Handing Out Tracts

Q. How do you greet strangers with a religious tract? I just say “God bless you”. Is there anything better? How do you greet a Buddhist so that he won’t brush me off ? How about “I am bringing good news from the God of your ancestors.”? I often look for ways to improve performance. Despite being a cult, Mormons often impress me with their seriousness in what they are doing with the way they dress themselves when they come knocking on my door. Color psychology suggests people are more receptive to others dressed in blue color. Have you noticed such reaction ?

A. Always smile to show that you are friendly & approachable. There is no need to ask “Would you like one of these?” That gives them a chance to say no. Simply give it. There are no fool-proof introductions, but I’ve used the following lines:
• Did you get one of these?
• Here’s a little gift for you.
• This is for you.
• Here’s something for you to read later.
• Here’s a free gospel tract.
• Here’s one of our church tracts.
• Here’s some food for thought.

When I distribute tracts to complete strangers on the street or in a mall, I have no idea what they believe, whether they are atheists, Buddhists, or any other religion. So I don’t presume anything until there is dialogue & I know something about their background. “God bless you” is ok, but “bringing good news from your ancestors’ God” sounds corny.

Mormon missionaries are always clean-cut & neatly dressed. Jehovah Witnesses are not badly attired either. They want to give a good first impression so that people are not put off before they even open their mouths. My rule is “give no offense”:
1 Co 10:32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God;
• 2 Co 6:3 giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited,

Navy blue conveys power, authority, stability, conservatism, confidence. That’s why government officials & executives wear them. Just make sure your “packaging” matches your “content”.

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Predestination

Q. Is there such a thing as predestination? Paul had chosen to be a Pharisee. Saving grace was forced on him and he repented and accepted. The Israelites had chosen to reject Yahweh but all Israelites will repent and be saved at the end times. The gentiles have quite a different fate. As a gentile, I treasure God’s saving grace and mercy.

A. Yes there is predestination. I have written on the subject before so I won’t repeat myself. Please refer to the previous posts:
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/predestination/

https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/is-everything-pre-determined/

https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2012/09/29/election-based-on-foreknowledge/

https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2012/08/24/election-of-saints-election-4/

Paul was a Pharisee, but saving grace was not forced on him:
Php 3:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;

For the conversion of Saul, read Acts 9:3-9, 17-18; 22:6-16; 26:12-18. Unlike ISIS who put a knife to the throat to force people to recant their faith, God did not threaten him. Paul was not coerced or under duress, but saw the light when he was struck blind temporarily. He repented willingly when he realized how wrong he was about Jesus.

Nor is the privilege of knowing God offered to Jews alone, but Gentiles also:
• Acts 26:23 that the Christ was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”
• Rom 3:29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,
• Rom 9:24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
• 1 Co 1:24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
• 1 Co 12:13 For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.
• Ga 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

The difference is only of timing –
• Rom 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
• Rom 2:10-11 but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.

Hope this helps to clarify your issues.

Apostasy Part 2 of 2

(Continued from yesterday)

Are apostates true or false Christians? My opinion is the latter, based on:
• Jn 6:39 This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day.
• 1 Jn 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.

Jesus did not lose any true Christian. In context 1 Jn 2:19 refers to the many antichrists in the last hour or end times, but the description fits well to those who fall away and deny Christ.

Can a person be justified and glorified without being sanctified? The answer is NO, based on Rom 8:29-30:

For those whom He (1) foreknew, He also (2) predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also (3) called; and these whom He called, He also (4) justified; and these whom He justified, He also (5) glorified.

Here we see the “golden chain of salvation“, beginning with God foreknowing those He would elect, then predestined them, calling them, justifying them, and finally glorifying them. The chain is unbroken, based on Rom 11:29:
for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

In between justification and glorification is sanctification. God does not glorify a person whom He did not first set apart and make holy i.e. sanctify. And He does not sanctify a person without first declaring him righteous in Christ i.e. justify. So a person cannot skip sanctification and jump from justification to glorification. Salvation is not just a point action at a moment in time when he trusted in Christ as his Savior and is declared righteous (justification, past tense), but also a process whereby he is progressively conformed to the image of Christ (sanctification, present tense), following Him as Lord. It is both, without which he will not be glorified (future tense). In theology we call this Lordship Salvation.

In conclusion, there is apostasy and my view is that apostates have never been true Christians. They have made a profession of faith, may have been baptized, gone to church and acted like Christians, but have never been regenerated and born from above. They are tares, not wheat; goats, not sheep. They resemble Christians, but eventually show their true color by turning away, so be warned.

Apostasy Part 1 of 2

Q. Is there such a thing as Christian apostasy? Or these people have never been true Christians? Can one have justification and glorification without sanctification?

A. Yes there is. Depending on which version you use, the word “apostasy” appears several times in the Bible. I use the NASB myself:
Jer 8:5 “Why then has this people, Jerusalem, Turned away in continual apostasy? They hold fast to deceit, They refuse to return.
• Hos 14:4 I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them.
• 2 Thes 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

The ESV has it in:
Jer 2:19 Your evil will chastise you, and your apostasy will reprove you. Know and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God; the fear of me is not in you, declares the Lord GOD of hosts.
in addition to Hos 14:4.

In the OT the noun “apostasy” translates the Hebrew word meshuwbah, which appears 12 times in 12 verses, including Jer 2:19, 8:5 and Hos 14:4 cited above. Literally it means “turning away, turning back, backsliding“.

“Apostasy” also translates the Greek noun apostasia, which means “a falling away, defection“. It appears twice in the NT, in 2 Thes 2:3, as well as in Acts 21:21, where the it is translated “forsake”.

The verb apostacize has a synonym aphistemi which occurs 20 times in 14 verses. Those translated “fall away” include:
Lk 8:13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away.
• 1 Tim 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,
• Heb 3:12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.

You can easily see from the English versions that apostasy means turning or falling away, forsaking. Are apostates genuine Christians, or are they those who are close to but have never been truly born-again? On the one hand, Arminian theology which do not subscribe to eternal security believes these folks to be true Christians who have lost their salvation. They feel to turn away implies you must have believed in the first place. On the other hand, Reformed theology which subscribes to perseverance of faith, or Dispensation theology which subscribes to “once saved always saved (OSAS)” believe these folks to be counterfeit Christians. They feel they have only tasted of the heavenly gift, but have never really committed themselves to it. Who is correct?

(To be continued)