The Creation evangelism challenge
First published in Prayer News, CMI-UK/Europe, January 2023
According to statistics, about two-thirds of people in the world have not heard of Jesus. Although most of these people are found in the 10/40 window,1 there are some nearer to home. One of my colleagues tells of meeting European teenagers who fell in this category. The God of the Bible was unknown to them. This is reminiscent of Paul on Mars Hill in Athens (Acts 17:22–28, pictured), where he saw an altar ‘To the unknown god’. Paul introduced this God as the Creator of the heavens and the Earth.
In many ways, we live in a culture whose thinking is similar to those first century Greeks. Claiming to be wise, our society has become foolish (Romans 1:22); we have, by and large, traded belief in the Creator for a worship of evolution (and this has infiltrated the Church too). This is why Creation Ministries International exists.
CMI’s ultimate goal is not to turn evolutionists into creationists (although that is part of it). Our vision is to see the Lord Jesus Christ honoured as Creator and Saviour of the world, yes, outside of the churches, but first inside the churches. How will others come to enquire about faith, if Christians in the churches do not believe their own book?
Ignorance replaces knowledge
Once upon a time many western countries had at least some basic knowledge of the Bible. Our societies used to be predominantly Judeo-Christian. That is no longer so. With the advent of evolutionary ‘preaching’ at all levels of society, and the ongoing suppression of biblical doctrine, all the heritage that was built upon Christendom is being eroded. Our countries have now turned into secular societies.
In the village where I live, most children used to attend Sunday school, even when their parents would not themselves attend church services. It is fair to say that things have changed dramatically, for the worse, and right across the West too.
Just as we like to think we are enlightened here in the West, so the Greeks thought themselves wise. However, “The fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (Proverbs 9:10). The Greeks, for all their interest in learning about new things, were blissfully unaware of who the Lord was, as we learn from the Apostle Paul’s trip to southern Greece (Acts 17:16–21).
Paul introduced Christ as the Creator and taught that all people stem from one man, Adam. Referring to statements by local poets, Paul demonstrated that all people are God’s direct offspring (Acts 17:28); not the most recent descendants from some evolutionary chain of being (compare Genesis 2:7).
In contrast, for the Jews, the Lord was anything but unknown. In fact, they considered the divine name (YHWH) so sacred, they avoided speaking it, so they replaced it with LORD (Adonai). Jews knew their heritage, because their genealogies (family trees) were very important to them. They understood their ancestry stretched back to Abraham, through Noah, all the way to Adam. King David, from the tribe of Judah, said in Psalm 110:1, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool’”. The first Lord is YHWH, the second Adonai. The Apostle Peter referred to this verse in his Pentecost sermon to Jews and Jewish converts in Jerusalem (Acts 2:34–35; see below). The Pharisees knew the Messiah would be a descendant of David (Matthew 22:42), yet most still rejected Him. This was because of their sinful hearts, not their lack of understanding.
The Jews understood why there was death in the world—it was a direct result of Adam’s sin (Genesis 2:17). They knew that sin is disobedience to God’s instructions. That’s why they offered sacrifices, to atone for their sin. This had to happen repeatedly, because the animals’ blood could not take away their sin, only ‘cover’ it. It took the death of a sinless, perfectly obedient Saviour to truly take away sin. One whose blood would permanently cleanse us from our wicked stains and make us white as snow (Isaiah 1:18). His blood was shed on the Cross, and His life given as a ransom to set believers free from sin and death.
This Good News (the gospel) was preached by Peter to an audience who were familiar with the Old Testament, so they had sufficient foundational understanding: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem” (Acts 2:14). They knew their history, they understood the bad news about sin’s penalty, and here was a disciple of Jesus proclaiming the Gospel. This resulted in 3,000 converts (Acts 2:41). But, sadly, all of this was foolishness to the Greeks (1 Corinthians 1:18).
Applying this in today’s world
Paul had to start by laying a biblical foundation for the people in Athens. They lacked the Genesis knowledge that was second nature for the Jews, Peter’s audience. Modern Christians often forget this critically important difference, so when they compare the results of Peter in Acts 2:41 (3,000 converts) with those of Paul in Acts 17:34 (“some … believed”), they wrongly think that Paul’s method and message were practically useless compared to Peter’s sermon. On the contrary. At CMI we realise that Paul’s accomplishment was an astounding result, miraculous even!2 Peter was sowing the seeds of the Gospel in good soil, but Paul had a huge challenge before him. He had to prepare the ground first, because, metaphorically speaking, it was hard (the Greeks had no Old Testament knowledge), overgrown with weeds, and littered with stumbling blocks (false knowledge, 1 Timothy 6:20).
CMI’s role and yours
Creation Ministries International is a missional Christian organisation. Our calling is to support the effective proclamation of the Gospel by providing credible answers that affirm the reliability of the Bible, in particular its Genesis history. Our magazines, website, and newsletters teach (make known) that other side. Our culture is biased when it comes to origins; everything must bow to evolution. CMI exists to try to balance the scales. You can help—by subscribing to, reading, and passing on Creation magazine.
This low-key form of (pre-)evangelism will help prepare people to be ready to receive—and understand—the Gospel.3 You could think of it as removing the weeds of evolutionary biology and the rocks of evolutionary geology! People need to realise that evolution and its millions of years are strongholds of false thinking that must be demolished (2 Corinthians 10:4–5). People will not readily understand the Gospel if they don’t know (and have confidence) that there is a Creator. He made a perfect world, but the universe was cursed because of Adam’s disobedience—it wasn’t full of carnivory and death millions of years before Adam’s existence. If people remain in ignorance (like the Greeks), they won’t grasp the key teachings of the origin of death and atonement for sin like the Jews did. They miss that biblical knowledge, so it’s ‘all Greek to them’!
Except for a miracle, it is unlikely that somebody entrenched in secular evolutionary thinking will change their worldview on the spot and bow the knee to Christ. If they do—to God be the glory! Usually, however, it takes time for a firmly established (but false) evolutionary worldview to erode. It’s no good building the Gospel on top of the rubble of someone’s confused ideas—a solid foundation needs to be laid first.
Surprisingly, there are even some people who know and understand the foundation in Genesis, and believe it, but they have not surrendered their lives to Christ to be born again. They accept creation, but have not (yet) knelt at the foot of the Cross in repentance. It’s a spiritual matter. The last chapter in the Creation Answers Book explains how one can be saved. However, as the saying goes: “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink”. We can and should earnestly pray for the lost. Why not pray for someone you care about right now?
References and notes
- According to the Joshua project, between 10 and 40 degrees north and from the west coast of Africa to the east coast of Asia. See: Global Commission Partners, Statistics, globalcp.org, accessed 28 Oct 2022. Return to text.
- As is every conversion. Return to text.
- A Gospel explanation is included in every issue of Creation magazine. Return to text.