who it is doing this..the uniqueness of the birth, life, and death of Christ.. what was done in this..redemption and it's consequences personally. But the gospel [Good news] is not about man and his condition, society and it's failure, sin and it's consequences, FIRST. It begins with God..just as Genesis began with Him.. and His Revelation of Himself in Christ. It all begins here. To do otherwise is to introduce a man-centered gospel instead of a God-centered gospel and you wind up with a false gospel.
Next I'll look at the COMMISSION for evangelism/disciple-making and what that means for us