Morning Mashup 09/29

Morning Mashup

A daily mashup of book recommendations, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Prophet, Priest, and King: The Roles of Christ in the Bible and Our Roles Today | Robert Belcher | $14.62


Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family | Paul Tripp | $16.30



9 Debatable Thoughts About Contemporary Evangelism | Chuck Lawless

Anyone interested in reaching people for Jesus has to face the reality that culture is changing dramatically – and we have to respond by considering our methods and approaches to evangelism. I understand that reality, but some of the current thoughts about evangelism are worthy of debate. Let me know your thoughts about these positions…

4 Ways to Discuss the 2016 Election with Your Kids | Russell Moore

For families with children, this election year brings unique challenges, since the campaign often feels like a reality show. How do we talk to our kids about what they are seeing and hearing all around them? Here are a few things we do…

The Supreme Court and the Convoluted Case for Trump | Thomas Kidd

The question for white evangelicals, then, is whether we are willing to get behind a non-conservative candidate like Trump, who is so boorish, divisive, and uninformed, because he might appoint judges who can get confirmed and then actually turn out to be good judges? That’s a lot to ask, and a lot of “ifs.” I remain convinced that no major party has offered us a candidate worthy of evangelicals’ support in 2016.

The Price of Trying to Be God | Timothy Paul Jones

To sin is to use a gift that God wove into his creation to point to his glory in a way that the Creator never intended. That’s how God’s good gift of relaxation degenerates into vacations that end in frustration because they fall short of our self-centered expectations.

Singing Man: The Story Behind the Viral Video | Russ Ramsey

The story behind the moving video of students singing to their dying teacher. You’ll find the video in the “Videos” section below.

Crossway Statement on the ESV Bible Text | Lane Dennis

I was a little shocked by Crossway’s recent decision to release a final, unchanging edition of the ESV text. According to this new statement from CEO Lane Dennis, “We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake.”

5 Benefits of Regular Family Worship | Tom Ascol

Regular family worship is valuable and brings many blessings to parents and children alike. Here are five benefits that I have observed.

Pastors Are Not Quitting in Droves | Mark Dance

Each time a pastor prematurely exits the ministry race, I grieve. I also grieve each time I hear the awful pastor retention stats which are unsubstantiated and sometimes exaggerated.



Morning Mashup 07/13


A daily mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


Speaking Truth in Love: Counsel in Community | David Powlison | $3.99

Speaking Truth in Love Book

Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest | Ed Welch | $2.99

Running Scared Book


Which Way Forward? | New Orleans Baptist Association

I usually cringe to read anything theological coming out of Louisiana. But these men have seen, acknowledged, and responded strongly to the divisive attitudes among certain Southern Baptists in their state. I was beyond thankful to read this.

There is No Pro-Life Case for Donald Trump | Jake Meador

“If pro-lifers really believe that the Republican party is the only vehicle that they have in American political life to reach their ends — which is what the “Dumb and Dumber” argument rests upon — then they should absolutely refuse to support this candidate on the grounds that abstention is the only way of keeping the value of their vote up in every subsequent election.”

5 Principles for Studying the Trinity | Gavin Ortlund

“Rather than wade into the contested areas, I thought it might be helpful to offer a broader, more constructive post for those of us (like myself) who, particularly in light of the controversy, see our need to keep “beefing up” our understanding of the Trinity. So here are 5 basic principles that I have reflected on in my own study of the Trinity that may be helpful for others.”

Stop Assuming Your Neighbors Are Hostile to Your Faith | Trevin Wax

“We need to do away with that old saying that Americans don’t discuss politics and religion in polite company. The research shows that most of your friends and family who don’t attend church are either (1) willing to listen to you talk about your faith or (2) will engage you in conversation.”

The Three Verses that Kept Spurgeon from Quitting the Ministry | Cripplegate

“Because Spurgeon was so distraught over the events that occurred, he was unwilling to preach the next Sunday, he even thought about quitting the ministry altogether. And it wasn’t until the Sunday after that that he was willing to return to the pulpit. Here were his first words as he got up to preach that morning.”

Preacher Wanders Away from Pulpit to Catch Pokemon | The Babylon Bee


“According to sources within Second Baptist Church of Cleveland, Teaching Pastor John Walton abandoned his key sermon point and wandered away from the pulpit in order to catch a Pokémon for his Pokémon GO collection Sunday morning.”

On Leaving CBMW | Owen Strachan

Owen Strachan announces and explains his resignation as president of The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood.

In Praise of Tim Duncan and Boring Plodders | Stephen Altrogge

An interesting connection between Tim Duncan’s boring career and the Christian life.


Pop Says Goodbye to Tim Duncan | ESPN


Dallas Police Chief David Brown Press Conference | USA Today

Morning Mashup 06/08



A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


C.S. Lewis’s Remarkable (and Surprising) Sermon | Justin Taylor

Seventy-five years ago tomorrow C.S. Lewis ascended the pulpit at the University Church of St Mary the Virgin in Oxford and delivered “The Weight of Glory,” one of the most insightful sermons of the twentieth century.

6 Ways to Influence a Culture of Evangelism | Taylor Turkington

We must depend on Jesus for help to lead well, but we must also be intentional. So how do we lead well in evangelism? The tone we set in our community changes the way those around us see the value of proclaiming the gospel. Here are six ideas to consider as others watch you.

On Abortion and Racism: Why There is a Greater Evil in this Election | Thabiti Anyabwile

It’s been more difficult to be an African-American and an “Evangelical” or “Reformed” these last few years. It was never an easily negotiated identity or space. But a certain quietude about matters of “race” and racism made it possible to enjoy a measure of unity in theological matters and some seeming trust as spiritual family. A degree of political affinity, defined largely by the obvious wrongs we opposed, created a co-belligerence that kept our eyes off our differing political needs and emphases along ethnic lines. Suspicion and mistrust were kept at bay by a tacit sense that some things were more important.

Can You Name All Ten Commandments? If Not, This (and 18 Other Questions) Could Get You Deported | Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra

These questions, among the nearly 20 questions in CT’s quiz below, have been asked of Christian converts from Islam who are applying for asylum in the United Kingdom. Wrong answers put them at a high risk of deportation.

6 Theses on Online Writing and Civility | Jake Meador

Put another way, the problem with internet writing isn’t just the particular internet tools we use; it’s also with the people using the tools. And those same people who make such a mess on blogs or public social media channels are the ones populating our private forms of online media. So even if we no longer have to deal with particularly destructive tools, we still must deal with the destructive sins we ourselves commit every day. A shift toward more private media, then, may help reduce the impact of certain problems created in part by bad technology, but it cannot solve the problem entirely.

Four Ways for Fathers to Engage at Home | Jeremy Adelman

Admittedly, it is often difficult to remain engaged at home. After a long day, it is easy to detach from our family and enter the worlds of media, technology, and sports. Our minds are occupied with the work we left behind or looking forward to the sleep that is to come, but God calls us to more as husbands and fathers.Here are four ways, among many, that men can be more engaged at home.

Fahrenheit 381 | Carl Trueman

Trueman and others at Mortification of Spin have called complementarian leaders (CBMW & TGC) to the carpet on serious charges of Trinitarian heresy. I’ll be following this exchange closely.


Morning Mashup 06/01


A mashup of Kindle deals, articles, and videos for your information, edification, and enjoyment.


God Took Me by the Hand: A Story of God’s Unusual Providence | Jerry Bridges | $1.99

God Took Me by the Hand


10 Ways to Grow Your Marriage While Having Young Kids | Gavin Ortlund

“After my walk with Christ, nothing should take a higher priority in my life than cultivating intimacy and friendship with my wife—not even being a dad. In fact, I know I can’t be the dad God calls me to be unless my marriage is strong. Here are some strategies we’ve reflected on that might be helpful to other young parents in a similar season of life.”

4 Things I Learned About Work from a Peewee Soccer Team | Barnabas Piper

“Over the course of the season, though, I began to notice a few things that consistently occurred that turned the outcome of every game. Each of them is directly applicable to your work and mine.”

Seven Ways to Improve Your Preaching | Kevin DeYoung

“Below are seven practical ways we can improve our preaching. And please note: I deliberately use the words “we” and “our,” because I’m thinking of my sermons as much as anyone’s. These suggestions are things I continue to work on as a preacher, sometimes with success and often with less progress than I would like.”

The Unbusy Pastor | Eugene Peterson

“The word busy is a symptom not of commitment but of betrayal.”

What If Your Kids’ Sports Teams Interfere With the Church Schedule? | Interview with David Prince

Russell Moore: “In this episode of Signposts I talk with my friend, pastor David Prince, about what Christian families can do to maintain healthy priorities when it comes to church and sports.”

What Does it Mean to Take the Lord’s Name in Vain? | Iain Campbell

“By naming Himself, God not only discloses who He is, but He does so in such a way that we might know Him personally. To live by the terms of the third commandment is to recognize and confess that God deserves the highest honor; that He has singled us out by putting His name on us; that we would be entirely lost were it not that for the sake of His name He keeps and protects us; and that He calls us to live after the example of Jesus, glorifying God on earth. We are the bearers of the name of God; may all our conduct show it.”

Know When to Walk Away | Tony Reinke

“How do we push back against the urge to tap the social media icon on our phones and jump into the slot machine of digital randomness, all served up fresh and sugary, moment by moment, to the eyes? Here are twelve steps.”


Dads Should Be Exhausted | Matt Chandler (HT: Communicate Jesus)

If God is Sovereign, Why Evangelize?





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According to the Reformed understanding of salvation, God is totally sovereign in his grace bestowed to sinners. “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…And those whom he predestined, he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29-30). “In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:4b-6). It is by God’s grace alone that sinners are saved through Christ. And it is according to the infinite wisdom of God that anyone is saved.

Because of God’s sovereign grace in electing some sinners to salvation, while leaving other sinners in their sin, salvation “depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy” (Rom. 9:16). In the words of theologian Bruce Demarest,

“On this showing, God gives to some more than they deserve, but no one gets less than they deserve. Why God chose to bless some sinners and willed to leave others in their sins has not been revealed. Yet God’s elective purpose richly displays his mercy and justice” (The Cross and Salvation, Loc. 2297).

If a Christian believes that God saves in this manner—electing some to salvation from eternity past (Eph. 1:5)—should he or she evangelize? Is it not illogical to proclaim the gospel if God has elected all those whom he will save? Its not like we can thwart the purposes of a sovereign God. So, why do evangelism? On the surface this is a valid question. It seems logical. Those who believe that God is utterly sovereign over all things certainly should just sit back and allow God to save whom he will save without moving a finger, right?

If you are in the camp of accusers or the camp of the accused with regard to this question, it is important to have a biblically grounded and theologically sound answer. In order to answer this question, let’s first look at the biblical meaning of both the sovereignty of God and evangelism.

The Sovereignty of God

God’s sovereignty is not something any Christian would deny, and it is most certainly not something any Christian would truly want to deny. This can be seen in the fact that all Christians pray. If you pray, you are practically recognizing the sovereignty of God. You thank him for good gifts and graces given to you, for you know that they come from God. You ask him for things and to work in a certain situation because you know only he can fulfill what you ask (Matt. 7:7-11). This is evidence that you recognize God’s sovereignty over your life.

Indeed, there is tremendous comfort in knowing that our God who is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love is the almighty Sovereign over our lives. We all also acknowledge God’s sovereignty in salvation. This is why we pray for God to save our loved ones. God’s sovereignty is summed up quite nicely in Psalm 115:3, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” And also with regard to God’s sovereignty in salvation, Jonah 2:9 succinctly defines the term for us: “Salvation belongs to the LORD!”

It is his! He is the one responsible for your salvation. If you have repented of your sin and trusted Christ (conversion), why have you done such a thing? Was it due to your own goodness? Of course not! Was it due to your own wisdom that you chose to trust Christ for your salvation? No! Your conversion is solely due to the goodness of God’s grace to lead your heart to crave him. It is God who saves and he does so solely by his sovereign grace. This is why we pray for God to save our loved ones, because we believe it is he that brings it to pass. This is the sovereignty of God in salvation.


Simply stated, evangelism is the delightful duty of every Christian to proclaim the gospel to our fellow man from every tongue and tribe. Taking the message of Jesus’ substitutionary atonement to the lost whom he came to save (Luke 19:10) is the mandate of the church (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Even more than a message, it is a call—a call to repentance and faith in Christ. Theologians call it the “Gospel call.” Christians call sinners to Christ through the proclamation of the gospel. J.I. Packer writes, “The Christian is sent into the world as God’s herald and Christ’s ambassador, to broadcast this message as widely as he can” (Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, 91). This is evangelism.

The question now becomes, how can the latter be practically done with confidence in the former. How can I practically evangelize and believe in the sovereignty of God in salvation? I believe there are four reasons for doing evangelism in light of God’s sovereignty.

1. The Bible commands us to evangelize. We are commanded as Christians to proclaim the gospel message of God’s salvation of sinners through Jesus to all men to the ends of the earth (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; cf. Matt. 24:14). We see pictures of evangelism throughout the book of Acts in the early church and most notably in the apostle Paul. He took the message of Christ as Savior (1 Tim. 2:15) and Christ as substitutionary sacrifice (Gal. 3:13; Rom. 3:26) to all men. So, in light of God’s sovereignty over salvation, this does not nullify the biblical command to evangelize.


2. God uses means to save sinners. God does nothing haphazardly. He is very purposeful in all that does, which is a testament to his infinite wisdom. God saves sinners through the work of his Son on their behalf. Sinners receive this salvation by God’s grace through hearing and responding to the call of the gospel. God saves through the gospel, which is why Christians should strive to live gospel-centered lives. God is sovereign to save sinners, but he does so through the means of the gospel. So, in light of God’s sovereignty, we should evangelize because God uses the gospel to redeem fallen man. “[I]f you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved…So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:9, 17).


3. There are sheep that are not of this fold. God’s people are likened to a flock. God through Christ is the shepherd. In John 10, we are given a picture of gathered sheep and sheep that have yet to be gathered. It is for this reason that we evangelize. Though it is God who draws these sheep to himself, there are those sheep who are not of the ingathered fold (John 10:16). The purpose of evangelism is to draw the sheep into the fold by God’s grace in the call of the gospel to repent and trust Christ. God is sovereign in choosing his sheep and drawing them, but we are to go, for we do not know who will hear the shepherd’s voice and heed his call (John 10:16, 27). Only the sheep will repent and believe in Jesus for salvation, but it is through evangelism that they are gathered.


4. God’s sovereignty in salvation gives us hope in evangelism. Truly our only hope in calling rebels to trust in the one whom they willfully disobey is in God’s sovereignty and power to save them. If I bring someone drowning in a pool a message of salvation without a lifeguard who is able to save him or her, my message contains no hope. Evangelism is grounded in God’s sovereign grace to save sinners. We can gladly and confidently proclaim the gospel knowing that his sheep will hear his voice and respond in faith.


Salvation belongs to the Lord (Jon. 2:9)! Our God is in the heavens and he does all that he pleases (Ps. 115:3). It pleases the Lord to shower unworthy sinners with his grace (Eph. 1:3-6). Because of these realities, we must fearlessly evangelize. I encourage you to share Christ with your neighbors, family, and coworkers today and everyday with the confidence that it is God who saves and it is under his sovereignty that all whom he seeks, he finds.

Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.

Morning Mashup 09/14

Don’t Let the Media Control Your Experience of Election 2016 – Trevin Wax: “When Christians fall captive to clickbait and jump from candidate to candidate depending on the polls, we abandon our responsibility as thoughtful and convictional people.”

5 Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Dating Relationship – Tim Challies: “Dating has become the most difficult thing in the world, probably because they’ve got a million books and web pages telling them how. They can’t just do it—they’ve got to do it by the book. And along the way they are ruining their dating relationships.”

Greetings from Heaven – A very helpful infographic detailing the recent phenomena of near-death experiences.

5 Ways to Talk to Your Children about Death – As a children’s pastor, I’m always looking for helpful advice in speaking to children about difficult issues. This is great.

On the Viral Rise of Divorce Selfies – Tragic.

Planned Failure – Jim DeMint: “The fight to end taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood will be just that: a fight. And like all the struggles to return sanity and respect for human life and decency to our government, it will be a tough one.  But conservatives should fight to win, not plan to fail.”

Keeping the Spotlight on Planned Parenthood – Stephen Heaney: “Do not be distracted by misdirection. Do not let the horror of abortion be the main issue. Stick to the pertinent facts: Planned Parenthood is profiting from the sale of fetal parts. Planned Parenthood is routinely violating federal law. Planned Parenthood does not care about women.”

A Calvinist Evangelist? – Keith Mathison: “The fact of the matter is that Calvinism is not inconsistent with evangelism; it is only inconsistent with certain evangelistic methods.”

Djokovic Clinches 2nd US Open Title – This was a great match for a couple sets. Federer lost momentum. A thing you just can’t lose against Djokovic.

NFL Scores (Week 1) – Scores from Week 1 NFL action.

Before the throne absolved we stand / Your love has met your law’s demands –Edith Margaret Clarkson

3 Things that Impact Personal Evangelism

86500320Personal evangelism is probably one of the most ignored spiritual disciplines in the life of a Christian. There are many Christians who are faithful in attending worship services and Sunday School classes. There are many Christians who are faithful and active in serving in various ministries in the local church. There are many Christians who diligently study the Bible and even have a disciplined prayer life. However, many of these same Christians who are faithful in nearly all areas of the church fail to share the gospel in their day-to-day lives. In fact, many churches do not practically emphasize personal evangelism. The most that many churches do in this realm is command believers to share the gospel without tangibly equipping them to do so.
So, a combination of neglect from both individual Christians and churches has led to scarce practice of personal evangelism. This is not only true for distant Christians and churches, but for myself as well. I have been guilty of neglecting personal evangelism while hiding under the excuse of busyness or the guise of being the one who prepares others to evangelize while I sit back and watch. Over time, I have learned many things about personal evangelism, how to implement it in my daily life, and how to encourage those in my local church to actively evangelize on a daily basis. There are three things that have especially impacted my own evangelistic efforts: (1) setting the stage for evangelism, (2) the life of Jesus, and (3) the use of personal testimonies.

1. Setting the Stage for Evangelism

In order for evangelism to be effective, there is some necessary groundwork that needs to be laid. It is tempting to think that evangelism is simply telling the message of the cross with everyone we come in contact with. In fact, I know a guy that used to hang out at the local movie theatre walking around telling people about Jesus. However, his work has proved very ineffective. He has turned more people off from Jesus than lead them to him.

I think the reason for this is that he has not considered the state of a lost person and how to interact with those who are lost. There are many things to consider before evangelizing someone. Firstly, it is important to have a biblical understanding of what a lost person really is. This should create a proper sense of urgency in evangelism. Lost people are under the wrath of God. Lost people are dead in their sins. Lost people are far from God and the things of God. Lost people do not hate sin. All of these things must be on our minds as evangelists.

Another important preliminary issue before evangelism can effectively take place is for the message of the gospel to be clearly grasped by evangelists. We cannot presume to think we can be effective in sharing the gospel if we are not clear on what the gospel actually is! This means that in order to share the gospel effectively, it is important that we know our Bibles well. It is important to meditate often on the gospel and it is all but vital to be able to clearly articulate the basic message of the gospel before personal evangelism can happen. Nothing can turn a lost person away faster than communicating a message that you are not sure about. Most people can tell when you have no clue what you are talking about.

A final preliminary issue to set the stage for effective evangelism is to know where lost people are coming from. What is their story? This point is simple, yet profound. Evangelism has the potential to be ineffective when we ignore the background of the people we are talking to. If we do not show interest in a person, he or she will not be as willing to listen to us. This should cause us to evaluate our own hearts. Do we really care about lost people as individuals or do we care most about boasting in a large number of baptisms? As you prepare to evangelize, consider these preliminary issues.

2. The Life of Jesus

The way Jesus dealt with people teaches us a great deal about personal evangelism. Looking at the life of Jesus shows how people typically respond to evangelism and how people view things like righteousness and Jesus himself. An invaluable point to remember with regard to evangelism and discipleship is the fact that Jesus never argued with those he confronted with the truth of Scripture. It is highly possible that when you share the message of the gospel, which denounces a person’s sinful lifestyle and is “foolishness” to the world, you will be faced with opposition and argumentation. This is especially true with regard to those who have deep religious traditions and a false understanding of righteousness.

The life of Jesus also teaches the importance of everyday situations. Jesus took advantage of everyday situations to interact with people and witness to them. As witnesses of Christ, we to should take advantage of normal and seemingly insignificant settings. Evangelism doesn’t solely take place in evangelistic events, church events, or special programs. Evangelism is to be a way of life for the Christian. The Christian should always seek opportunities to share the gospel. As you prepare to evangelize, consider the life of Jesus.

3. Personal Testimonies

Finally, understanding evangelism and improving evangelistic techniques also depends on making effective use of personal testimonies. In the past I have shied away from personal testimonies because I have feared they have the potential to stray too far from the gospel message. Sharing the gospel becomes a variety hour of my life. However, personal testimonies flooded with the gospel have true and genuine impact on those without Christ. Sharing our stories can even be influential in leading people to trust Christ. Seeing the power of the gospel in someone’s life can be just what someone needs to believe the message itself. Personal testimonies do not save, but when rightly crafted, they can be used as helpful supplements to accent the gospel, which is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16). As you prepare to evangelize, consider your own personal testimony.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

The Uncomfortableness of Bringing Bad News

sweep-under-rugGood news carries little significance unless it is on the heals of bad news.
My wife and I have a few TV shows that we watch regularly (other than sports, which I watch and she sleeps to). We love Criminal Minds, which we look forward to every Wednesday night. But we also love to watch reruns of The King of Queens, because, well, Kevin James. The dude is just too funny. The more of the sitcom that you watch, the more you learn about Kevin James’ character, Doug Heffernan, and his family. One thing that you begin to realize over time is that Doug and his parents cannot handle bad news.

In one particular episode, Doug and his wife, Carrie, visit Doug’s parents in Florida. While there, the couple is greeted by a lively and beloved family dog, Rocky. The mini family reunion is going well until they all begin watching home videos from when Doug was a kid and you start to realize that the old family dog is, well, just a little too old. In the video, the family is celebrating the Bicentennial with a backyard barbecue featuring, you guessed it, Doug and Rocky. The problem is that if the dog in the video was the same as the dog in Doug’s lap, the dog would be over thirty years old!

Evidently, Rocky had died, but not only that, his replacement dog had died two times over! The Rocky he was playing with in Florida was the third replacement of the original Rocky! Carrie learns very quickly that the Heffernans hide bad news in order to avoid awkward conversations and keep from upsetting anyone. They sweep everything under the rug, or in this case, bury everything in the backyard!

It is tempting for Christians to take this same sweep-under-the-rug mentality when it comes to sin. Evangelism is hard because it involves telling someone that he or she is a sinner. This is why evangelism is often defined as a “conversation between two nervous people.” The awkwardness involved in sharing the gospel is so thick you could cut it. I have at times felt so awkward while sharing the gospel that I could barely stand up after the conversation was over. It felt more like torture than the positive spin we often try to put on evangelism.

If I can be honest for a minute, I must admit that telling someone that without Jesus they will remain forever lost in their sin is not as appealing as, say, talking about how dominant UK’s defense is. I honestly don’t wake up saying, “Yes, a new day to go tell some friends and strangers that their throats are an open grave and the venom of asps is on their lips (Rom. 3:13). But oh how necessary is this to realize before the gospel can be cherished!

Evangelism is the daily outworking of grace in a child of God to share grace with an enemy of God. It occurs in daily life. From the body shop to the beauty shop, the glory of God’s grace in the gospel extends to sinners. But as glorious as this is, the message of the gospel never reaches the ears of the mechanic or the hair stylist because of a desperate fear of bringing bad news.

Like the Heffernan family, bringing bad news is so uncomfortable that we would much prefer to sweep it under the rug and just focus on positive things. In fact, we are so allergic to bringing bad news that we try to find creative ways to share the gospel without even one mention of sin. We will talk about how God loved us all so much that he sent his Son to die for us. However, if we forget to mention the purpose in this sacrificial love and death, we miss the point of the gospel. If you leave sin out of the equation, you must leave the cross out as well.

The gospel cannot be received as good news until it is preceded by the bad news. Only when we see how dreadful our condition in sin is will we desire a Savior. So, in one way if your experience with evangelism has led to some awkward conversations, you should be encouraged. More than likely, you brought up the reality of sin. The gospel makes no sense without lovingly and winsomely confronting people with the truth that they are sinners in need of a Savior.

Don’t take a sweep-under-the-rug approach to sin. Bringing bad news is incredibly uncomfortable, but it is eternally significant. What does it profit a man to see his friend lose his soul because he gained comfort by not talking about sin? Like a raving maniac waving his arms, running, and yelling to warn drivers of the turned-over semi around a curve, we must willingly risk looking or sounding awkward for the sake of the salvation of lives. The message of the gospel is important enough to sacrifice your sense of comfort. Be awkward for the sake of Christ. Bring bad news to your lost friends because you know how indescribably good the Good News really is.

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Why Should We Go and Tell?: Motivation for Discipleship and Evangelism

discipleship-copyIt has been the experience of many pastors and churches that it can be quite difficult to motivate genuine and passionate discipleship and evangelism. Discipleship and evangelism are two aspects of a church’s ministry that remain stagnant more often than any other areas.
Do you need people to serve in outreach ministries like food drives or seasonal activities? No problem. Do you need people to invite others to church on Facebook? Cake. However, what if you are looking for people to intentionally disciple one another in a more significant way than the typical discussion-facilitated Sunday School setting? What if you are looking for people to not only invite their friends to church (which should be encouraged and done), but to actively pursue gospel conversations with their lost friends? What motivation is there for risk-taking discipleship and evangelism that accurately expresses a heart that adores Jesus?

I believe we can look no further than the words that came from the mouth of Jesus himself to find satisfactory motivation that can fuel passionate discipleship and evangelism.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20, ESV).

The context of this passage falls directly after the resurrection of Christ. Evangelism, baptism, and all discipleship flow from the gospel. Jesus has already suffered the anguish of the cross. He has already bore the wrath of God. He has already taken on sin, so that by faith we might become the righteousness of God. He has already stood in our place as our sin-bearing, wrath-bearing substitute, as he became our Savior-King. And now he commissions his disciples.

But before he commands anything, he roots his commands in a glorious and powerful statement: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (v. 18). Authority here means the power and the right to do something. Basically, Jesus is saying that there is nothing in heaven and nothing in earth that can frustrate his will. He has the power and the right to do as he pleases and to command as he pleases. The psalmist definitely alluded to Jesus’ proclamation when he exclaimed, “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases” (Ps. 115:3).

“Therefore, Go!”

It is on this declaration that the following command stands. Anything that Jesus commands must be taken seriously and observed because all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to him. This is why he follows this declaration with the word “therefore.” “Go therefore and make disciples…” In other words, because Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth, we are commanded to make disciples. Because Jesus is Lord over every man by his death and resurrection, we proclaim his gospel to all men. But we share the gospel, not merely because Jesus said to do it. We share the gospel because it is the only thing that makes sense.

Pastor David Platt once said, “Jesus’ authority compels us to go, for missions only makes sense if He has all authority in heaven and on earth.” The message we bring in the gospel is incredibly controversial. It confronts people in their sin and it is appalling to the human heart born in sin (Ps. 51:5). Calling people to turn from their sin only makes sense if the Jesus we call them to turn to is the Lord of every man. Since Jesus has universal authority, it would be incredibly unloving for us to keep the good news of salvation to ourselves. Why do we go and make disciples? Because Jesus is Lord!

Is this not tremendous news for us today? The mission that the church seeks to carry out in making disciples from East Bernstadt to West Africa and beyond is rooted in the truth that Jesus is Lord of heaven and earth—all authority has been given to him. It is by that declaration that we call those outside of Christ to totally renounce themselves, flee their sin, trust in Christ, and live for him. It is by that authority that we call sinners to abandon their delight in sin and take up delight in God. Gospel proclamation finds confidence in the universal authority and lordship of Jesus.

“Of All Nations”

This declaration of Jesus’ absolute authority goes even further for our disciple-making. Because Jesus has authority in heaven and on earth, we are commanded to make disciples not only in our community, but in all nations. We are called to fill the earth with the glory of the Lord by proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth, because Jesus has all authority!

There is no nation or people group or person beyond the reach of Christ’s authority. And so there is no nation or people group or person beyond the reach of the disciple-making mission of the church. We must proclaim the gospel to all men with the absolute confidence that some will believe. In John 10:16, Jesus assures our missionary efforts: “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.”

Time to Work

Why should you engage your neighbor with conversations that lead to the gospel? Why should you give to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering? Why should you seek out a teen to mentor? Why should you actively and frequently have Bible studies with that new believer you know? Why should you face the probability of some awkward conversations or even awkward silences? Why should you risk comfort, reputation, time, and money for the sake of the cross?

Because Jesus is Lord. He is reigning. He is returning. He is with you. It’s high time we realize this and get to work!

396110_519885398036913_1852978654_nMathew Gilbert is a student at Boyce College (B.A. Biblical and Theological Studies). He is the author of the forthcoming book Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (CrossBooks). Mathew lives in London, KY with his wife, Erica, and their dog, Simba. You can follow him on Twitter @Mat_Gilbert.

Throwback Thursday: John Harper and His Passion for Evangelism

John Harper was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1872. He was raised in a Christian home, and at the age of 14, he became a Christian himself. From that day on, he began to tell others about Christ. In September of 1896, Harper started his own church. He pastored that church for 13 years and in that time it grew from 25 to 500 members. But also during this time, he was married and widowed. Before she died, his wife gave birth to a girl that they named Nana.
While pastoring a church in London, Harper continued to diligently and zealously evangelize. Moody Church in Chicago recognized Harper’s overwhelming passion for evangelism, and asked him to come to America for a series of talks. Those meetings produced much fruit and a few years later, they asked him to come back again. Harper boarded a ship at Southampton, England, for the trip to America with his daughter Nana. The ship John Harper and his daughter were on was called the Titanic. 

Harper felt the ship hit the iceberg around midnight, and as a precaution, he put his daughter in a lifeboat with her cousin. Harper then waited for a lifeboat with the other men on board after the women and children were all loaded. However, like most men on the Titanic, John Harper found himself without a lifeboat and fighting for his life in the frigid waters of the Atlantic.  How did John Harper spend his dying breaths? The answer was given at a prayer meeting that was held in Hamilton, Ontario months after Titanic’s demise. A young Scotsman stood up in tears and told of the story of how he was converted. He explained that he had been on the Titanic the night it hit the iceberg. He had been clinging to a piece of floating debris. “Suddenly,” he said, “a wave brought a man near. The man was none other than the well-known evangelist, John Harper. He, too, was holding a piece of wreckage.”

“He called out, ‘Man, are you saved?'”

“No, I am not,” I replied.

“He shouted back, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.'”

“The waves took the Harper away, but a little later, he was washed back beside me again.”

“Are you saved now?” he called out.

“No,” I answered. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.”

“Then, losing his hold on the wood, the Harper sank. And there alone in the night with two miles of water under me I trusted in Christ as my savior. I am John Harper’s last convert.”

This is an amazing story in the midst of a horrific tragedy. It is testament to both the immeasurable grace of God, and a picture of a faithful evangelist. John Harper was faithful to the gospel until his death. Harper desired to use his dying breath to call sinners to Jesus. Now he is with Christ in heaven! Today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives, may we not be cowards for the gospel. But may we have a passion for evangelism like Harper that consumes our every thought and deed in times of prosperity and in times of turmoil and tragedy. May we be like John Harper. May we give every ounce and strength of our being to the Kingdom of Christ. For it is not our will, but His will be done.

We only get one life, and it will soon pass. Only what is done for Christ will last.

*Story of John Harper taken from the book The Gospel & Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever

1557562_10153227664651515_1796309980_nEvan Knies is an undergraduate student at Boyce College where he studies Biblical and Theological Studies. He lives in Louisville, KY with his wife, Lauren. You can follow him on Twitter @Evan_Knies.