Food for Thought Concerning Personal Evangelism

Last week, I was in the middle of my early morning indoor cycling routine and skimming through Facebook. I came across a FB post that had as a very sincere comment, the following:

“We are to invite people to the Banquet in Heaven. 

Evangelism is 3 parts:

1. Determine if they are lost or saved. 

Do you know or hope you will go to Heaven? 

2. Plan of Salvation. 

3. INVITE THEM to Heaven!

Years ago I witnessed to a man but did not invite. I attended his funeral. I wished I had invited him.

Last year I invited a man. 2 weeks later his daughter called and said he had died. 

I have peace. I hope he is in Heaven, if he is not it is because he chose to reject JESUS. 

Popular Preachers who speak against sinner’s prayer and altar calls are pharisees causing cowardice. I witnessed to an Atheist. Told him TODAY you will accept or reject JESUS, or reject HIM, told him the consequences of each choice. He said:

“I really don’t want to reject JESUS.”

I left the following reply, hoping to start a discussion with “Bob” (not his real name):

1. It’s not our job to ‘determine’ whether a person is saved or not.

2. I believe that it’s the Holy Spirit who issues the invitation. We might speak words of invitation, but the Holy Spirit opens hearts dead in sin to answer the invitation and causes them to respond.

2. I believe we are to invite them to Christ for the forgiveness of sin, which IS an invitation to heaven!

First of all, know that I’m not bashing “Bob”. There was a time I shared a lot of “Bob’s” approach to evangelism. The desired discussion has yet to take place. I’m still praying. I want to ask “Bob” WHY he placed so much emphasis on the need to issue “invitations”, although I think I know. He felt badly when he had witnessed to but NOT issued an invitation (to Heaven), but at peace when he witnessed AND gave an invitation. You see, if a personal invitation is NOT given and the ‘witnessee’ dies and ends up in hell, at least some of the blood is on the hands of the ‘evangelist’. If an invitation is given and the receiver of the invitation rejects Jesus and dies, the ‘evangelist’ bears no guilt. He can breathe easy. He did his job.

I believe such an approach to be faulty, and for the reasons I stated in my reply to “Bob”.

1. It’s not our job to ‘determine’ whether a person is saved or not. That’s God’s business. The best we can do is find out what a person thinks his/her eternal destiny might be and go from there. We could be speaking to a genuine believer who lacks assurance of salvation for one reason or another. Besides that, there are a LOT of folks who are SURE they are heaven bound, but for the wrong reasons. Still, at the end of the day, only God know who is/isn’t saved. We are to proclaim the gospel to everyone – saved folks need to hear it again also.

2. I believe that it’s the Holy Spirit who issues the invitation. We might speak words of invitation, but the Holy Spirit opens hearts dead in sin to answer the invitation and causes them to respond. (See Lydia in Acts 16). When God has opened a heart to hear, that heart WILL eventually hear and a sinner will be saved.

2. I believe we are to invite them to Christ for the forgiveness of sin, which IS an invitation to heaven! I have yet to find an “invitation” to Jesus (or “Heaven”, for that matter. What I find is a command to “repent and believer the gospel”, given by Jesus himself.

Concerning “Bob’s” assertion that those who do not use the “sinner’s prayer” or have altar calls are cowardly Pharisees…well, some might be, but many might not be. That was completely uncalled for. They might not use either in their evangelistic efforts simply because neither one is used anywhere in the New Testament. There certainly might be a call to face one’s sin, repent and come to Christ, but no specific reciting of the sinner’s prayer as a mandatory act. “Altar calls” are a human invention that started with “the anxious bench” in Charles Finney’s day.

What’s the point of all this? It’s simple.

God is sovereign in the salvation of sinners!

_____________

Comments are encouraged.

Be Blessed!

4 Reflections after Listening to 18 Hours of Sermons in America’s Biggest Churches

By . Posted at 9Marks Ministries

What’s the preaching like in America’s biggest churches? That’s the question I set out to answer.

I listened to four sermons each from the country’s nine biggest evangelical churches: Church of the Highlands (Birmingham, AL), North Point Ministries (Alpharetta, GA), Gateway Church (Southlake, TX), Crossroads Church (Cincinnati, OH), Christ’s Church of the Valley (Peoria, AZ), Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, CA), Christ Fellowship Church (Palm Beach Gardens, FL), Elevation Church (Mathews, NC), and Southeast Christian Church (Louisville, KY). With an average sermon length of about 30 minutes, these reflections are based on approximately 18 total hours of material. As I listened, I found several common threads (click here for the complete notes from every sermon). Those threads will make up most this article—a state of American preaching, if you will. 

1. The gospel at best assumed; most of the time, it’s entirely absent. 

Let me begin with the most important observation: in 36 sermons, the good news of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection was unclear 36 times. Often, some or all of these facets of the Christian gospel were left out. “No gospel” became a common note. (Here’s an answer to the question you’re probably asking: What content is necessary in order to communicate the gospel?)

I don’t mean to say various elements of the gospel weren’t occasionally mentioned; they were. Todd Mullins (Christ Fellowship Church) mentions in his sermon series, “What Do You See Next?, that faith is believing in what Jesus did for you—carrying the cross, rising from the dead, etc. But none of those elements are articulated or explained. It’s unclear exactly why we need Jesus to do anything for us. Furthermore, it’s unclear exactly what he did by doing the things Mullins mentions. Isolated phrases here and there without much reference to how the Bible puts them together was the norm. 

In his sermon, “The Robe of Righteousness,” Robert Morris (Gateway Church) provides a happy exception. He mentions the doctrine of imputation, stating that we aren’t worthy of God and are in need of a “balancing (of our) . . . account.” Morris goes on to say that in the gospel we get Jesus’ assets while Jesus receives our debts. That’s as close to the gospel that any of these sermons gets—and even in this instance, the true things Morris mentions are isolated from the rest of the truths that make up the gospel message. (Neither God’s holy judgment, sin, nor repentance is mentioned.) 

But here’s what’s even more disheartening: in his next sermon, Morris says the Jesus who accomplished all this for us “lays down all his divinity” (“The Ring of Authority). Conspicuously missing from Morris’ explanation of what he calls “substitutionary, propitiatory, blood-bought salvation” is the response one must have to this message in order to be saved, which leads us to our next observation. 

2. Repentance rarely comes across as something urgent and necessary; instead, it’s either optional or not worth mentioning at all.

Repentance was mentioned only a handful of times in the sermons I listened to. Kyle Idleman (Southeast Christian Church) mentions repentance as a way to grow in Christian maturity. Morris says his daughter repented once and she was healed from migraines because the open door the enemy had in her life had been closed by doing so. Steven Furtick (Elevation Church), when speaking of the prodigal son, quips that the prodigal wasn’t repentant, just hungry. In explaining how brokenness precedes breakthroughs, Chris Hodges (Church of the Highlands) mentions repentance but doesn’t explain what it means or what it looks like to actually repent. In fact, Hodges hints that nominal Christianity—what he calls “fire insurance” Christianity—while not optimal, is all you need (“Mirror, Mirror”). 

Furthermore, the pastors of these churches rarely spoke like they were conscious that there were people in the building who were actively on their way to hell until they turned from their sins and trusted in Christ for salvation. Humans are never described as being in willful rebellion against God, and so sinfulness is described almost as a neutral happenstance, something that ought to be corrected by this or that but need not be overly dawdled over. 

Because of this, every blessed promise and every moral command was applied to everyone without exception. It would take someone with acute self- and Bible-awareness to realize that the sliver of sinfulness mentioned throughout the sermon is enough to sink their ship.

3. While the prosperity gospel is absent, its shadow lurks in the background. 

At least two of the churches, North Point and Crossroads, had a sermon or sermons on the subject of “winning.” Brian Tome (Crossroads) defines winning this way: “to find God’s will for your life and accomplish it” (“Tenacity”, week 2). What’s Tome’s win for this year? 100,000 social media followers so that his “spiritual influence” can spread. Tome goes on to say in his sermon, “Target,” that “winning” is a biblical commandment. 

Nearly all the sermons I listened to had a decidedly cheery tone. I also heard a lot about miracles—not necessarily as an implication of a decided theological framework, but rather as a rhetorical device to justify the sermon’s positive outlook on the future. 

Let me be clear: I don’t remember a single sermon that espoused an explicit prosperity gospel. No sowing seeds. No reaping financial harvests. But if you listened in as a visitor, it would be hard not to come away thinking that God wants you to live a happy life full of relational, mental, and emotional “wins.” Whether the preacher referred to “winning” or not, listening to these sermons could make one think that Christianity is most interested in curbing our bad habits so that we can all be better versions of ourselves. In fact, taken at face value, Ashley Wooldridge deserves an honorable mention in the clearest gospel category. He explained that Jesus lived a perfect life, died for all, and rose from the dead. But he said these things to prove Jesus is “the x-factor of habit change.” (“Stopping a Bad Habit”). 

Put simply, the themes of self-improvement and self-actualization crowded out a prior necessity: heart change and sanctification. Our greatest problem becomes that undesirable habit, not our underlying sin before God. And the result of knowing the Lord is reduced to being a better you and living a full life. The word “sin,” whether in believers or unbelievers, is rarely mentioned. All of this, of course, is divorced from any discussion of God’s judgment. In these sermons, God is affable. He’s not level with us, but he’s willing to level with us. He’s serious, but not too serious.

What about suffering? Well, there seemed to me to be an unstated assumption that positivity and progress comprise the general tenor of the Christian life. When suffering is talked about, it was usually mentioned as something to escape by talking to an elder or changing certain habits or mindsets. I couldn’t help but wonder: would these churches be a hard place for those whose lives, year after year after year, just kind of subsist?

Thankfully, Hodges (Church of the Highlands) devotes an entire message to suffering (“No Pain, No Gain”). He affirms that God leads us through dark days. But just as he points the audience to eternity with God in heaven, he makes a quip to lighten the mood. Still, this dose of realism served as a welcomed departure from what were otherwise generally light and positive sermons. 

4. The use of the Bible generally fell into two categories: misuse or abuse. 

Every preacher utilized the Bible in one way or the other—some more than others, others worse than some! Morris stood out as one who consistently read the entire passage he wanted to preach. Hodges read most of Genesis 32 in his sermon entitled “WrestleMania.” Rick Warren said Saddleback self-consciously tries to base everything they do on the Word of God. Most of the sermons had a main text of sorts but the degree to which the text was used varied. Narratives and parables were by far the preferred genre, and the move from text to application was usually hasty and direct. 

Take, for example, Idleman’s sermon, “One Day at a Time.” Luke 2 is his main text. He uses the passage to make the following point: since it took Jesus one day at a time to become who he was, we should expect the same. Tome said Rahab’s story is a lesson that no matter what happened in 2019, you can be a winner in 2020 (“Tenacity,” Week 2). Hodges compares the Old Testament law to things we in the present can’t break through in “Mirror, Mirror”; in “Wrestlemania”, he uses Jacob wrestling with God as an opportunity to ask his listeners about the areas they were currently wrestling through.

In still another sermon, “Hide and Seek,” Hodges makes a hermeneutic move that is paradigmatic for the rest of the sermons I heard. He directly applies promises given to Jehoshaphat and David assuring them of military victory (1 Samuel 30) to modern hearers. The application skips past the Bible’s storyline and fulfillment in Christ and moves directly to psychologized, anecdotal advice. 

Simply put, in these sermons, men mostly mishandle the Bible. It’s referenced, not revered; alluded to, not explained; sat across from, not under. When biblical stories are there, they’re commonly being co-opted into the vocabulary of whatever else the preacher is trying to say about winning or breaking through or whatever. The words on the page rarely speak for themselves.

CONCLUSION

The point of this project isn’t to poke fun at these churches or to indict their motivations. God alone knows the heart, and we are left simply to evaluate based on what’s observable. The point of this project is to provide a snapshot of what a large percentage of American church-goers might hear when they darken the doors of a church building on Sunday morning. We assume that because such preaching is popular in large churches, it’s often aspirational in smaller churches. 

My main take away, I believe, is to soberly reflect on the sermons we give and the sermons we listen to week in and week out. May God grant us and our churches mercy to clearly proclaim the gospel, edify the saints, and invite unbelievers into the greatest joy imaginable—life with God in Christ. 

* * * * *

Click here for complete notes from every sermon.

* * * * *

SERMON APPENDIX

North Point Community Church – Andy Stanley

  • “Winning” (December 29, 2019)
  • “Talking Points – One is the Win” (January 12, 2020)
  • “Talking Points – Choosing Sides” (January 19, 2020)
  • “Talking Points – Kingdom First” (January 26, 2020)

Saddleback Church – Rick Warren

  • “The Only Family That Will Last Forever” (January 5, 2020)
  • “What On Earth Am I Here For?” (January 12, 2020)
  • “The Values That Matter Most to Us” (January 19, 2020)
  • “How God Grows Our Faith” (January 26, 2020)

Southeast Christian Church – Kyle Idleman 

  • “One Day at a Time” (January 5, 2020)
  • “One Decision at a Time” (January 12, 2020)
  • “One Dollar at a Time” (January 19, 2020)
  • “One Need at a Time” (February 9, 2020)

Crossroads Church – Brian Tome

  • “Tenacity (January 11, 2020)
  • “Target” (January 4, 2020)
  • “People Over Politics” (February 8, 2020)
  • “Love” (December 21, 2019)

Gateway Church – Robert Morris

  • “King of Kings” (December 7, 2019)
  • “The Robe of Righteousness” (January 11, 2020)
  • “The Ring of Authority” (January 18, 2020)
  • “The Shoes of Sonship” (January 25, 2020)

Christ’s Church of the Valley – Ashley Wooldridge

  • “Starting a New Habit” (January 18, 2020)
  • “Start With Who Over Do” (January 11, 2020)
  • “Stopping a Bad Habit” (January 25, 2020)
  • “Owner Vs. General Manager (February 8, 2020)

Elevation Church – Steven Furtick

  • “The Father Saw” (January 19, 2020)
  • “Ghosted” (January 26, 2020)
  • “Flip the Bag” (February 2, 2020)
  • “Your Season to Succeed” (February 9, 2020)

Christ Fellowship Church – Todd Mullins

  • “The God of More Than Enough” (November 11, 2019)
  • “What Do You See Next? – Part 1 (January 6, 2020)
  • “What Do You See Next? – Part 2 (January 13, 2020)
  • “What Do You See Next? – Part 3 (January 21, 2020)

Church of the Highlands – Chris Hodges

  • “WrestleMania” (January 5, 2020)
  • “Mirror, Mirror” (January 12, 2020)
  • “No Pain, No Gain (January 19, 2020)
  • “Hide and Seek” (January 26, 2020) 

“This Is How Jesus Would Use Social Media!”

The above title is one of the leading statements for the marketing page for something called The Digital Missionary Academy. I found out about it this morning while scanning Facebook. I probably received it because I often respond to Christian FB posts, and because of a FB algorithm.

Please understand that I am not ‘bashing’ this particular online institution, nor am I averse to sharing Christ online. I am merely making a few ‘old guy’ observations that will probably reveal how I feel about the ‘Academy’ and like ventures. It goes with territory.

Having said that, I’ll share some of the text from the FB advertisement and share ‘old guy’ observations (in italics).   Please note that some of these observations are in the first person singular.

Trying to figure out how you’re going to spend the next 14 days stuck at home? Why not learn how to become a Digital Missionary?

Social media is the next frontier of effective evangelism… unfortunately very few Christians have the knowledge and skills to take advantage of it.

Effective evangelism, meaning that lost sinners are truly saved, depends on God, not me. My part is faithfully sharing the gospel that Christ that died for the sins of men I am ‘effective’. It is God who opens hearts to pay attention to the message. My part doesn’t change, whether it’s face to face, over the phone, via the internet, or handing someone a gospel tract to read. 

It’s not a lack of desire…

It’s a lack of training!

When you join Digital Missionary Academy, you’ll learn how to be active in your faith and lead others to Christ using the latest digital evangelism techniques…

So we are lead to believe that we need special training to be a ‘digital missionary” I suppose that means knowledge of, and training in the use of ‘digital’ devices. After all, the elements of the gospel message itself never change. The Apostle Paul was a ‘digital’ missionary and wrote

You can finally stop making excuses for not sharing your faith and learn how to live out the Great Commission, making disciples of all nations, even if your life is crazy busy!

WOW! You don’t have to share face-to-face and risk losing a friend who didn’t want to hear it! Less personal risk!

It only takes 20 minutes a week, and you’ll start to see results almost immediately.

Join Digital Missionary Academy today for FREE and see what you’ve been missing out on!

When you visit the site, you find out that what that actually means is that you can get a 30 day free trial and then pay $20.00 a month (a huge discount!) for the materials that will turn you into an effective evangelist and disciple maker. Here’s what you’ll get as a Digital Missionary Academy’ member:

  • Exclusive trainings with simple practicals so you can finally start bearing spiritual fruit and stop feeling guilty about not doing enough to share your faith ($197 Value)
  • Monthly challenges so you can instantly identify which of your friends are open and looking for God which means you can avoid that awkward feeling when you invite someone to church and they’re not even remotely interested ($47 Value)
  • Exclusive interviews so you can learn the tools, strategies, and success habits of top performing digital missionaries which means you can stop wondering if God only works through “super spiritual Christians” ($97 Value)
  • Proven “copy and paste” social media templates so you can instantly share high-performing church invitations without having to agonize over what to say or how to say it ($47 Value)
  • Online Courses like “Facebook Evangelism” so you can become a hyper-effective disciple-maker without spending four years and thousands of dollars to go to Bible college ($197 Value)
  • Instant access to the Digital Missionaries private Facebook group so you can learn from like-minded believers who are all encouraging each other to fight the good fight so you’ll never have to feel like you’re on your own (Priceless)

That’s a Total Value of $585 in training every month for only $20!

So if Jesus had social media, this is how he would have used it? I have a lot more on my mind about this, but I ‘ll not share it at the moment. This could be a Fox News moment………… I report, you decide.

Sharing Christ in a Hostile Culture, Pt 3– Our Duty, Our Great Privilege, and Our Highest Calling

In Part 1 of this series of articles, Be Available, we shared real examples of how doors seem to just ‘open up’ for sharing the message of the gospel, and what can happen when there’s a willing and available gospel messenger ‘on location’.

In Part 2, Situational Awareness, we compared our ‘Situation’ as believers in Christ – our status, and true citizenship, with our condition (situation) before repenting of sin and believing Christ.

This article focuses on understanding the nature of the believer’s role in sharing Christ with the world around us. Bear in mind that God, being GOD, is able to save lost sinners in any way He chooses to do so, with, or without our involvement. At the same time, it’s important to remember that God has not only provided for the salvation of His people (through Christ); he has chosen the means by which he saves lost sinners. – the preaching of the gospel (sharing Christ). This means that fur you and me (and all believers) sharing Christ with a lost world is at least three things; Our Duty, Our Great Privilege, and Our Highest Calling!

Our Duty

18And Jesus came and said to them (the disciples), “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Mathew 28:18-20)

You might be thinking that there is no command for personal evangelism in the above passage of scripture, I beg to differ. Jesus’ command, to ‘make disciples’, by its very nature requires sharing the message of the gospel. Disciples are only produced from saved; blood bought sinners. Jesus disciples (followers) were commanded to make disciples of those were already believers and preach the message of the gospel to those still lost so that they could then be made into disciples.

Our Great Privilege

God not only provided the way of salvation of His people in the death and resurrection of His Son, He also decreed the means whereby men are saved.

13“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 14How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:13-15)

The above passage is crystal clear. Those who call on the Lord will be saved. Calling on the Lord means believing in Him. To believe they must first hear the good news (evangel). For them to hear, someone must preach Christ to them. Those who share the good news are ‘sent’ by God to do so.

Dear friends, WE ae among those who are sent to share the good news! The Great Commission was given specifically to Jesus’ immediate disciple, but it was meant for all believers for all time.

God has chosen to use flawed you and me to share His perfect message of salvation! How is that NOT the greatest privilege bestowed on God’s children?

Our Highest Calling

I recently read an article in a local newspaper about an F/A-18 Super Hornet weapons system officer who was actually the first female pilot to bomb ISIS from an F/A 18. Here is how she described ISIS and her role in the bombing:

“They are a horrible crop of humans, with an utter disregard for human life,” she said. “To witness that, day in and out, to witness mass murder, you have such an understanding. I’d trained for so long to protect innocent people on the ground, and when I saw that violated, and to finally use my skills to do that and use weapons, there is no higher calling.” (Emphasis mine)

With no disrespect to either a fine Naval officer or anyone who fights global terrorism, I have to confess that the immediate reaction of this old soldier was “But there IS a higher calling!” – to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world around us, and often hostile culture in which we live.

In many churches these days much is made of living our best lives now, discovering our special purpose for our time on planet Earth, and even achieving our ‘dream destinies’. Friends, I suggest to you that all of those things are merely temporary at best. I also suggest to you that our duty and great privilege to share the good news of Jesus Christ with a lost world, and the eternal consequences at stake (heaven and hell), define the great commission as the highest calling a blood bought child of God has received from heaven!

Be blessed!

The Holy Spirit in Evangelism and the Salvation of Sinners

Evangelism

In the above quotation from J.I. Packer’s book,Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. we can see the work of the Holy Spirit in at least there ways.

1.  The Holy Spirit Empowers the evangelist.  While it is true that the message of the Gospel can be presented as if it’s a matter of mere facts, or an intellectual exercise, the sharing of the Gospel message In the power of the Holy Spirit carries with it  certain Divine authority that is not lost on the hearer.

2.  The Holy Spirit opens the heart of the hearer to receive the Gospel message. While it is also true that the Gospel message can be heard by anyone at all, a God-opened heart guarantees that it will be taken to heart, received with gladness, and a lost soul saved for eternity. No better example can be found than the woman Lydia in the 16th Chapter of the book of Acts.

3.  The Holy Spirit no only empowers the evangelist and opens the heart of the sinner, He also empowers the new born believer to live for God and serve Him from that day forward.. It is the Holy Spirit that works in the Christian both to desire and to do what is pleasing to his Lord. (Phil 2:13).

Food for thought………….

Falsely Claiming Precious Promises

How many times have you seen or heard a promise from God spoken or inserted into a meme all by itself, without the surrounding context? I know I’m guilty. In this post I want to ask a question.

Why is it that we love to claim promises God made the people of Israel, as our own, without the Biblical context? I’ll let the reader consider it and perhaps offer an answer.

Perhaps two of the most cited examples are Jeremiah 29:11 and 2 Chronicles 7:14. We’ll put each one back into its Biblical context.

Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

Here’s the context – Jeremiah 29:4 – 11:

4“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. 8For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Do not let your prophets and your diviners who are among you deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams that they dream, 9for it is a lie that they are prophesying to you in my name; I did not send them, declares the LORD. 10“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place.11For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (emphasis mine)

In the above passages, we have God speaking to the exiles in Babylon. Through the true prophet Jeremiah, God is telling them how they should live while in captivity (vv.5 – 7), to stop listening to false prophets (vv. 8 – 11), and then promises to bring them out of captivity.

2 Chronicles 7:14

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Here’s the context – 2 Chronicles 7:11 – 14:

11Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (emphasis mine)

In 2 Chronicles 7:14 God spoke directly to Solomon after the completion of the building of the house of the LORD, telling the King that WHEN He, (God himself) stopped the rain, sent plagues of locusts, and pestilence (destructive plague) among his people, IF they would humble themselves and pray, He would bring healing.

Although there certainly are great lessons to be drawn from both of our oft-quoted (out of context) passages, God spoke to His covenant at particular moments in history.

I’m not debating whether or not today’s Christians are God’s covenant people (a frequently used explanation for claiming them for us in our time), or if the United States is God’s favored nation. That argument has been had throughout the centuries, and is still very much alive today. I’m just asking a question.

Why do we take verses out of their Biblical contexts and make them personally ours, without considering their Biblical contexts? With the above passages specifically, we have precious promises connected to some pretty ‘dire’ circumstances and warnings!

Please consider it, offer an answer, and above all “Be blessed!”.