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Evangelism v. “Selling” the Gospel: What’s the Difference, Anyway?

July 23, 2014



  • What are typical “selling” approaches used in business?
  • How are “selling” approaches and techniques often used by:
    • Churches
    • Individual Christians
  • What is “the Gospel”?
  • What is NOT “the Gospel”? (1)
    • The therapeutic gospel redefines the nature of the fall of mankind.
    • The judgmentless gospel denies the final judgment.
    • The moralistic gospel depicts Christ’s work as merely good advice.
    • The quietist gospel identifies good news as a message of personal experience.
    • The activist gospel unites the church around many things that are not the cross.
    • The churchless gospel–neglects the role of the church in the gospel message.
  • What is the Great Commission?
  • How are the Great Commission and the Gospel related to each other?
  • What is the difference between “selling” and evangelism?
  • What is the difference between evangelism and discipleship?
  • Summary: What’s wrong with “selling” the Gospel?
  • Upcoming Lessons in This Series:
    • Why did Jesus refuse to be a “Rock Star”?
    • Why did Jesus Tell People Not to Tell after Performing Miracles? (Parts 1 & 2)
    • Conversational Evangelism, Jesus-Style (Parts 1 & 2)
    • What is the Role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism?
    • Conclusion: Toward Biblical Evangelism

1. Trevin Wax, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope (Chicago: Moody, 2011), 14-15.

Love that isn’t Lame-love

April 6, 2014

Elect exiles living the hope22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24for”All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, 25but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.  1 Peter 1:22-25 ESV

  • A “theology” (more properly, anti-theology) of lame-love (examples): Lame preaching about love, lame hymns and songs about love, cliches and catch phrases.
  • The Vertical Perspective: Why a lame-love view of God is false and dangerous (Matthew 18:6; 2 Peter 2):
      • The Horizontal Perspective: Why is a lame-love view toward others false and dangerous (2 Timothy 4:3-4)?


Living the Hope … with Fear

March 22, 2014

Elect exiles living the hope17 And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:17-21 ESV

Examples of a too-small god? 

From the JB Philips classic, Your God is Too Small (1952):

  • Resident Policeman
  • Parental Hangover
  • Grand Old Man
  • Meek-and-Mild
  • Absolute Perfection
  • Heavenly Bosom
  • God-in-a-Box
  • Managing Director
  • Second-hand God
  • Perennial Grievance
  • Pale Galilean

What does it mean to “Conduct yourself in (or with) fear” (1 Peter 1:17 ESV)?

  • If you pray to a Father who judges men by their actions without the slightest favouritism, then you should spend the time of your stay here on earth with reverent fear. PHILLIPS
  • And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear. KJV
  • Since you call on a Father who judges each person’s work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. NIV
  • If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay on earth. NASB

Four Key Words (1 Peter 1:13-21)

  • Sober: nēphō [G3525] sober in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, circumspect
  • Holy: hagios [G40] Set apart; pure; properly revered as having been set apart
  • Fear: phobos [G5401] fear, terror, and also, respect/respectfulness
  • Ransomed: lytroō [G3084] Redeemed by payment; liberated

Compare and match these words to: both Mark 12:30 and Luke 10:27

  • Heart
  • Soul/Spirit
  • Mind
  • Strength

Of these four, which is the most challenging? Which spiritual disciplines (prayer, confession, Bible study, fellowship with other Christians, worship, etc.) address most closely each of the these?

  • Heart
  • Soul/Spirit
  • Mind
  • Strength

Re-evangelizing ourselves:Re-evangelizing Ourselves


February 15, 2014

ee_Living_the_hope1 PeterLesson 11: Hope-fully

preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set
your hope fully on the grace that will
be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14As
obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions
of your former ignorance, 15but as he who called
you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16since
it is
written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” 17And
if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according
to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout
the time of your exile,
         1 Peter

1.        Last Week: Gearing Up (Exodus 12:11; Proverbs 31:17; Ephesians 6:14)

2.        Being sober-minded (“keep sober in spirit”): G3525, nēphō

           a.        1 Peter 4:7, 5:8                                                                                                                         

           b.        Luke 21:34-35                                                                                                                         

           c.        Romans 12:2                                                                                                                            

           d.        Romans 13:13                                                                                                                         

           e.        1 Thessalonians 5:6-8 

           f.        Matthew 6:33                                                                                                                           

           g.        2 Timothy 2:3-5                                                                                                                       

           h.        2 Timothy 4:5                                                                                                                          

           i.        Hebrews 12:1                                                                                                                           

           j.        Colossians 3:2-4                                                                                                                      

3.        The opposite of sober-minded (1 Peter 4:3-4)                                                                                    

4.        Summing up “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded”                                        

5.        Applying “preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded”                                             

6.        Holiness versus Obedience

           a.        Are all believers obedient children?                                                                                        

           b.        Is being holy in our conduct different than being obedient?                                                   

           c.        What, then, is “holiness”?                                                                                                        

7.        Saved from and to

           a.        Saved from:                                                                                                                             

           b.        Saved to:                                                                                                                                  

8.        The object of our hope

           a.        Defined: 1 Peter 1:9-10                                                                                                           

           b.        Timed: 1 Peter 1:5, 7, 13                                                                                                         

           c.        Explained: Titus 2:11-14                                                                                                         

           d.        Quantified: “Fully” G5049, teleiōs                                                                                          

 Christ with me, Christ
before me, Christ behind me,

 Christ in me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

 Christ on my
right, Christ on my left,

 Christ when I lie

 Christ when I sit

 Christ when I
 Christ in the heart of
every man who thinks of me,

 Christ in the mouth of
every one who speaks of me,

 Christ in the eye of
every one who sees me,

 Christ in every ear
that hears me.

from: St. Patrick’s Shield

9.        Next Three Commands

           a.        v. 14 do not                                                                                                                              

           b.        v. 15, 16 you also, you shall                                                                                                    

           c.        v. 17 Conduct                                                                                                                         

10.      Conclusion


May 10, 2013

awelessby a.d.spalding,jr

The king passes in front of the soldiers.
They stand strong and silent.
The people strain to see.
Power excites and enthralls and enchants.

I walked on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral.
I looked up at the giant ornate doors.
I stepped backwards and tried to see the full length of the tallest decorative spire.
I noticed the cell phone antennae.

What motivates the design and building of a cathedral?
What sort of awe quickens the heart and brightens the imagination?

Am I going through life without the Big Deal?
Have I missed my chance to be truly inspired, truly overcome by awe?
Where are my fellow worshipers, who can join me in designing our cathedral?
When do we come together to fall on our knees and chant, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

Yahweh passes in front of us.
We avoid stepping on the old chewing gum on the sidewalk.
We check our cell phone.

introduction to meaninglessness

April 1, 2012

The “punch line” of Ecclesiastes is contained in the last two verses of the book:  The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.  (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 ESV)

only God matters …

The entire Old Testament is summarized in those last two verses: (a) The law (“keep His commandments”); the prophets (“bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil”); and wisdom (“Fear God,” which according to Proverbs 9:10 is the beginning of all wisdom).

The last two verses of the book also point to the New Testament. As a precondition to becoming a follower of Christ, it is necessary that a person have a large, even fearful, understanding of God-the-all-knowing-all-seeing-Judge. Only then does it make sense for that person to realize that he or she cannot possibly rise to God’s standard of perfect holiness, and only then does our desperate need for a Savior become clear. On the other hand, a follower of Christ, that is, one who loves Jesus Christ and relies upon Him, expresses and acts out his or her love for Jesus Christ be keeping His commandments (John 14:18-21).

… or else life is just a meaningless mist

The theme of the book of Ecclesiastes is that life without God is hebel [H1892], that is, a transient, meaningless vapor or breath or mist. Life for humans, from this perspective, is hardly different than that of a goldfish swimming in a bowl.

life in a meaningless world

We are hardwired to find meaning in life somehow and somewhere. People who do not find their meaning and identity in God, often try to find it somewhere else: status, work, career, family, reputation, contribution to history, timeline on, pleasure, etc.

This is frustrating, because it does not work. When we try to find meaning in these ways, we become exhausted and disappointed. Worse, the more adept we feel we have become on our own (“under the sun,” that is, without God), the more sinful and corrupt we tend to become. Indeed, the Bible describes atheism as both foolish and corrupting (see Psalm 14:1-3 and Psalm 53:1).

Which is why denial of God, or separation from God, is itself a form of hell (see Matthew 27:45-46).

Audio MP3 Discussion of this post is available here.


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