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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Whatever happened to Evangelism? A challenge for young Christians and not so young.

A Churches of Christ Tent Mission from way back. I think these were conducted by E C Henriksen.Note the blackboard at the front with clear instructions on salvation

I became a Christian in 1974.

My wife and I were a product of the "Jesus" revolution of the 1970's.

The signature symbol  of the movement was the one way logo with the hand with index finger pointed to the sky.
My wife became a Christian about 3 years before I did.

There was a world wide movement of God's Holy Spirit reaching out to young people fresh from the 60's cultural revolution.

There was a lot of rebellion in that time world wide. Check the stuff online.

There started to be a revival around the world that was complemented by a thriving Christian Music Industry and dynamic Preachers and Evangelists and testimonies of many people, some pop celebrities, telling how they had found Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

The paraphrased "Living Bible", which put the Bible in today's language, was a major tool in this movement.
I still find it my main "go to" Bible.

The Gospel was very enticing and  proposed without fear or favour.

Paul Stukey of Peter Paul and Mary became a Christian when a young "Jesus Freak" aproached him backstage at a concert and boldy presented him with the Gospel. Apparently Paul had been searching for answers prior to this happening.
Barry Maguire the famous singer of the Protest Era anthem ,"The Eve of Destruction" became a Christian.
He this day seems to still be a Christian but like many  he has changed his views on some things along the way.

He featured in a very popular Gospel Musical  called "the Witness".
My wife sang in the choir in an Adelaide production of this.

Keith Green, Christian Musician and Evangelist, a little bit further along the continuum, became a huge influence.
He made his albums of Gospel music free if you couldn't afford the price and his concerts had huge attendances and a strong challenge for Christian Commitment.
He met an untimely death aged 28 in a plane crash. 

To "witness", to tell of your faith and what Jesus had done for you and what was possible for your "witnessee" was the norm for new Christians in the evangelical tradition.
We were trained in how to do this and the booklet "The Four Spiritual Laws" produced by Campus Crusade for Christ was widely used.
In fact when I became a Christian my Pastor used it to help summarise for me what I was doing the night I responded to the Gospel invitation after an evening service.

I have seen many people both "famous" and "nobodies" along the journey profess Jesus as their saviour.
Sadly some fall by the wayside which is a "normal" happening when you take into consideration the parable of the sower.

These days, in the city of Adelaide,South Australia, I see little evidence of a vibrant Christian movement in our Churches.

Perhaps I don't get out much.

There have been many great revivals over the years but there seems to be a lack of anything like revival in these times.

People seem to have lost sight of the Power of The Cross of Christ and instead water the Gospel down with all sorts of promises of experiences and "connecting " with God.

We hardly connect with each other let alone God.

My wife and I and others were fortunate to be exposed to some very balanced and Biblical teaching.

What seems to be lacking today is for example:

1.  a spirit of discernment. The whole idea of if you stand for nothing you fall for anything seems to be well and truly operating.

2. A thorough Biblical understanding of the Christian conversion process and progression from there.

3. An accurate theology on the Holy Spirit and the Gifts of the Spirit.

4. The recognition of who the Christian's enemy is and the weapons God has given us to combat the enemy.

5. The need to preach the Cross only and to recognise that when you do that people are confronted with Jesus.

6. An understanding of the three most important things. The Book, The Blood and The Blessed Hope.

I have been going back through some of the writings of some of my predecessors in the denomination in which I have hung my hat.

One of our mottos was we are not the only Christians but Christians only.

A good motto I think.

About 130 or more years ago Adelaide people had a hunger for the Gospel.

Gospel Meetings were attended by large crowds.

See this written account by HS Earl who was a visiting Evangelist from America called to Australia by the Churches of Christ.

this was in 1866.

Editors of British Harbinger.--
      The past month has been one of unusual interest; indeed it stands without a parallel in the history of the cause we plead, or any other religious body, in Australia. Our audiences have been overwhelming, the interest most solemn and profound, and the results most soul-inspiring. Last Lord's day, August 26, I preached in the New Town Hall to the largest audience ever congregated for religious purposes in South Australia. It is estimated by the press and others, that upwards of 2,200 were present, and more than 500 were unable to gain admittance. All available space was occupied, and hundreds stood during the whole service. The most marked attention was given by this vast assemblage, and a profound interest prevailed. All classes and creeds were represented--The Mayor of the city, Councilors, Members of Parliament, Ministers, Lawyers, Doctors, Merchants, Artisans, and Mechanics--Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Universalists, &c. At the close of the discourse several persons confessed their faith in Christ. Last week I baptized the largest number of persons ever baptized at one time in South Australia, and the meeting was one of intense interest. During the past month no less than forty-three persons "have been baptized into Christ" and added to the Church of Christ, and several others have confessed their faith in Christ, and will be "buried with him in baptism" to-night, (D.V.) Thus the cause of "Pure Christianity" is advancing most gloriously in South Australia, and would soon occupy the foremost rank in power and influence, if we could only get several able and devoted Evangelists in the field. The Brethren are very anxious to hear that the Evangelist sent for from America is on his way hither. We sincerely hope there will be no delay. Now is the time he is specially needed here, as also the one sent for for Victoria. "The harvest truly is plenteous but the labourers are few.
H. S. EARL,  "

People waiting to hear the Gospel

Indeed the labourers are few.

You might say today's citizens of Adelaide are a lot more "sophisticated" than the people of that day.

Mores the pity.

We think we have made progress with our technology, out theories of evolution, our anything goes type of society.

Our so called "wisdom" is our downfall.

We have been caught like frogs in "the boiling frog" analogy.

As the Apostle Paul puts it.:

1 Corinthians 1

Christ Crucified Is God’s Power and Wisdom

18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise;
    the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”[a]
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. 22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Young person or older person will you become a "fool" for God?

"For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength."

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