Christianity, Evangelism, God, Uncategorized

Reflecting on What the Lord Has Done

I had planned on reading John and Acts today, but as I was reading through John, I couldn’t get past the end of chapter three. It was like the Lord prompting me to tarry over this part of Scripture. Here’s the section He highlighted:

He who comes from above is above all, and he who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth. He who come from heaven is above all. What He has seen and heard, of that He bears witness; and no man receives His witness. He who has received His witness has set his seal to this, that God is true. For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:31-36, NASB).

Join me and let’s take a look at this more closely.

He who comes from above is above all.” When I thought about this, I was reminded of another passage of Scripture: “To whom will you liken Me that I should be his equal” says the Holy One (Isaiah 40:25, NASB). The One who comes from above is truly above all, and there is nothing we can compare to Him. His name is above every name, and every knee will bow to Him one day. Jesus once asked His disciples who people said He was. When we compare what the disciples said with the Isaiah passage, we realize how far off people really were. Jesus isn’t just some prophet or one “spiritual master” among many, as if someone could be like Him. Don’t let anyone tell you there is someone like Jesus. The Holy One is beyond comparison, and no one is His equal.

He who is of the earth is from the earth and speaks of the earth.” We can see how different we are from the One who comes from above here. We are of the earth, created beings who have fallen from a state of perfection. After the Fall, our nature has lost its spiritual characteristics and became natural (also referred to as the flesh), and so we now think and act as those from the earth. Our life resembles the lyrics from a Harry Chapin song:

“My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, dad”
“You know I’m gonna be like you.”

(Chapin, 1974, track 1)

We are concerned about the things of the world, and looking for fulfillment, but not finding it on earth. We have lost our ability to hear and receive spiritual things.

What He has seen and heard, of that He bears witness; and no man receives His witness.” When Jesus told Nicodemus that a person must be born again, he couldn’t understand how that could be. After all, “How can a man be born when he is old? He cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can he?” (John 3: 4, NASB). Nicodemus couldn’t understand that the children of God are not born according to the flesh, but according to the will of God. He couldn’t receive what Jesus was saying. Now you can see why after Jesus would speak to the people, He would say “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Not everyone can receive what He says.

He who has received His witness has set his seal to this, that God is true.” When I read this, I felt led to look up the definition of seal. The definition that stood out to me was this: “Something that confirms, ratifies, or makes secure: Guarantee, assurance” (Seal def). The one who receives Jesus’ witness has confirmed, ratified, or made secure the fact that God is true! This is good, but it leads to a conundrum. If we cannot receive the things of God in our natural nature, then we will not understand how we have sinned against God, and we will not be able to come to a place of repentance. It would seem we are lost were it not for this one fact: He is the God of the impossible!

For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for He gives the Spirit without measure.” In our natural self, we cannot receive the things of God as Paul reminds us in 1 Cor 2:14, but God has given all things into Jesus’ hands, and He has all authority. When God gives the Spirit without measure, it means Jesus’ has been given limitless power to reach the heart of the lost. His arm is not shortened that it cannot save! He intervenes in His great power and makes it possible for that lost soul to receive His word so they can repent. Without that intervention, it would be impossible for us to be saved. In conclusion:

The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He who believes the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

If you have not done so yet, please come to the Lord Jesus and receive mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Jesus has used the limitless power of heaven to bring you to a place of repentance. If you will confess your sin, He is faithful and just to forgive all your sin; He will abundantly pardon and make you into a new creation! Come and see that the Lord is good!

Shalom my friends,

Sivan 20, 5778

Chapin, H. (1974). The cat’s in the cradle. On Verities and Balderdash. Elektra

Seal. (2018). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.meriam-webster.com/dictionary/seal

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Apologetics, Christianity, Evangelism, God, religion, Uncategorized

Love The Right Answer

I don’t know when it started exactly, but in my mind I keep hearing the words “love the right answer,” and I would like to share some thoughts with you about this. I think this is related to some online discussions that I have had and observed others participate in. I have been in talks with atheists and skeptics, and I remember that we should “always [be] ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15, NASB). When Peter tells the readers to use “gentleness and reverence,” it means love the right answer.

 

I have seen plenty of exchanges online between believers and unbelievers, and sometimes I have to wonder if believers have forgotten that we need to include gentleness and reverence in our responses. If we start trading insult for insult, and evil for evil, how can we sow the good seed of the word of God? James tells us “And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (3:18, NASB), and the Lord tells us “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matt 5: 9, NASB). Being quarrelsome is like Peter taking his eyes of the Lord as he walked on the water. It doesn’t work. Love the right answer, and do your sowing in peace.

 

Loving the right answer must include the right response, even if it is something you would rather not do. I will take a page from my own life to show what I mean. When you have a family member that you love and want to spend time with, but their response is indifference and apathy, it can be a source of frustration and contention. It is natural that when you love someone, you want to be loved back, and if this doesn’t happen over a long period of time, it can be a terrible experience. I thought about this in connection to loving the right answer, and this came to mind: “if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5: 46-48, NASB). The right answer is to continue to love, even when that love is not returned. There will always be whispers from the tempter to give up and leave for greener pastures, but it is better to love the right answer, do the right thing, and stay true. You love the right answer when you do the right thing.

 

When we love the right answer, we are fair to everyone, even those who are in opposition. It can be easy to be unfair, when emotions are hot and strong, or when a group of people are despised by society (as tax collectors in Jesus’ day). The Bible tells us about the importance of fairness when we read “A just balance and scales belong to the LORD; all the weights of the bag are His concern” (Proverbs 16:11, NASB). In apologetics, it means we must evaluate the arguments of those in opposition and represent them fairly. If we misrepresent their arguments or what they say, we are not being fair to them. In that case our balance and scales have become unfair, and that ought not to be. That is the wrong answer, and we should not love it. They may not agree with us, but they should have confidence that we will be fair. There is another application I would like to mention for the readers who may be teachers.

 

I taught first year composition at my university for a season, and whenever it came time to grade assignments, the thought of a just balance and scales would be on my mind. There were some papers in which I really had to struggle for what would be a fair grade, but I wanted each paper to be the product of a just balance and scales, so I would pause, pray, and ask for help in doing the right thing. This is what got me through my grading process, and I hope it will be a benefit to others as well. You love the right answer by being fair.

 

I would like to mention one last thing in closing to the Christian apologist. Make sure that your motives for defending the faith are right. Are you there to win an argument, or are you wanting to win a heart? If you want to win arguments, you may win the battle, but you will lose the war. People don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care. You love the right answer when you love those you are reasoning with.

 

“Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly, it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor 13: 4-8, NASB).
Love the right answer and share it.

 

A prayer:

 

Lord, I realize I cannot do the work of changing hearts. You, and You alone have the power to give them ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand. Help me to decrease so that You may do Your work through me, and the people see You, not me. Have mercy on the people and forgive them. Open their minds to understand the Gospel so they may recover themselves from the snares of the enemy. I pray that they will be fruitful boughs in Your Kingdom, and that they will be worthy to walk with You in robes of white, and to be with You always. Amen.

 

Adar 4, 5778

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Apologetics, Christianity, Evangelism, God, Uncategorized

You Are The Apologist

I have been reading and responding to questions online from skeptics and atheists about God. I have tried to give reasons for the faith that I have, but I want to share something with you to encourage you to unleash your inner “defender of the faith” and change a person’s life forever.

 
I have seen many questions people ask about God and our faith such as: “How did God create everything in six days if science tells us the universe has existed for billions of years?” “Did Jesus really exist?” “How can a good God exist if there is suffering in the world?” “Is evolution real?” “How did life begin?” and so on. When you look at these questions, it can make a person think they must be competent in probability, physics, biology, evolution, astronomy, etc., just to get started. You could weary yourself with reading so many books. The very term “apologetics” can be intimidating to people. I am here to say, you don’t have to feel intimidated. You can still give reasons for your faith without a science background because not all people want answers based in science questions. Sometimes they just need someone to listen to their story, love them, and be Jesus to them.

 
I was recently reminded about the suffering in the world, and the need to bring people who are suffering the Gospel message. It reminded me of a testimony I had heard many years ago, and I never forgot it. It is the story of Margie Mayfield, who was abducted by Stephen Morin in San Antonio, TX. Stephen Morin had already killed several women, and law enforcement was out in force trying to find him. He told Margie if he was cornered by police, there would be a shootout and he would kill himself. He needed reasons for faith, and Margie gave him those reasons. They didn’t talk about difficult science questions but addressed the pain in Stephen’s heart. If God puts someone in your path to give reasons for faith, He will prepare you for it! Please click on the link below and listen for yourself about this amazing testimony in which we see the God of the impossible doing what is impossible. And be encouraged. As you yield to Jesus so He can work through you, you can help someone go from darkness to light and eternal life. You are the apologist.

 
http://withusisgod.org/2009/07/margy-mayfield/

 
Shevat 16, 5778

 

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Christianity, Christmas, God, Uncategorized

And yet I show you a still more excellent way…

Now as they were traveling along, He entered a certain village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord’s word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him, and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10: 38-42, NASB)

 

In a way, we all become like Martha during the Christmas season. It comes with lots of shopping and preparations for guests that will be arriving. When Christmas Eve/Morning finally arrives, everyone rushes to the tree to receive their presents, but this writer would like to ask, is this all there is?

 

The Savior came down from heaven in the form of a man. He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death. And because of His perfect sacrifice, we now have access to the very Throne of God. When we think about these things, one would think that Jesus would be the focus of the entire season, but from this writer’s experience, He only gets a cursory mention (if any mention is made at all) before the wrapping paper starts flying off the presents. Is Jesus really the reason for the season?

 

When we open our presents, what are we really getting? Did Aunt Sally get her nephew a sweater in the right size this time, or did she remember to include the receipt so we can get in the exchange line later? Did your spouse get your subtle hints about what you want, or are they breaking new ground? Whatever is under the tree, it’s all material. It will wear out, go out of fashion, or break and be discarded eventually. Nothing material will ever endure, but that’s what we give each other anyway. As I said in the title, there is a better way.

 

What this writer is asking the readers to consider is doing Christmas, and every day of the year differently after this. Instead of looking to this temporary visible material world for presents, let’s look to the invisible world of the spirit which is eternal. You may say, “but we did a Christmas Eve service already,” but this is far beyond that. You might ask, what can we get from the invisible world of the spirit? Just this: His presence.

 

If Jesus really is the reason for the season, then get out of the shopping line with Martha and sit at the Master’s feet with Mary. Choose to be in His presence instead of focusing on presents. Jesus isn’t impressed that you were able to get your kids the most popular toy for this season, but what moves Him is when He sees the child He died for wanting to be with Him. Aren’t we forgetful hearers if we are focusing on presents when we could be in His presence?

 

I know this is a major paradigm shift, and we don’t do Christmas this way. But this writer feels the time has come to stop giving material things that wear out to receiving eternal things that never fade away. Jesus wants to spend time with you!! If you will decide with your family to come into His presence instead of focusing on presents, the smiles of heaven will be on your family. You have chosen the best part along with Mary, and it shall not be taken away from you.

 

God wants you to go deep with Him, but many people are content to stay in the kiddie pool instead of swimming in the deep waters of His presence. He longs for you to be closer to Him, and to show you great and mighty things you didn’t know. He wants to give you gifts: Peace that passes all understanding, love, joy unspeakable and full of glory, healing, and giving you beauty for ashes. These are found in His presence, and He invites you to join Him.

 

And yet I show you a still more excellent way…choose His presence over presents!

 

Be blessed my friends!

 

Chislev 20, 5777

 

cell-phone-basket

Putting the phones away helps stop distractions when you’re seeking His presence.

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Christianity, current events, God, morality, November 2016 election, politics, religion, Uncategorized

Now That The Election Is Over….

Mr. Trump has been elected to the great relief of many conservatives and Christians, but this is no time to think the battle is over and the work is done. More than ever this is the time the church needs to be in prayer for our President-elect and our nation. Here are some things to keep in prayer:

 

Presidential leadership/appointments

 

President-elect Trump will be at the helm of this nation as it goes through some of the most difficult times it has ever faced. This will require wisdom that is superior to what the world has to offer. Our President-elect will need wisdom from above to do the right thing no matter how much it conflicts with the world’s point of view. Our President-elect will also need strength and perseverance because the forces that will oppose him are strong, they are entrenched, and they aren’t about to just give up and go away. It may be a long and protracted fight, but it’s a fight we cannot afford to lose. We must pray that our President-elect surrounds himself with the right people and has a team that will faithfully stand by him when the battles rage. It’s going to get very hot in the kitchen, and our new President needs people who can handle the heat. I would also urge us to pray that our President-elect will steer a course that God wants us to take. I have heard a lot about “Make America Great Again,” but that will only happen if our priorities align with God’s priorities. I am sorry, but this really isn’t that time to focus on jobs and the economy; it’s time to focus on the repentance and repair the spiritual problems that got us in this mess in the first place. Our President-elect will need godly priorities!

 

Judgment is still coming

 

Judgment may be delayed, but it is still coming; it will begin in the house of God. The church will be shaken like a tree in a strong wind, and what is rotten will fall off. This is the time to get your house in order. Leave the nets behind like Peter did and follow the Lord Yeshua with all your heart. Go in with all your heart without looking back or go home; it’s better to be hot or cold than lukewarm.

 

We must also keep our nation in prayer. The spiritual condition of America is very serious, as evidenced by the election results. Over 60 million voters voted to go in a direction that would make things even worse, so we need to realize we aren’t out of the woods just because this election is over. The reason we have this is because of division. Division has always been a favorite strategy of the enemy, and America is deeply divided. We have deep divisions over God, race, priorities, politics, right and wrong, etc. This isn’t just division in the world, the church has a bad case of division itself. The Adversary loves it when the people of God are fighting each other because it makes it so much easier for him to do his work undisturbed. We get so distracted fighting each other we don’t understand that we have allowed the enemy to set up shop in our midst. Christ is not divided, and so let’s unite against the real enemy of our souls and country and stop fighting among ourselves.

 

We see that in politics Donald Trump’s transition team is already at work in Washington, but the kingdom of God also has a transition team. God has chosen certain vessels who will work to prepare the way for the King of kings! The reign of darkness is coming to an end, and they aren’t about to go away quietly. The darkness knows that its time is short. All of God’s people are supposed to be on this transition team, but for whatever reason, not everyone is making themselves available. Things are also going to heat up spiritually, and this is the time to prepare. That’s what wise people do; they know what’s coming down the road and take appropriate action. If you have choking weeds in your heart, repent and ask God for help so you can be fully focused on His will. Let all other considerations be rescinded so that His will has first place in your heart. The judgment is still coming; will you make yourself available for God’s transition team?

 

This is just a short post and a call to prayer. Judgment begins in the house of God, and America will become great again by humbling herself before God and repenting first. Please pray!

 

Shalom friends!

 

Heshvan 18, 5777

 

 

 

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Christianity, current events, God, religion, Uncategorized

From Rome to Corinth, and Back Again: Reclaiming What Was Taken from Us

“I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd” (John 10: 16, NASB Update)

When Paul wrote to the Roman church, its congregation was composed of Jews and Gentiles. It was no doubt Roman Jews in Jerusalem during Pentecost that carried the Gospel back to Rome and was a factor in starting this church. It would be nice if the Gospel message of unity was in full effect in the Roman church, but there was rivalry between Jews and Gentiles. The birth pangs of division were starting to sprout to be felt, so Paul had to remind the Roman church that “For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him” (Rom 10: 12, NASB Update).

 
If the Roman church was experiencing the birth pangs of division, the Corinthian church had delivered the baby. Paul writes:

For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe’s people, that there are quarrels among you. Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? (1 Cor 1: 11-13, NASB Update)

This persuasion did not come from the Lord or the word of God, but from man-made doctrines that cause division and contention. We still see this division today. If you visit a Baptist church, you find a congregation of Baptists. The same holds true for Methodists, Presbyterians, Pentecostals, etc. Most of the time, the only people who are not of the same persuasion are visitors. But let me ask you this, when was the last time you saw a Jewish believer in your congregation? In all of my days in church, I can honestly say I have never seen it, and this ought not to be.

 
Where are the Jews?

 
After the Holy Spirit filled believers on Pentecost and Peter gave his sermon, the believers returned home taking the word with them, but they only spoke to Jews. Later God gave Peter a revelation about the Gentiles; they were to be fellow heirs of salvation! This was confirmed when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles just like He did in Jerusalem with the Jews (Acts 10: 1-48). God’s will is to tear down the wall between Jew and Gentile and so create one flock, as His word said. Unity is something the Adversary doesn’t like, and soon he was fanning the flames of rivalry between believing Jews and Gentiles. The split became a chasm when church leadership argued that because the Jews rebelled against the Savior and had Him killed, therefore God transferred the covenants and promises from the Jews to the Church; they also changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday to make a clear distinction between Jews and Gentiles. This is part of replacement theology, and it is a sickness that still affects the Church today. It has a terrible legacy; Church leadership used this man-made doctrine to justify persecuting the Jews instead of loving them as the Lord commanded. Martin Luther did try to reconcile the Church with the Jews in his early writings, but later he became anti-Semitic and argued for synagogues to be destroyed and Jewish wealth to be confiscated. His latter writings were so poisonous that they were used by Hitler’s Third Reich to justify the “final solution,” which was the extermination of the Jews. Centuries of oppression and persecution by those who called themselves Christians has caused Jews to turn away the Gospel message. Even mentioning the name of Jesus can provoke a strong reaction with some people.

 
The word of God tells us that there will always be a believing remnant, and so there has always been a believing Jewish remnant: “The Messianic Jews.” I believe what God wants in these last days is to depart from the Corinthian church and its many divisions (Baptists, Pentecostals, Nazarenes, et al.) and again become one flock in which Jews and Gentiles worship the Savior together as they did in Rome (minus the rivalry, of course).

 
What you have been missing

 
Replacement theology has done a lot of damage, one of which was causing the Church to disregard the Feasts of the Lord. It’s been argued that since we are under grace, and not the Law, we don’t need to be concerned about such things. “That would be legalistic” is something I have heard. May I say to you friend, you’ve been misled and missed a great blessing. It’s premature to dismiss the feasts as something we don’t need to worry about anymore. Here’s what I mean.

 
It was written in the Torah that the men of Israel were to assemble in Jerusalem three times a year for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. Two thousand years ago the Jews saw the Passover fulfilled when Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead. On Pentecost the Jews saw Joel’s prophecy fulfilled when the Holy Spirit was poured out on believers. The Feast of Tabernacles has yet to be fulfilled, and one day when the people gather in Jerusalem, the Lord will fulfill it before their eyes just like He did on Passover and Pentecost. Wouldn’t you like to be on hand when that happens? Until the Lord returns, each time the Feast of Tabernacles (or Sukkot) is celebrated, it’s like a dress rehearsal for the real event. With that in mind, here is my recommendation.

 
You are invited!

 
I know this will be short notice for many of you, but I feel it strongly to make you aware of the upcoming holy days. Most of us have never been to these celebrations and they have passed unnoticed, but I hope that will be different after this year because I am inviting you. Rosh Hashanah (New Year) will begin at sundown October 2 and end on the evening of October 4. Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) will begin at sundown on October 11 and end

the sukkah

Celebrating Tabernacles

on the evening of October 12, and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) begins at sundown on October 16 and ends the evening of October 23. I would strongly encourage everyone to find a Messianic congregation and observe these events this year and see what you have been missing out on. These events are part of our heritage as believers, but replacement theology has caused the Church to disregard them. Let’s reclaim them and experience them first hand, and in so doing we help restore the unity of the one flock that the Lord established. If you are able to participate, please share your experience with others (and I would like to hear about it too!). Be blessed!

 

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Rewinding the Torah scroll

Elul 23, 5776

 
“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal 3: 27-28, NASB Update)

 

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Apologetics, Christianity, Evangelism, God, Uncategorized

The Defense Is Ready: Taking The Gospel To The People

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks the reason for your hope. Do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15

Posted on Twitter by @Skylarblue54

Dear friends,

As Christians, we have all encountered people who have wanted to know more about the hope the lies within us at one time or another, so we must be ready in season or out of season to make a defense of the Gospel. As the initial Scripture portion from Peter’s first letter tells us, there is a right way to do this (use gentleness and respect). I write this by way of reminder for those who want to give a defense of the Gospel and are also involved with evangelism. Apologetics and evangelism work in tandem, so I may use the terms interchangeably in this writing. According to Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians, the Gospel is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who believe, it is the power of God (1: 18, also Rom 1: 16). God uses the foolishness of the message preached to save souls, but in order for the Gospel to keep its power, it must be handled correctly.

Think of the Gospel as a medicine. Whenever you get a prescription from your doctor, you can’t just take your medicine any way you please. The doctor gives specific instructions about dosage, how often to take medication, and what things to avoid so you won’t have a drug interaction problem and so that you will get the maximum benefit. The message of evangelism and the work of apologetics are like God’s prescription for the people we minister to; it makes the power of God available for salvation. We are like residents learning under the Great Physician, and so in order to effectively minister to our patients, we must not vary from His instructions. There are some things we should keep in mind.

The Gospel message must be kept pure and complete to keep its power

In the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus identifies Himself as the Bread of Life; He said we must eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to have eternal life. This was a hard saying for many of the disciples, and many of them no longer walked with Him after this (v 66). Jesus didn’t customize the Gospel by telling the audience what they wanted to hear. He was concerned that the people get the whole counsel of God, even if it offended them and caused them to turn away.

 
It is an unfortunate fact that today some people customize the Gospel in order to keep the numbers up. They add or subtract from the Gospel to make it more palatable for the masses. One well-known televangelist has customized the Gospel by never mentioning Hell. He justified this by saying there is enough negativity in the world already without adding “Hell” to it. Others have customized the Gospel by exchanging grace for works, denying Jesus as the only way to the Father, claiming Jesus is really Michael the Archangel, denying that Jesus rose from the dead, etc. People who customize the Gospel covet followers who will seek after them (as well as buy their books, attend their conferences, etc.), not the Lord. This has been going on a long time; even as the ink was drying on Paul’s epistles false brethren were altering and customizing the Gospel:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. (Gal 1: 6-7, NASB)

 
Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a messenger or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has already come. (2 Thess 2: 1-2, NASB)

 
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some of you say there is no resurrection from the dead? (1 Cor 15: 12, NASB)

In order for the Gospel to keep the power God intended it to have, it must be kept pure with no additions or subtractions. Customizing the Gospel creates another gospel, and if God didn’t build it, it won’t save the hearers. Keep the Gospel pure when you defend it and when you evangelize, then the power God intended it to have will flow through it and minister to those in need of a physician; it won’t return void, but will accomplish the will of the Father.

When defending the Gospel, keep it spiritual

As an evangelist/apologist, you will encounter all kinds of people seeking answers about anything under the sun. When unbelievers ask about your faith, it’s very important that you don’t try to persuade them with natural, worldly wisdom. If people don’t believe the testimony of the Scriptures, which has the power to bring salvation, will they be persuaded by a natural argument based on worldly wisdom? If they won’t listen to the spiritual, will the natural persuade them? Of course not. It is written “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside” (1 Cor 1: 19, NASB), so natural means of persuasion have no place here. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God; this means we cannot expect spiritual fruit using worldly methods, which Paul called clever speech (1 Cor 1: 17). If we could persuade people with our own powers of persuasion, we could boast before God about our works, but that cannot be because it’s by His doing that we are in Christ (1 Cor 1: 30). Think about this, did Peter know Jesus was the Son of God because of a clever argument, or because he had a spiritual revelation (Matt 16:16-17)?

Apologists must keep their defense rooted in the spiritual and allow the Holy Spirit to persuade the people and open their eyes; only He can do this. Keep the focus on the Gospel, the whole Gospel, and nothing but the Gospel. You may not be able to answer questions that require specialized knowledge (e.g. evolution, philosophy), but you can talk about the One who gave life to us all.

Love

I have seen many Twitter threads in which a person is talking about matters of faith, but their language is just as coarse and brutal as an unbeliever. That should not be. Can salt water and fresh water be drawn from the same well? Of course not! As we were reminded in 1 Peter 3: 15, we must be respectful and gentle when giving an answer for the hope that lies within us. We must not allow ourselves to get drawn into quarrels and foolish arguments about words and useless speculations that just end up ruining the hearers. If the conversation degenerates into name calling and quarreling, do not trade insult for insult. If you do, you are acting from the natural man and the end of that road isn’t eternal life. Keep the following advice in mind:

And the Lord’s bondservant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will. (2 Tim 2: 24-26, NASB)

 

Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Eph 4: 29, NASB)

 

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God. (Matt 5: 9, NASB)

 

You have heard it said, ‘you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matt 5: 43-45)

Show kindness and the way of love in words and deeds. When love is present in the Gospel presentation/defense, it is the ingredient that sets the Gospel apart from all other narratives. Without love, the Gospel sounds like a clanging symbol and a noisy gong. People won’t care about your faith or what you know unless they know how much you care.

The Great Physician is the one who writes the prescription instructions for how the Gospel is to be administered so it doesn’t lose any of its saltiness or saving power. We are His residents, and we are responsible to administer it to those under our care. If His instructions aren’t followed correctly, the patient won’t respond as well, and their condition will even get worse. Do we want to be like the physicians who tried to help the woman with the issue of blood? Keep the Gospel pure, keep your message spiritual, and show them love.

Elul 18, 5776

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