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World Congress on Evangelism, 1966
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METHODS OF PERSONAL EVANGELISM
by Richard C. Halverson


Text: “He that soweth good seed is the son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom...” (Matthew 13:37—38).

Evangelism never seemed to be an “issue” in the New Testament. That is to say, one does not find the apostles urging, exhorting, scolding, planning, and organizing for evangelistic programs. In the apostolic church, evangelism was somehow “assumed,” and it functioned without special techniques or special programs. Evangelism happened! Issuing effortlessly from the community’ of believers as light from the sun, it was automatic, spontaneous, continuous, contagious.

Roland Allen, Anglican missionary to China (1895-1903), parish pastor in England, and, missionary author, contrasts the contemporary with the New Testament evangelistic approach as follows: “When we turn from the restless entreaties and exhortations which fill the pages of our modern missionary magazines to the pages of the New Testament, we are astonished at the change in the atmosphere. St. Paul does not repeatedly exhort his churches to subscribe money for the propagation of the faith; he is far more concerned to explain to them what the faith is, and how they ought to practice and keep it. The same is true of St. Peter and St. John, and of all the apostolic writers; they do not seem to feel any necessity to repeat the Great Commission, and to urge that it is the duty of their converts to make disciples of all nations. What we read in the’ New Testament is not anxious appeal to Christians to spread the Gospel, but a note here and there which suggests how the Gospel was being spread abroad ... for centuries the Christian Church continued to expand by its own inherent grace (italics ours), and threw up an unceasing supply of missionaries without any direct exhortation” (Roland. Allen, The Spontaneous Expansion of the Church, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962, p. 6).

Four statements recorded by Luke show this spontaneous expansion of the apostolic church by virtue of its inner health. “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”(Acts 2:46-4:7). “And the word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and some great companies of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7). “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified. Walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Acts 9:31). “And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily (Acts l6:5).

The sense of spontaneity and of effortlessness is inescapable in these accounts of’ additions to the primitive church. As the “word of God increased,” as believers in fellowship “were edified” and “walked in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost,” as they were “established in the faith,” converts were “added daily.” Because of its spiritual health, the apostolic church experienced exciting and effective evangelistic results with monotonous regularity. It is a safe assumption that evangelism is inevitable in a spiritually roust congregation. Failure to be evangelistic or “mission minded” in the New Testament sense betrays a poor spiritual condition. The way to evangelistic vigor is not some special emphasis or program, but rather repentance and healing and nurture. The very necessity for organizing special evangelistic efforts betrays the deep need of the church for renewal. One might as well exhort a. woman with a barren womb to have children as to exhort a sterile church to evangelize or respond to missions.

Evangelism was not optional in the New Testament; Jesus did. not say “... ye may be witnesses unto me after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Nor on the other hand was evangelism coercive. Jesus did not say “... ye must be witnesses unto me ...“ Rather, evangelism was inescapable! Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). That is to say, the Spirit—empowered Christian was a witness, not because he elected to be or was compelled to be, but because the Divine Witness indwelt him and worked through him. They did not witness because they hd to but because they could not help it. “We cannot help but speak the things which we have seen and heard”.(Acts 4:23). “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” Jesus promised with absolute certainty, “he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall be do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father” (John 14:12). What Jesus had. done in the world, those who believed on Him would do also, not because they chose to, nor because it was required of them, but because they would be embodied by the same Spirit Who had done the work in and through the incarnate Christ. Through Spirit—empowered disciples the world would be convicted of “sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).

Those early disciples were no less human than we, no less subject to temptation, no less dogged by human weakness and inadequacy. They had none of the so-called advantages we enjoy in our contemporary churches because of nineteen centuries of history and tradition; their world was certainly no less hostile to the Gospel of Christ than ours; yet with their witness they “turned the world upside down.” They were of one mind. Their witness was unanimous because their infilling with the Holy Spirit was unanimous. Their witness was unanimous because they “continued, steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42).

The Anglican commentator, W. H. Griffith Thomas, has said, “It is a fact, perhaps a significant fact, that throughout the epistles of the New Testament, where naturally, we find full instruction for Christians, there is only one exhortation to do the work of evangelism (II Timothy 2:5); while appeals to carry out the duty of foreign missions are equally conspicuous by their absence. On the other band, the Christian life, its provisions and possibilities, its secrets and methods, its duties and responsibilities, will be found emphasized everywhere. Is there any connection between the silence and the emphasis? May it not be a reminder that when the Christian life is what it should be, the duty of evangelization at home and abroad will be the natural and necessary outcome, as effect to cause, as stream to source?”

The New Testament clearly shows that Jesus expected every disciple to be an evangelist in the sense of being a witness; this expectation was certain of fulfillment moreover, because of the promised Holy Spirit Who filled all the disciples waiting in the upper room and apparently all who were subsequently added to the fellowship. It is likewise abundantly clear in the New Testament that despite their weak and sinful humanity, those early Christians were often found exhorting and encouraging one another, confessing their faults one to another, praying for one another and bearing one another’s burdens, honoring and esteeming one another better than self. Whatever they did individually in their witness for Christ, they shared with others who prayed for them and studied the apostles’ doctrine with them. In short, fellowship was essential to their witness. Indeed, authentic Christian fellowship was the matrix of New Testament evangelism. Witnessing proceeded out of fellowship forward and into fellowship. “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3). J. B. Phillips translates the verse following (4) “... the more that fellowship extends, the greater the joy it brings to us who are already in it.” Commenting on this particular verse in his exposition of First John, G. G. Findlay says, “We have a great secret in common – we and the Apostles. The Father told it to Jesus, Jesus to them, they to us, and we to others. Those who have seen and heard such things cannot keep the knowledge to themselves” (George G. Findlay, Fellowship in the Life Eternal, an exposition of the Epistles of John, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1919, p. 89). “Evangelism in its pure form simply means to tell men what God has done for them in Christ” (author unknown).

The world has nothing to offer that is comparable to authentic Christian fellowship, no social structure or unit or function which corresponds even remotely. Lodges, clubs, fraternities, secret societies, taverns, bars, and so on, are the best that secularism can provide, and surely they fall infinitely short of the satisfaction and. fulfillment brought by Christian fellowship. Exposed to this unique spiritual relationship, contemporary, sophisticated, pagan man finds a quality therein completely lacking in any other associations. In and of itself, fellowship in the New Testament sense is a testimony to the world, a demonstration of the efficacy of redemption. The unregenerate man finds it attractive, compelling, fulfilling. This explains, partially at least, Luke’s observation that the early disciples “had favour with all the people” (Acts 2:47).

Whatever evangelistic impact the individual Christian may have on the world where Christ “sows” him, much depends upon his relationship with other Christians. Fellowship is fundamental to effective personal evangelism. Evangelistic methods can never be a substitute for it. However thoughtfully propagated and cleverly applied, methods will be ultimately fruitful or futile depending upon the quality of Christian community into and out from which those who use them move. In this context the significance of Jesus remarkable promise in Matthew 18:19-20 and his sending forth of the disciples two by two can be most deeply appreciated. It is hardly accidental that at this point Matthew should record Peter’s question concerning forgiveness and our Lord’s penetrating answer (Matthew 18:21-35). “Then,” we read, “came Peter to him and said, ‘Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Til seven times?’ Jesus saith unto him, ‘I say not unto thee, until seven times; but until seventy times seven.’”Reconciliation between Christians is an absolute requisite to fellowship. In the opening. words of his first epistle, the Apostle John establishes the centrality of fellowship as the evangelistic goal and motive. He then instructs his readers concerning the nature of that fellowship --. a matter of basic honesty about oneself (I John 1:5-10). To “walk in darkness,” that is to say “that we have no sin,” is to be self-deceived and to frustrate fellowship. To “walk in the light,” which means to acknowledge or “confess our sins,” is to be forgiven and cleansed and to “have fellowship one with another.”

In the apostolic church, the relationship between believers and God and between fellow believers was paramount. The light and warmth and love, the forgiveness and acceptance that emanated from that unique community penetrated a jaded, bored, loveless, weary culture and awakened the spiritual hunger of both Jew and pagan. “Lo, how they love one another!” it was said of them; sinsick, fed-up men tried to understand the strange and inviting qua1ity of life that marked the disciples. In such an appealing atmosphere, lost men were ready to hear those who could not “help but speak of the things which they had seen and heard.”

Today in personal evangelism the tendency is to ignore the relationships within the Christian community and to be pre-occupied instead with the individual Christian’s relationship to those outside of the church. As a consequence one of the
greatest stumblingblocks to the world outside the church is the way Christians treat each other. It is not inconceivable that today’s world might be inclined to say with some justification as it views the church, “lo, how they dislike one another” The faithful work of zealous Christians in personal evangelism is often neutralized by the attitudes and actions within the Christian family. The corporate image of the Church often nullifies the faithful witness of individual members. And there is that peculiar phenomenon, the zealous Christian, who in his desire to do personal work, walks a guarded, careful
way among unbelievers, but who within the Christian community acts like the devil himself.

Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John.l3:35). In his lesson on prayer (Matthew 6:6-15) Jesus underscored one petition in the model prayer, as if to cite it as essential to Christian conduct: “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” In regard to offering as a part of worship (Matthew 5:23-34) Jesus cautioned, “Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” Paul’s description of the delicate balance that God in His sovereignty has achieved in placing each member of the body (I Corinthians 12:18-26) suggests the gentlest, tenderest of relationships among Christians: “... the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.” Roland Allen describes the spontaneous expansion of the Church as something which “follows the irresistible attraction of the Christian church for men who see its ordered life, and are drawn to it by desire to discover the secret of a life which they instinctively desire to share” (Op. Cit., p.7).

All evangelism is born out of such a relationship and personal evangelism in the true New Testament sense will be the inevitable and abundant fruit of such renewal in the Church. Outside of this context, methods of personal evangelism can be perilous indeed. Methods wrongly born may attract, indoctrinate, and regiment certain zealous persons in a way that produces self-conscious “spiritually elite” individuals preoccupied with “results,” who tend to think of themselves as superior to those not so inclined. This kind of situation militates against the fellowship and hence defeats witness; moreover, it tends also to suggest to the rest of the Christian community the false view that apart from a special course in personal work and in mastering evangelistic methods, one is not qualified to bear witness to an outsider. We do not discredit methods properly taught and practiced (the Holy Spirit uses means); we insist, rather that they always be kept in the context of the total life of the Christian community and subordinate to the ministry of the Spirit of God within believers as individuals and as a body.

Evangelism in the finest New Testament tradition is the vocation of every believer; for this calling, the Holy Spirit of God will equip him through “the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers.” Any methodology which produces a kind of semiprofessional class of evangelist within the Christian community, implying that personal evangelism is limited to those who have the time and/or inclination to take special courses and learn special methods, militates against total involvement, justifies those who default and discourages those unable to enroll for and master certain evangelistic techniques. In such a situation the distinctive feature is not one’s relationship to Jesus Christ, to the Holy Spirit and to others in the Christian family, but rather an artificial “system” which, however effectively used by its proponents, tends to make all others, voluntarily or involuntarily, feel useless so far as evangelism is concerned.

It is important at this point to distinguish between the general Christian community and those independent organizations founded for specific evangelistic thrust in a specialized way to a particular group or groups. This paper is to be understood in the context of the Christian congregation as it exists in its natural form, a microcosm of the universal church, a heterogenous community bound together in a particular fellowship. It does not apply to organizations of specialists, homogenous in nature, drawn out of many congregations, uniform in methods, dedicated and trained for a clearly defined and limited evangelistic purpose. As far as the writer can tell, the New Testament does not contain specific instructions for such groups, but rather addresses itself to the total Christian family: the strong and the weak, the attractive and the unattractive, the gifted and the not so gifted, the brilliant and the humble. The Church of Christ is made up of all kinds of sheep. “One sows, another waters, but God gives the increase.” The Church has its Pauls and its Barnabases, its Peters and its Andrews, its Stephens and its Simons, its Marys and its Marthas.

This suggests another grave danger in a methodology that does not take into account the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the total Christian community. That is the tendency to regimentation which hinders a Christian from being himself in the fullness of the Holy Spirit and. the fellowship. Under these conditions his Christian influence becomes something else than it might be if he were really himself, unique among other Christians in bearing his personal influence for Christ to those among whom he is placed and to whom he is peculiarly fitted. Instead, under the pressure of the system, he tends to become like the one whose methods he is learning; the implication is, of course, that what works for one, person will work for everyone in the same way. Within limits this generalization may be true, but if it prohibits a Christian from finding himself with the endowment given at birth or by the Holy Spirit, then such a system is sub-Christian and perilous.

The one completely safe and dependable manual on personal evangelism and witness is the New Testament; yet the fact remains that the more one studies the New Testament the less one can deduce from it a system of personal evangelistic methods. Jesus employed a different approach with each person. He reminded Nicodemus that he “must be born again;” so far as we know, Jesus never said these words to any other. He spoke quite differently to the Samaritan woman at the well. And with the rich young ruler or the questioning lawyer he again used entirely different techniques. His dealing with the man born blind was different, not only from the approach used with others in general, but even that used with other blind men. Jesus dealt with no two seekers alike. His ways with men were as diverse as those to whom he spoke and with whom he reasoned. One factor alone remained constant in Jesus contacts with men and that was His personal presence. This self-same fact of His presence, incidentally, is guaranteed every personal evangelist who labors in the fulness of the Holy Spirit (II Cor. 2:15).

Andrew’s approach was different from Peter’s and both men in turn were unlike Paul, this one who determined to be “all things to all men, that he might by all means save some.” Neither Peter nor Paul lay down systems or methods, except in the most general sense, whereby their disciples might propagate the Gospel. “The things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also,” Paul had exhorted his young disciple Timothy, and that was the extent to which he passed on his methods to his disciples. They were to transmit a message to men who in turn would transmit it to still others; just how this message would be propagated was left to the personality and gifts of each messenger. No one, in fact, was so emphatic in insisting on the diversity of each Christian’s witness as was Paul. “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office...” (Romans 12:3-4). He besought every Christian to “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.” He wrote, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” He portrayed “the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part ...” (Ephesians 4:16).

Paul comprehended the marvelous diversity in the body and the interdependence of each part: “If the foot shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, ‘Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body;’ is it therefore not of the body’?” Then Paul asks with irresistible logic, “If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? ... And if all were one member, where were the body?” (I Corinthians 12:15-19). Diversity is of the essence in the unity of the Church, and to destroy this diversity is to destroy the unity! However noble their purpose, we must beware of institutionalized methods that indoctrinate and regiment and fashion every Christian into a common mold or a carbon copy.

Paul’s understanding of the mission of the Church is most clearly given in his letter to the Ephesians where he describes Christ’s giving of gifts to men: “... he gave some, apostles; and some, pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11-12). Each Christian is “equipped for the work of ministry” as he is empowered by the Holy Spirit and instructed in the apostles’ doctrine, in fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayer with other disciples. He becomes able to testify to the reality and relevance of Jesus Christ on the basis of personal experience. He becomes able to communicate to others the facts concerning Jesus Christ upon which this personal relationship is based. Taught in the Scriptures, he has a defensible faith and is able “to give answer to him that asks, the reason of the hope that is within him.” He does this in his own distinctive way and with his own choice of words among those with whom he is associated wherever the Lord “sows” him in the world. “Spontaneous expansion begins with the individual effort of the individual Christian to assist his fellow, when common experience, common difficulties, common toils have first brought the two together. It is this equality and community of experience which makes the one deliver his message in terms which the other can understand, and makes the hearer approach the subject with sympathy and confidence -- with sympathy because the common experience makes approach easy and natural, with confidence, because the one is accustomed to understand what the other says and expects to understand him now” (Roland Allen, Op. Cit ., p. 10).

Now empowered by the Holy Spirit the Christian becomes a witness for Christ in everything he does, wherever he may be, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. He recognizes he has been “apprehended by Christ” for a purpose and like Paul seeks to “apprehend” that purpose. All he does, even the trivial, mundane things of life, he does to the glory of God. He believes that he is where he is, not by the accident of circumstance, but by the sovereign placement of God. His witness begins where he is in what he is doing among those with whom he associates. Spontaneous expansion is “the expansion which follows the unexhorted and unorganized activity of individual members of the Church explaining the Gospel which they have found for themselves ...“ (Roland Allen, Op. Cit., p. 7).

What must be done to bring Christians to this place of positive, effective witness? What means are to be used to guarantee that each Christian will fulfill his vocation as Christ intended, using the methods which are peculiar to him in the Spirit and suited to those among whom Christ plants him and to whom Christ sends him?

(1) Each Christian must be made to realize that the work of the ministry belongs to every Christian. It is not reserved for a relatively few professionals peculiarly equipped and educated to evangelize; nor can it be delegated to a group of semi-professionals who have been given a special indoctrination in evangelistic techniques. The empowering of the Holy Spirit qualifies the Christian for witness and Jesus Christ promised Him to every believer. As the Holy Spirit worked through Him in His incarnation, so the Holy Spirit will work through all who believe in Him now. Actually, there is only one Evangelist, one Preacher, one Missionary, one Witness; and that One is the Holy Spirit Who will do His work in and through all who take Christ and His mission seriously. The Great Commission is the personal, inescapable obligation of every Christian, no exceptions!

(2) Keeping this vision of total involvement in constant view, Christians must be instructed in the Scriptures in order to know Christ’s person and mission in history, the reason for His death by crucifixion and the significance of His resurrection.

(3) They must know that the warfare in which they are engaged in evangelism is “spiritual” warfare and that the only weapon provided by God for this conflict is the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:7). Their main discipline therefore is to study the Scriptures that they may become increasingly proficient in using them (II Timothy 3:14-17).

(4) Christians must be encouraged to “lead from weakness” as Paul did (I Corinthians 2:3); they must learn to depend upon the efficacy of their weapon and upon the presence and, power of the Holy Spirit. Here again the inclination to lean upon methods rather than upon the Holy Spirit can be a peril; propagating methods of personal evangelism, if not carefully guarded, may imply that one must “lead from strength” or somehow be stronger than those to whom he speaks. It is almost as if the potential convert must be “conquered,” an outcome which demands superior strength on the part of the evangelist. If not guarded against this, the trainee gets the idea that not to get a decision constitutes failure, an outcome which the methods are intended to preclude. Under such compulsion the arguments must be strengthened,, the approach refined, the tactics perfected for the sake of maximum results. It is so easy to overlook the fact that Jesus often did not get a positive response. The rich young ruler, for example, “went away sorrowful.” This strategy is the way of the world, but it is not the way of the Spirit lest a man’s faith “stand in the wisdom of men, rather than in the power of God” (I Corinthians 2:5). Weakness is a positive asset to the Christian! (II Corinthians 12:10).

(5) Christians must be joined with others in authentic fellowship in order to share their experiences, burdens, victories and defeats, weaknesses and faults, hopes and aspira- tions. They must have opportunity to pray for one another, to bear one another’s burdens, to exhort, to rebuke and. admonish one another “in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” They must study the Scriptures together and learn from each other as the Spirit illuminates. They must learn to take seriously the Lord’s profound promises as given in Matthew 18:19—20; Luke 11:13; John 14:12; Acts 1:8; and elsewhere.

(6) ‘Christians must conceive of their lives as constituting a plan of God, and must consider what they do as a sacred vocation and where they are as God’s place for them. They must believe that their ordinary tasks, fulfilled as unto the Lord, are as productive for eternity as are those of their pastor. They must know God has placed them where they ‘are as His contact, His distribution center, His agent or ambassador or vessel by and through which He speaks and loves and works. They must believe that if the world where they live and work and socialize ‘is to be evangelized, they are the means the Spirit of God will use.

(7): Christians must be encouraged’ to be themselves as “God has gifted them; to give themselves (ROmans 12:1—2) to Christ as living sacrifices in and through which His ‘will may be demonstrated. They must learn to depend implicitly upon the indwelling Spirit to do the work of Christ by them and to witness to Christ through them. And they must learn to walk by faith insofar as results are concerned, realizing that there are no adequate criteria by which any Christian may measure his effectiveness. They must realize that to desire such criteria in order to ascertain how successful they are is a kind of lust that is unbecoming, indeed may be a pious indulgence which is in direct contradiction to our Lord’s exhortation to self-denial (Luke 9:23; cf. Luke 10:20). Success as such is an illusion, “it is required in stewards that a man be foimd faithful (I Corinthians 4:2). They must learn to “walk by faith” in this also and to leave the results of their walk and witness with the Lord.

(8) Christians should recall continually the lesson John 15 that the one who “abideS’in’Christ and in whom His”word-jz abides” will bring forth “much fruit “ as Christ promised. The basic strategy for maximum Christian effectiveness is the abiding life. When we abide in Him and His word abides in us, we can be sure that fruit is abounding. Not because we see the fruit, but because we are abiding!

The above eight suggestions, incidentally, place a tremendous obligation upon and opportunity before the “some” who are prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. These “some” whom Christ has given to the Church have their work. clearly cut out for them. Whatever it takes in preaching and teaching, fellowship, counselling and guidance “to equip God’s people for work in. His service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12 IcrEB) is their mandate.

The methods of evangelism are legion. They are as numerous and diverse as the vast number of persons to be reached plus those who are to reach them. The worldwide task of evangelism will be realized, not by organizing for evangelism as though it were a department of church life requiring increased emphasis and effort; but by the renewal of the Church with a fresh infusion of the life of the Spirit. In his introduction to Letters to Young Churches, J. B. Phillips has expressed it vividly. “There is one other point that should be made before the letters are read. Without going into wearisome historical details, we need to remember that these letters were written, and the lives they indicate were led, against a background of paganism. There were no churches, no Sundays, no books about the Faith. Slavery, sexual immorality, cruelty, callousness to human suffering, and a low standard of public opinion, were universal; travelling and communications were chancy, and. perilous; most people were illiterate. Nany Christians today talk about the difficulties of our times as though we should have to wait for better ones before the Christian religion can take root. It is heartening to remember that this faith took root and flourished amazingly in conditions that would have killed anything less vital in a matter of weeks. These early Christians were on fire with the conviction that they had become, through Christ, literally sons of God, they were pioneers of a new humanity, founders of a new Kingdom. They still speak to us across the centuries. Perhaps if we believed what they believed, we might achieve what they achieved” (J.. B. Phillips, Introduction to Letters to Young Churches).


 

 


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