Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Simony Says...

In Acts chapter 8, a magician by the name of Simon believes in Jesus Christ, which is good; even the demons believe and they tremble! This man is not saved, his baptism has not saved him, his belief has not saved him. Peter is very clear that the intents of Simon’s heart are keeping him from salvation.

Simon does the worldly thing; he offers God something in hopes that God will give him this wonderful feeling of joy through salvation. He has tried to bribe the Owner of the Universe, and is met harshly, “Repent of this thy wickedness, and pray God that the intents of your heart may be forgiven you.” Peter went on to tell him that his bitterness was the reason for his bondage in iniquity.

What can we, as a church who recognizes that God has no interest in silver and gold or hundred dollar bills, learn from this? Is it that God cannot be bribed?

Beloved, why then do we offer the Righteous Judge of the universe our prayers in return for his glorious Gospel? Why do we offer our desperately wicked and broken down hearts for his abode? Why do we offer to sell our soul, which is not ours for bargaining since it is firmly in the captivity of the devil, to the Lord of lords in full expectation that he will welcome us into his service?

These methods of works based christianity are none more than fanciful simony. We are as guilty as the sorcerer of Samaria by putting a price tag on the gift of eternal life. Our wicked offer will receive the same admonition it did for the magician, “May your offer perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with prayer! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is not right before God.”

Paris Reidhead said it best, “Lord Jesus, I’m going to obey you, and love you, and serve you, and do what you want me to do as long as I live, even if I go to Hell at the end of the road, simply because you are worthy to be loved, obeyed, and served; and I’m not trying to make a deal with you.”

My dear reader, perhaps you feel as though you’ve made a deal with God for your soul; that you offered your bribe and he applied the price for your redemption. Perhaps you are saved, perhaps you are not; either way, your offer had nothing to do with it. God our Saviour saves for his own purposes and to his own glory, it is for his sake and through the redemption of his name you may be reconciled. At a time pleasurable to him he chooses to save, and when he does, the flood of his saving grace is inescapable.

Perhaps you have decided to believe in the Son of God in hopes that he will improve your magic act and/or other facets of your life, and the meagerness of your iniquity you have laid upon his altar seems to be a valid and fair price in your eyes. You are guilty of simony and you have neither part nor lot in the matter of the Holy Spirit and eternal life.

Repent, therefore, of this thy wickedness, and pray God that he may see fit to save a sinner like you, that none of those things which Peter nor I have spoken shall befall you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Against Hyper Arminianism

In Heaven, there will be Calvinists, Augustinians, Wesleyans, a few Arminians, and maybe even one or even two Pelagians. I will not say that your view of grace is an essential in getting you into Heaven.

But, my brothers and sisters in Christ, your view of grace is an essential in how you approach getting OTHERS into Heaven. The Arminian beliefs of decisional regeneration and lordship salvation are outright heresy. They have installed works into salvation, provided an avenue for boasting, and will indeed result in multitudes knocking on the door to the Bema Seat and instead of being welcomed in, will be directed to the Great White Throne for judgment.

Salvation is by grace through faith. This faith is granted by God, it comes by hearing. God draws, Christ paid the price, the Holy Spirit justifies and sanctifies. There is no room for the sinner to do anything other than be saved. The Spirit will convict him of his sin, his pride will be killed through the Word, and the Spirit will grant him life. God given repentance will follow.

The most vilified person in history is the High Calvinist, the hatred against him is only slightly less than the hatred against Christ and considerably more than the hatred directed at the Accuser. Oh how the world, the American church, and the free-willers hate this godly man. Why? Because his trust is based too greatly in his God.

But, here I am to defend him who trusts too heavily in God. Saints, the most damning view of grace which forsakes the God given command to seek and save that which is lost is the HyperArminian; the overly tolerant deceiver who thinks that anyone can seek God on their own. He is the dumb dog who sees the danger but remains silent; the blind watchman who cares not for souls and will not remove his blindfold. Beloved, there is none that seeks after God; we like sheep have all turned aside after our own lusts. The HyperArminian sits on his porch boasting in his decision, content that his faith was his own doing and that his neighbor will eventually realize his need for a Saviour and find God if he keeps asking those girls down at the strip-club.

Tolerance is a cancer. There has never been a greater heresy to infect Christianity. Catholicism, Atheism, Evolution have nothing on the numbers of souls that tolerance has murdered. Your neighbor is a heathen, he will not seek God, how will he hear without a preacher?

Before you curse the High Calvinists who defend God, look at the plank in your own eye and remember what the Psalmist said, It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.

Beloved, if faith comes by hearing, who have you told?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Testimony Evangelism Quick Reference Guide

Two decades after his conversion, Paul is arrested for inciting a riot and uses the opportunity to give his testimony in front of his Jewish countrymen, and King Agrippa in Jerusalem. Paul called his captivity in Rome an “appointment” (Phil 1:17) and Jesus said that you will be dragged in front of men, for the purpose of preaching at them. (Matt 10:18) There is a time and a place for "Testimony Evangelism" and Acts 26 provides a good template for doing so. Acts 22 tells a similar story, but with a bad outcome. Certain portions of Acts 22 are added below:

Introduce Yourself v2-8 - Find common ground with your audience, tell the truth, if you were well on your way to being the highest Rabbi ever to live, don't downplay your position to say you'll never find true happiness without Jesus Christ. Saul had no such God-shaped hole in his heart.

Share Your Sins v9-12 - Give a good definition of your sins, always remembering that through the law comes the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20) and why you need salvation, list the big ones first, then the smaller ones. Make sure to point them skyward! (Psalm 51:4)

Conviction v13-15 - Tell how you were introduced to the knowledge of your sins, if a light brighter than the noon-day sun shone on you (v13), or if the Word spoke to you (v14), or if your conscience convicted you (v14), or all three; the Holy Spirit loves to use this tool. (John 16:8-11)

Good News! 22v12-15 - Who and how you heard the Good News. In Paul’s case it was Ananias; who opened your eyes to the truth?

Grace 22v16 - Explain when you gained the knowledge that your sins were washed away. The truncated version in 26v16 shows the resurrection of Paul to walk in newness of life.

Fruit v17-20 - How has God used you since conversion?

Persecution v21-23 - You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you, if the world hates you, know that it hated Him first.

Defense v24-26 - Stand firm in your testimony. (John 18:37)

Call to Repentance v27-29 - Use your testimony to reach out to others that they may be made free of their spiritual bondage.

Notice specifically that Paul did not mention Hell in either of his testimonies. Paul believed fully in an eternal Hell (2 Thess 1:6-10), so the fact that he didn't mention it should be our lesson that Hell is not always necessary. Show your audience their offense against God and the reconciliation available only through Jesus Christ, then let the Holy Spirit do the rest.