Share the Message

This is the final session in the God’s Not Dead series.

While preparation is vital to becoming an effective witness for Christ, at some point we need to step out and start sharing the gospel. You can connect more often and more deeply with people outside of the church. You can become involved in activities or join organizations with diverse participants. You can cultivate a lifestyle of hospitality. You can get involved with people who don’t know the Lord, then they will inevitably see the centrality of Jesus that marks your life.

At first you can defend the existence of God. Remember that knowing God exists is the beginning of faith. Then you can explain how he created the world as well as mankind. This knowledge should result in a desire of people to begin to seek God. This may lead to the opportunity for you to explain the Christian story that is expressed in the gospel. There is no greater privilege than to communicate this message to unbelievers. Second Corinthians 5:20 tells us we are ambassadors for Christ.

Slide4

Before you can share the gospel, you need to understand it. Here is a good summary, God became man in Jesus Christ. He lived the life we should have lived and died the death we should’ve died, in our place. Three days later he rose from the dead proving that he is the Son of God and offering the gift of salvation to everyone who will repent and believe in him. Let’s look at the key aspects of the summary.

God became man in Jesus Christ. Creator of the universe came to earth in the form of Jesus Christ, which is the greatest mystery of all time. So I’m trying to simply say that Jesus Christ was more than a great teacher or even a prophet, but he claimed to be God himself. Remember the CS Lewis argument of liar, Lord, or lunatic.

He lived the life that we should’ve lived. Jesus perfectly obeyed the moral law of God yet he was without sin. Through disobedience and rebellion we fell into the darkness and grip of sin. Christ’s perfect obedience as a man of God qualified him to represent us before God.

He died the death that we should’ve died, in our place. Because of sin, we deserve punishment. If there is no penalty for breaking God’s laws, then they ceased to be laws and become merely suggestions. Jesus Christ became our substitute by offering his perfect life as a sacrifice for our sins.

Three days later he rose from the dead, proving he is the Son of God. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead verified that he was indeed who he said he was. When people ask how you can know that Jesus Christ is truly the son of God, you can confidently stand on his resurrection as the proof of that claim.

He offers salvation to those who repent and believe in him. The gospel calls us to put our faith in Jesus Christ. Having faith means to trust and obey what he says is true. To repent means to turn from trusting in our own efforts, as well as to be sorry for our sinful ways. As you turn to Christ and trust in him, he promises to give you new life.

Slide5

Next we need to believe the gospel deeply. Real faith isn’t blind. We have been given overwhelming evidence that God is real and that Jesus Christ is his son. While we don’t claim to have all the answers, we have enough evidence to commit ourselves to believe what God has promised us. We also know that Jesus’ words are true and our sins are forgiven. Christ has paid the price for our sins (Isaiah 53:5). All of the guilt and shame has been removed from us so that we can stand blameless in God sight, as children of God.

By believing the gospel, we experience a promise Jesus gave us, that of the new birth (John 3:7). This is obviously a spiritual rather than a physical birth. We become new on the inside (2 Corinthians 5:17).

When we believe the message, this promised transformation takes place. It doesn’t mean we don’t have struggles, temptations, or setbacks, but we have a new source of strength inside of us. When these truths penetrate our hearts, they shape our speech, our decisions, our emotions, and our motivations.

Slide6

It is a popular statement, “Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.” Make no mistake, it is necessary to use words. It’s like feeding hungry people, and if necessary use food. Is our responsibility and privilege to communicate this message to a lost world around us.

Many times we avoid the responsibility. It all comes down to fear. One of the best ways to overcome the fear of talking about God is to simply start stepping out in faith to initiate conversations. To overcome this obstacle, there is a simple strategy called SALT.

  • Start a conversation
  • Ask questions
  • Listen
  • Tell the story

TheGodTest is another a tool with questions to draw out a person’s foundational beliefs, such as their understanding of God, morality, and the meaning of life. Here is a summary:

(check out the teaching / training online).

Slide7

Mankind has a problem, which is a sin problem that can only be solved with God’s solution. Imagine being sick for more than two years with a mysterious ailment that no doctor could detect. When you finally find out what is wrong, it really is good news. Now they can start treating the real problem. The gospel is like an MRI for the soul that shows the source of people’s individual problems, and the challenges in society that results from their broken relationships with God.

There are countless voices in our culture promising to help us fix our problems. Only within Christianity is security really found, our value and acceptance by God’s rest on Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice. As we are transformed into new people, we can then confront the problems in our society such as racism, injustice, and poverty.

Slide8

On a regular basis, tragedy and crisis strike our world. Whether natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, or personal tragedy and loss. It is the love and mercy shown by the followers of Jesus that have historically made a huge difference in the lives of those who are hurting. The love and sacrifice shown by believers can help take away the pain and bring real peace and comfort.

As a Christian, you invite others into small groups focused on practical issues, such as marriage, finances, or relationships. As they experience biblical truth practically impacting their lives, they will likely desire to understand the full Christian story. You could also invite them to join in mercy ministries, such as helping the homeless. It is important to identify the talents that God has given to you, and to use them for his glory.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are your greatest obstacles toward being a witness for Christ? How can you overcome them?
  2. What do you most need to become an effective witness: courage, knowledge, wisdom, power?
  3. How should you pray for God to assist you to gain what you need?
  4. What opportunities might you be missing where you could be a witness?

Follow Up:

  • Read John 3:16–18. Reflect on your life in light of the power of these verses. What do they mean to you? How have you responded in your beliefs and lifestyle?
  • Read Matthew 7:16 and Galatians 5:22–23. What traits characterize your life? What do other C and receive from you?
  • Make sure to go over the God Test questions in order to better prepare yourself to share the gospel with other people.

God Test

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Marvel at the Design

This is the fourth of six lessons in the God’s Not Dead series:

Evidence from physics and astronomy point to a creator, but biology is a bit more challenging to reconcile with Christianity. Why?

The triumph of the theory of evolution is usually the knockout blow to anyone attempting to maintain an intellectually credible belief in God. But evidence over the past few decades has also seen the fingerprints of God.

Anthony Flew’s There is a God: how the world’s most notorious atheist changed his mind. He was an atheistic philosopher who came to doubt atheism as a result of advances in molecular biology, particularly DNA. Dr. Flew was impacted by the amount of complexity in DNA that could only point to an intelligent designer.

Slide4

Spontaneous formation of a living cell, the odds are 1 in 1o to the 40,000 power. Those zeros could fill a book. Similar chances could be compared to a tornado moving through a junkyard and assembling a fully operational 747.

Not surprising, scientists would never say a cell could have originated by chance, instead they say that somehow the laws of nature could have spontaneously brought together the different building blocks to form the first cell. But we all can observe that nature does the exact opposite: 1) Nature moves from order to disorder: try keeping your house clean, it naturally becomes messy. 2) Nature moves from high energy to low energy: water always runs downhill, never uphill.

A cell is both highly ordered and contains very high energy compared to its separate building blocks. For a cell to come together, it must behave in the opposite direction of its normal course.

Last ditch effort: the sun could have supplied the energy in order to create that first cell, but that is like setting off a stick of dynamite and expecting the energy to create a house. A final ditch effort: life on Earth was seeded by aliens. (ancient astronaut theory).

Take a look at Mike Riddle talking about life and chance / probability…

Slide6

It has been concluded that the more biologists decipher the DNA code, the more they are recognizing its complexity and ingenuity, which is vastly more sophisticated than computer software. Letters in DNA are arranged in very specific sequences to provide the needed information to construct and operate a living organism. So, for nature to blindly produce enough information for even a single gene would be much like a student sitting on their cell phone and accidentally pocket texting the message, “Don’t tell anyone, but I cheated on the test.” Like the letters from a pocket text, it can only come from an intelligent agent.

Imagine a pot of boiling alphabet soup and noticing the sequence of letters to form the sentence, “I hope you feel better soon, and have a nice day.” You CANNOT assume that this happened due to a chemical reaction or the physics of the water and pasta. It can only be explained by intelligence.

This video addresses genetic code and mutations over time…

Slide8

Some Christians, like Dr. Francis Collins, who mapped the human genome, actually argue that Christianity and evolution are compatible. Evolution being the tool that God used to create humanity in his image, but unguided evolutionary process cannot explain the sudden appearance of the fossil record of complex life.

Collins actually addresses ID in his book, the Language of God.

  1. Proposition 1: Evolution promotes and atheistic worldview and therefore must be rejected by believers in God.
  2. Proposition 2: Evolution is fundamentally flawed and cannot account for the intricate complexity of nature (p.184). Bacterial Flagellum (pp.185-186).
  3. Proposition 3: If evolution cannot explain irreducible complexity, then there must have been an intelligent designer involved somehow.

Scientific Objection to ID: is it because scientists bow down at the altar of Darwin? But scientists are attracted to overturning accepted theories.

  • ID fails as a scientific theory (experimental observation).
  • Many examples of irreducible complexity are not irreducible after all – human blood clotting (p.190), the eye (p.191), bacterial flagellum (p.192).

The fossil record does not show life gradually changing over time. It seems that major groups like vertebrates appear suddenly in what is called the Cambrian explosion, which is the most dramatic of a general pattern in the fossil record. The first new types like fish or reptiles typically appear suddenly without a series of identifiable ancestors. THEN, after they appear, they never change significantly.

At a conference at the University of Washington, Dr. J. Y. Chen writes about Chinese scientists who differ from Darwin and question Darwinian evolution. When asked to clarify, he said, “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government. In America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.”

I showed a clip of Ken Ham addressing the design of creation. [ Go ] Also he addresses the question, Is there really a God?

Ken Ham mentioned about atheists spending so much time and effort declaring there is no God, why do they even care? If we cease to exist, no purpose, no meaning, dead and decaying, and no one remembers or cares after we are gone, WHO CARES?

Slide10As an example, the eye demonstrates incredible levels of sophistication for the single purpose of vision. To see properly, countess individual pieces have to be properly arranged and come together perfectly… lens, cornea, iris, retina, nerve cord connecting to the proper part of the brain. The whole system would fall apart and not work if all this is not wired up correctly.

This is the illustration for irreducible complexity; biological structures that are composed of many parts. Such structures cannot come together part by part because if all the parts are not present, nothing works. Which part of a mouse trap can you remove and the trap still work?

This is another evidence of a predetermined design of an intelligent designer.

Slide11

Some of these features are: advanced communication skills (depends upon advanced brain power, vocal cord ability to make various sounds, regions of the brain designed for sound and language). Our hands are capable of making tools and handling tools with great precision. Our upright posture enable us to use highly advanced tools like scuba gear and space suits, driving, flying, and sky diving.

Science would say that all the human advantages come from our advanced brain capacity, but why would the brain of other organisms not develop just as much over the same span of chance and time?

Science has a philosophical attachment to Darwinian Theory, so Christians need to have wisdom on when and how to challenge the topic. Maybe you need to learn some challenges to the theory to help people break free from the false view they have accepted. Many will respond in anger and refuse to listen to anything. Perhaps start with other topics, like last week’s lesson before addressing this bombshell, which confronts their entire philosophical framework.

Teenagers: how can we expect better behavior (sex, drugs, violence) if they are no better than an ape that made it? When one is a special creation in the image of God, we have a higher calling.

The evidence of design in physics points to an all-powerful creator who exists outside of time and space.

The evidence of design from biology reveals that God has been intimately involved throughout the history of the world; each cell demonstrates that God was involved in our creation at the level of properly arranging the atoms in our DNA.

This demonstrates that the God revealed through science matches the God of the Bible.

Another video I showed that evening was Dr. Georgia Purdom on, Is Intelligent Design Christian? [ Go ]

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Having No Fear

This is the second of six in the God’s Not dead series, these are my teaching notes and slides:

Slide2One of the major themes in the movie was that of persecution; all around the world people suffer for simply having faith in Jesus. Some would argue that the world is much more tolerant today than it was centuries ago, but the facts say otherwise. In many parts of the world, people lose freedoms; and thousands of people are killed because of their faith in Christ.

While in America, tolerance is demanded for most any lifestyle or belief, yet for those who believe in Christ, they are met with systematic intolerance, which is grossly unfair and often absurd. Believers are often intimidated.

There is a challenge called moral relativism: the philosophy that teaches all beliefs are equally right and true. While people have the right to believe whatever they want about God, that doesn’t mean that all beliefs are true. Jesus warned about persecution (Mark 4:17) But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.

Let’s look at a three clips from the movie, about people who experienced persecution for simply having faith in Jesus, or even discussing the existence of God…

Slide4

It was all through the movie: Josh and his long time girlfriend, Martin (the Chinese student) had a very negative father and he wanted him to focus on studies and grades, not God, and Ayisha, the girl in the Muslim family, whose father wanted her to recant, that “there is one God and he is not begotten.” (John 3:16)

95% of Americans say they believe in God, but many are moral relativists who don’t try to live according to God’s Word (Josh’s girlfriend is a great example, she did not want faith to get in the way of career plans or opportunities). She scoffed at the notion that Josh would put God’s desire over her wishes.

Slide5

If we are to make a difference in the world around us, we MUST get rid of this type of paralyzing fear.

When we fear criticism: we learn that our identity and value is based on what others think instead of God’s acceptance of us.

When we fear consequences: we learn to trust in circumstances and decisions of others more than Jesus’ care for us (Matthew 6:25-34).

When we fear not attaining our goals: we learn that we have placed our hope for meaning and fulfillment in some worldly achievement over being a valuable part of God’s kingdom.

Let’s pray for a break in these strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4).

How to overcome fears: meditate on God’s promises (2 Timothy 1:7, Philippians 4:13).

Remember that there are 365 references to “Fear Not” or “Don’t be Afraid.”  Don’t let fear stop you from doing the right thing.

Slide6

There may be other reason why someone might be adversarial to you and your faith. Don’t respond in anger, and remember that Satan, the adversary has blinded the people of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Their hostility might be the result of painful experiences in their past, in the professor’s case, losing his mother to cancer after asking God to heal her. In session 5, we will see that suffering is a huge stumbling block for many people. Try to find out the source of their pain, Josh asked, “What happened to you?”

Others may respond negatively because they feel Christians are bigoted and narrow minded, so, in essence, they are prejudging you. (MY college story of introducing myself as a follower of Jesus, a Christian = biased).

In philosophy, there is a straw-man argument: people build a false picture of something or someone, and then they attack it. How many times do we have to dismantle the negative press and false notions about Christianity? Maybe all Christians are hypocrites. Help them realize that out of 2 billion Christians, there are likely only a few who have hurt or disappointed them.

Remember that insults are not arguments: don’t focus on the insult but on the truth and reasonableness of your beliefs. While there may be many bad things that professing Christians have done, God still exists and has an ideal.

Slide7

There is an enemy of God and mankind, Satan. He is not the red suited figure with horns and a pitchfork, but an entity of evil that exists. We are wrestling with powers and principalities and spirits that affect hearts and minds (Ephesians 6:10). The goal of our enemy is to shut down the preaching of the gospel and the truth that God exists. It is vital that you not let persecution shut you down.

The apostles were told to stop speaking of the resurrection (Acts 4:20) but they could not stop speaking about what they had seen and heard and did so with BOLDNESS (Acts 4:29). The Romans did not like the fact that Christians claimed loyalty to another king, in fact, every knee would bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).

When you are told to stop, find creative ways to put in a good word for Jesus, his word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).

Slide8

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. 10 After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Cares and worries of the world can distract us from God’s purposes in our lives; we can lose focus on our mission to share the gospel. Don’t give up; negative reactions can take a toll on our self-image and sense of worth (Allan’s story in Curacao, no fruit yet remaining faithful).

Stay strong, one day people might recognize your genuine integrity and come to you during times of struggle for counsel and guidance.

Some people will see your life and they refuse to repent, just seeing you brings out their rebellion. Rather than be convicted by the truth, they will suppress the truth and in anger lash out at you.

Today there is more persecution toward Christians than in any other time in history. More believers were martyred for their faith in the 20th century than in 1900 years prior combined.

You would think that technology and globalization would allow greater tolerance and understanding to everyone, but the opposite has occurred. The claims of Christ have set him apart from all other faiths and that is the offense that caused mankind to stumble.

Keep this in mind… Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. (2 Timothy 3:12).

 

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Always Be Prepared

Today is the start of the God’s Not Dead series at King’s Grant. There are six lesson in this series; here are my teaching notes and PowerPoint slides.

Introductory Questions:
Do you every feel intimidated when talking to someone who does not believe as you do about the existence of God or the reality of salvation through Jesus Christ? Why is that?

Let me introduce you to Josh Wheaton, a freshman college student who signed up for a philosophy class and discovers that the professor is a strong and opinionated atheist who sets some ground rules for the class. He asks everyone in the class to write out on a piece of paper the words: GOD IS DEAD. Josh is a believers and you can see the conflict as he refuses to sign the paper. He needs this class, he wants to be faithful to God… (Video Clip)

Slide4

This is the most important part of your witness, your own commitment to Christ. We must be completely submitted to him.
Jesus said, “Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46)

When your heart is fully devoted to Jesus, it is a matter of discerning his will for your life, not just following our own feelings and opinions.

When Josh was told to sign that paper, his commitment to Christ meant the decision was already made. His girlfriend even tried to convince him to “sign the stupid paper.” He was tested to follow Christ or compromise on his beliefs.

Lord means, boss, the one in charge. When we don’t obey God’s Word, we are in danger of living hypocritical lives and becoming a stumbling block to others.

Slide5

This verse came up a few times in the film. It means that we must stand up and be identified as a believer, regardless of the consequences.

Josh’s decision to publically defend his faith was motived by this verse, Willie and Korie Robertson also brought up this verse when talking to a skeptical reporter.

Mina, (Professor Radisson’s girlfriend) was challenged by 2 Corinthians 6:14, to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. That Scripture is also clear on how to live our lives… we are called to obey God’s Word, not our feelings.

Imagine God’s church living out the truth and not just giving him lip service just on Sunday!

Slide6

We should always be ready to give reason for our hope. Of course, our testimony is always helpful; can we get it down to a quick two-minute testimony?

We may not be theologians but with a little effort to study and prepare See the diagrams below), we can help others find a true and fulfilling faith.

Josh didn’t start preparing with the challenge to teach the class, he was reading and studying since he was in junior high school (remember he met his girlfriend at a Christian concert six years before).

In his high school yearbook, he also referenced a quote from CS Lewis, “Only a real risk can test the quality of a belief.”

We get ready by learning the reasons to believe (the world God made, the complexity of living organisms, the sense of morality).

Atheists want to make us choose between faith and reason, yet the Christian faith is a rational belief system. Everyone’s faith is based on things that must be assumed. This is the essence of our worldview. When you believe there is nothing beyond nature, your worldview is called naturalism. If nature can’t explain it all, you view the world in a way that makes room for the supernatural.

Being ready forces us to have a basic understanding of the Bible and the Christian faith as a whole. The better you understand this truths, the easier you can explain them to someone else.

Slide7

Josh was challenged to defend his faith, but he did not act arrogantly or recklessly. He respectfully negotiated with the professor to have the class decide whether his defense of his faith was credible.

Wisdom is described as being more valuable than silver and gold.

As Josh was deciding on what to do, he went to the church to pray and seek guidance. He displayed wisdom by seeking counsel from his campus pastor, Dave, who reminded Josh about the importance of his witness to the class who might never go to church. Josh allowed the Bible to guide his feelings instead of his fears.

Slide8

In Josh’s first presentation, Professor Radisson asked him a question he could not answer. He was not defensive about his ignorance but simply said, “I don’t know.” We must not pretend to have all the answers to everyone’s questions.

You may not have a classroom situation to defend your faith, but you will enter into spiritual conversations with friends or random people you meet. Learning to ask good questions is more important than having the right answers. Some will be more open to the gospel when you show respect and value what they have to say.

Opposition: don’t take it personally. Who are they really opposing? Perhaps it is out of past bad experiences or misunderstandings. Kindness will diffuse someone in opposition more than emotional or intellectual arguments. A great question is, “How did you arrive at your beliefs?”

1 Peter 3:15 reminds us about gentleness and respect.

God honors our efforts as much as our successes. Don’t worry about falling short. Allow the Spirit to use us, depend on him to empower you to impact those around you.

Slide9

We CAN be both humble and confident at the same time. There is powerful evidence from science, history, and philosophy. Skeptics argue they can see no evidence for God in spite of what seems to be obvious and plain to those who believe (Romans 1:20).

People don’t doubt Christianity because the evidence points them away from reality, but they have chosen from the start to reject it. They filter everything they experience through the lens that God does not exist.

The Spirit gives us power and confidence (Acts 1:8).

Be confident in the change that God has done in your life. In the end, your personal testimony of God’s grace and mercy is more effective than all the theological debate in which you can engage.

Tools and Handouts:

Patterns-07-YourStory

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Give Up Everything?

This study is on the hard saying of Jesus about having to give up everything (Mark 10:17-31) Mark 10:21.

This is an amazing illustration of evangelism? Is this the Jesus method of evangelism?

  1. With what method are you most familiar?
  2. Which method appears to be most effective?
  3. What is the difference between sharing your story and sharing his story?

Imagine this evangelism encounter as a dream come true. The man point blank asks how to be saved!

  1. Jesus does not just hand him a tract and get him to pray the sinner’s prayer.
  2. Jesus does not correct the man’s theology, good works don’t save.
  3. This man had not come to Jesus to hear him say that keeping the commandments was the way to eternal life (Leviticus 18:5).

Why does Jesus tell him he can be saved by keeping the commandments?

  1. Jesus doesn’t mention belief or faith or grace, he says to keep the Law.
  2. Jesus seems to want to make it harder on the guy: he had not done enough.
  3. When was the last time you felt that there was always just one more thing that you need to do to be saved or please Jesus?
  4. In your theology, what is the relationship between what you believe and what you do?

Jesus said there was one more thing… but it was too hard for this guy to accept. (Read more about the Rich Young Ruler).

Why would the disciples be amazed at Jesus’ answer?

  1. The concept of God’s blessing: health, wealth, children, goats, all meant blessing.
  2. Those sick and poor, not so much.
  3. It would have made more sense for Jesus to say, “Blessed are the rich, blessed are the healthy, blessed are the comfortable.”
    • How do you define blessing? What about Jesus’ definition of blessing?
    • How does Christian persecution and martyrdom fit in to this definition?
    • How reliable is a world with a works/reward theology?

What must I DO to be saved? It is not about doing, it is about receiving. Trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

Notice that Jesus loved him before he asked him to do anything (Mark 10:21).

  1. Do you sometimes feel that Jesus will only love you after you follow him?
  2. Do you feel he is judging your performance; he will love you more if you do better?
  3. When you are well connected to Jesus, how is the rest of your life affected?
  4. In what ways do you feel you must prove yourself to God? How does that reflect other relationships in your life? (do you have to continually prove yourself to your friends)?

Let’s check our identity.

  1. What three things do you generally tell others about yourself?
  2. How important is career development in your identity?
  3. How many of your friends really know you, not just facts about you?

The Point: who am I? What are the markers that define who I am?

  1. This is the question Jesus was trying to get this man to ask? Who am I?
  2. People identified him the same us we do… the rich, young, ruler, but is that who he really was?
  3. Jesus saw much more, his core. Selling all he had would have stripped him of his identity.
  4. Only by stripping these away could he identify himself the way Jesus did.
  5. This question can only be answered at the point of crisis. When something is attached to your core and is taken out (health, achievement, wealth, career, family, life)… Who are you when all these are threatened?

In a previous story (Mark 10:13) Jesus says that these nobodies had a quality that was kingdom-worthy, something that escaped the rich man and the prosperous members of society. This is what we know, NOBODIES…

  1. Don’t come to God and offer contributions.
  2. Don’t tell God who they are.
  3. Don’t have a claim to their lives.
  4. Don’t rely on trivial marks of identity.

Key truth:

  1. Paul tells us that giving all we have to the poor is of no use, if we don’t have love (1 Corinthians 13:3).
  2. Matthew 19:21, “if you wish to be complete…” Perhaps Jesus was testing the man’s devotion because Jesus did not ask all of his followers to do this.
  3. What could he have sold?
    • Sell your self-righteousness.
    • Sell your dreams of fame and fortune.
    • Sell your popularity.
    • Sell your efforts to secure a comfortable future for yourself.

Other passages to consider:

  1. Others left all and followed him (Luke 8:3) women who were not asked to make such a sacrifice.
  2. Zacchaeus apparently took his action on his own (Luke 19:8), the language means, giving is something he was already doing or that he would now start, either fits.
  3. Don’t lay up treasures for yourselves (Matthew 6:19-21), this is not to an individual but to his followers in general, we must have the right priorities.

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What the Disciples Witnessed

Since the first disciples of Jesus watched Jesus so closely, believing him to be a person worth investigating, what did they actually observe?

What Did the Disciples Witness?

  1. Jesus focused evangelistic efforts on friends, John 1:40-41, 43-45.
  2. Jesus cast a vision of what people could be, John 1:42.
  3. Jesus refused to allow people to be exploited in church, John 2:14-17.
  4. Jesus allowed people to investigate his claims in the shadows, John 3:2.
  5. Jesus used a tailor-made approach to witnessing, John 3:1-21, 4:7-26.
  6. Jesus gave them an introductory exposure to the nature of his ministry, John 3:35-36.
  7. Baptism of new converts, John 4:1-2.
  8. Jesus demonstrated that prejudice does not stand in the way of ministry, John 4:4, 9, 27.
  9. Jesus challenged them to value the spiritual (eternal) over the physical (temporal), John 4:8, 31-34.
  10. Jesus challenged them to see the harvest, John 4:35.
  11. Jesus challenged them to consider the urgency of evangelism, John 4:35.
  12. Jesus introduced team evangelism, John 4:36-38.
  13. Jesus gave them time to embrace the vision, a great harvest of souls, John 4:43.

The Six Actual Commands at This Level

  1. COME and SEE (present imperative) John 1:39
  2. REPENT and BELIEVE, Mark 1:15
  3. DO NOT FEAR, Luke 12:5, 7
  4. BEWARE, BE ON YOUR GUARD, Luke 12:15
  5. BAPTIZING (present participle), Matthew 28:19
  6. LIFT UP and LOOK ON (aorist imperative), John 4:35

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

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Seekers Need Believers

I sensed the need to follow up with the topic from last week, on the warning of Jesus that many false Christs would come. When we look at the seekers of today, or the covers of news magazines, they seem to misunderstand who Jesus is, preferring non-biblical sources and writings over the tested and true authentic documents found in the New Testament. I mentioned the “recent” discoveries of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife promoted by Harvard Divinity School, or the Gospel of Judas.

The “Jesus’ Wife” fragment is just that, a fragment between the size of a postage stamp and an index card, which has been refuted as a fake. The Gospel of Judas is also quite questionable, casting a sympathetic light on the one whom Satan entered during that Passover meal. The point is, false Christs will come, so what did they or will they look like…

In examining the Thomas and Gundry Harmony of the Gospels, let’s take a look at what Jesus did at this stage with these very first disciples. Consider this, Seekers need a relationship with a believer who knows the Savior!

Jesus Warns of False Christs

  1. Development: They WILL arise – Mark 13:22
  2. Don’t preach ANOTHER Jesus – 2 Corinthians 11:2-4
  3. Deceivers will DENY – 2 John 1:7-8
  4. Dignity: it is a PRIVILEGE to introduce someone to Jesus, which is done in the context of relationship. Jesus invited these guys to hang out with him which provides time for questions & answers (spiritual conversations)

Jesus Built Relationships

  1. Jesus spends a day with two of John’s disciples, going back to where he was staying, John 1:39.
  2. Andrew brings his brother Peter to Jesus, John 1:41-42.
  3. Jesus capitalized on existing circles of friends he had already contacted, John 1:43-44.
  4. Jesus found Philip, then Philip invited Nathaniel to “Come and See.” John 1:45-46.
  5. Jesus took friends to a wedding reception, John 2:1-2.
  6. Jesus spends days with relatives & friends, John 2:12.
  7. Jesus’ disciples attend Passover (a national holiday) with Jesus, John 2:13-22.
  8. The disciples tag along during the meeting with Nicodemus, John 2:23-25, 3:1-10.
  9. Jesus spent time with the disciples in the Judean countryside – John 3:22.
  10. Jesus traveled from Judea to Galilee through Samaria – John 4:3-4, 27.

This is pretty good evidence that Jesus expects us to develop relationships with people who do not yet know the Savior. Here is a great quote from professor Howard Hendricks:

“You can impress people from a distance, you can only impact them up close.” -Howard Hendricks

General Principle: the closer the personal relationship, the greater the potential for impact (Leadership Journal, 1980, p. 104)

Jesus spent time with them (John 3:22), continued (diatribe), meaning “to wear by rubbing.” He intended to rub off their rough edges, by rubbing off on them.

[Based on my classes with Richard D. Leineweber, Jr. c. 2000]

 

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Why We Don’t Witness

For years, I have heard church leaders bemoan the reality that the majority of Christians never or rarely share their faith with unbelievers. Though declaring the good new of Jesus to others is the responsibility of every Christ-follower, few people in our churches embrace the holy assignment. Why?

In his book, Contagious, author and professor, Jonathan Berger, writes about how thinking and social influence spread, or “why things catch on.” In one chapter, he shares insights from a study that sought to discover why some online articles are shared more than other articles.

Several insights were gleaned, but the strongest discovery was that articles that drove a sense of awe into readers were 30 times more likely to make the list of “most shared articles.” Readers are much more likely to share articles that evoke a sense of awe.

Quite simply, we can’t help but spread news that we find amazing.

Though the book is on every marketing professional’s shelf, the chapter was convicting for me as a believer in Jesus Christ.

According to the research, if I am not sharing the gospel, it is because I have lost my sense of awe and appreciation for it.

The reason the majority of the people in our churches don’t share the gospel is not because they haven’t been through a course. Nor is it because they failed to participate in a training seminar.

Not sharing the gospel reveals a loss of awe about the depths to which He plunged to rescue us. Not sharing the faith with others reveals a loss of amazement that He gave us His righteousness for our sin.

If we are still in awe that the holy and eternal God of the universe would pursue us in our sinfulness, humble Himself and suffer in our place, become the curse for our sin, and absorb our punishment to give us His peace, then we can’t help but share this news. If we are convinced that the news about Jesus is truly good news, we can’t help but spread it.

When the religious leaders asked Peter and John, two of Jesus’ disciples, to stop speaking about Jesus, they replied, “We are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Their hearts were filled with awe for Jesus and His work for them; thus, there was no way they could be silent.

When Jeremiah considered not speaking for the Lord, he realized he could not hold the message inside without exploding: “If I say, ‘I won’t mention Him or speak any longer in His name,” His message becomes a fire burning in my heart, shut up in my bones. I become tired of holding it in, and I cannot prevail” (Jeremiah 20:9).

Whatever we find amazing, we share. We spread what we are in awe of.

By Eric Geiger

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Why We Avoid Small Groups

Before you read this short list, know that it is not my goal to create internal tension or to be judgmental. Do know this… a believer who is unwilling to spend time with other believers in a small group will not…

  1. Experience a meaningful relationship with Christ: Christianity is lived out in community.
  2. Become a mature follower of Christ: without other believers holding you accountable, you will drift.
  3. Have the knowledge or passion necessary to lead their children toward Christ and His church: since the example is set, the children will follow a poor example.
  4. Be unable to speak wisdom to other believers: wisdom is gained through knowledge and experience, so if there is no experience of community, one cannot speak to the needs to others apart from the small group.
  5. Be a witnesses for Christ on an ongoing basis: one’s walk speaks louder than one’s talk, believing at a distance tells others that you are not “all in” to this Christianity stuff.

And so… I share the following five reasons that believers don’t join a small group:

  1. They don’t want to have an intimate relationship with Christ: most will prefer just enough of Jesus to get by rather than be totally committed.
  2. They don’t want to become a mature disciple: they prefer to just believe the right stuff and pay their dues by showing up to church, but don’t want to be a fanatic disciple of Jesus… that might be uncomfortable.
  3. They don’t care if their children become Christians: or attend church when they’re adults, or if their grandchildren are separated from them and Christ for eternity: if you are not excited about your relationship with Jesus, I guarantee that your kids have less of a chance to experience him in any real way. What we hand down to the next generation is caught more than taught.
  4. They don’t care about the other group members: it’s more than just going to a group in order to get something out of it, it’s about being there to help others be all they can be in the Lord. The group is designed to encourage, lift up and bear the burdens of ONE ANOTHER.
  5. They don’t care if Christianity in the west dies with their generation: Christianity is always just one generation from extinction, so what are we passing on to the next group of believers? The American church is stunted if we pass on a comfortable, me-centered, uncommitted and casual faith in a set of theological propositions.

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Ways to Tell Your Story

We often believe that evangelism is only for pastors and my Sunday School teacher, but when we begin to realize that we are simply telling our story, the pressure melts away. We need to become tour guides helping people on a spiritual journey more than salesmen trying to close the deal.

Quotes:

Lord, make me a crisis man. Let me not be a mile-post on a single road, but make me a fork that men must turn one way or an other in facing Christ in me. — Jim Elliot

Knowing that we are fulfilling God’s purpose is the only thing that really gives rest to the restless human heart. — Charles Colson

Top 10 Ways to Tell Your Story:

  1. Keep a running journal of your journey with Jesus.
  2. Share your turning points in your story with your close friends.
  3. Look for the felt needs in people who live and work around you.
  4. Look for people who are different from you (ethnically, socioeconomically, culturally) and listen to their stories and share yours.
  5. In your relationships, don’t just share truths; share your story of learning truth.
  6. Consider how God interweaves your story with the stories of others.
  7. Travel through third-world countries to enlarge your view of the human story.
  8. Study the stories of biblical heroes to apply their lessons to your story.
  9. Earn the right to speak by being a great listener.
  10. As you share your story, always be respectful of other people’s stories.

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