29 January 2012

The (Lost) Art of Street Preaching — Must It Be Resurrected?

You may have a particular view on street-preaching (for purposes here, street preaching and open air preaching are synonymous). This could be from a street preacher that you heard or from a YouTube video that you watched, or just the seemingly “weird” people that do it. I want to propose today that this art of public open-air preaching is an important way the gospel of Jesus Christ can effectively be proclaimed to the lost in our culture.

I propose nine reasons why street-preaching should be considered as a valid way to present the gospel of Jesus Christ.

1. It presents the gospel to people who may not otherwise step foot into a church.
Many people in our day and age refuse to step foot in a church. This may result from a myriad of reasons. But one undeniable benefit of open-air preaching is that instead of waiting for the people to come into the church, the preacher goes out to the lost. Thus, those people who may not enter into a church building can hear the gospel proclaimed to them in an area or setting in which they gather. Rightly did Spurgeon remark regarding preachers of the gospel: “traders go to the markets, they follow their customers and go out after business if it will not come to them; and so must we.”

2. It allows the preacher to obey the most frequent command regarding the manner in which the gospel is presented.
One only needs to read through the Scriptures (both OT and NT) to find the clear emphasis on the bold, public, and even at times “in-the-moment” proclamation of God’s truth. A concept that very frequently arises is the command given and pattern exemplified in the act of preaching the Gospel and proclaiming the truth of salvation (cf. Acts 26; 2 Tim 4:2; Luke 14:23; cp. Neh 8).

3. It follows the historical pattern of pastors open air preaching.
Beginning with Noah who was a preacher of righteousness (2 Pet 2:5), to Ezra (Neh 8:1-4), to Jeremiah (Jer 7:2; 19:2), Ezekiel (Ezek 11:off), other prophets (cf. Jonah 3:2-4), John the Baptist (Matt 3:1-2), our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 5-7, et al.), Paul (Acts 26), Peter (Acts 5:17ff), and hundreds through Church history, an unbroken pattern of open-air preaching can be observed. For instance, in the 18th century, Gideon Ouseley, heralded God’s truth in the open-air in the country of Ireland. Ouseley first preached in a church-yard, at a funeral, and after this point, he preached in the streets and church-yards, at fairs and markets, at wakes and funerals, wherever in fact he could find a congregation assembled. He would ride on his horse from county to county preaching and exhorting wherever and whenever he could.

Even Spurgeon provided a list of eleven qualifications for open-air preachers: (1) a good voice, (2) naturalness of manner, (3) self-possession, (4) a good knowledge of Scripture and of common things, (5) ability to adapt himself to any congregation, (6) good illustrative powers, (7) zeal, prudence, and common sense, (8) a large, loving heart, (9) sincere belief in all he says, (10) entire dependence on the Holy Spirit for success, (11) a close walk with God by prayer, and (12) a consistent walk before men by a holy life.

Read rest of article HERE at The Cripple Gate

22 January 2012

Are you ready?

This afternoon, while my wife and my boys were at the local library, I took the "Are You Ready" cross to downtown Ball Ground.

I found a good spot on mainstreet and was not there five minutes or so when a car stopped in the middle of the road and the passenger, who looked to be about a 12 year old girl, whipped a camera out of the window and started taking pictures of the looney guy holding a cross. Only after the cars behind them started showing their displeasure by blowing horns did the roving photographer and her driver move on.

After another thirty or so minutes went by a pickup truck drove slowly by and then parked behind me. The driver, a young man in his late teens or early twenties, jumped out of his truck and walked up to me and asked me what was up with that sign?

I simply told him I was intentially provoking people to think about if they were ready or not for eternity. The young man, dressed in blue jeans and a t-shirt (temp was about 48 degrees) looked at me a little funny and said that he thought I was one of those people that thought the world was going to end in 2012. I assured him that I had absolutely no idea when the world was going to end or when Jesus would be returning.

I asked him if he was ready?

Ready for what, he asked.

Ready for eternity, I said!

Yes, he said, I am ready.

How do you know, I asked him.

Because I was saved years and years ago.

You know, I said, almost everyone I meet here in north Georgia will tell me that they were saved when they were a little boy or girl. Sometimes they will tell me that they have been born-again two or three times. But when you ask them how often they read their Bible, pray or go to church, most people will say that they hardly ever rewd the Bible, almost never pray and could not tell you the last time they were in church.

It was at this point the young man said that he was on his way to work and just wanted to see what the question on the cross was all about. Experience told me that I only had a moment more with him so I reached my pocket and dug out an "Are you ready?" tract that has a tombstone on the front of it and handed it to him before he had a chance to get away.

He thanked me for the tract, shook my hand and got back in truck and drove away.

I praise God for that "chance" encounter and pray that He reveals Himself in a mighty way to that young man.

Soli Deo Gloria!!!

21 January 2012

Born from above!

From the blog of pastor Randall Easter

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to discuss religious matters. 

Nicodemus starts the conversation by stating, "we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him."  Jesus quickly turns the conversation to the gospel and presses a glorious truth upon the heart of Nicodemus.  Jesus tells him that he must be 'born from above' if he is to see or enter the kingdom of God.  Most translations use the phrase 'born again,' but this misses the essence of what Jesus is saying.  Re-birth is not something that is worked up from the bottom, but rather re-birth is that which is given from above.  To understand that re-birth is a top down model leaves the sinner in submission to cry out for God to come down.  The Greek word 'from above' is used in several other passages and gets translated 'from above' (Matt. 27:51; John 3:31; 19:11, 23; James 1:17; James 3:15, 17). 

In order for a man to see or enter the kingdom of God he must be effectively regenerated from above.  God the Holy Spirit must come down and grant a new heart and a right spirit in order that man by faith can believe upon the Lord Jesus Christ. 

In today 21st century church much effort is placed upon getting man to do something in order that he could be saved.  The church today tries to get man to repeat prayers, walk down isle's, raise hands, or some other gimmick to get man to open the door of his heart in order that Jesus can get in.  However, Jesus mentions none of this in his presentation to Nicodemus.  He simply presses upon him the glorious truth that salvation is a top down model.  The result of such preaching presses man to cry out to God until He has mercy upon them.  Jesus will go on to remind Nicodemus that just as the serpent was lifted up in the wilderness, so must the the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life. 

Salvation comes from the throne room of heaven and moves upon the heart of a man and causes him to look up to the beauty of the Savior on the cross and believe that Jesus bore his sins that he might die to sin and live to righteousness. 

So many people will refer to John 3:16 and some will even have an entire conference to talk about John 3:16, but the context of John 3:16 demands that we look at the whole chapter.  The honest reader of Scripture cannot read over the statement that man must be born 'from above.'  If God does not save there will be no saving.  If God does not move there will be no moving.  If God does not draw there will be no drawing.  If God does  not regenerate there will be no regeneration.  We are then left with the statement of the prophet Jonah, "Salvation belongs to the Lord!"

What about you?  Have you been born from above?  Have you experienced genuine repentance?  Have you been regenerated?  Do you now hate the sin you used to love?  Do you now love the righteousness you once hated?  I will repeat what the Lord Jesus has said; "You must be born from above to enter the kingdom of God."