I have several reasons to be thankful for the life and legacy of John Blanchard.
Although he came from the channel island rival, Guernsey (Jersey is obviously better!), whilst still a teenager i heard he and Derek Cleave speak evangelistically to students in Jersey. His clear apologetics and winsome engagement struck a powerful chord with me.
Many years later we connected again. And the last time i heard him speak was in 1994, at our Fellowship of Word and Spirit Conference. I have replicated my own notes from his talk below, they still speak powerfully of the motivations for evangelism, as set out by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1. This is particularly helpful as we prepare for Passion for Life in 2022.
Talk by John Blanchard. Romans 1:16f – evangelistic preaching. 10th January 1994
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. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
The average church member has little heart for evangelism.
Effective evangelism needs evangelistically minded congregations.
Can’t hold a biblical view of election and then just trust that better technique will bring results.
Notice Paul’s heart as an evangelist
- Commitment (Paul is not ashamed)
Paul’s deep focussed involvement with the Gospel.
a. the message (2:16; 5:14) MY Gospel; passion, like a fire cf Jeremiah)
Paul believers preaching is the release of a divine word which has gripped the heart of the preacher.
The Gospel posses HIM.
Are we gripped by the Gospel? The congregation won’t be stirred by an unstirred preacher.
b. The mandate. Jeremiah was sent by God (see Jer 1:4,6 & Ch 23)
- Confidence (God’s power for salvation)
“lift the saviour high; lay the sinner low”
a. the plight of man
Today, there is no objection to preaching against “sins”
But to preach man’s depravity is offensive,. Man has no ability to obey/believe.
Our Gospel preaching is usually existential.
The centre of gravity is the other side of the grave.
b. the power of the Gospel
2 Cor 10:4
The success of the Gospel exasperates our enemies and exhilarates the evangelist
“My heart was filled with love, my eyes with tears, and my mouth with arguments” – John Wesley
Martyn Lloyd Jones advocated special preparation for evangelism
The whole will of God
The way to bring sinners to Christ is to preach Christ to sinners
Paul understood the culture: the Gospel is contemporary as well as eternal.
a. Iniquitous age
Pumping electronic sewerage into our living rooms (cf Rom 1:32ff)
b. Indifferent age
The age of the shrug.
c. Informed age
People are better informed about everything, We must know our age.
John Stott – double listening
Be men of people not men of books
- Concern (for salvation)
Salvation is Truth – demanding a verdict (cf 1:5)
Sermons must demand a response and resonance. We must engage them, not just inform them.
Pray the Lord to save your hearers, drive home to them, as if you could save them yourself.
a. Use the 2nd person plural in application “You are the man”£ applications leads to conviction
b. Use questions. Questions demand answers.
e.g. Baxter “call to sinners”
Questions back man’s conscience into the corner; they force him to defend himself.
all of this arises from our concern: John Wesley always had heaven and hell in his eyes