Dr. Larry Moyer is Vice-President of the Free Grace Alliance, and President and CEO of EvanTell, Inc.
The following is taken from the Free Grace Alliance National Conference, on October 7, 2008; paraphrased with permission.
Grace-Driven Evangelism Ministry (2 Timothy 2:22-26): "Use a Humble Attitude, Not a Hostile Argument"
Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But avoid foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing that they generate strife. And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
Verse 22 says we should "flee youthful lusts." There is a kind of lust for proving ones-self correct. Too often, younger, lust-driven evangelists back up others in a corner when evangelizing, to prove how intelligent they are. Verse 23 says that we are to "avoid foolish and stupid arguments." Why are these arguments called "stupid?" Because they are speculations. They talk about things they don't know, and it turns out that they do not know what they are talking about. On the other hand, God never talks to us as dismissive, so we ought to avoid the argument which is stupid, not the people. We avoid speculative debates, "knowing they generate strife."
What is the antidote for endless arguments? It is being gentle, to all. Gentleness is not manifest in scarcasm, nor in being rude, and not in giving up. We ought to be able to teach, as one underneath, not on top. What is patience? Someone once said that patience requires one to "count down before blasting off."
Verse 25 commands us to have humility while correcting those in opposition. We must not strive but be gentle, for Jesus was led as a lamb to the slaughter, considering how He was representing His Father. When responding to those who oppose your message, use a humble attitude, not a hostile argument. Why?
The opposition is not intellectual; it is spiritual. Verse 25 says "that they might sober up." They can't even understand what they are saying; it's as if they are drunk. Only God can change their mind, so we need meekness, not madness. It is not bringing the lost to Christ, but bringing Christ to the lost.
God sees our evangelism different than we do. We focus on the debate, but He focuses on our demeanor. We focus on what comes forth from our lips; He focuses on what comes forth from our life.
We win others toward soberness not with pressure, but with patience; not with quarrels, but with gentleness. God is requiring not just our message, but our manner in sharing the good news of Christ. God wants us to tell everyone, every lost person, no matter what their reaction may be. There are some who will be incredibly arrogant in response to us, but we ought to tell them the gospel regardless. Some in Jesus' day were also arrogant, but He got their attention directly through telling them that their father was the Devil. Others were ready to receive salvation, such as the Samaritan woman at the well, to which He offered both grace and truth.
The truth of the gospel, is that Christ died for our sins and rose from the dead.
The grace of the gospel is the sensitivity to respond personally to those who are receiving the message.
Grace is so compelling, so attractive. Once there was a man who spent much time with an evangelist arguing and debating the many facets of Christianity. In the end, the evangelist told him "I see your choice and reasons for denying the truth as I have laid it before you, and I want you to know that I love you just the same whether or not you believe it."
This lost man called back later and admitted to the evangelist, "I am beginning to believe what you've been sharing with me because I could not answer your last argument."
"What 'last argument'?" the evangelist asked.
The man said, "How could someone like you, love someone like me?"
The evangelist's apparent and manifest love spoke more powerfully of Christ, than all of the answers that came through their discussion.