Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Traitors And Saboteurs

Something interesting happened on Face-Book the other day. I got several enthusiastic responses to an entry that I posted there. What makes this so interesting is that my post was a bit out of character. Most of my posts have to do with spiritual things, whereas this one was about our current political climate.

Many of my Face-Book friends are of the opinion that those who recently signed off on Obama-Care are traitors and saboteurs to the American constitution and our way of life. Historically, government health care has ushered in cascading levels of socialistic government.

The current Health Care legislation isn't really about help for little Johnny and his poor dying mom. Little Johnny - tragic as his circumstance might be - is just a pawn in the game. What this legislation is about is power and control. It is another step toward socialism - and quite a large step at that.

Continuing Faith in the American Way

Many have faith that the American way of government can still do damage control. A shift in the balance of power within congress could lead to a repeal of this legislation. So could judicial action.  Lawsuits are already being planned, as this is an infringement on individual freedoms.  Never before has the federal government established a law that requires individual citizens to purchase a product or service.

But whether these measures will overthrow the Obama-Care legislation remains to be seen. Many continue to have faith that the American way of government will correct these troubles.  But we have had the American way of government all along. And here we are on the verge of socialism.

The Proper focus of our Faith

We can place faith in our constitution - together with our US political and judicial process - if we like.  They have served us well and provided a foundation for what is arguably the greatest civilization of human history.  But as of right now, they do not seem to be serving us so well. As was said a moment ago, the American constitution and political process have been here all along.

Faith in the constitution and American way continues, among many at least. But faith in the Lord God has - over the past several decades - continued to falter. Those who founded our nation and authored the United States Constitution understood that God is sovereign over the nations. They placed their faith in God, trusting in His blessing. They also feared God, recognizing that He is judge of all nations. They built a nation that was truly founded upon Christian principles.

Back to the Face-Book entry

Yesterday's face-book entry included a link to Solzhenitsyn's 1978 Harvard Address. Even then, Solzhenitsyn - a political exile from the USSR - saw the decay of America's spiritual and moral values. And while condemning socialism, he rebuked the abuses of American freedom that have brought us to our present spiritual laze and moral relativism.

After remarking that, "socialism of any type and shade leads to a total destruction of the human spirit and to a leveling of mankind into death" Solzhenitsyn went on to say this:

"But should someone ask me whether I would indicate the West such as it is today as a model to my country, frankly I would have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society in its present state as an ideal for the transformation of ours. Through intense suffering our country has now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive."

Solzhenitsyn saw the decay of our nation's spiritual and moral values as an illness - an illness that if not reversed - could be terminal. But from the time of his "World Split Apart" address in 1978 until today, our nation's spirituality continues to wane.

The Real Traitors and Saboteurs

The constitution and American way of government cannot help us unless we have God's blessing as well.  But it seems to me that people are a whole lot more interested in restoring the constitution to its proper place than they are in restoring God - and the correct teaching of His word - to their proper places.

Why is it that a face-book entry concerning America receives several enthusiastic comments, while entries concerning spiritual themes normally get just an occasional "Alvin-Likes-This" click? Four fifths of my Face-Book Friends are professing Christians and many are preachers. I understand that our current political climate is important. But why so little "buzz" - by comparison - concerning spiritual things?

I love America - as it has been, as I hope it will be and even as it is today. I also regard the U.S Constitution and Declaration of Independence as being among the finest documents of all human history.  But they do not even come close to the importance of the Bible, a fact that those who authored our country's founding documents knew well.  Our ultimate loyalty must be to God, not country.

America has been exalted above other nations, not only because of its constitution and work ethic but also (and mainly) because God blessed us.  He blessed us - according to His faithfulness - because there was a time that a majority of Americans feared God, revered His word, and worked to live in a way pleasing to Him. But God may also choose to judge, and has judged, nations that refuse to honor Him.  Perhaps this judgment has already begun.

We can and should make our voices heard in the political arena but this will accomplish nothing by itself. The thing most needed - the only thing that will truly bring America to its former greatness - is to humble ourselves, repent and pray. And it must begin with those who are already Christian. Those who refuse to honor God are the true traitors and saboteurs, in every bit as real a way as those who would supplant our constitutional government with socialism.

I am, by God's Grace,
Rich In Christ

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Euangelion - Revisited and Clarified

My March 10th, 2010 blog entry - "The Gospel is the good news about Jesus, right?" - presented an idea that a lot of people seem to have trouble with; a more complete definition of the word "gospel". Rather than being simply "good news", the more complete definition of the original Greek was "a reward given to one who brings good news of victory".

Though I have not gotten any response on the blog itself (is anybody out there?) the presentation of this idea in other settings has led to what might best be described as "mixed reviews". Some become confused, others annoyed. But actually, this idea is not so radical as it might seem.


So how does this information change our thinking about the gospel? Before addressing what changes, it might be good to mention some things that stay the same.

Some things that don't change

-> The gospel is still about Christ's Kingdom, Christ Himself and God's grace, purchased for us at Christ's cross.
-> The gospel is still from God and for sinful man.
-> The gospel is still the power of God unto salvation for those who will receive its message. (This should be a major motivator in our desire to fully understand what the gospel is.)
-> The gospel is still revealing the righteousness of God.
-> The gospel is still the message of Christ, the faith (system of doctrine) once and for all delivered to the saints.
-> The gospel is still to be learned from the Bible (generally) and the New Testament (especially).
-> Last but not least the gospel is still good news.

This last point seems to need extra emphasis. Some equate a statement that the original word for "gospel" meant more than just the good news as the equivalent of saying that it is not the good news. But this is not the case at all. Earlier blog entries have already stated that good news is the central idea in the Greek word "euangelion" and that without good news there could be no "euangelion".

So we see that this expanded definition of the word "gospel" does not change our thinking on what the gospel is about, who it is from, who it is for, what it does, or where it is found. It does not even change our most basic ideas of what the gospel is - good news.

Something that does change

The thing that does change is our concept of the word itself.  The word gospel should convey at least two (and probably three) ideas in addition to "good news".

An additional idea inherent in the word gospel - Victory

The word gospel should convey the idea of victory. The original meaning of "euangelion" was good news of victory. Victory is one of the things that makes the message of Christ good news. Yet the main emphasis (sometimes the only emphasis) of modern Christendom is escape (salvation). Escape from the penalty of "eternal (ongoing-RW) destruction away from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power" (2Th 1:9) is definitely the best news I can ever imagine hearing.  This wonderful news of escape is taught and emphasized, as it ought to be. But victory should be emphasized, as well.

As Christians we are involved in warfare.  It is a spiritual warfare but warfare nonetheless.  Why would anyone who is involved in actual warfare settle for escape when victory is possible? The gospel does more than "get us off the hook". It empowers us for victory - and it does so in a number of ways. I will have more to say about this in future blog entries.

For now, I will simply propose that the word "gospel" should convey the idea of victory, in the very same way that it conveys the idea of good news.

A 2nd additional idea inherent in the word "gospel" - Reward

As with the idea of victory, the reward of faithfulness to the gospel makes the good news good. But the entire idea of reward being connected with the gospel seems to be overthrown in the "faith-alone by grace alone" culture of modern Christendom.

I can hear the objections echoing all the way back through the ether, "Our salvation is not a reward it is a gift!" This is like arguing that "We aren't redeemed by Christ we are justified by Him!" even though the Bible says both.  If the scriptures say that our salvation is a gift in one place and a reward in another - and the scriptures do - it ought to be OK for us to speak in either way without hearing objections.

Returning to our idea of the reward being connected to the gospel, what is good, exactly, about being mocked, persecuted insulted and slandered for righteousness sake? If anyone thinks that these things are rewards in themselves they'd do well to consult with the apostle Paul, who had some experience with persecution. His thinking on the matter was that, if there was no resurrection and our hope in Christ is for this life only, we are most pitiable of all men - 1Co 15:19.

Persecuted for righteousness? Hardly anyone in today's Christendom seems to think we are even capable of righteousness! And many have never done one thing out of loyalty to Christ that would draw anyone's mildest disapproval, let alone actual persecution.

When the Lord's church and its people begin to do more of the things necessary for victory (subject matter for future blog entries) we will also learn of the persecution that comes with it. Those who have been there, suffering loss because of their loyalty to Christ, take great comfort in the fact that their loyalty to Christ's gospel comes with a guaranteed reward.

What is the reward that awaits those who fight the good fight and run their race, finishing the course? It is the crown of righteousness that will be awarded on the last day to all who have truly loved Christ - 2Th 4:7-8.

The idea of reward is built right into the word that the New Testament scriptures use in reference to the message of and about Jesus Christ.  That word is - in our language - gospel (euangelion in the original). And when we hear the word gospel the idea of its reward ought to be very apparent to us.

A 3rd additional idea inherent in the word Gospel; it is a message to be shared.

The gospel is no mystic secret to be guarded, nor is it a product to be marketed, nor is it treasure to be hoarded.  It is a message to be shared.  The reward just spoken of is to be received by those who bring the message of good news.

We might best understand the idea of the gospel (the euangelion) as a message to be shared by contemplating a related Greek word - "euangelizo". This is the verb form of the exact same word from which we derive our word "gospel" (euangelion - the noun form of the word).

Euangelizo means to evangelize, to spread the good news. As a matter of fact, in looking at the word "euangelizo" you can easily see that by changing just two letters - the second and last - you have transformed "euangelizo" into "evangelize".

You might also have noticed that by lopping off the prefix ("eu") and the suffix ("izo), euangelizo is transformed into the word "angel".  Angels were - among other things - the special messengers of God send into the world upon special missions or with special messages.

Those who have embraced the euangelion of our Lord Jesus Christ are also on a special mission - to share the special message of the gospel with the lost world. As a matter of fact Christians are the only messengers God has sent on this special mission.

I am, by God's grace,
Rich In Christ

Friday, March 12, 2010

Is there really any BAD news? About Jesus? Or in His word?

The previous blog entry investigated the question of whether the gospel was the GOOD news about Jesus. The answer suggested is that good news IS the central idea contained in the word gospel but that it fails to convey the complete meaning of the original Greek. The Greek word euangelion originally meant a reward given to one who brings good news of victory.

To accept that the gospel is the good news exclusively, is an error. The gospel is the body of teaching, originating with and centered upon Christ, contained within the New Testament. The gospel of Jesus Christ is nothing more or less than the message of Christ.

But why inquire about the meaning of the word gospel at all? The answer is that - operating under the simplistic notion that the gospel is the good news - many pulpits have determined to concentrate on the good news exclusively. The gospel is God's power for salvation and the good news is the gospel, right? Therefore the GOOD news about Jesus is the only thing needing to be preached or taught.

So what is the Bad News?

If we have decided that only the good news about Jesus should be taught, we imply that there is also some bad news about Jesus; or at least that there is bad news in some of the biblical teaching that originated with Him.

I personally am less than comfortable with the notion that anything written in scripture concerning our Lord would be considered bad news. Some of the New Testament is about Jesus and the remainder about His teaching. How can any right-minded Christian consider any of this material bad news? We certainly understand that the New Testament has bad news for unrepentant sinners but nothing there should be thought bad news by us.

Those subscribing to this good news only notion tend to divide the New Testament's teaching along the lines of what feels good versus what doesn't. If it makes people feel good (or is expected to) it is the gospel; otherwise not.

Things typically omitted from good news only preaching might be the condemnation of sin, the need of repentance, the need of godliness in the Christian life and the specifics of eternal judgment.

Those who think such things optional in gospel preaching ought to consider that the apostles Peter and Paul - and of course the Lord Jesus Himself - taught these things plainly. If they were not gospel preachers there have never been any.

Who decides which news is good and which is bad?

People do - uninspired people. I refuse to consider anything in the New Testament bad news. But if I did, I doubt that my lists of good versus bad news items would be exactly the same as yours. I'd be preaching the parts of the New Testament that I considered good news and you would be doing the same. But just between the two of us, there would be two different gospels preached. Add in another dozen Christians, each with his own idea of which parts make up the good news and you have got a chaos of division.

Consider also the motives that we as individuals might have in determining which parts of the New Testament are good news. A worldly believer who wants his grace cheap and his lifestyle indulgent, is going to have a far different listing of good versus bad news items than someone who truly loves and seeks to please God.

Most disturbing, though, is that this good news only mindset is closely aligned with a church-growth, success by the numbers approach to ministry. This means that the choice of good news items to be preached will be geared toward what someone thinks the prospects or seekers (formerly known by such terms as worldlings and sinners) want to hear. Bottom line, in this case, is that that the world is being told what some preacher thinks the world wants to hear. What the world wants to hear from us and what it needs to hear are entirely different things.

The [gospel / message of Christ] was God given.

Almighty God gave His Son to die in order that the message of the New Testament could be proclaimed; the whole message. Those who authored this WORD paid for their privilege - while upon this earth - with poverty, persecution and in most cases martyrdom. And to this very day, many who publish and distribute this WORD pay the very same penalty.

How happy, then, is the author and perfecter of our faith with the fact that so many within today's Christendom are convinced that only a part of this WORD is good news, worthy to be preached?

Perhaps it is best for us to let God decide what the good news is. He already has decided and He has seen to it that His inspired apostles and prophets, with Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone, have delivered it to us. It is the teaching of the New Testament.

I am, by God's grace,
Rich In Christ

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Gospel is the GOOD news about Jesus, right?

How could I possibly ask such a dumb question? Here I am, writing what are supposed to be intelligent articles on the "New Testament Gospel" yet I am asking what the word gospel means. "Everybody" knows that the gospel is the good news!

I have a habit, though, of asking questions about things that "everybody" knows, especially things that "everybody" knows about the Bible. Anyway, I thought it might be a good idea to ask where the word "gospel" came from. So I asked Mr. W. E. Vine about it. Mr. G. Kittel and Mr. G. Friedrich were also reputed to know a great deal on such matters, so I consulted with them and some others also.

The actual Greek word from which we get "gospel" is εὐαγγέλιον - euangelion (pronounced yoo-ang-ghel'-ee-on).

But how do we get from euangelion to "gospel"? Actually we get there via Northern Europe. The word "gospel" is of Anglo-Saxon origin, as is English. I was quite surprised and somewhat perplexed to learn that the literal Anglo-Saxon would originally have been "God's Spell" or "Good Spell". This is not of tremendous help in answering our question about the meaning of the word gospel.

The full meaning of euangelion in the original Greek is a reward given to one who brings good news of victory. In the ancient world, including Rome, messengers from victorious battle were honored - as heroes of the victory - with garlands, wreaths and even crowns. These honors were their euangelion for participating in the victorious battle or campaign.

W. E. Vine states that the word "originally denoted a reward for good tidings; later, the idea of reward dropped, and the word stood for the news itself". One cannot help wonder how much later the idea of reward was dropped and why it was dropped. I suspect what we have here is a reflection of popular theological thinking as it has evolved through the centuries.

A look at the basic ideas included in a complete understanding of the word "gospel".

Again, the complete meaning of euangelion was a reward given to one who brings good news of victory.

Without good news there would be no euangelion. This establishes good news as the central idea here and no one can deny that there is an abundance of good news in Christ's gospel. But to think that good news is the entire meaning of the word gospel is incorrect. This understanding is good so far as it goes but does not go far enough to capture the complete idea.

In addition to the idea of good news euangelion involves a reward. We reflect for a moment on Mr. Vine's comment above; that this part of the original meaning was dropped. It is not difficult to guess why. The entire faith-only culture of Christendom is outraged at the idea that salvation is in any sense earned. And the idea of the gospel as a reward might be thought to imply this. Even so, Christ spoke of our reward at Mt 5:12, 6:4 and 10:41-42. Paul speaks of our reward at Co 3:24. Assurance that we will be rewarded for our faithfulness to the Lord - especially in times of trial - is good news.

Finally, the original meaning of euangelion instructs us concerning who this reward we have just spoken of is for. The reward is for those who bring the news of Christ's victory. To embrace the gospel is to share it. The New Testament scriptures know nothing of incognito Christians. As a matter of fact, Christ warned quite sternly that those who would not speak out for Him would forfeit all hope of any reward - Mt 10:32-33 & Mk 8:38.

Does the word "gospel" mean "good news"?

Yes, but this is only a part of the correct definition. There is more to say on this subject but that is enough for now.

I am, by God's Grace,
Rich In Christ

Friday, March 5, 2010

New Testament Gospel Preaching and Church Growth


Perhaps some have wondered if I am so naïve as to suppose the preaching style I have called "New Testament Gospel Preaching" can actually "succeed" in today's culture. My prior entry spoke of 3000 converts on the day of Pentecost and thousands upon thousands being won before a single page of the New Testament scriptures was ever written. Is that what I really expect?

That kind of scenario would be nice but sadly I do not expect that anything like this will ever be seen again. The first century AD was a very unique time in history. As was said in my prior entry we no longer have eyewitnesses to the resurrected Christ. Nor does our message have the endorsement of the astounding miracles that God provided in that day.

In addition, though the news of Christ's victory over death is still good, it is not new. The gospel is an old story in a world that is like the city of Athens in Paul's day (Acts 17:21). Everyone's interest is focused on the newest ideas all the time. Many of the people I know actually believe in Christ's resurrection. But their belief in Christ's resurrection is sort of like their belief that the earth is round and it has about that much impact on their lives, too. They believe Christ was raised from the dead but that doesn't mean they are going to go to church or anything.


Culture tends to define the way we think and within our culture success tends to be measured by numbers. We therefore easily suppose that our message has failed unless it brings a good and growing number of members into our church buildings. There are additional and more spiritual reasons for wanting to see large numbers. All of us would love to see Pentecost's 3000 coming to the Lord. But we all know that 300 is a more realistic expectation.

The bottom line is that "Christian" people want to see as many people "saved" as possible. If we love God and our fellow man this desire is quite natural - and expected. If we did not want to see large numbers saved it would be a problem. Yet with this desire comes temptation to compromise our message. Lower the standards and more people will respond.

The most extreme examples of this compromise within today's Christendom are the cheap grace merchants with their do-next-to-nothing invitations to salvation. If people want to believe they can live like the devil now without having to live with him in eternity that is fine with them. The important thing is that people "believe in Jesus" to "get saved", right? There are actually "preachers" teaching this nonsense who are convinced they are doing "a mighty work for the Lord". They see the numbers - and income - their work has produced as evidence of God's blessing. Yet you and I both know that "they already have their reward in full".


Christianity within human culture is a paradigm of passive aggression. Nothing is more passive than true Christianity - if a man strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the other also. But at the same time it is extremely aggressive - the word of God is like a two-edged sword. A sword cuts and cutting opens things up. Once a thing is opened you find out what is inside.

Throughout church history Christianity has cut into the heart of this world, nation by nation. The gospel is powerful, opening peoples' hearts. The gospel thrusts forward into new lands and people are won to the Lord. But the gospel strikes at evil hearts as well as good ones and the evil that is in those hearts is then revealed in the form of persecution. As it has always been, the faithful church is driven into wilderness hiding as the great dragon pursues.

Yet over time - sometimes several generations of time - the church chaffs under this persecution. As a result, it compromises with the persecuting culture and an uneasy peace results. Eventually an atmosphere arises in which "the church" can continue to exist and perhaps even grow, so long as it behaves itself. It dare not shed too much light into the culture, though, for when darkness is revealed for what it is, persecution begins anew.

I read an extremely sobering article several years back written by a man most definitely opposed to Christianity. He was addressing the question of what should be done about those extreme right wing "Christian fundamentalists" that were so annoying. His conclusion was this: Don't worry too much about them, they want to win us to their religion and will do whatever is needed to make themselves appealing to us. Just be patient, he said. Most of the Christian community had already become so much like the rest of America that no one could tell the difference and eventually the extreme fundamentalists would too. America is, after all, a melting pot.


Success in preaching, or in any other aspect of Christian life, should not be defined by any worldly standard. Jesus Himself was an offense to the world's standards and the world killed Him because of it. Success in the Christian Life, and this includes preaching, means doing things in a way that pleases God.

Scriptural preaching is defined for us in the scriptures themselves. The men of God that stand in our pulpits are to preach the word in season and out. They are to reprove, rebuke and exhort with great patience and careful instruction. - 2Tim 4:2. If the people of our world do not care much for reproof - or for being rebuked or exhorted - this simply shows that the gospel message is "out of season" and that men are "not tolerating sound doctrine" - 2Tim 4:3. This is to be expected and it does not give us license to compromise the message or the manner in which scripture says it is to be given.

Our understanding of terms or ideas is sometimes enhanced through considering opposing terms or ideas. In this case, the opposite of success is failure. Ultimate failure in our culture is probably summed up best in the idea of dismissal from our jobs - getting fired. Some preachers have gotten fired for failure to produce the desired numbers. But I will never forget something Don DeWelt, whom some of you may have known, once said. Reminding young preachers in training that their highest employer was God, he showed those "pearly whites" - as only he could - and stated that, "If God fires you, you are on fire!"


In a word, "no"! That may be disappointing but scripture shows us what we should expect and it is not a big following. If we are truly striving to serve the Lord we should expect to be hated, persecuted and rejected - Mt 5:10-12; 2Ti 3:12. Most of the people in this world want to travel the broad and easy way (and we've got our blinders on if we think that the easy ways do not tempt us, as well). Not many are willing to enter by the narrow way that leads to salvation - Mt 7:13-14. And not many "preachers" interested in success will preach that narrow way, either.

Our culture embraces tolerance, even toward Christianity (though this has been changing). And freedom of religion in the United States remains a constitutional right. For these reasons Christians in America see less persecution and milder forms of persecution than those in many parts of the world. But even so, we should be concerned (at the very least) if we are "preaching Christ" in such a way as to bring the approval of huge numbers - Luke 6:26.

How wise is it to adopt methods and messages designed for a broad-spectrum appeal to the masses? The entire foundation of the "church growth" movement is flawed. Let's build instead on the solid rock, doing things God's way, whether it seems to "be working" or not.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Needed - “New Testament gospel preaching”

In my initial blog entry, I stated that my simple goal was to be “a New Testament gospel preacher”. This world desperately needs such preaching and I’d like to be one of the men providing it.


Does this mean that I do not believe in the Old Testament, or that I do not think it important, or that I do not preach from the Old Testament? Not at all!

For the record, I consider the whole Bible, including all Old Testament books, to be both authentically historical and inspired by God. I have preached extensively from the Old Testament, including messages from every one of its books save one (Song of Solomon). I have also – and often – preached “New Testament gospel” messages from Old Testament scriptures.

Obviously, the gospel did not appear in history until the coming of Jesus Christ during the days of the Roman Empire. But the gospel existed in the mind of God from the foundations of the world – 1Pe 1:20. God therefore inspired men to plant the seeds of the gospel in writings that date as far back as the days of Moses.

The New Testament gospel is built upon Old Testament ideas and prophecies.

A New Testament gospel preacher is one who preaches the New Testament Gospel – the message of Jesus Christ – in the same way the NEW TESTAMENT'S gospel preachers did. The NEW TESTAMENT'S gospel preachers - men like Matthew, Luke, Peter, James and Paul - based much of their teaching on the Old Testament scriptures.


Absolutely! In the 1st Century AD, the gospel of Jesus Christ brought thousands upon thousands to our Lord. This was done before a single page of our New Testament was ever written.

The very first time the resurrection of Jesus Christ was preached, 3000 were brought to the Lord. This is on record for us in Acts the 2nd chapter. The exact message preached is also recorded and it was built upon Old Testament scriptures. Peter’s message began with a “sermon text” from the book of Joel. He concluded with references to the Psalms, supplied as proof that the death and resurrection of the Messiah was a matter of inspired prophecy.

After His resurrection, Jesus explained to His disciples “all that had been written of Him by Moses and all the prophets” - Luke 24:25-27. These disciples, in turn, used this instruction to win the world of their day to the new faith of Jesus Christ, the faith we now call Christianity.

The Old Testament scriptures were also employed in the inspired writings of the New Testament. Page through Matthew, Luke, Romans, Galatians or Hebrews, for example, and you will in some cases see Old Testament references with every turn of a page.

The power of the Old Testament scriptures for bringing men to Christ was so great that Paul specifically mentions this at Gal 3:24. The Law was a tutor that brought men to Christ. We are no longer under the authority of that tutor (the Mosaic Law) but we can still gain much from its instruction.


It certainly does. The patterns of evangelism and preaching seen in the pages of the New Testament have largely been abandoned in western culture today.

There are some ways that we simply cannot follow the New Testament pattern of preaching or evangelism and efforts to follow it in these particular ways are actually counter-productive.

->>We no longer have eyewitnesses of the Lord’s resurrection and sharing “our testimony” (a revered tradition in personal evangelism) is a poor substitute. Our experience means very little to post-modern prospects who are far more interested in their own experience. The post-modern mindset is that things that are “true for you” might not be “true for me”, so our testimony is close to worthless in today’s American culture. Even in the case of the apostle Paul, who was able to give eyewitness testimony, it did not produce the desired results - Acts 22:22 and Acts 26:24.

->>Also, God is no longer endorsing our message with the kinds of miracles worked in the 1st century AD. A full discussion of the “signs and wonders” seen today is beyond the scope of today’s entry. For our purposes now, it is enough to say that the things presented as “miracles” in some quarters of Christendom today have the exact opposite effect of the New Testament miracles. Genuine New Testament miracles produced faith in unbelievers. Today’s “miracles” promote greater skepticism and split churches.

What we do have in common with those of the 1st century church, though, is Holy Scripture from God. Supplied with both Old Testament scriptures and New, we are able to follow that part of the New Testament pattern in our evangelism and preaching. And considering that this is the resource God has left us with, we should use it with diligence.

There are several hundred specific prophecies and types contained in the Old Testament scriptures that have been fulfilled in Christ’s life, teaching and church. Comparing the Old Testament with the New we are provided with powerful and irrefutable evidence of the inspiration of scripture and the truth of Christ’s message.

The Old Testament scriptures were a very prominent part of teaching the New Testament gospel then and they can be now, as well. But scripture will not be a powerful tool in evangelism or preaching unless Christians know scripture. And how will our people learn without a teacher? As stated above, New Testament gospel preachers are needed.


Jokes are fun, stories are cute, pop psychology speaks to “felt needs”, and friendship with the world feels just as warm and toasty as it did when James (in Chapter 4:4) warned that such friendship amounts to enmity against God.

But the gospel is the power of God unto salvation and the gospel is taught through scripture.

A spiritual battle for the conquest of souls – including OUR OWN souls – is being waged. It is largely a battle of ideas. But while this battle rages and escalates, many of our churches continue to adopt the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Super Simple) model of preaching and teaching. This trend can only result in the progressive dumbing down of Christianity.

As a result we are ill equipped for spiritual survival, perhaps even OUR OWN spiritual survival – Hosea 4:6a. What is needed is an intimate familiarity with scripture coupled with deep insight into biblical teaching.

A Christian nobility that searches the scriptures daily is needed - Acts 17:11. Nothing less will do if we want to restore the New Testament pattern of evangelism, which sets its sights on World Conquest for King Jesus. And this Christian nobility will have to begin with New Testament Gospel Preachers.

By His Grace I Am
Rich In Christ

Not Really About Me

This Blog is not really intended to be about me. Yet the Holy Scriptures do tell us, “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God” – 1Jn 4:1. In light of this, you might want to know something about me.

My name is Rich. I am married 40 years to my beloved wife Elaine. Together we have raised two sons, now adults with families of their own, whom we love very much.

In 1997, I left a successful career as a Registered Nurse to enter full time service as an evangelist and minister (servant) of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was ordained to those works by the eldership of the Monroeville (PA) Christian Church on August 17th, 1997.

I am not “credentialed” for the ministry in the usual ways. But that is not the same as being ignorant or uneducated. I hope that those who know me recognize me as one who has been with Jesus and in His word. But that means nothing unless the Lord Jesus recognizes me in that way, also.

From my ordination until now, my work has been located in Williamstown, NY, a rural community of about 500 mailing addresses. The nearest traffic light is twelve miles. The nearest Wal-Mart is nineteen miles. Hospital (and many doctor) visits require an 80 mile round trip, minimum. The only people buying property here are the Amish. This ought to give you a fair idea of the area in which I live and serve.

As you might imagine, considering the nature of this community, I do not serve a large congregation. I have never had any ambitions of making this a “stepping stone” work to a “more significant ministry”. Significance in Christ is found in serving well where you are needed for as long as you are needed.

I simply want to be a New Testament Gospel Preacher. Messengers were once sent from John the baptist asking if Jesus was truly Messiah. A part of the answer given was that the "the poor had the gospel preached to them". The gospel is being preached to them here, also.

These remarks may convey the idea that I am without ambitions. I do have ambitions though - and a vision - for the restoration of the New Testament Church. I began hearing about something called "the restoration movement" in the late 1970s. After hearing – and reading about - “the restoration movement” for a couple of years, I decided that we really ought to have one. That mindset has occasionally gotten me in trouble, not only with those outside of our “brotherhood” but sometimes with those inside, as well. I haven’t changed my mind, though. A restoration movement is definitely needed but it seems to me that in many cases we are moving away from that, instead of toward it.

I am afraid this initial blog entry hasn’t given you a lot to go on, as regards your ability to test my spirit. So if you want to do that, you’ll have to check some future entries, as well, checking the scriptures daily to see if the things that I write are so – Acts 17:11. Perhaps some people will. We shall see.

By His Grace I am
Rich In Christ