Saturday, August 28, 2010

RAY COMFORT (Continued)

“However, when I witness one-to-one to a professing atheist, I am careful to take the time to patiently answer his questions, but not go down rabbit trails.”     ______Ray Comfort

Sometimes, letting the conversation go down a rabbit trail can lead to humorous depths. I remember once, when I was witnessing to a student at Fullerton College, the subject strayed onto "end times events." (A real hot topic in the '70s) When we read together the verse with the phrase, "earthquakes in divers places" (Matt. 24:7 KJV) the student started talking about her sister's experiences while scuba diving off the coast of Catalina Island.

Here is the article in The Evidence Bible where Ray addresses the issue of getting drawn away from the main subject, which is the Gospel:

Watch for “Red Herrings” or “Rabbit Trails”

The Bible warns us to avoid foolish questions because they start arguments (2 Timothy 2:23). Most of us have fallen into the trap of jumping at every objection to the gospel. However, these questions can often be arguments in disguise to sidetrack you from the “weightier matters of the Law.” While apologetics (arguments for God’s existence, creation vs. evolution, etc.) are legitimate in evangelism, they should merely be “bait,” with the Law of God being the “hook” that brings the conviction of sin. Those who witness solely in the realm of apologetical argument may just get an intellectual decision rather than a repentant conversion. The sinner may come to a point of acknowledging that the Bible is the Word of God, and Jesus is Lord—but even the devil knows that.

Always pull the sinner back to his responsibility before God on Judgment Day, as Jesus did in Luke 13:1–5. Whenever you are in an open-air situation, be wary of so-called Christians who are intent on distracting workers from witnessing. They argue about prophecy, of how much water one should baptize with, or in whose name they should be baptized. It is grievous to see five or six Christians standing around arguing with some sectarian nitpicker, while sinners are sinking into hell.              __From The Evidence Bible (Bridge-Logos)

On the previous post, a commenter, (Blogger name: BeamStalk), had this objection:

"The so called rabbit holes, is any question to him. Go back and see how many questions he actually answers and does not take the conversation down some rabbit hole of his own."

And he cited 1 Peter 3:15 to support his objection:

But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, - 1 Peter 3:15
The commenter who voiced this complaint was referring to questions asked of Ray at the blog, "Atheist Central." I invite readers to visit the comment pages at Atheist Central to see for themselves what he is referring to. Frequently, they are questions that have nothing to do with the subject of the post, and when Ray does answer them, he, more often than not, concludes with a brief Law / Gospel presentation, and asks the questioner to repent of his sins and trust in Jesus Christ for forgiveness and eternal life. I doubt that Ray Comfort thinks of the Gospel and a plea to trust Christ for salvation as a "rabbit hole."
Some people point to 1 Peter 3:15, thinking that it places Christians under obligation to address, to their satisfaction, any and all objections and challenges thrown their way. Often the challenges are to "prove that God exists, using empirical evidence (peer reviewed, of course) and subject to repeatable testing; or to prove that the "Christian God" is the one true God, as opposed to the millions of others claimed by various world religions. Sometimes the challenge is to reconcile two bible verses that appear to contradict one another. 
First, let's look at the verse again. "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,"
Now, in context:
13Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. "Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened." 15But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 16keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. 17It is better, if it is God's will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:13-17 NIV

Peter here is writing to Christians who are suffering persecution for their faith, and encouraging them , despite the pressure and slander, to confess their faith in Christ, which is the reason for their hope. That is the immediate context. We are however, to avail ourselves of the many good resources and helps to further our knowledge in subjects that people may ask about related to our profession of faith. We are not required, of course, to answer foolish questions, or those that we perceive are designed only to distract us from the Gospel.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Ray Comfort answers a question from one of Tim Challies' readers

This is from a post by Tim Challies' from last year.  C.B.


Q. I often respond to the questions/arguments posed by atheists not so much because I think I can convince them they’re wrong, but because of the undecided people who might be the audience. If atheists claim they are well grounded in reason and logic, and no one stands to oppose them, I’m thinking huge numbers of people will assume that Christians concede the argument. I want people on the fence to know that there are well reasoned, rational arguments in favor of theology. How much time and energy do you think we should spend responding to atheistic claims?

Ray Comfort: I have preached open air (soapbox style) over 5,000 times. This is different from the doomsday street-corner folks that yell at passersby. I try and engage people in healthy discourse.

If you have ever been in a good open air meeting, you will know that at times there’s a sense of excitement, as people ask genuine questions about Christianity. In those situations you often have what is called a “heckler.” He is usually a colorful character who is upset. He is loud and somewhat aggressive. He is the one who attracts the crowd (who’s going to gather around to hear a boring preacher?). It is his presence that holds the crowd long enough for me to share the gospel. While I am directing myself at the heckler, I am also speaking to the crowd.

That’s what’s happening on my blog (“Atheist Central”) where we have more than one nasty “heckler.” They give the blog the life it needs to keep people coming back. But there’s a crowd listening (the blog gets emailed out daily). That’s why I am pleased to have atheists there. As a fisher of men, I don’t mind admitting that I bait them with some attractive morsel, and they usually bite. Most of them have said that they are closed to the gospel, but the others who are on the sidelines may have an open mind. Those are the ones to whom I am speaking—unsaved fence-sitters.

However, when I witness one-to-one to a professing atheist, I am careful to take the time to patiently answer his questions, but not go down rabbit trails. I pray for God’s help daily, because I have a clear agenda—to go through the Ten Commandments to bring the knowledge of sin, then bring the remedy of the gospel and the necessity of faith and repentance. The time and energy I spend on him is dependent on whether or not I discern sincerity on his part.

Ray Comfort

Thursday, August 26, 2010

"The Christian Gospel is..."

"In Christ I could know that I was accepted by grace not only despite my flaws, but because I was willing to admit them.
 The Christian gospel is that I am so flawed that Jesus had to die for me, yet I am so loved and valued that Jesus was glad to die for me.
 The fact that Jesus had to die for me humbled me out of my pride. The fact that Jesus was glad to die for me assured me out of my fear."
 ______Timothy Keller        

Monday, August 23, 2010

Who are these people who have "Invaded" my blog? And what do they all have in common? (See the FUN clues below the pictures)

1. His malapropisms probably drove his English teachers into early retirement.
2. Remembered for his work for world peace, he also discovered that laughter can actually be an effective relief for chronic pain.
3. Do you know what "links" this man to the others on this page?
4. Once, during a televised interview, Dick Cavett asked him, "Perhaps you'd like two more chairs to contain your giant intellect?"
5. Sure, you can ask her for a date. But there is just one little prerequisite.
6. He made the most of a great source of power.
7. "Why, he wouldn't even harm a fly."
8. Get outa the way when he comes stormin' in.
9. If he had a blog, he would only post once a week.
10. Sorry. I just couldn't resist.

The Battle of Hastings: the decisive point in the Norman Invasion

Friday, August 20, 2010

The God of Our Circumstances

"Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, who never consult your taste, who put you in the background? This thing is from Me. I am the God of circumstances. Thou camest not to thy place by accident, it is the very place God meant for thee. Have you not asked to be made humble? See then, I have placed you in the very school where the lesson is taught..."
___Paul E. Billheimer

Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Just Been One of Those Days

You know which ones I mean. Sometimes it can be one of those "weeks" or one of those "seasons." But with the current economic situation, a "day" is all I can afford. Anyway, besides not feeling well, it was a day of disappointments where one thing after another either went wrong, or didn't go at all. I did not dare say, "Well, at least it can't get any worse," for fear of inviting...well,... something worse. (I am really not superstitious; but that is what usually happens in movies.)

So, I am feeling like I am at the end of my rope with lots of empty air under my feet, and I cast about for something to hold on to ____and Psalm 51 immediately comes to mind. "Psalm 51? Not something more upbeat to lift the spirits?" Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness; according to the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. (Ps. 51:1) No, Psalm 51 didn't perk me up , but it did get my mind onto the right track.

A few minutes later, I went to the bed room to lie down, and I remembered a stanza from  a hymn we used to sing several years ago. Then I started singing it. The hymn was I Will Sing The Wondrous Story. The stanza that came into my mind was:

Days of darkness still come o'er me
Sorrow's paths I often tread:
But the Savior still is with me,
By His hand I'm safely led.

Yes, I'll sing the wondrous story
Of the Christ who died for me-
Sing it with the saints in glory,
Gathered by the crystal sea.

Still not out of my doldrums, I clicked on Spurgeon's Morning and Evening on my desktop screen. I scrolled ahead to the morning meditation for September 3rd, and there it was, just what I needed. Here is what lifted my heart to heaven this afternoon:

“Thou whom my soul loveth.”
Song of Solomon 1:7

It is well to be able, without any “if” or “but,” to say of the Lord Jesus—“Thou whom my soul loveth.” Many can only say of Jesus that they hope they love him; they trust they love him; but only a poor and shallow experience will be content to stay here. No one ought to give any rest to his spirit till he feels quite sure about a matter of such vital importance. We ought not to be satisfied with a superficial hope that Jesus loves us, and with a bare trust that we love him. The old saints did not generally speak with “buts,” and “ifs,” and “hopes,” and “trusts,” but they spoke positively and plainly. “I know whom I have believed,” saith Paul. “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” saith Job. Get positive knowledge of your love of Jesus, and be not satisfied till you can speak of your interest in him as a reality, which you have made sure by having received the witness of the Holy Spirit, and his seal upon your soul by faith.

True love to Christ is in every case the Holy Spirit’s work, and must be wrought in the heart by him. He is the efficient cause of it; but the logical reason why we love Jesus lies in himself. Why do we love Jesus? Because he first loved us. Why do we love Jesus? Because he “gave himself for us.” We have life through his death; we have peace through his blood. Though he was rich, yet for our sakes he became poor. Why do we love Jesus? Because of the excellency of his person. We are filled with a sense of his beauty! an admiration of his charms, a consciousness of his infinite perfection! His greatness, goodness, and loveliness, in one resplendent ray, combine to enchant the soul till it is so ravished that it exclaims, “Yea, he is altogether lovely.” Blessed love this—a love which binds the heart with chains more soft than silk, and yet more firm than adamant!

Thanks to Lord Jesus Christ, and thanks to Mr. Spurgeon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Recommended: R. Scott Clark's post on N.T. Wright

For Evangelicals Tempted by N. T. Wright’s Revision of Paul  (Posted on August 15, 2010 by R. Scott Clark)

There seems to be a cadre of biblicist, evangelicals, who don’t know much about the medieval church (and who think it might even be cool to get back there in some ways), who don’t know much about the Reformation (except that it had an uncool, legal, fictional doctrine of justification), and who don’t know much about earlier versions of evangelicalism (an “evangelical” is someone who loves Jesus, right?), who like the doctrine of predestination (God is sovereign, so why does it matter what one says about justification, it comes out in the wash, right?), who have no real connection to Reformed churches (“Dude! We like couches, coffee, and candles”), who are tempted by N T Wright’s (“Man! He is so cool!) revision of Paul. It’s grounded in the first century, and that has to be good, right? It’s different. It’s hip and it’s socially relevant (after all, NTW has a plan to transform society and that has to be good, right?)  This society of fairly uncritical supporters seem to be quite unaware that there are serious, even fatal, flaws in NTW’s revision of Paul..... Click here to read Dr. Clark's post in it's entirety.

p.s.(Dr. Clark includes an extensive reading list to give us the background behind Wright's popular New Perspective on Paul )

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Is Hyper-Calvinism?

Colin Maxwell's web site is one of the best sources for information on Calvinism, the Gospel, and Evangelism. The site includes one  page that is entirely devoted to e-mails with questions and comments about Calvinism. Here is a recent entry in which Colin answers a question about Hyper-Calvinism.

Can you give me your definition of Hyper-Calvinism? The reason I am asking you is because you seem well versed and honest. It seems everyone has their own definition. Can you point me in the right direction? Thank you for your time. In Christ, Joe

Hi Joe, Thanks for your email and kind remarks. A Hyper Calvinist is someone who emphasises the Sovereignty of God to the practical exclusion of man's responsibility.  Human responsibility insists that all sinners should repent for their sins and believe the gospel as a duty. God commandeth all men everywhere to repent....(Acts 17:30) etc., The Hyper Calvinist denies what he brands "Duty Faith" and "Duty Repentance" (See here for a good example) arguing that duty suggests ability, although this is not actually the case. Man's inability is sin induced and he cannot sin himself out of his duties before a Holy God. Hyper Calvinism also frowns on indiscriminate gospel preaching and shrinks in horror from the concept of the free offer of the gospel, so alien to the thoughts of Calvin and historic Calvinism. See here for a balanced view of true Calvinism. Thanks for writing. Colin.

Rev. Maxwell is an itinerant evangelist in the Free Presbyterian Church: Northern Ireland. 

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Upright Desire To Have Greater Love For Christ

“Oh, for as much love as would go round about the earth, and over heaven – yea, the heaven of heavens, and ten thousand worlds – that I might let all out upon fair, fair, only fair Christ.”   __Samuel Rutherford 

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Eye ("I") Of The Tulip #1


 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and he brought me out in the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; it was full of bones. 2 And he led me around among them, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley, and behold, they were very dry. 3 And he said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, you know.” 4 Then he said to me, “Prophesy over these bones, and say to them, O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord. 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones: Behold, I will cause breath  to enter you, and you shall live. 6 And I will lay sinews upon you, and will cause flesh to come upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and you shall live, and you shall know that I am the Lord.”

7 So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I prophesied, there was a sound, and behold, a rattling,  and the bones came together, bone to its bone. 8 And I looked, and behold, there were sinews on them, and flesh had come upon them, and skin had covered them. But there was no breath in them. 9 Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, Thus says the Lord God: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.” 10 So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.  (Ezekiel 37:1-10)

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh." (Ezekiel 36:26)

“The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The Bride of Christ

"Never Has a Bride Been Sought or Won at So Great a Price"

__William MacDonald  in a lecture on "The Mystery of the Church"

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)