This week Zac Sechler of Adherent Apologetics is on the program. Zac is a is an evangelical who founded his ministry a couple years ago. We discuss what apologetics is and why every Christian should have a basic background in it. To learn more, his website is adherentapologetics.com.
Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying:
“Holy Father, keep them in your name
that you have given me,
so that they may be one just as we are one.
When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me,
and I guarded them, and none of them was lost
except the son of destruction,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
But now I am coming to you.
I speak this in the world
so that they may share my joy completely.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them,
because they do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
I do not ask that you take them out of the world
but that you keep them from the Evil One.
They do not belong to the world
any more than I belong to the world.
Consecrate them in the truth.
Your word is truth.
As you sent me into the world,
so I sent them into the world.
And I consecrate myself for them,
so that they also may be consecrated in truth.”-John 17:11b-19
Today’s Gospel reading from the mass is very interesting. This is what is known as the high priestly prayer of Christ, and it happens before he is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prays that the disciples may be unified as Christ was in unity with the rest of the Trinity. However Christianity is anything but united today. The Protestant reformation ripped the church apart, and the division has not stopped since. So what are we to do?
Christ consecrated the disciples, and steadfastness to the truth is what we are called to. Speak, listen , and inform. There are a lot of misunderstandings about the Catholic church, and we have the obligation to speak the truth. In a loving manner lets address the concerns of our Protestant brethren, and in turn lets listen to what they have to say. It will be frustrating at times, but they love Christ as well and we need to remember that. We are not of this world and we don’t write off people because they believe differently than we do. Christ wants unity, and that was one of his last prayers. How are we bridging the divide? Let’s address the questions of our Protestant brethren. Not all of us are comfortable speaking, but if they are sincere about learning the truth they should be ok with getting a link or book. Remain steadfast in the truth of the faith.
Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup for the unity of his blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the elders and deacons [lit. servants], my fellow-servants.-St. Ignatius of Antioch
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Go into the whole world
and proclaim the gospel to every creature.
Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved;
whoever does not believe will be condemned.
These signs will accompany those who believe:
in my name they will drive out demons,
they will speak new languages.
They will pick up serpents with their hands,
and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them.
They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them,
was taken up into heaven
and took his seat at the right hand of God.
But they went forth and preached everywhere,
while the Lord worked with them
and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.-Mark 16:15-20
Today we celebrate the ascension of the Lord. With his earthly mission now complete Jesus has some last words for his disciples. He tells them to go and preach the Gospel to every creature. Mark phrases slightly different that Matthew and Luke. In Matthew’s Gospel Christ tells the disciples to go to all nations and teach them all that he commanded and to baptize in the name of the blessed Trinity (Matthew 28:19-20). Luke’s version takes place in the first chapter of Acts, and he writes that Christ commanded the disciples to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and the rest of the world (Acts 1:1-11).
These were the last words of Christ on earth and they were significant. When we lose a loved one we remember the last words that were spoken. We remember them and we cherish them, and we try to fulfill their last wishes. We should do the same with these last earthly words of Christ. After 2,000 years the church is still spreading that Gospel message as Christ commanded, but what are you and I doing individually?
We have a tendency to think that this is the work of our priests and deacons, but spreading the Gospel is the duty of all of us as disciples of Christ. Are we taking these words of Christ seriously? This doesn’t mean that we have to go overseas. We can be that witness at work, with our families at home, and in our neighborhoods. May we go forth today and spread the Gospel as Christ commanded.
The minute you walk outside of your church on Sunday you’re in mission territory.
Bishop Robert Barron
The most significant thing about William Fay, author of Share Jesus Without Fear, is the fact that God saved him while he was the president and CEO of an unnamed, international multimillion-dollar corporation. He writes “I owned one of the largest houses of prostitution” and “was involved in racketeering, bookmaking and gambling…and I mocked anyone who dare share his faith in God with me” (p. 1). Fay left all that to follow Jesus into full-time ministry. Fay graduated from Denver Seminary where he credits Gordon Lewis for giving him a firm foundation in God’s sovereign work. Fay served as the senior pastor of a church for many years until he went into full-time evangelism. He speaks on the radio and all over the world encouraging believers to share their faith confidently with others.
Share Jesus Without Fear is a comprehensive attempt to motivate, teach, and fully equip Christians to effectively share the gospel by presenting God’s vision for evangelism, plan of salvation, and information on how to start conversations and overcome objections. Fay divides his work into eleven chapters and five appendixes. He opens with a gripping introduction concerning his own salvation experience and a call for Christians to begin sharing the gospel. He makes the point that success with evangelism is not defined by bringing someone to a point of conversion; instead, it is simply sharing the gospel and trusting God to do the rest. He stresses that God is sovereign. (Fay contends that the greatest sin is the sin of silence-that is-not sharing one’s faith in Christ )(p. 6). He deals with how Christians can overcome their fear of witnessing in chapter three. In chapter four, Fay is still introducing the idea of witnessing with what he calls “share Jesus questions” (p. 29).
Two chapters are devoted to teaching the reader how to explain to someone how he can be saved. Chapter five presents the scripture that should be used and memorized as a possible presentation of the gospel. Fay emphasizes the importance of having the person read the scripture out loud and provides a script for the soul winner to memorize. Chapter six focuses upon bringing the person to a point of decision. Fay presents five questions that he believes should be asked in succession to bring a person to the point of a decision (p. 61). The last question culminates in a call to ask the person to invite Jesus into his heart.
Chapters seven through eleven are independent of each other, each focusing on an important point of instruction from Fay’s perspective. In this section of the book, Fay begins with a chapter devoted to following up on the new believer. Then he devotes much attention to providing responses to a person’s objection to receiving Christ. Fay presents thirty-six objections to receiving Christ and answers each objection. The principle message of chapter nine is that Christians must have and maintain friendships with unbelievers. Next, a short chapter explains how Christians should pray for unbelievers. Finally, Fay offers a final push to motivate believers to be better witnesses for Christ with a description of the final judgment.
Five appendixes are used to complement, summarize, and provide supplementary information to what has already been presented. Those who desire to memorize Fay’s “share Jesus” questions verbatim can reference appendix one very quickly. Appendix two is very practical with detailed instructions on how Fay would mark his soul winning New Testament. Appendix three is the longest with a detailed summarization of the thirty-six objections and answers. Appendix four is a commitment to becoming a witnesses for Christ, and the last appendix is the completion of Fay’s testimony from chapter one. All things aside, these appendixes are worth the cost of the book.
Several substantial issues that Fay presents in Share Jesus Without Fear make it impossible to recommend his work to other believers without caution. Of all the issues, the most significant is the fact that Fay suggests people get saved by inviting Jesus into their heart through prayer. Which is fine, but repentance is not mentioned. Fay consistently presents prayer as that which one does in order to secure salvation.
The only appropriate response to the call for salvation is repentant faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 17:30, Acts 20:21). Yet, Fay’s fifth question teaches the soul winner to ask the potential convert if they are ready to “invite Jesus into their life and into your heart?” (p. 63). Then two pages later, he contradicts himself when he explains that one is saved when he puts his faith in Christ, not when he prays the sinner’s prayer. Yet Fay still leads potential converts to pray the sinner’s prayer because in his words that is “dessert!” (p. 65). Moreover, he instructs the soul winner to add to the canon of scripture by writing in their Bible the model prayer sinners need to pray. He calls “asking Jesus into your heart” the first step to getting saved (p. 90). The problem with this interpretation is that it is not based upon an apostolic example. There is not a single sinner’s prayer modeled in the Bible. “Whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” is hardly an example of a model sinner’s prayer for all to follow (Romans 10:13).
Fay believes that Revelation 3:20 teaches that Jesus is standing at the door of every unbeliever’s heart—just standing there waiting—for the unbeliever to open the door to his heart and then Gentlemen Jesus will come in (p. 51). The problem with Fay’s interpretation of Christ on the outside of an unbeliever’s heart is that it is contextually wrong. Revelation 3:14-22 is written to the church at Laodicea, not lost people in America. Verse 22 states, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” John does not give any indication that these words are written to unbelievers.
Fay presents a substantially elementary understanding of the indwelling of God in the life of the believer. He teaches that Jesus lives in the heart of the new convert (p. 58). This could become exceptionally confusing when the believer learns that Jesus is on the right hand of the Father interceding for all who believe—when he was told Jesus lives in his heart (Mark 16:19). Fay should be much more faithful to the Word of God and introduce the new believer to the Comforter whom Jesus sent to fill the void of His absence (John 14). Although Paul does make reference to Christ living in the believer in Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 1:27, Christ does this through the presence of the Holy Spirit. This may appear to be theological nit-picking, but it is not.
The soul winner needs to lay a strong foundation in the life of the new believer. If what is initially presented as true is later refined and corrected over and over again, unnecessary questions may arise. For example, when the believer is told to pray a prayer to receive Christ into their hearts and be saved, and then later learns faith in the promise of God-not a prayer-saves him, he may be left wondering what else he now believes that will later be corrected. Surely most men and women can understand that Christ lives in them through His Spirit, not in their heart but in their life, without being confined to any specific location. He lives as much in their thoughts and actions as they submit to His leadership and guidance. Moreover, suggesting that Christ lives in the heart of the believer calls into question the (permanence) of the incarnation of Christ who will return the same way He left the earth in a glorified body (Acts 1:11).
Another significant shortcoming of Fay’s work is his failure to properly explain repentance and how it is related to a person’s conversion. There is a noticeable absence of the word “repent” in Fay’s gospel presentation. Moreover, substitutionary words like “turn” are also absent. Jesus said, “Except you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). The plain understanding of this text requires the soul winner to address repentance in the gospel presentation. Fay’s presentation does not address repentance toward God (Acts 20:21).
Some of Fay’s suggestions are a bit difficult to imagine putting into practice during soul winning. Fay suggests that when someone does not understand what is being read, just ask them to read it out loud again and again until they get it. While it may be difficult to argue with the 25,000 people Fay has witnessed to using this technique, it is also difficult to imagine telling someone to read something again when they express a question about the text. 1 Peter 3:15 directs believers to be able to give an answer to every man that asks a Christian about his faith. What is the point of studying apologetics if the Christian’s trained response is to read the verse again? In response to common objections offered by those who do not believe, Fay suggests that the soul winner needs to follow the example of a modern psychologist by just responding to the unbeliever’s questions with the single word “why?” In the chapter on building relationships with unbelievers, Fay suggests that one attend the local neighborhood watch program and shift to the gospel by pointing out that the thief comes to steal, but Jesus brings eternal life (p. 117). Perhaps this would work somewhere in the world, but it is difficult to imagine where.
Lastly, everyone in Fay’s stories receives Christ. They all receive Christ eventually. So, while the book teaches that God is sovereign and just the sharing of the gospel is all God expects, Fay sets up the reader with a false expection by only sharing stories about people who “get saved.” Moreover, Fay does not know if these people are saved. He does not know if their faith was genuine or superficial (John 2:23-25, 1 John 2:19). He presents a statistic that people are brought to Christ after an average of 7.6 gospel presentations, but this theory is based upon the false assumption that everyone who prays the sinner’s prayer receives Christ (p. 30). The apostle John writes about people who “went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us” (1 John 2:19). Jesus warned about people who will describe the wonderful works they did in His name, but He never knew them (Matt 7:22-23; Luke 13:26-27). Fay leaves no room for the possibility that people who are led to Christ with his plan may not be genuinely converted.
Fay’s book has limited value in the fundamental and evangelical church whose primary concern must be authentic conversions and the discipleship of those who are born again (Matt 28:19-20). Only those who subscribe to the theory that one must pray to be saved would find Fay’s work helpful in equipping Christians, with a plan of salvation, to share their faith. Others would find it necessary to provide clarifying instruction. Share Jesus Without Fear has its greatest value in the amazing way one is motivated to share his faith through the stories of conversion-despite the fact that the book does not contain a single story of Fay not bringing the person to a point of a favorable decision. Fear of providing a person with a false assurance of their conversion from a “pray to receive” understanding of conversion should be of great concern to the church. The warning passages in Matthew, Luke, John, Hebrews, and 1 John concerning those who believe they are converted, but are not authentic Christians require a more careful approach to “closing the deal” and providing assurance of salvation. Tell the Truth: The Whole Gospel to the Whole Person by the Whole People by Will Metzer (Intervarsity Press, 2002) is a much better alternative to Share Jesus Without Fear.
Fay, William and Linda Shepherd. Share Jesus Without Fear. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 1999.
“Now at Lystra there was a man sitting, who could not use his feet; he was a cripple from birth, who had never walked. He listened to Paul speaking; and Paul, looking intently at him and seeing that he had faith to be made well, said in a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And he sprang up and walked”. – Acts 14:8-10
After reading the assigned chapters it is evident that the Apostle Paul utilized many different principles in his missionary journeys. Paul was willing to obey the orders of the Holy Spirit no matter the circumstance. Moreau states, “Paul’s strategy was far more focused on the willingness to obey the Holy Spirit than on strategic planning .” Paul often went back into places where death was a possibility. He did this because the Holy Spirit let him know that there was one issue or another that needed to be dealt with. Secondly Paul was an extremely good evangelist, and he always had a goal in mind. He did not lead someone to Christ and leave the person to their own devices. With everything being against Christianity in his day that individual may have fallen into apostasy. Paul wanted to create communities of Christians so the could grow and support each other. Arthur Glasser states, “he regarded it his chief task to preach the gospel to all mankind and to incorporate all those who believed into communal life .” Thirdly Paul changed his message based on the audience. This is vitally important to our missionary and evangelistic efforts. We must know our audience and know what will reach them. It may take some homework on our part, but it will pay off. It also helps to avoid any obstacles that may not be necessary to maneuver. Fourthly Paul preached Jesus wherever he went. Though he may have changed how the discussion went based on his audience, he never deviated from the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. This should be the same for us today. It is tempted to speak a feel good message and water down the gospel, but if we do that we are not helping anyone’s eternal state. Fifth Paul worked within a team. In business we are taught that more is achieved within a team. There is no doubt that Paul was the leader, and that the “companions were helpers rather than colleagues .” Paul was teaching the newer generation what he knew and how to do it. When we work in teams we can encourage each other, learn from each other, and minister to each other. It is also a safety issue as there is safety in numbers especially when going to a land you are not familiar with.
The three missionary journeys that Paul went on apply to our lives today. We get to see that the Apostle to the gentiles also experienced trials and tribulations, and we see his handiwork today. We would do well by utilizing some of the principles that he demonstrates for us in scripture.
1. Moreau, A. Scott, et al. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004, 61.
2. Winter, Ralph D., and Steven C. Hawthorne. Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader. 4th ed. Pasadena, California: William Carey Library, 2009, 151.
3. Moreau, A. Scott, et al. Introducing World Missions: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004, 65.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”- 2 Peter 3:10
One of the things I struggle with in life is procrastination. I have been told by coworkers and family that I thrive off of extra stress. I would tend to agree. Procrastination is fine in some things, but not when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ. To many say they will look to Jesus at the 11th hour only to die at 1030.
Today’s verse says he will come like a thief. A thief does not come by knocking on the door, but coming in unexpectedly. As Christians we should be living our lives in such a way that demonstrates good and Godly living. Along with our words our lives must be a living example. The day that today’s verse speaks of is coming quickly, and we do not know when it is. That is why we need to be prepared now. Place your life squarely in the hands of the Jesus, live for him, and help prepare others for that day.