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Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for September, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

SIX APPROACHES TO EVANGELISM (Part 2 of 3)

#3 Testimonial:  Jesus encounters a blind man whom He heals.  A dispute arises among his neighbors as to whether he was in fact the blind beggar that was healed. The blind man insists, I am the man.  How then were your eyes opened? they demanded.  He replied, The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.  Where is this man? they asked him. I don't know, he said (Jn. 9:98b-12).

In frustration, they brought him to the Pharisees who also asked him how he had received his sight. He put mud on my eyes, the man replied, and I washed, and now I see. A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. Give glory to God, they said. We know this man is a sinner.  He replied, Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see! Then they asked him, What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes? He answered, I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become His disciples, too?  Then they hurled insults at him and said, You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses!  We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where He comes from. The man answered, Now that is remarkable! You don't know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes.  We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind.  If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.  To this they replied, You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us! And they threw him out (Jn. 9:15, 24-34).

#4 RelationalJesus and the disciples arrived by boat on the Sea of Galilee in Decapolis.  Christ proceeded to cast demons out of a possessed man.  Upon His departure from the area, the man begs to go with Jesus.  Jesus replied, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you" (Mk. 5:19). The result? So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed (Mk. 5:20). William Barclay makes the point that this man was to be the first seed of what in time was to become a mighty harvest. Is it not true that our family and relatives are our most natural relationships? Are they not our Acts 1:8 Jerusalem?

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

SIX APPROACHES TO EVANGELISM (Part 1 of 3)

Two days after Ruth Metcalf met Christ through a campus ministry, her leaders had her out on the beach engaged in cold turkey evangelism.  Ruth, by temperament, is a shy, exceedingly private person.  The experience traumatized her to the core for years to come.  Does one method fit all? No, if you analyze Jesus approaches to evangelism which were as varied as His encounters. There is no question that we are to be engaged in the winning of the lost.  Jesus:  "Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. (Matt. 10:32, 33) Paul urged Timothy, Work at telling others the Good News (2 Tim. 4:5 NLT). Certainly that applies to us as well. The question is how?

I suggest that the New Testament illustrates at least six approaches to evangelism

#1 Confrontational: On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up and confronted the Jews:  God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, Brothers, what shall we do?  Peter replied, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy SpiritWith many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, Save yourselves from this corrupt generation. Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day (Act. 2:23b, 36b-38, 40, 41).

#2 Intellectual: While Paul was waiting in Athens for Timothy and Silas, he became distressed at the proliferation of idols in the city, so he proceeded to reason in the synagogue with Jews and God fearing Greeks.  The word reason in the text conveys the idea of dispute, discussing, and presenting intellectual arguments.  (See Mk. 9:38; Act. 17:2, 17; 18:4, 19:8, 9)  A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers disputed with him over his teaching on Jesus resurrection. Paul then addressed the men of Athens, explaining who was the UNKNOWN GOD for whom they had built an altar. Basically Paul explained that the true God was self-sufficient, our creator, all sovereign; that He is reaching out to us; is our source of life, and is calling us to repentance or to judgment. (See Act. 17:16-31) When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, We want to hear you again on this subjectA few men became followers of Paul and believed (Act. 17:32, 34a).

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

THREE TESTS OF AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY: Obedience, Intimacy, Fruit (Part 4 of 4)

Three: Fruit (Continued)

In last weeks Facts we stated that fruit was characterized by (1) A life empowered by the Spirit, (2) A righteous life, and (3) A life that flourishes.  Continuing:

A life characterized by good works: In His prayer to the Father the night before the cross, Jesus prayed, I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. (Jn. 17:4) The Scriptures clearly confirm that we are to model Him in continuing the Fathers work:

 Those who have believed God may be taking careful thought to busy themselves constantly in good works… (Tit. 3:8 Wuest Trans.).

  Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (I Cor. 15:58b)

 As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers (Gal. 6:10).

 We pray that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work (Col. 1:10b).

  Godwill not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them (Heb. 6:10). (See Lk. 6:35; Acts 9:36; 13:2;1 Cor. 16:10).

 QUESTION: Am I basically a giver or a taker?

A life that overcomesPaul lived out his own admonition to others:My dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain (I Cor. 15:58b):

 Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead.  But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city(Act. 14:19, 20).

  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyedAs servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger (2 Cor. 4:8,9; 6:4,5). (See 2Cor. 11:23-29; Psa. 84:5-7)

 Shortly before he was martyred, Paul stated:  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day(2 Tim. 4:7, 8a)

QUESTION: Do I have a victim or over comer mentality?

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

THREE TESTS OF AUTHENTIC CHRISTIANITY: Obedience, Intimacy, Fruit (Part 3 of 4)

Three: Fruit

Jesus stated that if we abide in Him, and He in us, we will bear much, lasting fruit (Jn. 15:8, 16). He also said that fruit is the litmus test of authentic Christianity:  By their fruit you will recognize themEvery good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit (Matt. 7:16a, 17) In this and next weeks Facts are five descriptions of authentic fruit:

A life empowered by the Spirit as evidenced by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness,  faithfulness,  gentleness and self-controlkindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life.  (Gal. 5:22, 23a; Eph. 5:9b – AMP). Those empowered by the Holy Spirit:

 Have their minds set on what the Spirit desires, resulting in life and peace. (Rom.8, 5, 6)

 Experience victory over the dictates of their lower nature. (Rom. 8:9, 13)

 Look forward to a new and restored body in eternity. (Rom. 8:11)

 Are led by the Spirit. (Rom. 8:14)

 Enjoy a deeply intimate relationship with the Father and are assured of the status of son ship. (Rom. 8:15)

A righteous life based not on the law but on faith: "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Jms. 2:23a). (See Rom. 1:17; 3:21, 22, 28) And the result?

 We receive the very righteousness of Christ. (2 Cor. 5:21)

 We die to our sins and live to righteousness. (1 Pet. 2:24)

 We seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. (Matt. 6:33)

A life that flourishes:  The Scriptures assure us that the root of the righteous flourishes (Pro. 12:12b). That is, the righteous bear fruit. Psalm 1:1-3 promises that the person blessed of God who delights in His word will prosper in whatever he does.  That is, he will become mighty, powerful and victorious.  What he puts his hand to will turn out successfully. Psalm 92:12, 13 assures us that the righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. The word flourish conveys the idea of remaining fresh and ever green; flying as a bird that is extending its wings. Wow!

CHALLENGE: Take a hard look at Galatians 5:19-23 and ask yourself which of the two lists most characterizes your life? Is there an application you need to make?

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill