24 September 2011

How Did Jesus Do Evangelism?

"Never did Jesus call for a short, easy prayer to receive eternal life. Never did He call on people to make an emotional decision induced by some pleadings by someone or some music or some environment. Never did Jesus offer an easy forgiveness and an easy way to Heaven. The door was always narrow, hard to find and there were always distractions to lead people away. [...] In fact, if you look at the evangelism of Jesus it's amazingly contrary to what we are used to. The Lord did everything He could, said everything He could to stop would-be, shallow, superficial followers...to literally stop them dead in their tracks. He put up barrier after barrier after barrier. He kept articulating these extreme standards for coming to Him to receive salvation. And this is just completely contrary to what we are used to in our environment and getting even more used to because it's more and more common. Evangelists today and pastors and people in church ministry seek mass responses. I mean, the idea is to reach as many people as you possibly can and so you've got to figure out what is the attraction for the masses and then you've got to decide what are the barriers that prevent people from confessing Christ, praying a prayer, seeking salvation. And you get all those barriers clarified and eliminate them all. You want to make this decision as easy as possible for the most people possible. So you remove anything you think would stand in the way, anything that would prevent people from praying this prayer or acknowledging this simple faith and responding to the message. Jesus did absolutely the opposite of that. He did everything He could to put up barriers constantly by making statements that were absolute and exclusive and extreme. He sought no superficial followers whatsoever. [..] Never would He give anyone an easy way to secure a false sense of salvation. If only we would go back to understanding how Jesus did evangelism...extreme demands that were not ambiguous, that were crystal clear and would deter the superficial and would thwart the fickle." 
-John MacArthur, excerpted from The Extreme Nature of True Discipleship, Part 1


  1. I'm not sure about this one. In Matthew 18:3 Jesus says we are to be converted and become as children. I agree that Jesus most definitely made statements that were absolute; however, I disagree that salvation is difficult. The difficult part about salvation is that my sin is the ultimate barrier between me and God. But Christ took care of that when he died and rose again. He's removed every barrier He possibly can to salvation. He did what I could never do, and paid for my sin. The only barrier to salvation now is refusal to put one's faith and trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross. Eph 2:8-9, Rom. 10:9-10, Rom 5:8, Rom 6:23, Acts 16:31, John 3:16.

    I do not advocate "easy-believism", as it is grievous error. Genuine repentance and faith must be present for salvation. I think in refuting an easy-believism type gospel this article goes too far the other way. I also disagree with watering down gospel presentations by taking away things like repentance, and sugar-coating man's sinfulness. Likewise expressions such as "ask Jesus into your heart" are not biblical gospel presentations.

    Just my thoughts. I'm enjoying reading your blog :).

  2. It would probably help to read the whole sermon, which I obviously couldn't post here!

    MacArthur is referring to Christ's call to true discipleship as taking up one's cross to follow Him. Passages like Luke 9:57-62, Luke 14:25ff, etc. "Weeding out" if you will (my words, not MacArthur's!) the superficial followers (ie, false converts) from the true.

  3. Right... I figured it would make more sense in the context of the sermon. My pastor spoke of this today in Titus chapter 1. Verse 16 mentions those who profess God, but in works deny Him.

    However, I think it's important to remember that salvation itself is not complicated. Another verse came to mind last night after I posted this.

    II Corinthians 11:3-4 But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.


  4. This is speaking against today's so-called evangelism. Pray a prayer, walk an aisle, make a decision and no matter what your life looks like after that, you're good to go. Just add Jesus as a cherry on the sundae of your life. Then, when people realize what they signed up for and that it's not the "abundant" (by earthly terms) life they were promised, they fall away. When Jesus preached, He preached repentance and faith. Confession of and turning from sin and submission and full trust in Him - an offensive message then and now. It necessarily results in a God-granted life change, and it may mean giving up comfort, family and friends - a cost that many are not willing to pay. It is indeed solely the blood of Christ which saves us, but when we fail to present the whole Gospel, including the cost, we create false converts.


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