Answer: “They Can’t”

Justin Taylor reasons (along with the Apostle Paul!): How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? —Romans 10:14-15 Break it down into simple theo-logical propositions and it looks like this: No one can call upon Jesus if he doesn’t believe in Jesus. No one can believe Jesus or believe in Jesus if he hasn’t heard Jesus or heard of Jesus. No one can hear Jesus or hear of Jesus if no one preaches Jesus to him. No one can preach Jesus to the unreached unless he is sent. One implication: if you care about people hearing the gospel, believing in Jesus, and calling upon his name—especially where he is not yet named (Rom. 15:20)—then you cannot be indifferent to the twin tasks of “going and telling” and/or “supporting and sending.” “And [Jesus] said to

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Quantity of Disciples or Quality of Discipleship?

From Colin Hansen: Some churches excel in raising up a large number of disciples. Others are known for their strong quality of discipleship. What accounts for this difference? James MacDonald, Mark Dever, and Matt Chandler discuss in this roundtable video how God has particularly gifted them as pastors and how they relate to other evangelical churches with different strengths. Chandler talks about what he learned from leading a young church with a swelling number of new converts with few experienced Christians to train them. MacDonald and Dever share how they honor other churches in their area, such as Willow Creek and McLean Bible, even while disagreeing over important aspects of ministry practice. In so doing they demonstrate their belief that the kingdom of Christ in a city is larger than any one church. Watch as these three pastors explain how they facilitate spiritual depth among church members while trusting God to take care of width of influence.

The Paradox of Evangelism

Randy Newman writes: There is a paradox about evangelism. Actually there are several but I’ll only mention one here. It starts with the realization that evangelism is impossible. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44). Jesus also said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Given those realities, we need to see that evangelism requires at least two miracles. In my life, God must work supernaturally in order for me to say anything or do anything that could possibly connect to regeneration. In the life of the person hearing the gospel, God must work the miracle of raising them from the dead. (see Ephesians 2:1 “…we were dead…”). Thus, when we step into the process of evangelism, we are entering the world of the impossible. But our God specializes in doing the impossible. So the paradox of evangelism is that when we remember that evangelism is impossible,

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What is the danger of altar calls?

Paul Alexander writes: The altar call confuses “coming forward” with coming to Christ. In order to be saved, people must repent of their sins and believe in Christ, which has nothing to do with walking down an aisle. The altar call may deceive people about their spiritual state. The altar call encourages people to think that they have been saved because they’ve come forward and prayed a prayer. But this isn’t necessarily true:the outward response of coming down to the front is no guarantee of genuine faith and repentance. So, the altar call may lead people who haven’t repented of their sins and trusted in Christ to think they’re Christians. The altar call may encourage people to base their assurance of salvation on their decision—a one-time event in the past—rather than on Christ’s work for us and in us. The altar call confuses “coming forward” with baptism. According to the New Testament, baptism is the way Christians are to publicly profess their

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Round-table discussion with Sproul and Ferguson, et al

Watch as R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Teaching Fellows Sinclair Ferguson, Robert Godfrey, Steven Lawson, and R.C. Sproul Jr. engage in this round-table discussion (May 19, 2011) covering topics such as dispensationalism, regeneration, election, evangelism, and Harold Camping. Very highly recommended. (HT: Reformation Theology)

Hell Hesitant – Changing Attitudes in the UK

From Colin Adams: In light of the late discussion about Rob Bell’s new book, it is interesting to observe changing views among confessing Christians in the UK.  The Evangelical Alliance surveyed 17,000 people at various Christian festivals in the UK. They compiled the results in a report called 21st century Evangelicals. Some of the results? Only 54% of those consulted believe that the Bible, in its original manuscript, is without error. Only 59% believe that homosexual actions are always wrong. 51% think that women should be eligible for all roles within the church. And only 37% still believe that hell is a place where those condemned will suffer eternally. This last topic was the issue on which, the report said, ‘there is the greatest uncertainty’. The shift away from Scripture is, to say the least, concerning. It seems that any doctrines we 21st century folk are uncomfortable with can be jettisoned from our statements of faith at a moment’s notice. The

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Finding Forgiveness?

I’m re-posting this powerful scene from ER which shows the futility of postmodern/liberal theology: This is a great clip from an old episode of “ER.” It shows the impotency of postmodern/liberal gobbledygook theology. Best line: “I want a real chaplain who believes in a real God and a real hell!… I need answers! And all your questions and uncertainty are making things worse!” (HT: Denny Burk)

How Responsible Are We When the World Rejects Our Message?

From John Piper: It is a humble impulse to feel that our weak effect on people is our own fault. And it may often be true. There are character traits in speakers that God uses to overcome resistance in hearers (Acts 11:24; Matthew 5:16). But we must not bear more than we should. Not all rejection of us and our message is our fault. The apostle John writes, The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1) John does not say: The reason the world does not know us is that we are hypocrites, or that our contextualization is inadequate. He says: If the world rejected Jesus, the perfect manifestation of love, then there are times it will reject us, precisely because our message and manner are getting close to Christ’s. Keep the humble reaction. But balance it with this truth, lest you despair and give up speaking.

You must be born again

“You must be born again.”  John 3:7 You.  This is personal.  If I resent it as threatening, that could be evidence I have not been born again.  If my heart welcomes the approach of this truth and waves the white flag of surrender, that could be evidence I have been born again. Must.  This is authoritative.  If I take evasive action, that could be evidence I have not been born again.  If I breathe a sigh of relief that finally Someone is telling me the truth and taking me in hand, that could be evidence I have been born again. Be born again.  This is passive.  I need more than self-correction; I need a miracle deep within.  I need God to call into existence within me a new aliveness to God, new tastes, new desires, new openness and humility and fears and hopes, such as I have never experienced before and cannot conjure up out of my admirable upbringing and

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The one inestimable gift

“If we have regarded religion merely as a means of getting things — even lofty and unselfish things — then when the things that have been gotten are destroyed, our faith will fail. When loved ones are taken away, when disappointment comes and failure, when noble ambitions are set at naught, then we turn away from God. We have tried religion, we say, we have tried prayer, and it has failed. Of course it has failed! God is not content to be an instrument in our hand or a servant at our beck and call. Has it never dawned on us that God is valuable for His own sake, that just as personal communion is the highest thing that we know on earth, so personal communion with God is the sublimest height of all? If we value God for His own sake, then the loss of other things will draw us all the closer to Him; we shall then have

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How Being Saved by Grace Frees Us to Share the Gospel

Tim Keller, Gospel in Life: Grace Changes Everything, p. 201 (my italics): The gospel produces a constellation of traits in us: We are compelled to share the gospel out of love. We are freed from the fear of being ridiculed or hurt by others, since we already have the favor of God by grace. There is a humility in our dealings with others, because we know we are saved only by grace, not because of our superior insight or character. We are hopeful about anyone, even the “hard cases,” because we were saved only because of grace ourselves. We are courteous and careful with people. We don’t have to push or coerce them, for it is God’s grace that opens hearts, not our eloquence or persistence or even their openness. (HT: Justin Taylor)

Evangelism = Theology in Action

“Evangelism and theology for the most part go separate ways, and the result is great loss for both. When theology is not held on course by the demands of evangelistic communication, it grows abstract and speculative, wayward in method, theoretical in interest and irresponsible in stance. When evangelism is not fertilized, fed and controlled by theology, it becomes a stylized performance seeking its effect through manipulative skills rather than the power of vision and the force of truth. Both theology and evangelism are then, in one important sense, unreal, false to their own God-given nature; for all true theology has an evangelistic thrust, and all true evangelism is theology in action.” J.I. Packer (HT: Monergism)

Sharing the gospel

by Tim Chester . Here are two frameworks that may help talk about the gospel in the context of ordinary conversations. . Four points of intersection Everyone has their own version of the ‘gospel’ story: . creation – who I am or who I should be fall – what’s wrong with me and the world redemption – what’s the solution consummation – what I hope for . When we hear people expressing their version of creation, fall, redemption or consummation, we can talk about the gospel story. Talking about Jesus begins with listening to other people’s stories and sharing our own story of Jesus. . Four liberating truths . Everyone’s behaviour is shaped by what they believe. We can listen out for the beliefs that shape people’s behaviour and shape their hurts and hopes. This then allows us to speak of the liberating truth of God which counters the lies upon which people build their lives and which eventually fail

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