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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Are you an Evangelical?

I only claim to be a believer in Jesus Christ though I do think it would be hard for me to escape being labeled Evangelical. I admit to being very uncertain concerning all my understanding. I struggle with that daily but I must confess to my certainty and confidence in God, His sovereignty in all things and the love He has bestowed on us through His Son, the depths of which I cannot even begin to imagine. I have entrusted all that I have and have hope for in Him and I have no other hope but Him. My hope in Christ is not based on my own righteousness. I have none of myself. It is not based on any thing that I might do or say, I know in my heart I am unworthy and unable to reconcile myself to God. My hope is only in God’s promise, that by believing in Jesus Christ the Son of God, I am made righteous before Him and that in Christ I have everlasting life.

So why evangelize? What’s the point? Aside from a great desire in my heart I am persuaded by scripture that it is God’s will that we tell others this good news and I am encouraged in doing so by scripture again in that it records Christ as saying of Himself, “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life”. The specific means and ways and even the times that a person might come to believe in Christ are a point of contention even among believers but eventually we must answer this question, “do you believe this”? The scripture says that those who do have passed from death to life and so much more but that those who refuse to believe remain condemned.

The scripture also records the Apostle Paul on this: “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!”

Finally Jesus gave this instruction to His Apostles:
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

I have many personal reasons for my desire to spread the good news but if I considered it outside of God’s will to tell others about Jesus then I would gladly set them aside. The truth is I’m convinced that it is God’s will and our responsibility to share this good news concerning His Son.

Now that being said I appreciate that we are in no way responsible for what someone else believes but then neither are they going to answer for what we might fail to tell them. We are not commanded to try and force anyone to believe and that would be a foolish effort. Unfortunately there are times when zeal might provoke such foolishness. No one can force anyone to believe in Christ. Anyone who would share the Gospel message should always trust God for the outcome and be careful to respect the right and responsibility of others in determining what it is they believe.

Evangelism is only the first step in our responsibility to God and others but it is a critical part of the means that God has chosen for revealing Christ to the world in this present age.

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9 Comments:

Blogger Missy said...

I never signed onto any creed, and I probably never will - unless I find 3 tenants of Dorseism I can agree to at the same time :-)

However, for the same reasons you state, I could use the adverb "evangelical" as one description of my faith.

5/10/2007 09:37:00 AM  
Blogger Penless Thoughts said...

"No one can force anyone to believe in Christ. Anyone who would share the Gospel message should always trust God for the outcome and be careful to respect the right and responsibility of others in determining what it is they believe."

AMEN - AMEN !

Let them label me whatever they choose "A rose by any other name will smell as sweet". But I am a Believer. Plain and simple.

As a believer I am called to be a light in a dark and dying world. My stance is to walk into the doors that God opens up to me and let my little light shine as best as I can. I don't think it's my job to defend God!! How presumptuous would that be? He needs no defending.

To answer your question I'm quite confident I would be labeled "evangelical" and also "conservative".

Thanks for inviting me in to your discussions. Thank you SOOO much for your level headed, non judgemental comments on my site. God is at work. Praise His Holy Name!!

5/10/2007 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger Mrs Zeke said...

To one it is a group to support sometimes even when wrong. To another it is a group to assign blame even where there is no fault.

In everything we do we are to show who we are. It is kinda hard at times since we still live in our flesh. Labels tend to assume an action and often that may be all that is seen because it is what is expected.

Nothing matters without love. But love to one is something else to another that is often because we have yet to understand the type of love God has and gives. I don't think He cares much what Christian group one belongs to if so Salvation would not be individual in nature. I never want to become someone with a callous heart towards people who profess Christ. I can be discerning of a person but it would be a sad day for me and has in the past that I applied a conclusion to one because of another. We certainly do not want to be judged by anothers actions, if it is not good enough for us then it is not good enough for others.

I am Evangelical as I am Protestant in practice, believe in the Bible and that it should not stay hidden. I don't think part of the Bible is to be taken as truth and others parts in the abstract. Maybe that makes me a nut or whatever anyone would say about Evangelicals but I don't really care because it is God's heart I am trying to catch.

That being said we sure do some awful things in God's name and again the fruit tells the story, If in an action you get 5 good plums but destroy 10 good plum producing trees then what have you really done for the Kingdom? You have served self I think. That is not a group thing, like Salvation is to each one.

Love you, your loved

5/10/2007 11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Hi KC,
Am I an evangelical? I hope not... even though I agree with much of what you say... but the term evangelical has been so watered down, that I don't claim it at all, or want it.

But being an evangelical and evangelism are not the same thing. I can evangelize, and not be an evangelical.

I do believe in the historic creeds of the faith (as I've pointed out before... we all have creeds... but my creeds are historic to the Christian faith). I believe in the need for creed... So I'm not sure why you and others dis them. A creed is simply a statement of faith... what it is that you believe... Guess what, KC and others here, all have creeds. It's just that they are not written down... although I think KC is in the process of blogging his creed. :)

Sorry, random thoughts in my response... not much sleep lately. Little Joey kept me up til 4:45 a.m. this morning and then Andrew kept me up till 7 a.m. :(
Good post...
Blessings

5/10/2007 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger dorsey said...

It must be acknowledged that meaning is derived from far more than the simple etymology of a word. As Timothy suggests, "evangelical" has taken on a far greater meaning than merely "one who evangelizes."

As such, this word has come to be associated with judgement, bigotry, excess, materialism, dominionist political agenda, egocentrism, war-mongering, hypocrisy, etcetera. While I do not believe that these perceptions are altogether accurate, I cannot deny that the mainstream evangelical subculture of the last half-century has fostered them by its actions. It should also be noted that a great many well-intentioned believers have been led away from the path of love by a few power-hungry wolves in sheep's clothing, all in the name of doctrinal purity and "defending the faith."

That said, I believe that it's important to share my faith. But, like most everything else, I resist the organizational modalities that come across as manipulative. I like the way Peter puts it:

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander." (1 Peter 3)

You can make the case for knocking on doors or shouting from a streetcorner, and if it works, great (I guess). But this way seems right to me, living my life in such a way that someone might ask about the hope I have in Jesus. This is an evangelism that is born out of relationship. This is the picture I get when I recall Peterson's "unforced rhythms of grace."

So, to answer the question, while I have grown up among evangelicals, while I love evangelicals, while I count them friends, and gladly work alongside them, I'd just as soon not to be referred to as an evangelical.

Oh, and for the record, I'm not against the idea of a creed, either. I just get nervous when creeds get too far beyond "Love God. Love each other." That said, I don't have a problem with the Apostles' Creed, so long as "holy catholic church" is interpreted as all believers everywhere. Ever notice that the Apostles' Creed doesn't mention hell? Does that mean anything? ; )

5/10/2007 01:39:00 PM  
Anonymous rrbj said...

Amen Mrs Zeke I glad you commented cause you echoed my thoughts for me and now I hadn't got to strain my brain ? My main thought is why everybody can't think like me ? I love to do the best I can in spreading Gods Love so I guess that makes me evangilical ? Who knows all the good people that works and lives around Dorsey they might convert Him if he ain't careful ? Never can tell Who the Holy Spirit will go home with ? Blessings. Ron.

5/10/2007 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Kc said...

I can’t help but appreciate the brilliance and diversity in all the comments above.

Missy I know you’re away today but thanks to you and Pastor Timothy for today’s topic on creeds and confessions. ;-)

I’ve decided to stick with the label of believer as labels beyond that become quite vague.

Susan I think it our privilege to have your thoughts on these topics. I’m thankful you were not offended by my comments though I fear my words may have kindled the controversy. Please forgive me for that and accept my gratitude for your graciousness.

“Let them label me whatever they choose "A rose by any other name will smell as sweet". But I am a Believer. Plain and simple.”

Well said! I also very much appreciate your thoughts on being light in the world.

Mrs. Zeke if I should venture to guess I would think you would in no way be considered Evangelical by the definition Dorsey proposed as being current but in every way by the definition I intended in my post.

“Nothing matters without love. But love to one is something else to another that is often because we have yet to understand the type of love God has and gives.”

I think this is a critical point to understand if we are to ever be of one mind as Christ’ commanded. Thank you so much for keeping the love of God before our eyes.

Papa Timothy! I’m not going to accept your complaints about sleep yet because I saw on your site that you (A) have some excellent help and (B) didn’t even have to miss a golf game! (hehe) Seriously we continue in prayer for you all. We’re so thankful for His blessings to you.

“But being an evangelical and evangelism are not the same thing. I can evangelize, and not be an evangelical.”

That’s a good point and one I find comfort in given the prejudice toward Evangelicals. I really would not want to be called on to defend a position or label I have not taken and the sentence above will free me from having to provide any further distinctions.

I hope we can continue the discussion on creeds today. I really am not opposed to anyone who holds to a creed but I am very opposed to anyone using a creed to create a division in the body of Christ. I suppose you might call my present understanding a creed but, if so, I hope it pointless to put to pen. I pray that the growth in my understanding would be such that no document could ever be considered difinitive. ;-)

Dorsemeister I have to agree concerning word meanings. That’s one reason I virtually ignore what someone else might label themselves. You can never be certain of what that might mean to them.

I also have to appreciate your method of evangelism and, as you say, I’m sure it works well for you but it seems you would agree that we’re not a “one size fits all” body. ;-)

I will agree not to call you an Evangelical if you promise not to associate others with judgement, bigotry, excess, materialism, dominionist political agenda, egocentrism, war-mongering, hypocrisy, etcetera when I refer to Evangelicals (hehe).

“It should also be noted that a great many well-intentioned believers have been led away from the path of love by a few power-hungry wolves in sheep's clothing, all in the name of doctrinal purity and "defending the faith." “

So noted and well it should be! I see control as the primary cause of every division in the body.

Ron you said, “I love to do the best I can in spreading Gods Love so I guess that makes me evangilical”.

I would say that makes you a dear brother. ;-)

5/11/2007 05:54:00 AM  
Blogger Timothy said...

Hi KC,
No, the lack of sleep contributed to the fact that my comments were not, or did not seem all that coherent.

As for the golf statement. Fore! A true golfer can golf in his sleep... and often does! :)

BTW, check out Beth's page today.
Blessings

5/11/2007 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger pecheur said...

The answer may include a question, Who am I?

Am I Evangelical? I don't know,but if I were I'd probably not tell anyone. =)

Later

5/23/2007 01:41:00 PM  

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