Note: This is part of our current series “Correcting our Misconceptions about Evangelism” adapted from Larry Moyer’s book 21 Things God Never Said. See also: “Evangelism Misconception: You Need to Know what a Cult Member Believes (Part 1).”
Misconception: “To reach a cult member, you have to know what his cult believes.”
In my last post, I answered two questions: (1) What is a cult? And (2) Is it wrong to invite a cult member into your home?
Today, I want to address the topic: “To reach a cult member, why does a believer not have to know what that cult believes?”
A believer must know what Scripture teaches, not what the one in error believes.
Paul explains one purpose for God giving spiritual gifts to people in the church:
“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting” (Eph. 4:11–14).
As maturing believers, learning the Word from gifted people prevents us from being spiritually immature infants, easily swayed and confused. It prevents us from being tossed back and forth by every gust of wind of teaching. Those gusts are produced by those who deceitfully attempt to move others toward a system of error.
When God brings a cult member to your door, He did not bring him there for him to talk to you but for you to talk to him. The one in error has no message for you. You have a message for him. I met a Mormon and engaged in conversation. After turning the conversation to spiritual things, I gave him an evangelistic tract, explaining its message. He was shocked that I gave him something to read. It’s usually the opposite—they give us their material. He did not have news I needed to hear. I had news he needed to hear.
God uses the truth of the gospel to convict.
Paul gives a helpful reminder in 2 Corinthians 4. First, he states that unlike his opponents, he did not distort the Word of God. He then reminds the Corinthians:
“But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:3–5).
Why are some unwilling to accept the gospel? Their unbelief has been aided by the god of this age—Satan and his evil influences. He has so blinded minds that without the Holy Spirit it is impossible for people to understand the gospel.
So what did Paul present to those blinded by Satan? Paul focused on Christ who is the image of God. Christ and His truth, not deceivers and their error, was the focus of his message. As Christ is preached, the Holy Spirit convicts the lost of their need for Him. John explains the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit:
“And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (John 16:8).
The Holy Spirit convicts of the need for Christ. The believer should so lay the truth before the lost that that truth anointed by the Holy Spirit can bring the lost to Christ.
Another passage where Paul affirms that God uses the message of the cross to convict is 1 Corinthians 1:21, 23:
“For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. . . but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness.”
The Jews thought Christ would bring in a political kingdom and they would be the administrators. Greeks, seeking after wisdom, emphasized philosophy. But God gave them the message of the cross, the message of a crucified Christ. Through the cross, God revealed the foolishness of men at its worst and the wisdom of God at its best. God offered what logic and debate couldn’t—how to redeem the world through a crucified Christ. In the cross the wisdom of the world is seen for what it is not. The wisdom of God is seen for what it is. In the cross the power of man is seen for what it isn’t. The power of God is seen for what it is. God uses the message of the cross to convict. Scripture exhorts us to keep that message simple and clear.
Stay with me as I conclude my answers on Friday!