Daily Devotional for Wednesday July 2, 2014
How the Gospel is Now Seen by Church Members as a Controversial Message
(Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 1:23; 2 Timothy 4:2; 1 Peter 3:15)
***ASK BILL: Pastor Bill, reading through the Old Testament, there were many times God told the Jews to destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Caananites, and other "ites", killing men, women and children, to get rid of evil. That is exactly what the group in Iraq is doing now, killing all families that don't hold their Islamic beliefs. Obviously one group is Christian and the other is evil, but how do we explain the difference to the rest of the world?
ANSWER: One of the problems many have with the Bible is that they can't understand why a God of love would command His children to go to war and "kill every man, woman, child, and living thing" as He did many times in the Old Testament. The reason was this. God in His omniscience knew that the enemies of Israel, those who came to possess their land, had no desire for peace but the complete destruction and annihilation of the Jewish people. The complete obliteration of the Jewish people was their ONLY goal, not peace. Sadly, there are some people who have no desire for peace, only death and destruction and you either completely destroy them or they will completely destroy you. That is one of the sad realties of living in this fallen and evil world.
How the Gospel is now seen by CHURCH MEMBERS as a "controversial message!' Sadly, we are living in a generation where the vast majority of pastors are gutless and compromised. Faux pastors who support and promote gross sins like homosexuality, abortion, and a social justice agenda created by taking the Bible out of context. Some of these faux pastors are actually proudly engaging in homosexual relations without any repentance! Others clearly aren't even saved!!!
Some of these compromised pastors have created and packaged man-made marketing strategies like purpose driven/seeker/emerging church/prosperity gospel designed to put warm bodies in their mini-stadiums instead of converts. To keep them coming back each Sunday, they stay away from talking about things like sin, the eternal hell fire and damnation that awaits those who reject faith in Jesus, and anything else that would upset people. Instead, they entertain the people and give them a nice motivational message so they drop a check in the bucket when it comes by!
The end result is a generation of weak, ineffective, and Biblically illiterate people who go to church, many who have never even made a decision to accept Jesus by faith. Because they have never been correctly taught that the Bible is the only Truth there is, they are sponges for the lies and false doctrines of the cults, false religions, and New Age gurus. Most quickly embrace the love of God, the mercy of God, the forgiveness of God, yet dismiss that God is also a God of judgment and punishment and won't be mocked.
Sadly, one of the lies so many who sit in Christian churches embrace, is the universalistic lie from hell that if people are "good" and "do their best," they will make it to Heaven. They have bought into the "works based" teachings most cults, false religions, and New Agers promote. They have never been correctly taught the most important decision each person has to make is whether to accept Jesus into their heart and life by faith or not. Subsequently, they don't put the same emphasis on the eternal souls of men, even though Jesus died for each one and God says it is His desire that NONE be lost!
Because souls are not a priority to most, because most have never been taught the importance of sharing their faith which is a COMMANDMENT from our Lord and not an option, most are reluctant to share the Gospel with another person. Adding to that reluctance is this lie that people will be offended by those who "push their faith" on others. The fact is, people should be offended if someone DOESN'T share the Gospel, since it is the message that determines the eternal destiny of your soul!!!
Let me ask you a question. If we, those who know Jesus don't tell someone how to be saved, who will? The media? LOL! Seriously, how is someone supposed to even have the option to find everlasting life unless someone who is saved gives them that opportunity? It is hard to blame the people, since the vast majority of churches don't even give people an invitation to accept Jesus by faith!
It sickens me that the minions of satan are so bold with his lies designed to destroy people's lives and insure they die and end up in hell, yet the followers of Jesus are so timid with the truth, having the words of everlasting life to save men's souls but choosing to remain silent. I guess it boils down to the fact satan's followers truly believe in his agenda, whereas the followers of Christ really don't believe what they claim to, since if you believe it you will live it and shout it from the mountaintops!!!
I am in NO WAY diminishing "good works." Good works SHOULD flow from a life that has been redeemed. However, lots of people do good works. The mafia does some good works in their neighborhoods. It is a hallmark of cults like Mormonism and most of the New Age teachings. Sadly these people believe it will help them achieve eternal life. How about this for a novel idea, do good works AND share the Gospel!
The fact is God allows people to cross your path every day who are lost and without Christ. It is YOUR JOB AND RESPONSIBILITY to share Christ's love with them. In the end, it is up to that person to either accept or reject the offer to accept Jesus, but it is YOUR JOB to share that offer with them!
Sharing your faith with others is like praying. There is only one wrong way to do it and that is not to do it! Over the years there have been thousands of books and tapes produced on witnessing, one evangelism program after another created, and the fact is they are ALL great. You can never learn too much about how to witness to others, how to share your faith. The reality is there is no one way to do it, but many different approaches. In the end, however, they all lead a person to the eternal choice they must make about Jesus.
You have to remember that each person who shares their faith is unique and different in how God has wired them, each person you witness to is unique and different in how God has wired them, and the circumstances and dynamics each time you share your faith are also unique and different. That is why today I wanted to take some time to share with you a simple way to witness and lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ.
The number one reason people don't share their faith more often, and sadly in the case of most Christians who fail to do it at all, is fear. The biggest fear is the fear of rejection. Witnessing has many similarities to sales which is why you find people who are most proficient at witnessing are usually great sales people. In the world of sales the first thing you learn about is rejection. A good salesperson is able to hear 99 people say no and go into that 100th sales presentation just like it was the first.
That is not easy to do and why it is a gift to be a great salesperson. Even if you are not a natural salesperson, the key is to never forget that if someone says no when you share with them how they can be saved, it is not you but Jesus they are rejecting. Just like a good salesperson never takes it personally when someone turns them down, you can't ever take it personally when someone you ask to commit their life to Christ says no. Again, they are saying no to Jesus, not you.
Also, the key to being a good salesperson is being a good closer. You will never get the sale if you don't ask for it, and you will never see someone come to Christ if you don't ask them to. The basic rule of Sales 101 is ABC or, Always Be Closing. The basic rule to Evangelism 101 is asking the person you are witnessing to if they would like to know Jesus as their personal Savior. At the end of a sales presentation you have to ask the person for the sale, and at the end of sharing the Gospel you have to ask the person to accept the Lord.
Another fear so many people have is being asked questions they can't answer. You don't have to be a theologian to tell people about Jesus. If they ask you a question you don't know the answer to, simply tell them you don't know but will find out. Contact your pastor or your Sunday School teacher or someone at your church for the answer. This is why the more we read and study God's Word for ourselves the more confidence we will have when we are confronted with different questions.
However, never forget that most people asking questions are not really interested in the answer as they are in trying to justify their own unbelief. Most ask questions as a way of proving that we are "wrong" and they are "right." People who reject God's Word and the love of Christ in their life, will use questions there may not even be an answer to, to feel better about their choice to reject the Lord. That is why I will answer their questions, but immediately put the focus back on them and the choice they have to make regarding accepting Jesus in their heart.
The other great fear people have about sharing their faith is offending the person you are talking to about the Lord and what ramifications there may be to them personally. So rather than offend someone, rather than deal with whatever persecution there might be, they simply say nothing. Listen, it is better you offend someone with the hopes of them coming to know the Lord than sitting back and saying nothing, while they die in their sins and are lost for all eternity.
It is better someone calls you "Bible thumper," "stupid for believing the Bible," "intolerant," "hateful," "no different than the Taliban," or whatever else they may say to you to try and intimidate you into being silent, than saying nothing knowing they will die one day and spend eternity in hell. The fact is the Gospel IS offensive to those who reject it, but it is the words of everlasting life to those who choose to believe.
I love you and care about you so much. The bottom line is that God has commanded us, not suggested to us, that we share our faith in Christ with others. This is not a commandment to just pastors or evangelists, but to EVERYONE who knows Christ as their Lord and Savior. If you really love someone, how can you let them die, knowing that without Christ they will be lost for all eternity, without telling them about Jesus?
I will be praying for you today, praying that you won't allow fear to keep you from being obedient to God and telling others about Jesus. The easiest and most natural way to approach someone about faith in Christ is by simply sharing what Jesus has done and meant in your life. There is no way to deny what you have personally experienced in your relationship with the Lord.
Today, I rebuke that sprit of fear of rejection, I rebuke that sprit of fear of questions you can't answer, I rebuke that spirit of fear of offending someone by telling them about Jesus, I rebuke that sprit of fear of being persecuted for sharing the Gospel. I pray that God will give you a spirit of BOLDNESS and COURAGE as you tell others about how they too can know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior!
I take a very direct approach to witnessing. I look the person in the eye and ask them if they believe they will die one day. Of course they say yes. I then ask them if they believe they have ever sinned. Again, they will say yes. I tell them that they are right, they have sinned and they will die one day. I remind them that the Bible says tomorrow is promised to none of us and that each day is literally a gift from God.
I go on by telling them that it is their sin that is separating them from a Holy God who loves them so much and desires for them to spend all eternity with Him. I tell them that is only possible because of what Jesus did. He willingly died on the cross for our sins and that is why if you will confess Him as your Savior, ask Him into your heart and life by faith, HE will forgive you of your sins and you are guaranteed to spend eternity with God your Creator when this brief life is over.
I share with them that this choice not only has eternal ramifications, but means something to them right now. Those who know Jesus as their Savior have the power of God residing within them, and can know the peace, the joy, and the abundance of this life that is impossible without Christ. Additionally, they can see the plan and purpose God has for them fulfilled during their brief journey here on earth.
At that point I simply ask them if they would like to know Jesus as their personal Savior. If they say no, I tell them that I will be praying for them and that they need to spend some time alone with God and pray about what I told them. I remind them that God loves them and He is there when they are ready. If they say yes, I spend a few moments to make sure they know that what they are doing is literally giving their very life to Christ. He gave His life for them, and they are now giving their life back to Him.
The key for you to remember is that this is a personal decision each person has to make for themselves. Nobody can make it for them, you can't force them, or intimidate them, or scare them into making it. It has to be a conscious choice that they make. When they are ready, I simply have them pray with me what is commonly called the "Sinner's Prayer." This prayer does not exist in the Bible, though it is taken largely from Romans Chapter 10. These words don't save anyone but are simply a verbal guide for what they are doing BY FAITH in their heart.
"God, I am a sinner. I ask you to forgive me of my sins. I believe in my heart, and confess with my lips, that Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior. Come into my heart Jesus. Take my life, I surrender it to you. From this moment on, I will live my life according to the Bible and serve you. Thank you for taking away my sins and giving me everlasting life. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen"
In His love and service, Your friend and brother in Christ,