Evangelism Without Manipulation
Christians have something to say. They have graciously been given a gift from Almighty God…by His grace. This gift is a knowledge that is illumined by another gift…the Spirit of God Himself (Acts 2:38; 10:45). It is the work of God for one to believe in Him (Jesus), whom He (the Father) has sent (Jn 6:29). It is the Father who draws a person to the Son (Jn 6:44). It is the Son who keeps him or her for eternity (Jn 6:37; Heb 13:5).
There are some who taste the good things of God, but they fall away from the faith (Heb 6:4–6). These people receive information about who Jesus is and what He has done. They know some facts about Him. They are not recipients of the Spirit of Christ, however (Rom 8:9).
It is one thing to know some informational facts about Jesus of Nazareth, but it is quite different to report a personal knowledge of Him, derived from a living relationship with Him. Some people know some information about the President of the United States, but others know him in a personal relationship.
In this regard, it is possible that some theologians know voluminous caches of facts, without knowing the Savior, personally. They may know many facts, even believe those facts are true, without actually being found in Christ, as a member of His body.
There is a type of Christian, who buys into a type of Christianity that promotes a type of evangelism. It is a manipulative evangelism. Its objective is to get everyone, everywhere to take certain types of actions, regarding a relationship with the Savior. The key to manipulative evangelism is self-willed action on the part of individuals.
If God is the Savior and salvation is His work (Ps 3:8; Jon 2:9; Titus 2:13; Rev 19:1), then, we must reconsider manipulative evangelism. First, it is God’s predetermined plan to save a people for His own possession (1 Pet 2:9), for eternity (Acts 2:23). We need not inquire the reason for this part of God’s eternal purpose (Eph 3:11), but we can rejoice and give thanks to Him for it.
Second, His people are chosen by Him before the foundation of the world (Rom 11:5; Eph 1:4; 1 Pet 2:9). He knows each one of them by name (Rev 13:8; 17:8; 21:27). In fact, in His eternal plan, He predestined each one to be adopted into His family, as His own child (Eph 1:4–5; 1 Jn 3:1, 10).
Third, because all people are a biological product of Adam, the first man (Rom 5:12–21), there is a need to reconnaissance His chosen ones because the plight of the natural man is sin leading to death (Rom 6:23), leading to judgment (Heb 9:27), leading to just punishment for eternity (Mt 25:46; Jude 1:7; Rev 20:14–15). This is Adam’s chain of death.
Fourth, the chain of God’s salvation is for one to be predestined, then called, then justified, then glorified (Rom 8:30). God’s elect are called into Christ, by the Spirit, empowering the Gospel preacher to proclaim Christ crucified (1 Cor 1:23; 2:2, 4). The evangelist tells the Gospel story from the pages of Scripture. Without the Holy Spirit empowering that witness to Christ, no one has ears to hear the Word of life.
Fifth, if one is called to faith in Christ, then he comes by way of irresistible grace. God opens his eyes to see, his ears to hear, his mind to understand, and his heart to believe. This is done by the indwelling Spirit, who enters the soul He has chosen to make alive (Eph 2:5; Col 2:13). The Spirit goes wherever He wishes (Jn 3:1–8), always in alignment with the Father and the Son.
It is the Holy Spirit who builds the bridge between the Spirit-filled believer and the one being drawn by the Father to come to Christ. The Lord knows those who are His (2 Tim 2:19), and Jesus came on a mission to seek and to save that which was lost (Lk 19:10). That mission continues, today, by the Spirit.
Even as the Spirit of truth guides the Christian into all truth (Jn 16:13), He is also directing the believer’s steps to the place and people where His light will shine for all to see (Mt 5:16). As the saint finds himself somewhere this side of the utter most part of the earth (Acts 1:8), he acknowledges his identity without shame, a slave of Christ (Eph 6:6), saved by God’s grace (Eph 2:8–9), at the appointed time, place, and circumstances.
His testimony is not man-centered and manipulative, as in “I accepted Christ,” rather, it is magnificent, “I was blind, but now I see!” The true evangelist is one who is focused on Christ, not on man. A false preacher will position himself or herself, as a life coach, telling others what they need to do, to have favor with God. A true preacher will insist on telling others what the Father, the Son, and the Spirit have done.
Man-centered theology is the source of manipulative evangelism, often centered on John 3:16. Because the false preacher believes that faith is a work of man, he presses people to act on faith, as a necessary work to justify themselves before God’s throne of justice. In truth, faith is a product of the indwelling Spirit (Gal 5:22). Thus, everyone who believes is actually a child of God, not a prospective convert to be manipulated. Everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord is saved, already, and will be saved for eternity. He is not one that we hope will make a good decision (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21).
Friend, there is no better place for you, than sitting where the Bible is open and Christ is the subject. You are not there simply to gain knowledge of information passed down from generation to generation. Instead, it is to be like Zacchaeus or Bartimaeus, anticipating a visit from the Jesus they had heard about.
The Christians in your life have something to say. Ask about the hope within them. Be as the Greeks who came to Philip, “Sir, we would see Jesus (Jn 12:21).” May you delight in His finding you, if that is His will to do so.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 31, 2022