Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Wolves in Wolves Clothing (Part 5)

Continued from yesterday. Observations concerning witnessing to atheists based on the debate between Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron vs Atheists Brian Sapient and "Kelly" as screened on ABC Nightline. Ray and Kirk were widely criticized by many Christians for not pulling out the heavy apologetic artillery in fighting the cause of the existence of God. But is that criticism biblically informed. In the following days I will be publishing five observations concerning the debate and how we should evangelize atheists. Here is my fourth observation:

OBSERVATION 4
The atheist already has knowledge of God and his conscience bears witness that he is alienated from Him.


The atheist can deny all he wants and try to argue from an intellectual standpoint. It is both foolish and futile to war on this front because knowledge is not the issue and some atheists are a lot smarter than I am. But try as he may, the atheist cannot explain why his conscience opposes his human nature. But we know why because God's Word tells us that God's law is written on everybodies heart and our knowledge of right and wrong testifies both to God's existence, and man's alienation from this God.

Rom 2:14 For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law.
Rom 2:15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them.

By explaining God's moral law via the ten commandments prior to explaining the Gospel message Ray and Kirk actually gave the necessary point of reference in order to understand the Gospel and in so doing avoided futile reasoning on the intellectual level. I do not mean to discount the use of the intellect but rather to use it only when an individual is humbled before God. Brian Sapient and Kelly may have mocked and laughed but they have the knowledge of God and suppress it in unrighteousness, this I know for the Bible tells me so.

It seems ironic that in a land with so many "seeker sensitive" mega churches built on a catch cry of "relevance" that they have neglected to fully explain the universal guilt of mankind. I can't think of anything more relevant than the fact that "all have sinned". Sure it might get mentioned from time to time, but rarely is it explained. Sin by definition is transgression of God's law (I John 3:4) and I fail to see how an individual could fathom their sinfulness without an understanding of God's law.

Concludes Tomorrow - Observation 5

Go On To Part 6
Go Back To Part 4
Go Back To Part 1

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Wolves in Wolves Clothing (Part 4)

Continued from yesterday. Observations concerning witnessing to atheists based on the debate between Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron vs Atheists Brian Sapient and "Kelly" as screened on ABC Nightline. Ray and Kirk were widely criticized by many Christians for not pulling out the heavy apologetic artillery in fighting the cause of the existence of God. But is that criticism biblically informed. In the following days I will be publishing five observations concerning the debate and how we should evangelize atheists. Here is my third observation:

OBSERVATION 3
The atheist already has knowledge of God but suppresses it in unrighteousness.


It is worth asking ourselves the question at this point as to whether it is a worthwhile exercise investing time in dazzling the unbeliever with wizz bang apologetics concerning God's existence when the issue is not one of knowledge but of sin.

Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Rom 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them.
Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Rom 1:21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

These verses from Romans 1 tell us "that which may be known of God is manifest" in the unbeliever "for God hath shown it unto them". They are holding "the truth in unrighteousness". And what is it that testifies God's existence to sinful men? Verse 20 tells us the answer. The "invisible" things of God are "clearly seen" in God's creation "even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse". Put simply, the creation compellingly testifies to the Creator God Himself. My disappointment with Ray and Kirk in using the argument of creation instead of "deeper and more profound apologetics" was one of biblical ignorance on my part (it is interesting to not that some atheists did call in to talk back radio after the debate and concede that they did find the creation argument compelling). It is clear to me that Ray and Kirk showed great wisdom in realising that the atheist already has knowledge of God's existence and time is better spent trying to awaken this knowledge rather than try and win an argument with him. Because the atheist's problem is not a lack of proof concerning God's existence, but rather one of human pride and a love of sin. Understanding this has helped enormously with my witnessing activities because I have stopped wasting time arguing over God's existence and spent time trying to awaken the unbelievers conscience through God's moral law that brings the knowledge of sin which leads to my next observation.

Continued Tomorrow - Observation 4

Go On To Part 5
Go Back To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Wolves in Wolves Clothing (Part 3)

Continued from yesterday. Observations concerning witnessing to atheists based on the debate between Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron vs Atheists Brian Sapient and "Kelly" as screened on ABC Nightline. Ray and Kirk were widely criticized by many Christians for not pulling out the heavy apologetic artillery in fighting the cause of the existence of God. But is that criticism biblically informed. In the following days I will be publishing five observations concerning the debate and how we should evangelize atheists. Here is my second observation:

OBSERVATION 2
A healthy understanding of our own depravity dissipates our desire to deliver a knockout punch and raises our urgency to plead with those who are lost.


Romans 3:9 asks the question "are we better than they?" and goes on to say "no, in no way" for we are "all under sin". The following verses go on to tell us that "there is none righteous" (v10), "none that seek after God" (v11), "none that do good" (v12), that the law of God "stops every mouth" from justifying and leaves the whole "world guilty before God" (v19), and that God's law brings "the knowledge of sin" (v20). A healthy grasp of this passage destroys any remaining traces of self righteousness and, with that, the need to compete with an ungodly adversary. But this passage does serve to remind me of my own guilt, that it is only an understanding of God's moral law that will stop the sinners futile self defense and, in turn, awaken his guilt before God. With this in mind, I see the biblical soundness of Ray and Kirk's approach in explaining God's moral law via the Ten Commandments prior to presenting the Christian Gospel.

Continued over the next three days - The observations that really took me by surprise.

Go On To Part 4
Go Back To Part 2
Go Back To Part 1

The Wolves in Wolves Clothing (Part 2)

Continued from yesterday. Observations concerning witnessing to atheists based on the debate between Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron vs Atheists Brian Sapient and "Kelly" as screened on ABC Nightline. Ray and Kirk were widely criticized by many Christians for not pulling out the heavy apologetic artillery in fighting the cause of the existence of God. But is that criticism biblically informed. In the following days I will be publishing five observations concerning the debate and how we should evangelize atheists. Here is my first observation:

OBSERVATION 1
As a Christian our primary calling is to preach the Gospel because the wrath of God is poised to slay our "opponent" at any moment and condemn them to eternal conscious punishment.

Most professing Christians can quote John 3:16 but are unfamiliar with the rest of the chapter. One who is familiar with John chapter 3 understands that "he that believeth not is condemned already" (John 3:18) and that "the wrath of God abideth on him" (John 3:36). The atheist spends every day on the brink of eternal torment and the cruelest approach a Christian could take would be to engage in a debate without ever proclaiming the Gospel. I applaud Ray and Kirk for leaving their egos at the door and focussing first and foremost on giving a clear proclamation of the Christian message which is the (already condemned) atheist's only hope of escaping God's wrath.

Continued Tomorrow - Observation 2

Go On To Part 3
Go Back To Part 1

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Wolves in Wolves Clothing (Part 1)

Last year, after viewing the debate on ABC between Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron and the atheists Brian Sapient and "Kelly" I found myself initially walking away with mixed emotions. The chest beating male in myself saw it as a contest of Tyson v Holyfield proportions and was cheering for my guys (Ray and Kirk) to kick some serious atheistic butt. Having been heavily influenced by Ray and Kirk's ministry I was well aware that both Ray and Kirk are fine Christian apologists who have deep familiarity with the Scriptures and are very capable at going "into the ring" with the angriest of atheists. As I watched them argue primarily from the basis of creation and human conscience pointing to a creator I found myself screaming on the inside begging them to pull out the heavy argumentative artillery and teach these atheists a lesson. Many Christian commentators felt the same and launched some stinging attacks on both Ray and Kirk and suggested that they did a poor job of defending the case for a Creator.

My thoughts were that I loved Ray and Kirk and their ministry but I was disappointed that they didn't "go for the jugular" with their opponents. They failed in their attempt to convince the American public of God's existence......... or did they. It was at this time that I was slowly working my way through the book of Romans and the Gospel of John. By the time I'd hit chapter 3 in both of these books I was convinced that my initial impression of the debate was wrong and that Ray and Kirk actually did the right thing in appealing to the idea that creation proves there is a Creator, and that the conscience reveals God's moral law written on the human heart. No one has asked me to write this, but my hope is that it would serve as a reminder as to what Scripture tells us about sinful man and what our priorities should be as the body of Christ, sinners saved by grace, embarking on the great commission.

So what happened in my travels through the early chapters of John and Romans? Over the next five days I will be discussing Five Observations about witnessing to atheists drawn from these chapters of Scripture as well as the debate that occurred between Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron, and those angry atheists. I hope that they will serve to galvanise and transform our evangelistic endeavors in the future.

Starting tomorrow: Observation 1

Go On To Part 2

Monday, April 20, 2009

Science - Still Trying to Catch Up With the Bible

The madness and sheer refusal of our "academic giants" to even consider that the Bible might be true continues unabated in the world of "evolutionary science". Evolutionary science is an oxymoron that is well and truly in the league of "jail priveledges", "post modern", and "Microsoft Works".

In a recent article by Meredith F. Small (an anthropologist at Cornell University) she informs us that "No one knows why 2-year-olds have temper tantrums". Oh really Meredith? Why don't you swing some of that grant money my way so I can get the shortest ever research article published in one of those journals. It goes like this:

Children have tantrums because they are SINNERS FROM BIRTH and SINNERS BY NATURE! Can I get my research grant now?

Is this really that hard? Once again "science" shows itself to be a lame attempt at catching up with the infallible, innerrant, Word of God. Newsflash Meredith - God is smarter than you and if you were one bazillionth as smart as Him you would listen to what He has to say about everything!

At least Paul Washer knows the answer . . .

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Great Christian Thinkers Tackling Big Issues

This was just two good to pass up. At the Ligonier's Conference last year Ravi Zacharias, Al Mohler, and RC Sproul came together discussing some hot button issues facing the Christian worldview. Listen up as they give their theological observations on evolution's compatibility with the Bible, God and evil, and the Emergent church. It's a great ride.



Favorite quote: "Evolution isn't even compatible with science" - RC Sproul



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meet Ignatius - The Ultimate Youth Pastor



It is hard to tell where the parody begins and the social commentary ends. As funny as this is, what scares me is how close it runs to the reality of my many years of being involved in youth meetings. As the youth pastor becomes more and more "jiggy with it" the Bible gets pushed further out into the periphery. Relevance becomes a code word for a low view of Scripture and serves to further build up the biblical illiteracy that is already flourishing among our church going youth.

I commented in an earlier post (John Macarthur and Mr Madonna) about when John Macarthur witnessed to Madonna's husband Guy Ritchie. Ritchie listened to Macarthur witness to him for 90 minutes. What opened the door of opportunity? It was Macarthur's provocative claim on Larry King about the exclusivity of Jesus Christ. It is our difference, our being set apart, that actually makes us relevant among a wicked and perverse generation!

The brains behind Ignatius is a comedian called Tim Hawkins. He is a guy who really has a finger on the pulse of what is going on in megachurch suburbia. And if you check out some of Travis' other stuff it seems to show a guy who, beneath the satire, seems to have a firm grasp of the things that really do matter.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Full House of Growing Pains

There is a book I recently read that turned out to be a real surprise packet. A Full House of Growing Pains has 80's and 90's nostalgia written all over it for fans of hit shows "Growing Pains" and "Full House". It is the story of Barbara Cameron who is the champion mom of four children, two of which were teen stars in the late 80's/early 90's (Kirk and Candace Cameron). It traces the journey of Barbara and her husband Robert raising four kids in LA LA land and how they kept them from being poisoned with the vanity and delusions of grandeur that just ooze out of Hollywood. I say champion mom because I find it hard to fathom how a family with two TV stars is able to come out of the Hollywood mill with egos in check and marriages intact.

This book is a great gift for unsaved friends because it feeds their voyeuristic curiosities as they get the inside scoop on the inner workings of Hollywood. It also provides valuable pointers on raising children and immunising them from the hedonism and selfish indulgence that plagues western cultures. This is great to learn because our current "global economic crisis" has it's origins in these greedy practices. But the "surprise packet" I mentioned earlier is the best part of the whole book. Those of you who know me know that I have a stable full of "hobby horses" and my favorite one to ride is the passion and purity of the Gospel. I have met Barbara and knew that God had graciously saved her, but her Gospel presentation at the end of the book just grabbed me. I really didn't expect it to be that good - but it is! This is the major reason why I am recommending this book as a gift. The Gospel presentation is neither cliched nor corny. It is passionate, biblically sound, heartfelt, and a genuine testimony of God's transforming work in saving a lost sinner - and I can never hear enough of those. Barbara has a clear understanding of the Gospel, a subject that confuses "America's pastor" (I can't say his name but his initials are Rick Warren). What's more, she's even preached open air - there must be some sort of law against being that cool.

Barbara Cameron - I award you five stars and a big cyber hug!

Friday, April 10, 2009

The One Thing that Scared Jesus

The first Easter was approaching. God incarnate was grief stricken to the point of death. The Lord prayed in the garden of Gesthemene "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Jesus Christ was fearless when confronted with the Devil, the Pharisees, the Saducees, King Herod, the Romans and their Governor. None of these intimidated the Lord as he boldly preached in their faces. But when faced with the cup of God's Holy wrath Jesus asked for another way. Mark's Gospel account reveals that Jesus petitioned the Father three times for another way than the cup of God's wrath. The wrath of God must be terrifying beyond comprehension.

It is this wrath that rests upon all unbelievers poised to strike at any moment (John 3:36). Pause and ponder that for a moment this Easter and honestly evaluate whether you value keeping the peace with an unbeliever more than informing them about the wrath that rests upon them. Jesus Christ, Who created all things, warned us with these terrifying words "do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).

It is our endless littany of sin that fills the massive cup of God's wrath to the point of overflowing. When Jesus was in the garden he stared at the unspeakable horror that lay ahead. It was not the Roman beating that disfigured Him beyond recognition (as bad as that was). Nor was it the crown of thorns that penetrated deep into His skull (as painful as that was). Nor was it the capital punishment that Roman soldiers inflicted through crucifixion (as excrutiating as that was). It was the cup of God's just and righteous wrath poured out on the only Man who never deserved it. God demonstrated His great love at Easter in dying for His Church while we were still sinning!

As we travel back to Calvary today do you see your face in the angry mob shouting "crucify Him"? Do you hear the Savior saying "Father forgive them"? Do you grasp to some small extent the transaction that took place when Jesus cried "It is finished". Come today to the hill called Calvary and survey the wondrous cross where my Savior atoned for all my sin - past, present and future. Oh how precious is the blood that my Savior shed!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bananaman vs Alienman

Ray Comfort has just lifted his offer to $20000 dollars for 30 minutes of Richard Dawkins' time to debate the existence of God. Dawkins doesn't believe in God or "the flying spaghetti monster" but he does seem to believe in "Bananaman" - so much so that he's afraid to meet him.



Ray Comfort's recent book "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence But You Can't Make Him Think" has caused quite a stir among the faith community of atheists (it takes a lot of faith to believe we came from nothing) and rocketed to #1 in Amazon's atheist category. This, of course, prompted a smear campaign of atheists bombarding Amazon's website with one star ratings for a book they've never read. Ray Comfort has done a lot of interviews and debates with respect to his book and from those I have heard so far he is doing a sterling job. I must admit, though, that you have to feel sorry for atheists in a debate - after all it's hard to argue that everything came from nothing, that order can come out of chaos, and that my great great grandmother had a hairy back. It certainly takes a lot of faith to be an atheist!

Ray Comfort was also the subject of a recent story on New Zealand's version of the current affairs program "60 Minutes". It is a really positive media piece on an evangelist. But the best part is seeing Ray riding his kid's bike to work!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Gospel Sermon Jam

With Easter fast approaching it is always good to examine ourselves. And then to carry the message outside the four walls of our homes and church buildings. Here is something to chew on from Joshua Harris - another fine young reformed preacher.



Don't avoid the hard truths and realities in an effort to avoid offending somebody - you'll probably end up offending God. There are only two times we should preach the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ - in season and out of season. As you watch the deluded masses buying chocolate eggs and celebrating time off work - don't offend God with your silence this Easter!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Don't Waste Your Financial Crisis

INDOOR OPEN AIR

As most of you know I recently lost my job due to the financial crisis. My boss was really sad to let me go and asked if there was anything he could do for me. I was inspired by James McDonald's great preaching while he has cancer, and John Piper's book "Don't Waste Your Life" and my WWRCD bracelet (what would Ray Comfort do). I asked for 5 minutes in the lunch room to speak to all the workers on my last day. The subject - the bigger crisis that's coming - the law of sin and death. It was scary for several reasons - it was not in public space, these were people who spoke with me often, and I had to do it in Danish. There was about 30-40 people in the lunch room of which 2 stormed out of the room in disgust. The rest sat and listened. What follows is the video my wife took of what happened - I have inserted subtitles to help you along.



One funny thing that I found out after I finished. 2 words that look almost identical but are very different.
Faldskaerm = Parachute
Fladskaerm = Flat screen television

Guess what I told everyone to cling to when they jump out of that plane.

That's right - I told them to trust Jesus like they would a flat screen television!! It seems they got the point anyway and made allowances for my struggle with the Danish language.

I hope this is an encouragement not to waste the preaching opportunities that arise out of unfortunate circumstances.