This is a video of a man that went in to an unreached tribe in indigineous Papau, New Guinea to reach them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. After a couple of months of laboring day by day, preaching and preaching, laying down foundations and explaining the Holy Scriptures progressively, building more and more upon their understanding, planting and watering, finally the Lord reaped an amazing harvest.
You’ll notice he says in the video that he begins by saying he didn’t even mention Jesus for 2 months! -Now, maybe you’re like me, and you’re thinking that this must be a terrible method of evangelism to wait so long to mention the Savior. However, after watching the video and thinking about his method, and the way God gave his revelation to man in the Holy Scriptures, I am seeing it from another perspective. You see, during that time of 2 months, he was laying down foundation Scriptures and laying down solid spiritual foundations to ensure that the people got a clear understanding of the Lord and how He works. He started in the Old Testament and went through progressively, treating the subjects of sin, God’s judgment, atonement, redemption, all from Old Testament stories. By time he was through, the people understood well. And their fallow ground was all broken up. They saw themselves lost, without God, and desperately wanted to know if there was any hope to be reconciled to their Maker. Then, when the man began to tell them about Jesus, they listened. When they heard about the Savior’s blood that made the atonement, and that they could be saved if they believe in Him, immediately they rejoiced, crying “I believe! I believe!” and burst into a wonderful celebration for hours!
This missionary went in to an unreached group that had no understanding of the Scriptures and started where God started in His revelation to man. The Bible, starting with the Old Testament, clearly gives us what we call a “Progressive Revelation”, that is, the fullness of the revelation of the nature of God and of the way He works to save man was being progressively revealed more and more as the Scriptures were being written, culminating to the FULLNESS of divine truth as found in the New Testament Gospel. This missionary followed God’s pattern in starting with this group, starting with creation, and explaining of sin, righteousness, judgment, and prophetic pictures of Christ. This way, by time he reached the Gospel, the people understood it perhaps better than the majority of church-going “Christians” today who never have such foundations laid by the preaching they sit under. They were then ready to receive the Gospel.
Obviously, this missionary brother knew what he was doing. And obviously, many missionaries and evangelists today have NO IDEA what they’re doing -they think they do, but they don’t. For instance, an evangelist preaches to a group of people, and preaches a Gospel message, and then after a 40-60 minute message (or sometimes even less!) he issues an altar call for people to “accept Jesus as their personal Savior”. People respond. They recite the prayer after the evangelist. They are assured that they are saved… but there’s a big problem -they’re NOT saved!!! They will not go on to live a Godly life, they will not hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will not thirst for the milk of the word, they will not go on to spend time in secret prayer, they will not live a holy life in Christ, thus proving that their “experience” was completely spurious and uneffectual to true salvation.
Nowadays, the evangelist or missionary wants to go to a people with very little Gospel knowledge, and preach to them, and perform the tasks of planting the seed, watering the seed, having the seed grow to fruition, and reaping the harvest, ALL in a period of an hour or less! Then they want to go to the next place and boast about how many souls they’ve supposedly saved! But this Gospel business takes time, it takes prayer, it takes patience, it takes rightly dividing and rightly applying the Word of Truth, and when the seed grows, usually slowly but surely, the farmer knows not how, yet rejoices to see first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn, and then the harvest is reaped only when it comes to fruition, that is, when there are genuine evidences of true conversion (Mark 4:27-29). For the Gospel worker to reap an immature harvest will result in total loss of any possible lasting fruit!
This is what’s going on today. The seed is planted, watered, expected to grow, and harvested in one short message (and at that, it’s usually a shallow message that conveniently leaves out the preaching of the Law and holiness and justice and wrath of God, and of clearly explaining the work and satisfaction of Christ). And the harvest that is reaped is generally a bunch of false converts that had no deep work of the Spirit in their hearts to break the stubborn will of depraved sinners and supernaturally draw them to Christ by the revelation of divine faith to their hearts. Truly, the results that modern evangelism gets is generally a harvest of tares that will ultimately be gathered in bundles and burned in the fire (Matthew 13:40). The converts from these huge campaigns show no neccesary signs of genuine conversion according to the Word of God. Therefore, most modern evangelism doesn’t impress me one bit. Rather, it grieves me tremendously. It has done great damage to the professing church and polluted the house of God with worldly hypocrites that honor God with thier mouths, but have hearts that love the things of this world and are far from Him.
Biblical evangelism involves preaching of the whole counsel of God -even those parts of that counsel that carnal men who love their sin (and that don’t want to change) like to hear. And it involves making sure the sinner realizes he’s LOST before explaining to him the way to be FOUND. It involves teaching sinners that they are alienated from the life of God and will perish in their sin, making sure they understand the disease of their sin before revealing to them the cure and remedy of the Savior. And before a soul can be truly converted and begotten from above, and come to true “repentance unto life”, he has to not only acknowledge that he’s a sinner, but he has to have a spiritual revelation by the power of the Holy Spirit causing him to FEEL his sin. Godly sorrow works true repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10). Without Godly sorrow over sin, there cannot be true repentance.
This is why our message should lay down foundations of spiritual truth that are divinely orchestrated to pave the way for the Gospel, the reasoning with sinners of “sin, righteousness, and temperance” (Acts 24:25), using the principles of the Law and of the nature of God in His essential and prominent attributes, giving them an understanding of who God is, and who they are in His sight. Maybe then sinners will once again start trembling in the holy fear of God under our preaching, feel that they’re actually lost, and cry out, “what shall we do to be saved”. After all, the Holy Spirit came to convict the world of “sin, righteousness, and judgment to come” in order that He may then “glorify Christ” by revealing Him in His glorious redemptive work in pardoning guilty sinners and imparting to them His pure righteousness (John 16:8, 16:14, respectively). The message that evangelists and missionaries should be proclaiming to the lost is the same message the Holy Spirit came to anoint and make effectual in the hearts of men, a message that includes these essential elements of Scriptural truth.
Of course, doing this might mean we actually have to take time to deal with sinners. It means we might have to invest ourselves into their enlightenment, and deny ourselves in order to serve them until the Holy Spirit sovereignly grants them this understanding. And, when doing so, we need to proclaim a Biblically balanced message of the whole counsel of God and not just a half-gospel of all “mercy, love, and happiness” such as is common in modern evangelism (though we must preach that too). And it may mean that we have to intercede for them, pray for them, and wait for the Holy Spirit to open their blind eyes and impart new life from above before we try to reap the harvest and add them to the membership of the church and accept them as brethren in Christ.
Now, this is not to say that the Holy Spirit can’t do a quick work in their hearts, and convince them of sin, cause them to bow the knee of their stubborn will before the Lorship of Chirst, impart to them saving faith and regenerate their hearts in what seems like an instant. I know He can do that. He’s God! “All things are possible with God”. However, this is not usually the way He operates. Usually, God is pleased in His sovereign pleasure and infinite wisdom to use intelligent Scriptural means to obtain the end. Therefore, what I’m saying is that we need to come alongside what God is doing and work with Him, joining the mind of the Spirit in evangelism, using the same means of Scriptural truth that the Spirit Himself proclaims directly to the hearts, and in our message proclaim by the preaching of the Gospel the same thing that the Holy Spirit is silently proclaiming to the hearts of the men listening. Then we will find that our message will come not in word only, but in demonstration of the Spirit and power and deep conviction (1 Thes. 1:5).
And I would also like to add: it’s not always one man’s job to do the whole labor of planting, watering, and reaping. “I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Cor. 3:6). I wholeheartedly believe in itinerant evangelistic ministry that does a lot of planting and some watering and very little reaping, where the evangelist cannot spend much personal time with sinners. Jesus Himself did it, never staying in one place long enough to establish a recognized local fellowship! However, even then, Biblical principles need to be followed, and the results cannot be forced. Unripe fruit must not be plucked immaturely. Because then it dies. And it rots. And it stinks up the professing church.
This is why I like the method of the missionary in this video. He takes his time. He makes sure they understand that they’re lost sinners and feel their sin before he reveals the redemptive work of the Savior. He made sure they were “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” before he served up the Gospel bread from Heaven and living water by which they would be filled. And then he didn’t need to lead them into a silly little prayer to “Accept Jesus” and confess Him with thier mouths. Instead, they believed and confessed and rejoiced freely by spontaneous faith, not by human manipulation!
Fellow preachers, evangelists, missionaries! We need to get back to doing our part faithfully, and stop trying to steal God’s part in evangelism. Our part is to faithfully present the whole counsel of God, to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, to faithfully proclaim and represent the Gospel truthfully. Then, it’s God’s part to give the increase, to regenerate hearts, to quicken dead sinners, to impart new life and save souls. Get your hands off the Ark of God, it’s a holy thing! Your job is simply to carry the holy message with reverance and Godly fear, and it’s God’s job to back it up with power! You preach the Gospel of God, and God will ensure it produces the results that He has soveriengly ordained to come to pass.
In Christ -Josef Urban