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Help Me Evangelize!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Every Christian I know has a desire to share the Good News with other people.  They want to share the peace they have in knowing that God forgives (1 John 1:9), Jesus saves (Acts 4:12) and the Spirit guides us (John 16:13).  Christians want their relatives, friends, and everyone else for that matter, to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).

The question is, “How do I accomplish this?”  Do an internet search with: How to evangelize, and you will receive over 3.5 million results.  With so many aids to evangelize one wonders why the church buildings are not jam-packed full!  The reality is that there is no secret sauce, potion or man-made strategies that are more powerful than what God has given us.

The Lord’s Sermon on the Mount is chock-full of advice on how to live, and that my friend is the most powerful way to evangelize.  If people see the hope that is in you, if they see the happiness and peace that the Gospel provides for you and, if people see you overcome tragedies with a smile they will want what you have. (1 Peter 3:15; Philippians 4:7)

There are some tools, however, that can help you evangelize.  Hueytown is blessed to have two preachers, several deacons and elders who are able and willing to teach your sphere of influence.  Reach out and use these tools.  Our weekly bulletin contains good teaching material, hand them out.  The church’s website is replete with audio recordings of great teachers from the present to the past.  Find a sermon you think a friend needs and share the link.  Our website has a “SHARE” button for every audio sermon.  Ed’s sermon outlines are usually uploaded to the website, as well.

We now can LIVE STREAM our services via Facebook and Youtube.  Share those links with your friends.  When you search Youtube with: Hueytown Church of Christ, our video archive page will come up.  Each video has a “SHARE” button.  Click on it and send to your friends or post it to your Facebook page.

Finally, LIKE our sermons!  Yes, you read it right, LIKE our sermons. The more you click like on our Facebook and Youtube sermons the more these platforms will promote them.

Let’s get busy with evangelizing.

Preaching the Good News, From Nahum?

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

When one hears the name, Nahum, one usually does not think about evangelism, especially to the people of Nineveh.  However, all the prophets spoke about the Good News, whether it was for immediate attention, future fulfillment or both.  In Nahum one can read about the explicit Gospel promises echoed in the New Testament: promises of good news and peace (Nahum 1:15), an end to the Lord’s punishment because of rebellion (Nahum 1:12), an end to the power of the oppressors (Nahum 1:13), and that God is a stronghold and refuge for those in trouble.

Additionally, the excellencies of God are proclaimed in judgment (Nahum 1:2-7; Jeremiah 18:7-10), those who repent will be saved.  Whenever there is a pronouncement of judgment one should understand that judgment is a means of grace to the hearer (Hebrews 4:11; 6:1-8).  Truth is being proclaimed and that truth is a manifestation of God’s saving grace.

There is also comfort in knowing that God is just and that just punishment is coming to those who oppress the righteous.  At the conclusion, all will be made right because God is fair (Psalm 2; Luke 20:43; John 12:31; Colossians 2:14-15; Hebrews 10:13).

When Nineveh went too far in mistreating God’s people, Jehovah promised to shame them publicly (Nahum 3:5-7), eventually, in the New Testament, the shame and pain of our sins were borne by God in the flesh (Psalm 2:27; Luke 23:37).  If it were not for God’s mercy and grace our fate would be the same as that of Nineveh.  Instead, we now stand before God’s presence blameless and with great joy (Jude 1:24)

The entirety of the Bible is about the grace of God ultimately revealed in Christ (Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39, 46).  The whole Bible is about the gospel (Romans 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:10-12). This includes Nahum.  Reading the minor prophet’s message, we see judgment fall on the wicked, and the course that culminates in Jesus continues-a path that clarifies ho any wicked person can be fully, completely and freely forgiven.

Simply put, evangelism is proclaiming the Gospel for a verdict.  This is why evangelism is urgent, especially in the light of the end that is to come when the Lord returns.  At the coming of the Lord, He will deal out “retribution to those who do not know God, and to those who did not obey the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.”  (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

Can We Trust the Story of Jonah?

Friday, November 01, 2019

And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights.”  Jonah 1:17

On March 9, 2019, Rainer Schimpf was photographing a mass of sardines off South Africa’s coast when all of a sudden, he was halfway swallowed by a whale.  Headfirst and to his waist, he was in the whale’s mouth!  Within a couple of seconds, the whale spits him out.[1]

WTVR.com reported the story as “Real-life ‘Jonah’ Escapes After Nearly Being Swallowed By Whale.”[2]  No doubt some in the religious realm were excited to finally have some proof of the possibility that a whale can swallow a human, and the human survive. Somehow this would give credence to the Biblical account of Jonah and the great fish. 

Most of us grew up hearing the story of Jonah and the great fish, or whale or sea monster.  Jonah was the cantankerous prophet who ran away from God and ended up being swallowed up and then thrown up by a whale. After Jonah’s time in the belly of the great fish, he proved obedient to the Word of God, preached to the people of Nineveh, and they repented.  

It’s a great story, but is it true?  Bible skeptics and even theologians have argued that this is too good to be true, too fantastical to be authentic and, therefore, it must be a “whale of a tale.”  Some Bible believers, on the other hand, have searched for a modern story or some type of evidence that can lend credibility to Jonah and the great fish.  So, when Rainer was halfway swallowed by the Bryde whale they were quick to point out that it was very plausible for a man to be swallowed whole by a whale-thus Jonah and the great fish had to be a real story.

True believers do not need external evidences of a halfway swallowed photographer in order to feel confident that Jonah indeed existed, that he was swallowed by a whale, and that he survived for three days and three nights (Jonah 1:17).  Christians do not need to find a metaphorical meaning to the story, especially since Jesus presented the story as a factual and literal account (Matthew 12:40).

The Bible moment…

Just as with the creation of the universe or the resurrection of Jesus, Christians do not need similar examples to prove such things can happen.  After all, these things are miracles!  Miracles cannot be duplicated by nature, they are by definition supernatural.  We wouldn’t expect these things to be randomly duplicated at various points in history.  And, if God can create the heavens and the earth ex nihilo (out of nothing), then swallowing a prodigal prophet whole and then puking him on the shore three days and three nights later would be, for Him, easy!  “I am the Lord, the God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?”  (Jeremiah 32:27)  “If God can do miracles, including submarining Jonah to a desired location, then He can handle whatever worries you today.”[3]

 

[1] (Pappas, 2019)

[2] (Tribune Media Wire, 2019)

[3] (Strobel & Mittelberg, 2016)

Jesus in the Protevangelium

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.’”  Genesis 3:14-15

Society loves origins.  We are obsessed with: “Where did they come from?”  “How did this all start?”  “Why did the story end this way?”  This is why movie makers and book writers have given us pre-quals.  The Bible has given us the Protevangelium for the Greatest Story Ever Told.  Here is today’s Bible moment…

The Spirit of God uses frightening imagery to describe the battle between good and evil, God and the devil, and man and sin when He spoke of the woman, her Seed, and the serpent.  Man had been deceived by the devil who had appeared in the form of a serpent (Genesis 3:1; Revelation 12:9).  Due to the serpent’s craftiness and man’s disobedience to God’s Word, sin reigned in the heart of man and separated man from God (Genesis 2:16-17; Isaiah 59:2).  Even so, God looked at His children with love and spoke the Protevangelium.

Protevangelium comes from the Latin: proto-first, original; and Evangelium-gospel.[1]  Salvation comes through the Son Jesus the Christ and in Genesis 3:14-15 God promised mankind salvation from their sins.  God pronounced a curse on the serpent that one day he would be defeated with a crushing blow to the head (Genesis 3:14-15).  When Jesus was crucified the devil fulfilled part of the Protevangelium promise, “…and you shall bruise Him on the heel.”  (Genesis 3:15) However, the promise that provided hope to mankind was when God said, “…He [Jesus] will crush you [the devil] on the head…”  (ibid).  This was the first Gospel preached, and it was preached to Adam and Eve-Jesus the Son of God would one day come to offer salvation to mankind!

The Bible moment…

Even though theologians define Protevangelium as the first Gospel, there is one Gospel.  The message of salvation was prophesied in Genesis and pointed to the future fulfillment in Christ.  God so loved us that He had the forethought to have a plan to save mankind, to make provision for our sins, and to eventually send His Son to die on our behalf (John 3:16, 36).

 

[1] (Longman, 2005)

Made in God’s Image

Friday, October 25, 2019

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them created mankind.”  Genesis 1:27

Imago Dei refers to the unique imprint God placed upon humanity, identifying people as a special creation-Imago Dei is Latin for the “image of God.”  The Bible moment…

The fact that humans are made in the image of God is one of the most important biblical revelations for Christians, but most viciously attacked by non-believers.    

The questions we must deal with if indeed we are created in the image of God, and He has placed His unique imprint upon us, why the endless murders, rapes, stabbings, massacres, and other forms of violence?  How can humans be created in the image of God when we commit such evil acts of violence toward each other?  How do we explain our lust for power, the destruction of our fellow man, the building up of our military might, and escalation of wars?  In the face of such violent humanity, how can we say we are superior to the animal kingdom? 

There are two things to note about being created in the image of God: Humans have a spirit, and the ability to know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil.  

Our human spirit provides evidence that God’s traits like love, justice and freedom to choose are alive in us-thus making us different than animals.  The human spirit enables us to reason, have emotions, such as love and anger and to understand that we have value.

Another quality we share with God is the moral ability to recognize good and evil, which God demonstrated through Adam and Eve from the beginning.  So as free moral agents we can act freely in a morally good or evil way.  We can choose either to shine forth “the moral image of God or flat out reject it, but either way, the ability to make the choice reveals our underlying similarity to our Creator.”  [1]

It should be emphasized that humans are different than the rest of creation; the immense gulf separating self-realization from consciousness and morality from amorality speak to the strong evidence that we are indeed made in the image of God. 

 

The Bible moment…

When Adam looked for a mate, he quickly understood that he would not be able to find one suitable among the animal kingdom.  Among all of creation, we are uniquely made Imago Dei.  What a privilege to be created in the image of God.  There was a time in creation when the Godhead spoke, “Let US make man in OUR image…and let them rule over the animals…”  (Genesis 1:26-27) Mankind is far superior, created with greater value, for nobler purposes, and with the greatest potential than the rest of God’s creation.  You are worthy, you are important, you are created in the image of God!

 

[1] (Strobel & Mittelberg, 2016)

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