Prepared for Gentle Respect

1 Peter 3:15But in your hearts set apart Christ Jesus as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. (NIV 1978)

My Musing – In a world with little hope, Christians should stand out because of their hope. This is likely to raise questions. Questions we should be able to answer (although many are unprepared). We should not be arrogant or condescending in our replies. The lost deserve our pity and compassion, not a “holier-than-thou” response.

My Advice – Be gentle in your responses. Respect their right to choose for themselves. Do not lose your gentleness if they do not choose Christ. There may be another time and how you respond to them now may make some difference later.

Study 6 – All Christians Believe In Evangelism?

Screenshot (187)Ephesians 2:1-5 – As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings (lusts, passions) of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive (quickened us) with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (NIV 1984)

Divine Initiative – 1st step of salvation brought to pass unilaterally and exclusively by the power of God.

Total Depravity – 1st of the five “Tulip” points of Calvinism (T – Total Depravity of Man; U – Unconditional Election; L – Limited Atonement; I – Irresistible Grace; P – Perseverance of the Saints). Does not mean utter depravity (man is as bad as he can be). Better term is radical (root, core of existence) corruption (sin affects the whole man – mind, body, will, soul, spirit). All of us walk or follow the ways of this world gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature.

But GodBut God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Ephesians 2:4-5, NLT).

The point is: But God, not but man, made us alive even though we were dead (not sick, not dying) because of our sins. Divine initiative – 1st step is accomplished by God not man.

Once made alive, man can choose, believe and repent because we are alive to God. Before we are made alive one cannot do any of this. Dead men don’t choose. Dead men cannot choose.

The question is: why do evangelism?

Pre-Destined – If some are chosen (pre-destined) from the creation of the world, and some are not, with or without anyone bearing witness, why do evangelism. Because Jesus commands it!

The question is: why command something that is not necessary?

God has not only sovereignly decreed the end (elected), but He has also sovereignly decreed the means (evangelism) of bringing man to salvation. He did not need us to accomplish His unconditional election, but He chose to include us as the means.

Evangelism – Both a duty and a privilege.

Notes from: Chosen by God, R.C. Sproul

Show and Tell

Philemon 6I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith. (NIV 1978)

My Musings – Witnessing is more than just how we “show” our faith by how we live our lives. It is also about how we “share” our faith in words. People need evidence (show) and testimony (share) in order to reach a verdict about accepting Christ.

My Advice – Don’t be afraid to share your faith with others. Some will reject, some will ridicule, some will hate. But none of this is directed at you. And remember, some will accept Christ, and that is a great thing to be a part of.

Milestones

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I Have Something To Say – My first blog was August 12, 2017.  Since then, I have written 591 musings.  This weekend, I got my 10,000th hit.  While the U.S. has over 90% of the hits (naturally), my site has been visited by individuals in 57 countries covering six continents (still waiting for Antarctica).  Other than the U.S., my top viewers are (in order of frequency) from India, Ireland, Canada, Indonesia, United Kingdom, South Africa, China, South Korea, Nigeria and Hong Kong.  Most of the other countries (like Australia, Fiji, Iraq, Myanmar, Qatar, Vietnam,  and Zambia) had only one hit.  At any rate, people in countries from A to Z have been shared The Word at least once.  Trusting that I really did have something to say, and that it was God who really sent it, it will not return without accomplishment.  Maybe I’ll get to meet most of you on the “other side” one day.  Many of you I know already know, (like my mom who probably has 8.999 hits – just kidding, kind of).  Thanks to all of you, especially my “frequent flyers.”

While these stats might seem like a lot to some, they are pretty modest compared to many other blogs I’ve seen and are following (they are an inspiration). But, they are encouraging enough that I will keep blogging “for the Kingdom.” For a bit longer at any rate.  My biggest disappointment so far is the lack of comments from those that read my blogs.  I have had a few, but I was looking forward to a bit of “iron sharpening iron” as comments go back and forth.

Thanks again, and I leave you with a re-blog of the one that started it all.

You Are Free

Genesis 2:16And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (NIV 1978)

My Musing – Freedom (“you are free”), responsibility (“you must not eat”), choice (“when you eat”) and consequences (“you will surely die“). A complete package, all present from the beginning.

Freedom is not a license to act outside the will of God. While we may choose to do so, there will inevitably be consequences if we do.

My Advice – Be responsible in how you exercise the freedom that God gives you. Make wise choices that are consistent with God’s moral laws. This way you can avoid the consequences of wrong choices.

The Devolution of Man (The Termination of the Species)

 

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What’s On Your T-Shirt?

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Matthew 28:18-20Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – My dad did not originate the saying, but he liked to quote it “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”  I wonder what makes some think the mission statement in Matthew 28 is broken and needs our “fixin’?”

A disciple is someone who follows another person or another way of life and who submits himself to the discipline (teaching) of that leader or way.(1)  This begs the question: what would make someone want to follow and submit to Jesus?  And then, how do we make disciples?  How do we fulfil our co “mission” statement given to us by Jesus?

People need to hear from us the teaching of Jesus (what we say) and see in us the life of Jesus (what we do).  It takes more than a program, t-shirt, bumper sticker or coffee mug to communicate the Gospel.  It takes a life that is transformed.  If people do not hear and see the Master in what we consistently say and do, how can they possibly become a disciple of someone that we claim to be a disciple of?  If we are not faithful in our  representation of Kingdom living, how can we possibly expect others to want to be subject to its King?

My Advice – We cannot make disciples if we are not disciples ourselves.  What we say and what we do must be in agreement and must be a reflection of Christ.

  • John 10:27My sheep listen to my voice [what we say]; I know them, and they follow me [what we do]. (NIV 1984)
  • 1 John 3:18Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. (NLT 2013)

(1)Helm, P. (1988). Disciple. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 629). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

It’s the Gospel, Stupid!

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Isaiah 52:7How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” (NIV 1984)

My Musings – In the spring of 1991, following an immensely successful invasion of Iraq, President Bush’s (the first one) approval rating was 90%.  He was considered unbeatable as he looked ahead to his reelection bid the following year.  Then, the economy began to sour, and by late summer of 1992 (just weeks before the election) 64% of Americans disapproved of his job performance.  With this dramatic reversal of fortune, the Clinton campaign’s slogan became “it’s the economy, stupid!”  The slogan’s intent was to keep the campaign focused on the real issue of that year’s presidential election – the economy, President Bush’s Achilles’ heel.  They could have lost their way and become side-tracked on less important or even non-essential issues and lost the election.  The slogan was meant to be the rallying cry to get them back on track to what was important in order to win the election. It did and they did.

I think evangelical Christianity is in need of a similar slogan today to get it back to its “prime directive” – It’s the Gospel, stupid!  My intent here is not to throw rocks at someone else’s “glass house,” because I consider myself to be an evangelical Christian.  But what does the term evangelical Christian mean anyway?  Here is an excerpt from someone else’s musings [with some editorializing by me thrown in] that might prove helpful ( from https://www.gotquestions.org/evangelical-Christian.html):

“In Western culture today, there are many caricatures of evangelical Christians. For some [perhaps an understatement], the term evangelical Christian is equivalent to ‘right-wing, fundamentalist Republican.’ There is no doubt that holding to the fundamentals of the Bible will result in a certain worldview and, yes, political [political maybe, moral certainly] beliefs. However, there is nothing about being an evangelical that demands a certain political party or affiliation [or gives them a monopoly on morality].”

“The term Christian essentially means ‘follower of Christ.’  The term evangelical comes from the Greek word that means “good news.” Evangelism is sharing the good news of the salvation that is available through Jesus Christ. An evangelical, then, is a person dedicated to promoting the good news about Jesus Christ. Combined, the description “evangelical Christian” is intended to indicate a believer in Jesus Christ who is faithful in sharing and promoting the good news.”

“A Christian is called [actually commissioned by Christ] to share [evangelize] the good news [Gospel], to preach God’s Word, and to set an example of [not dictate to] purity and integrity. If these callings require [require may be too strong of a term] political action, so be it. At the same time, evangelical Christians should not be sidetracked into abandoning our highest calling—sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

So, back to my musing.   It’s the Gospel, stupid!  Gospel is a word that is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell denoting “glad tidings” or “good news” (Baker encyclopedia of the Bible).  Among other definitions, stupid means  not intelligent, not sensible, not interesting or worthwhile (Merriam-Webster).

Evangelical Christians need not be apolitical, nor should they compromise their convictions or beliefs in the name of political expediency.  Speaking the truth in love is not mutually exclusive.  We should not speak the truth in an offensive or hateful manner, nor should the truth need to be silenced or watered down in order to keep peace and love.  While we cannot keep the world from hating us (Jesus said they would because they hated Him), nor finding the Gospel offensive (Paul said many would), we need not be hateful or offensive such that others find the “good news” to be “not intelligent, sensible, interesting or worthwhile” because of how we proclaim it.

My Advice – Let’s share what’s in our “lunchbox” with love and concern.  Let’s not beat others over the head with it in arrogance or self-righteousness.  It’s the Gospel, stupid! Let’s stay on task (get back on track).  Let’s help win the “election” for the lost.  Let’s keep our feet “beautiful” by bringing “good news,” proclaiming “peace,” bringing “good tidings,” and proclaiming “salvation.”  After all, its the only “campaign” with eternal consequences.  Our God reigns!

 

You Will Be My Witnesses

Acts 1:8 – “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (NIV 1978)

My Musings – We will be witnesses one way or the other – either good or bad.

My Advice – Make up your mind to be a positive witness by walking the walk and talking the talk. You need both.