An Expositional Bible Study of I Thessalonians Chapter Two
Dr. Don Jasmin
Intro: The desire and longing of every believer should be the winning of lost men and women to Christ—I Cor.9:22. God’s divinely-appointed means whereby this goal is to be achieved is evangelism. Under the guise of an expedient and ecumenical evangelistic cover, however, Satan is seeking to dilute and destroy biblical evangelism by pawning off his deceptive counterfeits.
It is imperative, therefore, that believers recognize the marks of genuine evangelism. In I Thessalonians chapter two, the Apostle Paul delineates the characteristics of “model” evangelism which serve as a pattern, yardstick, and standard for evangelistic efforts today.
1. Model evangelism is controversial evangelism. Paul states in I Thessalonians 2:1-2, that he preached the “Gospel of God” boldly with “much contention,” not “pleasing men” nor using “flattering words.” In Acts 17:1-9, where the historical background of the Thessalonian church is given, as Paul preached the Gospel,“ a great multitude” of “devout Greeks” believed the Gospel. However, certain rabble-rousers “set the city in an uproar,” assaulting the house of Jason and claiming that Paul and his companions were “turning the world upside down.”
Almost everywhere Paul traveled, three results inevitably occurred: (1) People were converted; (2) His preaching caused controversy and debate among the ungodly, resulting in persecution of his ministry, (3) N.T. churches were established and built up in the faith. The so-called “positive” gospel which avoids controversy with depraved human nature and apostate false religion is not the genuine Gospel, it is another gospel—Gal. 1:6-9.
The negative elimination of evil habits and poor mannerisms—abrasiveness, rudeness, etc.,—and the positive addition of spiritual qualities—compassion, tenderness, etc.,—will aid in the Gospel’s presentation. The intrinsic truths of the Gospel message—the depravity of man, the deity of Christ, the distinctiveness of Christ’s shed blood as the only atonement for sin etc.,—however, are an offence to the unbelieving world. When faithfully presented, these truths will save those who believe, and also result in opposition for faithful witnesses.
2. Model evangelism is clean evangelism (I Thess. 2:3,6,10). Clean evangelism contains three elements: holiness, honesty, and humility. Paul’s evangelism exemplifies all three elements. Paul’s evangelism was holy (not of “uncleanness” vs. 3). He declared that “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe” (vs. 10). Paul’s evangelistic testimony was not marred by immoral escapades with secretaries with whom he committed adultery!
Paul’s evangelism was honest (“not of deceit…nor in guile” vs. 3, see also II Cor. 4:2). A preacher who uses worldly gimmicks to gain mass crowds and build expensive buildings, leads the church into bankruptcy when the finances falter and the crowds diminish, and then suddenly leaves, is guilty of dishonest evangelism!
Paul’s evangelism was also humble (“nor of men sought we glory” 2:6.) Dr. Ford Porter, author of the world’s most widely distributed tract, “God’s Simple Plan of Salvation,” was awarded an honorary doctorate by a Fundamentalist school. When asked to make his acceptance speech he simply said, “Ford Porter, only a sinner saved by grace,” and promptly sat down. While Paul magnified his office (Rom. 11:13), he never forgot his servant’s role (Rom. 1:1), referring to himself as the chiefest of sinners (I Tim. 1:15).
3. Model Evangelism is clear evangelism (“neither at any time used we flattering words” 2:5, see also I Cor. 2:4). Paul did not present the Gospel in a “subtle” manner, like many preachers and religious musicians today, so that men had to figure out what he proclaimed. Paul’s message was plain and clear. The redemptive truths of the Gospel were simply and distinctively delineated by the Apostle Paul; there was no uncertain sound in his trumpet (I Cor. 14:8). At a church where this editor pastored, he had three words inscribed on the pulpit where he could see them every time he preached: “MAKE IT PLAIN!”
4. Model evangelism is compassionate evangelism: (“being affectionately desirous of you…ye were dear unto us” 2:8). Paul’s evangelism was motivated by the love of Christ (II Cor. 5:14), bathed in tears (Acts 20:19 & 31) and saturated with prayer (Rom. 10:1).
The truths presented in John R. Rice’s book, The Soul-Winners Fire, need to be practiced anew by a cold, calloused, indifferent generation of believers. The world has never more sorely needed Holy Spirit compelled and filled believers to go forth with broken, weeping hearts for souls than now. Ps. 126:5 is still true that “they that sow in tears shall reap in joy.”
5. Model evangelism is comforting evangelism (“comforted you” 2:11): Biblical evangelism not only uncovers and exposes sin; it presents eternal hope for sinners and edifying help for saints. Model evangelism brings a comforting message of forgiveness to despairing sinners, and also conveys peace and tranquility to battle-weary saints.
Dr. G. Campbell Morgan, s great Bible expositor of the early 20th century, said upon nearing the end of his life’s ministry, “If I had my life to live over, I would spend more time giving comfort,” Critics may scoff, but one of this preacher’s chief goals in his itinerant meetings is to give comfort and encouragement to pastors and churches who are facing adversity and trials.
6. Model evangelism is centered and concentrated evangelism: centered in the person of Christ and concentrated in the ministry of the local church (“And ye brethren became followers of the churches of God which… are in Christ Jesus” 2:14). Model evangelism centers its endeavors around Christ’s redemptive work and the great doctrinal themes of the Scriptures via church ministries that are the “pillar and ground of the truth”—I Tim. 3:16.
There is a near famine for the genuine kind of evangelism practiced by the Apostle Paul in his ministry. Satan’s counterfeits of economic evangelism, ecumenical evangelism, esteem evangelism, emergent church evangelism, expedient evangelism, external evangelism and other pseudo-evangelistic methods [no inner heart repentance required] are seeking to snuff out the model evangelism practiced in the N. T.
7. Finally, model evangelism is conserved evangelism: (“For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? For ye are our glory and joy” 2:19-20). When this evangelist leads someone to Christ, he frankly tells them two things before he departs: (1) If this person has been genuinely converted, there will be longing for the Word of God. (2) The new convert will desire to experience fellowship with other believers and will attend a N.T. church the coming Sunday, if that is at all possible.
New converts should be immediately contacted again within the next day or so with a conversion affirmation visit. They should also be immediately enrolled in a new-converts course and contacted briefly again before the forthcoming Sunday church services.
In a day when Satan is promoting a multitude of superficial substitutes or simply no evangelism, there is a great need for the “model” evangelism practiced by the Apostle Paul among pastors, evangelists, and local church ministries. D.J.
Also in this issue:
|Editorial – February – March 2011 The Fundamentalist Digest; Permission granted for reprint, so long as proper credit is given.|