Tag Archives: witnessing

What Did Jesus Do? — Post by Michael J. Findley

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Sheldon’s question, “What Would Jesus Do?” has driven some people to attempt great deeds for Christ. It has driven others to do things which can best be described charitably as questionable.

Few people invest the time and energy to study what Jesus actually did. When Jesus knew that he had less than a day before he would be crucified and return to the father Jesus spent his last hours fellowshipping with and teaching his disciples.

“Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know?” Jesus asked him. “The person who has seen me has seen the Father. So how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?” (John 14:9 ISV)

Jesus spent his last hours with his disciples. Not all, or many or even most of disciples, but Jesus chose to be with just the twelve; eleven after Judas left. We do not know if there were servants or children or others who were not mentioned. Jesus chose to spend all of His remaining time fellowshipping with and teaching his disciples. Instead of trying to reach more people, Jesus spent His time teaching those who were the most knowledgeable; people who were already well taught.

After His resurrection, Jesus walked over seven miles with two men. Then Jesus told them, “O, how foolish you are! How slow you are to believe everything the prophets said! The Messiah had to to suffer these things and then enter his glory, didn’t he?” Then, beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them all the passages of Scripture about himself. (Luke 24:25-27 ISV)

Jesus then met his disciples in a locked room in Jerusalem.
Then he told them, “These are the words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms had to be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds so that they might understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:44 ISV)

Jesus met with his disciples several times after his resurrection. Probably the most well known is the meeting with seven disciples in Galilee when Peter goes fishing. After his resurrection, Jesus spent his time either teaching or building relationships with his closest disciples.

We certainly have many other responsibilities that we read about throughout God’s Word. But teaching the Word of God and building relationships is very important. Based on what Jesus did, we certainly need to make teaching and building relationships a priority in our lives. We need to understand what Jesus did. His relationships were based on obedience to the Word of God. And the doctrine He taught drew men into a closer relationship with Himself.

Relationships based on this world will fail. Doctrine which is not taught to others fails to build relationships. And without a relationship with Christ built on a correct understanding of the Word of God, relationships with other people will also fail.

And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another just as God has forgiven you in the Messiah. (Ephesians 4:32 ISV)

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Image Credits: WWJD? graphic by Mary C. Findley

Stained glass at St John the Baptist’s Anglican Church [1], Ashfield, New South Wales. Illustrates Jesus’ description of himself “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11). The memorial window is also captioned: “To the Glory of God and in Loving Memory of William Wright. Died 6th November, 1932. Aged 70 Yrs.” Stained glass: Alfred Handel, d. 1946, photo:Toby Hudson Wikimedia Commons

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What Is The Gospel? Part Five: The Eternal Gospel

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But we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve like other people who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so through Jesus God will bring those who have died with him. For we declare to you what the Lord has told us to say: We who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who have died. With a shout of command, with the archangel’s call, and with the sound of God’s trumpet, the Lord himself will come down from heaven, and the dead who belong to the Messiah will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17)

According to the Latin word translated here as caught up, this describes the rapture. The moment this takes place, there will be no believers left on earth to proclaim the gospel.

Not all of us will die, but all of us will be changed—in a moment, faster than an eye can blink, at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will be raised never to decay, and we will be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52 ISV)

As a trumpet sounded on Sinai, so this trumpet not only signals the resurrection of the Church, but alerts the inhabitants of earth to God’s change in His methods.

This begins another phase in God’s plan of redemption. Satan will be cast out of heaven, his time will be short and demonic forces will have greater access to those alive on earth at that time. Many who accept Jesus as the Messiah during this time will face rapid martyrdom. It will be the time of 144,000 Jewish witnesses, 2 special witnesses, and an angel flying through the air to proclaim the gospel.

Then I saw another angel flying overhead with the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on earth—to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the time for him to judge has arrived. Worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.” (Revelation 14:6,7 ISV)

Image Credit: Unknown  illuminator An Angel with the Eternal Gospel Date about 1255 – 1260 Getty Center Source/Photographer KwFA0VOH3o96DA at Google Cultural Institute Public Domain Wikimedia Commons

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What Is The Gospel? Part Four: Our Responsibility

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In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through him all things were made, and apart from him nothing was made that has been made. (John 1:1 ISV)

New Tribes Mission was founded in 1942 to evangelize unreached people groups who have no knowledge of either the God of the Bible or the history of Israel. According to their website “Unreached people groups have no concept of the God of the Bible. So Bible teaching begins at the same place God began with His chosen people: at the beginning. Chronological Bible teaching presents a foundation for understanding Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

Paul used this formula when he spoke to the Athenians. After beginning with the legal requirement of not introducing a new religion, basing that claim on their statue to the unknown god, Paul introduced, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth.” (Acts 17:24 ISV)

The problem Paul and every Christian up to Augustine had with the Greeks and the Romans is that many believed the earth was brought into existence around 1500 BC. They mocked the Jews for believing that the creation was so old (4000 BC). Ovid’s Metamorphoses is one example. Ovid, like most pagan authors, has creation followed by a Golden Age, a Silver Age, a Bronze Age, and finally the Iron Age.

After teaching the creation, the fall, the flood, the founding of the Jewish nation, God’s call out of Egypt, God’s judgment on the sin of the nation, then we teach the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

Now I’m making known to you, brothers, the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you accepted, on which you have taken your stand, and by which you are also being saved if you hold firmly to the message I proclaimed to you – unless, of course, your faith was worthless. For I passed on to you the most important points that I received: The Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, he was buried, he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—and is still alive!—and he was seen by Cephas and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Next he was seen by James, then by all the apostles, and finally he was seen by me, as though I were born abnormally late. (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 ISV)

We must understand that Paul lived in Corinth for two years teaching the Old Testament. Paul taught the nature of God, the nature of man, the nature of sin, the need for atonement, and the fulfillment of this need through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But in the modern western culture, Christians have an additional barrier to overcome. Western Culture has made Secular Humanism an established religion. A person born into a culture with no knowledge of God has to begin with Creation.

But a person born into the indoctrination system of secular humanism must first understand that they have been indoctrinated. So the person with no knowledge of God who does not have to unlearn indoctrination is easier to teach than the person who is indoctrinated.

It is possible that John wrote what we call the first epistle or 1 John as the last book of the New Testament, making it the last book written of the entire Bible. He faced a very similar problem in Ephesus after being released from Patmos. His answer was to affirm the validity of what they witnessed about Jesus.

What existed from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we observed and touched with our own hands—this is the Word of life! This life was revealed to us, and we have seen it and testify about it. 1 John 1:1,2 ISV

This is the definition of science. Heard, seen, observed, touched, and testify. There are standards for examining evidence. If the scientific evidence for Jesus is ignored and rejected, then history, any history, is impossible to understand. Nothing in all of ancient history is documented as well as the history of Jesus.

But our responsibility when presenting the Gospel is to faithfully present the Word of God to people who are willing to listen. God is responsible for the results.

In the presence of God and the Messiah Jesus, who is going to judge those who are living and those who are dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I solemnly appeal to you to proclaim the message. Be ready to do this whether or not the time is convenient. Refute, warn, and encourage with the utmost patience when you teach.

For the time will come when people will not tolerate healthy doctrine. But with itching ears will surround themselves with teachers who cater to their people’s desires. They will refuse to listen to the truth and will turn to myths. But you must be clear headed about everything. Endure suffering. Do the work of an evangelist. Devote yourself completely to your ministry.

I am already being poured out as an offering, and the time for my departure has come. I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. The victor’s crown of righteousness is now waiting for me, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on the day that he comes, and not only to me but also to all who eagerly wait for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:1-8 ISV)

Image Credit: Codex Alexandrinus of the end of 2 Peter and Beginning of 1 John Public Domain photographer unknown Wikimedia Commons

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Burning Through the Basket — Post by Mary C. Findley

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This morning we visited a church, and the message came from Luke 12. People by the thousands were stepping on each other to hear what Jesus had to say, but He started talking, not to the thousands, but to the disciples. In part, He said this:

“But there is nothing covered up that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Accordingly, whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed upon the housetops.”

We who have Christ living in us have a light automatically shining in us. But sometimes we keep that hidden. In our typical backwards human thinking, we believe we do not have to share that light. It’s optional. We live the opposite of that other passage, one example of which is in Mark 4:21:

And He was saying to them, “A lamp is not brought to be put under a basket, is it, or under a bed? Is it not brought to be put on the lampstand?”

So if our lights are safely tucked under that basket … umm … folks, that basket is just made of reeds, or even grass. It’s flammable, and so is our bed. We can’t hide it! We can’t!

God will let His light shine. It will shine. Are you shy? Too bad, that bed and basket are gonna burn. Trying to live lifestyle evangelism and never say a word about the Eternal Word? God might catch more than the bed and the basket on fire. Look at Jeremiah 20:9:

But if I say, “I will not remember Him
Or speak anymore in His name,”
Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire
Shut up in my bones;
And I am weary of holding it in,
And I cannot endure it.

The Sunday school lesson at the same church today had another very important message. Peter tried to deny the Lord a he warmed his hands at the enemy’s fire during Jesus’ trial in John 18. You can understand his confusion. Jesus had told them at the Last Supper to get swords. And Peter seems to have had one of the two mentioned.

When the Roman Cohort and Temple guards came to arrest Jesus, He just told them who He was and they fell to the ground. Peter thought the time to seize the earthly kingdom had come. He lopped off an enemy ear to prove he was ready. But Jesus said no, no fighting, I’ll go peacefully. Let my disciples go.

Peter was pumped full of adrenaline and still willing to follow Jesus, but when push came to shove he didn’t know what to do. The Sunday school teacher said people were asking if he was one of the disciples. Maybe he would have been surprised to find a willing audience. But he did worse than just keep silent. He denied knowing the Lord.

But don’t forget, that’s not at all where Peter’s story ends. After a few more stumbles Peter emerges from Pentecost as a fearless leader and speaker and spends the rest of his life almost flawlessly speaking the Word and serving Christ.

So, whatever you’ve done that’s hidden the Word, under the basket, under the bed, know that God will get you proclaiming his Word. The pastor urged us to understand that “it’s time to step up.” It’s time to bring those Words out of the shadows and proclaim them on the housetop. It will happen. Don’t make God wait any longer. Don’t make it burn through the basket. Let it shine. Step up. Put it on the lampstand. Do it now. It’s time.

Image by Piotr Siedlecki from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=65103&picture=fire

Piotr Siedlecki

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How Can I Become A Christian? Part Six: The Romans Road

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In the Book of Romans, the Apostle Paul lays out some very important and key doctrines for becoming a Christian. Different people take different approaches to the total number of verses, but there are certain doctrines which are considered essential.

The book of Romans was written to the most educated people of world. The first time Paul visited Rome, a Church already existed. Yet the Roman Church seems to have very little grounding in the Old Testament, because Paul spends much of the book of Romans quoting standard Jewish doctrines. They also seem isolated from the other Churches, because when Paul arrived in Rome and told of his arrest, the charges against him and his appeal to Caesar, “They said to him (Paul), ‘We have neither received letters from Judea concerning you, nor have any of the brethren come here and reported or spoken anything bad about you. But we desire to hear from you what your views are; for concerning this sect, it is known to us that it is spoken against everywhere.'” Acts 28:21,22 (NASB)

The book of Romans defines reality. “The righteous man shall live by faith” verses “men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.”

Romans one opens with the clearest record of the consequences of sin found in the Word of God. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see for to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” Romans 1:18-32 (NASB)

Understanding both the true nature of both the world we live in and the consequences of our sin allows Paul to detail reality throughout Romans. A few simple verses are used as “the Romans Road” to salvation. All verses quoted are from the NASB.

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Everyone is a sinner. While that concept seems so basic, modern secular humanism denies this basic foundation of reality.

Romans 5:12 “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all have sinned-” God created a perfect, sinless universe. Adam’s sin allowed sin to enter the world and that sin spread to all men. While this seems like a simple and basic Christian doctrine, liberals and the Church of Rome deny it.

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” What we rightfully deserve as wages for the sin which we both inherited and practice by choice is death, both physical and eternal. Eternal life is not something we can work hard enough for nor do we deserve it. It is only available as a free gift. It is only available from God. And it is only in Christ Jesus our Lord. It is not something we can add to our lives in addition to our sins.

Romans 10:9,10 “if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” This is not a magic formula that must be followed which automatically results in salvation. If that were the case, deaf and mute people could not be saved. The phrase “confess with your mouth” is referring to public confession. Thanks to the internet, that might be in writing. God says that if you are ashamed of Him, then He will be ashamed of you. It means understanding what sin is, repenting of sin and publicly testifying.

Some people add Romans 12:1,2 to the Romans Road “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that your may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” Those who do not include these verses claim that this makes the Romans Road more difficult and complicated. I believe that a new believer might not completely understand everything these verses expect out of us, but new believers often put older believers to shame with their zeal.

Image from 1Photos.com

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How Can I Become A Christian? Part Five: What Kind of Soil am I?

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And (Jesus) spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Other fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.” Matthew 13:3-9 NASB

Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.” Matthew 3:18-23 NASB

In this parable, the sower is the one preaching the Word of God and the seed is the Word of God. We, the hearers of the Word of God, are the soil. What kind of soil are we, shallow, rocky, thorny or good? The one sowing the seed and the seed do not change. All that changes is the soil.

How do we respond to the teaching of the Word of God? Do we allow the evil one to come and snatch it away? Do we abandon the Word of God and other believers when persecution comes? Do we allow the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth to choke the word? Or do we bear fruit, a hundred, sixty or thirty fold.

If we bear fruit, what does that mean? Sheep bear other sheep and since God calls us his sheep in many other passages, many take this to mean that we are to be fruitful in proclaiming the Word of God and leading others to Christ. While the Word of God is very clear that we are to be faithful in proclaiming His Word, the Holy Spirit is responsible for the results. Paul says that he planted, Apollos watered, but God gave in increase. We are not to be lazy, but neither are we to be discouraged when we do not see results.

But bearing fruit seems to make more sense if Jesus is talking about the fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. Galatians 5:22, 23. KJV This makes more sense, as this is taught many different ways throughout the New Testament. Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:7 KJV

This seems to line up with Paul’s teaching in 2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

We can, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, examine ourselves to see if we are faithful and obedient to the Word of God. But the Holy Spirit is the responsible for the response to our sowing the seed.

Illustration from http://1Photo.com

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What Is Our Responsibility?

What is our responsibility? What does God expect of us when He says “preach the Word” or “preach the Gospel”? When we are faithful and obedient to preach God’s Word, we will either be accepted or rejected. As in the parable of the sower, the Gospel will be received different ways. When the Gospel is rejected, we are commanded not to cast our pearls before swine. “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” (Matthew 7:6) “But thus you shall do to them: you shall tear down their altars, and smash their sacred pillars, and hew down their Asherim, and burn their graven images with fire. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” (Deuteronomy 7:5-6) Our responsibility to unbelievers includes not bringing their abominations into our house. “You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and like it come under the ban; you shall utterly detest it and you shall utterly abhor it, for it is something banned.” (Deuteronomy 7:26)

We are not to go out and burn and destroy people and things we disagree with. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  (2 Corinthians 10: 4-5)

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20).

“And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.” (Mark 16:20)

“This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

“How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)

“Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God.” (Colossians 1:25)

” [ “Preach the Word” ] I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:1, 2)

But if I say, “I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name,”
Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones;
And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it. (Jeremiah 20:9)

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God.” (Acts 20:27)

So how are we to deal with those who claim to be believers but who are dividing the church? “Reject a factious man after a first and second warning” (Titus 3:10)

What happens when these people have positions of authority in the church? “Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church.” (3 John 9)

If we are invited to another assembly that does not believe as we do, we should take the responsibility to preach truth and correct error. We don’t go there to gain advantage, to raise money, to enhance personal reputation. We don’t go there to create problems or make trouble but we have to deal with obvious disobedience. To ignore open sin is to commit sin. Remember that God Himself says, “These things you have done and I kept silence; You thought that I was just like you; I will reprove you and state the case in order before your eyes. Now consider this, you who forget God, Or I will tear you in pieces, and there will be none to deliver.” (Psalm 50: 21-22)

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