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Zuno_Yazh

The Everlasting Gospel

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†. Rev 14:6-7 . . And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people, announcing with a loud voice: Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.

 

The everlasting gospel is very elementary. Pretty much all it says is:

 

1• There's a supreme being.

 

2• He deserves respect.

 

3• There's a frightful reckoning looming on the horizon, and

 

4• The cosmos-- all of its forms of life, matter, and energy --is the product of intelligent design.

 

Of particular interest to me is the inclusion of water in the everlasting gospel. Scientists theorize the origin of the earth's amazing quantity of water without really knowing exactly where it came from, nor how it got here. Well; that is one of the things that I like about Genesis. It takes an essentially unsophisticated, uneducated blue-collar retiree like myself and gives him answers to questions that people much brighter, and better educated cannot answer.

 

Giving "glory" simply indicates giving someone credit where credit is due; and "worship" can be roughly defined as reverence, i.e. honor and respect.

 

It's quite natural to admire celebrities, pro athletes, and super achievers-- to give them credit where credit is due --but not quite so natural to do the same for their creator.

 

Anyway, point being: people either believe in intelligent design, or they don't. If they do believe, then they will admire both the designer's genius and His handiwork. If they don't believe; then they will neither admire nor respect anything about Him: simple as that.

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. Anyway, point being: people either believe in intelligent design, or they don't. If they do believe, then they will admire both the designer's genius and His handiwork. If they don't believe; then they will neither admire nor respect anything about Him: simple as that.

 

How does one make the huge leap from an intelligent designer to the God of the Bible?

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How does one make the huge leap from an intelligent designer to the God of the Bible?

 

 

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen 1:1)

 

"Ever since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature --have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. (Rom 1:20)

 

One of the aspects of God's eternal power and divine nature is His amazing IQ.

 

"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." (Ps 19:1-2)

 

Paul goes on to say that people who don't believe the cosmos is the product of intelligent design have no excuse. He prefaced his remarks by saying:

 

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth" (Rom 1:18)

 

Well; I guess you know what that means for guys like Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson without my having to say so.

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"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen 1:1)

 

"Ever since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature --have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. (Rom 1:20)

 

One of the aspects of God's eternal power and divine nature is His amazing IQ.

 

"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." (Ps 19:1-2)

 

Paul goes on to say that people who don't believe the cosmos is the product of intelligent design have no excuse. He prefaced his remarks by saying:

 

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth" (Rom 1:18)

 

Well; I guess you know what that means for guys like Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson without my having to say so.

 

You're making the same erroneous assumption that so many who advocate Intelligent design as an effective apologetic make - you assume it is a stepping straight to the one true God - however there are a myriad of religions and cults out there that have creation stories - why should a person look at creation, and know there is a God in heaven, and then choose Christianity - what is the bridge that leads from one to the other? To put that another way, why would a person accept the bible's description of the designer over the Quran's?

 

 

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To put that another way, why would a person accept the bible's description of the designer over the Quran's?

Because the Holy Spirit has regenerated them would be the answer for Christians. IMO The others are spiritually dead so I have little idea why they would do so.

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why would a person accept the bible's description of the designer over the Quran's?

 

 

There's an area on this site set up for Apologetics. Perhaps someone there can help you.

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There's an area on this site set up for Apologetics. Perhaps someone there can help you.

 

I'm asking you to bridge the gap that you left in your opening post of this thread

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To put that another way, why would a person accept the bible's description of the designer over the Quran's?

Because the Holy Spirit has regenerated them would be the answer for Christians. IMO The others are spiritually dead so I have little idea why they would do so.

Being 'reformed' I would agree :D

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†. Mark 16:15-17 . . Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

 

Q: What about the many millions of people in the past and the present who've never heard, nor ever will hear, the gospel? What's to become of them?

 

A: Well; if I understand that passage in Mark correctly, the onus is upon those who hear rather than upon those who have never heard. In point of fact, there are other passages in the Bible like Mark's saying pretty much the same thing.

 

In other words: in order to be condemned for disbelief, one must first be given some information to think about. Just because someone has yet to hear Jesus' gospel doesn't eo ipso make them an unbeliever. I'm pretty sure the condemnation mentioned in Mark 16:15-17 targets disbelievers; in other words: people who hear Jesus' gospel and blow it off.

 

But that doesn't let those millions off the hook because in the absence of Jesus' gospel, the everlasting gospel becomes the default. Everybody eventually hears the everlasting gospel because the cosmos-- all of its forms of life, matter, and energy --is everywhere 24/7/365.

 

†. Rom 1:19-20 . .What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature --have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

 

Q: If people can get saved by heeding the everlasting gospel, then why send out missionaries to every corner of the globe preaching Jesus' gospel?

 

A: Because not everyone everywhere believes what the cosmos is telling them. Those cases are an emergency because Jesus' gospel is their last resort, i.e. the final option.

 

I recently watched a movie on NetFlix called "Come Sunday" based upon the spiritual career of a Christian minister named Carlton D'metrius Pearson, DD. He underwent a crisis of faith due to pondering the fate of the millions of people in the world perishing in genocides, civil wars, and whatnot who never heard, nor ever would hear, Jesus' gospel. It seemed thoroughly unreasonable to him that a merciful, loving God would condemn so many uninformed people to an eternal destiny in hell just because they didn't believe in a Jesus about whom many of them likely knew nothing about.

 

Mr. Pearson's solution to the problem was to simply rule out an eternal hell by insisting that classical Christianity is interpreting the New Testament improperly.

 

Well; he attended Oral Roberts University and was mentored by Oral Roberts himself, so I'm pretty sure Mr. Pearson was aware of the everlasting gospel; but apparently he didn't know how to apply it. That's a remarkable shortcoming considering where he went to school, and who it was that mentored him.

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†. Mark 16:15-17 . . Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

 

Q: What about the many millions of people in the past and the present who've never heard, nor ever will hear, the gospel? What's to become of them?

 

A: Well; if I understand that passage in Mark correctly, the onus is upon those who hear rather than upon those who have never heard. In point of fact, there are other passages in the Bible like Mark's saying pretty much the same thing.

 

In other words: in order to be condemned for disbelief, one must first be given some information to think about. Just because someone has yet to hear Jesus' gospel doesn't eo ipso make them an unbeliever. I'm pretty sure the condemnation mentioned in Mark 16:15-17 targets disbelievers; in other words: people who hear Jesus' gospel and blow it off.

 

But that doesn't let those millions off the hook because in the absence of Jesus' gospel, the everlasting gospel becomes the default. Everybody eventually hears the everlasting gospel because the cosmos-- all of its forms of life, matter, and energy --is everywhere 24/7/365.

 

†. Rom 1:19-20 . .What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature --have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

 

Q: If people can get saved by heeding the everlasting gospel, then why send out missionaries to every corner of the globe preaching Jesus' gospel?

 

A: Because not everyone everywhere believes what the cosmos is telling them. Those cases are an emergency because Jesus' gospel is their last resort, i.e. the final option.

 

I recently watched a movie on NetFlix called "Come Sunday" based upon the spiritual career of a Christian minister named Carlton D'metrius Pearson, DD. He underwent a crisis of faith due to pondering the fate of the millions of people in the world perishing in genocides, civil wars, and whatnot who never heard, nor ever would hear, Jesus' gospel. It seemed thoroughly unreasonable to him that a merciful, loving God would condemn so many uninformed people to an eternal destiny in hell just because they didn't believe in a Jesus about whom many of them likely knew nothing about.

 

Mr. Pearson's solution to the problem was to simply rule out an eternal hell by insisting that classical Christianity is interpreting the New Testament improperly.

 

Well; he attended Oral Roberts University and was mentored by Oral Roberts himself, so I'm pretty sure Mr. Pearson was aware of the everlasting gospel; but apparently he didn't know how to apply it. That's a remarkable shortcoming considering where he went to school, and who it was that mentored him.

An interesting perception.

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"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Gen 1:1)

 

"Ever since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature --have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made. (Rom 1:20)

 

One of the aspects of God's eternal power and divine nature is His amazing IQ.

 

"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." (Ps 19:1-2)

 

Paul goes on to say that people who don't believe the cosmos is the product of intelligent design have no excuse. He prefaced his remarks by saying:

 

"The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth" (Rom 1:18)

 

Well; I guess you know what that means for guys like Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson without my having to say so.

 

You're making the same erroneous assumption that so many who advocate Intelligent design as an effective apologetic make - you assume it is a stepping straight to the one true God - however there are a myriad of religions and cults out there that have creation stories - why should a person look at creation, and know there is a God in heaven, and then choose Christianity - what is the bridge that leads from one to the other? To put that another way, why would a person accept the bible's description of the designer over the Quran's?

 

Because there is John 14:6 Jesus Christ is telling us that "I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father, but by Me." There can be only One truth.

 

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created...." no one else.

 

And John 1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word Was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him alll things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. ..... In Him was life, and that life was the light of men."

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†. Mark 16:15-17 . . Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.

 

Q: What about the many millions of people in the past and the present who've never heard, nor ever will hear, the gospel? What's to become of them?

 

A: Well; if I understand that passage in Mark correctly, the onus is upon those who hear rather than upon those who have never heard. In point of fact, there are other passages in the Bible like Mark's saying pretty much the same thing.

 

In other words: in order to be condemned for disbelief, one must first be given some information to think about. Just because someone has yet to hear Jesus' gospel doesn't eo ipso make them an unbeliever. I'm pretty sure the condemnation mentioned in Mark 16:15-17 targets disbelievers; in other words: people who hear Jesus' gospel and blow it off.

 

But that doesn't let those millions off the hook because in the absence of Jesus' gospel, the everlasting gospel becomes the default. Everybody eventually hears the everlasting gospel because the cosmos-- all of its forms of life, matter, and energy --is everywhere 24/7/365.

 

†. Rom 1:19-20 . .What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities-- his eternal power and divine nature --have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

 

Q: If people can get saved by heeding the everlasting gospel, then why send out missionaries to every corner of the globe preaching Jesus' gospel?

 

A: Because not everyone everywhere believes what the cosmos is telling them. Those cases are an emergency because Jesus' gospel is their last resort, i.e. the final option.

 

I recently watched a movie on NetFlix called "Come Sunday" based upon the spiritual career of a Christian minister named Carlton D'metrius Pearson, DD. He underwent a crisis of faith due to pondering the fate of the millions of people in the world perishing in genocides, civil wars, and whatnot who never heard, nor ever would hear, Jesus' gospel. It seemed thoroughly unreasonable to him that a merciful, loving God would condemn so many uninformed people to an eternal destiny in hell just because they didn't believe in a Jesus about whom many of them likely knew nothing about.

 

Mr. Pearson's solution to the problem was to simply rule out an eternal hell by insisting that classical Christianity is interpreting the New Testament improperly.

 

Well; he attended Oral Roberts University and was mentored by Oral Roberts himself, so I'm pretty sure Mr. Pearson was aware of the everlasting gospel; but apparently he didn't know how to apply it. That's a remarkable shortcoming considering where he went to school, and who it was that mentored him.

And, yes , there have been and continue to be multitudes of people 'out there' -- we think in terms of people in the darkest of Africa who haven't heard the Gospel. But there is Also the Holy Spirit guiding believers to all those geographical areas. We forget that this world is getting smaller and smaller. People go through groups drilling for water and sharing Gospel at the same time. Geographical areas that won't allow 'missionaries' to be there Will allow groups in to teach their people water purification / literacy / health care. And, as always, some Do accept salvation and some Don't.

 

So -- until all have had an opportunity to Hear and accept or reject. The person sitting next to us in church can be just as 'lost' as the person on the other side of the world.

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In other words: in order to be condemned for disbelief, one must first be given some information to think about. Just because someone has yet to hear Jesus' gospel doesn't eo ipso make them an unbeliever. I'm pretty sure the condemnation mentioned in Mark 16:15-17 targets disbelievers; in other words: people who hear Jesus' gospel and blow it off.

 

But that doesn't let those millions off the hook because in the absence of Jesus' gospel, the everlasting gospel becomes the default. Everybody eventually hears the everlasting gospel because the cosmos-- all of its forms of life, matter, and energy --is everywhere 24/7/365.

 

So you propose two ways of salvation:

 

(1) through faith in Jesus Christ

(2) through faith in the evidence of creation

 

My friend, I use this term cautiously, but this sounds heretical to me (I am not accusing you of heresy though I am seeking clarity). Jesus Christ says: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (Joh 14:6 NKJ) - the only way of salvation is through Jesus Christ. Creation is enough for us to realize there is God in heaven, but that isn't that Paul is saying in Romans 1, Paul is saying that everyone knows there is a God in heaven because creations declaration is so clear - however people suppress that knolwdge and choose to worship the created rather then the creator.

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Jesus Christ says: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

 

 

Jesus' statement applies to everyone-- regardless of age, race, or gender --not only everyone now, but all the way back to Adam.

 

His statement below also applies to everyone all the way back to Adam.

 

"I tell you the truth: no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. . . I tell you the truth: no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. . . You should not be surprised at my saying you must be born again." (John 3:3-7)

 

Note that the birth about which Jesus spoke isn't optional; it's a must: no exceptions-- regardless of age, race, or gender.

 

 

 

Edited by Zuno_Yazh

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Jesus' statement applies to everyone-- regardless of age, race, or gender --not only everyone now, but all the way back to Adam.

 

His statement below also applies to everyone all the way back to Adam.

 

"I tell you the truth: no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again. . . I tell you the truth: no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. . . You should not be surprised at my saying you must be born again." (John 3:3-7)

 

Note that the birth about which Jesus spoke isn't optional; it's a must-- regardless of age, race, or gender..

 

Please answer the question - in your understanding is there a second way to be saved, i.e. can one be saved through what you term, 'the everlasting gospel,' without faith in Christ?

 

All I want is a 'yes' or a 'no' - then you can follow that answer up with your justification if you wish!

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in your understanding is there a second way to be saved, i.e. can one be saved through what you term, 'the everlasting gospel,' without faith in Christ?

 

 

See posts #8 and #10

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in your understanding is there a second way to be saved, i.e. can one be saved through what you term, 'the everlasting gospel,' without faith in Christ?

 

 

See posts #8 and #10

Your statements are not concise. Let me try to summarize what I think you are saying. I think you are saying that those that not heard the salvific gospel (1 Cor. 15:1-4) are not disbelievers because they have no belief on the subject ... so, if those people belief that there is a God based on nature they are saved because they "believe" (have faith) in God's existence. Again, they have no opinion/unbelief in the salvific message and therefore are not accountable for disbelief. (due to ignorance as they don't know of Christ's death/resurrection)

 

So, regarding those who have never heard of Christ, you can saved by ignorance of Christ if you believe God exists. Hmmm.... so some might be saved before hearing the salvific message and after a person brings them the "salvific message" they may be condemned. So, logically I suppose, an evangelist should first ask the person that has never heard of Christ: "Do you believe in God". If the answers is "yes" then avoid discussion of Christ to avoid sending the person to hell (so to speak).

 

This is interesting stuff...new to me.

Aside: You are welcome to clarify my understanding of your position.

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That which 'Zuno_Yazh' is saying is that some people will observe nature and attribute the existence of sun, moon, stars, storms, the birth/death cycle of life as coming from a supernatural source and want to know more about it in a positive way. While Others will see the same things / choose to make up some 'god' and offer sacrifices of their children or whatever to appease the 'god' out of fear. And, in effect, they will be following something Other than the 'Godliness' that the other's are following.

 

Which is basically what Romans 1 is saying.

 

How does a person respond to whatever amount of "light" their circumstances allow them to 'see'.

 

Put two people in a car wreck -- one of them swears and screams at the circumstances and the other tries to calm the other person down by saying 'at least we're still alive' and help is coming. And swearing at the other driver isn't going to help any. So we do what we can to help each other.

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That which 'Zuno_Yazh' is saying is that some people will observe nature and attribute the existence of sun, moon, stars, storms, the birth/death cycle of life as coming from a supernatural source and want to know more about it in a positive way. While Others will see the same things / choose to make up some 'god' and offer sacrifices of their children or whatever to appease the 'god' out of fear. And, in effect, they will be following something Other than the 'Godliness' that the other's are following.

 

Which is basically what Romans 1 is saying.

 

How does a person respond to whatever amount of "light" their circumstances allow them to 'see'.

 

Put two people in a car wreck -- one of them swears and screams at the circumstances and the other tries to calm the other person down by saying 'at least we're still alive' and help is coming. And swearing at the other driver isn't going to help any. So we do what we can to help each other.

I was being a bit presumptive of what 'Zuno_Yazh' was saying, because I can't read his mind. I Should have said that My reaction to his comments suggest that .......

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you can saved by ignorance of Christ if you believe God exists.

 

 

There's more to the everlasting gospel than belief there's a supreme being. In point of fact, according to Jas 2:19, just believing there's a supreme being is a demon's level of belief.

 

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Most of the Bible teachers that I've listened to sincerely believe that Jesus' church will be completely gone from the Earth when the fourth chapter of Revelation begins coming to pass, viz: the era of the so-called great commission (a.k.a. the church age) will be over; there won't be any born-again, Spirit-empowered Christian evangelists left anywhere on Earth preaching Jesus' gospel, yet according to Rev 7:9-17, many thousands of people will be saved during the church's absence.

 

Edited by Zuno_Yazh

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That which 'Zuno_Yazh' is saying is that some people will observe nature and attribute the existence of sun, moon, stars, storms, the birth/death cycle of life as coming from a supernatural source and want to know more about it in a positive way. While Others will see the same things / choose to make up some 'god' and offer sacrifices of their children or whatever to appease the 'god' out of fear. And, in effect, they will be following something Other than the 'Godliness' that the other's are following.

 

Which is basically what Romans 1 is saying.

 

How does a person respond to whatever amount of "light" their circumstances allow them to 'see'.

 

Put two people in a car wreck -- one of them swears and screams at the circumstances and the other tries to calm the other person down by saying 'at least we're still alive' and help is coming. And swearing at the other driver isn't going to help any. So we do what we can to help each other.

@Sue D. that is what I assumed at first, but note statements like this:

 

If people can get saved by heeding the everlasting gospel, then why send out missionaries to every corner of the globe preaching Jesus' gospel?

 

he is clearly proposing that one can be saved by what he terms 'the everlasting gospel' apart from Christ.

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Most of the Bible teachers that I've listened to sincerely believe that Jesus' church will be completely gone from the Earth when the fourth chapter of Revelation begins coming to pass, viz: the era of the so-called great commission (a.k.a. the church age) will be over; there won't be any born-again, Spirit-empowered Christian evangelists left anywhere on Earth preaching Jesus' gospel, yet according to Rev 7:9-17, many thousands of people will be saved during the church's absence.

That's because you listen to the wrong teachers - maybe if you read some of the puritan and reformers and listened to better teaching you theology would be better?

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See posts #8 and #10

 

I asked for a straightforward answer - based on this statement alone (and your refusal to clarify) I will take it that the answer is yes you propose a model that involves at least two ways to be saved:

 

If people can get saved by heeding the everlasting gospel, then why send out missionaries to every corner of the globe preaching Jesus' gospel?

 

That, my friend, is what we call a heresy and as such it is a teaching that needs to be repented of - there is only one way to be saved and that is through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone, by the grace of God alone.

 

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Most of the Bible teachers that I've listened to sincerely believe that Jesus' church will be completely gone from the Earth when the fourth chapter of Revelation begins coming to pass, viz: the era of the so-called great commission (a.k.a. the church age) will be over; there won't be any born-again, Spirit-empowered Christian evangelists left anywhere on Earth preaching Jesus' gospel, yet according to Rev 7:9-17, many thousands of people will be saved during the church's absence.

@reformed baptist, Zuno said that they "sincerely believe". Is that decisive?

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C. was that for the first time in his life, he was listening to someone who sounded like he knew Jesus personally. The football player quoted Ecclesiastes 11:3 (“Where the tree falls in the forest, there it lies”) and R. C. saw himself as that: dead, corrupt, and rotting. He returned to his dorm that night and prayed to God for forgiveness. He would later remark that he was probably the only person in church history to be converted through that particular verse. Matt Chandler was also converted to Christ through his high-school football team. “I’m going to tell you about Jesus,” Matt’s football teammate told him. “When do you want to do it?” God uses ordinary athletes to bring glory to his name. This shouldn’t surprise us, since Christian athletes have a unique opportunity. Unique Opportunities I played football for six years. I had dreams of going pro (what kid doesn’t?), but the Lord had other plans. Instead of going pro, something better happened: I became team co-chaplain at my undergraduate school. And although it was for a short period of life, I reflect on those days with sweet joy. Something like a mini-revival happened. When the chaplaincy program was created, most athletes showed little to no interest in spiritual matters—there were many years of sowing seed with little fruit. Before my senior year, however, one of the coaches died. Suddenly, the frail nature of life confronted us all. We went from scant fruit to more than 50-plus guys attending post-game devotionals and pre-game chapel. Several were converted to Christ. One is now a pastor. I could go on and on. The Lord loves to use ordinary athletes to lead others to Christ. Having been around athletes much of my life, here are a few reasons I believe Christian athletes have unique gospel opportunities. 1. Close proximity. When you’re an athlete, you’re constantly around teammates. You work out, watch film, practice, and play together. You’re always rubbing shoulders with someone else. Because of the constant closeness, you have repeated opportunities to share Christ. If you succumb to fear one day and don’t share the gospel, you can make up for it another day. You see each other often. 2. Close brotherhood or sisterhood. There’s a unique familial feel that develops between athletes. You feel like you’re going to war together, like you’d die for a teammate in a heartbeat. In light of this brotherhood or sisterhood, you develop rapport quickly, which can overflow into gospel conversations. 3. You’re exposed. You can’t fake it on a team. Your true self comes out. If you claim Christ but you’re a hypocrite, you’ll put a bad taste in others’ mouths. If you claim Christ and your actions and words align, however, you may not have to summon the courage to initiate every gospel conversation; people will likely come to you. 4. Your words carry weight. God has gifted some with tremendous athletic ability. If you’re one of the starters on the team, don’t waste your influence. If you’re the star player, people will look up to you, follow you, and hang on every word you say. This comes with pressure, to be sure. But Jesus can provide the boldness you need. 5. Identity crisis. Many athletes are still trying answer the question, “Who am I?” Many, if not all, will find their identity in their athletic performance. During this vulnerable time period, seize the opportunity to point others to Christ, encouraging them to let him shape their identity. How to Do It But how do you start these conversations? And what do you say? Here are a few things to keep in mind: Be bold. Athletes love boldness. Unlike many other environments, you’re not walking on eggshells when you’re on a team. You can be yourself. So, like Chandler’s friend, be bold and strike up conversations. But what exactly do you say? Don’t overthink it. Put yourself out there and see what God will do. Use the Bible in your conversations. The Spirit works through God’s Word. Remember Sproul’s testimony, how the Spirit used a remarkably obscure passage. He sovereignly moves when and where he wills. Get organized. When I served as co-chaplain, we had post-practice devotionals, pre-game chapels, Bible studies, and more. You may not be able to do all that, but being organized goes a long way. Consider starting a weekly Bible study. Scheduling things creates a safe and secure environment for athletes to attend, as opposed to putting all the pressure on spontaneous, informal gospel conversations. Say “sorry” when you mess up. You’re going to make mistakes. Perhaps you’ll say something inappropriate or frustrate someone on your team. When this happens, remember the grace that is yours in Christ, and own your mistake: “My bad. That was my fault. I’m really sorry.” Your teammates don’t expect you to be perfect, and you don’t have to be. But if you say you’re a Christian, know that others will be watching you closely, even if they pretend not to notice. So be real about your imperfections. This will help them to respect you. Share your testimony. Once you gain some rapport, share your conversion story. This can lead into a gospel conversation. At the end of the day, the pressure is not on you. The Lord will gather his elect to himself. But if you’re a Christian athlete, you have many unique opportunities to share Christ in ways others do not. Don’t waste your opportunities; instead, do the work of an evangelist (2 Tim. 4:5). View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Jackie Hill Perry on Gospel Diversity for the Next Generation

      On April 3 and 4, 2018, in Memphis, Tennessee, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and The Gospel Coalition hosted a special event titled “MLK50: Gospel Reflections from the Mountaintop,” to reflect on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s tragic death. Jackie Hill Perry delivered this talk during the event. The next generation, I imagine, will be one worth watching. A week or so ago, the largest youth protest since Vietnam took place when thousands of youth from across the nation used their voices to speak out against violence, gun violence, and to speak for gun control. Generation Z, as they’ve been called, has already begun to champion what matters most to them with a passion and conviction that I would think they must have learned from the generations before them. Many of them have seen the protests against police brutality, done by folks maybe a decade or so older than them. They have seen the bent knee during a national anthem and understood it to be a revolutionary act. They have watched their Twitter timelines fill up with a 180-characters-worth of honest and grieving words. Words that have stirred in them a desire to be just as loud for what is right as the silent are being for what is wrong. This generation has learned some things from us. Well, some of us that is. Some of us may not have been alive to get close enough to the windows to see a sit-in in action at a segregated lunch counter. We weren’t there to wave as the Freedom Riders rode past us, resolute in their mission even if it meant that they might die on their way home. Some of us weren’t old enough to watch as Martin and others walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. But when we found out about it, it did something in us. It taught us that to care about injustice is to do something about it. To put ourselves in harm’s way even if that means peace for my neighbor that this work, this work of loving our neighbors and making sure others will do the same, ain’t always comfortable. But by example they’ve shown us that it’s worth it. When it comes to the generation before us, we’ve learned some things. But there are some of us that have learned other things. Some may not have been there to hear the sound of a body swinging back and forth on a tree, the cracking of the branch and the laughter of the ones that made the noose. You might not have been there in the pews when the deacons made sure the colored folks sat in the balcony as not to sit too close to the white parishioners as they heard the preacher tell them that all this segregation that’s going on was the will of Almighty God. Some of you in this room probably weren’t old enough to see all that the generation before you did. But don’t think that in some way you haven’t been taught by it. Taught to not take the death of a brown body serious even when it swings, or should I say retweets, in front of your face. Taught to stay seated in your pew while oppression happens all around you. Taught not in words, usually, but by living, that this work, this work of loving your neighbor and making sure others do the same, doesn’t belong to you. Taught that because your beautiful baby boy can walk down the street with Skittles and tea in his hand when no one threatened by the color of his skin that the privilege of safety means that you are exempt from caring about the price of black pigment. Oh, surely we have learned some things. The generations are always teaching by example. If you read the Book of Ezekiel before, you’ve come across a passage that speaks to this idea of generational teaching. We find the prophet Ezekiel addressing the elders of Israel. God has a message for them, but first he wants to give them a little history lesson. He reminds them about how he rescued the people of Israel out of Egypt, with the promise that he would then bring them into a land flowing with milk and honey. But on the way, as we all do, they started tripping. They, in more ways than one, disobeyed God. And as judgment, God relegated them to a 40-year stay in the wilderness until the entire generation that left Egypt was dead. But while in the wilderness, the disobedience didn’t cease. They continued to walk in unbelief toward God with their idolatrous ways. But eventually, as God said would happen, each one of them perished until the younger generation was the only generation left. And Ezekiel 20:18, God tells the elders about what he told the children that were left and he says: And I said to their children in the wilderness, do not walk in the statutes of your fathers, nor keep their rules, nor defile yourselves with their idols.I am the Lord your God, so walk in my statutes, and be careful to obey my rules, and keep my Sabbaths holy that they may be a sign between me and you.That you may know that I am the Lord your God. But the children rebelled against me. They did not walk in my statutes, and were not careful to obey my rules by which if a person does them he shall live. Moreover, I swore to them in the wilderness that I would scatter them among the nations, and disperse them through the countries because they have not obeyed my rules, but have rejected my statutes, and profaned my Sabbaths, and their eyes were set on their fathers’ idols. During the 40 years in the wilderness, these children had learned some things. They’d seen some of their parents worship the gods of Egypt. They remembered when their mothers removed the gold earrings out of their ears and watched them turn them into golden calves. They were there when their father slept with the women of Moab and when their family sacrificed to a god named Baal, a god they knew was not the God of Israel, but a god that they thought was more worthy of their worship than the one who took them out of slavery. These children grew up in an environment where the people of God had an allegiance to all sorts of idols and lived by all kinds of statutes that they’ve created for themselves. So, when it was their turn to obey God, when they heard the command of God to walk in his statutes and to obey his rules, the only footsteps they chose to follow were the idolatrous feet of their fathers. And for all we know, they probably thought that generation knew best. Because clearly seeing each and every person in the generation prior to them drop dead in the wilderness wasn’t enough proof that God was not to be played with. The children of Israel had learned some things. Don’t you find it troubling that the letter, a letter from a Birmingham jail, a letter Dr. King wrote in 1963 to Christians, white Christians to be specific, contains in it the same frustrations being voiced to our white brothers and sisters today in 2018? The letter is 55 years old and yet this generation has not fully improved upon the beliefs and the behavior of the prior. The urgency of justice is still being questioned. The hearts of many brown and black believers are still disheartened as their brothers and sisters, the brothers and sisters that they share pews with, who seem to be so unwilling to pursue authentic peace, authentic peace that includes the presence of justice and not the peace that prefers the absence of tension. How could it be that one generation can progress so much and yet be so similar to the generation before them? And all of us, we can see it is because the generations are always teaching in all of us and one way or another have followed in somebody’s footsteps. If we want to equip the next generation for gospel diversity, we have to start here. Our methods have to be modeled if we expect for them to be followed. But we cannot and will not model what we don’t believe. And guess what? Your children, your mentees, your disciples, the people in your children’s group, your youth group, they are learning from you even if you don’t know yet. They’ve seen who you invite over for dinner. They’ve heard how you pray for your country. And some have never heard one plea for the peace of a black mother whose son was killed in a backyard. Or a petition to a God on behalf of a Hispanic teen who was terrified that she would be deported from the one home that she has always known. They are watching who you watch. They are listening to who you are learning from. If there is any indifference in your heart toward gospel diversity, you better know that your indifference will be to them a norm to which their world views will be shaped. But just as the next generation can learn some negative things from us all, because God is in us, with his help we can do what some of our fathers didn’t do. Why? Because we are a chosen race. We are a royal priesthood. We are a holy nation. We are a people for his own possession that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light. We must show the next generation what it’s like to be a part of a chosen race. A chosen generation. A generation made up of people that are white, and brown, and black, and every other color that God has made for his glory. A generation of folk that God has brought to himself. A generation of people that may have some bad blood inside of their bodies because of sin and their different upbringings, but a generation that will fight for the oppressed in America and beyond, just like the God of Israel fought for the oppressed in Egypt. Let the next generation see what a royal priesthood looks like. How a people who’ve been anointed by the Spirit, sanctified by God, and brought near to his throne through the Son, show them how they move about the world. Show them what a living sacrifice looks like and how it’s not a lamb or a goat, but a body, and bias, and comfort, and fear, and lovelessness, and pride, and privilege, and how this priesthood lays it all down on the altar to be burned before God, so that we can show the new generation what real worship looks like. Show them a holy nation. Show them a nation among many, but a nation under one God and with liberty and justice for all. And don’t get it twisted. This holy nation ain’t America, it’s the church of God. It’s the bride of Christ. It’s a nation whose king was a Jewish man killed by an unjust government as ordained by a sovereign God. This nation looks different than the rest because it’s governed by a God that is good, and holy, and wise, and just, and merciful, and empathetic, and dignifying. And as this holy nation lives among others, the generations will see what it looks like when your ultimate allegiance is King Jesus. Show them what it looks like to be a peculiar people that belong to God. We don’t really belong to this country. We don’t really belong to a political party. We don’t belong even to our economic status. Heck, we don’t belong to this world. We are a people for his own possession. And when we believe that, when we believe that we belong to God, we will live completely free from the statutes and the rules that these identities impose on us. That way, we will love not according to what makes us similar, but we will love in accordance to our Savior if only we would just be who we are. The next generation would learn some things. They would learn something glorious. They would learn about God in us. They would know that the people of God love differently than the world. That the people of God embrace diversity because that’s what God would do. And that’s what God has done. The next generation would follow in our footsteps and then they would come to realize that as they did, they were actually following Jesus, and not a God made in America’s image. They would come to see that as you set your mind on things above where Christ, he is seated at the right hand of God, the place he went after he did what was just and right, the seat he sat down on after dying and raising on behalf of people, that he died [to purchase] for himself [a people] from every tribe, tongue and nation. They would see that because you set your mind up there where he is, that they can, too. When we set our eyes on Christ instead of setting our eyes on our fathers’ idols and everything else that keeps us from gospel diversity, you can be sure that is when we begin equipping the next generation for gospel diversity. You can listen to the episode here or watch a video. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • The Gospel Does Not ‘Float Downstream’ from Big Cities

      Small towns and rural areas across the world need churches; they won’t be reached with the gospel by default. And many such places in the United States are growing increasingly secular—churches are dying faster than new ones are being planted. While it’s right to highlight the need to plant churches in large, growing urban centers, we would be mistaken to assume that the gospel will automatically “float downstream” from big cities. If we don’t intentionally give ourselves to seeing churches planted in rural communities, then it won’t happen. But this is not an easy task. Many aspects of rural life go against the grain of our glory-hungry dispositions. Life and ministry in small towns probably won’t win you a large following. You probably won’t grow a big church. You probably won’t receive much recognition. And it will probably be hard. But if you choose to plant a church in a small, forgotten part of the world, you will have the life-giving opportunity to say, with John the Baptist: “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). What small towns need is men and women willing to count the cost and plant churches that faithfully proclaim the gospel in their communities. We need leaders who have a concern for the glory of Christ in the forgotten corners of the earth. One such brother is Will Basham, who I’m excited to welcome to the podcast today. You can listen to this podcast episode here. Related: The Left Behind of Rural America (Collin Hansen and Stephen Witmer) Move Slowly in Small-Town Ministry (Dayton Hartman) The (False) Promise of Small-Town Community (Brett Moser) View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • ‘American Gospel’ Blows a Hole in the Prosperity Gospel

      After years of watching the prosperity “gospel” advance in America, Africa, and beyond, a backlash is coming—one grounded in the Word of God and the gospel of grace. It’s thrilling to see. The new documentary American Gospel: Christ Alone, directed by Brandon Kimber, takes aim at this scourge. America has always been a pragmatic, can-do kind of country, and the film argues that the material focus of the prosperity “gospel” suits American culture. In offering this searing critique, which applies not merely to “them” out there but to us (for many of us love money and ease more than we might be comfortable admitting), Kimber first establishes what the true gospel is: good news centered in the finished work of Christ. Standing in the place of sinners like us, Jesus has absorbed the perfect wrath of the Father and made a way out of hell and into heaven. When we trust Christ as our Lord and Savior by God-given faith, we are instantly justified and counted righteous in God’s sight, the very merit of Christ’s now being our own (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 5:1–2; Eph. 2:8–9). Numerous evangelical theologians and pastors comment on this truth in the film, together building a clear and potent case for faith in Christ. True Stories of True Faith American Gospel traces the stories of real Christians whose lives have intersected with prosperity teaching in some way. One woman sobs as she recounts how health-and-wealth teaching ripped her life apart, piece by piece, until she had nothing. The film also introduces us to Katherine Berger, a woman suffering from numerous dreaded illnesses—one after another, it seems—who nonetheless radiates bright faith in God. Also prominent in the film is Costi Hinn, nephew of faith-healer Benny Hinn. Costi served on his uncle’s team as a “catcher” who witnessed apparent miracles around the clock. His testimony—soon to release as a book—takes us into the seamy experience of the faith-healer, an enterprise that preys on the poor and suffering to enrich the flush and covetous. The moment that crystallizes the shameful nature of faith-healing comes when Costi discusses how Benny Hinn would (and does) “heal” people with minor ailments. When it came to terminally ill children and other sufferers facing profound challenges, the “healer” refused. This was the first jarring note in Costi’s young life that eventually led him out of prosperity religion (and that’s what it is—a different religion than biblical Christianity). American Gospel does not hold back; the camera pans back to the outer boundaries of auditoriums at Hinn crusades, where desperate parents cradle diseased children, ignored, unwanted, and unhealed. We watch this, and we hear Justin Peters testify to this experience personally, and we cannot help but feel both sadness and righteous anger—Christ’s own anger. The money-changers are still in the temple, still making God’s name a mockery. This is an exact parallel of what Jesus did not do. He did not enter the ministry to make money. He did not work in the name of God to be popular and liked. He did not heal those who could do anything for him. Rather, he came to the physically and spiritually poor and made eucatastrophes of them all—not only addressing their bodies but, in many cases, saving their souls. He was not in it for himself; he was in it for the Father’s greater glory and the sinner’s true salvation. “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4). Sadly, Christ’s name is invoked by “faith healers” like Hinn and others whose ministries don’t reflect him. Call Your Skeptical Friends American Gospel succeeds in its mission. It shows the spiritual and even eternal stakes of prosperity religion. It reveals the danger of allowing any endeavor, however virtuous on the surface, to seep into the preaching and application of the biblical gospel. The movie champions the true, saving gospel, and it unpacks this message with clarity and conviction. Here’s hoping many viewers will come across American Gospel on various streaming platforms (iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo), and that Christians will find opportunities to watch the film with unbelieving neighbors and friends. The prosperity “gospel” is a great foil by which to evangelize, for it is patently a sham to many outside of the church. A film like this could be a great apologetic for those with a skeptical bent, for example. Though nicely shot and edited, the film could be a bit tighter, and the summation of the gospel message takes some time to unfold. So many voices speaking to different issues can begin to send the brain whirling, though I did appreciate how Kimber mixes in Christian leaders both well known and also lesser known. As is not uncommon today, American Gospel presents the gospel message primarily in terms of justification, which is the heart of the euangelion but not the doctrinal sum. The film references the local church but could say more about its importance. Similarly, the moral implications of the gospel are somewhat muted in American Gospel. If we must not make the moral dimension of Scripture the point of every passage, neither should we lose sight of it. But these are small critiques, not major ones. High Stakes The prosperity gospel comes with a terrific cost, as all false teaching does; it does not merely ruin intellectual systems, it ruins individual lives. We see this firsthand in the film. American Gospel does not merely “destroy arguments” of the prosperity kind in keeping with apostolic aims (2 Cor. 10:4–5). It also shows us that the natural man craves miracles: healing, wealth, favor, better “benefits” and sales “commissions” (this is literally what a Bethel pastor leads a congregation to ask God for), a life stripped free of suffering and challenge. But the miracles God brings in most of our lives are often quite different: quieter, less showy, but powered by the saving gospel. Instead of immediate healing, Christians may well be called to persevere in suffering. Instead of wealth, we may be called to learn contentment in our situation. Instead of coming back from the dead as in “heaven tourism” books, we must all face death and square with mortality. Instead of the cessation of trials upon the exercise of faith, we may be called to endure trials over the long haul. Instead of undimmed favor with power-brokers, we may be called to anonymity and unappreciated toil. Instead of a life of globe-hopping circuit-riding, we may be called to tuck in with our families (especially our children) and love them well, normal day by normal day. Instead of experiencing an unbroken string of personal triumphs, we may take many hits as we await the ultimate cosmic triumph of our warrior-savior, Christ Jesus. These are “ordinary miracles,” the very work of God in us. God will do as he wishes with each one of us. True believers may prosper in earthly terms (this is not uncommon, and our God is a very, very generous and wonder-working God)—or they may not. The point is this: Let us be careful about which gospel we follow. Let us follow the true gospel, not the American one. Let us not believe in secular Christianity, which is what prosperity religion really offers. To this and every other counterfeit we offer not faith, but truth spoken in love—truth calibrated to destroy the lies of the Devil and to rescue the ones who are perishing. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

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