A Voice in the
February 20, 2000
Bible a "history" book?
The Bible is God's Word to us. It was given to provide -everything- needed for man to know how to know God, and how to live. (2Tm3:14-17) And, anything of a historical nature is given... "But these things became examples for us, so that we may not be lusters after evil, even as those indeed lusted..." (1Cor10:6) So that when we see the failures of people in the past, we might hope to learn from them. Or we see the struggles as others followed God faithfully, we can take courage in our own lives, knowing that others preceeded us in the struggle. When we see the "famous" Godly ones, we also see their weaknesses, so that we might not become too puffed up with pride when things seem to be going well; and when we struggle, we can know that such struggles are part of our learning, to be strengthened and grow in our trusting in the Lord. We see how the enemy has worked in the past, and the outcomes of those who succumbed and fought and were victorious. We can understand what defeat will be like if we give up. But we can also know that victory -IS- POSSIBLE.
As we see the past, and then see the same kind of events unfold in our own lives and see how God works in everything, we have the basis to believe God's prophecies for the future. While faith may be the "substance of things hope for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb11:1) we understand how Godly faith is not a "blind" faith. It is not a "leap into the dark".
What about the Heathen who have never heard?
If we understand that God has dealt with humanity under various dispensations at different times, we can understand that different people in different parts of the world may have a different understanding of God. (Have you seen the "Covenants & Dispensations" series in the Library?)
First of all we need to remember that God -already- foreknew those who are His, who, were they to be approached by Him, would respond positively.
We also need to remember that God gave -all- mankind a "conscience" with His laws written in each heart. (Rom2:13-16) He has left His 'mark' in nature for all mankind to see. (Rom1:19-21)
Those whom God knows, He calls. (Jn6:44, Rom10:17) Even if they are in a remote part of the world, He sees to it that they know His Word. A couple of examples. These stories I heard -many- years ago when I was much younger, so cannot tell you details of exact places or people involved. I only remember the -basic- account/s...
In one case, some missionaries had struggled and struggled to get into an area of, I forget exactly, Tibet or Mongolia. (??) That general part of the world, anyway. An area totally remote from the rest of civilization. Totally isolated. And yet, when they got there, they found a Church already functioning. With correct doctrine. As the account came out, God had given somebody in that society visions and taught them the Scriptures.
In another case, some missionaries arriving in some remote jungle area, instead of finding arrows and clubs meeting them, found a society "open" to hearing the Gospel message. In that case, someone had had a vision, God telling them that He was sending a messenger to preach to them and teach them about Himself. And when these missionaries arrived, there was some sort of physical characteristic about them that matched the "sign" they had been told about in the vision, to know that, indeed, these missionaries were the fulfillment of that vision.
So, yes, salvation does come from hearing the Word of God (Rom10:17), and God makes sure that those who are His have opportunity to hear. Remember that "His hand is not shortened that He cannot save..." (Is59:1) Nothing is impossible with God. (Lk1:37, Mt19:25-26) While it is usually recognized that Jesus was referring to "gentiles" when He said, "I have other sheep which are not of this fold" (Jn10:16), I wouldn't want to be guilty of limiting those "other sheep" as being only those of civilized societies who have the legacy of established missionaries and preachers reaching them...but that God can in His own wisdom reach those who are considered "unreachable" because of physical remoteness. After all, if He appeared to Abraham years ago, He can also appear to anybody else He so chooses.
Witnessing to Masons or other cults/religions?
However, I really doubt you will win somebody to the Lord by learning -about- the Masons...because "Faith is of hearing, and hearing through the Word of God." (Rom10:17) They need to hear ABOUT GOD from the -Scriptures-.
And along these lines... I receive other similar queries from time to time, asking -about- other cults and belief systems, ostensibly for the purpose of being better-prepared for witnessing to people of these religions; hoping I might know of some special 'technique' for reaching certain kinds of people. Thing is, Scripture never records God "dialoguing" with paganism in order to win them. He proclaims "I am Jehovah...you shall not have any other gods before Me." (Ex20:2) As you read throughout the O.T., when God is giving laws, chiding Israel for their disobedience, giving prophecies; over and over is repeated as the basis for what He is saying, "I am Jehovah." Or, when He promises various punishments and restorations, "then they will know that I am Jehovah."
There is such a danger in "learning about" other belief systems. God commanded Israel "you shall not mention another god by name; it shall not be heard from your mouth." (Ex23:13) And also, "take heed to yourself that you not be snared to follow them after they have been destroyed before you; and that you not inquire after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? And I shall do so, even I." (Deu12:30) Israel did this and was snared away to worship Baal. Solomon married pagan wives who lured him away from Jehovah.
When a Christian witnesses, is he learning about other gods? Or is he proclaiming God Most High, and His Son, Jesus Christ? When God is considered, these other beliefs are not even part of the equation. "To whom will you compare and make Me equal; yea, compare Me, that we may be alike?" (Is46:5) "He who has measured in His palm the waters and the heavens by a span meted out...who has meted out the Spirit of Jehovah, or a man His counsel taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who trained Him and taught Him in the path of justice; and taught Him knowledge, and made known to Him the way of discernment?" (Is40:12-14) There is -NO- Comparison! They are not related in any way! When Jesus commanded the "Great Commission" He made no mention of other belief systems. He reviews the Gospel by which we are saved: "the Christ must suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day" (Lk24:46,1Cor15:1-4) and the message that is to be proclaimed: "repentance and remission of sins must be preached on His name to all the nations..." (Lk24:47,Acts17:30,11:18,etc)
Witnessing to people about God's Saving Grace through Christ's death should not involve -asking- 'about' the other person's beliefs. Yes, they may bring them up. But we must do as Jesus did when the woman of Samaria tried to change the subject, and bring them back to the message of Salvation, (Jn4:20-24) pointing them to Jesus Christ. Beginning at whatever point the conversation might be, pointing them to the Scriptures (Rom10:17) and preaching "Jesus" to them. (Acts8:35) They already know what -they- believe (and you don't need to). They need to meet Jesus!
It is not necessary to -appear- 'educated' in all the various religions or the world's wisdom when witnessing to people of the world; or to have little clever schemes or 'tricks' or methodology for witnessing. Paul proclaimed, "I..did not come with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1Cor2:1-2)
Tracts OK for witnessing?
And most important... Also, be sure the tracts are Scriptural. Do they proclaim the Gospel message clearly? Do they quote from the Scriptures? If they merely have cute little anecdotes of how somebody experienced some traumatic event, and now "gave his life to the Lord" ...that is not the Gospel.
"Faith is of hearing, and hearing through the WORD of GOD." (Rom10:17)
Cleaning the 'mouths' of unbelievers?
First of all, as unbelievers, they are merely doing what unsaved people do. They are a "fountain" of "bitter" water (Jas3:11-12) How can an "evil" person "speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Mt12:34) It is 'nature' for a dog to "turn to his own vomit". You can try to clean up a pig, but it also by 'nature' turns back "to wallowing in the mud". (2Pet2:22) You cannot clean up their mouths until their heart/s have been made new.
Also, being your parents, etc. a younger person (you) is not to "sharply rebuke an elder.." (1Tim5:1)
If you are visiting in -their- home/s, you are under -their- roof. That is -their- home. They rule their own domain. You do not really have a 'right' to expect them to "obey" your wishes. All you can do is show, by example, your life in Christ. And be sure... if you are faithful, they -will- notice.
However, if you are an adult ("man") who has "left father and mother" (Gen2:24,Eph5:31), and they are visiting in -your- home, you certainly are well within your rights to request that while they are under your roof, that they respect your wishes...just as you would when you were a child under their roof.