• 06 Nov 2021 11:04 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Here are some of those “coincidences” or “stuff” Dever says “just seems to happen” in Esther:

    • Esther just happens to be Jewish, and she just happens to be beautiful.
    • Esther just happens to be favored by the king.
    • Mordecai just happens to overhear the plot against the king’s life.
    • A report of this just happens to be written in the king’s chronicles.
    • Haman just happens to notice that Mordecai does not kneel down before him, and he just happens to find out that Mordecai is a Jew.
    • When Haman plots his revenge, the dice just happen to indicate that the date for exacting revenge is put off for almost a year! (What does Prov 16:33 say? “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”)
    • Esther just happens to get the king’s approval to speak, but then she happens to put off her request for another day.
    • Her deferral just happens to send Haman out by Mordecai one more time, …
    • … which just happens to cause him to recount it to his friends.
    • They, in turn, just happen to encourage him to build a scaffold immediately!
    • So Haman just happens to be excited to approach the king early the next morning.
    • It just so happens that the previous night, the mighty king could not command a moment’s sleep, …
    • … and he just happened to have had a book brought to him that recounted Mordecai’s deed.
    • He then happened to ask whether Mordecai had been rewarded, to which his attendants happened to know the answer. Simply consider for a moment the fact that Mordecai happened not to have been rewarded for having saved the king’s life. How unusual this must have been! Someone who saved the king’s life never rewarded? I wonder if Mordecai ever chafed under that: “Doesn’t he realize what I did for him?” Well, it all just happened.
    • Haman happens to approach the king just when the king is wondering how Mordecai should be honored.
    • Later on the king happens to return to the queen just when Haman happens to be pleading with Esther in a way that can be misconstrued.
    • The gallows Haman built for Mordecai just happens to be ready when King Xerxes wants to hang Haman (Dever, The Message of the Old Testament, 455–56; emphasis original).

    All of these “coincidences” show that the events in Esther are not determined by chance but by control, not by luck but by the Lord. To see it any other way is dangerous. — Landon Dowden, Exalting Jesus in Esther (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2019).

    Bible Study on Esther

  • 05 Nov 2021 9:06 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Once upon a time, the devil decided to destroy the world. He called in all his little devils to make the plans. Anger came first and asked to be allowed to do the job by setting brother against brother. He would make people angry with one another, and they would destroy themselves. Then Lust came and offered to go. He would defile minds, turn people into beasts by causing love to disappear. Next, Greed spoke and offered to destroy humankind with the most destructive of passions: uncontrolled desires. Gluttony and Drunkenness offered to disease bodies and minds and then destroy them. Idleness, Hatred, and Envy each claimed that they could do the job.

    The devil was not satisfied with any one of them, but then the last assistant came. He said, “I will talk with people persuasively in terms of all that God wants them to be. I will tell them how fine their plans are to be honest, clean, and brave. I will encourage them in the good purposes of life!” The devil was aghast at such talk. However, the assistant continued: “But I will tell them there is no hurry. They can do all of these things tomorrow. I will advise them to wait until conditions become more favorable before they start!” The devil replied, “You are the one who shall go to earth to destroy humankind!” The assistant’s name was Procrastination.

    Failure’s most successful strategy is procrastination. Now is the best time to be alive and productive. If you want to make an easy job seem difficult, just keep putting off doing it.

    John Mason, Believe You Can--the Power of a Positive Attitude (Grand Rapids, MI: Revell, 2010).

  • 04 Nov 2021 7:15 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    This is a “three-day story.” The first day is a very dark day. It looks as if the God of Israel is defeated and the glory is gone. In fact, there is a very poignant episode. After they lose the battle and the ark is captured and the old priest Eli dies, his daughter, the old new atheist, names her son Ichabod. “The whole thing is a pipe dream. Abraham was deluded. Moses was just wandering around in the wilderness. There is no God, no Yahweh. No glory. Life doesn’t mean anything. You’re born. You die. That’s it. Our son may as well know that as soon as he’s grown up. Ichabod. Glory’s gone.” That’s the first day. Heaven is silent. No hope. No glory. No one can understand why. Some days are like that.

    Then there is the second day, a day of hidden combat. It is shrouded in mystery. It is the day Dagon falls down but gets propped back up. It is a day of ambiguity and anxiety. Some days are like that.

    But this is a third-day story. On the third day, the story takes a 180-degree turn. The idol is overturned. The time of captivity is over. God is going to come home to his people because the third day is God’s day. That’s the day of hope. He’s the “third-day God.” This part of the story gets a little earthy — I would apologize for it, but it comes out of the text. God sent a plague that involved mice.

    What the Philistines are afflicted with is hard to translate: The New International Version has “tumors,” kind of a polite choice. The Modern Language Bible is a little more literal: “The LORD’s hand lay heavy on the Ashdodites. He punished them with hemorrhoids, both at Ashdod and in its suburbs” (1 Samuel 5:6). The King James Version is just slightly more delicate: “they had hemorrhoids in their secret parts” (5:9; that’s where they usually go). The obvious question is, why would this detail make it into the Bible? What got into whoever was writing this material?

    This detail is a very deliberate part of the story — here’s why. These were the Philistines — Israel’s enemies. There were very powerful; they had Iron Age technology. The writer wants the readers to know: Don’t be afraid of your enemies. Don’t envy them. Don’t try to be like them.

    If for a while it looked like the Philistines were going to come out on top, don’t be deceived. That was first-day stuff. Third day was coming.

    The writer wants us to know that in the presence of God’s judgment, the Philistines were embarrassingly human. All their iron swords, spears, and shields did them no good, because what they really needed was inflatable cushions to sit on, and while the Iron Age had arrived, the Inflatable Cushion Age was still centuries away.

    One of the ways you can divide up Bible stories is by their time frame. One kind of story is the forty-day story. These are usually “wait-around-and-learn-patience” stories. Noah’s family was in the ark for forty days and nights of rain; the Israelites hung around Mount Sinai forty days waiting for the Ten Commandments; Elijah spent forty days in the wilderness hiding out from Jezebel. Jesus began his ministry by spending forty days in the wilderness; after the resurrection he and the disciples spent another forty days waiting for his ascension and then the coming of the Holy Spirit. The focus of these stories is on the need for people to be faithful, to persevere. Forty-day stories are Crock-Pot stories.

    But there is another kind of story: the three-day story. These are stories about crisis and urgency — microwave stories. The focus here is not on the need for a human response at all. Here the pressure is so crushing that God must show up to rescue — or it’s curtains. Three-day stories are stories of desperate need and anticipation and hope hanging by a thread.

    When a hero named Joseph was in prison, he said to Pharaoh’s cupbearer, “Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position” (Genesis 40:13).

    When Israel was trapped in slavery, Moses asked Pharaoh, “Let us take a three-day journey into the desert” (Exodus 5:3).

    When the Israelites arrive at Sinai, God said, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. . . . And be ready the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people” (Exodus 19:10 – 11).

    When Israel was afraid to go into the Promised Land, God said to Israel, “Be strong and courageous. . . . Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the LORD your God is giving you for your own” (Joshua 1:6, 11).

    When Israel was threatened with genocide, Queen Esther said that she would fast for three days then go to the king to seek deliverance for her people.

    Want to take a guess on how long Jonah was in the belly of the big fish? Yep, he was in there three days before he was released. His prayer the whole time he was in that big fish was, “God, just let me go out the way I came in.” At least I think that’s probably what his prayer was.

    The third day was used so frequently in this way that it became kind of a technical expression meaning a time to wait for deliverance. “Right now, things are messed up. Right now, hope is being crushed. Right now, hearts are disappointed. But a better day is coming.”

    In the book of Hosea, the prophet says it like this: “Come, let us return to the LORD. . . . After two days, he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence” (Hosea 6:1 – 2).

    John Ortberg, Know Doubt: Embracing Uncertainty in Your Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014).

  • 01 Nov 2021 8:56 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Joseph had to pursue God’s definition of success even when everything around him appeared to be headed for failure. Joseph was not being treated as number one when his father sent him to check on his brothers and the flocks in Shechem. Joseph was his father’s errand boy at that point—a messenger, or in our terms today, a guy in the mailroom. He was at the bottom rung on the ladder, asked to do a task that any servant could have done for Jacob.

    Was Joseph a success in his search for his brothers? Yes, but not entirely by his own ability. He found his brothers with a little help from a man he stopped to ask along the way.

    Was Joseph a success when his brothers responded to his arrival by throwing him into a pit, intending to leave him for dead, and then later deciding to sell him as a slave to a passing band of Midianite traders? Yes. On what basis was he a success? He continued to trust God and to live as a person of honor and integrity. How do we know that was his response? Because the Bible says he served Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard, in such an honorable way that Potiphar knew “the LORD was with Joseph, and he was a successful man” (Gen. 39:2). Potiphar took as a sign of Joseph’s success that the Lord made “all he did to prosper in his hand” (Gen. 39:3).

    Was Joseph a success when Potiphar’s wife attempted to seduce him and Joseph refused her offers and ran from her presence, leaving his garment behind—an act that resulted in his being falsely accused and sent to a place where the king’s prisoners were confined? Yes, Joseph was still a success. How do we know? Because Joseph continued to obey God in the prison, and the Lord “showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison” (Gen. 39:21). Joseph was put in charge of all the prisoners and had great authority in that prison “because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper” (Gen. 39:23).

    Was Joseph a success when he interpreted the two dreams of Pharaoh’s butler and baker? Yes. His interpretations of the dreams were right on target.

    Was Joseph a success even though the butler forgot his promise to tell Pharaoh about Joseph for two long years? Yes. Joseph continued to trust God, and when the time came for Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s strange dream, he was ready. The Lord revealed to him the meaning of the dream, and in a day, Joseph went from being a prisoner to being the number–two man in Egypt. Pharaoh said to Joseph,

    Inasmuch as God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and wise as you. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you … See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt. (Gen. 41:39–41)

    Certainly Joseph may not have felt successful when he was on a journey into slavery in Egypt or when he was cast into Pharaoh’s prison. But in God’s eyes, Joseph had not failed, and God’s purposes for him were continuing to unfold. Later, when Joseph had an opportunity to provide again for his father and brothers and their families in a time of severe famine, Joseph concluded,

    God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you who sent me here, but God; and He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt. (Gen. 45:7–8)

    Joseph knew that the Lord had planned and provided for his success.

    What is the general success pattern that we see in Joseph’s life? It is a pattern of vision followed by years of faithful preparation, trust, and obedience resulting in years of service, authority, and reward.

    We see this pattern in the lives of a number of Christian leaders through the centuries. Many men and women can say, “I had a dream when I was a child,” or “God placed this on my heart when I was just a young teenager,” or “I felt the call of God on my life when I was just a youngster.” These same men and women spent years in training, studying, and preparing themselves, and perhaps even years of work and ministry—sometimes in very small churches, in out–of–the–way mission stations, in rural areas, in menial tasks for a ministry organization. And then the time came when God seemed to say, “You’re ready now. I am moving you into the limelight. I am bringing you to the forefront. Now is the hour for which you have been prepared.

    Charles F. Stanley, Success God’s Way (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers, 2000).

  • 28 Oct 2021 3:31 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. Psalm 47:8

    God reigns over the entire earth. He is not just the God of the east or the God of the west. He is the God of the north, south, east and west. The long arm of the Lord reigns over everyone. The sun never sets on the omnipresent shadow of our Savior Jesus. Indeed, He is the greatest in power, high and lofty in dominion, extremely eminent in wisdom and elevated in excellence of glory. Our God reigns. Our God reigns. He reigns in war. He reigns in peace. He reigns in crisis. He reigns in calm. He reigns in economic catastrophe. He reigns in economic prosperity. Our God reigns. He reigns over evil. He reigns over good. He reigns over nations. He reigns over individuals. Our God reigns.

    Moreover, He reigns from His holy throne. His is not a throne soiled with corruption and self-serving scenarios. His throne is full of grace and truth. His throne is marked and defined by holiness. It is a throne that has never been stained with sin, corrupted by cover up or defiled by injustice. God is seated on His holy throne. He never sits dismayed or in a dilemma. God does not ring His hands in worry. He sits in serenity for He knows His own power, and He sees that His purposes will not miscarry. He sits on a throne that dispenses truth and wisdom. Therefore, approach His holy throne boldly but reverently.

    Furthermore, God reigns over the human heart. It is here that we can submit to or spurn the Almighty’s authority. We are wise to jettison the latter. It is in submission to our reigning King Jesus that we come to know His will for our lives. Obedience leads to opportunity. Because our God reigns, He can be trusted. His rules are for our good pleasure. Christ is not a cosmic killjoy. His rules are inviting when we are in right relationship with our reigning King. It is when we resist Him that we foolishly push back from His gracious guidelines. Therefore, love Him and you will love to follow His statutes. Indeed, our God reigns in love and holiness. It is easy to follow an unconditional lover. He reigns lovingly.

    Therefore, we have reason to celebrate Christ’s reign. His kingship brings praise to our lips. Our Lord reigns. Hallelujah! We have no real reason to worry and to stress out because our God reigns. We can put the kibosh on our complaining and murmuring because our God reigns. We can rest in a peaceful sleep at night, and not toss and turn in distrust because our God reigns. We can let go of control and not be controlled because our God reigns. We can give Him our grief, sorrow, and sin because our God reigns.

    Our God reigns for the purpose of His glory and His glory alone. It is all about Him and His eternal aspirations. Our God reigns for righteousness sake. Our God reigns for the sake of the gospel. Live like He reigns. Live free and by faith. Tell all whom you have earned the right to tell. Your God reigns. Validate your words with your life of faith and faithfulness. Your God reigns. He reigns now and for evermore. Amen and amen!

    Boyd Bailey, Seeking God in the Psalms (Atlanta: Wisdom Hunters, 2013).

  • 27 Oct 2021 11:23 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Embracing the cross and embracing Jesus are inseparable realties. A few verses later in Luke, Jesus comments on this connection:

    For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:26 NKJV)

    I came across the following declaration several years ago and am always challenged when I read it. Read it slowly and see how your life compares:

    The Fellowship of the Unashamed

    I’m part of the fellowship of the unashamed, I have the Holy Spirit power, the die has been cast, I have stepped over the line, the decision has been made: I’m a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won’t look back, let up, slow down, back away, or be still.

    My past is redeemed, my present makes sense, my future is secure. I’m finished and done with low living, sight walking, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tamed visions, worldly talking, cheap giving, and dwarfed goals.

    I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or popularity. I do not have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised, regarded, or rewarded. I now live by faith, lean in His presence, walk by patience, am uplifted by prayer, and I labor with power.

    My face is set, my gait is fast, my goal is heaven, my road is narrow, my way is rough, my companions are few, my guide is reliable, my mission is clear. I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I have stayed up, stored up, prayed up for the cause of Jesus Christ.

    I must go till He comes, give till I drop, preach till everyone knows, work till He stops me, and when He comes for His own, He will have no trouble recognizing me because my banner will have been clear.

    These words were found in the possession of a young African after he was martyred for his faith in Zimbabwe.10 He denied himself, took up his cross and fully followed Jesus.

    Would you be willing to die for Jesus Christ? Obviously, you would never really die for Jesus unless you are unashamedly speaking up for Jesus right now.

    Dave Earley, “Embracing the Cross: Declaration,” in Disciple Making Is . . .: How to Live the Great Commission with Passion and Confidence (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2013).

  • 27 Oct 2021 10:12 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    THUS NO ONE CHOOSES in the abstract to go to hell or even to be the kind of person who belongs there. But their orientation toward self leads them to become the kind of person for whom away-from-God is the only place for which they are suited. It is a place they would, in the end, choose for themselves, rather than come to humble themselves before God and accept who he is. Whether or not God’s will is infinitely flexible, the human will is not. There are limits beyond which it cannot bend back, cannot turn or repent.

    One should seriously inquire if to live in a world permeated with God and the knowledge of God is something they themselves truly desire. If not, they can be assured that God will excuse them from his presence. They will find their place in the “outer darkness” of which Jesus spoke. But the fundamental fact about them will not be that they are there, but that they have become people so locked into their own self-worship and denial of God that they cannot want God.

    Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002), 57.

  • 22 Oct 2021 8:20 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    The Need to Overhaul Our Evangelism Paradigms

    Something is missing today in our approach to evangelism. Methods and tools used in the sixties and seventies don’t have the impact they once did. Our models for evangelism need an overhaul. While proclaiming the Gospel may be relatively simple, getting to that proclamation is not. Worse yet, we now live at a time when people may think we are evil for believing there is only one way to heaven. As a result, it’s imperative that we modify our existing models to include other elements necessary for success. Such a paradigm shift is needed for at least three reasons.

    Many People Are Less Interested in a Simple Presentation of the Gospel

    First, there is less and less interest in the Gospel message itself. Consequently, Christians today find their traditional approaches to evangelism somewhat limiting. It was common 30 to 40 years ago to use a simple tract to share the Gospel with others, especially on college campuses. Many baby boomers were won to Christ back in their youth because someone shared the Gospel with them in this way. Today it is much more difficult to reach people by just sharing a simple four-point Gospel presentation. This is true of people in the East or West.

    The director for a large Christian ministry on a campus in the US once confessed to me (David), “Only on a good day do I help someone take a step closer to Christ.” Expectations have changed, even among college workers in the last 30 years. A former seminary student of mine in Singapore suggested that something is missing in our approach to reaching students in the East. She said, “As a campus ministry staff person, I am trained in using a simple Gospel presentation and some apologetic skills, but I have problems trying to integrate them during evangelism. When people indicate that they are not interested, I can only ask them for the reason and then invite them for an evangelistic Bible study or share my personal testimony.” She felt limited in her ability to reach students with the training she had received in evangelism, especially with those who were not yet ready to hear about Christ.

    A former country evangelism director for a large college ministry in Asia confessed how the training we gave her and her staff have helped her to be successful, now that she is back in the workplace. After using some traditional approaches in witnessing to her colleagues and seeing some resistance, she remembered what she had learned and, as a result, saw greater spiritual openness. “The more I thought about what happened,” she said to us, “the more I realized that in today’s generation, people would generally not give Christians a full uninterrupted ten minutes to share the Gospel with them. It is more likely that we share the Gospel through injecting it into normal conversations of everyday life.”

    We are not advocating that we get rid of all the evangelistic tools we’ve used in the past. God can and does use these tools with those who have some receptivity to the Gospel. What is needed today, however, is a tool that can supplement what we already know about evangelism, especially when presenting the Gospel to those who are indifferent, skeptical, or even hostile to the claims of Christ. Not everyone is at the same point in their openness to the Gospel, and we need to use different approaches depending on someone’s spiritual openness.

    The World We Live in Has Changed

    The second reason we need to develop a new model of evangelism is that the world we live in has changed in ways that often create barriers to the Gospel. The world today can be characterized by a rejection of moral absolutes, a deep religious skepticism, and an indifference or outright rejection of objective truth.

    The Rejection of Moral Absolutes. Sheryl Crow’s song, “Every Day Is a Winding Road,” sums up the situation well in these words: “These are the days that anything goes.”1 We live in a different world than our parents did, a different world with a different and relativistic value system. Unfortunately, our young people have discarded many of the moral values that make up the fabric of our society. This rejection of moral beliefs has caused some major repercussions to our effectiveness in evangelism.

    Cultural anthropologist Gene Veith says, “It is hard to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to people who believe that, since morality is relative, they have no sins to forgive … It is not the lunatic fringe rejecting the very concept of (absolute) truth, but two-thirds of the American people.”2 Another has said, “As we approach the twenty-first century, it does not take a rocket scientist to recognize that our entire culture is in trouble. We are staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, and we can no longer afford to act like it’s loaded with blanks.”3

    One of the characters in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s classic novel The Brothers Karamazov contends that if there is no God, everything is permitted. Unfortunately, this pervasive perspective has led to many serious consequences. Newspapers remind us daily of the painful repercussions of a culture teetering toward not only financial bankruptcy but more importantly moral bankruptcy.

    It is especially difficult to share Christ with those who have been brought up in an atmosphere of relativism. An increasing number of non-Christians regard our message as irrelevant, judgmental, or no better than any other perspective. As a result, many in our culture are pre-disposed to not even give the message of Christ a hearing. This makes our task in evangelism more difficult than ever. Those who have been inoculated against the very concept of ultimate truth may be indifferent to the “Good News” if they do not realize there is such a thing as “bad news.” Consequently, we must defend the concept of absolute truth as we try to explain more clearly to those we witness to why we believe that Christianity is true and other religions are false.

    But it is not just the irreligious we need to worry about today. Even many church people are having a difficult time swallowing the idea that absolute truth exists. More Bible-believing, self-described “evangelical Christians” than ever before now think there are ways to heaven other than Jesus.4 Some who call themselves Christians also have a hard time believing that God’s standard for reconciliation is perfection (Matthew 5:48; James 2:10), a standard impossible for any human to attain. Rather than seeing this as a motivation to embrace the cross of Christ and His atonement for our sins, many will lower God’s standards and try to convince themselves that if their good deeds outweigh their bad, this will create a big enough crack to allow them through the door of heaven.

    Skepticism Toward Truth. We also live in a world that is becoming increasingly more skeptical about objective truth, especially religious truth. This skepticism is especially prevalent in the academic community. We must follow the lead of the biblical men of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Part of understanding the times we live in is to realize that people generally do not take at face value what we say is true, especially if it is religious truth. It is common to believe that something cannot be known to be true unless it can be verified through the scientific method of repeated observations. Furthermore, a great number claim that we can’t come to any conclusion about any religious truth.

    This skeptical disposition has led many to question whether we can really know that what was said about Jesus actually happened 2000 years ago. After I gave a student some evidence for Christ’s resurrection, he said, “If I were living at the time of Christ, I could make decisions about who Jesus is, but it’s been 2000 years. So, we cannot really make decisions like that anymore.”

    In the last ten years, with the onslaught of books, movies, and documentaries such as The Da Vinci Code, The Gospel of Judas, and The Lost Tomb of Jesus, and with the resurgence of atheism in our culture, skepticism about the history of the Christian faith is at an all-time high. In general, people in the first century did not have the obstacles that we have 2000 years later to believe what the New Testament writers recorded about the life of Christ. Even some non-Christian writers at that time acknowledged that Jesus was a wonder worker.5

    The apostles and disciples also did not have to prove the existence of God or the possibility of miracles to their Jewish and god-fearing Greek audiences; most of them already believed in a theistic God. They also believed that something miraculous happened as evidenced by the empty tomb. This was common knowledge of the time.

    Nonbelievers nowadays struggle with the question, “Can we know truth at all, even if it does exist?” Some people today deny that we can even know historical truths of recent times, such as the Holocaust, even though there are still people alive who survived Nazi prison camps.6 This overarching skepticism of reality itself in our society has made our task of evangelism more difficult in this new millennium. I remember one day trying to witness to a college student who was trying to convince me he didn’t even exist. So I wasn’t surprised that he had difficulty taking seriously anything the Bible had to say about him or about Jesus.

    An Indifference Toward Truth. Our society has not only rejected truth and moral absolutes and developed a deep skepticism, especially regarding religious matters, but it has also developed indifference toward truth in general. The main problem in evangelism today is the “ever-increasing number of people who are simply not interested in hearing about Jesus because they are quite happy with their own views.”7 As a result, some will say, “It’s nice for you that you believe in truth,” or “It’s nice that it works for you, but it doesn’t work for me or mean anything to me. It may certainly be true for you, but not for me.”8

    One international student said, “I agree with the point that religion is good for society … but what that religion is is not that important. It’s better to have people believe in something, rather than nothing. After I came to the US, I found that people who believe in God are generally better off than those who believe in nothing. But it has nothing to do with the existence of God. It’s a kind of social psychology.”

    These events should be no surprise to those who believe the words of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:3–4, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” This was true in the first century, but it is even truer today. As the moral fabric of our society deteriorates, we will need to do more to supplement our evangelism just to get a hearing.

    These are global changes. The sad truth is that the tsunami of postmodernism is sweeping from the West to the East with devastating impact. Today Eastern and Western cultures are looking more and more alike and losing their distinctions in an increasingly pluralistic world.

    A former seminary student in the East, who is a college worker at a church in Singapore, sent the following urgent email one day about her difficulties in witnessing to college students.

    Many students [in Singapore] don’t think that there is a standard of right and wrong. Rather, they believe that this is up to the individual. This means they do hold a standard of right and wrong themselves, but they feel that each person’s standard of right and wrong differs from the other. Personally, I feel stuck as to how to proceed on with the conversation. It’s like saying that this food is nice for me but may not be nice for you. They relegate the standard of right and wrong to personal preference. I find that I’m shaken. Not in terms of my faith, but in terms of how to answer such questions.

    It is clear that our approach needs an overhaul. Is the church ready to respond to these postmodern influences, especially in the way it goes about doing evangelism today?

    An Increasing Intolerance Toward Those Who Believe in Absolute Truth

    Third, the world’s perspective on those who believe in an absolute truth has also made our task more daunting. Not only do we live in a world characterized by a rejection of moral absolutes, deep skepticism, and an indifference to or rejection of truth, there is also intolerance toward those who claim to know the truth. For us as Christians to claim that Jesus is the only way to God sounds arrogant and intolerant to our non-Christian postmodern friends.9 We are considered arrogant to even proclaim that we know the truth. Worse, it proves that we claim to be better than others or at the very least that we are intolerant of other beliefs.

    If you add up all these factors, it is clear that our evangelistic task today is more daunting than ever before. It is also clear that our approach to evangelism in the new millennium needs to be repackaged to be more effective. Specifically, we need to add a new element to more effectively communicate the Gospel to this postmodern generation. This essential element to be added is pre-evangelism, or what we call here conversational pre-evangelism.

    David Geisler and Norman Geisler, Conversational Evangelism: How to Listen and Speak so You Can Be Heard (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2014), 19–25.

  • 21 Oct 2021 2:07 PM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    Sixth, we should actively seek for opportunities to transition from pre-evangelism to direct evangelism and share the Gospel. Here we can integrate this pre-evangelism model into whatever method we are using to explain the Gospel. Sometimes when transitioning from pre-evangelism to evangelism, it is helpful to ask, “Has anyone ever explained to you the difference between Christianity and all other religions? I can explain the difference using just two words—do versus done.”21 This is a helpful approach because it likely will create some curiosity with those you are speaking to. They may wonder how you can explain the difference using only two words.

    All the religions in the world, except for Christianity, say “do this” to get to heaven (or the equivalent). Muslims say, “Your good deeds have to outweigh your bad deeds.” Hindus say, “You have to overcome karma and reincarnations by doing good works.” Buddhists say, “You need to get rid of desire through an eight-fold path.” All the religions of the world say you have to do something.

    Christianity, on the other hand, is not about doing something but about what has already been done. The Bible teaches us that there is nothing we can do to earn a relationship with God. No matter how good I am or what I do for God, it will never be enough to earn the right to have a relationship with Him (Ephesians 2:8–9; Titus 3:5). That is why the focus in Christianity is not on do but done. Jesus provided the sacrifice to atone for my sins (Romans 5:8). My responsibility is to accept what God has done for me and allow Christ to come into my life (John 1:12) and change me from the inside out—not in my own power, but in His strength (Philippians 2:13; 4:13).

    If the analogy of “Do versus Done” causes your nonbelieving friends to be open to talk about Christ, you can then offer them a more detailed explanation of the Gospel, whether you use a Bible or maybe a tract you’re familiar with. Your pre-evangelism becomes seamlessly and effectively woven into your evangelism and witnessing style.

    In order to build a bridge to the Gospel, it is helpful to keep these six steps in mind:

    • find the right balance in your approach
    • find common ground
    • construct a bridge (both head and heart)
    • memorize an outline
    • remember the goal
    • actively seek to transition from pre-evangelism to direct evangelism

    By utilizing these six steps over time, you may find your nonbelieving friends making real progress in their spiritual journey to the cross.

    Conversational Evangelism in a Nutshell

    In brief, Conversational Evangelism involves listening carefully to others, learning their story, and hearing the gaps in their beliefs and then illuminating those gaps by asking questions to help clarify their beliefs and surface uncertainty and expose the weaknesses of their perspective. Then, we want to dig up their history and uncover their underlying barriers to Christ and build a bridge to the Gospel (1 Corinthians 3:6).

    We must always begin with hearing conversations. Yet knowing what to do next is more of an art than a science. We may want to ask illuminating questions about the discrepancies we hear or we may next want to dig up their history a little to find out how they came to be on their current path before we ask any questions that help them to surface the truth for themselves. Each situation is different, and one approach may not work as well as another. We need to be sensitive to God’s leading and ask Him for wisdom (James 1:5).

    The most important thing to remember about the pre-evangelism process is that it should involve at least four different aspects: hearing, illuminating, uncovering, and building. These correspond to four kinds of roles that we can play in the life of our nonbelieving friends: musician, artist, archaeologist, and builder. Understanding how to integrate these aspects of pre-evangelism into our evangelism training can play an important part in helping us to more effectively reach the skeptics, pluralists, and postmodernists of our day.

    May God help us all to understand, like the men of Issachar, the times in which we live and to know what we should do (1 Chronicles 12:32).

    David Geisler and Norman Geisler, Conversational Evangelism: How to Listen and Speak so You Can Be Heard (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2014), 150–152.

  • 21 Oct 2021 11:37 AM | Josh Hunt (Administrator)

    No Spiritual Discipline is more important than the intake of God’s Word. Nothing can substitute for it. There simply is no healthy Christian life apart from a diet of the milk and meat of Scripture. The reasons for this are obvious. In the Bible God tells us about Himself, and especially about Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God. The Bible unfolds the Law of God to us and shows us how we’ve all broken it. There we learn how Christ died as a sinless, willing Substitute for breakers of God’s Law and how we must repent and believe in Him to be right with God. In the Bible we learn the ways and will of the Lord. We find in Scripture how to live in a way that is pleasing to God as well as best and most fulfilling for ourselves. None of this eternally essential information can be found anywhere else except the Bible. Therefore if we would know God and be Godly, we must know the Word of God—intimately.

    However, many who yawn with familiarity and nod in agreement to these statements spend no more time with God’s Word in an average day than do those with no Bible at all. My pastoral experience bears witness to the validity of surveys that frequently reveal that great numbers of professing Christians know little more about the Bible than Third-World Christians who possess not even a shred of Scripture.

    Some wag remarked that the worst dust storm in history would happen if all church members who were neglecting their Bibles dusted them off simultaneously.

    Donald S. Whitney, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1991), 28.

Josh Hunt ● www.joshhunt.com ● josh@joshhunt.com ● 1964 Sedona Hills Parkway, Las Cruces, NM 88011
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