We must understand what it means to be in the very presence of God. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones strikes a nerve with this short clip from one of his messages.
We must understand what it means to be in the very presence of God. Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones strikes a nerve with this short clip from one of his messages.
I’m sure just about everyone who has grown up in church can give pat answers as to why Jesus left the splendors of Heaven to enter a world where He would be scorned and persecuted but have you ever taken time to examine exactly why Jesus did that? The obvious answer is taken from the familiar John 3:16 (He loved us) but it is more in-depth than that.
To Give Abundant life
John 10:10 tells us, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
Abundant life. Think about it. If you look up the definition, this means life that is “more than adequate, over-sufficient, richly supplied.” Way too many professing Christians are just trying to get through their days. They are barely living instead of living in the abundance that is available to them.
In John 5, Jesus told the people, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” This happens way too often even today. So many are seeking for answers, a reason to live but they want to keep their life instead of surrendering to the only One who can really give life.
Someone came up with the phrase, “Wise men still seek Him,” and I will add that men and women who are really wise will find Him. He has promised that, “when you seek Me, you will find Me if you search for Me with all your heart.” Oh that people would realize how desperate they really are and not stop seeking until they find Him.
To Bring Light
Another reason Jesus came is to bring light to a dark world (John 12:46). God still desires to do that through His people. In Matthew 5:14, Jesus told His disciples, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” If the Holy Spirit is dwelling in you, your light should be shining bright. He can enable you to shine in the midst of darkness, to rejoice in the midst of trials, to smile when you would usually be crying. We sometimes forget that we have a part to play in this “game of life” but, unlike most games, it’s our choice if we are going to win or lose this one. With Jesus, we will be a victorious winner.
That the World Might Be Saved
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).
It may seem odd that I didn’t start with this but I believe that, if we who are saved will live an abundant life and be the light God desires us to be, we will see more people come to know Him as well.
If you do a study, you will find more reasons why Jesus came to earth. He was our example. He came to serve, to minister, to do the will of the Father, etc. And He came to be the supreme sacrifice for our sins so that none should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). This must begin with you and me, however. God can save anyone in any way He chooses but I believe many people are not being saved because they are not seeing true Christianity lived out in our lives. We don’t study Matthew 5 and take it seriously. Instead, we live, talk, and act like the world, wanting to fit in yet using Christ’s name when it profits us something.
Brothers and Sisters, don’t grieve the Lord. He did not have to come to earth but He did so out of love for a lost, dying, and hopeless world. As you celebrate this Christmas, examine your heart. Are you living the abundant life that Jesus came to give you? As you go to work each day or interact with people around you, are you being a light, or are you trying to fit in so people don’t tease you for being different? This is not just a time to celebrate the birth of a baby but a time to realize what His coming did for us and how we can best serve Him. After all, he is the only person who was born over 2000 years ago yet is still alive.
Christendom has compartmentalized the proclamation of the gospel way too much. To the many, there are different “types” of evangelism. And by types they may use categories like Lifestyle Evangelism, Friendship Evangelism, Old Folks Evangelism, Street Evangelism, and so on and so on and so on! The purpose of this article will not allow me to elaborate on how unbiblical these compartmentalizations are. And perhaps I will address that in another article. But, I want to address a phenomenal evangelistic opportunity that most internet users miss, and perhaps think is too corny or humorous to even consider. And it starts with a little symbol known as the hashtag (#).
In my book Apocity: The Greatest Omission I coin a word (apocity – pronounced uh-pa-city) to describe the sin of not evangelizing. This book not only coins a word, but it reveals the pandemic apparent within western Christianity. Moreover, this book not only diagnosis this sin (thoroughly), but it also provides a gospel centered remedy.
Sneak preview can be found here: http://www.watersourceministries.com/apocity/sneak-preview/
Interview on Janet Mefferd Show can be found here (skip to minute 20): http://www.janetmefferdpremium.com/2014/03/17/janet-mefferd-radio-show-20140317-hr-2/
But selling books is not why I am writing. Since I don’t get a dime off of sales, money is not in the forefront of my concern.
As I have always said, it seems that the western, local churches have failed at the one command that Jesus imparted to us right before He ascended into heaven at the right hand of the Father. When Jesus gave us what is now known as the “great commission,” Jesus explicitly stated that we are to make disciples, and one of the components of doing so is “teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you…” (Matt. 28:20). The other component is “going” or “in your going” (as if that makes a difference). For some reason, however, we have not been consistent in teaching the last thing that Christ taught. What irony that the very commission Christ gave embodies the necessity for making disciples in the world, and yet we will teach others to obey everything else Christ taught, meanwhile dancing around this particular mandate to be regular, consistent, and purposeful witnesses for Christ!
What do we see in the news in America right now? Ebola, ISIS threat, homosexual agenda, feminism, Hollywood attacks on Christianity, false teachers getting the spotlight, pastors getting subpoenaed, violence, sexual immorality, and the list goes on! And what are the majority of local churches doing? Playing their apocitic fiddles while Rome burns! The current state of affairs in America right now is ripe for gospel preaching and we are sleeping (Prov. 10:5). Nevertheless, the LORD has His true laborers. Those that are not faithful workers in His field are going to be found out as frauds in the end (Matt. 25:29).
In giving the sin of not evangelizing a name, it is my hope that many will consider the linguistic power of being able to put a name to this detrimental and once nameless sin. Not only that, to provide a talking point concerning the evangelistic efforts (or lack thereof) in our own lives. In this post, and in future posts to come, I pray that we all can demolish all the sorry excuses we make that keep us from being regular, consistent, and purposeful in fulfilling the command of Christ to make disciples. If you are, or if you know anyone, that is negligent in going out into the world to make disciples (an apocite) toward family, friends, co-workers, AND strangers, I pray this post (and the book) will revive and reveal the greatest omission in our evangelical churches today.
If you wish to purchase a copy of “Apocity”, go here: http://www.tractplanet.com/Book–Apocity-The-Greatest-Omission_p_274.html
After Bible Study the other night, we were sitting around talking, and someone mentioned that, before he knew the Lord, he wouldn’t attend church because he knew he wasn’t living right. Thankfully, he finally hit a place where he surrendered to the Lord, changed the things he knew needed to change, and surrendered his life to Christ.
I understand why churches stress the importance of coming to Jesus as you are instead of waiting to be cleaned up but it also seems like way too many stay as they are, even after making a profession of faith. Isaiah 1:18 says, “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ said the LORD: ‘though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.'” This doesn’t mean your sins become white but that your life of sin disappears as you begin to serve God.
In Romans 6:1, Paul asks, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?” In verse 2, he answers his own question, “God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?”
In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” We know Christ knew no sin so, if He lives in me, I won’t live a life of sin either.
Many times in Scripture, people were told to repent. That call still goes out today. If you are one who looks nice on the outside but inside, you are full of uncleanness, repent. If you are nice to the people at church but mean to your family, repent. If you are living a life that you know is not honoring to God, it is never too late to turn from your sinful ways and surrender those areas to the One who loves you more than you will ever be able to comprehend. The answer isn’t to stop going to church; the answer is to understand your need and turn to Him today.
Pretend that you are about to take communion. Think about the horrendous death that Jesus suffered because of your sins and mine. As you begin to bring the bread and cup to your lips, does your heart well up with gratitude for what Christ has done for you or do you find yourself squirming because you know that you are not able to take communion worthily but you know that others have no idea what your life is really like? Worse yet, do you not feel that sense of guilt about the life you are living?
Hebrews 12:6 says, “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and whips every son whom He receives.” If you are able to sin and not be disciplined by the Lord, you should really search your heart to know if you are truly His.
Let me also say here that there is a difference between conviction and condemnation. Condemnation feels like there is no hope. Conviction is the mercy of the Holy Spirit tapping you on the shoulder and showing you what you are doing wrong so that you can change. That is what I want you to feel today: the conviction that only God can bring. I don’t know your life. I don’t know what you’re going through. But I do know that God loves you, and He can change you today, whether you have gone to church for a day, a month, a year, 5 years, 65 years, or not at all. His arm is not too short, and He desires you to spend eternity with Him. Won’t you surrender today?
CALL SINNERS TO RESPOND TO THE GOSPEL!
Geoffrey R. Kirkland, Elder-Shepherd
Christ Fellowship Bible Church
Someone once said that Christians should learn to plead with sinners to embrace Christ and escape hell. A child of God could faithfully give the gospel, speak of God and His character, man and His desperate need, Christ and His sufficient atonement, repentance and faith in clear terms, but one element that evangelists seem to omit is the urgent call for sinners to respond to the gospel! Paul said that he was not ashamed to beg! He pleaded with sinners to come to Christ. Whitefield loudly and lovingly wept as he urged sinners to turn to Christ and live! Spurgeon spoke of this kind of urgent pleading with frequency. The Puritan preachers spent a good deal of time in their sermons exhorting sinners to embrace Christ and follow Him. We should learn from these examples and do the same. We must call sinners to respond to the gospel.
How should Christians ‘call for a response’ when speaking the gospel?
1. Call for a response in OBEDIENCE TO SCRIPTURE.
Elijah called the pagans to ‘choose whom they would serve’: if Baal was god, follow him; if Yahweh was god, follow Him. Joshua told the children of Israel to ‘choose whom they would serve’ and he modeled it by saying that he and his household would serve the LORD. Jesus pleaded with His disciples to ‘compel sinners’ to come to the wedding feast. Paul pleaded with Herod to repent and come to Christ. As ambassadors of God Almighty, believers must take Paul’s words and beg for men and women to be reconciled to God. We must call for a response! We must plead with folks to embrace Christ! We must follow the example set before us by the Apostles: “Repent and believe the gospel!”
2. Call for a response in FOLLOWING CHRIST’S EXAMPLE.
The life and ministry of Christ unveils His heart as He pleaded with sinners repeatedly and patiently to come to Himself for salvation. Often, in the Temple against the backdrop of the hypocritical, works-righteousness system of Judaism, Christ would teach how He came down from heaven as the living Bread, as the water of life, as the door to heaven, as the Shepherd for the sheep, as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and he invited all to come to Him. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me. He exemplified not only the clear and bold proclamation of gospel-truth, but he also modeled urgent and compassionate exhortations to respond to the gospel. We must do the same.
3. Call for a response in WARNING AGAINST UNBELIEF.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel that saves. The gospel of Jesus Christ delivers from hell. No other message on the planet can save from eternal perdition. No other Name given to sinners can deliver from damnation. No other substitutionary work can atone for sins and remove God’s just fury. The good news of Jesus Christ and His cross-work and His imputed righteousness is what saves. It is for this reason that every evangelist should incorporate into his gospel conversations a warning against unbelief. Repeatedly, Jesus said that whoever does not have the Son does not have the Father. Whoever rejected the Apostles in their itinerant preaching rejected the Son and whoever rejected the Son rejected the Father. No one can have the Father without the Son. None can say yes to the Son and say no to the Father. There is no way to come to the Father but through the one door: Jesus Christ. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No other path exists whereby one may come to God the Father. Tellers of the gospel must warn sinners of this! To not believe is to commit the sin of unbelief. To live in unbelief is to persist in willful sin. To refuse to bow the knee to Christ now is to live in unbelief and sin now. Christians should faithfully proclaim the gospel, diligently call sinners to respond to the gospel, and boldly warn sinners against rejecting the gospel and dying in the state of willful rejection of the truth (even after having heard the faithful gospel presented to them). Warn the sinner, O Christian!
4. Call for a response in COUNTING THE COST.
Jesus did not preach a gospel akin to many of the popular evangelists in the 21st century today. He never told His followers that they would enjoy wealth, happiness, better health, and certain peace in and of themselves. Rather, he told them to die to themselves. He commanded them to lose their lives. He told them to hate everything on earth in comparison with the supreme love they must have for Him alone. He required exclusive allegiance. He demanded that they forsake any and all other options of attaining righteousness. He warned them that they would die for the faith. He informed them that suffering would certainly come upon them. He spoke that they would be rejected, despised, mocked, and endure much hardship for the gospel. Yet he still called for sinners to respond to the gospel. Perhaps this is why many of the ‘followers’ (=disciples) of Jesus heard his teachings and then ‘left him and followed Him no more.’ A faithful gospel proclamation that models the heralding of Christ should include a plea to count the cost. Unless one gives up all his possessions (that is, a willingness to renounce everything and anything for the cause of Christ), he cannot be Christ’s disciple. O Christian, include this in your gospel call!
5. Call for a response in RELIANCE ON THE SPIRIT.
Jesus Himself preached that the Spirit gives life. No one can come to Me, Jesus said, unless the Spirit of God draws Him. One must be born from above and be born of the Spirit. Jesus believed that new life eternal does not come at a sinner’s own whim. No one enters heaven because of his own freewill. No one chooses Christ because he desires the fire insurance so as to escape hell merely. O Christian, evangelize with such a reliance on the Spirit that you understand that no dead sinner can come to life unless the Spirit of God regenerates him first. Life must first enter the sinner before he can call out to Christ in saving faith and be justified. Rely on the Spirit in all your gospel conversations! Pray passionately! Pray persistently! Pray constantly! Pray believingly! Call sinners to respond to the gospel with all the persuasive mechanisms you have — and yet realize that you can’t do anything in the slightest to save someone, or even make them desire it more. It fully rests on the sovereignty of the Spirit. So call for a response as you confidently trust in the Sovereign grace of the Spirit of God to take your words and bring life.
6. Call for a response in COMPASSION FOR THE SINNER.
A sick patient sitting in the doctor’s office may hear the news of a life-threatening illness that has come into his body and as the doctor gives him the news and the grave consequences, the doctor who really loves his patient will offer the one medicine that can deliver the person from death. He not only describes the only solution available; he urges the patient to receive it — immediately. The physician does this because he cares for his patients. And how much more must the child of God proclaim the gospel to the lost and hellbound out of great love for their immortal souls! The Christian has the only solution to escape hell. The child of God knows the only path to escaping the tidal wave of God’s rage. The believer possesses the only shield and refuge to protect from the flaming and soul-piercing darts of God’s eternal fury. In telling the good news of salvation, the Christian should call for a response out of deep compassion for the sinner. O may the sinner escape hell. O call for the rebel to run for refuge to Jesus Christ! O plead with the transgressor to come to Christ, the wrath-bearing sacrifice who died for His people and offers them His righteousness through repentance and faith in Him. O may the evangelist’s compassion boil! O may the proclaimer run after sinners and plead with them, hold to them, persuade them, and urge them to flee from the wrath to come with a Christ-like and a Christ-pursuing passion!
Reposted by Permission from Pastor Geoffrey Kirkland
HT: Vassal of the King