On SalvationI have been busier than usual, but not too busy to turn on sermons from my favourite preachers and listen to what they have to say. One such preacher is a man named Paul Washer. Last night I listened to his wife's testimony, and to a three-part sermons series on assurance of Salvation. It is basically his Examine Yourself sermon stretched out over three days of preaching with a lot more elaboration.
But it made me turn back to 1 John, and think about evangelism and Paul's shotgun methods we read about.
But then I read Philemon and it made me cry. He has led Onesimus to the Lord, and Onesimus has become so dear to him, he calls him his heart. Paul uses his authority in his letters so frequently, something I feel like my attitude is at times, of "why don't you see this? don't make me come back there!!". And in this letter, he is so tender in his reference toward Onesimus. He seems a bit stern to Philemon, reminding him of the debt (I'm assuming Paul's leadership) he owes Paul in his plea to free Onesimus and welcome him as a brother. His words may be taken as stern, but it is apparent they are flowing from a love deep within. And this is what made me cry. The Lord has been breaking my heart about Him, about His ways, and about LOVE. Love being Him and His ways. God is love.
So, I guess, truly, I could criticize Paul. I could call him a loose cannon. But then I realize that it doesn't matter!!! Paul LOVES!!! Paul has been shown incredible grace after persecuting Christians to the point of death. He knows all about mercy.
Now, I may struggle with attitudes and imperfections, but now I understand love. And this is the irony, that I used to struggle with knowing whether or not I was a believer or not. And then I read 1 John, and I see that I am. I have learned to love. I don't deserve this. And sometimes it doesn't hit me hard enough, and I fear I will boast on my own strength. But the truth is that as I see how much I ought to love, the strength of Christ fills me and gives me the ability to love. We are given the mandate, and we are given the ability to love.
I ought not look at the outside, at the methods (although I have noticed they are coming with increasing compromise to the full gospel message, to be sure), I ought to fight and in the end, stand. With all I have, which is all I'm given. I was looking at the outside, saying "the Lord wouldn't use this, He surely won't do that after I've/they've done this." And that was so unbiblical. The Lord looks at the heart, and when He sees a heart willing to serve Him (because He's put that heart in us, and quickened our soul by His mercy and grace) it doesn't matter what that heart has done before or will do in the future, the Lord is merciful and about His glory, and will use even the most broken instrument to play a hymn for His pleasure and magnification.
But to get an understanding of what I'm talking about, I'm linking below to three blog posts by Dan Phillips over at TeamPyro. He does a great job of explaining that it is all about God when salvation is concerned. We must not concern ourselves with the methods or the means, but we must be sure that the full gospel is presented (and knowing the full gospel is a good place to start). Read the Bible daily. Become familiar with all of it. Know it backwards and forwards.