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Old 01-28-2010, 11:25 AM
 
702 posts, read 812,726 times
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I'm starting this thread as a response to SisterKat, since our discussion was off-topic elsewhere.

SisterKat, you said:

Quote:
Most of the time, atheists won’t listen to the words we speak about God. We must spread God’s love by actions not words.

Anyone who is not born again will not listen to our words. But why? It's because of their sinful nature. They love darkness rather than light, and so they avoid the light. If God does not use his own word to regenerate them--do you really think that your actions will do any better? If you don't think our actions will regenerate them, then what role do our actions play? Whatever answer you give, is there a biblical basis for it?

Quote:
Imagine your father was the prime minister or the president of your country. Being his son/daughter, you represent him. When people walk past you, they recognise you as the son/daughter of someone powerful and famous. People expect you to live up to your father’s name, to be mature and respectful. If you did something bad in public, like smoking or getting drunk, people look down on you and your father, and your father will be disgraced.
Absolutely! I agree 100%. Our sinful actions can indeed make God look bad in the eyes of others, but that is not what keeps them from coming to Christ. What keeps them from coming to Christ is their sinful nature and rebellion against the light, a nature that was hostile to God before our actions and in spite of them. The problem lies in man's nature, not in what happens outside of him. This is what so much of contemporary Christianity fails to realize.

Quote:
By living out the true Christian life, people can see what Christianity is all about. People can see how God works in our lives and how He changes us. It is through actions, not just words, that we spread God’s love.
Well, the Bible says that our good deeds glorify God (Matthew5:16). In addition, I do want to point out that "spreading God's love" by actions is not the equivalent of communicating the gospel. Living a life that glorifies God--"spreading God's love," if you will--is never spoken of as a method of communicating the gospel message. The apostles preached Christ. Yes, they lived lives of holiness, but they did this because they loved God and were godly men, not as an evangelistic strategy.
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Old 01-28-2010, 02:50 PM
 
702 posts, read 812,726 times
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This is a post from my blog (http://grammateus.wordpress.com
that I thought I'd insert here to generate some discussion.

Many Christians wonder how they should share their faith. Many try to provide an answer by quoting worldly expressions, such as “Actions speak louder than words.” Although such sayings often contain truth and wisdom, the abundance of such extrabiblical answers is staggering. Browse through various Web sites, blogs and Christian forums that attempt to address this topic, and you will almost certainly see a pattern emerge: Very little scripture, if any, is consulted in the attempt to provide an answer to this question. Must we really go outside the Bible so often? This is ironic in evangelical culture in particular, where the Bible is enthusiastically held forth as the final, infallible authority on all matters pertaining to Christian faith and practice, and where one would expect the Bible to play a prominent guiding role in any discussion about evangelism.


Scripture presents the gospel as the power (Romans 1:16) and the means (1 Cor. 1:17-25) through which God saves people. On the contrary, the Bible does not indicate one’s actions as the means that God uses to give people faith and a saving knowledge of Christ. Jesus and the apostles centered their public ministry on the preaching of the word; their actions shone forth as a result of who they were, not because they were a strategy to win the lost. If you will, their actions were an afterthought to their primary function: to preach and instruct.


To answer the question of how to share one’s faith, it is helpful to answer a pair of other questions first:


1.) Is it possible for someone to be saved without hearing/reading/learning the gospel message?
2.) Is it possible for someone to be saved without observing a Christian’s godly life?


IMO, the answer to the first question is no, while the second question should get a yes answer. If I’m right about this, and it is impossible to be saved apart from learning the gospel message, while salvation is possible apart from observing the lives of Christians, then it follows that the gospel message is the essential, indispensable tool we must use to bring the knowledge of Christ to those who are not saved.


One of the most popular–and most incorrect–sayings is one that most of us have probably heard at one time or another: “Preach the gospel at all times, use words if necessary”–as if words were optional! They are not. In fact, the saying should be modified to read: “Preach the gospel at all times, use actions if necessary.” I cannot learn about who Christ is by observing the honesty, love or other virtuous behavior of Christians because people of other religions also can, and do, exhibit those same qualities.


This does not mean that we should feel free to communicate the gospel insensitively, obnoxiously or in any other way that would dishonor Christ. As J.I. Packer has wisely pointed out in his book Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God, the gospel message has enough offense all on its own without our adding our own bad behavior to it.
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:03 PM
 
7,788 posts, read 10,457,588 times
Reputation: 3392
[quote=Jremy;12650635]

Quote:
Originally Posted by SisterKat
Most of the time, atheists won’t listen to the words we speak about God. We must spread God’s love by actions not words.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy

Anyone who is not born again will not listen to our words. But why? It's because of their sinful nature. They love darkness rather than light, and so they avoid the light. If God does not use his own word to regenerate them--do you really think that your actions will do any better?
Thus far, June's goin' with SisterKat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy

Our sinful actions can indeed make God look bad in the eyes of others, but that is not what keeps them from coming to Christ. What keeps them from coming to Christ is their sinful nature and rebellion against the light, a nature that was hostile to God before our actions and in spite of them.
June's wondering how many atheists you've actually met.

June also wonders whether you have a "sinful nature."

June's wondering why the attitude towards atheists that --right out of the gate-- puts her down as 'hostile' and 'rebellious, let alone preferring darkness to light?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy

In addition, I do want to point out that "spreading God's love" by actions is not the equivalent of communicating the gospel. Living a life that glorifies God--"spreading God's love," if you will--is never spoken of as a method of communicating the gospel message.
You really want to get an atheist's attention? --Then you might want to re-think the above. If "spreading God's love" isn't somehow the equivalent to communicating the gospel, then this atheist has to wonder whether or not you are actually living the gospel.

--She's being honest with you...


Take gentle care.
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:28 PM
 
7,788 posts, read 10,457,588 times
Reputation: 3392
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy View Post

Many Christians wonder how they should share their faith. Many try to provide an answer by quoting worldly expressions, such as “Actions speak louder than words.”..... Must we really go outside the Bible so often? This is ironic in evangelical culture in particular, where the Bible is enthusiastically held forth as the final, infallible authority on all matters pertaining to Christian faith and practice, and where one would expect the Bible to play a prominent guiding role in any discussion about evangelism.
Refer to bolded portion above.

If you say (or quote) to June one thing, but aren't living it (doing it yourself via your actions towards her) then you have thereby (inadvertently) contributed to one's atheism.

Words fade away. How one interacts with and treats others does not fade away nearly as fast!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy

Scripture presents the gospel as the power (Romans 1:16) and the means (1 Cor. 1:17-25) through which God saves people.
To which this atheist would absolutely agree. (The operative word being "the gospel.")

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy

On the contrary, the Bible does not indicate one’s actions as the means that God uses to give people faith and a saving knowledge of Christ.
Oh yes it does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy

Jesus and the apostles centered their public ministry on the preaching of the word; their actions shone forth as a result of who they were, not because they were a strategy to win the lost. If you will, their actions were an afterthought to their primary function: to preach and instruct.
What is at the center of your OP/stance is the question as to what is and how one chooses to live their faith. --In short, the gospel.

If your actions are merely an "afterthought" in your life as a Christian, and you merely wish to preach to me, and instruct me, then it's self defeating.

You aren't going to facilitate 'saving' an atheist by what you are describing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy

If I’m right about this, and it is impossible to be saved apart from learning the gospel message, while salvation is possible apart from observing the lives of Christians, then it follows that the gospel message is the essential, indispensable tool we must use to bring the knowledge of Christ to those who are not saved.
At the risk of going way out on a limb here, the gospel is not just a bunch of words. The words are meaningless without the accompanying attitudes and actions behind them. --Beginning with the attitude behind those words.

(By the way, "words" are every bit "actions" as much as attitudes.) Yup.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy

I cannot learn about who Christ is by observing the honesty, love or other virtuous behavior of Christians
June adamantly disagrees. It is, in fact, the most important way by which you will ever possibly begin to get anyone's attention, such that they might possibly 'learn about who Christ is.'


Take gentle worded care.
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Old 01-28-2010, 07:30 PM
 
257 posts, read 367,361 times
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The gospel... is the power of GOD unto salvation. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of GOD.

From these two scriptures, we know the gospel must be preached/proclaimed.

But our conduct is very important also. For example elders must be men of good reputation in their community. Wives with unbelieving husbands must try to win him over with godly conduct. Our conduct must be good in all things.

We can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. It does not have to be one or the other. So let's do both with equal dedication.

Last edited by ForHimByHim; 01-28-2010 at 07:43 PM..
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Old 01-28-2010, 08:49 PM
 
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JRemy . . .Moderator cut: deleted as rude
NOTHING in your view comports with the two most important commandments of Christ . . . "love God and EACH OTHER"

Moderator cut: deleted

Last edited by june 7th; 01-29-2010 at 05:13 AM..
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Old 01-28-2010, 09:03 PM
 
257 posts, read 367,361 times
Reputation: 63
Quote:
Originally Posted by MysticPhD View Post
JRemy . . .Moderator cut: Orphaned NOTHING in your view comports with the two most important commandments of Christ . . . "love God and EACH OTHER" Moderator cut: Orphaned
Jremy is a Christian. He loves the preaching of the gospel. It takes time to grow as a Christian to full maturity. He did not deny the value of good works. Give him a break and go work on your own obviously questionable manners.

Last edited by june 7th; 01-29-2010 at 05:14 AM..
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:28 AM
 
702 posts, read 812,726 times
Reputation: 88
[quote=june 7th;12657439]
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jremy View Post
June's wondering how many atheists you've actually met.
That's irrelevant to this thread. My experience with atheists, or lack thereof, is not the final deciding factor. The Bible is.

Quote:
June also wonders whether you have a "sinful nature."


I do--just as much as you.
Quote:
June's wondering why the attitude towards atheists that --right out of the gate-- puts her down as 'hostile' and 'rebellious, let alone preferring darkness to light?
June, as a Christian my final, infallible authority is the Bible, as you've read in another post of mine. The reason I said what I did about loving darkness is because that is what the Bible says about us apart from grace:

"This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God." (John 3:19-21, NASB)

Also this:

"For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.(Romans 5:5-7, NASB)

Quote:
You really want to get an atheist's attention?
Actually, I don't need to worry about that because I don't believe that God needs me to market the gospel to atheists. He is quite capable of getting their attention. My job as the believer is to proclaim the gospel to them.

Quote:
--Then you might want to re-think the above. If "spreading God's love" isn't somehow the equivalent to communicating the gospel, then this atheist has to wonder whether or not you are actually living the gospel.


June, if spreading God's love is the equivalent to communicating the gospel, then the gospel is no longer a verbal message with specific content but simply a set of actions that we perform toward others. The fact is that it is a message that must be communicated and taught by the Church verbally. Actions, no matter how nice or loving, will not tell you a thing about God, sin, Christ, the atonement, faith, repentance, and other crucial matters.

Quote:
She's being honest with you...
I'm glad that you value honesty. You won't mind, then, if I am very direct with you in this thread.
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:50 AM
 
702 posts, read 812,726 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by june 7th View Post
Refer to bolded portion above.

If you say (or quote) to June one thing, but aren't living it (doing it yourself via your actions towards her) then you have thereby (inadvertently) contributed to one's atheism.
I agree with most of this, but it's all beside the point. The issue in this thread is not whether we should or should not love our neighbor. The issue is whether our actions, apart from the gospel message, can bring the knowledge of salvation to people. The Bible emphatically says NO.

Quote:
Words fade away. How one interacts with and treats others does not fade away nearly as fast!
Our words may fade away, but the Word of God is imperishable:

"for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God. For,
"ALL FLESH IS LIKE GRASS,
AND ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.
THE GRASS WITHERS,
AND THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,
BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER "
And this is the word which was preached to you." 1 Peter 1:23-25)


Quote:
To which this atheist would absolutely agree. (The operative word being "the gospel.")
Absolutely! And that gospel is a specific message:

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." (1 Cor. 15:3-4)

Quote:
On the contrary, the Bible does not indicate one’s actions as the means that God uses to give people faith and a saving knowledge of Christ.

Quote:
Oh yes it does.
Please show me where it says so.


Quote:
If your actions are merely an "afterthought" in your life as a Christian, and you merely wish to preach to me, and instruct me, then it's self defeating.
Perhaps it seems that way from our day-to-day interactions with people, but the Gospel is the power of God for salvation for everyone who believes, so we are talking here about a message that transcends ordinary human messages.

Quote:
You aren't going to facilitate 'saving' an atheist by what you are describing.
I will not facilitate saving anyone. God does the saving and the regenerating through the proclaimed message. That is what the Bible teaches. It is not the way we naturally think, though.


Quote:
At the risk of going way out on a limb here, the gospel is not just a bunch of words. The words are meaningless without the accompanying attitudes and actions behind them. --Beginning with the attitude behind those words.
I agree with this to a point. If I preach the gospel to someone on the street and then, a minute later, curse and scream at somebody for bumping into me, that will bring shame on the name of Christ. And yes, you are getting a bit off-topic: The question is not whether we should decide between words OR actions.

Quote:
I cannot learn about who Christ is by observing the honesty, love or other virtuous behavior of Christians.

Quote:
June adamantly disagrees. It is, in fact, the most important way by which you will ever possibly begin to get anyone's attention, such that they might possibly 'learn about who Christ is.'
June, this all sounds right if we limit our discussion to human experiences and interactions. On that level, you are right. But as I said above, we are talking about something that transcends human interaction. It doesn't mean that human interaction doesn't play a part--it does--but what it means is that God's gospel is his power for salvation. It is through the Word of God that people are born again:

"In the exercise of His will He brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits among His creatures." (James 1:18)

"[Y]ou have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God." (1 Peter 1:23)

June, I'd like to ask you this: If a Christian showed you all kinds of love, generosity, compassion, and tenderness, but did not ever tell you the gospel message, would you know any of the following from that person:

What God is like: His holiness
Who Christ is: His virgin birth, his sinless life, his death and resurrection
What faith is
What repentance is
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Old 01-29-2010, 07:54 AM
 
702 posts, read 812,726 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ForHimByHim View Post
The gospel... is the power of GOD unto salvation. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of GOD.

From these two scriptures, we know the gospel must be preached/proclaimed.

But our conduct is very important also. For example elders must be men of good reputation in their community. Wives with unbelieving husbands must try to win him over with godly conduct. Our conduct must be good in all things.

We can walk and chew bubble gum at the same time. It does not have to be one or the other. So let's do both with equal dedication.
Well said. Words and actions are not being pitted against each other as if they were mutually exclusive.
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