Tag Archives: belief

Salvation and the Church: The Apostles Were a Mixed Up Group

Today’s message summary of November 12, 2017 from Pastor Gus Brown:

Church is a place where we learn how to live for Jesus Christ.  It counters how people have learned to live according to the world’s standards.

A person will truly change not just because someone tells him to change.  The true change will come with the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit in that person’s life.

In understanding the word “apostle,” one first has to note that the word was never found in the Old Testament.  It was only presented when Jesus used the word.  It was a word used at sea concerning the ships that first went out.  The ships were “sent out” before the rest of the fleet.  Jesus applied this term to people.  If you take the example of the apostles, Jesus sent them out before the church even comes into existence.  He sent them out beforehand with a message.

Of the people that Jesus chose to be apostles, they were a mixed up group of people!

All but one of the disciples were from Galilee, which turned out to be a hotbed of activity and rebellion against the Romans.  Nazareth was within Galilee, where it was spoken, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46a)

There was a controversy with Jewish authority (a religious group).  Jesus was concerned about what was being taught within these groups.

The apostles witnessed miracles–things that no other person could do.  They may not have completely understood what they were seeing, but yet they witnessed them.  The miracles said something about Jesus, and that He was different from everyone else.

The apostles received private instruction–it was time alone with Jesus.

The apostles witnessed His resurrection.  They saw Him in His new body.

They were able to see things that no one else had seen.  In all of this, they could not even begin to explain all that they had witnessed to others.

Remember that Jesus was involved in two major ministries at that time (in the same way that today’s church is involved with these ministries today):

  1. Calling and training the twelve. (While there was emphasis on the twelve, there was other teaching and instruction that was taking place.)
  2. Healing and teaching in the community. (Jesus spoke to crowds of people and provided valuable wisdom and knowledge.)

The condition of our very society should be a flashpoint as to how the church is to respond, as the church is indeed the light for a dark world.

The church is to train people within its walls to be able to go out and execute Jesus’ Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), and that is to make disciples of other people–to win people to Jesus Christ and to bolster up and encourage other believers.

The apostles become Jesus’ traveling companions.

The disciples are those who receive Jesus’ teaching and even the direction of the apostles.

The community receives the teachings, and members of the community also go out in an effort to reach others.

Luke 10:1, 17

After this, the Lord appointed 70 others, and He sent them ahead of Him in pairs to every town and place where He Himself was about to go.

The Seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in Your name.”

The apostles were godly men who showed their sincerity by following Jesus; yet at the time of their calling, they were ignorant, narrow-minded, superstitious, and full of Jewish prejudices and misconceptions.

And yet, God calls these men.  They soon learn that Jesus taught them differently from what they had heard in the past.  Even though they were considered godly men, it was Jesus’ words that gave them the ability to look at their own hearts and minds.

The apostles were aware of their own Jewish traditions, but lacked understanding as to their true meaning and application.  They also had prejudice (Jews verses Gentiles, Samaritans) and superstition (ghosts).  This is a lot like many of us today.  Many people have ongoing misconceptions about what the church represents.

The apostles has much to unlearn of what was bad.

They had much to learn of what was good.

There were old beliefs that were incorrect that needed to be challenged in order to make room for new beliefs to be recognized and understood.

The greater number of disciples (70) were occasional followers.  The (12) apostles would be with Him most of the time.  They would become His traveling companions and His real ministry companions.  He was teaching them in order to be able to send them into the world.

Mark 3:13-15

Then He went up the mountain and summoned those He wanted, and they came to Him.  He also appointed 12He also named them apostlesto be with Him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.

Matthew 13:36

Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.”

Matthew 6:5

“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by the people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!”

Luke 11:1

He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.”

Godly men need to learn how to pray.

Matthew 5:1-2

When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.  Then He began to teach them…

Jesus is still teaching today if you find the time to be with Him.

Are you willing to learn?  Ask Him to teach you.

Do you desire to know more?  Ask Him for more.

Look at these men who Jesus selected (Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16)

  • Peter and Andrew were brothers (John 1:40-41; Matthew 4:18)
  • James and John were brothers who left their father (Matthew 4:21)
  • Matthew was a government tax collector
  • Thaddeus was known by three different names, including Jude
  • ..a zealot…a killer and hater of Romans
  • Judas was a deceiver and a thief
  • James, son of Alpheus, brother of Matthew
  • ..one who learns, spoke Greek
  • ..also known as Nathanael; was skeptical (John 1:45-49)
  • ..a doubter; was unsure (John 20:27)

Some of the brothers were bidding for a position within their role as apostles (who sits on the right hand of God or the left).  This mixed up group of people had to learn from Jesus what was really important.

John 13:34-35

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.  By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

John 8:31-32

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, you really are My disciples.  You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus can take anyone, regardless of their past, and transform a person to become a faithful servant of God.  Jesus just wants you to come.

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Following God’s Standards: Your Guts for His Glory!

A message dated July 9, 2017 from Melvin Gaines:

Many people regard the following passage of Scripture as an important belief, and they probably don’t even know it has biblical application:

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

How are they following this Scripture as a tenet?  Well, there is an ongoing emphasis of health and wellness today, and many people exercise on a regular basis and watch what—and how much—they eat for every meal each day.  There are virtually no arguments against following a healthy diet and living a healthy lifestyle.  Both promote a life of greater energy and endurance.  In order to live a healthy lifestyle, you have to make a firm commitment to do this in order to make it work.  This commitment for good health is setting a standard that is worth keeping.  Good health comes from following this healthy standard.

In order to recognize or acknowledge achievement, you need to a basic set of standards.  From those standards, you have a baseline for performance and expectations, and you can set personal goals to measure your progress.

We are often judged on our performance in many areas of our life.  It certainly has application as to how we perform as Christians—as believers and followers of Jesus Christ.  Our standards are already in place.  The Bible sets the standard, and there are expectations when it comes to the implementation of God’s Word throughout your life.

We must have standards.  Problems for us in life occur when we fail to recognize standards and baselines.  Failing to acknowledge these issues as a believer in Jesus Christ is tragic.  To know who Jesus Christ is and fail to make an effort to live for Jesus Christ is indeed an ongoing tragedy.  Scripture implores believers to stay after it, stay the course, fight the good fight, and I’ll add the words, “don’t give up” and “never give up.” To give up is to give in to Satan’s treachery.

Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Acts 20:24

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

2 Timothy 4:7

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

This attitude is a selflessness that means that you will not give in to the flesh or fear the fiery arrows of Satan’s attacks (Psalm 76:3; Ephesians 6:16). Being a believer means trusting in the One who overcomes this opposition.  The shield of faith stops the fiery arrows of the devil.

We can’t give up.

We cannot compromise on God’s standard.

God’s standard requires reverence for who He is.

As we learn more about who He is, we recognize that we must live by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

As it is stated in 2 Timothy 4:7, we must KEEP THE FAITH.

For those who don’t know Jesus Christ, failure to acknowledge Him as Lord is nothing short of catastrophic.  It requires a baseline that means you need a Savior, you need forgiveness, and that you desire freedom.

John 8:34b-36 CSB

Truly I tell you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. A slave does not remain in the household forever, but a son does remain forever. So if the Son sets you free, you really will be free.

Once you become a believer, you now have a new set of standards.  You have transformed yourself from being dead in Christ to being alive in Christ.  A new set of standards sets up your progression in Christ and for Christ—but you have to accept and follow those standards.

Without standards, baselines, or whatever you want to call them, there will be no progress…no measurement…no achievement…no success.

Jesus Christ tells us that He is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30), and He refers to Himself in this way because being a Christian today can be very, very difficult.  His standards are clear for us, but the flesh makes our efforts to follow them much more difficult.  In our own efforts, His standards and baselines for achievement are virtually impossible, and that’s because it is not our effort that garners blessings from God nearly as much as it is our faith in Him.  Our desire to live according to his standards requires faith.

Hebrews 11:6 NIV

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Without faith, there cannot be a standard with which we can achieve, grow and excel, because it is not your own achievements, success or accolades that come from serving God—it is because He enables you to be successful!  Your success is His success!

He is glorified when we stand in the gap before Him (Ezekiel 22:30).

He is glorified when we reach out to those who are less fortunate (Deuteronomy 15:11)!

He is glorified when we maintain a lifestyle that honors Him!

He is glorified when we abstain from sex before marriage!

He is glorified when we take a stand for Him!

Jesus Christ wants to see your success as you remain faithful to Him.  He provides the standards, and He helps you with setting your goals and expectations.

Why do we need goals and expectations as believers?  Because we need to find ways to measure our progress.  Progress with what?  Being an effective disciple for Jesus Christ?  Is that a good measurement?  It certainly is.

After Jesus Christ spent time with His disciples, He turned them loose on the world and told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel.  This was after months of training, counseling and personal reflection.  This training established His standard for living.

When it comes to your personal study and preparation, your personal relationship with Jesus Christ means everything in your success.  He enables you, in the power of the Holy Spirit, to be successful in your efforts to live according to His standards.  Your success means that Jesus Christ will be glorified.

As a reminder—our success does not mean perfection.  Our success is defined by being able to run the race and keeping the faith.  Note that the disciples, and everyone before them and after them, had failures.  Failures happen within the midst of our efforts to strive for success.  Our failures do not define us.  Our success is what people see when we fight the good fight and keep the faith!  Our failures move us to prayer and seeking after Him for forgiveness and mercy.  Our desire for success, and meeting His standards for living, drive us to move forward.

This may come across as something like a motivational speech…and it does…but there is one important difference between this and any other motivational speech.  Most speeches put the focus on yourself and yourself alone in trying to rise above adversity and achieving at a high level.  This message centers on your success BECAUSE of your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, and that your success means that He will be glorified, and not yourself.

Your living in His IMAGE, making a PACT with Jesus Christ, and working in the body of Christ with FOCUS will make a difference in a world that is constantly searching for meaning.

Jesus Christ will be glorified.  It has happened in the past, and it happens today and every day, and it will happen in the future.  It is happening because someone is living according to the standards that He has put forth in His Word.  Someone is standing in the gap.  Someone is reaching out to those less fortunate.  Someone is making the commitment, in spite of opposition or temptation or ridicule, to live a lifestyle that honors Jesus Christ.

Will that someone be you?

Will you be the one that stands in the gap and upholds His standards?

Your study, your prayers, and your reverence for Jesus Christ reflect your commitment to Him.

It takes guts to live for Jesus Christ.

Your guts for His glory.

If you don’t think you have given as much as you can to uphold God’s standards, won’t you make that commitment today?


In Spirit and in Truth

Today’s message summary from Pastor Gus Brown:

The reality of life for many people today is that they need The Lord in their lives. In the wake of tragedies that may occur, believers are to be the servants of God with our influence by showing love and compassion to those who are in need. Jesus can change the life of others, and He can change an entire community. Believers are to be the light of the world and the example for others in our practice.

In our living, believers are to live in truth. God will make each of us face the truth, and for some, it takes a while to come to understand the truth. As Christians, we need to face the reality that we are to live and worship Him in spirit and in truth. We are called to be the saints that glorify Him, and yet there are times when we hurt Him because we deny what is true and live in sin.

To God, it is not where we worship Him but rather the attitude in how we approach God–recognizing that we are operating in His presence.

John 4:19-26
19 “Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, yet you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”

21 Jesus told her, “Believe Me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”

25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will explain everything to us.”

26 “I am He,” Jesus told her, “the One speaking to you.”

Remember that Samarians were not worshiping God in the same place as the Jews. God wants each of us to know that He wants us to worship in spirit and in truth and that it is not about where one worships–it is more a matter of the heart of the person.

Do we really believe the Bible is trustworthy and reliable when speaking on the subject of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? God is the one that reveals this information to us.

1. Misbelief causes emotional turmoil
2. Misbelief causes destructive behavior

To believe requires a commitment. It is more than just love by itself to believe.

Many of us will convince ourselves with self-talk. Are you telling the truth or are you lying to yourself? What we will convince ourselves to conclude will set a course for us to follow, and many times it’s not very good.

I am a failure and no good.
I am lonely and miserable.
“I know this is wrong, but God will forgive me!” (the question that should be asked is what are the consequences).
God’s Word is outdated. It’s old, and not for today.

Proverbs 16:2
All a man’s ways seem right to him,
but the Lord evaluates the motives.

2 Corinthians 10:5
…and every high-minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ.

1 John 4:1
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Leviticus 10:1-3, 8-11
10 Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu each took his own firepan, put fire in it, placed incense on it, and presented unauthorized fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them to do. 2 Then fire came from the Lord and burned them to death before the Lord. 3 So Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when He said:

I will show My holiness
to those who are near Me,
and I will reveal My glory
before all the people.”

But Aaron remained silent.

8 The Lord spoke to Aaron: 9 “You and your sons are not to drink wine or beer when you enter the tent of meeting, or else you will die; this is a permanent statute throughout your generations. 10 You must distinguish between the holy and the common, and the clean and the unclean, 11 and teach the Israelites all the statutes that the Lord has given to them through Moses.”

It is not where we worship by how we are to worship Him. We are to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

In spirit (your spirit is alive–the Holy Spirit enables your spirit):

Romans 8:9-10
9 You, however, are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God lives in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 Now if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.

If one does not have the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit), he or she is not born again. We must be born again to make a testimony through our own spirit (not our soul or our body).

Romans 8:16
The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children.

To testify is to substantiate a fact; to bear witness or give evidence; affirm, declare. In order to make a testimony of worship of God, faith is required.

Hebrews 11:6
Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

James 1:6
But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind.

John 14:21
The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He gives us the truth that we need to live and to worship God for who He is in His character–a holy and righteous God.

John 16:13-14
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak whatever He hears. He will also declare to you what is to come. 14 He will glorify Me, because He will take from what is Mine and declare it to you.

The Spirit of God teaches your spirit so you may worship in your spirit the one true God. The Spirit reveals who God is to you in order that you can truly worship Him.

Worship in truth is the opposite of worship in ignorance or not knowing how to worship.

We learn the truth about God and the truth about who we are.

1 Peter 1:16
…for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

1 Timothy 2:8
Therefore, I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or argument.

Romans 3:23
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Truth is God being faithful to His Word.

Hebrews 10:22
…let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.

We are to be clean and washed before Him.

Exodus 30:18-19
18 “Make a bronze basin for washing and a bronze stand for it. Set it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. 19 Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet from the basin.

John 15:3
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

1 John 1:9-10
9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.

We need to face the truth about ourselves:
You can’t run a four-minute mile.
You can’t hit the ball out of the park.
You can’t be a charismatic speaker.

(It does not mean you can’t work to achieve things–the point is to seek God in everything that you do and deal with what is true in your life.)

Be an investigator of your own life. Examine yourself. Search for truth about your situations in life that you may not want to accept.

Psalm 119:59
I thought about my ways
and turned my steps back to Your decrees.

Ephesians 4:1
Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received.

Philippians 3:6
…regarding zeal, persecuting the church; regarding the righteousness that is in the law, blameless.

1 Thessalonians 4:7
For God has not called us to impurity but to sanctification.


Sunday School Today: Witnessing to the Nation of Islam

Our Summer Sunday school session on the study of Christianity, Religions & Cults involves the comparative study of Christianity and its foundational principles to some of the world’s more popular religious organizations.  While knowing the principles of each, it is just as important to know how to witness to those persons who are members of a different religion as to the benefits of Christianity.  Today’s lesson was based upon a reprint of an article from the Winter 1998 issue of the Christian Research Journal.

EFFECTIVE EVANGELISM

Witnessing to the Nation of Islam

by Jerry L. Buckner

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan called for the Million Man March to take place in Washington, D.C., on October 16, 1995, and black men across America responded. The response was so enthusiastic that not even the march on Washington by the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., surpassed the crowds that Farrakhan was able to bring together. Why was the Million Man March so effective? Many saw it as a way the black community could stand together. Moreover, it encouraged black males to stand up and be men in their homes and communities.

The official membership of the Nation of Islam has been estimated to be between 19,000 and 30,000. Others have said they have 60,000 across America. Whatever the case, they have far more influence than their numbers would indicate, as the Million Man March demonstrated.

The Nation of Islam represents a serious threat to the Christian community. The growing presence of the Nation of Islam and their attacks on essential Christian doctrines make it difficult to continue ignoring them. The black church must awake to the challenge. There have been two problems the black church has faced in rising to this challenge: (1) the lack of evangelism in fulfilling its role to the community and (2) the lack of biblical discipleship for church members.

Meanwhile, members of the Nation of Islam have proven themselves to be highly motivated and successful in their outreach efforts in the community. Not only are they encouraging young black males to join the Nation of Islam, but they are also recruiting them from our churches. In addition, they have a strong presence in the jails and prisons. This was how Malcolm X and Mike Tyson were recruited. They are out in the community and on the streets training young black males in their peculiar version of Islam. Should we be afraid of the Islamic threat? No, but we should embrace this opportunity to sharpen our beliefs and strengthen our witness.

BASIC BELIEFS

Many African-Americans, including some Christians, regard the Nation of Islam as a Christian organization that is a positive motivating factor in the black community. A review of their basic beliefs, however, will demonstrate that the Nation of Islam is one of the fastest-growing American cults.

The whole basis of the beliefs or theology of the Nation of Islam is an attempt to answer two major questions: (1) “Who are we as a people?” and (2) “What is sin?” The Nation of Islam denies the essentials of the historic Christian faith. The following list of beliefs includes excerpts from the Nation of Islam’s own writings.

Polytheism. The Nation of Islam is a polytheistic religion. Several references in their literature point to a belief in many gods, and there is reference to a council of 24 scientist-gods who write history. One of them acts as God, while the others do the work of getting the future together for the Nation. Black men are themselves referred to as being gods. “You [the black man] are walking around looking for a God to bow to and worship. You are the God!”1

The Gods Are Not Eternal. According to the Nation of Islam, although the spirit of Allah (God) lives on, the gods are not eternal. “We all know that there was a God in the beginning that created all these things and do know that He does not exist today.”2

God Is a Man. They teach that Allah “came to us from the Holy City of Mecca, Arabia, in 1930. He used the name of Wallace D. Fard.”3 “God is a man and we just cannot make Him other than man, lest we make Him an inferior one; for man’s intelligence has no equal in other than man.”4

“Yakub Myth.” A basic teaching in their belief system is the “Yakub myth.” Yakub was one of the council of 24 black scientist-gods. He rebelled against Allah and the council, causing havoc. He created the white race as a race of devils to strike back at the black race. Elijah Muhammad said that black people are not sinners, but that the white man is at fault for their problems.

The Trinity. The Nation of Islam denies the Trinity. “The Christians refer to God as a ‘Mystery’ and a ‘Spirit’ and divide Him into thirds. One part they call the Father, another part the Son, and the third part they call the Holy Ghost — which makes the three, one. This is contrary to both nature and mathematics. The law of mathematics will not allow us to put three into one.”5 “Making the Son and the Holy Ghost the equal with the Father is absolutely sinful.”6

Deity of Christ. The Nation of Islam rejects the essential Christian doctrine that Jesus is both God and man. Jesus “did not consider himself to be God or a son of God or equal of Him….Jesus was only a man and prophet of Allah.”7 In a four-hour videotape of Louis Farrakhan’s 1994 Easter Service, “The Crucifixion of Jesus: The Imprisonment of Minister Farrakhan,” Farrakhan discusses the crucifixion and relates it to himself, saying, “I am hanging on the cross right now. I’m on Calvary right now and the more I suffer, the more our people are raised to consciousness….you don’t have to look for Jesus. I represent him. I was born to die for you and I love the thought of dying for you.”8

The Holy Spirit. The Nation of Islam denies that the Holy Spirit is God. They view the Spirit as a “spook.”

The so-called Negroes think of God in terms of something without form (spirit or spook) and they believe that His throne is somewhere in the sky….The teachings of Christianity have put God out of Man into nothing (spirit). Can you imagine God without form but yet interested in our affairs who are the human beings? What glory would an immaterial God get out of a material world? We also learn that a spirit is not self-independent; it is dependent upon air, water and food. Without it, the spirit can have no life. So how can a spirit be God?9

The Bible. Although they do make use of it when it does not contradict their own teachings, the Nation of Islam believes the Bible has been tampered with by the white man. “The Bible is now being called the Poison Book by God Himself, and who can deny that it is not poison?…the Book can’t be recognized as the pure and Holy Word of God.”10

Atonement and Salvation. The Nation of Islam rejects the essential Christian doctrines of atonement and salvation. “We know we have a Savior. In 1877 a Savior was born [i.e., Wallace Fard]….A Savior is born, not to save the Jews but to save the poor Negro….A Savior has come to save you from sin, not because you are by nature a sinner but because you have followed a sinner.”11

The Human Race. As we’ve seen, the Nation of Islam teaches a racist doctrine that the black race is divine and righteous by nature. They were the creators of the universe, and they are taught they are black gods.

Heaven and Hell. Members of the Nation of Islam do not believe in the hereafter, whether it be heaven or hell. “I have no alternative than to tell you that there is not any life beyond the grave. There is no justice in the sweet bye and bye. Immortality is NOW, HERE.”12 To the Nation of Islam, heaven and hell are regarded as special conditions here on earth now, not as special places to go after death. “The Christians say, ‘Confess the Lord Jesus Christ or you (who are other than the Christians) will burn in hell forever.’ That hell must not be so hot that one can burn in it forever and never burn up.”13

The Nation of Islam teaches other anti-Christian doctrines besides those that have been cited above. But the examples we have considered are certainly among the most significant and should be sufficient to acquaint you with their theology.

WITNESSING TO THE NATION OF ISLAM

African-American Christians and white Christians have different responsibilities in witnessing to the Nation of Islam. Much can be learned from the Nation of Islam itself. If the church can learn the things that attract people to the Nation of Islam, then they will be better able to witness to those in the group. The success of the Nation of Islam is not so much due to what the they are doing but to what the church has failed to do.

The Responsibility of Black Churches. The black church today has been passive and impotent in addressing racism as a sin. The church must address racism in the black community; if this is not done, then many black youths will be lost to the Nation of Islam. The reason why the Nation of Islam is extremely appealing to black men is because they address white racism and have a leader, Louis Farrakhan, who boldly defends black racism. The church must address these issues.

The church must develop a strong presence not only in the black community, but also in the jails and prisons — especially ministering to young black men. Jesus warned, “I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me” (Matt. 25:43, NIV).

The church must develop economic empowerment programs for the community. The Nation of Islam has a strong economic base and is very good at providing for the have-nots in our society. They have designed a system of economic education and empowerment for the black community. The church can do more than the Nation of Islam in this area, if Christians all work together. The church can develop economic education programs that will have a dynamic effect on the black community.

The church needs to be involved in the communities and clean them up. The Nation of Islam emphasizes eating better, avoiding drugs, alcohol, and smoking. They work on cleaning up the ghettos and slums by getting rid of drug pushers, prostitutes, and other negative elements in the community. The church can also do these things and more.

The Nation of Islam emphasizes a strong family structure — including fatherhood and black manhood. The church needs to provide mentorship and strong surrogate fatherhood to young black men who are without a good male role model. The church can have Christian black males work with young black males in the community in the areas of developing friendships, providing information, or obtaining jobs while helping them with housing and assisting with their educational activities or endeavors. The church needs to have more youth activities. Much can be done to get youth in the community excited about Christian activities.

The Responsibility of White Churches. It is very difficult for white Christians to approach members of the Nation of Islam in an evangelistic way. This is true because of all of the racism that has taken place. As a reaction to white racism, black racism took form. The Nation of Islam’s emergence was a direct response to racism. Nevertheless, even though it is difficult to approach a member of the Nation of Islam, there are things white Christians can do.

White Christians need to take an aggressive stance against racism in America. They need to join hands with the black church to fight against any form of racism, because it is a sin. They need to strategically join together in an evangelistic reconciliation, a Christlike endeavor, in order to break down the barriers of racism. They need to worship together — a black church coming together with a white church, even exchanging pulpits. They can join hands as co-laborers to reach people in the inner cities. The white pastor can preach sermons from the pulpit against racism. Every person who comes to the local church must be received with open arms, no matter what color he or she is.

The white church needs to work with the black church in developing partnerships around mentorship and surrogate fatherhood to black males in the urban cities. One pilot project in Houston serves as an example of successful mentorship. Several white suburban churches joined some urban black churches in an effort to do something about crime in the black community. Their idea was in direct correlation to the fact that most crimes in the black community were committed by young black males who lacked a positive male role model in their lives. The churches provided substitute fathers for many of the fatherless black youths in the city. Results were astounding. Crimes committed by blacks, especially black youths, dropped dramatically. Having a father image made a significant impact upon these black youths.

One thing is certain: We need to develop an agenda for reaching the black community.

Don’ts of Witnessing to the Nation of Islam. Don’t try to convince them to get saved through your own strength. Trust the Holy Spirit to convince them to believe in Jesus. If God could save the apostle Paul, He can also save Louis Farrakhan and members of the Nation of Islam.

Don’t become hostile with the members of the Nation of Islam. They are not enemies to be conquered. They are fellow human beings for whom Christ died on the cross.

Don’t overwhelm them with Scripture. They will not listen if they are overwhelmed.

Don’t use a King James Bible because, according to some Muslims, King James himself translated this version and corrupted it. I recommend using the New International Version or the New American Standard Version in witnessing to them. Don’t use a Bible in which you have written notes or made marks. This indicates disrespect for the Word of God to members of the Nation of Islam.

Avoid all pictures of God, Jesus, or other biblical personalities as white with blue eyes and blond hair.

Don’t use the word “Trinity” because this word often connotes the worship of three gods to the Nation of Islam. You can let them know from the Scriptures that God is indeed one Being, and this one Being exists eternally as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — three persons.

In dealing with the members of the Nation of Islam, remove all offenses except the cross. They view Christian symbols as offensive.

Do’s of Witnessing to the Nation of Islam. Remember your greatest weapon in witnessing is prayer. This is true when witnessing to any cultic group.

Learn to demonstrate love and patience when witnessing. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35, NIV).

Know what you believe and why you believe it regarding the essentials of the historic Christian faith before you even begin witnessing. Know the original even before beginning to attempt to learn about the counterfeit.

All Muslim groups are different. Know which Black Muslim group you are witnessing to. Share the uniqueness of Jesus Christ as God manifested in the flesh with the Nation of Islam members. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life: No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NIV). Remind those in the Nation of Islam that according to the Koran, “No true prophet of God can lie.” If that’s true, since they believe that Jesus is a prophet of God, then Jesus told the truth about being the only truth and way to God.

Let the Nation of Islam members know that true righteousness doesn’t come through man’s so-called righteousness, but through the righteousness of Christ’s perfect life imputed as a free gift to those who believe.

Elijah Muhammad told his followers, “The greatest hindrance to the truth of our people [members of the Nation of Islam] is the preacher of Christianity.”14 My message to you is, Keep on being a hindrance and telling them what is right. Be encouraged! There are many who have come out of the Nation of Islam to become strong Christians in the church.

Dr. Jerry L. Buckner has degrees from California Baptist College, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He is a pastor, counselor, lecturer, and the host of the Contending for the Faith radio broadcast on KFAX AM 1100 in the San Francisco Bay Area.

NOTES

1Elijah Muhammad, Our Savior Has Arrived (Newport News, VA: United Brothers Communications, n.d.), 35.
2Elijah Muhammad, Message to the Blackman in America (Philadelphia: House of Knowledge Publications, 1965), 9.
3Elijah Muhammad, The Supreme Wisdom, vol. 1 (Newport News, VA.: The National Newport News and Commentator, 1957), 11.
4Muhammad, Message, 6.
5Muhammad, Message, 1.
6Muhammad, Our Savior, 152.
7Elijah Muhammad, The Supreme Wisdom, vol 2 (Hampton, VA: U.B. & U.S. Communications, n.d.), 80.
8Videotape of 3 April 1994 Easter message by Louis Farrakhan delivered at Mosque Maryam, Chicago, Illinois, entitled, “The Crucifixion of Jesus: The Imprisonment of Minister Farrakhan.”
9Muhammad, Supreme Wisdom, vol. 2, 9-10.
10Muhammad, Message, 94.
11Ibid., 237.
12Ibid., 219.
13Muhammad, Supreme Wisdom, vol. 2, 42.
14Muhammad, Message, 18.

The Christian Research Journalis a publication of the Christian Research Institute, PO Box 7000, Rancho Santa Marguarita CA 92688; Phone 949.858.6100.


God’s Word: Truth For The Believer

The Word of God has power in the life of the person who hears God speak and understands the importance of His Word. The person who truly hears His Word knows that it comes from the authority of Almighty God. The words are already powerful and meaningful, but the hearer must believe it for it to have merit. Does the hearer really believe that God’s Word does what it says. One who attends church that does not carry a Bible is missing out on how God is speaking to that person. We experience God with our choice to follow His Word and believe in it. All of the intersections that have stop signs have something more behind them than just directing people to stop before proceeding with care. Our legal system stands behind the stop sign as the authority. In the same way, God stands behind God’s Word as the Supreme Authority. As Christians, we live in total dependence upon God’s Word. The world gives us confusion and conflicting message; in contrast, God’s Word, through the Bible, provides clarity in a fallen world. The Word is to influence us and give us direction to live a life for Christ. Nothing else is to have a greater importance. It should cause us to ponder and think deeply about what we do or what we get ourselves involved with. The Word will not profit those who do not take it to heart. If one is not willing to obey it, it will not work. It requires the faith of the hearer of God’s Word to trust that God’s Word is true in his or her life. It requires a sincerity of the hearer that one wants to know more (Romans 10:17). The hearing of God’s Word should have a value. It will have more of a value than entertainment or just hearing a good speech (Hebrews 4:1-6; John 12:48-50). Disobedience of God’s Word reflects on how one chooses not to value God’s Word. Our lack of faith and trust will not allow us to rest. God does not bless the sinner, though he is merciful to the sinner. A sinner makes the choice to not believe in His Word and trust In Him. God knows that it is not natural for us to activate our faith in His Word. He has to enable us to do so. We still have to choose, however, to believe in Him. Our faith in His Word and our trust that it is true gives us true rest that God is faithful to His Word. True faith is stepping out and acting on it (Matthew 14:29). When God speaks and we respond to Him, He does not let us down. He meets us where we are. This is more than just about salvation or being saved by grace. The believer in Christ now also grows as his or her understanding of God’s Word increases. Trusting in the speaker of God’s Word is not the same as Trusting in God’s Word. We are to trust in no man (Romans 3:4) but trust only in His Word. God’s Word has a power that goes far beyond what man can do (Jeremiah 23:29). It cuts us and tears us down, but it also has healing power (Hosea 6:1-7). It can radically change your life and gives you the confidence of God rather than confidence in our own abilities. The Holy Spirit, with your trust of God’s Word, gives you the ability to live a life of richness in Jesus Christ (John 6:63). Do not be like those that originally followed Christ in His ministry but then left Him because they could no longer accept His teaching (John 6:66-67). Either God’s Word is completely true or it is all a lie. Our belief in His Word acknowledges Him for who he is. “If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love” (John 15:10). When we acknowledge God through His Word, you are giving Him recognition who He is in how you live your life. His wisdom will operate within you and it will be seen by others. The Word of God replenishes our soul, refreshes our faith and our trust in Him, and it gives us rest, victory, and prosperity in Jesus Christ–if we only truly believe it has value for us. We pray for the wisdom and understanding as we seek Him through His Word that we recognize its value.