AN OPEN LETTER TO MY FRIENDS AND NEIGHBORS
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Please let me take a few minutes of your time to answer some questions for you:
WHY IS AN EVANGELIST NEEDED IN A “CHRISTIAN” COMMUNITY?
In 1982, I left my CPA practice in Waverly, Iowa, to devote my time completely to the work of an evangelist. Many of my friends and neighbors may have wondered why an evangelist would be needed in our community. I have developed a concern for those in “Christian” communities for the following two reasons:
(1) There is a difference between being LIKE a “Christian” and BEING a Christian.
(2) As a Christian, there is a difference between doing what we THINK is pleasing to Christ, and doing what ACTUALLY pleases Christ.
ARE ALL "CHRISTIANS" TRULY CHRISTIANS?
In Ephesians 2:8-10 we read:
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. (verse 8)
Not of works, lest any man should boast. (verse 9)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (verse10)
In these verses, we can see God’s plan of salvation (verse 9) contrasted to man's way of salvation (verse 9). We can also see the evidence of salvation (verse 10). As we examine the above verses together, I am confident that you will agree with me that not all “Christians” are truly Christians.
First, as we look at God's plan of salvation in contrast to man's way of salvation, we should ask ourselves the following question:
Have we BEEN saved by grace through faith in the work of Christ at the cross, or are we HOPING to be saved by our own works? We can see that the Ephesians were not saved by what they had done, but by what Christ had done for them. Their salvation was a gift received and not wages earned. We know that even according to our laws, a very good man can commit one terrible crime, and he will be punished for that crime in spite of all the good he may have done. Since God has said that ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we can see that our sins (which are crimes in God's eyes) must be punished. But Christ has been punished for us. In Isaiah 53:5 we read, But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Thank God! We can not put away our own sin, but Christ already has. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6). God's way of salvation is so much better than our way. Perhaps we should all examine ourselves as to what we are depending on for our salvation!
We can also see that the Ephesians were SURE that they were saved. Paul apparently had no doubt about it, and I am sure that the Ephesians had no doubt about it. They were sure because they were depending on the finished work of Christ rather than on their own unfinished work. To be saved, they had to be saved from something, and the previous portion of the chapter shows that they were saved from the judgment that their sin deserved. Thus, they were saved from hell and for heaven as well as to glorify God by enjoying a new life in fellowship with Him now. This chapter shows that they knew how they were saved, when they were saved and where they were saved. Perhaps we should all ask ourselves if we know for sure that we will be in heaven when we die, and if we know how, when and where we were saved!
In addition, we should ask ourselves, “If I am saved, what evidence is there in my life that this great event has taken place?” The tenth verse says that we are not saved by good works, but UNTO good works. Thus, a Christian will have a desire to please the One who died for him, and while a Christian is not sinless, he should sin less than he did before he was saved. Perhaps we should all ask ourselves whether we now have a desire to know and to do the will of God!
WHAT TRULY PLEASES CHRIST?
As an evangelist, I not only want to see my friends and neighbors saved from hell and for heaven; but I would like to instruct Christians in he path of obedience. True Christians will have seen that they cannot work their way to heaven, but that they can work to please the One who has saved them. In our community, there are many “places” and “ways” to “worship” God. I am convinced that God has “one way” (John 14:6 and John 4:24), and it is our duty to know it and to be obedient to it. Thus, we can ALL be wrong, but we cannot all be right. The path of obedience in Scripture involves among other things:
(1) Looking to Christ alone for salvation (John 6:40).
(2) Baptism by immersion to show that we are Christians (Romans 6:4).
(3) Being separated from the world to Christ, but not from believers. (Thus, denominationalism is wrong. See I Corinthians 1:10 and II Corinthians 6:17.)
(4) Worshipping in a simple way in a place that is established after the new testament pattern that has been given to us (Hebrews 8:5). While we cannot discuss the path of obedience fully in this little paper, we can ask the question, “Are we worshipping in the place and way of OUR choice, or are we constantly searching the Scriptures to conform our path to what pleases Him?”
WHAT MAKES ME THINK I AM RIGHT?
I know that your next question may be, “What convinces you that you are right and that others who differ with you are wrong?” That is a very good question, and I have a very good answer. The Scriptures convince me that I am right. I have many faults and failures, and I have many things to learn. But I only preach the things that I know and am assured of from the Word of God (II Timothy 3:14). Can you say the same about the things that you practice? If you have a desire to discuss these matters further, please contact me:
3828 Memory Lane
Waterloo, IA 50701-9351