Essentials of Evangelism - Lesson 1

In the Garden

Overview of the story of the Gospel, beginning with Genesis 1-11. God loved us before he made us. God loves us, pursues us, preserves a remnant, and establishes a relationship with us within the framework of a covenant.

Robert Tuttle, Jr.
Essentials of Evangelism
Lesson 1
Watching Now
In the Garden

I. Introduction

II. Overview of the Lectures

III. Evangelism begins in the Garden of Eden

A. God loved us before God made us

B. Sin begins when we become autonomous from God

C. God established covenant and provides opportunity to communicate with transcendant God

D. Characteristics of God

E. God saves the human race in Noah and the tower of Babel

F. God continues to pursue us.

All Lessons
  • Overview of the story of the Gospel, beginning with Genesis 1-11. God loved us before he made us. God loves us, pursues us, preserves a remnant, and establishes a relationship with us within the framework of a covenant.

  • Hinduism is based on doing good works to get rid of your karma, while living in a social framework based on the caste system. Abraham came to the place where he could believe in one God. Much of the story of the Old Testament is the nation of Israel, leaving Egypt, entering the promised land, and being led by judges and kings.

  • The story of the Gospel hits the high point with the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since people in Jesus’ time viewed physical illness as a direct consequence of sin, an integral part of Jesus’ healing ministry was to bring people back into relationship to God. Jesus came at the right time in the situation of the world at the time. He remained sinless with less advantage than Adam.

  • The story of the Gospel continues with the ministry of Peter and Paul. The Holy Spirit was sent, not to compensate for the absence of Jesus, but to guarantee the presence of Jesus. Peter and John see the Samaritans receive the Holy Spirit. God leads Peter to Cornelius, a Gentile. Phillip baptizes the eunuch from Ethiopia. God wants to be in fellowship with his creation, pursues us, establishes relationship with us, provides opportunity for covenant renewal, fulfills the new covenant where sin is rooted out by allowing Jesus to die on the cross. 

  • Saul responds to God and the Holy Spirit disciples him in the desert for at least three years. The story of the Gospel continues with the journeys of Paul. The Spirit of God is preparing people to respond to your ministry. Ninety percent of evangelism is showing up and paying attention. Be the kind of Christian that rejoices just as much when God closes doors as you do when he opens doors.

  • A brief overview of the theology of sharing the Gospel. Romans 8:1-4. The theology of evangelism reminds you of what God has done for you in Jesus Christ. You start to die spiritually when you rationalize sin. Everyone in the world has a need to measure up to some form of law. Sin is that which separates you from God, yourself and those around you.

  • Overcoming a lack of motivation. We don’t realize how critical it is to access the power of the Holy Spirit available through personal faith in Jesus Christ. Just because you have the truth, it doesn’t guarantee that the world will listen. We must speak words that people understand and speak them in a way that people will receive them. Christianity is all about having people watching your back and praying for each other by name. You get singled out, you get picked off.

  • Overcoming the fear of rejection. You have a sphere of influence where you are most effective. It takes an average of 25 different witnesses before any real encounter with God takes place.

  • Christianity is a relationship with God. Not a philosophy of life, but a way of life. We are the body of Christ. Each of us is indispensable to the church. Our ministry is more important to God than it is to us. The first greatest sin is self-reliance. The second greatest sin is oppressing the poor.

  • The culmination of the Gospel story. God loves each of us as an individual. Don’t let anyone hear you say something second hand about someone else that’s not positive. Always go to the source. The same power of the Holy Spirit that was available to Jesus and the disciples is available to us today. Pray that you will recognize and exercise the gifts the Holy Spirit gives you to be effective in your sphere of influence.

Christianity is a relationship with God. Not a philosophy of life, but a way of life. Dr. Tuttle explains from scripture and from his own experience what the Gospel message is and how we can effectively share it with others. 90% of evangelism is showing up and paying attention. The same power of the Holy Spirit that was available to Jesus and the disciples is available to us today. Pray that you will recognize and exercise the gifts the Holy Spirit gives you to be effective in your sphere of influence. 

If you want to learn more about worship, you may enjoy the Institute class by the same author, The Theology and Practice of Evangelism.

<p>Course: <a href="https://www.biblicaltraining.org/short-course-evangelism/robert-tuttle&…; target="_blank">A Short Course On Evangelism</a></p>

<p>Lecture: <a href="https://www.biblicaltraining.org/lecture/93897&quot; target="_blank">In the </a><a href="https://www.biblicaltraining.org/lecture/93897&quot; target="_blank">Garden</a></p>

<p>I’m Bob Tuttle and I am a&nbsp;professor of World Christianity Emeritus – that means I have been retired for a couple of years from teaching at Asbury Theological Seminary. I began my teaching career at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California; and then at Oral Roberts University School of Theology in Tulsa Oklahoma; and then at Garrett Evangelical United Methodist Seminary in Evanston, Illinois on the campus of Northwestern University. The last 16 years I have been teaching at Asbury Seminary.&nbsp;</p>

<p>First of all, let me express appreciation to BiblicalTraining.org and to Matt Smith, who is a photographer. I am so grateful for BiblicalTraining.org and their ministry worldwide. I am grateful to Matt because he is not only good with a camera, he has been praying with me for months, that we would have the kind of anointing that would bring you insight and blessing for your life and ministry.&nbsp;</p>

<p>We are calling this a short course on evangelism. I was telling one of my students about believing in the uniqueness of faith in Jesus Christ and what that meant for evangelism. They said, “How can you insist on the uniqueness of faith in Jesus Christ that makes you so ‘holier than thou’”? And I said, “Listen, my insisting on the uniqueness of faith in Jesus Christ doesn’t make me right, but it sure makes me an evangelist.” I’m not saying I’m right and the rest of the world is wrong. But you can well believe, I believe I am right. If God is a triangle and I think God is a circle, God does not become a triangle to accommodate who I believe God to be. Truth is truth regardless of what I think it is. I spend a lot of time here. I have read four chapters of this every day for over 35 years, trying to get a feel for what God is saying to me on a daily basis&nbsp;so that I might be helpful for my students and my family, and be effective and even more effective in ministry.&nbsp;</p>

<p>I ask my students in classes I teach on evangelism, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word ‘evangelism’?” And they usually say, “pushy, self-righteous and holier than thou.” Then I say, “What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the person who influenced you most for God?” And they say, “loving, caring and accepting.” I’m saying, where this short course on evangelism is concerned, we are going to talk about the latter characteristics, an evangelism that is loving, caring and accepting.&nbsp;</p>

<p>We are going to have 10 sessions. This first session begins in the garden. Evangelism begins in the garden. Abingdon Press, I wrote a book on the history of evangelism two years ago. They wrote me and said, “How come it takes 150 pages to get to Jesus in a book on evangelism?” I said, “Because I understand evangelism begins in the garden in the Old Testament.”&nbsp;</p>

<p>The second session is the covenant with Abraham, from Hinduism, which is the earliest high religion. A high religion is a religion that has trans cultural significance, not just cross-cultural – from one culture to another, as you would perhaps in a tribal religion or a localized religion – but has trans cultural significance. The first high religion is Hinduism. So from Hinduism to Jesus Christ.&nbsp;</p>

<p>The third session: At the right time, Jesus Christ. You must know that Jesus Christ was born just at the right time. It wouldn’t have worked had he been born 50 years earlier. There was no common language to unite the realm. Pirates were still ruling the cities and there were no common roads.&nbsp;</p>

<p>The fourth session: The early church, from Peter to Paul. Then, following that, the journeys of Paul. Following that, a short theology of evangelism.&nbsp;</p>

<p>Then I want to talk in the next three sessions, sessions seven, eight and nine, about overcoming barriers to spirit-assisted evangelism. The first barrier being, we lack motivation, we have lost our sensitivity to fire and smoke. The second one, chapter eight, will be overcoming the fear of rejection. Then, chapter nine, the third barrier, we assume inadequacy. We will conclude these sessions with the future: How can we anticipate the future in such a way that we can take planet earth back for God? At the end of that last session, I will give you a challenge, a covenant. If everyone in your congregation were to accept this covenant – and it is not complicated – you could well double your attendance in one year.&nbsp;</p>

<p>It begins in the garden, session one. This is what that story teaches us. Before the foundation, the Lamb was slain. That means that even before creation, God redeemed us before God created us. God loved us before God made us. I wrote a book where I was kind of imagining a conversation between the Persons of the Trinity. I believe in one God, only one God. When I talk to my Muslim friends about the Trinity, I talk about Father, Word and Spirit, and they can somehow understand that a bit better than Father, Son and Spirit, and I try to help them understand how Word has become flesh. Conversations between the Persons of the Trinity anticipating creation. God, in God’s omnipotence, knew that if you give creation freedom – and this is my Wesleyan bias, so you’ll forgive me for this – if you cannot say “no”, your “yes” is meaningless. So God knows that if you give creation freedom, they will abuse it. It didn’t take us long. Right in the garden we abused our freedom and we sinned. We attempted to become autonomous. Paul Tillich got it right. Sin begins when we attempt to become autonomous from God. We think we can do it on our own steam, out of our own resources. If you read the Bible straight through, Genesis through Revelation, two big sins come at you time and time and time again. The first big sin is self-reliance. The second big sin is oppressing poor people. You really don’t want to do that. But, Adam and Eve fell and sin cannot bear the light. Do you understand? It cannot bear the light. So what does God do? God, a loving God, withdraws behind the veil. So that we could still be in fellowship with God and not be overwhelmed by God’s holiness. The first words out of the mouth of God after the fall are what? “Where are you?”&nbsp;</p>

<p>God is the first evangelist, looking to be reconciled with a fallen creation. God establishes covenants and provides an&nbsp;opportunity for fellowship, to be able to communicate with the transcendent God. Terribly important. Communicate what? I sometimes tell my students that if you had to describe the characteristics of God from Genesis through Revelation, you would probably come up with at least five wonderful characteristics. The first of course is love. Second is mercy, Justice, faithfulness and longsuffering. Genesis to Revelation. You don’t have to get into the New Testament to find a God who is loving and merciful and faithful and just and longsuffering. That’s who God is. Yet, in spite of the fact that God loves us and wants to be in fellowship, within generations of Adam and Eve, we almost perfected humankind and almost perfected its own evil, and we are about to destroy ourselves. Before we could destroy ourselves, do you know what God does? God cuts us right back to the root. I am not trying to make a literal case for a universal flood, but I can tell you what that means. God, before we could destroy ourselves, perfect our own evil and destroy ourselves, God cuts us right back to the root and saves a remnant and establishes a covenant. A covenant with Adam and Eve. A covenant with Noah, confirmed with a rainbow. Then within generations of Adam and Eve, within generations of Noah, we did it all over again. We were about to perfect our own evil. We were going to build us a tower to God, the Tower of Babel. We don’t need God. We can build a tower to heaven ourselves. We can get to heaven on our own steam. You know what God does to preserve the remnant? You see, everyone spoke their own language. In a&nbsp;community there is nothing we cannot do for good or for ill, you know that. There are some cultures where en mass they would far rather hate their enemies than love their friends. One on one, they would give you their shirts off their backs; but in&nbsp;mass they would far rather hate our enemies than love our friends. In community, there is nothing we cannot do for good or for ill. So, what does God do? God confuses us, just to preserve the remnant.&nbsp;</p>

<p>I love this story. I love evangelism. I love a God who pursues us, from the very beginning, before the Lamb was slain, before the foundation. We get back to that in a later session. I love the story of evangelism. I love it that God knows who we are, but yet pursues us from the very beginning and continually is looking for an&nbsp;opportunity for our fellowship to be renewed and refreshed.&nbsp;</p>

<p>I look forward to session two. God bless you. Lord, we are grateful for your goodness. We ask you now, God, with all simplicity, to take what God teaches us in the Word and apply it to our lives in such a way that we can be better prepared for life and ministry. Amen.&nbsp;</p>