Starting spiritual conversations about sin
The gospel is God’s “delivery system” to create faith in the hearts of unbelievers. All believers are set apart or commissioned to be a part of the delivery process. It is only through this “means of grace” that a person receives the full benefits of Christ’s finished work on the cross.
God’s commands for all people serves an important role in evangelism. His law exposes the hearts and souls of those who are separated from God. His law is a means of diagnosis to help people recognize their utter need for help. It reveals that all the problems in this world are symptoms of a bigger problem… a sinner’s need to be rescued.
How can a believer enter a conversation about sin? How can a believer build a platform that allows them to safely transition to rescuing a person who is on a slippery slope to eternal destruction?
Promises to prepare believers to be witnesses
There are powerful words associated with remaining in Christ that are not to be taken lightly. Words of promise and ramifications. Words of promise and boldness.
In an uncompromising world, there are absolute promises that requires an enormous sacrifice.
Jesus makes promises for all people. For those who trust in Christ and remain in his love, promises turn into reality.
With a careful reflection of the words of John 15, we can discover seven important truths that a believer can count on. These promises help prepare us to be his witnesses in today’s world.
#1 Believers are already clean!
“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3)
Believers are clean not based on what we have done or can do for Christ, but the powerful claims of His Word.
The Lord lovingly tends to those who remain in Him. He disciplines those he loves and delights in pruning branches in our lives that are not bearing fruit. The act of pruning is often painful, but necessary for believers so that they may bear fruit in greater number and higher quality.
#2 Bearing fruit is a promise that believers can count on.
“If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” (John 15:5)
A healthy tree bears good fruit. It’s a natural response because that’s what fruit trees were created to do.
Faithful believers who remain in Christ bear good fruit because that is what they were created to do. The acts of faithfulness are focused on the “remaining” rather than the “doing”. This means remaining steadfastly in his Word so that a believer can be a healthy tree in Christ. This includes trusting God’s promises when life is sunny or stormy and that God is planting them right where they need. He provides the right people at the right time to pick the low-hanging fruit from a believer so they can “taste and see that the Lord is good.”
#3 Obedience is a wonderful opportunity for believers to experience the presence of Christ.
“If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (v. 10)
Obedience does not affect a believer’s status with Christ, but introduces His presence to the world.
#4 Jesus claims all believers to be His friends.
“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (v. 15)
Perfect love is found only in Christ. Believers have no greater friend than Christ. The greatest demonstration of perfect love and perfect friendship is when Christ laid down his life for us. Isn’t that amazing?
#5 Jesus chose all believers to be his friends.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you..” (v.16)
Jesus picked us out from the crowd. He taps us on our shoulder and wants to be associated with us. He is not embarrassed to be seen with us. He listens to us intently. He cares for us passionately. He is perfectly trustworthy and forever has our back.
Jesus separates us from the world and leads those who remain in him down the narrow road and through the small gate to be with him forever.
#6 Because Jesus has chosen all believers to be his friends, they are going to be hated by the world.
“..you do not belong to the world, but I have chose you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” (v. 19)
Rejection hurts. We desire to belong. We long to be liked, accepted, acknowledged, and befriended. By trusting in Christ and remaining in his love, believers are going to be marked, persecuted and hated. Believers ought to accept this promise from Christ and not be surprised when it happens.
Despite the tugs to be accepted, loved – or feel like you belong – by the world, remember that nothing in this world can come close to what Christ will deliver in heaven. Remain in him.
#7 A believer’s life in Christ is a testimony for Christ.
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.” (v. 26-27)
Always be prepared and ready to provide an answer for the hope we have in Christ. When believers step out in faith to share the gospel with others, they share the words of Christ. The words will not be their own, but they will come from the Spirit of truth, our Advocate, who lives and reigns in them.
Fruits of the Spirit that display itself in our life in Christ are produced from the Spirit. Trusting Christ’s promises prepares us to be his witnesses.
Testifying the truth of Christ can only be produced from the Spirit of truth who gives us the words to say. Remaining in Christ’s promises prepares us to be his witnesses.
Praise and Proclaim updates:
I had the privilege and joy to present at the recent WELS Staff Ministers Conference held at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church in Niles, IL (April 25-27). After the presentation, it was fun to lead over thirty WELS staff ministers canvassing to verbally proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ in the surrounding neighborhoods. Even though teams were only given a window of forty-five minutes to an hour, we rejoice that the Lord opened enough doors for us to plant the seeds of the gospel 75 times. We pray that the training may serve to enhance the gospel ministries of these faithful servants who are serving in various capacities through the U.S.
On April 10th, I had the privilege to lead training at E-Day Action Day at Martin Luther College in New Ulm, MN. It was impressive to see the number of students arrive even though the canvassing component of the training had to be cancelled due to the severe winter weather. (see link “The New Ulm Adventure“) Even though the weather forecasted another winter storm, the Lord allowed the rescheduled canvassing to take place on Saturday, April 28th. Twenty-five MLC students went out and knocked on over seven hundred doors in New Ulm and verbally proclaimed the gospel to 157 souls. During the debriefing time, the students were grateful for the experience and energized by the number of positive responses they received at the door. May the Lord bless this experience and enhance the student’s training to be future called servants.
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A way to begin a conversation about God
Since there are so many false connotations and misunderstandings about God, starting spiritual conversations with unbelievers can be difficult and frustrating. Like a car spinning its wheels in the snow, great energy is invested and you feel completely stuck.
How can you begin to have a meaningful spiritual conversation? How can you gain traction in your discussions instead of turning them into heated debates?
It starts by understanding that a person’s response could largely be based on how they perceive God rather than how God is revealed in the Bible.
Proclaiming the gospel in Chattanooga
The greatest source of peace for those who trust in God’s promises is that our Savior is a living hope. That could be a great name for a new church. And I think that Rev. Eric Melso would agree.
He should know because he talked to hundreds of people in Chattanooga, TN who were given a chance to pick the name of the new church. He and his wife, Jenn, knocked on doors and sponsored booths at community events. The people they met even voted on the new church logo. The new mission start became Living Hope Lutheran Church and held its first worship service last fall at a popular movie theatre in Hamilton Place.
With great anticipation, Praise and Proclaim Ministries arrived during Palm Sunday weekend to launch an outreach initiative and provide training for members to learn how to plant seeds of the gospel through proclaiming his Word.
The New Ulm Adventure
Would you go canvassing in a blizzard?
That was the dilemma facing Martin Luther College. Praise and Proclaim was invited to come to New Ulm on April 10th in conjunction with E-Day Action Day to provide evangelism training for students. The invitation to participate was also given to members from the two local WELS congregations — St. Paul and St. John’s Lutheran Church. A major component of the training included going out door-to-door to proclaim the message of salvation throughout New Ulm.
The challenge was a major winter storm expecting to arrive at the same time. We knew it was coming. It was just a matter of when and how fierce it would be.
We asked the Lord to provide a window of opportunity to go out and put our training into action, but this was going to be his call.
Praise and Proclaim launches outreach initiative in Wausau WI
Records are meant to be broken.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries had the privilege of partnering with St. Peter Lutheran Church in Schofield, WI to launch our forty-third outreach initiative since our gospel ministry started in 2016.
Established in 1902, St. Peter Lutheran in Schofield (mysaintpeter.org) has over eight hundred baptized members and a K-8 school. To continue to reach out to the community, the congregation established Key to Life Christian Childcare and Community Center in nearby Weston.
Proclaiming the mystery of God
Everybody loves a good mystery.
From solving crimes to finishing crossword puzzles, uncovering truth is a human pursuit to satisfy curiosity.
Some mysteries seem beyond our capabilities to understand. We gaze and marvel at the latest images from deep space or try to comprehend all the complexities of the human brain.
How we process what we do not know can affect the bigger questions in life.
Who is God? Why am I here? What is my purpose in life?
Praise and Proclaim launches outreach initiative in Riverside CA
With extreme snowy conditions blanketing much of the northern half of the U.S., arriving to warm, sunny California is not a bad place to be in February. With temperatures in the 60’s all week, it was a lovely time to go outside and proclaim the message of salvation.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries received an invitation to come to Crown of Life Lutheran Church to launch an outreach initiative. This multi-church ministry has four campuses in Riverside, Corona, Victorville, and Yucaipa. This initiative was being held in conjunction with the semi-annual western region board of home missions meeting held in Riverside.