“But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim. 4:5).
If one reads Paul’s writing to Timothy in this second letter from chapter three verse one to chapter four verse five, one will see that there were some great challenges ahead for Timothy in his work as an evangelist. Great challenges are not unusual when it comes to dealing with converting the hearts of men to Christ. Consider three challenges in evangelism.
- Secularism. Atheism, agnosticism, humanism and simple secular materialism abound in various circles of the world. There are even certain political structures that foster these philosophes. It is not uncommon to hear certain people openly profess that they do not believe in any supernatural being or power. Evolution and its effects have deceived people to accept the false conclusion that “this is all that there is in life, so make the most of your life while you can.” Solomon, in the book of Ecclesiastes, looked at life from the vantage point of living life without God and declared of such a worldview, “Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Eccl. 1:2). Peter wrote of the end of the material world, “Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” (2 Peter 3:11-12). Secularism denies the spiritual, eternal side of man and offers no real hope. The good news in the truth of the gospel is a welcomed balm for the wounds and despair of materialistic disappointments.
- “Spiritual But Not Religious”. Those who reject any type of organized religious structure but still believe in spiritual things are indeed a challenge in evangelism. While the Bible may be explored by this persuasion, it does not become the exclusive guide for living. Such would be “too narrow-minded” for this way of thinking. Paul knew the importance of divine revelation in contrast to human wisdom, religious or not (cf. 1 Cor. 1:18-2:13). The miraculously revealed and confirmed word of God stands in bold contrast to the mere thinking of “spiritual” thinkers. Peter declared to the saints, “We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19). True, saving faith is through the inspired word of God (cf. Rom. 10:17).
- Sectarian But Inclusive. A popular sentiment among some is in the statement, “There are faithful Christians in all denominations, so don’t be concerned about evangelizing those.” Such assumes that joining a human denomination is equal in substance to being added by the Lord (cf. Acts 2:47) to the church Jesus built (cf. Matt. 16:18-19; Eph. 2:19-21). There is to be “no division” among members of a local congregation (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10) much less among people who claim to be in Christ. Denominationalism is foreign to the prayer of Christ (cf. John 17:20-21) and the plan of God (cf. Eph. 1:10; 3:10-11). One is not being contentious or cultic by standing up for “one body” (Eph. 4:4) and “one faith” (Eph. 4:5). Sects are divisive by their nature with historical track records of multiple splintering. Let there be only one gospel (cf. Gal. 1:8-9).