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Archive for the ‘1st Things: Evangelism’ Category

I stole this from Thabiti Anyabwile’s blog post over at The Gospel Coalition website because I thought it would be great for all of us to consider throughout the day.  Enjoy!

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)

“We are not the reason the gospel works; the gospel is the reason the gospel works.”

–Ligon Duncan, from the Foreword to Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching

 

The Reason the Gospel Works – Pure Church by Thabiti Anyabwile.

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Philip Bliss wrote the following words over a hundred years ago, inspired by a sermon by the Reverend D.L. Moody:  

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.
Let the lower lights be burning! Send a gleam across the wave!
Some poor struggling, sinking seaman you may rescue, you may save.

 

 The hymn is inspired by Moody’s sermon illustration of an event that took place in Cleveland Harbor.  In that harbor stood a lighthouse high up on the hill.  Ship captains would navigate according to this light.  But on a stormy night, a set of lower lights along the shore was also needed for perspective, to determine how far from shore the boat was.  One night, a storm damaged and put out the lower lights.  The captain franticly guided his ship into shore with only the aid of the upper light.  Some were saved, but the ship was wrecked and many were lost because the captain missed the harbor.

 This analogy is fitting for us.  The lighthouse shines bright in heaven – heavenly lights always pointing to Christ and giving glory to God.  But what, or rather who, are the lower lights?  We are.  We are to shine the light of Christ down here on the shore, guiding lost souls in to be saved.  The lights must burn brightly that those who are lost in the dark and stormy sea might be guided into shore.

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In the Old Testament: God used judgment of the Egyptians and Canaanites to save the Israelites.
In the New Testament: God’s righteous judgment on the cross brought us salvation.
At the end of time: God’s judgment will be shown when Christ returns to judge those who reject him and save those who are faithful.

In his book God’s Glory Through Judgment: A Biblical Theology, James Hamilton takes readers through the entire Bible, book by book, to illustrate that there is one theological center to the whole Bible.

RT: Crossway blog

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Our Absurd Religion – History of the Modern Gospel (Part 1)

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In his sermon, “Rescued,” Eric Bryant of Mosaic tells a story of a conversation he had with a fellow baseball coach who was having some difficulties in his life. After listening to this man share his struggles, Eric shared the “gospel” with him (or did he?). This is how Eric relayed the conversation in his sermon:

Through some of the darkest times in my life what’s really helped me through them is my relationship with God. And, that Jesus has been a real help to me and even the people of faith that I’ve become friends with.

Eric goes on to state:

So I encouraged him, why don’t you start reading through the gospel of John. Just read a chapter a day and pray – God if your real show me who you are. I believe that as you do this you will discover that God loves you and his name is Jesus and you can trust him with your struggles and challenges in life.

Eric adds:

He looked at me and said, “Can’t I do that right now.”

Eric goes on to share that they both prayed together and at the end of their time of prayer they were both in tears.

The question I pose is this: Did this man hear the gospel?

The answer to the question is simple and clear: NO!

The gospel is often confused with such well meaning sentiment as “God can help you through the tough times” or “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life” or “God helped me and he can help you too,” but none of these statements make clear the true meaning of the gospel, nor do they get at the real root of our problem – you know the one that Jesus actually came to save us from.

You see, Jesus did not primarily die so that you might have help during the darkest times in your life. He died because by nature we are slaves to sin, enemies and haters of God and without Christ we would have no ability or desire to seek after God, to be reconciled to Him, or to be truly rescued from our bondage. Without Christ we would be condemned to eternal punishment.

Paul points us to one of the keys to understanding what the gospel is all about when he writes in Romans 1:17 speaking of the gospel:

For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

You see our main problem in life is that we will one day stand before a holy God in judgment and the standard he will judge us by will be perfection (Matt. 5:48) in the keeping of his law in our thoughts, actions and attitudes. This means that we are not only by nature sinners, but that we sin every moment of every day. In fact, there is never a moment when we are not committing acts of sin which only compounds the case against us in which we will be found guilty.

When Paul speaks of gospel revealing righteousness what he is saying is that not only did Christ have to die to pay the penalty of our sin and sinfulness, but that we also needed to have imputed to us the righteousness of Christ which gives us the perfect standing we need to come and be found not guilty before our judge.

You see the gospel is about these facts: we are enemies of God, living in rebellion against him in every way. Christ, as God in human flesh, died bearing the complete wrath of God for our sins so that we might have our sins forgiven and have imputed to us the righteousness of Christ. The response to these facts, this good news, is to repent and believe.

Let me put it in another way. When Jesus was with his disciples after his resurrection, he gave them the gospel in a nutshell and then told them the exact message they and we needed to proclaim:

Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead,and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (Luk 24:45-47 ESV)

When we compare Eric’s “gospel” to that of Christ’s we find that Eric is missing the key ingredients that make the gospel the gospel, and that he is also encouraging his friend to turn to Jesus for “help” in his struggles instead of turning to Jesus in repentance and forgiveness.

The result of Eric’s “gospel” only leads people to believe they are saved, which is an even more dangerous place to be then if they were not saved and knew they weren’t saved.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones had this to say on the subject:

As we are left at the end of the twentieth verse in this third chapter[of Romans] we see ourselves in a completely hopeless position. That we should so see ourselves is always vital and essential. No man can be a Christian without realizing his utter hopelessness. It is of no use to talk about ‘coming to Christ’ if you do not see your hopelessness and your helplessness. You cannot just come to Him for help or something else; there is but one reason for going to Christ, and that is that you realize that no flesh can possible be justified by the Law in the sight of God. ‘Every mouth has been stopped and the whole world lieth guilty before God.’ (brackets mine)

Several things concern me about Eric’s presentation of his gospel

1. The salvation of the man in the story. It is possible that God can still bring him to repentance and forgiveness to which end I will pray.

2. If this is the gospel being proclaimed at Mosaic they may be creating more tares then wheat.

3. If Eric thinks this is the gospel either he is deceived or misinformed. In either case I pray that he would proclaim the true gospel of Jesus Christ so that some may come to a true saving faith.

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This was taken from a post by Chris Rosebrough on his blog “Letter of Marque.”

Many people mistakenly believe that the Great Commandment given to us by Jesus is the good news that Jesus came to proclaim. This Great Commandment is summarized as “love God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself”. Here’s what Jesus said:

“But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” (Matthew 22:34–40)

It’s very easy to mistakenly think that the Great Commandment is the central message of the gospel. However, it is a grave doctrinal and theological error to equate the Great Commandment with the gospel precisely because it is a succinct summary of the Mosaic Law. Rather than comfort us, the Great Commandment condemns us.

We are all sinners and daily are guilty of not loving God with all our hearts and not loving our neighbor as ourselves. Therefore, the great commandment is not the gospel and no one will be saved by keeping the great commandment. Instead, the great commandment was given in order to show us our sinfulness and our need for a savior. If we are going to be saved from the wrath of God then we’re going to need good news. Thankfully, the gospel announces that Christ Jesus died on the cross for our sins and was raised on the third day for our justification and that we are saved by grace through faith as a gift and not by keeping the great commandment!

Below are the some of the clearest passages in the scriptures that explain why the Great Commandment is not the Gospel and that no one will be saved either in whole or in part by keeping it.

Galatians 2:15–3:26

“We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.

But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.

To give a human example, brothers:even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one.

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.”

Romans 3:9–28

“For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin, as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.” “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.” “Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified (declared righteous before God) by faith apart from works of the law.”

Romans 4:1–25

“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”

Is this blessing then only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We say that faith was counted to Abraham as righteousness. How then was it counted to him? Was it before or after he had been circumcised? It was not after, but before he was circumcised. He received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. The purpose was to make him the father of all who believe without being circumcised, so that righteousness would be counted to them as well, and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression.

That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring—not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”—in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist. In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body, which was as good as dead (since he was about a hundred years old), or when he considered the barrenness of Sarah’s womb. No distrust made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

(HT: Letter of Marque)

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Tony Miano of Living Waters Ministry can be seen here sharing the gospel. As the introduction to the first video indicates, listen how he keeps pointing Patrick back to the Bible. Our source of authority in presenting the gospel is not our testimony or man made philosophies. Our authority is in Scripture alone. What did God say – that’s what we must preach.

To see the remaining videos of this four part series and how this conversation with Patrick comes to an end visit Ambassador’s Alliance here.

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