By Jacob Elwart
“I do not know this Man of whom you speak!” (Peter in Mark 14:71).
It’s easy for us to stand at a distance and throw stones at Peter for denying Christ, and to claim that we would do better than he. But have you ever squandered a clear opportunity to testify about Jesus? Truthfully, I can relate to Peter, because I too have confessed that Jesus is the Messiah, but at times, I am paralyzed by the fear of man.
The Bible has a lot to say about our fear of man, giving numerous examples of people (both believers and unbelievers) who at times were driven by this fear: Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Lot, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Samson, Saul, David, the Pharisees, Peter, Ananias and Sapphira, etc. Why is the fear of man such a strong motivation for us? Why are we driven by what other people think about us? Why are our choices motivated by the danger that might come from other people?
Jesus offers three answers in Luke 12:1–12. Before we consider the text, a definition of the fear of man might be helpful. Fear of man can be described as a heightened awareness of self that comes because of a possible threat. When we fear man, we are most worried about what someone may do to us.
If current trajectories continue, American churches will pass a tipping point. Our congregations will begin a likely unstoppable path toward decline that will rival many European churches of the past century. If there is not a significant movement of revitalization, there will be an accelerated rate of decline and death.
By Jordan Standridge. Reposted from The Cripplegate.
As time passes, I become more and more convinced that faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God.
No amount of evidence can convince someone about the truth of the Gospel. It is the Word of God, itself, that has the power to save and transform souls.
Because of this conviction, I love walking through Scripture with people whenever they permit me the time. And there are three passages in particular that I am usually drawn to, depending on the type of questions I receive throughout the conversation. So, here are my top three passages to study with unbelievers.
This one is especially helpful for people who don’t think their sin is that bad. This is a go-to passage for several reasons. It comes from the Savior’s mouth, Himself. It is designed to show much how deep man’s depravity truly is. And it ultimately places God as the standard that we should reach to, and, by doing so, shatters false religion in pieces.
J.I Packer’s little book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God is a great resource. His aim is to show that divine sovereignty and personal responsibility to repent and believe the Gospel are not mutually exclusive. He explained, “The supposition seems to be that you cannot evangelize effectively unless you are prepared to pretend while you are doing it that the doctrine of sovereignty is not true. I shall try to make it evident that this is nonsense” (10).
This book is only four chapters long, but it’s probably the best resource you can give a Christian who wants to know more about this topic. Many readers know Packer has a thoroughly Reformed soteriology, and this is clear throughout the book. However, he takes a very irenic tone and isn’t interested in flying a particular theological standard. This approach makes this an excellent gift to Christians of all theological flavors.
He begins by discussing divine sovereignty. If you’re a Christian, Packer says, you believe God is completely sovereign, no matter what soteriological camp you belong to. You know God is sovereign, because you pray. Simple. You’re acknowledging you’re helpless, and God alone can help and comfort you. “The very act that a Christian prays is thus proof positive that he believes in the Lordship of His God” (12).
Last year, another investigator and I headed down to Portland, Oregon, to interview a guy in an annuity fraud case. It was a pretty good case. The guy was an insurance agent. I had a man who’d come to the Office of the Insurance Commissioner claiming the agent had swindled his parents into buying an expensive indexed annuity and lied to them about why it was such an awesome product. The guy said this insurance agent had done this to his parents twice, in the space of two years.
These were working folks, blue collar. They didn’t know much about annuities, indexed investment strategies or guaranteed minimum income riders. Not many people do, and I don’t blame them. Reading annuity contracts is about as exciting as memorizing the World Book Encyclopedia …
To make things worse, the wife had become sick not long after they bought the second annuity. They needed money, but the new annuity charged you a hefty fee if you bailed on it within 10 years. The old man tried to make it for a while, but eventually bit the bullet and surrendered the annuity. He ate about $10,000 in penalty charges. The wife went into the nursing home and died about nine months later.
The insurance agent made $12,000 on the two sales. He denied everything. “They wanted the annuity, and it was suitable for them!” he whined.