Monthly Archives: August 2017

Evangelism

Recently, as I was reading Romans chapter 10, I was awed by the wonderful love that is expressed in its verses. The first word of the chapter is the word ‘brethren’ so we know it is addressed to people who understood who Christ is/was. However, the chapter is about more than the believer. It is about evangelism or the ‘good news’ about Jesus Christ and what that news can mean to all people both Judean and Gentile.

Too often we think of evangelism as a call to the altar, or reciting a prayer that brings us into submission to Christ by confessing how awful we’ve been. Maybe some of that happens, but the real understanding is in Romans 10:9-10:

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine  that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

10 For with the  man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10

This is not formulaic, it is gorgeously gracious! The word ‘confess’ is the greek word ‘homologia’. One doesn’t have to be a Greek scholar to see the two sub-words: homo (same type) and logos (the word). It means to say the same word. It involves believing to be able to say the same thing.  To treat it formulaically is a disservice and often a deterrent.  It is not in confessing sin. Anyone can confess sin. People even brag about sin. Making Jesus Christ Lord is something else. To make Jesus Lord in your life involves understanding why and who he is and committing to follow him. It is not something someone decides emotionally or on the spur of the moment. Faith (trust) is built by listening to the reports about God. (Romans 10:17).  How does God get the attention of people to hear attentively? The answer is simple: by love.

In Romans, Israel and the Gentiles are both referred to. To the Judeans, God had written:

10 Brethren, my ‘s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved (delivered those things that harm). Romans 10:1

To the Gentiles God had Paul write:

12 For there is no difference between the Jew(Judean) and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:12-13

To call on God in the name of the Lord indicates a trust (faith). We love God because he first loved us (1John 4:19). How does that trust develop?  To really understand and substantiate the depth of that love we need to look at the Word of God.

16 For God so lved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. John 3:16-17

The focus on sin that is perpetrated by many religious people is the wrong focus.  Sin consciousness pulls people in into the darker reaches rather than toward God. The whole idea of repentance (metanoia) is to change one’s mind about God. Isn’t that what ‘reconciliation’ is about? Many religious people define it as ‘turning from sin’ but that is not the primary meaning of the word. Guilt and shame are not part of the definition. It is about being invited into a dynamic, loving relationship.

In John 8, there is a record of a woman taken by the pharisees and scribes and they wanted to stone her and catch Jesus as to how he would handle it. Would he stone her, have an altar call and have her confess her sins? The pharisees, as with many religious pontificators, were going for the sin jugular. Jesus handled the whole scene beautifully (read it! John 8:1-11). To the woman he simply said to go and sin no more. The choice was hers.

True evangelism is bringing the ‘good news’ to people. because that is what God is all about. I’ve met many people who are afraid of God because they have been taught inaccurately about God, his word, his son and the gift of holy spirit. Sin is missing the the boat. You can’t enjoy the sail if you are not onboard.

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Why Holy Spirit?

9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. I Corinthians 2:9-10

‘But as it is written’ at the beginning of verse 9 refers to Isaiah 64:4:

4 For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him. Isaiah 64:4

This reference to Isaiah in the Old Testament  has an addition in the New Testament.  Unde the New Testament God has revealed things to us through the spirit. In the Old Testament, Christ had not come yet. Under the Old Covenant, things of God were revealed to certain men that led God’s people. People depended on their leaders to hear from God.

The day of Pentecost back in Biblical times, just 50 days after Christ’s ascension, was a turning point for everyone who loves God.  God is spirit and he communicates thru the spirit. The gift of holy spirit was poured out initially on that day and continues today. It is available to anyone who believes Jesus Christ is Lord and also believes that God raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9-10). Salvation is way more than a ‘get out of hell free card’, so much more. Salvation, or wholeness, is a very big category and involves wholeness in body, soul and spirit. Spirit is a big deal!

Why was the gift of holy spirit given? What does it mean for us? If you read I Corinthians 12:7-11 we can read about the utilization and profits of the gift we have within:

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one (referring to profit) is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally (personally) as he will. I Corinthians 12:7-11

In verse 7,  the word ‘manifestation’ is used, not ‘gift’.  ‘Manifestation’ (singular) refers what is evidenced as a result of utilization of the gift.  God’s wisdom, God’s knowledge, God’s ability to discern between what’s good and what’s not good are just a few things someone with holy spirit has access to. These operational skills or abilities are given by God’s grace for both individual and community profit. We can’t see the gift, but we can see evidence of the gift in operation. The holy spirit in the individual lives of the believers is a radicle change!

There are other effects of the internal reality of holy spirit in a believer’s life such as the fruit that is produced because of the spirit of God in our hearts. We grow as we recognize God working in our lives:

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.Galatians 5:22-23

The spirit does not control, the spirit gives power to and blesses the individual.By utilizing the gift, people not only can do great things, but they can also grow in Christ-like qualities. As people grow they then have something to share with each other.  They share both the fruit and the power of the spirit. The end result is that people praise God, share the grace, and the glory of our great God shines brightly.

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