Book Review by Tommy Davis (firstname.lastname@example.org)
“Tell the Truth – The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People”, by Will Metzer is an outstanding book that brings into perspective the art of evangelism. Often we adopt mechanical methods to evangelism that remove personal emphasis in our attempt to introduce Christ to non-believers. Techniques that deliver half-truths can become untruths if certain key points are not included in the message of salvation. Being witnesses of Christ involves more than our testimony or pet doctrine. Our chief position should reflect that of a true recipient of the Gospel message. It is impossible to offer something we do not have; and even then, we must not hold back crucial elements of truth when presenting the Gospel. I have read Will Metzer’s book, and will highlight focal points.
- “Tell The Truth” emphasize that the right methods stems from the correct theology. A commitment to Christ is not making a simple supplication. It must precede a true conversion and give birth to a changed life. This comes by accepting the truth of the Gospel as it is in the Scriptures. To accept Christ as Lord and Savior is to respond to God’s grace. Also, acknowledging the sovereignty of God, the non-believer is responding to the preordained will of God. As Mr. Metzer states: “Only a grace-centered gospel saves and gives response-ability, which solves the non-believer’s main problem” (p. 20). Thus, the Father planned salvation, the Son accomplished it, and the Holy Spirit applies it today.
- Witnessing is the telling of events that we are assured of. Witnessing involves being an honest testimony. Metzer states that the way we live is a “primary aspect of our witness.” While we are telling God’s truth, we ought to be living God’s truth. Our lives are to reflect a clear difference as we illuminate the truth of the Gospel. “Tell the Truth” gives a great illustration that says the Christian witness has two wings: our lives and our lips (p. 25). To communicate the truths of Christ is to confirm who He said He is. Our lives are to give an eyewitness to the account of truth (1 John 1:1-13).
- Our testimony should not override the straight truth of the Person of Christ. WE are NOT Christ. Even though our lives should reflect truth, we are not the focus. On page 27 it states: “Specific truths about a specific person are the subject of our proclamation. A message has been committed to us—a word of reconciliation to the world (2 Corinthians 5:19).” In a world filled with religious pluralism, we should avoid emphasizing our testimony over truth because many false religions and their professors are testifying. Our testimony is a reflector and not the light itself.
- Presenting the whole Gospel is important. “Tell The Truth” says that we are often told to think of the gospel content in terms of a simple plan of salvation with three or four basic facts. Truth is, the evangelistic mandate given to us by the Savior is to go and “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” (p. 33). The Gospel needs to be learned before it can be lived. It is to be understood in order to be applied. Before any of this can happen, the Gospel must be communicated (taught). If we fail to understand the doctrines of the gospel, it can mislead the sinner and the believer regarding our duties. Error comes when truth is delivered in the wrong package or out of context.
- To proclaim truth in evangelism is to incorporate all elements of the Gospel message that includes God’s grace, God’s punishment for sin, and God’s future deliverance of His people. The death of Christ on the cross shows us how heinous sin is (p. 68). Grace was costly, but free. People have to admit that they are sinners who cannot save themselves. Metzger states: “I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear simply because we are too anxious to get the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness….”(p. 71). Thus, he adds that we cannot come to the king with one hand behind our backs giving indication of secret reservations because we are not in a position to bargain (p. 72). When we proclaim truth, God will perform the work. The Holy Spirit’s job is to seal the believer and illuminate truth.
- When the Gospel is presented in its entirety and accepted on the basis of truth, it produces changes in people. “How can we guard against cheap grace and mere intellectual assent with little evidence of a changed life? How can we discern any idols still lurking in the heart? (p. 88). Regeneration is to picture salvation from God’s side. It happens instantaneously. On the other hand, conversion, as defined on page 89, is “viewing salvation from our perspective. It is a process of the entire work of God’s grace from the first dawning of understanding.” Remember Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) in how he was baptized after beholding the witness of the apostles. Rather than come to Christ for salvation, he “came” to the church for power to serve his own purposes. He thought he could purchase what was already free.
- Presenting the whole counsel of God leads to genuine worship. Despite the language we may include in our hymns; if we do not know the truth about Christ, we cannot worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23). How often I hear people proclaim: “Praise the Lord” or “Thank you Jesus” and yet do not believe in the Deity of Christ! The purpose of evangelism is “changing worshipers of false gods into worshipers of the true God” (p. 151). Churches have become victims of abbreviated theology and have replaced biblical truths with tradition. They have made Christ into a cultural god made with their own hands. Real worship is a response to God’s initiative. Worship is not an “in it for me” lip service. It is a response, “not a self-initiated, creative activity on our part” (p. 156).
CONCLUSION: When a person truly is saved by believing the whole Gospel, that person will show evidence of conversion. Thus, this enables one to be a true witness and provide an accurate account of the Savior. “Salvation through Christ is obtained not by trying to save yourself, but by trusting what Someone else has done for you” (p. 164). There is only one Person who has provided the one solution to mankind’s problem. The right kind of belief produces the correct kind of witness. “You cannot get close to the heart of God in worship without hearing his heartbeat for witnessing” (p. 157). An honest witness will highlight truth. We are not to confront people with ourselves but with the risen Christ. As a result, the world will see more believers living out lives worthy of our calling and recycle this phenomenon until Christ comes for His church. Thus, “Tell the Truth” provides encouragement and a recommended structure that would serve the evangelist well in presenting the Gospel message in its fullness.