The Courage to Love
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exclusionsmall“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-10, NIV

The problem of how the church should relate to the world has existed from the beginning and has continuously struggled for resolution. Two conflicting viewpoints are illustrative regarding this tension. On the one hand, the world can be seen as intrinsically evil and therefore to be avoided at all costs. This may be interpreted as avoiding all intercourse with those who are not included in the elite fellowship of the “saved.” This can be seen in a passive form when we see church members who, perhaps not deliberately, have only fellow church members in their circle of friends. Other passive segregations might occur when a person only engages in church related activities. These individuals are often the most appreciative of a church that has a full social calendar with many opportunities to bury themselves in a never-ending round of social and volunteer engagements each year.

More aggressive forms of segregation are sometimes seen in calls to only patronize “Christian” businesses, maybe even restricting doing business selectively to those of one’s own denomination. Aggressive segregators may openly attack other Christians who see things differently, chastising them for joining with non-Christians in holiday celebrations, attending secular entertainment venues, or even observing or participating in competitive athletic events. Some of the more extreme segregators may even advocate for the exclusion of such “compromising” individuals from church fellowship altogether.

In contrast to this worldview, we find others who see the world as a fertile field with crops that need harvesting. (See Luke 10:2) These individuals, far from segregating themselves from contact with the world, wade right out into those murky waters, sometimes chest deep, looking for every opportunity to let their light shine where those needing to find the Lighthouse can see it. If the lost are chasing Easter bunnies or hanging up Christmas stockings, these Christians will be right there with them, using the opportunities to share about the Resurrection or the Nativity. If the lost are enjoying a new hit song on their music player, these Christians will be right there enjoying it with them, perhaps sharing a hit by Casting Crowns or The Newsboys or inviting them to a contemporary Christian concert. Many of us have even seen some of this type of Christian at sporting events holding up signs that say “John 3:16.”  In short, they are quick to seize every opportunity to let their light shine. Like Paul counseled Timothy, they seek to “Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season…” 2 Timothy 4:2, NIV

However, even Paul struggled with the tension between these two world views. Paul was raised a Pharisee. (See Acts 23:6) As such, he inherited much of their segregationist world view. Pharisees tended to focus on those things that placed a wall of separation between God’s people and the rest of the world. (See Acts 15:5) We can see this in some of Paul’s harsher statements regarding women, sinners, and those who disagreed with him. (See 1 Corinthians 11:5-6, 1 Corinthians 5:5, and Galatians 5:12) But Paul was also a Pharisee in transition. He struggled mightily to develop an inclusive theology that went beyond anything he would have learned as a Pharisee. In his second epistle to the Corinthians, he was very concerned that he might have gone too far in what he had written in 1 Corinthians 5:5. He grew beyond the stark black and white of the Pharisees exclusiveness and judgmentalism and began to lay a solid foundation for an inclusive theology. The same Paul who made such harsh statements about others also wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28, NIV

These two world views often result in two very different theologies. The exclusive view sees God as impotent to protect and save His people. He is the God of the church and not the world. They perhaps feel that as long as one remains within the confines of safe fellowship, God will protect them. However, should they stray from that segregated community, their safety is forfeit and God will abandon them to whatever unknown agent of the Devil is lurking without. This limited concept of God is often seen in history even among those who do not worship Him. When the armies of Damascus under Ben-Hadad attacked King Ahab in Samaria and were defeated, they felt it was because the God of the Jews was a hill god. They attacked again in the plain. Of course their limited view of God’s power was erroneous, and they were defeated there as well.

This limited view of God’s abilities has no room for a God who accompanies us through the “valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23:4) Instead, this theology would have asked King David, “What are you doing in that valley in the first place?” This theology might believe that angels will not accompany a soul into a movie theatre or, even worse, a tavern. A logical outcome of this way of thinking might be that if the angels abandon souls to these places, who are we to do otherwise? Besides, we will probably be lost ourselves since God has a limited ability to protect us.

An alternative theology based on the inclusive world view sees God’s ability and power as limitless to protect His saints. They see a God who even gives them special spiritual protection to accomplish the work of reaching the lost. (See Ephesians 6) They see a God who can give a small boy on the enemy’s ground the power to bring down giants that would destroy him. (See 1 Samuel 17) When David brought down Goliath with a stone, he courageously rushed onto the battlefield knowing that God was in charge. Those who have this theology can go after souls even on Satan’s battlefield knowing that God is well able to protect them and grant victory.

Some might ask, “Why go into such places? Why can’t we just let our light shine out from the church and draw people there?” Perhaps it is like the quote often attributed to Willie Sutton, the famous bank robber. As the saw goes, when he was asked why he robbed banks, he replied “Because that’s where the money is.” Perhaps the reason to venture out from the church onto dangerous ground is because that’s where the lost souls are. Some might feel that this is a “new” theology, but it is not.

When Moses was safe in Midian, God called him to go back to Egypt and brave all the dangers there to free the Israelites. He could have told God that he would build a sanctuary in Midian and any who escaped from Egypt would find safety there. But it was not God’s purpose to save a few who might escape on their own. He wanted to offer freedom to everyone enslaved and oppressed. There was no other way to do this than to go where the slaves were. Surely, Moses knew that Pharaoh might want to take his life, but he had come to understand that God’s ability to protect is limitless. For that reason, he could stand on the shore of the sea with a panicked multitude and Pharaoh’s army bearing down upon them and say to the trembling crowd, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14, NIV

Perhaps Christianity often has more form than power because they have lost sight of God’s willingness and ability to protect them. While we may have become more interested in keeping the house clean than in going out into the dirt and mire of the world, have we forgotten that cleanliness depends on God’s gift and not our constant scrubbing and dusting? God’s cleansing can happen only within our hearts, no matter how pristine we may make things appear to be on the surface. Since God is ready and willing to cleanse us, we should not fear exposure to the dirt we find “out there.” It should not be an excuse to remain uninvolved.

The 19th century theologian William Shedd once stated “Ships are safe in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are made for.” We might also say that Christians may feel they are safe within the fellowship of the church, but that’s not what Christians are made for. We must abandon the safe harbor and go forth in search of souls hungry for salvation. If we become a little soiled as we seek the lost, that dirt should lead us to our knees for cleansing. Just like a ship gathers barnacles and must come into dry dock from time to time to have its hull scraped clean, we will need to come to God from time to time to get our hulls scraped as well. But when we do, the Shipmaster will be smiling and saying “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:21, NIV

 

Scripture marked (NIV) taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission. NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® and NIV® are registered trademarks of Biblica, Inc. Use of either trademark for the offering of goods or services requires the prior written consent of Biblica US, Inc.

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The Courage to Love — 44 Comments

  1. What inspiration in these words, the tension between these groups of different views is so evident in church today. The one that is not afraid to be found outside the safe harbor of church is constantly faced with the criticism of compromising while the other group is viewed as the unbending guardian at the gates that choke out every opportunity to new witness. Lord help us to each walk the path He has called us to.

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    • Yes, there certainly is tension over this issue but I don't see it as altogether bad. I think there is a problem when there is no tension at all where such a condition might be evidence of a lethargically complacent church that never questions anything. The model of a good church seems to be the one at Berea. For, "they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11 NKJV). Even before the Jerusalem council, "Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them" (Acts 15:2 NKJV), that is with the Jews from Judea and again at the council where, "there had been much dispute" (Acts 15:7 NKJV).

      So I believe there can be a healthy amount of tension within the church. The problem comes when it becomes personal and anger rises rather than trying to arrive at truth on a theological basis.

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      • I didn't really sense much tension at all actually. I felt various people were cooperatively contributing the pieces of truth that they know and slowly we are coming to a consensus for the most part, and I see that as very good. There may be some tense comments I missed. I don't think I've read them all. This has been an extremely enlightening discussion and I've learned from the various view points.

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  2. Thank you sir.
    Loving is a risky thing today as people are so dangerously hard to deal with. You try to give someone a night dinner then they target you for a robbery, try giving them a place to sleep and you now you are in trouble. Christ came all the way down here in the belly of hell to save us I think that was a great risk and if I must follow him I MUST BE WILLING TO TAKE A RISK FOR SOULS TOO.

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  3. I love sharing the love of Jesus and this blog have encouraged me to keep fighting to win souls to Christ no matter how hopeless it may appear. May God continue to bless your ministry.

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  4. We might also say that Christians may feel they are safe within the fellowship of the church, but that’s not what Christians are made for. We must abandon the safe harbor and go forth in search of souls hungry for salvation....

    Yes Sir! Amen!

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  5. Thank you for this post. One thing I've noticed since coming back into the fold, is that "PRINCIPLE" is not taught anymore. As a child, learning the principle behind the teachings made the directives a whole lot easier to follow. Your post takes me back to the Principle of Purpose. It doesn't matter where you go, as long as you are there in God's purpose. Some Christians are deathly afraid of some "Inner Cities", however if my God directs you to a soul that needs His love thru You, we should not be afraid because we are there with "Purpose". I don't know of anywhere I won't go, if I'm sent by God with Purpose. Remember though, God does not send us all to the same places, so it would behoove you to make sure you have purpose and not just going to be there!
    One lady told the story that she owned a tavern and the Adventist's came in for Ingathering. She asked how much did they want and the gentleman told her $5 or $10, so she gave him $10. What they didn't know was that she was studying her Bible (on her own) and she had been convicted of Tithing, some 10 yrs prior. She had a box under the bar that she had been putting her tithe in all those years. She didn't know what to do with it, so when church groups would venture in for donations, she gave them whatever they asked for. Finally a Saint came in "out of the blue" and offered her Bible Studies. She joined the SDA church and was one of my Grandmother's BFF's.

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      • I have really been blessed to read these comments. I see a Spirit-directed SS lesson.
        @Kyndahl. Thank you for wording that so clearly and neutrally. I know a similar story. My friend Eola once went into a casino with another women to colporteur. She sold a man a book and never thought more of it until a few years later she was attending a seminar put on my a well-known evangelist. He told the story of how God had sent someone to sell him a book while inside the gambling center. He said that book changed his life and now he had won many souls for Christ. He wished he could have thanked that women but thought he would have to wait until Heaven to do so. Little did he know that women was sitting in on his lecture. She could hardly beleive. The evangelist, met the one who evangelized him. Principle not outward appearance. Yet another reason we cannot judge our brother for any reason...

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  6. Yes, you all have powerful statement. The church is a war zone and we are christian soldiers marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before. We must take chances to save souls.

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  7. Excellent article Stephen. I am reminded of someone pointing out, when Jesus said "you are the salt of the earth" (Matthew 5:13) that in order for the salt to do the food any good it has to mix in with the food. For Christians to be the salt of the earth we have to mix with people in the same way and purpose that Jesus did.

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  8. "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, Luke 4:18.

    I LOVE IT. KEEP ON PREACHIN THE WORD!!!!! Update from one of your earlier post that I paraphased to my nephew and his friend they are now seeking baptism and planning to get married. God is GREAT and worthy to be praised. AMEN!!

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  9. Thanks brethren for all the insights and may the Lord of the harvest continue to bless you and the Spirit continue to lead you into all truth. I have a query on whether or not the Angels of the Lord leave you when you enter places like Pubs, Casinos, etc. when you are or not on God's errands?

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    • Good question, Mada. Perhaps the Bible answers that question best: "... for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee." Hebrews 13:5
      Maybe Jesus was forsaken so that we would never be. (Matthew 27:46) It is interesting that the Bible uses the word "never." That doesn't leave any room for exceptions, does it?

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      • Stephen, even though I can see the point of your main article I feel that your all inclusive position poses some very serious problems. For instance what do we do with this, “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Heb 10:26 NKJV)? Not to say anything about King Saul, Balaam (once a prophet of God), Judas who was one of the twelve, and of course the nation of Israel (Mat 23:37-38). Then there is the concept of the wrath of God as presented in Rom 1.

        To me, if a person is going into a pub for the express purpose to save a sinner or do something else on God's behalf then God is certainly with him but if a person goes in there in an act of defiance and decides that he/she is going to do as the world does then the wrath of God rests on that person. God doesn’t prevent such a person from doing that kind of thing but neither is He going to protect him – he is on his own.

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        • Thanks for your input, Tyler. The Bible contains an answer for Hebrews 10:26. It is Matthew 19:26, "But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible." Could it be because God never abandons us even when we consciously choose to move away from Him?

          To our way of thinking, God should be more human and respond as we would when encountering rebellion, but even in heaven God patiently waited until rebellion was full blown before dealing with Lucifer. To our way of thinking, He should have immediately intervened so that Adam and Eve would never have been tempted and 1/3 of the angels would not have been seduced into the rebellion. However, God's purposes are higher than our understanding. While we may feel justified in feeling "schadenfreude" over the end of the wicked, God never will. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" Matthew 23:37

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        • It's interesting that the conversation should take this turn, as I have an amazing experience of similar sort. I would not be a Christian today if Robby Teeling and Boris Jovinov of Mission College of Evangelism hadn't ventured into the bar where they found me. I was that guy sitting at the bar watching tv drinking a beer and eating some fries. Next thing I know Boris shows up and sits to my right and starts eating some of my French fries. The Robby sat on my left and starting saying some really funny stuff. Left the bar that night with them and went to Mission College where during my stay they still had to be patient with me as I was still sneaking in drugs and alcohol onto the campus. But you know what, come. Graduation time I was a different man, and have been ever since. I am living proof that God will send men to uttermost parts of the earth in search of His imperfect children.

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        • Tyler,
          Your God would have destroyed me long time ago, for rebelion and defyence, but the God I know from the Bible is a mercyfull God, a God of grace, and endless love. I grow up SDA, but I rebbel against my Creator, I went to places He hates, I did things He hates, I doubted His existency. For about 30 years I went astray, He hated what I did, but He always loved me, He never poured His wrath over me, He preotected me inside places where according to you, I would be "on my own", I was not on my own, He had a plan for my salvation when I didn't know He had such a plan.
          Today I know that I am saved by His mercy and grace ony, I deserved His wrath, but He disagreed with me, He gave me His love instead, as a loving father He was patient with me. When I think about His love for me at the time of my rebelious ways, tears comes to my eyes. The God from the Bible, MY GOD, never forsaked me, NEVER. Your heart may be full with wrath toward those who are lost, but the heart of the God of Creation is full of love, mercy and grace for them. Yes, there will be a time that someone may commit the unpardonable sin, as Judas, Balaam and Saul, but which power you or I have to know who are this people? We don't know, perhaps that brother, or sister who decide to go to a bar and have some wordly fun is commiting a sin, but can we judge for sure that is the unpardonable sin? Lack of love for others, when continuosly under an appearance of piety can even become an unpardonable sin.

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        • Silvia, actually my God would have stayed with you as long as there was hope for a response, HOWEVER, if you continued you would have reached a point sooner or later where you would no longer be responsive to the Holy Spirit. That point is what we call the unpardonable sin. It is a condition where God has no choice but to pull out and abandon a person to his/her own stubborn desires. The problem is that no one knows where that line is in a person so that if a person rebelliously continues in sin (the real meaning of Heb 10:26) he/she will at some point reach that line and may not even know it just as ancient Israel was unaware of the fact that God had pulled his protection from them that would eventually end up in total destruction in 70 AD.

          As far as I am concerned it is a very dangerous thing to preach unconditional salvation, which is essentially the same thing as saying that God will be with someone unconditionally. Such a doctrine is the same as saying once saved always saved, which is not what Seventh-day Adventists believe. We have traditionally always believed in conditional immortality which is based on a person's willingness to allow the Holy Spirit to reign in one's heart.

          What I say may not strike a harmonious cord with many people but my Gospel is not one of peace and safety. Sin is to be shunned not embraced as though there were no consequence for doing wrong. No one has to listen to me, there are plenty of preachers out there both in and out of the church that preach peace and safety where no one has to worry about anything, just do your own thing and God will automatically save you.

          My Gospel says that God will save those who choose to be Christ like. In other words people cannot be saved while they are in rebellion against God - if that weren't true then Satan has eternal life. That doesn't mean that they are perfect or that they don't stumble and fall now and then but it does mean that the general direction of their lives are Heavenward. To me there is no place in Heaven for rebellion, no place for anarchy. There are rules there just as there is in any society and those that live there are expected to abide by them.

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        • Tyler, you are righteous in your own eyes, I will pray that one day you get to know the Lord, and learn some meekness, the way you are taking with so much anger toward others is going to lead you to destruction. Turn to our Creator, humble yourself before Him, and He will heal any pain you are carrying in your heart. Through Jesus I can say that I love you, be in peace my friend, I am in peace, a peace that comes from a merciful God, a peace who comes from the assurance that my sins are forgiven and washed away by the blood of Jesus. Cry out to Him Tyler, and He will calm down the internsl rage storm you have from long time ago.

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  10. many a time we feel, changing our mode and style of worship is the best way to attract membership. in fact, a friend of mine usually say, if EG white is alive today she will change so many principles of the church to bring in more member. but i strongly disagree with him. because the bible is the inspired word of God and the doctrine of the church is caved from it. hence, our church principle should the basis of our daily living. i therefore submit to the gospel mission in Matt 28 "go ye therefore to preach the everlasting gospel. THE CALL IS TO GO and the lord will give us the courage to love.....

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    • Jerry, While I appreciate your concerns about maintaining our church principles and doctrines, I do want us to consider that we can change our style and mode of worship without sacrificing doctrine and/or principles. If we feel that we have to "do" church according to the methods that were popular in the late 1800's and early 1900's, then there are a large number of people that we will never reach.

      The church has to change with the times, and I think we can do so without compromise. If your church has a praise team instead of a choir, that's okay, as long as we are singing praises to God. If you church uses an electronic keyboard and other instruments (played skillfully and in reverence to God)instead of a pipe organ, then that's okay. If your minister and elders wear regular clothing and not ornate robes, that should be okay. If your church uses media extensively, that should be okay. The most important thing is that were are reaching our communities with God's last day message,and that message has not changed.

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  11. 2Tim. 3:16 states that All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness . In 17 it continues to say that the reason for this is that the man of God would be thoroughly furnished unto all good works. Now, you are saying that Paul was in transition from being a Pharisee when he made some statements and later he softened them. Have you really the authority to make that statement. What about Jesus' statements when he says in Matt. 5:29-30 to remove your right eye or right hand if it is going to prevent you from getting into Heaven? Although we accept that this was not literal, we do understand it to mean that we must do whatever is necessary to ensure that we do that which is right and pleasing in God's sight. Was Jesus being too harsh then? Was He in transition too when he swung a whip in the temple? When he said that it is better if a millstone around our necks than cause one of his little children to stumble, Was he being too harsh? Presumption in sin doesn't make God walk away from us, but it could cause us to walk away from him. Persons whom God entrusts with witnessing must be careful, not of him leaving them but of them leaving their Saviour. 1Cor.10:12 says Take heed lest ye fall. It is our responsibility to win souls,so should God lead you to a place to find souls then so be it. But should one decide to go to places to participate in bacchanal and wonton,or sinful behaviour? Its not okay to rebel because of God's promise to never leave nor forsake. We should all be careful not to tempt the Lord our God. Let's not get chancy with our salvation and call that courage to love. Courage to love comes from the Father. So we pray for it and we step out . We must be careful though. Remember the Holy Spirit telling Paul to not go to Asia? Acts 16:6 Let us continue in love.

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    • Thank you for your comment Donna-Marie. You are right that we are to look to Jesus as the example for our faith. I appreciate that viewpoint but I would have a hard time making Paul equal to Jesus. Jesus is God and Paul was only an apostle. Even the apostles grew and developed in their spiritual understanding. A more apt comparison might be between Paul and Peter. Peter went from denying Christ, even though he had walked with him for years, to giving his life for Jesus. But this was not an immediate transformation. The same Peter who stood up and preached on Pentecost was also the man whom Paul later rebuked for dissimulating.

      We all grow in our understanding and devotion over time. The apostles were no exception as can be seen from what the Bible reveals about their lives. If you and I examine the course of our own lives, perhaps we can see this, also. I do not have the same understanding of everything that I had ten years ago. Maybe this is true for you as well.

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    • I think both Stephen and Donna-Marie make good points. To me the question is whether or not Paul was in an immature state of mind when he said what he did, I tend to think he had good reason to say what he did. The question I think we should first be asking is if there was a social, cultural practice that existed at that time that would move Paul to say what he did. For instance, the view of women not speaking in church, was it acceptable in that culture for women to do that and if not how would that have affected the view of the church in the eyes of the Gentile pagans around them? Would it have hindered the ministry of the Gospel if such a practice continued?

      As for the person who was living with his father's wife. I think we need to ask if something should be allowed to continue in the church that is disgusting in the eyes of the world (1 Cor 5:1). A question I think we should ask is if counsel was given to that person by the church elders and what reaction that person could have had to it. To me if that person rejected counsel by the church then it was appropriate for Paul to call for church discipline.

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  12. Stephen, for some Christian who do not understand the power of God this article may make them insecure I must admit I too am still growing and learning to balance this concept. It wasn't until I heard Jesus prayer to God in John 6:39;18:9;& 17:12 boasting of how all that were given Him, He did not lose not one. There are many people called by His name but not all are His. We sometimes in our frail thinking want to believe all are saved however Salvation is an individual Act of God in which we all have to work out with fear and trembling. If we are indeed God's called and elect nothing will separate us from Him. Seeking to save the lost is our quest, job and duty. We must stay prayerful. Be Blessed!

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    • Thank you for your comment, Jane. Could it be possible that we are confusing love of the world with living in the world?

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  13. As I am unable to reply to every example, I want to just thank all of you who are sharing stories of effective witnessing in unusual circumstances. It is inspiring to see the power of God working in ways that we don't usually expect. This surely glorifies God.

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  14. I have heard of men of God who went preaching to the prostitutes and lost there way as a result, God has unlimited power to protect us but I think we should avoid situations that may lead us to sin, why would I go in a strip club to proclaim the gospel when people will not be in a right frame of mind to receive the gospel? This is very controversial

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    • You are absolutely right. We have to be realistic about our human weaknesses and stay away from situations that present a temptation to us. Otherwise this would be presumption.

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      • @bupe. I don't see why this should be controversial at all. Why would this be controversial? The scripture is clear, FLEE TEMPTATION

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    • Hi, Bupe. I understand your concern. While I have heard these stories also, I have never actually heard the names of anyone that this happened to. However, I have heard of many who have been saved as a result of reaching out in this way. Some of the stories are posted here in the comments. In addition to these, another fine example is the story of the popular evangelist, Lyle Albrecht. He has brought many, many people to Jesus over the years, but this might never have happened had someone not been willing to venture forth to his father's tavern to reach out with the message of Jesus. You can obtain his autobiography at http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/lyle-albrecht/lyle-albrecht-autobiography/paperback/product-11596281.html

      In the end, perhaps it all comes down to faith. "Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done." Matthew 21:21 Maybe, if we have doubts, we do not have the faith necessary to enter these places. But if others have faith for such a work, mountains may be moved.

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      • Brother Terry, as much as I agree with you point, I actually have a real-life personal experience wher this HAPPENED TO ME! In college I ran a men's purity ministry with my roomate and had such an amazing experience helping the various guys who wanted help. We were for years and after I returned from college I began a men's purity ministry here in California with my dentist friend Abel. During this time I learned of a ministry that reaches out not simply to affected men, to adult-film industry workers producing the material. Shelley Lubben has had considerable success in drawing at least over 100 men and women out of that industry and helped them to know the love of Christ.
        I was so touched by Shelley's ministry and Pink Cross Foundation, and the amazing conversion stories... But as I began to listen to more and more conversion stories, and even considered joining Shelley to evangelize at a convention, I wasn't being honest about my own tendency to stumble in this area, and foolheartedly, and totally sincerely I stumbled because I associated too closely for my own strength to resist.
        Now, as much a I support Shelley, I don't follow her work anymore. I continue to extend my hand to men in need but my reach ends there. Live and learn. It does happen.

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        • Thank you Balam-Quitze for giving us an actual example of a situation of what Bupe is talking about. Is it possible that the answer is in your statement "...because I associated too closely for my own strength to resist?" Paul wrote to the Philippians, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." Philippians 4:13. Perhaps the end can be better if we have learned to draw on this strength from Christ rather than our own.

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        • I went beyond the protection of God because I did not flee temptation... Thus I was on my own and in my own strength I stumbled briefly. It's a lesson I've made sure to learn well.

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  15. I should clarify that actually, since the experience I have not been such an avid supporter of the ministry and there are questions about their financial integrity. I'm just staying out of it.

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  16. Enlightening and thought provoking! The different viewpoints have helped me to rethink my approach to witnessing. May God bless you all.

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  17. I agree with what you are saying up until you talk about paul. All scripture was given by God and I don't think paul gave his own opinion on anything he wrote in the bible. When I came to God I avoided certain classes until I was strong enough to go around those people and minister to them. Paul said he would become all things in order to win one.

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