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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Tell the Truth – The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People

Book Review by Tommy Davis (tdavis76@rochester.rr.com)

PURPOSE

“Tell the Truth – The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by Whole People”, by Will Metzer is an outstanding book that brings into perspective the art of evangelism. Often we adopt mechanical methods to evangelism that remove personal emphasis in our attempt to introduce Christ to non-believers. Techniques that deliver half-truths can become untruths if certain key points are not included in the message of salvation.  Being witnesses of Christ involves more than our testimony or pet doctrine. Our chief position should reflect that of a true recipient of the Gospel message. It is impossible to offer something we do not have; and even then, we must not hold back crucial elements of truth when presenting the Gospel.  I have read Will Metzer’s book, and will highlight focal points.

DISCUSSION

  • “Tell The Truth” emphasize that the right methods stems from the correct theology.  A commitment to Christ is not making a simple supplication.  It must precede a true conversion and give birth to a changed life.  This comes by accepting the truth of the Gospel as it is in the Scriptures.  To accept Christ as Lord and Savior is to respond to God’s grace.  Also, acknowledging the sovereignty of God, the non-believer is responding to the preordained will of God.  As Mr. Metzer states:  “Only a grace-centered gospel saves and gives response-ability, which solves the non-believer’s main problem” (p. 20).   Thus, the Father planned salvation, the Son accomplished it, and the Holy Spirit applies it today.

 

  • Witnessing is the telling of events that we are assured of.  Witnessing involves being an honest testimony.  Metzer states that the way we live is a “primary aspect of our witness.”  While we are telling God’s truth, we ought to be living God’s truth.  Our lives are to reflect a clear difference as we illuminate the truth of the Gospel.   “Tell the Truth” gives a great illustration that says the Christian witness has two wings: our lives and our lips (p. 25).  To communicate the truths of Christ is to confirm who He said He is. Our lives are to give an eyewitness to the account of truth (1 John 1:1-13). 

 

  • Our testimony should not override the straight truth of the Person of Christ.  WE are NOT Christ.  Even though our lives should reflect truth, we are not the focus.  On page 27 it states: “Specific truths about a specific person are the subject of our proclamation.  A message has been committed to us—a word of reconciliation to the world (2 Corinthians 5:19).”  In a world filled with religious pluralism, we should avoid emphasizing our testimony over truth because many false religions and their professors are testifying.  Our testimony is a reflector and not the light itself. 

 

  • Presenting the whole Gospel is important.  “Tell The Truth” says that we are often told to think of the gospel content in terms of a simple plan of salvation with three or four basic facts.  Truth is, the evangelistic mandate given to us by the Savior is to go and “teach them to obey everything I have commanded you” (p. 33).  The Gospel needs to be learned before it can be lived.  It is to be understood in order to be applied.  Before any of this can happen, the Gospel must be communicated (taught).  If we fail to understand the doctrines of the gospel, it can mislead the sinner and the believer regarding our duties.  Error comes when truth is delivered in the wrong package or out of context.

 

  • To proclaim truth in evangelism is to incorporate all elements of the Gospel message that includes God’s grace, God’s punishment for sin, and God’s future deliverance of His people.  The death of Christ on the cross shows us how heinous sin is (p. 68).  Grace was costly, but free.  People have to admit that they are sinners who cannot save themselves.  Metzger states:  “I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear simply because we are too anxious to get the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness….”(p. 71).   Thus, he adds that we cannot come to the king with one hand behind our backs giving indication of secret reservations because we are not in a position to bargain (p. 72).  When we proclaim truth, God will perform the work.  The Holy Spirit’s job is to seal the believer and illuminate truth.

 

ACCOMPLISHMENT IMPACT

  • When the Gospel is presented in its entirety and accepted on the basis of truth, it produces changes in people.  “How can we guard against cheap grace and mere intellectual assent with little evidence of a changed life?  How can we discern any idols still lurking in the heart? (p. 88).  Regeneration is to picture salvation from God’s side. It happens instantaneously.  On the other hand, conversion, as defined on page 89, is “viewing salvation from our perspective. It is a process of the entire work of God’s grace from the first dawning of understanding.”   Remember Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:9-24) in how he was baptized after beholding the witness of the apostles.  Rather than come to Christ for salvation, he “came” to the church for power to serve his own purposes.  He thought he could purchase what was already free.

 

  • Presenting the whole counsel of God leads to genuine worship.  Despite the language we may include in our hymns; if we do not know the truth about Christ, we cannot worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23).  How often I hear people proclaim: “Praise the Lord” or “Thank you Jesus” and yet do not believe in the Deity of Christ!  The purpose of evangelism is “changing worshipers of false gods into worshipers of the true God” (p. 151).  Churches have become victims of abbreviated theology and have replaced biblical truths with tradition.  They have made Christ into a cultural god made with their own hands.  Real worship is a response to God’s initiative.  Worship is not an “in it for me” lip service.  It is a response, “not a self-initiated, creative activity on our part” (p. 156).

 

CONCLUSION:  When a person truly is saved by believing the whole Gospel, that person will show evidence of conversion.  Thus, this enables one to be a true witness and provide an accurate account of the Savior.   “Salvation through Christ is obtained not by trying to save yourself, but by trusting what Someone else has done for you” (p. 164).  There is only one Person who has provided the one solution to mankind’s problem.  The right kind of belief produces the correct kind of witness.    “You cannot get close to the heart of God in worship without hearing his heartbeat for witnessing” (p. 157).  An honest witness will highlight truth.  We are not to confront people with ourselves but with the risen Christ.  As a result, the world will see more believers living out lives worthy of our calling and recycle this phenomenon until Christ comes for His church.  Thus, “Tell the Truth” provides encouragement and a recommended structure that would serve the evangelist well in presenting the Gospel message in its fullness.

 
 

MARTIN LUTHER (1483-1546)

by Providence Crowder

Introduction  

One of the greatest Christian intellectuals of all times, sixteenth century German reformer Martin Luther, sought to make the Scriptures “the starting and final authority for his theology.”[1]  Historically, Martin Luther was credited with initiating the German Reformation, a movement in Germany which challenged the medieval theology and abuses of the Roman Catholic Church and sought doctrinal and moral reforms.  Martin Luther’s “95 Theses on Indulgences,” which were posted on the door of the castle church at Wittenberg, came to be regarded as a declaration for reform.  The Wittenberg act agitated the religious and political climate and stirred a polemical debate between Luther and the church in Rome.  Luther bore significant theological variances with his paternal church, namely concerning grace and works.  He addressed these concerns in his exegetical writings and throughout his program for reform.  Lutheranism was birthed from Luther’s theology and soteriology, and his teachings influenced several Protestant reformers after him.  The main theological concerns addressed by historic Lutheranism were: the authority of the Pope, justification, and free-will.

The Authority of the Pope

The Lutheran agenda for reform sought to free Christianity from the corrupt practices of the Papal authority, such as the selling of Indulgences,[2] and return to Scripture alone as the basis for authority in the Church.  Luther championed the rights of the laity against church abuses, and challenged the Pope’s civil and ecclesiastical authority, arguing that the powers are not to be confounded; the ecclesiastical power has only the commandment to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments.[3] Luther especially opposed the Pope’s profession of being the sole interpreter of Scripture, maintaining that Scripture was sufficient to interpret Scripture.  When addressing Pope Leo X in a letter, Luther wrote, “They err who ascribe to you alone the right of interpreting Scripture.”[4] He as well had criticisms of the sacramental theology and certain other practices instituted by the papacy.

Luther found no scriptural basis for Roman Catholic practices such as celibacy of the clergy, monastic vows, Masses for the dead, and the worship of saints and images. Concerning the worship of saints, the Lutheran theology could not have been expressed any clearer than in the declaration set forth in the Augsburg Confession:[5] “The Scripture teacheth not to invocate or to ask help of saints . . . Christ is to be invocated, and he hath promised that he will hear our prayers.”[6] Regarding the Lord’s Supper, Luther maintained the bodily presence of Christ during the Eucharist but denied that the elements in the bread or the wine were somehow changed.  His view on the Eucharist thereby differed from the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, and differed from other forms of Protestantism, such as views held by Swiss Reformer Zwingli, who denied the bodily presence of Christ; believing that the Eucharist ceremony was merely symbolic.  Luther would later be excommunicated for his stance against the papacy and be summoned before the Diet of Worms for refusing to recant his statements.  Luther’s teachings on justification further placed him at odds with the Roman Church.

Justification

Lutheran soteriology is built firmly upon the foundation and presumption of original sin.  In the polemical writings of Lutherans and others, original sin is taught as a result of Adam’s fall.  Due to Adam’s sin, all men are born with a sinful nature much like a man born of a slave into slavery; the sin being a disease of sort or original fault that condemns and brings eternal death.  In reality, man, who was once righteous and perfect before God was now sinful and depraved.  The work of Christ on the cross was to redeem mankind back to God through enduring man’s penalty or requirement for sin, which is death.  Those who believed or had faith in God’s promised redemption through his Christ was declared righteous, without actually being righteous.  This act of mercy by God is called justification. 

Luther’s pilgrimage to reform did not come without great challenge.  His harsh upbringing and monastery life ultimately led Luther to question his own salvation.  The good works and penance that were supposed to provide relief and justify Luther before God only amplified his sense of sinfulness.  Through his studies, Luther eventually concluded that both faith and justification were the work of God, a free gift.[7]  In his quest for reform, the medieval practices of the Roman Catholic Church, those such as selling indulgences, and performing other good works to merit justification were powerfully rebuked by Luther.  Luther argued, “Works cannot reconcile God, or deserve remission of sins, grace, and justification at his hands, but these we obtain by faith only, when we believe that we are received into favor for Christ’s sake, who alone is appointed the Mediator and Propitiatory.”[8] The ineptness of works and the power of faith as the only means to obtain justification unto salvation by God’s grace was described by Luther as the very highest worship of God that we can ascribe to God.  Anything less than ascribing truthfulness to and having faith or belief in his promise was to make God a liar.  Luther’s declaration of justification by faith alone became formative for Protestantism.

Free Will

Luther’s summation about the power or lack thereof of the human will set him at odds with many of his closest Protestant companions.  Many sought to give man a greater role in his own salvation, suggesting that man could by his own power, turn from evil and do good.  Luther maintained that the human will was not free, but a prisoner to either the will of God or the will of Satan.[9]   Moreover, aside from God’s grace, “the free-will can do nothing but evil.”[10] He argued that some were predestined to receive grace and while others scorn the offer for grace.  Luther, in expounding on the justice of God, said that God must be held in awe, because in his mercy, he justifies totally unworthy people. Furthermore even when he seems unjust, one must believe that he is just, not according to human reasoning or justice but because he is the one true God whose knowledge and wisdom is incomprehensible.[11] 

Luther brilliantly illustrated man’s lack of freedom concerning his will in the Exodus account when God used Pharaoh’s hardened heart and resistance to demonstrate his glory, pointing out that God could not have with certainty proclaimed that Pharaoh’s heart would remain hardened if Pharaoh, by his own power, had the freedom of will to turn and do good; thereby making God out to be a liar.[12]  Luther concluded that “God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my workings, but according to His own grace and mercy.”[13]

Conclusion

  The Lutheran theology fought to revive the brilliance of the Scriptures in an age when the Church had turned to its own devices and tradition suppressed truth.   In Lutheranism, the papacy was met with moral and doctrinal grievances, and a plea to return to the Word of God as the final authority for the Church.  Luther’s soteriological beliefs placed total trust in the work of Christ above the works of man and his polemical writings expounded beautifully on exactly how faith alone justified.  


[1] Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity, Volume 2, (Peabody, Massachusetts: Prince Press, 2009), 29.

[2] Indulgences were the remissions by the Church of the temporal penalty due to forgiven sin, in virtue of the merits of Christ and the saints.  The Church, by her power of jurisdiction, had the right of administering the benefit of these merits in consideration of the prayers or other pious works undertaken by the faithful. Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), s.v. “Indulgences.”

[3] The Creeds of Christendom, the Greek and Latin Creeds, Volume 3.  Edited by Philip Schaff, revised by David S. Schaff.  6th edition; (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1990),  61

[4] Ibid.

[5]  The Lutheran Confession of faith, mainly the work of P. Melanchthon, which, after receiving Luther’s approval, was presented at Augsburg to the Emperor Charles V on June 24, 1530.  Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, s.v. “Augsburg Confession.”

[6] The Creeds of Christendom, the Greek and Latin Creeds, Volume 3, 26.

[7] Gonzalez, 19.         

[8] The Creeds of Christendom, the Greek and Latin Creeds, Volume 3, 21.

[9] Martin Luther, Selections from His Writings, ed.  John Dillenberger, (New York: Anchor Books, 1962), 190.

[10] Ibid., 195.

[11] Ibid., 200.

[12] Luther, Selections from His Writings, 197.

[13] Ibid., 199.

 
 

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Liberal affects on the Impoverished Black Community; A look at why Welfare Reform is needed.

 by Alesha Martin

Liberal policies have torn apart the black family, kept a nation poor and desperate for change, clinging to hope and fearing progress…

Some may foolishly ask… “How is it the liberal agenda has torn down anything? Did it set an atmosphere where mothers are far more likely than unwed and poor, even after a post-welfare-reform decline in child poverty; and that they are also more likely to pass that poverty on to their children. It’s not about a liberal or conservative agenda. It’s the degradation of our culture”

This argument is quite powerful and concise but check this out…

I respectfully disagree that an agenda is not a root cause of such a poor state of our people. What atmosphere was created was a wealth of social programs that targeted the dependent nature of our people to garner the need for government assistance (like the slave was taught to depend on master), what it created was a lack of self reliance- What it diminishes is the traditional family by creating a generational influence. What it does not do is promote family allegiance, core values, limited government and independence. It does not encourage traditional marriage between one man and one woman at one time- it does not push an agenda of progressive ideology – yet uses the very same tactics of the era of equality that only riles emotions, keeps prejudice and racism internalized in our people and in fact keeps segregation alive and well in our nation.

A liberal agenda has always been more government control masked under the conventional message of “we are for the people, we are here to help”. The belief an economy can absorb any number of dependent citizens and still be functional is reckless. In other words, it doesn’t matter how many people are on state aid and not working, liberals say we can care for them all no matter who has to pick up the tab.

Elite Black leaders such as Sharpton and Jackson helped frame a movement of equality but lack the much needed message of progress for the greater whole that we need now. I accept the need for certain government welfare spending, as I am for federal legislation that ensures civil equality. I am a progressive thinker; I do not internalize oppressive views that allow me or my children to feel anyone has an advantage over us or who we are or what we represent. I resent the master gone take care of us mentality of the NAACP (no matter what color that master is). I understand that because I wish for my children to have a continued rich heritage and legacy for their children and generations to come– starts with me– it’s that important to me- and so it starts now.

We never forget our past, we never forget our struggles however we do form an indubitable communal bond that results in self reliance.

 
 
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