Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

Follow Jesus

April 4, 2014

Jesus said:

  • Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19)
  • Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead. (Matthew 8:22 / Luke 9:59)
  • (To Matthew aka Levi) Follow me. (Matthew 9:9 / Mark 2:14 / Luke 5:27)
  • (To Philip) Follow me. (John 1:43)
  • If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:24 / Mark 8:34 / Luke 9:23)
  • If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. (Matthew 19:21 / Mark 10:21 / Luke 18:22)
  • And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Matthew 19:28)
  • Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12)
  • My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: (John 10:27)
  • If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (John 12:26)
  • (To Peter) Follow me. (John 21:19)

Do what Jesus said: follow Jesus.


How to Answer the Fool – Sye Ten Bruggencate

April 30, 2013

American Vision and Sye Ten Bruggencate have collaborated to provide “How to Answer the Fool.” I had the pleasure of listening to the presentation for free, courtesy of Crown Rights Media, who were also involved. The presentation was about 85 minutes long, and is focused on the apologetic method. I did not see the study guide.

The video provides a presentation of the apologetics approach in which the revelation of Scripture has preeminence (often called the “presuppositional” approach). The analysis is critical of the evidentialist approaches, using examples from folks like Lee Strobel, John Lennox, Frank Turek, and William Lane Craig. There is also criticism of Rick Warren and his “give Jesus a try” approach as well as a brief criticism of Pascal’s wager.

It is not just a lecture on apologetic methodology. There are some examples of open air apologetics applying this approach. Still, there is an explanation of the methodology and with the problems with rejecting the methodology.

One of the most interesting parts of the video come from an interview that began as a discussion with atheists, but had a surprising twist, which pointed out how the methodology does not need to be limited to those who call themselves atheists.

I really loved the video. As Sye emphasizes in the video, the methodology’s big advantage is that it drives you back to Scripture. Certain distinctive aspects of the methodology are emphasized (precisely because they are distinctive), so people may come away with the idea that all of the discussion is just asking one or two easy to ask questions. Still, he takes care to point out that it is more than that.

Cinematically, the presentation is developed with an intentionally “gritty” feel. While those techniques are not my personal favorite, they convey the point that this presentation is intended to be for the streets, even though it is skillfully produced. The elements of the presentation flow well, and even the rap in the credits time of the video is on point.

At one point in the video, one might come away with the idea that Sye does not consider himself accountable to anyone but God. I suspect that this point was not clarified because of a desire to focus on the topic at hand. There are subordinate authorities, of course, including the overseers in the church, family authority, and the civil authorities.


Disclaimer: as noted above, I did not pay to see this video, but was instead permitted to view the video without charge.

Mr. Patton, Your Anecdotes don’t Provide a Biblical Argument

March 25, 2013

Sadly, Michael Patton has decided to double down on his attack on the fundamental importance of Special Creation and Inerrancy with a new post titled “FORGET ABOUT EVOLUTION AND INERRANCY (FOR A MINUTE).”

Patton doesn’t offer any Biblical or even logical argument for his position. He just provides two anecdotes of people who were allegedly persuaded to set aside their concerns about evolution or inerrancy and consequently became Christians. Patton writes:

These two stories are illustrations of the importance of keeping to the “make or break” issues of our faith when sharing the Gospel. The issue of origins and inspiration and inerrancy are very important. We eventually need to discuss them. But they are not ”make or break issues.” And they can be used to sidetrack the Gospel into endless and fruitless debate. They can often keep you from getting to Christ. The two people above may have never really heard an actual argument for the Gospel. They were both intellectual types who were ready to debate so many things that did not matter. I don’t need to convince an unbeliever that the Bible is inspired or inerrant. The issue of evolution does not matter if it is only keeping you from sharing the Gospel. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes people will have legitimate hang-ups about these and other things that need to be dealt with. But sometimes we need to deal with them by explaining that they have no bearing on whether Jesus rose from the grave. Once we establish Christ’s resurrection, you can get back to those things. But in our apologetics, we need to do everything we can to get to the historicity of the resurrection.

That’s very clearly an appeal to expediency and pragmatism. But the argument lacks the necessary foundation to be anything more than an assertion and two anecdotes.

For example, Patton hasn’t provided any revelation from God in support of his conclusion that special creation and inerrancy aren’t make-or-break issues.

Likewise, Patton has not actually engaged in scientific experiment – providing controlled comparisons between consistent, uncompromising evangelism and evangelism of the kind that Patton seems to prefer.

All that said – as with the previous post, not everything Patton says is wrong.  It can be useful to get people to stop focusing on the excuses they are making for not addressing the central gospel issues of creation, sin, and redemption (accomplished and applied).

In fact, there are non-compromising ways of handling those excuses.  I recall reading Eusebius responding to an objection that Jesus was raised from the dead too soon – the sign of Jonah was “three days and three nights,” whereas Jesus was risen before Sunday night.  He simply and quickly identified the absurdity of the objection (see how), without setting aside things like Biblical inerrancy.


If God Calls you to Open Air Preaching …

July 7, 2012

… please take an hour to listen to this discussion of it (link). I’m not going to endorse every last iota of what is said in the video, and quite frankly the men in the video wouldn’t be happy if I did. Nevertheless, as Steve Hays has already observed, there is a lot of wisdom in the video, notwithstanding the fact that the men themselves (judged by the world’s standards) do not appear to be highly educated.

Even if you are not called to open air preaching, a lot of the principles described are also applicable to blogging, on-line forums, and like virtual interactions.


Roman Confusion

July 9, 2011

Devin Rose posted some less than complimentary thoughts (and Peter Sean Bradley tagged on) about Reformed apologists (myself as an example). Rather than dwelling on the caricature drawn from Les Miserables, I’d like to address one point that seems to be a common misconception:

Under Reformed Protestantism, God has predestined the elect to salvation and the reprobate to damnation. Being a faithful Catholic therefore means, practically by definition, that you are a reprobate. And here’s the kicker: if you are one of the reprobate, many of the passages from the Gospel on forgiving your brother and helping him do not apply (at least as they interpret them). Once you cross the Tiber, you are anathema and damned.

If you leave a gospel-preaching church for Rome, of course we do (or ought) to treat you as lacking a credible profession of faith. Normally, for such a departure from the faith, a Reformed church will provide the Biblical discipline of excommunication.

That discipline, however, is discipline not condemnation. Through excommunication, it is hoped that a person will be brought back to the faith. It is hoped that he will see the error of his ways, repent of his sin, and return to the flock of Christ.

There is certainly no judgment as to the election or reprobation of the person. Only God knows who the elect and reprobate are – moreover, “to him that is joined to all the living there is hope,” (Ecclesiastes 9:4) and we hold out that hope even for the most anti-Reformed, anti-Evangelical member of the “Called to Communion” blog.

It is our desire to see those who have apostatized from the church of Christ brought back to her. I realize that pointing out that the church of Rome is a synagogue of Satan is going to make those in the church of Rome unhappy – surely it made the people unhappy to whom the phrase was originally applied. Nevertheless, the point of such comments is to warn those of the danger.

When I tell you that your house isn’t comfortable warm, it’s on fire, I’m not attacking your house or pouring out vitriol against your air conditioning unit. It’s an expression of love to warn those who we care about to avoid danger – not an expression of hatred.

One might think that Mr. Rose would appreciate this, since he wrote:

To their credit, they have this hatred for the Catholic Church (or “Romanism,” as you will hear) because they believe it is leading people away from Jesus and the Gospel. And good for them! If I believed that some church or denomination was doing that, I would oppose it too–perhaps not using their same vitriol and methods–but I would not want people to follow those beliefs.

And Rome does lead people away from the Gospel, encouraging them to trust in Mary, angels, martyrs, and saints and not in God alone – requiring their submission to a man who sits on an earthly throne in an earthly palace, claiming to be the earthly head of the church.

But unto us, there is one Lord (1 Corinthians 8:6).


Roman Catholics and Heaven

May 9, 2011

Today I was directed to the following video, in which Doug Wilson answers the question “Will Faithful Roman Catholics go to heaven?”

Will Faithful Roman Catholics go to heaven from Canon Wired on Vimeo.

First of all, for a more in-depth discussion on Roman Catholics and their status, I would suggest people consider the debate between James White and Doug Wilson on “Are Roman Catholics our Brothers in Christ.”

Second, I would agree that anyone who is truly repentant for their sins and trusting in Christ alone for salvation will be saved. Communion with Rome is not an unforgivable sin. Nevertheless, one of the fruits of the Spirit is sanctification. One would expect that as a believer undergoes sanctification, they will come to find the idolatry in Rome’s liturgy to be the abomination that it is. They will be able to stomach it no longer. That’s an expectation, but it is not a strict rule.

Third, the fact that one can be saved in an apostate church is not a good reason to stay in an apostate church, just as the fact that one can be saved even while fornicating is not a good reason to continue fornicating. I’m not saying the two sins are identical, though the Scriptures themselves draw a parallel between idolatry and fornication.

Finally, if you are a Roman Catholic reading this, please know that my primary concern is the state of your soul. I want you to be right with Christ. I’m not pushing some particular denomination or congregation. I’m pushing faith in Christ alone for salvation. Please consider it.


Living god? Or soon to face the Living God?!

April 5, 2011

The headline reads: “Indian ‘living god’ in critical condition: hospital” (source). The story tells the tale of an Indian guru who has achieved a widespread following through purportedly performing miracles, yet who is now desperately attempting to cling to life as God has removed his lung and kidney function.

There is a living God. Scripture tells us:

Jeremiah 10:10
But the LORD is the true God, he is the living God, and an everlasting king: at his wrath the earth shall tremble, and the nations shall not be able to abide his indignation.

And again:

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10
For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.

That living and true God, as the verse tells us, has a Son. That Son was raised from dead. That Son delivered us from the wrath of God that is coming. That Son of God, namely Jesus, is the only way that we may escape the wrath of God.

Psalm 2:12
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

For the Son is Lord!

1 Timothy 6:13-16
I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; that thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

Jude 4
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

So we answer to this guru:

1 Corinthians 8:5-6
For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

Dear Satya Sai Baba, be aware that you will soon come before the Living and True God. Prepare yourself now. Even at this advanced age, if you will humble yourself, repent of your sins, and turn to Christ, you may find forgiveness and salvation from the wrath to come. It is the only way that you will escape from the wrath of God.


Your Hell is Too Small, Mr. John H. Armstrong

March 4, 2011

To John H. Armstrong, author of the book, “Your Church is Too Small,” and to those who buy into his way of thinking, my response is “Your hell is too small.”

What do I mean by that? I mean that you are too quick to assume that people don’t need to hear the gospel. You figure, “if they call themselves Christians, who am I to judge?” But in the process you lose the chance to convict them of sin and exhort them to repentance and faith in Christ.

By accepting their Christian professions despite their idolatry or other serious and unrepented-of sin, you are not doing them any favors. You may make a lot of friends for yourself (and that will be your reward) but you are not showing them love.

We love our fellow humans and we don’t long for hell to be as large as it is. But on the other hand, we need to be realistic and to keep in mind that there will be many who are now saying “Lord, Lord,” who will be there. It’s not loving to tell someone with a treatable disease that they are fine, even if they don’t want to hear about their disease.

Mr. Armstrong, you may think that my definition of the church is too small, but I’m afraid I must tell you that your definition of hell is too small. If I’m wrong, I’ve shared the gospel in vain. If you’re wrong, you’ve failed to share the gospel with those who need it. If there’s any uncertainty about who is right, I suggest you come over to my side.


God is not Santa Claus

January 4, 2011

Hear the word of LORD:

1 Samuel 2:22-25
Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And he said unto them, “Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people. Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD’S people to transgress. If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him?” Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.

Why didn’t they listen to their father? Well, of course, they are to blame. Yet God takes credit for it too. God says that their heedlessness had a purpose – and the purpose to kill them.

People like to say that when it is said that Joseph was sold into slavery in order that many lives would be saved, it simply means that God made the best of a bad situation. That’s not the case here. God didn’t make the best of a bad situation – God let a bad situation become (humanly speaking) worse.

1 Samuel 3:10-15
And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, “Samuel, Samuel.”
Then Samuel answered, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.”
And the LORD said to Samuel, “Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.
And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.

Well might Samuel fear to share this dreadful vision! God is coming in vengeance on the house of Eli, and God has said that this iniquity will not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever! For every sin that a man might sin there was an offering appointed – but for the sin of Eli and his sons, there was no sin offering available. God extended no explicit offer of mercy to Eli.

And listen in sad silence to Eli’s reaction:

1 Samuel 3:16-18
Then Eli called Samuel, and said, “Samuel, my son.”
And he answered, “Here am I.”
And he said, “What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.”
And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him.
And he said, “It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.”

What a disappointing answer! Let the LORD do what seems good to him? Of course the Lord will – but hie to the altar with sacrifice and offering! Rip your clothes in sorrow! Put dust and ashes on your head! Fast and pray to God for mercy! Though God has pronounced judgment, yet if a man will turn to Him in true repentance, he will find mercy.

As David would later be inspired to write:

Psalm 51:17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

Dear reader, do not be like the sons of Eli and refuse to hear good counsel. Do not be like Eli and simply nod your head at the pronounced judgment of God against you and your sins. Flee to God for mercy.

As it written:

Psalm 2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.

Crowds or No Crowds at the Narrow Gate?

November 16, 2010

One popular theory in economics is the idea that there is wisdom in the crowd. A typical demonstration experiment in this area is to have a classroom full of students guess the number of coins or marbles in a jar. The individual guesses are then averaged and the result is compared to the final answer. If the experiment works as planned, the result of the crowd guessing is sometimes more accurate than any individual guess, and usually is better than most of the individual guesses.

Another example of crowd wisdom — a more intuitive example — is the example of the two barbershops in the small town. You show up in a small town in need of a haircut and find two barbershops side by side. One has a long line waiting to get their hair cut, the other will take you immediately for the same price. If you don’t have additional information, your intuition suggests that there is a reason for the crowd at the first barbershop, and so you join the line.

There are, however, some clear counter-examples. There are times when the crowd is always wrong. A prime example is amusement parks. One of the worst times to go to the amusement park is the time when the greatest number of people think it is a good time to go. If you go at that time, it will be the most crowded, and consequently less than optimally enjoyable. You’ll wait for hours to get on a ride, to get food, and so forth.

The issue of the narrow gate provides both an example and a counter-example. Our Lord provided the following teaching:

Matthew 7:13-14
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Luke 13:22-30
And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, “Lord, are there few that be saved?”
And he said unto them,
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open unto us;” and he shall answer and say unto you, “I know you not whence ye are:” then shall ye begin to say, “We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” But he shall say, “I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

This parable suggests to us that in this life the crowds will mostly go on the broad path – and the crowd will be wrong. Before you join a church because it has numerous adherents, it’s something to think about. Our rule of faith is not the crowds, but the Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

On the other hand, the crowd will eventually get it. Once it is too late, the crowd will realize that Jesus the Lord of Glory had himself been in their midst. This was particularly applicable to the first century Jews, but it has a broader application to us as well.

Many self-labeled “Christians” eat and drink in the presence of the Scriptures, and the Scriptures may even prominently feature in their religious rites. But unless they follow the narrow path – unless they trust in Christ alone for salvation – they will not enter in.

The answer to the question in the topic of this post then is “both: at first no crowds, but later enormous crowds.” Beat the crowds, repent of your sins and trust in Christ while there is still time.


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