The New Look In Evangelism
The ladies, bless their hearts, have undergone a remarkable transformation in the last few years. A look in the family album will bear me out when I say that a lady of yesterday and one of today reminds one of the familiar "before" and "after" pictures which one sees in the magazines. Now do not be hasty ladies, this article is not a criticism of the "new look". The fact is, I am quite pleased with the "new look" in women's dress. I would not want the ladies of the church after me. It is bad enough to have some of the good brothers on my trail. This article has to do with the "new look" in evangelism, and it is new.
For many years the brethren have prided themselves in such slogans as: "We speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent"; "We call Bible things by Bible names and do Bible things the Bible way"; "We have a thus saith the Lord for every act of Christian work and worship". In our present day, however, our taste for such attitudes has become stale. The time was when we went to the New Testament for our information and instruction with reference to New Testament evangelism. Today, there is definitely a "new look" in this respect.
New Testament Evangelism
Jesus said, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:15-16). Functioning under this commission the apostles of our Lord and the early Christians "went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them". The gospel was preached in Jerusalem and Judea, then, upon the scattering of the church by the persecution that arose about Stephen, "they went everywhere preaching the word". Philip "went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ unto them". Peter and John "preached the gospel in many of the villages of the Samaritans". Saul was converted. Peter preached to the Gentile Cornelius and his house. Teachers from Jerusalem went as far as Antioch "preaching the word". Paul and Barnabas went out from the church in Antioch Into Asia Minor and "preached the word of God". Paul and Silas went into Europe and "spake unto them the word of the Lord". Finally, in one generation "the gospel was preached to every creature under heaven". New Testament churches sprang up all over the civilized earth and prospered to such an extent as to be able to shake the very foundations of Imperial Rome. All of this was done by gospel preachers preaching the New Testament gospel under the direction and oversight of one organization, the local church. This was and is the Lord's way, the New Testament way, the Gospel way.
Now it is different. There is a "new look" in evangelism. The great commission has been reconstructed to say, "Go into all the world and build orphan homes, colleges, and hospitals and operate benevolent enterprises of colossal proportions so that we may have an opportunity to preach unto men the gospel of Christ". In New Testament times, the above mentioned items have appeared in the wake of Christianity. They have been the logical fruits of the Christian influence, but nowhere in the inspired record do we find an intimation of such in the propagation of the gospel of Christ in lands where Christ had not been named. It seems that some of our brethren see Christianity only through an institutional peephole.
But says one, "You cannot preach the gospel to the cold, the hungry, and the naked without first feeding, warming, and clothing them." Is it possible that in the perilous days that saw the establishment of the church of our Lord that there were none who were cold, hungry, or naked? History surely reveals that the earth teemed with such people. The whole world lay to a large degree in wretchedness beneath the oppressive heel of Rome. Poverty was rampant in the land. Slavery held sway as an established and even honorable institution. Surely the misery of the masses of that day was no less than the misery of the conquered peoples of our day. The church guided directly by God's Spirit did not go via the route of institutionalism to evangelize the world that then was, hence why should it be necessary for it to travel that road today? Man's ways have never been as good as God's ways. If the plain preaching of the gospel of Christ made Christians in Paul's day and established New Testament churches without the building and operation of colleges, hospitals, orphan homes, and benevolent enterprises in "mission" fields, will it not accomplish the same results today? If not, why not? Ah, my brethren, it was never in Paul's day with reference to evangelism as it is today. It is too bad that Paul and the other apostles did not realize how much more effective it would have been first to establish colleges, hospitals, orphan homes, and benevolent enterprises of preaching the gospel. Yes, I suppose if they had thought of it and tried it, they would still be trying to preach the gospel to their generation instead of getting it done as they did in one generation.
Brethren, the "new look" in evangelism has a "fetching" appearance, but it would be well to take a second look at it and a good, long look at your New Testament. Let the ladies have the "new look" in their dress, but let us in religion "seek out the old paths and walk therein".