Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Four EV Motives (Noah Long)

Recently I had lunch with Midwestern Baptist Seminary student Noah Long, and he shared with me these four evangelism (EV) motives that spoke to my heart. I hope they do so to yours also...

1. Glory- We are motivated to evangelize because it brings God glory. We desire to see our Creator and Savior be rightly worshipped in our community and around the world. When we cease to open our mouthes about the Gospel, God is robbed of glory. (Psalm 51:13-15; 96; 105:1-2)

2. Obedience- We are motivated to evangelize because we have been commanded to do so. All Christians are called to make disciples, to be ministers of reconciliation, to be salt and light, to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth. When we cease to share the Gospel, it is impossible to make disciples or live out any of these callings that the Lord has called us to. (Matt. 5:13-16; 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 2 Cor. 5:17-20)

3. Imitation- We are motivated to evangelize because we desire to be conformed to the image of Christ. God is a missionary God who came to seek and save the lost. In the same way that Christ pursued us when we were rebelling against Him, we are to mimic Him by pursuing those who are lost. (Matt. 5:45-48; Luke 19:10, Romans 5:6-8, 1 Cor. 11:1)

4. Love- We are motivated to evangelize because we are called to love our neighbor as self which includes those outside of the church. The primary and most urgent way that we can love our neighbors is by meeting their greatest need; their greatest need is spiritual brokenness, and the only anecdote for their spiritual need is the Gospel. (Lev. 19:33-34, Matt. 5:44, Mark 12:28-31)

Monday, May 20, 2019

Evangelizology: A Holy Moment in Brazil

Evangelizology: A Holy Moment in Brazil: We crossed a small bridge walkway from the sidewalk to enter into the house of W___, a blind man. He and his wife were waiting for us. ...

Sunday, May 19, 2019

A Holy Moment in Brazil

We crossed a small bridge walkway from the sidewalk to enter into the house of W___, a blind man. He and his wife were waiting for us. Their São Paulo living room was furnished with three sofas organized in a u-shape and a small coffee table in the center. Although there was five of us visiting from the local Baptist church, W___ and his wife seemed very pleased to welcome us.
The conversation consisted of Portuguese words of welcome and thanks. Being the lone “American on a Mission Trip” in the group, it was not long before everyone looked to me to lead the conversation. What was I going to say?
Speaking through a gifted interpreter, I told W___ that we were visiting him in the name of Jesus. I asked him if I could begin by sharing something that had happened to me in 1980. He said, “Yes.” Following his approval, I explained that I had believed in Jesus from a young age. And though I believed in Jesus I was still injured in a train-truck collision at the age of 19. One day, as I worked as a garbageman, our truck stalled on the railroad tracks right in front of a freight train.
The collision left me in a coma for 8 days. It took me almost a year to recuperate and to begin sorting out my post-accident life. People told me that I should feel fortunate that I was still alive. They explained that I could have died. Rather than accepting their encouragement, I was inwardly mad at God. Why had God allowed me that trauma, pain, and embarrassment? 
I asked W___ a question:
“How have you responded to God regarding your blindness? Have you struggled with God like I have?”
As W___ shared his story, a torrent of tears began to flow from this large man in his 40s. He removed his mirrored-lens glasses and wiped his eyes. Apparently, he also had been in an accident at the age of 19. It was a motorcycle accident. He broke both his legs. He explained to us that as he lay in his hospital bed, he told God, “If you get me out of here, I will serve you for the rest of my life!”
After being released from the hospital W___ quickly returned to drinking with his friends. One month later, while he was getting drunk in a bar with his friends, W___ remembered his promise to God. Soon after he gradually began to lose his eyesight. W___ was under deep conviction, sobbing as he shared. He felt that God had punished him with blindness because he did not keep his hospital promise to God.
I asked W___ if he knew that the last words of Jesus on the cross were, “It is finished!” (John 19:38). I continued, “Do you know what was finished?” I used these words to explain the essence of the gospel. Jesus lived a perfect-sinless life. He obeyed all the laws of the Old Testament. Then, when He died on the cross, as a substitute for our sins. Jesus paid for all the sins of W___ sins full and free. He did it all! All of W___’s sins past, present, and future were carried away by the blood of Jesus. And in their place, the righteousness of Christ was given to all those who repent of their sins and believe in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. 
I asked W___ the question, “W___, if you died tonight are you absolutely sure you would get into heaven?” He answered, “No.” I continued, “W___, if Jesus said, ‘Why should I let you into My heaven?’ what would you answer?” He said, “I would say, ‘Even if you don’t let me in, I will still believe in You!’”
We were all moved by W___’s humble and broken heart. The missionary who was with us explained the steps of repentance and faith in Portuguese. W___ and his wife tearfully repented and believed. Their tears of grief became tears of joy!
A holy moment transpired around those three sofas. It was definitely a God-moment. The glory of God seemed to glow in the tiny room as the name Jesus was lifted up.
After leaving the house of W___, we ascended his road to a commercial street on the crest of the hill. Once there we began handing out gospel tracts and engaging persons in gospel conversations.
As we walked the commercial street sharing the gospel another unusual conversation took place. We were walking as a group—four men and one woman handing out tracts. Suddenly a young woman named D___ came up to us and said, “I want to be saved!” I pulled out a gospel tract and began to explain the gospel. She said, “I really want to be saved.” At that moment I considered that someone else had spoken with her on one of the four other days that we had evangelized on that street. D___ appeared to be under strong conviction. I asked her if she was ready to repent of her sins and confess Jesus as her Savior and Lord right now. She said, “Yes.” D___ prayed a prayed of repentance and faith.
In about an hour of evangelism God gave us two amazing and memorable conversations. The lives of W___ and D___ were eternally touched by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In like manner, Peter answered the question of Jesus:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.(John 6:68-69).
On that day in Brazil, we experienced eternity touching the earth through the words of Christ!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Seven signals of revival in our time

Although not qualified to speak of the revival of biblical Christianity in other language groups across the world, in the English-speaking U.S., these past 10-20 years, there seems to exist an unusual movement of the Holy Spirit. Could it be that God is allowing us to live in the midst of a spiritual awakening?
Here is a list of seven pointers portraying God’s favor upon His people in North America. These signs are organized in a chronological manner, as, in God’s providential oversight, each builds upon the other:
1. Incredible electronic Bible study software are available and being used. These software packages are self-supporting and compete with one another to provide better usability and power in Bible study!
2. New conference venues have sprouted up, such as the Foundations Conference, Founders Conference, Passion Conference, and T4G. These conferences highlight the Five Solas of the Protestant Reformation and promote biblical Christianity.
3. YouTube, Podcasts, and Vimeo promote the revival of expository preaching online.
4. New ministry associations have developed, such as Acts 29, 9Marks, The Gospel Coalition, Teaching Leaders International, and NoPlaceLeftBehind.
5. Doctrinally-rich music is being written, new hymnals are being produced, and Internet music channels are now available that highlight doctrinally-rich music—Sound+Doctrine. Songs have been written by LeCrae, members of Click116, the Getty’s, Derek Webb, Eric Schumacher, and David L. Ward—all emphasizing sound doctrine.
6. A new thrust of young street evangelists and those aggressively “searching for persons of peace” has begun to mark the land. Biblical methods of evangelism are realigning its practice across North America!
7. Antagonism to the gospel and to the many teachings of the Bible is on the increase. Satan is aggressively targeting the ministry leaders of all these newly formed groups.
Is Holy Spirit revival sweeping the land? It may very well be!

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Two Kinds of Warfare

There is the psychological warfare of enemy criers calling over the walls of the city. The people of the city are safely huddled in their own homes, but they hear the misinformation and lies of the enemy day and night. Psyops are “military operations usually aimed at influencing the enemy’s state of mind through noncombative means” (Merriam-Webster).
Sennacherib mounted a psyop against Hezekiah, king of Judah. He sent Rabshakeh who spoke Hebrew to demand the capitulation of King Hezekiah. As Rabshakeh spoke in the hearing of the people, Hezekiah’s servants told him:
“Please speak to your servants in Aramaic, for we understand it; and do not speak to us in Hebrew in the hearing of the people who are on the wall.” 2 Kings 18:26. NKJV.
Rabshakeh responded, “Has my master sent me to your master and to you to speak these words, and not to the men who sit on the wall, who will eat and drink their own waste with you?” 2 Kings 18:27.
Rabshakeh shouted to the people on the wall promising them life (!), as well as a peaceful alternative to their sure defeat and destruction by the armies of Sennacherib:
“Do not listen to Hezekiah; for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make peacewith me by a present and come out to me; and every one of you eat from his own vine and every one from his own fig tree, and every one of you drink the waters of his own cistern; until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and new wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive groves and honey, that you may live and not die.’” 2 Kings 18:31-32.
Hezekiah tore his robes and prayed to the Lord. The Lord intervened by distracting the King of Assyria with two other wars, against the city of Libnah and the King of Ethiopia. Hezekiah was spared the seige. While the psyop attack of Sennacherib was wearing down God’s people, He miraculously intervened on their behalf.
About 330 years earlier, Goliath was wearing down the people of Israel. He shouted threats against them every day. He called for a one-on-one fight to the death:
“Choose a man for yourselves, and let him come down to me. If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 1 Samuel 17:8-9.
Even the king’s mightiest men were no match for Goliath, an ancestor of the giants of old. The armies of King Saul were petrified by the challenge of Goliath—until David miraculously defeated him.
Psyops have definitely been used in warfare against the people of God—as they still are today!
There is a second way to approach warfare. It is to take the offensive. This second approach to fighting calls for engaging the enemy in battle. Young David used this approach. He did not sit in the tent sipping tea with his brothers, while cringing at the jeers of Goliath. David took the offensive, went up to meet Goliath, and defeated him on the battlefield.
In the first method of warfare, the combatants and civilians remain comfortably in their houses and tents. They deal with the relentless barrage of psyops from the enemy. As they listen to the lies of the enemy, they start believing them. They fear what might happen to them if they try to go out and fight.
Jesus, however, in His Great Commission passages, did not order His people to retreat or bunker down. He commanded all His followers to “Go and win disciples”—to “Go in to all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” He called on His disciples to go on the offensive!
Meanwhile our enemy Satan continually barrages our minds with his psyops:
“No need to share the gospel, they won’t be interested anyways!”
“Do you really need to obey that command of Christ? Is it not an optional command?”
“Don’t make a fool of yourself and speak about Jesus. There are better ways to influence others.”
“You know that you don’t have ‘the gift’ anyways!”
We often huddle in our churches hoping that “every creature” will stumble into our church doors to hear the gospel.
Meanwhile, Jesus never sent us out to be in a perpetual retreat-mode. His command was not “Wait for them to come to you.” Jesus said, “Go to them!” Take the initiative!
However, we often hear the psyops of the Evil One whispering in our ear: 
“Not today!”
“No need!”
“Too busy for that!”
“Now is not a good time!”
I hear those psyops every day. Do I go out in evangelism? Yes. I often go out in door-to-door or street evangelism multiple times a week. But the psyops of the Devil are relentless. Every day is a battle for me.
Let’s pray for each other, asking God to help us obey the clear command of Christ to “Go!” Let’s ask God for an opportunity to “Go!” and share the gospel today!

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Obligation (ἀνάγκη) in Two Contexts

The Apostle Paul uses the word obligation in two contexts with which we can easily identify: giving and evangelism. For one he says, “not of obligation.” For the other he says, “I am under obligation.” The contrast is remarkable!
Of giving, Paul wrote “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion [ἀνάγκη], for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Cor 9:7 (ESV). Paul encourages voluntary giving of finances to the church. The financial needs of the church are to be met by God’s people giving cheerfully—not under obligation!
In marked contrast, Paul himself explained the sense of spiritual obligation that he felt to evangelize, using that same word:
“For if I evangelize, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity [ἀνάγκηis laid upon me. Woe is me if I evangelize not!” 1 Cor 9:16 (translation mine).
Whereas giving should not be compulsory, Paul received and taught a sense of obligation to evangelize. In the next verse he even stated that sometimes it was “against his will.” “But if not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.” 1 Cor 9:17 (ESV). The urge within him to evangelize forced him to share the gospel out of obligation.
Giving—not compulsory; evangelizing—compulsory: what a contrast!
May a divine hilarity accompany our giving to the church, and may divine obligation compel us to evangelize those around us!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Evangelizology: I Seek My Own Honor

Evangelizology: I Seek My Own Honor: In a very interesting interchange between Jesus and the Jews in John 8, Jesus redirects their libel to the issue of glory and honor. Accusi...

I Seek My Own Honor

In a very interesting interchange between Jesus and the Jews in John 8, Jesus redirects their libel to the issue of glory and honor. Accusing Him of being demon-possessed, Jesus countered:
“I do not have a demon.” John 8:49.
His next several statements are telling. Jesus changed the topic from his not being demon-possessed to a deeper issue, that of honor and glory.
“But I honor My Father, and you dishonor me. And I do not seek my own glory. There is he who seeks and judges.” John 8:49-50.
The filth dripping from their lips against Jesus exhibited their true problem—they were self-honoring glory-seekers. They had never learned to honor their father and mother. They had not constrained their tongues to honor the third person in the room over themselves. Their mouths spewed bile on the Son of God, because they were filled with seeking their own glory and honor.
Then it struck me. They are me and I am them. I am constantly seeking my own honor. A better position. A bigger house. A larger paycheck. Yearning to be heard and honored. Establishing my own name and legacy. I am like the Jews speaking against Jesus.
Meanwhile, Jesus said, “I do not seek My own glory.” The very Person who had every right to seek His own glory was not seeking it! Jesus left the matter of giving and getting glory to God the Father. God would exalt Him in His own time and way. Jesus, Son of God and Son of Man, had put to death human glory-seeking. Is this not our need?
Our self-honoring reflex must be numbed at the cross of Christ. We cannot allow it to fester in our thoughts and intentions. Else we will scorn Christ and His word.
Jesus said, “I do not seek My own glory!”