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Monday, July 9, 2012

God Is Not For Sale

I have sold a lot of things through the years. As an elementary student I made "creepy crawlers" (soft gel-like plastic insects) and sold them at school. I also sold little cars that I made and anything else I could make a little money on. It didn't amount to much but eventually I was told that I couldn't sell these things at school anymore so I quit. However, I knew what it took to sell things.

First, you have to convince people why they need your product. I played with my products in front of the other kids. I talked about how these plastic insects could scare people. I really didn't have to do much selling after I had a few customers. No kid wants to be left wanting what others have.

Years later, I heard an evangelist appear to "sell" Jesus to a crowd. He used guilt as his motivator. He was trying to create a need. He screamed and put peer pressure on those who stood still. He got in the face of those who listened. I was determined that I didn't need what he was selling. I walked out without Christ.

The next day I realized that he was telling the truth even though I hated the way that he did it. I gave my life to Christ without anyone around. I didn't feel like I had bought Him. I knew He had bought me.

Since that time I have been very careful in my presentation of the gospel. I still offer what is known as an invitation at the end of all worship services but I explain it. I tell them it is an invitation to do what God is telling them to do. I ask them if God is telling them that they need to proclaim Him publicly or maybe coming forward to see if they would like to know more about becoming a believer. I tell them that it isn't easy but that's what makes it do real too. They're certainly not giving their lives to Christ if they aren't willing to walk down the aisle. I also tell them that walking down an aisle will not make any difference if they don't mean what they say. Yet, I make sure that they understand that it is an invitation. I am not trying to sell Jesus.

One method of sales has been discounting the price or giving out extras. So, some churches accept just about anything. For example, some don't bother checking to see if the person is serious about their decision. They don't ask if the person is really making a decision for Christ. Each person must tell their story of coming to Christ before they are baptized. We have services in which we don't do anything but baptize. The person chooses someone who is important to their coming to know Christ read their salvation story just before they are baptized. There are lots of tears, laughter and even some shouting and applause at times when people are baptized. It is appropriate.

We didn't sell them anything. The stories are never what they paid to come to Christ. They are all stories of what Christ paid for them. They talk of their changed lives. They talk of their appreciation for Jesus.

I wonder how many times people have read John 3:16 and failed to realize that the precious blood of Jesus was given for their salvation. It never needs to be sold.

I may get excited when I preach. I may even get loud every once in a while (reasonably rarely though). I get loud and excited at a lot of football games too. But I will not try to coerce, guilt or belittle people to come down an aisle to receive Christ. He is not for sale.

So I pray very hard before every worship service. I ask the Holy Spirit to fill me and to do His work on those who do not yet know Jesus. I have given myself over to the God who seeks after those who do not know Him. He's not in sales either.

John 3:16 (ESV)
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 


high-expressions said...

Firstly, it is good practice to do, this writing out of your story or testimony of your coming into salvation. I know when I was baptised many and many years ago, my church practised that. I believe churches should continue to do that, and the church's leader or his representative should read them, the stories, so as to pick up anything that needed noting and follow-up.

Secondly, I agree completely with Ps Prentis that we do NOT need to sell the Gospel. Actually, the Great Commission calls for us to preach the Gospel, and by that it means we are to proclaim the Gospel. Proclaiming and selling are NOT the same.

What we are to do is to proclaim and invite; and when we do that, we have done what God asked of us. Viewing it this way, we have no need to be anxious and or beat ourselves up for people NOT entering into salvation. More importantly, viewing it this way also serves to check the purity of our motive.

There is an important point we need to note, and that is, that the Gospel is free but it is NOT cheap; it cost the blood and life of the Son of God, Jesus Christ. So, we really do NOT need to “cheapen” the Gospel.

In more recent times, I believe the motive of some big and mega church leaders has NOT been that pure and in true alignment with what God has in mind or heart, in this regard. Is it really alright that we do anything and everything just so that some may get saved? If you are believing in this, you better be careful, for this CANNOT be the will of God. Although we know that God’s desire is for all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4), God Himself does NOT do anything and everything so that all men are in fact saved. It is also the same for you and I, it is NOT God’s will that you and I are to do anything and everything just so that some may get saved.

We have seen leaders fall under this account before, and it is happening and it is still going to get more and more, if people do NOT understand this point; and worse still, false teachers are preaching its acceptance to the general body. Because there are some cases around the world under the purview of the legal systems or Courts, it is NOT appropriate for me to comment specifically on any case; and it must be taken that any scenarios painted here are examples, and are NOT any actual cases; and if there are resemblance, and views are expressed here, they are NOT to be construed as a view specifically aimed at the actual cases.

For example, is it right for a church leader, on the ground of the Great Commission or saving souls, to be championing a believer to be a member of society (club or “cult”) which peddles drugs, where the incoming member is like any other members, be doing the things that the members of the society deals in, peddling drugs? You want to share the gospel to save the members, so you want to say it is ok to do what they do? Or on top of that, you think you can come into contact with the drug addicts, and you have the opportunity to share the gospel with them, hopefully to save some; that makes it ok?

What about this: The church leader wants to save the prostitutes, and so, he wants to embark on project S-P, saves the prostitutes; and the project involves the church to fund a member to be a pimp to build a successful prostitute ring/joint. You mean it is alright they still do what they do, only that they do it under your Christian pimp? Oh! You get to talk to them about the gospel; that legitimize the project? (The use of prostitutes as an example is by no means that I want to belittle the ones in that trade, but it is that prostitution is recorded in Scripture as a sin. We love the sinners, the ones ensnared in it, but NOT the sin. Jesus had to say to the woman caught in adultery, “Go and sin no more”).


high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

Or the church leader wants to penetrate the heavy-metal music circle, because he thinks that the people involved in the music are NOT coming out of the circle, and so cannot be reached; and oh, he also has a greater audience in mind, the heavy-metal music lovers and supporters. And so, he suggests the church embarks and funds a few members of the inner circle to form a heavy-metal band; the project calls for large funding from the church to get the band famous, purportedly, in that way, it will have a big followings (fans base); the idea of course, included the purported notion that when the members themselves have become stars, they get to mix with other celebrities, and so too, can share the gospel with them. The question is, like this, can-meh?

Or how about magic? High level magic has great attraction. So, a church leader can go train under the “who and who” of the magician world, and then he himself be a professional magician, and at the same time, still runs the church? All, purportedly, so that he can share the gospel with those attracted to magic? A mega-church senior pastor also performing magic at the “where and where” of the casino world is ok? Is there no stumbling issue; are there no deceptions and spirit involvements in high level magic? It is alright for a mega-pastor to do that? (We are NOT talking about simple sleight of hand)

If magic is ok, what about witchcrafts? You get engaged in that, some and many people will hold you in awe, too. Many will flock to you, when you have become “successful”! So, you can share the gospel too, to those who come to you, and so, you are doing it for the ground of saving souls or the Great Commission? That means it is ok?

When a pastor can do such as the above, and becomes a mega-pastor or gets a mega-church following, without censure; then another is tempted to do the same. In this way, more and more are jumping on the same bandwagon (that is what is happening)! -

“Let me see, magic already taken, smart of him, now his church is one of the largest; now, which arena still has a lot of people or followers and have NOT been captured; aha! easy-believism like the overly grace group; this is good, very good indeed; in fact, this kind of Christianity will be loved, can get many, many souls; I will latch onto them; and I will preach their theologies and doctrines, and I will then be counted in as one of their champions, and then the church and I be part of a great-following. But let me see, but we collect tithes, but the overly grace group does NOT believe in subscribing to OT laws, shit! Wait a minute, just wait a minute, I will think of a dogurine to justify the tithes I collect in my already big congregation. Aah…..aah…..aah, I got it. I shall say it precedes the OT, then, it will all be legitimate, hallelujah! Hallelujah! Precede the OT, …. The Garden of Eden, the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil; yah, yah, you cannot have that, that is ………..tithe!!!!!!!!!! That’s it – GRACE + TITHES; no need to do anything and get prosperous!”

Another, probably, thought this way: “Magic, gone; cannot use that, (overly) grace followers, also taken. Let me see, what else can I use. One mega-church has a highly acclaimed magician, another, an international “totally” grace champion. We must have a star, too. The crowds are still in the entertainment scene, let me look there. So long as saving souls or Great Commission is wrapped in there, I can throw the weight ($$$) of the church in. Let me see, a band, too many people required, maybe, an actor, but quite tough; yes, I got it…. We shall call this project ….”

All has the element of saving soul or the Great Commission, but is the intent, of pure-heart, or is there an evil element in that desire of their heart.


high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

The Apostle James gave us how we get tempted and sin, and for some, that would lead to their great fall -

James 1:13-15 - 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

If you are using the Great Commission or saving souls as a pretext, you better be careful; evil desire might have formed in your heart. Be warned by verse 15 of the above text.

But what if I or they (examples above) genuinely want to save a soul or some souls; I or they, can do anything and everything, right? No, WRONG!

But the Apostle Paul said this-what:

“22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.” 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings (1 Cor 9:22-23).

Yes, but Paul also said these:

23 “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive (1 Cor 10:23).
32 Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God — 33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. (1 Cor 10:32-33)

We have to ask ourselves if what we do, truly is for the Gospel sake. The purity of the heart’s desire is very important. Another point is that we should NOT be penny-wise, pound-foolish! When it is penny-wise and pound-foolish, it may NOT be beneficial, and it may NOT be constructive for the Great Commission or saving of souls. Another way, some people put it is, “you save the tree, but you lose the forest!” That is NOT necessarily wise. Stumbling is also NOT wise, and stumbling is a serious matter to God. This is what Mark 9:42 said:

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.

Mega-church leader also performing as high-level professional magician, you think it is ok? To me it is stumbling! In 1 Cor 10:32-33, given above, Paul said he tried to, NOT he must, please everybody, but he would NOT cause anyone to stumble. And he did point out that it must NOT be for one’s own good, but for the good of MANY.


high-expressions said...

Cont. from above

Lastly, I want to point out the simple reason for saying you cannot defend “you can do anything and everything just so that some souls get saved” is that our God is a holy God, and so He cannot sin, and when He cannot sin, He cannot be approving of you to sin. You just cannot join a group of murderers and go around with them, murdering people, because you want to reach to these murders; you want to be amongst them and be accepted by them, so that you can share the gospel with them, and so, you do what they do, murdering people; you just CANNOT do that. You do NOT sin for the Gospel. It is unthinkable to consider one should sin for the Gospel, if you know what the Gospel embodied. No church leader should ask a believer to sin to further the Gospel. No, you do NOT need to die for the Gospel, Jesus already died for the Gospel. If at all you need to die, it is when you are asked to deny the Gospel (persecution).

Despite what the Apostle Paul has said in 1 Cor 9, you are NOT to be a robber to reach a robber, you are NOT to be a prostitute to reach a prostitute, you are NOT to be witch to reach a witch, you are NOT to be a false teacher to reach the misguided ones; God cannot be asking you to sin to share the Gospel, for He is a holy God. It is right to share the Gospel with the robber, the prostitute, the witch, and anyone, BUT the Word did NOT paint the picture that, to share the Gospel with the wicked, you join them to be wicked or do the unacceptable things they do.

The saving of souls or the Great Commission cannot be used as the pretext to cover up our own compromise in holiness. I am NOT trying to judge the ministry of others, but I am saying, more is given, more is expected; and James’ words of James 1:13-15 must be always be foremost in our mind – we must guard …………………………………………………………….OUR HEART.

The Gospel is shared primarily in 2 ways: One, we proclaim the Gospel; and two, we live out the life embodied in the Gospel. Living out the life embodied in the Gospel is NOT “When you are in Rom, do what the Romans do; or you are in the world, do what the worldly people do!”

May God bless the reading of this comment.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions