When they reject the Gospel…God is also glorified. Evangelism part 3/3
|photo credit: Chris Yarzab |
via photopin cc
Jesus was very popular, with all His miracles and feedings and casting out demons. But after He’d fed the five thousand, He shared some hard truths.
When many of his followers heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?” (John 6:60-61)
|photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc|
Was Jesus doing it wrong? They wanted to stone Him, throw Him off a cliff, and eventually they did kill Him. Many left His ministry after teaching them God's standards and His words. Did Jesus do it wrong? Should He have been less oft-putting? Watered it down so they would listen?
Jesus would have failed personal evangelism class in almost every Bible college and seminary I know. Matthew 19:16-22 describes a young man who looked like the hottest evangelistic prospect the Lord had encountered so far. He was ripe. He was eager. There was no way he would get away without receiving eternal life. But he did. Instead of getting him to make a decision, in a sense Jesus chased him off. He failed to draw the net. He failed to sign the young man up. Should we allow our ideas of evangelism to indict Jesus? I think we need to allow His example to critique contemporary evangelism. Christ's confrontation of this young man gives us much-needed insight into reaching the lost. (source)
His truths and the reaction to them should not be alien to you if you've been sharing the Gospel at all. One where the Holy Spirit is present, anyway! The truth of the Gospel always divides or angers. Paul's truths caused riots. Stephen's sermon caused him to be killed by stoning. They tried to kill Jesus many times. Christians today in Muslim nations are killed outright for their preaching. Jesus said that even families will be divided. (Matthew 10:34-36).
|photo credit: daveblume via photopin cc|
When there is a reaction, it is because people don't like their sin exposed and don't like even a discussion about it. Everyone wants to think they are good, and have a solid "moral compass." The truth of it though is that we are all evil, rotten, and bad. Only God is good. And He is SO good He sent His Son to bring us evil bad rotten people iniquity to heaven under the covering of His blood. I wish the reaction would be over that fact, where people would shout for joy.
Back to evangelism. The word of God upsets.
When we evangelize the full Gospel, beginning with sin, wrath, and Law, and ending with the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, it will seem to cause some to reject. I say seem because we don't know what is in store for that person and what work the Holy Spirit will do.
In one case of a street preacher baldly and honestly sharing the truth, one man who had heard the Gospel several times before was suddenly convicted on that day. He repented and was saved.
In other cases, like the Rich Young Ruler, he heard and rejected, and went away sorrowful because he wanted to keep his possessions (and was oblivious to his sins). (Mark 10:17-22)
God is magnified in both cases. How?
In the second case, and in all cases where a person hears the Gospel and rejects it, God is also glorified, in the future. Here is a template of future glory onto God: God called Ezekiel to proclaim His word and go to where there was rebellion and stubbornness.
"And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them." (Ezekiel 2:3-5)
When they stand before Holy God they will know He was faithful and true to His promises. He offered redemption, and in stubbornness and sin, they rejected it. His is still glorified, because He is true to His Holy name.
"Salvation is always attributed to God. A sinner's judgment is always attributed to sinner's unwillingness to believe." (source)
My job is to deliver the truth and to pray the Holy Spirit applies it to your heart. Many will not believe and will reject. Some may come to faith. It is in the hands of the Spirit. But the message that is watered down to make you feel comfortable and wonderful is not the message of the Great Commission nor is it the whole counsel of God. We deliver the message that Jesus told us to deliver, how the receiver feels about it is up to them.
Jonathan Edwards wrote of God glorifying Himself,
"But it was his design to make a true manifestation of his glory, such as should represent every attribute. If God glorified one attribute, and not another, such manifestation of his glory would be defective; and the representation would not be complete. If all God's attributes are not manifested, the glory of none of them is manifested as it is: for the divine attributes reflect glory on one another."
"Thus if God's wisdom be manifested, and not his holiness, the glory of his wisdom would not be manifested as it is; for one part of the glory of the attribute of divine wisdom is, that it is a holy wisdom. So if his holiness were manifested, and not his wisdom, the glory of his holiness would not be manifested as it is; for one thing which belongs to the glory of God's holiness is, that it is a wise holiness. So it is with respect to the attributes of mercy and justice."
God is sovereign in salvation, and whether they listen or they do not listen, God is always glorified because His attributes of justice, holiness, and mercy, and all His other attributes, are plainly manifested.
Evangelism part 1
Evangelism part 2