Selfishness as Sin 5

While I am not dealing directly with the quote by Emmons as I have been, for the next few posts under this heading I will be dealing with an article published in Baptist Press and other SBC magazines. It is a very clear example of what happens when you push evangelism without dealing with the sinfulness of souls and without taking the character of God into account. It was written by Ronnie Floyd who is president of the Southern Baptist Convention and a pastor in northwest Arkansas.—what-happened-to-evangelism-in-the-sbc

What happened to evangelism in the Southern Baptist Convention? It was our commitment to evangelism in the past that set us apart from all other denominations. The events and experiences churches offered to their community were done with the specific intent of winning others to faith in Christ. What happened? Where did this go?

I can remember when there was a proven record of evangelism regarding pastors and evangelists who were invited to bring the keynote message in the local association, or speak at an evangelism conference of a state convention, or preach the national Pastors’ Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention, or preach at the Southern Baptist Convention. The only pastors considered led a strong evangelistic church and had a reputation for baptizing great numbers of people for Christ in proportion to their community and their opportunity. I can remember when nominations for offices of any kind in Southern Baptist life were not even considered if you were not a part of a strongly evangelistic church. Is it still like this today? I really cannot answer all of these questions, but I can surely answer some of them. Quite honestly, I am not impressed by how many books a pastor sells, how many Twitter followers he may have, at how many conferences he speaks, how great of a preacher he is, or how much his church does around the world if he pastors or is associated with a church that has a lame commitment to evangelizing and baptizing lost people and reaching his own community with the Gospel of Christ.

What Floyd describes as how things used to be is precisely why the SBC is in a terrible state now. By a terrible state I mean that the buildings are full of unbelievers who were not taught the biblical nature of sin and of the biblical nature of the new birth. He wants speakers and pastors who are going to speak at anything to be successful evangelists. Interesting, to say the least, but by a successful evangelist he evidently means one that has a proven record for evangelism which includes baptizing great numbers of people. Nothing seems to matter if a man has a “lame commitment to evangelizing and baptizing lost people.” While it is clear what Floyd intended to say, the irony is that most likely that is what is going on in many places. Lost people are being evangelized, but with a non-biblical message and as such they remain lost. Lost people are being baptized and as such they are wet unbelievers.

The New Testament does not know anything of what Floyd is describing. Pastors are told to preach the Word. The Great Commission is to make disciples instead of doing all in evangelism. There may be a reason that Jesus commanded His people to make disciples instead of being given to evangelistic zeal all of the time. When a person is focused on evangelism as Floyd seems to, the focus is on getting people to make decisions and getting them under the water. That way these people can be counted. However, when the focus is on discipleship, and that in a biblical way, true evangelism happens and while the numbers one can turn in are not as great there are far fewer people deceived. It is also most likely the case that more people are actually converted.

Pastors should be men of God and are to teach and preach Christ crucified. Pastors are to preach and teach in a way where people behold the glory of God in Christ. There are reasons for preaching Christ and the Gospel of Christ that are for reasons other than evangelism. If pastors focus on evangelism (and that a false evangelism) then they will not fulfill their calling and if they have true believers in the congregation those people will starve. Jesus told Peter that if he (Peter) loved Him (Jesus) then he should feed the sheep. If pastors are not feeding the sheep, then perhaps they don’t love Christ. This is not a small matter, but instead it strikes at the heart of the churches and of the biblical Gospel. Where are pastors who preach to the glory of God? Where are pastors who dive deeply into the great truths of Christ and Him crucified? Where are the pastors who long for their people to drink deeply at the wells of truth? Where are the pastors who preach with the goal that their people will love God? These are biblical things that cannot be done if evangelism is the goal, especially a shallow form of Arminian evangelism which is no true evangelism at all. Where are the pastors who will dive deeply into the biblical teaching of sin so that sinners may see who they really are and how helpless they are in the sovereign hand of God? Where are the pastors who teach sinners that God must give them a new heart and that they must look to Him to do so? Those are the pastors who are practicing true evangelism regardless of whether they are turned in to a denominational leader or not.

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