How to Change the World
There is a clear method outlined in Scripture and used effectively by missionaries every day, and it's the same way you can use today to change the world.
Imagine that you were deployed to a part of the world where the vast majority of the population was raised in the Bahá'í Faith. You, as an ambassador of Christ, recognize that you have a responsibility to begin to tell these people the Gospel. How do you do it?
Typically in these areas, it begins with the setting up of small groups of individuals. Through much prayer, the goal is to get a few individuals to regularly attend a Bible study. Then, the work of discipleship begins.
Through this class, the individuals are taught about the one true God, they are taught of God’s goodness and the problem that this poses for humanity (since we are not good), and they are taught about Jesus and the Good News of what He did for us and what that means for us today.
Why is this method used?
Paul addresses this in Romans 10:14-15 (NASB)- “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!’”
When we find ourselves in a culture that is effectively “unchurched”, we must become teachers of the good things of God. His argument is simple and clear. No one can believe unless they know what to believe in. No one can know what to believe in unless they are taught, and no one can be taught without a teacher.
Now, you may be thinking to yourself that the role of teacher is ultimately that of the Holy Spirit. That is true, but this does not mean that human action is not part of the chosen method. Indeed, take a look at the Great Commission:
“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Jesus, Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)
Notice what Jesus is saying here. He’s saying that because all authority has been given to Him, we can now go out and make disciples. It’s because He is on His throne that we are able to do such things, and furthermore He promises to be with us in these efforts. The sovereignty of God is not an excuse not to make disciples… it is the reason why we are commanded to make disciples.
The Biblical method of evangelism requires more than just platitudes and canned statements. I think this is the biggest disconnect between the American Church today and society.
Let’s go back to our hypothetical scenario. You are in a society that is almost entirely of the Bahá'í Faith. Why would you not make a big sign that just said, “Jesus died for our sins.” Why would that be ineffective? Isn’t there Truth in that statement?
Well, let me put it this way. Imagine you drove by and saw me standing on the street corner with a sign that read “Thomas Edison invented the Electric Pen.” Would that be impactful in any way? Isn’t it a true statement? Sure, but here’s the problem- you vaguely know who Thomas Edison is, you don’t likely know much about the Electric Pen and so you would just be left with a sense of “so what?”.
This is what would happen if you tried to reach an unchurched community with the “Jesus died for our sins” sign. Most people vaguely know who Jesus is, but they almost definitely don’t understand the true nature of sin and they’re likely going to be left with an overall sense of “so what?”.
This is why it is critical that we do not separate evangelism from discipleship. They go hand-in-hand.
The reformers outlined saving faith as having the following three aspects.
Notitia: This refers to the “information” or “truth claims” of faith. In other words, what or in whom do we believe? The obvious answer to that in terms of saving faith is Jesus Christ and the God of the Bible. If individuals have no concept of these Truths, then they obviously can’t believe in them.
Assensus: This is the actual belief part of faith. It’s a conviction that those facts from the notitia are actually true and factual.
Fiducia: This refers to the trust and reliance that is the fruit of humble assensus and notita. Demons know that God is real and who Jesus is, but they do not humbly bow before and serve Him. Merely believing that Jesus is Our Lord is not salvific- we must seek to serve Him as Our Lord, Though we will certainly do so imperfectly, that is still our main aim.
Until recent history, America was a largely Christian nation or at least a “churched” nation. According to a Pew Research Study, as recently as 1992, 70% of the population attended a weekly church service. Today, the number of weekly church attendance is down to just 36%- and that’s across all religions. For individuals under 30, that number goes down to 17% (and remember that’s across all religions).
There was a time in our society when you could assume the individual you were talking to understood basic Christian doctrine. That time has simply passed.
While it may not be the Bahá'í Faith, the reality is that our hypothetical scenario has actually happened. You, right now, find yourself in a place where very few know anything about the Christian faith. As an ambassador of Christ, how are you to respond?
Our Lord has given us the command… go make disciples!
Through much prayer, get a few individuals to regularly attend a Bible study. Then, prayerfully teach the core aspects of the Christian faith in love. As part of that discipleship, faithfully proclaim the Gospel.
We’re putting together a slew of resources that will launch next week to help you get started! However, don’t wait on us! One thing that you could do today is join us as a part of Mission Upstate.