Flashback Friday: Full Bellies — Starving For Truth

Originally published February 23, 2016:

At The Cross“No one wants to hear about God’s wrath,” the young pastor explained to my friend. Then he added, “We help the poor in our community as a demonstration of His love.”

Look, I have nothing against helping the poor. In fact, if more  churches provided such services, less of us would be forced to rely on government programs. So as you read this essay, please don’t misunderstand me as saying that Christians shouldn’t care for the needs of those less fortunate than themselves. Yet I believe we must keep practical ministry secondary to our primary commission to declare the Gospel.

And whether we like it or not, declaring the Gospel first necessitates telling people that they’re sinners who deserve God’s wrath. I agree with the young pastor that no one enjoys hearing about their sin, nor do they like being confronted with the fact that their sin consigns them to an eternity in hell. And Christians don’t relish the duty of proclaiming that part of the Gospel message, if you want to know the truth.

But, dear sisters in the Lord, we don’t get to pick and choose what aspects of the Gospel we present in our evangelism. As ambassadors of Christ, we bear the responsibility to tell people the Gospel in its entirety, aware that we represent Him rather than ourselves.

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~~2 Corinthians 5:18-21 (ESV)

If we offer a message of reconciliation to God, we must begin by helping people understand that such a reconciliation indeed needs to take place. Most non-Christians and Christians-in-name-only simply don’t believe that God takes their sin seriously enough to send them to hell. They may admit that they’ve done some bad things here and there, but they reassure themselves that the good they’ve done outweighs the bad. Consequently, all our talk about Jesus showing His love by dying in their place strikes them as absurd until we show them that they’ve offended a holy God.

The beauty of God’s love shines through the fact that Jesus willingly shed His blood on the cross, bearing His Father’s fury over the sin that you and I committed. That act, more than anything else, epitomizes His love.

It’s wonderful when churches run soup kitchens and pregnancy resource centers. And praise God for missionaries who dig wells and build orphanages. But when people deliberately repress part of the Gospel in order to attract people to their services, they no longer represent the Lord. Leave humanitarian work to secular agencies unless you do it in a way that offers people the eternal hope of Jesus Christ.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

The Essence Of Spiritual Warfare

Sword

Standing for truth, in an increasing number of evangelical churches, means that we cause division.

Yet Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament epistles, saw division very differently than 21st Century evangelicals see it. Consider this quote:

Paul regards divisiveness as those who depart from sound doctrine. Doctrine is not the cause of disunity, departure is. ~Carl Trueman

Responsible reading (not to mention study) of Paul’s epistles bear out Trueman’s point. The apostle wrote several of his epistles (most of them, actually) with the purpose of clearing up doctrinal error and preserving correct teaching. As a matter of fact, he drew an interesting correlation between refuting false teaching and Continue reading

Jesus Asks Us To Do It

I don’t claim to be gifted in evangelism. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty lousy at doing it face-to-face. I feel comfortable with just about every other command in Scripture, but I see my shortcomings whenever someone reminds me that God has me here for no other reason than to proclaim the Gospel.

And my pastor issues such reminders in almost every Sunday sermon.

But I praise God for these uncomfortable reminders because I live in a world of lost souls who desperately need to hear that Jesus died for those who would believe in Him. Whether hearing the Gospel leads them to saving faith or confirms their hardness against Him, the Lord asks His servants to declare the message. So as long as I live, I face an unfinished task.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

We’re Only Channels, Not The Flow Of Water Itself

As a young Christian, I’d daily arm myself with Christian tracts and charge out to evangelize the toughest kids on the high school campus.You know, the kids that scared my Christian friends half to death. Looking back, I realize how vulnerable I was in my little wheelchair, but at the time I knew no fear!

One day my less courageous (read: more sensible) friend asked me why I went out to those particular kids. Borrowing a popular motto from that era, I self-righteously replied, “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done!”

The salvation of Terra Linda High students depended on me.

Since then, I’ve repented of my pride. Yes, the Lord calls me to declare His Gospel as faithfully as I can. Just as surely as He ordains the elect to be saved, He ordains evangelism as the means of saving the elect. We are the channels through which the living waters of the Holy Spirit flow.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that we are channels only. We want to do great things for the Lord and to enjoy recognition for our fearless ministry. But the Lord wants us to serve Him in humility, praising Him for the privilege of having His Holy Spirit work through empty channels like us!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

What Can I Say About The Gospel That Hasn’t Already Been Said?

cfce9-crossofresurectionLately, evangelicals have been telling us that social justice is a “Gospel issue.” A recent comment on one of my blog posts suggested that the Gospel teaches us to have unity despite theological differences (a point worthy of its own article). These sentiments, as well as similar sentiments I’ve heard throughout the years,  prompt me to think that we need periodic reminders of what the Gospel actually is.

Most of you may decide not to read this article. Why waste time reading about something so basic? Do I have new insights into the Gospel? Perhaps a fresh take on it? Can I present it in a creative manner that Continue reading

It Doesn’t Matter Whether Or Not They Accept God’s Word

Untitled-1This past weekend, John and I listened to the debate between Jeff Durbin and Andy Stanley on the necessity of embracing the Old Testament. In reality, the true question revolved around the authority of Scripture. Stanley believes that we cannot effectively evangelize millennials by appealing to the Bible as the standard for truth. Rather, he grounds our authority in Christ’s resurrection, believing that Scripture derives its authority from that singular event.

Honestly, some of his attempts at logic made John want to scream and made me want to bang my head against the refrigerator.

But l don’t want to spend this blog post analyzing the debate. I don’t even want to write about the various Continue reading

Flashback Friday: End Times Or Not — It’s Time

Originally posted February 26, 2016:

The world spirals more and more into chaos. Although Christians in every generation have believed Jesus would return in their lifetimes, current events suggest to me that He may come within the next few decades. Don’t interpret that statement as a prophecy, however. I claim neither prophetic powers nor a clear understanding of eschatology.

Having made my disclaimer, permit me to make my main point. Regardless of whether the Lord returns before I publish this post or comes 2000 years from now, I see an urgency for Christians to proclaim the Gospel! Yes, I believe the Bible teaches the doctrine of election, but I also believe Continue reading