Archive for February, 2014

Many times while sharing the gospel, we quote Bible verses in order to back up the things that we are saying. However, sometimes when we are talking to people they will make the comment that they don’t believe in the Bible; meaning that the Bible has no real authority in their minds because they do not see it as the true word of God. This idea may stem from many different roots, whether that is from the fact that they don’t believe in God to begin with, they believe in another book as the true word of God, they think the Bible is full of contradictions, or they see the Bible as just another book written by a bunch of imperfect humans. Depending on the root of their skepticism towards the Bible, determines what tern the conversation should take. In today’s blog, I would like to focus on someone who skepticism is rooted in the Bible itself.

Last semester, I wrote a blog on the Biblical Skeptic, which discussed how we know that the Bible is inspired by God. If a book had specific, detailed statements about the future that came to pass 100% of the time, then we would know that the book is from God. Man cannot tell the future, but God can. No prophecy in the Bible has proved to be false; they have all come true or are prophecies about the end times, which clearly have not happened yet. We then looked at specific prophecies in the Bible that had been fulfilled. If you would like to read more about this, you can find the blog in the October Archive.

Once you have discussed prophecy with someone there may be more questions that someone may want you to answer. For instance they may say “how do you know the disciples didn’t just add in the prophecies in after Jesus lived so that it looked like he fulfilled prophecies?” or maybe they object saying that the Bible has been changed over time. If only we had manuscripts from before Christ that are the same as what we have in our Bibles. Well, we do! In 1946 through 1956, many different manuscripts were found in caves right off the shore of the Dead Sea at Khirbet Qumran. These scrolls were written down by a Jewish community that hid the writing they had because they knew that the Romans were coming towards then and would most likely destroy them and everything they had.  They hid these scrolls in caves and fled the area, which were found about 2000 years later by shepherds. These findings are what are known today as the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls included many different writings including many manuscripts from the Old Testament, which were dated from 408 BC to 318 AD. In fact, parts of every Old Testament books were found except the book of Ester.  In particular, there was a scroll of Isaiah that was found that was dated at 125 BC. When compared to what is in Isaiah of the modern Bible, they were almost exactly the same. The Dead Sea Scrolls is one of the best discoveries with regard to the preservation of the Old Testament.

What about the New Testament, was it changed throughout 2000 years? The New Testament is comprised of books and letters written by many people over time, which were written down and then passed on to once again be copied. 5,700 of these handwritten Greek manuscripts and 9,000 manuscripts written in other languages of the New Testament have been found. When looking at ancient works, there is nothing that even comes close to the numerous manuscripts that we have for the New Testament. The closest work is the Iliad by Homer, which has 643 manuscripts. Also, the New Testament manuscripts date back to 25 years after the originals were written compared to the Iliad which was a 500 year gap between the original and the first surviving copies. When looking at these manuscripts compared to one another and compared to what we have now, it is once again incredibly accurate.  So when we read the Bible or quote Bible verses to others we know with confidence that it is is the true unaltered word of God.

P.S. If you would like to get the Evangablog emailed directly to your email, click the follow button on the bottom right of the page.

Also, Go and Tell is this Friday at 3:30, we are meeting on the 3rd floor of Russell House. Hope to see you there!

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To continue the series of how to answer questions that people have while having a spiritual conversation, let’s take a look at the most basic, fundamental one: “what does it take to be saved?”  Obviously when we share the gospel with people, having a correct answer to this question is very important, but it is also crucial to be familiar with the common responses that people have in order to be able to show the fault in their thinking and point them towards the truth. Much of the populace is misinformed when it comes to what actually saves them.

Many people misconstrue that you just have to ask for forgiveness for your sins, and if you say sorry enough then He’ll forgive you and you’ll be set.  Most of the time these people are familiar with 1 John 1:9, which says “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  This is true, however they miss verses 7 and 8 altogether, which talk about how the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from our sin.  Confessing our sins and repenting are proper responses to the salvation that has been offered to us, but the salvation itself comes through our trust in Jesus’ death on the cross, his burial, and his resurrection. This trust applies Jesus’ sacrifice to our own sin, taking our punishment and deeming us righteous.

Repentance is a crucial part of salvation, but what is repentance?  The Greek word for it used in the New Testament is “metanoia” which means a change of mind.  This implies that repentance is more than just the act of asking for forgiveness, but it is a heart change that should lead to a true life change as well.  Paul gives us a picture of the difference between these two types of sorrow and the significant difference in the results in II Corinthians 7:10, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”  Godly sorrow results in life change, which leads to salvation, but the “I’m sorry I got caught” sorrow leads to death.  I would greatly encourage all of you to memorize this verse, as it is a great verse to have when sharing the gospel.

Living here in the middle of the “Bible-belt” the majority of the people we come in contact with have heard of the verse John 3:16, whether it was from their parents, church commercials, or Tim Tebow’s eye black, which says “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Don’t get me wrong this is an amazing verse, but taken at face value, it can easily be, and is often misinterpreted.

Many people see this verse and presume that it means if I “believe” in Jesus the same way I “believe” that George Washington was the first president of the US then I’ve stamped my ticket to heaven.  This kind of belief has no effect on the person’s life and is sadly very popular in today’s culture, even within the church.  James 2:19 says that even the demons believe in Jesus and shudder, and they sure as heck aren’t saved.  Jesus gave a picture of what he meant by the word “believe” in the verses before.  John 3:14-15 says “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness; even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”  Our belief in Jesus should look similar to that of an Israelite who was bitten by one of the sand vipers and was on the brink of death (Numbers 21:6-9).  Their entire life became about their belief that the snake on the pole would save them, and nothing would have been able to stop them from seeing it.  This is what true belief that leads to salvation is.  It is not simply having head knowledge about a cool story; it is a deep trust that results in life change and should define who we are.

I would like to encourage all of you to have a firm grasp and understanding of the gospel and allow it to define who you are.   Be refreshed by it and allow it to be what drives you to be bold for the name of Jesus.  Hopefully hearing it from someone other than Miles, Thomas, or David will provide further encouragement, but I implore you to see evangelism as a privilege rather than a burden and begin taking steps to make it a priority in your lives this week.  Love you guys and I’m excited to see what God is going to do through each of you!

As Christians, we are commanded to be “ready to make a defense to everyone who asks [us] to give an account for the hope that is in [us], yet with gentleness and reverence,” (1 Peter 3:15). I want to be clear, apologetics and answering people’s questions never saved anyone. We speak the truth and it is the work of the Holy Spirit that saves, for “no one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him” (John 6:44). With that being said, it is important to be able to give an account, answer people’s questions and point them towards Christ. Over the next few weeks, we are going to look at some questions and objections that people may bring up while sharing the gospel. If anyone has specific questions that you would like to be answered whether it be for you personally or for others, you can email them to me at reesem383@gmail.com . This week I would like to look at two questions that people ask with regard to Hell.

Hell is a topic that most people in our generation do not like. There are even preachers that are preaching that God just loves everyone and would therefore never send anyone to Hell. So in the end, no one goes to Hell and everyone ends up in Heaven. Clearly, this is not biblical, but how do we talk about these things to non-Christians who may not take the Bible as the true word of God. How can a loving God send people to Hell?

The answer to this question is wrapped up in one attribute of God: His Justice. God is the Just Judge and He must therefore punish sin. God cannot by His very nature overlook the sin that we have committed. Would it be just if I murdered someone and the judge let me go free with no punishment given? How would you feel if it was someone you knew or loved? We all have this sense of justice that tells us this would not be just. It’s the same way with God, if He is just then He must punish sin. God’s love comes into play when He came down, as Jesus, and took that punishment for us. Jesus is the only one qualified to take our punishment being eternal and perfect. We deserved the wrath of God, but Jesus took it on himself. In Christ and Christ alone, we are able to be justified and righteous before God, we can only trust in Him.

Many people may say “so you’re telling me that my cousin is going to Hell because he’s not a Christian?” Consequently, it is true that those who do not trust in Christ will spend an eternity in Hell, but it is not because they are atheist, Muslim, or Hindu and not Christians. It is because if you die apart from trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, no one has taken your punishment and you must take it yourself. Christianity is the only religion that teaches of a way to erase your sin, a way for your punishment to be taken, and a way for you to be regenerated. God must punish sin, the question is who will endure the punishment, will it be you or Jesus?

Go and Tell

Posted: February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Mark your calendars! The first “Go and Tell” of the semester is this Friday, February 7th. For those of you who do not know what “Go and Tell” is, it’s an evangelism event put on by Shandon College Ministry where we go out in pairs to share the gospel with people on USC’s campus. Just to give you all an idea of what will actually happen, we will all meet at 631 Harden at 3:30 on Friday afternoon where we will go over some simple techniques on how to share the gospel and then pray. We will then pair up and head to campus to evangelize, trying to meet back at 631 around 5:00 to share our experiences with one another.

It’s a great opportunity to come together with other believers for the unified purpose of sharing the gospel in this unique, temporary mission field that God has placed us in.  We are surrounded every day by thousands of lost college students that are searching for answers, and trying to fill the void in their life with worldly things that leave them empty.  We have the answer that many of them are searching for; all they need is for us to share it with them. It can be terrifying to go out and share the gospel, but doing it alongside someone else many times gives you the courage you need. My prayer is that as we team up to go share the gospel that we will gain the courage and passion to share the gospel with our fellow peers on a daily basis.

I encourage you all to come out on Friday. For those of you, who find yourselves to be apathetic, pray for God to change your heart to have a desire to reach the lost. If you are terrified, pray for the boldness you need to share the gospel with others. Let’s put aside any fear or inhibition and take a step of faith to see what God may do through us in the lives of the lost.

As we approach this Friday, let’s pray for one another for boldness and passion, and for the lost to have their eyes opened to the truth. Also, prepare yourself spiritually by being washed and renewed in the gospel this week, so that you will be ready to preach the news of Christ to the lost and dying world. This can look a million different ways, including listing to a gospel centered sermon, or reading through scripture, like Romans 1-8, or possibly listening to a song that stirs up your affections for God. Whatever it may be, let’s rest in the Lord and what He’s done for us this week, and I hope to see you all on Friday!