A.W. Pink (1886-1952), in a sermon called “Present Day Evangelism,” had this to say concerning the ultimate goal of evangelism:
“The grand design of God, from which He never has and never will swerve, is to glorify Himself—to make manifest before His creatures what an infinitely glorious Being He is. That is the great aim and end He has in all that He does and says. For that He suffered sin to enter the world. For that He willed His beloved Son to become incarnate, render perfect obedience to the divine law, suffer and die. For that He is now taking out of the world a people for Himself, a people which shall eternally show forth His praises. For that everything is ordered by His providential dealings. Unto that everything on earth is now being directed, and shall actually affect the same. Nothing other than that is what regulates God in all His actings: "For of Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things: to whom be glory for ever Amen" (Rom. 11:36).”
Pink then describes the result of not keeping the glory of God paramount in our evangelism – ‘fixing on ends of our own’ and developing ‘means of our own’:
“If the evangelist fails to make the glory of God his paramount and constant aim, he is certain to go wrong, and all his efforts will be more or less a beating of the air. When he makes an end of anything less than that, he is sure to fall into error, for he no longer gives God His proper place. Once we fix on ends of our own, we are ready to adopt means of our own. It was at this very point evangelism failed two or three generations ago, and from that point it has farther and farther departed. Evangelism made "the winning of souls" its goal, its summum bonum, and everything else was made to serve and pay tribute to the same. Though the glory of God was not actually denied, it was lost sight of, crowded out, and made secondary. Further, let it be remembered that God is honored in exact proportion as the preacher cleaves to His Word, and faithfully proclaims "all His counsel," and not merely those portions which appeal to him.”
In his sermon, Pink further asserts that:
“The feverish urge of modern evangelism is not how to promote the glory of the triune Jehovah, but how to multiply conversions. The whole current of evangelical activity during the past fifty years has taken that direction. Losing sight of God’s end, the churches have devised means of their own.”
Well, if Pink was right about having observed fifty years of errant evangelism (human ‘ends’ and human ‘means’), and he died in 1952, guess what? The glory of God as the chief goal of evangelism has been largely absent from ‘modern’ evangelism for over a century.
If someone were to ask me how the glory of God has been minimized in our time, I could easily provide a dozen or so examples, from ‘decisionism’ to promises of ‘health, wealth and prosperity’, and points in between. If asked that question, I would go straight to the minimization and even complete omission of the central issue that the message of the gospel addresses – the problem of sin.
The issue of sin is minimized when it’s pushed to the stove’s back burner and placed on ‘simmer’. Christ’s suffering and death on a bloody cross were of course necessary for men to be saved, but only to make them ‘savable’. Their ultimate fate rests in an act of natural human decision. The issue of sin need only come up in the ‘salvation conversation’ as something behind the scenes, and many times doesn’t even make it to the ‘stage’
Dear friends, when the central issue that plagues mankind since the Fall of Adam is omitted from our evangelistic efforts, we have failed to give God the glory due His Name for our salvation and instead have given it to ourselves. Well, haven’t we?
To God be the glory, great things He has done;
So loved He the world that He gave us His Son,
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin,
And opened the life gate that all may go in.
O perfect redemption, the purchase of blood,
To every believer the promise of God;
The vilest offender who truly believes,
That moment from Jesus a pardon receives.
Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer, and higher, and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the earth hear His voice!
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord,
Let the people rejoice!
O come to the Father, through Jesus the Son,
And give Him the glory, great things He has done.
– Fanny Crosby