Tag: Jesus Christ

What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?

What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?

John 14:13-14

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

Radio Alleluia 

When most people pray they are really just praying and hoping.  That is when we pray we are saying some words, hoping that we said is correctly; hoping that we used the proper syntax and keywords, like some Google search.  We hope that God is even listening and that when He gets around to it that He will answer if he feels like we deserve and answer the way we want him to for our benefit.  But this is not what prayer is like in scripture.  When the patriarchs and the apostles prayed, they expected results.

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When we pray we should believe and be expecting results.  Scripture approached prayer with an expectation that it is heard, and will be answered.  Why would Jesus tell us the whatsoever ye shall ask, that I will do?  Twice in these two verses Jesus says, “I will do”.  That is a fully loaded promise.  So why don’t we experience this kind of prayer life?

Looking here at verse 13 we see that Jesus first says, “ask in my name”.  Whatever you need, ask in my name.  I heard a story recently of a conversation between two believers.  One was struggling with his prayer life and did not feel as if God was listening to him.  He had been praying earnestly over and over and was not seeing an answer to his prayers.  The other Christian, in an attempt to help him resolve the issue, told the first Christian that he was praying incorrectly.  The encourager told him he was using the wrong name to call to upon God, and because he was using the wrong pronunciation of Jesus (Yeshua), that God would not answer him.

I can see the logic in his argument.  I mean right here in this very text is says to ask in his name.  Does this mean that if I don’t use the correct pronunciation or dialect of the name of Jesus, or worse, that I don’t even say, “In Jesus name”, that God won’t hear me and answer my prayer?  No, God Forbid.

There are some groups that say that we must pronounce the name of Jesus in a certain way or we will not have our prayers answered, these groups have a false doctrine that even says that it is a sin to pronounce the name of the Son of God incorrectly.

Some say that we must use:

  • The original Greek in which the New Testament was written: (Iota Eta Sigma Micron Upsilon Sigma) (pronounced Há-soos´);
  • The Hebrew (pronounced <Joshua>Yeh-hah shoo´ah or Yeh-shoo´ah);
  • The Aramaic Yêšû` (pronounced Yá-soo´);
  • The Greek Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus);
  • English Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus´).

We need to understand that if there are no original texts from the Hebrew, and the Greek and Aramaic texts are not believed to be the originals either.  The Textus Receptus and the Septuagint are our references for the modern day translations of the bible.  There the Greek translation is Jesus Christ which comes to mean “Yahweh is Salvation” in the Hebrew name of Joshua. Now we can see how vain an argument over Yeshua, Joshua, Jesus, any other dialect issue is over the pronunciation of the Son of God.

In the Bible there are over 955 names and titles that are given for reference to God.  Most of these are actually descriptive of God’s character or his attributes. Some of these are:

Abba – Greek: Father

Abba- Aramaic: Daddy

Abir (Abhir)- Hebrew: The Mighty One

YHWH (Jehovah) Hebrew: Lord, in fact in the King James Version when you see the capitalized “LORD” it is in reference to this term.

El Shaddiah – Hebrew: Almighty One

Bara – Hebrew: Creator

El – Hebrew: Which is a borrowed term from Canaan which means “God”

You see the Hebrews believe that the name of God is so sacred that you cannot even pronounce it, or even write it in its completion.  So when Orthodox Jews write out even reference to God they leave out a letter for example writing Lord would be “L_rd”.

In truth we must ask ourselves, first, are we a Christian?  You see it is believing that Jesus is the Son of God that we can receive his offer of Salvation, believing He has the power and authority that only the Son of God has, and that His Word is trustworthy, and that He committed Himself to become a sinless sacrifice for our sins, and then conquered death in His resurrection.  His name, however pronounced, still speaks of the Son of God.  My name is Harvey, but some people call me Havier. I don’t ignore them, I understand that they are speaking to me from a Latin perspective.  I still respond to their calling me.

So what does it mean to “Ask in My Name”?  It means to ask in his weight. That is to ask in his merit.  Or in the provision that he has made.  We come before God in Christ’s standing.  This is what Jesus meant when he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) (John 14:6). No man can approach God the Father in his own merit.  Of ourselves, there is no reason why God should hear any or our prayers, much less to answer them.  God does not owe any of us anything.

Still we come before God thinking that if we review our memory verses, or if we recite enough scripture, or even if we have done enough Bible study to show God how good a Christian we are, then! He will hear us!  We feel all spiritual and even invoke the name of Jesus in the proper context and then God has to hear and give us what we prayed for.  WOW! What arrogance we have!  We forget the warning of James that says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

Jesus did not put a bunch of conditions on the prayer.  He didn’t say:

  • If you sin, don’t come pray to me
  • If you stumble, don’t ask me for help
  • If you fall, I wont be the one picking you up
  • If you didn’t read your bible today, don’t even bother to approach me.
  • He did not say, if you call me by my proper name, or #IN JESUS NAME, then I will answer you.

No he did not say any of that foolishness.  He said, if you know me, and who I am, that I am the Son of God.  That I am your way to the Father.  I you believe in me, then trust me. So then “in his name” means to come in the merit of his righteousness.

We can also come as his representative.  We are ambassadors.  When an ambassador comes to another country they do not go in their own name, they go representing the country from which they came, and they act accordingly with the authority granted to them by their own leader.

We have authority in the name of Jesus.  We have authority on behalf of the Kingdom, through Jesus who is the Christ (Messiah).  See Jesus came to do the will of his Father.  He came on behalf of His Father and acted in his Father’s authority.  He did not step out of his Father’s will, nor the authority granted in that will.

So, when we pray, are we praying in the will of Jesus and in the Authority given in his name?  Are we acting on behalf of Jesus? We are praying for his will, not ours.  Now don’t miss hear me.  Listen to this, just because we are to pray in his authority for his will to be done, it does not mean we cannot intercede for our loved ones, or ask for ourselves.

The example that Jesus gave us in what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father” shows us how a prayer should be prayed in faith.  It should first give glory to God.  How can you ask something of someone without having an understanding that they can and are willing perform what you ask.  Then we are to pray for the things that we need in order to continue the work of faith that he has wrought in us.  Recognizing that all things are given to us, even our daily sustenance.  The Holy, Creator of the universe and all that is within it, the one who stands from before time began, and will be here after time is ended cares about your individual needs, especially with regards to sustaining you in all matters of grace. Not enough praying “in his name” is in real acknowledgement of full dependence on His righteousness for access to the throne of God and seeking His glorification and His will to be done.

In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And in Matthew 6:8 you can find Jesus telling us, “for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”  God knows what we need and is willing to give us abundantly.  The ability to speak to God is given directly to each individual believer in Jesus Christ.  We have this gift because the Lord wants real fellowship with us.

God gives us opportunities to exercise our faith in him by our dependence on his grace.

He said that he will supply everything we need, but we do have to come to him.  He wants to hear your prayers, he wants that acknowledgement that you understand who he is and where all good things come from.  God will do his part in your life.  We need to pray and believe that the things we seek in him, for his glory… He will do.  He has promised it, and what he has promised he will perform.  Not because he is a Djinni. But because he is a God of love, and it makes him happy to give to us.

In closing I want to read to you John 17:20-26, this is Jesus’ prayer for his followers.  In particular this portion speaks to you and me.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. 

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Wolves Among You – Beware

Ethan-Vanderbuilt-A-Wolf-in-Sheeps-Clothing

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:28-30)

The other day I read an article that was written by a young man. In this article the young man said that he was a profession Christian. He also went on to talk about how he, at moments in times past, had very passionate evangelistic experiences, where he went and testified to people about Jesus, and tried earnestly to win souls to Christ.

Then he went into error; the young man put forth the argument that Jesus is not the only way to God. He explained that since God created everything, then by virtue of God’s omniscience, he also created the other religions of the world. This faulty reasoning had led him to believe that God had given us numerous ways to approach him in the various religions of the world. “After all don’t all religions end up in the same place?” I want to make sure that everyone knows; that this young man’s doctrine is a false doctrine. I will concur that all religion does led to the same place.  They all lead to hell.  Religion does not save a single soul. Only believe in Jesus as the Son of God, who sacrificed himself for our sin, and acceptance of this truth in faith; that he died, was buried, rose again, and will return to establish his kingdom, and this is the only way to the Father will save anyone.

Please pray for this young man, because; the deceptive lies and half-truths that he speaks shows that he is not saved, because he actually does not believe and have his faith in Jesus Christ alone. In John 8:44 it reads, “ye are of your father the devil, and the lust of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

So then if you do the will of your father and you show signs of lies, deceipt, rebellion against the will of God, trying to make your own way to God then you are your father the devil.  What then in the will of God the Father? Jesus puts this all into very simple terms, “And this is the will of him (the Father) that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son (Jesus), and believeth on him, may have everlasting life:  and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6.40).  Acceptance of Jesus as the only way to the Father shows you to be in the will of God, and a child of your heavenly Father.  This is the way to life eternal with God.

In the 13th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew Jesus explains that the devil intentionally places it agents in the midst of the church. “He answered and said unto them, he that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; the field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are of the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tears are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.” This verse along with Matthew 7:21 tells us that not everyone who says Lord, Lord, shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that do at the will of my father which is in heaven.  Instead the devil puts in tares among the wheat, that is he puts in false believers among the believers.  These false believers sow in false doctrines in an attempt to confuse and weaken the faith of the true beleivers.

This false concept of having more than one way to God, or more than one God, is nothing new. In Isaiah 14:13 – 15, which is believed to have been written between 740-680 B.C., it reveals the intent of Satan to exalt himself above the throne of God.

“For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:  I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”(Isaiah 14:13-15)

The worship of other gods has never been accepted by the one true God. Exodus 20:3 – 5 states, “thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto the any graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” this is a very serious offense that the Lord warns us not to commit. By way of example, you can open your Bible to 2 Kings and see the story of Moab in the first chapter. In this story Ahaziah tried to consult one of the profits of Baal-zebub, who was the god of Ekron, and the Lord slayed him because he sought another god.

Now let’s take a look at what the Lord says in the book of Isaiah. “Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that you may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: if you’re me there is no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, and the Lord; and beside me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:10 – 11). As you can see the Lord is very clear on this point, there is only one God, and the Lord is that God. There is no other way to salvation, but through him. Jesus himself said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6). The book of the Gospel of John testifies, “in the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was the life; and the life was light of men.” (John 1:1 – 4).

The consequence of believing that Jesus is just another god, or that there are many ways to God other than Jesus, is evidence of lack of faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior. With this profession, you condemn yourself. “I said therefore unto you that she shall die in your sins: for if you believe not that I am he, you shall die in your sins.” (John 8:24). So I warn you now, if you hear anyone putting out any other gospel other than salvation through Jesus Christ alone than that is a false teacher that is going to lead many people to death. You do not need to listen to them because all they will do is try to confuse you.

I will close with this Scripture from Galatians 1:6 – 10, “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: which is another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, say so I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet please men, I should not be the servant of Christ.”

If anyone declares any other gospel to you, other than the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means of salvation, no matter how nice they talk, or how convincing the logical argument might seem, they are in error and should be removed from your presence.

 

 

Wolf Image from Ether Vanderbuilt

A Look in the Mirror- Proverbs 9:21

I try to be very cautious when I give my testimony, and to not be too specific because I don’t want people to get the wrong impression.  I share just enough for them to know that I overcame through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, because I want Christ to be the focus and not my sin.  You see part of my issue is that I was an alcoholic.  I don’t share how bad of an alcoholic most times because I have noticed that alcoholics tend to brag.  Once pride over sin enters into the conversation it is a lost cause, and the sin becomes the conversation.  It becomes who was the bigger sinner.

Instead of discussing the deliverance of the cross the conversation deteriorates into who drank the most, or who did the most embarrassing things, and all focus on Christ is lost.  Truth be told all sin comes from our selfishness and is fed by pride.  Even shameful sins are fed by our lashing out to feel better about ourselves, by punishing those around us.  This gives us the center of attention, even if it is in a bad way.  Unfortunately we become to think of ourselves as unique in our little world. We believe that we are smarter than everyone else around us.  We believe that we don’t need others, they don’t know us, and that they cannot identify with us.  This twisted image makes us dependent on the sin.

I can remember, when I was drinking, that at times I was very proud of how much I could drink.  Even how cruel I could be to others.  I remember sometimes purposely starting fights with my wife, so that I could have an excuse to storm out and go drinking.  Afterward I would feel ashamed and then would drink more to drown out the terrible feelings.  I couldn’t look at my wife or my children without severe regret for the things I had done.  When I looked in the mirror, it was only to ask myself what had happened to the young man I use to be.  Where were all those great things I was going to do with my life?  Where was the man that swore to protect the ones he loved?  I began to realize that the same pride I had in those things had become twisted into my self-image from my hard headedness of holding on to my sin.

Proverbs 9:21 says, “He , that being often reproved hardenteh his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” You see I did not listen to the warnings that others were giving me in the way of life I was living.  I chose to hold onto my drinking, and the underlying sin that fed it.  I choose to be in rebellion.  My pride had me held up for ransom. The Lord has given us plenty of warning over and over again of what this self-pride will do to us.  It says, “Therefore his calamity will come suddenly; Instantly he will be broken and there will be no healing.” (Proverbs 6:15).

There comes a point when everyone around us gives up and leaves us to our own destruction.  God warns us that there is a penalty to pay for willful ignorance and pride. He calls it being stiff necked. Being stiff necked and prideful, resisting the truth, and choosing sin over repentance can destroy lives.  Only in looking back at a wasted life of destroyed relationships, and tortured looks from loved ones can one see this truth.  But there is an alternative.  Take a look at the book of Ecclesiastes.

“A stubborn heart shall fare evil at the last; and he that loveth danger shall perish therein.  An obstinate heart shall be laden with sorrows; and the wicked man shall heap sin upon sin.  In the punishment of the proud there is not remedy; for the plant of wickedness hath taken root in him.  The heart of the prudent will understand a parable; and an attentive ear is the desire of a wise man.  Water will quench a flaming fire; and alms maketh an atonement for sins.  And he that requitech good turns is mindful of that which may come hereafter; and when he falleth, he shall find a stay.” (Ecclesiastes 3:27-31).

This is a comparison and contrast that shows there is an alternative.  You can choose to live in your sin and pay the penalty of destruction, sorrow, and death. From this there is no remedy.  You cannot get out of it by yourself.  You have to accept the truth of your situation.  A truly wise man will understand that he cannot continue in this path of self-destruction.  Shame only builds more shame.  Believe me please, I know.  There is another way.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life:  no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6).  What is so important about this?  Take another look at Ecclesiastes above.  It says that a prudent man knows that water puts our fire.  Alms and atonement must be made for the sin. You see sin ultimately brings death.  “Then when lust has conceived, it bringeth for sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth for death.” (James 1:15). Death will come to those who continue in their sin.  Destruction that cannot be remedied will occur as a result of our rejection of this truth.  You see you do not have to believe that fire will burn you if you touch it, but it will.  Just the same sin will kill you.  But we do have hope in Jesus Christ.

 “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6.23).  Jesus offers an alternative.  In his death he paid the price for our sin.  He died to pay the price of death for you.  But not only that, Jesus rose again so that we might live eternally with the Father.  This is a free gift, a way out of your old life.  A way of atonement that has been made on your behalf, by God Himself, in Jesus Christ. “For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and on the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17).

You see there is a way of hope.  There is a new life.  There is a way out of the shame and despair.  That way is in Jesus Christ.  2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”  This is more than just a second chance.  This is a new birth.  Salvation is more than just being saved from hell, or self-destruction.  It is a whole new life.  It is becoming the child of God you were intended to be from before you were born.  The Father has always wanted to hold you in his arms, he wanted you so much that he sent his son Jesus to become a man and pay the price of death for you.

All you have to do is believe that he did, and then confess it.  “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.  For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” (Romans 10:9-11).  The hardest part is just putting away that foolish pride.  Because with pride in the way you are blinded to seeing the truth.  Look in the mirror, what happened to you?  Tell the truth.

 

Leave the Pig Pen Behind

In the gospel of Luke we find a story about a son who had taken his inheritance from the family and went away to a far land.  While there he wasted the inheritance on unwise and questionable living.  Much like many of us do when we first leave home.  When he had run out of money, there was a famine in the land and he was caught with no money, no job, and no way to come home.  Stranded in the this foreign land he took a job as a servant to an unrighteous man who took advantage of him.  After some time of this the young man, out of desperation decided to swallow his pride and return home.

The time away had beaten the young man in more than one way.  His heart was broken and his life was in shambles.  He had no hope, he only wanted to get home and beg his father for mercy and help.  I can think of times in my life when I had ruined all the opportunities that youth had given me, and squandered my money and eventually was left with nothing but burned bridges.  Shamefully I turned to family for help.  Not knowing if they would help, but desperately needing it.

Some of you are very familiar with this story, but I want to concentrate on this one aspect.  When the father saw the young man in the distance, he ran to him.  Then he called his servants and told them to put a robe on him, and a ring on his finger.  This is what I want us to see.  The son had travelled a far way.  His previous job had him living with pigs, and eating the leftovers of what the pigs did not eat.  He was malnourished, unclean, smelling.  Yet his father loved him anyway.  His father did not say, “Oh my, go get a bath, and put on some perfume before you hug me!”  No his father instead ran to him, and kissed him passionately over and over again.

This is the love that God has for us.  He loved us before we were cleansed.  We did not have to clean ourselves up and be presentable before he embraced us.  A lot of Christians will tell you that God loves me just the way I am, and that is true.  He does love us, just the way we are.  But if we look closer at this parable, we see that his father loved his son so much that he did not let him remain unclean.  This is the way our heavenly Father also loves us.  He loves us so much that he cannot leave us in the mire and stench that Jesus saved us from.  He renews our minds and transforms us into his image.

Psalm 3:3 says, “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap”.  In other places in scripture it describes how the Lord brought the writer out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set his feet upon a rock making his footsteps firm (Psalm 40:2).  The Lord wants better for us than to just be saved from hell.  He wants us to be what we were meant to be in Him.

Romans 8:37 explains how that we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. We are more than victorious, more than vanquishers, more than subjugators. Christians need to study scripture and awaken to the truths that God has given us.  We do not need to be sheepish and tied to the things that kept us bound before.  When the son in this story had returned home to his father’s embrace, he had also left the pig pen behind.  He was not living in that filth anymore.  -Amen

What Are We Doing With the Great Commission?

The spreading of the gospel is what created the church (Col. 1.5-6), and the primary message of the church is the gospel (1 Cor. 15.1-3).  By saying that, the spreading of the gospel is the primary message of the church, it is meant that we begin with the process of telling others the truth of Christ and salvation.  Salvation in Christ is not only believing, but accepting.  Accepting the Salvation offered through Jesus Christ means you HAVE BECOME A DISCIPLE.  Disciples MAKE disciples. This is what evangelism is, the start of that process.

Probably the most powerful verse in evangelism is what we call the great commission.  In this Jesus meets with his 12 disciples on a mountain and gives them one last bit of encouragement and a command.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28.19-20).

A successful business has a business plan, and in that plan covers the vision and the goal for the business.  The Great Commission is that for the church.  It gives us our mission: What we are called to do; Our Vision: Where we hope to go; Our Plan: How we will get there: and Our Response:  What we need to do. We are told to “go”.  We should be a reaching church, ever expanding our message.  If you study things in nature, they are always growing, or they are dying.  If a tree stops growing then it rots from the inside-out.  This is the condition we see allot of local churches in today.

Jesus said, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you (John 20.21). This was God’s plan from the very beginning.  From the Old Testament on into the New Testament God demonstrated his plan of repentance and salvation through the word of mouth shared by men to men (mankind to mankind).  This spreading of the Word of God came through prophets, teachers, scribes, kings, Apostles and, finally, disciples.  In Acts 1.8 scripture tells us that we are to be witnesses of Jesus, starting in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  We read in the gospel of Mark that we are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16.15).

We are not to be idle and wait for people to come to us.  We are to actively take the gospel to all nations, all peoples, all tongues.  This means we should reach out not only to foreign missions, but in our very neighborhoods.  We reach them by preaching, and teaching.  We have to teach them about the love of God and the salvation in Jesus Christ.  We have to proclaim what is acceptable to the Lord God.  We have to teach them how to apply these lessons in their life.  We are to baptize them in accordance to the profession of their belief in Christ.  Immediately we get them in an outward expression of faith, showing others that they are disciples of Christ Jesus.  Evangelism is never an end of means.  Evangelism is a starting point for the new convert.

Evangelism is part of a continuing cycle of growth in the Christian and in the local Church.  Evangelism is a beginning in once sense and the process is a continuing of growth in the other. Like a tree that grows from a single seed, it puts out roots, stretches for the sky, bathes in the Sun and grows up and puts out more seeds that are carried by the winds to new locations. Christians should focus everything in their lives to keeping the gospel message at the center of our mental, spiritual, and emotional life.  This is achieved through deliberate, prayer rooted in Christ, Spirit led, lovingly felt, fervent Personal Evangelism.

One of the deacons shared a story in my Sunday school class on Personal Evangelism.  He told of how a woman had come in to the church just before the service and asked for money for food.  One of the members went out and talked with the couple and believed that their situation was sincere.  The member gave them some money and told them that after they had eaten to come back to the church and join the service.  While that was a good and noble thing to do, it was a wasted opportunity.  What would have been so wrong with two or more members missing service and going with that couple, buying their meal or even some groceries and then sitting with them right then and sharing Christ? That would be keeping the gospel the center in the situation.  If we look at the examples of Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament we see that they met the immediate need, but they also went further to identify the real spiritual need and offer a solution.  Yes we are to care for the widows, and orphans, and the poor and needy, but we need to care for their spiritual needs as well as the physical, medical, and financial needs.  We do this by sharing everything we know about Christ.

Evangelism is probably the best way to keep the message of the saving grace of Jesus Christ a reality in our lives.  If we are actively evangelizing and concentrating on spreading the gospel it is less likely we will be distracted by the world.  Having gospel conversations with unbelievers builds up our knowledge and confidence in the scriptures.  Being intellectually challenged drives us to seek a deeper understanding of Christ in the scriptures, in history, and in science.  We get to learn more about God’s character, his holiness and judgments, we gain a deeper understanding of how God works in man.  We have to think through how to explain all these concepts to different types of audiences.  This gives us better tools to study and trace God’s truths in scripture and see the evidence in life itself.

Soldiers are taught tasks and skills then immediately are made to go and teach other soldiers these newly learned skills.  This makes them learn the tasks and skill development on a deeper level than they would have ever know in just listening to lectures.  Philemon 1.6 says “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  Knowing and explaining the gospel to someone who does not understand it or believe in it is different than having an academic understanding.  This process of personal evangelism enlightens the one teaching as well as the one receiving.   Brian Parks in his 9Marks Journal gives 6 Benefits of Evangelism fir Disciples:

  1. Evangelism helps keep the gospel central in our lives and churches
  2. Evangelism deepens our understanding of the most fundamental truths of Scripture
  3. Properly motivated evangelism grows our love for God and neighbor
  4. Evangelism prompts unexpected questions and objections from non-Christians, which can deepen our faith
  5. Evangelism protects us from mistakenly assuming that those around us are saved.
  6. Evangelism increases the likelihood of being persecuted for the gospel which leads to our growth

(“Six Benefits of Evangelism for Discipleship.” 9Marks, www.9marks.org/article/journalsix-benefits-evangelism-discipleship/.)

Evangelism by individual members has a direct effect on church growth.  If we look in the book of Acts there are several examples of how the local churches grew after a short period of active evangelism by its members.  Acts 11:19-26 tells us of how, that after persecution in Jerusalem, some believers went to Antioch and began telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus and how the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  It goes further to say that believers in Christ were first call Christians at Antioch.  The strength of the evangelism effort has a direct relation to the growth of the church.  The local church and its membership should be a vibrant and dynamic reality in the local community.

The early churches demonstrated a recognition of needs in the local area, and even in other distant churches.  Each member of the community was concerned about the welfare of the whole and the individual above themselves.  Resources were shared and this created a social-economic system the benefitted all those around the church area.  The effects of evangelism made it possible for these churches to grow and have a positive effect on their neighbors, their civil governments, and eventually the whole country and even the world.  The church is responsible for the widespread use of the tablet form of writing, what we call a book today.  The church is responsible for the advent of schools, hospitals, and vocational centers, for rehabilitation centers and even the Constitution of the United States, the freedom from slavery instituted in Britain and the U.S. came from church movements.  The “Ivy League” schools were originally schools of Biblical Study.  Personal Evangelism has had a great effect on the world.

Christian organizations supply food and clothing to poor, war torn communities all over the world.  Christian legal teams fight slavery, sexual trafficking, Christian and Jewish persecution, and abortion not only in the United States, but in places like Africa, Iraq, Israel and all across Europe.  Without evangelism efforts these Christian churches would not have the resources to send missionaries to local neighborhoods, much less to the foreign mission field.  God provides for these missionaries from the harvest of the evangelism effort.  The building up of the local churches and the resources that they share are affected by the evangelist efforts put forward in their own communities.  With all the good that we do in our neighborhood and in the world around us we must not forget that these are by-products of the spread of the gospel.  Evangelism is for making changes in people’s lives.

Remember back to Matthew 28:20, Jesus commanded that we are to teach the nations “all that I have commanded”, and to “observe all that I have commanded.”  The command is not just to have them confess Christ, but to teach them to be obedient to what Jesus has commanded.  Remember the Lord prefers obedience over sacrifice.  He must be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth.  Those who obey His commandments demonstrate the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Faith that saves has the sign of obedience.  Scripture tells us that we should not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of the mind.  The renewing of the mind is accomplished by the Spirit of God by the study of scripture and fellowship with Christ.  Is this what we are doing?

“How do we usually read this scripture, which is familiarly called The Great Commission? Ordinarily we read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you don’t want to go, you can sing in the choir as a substitute and let someone else go for you, teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Other people read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you don’t want to go, you can teach a Sunday School class on Sunday morning as a substitute for going and let someone else go for you teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Or, sometimes folks read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you are afraid to go or don’t want to go, you can paint on the church building as a substitute and let someone else go for you teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” There’s just one thing wrong with all these various renditions of the scripture as the church members ordinarily read it; it’s not in the Bible. No matter what you say when you get out your Bible, you m7ill still read Jesus saying to you, “go YE therefore and teach all nations.” It does not say anything about if you do not want to go or are afraid to go. It simply says, “GO!” I’m afraid that we in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ of America have not been going like Jesus Christ told us to go.” (“God’s Plan for World Evangelism.” Sermon 15a)

The sad thing is that most modern Christians have never won a soul to Christ.  In fact most church going Christians do not even try to share their faith, or even invite friends or family to their church for fear of rejection of ridicule.  The danger in this is that Jesus said that whoever is ashamed of me in from of men, him I will be ashamed of in front of my Father.  Many churches don’t even get out in their local cities and perform a corporate level of evangelism.  There is virtually no effort to train or hold church members accountable to participate in Sunday school recruitment or youth development or recruitment programs.  The lack of identifiable leadership in evangelism is often used as an excuse by the members of the congregation to avoid their obligation to share the gospel. The result is that local churches are closing their doors all over the United States.  Members are disenfranchised and quit.  They lack the vision and without a vision they eventually give up and die. The following statistics were released in 1993 from Michael Parrott of Spokane, WA.

EVANGELISTIC STATISTICS

Ninety-five percent of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.
Eighty percent of all Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.
Less than two percent are involved in the ministry of evangelism.
Seventy-one percent do not give toward the financing of the great Commission.

One particular denomination did a survey on its leadership ministries. The results are as follows:

  • 63% of the leadership in this denomination, including deacons and elders, have not led one stranger to Jesus in the last two years through the method of “Go Ye” evangelism.
  • 49% of the leadership ministries spend zero time in an average week ministering outside of the church.
  • 89% of the leadership ministries have zero time reserved on their list of weekly priorities for going out to evangelize.
  • 99% of the leadership ministries believe that every Christian, including leadership, has been commanded to preach the gospel to a lost world.
  • 97% believe that if the leadership had a greater conviction and involvement in evangelism, that it would be an example for the church to follow.
  • 96% of the leadership believe their churches would have grown faster if they would have been more involved in evangelism.

Because of this, our results in evangelism have been mediocre, at best.

(“Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11.)

We should constantly analyze ourselves with regards to the “Great Commission”.  Are we effectively reaching our neighbors? Are we teaching those we reach?  Are we seeing lives changed because of the gospel message we proclaim?  What are we that we should not be doing?  What are we NOT doing that we should be doing to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ? The uppermost desire for every Christian should be to bring someone to Christ.  You can do the personal work that you are called to do as an individual Christian.  You can work and win a soul to Christ.  All it took was one man crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord!”  Jesus started by getting one disciple.  Then one disciple got another. All it takes is one person in your neighborhood to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

 

References

“Southern Baptist Convention.” Southern Baptist Convention The Baptist Faith and Message. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theolog. Perf. R. C. Sproul. Series 11: Three In Persons. Right Now Media, n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

Coleman, Robert Emerson, and Billy Graham. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Revell, 2008.

“God’s Plan of Salvation.” Bible.org, bible.org/article/gods-plan-salvation.

  1. C. Ryle, Practical Religion (Darlington: Evangelical, 2001), 73

Lindsey, Art, PhD. “The Priesthood of All Believers.” Institute for Faith, Works and Economics (2013): Print.PDF

The Biblical Evangelist, biblicalevangelist.org/index.php?id. 4 August 2017

Steele, David N., et al. The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented. P & R Publications, 2004.

Zagzebski, Linda. “Foreknowledge and Free Will.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 13 Apr. 2017, plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-will-foreknowledge/.

“Ezekiel 3:19 Commentary – John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.” Bible Study Tools,

“Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, II, no. 2, 2014. FALL, doi:The Gospel and Evangelism. www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/ezekiel-3-19.html.

“Six Benefits of Evangelism for Discipleship.” 9Marks, www.9marks.org/article/journalsix-benefits-evangelism-discipleship/.

Unknown. “God’s Plan for World Evangelism.” Sermon 15a, www.white-fields.org/uploads/1/5/7/7/15776806/my_favorite_missionary_sermons_sermon_15a.pdf.

“Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11.

It Shall Prosper

 

“So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:11

I heard a story about a minister by the name of Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892).  For those who do not know who this man was, he was and still is a world renowned Baptist preacher whose sermons and quotes are still used as a reference or verbatim in many pulpits even today.  He was a Methodist that converted to Baptist and still held to his Calvinist theology.  He once remarked, “I do not hesitate to take the name of Baptist, but if I am asked what is my creed, I reply, ‘It is Jesus Christ.’”

So as the story goes, Spurgeon was to speak at the Crystal Palace in London and the venue had an expectation of over 20,000.  Days before the event Spurgeon and some of the staff went to check the acoustics in the Crystal Palace, so that they could place the pulpit in the optimal position to carry his voice with the best reception throughout the room.

Spurgeon got behind the pulpit and bellowed out one verse, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the son of the world!” (John 1:29).  This is the statement John the Baptist exclaimed when he saw the Spirit of God descend on Jesus and remained on Jesus.  Spurgeon’s sound test carried all though the structure and reached ears of one of the workers in an adjacent gallery.

The worker was immediately overtaken with conviction, and not know what to do, left and went home.  After a while the conviction grew so intense that the worker repented of his lifestyle and accepted Jesus as his savior.  With just those simple words of Scripture, the Holy Spirit went to work in this man’s conscience.  Spurgeon, unknowingly had planted a seed in the man’s heart.  The Spirit of God moved on the man’s heart and grew that seed into a spiritual harvest.

We tend to think that we have to have all the right words to say, or the right way to say it, that we have to be clever in our delivery.  We sometimes feel that we don’t even know what we should say.  Well, sometimes we should just get out of the way and do what the Lord told us to do, Preach the Word, and let Him do the rest.  The responsibility of saving someone’s soul is not ours.  Jesus already saved their soul.  Our responsibility it to just bear witness to the Truth. Peter said that “he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead.” (Acts 10:42).

When Peter proclaimed Jesus Christ to Cornelius in Acts 10.36-48, Peter did not even get to finish his sermon before the Holy Spirit fell on ALL that was there.  The Scripture that Peter shared and the testimony he gave concerning Jesus was used by the Spirit to convict Cornelius and his guests, all at the same time.  We should therefore concentrate on sharing of the scripture, and communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ in our own lives and in scripture.  We should focus on Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2.2)