The Fatal Flaw of Lifestyle Evangelism

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men… 2 Corinthians 5:11

A trend has risen in Christianity over the past several decades. In an attempt to not offend, or avoiding confrontation, we have distorted the most crucial command of Christ. This command is commonly refereed to as “The Great Commission.” Not only was this command reiterated  five times (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:47, John 20:21, Acts 1:8), but it was the very last command Christ gave before His ascension. The Gospel message is the very reason Christ came! “Even as the Son of man came… to give his life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).

Since there seems to be a clash between Christ’s command and our culture, many have come up with a compromise. Is is called “lifestyle evangelism.” The argument is that people we encounter every day will become curious about our Christian lifestyle and ask us the way of salvation. There are several flaws with this philosophy.

Lifestyle evangelism has never saved anyone.
The Gospel is confrontational. It requires preaching; a declaration of God’s truth. “…It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). Preaching God’s message of salvation, though it seems foolish, is the way God has intended for His saving message to go forward. Lifestyle evangelism is neither commanded nor exemplified in the scriptures. The Gospel must be preached. “…how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14c). This does not require a formal setting, like a church service, but the transferring of truth, vocally from one (the preacher) to another (the prospect of for the gospel).

For salvation to take place, repentance (a change of mind) must occur.
“Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). The requirement of repentance shows the necessity of the confrontation. Repentance, on a basic level, means a change of mind. In order for my mind to be changed, I must admit that my thinking was wrong. Seeing someone live a lifestyle different than mine may intrigue me, but it won’t convert me.

Repentance must occur in a few areas:

1. There must be a change from thinking I am a good enough person to accepting that I am a vile sinner under the condemnation of a Holy God.
“… There is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:12).
“… He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him” (John 3:36).
Our culture is all about “self-esteem,” so to tell people that they are bad and in trouble is unpopular, but necessary.

2. There must be a change from thinking I am good enough, or that my religion is good enough, to trusting in Christ’s sacrifice being good enough to appease God’s wrath.
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing…” (Romans 7:18)
“And [Jesus] is the propitiation for our sins…” (1 John 2:2a). “Propitiation” is an acceptable sacrifice to appease the wrath of a Holy God. I’m not good enough, and my religion is not good enough.

3. I must renounce any righteousness I might think to have in myself and humbly submit to the righteousness of God, which is by faith in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10).
“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law of righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:3-4).

To be saved, one must see their desperate need for a Saviour. Not what they can do to do better, but that they NEED to be saved. It is not comfortable. Everything in society is geared toward affirming how good people are. The Gospel declares that there is none good, and only God’s goodness applied to me gives me any worth.

With all of that being said, our lifestyle ought to match our profession. There are enough hypocrites out there giving people enough reason to reject our message. However, no one gets saved from observing my lifestyle alone. The Gospel MUST be preached!

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