FORGET NONE OF HIS BENEFITS
volume 18, number 26, June 27, 2019
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, Jeremiah 1:7,8.
Pridefest Water Bottle Outreach
Jeremiah the prophet was shaking in his sandals when he was commissioned by Yahweh, the Lord, in the thirteenth year of King Josiah’s reign in Judah to preach to that hard-hearted, recalcitrant, and rebellious nation. Yahweh’s response? “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” But Jeremiah was still not having any of it. He said, “Alas, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, because I am a youth.” Yahweh was not impressed with Jeremiah’s argument, “Do not say, ‘I am a youth.’ Because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you,” (Jeremiah 1:1-9).
That settled it. Jeremiah was to go to the wicked nation of Judah and call them to repentance, to return to the Lord, the lover of their souls. Jeremiah never had much outward success. Nobody repented and the nation continued to slide further and further into rebellion and wickedness, resulting finally in the Babylonian invasion and their exile. In fact Jeremiah was roughly treated. He was beaten, jailed, thrown into a cistern, and constantly mocked and accused of being a traitor to his own nation of Judah.
Ezekiel faced pretty much the same response from the same people. Yahweh told Ezekiel that He was sending him to the sons of Israel, to a rebellious people who had rebelled against Him, they and their fathers. “And I am sending you to them who are stubborn and obstinate children; and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God.’ As for them, whether they listen or not—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And for you, son of man, neither fear them nor fear their words, though thistles and thorns are with you and you sit on scorpions; neither fear their words nor be dismayed at their presence, for they are a rebellious house. But you shall speak My words to them whether they listen or not, for they are rebellious,” (Ezekiel 2:1-7).
So it is clear from the word of God that the preacher is to preach fearlessly the word of God. He is never to fear man. He is go to people everywhere with God’s message. He must speak it. Modeling it, doing nice things for people, is never enough. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ. And he is to preach, proclaim, or herald the holiness, justice, wrath, mercy, and grace of God in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. For how shall they hear without a preacher and how shall he preach unless he is sent? The Bible says nothing of going only to those who want to hear the message, as is clear from the ministries of Jeremiah and Ezekiel. We must go anywhere and everywhere.
If you have ever stood with preachers as they preach at a Gay Pride Parade then you have witnessed a most violent and virulent response to the message of law and abundant grace. If you have ever stood with open air preachers on the college campus you have no doubt seen a similar response.
So, what are preachers and evangelists to do? Shall we remain silent? After all, the people generally do not want to hear the gospel. Yahweh told Ezekiel that would be the case. Well, here’s what some seminary students in St. Louis, in connection with South City Church, have been doing for several years. They gather a number of volunteers to pass out water bottles to homosexuals in the Gay Pride Parade. As Stephen Moss writes, “We’ll be heading to the St. Louis Pride Parade to hand out FREE water to parade-goers and represent the love of Christ in a real and tangible way. We’ll be handing out 5000 free ice-cold water bottles at the St. Louis Pride Parade on Sunday, June 30. No strings attached, no bait-and-switch, just the message ‘You Matter, Jesus’, and the opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus, guests in a cultural space where Jesus’ followers are frequently associated with shame and mockery.”
Consider this question—is this what Jeremiah or Ezekiel did? Is this what the apostles did? Let’s not forget how wicked and vile the people of Judah were. Let’s not forget how perverse and licentious the people of Corinth and Ephesus were. Did Paul pass out water bottles to the pagans on their way to the temple of Diana in Ephesus? Did the apostles and prophets spend a great deal of time building relationships with the rebellious and wicked people of their cities? What did they do? They proclaimed law and the gospel of abundant grace. They proclaimed the judgment of God on all who continue to live in unrepentant sin. They proclaimed the necessity of turning to the Lord Jesus as the only means of salvation.
Oh, but you may object and say, “Wait, Jesus healed people. He fed the five thousand with a few loaves of bread and a few fish.” True, but why and what followed? He was announcing the kingdom of God. In fact earlier He said, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the gospel,” (Mark 1:15). And what followed the feeding of the five thousand? In John 6 He told them, “Truly, truly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day,” (John 6:53,54). As result of the hard statement requiring humble and complete surrender to the only One who could save them, most of the massive crowd left Jesus.
So, why are so many believers willing to pass out water bottles in the name of Jesus, but unwilling to call people to flee from the wrath which is to come and to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ? I dare not speculate on the motives of those going Sunday to distribute water at the Gay Pride Parade in St. Louis. However, no doubt one emotion which prevents people from opening their mouths to their neighbors or to any sinner is fear. We simply fear rejection, ridicule, and mockery. Others will say, “Why go there? They don’t want you there. Build relationships first.” But again, is that what we see the apostles and prophets doing? Let’s be Biblical, my friends. And besides, like Ezekiel we preach, if for no other reason than to declare that a prophet is in their midst. People need to hear of the saving life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are to shine the light of Christ into the dark places of this world and preaching is God’s way of doing so.
And besides, why would believers not want to go to the Gay Pride Parade in their own town and proclaim the excellencies of Christ? He is a wonderful, glorious, faithful Savior who gave His life as a ransom for all His people. He is the great lover of our souls. He saves His people to the uttermost because He always lives to make intercession for us. He gives new life. He sets the prisoner free. He gives sight to the blind. He makes the poor to become rich. He washes away sin and shame. He sets His people free from sin, Satan, death, hell, and the lake of fire. Through Christ’s reconciling death Paul declares that the believer who once was alienated from God, who was hostile in mind, and who was engaged in evil deeds, is now declared holy, blameless, and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:21-23).
So, I plan to be at Pridefest St. Louis, on Saturday and Sunday, June 29, 30 with Pastor Geoff Kirkland and several members of Christ Fellowship Bible Church, Tom Rayborn, Mike Stockwell and no doubt many others. Laura Perry, a young woman who left the transgender lifestyle and is now a faithful and fervent follower of Jesus will also be with us to bear witness to what God has done in her life and what He can do in the lives of others. Please pray for us, asking the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of many to the gospel as we proclaim, on the streets of St. Louis, the unfathomable riches of Jesus Christ.
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