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An Interview with Ravi Zacharias

2 Apr

An Interview with Ravi Zacharias

Like C.S. Lewis, Ravi Zacharias brought deep thought and insight into 20th century Christianity.

Ravi continues in this new millennium.

Is he always right?  No, and we non-Catholics don’t have a doctrine of infallibility for anyone at anytime.

But he is always worth a listen (or a read).  My world is better for having known he was in it!

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Stagecoach: When a Woman of Bad Repute Finds God’s Love

4 Feb

When a Woman of Bad Repute Finds the Love of God

The other night I saw the movie Stagecoach for the first time. It was not only an action Western that served as the vehicle conveying a young John Wayne to stardom. It was also a complex character study of a cast of diverse people who end up sharing a stagecoach west through dangerous Apache country.

Writers and directors can do lots of wonderful things when they throw together diverse people who would not normally meet. This has been done in lots of movies (Bus Stop, Key Largo, etc.).

In this particular movie, John Wayne is Ringo Kid, a prisoner who has escaped but who has a heart of gold. He was imprisoned for being in the midst of a blood feud between two families. He has a year or so to go on his sentence and willingly goes back with the marshall who is on the stagecoach . . .

Meanwhile, he falls in love with a woman of ill repute who is on the stagecoach. His love, in a Hollywood way that comes very close to presenting Christ’s redemptive love, turns her around and makes her a woman who will be a good wife for him when his sentence is finished.

As the above blog post shows, when a sinner collides with the love of God, freedom ensues, just as it does when the sinful woman in the movie comes in contact with Ringo Kid’s love.

Love, God’s love, even as reflected in imperfect man, is the strongest force in the universe.

It is love, God’s love and God’s grace, that make us whole. What the law could not do for us, God did, by loving us through Jesus Christ.

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Sharing Jesus in Cheesy Ways

30 Jan

Sharing Jesus in Cheesy Ways

One thing I truly appreciate about most homeschooled kids is that they tend to understand and even treasure intergenerational relationships.

Not so much with public or even private schooled kids.

I often see their inability, when out walking, to even make eyecontact, let alone speak, when an older person greets them. Since I am pretty connected socially to many others, I have to assume the rolled eyes when two teens meet me on a sidewalk are more reflective of their lack of ability to conceive of a relationship with a person in her 50’s than of anything I have done to offend them by saying “hello.”

That said, my generation, by being two generations older than these teens, can come across as cheesy or hokey no matter what we do sometimes. Sometimes you are just not going to escape the mantra, no matter what.

Some of our old ways of sharing the Lord come across the same way. This post deals with a skywriter and the reactions he elicited at Disney World.

I totally agree with the final question. Are those who are rolling their eyes at skywriters actually sharing Jesus with others or just their cynicism?

Can terminal cynicism be deadly?

I actually do not buy off on the hipster mantra that you have to gain someone’s trust before you evangelize them. That would be limiting God to one evangelism tool in a box of tools that belong to Him, not us (He could still send an angel, after all. He doesn’t need us). If we don’t gain someone’s trust, He might gain it anyway!!!

I often challenge those who see my tract distribution as terminally uncool to tell me their methods that work better to reach others for Christ. Not surprisingly, not many answer that question with anything other than mumbled platitudes.

We need each other. We need to use every tool and every method God has out there.

And we don’t need to be blushing in embarrassment at our fellow Christians, plotting how to hide them in a broom closet so our cool friends don’t see them. Really!

The Sinner’s Prayer Does Not Save Us

11 Jun

http://www.jdgreear.com/sinnersprayer

I am just finishing up J.D. Greear’s book “Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart” and want to write a book recommendation to express how good it is.

There are two reasons:

1. He addresses people, like me, who spend years getting to a sound, Biblically-based assurance of faith because we get hung up on the Sinner’s Prayer, whether we said it right, and whether we meant it 100% at the time we said it. We are usually genuinely saved, but lack assurance of that fact.

2. He addresses people who said the Sinner’s Prayer once, like a magical incantation, then returned to their regularly scheduled life, excluding God from it. They are usually not genuinely saved, yet feel very assured that they are, from shaky, non-Biblical sources.

God promised in I John 5:13 that we can know for sure we are born again. We can count on the finished work of Christ.

Those counting on anything more, or less, than Christ’s finished work cannot claim I John 5:13 for assurance of salvation. We either accept the whole counsel of Scripture or reject it all. We don’t get to pick and choose.

Just as God does not often bless it when people open their Bible in the morning and stick a finger somewhere in it to choose a devotional passage, because God is to be approached with more reverence than a fortune teller, so it is not God’s plan that we base our eternal security in a recitation of the Sinner’s Prayer. Yes, many of us say that prayer when we get saved, but the prayer does not save us. Christ’s finished work on our behalf saves us, by grace through faith.

This book is a real treat, as it takes us through God’s Word, rightly dividing it as it teaches the doctrines of salvation and the perseverance of the saints.

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Are We Turning the Sinner’s Prayer Into a Magical Incantation?

30 May

20130530-120541.jpg

Controversy does sell, unfortunately.

I totally understand why J.D. Greear called his latest book “Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart”. He doesn’t mean to never ask Him in. He means to not obsessively ask Him in over and over again, claiming lack of assurance of your salvation.

As a person affected by a smattering of OCD, I recognize what he is trying to say.

There are those of us who have trouble arriving at an assurance of our salvation. I mean, God’s free gift does seem too good to be true sometimes!

On the other extreme are the people who ask Jesus into their hearts every once in a while as they live like the devil, with no relationship to Jesus or His law/commandments whatsoever!

Both extremes meet their solution in the gospel of Christ, the gospel of grace.

You see, salvation is by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9). It is not due to baptism nor to joining a church. But it is also not due to saying the right prayer.

Two words apply, as J.D. Greear walks us through the Scriptures to see. “Repentance” and “faith”. And Ephesians 2:9 tells us God even gives us the faith.

So when we get obsessed with a prayer (the prayer for salvation is often called “The Sinner’s Prayer”) and whether we prayed it correctly, we make salvation about us and about our works.

It is really about Christ’s finished work on our behalf.

That is an important distinction, for, as J.D. Greear says, there are many people who have been saved but talk themselves out of assurance that the event took place. There are also many who have no relationship to Jesus at all, and do not care to have one, who are living in false assurance because they prayed the Sinner’s Prayer once long ago.

Repentance and faith. We can see them in an assurance that we are rightly related to God in Christ and in His finished work.

It is all about Christ. When we try to insert a worthy-enough prayer from our end, we end up making the Sinner’s Prayer into a magical incantation!

Then we Baptists become just like the people we criticize for thinking that a religious ritual saves them.

Let’s not make the Sinner’s Prayer into a religious ritual.

It really is all about Jesus. He bore our sin so we could claim salvation in Him. Hallelujah!

To My Non-Christian Readers

16 May

Good morning!

I have noticed an increasing tendency to have subscribers to Iconobaptist who are probably not only not Baptists, but not Christians either.  

Welcome!  I appreciate your input.

I occasionally run posts explaining the Christian gospel for those who have never heard it.  Whether Muslim, pagan, or atheist, you might have never had anyone explain to you about what is unique to Christianity.  You know it has something to do with Christ . . .

There is a whole historical body of work based on the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, that explains Who Christ is and what He has done.

But you would do best to just start with the Gospel of John, the fourth book of the New Testament, and let God, using Jesus’s best earthly friend John as a witness, explain the gospel to you.  

You see, we believe that Jesus was not only fully human, but also fully God.  

We believe that the Bible is also fully human (written by humans), but also fully God’s Word (God led those humans to write in such a way that every word is His).  

There is much historical evidence pointing to the accuracy of these beliefs, but the main issue is that you become a Christian because the Holy Spirit works in your heart to draw you to belief in Christ.  

Once that happens, you will rejoice in the historicity of Christ, but it will not be the basis on which you build your belief.  You will just know He is real because you have had a supernatural encounter with Him. 

That encounter will wipe away all your sins, past, present, and future, for we have all sinned.

That is the bad news.  We are born in original sin.

But the good news counters it.  Our God Himself entered the human race and lived on planet earth for somewhere around 33 years.  He lived the sinless life we could not live.  He pleased God, on our behalf, in doing so.  

He then died a painful death on a cross to atone for our sins.  He lived the life we could not live, then died the death that we could not die, for we could never pay for our own sins.  Jesus did that for us.  

When we come to Him in faith, we put off our own sinful nature and put on Christ and all that He did that we could not do.  

It is that complex, but that simple.  

We all need to come to Christ for salvation and everlasting life.  We cannot save ourselves.

In fact, although we are not all criminals, we are all every bit as warped by sin as Kermit Gosnell, the abortion doctor sentenced yesterday in the U.S. for murdering live infants.

There is no one who is almost good enough for heaven and just needs Jesus for a little boost to get in!  That is heresy.  

We are all desperately fallen, but Christ became our righteousness by living and dying for us.

We need to come to Christ, to cling to Him and tell Him that we know we can only find salvation in Him.

Then we will be saved and have a new life, both here and after we die.

Christ’s salvation is for everyone.  He is not just the Christian God.  He is not a territorial God.  He is the universal God.

If you find new life in Christ through my blog, would you please drop me a note and let me know?

Nothing would make me happier.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16  

Passover Lamb

31 Mar

Passover Lamb (written one day while contemplating what it would have felt like to be a Gentile watching on the sidelines as Christianity first came to the Jews, then was widened to include Gentile believers) 

John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:  I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” 

 

My Jewish friends rejoice today

Their joyful eyes I see

They say their Jesus lives again

I wish He’d come for me . . .

 

The Jewish part of Galilee

Shouts with Passover glee

The Lamb’s been slain, but lives again

I wish He’d come for me . . .

 

A stranger here I always dwell

In my nativity

I wish I knew Immanuel,
I wish He’d come for me!

 

The Jews say sin must ransom bring,

Someone to pay the fee

Or we’re always apart from God.

Oh, please, Sir, come for me!

 

I cannot bear the wrong I’ve done,

I’ll die eternally.

And yet the Jews have God’s own Son.

I wish He’d come for me . . .

 

Oh, Lovely Lamb, God’s only Son,

From Egypt I would flee

I’d leave my sin’s remembrance in

The depths of the Red Sea.

 

Yet my repentance falls far short—

Please hear a Gentile’s plea—

I so want to become a Jew,

So that You’d come for me . . .

 

But wait—they say You hear us call

You too would set us free.

Oh, Jesus, I give You my all!

Praise God, You came for me!

 

(30 July 2003, Tabernacle Baptist Church, after hearing Dr. Craig Hartman present his mission to God’s people, the Jews)

 

Isaiah 9:1,2:  Nevertheless, the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.  The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:  they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.  

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