Thursday, May 30, 2019

Fishers of Men

“Come, follow Me,” Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
 
     I met Marty in the summer of 2006. We both worked at the same factory; he was a pipe-fitter and I was a laborer. Marty had to be every bit of fifty years old, but you'd never guess it except that his full head of hair was almost completely white. Marty was a people person, an affable character who always had a quip that was sure to make you smile. I liked talking to Marty. We'd often spend our breaks conversing about the latest news or various other topics of mutual interest, such as health and fitness. Marty would always walk through my break area to get to the company fitness center because it was a shortcut. Lots of times I'd be reading my Bible when he'd pass by, and so he would ask me questions about it. Similarly, when I would workout in the fitness center, Marty would often be there too and we would talk about spiritual things. 

     One day I gave Marty a little booklet. It was the Gospel of John from the New Living Translation that I had ordered from the International Bible Society.[1] Marty read the booklet with interest and would ask me questions about what he was reading. After he finished reading the Gospel of John, I said to him: "So, who would you say that Jesus is?" I remember Marty said something like, "That's what you've been sharing with me. Jesus is the Son of God!" Soon Marty began calling me his angel. Time and time again he would thank me for sharing the truth with him. The prophet Isaiah says, "How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation" (Isaiah 52:17; cf. Romans 10:15). I saw that Marty was eager to read more of the Bible so I gave him a white and gold colored pocket New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs.[2] Marty was like a sponge soaking up the Word of God. He read through the Gospel of Luke in his pocket New Testament, and then the rest of the Gospels. When he asked me what book of the Bible he should read next, I suggested the book of Romans. A few days later I was walking through the factory and I saw Marty sitting at a table with his reading glasses on, reading his New Testament. I sat down next to him and come to find out, he was reading through Romans!

     I believe that by God's amazing grace, Marty came to know Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. A year later the company shut down and closed it's doors. All that's there today is a vacant lot. But the gates of heaven haven't closed. In fact, they've been flung wide open by the nail-scarred hands of Jesus, for souls like Marty to enter in (see John 3:14-17, 10:9, 14:6, 20:19-21:14). Will you point these souls to the Savior? Larry Moyer aptly remarks: "When I stand in that heavenly city and saints around me appear, I hope somebody comes up and says, 'You're the one who invited me here.'"[3]


ENDNOTES:

[1] The International Bible Society is now known as Biblica.

[2] The pocket New Testament that I gave Marty was from the New King James Version (NKJV).

[3] Larry Moyer, 31 Days With the Master Fisherman: A Daily Devotional on Bringing Christ to Others, 79.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dennis Rokser's "Hermaneutical Hopscotch" Approach to Defining the Gospel

"The student of Scripture is not free to practice his own hermeneutical hopscotch - jumping around the text and twisting it to meet his theological agenda." -Dr. Parker Reardon
Is the burial of Christ something to be skipped over when presenting the Gospel? What about the appearances of Christ after His resurrection as the apostle John highlights at the end of his Gospel? Can these facts be skipped over in our presentations of the Gospel?

Pastor Dennis Rokser of Duluth Bible Church takes a non-traditional view of the Free Grace Gospel. In other words, he doesn't think that Christ's burial and resurrection appearances are part of the Gospel. Thus it's not surprising to see how he skips over these facts in the Gospel of John. For example, Rokser made the following statement in regards to the Gospel of John and "what a sinner needs to believe to have eternal life":
“Furthermore, Hodges fails to note that John does not even personally appeal to his readers to personally believe the content of what has been written in his Gospel until he declares the record of Christ’s death (John 19:35) and His bodily resurrection (John 20:31).”1

Notice how in his statement above, Rokser skips over the fact that Christ was buried (Jn. 19:38-42) and the fact that He appeared to His disciples (Jn. 20:19-31). Sadly, Dennis Rokser is playing hopscotch with the Gospel - skipping over certain parts of the Gospel that he has picked out as not really being part of the Gospel.
   
But in light of the "content of what has been written" and the context of John's Gospel, Rokser's statement should actually include the Gospel truths of Christ's burial and resurrection appearances to His disciples (see the italicized words below which Rokser skipped over and didn't include in his statement):
Furthermore, Hodges fails to note that John does not even personally appeal to his readers to personally believe the content of what has been written in his Gospel until he declares the record of Christ’s death for our sins (John 19:35; cf. Jn. 1:29-34) and His bodily resurrection from the grave to appear "in the presence of the disciples" (John 20:30-31; cf. Jn. 19:38-21:14).3 

This is John's gospel message and what he says must be "believed" (cf. Gal. 2:6-9; 1 Cor. 15:1-11). So the next time you present the Gospel to someone, don't play "hermeneutical hopscotch" - be sure to include Christ's burial and appearances like the apostle John does in his Gospel.


ENDNOTES:

1 Dennis Rokser, “Stakes Through the Heart of Zane Hodges’ Hydra Head,” http://indefenseofthegospel.blogspot.com/2008/10/stakes-through-heart-of-zane-hodgess.html (accessed October 8, 2008). For more information, copy and paste the previous link into your web browser and read my comment at the end of that article.

This is a common tactic among groundless gospel advocates. For example, Tom Stegall skips over Christ's burial and resurrection appearances in Acts 13 (see my blog post titled "Tom Stegall's Galatian Gospel: Where is Christ's Burial?"), and J. B. Hixson skips over Christ's burial and resurrection appearances in Isaiah 53 (see footnote 7 in my chart "The Free Grace Gospel Debate").

3 This is my adaptation of Rokser's original statement which skipped over the facts of Christ's burial and resurrection appearances.