Friday, January 02, 2009

Present Day Evangelism

Excerpts from Arthur Pink's "Present Day Evangelism"

"The glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me." 1 Timothy 1:11

Most of the so-called evangelism of our day is a grief to genuine Christians, for they feel that it lacks any scriptural warrant, that it is dishonoring unto God, and that it is filling the churches with empty professors! They are shocked that so much frothy superficiality, fleshly excitement and worldly allurement should be associated with the holy name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They deplore the cheapening of the Gospel, the beguiling of unwary souls, and the carnalizing and commercializing of what is to them, ineffably sacred. It requires little spiritual discernment to perceive that the evangelistic activities of Christendom during the last century have steadily deteriorated from bad to worse—yet few appear to realize the root from which this evil has sprung. It will now be our endeavor to expose the same. Its aim was wrong, and therefore its fruit faulty.

If the evangelist fails to make the glory of God his paramount and constant aim, he is certain to go wrong, and all his efforts will be more or less a beating of the air. When he makes an end of anything less than that, he is sure to fall into error, for he no longer gives God His proper place. Once we fix on ends of our own, we are ready to adopt means of our own. It was at this very point, that evangelism failed two or three generations ago, and from that point it has farther and farther departed. Evangelism made "the winning of souls" its goal, its summum bonum, and everything else was made to serve and pay tribute to the same. Though the glory of God was not actually denied, yet it was lost sight of, crowded out, and made secondary. Further, let it be remembered that God is honored in exact proportion as the preacher cleaves to His Word, and faithfully proclaims "all His counsel," and not merely those portions which appeal to him.

The evangelist was esteemed not for the soundness of his message—but by the visible "results" he secured. He was valued, not according to how his preaching honored God—but by how many souls were supposedly converted under it.

Once a man makes the conversion of sinners his prime design and all-consuming end, he is exceedingly apt to adopt a wrong course. Instead of striving to preach the Truth in all its purity—he will tone it down so as to make it more palatable to the unregenerate.

To say nothing here about those cheap-jack evangelists who aim no higher than rushing people into making a formal profession of faith, in order that the membership of the churches may be swelled.

In twentieth-century evangelism, there has been a woeful ignoring of the solemn truth of the total depravity of man. There has been a complete underrating of the desperate case and condition of the sinner.

Instead of seeking the aid of outside evangelists, let the churches get on their faces before God, confess their sins, seek His glory, and cry for His miracle-working operations. "Not by might [of the preacher], nor by power [of the sinner's will]—but by my Spirit, says the Lord."

It is in no captious spirit that we write, seeking to make a man an offender for a word. It is not that we are looking for perfection, and complain because we cannot find it; nor that we criticize others because they are not doing things as we think they should be done. No, it is a matter far more serious than that, the "evangelism" of the day is not only superficial to the last degree—but it is radically defective. It is utterly lacking a foundation on which to base an appeal for sinners to come to Christ. There is not only a lamentable lack of proportion (the mercy of God being made far more prominent than His holiness, His love than His wrath)—but there is a fatal omission of that which God has given for the purpose of imparting a knowledge of sin. There is not only a reprehensible introducing of "bright singing," humorous witticisms and entertaining anecdotes—but there is a studied omission of dark background upon which alone the Gospel can effectively shine forth.

But serious indeed as is the above indictment, it is only half of it—the negative side, that which is lacking. Worse still is that which is being retailed by the cheap-jack evangelists of the day. The positive content of their message is nothing but a throwing of dust in the eyes of the sinner. His soul is put to sleep by the devil's opiate, ministered in a most unsuspecting form. Those who really receive the "message" which is now being given out from most of the "orthodox" pulpits and platforms today, are being fatally deceived. It is a way which seems right unto a man—but unless God sovereignly intervenes by a miracle of grace, all who follow it will surely find that the ends thereof are the ways of death. Tens of thousands who confidently imagine that they are bound for heaven—will get a terrible disillusionment, when they awake in hell!

The nature of Christ's salvation, is woefully misrepresented by the present-day "evangelist." He announces a Savior from hell--rather than a Savior from sin! And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire--who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness!

True, as the Christian grows in grace, he has a clearer realization of what sin is--rebellion against God; and a deeper hatred of and sorrow for it. But to think that one may be saved by Christ, whose conscience has never been smitten by the Spirit, and whose heart has not been made contrite before God--is to imagine something which has no existence in the realm of fact. "It is not the healthy who need a doctor--but the sick" (Matthew 9:12). The only ones who really seek relief from the great Physician, are those who are sick of sin--who long to be delivered from its God-dishonoring works, and its soul-defiling pollutions.

As Christ's salvation is a salvation from sin--from the love of it, from its dominion, from its guilt and penalty--then it necessarily follows, that the first great task and the chief work of the evangelist, is to preach upon SIN: to define what sin (as distinct from crime) really is, to show wherein its infinite enormity consists, to trace out its manifold workings in the heart, to indicate that nothing less than eternal punishment is its desert!

Ah, preaching upon sin will not make him popular nor draw the crowds, will it? No, it will not; and knowing this, those who love the praise of men more than the approbation of God, and who value their salary above immortal souls, trim their sales accordingly!


Prodigal Knot said...

My! That is the problem with today's "message" in most churches, isn't it?

Any true believer must agree that "there are multitudes who wish to escape the Lake of fire--who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness!" The Gospel is not about escaping judgment so much as it is being reconciled to God.

I know many "Christians" today who are very comfortable with their sins, as if they were an appendage they can never amputate. Mr.Pink put it very well. A Christian who grows in grace will learn to hate their sin, not become cozy with it.

Thanks for sharing this Denise!

Denise said...

Hi Prod,

The whole article is so good, it was hard to cut it down a bit! LOL

Indeed its as if Pink were speaking about today's "Christianity".

Here's another two quotes you might like:

Most professing Christians have not the right art of mortifying sin. All their attempts are to hide a lust, not to quench it. –Thomas Brooks

Remember this, nothing below the conquest of bosom sins can make a jubilee in the heart. It is not a man's whining and complaining over sin--but his mortifying of sin, which will make his life a paradise of pleasure! --Thomas Brooks

When we recognize we aren't hating our sin or loving Christ as we should, then we can pray that He gives us the desire to do so---certainly that is a prayer He will answer (Phil. 2:12-13).

Phil Perkins said...

Interesting. My wife got me Pink's The Attributes of God for Christmas. I'm reading the chapter on foreknowledge this evening.

God bless,
Phil Perkins.

Denise said...

Yes that book is excellent as I recall, Phil.

Yeah wife! =)

Prodigal Knot said...

I have a very hard time finding a church that Mr. Pink would think was suitable. I have a friend attending a Presbyterian church that sounds good, but being PC-USA strike me as far too liberal.

I am not Reformed except in the sense that I love expository preaching, preaching against sin and compromise, and believing that "free-will" as taught today gives too many the idea that God is part of a religious buffet. I believe in free-will, but only to the extent that we choose what God offers by grace.

I readily admit I am still figuring things out.

Denise said...


You are right to have reservations re: PCUSA. They really are a liberal denomination. I don't see PCA as too far behind either.

It really is getting more difficult to find a decent church that is biblically solid. I believe baptist churches or baptistic churches are closer to Scripture (depending of course on their position on doctrine---some are way off course either too liberal or too legalistic, but Baptist distinctives hold to the autonomy of the local church--so they are all independant)than most others.

I think the stronger churches will be going to be small and therefore harder to find (no fancy PR to entice the worldlings)---perhaps more word of mouth will be the only way to find them.

The awesome thing is that God is our Great Shepherd and He will find a place for His children to worship, as that is His command. I think many of us are at the point where we are absolutely begging the Lord for a solid church that truly loves HIM and His Word above all things, so its good--we're going back to the Lord for help.