Just share the Word

And then you start thinking, well, there’s a context for everything—and I said, where is there a more appropriate context for the law of God than when someone’s about a half hour away from murdering their child?

When you work with pro-life groups, something you find is that almost all of them are opposed in principle to condemning sin and calling (wo)men to repentance—that is, to preaching the gospel. If sin should be condemned and men called to repentance anywhere, ever, then certainly not here, not now.

For instance, here’s what Steve Jalsevac, editor of LifeSiteNews.com (normally so helpful in providing daily news about issues of life, marriage, euthanasia, care of the weak, and conscience issues in the public square) wrote recently:

…we often should not use religious arguments in talking about abortion, depending on the person that we are talking to. There are enough other arguments that can still be very convincing because this is a human rights and justice issue. It is often pointless to quote scripture or talk religion with persons who have no religious formation or beliefs.

But what will change hearts and save souls (of father, mother, and baby) if not the very Word of God?

The following is a transcript of a message preached by Pastor Andrew Dionne in the Sunday evening service on August 4, 2013 at Trinity Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Spartanburg, South Carolina. It is helpful to us in remembering the rightful centrality of the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, in the life of the Christian.


Outline

1. The law of God

It was a busy but otherwise typical day out at the abortion clinic this past Saturday, 10 to 12 couples arriving to slaughter their children, and we stand with signs. I’ve been going up on the hill where you can see the entrance and preaching the Word from there. As people get out of their car I’ll plead with them, asking them to reconsider, to turn away; I’ll remind them what God’s Word says about killing. I have a 20 second window: they get out of their car, walk to the front door, go in and close the door.

Anyway, this past Saturday I came down and Parks was up on the hill preaching. He was down there and I was just at the entrance where the cars go in, and there was a young couple—they couldn’t have been any older than 19 or 20 years old—that pulled in to the place next door, which is the Piedmont Women’s Center. It’s not the abortion clinic—the Piedmont Women’s Center is a pro-life group. They both went to the front door and the young man stayed back and was smoking a cigarette. He came over and looked at one of my signs, one that says, “Babies are murdered here,” and he said, “What’s that?” And I said, “Well that’s what they do over here.” And he said, “Well I think that’s where we want to be.”

See, they mistakenly went into the pro-life place next door. So she was inside for maybe five minutes—enough where there must have been some kind of conversation going on. And so I tell him that, and he says, “Well I think we need to be over there,” and I say, “Well, are you a Christian?” Because he had a cross hanging from his neck. And he said, “Yeah, I’m a Christian.” And I said, “Well, what do you think your pastor would say about you taking in your baby to kill it?” He said, “Well, my pastor wouldn’t approve of that. And my pastor wouldn’t approve of premarital sex, and my pastor wouldn’t approve of the tattoo of the cross on my arm, either.” And I said to him, “Regardless of the tattoo on your arm, you’re about to kill your baby, and God’s Word says you shall not kill.”

And what do you think he said next? “It’s not a baby, it’s a five week old clump of cells, and we’re too young, we’re too broke, we’re too immature to be able to raise a baby.” And I’m thinking, “clump of cells,” “baby”—the contradictions in language.

And then she came out the front door and she was kinda like, c’mon, get into the car, let’s go over to the other place. And he broke off the conversation and got in their SUV (apparently they had driven from Tennessee as well; there’s anonymity that you can get, being far away from home)—so they went to the place next door, he had his window rolled down and he was just kind of smirking as he drove by up the driveway. And I reminded him what God’s Word says, which is “You shall not kill.” And I said, “Do what’s right in the sight of God. Don’t do what you feel is right, do what is right in the sight of God.” And then by that time they were in. Parks and I hung around and talked for maybe ten more minutes; we thought, maybe they’ll turn around, maybe they’ll come back—and then we took off.

1.1. Where is there a more appropriate context?

And then this past week I also had a conversation here with a young mother at a local Reformed church who wants to get an abortion clinic ministry going. And so we got together and talked about it and what we could do, and I said, Well, go talk to your pastor. This needs to be a church ministry. You need the protection of the church when you’re out doing things that are sort of high stakes. You need the authority of elders over you when you go out and do what can be dangerous work. (It’s not necessarily dangerous work, but it can be—people get angry.) And so I said talk to your pastor, see what your church will do—your church really needs to be involved in this. We need to have more churches out there that are committed to it, but I don’t want to be involved in trying to do some sort of parachurch thing where we’re loosely affiliated and there’s no authority over us. We need authority over us for this ministry.

And then she started asking me about what we do out there. And I said, well, we plead; we have this little handout and we try to talk to people and turn them away; but we also preach God’s no—we also have God’s law that we speak. And that sort of made her uncomfortable, as you might expect. She said, the women who are going in there are hurting. And I said, don’t be so sure they are. A lot of them just want their baby dead. They may be hurting—a lot of them in fact are being led there by moms and fathers and boyfriends and husbands—but a lot aren’t—but regardless of that, it’s God’s Word, and when is speaking God’s Word ever not a good thing to do?

And then you start thinking, well, there’s a context for everything—and I said, where is there a more appropriate context for the law of God than when someone’s about a half hour away from murdering their child?

When we preach up there—and it’s me and it’s Parks and it’s a bunch of these wonderfully zealous Baptist guys from Greenville—and I love them! There aren’t any other presbyterians out there—we want to preach not just the Word, but we want to be out there preaching God’s law.

Why do we want to preach God’s law? It’s the basis of authority, it’s the foundation of our life. It’s not our opinion, it’s truth. It’s powerful!

The thing, is, I don’t have any power. I’m an idiot. God’s Word has power. And I can vocalize that Word. My own thoughts, I tell you what, they’re twisted and ungodly, and were I to share my own thoughts and not God’s Word, who knows what would happen.

We preach God’s law, God’s Word, and sometimes, particularly guys will sit with their windows open and listen to me preach while their girlfriend is inside dealing with their child. It’s mind-boggling to me! I couldn’t do that. I mean I would roll up the windows, turn the car on, blow the air conditioner so I couldn’t hear anything. But that comes with having a conscience awakened.

And so it’s God’s Word we want to speak, and it’s not as if I’m only preaching God’s law, I’m also preaching the gospel and saying, “Look, turn to Jesus. You’ll be able to bear this weight and every other weight in your life if you turn to Jesus. You’ll be able to handle anything, even a child! You’ll be able to be a mother or father if you turn to Jesus He’ll provide for every one of your needs and forgive all of your sins.” And so that’s always a part of it. “You’re weary. You’re tired. Find rest for your soul in Jesus. Don’t find rest in this place where they’re just going to deal with your body. You want rest for your soul.”

But what I don’t generally have the opportunity to do (although I did on Saturday with that young man) is to have a dialogue, is to argue with somebody. And I could have argued with this boy for hours until I was blue in the face and had no effect at all; but just saying Exodus 20:13 to him, “You shall not kill,” by the work of the Holy Spirit, could have stung him and turned him away from that place in an instant.

1.2. What does Scripture say about God’s Word?

So, what does Scripture say about God’s Word?

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. –Hebrews 4:12

It’s sharper than a two-edged sword, able to divide between joint and marrow, soul and spirit—it diagnoses the intents of your thoughts. That is better than what floats through my mind. There’s power there.

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness –2 Timothy 3:16

It’s inspired by God and it’s profitable. And then Isaiah 55 is that passage we always quote:

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
And do not return there without watering the earth
And making it bear and sprout,
And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater;
So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth;
It will not return to Me empty,
Without accomplishing what I desire,
And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.” –Isaiah 55:10-11

It goes out and it does something—and that something is nothing less than God’s will.

Jeremiah 23:29 also says,

“Is not My word like fire?” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer which shatters a rock?”

That is a good image to think of.

Isaiah 40:8,

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever. –Isaiah 40:8

What did Jesus say about the Word of God? He said that not a jot or tittle would pass away.

2. The alternative: reasoning in an age of passions

There was an article by a friend of mine recently about the fact that in the UK they really like to protect birds. They have these societies for the preservation of every kind of bird and every kind of egg, and they actually have their own sort of SWAT team for protecting bird eggs, and there are serious punishments if you are caught messing with bird eggs. And of course it’s legal to kill your baby. It’s a protected right to be able to mess with the egg in a woman’s womb, but you can’t mess with the egg of a bird sitting on the beach.

Now the reason I bring this up is, this is the context in which we have to make arguments today. In other words, a whole society can be all for the protection of the owl and see no contradiction when they’re pro-abortion. It’s a woman’s right to choose, it’s that sort of thing, and so they don’t see the relationship between the two. And so the idea of arguing with people based upon logic or reason is absurd today. There’s no reason we should even attempt to do that—just read the contradictory thoughts of everybody and you’ll realize that no one operates on the basis of logic and reason. And probably no one ever has. The passions are powerful, and that’s what we listen to.

The heart is desperately sick; who can understand it?

The heart has always been driving people—today we just get to read a lot of news articles and blogs about it. And so the one point I want to make is that all of you have a very simple task in being a disciple of Christ, and that’s just to speak the Word of God.

3. Practical issues

3.1. The need for preparation

But I’ll tell you, I should have done more with that young man on Saturday. I should have opened the Bible, I should have pointed to the passage, and I should have read him Psalm 139 and made him think through his thoughts. And in that sense I wasn’t ready, I wasn’t prepared. I made the stupid assumption that he was there to be at the Piedmont Women’s Center, or else I would have gone and talked to him sooner—but that’s the mode we need to be in when we get in conversations with people, it may be strangers at the grocery store, it may be co-workers, it might be people at the clinic—we should just immediately be thinking, ok, what’s the verse that goes with this situation? and say it. “You know what God’s Word says? It says this…” And lay it out there, and then what you’ve done, you’ve accomplished a couple of things. First you’ve taken yourself in a sense out of it—even pagans have a respect for old words, old documents and ancient thoughts, so even that will give somebody pause— but beyond that, you’ve picked up the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and you’ve spoken it; and you remember that Isaiah 55 passage, and you remember that Hebrews passage, and you remember these passages that say God’s going to do something through His Word. So don’t try to reason with people—people don’t want reason—just share the Word.

Likely we’ve all got studying to do in order to know in a whole host of situations we find ourselves in: “What is the verse—What does God say on this? What are God’s thoughts?” And I’d always preface it by just saying, “You know what God’s Word says on that? It says this…” “You know what Scripture says… You know what the Bible says… You know what God says about that? It says this…”

And see if God doesn’t work.

3.2. A reminder to rest in the foolishness of God and not on our own understanding

1 Corinthians 1:18-31 is so important for the postmodern age. The Apostle Paul is saying these things:

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

God has made foolish the fact that people see no dissonance between protecting birds and killing babies. Even if you don’t think that human beings are the height of God’s creation, logic would tell you not to do that.

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because…

And I love this statement,

…the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

You know, the strange thing about that is there is no foolishness in God, there is no weakness in God, and yet we get His point. Man’s foolishness and man’s weakness is cosmic, infinitely foolish.

…For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise

God has chosen the simple Christian, standing outside the abortion clinic, to confound the wisdom of Supreme Court justices.

…and God has chosen the weak things of the world…

Christians who parrot the Word of God,

…to shame the things which are strong…

The professors and the politicians.

…and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “LET HIM WHO BOASTS, BOAST IN THE LORD.”

3.3. Examples of putting this into practice

That passage sums up our task. You all have family members and you think, how in the world do I talk to them about the Lord? And you get in this awkward, clumsy conversation where you’re trying to stay a step ahead of them in their reasoning and be nice even while you’re saying things that might be harsh; but I tell you what: just stop in the middle of it and say what God says. Just bring in Scripture, and if you have to pause the conversation, say “Pause it – I need to go search for this verse that I can’t find right now in my Bible.” And go to your computer and get on Google and search for the word and find that verse and read it. So it’s a very simple task we have, but we get confused when we try to do it with our own mind, thinking that somehow that that weakness and that foolishness is somehow going to be stronger than God’s Word. We talked about this at [the men’s group] too, and we just read the section in Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ book on authority where he addresses Scripture, the Word of God. And he says this at the very end:

The choice for us today is really as simple as it was for those first Christians in the early days. We either accept [the authority of the Word] or else we accept the authority of ‘modern knowledge’, modern science, human understanding, human ability. It is one or the other. Let us not be confused by the modern argument about a changed position. We are still left where believers have always been left. It is still ‘Christ or the critics’. For us, for the reasons that I have tried to give, there is no real choice. On the one hand, trusting to human ability and understanding…

Trying to figure it out yourself and make cogent arguments…

…everything is flux and change, uncertain and insecure, ever liable to collapse. On the other is not only ‘the impregnable rock of Holy Scripture’; but there is the Light of the world, the Word of God, the Truth itself…The Lord of the Church has declared: ‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my word shall not pass away.’ It is a word that abides in time; it is a word that abides in death; it is a word taht shall confront us in eternity. For the Son of God Himself has said: ‘I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’.

And so “You shall not kill” is the last thing that young man heard me say before he went in and killed; and I hope that afflicts his conscience even now and for the rest of his life, to the point where he despairs and cries out, “God, save me for what I have done, and what I led my girlfriend to, and what I did to my child!”

We have to trust that in throwing God’s Word out there it will be effective—much more so than nuanced, subtle, sophisticated, cushy, more easily received words that come out of my own head would be.

So let’s trust the Word—let’s study it to know it in that respect.

Think of situations right now where you’ve been talking with somebody. Maybe you have a brother, or parents, or friends who don’t follow the Lord—think about the perfect verse for them, and then call them up and tell it to them. Say, you know what? I’ve been thinking about you and I was reading the Word of God and it says this, and I just wanted you to think on that.

And then you don’t have to go through the awkwardness of asking people to pray for you as you witness and never witnessing. You just share the Word. “I need prayer! I’m going to be talking to my [so and so] and I need prayer!” Yes, pray about it, but you know what you need to do and you know what you need to say, and just read a verse or two.

Q: What about when people don’t accept the Word?

A: Even when people do not accept the Word, part of its purpose is to reveal the hardheartedness of people, to reveal the judgment that God has against them. The thing is, we feel ashamed of Christ and His Word because of those sort of reactions and we shouldn’t—that is glory; that is Jesus Christ who was rejected for saying everything His Father told him to say. A slave isn’t above his master, and as Jesus went so we’ll go. People thought Him a fool. His own family thought He was crazy and wanted to lock Him up; but He was the Son of God.

Let’s pray.

Father, we ask that You by Your Spirit would cause Your Word to dwell within us richly; Father for those of us who lack discipline, give it to us; work it in us as a fruit of Your Spirit, that self-discipline we need in order to set aside time, memorize, recall, put into practice, move our mouths, and just speak the Word—give us that sort of discipline. And Lord, use us to speak Your Word. How amazing that you’ve chosen us as those who would go out and share Your Word. Lord, you could have angels do that, but you’ve chosen us sinful men and women to do that. So I pray that we would all be prepared. In Jesus’ name, amen.

This entry was posted in abortion, church, evangelism, faith, honoring God's Word, hope, love your neighbor, preach the word, stand in the gap, transcripts. Bookmark the permalink.

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