Tag Archives: evangelism

What Kim Davis And The Samaritan Woman Have In Common

Kim DavisKim Davis, clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, has just been informed by a judge that she will be jailed for openly and consistently refusing to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.  Ms. Davis has been in the news ever since she turned down a homosexual couple who were wanting to be married after the Supreme Court nationalized same-sex marriage earlier this year.

As is the case with just about anyone who makes the news, especially those who take stances which go against the hedonistic worldview of most in Western media, everything about Ms. Davis is investigated and reported on.  Two items about her life which have come to light are that she is likely a member of the Apostolic Christian Church and that she was an adulterer who has been married four times.

The Apostolic Christian Church was by their own admission founded in the 1830’s rather than on the Pentecost after Christ’s death and resurrection as was the church of the Bible (Acts 2), and holds an unscriptural view on baptism in that they believe conversion and a new walk of life in Christ happens before immersion, not after immersion as is taught in Romans 6:3-5.  If Ms. Davis is in fact a member of such a church, she is not in a right relationship with Christ (2 John 9-11; cf. Eph. 4:4-5).

Likewise, it appears from reports on her marital past that she has repeatedly violated Jesus’ teaching on divorce and remarriage (Matt. 19:9), as well as the biblical injunction against adultery (Gal. 5:19-21; 1 Cor. 6:9-10).  Such is unfortunate, not only in light of the situation it puts her soul should she have not repented of such sins, but also because it has given those who oppose her biblical view about homosexual marriage ammunition to use against her in their efforts to distract others from her message that homosexual marriage is sinful.

However, are those who disagree with her biblical views about homosexual marriage the only ones who are bringing up her sinful background?  What about those who join with her in agreement with what the Bible says about same-sex marriage?

In the few hours since the announcement of her imprisonment, I’ve seen several Facebook posts from brethren in the Lord’s church, brethren who stand with her behind the biblical condemnation of homosexuality who also have either questioned or have outright denounced her for being a member of a man-made church and for being involved in adulterous relationships.  I’m not in complete disagreement that such questionings and denouncements have been made.  We live in a world of religious confusion, a world filled with false teachings (2 Tim. 4:3-4), a world filled with religious people who are guided by naive feelings rather than biblical facts (Prov. 14:12) and thus are easily deceived “by smooth talk and flattery” (Rom. 16:17-18) as they are “tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine” (Eph. 4:14).  I can easily see the religiously naive both in the Lord’s church and in the religious world of Christendom as a whole look at Ms. Davis’s stance for the truth about homosexual marriage and come to the erroneous conclusion that she is heaven-bound simply for that alone, irregardless of whether she is part of the one church talked of in the New Testament or whether she has repented of her adulterous remarriages, and thus be influenced to believe that they likewise are heaven-bound simply for standing against homosexual marriage, or for being a good person, or some similar ideas.  Such notions are dangerous in that they ignore Jesus’ warning to the religious elite of his day that obedience is essential to salvation (Matt. 7:21-27).  From this perspective, those who speak up about Ms. Davis’ questionable religious and marital background are doing the right thing.

That being said, I cannot help but be reminded of the Samaritan woman whom our Lord encountered at Jacob’s well (John 4:1-42).  She likewise had a sinful marital background as described in John 4:16-18:

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”  The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”  Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.  What you have said is true.”

Not only that, the Samaritan woman likewise had a questionable religious background as described in John 4:19-20, 22:

The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.  Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”….(Jesus said to her) “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.”

According to James Coffman’s commentary on John 4:

.. the Samaritans came into possession of the Pentateuch, the only part of the Hebrew Bible which they accepted. They set up a system of religion based partially upon the Pentateuch, but containing also a number of foreign elements.

Thus, the Samaritan woman was part of a religion that had chosen to unrepentantly take away from the divinely-inspired Old Testament (cf. Deut. 4:2; Josh. 1:7), no different from the Apostolic Christian Church and the rest of the denominationalism of Christendom today which also adds to and takes away from Scripture.

Yet, in spite of her failings and the sin in her life, our Lord was able to use this woman as a catalyst to bring souls to him.  Notice what happened after their conversation as recorded in John 4:28-30, 39-42:

So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.  Can this be the Christ?”  They went out of the town and were coming to him…Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.  And many more believed because of his word.  They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

I believe it entirely possible that if our Lord could then use a woman living in fornication and worshiping under a counterfeit religious system to bring souls to him, he can still do the same today with a woman like Ms. Davis who also reportedly is living in adultery and part of a man-made church.  I both pray for and believe that there are “honest and good hearts” (Luke 8:15) out there who are lost in sin while “hungering and thirsting for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6) who take notice of Ms. Davis’ stand for the truth concerning homosexual marriage in spite of the persecution brought upon her for doing so, are thereby inspired to study their Bibles more and decide that they likewise are going to stand for nothing more or less than what the Bible says, and as a result come to both know and obey the pure, unadulterated gospel of Christ, be added to the one true church which is described in the New Testament, and thus be saved (Eph. 5:23; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; Gal. 1:6-9).

I also pray for and believe that many of my brothers and sisters in Christ who are already part of his church will take notice of Ms. Davis’ courage to stand behind the truth concerning homosexuality regardless of the cost and decide to follow her example by unapologetically standing behind ALL of the truth of God’s Word, and thus become more evangelistic and lead more souls to Christ by bringing the unchanged gospel to their attention.  I pray that I myself can follow her example of courage and do so.

Lastly, but far from most importantly, I pray for and believe that those of us who know, believe, obey, and stand behind what the Bible says about not only homosexuality but also the oneness of the church and divorce and remarriage will recognize Ms. Davis as a soul for whom Jesus died and whom Jesus loves, and will do more than simply point out from afar on our Facebook posts her religious and marital failings because we do not want anyone to be led astray by ignoring such sins because they’re blinded by her celebrity.  I pray for and believe that we will prayerfully do whatever we can to reach out to her personally, just as Paul did with the Athenians (Acts 17), and both applaud her for her stand for the truth about same-sex marriage while also seeking to lovingly and patiently start a dialogue with her in which a Bible study can show her something which perhaps she doesn’t know about the will of God, something which she needs to hear, something which she needs to believe and obey (Eph. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:24-26; James 5:19-20).

This woman needs our prayers and our evangelistic efforts even as we need to follow her example of conviction.  Let’s remember that.

We’re Scared of Losing the First Amendment…But Are We Really Using It To Begin With?

Senator Tammy Baldwin
Senator Tammy Baldwin

Wisconsin U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin has outraged a lot of churchgoers recently by saying, “Certainly the First Amendment says that in institutions of faith that there is absolute power to, you know, to observe deeply held religious beliefs.  But I don’t think it extends far beyond that.”  Since it was reported that she said that, the religious community manifested in the blogosphere, talk radio, cable news, and social media has responded with fear and outrage.  Indignant cries like “How dare she tell us we can’t practice our religion except in a church building?!?!” and “Freedom of religion and freedom of speech is doomed in this country!!” are making their rounds through the various Facebook posts and Twitter feeds of American New Testament Christians and denominational folks, and to an extent I can’t say I blame us for reacting in this fashion.  There are legitimate fears held by myself and others that outrageous fines and jail time will eventually be the price paid in this country for advertising and exercising in any way our deeply held religious convictions that homosexual marriage is sinful, whether or not we happen to be inside a church building on Sunday morning.

Yet, I also am reminded of the fact that there aren’t that many of us who are that vocal about our Christianity outside of the church building anyway, and it has been that way for some time.  According to the Barna Group, an evangelical Christian polling company:

When asked if they have a personal responsibility to share their faith with others, 73% of born again Christians said yes. When this conviction is put into practice, however, the numbers shift downward. Only half (52%) of born again Christians say they actually did share the Gospel at least once this past year to someone with different beliefs, in the hope that they might accept Jesus Christ as their Savior.

As with most convictions, there usually lies a dividing line between theory and practice. When it comes to evangelism, that dividing line looks different among various demographics.

Barna defines evangelicals according to adherence to nine theological perspectives (defined in the details below), including one’s personal responsibility to share their faith in Christ with others. So in this study, of course, evangelicals (100%) claim this responsibility by definition. Nearly seven out of 10 have acted on this conviction within the last year, meaning evangelicals have the highest rate of evangelism among the various religious segments that Barna examined.

What stands out among the data, however, is that evangelicals also have among the highest rates of failure in follow-through from conviction to action when it comes to sharing their faith. Nearly one-third (31%) believe they should evangelize, but have not done so—at least within the past year.

Catholics (34%), on the opposite end of the spectrum, are the least likely across Christian faith traditions to affirm their personal responsibility to share their faith. Yet, this minority is also the most consistent in linking their belief and behavior. Roughly one-third of all Catholics (34%) believe they should evangelize, while one-third of born again Catholics actually do.

This 2013 report goes on to indicate that millennials or young adults as well as the elderly and those in the low income bracket are currently the most evangelistic among us, while those of us in the 30’s and 40’s bracket, 50’s and 60’s bracket and those in the middle-class income bracket are less personally evangelistic than we were in previous years.

To bring it closer to home for churches of Christ in this country, I encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ to look around in the auditorium this coming Sunday morning and check the bulletin where they record the attendance numbers.  Are those numbers below 100?  Probably, according to brotherhood statistician Flavil Yeakley.  In 2008 he reported that 45% of the almost 13,000 churches of Christ in the United States have fewer than 50 members and more than 70% have fewer than 100 members.

How many churches of Christ do you know of who have 1,000 members or more?  Not many.  How long does it take your average local congregation to increase in size by 50 members?  Years, right?  At least two years, possibly three.

Of that growth of 50, how many of those were Christians who moved into the area or transferred their membership from another congregation?  How many of the 50 were baptisms?  Out of those, how many consisted of children of adult members of your congregation…as opposed to complete outsiders whom you personally know and invited to church or studied with because you knew they were lost in their sins and wanted to do your part to make a difference in their lives?

How many in your congregation are actively involved in regular, weekly personal evangelism…other than the paid preacher?  One or two, right?  Five or six, tops.

Now, let’s compare us to the evangelism recorded in the New Testament Christianity we always say we’re wanting to restore.  The very first local congregation read about in the New Testament grew by 3,000 in one day (Acts 2:41).  It then continued to grow day by day (Acts 2:47) so that the number soon rose to 5,000 (Acts 4:4).  After that, even in the shadow of repeated persecution of her leaders (Acts 4:1ff; 5:17ff), divine church discipline of two of her members which was quite violent in nature (Acts 5:1-11), and strife over possible prejudice within the congregation (Acts 6:1ff), the numbers of the Jerusalem church “multiplied” (Acts 6:6).  It didn’t stop there.  Even after extreme, violent persecution which scattered that congregation to the four winds (Acts 8:1ff), the church as a whole in that region “multiplied” (Acts 9:31).  Around a decade or so later, the Jerusalem church was said to once again have “thousands” of believers (Acts 21:20).

The difference is striking, isn’t it?  Painfully striking, when you think about it.

Church of Christ, it’s time for a wake-up call.  We talk a lot about “speaking where the Bible speaks, and being silent where the Bible is silent.”  We’ve made a lot of progress in accomplishing that worthy, biblical goal (1 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 22:18-19; Prov. 30:6).  However, when it comes to evangelism we still have a lot of work to do.

Here’s what the New Testament Christians did.  They went about preaching the Word (Acts 8:4).  The gospel was being proclaimed by them in all creation under heaven (Col. 1:23).  It took only two years for the whole region of Asia Minor to hear the gospel because of them (Acts 19:9-10).  Their voice was going out to the ends of the earth (Rom. 10:18).  The word of the Lord was sounding forth from them, and their faith in God had gone forth everywhere (1 Thess. 1:8).

They were exercising their First Amendment rights…and they didn’t even have the First Amendment. 

So while I get that in one sense why we are so outraged over this senator’s statement that Christians need to keep their First Amendment rights confined to a church building, at the same time I wonder why in the world most of us are so upset about it…considering that for a generation or so the church building is the only place where so many of us choose to exercise our First Amendment rights to begin with.  Why be upset with her idea of limiting a freedom which we ourselves have already limited?

Christians, do you want our society to get back to God?  Do you want your church to grow?  Most importantly, do you want the souls of every single person you know to go to Heaven?

It’s up to YOU to do something about it.

And it’s going to take a lot more than you nodding your head as you read this, saying “Amen!”, clicking the “Like” button on Facebook and posting this article on your wall, and re-tweeting it on Twitter.  Remember, according to the Barna research above that…and only that…is what most of you are going to do.

No, it’s going to take more than that.

It’s going to take YOU, you PERSONALLY, deciding to ACTIVELY, on a DAILY basis, talking with the people in your life about Jesus and sharing the gospel with them.

If you do this, guess what?  God’s going to open the doors of Heaven to you regardless of whether a single person listens to you.

But if you DON’T do this, guess what?  Everyone you know who is lost will stay lost and end up in Hell for all eternity, and you will be right there alongside of them.

That’s what God has promised (Ezek. 3:16-21).

So go out there and use your First Amendment rights while you still have them…and then keep on “speaking the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15) even if they should be taken away.

Equipping The Saints For Battle – Stewart Schnur

Christians, are we prepared to bring the gospel to Muslims?  Are we prepared to be the evangelists God would have us to be with anyone?  Read this thought-provoking article in the Carolina Messenger by my good friend Stewart Schnur.

Equipping The Saints For Battle – Stewart Schnur.