One of the biggest obstacles that orthodox open-air preachers face, are those that profess to be Christian. Understandably many of them are either new converts, or false converts. Others are being convicted of either their un-repented sins(s), and/or apathy.
Having said that, I will zoom-in on one particular type of opponent. That is the believer whom seems to be well balanced, and very solid, except for one area. They have been taught to believe that there is only one proper way to evangelize. They are very committed to their way, and they are deceived believing that orthodox street preaching is no longer effective. Not only are they deceived, in some incidents, some of them are now deceive others.
Have you ever witnessed an evangelist break the ninth commandment while evangelizing? I’ve seen this many times on YouTube, and have witnessed it in the streets. They are those that frequently oppose orthodox street preaching.
A couple years-ago I evangelized with another brother on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. As he stood on the box, he raised a $20.00 bill into the air announcing “I am giving away twenty dollar bills.” Naturally a crowd gathered.
As the crowd stood before him he told them, “If any of you can pass my ‘are you a good person test,’ I will give you this twenty dollar bill.” Several people took the bait, they took the test, and they all failed. Henceforth, none of them received their payment. Some of them laughed, but some of them walked away angry. Frankly I was just as offended as was the crowd. Thankfully my dear friend later apologized for that.
To tell a crowd such a thing, already knowing that no one can pass that test, is deception. To intentionally deceive another person is a lie (aka ‘sin,’ or a transgression against Gods Law). Since the beginning of time, man has tried to justify lying. Today we try to minimize lying by calling what we perceive to be a lessor lie, a “white lie.”
Whichever angle we use to look at the word “lie,” it is bad (sin).
The Greek word planaō, means to intentionally lead astray (obviously these evangelists are not intentionally doing this). The word pseudēs means untrue, i.e. erroneous, deceitful, wicked, false, liar. The word apataō means to entice, cheat, or deceive. The word doloō means to ensnare, to corrupt, or to treacherously trick or trap another person. And the word pseúdomai means to falsify, to lie, to speak deliberate falsehoods, or to willfully misrepresent (or mislead).
Paul admonished us in Ephesians 4:25, “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.”
To intentionally deceive others while evangelizing, is beyond comprehension.
The Bible also warns about tickling others itchy ears.
In one of his pastoral epistles the Apostle Paul said the following. “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5 But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Tim 4:1-4).
In verse 2 Paul charges us to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
In verse 3 he warns us that “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”
Who are the “they” in verse 3b? They are those associated with the church, and/or those that profess to be Christians.
In verse 3c Paul said that they are “having itchy” ears. The phrase ‘having itchy’ comes from the Greek word ‘knētho’ (knay’-tho). This word is used only once in the Scriptures. It means ~
1) to scratch, tickle, make to itch
2) to itch
3) desirous of hearing something pleasant, or
4) to sooth a sore.
A modern day analogy / application of this ‘itch’ (or sore), would be tantamount to applying a Preparation H suppository (or ointment) to a hemorrhoid.
Its one thing to have people ‘heap up for themselves teachers’ that will tickle or entertain their ears, and to have pastors / evangelists ‘reactively’ respond. But it’s another thing for evangelists to ‘proactively’ engage in this type of evangelism.
Let’s look at verse three again. Our ‘charge’ is to “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”
Our ‘charge’ is not to tickle their fancy, or give them “something pleasant” to hear. As I’ve said before “Nowhere in the Scriptures are evangelists (or street preachers) told to first get the worlds permission to preach. Nowhere in the Scriptures are Christians told to accommodate the world. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told to only preach to crowds that are willing to listen. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told to redact, truncate, or replace the preaching of the glorious Gospel with tricks, gimmicks, gadgets, skits, magic, entertainment, cash giveaways, trivia questions, word games, jokes, or comedy. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told do give the heckler a microphone and a box to stand on, so they can blaspheme the Lord and use profanity. We ought to be thankful that these evangelists are out there, but when our evangelism efforts become more man-centric, and less Gospel-centric; it’s no longer orthodox Biblical evangelism.”
Let me close with the following points.
Let us encourage the church to simply but boldly preach the glorious Gospel. Let us refrain from using the aforementioned carnal methods to gather crowds, as we should trust in the Holy Spirit to do that work for us. Moreover, let us not lie while evangelizing.
As Paul Washer said, “We [most modern churches] are using carnal [worldly] means to attract people. If you use carnal means to attract men, you are going to attract carnal men; and you’re going to have to keep using greater carnal means to keep them in the church. So, what has happened is this – we have these large churches filled with many unconverted, carnal people. But, in those churches, we also have this small group of people that honestly want Christ… all they want is Jesus.” He continues, “But the pastor, in order to keep this larger group of unconverted people, he caters to them; so, while he is feeding these carnal men and women with carnal things, he is letting the sheep of God starve to death… The leadership is catering to the carnal and letting the Bride of Christ starve to death impoverished. That is wrong, and there is going to be judgment for it.” *
There are many today that do all of the above. Not only do they offer ‘cash giveaways’ to winners, some will even indiscriminately give away cash to their crowds.
Interestingly much of the non-saved world loves this type of evangelism. But Jesus said that the world will hate Christians (aka a bondslave to Christ).
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Mark 13:13).
Oh how much more important it should be for evangelists to be above reproach, and set apart.
[*] Side note: A dear brother whom read this article (in opposition) inferred that Washer was not speaking of evangelism here. Washer is speaking of two things here. He warned against using carnal methods to “attract” men ‘into’ our local churches (evangelism / missions). And he also warned that if we do so, carnal methods will be required to satisfy false converts. Therefore he is speaking of both, how we “attract” them ‘into’ our churches, and how we attempt to ‘retain’ them once in. In fulfilling the great commission, our hearts desire is to win souls to Christ, and get them planted into a local church body. At times the first pulpit they will see, is the pulpit in the street. I believe that our street pulpit should be treated as a church pulpit (though this is easier said than done).