What is the real winning of a soul for God? So far as this is done by instrumentality, what are the processes by which a soul is led to God and to salvation? I take it that one of its main operations consists in instructing a man that he may know the truth of God. Instruction by the gospel is the commencement of all real work upon men's minds. "Go ye, therefore, and teach.. CHS “The Soul-Winner” pg 14
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Psa 19:1-14)
“To try to win a soul for Christ by keeping that soul in ignorance of any truth, is contrary to the mind of the Spirit; and to endeavor to save men by mere claptrap, or excitement, or oratorical display, is as foolish as to hope to hold an angel with bird-lime, or lure a star with music. The best attraction is the gospel in its purity. The weapon with which the Lord conquers men is the truth as it is in Jesus. The gospel will be found equal to every emergency; an arrow which can pierce the hardest heart, a balm which will heal the deadliest wound. Preach it, and preach nothing else. Rely implicitly upon the old, old gospel. You need no other nets when you fish for men; those your Master has given you are strong enough for the great fishes, and have meshes fine enough to hold the little ones. Spread these nets and no others, and you need not fear the fulfillment of His Word, "I will make you fishers of men." Charles H. Spurgeon, The Soul-Winner pg 18
Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2Co 4:1-12)
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died--more than that, who was raised--who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, "For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom 8:31-39)
Wednesday night we went down to Loveland, Colorado. They were having a parade in conjunction with the Larimer County Fair. We were a bit late but were able to catch quite a few people heading back to their cars. We stopped at the corner of Lincoln Avenue and 4th Street and because there was a good amount of traffic from the parade all going north on the one way street, many people were able to see the cross. We handed out tracts to the people passing by and were able to engage a few people in conversation.. We also had some interaction with some local bar patrons and homeless people most of whom were too drunk to really have much intelligent conversation with them. One older gentleman came out of the bar and repeated several times, “Jesus loves you” and then said that we should not make a spectacle of the cross. Another said that his friend told him that he was going to nail me onto the cross. We had a fairly long conversation with both Abraham and Jessica who lived nearby wherein we were able to proclaim the law and the gospel to them. Jessica was congenial and took a New Testament. Abraham was also very nice. He told us he was from Chihuahua. We also talked to a man named Lee who stopped on his bicycle to see what we were doing. He said he was an agnostic fundamentalist and laughed saying it was only a joke he liked to tell. He seemed to be under conviction as we went through some of the commandments with him. As we talked with him, another couple approached us who had a look that said “we really need to tell you something about what you are doing”. We asked them to wait while we finished talking to Lee. Our conversation ended quickly when Tracy told Lee that hatred was murder of the heart. He muttered something about us being “too much” and rode away without looking back. We then turned to the couple that was waiting to talk to us. They both had their arms folded tightly across their chests. Rick and Mya identified themselves as Christians and wanted to know what we believed about President Obama. We told them we were not really there to discuss politics. Rick was sure that Mr. Obama was the anti-Christ. Things went downhill when we began to explain to them the gospel starting with the God and the fall of mankind. We explained that we are all by nature enemies of God. Rick was very sure that we were wrong about this and that God had no enemies at all. We pointed him to Rom 5:10 “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” Rick was not really interested in hearing what we had to say. Shortly thereafter, he and his companion departed rather abruptly. My question is that if, we have never come to grips with the truth that we are by nature enemies of God, can we really be God's friend? We also had the chance to talk to Chris a very nice young man who was looking for a solid church to attend. Please pray for all who heard or read the truth of the gospel or who were reminded of it by seeing the cross.
Sam the Cambridge PhD tries to convince Mark Spence that there are absolutely no absolutes.
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. (1Co 1:20-21)
"An idea has long possessed the public mind that a religious man can scarcely be a wise man. It has been the custom to talk of infidels, atheists and deists as men of deep thought and comprehensive intellect. And to tremble for the Christian controversialist, as if he must surely fall by the hand of the enemy. But this is purely a mistake. For the Gospel is the sum of wisdom, an epitome of knowledge, a treasure house of Truth and a Revelation of mysterious secrets. In it we see how justice and mercy may be married. Here we behold inexorable Law entirely satisfied and sovereign love bearing away the sinner in triumph. Our meditation upon it enlarges the mind. And as it opens to our soul in successive flashes of glory, we stand astonished at the profound wisdom manifest in it." CH Spurgeon
We traveled to Santa Monica along with about 60 other Evangelists to proclaim the good news of the glory of Christ. Our goal was to make known the message of what our great God and Savior accomplished in a clear and winsome manner. Did we accomplish our goal? I hope that we did. We know that we have much to learn. The Apostle Peter wrote this, "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light." Amen, may be it so!
Tracy interviewed three young ladies in October 2009 in Old Town Fort Collins. She asked them about there beliefs concerning the afterlife. One of them said that she believed in reincarnation but did not seem to know much about it. Tracy had a good time talking to this energetic trio of friends. Our prayer is that the truth they heard will make bear everlasting fruit in their lives.
I talked to Michael on a Friday night in Old Town Fort Collins in April 2010. He was an affable young man who said he was a Christian. I asked what he would say to me if I wasn't a believer and only had three minutes to live. I also told him what I would say in those three minutes courtesy our brother Tony Miano.
Here is the interview: http://www.archive.org/details/InterviewWithMichael_996&reCache=1
"There must also be a willingness to obey the Lord in all His commandments. It is a shameful thing for a man to profess discipleship and yet refuse to learn his Lord's will upon certain points, or even dare to decline obedience when that will is known. How can a man be a disciple of Christ when he openly lives in disobedience to Him?" CH Spurgeon “The Soul-Winner” pg 30
Tracy interviewed Cody on a Saturday afternoon in May 2010 in Old Town Fort Collins. Cody attends church every Sunday and Wednesday and said he strongly believed that he would go to heaven when he died. Tracy enjoyed talking to him and getting his ideas on the subject of life after death. He said that it is hard to say how a just and holy God can forgive our sins.
Men need to be told that, except divine grace shall bring them out of their enmity to God, they must eternally perish; and they must be reminded of the sovereignty of God, that He is not obliged to bring them out of this state, that He would be right and just if He left them in such a condition, that they have no merit to plead before Him, and no claims upon him, but that if they are to be saved, it must be by grace, and by grace alone. CH Spurgeon “The Soul-Winner” pg 17-18
View yourselves as grains of wheat predestinated to seed the world. That man lives grandly who is as earnest as if the very existence of Christianity depended upon himself, and is determined that to all men within his reach shall be made known the unsearchable riches of Christ. CH Spurgeon “The Soul-Winner” pg 204
I grew up in a fairly strict and traditional family in Denver, Colorado. Along with my three sisters and two brothers and numerous cousins; I was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. We attended Mass on a weekly basis and Parochial schools from 1st through 8th grade and then I attended a Jesuit High School until graduation in 1975. It was a fairly typical upbringing for a kid of the baby boom generation born the late 1950s. Our lifestyle was not lavish but comfortable. I don’t remember much of the religious instruction that came from my parents, though no doubt they tried to give it. My understanding was that Jesus died to give us a second chance to earn His favor by our good deeds. Though this does not exactly reflect official Roman Catholic teaching it was the idea that stuck in my mind. In my High School years there were few if any of my peers who took their religious upbringing very seriously. Most were much more interested in parties, sports, and girls. Upon graduation Denver was left behind to attend CSU in Fort Collins. I remember saying our goodbyes after my parents drove me to the campus and got me settled in my dorm room. For the most part it felt good to be free and on my own for the first time. Continuing to attend church was never seriously considered. Even so, the idea that there must be some kind of God somewhere floated around in my thoughts. Eastern meditation seemed attractive for awhile but whatever was there seemed to remain just out of reach. A couple of different girlfriends were part of the picture in the early years of college, which was unfortunately not a good thing for them or me. A sense of emptiness was always beneath the relentless pursuit of happiness. Despite having much of what imagination had told me would bring contentment, the reality was much less satisfying. The thought of being a basically good person had always been something of a comfort to me regardless of all the bad things done in my life. It was never too hard to find someone who was actually worst than me, at least in my mind. Still, sometimes the undeniable sense of guilt would make me wonder. Unbeknownst to me a radical change was coming. Working at a nursing home in the summer of 1976 was not the best employment, but it was something and afforded more opportunity to be near my girlfriend who had found me the job. One day the thought came clearly as we were taking our break at work, “there must be a better way”. It was a different kind of reflection, almost as though it was not my own. A couple of my fellow employees had come to notice in the first few weeks of work. One of them was a hard partying kind of guy who liked to boast about his exploits the night before. The other was a few years older and seemed different somehow. It remained a mystery until one day the two of them were talking within earshot. Evidently the party guy had been invited over to the others place for dinner and something had happened. It was not quite clear as to what, but it seemed that he was giving up his partying ways. Now that was strange. A curious eye was kept on the two of them for the next couple of months. At the end of the summer the job had to be given up to return to school. The last day of work we were saying our goodbyes and the unusual pair was in the hall. The former party guy gave me an illustration. “Have you ever stuck your finger in a candle?” he asked. And then he added, “Imagine that for all eternity”. Such a comment was a bit stunning coming out of the blue, but then, the other guy, whose name was Don, said simply, “Jesus is the way”. There is no more of the conversation that comes to mind than those few lines. They are etched in the memory because of what happened not long after. That phrase about Jesus being “the way” just would not leave my mind. It seemed to be following everywhere, haunting me. My girlfriend asked, not long after, in a somewhat irritated tone, “What is wrong with you?” The question was a surprise. Was it that obvious? Without thinking the astonishing words came tumbling out. “I think I need the Lord”. It was a moment like none before or since in a life that had seemed to be spiraling downward in far too many ways. It was not so much a decision as an admission of helplessness. The great divide was crossed; the way of life irrevocably changed. That singular event set a different course, first to find out what had happened and then to follow and proclaim the truth about the One who had effected this momentous change. What took place and why it took place has come into greater clarity as the years have passed. In a nutshell it is encapsulated in the words penned by the Apostle Paul in the first century about 30 years after Jesus lived and died and rose from the dead. He wrote that, “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost”. Sinners in this context are not people who are just imperfect, but people who are in active rebellion against their Maker. We have lied and therefore are liars. We have stolen and therefore are thieves. Used God’s name in a profane way and therefore are blasphemers. Looked with lustful intent and therefore are adulterers at heart. In fact, we have broken all of God’s commands in word and thought if not in deed. For me, worst of all perhaps was the arrogant way I viewed my rebellion. It was not really my fault. After all God had made me the way I was. I was a perfect candidate for judgment of the strictest variety. The remarkable thing is that what was deserved did not come. Amazing grace is the only way to describe what happened that day in my girlfriend’s apartment. It happened because of what Christ came into the world to do for people like me. God could have been content to give us the justice that we deserved. But instead He sent His Son into the world to live a perfectly righteous life and die the death of a spotless lamb on our behalf. He took our punishment and purchased us for Himself. And then He rose from the dead proving that all that the Law and the Prophets and He himself had spoken will come to pass. It is my earnest prayer that God will do the same miraculous work in your life if you remain a skeptical unbeliever. Please seriously consider your need to turn away from everything that has been more important to you than the one true God. Turn to Him and call out to Him to have mercy on you. One thing that you can not deny is your knowledge of yourself. Your conscience should compel you to run from the judgment that is to come. It is my prayer that you will not delay.
We interviewed Fernando and Claudia in Old Town Fort Collins on a sunny though somewhat windy Saturday afternoon in April of 2010. We asked them about their thoughts on the afterlife. They were both raised Catholic though Claudia said she didn't really believe anyone knows what happens after we die.
This is an excerpt from the book by R.C. Sproul mentioned above. In this book he explores what he calls the psychology of atheism. In chapter 4, entitled the "Flight from an indignant God", He opens with the following:
The views of Freud, Feuerbach, Marx, and Nietzsche have been so widely disseminated in our culture that it is a common occurrence for the theist to have his faith challenged on the basis of psychological charges. Is there any religious man who has never been accused of believing in God merely because he needed a crutch to face the threats of the modern world? That the shoe could be on the other foot or the crutch used for the other leg is rarely considered. In contrast to the widespread awareness of the psychology of theism, there is a woeful ignorance of the psychology of atheism. It is not common knowledge that the New Testament offers an answer to the question, If there is a God, why is there atheism? The answer to the question is given in what would now be called psychological categories. That is to say; the New Testament maintains that unbelief is generated not so much by intellectual causes as by moral and psychological ones. The problem is not that there is insufficient evidence to convince rational beings that there is a God, but that rational beings have a natural hostility to the being of God. In a word, the nature of God (at least the Christian God) is repugnant to man and is not the focus of desire or wish-projection. Man's desire is not that the omnipotent, personal Judeo-Christian God exist, but that He not exist. The New Testament sees not only atheism but human-fabricated religion as being grounded in such antipathy toward the true God.
So what do you think? Are you suppressing the knowledge of God? Are you trying to convince yourself that God, as revealed in the Bible, cannot exist? Are you telling yourself that even if God does exist, I have nothing to worry about because I am a basically good person? Or if you possess true faith in God, do you buy the idea that unbelieving people are naturally seeking God?
We talked to Phil on the corner of College and Mountain Avenues about his spiritual beliefs. He had some interesting ideas about the afterlife, conscience, morality, and our need for forgiveness, including the belief that, "Hell is in Heaven". Here is the audio.
We talked to a group of people that were hanging out in Old Town Square, who asked us about the "Are you ready?" cross that we were carrying. One of them called out, "What are we supposed to be ready for?". We responded that they needed to be ready for the judgment to come. The conversation that resulted transitioned from science to conscience and afforded us the opportunity to proclaim the good news of the glory of Christ to them.
Tracy talked to three young guys, Mike, Malik, and Booker on Saturday afternoon in Old Town Fort Collins and asked them some questions about their spiritual beliefs. When asked if they considered themselves to be a good person, they replied, “Yeah, well I’m not bad” and “It’s not like I purposely do bad things, it’s just one of those mistake types of things.” When asked about the Ten Commandments one of them said, “I do not really believe in them, it should just be in your nature not to do any of that stuff “. Asked about the conscience and where it came from, one of them replied, “It’s what tells you what is right and wrong, because I believe that people know when they are doing something wrong”. Tracy asked them about their track record compared to the laws concerning lying, stealing, blasphemy, respecting their parents, and hating others. They all admitted to some degree of guilt but at least one sought to minimize his responsibility by saying that he was not doing those things anymore. He did admit that he probably would continue to lie, though he said lying did not seem like a very great transgression. Tracy pointed out that even a “small lie” when uttered against an infinitely holy God was infinitely offensive. When asked what the verdict would be if God judged them based upon His holy Law, all admitted they would be guilty. Where they would end up? One of them said, “Heaven because I haven’t done anything that morally wrong”. Tracy reminded him that he had admitted to telling many lies and that lying is a serious moral wrong. Tracy told them the good news that Jesus came to redeem His people. Fully God and fully man He lived a perfectly moral life and died a horrible death to save us from the wrath we deserve. And that what God requires of them is that they turn from their sin and trust in Christ alone to save them.
We interviewed Libby and Hannah in Fort Collins and asked them about their views on the afterlife. Libby said she believed in reincarnation and Hannah said that she would like to think that people go to heaven. They both said that they were basically good people. We talked to them about the perfect standard of God's Law and about the Savior who lived an absolutely perfect life and died a sacrificial death on behalf of His people to take the punishment that they rightly deserved. It is our hope and prayer that God will grant them repentance and faith so that we will see them again in heaven.
This interview was conducted in Oct 2009. Riley said she was a Christian. Ashley said she was not. We asked them about whether they thought they would go to heaven when they die and why. They both thought they were good people. Riley had asked for forgiveness but had not thought about how a just God could forgive someone just because they asked.