4 Factors That Define an Evangelical Christian

Proclaiming that we are evangelical has taken on a new, unflattering meaning in culture today. While the term was once used to describe those who believed faith required conversion of the heart and assent of the mind, and were devoted to sharing the gospel with others, “evangelical” has come to mean “narrow-minded,” “fundamentalist,” “intolerant,” and “hatemonger.”

Anthony Blair, president of Evangelical Seminary, writes in Christianity Today that it is time to give “evangelical” a new definition. We must offer the world an evangelicalism that is bold, broad, beautiful, and confident.

1. Bold

Stop letting fear get in the way of sharing your faith. Instead, boldly proclaim the kingdom of God!

Blair writes, “Our core proclamation is that Jesus is Lord of all and the divine Lover of our souls. Like the woman at the well, we run excitedly to our neighbors, even (or especially!) those who have marginalized us, and we joyfully invite, ‘Come see a man who knows everything about me… and loves me still.’”

2. Broad 

As we boldly share our faith with our neighbors, let it be done with broad love. We are called to be a people of love and grace. Offer this incredible love with a serving heart.

“We cannot with credibility proclaim a gospel of love and grace if we are not people of love and grace. We dare not offer a God of reconciliation and peace if we are persistently unwilling to be agents of reconciliation and makers of peace,” Blair says.

3. Beautiful

The picture of God’s love that we offer our neighbors is beautiful. As the world struggles in chaos and evil, the beautiful love of God is steadfast.

Blair writes, “God is love, and that such words reflect a deep, painful commitment. His beautiful love permeates a broken world so that we are slowly, sometimes imperceptibly, conformed to his beautiful image.” 

What is perhaps the most beautiful aspect of God’s love is its ability to reach us in our darkest times of suffering, pain, and darkness. These worldly things cannot separate us from His love.

4. Confident

As evangelicals, we should not have a lack of confidence, as our confidence comes from the Lord.

“This confidence that is nourished by the realization that such grace has been wonderfully present in those who came before, upon whose good work we today merely add another layer,” Blair writes.

We can do the Lord’s work, knowing that we are capable of doing amazing things for the kingdom through abilities that are not our own.

Crosswalk.com editor Ryan Duncan wrote, “For many people, we will be the closest thing to Christ they will ever see. If we wish them to understand the true meaning of the word ‘Evangelical’, we must first redeem it.”

And we can redeem our faith by being bold, broad, beautiful, and confident in Christ.

Read Original Article Here

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Why Pastors Need to Preach More about Hell

images-6Hell is not a topic most Christians like to address. Why talk about hell when you could talk about something much more positive like heaven or living a good life. It seems that many senior pastors have taken on this same notion, of skipping over hell in their sermons and articles. Brian Jones, Senior Pastor of Christ’s Church of the Valley, has written an article on Pastors.com called The Fatal Mistake of Senior Pastors Who Don’t Like Preaching about Hell.

Jones comments that while we should expect an inclusive agenda at our public schools, it has no place in our churches. He states,

Too often we want to appear more moral than God. Too often in outreach-focused churches we feel the need to acquiesce to the avalanche of pluralistic pressure to back off of this key doctrine. However, I tell Senior Pastors that I coach that if you really love people, at some point you’ll completely tell them the truth, even if you risk having them walk out your church doors.“

Have you taken a similar risk with family members, friends, teachers, or co-workers? When it comes to telling the whole truth, sometimes we are hesitant with those we don’t know well or those we don’t want to offend. But if we wait long enough, there’s a chance we may not get to take that risk at all. Jones explains,

As important as being compassionate and inclusive are in the context of a growing church, the overriding virtue that should be held up is faithfulness – both to scripture and the God who breathed it.

Kindness, generosity, and compassion are virtues that every Christian should show to others. However, if that’s all we’re going to do—pile on grace upon grace without any truth—then we will have accomplished absolutely nothing for the gospel. Christianity is about so much more than morality and kindness. It’s about sharing the truth of life and death, through the grace of Jesus Christ. Truth and grace go together and should not be separated.

Crosswalk.com blogger Paul Tautges expounds, “Because hell is real, and hell is as awful as awful can be, we dare not neglect it, or fear another person’s response to its teaching more than we fear the God who created it for the devil and his angels.”

Yet, there are some Christians who may think grace is all we need to share because hell isn’t real…that we can believe what we want in the Bible and skip over the parts we don’t like. Pastors are not immune this false doctrine either. Jones recalls,

Two years after leaving graduate school I came to the realization that I really didn’t believe in hell anymore. I was too smart to believe in hell. …Like so many church leaders I’ve met over the years, I bought into the lie that I could serve the God of the Bible but not believe in the entire Bible.”

He continues,

During a long retreat at a local monastery I performed an exhaustive word study of the phrase ‘false doctrine’ in the New Testament. When I was finished the Holy Spirit did a number on me. ….I came to the conclusion that I was a liar, as I should have. I dropped to my knees in tears. I repented before God of my duplicity. …That Sunday I stood before my congregation and wept, asking for their forgiveness. It was a turning point in my calling before God.”

There is nothing more humbling than admitting that you were wrong, in front of a group of people who respect you and look up to you. As Christians we have to be willing to come alongside our pastors, to forgive when wrong choices are made, to love through times of struggle and confusion, and to hold our pastors accountable when changes are not made or when repentance is not enough to stay in leadership. While church leaders are held accountable by their church, they are also accountable to God for the truth that they preach. Jones exhorts,

Over and over again, we are warned that church leaders must hold to the deep truths of the faith. Hell is one of those deep truths, albeit unpopular. Over and over again, we are warned not to be drawn away by unsound doctrine. With pain in his voice that came from years of heading off church train wrecks, Paul pleaded in his final words to Timothy to preach the word, every last bit of it, regardless of how unpopular it became. I’m pretty sure that exhortation still stands.”

Does your senior pastor preach this truth? If you haven’t heard your pastor preach on the topic of hell, ask why. It’s important that we encourage our pastors rather than put them down when we don’t agree with them, but hell is a topic that cannot be left unaddressed by churches. If your church refuses to preach on the topic of hell or thinks that hell is not important, then you may need to evaluate your church membership.

For further reading, see “4 Things about Hell Christians Really Need to Understand,” “5 Things We Believe about Hell that are Not in the Bible,” and “Why Our Christian Mission Must Include the Reality of Hell.”

To read Brian Jones’ full article, please visit Pastors.com.