Monday, March 29, 2010

Saturday 03-27-10

The art festival was happening on Mill Ave this weekend, so roads are blocked off and there are tents set up in the middle of the street. It's all closed down at night, but there were still a lot of people wandering around. Tom and I met Dan and Allan out there, and distributed some tracts. Marcus and Phil stopped by later.

Tom started some trivia questions and had a crowd immediately. I moved away to hand out tracts to others, but you can check out Tom's blog for a video of how that went. Click on the title of this post and it will link you there.
Overall, it was a pretty average night on Mill.

Friday, March 26, 2010

¿Who is Taken?

Matt 24:40
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

Interesting verse. So, who is taken and who is left? Commentaries on this particular subject disagree.

Chuck Smith Commentary
Now, again two divergent interpretations. One says: they are taken away to judgment, and those who are taken away are the unfortunate ones because they are taken away for judgment. And those that are left are the fortunate ones. The other is that this is a reference to the rapture of the church. Those that are taken away are blessed, and those that remain stay for the judgment. And there are arguments on both sides. Whichever fits your scheme.

David Guzik says it's the good, as in the rapture of the Church.
David Guzik Commentary
a. Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left: Jesus here points to curious disappearances; to a catching away of some at the coming of the Son of Man (as also described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Matthew Henry agrees with this idea.

Matthew Henry Commentary
Here it is applied to them who shall be found alive. Christ will come unlooked for, will find people busy at their usual occupations, in the field, at the mill; and then, according as they are vessels of mercy prepared for glory, or vessels of wrath prepared for ruin, accordingly it will be with them; the one taken to meet the Lord and his angels in the air, to be for ever with him and them; the other left to the devil and his angels, who, when Christ has gathered out his own, will sweep up the residue.

However, John MacArthur sees it differently. He says that it is the wicked who are taken away and the good are left.

Another good indepth commentary on this issue can be found at

Here is just a short piece of it, but I would suggest going to the link and reading the whole thing, if you're interested in this particular study.

Of related interest is a passage in Matt. 13:24-30 where Jesus gives the parable of the sower who sows good seed in his field and someone sows tares. The servants asked if they should go immediately and gather up the wheat. But, in verse 30, Jesus says, "Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn."

The point worth noting here is that the first ones gathered are the weeds, not the wheat. This is most interesting since Jesus explains the parable in Matt. 13:36-43 and states that they will be cast into the furnace.

Additionally, when we turn to Luke 17:1, which is the parallel passage of Matt. 24, we discover that the disciples ask Jesus a question in response to Jesus’ statement that "two will be in the field and one will be taken." In verse 37 they ask, "Where, Lord?" they asked. He [Jesus] replied, "Where there is a dead body, there the vultures will gather."

They are taken to a place of death.

This seems to make sense. The mentioning of a dead body and vultures doesn't seem like a good thing, does it?

There is a lot of info out there on this issue, from great theologians on each side, but here's a related question.

If it is the wicked that are taken, how does that work with the pretribulation rapture view? It would almost seem to be contradictory.

Any thoughts?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Letter from Hell

My friend, I stand in judgment now,
and feel that you're to blame somehow.
On earth I walked with you by day,
and never did you show the way.

You knew the Savior in truth and glory,
but never did you tell the story.
My knowledge then was very dim,
you could have led me safe to Him.

Though we lived together, here on earth,
you never told me of the second birth.
And now I stand before eternal hell,
because of heaven's glory you did not tell!

Saturday 03-20-10

Tom wasn't feeling well and I hadn't heard from anyone else, so I headed out to Mill Ave on my own. When I arrived, Allan was already there handing out tracts.

We continued distributing tracts for a while, and then I got on the soap box. I didn't have any cash on me to do trivia, so I just preached the Word, taking people through the Law and their need of a Savior, then sharing the Grace of God through the Gospel.

We didn't really get into any productive one 2 one coversations, but did get quite a few tracts out there. Marcus, Phil and Mike showed up a little before 9:00, as did the last two remaining members of "the Resistance" (the 'atheists' who come out to oppose the street preaching with their megaphone).

But at that time, I was just playing some Sermon Jams through the speaker.
Sermon Jams
Relevant Revolution
Later on, I played some Apologetix (a Christian parody band), who take popular secular music and change the lyrics to Christian ones. They're pretty good, you can even find a few videos on YouTube.

After a while, Marcus started preaching so that the atheists would have something to do, since they can't really heckle music, and they looked bored. They hung around for a little while, but just didn't have too much to say. Overall, it was a pretty average night.
Pray for the lost, and pray for more workers in the harvest field (Luke 10:2).

Glory to God!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Saturday 03-13-10

Tom and I went out to Mill on Saturday night to share the Gospel with the lost. We met Jean out there and she's been getting more bold in talking with people. She started a few conversations, and I stayed nearby to see how she was doing and help her out if she got stuck.

First we met a woman named Megan who borrowed Tom's phone to call a friend. When she was done, she asked what we were doing out there, so we told her we were sharing the Gospel, and went through it with her. She said she'd heard it before, and had all the tracts that we offered her. She did seem a bit convicted as we were explaining the law to her, but I don't think she's repentant yet, even though she's heard it more than once. Pray for her, I suspect there is some sin in her life that she's holding onto that keeps her from submitting to Christ.

Then we met a Marine named Josh. He had taken a tract from Jean and came back to talk with her more about it. He was very nice and seemed to have a bit of knowledge of Christianity. Jean took him through the Good Person test, but it took some coaxing to get him to admit that, according to God's revealed standards for us, that we deserve hell. He didn't think that we could know for sure what God's judgment would be when we stand before Him. We took him through it and explained the Gospel, which he had heard before, but more of a watered down version, I believe. We left him with a couple of tracts and thanked him for his service in the military. Please keep him in prayer for a deeper understanding of the Gospel and truly understanding the need of repentance and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation.

Next an older gentleman named Bill stopped to talk. I usually don't get too many people to stop and talk, but God seemed to be bringing people to Jean for her to practice on and get more comfortable speaking with them about the Gospel.
Bill was very self-righteous, but very nice and soft spoken. He did admit to some "small lies, but nothing to harm anyone" but would not admit to stealing, blasphemy or even lust. We decided to concentrate on the one thing he had admitted, but he didn't see his little lies as anything wrong, since he didn't think they hurt anyone. I explained that it was primarily a sin against God, not people when he lied. And that the Bible tells us that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire, not just big mean liars, but ALL liars. He seemed to have a touch of post modernism too, but as we continued pressing him with the law, he became uncomfortable and decided that he had to go. Seeds planted, pray that God continues to work on him, convicting him and drawing him to true repentance.

I gave a tract to a young man walking by and he stopped to read through some of it. I asked if he had a Christian background, and he smugly said, "Roman Catholic" as he handed the tract back to me and continued on his way.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Group Emails

I recently received an email from a Christian friend, with another right behind it, apologizing because he had forgotten to hide everyone's email addresss.

I understand that it's the politically correct thing to do these days, when sending out a group email, to hide everyone's email address. I can see the point in this at times from a worldly perspective, but should we need to do this as Christians?

Why would Christians be upset that their email address was not hidden in an email going out to other like-minded Christians?
I’ve even heard of people that were actually angry that their email address wasn’t hidden went someone sent one out.
I don’t get it. As Christians, shouldn’t we have nothing to hide, to be transparent among other believers and held accountable?

On the other hand, I was told that someone used an emailing list like this to solicit funds for a business venture. Now, why would someone do that? We shouldn’t abuse our friendship among fellow believers. When asked to be removed from solicitation, the person refused. Is that a Christian way to act?

So, what's your opinion? Do you want your email address hidden when someone sends out a group email? If so, what are some of the reasons for doing so?

I prefer the email addresses to be visible, because then I know who else received the same thing and I don’t forward it to them again. If my email address gets misused, I’ll simply throw away the solicitation. I get lots of spam anyway.

Comments? Different points of view? What do you think?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Saturday 03-06-10

This week on the street was kind of crazy. I went out alone, as Tom was sick and Dan twisted his knee. I found Marcus out there, he’d been there all day by himself at the beer festival happening on Mill Ave.

I passed out some tracts, Marcus did a little open air preaching. A couple of drunks approached him, and some kids that wanted to ask some questions. I took the group of kids. They basically just had some skeptic type questions and comments about Christianity copying other religions. They told me I should watch a movie called “Zeitgeist.” I had heard of it, but didn’t know too much about it. I’ll have to look into it again.

I did some open air, and then some others joined us from Wally and Emily were talking to a Muslim from Turkey named Hussein. He had to go pick up his girlfriend, but promised he’d be back to discuss things further with them.

We passed out more tracts and then I got up to do some trivia. I gave away a couple of bucks and got a guy to stop for the good person test. He admitted to lying, stealing, blaspheming and lusting, knew he’d be found guilty and sent to hell, but it simply didn’t concern him. He had a little postmodernism in his thinking, and I could not get him to admit that the thought of hell concerned him. He didn’t believe it and would not go there. He said he respected what I was doing, and that he wouldn’t say that I was wrong but he didn’t believe it. He left with an “Are You Good Enough to Get into Heaven” tract and said he would read it.

Then a group of about 6 or 7 kids with gaged piercing in their ears showed up to ask a bunch of questions and heckle.

Another guy showed up to ask, “what if I get horny?” I had no answer for him, but when he pressed further I went into the 7th Commandment and lusting, but he claimed that wasn’t what he was talking about. Since he just wanted to distract and argue for shock value, I pretty much ignored him, so he claimed I had no idea what I was talking about.

Amidst all of this, Hussein came back to talk more, but I was the only one left, except for Justin, and he was talking to someone else. He wasn’t part of the original talk with Hussein anyway. Another young guy was asking me questions about different issues he had with Christianity, and claimed there were inaccuracies in the Bible. However, Hussein was a bit drunk and kept interrupting, and I never got a chance to talk to that guy. Hussein liked to debate, and neither of us was able to convince the other, but hopefully he had some stuff to think over later in the night. We shook hands and he left - please keep him in prayer.

A couple of drunken unbelievers stopped by to help pass out some tracts. I don’t know who gave them some, but they were handing them out.

Then there was the crazy guy who would dance around us chanting nonsensical lyrics about God, politics, the CIA, and whatever else popped into his head. Strange night, but God’s Word was proclaimed through preaching and tracts, and may He be glorified.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Do You Have the Gift of Evangelism?

First, let's understand the gift of evangelism, per Eph 4:11, and then we'll see if we might have this particular gift or a different one.

Eph 4:11-12
It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

We've got five different ones listed here, but we're just going to concentrate on the evangelist. It doesn't say that it's a gift to certain people though, does it? It's more of a function, and as we function in each of these roles, we become a gift of sorts to the Church.
We are the gifts. And what is our purpose? It tells us right there - to prepare God's people. For what? For works of service. Why? So that the body of Christ may be built up. That falls right in line with the Great Commission Mark 16:15.

Everything we do in life that has any value at all, we learn. We learn to talk and walk, we learn to drive, we go to school to learn to speak properly and to do math, we learn to function in our place of employment so that we can earn an income and continue living. Why do we think it's any different when it comes to Church? Witnessing to people about eternal life is not some evangelistic "gift" it's a command! It's not some natural gift, but something we must learn, just like everything else in life. If you are obedient to God, you will learn how to do what He commands. Which brings us again to the evangelist. Is the evangelist the only one out proclaiming the Gospel? No, ALL believers are commanded to do that. So what is an evangelist again? Someone who is equipping God's people.

If we function in a role out of obedience to the Lord, His equipping will follow. Remember, He uses the weak so that it will be known that it is by His power and not our own that things get done.

So, if you consider yourself too weak, too afraid, not knowing enough, or not able to speak well, then you've just qualified yourself for the task!

Now you understand that you are commanded as a Christian to preach the Gospel, and it is up to you to get yourself equipped so that God can use you. He doesn't need you, but He can use you, and what a privilege to be used for God's holy purposes.
Let's get you equipped so that you are not lacking in obedience when you stand before the Lord on Judgment day.

The Way of the Master (WOTM) is one Biblical and simple way to share your faith with anyone, and that's what I'm going to share here. Is this the only way to witness? No, but in order to be Biblical, witnessing is ALWAYS Law to the proud, grace to the humble.

James 4:6
But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

1 Peter 5:5
Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

And I don't know of any other witnessing style that follows the Biblical example, so yes, this is the only way to witness Biblically.

Now, many people may do great things, helping out underprivileged children, the homeless and hurting. These are good things and we should continue in them, but this is not witnessing. Even if we make it known that we are Christians and that is the reason that we do these things, it still is not sharing the Gospel.

Where is the explanation of what sin is, making it personal instead of some general description of all mankind, so that they can understand their hopeless condition? Where is the description of justice and the obvious consequences of what we deserve? Where is the definition of what repentance really is, and the need do so? Where is the explanation so that we know what we deserve and can completely understand that God would be totally just, totally righteous in His punishment of each and every one of us for eternity? Only when we understand His holiness, righteousness and justice, and contrast that to our own moral failure and wickedness, can we understand that if justice is served, we would all be in torment for eternity. Only when we know that we deserve that, can we even begin to grasp the concept of His love and what He's done to keep us from what we've all earned by our actions - eternal condemnation. Then we can see that He paid the fine of His own justice for us, that we might be saved from that fate. Then we can see the love and understand that it is not our works that save us, but that our works are done out of gratitude, that they are evidence that we comprehend the great sacrifice made for us out of the great love of God on undeserving, disobedient creatures. Only then does it make sense.

So, let's look into this and see how it works.
A person must understand their need for a Savior (because they've broken God's Law and need to understand it in a personal way), or the Gospel will never make sense to them. For example, if God loves us and has some sort of wonderful plan for our lives, then why would He throw any of us into hell? I mean, if God is all-powerful, and He loves me, I've got nothing to worry about. I would never throw someone I loved into eternal punishment, so I cannot imagine that God would, either. So then, why would there be any need to change anything in my life? I've got a cosmic insurance policy to keep me out of hell - God loves me and I believe in Him.
It would be just plain mean to throw one of His children into hell.

But when we understand that we are not all God's children, we start out as children of wrath and are given the right to be His children through Jesus Christ.

John 1:12
Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

1 John 3:10
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.

Romans 2:5
But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

We must understand God's character - holy, righteous and just, in contrast to our own - our hearts are deceitfully wicked, there are none found good, no not one. And yet, Prov 20:6 says that we will still proclaim our own goodness.
This is why the Law must be given first, with full understanding of how a person has personally broken it. We will not be graded on a curve, we will not be held in contrast to other people, but we will each be held to God's holy standard, revealed to us in outline form through the Ten Commandments.
The Law is a schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Gal 3:24)

Once one understands how they will stand up to God's holy standard, and can see their own hopeless condition, only then will they come to realize there is nothing they can do to earn God's favor, no possible way they can do anything for themselves. Once they understand that according to God's standard, each and everyone of us actually deserves to be thrown into hell for eternity in order for justice to be satisfied, only then can we start to understand the sacrifice made for us. Only then will we begin to comprehend the paying of our fine by God Himself, and then come to Him for salvation, submitting to His authority with gratitude for the undeserved grace and mercy that He has extended to all who will recognize this and give their lives to Him, not trample the sacrifice underfoot to continue the very things that nailed our Savior to the cross.

With that understanding, the Gospel message makes sense, our lives should be different, changed forever, as the fruit of the Spirit manifests in our lives.
So, is WOTM the only way to share your faith? Not necessarily. But using the Law then Grace is the only Biblical method to use. As long as you are doing that, you're following the example given in Scripture. I don't think there's any easier way to do this than the way it's explained in WOTM.

Should everyone be preaching on a street corner? Not everyone will do that, but we are commanded to share our faith. We can hand out tracts and speak to people one to one as well as preaching. But we must be doing something.

Many will use the excuse that not everyone is called to be an evangelist. Well, the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are there to equip believers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up, as per Ephesians 4:11-12.

The evangelist is the one preaching on the street corner. The evangelist is the one training and equipping people to be obedient and to share their faith with others. But the evangelist is NOT the only one sharing their faith, for the Great Commission is a command for ALL believers. So how do you share your faith? With whom, and how often? Are you being obedient?

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Are we a new creation (2 Cor 5:17)? Do our desires line up with God’s desires that none perish, but that all should come to repentance?? (2 Pet 3:9)

James 4:3
When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

If our motives are wrong, still putting our own selfish desires first, then we will not be granted those requests.

Psalm 37:4
Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.

But if we delight ourselves in the Lord and our desires will match His, those are the desires that will be granted.

So, do our desires line up with God’s desires, or are we still putting ourselves first? Have we truly been crucified with Him and truly submit to Him as Lord and Savior?

Luke 6:46
"Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?

This verse then goes on to give the parable of the wise and foolish builders, and how the destruction was complete for the one who built upon the sand.
And here’s something interesting. That same parable can be found in the Book of Matthew, directly following the scariest words in the entire Bible (Matt 7:21-23). Then it tells us that those who hear His words and put them into practice are like the wise builder (Matt 7:24-25). And those who do not are like the foolish builder, who suffers destruction (Matt 7:26-27).

Matthew 7:21-23
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'

Now, these were not even just lukewarm believers. They were doing works in Jesus’ Name, but with wrong motivation. How much less might one be known, who is doing nothing? Back to Luke 6:46.