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The Church cannot grow if it will not share the gospel

 

I stumbled recently across an interesting blog post on the sharing the gospel – or rather the lack of it – by the Rev’d Richard Moy. While visiting five cathedrals over the last few weeks, he has become increasingly concerned about the lack of any attempt during services to share the gospel in any shape or form to the all those visiting. He writes:

In all the services I have attended (bar a nearly deserted Durham) there have been  scores of onlookers and often scores of would be participants. Yet only in the Catholic cathedral did anyone make even the slightest attempt at a homily – let alone a succinct, compelling presentation of the Christian faith.

One might argue that the ambiance and worship might be sufficiently attractive in itself, but a) St Paul’s had all the atmosphere of being a hen in a petting zoo as tourists at the north, south , west and east ends of the sanctuary surrounding the hapless worship pets (literally) like children on a field trip; and b) the lectionary readings at Durham/Canterbury were so objectionable without context or explanation that a casual inquirer / chance visitor / faith seeker would most likely be provoked to run away (screaming).

Moy’s experiences have caused me to think once again about the need for churches and Christians to present their faith in a way that actually attracts people to it. Christians have proved over the last few years that they are more than capable of following the biblical mandate to carry out compassionate social action targeting those in need, but what difference does it make? There is always a risk that churches allow themselves to become little more than an extension of the welfare state run by well-meaning Christians kindly funding it out of their own pockets.

According to Pope Francis, what stops the Church from being just another NGO is the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit’s prompting in each and every Christian that convicts us to reach out to those in need. This is in the form of active practical service, but should equally be through the sharing of the Good News of salvation and restoration that comes through belief in Jesus Christ. Figures from a report in 2013 by the think-tank Res Publica found this to be largely the case. 81 per cent of respondents involved in Christian social action said they had become involved because of their faith. 48 per cent also said that they were involved to help actively promote their faith and convert others.

If all this Church social action – which involves hundreds of thousands of Christians at a cost of tens of millions of pounds – is being truly effective, then we should see it reflected in church growth. If those receiving all of this care and attention are not able to gain an understanding of the faith that drives it, then something major is being left out. Seeing people experiencing the joy and peace that comes from a new life in Christ as a consequence of this work should be more than wishful thinking.

The Cinnamon Network recently released a report which attempts to gauge the significant extent of Church social work in this country. But Jubilee+, who have been carrying out similar research since 2010, published data this week which examines whether these efforts are leading to church growth.

The simple answer appears to be that church numbers are going up as a result, although, perhaps unsurprisingly, larger churches are benefitting to a greater degree, and inner-city churches are being much more successful than rural ones. If you look at how fruitful churches regard their initiatives, many are describing the growth as poor, with larger churches just creeping into the ’good’ category.

This is not all bad news by any means, but neither is it worth shouting from the rooftops. For many, hands-on support and help is a lot more straightforward than finding chances to talk about our beliefs and motivations, or offering to pray for someone. There is, of course, a stark difference between aggressive proselytisation – where beliefs are pressed on users or services are withheld in some way unless clients accept the Christian faith, of which there is often scant evidence – and speaking openly and candidly about the place of belief in the work being carried out. The danger, though, is that by being overly careful not to overstep the mark or worrying about offending others, that too little is said rather than too much. Jesus never said that being his witnesses would be easy, but He did say that His Holy Spirit would give us strength and the words to say.

Justin Welby, for whom the joy of the gospel is never far from his lips, came back to the subject once again when preaching at Muen Church in China on Sunday. He said:

All this brings us to the heart of witness that is the Christian community, living faithfully to Christ in the normal pressures of life as a blessing to its society in obedience to the leaders of that society, so as to enable the church to live in peace and to demonstrate to the world the reality of Jesus Christ.

Witness always includes words, but it starts with actions because it is those that people around us understand most clearly.

If people could be made Christians through argument alone, God would not have sent His Son, but a philosopher. If people could be persuaded to be good Christians by force, He would have sent a soldier. If people could be manipulated and tricked into being good Christians or bribed into being good Christians, He would have sent some kind of crooked person who was good at trickery.

But God did not do any of those things. Our loving Heavenly Father “so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that all who believed in Him should not perish but have eternal life” and he left a community of ordinary people like us, filled with the Holy Spirit, who exists to witness to the truth of Jesus.

The community of the Trinity is lived out in the sight of the world by the community of the church.

Which is why at the end of the reading (1Peter 3: 8-18a) is the call “always to be ready to give an explanation of the hope that is within” us, but gently and respectfully.

Are we each able to explain why we are Christians? If someone asks do we know what to say? Practice with a Christian friend. Know what you need to say that is respectful, gracious and answers only what someone asks.

A British theologian called Lesslie Newbigin describes the church as the interpreter of the gospel. The challenge is that we are to be community that is both such a blessing to its society and so different from all other communities that when people look at it they see the reality of God.

If churches meet the physical and emotional needs of those they come alongside, but ignore their spiritual needs, it does them a great disservice and neuters the true nature of the gospel. As individuals, the sharing of our beliefs and the transformational effect of a relationship with God should never be forced, but neither should it be held back due to any type of fear. If pressures due to external funding of projects hinder honesty and openness, then such constraints, whether real or perceived, need to be addressed. The truth is too precious to be suppressed.

What we see when we read of the account of the Early Church in the Book of Acts is a people so full of faith and confidence that their desire to spread the Good News through action, word and miracles overcame all the inherent risks and dangers they faced. The message of God’s love and unending mercy is exactly the same now as it was back then, and it is still just as important that it be shared in our cathedrals, through our social action projects and by our daily living. It is a precious gift that we cannot afford to keep hidden.

  • Manfarang

    “One of the things that strikes me about China is how hard people work and the pressure they are under. Pressure includes the pressure from within us to succeed.”
    Most Chinese would regard this as just normal.

  • Dominic Stockford

    Durham lectionary readings were so objectionable?

    The whole of the Gospel (properly presented) is an offence, is objectionable, an affront to the unbeliever. Or was Jesus wrong when he said that?

    • Acts 8:30-31. ‘”Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?”‘

      Whilst I would never describe the reading of the Scriptures as ‘objectionable,’ to read a chunk of it without context or explanation and expect people to be saved by it might be described as testing the Holy Spirit. “Preach the word!” (2 Tim. 4:2).

      • Dominic Stockford

        I can in one sense agree. But the power is in The Word, not in my words.

        • alternative_perspective

          No, the power is in the Holy Spirit.
          The word is a signpost to a person, the persons of God.
          If we present the Gospel without explanation, without context and devoid of the Spirit then we abuse God’s word, it is akin to throwing our pearls to the pigs.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Forgive me for asking then, when the Bible states:

            “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for
            salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the
            Greek.”

            Does that not refer directly to the Word? I know the Holy Spirit must enliven the individual to hear, repent and be transformed – but only the Word/Gospel is what can be heard, bring someone to understand their need for repentance, and transform someone – the Holy Spirit never does that separately from the Word, or does he?

          • preacher

            My own experience was a Damascus Road one Dominic, but that doesn’t detract from the Word at all – The first thing I did was to buy a Bible & read it from cover to cover with great enthusiasm. I really wanted to get as much of the Lord as possible.
            We must remember that Jesus is the Living Word & works with the written word.

            Bless you Brother.

          • Dominic Stockford

            So if someone picks up and reads a bible with only the Holy Spirit for company, and with no explanation from a person , and so on, what then?

  • ‘Which is why at the end of the reading (1Peter 3: 8-18a) is the call “always to be ready to give an explanation of the hope that is within” us, but gently and respectfully.

    Are we each able to explain why we are Christians? If someone asks do we know what to say? Practice with a Christian friend. Know what you need to say that is respectful, gracious and answers only what someone asks.’

    That’s right, but only partially. We can take the initiative. When Andrew met the Lord Jesus Christ, the first thing he did was tell his brother, Simon Peter and bring him to meet the Lord (John 1:40-42). Philip did the same thing (vs. 43-45). We also can follow their example by inviting our friends and relatives to come to church with us (always pre-supposing that our church is the sort of place where someone is likely to meet Jesus!).
    .
    A lot of people are hurting and struggling and are without hope. maybe they’ll come if we ask them, or maybe just leave them a tract or a Gideon Testament.

  • Phil R

    A statistic that sticks in my mind is that 80% of adults who regard themselves as saved and regularly attend Church, state that the decision was made before the age of 18.

    It seems that we put in a huge amount of effort and resuorces focusing on the 20%

    Perhaps we should rethink where our social action and other effort is focused to achieve growth

  • underground pewster

    The Church which loses its grip on the Gospel will end up presenting many false gospels in far too many different ways to fewer and fewer congregants, Confusing and contradictory messages do not help the wayward and the lost.

    • Coniston

      There are indeed many churches in this country and around the world which have become ‘hollowed out’ – having a veneer of Christianity, but in reality merely reflecting the secular and pagan cultures which they inhabit. The church I attend – not an evangelical one – always preaches the Gospel.

  • The Gospel is not being preached effectively across Britain, therefore Christian numbers are reducing. Solve that problem and I predict millions will be added fairly quickly. The Church of England is a broad church and can encompass many viewpoints – however it must teach the essential doctrine.

  • alternative_perspective

    The whole CoE seems to be in denial.

    Many churches report growth but I bet you that “all” that growth is from existing Christians moving into the area and not the newcomers to the faith.

    New growth comes from the city churches which tend to be farm more, evangelical, often charismatic and / or somewhat Calvinistic (grrr Calvinism) .

    The CoE is living off the work, the strong teaching and large giving of these churches whilst simultaneously marginalising them in power structures, vilifying them in the media and pursuing unity with the world, rather than them.

    When will this crisis finally strike home? When will the liberal church, leaching off the conservatives, finally accept their message and form of church is dying before their very eyes and how long before these vibrant and evangelic churches cast off the shackles of the CoE and realign themselves with the future of Global Anglicanism?

    Seriously, the Bishops pursue the same failed policies and beliefs: spreading their wet catholic liberalism far and wide and in doing so they hasten the church’s implosion. ABC Welby needs to act.

    • carl jacobs

      somewhat Calvinistic (grrr Calvinism)

      Why do you kick against the goads?

  • Shadrach Fire

    Gillan, a very good post.
    At last others are speaking out about the lack of evangelism in the church abroad.
    I met God in an Evangelical CofE Church in west London in 1966 and the young christians were all involved in outreach of different kinds.

    It might of been the Inspector that said that many of the parish priests and Bishops were trained in Liberal Colleges back in the 60’s and 70’s and their concern is only in the ministation of religious services which, if they do anything, only benefit the half committed congregations. If those congregations were presented with a powerful Gospel message they would probably run out and never come back. The reason is they don’t Know Jesus.

    Any new convert who has a profound experience with Jesus Christ and he lives in their heart will be so excited that no one could stop them from speaking of Jesus. Even in their ignorance they may get some things wrong, it does not matter because the spirit speaks through their enthusiasm and god has said that he will tell us what to say when we need it.

    Keep up the good work Gillan with this vital message and encourage those who are likeminded.

    • David

      Same here for me, and well said !
      There is a strongly beating heart within the C of E, led by The Spirit, and it is found within the vibrant, growing evangelical churches, which are usually male led.

  • preacher

    I feel that we have become to reliant on what we regard as ‘the Church’. – We Are the Church.
    When will we learn that if it isn’t living, challenging & exciting for us, then it isn’t going to attract anyone else.
    The Bible tells us that we are ‘More than conquerors’ yet we live like a nation under siege, we go to Church on Sunday & follow our rituals, (Yes these do include the electric ‘super’ churches) as well as the more Conservative ones. Then we go out & ignore the words of the Great Commission because “That’s the vicar’s job”.

    Serving Christ should be more exciting than watching football – & all of us can play!.
    The Holy Spirit will supply all we need, & life with him is Never boring.
    When people see your enthusiasm, they will want what you’ve got & ask you questions.
    A word of advice, don’t go all ‘Church-ie on them, – & from experience don’t invite them to come to your Church straight away. Give them room & time – your time, learn to love them, not just as a social worker for Christ, but from your heart.
    You won’t reach them all, but you will reach some, & remember, it’s not about us, it’s about Them! & Jesus’ love for them.
    A final word – Read your Bible – regularly, it’s a friend & a teacher.

    • David

      A very good post !

  • not a machine

    I perhaps am a little concerned , that references to the early church as being a template , didn’t have much of marketing plan , are we confusing 2 lines of preaching , marketing and prayer ?

  • len

    Could it be that we no longer understand the Gospel or if we do understand fail to present the Gospel in the manner which will make it understandable?.
    We are now living in a post Christian Europe and the culture here is basically pagan
    The Gospel if presented as it was say 50 yrs ago has no foundation on which to build because the foundation has been all but destroyed not in fact (but in the minds of most of the population)
    The Apostle Paul had exactly the same problem when preaching to those with a Greek culture(Ie show me facts show me proof) and Paul had to rebuild the Biblical Foundation before He could preach the Gospel.There are youths today who have no knowledge at all of Biblical history because it is no longer taught and it is taught at all it is far behind the new religion (Darwinism)
    So if we are to preach the Gospel at all we need a new approach and to start from the very foundational Truths first.

    https://answersingenesis.org/answers/books/the-lie-evolution/

  • carl jacobs

    Fascinating.

    This thread has attracted zero interest from the unbelieving community of commenters. One might suspect the subject is too theological. Too churchy. But the previous thread is about Hell, and that attracted all kinds of comments from unbelievers. Is Hell less theological and churchy than the Gospel?

    This illustrates an important point. As a general rule, people don’t pay any attention the whole “Christ in the Cross” thing. It might as well be angels on the head of a pin for all they care. It gets consigned to the bin labeled “abstract nonsense.” But the subject of Hell is different. That gets their back up. Why? Because that subject implies something about men that they don’t want to hear. Something that offends them quite deeply.

    That’s called the “Offense of the Gospel” btw, and it says something about how we should evangelize. We shouldn’t soft-sell and withhold the ‘hard stuff’ for fear of giving offense. The offense is already there, and people have to go through it.

    • sarky

      Carl, zero comment due to 15hr shift! !!!! I would like to say I’m not offended by hell, I just find the whole concept ridiculous.
      With regards to the gospel, I think you need to understand PEOPLE JUST DONT CARE and you can hard/soft sell all you want it will make no difference. We have moved on and you just arnt relevent any more, you had your shot now let it go.

      • preacher

        Hey Sarky. There’s a saying of Jesus, you’ve probably read it as you’ve had a ‘Church’ background. “Don’t cast your pearls before swine or they will turn & attack you!”. Why? – Because the Porkers are happy doing what they do & don’t care about their fate.
        – Bacon sandwich anyone or maybe a nice Pork chop ?. LOL!.
        Have a happy weekend brother!.

        • sarky

          Remember what a pearl is? Just a bit of grit embellished over the years.
          The swine have finally realised that your pearls are just grit.

          • preacher

            Yep, that’s the answer bro’ but I’d rather be a pearl than remain a bit of grit, even if the grit remains at the heart of the pearl, it’s still valuable, & it only exists at all because it irritates the Oyster out of it’s complacency.
            On the other hand, the Oyster recognises it’s problem & does something about it, but the poor old porker in his ignorance just faces a miserable fate.
            Good to share, but I’ve really gotta go. Have a good one mate.

      • carl jacobs

        Interesting observer effect on this thread as people who let it lie fallow for 24 hours suddenly rush in to comment. It was inevitable that pointing out this fact would change the dynamic.

        Sarky

        I understand the impact of being tired and not having the energy to respond. But it wasn’t just you.

    • Linus

      Oh dear, more of this twisted Christian idea that “if they dare to argue with us, that proves they know they’re in the wrong!”

      The real offence being discussed here has nothing to do with the Gospel. It’s all about what in French we call “lèse Majesté”, for which no direct translation into English exists (or at least not one that I’m aware of), but which basically means “how dare they not bow down before me and my superior knowledge and live their lives according to my dictates!” It says something pretty profound about what motivates Christian belief.

      A victim of “lèse Majesté” collapses into uncontrollable outrage every time his will is thwarted in any way. The thwarter becomes an object of unutterable hatred, which the Christian resolves by consigning him to hell. As God is actually just a proxy for the Christian’s firmly held belief in his own divinity, any attempt to dispute his judgment can therefore be dismissed as proceeding from pride, or jealousy, or whatever other sin(s) he decides the thwarter is guilty of. Evidence of that guilt is to be found in the departure from the Christian’s idea of approved doctrine. After all, if you are God and a thwarter thwarts you, the very act of thwarting must condemn him straight to hell.

      So careful everyone when interacting with the American contingent, because you’re speaking directly to God. Or at least that’s what he believes…

      • Martin

        Linus

        You don’t have to bow down to me, I’m just a messenger, but you will, one day, bow down to the one whose message I carry. Either you will bow willingly or you will bow as a defeated enemy who has no choice.

        • Linus

          You’ve got it the wrong way round. God is the sock puppet and it’s your hand rammed up his rear end moving his lips, not the other way round. Millions of other Christians have got their hands rammed up there too. They’re all projecting their belief in their own invincibility onto this Punch puppet and imbuing him with the omnipotent powers they crave for themselves.

          Nobody will bow to you, either willingly or as a defeated enemy. Why? Because you’re a demented religious obsessive who thinks all he has to do to conjure up omnipotence is to invoke an imaginary scarecrow he calls God and everyone will quake in their boots in fear.

          Nobody fears you, except perhaps the unfortunate sod who gets trapped in a lift with you and realizes from the mad glint in your eye that he’s in for a couple of hours of crazed ranting from another deluded and unstable religious fanatic. Don’t be surprised if he punches your lignts out a couple of minutes into the diatribe. It won’t be his seared conscience trying to silence the truth, but rather an act of mercy from someone who realises that in your tormented state, a few hours of unconsciousness would be the kindest thing he could do for both you and himself.

          • Martin

            Linus

            I wouldn’t want anyone to bow before me, nor fear.

            But you know God exists, and you will worship Him, willingly or otherwise.

          • Linus

            Don’t worry, nobody will bow before you or fear you. You’re just not that impressive.

            Deep down you know that God doesn’t exist and that the phantom you call God is actually just a proxy for your own ego. You can worship yourself as much as you like, of course. Nobody can stop you, no matter how ludicrous the sight of you stopping to admire your own reflection in every shop window may be.

            Christian narcissism is an interesting phenomenon because of the way it cloaks open self-adoration in false humility and claims of imperfection. The mouth says “woe is me poor sinner!” The subconscious says “my imperfect façade is just a cunning disguise for omnipotence and divinity”.

            You’re not God because there is no God you can be. You’re simply a stressed and slightly crazy human being dealing with his own impotence in the way humans have dealt with such things for thousands of years. Retreating into a fantasy of divinity is a psychological mechanism for dealing with powerlessness. Conjuring up a God who is no more than an idealized version of yourself and who will punish all your enemies for you gives you hope for the future. You WILL be vindicated and the world WILL see how perfect you really are!

            Dans vos rêves, pauvre fou !

          • Martin

            Linus

            As I said, you know God exists which means you must hide from him. That hiding, of course, means pretending God doesn’t exist.

          • Linus

            As I said, you know that your fictitious god doesn’t exist and is really just you pretending to be omnipotent. You can’t hide from yourself, but you can dress up in divine clothing and hope you’re convincing enough to fool the credulous and gullible. You’re not, of course. And you know it. But your pride requires you to continue on with the charade even when your cover has been blown.

            The nervous breakdown you would have if you ever actually confronted your own mortality and impotence would probably render you incapable of functioning, so you grasp onto your god delusion for dear life. It’s the only thing standing between you and complete psychological meltdown, isn’t it?

            If it keeps you out of a secure medical facility being detained at public expense, I suppose even Christianity has its uses…

          • Martin

            Linus

            And you are still hiding from the God you know exists.

          • Linus

            And you are still waving your sock-puppet of a god around and pretending he’s real. In case you didn’t realise, being as your god is invisible and all, WE CAN SEE YOUR HAND!

        • Linus

          The one whose message you carry is none other than you. You’re not omnipotent and judging from your poorly reasoned arguments and the way you regurgitate bits of the Bible when you can’t think of anything intelligent to say, I don’t think there’s much of a chance anyone will be bowing down to you, willingly or not. One doesn’t bow to deranged religious fanatics. One leaves them to their own devices and hopes that one day they’ll snap out of the self-involved revenge fantasy that animates them.

          I mean, I’m sure it isn’t easy being a beta male drone with no power or influence over anything or anyone, but retreating into a fantasy world where you can imagine your enemies being tortured for all eternity isn’t the answer. Let’s face it, you’re no-one special and your wishes and desires wouldn’t be taken into account by God even if he existed. The fact that he doesn’t just compounds the problem for you. How can you persuade others that your imaginary deity will hurt them if they don’t obey you?

          You clearly haven’t cracked the problem yet if your performance on this blog is anything to go by…

          • Martin

            Linus

            You know otherwise, you know God exists, that you stand condemned and will stand before Him at the last day.

    • Martin

      Carl

      I wonder, too, if people have any idea what “Jesus is Lord” means.

      • carl jacobs

        I think they do understand. They just don’t like the concept. “Who is he to rule over me?” Anyways, they certainly understand what “I am Lord” means.

        • Martin

          Carl

          Certainly they don’t like the concept but do they actually connect ‘lord’ with the concept?

  • Politically__Incorrect

    Good article Gillan. The word of the gospel is all-important. It is also powerful. At the age of 25 I asked a friend to lend me a particular Christian book he had read, and a copy of Bible. I was curious about them and had forgotten much of what I was taught about the Bible. I had grown up as something of an agnostic, but as a student who had been looking for meaning in the world of science and secularism, I had become pretty disillusioned. The book and Bible were a breath of fresh air to me. Bible stories I had heard at school, which held little meaning at the time, came to life. I have never looked back since. I’ve not always been a good Christian, but my center of gravity has always been that I am part of Creation, that I have been taught the laws of God, I have a living sviour who loves me and everybody else, and it is up to me to chose whether I follow Him.

    So spreading the Word is important. I disagree with those who say the gospel is irrelevant. On the contrary, in a world which is increasingly distrubed, confused, self-obsessed, and often downright vindictive, I can think of nothing more relevant. It’s a pity the churches are (mostly) not pulling their weight.

  • len

    I believe the situation on earth will have to get a lot worse before the population wakes up from the dream like state that the powers of darkness have induced in them(if at all)
    People will only be jogged out of their state of complacency and inertia when events start to affect them personally such as’ homosexuality issues’ or if they feel their rights have been affected in some way?. The ‘Gay Cake ‘ is a point in question.
    Much as it was’ in the Days of Noah’.
    People mocked jeered and had no idea at all of what was to come until it was too late.
    IF people keep rejecting God`s Truth then God wil l’give them over to the Lie’.I can only assume from some of the commenter’s we get on His Graces site that has probably already happened to some.

    It seems all that Christians can do is to stand on the sidelines and shout warnings hoping that some have the sense to listen?.

    • preacher

      Hey Len Greetings brother. Well we could get off the ‘sub’s’ bench & join in, many a match has been saved in the last minutes by a goal scored by a substitute!.

      • sarky

        Not when your a ‘sunday’ league side playing in the premiership!

        • preacher

          You never know brother. That’s how Giant Killers get famous !!!!!.God Bless.

  • jawjaw2013

    People do not receive the Gospel for many reasons. For a start the church was always representative of authority, and one that insisted “believe or else” until relatively recently, so it’s only natural that once people are given a choice they effectively tell it to “get lost”.

    It’s rearguard action against humanism also eroded its authority – it insisted (and continues to insist) on believing 100 impossible things before breakfast in order to be “saved”, although exactly what that means is a bit moot. Oh I read the thread on Hell, but is that fate any more persuasive than 73 virgins?

    Of course, the CofE may insist that it has changed, but it is after all still led by someone who went to Eton, and the majority of its members still support the Conservative Party (unlike the rest of the country) so the average secular Briton could be forgiven having doubts.

    The fact is the Cof E bemoans not sharing the Gospel but is not prepared to change itself sufficiently in order to do so – it is too comfortable in its own skin. It worries about its irrelevance for corporate reasons, but it is it really prepared to hang up its vestments and preach the genuine Gospel? Of course not.

    • Phil R

      You don’t need to believe 100 impossible things. Not even one.

      73 virgins or heaven. Not a difficult choice.

      The second is just like the first multiplied by a billion billion

  • IanCad

    You’re making me uncomfortable Gillan. I find it easy to talk about religion on this blog forum, and, among those who share my faith or know of my leanings.

    I have picked up the American habit of initiating conversation with anyone to hand. Perfect strangers, men, women, foreigners – it matters not. A friendly openness is generally welcomed; and of course, always I am mindful of Paul’s words:

    “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation–“
    Thus I look for opportunity to talk of spiritual things. The right opportunity, not the almost right, nor the stretch, but the perfect. Almost always I say nothing, give nothing – it was not the right time. I am ashamed.

    • preacher

      Hey Ian. Don’t wallow in the missed chances, you’re doing well – move on, you never know what the outcome will be , even with the ones you think you could have done more with.
      A friendly approach & time given can work wonders. If you are willing, God can work wonders. – Remember the loaves & fishes!.

      • IanCad

        Thanks for the encouragement Preacher.
        I will comfort myself by the mustard seed parable. Even the most casual remark may result in something sprouting.
        Bless you.

    • dannybhoy

      Ian there is a great dvd out called ‘The Father of Lights.’
      Very American, very inspirational. There’s a chap on there called Todd White (youtube him) who says every day he starts off by asking God to lead him to people to share with.So that wnether he’s shopping with his wife or going to a ball game he is always alert to the opportunities to share his faith..

  • Martin

    The gospel isn’t “Jesus loves you”

    Indeed, we are told that God does not love everyone.

    The gospel is that you, that is you reading this, are a sinner under God’s condemnation. You are a rebel, deserving of an eternal punishment for rebelling against an eternal God.

    But God (the most glorious two words) has provided a means by which you may be pardoned and adopted as His child. You only have to ask.

    Jesus died to take the punishment deserved by His people and that is offered to you.

    That’s the gospel.

    • dannybhoy

      “Jesus died to take the punishment deserved by His people and that is offered to you.
      That’s the gospel.”

      And without wishing to quibble, God provided salvation for us because He loves us. If people refuse that salvation for whatever reason they remain under God’s judgment.
      But it is God’s love for us that made salvation possible.

      • Martin

        Danny

        The Bible talks of God’s love for His creation and His love for His people, it never speaks of God’s love for all men. Indeed it speaks of His hate for Esau and His wrath on the wicked.

        We’re also told that God chose who He would save before the foundation of the Earth, that He saves them when they are dead in their sin and makes them alive. Therefore there are others who God clearly does not want to save, who He leaves in their sin of death.

        • dannybhoy

          16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgement: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
          John 3 (ESVUK)
          Martin please note that (some) people love the darkness because their works were evil.
          Their works..
          If all men are evil, why would those who do what is true come to the light?

          Then consider please Matthew 18..
          “At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them 3 and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
          If we were born sinful we could not turn and humble ourselves.
          All men sin, but not all men hate God. Consider the Jews, and their godly men. Abraham, Moses, the prophets. Yes they all sinned in their lives, but God doesn’t say they sinned because they couldn’t help but sin..

          Isaiah 1 says..
          ..Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil,17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

          18 “Come now, let us reason[c] together, says the Lord:
          though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.
          19 If you are willing and obedient,
          you shall eat the good of the land;
          20 but if you refuse and rebel,

          you shall be eaten by the sword;
          for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

          • Martin

            Danny

            You will note that only those who come are saved. All men are evil, but when God touches their hearts they come, God prepares the ground of their souls for the seed. Only when God saves us do we turn and humble ourselves. Abraham and all the saints of the Old Testament were saved in just the same way, they were turned from darkness to light.

            That Man natural state is evil does not absolve him of his duty to obey God, rather it makes it more plain. But none come to Christ unless they are so drawn.

          • dannybhoy

            Martin,
            I respect your views. I think you’ll agree that the most important thing is that we each believe that Christ Jesus died for our sins and that salvation comes only through Him.
            You may pray for me that I will see the theological light if you wish, but let’s pray for each other that we will serve Him and share our faith in Him in the power of the Holy Spirit.

          • Martin

            Danny

            The important thing is that we accept what the Bible says.

          • dannybhoy

            Martin,
            The Scriptures say a lot of things on the same issues that various holy and intelligent men have wrestled with down the centuries.
            Is this not so?
            There are viewpoints on doctrine which can gather all kinds of evidence from the Scriptures, that many of us accept as tenable and valid, but we still come down on a side which best suits our spiritual understanding.
            For example, there is no mention of Popes or Bishops living in palaces, wearing gorgeous robes and gold plated shepherd’s crooks.
            Yet they’re there.
            No injunction to turn three times, bow to each other, throw water about or kiss rings etc etc.
            But believers do.
            Popes have been proclaimed infallible, fallible, and done turn abouts on pronouncements by previous Popes. They have committed indiscretions had people murdered etc etc. Covered up abuse of children, had financial scandals etc. etc.
            And still people bow to the organised churches -both Catholic and CofE’s authority!
            And you’re telling me to accept what the Bible says.
            I do accept it, in it’s entirety. I hold things in tension, and I don’t let them bother me.

          • Martin

            Danny

            So those things you’ve mentioned have no authority. But the Bible does say that God has chosen those He will save before the Earth was created.

            Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. Eph 1:3-6.

          • dannybhoy

            This says it so much better than I could..
            “Predestination: Does God Choose Your Fate?”
            https://www.gci.org/God/predestination
            God is outside of time. When He decided to create man He knew what the risks were of endowing us with intelligence and freewill.
            So in the event that man (as in Adam), would at some point choose to disobey God He had a plan in place whereby these free will, intelligent creatures could find repentance, forgiveness and restoration to full fellowship with their Creator. The plan was dependent on them responding as individuals to God’s plan of salvation, but as many as did would be saved.

          • Martin

            Danny

            What a dishonest article that is. The writer first mentions two passages where Paul speaks of predestination, Romans 8 and Ephesians 1, then proceeds to expound an entirely different passage, Romans 9. Such can be nothing less than lying!

            Do you really imagine that the God who is outside of time, who sees the end from the beginning, did not know Adam would fall, did not plan the crucifixion before He created and even knew of this conversation before time began?

            Tell me, do the dead have free will, can they arise from the grave and go about their business? It is the same with the sinner, dead in their sins. We by nature have no free will, we can only do what our natures, our sinful natures, allow. We can do nothing, while in our sins, to please God, and that includes repentance. God is not dependant upon us in any way, we are entirely dependant upon Him.

            This glorious chain declares it:

            For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. Romans 8:29-30

            There is nothing in that for us to do.

          • dannybhoy

            I think lying is probably too strong a word
            -unless God predestined him to be a liar and deceiver? In which case he could not help but do what God had preordained him to do.. :0)
            Of course I accept the verses, but I reject the interpretation you put on them.
            Mainly because there are plenty of other passages that speak of man’s free will and would therefore infer that God lies when He invites us to reason together with Him, or that He so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son so that whosoever believeth on Him should not die but have everlasting life.
            And of course finally when Jesus gave the great commission to the disciples and that the disciples said the same thing in their letters..
            Nowhere does the Bible specifically state that we men are unaccountable, that we cannot repent as Nineveh did and turn from our wicked ways…

          • Martin

            Danny

            I don’t think ling is too strong a word, and God never predestines us to sin, we do that all on our own.

            If you accept the verses, why do you reject the plain meaning? We have a clear sequence:

            predestined

            called

            justified

            glorified.

            All acts of God.

            Can you show me where a sinner’s free will allows them to be saved, where God does not first ring them to an understanding of their state? When God invites us to reason with Him has He not made the first move, awakened the soul?

            When Nebuchadnezzar is moved to declare the greatness of God had not God first brought him low and enabled him to see God’s greatness?

            Of course those who believe will be saved, but the causal agent for that belief is God, not man. And of course men are not unaccountable, just as those who were invited to the feast were accountable for their refusal to come, they had the invitation but did not come, those on the street were compelled to come. We will not repent unless God destroys our defences.

          • dannybhoy

            Acts 16..

            “27 When the jailer woke and saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, supposing that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul cried with a loud voice, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here.” 29 And the jailer[f] called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas. 30 Then he brought them out and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 And they said,
            .”..if God has you marked down for salvation you shall be saved, you and your household.

          • Martin

            Danny

            So what are you trying to prove? The jailer experienced God working in him as did the eunuch. God must first prepare the soil before the seed will grow properly.

          • dannybhoy

            No Martin, some people even in their sinfulness seek God.

            Even God acknowledges that men can be righteous men in His sight..

            “21 When Enoch had lived for 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God[b] after he fathered Methuselah for 300 years and had other sons and daughters.23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not,[c] for God took him.”

            What I am disputing with you is that you seem to believe it is all down to God, and I am saying that although all men are sinners they can still seek God and will be found by Him.
            As soon as a person begins to question his own existence or behaviour I think God by His Holy Spirit starts talking to that person’s heart, starts putting Christians in their path, starts getting Christians to pray for them etc.
            We know that God says He is unwilling that any should perish. This to my mind cannot be reconciled with the idea that God chooses some to be saved, even though all deserve to die. If God chooses some, why not all?

          • Martin

            Danny

            Enoch’s righteousness was the righteousness God imparts to those He saves. He was righteous as every Christian is righteous.

            No one ever questions their state unless God moves their hearts to do so. Every instance of salvation records God working first, indeed in the parable of the sower, no seed thrives unless it lands on prepared ground.

            God does not ell us why He chooses some, aside from it being for His own glory. He has a desire that all might be saved, for the offer goes out to all, but He acts in order that some will be saved.

          • dannybhoy

            God does not ell us why He chooses some, aside from it being for His own glory. He has a desire that all might be saved, for the offer goes out to all, but He acts in order that some will be saved

            I would commend to you “God’s Strategy in Human History” by Roger Forster and Paul Marston.

            This link will give you an overview..

            http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/a-critical-review-of-gods-strategy-in-human-history

            (Obviously I don’t agree with the reviewer’s conclusions, but it gives you an idea of the book’s premise)

            As you know the devout Jews do not believe man is born sinful or evil, but the issue it seems to me is what do we mean by evil or sinful?
            I think you and I would agree that man is guilty before God, that our righteousness is as filthy rags before Him.
            Yet in saying that we have Scriptures which indicate God’s love for us collectively and as individuals.
            That God took some men into His confidence, told them that He intended to destroy the world as it was (Noah) was prepared to negotiate over the fate of a city (Abraham) that He loved David even though he sinned, that he understood Moses, spoke to Samuel as a friend, that he understood the men called to be prophets and sent ravens to feed them, etc. etc.
            Then consider that though man is estranged from God, he still seeks after God (Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism etc etc)
            and that he wants a happy just and compassionate world.

            My view is that man is a creature who wants to make his own decisions rather than ask his Creator. In disobeying God’s command not to eat of the tree of knowledge Adam then lost his place of authority and gave it to Lucifer.
            (Cosmic stuff!)
            I do think it’s a cosmic thing, that there is another level of reality which we can’t fully comprehend, but which our Lord referred to in the Temptation in the Wilderness.
            Man still has the ability to choose. Some men choose to go deeper into darkness, and some resist and try to find God themselves (pull themselves up by their bootstraps)
            Many, perhaps most people live their lives in complete complacency! They accept things as they are and just make the best of their circumstances.
            But in our reality we see that man explores, man investigates, man tries to understand, and tries to improve life for all..
            But he does it all on what he thinks is his own terms, without realising or accepting that he is actually in the thrall of his own wilfulness and influence of the evil one who hates his Creator and corrupts/distorts what is good and beautiful and points to the Creator.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Seems to me that John Piper has given an adequate review of the ideas within the book so I shall not bother to add mine.

            Why would we care what a Jew thinks? They have departed from their God. Man in his natural state is enslaved to his sin. He is not as evil as he could be but all his tendencies are to be evil.

            Those me whom God worked with He first saved and brought to Himself, hence they are righteous. They did not choose to follow of their own accord, they were called. Even they did not pull themselves up, indeed to do so is idolatry.

          • dannybhoy

            ” Even they did not pull themselves up, indeed to do so is idolatry.”
            To admit one’s sinfulnes before God and cry out for forgiveness is not idolatry. It’s accepting God’s diagnosis and cure.
            I was reading Titus yesterday. In chapter 2 Paul says

            11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

            Then in 3:8 he says,

            8 The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.

            Finally, the Jews rejected our Lord as the promised Messiah, not their faith.

          • Martin

            Danny

            “To admit one’s sinfulnes before God and cry out for forgiveness is not idolatry. It’s accepting God’s diagnosis and cure.”

            Precisely, but thinking you can make yourself right with God, or pull yourself up, is idolatry, for none can do that but Christ.

            And who is Paul writing to?

            The Jews abandoned the religion they had been given for one they created, hence they rejected God’s Messiah.

          • dannybhoy

            Maybe now we are getting somewhere.
            I don’t and haven’t said I believe we can pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps as regards to salvation.
            We acknowledge, God initiates that work of Grace in the penitent.
            The Jews however were under a different system of Law, not Grace. Obey and prosper, disobey and be punished. That’s what God Himself imposed on them as a people.
            They had an incomplete picture of Messiah, they saw him as a national figure protecting Israel’s interests,
            They rejected Yeshua haMeshiach not their religion.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Of course God initiates salvation, indeed it is entirely His work for we are by nature dead in our sins.

            Those saved in the Old Testament were saved in precisely the same way as we are, by grace. They looked forward to the coming Messiah, we look back. Their salvation was not dependant upon keeping the Law any more than ours is.

          • dannybhoy

            No, No, No, No!!
            Where we differ is that you believe men are so-oo sinful that they can’t respond to the Gospel. According to you God has something like a celestial ‘Prize Draw’ through which He picks out whom He will save. If your name’s on the ticket, congratulations!
            We can never know on what basis God chooses these people, but nevertheless they’re saved, whether they want to be or not.
            Think about what you’re saying.
            All people are evil and condemned to Hell.
            Except those God chooses to save.
            But if all men are condemned anyway, why not wipe them all out and have done with it?
            To choose some to save goes against everything the Scriptures teach about the nature of God and man’s free will.

          • Martin

            Danny

            All through the Bible we see God choosing, He chose Abraham, He chose Isaac, He chose Jacob, He chose Israel, He chose Moses, He chose David. Why all of a sudden, in the New Testament is God not able to choose?

            By nature, we are dead in our sins and unable to please God:

            For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
            (Romans 8:7-8 [ESV])

            Surely the parable of the tares answers your question, tearing up the tares will destroy the crop as well.

            Man has given away his free will to his sin, God is entitled to do as He chooses.

          • dannybhoy

            All through the Bible we see God choosing, He chose Abraham, He chose Isaac, He chose Jacob, He chose Israel, He chose Moses, He chose David
            Why all of a sudden, in the New Testament is God not able to choose?

          • Martin

            Danny

            So does not God choose the believer for a purpose? Abraham was righteous because God chose him, it wasn’t the cause of his being chosen. In the same way, all that believe are righteous, made righteous in Christ Jesus. Abraham’s faith was a gift from God, just as ours is. Eph 2:8

            If our salvation is dependant upon the act of our will then we have something to boast in, and something that may fail. Ultimately if our faith is from us our salvation is dependant on us.

          • dannybhoy

            Romans 3…
            5 But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? (I am using a human argument.) 6 Certainly not! If that were so, how could God judge the world? 7
            God could not judge if we could not choose His offer of salvation through faith..

            “27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.”

            the law that requires faith…
            Choosing is an act of the will, not an act of works…

          • Martin

            Danny

            God is not unjust because we have sinned under the law and are by nature unrighteous. God’s righteousness is glorified by those who remain condemned, for that condemnation is deserved, and by those who by grace are saved, for they do not deserve the gift they receive.

            The faith that justifies is the gift of God, as I have already pointed out.

          • dannybhoy

            We’re going around in circles here Martin.
            The Bible does not teach that sinful man is unable to choose the salvation that God freely provides and offers to men.
            It teaches that man is able to choose, and choosing is an act of the will, that the ability to choose was given to man from his creation, and is nothing to do with self righteousness or justification by works.

          • Martin

            Danny

            No, it teaches that he will not choose salvation. They are invited to the feast but refuse to come. They have chosen to make their own will their god.

          • dannybhoy

            Matthew 13
            Parable of the wheat and the tares..
            Matthew 18
            “2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

            Our Lord is telling people to do what you’re saying they can’t do..

            “If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But
            if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’[d] 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.”

            Here our Lord is telling believers how to deal with disputes. If they listen.. If they will not listen.. If they refuse to listen.,.
            The Scriptures burst with examples of God’s grace and witholding of judgement and salvation being offered to men IF they will respond.

            Ezekiel 33
            ” The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them: ‘When I bring the sword against a land, and the people of the land choose one of their men and make him their watchman, 3 and he sees the sword coming against the land and blows the trumpet to warn the people, 4 then if anyone hears the trumpet but does not heed the warning and the sword comes and takes their life, their blood will be on their own head. 5 Since they heard the sound of the trumpet but did not heed the warning, their blood will be on their own head. If they had heeded the warning, they would have saved themselves.”

            7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel;so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood.”

            11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

            God’s clear statement here clearly contradicts your own position.
            Also here…
            12 “Therefore, son of man, say to your people,
            ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation.

          • Martin

            Danny

            I’m sure you noticed that I said they will not respond, not that they cannot. They have a responsibility to do so, so their failure is on their head. Nothing here contradicts what I have said.

          • dannybhoy

            So what on earth are we discussing?
            My whole point is that I do not believe the Bible teaches TULIP, that man can respond to the Gospel, and that salvation is all of God. But man has to respond..
            Those Scriptures I quoted show that God wants -not forces- man to repent. That some do and some don’t.
            I couldn’t tell you how many times I heard the Gospel before it became personal and applicable to me. When the Holy Spirit revealed my sinfulness to me I responded.
            But that’s not because I was chosen, but that the Holy Spirit used the witness and prayers of the Saints, and what I was going through in my life at the time.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Those verses teach nothing about how God acts in salvation.

            To show how the Bible points to what TULIP represents: Man is totally depraved, He is dead in his sins, Eph 2:1. Man is at enmity with God, Rom 8:7. man, in his natural state, can do nothing to please God, Rom 14:23. Indeed Man cannot come to God unless God first draw him, John 6:44.

            Election is unconditional because it is God who chooses whom He will save. Acts 13:48 tells us that only those who God had chosen to save were saved. Romans 9:16 tells us that it isn’t our choice who is saved but God’s mercy. John 10:26 tells us that some didn’t believe because they weren’t chosen sheep. Ephesians 2:5 tells us that God must first quicken us, He gets to choose.

            The atonement is limited because God has chosen who He will save. He chose them before the foundation of the Earth, Eph 1:4, wrote their names in the book of life in eternity, Rev 13:8.

            His grace is irresistible because He will have those the Father has given Him, John 6:37. Just as Saul, the persecutor of the Church was changed by the hand of God into Paul the apostle to the Gentiles.

            The saints cannot fall away because they are chosen, because their names are written in the Lambs book of life, because it is God who saves them, not their own will or choice.

            The Holy Spirit worked in your heart, bit by bit, until you knew there was no other choice. He used the saints to nudge your soul, to bring you to an awareness of your state, He ordered your circumstances to bring you to that position where your now living soul cried out to Him for mercy. Where was your effort in that?

          • dannybhoy

            TULIP makes out God to resemble some kind of celestial concentration camp commandant, dividing people into two lines.

            One line saved to work for the cause, the other to die because they have no value.
            The Nazis justified this on the basis that all the prisoners were ‘untermenschen’ anyway, and deserve to die…
            That’s what predestination does, and as far as I am concerned it is a horrible distortion of the nature of God.

          • Martin

            Danny

            I’d look on God as a sorrowful Creator, looking down on what He has made and seeing the wicked rebellion in men’s hearts. From that despair resulting from mankind’s rejection of their Creator He plucks a glorious victory by taking some of those condemned, raising them from their sin and shame and making them His adopted children. When they could do nothing God stepped in and saved them.

            God knew what would happen before He created them and in His amazing mercy saved those He chose to save, in accordance with His plan, as He chose.

            I’ve given you references but you have not addressed them, all you’ve said is that you don’t like it.

            Do you deny God His free choice?

          • dannybhoy

            I think we’ve been through those references before, and going through them again changes nothing.
            How could I deny God His free choice? He makes it clear that He is not willing that ANY should perish, and He gave man free choice that he could reject that salvation, and be separated from his Creator for ever.
            You have shown nothing consistent with the revealed nature of God that can justify His choosing some but rejecting others, even thouigh all are irretrievably lost.

          • Martin

            Danny

            So how do you reply to those references?

            God is also not willing that men should sin, but they do. There is a difference between God’s prescriptive will, the will that says we must not sin, or that He does not wish you to perish and His decretive will that says He will save whom He will save.

            God gave man the choice, obey me and live or sin and die. Man chose the latter and thus gave away his free will to his sin. Man is dead in his sin and the dead have no free will.

            If you can’t see the revealed nature of God in that you aren’t looking in the Bible.

          • dannybhoy

            If men are spiritually dead and have no free will, why would they seek God: which they manifestly do.
            If men are inherently and irredeemably evil why would they seek cures for illnesses and medical conditions. Why would men strive to improve the quality of life for their fellow men?
            All men are sinners and estranged from God, but they still know the difference between good and evil..
            Romans 13:
            “Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment.
            2 Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged [in divine order]. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves [receiving the penalty due them].

            3 For civil authorities are not a terror to [people of] good conduct, but to [those of] bad behavior. Would you have no dread of him who is in authority? Then do what is right and you will receive his approval and commendation.

            If men are iredeemably evil they could not obey the civil authorities.

          • Martin

            Danny

            They don’t seek God, unless God draws them.

            No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44 [ESV])

            Men aren’t as bad as they can be, they are bad in every area of their life but a little of God’s image remains. And hence they know some difference between good & evil.

          • dannybhoy

            “but a little of God’s image remains. And hence they know some difference between good & evil.”
            Of course it does otherwise the evil one would be running rampant in the world all the time.
            And anyway, that’s not what you were saying before, and also those verses from Romans 13 makes it quite clear that we can choose to obey.It is in the heart of man the battle rages, because we want to be masters of our own destiny. God draws us but it’s not an irresistable drawing.

          • Martin

            Danny

            Romans 13 is written specifically to the believer, so doesn’t apply. What causes that little spark of God’s image to remain in the heart of the unbeliever is God’s restraining hand. The latter part of Romans 1 describes what happens when that restraint is removed.

          • dannybhoy

            1st John 2…

            “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked”.

            1 Peter 2..
            4 As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, 5 you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in Scripture:
            “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
            a cornerstone chosen and precious,
            and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

            James 2…
            20 “Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

        • alternative_perspective

          2 Peter 3:9
          9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
          One must hold all scripture in tension and not just those parts which support a particular doctrinal position.

          • Martin

            AP

            And 2 Peter 3:9 does not contradict the doctrine that God saves those whom He chose before the foundation of the Earth.

    • jawjaw2013

      “The gospel is that you, that is you reading this, are a sinner under
      God’s condemnation. You are a rebel, deserving of an eternal punishment
      for rebelling against an eternal God.”

      Nice, no wonder people are flocking to church. What a welcome!

      I can see how that can appeal to some people – like you, presumably – but to most people it will embody the worst of human nature. “Condemn not, lest you be condemned.” Isn’t that in the Gospels too?

      • Phil R

        We are condemning ourselves also.

        That was the point.

      • Martin

        JJ

        None come willingly, all that come must be compelled to come. God has condemned, not Man.

        • IanCad

          Augustine believed that as well. Led to all sorts of mischief.
          Completely contrary to scripture.
          “—where the spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom”
          2 Cor. 3:17

          • Martin

            Ian

            The parable of the great feast speaks of those compelled to come does it not? And Paul did not come willingly but was compelled to come. Can those dead in their sin please God? I find God choosing whom He will save before the foundation of the Earth in the Bible, His compelling them to follow.

    • Royinsouthwest

      You make God sound like a hypocrite! Why are we commanded to love not just our neighbours but also our enemies if there are people who God does not love?

      • Martin

        Roy

        You are saying that God must behave as one of His creation must behave. that is nonsense. We have a duty to each other, God has no duty to us since we are rebels.

    • alternative_perspective

      Is that the Gospel, or is that Calvin’s good news?

      • Martin

        AP

        It is the gospel, and it is what Calvin preached.

    • Dominic Stockford

      Yes indeed – and it is no surprise that the ‘lectionary readings’ in the cathedrals were ‘objectionable’ as the Gospel is an offence to those not convicted by the Spirit. There is no ‘nice way’ to present the nasty truth that we are indeed utter rebels against our great and glorious Creator.

      • Martin

        Dominic

        And there appears to be a ignorance of the 39 Articles as well.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Yes, there is. There is particular dislike of Articles 12 and 13 – more so 13.

          • Martin

            Dominic

            I was thinking of 17:

            XVII. Of Predestination and Election

            Predestination to Life is the everlasting purpose of God, whereby (before the foundations of the world were laid) he hath constantly decreed by his counsel secret to us, to deliver from curse and damnation those whom he hath chosen in Christ out of mankind, and to bring them by Christ to everlasting salvation, as vessels made to honour. Wherefore, they which be endued with so excellent a benefit of God, be called according to God’s purpose by his Spirit working in due season: they through Grace obey the calling: they be justified freely: they be made sons of God by adoption: they be made like the image of his only- begotten Son Jesus Christ: they walk religiously in good works, and at length, by God’s mercy, they attain to everlasting felicity.

            As the godly consideration of Predestination, and our Election in Christ, is full of sweet, pleasant, and unspeakable comfort to godly persons, and such as feel in themselves the working of the Spirit of Christ, mortifying the works of the flesh, and their earthly members, and drawing up their mind to high and heavenly things, as well because it doth greatly establish and confirm their faith of eternal Salvation to be enjoyed through Christ, as because it doth fervently kindle their love towards God: So, for curious and carnal persons, lacking the Spirit of Christ, to have continually before their eyes the sentence of God’s Predestination, is a most dangerous downfall, whereby the Devil doth thrust them either into desperation, or into wrethchlessness of most unclean living, no less perilous than desperation.

            Furthermore, we must receive God’s promises in such wise, as they be generally set forth to us in Holy Scripture: and, in our doings, that Will of God is to be followed, which we have expressly declared unto us in the word of God.

          • Dominic Stockford

            Indeed, there is that one as well – to be frank, I think they find pretty much all the 39 Articles an embarrassment they’d rather be rid of. And that may well include the current ‘boss’.

  • Sybaseguru

    “Proximity and Proclamation”

    Having been to The Message’s Urban Heroes Event at Old Trafford on Saturday I can commend Sir Andy Hawthorne’s succinct strap line: “Proximity and Proclamation” – seems to sum it up very well as one without the other is a waste of time.