A PRACTICAL WAY TO HELP ROMANIAN REFUGEES

For those of you who would like to contribute to help the church in Romania and their fellow Romanians who are suppling help to the Ukrainian refugees, please click on the PDF letter provided. It is from my dear friend Ed Rosella with Eleos Ministries International. We know every penny will go to Romania to help. Thank you for all whose hearts are moved to give.

Click to access ukrainerelief.pdf

SEEDTIME AND HARVEST IN GENESIS EIGHT

While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. ~ Genesis 8:22

I heard a minister attempting to prove his point about monetary giving and tithing using this verse. Unfortunately, those who use this verse as a reference to monetary offerings because of the words seedtime and harvest, are simply mishandeling this text.

There is absolutely no reference in this text to monetary offerings. This text is talking about the cycle of seasons on the earth. Notice the context in which seedtime and harvest is mentioned: While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.

God said this in response to Noah’s burnt offerings which were a type of Christ. God was so moved that he said in his heart that he would never again curse the ground for man’s sake.

And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And the Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man’s sake; for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more everything living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease. ~ Genesis 8:20-22

The intent here is that the earth would continue its cycle of seasons, yielding seeds and producing harvests, and being the habitation every day and night that God had created it to be for mankind. As Noah and his family embarked on the new world after leaving the Ark, they were not giving monetary offerings to preachers because there weren’t any except for Noah whom the New Testament refers to as a preacher of righteousness.

However, they would have to plant and grow food, and endure the heat and the cold as the days and the nights passed. If you are a minister and you are using this text for teaching about monetary offerings, please stop. It’s not talking about that. There are plenty of other texts you can refer to if you want to get your point across about giving. This should not be one of them. This text is not talking about “sowing seed” i.e., giving money. It’s talking about things that grow from seeds in the soil of the earth such as crops, trees, vines, gardens, etc.

Please have integrity when you handle the Word of God and teach it correctly. Don’t build into texts things that are not there and claim that is what the Word says. Have integrity when you handle God’s holy scriptures.

Blessings…

GOD’S FAITHFULNESS TO ALL GENERATIONS

One of the funny things about the Christian faith and indeed about the Bible is that it seems to be, as it were, designed that every generation has to chew it through afresh. ~ N.T. Wright

One truth that stands firm, but is often overlooked within western Christianity is God’s promises to all generations. Too often Christians embrace a worldview filled more with despair than the promises of God. And with so much emphasis on the last days, many sincere Christians often feel that if the church doesn’t do something to bring about some kind of revival, the godless culture around us is going to swallow up the Christian faith.

Rather than a worldview of despair, the Bible encourages a worldview of hope. Namely, hope in God’s faithfulness to all generations: For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations. ~ Psalm 100:5

The truth of God endures to all generations and no culture, no matter how godless, can silence the truth of God. God’s word will make it to all who reach out for him.

Consider that one of the Messianic prophecies about Jesus was this:

I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah. And the heavens shall praise thy wonders, O Lord: thy faithfulness also in the congregation of the saints. ~ Psalm 89:3-5

According to the book of Acts, God’s promise that the Messiah would reign from the throne of David was fulfilled in the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus at the right hand of God. The glorified Christ at the right hand of God is God’s promise of faithfulness to every generation! Now consider Psalm 33:11

The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. ~ Psalm 33:11

Throughout the book of Psalm there are many texts which speak of God’s faithfulness to every generation. One text that many Christians have heard is Psalm 119:89, which says, For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Yet it is the very next verse that people often don’t consider: Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. ~ v. 90

Have you ever considered that God is faithful to reveal himself to every generation? Didn’t his word make its way to you? Sure it did! And it will make its way to the coming generation and the generation after that as well.

The canon of scriptures that we refer to as the Holy Bible, shows us over and over again how God worked from one generation to another, and how God called people he raised up in every generation to speak his word and uphold his righteousness.

Enoch, Abraham, Moses, David, Daniel, all lived and served God in different generations. There truly is nothing unique about us, we only think there is. God is the one who works all things after the counsel of his own will, and while we live in our generation, we have the opportunity to serve him as co-laborers with him and to glorify him. The advancement of God’s Kingdom is not dependent on us. it is dependent on his faithfulness to all generations.

Thy name, O Lord, endureth for ever; and thy memorial, O Lord, throughout all generations. ~ Psalm 135:13

One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts. ~ Psalm 145:4

Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endureth
throughout all generations. ~ Psalm 145:13

The Lord shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion,
unto all generations. Praise ye the Lord. ~ Psalm 146:10

Hearken unto me, ye that know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear ye not the reproach of men, neither be ye afraid of their revilings. For the moth shall eat them up like a garment, and the worm shall eat them like wool: but my righteousness shall be for ever, and my salvation from generation to generation. ~ Isaiah 51:7-8

Thou, O Lord, remainest for ever; thy throne
from generation to generation. ~ Lamentations 5:19

NEW TESTAMENT EVANGELISM (PART TWO)

When evangelical street preachers stand on street corners and college campuses and condemn those whom they know nothing about as being wicked, God hating, reprobate, and headed strength to Hell, they often do so because they themselve have a misunderstanding of what the gospel is and how it should be communicated. 

There are some street preachers who are doing it right, but far too many times, street preachers come across as hateful, judgmental, and harsh. This is because they have not patterned their evangelism after the examples given to us in the New Testament.

When Jesus conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, he did not tell her she was sinner under the wrath of God. He did not place her into a “category” in which she was no better than the Pharisees who opposed God. Instead, Jesus met her on a personal level and had a conversation with her about her life, and this is what true New Testament evangelism should look like. The gospel is custom designed to minister to every heart.

When Jesus spoke with Nicodemus the conversation was different because Nicodemus was an educated religious leader. Still, there was no condemnation from Jesus.

When the woman who was caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, Jesus did not condemn her. Instead he forgave her and told her to go and sin no more.

There were times in scripture that certain groups of people were warned of God’s judgment, and this only happened when the gospel was rejected by the hardhearted opponents to the gospel. Yet it was not the method used in every case.

For example, the Bible tells us that Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them (Acts 8:5), and that the people believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ. ~ v.12

Later, this same Philip came across a man who was reading the book of Isaiah the prophet, and Philip took the opportunity to share Christ with him.

And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. ~ Acts 8:27-28

Notice that this man had come to Jerusalem to worship. He had yet to believe that Jesus is the Son of God because he had not yet heard the gospel. As we continue to read, there is no evidence that Philip categorized him as a God hating sinner. Unfortunately, some modern day street preachers would have.

People who hate God do not make pilgrimages to go worship God nor do they follow up their worship by reading scripture.

Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. ~ v. 29-31

Notice that this man was reading the book of the prophet Isaish. At this point he had no idea that Jesus is the Son of God, but his heart is searching for God. The text tells us “the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.”

We need more Spirit led evangelism and less pre-scripted messages which misinterpret Paul’s words concerning there is none righteous, and none that seeks after God. This man was seeking after God, and consequently the Spirit of the Lord led Philip to him to tell him about Jesus.

In Romans when Paul says, there is none righteous no not one, and there is none that seeks after God, he is not referring to every single person. The very people in the Bible disproves this logic and interpretation. There is a greater context that Paul is addressing when he makes those statements, which is referring specifically to those who reject God and justify their sins. That is a teaching for another article.

We can see that this man in Acts 8 was seeking after God, for he had made a journey to worship, and was reading the book of the prophet Isaiah, and as a result the Spirit led Philip to him. Philip joined the man on his chariot and shared the gospel about Jesus from the very text the man was reading which was from Isaiah 53.

The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and
preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. ~ Acts 8:32-38 

There is not a trace of evidence that Philip preached judgment and condemnation to the man. There is no evidence that Philip told him how awful of a sinner he was and how he was a hater of God who needed to repent. Philip preached Christ to him, a man whose heart was already seeking for God.

In Acts 10 we read of another man who was seeking after God, and how the Spirit of God sent Peter to him to declare the gospel to him and his household.

There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, of the band called the Italian band, a devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thy alms are to come up for a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the seas side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. ~ Acts 10:1-6

Notice that Cornelius was a devout man and he feared God. In Paul’s reference of “there is none righteous, no not one” and “there is none that seeks after God” Paul also cites the text that says, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

However, we can see from the text in Acts 10 that Cornelius did fear God, so Paul’s words in Romans are not a reference to every person who has not yet heard and believed the gospel. Yet too many street Preachers preach as though it is part of the gospel message concerning all people. It is not. Instead, it is a wrong interpretation of Paul’s letter to the Romans. In fact Paul himself refutes such interpretations in Acts 13 when he declared the gospel to those who feared God.

Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. ~ Acts 13:26

How can the word of Salvation be sent to those who fear God if absolutely no one fears God? Bad theology, and bad interpretation of scripture make for bad evangelism which tends to bring a reproach on the gospel. It’s time for that to change.

In my next teaching on this topic we will pick up right here, and continue with the salvation of Cornelius and his household. Until then, may the Lord to guide you in your interactions with others whose hearts the Lord may have already opened to the gospel as he did with Lydia, whom we will read about as well.

Part One
https://rootedandgroundedinchrist.com/2022/02/06/new-testament-evangelism-part-one/

NEW TESTAMENT EVANGELISM (PART ONE)

This is the first of a series of articles I would like to write addressing the topic of New Testament evangelism.

If you haven’t noticed, the influence of the American evangelical church has been in decline for quite some time. Rather than having a good reputation among those outside the church, many evangelicals are now viewed as religious extremists who only care about themselves, and their own political views.

This opinion among unbelievers is not without merit, and many preachers have become bolder in their political views using their pulpits to demonize  those who hold differing views. Ironically, when those same ministers get push-back from people who have been insulted by their harsh rhetoric, they often play the persecution card and lead their followers down a path that is even more self centered.

Lost in all of this is the call to live for Christ in such a manner that shines the light of God’s love and kindness for all people.

In his instructions for those who desire the office of a bishop (a Pastor) Paul writes, “he must have a good reputation with those outside the church.” ~ 1 Timothy 3:7

In his letter to Titus, Paul writes something similar.

Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. ~ Titus 2:7-8

Harsh, hateful, and political rhetoric is not godly behavior and brings a reproach on the gospel of Christ, and because of such, many evangelicals need a refresher course regarding true New Testament evangelism.

Consider that during Paul’s conversion experience, God sent a devout man with a good reputation to pray for Paul.

And when I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of them that were with me, I came into Damascus. And one Ananias, a devout man according to the law, having a good report of all the Jews which dwelt there, Came unto me, and stood, and said unto me, Brother Saul, receive thy sight. And the same hour I looked up upon him. ~ Acts 22:11-13

Notice that Ananias had a good reputation among the Jews where he lived. How we live matters and how we represent Christ to those outside the faith matters.

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. ~ Matthew 5:13- 16

In 1 Timothy, Paul says the following concerning the gospel.

This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. ~ 1 Timothy 1:15-17

Evangelicals need to be reminded that Christ came into the world to save sinners and Paul refers to this as “a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation…” 

A faithful saying is a timeless message, an enduring truth. Paul says, this faithful saying is worthy of all acceptation. This means it’s something we must never forget and always be mindful of. I think this is why Paul says in the next breath, “of whom I am Chief.” Paul did not view himself as the chief of sinners because of a sense of guilt, but rather from a heart of gratitude.

Paul never wanted to forget that he once was lost and God had mercy on him. Paul then tells Timothy that his own salvation was a pattern of God’s great salvation to those whom God would save after him. Paul understood the depth of his sinful past, and even so God was merciful, for Christ had come into the world to save sinners. 

In his letter to Titus, Paul tells Titus to remind the people to be examples of godliness with regards to governing authorities, and to speak evil of no man, and not to be brawlers (abusive, fighting, etc.) but rather be gentle, showing meekness to all men (not only to Christians, but all men) because we too were at one time foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving different lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. ~ Titus 3:1-3

Paul tells us that we were saved from such things because “the kindness and love of God our Savior towards all men appeared” (v.4). The grace of God that brings salvation works through kindness and love to save people from their sins. 

Too many evangelicals are sending the wrong message of us vs. them. We are not an exclusive group whom God favors and while hating sinners. God forbid! Instead, we are people who have been saved by the grace of God and at one time we too were lost and we should never forget that. If we do, we forget our calling and our purpose. – we forget the gospel.

Christ came into the world to save sinners and has called us as co-laborers with him so that through us the sweet fragrance of the knowledge Christ might be known in every place, so that the world can taste and see that the Lord is gracious.

Part Two
https://rootedandgroundedinchrist.com/2022/02/07/new-testament-evangelism-part-two/