Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Anger

When we received Christ, we died to sin.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? (Rom. 6:1-2)

Since, then; you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Col. 3:1-4)
Since these things are so, God also tells us to "rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips" (Col. 3:8).

We are told to put anger away. That does not mean in a month or a week. It means now. It is not possible to put it away if it is likely that you are not a Christian.

Other things should disappear besides anger. "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived… Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator" (Col. 3:5-7, 9-10). These sins are not normal for someone who is a Christian.

A few weeks ago, I asked a man if he got angry. He said, “Not often.” What does the chapter say? Get rid of it. When? Right now! I told him I would give him 24 hours.

People like to have a reservoir of stored-up anger inside them so it will be available whenever they need it. They think it is a good masculine trait. It is sin. It needs to be confessed and forsaken.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Questions on Becoming a Christian 5

Dear Friend,

I wrote much of the following several weeks ago, but I was not sure it was kind enough, so I decided not to send it until I looked at it again. It is abrupt, so it might sound unkind. You get this preamble to prepare you for what is an expression of love for you (the right kind of love). I ache for you! You are hurting and the freedom from fear and hurt is freely available to you now.

Much of your problem with God is caused by your teachers; in this case, a teacher with Reformed convictions. The distinctives of different systematic theologies do not give saving truth. Systematic theology is the wrong way to find truth about God. You get some truth and some falsehood in each of them. Which one of these is right? On the distinctives, none of them! There is common, saving truth in all of them.

What do I believe? The common, saving truth! I certainly am not Reformed, Arminian, Dispensational, Lutheran, Charismatic, etc.

The rest of your problem is you. None of the problems are from God. Now for the letter I wrote you three weeks ago...

There are a few problems other than the ones you have seen that are keeping you out of the Kingdom. One problem has been with the Christians who have been communicating truth to you.

In Ephesians 4:15, the Christians are told to speak the truth in LOVE. In an academic institution, the truth without apparent love is often spoken. Truth without love becomes false.

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

Avoid quarrels by avoiding foolish questions. The Lord’s servant must NOT QUARREL. He must be KIND to everyone. He must GENTLY instruct the opposition. He must not be resentful. The result may be an escape from the snare of the devil, real repentance by the non-Christian.

“...to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me” (Acts 26:18). The Lord Jesus told the new convert, Paul, how to evangelize: open their eyes, turn them from darkness to light, and turn them from the power of Satan to God. There are two results of this three-step event: 1) forgiveness of sins and 2) everlasting inheritance.

Christians often skip the first step. They do not bother to open eyes before they give light. A person with closed eyes does not see light. Consequently, step three does not happen.

From the unbeliever's side, there are five problems:

1. They are slaves to sin.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).

2. Their wages are death.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

3. They are caught in the snare of the devil by the devil’s own will.

“Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).

4. Their minds are blinded by the god of this age.

“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

5. They cannot understand spiritual truth.

“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14).

I have taken you at your word that you are not a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. You have not come to the Father through the Son in belief and repentance. If this is true, it is not because of the Reformed theology. You would have had problems with any other theology.

Remember all the reasons you had for judging God in your previous letters and in your poems. Now you have an additional reason from your doctrine class at seminary.

There are TWO reasons why people are damned from clear revelation:

1. The soul that sins shall die (Ezekiel 18). The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23).
2. They refuse to repent and believe the gospel (John 3:16-20, 36).

There is only one way to be saved:
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the twelve. (1 Corinthians 15:1-5)

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8)

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved...for, ‘\"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:9-10, 13)
Notice that the verbs on the sinner’s part are: receive, stand, hold firmly, come, believe, confess, and call.

You have informed, real, and emotional reasons to be scared of judgment, but not because you are elected to be lost. That is a fear prompted by the Enemy. It is based on your IMAGINATION, not on fact. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

There is a fear that is prompted by God. “But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (Luke 12:5).

Here are REAL reasons to be REALLY scared. These reasons are in fact, not in your imagination based on your doctrine class.

1. You know that you are a sinner and deserve judgment by the holy, loving, and just God.
2. You have rejected the Savior who died for your sins because of His love for you.
3. You have accused Him of every kind of wrong motive and action. You have accused Him of being unloving because of the lies of the Enemy which you have bought.
4. You have made up a systematic theology that is anti-God from the revelation that God has given you for your salvation.

Yes, you are in real danger, independent of Reformed, Dispensational, Arminian, or any other systematic theology.

There is no question in my mind that God is drawing you personally to Himself. However, you are throwing roadblocks in a sort of a last ditch effort to stay out of the Kingdom.

“But now God has commanded all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:31). That includes you! Do not believe your own beliefs and reasoning. Believe God! You have the good news. Quit resisting.

You have been challenging God with “why?” questions. You want Him to answer you on your conditions. He is God; He does not have to answer you on your conditions. Let me repeat Romans 5:6-8 again: “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

The greatest expression of love in the history of the universe was the death of Jesus on the cross for the sins of the world. It has been done; it is finished. The reason you do not understand is that your eyes are blind; you are in the snare of the devil. You are doing things backwards. Call upon Him because of your sin, His love, and His promise.

After you receive Him, you will have:

everlasting life
forgiveness
understanding
fruit of the Spirit
assurance of your salvation
love for God
love for His word
love of your neighbors
love for your enemies

I look forward to hearing from you soon.

With love in Christ,

Jim Wilson

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Questions on Becoming a Christian 4

Dear Friend,

A few days ago, our computer ate some of our incoming messages. We can't find them, so I am writing this because if yours was one of them, you might wonder why I did not answer it.

Since I am writing anyway, I will add a few thoughts in a different vein.

• You want to be a Christian.
• Somehow you think the Gospel is true, even while you are rebelling against God for sending Jesus to the Cross.
• You may be seeing a quality of life that you do not see in others and which you want to have.
• You may desire Heaven.
• You may be concerned about judgment.
• You may have read biographies of Isobel Kuhn, Amy Carmichael, Corrie ten Boom, Patricia St. John, or Lilias Trotter. These were women of faith whom I respect very much. If you haven’t read them, I would encourage it.

The best way of learning is by imitation. There may not be many people alive that you would like to imitate. So imitate people who are no longer alive but who are in Heaven.

In your search, you might want to spend some time reading, not singing, some of the great hymns, such as “Amazing Grace,” “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name,” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

Here is the last stanza of “The Love of God,” which you may not know:
Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.
and one of the stanzas from Annie Johnson Flint’s “He Giveth More Grace.”
He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase
To added affliction, he addeth his mercy
To multiple trials, His multiplied peace.

His love hath no limit; His grace has no measure
His power has no boundary known to man
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
Your friend,

Jim Wilson

Monday, September 17, 2018

Questions on Becoming a Christian 3

Dear Friend,

Thank you for your long letter. The more I know you, the more likely I will say what applies to you. There is a reason that I am sure that you will be a Christian shortly. It is from Jeremiah 29. It is speaking of Judah at the end of 70 years of captivity, but I think it applies to all seekers. Verse 13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

You described your search for God as starting around age 12, and then later you said, “I still wanted to be a Christian; it simply began to occur to me that prescribed methods were not working.” The methods you say you used were not prescribed in the Bible. They are standard prescriptions in all the world’s religions. They were duties you were doing, religious duties. You were reading to read, a duty. You were also reading critically. You were not reading to receive.

Romans 9:30-10:4: “What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the ‘stumbling stone.’ As it is written: ‘See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.’ Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

This righteousness comes from God.

I do not know why God allowed the Holocaust to happen or Genghis Khan or the tens of thousands of evil men who have raped and murdered. It is true that no one gets away with evil (Psalm 73). God is just.

In the Korean war, I was ordered out of my battle station for a still unknown reason, except it is known by God. While I was away from my station, the ship hit an underwater mine. The mine exploded right under my battle station. I was not there. It was very much like the USS Cole in Yemen. We lost 16 men, 11 in the explosion, 4 overboard, and 1 in the hospital. No one from my battle station survived. I was 22 years old. I conducted the funeral service for the man I left in charge. He died in place of me. Over the next four days sailors would come to me and ask why their friend died. My reply was something like this: “Sixteen men died; why are you asking me about only one? Everyone dies. The question is not ‘Why?’ The question is, are you ready to die?”

I understand your feelings about manipulating evangelists and emotional conversions. The danger is that you might be rejecting the real because of the fake.

Certainly I believe that you have tried “very hard to base my world solely in the INTELLECTUAL; it is safe and does not change, and I have experienced a degree of success in navigating it.” I believe that too.

It seems to me that you are a self-disciplined do-er. Because you have had so much trouble with your bipolar emotions, you did not trust them. It is right not to trust emotions. It is also right not to TRUST your intellect and your reason, and you do not. It is right to trust God. He is the only one who is trustworthy, who keeps his word.

Here is another one of your statements: “Intellectually, I know this is wrong, but I ask you, what other standards can I possibly apply? Intellectually, I understand that God is the architect of morality, but in my fallenness, I cannot escape the thought that regardless, it is WRONG for God to ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.” You have just said that you are not going to go by your intellect, but by something else that dogmatically declares something WRONG. You call it fallenness. I agree.

In between your emotion and your intellect, you have missed the spiritual. This is where love and grace come in. You need both very much. God provides both very much.

Romans 5:12-17, 20: “But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ... The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more.”

Grace is far more abundant than sin and is the solution for the very real sin that you see all around you, in you, and in history. Grace is a very real solution for a very real problem. There is no other solution that even pretends to work, much less produces forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.

There are two kinds of faith: experimental and experiential. Experimental faith produces experiential faith, not the other way around. Perhaps you should confess to God in repentance the things you admit to me in your letters. Not that that will save you, but right now you are hanging on to these things that you know are false. These things may be your present excuse for future sin.

Trust is like sitting down. When you sit, you quit trying to hold yourself up, and you let the chair do the work. Trying is willpower; it is work. God does all of the saving. Quit trying.

You may believe the Cross academically and intellectually, but that belief is not trust. God did it all. Your emotions keep you from trusting, and your intellect keeps you from trusting. They are both man-centered, not God-centered.
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: ‘I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.’ Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.

Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and in fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:5)
It may be that you are thinking of the experience of being saved, not salvation. That is similar to putting your faith in faith. It does not work.

Next time, maybe, we will get to share how to know that we are saved.

Your friend,

Jim Wilson

Friday, September 14, 2018

Questions on Becoming a Christian 2

Dear Friend,

Your letter was very encouraging to me. I did not expect that my teaching and answering your problems would help.

Your not praying or reading the Gospels explains a lot. You have said several times that you want to be a Christian, but did not do two of the things that are causes of faith. “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the preaching of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Of course you have not had faith. You have not gone to the source.

Becoming a Christian is not an exercise of reason or intellectual answers. It is about a moral problem; it is a sin issue. You could have all of your questions answered to your satisfaction, and still you would not be a Christian.

Part of this belief, this trust in the completed work of Christ, is repentance from dead works to serve the living and true God. This turning from sin was the basic command in the prophets, of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-2), Jesus (Matthew 4:17), Peter (Acts 2:38), and Paul (Acts 26:20).

Here are a few paragraphs from the Bible to read with the intention that they will speak to your heart, not to your head: Isaiah 53, Luke 24:36-45, Revelation 20:11-22:21, Isaiah 55, 1 Corinthians 15:1-5, Romans 3, 4, and 5, Acts 9 and 17:30-31.

You are primarily an experiential person, not a rational one. You have been hiding behind these questions. They are not questions of intellect but questions of emotion. Look at your questions again. You are not questioning the validity of the acts or truth of the text, but you are questioning the validity of the motive of the acts. As long as these questions are not answered to your satisfaction, you can hang on to your sin a little longer. You have been pretending that they are intellectual questions. It would not make sense to say, “I know it is all, true but I will not receive Christ.” You know very well that it is all true.

Quit trying! Open yourself up to the love of God. He does all of the saving; you have no part in it except to be sick of sin.

In Christ,

Jim Wilson

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Questions & Objections on Becoming a Christian

Dear Friend,

I hope the books I sent to you were of some help. In my letter, I said that you did not need the peripherals in order to become a Christian. They do not change your need for redemption or the truth of 1 Corinthians 15:1-5: "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve."

First, I wish to comment on your struggle with depression and guilt. The feelings of guilt can be absolute or relative or false. Leviticus 5:17 describes guilt absolutely, unrelated to the conscience, and Romans 14:23 describes relative guilt.

In I Corinthians 4:4, Paul says “My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent.” Real guilt may be something beyond your conscience. It is also true that we can feel guilty about something that is not wrong. It is also true that a Christian’s conscience is more likely to be accurate because it has been cleaned (1 Timothy 4:2, Titus 1:15, Hebrews 9:4, Acts 24:16, Hebrews 10:19-22).

As I reread your letter, I realize that it is not just the peripherals; it is how you look at them. You may have a view of right and wrong that is senior to God’s and different from God’s. So you are judging these events by your standards, not God’s, and, consequently, God is guilty. It is not just that you do not understand them. You think you do understand them and find them evil. How can an evil God be a loving God and save sinners?

I will attempt to answer at least some of these questions, but first I would like to ask you to pray for three things.

1. That you would experience a tiny bit of how holy God is, as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6:1-8.
2. That you would begin to comprehend a little bit of the magnitude of your sin in the light of God’s holiness (also Isaiah 6:1-8).
3. That you would begin to see a little bit of the great love of God for you in your great sin in the light of his holiness (see Romans 5:6-8).

Becoming a Christian is not a rational procedure. Neither is it irrational. It is beyond reason. When God answers the three prayers, and He will, you will see a great difference in the examples you bring up.

Whether you think so or not, when you ask, “Why?,” you are not asking for information; you are asking God in an accusatory way. Any answer you got would not be satisfactory because you have already judged God. God is on trial before you. That is a dangerous position to be in. Even if it is not dangerous, He does not have to answer you on your conditions. Even if you are the most intelligent person in the world, you are only one seven billionth of the current human race. Read the last four chapters of Job.

Assuming that God has already answered your prayers, I will give some answers. If He has not, it may not help to read the rest of this letter until He has. My answers will approach the questions from God’s self-declaration of His own character.

1. God is JUST. Romans 3:26
2. God is love. 1 John 4:8, 16
3. God is holy. Isaiah 5:16, 6:3, Ephesians 4:24
4. God is merciful. Deuteronomy 4:31, Jeremiah 3:12, Psalm 77:9
5. God is good. Nahum 1:7
6. All the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-24

Rather than judge the qualities of God by His actions in the Bible, I will look at His actions in the light of these qualities.

As for your questions, here are some answers.

First wonder. Why did God spurn Cain’s offering?

The Bible does not say, but we have several clues.

1. Cain was very angry.
2. Then the Lord said to him, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door; it desires to have you but you must master it.”
3. Cain knew that he was wrong, and he did not repent.
5. He killed his brother Abel and lied about it.
6. God did not kill Cain.

This may not be satisfactory to you. If not, then we still do not know, and should not project bad motives on God. Since God IS good, if we are going to guess anything, we should guess good motives for God.

Second wonder. Why did He order the killing of Israel’s enemies?

First, God told why He would not kill them. Genesis 15:12-16 ends with, “for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.” Abraham would not get the promised land right away because the Amorites were not going to be bad enough until 400 years later.

Four hundred years later, the sin of the Amorites was complete. Read Deuteronomy 9:4-6.

This is the rule in the Bible. The Flood (Genesis 5:20), Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:23-32). Abraham asked, “Will not the judge of all the earth do right?” Of course! He would spare the whole city if there were ten righteous people in it. There were only four, and they were allowed to escape. Of those four, one turned back and died. The other three committed incest. They were the righteous ones. They were righteous by faith, not by works.

Jerusalem: Jeremiah 5:1-2.

Third wonder: Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?

The story starts in Exodus 3:19. Pharaoh’s heart was already known by God. The mighty hand of God compelled him. Exodus 4:21; 5:2; 6:1; 7:3, 13-14, 22; 8:15, 19, 32; 9:12, 34-35; 10:1-2, 20, 27; 11:9-10; 13:15-16; 14:4, 17. The answer is in these verses. Read each one. These are long answers to short questions.

Fourth wonder. Why did God hate Esau and love Jacob before they were born?

The Bible does not say that. It only says, “The older will serve the younger” (Romans 9:10-12). The next verse did not happen at birth; it happened 1,600 years later in Malachi 1:2-3. This is not talking about the two sons; it is talking about the two nations that resulted from those sons, proving that the older had served the younger.

With love in Christ,

Jim Wilson

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Christian Duty of Evangelism

In the Great Commission, there are two phrases which are often missed.

1. “As you go, make disciples”. The word is not go; it is as you go.
2. “teaching them to obey everything”

“As you go.” Christians are “going” all the time. It is “as they go” that making disciples takes place. It is not a special event; it is a continual event meant to happen throughout the course of your normal, daily life. You are meant to be making disciples as you go.

"Teaching them to obey everything." In the Great Commission, the Apostles were commanded to do three things: Make disciples, baptize them, and teach them to obey everything that Jesus commanded His apostles.

These new Christians were taught to obey everything. That includes making disciples, baptizing, and teaching everyone to obey. Therefore, all Christians are commanded to make disciples, baptize, and teach obedience. Every Christian is an evangelist, just by being Christian.

Here are the ingredients of evangelism:

• Be saved and know it. “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
• Rejoice always.
• Love God.
• Love your neighbor.
• Love your enemy.
• Love your brother.
• Love your wife.
• Love anyone who is in front of you at any given time.
• Be convinced that there is a Heaven.
• Be convinced that there is a Hell.
• Care about everyone you meet.
• Understand the Gospel and that God does the saving. “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve” (1 Cor. 15:1-5).
• Pray that God will lead you to the harvest and the harvest to you.

“Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field'" (Matt. 9:37-38). If this text is still true, then there are more people who are ready to be harvested than there are Christians who want them harvested. If you want to be an effective evangelist, then do some confessing about your previous years evangelizing. You do not need to help God out. God needs to help you.

Perhaps the best way of evangelizing to the homeless is in Luke: “But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:13-14).

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

When Little Annoyances Turn Into Great Transgressions

Dear Friend,

Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
(Psalm 19:13)

This is wonderful. If I am kept from willful presumptuous sins, if they do not get control over me, I will not be guilty of great transgression.

From what you have told me, you have been guilty of great transgression. This did not happen all of a sudden. The enemy had been feeding you with little annoyances for many years. Some of them you confessed, and some of them you did not confess. These temptations occurred in your home, at work, in school, with your family, and in church. God, in His goodness, kept using you for His glory even when you had lost the joy of your salvation. After a while, the Enemy set you up with a big temptation.

You may have kept your integrity in many ways. The Enemy knew that temptations in those areas would not have worked. The devil is not omniscient, but he got to know you. His object is to destroy the effectiveness for God in the home, in the church, and in the world.

After the person has fallen and apparently destroyed his witness, the Enemy tells him that since he has destroyed his witness anyway, he might as well keep it destroyed. That is another lie. “Where sin abounds, Grace does much more abound” (Rom. 5:20).

David committed great sins. However, he had a great view of God, a great view of his own sin, and a great view of God’s salvation. I am quite aware that what I teach today may be things you already know. However, I trust that this teaching will get beyond your knowledge and into your heart. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-­edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

Here are a few Scriptures to remind you of your life in Christ.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. (1 John 4:7-12)

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:19-21)

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. (Eph. 5:25-29)

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. (Gal. 5:19-24)
It has been a long time since you have had the fruit of the Spirit. It has been a long time since you have loved your wife. You will likely admit both of those statements as facts, but not in repentance. Loving her is not optional. How are you supposed to love her when you do not have the love for her? Fake it? No! In your present state you cannot love her as Christ loved the church. You must first get forgiven for your unlove and all of the sins of your actions and your mouth. All of these sins are against God only. Confess them to Him only. When you are restored, confess to her that you have confessed them to God.

You have five commands to love.

1. Love God. Matthew 22:37
2. Love your neighbor. Matthew 22:39
3. Love your wife. Ephesians 5:25-27
4. Love the brothers. John 13:34-35
5. Love your enemy. Luke 6:27-36

Your wife is not God.
She is your neighbor.
She is your wife.
She is your “brother.”
She is your enemy.

You must confess as gross sin, to God, not loving God, your neighbor, your "brother," your wife, and your enemy. Having been forgiven, choose to obey God and love her.

You need to confess, without being introspective, every sin that God brings to your attention that you have not confessed since you were born again. Your sins will be forgiven. There may be consequences, but God will give grace for those.

With love in the Lord Jesus,

Jim

Monday, September 10, 2018

The God of Hope & Provision

Dear K,

Thank you for coming by to see me. I think I can help, or rather know that God can, and maybe God will use me to help you.

You know God and know the Scripture, but somehow your knowledge does not get applied in such a way that you are delivered from your obsessive/compulsive life.

Your earthly desire has not been met. It may be the cause or the result of your obsessive/compulsive life. In any case, it has not been a help to you.

You have a lot of "why" questions. They turn out to be accusatory "whys" more than requests for information, explanations, or reasons. If God gave you His information, explanation, or reason, you would not think that it was satisfactory.

As you say, you have good "insight" about your problem. That insight has not been enough, however accurate to give you the will or the power to act on that insight.

• God is the God of hope, not of despair. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (Rom. 15:13).

• God is the God who overflows in His provision.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Rom. 5:15)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8)

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins. (2 Pet. 1:3-9)
These statements are objectively true. Your experience is not a means of determining the veracity of the statements.

King David had all kinds of wrong desires and sins. Yet he knew how to repent because he had a great view of God, his own sin, and God’s mercy. He did not minimize any of them.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak
and justified when you judge.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will turn back to you.
(Psalm 51:4, 12-13)

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me.
Teach me your way, O LORD;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the LORD
in the land of the living.
(Psalm 27:4, 10-11, 13)
First, I suggest you meditate on the above scriptures and thank God for them until you believe them in your heart, not just in your head.

If that does not, work then begin by confessing:
• Your desires
• Your “Whys”
• Your despair
• Your conclusions
• Your obsessive/compulsiveness

All of these are sins. By what standard? They are all selfish, and they are not of faith.

"But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin" (Rom. 14:23). You are certainly sorrowing about these things, but it is the sorrow of the world. There is no virtue in this kind of sorrow. Ask God for Godly sorrow.

"Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death (2 Cor. 7:10). Remorse is worldly sorrow.

God is greater than our hearts, and He does not condemn. "This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence, whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him" (1 John 3:19-22). This is how you can set your heart at rest in His presence whenever your heart condemns you.

"Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus... Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us" (Rom. 8:1, 34).

God's solutions are never complicated. They are always simple.

If we were visiting together the above truths, would not be said so abruptly. Please receive them with the love and kindness in which they are given.

With much love in Christ,

Jim Wilson

Friday, September 07, 2018

Simple, Free Salvation

Dear K,

If, in fact, there is more than one way to Heaven, then evangelical Christianity cannot be one of them. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
(Romans 6:27).

Salvation cannot be both free and cost something. Evangelical Christianity is simple and free. All others are very complicated and not free. Christianity is simple, free, and present tense.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

The words hears, believes and has are all present tense. The phrase “will not be judged” is future tense, and “he has crossed over from death to life” is past tense.

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:20-31).

“For he says, ‘In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.’ I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). Now is present tense.

I hope to hear from you,

Jim Wilson