Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mail Bag: How Do I Speak with Sensitivity about Hell?

I received the following email from Alexandre, who lives in Quebec.
Dear Mr. Miano, in Christ Jesus our only Lord,

My question had to do with the proper use of the doctrine of hell in evangelism.

What if we encounter in our preaching, let's say, a man whose precious children were just murdered, and he asks us: where are my children now? Then we answer him, "It is too late for them and that they are in hell for all eternity," that he should repent lest he joins them in eternal punishment. Then that man, being horrified beyond measure by our "cruel" answer and taking it very personally, thinks and says (unjustly) the God we are preaching is worse then the murderer who killed his children, that he feels doubly victimized now. And that the preachers are psychologically abusive. Well, you see the picture. It is the question of how we should answer in our preaching to people inquiring about dead relatives, a dead spouse, dead parents, dead children, dead friends, etc., confessing the truth in love, without compromising the Gospel and being ready to suffer for it, and making a right use of the doctrine of hell.

How shall we handle that doctrine with care, to honor the Lord and suffer for the truth? How shall we exhort people not to sinfully attach themselves to dead relatives instead of returning to their Maker in Christ alone, by grace alone, through faith alone? This is very emotional and sensitive. What says Scripture? And what is your experience about this?

Thank you very much for your time, blessings in Christ Jesus our only Lord.
Alexandre, you ask a great question, and I appreciate the spirit with which you ask the question. I also find some of what you wrote most troubling, indeed, which I will address. Ultimately, I understand your question to be this. How do we honestly, uncompromisingly, directly, and lovingly communicate the reality of Hell.

Hell-Fire Preachers

There are some open-air preachers who give the biblical discipline of open-air preaching a bad name. Their disdain for the lost, while touting their own self-righteousness is deplorable and a sinful misrepresentation of Jesus Christ. Some street preachers of the same ilk insist they are not sinners and deny the God of the Bible by denying His attributes such as His omniscience. Yes, "hell-fire" preachers like these are a blight on the open-air preaching community.

Let's not give unwarranted power to "hell-fire" preachers. Let's not assign to them any unbiblical and unreal authority. God is sovereign. The "hell-fire" preachers are not. Their lack of love for the lost, their use of God's Law as a sledge hammer instead of a mirror (1 Timothy 1:8-11), their attempts to veil their self-righteousness under the guise of serving as Christ's "humble" ambassadors will not snatch a single soul from God's hand (John 10:28-29).

No man can thwart God's plan for the Universe, for the world, or for the individual person. Nothing can separate a person from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus the Lord, if God has eternally predetermined to save that person (Romans 8:38-39). Bad preaching might serve to bolster the unbeliever's false assertion that there is no God--an assertion no unbeliever really believes (Romans 1:18)--but bad preaching will not push anyone away from God. Bad preaching may serve to provide unbelievers with excuses for their unbelief, even though they are utterly without excuse (Romans 1:20), but it will not push them into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 21:8). Apart from faith in Jesus Christ, the unbeliever is condemned already (John 3:18) and the wrath of God abides on them (John 3:36).

The fact that some professing Christians communicate the Doctrine of Hell to unbelievers in unbiblical ways is no excuse for genuine followers of Christ to give up such important communicative ground to false teachers, false preachers, and false prophets. If you really want people to go to Heaven, then you will warn them about Hell (Jude 1:20-23).

The Doctrine of Hell Must be Preached

Bad preachers and bad preaching aside, the Doctrine of Hell must be communicated when sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost--whether in an open-air setting, in a one-to-one conversation, or in the writing and distribution of gospel tracts. No other reason, no other justification is necessary to talk about Hell and warn people about Hell than this. Jesus did it. Jesus talked about Hell. Jesus warned people about Hell (Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:29-30; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 18:9; Matthew 23:13; Matthew 23:33).

Charles Spurgeon wrote:
"Our dear Redeemer, whose lips are as lilies dropping sweet-smelling myrrh, in great tenderness of heart warned men of the sure result of their sins; and none used stronger or more alarming language than he did concerning the future of ungodly men. He knew nothing of that pretended sympathy which will rather let men perish than warn them against perishing. Such tenderness is merely selfishness excusing itself from a distasteful duty." 1914.433
Since the days of God the Son's preaching on earth the apostles, church fathers, great heralds of old, and today's generation of faithful open-air preachers have spoken the truth in love--all of God's truth. They did not and they do not shy away from warning people of God's eternal prison of torment--Hell. For example, John Wesley posited these words regarding the reality of Hell. Wesley was not a man who shied away from preaching this important and terrifying doctrine.
"Fierce and poisonous animals were created for terrifying man, in order that he might be made aware of the final judgment in hell."
The Doctrine of Hell must be preached. Any Christian who denies the Doctrine of Hell denies the truth of God's Word and therefore should examine themselves to see if they are really in the faith (2 Corinthians 13:5). And any Christian who believes Christians should not talk to and warn lost people about Hell put themselves at odds with the Lord and Savior they profess to adore.

A Concern

Alexandre, you wrote:
"What if we encounter in our preaching, let's say, a man whose precious children were just murdered, and he asks us: where are my children now? Then we answer him, 'It is too late for them and that they are in hell for all eternity,' that he should repent lest he joins them in eternal punishment."
Alexandre, I hope this "what if" scenario is purely hypothetical. If you know of anyone out on the streets making statements like this, then the first order of the business is repentance--not the repentance of the unbeliever whose children were murdered, but rather the repentance of whoever said or would say the above to anyone, let alone the father of murdered children.

Nowhere in the Word of God are Christians commanded or even encouraged to dogmatically assert, with any level of personal certainty, where an individual is going to spend eternity or where a deceased individual is spending eternity. Christians are to warn people of God's impending wrath and the just punishment for sin, call people to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, inspect the visible fruit in the lives of professing Christians, and call the same to repentance when they are caught in sin. The Christian should never say, "I know so-and-so is in Heaven." Or, "I know so-and-so is in Hell." There is only one Lawgiver and Judge; there is only One who is able to save and destroy (James 4:12).

While Jesus knows the minds and hearts of every human being, no mere human being possesses such omniscience. While a Christian can look at the preponderance of the physical and spiritual evidence in a person's life and say, "I believe that person is a Christian," or say, "I don't believe that person is saved," no one but God can declare with infallible certainty that a person is either saved or unsaved. Salvation is a monergistic work of God, and not a synergistic work between God and man. My point, of course, has no bearing on the assurance of salvation God promises to those who are truly saved. What I'm addressing here is how Christians consider the salvation of other people, and not whether or not a person can be assured of their own salvation. Christians can and should be assured of their salvation--a salvation not wrought by the will or work of man, but preordained, given, and secured by God alone.

Words of Comfort

To declare to the father of murdered, young children (and again I pray, Alexandre, what you shared was merely a bad hypothetical situation and not something that actually happened) that his children are in Hell is unbiblical, unloving, uncharitable, and arrogant.

Let's change the scenario just a bit. How should an open-air preacher answer a man who angrily approaches him and says, "My two children were murdered last year. Where do you say my kids are, today? Are they in Heaven or Hell?"

The first words out of the open-air preacher's mouth should be: "I'm so very sorry for your loss, sir." The next words out of the open-air preacher's mouth should be: "Sir, I don't know where your children are. My hope, a hope I'm sure you share, is that your children are in Heaven."

People will ask questions like this for several reasons:
1. They're lying to the open-air preacher and simply want to try to back the preacher into a corner in an effort to lure him into making a definitive statement about where the dead children are. Note: Always be very careful about drawing this conclusion. Err on the side of caution and give the person the benefit of the doubt until such time (a time that may not present itself) the person makes it clear they are not telling the truth.

2. They are telling the truth, are brokenhearted, and are desperately trying to find solace in the aftermath of tragedy and in the midst of mourning.

3. They are telling the truth, are angry with God, and are hoping the open-air preacher will say something seemingly offensive that will help him to justify his sinful anger toward God.
In any case, the answer "I don't know" is appropriate. But it's not appropriate to leave it at that.

In the scenario given, I would say...
"Sir, I don't know where your children are, today. My hope is that they are in Heaven. But sir, what about you? You are alive and standing in front of me. What about you? Where will you spend eternity? While I don't know where your children are today, I can be certain of this. If they could say anything to you right now it would be, "Daddy, don't miss Heaven."
Whether the children are in Heaven or in Hell, I believe the children would want someone to plead with their father, just as the rich man pleaded with Abraham (Luke 16:19-31). In a situation like this, the goal should be to take the attention off of the deceased children and focus the attention on the living sinner standing in front of the preacher. By putting it this way, you are not crushing the man's spirits by wrongly assigning his deceased children to Hell, and you are not giving false hope by assuring him his deceased children are in Heaven. Again, you are taking the attention off the deceased and putting it on the living person who needs Christ.

Hard Truth with a Soft Heart

Even in a situation like the one you describe, Alexandre, the Doctrine of Hell should not and cannot be avoided. No matter how broken the man's heart might be at the loss of his children, he's still bound for Hell, apart from repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He still needs to hear the truth--all of it.

If you listen to/watch my open-airs, you will often hear me saying something after I've talked about sin, righteousness, and the coming judgment (John 16:18).

"I don't want that for you. I don't want you to perish in your sin."

If you listen to some so-called "hell-fire" preachers, they often sound like the Pharisee in Jesus's parable, The Pharisee and the Tax-Collector. Some of them, in sin for ascribing to and teaching the Pelagian heresy, insist they are not sinners. If one can delude themselves into thinking they are perfect, such hypocritical self-righteousness won't take long to manifest itself in the form of talking to people in such a way as to communicate that they see themselves not simply as "better off" because of salvation through Jesus Christ, but as "better than" the people with whom they are communicating.

Like the Pharisee in Jesus's parable, the rhetoric and tone of voice of some "hell-fire" preachers doesn't communicate love for the lost, but a distinctly different message. "The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: 'God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector'" (Luke 18:11). Since some "hell-fire" preachers see themselves as righteous, the difference they see between themselves and the lost is not the grace of God in their lives, but their perceived ability to obey God. The Pharisees did the exact same thing to the people.
"So for the second time they called the man who had been blind and said to him, 'Give glory to God. We know that this man is a sinner.' He answered, 'Whether he is a sinner I do not know. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.' They said to him, 'What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?' He answered them, 'I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?' And they reviled him, saying, 'You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.' The man answered, 'Why, this is an amazing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a man born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.' They answered him, 'You were born in utter sin, and would you teach us?' And they cast him out" (John 9:24-34).
Some "hell-fire" preachers have a seemingly easy time calling people sinners and telling them they are going to Hell. The reason: they don't see themselves as sinners saved by grace. Some see themselves as righteous people who don't need the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ, provided through His vicarious, penal, subsitutionary atonement on the cross. For them, Jesus is little more than a spiritual doorman who simply holds the door to Heaven open to them, as they walk into Heaven, powered by their own will and righteousness.

Open-air preachers who love the lost will communicate the reality of eternal torment in Hell, as the just punishment for any and all sin against God, with tears in their eyes and love in their voices. No, I'm not making a call for emotionalism. The call is a biblical call for compassion. "When he [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36). "And when he [Jesus] drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 'Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes'" (Luke 19:41-42).

Open-air preachers, as well as any Christian who desires to communicate the gospel with the lost, must communicate the terrifying reality of the Doctrine of Hell. But such a hard truth must be communicated with a soft heart. After all, the open-air preacher is no better than the Hell-bound sinner. He is only better off. But for God's grace (and not his own righteousness), the open-air preacher would still be a child of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:1-3).

Monday, May 13, 2013

Soup Du Jour (5-13-13)

Sye Ten Bruggencate on Cross Encounters Radio. - If you missed last night's broadcast, you missed a lot. But fear not. Listening to the podcast will be just as edifying.

"Rocky" video now over 26K views. - Thanks to the wisdom of my friend, Richard Story, the "Rocky" video (and all videos I post from this point forward) will include a full gospel presentation in the description.

Length of jury deliberation not a good sign. - Gosnell could and should face the death penalty.

The "poster child" for UNrepentance. - O.J. still doesn't get it.

Persecution. - "A Police Constable from the Glasgow police just told us that if we say homosexuality is wrong or if Islam is wrong then we will be arrested." And the United States is not that far behind Great Britain.

Roman and Jorge. - My friends Greg Elsasser and Dru Morgan, two of the funniest men I know, have been working hard to get this television series off the ground. If the Lord allows it to happen, it will be one of the best things to happen to television (Christian or secular) in a VERY long time.

Tweet o' Irony. - The oxymoron IS "Gay Christian."

Pic of the Day. - Another wonderful moment from the recent Kentucky Derby Outreach.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Soup Du Jour (5/12/13)

Mother's Day shopping. - Some men shouldn't be allowed to shop alone. Wait. He wasn't alone.

Charles Hodge: For Whom Did Christ Die? - "This is a question between Augustinians and Anti-Augustinians. The former believing that God from all eternity having elected some to everlasting life, had a special reference to their salvation in the mission and work of his Son. The latter, denying that there has been any such election of a part of the human family to salvation, maintain that the mission and work of Christ had an equal reference to all mankind."

ESPN's Jason Stark reminds us all why baseball is the!

Not A Victim. - For anyone who believes women who have abortions are victims, you must watch this video by my friend, Allen Peek.

Sometimes human depravity is, well, just stupid. - "It's an unfortunate lack of wisdom in this particular judgment that hopefully will never occur again," Shoemaker said.

"We don't have monster in our blood." - The words of the daughter of Ariel Castro. While I understand what she means, the reality is that every human being has "monster" in their blood. It's called a sinful nature.

"Church": Gangnam Style. - Oh, this isn't Psy's fault. These are simply examples of "churches" loving the world more than Christ. These "Christians" are responsible for their own behavior before God. Psy is not responsible for their blaspheme of Christ.

Pic of the Day: My friend, John Howard's, puppy "Mattox."

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Soup Du Jour (5/11/13)

Don is now Dawn and donning a dress. "Back to you Dawn or, um, Don". "Dawn Stacey Ennis, formerly known as Don, surprised her colleagues at ABC News head quarters in Manhattan when she arrived in brown locks and a dress to declare her new identity. The 49-year-old journalist is leaving her wife of 17-years and their three children to make the complete transition into living as a woman."

The brilliance of the Creator. "The ubiquitous greater wax moth is ordinary in every way but one: It has the ability to hear the highest-known sound frequency. The greater wax moth's hearing goes up to about 300 kilohertz, nearly 100 kHz higher than the hearing of some bats."

Giving thanks from whom all blessings flow. "Canepa said the men prayed in the ship’s chapel for an hour after being picked up from their 14-foot aluminum skiff, and his crew gave them new clothes and toiletries."

Sye Ten Bruggencate on this week's edition of Cross Encounters Radio. Sye will be on for the full two hours to talk about his new film, "How To Answer The Fool."

Students fight back to save Ten Commandments. "Hundreds of Christians in a small Oklahoma town have decided to draw a line in the sand and fight back against a national association of atheist and agnostics who want displays of the Ten Commandments removed from local schools."

Future Punishment: The Universalist Refuted by Archibald Alexander. "No benevolent being delights in the suffering of others—for its own sake. But it is one of the clearest dictates of reason, that sin should be visited with punishment."

Pic of the Day.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mail Bag: Worried About My Adult Children Going to Hell

Mail Bag

I received the following email from Diana, in Nebraska:
Mr. Miano:

Your ministry is very inspirational - I enjoy watching your YouTube videos. The Lord has definitely called and equipped you for evangelism.

My question: my adult children are living what I consider a carnal lifestyle. I have guilt for not giving them proper biblical instruction. The fear is that one of them will pass on prematurely and I would have to reconcile that my own child may be burning for eternity. Surely other mothers and fathers have faced this - how can one "deal" with this?

As far as I can tell, King David's son [Amnon] did not appear to be following The Lord, seeing as he raped his half sister, left her in disgrace and was murdered while he was drunk. No mention is made that David freaked out because he knew his son was apart from God for eternity.

Your thought and insight would be deeply appreciated and respected!

God Bless -

Diana, I can't begin to count how many parents I know and how many parents I've met or have been contacted by with whom I've discussed this very issue. For the Christian parent, I would be hard-pressed to think of a more important life issue than where their children will spend eternity. The concern of a loving, Christian parent regarding the salvation of their children intensifies with each passing year.

Once a child reaches adulthood, it seems that many Christian parents resign themselves to occasional hopes and prayers for their lost, grown children, believing it would take a "miracle" for their adult son or daughter to be saved. A "miracle." Every instance of God taking an unregenerate sinner, taking their heart of stone and giving them are heart of flesh, and literally causing them to be born from above ("born again") is a miracle. It is a miracle because it is a supernatural work performed by God upon the pinnacle of His creation--mankind. And God performs these kinds of miracles every day, around the world.

First, Diana, I would like to address your "guilt" for not giving your children proper biblical instruction.

Yes, the Bible is clear. Parents should raise their children to fear, follow, and love the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:6-8; Deuteronomy 11:18-21; Psalm 34:11). Parents should also avoid exasperating their children (Ephesians 6:4). I've already made this mistake, today, with one of my girls and I had to seek her forgiveness.

While their are promises from God corresponding to the obedience of these commands, there are no promises of salvation their children if parents keep these commands. In other words, the salvation of children is not contingent upon the behavior of their parents, or the godly skill with which their parents seek to raise them.

Diana, if you believe you failed to give your children "proper biblical instruction" when you were raising them, then repent of that sin. But something tells me you already have done that. Something tells me the issue regarding the guilt you are feeling has less to do with repentance and more to do with faith. Diana, the issue regarding your guilty feelings is that maybe you have not fully trusted in God's ability and promise to forgive you. "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9). If you are in Christ, if you belong to Him, if He has caused you to be born again, then your sins are forgiven. Look to the cross for your forgiveness, not in the mirror.

The Tragedy of King David's Children

Diana, you mention one of many tragic stories in the Word of God--a story of deceit, betrayal, violence of the most depraved kind, and murder. And it all took place within the family of a great King--a man after God's own heart (1 Samuel 13:13-14; Acts 13:22). For those unfamiliar with the story, here it is in its entirety, as it appears in the English Standard Version of the Bible.
Amnon and Tamar

13 Now Absalom, David's son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David's son, loved her. 2 And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. 3 But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David's brother. And Jonadab was a very crafty man. 4 And he said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom's sister.” 5 Jonadab said to him, “Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And when your father comes to see you, say to him, ‘Let my sister Tamar come and give me bread to eat, and prepare the food in my sight, that I may see it and eat it from her hand.’” 6 So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. And when the king came to see him, Amnon said to the king, “Please let my sister Tamar come and make a couple of cakes in my sight, that I may eat from her hand.”

7 Then David sent home to Tamar, saying, “Go to your brother Amnon's house and prepare food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to her brother Amnon's house, where he was lying down. And she took dough and kneaded it and made cakes in his sight and baked the cakes. 9 And she took the pan and emptied it out before him, but he refused to eat. And Amnon said, “Send out everyone from me.” So everyone went out from him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food into the chamber, that I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the cakes she had made and brought them into the chamber to Amnon her brother. 11 But when she brought them near him to eat, he took hold of her and said to her, “Come, lie with me, my sister.” 12 She answered him, “No, my brother, do not violate[a] me, for such a thing is not done in Israel; do not do this outrageous thing. 13 As for me, where could I carry my shame? And as for you, you would be as one of the outrageous fools in Israel. Now therefore, please speak to the king, for he will not withhold me from you.” 14 But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!” 16 But she said to him, “No, my brother, for this wrong in sending me away is greater than the other that you did to me.”[b] But he would not listen to her. 17 He called the young man who served him and said, “Put this woman out of my presence and bolt the door after her.” 18 Now she was wearing a long robe[c] with sleeves, for thus were the virgin daughters of the king dressed. So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. 19 And Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the long robe that she wore. And she laid her hand on her head and went away, crying aloud as she went.

20 And her brother Absalom said to her, “Has Amnon your brother been with you? Now hold your peace, my sister. He is your brother; do not take this to heart.” So Tamar lived, a desolate woman, in her brother Absalom's house. 21 When King David heard of all these things, he was very angry.[d] 22 But Absalom spoke to Amnon neither good nor bad, for Absalom hated Amnon, because he had violated his sister Tamar.

Absalom Murders Amnon

23 After two full years Absalom had sheepshearers at Baal-hazor, which is near Ephraim, and Absalom invited all the king's sons. 24 And Absalom came to the king and said, “Behold, your servant has sheepshearers. Please let the king and his servants go with your servant.” 25 But the king said to Absalom, “No, my son, let us not all go, lest we be burdensome to you.” He pressed him, but he would not go but gave him his blessing. 26 Then Absalom said, “If not, please let my brother Amnon go with us.” And the king said to him, “Why should he go with you?” 27 But Absalom pressed him until he let Amnon and all the king's sons go with him. 28 Then Absalom commanded his servants, “Mark when Amnon's heart is merry with wine, and when I say to you, ‘Strike Amnon,’ then kill him. Do not fear; have I not commanded you? Be courageous and be valiant.” 29 So the servants of Absalom did to Amnon as Absalom had commanded. Then all the king's sons arose, and each mounted his mule and fled.

30 While they were on the way, news came to David, “Absalom has struck down all the king's sons, and not one of them is left.” 31 Then the king arose and tore his garments and lay on the earth. And all his servants who were standing by tore their garments. 32 But Jonadab the son of Shimeah, David's brother, said, “Let not my lord suppose that they have killed all the young men, the king's sons, for Amnon alone is dead. For by the command of Absalom this has been determined from the day he violated his sister Tamar. 33 Now therefore let not my lord the king so take it to heart as to suppose that all the king's sons are dead, for Amnon alone is dead.”

Absalom Flees to Geshur

34 But Absalom fled. And the young man who kept the watch lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, many people were coming from the road behind him[e] by the side of the mountain. 35 And Jonadab said to the king, “Behold, the king's sons have come; as your servant said, so it has come about.” 36 And as soon as he had finished speaking, behold, the king's sons came and lifted up their voice and wept. And the king also and all his servants wept very bitterly.

37 But Absalom fled and went to Talmai the son of Ammihud, king of Geshur. And David mourned for his son day after day. 38 So Absalom fled and went to Geshur, and was there three years. 39 And the spirit of the king[f] longed to go out[g] to Absalom, because he was comforted about Amnon, since he was dead.
Diana, King David was crushed by the death of his son, Amnon. David was consumed with grief about the moral collapse of his family. What father wouldn't be! But there is a difference between your grief and King David's grief. David grieved for what had happened to his son and his family. You are grieving for what has not yet happened to your children. You are fearing the unknown. David was mourning what he had already lost.

God Has Not Given You a Spirit of Fear

Diana, if you are in Christ then God has not given you a spirit of fear. "For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control" (2 Timothy 1:6-7; emphasis added). God has not given you an enslaving spirit that would allow you to fall back toward fearing the consequences of sin. "For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father'” (Romans 8:15; emphasis added)!

Trust God

Diana, as God the Father encouraged Israel with these words, may you who has been made alive by Christ also be encouraged.
"But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior'" (Isaiah 43:1-3).
Diana, in addition to setting aside your fears for your adult children, you must also trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones" (Proverbs 3:5-8).
Diana, don't make assumptions about what God may or may not do to, through, and/or for your unsaved adult Children. Do not lean on your own understanding. Trust the Lord!

God is Sovereign

Diana, God is sovereign over everything, including your unsaved children. There is nothing, absolutely nothing you have done, are doing, or will do that can circumvent God's eternally-predetermined will for your unsaved children. You cannot save your children. You cannot keep them from being saved if God has chosen to save them. Salvation is of the Lord (Psalm 37:39; Lamentations 3:26; Jonah 2:9)!

Find comfort in the sovereignty of God, Diana. The responsibility of your children's salvation is not yours. It is God's alone. The ultimate decision regarding where your children will spend eternity is neither yours nor theirs. It is the Lord's (John 1:12-13; Romans 9:14-18). Only God can cause your children to be born again (1 Peter 1:3).

Your Responsibility

Diana, your spiritual responsibility in the lives of your adult children is simply this: continue to love God and continue to love your children.
"And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets'" (Matthew 22:35-40)
Love God and love people: God's two greatest commandments. And Jesus made it clear that if we love Him we will keep His commands (John 14:15; John 15:10).And that's what you must do for your children, Diana: love God by loving them. Love them by continuing to pray for them. Love them by taking advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel with them--not with a spirit of fear or a palpable sense of panic, but with joy in your heart. Let the joy of the Lord be your strength (Nehemiah 8:10). Speak the truth in love to them (Ephesians 4:15), trusting in the sovereignty of God to do what He will with your children's souls.

Soup Du Jour (5/10/13)

Cleveland Kidnapper Could Face Murder Charges for Forced Abortions. - Yet another situation that shows the idiocy and depravity of a culture that calls evil good and good evil. If a woman decides to murder her baby, it's called "choice." If someone else decides to murder her baby, it's called "murder." What is the common denominator in both situations? A human being is being killed. To choose to kill someone, no matter how small, is to murder.

Lawless Law. - A great article from R.C. Sproul, Jr. Here's an excerpt: "The purported value of ethical relativism, the idea that there are no transcendent, binding rules for right and wrong that all humans are morally required to submit to, is that it allows us to live in peace. That is, if you have your ethics, and I have my ethics, well then there is no real need for us to fight over whose ethic wins. (So long, as, of course, our lives never actually cross.) The real value is far more sinister. We find ethical relativism appealing because we find our own guilt unappealing. Though we seek to suppress such knowledge, we all know that God is, that He is holy, that we are not, and that we are in trouble. Not the kind of pleasant thoughts one wants to go to sleep thinking on, so we suppress that truth. Do away with ethics and we do away with His holiness, our guilt, and therefore our trouble."

Strange Fire Conference. - Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Seek not, therefore, after visions, fancies, miracles, signs, and wonders, but believe when God speaks to your heart, according to all the statutes and testimonies, the precepts and promises, which are contained in the sure word of revelation.” John MacArthur is hosting a very important conference in October, which will focus on the "strange fire" of the charismatic movement. Although the conference is all ready "sold out," I'm sure they will live stream it off the website. You won't want to miss this conference.

Photo Gallery: Earth from Space. Start your day with some amazing photos of earth from the International Space Station. "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork" (Psalm 19:1).

Tweet o' Irony. Free to choose, but not free to choose.

Pic of the Day. Prince Harry of Wales laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. With it, he left the following note. Well played, Harry. Well played.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Soup Du Jour (5/9/13)

These eggs aren't as "old" as scientists would like to believe. - "To creationists, the egg-containing rock layer represents evidence of a wave-like pulse that occurred earlier during the same Flood year that inundated other equally well-designed sauropods whose egg fossils occur in higher strata."

We deserve a break today FROM McDonalds. - McDonalds jumps at the opportunity to exploit of the three women in Cleveland who were held captive for ten years.

Jodi Arias found guilty of murder. - She said in a post-verdict interview she would prefer the death penalty to life in prison.

Breaking the sound barrier. - Tyler Story (17) of Mississippi does something most Christians will never do.

John MacArthur's favorite books. - Pastor MacArthur also shares his reading habits.

Six Marks of Fellowship with God. - A good read, written by Joey Newton, pastor of Newtown Bible Church, in Newtown (CT).

Tweet o' Irony - When will Osteen learn this?

Pic of the Day - Minions! They're everywhere!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Soup Du Jour (5/8/13)

There is a well-known idiom that says, "Imitation in the sincerest form of flattery." So, giving credit where credit is due, I'm going to try to follow in the footsteps of prolific Christian blogger, Tim Challies. Each day Tim shares a post titled "A La Carte," in which he provides links to books, articles, videos, and other interesting online tidbits. Well, while I am no Tim Challies, I'm going to try to follow his lead and imitate his "A La Carte" posts with my own daily posts titled "Soup Du Jour" ("Soup of the Day").

Here's today's Soup du Jour...

Who has their finger on the trigger? - The Air Force recently stripped 17 officers of their qualification to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles. "'We are, in fact, in a crisis right now,' the commander, Lt. Col. Jay Folds, wrote in an internal email obtained by The Associated Press and confirmed by the Air Force."

They make millions of dollars, but they are still "boys of summer." - Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher J.A. Happ was hit in the head by a line drive during Tuesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

A biblical answer to "Christian" Mysticism. - Tim Challies has written a good article regarding the importance of Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide in discerning the mysticism that has infiltrated American Evangelicalism.

Today's Tweet o' Irony. - Rick Warren contamination of the mind.

Fast runner, slow learner. - NFL "free" agent arrested twice in 15 hours. When I worked the streets as a deputy sheriff, I always referred to people like this as "job security."

Pic of the Day - This is a photo taken by missionary, evangelist, and open-air preacher Christopher Sippley. Sippley is the Canada representative for JeremiahCry Ministries. The photo is of Sippley's son. Some have titled the photo "Biblical Boyhood." That title work for me.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ten Practical Reasons Why Every Pastor Should Support Open-Air Preaching


Some refer to it as "Cold Evangelism." Some see it as offensive and passe. Some associate it with the activities of non-Christian hate groups like Westboro Baptist Church. Some serve as embarrassing and unbiblical examples of it. Some see the value of it. Others support it. And some have provided biblical defenses for it. The "it" is open-air preaching.

In this article, I will not present a theological case for open-air preaching. I have done so elsewhere, here and here. In this article I will try to present 10 succinct and practical reasons why every pastor should support open-air preaching. The ten reasons I will present are fruits resulting from open-air preaching--fruits I recently observed firsthand during the 2013 SFOI Kentucky Derby Outreach. The ten photos you will see in this article were taken during the outreach. The ten practical reasons for open-air preaching appear in no particular order.


In this photo, 17-year-old Tyler Story (who attended the outreach with his parents, Richard and Suzanne, and his 16-year-old sister, Miranda) is reading aloud John 3. This was the first time Tyler ever opened his mouth in a public setting to read Scripture. Behind him stand Steven Stanley (left) and Mike Stockwell (right). Both men are experienced evangelists and open-air preachers.

All weekend long--day and night, on the streets, during meals, and during times of quiet fellowship--young Tyler Story was surrounded by older Christian men who loved him, cared for him, prayed with him, accepted him, looked out for him, and taught him. Tyler experienced true discipleship.

Some of the best and most biblical discipleship I have given and received has been during times on the streets open-air preaching. Is there a genuine pastor, a real shepherd of people who does not want to see his people discipling one another? I'm sure there is not. Pastors should support open-air preaching by members of their church families because it is one way (certainly not the only way) their people can engage in authentic discipleship.


In this photo, Brad St. Clair (left) and Chap Williams (right) praying for another participant before he preaches the gospel in the open-air. Prayer is a vital component of every biblical street evangelism effort. During the Kentucky Derby Outreach it could rightly be said, without hyperbole, that the participants "prayed without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We prayed for boldness (Acts 4:31), for the words to speak as we preached (Ephesians 6:19), for those who persecuted us (Matthew 5:44), for safety and God's protection as we sought to serve him in a potentially dangerous place (Ezra 8:21), for the salvation of the lost (Romans 10:1), and many other matters.

Every authentic under-shepherd of a segment of God's flock (The Church) has a heart's desire for his people to be a praying people. By having his people participate in street evangelism and open-air preaching, a pastor provides yet one more way for his people to become more motivated to engage in deeper, more intense, and longer times of prayer.


In this photo, Robert Gray, an experienced open-air preacher who often begins his preaching by singing songs of worship to the Lord, is seeking the Lord before he preaches the gospel. Open-air preaching not only facilitates times of personal worship, but open-air preaching itself (when done biblically) can be an act of worship.

Several times in the Psalms, worship is directly linked to telling others about the power of God, the things God has done, and the salvation of God. Here are a few examples:

"Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works" (Psalm 105:2)!

"Sing praises to the Lord, who sits enthroned in Zion! Tell among the peoples his deeds" (Psalm 9:11)!

"Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day" (Psalm 96:2).

It is not uncommon for those engaged in street evangelism and open-air preaching to spontaneously break out in song--singing and humming "singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God" (Colossians 3:16).

Good pastors want their people to worship the Lord in spirit and truth (John 4:24)--not only on Sunday mornings, but every day of their lives. Street evangelism and open-air preaching is one way pastors can cultivate hearts and minds filled with spontaneous worship, in their people.


Pictured here are Bobby McCreery and Chap Williams. The smiles on their faces aren't forced, and I didn't catch these two brothers in Christ during a rare moment of happiness. Their smiles exemplify something very common among open-air preachers and street evangelists--joyful fellowship.

One of the many things I love about my church is the ample opportunities the elders and deacons provide for the church family to enjoy fellowship with one another. Christians involved in biblical churches do not neglect gathering together (Hebrews 10:25). And good churches provide opportunities for members of the church to fellowship with one another.

Some of the sweetest, most genuine times of Christian fellowship I have ever experienced has been in the context of open-air preaching and street evangelism. As I've often said, "There is nothing as sweet as the fellowship of the gospel." On the streets, the common bond of Jesus Christ is emphasized and theological, social, and personal differences are de-emphasized.

Street evangelism and open-air preaching can positively augment the shepherding pastor's efforts to see his people gather together outside the four walls of the church.


"Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity" (Psalm 133:1)!

"I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:1-3).

"Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing" (1 Peter 3:8-9).

In this photo, you see me standing atop a step stool and preaching the gospel. Beside me and behind me are members of my team. The unity of mind, spirit, and purpose can be palpable among a well-organized team of Christians engaged in biblical evangelism. Such was my experience last weekend as I saw firsthand a "bond of peace" among a very diverse group of Christian brothers and sisters, as together we faced those who would assert "peace, peace" where there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:4; see also Jeremiah 8:11). It is indeed good and pleasant to serve and dwell with Christian brethren, in unity.

What pastor doesn't pray for and dream about unity in his congregation? Developing and supporting biblical evangelism and open-air preaching is one way a pastor can foster Christian unity among his people.


In this picture you see a close-up shot of Steven Stanley's open-air preaching notes. As an aside: I encourage open-air preachers, whether new or experienced, to use notes whenever necessary. Far better for an open-air preacher to make use of notes and be accurate to the text of Scripture than to be more eloquent but fail to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

Good open-air preachers study for their open-air messages. They are students of the Word (see Ezra 7:10). They study diligently to present themselves To God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed (see 2 Timothy 2:15). They realize there awaits a stricter judgment for those who set out to teach the Word of God to other people (James 3:1). So, these weighty responsibilities keeps the nose of the open-air preacher in the Book.

Every Bible-believing, Bible-teaching pastor wants his people to be students of the Word. And he wants his people to be able to feed themselves. He doesn't want them to suckle on elementary, biblical principles for ever. He wants them to be able to dig deep and mine for themselves the weightier and precious doctrinal truths of the Scriptures (see Hebrews 5:12-14). Street evangelism and open-air preaching fosters such a desire in the hearts and minds of those who engage in these biblical evangelistic efforts. A good street preacher wants to know God's Word. A good street preacher wants to be equipped to communicate the truths of God's Word to the lost. And a good street preacher wants to be able to encourage other Christians in the area who may find themselves in need of the edification of God's Word.

Pastors should support biblical street evangelism and open-air preaching in their multi-faceted efforts to raise up a congregation who not only can spiritually feed themselves, but also spiritually feed others.


Pictured here is Justin Hoffman preparing for his next open-air message.

"Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God's will, than for doing evil" (1 Peter 3:13-17).

1 Peter 3:15 is most often used as the banner-cry of Christian apologists. Such an application can certainly be seen in the text. But there is more to the text when read in its immediate context.

I've often said, "You cannot be saved by a gospel you do not know." Yet, over the years, I have talked to many Christians, people whose salvation I have no real reason to question, who simply were unequipped to articulate "the hope that is in [them]." After all, that is the defense (the argument) Christians are to make to anyone who asks. They are to make a case for "the hope that is in [them]." And what is the hope that is in the Christian?
"Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly" (Romans 5:1-6).
The glory of God is the Christian's hope. Suffering-induced endurance, character, and hope is the Christian's hope. Being filled with God's love through the power of the Holy Spirit is the Christian's hope. That Christ died for ungodly sinners is the Christian's hope!

The Christian does not find his hope in archaeological discoveries of cities and people mentioned in the Bible, scientific findings that are affirmed in Scripture, the infinitesimally low numeric probability of fulfilled Bible prophecy, manuscript evidence for the Word of God, or the ability to win arguments with professing unbelievers who merely suppress the truth they know about God because of their love of sin and unrighteousness (see Romans 1:18). No! The Christian's hope is Jesus Christ, alone!

In the words of 19th century hymnist, Edward Mote:
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,
all other ground is sinking sand;
all other ground is sinking sand.

When Darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and stormy gale,
my anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, his covenant, his blood
supports me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
he then is all my hope and stay.

When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found!
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
faultless to stand before the throne!
In addition to being prepared to give an answer for the hope that is in him, the surrounding context of 1 Peter 3:15 reveals the Christian must be prepared to suffer for righteousness sake, to fearlessly face persecutors, to honor Christ in his heart as holy, to respond to persecutors or anyone who asks for the reason for the hope that is in him with gentleness and respect, and to put to shame with his good behavior those who slander him.

Street evangelism and open-air preaching are excellent motivators for spiritual preparedness. These means of biblical evangelism not only serve as motivators to prepare to defend the faith, they present real-time opportunities to practice biblically defending the faith.

If a pastor wants his people to be ready to make a defense for the hope that is in them, on the front lines of the spiritual battlefield (home, office, school, coffee shop, dinner table), then he would be well-served to include street evangelism and open-air preaching as vehicles for the training of his people and for getting his people out of the pews and into the spiritual fight for lost souls.


Pictured here is Steven Stanley talking to a professed agnostic who stopped to listen to the open-air preaching. I heard the young man repeatedly ask Steven if he mixes his fabrics. This is a common, "cut-n-paste" objection levied against the validity of the Bible--an objection levied by those who do not understand Scripture and who use the Book they believe is invalid as their authority to invalidate the same Book. See anything wrong with that kind of rationale?

Steven shared the content of his conversation with the young man.
"We had about a 10-15 minute chat that revealed his worldview could not account for truth, logic, or knowledge. He gave up knowledge when he said he could be wrong about everything he claimed to know, yet he kept on making knowledge claims. At the end of the conversation, this professing agnostic said "God wouldn't let me into heaven anyway." Showing it is not a matter of intellect, but a matter of the heart! I gave him the gospel, urged him to repent and believe. We shook hands and parted ways. His name was Brian, I told him that I would pray for him. Pray for him please! Romans 1:22 'Claiming to be wise, they became fools.'"
Many pastors, today, want their congregations outside the church living, serving, and reaching out with a missional mindset. Granted, I do not agree with all of the "missional" language of the day and some of the bad fruit produced by this movement. But there is much that is biblical in the missional construct. Pastors want the members of their flock to serve as missionaries regardless of where the Lord has them (i.e. foreign, domestic, full-time, part-time, whenever-one-has-the-time). Instead of simply inviting people to church, pastors want their flocks to be the church in the world and reach people where they are with the gospel.

Unfortunately, some of these same missionally-minded pastors miscategorize street evangelism and open-air preaching as part of the same attraction-based leaven (i.e. purpose-driven, seeker-driven, seeker-sensitive, prosperity, word of faith, signs and wonders, etc.) that has leavened much of American Evangelicalism. However, contrary to what many say in both camps, attraction-based and missional, street evangelism and open-air preaching is missional. More importantly, it's biblical. I say this because just as all that glitters is not gold, all that is missional is not biblical.

Biblical street evangelism and open-air preaching is missional in the best sense of the word. Engaging in these forms of evangelism gets people out of the pews and into the world where lost people are. People engaged in these forms of evangelism have set aside the "if you build it they will come" mentality that has all-but-crippled American Evangelicalism over the last 40+ years. While open-air preaching, just as the gospel, is always counter-cultural, open-air preaching unashamedly and uncompromisingly engages the culture. Open-air preaching is one way The Church can make a clarion call to the people of the culture, any culture, to be reconciled to God. And it doesn't get more missional than that!

Pastors who want their congregants to be biblically, missionally-minded should encourage their people to be in the world, but not of the world, through biblical street evangelism and open-air preaching.


Pictured here is my dear friend, Richard Story. Richard struggles with mobility, pain, and a host of other physical ailments as a result of a traffic accident several years ago. There are no easy days for my brother in Christ. Leaving the house is a test of his will, patience, strength, endurance, and perseverance. Spending two very long, exhausting, cold, and wet days outside Churchill Downs as throngs of drunkards and revilers make merry by mocking Jesus Christ and His gospel took the physical, emotional, and spiritual testing Richard faces every day to another level entirely. Yet he persevered. And he did so by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. Richard did not persevere to earn and keep his salvation. Richard persevered because Jesus Christ has saved him, keeps him, and will always keep him.

Jesus said, "And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved" (Mark 13:13). Contrary to how some of my dearly beloved Arminian friends interpret this verse, Jesus is not saying that endurance is a requirement for salvation. Jesus is saying that endurance is a fruit of salvation. That which cannot be lost or forfeited (John 10:27-29; Romans 8:38-39), namely salvation, need not require perseverance to attain or keep it.

Street evangelism and open-air preaching requires, resurrects, rebuilds, and resumes the Christian's perseverance. Street evangelism and open-air preaching prepares the Christian for difficult times of trial and testing not yet experienced, but one-day (maybe soon) to be allowed by God.

Good pastors try to comfort those in the midst of trials and prepare the rest of their people for the trials that are sure to come. Good pastors encourage their people to persevere, now, when persecution in the United States is at a level that it would hardly be called such by our truly persecuted brethren in other parts of the world. They do this knowing that if their flocks do not practice perseverance now as they live in relative spiritual ease, they will be hard-pressed to do so when real persecution hits the American Church. And it will hit The Church, maybe sooner than any of us realize.

Street evangelism and open-air preaching is one way a loving pastor can encourage his people to venture outside the Christian bubble, in preparation for the time they may have to hide in a basement or in the woods, as other Christians around the world will, today.


Richard Story is once again pictured here. Beside him holding the umbrella is his lovely wife, Suzanne. I chose this photo as the expression of the last of the ten practical reasons I will share in this article for why every pastor should support open-air preaching. And why should every pastor support open-air preaching? In a word: love.

Suzanne loves Richard very much. And Richard loves Suzanne. I've now participated with Richard and Suzanne in two large-scale outreaches. On both occasions, I was blessed to watch, up close and personal, the sacrificial love my friends have for each other. But last weekend, in Louisville, KY, I also saw example of love after example of love exhibited by the 30+ people I had the honor to serve alongside. More than once someone held their umbrella over me so I could preach the gospel. I watched as my brethren served one another in many selfless ways. I watched as brother after brother deferred to others, allowing a less-experienced brother to preach more often so he could gain much-needed experience. I watched as younger served the older, and older served the younger. I watched as over and over again arms were placed around shoulders, before heads bowed to pray. I watched as my brethren encouraged one another with handshakes, fist bumps, and hugs. I watched as my Christian brethren circled a brother who was preaching, quietly keeping watch and providing a human shield from haters of God and haters of people.

Jesus said:
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:34-35).
Regardless of what the more than 150-thousand people who attended the Kentucky Derby thought of us as individuals, thought of our message, thought of our methods, or thought of our God, if they were asked and answered honestly they would have to say, "Well. At least they love each other."

Even in the best of churches, love can be a fleeting commodity and, at times, in short supply. Every good pastor wants his people to fulfill the two greatest commandments.
"And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 'Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?' And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets'" (Matthew 22:35-41).
Love God and love people. Every pastor worth a salt wants his people to love God and other people. He wants them to love people, whether saved or unsaved.

While often mischaracterized as unloving by those both inside and outside The Church, street evangelism and open-air preaching (when executed biblically) are very loving things to do. Certainly, these are not the only ways to love God and love people. But they are legitimate, relevant, biblical, practical, missional, and historical ways to love God and to love people. After all, what could possibly be more loving and of greater eternal consequence than lovingly warning people of the wrath of God that abides on them (John 3:36), how that wrath can be eternally removed (Romans 3:21-26), and how they can be adopted as children of God (Romans 8:12-17), by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8-10)?

Pastors should support street evangelism and open-air preaching because they are legitimate, biblical ways to fulfill the two greatest commandments.


Are there other ways to verbally communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ (note: the gospel can only be communicated with words--spoken and/or written)? Certainly. Every Christian does not have to take to the streets with gospel tracts or alight atop a box to preach in order to biblically and lovingly communicate the gospel. But no biblical or historical argument can be made against street evangelism and open-air preaching as two of many means God uses to communicate His Son's gospel to an unsaved world.

So, pastor, if you have a godly person (or people) in your church who is a street evangelist and/or open-air preacher, and if they are a member of your church in good standing and they non-begrudgingly submit to the authority of the pastors and elders of the church, then please support them with your prayers, your counsel, and the resources of your church. And please encourage others in your church to join them in the work.

Isn't one more tool in your leadership tool bag--a tool that can bring more discipleship, prayer, worship, fellowship, unity, study, preparedness, missional-mindedness, perseverance, and love to your church family--worthy of your support?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Sermon of the Week: Pastor Charles Leiter

I hope this will become a reoccurring, weekly post: "Sermon of the Week." The sermons posted will be sermons I've listened to during the week.

This week's installment is a sermon by Pastor Charles Leiter titled, "Unless This, You Will Perish."

My Gospel Tracts

For almost a year, now, I have partnered with Marv Plementosh of One Million Tracts to publish several gospel tracts. Check this page regularly as my line of gospel tracts grows.

Miranda Rights

“You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. Do you understand the rights I have just read to you? This is the Miranda Warning. What most people don’t know is an officer is not required to read you “your rights” when they arrest you. Nor are they required to read you “your rights” before talking to you. An officer must read the Miranda Warning to you only if you are under arrest and they want to question you. Both elements—custody and interrogation—must be present for a Miranda Warning to be required. Many people misunderstand their “right” to remain silent. Even more people wrongly believe they will have a “right” to speak to God on the Day of Judgment. Most people think on that day they will argue their case before God and present evidence or eyewitness testimony of their goodness and their worthiness of heaven. But the Day of Judgment is not a court trial. It is a day of sentencing. The Bible makes it clear. Because you have broken God’s Law (lying, stealing, hate, lust, selfishness, bitterness, coveting, blasphemy, etc.) you have been judged already (John 3:18-20) and the wrath of God abides on you (John 3:36). Your only hope is to turn away from your sins, turn toward God, and by faith alone receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ—fully God and fully man, yet without sin, born of a virgin, voluntarily shed his innocent blood and died on the cross, taking upon Himself the punishment you rightly deserve for your sins against God. Three days later, He forever defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. Receive forgiveness. Repent and believe the gospel, today.

Am I Not a Man and a Brother?

Abolitionists like Granville Sharp, Thomas Clarkson, and Josiah Wedgewood used this haunting image and the motto “Am I not a man and a brother” to show their opposition to slavery in England. The British slave trade was outlawed in 1807 and slavery was later abolished outright in Great Britain, in 1833. The movement to abolish slavery in the United States began in the 1850’s. Leaders like William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Frederick Douglass also used the image and motto. They fought for black Americans to be seen as fellow human beings and brothers, not pieces of property. With the ratification of the 13th Amendment, slavery was abolished in the United States. While slavery is gone in the United States, there are still people in this country who are treated as less than human. More than 50 million of them have been murdered since 1973. They are aborted children. Murder is a sin (Ex. 20:13) and God hates those who shed innocent blood (Prov. 6:16-19). Do you support the murder of unborn children by your words and actions or with your silence? Then God sees you as one who is swift to shed innocent blood and guilty before Him (Rev. 21:8). Because God is holy, righteous, and just He will punish your sin by sentencing you to hell for all eternity. Your only hope is to turn from your sin and turn toward God (repent) and by faith alone receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Jesus Christ, who is fully God and fully Man, born of a virgin, and knew no sin shed His innocent blood on the cross and rose from the grave so that those who repent and believe the gospel can be saved. Only Jesus can forgive your sins (hatred, murder, lying, stealing, blasphemy) against Him and give you the gift of eternal life. Repent and believe, today.

Crown of Thorns

The Hubble Telescope captured this image. NGC 7049, the official designation for this galaxy, is 150 thousand light-years wide and 100 million light-years from Earth. NGC 7049’s uniquely shaped dust ring formation against its bright interior has led some to nickname the galaxy “The Crown of Thorns,” after the crown of thorns placed on Jesus’s head before he was crucified on the cross. “And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head” (Matthew 27:28-30). Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, fully God and fully man, God in the flesh, born of a virgin, yet without sin, would soon after receiving the crown of thorns, be nailed to a Roman cross. There He would die a sacrificial death though He never sinned in thought, word, or deed. Three days later, Jesus would forever defeat sin and death when He rose from the grave. This Jesus, the One who created you and NGC 7049, is the one before whom you will one-day stand to give an account for your life. If you have ever lied, stolen, taken his name in vain, or harbored jealousy, selfishness, or hatred in your heart He will punish your sin by sentencing you to hell for all eternity. Your only hope is to turn from your sin and turn toward God (repent) and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Only Jesus can forgive your sins against Him and give you the gift of eternal life. Repent and believe, today.


Contradict: “to imply the opposite or a denial of.” This card depicts symbols for ten of the world’s best-known religions. Nine imply the opposite or denial of…the truth. Nine contradict what is true. Only one symbol represents the truth—the cross. Most people in the world are walking contradictions. They assert they are good, when in their heart and mind they know they are not (Romans 2:15-16). See for yourself. Have you ever lied, stolen, taken God’s name in vain, harbored hatred or lust in your heart, or committed idolatry by practicing one of the many false religions of the world? Then God does not see you as good. God will see you as one who has broken His Law and sinned against Him. God’s punishment for sin is eternity in Hell. God has provided only one way for you to receive forgiveness of your sins and the joy of eternal life in Heaven. God sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully Man, who knew no sin. He voluntarily went to the cross where He shed His innocent blood and died, taking upon Him the punishment you deserve. Three days later, He defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. What God commands you to do is repent (turn from your sin and turn to God) and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Repent, believe the gospel, and stop living a life of contradiction. “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). Turn to Christ and live.


Before becoming the United States’ most beloved president, Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer. He was known for his great pearls of wisdom, like the one on the front of this card. “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.” The same is true for anyone who thinks they will stand before God, serve as their own attorney, and argue their innocence and goodness. They will have a fool for a client. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Consider the evidence against you. If you have ever lied, stolen, taken God’s name in vain, harbored hatred or lust in your heart; God sees you as one who has broken His Law and sinned against Him. Finding you guilty, He will do what any good judge would do. In your case, the punishment will be eternity in Hell. “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). God has provided only one way for you to receive a pardon from the Judge and the gift of eternal life in Heaven, with Him. God sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully Man, who knew no sin. He voluntarily went to the cross where He shed His innocent blood and died, taking upon Himself the punishment you deserve for your crimes against God. Three days later, He defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. What God commands you to do is repent (turn from your sin and turn to God) and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Don’t be a foolish client.


“Judge not that you be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). Second only to John 3:16, Matthew 7:1 is probably the most often quoted verse in the Bible. But what does the verse really mean? It means that one should not judge another person in a condemning, hypocritical, or self-righteous manner. But you make judgments all the time—judgments about right and wrong (murder, stealing, lying, etc.). That’s okay. God does the same thing. The Bible makes it clear there is only one Judge, and that is God. “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor” (James 4:12)? When you die and stand before God, you will give an account for your life. “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). If you’ve ever lied, stolen, taken God’s name in vain, harbored hatred or lust in your heart, or sinned against God in any way, He will judge you as one who has broken His law. God’s punishment for sin is eternity in Hell. God has provided only one way for you to receive forgiveness of your sins and the joy of eternal life in Heaven. God the Father sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully Man, who knew no sin. He voluntarily went to the cross where He shed His innocent blood and died, taking upon Himself the punishment you deserve. God the Son subjected Himself to the wrath of God the Father in order to pay the ransom (the sin debt) for many. Three days later, He defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. What God commands you to do is repent (turn from your sin and turn to God) and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

The Missing Link

Archaeoraptor, Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, Cro-Magnon, Neanderthal, Swanscombe, Australiopithecus, Lucy, and Ida. They all have something in common. Each has been hailed by the scientific community as the Missing Link—“a hypothetical form of animal assumed to have constituted a connecting link between the anthropoid apes and humans.” They also have something else in common. Over time, they all have been proven to be embarrassing scientific blunders or outright frauds. That’s right. The "Missing Link" that scientists want so desperately to find has never been found. However, there most certainly is a Link. But you’ll never find this Link buried in the ground, for He has risen! When you die and stand before God, you will give an account for your life. If you’ve ever lied, stolen, taken God’s name in vain, or harbored hatred or lust in your heart, God will see you as a lawbreaker who has sinned against Him. God’s punishment for sin is eternity in Hell. God has provided only one way for you to receive forgiveness of your sins and the joy of eternal life in Heaven. God sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully Man, who knew no sin. He was and is the only Link between God and man. He went to the cross where He shed His innocent blood and died, taking upon Himself the punishment you deserve. Three days later, He defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. What God commands you to do is turn from your sin and turn to God; and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. Repent and believe and see the salvation of the Lord.


Were you able to find the mistake on the board? The word “mistake” is misspelled. We often fail to see what is right in front of us. The Bible tells us as much. “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse (Romans 1:19-20). When you die and stand before God, you will give an account for your life. If you’ve ever lied, stolen, taken God’s name in vain, or harbored hatred or lust in your heart, God will see you as one who has broken His Law and sinned against Him. You will be without excuse. God’s punishment for sin is eternity in Hell. God has provided only one way for you to receive forgiveness of your sins and the joy of eternal life in Heaven, where you will see Him face to face. God sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ—fully God and fully Man, who knew no sin. He voluntarily went to the cross where He shed His innocent blood and died, taking upon Himself the punishment you deserve. Three days later, He defeated sin and death when He rose from the grave. What God commands you to do is repent (turn from your sin and turn to God) and, by faith alone, receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. See God for who He is. See your sin for what it is. Repent and believe and see the salvation of the Lord.