Thoughts For The Day

Did you know that it’s been estimated by scientists that we have around 70,000 thoughts each day?  If that weren’t mind boggling enough, the Bible tells us that the thoughts that GOD has for us each day are innumerable! Psalm 139:17-18 says, “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.” The Bible tells us that GOD’s WORD is a Hammer; HIS WORD is a fire! (Jeremiah 23:29) Yet, it’s this all powerful WORD that brings healing! “GOD sent HIS WORD and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.”(Psalm 107:20) It’s the WORD that brings healing!  It’s the WORD that brings  freedom!It’s the WORD that brings liberation!  It’s the WORD that breaks strongholds!  It’s the WORD that sets the captives free!GOD takes HIS WORD so seriously that HE has even elevated HIS HOLY WORD above HIS Own HOLY NAME! When we understand this; know this; embrace this; believe this; and act upon this fact…FREEDOM COMES!!!!!!! The devil is a liar and the father of lies! The devil will do anything and everything to keep you out of and away from GOD’s WORD!  Why?  Because that’s where the cure is!  That’s where the answers are!  That’s where the freedom comes! David said in Psalm 142:7- “Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise thy NAME.” It’s the WORD of GOD and the Power of the HOLY SPIRIT that can set the captives free!  It’s not pop-psychology or humanistic philosophy; it’s the WORD of GOD! JESUS is not only our Savior; HE is our example!  When you look at the life of JESUS; HE always combated the devil using Scripture! (Matthew 4:1-11) HE was always victorious using this lethal weapon!  You must use a spiritual weapon on a spiritual foe! The Bible says that we have the “Mind of Christ.”  This mind only comes from being born of the Spirit of GOD and having HIS Holy Word saturate our minds and our souls. The word “meditate” means to “Chew the cud”.  Have you ever watched a cow or a goat as they are relaxing?  They lay there, spit up some of the food, chew on it, and swallow it again.  That’s what GOD wants us doing throughout the day.  As we go through the day, we think about His Word, chew on a verse, muse on it, and swallow it.  Then do it again and again.  Joshua 1:8 says – “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.” Psalm 1:1-2: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. [2] But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” When we think about, meditate, and let our mind be filled with the Word of GOD throughout the day, GOD says we will blessed, we will be prosperous and that we will find good success.  Wow! Throughout the day, we must use our mind as a filter to sift through all of our thoughts.  2 Corinthians 10:4-5 says : “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” Philippians 4:4-8: Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. [5] Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. [6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. [8] Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Bottom line, memorize verses where you are weak in and every time you are tempted, fire the Word of God out loud and the enemy will flee from you!  Use your mind as a filter screen and let all the junk thoughts sift right through the screen and hang on to only those thoughts that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good report; the thoughts that have virtue and praise, think on these things and watch what happens!    

The Wordless Book

Have you ever tried to lead a child or young person to Christ and struggle as you try to get them to understand the biblical principles you’re trying to show them? Here is a time tested resource available from Evangelism Training International that will fit that need.

The wordless book has been used countless times while evangelizing children and yet it has also proved to be a valuable resource when visiting foreign lands

The Wordless Book
The Wordless Book
and leading people to Christ with a limited grasp of the English language.

Each page is a unique resource unto itself when it comes to sharing the plan of salvation to children or people of limited English skills.
Using the Wordless Book as an evangelism tool has never been easier when you use our free Wordless Book training video available from this web page.

Use the Wordless Book in your evangelistic outreach sessions, training sessions, outreach for children or those with limited English skills.

Anyone can lead others to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ using a simple, effect evangelism training tool called the Wordless Book. Why not pick up your own today? While you’re at it you may want to get some extras to hand out to others to use in their evangelical outreach trips.

The wordless book is available from Evangelism Training International for a small donation of just $7.00 and postage is included free of charge. Use our handy (and safe) PayPal® link below to send for your very own Wordless Book. When you are ordering you may choose to order more than one Wordless Book to give out to family and friends to use in their outreach efforts.

Make a donation to Evangelism Training International for $7.00 and receive your very own Wordless Book as our way of saying thank you for your contribution.

Working With African Pastors Hungry For Training

Working With African Pastors Hungry For Training

The experience of working with African pastors who are so hungry for training so that they can train their people. It was an arduous endeavor; as two pastors were determine to ride their bikes three long days on the dirt roads and trails from Mozambique to Malawi. Set out on a trek to one of ETI’s pastoral trainings, one of the pastor’s bikes was plagued with a flat tire, but he remained relentless, pushing onward toward Malawi in spite of his situation. They did arrive with many other pastors who came from villages all around, were trained, and became effective witnesses for Jesus. Hunger is not an adequate word to adequately describe the many pastors in Africa. Desperate; devouring; determined would better describe their insatiable desire to learn. Most pastors in Africa have had very little or no seminary training at all. Proverbs 27:7 says, “The full soul loatheth an honeycomb; but to the hungry soul every bitter thing is sweet.” Teaching is sweet to these men and they are passionate and hungering for the Word of God! A couple years ago, before we went to train these men in Malawi, Pastor Malvory Peffer flew up from South Africa to Malawi to meet and help set up our upcoming training. When he arrived there; to his surprise, numerous pastors showed up and said, “You must speak to us now!” Pastor Malvory ended up preaching 14 times in 3 days because of the spiritual hunger in these men! Later, when we came back to do the official training, these men ate up 5 days of evangelism and pastoral training. They subsequently went back to their villages and have been faithfully leading people to Christ and their churches are growing. I will never forget, when we began training these pastors, I encouraged them to take out their bibles as they were going to make a road-map in their bibles. After about 15 minutes, I noticed that very few were doing what I asked, but were simply writing on paper. I turned to pastor Malvory and said, “Pastor Malvory, they’re not making in their bibles, they’re not doing what I asked.” Malvory whispered back to me, “My brother, that’s because they don’t have a bible.” My heart broke. Malvory and I brought numerous cases of Bibles to give to these pastors at the conclusion of the training, but our agenda quickly changed as we broke out the bibles to give to these men. I wish you could have been there to see what we saw; I have never seen such jubilation! Many of these men had tears in their eyes; numerous embraced with both arms their new and only bible, and held it tightly against their chests. The joy of possessing in their hands what we often take so much for granted. Once they received their bibles, then we started all over and they gladly followed the instructions. I also remember distinctly going into a full church where only two people in the entire church had a bible. It was heart breaking. Malvory has been in countries where pastors take out pages of one bible to pass around to each other throughout the week so they can have something to preach on. I remember how we went into a major city in Malawi, driving from store to store, just to find bibles. They were almost impossible to find. What we in the western world take so much for granted; the majority of the world hungers for, not just in the physical realm, but especially in the spiritual realm. Hopefully you will look at your Bibles differently and never take for them granted. Please pray for these pastors.

Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing

A Warning About False Prophets

God’s Word tells us that the “god of this world” (satan) has blinded the minds of those that believe not. We live in very tumultuous times where false religions, cults, and the occult are running rampant. Jesus and his apostle warned us explicitly and told us to be on guard at all times; to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. God takes very seriously His Word, the proclamation of it, and the distortions thereof. This month, let’s look at just a few verses pertaining to these warnings: Col 2:8-9 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. Matt 7:15-16 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Matt 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Luke10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. Acts 20:29-31 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 1 John 4:1-6 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. Jude 1:14-16 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. Jude 1:19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 2 Cor 11:13-15 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. 2 John 1:7-11 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. 1 John 2:18-23 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

Effectively Sharing The Gospel of Jesus Christ With Jews

Leading A Jewish Person To Jesus

The Bible tells us that we are to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6). Although Judaism is not considered a cult or the occult, it is classified as a world religion. The nation of Israel is very dear to the heart of God. It was through the Jews the “oracles of God” were given to the world (Romans 3:2). Through the Jews came the Messiah Who came to take away the sins of the world. Through the Jews, all nations on earth would be blessed (Genesis 18:18). Yet, there has never been a nation more persecuted than Israel. God continues to miraculously preserve this tiny nation. The Canaanites are gone. The Hittites have vanished. Where are the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Jebusites? They’re gone, nowhere to be found. Yet, God has supernaturally protected Israel. The Bible even tells us in Romans 1:16 and Romans 2:9-10 that the Gospel is to the Jew first. The Jews are very special to the heart of God, yet they are one of the most hardened group of people to the Gospel; the “veil” remains over their eyes (2 Corinthians 3:14). David Brickner, Executive Director of Jews for Jesus, has some very insightful information and helpful tips when speaking with Jewish individuals. There are several popular myths which keep people from sharing with their Jewish friends. Some of them include: Myth: All Jews are well versed in the Old Testament. Fact: Most Jews have a strong cultural identity with a very limited knowledge of the Scriptures. Myth: I can just invite my Jewish friend to my church. Fact: Many Jewish people might be hesitant to attend church. There is no substitute for you personally sharing your faith. Myth: I may not be able to answer their questions. Fact: That’s true. But it does not change the truth of the gospel. Tell your friend you are happy to research the information. This gives you an opportunity to have further witnessing opportunities too. Myth: I need to wait for the Holy Spirit’s leading. I don’t want to lose my friendship. Fact: God has already told us we are to be his witnesses. (Mt.28:19-20) If you are friendly and forthright you will gain your friends respect for genuinely caring even if they don’t agree to discuss the matter at length. Myth: I will let my life be a testimony and wait until they ask me about Jesus. Fact: That will likely be a long wait. Most Jewish people feel that religion is a private matter and might be uncomfortable asking. Besides, the great commission commands us to go tell! Practical Tips When witnessing to a Jewish person, remember: Make friends. Demonstrate that you really care about the person. Affirm the fact that you know they are Jewish and that you appreciate their Jewishness. Let your friendship serve as the foundation for your witness to them. Be up front. Declare yourself a follower of Jesus right away. You do not want to appear deceptive or coercive. Be yourself. Ask questions. Everyone likes to be asked their opinion. This can be a good way to steer the conversation towards spiritual matters. Questions about Israel, an upcoming Jewish holiday or even a Bible question from the Old Testament are a good place to start. Give a personal testimony. The reality of God in your life is a powerful witness. Many Jewish people think that you were born a Christian in the same way that they were born Jewish. Hearing how you became a follower of Jesus, how God answers your prayers can provoke your Jewish friend to jealousy. (Rom.11:11) Use Scripture. Don’t be afraid to answer questions with a verse from the Bible. Encourage your Jewish friend to read the New Testament. Most Jewish people have never read the New Testament and most Jews who have come to faith in Christ came as a result of reading the New Testament. After all, it is a very Jewish book! Be prayerfully persistent. Don’t be put off if you receive a negative reaction at first. In Fact, you should expect it. Keep looking for opportunities. Keep praying. Seek to introduce your friend to a Jewish believer or to one of us in Jews for Jesus. Lend books or other evangelistic literature. Ask for a decision and follow up. Don’t think that your Jewish friend will automatically understand they need to pray to receive Christ. If they are a willing listener then you should ask if they are willing to receive what you have said for themselves. Be diligent to follow up any decision. Contact Jews for Jesus for help with the new Jewish believer. When witnessing to Jewish individuals, it’s good to share out of the Old Testament and then show them the New Testament fulfillment. Some great passages to share with them regarding the Old Testament prophecies and the New Testament fulfillment are: Important Messianic Passages These references will be shown in the following order: Topic, Old Testament, and the New Testament. Messiah to be the seed of the Woman. OT: Genesis 3:15, NT: Galatians 4:4 Messiah to be the seed of Abraham. OT: Genesis 12:3; 18:18, NT: Luke 3:23,34, Matthew 1:1-2, Acts 3:25, Galatians 3:16 Messiah to be of the tribe of Judah. OT: Genesis 49:10, NT: Luke 3:33, Matthew 1:1-2 Messiah to be of the seed of Jacob. OT: Numbers 24:17, 19, Matthew 1:1-2, Luke 3:34 Messiah to be of the seed of David. OT: Psalm 132:11, Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15, Isaiah 11:10, NT: Matthew 1:6, Luke 1:32-33, Acts 2:29-30, Romans 1:3 Messiah to be a prophet like Moses. OT: Deut. 18:15, 19, NT: Matthew 21:11, John 6:14, John 1:45, Acts 3:22-23 Messiah to be the Son of God. OT: Psalm 2:7, Proverbs 30:4, NT: Luke 1:32, Matthew 3:17 Messiah to be raised from the dead. OT: Psalm 16:10, NT: Acts 13:35-37 Messiah to experience crucifixion. OT: Psalm 69:21, NT: Matthew 27:34-50, John 19:28-30 Messiah to be betrayed by a friend. OT: Psalm 41:9, NT: John 13:18, 21 Messiah to ascend to heaven. OT: Psalm 68:18, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9 Homage and tribute paid to Messiah by great kings. OT: Psalm 72:10-11, NT: Matthew 2:1-11 Messiah to be a priest like Melchizedek. OT: Psalm 110:4, NT: Hebrews 5:5-6 Messiah to be at the right hand of God. OT: Psalm 110:1, NT: Matthew 26:64, Hebrews 1:3 Messiah, the stone which the builders rejected, to become the head cornerstone. OT: Psalm 118:22-23, Isaiah 8:14-15, Isaiah 28:16, NT: Matthew 21:42-43, Acts 4:11, Romans 9:32-33, Ephesians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:6-8 Messiah to be born of a virgin. OT: Isaiah 7:14 http://biblia.com/books/niv2011/Is7.14, NT: Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 1:26-35 Galilee to be the first area of Messiah’s ministry. OT: Isaiah 9:1-8, NT: Matthew 4:12-16Messiah will be meek and mild. OT: Isaiah 42:2-3, Isaiah 53:7, NT: Matthew 12:18-20, Matthew 26:62-63 Messiah will minister to the Gentiles. OT: Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 49:1-8, NT: Matthew 12:21 Messiah will be smitten. OT: Isaiah 50:6, NT: Matthew 26:67, Matthew 27:26, 30 Messiah to suffer, die and rise again. OT: Isaiah 52:13-53:12, NT: The Four Gospels The new and everlasting Covenant. OT: Isaiah 55:3-4, Jeremiah 31:31-33, NT: Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 22:20, Hebrews 8:6-13 Messiah as the right arm of God. OT: Isaiah 59:16, Isaiah 53:1, NT: John 12:38 Messiah as intercessor. OT: Isaiah 59:16, NT: Hebrews 9:15 Twofold mission of the Messiah. OT: Isaiah 61:1-11, NT: Luke 4:16-21 Messiah will perform miracles. OT: Isaiah 35:5-6, NT: John 11:47, Matthew 11:3-6 Messiah is called “The Lord”. OT: Jeremiah 23:5-6, NT: Acts 2:36 The time of Messiah’s coming prophesied. OT: Daniel 9:24-26, NT: Galatians 4:4, Ephesians 1:10 Bethlehem to be the place of Messiah’s birth. OT: Micah 5:2, NT: Matthew 2:1, Luke 2:4-6 Messiah will enter the Temple with authority. OT: Malachi 3:1, NT: Matthew 21:12 Messiah will enter Jerusalem on a donkey. OT: Zechariah 9:9, NT: Matthew 21:1-10 Messiah will be pierced. OT: Zechariah 12:10, Psalm 22:16, John 19:34, 37 Messiah to be forsaken by his disciples. OT: Zechariah 13:7, NT: Matthew 26:31, 56 The coming of the Holy Spirit in the days of the Messiah. OT: Joel 2:28-29, NT: Acts 2:16-18 Opposition of the nations; Messiah’s final victory over death. OT: Psalm 2:2, Isaiah 25:8, NT: Revelation 19:19, 1 Corinthians 15:54, Revelation 7:17, 21:4 The glorious Messiah; Messiah as King. OT: Isaiah 63:1, Psalm 2:6-9, NT: Revelation 19:11-16, Revelation 19:15-16 Submission of all nations to Messiah’s rule. OT: Isaiah 2:4, Micah 4:1-4, NT: Revelation 12:5 The Gentiles shall seek the Messiah of Israel. OT: Isaiah 11:10, NT: Romans 11:25 Dr Ron Rhodes has written numerous books and articles pertaining to cults and world religions. He gives some great insights when witnessing to Jews as well. Consider the following: As one reads through the Bible, we find progressively detailed prophecies about the identity of the Messiah. Obviously, as the prophecies become increasingly detailed, the field of qualified “candidates” becomes increasingly narrow. In showing a Jewish person that Jesus is the Messiah, one effective approach is to begin with broad prophecies and then narrow the field to include increasingly specific and detailed prophecies. You might use circles to graphically illustrate your points as you share these prophecies. As suggested by Stuart Dauermann, seven increasingly detailed “circles of certainty” include: 1. Messiah’s humanity (Genesis 3:15). 2. Messiah’s Jewishness (Genesis 12:1-3; 28:10-15). 3. Messiah’s tribe (Genesis 49:10). 4. Messiah’s family (2 Samuel 7:16; Jeremiah 23:5-6). 5. Messiah’s birthplace (Micah 5:2). 6. Messiah’s life, reception, and death (Isaiah 52:13; 53). 7. Chronology of Messiah’s appearing (Daniel 9:24-26). Let us look at these in a little more detail.

Circle 1: The Circle of the Messiah’s Humanity

Scripture says that the Messiah had to become a human being. This circle is obviously a very large circle. The Messiah’s humanity is prophetically spoken of in Genesis 3:15, when God is pronouncing judgment against the serpent following the fall of Adam and Eve: And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel. The word “offspring” refers to descendants. The Messiah would be a descendant of the woman – that is, He would be a human being. We find this fulfilled in Galatians 4:4-5: But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

Circle 2: The Circle of the Messiah’s Jewishness

Scripture says that the Messiah had to be Jewish – that is, He had to be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This narrows the circle considerably. Of all human beings who have ever lived, only Jewish human beings would qualify. Point the Jewish person to Genesis 12:1-3, where God makes a covenant with Abraham (the “father” of the Jews): The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Then point the Jewish person to Genesis 28:10-15: Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” These Bible passages indicate that the promised seed (in Genesis 3:15) was to come through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Circle 3: The Circle of the Messiah’s Tribal Identity

The circle gets even narrower when it is demonstrated that the Messiah had to come from the tribe of Judah. This is demonstrated in Genesis 49:10: The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. Here Jacob is on his deathbed. Before he dies, he affirms that the scepter (of the ruling Messiah) would be from the tribe of Judah.

Circle 4: The Circle of the Messiah’s Family

Scripture tells us that the Messiah had to be from David’s family. This narrows the circle still further. We see this affirmed in 2 Samuel 7:16: Your [i.e., David’s] house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever. We also read in Jeremiah 23:5-6: “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.” Clearly the ruling Messiah had to come from the family of David.

Circle 5: The Circle of the Messiah’s Birthplace

Scripture clearly prophesies that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. This narrows the circle of possible candidates for the Messiah tremendously. Micah 5:2 tells us: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” So far we have seen that the Messiah had to become a human being, had to be a Jew, had to be from the tribe of Judah and the family of David, and He must be born in Bethlehem (a small, insignificant city in ancient times). Failure to fulfill any one of these conditions disqualifies a person as a possible candidate.

Circle 6: The Circle of the Messiah’s Manner of Life, Rejection, and Death

Regarding the Messiah’s manner of life, rejection, and death, point the Jewish person to Isaiah 53. Note the following excerpts: Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. (Isa. 53:1-4). He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. (Isa. 53:7-9). Note from these verses that: (1) The Messiah was to be despised and rejected by His fellow Jews. (2) He would be put to death following a judicial proceeding. (3) He would be guiltless. Obviously these facts about the Messiah narrow the circle still further.

Circle 7: The Circle of Chronology

Point the Jewish person to Daniel 9:24-26: “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’, and sixty-two ‘sevens’. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two ‘sevens’, the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed. Regarding this passage, note the following facts: (1) The city would be rebuilt, as would the Temple. (2) The Messiah would come. (3) The Messiah would be “cut off” (die) but not for Himself. (4) The city and the Temple would be destroyed. Note especially that the Messiah had to come and die prior to the destruction of the second temple, which occurred in A.D. 70. Clearly, this narrows the circle of potential candidates incredibly. Is there anyone who has fulfilled all these conditions? Is there anyone who was a human being, a Jew, from the tribe of Judah and the family of David, born in Bethlehem, was despised and rejected by the Jewish people, died as a result of a judicial proceeding, was guiltless, and came and died before the destruction of the second temple in A.D. 70? Yes there was, and His name was Jesus! To further demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, note the following facts, which are derived from my book, Christ Before the Manger: The Life and Times of the Preincarnate Christ. These prophecies – taken together – narrow the field so much that there can be no doubt as to who the Messiah is.

MESSIANIC PROPHECIES FULFILLED IN CHRIST

From the Book of Genesis to the Book of Malachi, the Old Testament abounds with anticipations of the coming Messiah. Numerous predictions – fulfilled to the “crossing of the t” and the “dotting of the i” in the New Testament – relate to His birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and glory. Now, some liberal scholars have attempted to argue that these prophecies were made after Jesus lived, not before. They have suggested that the books of the Old Testament were written close to the time of Christ and that the messianic prophecies were merely Christian inventions. But to make this type of claim is to completely ignore the historical evidence. Indeed, Norman Geisler and Ron Brooks point out: Even the most liberal critics admit that the prophetic books were completed some 400 years before Christ, and the Book of Daniel by about 167 B.C. Though there is good evidence to date most of these books much earlier (some of the Psalms and earlier prophets were in the eighth and ninth centuries B.C.), what difference would it make? It is just as hard to predict an event 200 years in the future as it is to predict one that is 800 years in the future. Both feats would require nothing less than divine knowledge. God’s ability to foretell future events is one thing that separates Him from all the false gods. Addressing the polytheism of Isaiah’s time, God said: * “Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and lay out before me what has happened since I established my ancient people, and what is yet to come – yes, let him foretell what will come” (Isa. 44:7). * “Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one” (Isa. 44:8). * “Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me” (Isa. 45:21). * “I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass….Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them to you so that you could not say, ‘My idols did them; my wooden image and metal god ordained them’” (Isa. 48:3, 5). Of course, anyone can make predictions – that is easy. But having them fulfilled is another story altogether. “The more statements you make about the future and the greater the detail, the better the chances are that you will be proven wrong.” But God was never wrong; all the messianic prophecies in the Old Testament were fulfilled specifically and precisely in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus often indicated to listeners that He was the specific fulfillment of messianic prophecy. For example, He made the following comments on different occasions: * “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matt. 5:17). * “But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled” (Matt. 26:56). * “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). * “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life” (John 5:39-40). * “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:46-47). * “Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, ‘Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:20-21). Any reasonable person who examines these Old Testament prophecies in an objective manner must conclude that Jesus was the promised Messiah. “If these messianic prophecies were written hundreds of years before they occurred, and if they could never have been foreseen and depended upon factors outside human control for their fulfillment, and if all of these prophecies perfectly fit the person and life of Jesus Christ, then Jesus had to be the Messiah.” Indeed, Christ on three different occasions directly claimed in so many words to be the “Christ.” (Note that the word Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Messiah.) For example, in John 4:25-26 Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman who said to Him: “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming.” To which Jesus replied, “I who speak to you am he.” Later, Jesus referred to Himself in the third person, in His high priestly prayer to the Father, as “Jesus Christ, whom You sent” (John 17:3). In Mark 14:61-62 we find the high priest asking Jesus, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” To which Jesus declared unequivocally, “I am.” Others also recognized that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah. In response to Jesus’ inquiry concerning His disciples’ understanding of Him, Peter confessed: “You are the Christ” (Matt. 16:16). When Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” Martha answered, “Yes, Lord….I believe that you are the Christ” (John 11:25-27). Some may ask why Jesus didn’t explicitly claim more often to be the prophesied Messiah. Bible scholar Robert L. Reymond offers us some keen insights in answering this question: Jews of the first century regarded the Messiah primarily as Israel’s national deliverer from the yoke of Gentile oppression….Had Jesus employed uncritically the current popular term as a description of Himself and His mission before divesting it of its one-sided associations and infusing it with its richer, full-orbed Old Testament meaning, which included the work of the Messiah as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah, His mission would have been gravely misunderstood and His efforts to instruct the people even more difficult. Consequently, the evidence suggests that He acknowledged He was the ‘Christ’ only where there was little or no danger of His claim being politicized – as in the case of the Samaritan woman, in private conversation with His disciples (at the same time, demanding that they tell no one that He was the Messiah), in semi-private prayer, or before the Sanhedrin when silence no longer mattered or served His purpose. Even if Jesus had never verbally claimed to be the prophesied Messiah, the very fact that He was the precise fulfillment of virtually hundreds of messianic prophecies cannot be dismissed, as some liberal critics have attempted. The odds against one person fulfilling all these prophecies is astronomical; indeed, it is impossible to calculate. But fulfill these prophecies, Jesus did – and then He added proof upon proof regarding His identity by the many astounding miracles He performed. Truly, Jesus is the Messiah.

Watch Out For False Teachers

Or: How Cults Are Established

False Prophets Are The Founders Of Cults

“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” Matthew 24:36 Jesus continuously warned His disciples that heretics would creep into the church; some intentionally to deceive and others unintentionally. Subsequently the Apostle Paul, John, Jude, and others warned the believers to be on their guard continually and “to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” Jude 3. Many of us remember the tragedy of the Jim Jones cult which ended in over 900 people taking their own lives because of heresy. We remember the tragedy of the Branch Davidians in Waco Texas and their charismatic leader David Koresh who persuaded many to take their own lives. Yet in light of all these tragedies, believers and non-believers continually set dates with dire results and great casualties following in their wake. Many cults of today and of the past, started as a seemingly innocent study. Consider the following… Back in 1818, a Baptist preacher named William Miller predicted that Jesus would return in the year from March 21, 1843 to March 21, 1844. Miller interpreted Daniel 8:14’s 2,300 days as 2,300 years and came to the conclusion that this was clearly the time that Jesus would return. When his prediction did not materialize and Jesus did not return, he and his followers, known as the Millerites, set one final date of October 22, 1844 as the return of Jesus Christ. With great disappointment, when this date failed to occur, Miller confessed that he was wrong and should never had set any dates. Never-the-less, the damage had been done, and it set in motion the creation of numerous cults that would spin off of his erroneous teaching. One of the groups who tenaciously followed Miller’s teachings, were a husband and wife named James and Ellen White. When the Miller’s predictions failed to come to pass, the White’s proclaimed that Jesus did actually cleanse the sanctuary on October 22, 1844, but He cleansed it in heaven, not on the earth because men had not been keeping the Sabbath. This then began the Seventh Day Adventist movement. From there, a man named Charles Taze Russell studied with the Adventists but decided to break fellowship with them as he had a disagreement about the atonement of Christ. Russell then started his own group which became the Russellites, which then became the Jehovah Witnesses. Russell, whose parents were Presbyterian Congregationalists was terrified of the doctrine of hell, so he conveniently changed the doctrine to accommodate his own fears and belief. From the Jehovah Witnesses, over 9 different cults have emanated, such as the Christadelphians. When I was a new believer, I read a seemingly innocent prophecy ad in a local newspaper. I called the number, left my address, and they said that they would send me some additional information. They did send me the information, through a personal messenger with a personal visit. As I listened intently to them, their false doctrine began to surface in the visit, and they began to try to undermine my new faith. They informed me that hell did not exist; God was limited in what He could do; etc., etc. yet the Holy Spirit inside of me was screaming, “That’s not right!!!” I went to a pastor; he showed me their errors, and it set my life on a course to know THE BOOK and to be ready always to give an answer to every man (1 Peter 3:15). The bottom line is when we intentionally or unintentionally disobey or disregard Scripture; the consequences are serious, catastrophic and affect many! May you and I know GOD’s Word, defend GOD’s Word, and share GOD’s Word! “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” (Galatians 5:9)

Seeing The Shanty Towns of South Africa For The First Time

Poor American = Rich African

The experience of seeing the shanty towns in South Africa for the first time. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18-19) “Stop the car” I yelled out to pastor Malvory as we drove down a steep hill in East London, South Africa. He pulled over to the side of the road wondering what was wrong. It’s been said that a picture speaks a thousand words and did this one ever! I didn’t want to miss this one. Quickly, I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car to click one of the most profound pictures I had even taken in my life. There, sitting on the top of a hill, was a beautiful church shining in all her glory. Surrounding the perimeter of the church grounds was a huge block wall that must have been at least 10 feet tall. On the other side of the wall was some of the worst abject poverty that I had ever seen. Jesus said that a city set on a hill cannot be hid; likewise, it was obvious that this church was not hid from this community. The ultimate question I had…was the community hid from this church? A fence or a wall conveys the message “say out!” It says, “We’re here and you’re there. You stay on your side and we’ll stay on our side.” As I pondered the immense perplexity of the scene, I couldn’t help but wonder what was that church doing to reach the multitudes on the other side of this wall? Were they proactive and reaching out to a lost and hurting world on the other side of the wall or were they an island unto themselves? Were they impacting these needy people or were they now an isolated, insulated, inoculated institution completely oblivious from the obvious plight of the hurting outside and below them. I still wonder to this day. The reaction cannot be described adequately with words when a person sees the poverty of Africa for the first time. As a westerner, one realizes very quickly that the poorest of poor in America is wealthy in comparison to the majority of Africans. I remember driving down a road in Malawi with pastor Malvory years ago. I had an empty 2 liter bottle as trash so I asked pastor Malvory what I should do with it; he simply replied, “Throw it out the window my brother, they can use it!” Although I was puzzled, I threw the bottle out the window. The bottle had hardly hit the pavement before someone rushed over and grabbed it. I was amazed to say the least. What we count as trash in the western world, they count as treasure and utilize almost everything. We complain about having to get up from the table to get a glass of water; yet many Africans don’t complain about walking miles to get contaminated water. It’s been said that the greatest crime in the Sahara Desert is to know where the water is and not to tell. I believe that the greatest crime in modern Christendom is to know where the “Living Water” is and not to tell. May we cross the street to the other side and rescue the perishing; care for the dying!