Half-truths fail to explain the whole truth. Left by themselves they are misleading. They stink. They stink because they falsely pit truth against truth, like debating apples being fruit verses oranges being fruit. It isn’t either or, it’s both/and. Half-truths also stink because they confuse categories, like going to the optometrist to get your teeth checked. It’s good to go to the optometrist, but they won’t check your teeth. Thirdly, they stink because they make false inferences, assuming because something is true something else must be true. For example, a dog hurt me when I was a child, therefore all dogs hurt children. The conclusion doesn’t necessarily follow the premise even though the premise is true. Half-truths when embraced as full-truth can be divisive and cause unnecessary tension among Christians, and for some, sadly, it leads them right into heresy. Half-truths embraced as full-truth when discussing a theology of evangelism can be hurtful. They can silence the preaching of the Gospel and lead many to hell. The Gospel must be preached. Here are four half-truths many Christians have wrongly embraced as full-truths in evangelism:
1. I’ll show the Gospel by my life.
This is confusing categories. It’s good to go to the dentist to get your teeth checked, but not to get your eyes checked. Jesus changes how we live. No one who is born of God makes a practice of sinning (1 Jn. 3:9). Jesus saving you should make you stick out like a sore thumb in a godless culture (Titus 2:14). Yet, someone who is spiritually blind, apart from the Gospel, won’t be saved by your changed lifestyle (1 Cor. 2:14). Only the Gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16). For people to call on Christ they need to hear the Gospel (Rom. 10:14). Words are necessary (Rom. 10:17). If you’re in Christ, your life has been saved and changed by the Gospel. It is only the Gospel that has the power to save and change anyone else. Preach the Gospel!
2. I don’t want to push people further away from the God.
This infers a conclusion that doesn’t necessarily result from the premise. Again, a dog hurting me as a child doesn’t mean all dogs hurt children. Similarly, the unbeliever’s hostile response to bold Gospel proclamation doesn’t infer the unbeliever can be pushed to a worse position further away from God, especially not from bold Gospel proclamation. Christians should be responsible in evangelistic efforts, but it’s important to know that those who aren’t in Christ are already in the worst position they could be in. The Bible describes unbelievers as being dead in sin (Eph. 2:1), the wrath of God abiding on them (Jn. 3:36), a slave to sin (Rom. 6:20), and hostile toward God and unable to please Him (Rom. 8:7). Someone who is already at the lowest of lows can’t be pushed any lower. Any hostility by the unbeliever in response to bold Gospel proclamation isn’t pushing the unbeliever further away from God, rather it is exposing the hostility that the Bible says already exists in the unbeliever’s heart. Only the Gospel can pull someone out of this state (Rom. 1:16). Further, do you believe that the sovereign God of the universe could have His Divine election thwarted by you or me? Not a chance. Christ’s sheep will hear his voice (Jn. 10:27). God in His divine election saves perfectly (Jn. 6:39, Heb. 7:25). You can’t push people who are already dead in sin further away from God, especially by preaching the only thing that can save them, the Gospel. Only the Gospel can make the lost right with God. Preach the Gospel!
3. I need to earn the right to share the Gospel.
Like debating apples being fruit verses oranges being fruit this half-truth is often discussed in comparing stranger evangelism verses friendship evangelism, but it isn’t either or, it’s both. It must be acknowledged that Christians should live lives of repentance that align with the words of Gospel proclamation. Christians shouldn’t squander opportunities because of carelessness or unrepentant sin. Christians should seek to live godly lives and gain opportunities to preach the Gospel. Yet, this does not infer that a Christian NEEDS to earn the right to share the Gospel. Christ in His perfect obedience earned the right for Christians to share the Gospel. In fact, Christ who possesses all authority commands the proclamation of the Gospel (Matt. 28:18-20). Further, the idea of needing to earn the right to share the Gospel is often viewed through the lens of long-term relationships. Again, it should be acknowledged that a Christian should live a life of repentance that aligns with the words of Gospel proclamation, and thus seek to gain more opportunities to leverage for Gospel proclamation (Col. 4:5-6). While this is true, it is also true that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). Christians shouldn’t presume upon tomorrow (Jas. 4:13-17). The Bible warns against this. Now is the time for people to turn to Christ. Today is the day of salvation. The Gospel can be preached to anyone and everyone, today. Preach the Gospel!
4. I’m not gifted at sharing the Gospel.
It is easier to excuse yourself of not fulfilling your responsibility to evangelize if you over emphasize the difference between Christians who are gifted verses Christians who aren’t gifted in evangelism, and you put yourself on the side of not being gifted. Some people are more gifted than you at sharing the Gospel. There are people who have an exceptional gift to share the Gospel, and they are called to equip the saints (Eph. 4:11-12). However, Christian, if you know the Gospel, believe the Gospel, and you’ve been saved by the Gospel, then you have all you need to share the Gospel. Further, in the Great Commission God promises to be with you in making disciples (Matt. 28:20). You may be the most awkward person in the world, and the least gifted, but if you have God with you, then what can possibly stop you from sharing the Gospel? Your lack of giftedness is no barrier for God. Preach the Gospel!
These half-truths that some embrace as full-truth in evangelism can be divisive and silencing for Gospel unity and proclamation. For some they embrace these half-truths as full-truth because they create false dichotomies, categorical errors, or false inferences. For others it may be more of a heart issue. Identifying these half-truths as half-truths means that the full-truth must be embraced. This means putting to death excuses for not evangelizing and responding to the Holy Spirit’s leading to evangelize. This can be difficult. The flesh is tugging to embrace comfort over a cross. Satan loves when Christians make excuses to be silent. The world loves a Christian who wants to be cool with the culture. However, Christians must embrace the full-truth no matter the cost. God’s Word does not return void (Isa. 55:11). God uses ordinary Christians like you and me to share the Gospel. If you don’t preach the Gospel, who else will? The Gospel truly saves. Don’t be ashamed of it. Preach the Gospel!