Our Question of the Day was:
What must a person do to be reconciled to God?I was encouraged to hear several people answer this question correctly and as usual, it led to many great conversations having to do with the things of God and the gospel. However, as usual, we found that most people answered with a view of God akin to Moralistic Therapeutic Deism and/or they didn't care either way. I've found that some people simply try to avoid me after I've already done open-air preaching. I work on being especially loving and compassionate in my open-air preaching, but I never shy away from preaching the whole counsel of God, especially when it comes to sin, righteousness, and the judgment to come. After preaching, I had some friendly conversations with a few folks who were standing around in the area and only one of them refused to take a business-sized tract with our church contact information on it.
I saw two people with piercings, tattoos, and frankly, I couldn't tell whether one of them was a male or female (I'm not trying to be offensive whatsoever, just stating the facts). I hate it when I'm in that situation because I don't know whether to call them "sir" or "ma'am". I wonder if they care about that too? I've often wondered if they would get offended if I called them "sir" and they were a "ma'am" and I then asked, "Why are you offended at me calling you by the wrong gender when I can't tell what gender you are?" Oh well, I digress.
I courteously approached the one that I could discern was a man and asked him what he thought of my preaching and he said, "You're wasting your time on me, you can say whatever you want and you're not going to change my mind." I said, "You're right, I can't change your mind, and thankfully, that's not my job; but I would like to ask you one question: Why do you reject the gospel?"
He and his friend both responded that they were agnostic and that they thought its impossible to know which religion, if any, is true since all religions claim to have the truth but all their truth claims are mutually exclusive and contradictory. In light of that I then asked, "Given what you've said, do you believe that God could reveal some things to people in such that they could know them for certain?" His friend said yes, he said no. So I asked him, "Do you know that for certain?" He seemed to get confused, so I asked him this, "Do you believe that you are certain that you can't know any religious truth for certain?" He didn't seem to get it, so I asked it again, and the third time he seemed to understand what I was getting at as I could tell by his body language that he felt like he was being intellectually backed into a corner, so I then said, "Dude, I'm not trying to purposefully trip you up, but I'm demonstrating that if you don't believe in the God of Scripture and you reject the gospel, you really have no grounds for knowing anything at all because when you reject the gospel, you are left with futile thinking." I then gave other examples from logic, morality, science, etc. I then attempted to tactfully explain that he lives like he knows he's living in God's world (i.e., depends upon logic, uniformity of nature, moral absolutes, absolute truth, etc.) yet takes all these good gifts that God has given him for granted, is ungrateful for all these good things that have been freely given to him and that this is another manifestation of his sin. It was then that he said, "Yeah, but didn't men write the Bible?" and I said, "Yes, but we believe in dual authorship, for the Bible says that men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). If you reject the Bible simply because it was written by men then you would have to reject any other writing produced by men and you'd have to reject your own arguments against the Bible because they were produced by you, a man. If the criteria for rejecting the Bible is that any religious document can't be true simply because it has been produced by men, then that's a self-defeating argument." I then briefly gave testimony of my conversion from atheism to Christ and he responded with "You're not changing my mind" and then he started calmly walking away. I then said, "I know, but I know the One who can, for He changed mine 15 years ago." I thanked him for his time and told him that I appreciated him listening to me even though he really didn't want to.
When finishing up for the day, I was walking back to the car, I saw a guy who was standing around listening to my preaching and I asked him, "What did you think of my preaching today?"
He said that he was a Christian and attends a gospel-preaching church, but he was concerned that my preaching was driving the students away instead of reaching them. He said, "I would characterize you as a Hell-fire preacher." I said, "Thanks, John the Baptist and Jesus were too!" I then asked him, "Since you think the message is driving people away, what do you think I should say to get these people to think about the judgment that awaits them should they fail to repent?" He said, "Good question, I hadn't really thought about it like that." I then asked, "Where in the pages of the New Testament do you find Jesus or the Apostles telling people that God loves them and has a wonderful plan for their lives?" He then admitted that he couldn't think of anywhere that Jesus or the Apostles told lost sinners that. I then said, "What was the basic message that Jesus and the Apostles preached to lost people?" He didn't really know what to say so I said, "Dude, the preaching in the New Testament was repent of your sins and turn to Christ or perish. That's the basic gospel message of the New Testament."
I then explained that many churches today are filled with preachers that tell the people what they want to hear instead of what they really need to hear and that this was prophesied by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:3-4. I graciously explained to him that his statements to me are to some degree, a reflection of that. He appreciated my comments, and I encouraged him to re-read the book of Acts to get an idea of how the apostles preached to lost people.
IN CONCLUSION, I think that evangelical churches are confusing Biblical meekness with political correctness and removing the offense of the cross in the process. Woe to us. May we repent and return from our pandering to the philosophy of the age through our fear of man and preach the word, whether it's convenient or inconvenient, with great patience and instruction (2 Timothy 4:2).