Does an evil spirit know your name?
Fear is a common denominator that prohibits a Christian from sharing the good news of free salvation in Christ. When examined, fears usually come from the result of being inward-focused instead of outward-driven. We tend to think inwardly, “What will this person think of me?” instead of outwardly, “Are they in spiritual danger from the consequences of sin?”
But, there is something even more unsettling that goes beyond our self when sharing God’s Word with others.
An evil spirit will know your name.
The Apostle Paul was preaching the resurrection of Christ in Ephesus to both the Jews and Gentiles. Over the course of two years, all the Jews and Greeks heard the word of the Lord throughout the province of Asia.
During this time, Paul was healing the sick and casting out demons. A few Jews decided to mimic Paul and attempted to do the same thing by casting out demons in the name of Jesus Christ.
“One day, the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15)
The evil spirits then overpowered the two men causing them to run away naked and bleeding. The news of this event spread rapidly and the Lord used it for good.
“In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power.” (Acts 19:20)
Unbelief is a result of spiritual blindness and a hardened heart. Only through the power of God’s Word can the blind see and softened hearts can trust His promises.
In this world, we are cloaked from the reality of a spiritual dimension that we cannot see or feel. There are forces at work that we cannot perceive or understand. They all are contending for a prize — the souls of God’s creation.
Conversion is a great victory. One of the greatest victories recorded in the Bible is the dramatic conversion of Saul from Tarsus. Something like scales fell from the eyes of Saul.
This suggests there is something other-worldly that is associated with conversion. It’s a victory that causes celebration throughout the hosts of heaven. Names are meticulously recorded in the book of life.
A human soul is a prized possession in the spiritual realm. And those Christians who share the message of salvation with other souls position themselves as a target, a strategic front, a point of attack between spiritual forces.
And you will be identified by evil spirits. They will know your name.
Here are three suggestions when sharing God’s Word:
- With great joy and confidence, be a willing participant in the spiritual battle. For He who is with you is much stronger than the enemy. Victory has already been assured.
- Put on the full armor of God (Eph. 6:11). Power and strength comes only through His Word.
- Pray continually. There is power in our prayers that we cannot fathom. We pray because God tells us to. Pray specifically for a lost soul and ask the Lord for the strength and the opportunity to share His Word.
Three important steps to begin sharing God’s Word with Mormons
God plants the desire in every Christian heart to share the good news of salvation with others. Quite often, we just don’t know where to begin.
This can be especially true if we have been blessed with Mormon friends and neighbors — or have suffered the heartache of family members joining the LDS Church.
To properly share the message of the consequences of sin and the wonderful message of free grace takes an investment of time, prayer, and study. There are no shortcuts. Without preparation it can be unsettling when opportunities unexpectedly arise. As a result;
- Instead of proclaiming God’s Word, we remain silent.
- Instead of receiving joy of being God’s messenger, we feel convicted.
Truth in Love Ministry is encouraging Christians to be powerful messengers of God’s Word by using a specific approach. But how do I begin? The answer may be far less difficult than you think.
Based on experience, the adventure of being God’s messenger begins with three important steps.
STEP ONE: The power of prayer
Prayer is a means God provides to confess our sins and to remember the fact that he is ultimately in control. Prayer also helps us to remember that the power and the strength comes from God’s Word! Too often we tend to dwell on our selves when facing the prospect of being God’s messenger. When we admit our weaknesses, God will provide the strength!
Begin with prayer and express to God your willingness to be his messenger. Begin praying for the Mormon in your life and ask for an opportunity to share and the words to say. It’s amazing how the Lord provides! Trust in him “who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Eph. 3:20)
STEP TWO: Love builds a bridge
Truth coincides with trust. To evaluate truth, a person will largely depend on the source. In today’s world, people are inundated with information that is largely biased and exploited. To sift through all the information requires a certain amount of skill and discernment. Perhaps now more than ever, a trusted source for truth is a valued commodity.
Before sharing God’s Word, invest time to build a bridge of trust to show that a Christian can be a source of truth. This can be done by consistently displaying sincere love and care for that soul God has placed in your life. Then you can gently take the Mormon by the hand and point to God’s Word as our sole source for truth.
Here are some normal, everyday things people can do to engage people around them. In doing so, we can “gospel intentional” while prayerfully watching and listening for opportunities to boldly and humbly share our faith.
In your neighborhood:
* Bring them a plate of cookies or baked goods.
* Get to know their birthdays and send a card and/or a small present.
* Find common interests and inquire about the well-being of their family.
* Offer to provide a meal for their family on a weekday evening.
* Spend time chatting when you see them outside – get to know them.
At your work place:
* Make it a daily practice to speak or write a note of encouragement.
* Offer to cover for them when they need time off for something.
* Be friendly, chat at the water cooler or in the break room.
It never ceases to surprise us how genuine acts of kindness by Christians have a profound effect on Mormons.
Great Resource: “Simple Ways to be Missional” produced by VergeNetwork.org.
STEP THREE: Sprinkle God’s Word.
Even after time has been invested in building a relationship of trust, we still sometimes struggle in taking that next step to verbally share our faith. You can start by sprinkling God’s Word into your everyday conversations.
When going door-to-door in Provo and Salt Lake City, we often had only a few minutes to share the gospel. We learned the importance of being succinct while at the same time piquing the curiosity of a Mormon. Declaring that we are already perfect in Christ was one way of doing that.
With a little forethought, you can be gospel intentional in a everyday conversation. Share something that is sincerely meaningful to you.
For example, you could say, “Yesterday at church my pastor gave such a wonderful message that brought me such great comfort and peace. He talked about how I’m 100% forgiven in Jesus right now. It was exactly what I needed to hear.” Stop and wait for your Mormon friend to respond or ask a question. If not, that’s okay. The conversation will move on. Yet, a seed of God’s Word has been planted.
If a Mormon is already questioning their faith, your comment will have a lasting impact. Sometimes, when you least expect it, they will ask you a question. Then, you will be ready to explain what Christ has already done for us.
Planting the seeds of God’s Word does not have to be difficult. We are simply messengers who share what we already know to be true.
More Words of Encouragement: “Sharing God’s Word means trusting the power of the message not ourselves”
For more suggestions, subscribe to the monthly Truth in Love Ministry email updates by clicking here.
This revised article first appeared in the Fall 2013 newsletter of Truth in Love Ministry. To receive a copy either send an email to email@example.com or subscribe here.
Four key discoveries in overcoming fear in evangelism
Chuckling in your face.
Wincing in disapproval.
Polite smiles with a faraway look in their eyes.
God’s Word has that effect on people.
Negative reactions received when placing ourselves on a limb can cause us to think twice when future opportunities present themselves.
Gifted evangelists never seem to get rattled.
Fearless. Bold. They readily talk about their faith with anyone in their midst.
But many Christians are reluctant and twinge in embarrassment at the prospect of sharing the message of salvation in Christ. When golden moments to share our faith float away in full sail, reluctant witnesses remain on the shores of guilt and watch those moments fade off into the distance.
What causes a person to dive off the high board of their own inadequacy and into the pool of being God’s ambassador?
What drives a soul to jump off the ledge of their own fears of rejection and share the good news of forgiveness, redemption, and peace?
Are we like Gideon, demanding a sign before we step out in faith?
Are we like Jonah, who think our new next door neighbors reside in Nineveh and stay away?
I wonder how the Apostle Paul would answer these questions?
He understood weakness. In fact, his weakness was a source of great strength.
“For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
He understood what it meant to be timid. He confesses that he is timid when meeting people face-to-face. Perhaps Paul was not gregarious, outgoing, or an extrovert — all characteristics we consider as witnessing giants.
Paul appears humble, yet bold. Resolute, yet gentle. Persistent, yet discerning.
The reactions to Paul were not limited to sharp criticism or rebuke. He was chased, imprisoned, beaten, and stoned. He said, “Three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a day and night in the open sea.” All for the cause of sharing God’s Word.
Sharing God’s Word is not a personality trait, but a calm conviction that what God says is true.
People come to the knowledge of truth through the power of God’s Word — and he uses us to point to it.
Only by the grace of God a soul is saved from the consequences of sin — and he uses us to transmit its message.
God uses jars of clay to further his purposes. He tells us to go, teach, and baptize all nations. And our peace comes from taking God at His Word when he says, “And I will be with you always.”
Here are four key discoveries in overcoming fear in evangelism:
1. Only after we jump off the high dive of our own inadequacy, we discover that Christ has always been there to catch us. Like a little child jumping off the side of the pool we fall into our father’s arms.
2. Only after jumping off the ledge of our own fears of rejection, we discover that we were simply meeting a divine appointment — one pre-arranged by God.
3. Negative reactions by people are not to be taken at face value. It’s not personal. Their soil was simply not ready for them to respond well.
4. Fear is a normal response. Sharing God’s Word is not a natural. It does take courage. It does require a measure of boldness. Yet, in that sharing, we discover that the sharing no longer becomes about us, but Christ in us.
That is the strength that comes from weakness! And to regularly experience that power and presence most often comes from sharing God’s Word with others.
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“My daughter became a Mormon nine months ago” — A Mother’s Ache for a Lost Child
The depth a parent will go to find a lost child. The pain, guilt, and desperation dominate our thoughts and emotions.
But what if the lost child is living in your own home?
Letters we receive from Christian parents whose children have turned to the false teachings of Mormonism breaks our hearts. Filled with anguish, they reach out to us for prayer, hope, and encouragement. And it seems that the vast majority of these conversions have come through dating relationships. A good example is a letter we received this past week;
“To whom it may concern,
My daughter, who will be 21 in February, was raised in a strong Christian home and was a leader in our High School department and a worship leader in High School and for our main church services. She has gone three times on mission trips through our church. Her senior year she started dating a Mormon. She hung around her Mormon friend and her gay friend and we thought they were just hanging out – the 3 amigos.
To make a long story short she became a Mormon nine months ago just prior to this boy going on his 2 year mission. She is a star struck girl and his family, ward, bishop and friends have all enveloped her into their church. The idea of being married for eternity to the one you love is quite a dream.
She has always been a girl of high morals and has never drank or had sex. Unfortunately, I feel that the whole appearance and works aspect has enticed her along with this boy and his family.
My husband has done extensive study on what the Mormon Church believes and he presented this to my daughter to no avail. He has read how to “Speak the Truth in Love to Mormons” and we have decided to just love her and she continues to live with us.
Many times she’ll be discussing something that was brought up at work and she’ll tell us what she said and we will say, “You know that is not what the Mormons believe.” In her mind she believes that Jesus died for her sins and she is saved by grace. So now her beliefs are intermixed with what she is being taught.
She doesn’t truly know what they believe and they only indoctrinate you a little at a time. She may be leaving for Salt Lake in January to some community college that promises an Associate degree in 2 years owned and run by the Mormon Church. We are not funding this but she has told us that there is plenty of money available for new converts.
We have released her to God and pray for his Holy Spirit to be at work in her life and that he will do whatever it takes to get her out of Mormonism. We choose to love her no matter what just as we would love her if she was a lesbian or a drug addict etc.
Keep her in your prayers please. She has been such a good kid and a blessing to us as a daughter. Keep us also in prayer also that we would be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance in how and when and what to say in the future as the opportunity arises. Thank you.”
At Truth in Love Ministry, our hearts ache with hers.
To comfort, encourage, and to pray for her, we are reminded of a story Jesus told; He said,
“Suppose one of you has 100 sheep and loses one of them. Won’t he leave the 99 in the open country? Won’t he go and look for the one lost sheep until he finds it? When he finds it, he will joyfully put it on his shoulders and go home. Then he will call his friends and neighbors together. He will say, ‘Be joyful with me. I have found my lost sheep.’” (Luke 15:3-6)
We can pray for this daughter along with many others like her:
“My Shepherd LORD, Thank you for searching for Your lost sheep. Thank you for not turning Your back. Just as You never give up on me, let me not give up praying for her lost daughter and those like her. May her love for You be restored. May Your Word that’s been planted in her heart since birth shine the light of truth on what she is now being taught in Mormonism. May she see Your truth. Give her the courage and strength to walk away from any relationship that takes her away from You. And give comfort, encouragement, and hope to her parents – let them know that You love their daughter even more than they do and will never give up on her. LORD, do this for all parents who have children who have strayed from You – You are the only One that can bring peace and be that refuge of hopefulness.”
This letter and prayer appeared our weekly prayer alerts at Truth in Love Ministry. If you would like to receive requests like this, please subscribe to be a part of the Truth in Love Ministry prayer family by clicking here.
5 ways to get a person to ask questions about faith
Asking questions about faith reveals an inward desire of the heart to know God and be right with Him.
In cross-cultural ministry, a significant step is achieved when you get a person to ask you a question about Christ and His Word.
I have learned the hard way that you can’t force the teaching of God’s Word. Glazed over eyes and polite smiles were customary to these untimely approaches. Building a bridge of trust is very helpful before ears become attentive, hearts become open, and questions are asked.
The Apostle Paul seemed to understand this approach.
Considered the greatest missionary the world has ever known, Paul took time to understand his audience. He understood the importance of a question asked.
Upon entering Athens, Paul brought with him a buzz that captured the attention of thought influencers, and his teachings pricked their curious ears.
“Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want would like to know what they mean.” (Acts 17:18c-20)
Paul’s message centered on the gospel of Christ. His words rested on the power behind the Word. Reason would not win the day, but simply open the door to a strange and mysterious truth that defies human logic.
But more importantly, Paul got the Athenians to ask him a question.
God works in unusual ways. When God directs us to a field, or an unbeliever into our lives, we tend to see the weeds of disinterest. We don’t see what seeds that have already been planted.
But God does. And he sees a field ripe for harvest.
There are people who are searching for truth and want to ask questions, but are not sure who to ask or who to trust. Be that person they can trust.
Here are 5 ways to get a person to ask a question about our faith:
* Reveal your sincere concern through careful listening.
[Lending an ear helps build that bridge.] * Discover their particular stresses or concerns.
[Ask questions.] * Discern opportunities as divine appointments
[Always be ready for an answer.] * Provide “teasers” that touch on their stresses or concerns.
[Think of radio or television shows that provide teasers to keep you listening after commercial break. In the same way, think of something you can say about God’s Word that is both meaningful to you and addresses their concerns. Then, stop and wait for their question, which invites you to continue.] * Be patient, prayerful, and persistent.
[Remember that God is with you.]
The greatest and most fulfilling adventure of being a willing servant of God is when he uses us to share the gospel message with others. It’s one of the best ways to exercise our faith, and we will be blessed for it.
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Three short tips on sharing God’s Word with a friend or neighbor
Here are three tips on how to share God’s Word with a friend or neighbor:
- There is power in prayer
Remember where the power and the strength lies in sharing God’s Word. Too often we tend to dwell on our lack of knowledge or fears of witnessing. Instead, focus on God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is the means God provides to confess our sins and remind ourselves who is ultimately in control. Begin praying for the person in your life and ask for opportunities, strength, and guidance. It’s amazing how the Lord provides!
- Love builds a bridge
Truth tends to coincide with trust. To consider truth, a person will largely depend on the source. For Christians, that source is God’s Word. Time is needed to build a bridge of trust by providing sincere love and care for that soul God has placed in your life. By sharing what Christ has already done, we can gently take them by the hand and help cross the bridge of the true gospel together.
- Sprinkle God’s Word in everyday conversations
How can I begin engaging a soul with the true gospel? Sprinkle God’s Word in your everyday conversations. Share what you learned at church on Sunday. For example, you can say, “Yesterday at church my pastor gave such a wonderful message that brought me such great comfort. He talked about forgiveness during Bible study and how I can have 100% confidence that my sins are forgiven. It was exactly what I needed to hear.”
Planting the seeds of God’s Word is not difficult. We simply share what we already know to be true.
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God’s grace extends from the most innocent of hands.
In his profound mercy, the Lord will use unsuspecting circumstances to lead and guide souls to the truth of the gospel. He can even use an eleven year old boy like myself and a simple invitation to his piano recital.
My mother was a piano teacher. Naturally, it was expected that I take piano lessons. Thought I grumbled and complained to get up extra early on a school day to practice, I knew there was no way out.
I complained about this to my best friend’s grandmother, who I called Grandma Hawes. She lived next door to my friend in a small one bedroom house. A retired school teacher and in her early 80’s, she just smiled and encouraged me to keep practicing. “Someday,” she said, “I will appreciate it.”
Weeks later, while my friend and I were playing outside her yard, Grandma Hawes came out to tend to her roses and inquired about my piano lessons. I told her that I was preparing for an upcoming spring recital and wasn’t too excited about the prospect. Without giving much thought, I invited her to come along.
This year’s spring recital happened to be at a small Lutheran church that had a grand piano in its sanctuary. My mother knew the church secretary and received permission to conduct the spring recital on a Sunday evening.
The big night arrived and I was shocked to see a familiar face in the back row. Always prim and proper, there sat Grandma Hawes with her familiar shock of white hair. She actually accepted my invitation and was probably more shocked than I that she drove to my recital and was sitting in a small padded pew. It was the first time in over fifty years that she had stepped inside a church.
As I grew older, I didn’t see my friend as much, nor Grandma Hawes. Upon graduating from high school, my parents held an open house in my honor and invited all of our neighbors and friends.
Towards the end of the evening, a final knock came at the door. I opened the door and there stood Grandma Hawes. She had grown older and was now using a walker. My friend’s parents had driven her down the street to my house and stood sheepishly behind her. Grandma Hawes had firmly insisted that she come to my open house.
But that was something different about her.
With a wide smile and an expression of sheer joy, she reached out her hands to grab mine. “I want to thank you, David,” Grandma Hawes exclaimed, “for inviting me to your piano recital.” Her eyes began to glisten with tears. “Afterwards, I stood in the foyer of the church and something caught my eye on the bulletin board. It looked intriguing, so I came back to that church the following Sunday. And I haven’t missed a Sunday since. I have you to thank for that, David.”
Raised in a family that only went to church twice a year, I didn’t know nor grasp the significance of what she was telling me. Feeling awkward, I simply smiled, nodded, and returned her warm handshake.
Grandma Hawes came to faith and was baptized at that small Lutheran Church. Within a year after my open house, the Lord called her home to heaven.
An invitation from a boy to attend a piano recital at a church. Harmless, unassuming, extended without much thought. Yet God used the most innocent of hands from an un-churched boy like myself to extend his grace and mercy.
I came to know the Lord while a freshman in college and look forward to seeing Grandma Hawes in heaven. I can already see her warm eyes of understanding, love and sheer thankfulness. I truly believe she was praying for me.
And I get to return her thanks with eyes glistening with tears.
Our Christian faith, as Paul attests, rests on the certainty that Christ has risen. The true gospel message centers on Christ’s completed work on the cross and the victory assured to us by his resurrection. Grace bestowed. Faith alone. These are the words that resonate during Holy Week.
This will not be the Easter message that Mormons will hear this week.
The celebration of Easter is downplayed in the Mormon Church and there is no attention given to Good Friday. Instead, like most teachings of the LDS Church, attention is given to the works of human beings rather than the works of Jesus Christ. In a recent message reflecting on Easter, President Thomas Monson, the current living prophet of the LDS Church, stated, “So that we might have every chance of success, He provided a Savior, who would suffer and die for us.”**
Mormonism teaches that life begins in a person’s pre-existence as a spirit child begotten by Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother. The purpose of life on earth is to obtain mortal bodies so that people may experience a time of testing to prove themselves and qualify for what God has prepared for us in the heavenly realm. According to Mormon doctrine, Jesus Christ came to this earth to mark the way to perfection. He is Heavenly Father’s literal son who was born into mortal flesh. Through his life and the Atonement, he passed the test and has become a god. Now, Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ “beckon us to follow [him] and to become perfect, as They are perfect.”*
The emphasis on Christ’s suffering on our behalf is placed on Jesus’ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane rather than the cross. The pain and agony experienced in the Garden caused his pores to bleed and drained him of strength. The cross simply became the instrument of finalizing his physical death. For this reason, you will not see a cross at a Mormon church, nor do Mormons wear crosses as jewelry around their necks. As one Mormon told me, “If your brother were executed by a hangman’s noose, would you want to wear that as a reminder of his death?” Mormons maintain that as a result of Christ’s atonement, all people are “saved” from physical death and will be resurrected. Christ’s resurrection is simply an example of what will happen to us as a result of his Atonement. This act is the Mormon definition of Christ redeeming our soul. A Mormon will say, “He lives and we will too.” This phrase is the central point of a Mormon’s Easter celebration. Right here is an example of the true nature of Mormon doctrine. Jesus said, “Because I live, you also will live.” Mormons say the same thing. But what they mean by it and how they get to this point is totally different from what the Bible says about the redemptive work of Christ.
A Mormon’s Easter celebration will typically focus on the joy family members will receive by being reunited after death. It’s now up to us to obey God’s instructions to get to the right kingdom of glory. Throughout our mortal life, Heavenly Father has given us means to receive guidance for our “safe return” back to him in the celestial kingdom. “By obedience…, we can qualify for that ‘house’ spoken of by Jesus when He declared: ‘In my Father’s house are many mansions. … I go to prepare a place for you … that where I am, there ye may be also.” (ref. John 14:2-3) Mormons teach that Jesus’ atonement made it possible for all people to be resurrected. Our obedience will dictate how far our soul can eternally progress and qualify for heavenly rewards. Ultimately, the desire of Mormons is to have their entire family be together for eternity.
In one Easter message entitled, “He is Risen!”, President Monson shared a story of a fifteen year old boy who recently died from an illness. The boy’s father sent a message to Monson that included a photograph of his dying son on a hospital bed. His older brother was standing next to the bed holding his mission call. The caption beneath the photograph read, “Called to serve their missions together – on both sides of the veil.” It also included a letter from his sister who was serving an LDS mission in Argentina. She wrote, “I know that Jesus Christ lives, and because He lives, all of us, including our beloved brother, will live again too. .. We can take comfort in the sure knowledge we have that we have been sealed together as an eternal family. … If we do our very best to obey and do better in this life, we will see him again.”**
That is the Mormon understanding of Easter. Christ has done his part and by his perfect life and death, we have been given the opportunity to fulfill our eternal potential and become like him in every way. Monson concludes his Easter message by declaring, “I testify to you that He lives and that He awaits our triumphant return.”*
Now it’s up to us to be obedient till the end of our mortal life.
What a different gospel then the one presented in the Bible!
Because Jesus declared, “It is finished!”, and then rose triumphant on Eastern morning, we have full comfort, peace, and assurance. We know that our inheritance in heaven is secured, not by our works but by his great work on our behalf. Our rooms in the presence of God are finished, because our sins have been fully paid for by the perfect sacrifice of Christ.
“He is risen!” And so will we, because Jesus has done it all.
*”The Race of Life” by President Thomas S. Monson (April, 2012, General Conference)
**”He is Risen!” by President Thomas S. Monson (May, 2010, Liahona magazine)