by David Chadwell
published by Christian Education Video, Inc.
Copyright © 1991
The first half of the book is a careful reexamination of evangelism from the birth of Christianity to the close of the first century. The second half of the book carefully examines the extensive instruction given to first-century churches to edify the saved. It emphasizes Jesus' two great commissions: evangelize and edify. It challenges Christians to restore the New Testament's balance between evangelism and edification.
Chapter 1: A Sad Truth
Chapter 2: The Savior of the World
Chapter 3: The Time Was Right
Chapter 4: The Divine Pattern for Missions?
Chapter 5: The Fruit of a Christian?
Chapter 6: Paul: The Master Evangelist
Chapter 7: Building up the Body of Christ
Chapter 8: God's Community
Chapter 9: God's Community in Distress
Chapter 10: Growing into the Fullness of Christ
Chapter 11: You Need to Be Taught Again!
Chapter 12: God Loves the Weak
Chapter 13: The Great Commissions and the Apostles
After many decades of mission work in China, Campbell N. Moody was discouraged at how little "his" converts had seemed to learn about and change toward Christian principles. That experience caused him to study the Christians of the second century, and he concluded that the majority of the believers had about as much understanding in them as is shown in the epistle of James (Moody, The Mind of the Early Converts).
This same experience is written in the New Testament, as David Chadwell shows in his book. But like Paul, Peter, James, John, and others, Chadwell believes something should be done about the situation.
In every generation it seems that God's spokesmen have had specific battles to fight on limited fronts. The Israelite prophets had to fight idolatry. Already in the New Testament, and certainly in the second century, gnosticism had to be opposed. In the fourth century, Christianity fought Arianism because of its view of the person of Chris. But battle issues usually do not mirror the essence of a group. The essence of ancient Israel was not that it fought idolatry, and early Christianity was not basically an anti-Gnostic movement. Nor was it later essentially an anti-Arian movement.
Ancient Israel was best understood as "the people of God," a nation whose existence was interpreted in terms of having a covenant with the "maker of heaven and earth." Her task was to glorify God, and only secondarily to oppose idolatry. In New Testament terms, Christianity should be interpreted in terms of a relationship with God through Christ rather than in terms of specific battle issues.
In the later eighteenth and nineteenth century, the people in Great Britain and the United States who sought to restore New Testament Christianity found themselves in battle over creeds and denominationalism. But the Christian's essential nature is not to be understood as some anti-credal or anti-denominational posture. That essential nature is to be understood in terms of the broad sweep of New Testament--better, biblical--thought. The danger is that people will interpret Christianity in terms of certain localized battle issues rather than in terms of its broader nature and purposes.
It is notably fundamental when New Testament writers say one should strive for holiness (sanctification) "without which no one will see the Lord" (Hebrews 12:14). That does not sound optional. When Paul affirms that Christians are chosen in Christ in order "that we should be holy and blameless before him" (Ephesians 1:4), that sounds like God's purpose for people, not some attribute for super saints. When Paul says the absence of love negates the benefits of tongues, prophecy, faith, heavy giving, and martyrdom (1 Corinthians 13:1-3), that makes it rather fundamental.
David Chadwell seeks to lead the readers beyond their basic convictions about reaching others with the gospel. Foundational as evangelism is, and as necessary as it is for the propagation of Christian faith, it is a beginning in terms of God's overall intentions for his people. I commend the book as a wholesome treatment of the issues which are part of the very foundation of the Christian system. Individuals and groups should be able to study it to great advantage.
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