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Archive for December 19th, 2012

Equilibrist businessman

Many of us would object to having a non-medical personnel perform surgery on us.  We would object because that person is not a doctor.  That person does not have a comprehensive knowledge or the expertise concerning the human body and how to operate on a human body.   We would cry “foul” if a non-medical personnel was to operate on our body.

If one would object or discriminate against a non-medical personnel performing surgery on someone, how much more should we object to a watered-down Gospel presentation?  As Christians, we are to be like spiritual surgeons who operate carefully upon the soul of a unbeliever.  The lost are made in the “image and likeness” of God (Gen. 1:26).  Hence, as human beings and subjects created in God’s image, we should be motivated to be benevolent.  To be benevolent in this context is to provide the biblical Gospel and to proclaim the Gospel presentation holistically.  We must stray away from the false Gospel messages that are preached (Gal. 1:6-9).  To do so would not be an act of benevolence, but an act of malevolence. We need to study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim. 2:15).

Beloved, as Christians, when it comes to the Gospel, we must also not bar the Gospel because there are many lost souls that are inches away from being abandoned by God in Hell for all eternity.  At this moment, they are walking in a rotten covering or on a thin rope that will one day collapse or rip.  They are in a state of stupor and we are to be their sirens that God will use to awaken them from their sin and sentence of condemnation.

Some of you may ask, “How do I share the Gospel biblically, holistically, and effectively to these spiritually dead people.  Before I do that, I would like to first belabor the point that there are many methods on how to share, but the content of the Gospel truths are inherently the same.  For example, the death, burial, and resurrection, must be included, but most importantly, the penal substitution which is the heart of the Gospel must be catapulted.

Penal substitution is a serious doctrine that must be exalted amongst all Christians.   Penal substitution can be defined in this manner,

That the Lord Jesus Christ died for us—a shameful death, bearing our curse, enduring our pain, suffering the wrath of his own Father in our place—has been the wellspring of the hope of countless Christians throughout the ages.”[1]

This statement is referred to as “penal substitution,” “substitutionary atonement,” or “vicarious atonement.”

To separate oneself from this doctrine of penal substitution is to sever oneself from orthodoxy.  To substitute rationalism for penal substitution is to make oneself hostile before a Holy God.  Since this doctrine is the heartbeat of the Gospel, which is linked to salvation, one must preach this truth with passion and integrity.  One must not substitute rationalism, lies, or inaccuracies for the sacred and biblical understanding of penal substitution.  The cross was bloody and costly.  We must not cheapen it in order to satisfy the masses.  Without penal substitution, repentance, faith, and the submission to Christ’s Lordship would bring no hope or joy for the unbeliever.  Without penal substitution,  man is utterly hopeless.

In order to have an effective  and non-esoteric Gospel message that people would appreciate, here is what a  good Gospel presentation implements.  Some of the concepts can also be used for counseling.  Let us also remember that only the Holy Spirit can change a dead person.  We could preach clearly and skillfully, but without the Holy Spirit, that person will not change (John 3:8; Titus 3:5).

  1. The Character of God
    • Holiness:
      • Hab. 1:13-16, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, And You can not look on wickedness with favor. Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they?”
      • Isa. 59:2, “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
        • Ps. 11:7, “For the LORD is righteous, He loves righteousness; The upright will behold His face.”
        • Is. 5:16, “But the LORD of hosts will be exalted in judgment, And the holy God will show Himself holy in righteousness.’
        • Ps. 7:11-12, “God is a righteous judge,/And a God who has indignation every day./If a man does not repent,/ He will sharpen His sword; /He has bent His bow and made it ready.
  2. The Depravity and Condemnation of Man
    • Falls short of God’s glory
      • Rom. 3:23, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
    • Man is unclean
      • Isa. 64:6, “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.”
  3. The Perfect Logic of God
    • The wicked and righteous in God’s eyes.
      • Proverbs 17:15, “He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous,/Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD.”
      • Gen 18:25, “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”
  4. God’s Action:  Much has been said regarding man’s condition before God’s holiness and justice.  We will now transition to the hope for mankind: God’s love.
    • God’s love
      • 1 John 4:8-10, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
      • Rom. 3:23-26, “For allhave sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; 25 whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; 26 for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”
    • The resurrection of Christ
      • Rom. 4:25, “He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.”
      • 1 Cor. 15:1-8, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”
  5. Man Needs to Respond
    • Repentance
      • Man needs to recognize and confess his sins and submit to the Lordship of Christ
        • Psalm 51:3-4, “For I know my transgressions,/ And my sin is ever before me./Against You, You only, I have sinned/And done what is evil in Your sight,/So that You are justified when You speak/And blameless when You judge.”
      • Recognition of sin leads to a hatred of sin
        • 2 Cor. 7:10-11, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. 11 For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter.”
      • Recognition and confession of sin is not the primary evidence, but one must turn from sin
        • Matthew 3:10, “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”
        • Gal. 5:24, “Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (cf. vv. 19-23).
    • Faith
      • Faith is to trust and rely upon the promises, works of Christ, and Lordship of Christ.
        • Rom. 4:21, “And being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.”
        • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
        • Rom. 10:9, “That 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.”

Now to make this evangelism discussion somewhat applicable, three days ago, on a Sunday morning, a stranger from Florida sat in the foyer of the church.  He was asking for resources that will help him get back home to Florida.  I also asked him a few questions about his background.  I learned that the young man appeared to have a difficult life.  Apparently, he was adopted and was in and out from incarceration, had a baby out of wedlock; and made some poor decisions in life.  As I was listening to him, I couldn’t help but to continue the discussion while service was still live.  He reminded me of some of the Christian rappers like Lecrae and others who had a similar life like he did.  By God’s grace, God transferred Lecrae and some of the other Christian rappers from the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light (Col. 1:13-14).

To cut the story short, I swung the pendulum from the natural and into the spiritual.  I was now engaging spiritual warfare by discussion spiritual issues.  By God’s grace,  I was able to share the gospel message that exhibited candor.  I shared the law, the holiness of God, justice of God, and many of the other facets I mentioned earlier.

The young man was receptive the whole time.  And as the conversation continued, he told me that he is concerned about the direction of his life.  I asked him, “Will you please think about what I said today when you leave this church, and he responded by saying, “I am thinking about it right now.”  It appears that the Lord was convicting him.  He further noted that no one never shared the Gospel to him the way I did.  This is not to boast or to get glory for myself, but what I believe he was referring to was the biblical Gospel that was presented to him that Sunday morning in its fullness; and along with its sobering and solemn implications concerning man’s eternity.

At the end of the conversation, I handed the young man a Bible and invited him to our church’s Christmas services.  I am not sure if I will ever see him again or whether he plans to go back to Florida soon, but I am sure glad that God used me to share the Gospel to him that morning.  It was an evangelism encounter that I did not expect that day, but it is a reminder that I need to be ready in season and out of season (2 Tim. 4:2).  I definetey could sleep well tonight knowing that I did not preach a perverted Gospel message.  I know the Lord is faithful and His Word will not return back void (Is. 55:11).  Please keep him in prayer.  It is my prayer that the Lord will convert him from the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.  Soli deo gloria.

Appendix of Important Terms and Concepts for Evangelism and Counseling

  1. Repentance
    • In the OT, the verb repent (niham) occurs about thirty-five times; and is usually used to signify a contemplated change in God’s dealings with men for good or bad according to his judgment (1 Sam. 15:11, 35; Jonah 3:9-10).  It is also is used to signify that God will not swerve from his announced purpose (1 Sam. 15:15:29; Ps. 110:4; Jer. 4:28). In the NT, the word for repentance is metanoia which means “a change of mind.”  That word metanoia appears twenty-three times in the NT.  What is unique about the word metanoia is that it goes beyond the meaning of having an inner change, but it also involves a turn in direction in one’s life.  In other words, it involves a 360-turn in one’s life.  Grudem defines repentance as follows, “Repentance is a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ” (Systematic Theology, 713). “Genuine repentance will result in a changed life” (Ibid.).
    • What also must consider what repentance is not.  Repentance is not just feeling bad or sorrowful for the sin one commits, but a sorrow that is according to the will of God that leads to repentance.  In other words, when one understands that his sin is against God, he will repent.  But one who has the sorrow of the world may feel bad for the mistakes he made in life, but he will not feel bad that he sinned against a holy God.  And a person who has the sorrow according to the will of God does not regret the sin he has left.  A person who has regret about leaving his sin shows the reigning idol in his heart still remains.  The idol to exalt one’s pleasure and to satisfy one’s pleasure has prevented many from repenting from his or her sins.  If a person sees God as his greatest joy, he will have godly sorrow and will truly repent.  Please see 2 Corinthians 7:9-10 for more details concerning sorrow of the world and the godly sorrow that is according to God’s will that leads to repentance.
  2. Faith
    • Faith is trusting and relying on God’s promises, the work of Christ; and believing in Christ as Savior and Lord.
    • In terms of the language of faith, there are two key terms that must be understood: pistis and pisteuo.  Let’s first deal with the verbal usage of pistis and pisteuo.  Pistis means “faith,” “trust,” and “belief.”  Pisteuo means to “believe in” and to “have faith in,” and “entrust.”  As for the noun pistis and the verb pisteuo – they are used around 240 times in the New Testament.  If we are to summarize faith, we could see it in three elements.  Just like repentance, faith as well, affects the intellect, emotion, and volition.  It must also be mentioned that faith is not a blind faith in Christianity, but involves the belief in something true; and also includes the idea of personal trust in Christ rather than our self-righteousness.
    • Going back to the three elements, I will just piggy-back off of that and also give you the reformer’s terminology of faith: notitia, assensus, and fiducia.  Nottia signifies an awareness of the facts of the Gospel; assensus signifies the belief that the facts were true; and fiducia signifies a personal confidence and trust.  The first two conveys the idea of facts being true and the last term emphasizes faith in God personally.  Also, just like repentance, faith is also a gift (Eph. 2:8; 1 Cor. 12:3; 1 Tim. 1:14; Heb. 12:2).
    • Scriptural references for faith:
      • Rom. 10:9, “That 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.”
      • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His [a]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
  3. Repentance and Faith Affects the Mind
    • Intellect
      • The sinner should realize that he is sinning before a holy and just God.
    • Emotion
      • There needs to be a zealous hatred for sin and a zealous love for Christ (Jn 4:24).
    • Voliton
      • There needs to be willing desire to fight-off sin and a willing desire to cling to Christ and His Word.
  4. Tests of Assurance Concerning Salvation
    • Walking in the light (1 Jn 1:5-7)
    • Confession of sin (1 Jn 1:8-10)
    • Obedience (1 John 2:3-4)
    • Hatred for the sinful things of the world (1 Jn 2:15-17)
    • Perseverance in right doctrine (1 Jn 2:24-25)
    • Righteousness (1 Jn 3:10)
    • Spirit’s testimony (1 Jn 4:13)
    • Love for the brethren (1 Jn 2:9-11)
    • Discipline (Heb. 12:5-8)
  5. The Way of the Transgressor is Hard
    • Proverbs 13:15, “Good understanding produces favor,/But the way of the treacherous is hard.”
  6. You cannot be forgiven by God unless you are a child of God
    • Eph 1:7, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”
  7. Double-Minded Man is Unstable
    • James 1:8, “Being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”
  8. There is Only One Way to Live
    • Psalm 1, “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
      Nor stand in the path of sinners,
      Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
      But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
      And in His law he meditates day and night.
      He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
      Which yields its fruit in its season
      And its leaf does not wither;
      And in whatever he does, he prospers.

      The wicked are not so,
      But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
      Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
      Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
      For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
      But the way of the wicked will perish.

  9. True Discipleship Tested
    • Luke 14:25-27, “Now large crowds were going along with Him; and He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple. 27 Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”

[1] Steve Jeffrey, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007), 21.

*All Scripture is quoted from New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995); unless otherwise noted.

*Some concepts were adapted from Michael A. Vlach, “Theology III” (Unpublished syllabus, The Master’s Seminary, 2012) and “The Gospel of Jesus Christ,” http://www.heartcrymissionary.com/resources/the-gospel-of-jesus-christ (accessed December 18, 2012).

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