"Blessed be the Lord my rock,
God is calling for each soldier in His army to become personally involved in the battle, to win this world for Christ. No longer can we rely solely upon great preachers to do our fighting for us. Billy Graham said, "Mass crusades, to which I have committed my life will never finish the job; but one to one will." Great financial risks are involved in holding large crusades. To speak of hundreds of thousands and even millions of dollars is not uncommon. Another major hurdle is how to get the sinner away from his television set on a cold Sunday night. If I was a non-Christian, I would far rather stay at home with my family in the warmth and comfort of my own home, in front of the T.V., than go and hear some preacher. The answer is for each of us to be laborers right in our work place, to rub shoulders with those in the harvest field. Listen to these wise words from a man with much experience, Dr. R.A. Torrey:
"I can give a prescription that will bring revival to any Church, community or city on earth:
I would add only one thing that may not have needed saying in R.A. Torrey's day. Once we have prayed, we need to put legs to our prayers and in obedience, take the Gospel to every creature.
God Honors Desire
I am often asked if I was specifically "called" to preach the Gospel. I was, and so has every other Christian been called. If we are following Jesus, it should be because He has called us to be "fishers of men." If we are not, it is probably because we are following at too great a distance and can neither see His example nor hear His voice. Those who follow close to the Master will know His voice, obey it, and witness of the salvation of God.
The first day I went to the local square to speak, a Christian came up to me and began to chat. He had no idea what I was about to do, and casually said, "Hardly worth preaching the Gospel to this bunch!" How subtle the enemy is. If you are going to do anything for the Kingdom of God, be ready for a sly attack which so often comes through a Christian brother or sister, the place least expected.
Satan spoke directly through Peter in an attempt to stop Jesus doing the will of the Father, and it was David's elder brother who tried to discourage him from slaying Goliath. A zealous Christian told me of a conversation he had with his own mother which totally discouraged him from seeking the lost. She was his own flesh and blood, and he listened to her speak nothing but discouragement for over an hour. She told him of his foolishness in wanting to preach when he hadn't even been through a seminary. Who was he to go around telling people about their need of Christ, when he wasn't even trained to be a minister! Those words of death went right into his heart and discouraged him to a point where he lost his zeal, his direction, and his desire to do anything for the Kingdom of God. It was only when he gave himself to prayer that he realized satan's subtlety.
He will stop at nothing to get you back into the barracks of your local church building, super glued to the pew worshipping Jesus and ignoring His will. He will use any mouthpiece available, and believe me, there are plenty of willing ones. Jesus said, "Watch!" He said, "What I say to you, I say to all, watch." Satan will often withhold an attack until you are in a place of vulnerability. He will not strike when you are full of faith and power, but when you are tired, fasting, or carrying a problem on your shoulders. He has no mercy. He will stomp on you when you are down, and dig his grimy heel into the back of your neck. He is the hater of your soul. Your downfall is his delight. Keep your shield held high and "watch!"
I love the word "encouragement." Just seeing my friend boldly preach on the train in the Bronx filled my heart with courage. If you see the soldier in front of you firing his weapon and the enemy fleeing before his face, fear will flee from your face. Robert Louis Stevenson said, "Keep your fears to yourself but share your courage with others." This was so clearly illustrated in the lives of Joshua and Caleb. They had a positive, hopeful, valiant courageous, optimistic spirit, often called "faith." If we can't say something positive, we should take a leaf out of the book of Joshua and keep our mouths shut. The children of Israel were told not to speak as they walked around the walls of Jericho. What they were doing was foolish, opening themselves to the ridicule of the enemy. It would have been hard to say anything positive, but when they did say something, it brought the downfall of the enemy, not their brethren. Recognize that if you are going to do something for the Lord, satan will be aiming his fiery darts at you.
The devil is the progenitor of falsehood. He is a compulsive liar. He is the master of deception, and a major tactic is to tell the Christian that to witness for Christ is difficult. He would have us believe that it would be less fearful to be a dentist for hungry ferocious lions, before the days of injections.
With all the years I have had preaching to hardened, anti-Christian, blasphemous, foul-mouthed sinners, one would think I have conquered fear, but I still have to fight the fear of man when it comes to personal witnessing. But when I speak "as I ought to speak," I have found that my fears were totally unfounded and realize that once again, I have entertained enemy propaganda.
Multitudes of Christians suffer from this disease -- they know that they should be true and faithful in their witnessing, yet day after day passes by, and so do sinners on their way to Hell. The fear of man in our lives is nothing more than a compromise with the enemy. We are listening to his perversions. To say that I am unable to witness is to say that God's promise of help is nothing but an empty lie. If I say, "I can't" when God's word says, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," and I choose the former, I am choosing a lie, rather than believing the truth.
Ecclesiastical LocomotiveI make no apology for the length of the following quote from a sermon by that mighty soldier of the turn of the century, Billy Sunday:
We often disguise the fear of man so that his presence is less convicting. We call it "embarrassment," "shyness," or we "don't want to seem offensive." If we are "self-conscious" rather than God-conscious, we are not "free indeed."
When I was once asked to take a three day crusade at a university, I was told by a member of the committee that the Christian Union "had a good name in the university." I soon found out why. They preferred that we didn't use our literature, which exposed the demonic aspect of heavy rock music, touched on the abortion issue as well as stating the Scriptural attitude to homosexuality. I was told that homosexuality was a "touchy issue." I unwillingly submitted myself to their authority and had the three days of meetings. At the end of the third day, I asked the crowd of about 200 people how many them knew the Lord and found that almost all of them were Christians. I left that meeting determined never again to submit myself to such a committee.
A month earlier I was at another university, and this time there was no committee. A group of Christians had given out our literature, and by the time I appeared, the students were so angered, they were tearing down posters advertising my visit. Just before I was due to go into the main hall, I was shown a letter written by the local chaplain. He stated that as university chaplain, he wanted it to be known that he had nothing to do with the invitation for me to speak at the university. He stated that he thought that I would turn people away from "true Christianity," then he listed a number of points of contention. My immediate thought was no one would turn up to the meeting. When I tried to find a "closet" to encourage myself in God, I couldn't even find one. I was then called for, and ushered into the auditorium. To my delight, there were about 500 students packed into the room. For the next forty minutes I had the joy of preaching sin, righteousness and judgment, and can say that over the years I thought I'd seen an anti-Christian spirit, but I hadn't seen anything compared to that day. I had never seen such a unified spirit of hate. If there had been stones handy, I am sure I would have followed close on the heels of Stephen. There were homosexuals, lesbians, pro-abortionists, dope-freaks, all soaked in the most blasphemous, foul language imaginable. Here were our future doctors, lawyers and politicians.
The next day at least 800 students (and one chaplain) packed into the hall, and I had another opportunity to preach God's Word to those precious people, and they were there because the young Christians had the guts to make an uncompromising stand for the Gospel. They shook off the shackles of fear of rejection. What a colorful contrast to committees of cowering, cringing Christians!
The "fear of man brings a snare," and is a victory for the enemies of righteousness. But those who fear God enough to obey Him, will not only find that He opens doors for them, but they will also find an oil of joy above their fellows. At another so-called learning institute, I told the Christian Union that I would be speaking on the subject of "The Perversion of Homosexuality." Two days before the meeting, the person in charge called and said that the committee had told him that if I spoke on that particular subject, they would stop any financial grants from getting through to the Christian Union. We decided that we would go ahead as planned, and as far as we were concerned, the whole lot of them could go to Heaven!
Look at this further quotation from the publication about the ministry of Billy Sunday:
It takes courage to bring up the subject of Judgment Day when witnessing or preaching, but we have the help of God, and if we really care we will warn the world. What I normally do is share my own testimony by saying how, as a non-Christian, I judged my standard by the standard of men. I didn't realize how high God's standard was. I often tell a story of a little girl who remarked to her mother how clean some sheep looked against the green grass. Then, as snow began to fall, this same girl remarked how dirty the sheep looked against the white snow. I tell them that if they compare themselves with the standard of other people, they may look reasonably clean, but if they compare themselves with the snow-white righteousness of the Law of God, they will see themselves as unclean, desperately needing God's cleansing and forgiveness.
It is essential to know how to use the Law effectively. Most Christians today don't even know what the Ten Commandments are...do you? Can you say with the Psalmist, "Oh how I love Your Law, it is my meditation day and night"?
When I speak at different churches, I often make my way to the Sunday school and speak to the children before I minister in the main service. I say that I will give one dollar for each Commandment that any child can recite. Often I only have to part with one or two dollars. Yet, our children should be soaked in the knowledge of right and wrong, and the Law is God's direct ordinance of morality.
Do you understand why the Commandments were given? -- as a mirror to show us our true state before Almighty God.
In the story of the little girl, the snow gave her a standard by which she could measure what clean and unclean was. Until the snow fell, she was deceived as to what real purity was. If we don't let the snow of the Law of God fall upon the sinner, he will have no gauge by which to measure himself. "All have sinned" does not tell them how much they have sinned; the Law does. How weak and fickle much of our preaching is, compared to men of the past who knew how to use the weapon of the Law. Charles Spurgeon said:
Jesus said the enemy is the one who sows tares among the wheat (Matthew 13:25). With today's Gospel, he doesn't need to, we do that for him. How aptly Spurgeon describes so many of our "converts." So our job is to lay the righteousness of the Law clearly before the sinner. What we are attempting to do, with God's help, is show the sinner that he is destitute, without God (Ephesians 2:12), without Christ (Ephesians 2:12), without hope (Ephesians 2:12), without strength (Romans 5:6), and without excuse (Romans 1:20). We neither condemn nor condone, but we are seeking to convict then convert. To do this, learn the essence of the Law of God.
Reason of Sin, Righteousness, and Judgment
I sat down and looked around the scene. Three people were talking together and I didn't feel comfortable approaching them to witness to them. As a passerby passed by, one of them asked, "Got a light?" and held up a cigarette. The passerby didn't have a light. The would-be cigarette smoker glanced at me, but decided not to ask for a light. Another passerby passed by matchless. As the young man looked at me, it suddenly struck me, "I've got a light, and I'm gonna let it shine," so I called him over. As he held out his cigarette, I said, "Let me show you this first," and gave him a tract, then spent some time giving this man light for his darkened soul. As I did so, I did some sleight-of-hand, which attracted another four men, who asked if I would do an encore. I did, then witnessed to them using the Law to bring light to them. One of them said, "That's really neat. I have never had anyone take the time to sit down and explain this to me." The Commandment is a lamp, and the Law is light (Proverbs 6:23).
The fields are white unto harvest, but if we will not pick up the sickle of the Law, we will not cut deep into it. If we continue using man-made methods, we will continue to reap stony-ground hearers. A quick study of scripture reveals that the Apostles did not pray the sinners prayer with every listener. Paul "reasoned" with Felix. He did not tell him that Jesus loved him. He reasoned of the three things that convict the world; of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Paul preached future punishment by the Law, and Felix "trembled."
To fail to preach future punishment is to enlist potential deserters into the ranks of the Army of God. Before I could walk with peace of mind with a soldier behind me wielding a bayonet-fixed, loaded rifle, I would want to know for certain that he was on my side. His decision to enlist would not convince me, nor his uniform or his boastings. Before I put my faith in him, I want to know his spirit, his heart -- does he love the country he is fighting for? Does he believe in the cause? Is he willing to die for it?
Listen to George Whitefield speak on this subject:
While we rejoice over "decisions," Heaven reserves its rejoicing for repentance (Luke 15:10).
The thing that motivated Christian to search for salvation in Pilgrim's Progress, was fear of the judgment to come:
We must not fear making reference to the Judgment! This is the climax of the ages. It is an event that the very creation cries out for, from the blood of Abel, that calls for vengeance to the last injustice of this age. God loves justice...and He will have it:
Judgment is the most "reasonable," rational, logical thing there can be. We need to appeal to the reason of the sinner. Judgment makes sense. Surely when God sees that 98% of all street crimes in New York never come to justice, He cares. Surely, the Creator of the sun, the moon, the stars, flowers, birds and trees has a sense of right and wrong. When God sees a man like Hitler slaughter literally millions of innocent people, is He stirred, or hasn't He as much sense of goodness as has man? Is it only man who deals out fines and imprisonment for crimes? The very reason mankind has a court system is because deep within his fallen nature, he still has a sense of right and wrong. It is there because he is made in the image of God.
Preaching Judgment by the Law is like a light shining upon the dark, unregenerate mind. It is powerful because it is reasonable! It will cause him to tremble, as did Felix. How we must warn them! How great will be the terror of that Day:
God will bring every work to Judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14). It is appointed to man, once to die, and after this the Judgment. Every idle word a man speaks, he will give an account thereof in the Day of Judgment. How can we, as lights to this generation, say that we are free from their blood if we don't warn them of the reality of Eternal Justice! How can we expect to receive the commendation, "Well done, you good and faithful servant" if we don't serve God faithfully? We have such an awesome responsibility.
Someone sent me this poem, which says what I am trying to say:
Break The Hard Heart
It was John Newton, the converted slave trader who wrote "Amazing Grace," who said, "My grand point in preaching, is to break the hard heart, and to heal the broken one." The Law breaks the hard heart and Grace heals the broken one.
You can tell if someone is ready for Grace by the fact that their mouth will be stopped. They will not seek to justify themselves, instead they will acknowledge their guilt. If they can personally appropriate Psalm 51, then they are ready for Grace. If they have no sense of their sinfulness to a point of repentance, and you are able to "get a decision," you will probably deliver a premature, still-born baby.
The fruit of "Jesus loves you" evangelism was epitomized recently while preaching in the open air. I touched on the subject of homosexuality, when a young lady verbally defended it. She was in her mid-twenties, very attractive, long blond hair, tastefully made up, and impeccably dressed. However, I detected that the voice tone was slightly lower than one would have expected from such a lady, so I asked, "Are you a guy?" The voice answered, "Transsexual." Then it said sleazily, "And I've asked Jesus into my heart, darling, and God loves me just the way I am." The god of this world may love him just the way he is, but the God of Heaven says, "Let everyone that names the name of Christ, depart from iniquity."
Come and Hear The Good News
Imagine if the local police force decided to have an amnesty, in which all criminal charges would be dropped against those who had broken the law, if within a certain period of time they would present their weapons at the local police station. After the offer of amnesty, there would be a massive bust in which every criminal would be rounded up and charged for their crimes.
How would the police tell the law-breakers of the good news of the amnesty? After some discussion, they decide to put advertisements in the police column of the local newspaper. Their reasoning is that law-breakers read their column. The next move is to spend a great deal of finance to make the local police station attractive. They have the prison bars chrome-plated, have the cells carpeted with luscious carpet, and piped music played throughout the cells. Notices are then put outside the station saying, "Come and hear the good news." They don't mention that they have information that will lead to the biggest bust in the history of the state.
Mysteriously, few law-breakers are game enough to make their way down to the station to hear what this good news is about. Of course, we know that the police are not mindless enough to think that anyone is going to visit a police station when they are guilty of breaking the law, yet this is the mentality of modern evangelism. A church building is the last place a sinner wants to frequent, so we have reasoned that we must make it more attractive to him, and entice him in to hear the "Good News."
Let's now see if we can learn from the police as they use a more realistic strategy. They do not remain within the building, but bring their message out to the public in this manner:
THE PENALTY FOR POSSESSING ANY OF THE FOLLOWING WEAPONS IS A FIVE YEAR IMPRISONMENT...If you surrender your weapon within seven days we will not lay charges. REMEMBER, FIVE LONG YEARS -- don't be foolish, take advantage of this amnesty now!
The police merely preach future punishment to law-breakers, and it gets results! True conversion not only takes from the enemy, but adds to the ranks of the Army of The Lord...a two-fold victory, something the enemy isn't too happy about. Think of how God dealt with Saul of Tarsus.
I'm Glad You Asked
I once asked God to use me on a particular day for the extension of His Kingdom, but I couldn't see how He could, as all I had planned was to stay at home all that day and proof-read a new publication. A neighbor had left her key with us, and asked if we could let a repair man into her home, and he arrived as I was praying. As we chatted, we moved from the natural to the spiritual and I casually asked if he had been born-again. He stunned me with the reply, "I'm glad you asked that!" He then showed me a book he had been reading called "Hungering After God," which he borrowed from the public library. A few minutes later he accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. God had heard my unbelieving prayer, and given me a Nicodemus, so don't get discouraged if you seem to be continually sowing, God will occasionally let you reap, if you are faithful. More than often, I am sowing in tears.
On a recent flight to Dallas, I sat next to a defense attorney who didn't think God would punish sin. I reasoned with him about the fact that if a judge in Miami turned a blind eye to the crimes of the Mafia, he would be a corrupt judge, and should be therefore brought of justice himself. Between 1978 and 1988, there were 63,000 unsolved murders in the United States. That means there are at least 63,000 murderers walking around in America who have got off free. If God turns a blind eye to what they have done then God is corrupt by nature and should be brought to justice himself. I think the man saw that his god was one made in his own image.
After talking for some time, I said, "Let me present my case." He agreed, so I took him through three of the Commandments, which he acknowledged he had transgressed. He still tried to justify himself and cited a case he had been involved in the previous day. He said that the judge asked two teenage criminals if they were sorry for their crime. They said they were, so the judge was lenient with them. He then pointed out that if they weren't sorry, he would have given them a very stiff sentence. The attorney actually built a case against himself. I told him that he was a guilty criminal in God's sight, and that if he kept trying to justify himself, he would be found guilty and end up in Hell. If he would be sorry, repent and put his faith in Jesus, God could show him mercy because of the work of the cross. I gave him a book, and we parted on very good terms.
I embarrass Sue whenever I tell her what I do when I fly. I can understand why. I usually get on a flight, wait until all the passengers have boarded, pull out two or three blankets and at least eight pillows from the overhead lockers, make a bed, then snooze. I have got to a point where my comfort is more important than what other passengers think of me.
After the Dallas flight, I waited down the back of another plane, watching as an endless stream of passengers poured on board. I could see one row of three seats halfway own. While I waited, I talked with the flight attendant, who happened to be a Christian. Suddenly, a tall man with snowy-white hair stood up and spoke to her. She walked down the plane, came back and spoke to him. He then walked down the aisle and stole my potential bed! When the flight attendant realized that she had given away my seats, she apologized. It didn't really worry me, because I earlier surmised that if I didn't get a seat, God wanted me to witness to someone next to my designated seat.
I made my way back to my designated seat and found that someone had taken it. Controlled panic. I now had no seat! Suddenly, I saw one and plunked myself in it. The young man next to me was in his early twenties, and he didn't hesitate to begin a conversation with me. He was in the army, and said how he was tired of training. He wanted combat. When I asked him if he was afraid of getting killed, he said, "No." Why? -- "Because of God." When I asked if he was a Christian, he said, "I'm a protestant." Further on in the conversation, he said how he had been on an earlier flight in a small plane and he was very scared. In fact, when telling me, he used the name of Jesus in blasphemy. I tucked that piece of ammunition away for later on in this battle that God had so evidently directed me to.
When we touched on Christian things later on in the conversation, he admitted he had broken a number of the Commandments. When I told him he had blasphemed the name of Jesus, he was very concerned. He knew he had done that in the past, but had determined never to do it again. Rarely do I find sinners admitting their sins so readily. After we had been through the Law and the cross, spoken of justification by faith alone, he said that he was without excuse, that he would be a fool not to get right with God. He said that he had gained so much understanding through our conversation. That is the function of the Law -- to be a schoolmaster, to bring the knowledge of sin, to prepare the heart for Grace.
Be alert to the tactic of the enemy to sidetrack with "red herrings," or "rabbit trails." Occasionally sinners have a genuine difficulty with, "Darwin's theory," "hypocrites in the Church," etc., but in most cases they are nothing but red herrings. We are called to be fishers of men, not herrings. Red herrings are the "hedges" Jesus told us to go to. Sinners make hedges, behind which they try to hide from God, as did Adam. The best way to get to a sinner from behind a hedge, is to beat it with the rod of the Law. Flush him out so that he stands naked before his Creator. When he says, "I don't believe in Judgment Day," just say, "That doesn't matter, you will still perish if you don't repent." A bullet will kill you, even if you don't believe in bullets. God's Word is sharper than a two-edged sword, even if the sinner doesn't believe it:
Look for your divine directive. No battle is easy. If you go into a conflict armed with the Law, the enemy will discharge fiery darts of discouragement, and if you don't have your shield of faith held high, they will find their ark.
Early in 1994, I sat next to a man aiming to witness to him, and found that he had the warmth of an iceberg. My aim was not yet on God's target, so I moved my sights to a woman who made Mr. Iceberg seem sociably hot. Then I sat next to another man whose head was horribly scarred, his eye was disfigured and his arm was in a sling. After I discharged the cannons of God's Law, with a wide eye he confided that he was in a motorbike accident and his parents informed him that while he was in a coma (though he didn't recall it), he said that God had told him that He didn't want him to come to Him yet. He was very open and was obviously God's appointment for me at that time.
There is nothing wrong with the weapons God has given to the Church. If the ten cannons of the Ten Commandments are covered in dust, that's our fault not God's. Dust them off, polish them up, move them forward, and aim them down the throats of those whose mouths are opened in rebellion against the heavens. Light the fuse...then watch their faces turn pale. Better is a little fear in the Day of Grace, which drives the sinner to the cross, than no fear until the Day of Wrath, which will drive the sinner into the Lake of Fire.
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