There is much to be said about the state of evangelism in the American Christian church today. I am convinced we are a polarized community, with some of us embracing a fact-focused/used-car-salesman approach, and the rest of us abdicating our evangelistic responsibilities altogether (because we’re weary and ashamed of the fact-focused/used-car-salesman approach!). This is unacceptable. We need a love for humanity. But before we can love people well, we must love God passionately as that relationship will “set love in right order within us.” (Song of Solomon 2.4~Latin Vulgate) I am convinced that to the extent that we love God passionately, we can declare him rightly. When Jesus has been reduced to a doctrine or an ideology, we’re left with the debate approach to evangelism, which most of us avoid because we either don’t consider ourselves qualified to debate cynics or we just don’t like the idea. But if we truly grasped the wonder of Christ and the salvation he has brought us, it might be easier to not only see humanity through his eyes, but speak the Gospel to humanity in a more effective manner.
In a recent post, Ray Ortlund quoted this transcendent passage from Calvin’s Institutes. Perhaps this sort of “Gospel wakefulness,” this understanding of Christ in relation to LIFE, would not only inspire us personally but also shape our message of reconciliation…
“We see that our whole salvation and all its parts are comprehended in Christ. We should therefore take care not to derive the least portion of it from anywhere else. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that it is of him. If we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, they will be found in his anointing. If we seek strength, it lies in his dominion; if purity, in his conception; if gentleness, it appears in his birth. For by his birth he was made like us in all respects, that he might learn to feel our pain. If we seek redemption, it lies in his passion; if acquittal, in his condemnation; if remission of the curse, in his cross; if satisfaction, in his sacrifice; if purification, in his blood; if reconciliation, in his descent into hell; if mortification of the flesh, in his tomb; if newness of life, in his resurrection; if immortality, in the same; if inheritance of the Heavenly Kingdom, in his entrance into heaven; if protection, if security, if abundant supply of all blessings, in his Kingdom; if untroubled expectation of judgment, in the power given to him to judge. In short, since rich store of every kind of good abounds in him, let us drink our fill from this fountain, and from no other.”
John Calvin, Institutes, 2.16.19.