Sermon Series on Evangelism

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Sermon I: The Need for Biblical Evangelism


A.     Introduction to Entire Series

1.      Definition of Biblical, God-Centered Evangelism: “God’s Messenger, proclaiming God’s Message, to God’s World, for God’s Purpose, by God’s appointed means, through God’s Power.”

B.      What is the need for evangelism? 

1.      There are several ways to answer this question, but in this session, I would like to draw your attention to testimony of one who is widely regarded as the greatest evangelist in history, the apostle Paul.  In Acts 26, Paul had been accused of the capital offense of blasphemy by the leaders of the Jews, and to prevent his being handed over to them for judgment had appealed his case to Caesar.  After two years of captivity, he was called upon to state his case before King Herod Agrippa.  Let us read again a portion of his defense, beginning with verse 16, where he tells the words of the ascended Lord Jesus Christ-- 

16 But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, 17 delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.

2.      So, here is an evangelist giving an account of his evangelism.  What do we learn from him? 

a)     Paul’s ministry was conferred on Him by the risen Christ, in fulfillment of the purpose of God.

b)     His mission was to make a change in the condition and the status of men. 

c)      This change was to be accomplished by the ministry of the Word, Paul’s witnessing, and declaring, the gospel.

d)     Let us look at these points in detail as we consider first—

I.                  –that Paul was made an evangelist by God, for the fulfillment of God’s purpose.

A.     We must understand this from the outset— evangelism, is God’s activity from beginning to end, for the carrying out of His eternal plan, springing from His eternal love, and executed in His manifold wisdom.   

1.      Why is Paul an evangelist?  How does he come to be here, giving this testimony before Agrippa?

a)     Did he decide to become an evangelist?  Did he think that what the world needs is to hear about Jesus?  No, you all know that Paul never decided to be a preacher of Jesus.  He was made an evangelist; he was apprehended, taken captive, he was compelled!

b)     As he put it in the first chapter of Galatians-- He was set apart before he was born, he was called by grace, 

2.      What else? Paul’s calling was according to the purpose of Christ, a purpose far more comprehensive than Paul’s ministry alone-- the pre-determinate counsel, the eternal plan, the sovereign decree, of God for the world:

a)     To the church at Ephesus he writes—

Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in  God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, [1]

Paul was given this ministry in order that through it, according to God’s eternal purpose the church might become the vehicle for the universal revelation of the manifold wisdom of God. 

3.      Furthermore, the course and outworking of his ministry was directly under God’s sovereign control.

a)     He was being sent to, and delivered from the Jews, and the Gentiles as part of a divine strategy.  As Jesus told Ananias concerning Paul, “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”

b)     This divine management of Paul’s ministry is seen, for example, in Acts 16,

(1)  Forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia, they attempt to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them. So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas.  What to do next, they wondered?  Then, in the night, Paul has a vision of a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  So they go, and the first church is planted on the continent of Europe, at Philippi.

c)      It is seen also in the wonderful providence that brings Paul at last to preach at Rome. 

(1) We read in Romans 1 of how Paul desired to minister to the Church at Rome, had endeavored to come to them.  But it was not by any planning or endeavoring of Paul’s that brings him there at last.  It is as a prisoner, to give his defense before the Emperor—as planned by God.

4.      God’s purpose for Paul, then, was to make Paul the instrument for the carrying out of His eternal purpose.  So, it was with Moses and Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Matthew, Peter, and John.  They all had been chosen, called, and entrusted with the gospel to bring God’s purpose to pass. 

All the scripture bears this out--

a)     That Evangelism is not man’s project, carried out to accomplish man- made goals, through the strategies of man’s wisdom--

b)     It is an activity of the Triune God, carried out through God’s instruments, under God’s authority, by God’s power, to fulfill a purpose which God determined before the creation of the world.  He is in charge of it; He determines its path and progress by his sovereign will.

c)      Unless we see evangelism in this light, we will never have a right appreciation of its necessity nor of our responsibility, nor of our hope of  its ultimate success.

II. Paul’s mission, was to make a change in the condition and the status of men.

Question: What is wrong with man as to his condition and status before God?  The text tells us—

Text -- “… that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.” –

What is in view here?  What is the condition of men suggested by his needing “forgiveness of sins, and an inheritance among the sanctified”? 

1.      They are guilty of sin against God.

2.      They are lost.  What an important little word is this “among.”  Not to be “among,” is to be outside, to be without God, and without hope, in the dry and weary wilderness of this world with no hiding place from the wind, no shelter from the tempest.  They are separated, outcasts, scattered, strangers from the family of God, who have none of the pleasures, privileges and benefits of God’s heirs. 

3.      And being unsanctified they neither belong to God as his own people, nor are fit to dwell in God’s presence, but are abominable and loathsome in the sight of Him whose eyes are too pure to look upon sin.     

A.     Summary: they are under sin, under a curse to suffer the effects of sin, condemned to remain forever under that curse unless that sin is removed, righteousness brought in, and reconciliation with God procured.

1.      How did they get into this condition?

a)     Consider: The Origin and Purpose of Man

(1) Created especially by God, by his tender, loving, skillful hand, from the dust of the ground, given the kiss of life, animated by the direct action of His spirit, and created in His image, to be like him and to enjoy the honor and pleasure of having God as His father.  Created to reflect back to God the glory of His wisdom and goodness,-- to honor Him by loving, trusting obedience. This is what we were made for--by Him, for Him.  This is the essence of our humanity—not to be autonomous, not to be independent of God and think that is freedom, but to be able to know God as our God, to glorify and enjoy him forever.
(2) This is the basis for what theologians sometimes call the covenant of works.  It means that God, who owed man nothing, promised him that if he obeyed him he would live forever, but if he disobeyed, he would die.

b)     You know what happened next: -- man disobeyed God, eating the fruit which God had forbidden to him. 

(1) Man’s denial of his creature status, --his rejection of God as God, --was a rejection of that relationship which provided his very purpose for being.à   The world was turned upside down:  Alienation and CurseàCorruption, Bondage and Ruin.
(2) God’s image bearer, created to reign as prince over the earth, became a usurper and traitor, a criminal and an enemy, and acquired a character to match.
(a) Giving to the devil the devotion belonging to God he came under the control of the devil--.
(b) Alienating himself from God, he alienated himself from the source of life, wisdom, and goodness,--violating his likeness to his father, he takes on the likeness of his new father, the deceiver he had honored. 
(3) Positively-He came under a curse, -- the execution of God’s temporal and eternal punishments, which began immediately--
(a) His conscience smote him with guilt and fear.
(b) His intellect so quickly perverted began to think of foolish ways to cover up his sin and escape the consequences of disobedience, but he could not.
(c) The very creation over which he was to rule / was cursed, becoming resistant, hostile: yielding thorns, toils, frustration, pain.
(d) These were but the beginnings of a death which will bear him down, finally overtake him, and hold him in its grasp for eternity. 

c)      Ever since then, the wrath of God has been “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;

d)     Therefore, the first thing men need, if they are ever to face God with any other prospect than wrath unto death is a perfect righteousness.    

B.    Is there any other reason why men need evangelism?  Yes, They are spiritually blind.  In the fall, men not only became sinners, but consequently, they became blind.

1.      “Open their eyes” means to cure their spiritual blindness.  What is this blindness?   

a)     It is an internal incapacity of men to see what is before them: a moral and spiritual disability to duly and rightly perceive those things which God has revealed.

b)     According to the Scriptures-

(1) Men see all things “from a worldly point of view”-- kata sarka according to the flesh.   
(2) They are so dominated by that sin-twisted view, that they cannot see things any other way.  Text: 1 Cor. 2 14But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
(3) This “natural man” is equivalent to fallen man—man dominated by the principle of the independent self: self-sufficient, self-determining, self-justifying. 
(4) This makes him radically prejudiced against the incomprehensible, Sovereign, Triune God whose creature he is, whose law he has broken, to whom he is accountable.   
(5) Nevertheless, this God, is constantly revealing Himself to man in every place (the heavens declare God’s glory, and man’s own spirit, bears witness by its ineradicable sense of deity).  Painfully unable to shut out the beams of God’s self-revelation, man re-interprets it according to a grid of naturalistic or superstitious idolatrous presuppositions, and then claims to be “objective.”   

c)      This is what it means to view all things kata sarka.  It determines: what facts they will admit, how they will process those facts, what conclusions they will allow, and how they will yield to the conclusions

(1) How they will handle the facts
(a) Illustrated even in believers—On more than one occasion Jesus rebuked His disciples for their failure to perceive. E.g.,

Do you not yet perceive nor understand? Is your heart still hardened? 18“Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? 19“When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.” 20“Also, when I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of fragments did you take up?” And they said, “Seven.” 21So He said to them, “How is it you do not understand?”

See Mark 6:51 where we read that the disciples were utterly astounded, (when he calmed the sea) 52 for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

(b) The miracle of the loaves was a demonstration of His deity, --that He is the gracious, compassionate, and all-sufficient Savior of his people.  
(c) But the disciples’ fears showed that they hadn’t grasped this.   But here is an important point—He says of them that they have eyes, but they fail to see.   They are not innocent. —They ought to understand.
(2) It determines what conclusions they will allow
(a) Jesus casts out devils and the Pharisees conclude he is the prince of devils
(b) Festus--Much learning has made you mad
(c) The calm, levelheaded Gamaliel – “we’ve seen this kind of thing before.”  Time will tell, who knows.
(3) How they react to those conclusions.
(a) The chief priests wanted to kill Lazarus.
(b) Herod and Felix trembled, but died unrepentant. 
(c) Some mock, some say we’ll hear more of this later. 

d)     A guilty blindness

(1)  It is due to the rejection of light.  Romans 1:28
(a) They had God’s testimony, but they did not see fit to acknowledge God, they did not esteem the knowledge of God.  They loved the darkness rather than the light,-- positively, and repeatedly rejected the light, --cast off the fear of the Lord, and boasted that they see.  And still do.

C.    They are in darkness.

Notice how it reads in our text: “Open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light.” —A two-fold darkness: they are blind, but also in the dark.  They need not only the capacity to see, but also the truth as the object of that sight.  They must be delivered from their ignorance.

a)     Aeropagus address.

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.

(1) {Comment—that is the evangelist’s task, not to stand on neutral equal ground with men – But to tell them that agnosticism is no option—The God who is there has spoken.  Let’s read on. Of what are men ignorant?}

 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,  25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.  26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; . . .

1.      Paul tells them that they are ignorant of the independence of God, the distinction between God and his creation, the Lordship of God over His creation, They are ignorant of man’s origin, and God’s purpose for man, His providential government of the world, His immanence in the world, and mankind’s unfulfilled duty to seek, find, and worship God in Spirit and in truth.   What else?

30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

2.      They are ignorant of the righteousness of God, and their danger as sinners.

a)     They are facing judgment, when each one will give an account for his life, and “all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.”

b)     God will judge the world in righteousness, -- in righteousness He will determine the eternal condition of all people everywhere, and the tragedy is that men do not know what that righteousness is or how to attain it.   Do you?

(1) Perhaps you think that righteousness is loving God and doing good to your neighbor.  Do you love God and do good to your neighbor?  How do you know whether it is what God wants you to do toward Him, and to others?  You have the Scriptures.  Yes, but do you keep them? They teach that you must love God with all your heart, (soul, etc) and your neighbor as yourself. 
Do you do that?  Have you observed his commandments without deviation, from the heart, with pure motives, all the time, without fail? — You know that you have not.
(2) You need a perfect righteousness, but you are a violator.

(Dt 27:26) Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.  AND 

(Jas 2:9-10)  For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.

(3) You have sinned, and the righteousness of God is such that the wages of your sin is everlasting death.  Did you know this?

The Son of God teaches us that, far from a state of unconsciousness or annihilation, however, those suffering this death are in conscious torment.  The bible teaches us that they are receiving in their bodies, minds, and consciences, justly deserved, unmitigated, uninterrupted, and hopelessly unending holy wrath, fury . . . tribulation and distress from the infinite God.
At the end of the age, the Lord Jesus will be --

revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from  the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, -- they will be cast into a lake of everlasting fire.

3.      Of what else is man ignorant? Ans.: himself

a)     Do you know the truth about yourself?  The apostle Paul thought he knew the truth about himself, until the Law came to him in power, and then he saw that he was a wretched man.   Job, the most righteous man on earth, learned what he was and had to say, “I abhor myself.”   A man never really knows himself until he is evangelized.

b)     Only after the Holy Spirit has pierced a man’s heart by the word does he begin know the depth of his corruption, that his heart is a mass of spiritual gangrene, a putrefying abscess, emptying its poison into every part, so that his whole nature is sin, his every thought only evil all the time, and his sacrifices abominable to God. 

Isa. 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;  

c)      Until a man has looked at the cross of Calvary, and seen heaven’s prince, the holy one, stricken of God and afflicted, and heard the soul piercing cry of the Lamb of God undergoing damnation, he never knows the true desert of his sin, nor the utter impossibility of his satisfying for it by his puny efforts of self-reform.

4.      Worst of all, men are ignorant of the goodness of God, so all their lives they “sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,” hewing out for themselves broken cisterns which can hold no water, and amusing themselves with toys destined to perish with them.

  They are captive: captive to the power of darkness, the prince of darkness, darkness without, and darkness within.  This captivity is--

5.      A captivity by the devil

2 Cor. 4:4  . . .the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, . . .should shine unto them.

Jesus compares the devil as the strong man armed, who keeps his goods in peace.

6.      Captivity by the power of indwelling sin—i.e., not the devil, merely, but a man’s own nature, corrupted by sin and accustomed to it..

a)     So pervasive and powerful is this influence of evil that even becoming a Christian does not deliver us from its influence.  From its dominion, yes, but not its powerful influence.

b)     Illus., Romans 7-8

(1) Not even a Christian man is strong enough in himself.  Not even the Law of God, can make him good.  Only the Spirit of God given by faith in the truth of the Gospel, the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus, can set him free from the law of sin and death.

7.      A collective captivity

You were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, (It is a collective condition) -- following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among (!) whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.”

8.      A totalitarian captivity.  I.e., a captivity of the heart, and mind, leading to enslaving practices of sin. 

17 (The) Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:  19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

9.      Being a captivity of the mind, it makes men foolish enough to think they are free, or that the have escaped their prison when they succeed in tunneling from one cellblock to another.

D.    Summary

1.      Men need to be changed toward God; they need to change their view of God, their posture before God, their status with God, their condition before God.  They need to be made wise, righteous, holy, and freed from evil and restored to God. 

2.      In a sermon on 1 Corinthians 1:30, the Puritan John Flavel asserted that what men need is a plaster (bandage) as big as the sore.  This is to be had in Christ.  “Who of God is made unto us wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.”  Christ is all these things and more.

3.      But if Christ is the bandage as big as the sore, the preaching of Christ is the application of the bandage to the sore, which brings me to my third point--

III. This change in the condition and status of those to whom Paul was sent was to be accomplished by the ministry of the Word, witnessing, and declaring, the gospel.

A.     First, the preaching of the gospel brings opening of the heart, opening of spiritual eyes, removing this moral/spiritual incapacity to receive the things that God reveals.

1.      Jesus is not sending Paul to tell the Jews and Gentiles to open their own eyes; He is sending him to open their eyes.  Paul is the spiritual ophthalmologist; his ministry is the means through which they receive the new heart, the spiritual mind that receives the things of God.

23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; . . .and this word is the good news that was preached to you. (1 Peter 1:22-25, cf. vs. 5.)

2.      Through hearing the good news, the carnal mind is made spiritual.  Christ’s word is spirit and life, and through his life–giving call, made effectual by the power of the Holy Spirit, men are made alive so that they hear that call for what it is. 

B.    Secondly, the preaching of the gospel brings them truth by which they escape the darkness of ignorance, and by which they are made wise unto salvation.

1.      Throughout the scriptures, the preaching of the truth is referred to as the shining of the light, bringing not only healing of spiritual blindness, but presenting also the object of saving vision, the object of our faith.

13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, . . .  16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. (Mt. 4:13-17)

2.      They are given more than sight.  Through the preaching of the gospel, they no longer see Christ after the flesh.  The Holy Spirit takes away the veil, and gives them a life-transforming vision of the glory of God in the face of Christ —the beginnings of that transformation which will make us like him forever, when we see him as He is. 

3.      Through the Spirit and word the eyes of their hearts are enlightened so that they may begin to know what is “the hope to which he has called them, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, Eph. 1:18

C.    The preaching of the gospel brings men deliverance from the power of Satan, indwelling sin, and the world.

1.      Through the gospel, Christ enters the heart, binds the devil and casts him out.  Through the cross of Christ, men are delivered from the world, translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.  Through the gospel, men are joined to the resurrected Christ.  Having died to sin in his death, they are free from its power to dominate them, and given power to put to death its influence in their hearts.   

D.    Through the Gospel, God makes men Righteous, causes them to be reconciled to God, and causes them to be granted the status of God’s sons.  

1.      Romans 1:16

2.      People are justified through faith.  That faith comes by hearing the truth to which faith responds, and the truth comes through the preaching of the word of God.

3.      Being justified by faith, they have peace with God; stand in the realm of His grace, and have the certain hope of participating in His glory forever.


E.     Men need the plaster as big as the sore.  They need Christ.  As the great puritan theologian John Owen put it,

Jesus Christ is all, and in all; and where he is wanting there can be no good.  Hunger cannot truly be satisfied without manna, the bread of life, which is Jesus Christ;--and what shall a hungry man do that hath no bread?  Thirst cannot be quenched without that water or living spring, which is Jesus Christ;--and what shall a thirsty soul do without water? A captive, as we are all, cannot be delivered without redemption, which is Jesus Christ; and what shall the prisoner do without his ransom?  Fools, as we are all, cannot be instructed without wisdom, which is Jesus Christ;-- without him we perish in our folly.  All building without him is on the sand, which shall surely fall.  All working without him is in the fire, where it will be consumed.  All riches without him have wings, and will away. “Mallem ruere cum Christo, quam regnare cum Caesare,” said Luther.  A dungeon with Christ is a throne; and a throne without Christ, a hell.  Nothing so ill, but Christ will compensate.

 The greatest evil in the world is sin, and the greatest sin was the first; and yet Gregory feared not to cry, “O felix culpa, quae talem mervit redemptorem!”—“O happy fault, which found such a Redeemer! 

All mercies without Christ are bitter; and every cup is sweet that is seasoned but with a drop of his blood;--he truly is “amor et deliciae humani generis,”—the love and delight of the sons of men,--without whom they must perish eternally; “for there is no other name given unto them, whereby they may be saved, Acts iv. 12.  He is the Way; men without him are Cains, wanderers, vagabonds:--he is the Truth; men without him are liars, like the devil, who was so of old:--he is the Life; without him men are dead, dead in trespasses and sins: he is the Light; without him men are in darkness, and go they know not whither:--he is the Vine; those that are not grafted in him are withered branches, prepared for the fire:--he is the Rock; men not built on him are carried away with a flood: he is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the author and the ender, the founder and the finisher of our salvation.  He that hath not him, hath neither beginning of good, nor shall have end of misery.  O blessed Jesus! how much better were it not to be, than to be without thee!--never to be born, than not to die in thee!  A thousand hells come short of this, eternally to want Jesus Christ, as men do that want the gospel (Owen, Works 8:35-6).

IV. Conclusion

A.     This is the reason why people need evangelism—because they need Christ, and evangelism is God’s way of giving them Christ.

Sermon 2: The Means of Biblical Evangelism


A.     Not going to talk about techniques, but principles—things that are at the heart of the evangelistic task.

1.      We will always be offered techniques, new methods, new measures, but how shall we know whether those techniques are truly good, or actually quite dangerous to the souls of men? 

B.    Again, we must go to the scriptures, the inspired textbook on the history, principles and practice of evangelism.   There, in Genesis chapter 3 we may observe the evangelistic strategy of the first and ultimate evangelist--

I.                                          Who is God’s Messenger?

A.     The Eternal Word Himself, ordained before all worlds to be the mediator.  He is the angel, or messenger of the covenant, the apostle and high priest of our profession.  He is the missionary-making missionary. 

1.      The first evangelist was the Lord himself, who came to a couple who had defied their Lord and maker, a couple who had attempted to cover their guilt and shame with fig leaves only to learn the utter insufficiency of these man-made garments to hide them from the face of God.  Guilty, ruined, hopeless, they had never heard of mercy, pardon, or reconciliation—had no reason at all to expect it. 

2.      No sooner has mankind entered his abode of darkness, than the lover of men, the shepherd of the wanderer, comes--

a)     Seeking—“Where are you?”

b)       Confronting—“Who told you that you were naked, have you eaten of the tree?” 

c)      Announcing the penalty for this breach of the covenant of works—“Cursed is the ground for your sake, dust thou art, and to dust you will return.”

d)     Proclaiming the good news, the first gospel message—

(1) Let us look at the elements of that first evangelistic message. 

(a) There is, first, an announcement of a God- initiated, God-performed spiritual transformation—  “I will put enmity between her seed and your seed.”  This is an assertion of the creation of a offspring, of descendents, that would oppose the offspring of the evil one.  They would not be allies, but enemies
(b) Secondly, there is the announcement of the way the friendship between the serpent and the woman’s offspring is to be broken: He, one among them, will bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.  It is the promise of the undoing of the work of the devil.  Let me put it this way-- If the promised seed merely crushes the head of the serpent, literally--smashes him to death, . . . he, the serpent, still wins.  No, there must be a reversal, a removal of the cause of the breach between God and man, and a restoration to favor, which only the God/man can accomplish through his righteous life and substitutionary death.
(c) The first, the most primitive evangelistic message is most simple: redemption for sinners, the undoing of evil, through the promised Messiah.    Where all was thick darkness and frightful gloom, there was now a light, which through the succeeding millennia would grow brighter, until the candle would give way to the blazing sun of righteousness, who would arise with healing in his wings.

e)     He established them in the terms and practices of this primitive expression of the covenant, by the institution of animal sacrifices as substitutionary victims for the covering of their sin.

C.    Later we find him appearing To Abraham

1.      Calling him out of this world of idolaters, setting before him the hope of a city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God, giving him a promise of blessedness from one who would come from him, justifying him upon his belief in that promise, and confirming that promise through the covenant sign of circumcision, by which he and his descendents would be distinguished as the people who belong to God. 

D.    [To Moses]

1.      Later, remembering His covenant, He appoints Moses, like Paul, to deliver Israel out of Egypt, the land of darkness, the realm of Satan, that they might receive an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Him.  

2.      He ordained for them the practices of another expression of the covenant, designed to teach them the radical difference between sin and righteousness, the need of spiritual renewal, the costliness of the free gift of reconciliation with God, and to keep them as a nation in hope of the coming of Christ.

E.     Afterwards, he continues evangelizing, speaking through his prophets:

1.      Seeking, calling, pleading, striving, earnestly exhorting sinners to repent

2.      Confronting Israel with its violations of the covenant, with graphic descriptions of the nature and character of sin, as vile, disgusting, the evil of evils, unnatural, folly, corrupting, enslaving, debilitating, disqualifying, 

a)     They laid down explicit charges, arguments, and proofs so as to convict their hearers of actual transgressions, and afflict their consciences.

3.      They announced judgment--, also in graphic detail, so as to strike sheer terror in the hearts of the impenitent

4.      They proclaimed the name of the Lord, the longsuffering and gracious Savior, to move people to repentance. 

5.      And they re-issued the promise of the Messiah and His Kingdom, to uphold the people in hope.  

F.     At length, these promises were fulfilled, in the incarnation of the Redeemer.

1.      Study Him.  What do we find him doing?  --Still seeking, confronting, exposing sin through the application of the law, proclaiming salvation, inviting, warning against unbelief, announcing the kingdom, exhorting men to enter in.

G.    What do we find in the book of Acts?

1.      Christ, through the Spirit, continues calling evangelists to seek, confront, proclaim, and establish.

a)     Do you begin to see a patter here?  Christ sets the pattern, but more than the pattern, he is the true evangelist. 

b)     Now the Body of Christ, with elders preaching, ruling, deacons showing mercy, and all the congregation filled with the Spirit, worshipping, witnessing, and demonstrating the holiness and grace and love of their risen Lord—continues seeking, confronting, proclaiming the gospel and extending the Kingdom.

H.    Last night we saw that all this takes place through the proclamation of a message.  So now we want to take a careful look at the message itself.—

II                                          What did New Testament Evangelism looked like.  A Summary of New Testament Evangelistic Encounters 

A.     First, there is some call to attention—aware of the audience, respectful, compassionate, sagacious, but resolute, in control—always demonstrating a sense of authority and assurance of the unsurpassed value of the message.

1.      Sometimes a question, or invitation to ask a question:

·        “What are you seeking?”

·        “Do you understand what you are reading?”

·        “Why are you doing this?” 

·        “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

·         Or, in connection to a story or event, “What do you think about this?” “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way?”

2.      Sometimes an answer to a question, raised, or obviously on people’s minds, or a reply to a comment that reveals a misunderstanding of the true nature life, of God’s kingdom, or one’s way of entering it. 

3.      Sometimes an answer to a direct confrontation

ACTS 5  “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered,  “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

4.      Point: biblical evangelists take the initiative, grab the opportunities, and believe they have something to say, because they believe the gospel is relevant for every situation in life.  Preachers: you must get the attention of your unsaved hearers and address them particularly.

B.    An assertion of Christian Theism

1.      In some cases (such as at Lystra and Athens in the book of Acts), where a thoroughly anti-Christian worldview is in operation, there may exist a need to begin with the assertion and defense of fundamental truths. 

a)     Creator/creature distinction, revelation, our obligation to worship our creator.

2.      I say, “may exist” because while these things must be learned in order to understand the gospel, we do not necessarily begin with them, but may sometimes work backwards from something else. 

3.      Not a “dialogue with other faiths,” where some neutral common ground is sought. 

a)     This is one of the greatest misunderstandings of Paul’s sermon to the philosophers on Mars Hill.  It is not at all an approach to common ground, it is a devastating rebuttal of their worldviews and a call to abandon them and make their every thought captive to the Risen Christ in repentance.

C.    Declaration of the Bad News

1.      What we talked about in previous message.

a)     That they are sinners—blind and dead to God, captive to sin and the devil, guilty before the divine law, unfit to dwell with their maker, and building up wrath against the day of wrath. 

2.      This is a crucial feature of evangelistic preaching per se.

a)     Apart from this foundation, there is no evangelism.  Apart from the appreciation of this, apart from its being understood, believed, and felt in the heart and conscience of the hearer, there is rarely an appreciation of the gospel.  The fallow ground must be broken up.  Here is the preparation of the heart, not done by men, but by the Spirit of the Lord, through the preacher.  This is how the way of the Lord is prepared.

D.    An assertion and proof that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, announced by the prophesied forerunner John.

1.      The problem with most contemporary non-biblical interpretations of Jesus—if they admit his actual historical existence at all, is that they treat him like a mere man with a quality, and they praise the quality, making him different only in the measure of that divine spirit.

a)     The biblical gospel will have none of that—it is the proclamation that, through the faithfulness of God, the hope of the ages has appeared in Bethlehem, Judea—and fulfills all that was spoken of Him.

2.      There never has been any salvation except in this particular seed of the woman, and there is no salvation apart from him, now or ever.  But there is salvation in Him.  In Him, God --

“has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, . . .

3.      Rightly understood, His very coming places every man under an obligation to leave his flocks in the field and give himself to lifelong obeisance.  Rightly understood, His very coming also gives every man reason to hope, and, like the woman of Syrophonecia, expectantly to call upon the Son of David for mercy.

E.     An assertion that the gospel is for all who come under its sound, and that its sound is to go around the world.  The gospel declares that there is good news for all sinners, Jew, Gentile, great, small, etc. 

Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

The message of the gospel to Jerusalem Sinners is that Christ crucified and risen is available to you. 

F.     A description of “the person, grace, and office” of Christ:

1.      God incarnate has come. 

a)     It is the gospel of God concerning His son. 

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you,

2.      God incarnate has come full of grace.

a)     Read the description of Him in the 4 gospels, and in the book of Hebrews—the whole book.  There you see placarded before your eyes one who is not only able to save to the uttermost, all who come to God by him, but one who truly desires and delights to do so.  He presents himself to men, as Calvin says, “clothed in the garments of the Gospel.”  Full of Sovereign power and privilege he addresses men as one meek and lowly, and humble in heart, inviting them to learn of him, to drink of him and never thirst again, --to eat of his crucified flesh by faith and never die.

3.      In other words, in many words, they taught the Doctrine of the Mediator.  They pointed men to Christ in the fullness of his Office as the Mediator of the Covenant. –

a)     This is the center and soul, the foundation of all evangelism, in both Testaments, so that Paul is able to summarize the entire object of his preaching in terms of the declaration of the person and work of Christ. 

(1) The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, the preaching of the cross.  Christ, and Him as crucified.  The unsearchable riches of Christ. Whom we preach.  We proclaim not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord!  

b)     They described him as the--

(1) Ultimate Prophet--
(a) the light of the world, the word and wisdom of God, the source and object of saving knowledge, truth, and the meaning of existence.
(2) The Ultimate Priest
(a) Perfect sacrifice and perfect intercessor, the spotless one who offers up his own infinitely virtuous life of perfect voluntary obedience to satisfy the just requirement of the Law, and obtain eternal redemption of sinners.
(b) Through the wonder of the great exchange, this Divine person has made reconciliation with God and destroyed the works of the devil, honoring God’s law as man, and receiving for man the stroke of divine justice.  For this, the Father has raised him up glorified Him as Prince and Savior to give repentance and remission of sins. 
(3) The Ultimate King—
(a) The Absolute Lord and Almighty God, to whom all authority in heaven and earth belongs, and who exercises it with omnipotence for the salvation of his people and the destruction of his and their enemies, and the final disposition of all things.
(b) So, there was great emphasis upon both the resurrection and exaltation of Christ and his second coming.

(i) Not the modern fantasy of a pre-tribulational rapture, but the coming of the King to judge the living and the dead.

4.      They preached the benefits of Christ using a wonderful variety of images and metaphors for pardon, cleansing, healing, reconciliation, deliverance, new life—refreshing from the Lord, water for the thirsty, bread for the hungry, wisdom for the simple, covering for the naked, establishment for the weak, and many more, to show men that for all the felt or objective wants of human existence, the real need, the sole need, the all sufficient answer-- is Christ.  To be able to say, “Jesus, and all in Him is mine” is the principle thing.   

5.      Note: this is important!  They did not preach these benefits of salvation, as things to be received from Christ, but they preached Christ, in whom are all His benefits;

a)     Christ, set forth by God to be, as Newton’s hymn summarizes it, the “never failing treasury filled with boundless stores of Grace.”

b)     They preached Christ, not his benefits, as the object of our faith, calling men to come to Him, appropriate Him, eat of Him, drink of Him, believe into Him, “put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  They preached faith as the way to union with Him, in whom is all the fullness of God.  This is an important distinction--without it we misconstrue the whole nature of faith in Christ for salvation. 

G.    They issued an command to repent, with an invitation by Christ to be united to him by a true faith.   

a)     Texts:

Acts 2:38 “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”

16:31 Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.

b)     There are some who think that if you believe in the doctrines of Grace, the Reformation understanding of the Gospel, that you are somehow hindered from making a sincere offer of Christ.

(1) This is certainly not the view of the reformers themselves, nor the great puritan evangelists nor their successors.  Dr. Owen says,

wherever there is a declaration of the excellencies of Christ, in his person, grace, or office, it should be accompanied with an invitation and exhortation unto sinners to come unto him.[2]

(2) Canons of Dordt

Moreover, the promise of the gospel is, that whosoever believeth in Christ crucified, shall not perish, but have everlasting life. This promise, together with the command to repent and believe, ought to be declared and published to all nations, and to all persons promiscuously and without distinction, to whom God out of his good pleasure sends the gospel.

As many as are called by the gospel, are unfeignedly called. For God hath most earnestly and truly shown in his Word, what is pleasing to him, namely, that those who are called should come to him. He, moreover, seriously promises eternal life, and rest, to as many as shall come to him, and believe on him.

c)      NOTE: very important!  It is crucial to true, biblical, preaching of the gospel that we proclaim Him to men as accessible, willing, and desirous of their salvation.  Why?

(1) The scriptures, to those who are not bound by rationalism, clearly teach it.
(2) Because it is the necessary warrant for faith.  Those who do not preach it inevitably introduce another, non-biblical, warrant for faith.
(a) Apart from this, you must give men another warrant for believing, which must be something in the self—i.e., legal fears, earnestness in seeking salvation, or some other ill-conceived ground for believing in one’s election.
(3) Because Christ really does thus offer himself in the gospel to those who prove to be reprobates, and it is required of his ambassadors that they faithfully represent him.

d)     Surely, someone will answer, a man must feel a conviction of sin before you promise Him life in Christ.  To this Dr. Owen responds, 

When did God give the great promise of Christ to Adam? Was it when he was sorrowing, repenting, qualifying his soul? No; but when he was flying, hiding, and had no thoughts but of separation from God. God calls him forth, and at once tells him what he had deserved, pronounces the curse, and gives him the blessing  ….  From the very place of sin Christ raiseth up the soul. So Isaiah 46:12, “Hearken to me, ye stout-hearted, that are far from righteousness.” Here are two notable qualifications, stout-heartedness, and remoteness from righteousness. What saith God to them? Verse 13, He discourses to them of mercy and salvation;// and, Isaiah 55:1, “Buy,” saith he, “wine and milk.” “Yea, but I have nothing to buy withal, and these things require a price.” Indeed, so they do; but take them “without money, and without price.”

“But,” someone will say, “he calls on them only who are ‘thirsty.’ 

“ True;”, says Owen,” but it is a thirst of indigeney and total want, not a thirst of spiritual desires; for in whomsoever that is, they have already tasted of this wine and milk, and are blessed, Matthew 5.

Nay, we may go one step farther. Proverbs 9:4,.5, Christ invites them to his bread and wine who have no heart. This, commonly, is the last objection that an unbelieving heart makes against itself, — it hath no mind to Christ. Indeed he hath no heart for Christ. “But yet,” saith Christ, “thou shalt not thus go off, — I will not admit of this excuse; you that have no heart, ‘turn in hither.’“[3]

e)     The doctrines of grace themselves, when preached biblically, actually encourage rather than discourage the free offer.  How? By reinforcing the ground upon which the offer is freely made.

(1) What is the point of the reformer’s insistence upon predestination?  It was to establish that grace is absolutely gracious, absolutely free. 
(2) The point of Martin Luther’s insistence upon the bondage of the will?  It was in order that men might abandon hope in their own will and helpless fall into the arms of Christ.  Why say, “It is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of Him that sheweth mercy,” except to encourage a sinner to ask a gracious God for mercy, after God has shown him the vanity of his running and the depravity of his will.
(3) The point of our emphasis upon particular redemption?  That we might direct men to a mediator, whose precious blood was not shed in vain for any, but made a full satisfaction, and obtained eternal redemption for all who lay the hand of faith upon the head of this sacrifice. 
(4) The point of our emphasis upon final perseverance.  One point, anyway, in an evangelistic context, is to encourage biblical faith by proclaiming a God that saves, and does not merely make salvation possible.

2.      The Apostles taught repentance. 

a)     WCF

“By it a sinner, out of the sight and sense, not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God, and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God,(3) purposing and endeavoring to walk with him in all the ways of his commandments.”

Someone said,

“Sin is seen to be exceeding sinful in the light of the divine holiness, of the law of God, and especially of the cross of Christ. The more we see of God in the face of Christ, the more we abhor ourselves and repent in dust and ashes.”

3.      Summary,

a)     Conversion is the turning of the whole soul, from sin to Christ, to be saved by him, whom God has presented to me as a complete savior, in the humble expectation of mercy to save me from sin, its guilt, and power, and to receive from Him, a new life in the Spirit as his child. 

(1) Therefore, no place has been erected for carnal Christian teaching, no room for question about Lordship salvation—I receive Christ in the fullness of his divine person, to save me in the fullness of his mediatorial office.

H.    A warning vs. continuing in unbelief.

1.      Typical texts:

Acts 13: 38 Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39 And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40 Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 41 Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.

Mt.11:20Then he began to denounce the cities where most of his mighty works had been done, because they did not repent. 21 “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.”

2.      Important!!: Neglecting this great salvation, not seeing it as the principle thing, the thing deserving all a man’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, the forsaking of all other, the taking up of the cross, and the following of Christ even unto death; i.e., to refuse to see the issue as Christ reveals it,  —is to continue in unbelief.

III. The Manner of the Evangelist, whether the elder, deacon, or anyone telling the gospel.  Evangelism is done--

A.     With an awe-full sense of the reality of God, the God-ness of this blessed and only Potentate, who alone has immortality, and dwells in unapproachable light, the Lordship and Holiness and Justice of God, --that all things come from God, and belong to God, and all men will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, to be admitted into eternal bliss, or sentenced to abide under the wrath of the Lamb forever. 

1.      This is altogether contrary to the carelessness and glibness we see everywhere today--in pulpits, on the religious television shows, and especially those troughs for theological swill – Internet chat rooms.

a)     Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men.

2.      How this will affect our evangelism: the prayerful and laborious preparation, the scriptural content, the gravity in the delivery, everything.

B.    With an all-prevailing sense of duty to God, overcoming every other concern of life, even its preservation. 

Acts 20:22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

1.      In this regard the evangelist is an object lesson of the discipleship to which we are all called by the gospel—to deny self, take up our cross, and follow him.

C.    With a profound sense of responsibility for the souls of men.

1.      Christian’s are debtors to all men.  As men we all have a moral obligation to feed the starving, rescue the perishing.  Moreover, ministers of the gospel have a further obligation, a commission, a charge—

a)     Ezekiel 33

7 “So you, son of man, I have made a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 8 If I say to the wicked, O wicked one, you shall surely die, and you do not speak to warn the wicked to turn from his way, that wicked person shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 9 But if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, that person shall die in his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul.

2.      Paul was very sensitive to this responsibility—

Acts 20:26 I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.  also Acts 18:6

3.      Thus, he was self-denying, and self-disciplined, for the sake of the ministry.

19 For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them….  I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. 

I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control,  lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:19-27)

D.    Marked by integrity

3 For our exhortation was not of deceit, nor of uncleanness, nor in guile: . . . .  not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts. 5 For neither at any time used we flattering words, as ye know, nor a cloke of covetousness; God is witness:  (1 Thess. 2:3-5)

E.     Full of Christ (e.g., read the first 6 chapters of 2 Corinthians)

1.      Having the mind of Christ, filled with the Spirit of Christ, he has somewhat of Christ’s feeling for the preciousness of men’s souls.  I.e., not only is he responsible for them, he loves them, he yearns over them, his heart breaks for them, over their destruction, over their loss, for the tragedy that a man created in the image of God should be a sinner, enslaved to evil, doomed to die.  .  .  .  making him earnest and faithful in appeals to sinners.

2 Cor. 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

F.     A ministry of manifest, obvious, practically-evident love for the souls of men.

8Being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us. For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: . . . Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe: As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children,

1.      Note his use of “remember,” and “you know.”  He is not telling them he loved them, but calling them to bear witness to their undeniable experience of that love.

2.      He says it again in Acts 20:

You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia . . . Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish everyone with tears. . . . You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me.

G.    A sense of utter self-poverty, and dependence upon the grace of God for the performance his ministry.

1.      Clear from his own prayer life, and requests for prayers from others: for open doors, for clarity and boldness of speech. (Col.4:3-4; Eph.6:19-20)

H.    Finally, A sense of the inestimable value of the message, and the incomparable privilege of knowing it, and preaching it

1.      Yes, he is an earthen vessel, but he has a treasure, a treasure of inestimable worth. 

2.      Why is Paul here?  Look at him, alone, chained--standing before these officials of the great Roman Empire.  “In a short time would you persuade me to be a Christian?” said Agrippa.  That’s it, you gave it your best shot, Paul.  What does he have to say that could possibly be of any more value to them?  Do you ever think, “How can I speak to that one about the gospel, when he has so much, and I have so little.  What utter nonsense! 

Listen to Paul’s reply to the condescending Agrippa--

 “Whether short or long, I wish to God that not only you but also all who hear me this day might become such as I am—except for these chains.”

V. Concluding Personal Application:

A.     Do we believe such a full gospel?

B.    Do we encourage our pastors to preach the full gospel?

C.    Is our manner consistent with our message?

D.    Are our methods consistent with the message?  We’ll look at that further next time.


Sermon 3: The Goal of Evangelism


A.     What is evangelism, then?

Ans.: It is God’s way of uniting Christ, in all his saving perfections, to His elect, in whom a new, God-glorifying humanity is formed out of the fallen sons of Adam, who are restored forever to the righteousness, character and privileges and joys of the Son of God.  By gospel redemption, accomplished by Christ, and applied by the Holy Spirit through the gospel ministry, the kingdom of Satan is overthrown and the wisdom, righteousness and grace of the God are manifested to all creation.  This is how God accomplishes His chief end for man; of man’s of glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.  

B.    This is the ultimate goal of God through the gospel, and obviously, the goal of the biblical gospel preacher.

1.      This afternoon, let us consider this ultimate goal, and its bearing upon the practice of evangelism under the general headings of

a)     Facets of this Ultimate Goal

b)     The Power which accomplishes this Goal

c)      Bearing upon the Practice of Evangelism

d)     Obviously,  we cannot be exhaustive.

I. Facets of God’s Ultimate Purpose --

A.     First: "that they may receive forgiveness of sins.”

1.        God has committed to us the ministry of reconciliation.  The immediate objective of gospel preaching is the reconciliation of men to God, through the declaration that God is reconciled to men in Jesus Christ, and that in Him, through faith in Him, there is forgiveness of sins.  The evangelist’s goal, therefore, is to have men know their need of Christ, and bring the object of that faith before their eyes, so that, as the instruments of the Spirit, he might bring them to a saving faith.   

1.      Proof

john1: John the Baptist, “came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. “

jphn20:30John’s Gospel is written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

Romans 1:5 Paul says he received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name.

And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?  . . . 17So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

At the end of Romans 16, Paul says that his gospel, the preaching of Jesus Christ, is disclosed  “according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith”

2.      But forgiveness is not the end-- forgiveness, justification by faith, is something we need for the sake of something else, something for which our sins disqualified us -- communion with God as our Father, participation in His family – an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in me.   

B.    Let us consider, briefly, sanctification by faith as the goal of evangelism. 

Paul obviously remembered this goal of his commission, for he set it before the Ephesians elders in Acts 20

I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified

1.      What does the Bible mean by the term sanctification.

a)     Literally, it means to make holy—to separate from common use to God’s use.  The word has a two-fold application in the gospel.  On the one hand, it refers to the outward separation of things and persons to God,-- always accompanied by an operation of purification, or cleansing.  It also refers to the inward, spiritual, transformation of persons in their minds and affections to the likeness of the God to whom they have been separated. 

2.      First of all, we see that it is Triune God who does the sanctifying through the gospel.  Several texts bring this out most clearly.

1 Peter 1:1-2   Peter, identifies his readers as chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

a)     This sanctification of the Spirit flows from the Father’s election and leads to obeying Christ in the gospel and being sprinkled with Christ’s blood.   

In Titus 2:14 we are told that our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works

As it says in Hebrews, Jesus,

12 . . .suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified. 10 For it was fitting that he,” The Father, “for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. 11 For he who sanctifies” Jesus, “and those who are sanctified all have one origin.”

In John 17, Jesus prays to the Father, to sanctify us by his word, the truth, adding, “for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.”  So, again, we see the connection of Christ’s saving work with sanctification and with the truth.

2.      We should see also, that the evangelist is God’s instrument of the sanctification of persons through God’s word.

2 Thess. 2:13 But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the first fruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. 14 To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 

& Romans15:16  That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

3.      There are several important aspects of sanctification important for evangelism.

a)     Instantaneously in the heart.  John Murray – Definitive Sanctification

(1)  The holy spirit washes the sinners heart, renews the heart, replaces the heart of stone with the heart of flesh, ---this is something that takes place when you are born again, it is an aspect of the born again process—

(2) Regeneration is sanctification begun.  (God is making you new, giving you a sanctified heart.  i.e., a heart dominated no longer by the world, the flesh, and the devil, but unto the Spirit who dwells there, as an unconquerable power of spiritual transformation, the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.

(3) illus., An abandoned house, run down, dark, dusty, crawling with vermin.  Then someone moves in and immediately that house is different.  It is not what it shall be, but it is never going to be the same as it was.  So it is with the regenerate heart.  It has a holy divine resident, who has begun a good work and will perform it until the day of Christ Jesus. 
(4) As we saw last night, this rebirth takes place through the hearing of the gospel, --1 Peter 1:22-23.

b)     Intrinsically, from the world & unto God

(1) This heart transformation is the result of his being united to Christ, raised with him in the power of his resurrection and translated into a new realm, coming under the power of a new era—a new relation to God as his son, a new relation to the Law, a new relation to the angels, a new relation to heaven and earth.  “If any man be in Christ, there is a new creation, all things have become new, old things have passed away.”
(2)  Many of the exhortations to Christians arise from this principle: Once you were of the world, but you are no longer—You belong to God.

c)      Practically, in the obedience of conversion and discipleship.  (Private and Public)

(1) Note the stress on obedience in the scriptures we have quoted.

“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth.” in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood” & “By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name:”

(2) So, this sanctification will be manifested in the practical obedience of discipleship to Christ, apart from which there is no saving faith.
(a) Luther: “Justification is by faith alone, but not by a faith that is alone.”

d)     This sanctification is done openly, publicly and corporately.

(1) Not by any non-scriptural command, such as raising a hand, coming forward to a so-called altar, but as the Scripture indicates, by joining of himself, and if possible, his entire household to the visible church through baptism.
(2) From Genesis to Revelation this feature of the gospel stands out—it is the purpose of God to call and gather together a people, to be His own, covenantally bound to Himself and to one another, as a distinct, definite, visible, worshipping, body called the church. 
(3) Biblical Evangelism has as its purpose the gathering of believers into particular visible congregations for the carrying out of the purpose of God for mankind on earth.  Let me say this as strongly as I can:  To become a Biblical Christian is to be joined in membership to a visible church.
(4) Proof
(a) In the New Testament, the first thing that happened when believers were joined to the Lord by faith is that they were baptized.  Where a congregation existed, as soon as converts were baptized, they were accounted as being “added to the church,” and “added to the Lord.”  Where no congregation existed, newly baptized Christians were formed into one.   Being added to the church in the New Testament is always, without exception, equivalent to being added to the visible local church, to join with it in the doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, prayers, and become subject to its discipline. Departure from the local visible church was accounted apostasy from the Lord. 
(b)  The Scripture does not sanction anyone saying to himself that he is a member of the universal and invisible church who is not a member of a particular and visible one. 
(c) Not only is it not in the scriptures, it is directly opposed to the teaching which is there, in the Old Testament and the New.  Men and women are added to the church not because it is better for them, nor because they can be more useful in it, nor because they will be happier and stronger, --
(d) They are added to the church because that is the purpose of their being called by grace—that they might be added to the body of Christ, and partake of the fellowship of the holy nation, declaring the excellencies of Him that called them, living stones built up into a spiritual temple-- which has no real existence, no practical reality, outside of local visible churches.  

e)     3 application to this before we go on.

(1)   Should we regard as converts those who have not recognized and welcomed their responsibility to seek admission to the local, visible body of Christ?  Shall we give him the noble name of  “Christian” or admit to the Lord’s Table one who shows, by this neglect, that he is not a disciple of Christ?

(2) Any evangelistic activity or message that disparages membership in the local church is wrong.
(a) Well meaning evangelists are often heard to make the statement, “Church membership will not save you.”  True, mere outward profession and formal membership won’t save you, nor does justification come as a reward for the most devout service.  But there is no reason to give the impression that it is unnecessary or optional.
(b) Rather, let it be clear from the outset that not being part of the covenant people of God is a sin and tragedy of the first magnitude.  It is a rejection of the counsel of God for him, a violation of His holy law, and a despising of the authority and purpose of the Son of God, an open, public, and habitual denial of the faith.
(3) Whatever plea may be made for para-church evangelistic organizations, they have this against them:
(a) Their very existence is their assertion that the local church is not the divinely ordained instrument for evangelism.  If they believed it was, they would be participating in a church based evangelistic outreach.   
(b)  Their activity is outside of scripturally and therefore divinely sanctioned authority and control.
(c) Their evangelism is unbiblical to the extent that it does not aim at adding people to true particular churches, which certainly is the objective of Christ. 

Now, to other important aspects of sanctification.

f)        Progressively, in the continuing conformity of the inner man unto Christ.

(1) Paul speaks of it in these verses, to mention a very few of the many--  He tells Christians, --

to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

g)        Collectively, in the continuing growth of the body of Christ unto “the perfect man.”  This is the reason for the gifts of the Spirit.  Speaking of the gifts of the churches officers Paul says Christ gave them –

to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, . . . speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.

C.    Third facet of this purpose: that they might receive an inheritance, the testament and bequest of the son of God, I.e., that they might be restored to the status and privileges and joys of the sons of God, inheriting the kingdom which the Father has prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

1.      !This so plainly set before us as God’s objective!

Paul in Galatians:  God sent forth His Son, . . . that we might receive the adoption as sons.

Ephesians 1:11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, . . .  when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, [you] were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, . . . the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it. . . .

1 Peter According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.

And what is that inheritance? What is the portion of Jacob?  God Himself

II. {By God’s Power} 

Having looked at the need of the world, and the goal of God for the world, how shall we respond but crying out, “The need is too deep, the goal is too high. ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’”  What is Paul’s answer? “To this day I have had the help that comes from God.”  “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.”  The Power of God!

A.     This is an essential element of true biblical evangelism.

4 For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, 5 because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.

1.      The gospel is the power of God unto salvation, but not as it is word only, but only as the word empowered by the Spirit.

2.      By this power upon the word, men and women come to see that it is God, not the preacher, who speaks to them in the gospel.  As he tells the Thessalonians,

When you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.

3.      Text: Acts 5 :32  “We are His witnesses,” says Peter—there is the apostolic testimony, the word,-- “and so is the Holy Spirit”—there is the testimony of the Spirit. 

a)     It is the Spirit who gives the word its life, who by that word convinces the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come, and who, again, imparts spiritual vision to the heart to see Christ with new eyes.

4.      Without it, God’s word, preached ever so faithfully and accurately, falls upon ears that remain deaf, but with it, it falls upon dead men’s dry bones, they come together, flesh is put on them, and breath in their bodies, and they become the Lord’s mighty army. 

B.    What does this mean for us practically?  What difference does this make to our practice of evangelism?  Listen to Paul’s description of this 1n 1st Corinthians and note the contrasts.

And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.  2  For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.  3  And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.  4  And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing (or persuasive) words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:  5  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

1.      Christian people!  The goal of evangelism is not to be obtained by worldly means: showmanship, marketing strategies, reliance upon technology, compromises of truth, or seeker friendly approaches which flatter men’s pride.  

a)     Are not these things actually insults to the Holy Spirit?

b)     Using them to cure your church ills is worse than blood-letting to cure the sick

2.      This power is only to be expected at the good pleasure of the Sovereign Spirit.  How is this to be obtained, then?

a)     In response to prayer. 

(1) What is Jesus’ point Luke 11, in the parable of the importunate neighbor, asking bread at midnight?  “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
(2) In Ezekiel 36, after describing the wonderful work of the Spirit in the restoration of the church, God says, “This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock.”
(3) Acts 4:31 and when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

b)     How else?  Obviously in those things which demonstrate an earnest desire for, and which acknowledge dependence upon, the Spirit, such as earnest spiritual self—and corporate discipline, repentance, faith, continuance in well doing, and in preaching that exalts Christ & is faithful to the truth.

(1) 1 Timothy 4:16 “Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine.  Continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt save thyself, and them that hear thee.”

c)      Obviously also, this work of the Spirit is not to be expected as a substitute for diligent persevering labor in the cause of Christ.  We do not expect the Spirit to bail us out for unrepented laziness, carelessness, or the prayerlessness of preachers and congregations. 

III. Let us now take all the principles we have observed so far and see how they affect our Method of evangelism.

A.     Since Christ is the Evangelist, and the Church is the sanctified body of Christ, pastoral evangelism will involve teaching, demonstrating, training, & modeling so as to lead the whole church to undertake this ministry. 

1.      Remember Ephesians 4, and 1st Cor. 12-14.  Both of these places emphasize the corporate, or body-life, nature of the church in worship and ministry.  The church is the body of Christ, by which the manifold wisdom of God is revealed to the world.

2.      The church manifests the reality of the gospel by its holiness in the world, its unity of spirit in the exercise of a diversity of gifts, and its otherworldly joy in a world of heartache, its patience in tribulation, sacrificial charity to all, which provides living proof of the goodness and compassion of God in Christ to sinners. 

3.      Worshipping God in the Spirit, it manifests that God is present in it, and that the powers of the eternal kingdom of God have come upon this present perishing one. 

4.      However, differing spiritual gifts, and differing operations of providence will mean that there will be differences among people with respect to their role in the ministry of evangelism.


1 Peter 4:10 As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: 11 whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

B.    Every Christian life bears witness to its Savior.  Everyone is to show the excellencies of God who called him out of darkness into God’s marvelous light  How?

1.      By a life that is different.

a)     In goals, habits, work, leisure, in reactions to good and evil, in the exercise of justice, mercy, and piety i.e., in the observance of all the things commanded by Christ—all bear witness against the world and for Christ.  So, in his going through this dark world he will be a shining light, whose works will be seen of men and glorify God

2.      Do all those duties that God has clearly given to you.  

a)     Prayer for laborers—for more, & for those already serving. for open doors, open mouths, & open hearts

b)     Teach, train, inspire, nurture, your children.  This is the first and principle form of evangelism in the scriptures.

3.      By a verbal testimony

a)     He has a moral obligation to do so. 

(1) All the law bears witness to it.
(2) illus.: the four lepers in 2 Kings 7

9 Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.”

(3) It is our joy, for the love we bear to Christ and to the souls of men.

 Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. Mark 5:19

(a) illus., the servant girl in the house of Naaman the Syrian.

C.    As a church, we will engage in a ministry of evangelism that consists of labors to lay the right foundation for faith in the hearts of men.   

1.      Negatively, We will adopt no message or method of evangelism which does not stand on this principle.  We will not use tricks to get people to come forward, or submit to baptism, or anything that will manipulate them into a shallow emotional response.  Rather, our method will aim at changing lives, by moving hearts, through informing minds with the truth. 

(1) Therefore, the primary requirement of any sermon, lesson, conversation, booklet, pamphlet, song, tract, etc., used in association with evangelism is that it be orthodox, informative, and full of those truths most pertinent to coming to a repentant faith in Christ.

2.      We ought to carry out a ministry of Evangelistic preaching, i.e., preaching aimed at the unconverted.

a)     e.g., Lloyd-Jones – his Sunday evening sermons.[4]

b)     Evangelistic preaching is different.

(1) All expository preaching has applicability to the hearts and lives of Christian and non-Christian, so that whenever you are expounding a passage of scripture you may and ought to demonstrate its significance to all the categories of your hearers.
(2) But, evangelistic preaching, as such, is different in this respect: from the outset it aims at non-Christians. 
(a) It addresses their lost condition-- their needs-- more pointedly, with intent to capture their interest, hold them up to the light of God’s law, expose their sin, and drive them to despair of themselves outside of Christ.  Further, it shows them more abundantly the Savior as the Lord and Savior they need-- the unsearchable riches of Christ, the warrant for faith, and the soul-destroying nature of unbelief.  We cannot regenerate a soul nor create faith in Christ, but if we are to be the instruments of the Holy Spirit for creating conviction for sin and faith in Christ, our preaching must be duly designed for that end.  We must aim at conversions.   We have no right to assume that the Holy Spirit will take humdrum, generalized Christ-less sermons and cause a humbled sinner to see Christ in them. 

c)      What does this mean to those of you who are not preachers?

(1) Churches will have to give their ministers time to do this from the pulpit.  They are doing the most important work in the world.
(2) You will do your best to advance the success of these meetings.  How?
(a)  You will support these evangelistic meetings, by your own attendance and prayer.

(b) In your witness to the unsaved, whatever else you may do, you will encourage them to come with you to these meetings. 

(i) Andrew tells Peter, Phillip tells Nathaniel, “We have found Him.”

(ii) Remember the wonderful effects of that woman of Samaria, who went and told her neighbors, come and see someone who told me everything I ever did. 

(iii) They were not prepared to preach the gospel to others, but they told what they had found and invited others to the source of that joyous knowledge to see for themselves.  Can you not do likewise, inviting others to hear the gospel?

(c) Labor to impress upon them the importance of what they will hear, and afterwards talk to them of what was in the sermon, and do your part to see that the word is not snatched from their hearts.      
(3) Remember that absolutely necessary is the testimony of the Holy Spirit to Christ, piercing the hearts of sinners, causing them to attend to the words that are spoken by the pastor—therefore, you must not grieve the Spirit, but lay hold of Him by prayer, seek His blessing, & obey all his commands.    

3.      Evangelism will not take place from the meetinghouse pulpit only.

a)     Paul had a flexible strategy of evangelistic ministry.

(1) To the synagogues, the lecture hall, known places of prayer (the riverside in Philippi), public and private ministry in the home.
(a) Have you ever stopped to think of where you might have a church based evangelistic ministry outside the meetinghouse?  Though we are bound to regard Biblical evangelism as church based, and, according to Ephesians 4 and 1 Cor. 14, the regular gathering of the worshipping people of God, the most likely and normal place for the operations of the Spirit, Scripture certainly does not limit the preaching of the gospel to the meetinghouse. 
(b) Ministries at hospitals, nursing homes, prisons
(c) Worship services at public places.
(d) Homes.  E.g., Matthew  threw a party and invited his guests to meet Jesus 

b)     One prominent characteristic of New Testament evangelism which I didn’t mention earlier was that it was not limited to our planned encounters, but situational,-- according to the arrangement of Divine Providence

(1) Examples
(a) Jesus: the woman at the well, the visit from Nicodemus, people seeking bread, surprises at dinner.
(b) Peter: Acts 2, the outpouring of the Spirit, Acts 3, the healing of the lame man, subsequent arrests, Acts 10 at the house of Cornelius
(c) Phillip: not only preaching to the crowd, but personal work with  the Ethiopian eunuch.
(d) Paul: Acts 13, Pisidian Antioch, Upon the invitation of the leader of the synagogue, (Point: the Gentiles heard it, and next week almost the whole city had come to hear.)  Acts 14, At Lystra, when they were mistaken for Zeus and Hermes they had occasion to rebuke the Gentiles for their idolatry, and correct their notion of God.  Acts 16, at a prayer meeting by a riverside, and later in a dungeon and the home of the jailor.  Acts 17 at the sudden insistence of a group of Stoic and Epicurean philosophers.  At the end of Acts 21 while being taken away into protective custody he stops on the stairs and addresses the mob which is crying out against him.
(e) You are perhaps familiar with the enormous crowds which attended the ministry of that greatest of evangelists, George Whitefield.  But let me tell you something about Whitefield, he not only evangelized by the thousands in church and in the field.  No, no, he was always evangelizing, -- the aristocrat at dinner, the captain in the ships cabin, sailors on their watches at night, the prisoner in the cell, soldiers, the sick, traveling companions, and many others.
(2) No wonder Paul tells Timothy, “be instant in season and out of season,” and Peter tells his readers, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.

D.    As we seek men’s souls, we will seek to secure their true faith in Christ, and their growth in grace, and the carrying on of that work of sanctification. 

1.      All pastoral work is evangelistic in this sense: it is finishing the work begun in the preaching of the cross, by continuing to preach and apply the doctrine of the cross.  

a)     Never an arm’s length from the gospel

b)     It will follow up; lest the work begun be labor in vain, (1st Thess. 3:5) and professions prove to be empty, and converts make no progress towards the goal.  

2.      It will mean, if we would follow Paul, direct dealing with hearers through house-to-house ministry.

a)     Richard Baxter’s “Reformed Pastor.”

b)     i.e., Pastoral visitation for the sake of spiritual inspection and nurture. 

3.      Professing Christian people!  Your pastor has a divine charge laid upon him, and according to that charge he must give an account for each individual one of you. 

a)     For that very reason, you are commanded to submit to their oversight, their discipleship, and their private as well as public admonitions. 

b)     Would you be an evangelistic church?  Then support your elders in this ministry of house-to-house visitation. 

IV. Conclusion 

A.     God told Habakkuk “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”  We are not out to win scalps or put mere numbers on the role, but to see Christ enthroned upon the hearts of men, and the kingdom of Christ glorious upon the earth.  We seek through our teaching and example to show men the serious nature of life, the reality of the two roads, the truth of the gospel, and the power of the gospel to transform lives, and admit into the kingdom of His grace.

B.    How is that to happen?  Jesus told his apostles in words which direct our steps and fill us with confidence:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in  the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Appendix I

The Westminster Assembly’s “Sum of Saving Knowledge”


FOR building our confidence upon this solid ground, these four Warrants and special Motives to believe in Christ may serve.

I. The First Whereof is God's Hearty Invitation,

Holden Forth, Isa. 55:1-5.

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money: come ye, buy and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price. Ver. 2. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread ? and your labour for that which satisfieth not ? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. Ver. 3. Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Ver. 4. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people, etc.

Here (after setting down the precious ransom of our redemption by the sufferings of Christ, and the rich blessings purchased to us thereby, in the two former chapters) the Lord, in this chapter,

1. Maketh open offer of Christ and his grace, by proclamation of a free and gracious market of righteousness and salvation, to be had through Christ to every soul, without exception, that truly desires to be saved from sin and wrath: "Ho, every one that thirsteth," saith he.

2. He inviteth all sinners, that for any reason stand at a distance from God, to come and take from him riches of grace, running in Christ as a river, to wash away sin, and to slocken wrath: " Come ye to the waters," saith he.

3. Lest any should stand aback in the sense of his own sinfulness or unworthiness, and inability to do any good, the Lord calleth upon such persons in special, saying, " He that hath no money, come."

4. He craveth no more of his merchant, but that he be pleased with the wares offered, which are grace, and more grace; and that he heartily consent unto, and embrace this offer of grace, that so he may close a bargain, and a formal covenant with God; "Come, buy without money, (saith he,) come, eat: that is, consent to have, and take unto you all saving graces; make the wares your own, possess them, and make use of all blessings in Christ; whatsoever maketh for your spiritual life and comfort, use and enjoy it freely, without paying any thing for it: "Come, buy wine and milk without money, and without price," saith he.

5. Because the Lord knoweth how much we are inclined to seek righteousness and life by our own performances and satisfaction, to have righteousness and life as it were by the way of works, and how loath we are to embrace Christ Jesus, and to take life by way of free grace through Jesus Christ, upon the terms whereupon it is offered to us; therefore the Lord lovingly calls us off this our crooked and unhappy way with a gentle and timeous admonition, giving us to understand, that we shall but lose our labour in this our way: "Wherefore do ye spend your money (saith he) for that which is not bread ? and your labour for that which satisfieth not ?"

6. The Lord promiseth to us solid satisfaction in the way of betaking ourselves unto the grace of Christ, even true contentment, and fulness of spiritual pleasure, saying, "Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness."

7. Because faith cometh by hearing, he calleth for audience unto the explication of the offer, and calleth for believing of, and hastening unto the truth , which is able to beget the application of saving faith, and to draw the soul to trust in God: "Incline your ear, and come unto me," saith he. To which end, the Lord promises, that this offer being received, shall quicken the dead sinner; and that, upon the welcoming of this offer, he will close the covenant of grace with the man that shall consent unto it, even an indissolvable covenant of perpetual reconciliation and peace: "Hearken, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you." Which covenant, he declareth, shall be in substance the assignation, and the making over, of all the saving graces which David (who is Jesus Christ, Acts 13:34.) hath bought for us in the covenant of redemption: "I will make a covenant with you, (saith he,) even the "sure mercies of David." By sure mercies, he means saving graces, such as are righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, adoption, sanctification, and glorification, and whatsoever belongs to godliness and life eternal.

8. To confirm and assure us of the real grant of these saving mercies, and to persuade us of the reality of the covenant betwixt God and the believer of this word, the Father hath made a fourfold gift of his eternal and only begotten Son:

First, To be incarnate and born for our sake, of the seed of David his type; for which cause he is called here, and Acts 13:34. DAVID, the true and everlasting King of Israel. This is the great gift of God to .man, John 4:10. And here, I have given him to be David, or born of David, to the people.

Secondly, He hath made a gift of Christ to be a witness to the people, both of the sure and saving mercies granted to the redeemed in the covenant of redemption; and also of the Father's willingness and purpose to apply them, and to make them fast in the covenant of reconciliation made with such as embrace the offer: "I have given him (saith the Lord here) to be a witness to the people." And truly he is a sufficient witness in this matter in many respects: 1st, Because he is one of the blessed Trinity, and party-contractor for us, in the covenant of redemption, before the world was. 2dly, He is by office, as Mediator, the Messenger of the covenant, and hath gotten commission to reveal it. 3dly, He began actually to reveal it in paradise, where he promised, that the seed of the woman should bruise the head of the serpent. 4thly, He set forth his own death and sufferings, and the great benefits that should come thereby to us, in the types and figures of sacrifices and ceremonies before his coming. 5thly, He gave more and more light about this covenant, speaking by his Spirit, from age to age, in the holy prophets. 6thly, He came himself, in the fulness of time, and did bear witness of all things belonging to this covenant, and of God's willing mind to take believers into it; partly, by uniting our nature in one person with the divine nature; partly, by preaching the good tidings of the covenant with his own mouth; partly, by paying the price of redemption on the cross; and partly, by dealing still with the people, from the beginning to this day, to draw in, and to hold in the redeemed in this covenant.

Thirdly, God hath made a gift of Christ, as a leader to the people, to bring us through all difficulties, all afflictions and temptations, unto life, by this covenant: and he it is, and no other, who doth indeed lead his own unto the covenant; and, in the covenant, all the way on unto salvation: 1. By the direction of his word and Spirit. 2. By the example of his own life, in faith and obedience, even to the death of the cross. 3. By his powerful working, bearing his redeemed ones in his arms, and causing them to lean on him, while they go up through the wilderness.

Fourthly, God hath made a gift of Christ unto his people, as a commander: which office he faithfully exerciseth, by giving to his kirk and people laws and ordinances, pastors and governors, and all necessary officers; by keeping courts and assemblies among them, to see that his laws be obeyed; subduing, by his word, Spirit, and discipline, his people's corruptions; and; by his wisdom and power, guarding them against all their enemies whatsoever. Hence he who hath closed bargain with God may strengthen his faith, by reasoning after this manner: "Whosoever doth heartily receive the offer of free grace, made here to sinners, thirsting for righteousness and salvation: unto him, by an everlasting covenant, belongeth Christ, the true David, with all his sure and saving mercies: But I (may the weak believer say) do heartily receive the offer of free grace made here to sinners, thirsting for righteousness and salvation: Therefore unto me, by an everlasting covenant, belongeth Christ Jesus, with all his sure and saving mercies."

II. The Second Warrant and Special Motive to Embrace Christ, and Believe in Him, is the Earnest Request that God Maketh to Us to Be Reconciled to Him in Christ;

Holden Forth, 2 Cor. 5:19-21.

God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Ver. 20. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. Ver. 21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Wherein the apostle teacheth us these nine doctrines:

1. That the elect world, or world of redeemed souls, are by nature in the estate of enmity against God: this is presupposed in the word reconciliation; for reconciliation, or renewing of friendship, cannot be, except betwixt those that have been at enmity.

2. That in all the time bypast, since the fall of Adam, Christ Jesus, the eternal Son of God, as Mediator, and the Father in him, hath been about the making friendship (by his word and Spirit) betwixt himself and the elect world: "God (saith he) was in Christ reconciling the world to himself."

3. That the way of reconciliation was in all ages one and the same in substance, viz. by forgiving the sins of them who do acknowledge their sins and their enmity against God, and do seek reconciliation and remission of sins in Christ: "For God (saith he) was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself," by way of "not imputing their trespasses unto them."

4. That the end and scope of the gospel, and whole word of God, is threefold: (1.) It serveth to make people sensible of their sins, and of their enmity against God, and of their danger, if they should stand out, and not fear God's displeasure. (2.) The word of God serveth to make men acquainted with the course which God hath prepared for making friendship with them through Christ, viz. That if men shall acknowledge the enmity, and shall be content to enter into a covenant of friendship with God through Christ, then God will be content to be reconciled with them freely. (3.) The word of God serveth to teach men how to carry themselves towards God, as friends, after they are reconciled to him, viz. to be loath to sin against him, and to strive heartily to obey his commandments: and therefore the word of God here is called the word of reconciliation, because it teacheth us what need we have of reconciliation, and how to make it, and how to keep the reconciliation of friendship, being made with God through Christ.

5. That albeit the hearing, believing, and obeying of this word, doth belong to all those to whom this gospel doth come; yet the office of preaching of it with authority belongeth to none, but to such only as God doth call to his ministry, and sendeth out with commission for this work. This the apostle holdeth forth, Ver. 19. in these words, "He hath committed to us the word of reconciliation."

6. That the ministers of the gospel should behave themselves as Christ's messengers, and should closely follow their commission set down in the word, Matt. 28:19,20; and when they do so, they should be received by the people as ambassadors from God; for here the apostle, in all their names, saith, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us."

7. That ministers, in all earnestness of affections, should deal with people to acknowledge their sins, and their natural enmity against God, more and more seriously; and to consent to the covenant of grace and embassage of Christ more and more heartily; and to evidence more and more clearly their reconciliation, by a holy carriage before God. This he holdeth forth, when he saith, "We pray you, be ye reconciled to God."

8. That in the ministers' affectionate dealing with the people, the people should consider that they have to do with God and Christ, requesting them, by the ministers, to be reconciled.

Now, there cannot be a greater inducement to break a sinner's hard heart, than God's making a request to him for friendship; for when it became us, who have done so many wrongs to God, to seek friendship of God, he preventeth us: and (O wonder of wonders!) he requesteth us to be content to be reconciled to him; and therefore most fearful wrath must abide them who do set light by this request, and do not yield when they hear ministers with commission, saying, "We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did "beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God."

9. To make it appear how it cometh to pass that the covenant of reconciliation should be so easily made up betwixt God and a humble sinner fleeing to Christ, the apostle leads us unto the cause of it, holden forth in the covenant of redemption, the sum whereof is this: " It is agreed betwixt God and the Mediator Jesus Christ the Son of God, surety for the redeemed, as parties contractors, that the sins of the redeemed should be imputed to innocent Christ, and he both condemned and put to death for them, upon this very condition, that whosoever heartily consents unto the covenant of reconciliation offered through Christ, shall, by the imputation of his obedience unto them, be justified and holden righteous before God; for God hath made Christ, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, saith the apostle, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him." Hence may a weak believer strengthen his faith, by reasoning from this ground after this manner: "He that, upon the loving request of God and Christ, made to him by the mouth of ministers, (having commission to that effect,) hath embraced the offer of perpetual reconciliation through Christ, and doth purpose, by God's grace, as a reconciled person, to strive against sin, and to serve God to his power constantly, may be as sure to have righteousness and eternal life given to him, for the obedience of Christ imputed to him, as it is sure that Christ was condemned and put to death for the sins of the redeemed imputed to him: But I (may the weak believer say) upon the loving request of God and Christ, made to me by the mouth of his ministers, have embraced the offer of perpetual reconciliation through Christ, and do purpose, by God's grace, as a reconciled person, to strive against sin, and to serve God to my power constantly: Therefore I may be as sure to have righteousness and eternal life given to me, for the obedience of Christ imputed to me, as it is sure that Christ was condemned and put to death for the sins of the re deemed imputed to him."

III. The Third Warrant and Special Motive to Believe in Christ, Is the Strait and Awful Command of God, Charging All the Hearers of the Gospel to Approach to Christ in the Order Set Down by Him, and to Believe in Him;

Holden Forth, 1 John 3:23.

This is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

Wherein the apostle giveth us to understand these five doctrines:

1. That if any man shall not be taken with the sweet invitation of God, nor with the humble and loving request of God, made to him to be reconciled, he shall find he hath to do with the sovereign authority of the highest Majesty; for "this is his commandment, that we believe in him," saith he.

2. That if any man look upon this commandment as he hath looked heretofore upon the neglected commandments of the law, he must consider that this is a command of the gospel, posterior to the law, given for making use of the remedy of all sins; which, if it be disobeyed, there is no other command to follow but this, "Go, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire of hell;" for "this is his commandment;" the obedience of which is most pleasant in his sight, Ver. 22. and without which it is impossible to please him, Heb. 11:6.

3. That every one who heareth the gospel, must make conscience of the duty of lively faith in Christ; the weak believer must not think it presumption to do what is commanded; the person inclined to desperation must take up himself, and think upon obedience unto this sweet and saving command; the strong believer must dip yet more in the sense of his need he hath of Jesus Christ, and more and more grow in the obedience of this command; yea, the most impenitent, profane, and wicked person must not thrust out himself, or be thrust out by others, from orderly aiming at this duty, how desperate soever his condition seems to be; for he that commands all men to believe in Christ, doth thereby command all men to believe that they are damned and lost without Christ: he thereby commands all men to acknowledge their sins, and their need of Christ, and in effect commands all men to repent, that they may believe in him. And whosoever do refuse to repent of their bygone sins, are guilty of disobedience to this command given to all hearers, but especially to those that are within the visible church: for "this is his commandment, that we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ," saith he.

4. That he who obeyeth this commandment hath built his salvation on a solid ground: for, 1st,He hath found the promised Messiah, completely furnished with all perfections unto the perfect execution of the offices of Prophet, Priest, and King; for he is that Christ in whom the man doth believe. 2d, He hath embraced a Saviour, who is able to save to the uttermost, yea, and who doth effectually save every one that cometh to God through him; for he is Jesus, the true Saviour of his people from their sins. 3d, He that obeyeth this command hath built his salvation on the Rock, that is, on the Son of God, to whom it is no robbery to be called equal to the Father, and who is worthy to be the object of saving faith, and of spiritual worship: for "this is his command, (saith he) that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ."

5. That he who hath believed on Jesus Christ, though he be freed from the curse of the law, is not freed from the command and obedience of the law, but tied thereunto by a new obligation, and a new command from Christ; which new command from Christ importeth help to obey the command: unto which command from Christ, the Father addeth his authority and command also; for "this is his commandment, (saith John,) "that we believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he hath commanded us." The first part of which command, enjoining belief in him, necessarily implieth love to God, and so obedience to the first table; for believing in God, and loving God, are inseparable; and the second part of the command enjoineth .love to our neighbour, (especially to the household of faith,) and so obedience to the second table of the law. Hence may a weak believer strengthen himself, by reasoning from this ground after this manner: "Whosoever, in the sense of his own sinfulness, and fear of God's wrath, at the command of God, is fled to Jesus Christ, the only remedy of sin and misery, and hath engaged his heart to the obedience of the law of love, his faith is not presumptuous or dead, but true and saving faith: But I, (may the weak believer say) in the sense of my own sinfulness, and fear of God's wrath, am fled to Jesus Christ, the only remedy of sin and misery, and have engaged my heart to the obedience of the law of love: Therefore my faith is not a presumptuous and dead faith, but true and saving faith.

IV. The Fourth Warrant and Special Motive to Believe in Christ, is Much assurance of Life Given, in Case Men Shall Obey the Command of Believing; and a Fearful Certification of Destruction, in Case they Obey Not;

Holden Forth, John 3:35,36.

The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. Ver. 36. He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

Wherein are holden forth to us these five following doctrines:

1. That the Father is well satisfied with the undertakings of the Son, entered Redeemer and Surety, to pay the ransom of believers and to perfect them in holiness and salvation: "The Father loveth the Son," saith he; viz. as he standeth Mediator in our name, undertaking to perfect our redemption in all points: The Father loveth him, that is, doth heartily accept his offer to do the work, and is well pleased with him: his soul delighteth in him, and resteth upon him, and maketh him, in this his office, the "receptacle of love, and grace, and good will," to be conveyed by him to believers in him.

2. That, for fulfilling of the covenant of redemption, the Father hath given to the Son (as he standeth in the capacity of the Mediator, or as he is God incarnate, the Word made flesh) all authority in heaven and earth, all furniture of the riches of grace, and of spirit and life, with all power and ability, which the union of the divine nature with the human, or which the fulness of the Godhead dwelling substantially in his human nature, or which the indivisible all-sufficiency and omnipotency of the inseparable, every where present Trinity doth import, or the work of redemption can require: "The Father (saith he) hath given all things into the Son's hand," to wit, for accomplishing his work.

3. Great assurance of life is holden forth to all who shall heartily receive Christ, and the offer of the covenant of grace and reconciliation through him: "He that believeth on the Son (saith he) hath everlasting life;" for it is made fast unto him, 1st, In God's purpose and irrevocable decree, as the believer is a man elected to life. 2d, By effectual calling of him unto life by God, who, as he is faithful, so will he do it. 3d, By promise and everlasting covenant, sworn by God, to give the believer strong consolation in life and death, upon immutable grounds. 4th, By a pawn and investment under the great seal of the sacrament of the Lord's supper, so oft as the believer shall come to receive the symbols and pledges of life. 5th, In Christ the fountain and head of life, who is entered in possession, as attorney for believers; in whom our life is so laid up, that it cannot be taken away. 6th, By begun possession of spiritual life and regeneration, and a kingdom consisting in righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost, erected within the believer, as earnest of the full possession of everlasting life.

4. A fearful certification is given, if a man receive not the doctrine concerning righteousness and eternal life to be had by Jesus Christ: "He that believeth not the Son shall not see life," that is, not so much as understand what it meaneth.

5. He further certifieth, that if a man receive not the doctrine of the Son of God, he shall be burdened twice with the wrath of God; once, as a born rebel by nature, he shall bear the curse of the law, or the covenant of works; and next, he shall endure a greater condemnation, in respect that light being come into the world, and offered to him, he hath rejected it, and loveth darkness rather than light: and this double wrath shall be fastened and fixed immovably upon him, so long as he remaineth in the condition of misbelief: "The wrath of God abideth on him," saith he. Hence may the weak believer strengthen his faith, by reasoning from this ground after this manner: "Whosoever believeth the doctrine delivered by the Son of God, and findeth himself partly drawn powerfully to believe in him, by the sight of life in him, and partly driven, by the fear of God's wrath, to adhere unto him, may be sure of right and interest to life eternal through him:

But sinful and unworthy I (may the weak believer say) do believe the doctrine delivered by the Son of God, and do feel myself partly drawn powerfully to believe in him, by the sight of life in him, and partly driven, by the fear of God's wrath, to adhere unto him: Therefore I may be sure of my right and interest unto eternal life through him. 


[1]The Holy Bible : English Standard Version, Ac 17:22-31. Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 2001.

[2] Vol. 1: Meditations on the Glory of Christ, Part II. Chap. 1.

[3] Vol. 9: Posthumous Sermons, Part II.  Sermon 2   cf., ibid., “Now, ‘as I live, saith the Lord,’ I would not the death of a sinner,” Ezekiel 33:11.Methinks this should put an end to all strife. We have his promise and oath, Hebrews 6:18, and what would we have more? He is of an infinite loving and tender nature; he entreats us to come to him, and swears we shall not suffer by our so doing. Innumerable other instances of the like kind might be given, to evidence the actings of God towards us to be suitable to his name and nature, before insisted on.

[4] For a full description of Dr. Lloyd-Jones evangelistic ministry see Iain H. Murray, Chapter 16, “Evangelism” of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: The Fight of Faith 1936-1981, The Banner of Truth Trust (Edinburgh, 1990) 323-344.  On this particular point see the more succinct argument in Iain H. Murray’s introduction to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Old Testament Evangelistic Sermons, The Banner of Truth Trust (Edinburgh, 1995) xi-xiii.  “Lloyd-Jones believed, all all evangelists have believed, that there ought to be a distinct difference in the approach of the preacher when he is speaking to the unconverted.”

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