Thursday, January 03, 2008

Evangelism, Conversion, Revival, and Prayer

My reading project this year is personal evangelism. So, Lord willing, I'll be working through a year's worth of reading on the topic, exploring it from various angles, with the hopes of developing and implementing a personal plan for doing the work of an evangelist.

FBC holds about 700-750 folks in a service. Currently, we're running about 300 on a Sunday morning. My fervent prayer this year is to see the remaining 400-450 seats filled with newly converted Christians. I'm asking the Lord to save at least 400 people through the preaching, witness and ministry of FBC. And of that 400, I'm praying that more than a few would be used of the Lord as pastors to His people. And of the 400, I'm praying the Lord would be pleased to save and use another Paul or Augustine or Calvin or Haynes or Stott or Sproul or MacArthur or Priscilla or Lydia or Elliott or Moon or Susannah or Aylward.

First up in my reading is Ian Murray's little book, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism. In the first chapter, a short bio of Spurgeon setting his debate against hyper-calvinism in context, Murray penned these helpful words:

This book is not about Calvinism and Arminianism. Our concern in the following pages is to deal with the error that lies on the side of Calvinism furthest from Arminianism. But one point needs to be made here on the manner in which Arminianism affects the understanding of revival. Special times of blessing which we call revival are times which see an enlargement of the Spirit's normal work. That being so it must follow that, when the church's understanding of the Spirit's normal work is wrong, her understanding of revival will also be wrong. Is it the normal work of the Spirit to convert sinners whenever they decide upon it? Can men be born again by their own resolutions? If the answer is 'Yes', and if that is how we are to understand Scripture, then it follows that we will look upon revivals simply as times when many make that choice. It was because such a deduction was based upon a wrong understanding of conversion in the last century that people began to see no differences between evangelistic campaigns and revivals; they became regarded as synonymous and capable of being organised by the same means. But if we believe the work of conversion is a work beyond all human ability, and that it requires an act of creative power giving life to the dead, then times of revival will be seen as times which can no more be 'promoted' than can the conversion of a single individual. Certainly the church must labor at all times for the salvation of the lost but whether in the case of one or of hundreds, 'the increase' belongs finally with God (1 Cor. 3:6). (Iain H. Murray, Spurgeon v. Hyper-Calvinism: The Battle for Gospel Preaching, Banner of Truth, 1995, pp. 28-29)
It's a good reminder. My part is to pray, preach, and proclaim the Good News. And it's encouraging to remember that my petition is really for an enlargement of the Spirit's normal work of conversion. It does not depend finally on me but on the sovereign blowing of the Spirit in regenerating men (John 3). If anything, my request is too small. Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief.


Mike Leake said...

I am certain that you will be blessed in reading this. Last year I read The Forgotten Spurgeon and then Spurgeon vs. Hyper-Calvinism. I was blessed by both. Probably more so the latter. It served in my life as a fitting rebuke and motivation to not use the sovereignty of God as an excuse not to be bold and passionate in evangelism.

I figure that you are already aware of this book, but another must read is Will Metzger's Tell the Truth. I would say you are well aware of it and it is on your list...but I couldn't run the risk of not suggesting it.

Thanks for your ministry,

FellowElder said...

Thanks for commenting. And thanks for the recommendation. I am aware of it, but I haven't read it. So, it's on my list.

Anybody else have recommendations they want to share? All are welcome.


The Seeking Disciple said...

I enjoy THE WAY OF THE MASTER materials from Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron. Very practical and biblical material for evangelism.

I would encourage you to read Jim Cymbala's book FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE. While you might not agree with some of his charismatic theology and practices, his focus on building a church around prayer is encouraging to read. Cymbala is not a seminary trained man but his church runs over 4000 not because of him but because, I believe, Broolyn Tabernacle prays.

For a good Arminian book on evangelism read Kenneth Collins book CONVERSION IN THE WESYEYAN TRADITION.

Good post brother and I will join with you in praying for God to fill His church for His glory.

Stephen Ley said...

I just finished reading Mark Dever's The Gospel and Personal Evangelism. I found it revolutionary and I know it's going to bear fruit in my own woefully lacking evangelistic efforts. I bought extra copies to give away as well. Highly recommended!

wayner said...

I would like to second Stephen's suggestion of Dever's "The Gospel and Personal Evangelism". I was convicted of my own failing as I read the first chapter.

I am also reading through "Pierced for Our Transgressions-Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution" by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey and Andrew Sach. This is a fascinating read.


Irwyn said...

Would you mind sharing your planned reading list on this topic?

FellowElder said...

How are you brother? And the saints in MD?

I'll post the planned reading list on tomorrow, Lord willing.