Monday, May 30, 2011

URL Response

I received a couple of urls on strips of paper from a woman on Mill Ave who stated that she is the author of the first one, and believes that everyone should read the second one. According to the article that she says she wrote, her name is Melissa Trible.

So, here’s my response. Both articles are interesting and make some good points, although they seem to lack a full understanding of the core beliefs of Christianity. It’s not about some sort of fight with atheists to determine who is right in the end, or who can debate better. It’s not about us at all, but about the wrath of an eternal, holy, righteous and just Creator upon His rebellious creation . It’s about the danger of hell, whether you believe it or not really makes little difference. Go stand in on the freeway and state that you don’t believe in trucks – your belief or lack of it - is not going to make any difference in the outcome.

As Christians, we care about the atheist, the homosexual, the pagan, the heathen – they are all created in God’s image and all have value. If we didn’t care, we really wouldn’t need to say anything, there would be no “proselytizing” - the clumsy word unbelievers prefer to use. We call it “witnessing” or “evangelism”, but it all means the same thing.

Let’s get a few things straight. First, no Christian is any better than any unbeliever. If there is a self righteous arrogance in a professing Christian, there is a problem and that person is not holding to the Christian belief system that they claim to be holding to and need to check themselves in order to determine if they are truly in the faith or not.

Second, no one goes to hell because they don’t believe in the right thing. God’s moral Law is written on our conscience, and yet there is not a person on the planet who has not broken that Law. Thus every single one of us actually deserves punishment. That is why people go to hell, not because they don’t believe something. They go to hell because that is the punishment God has ascribed to those who break His Law, and it really doesn’t matter at that point what they believe or don’t believe or what lifestyle they choose to live during their short time on this earth.

Third, Christians are commanded to go forth and proclaim the Good News. And that is: Even though we all deserve eternal punishment for breaking God’s Law, He is loving and full of mercy, and He has provided a way to keep us out of the hell that we all deserve. He paid the fine for us, by coming down as a man, living a perfect life and then laying down that life as a sacrifice on our behalf. This leaves us only to repent, forsake and turn away from our sins and trust in Jesus Christ alone for the payment of our eternal fine. There is no other way and no hope other than this one way that has been provided for us.

So, the question arises to all professing Christians: “Do you really believe, that what you believe is really real?” The question may sound silly on the surface, but there is a deeper meaning if you contemplate it. If we truly did believe as we claim, wouldn’t there be more of us out there warning people and sharing the knowledge of eternal life? And doing so in a Biblical manner that glorifies our Lord?

Monday, May 23, 2011

Saturday 05-21-11

The class went well on Saturday afternoon, with a lot of new people coming to learn how to become equipped to share their faith in a simple, Biblical way. None of the new people were able to come out to Mill Ave tonight, due to different prior commitments, but some expressed interest in coming another time.

So, Norm, Tom, Catherine, Ronnie, Barbara, Brandt, Haleh and I met Alan and Joe out there. It was a busy night of evangelism. As we were setting up, a street preacher named Duane stopped by with a sign and a mic. He said he was familiar with WOTM teaching, but wasn't connected with it in any way. He said that he did use a balance of Law and Grace in his preaching, and seemed to have a pretty Biblical message from my conversation with him. He left and I didn't see him the rest of the night. Maybe we'll see him out there again, I'd like to hear him preach.

Since this was the day the rapture was supposed to happen according to Harold Camping, someone had nailed a shirt and a pair of shorts to a tree nearby, obviously making a joke of this unbiblical date setting.

No one knows the day or the hour (Matt 24:26, Matt 25:13, but we can know the season (Matt 24:32-33), and it sure seems that the season is upon us. Don't let false prophets (Jer 14:14, Jer 23:16) confuse the issue or stop you from going out and proclaiming the true Gospel.

I don't know when the end will be, but I will say that it's closer now than it's ever been before. And tomorrow, it will be closer still. But keep in mind, any individual's end may come at any time. 150,000 people die every day, that's two people every second - off into eternity.

Brandt got up on the box and quickly gathered a crowd of obnoxious drunks. They started out mocking and angry, but he was able to talk with them for a while and they seemed to settle into a good discussion, listening to each others points of view.

I did some Open Air Trivia and a man named Anthony stopped and went through the Good Person Test. He seemed to understand the message and even had a little conviction. He said that I was just trying to lure people in with the $5 prize, and was surprised when I gave it to him anyway, even though he didn't deserve it and couldn't earn it. We do this as a demonstration of God's grace in which He freely gives us salvation that we don't deserve and cannot earn.

Tom called me over to a man he had been talking with for a while. His name was Okechukwu (we had him spell that one for us), it's pronounced Okaychookoo and is a Nigerian name that means "gift of God."
We prayed with him and I asked him if he had a Bible. He said he only had a New World Translation, which is the Jehovah Witness version. I explained that particular version had some changes in it that no other Bibles included in order to implement the Watchtower Society teachings into it. I gave him a regular ESV Bible and we talked for a little bit. It seemed that he had recently been going to a JW Bible study, and some things weren't making sense. I told him that they believe that Jesus is not God, but Michael the Archangel, but there is nothing in the Bible to make a case for this. We talked about the Trinity, the deity of Christ and how He accepted worship, as well as some of the other JW doctrines that don't make sense. He seemed receptive and had been wondering about a lot of this stuff on his own. Please keep him in prayer that the Lord would keep him on a Biblical path and not let him be deceived by the Watchtower Society or any other cults.

I saw a guy nearby on his cell phone and when he finished his call, he came over asking to go through the Good Person Test. I told him I would base it on the Ten Commandments, and he mentioned the tables of Talmud or something, but he agreed to go through the test. (I looked into that later and found that the Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism, in the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history.)  He said he thought that we were in hell already, so I explained that there is some pleasure here, but there will be none in hell.

He said his name was Manuel, and I explained what God has done for us to keep us out of the hell that we deserve, that He came down in Jesus Christ, fully man yet fully God at the same time, lived a perfect, sinless life, and then suffered and died, crucified on a cross, to take on the punishment that we deserve. All that we must do is repent of our sins, turn away from them and trust in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation.

He understood the Gospel message and said that he appreciated what we were doing out here. He said he knows it's hard to see a lot of people walking by ignoring the message. He gave us some encouragement and said to keep it up. It seemed a little odd, but looking back on this with what I've found the Talmud is, I would guess that he was a Messianic Jew who was just checking to see if we were preaching a Biblical message or not.

A man named Clayton stopped to look at the Celebrity Board with a female friend, but she wandered off somewhere else while we talked. I transistioned to the Good Person Test and it seemed to make sense to him. I gave him a Gospel tract and he went on his way.

One of the atheists that hangs around with the Skeptic Tank (my name for our local group of atheists that comes out to oppose us) was looking at the Celebrity Board and asked me about it. This was a little odd, because I have seen him out there off and on for the past 4 years and had never heard him speak. I still don't even know what his name is, but he was giving me some advice on what I should be using to gather people's attention instead of the Celebrity Board. Maybe I should bring my "transitional species" out again.

 A drunk guy stopped to look at the Celebrity Board but didn't believe in God because of bad things that have happened in his life. I tried to explain that we live under a curse and that bad things happen due to man's sinfulness. He got a bit loud and angry at times, but he calmed down and we talked for a while, before he shook my hand and left. He wasn't open to spiritual things, but hopefully he will consider these things again on another day.

Soli Deo Gloria

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Saturday 05-14-11

This Saturday night we got a sitter so my wife could join me out on Mill Ave for evangelism. She and Catherine talked with a Christian man from Hungary for a while, and passed out some tracts. It was nice to have her out there with me.

I spoke with a couple of believers named Jordan and Jessica from Michigan, who seemed interested in what we were doing, so I gave them an invitation to the WOTM class we're having this Saturday.

I did some Open Air Trivia, and one woman got 3 questions right, while another guy named Aaron stepped up for the Good Person Test. He failed the test, as we all do when held to God's standard, and he seemed convicted. He was pretty quiet, so it was hard to tell what he was thinking. I gave him a "Are You Good Enough to Get into Heaven?" tract, and he hung around for a bit reading that.

Tom had a group of obnoxious teenagers - Mark and Taylor and about 5 others hanging around. Another young guy was video taping and said he would send Tom a copy. It turns out that they were all Mormons, except the one who was video taping.

A group of drunk women stopped by for the Good Person Test. It almost seemed that they all had heard this before, except one of them, and her friends wanted to subject her to it to see what kind of reaction they would get. I don't think any of them took it very seriously, but we went through it anyway.

We didn't get through the whole test, as she decided that I was judging her. I explained that I was doing no such thing, and asked her how. She said that I had called her a liar, a thief and blasphemer, but I had not. I pointed out that I simply asked some questions and that she had admitted those things herself. Well, she still wasn't happy about that, told me how she goes to church every Sunday and that she would be found innocent because God forgives everyone.
Now, that makes no sense at all, if you think about it. If you say that "God forgives", then you would have to be guilty, otherwise, there is no need for forgiveness. Innocent people do not need to be forgiven. Anyway, she wouldn't listen any more, and left with all her friends.

I've heard it said that just because a mouse gets into a cookie jar, it doesn't make him a cookie. Well, there goes another false convert, thinking that going to church on Sunday gives the right to live it up the rest of the week as the heathens do, trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb 10:29), never esteeming the sacrifice made to save us from our wretchedness.

These are the saddest encounters that we have. People who think that they are safe, when their actions clearly show that they are not. And they are normally not willing to discuss the issue, either. Atheists, pagans, agnostics and just plain unbelievers are all much more open to discussion. But the false convert, sitting in church every Sunday listening to the "love-only" gospel, never hearing that God is holy, righteous and just, that His wrath abides upon the sinner, that we must turn from our sins in repentance and trust in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, and that we will then be made a new creation (2 Cor 5:17). There are pastors who should be ashamed of themselves for not preaching the full Gospel.

We stopped at Subway afterwards, and spoke with an employee named David. He said he was a Christian involved in evangelism outreach through Phoenix International Christian Church. I haven't heard of it and haven't had the opportunity to look into the place yet.

Tom is having a class this weekend, which will be your last opportunity to attend if Harold Camping is right in his prediction of the end times (1 John 4:1). He claims that the end times will begin on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 6:00 pm. We should have finished the class by then and will probably be eating some dinner getting ready to head out to Mill Ave.
Assuming this is a false prophecy, which is pretty safe to say since the Bible tells us that no one knows the day or the hour (Matt 24:36, Mark 13:32), and the fact that this same guy predicted the end in 1994 as well, we'll be out sharing the Gospel with the lost. Hope to see ya out there!

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, May 9, 2011

Saturday 05-07-11

Tom and I met Alan, Ronnie, Marcus, Kat, Jennifer, Sean, Norm and Stan out on Mill Ave for witnessing to the lost in obedience to the Great Commission. It was nice to see Norm, we hadn't seen him in a while. He brought a video camera and recorded some Open Air preaching.
We had a few good conversations, Tom gave away a lot of glow sticks to people for going through the Good Person Test.

We talked with a guy who said he was a believer and gave him an invitation to the WOTM class Tom is having on Saturday, May 21st. Tom talked with a Muslim who was interested in coming as well. It should be an interesting class.

An atheist named John was hanging around looking at my celebrity board. I talked with him for a while, but he remained unconvinced. Surprisingly, most atheists will admit to one of the three main reasons for their lack of belief:

1. Pride - they consider themselves to be the top of the food chain, accountable to no one. They are too proud to submit to a holy and righteous Creator.

2. Sin - they have some sort of pet sin in their lives that they're unwilling to even consider giving up, so they deny God in an attempt to sear their own conscience and live in that sin guilt-free.

3. This one is least likely, but occasionally someone will feel that they have committed a sin so great that God could never forgive them, but this is simply untrue. God is able to forgive anyone who is repentant and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for their salvation.

Usually it's the first or second, or some combination of the two. But this guy would not admit to any of the three. I don't believe he was being completely honest with me, but he held to his unbelief.

He thought that God was unjust in judging people with an eternal punishment for a finite transgression. This reveals his pride, thinking that he knows better than God, that the Creator is somehow not as just as his creation is.
I believe that he also has some sin in his life, but he would not admit to what it might be. We talked for a while, and Sean spoke with him as well. He was not hostile, and we had a good discussion. Please keep him in prayer, that God would reveal Himself to him in a way that would convict him of his sin and draw him for salvation to the glory of God.

We handed out a lot of tracts and seeds were planted.

 Afterward, we stopped at Taco Bell, and saw this guy in a bathrobe with a newspaper and coffee cup in his hand. You never know what you're going to see out there.

Soli Deo Gloria

Monday, May 2, 2011

Saturday 04-30-11

It was a nice cool night out in the streets of Tempe tonight - probably the last cool evening that we'll have since the AZ desert starts to heat up this time of year. Our atheists from the Skeptic Tank didn't show up at all tonight.

Tom and I met Alan and Ronnie on Mill Ave to find Eric, or "Flips" as he likes to be called, hanging out at the Post Office. If you've been following the blog, you might remember the last encounter we had with him, back on 08-07-10. Check it out HERE.

He was pretty obnoxious the last time we spoke, but appears to be reconsidering his position. Alan had given him a Bible and he said he was going to read it. Eric was still a bit off in some of his beliefs, but I pray that he will have an open mind as he reads through the Bible and learns of the one true God, who will lead him in understanding.
He thought that Jesus died so that he could continue in his sins. I explained that was definitely not the case, and quoted Heb 10:26-27 to him. He was unconvinced, but we had a good conversation and I asked him if I could pray for him. He said, "Right now? Here?" I said yes, and he agreed. So I prayed that the Lord would reveal Himself to him through his reading of the Bible, that the Spirit would guide him to understanding and knowledge. He hung around for a little while after that, and then headed out. Please keep him in prayer.

A big guy named Michael stopped by to say, "Praise Jesus" and told us that he was a believer. Tom questioned him some to get an idea of his beliefs, since there are so many professing "Christians" that are false converts or following heretics, that you cannot just take someone by their word. So, we ask some questions to see what they truly believe. He didn't like that much, and I've found that those are often the ones who are not truly born again. They have a little bit of intellectual knowledge of God's love, but no idea of His holiness, His righteousness and His justness. They tend to get uncomfortable when we talk about His wrath against sinners, and that we all fall short of His perfect standard. All of this points to our NEED for a Savior. When they get offended by this, I find that often, we are dealing with a false convert who doesn't truly understand the Gospel or why Jesus would die for us. They feel convicted and they lash out, telling us that we're being "judgmental." He left before we were able to explain the full Gospel to him.

After that three drunks stopped by to take their pictures by our cross, mocking the crucifixion. We talked to them briefly as they were taking their pictures, but they wouldn't take any tracts. Pray that the Lord would convict them of their sin and draw them to Him.

I did some Open Air Trivia, and a guy named Ron got all my trivia questions correct and stepped up for the Good Person Test. We found that he was a self proclaimed lying thief and a blaspheming adulterer at heart. I took him through the Gospel and explained the requirements of repenting (turning away from sin, forsaking it) and trusting in Jesus Christ alone for our salvation. I explained that he didn't pass the Good Person Test and didn't deserve the prize, but offered it to him anyway, as a demonstration of God's grace. Just as we don't deserve salvation, can do nothing to earn it, but only accept it as a free gift, I offered him the cash. At first, he refused and I asked him why. He said it was because he didn't earn it and I explained that we cannot earn salvation either, but must simply humble ourselves and accept the gift (Eph 2:8-9). Finally he relented and took it, and I gave him a "Are You Good Enough to Get into Heaven?" tract as well.

Soli Deo Gloria