Has Anybody Seen The Opportunity That I Misplaced?

Dark WisdomSo John came into the bedroom with his laptop, offering to let me dictate a blog post to him. (I am a blessed woman!) As soon as he opened it, all my brilliant ideas fluttered out of my head and refused to be retrieved. Consequently, I lie here feeling frustrated and disappointed that I can’t fully take advantage of this opportunity.

I hate missed opportunities. I especially hate having an opportunity to share the Gospel, only to sit there with the words rumbling around in my throat and not coming out of my mouth. Until recently, I would fear that the person would spend eternity in hell because I failed to tell him or her about Jesus.

Certainly, Christians have a responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to whomever we can. God has ordained evangelism as the means of bringing people to salvation. Furthermore, a failure to speak on His behalf constitutes disobedience on our part.

That said, none of us should presume to think that a person’s salvation depends solely on our obedience. If somebody is elect, He will be faithful to make sure that the person hears and responds to His Word. Trusting His sovereignty relieves us of believing that we have responsibility for a person’s eternal destiny.

So should we feel guilty if we miss (or neglect) opportunities to present the Gospel to others? Yes and no.

Any disobedience should cause us to feel guilt. Christ has blessed us in abundance with salvation and the hope of eternity with Him! The grace He has given us should motivate us to obey all of His commands, including the command to go into all the world and make disciples, teaching them everything He has taught us. Our silence is a sin against His grace.

At the same time, we should not sin by presuming that we are ultimately responsible for anyone’s salvation. Heavenly days, we can’t even take credit for our own salvation – what makes us think that we can effect salvation in somebody else’s heart? Do we really think that the Lord is totally dependent on whether or not we share the Gospel?

Please.

We must remember that all of His elect will come to salvation regardless of our obedience to witness. He has determined who will enter His Kingdom, and our disobedience (even though it is sinful) isn’t strong enough to sabotage His will.

Lost opportunities indeed frustrate and disappoint us, especially when those opportunities involve bringing the Gospel to people who need Christ. But when we lose opportunities, we need to remember that God hasn’t lost His control. He knows who belong to Him, and He will save those people regardless of our actions. Rest in this assurance.

*Thanks to John for typing this post at my dictation.

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Saturday Sampler: December 9 — December 15

Snowmen Sampler

So often, Leslie A writes things in Growing 4 Life that make me want to jump out of my wheelchair, do a happy dance and shout “YES!” at the top of my lungs. To see a blog post that gives me such a giddy reaction, read Is There More Than One Way to Interpret Scripture?

Speaking of posts that resonate with me, go over to Possessing the Treasure and read The Believer’s Supreme Act of Spiritual Worship by Mike Ratliff. He accurately diagnosis major problems among evangelicals and prescribes the remedy.

Elizabeth Prata also has me ready to do a happy dance because of her essay, Another good reason to develop discernment, which appears in The End Time. It’s incredibly refreshing when a well-known discernment blogger writes an article like this! But my poor wheelchair is beginning to look awfully empty!

One of the reasons I love living near Boston is its rich literary history. Several years ago, John took me to Longfellow’s house in Cambridge to celebrate my birthday. So I appreciate Barry York’s A Lesson Learned in Longfellow’s Home in Gentle Reformation. I don’t know if Longfellow truly knew Christ,  but the poem still has tremendous power.

The lady who blogs at Biblical Beginnings writes Movie Review — Polycarp. After reading her review, I got my husband to pull this movie up on Amazon Prime. Except for the hokey lighting behind Polycarp’s  head during one of his prayers, it’s an excellent film. And as we see persecution approach Christians in the United States, this movie offers wonderful encouragement.

Having a range of personal struggles and sorrow over the death of my former prayer partner, I appreciate Jessica Jenkins’ When Christmas Doesn’t Feel Merry in Biblical Woman this week. If you’re hurting, please make time to read this piece.

Allen Nelson IV, writing for Things Above Us, shows us How Not to Be a Heretic this Christmas as we contemplate the Incarnation. Don’t miss this short but comprehensive look at five common errors in understanding Christ as 100% God and 100% Man.

Do you need 5 Reasons To Read The Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing? Then Stephen Altrogge’s blog post in The Blazing Center is perfect for you!

 

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It’s Okay To Argue From Scripture

Powerful WordConventional wisdom tells us that successful evangelism requires building a case for the Gospel apart from the Bible. Arguing from history, archaeology and science can substantiate Scripture’s claims, thereby convincing people of its veracity. And certainly history, archaeology and science does support God’s Word.

The problem with relying on disciplines outside of the Bible to defend Christianity, however, lies in the implicit (even if unintended) assumption that something outside the Bible has greater authority than the Bible itself. Even though non-Christians do regard these disciplines as more authoritative, when we Continue reading

Saturday Sampler: November 25 — December 1

Pointilized Heart Sampler

Maybe Mike Ratliff doesn’t say anything remarkably novel in his blog post, Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? for Possessing the Treasure, but his point really can’t be overstated. Current trends in evangelicalism must never eclipse the authority of the Bible.

Be honest: reading the Bible every day can get tiring. Thankfully, Ryan Higginbottom of  Knowable Word thinks of several ways that Reading the Bible for the Ten Thousandth Time can regain its freshness.

In response to the latest ridiculous Twitter pronouncement by Rachel Held Evans, Nick Batzig posts Jesus and Racial Bias in Reformation 21. I like the way Nick appeals to normative hermeneutics in order to demonstrate proper understanding of a Scriptural text.

A friend whom I highly respect has raised legitimate questions about the methods John Chau used in his evangelistic efforts to minister to an unreached tribe off the coast of India. Although I don’t wish to dismiss her concerns, Jordan Standridge’s 10 Lessons From The Death of John Chau makes extremely important points that all Christians absolutely must consider. You’ll find his article in The Cripplegate.

Check out Parking Space 23 for John Chester’s Reprise: So You Think You Are a Red Letter Christian? Even those of us who claim to believe the entire Bible has uniform authority might find his article to be a little convicting.

I appreciate the thoughtfully written John Allen Chau’s death stuns, angers, and perplexes the world, which Elizabeth Prata posts on The End Time. She evaluates the situation honestly, doing her best to cover all angles of the story. I especially love the hope she expresses as she closes this essay.

Leslie A insists that There’s More to Christianity Than Doing Good Works in an article for Growing 4 Life. Beginning with her brother’s interesting observation on the inoffensive nature of social justice, she discusses the mission we have as Christians — including the ramifications of carrying out that mission.

Think Catholicism has more in common with Protestant denominations than differences? Pope Francis would have you think so! Leonardo De Chirico of The Vatican Files chronicles the pope’s life-long devotion to Mary in 156. She is My Mamá — Pope Francis and Mary to show that the pontiff refuses to separate Christ from Mary.

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If I Must Be Born Again, How Do I Manage It?

IMG_0356As a young Christian,  I had a zeal for evangelism. Not a talent for it, mind you, and not the best motives, but certainly the burning conviction that everybody needed to be born again. So I’d drive my motorized wheelchair all over my high school campus, passing out tracts and telling people they must be born again.

I frequently referred to John 3:1-8 as substantiation for my message. That indeed is the appropriate passage.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” ~~John 3:1-8 (ESV)

Actually, I ignored verses 5, 6 and 8 because I just plain didn’t understand them! Anyway, I wanted to emphasize the apparent command to be born again. I demanded that people repent of sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to escape eternal hell. In my overly simplistic mind, accepting Jesus and living for Him caused someone to be born again.

My misinterpretation of the words “must be” created the problem, both in understanding the concept for myself and in presenting the Gospel to others. By separating those two words from their context, I emphasized human responsibility over the prerogative of the Holy Spirit.

Being born again isn’t a human accomplishment; it’s the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit. on those He wills to save. In fact, the words of the apostle John two chapters earlier help clarify that very point.

12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. ~~John 1:12-13 (ESV)

Notice verse 13, please.  Although the acts of receiving Him and believing in His name are involved in becoming children of God (verse 12), the spiritual birth results from God’s will, not human will or effort.

Jesus taught Nicodemus that, though being born again is an essential requisite to  entering the kingdom of God, it isn’t something we do ourselves. As John MacArthur has explained numerous times, we played no part in our physical births, so what makes us think that we could possibly have anything to do with our spiritual ones?

Yes, Jesus said we must be born again. Like a child must be a certain height and weight to ride in a car without a booster seat. Like you have to be 18 to register as a voter. You can’t reach those conditions through your own efforts, but those conditions must be met. Although we must be born again, that rebirth happens through the work of the Holy Spirit.

I still have evangelism as a high priority, even if I do it better online than in person. I also still want people to know that they must be born again. Now, however, I understand what it means and how it happens. That understanding makes a huge difference!

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Saturday Sampler: November 18 — November 24

Reflecting Balls Sampler

I’m not going to tell you why Clint Archer contributes Moths & Roaches: Responding to the Light to The Cripplegate this week. I want your curiosity to bug you until you read it.

Those of us who lean to the right politically should pay attention to Tim Bates’ Judge the Left Rightly in Things Above Us. He masterfully helps us subjugate our political affinities to the authority of Scripture.

Pyromaniacs features Hohn Cho’s insightful post, Voting and the 2018 Elections. Okay, it’s lengthy (even by Pyromaniacs standards). But he makes several important points that Christians need to contemplate. A few of his thoughts might even offer you some refreshment and encouragement.

As part of a series he’s writing for Abounding Grace Radio, R. Scott Clark discusses the Canons of Dort (5): God Ordains Means To Call His Elect. As a Reformed Baptist, I would add only that God’s means also includes personal  evangelism, a task that every believer should perform. Other than that amendment, I completely agree with Clark.

Writing from Australia (which legalized same sex marriage only last year), Stephen McAlpine shows us the rapid fallout Australian Christians now face. I’m the bad guy? How did that happen? chronicles the increasing persecution to people who dare to stand for a  Biblical view of human sexuality. I wonder, reading his words, if American Christians have become desensitized to the sexual revolution.

For a truly helpful explanation of baptism, see Tom’s post, RE-baptized??? What’s that all about? on excatholic4christ.

Please read Elizabeth Prata’s Movie Review – American Gospel: Christ Alone in The End Time. I haven’t watched the movie yet, but Elizabeth’s review gives me the extra nudge I need. See what you think.

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Saturday Sampler: November 11 — November 17

Colored Swirls

As Christians, we are Aliens and exiles in this lost and dying world, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Mike Ratliff explains this status in Possessing the Treasure.

Fascinated by the prophecy of Scripture, Elizabeth Prata named her blog The End Time. She writes Praises for prophecy, higher praises for the One who ordains it as a tribute to God’s amazing sovereignty. Who says doctrine can’t inspire worship?

Coming from a church in California that, despite its doctrinal flaws, taught Tuesday night Bible Studies directly from the Bible, I felt perplexed when I moved to Massachusetts and joined a women’s Bible Study that used DVDs and a workbook. So I appreciate Michelle Lesley for her firm stand in The Mailbag: “We need to stop relying on canned studies,” doesn’t mean, “We need to rely on doctrinally sound canned studies.” Her passionate appeal should get our attention!

Writing for Knowable Word, Ryan Higginbottom outlines Three Important Contexts for Bible Study that we really need to understand.You’ll find these contexts useful in working through God’s Word.

Reformation 21 runs Revoice, or God’s Voice? by Harry Reeder, reviewing this past summer’s Revoice Conference for LBGTQ Christians. His Biblical response to the conference reminds us to use discernment in evaluating evangelical trends, especially when those trends claim to align with traditional Christian teaching.

How do you respond when your brothers and sisters in Christ suffer?  Erin Benziger of Do Not Be Surprised discusses our responsibility in such situations by writing Sibling Status Means Something. I love Erin’s ability to reason from Scripture.

In an article for  The Ethics & Religious Liberties Commission, Andrew T. Walker shows us a real life example of why Cultural winsomeness will not be enough for Christians with the story of Isabella Chow. What happened to this brave young lady underscores my reason for starting this blog, so I implore you to read it.

As usual, Leslie A uses her Growing 4 Life blog to bring a challenge that shakes the soul.  Actually, I love her blog for that  very reason! My Way or His Way? may not be the most comfortable item you’ve ever read (I’m definitely squirming), but I think each one of us needs to seriously consider what she has to say.

Don’t Apologize For The Bible counsels Jim Essian in For The Church. He acknowledges that our culture pressures us to feel guilty about Biblical positions that contradict political correctness, but he explains how to see the beauty in those positions.

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