A Field Guide to Evangelism (4/10)
We are to present truth as knowable because of the triune God who is sovereign. If we water down our conception of God to make the gospel message more palatable we will find that, in the end, we are no longer doing true evangelism. We merely market a god of our own invention, attempting to woo people in with a hazy image of an impotent deity.
We have to remember that the people with whom we speak actually believe in God, regardless of the labels they employ. The apostle Paul makes this clear in Romans. God has revealed his invisible attributes to all men – his eternal power and his divine nature – so they are without excuse (Rom 1: 19-20). The principal problem for unbelievers is that they, due to the fall, suppress the knowledge of God and worship creation rather than creator.
When we speak with unbelievers, we must keep in mind that they possess an innate knowledge of God’s existence. Understanding humanity’s innate knowledge of God also helps to explain the campaign against religion in our contemporary culture.
Doug Wilson said there are “two fundamental tenets of true atheism. One: there is no God. Two: I hate him.” Peter Hitchens, brother of the late atheist journalist Christopher Hitchens, describes his personal conversion to Christianity in his book The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me To Faith. Peter Hitchens’ conversion illustrates that belief cannot be dismissed as merely cultural. Both he and his brother rejected the faith of their childhood. But why did Peter return, while others have continued in their rage against the God in whom they don’t believe?
Paul’s account in Romans 1 of man’s implicit knowledge of God is telling. Just compare it to Psalm 19, which says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” What Paul writes in Romans 1 is similar, but the differences are significant. “For the wrath of God,” Paul says, “is revealed from heaven.” For the believer, the heavens display the glory of God. For the unbeliever, the heavens reveal the wrath of God.
This knowledge of God brings a sense of judgment and condemnation for the unbeliever. This is a good thing. It’s actually part of the divine design. That’s why the cosmos is our ally in sharing with skeptics. Both physical nature and human nature point us upward. “God’s kindness,” Paul tells us, leads us “to repentance” (Rom 2: 4). The message of the gospel is that our inner sense that there is a God, and the troubling sense that we have offended him, are both true. And it is to this point that we should direct our witness.
Don’t dilute God in order to make him more marketable. Don’t propagate idolatry. Present the sovereign God of the Bible as the key to understanding the human narrative.
The content is taken from chapter nine of the SBTS Field Guide to Evangelism available in print or as an eBook here.