Thursday, July 24, 2008
The host was in heated debate with some of his callers about the wicked nature of man. The callers into the show argued that, sure, we are all sinners, but we are not evil. The exchange went something like this:
Host: Hello, caller.
Caller: Hello, I'm calling because of the point you said about us being evil. I'm a Christian, and I know we're sinners, but I wouldn't call us evil.
Host: How would you define, "evil?"
Caller: I would call a murderer or a rapist, or someone like Adolph Hitler evil.
Host: So what about things like lying?
Caller: Well, that's a bad thing to do, and we're sinners, but still, we're not evil.
Host: And when the Bible says that lying is a wicked act, that doesn't make us evil?
Caller: Well, no. God loves the sinner but hates the sin.
Host: But God isn't going to differentiate the sin from the sinner. God doesn't send lies and murders to Hell, He sends liars and murderers to Hell.
Caller: ... well, still, we're not evil.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
The reason I bring this up is because of a witnessing encounter I had a couple of weeks ago with a young girl who could not get her mind wrapped around mankind's evil nature. In explaining to her how one lie makes a person a liar, just like one murder makes a person a murderer, she turned this idea upside-down and asked the opposite.
"Suppose," she asked, "you have a man who is completely wicked. He does evil all day and all night. But on one occasion, he does something benevolent. He heals someone of a wound. Wouldn't that one healing make the man a healer?"
To show her the problem with this thought, I pointed her to Heaven. "Heaven is a perfect place, right?" She nodded her head. "And if anything imperfect entered into Heaven, it would no longer be a perfect place, right?" I could see that she was slightly confused by this idea.
"Imagine for a moment that you have two buckets of paint. One is completely white, and one is completely black. If you put even a single drop of black paint into that white bucket, it's no longer white, right?" She agreed. "From that point on, it's a shade of gray, even if it's a tiny little bit.
"Now, no matter how much you pour white paint into the black bucket, even if it overflowed over, it would still be a shade of gray as well. You can never remove the blackness from the bucket. This is the same with what you are talking about."
We continued talking about how the bad person cannot enter Heaven without corrupting it, and no many how many good things someone does, they cannot erase their own wickedness. This made sense to her, but she still did not like hearing how we, mankind, are essentially bad, wicked, and evil.
The truth is that we all think that we are all good (Proverbs 20:6). We all think that what we do is right (Proverbs 21:2). But, our hearts are deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). None of us do good (Romans 3:10). All of our works are like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6).
Mankind is evil. And unless God changes us, we never see it.
Saturday, July 12, 2008
I just wanted to drop a couple lines and express my heart on something. Tonight, my Sunday school class has a fellowship at the church house. We are going to be playing games, playin basketball, other games in the gym, and also eating our favorite dessert that we are to each bring as a couple. Now one thing that southern Baptists like to do is eat. No problem there. I will never have an argument when it comes to fulfilling my belly. The only thing that upsets me is that we're calling this a fellowship. We need to look at what God's word says on fellowship. Then we also need to lie ourselves up with this definition. I will be up front, all I can say is what has happened in the past. In the past, our fellowships consist of getting together and just goofing off, being lazy, eating, talking, staring at each others kids, and talking about who has the greatest kids in the world that very day, the cutest outfit, or the cutest baby face caked with food.
Although I am quite certain that is what holds for tonight, I cannot predict the future. I do want to drive this one point home though in this particular blog. I want people to know that fellowship is not just sitting around gossiping, playing games, eating, and comparing children. True fellowship is when Christians get together and discuss the things of God and glorify his name. Jesus is surely present when two or more are gathered in his name, but the thing I'm leary of is that we're most likely tonight not going to be gathering in His name. Tonight is going to be a bunch of people gathered in groups separated by monthly income, credit score, status, reputation, cute children, fashion statements, and maybe way on down the list, you will find born again Christian. Sadly that's not even close to the top of the list. Are we going to be having a true "Fellowship" tonight? I can only pray for that. Nevertheless, let's talk about what true fellowship should be as a Christian.
In Acts 2:42 we read that one of the four things the early church devoted itself to was "fellowship." Fellowship was a very important part of their reason for meeting together. It was one of their objectives. But what is fellowship? We often hear people talking about fellowship. We hear it said that what we need is more fellowship. But our modern ideas of fellowship have become so watered down that the word no longer carries the same meaning it did in New Testament times. We're not surprised that the early church devoted itself to "the apostles' teaching" and also "to prayer." Apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit, these are the two most important means of growth, power, and effectiveness in the Christian life and this is everywhere evident in the rest of Scripture. But Luke tells us these early Christians also devoted themselves to fellowship. They just didn't have fellowship; they devoted themselves to it. This means that fellowship was a priority and one of the objectives for gathering together. They made fellowship a priority!
Christianity today, however, we often view fellowship as what we do in "fellowship hall." (It's coincidence to know that we will be in the fellowship hall tonight) It's the place where we have casual conversations and savor coffee, donuts, and the good eating that I spoke of before. This is not bad and can contribute to fellowship, but it falls far short of fellowship according to biblical standards and according to the meaning and use of the Greek words for fellowship.
In conclusion, I want to share with you my view of fellowship. My view is much richer and deeper than mere social activity. True fellowship involves getting together for spiritual purposes: for sharing needs, for prayer, for discussing and sharing the Word to encourage, comfort, and edify one another. Sadly, my Sunday school class has not done that in quite some time. As a matter of fact, I can't recall when that last time was outside of Sunday school. Where has the passion gone from our preaching? I've sad that so many times in recent weeks and I say it again. We've lost it. We don't gather to glorify, edify, or build up. We gather to compare, play, and indulge in calories and carbohydrates. Is that our true purpose? We could have planned this time to go to Bricktown tonight and sought after people walking around and shared the good news of Jesus Christ with them. We could have gone outside of the church walls and really rally'd together or a good cause and that is one of soul winning. Is this just lost time? Should I go on my own? We lack so much in the department of evangelism. We've been eating, playing, and gossiping for years. How much more practice do we need at this task. Let's change it up. Let's start at S.W. 104th and Western in Oklahoma City and turned ourselves around and focus on the true task at hand. As I write this blog, the one quote that I've heard so many times comes to mind.
Oswald J. Smith said, "Oh, my friends, we are loaded down with countless church activities, while the real work of the Church, that of evangelizing and winning the lost, is almost entirely neglected."
That is such a bold, yet true statement. Why have we come to this? We must reevaluate our priorities, unlock the doors, get on our knees, open our hearts, open our Bibles, become equipped, and demonstrate the depth of our love for God by rescuing those who are about to perish.
Watch me. I will be the outcast tonight with my Bible in hand at our monthly class fellowship. My prayer for the future is that we don't even think about walking into our church for any reason, without having Bible in hand being ready to truly fellowship. Fellowship in the body of Christ is certainly no side issue. It was one of many things the early church devoted itself to, and from this brief blog, we can see why. It is a means of support and encouragement to others and of ministry in the Savior's enterprise on earth.
I'm open to your thoughts and comments,
When God spoke to Gideon regarding the size of his army, He said, "Now therefore, proclaim in the hearing of the people, saying, 'Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him turn and depart at once from Mount Gilead.'"(Judges 7:3) God wants those who have overcome fear by being dead to themselves. He wants soldiers that have been crucified with Christ. George Mueller said, "There was a day when I died, utterly died, died to George Mueller, his opinions, preferences, tastes, and will-died to the world, its approval or censure-died to the approval or blame even of my brethren and friends-and since then I have only to show myself approved to God." The way to see if you are dead is to see how you react when God wants you to witness to an unsaved person. Are we dead to the whisperings of fear? There goes another minute. Gone forever. Go share your faith while you still have time.
WOTM Minute 07-12-08