Guarding The Gospel

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Blogging At Townhall

I'm blogging at now... Check it out!

Friday, May 26, 2006

What about the "What If's"?

Ray Comfort just posted a great article on, titled "What about the What If's?". I recommend that anyone who is nervous about sharing their faith check it out:
As you stand in line, you hear a muffled male voice behind you. He isn't so patient. Your heart skips a beat because there are now three or four others standing in the line behind him. Oh dear. You feel a tinge of fear grip you as you prepare to turn around and offer a million dollar bill tract to the man. That's when the "What ifs" kick in. They begin with "This isn't an ideal tract situation. You are not walking away from the checkout. You are stuck in line. What if you give him a tract and he reads it out loud? It's happened before as you walked away from a checkout, and it made you smile as you heard "The million dollar question? Will you go to Heaven?" You smiled because you were leaving. But what if this man reads it while you are stuck in line? What if other people hear him? Imagine the whole line of people looking at the back of your head as you stood there, thinking, "Religious fanatic!"

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Condemnation and Almost Christians

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus

It's amazing how often this verse gets abused by people professing the name of Christ who want to excuse their sin. Who choose to go blind to the context of the verse and use it as a ticket to live however they want and still feel good about themselves. (Now of course I speak of myself as well, for I was surely no less guilty of taking part in this abuse of grace than anyone else.)

Let's look at the whole verse in context though.

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful fles, on account of sin: He condemnded sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (Rom 8:1-8)

When reading that verse in the context of what Paul was saying here, it becomes pretty clear that you can't walk according to the flesh and receive no condemnation. You cannot profess to be a Christian and go on living in sin that grace may abound. You're either free from the law of sin and death, or you're walking in the law condemning your sinful flesh.

If this concerns you, you might consider reading a book by Matthew Mead titled The Almost Christian Discovered. In which are a list and description of things that many 'Almost Christians' do to convince themselves of their salvation, but who will be among the goats hearing, "Depart from me you worker of iniquity, I never knew you..." Scary stuff.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Meanderings on purpose and the subtleties of being called by God

I plan to use this blog for two purposes: One, as a journal for my daily devotions, and two as a forum to voice my opinions about the attack against the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the past couple of months, God has begun to do a work in my heart and life like I've never known. He plucked me out of a life of wandering & sin, and brought me to a new state, to begin a new life according to His purpose. In that time, I've grown tremendously spiritually, but I fear not nearly as much as I ought. Praise God though that He will be faithful to complete the work He began.

In March I started listening to a great radio show called Way of the Master featuring Todd Friel, Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron (of Growing Pains). The change God has brought about through that program is miraculous. He's given me a zeal for the Gospel that I've never known, and set me on fire for Himself.

I started attending Calvary Chapel of Richmond a month ago after trying the other Calvary Chapel on the North side of town, and little did I know that it was exactly where God wanted me to be. Upon visiting for the first time, I discovered that they participate in a Pizza, Intercession, and Evangelism group on the VCU campus. (PIE is something Ray Comfort started in CA a while back). I decided to check it out a few weeks later because I really desired a chance to get out an witness to the lost, but was timid about doing so on my own.

So I show up, we pray, and one of the guys asks me if I called in to Way of the Master Radio a month prior. I said that I had, and he responded asking if I had mentioned to Ray that I listened to Hell's Best Kept Secret (listen to it, it'll change your life) the night before. I again said that I had, and then he related to me something that left my jaw finding dust mites in the carpet: He said, "Man, a couple of us heard someone named Chris from Richmond call in that day, and we came back to the group and told the others about it. We began to pray that God would bring him to our group." It was literally 3 weeks after that call that I began attending Calvary Chapel of Richmond. How neat is that???

So with that said, it appears that God has definitely confirmed that I'm where He wants me to be. All of this is also rather exciting in light of something that happened a few weeks prior to that fateful phone call:

I was at a Bible study with my girlfriend (now fiance, getting married in Oct!!!) and felt led by the Lord to go back with her to my apartment and seek Him in prayer. So, out of obedience, pray we did. And He spoke. In an amazing way.

Vicky was praying out loud, and while she was doing so, I was silently thanking God in my heart for such an amazing woman, and asking Him if, this was His will, why He had been so kind to bless me with a woman such as her. Then I distinctly felt Him say, "Because you're going to need her." In shock, like the foolish child I have always been, I ask, "Why?"

"Because I'm calling you to be a witness to nations."

I fell to the ground in tears, not knowing why. The weight of that exchange was so heavy, and my understanding so dim. I asked Vicky to stop praying for a moment, and related to her what had just occurred. We talked about it for a few minutes, and then held each other on the couch, me slightly sobbing because I was scared by the very thought of what He appeared to be calling me to. "Maybe it was just my mind playing a trick on me" I told myself earnestly. After all, this isn't the first, nor will it be the last time that I've thought I'd heard from God, many times having been mistaken. So I begin praying in my heart, "God, I want to accept this, but I can't. I'm afraid! You've got the wrong guy." That's when Vicky spoke up out of silence saying very matter-of-factly, "Don't be afraid, just accept it."

"How did you know thats what I was praying" I said, knowing the answer but unwilling to believe my ears. "I didn't" she said, "God just told me to say that to you." And so my fears were confirmed: I wasn't making it up; It wasn't all in my head. I did hear from God, and it scared the crap out of me. Those three words seem so harmless in written form, but when the soft, gentle voice of the Almighty speaks them to your heart, they take on an entirely different meaning. My life is no longer my own. I must now stand with the apostle Paul, and humbly exclaim:

"I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain." (Gal 2:20,21)

Thus began God's calling on my life. Thus begins the most amazing journey. One led by God, and completely out of my control (for which I am thankful). I rejoice in the Lord for what He's doing in me, and I pray He will do the same in you.

If you just happen to be reading this blog, and think its all a bunch of wacko, fundamentalist religious nonsense, then I have a few questions for you...

Do you consider yourself to be a good person? 99% of everyone who I've posed the question to all say yes. How about you? If you're not in the minority (and even if you are), then there are some more questions you should consider:

Have you ever told a lie?
No one likes to consider themselves to be a liar, but everyone has told a lie, half-truth, 'little white lie', etc at some point in their lives. So consider this: How many lies must you tell before you are a liar? 100? 10? 1? Ding ding ding! We have a winner. If you tell 1 lie, you're a liar.

Have you ever taken anything that doesn't belong to you, regardless of the value?
I love asking people on the street this question, because when I ask, "What does that make you?" I'll sometimes get the response, "a stealer". "Nope, thats in Pittsburgh. Here we call you a thief." And then I giggle to myself because I'm so funny. Um, I mean... But seriously, if you've ever stolen anything, then you're a thief. Doesn't matter how long ago it was. Doesn't matter how much it was worth. How many of you reading this have ever downloaded a song off the internet without paying for it? *Raises both hands and feet* I thought so.

Have you ever taken God's name in vain?
God considers this to be a very serious offense. When you do so, you're using the name of the Creator of the universe, the one who gives you life, in place of a four-letter filth word. He Himself exclaims, "I will not hold him guiltless who uses my name lightly."

And last, but definitely not least:
Have you ever looked at a woman (or man) in lust?
You've already admitted you're a liar, so don't even try to answer no to this one. Us guys usually say, "Oh yea! Plenty of times!" as if its a badge to be proud of. But get this: Jesus said in Matthew 5:27, "You have heard that it was said to those of old, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." That is some serious stuff. God doesn't just judge our actions, He judges the intentions of our hearts. And rightly so. The heart of man is exceedingly wicked, I know mine surely is.

The thing is, if you have answered Yes to even just one of these questions, then you have broken God's moral law. (In case you didn't recognize them, they're 4 of the Ten Commandments, and there's still another 6 cannons pointed at you.) Some day, you will die. Ten out of ten people do. The Bible says that it is appointed to man once to die, and then to face judgement. So at the end of your life, you will stand before the Just, Holy, and Righteous Creator of the universe and be judged against His standard. Now you may say, "Woah woah woah. Hold on a second. I'm not a bad guy, I'm probably WAY better than you." And to this I would say, you're right. You probably are far more 'good' than me. But God doesn't compare us against each other. He compares us against Himself.

Think about that for a moment: The measure of your righteousness is judged by an absolutely perfect standard. So you may say, "But God will forgive me, I've done lots of good deeds." You know what God says about your good deeds? He says that your righteousness is as filthy rags to him. The word rags in the Bible specifically refers to the olden-days equivalent of a Tampon. That is HARSH.

So now we reach the tough part. God will find you guilty of breaking His law; He must see justice served. There must be a fine paid for your transgressions. The Bible says that all liars will have their part in a lake of fire. No thief or blasphemer will enter the kingdom of heaven. Not going to heaven? Lake of fire? Yes, you heard me right. He will condemn you to hell because He is Just.

You may say, "Well my God is loving and forgiving, He would never send anyone to hell." And you're right, your god wouldn't ever send anyone to hell. He couldn't. He's a figment of your imagination. You've created a god to suit your sin, and broken the first and second commandments. Now you're just digging an even deeper hole for yourself.

However, you got one thing right. God is loving, and He doesn't want to send us to hell. But that raises a connundrum. God is Righteous and Just, so to just forgive you without recompense is impossible. He must see the fine paid for the crimes committed. That's where Jesus comes in.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, and will have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Jesus was raised up on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. God poured out His wrath upon His own Son so that He could save us from that very same wrath. Christ is a substitionary atonement for the sin we have committed, which leaves you with a choice:

Will you accept the gift that God freely offers you? Or will you turn your back and scoff? If the former, then I urge you to get on your knees before your creator and ask Him to reveal to you all the ways that you've sinned against Him. Confess your sins to Him and cry out to Him to save you. Turn away from your sin, and put your trust in Jesus Christ as your salvation. If the latter, then the words you read now will be burned into your retina for an eternity future as you tormentedly contemplate how foolish you were for believing in your own righteousness and rejecting the Son of God.

It's up to you.