Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Reasons to Witness

I presented this message at our first Do Hard Things meeting. This is the text of my speech on why we should evangelize. (Please, realize that failure to read the whole thing can result in some inaccurate conclusions about what I'm saying.)

I put a lot of passion (not to mention a pretty late night) into writing this one, and it represents why I believe that Christians should personally evangelize, even to strangers. This is something I really feel strongly about, so please, let it move you and take the message to heart.


I have to say that I disagree with Makenna on the idea of personal evangelism. And I have a few reasons for this I think are quite valid.

First off, I think it is invasive to people's privacy. Personal evangelism is what has given Christians their reputation of being proselytizing freaks that hound people to love Jesus. We don't need to walk around telling people to repent of their sins. People have certain boundaries that you just don't cross.

Speaking of boundaries, you should notice that in our culture and every culture, we have unspoken but specific rules concerning appropriate conduct. There are different levels of intimacy in relationships. Say, I might call up my good friend Nick and spill all the deep, personal stuff that has been happening to me lately, but it would be totally inappropriate for me to do that to a total stranger! Jesus Christ is the deepest thing in a Christian's life. We need to build relationships with people before we can start talking about Jesus Christ. They won't listen otherwise!

If you must personally witness, which I don't recommend, then just please listen to a few brief guidelines. If you don't feel ready to witness to someone, then don't. You could get flat-out rejected. If you think it will make you or them uncomfortable, then don't. People who are really led by God to do the evangelizing can do the evangelizing. If we mess up and feed people the wrong answers, then they're gonna get the wrong answers! Someone was feeding Charles Darwin all the wrong answers about God. That's why he went down like that. When you're in doubt about sharing your faith, just don't. You could mess up. Right?



No. Not right. Do you guys realize what I've been doing here? I have been spewing the lies of Satan. These are lies that Satan has told me over and over and over. And I've bought into them. But now it is time for us to stop buying into the lies of Satan. It is time for us to start getting into the truth of Jesus Christ.

What I have just done is actually verbalized these lies. I've said them out loud. Usually they just prowl quietly around in my heart and mind. But I've now brought them out in the open so we can take a few cracks at them. Let's do that.

The first lie I told you guys today is that we should not tell strangers about our faith in Jesus Christ because it invades people's privacy, because it is proselytizing and because it crosses too many boundaries. Let me tell you something—Yeshua Ha'Mashiach, Jesus, the Messiah does not just cross boundaries, He shatters them. When Jesus was on earth He was never worried about staying within cute cultural rules. He trampled all over tradition. What did He say? In Luke 12, He said, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."” Jesus is not interested in us staying timidly enslaved within cultural bounds. Jesus is not interested in us staying within our comfort zones. Satan is.

Do we have to build up relationships with people before we witness to them? I don't think so. Why not? Wouldn't that be a good, sensible way to do it? You get to know someone for a while, take them to dinner, and tell them about Jesus. Good plan, right? Nope. Why doesn't it work? It doesn't work because the conversation never happens. You get three months into the relationship and you still haven't done it. You get six months into the relationship and you still haven't done it.

The truth is, there will never be a totally appropriate time to tell someone about Christ. The Bible says Satan is the prince, the god, of this world. He deceives unbelievers. He is not going to just hand them over so they can ask questions and get their little preaching session. You have to go to them. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” That's Ephesians 6:12. We are to wrestle against the powers of the dark world. We don't sit around and be cute Christian kittens avoiding conflict, avoiding offending people, avoiding speaking truth when it't tough. We're supposed to be out there fighting the good fight and keeping the faith.

Do we need to form a good relationship with people to witness to them? No. Can we witnes to total strangers? Yes. Most will say that it is much easier to talk to strangers about Jesus than it is to talk to people you know. I like what Mark Cahill says, something to the effect of, “why would you knowingly move people from a category that makes them easy to witness to, to a category that makes them hard to witness to?”

Should we wait until we have formed a relationship to witness to people? What is a relationship, anyway? It is a circle of knowledge. It's a flow of information. The other person knows things about you, you know things about them. A relationship is all information. My question is, is Jesus Christ so unimportant to me that He should be one of the last things people know about me? Should they know my name before they know the name of Yeshua, the Messiah? Should people know that I like parkour and pizza before they know that I love the Lord my God? No. I want Jesus Christ to be the first thing people know about me.

Say you do wait six months before telling people about Jesus. People can die in six months. People can die in three months. People can die in three days. They can be gone before you ever get a chance to talk with them. And you could seriously regret it.

And here is the clincher. Jesus commanded us to witness. Luke 10:2, “He told them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” The world will try to tell you that people are not interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. That is a lie from the lips of Satan. When I go out witnessing the majority of people are hungry for the truth. They want to hear what Jesus has to say. If I run into people who are antagonistic to the Gospel, they are in the minority.

Romans 10:13-15 says, "for, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!""

How can people be saved without God's servants giving them the truth? People are dying every single day. The longer we put off communicating truth to them the more danger they are in of facing the wrath of our great God. And God does not enjoy giving them just punishment for their sins.

Ezekiel 18:23 says, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”

2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”

God wants everyone to be saved, and so should we. Jesus commanded us to witness, and so we should. Let's look at Matthew 28:19-20.

“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."

What did Yeshua, our wonderful Savior, go through for us? He suffered intensely. He was scourged by the Romans. Many died from that punishment. The whips for the scourging had metal balls and sharp pieces of stone in them, and they tore bodies open to the point where the spine and intestines were exposed.

And that wasn't enough. Jesus suffered even more. He was crucified. The cross is almost always glamorized today, but it was bloody, brutal, and cruel to the point of being inhuman. Huge spikes were driven through the hands of the crucified criminals. These spikes would crush the median nerve, which is the same nerve that runs down to your elbow and is what you typically refer to as your funny bone. You know the pain that you feel when you hit your funny bone? Now imagine that same pain for hours upon hours. Imagine that nerve not just getting hit but crushed. This was such an awful, unspeakable pain that they had to invent a new word for it: excruciating.

Jesus suffered a death by asphyxiation, that is, suffocation. When on the cross you can breathe in easily but you can't breath back out without a struggle. The posture causes you to have to push up on the nails driven through your feet in order to get a breath out. There is only so much you can take before you suffocate and die. Suffocation is possibly the most horrible death out there. Being deprived of the oxygen you have thrived on for years and years is unspeakably awful. I know friends who have had awful nightmares about dying of suffocation underwater.

And yet, Jesus did it all for us. That is what He went through on that cross. That is the price He had to pay for our sin, for your sin, and for my sin.

We should be unspeakably grateful. And yet. After all that He did for us, we cannot even step outside of our comfort zones enough to obey His commandments. We refuse to do the smallest things for Him even though He gave everything for us.

But I'm not just here to point out how awful we are and to stand here moaning over our problems. We are here to actually do something about this problem. We are going to start overcoming. We are going to start serving our Messiah, our Lord and Savior, Yeshua, Jesus of Nazareth. We are going to start loving Him because He first loved us. And we're going to start today.

We're going to step outside of our comfort zones and share the good news—that Jesus Christ died for the sins of the world on the cross. That Jesus Christ provides hope and salvation available for anyone. That Jesus Christ is alive and wants to have a personal relationship with individual human beings.

Today, we are going to care enough about the souls of human beings, and we are going to care enough about the atoning sacrifice of our spotless Lamb, Yeshua, to go sharing the gospel, to go spreading our faith, to go make disciples of all nations. Amen.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Theology "Debate" - Help With College?

Hey guys,
I was just hoping some of you that I will see on Monday could help me out with an assignment for my Moody Bible Institute class. I'm taking The Church and its Doctrines and I have to do the following:

"Find two people you know who have either different political views, different theological views, or some major difference in opinion. Discuss with them their opinion considering some matter of theology."

So, if you feel strongly about any of the following topics, leave a comment:
Calvinism/Arminianism (does God pick and choose who will be saved?)
Determinism/Free Will (has God predetermined everything that happens?)
Infant Baptism/Adult Baptism (which is biblical?)
Original Sin (are we all guilty of eating the forbidden fruit?)
Eternal Security (can a Christian lose his/her salvation?)
Eternal Conscious Torment/Annihilation (are the wicked consciously tormented forever in hell, or annihilated?)
Exhaustive Foreknowledge (does God exhaustively know the entire future?)
Pre/Mid/Post-tribulation Rapture (will the church be raptured before, during, or after tribulation?)
More Scripture to Come (will God add more to the scripture we already have?)
Soul Sleep/Intermediate State (are the dead asleep until the resurrection, or are their souls alive in some form?)

If you would want to help, that would be great! I will hopefully be doing this during lunch.
Thanks guys!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Three Men And Three Questions

This is kind of odd, but I came up with this quote.

The fool asks, "why is God so inhuman?"

The thinker asks, "why is man so godless?"

The wise man asks, "why am I so godless?" and does something about it.