What Does 2 Peter 3:9 Teach?

There are many in the Christian community who believe that God wants to save all men, based in part on 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV): The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. It seems clear to many that this verse teaches exactly that – God wants all men to come to faith in Christ Jesus. Since it is just as clear that not all men do come to faith in Christ Jesus, something else is needed. Enter Charles Finney and his “new methods” and other things within our control. Is this what honors our Creator and King?  bibleTeaching

This short article is not a comprehensive examination of any “new methods” nor of the overall nature of the atonement – Is it intended for all men or only for those chosen by God to be saved? I simply want to examine the question, What does 2 Peter 3:9 teach? As with all such questions, we run to the first rule of hermeneutics – context! What does the paragraph teach, what does the chapter and book teach? What does the whole Bible teach about the topic?

The first contextual element gives clear evidence of the intended meaning of verse 9. Let’s read the paragraph in which this verse appears. It is widely agreed that a new paragraph starts with verse 8, although where the paragraph ends appears to be another matter. The ESV is shown below.

2 Peter 3:8 – 10 But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.

Peter opens this paragraph addressing his audience: the beloved, his brothers and sisters in Christ. Whatever comes directly after this is intended for Christians, not for the world. The main idea presented in this paragraph is that our Lord is not tied to calendars and time, that His promise to the elect is a sure thing that will come to pass, culminating in a dramatic event that cannot be missed.

Verse 9 begins with a clear indication of the subject of the Lord’s desire: YHWH is patient toward you (ESV), or longsuffering to us-ward (KJV). God is patient towards the beloved, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. Not wishing that any of what group should perish? If we take verse 9b out of its context, we are free to imagine that Creator God wants to save everybody. As I observed in the opening, that brings in all sorts of questions and has serious consequences on our theology of salvation.  But if we allow the Word of God to guide us, the immediate context tells about whom verse 9 speaks. YHWH is addressing His beloved, and towards them He is patient, not willing that any of His redeemed lose heart but trust Him to bring to completion that which He started, as YHWH Himself builds His temple (1 Cor 3:9 & 16; 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16) with the spiritual stones (Eph 2:19 – 22; 1 Peter 2:4 & 5) He has chosen. To claim verse 9 shows that YHWH desires all men to be saved actually works violence on the Scriptures, leading one to conclude the Creator and Sustainer and Judge of all things is unable to bring His desires to pass – contrary to what is declared about Him in Psalms 115:3 and 135:6.

When our interpretation of Scripture puts limits on God (beyond what the Bible describes, in that He cannot lie nor can He stop being YHWH), we know our interpretation is wrong. Every instance I know of wherein men do such a thing has been founded on a view of man that is too high and a view of God that is too low. Rather than attempt to bring God down to our understanding, we should bow before Him as revealed in Scripture and worship Him in humility.

Before we take a look at the greater context within this letter, it will be helpful to review the overall structure of this letter. Chapter 1 has a short greeting with an emphatic description of the believer’s positon and security in Christ Jesus, and an exhortation regarding the truth of the gospel. Chapter 2 is a warning about false teachers, their characteristics and their doom. Chapter 3 turns again to the believers to provide comfort in the promises of God, His power over all creation, and the beautiful culmination of His grand plan of redemption of sinners, with words of instruction to continue to learn about our Lord until He returns.

Now let’s see if there be any reason to overturn the clear meaning of our subject paragraph. Chapter 3 begins in much the same way as verse 8, as Peter addresses the audience of his letter as “beloved”, contrasting these dear brothers and sisters with scoffers and false prophets who question whether Christ will return. And in passage that ends this chapter, and the letter, Creator God addresses His people as “beloved” in verse 14 and 17, connecting them with this characterization with the Apostle Paul in verse 15.

The letter begins with a greeting to the saints, who are the beloved: Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Every sentence in this chapter is addressed to these saints, and we see the first use of the word “beloved” in verse 17 as it is used to describe God the Father’s view of His Son. There can be no argument that being called “beloved” in this letter is anything less than a glorious reference to our status as children of the most high God.

Since chapter 2 addresses believers indirectly, as Peter describes the enemies of God, we have nothing to add to our review of the topic in this chapter.

2 Peter begins and ends calling Christians “beloved”, as a reflection of our standing in Christ, and in verse 3:9 it is these people about whom Peter says God is patient towards and not willing that any of them would perish. This is not a half-baked promise to lost people that they can ask Jesus into their hearts and be saved. It is a glorious promise to Christians that those chosen before time (Eph 1:4; Rev 13:8) will be raised from spiritual death to new life in Christ Jesus before that terrible day of judgment. When He returns, one time, it will be bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him (Heb 9:28), those who have been called (John 6:36 – 44). Verse 9 is a promise from God that God will keep His promise to save every sinner He chose – none will perish, but all will come to faith and repentance. Let the saints praise His name!

Evidence that Cannot Save

Evidence that Cannot Save Law

A review by Stuart Brogden

John Warwick Montgomery has an impressive resume – author of more than 60 books in in 6 languages; he holds eleven earned degrees; is admitted as a lawyer to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court; and is a Distinguished Research Professor at Concordia University Wisconsin. That’s something of note. He has written a short book, History, Law, and Christianity, which is divided into two parts that examine the historical and legal evidence for Christianity. One of his colleagues at the university, Rod Rosenbladt, endorses this book and encourages readers to buy several copies, “because you will end up doing what I do. You will give copies to non-Christians!”

And this perspective reveals the faulty foundation of this work – it is presented as a compelling argument for the biblical account of Jesus that can bring lost people into the kingdom of God. We should not overlook the excellent examination of historical and legal evidence that does support the biblical accounts – but we cannot fall into the trap of thinking evidence or philosophical arguments will save anyone. This faulty foundation shows up early in the book – page 4, as the author declares, “Like Cambridge professor C.S. Lewis, I was brought ‘kicking and struggling’ into the kingdom of God by the historical evidence on behalf of Jesus’ claims.” On page 31, Montgomery serves up a short quote by Pliny the Younger, circa 122, showing how early Christians met for worship, and he then comments, “From that day to this all Christians – Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant – have worshiped Christ as God on the basis of the historically impeccable testimony of Jesus’ own followers and of those who knew them intimately.”  Let’s leave aside the issue of which Jesus is embraced by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics and just focus on the thrust of Montgomery’s statement. It is another declaration that people come to saving knowledge of Christ on the basis of evidence and confidence of arguments based on that evidence.

This cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. If the author’s perspective is true, we need to witness with an eye towards saving people contrary to the Apostle Paul – And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5, ESV)

As with other books that have been written in this vein, this book can be quite useful for Christians who want to grow in their confidence of the biblical record, but is dangerous as a witnessing tool. People convinced by such evidence and sound arguments may very well end up having a faith that rests in the wisdom of men. We are ambassadors of the cross, not of historical evidence. People are brought into a saving knowledge of Christ Jesus by the work of His Spirit, as we proclaim His gospel. The flip side of the coin offered up by Montgomery is the attractive but just as faulty view that we can save Mormons (or others) by showing them factual errors in their religious books and doctrines. We cannot argue anyone into the kingdom of God.

That being said, this book has much encouragement for the saints. Montgomery rightly refutes post-modernism, false philosophical arguments, and liberal theology. He provides a very credible and readable defense of the person and deity of Christ Jesus from the historical record and the legal perspective, starting off (page 8) reminding us our faith is not blind or without evidentiary support: “Christian theology cannot be divorced from logic and history.” Since the gospel is centered on the work and person of Christ Jesus, we must accept the biblical record as factual – not something merely mystical – just as Jesus did when He talked about Adam, Jonah, Abraham, and other ancients from Moses’ account. Montgomery reminds us that while we can gain much from reading books written by other Christians, our faith and our truth are founded on the “primary documents” – the word of God. This is good stuff!

On page 11 and following, our author examines the historical credibility of the Bible, looking at biographical evidence, internal evidence, and external evidence. In each of these areas, the Scriptures excel in comparison to other historical persons and events accepted by all with far less support in all of these areas. Does this not reinforce the fact that such evidence cannot bring about the change that happens when one is born by again by the will of the Creator? But to see how blind lost people are to truth and willing they are to believe anything else, Montgomery observes: “To express skepticism concerning the resultant text of the New Testament books (as represented, for example, by Nestle’s Novem Testamentum Graece) is to allow all of classical antiquity to slip into obscurity, for no documents of the ancient period are as well attested bibliographically as the New Testament.” We can have confidence in our God because His Word is reliable. But we believe His Word because He opened our mind to His Truth when He made new creatures in Christ.

The second part of this short book focuses on the legal defense of the faith. He begins (page 47) by pointing out that every false religion is self-validating, a standard that very post-modern would embrace. “Christianity, on the other hand, declares that the truth of its absolute claims rests squarely on certain historical facts open to ordinary investigation.” The edge of the knife – our faith is fact-based, historically, archeologically, and philosophically; but can only be embraced if we are raised from spiritual death by the Author of all Truth. By nature, men suppress the Truth (Roman 1:18) and cannot will or desire to see it (Isaiah 64:7). Beginning on page 51, Montgomery addresses “four overarching questions” that “need to be addressed: (1) Are the historical records of Jesus solid enough to rely upon? (2) Is the testimony in these records concerning his life and ministry sufficiently reliable to know what he claimed about himself? (3) Do the accounts of his resurrection from the dead, offered as proof of his divine claims, in fact establish those claims? (4) If Jesus’ deity is established in the foregoing manner, does he place a divine stamp of approval on the Bible so as render it pronouncements apodictically certain?” Then he uses classical legal reasoning to examine each of these.

Our author examines motives for false testimony and the complexities of deception, providing nifty charts to show the various points of tension in each false presentation. Telling lies requires excellent memory and collaboration – and falls apart rather easily under competent cross-examination. The culture of disciples provided a cross-examination of sorts, making it impossible for them to carry on a life based on lies when so many Jews and Romans, who were hostile to their claims, walked among them day by day.

His last paragraph is worth a close read: “To meet man’s desperate need for apodictic (clearly established or beyond dispute) principles of human conduct, an incarnate God must not speak with a forked tongue. And, as we have seen, no divine stuttering has occurred. To the contrary, his message can be relied upon as evidentially established, a sure light shining in a dark world, illuminating the path to eternity.” Note this clearly – “His message can be relied upon.” We have been entrusted with His message, not our own. His message is the simple, foolish message of the cross, the story of the fall of man, the perfect life of the solitary God-man who earned the right to take the punishment for our sins and make a way for sinners to be reconciled to holy God. That is the life-giving message that He has given us – and we have nothing to be ashamed of when we proclaim it. The message is credible because the Author is credible. Once He gives new life, we can appreciate and embrace the trustworthiness of the message.

The Gospel in the Old Testament

The Gospel in the Old Testament. christ-in-the-old-460x259

What follows is a portion of what will be in part 2 of the book I am writing (Reformed and Baptist). I would like any constructive criticism ya’ll may be able and willing to contribute.

Perhaps the most clear, comprehensive illustration of the gospel in the Old Testament is portrayed in the story of the great flood. In the days of Noah, as in most eras of humanity, men were evil and there were few who knew and worshiped the One God. Noah found favor in the eyes of YHWH (Gen 6:3). Noah alone, of all the men on earth at that time, found favor in God’s sight. What does this mean? Abraham declared that he had found favor in God’s sight (Ex 33:12 & 13) and Moses, like Noah, is said by YHWH to have found favor in His eyes (Ex 33:16 & 17). Each man was solitary in his standing as God’s chosen vessel in the midst of a wicked and crooked generation, just as was the Christ to whom each of these men pointed. These mortal men, however, had no righteousness of their own, as the types always fail to fully portray the anti-type. They found favor in God’s sight because, as we see in the tale of Joseph in Egypt (Gen 39 – 50), God was with each of them and His favor was given to each of them. While each of the ancient patriarchs serve our purpose of showing how salvation has always been by grace given to sinners through faith given to sinners to believe God’s message about the promised Savior, Noah is the one example we will focus on.

In verse 9 we read that Noah was righteous, blameless in his generation – because he walked with God. Here, again, we must not read too much into these adjectives describing Noah. No natural man has ever been or will ever be truly blameless or righteous before God unless God justifies him and makes Him so (Ecc 7:20); there is no one who calls upon God, no one who rouses himself to take hold of Him (Isa 64:7). Noah’s blamelessness means he was circumspect in his living and did not give his generation cause to blaspheme God, just as described in 1 Tim 3:7, wherein the qualifications of elders are revealed. As our Lord kept Himself pure (John 17:4), using His walk with and prayer to His Father (Luke 22:39 – 46) to strengthen Him, so Noah was strengthened by walking with God – just as you and I are in our day. The earth was corrupt in God’s sight, filled with violence (verse 11); note the contrast to Noah, who found favor in God’s sight. As He will do at the end of the age, God the Righteous Judge declared His judgment upon the wicked world (verse 13) and told Noah how to save himself and his family (verses 14 – 17). Noah was told to make an ark and make many rooms in it, for the salvation of his family and all the animals God would shut up in the ark (Gen 7:11 – 17). None but the people and animals that God called would be allowed in the ark, none but those effectually called by YHWH into His provision of refuge would be saved. The vast majority of the earth’s population was consumed by God’s wrath; there was no refuge for anyone other than being in the ark (verses 20 – 23).

Do you see how this story points us to Christ? He was the solitary Son who was pleasing to the Father, hated by the world (John 15:18 & 19) and the wicked and corrupt generation that was seeking after signs (Matt 16:4). God pronounced His judgment that will cause the earth and its starry heavens to burn up and be consumed in His wrath (2 Pet 3:10), brought forth in resurrected glory as will His children be (1 Cor 15:35 – 49). Jesus went to prepare many rooms in His Father’s house, promising to take us there (John 14:2 & 3). The house, the temple (Eph 2:21 & 22), the city in which our Lord will dwell with those He saves (Rev 21:1-3); is built up of His elect, spiritual stones (1 Pet 2:4 & 5); firmly planted on the foundation laid by Jesus (1 Cor 3:11) and the prophets and apostles (Eph 2:20) – our Chief Cornerstone (Acts 4:11) and the other foundations stones that will never be shaken (Heb 12:28). None but those effectually called by God (John 17:1 & 2) will be allowed to enter in to the New Jerusalem that Christ is building by His blood and His righteousness (Heb 9:12; 1 Pet 1:18 & 19; 1 Cor 1:30).

I bring in a parable on baptism in chapter 2, so the reader will also know that this ark is specifically called out by Peter as a type, with the flood representing Jesus’ baptism in the wrath of God (1 Pet 3:21), the cup of which He drank – to the fullest, all the dregs (Psalm 75:2 – 8; Christ stood in our place as the one condemned, which is portrayed here) – to save those He predestined for that glorious end.

This is why I think this bit of history from God’s Holy Scriptures is one of the best for showing the comprehensive story of God’s redemptive purposes shown throughout His Word, which is the main theme in all of Scripture. Don’t take my word for it – this is what the Captain of our salvation said to dull minded disciples shortly after His resurrection. And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)

1 Billion Opportunites to Die

(The following article was written on another site, but I wanted to share it here as well)

There is a cliché that says there are six million ways to die. Have you heard it? I’m not sure of the veracity of such a statement, but even if that were true, that doesn’t concern me as much as how many opportunities there are to die. Regardless of the innumerable ways a person can die, the more sobering thought that should grip us is that every second that passes, and approaches, was/is another opportunity to pass away. Let me put this into perspective in a couple of ways.

If you drive, how many intersections do you cross while you drive? Ever counted? Have you ever thought about a drunk driver, a phone texter, or just a person not paying attention, running that red light, slamming into you, and killing you? Every intersection is another probability for that.

How about this. You are at work, at home, or anywhere else, and you have a brain aneurism, or a heart attack, or some other bodily organ fail on you, which costs you your life. Have you ever wondered how something like that can hit, literally, at any second? With six millionish ways to die, the probabilities that something outside of you, or inside of you, can take you out is absolutely flooring when you think about that reality. But, once again, the ways you can die is not as frightening as to how often that opportunity presents itself. Here is another perspective that I hope will rock your thinking. Since I am going to die at any time (whenever my time comes), I am going to use the smallest, most comprehensible measurement of time to show you how many opportunities I have personally had to die – the second.

To read the rest of the article, please click here.

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What Does God say about Bioethics?

Christian Bioethics 517UykgR7dL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_

A review by Stuart Brogden

This book, subtitled A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professional, and Families, is part of a series on Christian ethics published by B&H Publishing Group. I dare say anyone within each of those groups would be challenged to think more biblically about the relevant issues as well as being better informed by reading this book. In the preface, the series editor tells us the thesis of this book by asking this question: “How do we move from an ancient text like the Bible to twenty-first-century questions about organ transplants, stem-cell research, and human cloning?” This book, written by an ordained minister of the gospel (C. Ben Mitchell) and a physician (D. Joy Riley), gives solid counsel and these emotionally charged issues in 9 chapters, and is broken up into four parts: Christian Bioethics, Taking Life, Making Life, and Remaking/Faking Life. The format of each chapter is a look into a real life situation immersed in the subject, followed by questions for reflection, and Q & A between the authors. Other than a too frequent quoting of Roman Catholics as though that Church is Christian institution, this team provides solid insight from God’s Word on each of these topics.

Chapter 1 gives the reader an overview of the Hippocratic Oath which opened my eyes to the ancient context and false gods the oath was originally made to and the awareness that most doctors today do not subscribe to this oath, which we mostly know as the pledge to, First, do no harm. This was spelled out in explicit language that forbid euthanasia and abortion. The absence of a doctor’s oath to “do no harm” may cause a patient to wonder how much he can trust his doctor. In summing up this topic our physician author observes (page 22, italics in original) “Doctors should work hard to be trust-worthy and humble.” A few pages later (page 28), as they address stem-cell research, our minister reminds us, after quoting 2 Peter 1:3, “God has not left his people without guidance in every area of life. Although the Bible is not a science textbook, its message speaks to the deep underlying values that can guide decisions about scientific matters. Although the Bible is not manual of medicine, its truths may be applied to medical decision making.” This is a key perspective for every child of God to properly understand how to walk in the light of God’s Word. Much of the rest of chapter 2 is good advice for properly reading and understanding the Scriptures, taking into account literary, historical, and cultural context as well the genre of what is being read.

The chapter addressing abortion is sobering and probably eye-opening for most. The authors make a full-court press to establish the humanity of every life, starting from conception. Mitchell makes the essential connection between our view of Jesus and our view of humanity, developing the humanity of our Lord to show how every mortal is given value by the Creator – above all other life forms – from the time the egg is joined with a sperm. At the end of chapter 3, the authors exhort Christians to be active in opposing abortion and supporting life, but they draw no lines of getting involved with pro-life Roman Catholics. Christians must be deliberate and biblically thoughtful in deciding who to get cozy with in the public arena. The next chapter covers death and dying, providing thought-provoking observations about the details of pain and suffering and how one’s Christian world view informs us. A key element in handling the death of any person, they tell us, is to remember the patient (perhaps a close relative) is a human being, not merely a patient to be treated. “Much of the suffering of dying persons comes from being subtly treated as nonpersons.” (page 85) There is discussion of the efforts to extend life, even at the expense of that life being human. It is a long-held desire of fleshly human beings to grasp eternal life in our present form, without submitting to God’s revealed plan of redemption – which includes our death and resurrection. Being a faithful child of God includes how we approach death – do we trust our heavenly Father in our dying as did our Savior? Again, we get faithful advice (pages 100 & 101): “Through the resurrection of Christ, God has given us grounds to hope that death, however awful, will not have the last word.” Amen!

As they move from taking life to making life, the reader is presented with a biology lesson on how babies come into the world. They take this opportunity to reinforce the Christians view of anthropology (page 113): “Knowing that pregnancy occurs at fertilization rather than at implantation will help us make several important distinctions later.” They then cover several options medicine has provided for artificial this or that, discussing the line we cross regarding family integrity and God’s authority, observing (page 123), “When a third party intrudes on the procreative relationship, the divinely instituted structure of the family is altered. Trouble is bound to follow.” This may be unwelcome by some, who have such a great desire for a child that their love for the Word of God is overshadowed. All of us fall into this pit on one issue or another from time-to-time, so let us not rush to judgment.

The last part of this fine book covers the definition of death and the forces behind the changes we’ve seen in the last 50 years; organ donation and transplants; cloning and human/animal hybrids; and life extension practices. In this last category, we are introduced to trans-humanists, a group that wants to extent life in the human body and beyond. This was the topic of recent movie, Transcendence, which traced the consequences of a computer scientist whose “essence” was transferred into a powerful computer he had built. It gets very ugly before it ends. In summing up how we who profess Christ ought to look at aging, Mitchell provides a contrast between Christians and Trans-humanists (page 181): “Interestingly, the trans-humanists and Christians seem to have some common concerns. We share:

  • The quest for the good life.
  • Longing for immortality
  • Pursuit of the relief of human suffering
  • Appreciation for technology’s benefits.

Where we differ is in the mean to achieve these aims. For Christians the good life and the goods of life are found in God and his presence in our lives. The good life is not defined by the number of years one lives but the reality of God’s presence in however many years one lives. While we, like the apostle Paul, long for immortality, Christians understand that they already possess it. … Another place we differ with the trans-humanist is in loathing every human limitation. Because we are creatures and nor creators, we accept most limitations as gifts from the One who made us.”

And while there is much more in this book that will do the reader much good, I think that is a wonderful point on which to end this review. Christian – are you content with our God’s provision in your life? Do we think we deserve better than YHWH has given us? To quote the Apostle, “Who are you, oh man, to answer back to the One who made you thus?” Let us, as did the Lord Jesus, trust ourselves to the One who judges justly. Trust God, rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. In living and dying – and all that comes between those two finite points.

Apocity: The Greatest Omission

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

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