Friends,
When I taught in the public school, I always tried to include, the week before St. Patrick’s Day, a history lesson about St. Patrick, particularly because it was a great way to bring up discussion about Christianity. Not only did the discussions prove to allow the students to evangelize their classmates, but I found the story itself fascinating and it seemed that the kids did also. So when someone sent this article (below) to me a few days ago, I found it to be an exceptional summary of the account and want to pass it on also. It is written by Paul Johansson of Central Lutheran Church in Elk River, Minnesota.

~~~~~

Central,

What would St. Patrick tweet? I ask because this Sunday is St. Patrick’s day.

First let’s remind ourselves who St. Patrick is. In the late 4th and early 5th century after the time of Jesus, near the edge of the Roman empire, somewhere in northeastern England, there lived a Roman Briton name Patricius, (later known as Patrick) who was 16 years old. Patrick was somewhat rebellious, by his own admission.

When he was 16 a band of Celtic pirates sailed from Ireland and conducted raids in that part of England. Patrick was captured during one of these raids and taken against his will. Once in Ireland, Patrick was sold to a tribal chieftain, a Druid named Miliuc, who put Patrick to work herding cattle. It was long, arduous and lonely work.

He writes in his Confession: “After I reached Ireland I used to pasture the flock each day and I used to pray many times a day. More and more did the love of God, and my fear of him and faith increase……as I now see, the Spirit was burning in me at that time.” Patrick began to identify this presence with the Triune God he had learned about as a child. Without any other human beings, Patrick was become a heartfelt Christ follower and his captors began to notice a change in him.

At the same time, he began to identify with the very people who had enslaved him. He learned their language and culture, understood their worldview. He began to love them deeply and saw them as beloved humans and not the barbarians most Romans considered people outside the empire to be. Still Patrick was a slave and wanted to be free.

After six years in captivity, he received a vision one night in a dream where a voice said to him, “You are going home. Look! Your ship is ready.” In the morning he began the 200 mile walk to the seacoast and eventually found himself on a ship bound for France and then made it back to England. Soon after he rejoined his family, Patrick had another vision. In this dream, a man he knew in Ireland came to him with letters from his former captors. As he read the letters in his vision he heard them crying as if they were one voice: ‘We beg you, holy youth, that you shall come and shall walk again among us.’

When Patrick awoke, he interpreted this dream as a “Macedonian call” much like the Apostle Paul had experienced. Patrick believed that he was being called to go back and ‘walk among’ the very people who had enslaved him. He would now be the captor, capturing these people with the good news of Jesus Christ. He studied for the priesthood and eventually got permission to back to Ireland despite the protests of his family and some church superiors.

Typically, the Roman Church wanted new converts to be “Romanized.” They were expected to learn Latin, adopt Roman customs and do church the “Roman way”.
Patrick adopted a radically different approach. Patrick knew it was all about walking with people and helping people find God in their lives and experiences. About 700 churches and monastic communities were planted by him as he walked with people. Women were usually part of Patrick’s ministry team, with men and women serving side by side.

The effect of Patrick’s ministry on Ireland was nearly a complete transformation. On St. Patrick’s Day we celebrate someone who was willing to use a tragic and unfair circumstance in his life as a springboard to make a difference amongst the very people who had enslaved him.

So, what would St. Patrick tweet?

WALK WITH PEOPLE AND BE THE GOOD NEWS OF JESUS TO THEM!

This Sunday our Journey Through Mark leads us to Mark 11:12-25. Take time to read and reflect on the Word as you prepare for worship!

Paul

~~~~~

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
After evangelizing at the bus and train stops downtown yesterday and thinking about the various people I saw, met, and/or conversed with, I wondered again about one particular homeless woman. Why did she react to my presence so vehemently? All the other encounters I had yesterday were positive or neutral, but she –well, she showed extreme irritation toward me. And this was in spite of me not having said anything to her or even having been within fifteen feet of her.

I had been standing at one corner with my signs for quite some time, had crossed the street, had handed some tracts out over there, had crossed back, and then noticed a homeless woman leaning against the fence who had not been there before. I smiled at her and resumed my original position for oncoming cars to see my signs. Almost immediately, I noticed the homeless woman suddenly walking angrily toward me, muttering something and shaking her head. It appeared that she was going to swing her bag at me, but she then went to the corner, still muttering and stomping, and waited for the light to turn green. When it did, she walked halfway into the street but then came back, muttering angrily some more, glaring at me, and looking like she was going to attack me. When this type of thing has happened to me before (which is rare), I just pretend to be oblivious, which is what I did this time. Thankfully she turned back from me and left.

So, thinking back about that incident this morning, I remembered 2 Cor. 2:15,16, which I then looked up, read, and meditated on. It says, “For we are to God the sweet aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the oder of death and demise; to the other, a fragrance of life.” How true. And yes, how often it is that those who are completely entangled in the devil’s power are the ones who get angry when they see a message of freedom. Of course, some people take hope and feel an urge to repent, but others, having repeatedly rejected every hope of deliverance offered just feel furious at the suggestion. Very tragic.

Truly, those who have not loved the Truth and the Way of Righteousness continue to allow themselves to become more and more deceived and entangled until it becomes too late (2 Thes. 2:10-12 // 2 Pe. 2:20-22) –too late to perceive the Gospel’s message of deliverance, holiness, victory, and salvation, so that death and demise become their self-constructed eternal fate. Let’s care about this monstrous tragedy! Let’s see it for what it is so that we will be compelled to get out and warn people before they descend down into that hardened state of no return.

Let’s evangelize. (2 Cor. 2:14) Through Christ’s love, Spirit, and ambassadorship. (5:14-21) This year. Now.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Last Thursday while evangelizing downtown, I had many wonderful conversations with people about God’s Word. One woman, who looked semi-homeless, waved me to come over to her and was visibly joyful while talking about Jesus, exclaiming that she would love to evangelize also. When I gave her about 25 short tracts I’d written and asked if she wanted to pass them out as a way to begin intentional evangelism, she responded eagerly. May the Lord increase her faith, boldness, joy, and love for the Truth.

Because I use signs and hold up my Bible, I’m pretty conspicuous while evangelizing, and I do this so my message will be noticed and so as to attract inquirers. On 10/23/18 a young college student, also excited about my efforts, asked to take my picture, I asked him to send it to me, and here that is:

So, last Thursday, as lunch time approached, I went up to the restaurant area and it so happened that the first guy I conversed with there was a man who reminded me that we’d met a few months ago.

“Oh, that’s right,” I said. “Jason?”

“Close,” he answered. “Justin.”

I remembered that he had claimed to be a Christian but had also been vehemently opposed to the message that we must be obedient to Christ and live holy. He asked me again if willful sin would cause us to lose our salvation. I said that willful sin, not repented of, and continued in, would indeed. He was very upset that I would teach this, and so I quoted many verses for him (Heb. 10:26-31 and John 15:10 and Rom. 8:9 and Col. 2:11 and others) and also emphasized that repentance means a renunciation of sin, a turn from sin, and a following after Jesus in the opposite direction from sin.

Justin asked me several questions and I answered each with verses, but surprisingly all it seemed to do was make him more and more upset, verging on anger. “I can’t believe you would teach people this false doctrine,” he repeated.

“But it is what God’s Word teaches,” I replied, and then after quoting Gal. 5:24, I added, “What do you believe this verse is teaching?”

Justin was already starting to walk away, but he stopped long enough to throw in his parting statement: “You must be twisting those verses or taking them out of context.” Then off he hurried.

That was that. Justin wanted to know what I was actually teaching, but when I told him and used the authority of God’s Word concerning it, he closed his ears. Just like he did the last time a few months ago.

This is how so many people behave who think they’re saved. See, they love the proclamation of freedom from sin’s penalty (Hell), but they do not love the proclamation of freedom from sin. They want to be able to go on sinning safely. They want to feel okay in it. They want to believe they are right with God even while they continue to blaspheme His power –the power He has given those united with Christ’s Spirit– which teaches us to reject sin and which gives us all we need for doing so. (Titus 2:11-14 // 2 Pe. 1:3,4)

God’s Word warns us that there will be many people, especially in the last days, who will have “a form of godliness but [be] denying its power.” (2 Tim. 3:5) We are told in the rest of the verse, “Have nothing to do with them.” Truly, those who stay in company with those who deny that God gave us His power to live consistently in holy conduct, will, most definitely, grow increasingly deaf. (1 Cor. 15:33 // 2 Thes. 2:10-12)

1 Tim. 4:1-5 warns us, as well, about those who follow the deceptive doctrines originating from demons, and a phrase tucked within verse 3 jumped out at me this morning in my Bible reading time. It says, “God created [all food] to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the Truth.” I noted, “by those who believe and who know the Truth.” Knowing the Truth and training ourselves to behave accordingly, in godliness, is what abiding in The Faith (The Gospel of Salvation) is about. (v. 6-8) Living out “the truths of the faith” (v. 6) and “the good teaching” (same verse) so as to not “abandon the faith” (v. 1), is essential for salvation (v. 16), for the promises for both this life and the next hinge on our godliness. (v. 8) Truly, those who refuse the sound instruction of Jesus regarding godly teaching (6:3) are conceited and understand nothing (v. 4), have a corrupt, contentious mind (v. 5), and deny that obeying “the command to do good” (see v. 18) is vital for remaining in the faith. (v. 18-21)

Apparently, many people think that the Gospel is only one statement of Truth that people must accept in order to be saved. Yet “even the demons believe” (Ja. 2:19) in who Jesus is and what He has done for mankind. (Mark 3:11) But they do not hold to (live out / put into practice) Christ’s teaching –which is necessary for belonging to Him (Mt. 7:13-27 // John 8:31)– and so they do not know, experientially, the Truth that frees. (John 8:32) Indeed, “the deep truths of the faith” (1 Tim. 3:9) must be diligently walked in. (Same verse)

And what about the Scriptures? Even the unsaved know they exist as physical letters on pages, and some even acknowledge they are sacred. However, unless a person experiences, on a consistent basis, the Spirit and the Life within the Living Word (John 6:63 // Heb. 4:12), that person, not actually in unity with Jesus, is unsaved. (John 6:53-63 & 15:1-10 // 1 Pe. 1:22-25 // 2 Pe. 3:17,18)

All the Truth within the Gospel is important and true. Therefore “whatever is contrary to the sound doctrine that conforms to God’s glorious Gospel, which He entrusted to me [Paul]” (see 1 Tim. 1:10,11), is to be rejected as error that can “shipwreck one’s faith” (see v. 19) and damn a person forever. (4:16 & 6:21 // Gal. 1:6-9)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Randy,
I ask that you dial back your tone and examine yourself to understand why you are so angry (or aggressively hyper) about the subject of freedom from sin. People all over the globe disagree on all sorts of things and we should state, maturely, our informed viewpoint and give others the same right.

You say you’ve read all my posts (really, all of them?) and even reread them, and you say of me, “You still claim that you don’t EVER sin.” Once again, I ask you, please give me my exact quote of where I claim that. I don’t. Rather, I teach that the Gospel proclaims freedom from sin (Rom. 6:18), and continued freedom from sin as we live by the Spirit (Gal. 5:16), which we can do as we strive to please God in the power of His Spirit, enabled by what Jesus has done for us. (Rom. 8:1-9)

In your comment two days ago, you attribute me to being a Pharisee who, while looking down on others, prays self-righteously and is not forgiven by God. Today you write that my blog “shows how judgmental you are.” But have you not been judging me, Randy? Regardless, judgments are something we should all do, but do by the Spirit of the Lord. As Jesus commanded us, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” (John 7:24)

What is it with you and Steve Brown? Is he your pastor? Why do you feel the need to defend him and his theology? Our debate should stay focused on your belief and my belief about what God’s Word teaches.

Are you saying that 1 Cor. 15:1-4 is the entirety of the Gospel and that’s all we need to know? Or is Paul not rather emphasizing that belief in Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, done to pay for mankind’s sins, is crucial? Paul’s statement in verses 3 and 4 is not complete until the end of verse 5, which says, “and that He appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.” Paul then goes on in verses 6 and 7 about who else Jesus appeared to, including him (Paul). Then verses 9-11, along with verses 1 and 2, show that Paul’s point is that his (Paul’s) teaching is from God Himself, is the Gospel that saves, and is the doctrine that must be held to firmly, because, “Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” (v. 2b)

Paul writes in Rom. 8:13,14, “For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Randy, are these verses part of the Truth we must know, and thus part of the Gospel? Is this not a matter of Eternal Life or Eternal Death? –A matter of being a child of God or not?

Paul writes in Rom. 6:6,7, “For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be rendered powerless, that we should no longer be slaves to sin –because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” Is this part of the Gospel? Is it important to know? These verses are not about physical death freeing us from sin but instead, as the context (ch. 6-8) shows, is about dying to sin and living for Christ.

Paul warns in Gal. 5:21, “I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Live like what? Live with the actions of the sinful nature –impurity, discord, etc. (v. 19-21) Are you saying this is not part of the Truth / the Gospel? Hopefully not, because Paul says, “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.” (Gal. 5:24) You call yourself a sinner (though God’s Word does not call Christ-followers sinners, but instead “servants” or “saints”), yet how can a person who has crucified the sinful nature still be characterized as a “sinner”? If you really hate sin, have you crucified your sinful nature? How can a person belong to Jesus if he has not crucified (killed) his sinful nature / his old self? Are you contradicting Gal. 5:24?

When we, by the Spirit, “put to death the misdeeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13 again) and sow to please the Spirit which results in Eternal Life (Rom. 6:22 // Gal. 6:8), actually walking in the freedom from sin we’ve been granted (Rom. 6:18), we are lead into holiness (v. 22) with Christ being formed in us. (Gal. 4:19) For it is by being “filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:11) that we walk “pure and blameless until the day of Christ.” (v. 10) Filled… filled up… with the fruit… there must be fruit –the fruit of righteousness. This producing of fruit comes only from righteous, obedient-to-Christ acts, through which the Bride makes herself ready. (John 15:1-10 // Rev. 19:7,8)

Are you, Randy, proactively doing what it takes, daily, to be filled with the fruit of righteousness so that Christ is formed more and more fully in you? If you truly hate sin, are you “making every effort to be found blameless” (see 2 Pe. 3:14) by “living a holy and godly life” (see v. 11) so that being increasingly “conformed to the likeness of Christ” (see Rom. 8:29) is your daily experience? For “This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him, must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:5,6)

It is only as we walk in the Light that we are purified of every sin. (1 John 1:7) If we walk in the darkness (sin, evil, falsehood, ignorance), we can claim to be having fellowship with God, but we are lying, and are not living in the Truth. (v. 6)

We have been granted freedom from sin. (Rom. 6:18) But we must know the Truth, and be walking in the Truth, to experience this freedom. (John 8:31-36)

Rachel

Friends,
My husband and I came across this one minute clip last Saturday and listened, appalled, as R.C. Sproul explained how God’s regenerative (saving) grace has not been offered to everyone: https://youtu.be/pA-MdYusaIM

Sproul is not teaching the Good News here, but rather perverting it. Gal. 1:8,9 has a dire warning of eternal condemnation for those who do this, and verses 6 and 7 reveal that anyone who believes the words of such teachers are deserting the Lord to walk in the confusion of a different gospel –one that does not save.

The issue really comes down to what all false doctrines tout: “God actually means something other than what His words appear to mean.” It is therefore an issue of the authority of the Word of God. Who is a person going to believe? –The straight-forward, commonsense reading of Scripture, or instead the philosophies that men impose upon it.

God’s Word has told us repeatedly that God, in wanting all people to be saved (2 Pe. 3:9), sent Jesus to pay for sin, all sin, thus pardoning everyone (Isa. 53:6 // John 1:29 & 3:14-18 // 2 Cor. 5:15 // 1 Tim. 2:3-7 // 1 John 2:2) and that the Light (Life / Jesus) has been given / offered / extended to every single human being. (John 1:4-9 & 12:32 // Titus 2:11) This Gift of Salvation is not forced upon any person, but each person, of his own choosing, must reach out and take the Gift, doing so by believing in Jesus’ name. (John 1:12 & 6:28,29,33,40 & 11:25,26 // 2 Cor. 5:18-21) After the person chooses to do this, God gives that person the right to become His child / to be born from above, and to be an heir of eternal life. (John 1:12,13 & 3:3-21,36 // Eph. 1:13)

Calvinists don’t accept that the word “world” in God’s Word means “world”. They change the word to mean “the world of those elected by God from eternity past to be saved”. They refuse to acknowledge that in doing this they are rejecting the authority of the Word of God so that they can press into the text their man-made theology. Moreover, they refuse to recognize that in claiming that God decreed, from eternity past, everyone’s fate –some to be saved and most to be damned (for His glory and because He wills this scenario)– they are actually negating the need for Jesus to die to pay for anyone’s sin. Truly, why would Jesus have had to die for the elect if the elect were already, from eternity past, and before they believed in Jesus, unchangeably decreed saved?

Certainly Calvinists, in holding to their doctrines of TULIP and claiming that God has already predetermined every thought, word, and action, including evil ones, should admit that their theology, if viewed logically, tosses out the need for evangelism, prayer, and preaching. In fact, why waste our time trying to do anything but meet our own indulgences, since God has supposedly already preordained everything, including who will be saved and who will be damned?

That false, absurd, and even cunning, philosophies of men and demons persist (Col. 2:4,8 // 1 Tim. 4:1) is why it is crucial that we read Scripture for ourselves, accept the clear statements that we read there, and progress in the knowledge of the Truth through the teaching of the Holy Spirit Himself. (John 14:26 & 15:15 & 16:12-15 // 1 Cor. 2:9-16 // 1 John 2:26,27)

~~~Let’s consider these verses, though there are many more, regarding the Truth that Jesus paid the ransom for all mankind:

In Mt. 28:19 Jesus says, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…”

In Luke 2:10 we read that an angel of the Lord said to the shepherds, “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.”

In John 1:29 John the Baptist says of Jesus, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

In John 6:33 Jesus says, “For the bread of God is He who comes down from Heaven and gives Life to the world.”

In John 12:32 Jesus says, “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth will draw all people to Myself.”

In Rom. 5:18 we read, “Therefore, just as one trespass brought condemnation for all people, so also one act of righteousness brought justification of life for all people.”

In 2 Cor. 5:15 we read, “For all He died, that those living should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them, and was raised again”; and in verse 19, “God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.”

In 1 Tim.2:3-6 we read, “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the Truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all men.”

In Heb. 2:9 we read, “…He suffered death, so that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone.”

In 2 Pe. 2:1-3 we see that Jesus “bought” (redeemed / ransomed) even heretics, who, in following their heresy, forfeit their own salvation and bring condemnation and destruction to themselves.

In 1 John 4:14 the apostle John says, “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.”

It is clear that Scripture teaches that Jesus died for all mankind.

~~~Now here are some verses, though there are many more, that show that everyone has been offered eternal life by means of choosing faith in Jesus:

In John 3:15,16 Jesus says, “…the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

In John 5:24 Jesus says, “Whoever hears My Word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life.”

In John 6:40 Jesus again reveals God’s way of salvation by saying, “For My Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son [it’s a choice] and believes in Him shall have eternal life…”

In Acts 10:43 Peter says, “All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.”

In Rom. 1:16 Paul says, “…the Gospel… is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”

In Rom. 4:24 Paul says, “…God will credit righteousness –for us who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”

In Rom. ch. 10 we see that the Gospel is for the whole world, and that anyone who believes it, trusts in Christ, confesses that Jesus is Lord, calls on His name, and submits to God’s righteousness, is justified and saved. Note: We pursue God’s righteousness by faith (9:30-10:4) and in the power of His Spirit (8:4), and this results in obedience, righteousness, holiness, and eternal life. (6:16-22)

In Rev. 22:17 we read, “Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.”

~~~God has commanded everyone to repent and believe the Good News, but giving this command would make God disingenuous if, while commanding this, He was actually withholding from many the ability to repent, believe, and be saved. Yet this is what Calvinism teaches. However, the Truth teaches that God’s offer of salvation, as well as His commands, are genuine and given to all without partiality. (Acts 10:34,35) Here are some verses showing this:

As Jesus preaches through Galilee (Mark 1:14), He gives this command: “Repent and believe the Good News!” (v. 15)

Jesus says in Luke 24:46,47 that the Scriptures teach that “The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”

In Acts 17:30 Paul says, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.”

In Acts 26:20 Paul says, “First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.”

1 John 3:23 says, “And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love…”

Are we really to believe that God sends these exhortations out, through His messengers and Word, to all towns and nations, while at the same time refusing to enable most of the people to actually heed the words? Are Calvinists really describing the character and decrees of the One True God who is perfect in His justice? (Dt. 32:3,4) Or are they describing a god who sounds more like a demon? In contemplating this, let’s remember that Calvinism teaches that God commands everyone to repent, and He holds everyone accountable and guilty who do not do so, but at the same time, God also, they say, deliberately withholds the ability to repent from those He wills to damn.

So, let’s get it straight what Calvinists are teaching about God. They say that God, being Sovereign, could save everyone, but that He chooses not to do so, and not for the sake of allowing everyone the freedom to choose Him or reject Him, but instead because He wills (desires) that many be damned, and this for the purpose of making the elect be more grateful and full of praise toward Him. In other words, God relies on damning many people in order to get the highest possible praise from the elect for His love, mercy, and justice. This is indeed what staunch Calvinists teach, so besides a perverted gospel, they also proclaim a perverted god.

Do such reasonings not deeply defame the True God’s character and make Him out to be sadistic? It sounds similar to what a disturbed boy might do who collects a bunch of crickets, and deciding to play a fantasy game of war, proceeds to torture with pins and rocks those on the side he wants to lose. Would not all of us view such a boy as demented? What if he decided to torment a duck or a puppy –just because he could? We would call such a boy deranged and we would definitely try to save the suffering creature from the evil boy.

But humans, who God made in His image, are much more valuable to Him than any creature would be to us. God is our Creator and our Father. Thus He would rather have His Son be killed to ransom those He created than to have anyone, usurped by the devil and caught in his evil kingdom, remain there. Yes, many remain there, but it is due to their own rebellious insistence to remain there, not because God refuses to save them. (John 3:17-21) Yes, God will eventually disown them, but only after trying to woo them and plead with them, the whole course of their lifetime, to believe His Message, to repent, and to choose Life instead of Death. (Isa. 65:1-3 // Ezek. 18:30-32 // Mt. 23:37 // 2 Tim. 2:12 // Heb. 9:27 // 2 Pe. 3:9)

Sproul and other Calvinists seem to often try to soften their awful doctrine of Limited Atonement by bringing up God’s “common grace” for all. Yes, truly, God “is kind to the ungrateful and wicked” (Luke 6:35), is merciful to them (v. 36), and commands us to be merciful to everyone also. (v. 27-36) But why even bring this up when speaking about eternal salvation? For Jesus warned, “What good is it for a person if he gains the whole world yet loses or forfeits his very self?” (Luke 9:25) If Jesus considered all earthly blessings to be worthless if one’s soul is lost forever, then why pretend God is good to the un-elect if, while giving them blessings on earth, He nonetheless withholds eternal salvation from them?

Let’s say that a husband and wife choose to have a lot of kids –let’s say, 15 of them. They meet the needs of all their children for about the first eight years of their lives, but then arbitrarily banish each of them, except two, to the basement for the rest of their lives, giving them the bare necessities so they don’t die. For the two they preserve for living normally, they present repeated reminders about their gracious parenting skills and about how grateful those two should be, as well as how benevolent they were to all the other 13 children for each of their first eight years. When finally found out and sent to court, these two parents excuse their behavior before the judge by saying, “Those children belong to us, for we conceived and birthed them, and we therefore have the right to do with them what we will.”

But are these parents correct? Of course not, and any moral court would find these sadistic parents worthy of prison. Similarly, how can Calvinists excuse their god who supposedly reasons that because he created all humans, he has the right to decree eternal favor or eternal torture to each, irrespective of anything the individuals have done.

No, when someone causes a life to be created, the “creator” is responsible for that life while it is still in a helpless condition. If someone breeds dogs, that person is responsible to make sure all those dogs are well cared for. If God creates humans who come into existence upon an earth that has been taken over by an evil ruler (the devil), then God, because He is Love (1 John 4:16), does and has done, that which is required for every one of the humans to be redeemed and saved.

Sproul says in the above clip that God is not obligated to give grace to anyone, but he is wrong. Love obligates anyone and everyone to seek the highest good for every living creature to the best of one’s ability, and because God has all ability (all power) and is Himself Love (1 John 4:16), then He does obligate Himself to offer and seek everyone’s eternal salvation. And He has done just that –contrary to what the Calvinists are teaching.

God is Love. And God is just. He loves everyone, He wants everyone’s highest good, and He has therefore paid everyone’s ransom. As 1 John 2:2 confirms, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
Jesus has told us that “everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34) He also goes on to say in the next verse that “a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.” This should be crystal clear: To keep sinning keeps us from being sons of God and thus exempts us from eternal life. (See also Heb. 10:26-31.)

Rom. 8:14 says that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” In other words, if we are led by, and live according to, the control of the Holy Spirit, we belong to Christ Jesus. (v. 9) To live this way means we put to death daily anything that rears up in rebellion against Him. (v. 5-8, 13 // Luke 9:23-25 // Gal. 5:24,25) Everyone is either in rebellion against Christ, or in obedience to Christ –there is no middle ground. Lukewarmness, apathy, and/or partial obedience are the same as being rebellious. (1 Sam. 15:22,23 // Rev. 3:15,16)

The Gospel is a call to obedience –obedience to Christ and His Word. If anyone has (true) faith, then that person’s heart and life are in submission to righteousness. As Romans says, proclaiming “the Gospel” (1:2) is “to call people… to the obedience that comes from faith.” (v. 5) The “Gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ” (16:25) “made known… by the command of the eternal God” (v. 26) has been revealed “so that all nations might believe and obey Him.” (Same verse)

The Gospel is the Good News that everyone has been set free from sin (Rom. 6:18) because everyone’s sins have been paid for (1 John 2:2) –making everyone pardoned by God and ransomed from the Kingdom of Darkness (Col. 1:13,14 // 1 Tim. 2:4-6)– if they choose to accept this Gift of Grace for themselves through faith (John 3:14-16) and fully submit to Jesus as their new Master by imitating Him / by continuously following Him and His commands. (8:31-36 & 10:27,28 & 14:21 // 1 John 2:3-6 & 3:24)

The Gospel is a call to become slaves to obedience. (Rom. 6:16) This leads to righteousness with the result being eternal life. (v. 16,22) However, the person who keeps sinning reaps for himself (eternal) death (v. 23), for by obeying sin, one remains a slave to sin. (v. 16) Again, as Jesus has said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34), and as Rom. 7:14 informs us, being “sold as a slave to sin” keeps the sinning one in the category of “unspiritual” and still in need of deliverance from the dark kingdom of eternal death. (v. 24) Indeed, “being a slave to sin… results in death!” (See Rom. 6:20,21) Yes, everyone who sins or causes sin forfeits the Kingdom of Light and instead reaps Hell. (Mt. 13:41-43)

It is definitely true that we need God’s grace in order to be in Salvation. But God’s grace reigns in righteousness (righteous conduct / obedience to Christ), not in sinful conduct. (Rom. 5:21 // 1 Pe. 1:13-17) Thus obedience to righteousness under the Holy Spirit’s control is what reaps for us eternal life. (Same verses // Rom. 8:1-14 // Heb. 12:14)

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel

Friends,
I continue to share God’s Word downtown at the train and bus stops every week and have many, many wonderful conversations with people who ask good questions, listen thoughtfully, and often ask for prayer that they can be delivered from sin, like addictions, and from anger, anxiety, etc. It is such a joy to have the Holy Spirit’s power and help to share with boldness and love, and to see Him give me the right verses and words for each person. It is truly exciting! The Lord honors our faith and our obedience!

My mom and I worked on Easter treat bags and handed them out the Thursday before Easter. Below are two photos of us with the treat bags and filled plastic eggs about to start walking with our loaded cart. Thank you so much for those who gave some money to us for the items inside the little bags and eggs. One friend donated 100 small metal crosses, and we put each on a string with some pretty beads. We also used the money for bookmarks with verses on them, including the Ten Commandments, and of course added candy and even small sticks of beef jerky. We also included the rest of the pocket calendars that a faithful friend donates to us every January. We also put in encouragement stickers and magnets, sometimes a very small toy, and some other miscellaneous things.

1. My dear, faithful mom (3/29/18)

2. Me (3/29/18)

I went again the next day –Good Friday– by myself and handed out my home-written tracts, as I do every week (–different messages every time). Here are a few of the texts I texted to prayer partners afterwards, with some names eliminated for privacy:

~~Report on 4/9/18: Witnessing today went well and thank you for praying! Please pray for D___ as his live-in girlfriend ditched him a week ago and then blocked him from being able to call her and he feels so sad, particularly because they had started out praying together and reading the Bible and going to church together. I gently reminded him that they had stepped out of God’s blessing by rebelling against His laws about purity. I encouraged and exhorted him at least half an hour and he listened very intently and I prayed twice with him. Please pray for a woman with a nine-month-old baby in a stroller and she listened soberly and asked me to pray for her and I did not get to pray with her because somebody was right then wanting to get a shirt. Her name is Lacey. I had brought my cart and about 25 men’s shirts that my mom’s friend Thara had given me to hand out, and I finally got to do that today. One man chose to take a Bible and several women took a shirt for someone they wanted to give it to. One woman took a bag of donuts I gave to her and her child. A man named James was real sweet and said his clothes got stolen and asked that I would pray that he gets a pair of pants. Please pray for a woman named Tina who has taken my tracts several times. She asked about my mom. Nina, a homeless woman asked for prayer that she get a better pair of shoes. I gave out two of my handmade bracelets also. Please pray for Johnny and Bobby who I’ve talked with before. Please pray for T___ who I had been praying for yesterday and I saw today. He and C___ were evangelists down there about six years ago and they got involved in false doctrine [Calvinism] and turned to sin and quit evangelizing. I got to talk with T___ today, though! Please pray that he and C___ come back to the Truth. I had evangelized C___ many times about 10 years ago before he became a Christian. Rachel

~~4/16/18: Prayer Partners, Thank you for your prayers. Downtown witnessing today was really good. Tons of good conversations. Please pick some of these to say a prayer for please: Bruce and Opal were two people together that I met and they asked for prayer and so I prayed for/with them. I said I would ask others to pray for them. Another was a woman, Rosa, who did not know English very well and she was crying hard on my shoulder as I hugged her. It was something about her sister and I couldn’t tell if it was that her sister had been killed in Mexico or deported there. But she was encouraged by what I told her about prayer. I also saw J____ who Brian and I had given the blankets to in December because he was in a tent in his ex-wife’s backyard. He said that a month later he got an apartment and a much better job and even a car, as well as a godly girlfriend and he is not drinking anymore. Please pray for him and his girlfriend. I also saw and talked with my friend Shot. Pray for him and Cindy who I’ve been friends with down there for about 15 years. I also talked with a nice looking 26-year-old who said he was an atheist but an hour later came back and talked with me for about half an hour and asked a lot of questions and listened really well. His name is Chris. Please pray for him to find the Truth. I often see Steven and he was feeling very discouraged, so please pray for him. Pray also for a guy name Steve who listened well and said that he is having trials with his family relationships. Also Howard, a homeless guy, who was so sweet. Also my friend Emmanuel. Also a woman named Elizabeth and another woman who was real excited to see what I was doing down there and her name is Emma. Another guy named Jerry that loves the Lord but is going through some big trials. There were many others, but I can’t remember them right now. Thank you so, so much! Rachel

~~Report about 4/19/18: I had a wonderful three hours downtown witnessing at the main Dart train stop and had a lot of very good conversations, exhorting and encouraging people, many who I had never met and some that I haven’t seen for a long time. It was really wild down there with a lot of people mad at each other and yelling. One of the security guards came over to me and said, “Go over there in front of the liquor store and preach to those people, because otherwise they’re about to get arrested.” So I did and most of them dispersed but two of them kept mocking me and asking dumb questions but one guy, nicknamed ____, listened somewhat well. I exhorted him, using 1 Cor. 15:33, to get away from corrupt company. Please pray for him. Later, at a different corner, a guy named Pedro was asking me questions and wants to follow the Lord he says, but says he can’t because he loves sin too much. At least he was honest. Another guy name Willy asked for prayer for his sister on chemo. Another guy named Tommy didn’t like my Hebrews 10:26 sign, but I encouraged him to read it in God’s Word, so he did on his phone, and then he soberly admitted that my sign was correct. None of these particular ones were homeless, but there were many others, and one was a homeless girl, one who had been yelling and swearing at a guy and kind of crying, and about an hour later she came and talked to me a little, but she was high on something and I tried to encourage her and she then said she had to call her dad. Pray she gets delivered. There were many, many other conversations… Thank you for all your prayers!!! Love, Rachel

Those are just a sample of things that I encounter while witnessing. Most of my mornings are spent in Bible study and my prayer ministry, and I also keep my nursing home ministry, blog ministry, and work part-time for pay. Thank you to anyone who would be led to donate at my “About” page.

Sincerely,
with love,
Rachel