During Tuesday’s online conference Europe OA leader gave guidance to preachers and teachers to focus studying and teaching the book of Romans clearly and deeply.
When trying to evangelize what should be the core of our message? In Europe if you try to go out and evangelize what is the obstacle you face? People say they are good, they think they are well as they are. They do not think they need God or Jesus or salvation. Whatever they think they need; they are seeking it in the world. Like Jesus said, the ones who are healthy do not need a doctor.
So first we need to become efficient at explaining deeply our current fallen situation, the deep world of sin inside men and in this world, this needs to be brought out, revealed. An alcoholic does not want to listen or realize that he is an alcoholic. The first stage he needs to overcome is denial. So, it is with the sinner.
One must be confronted with our sin and misery, and the consequences that sin has in this life and the life to come. Calvinists call it the total depravity of man. So when Paul started Romans, he first went and spoke deeply about the sin of gentiles and believers. It is dark. Paul spoke also about the wrath of God before the ungodliness and unrighteousness of evil men that bring harm to each other and themselves.
There is something in us where we want to avoid speaking about this deep dark world of sin, but we need to be the ones boldly proclaiming that and confronting people with that. That was the image of Peter and the 2 sermons he preached after Pentecost. He started by confronting the people of Jerusalem with their sin and having killed the author of life. This was not an easy thing to do from a human viewpoint, to confront the people that had been responsible for killing Jesus with their own sin. Isn’t it that the people could have turned against them and persecuted and killed them as well? But Peter spoke the hard words that needed to be spoken and the Holy Spirit worked convicting the people of their own sins. When they heard that, they felt cut in their hearts and sought repentance and salvation.
So generally, in the people, there is no eagerness for salvation, and the understanding they have of sin and salvation is very shallow. Even our own understanding of it is shallow compared with the reality of it. If we have a shallow understanding of sin and the fall, then we also have a shallow understanding and experience of salvation, and this becomes the problem inside the church. If there is a shallow realization of salvation, there is a lack of grace, and no eagerness and urgency to save people. There is no evangelism drive. That is the situation of most churches and believers in Europe. So we need to first awake ourselves to this reality and delve deeply into this world.
How was it for Paul? We believe; therefore we speak. When this clear realization comes to us it burns a fire that propels us to action, evangelism, and teaching. So we need to learn and teach clearly on the wrath of God, why God has wrath, and how we need to escape it.
In the end, leaders were also reminded to set well their target group for evangelism and to spend wisely their time and energy on raising potential leaders. A set of four parameters were suggested as a guideline for the target group.