Archive for the ‘Glory to God’ Category
Jesus said that we were called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19). He called us, saved us, transformed us – all this so that we would glorify His name in the earth and that we might be a light to draw others to Jesus Christ.
Sadly, some believe their job is to bring people to their point of view theologically. In other words, their job is to convert disciples to their particular views whether it be Arminians converting Calvinists to Arminianism or Calvinists converting Arminians to Calvinism. I know of two Calvinists in particular who see it their job to a) answer every Arminian out there on their Calvinistic theology and b) to convert as many people as possible to Calvinism. These men are passionate about Calvinism. They adore Calvin. They adore all Calvinists. Their passion is to teach others about Calvinism since, in their minds, Calvinism equals the gospel. They spend hours on Twitter and Facebook and other social sites trying to answer their critics or spread their Calvinism. Oh yes, they will occasionally praise God for something but in the end, it is Calvinism that is their passion and delight.
Why do they want to convert everyone to Calvinism? As I stated, they believe that Calvinism is the pure gospel. They believe that Calvinism along glorifies God and it alone is the true gospel of the Lord Jesus. They believe that Jesus Himself was the first Calvinist and from Him came the Apostles and eventually Augustine and eventually Calvin and so forth to this day. They believe that men such as Arminius or John Wesley are men who tried to pervert the true gospel. They believe that all other systems outside of Calvinism hold to works-salvation. You can assure them over and over again (as I have) that you hold to justification by faith and that you are kept by faith in Christ but they will in turn argue that your “faith” is a work and that you are not saved by God’s grace nor the gift of faith that He gives to His elect but you hold to salvation by works. When you quote passages about God saving you by grace through faith such as Ephesians 2:8-9 or Titus 3:5-7, they again will say that you still hold to works salvation since you believe that God saves you because of your faith. When you argue that your faith is not a work to be saved but is a humble confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior (Romans 4:5), they will again claim you hold to works salvation since you still deny that your faith is a gift from God that came after He regenerated you so that you could believe. It is a never-ending cycle. I had one of these two Calvinists tell me that I needed to repent even after I assured him that I was saved by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Yet since I am not a Calvinist, I am lost.
I pray that there are no Arminians like this nor that I am like this. My passion is to preach the gospel of Christ and not Arminianism. I want to see people saved. If they become faithful disciples of Jesus and fellowship with Calvinists, so be it. I only want to see souls saved. I am not interested in spreading the fame of Arminius or Wesley. I only want Jesus to be exalted. I thank God for Arminius or Wesley but do not believe they have ever saved one sinner. Jesus alone saves.
My heart here is to see us all, both Arminians and Calvinists and all in-between, preaching Christ and Him crucified. I asked one of the above Calvinists if he was more concerned that I was an Arminian or a disciple of Jesus. He answered, “A true disciple of Jesus will always be a Calvinist.” I deplore such thinking. I want people to be faithful followers of Christ and not a man. Calvin was a sinner. Augustine was a sinner. Luther was a sinner. Campbell was a sinner. Ravenhill was a sinner. Tozer was a sinner. Only Jesus saves sinners. I believe these men would tell us to look to Christ alone to be saved and not to flesh.
I am convinced that preaching of the gospel must focus in on Christ. He must be the focal point, He must be the One that we are exalting. Our preaching should not focus on ourselves or on the hearers but upon the Lord Jesus. When we do this, we are truly exalting God and calling people to the very One (and the only One) who can save their souls. Whether you are doing open air preaching, house church preaching, preaching in a traditional church, teaching a Sunday School class, teaching a small group Bible study, preaching in the prisons, discipleship, etc., we should focus upon Christ. After all, Scripture elevates Him and exalts Him above all others (Colossians 1:15-20).
In 2 Corinthians 5:11-15 we read:
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
Paul’s focus in these verses was upon Christ. He wanted Jesus to be exalted (v.14). That should be our focus as well (1 Corinthians 2:1-5). Christ is to be our all in all (1 Corinthians 10:31). Christ is to be the One that we lift up in calling people to repentance (John 12:32). Christ is to be our focus completely. After all, He is our Master and Lord (Ephesians 6:9).
Make much about this Jesus. When people hear you speak, they should focus on Jesus and walk away knowing that they heard about Jesus. Focus on Him alone as the only One who can save us by His grace (John 14:6). Jesus alone is worthy!
I want to highlight notions that are unbiblical and keep us from sharing our faith with the lost. There are so many people right around us who are lost and on their way to an eternal hell all while we avoid talking to them about what matters most, the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is time for us to break out of our fear of men (I know that is the number one thing that keeps us all from sharing our faith) and open up and preach the gospel (Romans 10:14-17). God has promised us the power of the Holy Spirit to preach Christ to the lost (Acts 1:8). Let us use that God-given power to evangelize as many as possible for the glory of God.
1. We Have To Build A Relationship First.
I have heard this one over and over again. People will tell you that you have to build a relationship with a person to be effective in evangelism. Some are honest about this but most seem to want to avoid preaching the gospel to the lost. They say that they are building relationships with the lost but never go further than that. They don’t preach the true gospel to their lost friends.
We must preach the gospel to all (Mark 16:15). It is wonderful to build relationships with people but without the gospel, what is the point? The gospel, and not your friendship, is what saves sinners (Luke 19:10). The gospel was preached powerfully in Acts 2 to strangers but we see the results when the Spirit works (Acts 2:41, 47). Our duty is to preach the gospel to the lost and we can do this through preaching alone (Romans 10:14-17) whether that be one on one or in an open air format.
2. We Have To Be Mature First.
In other words, you have to know a lot of theology before you share your faith. This is a lie from Satan. I believe we can memorize John 3:16 and preach the gospel. I do think that we must grow in our understanding of God and His Word (2 Peter 3:18) to make strong disciples but this doesn’t mean we must be seminary grads before we can share the gospel. The woman in John 4 whom Jesus evangelized instantly begin to proclaim Christ to her people as we read in John 4:29, 39. Growth takes time (1 Peter 2:1-3) but as we abide in the Word of God, God’s Word will fill our hearts more and more and the Spirit will help us preach the gospel and He will often bring to our minds texts that powerfully convict of sin (Hebrews 4:12-13). The most important part of preaching the gospel is simply that you know the gospel and you know the Savior of the gospel message. If you know these, you will not fail in preaching for God can use that (1 Corinthians 3:7).
3. We Must Earn The Right To Be Heard.
This view says that we must do works of service for unbelievers to hear our message. In other words, cut their grass or take out their trash or change their oil before trying to preach Christ to them. I do believe there is some truth in this but often the message is neglected in favor of the works. Again, unless we preach the gospel to the lost, they will not be saved. They must hear the gospel to be saved! Further, we find none of these “works” to earn the right to preach in the book of Acts. The Apostles simply preached wherever they went (Acts 8:4).
4. We Must Be Sinless To Preach Christ.
This lie from Satan has left many Christians sitting idly by while sinners pass them by. They will not preach because they believe their sins have left them without the ability to preach the gospel to sinner. I do think that we need to be a people of holiness (1 Peter 1:15-16). I do think that holiness honors God before the world (Hebrews 12:14) but holiness doesn’t mean sinless perfection. Our passion should be to be holy as Jesus is holy and not to sin (1 John 2:1) but since we live in a fallen world, we are all capable of sinning (James 3:2). Our flesh is strong and wages war against the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-17) but our duty is to be obedient to Christ (Romans 6:11-14). When we sin, confess your sins (1 John 1:9) but don’t allow your past to dictate your future. Look to Christ to help you overcome sin (1 Corinthians 10:13) and He will help you (Galatians 5:1). We are not slaves of sin or this proves that we are not His (John 8:31-38; 1 John 3:6-9) yet our passion should be to focus on Jesus and proclaim Him and not ourselves.
5. Just Invite Them To Church.
This is the seeker model and many churches in my own area have this view. We are told to invite people to church and our church will be fun, cool, hip, and relevant. In other words, they won’t hear the gospel. They will become church members but not disciples of Jesus. The seeker model is almost cultish. Get them in the door but don’t tell them about Christ until they are already coming for a while. The problems with this model is that it has a very low view of God and a high view of Man. It assumes that humans can just be conned into become disciples. People do not love God. They hate Him. People do not want God. They despise Him. Romans 3:10-18 and Romans 8:7-8 paint a rather ugly picture of humanity. They are not God-seekers. They don’t want your Christ. They may like your church, your “teaching” or whatever but your Christ they do not want. This is why we must preach the gospel of repentance to the lost. They must hear the truth and the Spirit will take the truth and convict hearts (Acts 16:14-15; Titus 3:5-7). Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9) and God alone saves sinners. Not churches or concerts or speakers or tracts.
6. Laziness and Fear.
I put both of these together for a reason. They feed off each other. We are spiritually lazy when it comes to prayer, to reading and studying the Word, and we only are focused on God it seems when we are around certain folks or the church. This should not be! Our passion for Jesus should not be only seen when we are certain situations. We should be passionate for Christ at all times (Romans 12:11-12; Revelation 2:4). Further, we should long to pray and spend time in the Word in light of the cross. It’s not that I have to pray or read my Bible but it’s that I get to do these things. I want to glorify God in all that I say or do (Colossians 3:17) so I strive to please Him in all things (Colossians 1:10). My passion is the glory of God in all things (Philippians 1:20-21). Laziness and fear keep us from opening up our mouths and preaching the gospel. We know that we should preach the gospel and we often feel guilty for not sharing our faith but this is a wrong view. We should see evangelism in light of the cross. Jesus is our salvation. Not our works (John 6:29). But we long to glorify Him for His saving of us so we want to preach Christ to the lost because of the finished work of Christ. Our salvation is firmly based on Jesus and not our works (Ephesians 2:8-9) but we know that God works through us to touch the world for His glory (Ephesians 2:10).
Recently Dr. Michael Brown asked the question, “If I could spend the next 30 days in your church, would I find your church a praying church?” I turn that question now and ask both myself and you my reader, if I could spend the next 30 days with you constantly, would your life (or my own) be a life of obedience to Jesus as Lord? Would your life be a life of prayer? Of studying the Word of God? Would I find you sharing your faith with the lost? Would I notice that you take your money and give much to the poor and to missions? Or would your life reveal a shallow Christianity? A “faith” that is only seen when you go to church? Would your life be full of sin from ungodly movies or watching things on the Internet you know you wouldn’t if someone was sitting right there with you (which there is in the case of our omnipresent God)? Would your marriage and the raising of your children reflect a deep desire for Jesus and His kingdom to come? Would others characterize you as a godly man or woman?
I know these are hard questions but I ask them of myself as well. I want to be a man of God. I want to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15-16). Jesus saved me from sin and its power (Romans 6:1-4) and I don’t want to be a slave of sin anymore (Romans 6:11-23). I don’t want to sow to my flesh and reap death (Romans 8:12-13; Galatians 6:7-9). I am not so foolish as to think that I too can’t give in to my flesh (1 Corinthians 10:1-12) and I am also not too foolish to understand that Satan can deceive us (2 Corinthians 11:3). I don’t want to be bewitched (Galatians 3:1-5). I want my life to reflect a deep passion for Christ and His kingdom. I want to burdened in prayer for the lost, for my family, for the glory of God. I want to hide His Word in my heart (Psalm 119:11). I want to be His disciple (John 8:31-32). I want to love Jesus above all else (Luke 14:25-35). I want to avoid this world (1 John 2:15-17). Let it be said of me that I am a friend of God (James 4:4).
I am thankful for the grace of God. He is merciful toward us in His Son and He forgives our sins (1 John 1:9). Yet I don’t want to abuse His grace (Jude 4) nor do I want to trample the precious blood of Christ through my sinning (Hebrews 10:26-31). I want to be like Jesus in every way possible (Matthew 5:48; 1 John 2:6). I praise God that He saves us by His grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and not by our works (Titus 3:5-7) but I want to glorify Him in all that I say or do (Colossians 3:17). His love motives me this way (John 14:15). His Spirit convicts me and leads me to want to be more like Jesus (John 16:7-11).
I pray this is true of you as well. May we hunger to be like Jesus in everything we do!