Once upon a time there were little men who handcrafted toys of wood. These little toymakers found some wood to be easier to work with than others. Whether one worked with rough and knotty stock or a smooth but easily marred piece, the little men envisioned the toy hidden within the raw material and invested much time and energy to bring it to life. Each toy was unique and was presented with much joy to Babbo, the master of the little men, who had much pleasure in placing the toys among the children of the field.
Over time the little men became proud in their craft and Babbo became an after thought. The little toymakers started to get competitive with one another. Some decided that only those that went to their trade school were making toys the correct way and to prove it they increased the production of the toys to overwhelm the competition with numbers. In their minds the other little men became even smaller. Soon a machine was invented that spit out a toy in three easy steps. The toys each looked alike with the same plastic smile but being made of cheaper material they often didn’t withstand the rigors of play when the little men presented them to each other before placing them among the children of the field.
Babbo loved all the little toy makers whether they brought him a precious wooden toy or spent their time boasting about their plastic imitations. The story goes that he graciously continues to raise up little men with the hopes they will labor over the work, investing themselves in something that will please the master who loves them and reveal his love to the children of the field.
Last week we were privileged to be a part of the mission conference at Liberty Baptist Church in Las Vegas, NV. Throughout the week we felt genuinely loved as missionaries by the staff and we were overwhelmed by the generosity of the congregation. There are several things that stand out in my mind that made the week special – I would like to share one of them with you that involved my son…
We had the opportunity to pass out gospel tracts door-to-door on two separate occasions. As Isaiah took his place beside me after ringing the door bell at one particular house a middle-aged woman opened the door. I greeted her with, “Good morning, we’re from Liberty Baptist Church and we’re out meeting folks in the neighborhood.” She replied in an angry tone, “I don’t peddle religion at your door so don’t peddle your religion at mine.” I said, “Ma’am I’m not peddling religion, I just want to introduce people to Jesus Christ. If people don’t hear the gospel of Jesus Christ they’ll die and go to hell.” Her voice grew louder as she said, “There is no hell and there is no God. You’re messing up that little boy with what you’re doing.” Then she looked at Isaiah and said, “Young man, your father is brainwashing you and telling you lies. There is no hell and there is no God.” I said, “My son knows the Lord and he knows he is going to heaven. Have a good day.” I tried to keep my testimony but inwardly I was seething over what she had said to my son.
As we walked down the street towards the next house I told Isaiah I probably should have quoted a verse of scripture because there is power in the word of God. After a moment he broke the silence and said, “If we ever see that lady again I know what verse I’ll say. The Lord just put it on my heart.” I smiled at him and said, “We’ll I doubt you’ll get that opportunity today.” Little did I know what lay ahead.
About 15 minutes after our encounter with the woman a car pulled quickly up to the curb beside us. The driver asked us what church we were from so I told him. He then jumped out of the car and stood directly in front of me. He heatedly said, “Did you tell my wife she’s going to hell?” I said, “No. That’s not what I said nor is it how I would have said it.” He then called me a liar and said I had a lot of nerve to go around the neighborhood spewing my hate and telling people garbage they didn’t want to hear. Then in his furious diatribe he began using the foulest language imaginable. I told him not to use that language in front of my son but by this time he seemed like a man possessed and incapable of reason. My heart was racing, not out of fear, but more so out of the shock of the encounter. He then looked down at my seven year old son and said, “Your Dad is a liar. There is no #@!% God! There is no #@!% hell! You’re brain washed boy! Someday you’ll see he is lying to you and manipulating you!” At this point I looked down at Isaiah who would occasionally look up at the man and then back down at his own feet. Even though the man was still irate and loud he no longer had my attention. I reached out and touched my son’s shoulder. I wondered what he was thinking and I wanted to let him know everything was going to be okay. Isaiah then opened his mouth and quoted the following scripture to the devilish man that stood before us, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” The man continued to yell and Isaiah would stop quoting the verse and then restart due to the intensity of the situation but he eventually quoted the entire verse. The man then got in his car. I quoted Hebrews 9:27 and the man yelled out one more time, “There is no God and there is no hell!”
I was proud of my son. I was proud of my wife for having him memorize so many verses. I am thankful that from a child he has known the scriptures which are able to make him wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15). As we walked on down the sidewalk I thought of our Saviour in the wilderness as the Devil stood before him, He simply quoted scripture. There is power in the words of that Book!
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” – 3 John 1:4
The first week of May we spent some time in western New York. We are thankful for the wonderful meeting we had at Calvary Heights Baptist Church in Elma. Since we were in the area we decided to go to Canada and see Niagara Falls. One word came to mind as we looked at one of the most famous waterfalls on the planet: POWER.
Paul wrote in his epistle to the Romans that nature itself gives evidence of the “eternal power” of the Godhead (Rom. 1:20). The volume of water cascading over the falls is awe inspiring and caused me to consider the omnipotence of Almighty God.
“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” – Rev. 19:6
A.W. Tozer wrote in The Knowledge of the Holy, “Sovereignty and omnipotence must go together. One cannot exist without the other. To reign, God must have power, and to reign sovereignly, He must have all power. And that is what omnipotent means, having all power.”
Tozer goes on to say, “One cannot long read the Scriptures sympathetically without noticing the radical disparity between the outlook of men of the Bible and that of modern men. We are today suffering from a secularized mentality. Where the sacred writers saw God, we see the laws of nature. Their world was alive and personal; ours is impersonal and dead. God ruled their world; ours is ruled by the laws of nature and we are always once removed from the presence of God. Science observes how the power of God operates, discovers a regular pattern somewhere and fixes it as a ‘law.’ The uniformity of God’s activities in His creation enables the scientist to predict the course of natural phenomena. The trustworthiness of God’s behavior in His world is the foundation of all scientific truth. Religion, on the other hand, goes back of nature to God. It is concerned not with the footprints of God along the paths of creation, but with the One who treads those paths.”
Tozer then says, “Omnipotence is not a name given to the sum of all power, but an attribute of a personal God whom we Christians believe to be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of all who believe on Him to life eternal. The worshipping man finds this knowledge a source of wonderful strength for his inner life. His faith rises to take the great leap upward into the fellowship of Him who can do whatever He will to do, for whom nothing is hard or difficult because He possesses power absolute.”
Finally he concludes, “Since He has at His command all the power in the universe, the Lord God omnipotent can do anything as easily as anything else. All His acts are done without effort. He expends no energy that must be replenished. His self-sufficiency makes it unnecessary for Him to look outside of Himself for a renewal of strength. All the power required to do all that He wills to do lies in undiminished fullness in His own infinite being.”
To summarize his thoughts on God’s omnipotence, the puritan author Stephen Charnock wrote, “How should we adore that Power which can preserve us, when devils and men conspire to destroy us! How should we stand in awe of that Power which can destroy us, though angels and men should combine to preserve us!”
Now having considered the power of God, the words of Paul to the Corinthians arrest my attention in regards to personal evangelization…
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18).
The “power of God” is “the preaching of the cross.” When we preach Christ crucified and preach the crucified life, that is “the power of God.” The modern, fast food, microwave popcorn method of evangelism today is to quickly show the sinner three verses, get them to say a prayer and then tell them not to let anyone talk them out of their salvation. This method trusts in an arm of flesh wielding high-pressure sales tactics and manipulation rather than unleashing the power of God.
Another popular method of modern evangelism is to make the appeal through life enhancement: “You have a God-sized hole in your heart that only Jesus Christ can fill. He will give you peace, joy, love, fulfillment, and lasting happiness.” This method goes out of its way not to offend. I agree we should not try to be offensive in witnessing but the problem with this approach is that the cross is offensive rather we mean to be or not. The cross is not pleasant. It was an instrument of death. In order for a sinner to experience the power of God that resurrects their dead spirit and imparts to them eternal life they must first understand that they deserve death and hell. They must see the exceeding sinfulness of their sin and realize that Someone took the penalty for their sin on that cross. Genuine faith is claiming, willfully, God’s promises and is relying exclusively upon Christ’s work on the cross to be the sufficient payment for their sin. Lifestyle evangelism that sanitizes or glosses over the cross is powerless in bringing about “godly sorrow” which “worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of” (2 Cor. 7:10).
Modern evangelism no longer takes the time to teach the sinner about Jesus Christ so they know who they are calling upon. It doesn’t want to teach the sinner about sin and repentance so they know why they need to call upon the Lord. It doesn’t want to mention hell because that might offend them before they have a chance to call upon the Lord. It has adopted the way of those that “perish” and considers the preaching of the cross “foolishness.” Modern evangelism has exchanged the power of Niagara Falls for the trickle of a garden hose.