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The GOSPEL TRUTH
WHO WILL RISE UP?
by JED SMOCK
Copyright by Jed Smock 1985
Used by Permission
Confrontational Evangelism on Campus
What about follow-up? Our ministry has sometimes been criticized because we do not emphasize a follow-up program for students.
Jesus and the apostles did not consider follow-up vital to successful evangelism. Instead, Jesus expected true disciples to follow Him. When He witnessed to Peter and Andrew, He said, "Follow me and I will make you fishers of men." He expected them to make an immediate decision to change the whole direction of their lives.
When the rich young ruler eagerly asked, "What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" Jesus did not take this wonderful opportunity to lecture him on the doctrine that salvation is not of works but of grace. Nor did He preach on His upcoming death and resurrection. First, He preached the law. When the man claimed to have kept it, Jesus demanded proof, "If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and FOLLOW ME."
When the man heard the cost of discipleship, he quickly lost interest in the salvation of his soul and left saddened because he had great wealth with which he could not part. Notice that Jesus did not go chasing after him or plead with him to hear more. He did use the incident to impress upon His disciples the necessity of total commitment. "Everyone that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life" (Matthew 19:29).
Jesus did not gradually reveal His expectations to the interested seeker but instead, demanded an immediate consecration to the Kingdom of all man's possessions and ambitions. Follow-up program? No, just a straightforward challenge to either follow after the riches and joys of heaven, or continue to set your affections on the things of this life on earth. Jesus expected converts to have as little desire for this world as a dead person has. Another time when Jesus was walking along the way with His disciples a fervent youth said, "Lord, I will follow thee withersoever thou goest."
And Jesus answered him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Luke 9:57-58). There was no attempt to baptize, no invitation to further Bible study, no explanation of the need for Christian fellowship, no promise of a wonderful plan, no encouragement--but a reminder to count the cost.
And Jesus said unto another, "Follow me."
But he said, "Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father."
Jesus answered, "Let the dead bury the dead; but go thou and preach the Kingdom of God" (Luke 9:59-60). No "me first" attitude for a true believer, it must be the Kingdom of God first. No excuses accepted by the Lord--He expected instant obedience. Go and preach a life-giving message.
Following Jesus' Example
When the demonic of the Gadarenes, out of whom Jesus cast a legion of devils, wanted to stay with Him, Jesus would not let him do it, but said, "Go home to your friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee" (Mark 5:19).
When Jesus exposed the adultery of the woman at the well, she went into town telling everybody about Jesus and brought them out to hear more. Her conversion sparked a great revival.
If a man has been truly converted one of the first things he will want to do is to tell others. Charles Finney said, "Seest thou a professed convert to Christ whose compassions are not stirred, and whose zeal for the salvation of souls is not awakened? Be assured that you behold a hypocrite."
I am not denying that there are principles of follow-up found in the Bible. Jesus not only ministered to the lost but spent a considerable amount of time training his 12 disciples to follow Him and continue His work. For four years Cindy followed about two weeks behind me on the college circuit to water the seed which I had sown. Occasionally, she was even able to harvest.
In December of 1980 at Florida State University I was daily heckled by a very persistent fellow. It is ironic that the students who try to shout me down, insist I leave campus and say my preaching is nonsense, will skip classes and spend hours listening to me.
Sister Cindy followed up my ministry at Florida State and this same heckler told her he had become interested in Bible prophecy. He asked her many questions but insisted he was not open to this "Jesus stuff." Sister Cindy, believing that he would be converted, asked a Christian student to keep an eye on him. When she returned to FSU with "Holy Hubert" in April, they were greeted by the smiling face of the one "who persecuted us in times past, but now preached the faith which he once destroyed." They glorified God in him. This former heckler said he looked forward to preaching to his fellow students. Sister Cindy told him that this was his day. After drawing the crowd, she called on him to give his testimony.
As he spoke he confessed that he had been one of the worst mockers on campus. He admitted that after several days of scorning, he began to ask himself why he kept going back to listen. He said that he realized that the truth we spoke was what upset him, but at the same time, drew him back. He told the students, "Some of you probably remember me, I was a big mouth for the devil, but today I'm a big mouth for Jesus." This man graduated, married, and became a missionary to Mexico.
The Lord had me in a full-time ministry within weeks after my conversion. He sent me to the streets, nursing homes, jails, hospitals, homes and into the public schools to infiltrate and do undercover work as a substitute teacher. Within six months I started a weekly Bible study in an old school house. Within a year I conducted a two-week church revival. Within two years I was full-time in The Campus Ministry.
Sister Cindy moved even more quickly. Within a month after being saved she was giving her testimony on the colleges with Max and me. Ten weeks after her conversion she was preaching weekly at the University of Florida. After six months she forsook a journalism career and started traveling the campuses full-time with Max and me. Cindy would stay in a Christian home at night and meet us daily on campus. After nine months she was making the campus circuit via Greyhound buses on her own.
Our examples should not be considered the exception. When there has been a total surrender on the part of the new convert, and with proper encouragement from Christian leadership, examples such as ours can become the rule. Actually, most newborn Christians have great zeal to be active in the ministry. However, the cares of this world, or the deceitfulness of riches may soon cool their ardor. Of course, the backsliders are also ever present to throw a wet blanket on them to put out their fire.
Paul said, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (I Corinthian 11:1). Paul was not ashamed to set himself up as an example of what a Christian ought to do and be. For too long we have set up the apostles as unique men who lived the Christian life on a higher plane than we could ever hope to attain. Not so. They were men subject to like passions as we are.
I will never forget the memorable words my pastor, Clyde Swalls, said to me shortly after my conversion: "Jed, do you realize that the same Spirit that dwelled in the Apostle Paul dwells in you? Therefore, whatever he accomplished you can do also; even a greater ministry is available to you. For it is not by human might, or power, but by the Spirit that we do great works for God."
From that moment I was determined to be a twentieth-century Paul. Believers today have set their goals too low. Pastors expect so little and challenge their congregation so slightly that the typical attitude is "How much can I get away with and still make it to heaven?"
Where are the fishers of men? Where are the ark builders, the sword fighters, the giant slayers, the sun stoppers, the mountain movers and the martyrs?
The Bible Institutes and Christian Liberal Arts Colleges, with a few exceptions, are not much better than the state universities. The vast majority of students, after two to four years of training, grow soft, complacent, comfortable and remain surprisingly ignorant of the Bible and sound theology. I would match the Biblical knowledge, theological understanding and general wisdom of Paul Stamm, Tom Carlisle, Pat Noordewier, and Sister Cindy (four of whom I have had the privilege of training) against most Bible college or seminary graduates. While the student has been wilting in the classroom Brother Paul, Brother Tom, Sister Pat and Sister Cindy have been out in the field battling the forces of evil, diligently studying the Bible and the works of the great theologians such as Charles Finney--and learning to be individuals of prayer by interceding daily on behalf of those they are preaching to. Not only have they been reaching the lost but church doors have opened to enable them to minister to the saints. There is no substitute for on-the-job training.
Follow-up? Most people to whom I preach, I may never see again. But there have been surprises.
When I first went to Southern Oregon College in Ashland, Monte Botts was already preaching. He told me he had been converted in a hotel meeting which I had held in Tucson, Arizona several years ago. Interestingly enough, there were only four people in the service. I preached from Psalm 94:16: "Who will rise up?" They all volunteered. When Brother Monte started his work at Southern Oregon he had trouble with the authorities but defended his rights, paving the way for our ministry.
Rich Rife was also a volunteer at the meeting in Tucson and he now preaches on the streets of America's largest cities. They had followed me up!
At the University of Iowa I was preaching in the Old Capital area close to a city bus stop. Ron Alberts, a bus driver, stopped there regularly to pick up students and listened to my message as his passengers boarded. Immediately after work he would rush down to campus and hear me preach the rest of the day. I was speaking nightly to Grace Fellowship which met in the Wesley Foundation. Ron started attending these meetings and one night committed his life to Christ. The next year Ron followed me for several weeks on the campuses, during this time he became bolder to share the Gospel. When he returned to Iowa City he was a more effective witness on his bus route.
The student population is very transient. Therefore, it is not unusual for them to hear me on different campuses. There is an old adage: "Throw a shoe into a pack of dogs, and the only one who yelps is the one who gets hit."
One day at the University of Colorado one of the dogs decided to throw back. He threw snowballs which I had to--sometimes unsuccessfully--dodge.
The next year at the University of Texas I witnessed to a student and eventually led him in a prayer of repentance and faith. He then confessed that he had transferred from the University of Colorado and that he was the one who had thrown snowballs at me the year before. The following year when I returned to UT, he had become an active member in the Maranatha Christian Church. By the next year he had become a pastor in the church!
There are certain campuses where we preach annually and are therefore able to do some follow-up. We have often discovered that we have great effect on the students even though our ministry may not result in their immediate conversion. At the end of each school year I have heard testimonies from students that go much like this one from a student at the University of California at San Diego:
"Brother Jed, I want to shake your hand. I have heard you speak every year since I was a freshman. I graduate this year so I will probably never hear you again. Therefore, I wanted to let you know that your annual ministry to this campus has been one of the highlights of my education. You are the most powerful speaker I have ever heard. I am not a Christian, but I have thought a lot about what you say. You have taught me most of what I know about the Bible and I have learned a lot. Thank you for coming to this campus."
Obviously, such remarks at the end of a long year of evangelism are a great encouragement to me.
In the late seventies a dirty old man who called himself "The Swami" came to the UCLA free-speech area to tell obscene stories. He started competing for the attention of the crowd that had gathered to listen to me. He made such a commotion that it was very difficult to get my message across, so I moved to another area. At first only a few pursued me. Most of these were Christians, but at least one girl was not; and she made serious inquiry into the nature of salvation. Within 15 minutes four Christians and I knelt and prayed with the girl for the salvation of her soul. Meanwhile, the crowd grew bored with "The Swami," and returned to hear me preach. I never saw the girl again but in 1983 a Christian student reminded me of the conversion and informed me that she had graduated and was a missionary in South America. Incidents like this have confirmed to me that a follow-up program, although helpful, is not necessary.
The over-emphasis on a follow-up ministry is a result of offering salvation without repentance. Jesus' first public message was, "Repent ye, and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). His last words to His disciples before ascending into heaven included the exhortation "That repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" (Luke 24:47).
Peter preached to a crowd of Jews that gathered at the temple gate after he healed the lame man: "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out" (Acts 20:21). Repentance and faith are both prerequisites for salvation.
Most evangelism today says: "Only believe," or, "Jesus will accept you just as you are," or, "Just ask Jesus into your heart," or, "Accept Him as your personal Savior."
If anything is said of repentance, it comes later. No wonder they must have elaborate follow-up programs. Under this plan how could anyone get saved from sin? The Biblical order is REPENT AND BELIEVE, not believe and repent. The fact of the matter is that without repentance there is no saving faith.
If there has been true repentance and faith, we will not have to beg and plead for the individual to come to Bible studies or church. If he is a Christian he will study to show himself approved. He will not desire to forsake the gathering together of his brethren. If he has been born again, we will not have to cajole him to give up drinking, swearing or any other sin. Indeed, if he is a true convert, he has forsaken sin. We do not have to beg him to be unselfish. If he is a Christian, his life is centered in God and in service to his fellow man.
Many have been deceived into believing that they may know Jesus as their personal Savior without recognizing Him as Lord. Such people are not following Jesus in truth. The fact of the matter is that Jesus does not become a man's Savior until He is recognized as Lord in every area of life. The Word says: "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).
If He is not Lord of all then He is not Lord at all.
What is the evidence that a man believes in his heart? Many have made mere mental assent to certain fundamental facts concerning Jesus Christ but do not believe in their hearts. If a man believes in his heart, he will obey. Obedience is the evidence of faith. The Bible says: "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation" (Romans 10:10). Faith from the heart will produce a righteous life. According to God's Word: "Ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is born of Jesus Christ" (I John 2:29).
Evangelicals, in their zeal to encourage individuals to be saved, too often lead a man into a premature confession with his mouth when there has been no work of repentance in the heart. If Christendom had more John the Baptists warning the multitude, "Oh generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance" (Luke 3:7-8), a follow-up program would not be necessary.
The only kind of Christianity I see in the Bible is total commitment. One must forsake all: the world, the flesh, and the devil, in order to qualify to be a Christian and remain one. This is the only Christianity I know to preach. Until this message is sounded loudly and clearly from the pulpit, follow-up will be a constant concern in Christendom.
There are not two kind of Christians: the few that are fully committed and the many that are only partially committed. This must be understood, or evangelicals are forever condemned to a life of cajoling, coaxing, and pleading, instead of patiently correcting, instructing and inspiring in both doctrine and practice.
Plowing and Planting
One plants the seed, another may water it. But it is God that gives the increase. Our ministry is primarily one of plowing and planting. Regrettably, there are too many who are trying to plant, without first plowing the field. One seed, that became a beautiful flower, sent me a thank-you note:
I want to thank you so very much for coming to speak at Ohio University. I've been at O.U. for three years and heard you speak each time. I listened the first two years, but this year was different. O.U. has had other evangelists come, but the people really listen to what you're saying because you truly love God and show this love towards others. You probably don't remember me, but after one of your "teachings" on the college green you were speaking to a girl and her boyfriend. You really helped her. Then you spoke to me on Eastern Religions. After you left my friend and I had some discussions on God and Religions. Since then I've quit going to Hare Krishna suppers, and have cut ties with them totally. I just want to thank you for planting the seeds and helping me to realize how true God is.
May God be with you,
Love in Him,
We are always anxious to work with Christians, both on campus and in local churches, who are willing to water the seed which we have sown. Rev. Bob Rodgers, when he pastored Calvary Assembly in Lexington, Kentucky, testified that 50 students started attending his church as a result of my daily meetings on campus and nightly meetings in his church.
The students who manned the Intervarsity book table at UCLA informed me that they had distributed more literature in the few days I had been on campus than they had all year.
Many students in Campus Crusade for Christ have told me that after I have preached on campus the students are much more open to discussion. One year a staff member for Campus Crusade at Arizona State told me, "Brother Jed when you are on campus and for weeks afterwards we set aside our usual approach and ask the students one question, 'What do you think of Brother Jed?' That question is bound to get a response. Having gained their attention we eventually direct the conversation to the gospel." Other Campus Crusaders tell me that when I am ministering, students make more appointments for personal interviews than at any other time of the year. However, many from this organization have also opposed my approach and message.
If we get a convert, we attempt to introduce him to someone we know to be a Christian. However, if there has been a true conversion, we are confident that the new Christian will seek out fellowship.
Our ministry is so much more effective when the Christian leadership on campus fully supports and cooperates with our efforts. Such was the case at Montana State University in March 1984.
We blew into Bozeman, Montana, with a heavy snow storm. When we started preaching it was snowing so hard we could barely see. The Word of God soon froze about 200 students in their tracks. Despite the cold elements, a FIRE was kindled that could not be put out.
Initially at Montana State it seemed we were as unwanted as the spring snow. I stabbed the students with the Sword of the Spirit for four hours and by late afternoon they were as angry and unreasonable as wounded animals.
I went into the cafeteria for a hot drink and over 50 students followed me. Most attempted to justify their rebellion against God by asking questions with the same attitude the Pharisees confronted Jesus. It seemed like your typical campus of apathetic sinners and lukewarm and ignorant professing Christians. We returned with the snow the next day and again preached outdoors to huge crowds for several hours. When it seemed they might gnash me with their teeth, I advanced to the cafeteria. This time 100 students followed me.
Many of them swarmed around Sister Cindy who was already inside with a campus minister, John E., who described the scene:
"One afternoon when I was talking with Cindy in the Student Union Building's Coffee Shop, the crowd Jed was speaking to outside followed him inside. Before I knew it, about 50-100 students had crowded around us asking many questions. I had never preached the Gospel in this way before. Imagine, sitting at a table with coffee, preaching to the multitudes! It wasn't very long until we were all asked to leave the coffee shop because of all the commotion. We then went with about 75 people to a lounge and shared the gospel for another two hours there."
This was our first sign of breakthrough.
That evening John E. and another campus minister took us to dinner. I reasoned with them on holiness, righteousness and confrontation evangelism for two and one-half hours. The two leaders felt other Christians on campus needed to hear my message so they called a special indoor meeting the next night.
Over 100 came to the service including an MSU professor and his prayer group. I exhorted them to holy living and good works and "God's word went forth and melted them" (Psalm 147:18). Conviction seized the crowd and about 30 stood and confessed their sins including lust, lukewarmness and fighting our ministry. Many committed themselves to pray and to stand for righteousness until their university saw true revival!
John E. concluded:
"Jed and Cindy Smock's challenge to Holy Living stirred much controversy among Christians, but it was exciting to see God melt hearts and do significant things in the lives of us. Holiness has been the catchword since they came."
The following is a letter from one revived Montana State student:
Dear Brother Jed and Sister Cindy,
I praise God for your marvelous ministry!
Thank you for coming to MSU this spring. I must confess that when I first heard you speaking I didn't know what to think, but by the third day I could learn to appreciate your unique methods of evangelism.
I believe the Gospel you are presenting is the Gospel for us in the United States today. We've heard that God loves us, and it's time we hear how God sees our sin. You are absolutely right about the moral behavior of college students today. It's time they are told that sin is not O.K., and that there are standards by which we will all someday be judged.
Your time spent on campus encouraged many of us to be more vocal Christians and stand up for our beliefs. I found numerous opportunities open up for witnessing. God was the talk of the campus for a change. A fellow student testified at a Bible study, how because of your ministry he broke up a fight between drunken fraternity boys, and witnessed to them about Christ for two hours. One student came to the Lord as a result. Praise God!
In my opinion you two were the biggest thing that ever came to MSU, much more of an impact than anything in my experience. I was and am really amazed at the powerful inspired influence you had. I don't know how you put up with the disgusting hassles you receive. It is certainly the work of the Holy Spirit. . . .
Bill Keightley--MSU History major
Two years later we returned to Montana State University. We suffered a major disappointment when John E., one of the ministers who had received us with joy last time, rejected our ministry. He was vague in explaining why. I concluded he had "received the seed into stony places." Nevertheless, many were glad that we had returned. It was amazing to see what a legend we had become since our previous visit. In addition to our regular afternoon preaching sessions, we held two evening services in a chapel and a good number of serious seekers attended. Three came forward at an invitation to repent of their sins.
Man will ultimately be governed by God or by tyrants. --Benjamin Franklin
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