Monday, December 31, 2007

What Evangelism Isn't

Mark Dever writes a very perceptive essay on evangelism, containing many points most Christians need to learn. Pay close attention to what evangelism IS NOT!


From Christianity Today Online

What Evangelism Isn't

We need to stop mistaking other Christian activities for the spreading of the gospel.

I remember as a little child hugging my father's leg at a gas station only to realize it wasn't his leg I was hugging. I was embarrassed! It was a case of mistaken identity.

In the matter of evangelism, I'm concerned about a number of things that people take to be evangelism that aren't. And this case of mistaken identity can have consequences more serious than mere embarrassment. Let me mention five things mistaken for evangelism.


Probably the most common objection to evangelism today is, "Isn't it wrong to impose our beliefs on others?"

Some people don't practice evangelism because they feel they are imposing on others. And the way evangelism is often done, I can understand the confusion! But when you understand what the Bible presents as evangelism, it's really not a matter of imposing your beliefs.

It's important to understand that the message you are sharing is not merely an opinion but a fact. That's why sharing the gospel can't be called an imposition, any more than a pilot can impose his belief on all his passengers that the runway is here and not there.

Additionally, the truths of the gospel are not yours, in the sense that they uniquely pertain to you or your perspective or experience, or in the sense that you came up with them. When you evangelize, you are not merely saying, "This is how I like to think of God," or "This is how I see it." You're presenting the Christian gospel. You didn't invent it, and you have no authority to alter it.

Personal Testimony

One of the classic testimonies was given by a blind man Jesus healed. When he was questioned after Jesus healed him, he responded, "Whether he [Jesus] is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" (John 9:25). The man disregarded the menacing threats of those more honored and respected than he in order to give this verbal witness to the power of God. It's a wonderful, powerful testimony, but it's not evangelism. There is no gospel in it. The man didn't even know who Jesus was.

An account of a changed life is wonderful and inspiring thing, but it's the gospel of Jesus Christ that explains what it's all about and how it happened.

Social Action and Public Involvement

Being involved in mercy ministries may help to commend the gospel, which is why Jesus taught, "Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven" (Matt. 5:16). Displaying God's compassion and kindness by our actions is a good and appropriate thing for Christians to do. But such actions are not evangelism. They commend the gospel, but they share it with no one. To be evangelism, the gospel must be clearly communicated, whether in written or oral form.

When our eyes fall from God to humanity, social ills replace sin, horizontal problems replace the fundamental vertical problem between us and God, winning elections eclipses winning souls.


Other people mistake apologetics for evangelism. Like the activities we've considered above, apologetics itself is a good thing. We are instructed by Peter to be ready to give a reason for the hope that we have (1 Pet. 3:15). And apologetics is doing exactly that. Apologetics is answering questions and objections people may have about God or Christ, or about the Bible or the message of the gospel.

Answering questions and defending parts of the good news may often be a part of conversations Christians have with non-Christians, and while that may have been a part of our own reading or thinking or talking as we came to Christ, such activity is not evangelism.

Apologetics can present wonderful opportunities for evangelism. Being willing to engage in conversations about where we came from or what's wrong with this world can be a significant way to introduce honest discussions about the gospel.

By far the greatest danger in apologetics is being distracted from the main message. Evangelism is not defending the virgin birth or defending the historicity of the resurrection. Apologetics is defending the faith, answering the questions others have about Christianity. It is responding to the agenda that others set. Evangelism, however, is following Christ's agenda, the news about him. Evangelism is the positive act of telling the good news about Jesus Christ and the way of salvation through him.

The Results of Evangelism

Finally, one of the most common and dangerous mistakes in evangelism is to misinterpret the results of evangelism—the conversion of unbelievers—for evangelism itself, which is the simple telling of the gospel message. Who can deny that much modern evangelism has become emotionally manipulative, seeking simply to cause a momentary decision of the sinner's will, yet neglecting the biblical idea that conversion is the result of the supernatural, gracious act of God toward the sinner?

When we are involved in a program in which converts are quickly counted, decisions are more likely pressed, and evangelism is gauged by its immediately obvious effect, we are involved in undermining real evangelism and real churches.

The Christian call to evangelism is a call not simply to persuade people to make decisions but rather to proclaim to them the good news of salvation in Christ, to call them to repentance, and to give God the glory for regeneration and conversion. We don't fail in our evangelism if we faithfully tell the gospel to someone who is not converted; we fail only if we don't faithfully tell the gospel at all. Evangelism itself isn't converting people; it's telling them that they need to be converted and telling them how they can be.

From The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever copyright © 2007, adapted from pages 69-82. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187,

Related Elsewhere:

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism is available from and other retailers.

John G. Stackhouse Jr. addressed "What Conversion Is and Is Not" in a 2003 article.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

"Receiving" the Gospel

Paul Washer's HeartCry Missionary Society publishes a quarterly magazine available for download from their website. In Volume 54, September-November 2007, the leading article is on the Gospel. In the article, the author muses upon and exegetes First Corinthians 15:1-4. ("Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,"

In particular, I found the section on "Receiving" the Gospel to be one of the best (and most challenging) explanations of both the requirements for and the implications of becoming a Christian. 

For your edification, I reprint (via my typing, thus I take full responsibility for any typos) that section here. Any italics or bold are my emphases on the author's points. Please visit the links above to read the entire article or the entire magazine.

For men to be saved, the Gospel must be received. Yet, what does it mean to "receive" the Gospel? There is nothing extraordinary about the word "received" in English or biblical Greed, but in the context of the Gospel, it becomes quite extraordinary, and one of the most radical words in Scripture.

First, when two things are contrary or diametrically opposed to one another, to receive the one is to reject the other. Since there is no affinity or friendship between the Gospel and the world, to "receive" the Gospel is to "reject" the world. In this is demonstrated just how radical the act of receiving the Gospel can be. To receive and follow the Gospel call is to reject all that can be seen with the eye and held in the hand, in exchange for what cannot be seen. It is to reject personal autonomy, the right to self-government, in order to enslave oneself to a "messiah" who died two thousand years ago as an enemy of the state and a blasphemer. It is to reject the majority and its views, in order to join oneself to a berated and seemingly insignificant minority called the Church. It is to risk everything in this one and only life in the belief that this impaled prophet is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

Secondly, for a man to "receive the Gospel" is for him to trust exclusively in the person and work of Jesus Christ as the only way of right standing before God. It is a common maxim that to trust in anything exclusively is dangerous, or at best, a very unwise thing to do. A man is considered careless to not have a backup plan, to not have an alternative escape roue, to not diversify his investments, or to put all his eggs in the same basket and burn bridges behind him. Yet, this is the very thing that is done by the man who received Jesus Christ. The Chirstian faith is exclusive. To truly receive Christ is to throw off every other hope in every other thing but Christ alone. It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul declares that the Christian is of all men most to be pitied, if Christ is a hoax. To receive the Gospel is not merely to pray a prayer asking Jesus to come into one's heart, but it is to put away the world and embrace the fullness of the claims of Christ.

To "receive the Gospel" is to open one's life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is quite different from the plea of contemporary evangelism that directs men to "make Jesus Lord" of their lives. What we must understand is that Jesus IS Lord of every man. The Scriptures declared that God has made Him both Lord and Christ. He has installed His King upon His holy mountain and scoffs at those who would rebel against Him. God does not call men to make Jesus Lord, but t live in absolute submission to the Lord He has made.

The man who receives the Gospel, and with it, Jesus as Lord, does a very dangerous and sensible thing. It is dangerous in a Narnian sort of way. After all, He is not a tame Lion, and He is certainly not safe. He has the right to ask anything of those who call Him Lord, but He is good, and worthy of joyful trust. Those who do not understand the danger of the Gospel call have heard it only faintly. The same Jesus, who calls the weary to Himself, may also ask of them everything, and send them forth to lose their lives for His sake in this dark and fallen world. 

To receive the Gospel and Jesus as Lord is also a sensible thing to do. What could be more reasonable than to follow the omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of the universe, who has loved His people with an eternal love, redeemed them with His own blood, and demonstrated uncompromising commitment to every promise He has made? Even if He were not this way, and all this goodness was not in Him, it would still be most sensible to follow Him for who can resist His will? It is for these reasons and countless more, the Apostle urges us"to present our bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God", and calls it our spiritual or "reasonable service of worship."

To "receive the Gospel" is for the world and self to be dethroned and for Christ to become our new epicenter! He becomes the source, the purpose, the goal, and the motivation of all that we are and do. When a man receives the Gospel, his entire life begins to be lived out in a different context, and that context is Christ. Although the outward signs at the moment of true conversion may be less dramatic, the gradual effects will be monumental. Like a pebble cast in the center of a lake, the ripple effect of the Gospel will eventually reach the full circumference of the believer's life and touch every shore.

Finally, to "receive the Gospel" is to take it as the very source and sustenance of one's life. Christ cannot be received as "a part" of one's life or as an addition to all the other good things that one already possesses without Him. He is not some minor accessory that dresses up our life and makes it better. In receiving the Gospel, He becomes our life. In John 6:53, Jesus taught, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves." In Psalm 34:8, David cries out, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." What could make it clearer? To receive Christ into our lives is for Him to become for us not only a necessary meal that sustains us, but also an exquisite meal in which we delight.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


People toss around the accusation of "legalist" or "legalism" quite frequently. But I wonder if they have ever given thought to what it means to be a legalist or to what legalism truly means. 

For your pondering, here is a quote from Paul Washer with a quick definition:

"Legalism is legalism when there is separation from the world and not a running to God."

People so often look at a person who is advocating separating from the world or has separated from the world himself and proclaim him to be a "legalist." I think Washer's comment is right on, because a separation from the world by itself would indeed be legalism, or the attempt to attain salvation through works. On the other hand, we are told to separate ourselves from the world...but unless we are separating ourselves unto God in the process, we do indeed practice legalism. When we separate from the world and unto God, we practice holiness and sanctification...which is what we as Christians are supposed to do!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Piper on Regeneration

The root of many of our problems in the American evangelical church today is that many (most?) who populate our churches are false converts brought in by the ravages of the heresy of "decisionism." This is discussed over and over in other parts of this blog, often in the form of preaching by Paul Washer. 

However, John Piper is joining the fray with a sermon series begun on November 18th addressing what it means to be "born again." The bottom line is a person who is born again actually is regenerated and thus exhibits the fruit of regeneration.

His first sermon on the subject can be found by clicking HERE and then scrolling down to November 18th. I highly commend the entire series to you...even though I have only heard the first one!!! It could well be the most timely sermon series for our church and for our nation. May his exposition be heard throughout our land....

Friday, November 02, 2007

Opportunity or Distraction?

I had the pleasure of sitting for an entire weekend under the teaching of Gregg Harris. One of the many pearls of wisdom he illuminated for us was this: Often opportunities and distractions look the same; the only way to tell the difference is to have a goal and to compare them to that goal.

I know that often, people are overwhelmed with the considerable number of "good" things available in life. Just think how many opportunities your church offers. Then add in the good extracurricular activities for your children. Then add in your own personal time with God. It doesn't take very long for a person's calendar to become saturated and a person's life to become overwhelmed. And yet, the thought is that they are all "good" things and therefore shouldn't be missed.

Our church has a very good mission statement. It is broad enough to cover virtually anything that could arise at the church and yet specific enough to provide a good filter for maintaining direction. It is: "Bethlehem Baptist exists to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ." Take some time to consider this statement. Look at how general, yet how specific it is. There is a distinct direction, yet there is broad application. The statement itself is then broken down into its parts, with each part described and discussed, to include the Scripture and Biblical principles behind it. In practice, every new idea, every new program is processed through that mission statement. If it doesn't contribute to the mission, it isn't adopted...regardless of any other merit it may have. In effect, this statement gives our elders the ability to discern opportunity from distraction.

This is what we as families need. We need a mission statement that will give us guidance and set a direction for us. If we will work to develop a statement along the lines of what BBC has as a church (broad enough to cover most aspects of life, yet specific enough to provide direction) and if we will base it on Biblical principles...we will give intentional direction to our lives and to our families. Once developed, this statement becomes a filter through which you as a family can process all opportunities in order to discern true opportunities from distractions.

A person or a family with Bible-saturated, God-centered direction is a person or a family that is intentionally building the Kingdom of God in this dark and wicked world. They are intentional. They are focused. They are bound together in common work. They are witnesses to the world. And above all, they are witnessing the love of God through Jesus Christ to their sphere of influence.

May I challenge you to sit down with your spouse and begin to hammer out a vision, a direction for your family? You will be blessed in the long term for doing so.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Satan's Sifting...

I am reading a wonderful little book I received at the Desiring God National Conference entitled, "Walk as He Walked." In the second section, the author is discussing how Jesus is going to allow Peter to be "sifted" by Satan, but has prayed that Peter's faith will not fail. He points out how, although Satan means for the sifting to be something that destroys Peter, he will actually be stronger for it. This is because Satan's "sifting" will take away all means of relying on self, thus forcing Peter to rely solely on Christ with no pretenses.

That should be the life of the Christian today. If we are following closely to Jesus, we should expect to be targeted by Satan for sifting, but we should also expect that Jesus will pray for our faith not to fail. We will endure hardships of all kinds, yet those hardships will draw us closer to Christlikeness as they strip away our self-reliance. The end result is a stronger, more Christ-dependent believer who makes a bigger impact for the Kingdom of God.

This entire thought is is stark contrast to the "health, wealth, and prosperity" message being preached at so many "successful" churches today. Below are John Piper's thoughts on these sorts of messages...and he pulls no punches and even loses some of his normal eloquence in the emotion of the moment.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A Pilgrim on Responsibility

As I have been quite busy lately, I haven't had enough time to compose enough of my thoughts for a reasonable blog entry. However, I have read through the wonderful writings of some others and thought I'd link one here.

The Peculiar Pilgrim writes a wonderful muse that started with a Pyromaniacs post on a concept Dan Phillips terms as the "responsibility index." I would encourage you to click over and read the Pilgrim's thoughts. If you want to read the post that started it all, you can click on the Pyro link at the beginning of this paragraph or you can click on the link in Pilgrim's post.

HERE'S Pilgrim's post...enjoy and be edified!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

The Conversion of Dying Man

I've had two recent posts dealing with the sincere request from my heart that all who would read them would take the time to test themselves to see if they are in the faith. The first is an article (HERE) and the second consists of links to some wonderful sermons by Paul Washer on the subject (HERE). While I wouldn't think it would be too hard to read the article, I do understand the initial reluctance to listen to over four hours of sermons. I say "initial reluctance" because once you take the time to listen, you will want to hear them again and again to let God speak to you in all the details (I've listened to all of them three times!)

So, to give you a glimpse of what I'm trying to get across, here is a YouTube video of a portion of one of Washer's sermons in which he describes the conversion of a man who has been given only three weeks to live. It is anything but what we in America have been taught about how to "lead people to Christ." There is no question the man is saved in the end...not because a human being told him he was saved based upon the repetition of a canned prayer, but because the Holy Spirit confirmed it in the man's soul!!!

May we all know a salvation like this...and it can be found if you will just humble yourself, turn from your sins (repent), and throw yourself at the mercy of God at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. Don't stop until God Himself has made it clear you have been saved, for only the Holy Spirit can truly tell a man he's been saved.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Correct Question

"Why do bad things happen to good people?" That's the question that is so often asked, especially in times of suffering. However, it doesn't take a lot of consideration to realize how man-centered the question is and how its underlying assumption of people being "good" flies in the face of God's Word. A much better question is, "Why to good things happen to bad people?"

Jim Bublitz at has a wonderful article/testimonial dealing with this question in real life...and how so many of our trite Christian responses just aren't correct. He ends with a YouTube video of a gentleman with a phenomenal testimony to God's grace through a lifetime of suffering. The next time you have something go wrong, think of these two gentlemen and how they place their whole life in God's hands, regardless of where it takes them. Take the time to watch and listen. You will be blessed.

You can get to it all by clicking HERE.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

"Test Yourself" Sermons

So if you read my last post and were convicted enough to spend some time in First John...and yet you are unsure about what to look for, God providentially showed me five sermons by Paul Washer that deal with this very issue...examining yourself to see if you are in the faith. They are free with registration.

Download them. Listen to them more than once...yes, all five of them! (I put them on my ipod in a playlist and listen when I am driving or walking or working in the yard.) Most importantly...apply what this man of God has to say to your life. It could be the difference between heaven and hell...for eternity....

Friday, September 14, 2007

Test Yourself...PLEASE!

A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God writes, "How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of "accepting" Christ (a term, incidentally, which is not found in the Bible) and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him. This is set before us like the last word in orthodoxy, and it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise."

How many self-professed "Christians" have testimonies that center around "accepting Christ?" How many people who haven't darkened the door of a church for years and who haven't cracked a Bible in years still believe they are saved because they "accepted Christ?" The sad answer is, "many, if not most Americans." How many of these lost souls place their hope of eternal salvation upon a "decision" made many years previous, when their lives now reflect minimal interest in Christ?

We have the problem of how people are being "saved" in the first place. Many are being told all they have to do is give mental assent to some spiritual truths and then say a canned prayer. A "counselor" then assures them they are saved (which is something no human can do). Simply put, that is a false gospel and results in false conversions. Salvation comes through repentance and belief. In order to repent, a person must understand his sinful standing before a holy God such that he desires to turn from his sin. There is only one place that person can turn in order to find forgiveness and cleansing...and that place is the Cross of Jesus Christ. He must believe in the atoning sacrifice of God's own Son, embracing Him as his only Savior and only Hope...his Treasure. But the true convert doesn't do this just once! The Greek words translated "repent" and "believe" are in first person imperative...that means they are ongoing. A person repented and believed, is currently repenting and believing, and will repent and believe in the future!

John MacArthur in his recent podcasts on "Evidence of Faith" points out that no where in the Bible is a believer ever told to look in the past for assurance of faith. Rather, the believer is instructed to examine himself for evidence, and those tests for a saving faith are found in First John. You will find they have a lot to do with a continuing faith and a life that has changed!

Dr. Albert Mohler says, "Contemporary church sees itself as a voluntary association of autonomous members, with minimal moral accountability to God, much less to each other." These are not people who have changed lives. They have confused religious duty, morality, and a social structure with a passion for Christ. They may even value religious teaching. But as Paul Washer concludes, if that teaching "...doesn't lead to holiness, it is only vanity." Certainly, these people are generally nice...but they are lost. A major evidence of saving faith is a changed life that stands separate from the world in obedience to Jesus Christ and God's Word. How many professing Christians actually look significantly different from the world around them? I've heard two very good illustrations of this, both from Paul Washer.

The first is originally from Charles Spurgeon describing true conversion. If you were to release a pig onto a stage where on the floor were both a bucket of pig slop and a nice steak dinner, you would see the pig charge headlong to the bucket of slop, shove his head into it, and eat with joy. That's what you would expect; he's a pig and that's what pigs do! But if you had the power to instantly change that pig into a man, he would yank his head out of the slop, vomit up the contents of his stomach (for a man cannot eat what a pig eats), and sulk in shame when he realizes you have seen what he was doing.

Prior to our conversion, we are the pig, happily feeding in our bucket of sin. God changes our heart. Immediately we can no longer stomach the sin, yanking our head out. We feel revulsion and shame toward our sin, desiring to be as far from it as possible. But God, in His mercy, forgives us based on the sacrifice of His Son, separating us from our sin as far as the east is from the west. Although we may occasionally remember our days as a pig and stick our head back in the bucket of sin in hopes of finding a morsel or two, we will always find it to be wretched and turn back to our Savior. We cannot help but do otherwise, for we have been changed!

The second illustration is a story about a visiting pastor who is late for service. When he arrives, rather harried, but nevertheless clean and pressed, he explains his tardiness as follows: "I had a flat tire on the freeway. As I was changing it, I dropped a lug nut and it rolled into the middle of the lane beside me. Without thinking I ran out to get it and came face-to-face with a 20-ton logging truck doing 120 miles per hour!" Now obviously the congregation would assume he is a liar or a lunatic. Why? Because no one has an encounter like that with a 20-ton logging truck doing 120 miles per hour and isn't changed! How much more should a person be changed by an encounter with the living God, the holy Creator of all that is?

As a Christian, you simply MUST have a life that is changed, that is different from your culture, from the world. You must love Jesus to the point that His Word is a lamp unto your feet and a light unto the path of righteousness upon which you are walking. Anything less is strong evidence that your salvation is simply an empty system of religious morality and social construct...and that will cause you to ultimately hear those most fearful words in all the Bible: "I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness." (Matthew 7:23) Remember...those words are going to be said to people who stridently confess Jesus as other words, people who are professing "Christians"!

Please. Please. Please...examine yourself.

Are you really different? Have you really been changed by God? Is Jesus Christ your true treasure? Get in a quiet place. Don't rely upon another human to confirm you are saved; test yourself! Open First John. Ask God to show you where you stand. If you don't pass the tests, fall on your face, mourn over your sin, and cry out to God for salvation. Grab the train of His robe and throw yourself at His mercy. Don't let go until He sends His Spirit to confirm in you eternal life.

(Note: Go HERE to a follow-on post that links to five sermons Paul Washer did on this topic.)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The African Spurgeon

Have you heard of Pastor Conrad Mbewe? Probably not.

As the pastor of a church in Zambia, he has gained the well-earned reputation of being "The African Charles Spurgeon."

This 10-minute clip from YouTube is a portion of one of his sermons...powerful, strong, no-nonsense...a call to give your life to Jesus for the advancement of the Kingdom. You will have to listen carefully if your ears are not attuned to the African accent...but it is worth your time.

After viewing the video clip, if you wish to learn a bit more of his history, click HERE.

Be blessed by God's use of this man!

Friday, August 31, 2007

Serious Men Hug, Too....

Christians who are "serious" can certainly enjoy a little laughter, too! In the past, our pastor has encouraged us to hug each other, something that in our part of the world doesn't go over well...especially between two men.'s a bit of help on the subject (thanks to Pastor Tim Bayly at the BaylyBlog).

P.S. Make sure you are in a place where you can laugh out loud before viewing this!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Love of God for His Bride

If you have listened to any of the links to the Paul Washer sermons I have provided both here and in my other blog, you have undoubtedly noticed that the content is generally fairly strong and in-your-face. Some in other venues have asked why he doesn't talk about the love of God.

Well...he does. The issue, though, is that to experience the love of God, one must first come through the deep, difficult pain of being convicted of one's sin and one's lostness and joy of being saved...and that is far more than a "decision" based on four "laws." But once you are soundly saved, oh...the love of God is deeper and wider and stronger than you can possibly imagine. If you aren't experiencing the love as Pastor Washer describes, you should again listen to his sermons on testing/examining yourself to see if you are in the faith (here). At the end of this post I will place two links (because the sermon is broken up into two clips) to a very lengthy, but extremely powerful sermon on the Song of Solomon as it illustrates God's love for His children. It requires an e-mail address and a zip code, but otherwise is free to download or to listen online.

Pastor Washer's sermon on God's love is so much deeper and more powerful than any you have probably ever heard. It is like comparing the following lyrics:

Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong
They and weak, but He is strong.

For the Christian, those lyrics are true, but compare what they say and the way they say it to the powerful words in this hymn...and you will get an idea of how Pastor Washer soaks you in the love of God versus most other preachers:

Oh the deep deep love of Jesus
vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean
in its fullness over me,
underneath me, all around me,
is the current of thy love -
leading onward, leading homeward,
to my glorious rest above.

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
spread His praise from shore to shore!
How He loveth, ever loveth,
changeth never, never more.
How He watches o'er His loved ones,
died to call them all His own;
how for them He intercedeth,
watches o'er them from the throne.

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus,
love of every love the best.
Still an ocean vast of blessing,
still a haven sweet of rest.

Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus,
'tis a heaven of heavens to me;
and it lifts me up to glory,
for it lifts me up to thee.

Find a quiet place and prepare to have God's love pronounced over you, restoring your soul and lifting your spirit to heaven!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

BOLD!!! or humble....

Steve Camp over at CampOnThis has a very good post on the need for Bold Orthodoxy, especially in the light of the "emergence" of the Emergent Church. And while the thesis of his article is truth regarding salvation, many of his points relate well to the ideas about post-modernism that I wrote about in a recent post at my other blog. Warning: both Steve's article and mine are somewhat you might want to go get a cup of coffee and settle in before clicking! ;-)

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Practical Word: Withholding Affection- Part III

I have written two posts with musings on First Corinthians 7:2-5 and the Lord's admonition to avoid withholding intimate relations from each other. The first post is HERE and the second is HERE. I am revisiting the subject because I have been both surprised and amazed at the number of people accessing those two posts via Google specifically searching for something on a spouse withholding affection. If my little blog gets that kind of attention on a specific subject, then I have to conclude it is something that is happening throughout our culture, and for this subject, that is not a good thing.

It seems that our culture has come to believe that withholding affection, often with the excuse that there is "hurt" involved, is a normal response to arguments and irritations between married couples. No one gives it a second thought and no one calls their friends to account when they know they have been using that weapon. Here we come back to the need for Christians to be different in order to live lives that magnify our Lord and Savior. We must recognize that withholding affection is anything but "normal" and that it does massive damage to the husband/wife relationship. We must recognize that this type of response is sin and must deal with it like any other sin: repentance and forgiveness. In general, "repentance" means to turn around or to turn away from. When we repent of a sin, we turn away from it, and in the power of the Holy Spirit vow to never revisit it again. And we look to the Cross for the forgiveness as God separates us from our sin as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103).

I suspect that part of the reason we consider it normal to withhold affection is that we esteem individualism and devalue relationship. Anyone willing to engage in "silent treatment" or holding affection hostage to performance does not value the marriage relationship above all else but God. They are looking inwardly and holding themselves up as individuals supreme above the marriage, an institution designed by God where two are supposed to have become one. God is very serious about marriage, using it as an earthly example of the relationship between His Son and the Church. If God is that serious about marriage, then we should be as well. And the natural conclusion to that premise is to place a value on the husband/wife relationship that is so extremely high that one would do everything possible to never, ever do anything to intentionally harm it.

Don't let this make you think I don't realize both husband and wife are sinful humans at their core, and as such do hurt each other and act stupidly and rudely. I did this very thing to my wife just this past weekend. I was rude and stupid, but nothing I did was premeditated nor was it intended to cause her pain.

So what do we do? I think first and foremost we must make commitments to each other to always assume the best of the other spouse's intentions and love for you. This means you will take for granted that any slight or hurt caused by the other person is NOT premeditated or designed to harm you. Husbands and wives who think this way should be able to address and deal quickly with the problem at hand in a mature manner. If you aren't thinking this way, then it is all too easy to bring out the weapon of withholding affection. This weapon doesn't help...ever. It may allow you to "win" because the other spouse (men especially) can't stand in its path and will often cave to the other spouse's desires. But in the long run, using this weapon seriously damages your relationship by eroding trust, eroding communication, promoting secrecy, promoting a "walking on eggshells" relationship (just to name a few). If you value your relationship and if you value what God thinks of your relationship, you cannot, you will not use this weapon under any circumstances.

Secondly, as brothers and sisters in Christ, when we witness or are aware of one of our Christian friends using affection as a weapon, we must approach them and make them aware of their sin. If necessary, we should take it as far as Matthew 18 commands. This suggestion will probably never be pleasant, but it could help a brother or sister in their sanctification and it could stabilize and restore a marriage. These potential results alone illustrate how this confrontation is actually an act of love.

As Christians, our lives MUST glorify God. We can often hold out a false image to the outside world, but in reality, families in which withholding of affection is a common reaction to conflict cannot truly reflect the Christ/Church relationship. God sees and knows. And our children see and will grow to imitate!

Given the immense response to the first two posts, my prayer is for all who read this and employ the silent treatment and withholding of affection to be appropriately convicted, turn to our Lord in repentance and faith, and work to repair whatever damage has been done to your relationship by the wanton use of this horrid weapon. And may God be glorified by strengthened marriages as a result.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Are You Saved?

Someone took it upon themselves to condense one of Paul Washer's best sermons into a four-minute video. It is a phenomenal summary of the most important question a person can ask of himself..."How do I know I'm saved?"

The full sermon can be found here, free for listening online or for download.

Click, watch, consider, and apply these wise words...and know if you are saved!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Practical Word...Continued

After publishing the last post, I continued to ponder God's command to not withhold affection/sexual relations from your spouse. So...muse number 7...

Why would God place this command in His Word? Verse 2 indicates it is due to sexual temptation. I'm sure that is a big part of the case. At least from a man's perspective, when my wife has been close to me, the sultry, attractive woman I see out and about doesn't even cause a second glance. My mind is focused on the love of the woman God gave me. Thus the ability to avoid lust (and any other horrid temptations and sin) is drastically increased.

But I also have to believe that God places an importance upon the closeness of the physical relationship because of the resulting closeness of the emotional relationship. If a married couple quit showing physical affection for one another, it isn't long before the rest of the relationship suffers. The reasons could be myriad, from focusing on "good" things like children, work, ministry, church...and thus not having the time or energy to devote to a physical relationship. Or it could be from the habit of using deprivation as a weapon in the relationship. Either way, God obviously values the marriage relationship over all the other things in life but Himself, and asks us to do the same, putting the physical relationship (and thus the emotional/spiritual relationship) above the children, above work, above ministry, above church activities, and certainly above any disagreements you have with your spouse. In fact, if each spouse is secure in the knowledge that they are loved unconditionally, my guess is the disagreements will be able to be worked out much more quickly than otherwise would be the case.

May all my married readers both give and receive the unconditional love God has provided for you in your spouse...for His glory!

(Further thoughts on this subject can be found in a subsequent post by clicking here.)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

The Word Is Practical!

In the past few weeks, I had the privilege of doing a little mentoring with a relative who is a new believer. One of the things that struck me as I looked anew at the Scripture from the perspective of a babe in Christ is how extremely relevant Scripture is to all aspects of real life, how practical, and how timeless. As I was looking for passages to discuss with him, I came upon this one: First Corinthians 7:2-5 (ESV) "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." It started a time of musing and consideration.

Muse #1: In verse 5, God is commanding both husband and wife to NEVER deprive one another of sexual relations. There is only one exception: mutual agreement for a limited time of prayer that always should end with sexual relations. That's it. No other excuses; no other reasons; no other exceptions. If anyone claims Jesus Christ as their Lord, they are under this commandment and to withhold sexual relations/affections from a spouse is sin.

Muse #2: If God is commanding husbands and wives to never withhold the ultimate form of intimacy from each other, then a strong implication is they also should never withhold less intimate forms of physical contact, either. No excuses; no exceptions.

Muse #3: One of the consequences of extended periods of time without sexual relations with your spouse is sexual temptation by Satan. I'm willing to guess that most of the time that temptation is aimed squarely at the man at least in the form of lust and anger, and possibly even as bad as temptation to adultery. Women: Your willing and happy and regular giving of yourself physically to your husband protects him and protects your marriage! If you love him, if you value your marriage, you will want to protect both.

Muse #4: I know that withdrawal of affection is often used by women as a HUGE club in a marriage. Since men almost always relate love to physical affection, a wife who chooses to wield this club will painfully shred a man's heart and soul, all the way to the core of his being; it is devastating to him in ways a woman can never understand. Most of the time he will respond in withdrawal, which is, in turn, devastating to the wife. And she clubs him again in withholding affection. And he withdraws more. And round and round it goes. Obedience to this command prevents this ugly cycle from ever occurring.

Muse #5: As an implication of #4...since the wielding of the club of withholding affection harms a man to the core of his being, if he has a wife who uses that club, he will, even in the good times, likely not discuss things of depth with her because things of depth often can be contentious...and he knows that she will bring out her club again if things get contentious. So you want conversations and discussions of important issues? Do you want deeper relationship with your husband? You have to ask yourself, "Have I used the club of withholding affection?" If you have, you need to see that for the sin it is, repent before your Lord, ask your husband for forgiveness, and cast that club down, vowing to him and to God to never, ever pick it up again for it is a wicked, evil weapon. Only when the husband knows he is safe...that he trusts you to never again pick up that club...only then will he open up to you, and will you receive the deep, intimate conversations and relationship you so desire.

Muse #6: It's really not comes from Beth Moore at her blog. "And, now, let's just go ahead and get it over with. You knew to expect it. They want more intimacy. You know what I'm talking about. Don't make me say it. And don't act like they're making you do it either. God agrees with them on this one. He's the very one who inspired the Apostle Paul to tell us not to withhold ourselves from one another except for brief seasons of prayer. (Apparently, some of you have been in prayer a LONG TIME.) My beloved Sisters, take it from a woman who's been married a long time and seen a whole lot of marriages go down the drain. PHYSICAL INTIMACY IS PROFOUNDLY IMPORTANT TO A DECENT MARRIAGE. With tremendous love and compassion, I will tell you what I told the women in the resulting session. You can say "no" or act miserable and disinterested so many times that you teach your man not to want you. But you can't teach him not to want. (Emphasis added) My man is going to want. That's the way he's wired. SO, I want him to want ME. Want yours to want you, too."

Dear readers, understand that God knows what is best for us in our lives and that His commandments are for our good and for His glory. Do not fall for the wisdom of this world that says to live by our emotions and by our feelings. Trust God to bless you in your obedience to all of His Word, growing you in Christlikeness and holiness. Husbands, love your wives. Wives, respect (and love) your husbands. (Ephesians 5:33) Husbands and wives...NEVER withhold affection. When you love and show affection to your spouse, you honor God and will ultimately build your marriage into a happy, Christ-exulting institution that witnesses to the world Jesus' love for His bride, the Church.

UPDATE: A continuation of thoughts on this subject can be found here and here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Ferguson on the Reality of Hell

About a year ago I wrote a post on the Greek word, apollumi, and the reality of hell. In that post I lamented that there was little preaching on the subject and that I was aware of a great sermon by Sinclair Ferguson on the topic...but I couldn't find it.

Well...a year later...I came across a link to that very sermon. It is entitled "Universalism and the Reality of Eternal Punishment: Contemporary Preaching." You can access it here.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Danger of Decision

My post, "I Have a Peace About It" describes the error of using feelings over Scripture in debates, arguments, and life decisions. There is another serious error that needs to be addressed. I cannot take credit for most of the ideas here and thank Paul Washer for much of this material, as I heard him bring this up in numerous sermons.

The error is that of "decisionism"... relying upon a single "decision" made at some point in our past for our salvation. When, in a moment of serious reflection, we question our salvation, rather than look to First John for ways to "examine ourselves," we look back to a decision and consider that it is all spite of how we may be living! This is very dangerous...but oh so common today because of the methods used for evangelism that are not rooted in the Bible.

Let's pretend you are a pagan and a Christian engages you in an evangelistic conversation. First he asks you, "You know we're all sinners, right?" If you even slightly nod your head, he moves on to question number 2... "Would you like to go to heaven?" Now, who in their right mind would ever answer "no" to that question?! When you say, "yes," the Christian offers to lead you in a prayer that you can repeat. He then asks if you were serious about what you just repeated. Upon your affirmative answer, he pronounces you "saved" and "born again." (Yes, I know this is a bit simplified, but it is rooted in the truth of how most evangelism is done these days!) Even worse is that this is how it's done with children in Sundays Schools and Vacation Bible Schools all over this country. What little child could not be convinced to repeat a prayer after an adult? And then that same adult pronounces that little child a "Christian".... The thought of that both angers and horrifies me. Now... look at the first two questions. They are nothing but marketing. The pagan isn't the least bit concerned about having offended a holy and righteous God. He doesn't begin to understand the depths of his own depravity or his offense against God. And of course, he wants to go to heaven. Lastly, praying a "sinner's prayer" is akin to saying a magic incantation of some sort. No where in the Bible is a person asked to pray this sort of prayer to be saved.

And we then wonder why so few "saved" people are actually in a church on Sunday! And we then wonder why our country full of "Christians" is racing toward every form of immorality. And we then wonder why our country is heading toward its own demise.

My dear readers, if you are basing your salvation upon a "decision," I beg you to read and reread First John in order to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith. I would then ask that you ensure that your salvation is built upon the rock of repentance (turning from your sin) and belief (trust) in the saving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. When these words are used, they do not represent a one-time action, but rather a continual repenting and a continual believing. You can't make a one-time decision and then live like the devil and expect to be saved.

I strongly suspect a time is soon coming where "cultural Christianity" is going to be shown for what it is: false. Pressures are already beginning to mount in the Western world that one day will require actual risk and persecution for professing Christ. At that time, those who have only engaged in the cultural Christianity will fall away, and the true church will finally be shown.

May each who reads these words be part of the true church. Amen.

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Latest from Voddie

If you've read much of this blog, you have seen me promote the preaching and writings of Dr. Voddie Baucham, a Southern Baptist preacher and evangelist. Among other things, he spoke at the Desiring God Conference in September of 2006. His recorded presentation to the Texas Southern Baptist Evangelism Conference is one of my favorite sermons of all time. You can find that link here.

He has come out with a new book that just arrived on my doorstep courtesy of I have to say that what I've read so far has been riveting, convicting, and God-honoring. If what I write on this blog and on my sister blog resonate with you, consider making Family Driven Faith part of your summer reading list this year.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Who's Bad?

This video was just brought to my attention by my daughter...hilarious, yet so very true. All true Christians could stand to contemplate the message a bit.


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

I Have a Peace About It

There is something that has come to my attention lately as I witness Christians arguing for positions or justifying their decisions or their behavior, either verbally or in the blogosphere. I'm sure it isn't new...but it keeps popping up in front of me, and thus I feel constrained to write about it.

What is it?

It is the use of certain cliches as argument. In particular, I hear "I feel God wants me to..." or "I felt led by God to..." or "I prayed and fasted and had a peace about it." These arguments are supposed to be show-stoppers in that they invoke an image of a finite, sinful human being acting upon God's will when making a decision. Because a person has an emotion that validates his choice, he determines that it must be God's will...especially if he has done something spiritual in trying to arrive at that decision...something like praying or fasting. The granddaddy of them all is the third example. This person prayed and fasted (good things that are to be commended), but then made his decision because of an emotion, a peace. And woe be it to the person who challenges their decision, for you are challenging their feelings and emotions...and that is not allowed in today's society. In fact, these types of arguments are not much more than Christian versions of the post-modern argument, "what's true for me isn't necessarily true for you"...because "who are you to say that my feelings are wrong?!"

We desperately need to get back to objective truth!

Let's be real and understand that in most of these cases, the decision was already made and now needed to be justified. If a person is under the stress of making a decision, he will have a peace when the decision is made, simply because the stress is gone and the decision is made. There is no guarantee that peace is from God and is confirmation of a correct decision.

So how should a decision be reached?

The answer is a simple one: Search the Scriptures for the commands, principles, and precepts that apply and then do what God says in His Word! Will you "have a peace about it?" Maybe. In a difficult decision in which the answer causes you to buck societal customs and be separate from the world, you may not have a peace about it. In fact, depending on the amount of persecution you are likely to experience, you may be more worried than before! But, in faithfully following the direction of God through His Word, you will be able to rely upon His grace, His mercy, and His help in getting through whatever hard times may come as a result. Imagine the glory God gets in such decisions and their results! Imagine the closeness you will feel when you are forced to put your entire trust in God! Imagine how much better you will know God! Imagine what the experience will do to your testimony of your faithful Savior!

In short, if you are using feelings to make life-decisions or if you hear someone use these sort of "feeling-based" phrases in an argument, you are very likely misled. Remember, "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jeremiah 17:9, ESV). If you have "a peace about it in my heart" have no assurance it is from God. On the other hand, if you go just a few verses earlier in Jeremiah, you find "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is in the Lord" (Jeremiah 17:7, ESV). In the Hebrew, a repeated word or phrase indicates emphasis, like when we use bold or italics. Jeremiah is being very emphatic when he says a man who trusts in the Lord is blessed.

So rather than depending upon feelings which may arise from a deceitful, sick heart, depend upon the Lord who has revealed His will in His Word. Search the Scriptures. Do the hard work. Pray for Scriptural guidance. And then act upon what God says through His Word. In doing so you are trusting in Him...and will be blessed!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Must-Hear Sermons

Over on my HomeDisciplingDad blog, I have a YouTube video of a sermon by missionary and pastor, Paul Washer, given to a group of young people at an evangelism conference in 2002. It was such an incredible sermon that I searched for more...and found many, many more! Here I would like to commend a series of four sermons given to Jefferson Park Baptist Church. The links will take you to a site where you can either listen or download for free. Each is a bit over an hour, but is well worth your time. My them and either burn to a CD or put on your iPod and listen when you can concentrate, for there are many diamonds in these words!

I Am Under Obligation

The Gospel: The Cross of Christ (too big to burn to a CD)

Regeneration and True Christian Unity

Test of True Faith

If you have ever "accepted Jesus into your heart," you NEED to hear these sermons. You NEED to hear the Biblical description of saving faith and how it happens. You will hear depth, you will hear passion, you will hear love for the lost, and above all, you will hear honor and exultation of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

May you be blessed by Pastor Washer's words.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Steve Camp and the "Church of St.Arbucks"

I will get back to my musings about Tozer's Keys to a Deeper Life, but I was reading through Steve Camp's ministry blog and came across a wonderful devotional post that I had to put up here. Every once in a while he posts under the title "From the Church of St.Arbuck's"...quite cute! This is one of those posts. He starts with one of the quotes Starbucks puts on their cups, exposes the fallacy of it, and then moves to a wonderful musing on true life at the Cross.

Please grab a cup of coffee, click here, and enjoy Steve's thoughts. Beware...he puts thoughtful application questions at the end!

Monday, March 05, 2007

"Believing" Commands- Keys to the Deeper Life- Part 4

A.W. Tozer chooses to end Chapter 2 of Keys to the Deeper Life with, “If we are alert enough to hear God’s voice we must not content ourselves with merely ‘believing’ it. How can any man believe a command? Commands are to be obeyed, and until we have obeyed them we have done exactly nothing at all about them. And to have heard them and not obeyed them is infinitely worse than never to have heard them at all, especially in light of Christ’s soon return and the judgment to come.” The chapter is entitled, “Panting After God” and is thus about a heartfelt, joyous seeking of a close, intimate relationship with God regardless of the cost. And yet he closes this topic with the above thought. In Tozer’s mind there is obviously a very direct and very important link between a close relationship to God and obedience to the commands in His Word.

If we have come to the point where we are “hearing” God through His Word and through a close, experiential relationship with Him, then we have gotten to a point of great intimacy with our Creator. It means we have come to know Him for who He really is: our Creator, our Savior, and our Lord. Think about the sort of “conversations” you would have: they wouldn’t be the typical chit-chat of friendship, but rather they would be your Lord instructing you on His desires for your life! In other words…commands! If we have gotten this close, we should already be well-versed about joyfully doing as He commands. We would have long since learned what a joy and a pleasure it is to follow Him wherever He might lead, doing whatever He might command.

The question then becomes, “What comes first, intimacy with the Almighty or obedience to the Almighty?” I’m afraid that more often than not we are seeking the intimacy first. We want the closeness, the joy of knowing God…and figure the obedience stuff can come later, if at all. Obedience might actually change us; we would rather know God on our terms. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. Tozer makes a very astute observation when he notes we cannot “believe a command.” The Bible is full of commands. Make a special note to look for them the next time you are reading. They are everywhere. Be this way. Act that way. Think in another way. Treat others in this manner. Look for the imperative in the sentence structure that makes it a command to the believer. We cannot say we believe in all of Scripture unless we take the commands at face value and actually obey them!

It is this obedience that will change our lives, for God will not leave us chasing a little white ball around a course while there is personal sanctification to be done and Kingdom work to be accomplished. If we insist on just hitting a little white ball with a club, then there is reason to doubt that you actually know God. And if you don’t actually know God, then you are not saved. Within 100 years, either Christ is going to return or you are going to die. There will be a judgment. Your golf handicap will not fare well before the judgment seat of Christ. Knowing God through the blood of His Risen Son and a sanctified life of ever-increasing obedience is what will enable you to stand before the infinitely holy and perfect power of God.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Knowing God- Keys to the Deeper Life- Part 3

If you spend much time in evangelical circles these days and listen closely, you will hear about “Contemplative Prayer” as a way of getting closer to God. It’s one of the latest “crazes” to make the rounds through the evangelical church in America. There is much that is very, very wrong and dangerous with contemplative prayer…but what is right is that those who are attempting this have as their motivation a sincere desire to seek and know God more fully. Their motivation is right; their methodology is heretical and New Age.

In Chapter 3 of Keys to the Deeper Life, A.W. Tozer says, “When the apostle (Paul) cries, ‘That I may know him,’ he uses the word know not in its intellectual but in it experiential sense. We must look for the meaning—not to the mind but to the heart. Theological knowledge is knowledge about God. While this is indispensable it is not sufficient. …Christian truth is designed to lead us to God, not to serve as a substitute for God.

Knowing God is the motivation for those seeking to learn Contemplative Prayer, but the flip side is also the problem that pervades much of Evangelical Christianity today. In those churches that have not yet become a watered-down pabulum of mush, good theological doctrine is still preached and taught. But Tozer accurately points out, “theological knowledge is knowledge about God.” We can have all the points of doctrine correct, verses memorized, all of our “i”s dotted and “t”s crossed…and still not know God. This is a very dangerous position in which to find one’s self. As evangelist Paul Washer points out in his sermon to a group of teens (video of this sermon is here), at the judgment people will come to Jesus, call him “Lord, Lord” (the double emphasis means they are serious), and yet Jesus will order them away because He never “knew” them.

To have a “deeper life” we must know God; we must know Christ. Lest anyone get the wrong message here, Tozer also points out that theological knowledge is indispensable for knowing God. This is what is wrong with contemplative prayer; it substitutes a New Age experience for Biblically-based, doctrinally sound experience. If one isn’t grounded in theological knowledge, he can be sucked into a dangerous trap like contemplative prayer.

Do you know God? Do you know Jesus? Is your faith only in your head…or is it also in your heart? Tozer speaks of Paul doing whatever it took to know Christ…enduring suffering, persecution, ridicule (maybe even being called a "radical" or an "extremist"!!)…and yet finding conformity to Christ “cheap at any price.” My prayer is that God would cause that intense desire to well up in all our hearts, now and forevermore.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Keys to the Deeper Life- Part 2

At the inspiration of A.W. Tozer’s book, Keys to the Deeper Life, in my last blog post I discussed the need for a “radical life” in order to know God and to keep grace from being “cheap grace.” At the end of Chapter One, Tozer more fully defines a “radical life” by saying, “We must return to New Testament Christianity, not in creed only but in complete manner of life as well. Separation, obedience, humility, simplicity, gravity, self-control, modesty, cross-bearing: these all must again be made a living part of the total Christian concept and be carried out in everyday conduct.” He is making the case that all our prayers for revival are for naught if we are not actually living the New Testament life. I would like to explore some thoughts about his list. Obviously it’s not all-encompassing, but Christians who live their lives in this manner would most certainly be well on the road to sanctification and would certainly affect their culture. Here are my musings on Tozer’s list:


I was listening to an archived webcast of “Generations with Kevin Swanson” today where Swanson was interviewing Greg Harris, one of the pioneers of homeschooling and father of Joshua Harris, pastor and author. Harris made a point about “separation” that gave me an “ah-hah!” moment. He pointed out that separation is NOT isolation. He gave the analogy of a Christian’s home being an embassy for a foreign land. For example, one would expect to find Spanish cuisine and Spanish culture in a Spanish embassy in Australia. The Spanish embassy is in Australia, but it is not of Australia. It retains its own culture and flavor, while being physically present in a different culture and country. The same holds true here. As ambassadors of Christ, our homes are to be embassies of heaven. One should find the fragrance and culture of Heaven when they enter, even though we are physically here on earth. They can also find out how to become a citizen of Heaven as well. Obviously like all analogies, this one does break down. But, it does help us to understand that as Christians, we must live our lives according to the dictates of our real home: heaven. Our lives need to witness forth and glorify God. We do that best when we quit trying to be like the world, when we quit trying to be “relevant,” and instead actually practice New Testament Christianity. That will separate us, but will not isolate us.


As I’ve written numerous times in this blog before, there is no question that God wants our obedience to His Word. That obedience is what will separate us from the culture. This is not obedience in order to earn our righteousness, but is the obedience that is part and parcel of sanctifying us after conversion.


As a people who have peered into our souls and found them wanting, we know the depths of our depravity and the amount of forgiveness we have received from God (and if you haven’t done that…you might want to question your salvation, for you probably don’t even know what you are saved from!) We cannot be anything but humble toward others when we truly understand the grace that has been extended to us by God. Pride is the natural mode of the flesh, and we must fight it at every turn. Do be careful, though, not to misinterpret humility as lack of conviction of the truth. One can stand for the truth in a humble manner.


This relates to the separate life. A separate life is a life of simplicity. We in the Disneyland of America get so completely tied down with our toys and our activities that we are like the rat on the treadmill…running, running, running, running, yet never getting anywhere. We justify all the activities as being good things or as exposing our children to different aspects of life, but in the process we miss out on the truly important things in life…things like relationships, service, love of our neighbor, time together as a family in daily worship. A simple life is not a boring life, but rather is a calm life, and a shelter in the storm that is our culture. Imagine your neighbors seeing your home and life as a shelter when their lives are raging in the storm…and then you will see the Gospel-witnessing power of simplicity and separateness.


I had to ponder this one a bit, but found it made a lot of sense. Our lives here are pitifully short in light of eternity. As ambassadors for Christ, we only have a short time to bring the Gospel, to advance His Kingdom. Those are critically important things…far more critical than the “bread and circuses” of our culture. Does it mean that we are grumpy and never smile? Of course not! We have our joy in our Lord and we most certainly can enjoy our lives. But it does mean that we understand the importance and the brevity of our lives and the difference we can make in our world…thus we go about our task with gravity and zeal. I think of the closing scene of the movie, Schindler’s List, where Schindler realizes the difference he had made in the lives of so many Jews…BUT he grieves because he realizes how many more he could have saved had he truly applied himself wholeheartedly. As Christians, we don’t want to look back on our lives and say, “If only…”


This is obviously a fruit of the Spirit. But how does it relate to living a life in the vein of New Testament Christianity? A person who is self-controlled is a person who is able to resist temptation, and thus is able to progress toward a holy life and more Christlikeness. A self-controlled person isn’t buffeted by the whims and pressures of the world because he understands where his life and his joy is…and it isn’t in this world! A person who is self-controlled reminds me of the meditation I did on “meekness.” A meek person would certainly be a self-controlled person. And if you think being meek is being wimpy…you need to read this post! A self-controlled person is a steady person, a rock and an anchor in a storm…and thus a witness to the world as they whirl about in the storms of life.


Do I need to even stress how modesty isn’t even on the radar screen of today’s society? And I don’t mean just in terms of dress, but also in terms of lifestyle. Do we keep up with the Joneses in ostentatious lifestyle choices? Do our children use pop culture to determine style of dress? Is the world our standard? Modesty says we should be using the Bible as a standard, both in dress and in lifestyle. In dress, our women certainly don’t have to be dowdy or wear a Christian version of a burqua…but they DO need to uphold a standard of virtue in the way they dress so as not to communicate messages of sexual availability. They also need to be sensitive to how their dress may cause their Christian brothers to stumble. (Ladies…ask your husband or your dad, and then listen to what they say; they see things you don’t when it comes to suggestiveness in dress.) In lifestyle, do we need to live in a mud hut? Of course not. But we do need to be cognizant of what we are spending our money on; our spending habits are the best indicator of what we truly love. Does our lifestyle promote relationship and service? Does it bring people to us in ministry opportunity? Is our home a haven into which we bring the unsaved? These are outworks of modesty in lifestyle.


Jesus made it clear that the world will hate us just as it hates Him. After all, we are His hands in the world right now. We bear His image. As a result, we can certainly expect persecution if we are to attempt to truly live a New Testament life. As long as we are tepid, the devil is quite happy to let us just roll along. After all, we aren’t really affecting anyone, and because we lack introspection, we ourselves may not even be saved! He’s happy if we just stick with cultural Christianity. But if we look to start a life patterned after this list…look out! There will be roadblocks everywhere…from family, friends, church members, and even strangers! There will be a cross to bear. But remember that Jesus bears that cross with us, enabling us to endure beyond anything we considered possible. And there is joy in the endurance, in the journey.

The premise of this chapter in Keys is that our prayers and appeals to God for revival in our country as the solution to our societal problems are not effective as long as we as Christians are not actually living as Christians. As long as we have compromised with the culture, we don’t offer the culture any hope, anything that is different. We as Christians may very well be the answer to our own prayers! Imagine the effect of the culture actually seeing authentic Christianity lived out in front of them. There would be those who would turn away in disgust…but God would move in the hearts of many who would see God’s active hand in our lives and want the same. That is called revival! And revivals change cultures for the glory of God.