We are a confusing country to many looking on from the outside. Our football pitches are measured in yards and our rugby fields in metres. We take our beer in pints and our petrol in litres. (Yet we measure vehicle efficiency in miles per (Imperial) gallon – what?!). It rather threatens to make a mockery of the ‘united’ part of the UK, doesn’t it?
Yes, it’s confusing all right.
Equally, within the church in Britain there is confusion in how we should go about evangelism.
I Don’t Want An Argument
“You can’t argue someone into the Kingdom of God,” says Jim at pastorate to Bill, arguing that argument is not a valid method by which to bring someone to believe.
Bill is stumped by this. He has been at his local with his mates a couple of times in the last few months and on occasion the topic of conversation had turned to his faith. His friends’ curiosity, thinly veiled behind their cheap mockery, has led them to question Bill about why he’s a Christian.
Bill has gone home from these times at the pub thinking about what he can say. “Why did I become a Christian?” he asks himself, hoping to uncover some little gem of brilliance he’s temporarily forgotten with which to respond to his mates.
“If only I could find that one thing, the knockout punch, the explosive-statement. I’d throw out the pin, toss my hand grenade-of-a-thought into the middle of the group, and just walk away.”
A slight, wry smile crosses Bill’s face as he visualises the feeling he’d get from this. But the trouble is, Bill is stuck. He can’t find that grenade.
The Nature Of The Battle
I wonder if you can relate to Bill?
The Demolition Squad is called the Demolition Squad for two reasons. Firstly, army demolition experts – “sappers” – in WWII were cool (see ‘The Guns of Navarone’ and every other war film of daring courage). Secondly, we believe that there are good reasons to believe in Jesus, and that these good reasons can have an explosive effect in bringing down arguments that obstruct someone’s view of Jesus.
But to answer Jim’s question, ‘Can you argue someone into the Kingdom of God?’ – of course you can’t. The Holy Spirit brings a person to repentance.
You cannot argue someone into the Kingdom of God because argument starts with an arguer, that is, a person. Imperfect little old me will never, ever be a strong enough foundation to support a perfect conclusion: God.
The Bible talks of reality in the language of two kingdoms: a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of light. These two spiritual kingdoms are at war and we are in the middle of the battle.
How do we know this? God told us. In fact, that’s how we know anything. How do we know about truth, right and wrong, the afterlife etc.? God revealed it to us.
This revelation comes to us in a few ways, but ultimately the greatest revelation is that God himself came to us in the person of Jesus. It’s rather blatant if you think about it. God, in order to get us to know, came and told us.
We know God because God revealed Himself to us. We know He wants others to know what we know because he told us that very thing. [1 Timothy 2:4]
The starting point of everything – including all knowledge – is God. As the Bible says, “The fear of the Lord is beginning of knowledge.” [Proverbs 1:7]
C.S. Lewis puts it brilliantly.
“I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun his risen: not only because I see it, but by it I see everything else.”
The important thing for Bill to remember, and every Christian going about the work of an evangelist, is that our fight is not “against flesh and blood” – we are in a spiritual battle. [Ephesians 6:12]
Because the starting point of everything is God our strategy is to ask people to repent. We show our conduct before others, and our love towards our brothers and sisters in Christ, and use our arguments against false knowledge, in order to make Jesus visible. We present Jesus to people and then we ask them to repent.
We cannot know anything apart from God and we cannot know God apart from repentance.
Our arguments are weapons that we deploy in our God-given arsenal to shatter the deceptive ploys of the enemy. The arguments don’t win the war; Jesus wins the war. Quite simply, our arguments help people to see the victory.
The next time you’re at your local, and your friend asks you about your faith, smile, pray, and enjoy the beginning of the great task of helping introduce your friend to the Saviour of world. Relax. Victory is not something to be won at the pub, but something to be shared.
Oh, and come back here from time to time to pick up few hand grenades to help you along the way.