A Voice in the
Wilderness

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                           *** PORTIONS ***

Re: Evangelism

Come to Me, all those laboring and being burdened, and I will give you
rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, because I am meek and
lowly in heart, "and you will find rest to your souls." [Jer. 6:16] For
My yoke [is] easy, and My burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30 LIT)

And seeing, Simon Peter fell at the knees of Jesus, saying, Depart from
me, for I am a sinful man, Lord. (Luke 5:8 LIT)

In these two passages we see two sides to evangelism. On one hand we
have a God of love, Who loved the world that He sent His Son, Jesus
Christ to save the world. (Jn3:16) On the other hand, we see sinful
man. Jesus said that when a person comes to Him (Jesus), it is at the
"drawing" of the Father. (Jn6:44) God did NOT PURPOSE that any should
perish. (2Pt3:9) God -wants- mankind to be saved. But when man actually
faces God, he sees his own sinfulness. When Peter saw God's power
through the miracle of the catch of fish, it was not his inclination to
"love Jesus" and to "accept Him into his heart" or to have "friendship
with Jesus".  He says, "depart from me...!" We don't belong in the same
space. We are so different.

Notice in Jesus' 'invitation' He invites people with "burdens". What is 
this burden? The 'load' of "sin". He doesn't invite, "I accept you just 
as you are." No! He says, Come with your sin, and I will unburden you 
of the load you now have, and give you a "light burden". I'm going to 
give you something different. Something new. (2Cor5:17) A new birth. 
(Jn3:3)

But what do we see today?  On the evening of Dec. 6,99 I happened to be 
flipping channels, and ran into what appeared to be an "infommercial" 
for recordings of George Beverly Shea... playing little clips, and 
giving the price and order information. I continued flipping channels, 
not finding anything else to watch, and came back and discovered it was 
actually a Billy Graham crusade from Indiana. So I watched a little, 
and also flipped channels in between. Out of the whole hour, only about 
20 minutes was devoted to the message.

After some things we've observed in the past about Graham, I was 
curious to see what his message might be like. See if it would be full 
of all sorts of ecumenism, one-world religion, and love for Catholics, 
Mormons, Hindus, etc. And you know what? He started to speak about 
"repentance". I was dumb-founded... and wondered, 'Is he actually going 
to preach the Gospel this time?' He went into what I remembered years 
ago as a child, hearing him on the radio, that repentance is a 
"changing of the mind". I was going one way, and now I'm going another.  
I was following sin and satan, and now I'm following God and 
righteousness. He even spoke of "hell", and it being where sinners go.  
(Something Luis Palau "doesn't like to talk about", so doesn't.) It was
actually -starting- to sound like a good message.

But guess what the basis of the invitation was?

One of the most-beloved songs Bev Shea wrote was "I'd Rather Have
Jesus". It's one of my favorites. I'd rather have Jesus than -anything-
of this ol' world.  This is a most beautiful song of a Christian's
testimony. This is what the Christian's heart consists of. I'm sick of 
this world... I have Jesus. Jesus is all the world to me. All the 
wealth, fame, fortune is nothing compared to having Jesus. The most 
beautiful sunset, the pretty lilly... nothing, when compared to the 
beauty of Jesus Christ.

The basic gist of the invitation was, "Wouldn't you -rather- have 
Jesus, too?" Like making choices: shall I choose the red car, or the 
green SUV? Laptop or desktop? Do I want a BigMac, or Fish Fillet?  Do 
you want fries with that?  How about a Coke, too? Or, like most 
evangelistic messages today, how about a "Happy Meal?" Well, I'm living 
this life, and it's kinda not-always so great.  OK, if I also take
Jesus into my life, my life will get "better". And that 'repentance' he 
was talking about... yes, I can change my life around and start being a 
"better person". [Ed: see why some object to preaching about repentance 
as though it were a "work"?  They think it's a work, because they heard 
it defined as such from people like BG.]

What's missing from all of this?

Memories from my childhood on the mission field: a fellow-missionary 
chalk-talk artist came to 'our' area for a week of children's meetings. 
And the place was 'packed' every night. Japanese back then were really 
into art-type things, and Carol Brannon was 'good'. Toward the end of
the week I remember this one particular 'invitation'. "Everybody who
wants to be a Christian, please raise your hands." -EVERYBODY- in the
room raised their hands. Everybody, except one. The visiting
missionaries, of course, were 'rejoicing' at the 'response'.

That "one" who didn't raise his hand was -me-. The children right 
around me, as I was sitting in amongst them, turned to me and asked if
I didn't want to be a Christian. And I replied, "I don't need to
-become- one because I already am a Christian." At 9-10 yrs of age, I
already knew that something wasn't right about such an invitation.

I've been to Billy Graham crusades in the past. At the invitation
people go massing towards the designated platform area. Many happily
'frolicking' along on their way 'forward'.

Again... what's missing?

Jesus had come -to- Peter's boat as a place from which to teach. Jesus
had initiated to Peter to catch the fish. When Peter hears Jesus'
message, and His 'Authority' is then authenticated by His 'power',
Peter responds with, "I am a sinful man".

Three years later when Peter is preaching, where 3000 were saved, the
reaction of the hearers is, "they were stabbed in the heart". (Acts2:37)

You see, Billy Graham (and a whole host of others) fails to truly
define "repentance". He defines definitions #2 and #3. "to change one's
mind..to make a change for the better.." But he neglects #1. "To feel
remorse, contrition, or self-reproach for what one has done or failed 
to do; be contrite." Now, he starts into the "remorse" part when he 
speaks of "be sorry for your sins". But he never addresses the part
about "self-reproach" nor of being "contrite". He pays lip-service to 
"being sorry", but the emphasis of the invitation is of "choosing
Jesus" as a "better option" for one's life.

James puts it this way, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to
you. Cleanse [your] hands, sinners! And purify [your] hearts, double
minded ones!  Be distressed, and mourn, and weep. Let your laughter be
turned to mourning, and [your] joy into shame.  Be humbled before the
Lord, and He will exalt you. (James 4:8-10 LIT)

No, "repentance unto life" (Acts11:18) is not a "work". Working, trying 
to -do- better, and -be- a better person. Making "committments" and 
"resolutions" to give up the bad things, and do better "from now on".  
Repentance is a "place". It is a "state" of the mind and heart.
Self-reproach, the opposite of today's "self-esteem". It is a place at
the foot of the cross where Jesus was taking away the sin of the world,
where the penitent one is "crucified with Christ". (Gal2:20,Rom6:4-8)

True repentance (self-reproach) sees no "options" from which to
-choose- to make things "better". There is no 'better'. There is only
"death". (Rom6:23)  And in this, those who reject the notion of man's
"free-will" have a measure of Truth. True repentance does not 'see' a 
solution to the state of 'self-reproach'. It is only when a person sees 
their own "woe is me" (Is6:5) that God then sends the seraph with a 
"live coal" from the altar to cleanse. (vs6-7) When Peter is at the 
-place- at Jesus' knees, not His 'equal' (like Touched by an Angel's 
Roma Downey said recently, "We're all equal with God") Jesus then tells 
Peter what his life will consist of. And Peter "forsaking all 
things..followed Him". (Lk5:11) When Isaiah was cleansed with the live 
coal, then God asks "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" 
(Is6:8)  We cannot "live for Jesus" until we've been, first, cleansed. 
And we are not cleansed until we first know "self-reproach".

The crowds who had 'frolicked' around Jesus shouting, "Hozanna to the
Son of David" scarcely 4 days later yelled, "Crucify Him, Crucify Him!" 
The ones who were saved were the -individuals-: Nicodemus,
Syro-Phonoecian woman who wanted the dogs' scraps, Zacchaeus, paralytic
let down through the roof, healed Samaritan leper, etc.

"The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite
heart, O God, You will not despise." (Psalms 51:17 LIT)

Amen!