Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Forget about 'self'

It is popular among Christians today to talk about 'forgiving yourself,' and also to combat depression or guilt by repeating mantra-like phrases like, "I am special in the eyes of God."

I just e-mailed a brother in Christ (Scott McQueen), and I wanted to post what I said here, because I'm hoping that this will explain it better than my attempts in the past to explain it. Previously, I've had Christians become offended and angry when I challenged the idea of 'forgiving yourself.' They apparently seem to think that I am advocating holding on to guilt, which I am certainly not doing. Also, when Christians try to confront their depression or feelings of low self-esteem by telling themselves, "God made me, and God doesn't make junk," or, "I am special because God loves me," I have tried to tell others that this technique does not work for me, because all my life, my subconscious has received input that has continually reinforced the idea that I am a failure. I have found that what DOES
work for me, which I also think is a more biblical method, is to agree with the thought that I am a failure (i.e., because I am a sinner, and because I am not perfect). But the remedy is not to try to convince myself otherwise. The remedy that works for me (and I have also done research on this, and I have read testimonies where others said that the other technique did not work for them either, but this technique DOES work) is first, to accept the fact that you are forgiven in Christ; and second, to take your focus off self, and instead, focus on Christ. For, after all, we are not here on this earth to build up self or focus on self, but rather, to expand and glorify the kingdom of God.

So, in other words, we (who are regenerated/born again) were enemies of God, and in our own 'works,' we are still only worth going to Hell, but through the forgiveness/atonement/sacrifice/righteousness of Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, we are accepted and loved, and we have been adopted into the family of God, and we have an inheritance waiting for us. Our past, present and future sins have been wiped clean, and we now have access to the holy of holies, which, in Old Testament times, only the High Priest had access to...and even for him it was dangerous, and they had to tie a rope to him, in case he was killed by God for some disobedience, so that they could pull his body out of there.

Though, as I said, a number of Christians would disagree with me, when a Christian says, "I am special, because I am made in God's image," or something similar, though they may not be incorrect, still, they are focusing on SELF. Ideally, we need to take the "I" or "me" out of it and focus only on Christ. People get depressed because they are focusing on their failures or their mistakes. If they forget self, and take their eyes off self, and focus only on Christ, they won't be depressed.

I have always been prone to low self-esteem. Many people tend to equate low self-esteem with humility. But actually, low self-esteem is a form of pride, because you're worried about what others think of you, or say about you. So, you're still focused on 'self.' If a Christian can truly die to self, they will no longer worry about what others think of them or say about them.

Similarly, and some Christians have argued angrily and very defensively regarding this point, it is popular among Christians today to talk about "forgiving yourself." But you can only forgive someone who has offended you. So, in a sense, 'forgiving yourself' is impossible. Only Christ has the power to forgive sins. Now, some of them will point out that there is also false guilt, also called psychological guilt, which is guilt over something which is not a sin. However, whether it is true guilt over a real sin, or false/psychological (i.e., imagined) guilt over something that was not a sin, in either case, the best (and only TRUE) remedy is to accept Christ's forgiveness. If you trust in the fact that Christ has forgiven you, then you don't have to worry about 'forgiving yourself,' which is, strictly speaking, not possible anyway. If you feel a need to 'forgive yourself,' then the real problem is that you haven't fully trusted that Christ has forgiven you. In other words, you are still in a works-based mentality, thinking there is something you still must do on your part. You are trying to wrest the task from Christ, and take on the task yourself. It all boils down to trusting Christ. I believe that the idea of 'forgiving yourself' is one of the many false doctrines that has crept into Christian churches today, but originally comes from New Age teaching and eastern religion. And again, it puts the focus on self rather than on Christ. I believe that those things which come from New Age influence are those things which tend to build up self and decrease the sovereignty and glory of God.

Also see my previous post, "Forgiving Yourself."

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Peace in the midst of the storm

A couple weeks ago, I heard an incredibly loud explosion about 11:30 PM when someone tried to kick in my front door, completely shattering the glass on my storm door and cracking the wood on the front door.

A week ago, I was laid off.

I am also suddenly in the deepest credit card debt, by far, that I've ever been in, because of the IRS and because of Overdraft Protection fees.

Jobs are very hard to find in this area. This county has the highest unemployment rate in the state, and the lowest pay rate.

We are in the middle of a global economic crisis.

The most dangerous type of light bulb, CFLs, which can cause headaches; skin problems; brain damage; kidney damage; can damage photographs; and causes interference to radios, TVs, phones, and remote controls, may become the only legal bulb by 2014.

Bird flu and swine flu may become pandemic (a world-wide epidemic).

And I suspect that things will only get worse.

In the midst of all this, the Pastor at the church I was at tonight talked about the peace of Christ for the Christian, which far surpasses any peace (or semblance of peace) that the world can offer. We who are Christians should rejoice that our names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life, and that we have a better home to look forward to. Therefore, I wanted to share a few verses about peace for the Christian.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid."
(John 14:27)

"And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:7)

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."
(Colossians 3:15)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Global Warming: How the Hoax Began

"Richard S. Courtney is an independent consultant on matters concerning energy and the environment. He is a technical advisor to several UK MPs and mostly-UK MEPs. He has been called as an expert witness by the UK Parliament’s House of Commons Select Committee on Energy and also House of Lords Select Committee on the Environment. He is an expert peer reviewer for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and in November 1997 chaired the Plenary Session of the Climate Conference in Bonn. In June 2000 he was one of 15 scientists invited from around the world to give a briefing on climate change at the US Congress in Washington DC, and he then chaired one of the three briefing sessions. His achievements have been recognized by The UK’s Royal Society for Arts and Commerce, PZZK (the management association of Poland’s mining industry), and The British Association for the Advancement of Science. Having been the contributing technical editor of CoalTrans International, he is now on the editorial board of Energy & Environment. He is a founding member of the European Science and Environment Forum (ESEF)." Source

Richard Courtney states:
"All available evidence indicates that man-made global warming is a physical impossibility, but if the predicted warming could be induced it would probably provide net benefits. However, there is a widespread imagined risk of the warming and politicians are responding to it."

"The simple fact that it is physically impossible for CO2 emissions to cause man-made global warming has no effect on imagined fear of global warming. (It is a simple fact that a mouse cannot eat a person, but some people try to jump on chairs at the sight of mice.)"

"Also, some global warming proponents are accepting a good financial income from the global warming scare and have become global warming propagandists to promote their interests. These include some researchers who obtain research grants and some environmental organisations who need donations. They are making a living by promoting fear of man-made global warming."

"The hypothesis of man-made global warming has existed since the 1880s. It was an obscure scientific hypothesis that burning fossil fuels would increase CO2 in the air to enhance the greenhouse effect and thus cause global warming. Before the 1980s this hypothesis was usually regarded as a curiosity because the nineteenth century calculations indicated that mean global temperature should have risen more than 1°C by 1940, and it had not. Then, in 1979, Mrs. Margaret Thatcher (now Lady Thatcher) became Prime Minister of the UK, and she elevated the hypothesis to the status of a major international policy issue."

"Mrs. Thatcher...desired to be taken seriously by political leaders of other major countries."

"Sir Crispin Tickell, UK Ambassador to the UN, suggested a solution to the problem. He pointed out that almost all international statesmen are scientifically illiterate, so a scientifically literate politician could win any summit debate on a matter which seemed to depend on scientific understandings. And Mrs. Thatcher had a BSc degree in chemistry. (This is probably the most important fact in the entire global warming issue; i.e., Mrs. Thatcher had a BSc degree in chemistry). Sir Crispin pointed out that if a "scientific" issue were to gain international significance, then the UK's Prime Minister could easily take a prominent role, and this could provide credibility for her views on other world affairs. He suggested that Mrs. Thatcher should campaign about global warming at each summit meeting. She did, and the tactic worked. Mrs. Thatcher rapidly gained the desired international respect and the UK became the prime promoter of the global warming issue."

"Overseas politicians began to take notice of Mrs. Thatcher's campaign if only to try to stop her disrupting summit meetings. They brought the matter to the attention of their civil servants for assessment, and they reported that - although scientifically dubious - 'global warming' could be economically important. The USA is the world's most powerful economy and is the most intensive energy user. If all countries adopted 'carbon taxes', or other universal proportionate reductions in industrial activity, each non-US industrialised country would gain economic benefit over the United States. So, many politicians from many countries joined with Mrs. Thatcher in expressing concern at global warming and a political bandwagon began to roll. Mrs. Thatcher had raised an international policy issue and thus become an influential international politician.

Mrs. Thatcher could not have promoted the global warming issue without the support of her UK political party. And they were willing to give it. Following the General Election of 1979, most of the incoming Cabinet had been members of the government which lost office in 1974. They blamed the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) for their 1974 defeat. They, therefore, desired an excuse for reducing the UK coal industry and, thus, the NUM's power. Coal-fired power stations emit CO2 but nuclear power stations don't. Global warming provided an excuse for reducing the UK's dependence on coal by replacing it with nuclear power."

“Also, all scientists compete to obtain their share of this limited resource. Available research funds were shrinking, and global warming had become the ‘scientific’ issue of most interest to governments. Hence, any case for funding support tended to include reference to global warming whenever possible. Much science in many fields may be conducted under the guise of a relationship to global warming. Activities that have obtained funds by this method include biology, meteorology, computer science, physics, chemistry, climatology, oceanography, civil engineering, process engineering, forestry, astronomy, and several other disciplines. Now, funds for this work are provided to most UK Universities and several commercial research establishments.

Much peer pressure deters scientists from damaging potential sources of research funds. There is especial pressure - loss of future career - to avoid being the first to proclaim the scientific truth of global warming and thus damage the research funding of colleagues. But failure to proclaim the scientific truth does not mean that many scientists believe in the global warming hypothesis. In 1992 - at the height of the global warming scare - Greenpeace International conducted a survey of the world’s 400 leading climatologists. Greenpeace had hoped to publicise the results of that survey in the run-up to the Rio summit, but when they completed the survey, they gave very little publicity to its results. In response to the survey, only 15 climatologists were willing to say they believed in global warming, although all climatologists rely on it for their employment. Also, the Leipzig Declaration disputes the IPCC assertions about man-made global warming. It was drafted following the Leipzig Climate Conference in November 1995 and has been signed by over 1,500 scientists from around the world.

The global warming issue is political. It induced the ‘Earth Summit’ that was attended by several Heads of State in Rio de Janeiro during June 1992 and is the reason for the Kyoto Summit in Japan in December 1997. Governments have a variety of motives for interest in global warming. Each government has its own special interests in global warming but, in all cases, the motives relate to economic policies. In general, the USA fears loss of economic power to other nations while this is desired by those other nations. Universal adoption of ‘carbon taxes’, or other universal proportionate reductions in industrial activity, would provide relative benefit to the other nations. Unfortunately, if a few nations adopted the changes they would increase their manufacturing, transportation and energy costs and thus lose economic competitiveness and industrial activity to all other nations. Developing nations cannot afford technological and economic advances that would benefit them and also reduce their increases to CO2 emissions as they develop, so they are seeking gifted technology transfers and economic aid from developed countries.

The press are interested in selling papers and the TV companies want to gain viewers. Threat of world-wide disaster makes a good story, and the statements and actions of politicians together with great increase in scientific publications gave global warming an apparent authority. The media began to proclaim the worst imagined horrors. For example, massive floods were predicted due to melting of polar ice, and one UK TV programme went so far as to assert that the polar bears would die out because their habitat would melt. The public relies on the media to provide them with their information, so they came to believe the global warming scare because they were only given one side of the story. Politicians respond to public concern, so the politicians’ actions began to gain popular support.

On face value global warming is an environmental issue. Many environmentalists joined the bandwagon. Governments were offering money and the public were concerned at global warming. Any environmental issue that could be linked to global warming was said to be involved in the matter. But the environmentalist interest was aroused by the impact of the issue. Contrary to common belief, environmentalists did not raise awareness of global warming, they responded to it. Simply, environmentalist organisations were part of the general public and decided to use the issue when it became useful to them.

Aspects of the global warming issue began to feed on each other. The system amplifier is the politicians’ support of global warming.

The UK Government lost interest in global warming when Mr John Major replaced Mrs Thatcher as Prime Minister. The flow of Government money began to stop for conduct of global warming research. UK scientists then began to speak out in denial of the global warming hypothesis. It seemed that the issue was dying a natural death. Then the ‘coal crisis’ arose in October 1992 when the public protested at the scale of pit closures. This gave the UK Government a new need to find an excuse for its policy of closing coalmines. Global warming fitted this need and so the Government committed £16,000,000 to an advertising campaign that scare-mongered about global warming and re-established the funding priorities for climate research.

Later, at the start of May 1997, the Conservative Party lost office to the Labour Party and Mr. Tony Blair became UK Prime Minister. The UK had initiated the global warming issue and a change of UK policy may have had a significant effect on the widespread imagined risk, but by then the global warming issue had become important in its own right. Many countries had a stated global warming policy, 122 of them had signed a declaration of intent to reduce CO2 emissions at the Rio Summit, and the Kyoto Summit was scheduled. The UK was one of the very few countries that had reduced its CO2 emissions since the Rio Summit because the UK had replaced coal-fired generating capacity by gas-fired generating capacity. This provided the UK with a position of authority in this international affair, and Mr. Blair committed the new UK government to strict action to cut CO2 emissions.

Governments' global warming policies

Man-made global warming has become a major international political issue. The imagined risk has become a real risk in the form of proposed government policies to inhibit CO2 emissions. The Rio Summit in 1992 proposed actions to constrain the emissions and the Kyoto Summit in December 1997 is intended to establish binding agreements that will commit nation states to the constraints. Although there are no real and potential risks of the global warming, the effects of the constraints will cause real and severe economic damage.
All industrial and economic growth requires an abundance of available energy supply. Anything that inhibits energy supplies reduces economic activity. At Kyoto, governments will be pressured to reduce CO2 emissions to far below their 1990 levels. This requires cutting fuel supplies and, therefore, economic activity. The effects would be much more severe than the ‘oil crisis’ in the 1970s because the constraint on fossil fuel usage would be greater, the increases to energy costs would be larger, and energy demand has increased since then.
Already, OECD countries (Europe, Japan and the US) have agreed in principle to adopt the ‘Berlin Mandate’ that requires them to cut their CO2 emissions to 15% below their 1990 levels by year 2010. The US Department of Energy (DoE) estimates that this would increase US domestic energy prices by between 80 and 90% and would increase the coal price to US consumers by 300%. Also, the DoE study determines that the Berlin Mandate would not reduce worldwide emissions of CO2. Energy intensive industries would be forced to move from the US to places where the emission constraints did not exist or were not enforced. This could even result in an increase to the emissions because the less-controlled places are likely to have less energy efficient industries. The DoE study goes further by saying that its findings are not specific to the US but apply to every industrialised country.
The US DoE study is supported by a similar study commissioned by the German government. That determined the cost to Germany of fulfilling the Berlin Mandate would be about US$500 billion and the loss of 250,000 jobs.
Industrialised countries would not suffer alone. The economy of every country is affected by the performance of the world economy. The economic disruption in the developed world would harm economic activity everywhere. The largest affects would be in the developed countries because their economies are largest. But the world’s poorest peoples would suffer the worst effects (i.e., people who are near to starvation are starved by economic disruption.).
A rational assessment of appropriate policies would include cost/benefit analysis, but imagined risk is not rational. All the proposed responses to the imagined risk of man-made global warming would increase starvation and poverty while inhibiting economic development throughout the entire world. And CO2 emissions would not be reduced and may be increased. In practice, politicians are accepting the predictions of climate models as being predictions of the future, and they are acting to change that future. This is similar to the behaviour of people who believe horoscope predictions of future harm so they avoid situations where that harm could happen.“ Source

Also see this

Friday, April 24, 2009

Motivation to see people saved from Hell?

At the Great White Throne Judgment, people will be judged to see whether they will enter Heaven or be cast into Hell; only those who have received the holy righteousness of Christ, through His shed blood, will be able to enter Heaven. All others are stained with sin, and will be cast into outer darkness, where there is gnashing of teeth, where their worm never dies, where the sulfurous smoke never ceases to rise, and the flames never die.

But there will be a second judgment as well: the Bema Seat Judgment, also called the Judgment Seat of Christ, where the Bible says that the saved (born again) person's works will be tested by fire, and everything that is not done truly for the sake of Christ will be burned up (it will be as wood, hay and stubble, which burn in the fire). Only those things done for Christ will last, for which the Christian will gain a reward (but will then cast their crowns at Jesus' feet, because it is all due to Jesus anyway). With this in mind:

    what is our motivation concerning evangelism?

  • Believe it or not, some of our motives for evangelizing are often selfish.

  • Some churches are more concerned with not having to close their doors a final time than they are with loving God by participating in His plan of redeeming others.

  • Some individuals are more concerned with being right, or winning an argument, or appearing intelligent to others, than they are with obeying God and loving the lost.

    We should evangelize out of obedience to God.

  • For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel (1Cor 9:16). Paul is motivated by the compulsion of the Spirit.

  • Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matt 28:18-20). We're commanded to do evangelism by making disciples. The command in itself, therefore, is designed to elicit obedience.

So, first, we are commanded to go out and tell others about Jesus.
Second, we are commanded not only to witness to them, but if they get saved, to then disciple them.
Third, we are to do all this because Jesus told us to: out of love and obedience to Christ, and out of love and compassion for people who are headed for everlasting horror in Hell, that they might come to know Christ personally and be saved from that horrible place.

(Some info is from:

Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Go Green": God's way!

God Owns the Creation

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters." (Psalm 24:1-2; cf. Psalm 89:11; 1 Corinthians 10:26)

God Sustains the Creation

"In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10)

"He is before all things, and in him all things hold together." (Colossians 1:17)

"He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate-bringing forth food from the earth." (Psalm 104:10-14)

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." (Hebrews 1:3)

God's Concern for Animals

"And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you." (Genesis 6:19)

"Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief." (Exodus 23:12; cf. Deuteronomy 5:14)

"You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain." (Deuteronomy 25:4)

"Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God's sight." (Luke 12:6; cf. Matthew 10:29)

Command to Care for Creation

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." (Genesis 2:15)

"The land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord. For six years sow your fields, and for six years prune your vineyards and garner their crops. But in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the Lord.... The land is to have a year of rest." (Leviticus 25:2-5; cf. Exodus 23:10-11)

"If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?" (Deuteronomy 20:19)

Man is to rule over Creation as a (temporary) steward

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." (Genesis 1:26)

Humans Have Defiled the Land (through their sin)

"How long will the land lie parched and the grass in every field be withered? Because those who live in it are wicked, the animals and birds have perished." (Jeremiah 12:4)

"There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land mourns, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the fish of the sea are dying." (Hosea 4:1-3)

"We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time." (Romans 8:22)

Consequences of Defiling the Land

"He turned rivers into a desert, flowing springs into thirsty ground, and fruitful land into a saltwaste, because of the wickedness of those who lived there." (Psalm 107:33-34)

"Woe to you who add house to house and join field to field till no space is left and you live alone in the land. The LORD almighty has declared in my hearing: 'Surely the great houses will become desolate, the fine mansions left without occupants. A ten-acre vineyard will produce only a bath of wine, a homer of seed only an ephah of grain.'" (Isaiah 5:8-10)

"The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers, the heavens languish together with the earth. The earth lies polluted under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse devours the earth; its inhabitants suffer for their guilt." (Isaiah 24:4-6)

"You have polluted the land with your whoring and wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come." (Jeremiah 3:2-3)

Creation Testifies of the Creator

"Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:7-10)

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world." (Psalm 19:1-4; cf. Psalm 97:6)

"Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse." (Romans 1:20)

Because of sin, God will burn it all up

"But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!" (2 Peter 3:10-12)

God will destroy this old, cursed Earth and will make it all brand-new

"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." (Revelation 21:1)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An imposition?

    Many people equate evangelism with imposition - someone imposing their religious views on another person as a ploy for power or control. But this idea is mistaken.

  • To equate evangelism with imposition implies that Christianity is only subjectively true - true and binding for me, but not for others. Christianity is not man's subjective opinion. It is God's objective truth, regardless of our subjective opinions.

  • To equate evangelism with imposition implies that Christians are able to convert people themselves, which is entirely false. In fact, of all the religions in the world, Christianity is the one least amenable to such imposition because of its theology of conversion.

  • Humanity is so entrenched in sin that unless God's Spirit does the converting work Himself, none of us would ever repent and believe.

  • Therefore, Christianity is actually unique among world religions for the impossibility of imposing its belief structure on others. Only God convinces people to repent and believe.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Thinking about Evangelism

"Ever since the inception of the Billy Graham Crusades in the 50's, the rise of the ecumenical movement, and the proliferation of parachurch groups, evangelism has come to mean different things to different people. To some, doing evangelism means inviting people to a church service or a Crusade where they are urged to walk an aisle and pray a prayer. Indeed, many can scarcely imagine genuine conversions happening otherwise. To others, evangelism is much less a monologue and invitation than it is a dialogue and conversation. The thought of a speaker imposing his own seemingly speculative views on a helplessly captive audience is too much for some broad spirits to bear. For others, evangelism has become equated with initiating conversations with strangers, sharing gospel tracts, praying a prayer, and sometimes even downplaying the importance of theological development. Waiting for unbelievers to observe something different in Christians is perceived in some quarters as naïve and even lazy. Still others leave evangelism to the pros - pastors, seminary professors, youth leaders, and the like. After all, if evangelism is so important, who am I to try it?"

Thursday, April 16, 2009

True and False statements about evangelism

Christians should be a witness of Jesus Christ locally, regionally and throughout the world.


Acts 1:8 - "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

Evangelism should be sensitive and relevant to the recipient.


1 Corinthians 9:19-23 - "For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."

Evangelism should take place only if we have the time.


Acts 5:42 - "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ."

Evangelism should include the preaching of repentance and remission of sins.


Luke 24:47 - "And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

Evangelism doesn't include showing your good works before mankind.


Matthew 5:16 - "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

The laborers are many, but the harvest of souls is few.


Luke 10:1-2 - "After these things the Lord appointed other seventy also, and sent them two and two before his face into every city and place, whither he himself would come. Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest."

An evangelist is rewarded by God based upon whether they establish or disciple new converts.


1 Corinthians 3:6-9 - "I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase. Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building."

(adapted from "Evangelism Quiz" at

A friend e-mailed me the above photo, along with the link

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Door-to-door evangelism

“The two fastest-growing church bodies in the United States and Canada, according to a newly published report, are ones whose beliefs are known to conflict with traditional Christian teaching.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, regarded by many Christians as cults, reported the largest membership increases in a year, according to the National Council of Churches’ 2008 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches.”

"Fact: Recent Mormon Church statistics show that they knock 1000 doors before they typically set up ONE study. (Mormon newsletter for missionaries shown to James Palmer of We Care Ministries by a Mormon Elder)

Fact: We Care Ministries under the direction of White’s Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, LA has found that on average, during their campaigns, someone is found home for every six doors knocked. A study is set up for every three doors where someone is found home. When studies are set up, one-half of these studies result in a baptism into Christ. This means that on average a conversion is made, a soul is saved for every 36 doors that are knocked on in We Care Campaigns.

The ratio of doors knocked to studies set up for We Care Ministries (one out of 18) compared to that of Mormons (one out of 1000) is striking. What we should see as embarrassing however, is the fact that in spite of their relatively unfruitful door-to-door evangelism, the Mormon Church is one of the fastest growing religious bodies in the U.S. today while churches of Christ have had essentially zero growth in the U.S. for many years. Mormon numbers have more than doubled in just over 20 years; Jehovah’s Witness numbers have increased 75% in the U.S. in the last 20 years. To what do the Mormons attribute their growth? Door-to-door evangelism. To what do the Jehovah’s Witnesses attribute their growth? Door-to-door evangelism."
(From Door-to-Door Evangelism Facts)

"In 1960, D. James Kennedy graduated from seminary and began preaching at the Coral Ridge Church in Fort Lauderdale, FL. After just eight months of ministry there, the congregation dwindled from 45 to 17 believers. Although he was very discouraged about what was happening, he would not give up. He realized the problem was that he lacked courage to confront unbelievers with the truth of the gospel. To his surprise, he was invited to Decatur, GA to conduct a gospel campaign for ten days. He preached each evening, but during the mornings and afternoons, he received training and visited homes, presenting the gospel door-to-door. Those experiences at the doorways of the unsaved would transform his ministry completely. After the evangelistic campaign he returned to the Coral Ridge Church, where he implemented the principles he had learned in Georgia—he called these principles “Evangelism Explosion”. By presenting unsaved men and women with the claims of the gospel on their doorsteps, the Coral Ridge Church grew from 17 individuals to over 2,000 in nine years . These simple door-to-door evangelistic principles would be the means of winning thousands to Christ in the United States and in 93 other lands throughout the world."
(from Plymouth Brethren. Originally from D. James Kennedy, Evangelism Explosion, Wheaton, IL, Tyndale House Publishers, 1977, p. 6.)

"Door-to-door evangelism is one of the few ways that each family in a city can be reached with the gospel. The Lord has effectively used this method throughout the history of the church, from the time of the early church (Acts 20:20) to the modern day. Today, church leaders are calling for renewed efforts in teaching and training Christians how to use door-to-door evangelism, proving the timelessness of this evangelistic method. In a study of the fastest growing 576 Southern Baptist churches in the U.S., Southern Baptist researcher Dr. Thomas Rainer concluded that traditional door-to-door evangelism was still a very useful evangelistic method. In the churches surveyed, 50.2% of these churches ranked weekly door-to-door evangelism as one of their most effective evangelistic tools. Bill Hohenstreet, of Post Falls Baptist Church in Post Falls, Idaho states that door-to-door visitation was critical to their evangelistic outreach. He explained that their primary outreach efforts were door-to-door, cold-call visitation, and Tuesday evening visitation using a prospect list. This church of two hundred saw forty-eight individuals come to faith in Jesus Christ and baptized in 1996. “Churches that rated door-to-door evangelism highly did not believe that it was any less effective or resistance to visits was any greater than in years past.” (Thomas Rainer, Effective Evangelistic Churches, Nashville, TN, Broadman, 1996, p. 20). Churches throughout the United States are beginning to find that consistent evangelistic visitation, when followed up with literature, Bible study, and hospitality are effective means in winning the lost to Christ. Nevertheless, door-to-door evangelism is not without its critics. Since 1973 church growth experts have unwisely labeled this method as old-fashioned and ineffective in modern society. However, recent studies have challenged the validity of these widely-held convictions of church growth researchers. Thomas Rainer, who conducted a survey of the fastest growing churches, speaks of this issue when he writes, “But what about the studies of growing churches which made the conclusion that traditional door-to-door evangelism was on the decline? The research of those studies was based on growing churches, not necessarily churches that were increasing in size by conversion growth. In fact, many of the churches were hardly growing at all through new converts, but by Christians who were leaving one church to join another. Additionally, the other studies rarely looked at more than forty to fifty churches; our research is based upon a study of over 500 churches.” (Thomas Rainer, Effective Evangelistic Churches, Nashville, TN, Broadman, 1996, p. 19, 41). The results of this recent study have soundly contradicted the tenaciously-held beliefs of church growth experts. This fact has caused concern among many church leaders, and has led them to re-examine their evangelistic methods. Many are beginning to see that traditional methods are indeed Biblical, important, and effective means for producing conversion growth in churches."
(To read the rest of the article, go to: Plymouth Brethren.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Evidence for the Resurrection

by Josh McDowell

For centuries many of the world's distinguished philosophers have assaulted Christianity as being irrational, superstitious and absurd. Many have chosen simply to ignore the central issue of the resurrection. Others have tried to explain it away through various theories. But the historical evidence just can't be discounted.

A student at the University of Uruguay said to me. "Professor McDowell, why can't you refute Christianity?"

"For a very simple reason," I answered. "I am not able to explain away an event in history--the resurrection of Jesus Christ."

How can we explain the empty tomb? Can it possibly be accounted for by any natural cause?

After more than 700 hours of studying this subject, I have come to the conclusion that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is either one of the most wicked, vicious, heartless hoaxes ever foisted on the minds of human beings--or it is the most remarkable fact of history.

Here are some of the facts relevant to the resurrection: Jesus of Nazareth, a Jewish prophet who claimed to be the Christ prophesied in the Jewish Scriptures, was arrested, was judged a political criminal, and was crucified. Three days after His death and burial, some women who went to His tomb found the body gone. In subsequent weeks, His disciples claimed that God had raised Him from the dead and that He appeared to them various times before ascending into heaven.

From that foundation, Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire and has continued to exert great influence down through the centuries.

The New Testament accounts of the resurrection were being circulated within the lifetimes of men and women alive at the time of the resurrection. Those people could certainly have confirmed or denied the accuracy of such accounts.

The writers of the four Gospels either had themselves been witnesses or else were relating the accounts of eyewitnesses of the actual events. In advocating their case for the gospel, a word that means "good news," the apostles appealed (even when confronting their most severe opponents) to common knowledge concerning the facts of the resurrection.

F. F. Bruce, Rylands professor of biblical criticism and exegesis at the University of Manchester, says concerning the value of the New Testament records as primary sources: "Had there been any tendency to depart from the facts in any material respect, the possible presence of hostile witnesses in the audience would have served as a further corrective."

Because the New Testament provides the primary historical source for information on the resurrection, many critics during the 19th century attacked the reliability of these biblical documents.

By the end of the 19th century, however, archaeological discoveries had confirmed the accuracy of the New Testament manuscripts. Discoveries of early papyri bridged the gap between the time of Christ and existing manuscripts from a later date.

Those findings increased scholarly confidence in the reliability of the Bible. William F. Albright, who in his day was the world's foremost biblical archaeologist, said: "We can already say emphatically that there is no longer any solid basis for dating any book of the New Testament after about A.D. 80, two full generations before the date between 130 and 150 given by the more radical New Testament critics of today."

Coinciding with the papyri discoveries, an abundance of other manuscripts came to light (over 24,000 copies of early New Testament manuscripts are known to be in existence today). The historian Luke wrote of "authentic evidence" concerning the resurrection. Sir William Ramsay, who spent 15 years attempting to undermine Luke credentials as a historian, and to refute the reliability of the New Testament, finally concluded: "Luke is a historian of the first rank . . . This author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians. "

I claim to be an historian. My approach to Classics is historical. And I tell you that the evidence for the life, the death, and the resurrection of Christ is better authenticated than most of the facts of ancient history . . .

E. M. Blaiklock
Professor of Classics
Auckland University

The New Testament witnesses were fully aware of the background against which the resurrection took place. The body of Jesus, in accordance with Jewish burial custom, was wrapped in a linen cloth. About 100 pounds of aromatic spices, mixed together to form a gummy substance, were applied to the wrappings of cloth about the body. After the body was placed in a solid rock tomb, an extremely large stone was rolled against the entrance of the tomb. Large stones weighing approximately two tons were normally rolled (by means of levers) against a tomb entrance.

A Roman guard of strictly disciplined fighting men was stationed to guard the tomb. This guard affixed on the tomb the Roman seal, which was meant to "prevent any attempt at vandalizing the sepulcher. Anyone trying to move the stone from the tomb's entrance would have broken the seal and thus incurred the wrath of Roman law.

But three days later the tomb was empty. The followers of Jesus said He had risen from the dead. They reported that He appeared to them during a period of 40 days, showing Himself to them by many "infallible proofs." Paul the apostle recounted that Jesus appeared to more than 500 of His followers at one time, the majority of whom were still alive and who could confirm what Paul wrote. So many security precautions were taken with the trial, crucifixion, burial, entombment, sealing, and guarding of Christ's tomb that it becomes very difficult for critics to defend their position that Christ did not rise from the dead. Consider these facts:

As we have said, the first obvious fact was the breaking of the seal that stood for the power and authority of the Roman Empire. The consequences of breaking the seal were extremely severe. The FBI and CIA of the Roman Empire were called into action to find the man or men who were responsible. If they were apprehended, it meant automatic execution by crucifixion upside down. People feared the breaking of the seal. Jesus' disciples displayed signs of cowardice when they hid themselves. Peter, one of these disciples, went out and denied Christ three times.

As we have already discussed, another obvious fact after the resurrection was the empty tomb. The disciples of Christ did not go off to Athens or Rome to preach that Christ was raised from the dead. Rather, they went right back to the city of Jerusalem, where, if what they were teaching was false, the falsity would be evident. The empty tomb was "too notorious to be denied." Paul Althaus states that the resurrection "could have not been maintained in Jerusalem for a single day, for a single hour, if the emptiness of the tomb had not been established as a fact for all concerned."

Both Jewish and Roman sources and traditions admit an empty tomb. Those resources range from Josephus to a compilation of fifth-century Jewish writings called the "Toledoth Jeshu." Dr. Paul Maier calls this "positive evidence from a hostile source, which is the strongest kind of historical evidence. In essence, this means that if a source admits a fact decidedly not in its favor, then that fact is genuine."

Gamaliel, who was a member of the Jewish high court, the Sanhedrin, put forth the suggestion that the rise of the Christian movement was God's doing; he could not have done that if the tomb were still occupied, or if the Sanhedrin knew the whereabouts of Christ's body.

Paul Maier observes that " . . . if all the evidence is weighed carefully and fairly, it is indeed justifiable, according to the canons of historical research, to conclude that the sepulcher of Joseph of Arimathea, in which Jesus was buried, was actually empty on the morning of the first Easter. And no shred of evidence has yet been discovered in literary sources, epigraphy, or archaeology that would disprove this statement."

On that Sunday morning the first thing that impressed the people who approached the tomb was the unusual position of the one and a half to two ton stone that had been lodged in front of the doorway. All the Gospel writers mention it.

There exists no document from the ancient world, witnessed by so excellent a set of textual and historical testimonies . . . Skepticism regarding the historical credentials of Christianity is based upon an irrational bias.

Clark Pinnock
Mcmaster University

Those who observed the stone after the resurrection describe its position as having been rolled up a slope away not just from the entrance of the tomb, but from the entire massive sepulcher. It was in such a position that it looked as if it had been picked up and carried away. Now, I ask you, if the disciples had wanted to come in, tiptoe around the sleeping guards, and then roll the stone over and steal Jesus' body, how could they have done that without the guards' awareness?

The Roman guards fled. They left their place of responsibility. How can their attrition he explained, when Roman military discipline was so exceptional? Justin, in Digest #49, mentions all the offenses that required the death penalty. The fear of their superiors' wrath and the possibility of death meant that they paid close attention to the minutest details of their jobs. One way a guard was put to death was by being stripped of his clothes and then burned alive in a fire started with his garments. If it was not apparent which soldier had failed in his duty, then lots were drawn to see which one wand be punished with death for the guard unit's failure. Certainly the entire unit would not have fallen asleep with that kind of threat over their heads. Dr. George Currie, a student of Roman military discipline, wrote that fear of punishment "produced flawless attention to duty, especially in the night watches."

In a literal sense, against all statements to the contrary, the tomb was not totally empty--because of an amazing phenomenon. John, a disciple of Jesus, looked over to the place where the body of Jesus had lain, and there were the grave clothes, in the form of the body, slightly caved in and empty--like the empty chrysalis of a caterpillar's cocoon. That's enough to make a believer out of anybody. John never did get over it. The first thing that stuck in the minds of the disciples was not the empty tomb, but rather the empty grave clothes--undisturbed in form and position.

Christ appeared alive on several occasions after the cataclysmic events of that first Easter . When studying an event in history, it is important to know whether enough people who were participants or eyewitnesses to the event were alive when the facts about the event were published. To know this is obviously helpful in ascertaining the accuracy of the published report. If the number of eyewitnesses is substantial, the event can he regarded as fairly well established. For instance, if we all witness a murder, and a later police report turns out to he a fabrication of lies, we as eyewitnesses can refute it.

Several very important factors arc often overlooked when considering Christ's post-resurrection appearances to individuals. The first is the large number of witnesses of Christ after that resurrection morning. One of the earliest records of Christ's appearing after the resurrection is by Paul. The apostle appealed to his audience's knowledge of the fact that Christ had been seen by more than 500 people at one time. Paul reminded them that the majority of those people were still alive and could be questioned. Dr. Edwin M. Yamauchi, associate professor of history at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, emphasizes: "What gives a special authority to the list (of witnesses) as historical evidence is the reference to most of the five hundred brethren being still alive. St. Paul says in effect, 'If you do not believe me, you can ask them.' Such a statement in an admittedly genuine letter written within thirty years of the event is almost as strong evidence as one could hope to get for something that happened nearly two thousand years ago." Let's take the more than 500 witnesses who saw Jesus alive after His death and burial, and place them in a courtroom. Do you realize that if each of those 500 people were to testify for only six minutes, including cross-examination, you would have an amazing 50 hours of firsthand testimony? Add to this the testimony of many other eyewitnesses and you would well have the largest and most lopsided trial in history.

Another factor crucial to interpreting Christ's appearances is that He also appeared to those who were hostile or unconvinced.

Over and over again, I have read or heard people comment that Jesus was seen alive after His death and burial only by His friends and followers. Using that argument, they attempt to water down the overwhelming impact of the multiple eyewitness accounts. But that line of reasoning is so pathetic it hardly deserves comment. No author or informed individual would regard Saul of Tarsus as being a follower of Christ. The facts show the exact opposite. Saul despised Christ and persecuted Christ's followers. It was a life-shattering experience when Christ appeared to him. Although he was at the time not a disciple, he later became the apostle Paul, one of the greatest witnesses for the truth of the resurrection.

If the New Testament were a collection of secular writings, their authenticity would generally be regarded as beyond all doubt.

F. F. Bruce
Manchester University

The argument that Christ's appearances were only to followers is an argument for the most part from silence, and arguments from silence can be dangerous. It is equally possible that all to whom Jesus appeared became followers. No one acquainted with the facts can accurately say that Jesus appeared to just "an insignificant few."

Christians believe that Jesus was bodily resurrected in time and space by the supernatural power of God. The difficulties of belief may be great, but the problems inherent in unbelief present even greater difficulties.

The theories advanced to explain the resurrection by "natural causes" are weak; they actually help to build confidence in the truth of the resurrection.

A theory propounded by Kirsopp Lake assumes that the women who reported that the body was missing had mistakenly gone to the wrong tomb. If so, then the disciples who went to check up on the women's statement must have also gone to the wrong tomb. We may be certain, however, that Jewish authorities, who asked for a Roman guard to be stationed at the tomb to prevent Jesus' body from being stolen, would not have been mistaken about the location. Nor would the Roman guards, for they were there!

If the resurrection-claim was merely because of a geographical mistake, the Jewish authorities would have lost no time in producing the body from the proper tomb, thus effectively quenching for all time any rumor resurrection.

Another attempted explanation claims that the appearances of Jesus after the resurrection were either illusions or hallucinations. Unsupported by the psychological principles governing the appearances of hallucinations, this theory also does not coincide with the historical situation. Again, where was the actual body, and why wasn't it produced?

Another theory, popularized by Venturini several centuries ago, is often quoted today. This is the swoon theory, which says that Jesus didn't die; he merely fainted from exhaustion and loss of blood. Everyone thought Him dead, but later He resuscitated and the disciples thought it to be a resurrection. Skeptic David Friedrich Strauss--certainly no believer in the resurrection--gave the deathblow to any thought that Jesus revived from a swoon: "It is impossible that a being who had stolen half-dead out of the sepulchre, who crept about weak and ill, wanting medical treatment, who required bandaging, strengthening and indulgence, and who still at last yielded to His sufferings, could have given to the disciples the impression that He was a Conqueror over death and the grave, the Prince of Life,

For the New Testament of Acts, the confirmation of historicity is overwhelming. Any attempt to reject its basic historicity, even in matters of detail, must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.

A. N. Sherwin-White
Classical Roman Historian

an impression which lay at the bottom of their future ministry. Such a resuscitation could only have weakened the impression which He had made upon them in life and in death, at the most could only have given it an elegiac voice, but could by no possibility have changed their sorrow into enthusiasm, have elevated their reverence into worship."

Then consider the theory that the body was stolen by the disciples while the guards slept. The depression and cowardice of the disciples provide a hard-hitting argument against their suddenly becoming so brave and daring as to face a detachment of soldiers at the tomb and steal the body. They were in no mood to attempt anything like that.

The theory that the Jewish or Roman authorities moved Christ's body is no more reasonable an explanation for the empty tomb than theft by the disciples. If the authorities had the body in their possession or knew where it was, why, when the disciples were preaching the resurrection in Jerusalem, didn't they explain: "Wait! We moved the body, see, He didn't rise from the grave"?

And if such a rebuttal failed, why didn't they explain exactly where Jesus' body lay? If this failed, why didn't they recover the corpse, put it on a cart, and wheel it through the center of Jerusalem? Such an action would have destroyed Christianity--not in the cradle, but in the womb!

Professor Thomas Arnold, for 14 years a headmaster of Rugby, author of the famous, History of Rome, and appointed to the chair of modern history at Oxford, was well acquainted with the value of evidence in determining historical facts. This great scholar said: "I have been used for many years to study the histories of other times, and to examine and weigh the evidence of those who have written about them, and I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proved by better and fuller evidence of every sort, to the understanding of a fair inquirer, than the great sign which God bath given us that Christ died and rose again from the dead." Brooke Foss Westcott, an English scholar, said: "raking all the evidence together, it is not too much to say that there is no historic incident better or more variously supported than the resurrection of Christ. Nothing but the antecedent assumption that it must be false could have suggested the idea of deficiency in the proof of it."

But the most telling testimony of all must be the lives of those early Christians. We must ask ourselves: What caused them to go everywhere telling the message of the risen Christ?

Had there been any visible benefits accrued to them from their efforts--prestige, wealth, increased social status or material benefits--we might logically attempt to account for their actions, for their whole-hearted and total allegiance to this "risen Christ ."

As a reward for their efforts, however, those early Christians were beaten, stoned to death, thrown to the lions, tortured and crucified. Every conceivable method was used to stop them from talking.

Yet, they laid down their lives as the ultimate proof of their complete confidence in the truth of their message.

How do you evaluate this overwhelming historical evidence? What is your decision about the fact of Christ's empty tomb? What do you think of Christ?

When I was confronted with the overwhelming evidence for Christ's resurrection, I had to ask the logical question: "What difference does all this evidence make to me? What difference does it make whether or not I believe Christ rose again and died on the cross for my sins!' The answer is put best by something Jesus said to a man who doubted--Thomas. Jesus told him: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me" (John 14:6).

On the basis of all the evidence for Christ's resurrection, and considering the fact that Jesus offers forgiveness of sin and an eternal relationship with God, who would be so foolhardy as to reject Him? Christ is alive! He is living today.

You can trust God right now by faith through prayer. Prayer is talking with God. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. If you have never trusted Christ, you can do so right now.

The prayer I prayed is: "Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and trust You as my Savior. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be. Thank You that I can trust You."

Josh McDowell, according to a recent survey, is one of the most popular speakers among university students today. He has spoken on more than 650 university and college campuses to more than seven million people in 74 countries during the last 21 years.

©1992 Josh McDowell Ministry

copyright © 1995-2009 Leadership U. All rights reserved.
Updated: 13 July 2002

(from Leadership U)

The Scientific Death of Jesus Christ

Lee Strobel - Is Jesus the Only Way?

Evidence Jesus Was God (1 of 2) - Lee Strobel

Evidence Jesus Was God (2 of 2) - Lee Strobel

Friday, April 10, 2009

What is repentance?

The following is from

Question: "What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?"

Many understand the term “repentance” to mean “turning from sin.” This is not the Biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the word “repent” means to "change your mind." The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full Biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regards to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah, to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection, or repentance from ignorance or disinterest – it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ, to faith in Christ.

It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Him (John 6:44). Acts 5:31 and 11:18 indicate that repentance is something God gives – it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God's drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God's longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).

While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19-23; James 2:14-26). Repentance, properly defined, is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.

A friend e-mailed me the above photo, along with the link

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Greg Laurie and Nick Vujicic

The following is from Wikipedia:

Early life

The first-born child in his devout Serbian Christian family, Nick Vujicic was born in Melbourne, Australia with the rare Tetra-amelia disorder: limbless, missing both arms at shoulder level, and having one small foot with two toes protruding from his left thigh. Initially, his parents were devastated. Vujicic was otherwise healthy.

Growing up

His life was filled with difficulties and hardships. One was not being able to attend a mainstream school because of his physical disability, as the law of Australia required, even though he was not mentally impaired. During his schooling, the laws were changed, and Nick was one of the first disabled students to be migrated to a mainstream school. He learned to write using the two toes on his left "foot," and a special device that slid onto his big toe to grip. He also learned to use a computer and type using the "heel and toe" method (as demonstrated in his speeches). He can also throw tennis balls and answer the phone. He can also shave and get a glass of water (also demonstrated in speeches).


Being bullied at his school, Nick grew extremely depressed, and by the age of eight, started contemplating suicide. After begging God to grow arms and legs, Nick eventually began to realize that his accomplishments were inspirational to many, and began to thank God he was alive. A key turning point in his life was when his mother showed him a newspaper article about a man dealing with severe disability. This led him to realize he wasn't the only one with major struggles. When he was seventeen, he started to give talks at his prayer group, and eventually started his non-profit organization, Life Without Limbs.


Nick graduated from college at the age of 21 with a double major in Accounting and Financial Planning. He began his travels as a motivational speaker, focusing on the topics that today's teenagers face. He also speaks in the corporate sector, although his aim is to become an international inspirational speaker, in both Christian and non-Christian venues. He regularly travels internationally to speak to Christian congregations, schools, and corporate meetings. He has spoken to over two million people so far, in twelve countries on four continents (Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America).

By the age of 25, Nick hoped to become financially independent. He wishes to promote his words through television shows such as The Oprah Winfrey Show, as well as by writing books. His first book, planned for completion by the end of 2009, is to be called No Arms, No Legs, No Worries!

His motivational DVD, Life's Greater Purpose, is available on the Life Without Limbs website. Most of the DVD was filmed in 2005, featuring a brief documentary about his home life, and how he does regular things without limbs. The second part of the DVD was filmed at his local church in Brisbane, and was one of his first professional motivational speeches. His motivational speeches can be seen on the Premiere Speakers Bureau Website.

His secular DVD "No Arms, No Legs, No Worries" is available online through his corporate motivational speaking company "Attitude Is Altitude."

Nick's first worldwide television interview, featured on 20/20 (ABC) with Bob Cummings was aired on March 28, 2008.

Also see Nick Vujicic's website: Life Without Limbs

Monday, April 6, 2009

How do I get right with God?


"In order to get “right” with God, we must first understand what is “wrong.” The answer is sin. “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). We have rebelled against God’s commands; we “like sheep, have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6).

The bad news is that the penalty for sin is death. “The soul who sins is the one who will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). The good news is that a loving God has pursued us in order to bring us salvation. Jesus declared His purpose was “to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10), and He pronounced His purpose accomplished when He died on the cross with the words, “It is finished!” (John 19:30).

Having a right relationship with God begins with acknowledging your sin. Next comes a humble confession of your sin to God (Isaiah 57:15) and a determination to forsake the sin. “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:10).

This repentance must be accompanied by faith, specifically, faith that Jesus’ sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection qualify Him to be your Savior. “…if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). Many other passages speak of the necessity of faith, such as John 20:27; Acts 16:31; Galatians 2:16; 3:11, 26; and Ephesians 2:8.

Being right with God is a matter of your response to what God has done on your behalf. He sent the Savior, He provided the sacrifice to take away your sin (John 1:29), and He offers you the promise: “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Acts 2:21).

A beautiful illustration of repentance and forgiveness is the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The younger son wasted his father’s gift in shameful sin (verse 13). When he acknowledged his wrongdoing, he decided to return home (verse 18). He assumed he would no longer be considered a son (verse 19), but he was wrong. The father loved the returned rebel as much as ever (verse 20). All was forgiven, and a celebration ensued (verse 24). God is good to keep His promises, including the promise to forgive. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18)."

A friend e-mailed me the above photos, along with the link

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is man basically good?

Aren't people basically good?

"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away." (Isaiah 64:6)

"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23)

"People are Basically Good" - Proof to the Contrary
By Rich Deem
info in brackets is from Wikipedia

Many present-day philosophies and worldviews claim that people are basically good and that bad or immoral behavior is the exception. The Bible states quite the opposite - that people are selfish and sinful as soon as they are able to express that kind of behavior. Because of this fact, people need a Savior in order to be acceptable to God. In contrast, the implication of the "people are good" worldview is that good people don't need a Savior. This paper will show that the biblical worldview and not the "people are good" worldview matches reality.

Human atrocities

If you examine the atrocities perpetrated by people within the last century, you find a huge number of murders. Adolph Hitler killed 6 million Jews prior to and during the second World War. Joseph Stalin killed 20 million Soviet citizens between 1929 and 1939 because they were not politically correct. Mao Tse-tung killed 34 to 62 million Chinese during the Chinese civil war of the 1930s and 1940s. Pol Pot, the leader of the Marxist regime in Cambodia, Kampuchea, in the 1970's killed over 1.7 million of his own people. These do not include all the people killed in "legitimate" wars.

Many would object to this analysis, since they could claim that these atrocities were perpetrated by only a few individuals. However, these individuals could not have done anything if they were not backed by others, who agreed with their "values." The vast majority of Germans willingly followed Adolph Hitler and gave their consent to his policy to get rid of the "Jewish problem."


A great experiment was performed in the last century that definitively demonstrated the sinfulness of entire generations among an entire people group. The experiment was called Communism. I am not referring to the attempt by Communists to spread Marxism throughout the World through civil wars. What I am referring to is the reaction of the Russian people themselves to the "equality" created under Communism. The basic tenet of Communism is that all people would share equally in the resources of the country. On the surface, that sounds good. In fact, this is what was practiced by the Christian church during the first century. The problem with Communism was not the philosophy per se, but the realization by the people that they would not be rewarded for hard work. It didn't matter how you worked, you got the same reward. At this point, the sinfulness of man stepped into the picture and everybody in the Soviet Union became lazy and indifferent to their responsibilities. This lack of accountability has led to an alcoholism rate of 40% and an abortion rate of nearly 70%! The sinfulness of all humans was definitely demonstrated in an entire society, so much so, that it led to the eventual economic collapse of the Soviet Union. Communism failed because humans are basically sinful, lazy, and self-centered. The only reason why "Communism" succeeded in the first century Christian Church was that the people had been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.

People in the U.S.A.

You might counter that we in the United States are not like the Russians. After all, we are industrious people who work hard. I would agree that we are not generally a lazy people. However, sin can be expressed in a number of ways. Let me give you a couple examples. I am the backup driver for one of the vanpools at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Last week, I drove the van every day. In order to get to the carpool lane, we must cross four lanes of heavy, rush hour traffic. The primary vanpool driver uses the "stealth" approach to changing lanes. He doesn't use his turn indicator, since people almost always will not let you in if they think that you are going to take the place in front of them. I use the turn indicator, just to get an idea of what percentage of people are kind enough to let you into "their" space. In the entire week of driving (48 lane changes), there was only one instance where a driver intentionally let me go in front of him. Now, being rude and selfish is not what most people would consider to be a great sin. However, the rudeness is an indicator of the hearts of the people. It is obvious from this example that the vast majority of people in Los Angeles are not "basically good," but sinful and selfish.

Let me give you another example, from a group of people who are supposed to be committed to raising their children with strong moral values. In October, 2001, I went to Camp Cherry Valley with a group of 140 Webelos Scouts and 110 adults (mostly parents of these Cub Scouts). At meal time, there were two lines, equally divided to be served their food. However, your position in line did not correspond to when you would get your food. Every time we lined up for meals, there were children and adults who let their friends/parents/children cut in front of them. Parents were actively encouraging their children to cut in front of other people. It was so bad that our group ended up at the end of the line every time. However, this was not the end of the selfish behavior. When we got into the dining hall, all the seats were either occupied or "reserved," even though there were enough seats for all Scouts and parents. We were forced to eat outside at every meal. Even though these "good" parents were "committed" to teaching their children strong moral values, they were actually teaching their children to be selfish and rude. And these are people who, if you asked them, would say that they were Christians. Our moral values have changed to such a degree that most people do not even recognize that their own behavior is immoral.

I recently went to a Promise Keepers "Turn the Tide" convention in Anaheim, California. One of the Speakers was Matthew Barnett, the "Senior" Pastor at the Dream Center (an inner city church in South-Central Los Angeles). He was relating some encounters he experienced as he was building his church in a neighborhood that was characterized by gangs, prostitutes, and pimps. One prostitute (who is now a Christian) related the story of her heartache in the big city. She came to Hollywood to become a movie star, but fell into drugs and prostitution. When she became pregnant, she was told to get an abortion, but chose to keep the baby. When her baby was nine months old, the mother's pimp came to find out why she wasn't making as much money as she had been. When he saw the baby, he blamed his reduced income on the baby, pulled out a gun, and shot the baby in the head while being held in her mother's arms. When I heard the story, I totally lost it. How could anybody be so evil? The only rational explanation for such kinds of evil is that there are powerful evil forces working in the lives of those who have completely rejected any absolute basis for morality.

On September 11, 2001, the United States was attacked by terrorists, killing thousands of innocent people. The attack on the United States was about human greed, desire for power, hatred and sinfulness. The idea that "people are basically good" is a humanistic fallacy of monumental proportions. Yes, religion is the surest way to hell. Relationship with God through Jesus Christ is the only answer to manmade religion that preaches hatred and violence.

Experimental evidence of human depravity

A number of psychologists have performed controlled experiments that demonstrate the level of depravity that people can stoop to. In the age of human subject's rights and human subjects review boards, none of these experiments would be allowed to be performed today, because of the extreme stress placed upon many of the subjects. However, at the time, most of the experiments were reproduced by other investigators with similar results, so we know that they represent true human reactions and capacity for evil.

Stanley Milgram's electrocution study

Following the atrocities of Nazi Germany during World War II, psychologist Stanley Milgram designed an experiment to examine the degree to which people would comply with immoral commands from authority. A teacher (the experimental subject) and a learner (an actor and confederate of the experimenter) were supposedly examining the effect of punishment (electric shock) on learning. [Only the "teacher" is an actual participant, i.e., unaware about the actual setup. The participant/teacher and the learner/victim/actor were told by the experimenter that they would be participating in an experiment helping their study of memory and learning in different situations. At this point, the "teacher" and "learner" were separated into different rooms where they could communicate but not see each other. In one version of the experiment, the confederate/actor was sure to mention to the teacher/participant that he had a heart condition.] The learner (actor) was strapped into a chair on the other side of a barrier (but within hearing distance). [The teacher, who was actually the subject of the experiment, believes that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual electric shocks, though in reality there were no such punishments. Being separated from the subject, the learner/actor set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level. The teacher would read the first word of each pair and read four possible answers. The learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the teacher would administer a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in 15-volt increments for each wrong answer. If correct, the teacher would read the next word pair.] The simulated shock generator consisted of 30 switches in 15 volt increments, up to 450 volts, along with a rating, ranging from "slight shock" to "danger: severe shock". The final two switches were labeled "XXX". The teacher was instructed to automatically increase the shock setting each time the learner missed a word in the list. To add to the authenticity of the shock generator, the teacher was given a real shock from a 45 volt battery prior to the start of the experiment [as a sample of the shock that the "learner" would supposedly receive during the experiment].

No experimental subject hesitated to give shocks up to 300 volts. However, at that point, the learner/actor pounded the wall between himself and the teacher [complaining about his heart condition] and refused to answer. [At this point, many people indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the learner. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Most continued after being assured that they would not be held responsible. A few subjects began to laugh nervously or exhibit other signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner.] The teacher was instructed to increase the voltage and administer the next shock. If the subject hesitated or complained, the following prods were given to attempt compliance:

1. Please continue.
2. The experiment requires that you continue.
3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

Twenty-six of the 40 subjects continued to shock the learner up to the maximum setting of 450 volts. Although Dr. Milgram's colleagues had predicted that only 3% of subjects would continue to the maximum voltage, 65% actually did so, even though they believed that the shocks they had given were extremely painful.

Some people have protested that people would not react this way in today's world. However, 46 years later, Jerry Burger partially replicated Milgram's experiment, finding that 70% of subjects would shock the learner up to the maximum voltage.

Philip Zimbardo's Stanford prison experiment

Following the Attica and other prison riots of the early 1970's, Psychologist Philip Zimbardo embarked upon an examination of the effect of simulated prison conditions on normal human subjects. Comparable groups of students were randomly assigned to be either "guards" or "prisoners" in Stanford University's simulated prison. However, to make the experiment seem more real, those assigned to be "prisoners" were "arrested" by the Stanford Police Department, cuffed and booked before being turned over to the Stanford jail. Within a day, there were conflicts between the "prisoners" and the "guards", which resulted in the beginning of harsh treatment of the "prisoners". Some of the "troublemakers" were put into solitary confinement or stripped of clothing and made to sleep on the floor. The "prisoners" eventually became compliant, even though they could quit the experiment at any time. The treatment by the "guards" continued to deteriorate to the point that the experiment had to be ended on the sixth day. None of the "guards" protested the evil actions of their "coworkers".

Solomon Asch's conformity experiments

Psychologist Solomon Asch performed a number of experiments to determine the degree to which experimental subjects will go along with the majority - even if they know the majority is wrong. The setup was simple - an experimental subject, along with a number of the experimenter's confederates, was to look at two cards and determine which line on one card matched one of three lines on another card. The lengths of the lines were sufficiently different so that there was no question what the right answer was. Even so, one-third of subjects lied about which lines matched just to go along with the group. Although the "sin" committed seems pretty innocuous, conformity to the majority has resulted in the support of human atrocities by some pretty evil regimes throughout history.

Moral hypocrisy

In another set of experiments, subjects were asked to assign two different tasks - one to themselves and another to a different (nonexistent) participant. One task was interesting and resulted in a reward, whereas the second was boring and unrewarded. Predictably, most subjects assigned the interesting task to themselves. When told that they could use a coin flip to assign the task, only about half used the coin toss. However, of those who used the coin toss, the majority still assigned the better task to themselves - even when they lost the coin toss.

The above article is from Evidence For God

A friend e-mailed me the above photos, along with the link