I don’t know

One of the biggest obstacles to personal evangelism is this question, “What if they ask a question that I don’t know the answer?” The feeling of terror, the strong impulse to say something so as not to appear stupid. What do you do?

Before we proceed, we need to be reminded that none of us are expert at every question that may arise, but take heart, God is, and He has given us everything we need for faith, doctrine, and instruction for how we ought to act. [cf. John 20:30-31; 2Tim 3:16-17]. The following are some suggestions on how to handle a question for which you don’t know the answer.

FIRST; Never let what you don’t know stop you from telling what is certain. If we did that, there’d be no personal evangelism whatsoever. Our efforts will become more productive as we mature, but we’ll never mature if we don’t put what we know into practice.

One way to look at a hard question is as an opportunity to learn and to grow. You may not be able to answer it this time, but you’ll be ready the next. [Heb 5:12].

SECOND: When asked a question for which you don’t know, resist the temptation to make one up. That’s much more dangerous for it may pass along error. Silence is a much better answer than giving a bad one. Look at Job’s friends, they were in a much better position when they said nothing at all. If you are asked and you don’t know just say, “I don’t know.” What’s better, not giving any answer or giving a bad one and needing to go back to the person for correction? Here are 3 things you can say instead of making up a wrong answer:

  • Compliment them: Say, “That’s a great question, I don’t know.” This will make the person feel like you’re really listening and respect them. Admitting that you’re human demonstrates humility, a most valuable attitude as we go about teaching others.
  • Ask for more information: By asking them to clarify the question you may discover that you do know the answer, or it will give you clarity as some people ask a question seeking direction for a different underlying issue.
  • Ask if you & they could look up the answer together: By doing this, you show them how much you value the truth and that you’re willing to learn. This also affords you an opportunity for another study. Here’s a tip from my experience, SET A DATE & TIME for when you will come back together to discuss the answer. Otherwise, you may never have the chance again.
Here’s how this might sound;

“That’s a great question, you may be the first person to ever ask me that question. I have no idea what the answer might be, but you’ve piqued my curiosity. I don’t know the answer, but I know who does, God and He’s written so many answers to our questions in the bible [2Pet 1:1-4]. Why don’t we write this question down and study it? Then we can meet again, same time next week over coffee, to see what we can learn?”

Following are some helpful ideas about this situation;

Not knowing the answer is not a problem, it’s awareness and an opportunity. None of us knows everything and people dig deep to try to stump us. See it as an opportunity for more personal study and a way to set up a regular home bible study with this person. Here are 2 more considerations:

  • This may be a topic you’ve never considered and now see why others are struggling with coming to the knowledge of the truth.
  • Hard questions sometimes show us how folks are thinking about things that other underlying issues, ie Authority, how God communicates, defining words biblically etc.

The ramifications of faking an answer can be devastating. You may be wrong and teach a lie. Your friend may see through it and not trust you for any spiritual advice. Lastly, they may see it as an attempt at hiding something which never helps at developing trust.

May all our connections lead to more finding & obeying the truth, just like God wants [2Pet 3:9].

Spencer

5 Times People Think about God

There’s a song in our hymnal called, “You never mentioned Him to me.” It’s a very sobering song that asks you to think about the judgment day when you and everyone you know are present before the Lord [Mat 25:32]. Imagine on that day that you catch a glimpse of a loved one who is hearing, “depart from me…” [Mat 7:21-23] and they look over at you mouthing the words, “why didn’t you warn me?” I don’t know if we’ll be looking at one another or if when we all bow [Rom 14:11] our eyes will be averted. All I know is that there’s great pain to hear of a loved one who passes from this life outside of Christ.

It seems these days that very few folks are thinking about God. This makes it very difficult to mention Him to them. I have noticed, however, that there are a few moments in a person’s life that they are more open to hearing things about Christ. Moments of change in their life. While anytime is a good time to mention Jesus, I’ve discovered 5 times when folks may be more open to hearing of the Love of Christ.

DEATH: Long ago I met an aged lady who began her journey to Christ upon the death of her firstborn child. She sought the counsel of her denomination for answers, but none were found. She pressed on, seeking the truth, until she met a gospel preacher who showed her in scripture the safe condition of her child. In that search she learned about Bible authority verses the false words of men.

“It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart.” [Ecc 7:2].

MARRIAGE ISSUES: Whether it’s getting married or trying to stay married, couples will be open to godly strategies for their marriage. Many times, it will be the wife that will seek God’s advice first. Peter offers her this advice: “While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.” [1Pet 3:1-6] He continues with advice for the husband, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge…” [v7a]

ILLNESS or INJURY: God expended a lot of ink about the sick. We’re to visit the sick [Mat 25:36; Jas 5:14]. When it’s a particularly nasty illness, some treat it as a near death experience and begin to ponder their eternity. We can be their for them with a meal or a comforting voice.

CHILDREN: Kids can be a challenge in these times. (I suppose every generation of parents said something similar) As Christians, we can be an example to our friends & neighbors as we raise our children and especially when we’re practicing godly discipline. “Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence:” [Heb 12:9] You would be amazed by the positive responses from folks as they watch you train your wild child.

MAJOR CHANGES: This last category of life events involve non-health related but dramatic changes in a person’s life. It could be moving, a new job, or some other occasion that draws folks together. This is a great time to be the neighbor that Jesus described when asked the question, “who is my neighbor?” [Luke 10:29-37]. One of the most powerfully connecting things one family can do for another is to help them move or to help in picking up the pieces after a storm.

This only touches the tip of the iceberg of the ways you can be ready to preach Christ. One final way is in how you manage your own rough patch. This is the context of 1Pet 3:15;

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

The way in which we react to the struggles in our lives has a very powerful impact on others. Our hope on display is what draws our friends & neighbors to ask why. A perfect time to tell them about Christ.

We must prepare ourselves to have mercy, compassion & grace for these moments.

WHY MEMORIZE BIBLE VERSES? Part 1

 

Years ago, a young Christian was facing a choice. He could either take the lengthy final examination for his theology class or quote Hebrews. Not quote a few verses of Hebrews, no sir, he needed to quote the ENTIRE BOOK of HEBREWS. [13 chapters & 303 verses].

He chose the latter and quoted the entire book from memory. An astounding mental feat to be sure, but is memorization even necessary? We have smart phones apps and google that can return to us any inquiry of the bible we want. That is, if you know what you’re looking for.

Therein lies the rub, to get any benefit out of God’s word, you need to know what’s in it. Here are 8 reasons why we should commit to a bible memorization plan.

1: DEFENSE FROM SIN. An integral part of our defense against sin is the Armor of God [Eph 6:10-20]. The Sword of the Spirit is the Word of God, the active piece that serves for both defense & offense. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” [Psalm 119:11]

2: HELP IN TIME OF NEED. God gave His children the avenue of prayer to give us help in our time of need [Heb 4:16], but how would you know that without study? Additionally, when a sudden problem arises, we most frequently utter some form of profanity. Wouldn’t it be better to immediately draw into our conscious mind a piece of God’s word to counter the negatives we all face in everyday life? Memorizing Bible passages can give us an inventory of alternative utterances to the worldly expressions. Oh, and stop pretending that a euphemism is a cleaner alternative to the real cuss word, we know what you’re saying. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” [Phil 4:8]

3: AS A BIBLE STUDY AID. As you begin to read & study your Bible you may find it difficult to understand. However, a person that commits to memorization will find that the Bible will become clearer as you connect the stories, especially the connections between the Old & New Testaments. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” [Romans 15:4].

Since the Word of God shall also be present at the judgement, a thorough understanding of it would be helpful. “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” [John 12:48]

4: FEAR of EVANGELISM. Let’s admit it, we’ve all experienced fear whenever an opportunity arose to share the Gospel. Bible memorization can alleviate that fear. Inherent in the verse; “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Peter 3:15] is the idea of memorization. We know what is right, but could we prove it to them? Memorization is a great way to build your confidence in directing another through the scriptures as you show them the plan of God’s Salvation.

One fellow said to me, “I have John 3:16 and that’s all I need.” The extent of his bible memory plan was one verse! Others have committed to memorize “Jesus Wept” but have no idea where to find it. [John 11:35] Another person half quoted 1Peter 3:21 in an attempt to disqualify baptism. Because he didn’t know what it really said nor where it was located, he had a false belief that will leave him lost. “The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:”

Next week we’ll look at 4 more good reasons to commit to a Bible Memorization Plan.

Click Here for a good place to start memorizing Bible Verses.

The Tears of Jesus

It matters naught where one lives, in what culture or what era, tears and laughter are a universal language of the world.

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ shed tears for the very same reasons as we. The THREE accounts of our Lord’s weeping are representative of life.

HE WEPT FOR THE SORROW OF OTHERS…

The first account is found as Jesus approached the tomb of Lazarus and found his family weeping.

When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping who came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They say unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept.” [John 11:33-35]

Jesus’ weeping was much more than sympathy, He had empathy for their loss, He felt as we feel. [Heb 4:15]

HE WEPT OVER JERUSALEM AND THEIR MISSED OPPORTUNITY…

The next scene occurs as Jesus approaches Jerusalem the week of His crucifixion.

And when he drew nigh, he saw the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. For the days shall come upon thee, when thine enemies shall cast up a bank about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side,  and shall dash thee to the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation.” [Luke 19:41-44]

It’s from this scene that we notice His sorrow for those who have wasted the most important opportunity of their lives, believing and obeying God’s sacrifice for our sins [John 1:29].

IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE…

The final scene is on the night of His betrayal that would result in His unjust conviction, scourging and crucifixion on a cruel cross.

And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became as it were great drops of blood falling down upon the ground” [Lu 22:44; cr. Heb 5:7].

The context of His tears is for the battle He was about to face as He shed His own blood for our sins. It’s hard to imagine what He endured, for He was keenly aware of things before they happened. We face battles as they come, and only know the difficulties after the fact.

WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM HIS TEARS?

The scenes of His tears can teach us about CONCERN. How concerned are we for the THREE biggest tragedies in a person’s life?

  • The sorrow of a deceased family member (for those not in Christ cr. 1Thess 4:18)? The reality that many a loved one has died outside of Christ compels me all the more.
  • The sorrow for those who have spurned the Gospel, or for our wasted opportunities to preach Christ? If you believe the first pain, this second one hurts nearly just as much. May someone’s rejection never be because of my failures.
  • The deep concern in prayer each night knowing that we MUST fight the Good fight of faith but realizing that the message will be rejected by most and we’ll be persecuted by many. Never allow the possibility of persecution prevent the preaching of Christ.

In the scene at Lazarus’ tomb, the witnesses said, “Behold how he loved him!” They saw how much our Lord loved him, and we know that He loves us. [cr. Jno. 3:16; Rom 5:8; 1Jno. 4:9]

You see, the weeping of Jesus demonstrates to us His concern for our soul, and if we’re to be like Him, we should be just as concerned for the souls of others.

This concern, our tears, will be seen by those we’re trying to reach. Perhaps a few more tears shed will win a few more to Christ.

Are Prayers for Vegas insufficient?

As were all of you, I was horrified to awaken to the news of the ‘deadliest mass murder in US history.’ We were shocked and we grieved. Then we became angry as those who, ‘never let a serious crisis go to waste’ began the politicization of tragedy. Of course, many of us also prayed. Our thoughts and prayers went out to those affected (one of whom is the granddaughter of one of our own who hid under a table during the rain of gunfire).

With so many thoughts swirling through my mind, and so many arguments being presented, I didn’t know where to begin. But then, a national late-night talk show host said this, “your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient.” There it was, the tired argument that often surfaces after a tragedy, just framed with different words. It’s as if to say, “where is your God?”

This argument is not new, David wrote in the 42nd Psalm, “As with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where is thy God?” This argument is offered as proof from unbelievers that God is feckless at best and nonexistent at worst. That the wisdom of man is superior to that of God.

“Your thoughts and your prayers are insufficient”

The pure arrogance of this statement. How did he come to that conclusion? Does he have the mind of God? Can this comedian declare the end from the beginning [Isa 46:10]? How did his thoughts become worthier than those of the Almighty?

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” [Isaiah 55:9]

Prayer is essential

Our God is very clear on this matter, He wants us to pray, but He commands us to pray within His revealed will. For many, prayer is nothing more that the rubbing of a magic lamp so the powerful Genie will grant their wishes, this is NOT prayer. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [James 4:3]

We are to pray

  • According to His will [Matt 6:10; 26:42] which would require us to learn of His will.
  • In faith, without wavering, [James 1:6].
  • Not to eliminate problems, but for strength to endure them, [Acts 4:29; Eph 6:19].
  • For our leaders, “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life” [1Tim 2:1-8]
  • That the word of God may have free course, [2Thess 3:1; Col 4:3]

In a sense, prayer is not enough

…if not followed up by our own obedience. James wrote, “And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” [James 2:16] We are to act, but what kind, for what purpose? The context of the James passage is not benevolence, though individual benevolence is a command. The main context is SALVATION. Note verse 14, “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?”

In all the above passages, there is a connection between prayer and the spreading of the Gospel. The enemies of God want the opposite, hence their mocking, “where is thy God?” So often during tragedy, folks begin to ponder their own future [Ecc 7:2].  Now IS THE TIME TO ACT, it’s the time to lead people to the Love of God found in Christ Jesus. Acting as lights of the world, we need to shine that light into this dark world with the truth of God’s word, the truth of salvation and the truth about Heaven.

Why is there so much evil?

I would be remiss if I failed to remind you of the answer. FIRST, there is no such thing as evil if there is no God. Do we call animal behavior of death evil when the roaring lion kills the infant water buffalo? We are more than animals, we have free will, which brings us to the SECOND answer. Free will has been given to us from God. He wants us to love, but with the ability to love, we can also hate. Without free will, choice, we cannot love. From where do wars, murders and fighting arise? They come from our worldly desires…

“From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” [James 4:1-6]

But James reminds us of the solution

“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” [7-10]

In other words, the answer to evil is turning to God. Isn’t that accomplished through evangelism? “How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Rom 10:14]

-Spencer

What is the key to effective evangelism?

IS THERE A ONE WORD ANSWER to getting more bible studies? The key to evangelism is not probing, listening, preaching, talking, assessing, pain, and especially not manipulating. The key that opens the heart is HARMONIZING.

But you’d never know that from most or our actions. Evangelism is about understanding the other person and their needs. Their fears. Their desires. And their sense of need for the Gospel. People have different motives to respond, and it’s the evangelist’s job to uncover them – and harmonize with them.

REALITY: No two opportunities are alike.

We must adapt to uncover the motives and objectives, understand the opportunities and barriers, meet the needs and desires, and harmonize with the person and the personality. This is the point Paul was making in 1Corinthians 9…

For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]

Ever since becoming a Christian, I’ve searched for magic verses, those one or two passages that answer every error. I’ve collected tracts with hopes that these one sheet papers could somehow win souls without much difficulty or controversy. And I’ve tried different methods & systems designed to lead people to obey the Gospel. Unfortunately, there’s no “one size fits all” tract, verse or method. It’s not that these can’t work, rather that they don’t always work. What I’ve found is that I focused too much on getting through the material rather than focusing on and HARMONIZING with the individual. One instance, a person had asked a specific question, though I knew the answer was much deeper, they couldn’t hear it. I never heard from them again.

No one tract, verse or method will work all the time — BUT specific elements of any may apply. I’m NOT saying don’t learn the tract, verse or method — all Bible knowledge is valuable. What I am saying is be yourself, not the method.

REALITY: People don’t always respond the way you expect or hope.

Here are some more clues:

  • The more we believe in Christ, the Scriptures, and yourself, the more opportunities you’ll have. [Romans 8:35-39 …height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.]
  • The more care we show toward others, the more people will come to know, respect us, and listen to us. [1Corinthians 9:19-23]
  • The more we follow up and follow through, the more growth God will provide. [1Corinthians 3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.]
  • The more we study, the more we will know how to react to any situation. [2Timothy 2:15-16 Study to show thyself approved unto God]
  • The more we harmonize with the person’s situation, and offer answers they can apply — answers they perceive as truth, the MORE CONVERSIONS. [Acts 18:28 ‘Apollos’…showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.]

Always Keep this in mind. We are all EVANGELISTS, and people are expecting us to ask for a change. Don’t disappoint them. Just remember that God gives the increase and it’s our duty to serve Him. When people see that in us, they will be more likely to respond.

As mature Christians, our job is to identify with the person and take what we’ve learned in the Scriptures to lead them to the truth about Christ, which is the only true motivation that leads to conversion. Without a conversion to Christ, there is no conversion.

Harmony is understanding, not manipulating. It’s sensing the tone of the situation, and comfort level of the person — And gives them enough trust to hear.

Even though I haven’t found the perfect “system of evangelism,” I am still searching for “the best way” to teach. And what I have discovered along the way are elements, mostly personal (non-manipulative), that when mastered will create an atmosphere where people will listen to the Word.

Here are four elements to master in acrostic form, when mastered, are the surest (and shortest) formula to long term success. A.M.E.N. These have nothing to do with systems, manipulation, or pressure. These words, elements, and characteristics create harmony.

  • ATTITUDE – a positive & joyful countenance. [1Peter 3:15]
  • MEANING – Having a firm understanding of what you are saying and what you are affirming. [1Timothy 1:7; Hebrews 5:12] “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God” [1Peter 4:11].
  • EMPATHY – Love is kind…does not envy…does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; [1Corinthians 13:4-6]
  • NECESSARY – Realize that without evangelism, neither you, I nor anyone else can be saved and that it’s necessary for our own salvation as we seek to obey Christ. [Matt 28:18-20; Romans 10:13-17]

Every evangelist I have ever met wants to have more meaningful studies — and the best way to do that is to never manipulate. Manipulation makes people defensive, reluctant, and distrustful. Mastering these elements will make people attracted to you, like you, trust you, believe you, have confidence in you — and then — study with you.

A Sower Went Out to Sow

A SOWER WENT OUT TO SOW: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit an hundredfold. And when he had said these things, he cried, He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. And his disciples asked him, saying, What might this parable be? Luke 8:5-9

This parable, as told by our Lord and Master, teaches us about the difficulties of spreading the Gospel. In His explanation [Luke 8:11-15] He shows us that we have good seed, which is the word of God, and that the only failure that occurs in spreading the gospel is on the part of the sower or the receiver, God’s word never fails [Isa 55:11].

There are only 2 reasons why someone rejects the Gospel, you or them. They are responsible for the rejection of the Gospel due to the lack of a good & honest heart [Luke 8:15], or because they do not have a love for the truth.

And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [2Thess. 2:10]

We fail the master for the same reason, a lack of love for the Word of God. When we obeyed the Gospel, confessing that Jesus was the Christ, we committed ourselves to His service as lights of the world [Mat 5:14]. Therefore, when He said, “go” we said “ok” [Mat 28:18-20]. When we don’t, we become like the son who disobeyed his Father [Mt 21:30].

Here’s where the lack of love comes in, Jesus said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” [Mat 22:37]. He also said, “if ye love me, keep my commandments” [John 14:15]. Love is exemplified in our obedience toward Him. Which command of God shall we omit? Jesus went on to say, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” What better way to demonstrate our love toward a Borger neighbor than to share with them the soul saving Gospel message? There are several ways we can share the Gospel with those closest to us…

ONE, we can show it by acting like Christians every day. This was the case with a woman who had an unbelieving spouse; “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” [1Peter 3:1-2]. When we take an honest look at our behavior and attitudes, will we find that extra special difference from the world? Do we have an above average positive attitude, an above average speech, an above average hope, an above average kindness, an above average show of love, an above average level of service? Rather, and I’m no exception, our daily “conversation” would hardly win anyone.

TWO, we can share the Gospel through our love for each other. “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” [John 13:35]. We are like any family, we have disagreements from time to time, but that doesn’t mean we stop loving one another or treat each other poorly. Folks are watching us and judging us by the way we treat each other. If we’re having trouble with loving each other, then pray for them. It’s hard to keep hatred in your heart when you pray for them.

THIRD, we can talk about the Gospel with others directly. This requires an intentional mindset toward spreading the Gospel. With enough practice we can turn nearly any conversation toward spiritual things [Acts 8:35]. Of course, not everyone cares for these kinds of conversation, in those cases just remember Matthew 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” Do you WANT others to hear the Gospel and obey it? If we want eternal life bad enough, then we can’t help but have the Gospel burst forth from us. “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:38

FOURTH, we can help others in their evangelism efforts. Some folks are really good at starting Bible studies or inviting to services. Your part may be in being the hospitable host or hostess. Perhaps you can help a young mom with her fussy child, allowing her to concentrate on the study. Paul described this kind of evangelism in 1Corinthians 9:19-23. “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.” As in the previous point, we have to WANT it bad enough.

FIFTH, we can refer interested parties to other members more experienced in leading a study. A new convert friend of mine is really good at generating contacts, but has yet acquired the skills to lead a study. One day he shall, but for now he is invaluable in making contacts. Cornelius, as well as Lydia & the Philippian Jailor, referred their entire families to those who could teach the Gospel. [Acts 10:33; 16:15, 32]. We can give our friends and family study material. We have tracts or books or we can pass out the Ready reference of Bible topics bookmark. You can even pass along the weekly bulletin.

LASTLY, we can evangelize through our own joy in the midst of all our sorrows and pains of life. This is the meaning of 1Peter 3:15; “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” As Christians, if Heaven awaits us, we can endure even the most difficult of lives. That’s how Job got through the worst tragedy of life, the loss of a child. When people see our struggles, but at the same time see us remain hopeful, they’re going to ask why. Sorrows are key moments in a person’s life and if we can’t trust in the Lord, why would anyone want to know about Him.

3 step method for Overcoming Discouragement

THERE ARE MANY reasons why we become discouraged.

Life is Difficult. Job faced this more than any other person. Problem after problem after problem just kept coming upon him and he didn’t know why [Job 1-2]. Let’s face it, life is hard and it’s dangerous. We face the loss of jobs, or stuff through things outside of our control. Sometimes tragedy strikes us with the loss of a friend or family in death.

Life’s challenges appear too big. This seems to be the challenge for the Israelites as they came into the promised land, even the people were giants! [Num 13:26-33; 32:9] The Lord knew that the challenge of taking the land would look too big and warned them about becoming discouraged [Deut 1:21]. Do the obstacles you face, money, health & relationships, appear too big to handle?

Other folks get us down. Then there’s the trouble that comes upon us through other folks. Their bad behavior affects us. The sin of David in numbering the people did this [2Sam 24:15]. Often we’re troubled by the sin of another. Whether it is their apathy, carelessness or outright wickedness, we become discouraged.

Consider the many tragedies our brother Paul faced during his life as an Apostle of Jesus Christ;  …in labours … in stripes … in prisons … in deaths …five times …forty stripes … Thrice … beaten with rods, once … stoned, thrice … shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; … journeyings often, …perils of waters, … robbers… mine own countrymen, … heathen, … city…wilderness… sea,…false brethren; …weariness … painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches. [2Co 11:23-28] It would make almost anyone want to give up, but friend, that is not the answer. “But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing” [2Th 3:13]. What are we to do?

3 STEPS TO OVERCOME DISCOURAGEMENT

STEP 1TAKE COMFORT IN JESUS – REALIZE THE POWER OF CHRIST WHEN WE ARE WEAK… Paul is referring to this when he makes the statement in 2Cor 4:16 “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” As we have seen, Paul suffered greatly for Christ [2 Co 4:8-9], but he saw it as an opportunity for God’s power through Christ to be shown [2Co 4:7,10-11]. Christ taught Paul this lesson as he struggled with his “thorn in the flesh” [2Co 12:7-10]. When we are weak, that is an opportunity to depend upon the Lord for strength! So infirmities and tribulations can be occasions to rejoice, not despair!

STEP 2LOOK AT THINGS NOT SEEN…FAITH Heb 11:1. Looking at things not seen refers to the “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” [2Cor 4:16-17]. This is what renewed Paul inwardly day by day. This attitude makes our AFFLICTION appear light! It’s this mindset that gives us comfort that if our earthly house is destroyed (our bodies) we have…” a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” [2Co 5:1-5]. If looking to things unseen can renew Paul, it can also do the same for us.

STEP 3TAKE ACTION – DO SOMETHING – FEAR BOREDOM We must keep on keeping on, or as Paul said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” [Php 3:14]. We can all do something. It’s easy to say, “nobody’s there for me, so why should I be there for them?” Friend, this is not Christ’s way. Even though all had forsaken Him, Jesus didn’t stop serving us all the way to the cross! He left us an example in which to follow.

We can all do something; For OTHERS For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me” [Mt 25:35-36]. When we’re serving the brethren, we’re in effect, serving Jesus. I’ve yet to find the passage which states, “Serve thy brethren AFTER they have served you.”

We can also do something for the spreading of the GOSPEL by inviting someone to read the scriptures with you, or inviting them to a worship service. Let me remind you that one of the methods of evangelism is through our HOPE & GODLINESS [1Peter 3:1, 15].

And finally, we can do something for the CHURCH by participating in the worship & in our Bible classes. Colossians 3:16 teaches how we help one another in our songs, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

As one of our songs says, “Let us labor for the Master from the dawn til setting sun, let us talk of all His wondrous love and care; Then when all of life is over and our work on earth is done, and the roll is called up yonder I’ll be there.”

God’s Succession Plan

ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS against the church is that we have no line of succession from the church in Jerusalem at Pentecost to the Franklin St. Church of Christ. Some point to Campbell as the originator of the church of Christ in America. This is a false teaching, and demonstrates their failure to understand biblical authority. We, as members of the Franklin St. Church of Christ, do have a direct connection to the first century church that began on Pentecost. Let’s go to the scriptures and look at God succession plan.

God’s 3 step succession Plan

FIRST, Teach our children. God expects His ways to be passed along through our children. In Genesis, we read about a man named Abraham. He was a righteous man and obeyed the Lord faithfully, from the command to leave Ur through the command to sacrifice his son. God said this about Abraham, “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him” [Ge 18:19]. Abraham was spoken well of because God knew that he would pass along the “ways of the Lord” to his children and his household.

Others in scripture seem to have failed in this. Eli had children that did horrible things against the ways of the Lord [1Sam 2:12, 22] and God rebuked Eli for failing to stop it. “For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” [1Sam 3:13].

The Lord has been very clear on this point;

De 6:7 And thou shalt teach them (commands, statutes & judgments of the Lord) diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. [De 4:9; 6:20; 11:19; Ps 78:4]

Pr 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. [Pr 19:18; 29:17;]

In the New Testament, Paul taught this same principle, teach it to our children. “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” [Ephesians 6:4]. Parents play a vital role in God’s succession plan.

SECOND, Teach others. God commands Christians to pass along what they learn to others. This command is contained in the “great commission”; “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:” [Matthew 28:19-20]. Paul demonstrated his obedience to this command when he instructed Timothy and so many others. “And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also” [2Timothy 2:2]. This was also a qualification of an Elder, “able to teach” [1Timothy 3:2]. What are they to teach, what else than the “whatsoever I have commanded you.”

THIRDLY, Sow the seed of the kingdom. What all these verses have in common is The word of God. God’s succession plan has ALWAYS been through the teaching of His word to mankind. Look at the parable of the sower; “Hearken; Behold, there went out a sower to sow: 14 The sower soweth the word… And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” [Mr 4:3-20].

Let’s illustrate this point; If a person desired to grow Florida oranges he would go down to the place where he could buy some orange seeds. Taking that orange seed home, if he were to plant it, nurture it, and provide all that is needed for that seed to grow, in a short time he would be enjoying Oranges. The church today can be planted in any place by sowing the seeds of the kingdom of God, which is His word. We do this by reading, studying and obeying His divine word.

In human institutions we see succession by elections or by birth, as in the case of a monarchy. In God’s kingdom there is also a birth. Christians are “born again” when we obey His word. “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures” [James 1:18].

Let no one deceive you. We become Christians through His word. His word tells us to Hear the word [Rom 10:14], Believe His word [John 11:24], Repent of our sins [Luke 13:3], Confess Jesus as both Lord and Christ [Matthew 10:32-33], be baptized for the remission of our sins [Mark 16:15-16] and to live faithfully [2Peter 2:20-22]. Plant the seed of God in your heart and become just a Christian.   

– Spencer

Evangelism Depression

“It must be really depressing to be an evangelist, for very few people really care about the word of God.” Daniel S.

My good friend, a new convert, spoke those words to me after spending the first year after his conversion trying to spread the good news. Yes, it is depressing. Paul was depressed after sending his letter to the Corinthian church.

2Co 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.

He was filled with anguish because he was concerned for the church at Corinth. Would they repent, would they leave, would they take others with them in their disobedience. I can only imagine. But Paul did send the letter, and something great happened.

2Co 7:7 And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more. 8 For though I made you sorry with a letter, I do not repent, though I did repent: for I perceive that the same epistle hath made you sorry, though it were but for a season. 9 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

You see, any of us who spread the message of the Gospel or seek to help a brother or sister in sin, whether we be paid laborers in the Gospel or Christians desiring to do the right thing, are often full of sorrow for those who reject God’s word. We often take it personally, but we need to remember, they haven’t rejected me, they’ve rejected God. 1Sam 8:7

That is why an evangelist, anyone really, needs to have their joy contained in another place other than people. For if we seek to just make other folks happy, then we’ve failed. Ga 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ.

Mt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

My invitation to all of you who desire to be a part of an evangelistic church, be warned. It’s sad, difficult and full of pain. But then, someone responds to the Gospel. Our children, our friends or people we meet. We rejoice, not because of what we have done, no, we rejoice with the angels in heaven for one sinner that repents.

Lu 15:10 Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.