- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: IVP Books; 03 edition (October 31, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0830823220
- ISBN-13: 978-0830823222
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 34 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #624,922 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People 03rd Edition
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"Carl F.H. Henry, lamenting the wedge that is sometimes driven between theology and evangelism, said to the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin in 1966, 'In these next years we must strive harder to become theologian-evangelists, rather than to remain content as just theologians or just evangelists.'
"I am delighted that Will Metzger is a theologian-evangelist. His book, Tell the Truth, has long been a personal favorite of mine and required reading in my evangelism classes. Metzger cuts through much of the theological confusion surrounding evangelism and the gospel message and sets forth biblical and practical wisdom in an easily understood and applied manner.
"I am delighted he has revised and updated this significant work and commend it to you as essential reading for anyone involved in evangelism." (Timothy Beougher, Ph.D., Billy Graham Professor of Evangelism and associate dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Church Growth, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky)
"Christianity is for sharing, and Christians who love their neighbor want to do that persuasively. Pizzazz-free and nonmanipulative, Metzger's training manual on helping people to care about truth and face the truth about Jesus is first class of its kind." (J. I. Packer, Board of Governors Professor of Theology, Regent College, and author of Knowing God)
On the 2nd edition: "We recommend it to everyone who asks for practical help in personal evangelism." (Dr. John MacArthur Jr., senior pastor, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, California)
"This is one of the best and most useful books on evangelism for ordinary Christians. Will Metzger has drawn upon a lifetime of personal ministry to write a biblically based, theologically sound, practically relevant book on how to share the gospel. Tell the Truth will help you--yes, even you!--learn how to develop an evangelistic way of life. Instead of relying on manipulative, man-centered methods of evangelism, Metzger explains how to introduce people to Jesus Christ in a way that glorifies God." (Philip Graham Ryken, senior minister, Tenth Presbyterian Church)
"This new edition has made a good book even better. You must have it!" (Rev. Ernie Reisinger, Southern Baptist pastor, evangelist and author)
"An outstanding tool for those who long to reach their campus or community with the gospel of grace." (Dr. David G. Sinclair Sr., former campus minister and senior pastor)
"Will Metzger writes Tell the Truth for a reformation of personal evangelism. He laments the evangelism that encourages nice people to be nice to others, in the hope that they will be nice to God. Such nice, uncoverted 'Christians' have lost the gospel. This probing book presents the key to evangelism in the power of grace, the sovereign grace of the gospel. Salvation is the Lord's work, accomplished by his Spirit for his glory. Awe, freedom and delight in the Lord are its fruit." (Dr. Edmund P. Clowney, author, former president, Westminster Theological Seminary (PA))
"A very good book just got better. Twenty years ago Tell the Truth moved us so deeply that we brought Will Metzger to our church for a seminar on glad-hearted, God-centered evangelism. Now updated and with powerful new sections on sovereign grace and whole-souled worship, this book soars with a fresh passion for the supremacy of God in truth-driven evangelism. May God use it to move thousands to make much of Christ among the perishing." (John Piper, author of Desiring God)
About the Author
Metzger has been a campus minister at the University of Delaware since 1965, where he serves with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and Christian InterAction (a church and campus connection). His evangelism ministry has taken him to every continent, and he has witnessed to people from varied nationalities both on campus and through a church that he pastored.
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Will Metzger's book, Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People (IVP), helps Christians keep evangelism front and center, and he accomplishes this task by offering doctrinally-minded Christians a training manual for witnessing in a God-centered way. Today, I will summarize the four main sections of Metzer's book. Tomorrow, I will offer a few areas of agreement and critique.
Metzger begins by focusing on the importance of the gospel itself. Whereas some evangelistic strategies assume that the Christian already understands the gospel, Tell the Truth rightly perceives that the very message of the gospel is often neglected or even lost completely in certain methods of evangelism.
Metzger hopes readers will "recover the theological content of the gospel because only as your view of God's active grace in salvation is changed can you find the confidence, joy, and gratitude to undergird a new evangelistic lifestyle" (15).
Integral to Metzger's thesis is the idea that methodology flows from theology. Our theology is not only important in getting the message right, but also in how we present that message. He writes:
"A scriptural doctrine of evangelism should be the controlling element in any practice of evangelism" (19).
Because theology is so important for effective evangelism, Metzger spends a good deal of the book defining the gospel.
First, he shows that many forms of evangelism minimize the biblical content of the gospel. Too many strategies proclaim God's love to the exclusion of his holiness and justice (39-41). He points out that gospel presentations rarely speak of the danger and reality of hell (46-7).
Next, he offers a road to recovery of the "whole" gospel.
Metzger's gospel presentation can be categorized in five major points:
Evangelists must teach about God, specifically his role as Owner, Father, and Judge of humanity (51-8).
We must speak of "God-centered living," which brings the Law into the picture (Love God and your neighbor) (58-62).
Evangelists must show how "self-centered living" separates us from God and enslaves us to sin (62-7).
We must proclaim Jesus Christ, whose death and resurrection provide our "way back to life" (67-75).
Evangelists must call for the necessary response of repentance and faith (75-82).
After defining the main components of the gospel message, Metzger devotes the next section of the book to recovering a robust understanding of true conversion. Metzger believes that evangelists should not be satisfied with a partial response to the gospel. He makes a distinction between "professing" and truly "possessing" salvation.
If Christians are to rightly understand true conversion, then we must recover the biblical teaching of regeneration. We are not seeking quick conversions, but the Holy Spirit's work in regenerating lost hearts (89).
Metzger believes that a right understanding of conversion will lead to gospel presentations that appeal to the mind, emotions, and will. Too many evangelistic methods focus on only one of these three parts of the human personality. Metzger urges us to hold them in proper balance.
The third section of the book provides a theological foundation for evangelism. Metzger puts forth a Calvinistic understanding of salvation (though he does not use the label). A proper understanding of God's sovereignty in salvation will lead to a proper understanding of grace which, in turn, should embolden our witness for Christ.
He points out three myths that obscure the nature of free and unmerited grace: inalienable rights, human goodness, and free will (121-8). Metzger believes that worship should be the main motivation for personal evangelism. Worship as a response to grace should provide the necessary energy for sustaining our witnessing efforts (157-8).
The final section of Tell the Truth launches into the mechanics of personal witnessing. Metzger eliminates obstacles that stand in the way of evangelism (religious pluralism, lack of apologetic preparation, fear), and he challenges "ordinary Christians" to be faithful to the Great Commission through personal evangelism (159-79).
The last chapter (before the lengthy appendices) focuses on the different ways that gospel presentations can be tailored for different kinds of people (182-6).
Overall, Tell the Truth is a valuable book for Christians who desire to be faithful in personal evangelism. One of the strengths of this book is Metzger's ability to make careful distinctions.
For example, Metzger is right to point out the difference between sharing a personal testimony and testifying about Christ (28). He understands the value of a personal testimony, and yet carefully distinguishes between telling "your story" and telling Christ's story.
Metzger is also right to see the call for response as an integral part of the gospel proclamation. While the call to repentance and faith may not necessarily be "gospel" itself, a gospel presentation is surely lacking if it gives no instructions for sinners to respond (77-9). Over against some Calvinists who refrain from calling for a response, Metzger rightly understands the biblical imperative that must be issued to those who hear the gospel.
Another strong point is balance. For example, Metzger combines the truth of Christ's exclusivity with the radically inclusive call to salvation (164), thereby avoiding the trap of fostering an attitude of religious superiority.
Metzger also strikes a good balance between formulaic evangelism and strategic methods and diagrams. He understands the helpfulness of evangelistic tools, yet resists the tendency to rely on only one specific method.
The appendices are likewise very helpful to those who wish to consistently engage in personal evangelism.
There are a few weaknesses in Tell the Truth, though these in no way detract from the overall value that Metzger's book provides for evangelicals.
The first weakness is one that is common to evangelistic strategies in the evangelical world: the absence of the church. It is unfortunate that in the simplified version of the "Come Home" diagram (54), Metzger does not mention the church at all.
The evangelistic strategy is exclusively vertical in nature, so that the unsaved person hears a message that is only about a personal relationship with God. The horizontal dimension of the good news (God creating a covenant community for his glory and the good of the world) is missing from this picture. To his credit, Metzger does include the invitation into the family of God in a couple of other places (126), but the church is not seen as the primary platform upon which salvation is taking place.
Despite the good emphasis on true regeneration and personal conversion resulting from complete gospel presentations, Metzger's proposal does not go far enough. Because of its absence within the overall structure of the gospel presentation, the church will inevitably seem like a theological afterthought or the practical "fine print" at the bottom of a gospel presentation rather than the integral part of the picture it truly is.
Whereas the Bible's storyline presents us with God as a good Creator determined to redeem his fallen creatures and restore his fallen world, Tell the Truth focuses exclusively on the individual side of this equation. The person who hears this gospel presentation rightly understands his unworthiness before a holy God, but does not hear an explanation of the overarching framework into which his personal story must fit.
There are a few other weak spots in the book.
Because of the exclusive focus on the individual, Metzger sees guilt as the primary problem that Christ came to deal with (67). Guilt is indeed a problem resolved by the cross, but would not "death" be primarily what Christ came to deal with (Rom. 6:23)? Were Metzger to have emphasized the problem of "death" over "guilt," his understanding of the resurrection and the future hope of Christians would have been greatly sharpened.
Another weakness is due to oversimplification in Metzger's description of "me-centered theology." At one point, he basically equates Arminians and Pelagians (109), a move which would surely ruffle the feathers of most Arminians (who would stand side-by-side with Augustine against Pelagius any day).
Also, to illustrate the doctrine of irresistible grace, he tells a story that makes it sound like people come to faith apart from and despite their will (144).
Tell the Truth is one of the best evangelical books on personal witnessing that you will find. It rightly points out the dangers of shrinking the Bible's teaching on salvation and brings us back to the core of the gospel in order to reestablish our passion for evangelism.
Despite a few flaws, Tell the Truth helpfully centers our evangelistic efforts upon God and his glory.
"Missions begins and ends in worship. Compassion for the lost is a high and beautiful motive for missionary labor. Without it we lose the sweet humility of sharing a treasure we have freely received. But we have seen that compassion for people must not be detached from passion for the glory of God."
Secondly, the author is concerned with the conversion of the whole person. In this part he explains how some seem to heavily change in one area knowledge, emotions, or will, at the time of conversion. Yet, the author points out is it is important that we emphasize not only an objective understanding of gospel content, but also the emotional effect of that content. Metzger says that the me-centered approach to evangelism helps perpetuate this effect of not reaching the whole person. To illustrate this point Metzger quotes James Denny's The Death of Christ: A man is sitting on a pier fishing on the calm summer day. Suddenly another man comes running down the pier, dives into the water, and drowns. Having witnessed this, I explained to the fisherman, "This man died for you!" The fisherman, however, has great trouble understanding why the man needed to die for him. After all, he was in no danger that he could see. .... Denny says that the parable of the fishermen unaware of his peril reflects the way modern day evangelists often present the gospel. They minimize human depravity, and so the preaching of the cross loses its power (111).
Thirdly, the author asserts that grace is the foundation for evangelism. He discusses the meaning of grace, why grace make salvation possible, and some of the things that distort grace. The author says that we have a compulsion to earn salvation and again promotes the idea that we have to be God-centered instead of me-centered. An interesting point is that the author argues that the image of God in human beings was defaced but not erased, which is often a point of argument for Arminians to say that sinful beings still have choice. Yet, he goes on to say that our wills are captive to our natural desires, which would indicate that we are not free to choose what is good and right. It is his belief that if we must become God-centered. Some of the myths that distort grace are relying upon our `inalienable' rights, or human goodness, and reliance upon our `free will.' Metzger refers his readers to Jonathan Edwards as recommended reading concerning decision-making according to our own motives and desires. In describing God's grace, the author attempts to explain, mostly in theological terms; the questions that man brings up concerning his part in salvation. For instance: "The doctrine of God's sovereignty is that God selects those on whom his favor will rest. God is self-determined. He has supreme independence; he is autonomous - a law unto himself. As each goes to their appointed destination in the afterlife, no one will shake their fist at God, saying, "I didn't get what I deserved." except, of course, for the person in heaven" (141)!
Finally in this section, Metzger discusses the response to the whole gospel. He says that worship is both the passion and purpose of evangelism. The author believes that evangelism comes second to worship, that worship focuses us towards a Redeemer who saves us, and that worship (like evangelism) engages the whole person.
Fourthly, Metzger's final part involves who the Gospel is offered by. He asserts that ordinary Christians can make an effective gospel presentation. This includes fears about witnessing, reasoning with people, and simple conversation. Metzger explains how our society has developed concerning pluralism and relativism, and how people have unconscious beliefs about the world. When relating the gospel personally, the writer says that we must be careful not to shift the focus to our personality and experience, but include essential elements of the Gospel message. He concludes the textual section of the book by describing some practical effects of grace-centered evangelism with a goal leading to discipleship. True conversion leads to sincere obedience, a love for the brethren, and a life of service.
Appendix A consists of training materials for learning God-Centered evangelism, which includes preparing a testimony and answering questions. Appendix B includes a diagram that assists a person in presenting the gospel. Appendix C is a twelve session study of the whole book. Appendix D is an essay on why "doctrine is not an obscene word."
I appreciate the authors' attempts to provide a whole or holistic view concerning evangelism and the book provided a catalyst to think more about my views concerning the topic, yet I did find some theological difficulties that I continue to struggle with. For instance, the author says, "This book is about the scandal of sovereign salvation. In it, I blame God for salvation, in the sense that he is totally responsible. .... It's all God's fault - a grace that gives response-ability to the spiritually dead" (13). But then, of the uses some relatively weak words to say that actually this totally responsible God only "woos" us from death to life. Certainly, this is the age old theological debate; but I believe that it is worth mentioning. I can appreciate and even agree with Metzger's seemingly strong Calvinistic views, but in approaching a more holistic view of evangelism these problems will become apparent. Metzger says, "All my questions can be boiled down to one: what was the way to witness that would be shaped by a high view of a Creator-Redeemer God who does not merely make salvation available but actually empowers a person to respond by repenting and receiving" (18)? He also titles a section of the book: Not Free Will But A Freed Will, which implies that free will without God's grace is really not free will at all. But essentially, I do agree that the author does a good job of a holistic view concerning a presentation of the Gospel. It does include what the Gospel is, who presents the Gospel, and what some of the questions concerning those two elements. I found work to be somewhat extensive in its topics and helpful in explaining the situation we find ourselves in today as we attempt to be God's messengers, bringing a message, to those who do not realize that they need to hear it.
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