Wednesday, October 31, 2012

I want to Start Sharing the Gospel, But Now What? by Chris Hohnholz at

I Want to Start Sharing the Gospel, But Now What?

Posted on October 17, 2012 by Chris Hohnholz

If you have been reading my articles lately, you have probably noticed a very consistent theme, that being that Christians are commanded to share the gospel with the lost. I have been writing these articles for the very purpose of awakening the church to the desperate need in our world for the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to be preached. It has been my sincere hope and prayer that these articles may have caused even a small number of Christians to stop and evaluate whether they have been obedient to the command of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If you are one that has realized he or she has not been doing so, but realize you need to be, you may be asking, “What do I do now? Just how do I go about doing this?” It is my hope and prayer that over the next few articles I can answer these questions and help equip you to biblically share the great and glorious message that Jesus Christ came to save sinners. Today, there are three things I want to encourage you to do as you go about preparing yourself to evangelize the lost.

First and foremost, before we ever wade out into the world to share the gospel, we need to be about the business of praying to God. A Christian must pray that God would give him wisdom, boldness and an unquenching thirst to preach the gospel to the lost. Christians must pray for humility, confessing their sins and repenting of them, and praying that they would not seek their own recognition and glory. Rather, Christians should pray that they would seek only to glorify the Lord by preaching His truth, not seeking to persuade with our own vain philosophies, but by speaking His revealed Word. Christians must pray for the Lord to break through the hardened, stony hearts of sinners and that He would reveal their need for Christ as their Savior. That He would cause the scales to fall from the eyes of the lost and cause them to see Christ in all His glory. Christians should also pray for steadfastness, an unwavering desire to preach the true gospel, no matter the opposition, or even persecution, that they may face. We must pray that we never become weary in doing good even when the world seeks to shut us up, when our friends and family tell us to stop being “so preachy” and even when our local churches refuse to support us because we are “judgmental.” We must pray that we would never stop sharing the gospel because we seek to please God alone and desire to bring a lost and dying world to Him. Prayer is one of our most potent and valuable weapons because it causes us to come to the throne of grace, seeking the power and equipping of our sovereign Lord. Never seek to accomplish the task of evangelism under your own “power.” Rather seek the power of God Himself to do the work.

Secondly, Christians need to become thoroughly equipped in the study of the scriptures. Human wisdom and philosophy can accomplish precious little when it comes to proclamation of the gospel. Remember that those who are lost are slaves to sin and are spiritually dead. Our words alone will never penetrate the rocky soil of an unregenerate heart. Only the Words of God Himself can break up that stone and make the heart into fertile soil. Therefore, we must be diligent to study the Bible daily, but not just to find scriptures that bolster our arguments. Such study accomplishes little because we are not seeking the actual context and application of God’s Word. If we fail to discern the true meaning of a passage, we may end up ripping scriptures out of context and doing damage to the message itself. Rather, we should study that we might grow in all wisdom and understanding. We should study so that our lives are so impacted by the Word, that every aspect of how we live changes to reflect the image of our Savior. In doing so, not only will we gain the words necessary to share with the lost, we will actually demonstrate that we believe them because our lives will reflect it. All the objections and obstacles that man can offer against God find their demise in the very words of our Lord. Study, memorize and learn to apply all of the scriptures on a daily basis.

Third, remember that you were once a lost and condemned sinner too. Remember that you had sinned against the very Creator who gave you life and breath through your wicked works. Remember that you had broken His laws, that you had been a liar, a thief, an idolator, a blashpember, one who lusted and fornicated, who harbored unjust anger in your heart, one who had sought only to please himself above all others. That in your sinned darkened stated, had you died and stood before God, who is perfectly righteous and holy, you would have been judged guilty and rightly condemned to an eternity it Hell. Yet, while you were still a sinner, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you on the cross. That Christ lived the life of perfect obedience to the law that you could not. That He willingly went to the cross to suffer a brutal and humiliating death, the one that you deserved. That three days later, He rose again, defeating death and giving you a promise of eternal life. Remember that one day, God sent someone to you to share this glorious message of salvation. That He opened your eyes and softened your heart. That God miraculously granted you repentance and faith and caused you to be born again. And as you remember these things, glorify the Lord through worship and praise. Remember that you were once dead and He made you alive. Rejoice that God took an unworthy sinner like you (and me) and adopted you as His child. Then, in your praise and adoration of Him, seek to obey His command to preach this glorious message to others.

By equipping ourselves in these three areas – prayer, study and worship – we prepare ourselves for the spiritual warfare of saving souls. We are equipped with God’s power rather than our own and we are using His weapons in this battle. The preaching of the gospel is not an effort to improve lives, change minds or rescue the culture. The preaching of the gospel is two things: first, it is the glorification of our great God and Savior; second, it is a rescue mission to save souls on a path to Hell. Therefore, we dare not treat this lightly. Let us be fully prepared, with all God has to offer us, before we step foot onto the battlefield.

In my next article, I intend to speak on the biblical presentation of the gospel and to point out the errors of modern evangelical “evangelism.”

I Want to Start Sharing the Gospel, Part 2

Posted on October 24, 2012 by Chris Hohnholz

In my last article, I shared three things that I believe every Christian must be doing before they step out into the world to start sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ: study the Word of God, pray, and give worship and praise to the Lord who saved you. All three of these things are the necessities of any Christian walk. There can be no growth and maturing without them. And they are absolutely essential in preparing one’s self for the spiritual warfare that is the saving of souls. Today, in the theme of preparing ourselves for witnessing, I want to address some rather unbiblical methods that are being employed by Christians, ministries and churches that should be avoided. Believe it or not, it really does make a difference about how you share your faith. The methods that I want to share today are very popular, but they are antithetical to the gospel and have often been responsible for creating false converts, those who profess a faith in Christ, but have never truly repented and put their faith in Him. If we are to be obedient to the command to preach the gospel, then we want to avoid those methods that are not in line with God’s word.

God Has a Wonderful Plan for Your Life

Perhaps one of the most common evangelistic approaches today is for the Christian to approach an unrepentant, unregenerate sinner and to explain to him or her that God deeply and truly loves that person and has a “wonderful plan” for their life. The pitch usually states that all the joys of this world are insufficient, always leaving us wanting more. We chase after the elusive concept of happiness, but are never really satisfied. But if the sinner will just “accept Jesus” who died for their sins (a concept only briefly mentioned and never explained) then God will grant them peace, love and joy in abundance, fulfilling all the wants and desires the world never could. The sinner is then encouraged to pray a prayer, to make Jesus their Lord, and then is told without question that they are a Christian and to never, ever doubt it.

This approach sounds so kind and loving, ensuring the lost person that the promises of God will be extended to them without question, so how could there be anything wrong with it? Unfortunately, there is a lot wrong. Let’s start with the fact that the presentation that God “loves the sinner” is inaccurate. A sinner, by definition, is a lawbreaker and rebel against the Lord who created him or her. Remember that God is holy and righteous, so much so that a guilty sinner cannot stand in His presence and not be destroyed. In fact, Psalm 7: 11 states, “God is a just judge, and is angry with the wicked every day.” It is a false statement to tell a sinner that God loves them when the’re standing in a rebellious state before Him. Such a claim leaves the sinner believing God likes them “for whom they are” and that their sins are not really an abomination before Him. If they do not understand the nature of their sin, sinners will not repent before a holy God.

Another problem is the promise that God has a wonderful plan for the sinner. This is problematic on many levels. First off, in their sinful state, the only plan God has for them is judgment. Certainly, this in not “wonderful.” Secondly, if a person truly becomes a Christian, Jesus taught His followers, “Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him,” (John 13: 16). If Christ is the Christian’s master, and Christ was so hated by the world that He was persecuted and crucified, what is the promise for the Christian? Followers of Christ can expect the world to hate and persecute them, and that life in this world will not be comfortable for them. The promises of peace and having an “abundant life” for the Christian are not tied to worldly comforts, but having peace with God through Christ’s shed blood and by no longer being shackled to our sinful nature. Yet, to the unregenerate sinner, such a promise of a “wonderful life” is devoid of such meaning because they lack understanding of their sinful state and coming judgment. Christians dare not use the fruits of salvation as a draw card to entice the unbeliever into becoming a Christian.

Just Let People See Jesus in You

In our current, post-modern culture, telling someone that their life is considered sinful before God and they are pending His righteous judgment is probably the worst “sin” a person can commit. In fact, telling people that your beliefs are right and theirs are wrong is equally terrible in the eyes of society. So the church has developed a much less assertive method of evangelism. This is the “live your life in such a way that people just have to ask you about it” method. I have heard on many occasions from professing Christians that we shouldn’t be pushy or preachy with unbelievers. We should just live good and kind lives. This will clearly lead those around us to see there is something different about us and cause them to ask us what it is. When they do, then we can tell them that Jesus gives us that joy and peace that the rest of the world lacks. Unfortunately, when you press the issue, most Christians will admit that this rarely, if ever happens.

The sad truth of the matter is that this method of evangelism accomplishes nothing. While the Christian must live a life of obedience to God, without an explanation of what the gospel is and why we obey the Lord out of love, the sinner has nothing to differentiate our “good lives” from that of the Hindu, the Muslim or the atheist. Their standard of “good” is a worldly standard, and they will equate the goodness of the Christian is the same as any other religious, or non-religious, person. In other words, they have no real reason to believe that your “good life” is any different than anyone else’s, so there is no need to believe there is anything special about it.

The other problem with this is that the unsaved person is standing before God with His holy and righteous wrath awaiting them. If we desire to see them saved from the fires of Hell, why are we hoping to entice them with a few good works? To borrow an analogy from Ray Comfort, if you saw a neighbor’s house on fire, would you walk up and down the sidewalk in a happy and kind manner hoping to draw them out? Or would you run up to the door, yelling and screaming about the danger they were in and urging them to flee to safety? If you truly care about the unsaved sinner, you will warn them about the danger now, while there is still time.

Friendship Evangelism

Friendship evangelism is a modern concept that teaches the Christian must befriend and nurture a relationship with a person before the subject of Jesus ever comes up. In fact, it is stressed that the Christian must “earn the right” to share the gospel with that person before they ever open their mouth on the subject. The belief is that if we, as Christians, do not earn this right, then we could drive off the person by being too “preachy” or “judgmental” and they will never “accept Jesus.”

Such a method denies several things. First, it denies the very power of the gospel itself. If the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), then I never need to dress it up, ease it in, or earn the right to proclaim it. It is the very message of God that Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners. There is no more important message to share with someone, a message that has eternal consequences. To delay sharing it because I need to “earn the right” denies that the simple proclamation of it is insufficient and that I must add something to it, my own work, before it can be used.

Secondly, it denies the manner throughout scripture we see it proclaimed. During His earthly ministry, Christ confronted sinners with their desperate need for salvation. In John 3, Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night with great flowing words of praise. Christ did not even hesitate, but told him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God,” (John 3: 3) Jesus did not attempt to win this influential teacher as a friend, rather he drove straight into the heart of the matter, wasting no time. In the following chapter, Jesus speaks to the woman at the well in Samaria. Once again, we see our Lord wasting no time addressing the adulterous lifestyle of a woman who just met him. He did not attempt a long, extended effort at befriending her, Jesus spoke plainly to her about her greatest need. And if these examples are not enough, look to Peter at Pentecost where he addressed the crowds and 3,000 came to repentance and faith (Acts 2). Or look to Paul on Mars Hill in Athens where Paul spoke to a crowd of pagan philosophers (Acts 17). In neither case did either of these apostles attempt to befriend the crowds, they simply proclaimed the gospel, trusting in the power of God to bring salvation.

Lastly, it denies the command of God Himself. Jesus commanded His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16: 15) and to “…make disciples of all the nations…” (Matthew 28:19). If we practice friendship evangelism, as it is defined today, then we are stating we do not have to follow this command until we feel we are good and ready. We are going to delay the need to obey God’s command until such a time as we feel comfortable to do so. Yet, nowhere in scripture is such a caveat given. Nowhere does Christ command that the gospel message be delayed until a more opportune time. In fact, we are reminded continually that we do not know the hour of Christ’s return, or even when our last breath will be. The gospel message is one that must be proclaimed with urgency. To delay that because we must make them our friend first denies that God will take that person out of this life at a time of His choosing, which could be well before that “friendship” is established. If we practice this method, we are assuming God will allow that person to never encounter death until we have shared the gospel with them. That is a dangerous presumption to make. We should never delay this most important message of all.

So What Do I Actually Say?

There is in fact a truly biblical method of evangelism. A method that exposes the unregenerate sinner to his condemned state before God and his desperate need for a Savior. In my next article I will address this method specifically.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More Info on the Paganess of our Traditions by Jim McClarty

Q -
What do you think about Christmas? Is it okay to have a Christmas tree? And, what about Santa Claus? I heard that he was connected with Baal worship. Is that right?
Jim -
I purposely tabled these questions until after the holidays so I would not be introducing any crisis of conscience into your household just as you were preparing to celebrate.
Briefly, Christmas is not a Christian holiday (read: holy day), or time of observance. Jesus was clearly not born on Dec. 25, as is widely known and admitted. Even the details of His birth make that obvious. There are no shepherds in the Middle East who watch their flocks by night in the mid-winter. That alone ought to tell us something's amiss.
Anyway, we can get a pretty good sense of Christ's actual birth date by using Luke's gospel. John the Baptist is said to be six months older than Christ (Luke 1:26 and Luke 1:36). So, if we can determine John's conception date, we simply add 15 months and we're in the right territory. John's father was a priest who served in the temple during the course of Abijah, or Abia (Luke 1:5). King David established the courses of the priests. There are of 24 courses and Abijah is the eighth (1 Chron. 24:10). By comparing those courses to the Hebrew religious calendar, we can easily deduce the period when Zacharias, John's father, served his course and heard that his wife was about to conceive.
So, let's do the math. The Hebrew calendar was lunar, not solar. It was divided into 12 months of 30 days. So, the eight course would fall during the last two weeks of the fourth month of the Sacred calendar. That month was called Tammuz, the tenth month of the Civil Calendar. It fell between mid-June and mid-July on our western Calendars. Add fifteen months (or, just three months to make it easy) and you arrive at the month of Tishri, which is mid-September to mid-October. So, Jesus was born near the time of the Autumn equinox, in the early Fall.
By the way, that period is also the time of the Feast of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles, when every Jewish family capable of travel was required to appear before the Lord in Jerusalem. So, even the smaller towns that bordered Jerusalem would be overflowing with people. That would help explain why there was "no room at the inn" in Bethlehem.
Meanwhile, the early Christian Church failed to record the date of Jesus' birth with any certainty because it simply wasn't important to them. The death of Christ is attested to in great detail in all four gospel records. But, His birthday was of little consequence. It wasn't until the time of Emperor Constantine's efforts to "Christianize" Rome that we find any real attention paid to His birth.
The Romans were steeped in Helenized culture, which they "borrowed" from the Greeks. The Greek pantheon of gods was inculcated into Roman mythology and simply given new names. And, the vast majority of Greco/Roman mythological worship finds its roots in Babylonish mystery religion, which all revolves around "sun worship." So, one of the primary festivals (read: holy days) that the Romans observed each year was the Saturnalia Feast (which came to be known as the Feast of Fools in the Nordic and Gaelic cultures). It happened on the shortest day of the calendar year as a tribute to the sun, in order to entice the sun to return and keep their agricultural society going. So, every year, during the winter solstice, there was a drunken, wild, gift-giving festival that had its roots in ancient sun worship.
Meanwhile, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine (306 to 337 AD) there had been 150 years of unbridled torture of Christians. However, Christianity, far from being disposed of by the Roman persecution, continued to grow and thrive. So, when he rose to the throne of Rome, he had a huge social dilemma. Although his personal devotions prove that he worshipped the Roman gods Mars and Apollos, Constantine unilaterally forbid Christian persecution throughout his realm.
The next significant event in Constantine's religious development occurred in 312. Lactantius - who tutored his son, Crispus - and who therefore must have been close to the imperial family, reports that during the night before the Battle of the Milvian Bridge Constantine was commanded in a dream to place the sign of Christ on the shields of his soldiers. Constantine was victorious and he attributed his victory to "the god of the Christians." Consequently, he began the effort to "christianize" Rome, making it the State religion. Since every Roman citizen was required to embrace some form of Christianity - though it was a severely watered-down and superficial form of Christianity - Constantine effectively established the Roman universal (the meaning of "catholic") church and the Holy Roman Empire. And, of course, Roman Catholicism went on to dominate Western Religion for the next 1200 years.
So, what doest that have to do with Christmas? Well, in his efforts to "Christianize" Rome, Constantine encountered considerable resistance from the heathen Roman populace. Realizing that he could not utterly remove all of their various feasts, orgies, bacchanalias and observances, he simply stamped Christian names and observances onto the festivities that already existed. For instance, the Feast of Ishtar, a Spring Fertility Feast replete with rabbits, eggs and other symbols of fertility, occurred close to the time of the Passover, when Christ rose from the dead. The two were effectively mashed together, and the early-risers who went to celebrate the rising of the sun, the rebirth of Tammuz, and his mother Semirimus, called Ishtar, was simply "Christianized" to celebrate the resurrection of Christ from the dead. In fact, it's pretty spooky that the most significant religious observance of the calendar year still bears her name - Easter! And, people in the Christian church still run out to greet the sun as it rises - a form of Babylonish Baal (sun god) worship.
Anyway (you can see this coming), rather than try to stop the mid-winter Saturnalia feast, called "birthday of the unconquered sun," Constantine simply imposed the birth of Christ onto that date in order to give it significance for every citizen of Rome, regardless of their personal depth of Christian commitment. It was a small matter to change "the sun" to "the Son." And, in keeping with their penchant for mixing and matching heathen and Christian names and concepts, that holiday came to be known as the Christ-mass. The English word "mass" is derived from the Latin "masse," which is derived from the Greek "maza," which were small, round barley cakes baked to honor Semirimus as the "queen of heaven." That name was carried into the Catholic worship service, with its veneration of Mary as "queen of Heaven." So, when the Mass was performed to honor her child, it was designated the yearly "Christ-mass." We just call it Christmas.
And, Christmas doesn't have the sort of illustrious American history that modern folk assume. It was understood to be a pagan practice by the earliest pilgrims and settlers. In fact, Christmas was generally outlawed in America until the end of the last century. Up until 1870, the city of Boston proclaimed that anyone missing work on Christmas Day would be fired. Factory owners required employees to come to work at 5 a.m. on Christmas in order to insure they would not go to church that day. And any student who failed to go to school on December 25 was summarily expelled. Alabama was the first state of the union to recognize Christmas as a legal holiday, but that was late in the nineteenth century. It's amazing how times have changed; now that Christmas is a staple in our national economy.
While there's some debate as to where the various traditions and observances of Christmas started, it's clear that most of them pre-date Christ Himself. They were simply carried over from their heathen roots into the "christian" culture. And, Santa Claus is one of those traditions. If you do a simple search on the Internet on the History of Christmas, or the history of Santa Claus - remember that "Santa" comes from the Latin word for "saint" - you'll find a wealth of debate and information. But, it's clear that a fat man in red coming down the chimney to give gifts to children has nothing to do with the birth of Christ.
The reason I referred to him as Baal, is because of the ancient mid-east and European wood carving that depict Baal as an old man with a long white beard, usually holding a fir, or evergreen, tree as a sign of eternal life. That exact imagery, by the way, appeared on this year's Christmas stamps from the US postal service. Spooky.
It's funny how inculcated this essentially heathen custom has become in our society, though. I once told a woman that I didn't care for Christmas and she accused me of being an atheist! But, it's just the opposite. I don't like Christmas because I am a committed Christian! Certainly, Jesus was right when He said, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition." (Mat. 15:6)
However, I am not a complete killjoy where Christmas is concerned. We give our kids gifts and we enjoy the time the family. But, we have never taught our children Santa Claus. I mean, they know who he is, but they know he is fictitious, on the level of Bugs Bunny and Ronald McDonald. We never wanted to ascribe God-like attributes to anyone but God. Only God "sees you when you're sleeping and knows when you're awake." And, only God rewards and judges people, not some mythological fat man from the North Pole. Libbie and I agreed early in our marriage that we would not lie to our kids. That way, they would always know that whatever we told them was true. And, they would trust us to guide them in the pathways of truth and honesty.
When my parents - who really played the Santa Claus thing to the hilt - told me that he was not real, I was crushed. And, the very next question I asked (according to my mom) was, "Then is there really a God?" Of course, they instantly went into recovery mode and did their best to convince me that the God I had never seen, never felt, seldom talked to and who never seemed to actually do anything for me, was really, genuinely alive and significant. But, the man who had entered my home every year, brought me gifts, ate our cookies, drank our milk, who I wrote letters to and who loved me for being good, was fake. I hated it. So, as a parent, I will never take my children through that crisis. When I tell them about God - whom they have heard about from their earliest years - they know I'm telling the truth and that I will never recant.
A couple of years ago we even stopped putting up a tree. The tree had bothered me, but my wife did not share my conviction, originally. But, after a while it even bothered her. Like I've said, revelation of God is progressive and we are responsible to the truth we know. So, we asked the kids if they would prefer a tree each holiday, or if we spent that extra fifty bucks on gifts. You can imagine their reply. Bingo - no tree.
Thanks for your question. I know plenty of Christians struggle with the holidays and how to properly observe them. My opinion is that we all react in accordance with our level of understanding, in keeping with the truth revealed to us as individuals. Some folk with less knowledge of Christmas history and traditions may celebrate the holidays in all their detail without a pang of conscience. And, I would never condemn them. They are a perfect example of Paul's "weaker brethren." I will continually strive to teach God's word until we all come to the knowledge of the Lord and worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Then, each Christian must work out the details between them and God. My job, and our job as a church, is to expose the truth and promote the worship of Christ and Him only.
Fair enough?
Yours for His sake,

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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Who does this remind you of?


A Song of Confidence in God’s Triumph Over Evil

1     Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?
2     The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor;
     Let them be caught in the plots which they have devised.
3     For the wicked boasts of his heart’s desire;
     He blesses the greedy and renounces the Lord.
4     The wicked in his proud countenance does not seek God;
     God is in none of his thoughts.
5     His ways are always prospering;
     Your judgments are far above, out of his sight;
     As for all his enemies, he sneers at them.
6     He has said in his heart, “I shall not be moved;
     I shall never be in adversity.”
7     His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and oppression;
     Under his tongue is trouble and iniquity.
8     He sits in the lurking places of the villages;
     In the secret places he murders the innocent;
     His eyes are secretly fixed on the helpless.
9     He lies in wait secretly, as a lion in his den;
     He lies in wait to catch the poor;
     He catches the poor when he draws him into his net.
10     So he crouches, he lies low,
     That the helpless may fall by his strength.
11     He has said in his heart,
     “God has forgotten;
     He hides His face;
     He will never see.”
12     Arise, O Lord!
     O God, lift up Your hand!
     Do not forget the humble.
13     Why do the wicked renounce God?
     He has said in his heart,
     “You will not require an account.
14     But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief,
     To repay it by Your hand.
     The helpless commits himself to You;
     You are the helper of the fatherless.
15     Break the arm of the wicked and the evil man;
     Seek out his wickedness until You find none.
16     The Lord is King forever and ever;
     The nations have perished out of His land.
17     Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble;
     You will prepare their heart;
     You will cause Your ear to hear,
18     To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
     That the man of the earth may oppress no more.

Who does this Psalm bring to mind?

He “cares” about your healthcare by turning it to socialized medicine. 
The truth is far from him. 
His failures all belong to others about him. 
He supports the killing of the preborn and elderly.  
He bribes the poor with a free cell phone to support him in the upcoming election.
Most sadly, God is in none of his thoughts. 

Please pray for our president that the Gospel of Jesus will be opened to his heart and he will hear it.