Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Gospel Preaching

Defining the Gospel

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also. 9 For I am the least of the apostles, and not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 11 Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

– 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 (NASB)

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  But what is the gospel?  I have attended many churches over the years but few ever spent much time actually breaking down what the gospel is or is not.  Some say they preach the gospel each and every week but all they mean by this is that they offer “the sinner’s prayer” for salvation at the end of their sermons.  Few really grasp the gospel.

Asking people what is the gospel is also difficult.  People just don’t know.  Depending on their church, they might define the gospel as Jesus dying for our sins, good works for people, or a host of other statements.  The gospel, biblically defined, is often not taught in many churches.

Over the past few years we have seen an influx of “gospel centered” ministries.  We now view everything as “a gospel issue.”  Whether it be work, sex, marriage, sports, entertainment, etc. everything is now said to be a “gospel issue.”  We have groups such as “The Gospel Coalition” or “Together For The Gospel” but is the gospel the main focus?  Are we really together for the gospel?  How many people even grasp what the gospel is?

In 1 Corinthians 15 we have Paul the Apostle defining the gospel.  He states in verse 1 that he wants to remind the Corinthians of the gospel which he preached to them and which they received.  He states in verse 2  that this gospel is what saved them.  In verse 3 Paul states that this gospel is of first importance meaning that this message takes preeminence above everything else that could be taught.  This gospel came not from men but from God (Galatians 1:11-12).

What then is the essence of the gospel?  Paul tells us in verses 3-5:

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

Notice Paul’s movements here.  First, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures.  This is important.  Paul is not moving beyond what has been written beforehand in the Old Testament.  The Old Testament prophesied that Christ would die.  Jesus Himself taught His disciples from the Old Testament about Himself after His resurrection (Luke 24:44-48).  The Apostles were eye-witnesses to Jesus’ resurrection and they took not just His resurrection but the Old Testament texts and began to preach the gospel.  The Book of Acts records the Apostles preaching of the work of the Lord Jesus and it is clear that they took the Master’s teaching from the Old Testament and taught about Him to the lost.

All of this, the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus is based on the Old Testament.  The foundation for solid gospel preaching is not rooted in experience but in the Scriptures.  This was the apostolic authority and is ours as well (2 Timothy 3:15-17).  Peter the Apostle states we have a more sure word (2 Peter 1:16-21) because of the Scriptures.

So our preaching should be based on the apostolic authority of the Bible.  The gospel flows from Scripture and is focused on the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The gospel focuses on the fact that Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  He was buried and He was raised for our justification (Romans 4:24-25).

Sadly this gospel is often lacking in many churches.  I download a local seeker sensitive church to hear what they are preaching these days.  Each week my iPhone downloads their Sunday service.  What do I get to hear?  The gospel?  Sadly no.  I hear positive twists on texts and I hear a lot of talk about how God wants to bless us, use us, and work through us to touch our neighbors but I don’t hear the gospel.  Sometimes sin is mentioned or repentance but little is said about the gospel.  Sometimes the “sinner’s prayer” is offered and I assume they think that is the gospel but I don’t hear anything of 1 Corinthians 15:1-11.

We must see how the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and all through the Bible impacts our lives.  I could write for days on this one issue but on a surface level, the gospel daily reveals to me that it was my sins that Christ died for.  This is clear in verse 3.  My sins.  I see my sins all the time.  My sins scream at me like demons hiding in the shadows.  My sins torment me in my dreams.  My sins are easy to find and easy to see.  But the gospel shouts to me that Christ died for my sins (Galatians 1:4).  My sins are not erased by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9).   My sins are not washed away by penance.  My sins are not taken away by my own self-reformation.  My sins are only washed away through the blood of Jesus that He shed on the cross for my salvation (Matthew 26:28; Acts 13:38-39; Romans 3:24-25; 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 10:4; 1 John 1:7).  The death of Jesus on the cross speaks to my sins and while my sins condemn me, the Lord Jesus saves me not because of what I have done but because of His grace alone (Titus 3:5-7).

The gospel is not just Jesus’ death for my sins.  Without the resurrection, we are still dead in our sins (1 Corinthians 15:16-17).  Paul wrote in Romans 4:24-25:

24 but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25 He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.

Without the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, there is no forgiveness of our sins.  That Christ died would prove nothing.  If Jesus is not raised from the dead then He died just like we will die.  But the Bible says that Jesus is risen from the dead.  A cursory reading of the Book of Acts shows not just the fact that Jesus died on the cross but that He was raised from the dead.  All four Gospels record the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  This is the main focus of the Christian message:  Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

How does this impact me?  Why is this part of the gospel?  Well again if Jesus is not risen, we are still dead in our sins.  But if Jesus is alive (and He is!) then we can be saved through faith in Him just as He said (John 5:24-25).  The focal point of John 20:31 is true:  Jesus is worthy of worship and praise as the One who shed His blood for our salvation and was raised for our justification.  Because of Christ, my sins are forgiven and I have peace with God through Him (Romans 5:1).  I have One who sits at God’s mighty right hand for my salvation (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25).  Jesus is now my faithful high priest who prays for me before the Father as my intercessor, my advocate (Hebrews 4:14; 1 John 2:1-2).  1 Timothy 2:5 states that Jesus is our mediator before our holy God.

This is the gospel.  The gospel is not self-reformation.  The gospel is not about trying harder.  The gospel is about the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus all according to the Scriptures.  Jesus is the One who was prophesied about in Isaiah 53:

Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

2 For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

3 He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.

6 All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.

7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

9 His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

10 But the Lord was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

11 As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.

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.

The Gospel Plus Nothing Else

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16).  The gospel is focused on the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in shedding His blood for our sins (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; Galatians 1:4).  The gospel is about the wrath of God being satisfied through the offering of the Lord Jesus for our sins for everyone who repents and believes the gospel (Romans 5:1-11).  We can add nothing to the gospel nor take anything from it lest we fall under the condemnation of Paul the Apostle (Galatians 1:6-9).

Why then should we add to the gospel by adding works as part of the message?  Why add that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus but add you must be baptized in this church or you must do this or that?  When we add to the work of Christ, we take away the work of Christ (John 6:29).  The finished work of Christ is done (Hebrews 10:10, 14).  Hebrews 7:27 says that Christ offered Himself up “once for all.”  This work of salvation is complete.  There is nothing to add to this work.  We are now saved from the wrath of God though faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and by His grace alone through faith alone (Titus 3:5-7).

We need not add our theological systems in there either.  I know of a brother who once preached for all to come and repent and be saved (Revelation 22:17).  He gladly preached repentance to all people (Acts 17:30-31).  He called all to believe the gospel and be saved (1 Corinthians 1:21).  Yet somewhere along the way the guy started saying privately at first that only true Christians were Calvinists.  He then went public with his views and begin to rebuke anyone who was not a Calvinist saying that only Calvinists preach the gospel and only Calvinists are truly saved.  He now denies fellowship with anyone who is not a Calvinist and his acid test for true faith is Calvinism.

That is adding to the work of Christ.  If you have to say, “Repent and believe in the gospel but also believe in Calvinism as well to be saved” then you have added to the gospel and have denied the power of the gospel.  The gospel is not about Arminius or Wesley or Edwards or Spurgeon or MacArthur.  The gospel is all about Jesus as Lord.  The true disciple of Jesus (whether Arminian or not) professes the Lordship of Jesus and loves Him above all (Romans 10:9-13).  The disciple of Jesus is fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:1-2) since He is our salvation (1 Corinthians 1:30-31).

The gospel then is not about Jesus plus your goodness.  It is not about Jesus plus you must believe in unconditional election to be saved.  The gospel is all about Jesus and what He has already done in saving lost sinners (Luke 19:10).  This gospel produces godly repentance which leads to salvation (2 Corinthians 7:10).  This is the will of God (2 Peter 3:9).

So my friends let us all preach Jesus plus nothing else.  Let us not preach Jesus plus our isms or Jesus plus our church or Jesus plus faith in our favorite theologian or preacher.  Let us preach Jesus!  He alone is worthy!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

01/31/2016 at 5:01 PM

Testimonies Change, The Gospel Remains the Same

When teaching people how to share the gospel with the lost, I have noticed that there is often an emphasis placed on personal testimonies for sharing Christ with the lost (or unchurched seems to be the preferred term despite it not being in the Bible at all).  Testimonies are often seen as less offensive, full of hope, often come down on a practical level, and leave the “unchurched” wondering about this Man called Jesus.  While I am not 100% opposed to testimonies when witnessing with the lost (Paul used his testimony after all in Acts 26:12-18), we must be clear in our gospel presentation and must remember that God saves sinners (sorry, I mean the unchurched) by His own power and every person comes to Christ by His grace and His grace alone (John 6:44). Every person then will have a different testimony of God’s saving grace.  My testimony is not like yours but the gospel I was saved by remains forever the same (1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

My advice then is to share your testimony but don’t neglect the gospel.  I fear that people won’t to share their testimony because they don’t really know the gospel.  In fact, I have encountered “former” Christians who could share with you both their testimony of how they came to Christ and now their testimony of why they don’t believe in Christ.  Testimonies come and go.  Testimonies often change.  People will add to their testimony or take away from it depending on the situation.  The gospel does not change.  The gospel must be our focus.

The fact remains that every person we share Christ with is lost.  They are not unchurched.  In fact, they hate God (Romans 1:18-19).  People are not seeking after truth.  They hate the truth (Romans 1:25).  People love their sins and they especially love themselves (Romans 1:21-23).  They don’t want the God of the Bible.  They want their own gods.  They want a moral therapeutic God who will solve their problems, heal all their diseases, meet all their needs, and bless their socks off.  They don’t want a holy God who is wrathful against sin (Psalm 7:11 NKJV).  They don’t want a holy God who judges sinners (Romans 2:7-10; Revelation 20:11-15).  They don’t want a holy God who calls out to us to repent and turn from our wicked ways (Romans 2:4; 2 Corinthians 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9).  They want a loving God, a soft God, a God who will not judge them.  They want to live in their sins while claiming heaven (Matthew 1:21) but they are in error about God’s holy character (Romans 6:23) and His call to perfection (Matthew 5:48).

We must preach the holy wrath of God against sin.  We must open our Bibles and preach the law of God on sin (Romans 7:7).  We must warn sinners that those who break God’s law will be judged by that very law (James 2:10-13).  We must show sinners that the moral law exposes their guilt before God (Galatians 3:23-24).  The law shows us our guilt and the gospel shows us the mercy of God in the giving of His Son for our sins.  Without the preaching of the law, the sinner does not see their desperate need for salvation.  The law prepares the heart of the sinner to see the grace of God.  When the sinner sees their sinfulness before a holy God (1 John 3:4), the beauty of the cross shines forth and the gospel becomes precious to the sinner.

Testimonies don’t always do all that.  Again, I don’t have an issue with sharing with a sinner how I came to Christ.  In reality, He found me (2 Timothy 1:9).  The Bible says that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  The great Shepherd goes after His sheep (Luke 15:1-7).  The Holy Spirit opens the sinner’s eyes to the gospel and reveals our need for salvation (John 16:8-11).  The Spirit does this through the preaching of the gospel (Romans 10:14-17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).  While testimonies can be good to show the goodness of the Lord in saving us, the gospel is what saves (Romans 1:16-17).

One final note.  In Revelation 12:11 we read that the saints overcome the enemy by the word of our testimony and the blood of the Lamb.  Both go hand in hand.  To merely share your testimony is not enough.  We must preach the blood of the Lamb!  Without the blood of Jesus, none can be saved (Acts 4:12; Hebrews 9:22, 27-28).  The blood of Jesus alone cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  The blood of Jesus alone is what enables us to stand before a holy God (Romans 5:8-9).  We must preach the shed blood of Jesus to the lost sinner.  It is by the blood of Jesus that I am holy before God (Hebrews 10:10).

May we preach both our testimony and the truth of the gospel to the lost (that would be unchurched for some of you).

Disarming Arguments Against Evangelism (Part 2)

This is part of a short series of posts on disarming augments that I have heard on evangelism.  I have found that people, because of the flesh, will come up with various arguments against sharing the gospel with the lost.  This series is designed to answer those arguments and to provide disciples of Christ with biblical answer for sharing our faith.  These posts are not in any given order.

In the previous post, I examined how fear is often used to cripple us from preaching the gospel to the lost.  The Scriptures promise us that we have the power of the Spirit for evangelism (Acts 1:8) and Acts 4:31 demonstrates how we can pray for the boldness of the Spirit to share our faith.  We must, however, step out and begin to share our faith for this supernatural boldness to come.  God is not going to zap us and we receive some sort of subjective experience that now prepares us to share our faith.  We must, in faith, trust God and step out and begin to share our faith (Hebrews 11:30).

Another objection that I have heard (and have used myself) would be the lack of knowledge.  It is amazing to watch men of God such as Ray Comfort share the gospel with the lost.  They seem to always have an answer for the hope that is in them (1 Peter 3:15).  Yet I often have stumbled in my own witnessing.  I have been sharing the gospel with a lost person and they have asked me questions that I just didn’t seem to have an  answer for.  Other times, I would try to give an answer only to later realize that I could have said this or that but it was too late.  This lack of knowledge can cause a disciple to shut up and not share their faith.

My solution to this is two-fold.  First, the disciple should spend time in the Word of God daily to learn more about their faith.  As we abide in the truth, the truth will naturally get into our minds and hearts (John 8:31-32).  In Matthew 28:20 Jesus taught His disciples to not just baptize disciples but to also observe all that He had commanded.  The Word of God will bring conformity in both word and deed (Romans 15:18).

Secondly, the disciple should memorize the Word of God.  The principle of hiding God’s Word in our hearts finds its root in the Old Testament.  God commanded His people to hide His Word in their hearts (see Deuteronomy 6:6; 11:18; Joshua 1:8; Psalm 119:11).  The Lord Jesus spoke of the good heart in Luke 8:15.  That is what the disciples heart is to be.  A good heart that stores up the Word of God.  The prophet Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 15:16 that he ate the Word and it became “to me a joy and the delight of my heart for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.”  

While a disciple will no doubt benefit from reading apologetical books or from reading theology, it is the Word of God that is our sword (Ephesians 6:17).  How did Jesus answer both the enemy and His critics in the Gospels?  With Scripture (Matthew 4:4-10; 15:1-9; 19:1-9; 21:14-16; 21:42-44; 22:41-46; etc.).  If Jesus our Lord answered the devil and His critics with the Word of God, so should we.  The Word of God cuts deep not just in us but also in our hearers (Acts 2:37; Hebrews 4:12-13).

Each of us have different understanding and are different in our knowledge of God’s Word.  This should not keep us from witnessing.  A witness in a court of law simply tells what they have seen.  They are not there to convince the jury but to simply testify to what they have seen or heard.  This is true of biblical witnessing.  God alone saves sinners by His grace.  The Spirit of God convicts sinners as we witness (John 16:8-11) and His job is to draw sinners to salvation (John 6:44; Acts 16:14-15).  Our job is simply to testify to what we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20).  We are to speak all the words of this life (Acts 5:20).  The Holy Spirit takes our witnessing and He opens sinners hearts to the gospel truth.

In my own witnessing, I have witnessed to people for hours and then to someone just for a few minutes.  Time is not the issue.  The gospel should be the issue.  We should fill our witnessing with as much of the Word as possible.  Human reasoning only goes so far.  We need the supernatural power of the Word of God to see sinners saved.  In fact, salvation is the work of God and not of men (John 1:12-13; 3:3-5).  When the Lord saves a sinner, He does so by His grace alone (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not by meeting a person half way or by the Lord doing His part while the sinner does his part.  Our job is to preach the gospel to the lost sinner and the Lord will take our seed and He brings forth fruit in His timing (1 Corinthians 3:6).

Yet how can we witness what we have not been seeing or hearing?  We must abide in the Word of God so that our witnessing is in truth and not merely based on our own experience of coming to Christ for salvation.  The Word of God is our solid foundation to build on and not our own subjectiveness (2 Peter 1:16-21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/06/2014 at 3:36 PM

On the Sin of Homosexuality

I wish that the sin of homosexuality was just another sin that we must deal with as people.  Along with the sins of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), I would that we only had to deal with this sin like we do all sins.  But our society forces the disciple to have to address this sin (more than other sins it seems).  Of course, I believe that all sin is grievous to a holy God (1 John 3:4).  I believe that the Bible teaches that wickedness cannot be in God’s presence (Psalm 11:5).  I believe that God detests all sin including this sin.

Yet we find ourselves having to address this sin.  Why?  I don’t believe it is because we are opposed with seeking to “attack” homosexuals.  Our job is simply to preach the biblical truth concerning any and every doctrine including sins.  We the Bible pronounces something as sinful, we must do the same.  Titus 2:15 says that disciples must “Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority.  Let no one disregard you.”  Our job is to preach the Bible and if this runs contrary to the culture then so be it.  We must be faithful to God alone (Acts 5:29).

I do believe we must be careful with this sin.  We must not make homosexuality the worst sin of all.  It is sinful.  It is wrong.  It will keep people from salvation but the promise of God in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 is that God is able to deliver people from this sin (along with others).  While we must preach that homosexuality is a sin, let us be faithful to also preach the grace of God in forgiving sinners who repent of their sins (Acts 2:38).  Let us be faithful to the gospel message that there is hope in Christ Jesus and forgiveness in Him.  Jesus offers the sinner freedom and we must warn all sinners of the wrath to come and that their only hope for redemption and salvation is found in the blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for our sins (1 John 2:1-2).  There is no salvation found in merely telling people to “stop sinning” apart from revealing to them the precious truths of the gospel (Ezekiel 36:25-27; John 3:3; Ephesians 2:4).  Sinners are only set free when the blood of Jesus washes away their sins and they have peace with God along with the precious gift of the Holy Spirit who enables us to live a godly life (Galatians 5:16-17; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

I watched Ray Comfort once share the gospel with a homosexual.  He took the man through the Law to show him he was guilty of breaking the law of God (Romans 7:7).  When he was done sharing the good news of the cross (Galatians 3:24), the man asked Ray if he believed God had a problem with his homosexuality.  Ray answered the man, “Friend, you have confessed here today that you have violated the third, sixth, seventh and eighth commandments from God’s law.  I think you realize that you have other worst sin other than just homosexuality that you must deal with.”

And that is the truth.  People love their sins (Romans 1:18).  People are not naturally seeking God (Romans 3:10).  People want to steal, to cheat others, to kill, to hate, to blaspheme, and other sins.  It isn’t simply just one sin that condemns us.  It is our wicked hearts (Jeremiah 17:9).  Homosexuality is simply another evidence of our sinfulness but it is not the worst sin nor the only sin we should preach against.  All sin is wicked before a holy and pure God.  All sin!  And the answer for all sinners is the gospel.  It is not simply to stop sinning apart from revealing to them the fact that God is able to give them a new heart, a pure heart, a holy heart.  A person can truly repent only if the Spirit of God enables them to repent (2 Timothy 2:25).

My prayer is that God will save homosexuals but also all who love sin.  Paul the Apostle reminds us disciples in Titus 3 that we once were wicked as well (v.3).  We must, in the words of Steven Curtis Chapman, “remember our chains.”  We must not forget what God has saved us from.  Perhaps we have not stolen or murdered or done this sin or that but we must remember that we still needed God’s saving grace to be saved (vv.4-5).  None of us can earn salvation.  Jesus alone must be our salvation (John 14:6).  Jesus is our righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9).  Jesus is the only reason that we are saved now (Hebrews 7:25).

So let us preach against all sin (and not just homosexuality) but let us also be faithful to preach the grace of God to save sinners.  The Lord is faithful to save the lost.  He is still saving people by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).  Psalm 110:1 promises us that God will continue to save sinners till His enemies be made His footstool.  I pray that the promise of Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 6:10 are the cries of our hearts.  I long to see sinful people come to salvation in Christ Jesus (Revelation 5:9-10).  It is the cry of my heart (Psalm 2:8-9).  May the Church of Jesus Christ offer the sinner the grace and goodness of God through the faithful preaching of the cross (Romans 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 1:18-25; 2:1-5).  May the world not just hear the message of condemnation toward their sins but also the message of reconciliation that God has given us in the gospel (2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

07/19/2014 at 2:22 PM

Memorizing Scripture And Evangelism

1 Peter 3:15-16 (NIV) reads:

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.

As disciples of Jesus, we must be prepared to answer those who we are witnessing to.  People have questions about God, about faith, about the Bible, about Christianity, about other religions, etc.  People are curious creatures.  Disciples then should have the Word of God hidden in our hearts so that we can be prepared to answer those who question us.  However, people are not going to question us out of the blue (most of the time that is) but rather when we are seeking to make disciples (Matthew 28:19), people will ask questions.  The way to answer people is not by our opinions (they are without authority) but with the Word of God.  The Word is the disciple’s authority to “correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2b NIV).

This is why we must memorize Scripture.  Jesus taught us in John 8:31-32:

31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

We must abide in His word.  This happens as we study, apply, and memorize His Word.  This is effectual not just for our own discipleship and sanctification (John 17:17) but also for evangelism.

It has been amazing to me that when I apply myself to memorizing the Word, the Holy Spirit takes His Word and He helps me during evangelism.  While I believe that John 14:26 is applied to the Apostles, the Holy Spirit still gives us power to take His Word and to teach unbelievers.  This is the means of grace that God uses to draw sinners to Himself (John 6:44-45; Romans 10:17; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).  Jesus promised in John 12:32 that if He was lifted up, He would draw all people unto Himself.  This happens as we preach the gospel to the lost.  This happens as we take the Word of God and preach it to the lost and answer them with the Word.

The Bible is a supernatural book (2 Timothy 3:16).  The Bible is the special revelation from God that He uses to reveal Himself (Genesis 1:1).  The Bible is the sword of the Spirit for the disciple (Ephesians 6:17).  The Bible is the only weapon that God has given to us to fight the enemy (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  The Bible is the inerrant and infallible truth given to us by God that we must use when evangelizing.  How vital it is then to hide the Word in our hearts so that when we are sharing the gospel with the lost, we can respond with the Word when they question us.  And they will question us.  But the Word must be our weapon to respond to the lost.

What Scriptures should we memorize?  This is where Bible study comes into play.  Memorizing an entire book is useful (such as Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, 1 John, etc.) though it does require much time.  Memorizing topical texts on faith, repentance, baptism, the deity of Christ, the authority of the Bible, the person and work of the Spirit, creationism, etc. is also useful.  Years ago I use to take my Thompson Chain Reference Bible and would memorize the chains.

When we begin to apply ourselves to memorizing the Scriptures, the Lord will use our minds to bring forth the Word to the lost.  Countless times I have been witnessing to someone and something I was reading that week in my devotions would come out.  I was often amazed at how the Lord will quicken our minds to know His Word so that we can be prepared to answer those who question us.

On a final note about this.  When sharing our faith, the Word should take the prominent role.  I have heard people say that we should share our testimony or the “four spiritual laws” but I believe the Word should take the prominent role.  The Word cuts to the heart (Hebrews 4:12-13) and the Word is the tool that God uses to reveal His Son (John 20:31).  The Word is how we give God’s answers to the lost.  The Word is the focus of passages such as Mark 4 and the seed.  We plant the seed here and there but the Lord is the one who brings forth the fruit (Mark 4:26-32; 1 Corinthians 3:5-9).  Our jobs is simple: preach/plant the Word (2 Timothy 4:2).  But we must hide His Word in our hearts first so that we can faithfully take His Word out.  I pray that we would all be diligent in memorizing the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2).

Written by The Seeking Disciple

05/31/2014 at 12:27 PM

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