Monday, April 30, 2012

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just a Thought: Self-Flattery

‎"All flattery is dangerous; self-flattery is more dangerous; but self-flattery in the business of salvation, is the most dangerous of all." - John Flavel

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Intolerance of "Tolerance Worshipers"

In this video, students (and maybe a few professors) at Indiana University embarrass themselves and their school. Those who try to shout-down Pastor Doug Wilson exhibit the intolerance of "Tolerance Worshipers."

Let it be known that the vial, angry, shrill, immature, hypocritical, and unreasonable students in this video are neither representative of all IU students and faculty, nor are they representative of all atheists. Some atheists can be very cordial, friendly, and reasonable.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"Born Again"

We received a question from one of our "On the Box" viewers. He asked, "How would you define the term 'born again.'"

What follows is the what Eddie and I presented on the April 17, 2012, edition of the show. Suffice to say, the following outline is not exhaustive, either in its points or Scripture references. But each point and each Scripture reference given below is important for having a right understanding of what it means to be "born again." Furthermore, those Christians who proclaim the gospel in the open-air, or those who share the gospel in one-to-one conversations, should have a working knowledge of what follows so that he or she is equipped to rightly and concisely explain the term "born again" to the person with whom they are speaking.

  • How would you define the term “born again?”
    • The term literally means “to be born from above”
    • Salvation is of the Lord
      • “Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah” (Psalm 3:8)
    • Salvation is by grace alone
      • “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
    • Through faith alone
      • “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith’” (Romans 1:17).
    • In Jesus Christ alone
      • “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’” (John 14:6)
    • Salvation is the work of God.
      • Salvation is not based on man’s self-righteous good deeds
        • “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7)
      • Salvation belongs to God
        • “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’ And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God" (Revelation 19:9-11).
      • God causes a person to be “born again”
        • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).
      • Left to his own sinful devices, man will not seek after God
        • “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one. Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive. The venom of asps is under their lips. Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes’” (Romans 3:10-18).
    • Salvation is through the Cross of Christ
      • Through His propitiation
        • “But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Romans 3:21-26)
        • “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).
        • “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world . . . In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:2; 4:10)
        • “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities[b] and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Colossians 2:13-15).
      • No one can or will come to Christ unless God the Father draws him
        • “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44).
      • Those whom God draws to Himself through Christ will repent and believe the gospel.
        • “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” (Mark 1:14-15).
        • “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish’” (Luke 13:1-5).
        • “Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved’” (Romans 10:9-13).
    • Those who are born again are no longer:
      • Dead in their sins
        • “And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind” (Ephesians 2:1-3).
      • Spiritually Blind
        • “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14)
    • Those who are born again have, as evidence of their salvation:
      • A new heart
        • “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 35:26-27).
      • A desire to love Christ and obey His commands
        • “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
      • The fruits of the Spirit
        • “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Galatians 5:22-23).
    • Those who are born again will neither fall away nor lose their salvation:
      • “Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:21-22).
      • “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one” (John 10:28-30).
      • "I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:20-26).
      • “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
    • Those who are born again are a new creation in Christ Jesus
      • “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Just a Thought: Taking the Sometimes Painful High Road of Humility

In light of recent, challenging events, I found this quote from David Brainerd to be timely and encouraging.

“God has made me willing to do anything that I can do, consistent with truth, for the sake of peace, and that I might not be a stumbling block to others. For this reason I can cheerfully forego and give up what I verily believe, after the most mature and impartial search, is my right, in some instances. God has given me that disposition that, if this were the case that a man has done me a hundred injuries and I (though ever so much provoked by it) have done him one, I feel disposed and heartily willing humbly to confess my fault to him, and on my knees to ask forgiveness of him; though at the same time he should justify himself in all the injuries he has done me and should make use of my humble confession to blacken my character the more and represent me as the only person guilty.” ~ David Brainerd

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mall Evangelism (Week 1)

My brothers and sisters with the NorCal Seedsowers, who herald the gospel in the greater San Jose, CA, area, have the best mall evangelism ministry I know of. Their mall ministry operates in the open, with the blessing of the malls in which they minister. Here in California, by operating within mall policy, teams like the NorCal Seedsowers enjoy hours of public proclamation of the gospel, through the distribution of Christian literature and one-to-one conversations.

The community in which I live (Santa Clarita, CA) is commonly referred to as a "planned community." As such, most of the areas where people gather are areas that are privately owned, but open to the public--areas such as our ever-growing mall complex. More often than not, I have to travel outside Santa Clarita to open-air preach. This is one of the reasons I started carrying a cross in town.

For years, I've operated covertly in our mall--entering quietly, always watching for security, and very selective regarding with whom I initiate a conversation or to whom I give a tract. Frankly, I was lazy. With the laws in California so favorable toward free speech in privately-owned areas open to the public, I could have avoided all of the expended energy and wasted time trying to operate outside the malls' rules if I had simply went to mall management and asked to set up what is known as a "public access table."

So, having been encouraged and inspired long enough by the efforts of the NorCal Seedsowers, I went to the mall to talk to management about setting up a public access table. To my surprise, the process was almost too easy. Because of my suspicious nature, I wondered, "What's the catch?"

But there was no catch. The completion of a one-page application and the selection of Friday nights throughout the rest of the year, and I was set.

I really enjoy trying to add new and innovative ways to bring the gospel to the lost to my tool box--carrying a cross, stoplight preaching, a Prayer Stand. These have proven productive, while other innovations have not. Last night was my first time setting up a sanctioned evangelism table at the Valencia Town Center, and the Lord truly blessed the effort.

Ivan was the first to approach our table last night. From the Dominican Republic, and only temporarily in the United States for his employer, Ivan had a Christian background and, according to him, was on a search for truth. The opportunity to share the gospel with Ivan marked the beginning of what would be a very productive, gospel-centered evening at the mall.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Press On!

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.
Philippians 3:12-16

Today, Pastor John MacArthur, issued an official statement regarding Pastor Jesse Johnson's Shepherds Conference message, The Way(s) of the Master. Pastor MacArthur's statement, which is accompanied by an introductory and closing statement by Living Waters, already appears to be going viral on the social networks and the blogosphere.

While there may later be carefully worded rebuttals to Pastor MacArthur's statement--carefully worded out of respect for Pastor MacArthur and his 40+ years of faithful pastoral ministry and exposition of the Word of God--the initial response to Pastor MacArthur's statement has been very positive. Some have expressed relief, as if they have been waiting with bated breath for Pastor MacArthur's response. I know. I've been one of them.

I not only felt a personal sense of theological and practical vindication as a result of Pastor MacArthur's public statement; I was also edified by the fatherly, pastoral wisdom with which he graciously made suggestions for theological growth and maturation for Living Waters and for those who employ the biblical evangelism principles taught through The Way of the Master. His support of the ministry with which I serve is a great encouragement to me.

This situation, resulting from Pastor Johnson's sermon, has been the topic of both civil and uncivil discourse--some seven weeks of conversation (the conversation actually began before Pastor Johnson preached the sermon). But it's time to move on.

This is not to say we should not continue to study the Word of God on all matters pertaining to doctrine and the application of doctrine in our lives and ministries. Again, I found Pastor MacArthur's words of counsel instructive. The moment we stop learning, the moment we think we have it all figured out, is the moment the Lord should take us home. For it is at that moment that we become too prideful and arrogant to be of any use to Him. But it's time to move on.

The use of the Ten Commandments (a summary of God's Moral Law, which is a reflection of His perfectly holy character) in evangelism was biblical before Pastor Johnson's message. It was biblical during his message as he presented his case. And it remains biblical in the aftermath of his message. It's time to move on.

So I want to encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ--those courageous and loving men and women who risk more than just their reputation (inside and outside the church)--who faithfully proclaim the law and the gospel on the streets, in the workplace, in their friendly relationships, and even in their homes. Press on!

Forget what lies behind and press on. Move forward with all of the strength the Lord has given you (Philippians 4:13), facing head-on whatever lies ahead, and press on.

Press on toward the goal for the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Press on. Press on to glorify Christ in every area of your life, not just in the area of evangelism. But do, indeed, press on to herald the gospel of Jesus Christ, bringing the law to the proud and the grace of God to the humble. Do not be discouraged. Do not be dismayed. Do not be dissuaded from obediently doing that which God has commanded every believer to do--preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15); make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:18-20); and be the witnesses of Christ throughout the world (Acts 1:8).

Press on and proclaim Christ (Colossians 1:28). Warn everyone of God's impending wrath against sin. Wisely teach everyone you can the gospel of Jesus Christ, with the hope that everyone who hears will--by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone--one-day be presented mature before Him. It is Him we proclaim. Press on!

Press on. Love your neighbor (Mark 12:31). Love your enemy (Matthew 5:43-48). Love Christ enough to deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). Love your pastors and elders (1 Timothy 5:17; Hebrews 13:17). Love your church family (John 13:34; 15:12). And press on to bring the law the gospel--law to the proud and grace to the humble (James 4:6)--to everyone who needs to hear. Press on!

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ--faithful witnesses, ambassadors, and heralds of Christ--I love you. I am honored to serve alongside you in announcing the imminent return of our soon and coming King, through the proclamation of His gospel.

Together, let us press on!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just a Thought: Total Depravity and Total Inability

The only thing stopping an unregenerate man or woman from being a Hitler, Bin Laden, Stalin, Dahmer, or Manson is the restraining hand of the common grace of God.

Understand this. Before you came to faith in Christ, from your infancy, while you were not (and are not still) as depraved as you could be, you were nonetheless born a depraved hater of God. And everyone you know who does not know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior is, to this day and every day, regardless of how you feel about them or what you think about them, is a depraved hater of God with no inherent ability or desire to love and obey the Christ--the Son of the Living God.

To give your unregenerate friend or loved one the benefit of the doubt, to wishfully think that they will some way, somehow, apart from the drawing hand, effectual call, and irresistible grace of God turn away from their depraved love for sin (which they lap up like water and instinctively eat like a dog returning to feed on its vomit); may, in the end, result in a lack of urgency on your part to present them with the gospel of Jesus Christ--their only means of change and salvation.

Without an understanding of and appreciation for the sinfulness of sin and the depraved nature of every human being, you may errantly believe, on some level and at some time, your friends and loved ones have, in and of themselves, the ability to seek after God, the want for the forgiveness of God, the determination to turn toward God, and the desire to be reconciled with God. As a result, in word and deed--if not in thought, you may withhold the only thing that has the power of God to save--the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Your belief in your friends' or loved ones' goodness, common sense, and ability to repent on their own may leave you waiting for the day they choose God, as they perish in their sin. They will leave this world as they entered it--naked, clothed only in the filth of their evil, wretched, depraved, and sinful flesh. You may hope, as you look at their casket, they came to their senses on their own and repented as an outworking of their own will before they died, to ameliorate your sense of guilt for not sharing the gospel with them. You may trust they did something they were utterly unable to do--cooperate with God in their salvation. They will leave this world as they entered it--haters of God. And they will continue to hate God from their torturous place in Hell, for all eternity.

Understand the depravity and inability of all mankind, including yourself, to seek God apart from faith in and the love of Jesus Christ. Understand repentance and faith in Jesus Christ are gifts from God, not abilities of man. Understand the power to save men lies with God alone and His gospel. And you will evangelize your friends, loved ones, and the strangers you meet with a greater sense of urgency and with a deeper love for people and your God.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just a Thought: Tolerance

The world's definition of "tolerance" demands compromise--the acceptance of that which is evil, to the point of calling it good. The Bible's definition of "tolerance" demands love--the acceptance of those who are evil, to the point of directing them to the One who is good and able to save their souls.

Just a Thought: The Upcoming Presidential Election

If we can learn anything from this year's presidential election, based on the qualities of the challengers and the incumbent from which we have to choose, it is this: as with Israel of old, God is punishing the United States of America by giving her the leadership she wants (1 Samuel 19-22). He is exercising His holy wrath of abandonment against a nation that has turned away from Him and hates Him (Romans 1:18-32). Join me in praying for our nation. Pray the United States of America repents of her wickedness and unholy standards and turns to Jesus Christ.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Crosswalk Beginnings: Mike Peek

"Crosswalk Beginnings" is a new series. In this series, brothers and sisters in Christ, from around the world share their testimonies of how they started carrying an "Are You Ready?"-type cross on the streets, of their communities. The testimony of Mike Peek, is the first in this series.

If you carry an "Are You Ready?"-type cross, and would like to share the story of how and why you got started, please email me your testimony. And please include a picture of either your cross, or you carrying your cross.

My name is Mike Peek I live in a small town next to Tyler, TX.

Sometime this past year I read a blog post by you titled, "Why I carry a Cross." The Lord used that article to move me. I have progressed in evangelism through one-on-one witnessing, using the WOTM, and handing out of gospel tracts; but the Spirit was stirring within me, for me to do more in spreading His gospel. So I went out and bought the materials, made a cross, stained it; then I made a mistake, I told my friends and family what I planned to do with the cross.

After much discouragement, the cross sat in my garage unused. The morning of 1/29/2012, I saw a facebook post by Shawn Hole and how he and his brothers had been attacked while open air preaching in Nepal; and here I am in church singing “I surrender all to You.” I knew I wasn't surrendering all, and I could stand it no longer.

I told my church through a blog that I was going to do just that and my pastor, to my surprise, was supportive. After much prayer, I set out. I would continue with one-on-one witnessing and passing out of tracts everywhere I go. But, in addition to that, I would do something purposeful at least once a week to evangelize our community for Christ.

There sat that cross in my garage unused. So, I set out that week with the cross and stood at the corner of Rice and Broadway, in Tyler, Texas, for one hour. I knew it was the right thing to do.

I have now been out a minimum of once a week since that day. I did not put ‘Are You Ready’ on the cross because I figured "that’s Tony’s." I need to come up with my own. So, on my cross I have "Jesus" on the left of the main beam and "Christ" on the Right. Down the main beam, "Mercy Seat." This is in direct reference to Romans 3:24-25, which I think is the most important passage in all of Scripture.

Yesterday, while out with the cross, I was talking with God and thinking about how I could talk with more people. It occurred to me that the question "Are You Ready?" is a great conversation starter.

I plan on doing something I have never done before. I plan, God willing to go down to the Smith County court house in Tyler, Texas, on the sidewalk, on the morning of good Friday, as people are coming to court. I am going to read John 19 (the trial and crucifixion our Lord Jesus Christ), and then preach the law and the gospel. It will be my first open-air.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Most Important Word in the Bible

In light of a recent conversation I had on Facebook regarding the heretical teachings of some relatively well-known street evangelists, I've decided to share a sermon I preached in 2007 titled: "The Most Important Word in the Bible." The texts for the sermon is Romans 3:24-26 and Isaiah 53:10-11.

Two of the most important doctrines in the Christian faith (Penal Substitutionary Atonement and Imputed Righteousness) are being attacked by street preachers who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. They claim to know and represent the Savior while attacking His life-saving, life-giving work on the cross.

Shortly after preaching the sermon, I received the following note from a brother in Christ who has since gone home to be with the Lord.
Dear Tony:

This was without a doubt the most moving and meaningful words I have ever heard you preach. It was on a subject that has been a recent struggle for me. Basically I was finding it to be too astonishing that God loved me this much. Thus I felt I was stumbling somehow in a way I could not even make clear in my mind. I misunderstood whether or not my trust in the Lord was faltering. Psalm 139 helped me to realize that God knows me more than I do by a very long shot. I knew I trusted God but I was trembling in my boots.

Propitiation has confused me a lot ever since I read "Knowing God" by J. I. Packer. I believed it but with difficulty. Well my heart opened some more this morning on hearing your words from the Word of God. God has blessed you and all who heard or will hear these words. It is thrilling to have found that this is now an audio file on my iMac and I'm listening to it now. I will do this often to keep my mind as clear as possible from my own shortcomings.

You through our Lord have managed to give the clearest help I have had on this very important topic and it's implications for my life. It is fair to say the I have been changed further and deeper in my path to be with Christ and to love Him even more because He took on all that FURY from His Father in Heaven. And for who? for us who believe, are born again, repent and have faith in Him. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for this message of help and hope.

Ken Scott
I hope you will take the time to listen to this sermon. And I pray it will encourage you a further equip you to recognize false teaching and false teachers when it comes to these eternally-important doctrines.

Click here to listen.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Offering a Future Hope

To God and God alone be all the praise, honor and glory. For He alone is worthy. May the story that follows draw the reader's attention to Jesus Christ the Lord.

The family and I were heading home from our weekly Life Group meeting. It's the time of week when we get to study the Word of God with members of our church family and develop deeper relationships with them. Mahria was driving, so I took the time to check emails in my ministry account.

My attention was immediately drawn to an email from an old and dear friend. The subject line: "I don't know if you can do this."

We first met about twenty-three years ago. We were both deputy sheriffs. He had a few years seniority on me. When we met, I had been a Christian for less than a year, and he was a worldly and cynical "Jack Mormon." In spite of the fact that he thought it was sporting fun to challenge my Christian beliefs on a daily basis, it didn't take long for us to find common ground and a friendship was born.

My friend, by the sovereign grace and will of God, would come to genuine repentance and faith in Jesus Christ--in spite of what I'm sure was a weak gospel presentation on my part. My theological inadequacies as a babe-in-the-faith just go to show that salvation is of the Lord, and not something that can be manipulated or screwed up by man.

My friend would remarry his wife, and I had the privilege of standing as his Best Man. We would attend seminary together. We both retired from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department to pursue full-time ministerial service. He graduated and became the associate pastor of a fine church.

The email from my friend was urgent. His dad, himself a retired deputy sheriff, is dying of cancer. The day of the email was a particularly bad day for my friend's dad--so bad that the family thought he might only have days to live. My friend made a simple and terrifying request in his email.
He is no longer in ICU. They moved him out yesterday. However, he seems to have lost his will to live since they moved him. Now, could I (and my Mom) be wrong? Yes. But, if there is anyone willing to preach the Gospel to him one last time, I would be so thankful. I know it’s a long drive. If you can’t do it, I completely understand. It could be the most miserable and brief experience of your life even if you went up there. I just can’t stop thinking about Dad spending eternity in hell. If he had any idea what that transformation will be like, he would be fighting with all of his officer safety mindset to not die.
The simple request: share the gospel with my friend's dad. The terrifying request: share the gospel with my friend's dad.

I've shared the gospel with deputies in patrol cars. I've shared the gospel with people handcuffed in the backseat of my patrol car. I've shared the gospel with an LAPD officer who had me handcuffed. I've shared the gospel with the loved ones of slain officers--inside and outside of hospital settings. I've shared the gospel with the dying mother-in-law of a former gang unit partners and friend.

But this was different. For me, this was the evangelistic perfect storm.

My friend's dad had been a respected member of the sheriff's department. He was instrumental in the formation of our department's Special Enforcement Bureau (SEB), which is referred to as SWAT on other departments. He was, as I was told, an angry atheist. He was a dying man. He had no idea who I was. And he had no idea I might be coming to see him.

I have received several requests like the one I received from my friend--to visit a friend or loved one in the hospital, with the expressed purpose of sharing the gospel with them. More often than not, the requests come from well-intentioned brothers and sisters in Christ who wanted me to do what they were unwilling (too fearful) to do themselves. They were unwilling to get on a plane, get in a car, or get on the computer to send an email to share the gospel with their ill, injured, or dying friend or loved one.

While it may seem unusual, even cold to some, I do not fulfill such requests. I gently but firmly let the requesting person know it is their responsibility, as a follower of Christ, to share the gospel with their friends and loved ones. It is disobedient to Christ and bordering on cowardice to ask someone else to follow the command Christ has given to every Christian--to go and make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:18-20).

My friend's request, however, was not this kind of request. He had shared the gospel with his dad on more than one occasion. My friend's request was not made with the intent to disobey Christ or to pass off to someone else what he himself was unwilling to do. He knew his dad was going to die--maybe soon. He knew what would happen to his dad if he died. He knew he would spend eternity in Hell, as the just punishment for his sins against God. And he knew he might not get to his dad before his dad past from here to eternity.

My friend asked me to go share the gospel with his dad because he loves his dad and he loves his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So, Friday afternoon I left Living Waters and made the long drive to the hospital. The drive gave me plenty of time to pray, worship and praise, and plan.

I pulled into the hospital parking lot. There I sat for what seemed like several minutes, praying more and working up the courage to get out of the car and enter the hospital. As I stepped out of the car, I decided to grab a Bible out of the trunk. I added an inscription that read:
Jim (not his real name),
Your son loves you.
I placed one of my business cards inside the Bible where the inscription was written to make sure Jim would see it when he opened the Bible to remove the business card.

I walked into the hospital and made my way up to Jim's room. I walked toward the open door of Jim's room and made an immediate right turn down the hall, walking away from the room. I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I had seen several people in the room as I walked by, including a couple of children. "Was I going into a possible evangelistic firefight with kids in the room?" I thought. "Not good."

I waited for about fifteen minutes, hoping the other people (presumably family members) would leave the room. They didn't leave.

Then it dawned on me. There were two beds in the room. I asked a nurse in which bed was Jim. She indicated Jim's bed was the one nearest the window, which was not the one around which the people in the room were gathered.

It was now or never.

I made my way into the room and around the curtain that separated the two beds. Jim was awake and sitting up in his bed. His chin was against his chest and his breathing seemed a bit labored. Without raising his chin from his chest, he looked up at me.

I introduced myself, explained to Jim my connection with his son, and handed him the Bible.

"I would like to give this to you, on behalf of your son."

He opened the Bible at the page where I placed my business card and read the inscription. "That's really nice. Thank you."

"My pleasure."

There were a couple moments of awkward silence.

"Your son tells me that you are not very fond of that book." I said.

"Nah. I'm an atheist."

Another couple moments of awkward silence.

"Can I ask you a question?" I asked.


"Let's say you were my FTO (Field Training Officer). And I was your boot (slang for a patrol trainee). And I'm one of those boots who thinks he has it all figured out."

An almost sarcastic smile appeared on Jim's face. Seeing Jim's smile, I said, "Yeah, you know the kind of trainee I'm talking about." I continued. "Let's say you decide I'm far enough along in my training to let me drive. You decide that we are going to pull-over a car. You know, with certainty, the driver of the car is armed. Since I'm driving, I'm going to approach the driver. Would you let me approach the car not knowing the driver is armed? Or would you warn me of the danger?"

"Well, if I didn't like you..." Jim said with a chuckle.

"I know what you did in your career. I think you were too professional to let your partner walk into danger. Even if you didn't like me, I'm still a brother behind the badge."

"Yeah. Yeah. You're right."

"So, you would warn me of the danger, right?"


I pointed at the Bible now on Jim's lap and said, "And that's why I'm here, today. I know you and your son have talked about these things before. But your son loves you and so he asked me to come and talk to you."

I asked Jim why he didn't believe in God. He told me that if someone could prove to him that God exists, then he would believe. While on some level Jim may have believed what he was saying, I knew it wasn't true. I knew proving the existence of God to Jim would not cause him to repent and believe. No one comes to the Christ unless God the Father draws the person to Himself (John 6:44). His mere intellectual assent to the truth of God's existence would not cause Him to be born again (James 2:19). I also knew there was absolutely no need to prove the existence of God to Jim because he already knew in both his mind and heart God exists (Romans 1:18-23).

With the above in mind, I wanted to see Jim's reaction. So I said, "I believe I can prove to you God exists." 

Jim smiled. "Go ahead."

"Jim, how do you know someone built this hospital? After all, you didn't see it built?"

"Oh, this part of the hospital was built in 1910!" A nurse excitedly volunteered.

"See, Jim. It was built before either one of us was born." I said. "Do you think the glass, metal, brink and mortar, paint and steel evolved over millions of years into this hospital?"


"Do you think the smile of the Mona Lisa evolved over millions of years? Do you think the paint threw itself up on the canvas to form one of the world's most famous paintings?"


"Jim, all you have to do is look at creation to know there is a Creator. But Jim, I believe you already know that. Does that make sense?"

"I guess so."

Jim tried to hide his concession to the truth behind a doubtful and stubborn facade. But I think he and I both knew it wasn't working.

I had to fight back a chuckle as I saw the family members of the other patient in Jim's room slowly move away from the patient's bed so they could get a better look at and listen to my conversation with Jim. The scene was becoming a mini open-air.

"Jim, do you question God's existence because of all the evil in the world, because of all the evil you have seen man commit against his fellow man?"

He nodded his head.

"If God exists (and I know that, and I understand that you don't believe that)--if God exists, do you think he should punish murderers, rapists, and pedophiles?"


"I agree. But God is not going to stop there, Jim. God is also going to punish the liar, and the thief, and the adulterer, and the blasphemer. Because is perfect, holy, righteous, and just He is going to punish all sin; not just the ones we don't like."

I let Jim think about that for a minute.

"Jim, it's almost 5 o'clock. If God were to rid the world of all evil at 5:01, where would that leave you?"

Jim didn't answer.

"Jim, have you ever been sued for something you did on the job?"


"Not once?"


"Wow, I thought for sure working SEB for ten years would have resulted in at least a couple of lawsuits. I was sued six times during my time on the department. None of the suits amounted to anything. Only one actually made it to court, and the department won the case.

"Thinking back to those lawsuits, it reminds me of the one place deputy sheriffs never want to find themselves--sitting at the defense table. We're used to sitting at the prosecution table, trying to put a knucklehead in jail. But the last place we want to be is at the defense table, waiting to be judged by twelve people who were not smart enough to get out of jury duty."

Jim nodded his head and smiled.

I explained to Jim that it is appointed for a man to die once, and then face judgment (Hebrews 9:27). I explained to him the standard by which God, the supreme Judge of the Universe, will judge--His moral law.

"Jim, like me, you probably spent a lot of time in court."

Jim nodded.

"Maybe you heard this saying in the courts. 'Any man who goes into court to defend himself has a fool for a client.'"

Jim nodded again.

"Jim, the same is true when we stand before God. Any man who stands before God and thinks he is going to argue a case for his own goodness has a fool for a client. Jim, when a judge hands down a sentence in a court of law, does it matter at all what the guilty criminal thinks about the judge or the law?"


"That's right. It doesn't matter what the criminal thinks about the judge or the law. What matters is what the judge thinks about the criminal."

In order to transition to the gospel, I put Jim in a courtroom scenario, in which he was a deputy sheriff accused of breaking the law who now found himself sitting at the defense table. From there I shared the gospel with him. I told him about the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ--the God Man. I explained to him the judicial nature of God's justification of sinners, the propitiation of Jesus Christ, repentance and faith, and the forgiveness of sin through Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection. 

"Jim, I was the on-scene chaplain for ten of the line-of-duty deaths, on our department. One was Jake Kuredjian. I worked with Jake at Santa Clarity Valley Station. After Jake's death, our station decided to build a memorial garden behind the station, in honor of Jake's sacrifice and in his memory. The brass asked me to come up with a verse to place on the memorial plaque. I chose John 15:13. It says, 'Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.'

"Jake's sacrifice is an illustration of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross. But Jesus did not only die for his friends. He also died for His enemies--for those who hate Him."

I let Jim think about that for a moment.

My friend had told me he believed the hardness of his dad's heart was due, in part, to what he suspected was his dad's belief that his life of sin was too great, too terrible to forgive.

"Jim, do you realize there is nothing you have done in this life that God cannot forgive? Some people have asked, 'How can the sacrifice of one Man forgive the sins of so many?' The answer is simple. That one Man, Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, is infinitely more precious, more valuable than all of mankind--past, present, and future--put together. Jesus Christ will forgive you, Jim, if you repent and receive Him as your Lord and Savior."

It was at that moment I thought I saw tears in Jim's eyes.

"Will you at least think about what I've shared with you?" I asked.

"Yeah." Jim said with a smile. "But it won't do any good."

"I have more hope than that, Jim."

We spent a few more minutes "talking shop."

As I said goodbye, I took Jim's hand and held it. I told him that I loved his son, so that meant I loved him, too. I told him I would be praying for him. Jim thanked me for coming to visit him.

I left Jim's room doing everything I could not to burst into loud praise and worship to my great God and King. I waited until I got in the car to do that. It was a wonderful drive home.

I could have told Jim that God has a wonderful plan for his life. I could have told Jim that God wanted him to have and live his best life now or to treat every day as if it were Friday. I could have promised Jim health, wealth, and prosperity. I could have promised Jim signs and wonders. I could have tried to lead Jim in a sinner's prayer.

Of course, I didn't do any of those things. Why? None of them are biblical. And these empty and unbiblical offers would have been utter foolishness to a man who was about to die, maybe in days.

What I did offer Jim was real hope, the only hope that mattered. I offered Jim a future hope--one that can only be found by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. I offered Jim that which only Christ can give--forgiveness of his sins and eternal life with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit--the one true God.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. ~ 1 Peter 1:3-9
Join me in praying for Jim's salvation.