Monday, September 28, 2015

Just Proclaim - 9/5/2015 and 9/12/2015

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people and say to them, If I bring the sword upon a land, and the people of the land take a man from among them, and make him their watchman, and if he sees the sword coming upon the land and blows the trumpet and warns the people, then if anyone who hears the sound of the trumpet does not take warning, and the sword comes and takes him away, his blood shall be upon his own head. He heard the sound of the trumpet and did not take warning; his blood shall be upon himself. But if he had taken warning, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet, so that the people are not warned, and the sword comes and takes any one of them, that person is taken away in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at the watchman’s hand.
(Ezekiel 33:1-6 *)

“You have heard their taunts, O LORD,
all their plots against me.
The lips and thoughts of my assailants
are against me all the day long.
Behold their sitting and their rising;
I am the object of their taunts.
“You will repay them, O LORD,
according to the work of their hands.
You will give them dullness of heart;
your curse will be on them.
You will pursue them in anger and destroy them
from under your heavens, O LORD.”
(Lam 3:61-66)

[The Gentiles] are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity.
(Ep 4:18-19) 

Blog Note
Due to members of the team being out of town at various points over the last several weeks, we are a little behind on our blogs!  To help catch up, this one covers two weeks worth of outreaches and pictures.

Saturday Outreach
09/05/2015 and 09/12/2015

This week we wanted to address one particular question head-on that we often hear from people both inside and outside of the church: “How many people have been saved [through the street evangelism team]?”

This question also comes in less obvious, comment form, such as recently heard from a well-intentioned brother: “I think that such-and-such is a more effective form of outreach.”  Our “pat” answer to these types of questions is generally a series of qualifications such as, “We plant the seeds that someone else waters...”, followed by a thoughtful sounding, “ we just may never know how many."  In light of this type of reoccurring question, we wanted to spend this week’s blog considering what should be the goal of every evangelistic outreach, and to suggest that the idea of success in evangelism being measured by a count of professions is not a Biblical approach to measuring an outreaches effectiveness.

What if the number of people saved is 0?

The reality is that we don’t see many people saved as a direct result of our being out on the streets.  People don’t throw themselves down on the ground before us, repenting of their evil ways and turning to Christ.  They don’t weep with conviction or tremble from fear of judgement.  They don’t often pull us aside asking, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30)  Even those very few times when some kind of profession is made, our response is tempered - a combination of excitement and a prayerful hope for genuine fruit.  We rarely have the ability to follow up with those individuals we speak to on the street, losing contact almost as fast as we made it and having little opportunity to watch for fruit that proves the repentance was genuine. (Luke 6:43-45)

To ask the question, “How many?” about this (or any) outreach misses the point of a Christian’s calling when it comes to evangelism.  We should look on with healthy skepticism at any group that uses “number of professions” as proof for the successfulness of their outreach because it is easy to get verbal professions to a set of facts or after working emotions into a frenzy - false religions (even those with “Christian” in the name) can do that, too.  Using the right hook (or leaving out the less “acceptable” part of the Gospel) can fill stadiums of professors who confess with their mouth that Jesus is Lord, but whose everyday lives reveal their ongoing, continual rebellion against the One who hates evil. (Prov 8:13)

Who said the goal of evangelism was to save people?

Don’t misunderstand that question!  When we go out, we pray earnestly for people to be saved.  When we talk among one another, we speak joyfully about those we’ve seen or heard being saved - even of those who seemed to have paused for a moment and ponder what we were saying.  When we go out and preach, we preach hopeful that many will repent and turn to Christ.  But is not the goal of everything we do, to be done for the glory of God?  Therefore, if God chooses to use evangelism to harden someone (Romans 9:18) and wills not to save them, has the evangelism failed in its goal?  No - not if it was to see God and Jesus glorified through the preaching of the Word, regardless of the outcome.

Evangelism doesn’t save people...

God has chosen to use evangelism as the means through which He saves.  He works through the preaching and sharing of his Word by missionaries, pastors, evangelists, fathers, daughters, kids, neighbors, etc to unregenerate man.  But it is not the evangelism (or method used) which saves.  It is God who works through those means to work salvation in the hearer...or to actively harden the hearer against the Word!  One or the other will be the outcome of hearing the Word through evangelism, and is as He wills.

Paul reminds us of this reality:

What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9:14-18)

So if God saves - or not - as He wills, then why go out at all?

Hopefully the man-centeredness of that question is obvious!  We go out because Jesus told us to go out (Matt. 28:19).  We go out because our speaking the Gospel to others is the means through which God has chosen to bring salvation to the hearers (Romans 1:16 - note that He also, graciously, works through our prayers [Luke 18:1-8] so don’t neglect that!).  We go out of gratitude for the mercy He extended to us when we also were His enemy (Eph 2:1-10)!  And we go out because we want our God and our Lord to be glorified among the nations (Romans 15:8-9).

While it's God's will as to who it is that is saved, we are not fatalists ("God will do whatever He will do, so whatever.")  God had commanded us to pray and to ask, and He will give (Matt 7:7-11).  He's told us to go and speak and make disciples (Matt 28:19).  He works through these actions on our part to work His sovereign will.  How all that melds together might be something you struggle with balancing in your mind, but know that it is because God told us in Scripture that it is true that we can rest on it being true.

But God hardening hearts is a hard thought...

Biblical evangelism hinges on the character of who God is.  We go out knowing that God is good and, therefore, if He chooses to use the message to harden the heart of someone, He does it for His glory and it is good.  Likewise, if He chooses to have mercy on someone and extend salvation through the hearing of the Gospel, He does it for His glory and it is good.

We go out so that He may be pleased to be glorified working through us - regardless of how He chooses to be glorified in each instance!  It may be hard to our carnal minds to wrestle with God actively hardening some, but remember - His glory is our goal and it is because we know that He is perfectly good and perfectly just that we can rest in the outcome as being perfectly right.  We need only focus on whether or not we were faithful in our part of His name being “proclaimed in all the earth”.

Continuing what Paul wrote earlier about God’s free will in choosing, we read:

You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?
(Romans 9:19-24)

So then the outcome of evangelism is entirely up to God

God’s goal is His glory.  He gets glory when we praise Him for His mercy in our salvation, and He will get glory when we praise Him for His perfect and holy wrath against the ungodly.

So what if God has chosen those who hear, and those who take tracts, and those we speak to, to be used to demonstrate His wrath and power?

Then we (solemnly) praise Him, giving Him glory because He is good and just and righteous.  We remind ourselves that He is holy, and not motivated by sinful desire, but operates from perfect wisdom that flows from perfect knowledge.  That’s not to say we don’t plead for the salvation of the hearers (which one among us doesn’t plead weekly, if not nightly, for those we regularly speak with on the street?), but we do so knowing that God will always use the proclamation of the Gospel for His glory.

When we say that salvation is the goal for going out, and then ask for a count to prove success, we are putting man’s glory ahead of His!

So how do we measure an outreach’s value if not by professions?

We measure it by the value the outreach places in Christ and the submission to God’s glory over human success.  When choosing or supporting an outreach, consider - are they faithful to proclaim our glorious Christ “in season and out of season”, regardless of response?

Using street evangelism as an example, in American history there have been times of great revival where it seemed that every word spoken by a man on a box was made of “gold”.  Other times (look around you), those very same words repel, causing sinful man to gnash their teeth at the speaker.  Which has more value in the glorifying of God?

In all cases, we should judge the value by the faithfulness to cling to the Bible as the inerrant, infallible, and sufficient Word of God as well as the accurate and persistent preaching (teaching, sharing...) of the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ.

But some outreaches do seem to have more true professions than others…?

This is true.  And if we were able to accurately eliminate all false conversions from the equation, we would likely still find that certain outreaches netted more genuine professions than others.  Remembering that there are two reactions to the hearing of the word of God (softening and hardening), it stands to reason that some outreaches are used mightily of God to demonstrate His mercy...and some, like a guy standing on a box among a people that hates the God of the Bible, tends more towards being used to the hardening.  If in both cases, Christians are faithful to the Gospel of Christ, then both have done what God set them out to do.  Both are "successful".  Perhaps a better way of saying it that both are "God honoring".

As a personal side note: can you see how even being able to stand on a street corner in the mist of a hard people is a mercy of God to those who hate Him?  Like a warning sign on the edge of hell that rings out, “Repent!  Even now God stands ready to forgive!”

So what about you, reader?

Because faithfulness to speak and proclaim the Gospel is the measurement of successful evangelism, does this same test not also apply to you?

Street evangelism is just one of many ways of going out and sharing the Gospel, and there’s nothing magical or particularly special about this method.  We invite you to join us, but we also know it’s not an outreach that is for everyone.  But if you are not sharing the Gospel somewhere, then we strongly exhort you to take a moment to examine yourself to see whether or not you are being faithful to obey Jesus’ clear call to proclaim the Gospel.

This doesn't mean you need to join an official outreach - consider those God has already put in your life such as your children, your husband or wife, your neighbors and your co-workers.  Reach out so that God may be pleased to get glory through your faithful obedience to your Lord!  Pray for their salvation and plead with them to repent.  Don’t make their salvation the measure of whether or not you are honoring God, but let the words of our Savior who humbled himself even to the point of death echo in your mind: “...yet not my will, but yours be done”. (Phil 2:8, Luke 22:42)

We thought this week's blog was a good timing for this particular subject because in the two weeks presented below, we had nearly two completely opposite responses to the same Gospel!

Below are pictures from the two weeks, along with a few comments.  The first week (5th) was very hard with basically only those who “responded” being those that have set them directly against the truthfulness of Scripture, and who come specifically to be in judgement over God.  The second week (12th) was just the opposite with everyone on the team having multiple off-the-box conversations, people gathering to listen to the man on the box, and even a young, Christian couple encouraged to evangelize!

We always pray before going out that God would be glorified by whatever the results, and can only trust that He was - both of these weeks.

In this series of pictures, those where we are on the corner of Magnolia and San Fernando (by the stop-light) were on the 5th.  The others, down near the AMC theater, were on the 12th.

This man we have “spoken to” many times.  He listens to, and gets all his information from, bishop so-and-so of the Episcopal church.  Actually this man speaks and we are just supposed to listen.  He promotes homosexuality, a changing meaning to the Bible over time, and proof of a church’s validity in number of people who attend.

He always comes by “swinging” (walks up and starts right in), and walks away when it’s the other person’s time to respond.  Sometimes (like this night) returning later to “swing” some more.

Roger - do we need to say more?  You look up hardness-of-heart in a theology dictionary, and you will find his picture.  Proceeding this author’s time on the team, he’s the “omnipresent” voice of “reason” that has set himself against God by looking for deeper meanings (Gnostic) by piecing together various spiritual and secular source material.

He is also likely the most prayed for man we know.  We long for His salvation.  Not just to make a friend out of an enemy, but knowing how many times he has heard the Gospel, we genuinely fear the growing wrath against him.

We plead for mercy for Roger!

Carlos was, I believe, new (first time coming by).  As Razmik described him, he was like a nice version of Roger.  Same arguments and misuse of Scripture, but not so quick to call you an idiot if you disagreed with him.

This author also got the opportunity to speak with him for awhile.  He has made a god out of his imagination and who sees the solution to man’s problems as the eradication of all religions in exchange for a general spirituality (an echo of things to come?).  For him, saying that “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14:6) was just another religion saying, “I’m right and you’re wrong”.

He was unwilling to hear what God said in His Word, advocating for the tossing out of the Bible along with all of man’s other “nonsense” writings.  If we were to summarize his evangelism approach to a Christian, it would be, “Get rid of the middle man (Jesus) and go straight to God.”


Even in the midst of a hard night of hard people, there was at least one person who took a Bible!  Praise the Lord for His long-suffering and mercy!

Originally this author started speaking with this man, who is a Seventh Day Adventist.  Knowing that Mark spent 20 years in that religion, he was waved over to speak in more depth with the man.

Speaking with Christians since then, it’s been surprising the varying understanding of this organization.

Are they a cult?  Are they just legalistic Christians?  What?

Rather than do a full-on discussion here about why they are a false religion (though at the same time, there can be some churches who hold to orthodoxy), we instead refer you to an article on CARM’s site, discussing Seventh Day Adventists with the encouragement to read if you are uncertain, yourself.

Something else of note from this conversation - at the beginning, before mentioning that he was a Seventh Day Adventist, he started by speaking much like we do with regards to the approaching return of Christ and the darkening society and even the persecution to come.  This type of talk is deceiving, and we implore you, brothers and sisters, to be warned - we live in a time where multiple religions are trying to merge under the banner of Christian, and members of those religions may very well even be persecuted together with us as enemies of the world's order.  We must understand the distinctiveness of the true Gospel so that we don’t become deceived into diluting the message.  The way we do that is by knowing the real Christ as He's been revealed in the Word.  Remember that sharing in persecution with others is not the same as being unified in Christ!

Previously Roman Catholic, this man this man is a new convert going to a church that seems to have a low view of Scripture.  He says he loved the worship and was involved in the men’s group.  As Razmik tested him on Bible knowledge, he didn't seem to know much of it, going so far as to even say he hasn’t ever read Matthew.

Razmik exhorted him of the necessity of a personal walk with Christ that includes regular prayer and reading of the Bible.  He also gave him the link to Paul Washer’s “shocking message” to hopefully give him a bit of a jolt :)

Albert goes to Grace but is struggling with unnamed sin, and asking for advice.  He has spoken with brothers at Grace, as well, which is encouraging, though one area of prayer might be that he seeks insight and help from those in authority over him.  Razmik exchanged contact information with him, and has emailed links to several resources (Ray Comfort, Paul Washer, Tim Challies, etc).  Hopefully the Lord can use this connection to continue to speak truth in Albert’s life.

Do you mortify [put to death sin]? Do you make it your daily work? Be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.
John Owen

This young couple approached us cautiously, making sure we were born-again Christians before thanking us for being there.  The young man is from Italy, fairly recently saved, and with a burden to share the Gospel on the streets.  He has tried a bit on his own, and expressed some of his frustration thinking he was doing it wrong because no one was responding to the message.  He could use some training, and one of the men on our team pointed him to Living Water's website as a good starting place, but part of the "training" needed comes with time and is realizing that the response he got was likely more normal for street outreach than he expected.

Pray for him, and many more like him!

We started this blog talking about the "what ifs" of God willing not to save many people through our particular ministry.  This may turn out to be true, but it's important we remember to balance that with what Jesus said , "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest." (Luke 10:2).

Pray for more faithful men and women to go out on street corners and into coffee shops and on campuses, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.

Pray for opportunities for you, yourself, to be used as a laborer in your house or at your work.

Pray for missionaries to dedicate their life overseas, working in the field.

Pray that God would have mercy on many and that He would be glorified in the preaching of His Word and that the focus of all our labor would be on Christ, and Him alone!

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!

Abortion Clinic
Mission Hills
09/05/2015 and 09/12/2015

Every Wednesday and Saturday at 8-10 am
10200 Sepulveda Blvd
Mission Hills, CA  91345

No Experience Needed and no need to say anything if you are not ready - come hold a sign, pray, and bring encouragement to those who are standing for the innocent.

Wednesday Outreach
North Hollywood
09/02/2015 and 09/16/2015

Come Join Us - 6-8 am
Please stand with us for morning evangelism on Wednesdays at 6:00 AM at the North Hollywood Metro Station on Lankershim Blvd.

It's a great opportunity to share the truth with the thousands of commuters who pass through this area.

Please watch for text announcements on Tuesday evenings. Don't forget to RSVP if you plan to join us on Wednesday mornings.

Articles and Media

The Master's Seminary (
Jump Starting Your Evangelism
"The New Testament presents evangelism as both a gift and a command. On the one hand, evangelism is the main task God has given Christians to do (cf. Matt. 28:18–20). All believers are to be witnesses, and to fail to proclaim the gospel is to miss the very essence of what God has left us on earth to do."
But...Passages like Acts 21:8 and Ephesians 4:11 imply that some believers have the gift of evangelism, and some do not. 

Is the Lord’s Return Imminent?
"From the very earliest days of the church, the apostles and first-generation Christians nurtured an earnest expectation and fervent hope that Christ might suddenly return at any time to gather His church to heaven."

Blood Moons and Biblical Discernment
"Blood moons have occurred many times throughout history. But the eschatological events that mark the Day of the Lord will be unmistakably unique. Those biblical passages also talk about the sun being darkened, and about other cosmic phenomena taking place (such as the stars falling from the sky in Rev. 6:13). Again, the language of Scripture depicts something far more dramatic than a normal lunar eclipse."

WIRED: End of the Universe - a Lament
(This was a sad, but telling look at the hopelessness found in man)
"Scientists confirmed that nothing has any meaning in a paper presented at the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Honolulu on Monday, August 10."

Wretched: The best letter written since the New Testament epistles

Oceanside URC Letter (referenced in Wretched video, above)

Telegraph: Homophobic people 'more likely to display other undesirable psychological traits'
"Individuals with homophobic views are more likely to display undesirable psychological traits such as aggression, physical hostility and anger, a new study finds."
Albert Mohler's response to this article

* All verses from the ESV, unless otherwise noted

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