Evangelize vs Witness

Today, it is extremely critical that every born again believer in Jesus Christ be literate of the distinction between evangelism and giving personal testimony (better known as witnessing).

The definition of witnessing is to testify to one’s religious convictions.  This usually takes the form of explaining to someone what the Lord Jesus Christ; the Holy Spirit or the Father have done in one’s life or in one’s circumstances.  This is witnessing to the goodness of the Lord or the deliverance one experienced from the hand of the Lord.  It is testimony that affirms the presence of the Lord in one’s life and how that has caused changes in one’s behaviors, attitudes, thoughts, etc.  It acts as an “advertisement” so to speak to the one hearing the testimony.  It sturs awe, amazement, hope, anticipation, and desire in the hearer to seek the Lord for themselves.  “If He can do it for me, He will surely do it for you”.

The definition of evangelizing is to preach the gospel to.  This pertains to telling someone specifically about Jesus Christ – not you;  His mission, purpose, life, death, burial, resurrection and provision of eternal salvation.  It is the gospel message that convicts, soften hearts, brings contrition and repentance.  It is through the gospel message that one understands how to secure eternal forgiveness and eternal life.  So remember to ask yourself the next time you are having a discussion with an unbeliever if you are witnessing or evangelizing.  Both are beneficial but they are not synonymous.  Remember that it is only through Jesus Christ that one is saved – not through your personal testimony.

A Point to Ponder…

A born again believer in Jesus Christ is anyone who puts their faith totally in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.  It is someone who is said to have “entrusted” Jesus Christ with their entire life; to have committed themselves to Him because of what He has done for them and what He has promised them.

He has paid the penalty for their sinful nature by dying on the cross at Calvary which satisfied the righteous requirement of the law and as a result paved the way for all who believe in Him to be eternally forgiven of their sin and to be resurrected with Him unto eternal life with the Godhead at the end of the age.

This is the foundation of the Christian faith;  the rock of truth that every born again believer stands on with expectant hope.

Now, people don’t usually put their trust in something or someone who cannot deliver the “goods” so to speak; especially if it involves their very life.  If the person or thing falters on what was promised, they usually will disconnect themselves from them; move away from them; give up on them; or disown them, just to name of few of the possible responses.  They do this because they have lost “faith” in that person’s ability or the ability of the thing they relied on to deliver what was promised.

Though this behavior of giving up on someone or something for not fulfilling a promise is consistent with being human, it is not a behavior that is consistent with God.  Though people may fail to fulfill their promises to one another, God never fails to fulfill His promises to those who love Him and who receive Him as their personal Savior and Lord.

Ponder these verses of Scripture:

Numbers 23:19 (NIV):  God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that He should change His mind.  Does He speak and then not act?  Does He promise and not fulfill?

2Timothy 2:11-13 (NIV):  Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him.  If we disown Him, He will also disown us; if we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.

Why not then, consider giving your life to the One who can save you from eternal damnation.  To the One who promises and always fulfills His promises. To the One who did for you what you couldn’t do for yourself.  To the One who promises you an eternal life, free of sin and corruption and defilement.  An eternal life of fellowship with the One who created you and loved you to the point of dying for you so you could be reconciled and made holy.

In the climate of today’s relativism, it behooves you to ponder this thought; this piece of truth that can bring you to hope with an expectant joy that the world cannot give you, or promise you.

Give your life to Jesus Christ, the only one who can save you from eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire and eternal separation from the one who loved you enough to die for you…

If you want to learn more about salvation, go to this link: “What Is Salvation” 

Is what you see, what you get?

Jesus tells us of an account he had with a fig tree when he was hungry.  It can be found in Mark 11:12-14 (NLT):

The next morning as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus felt hungry.  He noticed a fig tree a little way off that was in full leaf, so he went over to see if he could find any figs on it.  But there were only leaves because it was too early in the season for fruit.  Then Jesus said to the tree, “May no one ever eat your fruit again!”  And the disciples heard him say it.

Jesus expected to find figs on the tree to satisfy His hunger because the tree advertised it was carrying figs evidenced by its foliage, but when Jesus didn’t find figs, he cursed the tree.  What Jesus expected to find, he didn’t.

When people look at you, a professing born-again believer in Jesus Christ, what do they see?  Do they see the evidence of your union with the Holy Spirit or do they see your association with the world?

The fruit of your foliage is supposed to be the fruit of the Spirit:

(love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.)

Is that what people see when they examine you?

Be who you say you are; a born-again believer in Jesus Christ.  Let the phrases: it is, what it is or what you see, is what you get be true of you.

Eternal Directives…

The inspired Word of God is very specific about its directives to all born again believers in Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 28:19,20 we are directed to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and to teach them to obey everything Jesus has commanded us.

In Mark 16:15 we are directed to go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.

In Luke 24:46-47 we are reminded that the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning in Jerusalem.

Why is it then that there are so many born-again believers in Jesus Christ who pay more attention to “worldly” nonsense than to the “eternal” message of Jesus Christ?  Why are there so many believers who would rather “preach” a message of “abundant life” than the message of “repentance and forgiveness of sins”?

If not for the “cross of Christ” we would all still be lost, condemned, cursed and eternally separated from God.  This is the message that we are instructed to tell people; this is the message that brings hope into the life of every person wanting to be reconciled to God.  Why aren’t born again believers doing what the Lord has commanded them to do, now that they have received the gift of the Father’s grace?

Don’t be complacent because you are “saved” and “redeemed”.  Don’t be insensitive to the condition of those who are still “lost” and “separated” from God.  Walk in the shadow of the compassion that was shown to you by the Father and Jesus Christ; walk in the gratitude of the love that was demonstrated by Christ on the cross.  Pay more attention to the message that holds eternal consequences and less time on the messages of this world that have no significance.

Show the love for your neighbor by preaching to them their need for repentance so that they too may receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and redemption; and be more willing to teach them in the way of sanctification.

Remember: The Lord is not wanting for anyone to perish, but for everyone to come to repentance. (2Peter 3:8-9)

Escape is a deception of the devil

In our lifetime, we will find ourselves engaged in many situations or circumstances that pose a threat to our safety and maybe even to our lives that we can handle by “escaping” from them.  But on the flip side, there may be situations or circumstances that we can’t escape and that we find we need to be “rescued” from instead.  Why?

It is because, in those situations where “escape” can be accomplished, it is due to our own efforts and merit to overcome whatever the threat or danger may be.  But in those situations where rescue is needed, it is due to our inability to overcome the threat or danger on our own efforts or merit.

It is like a person who is trapped in a burning room and who is unable to overcome the power and effects of the flames, heat, and smoke that are overcoming his/her every breath of oxygen. Unable to safely make it to an exit, this person will ultimately die of smoke inhalation and asphyxiation.

In effect, this person was not able to “escape” from the circumstances of the burning room on their own efforts or merit.  They needed to have some form of external help, such as a firefighter or Good Samaritan to come to their assistance.  They needed someone who had the power to overcome the circumstances of the burning room.  If that had happened, we would be able to say that the person was “rescued”  from the burning room by either the firefighter or Good Samaritan; we couldn’t say that they “escaped”.

The person who is trapped in that burning room has a final destiny that awaits them if they are not removed from that situation; it is the loss of their life.  If they cannot do anything on their own to remove themselves, make no mistake about it, they are going to die from smoke inhalation and asphyxiation.  Their self-efforts would be of no avail because they cannot overcome their physical condition.

Mankind (you and I), finds ourselves in a life-threatening situation with respect to our spiritual position and condition with God.  We cannot “escape” the sentence of eternal death that God has pronounced on us as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.  It is a fact that mankind is destined to be thrown into the Lake of Fire, to be eternally separated from God, and to be eternally tormented.

The devil wants you to think that you can “escape” from this sentence of eternal death, separation, and torment.  The devil makes you think you are not in any danger with God.  The devil makes you think that all you have to do is to be good throughout your life and that will enable you to “escape” this sentence; that goodness alone will give you eternal fellowship with God.

But God tells us something very different.  God tells us that we cannot “escape” His sentence of eternal damnation and wrath on our own merits or efforts.  God tells us that the only way to have eternal fellowship and union with Him is through having belief and faith in Jesus Christ and thereby being “rescued” from His condemnation and wrath.

We are told in Colossians 1:13

13For He has rescued us from the one who rules in the kingdom of darkness, and He has brought us into the Kingdom of His dear Son.”

And in John 3:16,17

16For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 17God did not send His Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.”

 God tells us that when we believe in His Son (Jesus Christ) for what He did for us by taking our punishment and dying on the cross; shedding His blood to provide the forgiveness of our sins; and entrusting our entire lives over to His care – only then will we be “rescued” by Jesus Christ from the sentence of eternal judgment and condemnation.

Don’t let Satan continue to deceive you with his lie that you can “escape” the eternal judgment of God by your good works.

Let today be the day you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior.

Believe that He died on the cross at Calvary to pay your sin debt; that He shed His own blood on the cross for the remission of your sins; that He was raised from the dead on the third day following His crucifixion through the justification of the Father; and that He gives eternal life to all who believe in Him.

Remember that you are in need of “rescue” from the judgment of God of being thrown into the Lake of Fire to be eternally tormented and of being eternally separated from God and experiencing a spiritual eternal death that comes from it.

Again I say, let today be the day you receive Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior and let God do what only He can do for you to make your life reconciled back to Him.

 

An Eternal Sleep

I laid on my bed one night tumultuously struggling with thoughts of death.  My emotions were overwhelmed with the terror of not being able to escape such a dreadful fate.  I pulled the covers over my head wishing I could find some refuge but my fear only grew in intensity.  As I tossed from side to side I could not stop myself from trembling and crying.  In my mind and in my spirit I keep saying, “I don’t want to die; I don’t want to die” but my thoughts were oppressive and kept me terrorized with fear.

Then a calm overtook me, like when clouds roll back from a storm and you feel the warmth of the summer sun come out and light your face with a cool accompanying breeze.  I heard the voice of the Lord speak softly to my spirit.  He said, “You are my child because you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and Lord and you, therefore, belong to Me.”  He told me that He loves me and is always with me.  He told me how His unfailing love for me has been graciously preparing me for the very moment that I found myself so fearful of.  He reminded me how I have practiced every night of my life for the very moment when I will physically die.  And He assured me that I had become well versed in the process.  That process is called “falling asleep.”

Peacefully, every night of my life I have rehearsed my grand exit from this world.  As I fall asleep each night I cannot recall exactly when I lose consciousness and fall into a state of sleep, but it is something that happens regularly with no fanfare or fear.  How peaceful those moments are; how unafraid I am of falling asleep at those times.

The Lord reminds me that that is exactly what is going to happen to me when I physically die.  He says I am going to go to sleep one more time, then when I awake, because I belong to Him, I will wake up to find myself with Him in paradise for eternity.

Understand one thing: People will have an experience of thinking about death at some point in their lives.  For some, it may come when they are small children.  For others, it may come when something has threatened their life.  Some might witness a loved one die right before their eyes and wonder where they have gone to.  Regardless of the circumstance, rest assured, people are destined to confront their mortality at some point in their lives.

Death has become a reality:  Death was never in God’s original design for man.  Man’s sin brought the consequences of physical death from this world and spiritual death from God into existence.

Death affects the human spirit in two ways.  It separates the human spirit from the presence of God and it separates the human spirit from the physical body.

Adam and Eve brought a curse on all humanity in the Garden of Eden when they sinned against God.  As a result, everyone’s spirit is separated from the presence of God at birth.  Everyone is “spiritually dead” at birth.

In addition, everyone will experience a “physical death”, where there will be a separation of their spirit from their physical body at the end of their physical life.  Both of these deaths are a reality we all face.

Unless you have knowledge concerning your human spirit, the thought of death creates anxiety, fear, and trepidation. Unless you have knowledge of God’s love for you and what He has done to resolve the dilemma of your human spirit, the thought of death stings your very soul.

Scripture identifies two resting places for the human spirit when physical death comes.  One is for those who are reunited with the presence of God through rebirth and the other is for those who remain separated from the presence of God through the rejection of Jesus Christ.  The location of the former is the bosom of Abraham; the location of the latter is Hell.

You see, man cannot change the reality of his physical death; the separation of his human spirit from his physical body.  But he can change the reality of his separation from the presence of God.

By believing in Jesus Christ’s death as the propitiation for man in satisfying God’s judgment for Adam’s sin and by believing in Jesus Christ’s resurrection as God’s justification for man, a provision is given to man that resolves his separation from the presence of God.  The provision is a manifestation of God’s grace. The provision is a gift of God.  It is salvation.  The provision is Jesus Christ.

Accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior brings you into perfect fellowship with God.  It answers the question, which resting place will my spirit go to when it is separated from my physical body.  It will go to the bosom of Abraham.  Positioned to receive a new body that will never be separated from God but united with God eternally.

Scripture says:

1Corinthians 15:50-57 (TLB)

I tell you this, my brothers: an earthly body made of flesh and blood cannot get into God’s Kingdom.  These perishable bodies of ours are not the right kind to live forever.

But I am telling you this strange and wonderful secret: we shall not all die, but we shall all be given new bodies!  It will all happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown.  For there will be a trumpet blast from the sky, and all the Christians who have died will suddenly become alive, with new bodies that will never, never die; and then we who are still alive shall suddenly have new bodies too.  For our earthly bodies, the ones we have now that can die, must be transformed into heavenly bodies that cannot perish but will live forever.  When this happens, then at last this Scripture will come true – “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  O death, where then your victory? Where then your sting?  For sin – the sting that causes death – will all be gone; and the law, which reveals our sins, will no longer be our judge. How we thank God for all of this!  It is he who makes us victorious through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Therefore, if you have accepted Jesus Christ, you can continue your “dress rehearsals” with a peace that surpasses all human understanding.  You never again will have to become fearful about death.

Nouthetic Confrontation

For some reason, it appears as though many Christians do not believe they can speak out against sinful thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors they see manifest in other Christian’s lives.  Well, I believe this is a dangerous position to take.

You see, desensitization to the Word of God is a dangerous thing.  Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines desensitization in this way:  to make emotionally insensitive or callous; specifically to extinguish an emotional response to stimuli that formerly induced it.  (Such as fear, anxiety, or guilt)

Now in the context of a brother or sister in Christ sinning, it is the emotional response of guilt that makes them aware of their offenses and transgressions against God and/or their neighbor.  Without guilt, a person has no ability to experience remorse, regret, or sorrow over what they have done.

Now we know that man is not perfect.  Man will always make mistakes.  Man will always fall short of God’s moral standards, so it is critical then, that man remains conscious of his shortcomings.  It is critical that man has a heart, a mind and a will to correct those shortcomings and minimize their occurrences in his life.  Desensitization to guilt prevents this from happening.

Scripture mandates every Christian to confront one another through a process of confrontation called Nouthesia.  It is a Greek noun.  It is defined in the lexical dictionary as “an admonition, a warning, or an exhortation.   Any word of encouragement or reproof which leads to correct behavior.”

Now the Bible is our utility tool, our manual, our guide for providing Nouthetic guidance because it is God’s Word of moral instruction to us as it pertains to living holy and righteous lives in the body of Christ.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us:  “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

God has given us a moral compass to use in our daily interactions with each other.  The Holy Bible. Therefore, by it, we can have accountability to one another so that we can be a “facilitory agent” in each other’s lives for spiritual growth and maturation.  Our responsibility to ourselves and to others is to live by God’s moral compass.

However, many born-again believers are failing and even running away from fulfilling this responsibility.  Instead of spiritual growth and maturation, there is spiritual retardation and adolescence as it pertains to living holy and righteous lives, because of the failure to execute nouthetic confrontation in the lives of those who demonstrate wayward actions.  They are not held accountable to the Word of God.  No one warns or admonishes them by the Word of God and consequently, they remain outside the will of God; living defeated lives with an immature faith.

Let me take a moment and show you how accountability will facilitate obedience.

If I find myself doing something that is not in accord with God’s standard, then you would be correct in saying that I am off center or missing the mark.  Now the longer I remain there, the more rooted I will become there and the more distant I will remain from God’s moral expectation of my life.

If no one confronts me for being off the mark or holds me accountable for my wayward conduct, then I will continue to be disobedient to God’s morality and will remain off center. Something has to motivate me to move back in line.  Something has to awaken my sense of guilt for being off the mark. That something is nouthetic confrontation from another brother or sister in Christ.

Proverbs 27:17 tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”.

The lexical definition of “sharpens” in this text of scripture means to make something stronger or to improve. Therefore, to state this proverb using this definition would sound like this:  “As iron strengthens and improves iron, so one man strengthens and improves another.” This is through the process of Nouthetic confrontation.

Knowing this, tell me why so many born-again believers in Jesus Christ are not confronting one another?   What is the reason for tolerating ungodliness in another Christian’s life?  Well, I believe it has to do with one of two things: either apathy or fear.

If you find that you fall into the category of apathy, then I say this to you-you are sinning against the second command given by Jesus, which states we are to “love your neighbor as yourself”.

This love is agape love.  The love that esteems others, cherishes others, favors others, honors others, respects others, accepts others, prizes others, relishes others, is devoted to others, is loyal to others, and is concerned for others.  If you are apathetic toward your neighbor how can love them in this way?

If you find that you fall into the category of the fearful who are afraid of man’s possible repercussions from confrontation, which might involve verbal accosting, ostracism or even physical assault, then I say this to you-you are not trusting God for the veracity and wisdom of his word.  You are not trusting God for the truth of his instruction.  You do not have the conviction of:

Psalm 56:3, which states, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.”

Psalm 56:4 which states, “In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?”

Or

 Psalm 118:8, which states, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

You see, to confront is to love openly.  Not to confront is to be unloving.

Proverbs 27:5 tells us “better is open rebuke than hidden love.”

Therefore, it is time you started practicing your faith and demonstrating Christian love one to another from the perspective of obedience to the mandate in Scripture of nouthetically confronting your neighbor when you see sin abound in their lives.

Let me give you one last illustration of the how the Lord expects us to love one another through nouthetic confrontation.

In the world when someone commits a crime, it is because they have done something outside the boundaries of the law. They become wanted criminals and walk around ever mindful the police are looking for them.

One day they are spotted by the police and stopped.  The officer has grounds to search them and does so by “frisking” them down to see if there are any illegal items they might be carrying on their person.  If the officer finds something, he takes it away – he confiscates it.  It is no longer in the possession of the person.

Well in the kingdom of God, we are mandated to do to each other what the police officer did to the criminal suspect.  We have been given legal grounds to “frisk” one another down.  We have been given legal grounds to use the Word of God to search for any ungodliness in the lives of one another when they have committed sin.  When we see the ungodliness, we are to be a facilitory agent in the confiscation of it.

By that, I mean we are to teach, rebuke, correct, and train in righteousness through the use of God’s instructions as mandated in the Bible; to bring to light the ungodly contraband our brother or sister may be carrying in their lives.  We are to use the authority of the Word of God when we “frisk”.  Only using the truth of the Word of God will bring conviction, and only conviction will birth the awareness of guilt that will be the catalyst for change.

If we all can become proficient in utilizing the process of Nouthetic guidance one to another, we would see great strides made in the lives of every born-again believer as it pertains to their spiritual growth and maturation in the body of Christ.