Sunday, September 27, 2015

Honest Evangelism, Part Five

Last week, as we continued our look at what honest evangelism is, I set forth the first four of eight discoveries we make out of Acts 17:16-34 on how to do evangelism honestly. In this post I want to cover the remaining four.

5. Though God has given to mankind every opportunity to see he is there, nevertheless, because of man’s ignorance for which he is fully responsible(cf. Acts 17:23, 27a), mankind, left to his own devices, only gropes in the dark trying to find God (Acts 17:27b). This accounts for the reason why mankind all over the world worships, but does so in a way that is twisted and ignorant (cf. Acts 17:22-23; 27), and this even though God has made himself known to mankind through creation (Romans 1:19ff.). What this means is that one of the goals we should have in evangelism is to show to the lost how their view of God is not true and does not fit truly with the way life really is. Yet, the truth of Scripture, the core of which is the gospel, does.

6. Part of the shift in God’s history of salvation that has taken place with the coming of Jesus Christ is that the times of ignorance (i.e. the times in which God did not make greater or special movement to take the message of salvation to peoples that they might know him) have now come to a close. As such, God is moving through his people (the Church) to take the announcement, i.e. the command for mankind to repent and believe in Jesus Christ, to all peoples. Because of this, we should also note that not only is all mankind under obligation to worship the true God based on God’s revelation of himself in creation, but all mankind has failed and are under obligation before God to repent and believe (Acts 17:30). One of the things Paul is demonstrating to us in this passages is that we should not be afraid to tell others about Jesus Christ and to call them to trust in him!

7. Note that Paul, even in a somewhat hostile environment in which he is dealing with academia, nevertheless preaches the gospel, speaks of judgment (and so the need for salvation), speaks of the way of salvation (need for Christ’s righteousness), and calls people to respond in repentance and faith. What is more, he also proclaims the resurrection, an important part of the gospel (cf. 1 Cor. 15:1-4). We see this all in Acts 17:30-31. We should never conclude that the gospel does not need to be communicated.

8. We should also notice that the resurrection provides verification of the truthfulness of future judgment, as well as the truthfulness of the way of salvation that one might avoid that judgment (Acts 17:31). So, as we teach others the gospel, we should not leave out the resurrection.

In addition to these eight discoveries we have made in Acts 17 about honest evangelism, we should also see there are four different responses (most likely) to Paul’s evangelism, which sets forth a pattern of what we can expect as we do gospel work—especially gospel work among the unsaved. These responses fit with what we see of responses to Jesus and other Jesus followers in the early church, as well as what Jesus teaches in the parable of the seed, sower, and soils (Mt. 13).
 a. Some will mock us (perhaps, as we see elsewhere, even going as far as to persecute). Acts 17:32a reads: “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked.”

b. Some will be open to hearing more and so we can continue to teach and dialogue with them. Acts 17:32b-33 read: “But others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ 33 So Paul went out from their midst.”

c. Some, though not mocking, may say they want to hear more, but perhaps simply are not interested (this may be part of the implication as seen in 32b-33).

d. Some will truly believe with saving faith in Jesus Christ. Verse 34 reads: “But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.”

I pray that these discussions about honest evangelism will spur us on to the love and good work of doing gospel work among others. I pray that we will at least begin to pray and look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus!

Joyfully Heralding The Gospel With You!


Sunday, September 20, 2015

Warning: Beware Of Terrorist Groups In The Church

Latest news reports are that five terrorist cell groups have been operating in many of our churches. They have been identified as: Bin Sleepin, Bin Arguin, Bin Fightin, Bin Complainin, and Bin Missin.

Their leader, Lucifer Bin Workin, trained these groups to destroy the Body of Christ. The plan is to come into the church disguised as Christians and to work within the church to discourage, disrupt, and destroy.

However, there have been reports of a sixth group. A tiny cell known by the name Bin Prayin is actually the only effective counter terrorism force in the church. Unlike other terrorist cells, the Bin Prayin team does not blend in with whoever and whatever comes along.

Bin Prayin does whatever is needed to uplift and encourage the Body of Christ. We have noticed that the Bin Prayin cell group has different characteristics than the others. They have Bin Watchin, Bin Waitin, Bin Fastin, and Bin Longin for their Master, Jesus Christ, to return.


However, you can spot them if you bin lookin and bin goin.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Honest Evangelism, Part Four

In my last three posts I have sought to discuss evangelism in an honest fashion. Originally, I thought I would do only three posts on this topic. However, this past week I was reminded just how helpful Luke’s Acts 17:16-34 account of Paul’s ministry in Athens is. So, I want to draw out some of the lessons on evangelism we find there.

Before I get into those principles, I want to say a word about the context and what is going on in this passage.

As part of the second missionary journey of Paul, he, Silas, and Timothy were in Berea where many men and women believed (Acts 17:11-12). However, we discover in Acts 17:13 Jews in Thessalonica came to Berea and caused such an agitation that it led to Paul being sent off while Silas and Timothy remained in Thessalonica (17:14-15).

Paul came to Athens, where, while waiting for Timothy and Silas to come, his spirit was provoked in him when he saw a city full of idols (17:16). Paul began to reason both in the synagogue with Jews and devout persons, as well as in the marketplace with whoever was there, including philosophers—many of whom stumbled over his preaching of the resurrection of Jesus (17:17-18). These philosophers took Paul to the Areopagus, where philosophers and those interested in hearing about new ideas, gathered (17:19-21). In Acts 17:22-34 we find the account of what Paul said at the Areopagus, along with the reaction to his message.

Here is the entire text of Acts 17:16-34:
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for
“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;
as even some of your own poets have said,
“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’
29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”
32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Here are the first four of eight discoveries we make about sharing our faith:

1. We should be motivated to do gospel work by the reality that people do not worship the true God. v. 16.

2. Though there are situations with people closer to us in relationship in which we might go more slowly in gospel work (e.g. 1 Peter 3:1-6), nevertheless, in our culture most Christians go too slowly (or not at all into gospel work) and so need to be reminded by Paul’s example at Athens, wherein it appears he went relatively quickly into proclaiming the gospel. vv. 16-34

3. Paul discovered common ground with the Athenians, i.e. a place at which he could enter the conversation. When we are mindful of praising God, of chatting our faith, of giving testimony to what he has done in us, and of giving testimony to the saving power and faithfulness of our Savior, doing gospel work with unbeliever or believer should never be far from our lips—as an overflow of our worship. Acts 17:22-23, 28

4. Sometimes, in a culture that is biblically illiterate (as ours is becoming), we must explain what this God is like whom we are proclaiming, to set a foundation for sharing the gospel and also why we need it. Acts 17:24-31
In order to grasp just how much sometimes we must discuss with someone to set a foundation, let’s look at some of the topics Paul covered in Athens:

a. The true God created all the world and everything in it (24a), including all people—from one man, so the account of Adam and Eve is affirmed by Paul (26a). What is more, God is the originator and source of life and breath, all things, for all people (25b). Everything, then, that a person has he ultimately owes it to God.

b. The true God is Lord, i.e. master or King, of all that exists (24b). The implication of this is that every person is obligated to submit to this King and follow him. Here, then, in this text, we discover that the sin which brings man under judgment (cf. vv. 30-31) consists of not submitting to and not worshipping the true King.

c. The true God does not live in manmade temples, for he does not resemble manmade inanimate idols in any way (24c, 29). Instead, because we are made in his image as his offspring, we resemble him.

d. He is self-sufficient and in need of nothing that any other being gives to him. As such, man serves God as a servant does his greater master—i.e. in submission, but he does not serve him as a physician does a patient—providing something for God he does not have and is in need of, and thus that places God in a better state than he was previously. Acts 17:25a

e. God is not only creator of all and source of all that we have, he is the Governor of all, determining the times and places mankind exists and lives. Though Luke does not tell us how God did this, if we have been accurate in our other assessments of statements in Luke-Acts about God’s specific and absolute sovereignty (e.g. Acts 4:28; 13:48), then most likely what is intended here is that God’s plan initiates the processes under consideration prior to and independent of man’s choices. Acts 17:26b

f. God, as the Governor of all, has so ordered mankind in the different times and places so that they could seek or worship him. There is something in his providential governance of the peoples of the world that demonstrates that God has given every natural opportunity for man to see, know, and seek God. Acts 17:27a

g. God is the continual sustainer of all mankind—not merely creating and starting the processes of the world, but being intimately involved in on-going life and processes of mankind—and he does this as a God that is near-by, i.e. who is not hard to find. Acts 17:27c-28

h. God is also a God who hates sin and so is judge—judging in accordance with his righteous nature, and doing so through a man who lived, died, and was raised in the place of sinners. As such, Paul makes it clear why we need salvation and how we come to salvation. Acts 17:30-31

Joyfully heralding the gospel with you,


Sunday, September 13, 2015

Honest Evangelism, Part Three

In my last two blog posts I have shared some tips on how to go about evangelism. I have sought to be honest about the difficulty of sharing the gospel with others. Very few Christians find it easy.

The last thing we need to cover for how to go about honest evangelism is guidance for how to share the gospel itself honestly. In what follows I set forth the approach I have followed for years, one that I have found easy to remember and relatively easy to use (ah, but remember my last two posts—evangelism is often hard!). I call it CPR evangelism, not only because it is about saving the lives of others eternally, but also because it involves three main movements that can be remembered by these three letters. Let’s look at it with the goal of providing a way to explain the gospel to someone else.

Cultivate Relationships:

  • Jesus taught us that the greatest commandment we have in regard to other people is to love them (Matthew 22:39). This involves meeting needs they have—regardless of what the needs are and regardless of the cost (e.g. Luke 10:29-37; Hebrews 13:16; James 1:27; 1 John 3:16-18).  The result is that this honors God (2 Corinthians 9:13).

  • We should not be surprised, then, that evangelism is best done in the context of loving relationship (John 13:34-35; 1 Peter 3:1-2).  It is often in such friendship or closeness that we have the greatest opportunities to introduce someone to Jesus Christ (John 1:40-42).  Whether it is their seeing a difference or a hope in us that will make them inquire about what makes us different (1 Peter 3:15) or whether it places us in the situation in which we can be present when they face a crisis or start asking questions, such close relationships are often the soil in which fruitful evangelism takes place.

  • This means that we begin evangelism by the simple means of getting involved with a person(s) who does not know Jesus Christ as Savior and praying for them to trust Jesus Christ as Savior with the result that they become a kingdom laborer.

  • Though cultivating relationships is important, it never truly becomes evangelism until we share the gospel.  This leads to the second part of CPR evangelism…

Plant The Seed:

  • The seed is the Word of God, the gospel (Mt. 13:3, 19).  Here is a simple, yet biblical, five point presentation of the gospel which correlates with the five fingers on our hand.

1. God created us to and commands us to honor Him.
The thumb is used since it points up and reminds us that the first point is focused upon God and why we want our lives to be “on the way up for God,” not down merely for us.

God did not create us merely to exist, but to live for a great and eternal purpose—putting Him and His greatness on display through how we live (Ps. 8:5; Isaiah 43:7).  This is why He commands us to glorify Him in all we do (1 Cor. 10:31).  It is also why we spend so much time seeking for significance and making sure our years on this earth count for something. 

Illustration:  Whenever we hear about someone accomplishing a heroic feat or whenever we read of a doctor saving a life or of someone finding a cure for a dreaded disease, it resonates with us since we have been created for something (someone) great.  Yet, we have lost sight of this great purpose for which we were created. This is seen when we focus upon our second truth…

2. We all fail to honor God as we should.
The forefinger is used since it often points in judgment.  Here it is pointing at each of us to remind us we all have fallen short of the mark.

Romans 3:23 states this simply:  “For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” In other words, God’s purpose for us, His target, is to glorify Him.  This includes loving and obeying Him.  Yet, no man truly does this. We all miss the mark as a misguided arrow misses the target.
Illustration:  This means all of us, you and me—there are no exceptions.  Many of us think this is not a big deal, yet, when we realize that sin involves thoughts, words, and deeds—and also it involves doing what God says not to do and not doing what He says to do—we see that we could be couch potatoes and still sin many times a day.  In fact, we would think we were pretty amazing, if we sinned only 3 times a day.  Yet, over the course of a year that would be over 1,000 sins and over the course of a lifetime it would be 70, 80, or 90 thousand sins.  What judge in a court of law, in his right mind, would overlook that many offences?  How much more will the perfect God of the universe not overlook our sin! 

Illustration: Some of us might say, “Yes, that might be true, but what if I do more good things than bad?”  To answer that, let’s suppose that we fixed a five egg omelet for someone.  The first four eggs we put in are fine.  However, the fifth we find out is rotten when we crack it.  What if we said, “Not to worry, the first four were fine.  They’ll make up for the bad
one.”  Of course we would not do that and we would not serve such an omelet to family or friends.  How much more must we see that a lot of good things will not make up for the sin we commit?  This is especially true when we understand that God’s requirement for us is not just to be pretty good or to be more good than bad. It is to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). 

So, sin truly is a big deal.  This is made even clearer when we understand the third truth…

3. God’s judgment is upon mankind because of this sin.
The middle or “great” finger is used since it addresses the nature of our great God.

It is customary to speak of God as love and the Bible does speak of Him in that way (1 John 4:8).  Yet, the same Bible which speaks of Him as love also says that He will in no way allow the guilty to go unpunished (Exodus 34:6-7).  The Bible says, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

Illustration: This is like a coin.  If I held out a quarter to you and told you to pick up the heads without the tails, you would not be able to do it.  To pick up the one quarter you must have both sides of the coin.  So it is with God.  He is always and at the same time, both loving and just. We can’t have one without the other.
Sin separates us from God, from His life-transforming power, from His grace, from His saving and eternal blessings.  This is true in this life and the life to come. 

 It is a good thing that God judges sin.  If He merely looked the other way when people are brutally murdered, raped, and hurt, it would suggest that He did care or value life. 

Yet, what is the solution?  How can we be saved and truly know God?  Our fourth important truth tells us…

4. God sent His Son to save sinners from God’s judgment.
The fourth finger, the marriage ring finger, is used to speak of the Son since He is the groom, the husband, who gave His life for His bride.

Since sin brings the penalty of death (separation from God) and since God’s standard is perfection, we must see that the only way of salvation is for the perfect man, the God-man, to live and die in our place.  The gap between us and God can be bridged only by Jesus Christ paying the penalty for sin and His perfect life being credited to us (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:8). 

5. We must repent and trust Jesus Christ as savior to be saved.
The fifth and final finger represents faith since the pinky completes the process of the hand grabbing on to something.  Faith and repentance comprise how we grab on to the free gift of salvation.

This saving work of Jesus Christ is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 2:25) which must be received by faith (John 1:12).  It is not just a faith of mere head knowledge.  After all, even the demons know he died, they know God exists, yet they are not saved (James 2:19).  When we come to see we cannot save our self and are grieved we have sinned against God (Acts 2:37-38), we must transfer our trust from what we do to what Christ has done for us. 

Illustration:  It is similar to when we walk in a room and sit down in a chair.  Whenever we do that, we transfer our trust from our legs and feet (for holding up our body) to that chair.  We do so because we believe it will hold us up. Yet, the difference between mere head faith and full trusting is sitting down—transferring our trust to the chair.  So, it is with Jesus Christ.  The difference between mere head faith and saving trust is transferring our “weight” from our own works to His work.
Those who do this are forgiven and have eternal life (John 5:24).

Explain: Once we have trusted Jesus Christ as our Savior, we will grow in our new faith, our new relationship with God, by reading our Bible (Joshua 1:8; John 17:17), praying (Philippians 4:6-7), and by uniting with a Bible-teaching Church which joyfully follows and loves God and others to His glory (Hebrews 10:24-25).

The third part of CPR evangelism is this, we…

Reap The Harvest:

  • Once we have shared Jesus Christ with someone(s), this is only the beginning.  If they have not trusted Christ as their Savior, we must pray for them and work with them toward this end.  If they are willing to read through the Gospel of Mark or John with you, do that.

  • Once you believe they have truly received and rested upon Christ alone for salvation, continue to meet with them weekly, reading the Bible with them and making sure they understand what they are reading on their own.