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Evangelizing Those of Non-Christian Religions Dr. Richard Elofer.

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1 Evangelizing Those of Non-Christian Religions Dr. Richard Elofer

2 Non-Christian Religions The motivation of this presentation is “Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. And he said with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6–7)

3 Religions in Mexico Catholic Church = 80% or 93 M Other Christians = 10% or 11 M Other religions = 4% or 4 M – Santa Muerto Religion = more than 2 M – Native religions = ?? – Buddhists = 110,000 – Jews = 50,000 – Muslims = 5,000 Non-religious = 6% or about 7 M

4 What is Evangelism? Evangelism may be defined as the dimension and activity of the church’s mission which seeks to offer every person, everywhere, – a valid opportunity to be directly challenged by the gospel and faith in Jesus Christ, – with a view to embracing him as Savior, – becoming a living member of his community, – and being enlisted in his service of reconciliation and preparing the world for the second coming.

5 Confession “Jesus is Lord” A personal relationship with him Israel, First born Son Churches The Remnant people of Jesus who is the Lord and Savior Other culture, language People of other faiths Other nation, tribe, people People of other faiths “an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”(Revelation 14:6) Disciples of Jesus by faith Based on “Mission on the Way” by Charles Van Engen (p.177)

6 What is Evangelism? Evangelism is the core, the heart, and the center of our mission as Adventists; it consists: – in the proclamation of salvation in Christ to non- believers, – in announcing forgiveness of sins, – in calling people to repentance and faith in Christ, – in inviting them to become living members of Christ’s earthly community, – to begin a life in the power of the Holy Spirit. – To prepare a people for the second coming of Jesus

7 God’s Purpose for His Church The Church exists for the world not the world for the church. The church is God's appointed agency for the salvation of men. It was organized for service, and its mission is to carry the gospel to the world. (EGW in AA9) Evangelism is calling people to become followers of Jesus. These people are from our culture and not our culture, from our faith and not from our faith.

8 Confession “Jesus is Lord” A personal relationship with him Israel, First born Son Churches The Remnant people of Jesus who is the Lord and Savior Other culture, language People of other faiths Other nation, tribe, people People of other faiths “an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”(Revelation 14:6) Disciples of Jesus by faith Based on “Mission on the Way” by Charles Van Engen (p.177)

9 Reaching out people of other faiths The disciples were confronted to the same mission, they were mostly reaching Jews, not many Gentiles. – Among the Gentiles were many “God-fearing” people, who accepted the God of Israel, but did not entered the people of Israel. – The main reason was the circumcision. – Difficult 2000 years ago to go to this surgery without surgeon.

10 Reaching out people of other faiths The key text is from Acts 15 – The great decision was: “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.” (Acts 15:19 NIV) “Por lo cual yo juzgo que no se inquiete a los gentiles que se convierten a Dios,” (Hechos 15:19 RVR60)

11 How to Reach non-Christians Paul’s Method “Paul did not approach the Jews in such a way as to arouse their prejudices. He did not at first tell them that they must believe in Jesus of Nazareth.... Step by step he led his hearers on, showing the importance of honoring the law of God.... The Gentiles, Paul approached by exalting Christ.... Thus the apostle varied his manner of labor, shaping his message to the circumstances under which he was placed...” Gospel Workers,118

12 Speak Upon Points of Doctrine on Which You Can Agree “In laboring in a new field, do not think it your duty to say at once to the people, We are Seventh-day Adventists; we believe that the seventh-day is the Sabbath; we believe in the non-immortality of the soul. This would often erect a formidable barrier between you and those you wish to reach. Speak to them, as you have opportunity, upon points of doctrine on which you can agree. Dwell on the necessity of practical godliness. … Thus you will gain their confidence; and there will be time enough for doctrines.” Gospel Workers p

13 Meet The Needs Of The People “The worker in foreign fields will come in contact with all classes of people and all varieties of minds, and he will find that different methods of labor are required to meet the needs of the people. A sense of his own inefficiency will drive him to God and to the Bible for light and strength and knowledge.” Gospel Workers p. 468

14 Evangelizing is Taking Risk… To evangelize is to take the risk in at least two respects: – In the first place the evangelist or the church-in- evangelism has no control over how the gospel it proclaim will “come alive” in the hearer context. – Second, the evangelist is running a risk of getting changed in the course of the evangelistic outreach (story of Peter in Acts 10)

15 The Conversion of Peter Acts 10 is the story of the conversion of Cornelius, – it could with equal justification, bear the title “The conversion of Peter” or “the conversion of an evangelist.” – The person facing the most difficult decision here is not the Gentile Cornelius but the “pastor Simon Peter”

16 The Conversion of Peter Walter Hollenweger comments correctly “the real evangelist cannot help but take the risk that in the course of his evangelism, his understanding of Christ will get corrected. For this is precisely what happened to Peter. In Cornelius’ house he did not just receive some additional theological insights No, he began to understand Christ in a new way.”

17 Culture and Faith The difference between faith and culture is essential for our understanding of Paul’s writings. Paul says “Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law … … I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:19–22) “Por lo cual, siendo libre de todos, me he hecho siervo de todos para ganar a mayor número. Me he hecho a los judíos como judío, para ganar a los judíos; a los que están sujetos a la ley … … a todos me he hecho de todo, para que de todos modos salve a algunos.” (1 Corintios 9:19–22 RVR60)

18 Culture and Faith The world and from time to time the church in which we live has made the equation of faith and culture. Culture and faith are not equal, culture is relative not faith. Culture and faith are not the same.

19 Reaching non-Christians The methods and means by which we reach certain ends are not always the same. The missionary must use reason and judgment. Experience will indicate the wisest choice to follow under existing circumstances. It is often the case that the customs and climate of a country make a condition of things that would not be tolerated in another country. Changes for the better must be made, but it is best not to be too abrupt… Let not controversy arise over trifles. Gospel Workers p. 468

20 Studying the Best Methods …The laborer for God is to study carefully the best methods, that he may not arouse prejudice or combativeness. This is where some have failed.... He is to study to be skillful when there are no rules to meet the case.... Tact and good judgment increase the usefulness of the laborer a hundred-fold.” Gospel Workers, 119

21 The Gospel as a Good News How faith in Christ can take shape in a variety of cultures? How the message of Jesus can be a “Good News” Paul in Athens, “So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.” (Acts 17:22–23) “Entonces Pablo, puesto en pie en medio del Areópago, dijo: Varones atenienses, en todo observo que sois muy religiosos; porque pasando y mirando vuestros santuarios, hallé también un altar en el cual estaba esta inscripción: AL DIOS NO CONOCIDO. Al que vosotros adoráis, pues, sin conocerle, es a quien yo os anuncio.” (Hechos 17:22–23 RVR60)

22 Reaching non-Christians “The people in every country have their own peculiar, distinctive characteristics, and it is necessary that men should be wise in order that they may know how to adapt themselves to the peculiar ideas of the people, and so introduce the truth that they may do them good. They must be able to understand and meet their wants. Circumstances will arise which demand immediate action, and it will be necessary that those who are right on the field should take hold of the interest, and do the thing that is necessary to be done under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” Testimonies to Ministers, 213

23 Drawn to God by his Love People should turn to God because they are drawn to him by his love, not because they are pushed to him for fear of hell. It is only in the light of the grace of God in Jesus Christ that we know the terrible abyss of darkness into which we fall if we put our trust anywhere but in that grace.

24 Evangelism is Service Evangelism is possible only when the community that evangelizes — the church — is a radiant manifestation of the Christian and has winsome lifestyle. If the church is to impart to the world a message of hope and love, or faith and justice, something of this should become visible, audible and tangible in the church itself. The Early Christian community was characterized by compassion, fellowship, sharing, worship, service and teaching (Acts ; )

25 Five Characteristics of Churches Involved in Reaching non-Christians 1.It lets outsiders feel at home 2.Its members are involved in society 3.It is structurally flexible and adaptable 4.It does not defend the interests of any select group of people.

26 Confession “Jesus is Lord” A personal relationship with him Israel, First born Son Churches The Remnant people of Jesus who is the Lord and Savior Other culture, language People of other faiths Other nation, tribe, people People of other faiths “an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”(Revelation 14:6) Disciples of Jesus by faith Based on “Mission on the Way” by Charles Van Engen (p.177)


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