Saturday, December 30, 2006
Will we suffer the same fate as Saddam if we don't put our faith in Jesus? No and Yes.
No, because we have committed different crimes, and as such, our judgement would be different. Just as there are degrees of sin, there are degrees of punishment. Yes, because each of us must ultimately answer for our sins. Unless, of course, Jesus is allowed to answer for them.
Friday, December 29, 2006
While very polite, tonight the theme seemed to be apathy. I would hear kids say, "Sure, that makes a lot of sense that I'm going to Hell. Oh, by the way, did you see that movie with that guy in it?" or "Yes, I totally agree that God will judge the world, but hey, should I get a tattoo?"
I got two recordings tonight. The first one was with a new guy Jeff and I witnessing to a group of teenagers. As I explained and pleaded with them to consider their eternal destination, Jeff jumped in and tried as well to shake them out of their spiritual slumber. It is crazy how I can explain it and have them understand and repeat it back to me, then in two minutes completely forget everything we have just talked about. It is like the gospel seed that falls by the wayside and doesn't find any soil to plant itself. These kids were more interested in telling me that the cross on their neck was from the first church in Armenia than actually understanding the significance of the cross itself.
Second, Joey found a group of kids to speak with. As usual with a group of kids, there were plenty that jumped in and out of the conversation, but a couple of them that stayed and participated through the whole discussion. I pray that the Lord had the ones He wanted to hear the gospel there long enough for His Spirit to minister to their hearts.
After I left, Joey spoke with a group of kids who were scientologists. He started to ask them about Xenu. They had no idea of what he was talking about. When he said that at OT3, they will be taught about Xenu, they begged him to stop. They hadn't reached that level yet and their religion forbade them from learning things out of order. They seemed genuinely scared of hearing anything that their teachers didn't allow them to hear. Joey also said that they hadn't ever heard of the Ten Commandments, or the gospel at all. A few years ago in this country that would have been unheard of. But, the day is coming when our nation's kids will be so secularized that they won't ever have heard of the Ten Commandments, let alone understand their purpose, or how they can be reconciled to a God who will use that as the standard of perfection against which we will all be judged.
Please pray for the kids we spoke to tonight. And, please consider going out yourself and making sure the people you know have had an accurate gospel presentation and have been given a chance to accept or reject the gospel of our just and merciful God.
Monday, December 25, 2006
It’s not all about the angels who sang for Him that day
It’s not just about the shepherds or the bright and shining star
It’s not all about the wise men who traveled from afar
It’s not just about the presents underneath the tree
It’s not all about the feeling that this season brings to me
It’s not just about coming home to be with those you love
It’s not all about the beauty in the snow I’m dreaming of
The beginning of the story is wonderful and great
But it’s the ending that can save you and that’s why we celebrate
It’s about the cross, It’s about my sin
It’s about how Jesus came to be born once
So that we could be born again
It’s about God’s love nailed to a tree
It’s about every drop of blood that flowed
From Him when it should’ve been me
It’s about the stone that was rolled away
So that you and I could have a life some day
It’s about the cross
Sunday, December 24, 2006
In the carol "O Holy Night" we sing "Long lay the world in sin and error pining Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth." My dad loved Christmas. He believed that Jesus was the Savior of the world. He prayed regularly. He followed me around and listened when I preached the gospel. But his soul never "felt its worth." And even though the mild Savior was born to give us second birth, my dad wasn't born again--and according to Jesus Himself my dad would therefore not go to Heaven when he died (see John chapter 3).
I strongly suspected that he wasn't born again because the Bible says that there will be certain "fruit" that will make it clear that someone has been born "from above." If I buy what I think is a peach tree, I have good reason to suspect that it's not if it never has any fruit. To believe in the Savior and not be born again is like a man who believes in a parachute, but doesn't put it on. Such a man will be okay, until he jumps out of the plane.
My dad lacked certain knowledge. He didn't understand that God was nothing like he imagined--that He is holy and perfect and that because of that fact, God's wrath was upon him because of his sins (see John 3:36). Like the rest of us, my dad had broken the Ten Commandments, God was his enemy, and only in Christ can God and sinners be reconciled.
I explained that God had seen the secret sins of his heart, and that if he had as much as lusted after a woman, he had committed adultery in his heart (see Matthew 5:27-28). I also explained that if he had told one lie, he was a liar, and the Bible warns that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire. If he had stolen anything, he was a thief, and the Scriptures warn that no thief will inherit the Kingdom of God. There would be no second chance. Because God is perfect and demands perfection (see Matthew 5:48), if my dad died in his sins, even though he professed faith in Jesus, he would go to Hell. Forever.
One day he had a very serious heart attack. Two weeks later he was dead. But sometime during those two weeks he was born again . . . and there was evident fruit. He prayed that God would cast out his sin and enter in. He cried "be born in me today."
It took a heart attack to awaken him to the truth of the gospel. He finally understood why the Savior was born--to suffer for the sin of the world (for his sins), and rise again on the third day, defeating death. Jesus was born that man no more may die, and because of the cross, God can now grant dying humanity the gift of everlasting life. God and sinners can be reconciled. We can be made righteous in the sight of a holy and prefect God by His amazing grace.
In one moment during those two weeks my dad simply repented and surrendered his life to God, and trusted in Jesus alone for his eternal salvation. Have you done that? Will you prepare Him room? Does your soul feel the gospel's worth? Be reconciled to God. I'm concerned that perhaps you haven't repented and trusted the Savior. Why? Because I know that like my dad, millions believe, but there's no biblical fruit. Please, do what the Bible says, "Make your calling and election sure." Pray something like this: "Dear God, I have sinned against you. I have broken your Commandments and if you judge me according to your perfect standard, I will justly end up in Hell forever. Thank you that Jesus once and for all took my punishment. He suffered for me and rose again. I trust in Him alone as my Savior and my Lord. In His wonderful name I pray."
I hope and pray that you have truly repented and been born again. If you have, Christmas will never be the same. If your sins are forgiven, you will find comfort in the Scriptures. You will find comfort through the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. And you will have great comfort on your death bed. Instead of death being a terrifying dark door to the unknown, the moment of your passing will become the most incredible moment of your life--the entrance into everlasting joy, and pleasure forevermore.
The Bible says the Kingdom of Heaven is coming to this earth. Can you imagine how wonderful it will be? Actually, you can't. We have never seen or heard or imagined anything as wonderful as what God has in store for those who love Him. Think of the most beautiful rose, the cutest puppy, the most breathtaking sunset, or the magnificence of a snow-covered mountain. Imagine now that you were there before God created those things. There would be no way you could have predicted such a creation; and even though we can see how unspeakably great God is through the creation we see, He says, "Behold, I make all things new." So, never think of Heaven as a kind of spooky home of "departed spirits." It's down to earth, new bodies, utter perfection, and pleasure forevermore. No more pain. No more suffering. No more death. So, feed yourself daily--read your Bible every day without fail. And make sure you obey what you read, and you will never look back. God will keep you in His mighty hand.
Thank you for reading this.
God bless you,
Saturday, December 23, 2006
37 Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:Without an eternal perspective, the cares of this world can overshadow the things that really matter.
"Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?"
39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:
40 "He has blinded their eyes
and deadened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn—and I would heal them." 41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus' glory and spoke about him.
42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.
44 Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
47 "As for the person who hears my words but does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. 48 There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. 49 For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. 50 I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say."
This is an example of the Son and the Father being One, and yet being distinct. If you see the Son, you have seen the Father. Yet, the Son does not condemn, but saves from the wrath of the Father.
Friday, December 22, 2006
I know this is put on by a public facility and leans toward the secular. But, I saw an opportunity for our team to spread the gospel. In addition to the normal Burbank Town Center open air preaching, we took about six of us to Griffith Park Zoo early and headed down the walking path passing out Santa bucks to passers by. We watched hundreds of cars driving at two miles per hour right past us. Eventually we got bold and stood in the oncoming traffic handing out tracts to each car. This lasted for a few minutes till the security told us we couldn't cross the barrier to the street. So, we walked a bit further down the path to the entrance where there wasn't a barrier. The guards at the front told us we could not pass out fliers. I told him that this was actually a public street and if he could show me a rule that I was breaking, I would be happy to comply. He didn't have one but called the Park Ranger to discuss it with us.
We decided to move a bit further up the line so that we wouldn't be anywhere near anyone with any aspirations of authority. The road was definitely one-way and was packed with cars, so there was no way a Park Ranger was going to just drive up to us. In fact, we saw his truck circling the area trying to figure out how to get down to us. In the meantime, we had found the perfect spot. The traffic was so slow, we could stand at the side and every single car pulled up to grab thier tract. I passed out a hundred to one hundred cars in about ten minutes.
By this time, the Ranger had figured out he was going to have to walk up to us, and did. He spoke with Chris and I and asked what we were doing. When he found out we were passing out gospel tracts, he said, "I guess I can't stop you." He said he was worried about two things. First, our safety. He made up promise not to stand in the middle of the street. We were fine on the side. Second, he was worried about slowing up traffic. I said, it couldn't go much slower than two miles per hour. But, he mainly wanted to make sure that we wouldn't get into indepth converstaions with people as they drove. We assured him we wouldn't, placed a Tony Miano tract in his hand and wished him a Merry Christmas. What a great country we live in where the police allow us to share the gospel and are concerned for our safety.
Now, with our new found freedom, we boldly passed out another 4-500 tracts each as the cars just marched by. It was great. As we ran out of tracts, we headed back up to our car and made sure to thank all the security we met for being so safety conscious and handed them all tracts as well.
This night was incredible. Every time I said, "Merry Christmas" to someone, their face lit up, as if to say, that's right, we don't have to just say Happy Holidays to people. With so much restriction in the stores, people sometimes forget that we can still freely wish people a Merry Christmas this time of year. Anyone who asked what I was giving them, I told them it was a gospel tract. They inevitably said, "Thank you!" or "God Bless You". I hope I encouraged at least a few to do something similar themselves.
The regular Burbank preaching went on as well, but tonight should serve as an example that we should always be on the lookout for new and creative ways to share our faith. Let's pray that God uses our efforts to bring some people across to a saving relationship with the 'reason for the season' himself, Jesus Christ.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated
recognition of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere . And without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishes.
By accepting these greetings you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself or himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the
usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.
Monday, December 18, 2006
20 Now there were some Greeks among those who went up to worship at the Feast. 21 They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, with a request. "Sir," they said, "we would like to see Jesus." 22 Philip went to tell Andrew; Andrew and Philip in turn told Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, "The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me.
27 "Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? 'Father, save me from this hour'? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!"
Ask 100 people why Jesus came. 100 answers. The answer is right here. There is no, "What most scholars believe..." nor "well, my personal belief is..." Jesus very clearly tells us that the reason He came was to die.
Then a voice came from heaven, "I have glorified it, and will glorify it again." 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, "This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
You can tell people who actually read the Bible from people who just speak out against Christianity. People who read it are able to see the very clear message presented in passages such as this.
Jesus loved to speak in parables. Mostly to confound the unbelievers, but also so that his points had all the more kick when you realized what He was actually saying. Many things pointed towards His atoning death, and they all made sense only after people realized He was crucified.
34 The crowd spoke up, "We have heard from the Law that the Christ will remain forever, so how can you say, 'The Son of Man must be lifted up'? Who is this 'Son of Man'?"
35 Then Jesus told them, "You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going. 36 Put your trust in the light while you have it, so that you may become sons of light." When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. 13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting,
"Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"
"Blessed is the King of Israel!" 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written,
15 "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;
see, your king is coming,
seated on a donkey's colt."
16At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.
The nice thing about a Bible you can pick up today is that when the New Testament makes a reference to the Old Testament, especially when a prophecy is being fulfilled, they give you the book, chapter and verse so you can look it up. Here they are referencing Psalm 118 and Zechariah 9.
17 Now the crowd that was with him when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word. 18 Many people, because they had heard that he had given this miraculous sign, went out to meet him. 19 So the Pharisees said to one another, "See, this is getting us nowhere. Look how the whole world has gone after him!"It is usually the religious establishment that goes after Jesus the hardest. I get the most resistance to witnessing to people from those inside the church. Well, that is to say, those inside the walls of the church building. True followers of Christ continue to spread the word.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages." 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
A great example of a story in the Bible that might have been misunderstood, and the next line explains what happens. In case you thought Judas was really concerned about the poor just because he said so, the true state of his heart is shown here.
Watch out for people who have the outward signs of piety. But, inside they are wicked. Judas was in the inner circle of Jesus, and to everyone he appeared to be the height of religious righteousness. But, God knows the heart, and there is coming a day when He will separate the sheep from the goats.
The devil does not like it when people are moved to put their faith in Jesus Christ. Look out the next time you are sharing your faith with people. Watch for the snares of the enemy to get in your way.
7 "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. " It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 1011 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,
Friday, December 15, 2006
As I walked around with some of the new people and found situations for some one to one witnessing, I noticed a trend. Tonight was the night of the Jehovah's witnesses. I had some teenagers who didn't want my million dollar bill, as though they knew what it was. As I pressed, they told me that they were Jehovah's witnesses. They were very nice boys, but headstrong in their convictions that to be saved, you need to walk in Jesus' footsteps, knocking on doors. I asked them how to get to Heaven, or Paradise on Earth as they refer to it, and they told me I needed to get into a yearlong Bible study. I said that if I didn't have time for that, was there any hope for me. They said, God knows your heart, and he will be able to see if you are worthy of Heaven. I agreed with him. God DOES know your heart. That is the scary thing. I showed him that we are all wicked on the inside, and we need the blood of Jesus to wash us clean before we can approach a holy, pure, perfect God. I don't think I ever got through to him, but I plead with him to read the whole Bible, and not just the parts written in the Watchtower publication. He said that the Watchtower was part of the Bible.
Another boy of thirteen came up to me after I witnessed to a group of kids who were mostly joking around. He came up afterwards and asked me to go over the gospel again. He told me that he was also a Jehovah's witness. I don't know how much effect a guy on the street in ten minutes can have over a kid being raised by JW parents, but I told him to try to remember one thing. Don't trust me. Don't trust your parents. Don't trust your priest. Trust in God's Word. Trust the Bible. I told him to compare anything he is told to what God says in the Bible. And, even if an angel comes with a different gospel, don't believe him.
Please join with me in prayer for all of these people we witnessed to tonight. As much as we are all responsible for our own choices, all three of these groups are starting off with a huge handicap by being raised in a faith that actively contradicts God's true gospel. I know that on our own, we are slaves to sin, and have no ability to pull ourselves out of the wickedness. But, the Holy Spirit can change their hearts and bring them to a saving relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ. I pray that the seeds we planted tonight will find good soil.
Friday, December 08, 2006
By Daniel Miller
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Sixty-five years ago today, in 1941, the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, was attacked. The bombing killed 2,388 Americans, put much of the Pacific fleet out of commission, and came while the Japanese ambassador in Washington was preparing for a diplomatic appointment at the State Department. Among the losses was the battleship Arizona, which went down with nearly all hands on board. It is still there as a national shrine.
In President Roosevelt's speech to Congress the next day asking for a declaration of war, he called Dec. 7 "a date which will live in infamy." Congress responded promptly with a declaration of war against Japan. It followed up on Dec. 11 with retaliatory declarations of war against Germany and Italy. World War II was the last time the United States has declared war, though it has fought three major wars (Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan-Iraq) and numerous minor ones. Not many Americans are old enough to remember the events of 65 years ago.
One of the best books ever written that explains the details of that day is a book entitled "At Dawn We Slept". I purchased my copy when I visited Hawaii many years ago. The name of that book explains it all. We were sleeping when Japan initiated a surprise attack on that December day.
I've always felt that title "At Dawn We Slept" would be a good moniker for the Church. So many people lost and dying without Jesus and the Church just sleeps, not realizing that Satan is trying to destroy as many as possible. We need to wake up and rally the troops. All hands on deck. This is not a time to be asleep at the wheel. God has called the Church to sound the trumpet to reach a dying world with the saving message of Jesus Christ.
My question to you are as follows.
Have you ever led someone into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ?
When was the last time you shared your faith?
When was the last time you brought a visitor to church?
When was the last time you bought a Bible for an unsaved acquaintance?
When was the last time you parked in the off site area and rode the shuttle?
When was the last time you fasted for a lost friend?
When was the last time you gave a sermon CD to a fellow employee?
When was the last time you thought about moving to Saturday night to free up more room for visitors who usually attend on Sunday morning.
When was the last time you cried over someone being lost?
When was the last time you wept over a soul?
When was the last time you invited your neighbor to church?
If Jesus came today...
If Jesus came tonight...
If Jesus came in the morning...
Could they say of the church?
Could they say of you?
Could they say of me?
At Dawn We Slept.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. 46 But some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin.
"What are we accomplishing?" they asked. "Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. 48 If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation."
This reminds me of some modern church methods. "Hey, if do things the way Christ did, we'll lose our congregation. We better not mention repentence and faith. Let's just play up our coffee and our music." Seems like the established religion hasn't changed much.
49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, "You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish."
51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. 53 So from that day on they plotted to take his life.
Read that one again. Seriously. Do you see how God can use anything for His own purposes. Jesus did die for the Jewish nation, and for everyone else. But, not in the way that Caiaphas envisioned. The bible is so full of great stuff like this.
54 Therefore Jesus no longer moved about publicly among the Jews. Instead he withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village called Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples.
55 When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, many went up from the country to Jerusalem for their ceremonial cleansing before the Passover. 56 They kept looking for Jesus, and as they stood in the temple area they asked one another, "What do you think? Isn't he coming to the Feast at all?" 57 But the chief priests and Pharisees had given orders that if anyone found out where Jesus was, he should report it so that they might arrest him.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 "Take away the stone," he said.
"But, Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days."
40 Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?"
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me."
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go."
Many of the miracles Jesus performed, He did so to give credibility to His claims of Deity. All of the events in the gospels were performed in front of witnesses, and recorded within thier lifetime, or within a generation. If they had not occurred, then it would be very difficult to have people take the Bible seriously. Because people knew the stories were true, they treated them as such and the Bible is with us to this day. Picture writing a book about John Kennedy raising someone from the dead. People would know that it was not true, as there are still people alive today who were around to dispute that claim.
Monday, December 04, 2006
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.
21 "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask."
23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."
24 Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."
25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; 26 and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"
27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."
I think this question can be asked of us, as well. Do you believe this? Jesus says that whosoever believes will live.
28 And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died."
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 "Where have you laid him?" he asked.
"Come and see, Lord," they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?"
One thing that is great about Jesus is that although He is the God of everything, he still feels deeply for each of us. One person dies and the Creator of the Universe weeps.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Imagine trying to lovingly confront a high profile evangelical to share your concern that his Gospel presentation wasn’t Biblical. Gulp. That is precisely what I did with Luis Palau several years ago prior to one of his mega-events.
I suggested he was giving the cure without explaining the disease of sin. Mr. Palau informed me that everyone has an overwhelming burden of guilt and it is not necessary for him to preach about their need for forgiveness.
Suspecting he might say that, I handed him a c.d. with a montage of people we interviewed on the street. We asked strangers, “Do you have an overwhelming burden of guilt?” The responses ranged from condescending disdain to outright laughter.
While Mr. Palau was very nice to me, he ultimately patted me on the head and said, “Be careful that you don’t fall into that Lordship salvation trap. Christians can be carnal.”
Carnal Christianity is the concept that says: you can live like the world and still be a Christian. It also teaches that sanctification can come some time after a person signs a car…er…asks Jesus into his hea…I mean gets saved.
Later that night at the festival, Mr. Palau’s message included two profanities and proclamations like, “If Elvis had become a Christian, he would have been a rock star, but his life wouldn’t have turned out so bad.” He also informed the audience that if they would simply ask Jesus into their hearts, “The party starts right now.” A woman from my church who just buried her seven year old son almost rushed the stage…and not to sign a card.
His Gospel presentation, as our British friends would say, was “a complete dog’s breakfast.”
It is no surprise that the follow up statistics to crusades are so tragic. The backslider rate (or Carnal Christian rate) hovers around 90%. It seems that Carnal Christianity and Gospel presentations that don’t include sin, righteousness and judgment go hand and hand. In order to explain those statistics, the minister must:
1. Admit the preaching is inadequate and without Holy Spirit power.
2. Alter theology to explain how a decision-maker can name the name of Christ but live like the devil.
Option one is out of the picture. And so it is, since the early 20th century, modern day evangelicalism (thanks to Lewis Sperry Chafer and the Scofield Bible) has been proclaiming the oxymoron known as Carnal Christianity.
The support text for Carnal Christianity is I Cor.3:1-5. “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual men, but as to men of flesh, as to infants in Christ. I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to receive it. Indeed, even now you are not yet able, for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like mere men?
Paul was warning the ignorant, sectarian Corinthians that they should not be divided into cliques. That’s it. This text does not suggest that born-again believers can live like pagans. Paul was introducing them to new theology, not giving them license to sin.
With all credit to Ernest C. Reisinger’s “A Carnal Christian,” here are eight reasons why Carnal Christianity should be rejected.
1. In I Cor.1:2-5, Paul addressed his audience as “sanctified in Christ”. So are they sanctified or carnal? In I Cor.2, Paul divides men into “natural” and “spiritual,” i.e. un-saved and saved. By labeling some Christians as “carnal,” Paul would be introducing a third classification of humans. Furthermore, this would violate every other presentation in Scripture that there are only two classes of people: children of God or children of wrath.
2. The new covenant of salvation includes two inseparable blessings at salvation: justification and sanctification. Carnal Christianity teaches you will be justified upon conversion, but sanctification is optional.
3. The Bible presents two types of faith: saving faith and spurious (false) faith (Lk. 8:13). Carnal Christianity does not recognize spurious faith. What a false assurance we allow the unregenerate to possess if we allow them to think their faith is valid when the Bible teaches it might be a false conversion.
4. Carnal Christianity excludes a necessary component of salvation: repentance. The unconverted sinner can just “ask Jesus into his heart” with no requirement to forsake sin.
5. How does a person know he is saved? Fruit in keeping with repentance. We are told to examine ourselves to see if we are in the truth. What a beautiful gift to the believer. If we can be carnal, how can we know we are saved? Carnal Christianity robs us of assurance.
6. Carnal Christianity may be a relatively new name, but it is merely a new moniker for an old false teaching: anti-nomianism. “Should we go on sinning that grace might more abound?” Carnal Christianity says, “Sure.”
7. “Carnal Christian teaching is the mother of many second work-of –grace errors in that it depreciates the Biblical conversion experience by implying that the change in the converted sinner may amount to little or nothing.” Dr. Reisinger goes on to point out that a second step is required to make a man a “spiritual Christian.”
8. Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, right? (Lk.2:11) Carnal Christianity divides Jesus and allows Him to be Savior but not Lord.
Listen to the words of A.A. Hodge. “Think of a sinner coming to Christ and saying, ‘I do not want to be holy; I do not want to be saved from sin; I would like to be saved in my sins; do not sanctify me now, but justify me now.’”
That is ridiculous, isn’t it? And so is Carnal Christianity. Even Elvis would agree with that.
Friday, December 01, 2006
Tonight, I had to take the lead, as my co leaders were not there. And, I must admit, I was scared. I felt like anyone I would walk up to and start talking with would get angry with me. I was imagining them as monsters. As a coincidence, my wife brought the kids out tonight. I met up with them, and my daughter asked if she could pass out some gospel tracts to people. As I watched this seven year old boldly go up and hand strangers million dollar bills telling them that they should read the back to find out about Jesus, I suddenly got my courage back. We walked all around and passed out about one hundred tracts and had some great conversations.
Another important step is to make sure you 'pray up' before you start. When I feel fear, and stress from the week, I have to remember to stop what I am doing and pray. I need to clear my conscience by confessing my own sin and allowing me to decrease while He increases. I want people to hear His words, and not mine. When I take my ego out of sharing the gospel, then it is not my success or my failure. It is all His divine plan. Remember, we are all called to plant seeds. God will make sure they are watered and will ultimately bring them to fruition, if it is His will.