Friday, November 21, 2008

The Simple, the Scoffers, and the Foolish

Proverbs 1:22
How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge?

Here in Proverbs we see a progression of sinful behavior. We can learn quite a bit about our witnessing encounters from this verse.

We first have the simple ones who love their simple ways. In ignorance, they cling to the coziness of their simple life and simple way of thinking in regards to God's truth, eternal salvation, good and evil. I've encountered many simple people while witnessing...they hear the Gospel but shrug their shoulders and walk away…back to their simple life. As a result of their indifference to the truth, they turn away from God and consequently any hope of salvation (See Proverbs 1:32).

The scoffers who delight in their scoffing make a mockery of everything holy and religious. Just think about the new atheists like Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, etc. and movies such as Religulous by Bill Maher. They worship the god of naturalism and scoff at the thought of a Holy God who reigns supreme over all of creation. This group is particularly tough because even the mention of God, the Bible, and Jesus is immediately counted off as superstition and foolishness. However, 2 Peter 3:3 tells us that they mock the truth of God's word so that they may follow their own sinful desires (see John 3:20).

And the final group is those who hate knowledge. These are the worst of the three because they hate to be taught any truth whatsoever. Their pride deceives them into believing they are above reproof and as a result, they reject any truth that would lead them to knowledge of God which would ultimately lead them to salvation. This is especially true with false Christians. Now I know I'm not the judge of one's salvation but I encountered someone that may fit this description perfectly while I was witnessing in Atlanta. I handed a tract to a lady at the BET Awards and asked her if she were to die, would she go to Heaven but before I could even finish my sentence she replied , " I asked God for forgiveness and I know I'll make it in." I tried asking her if she considered herself to be good enough to go to heaven and she didn't want to hear it.

With God's help, I patiently took her through the law and told her that the Bible declares no one to be good but she continued to put her hand in my face and proudly exclaim, "Nah uh…stop…that's the end of this discussion!"

She then went on to say that she prays every night and asks God to forgive her so nothing anyone says to her will convince her otherwise...keep in mind she had her hand in my face the entire time. I tried getting a word in but she kept shaking her head and making loud and obnoxious high-pitched noises. It was extremely frustrating. I asked her if she had read her Bible recently and she claimed she read it earlier that day. I asked what passages and she said, "Isaiah 1, 2, and 3." I then asked her what she read and if she learned anything new and she said she forgot.

She then said, "Look...we will see who's right when we both die...maybe I'll see you in Heaven or maybe I won't!"

Her pride and contempt for any knowledge or reproof whatsoever was ultimately her own stumbling block. She hates the knowledge of God's word and as Hosea 4:6 says, "my people perish for a lack of knowledge." And unfortunately, a sinner full of pride will reject the truth of the gospel that can set them free and give them everlasting life…in other words, pride paves the way to eternal destruction (Proverbs 16:18). Furthermore, when our hearts are filled with pride, the Bible states that God is at war with us (1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6, Proverbs 3:34).

But we also know that God gives grace to the humble. As Christians, we must preach the Gospel and not quarrel with anyone but with great patience and kindness, gently oppose the simple ones, the mockers and the haters of knowledge and believe that through upon hearing the outward call of the Gospel, God is doing an inward work by pouring out His Spirit upon their hearts and granting them repentance(2 Timothy 2:25, Romans 5:5).

Monday, November 17, 2008

Judas the Preacher!

Here are some Grace Gems from William Secker's, "The Consistent Christian" concerning true and false conversions, written in 1660.

"If you know these things--you are blessed if you do them." John 13:17

To obey the truth, and not to know it--is impossible.
To know the truth, and not obey it--is unprofitable.

For, "Not everyone who says unto me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter into the kingdom of heaven--but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven." Saving knowledge is not as the light of the moon--to sleep by; but as the light of the sun--to work by. It is not a loiterer in the market-place--but a laborer in the vineyard.

A man may be a great scholar--and yet be a great sinner. Judas the traitor--was Judas the preacher! The snake which has a pearl in its head--has poison in its body! The tree of knowledge has often been planted, and flourished--where the tree of life never grew! All abilities and gifts--without grace and holiness--are but like Uriah's letters, which were the death warrants of those who carried them!

Mere head knowledge will be as unhelpful to the soul, in the judgment day--as a painted fire is unhelpful to the frozen body, in a cold day. Theoretical knowledge may make the head giddy--but it will never make the heart holy. How many professors are there, who have light enough to know what should be done--but have not love enough to do what they know! Give me the Christian who perfectly sees the way he should go--and readily goes the way he sees!

That is barren ground--which brings forth no fruit. "To him who knows to do good, and does it not--to him it is sin." The sins of ignorance are most numerous--but the sins of knowledge are most dangerous! That sinner's darkness will be the greatest in hell--whose light was the clearest on earth!
There are many who set a crown of glory upon the head of Christ by a good profession, and yet put a crown of thorns upon his head by an evil conversation. By the words of our mouth--we may affect to adore religion; but it is by the works of our lives--that we adorn religion.

As trees without fruits are unprofitable--so knowledge without good works is abominable! Leah and Rachel are fit emblems of knowledge and obedience. Knowledge, like Rachel--is beautiful. But obedience, like Leah--is fruitful.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Prodigal Cat

If you are from Houston then you are familiar with the local contemporary Christian station KSBJ. They center their music and message under a “family-friendly” banner. As a result, they try their hardest to be as sensitive and non-offensive as possible…even when it comes to presenting the “gospel”. This morning, as I was driving to work, I decided to turn my dial to 89.3 (KSBJ) and listen in on their morning show. Well apparently, one of the hosts was in much despair over her lost cat. Yes, they dedicated almost 30 minutes of the show talking about her beloved cat and how much it reminds them of the story of the Prodigal Cat...errrr...Son in Luke 15:11-32. Hey! Why not? Cats are more than just our feline friends...their our furry angels.

The host went on to explain that if the cat would come home to his rightful owner, then he would receive all the cat food he wants…why would a feline settle for the scraps of food in trash cans or furry mice running around in the dangers of a dark alley? As if the lame analogy was not enough, the host went on to say that, like the prodigal son, we all have a "God-hole" in our hearts that we try to fill with things other than God...all we have to do is come home to God to receive His blessings but God is powerless in this situation...we have to make the decision to come home.
There are a few crucial points that get overlooked by seeker-sensitive presentations of this parable:

  1. Through divine providence, it was the dire circumstances and afflictions thereof that humbled the son and opened up his eyes to realize that his rebellion would consequently lead to death (Luke 15:17-18).
  2. The son recognized that his sins were against God (Luke 15:21).
  3. His desire to go back to the Father as a hired servant. He wasn’t going back home hoping to get material blessings or a better lifestyle. He headed back to the Father’s house in hopes of serving him (Luke 15:19-20).
  4. The prodigal son’s demeanor shifts from greed and selfishness (Luke 15:12-13) to humility, brokenness, and repentance (Luke: 15-19).

  5. The older son's contrasting representation of the Pharisee; a hypocritical, self-centered, and self- righteous person who does not recognize their own sinful heart and therefore sees no need to repent (Luke 15:29).

It is in these circumstances that that the lovingkindness and riches of God’s grace are set before us. His mercy extends to the worst of all religious and pious people to the lowest and rebellious of all sinners...we are all of one nature and in need of God's forgiveness. (Ephesians 2:3) We see how much it pleases the Father to convert and receive such a great sinner and his eagerness to forgive anyone who comes to him in true repentance (Luke 15:21-22).

So now I ask you...when you came to Christ did you have a genuine Godly sorrow that led you to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10)? Did you come broken and humble, realizing you sinned against a holy and righteous God (Psalm 51:4)? Or were proud and self-righteous...completely ignorant of your sinful condition? And because He is worthy, was your desire to serve Him? Or did you come to the Father with selfish motives, thinking that God was obligated to serve you?

Hopefully, when you look back to that day when God saved you, you can relate to the prodigal son when he said:

"Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son."

To which the Father replies:

"...let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

An Election that Stands

Now that the election is over can we get back to business? All the effort that we put into the preaching of politics…can we now focus our time, energy, and efforts into preaching the Gospel? It’s the preaching of the Gospel that will change the hearts of a nation…NOT POLITICS.

For all those fretting over the election of Obama, I ask you one question. Could God be working something out above and beyond our comprehension? If you believe Romans 8:28, then the answer is yes. Although I will not speculate on what those plans may be, Christians must continue to fight the good fight of faith. Don’t get out of the ring and simply stop in His will and continue to read your Bible, pray, and proclaim the Gospel.

And remember, even though we may not like the results of the election, we must ALWAYS trust in God’s purpose and not in politics or presidents. All the promises of God are still true and we must always abide and rest in these promises.

Another thing...before we react like the liberals and begin attacking the President Elect (and I say this with a big gasp), remember that those who are in authority ARE GOD’S SERVANTS (Romans 13:6) so let’s debate, reason, and discuss things with respect...keeping in mind that he is a minister of God. We must submit to that authority (Romans 13:1-7, Titus 3:1) and if we are going to hold any president accountable, let’s always remember Ephesians 6:12…our fight is not against those in office but against the rulers, authorities and spiritual forces of evil IN THE HEAVENLY PLACES.

So take heart Christian...despite who the people of America elected, always remember your election that took place before the foundation of the world (Romans 1:4) by a gracious and merciful God because when all that we see in this world passes away, this is the only election that will prove of most eternal importance (Romans 8:29-39).