Matthew is back with John in the study today to continue our series on evangelism. We are looking again at Samuel Walker’s method of guiding souls to Christ. This week our focus in correctly understanding conviction, and what it should lead us to.
It is easy to believe conviction is an end unto itself. If someone feels bad enough for their sin they are ready to become a Christian, right? Not necessarily. There are pitfalls to beware of as we walk alongside someone in this season.
One such pitfall is that conviction gives us merit in God's economy. We may believe the worse we feel about our sin, the more attractive we are to God. In a similar vein of thought, we can believe we don't feel bad enough about our sin yet, and therefore can't be saved yet. This is a deception from the enemy and we must remember that we bring nothing to our salvation but the sin we need to be saved from.
Another pitfall is pursuing a shortcut through the land of conviction. For some, this is sourced in misplaced and misapplied compassion. For others, it a form of greed.
All this brings up the question as to whether John and Matthew are being too critical toward those who do evangelism, especially those who practice it differently than they do. It is a legitimate question the two spend time discussing this week. The desire for carefulness in evangelism is more than a personal conviction. It is rooted in a love for Christ and a love for man. Those two loves should drive every evangelistic conversation.
0:00-10:00- John and Matthew recap the truths we have discussed so far. They share the importance of working in harmony with the Holy Spirit in the work of evangelism and why it is vital that we truly grasp the foundational truths about God and man.
10:00-13:00 Why do we not see more carefulness in modern evangelism? The truth is that we see kind, moral people who could be helped by adding Jesus to their already okay lives, not dead people who need Jesus for life. Love to God and love to man requires that we articulate the truth about their spiritual deadness and the life only Christ gives.
13:00-20:00-We must not stop with the work of evangelism. That is only the beginning. And solely focusing on conviction can lead to the idea that it is meritorious. We may be guilty of believing this ourselves if we think we have (or have not) felt bad enough about our sins to turn to Christ yet. Conviction is always a means to an end, not an end in itself. Its purpose is to point you away from the emptiness of sin and toward the loveliness of Christ.
20:00-25:00 When conviction is viewed, applied, and responded to properly, it is a terrible and wonderful thing. But when we take conviction and attempt to use it as a means of making ourselves attractive to God, or earning His favor, we miss the point. John and Matthew share some examples of people mistakenly using conviction in an improper way and how God, in His timing, opened their eyes to the fact they had to come to Him with their hands completely empty.
25:00-36 :00 With all this talk of approaching evangelism in a careful manner, we want to address what may be a concern in some discerning minds. Shouldn’t we just be happy that people are doing evangelism? Are you guys just talking about your preferred way of doing evangelism and being too critical of how some people do it? John and Matthew share why this is deeper than preferences. It is a matter of love. Would you, if you had the cure for a terminal disease, give the cure carelessly? Or would you make sure you gave it in the method prescribed by the physician? Would you give all the medicine at once, or would you dose it out according to the best medical advice? Love to man and love to Christ demands carefulness.
36:00-42:00 After explaining the need for carefulness, John and Matthew move forward to focus on another idea we have talked about often in the podcast, and especially in this particular series: does God truly empty a life before He fills it? Not only is the answer logical, it is biblical. Scripture is rife with examples, but we hone in on the Sermon on the Mount.
42:00-47:00 The emptying of a person leads to them understanding how poor they are. The result of seeing your spiritual poverty is that you will come to Christ with nothing, looking for Him for everything.
47:00-59:00 The one who desires to be used by God to win souls must be aware of particular temptations and trappings. We have an enemy who is crafty and lays traps even in the good desires of Christians. Jeremiah 6 discusses prophets who heal falsely and preach greedily. John and Matthew ask serious and sobering questions every Christian should wrestle with.
59:00-66:00 So what happens if ministers or parents find themselves guilty of being greedy in their evangelism? What if they realize their efforts were an abomination to the Lord? John shares a story of parents in his church who have gone back to children they led through the “Sinner’s Prayer” when they were young but bear no fruit of repentance and faith. The stories are both heartbreaking and encouraging.
John and Matthew take the Supporter Appreciation Episode to detail the story of William Grimshaw and his conversion. Grimshaw was a minister before he was a Christian. That was obvious in the way he ministered and the counsel he gave. But when God gave him new life, it transformed the way he thought, preached, counseled, and lived. John shares some of his favorite stories of Grimshaw’s life, and some resources for you to read his story for yourself.
Other episodes in this series:
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Suppoter Appreciation Episode Resoucres:
Christian Leaders of the 18th Century by J.C. Ryle
Justification by Faith Alone by John Owen
Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices by Thomas Brooks