What is evangelism? In my sermon this Sunday, you will hear me say basically this: that the gospel is not being shared unless we are communicating the death of Jesus for the sins of the world in order to make peace with God. His death was the necessary sacrifice to cover all the wrongdoing of all who ever lived and ever will live, for all time.  As a sign that God the Father accepted it as “enough,” and approved of Christ’s death as an adequate payment for peace to be re-established with men, He raised Jesus back from the dead.  And what is the promise to any and all who believe that what Jesus did for us was “enough” to save us?  The promise is 1) death with Him – the death of our past, the death of our ‘slave-to-sin’ genetic default, the death of our sin-debt to God, the death of failure and a dead-end life.  And the promise is 2) life with Him – life with God, life with a future, life with a purpose, life with power, life with direction, life for all eternity!

If we think we are “sharing Jesus” by just being nice, by trying to make others happy, by being loving, but stopping there – if we don’t tell them about the death of Jesus in our place as the only way to have peace with God, then we are not evangelizing.  Compassion is not evangelism.  It is not enough to save. All of the things just mentioned, if done without mention of the person and work of Jesus, fall under the category of ‘redemptive,’ but not redeeming.

Don Richardson is “a Canadian Christian missionary, teacher, author and international speaker who worked among the tribal people of Western New Guinea, Indonesia. He demonstrates in his writings how, hidden among tribal cultures, there are usually some practices or understandings, that he calls "redemptive analogies", which can be used to illustrate the meaning of the Christian Gospel” (Wikepedia).  So what does he mean by ‘redemptive’ analogies vs. something that would be ‘redeeming?’  Richardson explains it this way -- “’Redeeming would mean that…people could find relationship with God through their own lore, apart from the gospel.  ‘Redemptive’ in this context means ‘contributing to the redemption of a people, but not culminating it” (59  Richardson, Eternity in Their Hearts).  The ‘redemptive analogies’ in their cultures are general revelation expressions about who God is, but don’t offer a means of getting to know Him.

What does ‘general revelation’ mean?  It is a term that describes clues left by God, about Himself. Not just in creation (Rom. 1:20), but even within the hearts of people (Ecclesiastes 3:11) -- an instinct, almost a 6th sense, that whispers quietly of something or Someone who is all-powerful but unknown.  But it stops there – so it is not enough to save.  And all the genuinely good things we do to help and to love people fall under the same category -- ‘contributing to the redemption of a people, but not culminating it’ – because mercy without God is nothing more than a general revelation expression of God. It can point strongly at the existence of a ‘God of Mercy,’ but can’t explain the means of obtaining God’s mercy – it’s not enough to save.

God wants more for people than a comfortable journey to the grave – He wants people to thrive, both in this life and in the life beyond the borders of the grave.  That’s why Jesus came to do more than just feed the hungry and heal the sick. That’s why Jesus had to die.  And the gospel isn’t the gospel without His death.

Your life, Christian, is the ultimate ‘Redemptive Analogy,’ and like all redemptive analogies, yours is meant to be a big, fat clue to the existence of God.  But don’t stop there.  Don’t let your life stop there.  We are called to be more than the ‘Church of the Redemptive,’ we are called to be ‘The Church of the Redeemed!’  Don’t leave people to guess at the clues– tell them the Answer.

Surrounded By Grace, 



  1. Well, thanks a lot Josh! :) Yesterday I was reviewing some notes from Bill's "The Secrets of a Highly Contented Life". I was really encouraged by what Bill said, that God is successful at showing His grace, and that a successful Christian is one who is a window through which you let others see the grace of God (revealing Christ). He said we are called to reveal God, but success (ie saving them) is God's job. Now I'm bummed out, that's not enough??

  2. Hi Canidice ~ Don't get me wrong - God is successful at showing His grace through general revelation (God sends the rain to the righteous and unrighteous alike, every good thing comes from above,etc.), but He's left it to Christians to fill in the missing blanks that connect the lost with Himself - and we have to tell them.

    Again, don't get me wrong; all the good stuff we do, the "doing unto others," the feeding the poor and healing the sick, all of those things "contribute" to the discovery of God -- they are arrows that point the way to God and help lead up to a conversation where we can explain the details - but those things are not "evangelism" - they are pre-evangelism,'redemptive,' but not redeeming. Don't be discouraged; you are right, it is ultimately God's job to save - but He does the saving after we do the telling. Which is still quite comforting, because with that perspective in mind, we can share the gospel and then leave the results of special revelation up to God without worry, because we've done our part. Thanks Candice.

  3. What a great message for our generation Josh! We do very well in the 'doing' department... but how great would it be if we were all stoked to 'say'!!

  4. Ernie says..

    I think this was a good reminder that we are supposed to speak up. Stand up and be counted! The good works in your life will only show alittle bit about your faith and since we dont do these good things for others to "see" us doing them but because the bible commands us to do them we need to tell those around us who are not saved about the gospel. The Lord uses us to plant the seeds and if we are lucky we get to see the fruit.

    "Faith is not a sword just to is a way of life." - Lester Sumrall

    "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." Romans 1:17

  5. I recently listened to a talk on 'Meaning' by Dr. Ravi Zacharias, the famous Christian apologist, speaker, author, etc. In his talk, he said this - "If there is nothing beyond the grave, if there is no resurrection, Justice becomes a mockery, love becomes a mockery, meaning becomes a mockery." I would also add, in light of our topic here, that if there is nothing beyond the grave, then all acts of mercy and compassion also become a mockery, because their effects die with the people they were lavished on.

    Thank you Candice, Ruth, and info, for your valuable input and insights on this post.


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*Grace induces faith & Grace is obligated to faith ~