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Do Not Stop Speaking


jesus.heal_Then he returned from the region of Tyre and went through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee, in the region of the Decapolis. And they brought to him a man who was deaf and had a speech impediment, and they begged him to lay his hand on him. And taking him aside from the crowd privately, he put his fingers into his ears, and after spitting touched his tongue. And looking up to heaven, he sighed and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” And his ears were opened, his tongue was released, and he spoke plainly. And Jesus charged them to tell no one. But the more he charged them, the more zealously they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Mark 7:31-37

God does not do everything in a public forum. We offer a public invitation to repent and submit to Jesus Christ in churches every Sunday, but in reality people are not required to walk down the aisle to be saved. Some people have very public salvation experiences, and some are very private ones. Some are saved while the preacher is speaking, while others are saved once home and meditating on the things said. There is no one experience that is better than another.

This man was healed privately. Many of Jesus’ miracles, such as His feeding of the 5,000 men, were very public. Others, like this one, were very private. What connects them all is what happened afterwards.

Acts 4:1-22

Peter and John were threatened with prison, violence and death. Their response? “We cannot stop speaking about what we’ve seen and heard.”

They couldn’t stop. They were compelled. They were driven to speak about Jesus.

When Jesus touches someone, they cannot stop speaking about it. Even if Jesus tells them not to speak, they cannot help themselves.

What about you? How often do you speak about His love? How often do you proclaim His good news to others?

No one is stopping us. There are not yet soldiers in the streets to arrest us, beat us, or kill us. And yet we are stopped by sneers and ridicule, or simply indifference.

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10

We hold back because we want to please men. Even in the Church, a dangerous practice of pleasing men in a thin veneer called “seeker churches.” These people try to be “seeker” sensitive, not being overbearing towards those who come to their church seeking God.

Except, no Lost soul is seeking Him, for it is written:

“No one understands; no one seeks for God.”
Romans 3:11

Men do not seek God. God seeks out men to save them. The world has so blinded itself with sin that it is oblivious to the coming Judgement. We are the watchmen called to sound the trumpet and warn the people.

Ezekiel 33:1-9

We are required to sound the trumpet and warn the Lost. God will hold us accountable for every soul we had a chance to tell but did not. Every soul we tell that does not repent and heed our warning we are guiltless of. We cannot convince people of the truth, for it is also written:

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
1st Corinthians 2:14

In his natural, sinful state, humans cannot understand, cannot see the beauty of the Gospel. In fact, it’s complete nonsense. Only God can change that heart of stone to a heart of flesh, but He often uses us to do it.

Titus 2:1-10

“Adorn” here means to make alluring or attractive. So in a sense we are to make the Gospel more appealing to the Lost, but not by downplaying sin and Judgement, or by working around penal substitution, but by living according to the teachings of Christ in every way, showing the world that God’s way not only works, but is the best way to live.

Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1st Peter 3:13-17

No one is saying go grab a sandwich board and stand on the street screaming at people to “turn or burn.” What the Bible says is to live a godly life and revere Christ as holy. Then, when people inquire as to why you live and love thus, you share the Gospel. We do not do this harshly or in judgement, but as dying men to dying men.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.
Colossians 4:5

Don’t stay silent. Be wise among unbelievers and look for opportunities. If you see one open up, you go for it!

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2015 in Christology

 

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Johnathan Dunn

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J. Dunn wasn’t great at sowing fields, but he was great at sowing the Word in the hearts of his boys.

What difference can one man make?

Johnathan Dunn is my great great grandfather. He was the father of Blanche Dunn, the mother of Acton Cohoon, the father of Barry Cohoon, my father.

If you ask around the family what J. Dunn (as he was known) did the response would be, “It depends. He tried everything, he did not succeed at anything.” He tried his hand at business, at labor, at farming, and probably a bunch of other occupations if what I’ve heard is to be believed. He never really made it at any of those things, “but” they’ll say, “he made enough to feed his family.” His family by the way consisted of four girls and four boys. All the girls were born first, then all the boys.

Something else about J. Dunn that has to be true was that he was fun. All of his kids were crack-ups, some of the most playful and fun people I’ve ever met (even in their 80s and 90s). That family was close. They loved each other with an unyielding loving-kindness. If you asked them what they lacked living under J. Dunn’s roller-coaster career of nothing they’d answer, “nothing.”

J. Dunn wasn’t a missionary and he never pastored a church. He was, however, deeply in love with Jesus Christ.

When he and the boys went out to plow or plant, J. Dunn would do a row, then sit them down and read to them from the Word. The Word was read often in that household and was the reference for life itself.

When the youngest son, Joesph, was born, the older daughters resented him. They had taken care of three boys already and knew one more baby boy meant only more work for them. J. Dunn took them aside and told them, “This boy is a gift from God, and you won’t resent him so. Just for this, I’m going to name him Joesph after the son of Jacob whom all his brothers also hated. His name will always remind you of this day.” What is amazing is that no one ever told “Uncle Joe” this about his namesake until his 90th birthday.

So J. Dunn was never successful at a wordly career, and he was never big in the church either. He didn’t take his family to Russia as missionaries and he didn’t pastor or anything like that. All he did was raise a godly family.

All four of his sons became preachers of the Gospel and preached all their lives (many of which got pretty close to 100). God only knows how many He saved under their preaching.

Many of the daughters (at least Blanche, if not all of them) went on to become godly wives and raise godly children, and I too am a product of this faithfulness.

Men, what if your mission was simply to love your wife and raise a godly family? What if you were destined by God to never be a big hit in the world, or even the church? What if the handful of folks at home were your only ministry?

They are your ministry, no matter if you are big in the world, or even big in the church. Whatever you do, they are the most important ministry in your life, even if its the only one you have. Being a good husband and father, a godly husband and father, is the most important thing you will ever do.

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Sanctification

 

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The Christian Agenda

Despite the fact that Christians have been pursuing the same goal for 2,000 years, it seems quite a few people still do not understand what we are all about.

Recently, a friend of mine who is a minister told me a story of a man who came to the Church seeking financial assistance. He came back time and again, each time with a new story and a new “need”. The ministers tried to teach him about Christ each time,  and encouraging him to come and visit the Church for services. He said that he would, but never came. Finally one day the man came in demanding a huge favor that would cost the congregation precious resources it could barely afford itself. When the minister refused, he flew into a rage. He accused the Church of not fulfilling its purpose, which was in his mind to help anyone who wanted it financially. He accused them of having some “hidden agenda” behind their assistance and always “preaching him up” whenever he came asking for money.

Well to those of you out there who share his sentiments and to some of the faith who have been led astray by social justice preaching, let me tell you now that the Church does have an agenda, though it is far from hidden, and it is not to simply line the pockets of people with money, nor even to feed the hungry or clothe the naked. These are means only, the end is something much different and much more wonderful.

This is the Christian agenda, Matthew 28:16-20,

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Our agenda, therefore, is to go out and make other people into disciples of Christ, so that they can share with us in the glory of Christ’s return and the eternal life he offers to those who believe on His Name.

Some will say that Jesus fed the poor and helped the needy. This is absolutely true, and Christians want to do the same! But though Jesus did these things, it was with the same agenda in mind. Read John 6. The chapter opens with the famous feeding of the five thousand, where Jesus took a happy meal and fed close to 10,000 people if women and children are included.  The then people followed him all the way across the Sea of Galilee, even though Jesus takes the shortcut by walking on water. When they all meet up again, the people want to see Jesus, but not because they really believe in Him and want to be His disciples. Jesus knows this immediately and tries to preach to them about the eternal life they can have in Him, but they are not listening. They only want another hand-out. When Jesus realizes this, he preaches a harsh and difficult truth to them and most all of them depart and follow Him no longer.

Folks, Christ is our role-model. We are to do likewise as He did. So if you go to the Church looking for help you will get it, both physically and spiritually. But if you persist in seeking the physical blessing and spit on the spiritual one, do not be surprised if the Church, like Jesus, turns you away with harsh (but true) teachings. It is better for you to go away empty handed and think about your spiritual depravity than for you to go away filled and never come to Christ for forgiveness. If we satisfy your earthly desires but leave you to suffer endlessly in Hell, what good have we done?

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2011 in Soteriology

 

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Greek Evangelism 101

Recently I’ve been doing an intense self-evaluation of my evangelistic techniques. To be honest, my typical approach, which is mostly borrowed from Share Jesus Without Fear, has not to date had warm receptions from those I’ve tried it on.

This is not to say that these people rejected Christ’s message. We know most people will reject Him and not enter Heaven, but I hardly make it to the actual “good news” part of the process.

Instead, the adversity is towards the scholarly approach. Most Lost people don’t read the Bible (some, ironically, do), and even those that do don’t really believe in it. So quoting scripture (or having the Lost person read the scripture) is often times a pointless endeavor, because the Scripture has no authority in their lives. All the book names, chapter numbers and verse numbers tend to muddy the water that’s already somewhat confusing and awkward to the Lost individual who is probably hearing the true Gospel for the first time.

One of the founders of the Creation Museum, Ken Ham, spoke at my congregation a few years back. One of the things he said is that the age-old tactics for evangelism here in the U.S. weren’t working anymore. Sermons that once brought in the sheaves are now falling on deaf ears. Why? According to Ham, it’s because the U.S. is no longer a nation of “Jews” (religious people of the Bible yet without Christ), but “Greeks” (people with either a pagan or no religion at all and no belief or knowledge of the Bible).

Over a century ago, most Americans learned to read from the Bible, went to church most of their lives, and knew the story of Jesus. This doesn’t mean they were saved, but they had the head-knowledge base. To bring them to a salvation-decision, you just had to fill in the blanks for them.

Today, most Americans have not been raised in real Christian households where the Word of God is read and upheld as the standard for living, have not heard countless sermons on the Gospel and the Bible, and have no respect for the Church or the Scriptures. We can’t use the same method on them.

In Paul’s day, these two ideologies were personified in two people groups: the Jews, who had the Scriptures and the age-old knowledge of God and the prophecies, and the Gentiles or Greeks who knew virtually nothing of any of that. If you read Acts, you’ll see the Apostles takes a remarkably different approach to preaching to Gentiles than they do with Jews.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached to a crowd of mostly if not all Jews. His message about Christ was based on the Scriptures at that time, and he proved the case for Christ on the Scriptures the Jews knew and respected.

When Paul went to the Aeropagus (Mars Hill) in Athens, he preached to a crowd of mostly Gentiles. He did not quote any Scripture. The Greeks would not have known it nor would that prove anything to them if he did because they did not believe in it. Instead he used their own philosophies and such to make his point. Even then, few responded. It is hard to convert “Greeks”.

Sadly, Americans today are mostly Greeks, even in the “Bible belt”. It is hard to convert Greeks, for to them the Cross is nonsense.

With that in mind, I have decided to change the way I approach Americans with the Gospel. Instead of bombarding them with Scriptures (i.e. Roman’s Road), I will talk to them about my friend named Jesus, who saved my life. I will tell them who He is and what He’s done for us, what He offers to them, and what will happen to them if they refuse Him. I’ll use examples based on things they do know, like movies or popular media to get my point across. Then, if they want to know more, I can take them to the Scriptures we are all so familiar with.

In the end, what we are offering the Lost is not a religion or a building or a book of rules, but a relationship with the God-Man Jesus Christ. Perhaps its best if we start by introducing Him as a real person, and not just a name in an old book.

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2009 in Soteriology

 

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One Salvation

Many many years ago, a simple farmer was given some ferry money so that his wife and daughter could go to a nearby church across the river. None of them were saved, but the wife wanted to take the daughter to church, no doubt to teach her good morals.

Now it so happened this week was Gospel Meeting week (read: Revival week if Baptist). The young girl attended each meeting, and was herself saved. After the meetings, a fellow brother asked the preacher how it went. “Not well” he replied, “we had just one salvation, a little girl.”

That young girl grew up in faith and started a family. She gave birth to four sons and many daughters. All four sons became Gospel preachers.

Now one of the daughters grew up and started her own family. She had sons and daughters.

One of those sons grew in faith and became a strong leader in his congregation. He started his own family and had a son and a daughter.

His son grew in faith, became a leader at his congregation and started his own family. He had one son. That son is me.

Now God has called me into the ministry as well, and may Heaven forbid if I ever say “We had just one salvation.”

That Gospel Meeting was the best my family has ever known, for it saved us all.

 
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Posted by on July 13, 2009 in Soteriology

 

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We the People

Many people in America, including Christians, are currently under a false impression that the election of the president alone can usher in great change, whether for good or for ill.

This is especially true among my brothers on the issues of abortion and same-sex marriages. Many of my brothers vote for whichever candidate claims to oppose these things, believing he will accomplish what he preaches if he is elected.

I agree that the issues of abortion and marriage are extremely important.

The murder of thousands of children each year makes us all together no different than the civilizations that practiced human sacrifice. Instead of sacrificing our children to false gods for blessings, we are sacrificing them to ourselves in return for convenience and control.

Marriage might not seem so important until you realize that it’s one of the first institutions God established in Eden. It’s the building block of all civilization, even the ancient pagans realized this. Once you corrupt the foundation of civilization, all the rest will fall in turn.

Where I differ with my brothers is how to handle this problem. Many today believe that this president or that president can change such issues. They can’t. Most Americans today have a mentality, despite having lived here all their lives, that this nation is ruled by one man. We are not in a monarchy. If we were, all you’d have to do to change things would be to convince the king. He would make a declaration outlawing abortion and securing marriage and that would be it. But that’s not our country. No matter how much I plead with my congressman, he won’t do anything unless the voting majority wants it.

This is because this nation is ruled by US. It’s “We, the People” that run America. Now whether that was a good idea or not is irrelevant to this discussion, the relevant part is that it’s true.

In order to secure biblical marriage and undo abortion, the Church must convince the majority of Americans that it is wrong, sinful, and ultimately destructive to this nation as a whole. Even if a politician believes its wrong, he won’t dare lift a finger against it. Why? For one it will cost him his job, because the majority will vote him out of office. Secondly, his motion would never pass because all of his colleagues are worried about their own jobs.

I believe that the issues of abortion and marriage are important and that the Church in America can and should stand up for these things, but I do not believe electing McCain or anyone else would have fixed things. The people rule America, and so we must convince the majority. Once the majority is convinced, then the government will listen and take action, but not until then. You can be sure of this.

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2009 in Sanctification

 

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Making a Difference

FreeGreatPicture.com-17258-starfish-on-the-beachNow somewhere along the coast there was a great storm, and the storm was very violent with exceedingly high waves. The waves caught up with them the starfish that feed on the ocean bottom and all night heaped them upon the beach, where they were sure to die the next day.

The following morning a certain man was walking along the beach, and saw that a great multitude of starfish had been exiled there. The dying starfish were all along the beach to the north and to the south, as far as one could see. Their number was so great the sand of the beach could scarcely be seen.

As he walked, he saw a young boy who was also walking across the beach. The boy was carefully picking up the starfish and throwing them back into the life-giving ocean one by one. The man marveled at this.

“Boy, what are you doing?” said the man.

“I am saving the starfish.” said the boy with enthusiasm.

“Boy, do you not see the great number of starfish? Even if you worked all day and night, you would not make a difference.” said the man.

The boy stooped down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean.

“I made a difference for that one.” he said quietly.

 
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Posted by on February 11, 2008 in Sanctification

 

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