Below is an interesting article by Pastor Tim O Brien.
I've posted it because it raises an interesting question: Does God require that a person's sins be forgiven before they can experience His presence? According to Pastor Tim, the answer is no. According to Pastor Tim, much of evangelism is centered around getting a person to recognize their sinfulness. If you have ever heard of Ray Comfort or Kirk Cameron or seen the television show "Way of the Master", you will know what I am talking about. Cameron and Comfort believe that the use of the law (specificallly as revealed in the 10 Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount) for the purpose of showing a sinner their sinfulness is indispensable to salvation. Cameron and Comfort would also question someone's conversion experience if they have not been "awakened by the law." While I agree that Comfort and Cameron have discovered a valid Biblical principle, I have to ask: Is it true that the use of the law is the only valid form of evangelism? Pastor O Brien says no. I would like to know what my readers think.
It is often said something like, “You have to get forgiveness of sins before you can experience God.” The idea is that someone has to recognize their sinfulness and ask God’s forgiveness before they can expect anything from Him. This, however, was not the attitude of Jesus.
Jesus went about graciously healing the blind, freeing the vexed, granting the crippled to walk, and lifting up with gracious words those of ill reputation. He did not demand them to recognize their sins or to cry out for forgiveness in order to receive His favor. He would often say something like, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Jesus rebelled against the religious system of His day. That system not only categorized actions as clean or unclean, but it categorized people as clean or unclean. The “unclean” could not expect any favors from God.
Ironically, the evangelical church often does the same thing today. We categorize people as saved or unsaved. Now, I understand that there is a theological correctness to whether someone has received a saving knowledge of Jesus or not, but this was never supposed to exclude someone from experiencing God’s favor.
When God’s presence is clearly abiding with us, then everyone in the room can experience God, saved and unsaved. God will heal. God will touch. God will speak. God will grant favor to anyone.
If we demand that people say a sinner’s prayer before they get God’s attention, we are not following the pattern of Jesus. Once they are touched, then they can make their decision, just like the lepers that Jesus healed.
So much of the time Christian religion is focused on getting people to recognize their sinfulness. Although sinfulness is certainly an issue, it is often not something that stirs the heart of the non-believer. They either do not think they are sinful or, even if they do, they don’t believe it will do any good to feel bad about it.
The fact is that God can open up a heart that doesn’t even recognize it’s own sinfulness. God can reveal His presence to them or grant their request. God loves to do great things for people, to display His goodness.
All God needs is a people who are inviting Him into their midst. Jesus said, “My house must be a house of prayer for all,” not a house of robbers. When we make God’s house a house of prayer, then the robbery stops. People stop being robbed of their chance to experience God.
When we steward the presence of God, we give everyone a chance. Everyone gets to touch Him. But to steward the presence of God, it takes our very lives. Who is willing to give their life to host the presence of God so everyone can get a chance?
[People are gathering in the dozens at Rock of Ages Mondays at 7pm to deliberately call on God for a visitation. We are experiencing Him in greater and greater measure. If your heart is for revival and a move of God, come help us call on Him. Reference: Luke 17:12]
NOTE: We have Jesus Camp T-shirts for $8 XL and $9 2XL.
by Pastor Tim O’Brien
Rock of Ages Ministries
Author may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
For Daily Guide 6 Apr 07 edition