Saturday, March 11, 2006

1 + 1 Not Equals 2, Evangelism and God's Fellow Workers

Arts House at Night

Almost a year after we exhibited there, we were back at The Arts House At The Old Parliament, looking in on homespun and hunching over a table in Earshot Café, threshing/trashing out ideas for an evangelistic event, when we chanced upon an old mate who was attempting to hydrate with alcoholic fluids and change clothes simultaneously (and not very successfully), waiting his turn on the makeshift stage outside.
EarShot CaféEarShot Café
Outside, on the lawn, there were people sitting on the green grass (not a Mosaic reference, although definitely suggesting an eyewitness account a la Mark) watching part of an event in celebration of the 2nd Anniversary of The Arts House (perhaps that it'd lasted so long), Volume II Bizarre: 1 + 1 Not Equals II.

It was meant to be a collaboration between dance and music, "an attempt to marry two unlikely artforms". So Cake Theatre was paired with Astreal and did a video of a plump woman gorging herself throughout a day while a man ate and dressed on stage, Moving Arts and Lunarin spoke in their different languages "about a girl" choreographed only the day before because Moving Arts had lost one member, and penultimately, Ah Hock and Peng Yu with Electrico, who didn't rehearse together and didn't have a common message, but just had fun, dancing and trying to upstage each other.

Lastly and happily, Singapore's first (must be emphasized cos we is Singaporean innit?) rock karaoke band, Localbarboy, came up to do covers of local hits, complete with a guy holding up the lyrics printed on the back of some glossy cheesy 2005 calendar. By then the audience had warmed up (they're Singaporean) and there was singing along and some couply slowdancers on the side.
1+1 not equals 2 collage
It was great fun, though still more 1+1=2.

Evangelism though is definitely the epitome of how 1 + 1 does not equal 2. Our work and God's work are not separate. Or to look at it from the other end, Christians are not grown separately from either faithful bible teachers and preachers or the will and power of God, either human responsibility or God's sovereignty, but both together.

God's Sovereignty and Evangelism
There is no doubt from the Bible that God is sovereign, that he is in control of the entire universe, its past, its present, and its future and everything in it. He created the world (Genesis) and he sustains it. Even the death of his Son on the cross was not a great surprise to God; he was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:23).

So if even the elect are chosen by God (1 Peter 1:2) before the world began, what is the point of evangelism?

Evangelism is not the act of successfully converting the lost, but is rather concerned with faithfully delivering the message. We cannot hope, by bells and whistles (or tambourines or catchy rock riffs), or the latest in persuasion techniques, to change forever the mind and heart of a sinner enslaved to his sin (Romans 6). It is only God through his Spirit who must and who can do this. If we could change our own minds and hearts, we would not need Jesus to die on the cross for us, to break our bondage to sin (Romans 6). We could have done so ourselves and taught others to do the same.

It is true that God is the Almighty and the All-Powerful and does not need our evangelistic efforts or prayers to do his work in this world.

But evangelism, other than being:
  • a natural outflowing of our conversion, happiness and good news we cannot contain;
  • an obedience to the explicit command of God; and
  • a natural urge to see our loved ones and other people being saved,
is also consistent with how God normally acts with and in his creation, including human nature, to bring to fulfilment his eternal plans. He does not bypass the human will to convert but graciously restores its capacity to choose appropriately and ensures that it does. In evangelism, he normally uses the method of preaching the gospel, weaving the preacher and the occasion into his purposes, so that human effort is fully engaged and yet God is the one who is responsible for all. As Paul put it: "I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow" (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Therefore, evangelism is a privilege and an honour, to be God's fellow worker in planting and harvesting the fields for his glory.
How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
who publishes salvation,
who says to Zion, "Your God reigns." (Isaiah 52:7)
"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news! (Romans 10:13-15)
Predestination FAQ

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