Visions from the Vincents

February 9, 2009

4. Because sgs create an atmosphere of care (Gal 6).

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 3:41 am

Sgs provide an atmosphere for caring for the members of the church.  Who cares for the people of the church?  Some may say the really spiritual or the pastors or the deacons.  They are part right.  Let me explain.  Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”  Paul speaks these words to a church, which, yes, includes pastors and deacons.  But, notice that he doesn’t isolate these words to pastors and deacons.  This message is given to the whole church.  Caring for one another fulfills the law of Christ.  If you know the previous 5 chapters of Galatians, you know those you are called to care for are those who have trusted in Jesus for salvation, are being lead by the Spirit, and are, thus, fleeing sin—Christians.  Organizationally, sgs can give us the ability to care for other members in our groups.  Sgs give focus.  Sgs also provide opportunities to easily organize a small group of people to serve homebound or even evangelize. Sgs provide a healthy context for exercising spiritual gifts.

February 3, 2009

Small Groups

Some of you might ask why pastors do what they do at times. New things tend to scare people. There is some wisdom to this. You want to be leery of things that have not been tested. However, there is also a certain degree of danger that we are doing old traditional things that are unhelpful. Just because something is new doesn’t mean that it is helpful or unhelpful, but just because it is old doesn’t mean it is helpful or unhelpful either. We really have to evaluate all things in light of Scripture and in light of the context we live in.

This being said, I am convinced that “Small Groups” are a significant need in local churches. This is one of the things I have been called to do in my particular local church. Though they are new to us, they are not new in general. Many churches have been involved in Small Groups in the past thirty years and that number has exploded over the past 10 years. In fact, it would be difficult for you to find an SBC church or any other denominational local church of two hundred or more members that doesn’t have Small Groups. So, more and more pastors are seeing their value. John Stott, one of our eras greatest teachers, who is about 88 years old (pastoring 63 of those years) said this, “Small groups are indispensable for our growth into spiritual maturity” (Small groups, 97). C. J. Mahanney says “A church following a biblical model will not just “have” small groups. It will not merely “offer” small groups. Rather, it will be built with small groups (Small Groups, CJ Mahanney, 3). Over the next few days, I hope you see the biblical necessity to take part in Small Groups, and why your pastors, and so many others, think they are for your good. What is a small group? It is a group of people meeting together to focus on the application of Scripture. Their primary focus is the edification of the believer, but they can also sometimes serve an evangelistic function (this is not their primary function though). For this reason, I will explore 4 reasons for small groups in the coming week.

December 16, 2008

The Fruit and the Root

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 6:48 pm
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This past week Larry Eisenfeld, M.D., and president of the Jewish federation of lee and Charlotte Counties wrote an article expressing his thoughts on the massacres in Mumbai. A concern for a rabbi and his wife and seven other Jews who were murdered prompted him to voice his concern. This is what he had to say, “At the end of the day, it does not matter how we practice our faith. It does not matter how we view the world, or what our politics are…The Rabbinic sage Hillel said that all the commandments can be summed up in “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the rest is commentary…May we all react to this vicious attack by being kinder to one another. It behooves us to look at our similarities rather than our differences.” Eisenfeld sentiments are actually popular these days. In fact, just yesterday, I read an article from the Associated Baptist Press, which quotes President Bush as saying that he is not so sure that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Is it biblical though?

This advice may sound really wise and even biblical. Galatians 5:14 says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” In Galatians, Paul spends much of his time demolishing a temptation perhaps all of us face—Turning Christianity into a list of things that we do for God. The way this practically plays out is that we reduce Christianity to a list of values. We want to be good people so we go to church. We don’t want our children to go to jail so we go to church. This reasoning is like marrying a woman because we like her perfume. We don’t marry a woman because of one of her attributes, nor do we wed ourselves to Christ because of fruit for fruits sake. Paul has shown us that in reality, God has freed us to himself and he is our prize. All of the fruits of the Spirit come from the Spirit living inside of us, transforming us into the image of Christ–that is what makes them spiritual fruits. Our justification and freedom comes from Christ alone. This is the true gospel, God is good, and we broke his law and the only way to be made right with him is to turn from your sin and trust that Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, died for your sins upon a cross and that he is your king—not just a king.

It is dangerous to move from the fruit to the root

This is the dangerous gospel preachers preach and that Martin Lloyd Jones speaks of when he said, “They have all been accused of “antinomianism.” I would say to all preachers: If your preaching of salvation has not been misunderstood in that way, then you had better examine your sermons again, and you had better make sure that you really are preaching the salvation that is proclaimed in the New Testament.” Antinomianism is a belief that there is no law. That is the dangerous gospel we try to preach here. Nothing you do can save you. Salvation only comes from trusting in what Christ has done. This is the very issue that Paul is addressing in this last section of Galatians, and the reason Paul says people are not without a law; they are called to follow the “law of Christ” in 6:2. So, we need to understand the command to love one another within the context of the whole message of Galatians and–perhaps even more so–in the grand scope of the Bible’s redemptive history. Spiritual fruit does not exist without the seed of the gospel taking root in the heart of the believer by the power of the Spirit.

What about other faiths that do good things?

This doesn’t mean that we will not see evidences of grace in the lives of others. All good comes down from the Father who is in heaven. But, some of the good is common and some is special. The rain falls on the just and the unjust. That is a common grace. Only those who repent of their sin and turn to the gospel receive salvation. That is Special grace. So, even the good that we see those of other faiths do is from God. The scary thing is that common grace doesn’t save them. It is faith alone in Christ alone that does that.

November 24, 2008

Seven ways to Redeem Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 6:48 pm

1.    Use it as an opportunity to see what God is doing in the lives of other Christians in your family.  Remind Christian friends or family of things that you are thankful for.  Plan intentional discussions geared towards this end.  Also, implement traditions geared towards this.  This way Thanksgiving will illicit thoughts of gratitude to God and to others, because they will know they will be expected to share particular people and events they are grateful for. In particular, you should focus on lifting up praise to God for particular blessings.
2.    Use it as an opportunity to be an example of the gospel played out before non-Christians.  If you have an opportunity to share Thanksgiving with non-Christians, prepare your heart and the hearts of your family or friends who are Christians to display love and care for one another during this time as an expression of lives led by the Spirit of God.
3.    Use it as an opportunity to share the gospel w/ non-Christian families.  If non-Christians are going to be present, pray for them beforehand.  Anticipate sharing the gospel with them.  Try to drive conversations towards meaningful discussion.
4.    Use it as an opportunity to invite others into your home that are alone, or who have less.  One of the best ways to display the power gospel to your children and others is to show love to those who are different then you.  It carries with it an alien footprint that is not of this world.  People tend towards similarity.  Showing love, especially when difficult or costly, causes people to listen to you.  Moreover, this kind of love reflects a belief that all men and women are valuable because they are created in the image of God.
5.    Set apart a time to think about tangible reasons you have to be thankful.  Some people probably have spent more time thinking about what they are going to eat than why they are getting together.
6.    Don’t let your thanksgiving be confined to the 4th Thursday of every November.  Thanksgiving for the Christian is a way of life.

7. Watch a lot of football, but make sure you spend more time communicating and relating with others than vegging out.  You have little spiritual responsibility for who wins between Texas A&M and Texas, but I do have a responsibility to those God puts me in an actual room with.

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 6:31 pm

Thanksgiving historically focuses on taking time to gratefully lifting up people, places, and circumstances we deem praise worthy.  If the news stories associated with Thanksgiving this year indicate with any clarity the current prevailing attitude, we might need to rename our historic holiday.  I challenge you to google news stories anticipating Thanksgiving this year.  You will find them to be saturated with more gloom and doom than thanks.  Headlines complain that despite lower gas prices, fewer people will travel.  Black Friday has been prophesied to fail to meet the sales successes of recent history, and food pantries are struggling to find enough food.  It seems desperate times have swallowed up our thanks.  This is the time for Chrisitans counter-cultural joy and thanks to shine most clearly.

Is anything keeping you from a thankful heart?: Paul Erupted with Gratitude

Paul emits some of the sweetest words of encouragement and thanks in all of Scripture in Philippians 1. Notice that in verse 3, Paul says, “I thank God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine.”  Paul is thankful for God’s work in his fellow Christians on the behalf of the work of the gospel.  What is amazing in this story is his situation.  Paul sat imprisoned in a Roman cell, where the Roman church had been ignoring him.  In the middle of some of the darkest times in his life, he pens a note of thanksgiving to God for Philippian Christians.  Friend, is anything keeping you from a thankful heart?  Is it sin?  Is there some sin that you struggle with that has surrounded your heart and gripped it so tight that you feel like you can barely breath.  Are particular situations causing you to sin?  Is it trouble at work, trouble in your marriage, trouble with your kids or grandkids, trouble with your boyfriend or girlfriend, trouble with addictions, or trouble with debt?  What is chaining you up from a thankful heart?  Know this, Scripture never says that being a Christian causes all of our suffering to leave immediately.  Instead, we are told to be patient amidst suffering because in creates hope in us.  Paul was thankful amidst really difficult times because he was hopeful.

Paul focused on the right things:
1.    He focused on God.  He looked to a full orbed trinitarian vision of God the Father, God the Son, and in verse 19, God the Holy Spirit.   In verse 3 Paul says, “He thanked God continuously in prayer” as he was in his cell (1:3).
2.    He focused on others—He thanked God particularly for faithful Christians in a church in Philippi for specific works in the gospel, who were faithful daily. 3
3.    He focused on the thing that knit them together, the work of the gospel.
Christians constantly battle the corruption of our hearts that seek to steal our focus away from thanksgiving to God.  One way to fight this is to turn your focus from yourself to God, his people, and the gospel.  Paul focused on these three things as he sat in a dark cell bound by chains.

November 17, 2008

American Idol comes to Florida Baptist Convention 2008


Monday morning Brian and I gassed up the Nissan and traveled up to the 2008 Florida Baptist Convention held in Lakeland, FL at FBC at the Mall—this church literally purchased a Mall for their church building.  Apparently, attendance among women and teenagers has increased dramatically since they moved into the mall, while the number of men suffering from extreme anxiety upon reaching the parking lot has simultaneously increased.  Just kidding!  We were happy to attend this convention, and appreciate our church affording us the opportunity to do so.  I wanted to give you some reasons we were encouraged by the convention and one area I think improvement is needed.

Encouragements
1.    I have to get one highlight out of the way upfront.  Chris Sligh, a contestant from season 6 of American Idol, sang at this year’s convention—and, no, he wasn’t singing Bobby Brown.  He actually turned down the opportunity to sing secular music professionally to sing and write Christian music.  He sang a couple of songs from his newly released CD, Running Back to You.
2.    I was extremely encouraged to see the convention’s zeal for evangelism and missions.  Every pastor that preached sought to challenge and inspire pastors to witness.  I am so grateful to be a part of a denomination in a state that hungers to see more people saved.
3.    I was further moved by the obvious emphasis many of the pastors put on their need to seek God’s help in prayer.  Many of them recounted significant moments of prayer their staffs had had together regularly.  I praise God that we have pastors throughout the state petitioning God to cause revival to break out in their cities, state, country, and even world.

4.    Johnny Hunt delivered an excellent expositional message as the new President of the Southern Baptist Convention.  I was moved by his passionate heart for the gospel, for seeing people saved, for seeing orphans adopted, and for seeing the poor provided for.  This really is pure and undefiled religion.

5.    Florida Baptists also made the need for adoption in our state clear.  The image of 3 football stadiums full of children without mommies and daddies weighs on the heart.  How can the church ignore this?

6.    Finally, I learned much from the gifted communicators at this convention.  Many of the preachers were engaging, entertaining, and moving.  They were also articulate in explaining many of the successes they had in ministry as an encouragement to go and do likewise.  I learned a lot from these seasoned pastors.

Always looking to improve
1.    Now for my list of one improvement.  While there is much to be encouraged by, the convention also reminded me of a trend in Southern Baptist life.  Preaching today tends to stray from the actual meaning of the text.  A number of preachers failed to make the point of the Scripture they preached from the point of their message, and in some cases, they taught something that was clearly wrong to encourage something that was entirely right.  For instance, one pastor taught that the “hidden treasure” in Matthew 13:44’s parable represents all of the people in the world, including lost people, and that God treasures them.  He used that to inspire others to evangelize.  While it is true that God treasures all people because they were created in the image of God, it is not the point of this text.  In fact, the treasure of this text is clearly the message of the kingdom.  If you are not willing to sell out your life to follow this message, then you are not worthy of it.  I agree with this pastor that evangelism is critical—plenty of Scriptures affirm this—but his interpretation of this text is wrong.  The real treasure of this text is not the people, but the message of kingdom that is available to all people.

Conclusion

Brian and I labor to preach what the Bible clearly says.  In fact, we meet weekly to review our messages and to make sure we are making the point of the Scripture we preach from the point of our message.  Why?  Because we believe in equipping our people with an understanding of God that goes beyond just telling them what to do.  We believe Chrisians have been created in the image of God and that they have been given his Spirit.  We also understand that this world is tough.  Stuff doesn’t work like the commercials say.  We can’t tell our people the right answer to every dilemma, because the world is so full of them.  But, if you understand what the Word of God actually says, we believe that, with the aide of the Spirit, they will be equipped to make wise decisions.  In other words, right action follows right understanding when led by the Spirit.

October 20, 2008

Spreading the Wealth Around?

Joe the Plumber recently escalated to the forefront of the political scene as the result of a simple question addressed to Democratic Presidential Candidate, Barak Obama, which resulted in a response that “spreading the wealth around” is good.  Well, I haven’t posted a political blog yet, and do not intend to do so here.  Rather than endorsing any particular candidate, I simply want to entertain why this idea of “spreading the wealth around” actually connects to a grander ideology that opposes the basic tenets of Christianity.

What is Socialism?

You really can’t talk about Socialism without a few quick thoughts from history, in particular, Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels critical work, The Communist Manifesto (CM).  The worldview ascribed to by these authors demonstrates a certain genius that unfortunately, at the end of the day, conveys a shallow understanding of humanity and a complete absence of a view of God. CM seeks to bring peace.  In this work, they claim that the main cause of unrest in a given society centers on class warfare.  In particular, CM claims that the rich (Bourgeois) and the poor (Proletarians) are constantly at war with one another.  So, how can peace and freedom be achieved?  Ultimately, the disintegration of private property.  Socialism is the temporary mechanism suggested to bring about the transition from capitalism to communism.  A great way to describe it is “spreading the wealth around.”

How is this worldview genius?

This is really ingenious in the sense that much of the expectations set forth in CM can be seen today in the United States as well as other countries.  In some senses, CM is almost prophetic.  Class warfare is a real and present danger.

How this worldview is shallow?

Genius and shallow seem to contradict one another.  Can the two coexist simultaneously?  I would argue yes.  This worldview seems and feels right in many ways.  But, if we look at the way that this worldview plays out it fails the test of experience and doctrine.  Notice, that this philosophical system has never played out well.  Have we forgotten the history of China, Russia, or Germany?  This philosophical system has never served to help the lives of people, nor has it served to encourage the free exchange of religious ideas.  Not only does it fail the test of experience, it fails the test of doctrine.  All of us watch with glee as Robin Hood robs from the rich and gives to the poor.  The rich are characterized as evil and the poor as virtuous.  So, of course, we like to see good conquer evil.  This picture has an anthropology that perhaps improves on CM, but it still doesn’t tender an accurate portrayal of humanity.

A Huge Assumption

Notice the huge assumption of CM: if you give everyone the same stuff, nobody will be unhappy.  In other words, Utopia is expensive but possible if you just take from the rich and give to the poor.  Again, the Utopian experiment has been attempted and failed.  Why?  Our problems run much deeper than the toys and gadgets and property that surround us.  Here is a quick public service announcement for you: greed isn’t the only thing in us that isn’t virtuous.  Giving everyone the same paycheck doesn’t end lust, greed, pride, or racism.  In fact, socialism can encourage greed and other sins, which again, just look to history to find the great tragedies associated with this worldview.

Bigger issues at play

Christians know that the problems that we face run much deeper than what is “out there.”  A basic doctine of humanity states that man is born into sin–all of us.  Humans have deep-rooted sin issues that need to be addressed.  Socialism assumes the basic goodness of man claiming that the real problem is that the rich take advantage of the poor.  In reality, we need to ask ourselves, “Why do the rich take advantage of the poor, and why do the poor seek to take advantage of the rich?”  Furthermore, will the fracturing of class warfare not only give way to further types of warfare?  In truth, the real issue that we have is “warfare” in general.  We are a people that waged war against God by sinning against him, and we war with one another.

Conclusion

What we really need isn’t “spreading the wealth around” we need an identity change.  We need to make Jesus our King, repent of our sins, and believe in him for salvation.  The best way to redeem culture is to evangelize it.  Redeeming culture happens when culture is redeemed!  So, who are you voting for?  Worldviews matter, and we need to consider the relationships that differing philosophies have to one another.  It might just be that something that sounds good is actually not!

October 1, 2008

Evangelism Mythbuster #6

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 1:24 am

What if I don't get a lot of these filled out?

6. Evangelism without a decision is a failure. Decisions are not the ultimate goal of evangelism.

Some get a lot of decisions

If you remember the intro, evangelism literally means to “proclaim the good news.”  I have already made it clear that making disciples is the goal of evangelism not decisions.  Many still monitor successful evangelism by decisions, but is this biblical.  One question we must ask ourselves is what does Paul mean that some have the gift of evangelism in Eph 4:11.  Is that to say that they are more effective?  Is there some tangible, measurable means by which it is made evident that a certain person has this particular gift?  I would say so.  Philip, a deacon, is also referred to as “the evangelist” (Acts 21:8).  This title is probably in reference to at least what we see of him in Acts 8:5, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed to them the Christ.”  And despite the efforts of Simon the magician the results were obvious in 8:12, “but when they believed Philip as he preached good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.”  So, Philip was an effective evangelist with results (admittedly in a special time in redemptive history).  We have seen many throughout history who seem to be particularly gifted in evangelism: George Whitfield, Billy Graham, etc.

The result of effective evangelists

In fact, they receive such a response that it makes others feel taunted by the success of others.  So much so, that they are immobilized with a fear that they are not getting decisions.  I believe many quit as a result of poor returns on their evangelistic investments.  The costly activity of proclaiming the gospel is intimidating enough for many without the doubts that loom large in the wake of yet another perceived failed evangelistic effort.  But, is the perception of a failed evangelistic effort necessarily perceivable to the naked eye.  Or, what if the great value of God is that his people rejoice in his mighty deeds which happens to be the same vehicle God uses to create his people it is the Word that displays life and gives life.

The proclamation of the good news doesn’t just create life, it displays it.

Peter couldn’t be more clear.  In 1 Pet 2:9, he says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  His mixed audience of believers hear that they, though including both Jews and Gentiles, have become the new people of God absorbing Old Testament identities only ascribed to Jews like “priesthood” and “holy.”  God made us his people “that you my proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” So, it is the proclamation itself we are told is our calling, and God uses that to expand the boundaries of his kingdom.  Our God is a speaking God from the beginning of Scripture to the end.  Through speech he reveals himself and the true nature of reality.  Just as he spoke the first creation into being, he is speaking a new creation into being.  The amazing thing that happens in the New Testament is that he knits his people so tightly to himself that he actually uses them to speak the Word that usher in the second creation.  That Word is Christ.

When Christ stands up!

But, if the borders aren’t expanded, it doesn’t mean that evangelism has failed.  The proclamation itself is our calling.  In Acts 7, Stephen proclaims a majestic and full account of the gospel, and is stoned to death.  Does this mean that Stephen failed?  By no means!  Notice that 2,000 years later I am still talking about the majesty of this evangelistic effort that tendered no immediate response, except what we find in Acts 8:1-4.  The Christians running for their lives eagerly proclaimed that same gospel that endangered their lives and led to the death of Stephen.  Some may say that he didn’t get a lot of decisions that day, so, he failed.  But, that is not how Christ viewed it.  This is one of the only, if not the only, example of Christ standing in honor of some one in all of Scripture.  We may think that that evangelistic attempt ended in the worst possible way.  God’s perspective differs from man’s.  God’s perspective is the one that matters.  Some of us may have many experiences that feel like failure, when in actuality, they bring great honor to Christ even if we don’t have the decisions of a Billy Graham or  George Whitfield.

September 26, 2008

Evangelsim Mythbuster #3

Filed under: Uncategorized — Joshua @ 5:50 pm

3. Mowing someone’s yard isn’t evangelism. Evangelism is, without question (though some have and do question it), centered in proclaiming the “good news.” (Okay, so I know this picture may be somewhat offensive, and maybe trite, but it just seemed to fit).

Lifestyle Evangelism?

This statement might sound really funny to you.  Who would call mowing someone’s yard evangelism?  Some of you have probably heard this referred to as lifestyle evangelism.  Your lifestyle is crucial to affective evangelism.  Everyone’s life tells a story. As N.T. Wright has said, we are all in the process of writing our own narratives with the ink of our lives.   Our lifestyle matters.

Is that enough?

But, evangelism means “proclaiming the good news.”  So, we can do all of the good works we want too.  We can love people for decades and work really hard doing it, but never actually evangelize them.  Why?  Because we have never explained what the good news is and how that person must respond to it.

What is this “good news?”

The Old Testament is primarily about the fact that the first man sinned against God who is both good and just, and the rest of the Old Testament shows that every man after that sinned against God. As a result, God punishes the guilty, as any just judge would.  But he also shows mercy, to some in the OT.  He always promises his people salvation from sin and its consequences someday.  Can you imagine thousands of years of waiting for deliverance?  That is why the people of God rejoice that Jesus Christ was sent as our Savior.  He came to answer the countless prophecies pointing to one who would come and gather the people of God from amongst all nations.  He took that wrath and judgment that was rightly ours.  He was crucified on  a Roman cross, not for anything he had done, but for your sins and my sins.  In the ultimate act of power, God raised him from the dead and seated him on the throne of the Universe.  Anyone that makes him king in his or her life will be saved from facing an infinite God’s eternal wrath.  Friends this is the truth that we must tell.  This happened in history and this is the truth we all need to be talking about.  There is no more important truth in your life than what you do about this truth.  This gospel both converts and sanctifies.

What if someone doesn’t believe the gospel?

In Richard Dawkins new tome on atheism, he asks the provocative question, “what is so special about belief that it determines whether or not someone is ‘saved’ or not?”  If you are coming from a worldview developed by a 19th century scientist, and if you presuppose that all that exists is that which can be monitored in a test tube, then you will never get to the significance of things we all know exist but can’t account for, such as: beauty, love, thoughts, and belief.  But, if you are honest, you know there are all sorts of things we can’t test, but we do believe in.  God has spoken to us and given us a much clearer and coherent understanding of the universe than Darwin.  God says that we must believe in Christ and make him our king if we are going to be saved.  If you are a non-Christian, I hope I have been both gracious and clear in this explanation.  It doesn’t take an episode of Mythbusters to prove that you will die one day.  I want you to know that one day you will die, and you will be judged by God.  You will come before the judgment seat of Christ as it says in Phil 2:11 and elsewhere and you will have to give an account.  Are you ready for that?  Or have you already tested whether or not the soul of man continues after his body dies?

What does this means for Christians?

Christians, we have to know the good news ourselves.  We need to know content.  Yes we need to live lives that are reflective of the gospel, but if we don’t ever express the content of the message, we don’t offer the thing that brings life.  We have to speak of what Christ literally did for us on a real cross in history to fulfill the promises made by the God of Israel.

Is sharing my testimony evangelism?

So, sharing your testimony is good, but it is not evangelism.  It is one great bridge to evangelism, but if you don’t speak of the work of Jesus diing in history and on a Cross, and, if you don’t move towards the imperative to change their direction in life because Chrsit is now king, it is not the gospel or evangelism.

The family is often forgotten!

Sometimes lifestyle evangelism is the default in the family.    Make sure that you are living right before them.  But, also make sure that each day you tirelessly speak of what Christ has done in dying for your sins.  The gospel isn’t just that we are to be moral people, it is that Christ makes us innocent, he took our punishment, and we are called to follow his example with our lives.  So, when correcting or rebuking, make sure that you are doing so in light of the actual event and meaning of Christ’s death on the Cross.

September 25, 2008

Mythbuster #2

Filed under: Evangelism,Uncategorized — Joshua @ 1:22 am
Tags: , ,

2. Not everyone is called to evangelize. Actually, all Christians are called to Evangelize.  Maybe you have been taught that your job is to invite people to church and the pastor’s job is to invite them to Christ.

What about verses about “evangelists?”

In places in the Bible, we find that some are particularly gifted or called in this area.  In Ephesians 4:11, we see that there is a special gift to the church of an evangelist.  And, in 2 Timothy 4:5, pastors are called to do the work of evangelists.  So, you may think that evangelism is something that only a select few do, and that because it is not your gift, you don’t bother with it.

Consider these verses

The Bible is clear that we are all to “proclaim the gospel.”  In fact, this is the reason that God has called you to himself.  Look at 1 Pet 2:9, “but you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Who is Peter speaking to here?  He is speaking to Christians undergoing persecution.  Notice he doesn’t say, “Some of you have been called to evangelize because you have that gift, or all those of you who have some kind of special Bible training proclaim the excellencies of him who called you.”  He says, we are all called to proclaim the excellencies of God in Christ.

Does evangelism have to take place from a pulpit?

This includes fisherman, teachers, accountants, homemakers, or any other category of person you can concieve of.  God calls all Christians to evangelism.  That proclamation isn’t necessarily from a pulpit either.  In fact, at the time this was written, I would venture to say that is virtually a gaurantee.   This proclamation happens as mothers raise their children, as a plant worker eats lunch with an unbelieving coworker, or as a Doctor offers consolation to someone suffering a terminal illness.

Isn’t this risky?

Are there risks in doing this?  Yes!  And, I don’t want to belittle the ever-growing risks of faithfull evangelism.  Risk itself is not a new developement in the lives of Christians though.  Remember Peter’s audience faced sporadic, but severe persecutions for proclaiming the faith.  All of the Disciples suffered immensly and most were martyred for the faith.  In Acts 4 we find a similar situation.  There, the dispersed Christians flee for their lives while proclaiming the gospel.  The point is that risky evangelism is the only true kind of evangelism.  That is one of the costs of true discipleship.  Another way of saying that is, Christians, this is what you were created and recreated to do.

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