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Category Archives: evangelism

Am I a Calvinist? You tell me.

First of all I need to take care of a hat tip (ht) to my buddy Seth at Contending Earnestly. This posting is being created 42-18021428out of my thoughts triggered by this fellow blogger’s posting and comments. The posting is about being labeled a Calvinist, and the label or term being used as a dirty word.

I really didn’t know what I was until I started reading books on theology.  Speaking of theology; The word is much like the word doctrine, and Calvinism.  Theology has also been reduced to a dirty word. At least a drastically minimized word in terms of evangelical importance.

Theology – the study of God. Come on, what’s more important?

I didn’t think theology was important until I ran into some blatantly bad theology. For years I had been indoctrinated in meeting peoples needs above doctrine. Now, I believe, if you don’t have sound biblical doctrine and theology, how can you truly meet the peoples ultimate need? Their need is to hear the true gospel of Jesus Christ. What do I mean by the true gospel? Funny I should ask, because it brings up the point of this post.

When I heard about the Five Points of Calvinism I will admit I had heard the term or label Calvinism and immediately thought “one of them”,  and “I heard they don’t believe we have a free will.” But after reading these five points I basically recognized and interpreted it as the gospel. The gospel spoken of in scripture. These five points are also known as TULIP. This is an acronym which is defined below.

T otal Depravity – We suck. (a verb meaning we are sinners and do not seek God) (Ref. Romans 6:20, Romans 3:10-12)

U nconditional Election – God does the choosing. No matter who you are and what you’ve done. (Ref. Eph. 1:4-8)

L imited Atonement – Christ died and His blood covers those who the Father chose. (Ref. Eph. 5:25-27)

I rresistable Grace – God’s elect hear the gospel and the Holy Spirit works in the hearts and minds of the those elect and they willing come to God. (Ref. Romans 9:16, Phil. 2:12-13)

P erseverance of the Saints – The elect of God cannot lose their salvation. For heaven’s sake the elect didn’t do anything to earn salvation. God did the choosing. They are eternally secure. (Ref. Romans 8:26-39)

I think that pretty much sums up the gospel as it is told in scripture.

So, am I a Calvinsit? If you prefer a label or a badge, I will gladly wear it. I have one on my sidebar as a matter of fact. It looks like this:

Calvinist Cadet

Calvinist Cadet

A few months ago I found an article from a blogger that did a real good job of describing why he was a Calvinist. I give a high hat tip to Kevin DeYoung and his article.

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Evangelism and the sovereignty of God (Part 2); Apologetics

This past week we looked at the various forms of apologetics. But first I’d like to just throw in something from the first week. In the first week we looked at the definition of apologetics and the goal of apologetics. The short definition is the defense and proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The goal for using apologetics in evangelism is to glorify God by formulating an approach to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ that is consistent with both biblical theology and biblical example. Now we can move to the various forms used in evangelism.

The “Classical” Method

A classical apologist uses a two step process by first using natural theology to establish the existence of God by observable data in the universe. Only after God’s existence is proven do they move on to presenting the case for Christianity, namely the person and work of Jesus Christ. All of this in an attempt to make Christianity the only viable religion. This method is called “classical” because it is assumed to be the style of apologetics of the early church fathers. The key assumptions for this style of apologetics is that man is capable of openly and honestly evaluating the claims of Christianity. The second assumption is that man’s heart is fully depraved, but his mind is fully functioning. The last assumption is that the proof of miracles are without equal in their defense of Christianity.

The “Evidential” Method

This method is much like that of the “classical” method in that it uses “proofs”to stimulates man’s ability to reason and search for religious knowledge. But unlike the “classical” method, “evidential” apologetics only needs one step to accomplish their goal. They will use historical “proofs” to prove Christianity, and the existence of God. A good example of the “evidential” method would be to begin the defense by arguing the historical factuality of Jesus Christ’s resurrection, thus proving that God exists as well as Christ’s authenticity. Key assumptions would be; the believer and the unbeliever can communicate effectively with each other, and the miracles of Jesus are compelling enough to provide the needed proof to reach the goal.

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Posted by on September 25, 2007 in apologetics, evangelism, God's sovereignty

 

Evangelism and the sovereignty of God (Part 1)

One of the most controversial aspects of Christianity is evangelism and the sovereignty of God. As believers we all know that we are commanded to “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…”. (Matthew 28: 19) But understanding the sovereignty of God quite often creates a percieved paradox. In reality the bible teaches that these two doctrines are not in opposition to each other but allies. The sovereignty of God (and mind you the bible) teaches that a man is elected by God for salvation. That a man is dead in his sins and is made alive to righteousness only by the work of God. Many evangelicals claim that teaching the sovereignty of God in salvation deters Christians from evangelizing. This is actually the opposite for those who follow the doctrines of God’s sovereignty. If you understand that God is the One who saves and we are called to be obedient servants in this endeavor, we are more free to evangelize and let God do the calling.

In order to defend this doctrine and understand how to effectively evangelize I am attending an IBS (Institute for Biblical Studies) course at my local church Omaha Bible Church. Along with the bible we will also be using a book by J. I. Packer called “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God“, go figure. The first session, which was last Wednesday, we focused on the introduction and the importance of evangelism for the believer. We were introduced to the reference materials we will be using and we went through the course syllabus.

This past Sunday I purchased “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God” in the church bookstore and used the time during our adult bible hour to read the first couple of chapters. Packer lays the foundation of God’s sovereignty by going over some common beliefs in Christianity through prayer that are attributed to the belief in a sovereign God. When we take the time to pray to God, how do we pray? Do we pray with the belief that God will act in his sovereignty? Do we ask God to save John and Suzi down the street or do we pray that John and Suzi will figure it out for themselves and in so doing save themselves? When we pray do we ask God for our daily bread? Do we thank Him for our salvation? Indeed we do. Because deep inside we know that God is the one who saves. God is the one who sustains our life. We know through scripture that these things are true. God gives us the very breath we breathe. If God is sovereign in these things would it not hold that He is also sovereign in the salvation of men and women?

Next posting we will get into the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man, an apparent contradiction. Rock on!

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2007 in evangelism, God's sovereignty, IBS, J. I. Packer

 

Bob, Cap, and Stan

I am posting this story about life evangelism because my fellow saint at Reformission In Progress posted something similar and it triggered me to recall something similar thatthree friends God actually allowed me to witness for over the course of my early life. This is what I witnessed and desire to write about today. After you read this story, please go read his edifying story.

The story involves my dad (Stan), and two mutual friends of his (Bob and Cap). Bob was a test pilot and colonel in the US Air Force and a very influencial person in the lives of his two other friends. Our families lived in the same small Ohio town and together visited a few of the upstart local churches in the area. As was the nature of Bob and Stan they wasted no time getting involved in ministries in those churches. After getting to know the pastor and learning about his direction they would often disagree with him and have to move on. Cap was an unbeliever at the time and mostly attended church out of love for his wife Dorthy. Cap had shared many bitter stories of attending other churches with his wife and having the pastor or deacon come around to their home the following few days to speak to him about salvation. He did not appreciate the emotional manipulation they would all try on him to get him to repent and acknowledge Christ as his savior. Most of the churches these three families visited were much like that.

Bob and Stan had many bible studies together and through these studies they had developed a desire to grow spiritually and find a church like the one described in the New Testament. But every church they visited down played the sovereignty of God and salvation only through His grace. Cap would attend these bible studies and had also become quite curious about this different God Bob and Stan were discussing and worshiping. This God who chose who He wanted to save. Not through the manipulation of men and the emotional arm twisting. Through Bob’s many connections he discovered a new church a few miles away in Columbus and the three families drove the 20 miles or so to visit this newly started church. The church was meeting in a home at the time and the pastor was not a full time pastor. He also worked full time as an engineer with Ford motor company. As a younger man this pastor had also worked with Albert Einstein’s team to develop what eventually became the atomic bomb. This must’ve been how Bob got connected to the church.

This pastor was not a graduate from any seminary school but he taught the bible as he interpreted it, basically as it was written. He knew enough about the Greek language to help interpretation in the more difficult texts but for the most part he was not what you would look for in a pastor in many churches today. He taught about the doctrines of grace, the sovereignty of God, election, and predestination. For most of these three families the spiritual light bulb flashed on that day. Eventually it would come on for all, even Cap.

Cap learned about a sovereign God who chose those who He would save through the blood of His Son. He learned about love through the lives of two other men who dared to look for the truthful teaching in a local church. He learned that only through the act of God opening his eyes and changing his heart could he ever have peace and restoration with a righteous God. He learned that he needed a savior and only God can save. I believe Cap has encountered such a God and was saved. Cap learned a lot from Bob and Stan, but most of all he learned about real love and real friendships. Friendships that are eternal.

My dad passed away a few years later. Bob and Cap were both pallbearers and I will never forget Cap looking at me on the day of the funeral and telling me not to worry or be anxious that God was still in control. I was just beginning what would later become my rebellious teenage years so it did not dawn on me the awesome story behind that proclamation until later in my life.

I thank God each and every day that He drew me once again to a church much like the one of my childhood. Although I am not perfect and still have a long way to go in my spiritual maturity I pray that God would use me much like he did with Bob, Stan, and Cap.

Thank you Cap.

Thank you Jacob.

 

A pivotal point in evangelism

Just recently I visited a blog site that listed some of the Asahel Nettletonmost recent messages they had listened to. One of those most recent messages was by one of the pastors (Erik Raymond) of my home church, Omaha Bible Church. The message was about Ashael Nettleton and was part of a series of messages called “Giants of the Faith” done by the pastors, elders and some lay leaders of our church. The audio can be heard here. I was curious because I don’t remember hearing that particular message so I listened to it.

Asahel Nettleton was indeed a giant among many of the faith. He lived at a time in history that had seen a great awakening in spiritual revival based on the truth of the scriptures. Nettleton was an evangelist who had great impact in the churches he was invited to speak in. Those churches encountered many conversions. In fact it has been reported that he was responsible for leading over 30,000 folks to Christ in a time when the population of the entire nation was only about 9 million. The uniqueness of those conversions was the large number who remained faithful to Christ. Asahel Nettleton never pastored a church or authored a book, and yet he was certainly been regarded as one of the most successful preachers in history. Nettleton held to the doctrines of grace and the sovereignty of God in all things.

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