What does Jesus evangelism look like? The corporate “formula” for Jesus was to preach about the Kingdom of Heaven (liberation from the Kingdom of the devil, death, law and sin). What was the “formula” for Jesus to the individual? Want to take a look? Please read with caution it may stretch your understanding.
In most western church circles today the formula is the “Romans road” or “the way of the master.” The intent of this technique or formula is to show someone they are a sinner and God is angry their sin. You explain that God is so put off and the sin is so offensive to him that He must kill you. The claim is there is a death sentence for you because you sin. This technique uses the Ten Commandments as a framework to ask questions about people’s lives like “have you ever lied?” or “have you ever taken something that isn’t yours?” Then the logical argument is you have broken God’s rules so you must be punished and the only punishment worthy of your crime is death. Basically that is the formula. Jesus didn’t do that. He would never do that. It is all based on a Satisfaction Doctrine that isn’t in the Bible but was conceived by men. Before you get too upset with me please read on.
This is why it is so important to know God. If you just know about Him based on stories, teaching and human wisdom, a logical argument becomes a doctrine or dogma. When this becomes a paradigm then fortresses have been built around fallen human understanding which keep out the truth of God. Imagine Adam and Eve running for the bushes in shame and building a castle with a moat deep in the darkness of a broken nature. Now when God comes calling, bearing gifts of clothing, they don’t open the door. Actually they have built such a protective shield based on fear that they send a sentry to meet this strange deity instead of hearing Him themselves. This is our fallen human condition. Add a healthy dose of man-made religion fueled by the fusion reaction of fear and fortresses become planets. Add a monumental dose of deception and God finds Himself on another planet with the vastness of veils separating the two. Stoke this roaring furnace of human folly with the poker of the “enlightenment of man” and now you need warp drive to travel the spatial chasm. Put the Holy Spirit in an Apostle power-pouch and watch mankind react to abandonment with more law and religion and regulations and fear and doubt and condemnation to get the desired behavior. It is the death-spiral of the fallen human condition. I don’t mean to be mean. I don’t doubt that God can use any season and any teaching to reveal Himself. He is that good and that powerful and that awesome. Just ask yourself how would Jesus present the Gospel to people today?
The answer is “no differently than He did when He walked the Earth.” The people of that time were dealing with the same issues we are today. For the “chosen ones” religion had become their god. For the “informed” they had dedicated themselves to Law not God. For those who understood the “workings of God” they had suppressed the “sinners” and condemned any race, religion, person, practice or viewpoint that was contrary to their privileged popular opinion. Sin wasn’t the problem, separation was. Infractions weren’t the issue, veils were. The people were in bondage to all the stuff of a fallen world. They chose hate over help, hurt over healing, fighting over forgiveness, judicial over joy, law over love, retribution over reconciliation, human justice over God’s justification, legal bondage over liberation, penance over passion. Jesus came to set us free from all the junk. He came to show us what it looks like for a perfect human to live from perfect love. He actually broke a bunch of rules regarding the Law of Moses. His expression towards us and God, however were a perfect execution and fulfillment of God’s Law… the law of love. The Law of Moses was intended to show what this relational love looked like but instead had become just another religion of its own with worshipers in tow. So when Jesus approached someone He saw their fallen nature in bondage to sin, death and the devil (and the law). He ministered with and from love. He came to liberate us from all that bondage. The Bible calls it salvation. He healed to set them free from sickness. He showed compassion when they needed to be set free from rejection. He touched the untouchable. He loved the un-lovable. He forgave the unforgivable. He redeemed the condemned. He revealed His perfect liberation plan to a fallen human race bound to hopelessness.
OK I can hear you alarms going off right now. “What if they are indifferent to God?” Jesus said He came for the sick not for the ones who are well. So if you must “press for a decision” I suggest a different “Romans Road.” Try “the way of Jesus” as a technique. If you encounter indifference I understand your perplexed state. As a born-again child of God we know how awesome He really is. We want others to experience and encounter His love for them. We want them to be “saved” from their fallen nature. We want them to know how much they are loved. We want to see them set free from all the junk. We want them to “see” Jesus, meet Jesus, follow Jesus, fall in love with Jesus and surrender to the salvation of Jesus. Am I right? Isn’t that what your heart song really is? I know you may have heard something different or tried something different or were even taught something different. I know you may be scratching your head and pulling your hair right now. It is OK. That is Jesus salvation working on us. He is freeing us from our junk which includes a bunch of “angry God”, penance-based understanding. Welcome to salvation.
Address indifference with the right question, “are you sick?” It isn’t a matter of sin. Sin is a product of a fallen nature. When we react to oppression we defend ourselves and sometimes violently. That is a sin. It is “falling short” of what God intended. Jesus said curses spoken in anger are murder. Jesus would react differently. His love is so powerful that is disarms the oppressor and heals the oppressed. The questions for the “indifferent individual” should reveal their brokenness. If they know they are broken (like we all are) then they will likely want a repair. Jesus brings the repairs. He is the great physician. He heals and fixes all the stuff. Again the Bible calls that salvation. In all cases seek “wisdom” and “knowledge” from the Holy Spirit. Jesus did that at the Samaritan well. He knew the woman’s pain. He spoke into her pain. He liberated her from her pain by revealing Himself. If you don’t “hear from Holy Spirit” right away just start a conversation. Ask your friend (or acquaintance) some simple questions. I bet you quickly uncover hurts and hang-ups. You will see oppression and offense. You will hear un-forgiveness and anger. Then you can speak into those issues. You can offer freedom from all that junk. His name is Jesus. Then it is time for introductions. Your wisdom won’t set them free. His touch will. You will have answers about a good and loving God but in the end they need to meet Him. That is Jesus evangelism.
I can see this post going long so in part 2 I will break down verse by verse the “Romans Road” and hopefully reveal how Jesus intended us to evangelize. Listen if you are a born-again believer and follower of Jesus, your heart burns for “the lost.” Realize it isn’t a burning to KEEP people from going to hell. It is a furnace of furious and fiery passion to GET people out of hell and into the Kingdom of Heaven. Once you have tasted and seen it is good there is no going back. Once you have sampled the freedom of salvation you will never turn back to a fallen way of relating with anyone. When you slip back into a reflex or “flesh” moment, you immediately see the death you have sown and are compelled to bring resurrection life back into the situation. You must let Jesus fix it. This becomes your new paradigm and that Kingdom shift is what you are burning to share.
Condemning a person into fear of an angry God to get them to say a prayer is ludicrous. It plants a seed of doubt that will take root and grow into a huge tree of bitterness and guilt. That is not Jesus evangelism. That makes church-going, get-out-of-hell card-carrying members, not saved children of God. Jesus saves us from our fallen nature. His love sets us free. His ways are different from the way of a fallen human. That is why it stretches you and forces you to put trust in Him. That is called faith. Stay tuned for more.
Liberation is Jesus evangelism. He sets us free indeed!