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Posts Tagged ‘Gospel’

In my 22 years of being a Born Again Christ Follower, I have struggled with the fact that there have not been a whole lot of people that I have led to Christ.  This was something I worked out years ago thankfully but then I lost sight of what I had learned.  In reading David Platt’s book “Radical” with a couple guys from my church, the book has helped me to see that again in clarity and I wanted to share with you some of the insights I have gleaned in this area of life.  I will use Romans 1:16,17 as a template of sorts.

I am not Ashamed

There is a war going on within our reality between spiritual forces.  Satan knows his time is coming to a close so he is doing everything in his power to a) keep those who are dead in sin from seeing the light of the gospel, and b) turn those who are children of God away from the light of the gospel.  As such, to those who are in the former category, the gospel is offensive and debilitating.  It is painful and it is blinding.  It is one of the big three that one is not to discuss in polite conversation (the three being politics, religion, and money).  But this can not be the case.  The gospel is meant to be spoken aloud, to those dead in sin, and those walking away from God.  Christ is said to be offensive and a stumbling block.  Therefore, we who live in such a world that demands comfort and instant gratification must understand that we cannot be ashamed of the gospel.  Yes, it will cause trouble.  But this is the norm, not the exception.  Do not be ashamed.

The Gospel

What is the gospel?  This is a tricky issue in today’s American culture.  There are different variations that different people say you must present differently. This is grounds for another blog post to look at in more depth the gospel.  But in short, the gospel is that I, as a human being, am born in sin, dead to sin, and destined for hell apart from God.  I am so dead in my sin that I am not even able to come to God on my own and I reject God to the detriment of my life, physical and spiritual.  But behold! Christ has come to earth to live, die, and be resurrected so that there is a hope that we may be made alive in Him.  We who once were dead in sin now have a way to come to God and be made new, to be born again and to escape the wrath of God.  This is, in short, the Gospel.

The Power of God

This gospel is not an initiative of man.  This is done through the power of God.  This is who we rely on in the gospel.  The salvation God offers us is a free gift, not just something earned.  This is something me must keep at the forefront of our lives, in witnessing and living.  The gospel needs the power of God.

For Salvation to the Jew and Greek

The gospel is not a respecter of nationality, blood, heritage, or culture.  It transcends all of this and is applicable for all.

Revelation

Without the revealed gospel, we would have no way to understand who God is beyond His eternal power and divine nature.  This understanding cannot save.  This can only point us in the right direction.  Unfortunately, we suppress this in our sin dead ways.  We take what God has created and in turn worshiped that.  One of my favorite verses is in Isaiah 44:18-20 where God describes a man who takes a piece of wood, used part of it to make fire, used more of it to make bread, and used the rest to make an idol.  We cannot know God apart from what God has revealed to us.

This is important in my struggle because I used to take the responsibility for persuasion completely on my shoulders in witnessing.  I used to study evolution, Catholicism, carbon 14 dating, biology, history, literary theory, textual criticism, hermeneutics, theology, apologetics, philosophy, and anything else that I thought would help persuade people that God is calling for us to cry out to Him.  And when a finely crafted argument (or so I thought) would fail to bring those to whom I witnessed to Christ, I would become so discouraged that I finally stopped telling people about Christ for a good amount of time.

It is not my job to bring people to Christ.  Christ brings people to Christ.  It is my job to tell the people about the gospel.  Paul did not persuade Agrippa.  But Paul preached to him.  That was his job, not to persuade, but to preach.  And honestly, this is such a blessing, to have Paul’s testimony, for if he couldn’t persuade someone, with all of his learning and skills and authority, then I am comforted.

Take heart.  Keep on preaching the gospel in love and humility, praising God when He allows you to see someone call on the name of His Son Jesus, but not growing discouraged if something visible does not occur.  I Corinthians 3:7 “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.”

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Ephipanies:


Lets start off with the most impacting one so, if you get board and do not finish, you’ll at least have read this.

During the time that I have been a born again believer, I have been interested in missions.  Reading stories of Hudson Taylor and Jim Elliot, I wanted to live their lives (well, Taylors life anyway.)  I have always been interested in stories of men with great faith.  I seemed to find myself in vicinity of people or events where missions were stressed and expounded upon, whether it be a backyard mission field or a field where no man has gone before (leading to my hope that there are indeed aliens on other planets).

Then, around 2005, I realized something tragic.  For everything that was in me and that I had read, learned, and discovered, I had found I had been secretly and unknowingly made American.

What I mean by this is that I came upon and could not answer the question “Why should I go to another land and tell them about Christ?  What makes my way better than ours?  What can Christ do for them?”

Please, do not mock nor slam me.  I had gone off the reservation so to speak.  I had immersed myself willingly and fully into the culture in which I lived while still holding onto Jesus.  The stretch was killing me.  I was trying to hold onto a God who abhord sin with one hand while lauding the sin with the other hand.  I feel like (and I’ll prob get flak for this as well, one way or the other) this all culminated with watching the movie “Kick-Ass” and “The Hangover”.  I had, as Stephen King puts it, “forgotten the face of my Father”.

Then something marvelous happened.  It was a month or so after I had left a girl I had been close to.  I was depressed and walking down a storefront sidewalk, just wishing that somehow I would disintegrate into nothingness.  I looked up for a rare moment and saw a guy around my age walking towards me.  I put my head back down and switched to the side of the walk he wasn’t on.  As I did so, I noticed him doing the same so we would have no choice but to do that awkward dance where you have to avoid running into someone.  (in my naivety, I probably could have been setting myself up quite easily for getting mugged.  Thankfully I’m a pretty big guy so it’s less likely but still a concern).  I make to move again and he stops me with a look  “Hey man, can I ask you a question?”

Usually I’m one of the best when it comes to ignoring vendors and hawkers.  But I was out of my element and I nodded.  “Sure”

The conversation that ensued was something I vaguely remember but its more of the point, not the actual conversation.  He asked me what I believed.  I told him he needn’t worry, I was saved.  If it were me, I would have smiled, said congrats, and walked away.  But this guy had the nerve (and the Holy Spirit) to keep up the convo.  “Can I ask you then, what did Christ do when he died on the cross?”

Now, if you know me, one of my life goals is to know everything.  Well, it was anyway but that’s a different paragraph.  So, I laid out a pretty decent three point argument as to why Christ had to die.  I went back to why He came to Earth, to show that we might have truth and that the truth would set us free.  Then I went to talk about another aspect…and he stopped me.  “Dude, its pretty simple” he said with a smile that was meant to teach, not scold.  “He died so that we don’t have to.  I’ll be praying for you.”

I have a lot of bible knowledge.  I know the stories from Ehud to that guy that Paul raised from the dead when one of his sermons got really boring and he fell from the window.  I had grown up reading about Gideon, Elijah and Elisha, and Manessah.  I even knew about that Tubal-Cain guy who made the awesome swords before Tim Lahaye wrote about him (in that cancelled Babylon rising series that I didn’t read…ok, I read them but they weren’t good.  Just kinda interesting.  Whatever, stop judging).  But as I stood there, I realized, I had no idea why Jesus came to die.  Not really.  I had an idea but I couldn’t even tell this punk kid who thought he could evangelize to me.

So I started looking into how to evangelize better.  I signed up with a program in my church to share the gospel with people in the area.  Back yard evangelism at its greatest.  I wasn’t very good.  I had always chalked it up to evangelism not being one of my gifts (not realizing that it wasn’t a gift, it was a command) but now I was determined to be get this witnessing thing down pat.  (I havn’t and I’m praying God would help me with witnessing when I need to because I really am no good at it still).

But as I studied with the group, I kept hearing how it was based on how to get to be with God for eternity and escape hell.  So I pulled back and thought about it.  OK, so Christ died so we could escape hell?  This sounds…manipulative.  So why did Christ die?  So we could be with Him?  What if they don’t want to be with Him?  Then what?  What is the gospel?

The more I looked at it, the more I felt that it was “Accept Christ and your life becomes a whole lot better, physically, spiritually, and relationally.  You probably wont get richer but it’ll be a good life here. (note: my church was not preaching the prosperity gospel, I was just not putting two and two together yet, just listening to pop culture Christianity and not truth).

Then it happened.  I must have read a million pages, listened to several different pastors, watched humanity for so many years when it finally clicked.

Man is born into sin.  Its not a thing where if you live perfectly, you’ll make it.  Its something that taints you from conception.  Because of this sin, positional and active, we deserve hell.  But here’s what happened.  Jesus loved the world/loved the elect and thus died in our place.  Now all we have to do is accept/be called and accept the gift of grace God extends to us.  If we accept, we will have a hope that we will be with God forever in a place our hearts long for.  We will see that, though we face trouble and tribulation, it will be made for good in us in the end and will help us to glorify God more.  If we do not accept, we will live a meaningless troubled life here on earth and spend the rest of eternity in hell.  This culminates in answering the American question.  Those in China (or other lands) do not need to hear of Jesus because they need to be westernized or made to fit in our culture.  They need Him because they are dying and have no idea without us telling them.  (I’m speaking in general terms regarding their inability to hear of Christ because the Chinese church is blossoming under persecution and making headlines at least in America).

If this sounds like something you knew and were not in the dark about, awesome.  I am happy for you.  This is for those like me who have lost the simplicity and truth of the gospel.  This is why we must continually teach ourselves the gospel.  So we do not forget it.

 

Starkiller:

Here is where you can veer off my page.  The rest is just because I havn’t written in a while.

I was in Blockbuster the other day and saw Star Wars Force Unleashed II for $10.  Now, I played the first one halfway through and got aggravated.  But I was hoping that this would be a little better and for ten dollars who cared.  So I bought it.  Who doesn’t love taking down baddies with a lightsaber?  So I started around 6 at night Saturday.  I was playing and around 1:30 or so in the morning I beat it.  I had to do a double take.  There were a total of 2 full worlds.  You start at Kamino, got to a cool planet that I forget the name of (Tantooine?) run to Dagobah (which isn’t even a real level), get onto a ship that goes back into orbit around Kamino, and then go down to Kamino (déjà vu much?).  Very round robin of them.  You get to fight a small contingent of baddies (the empire  must have killed everything else).  In fact, I feel like there are more combo moves than there are variations of bad guys.  Maybe.  I don’t feel like checking that out.  There is the traditional Dark side, light side choice at the end (which totally throws off the whole progression of the game cuz your really not having to choose whether or not your sith or jedi) and a nice little cut scene for each. So all in all, while I do enjoy watching armless stormtroopers fall to the ground, it gets repetitive (making me glad I chose easy setting).  All in all I give it 2 out of five stars (not one because I almost had fun playing it).

Allright, too many parentheses.  My bad.

 

Packer:

I just finished a book by J.I. Packer called “Knowing God” (part of my recent desire to learn more about the gospel).  Thing is I have been working on it for about a couple months now.  Non fiction has never been an easy read because I have to remember what I’m actually reading more than this happened and that happened so it always takes a bit longer.  It was excellent.  I might actually do a blog about it soon (hopefully with less time between than this and last post).  Packer broke it up into three sections.  Why we need to know about God, What we need to know about God, and How knowing about God can work in our lives.  All is well written and well laid out.  It’s also interesting as it was written during the 70’s and is still relevant today.  One of those books.

 

Bronte:

I know, I know, there is supposed to be an umlat over the e.  well, draw it in yourself.  I’m too lazy right now to put it in.  Last year, I saw an amazing production of Wuthering Heights by masterpiece theater with Tom Hardy and some girl who divorced her husband for Tom (ironic).  I loved the movie though and decided to read the book.  Unfortunatly, I decided to read it while I was reading Packer’s book, a book by CS Lewis, a spy novel, some computer books, and a Joshua Harris book (not I Kissed Dating Goodbye…ok, it was but I was curious.  Don’t judge).  Anyway, it took me a while to read.  It was an easy read despite what I had heard though.  And I felt proud of myself cuz I was picking up on things I usually wouldn’t, like symbols, and foils and the such.  Its funny too because out of the whole book, the only happy part is the last page or so.  Just a warning.  (I had read the notebook in between (please don’t judge (I seem to be saying that a lot lately)) and thought it to be a sad book for how it ended but it was nothing compared).  I liked how it portrayed the Hollywood love for what it really leads to- betrayal and misery.  Honestly, she left you.  You’ll meet someone else.  Don’t ruin her family because of that.  I did find the novel a little under populated.  You would have thought everyone in England was either watching Charlotte’s Rochester’s house burn down or Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet dancing around a heavy mass of sexual tension (im very proud of this sentence).

 

Steve Jobs:

In the days after Mr Job’s passing, I kept hearing how he will be missed for what he has given to Earth.  I feel like Apple did it best when they actually mourned him for himself.  I heard some friends talking about his death and how, even after all he had done, and all he had produced, he was still standing before God with only his acceptance/denial of Christ (not sure which one as I don’t really know anything about his views on God).  They said he couldn’t bring all the things he had made with him.  To which I replied “There’s no app for that.”  Probably too soon and a little uncaring but it was still a thought.  Anyway, point is, this reminds us of the urgency with which we need to share the gospel with unbelievers because we don’t know how much time we do have left.

 

If you have made it to the end of this post, I congratulate you.  It was long writing though it has been long over due, and I really don’t proofread my work (so have fun with that).  Hopefully you all have a little more desire to share the gospel, not because America is better, but because they need to hear it with an urgency that is born of the brevity of life.

 

Peace,

Bill

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