Power, Paradox, and Paradigm Shift

For the Christian seeking to faithfully follow Christ, it is imperative, out of love for Christ and others, to proclaim the good news of the gospel. There necessarily is a follow up question: how should we go about evangelism and the defense of the faith? We are presented with a pleothora of answers to this question today. Many promise to provide a new and innovative way of winning converts.

I want to provide us with a fundamental commitment that will ground us as we seek to proclaim the truth: The Triune God of the Bible Exists and Has Spoken. This helps us navigate the maze of various books and videos on apologetics and evangelism (A&E). Is this fundamental commitment the basis of these resources, or do they begin with agnosticism?

Here’s what I mean: many methods of A&E start with nothing (agnosticism) and try to reason up to God. This might mean, for example, convincing unbelievers through reasoning from the complexity of creation to the existence of a god. From there, you can convince them of this god being a moral god, and eventually persuade them that this is the God of the Bible. The existence of God is not the starting place, but an attempted end result.

Paul reveals to us some of his ministry methodology in 1 Corinthians 1. He describes for us the situation that he faces: “For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom” (v.22). These unbelievers had set up idols in their lives. Their willingness to believe in God was subject to their belief in philosophy1 and miraculous signs. Paul could have indulged them in their idolatry. Instead, he starts with the foundational commitment 1 we have described above. His method of reaching these unbelievers? “But we preach Christ crucified” (v.23).

Our desire is for unbelievers to turn from idols to serve the living and true God (1 Thess. 1:9). Therefore, our method of A&E must not indulge them in their idolatry. The power of our A&E rests not in our ability to satisfy man’s idolatrous standards, but instead rests in God’s power to save through His message of the cross (1 Cor. 1:21, 24, 30, 2:4).

This is the paradox of A&E. We must rightly proclaim the right message. Why would we want to present the wisdom of the world when it cannot lead to a saving knowledge of God (1:21)? Yet, we simultaneously acknowledge the power ultimately lies not in our presentation or persuasiveness, but in God’s work, using our feeble efforts to accomplish the salvation of His elect (2:4, 1:24-27, 30-31). Even if we “get it wrong,” the Lord is still accomplishing His purposes. God can even use evangelism done for the wrong reasons (Phil. 1:17-18)!

This is a significant paradigm shift for many today. Many would verbally affirm that Scripture is sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16-17), but deny this with their actions when they seek to do evangelism. A belief in God is not the beginning of their knowledge (Prov. 1:7). God exists, and He has spoken! His Word then provides a sure, sufficient foundation for our A&E.

As we go throughout this month, we know that we have been sent out on mission by God. My prayer is that we ground our A&E in Scripture, trusting not in the wisdom of man, but in the power of God, knowing that He is Sovereignly accomplishing His purposes.
     Pastor Cory will be teaching a 6 week class on Wednesday nights in March entitled, “Biblical Apologetics and Evangelism.”
1This is not to say that all philosophy is wrong, but that true philosophy is “according to Christ” (Col. 2:8). True philosophy starts with God’s existence, rather than reasoning upwards to God.
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1 Comment

David Measer - March 29th, 2022 at 8:27am

Thanks for the reminder that God's word is sufficient for evangelizing. It's easy to get cought up in worldly strategies. i.e. marketing for God.

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