Paul's Passing Thoughts

Practical Gospel Strategies

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on September 21, 2018

The following is taken from the transcript of Andy Young’s fourth session at the 2018 TANC Conference for Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny.


 

TANC ministries has pretty much established the argument that the Protestant gospel is false; that it teaches a progressive justification; that it is based on a faulty understanding of the law. So the question that remains is, what do we do about it? How do we get this message to the people who need to hear it? How do we persuade them? So I want to look at some of the strategies that the apostles used in the NT, and we’ll look mainly at the book of Acts. But then I want us to consider, can we adapt those strategies and apply them to a way we can reach others with the true gospel?

 

Ethiopian Eunuch

And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Isaiah, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” ~ Acts 8:26-37

Here is the point. Put aside for a moment the divine intervention involved in this situation. This man was reading out loud from the book of Isaiah, and Philip seized upon the opportunity. He didn’t let this opportunity get away from him. And as a result, the eunuch was open to hearing what Philip had to say.

Now certainly, we are not going to have encounters like this today. God isn’t speaking to us saying, go here, go there, talk to this person, talk to that person. But we need to always be aware. We really need to be tuned in to what people are telling us, because we never know what is going to come up in conversations we have with people, and it just my give us a perfect opportunity to share the gospel with someone.

 

Cornelius

“There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion…a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius…send men to Joppa, and call for…Peter

“…While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them…Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius…And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him…And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together.” ~ Acts 10

God’s method for saving people is hearing the gospel.  Before people can believe it they need to hear it.  In this situation, Peter was responding to a specific invitation.  When he got there, it wasn’t just Cornelius, it was all of his friends and family, and possibly many of the soldiers who were under his command.  This example from Acts 10 perfectly illustrates what Paul was stating in Romans:  faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.  How shall they believe in what they haven’t heard?  How shall they hear unless someone preaches?  And how shall someone preach unless he is sent?  Evangelism is an individual mandate.  We are ALL called to preach the truth of the gospel.  We must not outsource it to someone else to do it for us.

 

Philippian Jailer

“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jsus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.” ~ Acts 16:25-32

The jailer knew there was something different about Paul and Silas.  He personally witnessed the way they conducted themselves in the jail.  As a result, he concluded that these men had answers to life’s questions.  Should not the same be said of us?  Do we conduct our lives in such a way so that people see a difference in us?  Do people come to us seeking the answers to life’s questions?

 

The Apostle Paul’s MO

But when [Paul and Barnabas] departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience…And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” ~ Acts 13:14-45

“And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures…And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.” ~ Acts 17:2-4

And we could find many examples of this, but this is how Paul operated, and it’s interesting to see how he did this. He always went to the Jews first. He confronted the traditional religious orthodoxy head on at the very place it was being taught. He went to the synagogue and reasoned with them. And what was the result? Many people heard his arguments and were persuaded. They wanted him to come back and tell them more.

And you can be sure that didn’t go over very well with the religious leadership. They were envious. And I don’t think it was so much the teaching itself. I think it was simply the fact that Paul and Barnabas were challenging their position. It was a challenge to their authority and to their prestige. It basically rendered the religious leaders useless.

People understand intuitively that man is good. Most people you come across – and I’m talking unsaved people here because church people have been conditioned to believe otherwise – recognize that, yeah I do some bad things every now and then, but for the most part I’m a good person. I haven’t killed anyone. I try to treat people right. I try to treat people the way I want to be treated. I don’t steal from anyone. I am basically a good person.

This is actually the correct metaphysical premise. Now there are two ways to understand “good”. Good can be a value judgment which is a function of ethics. And as we have learned from John Immel, ethics is a philosophical discipline that is further down in the progression. We don’t get to ethical conclusions until we first establish a metaphysical premise. So in terms of metaphysics, to say that man is “good” speaks to his existential goodness. We are saying that his existence is good. Now that may still seem like a value judgment, but you have to think in terms of what man is as a state of being. As individuals, man has a right to his existence because of who he is in and of himself. This was how God created man, and this was why God stated in Genesis that man is good. He functions according to how he was designed, that is to exist, to be, to live.

Like I said, people know this, so it should not be surprising to discover that this innate knowledge of our own existential goodness is consistent with what the Bible says. Now Sin came along and wrecked everything, and because God made man good, God still recognized man’s value and came to an ethical conclusion that man was worth redeeming.

The problem is then that people go to church and they become brainwashed to think otherwise. What are we taught in church? Man is not good, he is totally depraved. This is not a value judgment. This is an assessment of his existence. Man is depravity. He is fundamentally flawed at some basic level. And because of his depravity he can’t even recognize his depravity. And because of that fundamental flaw, he can’t even know that he needs God. It’s not, he doesn’t know, it’s he CAN’T know. And church teaches us that this is the reason why no man will seek after God on his own.

This is supposed to be the good news that we are supposed to take to a lost world. Please tell me how this is good news? You go to a lost person and you start telling him he’s totally depraved and he’s going to hell because he has no ability to choose God. The average person is going to reject that. They are going to immediately tune you out before you get to tell them the flip side. And the ironic thing is that the flip side of your gospel coin isn’t any better because you’ve got that part wrong too. Protestants can’t even get a primary Bible doctrine like justification correct, so how can we expect them to get anything else right?

The protestant gospel is one of control. It is simply trying to convince people to trade one form of tyranny for another. It is like politicians who make all kinds of promises if you will just vote for him rather than the other guy. In reality the message is simply, vote for me because my tyranny is better than his tyranny. The same is true of the protestant gospel. It is simply offering another form of tyranny under the pretense of a promise of salvation.

I submit that people know this and this is why they reject it. Such a gospel creates a cognitive dissonance in the mind of the hearer that most reject because it does not reconcile with what they intuitively know to be true about reality.

So what IS the gospel? Suppose someone comes up to you and asks you how to be saved? Now that is going to be a very unlikely scenario. It is rare that someone will just ask you out the blue about salvation. Most often we will encounter a situation with someone with whom we already have some kind of relationship. It may be a relative, an unsaved friend, a co-worker, a customer or client. There will be opportunities that come up in often the most mundane of conversations, so you have to keep your eyes open for those opportunities. What points must our gospel message include?

1. They have to understand the state of unregenerate man (that he is under law and therefore under condemnation)

Now I want you to notice something. We are not telling him that he is totally depraved. We are not telling him he is a dirty, filthy, rotten, no good sinner. That is not reality. The reality is exactly this: all men are born under law. The problem is not sin. The problem is what is your relationship to the law?

This is a huge distinction. See this is something people can understand. People know they are good, but they also know they mess up. And the problem is not that people don’t do enough good. The problem isn’t even that people do too much bad. It’s not a matter of weighing bad against good. It is a matter of what is your relationship to the law. If you are under law, no matter how good you are, if you have transgressed the law (which every person has at some point in their lives) you are under condemnation. This is the reality.

Incidentally, this is the reason for the guilt they may be experiencing, as well as the conviction of the Holy Spirit, which is provoking them to seek salvation.

2. They have to understand who God is.

3. They have to understand that God will judge all those who are under law.

Once again, this is the reality of the problem, being under law and being subject to condemnation. So then what is the solution? Is it finding a way to keep the law perfectly? No. It is this:

4. They have to understand that God made a way for man to get out from under law and escape condemnation (judgment)

This is the critical distinction between the protestant false gospel and the true Biblical gospel. The solution is not more law. Righteousness does not come by the law. Righteousness comes by ending the law. Where there is no law there is no sin. The protestant solution is more law. Jesus has to keep the law for us so that we can be declared righteous. The Bible says, no, I’m going to end the law by making you a completely new creature who is God’s literal offspring who cannot be condemned because you are not under that law of sin and death.

I will never forget the first year I came here for my first TANC conference. This would have been 2014. Susan’s son, Phillip, was helping out with A/V that year. I went with Paul and Phillip to Radio Shack to get some A/V cables.  Paul was wearing his TANC shirt, and the young man behind the counter asked what “TANC” meant.  Paul went on to give a brief explanation, but he brought up this distinction about one’s relationship to the law.  I will never forget the young man’s response.  He said, “You know, I’ve never heard anybody explain it that way before!”  And the reason is because church orthodoxy does not have an explanation that resonates with people like the true gospel does.

What else must people understand about the gospel?

5. They have to understand that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to end the law and end condemnation.

6. They have to understand that a person who believes in Jesus (that He is God’s Son and died to end the law) is born again (“born from above”, “born of the Spirit”, “Born of the Father”).

7. They have to understand that one who is born again is righteous as a state of being because he is now the literal offspring of God the Father.

8. They have to understand that one who is born again is righteous because the law has been ended for him and he is no longer under condemnation. There is no judgment for him

9. They have to understand (and this is most important) that a person who is God’s child no longer lives a lifestyle like he used to. A person who is God’s child has a love for the law and a desire to live accordingly.

I add that last point in because the biggest pushback I get about this – and it’s usually from church people – is, “Oh, so you’re saying that I can be born again and live anyway I want to?” This is indicative of “under law” thinking which focuses on condemnation and not love.  The apostle Paul even makes this same rhetorical point in Romans. He asks should we continue in sin that grace may about? God forbid! How can anyone who has been freed from sin continue to live in it? Implicit in the Gospel is the reality that such a person can no longer continue doing the things they were doing. This is not because it is necessary to maintain salvation but because such behavior would not be congruent with one who is no longer a slave to sin but a slave to righteousness.

This is something else that people know intuitively. People know that when you are offering them salvation that it requires a real change in who they are, and this is another major reason why people reject the gospel. The may want eternal life, but a the same time they don’t want to change who they are or give up what they have.

There may be many reasons for this. They may just simply enjoy their sin too much, but often times, the practical realities of life makes such a change difficult for them. Let me give you some hard examples. Suppose you are dealing with a stripper or a prostitute? Do you think they realize that being born again means giving up that profession? And let’s not kid ourselves, strippers make really good money. Now you are talking about asking someone to forego not just that lifestyle but also their source of income. How are they going to live? This is a real life issue here.

Let me give you a real hard example, and for some of us this is going to hit home because we may have older children where this is the case. But in the case of a young person who hears the gospel, and now they come to the realization, “Oh, that means I can’t be living with my boyfriend.”  “I shouldn’t be living with my girlfriend anymore.” So now they have a tough decision. Do I make this relationship right? Do I get married? What if I’m not ready to get married? Do I need to end this relationship? How do I live on my own? I can’t afford that. Where do I go?

What about someone who is homosexual? And folks lets make sure we understand this. This is really the same issue. When it comes right down to it, homosexuality is no different than a man living with a woman out of wedlock. It is a sexual sin. We have this tendency to regard an out-of-wedlock heterosexual relationship to be a little more acceptable, but the reality is that it is still a sexual sin. But the issue for someone leading a homosexual lifestyle is still the same. “I can no longer continue my relationship with this person. But I really care for this person.” Or,  “What if I am dependent on them? I can’t afford to be on my own. Where do I go?” Maybe their family has forsaken them because of this lifestyle.

These are the real costs of accepting the free gift of salvation, and these are legitimate reasons why people don’t want it.

This is where I think the truth of the book of James hits home. This is where we as believers need to step in and exercise our faith. I think we need to think ahead as to how we can step in and provide a temporary solution for people such as this so that they can end this lifestyle and provide for their means until they can get back on their feet again; so there can be no excuse for them not to accept God’s gift of eternal life; so they can become a child of God and live a Godly life with no worries. This is, as James says, “pure religion and undefiled before God.”

These are the practical realities of how we give the gospel to those who are unchurched. And frankly I think our task there is much easier because you are dealing with people who have not yet bought into the alternate reality propagated by church orthodoxy.

The challenge really is how do we persuade those who are slaves of the church- those who have become indoctrinated to this alternate reality?

Now this is going to seem really radical, but why can’t we simply follow the apostle Paul’s MO? Why can’t we visit a random church on any given Sunday? I would suggest going to the adult Sunday school class because this is going to be the best opportunity to have a discussion.

Well, assuming you are not immediately escorted off the premises by the temple police, someone is going to get curious about what you have to say.  So be ready.  Have some way for that person to contact you.  Have some business cards made up with your contact information on it, and give them your card.  Understand, this will most likely be the ONLY opportunity you have with this person otherwise, because you can be sure you won’t be welcome back to that place again.

Another solution is to have a Bible study in your home and invite your church friends.

As far as reaching the lost, look for opportunities wherever they might be.  You can even initiate opportunities if you are looking for them, even in mundane conversations.  Topics about current events are great springboards for conversations about philosophy and Biblical reality.

But probably the most effective way you are going to reach someone with the gospel is to simply model your life.  It will be noticed in how you act and speak.  It will be noticed in how you show love to others.  I close this article with an exhortation from the apostle Peter:

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” ~ 1 Peter 2:9-12

~ Andy

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: