Archive: A Call to Biblical Evangelism

We would like to share with you a few portions of the address our Chairman, Ed Robb, delivered recently at our Good News Convocation in Anderson, Indiana. – Charles W. Keysor, Editor

We may be experiencing the beginning of the Third Great Awakening!

Extreme darkness preceding dawn is a regular event in the history of revival, and truly we are in a dark period of our history.

Malcom Muggeridge said at the Congress on World Evangelization in Switzerland in 1974, “We may be entering another dark age and the tragedy is we don’t even realize it.”

Situation ethics is taking its toll.

Homosexuality is considered by some church leaders as a valid alternate Christian lifestyle.

Marriage as a sacred institution is in peril. There will be one divorce for every two marriages in America this year.

Permissive abortion has been legalized with the blessing of the church. We are seeing the slaughter of millions of unborn children in an increasingly amoral society.

Despite the indiscriminate use of the pill and millions of abortions, there were more illegitimate births than legitimate ones in Washington, D.C. in 1975.


There is little wonder we have lost our moral influence. I quote from a letter written by a United Methodist minister to a friend of mine. “… Many people have wonderful meaningful experiences of love and sexual intercourse apart from any marriage covenant … many extra-marital relationships are not casual. They have their own contract or covenant. ‘Sacred marriage vows’ are what each couple agrees [their vows] will be … they define what loyalty and commitment to the relationship means. Whether a person is a virgin or not has nothing to do with [his or her] ability to enter a binding covenant in the present.”

Alas, antinomianism from the ministry!

I have a letter in my files from a lay leader of one of the strong conferences in United Methodism. He recently had a conference with the cabinet and bishop because of their concern about charismatic activity in the laymen’s program. As a non-tongues-speaking United Methodist I have a question: “Why do we become so concerned about the excesses of those who are excited about the Gospel, but seemingly are undisturbed by the statements of radical secularists who question or deny the faith?”

For example, a minister on the west coast was quoted recently as saying he had come to see that the Bible was not the Word of God—but the word of man. This same man is reported to have joined homosexuals in a covenant service.

Ichabod! What cabinet and bishop have questioned him?

Dr. Dow Kirkpatrick has written of a recent trip to Cuba in the “Here I Stand ” column in July 22 issue of The United Methodist Reporter. He quoted Dr. Sergio Arce, the president of a theological seminary in Cuba as saying, “The first task of evangelism is to confront Christians who are not atheist in the head, but are atheist of the heart. Marx was an atheist of the head, but not of the heart.” A strange description for Karl Marx who advocated class hatred and violence! Dr. Kirkpatrick also writes, “Aldersgate announces it feebly, May Day celebrates with a shout—the creation of the new humanity.”

And he is on the staff of the Board of Global Ministries!

Shall we be discouraged?

Shall we quit?


It is darkest just before dawn.

We have seen the impotence of liberalism and the destructiveness of the radical secularist.

There has never been a greater openness to the Gospel. There are encouraging signs in the church.


We can be encouraged.

There are 40 million persons in America today who profess to be regenerated Christians.

The New York Times book review section has confessed that if it were to include evangelical books among its nonfiction best sellers, they would fill the top ten places.

Evangelical seminaries are training a large proportion of our new ministerial candidates.

Most of the nation’s large churches are now evangelical.

Dr. Richard Lovelace of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary has reminded us, “All too often evangelicals are unrealistically pessimistic about their growth, and prepared to abandon a church which is just waking up to the meaning of [the evangelicals’] success.”

He continues, “The fictitious truism that ‘once a denomination starts downhill it never recovers’ is being steadily disproved. Those who doubt should look at the history of the Anglican Church, which has bloomed again and again with new life when the tide of spiritual life rose in the people, and which has developed strong evangelical leadership again today.”

Both the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York are evangelicals, and 45 percent of the newly ordained in the Church of England are evangelicals, according to Dr. John Stott.

Too often evangelicals have adopted an outlook on history which predicted decline and apostasy in the nation and the church. Most Christians stopped praying and working for revival, and proceeded to dig into spiritual bomb shelters and wait for the coming of Christ.


I have learned that if you want the maximum ministry out of the church, you must begin by putting the maximum of Jesus into the program of the church! If you do that, then the biggest problems you will have will be—where you are going to seat all the people, and how you are going to spend all the money.

Let us not be afraid of the power of the Holy Spirit that comes when men and women surrender their lives to Jesus.

Most of our evangelism in The United Methodist Church has been ineffective because it is difficult to win persons to a corpse. When the church comes alive—a warm, caring, sharing, redeeming fellowship- persons will be attracted and open to the message of Christ.


We must stop pretending that everything that calls itself evangelism is legitimate, laudable, and worth supporting.

Social action may be needed, but it is not evangelism.

Christian education is necessary for nurture, but it is not necessarily evangelism.

Worship is the heart of the Christian faith, but it may not be evangelism.

Membership recruitment is not synonymous with evangelism. In the 50s we brought many into the church who had no personal experience with Christ and did not follow Him in discipleship.


It is time we stopped majoring on secondary things and realize that the supreme task of the church is the evangelization of the world. This is the day of the evangelical!


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