Arminian Today

A Jesus-Centered Arminian Blog

Archive for the ‘Glory to God’ Category

Longing For A Sweet Spirit

I know several brothers in the Lord who have sweet spirits.  They are delightful to be around.  They glow with love for others, are full of joy, and pour blessings onto others.  I want that.

My own temperament is typically laid back, discerning (though I fear sometimes I am just plain critical), and often opinionated especially about theology.  I am not argumentative contrary to what you might read.  I don’t enjoy fighting.  I would rather just talk.  When I feel threatened, my face gets red (cursedness of being a white man).  My boys have watched me debating someone and they always say that I look mad, that my face is red like fire.

I want a sweet spirit.  I’m not sure how to cultivate that.  I have prayed about this before.  I want to be loving and kind.

When I was in full-time pastoral ministry, I was more or less a jerk.  I admit that now.  In those days I thought I was just being “biblical” and standing my ground for the truth.  It was others who rejected God’s truth but not me!  I heard a brother say once that it is better to be righteous than to be right.  I wish I would have lived those words.  I would use the pulpit to beat others up (not by name but by my teaching).  I was right.  Everyone else was wrong.  I was not loving and kind.  I was mean.  No wonder I was “let go” from my position.

Having been out of “ministry” for over 10 years now, I see my errors.  I am not writing this for sympathy or to beat myself up.  I am done doing that.  I am writing to confess before the Lord my desire to be like Him.  Yes at times the Lord can be angry but His anger is not based on sin or pride.  The Lord’s anger is a pure hatred of sin.

This leads me to the gospel.  I look back at my past 20+ years of being a Christian and I see all the sins I have committed, all the times I have failed the Lord.  I see how I failed him while I was serving in full-time pastoral ministry.  Yet I am so grateful that He never gave up on me.  The Lord Jesus could have cast me aside (as I would have long ago) but He has not.  Jesus has been faithful to me.  He has provided for me and for my family.  Most of all, the Lord Jesus has been my Savior through  all this.  The Lord knows how many times I have prayed Psalm 51:1-2 or 1 John 1:9?  The Lord knows how many times I have failed Him yet He has never failed me (2 Timothy 2:13).

The gospel teaches me that yes I am a sinner.  No doubts there (Romans 3:10-18).  Yet in Christ Jesus I am saved and forgiven and declared righteous before a holy God (Romans 3:22-27).  My salvation is not me saving myself from myself but God saving me from Himself (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).  The gospel teaches me that my temperament can be transformed but only by the work of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).  In my flesh, I cannot please God (Romans 8:8).  No matter how much I try,  I will never be perfect, will never do enough to please God (Isaiah 64:6).  The gospel teaches me that Jesus alone is my salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31) and He alone is my mediator before the Father (Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25).  I am not lost today only because of the grace of God given freely to me in Christ Jesus my Lord (Romans 6:23).

I am so thankful for these small reminders of the faithfulness of God.  I am far from perfect.  Very, very far!  But I trust in the perfect Savior who can save me perfectly (Philippians 1:6).

Thank you Lord Jesus for Your salvation and Your forgiveness!  Where would I be without You?

Like the Persistent Asking of a Desperate Beggar

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” 2 And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread,
4 and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
5 And he said to them, “Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, 6 for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; 7 and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? 8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs.

– Luke 11:1-8

Persistence in prayer is something I think many of us need.  I know I do.  My prayer life tends to go up and down depending on many issues.  There have been seasons of prayer in my life where I was praying earnestly and full of faith.  Then there are times of prayerlessness.

In Luke 11 we find the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray.  He gives them a model of prayer in verses 2-4 which are similar though not the same as Matthew 6:9-13.  The New King James along with the KJV add words to make these two texts match.  Most Greek texts do not have these additions.  I think this is important because the “Lord’s prayer” is not a magical prayer meant to be uttered and repeated over and over again.  The Lord Jesus is teaching His disciples a model prayer.  Prayer is not just reciting words.  Prayer is not just reading prayers.  Prayer flows from the child of God to our Father who hears our cries.  The disciples surely knew this having watched the Lord Jesus pray.  It was His prayer life that they asked for Him to teach them.  Not His miracles.  Not His teaching style.  Not His leadership style.  It was the prayer life of our Lord that the disciples saw and asked Him to teach them about.

I have been around saints of God who knew how to pray.   They would walk and talk with God all the day (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  There was a persistence in their prayer life that was continually.  They walked with God like Enoch of old (Genesis 5:24).  Prayer was like breathing to many of these saints of God.  I have heard the stories of the great prayer warriors such as Leonard Ravenhill and E.M. Bounds.  I have heard of the prayer life of David Brainerd and David Livingstone.  I have heard of the prayer lives of John Wesley and George Whitefield.  Their ministries were marked with souls but also with prayer.  Wesley would often rise up early in the morning before the sun came up to pray.  Martin Luther would labor for hours in prayer.

Where are the men of prayer today?  In fact, many of the intercessors I know of are women.  I praise God for them.  I thank God for godly women who pray like Hannah in 1 Samuel 2:1-10.  The Holy Spirit placed women among the Apostles as they waited for the promise of the Father in Acts 1:14.  These women were praying along with the men of God. We need mighty women of God.  But where are the men who pray?  Where are the men known for their prayer lives and the ministries marked by prayer?

Our Lord teaches us here in Luke 11 that prayer is to be marked with persistence (v.8).  The ESV translates the word as “impudence.”  I like the old KJV here as it translates it “importunity.”  The MacArthur Study Bible states it like this:

It conveys the ideas of urgency, audacity, earnestness, boldness, and relentlessness – like the persistence asking of a desperate beggar.

I like that image.  Beggars tend to just ask and then move along.  They don’t tend to be very persistent.  Jesus states that we are to be persistence in our praying.  It is not because God is not willing to hear us nor answer us.  In fact, that is the opposite of what Jesus is saying.  Our Father hears us and He knows our needs.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:8 that our Father knows what we need even before we ask Him.  If a friend will get up to give to the beggar what he needs, how much more will our Father give us what we need?

The balance is to pray the will of God.  The Lord Jesus is not saying that if we are persistent in asking for something, God will relent and give in.  As we pray the will of the Father, the Father hears us and He answers according to His will (1 John 5:14-15).  Jesus said that He always did the will of Him who sent Him (John 6:38).  Jesus prayed to be close to His Father and to do His will.  Jesus submitted Himself completely to the Father to do His will (Hebrews 5:7-10).

As we persist in prayer, we are submitting our selves to God.  We want to do His will.  Prayer prepares us to do that will.  When we truly pray, we are wanting to honor the Lord and to bring glory to Him.  This is not about us.  This isn’t praying about foolish things.  This is about praying for the glory and honor God.  This is gospel-centered praying.  Like beggars, we know that our Father is the best and He is our reward.  This is not about finding bread.  This is about finding and seeking the One who gives us bread.

Finally, a word about praying.  I don’t want condemnation to come over you.  I have lived before under condemnation about prayer.  When I was in college I read that if a minister doesn’t pray for two hours a day, they are not worth a dime a dozen.  I wept at that because I was not praying for two hours a day so I made up my mind to pray for two hours a day.  I was a failure to say the least.  My “prayer life” was more about staring at the clock to get in my two hours.  At one point I was up to praying an hour a day but I was not praying.  I was hitting the clock.  I was doing my praying for others to notice my “prayer life.”  I wanted others to pat me on the back for my prayer life.  I look back now with sadness on those times.  My prayer times were not powerful times with the Lord.  They were just words uttered for others to notice me (Matthew 6:5).

I long to just walk with God now.  I long to talk to Him like a friend, like a brother, like a father.  My little boys can just cry out and I’ll run to them.  They don’t have to say over and over again “Daddy” for me to run.  If they were in trouble, I would not come to them and say, “Do you really believe I am able to help you?  Seems to me that you haven’t been talking to me much and so I’m going to leave you be.”  No!  I help my boys because I love my boys and I want what is best for them.  The same is true of God our Father.

Hebrews 4:14-16 is so precious to me now.  My prayer life will never match the Lord Jesus’ prayer life.  He was perfect in every single way.  He bore my sins including my prayerlessness.  I am not advocating laziness in prayer.  Luke 11:1-8 shatters that.  There is a persistence in prayer lives.  In fact, Luke 11:9-10 speaks of this persistence further:

9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.

But the balance of this is to see that our Father is good and He wants to answer our prayers as the Lord Jesus states in verses 11-13 where He contrasts our earthly fathers with our heavenly Father:

11 What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; 12 or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

If our earthly fathers would not be evil toward us (we hope), will our heavenly Father be evil toward us?  Of course not!  Our Father is good and He is loving and kind.  The Lord Jesus demonstrated that perfect love (Romans 5:8-9).

The gospel enables us to pray.  We don’t come before our Father with our righteousness.  We come in the name of Jesus who is our salvation, our righteousness before a holy God (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).  We come in the name of Jesus because He is our high priest before the Father (Hebrews 10:10-14).  We come in the name of Jesus because He is our advocate and our friend (John 14:12-14).  Through the Lord Jesus, we are able to approach the throne of God and He hears our cries.

I rejoice in the Lord that He hears our prayers!  May God be glorified through the prayers of the saints of God (Revelation 5:8).

Seeing “Us” in Scripture

I enjoy Chris Rosebrough and his podcast “Fighting for the Faith.”  Chris often uses satire and comedy to point out false teachers and teachings.  His podcast often has sermon reviews of both good and bad sermons and Chris will point out why they are that.  I am often amazed at what passes for sermons these days.  Much of what seems to be coming out of the seeker church is not even close to true biblical teaching.  It is more or less about “us.”  It is man-centered to its core.

I have written often on the need for expository teaching and more sound doctrine being preached.  Just this week while working I was pondering why people enjoy attending seeker churches where doctrine is minimized and those who desire to go “deeper” with their faith are criticized.  I want to ask them, “How can you sit under this guy and learn anything?  What has he taught you that brought you closer to Christ, deeper in your theological understanding of the gospel?”  Heck, most of the teachers Chris plays on his podcast have no gospel understanding.  The seeker churches are just “say this prayer and become a Christian” as their gospel.

I subscribe to a local church here in my city that has been sucking people from the more traditional churches (mainly Baptist churches) for some time.  They started at about 50 people or so and today have over 1000.  Because of their growth, church leaders often avoid criticizing them because of their growth.  They are instead esteemed.  I point out that growth is no indicator of truth.  Look at the cults.  Look at Islam.  Truth is not pragmatic.  Truth is truth and God’s Word declares the truth of God (John 17:17).  Jesus said that He is the truth (John 14:6).  God has given us His truth through His Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).  We need no other “truth.”  Yet many are unwilling to take the truth of the Bible and examine the teachings of large seeker churches because of their numbers.

Each week I get their Sunday services on my podcasts.  I listen to their sermons.  Why?  Because I want to know if they are preaching truth.  Often they are not.  In fact, they often are preaching nothing at all.  They are currently preaching through John but they are not expository nor are they dealing with their text.  They often just read the text and fill in stories about themselves or others to pass the time.  They are not false teachers.  They are “un-teachers.”  They are teaching neither bad doctrine nor good.  They are teaching nothing.  They just focus on “us.”

This is true nearly of all seeker churches that I know.  The focus is on “us” and not Jesus.  The gospel is not about the glory of God, the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, His sacrifice for our sins, along with His death, burial, and bodily resurrection from the dead where He now sits at the right hand of God to pray for us.  No!  The “gospel” of seeker churches is on “us.”  It is about “us” and our glory.  The gospel of seeker churches is about Jesus coming to give us an “abundant life” or to give us a “hope and a future” (both John 10:10 and Jeremiah 29:11 are seriously abused and destroyed there).

Just this past week I listened to two seeker churches Resurrection Day services.  Both were focused on “us.”  The gospel was not taught.  The focus was not on the bodily resurrection of Jesus from the dead.  The focus was on God resurrecting your dreams.  Neither church preached repentance for the forgiveness of our sins (Luke 24:47).  Neither church even mentioned repentance at all.  Both did mention sin but only in passing.  Sin is what keeps us down, what keeps us from reading our potential.  Gone is the truth of the gospel of repentance.

The gospel is not lost.  It is easily found in the Bible.  One can skip it.  One can downplay it.  But one cannot ignore it altogether.  Just reading the New Testament brings us face to face with our sins, with our inability to save ourselves by our good works, with the fact that we are enemies of God because of our rebellion against His law (Romans 3:19-20).  We find that our world is not getting better by works of the flesh but we realize that we must repent of our sins if we are to have peace with God (Acts 2:37-39; 3:19-20).  We find that repentance brings salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).  We find that Christ alone saves us from the wrath of God by His grace and mercy (Romans 5:1).  The gospel is focused on the person and work of the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 1:3-14 and notice how many times “He” is mentioned and we are not).  Salvation is not accomplished by making amends or trying harder or your good deeds (Romans 4:5; Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  Salvation is the gracious work of God wrought in us by His Spirit through the saving work of the Lord Jesus.

Until next time, keep loving and living in the gospel.

Barabbas Instead of Jesus

I can’t get away from the account in the Gospels about Barabbas.  This story intrigues me because I see in it the beauty of the substitutionary atonement that Jesus provides for our salvation.   This is a pivotal point of Christianity that runs across the board.  Christians have always held that Jesus died for us, that He died for our sins.  Paul the Apostle states it clearly in 1 Corinthians 15:3 that Christ died for our sins.  He repeats this in Galatians 1:4.  Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:24 that Christ bore our sins in His body on the tree.

The Lord Jesus died for our sins.  We can debate the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and His obedience to the Father but we cannot debate that Christ shed His blood for our forgiveness and that He died in our place.  He was condemned so that we might be saved by the grace of God through faith in the Lord Jesus (Ephesians 2:1-9).  Paul states that we redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses (Ephesians 1:7).  Hebrews 9:22 states that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness.  Our salvation is based on the Lord Jesus and what He did on the cross by dying for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

In Matthew 27 we see a  beautiful picture of this substitutionary work of Christ.  Here we find Pilate asking the Jews which they want him to release to them: Barabbas (an insurrectionists and murderer) or Jesus the Messiah (Matthew 27:17).  The crowd cries for Barabbas (Matthew 27:20).  Pilate asks them again and they again want Barabbas (Matthew 27:21) to which the crowd asks for Jesus to be crucified (Matthew 27:22-23).  Pilate washes his hands of this murder of Jesus (Matthew 27:24) and the people cry that they want His blood to be upon them (Matthew 27:25) to which Pilate releases Jesus to be crucified (Matthew 27:26).

What I find amazing about this account is that the crowd asks for Barabbas instead of Jesus.  They even want His blood to be upon them and their children.  They were speaking prophetically.  They were simply asking for what the Jews had asked for when they offered up the Passover lamb (Exodus 12:21-27).  Paul the Apostle wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:7 that Christ is our Passover Lamb.  Jesus is the Lamb of God (John 1:29) who is without blemish or spot (1 Peter 1:19).  Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for our sins because He was perfect and He died in our place, condemned for our sins but bore our sins on the cross.  The guilty sinner (Romans 3:23) can now look to the Lamb of God to be saved (Isaiah 45:22).

This salvation is based not on our works but upon the work of Christ alone (Titus 3:5-7).  What could be do to appease the wrath of God?  What works could be possibly do to merit eternal life?  Can we keep the law of God perfectly?  Can we live our entire lives free from sin, completely obedient to the will of a holy and perfect God?  If someone says they can they are lying.  None can (Proverbs 20:9).

I have met people before who claim to never sin.  They will even tell me the date the last time they sinned and claim that they have not sinned since in word, thought, or deed.  I find that alarming.  I confess my weaknesses.  I am not perfect by far.  Ask my wife and she could name hundreds of my sins.  No I don’t wake up going out looking to sin or looking to disobey the Lord but I confess that I have not walked perfectly with the Lord.  I have fallen short many times.  I have not loved God perfectly nor have I obeyed Him perfectly.

This makes me so thankful for the crowd asking for Barabbas instead of Jesus.  I am Barabbas.  My heart has been wicked before God.  I have not been perfect as He requires (Matthew 5:48).  I have sinned (Romans 3:10-18).  But thanks be to God for the gift of His Son (John 3:16).  Jesus died for my sins.  Barabbas could not save for he was guilty of great sins.  Yet the Lord in His sovereignty allowed the hardened Jews to choose Barabbas (who is me) instead of Christ.  Jesus thus died in my place and in the place of Barabbas.  Jesus bore the sins of Barabbas as well as the sins of sins of the world (1 John 2:1-2).

My heart now longs to please God.  Not out of legalism.  Not out of bondage.  But my heart longs now to worship and please the Lord because of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Because of what Jesus did for me by dying in my place and taking my condemnation, I now rejoice in this great salvation, this great grace!  I pray because I am so thankful for what Jesus has done.  I long to see others saved because of what Jesus has done.  I long to praise my God because of what Jesus has done.  This salvation is all of Jesus and my boasting is only in the Lord Jesus who died for my sins (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

I often have read the story of Barabbas and wonder what happened to him.  Church tradition is that Barabbas did get saved and became a great preacher of the gospel.  How could he not?  He watched with his own eyes as the people chose him (and he knew he was guilty) for the Lord Jesus who had never sinned.  I am sure Barabbas had heard of Jesus maybe even heard Him preach.  I tend to believe tradition at this point and believe that Barabbas became a great preacher of the gospel.  His testimony would have been powerful as he told how Jesus took His place and was crucified on the cross where he should have died.

The story use to make me weep at the crowds choosing Barabbas.  I would talk to my Bible and say, “No, let Jesus go free.”  Yet I know that without the cross, I have no salvation (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  The gospel rises and falls on Jesus taking our place.  Jesus fulfilled the words of Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 53 and He suffered in our place.

Thanks be to God!

God’s Love for a Little Jungle Pastor: A Clip from Paul Washer

I saw this excerpt clip from a larger sermon by Paul Washer about a month ago and for some reason I’ve been thinking about this. I hope you watch it, it’s short enough (6 minutes).   It made me think a lot about the incredible need for good biblical resources for pastors and church leaders […]

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/gods-love-for-a-little-jungle-pastor-a-clip-from-paul-washer/

Written by The Seeking Disciple

03/17/2016 at 11:37 AM

Being Careful With the Love of God

The love of God is a biblical truth.  I adore the God of the Bible because He has revealed Himself as loving and good.  Psalm 145:8 says that God is abounding in steadfast love.  1 John 4:8 says that God is love.  Some believe that love is an attribute of God.  However, I agree with others such as A.W. Tower who said that love flows from God and is part of His personage.  Love then is not an attribute of God but is freely given by Him toward His creation.  Truth is said to be a part of God but we would not say that truth is an attribute of God nor should we say this about God’s love.  God loves because He chooses to love.  God has demonstrated His love toward us sinners by the giving of His Son (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

I do think that we can make too much about the love of God.  Of course, I rejoice that God is love.  I rejoice that God has sent His Son to die for our sins and to rise again on the third day where the Son now sits at the Father’s right hand till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  I rejoice that the Christian message is one of love as we point to the cross as the greatest example of true love (Galatians 2:20).  I rejoice that God has revealed His great love for us sinners (1 John 4:10).  This love should flow from God into our lives and we in turn are to love others (1 John 4:11).  Jesus said that loving others was the second greatest commandment (Matthew 22:39).  Jesus said that His disciples would be marked by loving others (John 13:34-35).  He told His disciples in Matthew 5:43-48 that we were to be perfect in love as our Father is.  John Wesley defined this love as “perfected love that flows from the God of love.”  Wesley said that this type of love can only be found in the grace of God and His Spirit working within us to perfect this love.  Perfect in love then was Wesley’s preferred term for entire sanctification (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

The love of God drips from the pages of the Bible.  We see God’s love demonstrated toward Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:14-15, 21).   We see God’s love in the calling out of the Israelites from Egypt into the promised land.  God Himself even says that it was His love that motivated Him to choose Israel and not because of the Israelites themselves (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).  It was the love of God that called the prophets in the Old Testament to call His people to repentance (see Hosea as an example).  It was the love of God that motivated Him to promise the Messiah and then to send His one and only Son to earth (Isaiah 9:6-7; Matthew 1:23; John 1:1, 14, 17).  Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14) and He fully revealed God to us (John 14:9).  Jesus never said He was the Father nor did He say He was the Spirit but instead He fully revealed the fullness of God to us (Colossians 2:9).  Jesus is the exact representation of God (Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:3).  What do we see when we see Jesus?  We see Him “doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil” (Acts 10:38).  We see Jesus coming not to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).  We see Jesus coming to call sinners to repentance (Luke 19:10).  We see Jesus telling the Pharisees that God goes looking for the one sheep out of the ninety-nine who turns and is lost (Luke 15:1-7).

There is no doubt that God is love.  There is no doubt that Jesus has revealed the love of God.  There is no doubt that Jesus shows us that God is good and that He desires all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:5-6; 2 Peter 3:9).  There is no doubt that the love of God flows throughout the Bible.

But I do want to place a warning.  Just a fire across the bow if you will.  Again, I am one of those who gladly preaches the love of God.  I gladly preach Arminianism because I see that the love of God is limited in Calvinism.  In fact, I don’t see a loving God when I study Calvinism but instead I see the overwhelming issue being either the sovereignty of God (in this case the all-power of God in Calvinism) or the glory of God (wherein God must determine all things lest He share His glory).  The love of God is seen as a part of God’s sovereignty either in choosing the elect by arbitrary means rather than love but in some form of love nonetheless or the love of God is seen as part of His glory.  Calvinism diminishes the love of God by failing to proclaim the truth of the unlimited atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Oh yes, His atonement is infinite in value and could atone for the sins of the world but instead the sovereign God has chosen that He will place His love only on the elect.  To me, this doesn’t match either the biblical view of God as loving and good nor does it fit with the parables of Jesus such as found in Luke 10:25-37.

Let me fire this shot though across the bow.  This is a friendly shot to us Arminians.  I do believe in the love of God but let us not exalt the love of God above other truths about God.  For example, God’s wrath or God’s justice or His holiness.  The open theist, in my estimation and I know I have some brothers and sisters who read this blog who are open theists, elevate the love of God above all other truth about God.  The same might could be said about the conditional immortality holders (whom I likewise regard as brethren in the kingdom).  Others want to lift up the transcendence of God.  Some want to exalt the power of God (my charismatic brethren might fall here).

My point is that we must seek balance.  There is no doubt that God is love.  There is no doubt also that God is holy.  There is no doubt that God is sovereign.  There is no doubt that God is powerful and He does hear our cries and can demonstrate His power.  Yet we tend to uplift the truth about God that we love the most.  Arminians might be guilty of doing this with God’s love.  Calvinists might be guilty of exalting the sovereignty of God (or actually the omnipotence of God).  I pray that we would simply make sure that when we preach that we don’t make a god in our image.  This is what cults do.  Their gods are figured out but our God is beyond our understanding.  God has revealed Himself in the Bible but not exhaustively.

I pray that we preach to sinners both the love of God (that He has demonstrated His love toward sinners through the cross) and the wrath of God against sin (Romans 1:18).  Both are true.  God loves but God also hates.  God cannot tolerate sin in His presence so let us preach the truth of His holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16).  Let us preach that God desires the sinner to come to repentance but let us also preach that all who reject His love remain under His just wrath (John 3:36).

I rejoice in the love of God, the goodness of God, the grace of God.  I also preach the biblical truths of His holiness, His justice, His sovereignty, His transcendence, His wrath.  May we be balanced in our preaching.

Let the Gospel Upset People, Not Us

There is no denying that the gospel makes people upset.  I have watched it with my own eyes as I explained the gospel to a lost person and then they turn into this ugly, ranting, mean-spirited person who hates God and hates the gospel.  Up until I explained the law of God, they were pretty nice to me and were cordial but when I begin to explain the justice of God Almighty in pouring out His wrath on humans who violate His just laws, it was here they turned on me.  People hate the gospel and more than that, they hate the God of the Bible (Romans 1:18-19).

With this in mind, I pray that we who preach the gospel to the lost would remember that people can get upset with the gospel or with God but let it be because of the truth of the gospel and not us that make them mad.  In other words, yelling a person or simply calling them names is not befitting for the disciple.  I seek to be a 2 Timothy 2:24-26 model when it comes to evangelism.  2 Timothy 2:24-26 reads (NIV):

24 And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25 Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26 and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.

Notice verse 25.  Opponents are to be gently instructed.  This is not yelling at them.  Pointing a finger at them.  Accusing them.  This is preaching the gospel to the them in grace and love.  1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV) expounds:

15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Notice that Peter the Apostle says that we are to give our answer for the gospel with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience.  And he adds that people are to see our good behavior in Christ.  I pray that the crowds who hear us preach in the open air would see our good behavior in Christ as we deal with mockers.  I pray that those whom we give out tracts to would see our gentleness and respect.  I pray that those who are offended would be offended at the gospel and not at us.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:21 that God saves people through the folly of what we preach.  Let that be true.  May it not that people see us as the folly by our actions.  They may think the gospel foolish and they may think we are foolish for preaching, handing out tracts, standing with a cross, etc. but let it be the gospel that they find foolish and perhaps our actions for the gospel but not our own foolishness in our yelling, hurling insults, etc.

I write this because I rejoice that so many people are now rising up to preach the gospel in the open air.  There are more street preachers today than ever.  More people are going out to hand out tracts.  I rejoice that there are many people who are becoming passionate to share the gospel with the lost.  But let it be that our hearts are broken for the lost (Romans 10:1) and that our burden comes from the Lord (Matthew 9:37-38).  Let it not be our pride that drives us out to preach.  Let it not be our own self-righteousness that drives us out to preach.  Let us plead with the lost through tears.  Let us preach the gospel and leave the results to the Lord.  Let us exalt Christ and not ourselves in our preaching and pleading (2 Corinthians 4:5).  Oh may people leave our preaching angry at God or angry at the gospel but let them not take offense because of our actions toward them!  Let us preach the gospel remembering that we too once were just as lost, just as dead in our sins, just as blinded as they are now (2 Corinthians 4:4; Titus 3:1-3).  It was the mercy of God that saved us (Ephesians 2:4).  Take no pride in your salvation but humble yourself before the Lord (Romans 11:20-22).  Remember your chains that He broke off.  Don’t allow pride to rob you of exalting Christ even in the midst of harsh opposition to the gospel (1 Peter 4:12-19).

%d bloggers like this: