Don’t smother me, give me room to breathe

Christians are commanded to reach out to unbelievers and share the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  This is a truth stated by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew prior to His ascension into heaven.

Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)

18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

 What I find interesting is that Jesus did not tell us how to do this, He just told us to do it.

In light of this, I have seen many Christians evangelize their faith by drowning their hearers in Scripture verses. I have also seen it done by debating with the hearer.  I have seen it done by critically passing judgment on the hearer because of their unbelief.  Very rarely have I seen evangelizing done by demonstrating love to the hearer.

An unbeliever needs to be allowed to disclose their many preconceptions concerning God, life, death, sin, etc.  They need time to explain their condition to you, otherwise, they will withdraw from the discussion and you will have lost a valuable opportunity to effectively witness to them about the love of Christ.

The Bible gives us a great example of a technique we should use when speaking with an unbeliever.

Acts 17:19-23 (NIV)

19Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.” 21(All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.) 22Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.  Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”

 The Apostle Paul took time to study, observe and examine his audience in Athens.  Only when he was able to pinpoint a starting point for his dialogue with them did he present the gospel.  Because of this approach, he was able to hold their attention and “plant” the necessary seeds of the gospel message.  There is much we can learn from this approach.

When was the last time you took inventory of how you witness to an unbeliever?  Are you smothering them with information that is foreign to them?  Remember, the language of the Bible and many of the words you use are of the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this world.

Therefore, it is a foreign language most of the time to an unbeliever.

Or are you finding that you pay no attention to the sinner’s worldview; how they think and reason.  Remember, you need to let the Holy Spirit show you where the “soft” spot is in the heart of the sinner you are trying to witness to – that is your entry for the gospel.

Another point of consideration is the outcome you expect when you witness.  Is it that the hearer immediately gives their life to Christ at the conclusion of your encounter or is it that you have successfully planted or watered a seed of faith in their heart?  Remember, it is only our duty to tell them of the good news; it is God who softens their hearts and leads them to Christ.

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” 

Where Can I Find Hope?

Today’s blog is intended for those listeners who are not yet born again believers in Jesus Christ and who are diligently searching for some kind of hope in their current life situation.

I am sure that for most of this group of people, there may be some confusion or ignorance concerning God.  Many of you may have never read the Bible; or even own one for that matter.  Many have never gone to church; have never prayed; sat in on a Bible study; or even have had an opportunity to talk about faith.  For some, they may have parents who brought them up in another religion; or they may have parents who know the Lord but still refuse to follow their faith.

Regardless, you still find that you are searching for some hope.  You have come to a point in your life where you can recognize that you have a deep seated void in your soul.  Your day to day routines and the path of life you find yourself on somehow do not carry any significance anymore.  You cannot seem to find any meaningful direction; you go in and out of temporary lapses of depression and dismay; you cannot seem to find joy in life.

Yes, you have periods of happiness and laughter but there is no joy in your heart.  You keep thinking to yourself “is this all there is to life, I know there has to be something more.”

Well you are correct – there is something more – and that something is faith.  Not just any faith; but specifically, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

But before you or anyone else can be expected to have faith in Jesus Christ, you must first have faith in Almighty God.  For we are told in the Scriptures,

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

What this means is that a person must first believe that Almighty God exists.  That Almighty God is.

Now I am sure you have heard one of these following phrases sometime in your life:

  • I don’t believe in God or
  • There is no God

Well let me tell you something about these phrases. They are both proclaiming the same fact – the fact that Almighty God is; the fact that Almighty God exists.

Now I know you may be saying to yourself – how can Elder be getting that understanding from those phrases?

Well, in using these phrases the person does not mean they do not believe that “God” is; what they are saying is they do not believe “in” the God that is; or they “reject” the God that is.

You see, they are really referencing Almighty God when they make these statements because they cannot react to something that does not exist.  Nor can they refuse or reject something that is not there. That would not make any sense.  What they are doing by making these statements is expressing their decisions about a factual piece of evidence.  Either way, they are acknowledging that Almighty God is.

Scripture tells us in Romans 1:18-23

For the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.  For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images make to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

So you see, as much as you may want to deny the fact that God really does exist, you cannot change the evidence He presents to you.

In line with this, is the evidence God presents concerning Jesus Christ.  Before we can go any further you must first understand the relevance of Jesus Christ, both to the world and most importantly to you.  Here are three things you need to consider:

First consideration is that you must trust in what God says about Jesus Christ.

God says that you have been born with a sinful nature.  That you come into this world separated from Him.  For many, this is a difficult truth to accept; yet it is still a truth.  You come into this world not in fellowship with God.  You come into this world under His condemnation.  Your position of separation and your condition of condemnation is the result of sin that occurred in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.

You are the inheritor of Adam’s sinful nature and only Jesus Christ can change that fact for the better.  Scripture tells us  in Romans 5:18-21 that:

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men.  For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.  The law was added so that the trespass might increase.  But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Second consideration is that Jesus Christ did what you could not do.

He paid the penalty for the sin of Adam.  He appeased the wrath of God’s judgment in order to give man the opportunity to be reconciled and reunited with God.  Scripture tells us in the Gospel of John 3:16-18 and verse 36:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.

You see, Jesus quieted God’s anger.  Jesus gave God the justice He required for the sin committed against Him.  Jesus put himself in your place and brought reconciliation between you and God by dying on the cross and shedding His blood for the forgiveness of sin.

Third consideration is what are you going to do about Jesus Christ?

If you want to get your life in order, then you need Jesus Christ to become your Lord and Savior.  Jesus explained it this way to Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council in John 3:3, 5-6:

I tell you the truth; no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.  I tell you the truth; no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.

If you are sensing that you are being drawn to God then know that the Scriptures are true when they say in John 6:44-45: that

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day.  It is written in the Prophets, they will all be taught by God.  Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.

So it is imperative that you follow your heart and come to Jesus.  Confess that He is Lord and believe in your heart that he was raised from the dead by the Father.  Call on Him now.  He is standing at the door to your heart and He is knocking.  Let Him in, know that Jesus loves you with an eternal love and that He will forgive you of your sin, and give you the gift of eternal life.  He will cleanse your heart and regenerate your spirit.  He will place God’s Spirit in you the moment you do what Romans 10:9-10, 13 instructs:

That if you confess with your mouth, Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.  Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

So if you have just done what God requires for salvation, know that you serve a risen Lord.  Jesus is alive and well.  He sits at the right Hand of the Father in heaven with all power and authority and He promises you that he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Welcome to the family of God.

Beware of the teaching…

Read this passage of Scripture carefully before you proceed:

Matthew 16:5-12 (NASB): 

5 And the disciples came to the other side and had forgotten to take bread.  6 And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 7 And they began to discuss among themselves, saying, “It is because we took no bread.”8 But Jesus, aware of this, said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? 9 “Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets you took up? 10 “Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets you took up? 11 “How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread?  But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” 12 Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. 

Consider this:

In the climate of Christianity today there is much “teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees” going on.  By this I mean there is a myriad of teaching going on in various denominations that are not truly reflective of God’s perfect will as it pertains to man’s final destiny.

We must all be cognizant of the warning of Christ to His disciples concerning the teaching that was coming from the two most influential denominations in His time.  He warned them of the (leaven) being taught; the untruths of God’s message, direction, purpose and plan for unredeemed man.

What Jesus was saying is there is only one gospel message of salvation, redemption, reconciliation, atonement, forgiveness and eternal life; and there is only one body of Christ – His Church.

We live in an era where there has been an exponential growth in the number of Christian denominations since the time of Christ’s ministry on earth.  The batch is therefore larger and the false teachings (leaven)  is more pronounced.

Therefore, train yourself to search the Scriptures and evaluate any and all messages presented to you concerning your need for an eternal relationship with the Godhead.  Be sure that the message of Christ is crystal clear, for it is not the message from any man-derived denomination that matters – it is the truth of God that matters.

Therefore, train yourself to put to the test what you hear being taught to you about salvation, redemption, reconciliation, atonement, forgiveness and eternal life by filtering that message through the Word of God and prayer.

Remember what the Apostle Paul said to the Church at Ephesus:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.  Ephesians 4:4-6 (NASB)