Monday, June 24, 2013

Witnessing for Jesus - Breaking the Mold


God has sent His Son to this fallen world, and His Son, Jesus, has paid the price for our sins. So now any sinner who believes upon the Lord Jesus as the Son of God who paid for his sins and provided the only way to eternal life can be saved. There is no other way. None. Jesus Himself said no man can come to the Father God but through Him. Forget about all these fallen heresies that try and show that some of the attributes that Jesus showed while here on earth can be found in other religions and therefore Jesus can be found in these other religions. That is diabolical and profoundly false.

Just before Jesus left this earth He exhorted us to be His witnesses. And the main conduit for that witness is the everlasting gospel. We can use different words to present that gospel, but Jesus and His redemptive work must always be at the core. And Jesus and His redemption is the divine calling of the church. Jesus is not schizophrenic. What I mean is that He came to seek and save that which was lost the first time and now His body, the church, has been given the very same mission. Jesus is still seeking to save the lost through us, His body. Every time the church gets involved with fallen causes of this earth it does damage to the gospel message.

But surrounding the gospel and buttressing its message must be a manifestation of the person of Christ. Selfless works of kindness and generosity should be what ministers to the lost and what the Spirit can use to soften hearts. So often the church has confined witnessing to tracks and preaching and some Roman’s road plan. The concept of evangelism has all but excluded the salt and light of our lives.

Matt.5: 13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

And herein lies a great mystery that is filled with power and glory. In Acts chapter one Jesus commands the disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they are endued with power when the Spirit descends upon and in them. But the Word of God has a power all its own, and sinners sometimes get saved through a message spoken by a man secretly involved with some great sin. Yes, the Word of God is powerful on its own. Some sinners have picked up a Bible in a hotel room and read a portion and miraculously come to Christ.

So what is this power that the Holy Spirit gives us and just what is it for? This is the power to walk in the Spirit and both resist the lusts of the flesh as well as be a beacon of light through all kinds of selfless acts toward our lost neighbors. And there is where the church has abrogated its divine responsibility. Much of the evangelical world looks suspiciously at good works that are humanitarian in nature since it is guarding the justification by faith fort. If a church has a pantry or a clothing drive it considers its religious obligation to be done. I have heard many a professing believer complain about those who they deem lazy and shiftless and therefore poor through their own devices. And armed with that sort of justification they take solace in living a moral and patriotic and even industrious life while being ambivalent about being a light to the darkness. With all the exhortations found in the New Testament about being aggressive about our ministry to the lost and poor and lonely, why are we not observably passionate about it?

I believe there are two major ports wherein the church has steered her ship and by which we have lost a significant part of the gospel ministry. One which I have outlined continually is the issue of nationalism and being in love with a nation. Patriotism is a poison pill to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It subverts the message and drowns it in selfishness, pride, and a moral inspection of the lost rather than a perspective which is filled with God’s love and Christ’s redemption. It continues to be a major part of the road to apostasy. It has captured the hearts of millions of professing believers and has rendered them spiritual impotent if not even an enemy of the gospel.

But another way in which the church has altered the Word of God and constructed her own brand of the Christian faith is how we have formulated our doctrinal statement and how we define liberal theology. For instance when a man denies the virgin birth but is dedicated to helping the poor he is deemed at least liberal because he doesn’t believe the Word of God. But if a man does believe in the virgin birth but he does almost nothing to help the poor he is deemed orthodox. You see what has happened? We have made the Christian faith a system of answers to Biblical questions and completely downplayed any demonstrations of the redemptive love of Christ Jesus. When James teaches us the importance of works he doesn’t mention going to church or giving or even witnessing. Look what the Spirit says:

Jam.1: 27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

Jam.2: 15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Let us painfully honest here. Through education and the consistent pressure of the western culture we have made a brand of Christianity which is ultimately a system of doctrinal truths, albeit important, but we have almost despised the humanitarian and self denying works which Jesus manifested and taught throughout His entire earthly ministry. So why isn’t the professing believer who checks all the orthodox doctrinal boxes but cares very little about ministering to the poor and needy not considered “liberal” because he openly forsakes large portions of God’s Word? I could give reasons like intellectualism or patriotism or hedonism, but in the end it all goes back to self righteousness.

In this post I am attempting to expose something crucial that has been all but abandoned in the western brand of Christianity. And yet throughout the New Testament an undeniable and vital element of the faith manifests itself in works that minister to the least among us. And allow me to expose another aspect of our self righteousness. So many believers dismiss people who seem lazy or shiftless and we believe they are unworthy of our help. We see people using food stamps to buy things that they should not and we feel justified in judging them and withholding any help we might offer. Do you see what has happened here?

Why are we who were so unworthy and yet were shown the grace of God requiring lost people to live their lives with some integrity before they meet our standards for humanitarian help or gospel ministry? Where did we get this kind of attitude? From the political world. If you will only help those who you believe deserve it than you will help very few if any. Do not the lazy and the shiftless and the thief and the drug addict deserve to be ministered to through the gospel and the works of God’s love which see their eternal need in spite of their open sin? Are we going to weigh people’s sins and only reach out to those whose inventory of transgressions do not exceed a certain level? What kind of Christianity is that? We have not been called to assess people’s character before we help them. Many people who take advantage of the system can be moved by our love and kindness. Away with this kind of Christianity which only loves and ministers to those who are supposedly deserving of it. None of us would have been saved if God had placed that requirement upon us. No one is deserving of anything. No one is worthy of anything. It is all by God’s unfathomable love and amazing grace.

So it is up to us to set out to demonstrate the love of God in hopes that sinners will see and hear and believe the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ. Help those who you might not normally help. Love those who are difficult to love. Reach out to those who might be taking advantage of you in the natural but who might be reached by God’s Spirit through your kindness. How do you measure a depraved and fallen sinner who has earthly character against a depraved and fallen sinner who exhibits little earthly character? Does the man who murders twenty people deserve more sympathy than the man who murders five?

In the end, we are not called to judge the lost. They already stand condemned. We are called to witness Jesus to them by word and by deed. It is time for us to break out the mold that religious spirits have created for us. It’s time to preach and to BE Jesus to those who dwell in darkness. All of them.


Anonymous said...

Hello Pastor Rick, you've raised some very good points. Just a reminder though, that it's not just the western church, it's the mentality of the wealthy church in every part of the world. Especially those who see themselves as chosen.

I'm a person who gives a $ to those who ask. Many would say this is unwise, but the way I see it, we pray, expecting God to provide, and yet we won't even give a $ to a needy person ??? That's hypocrisy at best.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brother, this is so true.

I've read so many professing believers comments on political blogs that don't show the witness of Christ, on government food stamp and safety nets for the poor. It's incredible how they view poverty as always being self-inflicted. There will always be some small percentage of souls that have grown up in situations that keep them mentally trapped and unable to care for themselves. But for the most part many good people work hard and unexpected things happen.

To hear a christian speak against their government leaders who would want to keep money aside for the poor is unmerciful to the core. When my husband lost a steady job suddenly one day, among many others, we didn't just lose a salary. We lose equity in the house we had to sell, we lived off of savings, we sold half of what we owed in garage sales, beautiful things, for $2 and $3, just to help buy groceries. We were in our 40's and the church that we had tithed to for many years just ignored us; we were not longer attending there, but we had friends and had devoted so much time to music and supported them, and they knew our situation, but none called.

We did become recipients of food stamps for a few months and I called up the resources director and thanked him from the bottom of my heart for their generosity. I wanted to encourage them to know they work for an important cause. No one knows how low a human being can get when the world crashes down around them. We were at a point that we might have to separate, and each live in a different town so we could find any work. I knew then what it must feel like for a transient or a forgotten disabled veteran. There is a very fine line between getting up one day and being well, and the next being out in the street. My husband and I felt that if one more unexpected event happened, like sickness, that we would possibly not make it. My mom had had strokes that summer too and I had to tend to her and went through exhaustion.

I know that these 'christians' who yell and scream about their rights think that God destined that they live and excel in their exceptional country. But, if they really believe it's exceptional, and that it's based on christian principles, they'd know that the "exceptional" part only happens when they practice true religion, not abandoning widows and the fatherless and the poor and the mentally ill and the downtrodden.

It's a shameful witness to hear some christians get in the boxing ring and try to throw punches at secular leaders who have a conscience to do the 'pure religion' works. If not them, who will look after the weak? A pantry of clothing and a few boxes of cereal is not going to feed the many homeless in a country and maintain a nutritious diet for them every day. With expensive churches sitting empty all week, it doesn't make a lick of sense.


Anonymous said...

Oh those darned wetbacks and those homosexuals and those lazy bums on Food Stamps and those darned un-believers. What, just a minute though, if you are truly a born again believer, born of water and Spirit, you are the wetback and the sinner if you think about it. If you are truly a born again believer, you are the alien in the land. If you are truly a born again believer you will share with what you have with the poor, and if you do this without telling everyone you see then the Father in heaven sees this and He provides you with all that you need. We have one purpose as born again believers and that is spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, period. In the whole of Romans chapter 3 it explains this, and in verse 23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”. I see nothing that says one sin is worse than the other. I see nothing in the whole Bible, the Word of God, which even says we are to be activists in any of the national or inter-national social or political activities. We are to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to watch and pray.

Jackie, right down the road from where I live a church in Midland Texas is building a stadium style addition to their current building, at the tune of 30,000,000 dollars. I am appalled at the expense of this amount being put into property that does not last and really has no bearing on salvation.


Anonymous said...

Dear J., I understand the dismay of experiencing being forsaken by a "church" to whom you have given so much. The Lord is so faithful to provide and to sustain us, but I have found it usually comes from such an unexpected channel. The unclean ravens will often be our Father's means, the despised "sinners" will exhibit favor towards us. I've seen that the churches often fail to care for their own---what alternative but gov't. programs do they provide? Widows and "regular"non-celebrity folks struggle terribly while lavish "gratitude"is poured out on "leaders" who are already getting a salary and perks anyway.

You have sacrificed and sown into the Lord's house in real ways, and He is faithful to sustain you. May you experience joy even in the stress and cast all your cares upon Him, because He cares for you.

Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Are all sins equal? Are some sins worse than others?

by Matt Slick

No, all sins are not equal. We can quickly see this from Jesus' own words when he said in John 19:11, "You would have no authority over me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered me up to you has the greater sin."

Other Scriptures that verify this are also taught by Jesus when he said the following:

"Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 "Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you," (Matt. 11:21-22). "the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him, and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 “And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, shall receive many lashes, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. " (Luke 12:46-48).

Jesus clearly taught that there is a difference in the level of sins that we can commit. So, we can conclude there are sins that are worse than others by nature. We could easily say, for example, that stealing a paperclip is not as bad as murdering a group of people.

Cherie c. said...

Uh, Mr. Slick, Please keep reading your Bible.

Why do so many just stick to one or two passages of Scripture and then make a conclusion? We are to take the whole counsel of God, not just one part.

I hope that we do not do what the walled church is doing these days; taking one or two verses and making it the end all.

Jesus said that the only unforgivable sin is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit making all sin of equal weight. Also we learn from His discussion with the Pharisees that if we break one commandment, we break them all, when asked which is greater. Equal.

I hope we don't become like the walled church who uses one or two verses of Scripture to keep you distracted from all the other Scriptures they are breaking. Sin is sin and aside from blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, are forgiven when repenting. We have an advocate with the Father. Not an occasion to sin, but a way to be forgiven when and if we do.

Brother Matt, hello and nice to meet you. Written with love and respect.

your sister in Christ Jesus,
Cherie c.

Anonymous said...

Question: "Are all sins equal to God?"

Answer: In Matthew 5:21-28, Jesus equates committing adultery with having lust in your heart and committing murder with having hatred in your heart. However, this does not mean the sins are equal.

What Jesus was trying to get across to the Pharisees is that sin is still sin even if you only want to do the act, without actually carrying it out. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day taught that it was okay to think about anything you wanted to, as long as you did not act on those desires.

Jesus is forcing them to realize that God judges a person’s thoughts as well as his actions. Jesus proclaimed that our actions are the result of what is in our hearts (Matthew 12:34).

So, although Jesus said that lust and adultery are both sins, that does not mean they are equal. It is much worse to actually murder a person than it is to simply hate a person, even though they are both sins in God’s sight.

There are degrees to sin. Some sins are worse than others.

At the same time, in regard to both eternal consequences and salvation, all sins are the same. Every sin will lead to eternal condemnation (Romans 6:23). All sin, no matter how “small,” is against an infinite and eternal God, and is therefore worthy of an infinite and eternal penalty.

Further, there is no sin too “big” that God cannot forgive it. Jesus died to pay the penalty for sin (1 John 2:2). Jesus died for all of our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). Are all sins equal to God? Yes and no. In severity? No. In penalty? Yes. In forgivability? Yes.

While he is not the author of every article on, for citation purposes, you may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.

Hi Cherie I hope you find this article useful. What you write is mostly true but in my opinion what and write is also true.

Reine Gnade

Anonymous said...

Rick, if this is off context please delete it and do not post.

Matt, this sermon is not about which sin is greater or lesser, it is about reflecting Jesus, our Savior, and being a witness for Jesus through our lives. That is what is first and foremost for every believer. Now I have been a drunkard, a philanderer, a drug abuser, a fornicator and a murderer, and I have taken a paper clip from a place of employment, so that makes me a thief also.

When I hit rock bottom, I had nowhere to go, I was as good as dead. But instead of being angry at God, I got on my knees and cried out Lord help me. Which one of those sins that I committed was greater? Did Jesus come and say well because you committed this or that sin, sorry I can’t help you, you are condemned. NO!, because I repented and ask for forgiveness, I was washed in the blood of Jesus and forgiven of all my sins. And God put those sins behind Him, in the deepest part of the sea.

Under the law I should have been put to death. Under the grace of God and by Jesus and His shed blood I have everlasting life. I want to show all that I meet what Jesus can do and is wanting to do for all that come to Him.

I praise the Father for His grace, I praise Jesus because He gave His life for me, I praise the Holy Spirit because He lives within me and guides’ me. Thank You Jesus, Thank You.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Joel for your reply. My name is Josef Sefton and I posted those words by Matt which I believe are biblical!

Thanks Joel for sharing your witness. I fully support everything you say. The fact remains that it is very important to know that there are degrees of sin.

When David, for example, committed adultery with Bathsheba the repercussions for his disobedience didn't just impact him but many others!

It's also important to teach that certain sins are very hard to desire to turn away from- hence it's so important to warn people from becoming embroiled in pornography or racism to name but two debilitating, impure paths that can entrap God's creation.

Josef Sefton