Saturday, June 30, 2012

Perpetual Ministry

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Due to technical difficulties there will no embedded player today.  Sorry for any inonvenience.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Evaluating Witnessing and Evangelism

Due to extenuating circumstances there will be no review this week.  I apologize for the inconvenience.  However, for those interested, here is this week's script.

Evaluating Witnessing and Evangelism

Memory Text:
“To one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry” (Proverbs 25:12, NLT).

What does evaluate mean?  The word is used in different contexts with different connotations.  So, Let us look at some of the definitions: to determine or set the value  or amount of; appraise; to judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of;  assess:; to ascertain or set the amount or value of  to judge or assess the worth of; to pass legal judgment  on; pass sentence on (a person); to hear evidence or legal arguments in (a case) in order to pass judgment; to form a judgment  or opinion of; decide upon critically; to decide or settle authoritatively; adjudge; to infer, think, or hold as an opinion; conclude about or assess.  
It is evident from these definitions that to evaluate I will observe or study something to determine whether something, is among other things: genuine, authentic, it does what it says it does, is it we doing the right thing or in the right way, or does it represent clearly and truthfully the reality. 
When it comes to procedures the assumption is that if I get the expected results I am doing the right thing, the right way.  But, what if I am evaluating the wrong procedure?  For example, a team of wood cutters starts chopping down trees.  They were supposed to chop a whole section of the forest in a week or less.  At the rate they were going they would be done in 5 days.  There was one problem: they were cutting the wrong section of the forest.  They had set a goal based on the expectation.  They were supposedly meeting it.  But, at the end, they would have missed the goal entirely. 
How are we to judge that a church is doing the right thing?  One of the first things that we must clarify is that we do not do the judging of that, it is God.  In all the parables where judgment is pronounced it is God doing the judging, not man.  Consider the parable of the talents.  It is God who determines who is a good and faithful servants and who should be thrown into the utter darkness.  All three servants thought they had done well, but only two were commended.  In the parable of the sheep and goats the sheep did not know why they were commended.  The goat did not know why they were not being commended.   God made the distinction and determined which one was worthy.  In the parable of the Wedding banquet, it is the King who determines who was the right clothes and who does not. 
So, how does God evaluate us?  Since our focus is witnessing and evangelism, then how does God evaluate these?  If you follow the lesson we are judged by how many people we recruit for the Kingdom.  But, the Bible does not say anything like that.   How many preachers and evangelists in the Bible failed by our standards?  Noah preached 120 years and only 8 went in the ark.  But, humanity was spared from eternal damnation through Noah.  Abraham is the father of the faithful the friend of God.  When do we see him evangelizing?  The same goes for Isaac and Jacob.  And, the list goes on.  When Hebrews 11 goes down the list of the faithful ones, not once is it mentioned that these succeeded in converting thousands.  They all did what God required of them.  But, no building was filled with converts they found.  To say that the Apostles were commended because of the many baptisms they performed is to say that salvation is for Abraham in different terms than for them (something Paul denies in Galatians).  It is to say that salvation is by works of evangelism and baptism. 
Perhaps the easiest way to illustrate it is the parable of the wedding feast or banquet (in Matthew 21).  At the end, it was those who accepted the invitation and wore the garments provided by the King that remained in the feast.  Those who did not wear the King’s garment were kicked out. 
God evaluates us on whether we are wearing the garment.   Now the question is: what is this wedding garment? It refers to character.  Both the Old and the New Testament make it very clear that the wedding garment is the righteousness of God fulfilled and prepared for us in Jesus Christ. In the book Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 311, Ellen G. White describes this wedding garment: “This robe, woven in the loom of heaven, has in it not one thread of human devising.” It’s all of God. 
Are you wearing that garment? That’s the question. Are you wearing that garment or are you depending on some things that you have successfully done for your ticket towards heaven?  When the king is inspecting the guests will He be pleased with you?  He is scrutinizing each one of us and He’s looking only for one thing —not how good you are but how much of His Son He sees in you. Christ in us, says Paul, is the hope of glory.
Jesus came because our garments are filthy rags. Isaiah 64:6 tells us that our righteousness is filthy rags:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
In Zechariah 3:3-4 we read about Joshua, the high priest, standing before God representing the people and he was clothed in filthy rags:
Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.”
The Lord says: “Remove those filthy rags and give him new clothes, clean clothes, which is the righteousness of Christ.”
God has clothed us with the righteousness of His Son. All this means is that all Sin (Self or flesh) will be removed and Christ will replace it with His goodness or His righteousness.  Are you wearing His righteousness?