Hindrances To Evangelism
And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came not him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority doest thou these things? And who gave thee this authority?” And Jesus answered and said unto them, “I will also ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things. The baptism of John, whence was it? From heaven, or of men?” And they reasoned with themselves, saying, “If we shall say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say unto us, ‘Why did ye not then believe him?’ But if we shall say, ‘Of men,’ we fear the people; for all hold John as a prophet.” And they answered Jesus and said, “We cannot tell.” And he said unto them, “Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.”
Matthew 21.23-27 (cf. Mark 11.27-33; Luke 20.1-8)
Is there a moral standard of right and wrong? If there is no standard higher than man’s, then our society is set for destruction. There is, however, a standard that claims to be divine in origin, a standard that comes from the Creator to his creation. That standard is the Bible. It is not just a man’s standard that prohibits murder, for even those who would oppose God’s word cry out about the atrocities of murder. If they reject the word of God as the standard, what right do they have to impose their standard on others? Without a standard of right and wrong, there is not right or wrong. There is simply preference.
We see and recognize the need for an authority in the physical realm. In weights, measures, time, and distance, we have recognized standards. Without these standards, agreement would be impossible. When there is disagreement, by appealing to the particular standard, any differences in understanding can be settled. The fact that we may all agree on these standards can be seen from the sports world. For example, in the Olympic games, there are athletes competing from nations all over the world. There is one set of rules for all those athletes, coaches, and trainers, covering the particular sport as well as the permissible drugs/medications. We have seen that certain athletes have been disqualified for using banned substances. These various rules are printed in many different languages, and yet everyone involved must understand those rules alike, regardless of their nationality.
Can we not see that this principle is just as true in religion? Without a recognized standard in religious matters, agreeing is impossible. By what standard is society going to oppose murder or settle the matter of whether or not same-sex marriages are right or wrong: man’s or God’s? Is there a standard whereby all religious matters might be resolved? If so, can there be agreement upon that standard? If so, upon what basis? Remember the text above on the two sources of authority: heaven or man?
What is your attitude toward the Bible? Do you view it as authoritative? Do you believe it can be understood and understood alike? If not, why not Remember the Olympic rules? Regardless of the various languages in which it may be printed, all nationalities can and do understand the rules. Why would such be impossible in a writing that originated with God (cf. 2 Timothy 3.16; Hebrews 1.1-2; 2 Peter 1.20-21)? Indeed, how can one believe and accept what he doesn’t even understand? Jesus revealed the Father’s will through his teaching and said it could be understood (John 7.17; 8.32). Jesus also said, “Every man therefore that…hath learned…cometh” (John 6.45). Jesus’ teaching was vastly different from the status quo of the day. The people said of Jesus, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7.46) and “He taught…as one having authority” (Matthew 7.29).
As one could not believe in him whose teachings he didn’t understand, one could not submit to Jesus’ authority without understanding his teachings. Yet we know that many did not understand, and therefore, neither believed him nor honored his authority. If anyone could have explained the will of God clearly, would it not have been the Lord? Did Jesus convert everyone he taught? Was the doctrine from heaven just too difficult to understand? Why didn’t everyone understand Jesus’ teaching? The Bible explains the reason why people have “eyes that cannot see" and “ears that cannot hear.” Jesus explained it in John 3.17-21. The apostle Paul explained it in 2 Thessalonians 2.10,12. In both texts, we find that people were unwilling to repent of their love of darkness and unrighteousness. That being said, let us not be discouraged in our evangelism efforts. Our Lord and Savior encountered hardened and prejudiced hearts. So will we. Let us use sound judgment about ourselves…being “diligent, fervent in spirit…blessing them that persecute us…as much as lithe within us, being at peace with everyone…avenging not ourselves, but giving place unto the wrath of God…and being not overcome of evil, but overcoming evil with good” (Romans 12.3,11,14,18-19,21).