The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10 ESV

Friday, June 29, 2012

Back to Basics - of the Gospel

Why dilute the Gospel? Afraid of losing the audience, facing rejection, opposition, even persecution? This is how John the Baptist introduced the ministry of Jesus.

"I baptize you with water; but someone is coming soon who is greater than I am - so much greater that I'm not even worthy to be his slave and untie the straps of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, gathering the wheat into his barn but burning the chaff with never-ending fire. John used many such warnings as he announced the Good News.”
(Luke 3:16-18 NLT)

That's quite an introduction. I’m not sure that would go over very well among some evangelicals today. Evidently judgement for rejecting the Good News is part of the Good News.

Jesus, “filled with the Holy Spirit’s power,” preached his first sermon from Isaiah chapter 61 in his hometown of Nazareth. His audience was "amazed at his gracious words" and spoke "well of him." However when he exposed their unbelief, they were infuriated and mobbed him in an attempt to kill him. (Luke 4:16-30)

Speaking the truth graciously does not preclude violent opposition to the message, or the messenger. Jesus felt no need to modify the Good News to make it more appealing. He evidently did not embrace a "seeker sensitive” strategy.

A few chapters later Jesus responded to a news report that Pilate had murdered worshippers in the Temple, with this message.

"Did you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?...Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And, you will perish, too, unless you repent and turn to God” (Luke 13:2,3 NLT)

The focus of evangelism should be on communicating the whole gospel, Good News that includes repentance or judgment for rejecting the Good News. After all the fruit of evangelism depends on the work of the God, not man.

“ one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them to me, and at the last day I will raise them up.” (John 6:44 NLT)

The success of gospel proclamation has far more to do with the evangelist being “full of the Holy Spirit” (Luke 4:1) than personality, prominence, prestige, dressing down (or up) or any other attempts to be “culturally relevant.” Spirit empowered evangelism has no fear of proclaiming God’s judgment of unbelief.

The Apostle Paul’s testimony parallels Jesus’ example,

“The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the power of God...But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:18,24 NLT)

“ message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit.”
(1 Corinthians 2:4 NLT)

You know the results.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Discerning the Times

The "men of Issachar...understood the times and knew what Israel should do."1 Chronicles 12:32 NLT

"Your eye is the lamp that provides light to your body. When you eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness." Luke 11:34 NLT

Who is shaping your worldview? Your worldview determines most every choice you make - your personal morality and values, how you treat others, your politics, your economic policy, sense of social justice, etc.

Who has your eye? To whom do you look for truth? Who is influencing you? To change the metaphor, to whose voice have you given your ear - the Word of God and those with a Christian worldview who apply Biblical truth to life issues?

Or is the "light" you allow into your life coming from the secular humanist worldview that dominates our political, business, educational, entertainment and news media? Or perhaps from those "spiritual" leaders who are in fact "...false prophets...disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves?" Matthew 7:15 NLT

We have been warned.

"Make sure that the light you have is not actually darkness." Luke 11:35 NLT

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The "Lesser of Evil"

Then Presidential candidate, Dr. Alan Keyes, was in Pompano Beach Florida back in the Fall of 2008 to speak at the memorial service for Baby Shanice Osbourne, the child, who surviving an abortion in Dade County, was subsequently murdered by the abortion clinic owner. I had the privilege to bring a brief message just before Dr. Keyes spoke.

That occasion and the internment of Baby Shanice that followed, afforded me the the opportunity to spend time with Dr. Keyes. I was so impressed with his personal faith, integrity and passion for righteousness. He is a man of principle, an uncompromising advocate of applying Biblical truth to our participation in the the political process.

In our time together he tutored me on the fallacies of “voting for the lesser of two evils,” the premise widely advocated by many evangelicals in the presidential race between the two leading contenders, John McCain and Barack Obama. A vote for Dr. Keyes, it was argued, was a wasted vote.

Dr. Keyes pointed out that if all Christians would vote for a candidate who represented Christian values, like himself, the votes were there to elect such a candidate to the White House instead settling for “the lesser of two evils.”

Four years later, we are hearing the same argument now that the two primary candidates in the 2012 presidential election will be President Obama vs. the presumptive GOP candidate Mitt Romney.

In his speech at the Rally for Common Sense in Missouri on May 19, 2012,Dr. Keyes exposed the fallacy of the “lesser evil” premise. Here are some excerpts from his speech. You can watch the 32 minute address on YouTube below. He says,

“The problem with voting for the lesser evil is that when the smoke clears, you are still being ruled by evil...The lesser of evils is evil still.

“The problem with voting for the lesser evils is that you then hand the standard for your vote to the evil side. And if they want you to get really evil they will simply find and put up the most obvious and apparent and deep died wickedness they can contrive. And when you vote for the lesser of evil you’ll be voting for the just about the most deep died wickedness you can find but it will be the lesser evil.

“...the one thing you can be certain of if you have no choice but evil, is that you have left the Kingdom of God...When your only choice for rulership is Satan and Beelzebub, you better wake up and smell the sulphur, cause your know where you are.

“Now you tell me, how many more times are you going to accept it. How many times are you going to take the next step and the next step and the next step, deeper into that kingdom where evil rules and you are no longer represented. The problem with voting for choices that don’t represent you is that it doesn’t
take long before you get a government that doesn’t represent you and that’s what you have now.”

“We have finally come to the crisis no leader will rescue us, no party will rescue us. The only thing that can save this nation now is the people themselves encouraged by their faith in God and unwilling to give up the courage that that faith brings.”

As the intro to the video says, Dr. Keyes, also “...spoke about the need to be honest with ourselves about the problems now confronting America and how the Republican and Democrat parties collude to further the interests of the elite establishment.”