Behavior Modification is Not Needed!

We all wish people would act better in society. And if we are honest, we all have a standard by which we live and could easily impose that standard on others. God has written the standard in His law, so why don’t we just start there? Well, because we can’t have people live a certain way over them actually being ALIVE!  The gospel is the most vital message, not behavior. The law and the government can deal with these things, and for the saints, church discipline.

We appreciate your listening and look forward to seeing this podcast get off the ground with great force. By the Lord’s grace, we’ll continue to provide more and more teaching on this and other pastoral subjects. 

Also, get ready to start listening to our weekly hour-long podcast “Theology Answers” that can be found over at “TheologyAnswers.com” and is a part of the Christian Podcast Community.

“Some people seem as if they would rather see people “act” like Christians than actually be Christians.”

 

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People Get Angry When Asked…

about their testimony or the gospel. Now you may say that is normal but I’m talking about professing Christians. They get all upset and begin to belittle, moan, yell, and sometimes get physical. I’ll never understand it.  Let’s look quickly at the response that is given us on this issue from Scripture.

We appreciate your listening and look forward to seeing this podcast get off the ground with great force. By the Lord’s grace, we’ll continue to provide more and more teaching on this and other pastoral subjects. 

Also, get ready to start listening to our weekly hour-long podcast “Theology Answers” that can be found over at “TheologyAnswers.com” and is a part of the Christian Podcast Community.

“Gentleness and respect are far from most people when confronted with their faith. Let’s pay attention to this.”

 

Evangelism is one of those terms/practices that has become culturally determined. Just like everything else in Scripture, if not held to the authority of the text, it will become subject to human error and self-glory. I’ve been thinking about this and hope you’re listening too….

 

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I have been asked many times over the last few weeks about what is required to “know” in order to be saved vs. what is considered “growth”.

00Over the last year, I have been inundated with numerous calls per day from unknown numbers, local number, toll-free numbers and even numbers I know only to find a telemarketer on the other end trying to either sell me something or trick me into thinking I had to hear their pitch. The list of ‘blocked’ numbers has grown to over 150 and quite honestly, I have become quite frustrated with the constant intrusion. Due to the fact that I receive a ton of calls every day that are legitimate when you add the garbage calls, it makes a phone a hated tool and sometimes it causes me to miss good conversations.  For 2018, it has been a different story.

I have started answering every call that comes to my phone when appropriate without fail. And in an effort to do all things without complaining and have joy while doing everything for the glory of God, I have found that answering every call as an opportunity to share the gospel is the best way to handle what otherwise is a means to frustration and sin. 

God is Not Mad

Along US 25 in Waynesboro, Ga, Maranatha Community Church felt it was a good idea to post this sign. The message seems to be that God is never mad at anyone for any reason. The sign is clearly visible from the highway although best visible to northbound traffic. It is a permanently constructed, not easily changed sign, obviously constructed to last for a long time. For me this sign symbolizes for us the weakness and collapse of the evangelical church.

Examining it in the light of scripture, you can find that this sign is just flat contrary to scripture. If you look at Rom 1:18 it says “For the wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteous of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness”. Later in this chapter we learn that this refers all people who are not Christians. Thus we learn that God IS mad at all people for all sort of reasons. So this sign is a false teaching and a deceptive and false prophecy.

Now you could say, well, we’re just talking to Christians here. After all, Christians are not under the wrath of God (1 Th. 5:9). If that is so, then the sign should have been qualified so as not to be misleading. It should say “God is not mad at CHRISTIANS …” but that is not how it is written. It is also not placed so only Christians would see it. We therefore have to conclude that the intended audience is everyone passing by on US25.

If the objective, then, is to encourage “seekers” to enter the church with the idea of then giving them the true gospel, wouldn’t that be a bait and switch? If you are going to ultimately present them the gospel of sin, condemnation, Christ’s sacrifice and repent and faith, this would seem to start off in a deceptive direction which would make you look like a liar and turn people off immediately.

Now I know nothing about Maranatha Community Church, but it would seem that the sign is an actual expression of their belief and that they want to encourage unbelievers to come to their church with the promise of inclusion and acceptance of them no matter what their state or mode of life. The call might be “we don’t care what you are or what you do, we offer you the peace and acceptance of Christ. Come join with us! We don’t care if you an LGBTQ or if you are mafia hit person or a drug abuser, come join with us and received the acceptance of Christ!” If true, this would be a denial of the Gospel which calls for people to die to themselves and become slaves of Christ. The people who would compose such an assembly while they call themselves a church would in fact be an effective denier of Christ and thus an anti-Christian assembly.

This is what Schaeffer spoke of in Death in the City. Church, knowing the truth, have turned away from it. They propose externally focused religion, rejection of the Word of God, toleration for specific sins, and adoption of the world’s practices as the way to go rather than following the Word of God. In so doing the ministers trample God’s vineyard, scatter the sheep, distort and misuse God’s word. This not only leads God’s people astray, it also creates the wrong impression of God and His requirements in the hearts of people. This results in a diluted/destroyed witness and a lack of influence on society. As more and more assembly’s adopt this kind of teaching, the churches are weakened and polluted and the world receives more and more reason not to pay attention to it.

Schaeffer’s solution is to preach the true gospel, live the true Gospel and to call out those who are distorting the Word and misleading the people. Again, not knowing anything about Maranatha Community Church but that sign and what it means, we call on them to either correct that sign to represent a true statement or to take the sign down altogether. We further indicate to all people on the authority of the Word of God, that that sign does not represent what God would have us to know about Him and our relationship to Him.

Dr. Cuellar can be found on Facebook

In a recent conversation with a brother in Christ, the matter of the invitational system arose whereby he inquired about the biblical nature of such things. When he confronted the practice with the question of its biblical authority, the brother was led to history and tradition as the backbone of the practice.  This evening I read a post on Facebook related to the same subject and felt it would be good to share some of the points as taught by Dr. WR Downing on the true nature of salvation, which is the new birth, not a choice of man.  While I personally could tragically kill such practice with general elementary exposition of biblical text, especially John 3, Dr. Downing’s thoughts on the nature of conversion ring loud and clear.  More importantly, the scripture speaks to the nature of God’s work ALONE in salvation, thus the following:

True conversion is spiritual. It is much more than merely a question of man’s will or seeking to redirect it under preaching. Conversion is the result of the effectual work of the Spirit of God in regeneration. Conversion is the immediate and spontaneous outward manifestation of regeneration or the “new birth.” The very nature of the regeneration itself reveals its utter necessity before man can savingly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. The necessity of regeneration or the new birth is found in the utter spiritual impotence of man (Jn. 3:3, 5; 1 Cor. 2:14), the blinding power of the devil (Matt. 13:4, 19; 2 Cor. 4:3–6), the eternal redemptive purpose, and the righteous character and omnipotence of God. If any human being is to be saved or delivered from the reigning power of sin, his own innate animosity toward God, the blinding power of Satan, and ultimately delivered from eternal hell, God must initiate the work of salvation (Isa. 64:6; Matt. 13:3–4, 18–19; Acts 16:14; Rom. 1:18–25; 3:11, 27–21; 8:5–8; 1 Cor. 2:14; 2 Cor. 4:3–6; Eph. 2:1–10; 4:17–19; Titus 3:5; 1 Jn. 5:19). To say all this is to declare that salvation is by grace; anything less would be a denial of the same.

There are six essential spiritual realities which comprise regeneration, or the “new birth.” If any one of these realities is not true or actual within the personality, the individual is yet unregenerate: first, the impartation of Divine life (Jn. 3:3, 5; Eph. 2:1, 4–5). Unless the individual receives such a principle of spiritual life, he cannot even “see” the kingdom of God, much less enter it. He may perceive, know or understand much, even so as to be without excuse, but his will is bent toward sin and evil and his inner being is darkened (Rom. 1:18–25; 1 Cor. 2:14).

Second, the breaking of the reigning power of sin (Rom. 6:3–14, 17–18, 20, 22). Every human being by nature is a willing bondslave of sin. This power is broken by God in a definitive act of grace, and a radical cleavage is made with the reigning power of sin in the life. This aspect of sanctification—definitive sanctification—is contemporaneous with regeneration.

Third, the removal of natural heart–enmity against God and his truth (Rom. 8:7–8; 1 Cor. 2:14). Man by nature has an innate aversion to God and his truth. This animosity is removed by a sovereign act of God, enabling the sinner to savingly turn to God in the context of his truth.

Fourth, the re–creation of the image of God in principle (Eph. 4:22–24; Col. 3:1–10). Both these passages refer to a past act, not to an entreaty. Man was created as the image–bearer of God. In the Fall, this image was devastated spiritually, morally and intellectually; the thought–process became fragmented and given to futility. The physical body, with its appetites and desires, assumed a controlling influence over the individual (Rom. 6:6, 11–14; Eph. 4:17–19). In regenerating grace, God re–creates the image of God anew in principle in righteousness, holiness of the truth and knowledge—a spiritual, moral and intellectual transformation. With the mind thus freed, and a holy disposition given to the personality, the sinner is enabled to freely turn to Christ in faith as presented in the gospel message.

Fifth, the removal of satanic blindness (2 Cor. 4:3–6). Above and beyond all matters of the will or heart, looms the awful, evil power of Satan, who specifically blinds sinners to the truth of the gospel. He further seeks to remove any influence of the gospel in any way he possibly can (Matt. 13:3–4, 18–19; Mk. 4:4, 15; Lk. 8:5, 12). This blinding influence is removed by an act of God’s grace.

Sixth, the gift of saving faith (Eph. 2:4–10). Conversion, or repentance from sin and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, is inseparable from regeneration. Conversion is the infallible and immediate consequence of the work of the Holy Spirit upon and within the personality (Acts 16:14). The Scriptures usually consider regeneration and conversion inclusively as one. It is conversion, pointedly personal faith in the Lord Jesus and repentance from sin, which necessarily and infallibly expresses the work of God within the personality (Acts 13:12, 48; 14:1; 16:14, 27–34; 17:4, 11–12, 34; 18:8, 27; 19:18; Rom. 10:9–10, 13, 17; 1 Cor. 2:4–5; Eph. 2:4–10).

So beloved, let us hold dear to the person of Jesus Christ and His infallible word through which one can find salvation by grace alone through faith alone. Anything else is just demonic.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor James

The lazy Christian has his mouth full of complaints, when the active Christian has his heart full of comforts. – Thomas Brooks

I written many times on subjects like these mainly because I see grave damage, division and distance happening among the people of Christ due to opinions, correction and the like in the name of “truth” being purveyed on social streams. It is never incorrect to want to correct error, but it is not the call of the church to correspond with every fool and his foolishness. It would be a better practice to privately message folks that you feel the need to help and most of the time, to just stop continued theological error from showing up in your data feeds.

Polemics are necessary, but FEW are actually gifted in the wisdom of doing it. Paul was the master of polemics, and yet, he never chastised false teachers or responded to their continued errors. Rather, he spoke the truth in love for the sake of the church. He wrote letters concerning their listening to errors and condoning such. He politely questioned the Greeks in an effort to preach the gospel so that ‘some’ would be made alive in Christ. The point is that we are to be preaching truth NOT to correct all the world’s lies, but to afford the great grace of God its supreme power to transform lives.

This world is not about us and while we should be stirred in our spirit when lies are shared and stupid theology is “memed”, we should recognize our calling and be about the business of our Father and not the business of the devil. The world will never change, the lies will never stop, the heresy will never cease and our job is to make disciples, rebuke, teach, and correct… with all respect and all the affection of Christ.  After all, the reason the body teaches truth is for God to get the glory in its planting and sprouting.

Let’s look at 2 Timothy 2:23-26 for a minute.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels.

Do you see this? Have nothing to do with means just that. Stop involving yourself with quarrelsome people. Scripture is clear that when you warn a brother of false teaching and he doesn’t heed, that you should have the church make noise and move him away from you. Just a reminder, you don’t divorce yourself from the fellowship of true saints but rather cut the bad ones out.

And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness.

Even when we are to engage, it should be done with KINDNESS. Even to the apostate and WICKED evil doers who desire to blaspheme. We can be kind while being firm and strong in Christ and His word. We are to TEACH with ability, not promoting commentary from others as “copies” of another’s insight, but through the word of God taking another to truth and showing them error. Too often we like to feel right because someone else has shown us the wrong in others.

PATIENCE is the key. It took YOU and ME a long time to see some errors… afford others the time for the Lord to work in them. After all, WE may be just the vehicle He has purposed to use for their joy in truth! So we patiently ENDURE evil. We put up with it for a season waiting for the Lord to do His gracious work as we GENTLY correct our opponents.

God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.

See the MOTIVE behind it all?  That God would save these evil ones. That He would graciously open their eyes to the truth. That they would be given the GIFT OF REPENTANCE so that they would find the knowledge of THE TRUTH.  This is salvation. This is the work of God. This is the reason we correct, not just to keep the flock safe and pure, God does that by the way, but that those who are lost among us will find Christ as their only hope and turn from their self sufficient non-gospel religion.

So the next time you feel the need to answer the internet, just don’t. In response, share the gospel, not the NotGospel… and watch your heart be at peace and the work of God continue through you. There is always a time and place for every debate, but the billboard approach of indirect self-righteous “rightness” doesn’t do it for us, a holy people.

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5 ESV)

Stay full of Joy beloved.

Pastor James

In my entire life I have been inundated with ideals, philosophies, strategies, theories, plans, events, and efforts to engage the world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If I were to frame and paste every “certification” in evangelism techniques I have it would cover a good 1000 square feet of wall for sure.  While I don’t want to sound crass or ungrateful for many who serve the Lord in an effort to reach people with the gospel, I have to maintain a strict understanding of what scripture teaches and how God alone gives life to unbelievers in spite of the style and engagement of human beings. In my brief two decades in ministry I have discerned several reasons why people do not share their faith.

They are not in the faith

According to scripture, MOST people among the fellowship of local congregations are NOT in Christ. They enjoy the life of church, but not the giver of life. Jesus says that many are going through the broad way and few will find and enter the narrow gate. He says that He is the door to Heaven, not the ways or words of man. So, for a large majority of people, they don’t share the faith because they don’t have it to share. No one can give what they do not possess.

They are ill equipped by methods and memorization

Being ill equipped is either one of two things: First, it is not being taught anything about sharing the faith, living the faith or the like and second, it is being taught that sharing the faith is a method, system, strategy etc. that completely disregards the commands and practice of God’s word. When people learn to throw a ball, they don’t need lessons and strategies dealing with their finger placement, rotation of spin, muscle retention in the fingertips, or the methods of measuring the arch, friction, or force of the ball moving through the air.  They just need to pick it up and throw it to someone. Scripture teaches that sharing the faith is done in only TWO ways. Through the teaching of God’s Word either through preaching or daily living. Matthew 28:19-21 teaches that all Christians are to just simply teach others to obey Christ through the Scriptures. There is nothing more to it. I guess the question should then look to the first point, do those who profess Christ even know what He has certainly said they will be and do in the first place?

They are fearful due to a lack of power from God’s word

Fear intimidates many in the faith because they see all the magnificent oration and presentation skills of so many and their ability reason and engage in dialog and debate. They feel as if they would never be able to do these things and in a biblical sense, they should not do them. Paul says to the Corinthian church that he did not come in “eloquence of speech” or in wisdom but in “fear and much trembling” being nearly “unable to speak.” He says this because that was his ability, not what we think when we consider successful evangelism. When we put ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY ANY stock in one’s ability to share the gospel, we have dismissed the cross of ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL ALL power. Read 1 Corinthians 1 for the proof.

They don’t have the word of God in their fellowship 

I won’t claim that many people sit in ignorance of their own doing on this matter but I will say that for the most part they sit under talking but not teaching. Teaching requires something being learned and when all one gets from a so-called preacher is stories, examples, personal reflection, commentary or worse, life lessons, they are NOT getting any teaching from Scripture because it doesn’t teach these things. It doesn’t need these things. It doesn’t requires these things. If God’s word is preached as it is written, the the wisdom of man moves into the garbage and God’s wisdom who is Christ Jesus Shines clearly to empower HIS true church to teach others the same.

They think it requires a response by all who hear

Sadly, the efforts of sharing the faith in the last 100 or so years has been compacted to a few verses, a technique or two and then a request for a response to which men, beginning with Satan in the garden then to Charles Finney during the SGA, has gladly put their seal upon as the “right” response for the gospel “plan” or “presentation.”  I will remain focused on this point but if you read more and listen more you will see I have very little tolerance for this “bewitched” practice of damnation that plagues the world today settling the hearts of many who believe they are born again when they are not.  God’s word demands a response and the effect of teaching people to obey Christ and to believe in Christ and to repent of their desires to find JOY in Christ is either God saving them through the hearing of the gospel (Christ died for the ungodly for the judgement of sins) or hardening them through the idea of legalism or rejection of the truth. (Rom 1)  We should not lead people through a process of saying or doing anything but rather engagement to be continually committed to the joy of Christ through the fellowship of the saints around the word and worship. (See Matthew 28 again if you need to.)

Share the faith, share the gospel, live the life of a child of God and stick to the word of God and watch God make disciples!   μαθητεύω (For my Greek Loving Peeps… take a gander at that verb found in Matt 28:19)

In the end, many practices or lack there of regarding evangelism are a direct result of either not knowing or not trusting in the promises of God. Scripture teaches that all who see the Kingdom of Heaven and Enter it are “born of God” (John 3) and that only through hearing of the words of Christ will God create life in that hearing unto faith. (Rom 10:17)  So, when the church begins to reduce God’s saving grace little more than being sincere like when you get married, make a new year’s resolution or commit to a job, then we have failed the cross most certainly and it’s no wonder why so many Christians just are not willing to engage in a losing, false converting game of cat and mouse.

Matthew 28:19–20 (ESV)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

See this text. It brings with it decades if not near centuries of man-made manure of purveying a godless hope for the gain of self glory and head counting producing false celebration, false worship and false churches for the world to love and enjoy. Jesus says simply that sharing the faith in obedience to Him is on two things:

  1. As you “GO” – so we have to be in the world doing our daily things.
  2. “Make disciples” – this is what we think we’re doing by “committing” people to Christ or sharing the “process” of salvation when Jesus clearly explains it.
    • Making disciples is bringing them into the flock of Christ evidenced by Baptism or inclusion into the local church. This would be those who desire to “know” and “learn” Christ who profess in their own understanding that they are born again by Him. (A whole new discussion)
    • Making disciples is teaching them to observe (0bey) ALL His commands.

The result of real evangelism is that CHRIST IS WITH US ALL until the end of age. Amen.

Pastor James

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finney bust

The title may be a little confusing, but one can clearly see the trend in the last one hundred years as countless numbers of individuals have come to faith in something other than Christ and called themselves Christian.  James Adams presents some points on this matter in practice, theory and theology and remarks that many people are indeed being led astray by such things.  A few weeks ago, I preached a sermon on the idolatry of “salvation experiences” and I would implore all to consider the gospel and the implications of the gospel by such practices.  The following is the complete article by James Adams on the matter posted from here.


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