Evaluating Witnessing and Evangelism

Scripture: Proverbs 25:12
Date: 06/23/2012 
Lesson: 12
"It is a mistake to become involved in God's great task of evangelism without effective evaluation."
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Welcome to Sacramento central seventh day adventist church. We're so glad that you're tuning in wherever you are joining us from. Whether this is your first time or you are a faithful member of our Sabbath school class, welcome. We don't want to forget those of you who are listening on the radio, watching live on our website at 'saccentral.org', or on the various television networks. Welcome - and of course to everybody here in the sanctuary.

Our first request that you have written in with is 'all the way my Savior leads me'. Pull out your hymnals, those of you at home, and join with us - #516 - we're going to sing all three stanzas. This is from barbara and sheryl in Alabama, toria and nkosi in australia, debi in bermuda, leon in California, wilma, Paulette, Michael, goodwin, viveen, and nenita in Canada, melika in china, glen in dominica, shavon in england, margaret in florida, linda, diand, marcus, wilfred, Karen, and damar in grenada, alex in hungary, hezron in india, donnolee, nadine, and rosano in jamaica, mwasumbi in Kentucky, ladell in Missouri, joyann in New York, sandie, vern, jamie, and jenny in north carolina, walter in panama, fanwell in the russian federation, maeva in seychelles, willington in Solomon islands, eugene in thailand, jerusha, jemima, jasmin, and marion in trinidad and tobago, robert in uganda, rose, naomi, nathan, and natasha in vanuatu, william in Wisconsin, and deligent in zimbabwe. This is a favorite, obviously, and it is here too. All three stanzas - #516.

If you have a favorite song that you would like to sing with us on an upcoming program, it is so simple. Go to our website - 'saccentral.org', click on the 'contact us' link and you can send in your favorite hymn request and we will do that for you - we'll sing it for you as soon as possible. #451 Is our next song - #451 - 'together let us sweetly live'. And this is a request from barbara in California, filbert in Canada, oisebe in england, erno in florida, and chioma in Maryland. We are going to sing the first, second, and fourth stanzas.

This is a new one for us here, so if you're at home sing loudly. Lovely song - and we're glad to learn the new ones, aren't we jolyne? Yes. #451 - First, second, and fourth stanzas. Father in Heaven, we are bound for the land of canaan and I pray that each day we will keep our eyes focused on that and that we won't get distracted by the bright and shiny things of the world that are so easy to be distracted by. Please keep us focused so that we can all be together in that beautiful land of canaan.

Be with us as we open up your word and we study together. Send your spirit to fill this place and your angels. In Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson study is going to be brought to us by pastor mike thompson. He is our health and outreach pastor here at Sacramento central.

Thank you debbie and jolyne. Hi mike. Happy Sabbath everybody. Good to see you all again. Before I begin, we have an offer.

It's offer #790 and it's this big book here, 'evangelism pre-work manual'. Now just look at that. Was this advertised last week? Yeah, this is really a - look at that beautiful big book - 'evangelism pre-work manual'. If you're having an evangelistic event of some sort in your church, this is the book you need. It says, 'growing your church from the inside out three months before the series.

So it goes through many good steps for preparation and so on. It's a workbook - it's very, very good. And you can have this if you call 1-866-study-more or -866-788-3966. That's free if you're in the continental United States of America - #790 - really good book. I'd like one of these myself.

I'll have to call Amazing Facts. Can I just put that with you? Thank you. So we're on lesson #12 of 'evangelism and witnessing' this week, and it's called 'evaluating witnessing and evangelism'. And there's a memory verse there from Proverbs 25:12. It says, "to one who listens, valid criticism is like a gold earring or other gold jewelry.

" So if you listen, it's like a piece of gold. And actually, valid criticism is something that we need to give when necessary. We tend to shy away from giving criticism because we often think, 'well, the person won't like it.' And we often think, 'I wouldn't like it.' But if we love one another and we care for one another and if we're humble enough to be willing to be shown where we can improve, it shouldn't be a problem, should it? But being human, it can be. But we should be willing and able to give it and to take it. I'm moving straight into Sunday's section, 'why evaluate?' You know, as individuals and also as a church, we're on a journey.

We are or should be heading toward an important destination in the distance, though it's getting much closer, and that is the city of God - the new Jerusalem. For our Heavenly Father waits to welcome home - longingly welcome home his precious children and that's us. But not only that, as we're heading home he has commissioned us along the way to proclaim the third angel's message and to urge as many as will to get on board the ship of life and find eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. So, we're heading somewhere but it's God's purpose that we should call as many people to join us as possible to find Jesus and to find and experience all the things that Jesus has provided for us through his death and his life and his intercession for us right now. Hi len, good to see you.

But with any moving object, as it's heading toward a fixed point, whether it's a pedestrian or it's a car or it's a ship or a plane or a spacecraft, there has to be a constant monitoring of the direction in which it is heading - that it stays on course - of course. It was important to keep the apollo astronauts on course - remember those apollo missions - - they first landed on the moon? I think that was apollo 13 - and then they had several afterwards. Those are all the apollo moon missions - and it was especially important then to keep those astronauts on track heading toward the moon. But how much more is it important for God's church to stay on track as it heads toward - as it goes upward - heading upward to glory with far more at stake than the destiny of three astronauts. It's the eternal destiny of thousands and thousands of people here.

So with this reason, monitoring - and I'm getting to it - and evaluation - assessing - needs to be a constant and an ongoing business so that any crucial course correction can be taken care of immediately. I don't need to explain that. Now, that may sound well and good and yes, we certainly need to do that but, in turn, it raises the question, well, to keep God's church on track or to move in with a course correction, whose navigational standard - or standards are we going to employ? We're going to use some pseudo-scientific Christian philosophy. I know that's a mouthful but it stands for a lot these days. We're going to employ some pseudo-scientific Christian philosophy when we need a course correction or are we going to use God's age-old tested and faithful standard of His Word - the Word of God - all of it and just as it reads? I thought you might say 'amen' to that but, anyway, I'll forgive you this time around.

I guess there's a lot of people friends - they don't do that these days. They don't do that. They don't take this book as it reads. I'm going to discuss some of that in a moment. So, we need to do that.

We need to be simple enough to say, 'I believe this book is inspired by God and unless he shows me otherwise in this book that maybe there's some symbolism here and I need to extrapolate the true real meaning of that. Unless God's Word shows you that - gives you license in that particular instance, then I need to take this book as it reads and follow it and order my life according to as this book reads. Okay? That's why Jesus said, you know, 'unless ye become as little children.' There's more than one way of looking at that - we need to be humble, to be a little child, and teachable, but we just as much need to be little children when it comes to this book. That's why - was it - oh tyndale, I think it was tyndale - I believe it was tyndale - he was lying on his sick bed and the papal officer came to see him and tyndale, he had plans - well this kind of was the catalyst, I think, that really triggered his desire to give the english people the Bible in their own language. It looked like he was going to die but he was determined he wouldn't and he said to this papal officer, he said in so many words - he says, 'by the grace of God I will ensure that a plow boy knows more about the Scriptures one day, than you do.

' And long story short, he had to finish up leaving england but he produced the Scriptures in the english language. Lost his life as a consequence, but that was a small price for him to pay, as far as he was concerned. So we need to take this book as it reads. And along with this book, the counsels of the Spirit of prophecy that God, in his merciful wisdom, has given to us to navigate as his little flock, through the treacherous cross-currents of the omega apostasy, which I believe we are already encountering. But trust me friends, the worst is yet to come.

All the more reason to cling to this and, yes, Ellen white, apparently she was a small lady and, yes, she didn't have much of an education in one respect - she only got what - was it second, third grade education? But trust me, she had an education direct from heaven above. And that simple lady that some now feel inclined to look down upon, she was educated by God. She received light from God himself and God, through her, has given us counsels which it behooves us to accept and heed. Then, especially, we will be kept from the treacherous currents of apostasy which are flowing all around us. So, we're looking at evaluation so let's begin with a good text that we can use for evaluating the church, yes, but also for self evaluation.

Corinthians chapter 13, verses 5 and six. And I would like a noble and courageous volunteer to read that this morning - Corinthians chapter 13, verses 5 and 6. Michael - thank you mike - I had a feeling you'd do this. Nathan, give this to your uncle Michael please and he's going to read for us. He's your uncle now, yes.

"Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you are disqualified." So, when it says, 'examine yourselves whether you be in the faith. Prove yourselves.' Again, by whose standard? It can only be God's standard. There is a way that seems right unto a man - and a woman - but the ends thereof are the ways of death.

' Or can be. Jeremiah 17:9 says "the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" Do you know your own heart? Sometimes we might think we do. Most times we don't without God's help. Only God knows the true condition of our hearts and only through subjecting our hearts to the searching of his sacred word and the searching of the holy spirit to reveal crooked and perverse ways within us it can be established that it kind of comes under the radar sometimes.

Only by having God put his searching instruments upon us - the Spirit and His Word - can these things be brought to our attention. We need this. We need this more and more and more. David said, in psalm 139, he said, 'search me, o God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me.' Not just for God's sake - God already knew just at a glance - but in turn, Lord, you might reveal that to me. 'See if there be any wicked way in me.

' Now, only if the heart is right can the behavior be right. Even though it may be possible, perhaps, to hide our true selves behind a veneer of what might be an apparently upright moral life - some people are very good at this - you can be a cultured Christian. You know, maybe you're running for some office somewhere - political office - and you know, the image requires you go to church. So you start going to church to give the right image to those who you want to vote for you - for those who have already, perhaps, voted for you. But underneath that culture and that polish you can be just as carnal and ambitious for things other than heaven.

God sees all of those things. But still, we can be like that. All of us can be like that one way or another. But the bottom line is none of us can read one another's hearts. Only God can do that and we must leave that with him.

But at least - I may not be able to read other people's hearts and I may not be able to fix everything in their life that I think needs to be fixed, but I can let God fix, in my heart and my life, what needs to be fixed and to make sure my heart is indeed pure and sanctified and my actions are actually the outward reflection of a truly inborn, born-again Christian. Other than that, all we can do in respect to others, especially when it comes to considering them for church office, is to evaluate them mostly on what we see on the outside. And we can't do anything else than that. For example, let's look at qualifications for being an elder or a deacon. Timothy 3:1 through 13 - Timothy chapter 3 - I'm sorry, I'm going the wrong way.

Timothy - sorry, this is not - oh yeah - 1 Timothy 3, verses 1 through 13. I'm not going to read all of these. Verse 1, "this is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behavior, given to hospitality, apt to teach; not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

" And it goes on as well, of course, to speak about the requirements for deacons and they're very, very similar. Now, of course, this certain terminology here, which is very much focused toward the male population - 'the husband of one wife' - 'if a man desire to be a bishop' - which kind of, you know, is just begging to be a segue into this discussion on the issue of women's ordination. And I will just say a little bit about that this morning - I feel it certainly ties in here - that passage is certainly there in the lesson. Does the Bible uphold the idea of women's ordination or not? I know some very good people on both sides - some very good people. I personally am on the side - I don't believe it's there - I don't believe the Bible is teaching such a thing and I might as well let you know, just for the record while you're here this morning, having said that, I think women are wonderful creatures.

I even married one. And she gave me two beautiful daughters. Am I a chauvinist? I certainly hope not. You know, I'm sure eve was a lot better looking than adam was and it's generally stayed that way - the ladies are much better looking than their male counterparts. I hope you - I thought you might say 'amen' ladies but anyway.

And men, just get over it, you know, just get over it. And I really believe that God has gifted women to excel far better than men in certain areas of church life, I mean, there's no doubt about it. There's a lot of room for different types of areas to work in the overall ministry of the church, professionally and otherwise. But again, I don't believe that the Bible supports the idea of ordaining women to the ministry. Now, I'm not going to labor this point this morning and give the prime passages that are usually used here, but I will just say this - just bear with me a few minutes as I kind of conclude this section and move on here.

I believe that we can demonstrate a case for women's ordination if we use a type of Bible interpretation known - very often known as the historical critical method of Bible interpretation. Put simply, the historical critical method views the Bible not so much as God's Revelation of himself to man, but views the Bible more as man's Revelation - it's man's Revelation of God. You get the point there? There's the Bible - I believe this is God's Revelation to man. If you take the historical critical method it's kind of saying, 'well, this is man's ideas and views that they had of God in which the ancient writers presented God and the way he works in a way that reflected the prevailing culture at the time - including the fact that it was a very male-dominated society - true enough. But God gave certain roles in eden and I think there are certain roles that still stand.

The man is to be the head of the house. God has placed men in headship in certain positions. But now, you see, here we are in the 21st century culture here in the western world, with a feminist element - and by the way, there's different types of feminism - there's some of the radical stuff out there - I'm not talking about that. There's even a Christian feminism - it kind of comes off that but it's not as radical as some of the stuff you see out there so let's just - in fairness, let's keep that in mind. But in the 21st century culture in the western world with its feminist element, it's far different from that which prevailed in the times of Abraham and Moses and Paul.

Therefore - according to this progressive kind of a thinking - therefore we need to adjust our understanding of Scripture to keep in touch with the evolution of contemporary thought and practice and make our Gospel more relative to the society in which we live. Okay? Am I making sense here? So if we accept that premise then we can surely have the Bible accommodate the idea of women's ordination. And, after all, other churches have done it so why are we as adventists so slow sometimes? Well, here's the real point I want to make this morning. If we're willing to accept the ordination of women to the ministry based upon cultural element, then we must also be willing to accept and support same-sex marriage, the ordination of gay clergy. God forbid that maybe somewhere down the line the baptism of practicing homosexuals.

Now, let me say something here. If a man walks in this church this morning and comes to me and says, 'pastor mike, I want you to know, I'm a homosexual. But I've read the Word of God as it reads and I really feel that it's wrong. I want you to know I'm struggling and I want you to pray with me because I want Jesus to help me overcome this.' And if that man makes an appointment with me to study the Bible and he goes through what we believe and he has a born-again experience - even though he may still feel those pullings - like anybody can feel the pulling for alcohol or drugs or, you know, even - not just same sex but even the opposite sex. If that man says, 'pastor mike, I still feel the pulling but I want to be faithful.

' I would not for one moment hesitate to baptize that man. Not for a moment. And it would be the same with a lady. I may pass her off to our lady Bible worker or maybe melissa - melissa, she counsels ladies - she might feel more comfortable with that. But I wouldn't waste a moment in saying, 'brother, welcome to the family of God.

' But there's a difference in that than going down a path that can ultimately lead you to baptizing practicing homosexuals in the house of God. And if we're going to be consistent, with the same cultural element or principle by which we justify women's ordination or same-sex marriage, or the ordination of gay clergy then, to be consistent, we should get on the bandwagon and go with those who are de-emphasizing the literal interpretation of Genesis - the first eleven chapters, particularly. It's very often - I mean, it's been allegorized out there in some denominations for the longest time. But where else do we see it happening? Well, I don't need to tell you, do i? We see it happening even in the seventh day adventist church where the literal six-day creation and a world-wide flood is questioned. And so, as you - if you push the parameters of that thinking out further and further into the community of the church, the more you make a vacuum, but the more that vacuum is going to be filled with this consistent argument then, therefore, we should continue - or we should start - really emphasizing evolutionary concepts in our schools and in the church.

And it can go on infinitum. I'm not saying to you that those who support women's ordination are wicked people who are automatically in favor of same-sex marriage or evolutionary concepts or some of the other things I mentioned. No, I'm not saying that. But the point I want to make here this morning is if we open that first door to one practice based upon the biblical adaptation to our culture, then on what grounds can we refuse others who, in the name of culture, consistency, and equality demand that they too should be given their rightful recognition and place within the body of the church? How can you turn them away? If you do, you're a hypocrite. Did Jesus like hypocrisy? No, certainly not.

So if we continue with this, I fear - I fear, friends, that we're going to open a door to possible fragmentation of the world church at a time - if we've got our heads screwed on and our eyes open - there is a crisis building out there through those doors, through those windows, which the devil is engineering and he's getting us side-tracked on other things. That crisis that is going to come rolling in like the biggest tsunami that's ever hit the church since its conception and there's so many of us going to be unprepared because we've allowed ourselves to be side-tracked and sucked in with these things. I'll say this: if I was in favor of women's ordination - I have nothing against - ladies, I can look you all in the eye and tell you I have nothing - I love you. Helen, I didn't mean that in a wrong way but you know what I mean. I didn't mean that in a wrong way.

You know me well - you know in my heart - I think. I've been around here for 14 years. Help me - where was i? Yeah, oh yeah - even if I thought it was okay, the fact that I stand back and I see what a decisive - what a divisive issue this is - I'd say, 'you know what? I feel I'm in the right but you know what? I'm going to put it to rest because it's causing so much strife and division it's going to get the church unnecessarily off track. We're going to spend time, energy, and who knows what else - we're going to stop - slow down winning souls and that's time away when it comes in it's going to sweep a lot of us away. So I'm done.

Let's move on. When we evaluate we need to evaluate kindly. This is Monday. Now, do you enjoy criticism? Do you enjoy being criticized Michael? No, I don't - my natural response is 'helen, what did you say?' That's what you call a defensive mode of listening and I had a couple in counseling just a few days ago and we were talking about communication and defensive listening. But who enjoys criticism? At first our natural response might be 'oh!' But then we realize, if we're mature Christians, we have to listen because the person talking to us may actually have something of value and of worth.

The truth is there are times in life when it's our Christian duty to criticize others and also our Christian duty to receive it - but to do it and to receive it like Jesus would. Now I know the term criticism tends to have a negative connotation so we may choose to substitute that term for - in line with the lesson - evaluation or assessment - but either way it's needful to determine if a group or an individual is demonstrating the fruits of Christian development and working in the correct fashion down the correct avenue of service. Now Monday's section makes an important point regarding some of the pitfalls that must be avoided during the evaluation process. And I'm going to quote here from the lesson in Monday. It says, 'if we are overly active in evaluation, and focus mostly on the negatives, there is the potential to create a critical environment that will discourage and decrease the pool of volunteers.

There is a lot of truth in that, my friends. The word 'discourage'. Jesus was the great encourager even when he found it necessary to reprove and correct even his disciples. We have to remember what it's like for us and we have to treat others in the same way. We need to do it as Jesus would.

I think there's nothing more painful - well, along with some other things, but this is a very painful thing to witness nonetheless, when you see a parent take a child and just chastise them and humiliate them in front of their peers. That is - now the child may have been very, very naughty and maybe they need correction - it needs to be given. But it needs to be given in love and you take that child aside and you do what needs to be done there. Not just children, even adults - we're all children really. Who enjoys being put down in front of everybody? It's humiliating.

It's hurtful. And so, we need to keep those things in mind. You know, it was last week - we had a baby dedication up here and I was looking for a statement to share with the parents from child guidance and I did, but I finished up finding one or two others that were really interesting - I didn't use it last week but it was on about this same kind of thing. It was on - the subsection was children's reaction and it was talking there about, with children, those parents who are constantly criticizing their children and saying, 'you're always doing this. Why are you always doing this? You're always doing this, this, this - what you do, you discourage the child and the child becomes convinced in its mind that because mom and dad have said this a thousand times about me doing it then this obviously must be what I'm supposed to do.

This is part of me. And you implant that in the child's brain and their psyche. It happened with me in school with math - I still struggle with the fact that I was told I was a dunce with math. And don't feel sorry for me, I'll get over it. But here am I 65 in a few days and I still go back to school and I think, 'I'm a dunce with math.

I'm a dunce with math.' Well I'm not that bad after all, but you get the point. And so, what you actually do, you create the very evil that you're supposedly trying to allow your child to get away from. And we need to remember this with other people as well. Now, Jesus - Jesus evaluated people very accurately. We can't do that as much.

We can get, perhaps close in some ways, I mean, when we ask somebody or invite somebody to fill a position in the church - whatever that position is - Sabbath school teacher, deacon, whatever - any - any job. That nominating committee should do what over that person's name? There's two things they need to do. They need to get as much accurate information as they can and somebody else said - did somebody say 'pray'? Why would you do that? I mean - no, I'm just being facetious. We need to pray, don't we? We need to pray. So often we leave prayer to the last - 'oh, what shall we - oh, you know, why don't we pray?' I've been in the presence of mature Christians - and I'm just as much to blame - if something comes up - looking for this - and somebody says - maybe even a child - 'why don't we pray?' Oh yes, why don't we pray? So we get down and we pray and we feel so stupid and ashamed that we didn't do that in the first place.

We need to pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. God is as much interested as the right person being in that position - probably more interested than what we are. And he can give us insight. So we need to pray. But again, only God can help us in these particular areas because it can be - it can be very difficult.

All we have left is what we see on the outside. Okay, what I wanted to move on to here. The lesson also reminds us that affirmation is very important for people in spite of, perhaps, their failings that need to be corrected. We need to affirm people. Do you like to receive affirmation? Do you like somebody to come and say, 'you know, I really appreciate what you did.

There are - there are people in families, in churches, all over the place who are just - just working, working, working and just working their little hearts out and they get their pay - or maybe they don't get their pay if it's at home - and they're just longing for their spouse to come to them and just say, 'oh, by the way, I really appreciate what you're doing.' Sometimes that's all they need. Children need that. We all need to be affirmed. So if all you give your kids and if all you give, perhaps, to somebody who's working under you at an office at the church - if all you do is correct them, correct them, correct them, they'll get discouraged. Look for the good points and let them know that you appreciate them.

You know, I enjoy doing that to people. There was somebody last week - it was somebody in the parking lot. They were just rushing off and I'd seen them just the day before - our youth were going off on a camping trip for the weekend and I saw this particular - it was a young lady - and I looked out and I thought, 'just look at her. I know she's busy.' And there she is working with our young people and she was there planning everything and they finally drove off and then I saw her again just a few - the next week over in the parking lot and I just called her over and I says, 'oh by the way,' - I said, 'I'm not trying to embarrass you or puff you up but' - I said, 'I just want to thank you for working with our young people.' And she looked at me - I said, 'I was looking at you out my office window just over a week ago.' I said, 'I want you to know that we notice these things and I want to thank you.' And I think she appreciated that. We need encouragement.

Jesus was the great encourager and we need to be the same. We also need to remind people in evaluation, if there is, perhaps, criticism that gives them a little ouch - a little owie or two - to recognize that in all these things as they remain submitted to God, God uses these things to educate, to train, to polish us. What is it Jesus said about 'if my father has a plant or a tree that brings forth much fruit' - what does he often do with it? Prunes it, right? Pardon me? Yeah, he'll prune it back sometimes. Roses - roses grow like weeds sometimes. I don't tell my wife that in those terms but she has roses outside the house and every January I get the job of cutting them back and I just really go at those things with a vengeance and she'll look and she'll say, 'oh' - as though they were bleeding, you know - 'how can you cut them so low?' I say, 'you watch, they'll grow.

' And trust me, if you have roses you know what I'm talking about. And even now, you can cut them back and they'll just come up again like beautiful weeds. Another thing as well, and now this comes from my vast - I'm being funny here - my vast font of knowledge and experience with premarital counseling. Trust me, I read the books. They speak of the magic five-to-one ratio - and I'm using magic not in an occult sense - but it's kind of a - it's an interesting point.

Research has shown that with couples you can and you should address things which are troubling you in your marriage and you should be able to sit down with your spouse - and I tell people you need to sign an agreement with one - enter into a covenant that once a week or once a month - whatever - you both sign and agree that we will sit down with one another and without fear of reprisals or whatever else - backtalk - we will allow one another to just spill it and know that you can do it safely. He's not going to just bite your head off or she's not going to do the same. You can just do that. And it may be necessary in those times to discuss maybe some issues - you may have to present some what we might call negative criticisms of your spouse, your partner, but they found this in research, that for every negative comment, if it's countered by five positive ones - I mean they do this research, I know it's not an exact science but there's some truth in it - that those people have a much healthier communication relationship in their marriage. So, if you see somebody with perhaps some serious failing in a job they're doing and you address that with them - you must do it, but at the same time encourage them where they're doing good.

Doesn't God do that with you? I know he does it with me - if he didn't, oh. Okay. All right. Let me - another thing too - I didn't get time to find this statement from 'Desire of Ages' but I think you'll be familiar with it. There's - if there's one thing Jesus delighted in doing, it was to find fallen human beings - just in the most despicable and - well he didn't want them to be like that in the first place - I mean, his heart was touched by human suffering, but he delighted in finding those, nonetheless, who were just down there - who society - who the pharisees and the scribes they just thought they were just the offscourings of society and these people were full of immorality and all the rest of it - just the lowlifes - but Jesus would go to these people and he would even heal them, but he would speak words of forgiveness to them.

He'd get down on his knees and he would talk to them as somebody who cared, you know? And those people weren't used to that and they'd look at him and they'd see this gentle compassion in his eyes and it was almost unreal. And he'd tell them 'there is a God in heaven who loves you in spite of where you are and what you're doing. There is a God in heaven who loves you. And that God in heaven loves you so much he can see what you're going through and he wants to forgive you. And he knows that you want to do good but you seem so weak.

Well, you know what? I forgive you.' And in those moments, you know, there in those quiet moments Jesus' divinity would shine through and those people somehow knew that he had the authority to forgive them. You know the thing I'm talking about? They just - he's no ordinary person. And they would accept that forgiveness and that mercy. And Jesus would lift them up, put his arm around them, and say, 'now you go for I have a work for you to do.' And you know what those people - what was kindled in their hearts was the fact that Jesus had expressed confidence in them. Nobody else had ever done that before, but he expressed confidence in them and there was something down there in that down-trodden soul - something that they found just rose - something inside rose to meet that challenge.

Something inside said, 'I want to show myself worthy of this trust that Jesus has given to me. That is a powerful thing, my friends. And that's what our children need when we're evaluating their shortcomings. And we've spoken about children. Let them know that you believe, through the grace of God, if they'll give their little hearts to Jesus they can aspire to do wonderful and noble things.

And lives have been changed because Jesus and following in Jesus' steps - his instruments who are imbued with his love and compassion - who prayed, right? - And went out every day with a passion for souls burning in their hearts and they looked for these ones and they tell them, 'God can forgive you. Now go. He has a work for you to do.' And they go forth and those people are changed. Do you know that? You ask God to lead you to some of them and you give them those words of encouragement, you'll be surprised what you will find in heaven when you get there. 'What the Lord asks' - we won't get anywhere near close to finishing this but still, let's go to Deuteronomy chapter 10, verses 12 and 13.

Deuteronomy 10, verses 12 and 13. And I would like a volunteer please - perhaps somebody on this side. Deuteronomy 10, verses - do we have a microphone over here? All right. What's your name? Janice, yeah, janice. I remember - janice is going to read for us.

"And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways and to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and his statutes which I command you today for your good?" Thank you very much, janice, thank you. I remember asking your name a couple of weeks ago - I forgot - forgive me. So God gave this charge for the Israelites to keep his commandments and his statutes as they were about to go somewhere. Where was that somewhere, do you remember? Just about ready to go into the promised land and he gave them this charge here. In fact, we look at the verse before, verse 11, "and the Lord said unto me, 'arise and take thy journey before the people that they may go in and possess the land which I swear unto their fathers to give them.

" And then he gives them this charge, you see? So it's very, very significant. They're standing on the borders of the promised land. But the - this group, this generation that God gave this particular charge to, they didn't go into the promised land, did they? They never made it because they cast away their faith in God and refused to go forward at his bidding. So as we, again, using the main point of the lesson - as we evaluate - that's the theme today - as we evaluate their performance, we have little choice than to give them an f. Their performance and also their witness.

We've got to give them an f as well because those other nations, you know, they got news about what was going on with this bunch of people that came out of Egypt. So we give them an f for that but we - and we know also only too well that even the succeeding generations - the generations that settled in canaan didn't do a lot better. What the Lord asked and commanded them to do was more often the thing that they failed to do - at times even just plain said, 'no, I don't think we can do that.' Now, somebody might well say to me, 'well, it's all well and good for God to command them to walk in all his ways, to serve him and keep his commandments, but was it really asking too much of them, I mean, how could they possibly keep his law in their own strength? Isn't this just kind of typical of the old testament where people are expected to be saved by their own works without the help of God's grace? I mean, that's the idea some people get, you know. Well, no, not at all. Salvation in the old testament is just as much based upon grace as it is grace in the new testament.

Just as much so - it's the outflowing of God's grace as it is in the new. And so Deuteronomy 10:12 clearly presents God's law as something that is to be fulfilled as an outflowing or something as an expression of love toward God and others. But the obedience is to be the fruit of such a love experience with God that's kindled within the human heart as an act of divine grace. Again in 10:12 and 13 - notice how God placed his love before work with love following as a consequence. I'm cutting into the verse here.

.." To love him" - love - "to serve the Lord" - there's a consequence - "to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and to keep his commandments - to keep the commandments of the Lord." And that's perfectly in harmony with what Jesus taught in Matthew 22. He showed that the law was based upon a principle of love. I'm going to read this because time's moving on. Matthew 22:36 through 40. This man came and he says, "'master, which is the great commandment in the law?' Jesus said unto him, 'thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.'" So, okay, somebody else says, 'I accept then that even in old testament times God's law, whenever it was genuinely kept was the outflowing of love and it was all the product of divine grace. But what did a person have to do - what did they have to do in order to be able to receive this grace from God to be filled with love and then, in turn, to keep his law? Well, there's more than one way we can look at this and we can find a very suitable answer, but our time is gone so I have to conclude here with our free offer - evangelism pre-workbook manual. It's offer #790 - if you call -866-study-more or -866-788-3966 this will be sent to you free if you're in the continental United States of America.

Well, God bless you. If you've missed any of our Amazing Facts programs, visit our website at 'amazingfacts.org'. There you'll find an archive of all our television and radio programs, including Amazing Facts presents. One location. So many possibilities.


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