Tag Archives: Peter

Whitefield Stirs Peter’s Meditations on Evangelism

This post was written by my close friend Peter N. He is currently at teachers college in Ottawa. What you will read below is an inspiring quote on Whitefield’s evangelistic zeal followed by an insightful meditation on personal evangelism.

Reading about Whitefield

I have endeavoured to pick up where I left off a year ago and finish reading Volume 2 of Arnold Dallimore’s biography of George Whitefield. There is a quote at the beginning of chapter 4 that caught my attention.

The Quote:

“Whitefield was the very first Englishman who seems to have thoroughly understood what Dr. Chalmers aptly called the aggressive system. He was the first to see that Christ’s ministers must do the work of fishermen. They must not wait for souls to come to them, but must go after souls, and ‘compel them to come in.’ He did not sit tamely by his fire-side…mourning over the wickedness of the land. He went forth to beard the devil in his high places. He attacked sin and wickedness face to face and gave them no peace…In short, he set on foot a system of action, which up to his time, had been comparatively unknown in this country, but a system which, once commenced, has never ceased to be employed…” Bishop J. C. Ryle in Christian Leaders of the 18th Century.

This quote inspired the following meditation on evangelism:

Indeed, if we really are convinced that God has His elect in the earth, and believe that to be a truth not to be denied, how are we actively seeking to win His elect over to Christ?

The temptation is to lean toward the strain of hyper-Calvinism, which says that if God elects His children, He will do so with or without our help, for God needs no aid. This tends toward a particular streak of apathy and laziness in terms of speaking the gospel to our fellow-man. The default position of our attitude towards the lost inherently, whether we are aware of it or not, is to think that if God will save them, He will save them, and this is the key thought, “But not through me.”

But this is not to be for the Christian!

Other related streams of thought revolve around this poisonous doctrine. The thought is always, “God, send someone else to tell this person about the gospel,” when God’s Spirit is clearly telling you to speak of Christ. Another subtle thought is to say, “I’ll simply live such a good life around this person that they will inevitably ask me what is this hope I cling to.”

There are two objections to this that come immediately to mind. First, has someone ever actually asked you this question? I think if we were honest most of us would admit not many have asked such a question of us. A corollary question to this one is: If we were really living as Christians as we ought, might there be more questions asked of us by our unbelieving friends? Perhaps the reason we never get asked to give a reason for the hope that we have is because we are not truly living out the called out, separated lives we are supposed to, as saints of God.

The second objection has to do with the very nature of saving faith. How did you become saved? It could not have been through merely the exemplary life of a Christian. Such a life may have reinforced the leading you had towards Christ, but was it not foremost the proclamation of the gospel to you that you believed? Is it not the belief in the essential doctrines of the gospel that makes you a believer?

So, this brings us to the point of this discussion. We must proclaim the gospel to unbelievers. We must open our mouths and speak of Christ to them. No doubt, the testimony of our lives insofar as it is consistent with the Word of God will bolster the testimony of the gospel. But the gospel’s proclamation to repent and believe is the way God saves. The person must hear the gospel. The Spirit must grant saving faith to that person as the gospel is preached to them.

A Challenge this Christmas season

This holiday season there will be many opportunities to speak of Christ to those around us. May we not enter into that dangerous strain of hyper-Calvinism and all its subtle implications and outworkings in our lives. Lord, loosen our tongues to boldly speak of Christ to the lost. For how can they believe in someone they have never heard proclaimed to them? (Rom 10.14)

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The Importance of Praying for Open Doors

This post was written by my good friend Peter N. He is a faithful man who loves Christ. I asked him to write this post after watching him faithfully evangelize at a restaurant this past weekend. I have learned much from him and I hope you will too. In this post he shares the story of what happened while attending my highschool alumni basketball game. This story serves as a great reminder of the importance of praying for open doors (and also attempting to turn conversations toward Christ). I trust you will profit from reading it.

Unexpected turn of events

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to join Steve F., John M., Paul M., and Georgie M. to a yearly alumni basketball game in Listowel, Ontario, where they grew up and went to high school. The players were made up of past and present students of Listowel District Secondary School who played basketball. After the game, the tradition is to eat dinner at a particular restaurant. I had personally not planned on attending this event, but in God’s sovereignty I went along with them.

Praying for open doors

Paul M. had prayed before the game for evangelistic opportunities throughout the day. Once again the five of us prayed before dinner in the car for doors to open to share the gospel during dinner. The Lord answered us.

Discerning the situation

We entered the restaurant and only three of the players were already seated, T, S, and K. Once seated next to them we began to engage in small talk with the three who were there, snacking on peanuts and waiting for others to arrive. Others began to arrive while I was intentionally probing the three to see if a conversation would develop where the gospel could be presented. Nothing seemed to be going anywhere with K and T (they were not that talkative), but I began to have a conversation with S (who was quite talkative), asking about his work, life, and family.

The Lord opens the door

By this time, most had arrived, were seated, and we had ordered our food. As I continued to ask S about his family he mentioned his sister on an exchange program in another country. He remarked how she would come back next year “guaranteed.” That word struck me, guaranteed. “There really are no guarantees in life,” I thought. I proceeded to say that to him hoping that it would lead to a spiritual conversation. Thankfully, it did. He responded by asserting that if there are no guarantees in life, how can that statement be a guarantee? He was right. But the statement is still true from a human perspective. We as humans can make no guarantees apart from the promises of God. In that sense there are no guarantees in life. I asked him, “What do you think happens to you when you die?” That began an hour-long dialogue between him, Paul M., John M., and me.

He claimed to be a good person and on that basis God would accept him. He was skeptical of the exclusivity of Christianity and the Bible’s claims. He argued that he could not simply accept our testimony without having studied them himself. Paul M. clearly described the gospel to him. Paul M. challenged him to repent and believe the gospel, and by waiting he was actively rejecting the gospel. He needed to make a decision now. He chose to reject the gospel, excusing himself by stating he was going to wait for it to be revealed to him. In the meantime, he would continue searching for truth and be a good person.

I challenged him to search for the truth; not to dismiss the claims of the Bible and Christ without first having studied them himself, and without bringing presuppositions to the text. I urged him to read The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel because it adequately explains the history behind the formation of the canon. Steve F. suggested he read The Reason for God by Tim Keller. This is another excellent book, which highlights the rationality of believing in God and especially the God of the Bible. He said he would read them. I pray he does. I got his e-mail address to follow-up with him. I will in the coming weeks.

It all started with prayer

It all started with the prayers in the car, before and after the game. The Spirit gave us the willingness and intentionality to proclaim the gospel to S, not to mention in the hearing of T and K. The Lord was sovereign. He answered our prayers. He gave us the boldness we needed. To Him belongs the glory forever and ever.