("Notes from the Harvest Field" will be an on going series of evangelistic encounters primarily from the Neighborhood Outreach ministry, Placerita Baptist's Spanish ministry and personal one-to-one encounters I may have during the week.)
"And He was saying to them, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." (Luke 10:2)
Newhall, Saturday morning June 27, 2009
Open air preaching and encounter with man with one arm
One of my encounters was with a young man named Stephan who is Armenian and originally from France. Stephan is here on vacation for about a few weeks to visit relatives. I introduced myself and asked him about his church background. Stephan told me that he is a member of the Armenian church back in France, but he doesn't take church seriously. We were then joined by his sister. I introduced myself once again to Stephan's sister, and she pretty much reiterated what Stephan said. She wanted to know why people in her church were so serious about their religion, but their lives didn't show it. Stephan's sister also wanted to know why in the Genesis account that Eve was the one to take all the blame.
I explained to Stephan and his sister that there are professing Christians even in my church who claim to be Christians, but only possess head knowledge about the Bible and Jesus Christ. These professing Christians have not repented and given their lives over to Christ. I explained the importance of repentance to them after sharing the Law and Gospel with them, and gave them the example of Jesus' encounter with the rich young ruler. After defining repentance to them and stating that repentance is more than just a person saying, "I'm sorry" and continuing in their sin, I gave the example of Jesus' encounter with the rich young ruler. I explained to both of them that the rich young ruler knew that Jesus was the Messiah and he also knew that Jesus was the key salvation because he came up to Jesus and acknowledge that by asking Him, "Good teacher, what must I do to be saved?"
However, when Jesus posed those two questions in Matthew 19 and Luke 18 to the rich young ruler and asked him to "take up his cross and follow Me", the rich young ruler walked away because he loved his money more than Christ because he was very rich. So I told both Stephan and his sister that if there is anything in their lives that they value more than Christ whether it be their family, friends, relationships, or money like the rich young ruler they are not true disciples of Christ because they haven't taken up their cross and followed Christ. I encouraged both of them to think about these things and reiterated that they needed to repent of the their sins and to put their trust in faith in Christ as their Lord and Savior.
Concerning Stephan's sister's question about the Eve issue, I explained to Stephan's sister that both Adam and Eve were responsible for the sin committed in the Garden of Eden since Adam was the husband and head of the family. Adam's sin was that he did not fulfill his obligation as spiritual head of the family by either interceding or rebuking Eve when he had the opportunity.
(Stephan also posed a question to me during our conversation which I will explore on a later post.)
When a person asks a question about hypocritical Christians or professing Christians, it is always important to acknowledge the fact that there are those type of Christians out there and to emphasize that they are false Christians. You will also need to go to Scripture and give examples of what true Christianity looks like. First, you may want to define what the Biblical definition of repentance is and give some examples in the Bible of a person that is repentant and of a person that is unrepentant. A favorite example that I use all the time of a non-repentant person is Jesus' encounter with the rich young ruler (Matt. 19, Luke 18). The same example I used with Stephan and his sister.Moreover, it is also important to show the person asking that question what the true characteristics of a Christian are. I will usually take that person to Galatians 5 and talk about the fruit of the Spirit, and tell them that those are the marks of a true Christian and sometimes contrast that passage with the deeds of the flesh just a few verses down which are the marks of the unbeliever. You can also emphasize that the true Christian has a desire for holiness, and an ongoing repentant attitude toward his sin. I will be taking a closer look at the important principles of the nature of true repentance and counting the cost in a future post.
Helpful Bible Verses to Use:
Non-repentance/Counting the Cost: Matt. 19: 16-26; Luke 18: 18-34
Fruits of the Flesh/Fruits of the Spirit: Gal. 5: 18-26
Professing/False Christians: 1 John 2:19
Helpful Resources for Further Study:
The Marks of Saving Faith by John Mac Arthur Part1 & Part 2 (Pulpit Magazine Articles)
North Hollywood, Sunday afternoon June 28, 2009Luciano, Indonesian-Muslim teenager
This is probably one of the best encounters I've ever had during my ten plus years in doing this type of evangelism. Luciano is an Indonesian-Muslim teen who was sitting on one of the stone benches at the North Hollywood MTA train station as I approached him. Luciano was totally open to listening about Christianity and had a lot of questions. I gave a description of Christianity by starting with who God is, His attributes, a summary of the Genesis account, a brief history of the birth of the nation Israel, the coming of Christ, the purpose of Christ dying on the cross for sinners, and the nature of true repentance.
Luciano had many questions about Christianity and about his Muslim faith as well. He had questions about the trinity, the deity of Christ, prayer, fasting (including Ramadan), and other world religions especially Roman Catholicism (Luciano thought Roman Catholicism is the same as Christianity). I spent about half and hour to 45 minutes talking to him.
The highlight of this encounter is when we were talking about the issue of prayer, and Luciano asked me if Christians received "goodies" from God when they pray. I really didn't understand what Luciano was saying, but I explained to him that praying is simply talking to God, and that you can talk to God any time and any where. Luciano thought that prayer was regulated to a specific time and place. Luciano told me that Muslims pray three times a day at specific times. I told Luciano that I do have a set time for prayer and Bible reading every morning, but a Christian can speak to God any time he wants due to the fact that Jesus is our Mediator and because it says in the Bible "to pray unceasingly". I gave Luciano an example of prayer by praying for him and our time together and asking the Lord to bless our time to together and save him if it was His will. I also explained to Luciano that the relationship between God and the Christian is like the relationship between a father and a son/daughter. At that moment, I asked Luciano if he had a good relationship with his father. Luciano acknowledged that he did. I then told Luciano that like a son or daughter who can go to his earthly father to take his requests and concerns to him, Christians can do the same thing to their Heavenly Father because of what Jesus did on the cross for Christians.
I asked Luciano if he was clear about his understanding of Christianity as opposed to other religions which relied on good works in order to be saved. Luciano said he was and thanked me for spending the time explaining Christianity to him. I encouraged Luciano to read the materials that I gave him which included a Bible, and invited him and his family to stop by our church.
When a person indicates that he has no clue what Christianity is, it may be wise to start from the beginning with them rather than pointing out their sin to them right away. As this society becomes more and more pagan and ignorant about Christianity, you will have to use this tactic more often. The majority of the missionaries use this method especially in dealing with people in foreign lands who have no clue what Christianity is. An example of this, is Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 17 where he started with who God is as compared to the idols that the Greeks worshipped.
Take your time in answering the persons questions, and try to direct the conversation back to the Gospel so you can keep on track. Usually when a person asks these type of questions, it is a means to throw the Christian off track from his Gospel presentation and place doubt in his mind. In this case, Luciano was different. He was interested and eager to learn. Please pray for him if he comes to mind.
Helpful Bible Verses to Use:
Creation Account: Gen. 1 - 3
God as Creator: 1 Chron. 16: 26; Neh. 9: 6; Psalm 19: 1, 24: 1-2, 33:6; Col. 1: 16-17
Paul beginning with God when preaching to the Athenians: Acts 17: 22-34
Helpful Resources for Further Study:
Why Won't They Listen? The Power of Creation Evangelism by Ken Ham (Video)
Grace Evangelism by Grace Grace Community Church (Teacher's guide also available)