“And so that is how Reformed people do Evangelism.”
The rousing applause snapped Baxter out of his daydreaming and he quickly joined in hand clapping accolades.
Baxter had no idea what had been said over the last 20 minutes of the presentation. He had slipped into a daydream about turkey hunting with the under 25, all blond female hunting club from Sweden. Even after coming back to reality he was amazed at the marksmen skill of those women and how good they could still look in camouflage.
The leader of the Transylvania Reformed Global Missions dismissed the class into their breakout groups in order to share with each other their thoughts on the presentation.
Baxter’s group consisted of four women (who he doubted could qualify for the all blond female hunting club) and two guys (who he thought might be able to qualify for the all blond female hunting club), and himself.
Amber, who had been elected group Facilitator started, the conversation.
“I especially liked it when Rev. Goforth said that there may be situations where we deal with people groups who couldn’t make any sense why someone would ask Jesus into their hearts but who could make sense that someone might ask Jesus into their throats.”
Jason chimed in enthusiastically,
“Yes, it just goes to show how flexible we need to be in presenting the Gospel.”
The rest of the group nodded in four part harmony.
“I was wondering if any of you could help me out here. Where do we see in Scripture the warrant that conversion consists of asking Jesus into any of our anatomical body parts?”
“Well the bible does say if we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts, that God has raised Jesus from the dead, we shall be saved.”
“Sure,” Baxter offered, “but that is communicating that we must believe with our whole being or person. I would have no problem saying to people who believed that the throat stood for the center of their being that they must believe in their throats. Still, I don’t find that to be a warrant to say to them that if they ask Jesus into their throats they shall be saved.”
Jason piped up, “Baxter, why must you be such a knit picker about these things?”
“Well Jason,” Baxter answered, “I surely have better things to do then pick knits but I think there is something underlying this that isn’t particularly Reformed.”
“We’re a captive audience to your wisdom,” Jason quipped.
“You’re too generous Jason,” Baxter replied.
“It is just that I think we need to be careful about making the asking of Jesus into our hearts, throats, pancreases, livers or whatever into a new sacrament or some kind of formula for salvation. Certainly we need to communicate the eagerness of God to forgive those turn to Christ but we also need to communicate that “salvation is of the Lord.”
Beth Ann pushed Baxter to explain himself more thoroughly.
“Here is my concern,” Baxter offered obligingly, “if we push the whole idea of conversion as people doing something, such as asking Jesus into some part of their anatomy, we run the risk of having them base their salvation on some action on their part or on some experience they had. It seems to me Reformed evangelism has always offered instead how God does the the working in Salvation. This is why I think Baptism should be the point of conversion that we should point people to look back to since Baptism proclaims Jesus and is the initiatory sign into the covenant.
What we have had emphasized today in the lecture on Reformed Evangelism is the penultimate side of the conversion coin. It is true that it is absolutely necessary that we must confess with our mouths and believe with our hearts that God has raised Jesus from the dead but that is really only the penultimate part of the equation. The ultimate part of the equation is that God does the work of salvation and the promise that he has done that work is not found in our confession but in our Baptism.”
Malika brightened and responded,
“So what you’re saying Baxter is that though our response to God’s graciousness is necessary, that response is not itself the Gospel.”
Baxter beamed back and hollered “precisely.” “When we zero in on asking Jesus into our colons the emphasis in evangelism falls on our response and though our response is necessary the emphasis should fall on how God does all the saving.”
Amber, seeing that their time in the breakout groups was winnowing away, insisted that the group spend some time on other matters brought up in the lecture on how Reformed people do Evangelism.
On that score she queried, “What did you all think of that new thing we learned from Rev. Goforth called TULIP?”
There was a good deal of exciting chattering beginning but Baxter felt himself being pulled back into his daydream. He began to smell the kill cooking from the morning hunt. Not only could those Swedish girls shoot but they could cook as well.