Tuesday, July 27, 2010
We had a great time at a jazz festival in Crane's Roost last Saturday evening. When we got there, it was nice and hot, and although we got to pass out a lot of tracts, it didn't seem like there were people there to talk to, or at least hold a conversation with. We had a table out, with tracts on it, and there were also toys, like the imprinted beach ball, which reads on one side, "What Can Wash Away My Sin?", and on the other side it reads, "Nothing But The Blood of Jesus" with the web site www.thegoodtest.net included. Out of the three toys offered (maracas, beach balls, and flying discs) the beach balls always win. The maracas have the Bible verse, 1 Timothy 2:5 imprinted on them, and the flying discs have John 14:6 on them. Both very important verses for this time in our culture. As the night went on, the music was loud, as expected, but we did have more conversations with people. Toward the end of the evening, I talked with a group of three young men who were full of energy. They looked to be college age, maybe, but one indicated that he was married. I was able to take them through the whole Gospel, Old Testament and all, and when I explained what the bad news was, one of the young men seemed really concerned about wanting to hear what the good news was. So I continued to explain, in detail, the Gospel to them. One of the young men had lots of questions about things, good questions, of course, but we had to stay on the Gospel. When I finally got done telling them the whole story, the one young man said out loud, something to this effect, "When I go home, I am going to thank God out loud for you telling me this". He seemed affected by the Gospel, and hopefully, the words will stay with him the rest of his life. I pray that he will never be the same, and that salvation will take root in his heart. I would request for you to pray for him, that God would grant him repentance and faith, and that he will bring much glory to God through his life. His name is Jaquan.
Saturday, July 10, 2010
I was at the grocery store the other day, and while I was by my car, I offered a tract to a woman. I did the usual explaining that there was a fun quiz on it, and if she gets stuck, the answers are on it. She took it, almost reluctantly, looking at it with suspicion. I knew I had nothing to lose, so I told her that the Gospel message was on it. Then she asked a most interesting question. She said, "Which Gospel?". I was taken by surprise, and said that it was the Gospel that was in the Bible. But I told her that her question was a very good one. There are many Gospels going around, and it is good to find out which one we are talking about. Her demeanor changed, and she took the tract more readily. What I learned from that experience was that first of all, there are many 'gospels' out there, and we need to be clear on a few basic facts when we do get to present the Gospel (deity of Christ, atonement on the Cross, judgment, etc.). Some of the gospels that are going around have some similarities to the real thing, but there is always a glitch. Most of the people I talk to believe that Jesus really is God, and that He really did die for our sins, but they see God as an 'all-loving' and 'all-forgiving' type of being. They can't imagine a loving God allowing people to go to hell, so they assume that they are going to heaven to be with this 'all-loving' and 'all-forgiving' god that they have made up in their minds. Now, is God all loving? The Bible says that 'God is love'. God loved the world so much that He gave His Son to die for our sins. So, what is wrong with the picture of this all-loving God? It is in the assumption that because Jesus died for our sins, it means that we are ok with God, even staying in our sins. It doesn't require faith or repentance or any responsibility on the part of the human. In the eyes of the person, it doesn't require a response from him or her to the Gospel. This teaching is prevalent in our churches unfortunately. It leaves people with a false sense of their eternal welfare.
Secondly, there are so called Christian teachings that would actually teach that Jesus is not God in the flesh. The people who embrace this type of thinking would emphatically believe (and will want you to know they believe this) that Jesus is the Son of God. They just don't believe that He is God incarnate. Trying to reason with these people is like talking to a brick. There are even mainstream denominations that would have this kind of understanding theologically. Some groups really struggle with the concept of the Trinity. They understand it to conflict with the concept of God being One God, or Three in One. God can do the work in their hearts that is necessary for them to understand. With God all things are possible, even helping people to understand the concept of the Trinity.
Thirdly, this ties in with the all-loving God way of thinking, but, in my opinion, I think some professing Christians are reacting to legalism in the church, or, the fact that so many churches are dead and ritualized, and they see through this, by going in the opposite direction. They might have a focus on the freedom we have in Christ, and the good news that we are not saved by works, that they might even shy away from the concept of sanctification, because it seems like a work that we have to do to earn our salvation. They misunderstand that although salvation is free, (we don't or can't earn anything for our salvation. Someone else completely paid for it), they are careful to not embrace anything structured (like Bible study, evangelism, disciplines of grace) because they assume people do those things out of legalism. There was actually a time when I thought like this. I wanted to be careful not to do good works because I didn't want to communicate to people, the false idea, that I was saved by my good works. Of course, I wasn't openly talking about the things of God or telling people the Gospel. I was hoping they would look at my life and see it. But would they see it if I weren't doing good works? I doubt it. Like someone said, "You may be the only Bible that people will read". But if I were doing good works, wouldn't that communicate the wrong gospel? It goes back to the heart. What is my motive? Am I trying to impress people with my 'spirituality', or am I just a recipient of God's grace and mercy, and showing forth the goodness of God, because I am in need of His grace?
And fourthly, on a similar note, there is a movement in the 'church' called the 'emergent' church. It is not a denomination, but it is something we need to be aware of. Not everything in the emergent church movement is necessarily bad, but there are a few things that are like rotten apples in it. The foremost leaders of this movement seem to think that the church is all wrong in the way it does things. It is trying to redo church and make it relevant to the culture. It has a higher opinion of the culture than it does of the Scriptures. If you want a taste of what the emergent church is about, look into the book by Rob Bell called, Velvet Elvis. You will see how he views God, the Bible, evangelism, and the culture. As you read this sad book, you will note that the many things that are done wrong in the church today, are discarded and not even considered valid. His idea of evangelism includes befriending a person and waiting until the right moment before you would share the Gospel. God forbid that you would give someone a tract, or do open air evangelism. He says that Jesus isn't happy with open air preachers. When you give tracts out, you are doing it to get a notch in your belt. There could be some truth in those statements. A person could be giving tracts out to get a notch in their belt. Some open air preachers are really nasty and judgmental. But should we disobey Jesus' command to preach the Gospel to all creation because some people have wrong motives when they do evangelism? I think not! But that is what the emergents are thinking. When Scripture and the culture conflict, Scripture must bow to the culture. How sad.
Let's study God's word and be prepared to help people understand what God is like, and why we need a Savior. Let's pray that God will work in people's hearts. Salvation is of the Lord, and He will bring the results of the Gospel in people's lives.