FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 19, number 2, January 10, 2019
“We proclaim Him.” -Colossians 1:28.
A More Focused Ministry for 2019
I flew approximately 185,000 miles in 2018, made nine overseas trips to preach, and traveled across the U.S. preaching on the streets and in churches. And while I love the privilege of preaching overseas and doing whatever I can to encourage and strengthen our brothers and sisters in other nations, I am now convinced that I need a more focused ministry in 2019. Other than two trips to closed countries and one trip to Uganda in January, I am intending to stay home in the United States in 2019. Why and what do I hope to do by God’s grace?
In light of all the massacres over the last several years, the Obergefell Supreme Court ruling which legalized same sex unions, the continued scandals in Washington, the steady infiltration of homosexuality and same sex attraction into the Reformed and evangelical church, the utterly destructive nature of Progressivism which has captured the minds and hearts of the Millennial generation, and the growing, unchecked licentiousness in evangelical churches where people are obviously ignoring the Biblical truth that without holiness no one will see the Lord; I am firmly convinced that we desperately need evangelistic preaching in this country. I know, however, what the missional pundits are saying, that this sort of thing does not work in today’s culture. People could have told Paul the same thing when he embarked on his missionary journeys into utterly pagan cultures. Nothing has changed. People are no different today than they were fifty, one hundred, or one thousand years ago.
If this is all true, and I believe it is, then we still need evangelistic preaching more than ever and this is where I believe I must devote my time in the U.S. This begs the question—what is evangelistic preaching? What were Paul and the other apostles proclaiming? We can summarize by saying that evangelistic preaching is to proclaim the whole counsel of God, focusing on the good news that Jesus Christ was crucified, buried, and was raised from the dead. It is to preach with complete dependence upon the Holy Spirit to bring conviction and conversion. It is to make clear the bigness of the true and living God, touching on His mighty attributes. It is to apply the Law of God to the conscience of the hearers, trusting the Holy Spirit to convince and convict them of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in ungodly ways, and of all the harsh things these ungodly sinners have spoken against God (Jude 15). It is to put forth in a glorious and winsome fashion the unfathomable riches of Christ, the great lover of sinners who gave Himself willingly for all His people. It is to lift up Jesus with great joy—His incarnation, suffering, humiliation, death, resurrection, ascension, and exaltation to the Father’s right hand in glory. It is to preach for a verdict. People must be cut to the quick by the convicting and regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, where they cry out, “What must I do?” It is to persuade people on the spot to call on the name of the Lord. After all, “Today is the day of salvation.”
This is evangelistic preaching. This is the great need of the day. I cannot help but think that the present day situation in today’s church bears an uncanny resemblance to the old Presbyterian Church U.S. in the 1950’s and 60’s from which the PCA was born. I say this because we now hear very similar language coming from a growing number of our churches and pastors. What do I mean? We hear some of our pastors questioning the historicity of Adam and Eve. We find a growing sentiment toward women’s ordination. We hear talk of social justice and Progressive politics which seem to be diverting us from the true gospel of grace. And we now have the effort to mainline perversion through same sex attraction, the new normal, an outright attack on the Biblical family.
When I consider these issues, plus the fact that so many of our church sessions are regularly dealing with members who have on-going problems with pornography, same sex attraction, unbiblical divorce, grown children leaving the faith, fornication, adultery, and so many other sins, I am forced to consider that very possibly our churches are filled with unbelievers. Or at the very least, believers are living far short of all God has for them in Jesus Christ.
This was surely the case in the old PCUS days when Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship (PEF) men like Bill Hill, Arnie Maves, Ben Wilkinson and so many more preached eight day meetings in PCUS congregations. Church members then regularly wondered why these evangelistic meetings were being held at their churches. After all, “Aren’t we all already Christians?” However, usually by Tuesday or Wednesday night of the meetings which began the previous Sunday, many in the congregations were brought to conviction of sin. And by the Friday or Saturday night of these meetings, throughout the PCUS thousands of people were converted. This was the foundation of the PCA, established in 1973.
I am convinced that we must have that kind of preaching again in the PCA and other Presbyterian denominations or we will lose our denominations. The enemy, what I call Neo-liberalism, is already crouching at the door. Our only hope is revival which hopefully and prayerfully will result in God’s people being awakened to the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through them, moving them to become fervent, personal evangelists, resulting in many true conversions, a major infusion of new believers into our congregations.
Unless your church is very unusual, then perhaps you are willing to admit that you are woefully lacking in evangelistic outreach. You probably have very few adult conversions in your church in any one year. Am I right? What is the solution?
I believe we need to get back to what God has always used throughout the history of the church. We need Spirit anointed preaching, over several days, urging our people to attend every meeting, asking the Holy Spirit to convert the lost among us and to revive the saints to personal holiness and evangelistic zeal.
So here’s my plan for 2019. Earlier this week I sent letters through email to over seventy churches, encouraging them to invite me to lead a four day evangelistic preaching meeting for 2019. My modest prayer goal is for five such churches to invite me for these meetings.
—I or one of my colleagues will come to the church six months ahead of the scheduled evangelistic meeting to instruct on Revival Prayer. The congregation will commit to weekly revival prayer for the upcoming evangelistic outreach.
—One of my colleagues will come to the church a week or two before the four day meeting to train the people in personal evangelism. This can be accomplished on a Friday night and Saturday.
—A few days before the four day meeting, my colleagues will come back to the church and lead the congregation in personal evangelism in their community. I will join them during the four day meeting and we will continue evangelistic outreach the entire time of the four day meeting. We will invite any who call on the name of the Lord during our evangelistic efforts, plus any others who have shown interest in the gospel, to join us at the nightly evangelistic and revival preaching services.
—The local church or churches will follow up with discipleship on any who call on the name of the Lord.
Since I am raising my own salary I do not expect an honorarium. I will ask the church to cover the transportation costs of my colleagues and me. An honorarium for my colleagues would be advisable.
I know what many of you are thinking. “This won’t work today. We live in a totally different world.” I know. I get it. But ask yourself this question, “Is your church getting the job done in your present strategy of outreach? Do you really expect a different outcome from what you are now doing to reach people?”
I am very quick to say that unless the Holy Spirit shows up, in response to the prayers of His people, then nothing will happen. No one will be converted, and the church will not be revived. But what if the Spirit does show up? Would this not be glorious?
So, please ask God to give me five such four day meetings in 2019. And then ask for the Holy Spirit to be poured out on the preaching, bringing conversion and revival.
1. This is not to say that I will not engage in personal evangelism or street preaching. I will continue these as well.
2. Sunday morning and evening as well as Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights.