Evangelism and the 5th Commandment and this Mission of God!

Devotional Thought of the Day
13  “You must not murder. Exodus 20:13 (NLT)

21  “You have heard that people were told in the past, ‘Do not commit murder; anyone who does will be brought to trial.’ 22  But now I tell you: if you are angry with your brother you will be brought to trial, if you call your brother ‘You good-for-nothing!’ you will be brought before the Council, and if you call your brother a worthless fool you will be in danger of going to the fire of hell. Matthew 5:21-22 (TEV)

27  God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. 28  So we preach Christ to everyone. With all possible wisdom we warn and teach them in order to bring each one into God’s presence as a mature individual in union with Christ. 29  To get this done I toil and struggle, using the mighty strength which Christ supplies and which is at work in me. Colossians 1:27-29 (TEV)

189 In the second place, this commandment is violated not only when a person actually does evil, but also when he fails to do good to his neighbor, or, though he has the opportunity, fails to prevent, protect, and save him from suffering bodily harm or injury.
190 If you send a person away naked when you could clothe him, you have let him freeze to death. If you see anyone suffer hunger and do not feed him, you have let him starve. Likewise, if you see anyone condemned4 to death or in similar peril and do not save him although you know ways and means to do so, you have killed him. It will do you no good to plead that you did not contribute to his death by word or deed, for you have withheld your love from him and robbed him of the service by which his life might have been saved.  (1)

What I am going to say may be slightly controversial, but do me a favor and read the entire post before dismissing it.

Here is the controversial statement.

For a Christian to not share their faith with those around them is sin.  Specifically, it is a violation of what is referred to as the 5th commandment (Lutherans, Catholics, Anglicans) or for some the 4th commandment (Evangelicals and Reformed).  The one listed above, “you must not murder”

let me say it again, to nor share the love of God, revealed in Christ Jesus is simply sin.

When you actively or passively refuse to do so, it is disobedience.  Specifically, you are particpating in the murder of your neighbor.  Just like in Ezekiel, where the watchman was responsible for the death of the citizens he didn’t warn about the attack of an army, just like in Luthr’s example, you fail to prevent, protect and save him from suffering harm, except the stakes are much higher.

A competent Lutheran theologian might challenge me here, saying that I am using the law to motivate behavior, trying to use gilt and shame to get people to share their faith.

I could be, but I am not.  You see, Romans explains well that our old nature tries to get us to live in disobedience.  To do the things we should not, or to not do (as in this case) the things we should.  Luther would talk of drowning that old nature in baptism, of reminding it that its dead.  And that is exactly what we need to do with the excuses that we have, for not sharing our faith.  We need to realize that our lack of love for our neighbor, for his eternal nature, stems not from the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, but from the old nature, the old Adam.

Our negative reaction to evangelism, is simply our old nature refusing to acknowledged it died in baptism.

If that is true, then there must be a way the life made alive in Christ evangelizes.

And that is where Paul’s words to the Colossian Church comes into play.  The reason why he works with all that is in him, to present every man mature in Christ, by sharing with them the gospel.

Because of the glory of God.

Because of this amazing mystery of Christ living in us, a mystery revealed to us that is so incredible, so life changing, that we desire all to have it.  We have the ability to be conduits of a life changing the emssage, the very message that changed our lives.

As we are transformed in Christ, it is natural to become involved in the ministry of reconciling us to Christ, it is truly the nature of loving our neighbor, of doing what is best for them, of reflecting the nature of God that is seen in the words cHesed and agape. And that very love should shape and deliver that message.

Not because we have to, but because of the love God transforms us to be, even as He is.

Lord have mercy, and may the mystery of our lives in you show us how to love all You would desire to know see You!

AMEN.

(1)  Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (pp. 390–391). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on July 3, 2015, in Devotions. Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I am not seeing where this is a general command given to all believers. I find it a privilege to speak with terrified sinners about the forgiveness of sin in the name of Jesus. Also I have told secure sinners about repentance and the forgiveness of sin.

    Each of us, 1 Corinthians 12:12-31, are given different gifts. A person who is given the gift of evangelism enjoys this privilege as does a parent with children and Grandparent with Grandchildren. It comes down to vocation. Just like I would not fancy myself in the public ministry and proclaim in a congregation, celebrate the Supper and Baptize the same would be that a person who is not given the gift of evangelism is going to fall flat on his face.

    I was raised in the Baptist Tradition and lots of guilt is laid on people making this a law that they must do. It was interesting that many of the Pastors who speak this way will not do it themselves.

    • David,
      I will lay it our simpler for you.

      1. In Exodus 20 those whom God rescues are described as those who will not murder. You do agree that murder is a sin – correct?

      2. In Matthew 5, Jesus stipultates not just the physical act, but also in word and in thought. You do agree that you can sin in thought, word and deed, correct?

      3. Luther explains that this includes the sin of ommission, that is, when you fail to do something which could have prevented harm from coming to your neighbor. (What we’ve failed to do is the term in the sequence of Confession and Absolution )

      4. If you could share the love and mercy of Christ with someone, and fail to, then you have failed to do that which could have prevented harm coming to them. And you prevented them from hearing of the grace and mercy of God which could have led to an abundant life.

      5. So in failing to share your faith with your neighbor, you have failed to love them, and violated the fifth commandment.

      Now – your concern about this being law motivated.

      6. What is reacting to the law is the old Adam, For though he was killed off in baptism, he still struggles and would have you dwell in sin, not in Christ.

      7. The reaction, trying to find a way to justify your inaction is his last gasp, trying to justify your sin. He can’t. He is dead.

      Aside – we aren’t talking about the gift of evangelism, as in the public preaching of the word. We are talking about you, loving your neighbor, family member, ennemy and friend. Your reference to 1 Cor 12 doesn’t apply, you might note that evangelist isn’t there. Even so, we are talking about harming your neighbor, or loving him enough to share with him the one thing that is gospel in your life. Sharing Christ’s love with someone is gospel, it is not law. It comes from seeing them broken and in need fo mercy, and you knowing the source that brought healing to your own brokenness. it is not something that extends from guilt, but from joy – like Paul’s bragging about his weakness in 2 Cor 12. for it teveals the work of Christ in him.

      Godspeed,

      Pastor Dt

      PS your red herring about others not doing it, excusing you from doing it is that – another attempt of the old Adam to shed the guilt and shame. It is actually a form of breaking the 8th commandment, one of the old Adam’s favorite actions.

      • A quick response I will write more later. I am not excusing myself at all. As I stated in my comment I have proclaimed the forgiveness of sin in the name of Jesus to terrified sinners. And I have proclaimed repentance to secure sinners and forgiveness to the ones who cease being impenitent.

        It still comes down to vocation and gifts. I am not in the public ministry so it is not my vocation to do this as well as Baptize and teach. It is my privilege. My objection is the guilt laid on others to evangelize who are not given the gift.

        Therefore it says,
        “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives,
        and he gave gifts to men.”
        (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,

        (Ephesians 4:8-11 ESV)

        This passage mentions evangelists. I believe I have been given the gift of evangelism. It is a sheer joy to be used by God in this way. I am not a shy person, although I was when I was younger, so I am not the least bit afraid to bring it up to people. I have had people approach me in the workplace and neighborhood to speak on these things. If anything my old Adam wants to take pride in it.

        As far as the others not doing it I was speaking of Pastors who have the vocation of evangelizing, Baptizing and teaching. I assume they think they have the gifts and talent or they would have found other employment.

        God’s peace. †

      • David,

        I laid out a simple proposition, based on scripture. Your desire to counter it seems to prove the proposition. Old Adam will do anything to justify his own action or inaction.

        Everyone has the vocation of a servant (a diakonos) of reconciliation. Paul didn’t just advise bishops, pastors and deacons to imitate him, as he imitated Christ Jesus (1 Corinthians 11 1. Just as everyone has the vocation of being a child and servant of God.

        You keep confusing the office of minsitry with the blessing of loving your neighbor and being their evangelist. The same passage you referred to earlier talks of the charism of faith. Using your theory, that means the rest of us don’t need to trust God, for it is not our vocation. That is troubling. Or the same for mercy in Romans 12, because that is a separate gift in that passage from other gifts.

        But let’s get back to the bottom line. If you see someone broken by sin, and you can do something about it, and refuse to, because it is not your vocaiton, have you sinned? Scripture and the Confessions says yes. Not from an obligation to the law, but because you love them, even as Christ loves you.

        Let old adam die, and reflect the love of Christ to them.

      • Perhaps I have not made myself clear. When Our Lord places a broken sinner in my vicinity I find it not a duty to speak with the sinner about the forgiveness of sin. Rather it is a joyful privilege to do so. But I believe evangelism is a gift which I have been given. Not all Christians have this gift as we see in the list of gifts where Paul speaks of us being one body yet all have differing gifts. Due to the fact evangelism is not mentioned is not saying all Believers are evangelists. In Ephesians 4 he writes that Christ ascended and gave gifts then lists the varying gifts.

        It is a disservice for a minister to lay this requirement on his entire congregation many of whom have gifts other than evangelism. This is also a misuse of Scripture. “Thou shalt love your neighbor as yourself” is law. Jesus labels it as such. A person sees his neighbor in distress or need and lends aid is doing the law and it pleasing to Christ. This is not just hypothetical. I have seen this happen.

        As a pastor train the congregation to do this and other methods of evangelism. Encourage this activity. Great. Execute it as law that is abuse of Scripture and guilt manipulation.

        Thank you for the conversation. God’s peace. †

      • OKay, you’ve made yourself clear.

        You believe evanglsim is a gift given to you. So you don’t like the idea that others should be sharing the incredible blessing of being able to abide with God.

        Your first error is in saying evangelism is a individual gift. In Ephesans 4, Evangelists are a gift to the church, as part of the Office of Holy Ministry. It is not a specific charism given to a person.

        The lists in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12 do not list evnagelism as a specific gift, but even if it did, as I pointed out earlier, that doesn’t mean peopel are freed from the responsibility of the minsitry of reconciliation. Faith is a gift in the 1 Cor 12 passage, does that mean those who aren’t so gifted are free from trusting in Christ? Of Course not! THe problem is you’re basing your theology on the reformed understanding of gifts.

        Your second error is that you keep on referring to things as law, not as an effect of the gospel. I don’t think you get the difference. Loving others is not law, unless you don’t abide in Christ. Then you cannot and yes it condemns. But if you are in Christ, you will love others. You will want what is best for them, and work to see that happen.

        If you are in Christ – it is indicative of the change made in you, as the power of the Holy Spirit transforms you. You are called to love (and the old Adam fights against this mightily – including using your pride – that only you and those like you can do this!

        You are confused between and Imperative command, and the indicative description of life in Christ. Someone being transformed by the mercy of God will love their neighbors, they will desire the best for their neighbors, even sacriicing themselves to see it happen. It’s not law, it is grace active, the power of God residing within them that brings about this action. As you say it is a joyful privelege – one you are denying the people of God,

        To tell people that to burden them with evangelism, or responding to another’s needs is sinful as well David. Look at the end of 1 Corinthians 10, and the first verse of 11. Paul is saying that he will do whatever it takes to see people saved. Then to the entire church, he said “imitate me as I imitate Christ”. That isn’t law, that is gospel, it is the effect of the Lord of life being in you, transoforming you into the image of Christ. (see 2 Cor.3-5 – where the effect of the transformation is… o wait – the ministry of reconciliation.)

        Godspeed

        Pastor Dt.

      • BTW – your friend that responded that #4 is law, and not gospel may want to consider that only old Adam hears “love thy neighbor” as law. Someone alive in Christ sees it as a chance to see the power of God at work through them.

I love to know your thoughts on this... please respond!

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