Jesus commissioned those who are his followers to share their faith with men. Those Christians who say that they are not the type of share their faith, are essentially saying that they have a light, but they hide it under a bushel (Matthew 5:15). When Jesus told us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19), he was not giving a good piece of advice for our lives or an optional statement. It was a command. This is why it is called the Great Commission. The word translated into commission means, a military command. We are all commanded to go and make disciples. However, when I see the manner in which some Christians attempt to fulfill that command, I cannot help but see how horribly they fall short. There are at least 5 examples of bad evangelism that I can think of, which has no biblical precedent and just leads people into false conversion, if anything.
1 – Sinners’ Prayer Evangelism
This method of evangelism is a modified version of the Four Spiritual Laws, or the Roman Road to Salvation. It has taken a good method of sharing the gospel, and sort of reduced it merely a few things that God wants you to know. Evangelists will approach strangers and ask, “Do you know that you’re a sinner? Do you want to go to Heaven? Do you believe that Jesus died for you? Are you ready to accept Jesus?” If you say yes at every station, then you are saved, according to this approach.
The problem with this is how radically and fundamentally unbiblical it is. Salvation is not merely reciting a prayer. It is not gaining some special knowledge. One cannot be saved and then go out and continue to live in sin with no conviction or striving for righteousness. When we are saved by grace through faith alone, we are literally made new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) with a desire to serve God, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Hebrews 12:8-9). Salvation is not merely reciting a prayer. Salvation comes when we repent of our sin and put all of our trust in the Lord. Teaching that it is merely reciting a prayer is bad evangelism.
2 – Sharing the gospel “without words.”
There is a tendency for people to think that they can share the gospel without saying anything at all. They will quote the old adage, “share the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” They think that just by doing good works and serving people, they are sharing the gospel. But that is not what Jesus nor the apostles did. Yes, they served people, but a gospel message was necessarily intertwined. We cannot do servant evangelism unless we are actually evangelizing. We cannot evangelize unless we are actually sharing the gospel.
This is a problem that is in even much Christian missionary work. They will go to other countries and serve them, providing food, water, clothing and shelter — and this is a wonderful thing, indeed. The problem with it, though, is that they do this without a gospel message. As Paul Washer said, all you are doing is creating a nicer world for these people to go to Hell from. If somebody wants to do servant evangelism, they need to do evangelism. They need to share the gospel. Let’s be honest, though. The reason they are not sharing the gospel is that they feel awkward doing it. So, they will use these adages to avoid it. This is bad evangelism.
3 – Only sharing your personal testimony.
There is a place for your testimony. It is an example of the power of God in a persons’ life. But it is not a presentation of the gospel message. It is not something that will necessarily help people come into repentance. It is showing them that you found something that works for you. But to this, most people will reply, “Excellent! I am glad that it makes you happy. I have yoga, that makes me happy.” When the gospel is just reduced to your testimony, something that works for you, people often reply like that.
They will also realize that they do not need the gospel. What if the problems that you had do not really apply to this person? It is great that God helped you to climb out of pornography, but they are not addicted to pornography. So what’s the problem? They think they are happy. They have everything that they could ever need – a car, wife, kids, good job. What in the world do they need Christianity for? On this approach, the Christian message appears to just be a crutch for somebody who cannot bear life. This is bad evangelism.
4 – Using touching little one-liners.
Neither Jesus nor the apostles ever approached somebody and said, “Hey! Did you know that Jesus loves you, and has a wonderful plan for your life?” They never approached somebody and said, “Hey, you know all of those sins you have committed? Well, God is not angry with you about them! It’s okay!” They did the exact opposite. Jesus told the Samaritan woman (John 4) that she was an adulterer. He told the woman (John 8:1-11) who he saved from being stoned to repent. Paul said (Romans 1:18) “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.”
When we tell people that Jesus has a wonderful plan for their lives, we are giving them a false hope. We are offering them carnal reasons to try Christianity. They tried sex, drugs, alcohol, and they did not work, so, why not give this Christianity thing a shot? The problem is that Christianity does not offer a good life. The first 11 disciples were murdered, and Jesus said that the world will hate us. When we tell people that God is not mad at them, we lie to them. We do not present the gospel. In fact, by telling people that God is not mad at them, then why, I ask, would they need a Savior? I pointed this out in my article 5 Reasons God Is Mad At You. Using these one-liners are deceptive and undermine the gospel. It is an example of bad evangelism.
5 – Telling people the cure without telling them that they have a disease.
This is something that Ray Comfort pointed out in his sermon Hell’s Best Kept Secret. When we approach people are just say, “Did you know that Jesus died for your sins?” most people will just reply, “What sins?” People do not generally believe that they are sinners. They think that they are generally good people, and, don’t you know, God is love. So when we tell people that Jesus died for them, their usually regard it as foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18). It is like telling a man who does not know that he has cancer, that you have the cure for cancer and you sold your house to get it for him. He will think you are foolish.
But if you tell a man, “You have cancer. There are ten clear signs on your face. I have sold my house so I could get you the cure,” he will be grateful. It is exactly the same with the gospel. It is not good news unless they know that they have a disease. When we expose their sins for them, shining the light on their sins, they will see their need for a Savior. This is precisely what Jesus did (Mark 10:17-31), taking the rich man through the Ten Commandments and then exposing his love for money. We have to show people their disease before they want the cure. When they do that, the gospel will not be foolishness, but the power of God (1 Corinthians 1:18).
How do you evangelize? Leave a comment!
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