SCOTUS and the love of Jesus Christ Part 2

JW comments in the previous post:

John the Baptist was very specific in his denunciation of Herod’s sin. He was continuing in a long prophetic line before him of calling evil evil. In terms of inviting hostility from non-believers, so what? Would you have counselled John the Baptist to back off his incest claims and denounce Herod in less specific terms?

The answer is a bit more complex. If you’re called to be a prophet or a forerunner like John the Baptist or say Hosea or Jonah you may have more specific instructions about what to say or do to leaders and towns from God.

John the Baptist was called to point out Herod’s sin. Hosea was called to marry a prostitute and then preach about Israel’s adultery with Gomer as an example. Jonah was instructed by God to directly go to Ninevah and tell them to repent of their specific sins. The disciples/apostles had this same charge as well. This is basically public large crowd evangelism.

From what I can tell this is the difference between a specific gift for evangelism as a part of the body of Christ as opposed to the general command from the Scriptures to share the gospel as believers.

As I said in the previous post, if you’re sharing the gospel in private company — and the street evangelism I mentioned is generally one on one  as opposed to preaching on the streets — then it is almost always better to share the kindness and love of God as opposed to emphasizing the righteous and judgmental nature of God. Honestly, the success rates bear this out. I’ve seen more people come to Christ through the former than the latter.

We must also remember that Herod liked to listen to John, and had generally regarded him highly even though he called him out on his particular sin. It’s interesting that the Scripture talks about this because when we see Christians preaching about others sin we tend to see the label of “hate filled Christians” posted on them. Hence, John with gift for evangelism was preaching in such a way that he wasn’t regarded as a hate filled Christian except to someone who was entrenched in evil as Herodias it seems. This is important because we can see the story to say he did a specific things, but we also do not know the way in which John preached it specifically which is also important for context.

Thus, to answer the question no I would not counsel John the Baptist to back of incest claims if it’s clear that his calling is evangelism and it is to be from the greatest to the least in the country.

However, I don’t think that every Christian has gift and the calling that comes with it (as the Church is the body of Christ). As Paul states in Romans 2 talking to believers:

Romans 2:1 Therefore you have no excuse, [a]everyone of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. 2 And we know that the judgment of God [b]rightly falls upon those who practice such things. 3 But do you suppose this, O man, [c]when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?

Hence, I stand by the original conclusion as a general statement: to win people to God it’s better to take a different route by emphasizing love and kindness that has been proven to be more successful.

P.S. Like Donal life is a bit busy so I may not post much for another week or two until it clears up.

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18 Responses to SCOTUS and the love of Jesus Christ Part 2

  1. Pingback: SCOTUS and the love of Jesus Christ Part 2 |

  2. Don Quixote says:

    When John the Baptist said to Herod; “It is not lawful to have your brother’s wife”. There is more to it than incest, please consider: If the previous marriage covenant [Philip and Herodias] still existed as could only be case, then the marriage of Herod and Herodias could rightly be called adulterous. Or in other words: First it was an adulterous marriage, and consequently it was incestous. Does that make sense? How else could it be incest? And if it was incest for another reason then so was the initial marriage with Philip. Herod and Philip being brothers.

    I know, I know the use of the term ‘Lawful’ means it was ok for a woman who had received a certificate of divorce could go and be another man’s wife, but if we are to make sense of John’s statement we must consider all factors.

  3. @ Don Quixote

    Agreed. I’m speaking generally from an evangelism perspective.

  4. Neguy says:

    I just took a scan through various of the evangelistic sermons in Acts. All of them I saw (including the one at Mars Hill you quoted) include a call to repentance with an implied threat of judgment for those who refuse.

    I agree we should look for commonalities and have words “full of grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt.” Yet at the end of the day Jesus came to save us from sin, and one day he will come again to judge the living and the dea. If we present the gospel as a form of self-improvement, that’s just a false presentation. Yes, turning to Jesus does ordinarily clean up a lot in our lives – I know it was transformational in mine. But ultimately repentance is about faith in Jesus as paying for our sins. If we avoid the topic of sin, we are avoiding the entire problem Jesus came to solve.

    Also, the vast majority of times we are talking about Christianity are not specifically evangelistic outreach. I also think it’s a mistake to say “hey, just ignore the prophets”, namely the people who wrote a huge chunk of the bible. After all, the prophets invented the concept of social justice. Would you say we shouldn’t speak out about the plight of the poor unless we are specifically called of God to be prophets?

    I do believe we need to use wisdom and grace, but today too many Christians are simply looking for any way possible to make peace with the world and avoid having to talk about anything that would incur a social penalty. This is precisely the opposite of what the Bible teaches. The Bible says we should expect to be hated by the world, that we are blessed when we are so hated, and that we should seek the approval of God more than that of man.

    So while what you say I think has truth and can be applied in some contexts, the general tone to me comes across as “just don’t talk about that embarrassing gay stuff unless you have specific directions from God.” Which I don’t think is the right takeaway.

  5. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    Well said Neguy! +1

    And DS, you said you have seen more success with your method of not mentioning sin. But is it really success? How many of those people are truly repentant (which is necessary for salvation)? More numbers doesn’t equal more success; just look at mega-churches as an example. People will flock to whatever is easy, and avoid what is hard (and it’s usually the hard stuff that is the right stuff). I’m reminded of how thousands of people would follow Jesus around, look to see His miracles, wait to see what He would do for them… until it came time for them to do something – to repent of their sins (He didn’t shy away from telling people to sin no more), to take up their cross, to follow Him. When they realized that things were actually expected of them, hard things, they walked away.

    That’s how it is when we tell people about the nice things (“Jesus loves you!”) but leave out the hard things. You get people that aren’t following Jesus, but are looking for a magic genie “Jesus” instead. That’s one of the places where Churchians come from.

  6. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    Oh, and in order to be “saved” there has to be something that you’re being saved from. What is that? The bonds of sin and death. You can’t leave that part out just because it turns most people away. If it turns them away it’s because they aren’t willing to stop sinning. And if they aren’t willing to stop sinning, then telling them the niceties won’t get them any closer to repentance and salvation.

  7. @ Neguy

    I agree with that.

    My main point is not that there is no call to repentance or not making people aware of their sin.

    My point is that it is important to connect with people first with the good news of the gospel: the love and mercy of Jesus. That’s what gets Jesus in the mix, and then Jesus works on hearts in the process as it comes to a head at the call for repentance.

    Maybe I didn’t explain it well.

    What I am adamantly against is people coming straight out with fire and brimstone preaching saying homosexuality or other issues is a sin to non-Christians. It [almost] never goes well. I haven’t seen an instance myself.

  8. @ FBNF

    If you agree with Neguy then you get my point as I agree with him but explained it poorly.

    My point being the gospel of Jesus comes first: love and mercy of the Father for us through Jesus Christ. Then once Jesus is introduced and works on hearts then comes the call to repentance.

    If you sense hardness of heart to Jesus then you don’t need to necessarily go to repentance but keep showing them love and mercy. Sometimes it takes the experience of repeated love and mercy that you aren’t going to turn on people for not accepting Jesus for God to work through in the long run before they accept Him later.

  9. Nonya says:

    What I am adamantly against is people coming straight out with fire and brimstone preaching saying homosexuality or other issues is a sin to non-Christians. It [almost] never goes well. I haven’t seen an instance myself.

    I completely agree.

  10. Neguy says:

    While one of the most famous sermons of all time was a literal fire and brimstone sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, I would agree that style of sermon makes no sense in a culture where people don’t even really believe in a judging God.

    By the way, Paul explains the reason we called to love our enemies and do good to those who harm us in Romans 12 where he quotes the exact same scripture Edwards used in that sermon, Deuteronomy 32:35: “Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; for the day of their calamity is near, and the impending things are hastening upon them.”

  11. @ Neguy

    Yes, I think cultures that are rich usually aren’t open to accepting new viewpoints in general. People have their own way of doing things and that’s that.

    The people that are most open are the poor and the broken in spirit, and when people are in distress that’s when their hearts are going to be open to God more.

  12. KingProphetPriest says:

    Some years ago, I was involved in a missions training school which was focused on evangelism. The school was in an urban center and we spent a good deal of time in street outreach. There was a group of “fire and brimstone” street preachers (complete with sandwich boards) who came out on a regular basis and those of us in the school looked askance at them.

    One day a well-known Christian author who had written extensively on evangelism came to the school as a guest lecturer and someone asked his opinion on the tactics utilized by our street-preaching brothers.

    “Let me tell you a story,” he said. He related to us how he had seen a similar group in some city he was visiting and ended up approaching the guy in charge and asking him why he used that approach, because as far as he could tell, people were just turned off by it.

    The street preacher smiled and said, “let me show you.” He called to one of the tract holders nearby and asked him to tell how he had come to Christ.

    “Well, I was always coming down here and getting drunk and gambling and one day I was headed to the casino and I heard Joe here preaching the gospel and how eternal punishment awaited drunkards. I was convicted in my heart and got saved.”

    He called over a woman and asked her the same question. “I was a prostitute and I would hear Joe and the gang come out and preach while I was waiting for my next trick. One day I realized that when he was talking about sinners, he was talking about me. I didn’t want to go to Hell, so I asked them about How to be saved.”

    He pulled a few others over who told similar stories and the street preacher told our lecturer: “the gospel is the love and mercy of God to sinners, but some sinners need to be hit in the head with the reality of Hell in order to come to Christ. You won’t find many of the people I preach to in a church and few Christians come out here to where they are to warn them of the dangers of the path they’re on.”

    Our lecturer closed his story by stating that the man had a point. It’s easy to criticize the work of another, but sometimes it’s not about what we view as the most effective way or whether a particular method makes sense to us. What matters is each one of us being as obedient as we can to what God has called us each to do, imperfect as our implementation might be.

    While I am not a fan of hellfire and brimstone preaching myself, I see that it has its place. Sometimes the Kingdom of God is not about what we view as the most effective delivery method. What works in my middle-class world may not work on the fringes of society. I have had the pleasure of knowing numerous street preachers since that time and all of them included the message of God’s love and mercy in their preaching. I have seen the genuine care they have shown to people and the fruit from the seeds they have planted and patiently watered.

    Man, now I want to get in the fight again. Where are those tracts? There are few things like street evangelism to test your mettle and grow your faith.

  13. @ King Prophet Priest

    What works in my middle-class world may not work on the fringes of society. I have had the pleasure of knowing numerous street preachers since that time and all of them included the message of God’s love and mercy in their preaching. I have seen the genuine care they have shown to people and the fruit from the seeds they have planted and patiently watered.

    I think that’s the key right there.

    F&B would probably work with a upper or middle class population as opposed to a fringes of society approach. I certainly know that the “middle class” people just definitely do not respond to F&B at all, but can see where if you’re working with some people who need to be hit over the head at times that is how God reaches them.

    Thanks for the story that opens up my view to things a bit further how additional context is needed for populations you’re working with.

  14. Spike says:

    Interesting article DS, especially when you consider that Herodias and her daughter manipulated Herod into killing John.

  15. @ Spike

    Being persecuted as a Christian is guaranteed, which is why it’s beside the point.

    2 Timothy 3:10 Now you followed my teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, [g]perseverance, 11 persecutions, and sufferings, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord rescued me! 12 Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

    Essentially, the article is aimed about how to better win those in certain populations to Christ. Some of those people you witness to WILL persecute you but some will respond.

    Likewise, the fact that you’re unjustly treated may be the key to others’ salvation too.

  16. The Unprecedented Owl says:

    I have a counter-argument, and an unrelated question.

    (1) There is a key factor you miss. We live in a post-Christian society.

    Christians of the first few centuries preached largely to world foreign to the Old Testament. Because they were without that light, they were in some measure excused. (e.g. Acts 17:30) I submit that is why hell and condemnation do not figure large in NT preaching.

    However, hell and condemnation do figure large in the Church’s condemning heretics and apostates. (e.g. Hebrews and Jude)

    Our culture is an apostate culture. Therefore we ought to treat it as such.

    (2) You’re reformed, right? Why don’t you interact with the Reformed church? Douglas Wilson is a good voice. A babbling voice is Albert Mohler. It would increase your influence to do so, and it would expand your good project into broader areas than the myopic manosphere.

  17. @ The Unprecedented Owl

    1. The Church and the culture are different from one another. I agree with judging within the church, but I don’t agree with judging outside of the church.

    2. These are kind of some side posts on evangelism and culture.

    In general, my calling is to men and to mentor men. I suppose it would be good to interact with the wider Christian church perhaps in the future, but right now this is where I am supposed to be at.

    I suppose the best analogy is… David put in his time on the hill side with God by himself to cultivate his character and become a man after God’s own heart until it was his time to step into what God wanted him to do.

  18. Pingback: Shaming doesn’t work Part 2 | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

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