Posts Tagged ‘Missions’
We all can come up with a thousand reasons why we don’t do this or that type of evangelism. We make excuses for why we don’t open air preach such as, “Well I don’t think that is effective” or we are not bold enough. We make excuses about why we don’t give out tracts such as, “Well I believe friendship evangelism is more effective.”
But my point is do something! Don’t allow compromise to rob you of the joy that comes from preaching the gospel to the lost. Do something. Do anything to get God’s Word out. Pass out tracts. Pray for the lost. Preach in the open air. Give money to missions. Do something for the gospel. Don’t be lazy and allow people around you to go to hell while you sleep in the light. Don’t study theology and sit in your warm office and never talk what God has been teaching you and take it to the lost. Jesus commands us to go (Matthew 28:19). The Great Commission is not a suggestion. It is a command. He calls us to go and preach His gospel to all of creation (Mark 16:15). God saved us so that we would worship and adore Him and take Him to every single aspect of our lives (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).
When you criticize the “cooky” street preacher, do you share your faith? When you talk about how you think servant evangelism is the best method of sharing your faith, do you still preach the gospel to the very ones that you are helping? Are people around you heading toward hell while you sit there with the truth and say nothing?
Leonard Ravenhill wrote,
“Could a mariner sit idle if he heard the drowning cry?
Could a doctor sit in comfort and just let his patients die?
Could a fireman sit idle, let men burn and give no hand?
Can you sit at ease in Zion with the world around you DAMNED?”
Can we? Can we just sit here and study God and His Word and not be moved to compassion for the lost? Does not the very heart of God shine forth at the very beginning in Genesis 3:15 with His giving of a Redeemer? Our God is a missionary God who sent both His Son (John 3:16) and His Spirit (John 16:8-11) to convict the world. Romans 2:4 says that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. He does this in the giving of His Son. How then can we ignore those around us who need the gospel? How can we pass by the people we work with or in Wal-Mart who need Jesus and His forgiveness? The world is not coming to the Church. The Church is commanded by Jesus to go to them. Jesus has even equipped us with bold power from the Holy Spirit to evangelize the nations (Acts 1:8).
Let us forsake our laziness and go and preach the gospel to the lost. They will not come to you. You must go to them. Preach to them. Pray for them. Give out tracts. But do something! Nothing equals damnation.
I have heard many people use this phrase about Jesus saying that He was a “friend of sinners.” This is based on Matthew 11:19 (NASB) which reads, “The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners!’”
This is suppose to teach us that Jesus then was a friend of sinners and so should we be. Sinners don’t need to hear repentance, holiness, God’s wrath against sin, etc. They need to hear about how good He is, how loving He is, and how accepting He is. Sinners don’t need to see our pointed fingers (as one popular song says) at them but to hear the good news of God’s love for them and that He has a wonderful plan for their life. They need to hear good news and not bad news.
The problem is that the text doesn’t teach what they want it to teach. I have even had people tell me that they evangelize people by being a “friend of sinners” just like Jesus and they justify drinking with their lost friends, watching ungodly movies with their sinful friends, or just hanging out with them but never communicating the gospel, never discussing the law of God. They are just “friends of sinners.” Like Jesus.
Let’s look at Matthew 11:19 and then let us look at other passages in the Gospels to see if Jesus was a “friend of sinners” who didn’t call people to repent of their sins or to be holy. First of all, Jesus is the One speaking here in Matthew 11:19. He says that this slanderous accusation was being said by this generation of Jews (v. 16). The point was that they were wrong in what they were saying about Him (vv.15-19). In verse 20 Jesus even says, “Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” His point: look at My actions. Look at My life. If I am truly sinful, look at my life. Look at my disciples. Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. I am not sinning but I live to please the Father.
Further, if Jesus is truly a “friend of sinners” then we should find Him doing what others say we should do: loving sinners as they are, not calling people to repent, not calling out sins. But what do we find about Jesus? In the very next verses notice what Jesus does as we read in Matthew 11:20:
“Then He began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent.”
He began to do what? To denounce the cities? But I thought He was good, loving, and non-judgmental? Jesus even says in verse 24, “Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.” What? How could this be from this loving, non-confrontational Man?
There is no doubt that Jesus saved His harshest words for the religious (see Matthew 23) but He did call people to repent. He said in Luke 13:1-5:
Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”
Here Jesus is not speaking to the religious Jews. He is speaking to sinners. He is speaking to the common folks. And yet we don’t find the lowly, meek, non-judgmental Jesus here. We find the bold Jesus calling people to repent. He didn’t shy away from His words. His point is clear in the text above: you all must repent or you’ll perish too. That is tough words. That is not a Jesus sitting in a bar drinking a tall beer and watching the NFL and just being a “friend of sinners.” This is not the politically correct Jesus who loves all without qualifications.
In Matthew 12:30-37 we read:
He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.
“Therefore I say to you, any sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven people, but blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
Again tough words from such a loving, gentle, non-judgmental Man such as Jesus. Again, is He the “friend of sinners” here who does not call people to repent? He even says in this text that blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. What? I thought He would accept us no matter what?
Jesus even confronted His own chosen disciples in John 6:66-71. Here we read:
As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him.
Jesus asks His own disciples in verse 67 if they want to leave Him? That is tough. He demanded obedience to Himself as Lord. He had just finished teaching from John 6:22-59 about Himself being the bread of life and that whoever comes to Him must eat His flesh and drink His blood. He is demanding total submission to His entire being. He must be our total life (see Luke 14:25-35 as well).
Finally, Jesus tells us in Matthew 7:13-14 to His own disciples (see Matthew 5:1-2):
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
His point is that many are going down the road to hell. The narrow way is the way to life and that life is only found in Him (John 14:6). Jesus, the true friend of sinners, is a friend of sinners in the sense that He died on the cross for our sins and through faith in His blood we can be forgiven of our sins (Matthew 26:28). He alone is the way to God (1 Timothy 2:5-6). He alone is the only way that we can be forgiven before God (John 3:17-18). He alone is the way to righteousness and perfection that God requires for us to enter into His holy presence (1 Corinthians 1:30-31). His blood alone can cleanse us from sin and atone for us before God (Hebrews 9:22, 27-28; 10:10, 14). The way to heaven is not broad. It is not various religions. It is only in Christ Jesus that we can be saved. We must call people to repent (Acts 2:38; 17:30-31). We must preach the truth of God, that Jesus is the only way to salvation (Romans 6:23). There is no other way but through faith in His blood (Romans 5:1; 10:14-17).
Let us then not be ashamed to confront sinners. Jesus told people to turn from sin (John 5:14; 8:11). So should we (1 John 3:6-9). Jesus told people to believe in Him (John 4:13-14, 25-26; 9:35-39). So should we. Jesus spoke of repentance (Luke 13:1-5; 24:47). So should we. Jesus spoke of holiness (Matthew 5:48; 15:10-20). So should we (Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 1:15-16). Let us not hide the truths of God from a lost world that is blinded by Satan (2 Corinthians 4:3-4). Let us take the gospel to all (Mark 16:15; John 20:21).
“Even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?”
- Romans 9:24 (NKJV)
I love the comments by Adam Clarke, the great Arminian Bible commentator on Romans 9:24 when he writes,
All the Jews and Gentiles who have been “invited” by the preaching of the gospel to receive justification by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and have come to the gospel feast on this invitation.
While many read into Romans 9 much about unconditional divine election to salvation, I reject such a view and yet I still find in Romans 9:24 a wonderful call for all to come and be saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His work on the cross. We have a Savior who is mighty to save!
Here is a great quote from Charles Spurgeon on evangelism and preaching. I pray that all true Bible teachers will be faithful to heed his words.
My anxious desire is that every time I preach, I may clear myself of the blood of all men; that if I step from this platform to my coffin, I may have told out all I knew of the way of salvation.
I pray that we would be faithful to love God and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves (Mark 12:29-31) which would include warning them of the wrath to come and calling them to repent of their sins (Luke 13:1-5). After all, we disciples of Jesus Christ are His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20) and called to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). May God fill us with boldness to proclaim His everlasting Word (Acts 4:29) to all creation (Mark 16:15).
When it comes to the doctrine of salvation, there are essentially three positions one can take regarding salvation. I will briefly state them.
This is the teaching that God has saved everyone. Some hold that the work of Christ did this for all people. Various religious groups and cults hold to this teaching. The appeal to this teaching is that it does make God a God of love who, despite our sins and failures and all that we do against Him, loves humanity so much that He saves us despite us. Some hold, such as the Mormons, that all will be resurrected because of the work of Christ but not all will receive the same rewards in eternity such as in Mormonism some becoming gods while others in lesser heaven (three levels of heaven to be exact). Some hold that all will behold the Lord Jesus as the true Lamb of God when they die and thus will be saved in the afterlife.
The problems with this view are many. For one, Jesus said that the way to eternal life is narrow and He said few would find it (Matthew 7:13-14). Jesus makes the basis for eternal life contingent upon belief in Him (John 5:24-25; 6:29, 44-45; 12:32; 20:31) as do the Apostles (Acts 15:9; 16:30-34; Romans 10:9-17). Secondly, if universalism is true then the command of Jesus to spread the gospel into all nations makes no sense (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8). What are we to spread: universalism? Third, the view undermines the holiness of God and His just wrath against sin (Romans 1:18-32). This view minimizes the effects of the Fall of Mankind into sin in Genesis 3. It fails to see the truth of Romans 6:23, that the wages of sin is still death. It passes over the holiness of God and the commands of God (1 John 3:4). Fourth, it fails to realize the truthfulness of Revelation 20:11-15, that not all will be saved but many will be cast into the lake of fire if their name is not written in the book of life (v. 15). Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people (Revelation 21:7-8).
Like Arminians, Calvinists hold that not all will be saved. They recognize the words of Jesus as truthful in Matthew 7:13-14. However, in Calvinism God has chosen before time whom He would save and those whom He would condemn to hell. This is known as “double predestination.” Not all agree even among Calvinists over this view. John Calvin called the view, “the horrible decree.” The view states that because of the nature of the sovereignty of God and the nature of man’s fall into sin (dead in sins as Ephesians 2:1 states), God must be the one who saves and He saves for His glory alone and man gets no credit whatsoever in his salvation. Thus God elects, justifies, and glorifies His elect before time begin. Jesus came to die for the sins of the elect and to reconcile them to God (Galatians 1:4). Regeneration precedes faith because how can a dead person believe the gospel (John 3:3). We are born again to believe (1 John 5:1) according to Dr. R.C. Sproul Sr.
So why doesn’t God elect all to be saved? First, this is viewed as a mystery among Calvinists. God alone knows why He chose to elect whom He elected. That He even choose to elect shows His great love! God could have cast all of humanity into hell because of their sins but He instead chooses to save a few for His glory. Secondly, according to John Piper hell glorifies God. It shows His love, His grace, His mercy, and His holiness because the elect see that they deserve hell but because of God’s sovereign love, they are saved by His grace and for His glory (Romans 9:22-23 though I disagree with the Calvinist view of this passage about whom Paul is referring to here). Third, some such as Charles Spurgeon said that the elect would ultimately be more than the reprobate. For now, it seems it is very much the other way. Fourth, God doesn’t save all because He simply has chosen not to save all (Deuteronomy 29:29). Most Calvinist theologians would say that God is glorified more when we see that He has chosen to save a remnant of people from among the damned. He doesn’t have to do even that and this exalts Him!
My main problem with this view two-fold. First, I find little biblical basis for teaching that regeneration precedes faith. Romans 5:1 clearly says that we are justified through faith and not unto faith. Ephesians 2:8-9 says that we are saved by grace through faith and though I know some Calvinist theologians like to say that the phase in verse 8, “this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” as pointing to the “gift of faith,” I find little warrant for such a view. Arminian theologians have done a good job showing that the Greek make up to the verse seems to be pointing to our salvation itself and not merely faith. Secondly, I believe that the Calvinist view of why God doesn’t save all doesn’t present God as loving and good. In fact, I disagree with Piper that election makes God glorious but I believe, as John Wesley stated, that it makes our blood boil. That God condemns people before they are even born or even sinned lacks any love whatsoever. I know that Calvinist theologians will state the idea of fairness should not play when we view God but that I desire to save all, does that mean that I love more people than God? I believe not. When we read the Gospels and we see the great love of Jesus for people and His willingness to heal them, to touch them, to love them, to have compassion upon them, to be moved by pity for them, and to suffer and die for them, how can we conclude then that God only desires to save a select few that He chose before time begin? It seems that it does not reconcile with God’s great love for the world (John 3:16) and His desire to save all through His Son whom would believe (John 3:18; 12:32; 1 Timothy 2:3-6; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 John 2:1-2).
The Arminian view is that God has provided for the salvation of all through His Son. We believe in an unlimited atonement, where Jesus shed His blood for all to be saved (Isaiah 53:4-6; Matthew 1:21; 26:28; 1 John 2:1-2). Calvinist theologians attack the Arminian view saying that Christ’s death on the cross saved no one whereas in Calvinism God saved the elect on the cross. The problem with such a view is that even Calvinists admit that none can be saved apart from faith in Jesus (Romans 10:14-17). Thus, in reality Christ’s death on the cross saved no one apart from personal faith. Some Calvinist theologians will state that Christ died not just for our sins but for the gift of faith as well. Yet this still ignores the biblical call to faith (Acts 3:19-20). Jesus died to secure the salvation of all who would believe in Him that God foreknew (Romans 8:29-30).
In God’s foreknowledge, He knows all who will believe. He doesn’t make them believe. He simply knows (1 Peter 1:2). God, for example, foreknew the death of His Son on the cross (Acts 2:23) but He did not make the people kill Jesus. God does not cause people to sin (James 1:12-15) because He is holy (1 Peter 1:16). God simply knew what would happen to His Son that He had prepared (Isaiah 53) to save all who would repent and believe the gospel.
Is Arminianism perfect? No. Like Calvinists above, I agree that I don’t understand all of God’s ways nor His doings. Isaiah 55:8-9 tells us that God’s ways are not our ways nor His thoughts our thoughts. God is God. Even the Bible doesn’t fully reveal everything about our God. It simply reveals enough about God for us to know Him and seek Him (Isaiah 55:6-7; John 20:31; 2 Timothy 3:15-17). Why doesn’t God choose then to send His Son to just save everyone? I agree with the Calvinists that because of the nature of God’s holiness, He cannot just save all. How would this make Him just (Romans 3:25-26)? True justice is seen in not just the giving of His Son but His judgment of those who refuse His gospel (Romans 1:28-32). I agree with the Calvinist that God is glorified in the saving of souls (Hebrews 2:10-13).
I disagree with Calvinists, however, in whether God has elected those to salvation and others to damnation. I believe His desire is to save all (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and He has sent His Son for that purpose. All who believe can be saved (John 6:37). The Holy Spirit draws them to the Savior through the gospel (John 6:44-45; Romans 10:14-17). The ministry of reconciliation is given to the Church to preach that God has reconciled people through His Son (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). I believe the major difference between the Arminian view and the Calvinist view is the word: conditional. The Calvinist makes salvation unconditional based on the work of Christ. The Arminian makes salvation conditioned upon faith in the work of Christ. While both emphasize true salvation (and thus we are brothers and sisters in Christ), we disagree over God’s sovereign choice and whether He has made this salvation based on the condition of faith in His Son.
Yesterday we saw many Christians go to Chick-Fil-A to sponsor the restaurant. I wrote that I would love to see the same zeal for evangelism among those who stood in line in support of a moral cause. The problem is that morality is not the answer for the society. To simply make homosexual marriage illegal or to ban this or that is not the answer. To try to work with politicians to create laws that make society more moral is not the answer. To picket outside of abortion clinics is not the answer. To stand with a political party is not the answer. To support Chick-Fil-A is not the answer.
Now as a disciple of Jesus, I hate evil. I hate sin. I love morality but my love flows from my salvation. I am a transformed man. I was dead in my sins and Jesus saved me by His grace (Ephesians 2:1-10). I too, apart from the Spirit of God bringing me to salvation (John 6:44), would choose to always abide in sin (Titus 3:1-7). The problem was not my morals but my deadness in sin (Romans 8:8). Morality seeks to make the issues about morals and not our sinfulness. We are utterly sinful before a holy God and we always rebel against Him. We don’t love God. We hate Him. We would kill Him again if He were here now in the flesh. Morality only deals with the outside. It doesn’t change a person to follow Jesus and love Him and obey His commandments. Morality simply says we shouldn’t do this but do that. It gives us no power to be moral though.
The gospel alone produces true and lasting change. In the book of Acts we find the Christians not protesting. We don’t find the disciples of Jesus seeking to transform Rome with politicians and causes. We don’t see them seeking to transform the world through the laws of men. Instead, we find passionate people committed to Jesus and seeking to transform the society through the gospel. The gospel will produce change. Oddly, we find nothing in the New Testament against slavery. It seems the New Testament writers understood that the way to condemn slavery was to see people saved from sin and thus slavery would disappear because of the gospel. Even Paul’s letter of Philemon demonstrates this. The relationships were transformed because of the gospel.
What is needed in our day is not for the Church to stand with other religious groups over moral issues. What is not needed is for the Church to stand with politicians over moral issues. What is needed is the gospel to be preached and as the gospel is preached, the gospel will transform our world (Titus 3:1-7). The entrance to the kingdom of God is not through morality but through being born again in Jesus Christ (John 3:1-7). This only occurs when the Church preaches the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:49; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Romans 1:16-17; 10:14-17). Let us preach the gospel!
I want to also point to Dr. John MacArthur’s sermon on moralism. It is an excellent message that is needed in this hour. You can find the sermon here.