• Matthew Thornton

Works and Evangelism: Part Two


I think that one of the most discouraging aspects in our quest to “make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) is the lack of ‘results.’ Personally, I am inspired and have become quite zealous when I hear stories of others making miraculous conversions to Christ in a short space of time. Whether a Spirit-inspired word, encouragement, or prayer - all these stories seem to possess an aspect of spontaneity and wonder. This side of evangelism tends to drawer me in as these are moments where we get to see God’s real and present Spirit work in front of our very eyes.


Whilst these incredible transformation stories do occur – and praise God that they do – the reality is that our own day-to-day ‘evangelistic’ life may seem quite mediocre in comparison. Personally, I’ve never witnessed someone committing their life to Christ in an instance due to something I’ve said or done. I've found it to be quite the opposite; very few ‘unbelievers’ I’ve shared my faith with have made, as of yet, any drastic changes in their lives. It can be disheartening to the point where, at times, I’ve stopped sharing my faith completely. If none of my attempts seem to breed any results, what's the point?


Yet, I discovered that the main problem with all this is that I made it all about me. The attempts I made, the words I said, it was never about me in the first place. For evangelism and the making of disciples has got nothing to do with us and everything to do with God. Before I continue, let me direct you to a few verses:

  • Isaiah 12:4: “In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the Lord, proclaim His name; make known among the nations what He has done, and proclaim that His name is exalted".

  • John 13:35: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

  • 1 Corinthians 1:17: “For Christ did not send me to baptise, but to preach the Gospel – not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its power.”

These verses have one thing in common: all of them have a lot to say about telling, teaching and doing, and hardly anything to say about converting: “PROCLAIM His name,” “LOVE one another,” “PREACH the Gospel.”


I struggled to find a verse instructing me to convert people to follow Christ. I struggled finding a verse telling me to make one of my unbelieving friends a Christian. This is because ‘converting’ non-believers wasn’t my job in the first place! As Paul said, God doesn’t ask us to “baptise” people (make them believe), He simply asks us to “preach” the gospel, to tell them about Him. God asks us not to make others believe, but rather, tell others what we believe.


Re-understanding Our Commission


This idea is at the heart of the Great Commission, even though it could be easily read otherwise. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19). The word “make” here suggests the responsibility of ‘converting’ people lies very much on us. However, the Greek verb for “make” (mathēteusate), is equivalent to “instructed” in Matthew 13:52. Again, God asks us not to make others believe, but rather, to tell others, to teach others, to show others what we believe.


When we assume this posture, we give God the responsibility of transforming lives - and rightly so! In reality, our words and actions don’t stand much of a chance when faced with a hardened heart. The Holy Spirit is the only one who can perform that change. The Holy Spirit is the only one capable of penetrating into one’s soul; we just have to enable and allow Him to do that.


You see, God asks us tell others about Him because that is the way in which we enable the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is present in each one of us and when we perform a loving gesture or speak words of His truth, the Holy Spirit is given a vessel in which to transport (Luke 4:18 or Acts 1:8).


When we show someone and tell them of His love, we allow God’s pulsing, moving rhythm to engage with them.


Actually, God is so powerful He doesn’t really need us. Acts 17:24-25 says: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and everything else.”


This verse may seem discouraging at first – God doesn’t need us? But, when you think about it, it is immensely honouring. As Mike Donehey puts it, “If God needed us, He wouldn’t be free to want us”. You aren’t merely some commodity, but rather, a being that God chooses and wants to love.

When we show someone and tell them of His love, we allow God’s pulsing, moving rhythm to engage with them.

He wants us. And, as long as that is true (which is forever), we have got to keep being His enablers, keep giving the Holy Spirit its vessel in which to transport, keep allowing God’s rhythm to engage. That’s evangelism, is it not?


Let us be reminded, God asks us not to make others believe, but rather, to tell others what we believe. God is mysterious, and His Spirit moves in ways that are beyond our understanding. Don’t be discouraged when you don’t see the ‘results’. God is in control. He knows exactly what he wants for that person. The only responsibility we have is to tell others about our incredible Saviour; let God worry about the results and the transforming.


I will end with something I wrote on Instagram:

“It’s not so much what we say or how we say it, but that we do. 
We can’t bring Jesus into someone’s heart, but we can make them aware of the gentle and tender whisper of His invitation. 
The cross is the power, not our fancy words or actions. 
The love of God is the dam and we merely assist in opening the floodgates, allowing the water of Life to wash over hardened hearts. 
God isn’t asking us to make them believe, but rather, to tell them what we believe."



So, come on, lets tell them.


Matthew is currently studying at the University of Auckland. He'd love to hear from you -contact him at matthewcthornton13@gmail.com.


Get involved. Contact us at rhythmbloginfo@gmail.com or check us out on Instagram @rhythmblog. We are RHYTHM. We are His. //

0 views

© 2018 RHYTHM Blog