Saturday, October 20, 2007

How to Witness Effectively to Christians

You might be surprised to find an article with a such a title at a Christian blog, but I for one am convinced that the modern professing church is among the largest mission fields in the world today.

Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. (John 4:35)

Today's professing church is filled with unbelievers who live under the satanic deception that they are saved. They have believed the lie that by repeating the so called "sinner's prayer" they have been miraculously translated from darkness into light. They sincerely think God's holy justice against their sins is remitted by saying a few words and perhaps getting dunked in a tank of tap water during Wednesday evening service. Is this the gospel of Jesus Christ? Does heaven really beckon with arms wide open to whosoever shall repeat a few words and wade through a baptismal? Is this the unmerited grace of God or is it Satan's grandest deception?

In case you haven't noticed the hard commands of Christ are largely ignored by vast swaths of the modern professing church. The barren, desolate landscape of modern church-ianity is littered with theological shipwrecks and so-called places of worship that ought to have ICHABOD stenciled above the main entrance because the Glory of the Lord has left there. Today's church is a "what about me?" church, an emotional-subjective experience based on sentimental theology which revolves around self.

How do I feel about the music?

How do the other congregants treat me?

How well do my children like the kid's program?

How engaging and likable is the pastor and his staff?

How can the message be applied to my personal situation?

Is the message relevant to my personal life?

Are my felt needs being met?

Is there a good balance of praise and worship and preaching?

Is the service too long?

How does the congregation dress, what types of vehicles are in the parking lot, and is the church in a "good" part of town?

The churches that actually waste time thinking about these types of issues and bother with putting forth the effort - and dollar$ - to diligently to address them are more than likely sending the majority of their flock home each week singing of a heaven they'll never see and hearing of a Jesus who will rebuke and deny them on Judgment Day. I seriously question the godliness of the leadership of these rock-show laser-light sensory circus churches in the light of inspired scripture.

Establish Loyalty
Most false professing Christians will operate under the deception that they are "saved" and will therefore be surprised - and likely offended - when a true spiritually regenerated Christian begins to witness the Christ of scripture to them. Their offense will be a "tell" for the true Christian to recognize that he is in fact witnessing to a deceived unbeliever (a tare, goat, or wolf in sheep's clothing). Remember it's not only average churchgoers who are walking under deception, in just as many cases pastors, elders, deacons and others within the ranks of church leadership are also massively deceived unbelievers as can be seen by the myriad pulpit pimps and outright heretics who lead the emergent, seeker sensitive, purpose driven and word-faith church movements. It's important to realize that many of these blind followers of the blind will be deeply indoctrinated into their cultish church fellowship, thus their peculiar form of religion is an integral part of their lives. As such you will be witnessing the devastating truth of the Christ of scripture to a person whose worldview has been corrupted and reinforced against the truth of the Bible. It will often be seen that their true loyalty is to their church, denomination, pastor or whatever idol holds their faith as opposed to an unwavering loyalty to Christ alone.

Establish Truth
Jesus Christ is the truth (John 14:6)

His word is truth (John 14:6)

Jesus Christ came to testify to the truth (John 18:37)

Every religious leader must be held accountable to Scriptural authority (Acts 17:11)

Other than Jesus Christ no man is infallible (Galatians 2:11-14)

Church tradition, denominational teachings or the doctrines of man must never suppress the authority of God's Word (Mark 7:7-13, Colossians 2:8)

God's revealed Word is His testimony to the fact that He alone is the ultimate authority in all things. God is the Ultimate Ultimate. His word is infallible, unchanging, and completely authoritative. This is the second point that will cause the false professing Christian to stumble because today's modern churches preach a watered down, candy coated pseudo-gospel message and espouse a perverse Nerf theology that's focus group tested and proven not to offend. Offense, division and a lack of unity are anathema to the professing Christian. Sadly they would rather offend the Infinite Creator and Judge of the universe by re-crucifying His Son than offend men and be ostracised, castigated or shunned for hurting someone's feelings. What about offending God Almighty? What about compromising His Word? What about relegating His Son to a position subordinate to our own personal wills and feelings?

Friends, when it comes to the eternal trajectory of men's souls our feelings don't matter, other people's feelings don't matter; all that matters is Christ crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected faithfully and fully proclaimed.

The major question to resolve in establishing Biblical authority is "How is sinful man justified before a Holy God?", or to put it another way "In what or whom do you trust for the destiny of your eternal soul?". Ultimately men must either trust in the One True Living God for their salvation or trust in themselves, there's no other option. And there's no salvation apart from the Almighty therefore all those who trust in themselves (or in a few words they muttered once during an emotional upheaval) are damned.

Establishing Biblical Terms
This is an area where many aspiring apologists become ensnared because the false professing Christians think they believe the truth. They'll quote scripture and they'll use Biblical terms, but because of their wholesale deception they will have radically redefined the meanings of the those terms and perverted the interpretation of scripture as a means to justify themselves and their carnality.

Words like justification, sin, atonement, repentance, salvation, eternal life, heaven, hell, forgiveness, righteousness - even the meaning of the word "sinner" - will have radically different meanings for the true Christian than for the false Christian. On the one hand God is the justifier and sanctifier of those who are called by His name, and on the other hand sinful men aspire to achieve status or righteousness before God based on their own merits - their "good works".

Think about this question for a moment; Are you a Christian? If you answered in the affirmative are you a Christian because of God's will, or are you a Christian because you chose to be (i.e. because of your will)? Did God choose you, or did you choose God? Did God accept you, or did you accept God? Why are you a Christian while many of your friends, family members and neighbors are not? Did you choose better than they? Why? Is it because you're smarter, better, or more righteous than they are, or is it because God Almighty for His own glory, and by His own good pleasure sought you out and saved you by His Son Jesus Christ? Is salvation of you or is it of Christ? Is salvation wrought of God or is it wrought of men? Did Christ die for those He was unable to save? Is He the sovereign and personal God of all creation Who is able to fully save those who His Father gives unto Him, or is He an impotent beggar wringing His hands in heaven, helplessly pleading for men to accept Him and His ineffable gift of eternal life? What is your concept of God?

Establish the BAD NEWS
Most false professing Christians will tend to measure on God's grace, mercy and love. Now don't get me wrong, these are absolutely accurate and wonderful attributes of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the One True Living God. He IS LOVE. His mercy and grace are most poignantly displayed on the cross and in the truth that Christ died for us while we were His enemies.

But the bad news is that God's holy justice, absolute righteousness and hatred of sin demands punishment when His law is broken and the penalty is death. Eternal death. Eternal punishment in death (Romans 6:23). The second death is eternal hell fire where the unredeemed will pay eternally for their sins (Revelation 20:14). Unbelievers must be told that they are hopelessly doomed without Jesus Christ so that by God's grace they can see their need for a Savior.

Establish the Gospel
The Gospel of Jesus Christ has been badly distorted, maligned, misunderstood and miscommunicated by the modern professing church. The modern false church paints a picture of Jesus as some platitude spouting long-haired hippie Who just wants to give you a big hug and punch your "get out of hell free" card before you kick the bucket and go to meet the "Big Guy upstairs". Of course this is a damnable lie from the pit of hell.

The Gospel of grace is that Christ's perfect and finished sacrifice on the cross is wholly sufficient to impute His righteousness upon sinful men who trust solely in Him as their Lord and Savior. Christ traded His sinlessness and right standing before God for our sinfulness and wrong standing before God in order that His righteousness might be justly imputed to sinful men allowing guilt ridden sinners to stand justified before and reconciled unto God Almighty by His perfect sacrifice - His substitution - on our behalf. This is the atoning work of Christ. He made atonement for us, fully and completely satisfying God's holy justice - which sin demands - on our behalf. We couldn't do it. We were lost and without hope. He did it for us.

No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. (John 10:18)

Establish Christ's Offer
At this point it's important to extend Christ's offer - His "package deal" - to the person(s) to whom you are witnessing. These are concepts that might be intellectually recognizable to the false Christian, but which will in truth be totally foreign to him. Christ's offer is the complete forgiveness of sins, the imputation of His perfect righteousness and full assurance of eternal life with Him. In all likelihood the false professing Christian will have been deceived on at least one, if not all, of these points.

The true Christian will inevitably find that false Christians, not unlike cultists, hold some of God's promises in unbelief, or have subconsciously rejected, suppressed, or opposed them in some form. False Christians are in bondage to their sinful religion which says they must earn something from God, they must do something to please God, or that they must abstain from something to maintain their standing before God. This is justification by works - idolatry - and no man will be justified before God by his good works.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:13-15)

It's important to impress upon those in unbelief that their names will only be found written in the book of life if they have been miraculously born-again by the regeneration of the Spirit of God by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This is the meaning of being truly "saved".

Establish the Need for Repentance
Grace by faith is the one and only way God saves sinners and, as previously mentioned, anyone who tries to earn something from God by works is found to reject and nullify God's unmerited gift of grace. It's important to reinforce to false professing Christians that they come to Jesus with empty hands and with nothing to offer but a wretched sinful life.

The Bible Must Undergird All
Most importantly those who would be effective witnesses for the Lord of Glory must always use the Word of God. It is by hearing the Word which is living, powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword that men are drawn unto salvation. It has pleased God to save sinners through the "foolishness" of preaching the gospel. He makes those who are wise in their own conceit to become as fools, and He makes those who are foolish to be wise through His revelation knowledge and the effectual working of His Spirit within them.

Let the Bible speak for itself. Inasmuch as it's possible avoid using your own analogies and words because they are powerless. Ask the false professing Christians to read select scriptures out loud and ask them what it means to them. Ask them for their testimony and how it lines up with scripture. By substituting scripture for your own words you are removed from the middle of the apologetic and you place the unbeliever into contention with God's Word directly, and none can effectively gainsay the Almighty. Another good way to get to the root of their belief structure is to ask them how they hope to enter heaven. If they give an unscriptural answer ask them if they'd like to know the only way to heaven as revealed in the Holy Bible, the very Bible they claim to rely upon. If they say yes then faithfully lay out the truth of Christ crucified, the singular truth of the ages, and pray that God might open their eyes and draw them into a saving relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.