Thursday, April 09, 2009

Share Your Faith or Preach Jesus?

I don’t like to be picky about words and phrases, but lately I have come to deplore the terms, “share your faith” and “outreach.” I cannot find any Biblical reason to use them and can think of many ways in which they are unhelpful.

First off, read through the book of Acts some day and see how many times words like preach, teach and proclaim are used in reference to the Gospel. There is a reason for that. The Gospel is news, but it is also a message to be obeyed. When we say we are going to “share our faith” it sounds like a) it is one faith among many that we want others to appreciate and b) that it is a uniquely personal religion (“my” faith). True Christianity is neither one among equals nor something that gets to be defined by the user. And the message of the Gospel, since it is both correct and intrinsically demands a response, must therefore be proclaimed... not just shared like a cup of tea.

Secondly, I don’t even know what “outreach” is supposed to mean? If it means, “reach out to people,” well, okay. But that is not evangelism. And I fear that our “reaching out” with gifts and services may start to feel like we are meeting our evangelistic obligation.

So, Resurrection Sunday is here! (Do you even know what the actual word “Easter” means?) And that makes a great time to preach Jesus.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Here is another section of Charles Wesley's poetic eulogy of George Whitefield. You can read part one here.

Yet soon he bows before the will divine
Clearly demonstrating its own design,
Called by a prelate good, no more delays
T’ accept with awe the consecrating grace,
And offers up, through the Redeemer’s blood, 120
His body, spirit, soul, a sacrifice to God.
He now begins, from every weight set free,
To make full trial of his ministry,
Breaks forth on every side, and runs, and flies,
Like kindling flames that from the stubble rise,
Where’er the ministerial Spirit leads,
From house to house the heavenly fire he spreads,
Ranges through all the city-lanes and streets,
And seizes every prodigal he meets.
Who shall the will and work divine oppose? 130
His strength with his increasing labour grows:
Workman and work th’ Almighty hath prepared,
And sent of God, the servant must be heard,
Rush through the opening door, on sinners call,
Proclaim the truth, and offer Christ to all.
“Sound an alarm, the gospel-trumpet blow,
Let all their time of visitation know;
The Saviour comes! (You hear his herald cry)
Go forth and meet the friend of sinners nigh!”
Roused from the sleep of death, a countless crowd, 140
(Whose hearts like trees before the wind are bowed,
As a thick cloud, that darkens all the sky,
As flocking doves, that to their windows fly,)
Press to the hallowed courts, with eager strife,
Catch the convincing word, and hear for life.
Parties and sects their endless feuds forget
And fall, and tremble at the preacher’s feet,
Pricked at the heart, with one consent inquire
What must we do t’ escape the never-dying fire?
Made apt to teach he points them out the way, 150
And willing multitudes the truth obey;
He lets his light on all impartial shine,
And strenuously asserts the birth divine;
The Spirit freely given to all who claim
That promised Comforter in Jesus’ name;
The pardon bought so dear, by grace bestowed,
Received through faith in the atoning blood.
While yet he speaks, the Lord himself comes down,
Applies and proves the gracious word his own,
The Holy Ghost to thirsty souls imparts, 160
And writes forgiveness on the broken hearts.
But lo! An ampler field appears in view,
And calls his champion forth to conquests new:
Nor toils, nor dangers can his zeal repress,
Nor crowds detain him by his own success:
In vain his children tempt him to delay,
With prayers and tears invite his longer stay,
Or ask, as sharers of his weal or woe,
To earth’s remotest bounds with him to go:
He leaves them all behind, at Jesus’ word, 170
He finds them all again in his beloved Lord.
See, where he flies! As if by heaven designed,
T’ awake and draw our whole apostate kind!
He takes the eagle’s with the morning’s wings,
To other worlds the great salvation brings,
As sent, with joyful news of sins forgiven,
To every ransomed soul on this side heaven!
With ready mind th’ Americans receive
Their angel-friend, and his report believe,
So soon the servant’s heavenly call they find, 180
So soon they hear the Master’s feet behind:
He comes—to wound, and heal! At his descent
The mountains flow, the rocky hearts are rent;
Numbers acknowledging their gracious day
Turn to the Lord, and cast their sins away,
And faint and sink, beneath their guilty load,
Into the arms of a forgiving God.
His Son revealed, they now exult to know,
And after a despised Redeemer go,
In all the works prepared their faith to prove, 190
In patient hope, and fervency of love.