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Archive for the ‘Evangelism’ Category

I woke up early today (6 AM) and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to start the day early. Part of that early start was some devotional reading though 2 Thessalonians. Very interesting letter, to be sure.

Saint Paul of Tarsus

One interesting part is that Paul boldly asserts what many Christians simply do not believe: “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:13-14). Both classical Arminianism and historic Semi-Pelagianism (in different ways) assert that God chooses us because we choose him. Paul (as we shall see, contrasting the believers with the ungodly Gospel deniers of Thessaloniki) artlessly asserts that God chose the Thessalonian Christians. At this point, I pause to wait for all the yeahbuts… (more…)

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Heidelberg Catechism #42

Q: Since Christ has died for us, why do we still have to die?

A: Our death does not pay the debt of our sins. Rather, it puts an end to our sinning and is our entrance into eternal life.

Theological: Christians still die… why? First thing is that Christ has transformed EVERYTHING for Christians. Death is something. Ergo, Christ has transformed death for Christians. Death, for the Christian, might be unknown, and, to that degree, might be scary. Death is not, however, a punishment for the Christian. Death IS a punishment for those outside of Christ. One gets the impression that death for the Christian (that is, when it actually happens) is actually a pleasure. Without doubt, it’s certainly a portal to eternal pleasure. After all, at Yahweh’s right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps 16:11).  Death is an entrance into those pleasures. The saint will live in those pleasures until the resurrection, when those pleasures will be perfected. Similarly (or maybe conversely), for those outside of Christ, death is punishment and an entrance into eternal punishment, which will be perfected at the resurrection. Christ has removed the sting of death (1 Cor 15), but not its use as a major point of transition.

Practical: You know, everyone’s gotta die… at least for the most part. There will be one generation that doesn’t have to, but, aside from them, we all face death. Steve Job’s comments about death are interesting, but seem flat when compared with eternal joys or punishment. You can see Steve’s full speech here. People outside of Christ should be horrified by death. Typically they are. Sometimes, however, they are act as if they don’t care, or that it doesn’t bother them. These folks are either simply lying (to themselves and/or to others) or are deluded. Death, therefore, is an evangelistic tool… use it. Preach it. Speak about it. If folks accuse you of being morbid, tell them you only speak of death in order to draw attention to the eternal life found only in Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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I’ve been teaching through church history in the adult Sunday school class (on and off) at the Olympia Bible Presbyterian Church now since 2008. We’re up into the 20th century and recently have examined the origins and development of Pentecostalism. Now, I’m not a Pentecostal, nor am I charismatic (save for my everybody-simply-MUST-love-me personality), but I have a good deal of respect for Pentecostalism, along with a good deal of problems with the same. This little article is a sketch of the origins and development of the Pentecostal movement, a movement so vibrant and diverse as to defy classification… but here goes.

Pentecostalism (along with its slightly older brother, the Holiness movement) comes out of Methodism, which is derived largely (though certainly not completely) from the labors of John Wesley. Wesley taught a doctrine of perfectionism, which was promoted by the Methodists. In the mid-18th century, there was a revival of interest (largely in Methodist circles) in the teaching of perfectionism. This revival of interest (along with the Welsh Revivals of 1904-5) led to the Azusa Street Revival, which began in 1906. This revival was full of miracles, signs, tongue speaking, and (maybe most scandalous of all) inter-racial mingling! Azusa Street was a massive springboard for Pentecostalism, which would soon (barely hyperbolically) take over the world.

What came out of Azusa Street was to be called “Pentecostalism,” which was quite distinct from the Holiness movement. (more…)

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I want to post a short one (you be the judge!) on how different views of God’s sovereignty in salvation can lead to vastly different methods of evangelism. I have spent some energy to show that divine sovereignty forms the basis for evangelism. Again, that’s not to say that folks who deny the absolute and extensive sovereignty of God cannot or do not evangelize. They can and do, but their thinking about it gets messed up. Messed up thinking can and has led to some very unfortunate methods of “saving souls.”

George Whitefield

First, let’s think about how a Reformed evangelist thinks about his task. He knows that his job is to be faithful. He is a herald. He has faithfully to proclaim what’s been given him to proclaim. It’s his job to make clear what God’s given him to proclaim. He knows that God’s chosen this foolish means (preaching the gospel) to redeem sinners. He trusts in God and in him alone to convert sinners from death to life, and he trusts God to do that through the faithful preaching of his gospel. One sows, another waters, but God gives the increase. Thus, the evangelists is called to sow and trust God with the results. This does not mean that he approaches his task with stoic dispassion. Anyone who knows anything about this history of Reformed evangelism knows that the Reformed have been some of the greatest and most passionate evangelists. The names of (more…)

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Benny Hinn and His Hair

Having begun to give some definition and clarification to our discussion of evangelism, I hope to progress in this post to show how the biblical notion of absolute and extensive divine sovereignty is fundamental to biblical evangelism. This is NOT to say that folks who aren’t high Calvinists (e.g., those pictured) cannot evangelize – by God’s grace, they can and do. This is to say, however, that they’re not thinking about evangelism correctly (read: biblically). If men are not thinking biblically, they will eventually begin to act unbiblically, too. In a future post, I hope to show how exactly this has happened in evangelistic efforts. For now, I hope to show how divine sovereignty forms the basis for evangelism.

Let’s just cut to the chase and lose half of my readers (all seven of them!) right off the bat. Here’s a biblical articulation of the sovereignty of God: He “works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Eph 1:11). God doesn’t work a few things, some things, or even most things according to his will. He works ALL things according to his will. Any concept of divine sovereignty that denies its absolute extensiveness is a concept that’s sub-biblical. Now, it necessarily follows from this that God works both the salvation and damnation of men according to his own will. While this is a logical conclusion, God has not left us to arrive at it by logic alone. In the Scripture God specifically says (more…)

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