Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Way of the Master Class

We are taking a class at church called The Way Of The Master. It is a workbook with homework and a half hour of video every week done by Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron (yeah the actor from the old show Growing Pains). I wanted to write a blog about what I am learning and the approach they teach to evangelism. I am half way through the 8 week class so I am sure I will learn more and am very excited about it because I have learned so much so far. If you want to check it out there are some videos on their website here:

So would you say you're a good person? Yes? Ok. Well lets see how you hold up to God's standard. Have you kept the Ten Commandments? You say for the most part you have? Ok. Well let me ask you, have you ever told a lie? Even if it was just a small one. You have? Well if I told you a lie what would you call me? That's right, a liar. Have you ever stolen anything? Even if it was something small as a kid. You have? Well if I stole something from you what would you call me? Thats right, a thief. Ever look at someone of the other sex lustfully? Because Jesus said to look at someone with lust is to commit adultery. You have done this? Ok, well we have looked at just three of the commandments and you have admitted to me that you are a lying adultering thief. So on the day of judgement when you stand in front of God will you be innocent or guilty. You are guilty. So what will you say? Oh, that God is a forgiving God and will send you to Heaven anyway? Well that's not really fair if you think about it. Lets say you were convicted of robbing a bank and when you went to trial you said to the judge, well I am a good person and I only messed up this one time, and you seem like a forgiving judge so can I just go? Would that work? Of course it wouldn't, you broke the law and have to be punished for it, and if he is an honest, fair, and just judge you're going to be punished. Now with that being said, God is a just, fair and honest judge, so where will you go when you die being guilty of these offenses against God? The truth is, you will go to hell.

But there is good news for you. Imagine you are standing before that judge, your fine for robbing that bank is a million dollars and if you can't pay it you are going to be put in jail for a looooong time. Well you don't have anywhere near a million dollars, so you're in trouble. Well out of nowhere comes someone you don't even know that says judge, you can release this person, I am going to pay the million dollars they could never pay. Just like that you're a free man because someone paid what you could not. That is what God did for you. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to pay a penalty that you could never pay. He paid it with His life, and if He hadn't done this you would be sent to hell where you belong. This is not a universal salvation to all though, if you want this gift then you better repent of the sins you are guilty of, read your Bible regularly (daily) and obey all it says. I tell you this because I may not know you, but I care for you and don't want you to go to hell. You don't have to make a decision, but think about what we talked about.

That is an example of the witnessing they teach in this class, and I love it because it's to the point and biblical. It does something so many people are afraid of doing these days, and that's showing that people are sinners that are in need of a Savior. We don't teach that like we should these days, rather we try to get people to come to church and a relationship with Christ out of the notion of what Jesus can do for them. The benefits He can offer, rather then the fact that they need Him to avoid eternal separation from Him in a place of everlasting darkness and torment. I am sorry for being frank but that is what hell is, and if you don't believe in hell, well that doesn't make it nonexistent. Hell is a literal place that many people are going to according to scripture. Take a guess who talked and preached about hell more then anyone in the bible. It was Jesus. Doesn't really fit the fluffy image that so many want to give Him.

Many people wanna do the building relationship evangelism, and it does work at times, but is flawed just as many times. Let me explain, who are the hardest people to witness to? I would, as would most people, have to say family and close friends. We don't want to bring up the gospel message for fear that we may turn them off, or offend them, or push them away from us. Right? So we get to be friends with someone and get close to them, yeah we may invite them to church casually here and there or mention church every once in a while, but we have a hard time coming out of our box and presenting their need for Jesus and the salvation that only comes from Him. You guys know what I am saying. So if you witness to people on the street, they get offended by the message and leave, what have you lost? The truth is the true gospel message is offensive to many, people don't wanna admit they are sinners and sinful people in need of salvation. Pride runs rampant and humility is rare in these post-modern times.

We also wanna convince people to "come to God" because He will make their lives so much better. Kirk Cameron told a story on this that I just love. It goes like this: There was a person who was gonna take a flight and his stewardess came up to him and said to put on this parachute because it will make the flight much better. So the man does this, but shortly in the flight the parachute is poking him in the back, he is way uncomfortable, and the other passengers are pointing and laughing at him. He puts up with it for a little while but as the uncomfortable seating and ridicule gets worse he finally takes it off and puts it at his feet. That stewardess had told him that wearing that parachute would improve his flight yet it did exactly the opposite as he saw it. So another guy is getting on a flight and his stewardess tells him that he needs to wear this parachute because the engines are weak and they could crash at any time. Well the guy puts on the parachute and even though its a bit uncomfortable and some of the other passengers are mocking him quietly, he endures because he thinks at any time that plane may go down and he wants to be prepared. He doesn't mind the uncomfort or the ridicule, for he knows that parachute is his savior. We need to realize that we are going to die, and that we are either going to go to hell or we are gonna have to put on Christ and enjoy eternity with Him in paradise. It's not about putting Christ on for a better quality of life as we are so often told these days, but about putting Him on so that we may spend eternity with Him. We are gonna have discomfort, be mocked and ridiculed, and have trials in life even though we are Christians. Our pastor once said it's not a matter of if trials are gonna come, it's when are they gonna come.

I have to go now but will try to follow this up in the next few days with a few examples in the gospels of how Jesus evangelized. I hope this made sense and you got out of it what I am in taking this class. Now notice in my mock conversation above that I did not tell them they had to say this sinners prayer and all is well. I told them to think on what we talked about. We have to be the laborers, but it is God who does the work in the hearts of the people. I will address this more later, but understand that all we can do is present the good news and the Word, God is the one who works in people.

I pray we all learned something from this and am thankful for people out there like Ray and Kirk who teach practical and biblical ways to present Your message God. May we go into all the world and spread the Word of You and Your Son as You have commanded us. May we rejoice in Your Sovereign work in peoples hearts who bring them to You for Your glory. We will plant, but ask that You grow God. Let us labor in love for Christs names sake.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

God's Perfect Preservation of His Word

We live in a time that is busy busy busy. Cell phones, laptops, many kids and many activities for each. Anyone agree it's easy for time to get away from us and it's real easy to forget the little things that happen to us each day. Now has anyone else had problems sleeping before because something big, momentous or even stressful happening that day? I know I sure have, laying there pondering the situation, thinking of every what could or should have been.

Every time I reflect on the life of Christ I am amazed at how perfect everything falls into place at every turn. God is amazing as are His ways, just think if Christ had come now instead of two thousand years ago. We do not keep facts straight, we forget so much and never find time to slow down and look at the big picture. Not the case in the time of Christ. He came at the perfect time of course according to prophecy, and as far as the pace of the time. Imagine being called as one of the 12 disciples, being taught in private and public by the Messiah for three and a half years, their seminary time, so to speak, in which the heard saw and did many miraculous things. Imagine laying down at night to sleep in the same place with your teacher Jesus Christ after hearing a great sermon like the sermon on the mount (Matthew chapter 5-7). Was there small talk among you, or was every one exhausted and just laying there pondering the truth and magnitude of what they heard that day from the Teacher, and realizing this is no normal Man, before they fell asleep. Imagine for a minute being one of the disciples and after hearing such great teachings...whats going through your mind? Is it the teachings? The magnitude of realizing this Teacher is the One true Son of God as he claims? Or are you a Judas Iscariot thinking about only yourself? I hope not that one.

God picked a people and time that had ready men, regular ol men too, fishermen and a tax collector, that were not wrapped up in the hustle and bustle life like so many of us do now with the technology and gadgets we have today. All the sports and other eternally useless things we fill our lives with nowadays. Not that these things are bad, don't get me wrong, I personally like being busy, but it can hinder our walks and relationship with God if we concentrate more on them and less on God. I am merely trying to point out how in the time God chose the pace and people were ready. The disciples had time to listen to God. To walk with God. To realize it was God that was teaching and to store away the facts and teachings that God gave them to deliver to the people of their day as well as us and many more. Now they did not do it alone , the word they recorded was written by their hand but God was there. He inspired their thoughts and recollections and He made sure their writings reflected exactly what He wanted it to, for it is His Word. The Bible is full of accurrate history because it is His-story. What a honor to write some parchments that end up being the inspired written word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) Thank you John. Thank you Paul. Thank you James, Peter, Jude, and most importantly, Thank you God.

I have been called a idiotic fundamentalist for this view of scripture. But if the Bible is written by just men, not God, then it's no better then any other religious book out there. If it is in error anywhere then it's not God's word and needs dismissed and thrown away. But the fact is that it is inerrant and perfect. Thank you God for a manual that teaches us how to live and gives us absolute truth in a world of doubt. Thank you for picking the right men for the job and inspiring them to write an account of your Son and early church. May we read it and live it and obey it daily in our walk with You.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jesus is NOT your homeboy!

Wow, first I wanna say to my two readers I am sorry for being away from my blog. Kids and work and life in general makes the time just slip away. But I have still been studying God's awesome word and have much I wanna blog on if I can keep finding time. So what do you think of the title of this post? I hope it captured your attention and makes you read on wondering what the heck I mean. This will reflect a little from a sermon John Macarthur did titled "The Forgotten Side Of God" with of course my own opinions and thoughts in it as well.

First I wanna pose a question to you: Where in the Bible does it say or elude to Jesus laughing? The truth of the matter is, it doesn't. Yeah I know, that's pretty amazing. It does say in John 11:35 Jesus wept. (That by the way is the shortest verse in the Bible) But no where in scripture will you find Jesus laughing. Now I will not claim nor want to imply that Jesus never laughed, I merely want to point out that the Holy Spirit never inspired any of the new testament writers to record such an instance. I am sure Jesus laughed with His disciples and followers, but still, we couldn't get just one instance of this recorded in the Holy Scriptures? This is just something I want you to think about as I write the rest of this post.

So when we die, if we are true followers and believers in Christ, are we just gonna roll up into Heaven and high five Jesus, say something like what's up bro, or how's it kickin? I don't think so. Look at John (who happens to be the "beloved disciple" ) in Revelation 1:17-18 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, "Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. Wait, the beloved disciple saw Jesus and fell like a dead man? Do you guys see your friends and homeboys and fall at their feet like you were a dead man? Of course you don't. Society loves to make shirts, hats and whatever else to make Jesus out to be this cool hip pacifist that just wants to be our homies and hang with us. We have lost sight of God's greatest attribute. He is Holy!

Remember back in Exodus where Moses is just walking along and sees a burning bush? Exodus 3:1-6 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. And Moses said, "I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned." When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, "Moses, Moses!" And he said, "Here I am." Then he said, "Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground." And he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. Look at that, God told Moses to remove His sandals because he was standing on Holy ground. Why was the ground Holy? Because God was there. God is Holy. You will see that illustrated constantly throughout the entire Bible. Moses also in this incident hid his face from God. God is so Holy Moses didn't even want to look at Him in the bush.

Revelation 4:8 And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!"
Isaiah 6:2 In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
"Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!"

Look at these two scriptures and you will notice they are very similar. John had one vision and Isaiah had the other and they are describing the Seraphim angels that circle the throne of God constantly crying out Gods greatest attribute which as I mentioned before is Holiness. Look at Isaiah's vision description though. Notice the similarities to the Exodus passage with Moses we just looked at? The seraphim (which are "high-ranking angels") are covering their feet and faces. Like Moses, they do not want to look upon the Lord and they cover their feet, in my opinion, to show they can't even stand before the Lord. God is so Holy that these angels dare not look at Him but cover their faces, yet we have people running around saying Jesus is their homeboy? How disgraceful! It's like so many people want to make God "cool". God does not need people making Him "cool". Notice what the Seraphim are saying? What is God? Is He mercy mercy mercy? Is He cool cool cool? Is He (as so many want us to think) love love love? No, none of these. He is Holy Holy Holy! The only time God is ever described as something repetitive like this is in regards to His Holiness. The Jews used this when they wanted to make a strong point. Jesus did it in His time when He was about to make a strong statement. You will find 25 times in the book of John where Jesus starts a statement verily verily I say unto you (some versions truly truly). God is Holy above all other things.

Now there are many people out there that just concentrate on God's love. I used to. But there is so much more to God. Yes 1 John 4 says God is love. Because He is. But above all He is Holy. We really need to start pounding that into this day and age in the church. It is because of us losing sight of God's Holiness that so many churches are accepting things like homosexuality and abortion and idolatry. If you don't believe me just look around. the Episcopalians, the ELCA, the Methodist church, PCUSA, The Church of Christ. These are all churches guilty of one or more of the three I listed. All of them are going the way of idolatry. What I mean is, did you know that if you create a God that is not the one described in the Bible you are committing idolatry? Homosexuality is a sin in the bible. It is in black and white in the New testament and Old. But because these churches are trying to make God 'cool" and want the world to think the church is hip to the times they are secularizing the gospel message. I know a pastor from Ecla that when asked how they went when the Ecla split over this not long ago he said "Oh we are liberal, anything goes." Really!? Where is that in the Bible? Please note when I say liberal or conservative I am describing views on scripture and not politics unless otherwise noted. The sad thing is this guy is teaching people this liberal theology garbage which in all honesty is apostasy and idolatry. The same goes for abortion, go to RCRC and look at all the churches on this list who support abortion (I.E. the murdering of innocent babies).

God is Holy and calls us to live Holy lives. Lives that reflect Him, and as we see the Bible clearly shows He is Holy. We will stumble, that is true, but if you just want to claim Christ and no change has happened in your life I question your conversion. You wanna convert a truck into a car, you will see a change in the truck over time. Right? R.C. Sproul had a good quote that went something like this "Any attempt to understand God apart from His holiness is idolatry"

Lets look at another verse. One the "other side" tries to use as an opposition to all the holiness scriptures describing God. John 15 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. I love this passage and am so humbled that a Holy and awesome God would call me a friend. But I will not distort that and twist it to make God out to be my "homeboy". I would never disgrace my Heavenly Father and Creator. Do you? Folks, God is love, and yes, God does love all of us just as we are, however He loves us so much He won't leave us that way. 1 Corinthians 6:9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. That's a lot of people who won't enter the kingdom of God. But look close at that passage, it says and such were some of you. That's so promising cause God will change us from the sinful lives we live into followers of His holiness. Look within yourselves, are you worshiping and believing in the one true God, or merely one that society accepts? Read your Bibles, and obey what you read.

My prayer for us Father is that we see You for Who You truly are. That we put aside our preconceived notions of You and learn the truth about You from the Holy Scriptures written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. May we not lean on our understanding, rather lean on You and Your word. Thank you for Your word, Your love, and Your holiness. Amen

With love and prayers