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Your Thoughts/My Thoughts: “Pushy” Christianity

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Last Friday I posed these questions: Can someone be too forceful during an evangelistic encounter? Is it possible to “shove” salvation down someone’s throat? Where does one draw the line between tactful and tacky?
null Unfortunately, readers of this blog chose not to answer, but I did ask this question to other evangelists and here is what they said:

One man said this:
According to Luke 14:22-23 (NASB) “And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled.”
null We are to “compel” them to come in.

According to Websters, this is what compel means: to drive or urge with force, or irresistibly; to constrain; to oblige; to necessitate, either by physical or moral force.

If we are obedient to the command to “compel” them to come in, it sounds to me like we [should be] doing that. However I would dare not rob the influence of the Holy Spirit that does the “compelling” through us!
Another said:
…I think that people should realize that reality is forced upon all of us. We have to eat, drink, exercise, etc., in order to function in society. Gravity, aerodynamics, electricity, and other physical laws are all forced realities. God’s existence and Hell’s existence are no different. Reality does not care what you think. If you ignore reality–in any situation–you pay a hefty price. Always.

And this from another guy:
In all reality, when open air preaching, I have heard people say something like this many times, “Stop forcing your beliefs on us!” I usually respond like this, “No one is forcing anything on you! If you don’t like what I am saying, you have all the freedom in the world not to listen or to walk away.” Funny thing is they usually don’t walk away and are usually silent the rest of the time. I do think there is a time to be silent with family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc. after you have shared with them many times. I believe there is a point in time (which is different for each person) to stop talking to them and start praying. We just need to use discernment…

One woman wrote:
Can you “force Christ” on people? Sure, if you hold a gun to someone’s head and say, “Convert or die!”, or if you have an unbelieving child and say, “Follow Christ or I’ll disown you!” Obviously, to follow such tactics would be the way of the Muslims, and would not result in genuine conversion.

And this is what I think:
Matthew 11:12 says: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” (King James Version)

“…and violent men take it by force.” (New American Standard Bible)

“…and forceful men lay hold of it.” (New International Version)

“…and wimpy men are intimidated and say ‘God loves you,’ then run away.” (The Girly-Men Bible)

Ray Comfort says that we shouldn’t be pushy, but pully—“…pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”
Jude 23 (KJV)

0 Comments

  1. Dont you see forcing your beliefs on someone will have the opposite effect of what your trying to do? Instead of reciting out your pre-packaged sermon which is tricking someone into admitting they are a sinner why dont you show them the love of Christ that you TALK about and dont show? By the way I am Christian but at the moment Im not really walking with the Lord and seeing stuff like this makes me not want to go back and associate myself with people like you.

  2. Man, you can bring a LOT of theology into this–and boy would it be fun to visit LA and go out with y’all and also discuss the theological implications of a LOT of passages on this. I guess I’ll have to make do by doing the same here in Minnesota.

    One thing that comes to mind for me is Paul’s picture of the believer as more or less a Roman infantryman. One thing that doesn’t translate well is their concept of the shield and sword. Contrary to our picture of ancient warfare, they’d more or less take and hold ground, and the first weapon used was not the sword (which was 18″ long or less, not a long broadsword), but rather the shield.

    I’d suggest that we do well to remember this; our job is not to go into the heart of the enemy and slash our way around, but rather to go with our brothers and stand our ground for the truth.

    Brittney, I know for a fact that I, and probably our gracious host, have “cooties.” Even so, come stand with us. We won’t bite. Promise.

  3. Good words, Robert, as usual.

    We appreciate you Brittney!

  4. I like the kind of responses to the “love them in” approach that often are used.

    That is that we are sure that while the ones we have “paid for their lunch for” or “pumped their gas for them” will surly think fondly of us when they are burning in hell.

    Now should we love them? Of course and there are many with needs and we should be presenting them with a message of love but in the end there has to be a pushing point. They won’t need a savior if they don’t know they are lost. And Yes I think there is a stopping point that can be reached without being pushy.

    Here is a quick example as well: There is a guy who I have been trying to “love.” You know I would say, “just come listen and hang out. lets hang out and be cool.” After all this time guess where he is? Guess where he is going?

    Since I have started to think about my approach I want to call him and meet. Give him more than just “love.” Real love doesn’t want his friend or anyone to go to hell. We need to get over this Po Mo idea that love doesn’t intervene for someone.

  5. Steve,

    Not sure why my post came through three times. Sorry. I bet you can delete a few of them.

  6. The Bible tells us that our speech should be “seasoned with salt”, so that WE should know how to respond…

    Let’s disect this: “seasoned with salt” Anyone ever eaten anything that had too much salt in it? Not a good experience… If people are to taste and see that the Lord is good, we must make sure that our message is seasoned, but not making them spit it out…

    The reason is so WE will know how to respond… respond to what? The other person’s reaction! We season our speech, if the other person wants another taste, we give them more…

    This really boils down to John 5:19. Jesus only did what He saw his Father doing. No mindless repetition. Never repeated the same miracle twice in the same way. Always told people what they needed to do in their specific circumstances…

    Do some people need to hear the gospel message on the first encounter?

    Yes, and if we are sensative to the Holy Spirit, God will let us know who they are and exactly what to say…

    Does everyone need to understand that they are a sinner in need of a Savior?

    Yes, and if we are sensative to the Holy Spirit, then we will know exactly WHEN to bring that into the conversation, whether it be in a first time encounter or after we have invested some time into a relationship…

    In John 6:44, Jesus tells us that “no one can come to Me, unless the Father draws him…”

    Paul talks about the stages (or seasons) of preaching the gospel:

    One man plants, another waters, someone else harvests…

    We must understand that while their is fruit “rotting on the vine”, not every gospel presentation will result in fruit…

    Sometimes we are planting, sometimes we are watering, sometimes we are just breaking up fallow ground… (and most of the time, that is done through love and prayer)

    And if we are not sensative to this, I believe we can actually do more harm then good.

    Yes, we are to “compel” others to come, but sometimes it takes more than 15 minutes and a demonstration of the law to compel them…

    We are also to be compelled by the love of Christ. Do we love someone enough to not only show them that they are a sinner, but to love them through whatever they may be going through?

    God did not call us to make “converts”, He called us to make “disciples”

    I would encourage everyone here not to put all of your evangelism eggs in one basket….

    If we will be sensative to the Holy Spirit, I believe God can bring us to the right people, in the right timing… whether it be to plant, water or reap…

    But some people don’t need to hear the law, right off the bat; they DO need you to love them…

    Most people don’t care what you know, until they know that you care!

    Who is more likely to respond to our message:

    1. Someone who is turned off, offended and their heart has become even more hardened?

    2. Or someone who we still have an “ear” with because we are working WITH God and not just for Him…

    I would also encourage you guys (and gals) not to shrug off Brittney as a “discontented backslidden Christian who is persecuting you for your zeal”….

    She is wounded and hurt and needs our love and support, not a “holier than thou” response justifying our methodology… (not saying anyone has DONE that, just pre-emptive)

    Brittney, you need the Church and the Church needs you. Find a place where you can grow in grace and have accountability… This is God’s plan for you…

    I’m working on 2 articles in relationship to this whole discussion, hopefully to be out soon

  7. Doug,

    I will admit that sometimes listening to the use of the Law to reach people the speaker does kind of push too far. Sure there is that point.

    But I have seen more often than not that all the love I can give them doesn’t work either. You love them and hang with them and in the end I have seen many end up going their own way thinking all is well and their buddy Pastor “Name” proved that by loving them but never really hitting on the real issue.

    I do agree with you that there has to be differnet approaches but it does get back to the very basic fact that if they do not know they are lost in sin why do they need a Savior?

    I think you make a great deal of sense. I am just against many of the popular feel good approaches that love and give and love and give but don’t ever get down to business. Never tell them the reason for the love.

    Remember Paul said if no one tells them the message how will they hear it. As far as the old idea that Jesus hung with sinners and was not hard on them, but loved only we all would agree that was not always true.

    His first message right out of the gate was “repent the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” It wasn’t “your good I’m good we are all good.” It was turn from your sins and turn to God b/c the end is coming for you.

  8. Pastor Doug:
    No one could have said it better than you did.
    I agree with you wholeheartedly

  9. Pastor Doug, you have a well balance approach. I have been watching your responses for a while and they always seem on target. Thanks for keeping some of these bloggers in line…LOL:-)
    Which church do you pastor?
    YBIC (Your brother in Christ)
    Walter

  10. Ok, answering like 3 different posts here, so bare with me…

    1. Walter: thanks! Rick Joyner said that most truth can be found in the middle, in between the extremes. One Christian comediene said it better, “I know God is in the middle, because I can see Him when I am swinging from one extreme to the other!”

    So, I always try to have a balanced approach. I know there is room for both approaches; at the very least a combination…

    I am an associate Pastor at Coast Christian (Guy Takashima is our Senior Pastor)

    2. Lydia: thanks!

    3. Jason: I agree with you that we do need to get down to business. We are never just to love people in their sins, we must love them out of their sins… BUT love them we must!

    However, you are correct, in that at some point we MUST confront them and bring them to a decision to either embrace Jesus or reject Him…

    I DO NOT agree with the way that “preach the gospel and if necessary use words” has been used by most Christians to avoid preaching the gospel. Of course our lives should “scream Jesus” to anyone watching how we live; however, we are to preach (actually use words) and for me, again, it goes back to being sensative to the Holy Spirit…. BUT I digress…

    My point is not so much about IF we present the LAW, but rather WHEN…

    Jesus did preach “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand” right out of the gate! HOWEVER…

    He was preaching to the Nation of Israel, the Jews, who already had a knowledge OF THE LAW…

    This is one of the articles that I am currently writing. If a person has NO knowledge of the LAW (or doesn’t believe in God), we must cross that bridge first before we introduce with the 10 commandments…

    Time (and space) does not allow me to go into detail, but when the article is done, we can go deeper…

    Jesus was ONLY hard on the religious establishment of the day [read: Pharisees, etc. Again, people with the MOST knowledge of the law], but with the sinners, He did take the LOVE and FORGIVENESS approach…

    One quick example (of how I would handle a certain set of scenerios):

    I approach someone and we find ourselves in a conversation about spiritual things… I discover that he does not believe in God (adamantly). I may spend some time discussing his reasons for disbelief, but never argumentively. If I am unable to convince him of the existence of God, then it makes ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE to try and convince him he is a sinner through the 10 commandments. He does not believe in GOD, let alone the 10 commandments and this would do nothing to further the kingdom of God in this man’s life.

    In my view, this man is not allowing God to work in his life (remember John 5:19 and John 6:44?). If God is not at work, then I shouldn’t be working in my own strength.

    Now, I can do 3 things that will hopefully soften this man, so that he will allow God to work in his life:

    1. Pray (James tells us that the fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much; among many other scriptures on prayer)… to break up the fallow ground (praying God’s word, which is God’s will)

    2. Love (“Love NEVER fails”…. enough said!)

    3. Serve (“Let your light shine… so they may see your good works… and glorify your Father who is in heaven”)

    The end goal of all of these is to present the gospel to this man; again, to bring him to a place of decision.

    There is one situation that I have ABSOLUTELY NO PROBLEM in presenting a “heavy handed” approach to someone I may be conversing with:

    A MOCKER OR A SCOFFER!

    This type of person (whom I used to encounter quite frequently while open air preaching at the University where I used to do ministry) I will unload on them exactly what will happen to them if they chose NOT to repent and believe! BUT even with that they will get a heavy dose of “God’s love” (because it is TRUTH)!!!

    Well, that is all the time I have for now… like I said, when I finish my articles I will share freely with all…

    First article: difference between ministering to Jew vs. Gentile (those who know the law vs. those who have NO knowledge of the law)

    Second article: Ministering with God, instead of just for Him

  11. Thanks Pastor Doug for sharing your insights. Send my regards to Pastor Guy T. (Is he still gaming?)

    Regards,
    Walter Cartagena
    PS: I have been pondering on a couple of scriptures that concern me regarding in Mathew and Galatians…What is your take on God knowing us.
    Does GOD know you?
    How do you know.
    I will post this to Steve with some scriptures when he gets back.
    YBIC

  12. Great discussions you guys!

    Doug,

    In the future, I will post your concerns and address them point by point in a posting. Good stuff!

    I’m looking forward tyo your articles, too.

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