Persistent Widow and Friend

There is the story in the Bible about a persistent friend who stands outside his neighbours house a pleads for food. I think the moral of the story, is to be persistent with God. To keep praying, to keep asking Him for goodness etc etc.

But I wonder if there is a place for being persistent with our friends, neighbours and family about the good news of the Gospel.

Yes, I know at one point Jesus tells his disciples that if people don’t accept their message, they should ‘shake the dust from their sandals and move on’.

But, is there also a time and a place for being persistent? To continue offering past the initial objection?

I heard a priniciple recently from the controversial Jordan Peterson, who explained that most people only have a handful of objections to ideas. If you can get past those, most people will “give in”.

One website backs this up: 80% of non-routine sales occur only after at least 5 follow ups. But despite this statistic, 44% of salespeople give up on a prospect after hearing ‘no’ just once. After 4 objections, 92% of salespeople have fallen by the wayside. By combining these numbers it can be reasoned that the 8% of salespeople who continue to follow up after hearing ‘no’ 4 times will be rewarded with 80% of non-routine sales, which only occur after 5 follow-ups.

I know our job isn’t impersonal salesmanship. And that our friends and family are not customers. But, don’t we have something more valuable than new hoovers, beauty products and subscription package? Is it not worth sticking around past the sub-standard knee-jerk reactions & “4x objections”, and see what happens beyond this.

This won’t be the case for every friendship, conversation and relationship. However, the ones we have with people we care about can probably handle a bit of loving-persistence.

A few awesome quotes on evangelism

Me and a group of guys have slowly (but surely) been working through a book on Discipleship over the last few months. Each week sharing our top three things from the particular chapter we were reading.

Coming to the end of the book, second to last chapter, we’ve hit on the great commission (Matthew 28:16-20)

For a very familiar passage, I wasn’t giving it my 100% receptive heart! But the under the sub-heading : Making Disciples by Baptizing, my highlighter got very busy.

Here are three thought provoking, challenging quotes:

1) Baptism is an act of initiation and conversion. It speaks powerfully of the time a person comes under the rule of Christ.

As someone who reads a lot I keep coming across the fashionable idea that people simply “drift” towards Christ. I can’t disagree, but we must be wary that this mentality drives us to complacency in our evangelism and discipleship. At some point people must choose to come under the lordship of Christ. This is baptism.

2) We need a surer understanding of the gospel, a deeper love for people, a strong commitment to intercession, a greater wisdom so we can share winsomely – at the right time and in the right way.. finally we need more courage.

I love a concrete list. These are definitely areas I want to pray into, and trust God to increase in me. Particularly commitment to intercession, courage and a deeper love.

3) we may need to repent of our lack of evangelistic passion, but we must not despair.

These words are much needed for the Church and for me. I tend towards despair when I consider the lack of evangelism in my own life and in the Church I see. But such despair is symptomatic of doubt in Gods power and conviction for His global mission. Great words!

To finish this post I want to leave you with a picture of some of my notes on a talk given by a friend. In it he shared 8 types of evangelism.

Systematic Theology 7: The Four Characteristics of Scripture (3) Necessity

Fun fact an easy way to remember how to spell Necessary is: Never Eat Cheese Eat Salad Sandwiches And Remain Young. Necessity is only changing the last three letters.

In this chapter we’re continuing our study of the four characteristics of scripture. We’ve already covered Authority (& Inerancy), Clarity and now [Never eat…]cessity.

The Necessity of Scripture means that the Bible is necessary for knowing the gospel, for maintaining spiritual life and for knowing God’s will, BUT it is not necessary for knowing something about God’s character.

Notice how this definition gives us three things we need the Scripture for, and one thing we don’t.

Necessary for Knowledge of the Gospel – This is mostly justified from Romans 10:13-17. Which reasons that in order to be saved we need to call on the Lord’s name, but in order to do that we need to believe in Him. In order to believe in Him, we need to hear about Him.

In this way one must read the gospel or hear it told to them in order to be saved. I have written about this elsewhere, in: “what about Jesus-dreams”. Where I wrestled with this Doctrine, on the basis of the stories I’d heard where people have had dreams/visions about Jesus and become Christians without the Bible.

Necessary for Maintaining Spiritual Life – Again, this is mostly justified by Matthew 4:4 where Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy “Man shall not live on bread alone”. But I guess we could also use 2 Timothy 3:16, where is says that all Scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

Necessary for certain knowledge of God’s will – We may have some knowledge of God’s will without it, but certain knowledge is different. Even if we could conceive a way for God’s justice and mercy to be reconciled, we wouldn’t have enough certainty on it for it to save us.

He has not revealed everything in the scriptures, obviously there is no knowledge of nuclear physics etc, but we do have enough that we may know His will (Deuteronomy 29:29).

From a philosophical point of view, the Bible is necessary for certain knowledge about anything. Because either we know everything (which we don’t). Or we have the words of Someone who knows everything and who never lies.

HOWEVER:

The Bible is NOT necessary for knowing that God exists (or some of His attributes) – The Bible tells us that the heaven’s declare His glory (Psalm 19:1), that rain and fruitful seasons are signs of God’s blessing (Acts 14:16-17) and that God’s invisible qualities have been made known to all so that no one is without excuse (Romans 1:19-21).

Wayne Grudem makes a distinction between “general revelation” and “specific revelation”. Whereas general revelation is available to all as a result of God’s general grace to all people, specific revelation is what God has specifically made know through the Scriptures. (see notes below for more detail).

The Bible is NOT not necessary for knowing something of God’s character or moral laws – Therefore we are still guilty of sin even if we never hear the gospel (Romans 1:32, 2:14-15). The law has been written on our hearts.

This doctrine should make us inspired and challenged to proclaim the gospel as Romans 10 reminds us: How can they call on One they have not heard about, and how can they hear unless someone tells them!”

Tuesday Tools: Take the Initiative

I recently read through the Book of Jonah and one of the things that struck me was the complete lack of initiative on Jonah’s part. For those who don’t know, Jonah is the man who God told to go somewhere and preach, who then refused, got eaten by a fish and then spewed out and given another chance to obey God.

So where is Jonah’s lack of initiative? Firstly, it is God who tells him to preach. He doesn’t see the need, and if he does, he has been ignoring it til now. Secondly, in an attempt to flee God’s will he joins a ship heading in the opposite direction. A storm comes and all the sailors are trying to work out a solution. Jonah is burying his head in a pillow when they ask him to help.

Rather than immediately explain that the storms are probably here because he’s disobeying God, he lets the sailors draw lots (in the middle of a storm)…only then (when he is found out) does he explain. Even then its the minimum amount of information. At every point Jonah is hesitant and reluctant, every time he is waiting for someone or something to initiate for him. Be it God, a storm, a lot draw, a fish, a plant to be provided, an immature attitude to be corrected…

Thankfully, the Bible goes on to tell of a God who is not so reluctant, or stagnant, who does take the initiative to rescue us (- even while we were still sinners!)

I found this table produced by John Maxwell, it summarises why we fail to take initiative, perhaps you can relate (I know I can):

But initiative isn’t just a useful approach for living the Christian life. It is also a great benefit in many other areas.

1) Building Friendships – Over the last few weeks, I have taken the initiative to plan getaways with several groups of friends, and a couple of meet ups. I have been so surprised how eager people are for meeting. Likewise, another friend recently took the initiative for meeting with me. It is an amazing feeling when a friend makes the first move. It communicates value, both to me and to the friendship.

2) Exercise – One of the reasons I don’t struggle to exercise regularly is because I take the initiative. I don’t wait for motivation to strike, I just start lifting. Even when I don’t feel like it! Often, it is only when I have started that the mood actually “takes me”. This also applies to studying, reading, working, and lots of other areas. If we want something done, we need to take the initiative. We won’t be spoon fed.

3) Battling Sin – We are all tempted, each by certain things. Sin abounds in our human nature. But we don’t have to be passive about it in our life. If we struggle we lust, let’s take the initiative to put in place accountability procedures, remove trigger points as far as we can, learn to process and understand our unwanted behaviours. What battles do you face? Think of three things you can do today to take the initiative against it. For me, I recently realised how frequently I was buying things from Amazon on an impulse. So I took the initiative to uninstall the app on my phone.

What do you want to happen, what do you feel needs to happen, where would you like to be in five years time? Now take the initiative.