Practical Intentional Evangelism

January 10, 2011 at 12:04 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical farming | 15 Comments
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After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome.

Acts 19:21

The Apostle Paul was taking a love offering to the saints in Jerusalem, but he was purposed in the spirit to head to Rome. The last third of the Book of Acts gives the account of Paul’s resolve to reach Rome with the Gospel. Christians today should have a strong resolve to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we talk to someone about the Gospel we must understand from where our authority comes. When I am witnessing, I am not there on my own authority. Jesus Christ has earned the right for His story to be told.

And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?

Acts 8:27-30

When you go to tell someone about Jesus, your authority is His Word. Take your Bible with you.

When it comes to evangelism we also need to understand the principles of the harvest. You may be planting the seed. You may be watering. God may just use you to break up some hard soil. You may be weeding. You may just be checking the crop. Farmers can’t get discouraged that every day isn’t harvest day.

If possible, when you go on an intentional evangelism visit, it is a good idea to go with a Christian partner.

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.

Luke 10:1 (emphasis added)

Going with a partner has practical advantages also. One person may have to deal with children or pets while the other person talks about the Gospel. Especially when visiting inside a person’s home, having a witness can be a safeguard against false claims that might hurt your testimony.

Pray specifically for the person you are witnessing to both before and after (and during if possible) the visit.

The presentation of the Gospel should not be “seeker-sensitive.” It should be “Savior-sensitive.” Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We can’t save anyone. Only the Holy Spirit can truly draw someone to Christ, even though there may be opportunities to share your personal testimony. You will find that many people believe what you believed about God and Jesus, Heaven and hell, before you became a Christian.

Arise: Naboth’s Vineyard, Ahab’s Vice, and God’s Vengeance – Part 4

December 16, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Posted in Arise | 5 Comments
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In Part 1 and Part 2 we met:

I. The Pious Patriarch (Naboth)
II. The Pouting Potentate (Ahab)
III. The Poisonous Puppeteer (Jezebel)
IV. The Pestering Prophet (Elijah)

In Part 3 we saw:

V. The Preeminent Precept

Now we will discover:

VI. The Poignant Payment
and
VII. The Punctual Punishment

There came a time when Jehoshaphat the King of Judah was preparing to go to war with Syria, and he wanted the help of Ahab the King of Israel. Ahab agreed, on the condition that he would disguise himself, and that Jehoshaphat would wear the robes of a king. The King of Syria had a plan for his men to disregard the rest of the troops and go directly after the king. But a strange thing happened in the heat of battle.

And a certain man drew a bow at a venture…

I Kings 22:34

Dr. R.G. Lee, who preached a great sermon on this passage of Scripture, called this man “the nameless aimless archer.” He was a “certain” man – not named – who drew his bow at a venture – not really aiming at anything. (In keeping with my own outline, I probably should have called him the “Passive Pointer.”)

Are you “nameless?” God knows your name, even the hairs of your head are numbered. But does the devil know your name? He knew Job’s name. When God asked, “Hast thou you considered my servant Job?” (Job 1:8) the devil didn’t say, “No, who is that?” He knew Job by name, because Job was living an exemplary life for the Lord. The devil knew Paul’s name. The evil spirit summoned by the Jewish exorcists said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye?” (Acts 19:15) As Christians we should not be “nameless,” because we are certainly not “aimless.” We are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Your “calling” (your vocation) is to love God and love others – to serve God and to serve others. This archer did God’s will, but there is no indication he received God’s blessing for doing it. God will get the glory out of your life one way or the other. The question is not whether God will be glorified – the question is whether you will get the tremendous blessing of having a part in that glory.

And a certain man drew a bow at a venture, and smote the king of Israel between the joints of the harness: wherefore he said unto the driver of his chariot, Turn thine hand, and carry me out of the host; for I am wounded. And the battle increased that day: and the king was stayed up in his chariot against the Syrians, and died at even: and the blood ran out of the wound into the midst of the chariot. And there went a proclamation throughout the host about the going down of the sun, saying, Every man to his city, and every man to his own country. So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria; and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armour; according unto the word of the LORD which he spake.

I Kings 22:34-38

This is the Poignant Payment. Just as the dogs had licked the blood of Naboth, so they licked the blood of King Ahab. But what about Jezebel?

Ahab’s son became king, and Jezebel pulled his strings the way she had pulled Ahab’s. He also worshiped Baal, and was a wicked king… and years passed. Elisha replaced Elijah. Then, one day God told Elisha that Jehu, the chariot driver, was to be anointed king.

And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber;

II Kings 9:2 (emphasis added)

Jehu rode down on the palace in Jezreel, and, after killing Ahab’s wicked son, he looked up at Jezebel, the painted and poisonous puppeteer.

… and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs. And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot. And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter. And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands. Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:

II Kings 9:32-36

Why did God make the penalty for the sins of Ahab and Jezebel so poignant? We might say that God was pleased with the symmetry of it. Sometimes, as in the case of Absalom’s hair (II Samuel 14:26 and 18:9), God just decides to make the punishment fit the crime in a ghastly humorous way.

When Elijah was announcing God’s punishment to Ahab, he told him:

Behold, I will bring evil upon thee, and will take away thy posterity, and will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel,

I Kings 21:21

Most Bible versions other than the King James Version speak of the punishment of all the “male” followers of Ahab, but that is not the correct translation. The King James Version gets this right and retains the true context. Ahab and Jezebel did not see Naboth’s vineyard as God’s property. They saw it as belonging to whomever was powerful enough or sneaky enough to get it. So they marked it as theirs – the way a dog marks his territory against a wall. The poignant penalty is when God takes our vain attempts to dishonor Him, and our foolish boasting that we can somehow spite Him and get away with it, and He turns them into our own shame and disgrace. Be very careful about what you try to mark as “your” territory in this life. If we are trying to keep some things from God, He may just decide to take those things away, so we will have more time, energy, focus, attention, and love for Him.

The Punctual Punishment

God’s judgment may seem late or slow to us, or it may seem terribly swift, but the fact is – it is always right on time. The devil arises. His agents arise, and pull the strings of the lost. (Lost people are the devil’s puppets. See Ephesians 2:2.) God’s servants arise to proclaim His warnings and judgments. Finally, God ARISES.

Ahab got three years. Jezebel got many more. But the payment came due – and it was only a down payment. Jezebel is paying for all eternity. If you are not right with God, you have to ask yourself how close is God’s judgment from coming to you right now? It will not be tardy; it will not fail. One day everyone who has ever lived is going to confess the truth about God: that He is worthy of honor and obedience. Would you rather God have you by the heart or by the throat? II Corinthians 6:2 says now is the accepted time. “Behold, now is the day of salvation.” Fling yourself on the mercy of Christ this instant.

Insincerity, Inaccuracy, or Incompletion?

October 12, 2009 at 8:51 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 5 Comments
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In Acts Chapter 18 Paul goes from Athens to Corinth. Corinth was a very unlikely place to start a church. Since Paul went to Corinth alone, it was clear that, if he was to be successful there, God would have to intervene. Corinth was the Las Vegas or New Orleans of its day. It was a place of vice, greed, and wicked spiritualism.

God knew that many of those in Corinth who pretended to be involved in spiritual pursuits were actually trying to manipulate people out of greed. So He allowed Paul to be distinct by earning his living making tents.

And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Acts 18:3

God took care of the problem of Paul being alone in Corinth by providing Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple. Paul worked during the week and preached on the Sabbath. Then God sent financial help with Timothy and Silas, which allowed Paul to preach full-time.

When Paul encountered opposition in the synagogue, God sent Titus Justus to open a place for him to preach right next to the synagogue.

And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 18:7-8

The chief ruler of the synagogue was saved!

Paul carried out the Great Commission, and he received the assurance from Jesus that is attached to it.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:

Acts 18:8-9

Paul never quit; opposition only strengthened his commitment. The blessing of the Old Testament is prosperity; the blessing of the New Testament is persecution.

When the Jews tried to take the Christians to court, God intervened, and caused Gallio, the Roman proconsul, to declare the preaching of Christianity a Jewish religious matter, and not a matter of Roman law.

Paul was in Corinth for about 18 months. Then he went back to report at Antioch, and then back to Ephesus. This would be his third missionary journey.

Ephesus did not have Corinth’s reputation for wickedness, but it had a population of about 300,000 people, compared to Corinth’s 200,000. Ephesus was steeped in idolatry. It was the capital of Asia. The temple of Diana there was one of the “seven wonders of the world.” Paul stayed in Ephesus about three years.

In Acts Chapter 19 we see a historical oddity: people who sincerely professed to be Christian disciples, but who were lacking the Holy Spirit. Their testimony was not insincere, but it was probably inaccurate, and it was it was definitely incomplete.

The ministry of John the Baptist – probably through Apollos – had a big influence in Alexandria and Ephesus, so these men were disciples of the teaching of John the Baptist.

Here is what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit in connection with salvation:

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Romans 8:9

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 1:13

The requirement today for Holy Spirit baptism is not water baptism. It is not the laying on of hands. It is salvation. These men in Acts 19 knew that John the Baptist had prophesied about the giving of the Holy Spirit, but they did not know at first that it had already happened.


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