Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book review: Share Jesus Without Fear by William Fay

I resisted reading Share Jesus Without Fear for more than a year. I was new to "reformed theology" and didn’t want some “Arminian” book to get me all confused (easily done)! But when a) I read about a tattooed neo-nazi who came to Christ in prison after hearing the SJWF presentation, ...

Steven Neil (left)

... and b) when a friend of mine who goes to a reformed Presbyterian church told me his church uses SJWF in their evangelism training (albeit a slightly modified version), and c) when I learned I would get an opportunity to present the Gospel one-on-one, multiple times, in a day-long ministry opportunity, I decided to read it and see what the Lord would have me learn from it.

I found in SJWF, a very simple method for sharing the Gospel of Christ using 5 “Share Jesus Questions” to break the ice and get into the Gospel. Then if the door is opened, there are seven “Share Jesus Scriptures”. You ask permission to share some Scriptures and have your friend read the verses aloud, each time simply asking what they think the verse is saying. If they fail to grasp it, you gently ask them to read it again. This is such a simple way to let God’s Word speak to people through His Holy Spirit!

There were times when reading this book got me excited because of its simplicity (something I need because I'm simple-minded!), but there were times when I felt somewhat sick to my stomach because it seemed to have such an “Arminian” feel to it, and seemed at times manipulative.

There are references to the use of a “sinner’s prayer” and one of the Share Jesus verses (Rev 3:20) is taken out of context, though in Fay’s defense, this is almost universally misapplied to salvation (when it is actually referring to a literal church.) FYI - here is an excellent article that explains this passage is really talking about! My friend suggested Mark 1:15 as the last verse to share instead of this one.

Another thing I don’t like about SJWF is Fay’s use of the phrase “accept Jesus into your heart”. For example see Question Five on p. 63. I read a great little book against the dangers of the Invitation System (i.e. altar calls) and it explains why this phrase is unbiblical and that John 1:12 cannot be used to support it. I’ll quote it if I can find that little book.

The whole chapter “bring to a decision” seemed manipulative, and I wanted to quit reading. Seemed more like a high-pressure sales approach. But in talking with the afore-mentioned reformed Presbyterian minister who uses SJWF in his evangelism classes, he reminded me that the Bible is full of calls for people to make decisions. “The extreme Arminians, act as if raising your hand after a prayer or responding to an alter call, ‘gets you saved’” he said. “The equally harmful ‘Calvinistic error’ is that it is somehow inappropriate to call for a decision. The Bible is replete with prophets, apostles, and our Lord Himself calling for decisions. (Repent and believe the gospel)”

Fay gives an example of D.L. Moody when he preached on April 8, 1871. The message was called “What Then Shall I Do with Jesus Who is Called the Christ?” Fay says “at the conclusion, he asked the listeners to consider the question and respond the next Sunday, when they returned. But they did not return. Fire bells rang even as they rose, and the building burned, and the congregation scattered.(p 61)” I love how the pastors at my church give an opportunity for those who have just heard the Gospel, to respond in faith! They don’t tell them to come forward during seventeen verses of “Just as I am”. But they tell them they can find forgiveness for their sins in Christ and briefly share the Gospel. Then they simply make themselves available after the service so that folks can come and talk with them.

I love Fay’s emphasis on discipleship, not just making converts. He suggests taking the new convert to church (p. 75). It’s very important for new Christians to be helped to find a good solid church in which to grow in the Lord. Fay goes so far as to call the Pastor of a local church and give him the name of the new convert. “I ask the pastor to call my friend. I don’t care who calls whom first, just as long as a call is made. But while I have the pastor on the phone, my job is to get him to promise me that either he or someone he disgnates will call my friend.”

The “Why” principle (p. 81) seemed at first a little manipulative, but it really does help to get to the heart of people’s excuses for not accepting Christ. Of course you don’t want to be obnoxious with it, but it can be very helpful.

I enjoyed how he got into a conversation about the Gospel by starting with statistics (p. 89).

“I said, ‘Art, I understand you like statistics.’


‘What is a penny doubled every day, for thirty days?’

“Art spouted off, ‘It starts at 1,2,4,8,16,32, 64,128,256, until you get $10,737,418.24.’”

“I was impressed! I said, ‘That seemed easy for you. Let me ask you another question. How many people would it take flipping a quarter before one person hits heads thirty times in a row?’”

“Art ran into the kitchen. When he came back, he said it would take billions of people flipping quarters before one person hit heads thirty times ina row. … With this probability established I was ready to make the switch. I said, ‘That is why I believe the Bible is true. If you take the thirty prophecies about the birth, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus that have come true, that’s like flipping heads thirty times in a row.’”

Fay went on to encourage Art to be thikning about the number 245, which is the conservative estimate of biblical prophecies that have come true. Art immediately asked for an appointment to talk with Fay, and later became a believer.

Fay has a section called “Ready Responses to Common Objections. I love #27, which is the objection that there are many paths to God. Fay answers it this way.

“I not, ‘You are correct; all roads lead to God. But here’s the problem: what are you going to say when you get there? For God is either going to meet you as your Savior or as your judge. For Scripture says, ‘That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Phil. 2:10-11)”
Brilliant use of God’s Word!

I love how Fay often talks like a Calvinist, especially in the section called “Closed Doors” on page 124. “Perhaps you need permission to walk away from trying to force someone to accept the gospel. After all, you don’t need to solicit a phony decision for Christ. Your only desire should be for a friend’s genuine conversion, born out of the power of the Holy Spirit.” A couple pages later he said, “Ours is a walk of faith, not by sight, but to do all we can do to be obedient and trust God for the results. (p. 126)”

I love this book and I plan to drop a note to the author to thank him for writing it. I was able to practice this method last week and had great results! I got to see God’s “miracle of salvation” happen before my eyes (thank you Rita for that phrase, BTW, I love it! This is something I’ve prayed to see for years!

There is a danger with any “method” of evangelism, that people will appear inauthentic if they are too caught up in a script, using SJWF or the Way of the Master’s approach. But for people like me, who aren’t eloquent Bible scholars, something like this works at this stage of my life. As I grow in the Lord I hope to have a more fluid and informal approach, but for now I am excited to have read and practiced the Share Jesus Without Fear method.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Great quote by D.A. Carson

"PEOPLE DO NOT drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.
We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance;
we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom;
we drift toward superstition and call it faith.
We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation;
we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism;
we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated."
-D. A. Carson, For the Love of God

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Pastor Warne Visits the BSG

My cup is overflowing! God is so good to me it makes my head buzz sometimes, oh wait ... that's all the sugar!

Anyway, what a blessing it was to have had Pastor Brian Warne visit the Bible Study Group at work last Thursday (8/7/08)! It was very cool that Countryside's church-planter and missionary to Mexico (Jahuara 2, Sinaloa) was there to show some videos and pictures, and give a challenge from God's Word.

Attendance was not through the roof (no more than 8 or 9) but the session was video-recorded via a video-conference. We sent the link to hundreds of BSG members in KC, Boston, California, and other sites around the country and beyond!

Pastor Warne briefly introduced his family, ministry history and gave an overview of the Mayo Indian religious make-up. Then he played a video that gives a good feel for the sights and sounds of Sinaloa. The video features images of the church, clips of Pastor Warne preaching, a baptismal service at the lake (featuring a fish fry!)

Then Pastor Warne gave a challenge/devotional from Acts 8:4-8. He proclaimed God's truth regarding our responsibility to preach the Gospel (both with our lips and our lives) and the results that we can expect.

The question and answer time was also a treat as we had great discussion. However, our "time-saving" idea to play a slide show with music DURING the Q&A did not translate well onto the video. While the music was beautiful, it completely drowned out the conversation in the room (though we could not tell at the time). So in the video you can see that Q&A is going on, and that people are periodically looking up at the slide show on the screen (and thus into the camera) ... but you can not hear a WORD that is being said!

Overall it was such a blessing and a personal highlight to be able to have Pastor Brian come out and address the BSG.

Please pray for the Warnes as this weekend they travel back "home" to Mexico to minister to their beloved mission field there. Here is their prayer card ...

I took off the contact info (to be on the safe side.) Also note: Dan (left) and Amy (right) are now both in college this year! Please pray for our empty-nesters, Brian and Danyel!!!

Friday, August 15, 2008

How to find a church

I've had the opportunity at work to meet some people in different parts of the country, some of which were looking for churches. So in asking around I have been directed to a few websites that are very helpful if you're either looking to move or will be visiting. Here is what I learned, please let me know if you have any other helpful resources and I'll update this post)
  • 9 Marks. First, I'd recommend the 9 Marks website. Mark Dever wrote a book called 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. Great place to start! Click here for the 9 Marks. Read up then keep in mind when looking for a church. You can also search the site for churches that hold to the 9 Marks.
  • John Farese has a great website that might be an encouragement to you. You can read his testimony here. John has a directory of churches as well that you might check out.
  • FIRE - Fellowship of Independent Reformed Evangelicals.
  • Finally, here is a book review of Thabiti Anyabwile's book What is a Healthy Church?
I trust these resources will be an encouragement to you as you look for a church where you live or plan to visit.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Free Gospel tracts from the Irish Calvinist

My lovely wife, Aimee (even lovelier when contrasted with this character), came across some free reformed Gospel tracts and we're very excited about them!

Free tracts from the Irish Calvinist

The Irish Calvinist blog is a new favorite! I've read and highly recommend his series on leading family devotions, as well as his posts on How to live a miserable Christian life and Why I Don't Evangelize. Ha ha, now that they appear together in print, the last two sound very negative, but are actually quite motivating in the right direction!

I appreciate this site and hope you visit it as well and profit from it!

Saturday, August 9, 2008


What is a "wordle"? Click here to learn more.

I learned about Wordle from a very good blog called "Musings of the Dings", run by Evers and Louis Ding, a neat couple from California.

Basically you input any text and it runs an algorithm to generate a "word cloud" image where the size of the words depends on the frequency of the word. You can tweak the color and layout, then do screen-shots of the results for no charge!

Here are a couple of examples. This is a lot of fun! I created a category for "Wordles" that I hope to have some time to create. It's just for fun. Enjoy!

This is from the transcript of a sermon by Steve Lawson on the Protestant Reformation.

This is from the text of 1 John.

Friday, August 8, 2008

What Is the Gospel?

Ligonier Ministries has a great summary of the Gospel. You can also hear RC Sproul in a short audio file (under 3 minutes) explain the Gospel

Click here for "What is the Gospel?" ...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Paul Washer Video

The sermon used for this is in my list of sermon favorites. It's the first Paul Washer sermon I ever heard. Powerful stuff!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Wake up! Repent!

Yesterday I read Gen 18-19, which includes the narrative of Abraham interceding for the wicked city of Sodom (where his nephew Lot lived). God graciously agrees not to destroy the city if only ten righteous people are found there. There were less.

God, then rescues Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, even after his hesitance to leave despite impending judgment. It can be assumed he had grown comfortable there financially as he sat in the city gate-where all the municipal/legal matters were dealt with (19:1). In fact, the angels had to physically drag Lot and his family out of the city. I was struck by the "forceful" grace that God showed in sparing Lot and his family!
"But he lingered. So the men seized him and his wife and his two daughters by the hand, the LORD being merciful to him, and they brought him out and set him outside the city. (Gen 19:16)"
What a picture of grace! Lot's family did not deserve to be saved, but God forcefully rescued them in mercy. How similar to my own salvation story!

This passage also contains the account of Lot's wife looking back and being consumed by the destruction. This side of God is striking in contrast to the watered-down image of God we hear about today. Yes, God is a God of love, but he is also perfectly just and righteous and will ultimately put an end to all sin in His righteous judgment. I heard someone say yesterday that grace is NOT deserved. Grace is a gift and cannot be earned or else it wouldn't be grace!

Don't be lulled to sleep by the world system we live in. Do not love the world or the things in the world (see 1 Jn 2:17), it's passing away!

Note Jesus words in Luke 17:28-33, when he makes reference to Sodom and Gomorrah.
Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot—they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom, fire and sulfur rained from heaven and destroyed them all— so will it be on the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, let the one who is on the housetop, with his goods in the house, not come down to take them away, and likewise let the one who is in the field not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.
If you are not a believer do not wait till tomorrow to be reconciled to God. The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said this of procrastination: "The great mischief of most men is that they procrastinate. It is not that they resolve to be damned, but that they resolve to be saved TOMORROW. It is not that they reject Christ forever, but that they reject Christ TODAY. They might as well reject him forever, as continue perpetually to reject him NOW."

God has provided salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. He took on human flesh to live the life we could not live and took the punishment of God's wrath that we deserve. He was crucified, buried, and rose again for our sins and we need only to cry out to Him in repentance and beg His mercy, trusting in Him alone for our eternal salvation! (Click here for a quick summary of the Gospel with Scripture you can look up.)

Will you consider that your reading of this blog is not an accident, but in fact an indication that God is mercifully grabbing you by the arm and seeking to save you from the judgment to come?

If you are a believer, pray that God would give you opportunities to share the Good News with the lost in your life!

About Me

Here is my testimony: mike