Bible Bites

Bible Bites

Two Men Try to Evangelize

The emphasis of the first is “the true church” and when evangelizing he begins his conversations with others by asking, “How  many churches did Jesus build?” Later he quotes Matthew 16.18 to show that Jesus built only one. It wasn’t the Baptist Church, the Methodist Church, the Mormon Church or the Catholic Church because all of them have serious flaws according to the Bible. The church that Jesus built was the Church of Christ, which was founded in the year 33 A.D. Its name is the “Church of Christ” (Romans 16.16) and it practices the one baptism (Ephesians 4.5), has the Lord’s Supper every Sunday (Acts 20.7), has a collection every first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16.1-2), sings without instruments, etc. He exhorts others to “investigate the Church of Christ.”

Often when the first brother talks about the church, he has a sectarian concept and mixes up references to the local church and the universal church. He leaves the impression that he wants to attract people to a network of congregations that has its historical traditions and official or “semiofficial” papers, schools and perhaps other institutions. After emphasizing various points about the church, perhaps this brother may mention Jesus Christ, his life, his death and resurrection, but these points come much later, perhaps even after the contact is baptized.

The second Christian’s first point of emphasis is “Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2.2). His method of introducing Jesus Christ to his contact might differ according to the circumstances. He often asks individuals to read all or portions of one of the gospels or the book of Acts. Or, perhaps he’ll point out what the Bible says about sin and that Jesus Christ’s death is the solution when his grace is accepted through repentance and baptism (Acts 2.38). With some people, he may begin by reading texts about Christ’s death and resurrection and point out the reliability of the testimony of the many witnesses to those events. When teaching about Jesus Christ and his authority, the second evangelist will emphasize that it is impossible to grow in Christ while in a human denomination. Such is possible only by worshiping with a group of disciples who truly submit to his authority as given in the New Testament. He exhorts people not to investigate the church, because though God’s people have been washed in the blood of Christ, they still often have flaws that discourage seekers. He urges them to “investigate Christ and his word.” No flaws there!

The two men mention many of the same points, but there is a great difference in emphasis. The first begins by talking about the product of ·salvation (and he has misconceptions about that) while perhaps later talking of the source of salvation, Jesus Christ. The second speaks first and foremost about the source of salvation, Jesus Christ, and then builds on that foundation, teaching about work and worship in local congregations that truly respect his authority.

Thankfully, many who hear the teaching of the first man, read between the lines enough to see that it is necessary to go beyond external acts of worship and organization and imitate Jesus in their personal lives. But it is also true that some he teaches become satisfied with belonging to what they consider to be “the true church,” without ever seeming to grasp the importance of changing their hearts and attitudes. They pray very little, are in constant petty skirmishes with others and give little importance to mercy and grace. Frankly, it seems that they have been converted to a system more than to an individual, Jesus Christ.

Those who accept the gospel message of the second man come to realize that it all begins with subjection to Jesus Christ. From the very beginning they seek to change their hearts and lives according to his teachings. Emphasizing imitation of Jesus, they learn to be humble but firm, submissive and loving. With this spirit they meet with faithful congregations that are in subjection to Christ and refuse to copy the presumptuous practices that are common in mainstream religions.

May God help us to evangelize more like the second man. That is imitation of first century evangelists like Peter (Acts 10.36-43), Philip (Acts 8.35) and Paul (1 Corinthians 2.2). Subsequently, we’ll see people truly converted to Christ, and not merely convinced about some external acts without seeing the importance of changing their hearts.

(This style of article, “Two Men...” comes from Bill Hall)

— In Biblical Insights, September 2014