About 12 or so years ago we paid visit on a specific Lord's day to a near by Arminian fundamentalist church. The theme that had been propagated was the 90% tithe week. It seemed that the following Lord's day was going to be the 90% tithe week as opposed to their usual legalistic 10% tithe. This time they wanted to prove how much God was going to honor the giving of these tithitarians.
Although memory does not serve me too well to recall whether or not missions was the theme with this effort of 90%, in most cases that is usually the conscience binding argument for bringing in an Old Testament practice into the New Testament. It certainly was not found in the New Testament for we are told that giving should be "not grudgingly or out of necessity" but as one has "purposed in his heart" 2Cor 9:7.
Now although our theme is soul winning and spirituality, or godliness, we believed it necessary to bring in the subject of giving because it enters into much of modern day evangelism. We recently received a correspondence by a professed brother who seemed to find it necessary to take us to task for our stance on the great commission and its fulfillment by the apostles.
One of the things that has led to the taking up of the subject of the fulfillment of the great commission was not because we did not think it was necessary for a church to preach the gospel to those outside of Christ. We made it clear that God's servant should proclaim the gospel of God's free and sovereign grace whenever and wherever God gives opportunity. Nonetheless some deem it necessary to slander us as being those who have no compassion for souls.
That brings us to the theme of this paper. What is the measure of the spirituality of a church and/or an individual believer? Is one's spiritual state of growth to be seen in how many tracts he hands out or how many co-workers he has dragged into a discussion about the gospel?
To many that is the case. If one scans a search engine on the internet and types in "great commission" he will see the many that are more concerned with how many souls they have won than how much they have come to love the precious Savior and how much they are being conformed to the His image. You will even find instruction how you can do your part in fulfilling the great commission. I suggest if you follow their advice to hold onto your wallet.
It is not our intent to chastise or criticize any servant of Christ who desires to preach the gospel to a certain segment of the world because they believe the Lord has called them to that task. We most certainly do not know the mind of the Lord in his dealings with his children. But we do know that any mission the Lord sends one of his chosen to perform he most certainly will provide the means for such a task. But to bind the consciences of His children and plead for funds or the task will not get done is foreign to Scripture. When the disciples were first commissioned they were told to "provide no gold nor silver nor brass in your purses" Matt. 10:9. This was the command of our Lord in the initial commission to his apostles and was carried into the great commission. But those that believe the great commission is in force today have forgotten this fact. The apostles followed these instructions as they went for to "preach the gospel to every creature."
Since it is not our intention to offend those on such a mission what is our purpose in this paper? We believe that the reason for such a vehement approach to evangelism goes far beyond the pale of merely desiring to see many come to a saving knowledge of the Savior. All true children of the King rejoice to see his kingdom grow. But to many it is the measure of ones state of spiritual growth.
One of the reasons we believe is because it is far easier to be on the offensive in our efforts to reach the lost than to live a godly life above reproach and do as Peter instructed us "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer of every man that asketh you of the reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear" 1Pet 3:15.
Now if it was standard practice to be on the offensive instead of the defensive there would be little instruction needed by Peter here. After all those around you would not have to ask you of the reason of this hope because you would have let them know way before they ever had any desire to know. That is modern day evangelism and it is pitiful. Somehow if one has not spoken to every one they know about the gospel and gave them all a tract whether or not they showed the slightest bit of interest, that person is considered a second class Christian.
Then of course we cannot forget all of the methods that must be employed. We have to have our arsenal of Christian contemporary music to substitute for the music these people listen to. Somehow that is suppose to spark the interest of dead sinners. I can expect the free will Arminians and Pelegians with their false gospel to do this but when those that have embraced the biblical doctrine of God's free and sovereign grace that says men are dead in sin and need life to believe it then becomes more pitiful when they succumb to the language of Ashdod.
Despite all the efforts of the free willer Arminians and the free offer sovereign gracers, not one more will be saved by these nonbiblical methods. God is determined to bring his children into a saving knowledge of Christ and he most certainly has chosen to do this via the preaching of the gospel. But if we think that conjuring up flesh pleasing worldly methods in the name of the great commission, at the cost of living a life as instructed by Paul to "study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing" (1Thes 4:11-12) we are most certainly mistaken.
We seemed to have forgotten the exhortations given us about on the one hand not "casting pearls before swine" and on the other being a shining light before "a crooked and perverse generation." It is far more flesh pleasing to be a modern day soul winner than to live a quiet blameless life before the unbelieving world as instructed in the passages we have quoted.
So what do we say to these things? We believe that no true child of the King needs to be coerced into bearing witness to the gospel of God's free grace. But to make that the measure of one's growth in grace most certainly will cause one to put more focus on "soul winning" than feeding his own soul and being watchful against the snares of the enemy. Do we believe in preaching to sinners? Yes for we do not know of any other kind but sinners. But the gospel is sheep food not goat food and it is good news not good advice. So we will take every opportunity the Lord finds favor to give us to bear witness to the truth. But in the mean time we will not bind the consciences of others as to the use of methods that are both unbiblical and laced with carnality and pride. Cast not your pearls before swine but instead "be ready always to give an answer."