Friday, September 12, 2014
Knowing and sharing the Person of the Gospel
Laurence Singlehurst, the evangelist behind Cell UK and with links to YWAM, has brought good sociology to bear on good theology to create an evangelistic strategy for the 21st century
WHEN I first became a Christian, the way people considered truth and responded to the claim of Jesus to respond to His love was quite different to the way it is today. It was not uncommon to hear the question, “Are you saved, brother?” (or sister?) and of course the answer was “Yes” because you would generally be inviting someone to share their salvation story. It sounded a bit cheesy, even back then – and it was ‘back then’.
Today that question would be met by a blank stare or a rude retort. In a post-modern society where the consumer is king, everything offers choice and what seems good to us, is good, the question (which is about Jesus and truth) doesn’t work, because everyone believes everything and no one believes any kind of truth which is absolute.
Laurence Singlehurst, writing in the revised edition of Sowing, Reaping, Keeping, talks about this paradigm shift. He says:In the old way of thinking, evangelism was about telling people the ‘truth’. This approach has been the bedrock of all our evangelistic strategies for the last 200 years. Whether it has been Bible in hand, Billy Graham-style, or whether out is dressed up with updated packaging such as dance music and smoke machines, we are declaring to people the truth.
However, we now live in an age, a post-modern age, where people do not believe in one ‘big picture’ ultimate truth; they do not believe in a universal ‘given’ that guides their lives. In the days of modernity – based on Descartes, who said, “I think, therefore I am” – …evangelism engaged with people’s minds to convince them of the truth. But in today’s world, how do we communicate truth to people who are basically cynical about one truth and accept all truths? We need a new approach.
Laurence goes on to ask what we would consider the high point of truth in the Old Testament – probably the Ten Commandments. And the high point of truth in the New Testament? People might offer the crucifixion, or the resurrection. However, he singles out incarnation as being the heart of truth. He says: “I would propose that the answer is found in John 1:14 – “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.”
This has been our journey this week. The popular gospel casts Jesus in the role of a means to an end, by which we avoid hell and attain heaven. The Gospel that the New Testament portrays is about the true person of Jesus, who lived, died, was resurrected to life, ascended to heaven and sits beside the Father, having been given all authority.
It is about how we know and willingly obey Jesus Christ, who is Lord to the glory of the Father.
The real Gospel, in which we know and interact with Jesus, compels us to enthusiastically find new ways to show people Jesus and do all in our power to help them to know Him too, discovering the relationship where they are receiving His love, and are more than happy to call Him Lord.