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Sunday, February 28, 2016 pm                                    Evangelism Index

 

EVANGELISM 2016
Obstacles to winning souls – Without (2)

 

As we continue to emphasize the importance of evangelism in our lives (the 4th Sunday night of each month), the past few lessons we have been discussing some obstacles to this important work.   3 months ago we noted some internal hindrances including misconceptions about the gospel, faulty attitudes (lack of boldness & zeal, discouragement), and faulty motives (prejudice, willful ignorance, losing sight of eternity, laziness, etc.).  Last month we began addressing external obstacles – that is, hindrances from without the body of Christ that we must be aware of and strive to overcome.   In that lesson we noticed how worldliness (including materialism), busyness, and our impersonal society can become hurdles that we need to overcome if we are to reach the lost.   Tonight, we want to continue this study by noticing some more obstacles without that hinder.

 I.                     Broken lives

a.       This world is broken in so many ways.  There seems to be a great emphasis on self.  The moral compass seems to have been damaged.  There are problems with broken families, unscriptural marriages, addictions, etc.   Sometimes, people’s problems stand in their way of turning to God. The problems themselves can be overwhelming.  At times they lead to attitudes that are difficult to overcome- bitterness toward God, doubts, despair, etc. 

b.       There is no easy answer when you are faced with such.   As Christians there are things we need to keep in mind:

                                                   i.      Continue to be the godly example they need - there is nothing better than that when you are dealing with those who are hurting.  Perhaps by your good works, perhaps they will glorify God in this – Matthew 5:16

                                                 ii.      You have to love them!  Genuine love cares and has compassion.  Again, consider the example of Jesus who had compassion – Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 18:27, 20:34, etc.
Jude 22 tells us to have compassion on some.

                                                iii.      Try to be a friend to them.  Be there for them.  BUT, be cautious and don’t get caught up in sinful conduct if you are dealing with that -

                                                iv.      Be careful in your judgments!  As we have already noted, Jesus was harshly and wrongly judged by egotistical leaders.  He warned us in Matthew 7:1-5 to be careful in judging others.  While we know this doesn’t mean we never judge, but it does mean we need to not render harsh or prejudicial judgments.

                                                  v.      Pray for them.  They need the prayers of the righteous – James 5:16.  Matthew 5:43-44 – while dealing with enemies, it also would apply to those struggling. 

                                                vi.      Be patient – problems don’t go away overnight.  1 Corinthians 13:4 – love suffers long. 
1 Thessalonians 5:14 calls for us to be patient with all.
Colossians 3:12-13 – put on…longsuffering, bearing with one another….

 II.                   Religious confusion 

a.       Too many choices, misconceptions about God – who is God, does He exist, bitterness toward Him; ecumenicalism even among believers in Jesus Christ.  But today we are seeing more and more people who do not believe in Jesus and the Bible.  In 2014 the Pew Forum released a study that shows in America, believers in Jesus (the broad perspective of so-called “christianity”) had decreased to just above 70%.  That was nearly an 8% decline in just 7 years.[1] In this same study, the unaffiliated increased by more than 8% and other religions (various world religions) increased to 5.9% from 4.7%.[2]   In our midst, more and more people are questioning the Bible and even faith in Jesus Christ

b.       We must realize that it does matter – 2 John 9 – whoever transgresses and does NOT abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God.

c.        Live the Bible – you influence is the best “Bible the world will ever read”.     We need to live consistently with the teachings of God’s word. 
Don’t conform to false teaching out of fear - John 9:22, (parents of blind man), Galatians 2:11-13 (Peter and others hypocritical).

d.       Learn the Bible – 2 Cor. 10:4-5 – the weapons of our warfare cast down arguments.  These would include God’s word.  1 Peter 3:15 calls for us to be ready to give a defense for our hope. 
1 John 4:1 tells us to test the spirits whether they are of God – this requires turning to God’s word.
Eph. 4:14-15 speaks of us being grounded so that we are not tossed to and fro…

In this, you need to know what you are talking about.  If you do not know the answer to questions, be honest.  But be willing to do some homework and get back with them.

e.       Take time to learn about other religious systems –
2 Corinthians 2:11 tells us to not be ignorant of the devices of Satan.  He uses false doctrine to deceive. 
   There are resources available to learn the truth.  There are brethren who have studied virtually every denomination, and world religion. 
The more you learn about them, the stronger your faith will become.
Taking time to learn what the world believes will help you in leading conversations to the truth.
Jesus with the Samaritan woman led her toward the true Messiah (John 4:21-26)
Paul, in Athens, was somewhat familiar with some of the idols.  He even quoted from some of their poets and philosophers (Acts 17:22-31).
Paul was “qualified” to effectively address the problems of Judaism because of his former life and learning. 
ALSO, the more you know, the less likely you will be to make false claims in ignorance OR to offend them by saying or doing something that is offensive to particular faiths.  (Remember 1 Corinthians 9:22-23)
SOME will say, “All I need to do is learn the Bible and then I can answer whatever arguments are given against truth.”  That is a true statement when dealing with specific teachings, but in reaching those of other faiths, it is only half of the equation.   The more you know about someone who believes differently, the better you can anticipate what they will say and the better you can prepare (think of one who is preparing a religious debate – to be effective he needs to know what his opponent believes so that he can prepare for it and not be blindsided).

f.         Be kind in you dealing with others.   Hateful statements are not helpful.

 III.                  Casualness

a.       Another hindrance to genuine obedience today is the prevalence of casualness in virtually every aspect of our lives.  It is seen in what we wear, our conversations and demeanor. 
Religion, even among professed believers in Jesus and the gospel, has not helped as they have been at the forefront of offering a more casual experience in serving God, even to the point of mocking those who are not like them (e.g. “a church for people who don’t like church”, “come as you are”, etc.).  
It is also seen in one’s approach to the word of God.  Such can lead to a skewed concept of God (disregarding His seriousness and awesomeness).  When such attitudes are prevalent, it can cause some to view scripture with less reverence and thus not necessary. 

b.       We have to show that God demands reverence. 
Serve Him with reverence and godly fear – Heb. 12:28-29. 
The best way to do this is by example – let them see that you are serious about following God at all times.  Let them see a godly demeanor in your worship and even in your religious discussions.  

 IV.                 It’s unpopular

a.       As Christians are expected to be kind with our words and conduct – Colossians 4:6 speaks of our speech being seasoned with salt.   Love is kind (1 Cor. 13:4).  

b.       But our society has created an environment where you cannot even discuss controversial matters without being labeled.  This causes many to fear and not stand up for the truth.  In this, political correctness is a scourge on society.   

c.        Why?  Because the truth in God’s word is not popular right now.   Many of the factors we have addressed have led to a culture that villainizes strict adherence to the Bible.  Some of its teaching is politically incorrect.  And when you try to stand up for the truth, you might face scoffing, labeling, other hateful responses or perhaps even worse.  
For one to completely accept the truth of God’s word comes with consequences.  We might have to give up friends or even family when we choose our Lord (cf. Matthew 10:37-38). 

d.       This attitude is not new as it existed in the first century.  Consider what Jesus faced for what He taught.  Consider what Paul endured – 2 Cor. 11:24-28.  1 Cor. 4:13, Paul spoke of him and others having been made as the filthy of the world, the offscouring of all things.

e.       We must still be firm, but loving as we show them the truth.   Be compassionate and sympathetic (as mentioned above) with the apprehension and fear of others, but DON’T compromise!

f.         We have to show the world that it is worth it.  Demonstrate the rewards of doing the right thing. 

 

These are some of the obstacles we face in evangelism.   I am certain we could add others to the list – both within and without.  Our point in addressing obstacles is to be aware that they do exist.  1) With trying to reach the lost, you will face resistance and objections.  They are real and they need to be addressed.   2) We CANNOT pretend like they don’t exist and expect others to just sweep them aside without a valid explanation. 
3) We must realize that there is also a proper way to deal with these things which we have noticed.  4) The improper way to deal with them is to do nothing! 

May we pray to God to help us do what we can to reach as many as we can, even if it means overcoming hindrances.  Think about it.

  



[1] "America’s Changing Religious Landscape." Pew Research Centers Religion Public Life Project RSS. 2015. Web. 26 Feb. 2016.

[2] Ibid