“We Must Give People
an Opportunity to
Respond to the Gospel!“
It’s not our job to get others to “respond” to the Gospel. Is it?
I have heard this phrase many times in the past, and it has always given me concern. I’ve tucked it into the back of my mind and said that I have to look into it further at a later time. It’s that later time.
Matt Chandler, in “The Explicit Gospel,” says, “the proclamation of the glory of God, the might of God, and the majesty of God brought to bear on the sinfulness of man in the atoning work of Jesus Christ actually stirs the hearts of men. And men respond to that stirring. Some are stirred to belief; some are not.” *
Again he says,
“This is what the gospel does. This is why the gospel of Jesus is dangerous. When we hear the gospel word, we are opened up to the Word of God. We’re subjected to God’s Word reading us. We sit underneath it, and for the moment of our hearing, it rules us. It does not save all, but all who hear it are put in their place. This is dangerous, because the proclamation of God’s Word goes only one way or another in the soul of a man, and one of those ways is the hardening of a man toward the grace of God.”
Matt’s assumption, is that people have no choice but to respond to The Gospel. That response looks different in different people, but it remains a response none the less. Here’s where I see portions the church departing from the biblical pattern. God is the one that elicits a response from gospel hearers, but the church has taken over the engineering of it. Entirely too many of our “Gospel Presentations” are attempts at reverse engineering. We structure our presentations of the Gospel SO THAT it elicits a response from the hearers. We sway and woo, build in intentional and emotional manipulations, and are always driving others to a point of decision.
If we are honest with ourselves, and ask, “when was that last time someone came to me and asked, “what must I do to be saved.” We might begin to understand the scope of the issue. Granted, in our weak, frail, and often incomplete gospel presentations, Gods’ mercy, the power of the scripture, and the Spirit Himself fills in the gaps. But the moment we sense that someone is really interested in the gospel message, our tendency is to “go in for the kill.”
The learned behavior around presenting the Gospel for most of the church, is that we “must give people an opportunity to respond.” It is so strongly rooted in us that practically every tract, every manner, every method, and every architectural arrangement of Gospel data is designed to evoke and attain a response. Many of the responses are the result of clever human manipulation and not necessarily the work of the Spirit.
So, must we give people an opportunity to respond to the Gospel, or do we simply proclaim the Gospel and leave the response to the person and God? Wouldn’t we be better off learning what to do after a response than trying to invoke one?
“If Christ says, “let those that thirst come,” then why does much of christian evangelism look like Water Boarding?” ~ Miguel Labrador
A few Questions:
In what way do early church evangelism scenarios contribute to this discussion?
Are we to present the Gospel in such a way that it invokes a response?
When someone does respond to the Gospel, what, biblically speaking, are we to do next?
*Matt Chandler (2012-04-09). The Explicit Gospel (p. 69). Good News Publishers/Crossway Books. Kindle Edition.