Saturday, May 23, 2015

Do You Know Jesus? May 16th, 2015

And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And He said to them, "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, Lord, open up to us!' then He will answer and say to you, 'I do not know where you are from.' Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets'; and He will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.' In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out."
(Luke 13:23-28 *)

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.'"
(Matthew 7:21-23)

Saturday Outreach

Standing on top of the parking lot in Glendale, looking out toward the North, one might be forgiven thinking this was an afternoon in Colorado instead of drought-ridden California.  Our heavenly Father has given us three full weeks of cool, cloudy days - even providing some much needed rain the end of last week!

When we think of the drought here in California in light of God's sovereignty, it’s easy to say “yeah, I get that - we deserve that”.  But days like these show that even as we grow in rebellion and wickedness as a state and a nation, God still graciously gives us periods of rest.

What a reminder this is for loving our enemies, as sons of a Father who shows mercy and grace to His enemies.

"You have heard that it was said, YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
(Matthew 5:43-48)

This cool evening, our wise Lord organized a small team for our outreach in Glendale.

Bibles and Tracts

We may have been a small team, but that didn't hinder the distribution of of Bibles and tracts!  In fact, we completely ran out of the paperback English Bibles.

As mentioned in the post from the last time we were in Glendale, we only hand out Bibles when people ask for them, so it’s always exciting to run out!

Millions” of tracts went out as well...

Tony Miano’s most recent weekly e-newsletter included a link to Pastor Jeff Pollard preaching at the Milton Herald Society on the Biblical basis for using tracts.  Listening to it is time well spent, and an encouragement for those who pass them out: Paper Missionaries

“Young man - do you know Jesus?”

Tonight the call from the 3 preachers was strong, and focused on the necessity of knowing the right Jesus.

As people waited to cross the street, Vinny would call out to specific individuals waiting to cross the street “do you know Jesus?”

Occasionally some replied with a sincere “Yes!”, and he would lovingly exhort them to be sure they were in the faith.  Others replied with a mocking “Yes!”, and those he chastised and called to repentance.

When no one would answer, he pulled no punches expounding upon what it meant - and did not mean - to know Jesus.  “You say you know Jesus, but you call him a prophet - you don’t know Him at all and are not going to heaven.”

This man was not happy with the volume and message and told him to be quiet and go home.  “I won’t be quiet because I love you and want you to know the truth”...“I won’t go home because my Lord has commended me to go out and shout His name from the roof top!”

Another man raised his arms and “praised satan".  As with most people who do this act, the guy thought it was a funny thing to do in response to the guy on the box.  He was more persistent than most, however, as his “adulations” continued as he crossed the street.

We get "hail satan" people like this man every couple of weeks, with each man on the box at the time handling them differently.  As shocking as this response is, we must remember that there is no eternal difference from the man who mockingly hails satan and the atheist who denies the existence of God and the "good" person who's planning on riding into heaven on the back of their works.  They are all unable to discern spiritual things (1 Corinthians 2;14) and are under the wrath of God (John 3:36).

It's tempting in light of the elevation of our Enemy's name to want to lash out in defense, but we are not called to defend our Lord's honor (certainly not in a way other religions, such as Islam, must defend their prophet's honor by attacking the mocker) but are to preach salvation in Christ through repentance.

The man on the box choose to rebuke this man with Scripture that glorifies our Savior while preaching the truth about where the man actually stands: “Keep those hands up, young man, because the Bible says that one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!”. (Philippians 2:11)

One-on-One (Gospel) Conversations

Several one-on-ones took place where the gospel was given.  Some people rejected it out of hand without even listening, but others stopped, listened, and even discussed it.  It's a joy watching men on our team as they intentionally seek out and try to start conversations with people hanging around the perimeter.

Dmitri, this pleasant, young man, sat down with Rasmik to talk awhile about what the gospel is.

When asked if he understood what he had been told, he replied, “You got through to me, man”.

However, when pressed about his willingness to think about what had been said and (ultimately) repent and follow Jesus, he said that he was very busy right now.

In the end, Razmik left him with a Bible, a Noah DVD, and a warning about delaying: "we are not promised tomorrow..."

Pray for this young man that he wasn't just temporarily and emotionally stirred when he heard the gospel, but that he bears fruit in repentance and a turning to follow Christ.

Not everyone was so willing to speak, and sadly neither of these ladies welcomed a discussion with Vinny for more than a moment.

Similarly, while Vinny was persistent in opening the Bible and reading to this young man as he ate his ice cream cone, he was visibly uncomfortable, waiting for an opportunity to leave.

Armen (in the picture) said that before starting a philosophy class in college, he believed in heaven and hell, but now has doubts.

He did seem to have a grasp that he is sinful as several times in the conversation he asked why God would forgive sinners such as us.

The Bible tells us that God saves whom He wills so that He, Himself will be glorified (Ephesians 1:4-6), but truly it is a glorious and wondrous thing that almost goes beyond our ability to explain.

From our standpoint (as creature) His salvation is shown in love that originates from Him (1 John 4:10), and mercy while we were sinners and His enemy (Ephesians 2:4, 5; Romans 5:10), and grace that justifies (Titus 3:7).

As the song declares, "Amazing love! how can it be"
And can it be that I should gain
An int’rest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain?
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! how can it be
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
For a better treatment of this topic, see Mark Dever's Why Does God Save Sinners?

Razmik pointed out John's reminder to believers in 1 John 1:9 of the assurance of salvation we have in our ongoing desire to confess our sins, and the promise of the Father to forgive those sincerely confessed sins.

Armen declined a Bible because he said that he had several at home, already.  Pray that he would read one of them, and that he doesn't sinfully use “I’m an unsavable sinner” as an excuse to stay away from God, but that as he sees his sinful state he is driven towards God who gives salvation freely (Romans 3:23).

Other, "Random" Encounters

In addition to one-on-ones, no evening would be complete without "grab-bag" conversations that frustrate, confuse, or even encourage the team.  Anything and everything can be the topic!

The man with the cigarette came up and began testing Mark to see if the Bibles we were handing out (ESVs) were accurate translations (he preferred KJV).  His intention/attitude was one of uncovering or confronting some form of heresy.

However, when he grilled Mark on Genesis 1 and whether or not he believed a literal 6 day creation, and when Mark said “of course”, pointing to Exodus 20:11 as further support, the man gave his approval for us to continue preaching, and walked off.

It was an odd encounter, that even as we spoke about it a couple days later, we were unsure how to categorize it.  Because of his demeanor and actions, we hesitate to call him a brother though he seemed ready to call us one.  We humbly acknowledge that our judgment on situations like this can be wrong or biased, and we ask for prayers for discernment in situations like these.

This girl asked if we were Scientologists.

Unfortunately she didn't stay around to hear who we are, or about our risen Lord!

This is a sober reminder that yes, we are out...but so are the false prophets.

We don't know this man's name, but is a believer who has been by a few times when we've been at this location.  Razmik commented that you can ask him about nearly any verse in the Bible, and he knows it!

This couple are believers who occasionally come to this location to evangelize (no preaching, just handing out tracts).

It might be interesting (or intimidating...) to know just how many pictures there are of members of the team floating around out there!

Two young, Christian girls, excited by our presence, approached Vinny wanting to be trained in evangelism.

Vinny spoke with them for 30 minutes or so to learn more about their faith and check their theology (which could be summarized as new, immature believers, but solidly believers none-the-less).

They discussed tentative plans to work out a time to go evangelizing with him and his wife in the future, but in any event it was a thrill for Vinny (with the rest of the team sharing in his joy!) seeing others being encouraged and strengthened in their desire to evangelize.

A small team we may have been, but more than enough for our great God.  He is full of compassion towards His enemies, offering salvation from His just wrath through the propitious, wondrous work of Jesus.  We stand in awe.

To those whom He has saved, there is no longer condemnation or a fear of His wrath.  Instead, He has given us a perfect example in Christ for how to humbly love our enemies as He has done so that we are driven to proclaim His name that others might also hear and be saved - and that He would be glorified in the preaching of His word.

By God's grace, may we continue to grow in love for our neighbors in Glendale and Burbank, sharing the hope we have in Christ as we strive to meditate upon and know our Savior better: God the Son, Jesus Christ!

Come Join Us - 6-9 pm
See the calendar on the upper, right-side of this page for our location each week...

Tracts and Bibles supplied!


Mark Dever at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary: Why Does God Save Sinners?

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Timothy 1:15-17)

Jeff Pollard at the Milton Herald Society: Paper Missionaries (Biblical usage of tracts)

"Yet Hulse realizes that if we take Scripture at face value, there is no escaping the conclusion that God’s love extends even to sinners whom He ultimately will condemn."

John Piper: Biblical Texts to Show God’s Zeal for His Own Glory
"Probably no text in the Bible reveals the passion of God for his own glory more clearly and bluntly as Isaiah 48:9-11 where God says,
For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, that I may not cut you off. Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another."
(Isaiah 48:9-11, ESV, emphasis Piper's) 

* All verses are from the NASB unless otherwise stated

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