Sunday, March 24, 2013

Legalistic Challenges 3/16/2013

A core team of David, Mark, Jack & Steven were joined by Pastor Alvin for an exciting evening of challenging debate, and one to one ministry, as we invaded the chilly streets of Burbank.

Our newest team member, Jack, responded to two different hecklers. First, a very courteous, self-described atheist had several questions about (what else?) evolution. Jack made the point that it is far more reasonable, and scientifically valid, to accept that rather than single-cell organisms gradually changing into whales, camels, and pigs, which we do not see happening, what we actually observe is animals, such as dogs, changing into others dogs, within their "kind." Yes, there may be different expressions of the genetic variables within the kind, resulting in dogs of every color shape and size, yet we do not see dogs sprouting wings or gills or even opposable thumbs with which to remove the leashes placed around their necks. (Ed. note: Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778), the founder of the science of taxonomy, was a creationist who came to understand that the term "species" was too narrow to correspond to the Biblical term "kind," and is rather closer to the term "genus.")  After this, Jack sprang into the Good Person test.

He was followed by the first of two different persons, identifying themselves as believers, who took issue with our proclamation of the Gospel in public.
Sometimes self-described followers of Christ try to discourage us from sharing the gospel in the way we do.

Often it is revealed, through the words and arguments they use, that their faith is based on a low view of the righteousness and justice of God, and so they object to the use of the Law to convict people of their sinful state. Yet, the Scriptures speak of "repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18), and Paul preached "repentance toward God, and faith toward out Lord Jesus Christ." (Acts 20:21)
A good response to this is the analogy of the costly medicine for a terminal illness which is worthless when freely offered to a man who is perfectly well, but more precious than gold when offered to one who has just been given a terminal diagnosis.

Dave was challenged by a young man, named Chara, who was struggling with the recent tragic death of 3 members of his family including a six year old child. He admitted that he was very confused by the Christian claims that the Bible is true and inspired by God.  Dave responded by quoting Isaiah 53 as an example of fulfilled prophecy.

Some of his other questions:
Q: Have you seen Jesus? 
A: Have you seen gravity? Yet you believe in gravity. Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God.
Q: Is the devil real? 
A: Jesus was tempted by the devil.
Q: How do you know that the bad is not good and the good is not bad? 
A: The bible says that men will call good evil and evil good. That's what we have in our culture right now. People say that abortion is good, homosexuality is good. But no it's not, it's sin. But God can forgive those sins, He can forgive the worst sinner on the planet. He forgave me! If you are involved in sin you are in bondage to that sin. He can set your free from the bondage of sin.
Q: What made you to believe in Jesus? 
A: Trust in the one who has revealed Himself to you. Read His word, the Bible. "these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ; the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name." (John 20:31)
Many other questions were fielded in the fast paced dialogue.

Then a second heckler who identified himself as a Messianic Jewish "believer" drew Dave into a protracted discussion of doctrinal issues. Gradually, it became clear that this man's issue was a kind of legalism that is a problem for the Messianic movement. Afterward, Dave found a few excellent articles that address this issue.

Some questions that might help direct the discussion with others of like beliefs:

Do you believe that ALL of the scriptures are "God-breathed" and the only source of divine truth & your final authority?

Do you believe Jesus is God?

What is the ONLY WAY a sinful man be reconciled with a Holy God?

Are you JUSTIFIED by Christ or your obedience to the Law?

Do you believe you can LOSE your salvation?

Do you believe the salvation is a FREE gift of God's grace?

Do you believe Jesus Christ is the ONLY way of salvation?

Peter rebuked the believing Pharisees, at the Jerusalem Council, who sought to command the Gentiles to keep the law of Moses: "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they." (Acts 15:10-11)

Paul rebuked the Galations: "Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (Galations 3:2-3)

It was another blessed evening of defending the faith. Please check the schedule for our next outing and consider joining us.

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.  (Psalm 34:1-3)

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