Posted in evangelism, theology

The Gospel is advancing

By Elizabeth Prata

Though the world is dark and satan prowls, the Gospel’s power to transform lives and enlarge the kindgom is advancing!

As you shake your head is dismay at the darkness that is covering the world, remember the Light is advancing MORE because Jesus is the power! I offer you this trailer from the DVD Dispatches from the Front series and I’m sure you’ll be moved by the Gospel’s power and awed at the grace and love of our Savior. THIS is what it is all about: salvation. There are more at the link below.

“Frontline Missions is an amazing ministry that produces the Dispatches from the Front DVD series. Here is what the ministry is all about: Frontline’s key objective is to advance the Gospel, forming vibrant, Word-centered, disciple-making churches, especially in those regions of the world that have the least Light. We are driven by the same desire that animated the apostle Paul who said it was always his ambition to preach the Gospel where Christ was not known (Romans 15:20). We pursue this goal by equipping Christians on the frontlines to reach their own people for Christ, by forming strategic partnerships with them, and by developing creative platforms in countries closed to traditional missions.”

Please support missionaries with your prayers and your money. They are on the frontlines. And lives are being changed, eternally.

Posted in evangelism, Uncategorized

Unpopular The Movie

New movie coming out this month! The good folks at Red Grace Media asked:

“Would love your help getting this out with the Hastag #UnpopularTheMovie and the Link http://www.unpopularthemovie.com”

Their description reads:

Unpopular The Movie is a Evangelism resource for the church. Unpopular is a gospel presentation by Emilio Ramos, Dr James White of Aomin.org, and Paul Washer from Heart Cry Missionary Society. Unpopular is meant to serve as a tool to evangelize non-Christians with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To stay up to date visit http://www.unpopularthemovie.com

Here is the trailer

Posted in evangelism, glorify, holy spirit

When they reject the Gospel…God is also glorified. Evangelism part 3/3

photo credit: Chris Yarzab
via photopin cc

We are commanded to share the Good News, make disciples, and teach (Matthew 28:19-20). We love Jesus so much that when we share Him and His unique and magnificent work on the cross, we think, why doesn’t everyone just see how clearly He loves us? Why don’t they see how great of a sinner we really are?” But we also know that minds are blinded and hearts are dead. (2 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 4:18). Not all will accept the truth.

Jesus was very popular, with all His miracles and feedings and casting out demons. But after He’d fed the five thousand, He shared some hard truths.

When many of his followers heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this?” (John 6:60-61)

They did.

photo credit: AlicePopkorn via photopin cc

“After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (John 6:66)

Was Jesus doing it wrong? They wanted to stone Him, throw Him off a cliff, and eventually they did kill Him. Many left His ministry after teaching them God’s standards and His words. Did Jesus do it wrong? Should He have been less oft-putting? Watered it down so they would listen?

Jesus would have failed personal evangelism class in almost every Bible college and seminary I know. Matthew 19:16-22 describes a young man who looked like the hottest evangelistic prospect the Lord had encountered so far. He was ripe. He was eager. There was no way he would get away without receiving eternal life. But he did. Instead of getting him to make a decision, in a sense Jesus chased him off. He failed to draw the net. He failed to sign the young man up. Should we allow our ideas of evangelism to indict Jesus? I think we need to allow His example to critique contemporary evangelism. Christ’s confrontation of this young man gives us much-needed insight into reaching the lost. (source)

His truths and the reaction to them should not be alien to you if you’ve been sharing the Gospel at all. One where the Holy Spirit is present, anyway! The truth of the Gospel always divides or angers. Paul’s truths caused riots. Stephen’s sermon caused him to be killed by stoning. They tried to kill Jesus many times. Christians today in Muslim nations are killed outright for their preaching. Jesus said that even families will be divided. (Matthew 10:34-36).

photo credit: daveblume via photopin cc

When there is a reaction, it is because people don’t like their sin exposed and don’t like even a discussion about it. Everyone wants to think they are good, and have a solid “moral compass.” The truth of it though is that we are all evil, rotten, and bad. Only God is good. And He is SO good He sent His Son to bring us evil bad rotten people iniquity to heaven under the covering of His blood. I wish the reaction would be over that fact, where people would shout for joy.

Back to evangelism. The word of God upsets.

When we evangelize the full Gospel, beginning with sin, wrath, and Law, and ending with the Good News of Jesus Christ crucified and resurrected, it will seem to cause some to reject. I say seem because we don’t know what is in store for that person and what work the Holy Spirit will do.

In one case of a street preacher baldly and honestly sharing the truth, one man who had heard the Gospel several times before was suddenly convicted on that day. He repented and was saved.

In other cases, like the Rich Young Ruler, he heard and rejected, and went away sorrowful because he wanted to keep his possessions (and was oblivious to his sins). (Mark 10:17-22)

God is magnified in both cases. How?

Wikimedia Commons

In the former, His Spirit drew the man to God and one sinner was rejoiced over by all of heaven (Luke 15:7). God is magnified immediately by His magnificent act of redemption.

In the second case, and in all cases where a person hears the Gospel and rejects it, God is also glorified, in the future. Here is a template of future glory onto God: God called Ezekiel to proclaim His word and go to where there was rebellion and stubbornness.

“And he said to me, “Son of man, I send you to the people of Israel, to nations of rebels, who have rebelled against me. They and their fathers have transgressed against me to this very day. The descendants also are impudent and stubborn: I send you to them, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ And whether they hear or refuse to hear (for they are a rebellious house) they will know that a prophet has been among them.” (Ezekiel 2:3-5)

When they stand before Holy God they will know He was faithful and true to His promises. He offered redemption, and in stubbornness and sin, they rejected it. His is still glorified, because He is true to His Holy name.

“Salvation is always attributed to God. A sinner’s judgment is always attributed to sinner’s unwillingness to believe.” (source)

My job is to deliver the truth and to pray the Holy Spirit applies it to your heart. Many will not believe and will reject. Some may come to faith. It is in the hands of the Spirit. But the message that is watered down to make you feel comfortable and wonderful is not the message of the Great Commission nor is it the whole counsel of God. We deliver the message that Jesus told us to deliver, how the receiver feels about it is up to them.

Jonathan Edwards wrote of God glorifying Himself,

“But it was his design to make a true manifestation of his glory, such as should represent every attribute. If God glorified one attribute, and not another, such manifestation of his glory would be defective; and the representation would not be complete. If all God’s attributes are not manifested, the glory of none of them is manifested as it is: for the divine attributes reflect glory on one another.”

“Thus if God’s wisdom be manifested, and not his holiness, the glory of his wisdom would not be manifested as it is; for one part of the glory of the attribute of divine wisdom is, that it is a holy wisdom. So if his holiness were manifested, and not his wisdom, the glory of his holiness would not be manifested as it is; for one thing which belongs to the glory of God’s holiness is, that it is a wise holiness. So it is with respect to the attributes of mercy and justice.”

God is sovereign in salvation, and whether they listen or they do not listen, God is always glorified because His attributes of justice, holiness, and mercy, and all His other attributes, are plainly manifested.

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Evangelism part 1
Evangelism part 2

Posted in evangelism, share the love of jesus, witnessing, wrath

Don’t share the love of Christ … Evangelism part 2/3

I’m thinking a lot about evangelism. I feel the times are getting closer and closer to the end. Whether you are a student of eschatology or not (eschatology = last things) the fact is that today we are one day closer to the end than yesterday. Urgency is a must, because today anyone could die. If they are without the Lord, they will go to hell. We must be about the Father’s business, and urgently, with purpose and intent.

And correctly.

More on that in a minute.

Stoning of St.Stephen – Paolo Uccello, c.1435

We have many reasons to evangelize. It is an order from Jesus to go about making disciples. (Matthew 28:16-20). The lost world is becoming ever more corrupt and depraved. Or another way to look at it is, human-kind has always been corrupt and depraved, but they used to be able to hide it better. Now, they can’t. It is rising in hearts of men and therefore they need the Light more each day. (Genesis 6:1-5, Matthew 24:37).

And yet into this cauldron of depravity and evil, many Christians take the approach to evangelism by saying “Jesus loves you.” Then they go home and say “I shared the love of Christ today.”

And you know what the lost think in response to the old chestnut approach “Jesus loves you”? “Big deal. I already knew that.” So they look smilingly at the evangelizer and the evangelizer looks smilingly back and all is kumbayah.

The lost believe they are good. They believe that because they are pretty good people, of course Jesus already loves them. They’re comfortable with hearing that. As a matter of fact, a Christian has just confirmed what they already knew all along, “Phew, I’m all set,” they think. So the Christian’s evangelism efforts get a polite response and no conviction.

I say, don’t share the love of Jesus.

I plead, let’s get that worn out phrase out of our pantheon of trite phrases.

Rev. Matt Slick continues by explaining how to present the Gospel:

 “The Last Angel” Artist: Nicholas Roerich, 1912

“How do you tell people that they need Jesus? Do you tell them that Jesus loves them and that He wants to make their lives better? Do you tell people that Jesus can forgive them of their sins? Do you tell them that Jesus has a wonderful plan for their lives and that they should believe in Him and ask Jesus into their hearts? If so, you may be doing a harm to their spiritual health. That’s right, harm.”

Because in order to share the Good News, we have to share the bad news first. Sin. Judgment. Wrath. We have to tell people they are separated from God due to their sin. Speak clearly of where their default destiny lies, after death. That there is nothing they can do to earn holiness or please God. Law first.

John the Baptist and Jesus both opened their ministries with the message “Repent and believe, the kingdom of God is at hand.” Peter opened with sin, judgment and wrath in his sermon at Pentecost. (Acts 2:14-41). Paul told the Athenians at the Areopagus that they were worshiping wrong, and used their error as a starting point to tell them the main point: and that they needed to repent because the day of judgment is coming (Acts 17:30-31).

Not that we go in with guns blazing. We are mindful of our audience and tailor the message to them. Paul used the Jewish scriptures to teach the Jews of Jesus and to the Pagans he used creation as a starting point. But we get to the point quickly: sin, wrath, judgment, then the Good News, Jesus crucified, died, resurrected. But far from today’s comfy evangelizing schema, it is necessary to tell the bad news so they know why they have no hope in themselves, to show Jesus is the hope and the Good News.

The point here is to relate the holiness of God. And the best way to do that it to tell them they are unholy.

 “High”, Artist: Morris Louis, 1959

“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: “I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.” (Isaiah 57:15)

You will receive a variety of reactions, most of them negative. You might be rejected, spit at, mocked, arrested, ignored, or beheaded. In today’s western Christianity, people tend to think that a person has evangelized wrong if they receive reactions like that. However you’re doing it wrong if you don’t receive mainly negative reactions. No one likes to be told they are a sinner. No one. Speaking of absolute truth (Jesus as the only way) engenders harsh condemnation in this post-modern world. And speaking of wrath and judgment garners condemnation from fellow ‘Christians’ more often than not, never mind lost people.

If you’re “sharing the love of Jesus” you are sinning, because you are making it comfortable for yourself.

Never underestimate the power of the full Gospel. Occasionally someone has been prepared by the Holy Spirit to hear the message God had sent us to tell. It is the Spirit who prepares hearts and convicts of sin! We share the full message and the Spirit applies it to the heart and mind. The full message is both, wrath and hope. See Got Questions on the subject:

Question: “What is the biblical method of evangelism?”
Answer: When trying to decide how to share Christ with someone, the starting point should be the same as that of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. Matthew 3:2 tells us that John began his ministry with the words “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” Repentance refers to a “change of mind,” which implies sorrow for past offences (2 Corinthians 7:10), a deep sense of the evil of sin as committed against God (Psalm 51:4), and a conscious decision to turn from sin to God. The first words Jesus spoke when He began His public ministry were identical to John’s (Matthew 4:17).

Biblical evangelism – The good news and the bad news

The word “gospel” means “good news.” While many well-meaning Christians begin their evangelistic efforts with the good news of God’s love for mankind, that message is lost on unbelievers who must first come to grips with the extent of the bad news. First, man is separated from a holy, righteous God by sin. Second, God hates sin and is “angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11). Third, death and judgment are inevitable (Hebrews 9:27). Fourth, man is wholly incapable of doing anything about the situation. Until the full extent of this bad news is presented, the good news cannot be effectively communicated.

Read more here, it’s good.

I’ll close with something profound Jerry Bridges said in his book Fearing God. He wrote,

Some years ago, I prayed that God would show me more of His love. He answered that prayer by showing me more of my sin- not just specific sins I’d committed, but the sinfulness of my heart. Then I began to appreciate more His love to me.”

People, preach the full Gospel, bad news first. Yes, tell of the love of Jesus,

“So long as the Christian makes it clear to unbelievers that they have sinned against God and will stand before Him to give an account…”

“So long as the Christian explains to unbelievers the just punishment and consequences for sin (and yes, we must talk about Hell as a place of torment, not merely eternal separation from God)…”

“So long as the Christian doesn’t merely name the name of Jesus, but assures unbelievers of which Jesus he is talking about (not the Jesus of Mormonism, Jehovah’s Witness, Islam, Oprah-ism, or any other kind of “ism”)…” (source)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

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The End Time: Evangelism Part 1 
The End Time: Evangelism Part 3

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Further reading:

Biblical Evangelism

Making Disciples

Watch On-the-Street-Witnessing

Personal Evangelism 101

Posted in evangelism, hospitality

How to be effective Christians, wherever you are

Sometimes when I watch a video of secret churches in Iran or China I feel embarrassed that I am living in comfort and freedom in America, able to worship freely and even apathetically at times. When I read of the persecution of believers in the Middle East I do cry for the loss of such wonderful believers, knowing I owe them a debt. I want to race out and save exploited children in the sex slavery trade, or run off and be a missionary in the Himalayas or something. But that is not what God has laid out for me to do. We can still be effective witnesses and servants of the Gospel even at our boring homes in the waysides of our small town. I believe that an equal debt is owed the mature, steady Christians who week after week, lovingly open their homes to people, who patiently teach the word more accurately, who encourage, who send money on missions and who tithe locally.

I use Priscilla and Aquila for this model. They were two tentmaking colleagues of Paul (Acts 18:1-4) who welcomed Paul in their home and also discipled other believers constantly. They are mentioned six times, in Acts 18:2,18,26; Romans 16:3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19. It is obvious from Paul’s letters that he cherished these two. Now Paul was the fiery missionary, tramping from Greece to Yugoslavia and across seas and oceans on behalf of the Lord. It was an important and big ministry. Yet he valued the ‘little’ and unflashy ministry of the believers at home, the husband and wife duo of Priscilla (Prisca as a nickname) and Aquila who discipled, welcomed, encouraged, and taught quietly. We’re part of a body and we each have different roles. From Apostle to missionary to private, quiet teacher at home, we all make a difference. What struck me about Priscilla and Aquila was that they sought out Apollos, opened their home to him, and began to teach him. They made an effort, extending themselves to another brother. (Acts 18:24-26)

You can do this as well. Hospitality, friendship, and person-to-person teaching (Acts 18:26) is effective and shares His light just as wonderfully as Paul’s fiery zeal and public pronouncements to whole cities. Private evangelism is still evangelism, and the two biblical Christians so valued by Paul show us today what a solid couple in the Lord can do for Jesus. Your home is a gift you can use to further His kingdom.
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