What do you do when you come across another professing believer out sharing the gospel in public? As I look back in life at the amount of times I have ran into someone in public out sharing the gospel, I can sadly say that it hasn't been as often as I wish it would have been. In fact, if I am being honest, which as a Christian and just in general that should be a principle we all seek to live by, I can say it's really only been less than a handful of times in my life that someone gave me a gospel tract or shared the gospel with me in a conversation, or ran into someone on the streets evangelizing in the years before I became a Christian.
Thankfully, I can say that since I have become a Christian those numbers have gone up, although I would love to see evangelism happening much more often in my area and surrounding cities, it is still wonderful to know that there are more people who are stepping outside their comfort zones and handing out a tract, or getting into conversations with others and yes I have even seen more people on the streets, some just out holding up signs, others out preaching.
As one who engages in evangelism on a regular basis, I can attest that some of the most pushback I have received over the years is from other professing Christians. I've heard it all before, they say, "You're doing it wrong", or "You are only pushing people away from Jesus", or "This is why people don't like Christians, because you are shoving religion upon them". I could go on and on but I believe you get the point.
Before I move on, I do need to address the reality that there are people out there seeking to "evangelize" but they really shouldn't be out there, so let me address it here briefly.
Yes, some people who profess to be Christians are only so in profession, but not reality. There are some false preachers and individuals who are out in the public seeking to evangelize and promote heretical teachings in the process. Some Pelagians who deny Original Sin, some who deny the Trinity, some who believe in and teach Open Theism, and some who preach a works based salvation. These are all serious error and should be avoided and not proclaimed by professing Christians as biblical truth's, these types of people lead people astray into serious error and not into the truth.
Some are just plain mean and heartless in their efforts to "reach the lost" with name calling and harsh words to those they claim to want to see come to Jesus.
Lastly, there are those who are recent converts who haven't really been properly discipled and are out in the public sphere without any oversight or accountability for what they say and teach to others they are seeking to reach, while these individuals might have the right intentions and the heart motivation behind their desire to see people come to faith, we cannot disregard the need for accountability and being discipled under sound theology. Especially with new converts.
I don't want that to be a discouragement for new genuine believers who want to share the gospel, I want to encourage you to share the gospel but to also seek out those in the faith preferably in your local church those who can disciple you in theology and hold you accountable as you engage in the public square.
Which brings me to why I am writing this article as a way to encourage Christians to stop and talk to other professing Christians they may run into on the streets, at the grocery store or wherever you may run into someone who is either handing you a gospel tract, starting a conversation with you or out preaching on the streets.
Here is what I do! Knowing that there are those who as mentioned above are heretical and there are others who may be genuine brothers and sisters in the faith. I first start by always giving the benefit of the doubt, I seek to listen first to what they are saying. If I come across other men out preaching on the streets, I listen to what they are saying, if what I am hearing is biblical, I will try to stick around, if possible, and talk to them afterward and inquire more about their beliefs and what church they are members of. When they turn out to be legit, I leave with encouraging them to keep pressing on and let them know I will be praying for them in their efforts to evangelize they lost.
The same basically applies in any other area of evangelism, if someone hands me a tract, same thing, I seek to inquire more about what they believe and dependent upon the time I have to interact, I always want to leave them with encouraging words.
Now in those instances where the individuals turn out to be preaching, teaching and promoting heretical errors, I do try, time permitting, to engage in conversation with them graciously using the scripture to show my concerns, and that can go in a few directions depending on whether or not the other party is willing to engage. I never agree to disagree over biblical essentials but I still seek to be gracious in how I address them and respond.
Upon leaving individuals who fall in this category, in love I make it a point to let them know as I leave that I am praying for their repentance, that they would see the error of their teaching and come into a more biblical understanding of the truth.
But not every encounter is with heretics, sometimes it is with Christians whether they are a newer believer or someone who has been in the faith for some time and are just now getting more serious about evangelism, and so my desire is not to crush them when they might stumble over their attempt to share the gospel or if they don't happen to cross every t or dot every i.
Sharing the gospel can be scary, as someone who has been engaging in street evangelism out in many different public spaces from sporting events to college campuses and everywhere in between, even to this day I get nervous before going out. I don't know if that ever goes away, at least for me it has not happened yet. I also know that there have been times where I have had encounters of sharing the gospel and when I walked away thought to myself, I really presented that poorly or didn't have the best responses to the questions asked. So the first thing I want to do when engaging someone out sharing the gospel is be patient and gracious with them.
Let me share with you an example.
The neighbor county fair was wrapping up their fair week and since I had never been to their fair, we decided to go check it out. While we were there we walked by a lady who was sitting in a chair under a pop up tent and outside the tent was a dry erase board that had written on the board, Are you ready? Along with some bibles laying in front of the board and some single gospels of John.
So I decided to stop and ask her, ready for what? Now I knew it was in reference to a Christian message, I didn't know what church or if they were theological sound or not, so I wanted to inquire.
The lady began to share with me that it was referring to eternity, are you ready for eternity? What happens when we die? She explained that we are all sinners and only Jesus can save us, He is the only way to be saved and know for sure where we will spend eternity. She did a good job explaining, she stumbled a few times but again it can be nerve wrecking, she told us later she had been there for a while and had not talked to anyone yet, most people just walk by paying no mind, so considering that, along with knowing it can be nerve wrecking for some of us, I thought she did a wonderful job explaining why we needed Jesus.
After she explained the are you ready sign, she asked if we are believers but then answered for us, because my wife's shirt said blessed, so she said I guess you are because of what your shirt says.
As a side note, I never assume, I do give the benefit of the doubt but I always try to inquire more, never assume someone is a believer they might be or they might not be but never assume ask questions and in either case do your best to leave them with the gospel, which she did give us before she assumed we were.
I responded to her with, maybe.
I wanted to find out more about what she believed, so I asked her where in the bible did she find the things she was telling us. She said, I am so glad you asked, and took us to John chapter 3, we talked for a little while longer before departing. She told us she had been a Christian for 34 years, and that she just recently took a class to learn how to evangelize because she wanted to witness to her friend.
I told her before we left that I wanted to encourage her to keep sharing the gospel, and thanked her for sharing with us.
Who knows, she said we were the only ones she talked to that day, she also said we just missed the pastor, as he just left. Could we have been there just to give her an opportunity to share the gospel on her own for the first time that day to build her confidence in the Lord to get her through sharing the gospel with complete strangers, I'd like to think that is the case, I mean the Lord does ordain all things to come to pass.
If we did not stop, would she have sat there the rest of the evening and never had the chance to engage anyone else, who knows if anyone else would have stopped, who knows if anyone else stopped after we left, I hope others stopped after we left and I hope our stopping built her confidence to be a witness.
I share all that because I want to encourage you Christian. When you see Christians out at a County Fair, a local festival or just out and about, stop, talk and encourage them.
Grace and Peace
where it all began....
The earliest I can remember my parents taking us to church was when I was around 5 years old, because I remember being in cubbies, an AWANA program for ages 3-5 (if my memory serves me right). The church was Fellowship Baptist Church in Lorain, Ohio, and not far from our home. I do not remember who the pastor was when we first started attending this independent fundamental Baptist church, but the only pastor I remember in my youth was pastor Frank Chittock, he may have been the pastor when we first started attending but at that age I really couldn't tell you for sure.
I grew up in Fellowship Baptist church, my parents would take us each Sunday and also on Wednesday evenings as well. I remember also there were times in which we attended a Sunday evening service but I don't recall our family attending those services as regularly as morning and midweek services.
My father was not as faithful in his attendance as my mother was growing up, in fact my mother was really good at getting us to church each week, I remember her also spending a lot of her time serving at the church in the nursery and with children ministries. Sadly, my mother is an unbeliever, even though she was faithful in her attendance, she was far from Christ. My father to this day is also an unbeliever, I pray for them often and with much sorrow as the day draws nearer and nearer to eternity, I pray the Lord would save their souls.
Despite the fact that to this day they are unbelievers, at the time I was ignorant and unaware of what it really meant to be a Christian. What is a Christian? Well in my childhood and teens years, which also even carried in to my young adult life, I believed it was simply someone who believed in Jesus Christ (his death, burial and resurrection) and went to church. You might say... wait a minute isn't that a Christian? Well, yes and no.
Not that I want to confuse you, the gospel is simply by the grace of God through faith in Christ (His death, burial and resurrection). You may ask, then why say yes and no? The reason I say yes and no, is because while the gospel is a glorious message that Christ died to save sinners, a person can believe in their mind, yes sure I believe Jesus died for me but never having truly experience new birth in Jesus Christ. The bible says a man must be born again. My parents would have confessed that they believed in Jesus and even to this day they will profess they believe in Jesus, but the heartbreaking reality is they have never experienced new birth. When regeneration takes place in an individual God removes the heart of stone and gives them a heart of flesh, their desires change, the Spirit of God indwells them, the faith that they have is alive, and not a dead faith. A man can claim to have faith and to some degree or another everyone expresses the reality that we all have faith in something or someone. It is the object of ones faith that matters. So you can claim to have faith in Christ but in reality the Christ you claim to know is not God the Son. As Jesus said of the Pharisees and scribes in Matthew 15 verse 8 "These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men."
For more evidence of what I am referring to I want to point you to the parable of the sower in Matthew 13.
In verses 1-9 Jesus says, That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Christ explains the meaning of this parable to His disciples in verses 18-23, “Hear then the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
Christ explains that while some hear the gospel (seed) only the good soil produces fruit, the others are simply unbelievers, two of which appeared to be believers for a time but proven otherwise when the faith they claimed to have in Christ is challenged.
Christ goes on to explain in verse 24-30 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”
Jesus explains this parable as well in verse 36-43, and while this parable is referring to the fact that in the world you will have the righteous living along side the unrighteous and this can also be applied within the local church, where you will have individuals who profess to know Christ and may display a sense of moral character but in reality be a false convert, one who is unrighteous along side the righteous (only those who are born again in Christ Jesus). The reality is that when the harvest comes the unrighteous will be gathered out of His kingdom and cast into the fiery furnace.
And this was the place in which I found myself, in the same state my parents where in, although again not realizing it at the time. I had asked Jesus into my heart more than once during youth in church and one time I can distinctly remember while at a youth camp. So when I got into my teenage years and was able to drive and get a job, I stopped attending. To be honest I don't really remember whether or not at that point my mother continued to go and take my siblings or not but as for me, I know I had stopped attending church. Not because I hated it or rejected the teachings but because I was at an age where I had more say in my life and it became filled with occupying my time with other things.
I ended up dating a girl and getting her pregnant around the age of 20, joined the army and got married, still believing myself to be a Christian but having never experienced new birth. After some years I ended up getting divorced and went over seas, still in the army I returned home to a new duty station in the states and got married for the second time, still not a believer even though I still would have said I was if you asked me.
It was during my second marriage, after I had come home from the serving in the Army, I had spent my last year deployed to Iraq, after we came home my time was up and I left the Army. I went a few times to church in the area because they had men's basketball every Sunday evening at the church, but to play you had to attend the church at least once a month, so I wasn't very consisted but wanted to play basketball, they also had a youth basketball program that I enrolled my only daughter (at the time) in. But that fizzled out and nothing in my heart every changed, but again, if you would have asked me, I would have said of course I am a Christian.
Time went on and I had a good paying job and bought my first home, things seemed to be going great. Yet, something was just not right, I began to have no peace in my life, I wasn't going to church anywhere, wasn't listening to any preachers, had not had any conversations with anyone at that point in my life that I could recall, but I had no peace. So much so that one night I couldn't sleep, nothing I could do to find rest, I ended up on the floor at 3 o'clock in the morning weeping and praying to God, and it was at that point that I began recognizing that I had sinned against God, and I cried out to God to save me. And He did!!!
From that point in my life things changed, I told my wife at the time, that we were going to go to church that weekend, I had no idea where to go, I had know idea about theology, I knew Christ died for me and I knew all the things I was taught as a young child and into my teenage years, so the only place I could know for certain that we could go was Fellowship Baptist church, where I grew up.
Many of the people that where there from when I was a child were still there and they welcomed us with love and I don't know why but I felt like I was home, like I was where I needed to be. And it wasn't long before I went forward to become a member of the church.
Even my wife at the time made a profession of faith, and became a member of the church. I began to serve there over the next five years or so, as an usher, a bus driver, the treasurer, teaching the children in our bible clubs and before I left teaching the teenagers. I was happy to be there and willing to serve. And I loved those saints dearly, my pastor at the time was pastor Jack Ison, and to this day I credit him with so much, he always had time for me, I think it sort of spoiled me in a sense because many times when I was off work I would just stop in at the church and he would invite me in to his office and we would talk for hours. I love him dearly and was sad to see him leave, he retired at the age of 70.
Now let me back up a bit, during my time there it was almost immediately as a new believer that I began to evangelize everyone around me, mainly my family got the most of it. Realizing that I had grown up my whole life believing to be a Christian and now having experienced being born again, my eyes were open. I knew I was a false convert and so was my family, who at this point wasn't attending church, or if they did it was hit and miss. I began to share the gospel with them so much and attempt to point out to them that they were false converts, sadly, I learned later that I had a lot of zeal without knowledge and while I was telling them the truth, and the reality is the gospel offends and truth hurts, there were many times where I was the offense, in my zeal for them to know the truth I acted at times like a jerk!
I desperately wanted them to know Christ and the joy and peace that was found in Him that I shared the truth without love. If this is you today, learn from my mistake!
Also during that time shortly after becoming a new believer in Christ, naturally my desires changed, I wanted to listen to things which were uplifting, and so I started listening to music on the family friendly radio station, not a fan today and very rarely if ever turn it on that station today, but back then I was listening to it for months, but I wanted to learn more and since my mp3 player could get the radio, I started listening to Moody Radio.
Everyday I would go to work, put and ear piece in and listen to the preachers on Moody, Chip Ingram back then was my favorite, so much so that I began to buy his sermon series every couple of days just to listen to them, I spent lots of money of those sermon series over the course of a year but I wanted to learn and I just kept consuming more and more, as well as finding other messages from others on One Place that were free downloads but were short radio versions of the preachers sermons that I would listen to.
One night while coming home from Wednesday night prayer meeting and Bible Clubs, I heard John MacArthur on the radio. That changed everything, haha! I had never heard anyone of the other preachers I had heard preach, preach with that kind of authority and it drew me in.
Also it was a plus, when I found out he had a website that allowed you to download all his sermon series from his entire ministry and the best part for me was they were all free.
I also picked up my first iPod and learned you could listen to things on double speed a bit later which allowed me to listen to just about if not all of the sermon series that was on GTY.
This was the beginning of me becoming Reformed. I have since heard many others credit MacArthur for them coming into Reformed Theology even though MacArthur isn't Reformed. He holds to a Calvinistic view of soteriology but a Dispensational view in his Theology.
Regardless, I had been listening day in and day out to sermons everyday for years, carrying mail, gave me six to seven hours a day of walking and that meant six to seven hours a day of sermons and like I said when I learned about the double speed on the iPod, I haven't turned it off since, unless of course my wife now (who is my third wife, more on that to come in part two) is with me because she has a hard time with it, so for her I slow it down if I am in the car listening and she is with me, but for me, well I couldn't get enough.
Not only was I able to take in so many sermons a day, but I also was able to listen to the Bible, I purchased a KJV audio bible at first and an ESV audio bible later and have been able to listen through the entire bible two or three times a year. Another great resource I came across during this time was the RTS courses online, where I was able to download and listen to Seminary courses from Reformed Theological Seminary for free. I wasn't going to get a degree from it but I sure was able to gain much knowledge from all the teaching that was available.
Going back to when my pastor retired....
Because my theology was changing over the last few years I was at Fellowship Baptist Church, and my pastor had retired, we without a pastor. I came to a point where I desired to find a local church that was more Reformed in theology, but I didn't want to leave my church while they were without a pastor. I served in many areas at the church and loved my brothers and sisters there dearly. After a year or so (I believe), a man who was looking to do a church plant in Lorain came to fill our pulpit a few times and the Baptist Church planters who we were affiliated with knew we needed a pastor the two became one.
Pastor Orlando Collazo became the new pastor of Fellowship Baptist church. He had been there just a short time and one day when I was in the office printing out worksheets for the teen class I was teaching, he walked by and we were talking and he said, I am looking forward to getting to serve with you brother, and I guess it was the look on my face but he recognized it and ask, and I told him that I had come to Reformed theology a while back and was planning on leaving to find a Reformed church after we was able to get another pastor in, we talked about it for a little while, I also still had the rest of the classes I was teaching for the teens and wasn't going to up and leave, I wanted there to be a little transitioning time for the new pastor coming in.
I did end up leaving and parting ways with the saints at Fellowship Baptist church on good terms and at times would return to visit. Even to this day I am appreciative of the saints I have served alongside, those who played a huge role in teaching me when I was a child, even though I wasn't saved until the age of thirty-two, I truly believe God used those people in my life to plant those seeds that one day He would bring fruit from.
From the time I spent with Mr. Hammond who loved visitations and telling people about Christ. Along with Bills wife Irene who was such a joy to talk to and blessing as well. Loved hearing her stories of coming here from Germany.
The faithfulness of Elaine who always had a smile and taught the adult Sunday school class (of course today I would be against a woman teaching men) but she was such a joy.
And Ms. Nancy who loved the Lord and dedicated her life to serve the Lord more than anyone I know, even to this day, her love for children and desire to see them come to know the Lord, my respect for her grown tremendously the more I got to know her as an adult and work alongside her and the many others during the Bible Clubs for the children.
The Williams family, the Satterfield's, and many more dear saints.
Those were good times, joyful memories with faithful servants.
Our world has changed almost overnight, more like over the span of a couple weeks. The fear and anxiety experienced by many people are real. The NBA cancelled all games and many other sports organization have done the same, Governers has put in place social gathering orders that continue to get smaller in number until there were finally put in practice stay at home orders. And if you must go out we are told to practice social distancing. Restaurants, bowling alleys, movie theatres and amusement parks shut down.
Human coronaviruses are not new, in fact, according to the CDC they have been identified to be with us since the mid-1960s. Today there are seven coronaviruses that can infect people, that we know of, as reported by the CDC.
Common human coronaviruses such as 229E (alpha coronavirus), NL63 (alpha coronavirus), OC43 (beta coronavirus), and HKU1 (beta coronavirus). These are considered common and people from around the world get infected with these. However, the ones that have brought the most concern are the next three.
MERS-CoV named after the coronavirus that causes Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, SARS-CoV this is a coronavirus that causes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, and now this new strain of the virus SARS-CoV-2 which we have seen infect people in China in 2019 and now around the world named COVID-19.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent COVID-19, so the best way to prevent the illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus, which can be difficult when someone could have it and not yet show any signs of having it.
The CDC recommends social distancing of six feet if you must be out in public, washing your hands as often as you can with soap and use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. If you are still working and feel sick stay home from your work to protect your co-workers. These are ways in which can help to keep you safe from the virus.
Practicing good hygiene may help prevent you from getting the virus or any virus for that matter. But the reality is even if we make it through this pandemic without getting sick, there is still coming a day in which we will take our final breath and stand before the King of kings and Lord of lords.
For those of you who may be reading this who have not come to genuine repentance and faith in Christ Jesus, I now want to take this time to plead with you to do so. Christ is God in the flesh the creator of the universe, who created man and everything in His creation good. In the garden, He commanded Adam not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or he will surely die.
Adam disobeyed God and ate from the tree and sin and death came into the world, this is why we have sickness in the world, it is a result of the curse of sin, which affects us all, we are all born sinners due to Adam our federal head, who represents all of mankind. But GOD! Who is rich in mercy and grace provided a way in which man can be redeemed from the curse of sin which came as a result of the disobedience of Adam. God sent His only begotten Son into the world, to become a man, God in the flesh, who came to die on the cross to pay the penalty and redeem a people from that curse of sin.
If you have not received the free gift of grace offered by God through faith in His Son Jesus Christ do not wait any longer, don't put off until tomorrow something so important as your destination for eternity.
Adam is the federal head for all mankind, but for those who come to Christ, who died on the cross, was buried and rose again the third day, He becomes their federal head, His righteousness is imputed to them and our sins are placed upon Christ. He steps in as our penal substitutionary atonement, taking upon Himself the punishment we deserve and those who by faith have received Christ have been set free.
Now let me speak to the Christians, those who may have just placed your faith in Christ and those who have been Christians for a while.
Should we be careless because we believe in Christ? Let me first respond to those who act carelessly in this time, STOP IT! God calls us to be wise, even if you don't believe the threat is as dangerous as the media portrays it. don't be careless. Consider your witness before the world. While we should not live in fear, we can still be wise and practice good hygiene and social distancing to make others feel more comfortable and secure, even if you think you are immune.
But speaking of being immune please don't think like the many false teachers who believe that they have enough faith that they could never possibly get COVID-19. In fact, this virus is exposing many of these health, wealth and prosperity, faith healer preachers. Where are they in all this? Guys like Benny Hinn, Todd White and others who go around having these crusades to heal the sick, usually a fee is involved to get into them, but where are they? Why are they not going in to heal the sick with COVID-19? Truth is and I pray it does continue to expose these false teachers for the charlatans they are.
This is a difficult time in which we live but also remember throughout the ages many Christians have experienced even greater difficulties than we are faces today with COVID-19. There have been plagues and world wars in which Christians in the past have experienced, not to mention the severe persecution throughout church history even up to today in many parts of the world. We must not lose hope in this time but find our peace, comfort and rest in Christ.
Many churches have canceled their services and moved them online to adhere to their state mandates to avoid gatherings during this time, while there are still some churches that continue to meet together. This has even become a source of division among professing believers on social media platforms disagreeing about it. Some claiming the government is using this as a way to silence the churches and close them down, while I believe one day it may come to that, I don't personally believe we are at that point at this time in our lives, seeing as how many businesses and organizations are losing millions that flow into the economies of these states that are mandating these stay at home orders or banning the gatherings of more than 10 people.
Some also claim that those who meet online instead of coming together are those who lack faith and on the other side those who are saying those who meet together are putting their people at risk of getting sick.
Christian, be gracious with your elders as they make the decisions they've felt were best for their congregations. Pray for them, love them, and support them! They have been given a high calling, one that the faithful shepherds do not take lightly, let them shepherd you as they seek to navigate through this time knowing that you and the others are being cared for in whatever decisions they have made in gathering or not gathering today.
Recently a pastor friend of mine posted this from Richard Baxter, Practical Works, Volume 1, 694
Q. May we omit church-assemblies on the Lord's day, if the magistrate forbids them?
Answer 1. It is one thing to forbid them for a time, upon some special cause (as infection by pestilence, fire, war, etc.), and another to forbid them statedly or profanely.
Answer 2. It is one thing to omit them for a time, and another to do it ordinarily.
Answer 3. The assembly and the circumstances of the assembly must be distinguished.
(1) If the magistrate for a greater good (as the common safety), forbid church assemblies in a time of pestilence, assault of enemies, or fire, or the like necessity, it is a duty to obey him.
(2) If princes profanely forbid holy assemblies and public worship, either statedly or as a renunciation of Christ and our religion; it is not lawful formally to obey them.
(3) But it is lawful prudently to do that secretly for the present necessity, which we cannot do publicly, and to do that with smaller numbers, which we cannot do with greater assemblies, yea, and to omit some assemblies for a time, that we may thereby have an opportunity for more: which is not formal but only material obedience.
I would hope that these questions and answers are helpful to you as you think through the many important decisions that will need to be made during this time of the pandemic.
Many unbelievers are fearful of getting sick and dying or losing a loved one to this virus. While others believe it is all just a conspiracy theory being blown out of proportion by the media. Regardless of where these unbelievers find themselves in this pandemic, one thing remains. The need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Despite the fact that we may not be able to meet together for corporate worship on the Lord's day or gather together for corporate prayer. We can still be a witness for Christ in our lives, at the workplace, grocery stores and online. Use this time to proclaim the gospel to the lost when you are able to. Utilize the time to study God's word deeper and grow in your understanding of theology. Read some books you have been putting off or just haven't been able to get around to yet. Spend more time in family worship, sing songs together, read the word together, pray together, and teach your children from the word of God.
These are good things and blessings that can come from this COVID-19 pandemic, and even if it ends tomorrow, don't let it end the way you are forced to use your time by redeem the time and use it to glorify the Lord.
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
We're Back!! Have you missed us? I know I sure did! This has been a strange time for G220 Ministries, at the start of every year, I sit down and begin to plan out all of our major evangelism outreaches for the upcoming year. It is always an exciting time for me, thinking on how God provided or moved throughout the previous year during our evangelism outreaches and can't wait to see what the Lord will do in the new year.
I have decided not to really get into the details of why I made the decision to shut down G220 Ministries, but I do want to share with you why I have made the decision to bring it back.
One of the positive things about G220 Ministries is the fact that we were bringing Christians together to evangelize the lost in many different venues. While doctrine is extremely important to us, so important in fact, we have a application for those who have never been out with us before to screen them and their theology, by doing this we have seen the ministry of G220 able to bring together brothers and sisters from many different churches for the sole purpose of reaching souls for Christ.
We believe strongly in the local church and believe every Christian should be a member in good standing of a local church, especially if they desire to join us for one of our evangelism outreaches.
Our goal, however, is not to invite the lost to church, but rather, call them to repentance and faith in Christ for their eternal salvation. That being said, please understand that doesn't mean we do not desire or seek to disciple those who come to faith, we do, and we believe that this is done privately and publicly in the local church. Therefore, while we don't invite the unbelievers to church as our evangelism method, we give them the gospel and should they desire to come to church we encourage them to join one of the local churches of those who are represented at our evangelism outreach.
Now that we are back we can continue to promote and organize good outreaches where saints can come together for the sake of seeing dead men come to life in Christ.
Also having the website allows us the opportunity to continue to use it as a place for those we encounter on the streets to find us easily and as a means to help disciple, teach and encourage others in their evangelism efforts.
So now that we are getting back into utilizing G220 Ministries as a platform for ministry, let me encourage you to follow us on our new Facebook page, so you can stay up to date on any local evangelism outreaches that you may want to join us in.
Though our sins are many, His Mercy is More
On Saturday, June 1, G220 was joined by Equip Ohio for outreach at the Cleveland Pride Festival at Public Square in downtown Cleveland. I have been to Public Square many times for evangelism with my friend and mentor, Ricky Gantz, but this was by far the rowdiest bunch of individuals we preached to there. With that said, I’d like to structure my review of the event around three topics: why we were there, the general rowdiness of the crowd, and some encouraging aspects of the day.
Why We Were There
One of the questions that kept popping up is, “Why are you here?” Many accused us of
specifically coming to target homosexuals there “they weren’t hurting anybody.” Others claimed we just came out to rain on their parade pairing that with the notion that the only time we preach is when we want to harass the homosexuals.
The Bible demands that those changed and redeemed by God act as agents for seeing that the Gospel goes forth to the ends of the earth in Matthew 28:18-20. Jesus tells us that those who do not put their hope and trust in Him are already condemned in John 3:18. Those that are condemned will be judged by Christ on That Day according to Acts 17:31. Finally, those that are condemned will be tormented eternally in the fire prepared for the Devil and his angels in the presence of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 25:41, Revelation 14:10-11. The biblical command to love our neighbors as ourselves demands that we do all that we can to prevent this fate from befalling our neighbors. The Bible promises that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved, but Paul asks in Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?”
Since our neighbors must hear the Good News, our beautiful feet go wherever crowds of unbelievers are found that we might preach to them. One gentleman told me while I was preaching that I needed to “meet people where they are at,” to which I responded, “You’re here, so I am meeting you where you are at.” This year I have also been to New York, Louisville, Canton, Akron, and Cleveland to preach Good News. Many faithful street preachers are diligent in their own localities. Therefore, the claim that we only come to preach when there are homosexuals gathered must be seen as patently false.
Many times, our approach to spreading the Gospel is questioned, not only by the unbeliever but by those who name the name of Christ. However, there is strong biblical precedent for the work we do, Proverbs 1:20 says that Wisdom raises her voice in the noisy streets and at the city gates. All of the Old Testament prophets had a robust open-air ministry. The apostle Paul reasoned with and preached in the open air to those in the Agora and the Areopagus in Athens according to Acts 17:17-19. Even Jesus was an open-air preacher, read Matthew 5-7, Luke 6:17-49.
Each of these had false teachers who opposed them and who were upset that the status quo was being threatened. So too with us. There were many in the crowd heckling us claiming that Jesus loves homosexuals just the way they are. These though, are labeled by the prophet Jeremiah as those who heal the wound lightly and cry, “Peace, peace,” when there is no peace, in Jeremiah 6:14. We instead are there to preach the only hope for true peace with God, a message many poor souls would not hear if we weren’t.
The Cleveland Pride event was one of the rowdiest crowds to whom I have preached. I have preached in places with a higher volume of people, but the crowd here was by far the most hostile. Sexuality, in particular queer sexuality, is one of the greatest idols of our day. Preaching before this crowd left me with a flavor of the hostile crowd faced by the Apostle Paul in Acts 19. In that part of Paul’s story, the crowd in its uproar chanted, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” The crowd at the Cleveland Pride event similarly chanted in unison the praise of their god. “Love is love!” was a chant they were prone to burst forth into in unison attempting to shout down those who were preaching.
Although “love is love,” is a true statement on its face according to the logical law of identity, it doesn’t tell us much of anything because of the circuitous nature of the phrase. Love is indeed love, but the term must be defined for us to have any meaningful understanding of what love actually is. Since God is love, we must understand that His word is the standard for determining what love is and what is loving. For example, 1 Corinthians 13:6 says that love doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness but delights in the truth. Therefore, those who trumpet and praise homosexual pride are not actually being loving, since praising unrighteousness violates God’s standard of love.
It was very difficult to convey a logical argument like this to the crowds because sin by its very nature is illogical, and when we sinners gather together for a common wicked purpose we lose all capacity for rational thought. There were a few times when the crowds pressed in on us to the point of us being overwhelmed. There was a squadron of bicycle policemen gathered nearby and they used their bikes to form an ad hoc barricade between us and the mob to whom we were preaching. It was a such an encouragement to see Romans 13 in action. The governing authorities, the policemen, were God’s deacons to protect us as we preached, from those who would otherwise be prone to do us harm. It was neat to get a momentary glimpse of biblical governance.
There is always opposition when we do evangelism and especially when we preach. The Gospel is an extremely controversial and offensive message, whether you preach in a pulpit, in the public square, or finally get around to telling someone they are ruined and need to repent from their sins and trust in Christ after ten years of hot dog cookouts.
It does help to know that their controversy is not with the messenger but with the message and the One who sent it. There is encouragement from other believers who happen upon the scene and hear the proclamation of the Gospel. I experienced some major encouragement from a Christian woman who had come over to hear the preaching as I finished the first sermon of the day. As I concluded preaching and began to descend our makeshift pulpit, she called out, “Don’t stop! Keep going! That’s why we came over here!” So, although I had just finished preaching through 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, I re-ascended the stool and preached on Ephesians 2:1-10. It is so encouraging to know that God used the feeble preaching of one such as myself to benefit others. I was also encouraged by a fruitful conversation I had with a man after another time I had been preaching. I had noticed him thoughtfully paying attention as I preached and interacted with the crowd, though I didn’t immediately approach him after I was done. One of our sisters and co-laborers called me over a little later and I was able to talk with him more about the Gospel. His trouble was that he didn’t fit in with the so-called LGBT community because of their obvious lack of scruples but he also had trouble fitting in with the Christian community because of the nature of his sinful desires. I was able to explain to him that as we come to repentance and faith in Christ, God will give us a whole new set of desires to love and honor Him. Yet, I was also clear that there is a necessary mortification of sin and sometimes God doesn’t remove all temptation to past sin at once. I explained some of my own struggles and how I often must put to death the deeds of the body by relying on the Holy Spirit. I encouraged him and prayed for him, putting my arm around him as I did. He said it had been a very long time since someone had done that. There are a great many sins that the church is too afraid to speak frankly about, that we churchmen are neither good at confronting nor good at showing empathy as someone falls prey too temptation. Not only homosexual temptation, but drug use, pornography use, abortion, and sexual immorality of all types, just to name a few. Perhaps we even lack the same ability in “smaller” sins such as slander, gossip, gluttony, greed, frivolity, and malice. The body is one of the means God uses in His sanctification of individual believers and evangelism of the unbeliever. So, though we must confront sin, and we must, we must do so with the proper demeanor so as not to further mar the image of God in another. We must encourage one another every day, as long as it’s still called today, so that our hearts aren’t hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
All in all, it was a very fruitful day. There were more encouraging conversations that each of us had than I have space to reproduce here. Every single person we encountered was led to Christ, it is now up to God to give the increase and bring repentance, faith, and all other saving graces. God uses preaching. God uses faithful men and women. Sometimes it’s just a matter of being where you are supposed to be and doing what you are supposed to be doing.
One of those ways in which they seek to discredit God's Word is by claiming that the Bible is full of contradictions. One such foolish contradiction is that of the two creation accounts. The claim is that we have two different creation accounts between Genesis chapter one and Genesis chapter two. Genesis seems to be the most attacked book of the Bible, at least since Darwin and his theory of evolution, many claim that science disproves God's word and that instead of being created in the image of God, we are left with being pond scum that evolved over billions of years. Instead of life having value and meaning because God has created us with value and meaning, we are left with having no purpose but only coming into being by some random chance with no sense of value. And who is to say that since the claim is that we evolved from a common ancestor that we do not evolve back into that common ancestor or become like planet of the apes.
So the argument is that we have two creation accounts, and atheists use this argument to say that the scripture is contradicting itself. Any one who does any true research on this would see just how ridiculous this argument is and probably not waste anytime on dealing with it. However, I thought it might be helpful to some who are new believers and possibly even those professing atheists (again no such thing as an atheist) who would want to actually examine the claims made and not make the same foolish claims in their arguments.
Is there two creation accounts? The answer is... NO! Genesis chapter one gives a broad outline of the events of creation which begins on day one through day 6 with the creation of man in the image of God being the climax. Chapter two begins with the seventh day in which God rests. Some atheists make the claim that because God rests here on the seventh day and then in verse 4 we see the creation of man that there is an eighth day creation in which God creates Adam and Eve. This is really just another ridiculous attempt to discredit the Bible and shows a lack of understanding in their own arguments on the topic at hand. Chapter division in the Bible were developed by Archbishop Stephen Langton of Canterbury around A.D. 1227 and the first Bible to use them was the Wycliffe English Bible of 1382. In A.D. 1448 The Hebrew Old Testament was divided into verses by a Jewish Rabbi named Nathan. Stephanus used Nathan's verse divisions of the Old Testament and was the first to divide the New Testament verses in A.D. 1555.
This is where we have a first problem when you attempt to read it as if there was these divides and it somehow starts a new account or a contradiction. Now knowing this we can look at the end of Genesis chapter one and see here in the beginning of chapter two that after this broad outline of His six day creation on the seventh day He rested. Now beginning in verse four of chapter two, we see the writer Moses, going into a more focused view of God's creation with the emphasis on His creation of man and the garden in which God placed man along with the creation of Eve the first woman ever created out of the rib of Adam. So this is a more detailed account of God's creation of man in His image.
So as you can see and I hope you see clearly here that this is not a contradiction but rather flows perfectly as only God The Holy Spirit can do as He moved in inspiration on Moses to pen this account of God's creation.
Now let me move in a little closer on some of these verses that atheists use in their attempts to support their erroneous view that we find two different creation accounts.
As taken from the Skeptics Annotated Bible online making this claim that the Bible contradicts. They state this... "In the first creation story, humans are created after the other animals." citing Genesis 1:25-27
25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
They compare this passage of scripture with Genesis 2:18-19 and state this... "In the second story, humans were created before the other animals."
Lets look at Genesis 2:18-19 and see if this is a contradiction.
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
What they would like you to believe is that leading up to verse nineteen we see the creation of Adam and then we see another creation of the land animals. Honestly, this should be obvious to the reader, especially if you understand that chapter one was a broad outline and chapter two is coming in and putting the emphasis on man. Verse nineteen is not saying that God created the animals here but reminding you of His creation of the animals which were created before man which was laid out in chapter one. Remember the emphasis being on Adam here in chapter two, if you continue to read verse twenty, Adam names the animals that God brings to him and in naming these animals in which God brings to Adam it is made clear to the reader that there was not found a helper that was fit for Adam. So the Lord causes Adam to sleep and God takes one of his ribs and creates woman. And Adam declares in verse twenty three.... "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Now you would think that should cover it completely but there is one more aspect of this story that is connected and ties together with what has already been said, I feel I am repeating myself but for the sake of being thorough I will continue just a little further.
The also make this claim on the skeptics bible under contradictions... "In the first creation story, the first man and woman were created simultaneously." citing Genesis 1:25-27 then state... "In the second account, the man was created first, then the animals, then the woman from the man's rib." citing Genesis 2:18-22.
Again what we have here is the broad outline of chapter one into the more focused emphasis on the creation of man in chapter two. Not two different creation accounts, not contradictions between the two chapters but a perfect cohesive account of God's creation.
My prayer for you atheist or those who claim to be a Christian but seek to dismiss God's word by making claims such as this one, is that you would repent and believe in Jesus Christ. He is God in the flesh, the creator of all things, the very one you are arguing against when you attack His creation account. He is Lord and deserving of all glory, honor and worship. Bow the knee to Him today, repent and believe in Christ, who changes the heart of stone and gives you a heart of flesh, changing your desires, that natural desire to rebel against Him because we are born sinners because of Adam's sin, which if you continue to read in chapter three of Genesis, has been passed on to us which is why we need Christ to save us.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge and fools despise wisdom, don't be a fool in your self professed atheism, turn to Christ who is the wisdom of God.
by Ricky Gantz
For seven years I have been attending the Kentucky Derby Evangelism Outreach with Sports Fan Outreach International ( see sfoi.org/ ). It was at this event, with this ministry in 2013 that I preached the gospel in the open air for the very first time. Up until that point I had been a Christian and regularly sharing the gospel since 2008. So evangelizing wasn't new to me but proclaiming the gospel in the open air was a desire that I could not shake for almost a year before that first trip with SFOI to the Kentucky Derby.
I remember that first time when I was asked to get up and preach at the derby, the fear that came over me, I was nervous, terrified in fact and yet I knew that this desire to preach had been there for a long while leading up to this very moment and I knew that I need to take this first step out in faith and not let this fear keep me from proclaiming the truth, I was prayed for by members on my team and I was in constant prayer in my mind with the Lord to help me overcome this fear and give me the courage to preach.
Here is the very first time I ever opened air preached at the Kentucky Derby.
What seemed like forever while I was speaking to the crowd was actually only seven minutes.
Going back home from the Derby Outreach that first year I was so excited and couldn't wait to get on the streets in my local area and proclaim the gospel. Although, I couldn't find many others who were willing to go out with me and so I continued handing out tracts and engaging in one on ones.
After a phone conversation with Bill Adams ( Head of SFOI ) who gave me some encouragement and wisdom in how to go about preaching in the open air when I didn't have anyone else willing to go out with me.
It is wise to go out with others on the streets, going alone can be dangerous, which is why you must exercise wisdom if you desire to preach but have no one that is willing to join you. For example, don't go in a bad part of town by yourself to preach the gospel. A college campus, an open public area ( like a sporting event ) with lots of people passing by would be a better option. It's wiser to have someone with you but that might not always be an option, therefore, planning and being wise about where you go is necessary for your own safety.
It would be a few years before I began to see others out preaching the gospel that I was able to connect with and build friendships and partner with out local events. Every year I would encourage them to join me at the derby, knowing the impact it had on me and has help me grow over the years by learning from all the brothers who attend that can impart their knowledge and wisdom onto others has been a valuable part of my growth over the years in theology ( from the discussions among the brothers ), and ways to improve as an open air preacher.
Finally, after attempting to encourage the other local guys to attend, Adam Wright ( of Made For This Ministries ) joined me and has just returned from his fourth year at the Kentucky Derby Outreach.
I share all that to give you an idea of what it is like the first time you attend the derby and preach in the open air for the first time. There can be a tendency to leave the outreach on a spiritual high, longing to be around the brothers and preach with many others who are like minded but that is not always the case when you return home. Even so be faithful, continue to press on.
I caution you that while it is a great feeling and experience to be around so many like minded brothers who have a passion and desire to preach in the open air as you do, when going back home you might not experience the same atmosphere with brothers in your community or in your local church. Don't become disheartened but love on them and be gracious and kind. Should the Lord will, He will bring others along with you.
Here is Adam preaching to the crowd, this brother has been a huge encouragement to me and a good friend over the years and together this has been our favorite outreach away from home to attend. From the fellowship we have driving down to Kentucky, staying at the camp grounds and the drive back home. Adam is a great brother in the Lord and I am truly thankful to have him with me over the last four years going down to Kentucky.
This year Adam and I had two brothers from our area join us for the first time. They contacted me in July 2018 looking to do evangelism. Nathaniel and Seth Porter began joining me at evangelism outreaches I had planned throughout the months of summer, into fall and winter. I told them about the Kentucky Derby and SFOI and they were on board wanting to join us. We were blessed to see these two brothers come out and experience the derby outreach for the first time. Here below is a picture of the two brothers sharing the gospel on our first day out at Churchill Downs for the Oaks.
We often say, it is not the derby if it doesn't rain, well it rained! Day one it rained early and the rest of the day was nice. But day two the day of the derby race it rained on and off throughout the day. If you ever been a part of an SFOI event, then you are aware that the weather doesn't stop the preaching.
The crowds will keep coming....
And the saints come prepared to evangelize....
And preach regardless of the weather....
Like the rain every year at the derby, you can also expect these things to happen.
Large Crowds will come to the races.
The gospel will be preached.
Above pictured, Jaycen Saab of AppalachiaCry Ministries
Preaching draws conversations....
In this photo above Adam Wright is preaching
Photo by Pastor Adam Cutshaw who also pointed out this...
"6 evangelists-green (#3 is difficult to see)
10 interactions-red (#7 is difficult to see)"
This lady above came up and told me she was a Christian and that we were pushing people away from Jesus by the preaching. She told me that the way to reach people is through relationships, every objection she raised I simply took her to what the scriptures say and by the end of the conversation she shook my hand and said thank you for the conversations.
Praying is vital to the ministry and happens throughout the day.
Pastor Steven Stanley praying for John Coble before he preaches.
Dan Davis praying for Jamie Hall before preaching.
Ken Hisle praying for an individual who heard the gospel.
And gospel tracts go out.
Do people get upset and angry with us..... YES! Not because of our method, truthfully, it's because they are angry at God, and in rebellion against the one who created them. Therefore, they take out there frustrations on the messengers. Many walked by and called us names, and cussed at us.
Standing behind this barrier, when I was preaching a young man came up and flipped the stand over and walked away, after I finished and Heath (standing talking to the man in the dress coat and pink shirt) began to preach, a young man drunk and angry came and kicked the barricade into the inside of my left leg, then he walked away.
I've often said, if you want to experience the hatred people have for God, go stand on a street corner and preach the gospel to them and the majority of the time you will find out first hand.
And yet we must remember that but by the grace of God we would be no different, we may not have acted out in hatred the same way as these few examples given but we were just as much at enmity with God as those who vocally or physically make it known.
It is the love of Christ though that compels us to proclaim the gospel to the lost and dying world that they may experience new life as we have received in Christ.
God is good and merciful and I pray that His grace will be given to those mentioned above and the many others which heard the gospel at the Derby this past weekend.
May they be granted salvation in Christ!!
I want to thank all the brothers who came out this year to proclaim the gospel at the Derby. Also a huge thank you to Bill Adams and SFOI for hosting this event every year and bringing out speakers to teach us and taking care of the logistics to house and get all the preachers to the track.
I also want to say a special thank you to all of you who have supported us financially to attend this event, Adam Wright, Seth and Nathaniel Porter and I truly thank you, those who donated to the ministry gave generously and provided our way down and covered the entire cost of our trip this year.
Thank you to all of you who prayed for us while we were out at Churchill Downs preaching the gospel. You were just as much a part of this mission trip to the Kentucky Derby through your prayers.
Continue to pray for all those who heard the gospel, that God would grant them salvation and that He would raise up more brothers to come and preach the gospel at the derby next year.
All glory belongs to the Lord!
by Ricky Gantz
Recently, during an interaction with a local Hebrew Israelite, the passage of Isaiah 42 was brought up more than once. I was asked, who is this chapter referring to? One of the things Hebrew Israelites like to do is point to Old Testament scriptures that reference Israel as a proof that God has come to save His people Israel, which as someone who holds to Reformed Theology, I wouldn’t disagree. Although, I would disagree on their understanding of what that means. This creates many problems for Hebrew Israelites because they fail to see the differences between the type and the antitype in the scriptures.
What we are examining here is what is known as the “Covenant of Redemption” by reformed theologians. The covenant of redemption is the covenant made between the members of the Trinity (The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit) before the world was created. I will only be touching on chapter 42 of Isaiah, with a few looks at connecting scriptures, but I would strongly encourage you to study out this covenant of redemption in greater detail. However, let me briefly explain what this means.
Let’s look at Isaiah 42.
The first seven verses are where I want to spend my time but let me quickly give an overview of the rest of the chapter.
In verses 8-9 the LORD makes it clear He gives His glory to no other, which is another clear refutation to the Hebrew Israelites who deny that Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, who shares in the same glory with His Father. (John 17:5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.) He speaks on how former things have come to pass and declares new things.
In verses 10-13 the psalmist writes of singing a new song to the LORD, which will reach a gentile people, Kedar being referenced which is from the line of Ishmael, and the people of Sela, which was the capital of Edom. This is yet another clear refutation against the Hebrew Israelites.
In verses 14-17 is a passage of prophecy, those whom God brings in through the right way, by His gospel message, through Christ, He will guide and be a light in the darkness leading the blind, but for those who blaspheme and reject the gospel, they will be put to shame. Hebrew Israelites should repent and turn to Christ and pray that He will grant them genuine repentance and that they will not be like Israel as we are about to see here in the next section of scripture.
In verses 18-25 we look upon the failure of Israel to hear and see, listen to how God refers to them in verse 22, But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons; they have become plunder with none to rescue, spoil with none to say, “Restore!”, Israel did not take it to heart as stated in verse 25, and I plead with the Hebrew Israelites not to make the same mistake and reject the true gospel of Christ.
Now going back to verses 1-7.
I was told by the Hebrew Israelite I was in a conversation with that the servant here being referred to is the nation of Israel. Which is incorrect, this is not the nation of Israel being referred to, but the servant is Christ, the Son of God!
God the Father is speaking here to God the Son.
Christ will faithfully bring forth justice and establish it in the earth and bring His law to the coastlands (Isaiah 42:3-4).
We see the same spoken of Christ in Isaiah 49:1-7 as the servant of the LORD, called from the womb (v.49:1,5), mouth like a sharp sword (v. 49:2), will gather the preserved of Israel, and a light for the nations, meaning gentiles also (v. 49:6), who is the redeemer of Israel (v. 49:7).
In Isaiah 50 verses 4-9 the servant of the LORD who is Christ, speaks to the God the Father, as the prophesy about Himself in verse 6 says, I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those who pull out the beard, I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting.
Christ was beaten with the cat of nine tails and the flesh ripped from His back, hit on the cheek and His beard plucked from His face, and spit upon.
This suffering servant is God the Son, who is coming to judge you Hebrew Israelites and every other false worship of an idolatrous god. Do not be like those who we see, in Isaiah 42:18:25, who fail to hear and see. Open your eyes before it is to late, cry out to Jesus Christ who is God in the flesh to save your soul. Do not stay in the darkness but come to the one who opens the eyes of the blind and brings light into the darkness.
Turn to Christ and live!
For those in Christ
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
As one who spends much time evangelizing out on the streets, you often run into interesting people who believe a variety of different views about God and His Word.
From the atheists to the religious, you pretty much run into them all.
One group of individuals I have run into and will focus upon in this series of articles addressing their teaching is the Hebrew Israelites also known as Black Hebrew Israelites.
Every Saturday towards the evening we would head down to the city to preach the gospel in the open air and hand out tracts in the public square. One afternoon, we had the opportunity to get down there earlier than usual. While walking to meet up with others who were evangelizing with us we walked by a group of men who were standing near one of the bus stops holding up signs and proclaiming a message of some sort. They had a sign with a white Jesus who had devil horns on his head, a sign with a twelve tribes chart (which claimed only the Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans were the true Hebrew Israelites, and had them broken down into twelve tribes), another sign with RFID microchips as the mark of the beast, a sign about how America was going to be destroyed, and they were proclaiming how the white man is the devil they called Edomites, which they claimed were descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. They used this reference because God says in the scripture, “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated” (Malachi 1:3, Romans 9:13).
We stopped and engaged with them for a little while and attempted to have a dialogue, however, it wasn’t an easy task to do, because the group of men seemed more inclined to shout over you and weren’t really interested in hearing you out, only reading passages of scriptures that weren’t necessarily dealing with what they claimed it to deal with while shouting white devils at us. We preached the gospel to them and then went on our way to meet up with the group we came out to evangelize with.
This would be the first of many encounters with this group over the years. With more interactions picking up in 2017 until this day, as the group has grown on the streets and the encounters have been not only on the streets but also on YouTube (which is the main platform they use to spread their message).
>>>Just type in Ricky Gantz or G220 Ministries into the YouTube search engine and many videos will show up of either interaction with them or videos they made about me and the ministry.<<<
Not only has this group of men who I ran into about four to five years ago grown in number, but other groups were starting to come together in the city as well. Different camps holding to many of the same things with some distinct differences that divide them from one another. Sometimes you hear them refer to their camp as the true Hebrew Israelite while they call out other camps.
Now that we have a little context of the background in how I became aware of the Hebrew Israelites, let me explain why I feel this is important to address. There are many false religions that claim they have the truth and many cults who claim to be Christian and are not. The Hebrew Israelites are no different than other false groups that claim they have the truth. While they claim they are not a religion but a nationality, the real Hebrew Israelites the Bible speaks of, the reality is they are using the Word of God to promote their hatred and racism against others who do not fall into the list of their twelve tribes chart (Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans), especially their hatred of white people in which they claim are Edomites.
Not much has been written against the Hebrew Israelite teachings, which I believe is due to a few factors:
Why I believe we should address them.
Now that we have established a basis as to why I believe this is important to address we can move on into the main body of what I want to deal with in this first article on the topic of blessing and curses.
I have heard Hebrew Israelites say that you must first know who you are in the Bible before you can understand it. They make it more about a nation of people then about Christ. Which is why I can honestly say that I have never heard them preach the good news of the gospel of Christ, they preach what they believe is good news, which is them having the white man as slaves in the kingdom, but never preach Christ crucified on the cross and raised from the dead. They deny Jesus is God in the Flesh and teach he is a created being.
I would agree we need to understand who we are, we are totally depraved by nature, separated from God because of our sin.
I submit to you Chapter Six of the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith:
So, I agree it is important for us to recognize our state before a Holy and Righteous God.
Hebrew Israelites though are not referring to the nature of man but rather the nationality of man which they believe is the Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans and they come up with this based upon some proof texts that they believe support their claim.
One such text is Deuteronomy 28.
In this chapter of Deuteronomy God is laying out the blessings and the curses.
In verses 1-6 we see the blessings laid out:
Hebrew Israelites believe they have come into the truth and must keep the commandments of God because they are still in effect (Now to be fair this may not be all camps but from my interactions, there is a strong emphasis on keeping the law). My question is are you keeping ALL HIS COMMANDMENTS? Because it clearly states in verses 1 and 2 (underlined above) that you must be careful to do all his commandments and you will receive the blessings if you obey the voice of the Lord. If you violate in any point of Gods law you are a transgressor of the law.
As stated here in James 2:8-13:
8 If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well.
9 But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
11 For he who said, “Do not commit adultery,” also said, “Do not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do murder, you have become a transgressor of the law.
12 So speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty.
13 For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
Consider the underlined and highlighted scriptures above, verse 9 if you show partiality, you are committing sin! There is no getting around the fact that Hebrew Israelites promote and build a whole system around showing partiality for which they must repent. Now look at the next verse, if you fail in one point you are guilty of it all. There is never anytime in which you can keep the whole law perfectly, never has been and never will be in this life a time when you can keep the law perfectly. Which is why the need for Christ, who is God in the flesh come down to take upon Himself the sins of all those who would believe in Him. The righteous laying down His life for the unrighteous. No man was ever justified by the keeping of the law as the scriptures say.
So, you see law keeping cannot and never has saved anyone, through the law comes the knowledge of sin which again was stated above that if you have violated in one point you are guilty of being a covenant breaker a transgressor of the law.
Which would bring us to the curses, if you are careful to do all Gods commandments and obey Him you receive the blessings laid out in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, however, from verses 15-68 God lays out the curses for the covenant breakers, those who do not obey His commandments.
Verse 15 says, “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.
Sadly, the Hebrew Israelites claim to be the people of God is based upon how disobedient and a rebellious people they are to God and His word. Verse 45 says, “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you.
They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed according to the scriptures.
Chapter 28 is filled with many curses and I just want to look at a few as we seek to refute the position of the Hebrew Israelite teaching that this applies to them.
I have often heard from Hebrew Israelites that they are far more superior to all other nations in the world, meaning the Blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans. I have heard them say things about sports athletes who dominate their sport, whether it be boxing, baseball, basketball, or football. I have heard the claims that the reason the athletes who dominate their sports do so is because they are Hebrew Israelite. I believe this is a bad argument for their position and I will explain why.
First many of these athletes (who are Black, Hispanic and/or Native American) who are extremely talented in the field (sport) in which they are in, do not claim to be Hebrew Israelites, many of them do not adhere to the teachings of the Hebrew Israelite movement.
So, based upon their own logic about the blessings and the curses, how is an individual who is viewed and more superior in the eyes of the Hebrew Israelites because they claim they are truly Hebrew Israelites prospering in the field or sport they are in if they are not being careful to do all the commandments and obey the voice of the Lord?
Verse 20 says “The Lord will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me.
If Michael Jordan, who I believe to be the greatest basketball player to ever play in the NBA does not obey the Lord and is not careful to do all His commands and yet he is considered a Hebrew Israelite by nationality (using Jordan as an example, but you could fill in the blank with a name of any successful athlete), how has he prospered so much and not experienced what is mentioned in the verse above, confusion and frustration in all that he has undertaken in. Again, this is just an example, there are countless other examples of athletes who have won championships and done well in their field. Do the curses not apply to them even though they do not adhere to the commands to obey and worship the god you claim to serve. The one who brings the curses upon His people here in Deuteronomy 28.
How does verse 28-29 apply to these successful athletes, movie stars and entertainers.
Verse 48 is used as a proof text because it mentions a yoke of iron around the neck. Which they use to say that this is a mention of their people who suffered under slavery.
I believe it is important to point out that slavery in America was a horrible atrocity which took place in this nation and is not supported by the scriptures, even though there were men who tried to justify slavery by using proof texts within the Bible trying to fit their wicked theology into the scriptures by twisting the scriptures and not properly exegeting the Word of God.
In this verse is says, “therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you.”
We must let the scriptures interpret the scriptures, we see this reference used elsewhere in scripture.
Jeremiah 28:14 For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: I have put upon the neck of all these nations an iron yoke to serve Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and they shall serve him, for I have given to him even the beasts of the field.’”
Is this a literal yoke of iron around the necks of the people of all the nations? Well, NO! It is referring to them serving the king of Babylon as we see with supporting scriptures such as in Jeremiah 25:11, 27:6.
Another curse that is almost unimaginable to even think would come upon a people, yet do to their wickedness and rebellion against God, He says this curse will come upon them in verse 52-53.
This is not an easy passage to consider that someone would eat their own sons and daughters, but this is what is stated in this verse. During a time of distress under a siege, which I will mention here shortly concerning AD 70.
This is also referenced in Leviticus 26:27-33 which says:
Again, if you will not listen to God and walk contrary to Him, these judgments will come upon you, such devastation that it would cause the wickedness of man to eat his own children. Which is recorded for us by Josephus the Jewish Historian about the events in AD 70 when the LORD brought His judgment upon Israel. In His writings on The Siege of Jerusalem, AD 70, he wrote:
I struggled to read that honestly, but I wanted to point out how these curses against a rebellious people have been brought to pass at the end of the age in AD 70 on the covenant breakers of Israel.
Finally, I want to address verse 68, this verse is used by Hebrew Israelites as a proof text in which they claim is speaking of the transatlantic slave trade. Let’s examine verse 68, which says:
Three things I want to touch on with this closing verse.
As Christians, we can rejoice in the blessing of God that He gives to His people the Church, those who are the true Israel of God. Knowing that all the curses for the true believers have fell upon Christ.
And we who belong to Christ are not saved by the works of the law but have been justified by faith in Christ.
I point you back to the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith chapter 11:
This will not be the last of articles written to address and refute the claims made by those who hold to the Hebrew Israelite movement. And I pray that those who are caught up under the teaching of the Hebrew Israelites would come out from among them and turn to the one who can free them from the bondage of their sins and the bring them from death to life, the only way is through the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Who gave His life as a ransom for many, if by grace you believe by faith that Christ is who He says He is and has done what He says He has completed, salvation is only found in Christ alone.
May this also bring glory to the Lord by bringing Hebrew Israelites out of this movement, and for the edification of the true saints in Christ as they grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and His Word.
For those in Christ
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
If the title of this article seems shocking to you, it should! Not shocking that I would title this article, "Abortion is Premeditated Murder", because it is, but that you may be more offended by the title or thought that I would make such a claim rather than shocked by how many babies are actually murdered daily in this nation, at the predetermined and willful desire of mothers and fathers who request to have abortionist murders end the life of their child.
I would encourage you to listen first to what I have to say before you just dismiss it.
Life comes from God, it's valuable because we are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). The Psalmist writes, For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16).
God said to Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5) and Paul writes to the church in Galatia, "even before I was born, God had chosen me to be His" (Galatians 1:15).
Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) to be valued and loved and cared for, not to be murdered on the alter of convenience, simply because the mother or father says they are not ready for a child, or can't afford a child, or want to finish school, start a career, whatever excuse you want to come up with never justifies murdering your own child in a place that should be the safest for a baby, their mother's womb!
God says, "You shall not murder" (Exodus 20:13), that you are "not to shed innocent blood" (Jeremiah 7:6), and that He hates the "hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil" (Proverbs 6:16-19). What is more wicked and evil then shedding the innocent blood of your own child?
Premeditated Murder describes a murder that was planned in advance and was carried out willfully. Which is exactly what happens every time a mother goes into an abortion provider to schedule an abortion and then follows through with ending the life of the baby.
Every abortion is murder and every mother who has had an abortion is a murderer, every father who has participated or cooperated in the death of a child through abortion is a murderer, every grandparent who has forced their grandchild to have an abortion or encouraged and assisted in it is a murderer, every doctor who performs an abortion is a murderer, every escort who walks women into the clinic to shield them from the Christians who are pleading with them to come to Christ and not have an abortion is a murderer, and everyone who is pro choice is an accessory to murderer because you advocate for it.
And sadly, many professing Christians and pro-life organizations are complacent in their stand against the murder of babies in this nation.
Over 65 million babies have been murdered by legal abortion since Roe v. Wade.
Christians cannot be silent on this issue, because it is not a political problem but a sin problem that manifests in the murdering of millions of babies in our nation every year.
The Word of God says you shall not murder (Exodus 20:13) and no murderer will inherit the Kingdom of God, But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8).
We are all sinners and children of wrath by our nature (Ephesians 2:3), at war with the very God who created us, in constant rebellion against Him. The scary thing is that if you continue without Christ you are storing up His wrath for the day of judgment. Worshiping creation over the creator (Romans 1:25), And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:28-32)
However, there is forgiveness in Christ, by the grace of God through faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9). So that even those who have murdered their own baby or participated in anyway through abortion can receive complete forgiveness for the murdering of these precious babies by the only savior Jesus Christ.
Christ died on the cross, taking upon Himself the wrath of God, for those who believe, and He became sin who knew no sin that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. He was buried and rose from the grave defeating the power of sin and death. And for those in Christ there is no condemnation, Jesus paid the debt that was owed for the sins of those who believe and He commands you to repent and believe.
Have you repented for the premeditated murder of your baby through abortion? Have you repented for the assisting of or participating in the murder of a baby through abortion?
Christ can and will forgive you if you come to Him by repentance and faith, He heals the brokenhearted and brings you peace with God.
May the Grace of God be with you
Have you ever had that conversation with someone who tells you they are a Christian BUT.... you leave thinking they might not actually be saved?
For me this is far to often the case. One such instance that comes to mind, is when I was in downtown Cleveland at Public Square handing out gospel tracts. A young man came out there a little ways up the street from where I was and began to open air preach, I was excited, and thought to myself this is great, I need to talk to this person before they leave, thinking how nice it would be to have another brother in Christ to labor with on the streets in Cleveland. I was already engaged in a conversation with an individual when this young man stopped preaching, so I sent my son to go let him know I wanted to talk. After I wrapped up the conversation I was already in this young man and I began to talk and everything started off great until I asked him what church he belongs to. He responded by saying "he goes back and forth between two churches", going to Bethel Cleveland one week and a local Baptist church the next. To him that was not an issue but for me it was and lead me down another line of conversation with him. I expressed my concerns over Bethel and the many false teachings that come out of there, however, he did not see those as problems that he needed to be concerned about. When the conversation ended, I went from being excited at the possibility of having another brother to minister with, to being saddened by the fact that this young man may very well be a false convert.
That was not the first or last of the many conversations I've had with individuals that were not exactly the same things I discussed with the young man above but similar in the fact that I walked away with no sense of assurance that the profession of faith they initially made was valid.
Ultimately, I am not the final judge and my prayer is that if these individuals were true believers they have grown in their faith, and if they were false converts as I perceived them to be, they would come to repentance and genuine faith in Jesus Christ.
Why is this such a problem? Let me try to explain some reasons why I believe this is all to common.
1) They are goats
We need to be honest and say that many who profess Christ today are not His sheep, they are goats, they are tares and not the wheat. True and false converts alongside one another in the church. These false converts are goats and while pastors and elders do their best to minimize the amount of unbelievers who become members of their local churches, there will still be those goats who convince others they are among the sheep. The Lord will in the end be the one to separate the goats from His sheep.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
2) The are a new convert
We need to be gracious with those who may be new to the faith. If they are a new convert they may still be trying to figure things out within Christianity. While we believe there are some essentials to the Christian faith, some brothers and sisters may not be fully aware or even understand some of these essential doctrines yet. For example, they may say they believe in the Trinity but not understand the dangers of modalism and may make statements that sound as if they were a oneness pentecostal and not even know it, until someone points it out to them. This is why discipleship is so important for a new believers life. They need a biblical church and solid believers around them to hold them accountable and point them to truth.
>>>1 Peter 2:2
Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation--
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
3) They are in an unbiblical church
Most professing Christian's in questionable churches (although they do not see them as questionable) have no desire for the truth. They may say they love Christ, they may say they are a Christian, but care little to grow in their understanding of the scriptures and conformity to what is true but rather desire to stay biblically illiterate and under happy go lucky, make me feel good about myself churches. And the majoirty of the time they are more offended that you would challenge the teachings of their church than they are offended that their church would teach contrary to God's Word.
2 Peter 2:1-3
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
2 Timothy 4:3
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4) They are in a church that preaches the gospel but has poor theology
This is a tough position to be in because there are some churches that get the gospel right, and they don't teach things that would deny what many would consider the essentials of the faith. They may affirm the Trinity, the Deity of Christ, Justification by faith alone, hold to a biblical view of the atonement, and yet still have very poor theology. This could be because the pastor and/or elders in the church aren't doing a good job of training up their people, along with teachers in the church teaching a very basic Sunday school class that just goes through the same teachings every couple of years and never digs in to deep theological studies on the scriptures. I was once in a church where the pastor kept his sermons short and never to deep because he would say he needed to bring it down to where he believed his people were at rather than preaching and teaching at a level that would bring his people up to a stronger theological standing.
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.
This is in no way meant to be an exhaustive list, but I do believe these are reasons why we see so many who profess Christ but do not really know Him. These four reasons are not exclusive from one another but intertwine with each other.
A major indicator that one may be a goat is when they are in an unbiblical church and after being warned that their pastor is a false teacher time and time again with evidence given on the false teaching being taught, they get mad and disregard the warnings and continue to support and follow these false teachers.
A new convert may be under a false teacher in an unbiblical church, but because they are in Christ the Spirit will lead them into all truth, so when they receive correction they will over time come out from among them.
Honestly if you are a true believer and someone challenges something you have always been told or believed regardless of how long you have been a Christian, you response should not be well my pastor said this or my favorite preacher said..... it should be what does the Bible say.
2 Timothy 3:16-17
16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Our first desire should be to honor the Lord and give Him glory, which means we must conform to the truth found in His word.
Not everyone who says they are a Christian is truly a Christian!
Let us remember that even those who may be a false convert may one day be brought to saving faith, so preach the gospel in season and out of season. Everyone from unbelievers to believers need to hear the gospel, unbelievers that they might be saved and believers that they might walk in accordance to the gospel which Christ used to save them.
Grace and Peace Be With You
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.<<<
For the last four years G220 Ministries has hosted a College Evangelism Tour in which we visit local college campuses seeking to engage with the students and bring to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. The glorious gospel is that Jesus came into His own creation, never once sinned, lived in perfect obedience to the Father, and willfully went to the cross, died, was buried and rose again on the third day and God commands all to repent and believe in Him. All those who by grace through faith in Christ alone receive eternal life while those who reject Christ will receive eternal death.
>>>1 Corinthians 15:1-4
1 Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, 2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,<<<
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God<<<
One of the things we have observed over the last few years, is a growing surge in the LGBTQ+ community and those who would affirm it. So much so that it appears to be a quickly growing percentage of the student body. Those who openly profess to be homosexual and proud to call themselves such, as well as those who embrace and celebrate this with them who would claim to be heterosexual. Almost as if its the cool new fad among young people today. And anyone who disagrees is unloving and intolerant.
In one conversation with a male student at Cleveland State University who told us his name was "Jenny", claimed to be transgender. Our first encounter with "Jenny", he walked passed with a couple female students that took gospel tracts from us and then "Jenny" proceeded to rip up the tract, tossed it in the air and kept on walking. He stopped and came back with one of the tracts that another in his group received and asked me what was this about. I began to share the gospel with "Jenny", however, he didn't really seem as if he desired to engage in a meaningful conversation but rather mock. Even though every argument he brought forth we showed his inconsistencies and pointed him back to the scriptures.
He left but kept coming back to talk with us throughout the day. One of those times was with my wife, who came in the afternoon for a few hours before we ended the day at CSU.
While talking to my wife, he started with the premise that everyone should be left alone to live in a way that makes them happy. My wife went back and forth with him for awhile using scripture and talking about the foundation for morality, which he did admit that there had to be a standard for morality or you're just left with total chaos. Yet, continued to be inconsistent with what logically he knew to be true.
This just goes to show you that regardless of the evidence of something being true unless God does a supernatural work in the heart of an individual they will continue to suppress the truth for a lie and good they call evil and that which is evil they call good.
>>>Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.<<<
>>>Isaiah 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!<<<
This young man in the same five minutes of the conversation denied the existence of God, while claiming that God had created him wrong. Do you not see the problem with that thinking? In one breath, he says God doesn't exist, while in the next breath lashes out in anger at the same God he is denying for creating him as he believes, he is a woman in a man's body.
This is the sad state in which we find ourselves today, if we are truly honest and believe the scripture in Romans chapter one, we would have to say we are definitely living in a nation that is not awaiting God's judgment but rather we are currently experiencing it as we see God give them up to the lusts of their hearts in impurity.
As you can see in the picture above college students are willing to engage with you. Most of the time they believe themselves to be wise in their own eyes and think they will put the Christians in their place, which they often seem to think is back in the first century as if truth has evolved and changed over time.
>>>Isaiah 5:21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!<<<
Interestingly enough most of the time if not all the time when we are preaching the gospel at the college campuses in the open air or passing out tracts and engaging in conversations with students we don't even mention homosexuality. They are the ones who bring it up in questions they ask us, and from there we take them to the scriptures to show them what the Word of God says.
While at CSU a student named Patrick came up and was looking at our free materials we brought to the campus to give away. I asked him if he had any questions and he said yes, then he ask if we were zealots? Wanting to be informed about what it was he was asking, I inquired saying what do you mean by zealot? His reply was not exactly what I thought it was going to be, I thought maybe he was asking if we were like the angry street preaching crowd that goes around from campus to campus making it hard on the true biblical Christians who preach the truth, and not those who spend the day yelling at students and calling them names preaching law with no grace.
Patrick went straight for homosexuality, he asked do you preach against gays? I said that we preach the gospel and stand on the Word of God. Pointing out to Patrick that the scripture says all those who die in their sins will not inherit the kingdom of God but rather eternal damnation, homosexuality is one of many sins that God calls us to repent of. Expressing to Patrick that we were not out there to single out homosexuality but rather to point people to Jesus Christ because we are all sinners in need of a savior unable to save ourselves.
He walked away, but like "Jenny" kept coming around as if to hear us but not engaging in more conversations.
These students and many across the country who have the same kind of mindset, one that says there is no absolute truth, some of which will actually tell you there is no absolute truth. They embrace the lies of the world and worship creation over the creator. There is no fear of the Lord in their hearts and they are not seeking after God, which is why they need to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ which is our hope and prayer for them. The gospel is the means by which God brings dead sinners to life, releasing the captives and setting them free, opening the blind eyes that they may see and it is only by His grace.
We know that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ, so preach Christ on the college campuses to these young students, preach Christ to family members, preach Christ to your friends, preach Christ to your co-workers, preach Christ and Him crucified, risen and coming again. Christ changes stony heart to flesh, so trust in Him to bring others to salvation, and let us stay faithful to the proclamation of His gospel message.
Even when it seems that homosexuality and those who support it is ever increasing and anyone who speaks out against it is viewed as unloving, intolerant, and hateful bigots, we know that God can bring these individuals to repentance and faith. We find great comfort in the writing of the Apostle Paul when he says in Corinthians, and such were some of you.
>>>1 Corinthians 6:9-11
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.<<<
All those sins listed can be forgiven in Christ, not that one who comes to Christ can continue in their sinful lifestyle, regardless of whatever sin that was, but we repent and believe in Christ and He changes our desires and where sin still remains in the flesh we are called to die to ourselves and obedience to Christ. Too many today who want to preach and teach that you can be a homosexual Christian, when Paul is clear in the passage above that such were some of you, you were but you are no longer identified by the sins which kept you in slavery but you have been set free in Christ.
We have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who lives but Christ who now lives in us and the life we now live by faith in the Son of God who died for us. What comfort we have in Christ we are no longer enemies of God, we are now at peace with God.
So let us remember the grace of God that He poured out on us and extend that grace to the lost by giving them the gospel in truth and love that they might experience the same grace and say, such was I but I have been washed.
May the Grace of God be with you!
Ricky & Elesa Gantz
Election is really a remarkable view of God's grace, that He would chose His elect before the foundation of the world, not arbitrarily, but in His wisdom to bring about His purpose to fulfill His will. So often we hear from those who oppose God's sovereign election stating that it is not fair that God would elect or chose to save some but not make it possible for all to be saved. Some even go so far to accept a universal atonement, that God would ultimately save everyone because of His love for all. Now to be fair, not all those who hold to mans free will, meaning it comes down to man making the choice as to whether or not God will save them, ascribe to a universal atonement. They reject that God will save everyone, and do not deny that some will go to hell. Thankful for these inconsistencies, because ultimately with the idea that Jesus died for everyone, past, present and future, when taken to its logical conclusion leads you to universalism. Like I said, thankfully there are inconsistencies.
Matthew 1:21 "She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins."
This verse does not say He will make it possible for His people to be saved from their sins, does it? No, it says He will save! That is a one hundred percent guarantee that God will do exactly what he said He will do, because we know that God does not lie. (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18, Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29)
Isaiah 53:5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.
Again, not to sound redundant, Isaiah 53 which is used so often by many Christians as this is a wonderful prophetic passage pointing to Jesus, completely miss the point that because He took upon Himself the curse of being hung from a tree (Galatians 3:13), He was pierced, crushed, chastened, and scourged and by this we are healed, not that we have the potential to be healed but that we are healed. He did this for His people not only of the Jews but also of the Gentiles, for the world. I can say world without fear because when it is rightly understood in context, you will see that often it is referring to both Jews and Gentiles, and not meaning every single individual on the earth, but from every tribe and people group God is saving from them His elect.
Here is the link to a previous article looking at the word world as used in scripture, looking deeper to understand the context behind world in different passages to help you see that it is not always referring to everyone. does-world-mean-everyone.html
We can not say that Christ did not accomplish His purpose and fulfill His plans to redeem His people if He only made it possible and is now sitting on the edge of His throne waiting to see if people will accept and choose to be saved, relying on man to be the deciding factor in salvation. Which is ultimately what one is saying, even though they will strongly argue that salvation is of God, they fail to see how they are being unbiblical in their position by making salvation a work of God plus man, and man being the determining factor. This type of thinking along with the many inconsistencies lead to many errors in properly expounding the scriptures as we will see with Ephesians 1:4, they simple continue to miss the mark. Thinking they hit the bullseye but in reality are not even hitting the target.
Let me first just look at this verse alone without the context around it and see if there is anything that stands out and is clear and easy to understand.
The scripture says just as He chose us, who is the He, this is referring to God choosing us in Christ, so God chose us to be in Christ, that is pretty clear and simple to understand, now comes the hard part, well it's not really hard to grasp but for some they attempt to make it harder in order to fit their free will theology into the text by eliminating election. However, the verse goes on to tell us when He (God) did this electing or choosing, the scripture says, "before the foundation of the world", and goes on to say that we would be holy and blameless before Him. This choosing by God that we would be in Christ before the foundation of the world is not something that we should be so quick in twisting the scriptures to avoid the plain text simply because we don't like what it says. It says what it says, whether you like it or not this is plain and clear that God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, any other means of interpreting this verse differently to avoid the truth is either because one is being outright deceptive or just plain ignorant of the scriptures. We cannot allow our opinions or ideas about what we think God says in His word to dictate what God actually says in His word simply because it doesn't fit with the theology we hold.
Here is an example of someone doing just that, trying to make this passage say something it is clearly not saying.
Do I really even need to respond to this foolishness? I mean honestly think about what this guy is trying to say, the inconsistencies and mangling of the scripture is so bad that this is the best you can come up with to explain away the fact, yes fact, that Ephesians 1:4 says God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world. As I said above when someone clearly hates the doctrine of election they will go to such extreme lengths to avoid the clear truths of scripture, that are so plainly seen right before our eyes in this verse and we haven't even looked at the context yet.
Look how bad this argument is, he says that when you use proper hermeneutics you will see God is not choosing individuals but all believers, both Jews and Gentiles meaning the church. The church is made up of individual believers who collectively make up the church or body of Christ. It's like saying God elects the church but not those who are in the church. Basically what this individual is saying, is ridiculous, yeah ridulous! This is the outcome though when one tries to explain away truth, they claim to use logical arguments and have those who properly exegete the text scratching their heads like...WHAT?
This individual loves to point out the IN HIM phrase in this verse and argue that we are not in Christ until salvation, however, what this individual fails to understand is that regardless of when God chooses to bring one of His elect to the point of conversion, this does not the fact that the one being saved was elected before the foundation of the world. Jesus was the lamb slain before the foundation of the world yet this take place before the beginning of the world but at the appointed time God had set forth. the same applies to salvation of God's elect, which God brings about at the appointed time for that individual He has predestined unto adoption.
Basically this man is arguing that God set in eternity past to bring about the church but doesn't choose the individuals He will save to be part of the church, which is the typical free will position, but is contrary to Ephesians 1:4.
At this point I have some serious concerns about this individuals understanding of scripture and even more concerned that this individual claims to be a teacher of God's word. He goes on from there to end the post by saying you are not elect until you are in Christ. The ridiculousness of this argument shouldn't be overlooked and the error needs to be pointed out. First the elect doesn't become elect because they believed, they believe because they are the elect. Also even by this mans logic only the elect are saved, how so? Well if the elect become the elect because they believe and only those who believe will be saved then that would mean that only the elect will be saved.
Let's look at the definition of election from Websters Dictionary 1828.
ELECT', verb transitive [Latin electus, from eligo; e or ex and lego; Gr. to choose.]
1. Properly, to pick out; to select from among two or more, that which is preferred. Hence,
2. To select or take for an office or employment; to choose from among a number; to select or manifest preference by vote or designation; as, to elect a representative by ballot or viva voce; to elect a president or governor.
3. In theology, to designate, choose or select as an object of mercy or favor.
4. To choose; to prefer; to determine in favor of.
ELECT', adjective Chosen, taken by preference from among two or more. Hence,
1. In theology, chosen as the object of mercy; chosen, selected or designated to eternal life; predestinated in the divine counsels.
2. Chosen, but no inaugurated, consecrated or invested with office; as bishop elect; emperor elect; governor or mayor elect But in the scriptures, and in theology, this word is generally used as a noun.
ELECT', noun One chosen or set apart; applied to Christ.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect in whom my soul delighteth. Isaiah 42:1.
1. Chosen or designated by God to salvation; predestinated to glory as the end, and to sanctification as the means; usually with a plural signification, the elect
Shall not God avenge his own elect? Luke 18:7.
If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect Matthew 24:24.
He shall send his angels--and they shall gather his elect from the four winds. Matthew 24:24.
2. Chosen; selected; set apart as a peculiar church and people; applied to the Israelites. Isaiah 45:4.
As A.W. Pink is quoted above, election is all throughout the Word of God, the only reason it's argued against is because man wants to say he had a part in his own salvation, again to be fair that may not be what they actually verbalize but when you get down to the root of the issue, that's it, man wants to be in control of his own soul.
If you would like to know more about the doctrines of grace, especially the doctrine of election please visit Monergism here>>
Verse 3 says, Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
We who are believers have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places even though we are not yet with Christ we have every spiritual blessing given to us in Christ.
Now for Verse 4 which we have already discussed says, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love
This verse ends with In love, which is the beginning of the next verse and this is why the idea that this is not referring to election is absurd because Paul reiterates it here in verse 5 with predestination.
He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
God predestined us as sons by adoption through Jesus Christ, He chose us and predestined us before the foundation of the world, scripture is clear, those who continue to deny the clear and plain reading of scripture only continue to prove their ignorance of God's word due to their hatred of the doctrine of election.
Verse 6 says, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.
All that God does is to the praise of the glory of His grace, why would we argue that anything that God chooses to do would be anything other than to His glory.
Verse 7-10 says, In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him.
Verse 7 says, according to the riches of His grace.
Verse 8 says, He did this in His wisdom and insight.
Verse 9 says, He made known the mystery of His will, which if you are following along closely, Paul is speaking to the saints in Ephesus about this mystery that this is for both Jew and Gentile believers and this was His will which again we see He chose us before the foundation of the world and predestined us to be sons by adoption through Jesus Christ. No matter how hard you try, you cannot get around the clear reading of scripture unless you flat out deny the truth in order to hold tightly to the lies.
Verse 10 says, suitable to the fullness of the times, and summing up of all things in Christ, in heaven and on the earth. Again as I said in the beginning, God elects man to come to salvation and then works it out throughout time at the appointed hour that He decreed it to come to pass.
In Him continuing onto verse 11 says, also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,
Once again predestined appears to plainly make it know that this is Gods Sovereign election and it is all to His praise and His glory and He is working it all out after the counsel of His will.
Why would anyone want to find themselves on the opposite side of God's sovereign plan in which He will bring about His purposes. As Romans 8 verses 28-30 so plainly lays out in the order of salvation, it says, 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
To the praise of the glory of His grace
Racism is Sin!!
Racism in the body of Christ by those who hold to a teaching or preaching position, the level of accountability for you will be much higher.
Let's just be honest.... If you can't have unity with the brethren because of skin color ..... Do you really have unity with Christ?
They will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another!
Not they will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another as long as they respond in the way you want them to or how you feel they should, but because of the unity in Christ among His own they will have love for one another!
It seems the more the world claims to be woke .... there are those in the church that instead of pointing the woke ones to the Hope found in the one that is Christ Jesus, they just join them.
Instead of responding from a biblical worldview seeking restoration through Christ, some seek restoration through reparations.
Probably wondering, what I mean by that??
It seems unless you are willing to agree with those who are seeking more of a social justice approach to our faith when it comes to racism you can't say anything about it or even ask the questions without being labeled, unaware, privileged, and/or racist.
If you challenge prominent men who may have been used by God to bring about some needed changes in our society like Dr. Martin Luther King who held to unbiblical views of Christ and other theological errors, the same type of labels are used against you.
God has used ungodly men at times to bring about His graciousness to His people throughout history. While we can appreciate the work in which God used these men to bring about change, we should never worship these men or esteem them higher than they are.
And we should not have to fear or be labeled falsely for examining the theology of these ungodly men in which God has used to bring about His purposes.
There is also a serious problem within the professing body of Christ when a Christian is told they aren't able to speak to the issues of racism because they are white.
When I see posts like that, which imply that unless you are the same skin color then you can't really speak on it, unless you agree on it, truly grieves my heart.
What is happening within the body of Christ?
Christ revealed a mystery to us of bringing Jew and Gentile together and it seems like there are those who want to separate over ethnicity.
The above statement was made by Thabiti Anyabwile, a prominent leader in the church today. Link here>> https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/thabiti-anyabwile/await-repentance-assassinating-dr-king/
Another well known pastor, Eric Mason said this on twitter. Does anyone see anything wrong with this? As I stated above, if you pushback (Mason's words) or disagree, well you are just out of luck because you wont even be able to engage due to your privileged position.
Does racism still exist today? Yes
However, this is not the way the body of Christ should be responding to one another. This type of response only causes division in the body and not unity, as Christians we should know and understand that better than anyone, yet it seems that so many are falling for the same type of thinking of the world.
What should be the response? Preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that changes the hearts of men. Heart change is the only true change that will bring peace, hope and restoration to man. First to the one we all need to be restored to, which is Christ Jesus, then to our fellow man. Brothers and sisters in Christ should be in unity with one another, seeking to grow in sanctification, not perfection but growing in sanctification and where there is the sin of indwelling racism in a man, whether he is black or white, repentance is needed.
1 John 1:8-9 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
We look to the scriptures to see that the gospel goes forth to both Jew and Gentile, the dividing wall has been torn down by Christ, we should not be seeking to build a wall of hostility back up among other brothers and sisters based on their ethnic background, nor on the basis of their so-called privilege or lack of, regardless of social status that society may put us in based on your income, where you live, or any other area by which they try to make divisions, for those that are in Christ Jesus they are one!
Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Does that mean only preach the gospel? No, preach the gospel, and love your neighbor as yourself, that may mean get involved and love those around you. Be a light in the darkness as an ambassador for Christ.
Let us as believers not seek to tear down those in the body but build one another up.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
Exercising the fruit of the Spirit.
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
My heart in this is not to add to or cause more division, I already see to much division over this as it is. My heart is grieved by what I am seeing and my only desire in this is that it will cause us all to think through the issues at hand and grow deeper in our love for one another. Starting with the body, which is not ours but belongs to Christ.
When a brother has experienced racism towards himself as a body regardless of color we should grieve when that saint grieves and rejoice with our brethren when they rejoice.
Racism is sin! It's not going to go away, there will always be a form of it until the LORD returns for His bride. As the bride for which Christ will return let us walk in a manner that brings glory to His name by being united in Christ and not divided in the same manner and way in which the world divides.
May the grace of our Lord bless you and keep you until He returns for His bride.
Soli Deo Gloria
Doesn't world mean everyone when it is used in the Word of God? This is often a debated topic among professing Christians, often the very famous John 3:16 is quoted as a go to passage to say, the reference to world means everyone. However, is that truly the case or could there be more to it. Let's start by looking at this passage in John chapter 3.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.-John 3:16
The Greek word used here for world is κοσμον. A noun - accusative singular masculine
kosmos kos'-mos: orderly arrangement, i.e. decoration; by implication, the world (in a wide or narrow sense, including its inhabitants, literally or figuratively (morally) -- adorning, world.
We can see by the understanding of this word that it can be used in a wide or narrow sense, which is important to note and we will see as we look at other passages of scriptures using the word world.
I want to start by looking at this word from the Gospel of John since that is where it comes into question the most for those who are advocating that world means everyone.
The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!-John 1:29
Ask yourself, does world here mean everyone? I don't want you to take that question lightly with this passage or any other passage we look at going forward in this article. If this literally means the world in the sense of everyone, then everyone has their sins taken away. Because the text literally says, "takes away the sin of the world!" If Jesus' death, burial and resurrection takes away every individuals sin, there would be no one who would be cast into the lake of fire because Jesus would have taken away their sin.
I honestly don't want to sound like I am continuing to make the same case or argument throughout this article but I do believe this is truly important in helping others see clearly in order to be consistent with the scriptures and not make the same arguments that say it means the entire world, meaning all people.
They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”-John 4:42
Here again we see the implication in this verse that Jesus is "the Savior of the world". Does that mean He saves everyone? No, there are many references in scriptures that speak of those who have not believed in Christ will face God's wrath. So the idea that this means everyone is reaching for something that just is not there.
For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”-John 6:33
If world means every individual and you want to be consistent with that you will find yourself as a universalist, because there is no way then of arguing against universalism when the scripture above says about Jesus that he, "comes down from heaven and gives life to the world," this doesn't mean that I believe everyone who says that world means every individual is a universalist, however, I am only trying to demonstrate how you are being inconsistent by trying to apply that to the word when as mentioned already it can mean in a wide sense or in a narrow sense.
So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”-John 12:19
Now this cannot clearly be meaning every individual has gone after following Christ.
If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.-John 12:47
Here is an example as to why context is key when it comes to interpretations of the scriptures. One who holds to a universal atonement could easily try to say this verse is teaching that Jesus doesn't judge anyone (the world) but saves everyone (the world).
Again, I don't want to come of sounding like a broken record but it seems that where we fail in understanding the text of scriptures is because we try to impose our own presuppositions onto the text, twist the text and misinterpret the passage.
Please consider that when reading the Word of God!
even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.-John 14:17
Thought this was an interesting verse to add, especially in light of this whole discussion comes about due to those who believe in a free will theology that limits the atonement of Christ in its effectiveness by saying it only makes it possible for man to be saved but ultimately comes down to mans free will choice. John 14:17 says the world cannot receive the Holy Spirit. Context is important brothers and sisters.
If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.-John 15:19
We see here the word world used five times in this one verse, now truly think about this passage because there is much to glean from it.
The obvious stand out here for one holding to the Doctrines of Grace is the fact that Jesus says, " but I chose you out of the world," clearly world there does mean out of all the world but the next line states, "therefore the world hates you." Which is not in the wide sense but a narrow sense, not every individual is an unbeliever, and we know that Jesus said, "they will know you are my disciples by the love you have for one another."
“I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.-John 17:6
Let's really discuss this verse in the Gospel of John. Jesus says, "I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world, " What a beautiful portion of scripture pointing to the fact that these individuals where given to Jesus by the Father and that it is they who keep His word. Ask yourself, if everyone in the whole world has been given to Jesus why do they not all keep the Father's word?
Let me just add some more scriptures here from Jesus' pray to His Father in John 17 to hopefully help you understand why it is so important to be consistent with how you interpret the scriptures.
I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.-John 17:9
And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.-John 17:11
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.-John 17:13-16
As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.-John 17:18
that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.-John 17:21
Now this last verse here (v.21) is another used to say that Jesus is speaking about the whole world again with the idea of including every individual. Which is way I put up so many verses from this chapter to give a better understanding of the context of John 17. Back in verse six Jesus tells us these are those whom the Father has given Him and that He is not praying for the world but for His own and those who will believe because of their preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not every individual on the entire world.
Which is further explained here in the next three verses.
I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me.-John 17:23-25
Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret.-John 18:20
Lastly in the Gospel of John we see Jesus say, "I have spoken openly to the world." The Mormons might like the idea of making that use of world to mean the entire world being as they believe Christ came to the Americas. However, that is not the meaning of the passage, Christ was using in the narrow sense.
I will leave you with one last passage of scripture from the Apostle Paul concerning the world. Which hopefully if you are consistent with the scriptures you will see how this is referring to the known world at that time and not to the very ends of all the earth.
But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”-Romans 10:18
Romans 10 is another section of scripture that gets thrown out there when those who want to argue against Calvinism speak about whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord, which I would say, amen! The whosoever is the elect, but that would take us into a much longer article which might comes at a later time. However, in this verse, as stated above, Paul is saying that they have heard the and that their voice has gone out to all (side note there is that word all, which you could apply the same principles being used to understand the word world), the world. Clearly Paul who was the Apostle to the Gentiles did much of his missionary work in Asia Minor. Paul did not travel across the world neither did the other disciples at this time, he was speaking of the known world to them.
My prayer in this is that it would help you to understand and see the importance of rightly dividing the Word of God. Being consistent with the scriptures and doing our best to not be inconsistent. Honestly, there are some with good intentions and a desire to reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ that may not fully grasp this but that doesn't give us the excuse to be sloppy with the scriptures and impose our traditions and/or presuppositions into the scriptures. We must look at the context of scripture and allow the scriptures to speak for themselves.
Yes, I am aware that man is fallible, which is why we must study hard the scriptures and dig deep into the passages and have good exegesis.
My prayer for you is that this will draw you closer to Christ, and that this would be encouraging and edifying to the body of Christ and help you answer some of those objections about John 3:16 referring to world as meaning every individual.
May the grace of God richly bless you and draw you even closer to Him in your walk.
Soli Deo Gloria
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