Evangelism (Martin Cavender)

Evangelism

What is evangelism?
See what God is doing and work alongside him.

Who is evangelism?
We have to cross the line to discipleship. In the New Testament discipleship is not about being a student, but an apprentice who watches his master working. It is always in community. Sometimes community becomes an end in itself – it should be a means to an end. Evangelism is not a thing to do, it is a person – Jesus. We can no longer just be consumers in church.

Where is evangelism?
The world. See Matthew 28 and John 20.

What is the Good News?
Jesus lived and died and rose again, and this changes everything. It is a fact (the Latin root of ‘fact’ means ‘done’). It’s about life.

How do we know things (knowledge)? How do we make sense of them (purpose)?

The faith-based world view (Hebrew) is great on purpose but not on knowledge. We know things through revelation – which is not enough for scientists.

The scientific-based world view (Greek) is great on knowledge but there is no purpose. We have created an amazing world but we don’t know what it’s for.

We need to take hold of the crises: A crisis of purpose which gives rise to a resurgence of spirituality. Then there is a crisis of spirituality which doesn’t satisfy. Also a crisis of prosperity which does not fulfil.

How do we reach people?
The beauty of our lives attracts people. Discipleship, because you have to know how to live a beautiful life.

“I want to believe in Richard Dawkins, but he’s not happy and you are. It’s not evidence, but it’ll do for now.”

[based on a talk by Martin Cavender, Swansea University, 27/10/11]

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Why Christianity Makes Sense (C S Lewis)

CSLewismural

1. Christianity as a ‘Big Picture’

It provides a way of looking at things in a coherent way.

“I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen; not only do I see it, but by it I see everything else.”

1. It illuminates reality
2. It allows us to see what is otherwise in shadows
3. It brings things into focus – like a lens
4. It helps us to see things as they really are – truth seeker
5. It allows us to fit things in – helps us make sense of the world but goes beyond reason

2. The Argument from Desire

In each of us there is a deep desire for something out of this world.
He has also set eternity in the hearts of men. (Eccl 3:7)

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses 1941

The world is full of beauty – these are signposts to God, not just containers. Like the scent of flowers in a garden at night – you know they are there but you can’t see them. So nature tells us that there is something more.

3. Lewis on Imagination & Stories

Christianity tells a story that makes sense of things and connects up with our own stories.
In The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe children hear different stories about the true origin of Narnia, but gradually one story emerges as true.
Christian apologetics is about out-narrating the stories of the secular world.

4. Translation

Lewis believed we should use plain English to explain the deep truths.

“You must translate every bit of your theology into the vernacular.”
“We are here in the land of dreams. But cock-crow is coming.”

Your story is given depth and meaning by the great story, so you need to understand it.

[based on a lecture given by Alister McGrath, biographer of C S Lewis]

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A Living House

Scaffolding_on_house

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

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God’s Story in the Bible

I don’t remember where I got it from, so I can’t attribute it, but here are the Bible chapters you need to read to outline the story of what God is doing. I have found it very useful.

Holy_Bible Gods Story

1. Genesis 1, 2, 3 Creation and the fall
2. Genesis 6, 7, 8 Noah and the flood
3. Genesis 12, 13 Abraham
4. Genesis 15, 16, 17 God’s covenant with Abraham, Ishmael
5. Genesis 22:1-19, 25:12-34, 27, 28 Abraham tested, Jacob and Esau
6. Genesis 37, 38, 39 Joseph
7. Genesis 40, 41 Joseph in Egypt
8. Genesis 50, Exodus 1 Joseph’s family in Egypt
9. Exodus 3, 11, 12 Moses frees Israel
10. Exodus 32, 33, 34 The golden calf and the stone tablets
11. Judges 6, 7, 16 Gideon and Samson
12. 1 Samuel 17, 2 Samuel 2:1-7, 5:1-5 David and Goliath, David becomes king
13. 2 Samuel 11, 12 David and Bathsheba
14. 1 Kings 2, 3, 6 Solomon
15. 1 Kings 16:29-34, 17, 18, 19 King Ahab and Elijah
16. Isaiah 7:13-14, Hosea 11:1, Jeremiah 31:15, Deuteronomy 18:15, Isaiah 9:1-7, 53 Prophecies of the Messiah
17. Matthew 1:18-25, 2:1-23, Luke 2:1-40, Matthew 3 Birth of Jesus, John the Baptist
18. Matthew 4, 5, 6 Jesus begins his ministry
19. Mark 6:14-56 Death of John the Baptist, miracles
20. Luke 13:10-17, 14:1-4 Healing on the Sabbath
21. Mark 11:27-33, 12 Jesus’ authority
22. John 9, 10, 11 Healing and teaching
23. Luke 9, 10 Jesus sends out the twelve and the seventy-two
24. Luke 22:1-6, John 12:1-19 Plots and adoration
25. Luke 22:7-38, Mark 14:32-72 Last Supper and Gethsemane
26. Luke 23:26-43, John 19:28-42, John 20 The crucifixion and resurrection
27. John 21, Acts 1 & 2 The Ascension and the Holy Spirit
28. Acts 7:54-60, 8:1-40, 9 Stephen, Philip, Saul and Peter
29. Revelation 21&22, 1 Corinthians 15 A new heaven, a new earth and the return of Christ

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Are You Prepared?

A young man had his first holiday without his parents. He knew he needed sunscreen but his mother always used to put it on for him. He smeared it roughly on his body but at the end of the day he was sunburned in all the places he had missed. He had been unaware of the danger from the sun and was not prepared to properly protect himself.

There is a spiritual reality that we cannot see. It’s not just the actions and attitudes of people, there are forces behind it. We need to be aware of the danger and protect ourselves. 

Dragon

In Revelation 12:17 the dragon (the devil) goes to fight against the church, and it is happening today. In Revelation 20:10 the devil is defeated. At the end of the Second World war, Germany was defeated and the war was over, but battles still went on. The devil was defeated at the cross but battles still go on. The victory is won but you will be under attack, and they will try to persuade you to change sides. ‘Devil’ means ‘deceiver’, it’s all about lies. 

So, how do you mount a resistance against the attack of the devil? Put on the armour of God. It’s a well known Bible passage, Ephesians 6:10-24. I won’t print it as it’s so long, but you can look it up. Paul uses the imagery of a soldier because he’s under guard. It’s imagery that has been used before:

The LORD looked and was displeased that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, he was appalled that there was no one to intervene; so his own arm achieved salvation for him, and his own righteousness sustained him. He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak. (Is.59:15b,16,17)

roman-armour

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Eph.6:13)

* The belt holds everything together – hold on to the truth. Only God’s truth can set us free. 

* The breastplate covers the heart – how easy it is to lose our self image. Don’t compare yourself with others. 

* The shield was metre and a half long, covered in leather. It would be wet down to protect against flaming arrows. But it was most effective in the Roman shield wall. The soldiers would stand close together and overlap the shields in front and the sides. Those in the middle would raise the shields overhead. In this way the group was invulnerable. When you’re under attack, you need to keep close to others in church. 

* Shoes for preparation – you need the right kind of footwear. Make sure you are prepared by studying the Scriptures and keeping close to God.

* The sword is the only offensive weapon. Sword of truth – use the word of God to challenge wrong. Canadian Mounties study real money for a long time to learn to identify counterfeits. They know what is right – the right feel, the right pattern, so they can spot it when they handle a fake. If we’re not tuned into God, how can we spot error? 

[based on a sermon at Pantygwydr Baptist Church]

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In Time of Trouble

In time of trouble say:

First – God brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place. In that I will rest.

Next – He will keep me in His love and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.

Then – He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.

Last – In His good time He can bring me out again – how and when He knows.

I am here – by God’s appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for His time.

[William Murray, quoted in Our Daily Bread]

I am here

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Be Worthy, Be Completely, Make Every Effort

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Eph.4:1-3)

This passage gives concrete down-to-earth advice on living out our discipleship. It tells us how to deal with the reality of Monday morning – for Paul it was chains. Three pieces of advice: Be worthy, Be completely, and Make every effort.

Be worthy Live worthy

Live worthy of the calling you have received. Not sure what your calling is? You may not know what God is calling you to, not specifics, but we all have a general calling to holiness and purity. When we go with what God has generally called us to, then God will give us the specifics.

Be completely Be humble

* Humble. This is counter-cultural. Society today tells us to push ourselves forward. Humility brings unity. Humility is like underwear – you can’t see it, but you can see its effects. 

* Gentle (meek). As someone once said, ‘Meekness is not weakness.’ Being gentle doesn’t mean we allow people to walk all over us, we can be firm, but still gentle with people. John Stott said, ‘We need to be masters of ourselves and servants of others.

* Patient and forbearing. The same applies here as above with gentleness, with regard to other people, but we sometimes have to be patient with God too. He doesn’t always let us in on his plans, and sometimes we have to trust that he is in control, even when life gets hard.

Make every effort Make every effort

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit. God has created the unity. When we are saved we become part of the church, Christ’s body on Earth, but we can pick away at it. Use the superglue of peace. We can’t do it at distance, we have to get close to one another.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph.4:11-13)

The passage goes on to talk about how to keep the unity (v4-16): grow up and build up. We are intended to become mature and like Christ. When we look at what Jesus has done, he gave completely and made every effort, so can we do any less?

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