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Thursday, April 17, 2008

evangelism in the new testament

Martin LaBar of the Sun and Shield blog has posted a chart with examples of personal evangelism in the New Testament, along with a blog post of commentary on the chart.

Among the things Martin notes are: there is no set pattern, all the conversations are with strangers, and none of the conversations begin with a warning about sin, or with talk about God's love.

One thing that he doesn't note, but stuck out to me was that in the majority of these cases, the other person initiated or invited the conversation. Nicodemas came to Jesus; the Ethiopian eunuch asked for guidance; Cornelius sent for Peter because of a vision; the jailer asked Paul and Silas how he could be saved.

Does anything else strike you about these examples of evangelism? What about other examples from the New Testament?

To the thief on the cross, Jesus presented the good news in the most succinct version possible, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise." This was preceded by perhaps the most succinct "sinner's prayer" possible, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom."

To Zacchaeus, Jesus took a very passive approach to evangelism, simply inviting himself to dinner and letting Zacchaeus do all the talking. Jesus didn't even mention the word salvation until after Zacchaeus had committed to turning his life around.

Despite the fact that Jesus often waited for people to come to him before he tried to evangelize (and despite the fact that he was Jesus), he was not always successful. The rich young man went away grieving, unable to commit to what Jesus asked of him.

Jesus had a chance to share the gospel with Pilate, too, but couldn't get a better response than a noncommittal "What is truth?"

Paul tried to share his testimony with the governer Felix, but all Felix was interested in was a bribe. Later, Paul tried to evangelize King Agrippa (son of Herod Agrippa) who was not impressed:

Agrippa said to Paul, "Are you so quickly persuading me to become a Christian?" Paul replied, "Whether quickly or not, I pray to God that not only you but also all who are listening to me today might become such as I am—except for these chains."

If anything, I think these additional examples give us even less of a clear pattern. Any further thoughts?

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At 4/18/2008 4:23 AM, Blogger Martin LaBar said...

Thanks for the mention. God apparently treats us as individuals.

At 4/18/2008 3:31 PM, Blogger Jacob said...

I've noticed a strong correlation between evangelism and miracles in the New Testament.

Naturally, many people believe in Jesus as a result of his miracles, starting with Nathaniel. And, of course, his followers (most famously Thomas) only really believe after seeing him resurrected.

Every time Jesus sends out his disciples to evangelize, they are given miraculous powers (e.g. Lk 9 (also in Mt 10 and Mk 6) and 10).

The Great Commission is tied explicitly to miraculous power (see also Mt 28, and for what it's worth, Mk 16).

The great majority of conversions in Acts come as a result of miracles. People are also sent to evangelize miraculously (e.g. Acts 8), and conversions are frequently confirmed by visible, dramatic displays of the Spirit (e.g. Acts 10).

Paul is both converted and commissioned by a miraculous event, and mentions the miraculous confirmation of his message in various Epistles (e.g. Rom 15, 1 Cor 4, Gal 3).

So if you're biblical method of evangelism, I'd say that's it. I wonder why we don't do this anymore?

At 4/19/2008 12:26 AM, Blogger Steve Hayes said...

Paul on Mars Hill? Or in the synagogues on his first missiopnary journey?


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