The Goal of Evangelism
It has become relatively common to assume that the goal of evangelism is to secure people a position in heaven after they die. Certainly, abiding in heaven is to be understood as a glorious reality. However, the efforts of evangelistic activity are to encourage and assist people to enter into a love relationship with God. Upon being founded in such, people will also learn how to properly love their neighbor, their fellow human being. This begins their heavenly abode as “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt.3:2; 4:17; 10:7; Mk. 1:15).
In order to lead a person to love God, one’s representation of God is important. There is a difference between convincing a person to selfishly give God permission to take them to heaven and entering into a love relationship with God. The first has nothing to do with conversion while the second is the foundational change necessary for all consequent change. It takes a compelling and dynamic representation of truth about God to encourage this level of transformation – something much evangelism lacks. Such truth has a natural tendency to produce conviction in the sinner’s heart, potentially leading to conversion. Tricks, gimmicks, programs and slick techniques largely lack the intensity of truth needed to encourage genuine conversion.
The goal of evangelistic effort is love; love of God and man. The motive is the reduction of sin in the world in order to alleviate a dimension of God’s grief. I have had occasion to inform inmates in the local prison that I am not primarily there for them. I explain that it is my hope that helping them experience deliverance and transformation will result in reducing the amount of grief they cause God. I go on to explain that the second reason I am there is to reduce the amount of grief they cause their “neighbor.” Finally, it would be nice to reduce the amount of grief they cause themselves.
“But the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.” (1Ti.1:5)
Knowing that it will involve personal effort, I would encourage the reader to consider the central place that love for God has in the following passages:
Dt.6:4-9; 11:1-5, 13-17, 22-23; 30:15-20; Josh.22:5; 23:11; Mk.12:28-30
Additional: Dt.13:3; 19:9; 30:6; Mt.22:37-38; Lk.10:27