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'Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done': A comment on the Church of England's call to evangelism

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From Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern:

On Tuesday, at Synod this week, we were presented with a paper on the Church of England’s Reform and Renewal strategy for the evangelisation of our nation.

For sure, our country desperately needs to be evangelised. And in the Church we need to see repentance, reformation and revival.

Pentecost Prayer initiatives were announced – Pentecost 2016 Thy Kingdom Come and Pentecost 2017 Thy Will Be Done.

This all sounds excellent and something that surely no one can take issue with. I very much wanted to contribute in the debate that followed the presentation.

I wanted to do this because nowhere in the paper or presentation was there a clear explanation of what the gospel is.

I had and have a burning and fundamental question: how can we do evangelism if we don’t explain what the gospel is? We cannot assume that because we are members of the Church of England or elected to Synod that we understand what the gospel is or can agree on it.

Upon arrival at Synod this week, we were greeted with a stall promoting material from LGBT activists within the church. The euphemistically named 'Inclusive Church' Stand was set up alongside the Welcome Stand at General Synod where members of Synod collected information and voting cards.

Such a stand, directly flaunting sin and disobedience to the Bible and the Church’s teaching, should have been refused exhibition status not given prime position. At Christian Concern, we had been told that we could not exhibit because of lack of space. There was plenty of space in the Welcome Lobby.

I prepared the following speech but was not called to speak:

I welcome the evangelism initiative and long for the conversion of this nation. The conversion of lives, families and a turning back in public life to Christianity and the flourishing that brings.

In Romans, the apostle Paul writes: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile." (Romans 1:16)

My concern is that in the General Synod body, we are not agreed on what the gospel is. Such a problem is not just confusing to us, but confusing to a lost and broken world.

Those writing the Report at Synod should perhaps draft a statement reaffirming what the gospel actually is.

We had a presentation on the Report from the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group, with an assumption that we are agreed on what the gospel is, but it was not set out in the paper or presentation.

Evangelism is the declaration of the 'evangel', which publishes the good news of the Kingdom of God; that Jesus Christ is Lord and King, and that salvation is assured by his death and resurrection for those who repent and put faith and trust in Christ, turning from sin and living in accordance with God’s Word.

We must be careful as leaders in the church charged with much responsibility not to truncate the gospel to 'God loves you'.

We pray the Lord’s prayer – “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done” – but do we understand what this means?

The gospel is in fact the declaration of Christ's salvation and Kingdom rule that has invaded the earth.

Part of praying for the will of God to be done on Earth is the surrender of our human desires to the transformative power of Christ.

One of the most important areas where truth is under attack is on marriage – a primary gospel issue.

One of the visible manifestations of the gospel is the human body and marriage. Marriage sets forth the gospel and is the cosmological key to understanding the universe.

It declares that humanity has been made for intimacy and communion with God and that it is God's intention to have holy communion with his bride, the Church.

The Bible begins with a wedding in Eden, then describes the marriage of God and Israel and Israel's adultery. It then tells of the coming of the bridegroom, Jesus Christ, whose first miracle takes place at a wedding.

The Bible ends in the marriage supper of the Lamb!

The one-flesh union of male and female in marriage reflects the fellowship of unity in diversity in the Trinity, and so declares Jesus as bridegroom to his spotless bride, the church.

Therefore, the destruction of marriage and the confusion of genders is undermining the witness of the gospel in Britain. How can a person growing up in a culture where the meaning of marriage has been destroyed comprehend the gospel?

Since we remain confused about what marriage is; since no clear sound is being made and we are locked down behind closed doors in ‘conversations’ to come to a ‘common mind’ on what it is to have ‘good disagreement’ on this issue - how are we to evangelise?

A quote attributed to Martin Luther says:

"If I profess with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition of scripture every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle field besides is mere flight."

Today the battle rages for Truth over our God-given identity, God’s pattern for marriage and family and the uniqueness of Jesus Christ.

We must be clear that marriage and sexuality are not excluded from aspects of our lives that require total surrender.

We must bring our brokenness in all its forms to Christ, who in His love and mercy transforms us to His will, that we may walk holy and blameless before a world that is desperate to see the sons and daughters of the Living God revealed.

That is the Kingdom of God invading Earth. That is the gospel message.

People are punished in Britain for belief in the gospel; the Lord's Prayer was banned from being shown in cinemas: at the Christian Legal Centre, for over a decade, we have been representing people who have lost their jobs or been arrested for offering prayer, or testimony to Jesus Christ.

These men and women are not ashamed of the gospel. They are not ashamed of Jesus and his words; and his call to death to self and obedience to him; the transforming power of God that brings salvation.

Let us not be ashamed of the gospel. In Mark Chapter 8, as Jesus predicted his death, he said:

"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels."

This is the gospel.

Related Links:
General Synod: Report from the Archbishops’ Evangelism Task Group (Church of England)
Christian Concern Case Summaries Booklet