Category Archives: Guest Posts

GUEST POST: A Life Guided and Cared for by God

By Jane Derrick

I will lead a free women’s Bible study at The Cove on Tuesday mornings Jan. 10 through March 20. As we study the book of Acts, we will be amazed at how powerfully and lovingly God guided and cared for the early followers of Christ. Each week, we will seek to encourage one another and to grow in our awareness of God’s presence and help in our lives.

Watch this video invitation we recorded with more information. I hope you will join us … and invite your friends!

Click here to learn more or to register for the Bible study.

GUEST POST: Seeking Jesus Like the Magi

By Kendra Graham

On Sunday after the Ladies Luncheon event, as I walked out of the auditorium at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove, I was left with the magnificence of God’s Christmas gift.  My cousin, Rachel-Ruth Wright, was invited to come to The Cove to share God’s Word, and that she did!

Matthew 2:1-11 speaks of God’s precious gift of Jesus to a sinful world.  Matthew 2:2 says, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews, for we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him!”

Rachel-Ruth Bell Wright shares from God's Word at the Ladies Christmas Luncheon on Dec. 4.

Rachel-Ruth shared how Heaven was opened up for the shepherds on the night when Jesus was born and invited them to the manger of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. But that same night, a star appeared in the east to the Magi, who were looking in the night sky. When they saw the star, they packed their bags and followed it mile after mile to where Jesus was.

How great a Savior, who comes to His chosen people, the Jews, AND to the Gentiles!  Jesus is for the whole world. “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes on Him SHALL be saved (John 3:16)” Jesus was born!

Rachel-Ruth reminded us that in a world that was unsteady, an economy ready to bust, oppression at its highest peak, Jesus came. Jesus who will shepherd His people (Matthew 2:6). Jesus loves us and cares enough to lead us, protect us and tenderly care for us as we maneuver through life.

Rachel-Ruth reminded us how the Magi sought the Child until they found Him, and when they found Him, they worshipped Him and fell down at His feet (Matthew 2: 9-11).  God’s Word promises us when we seek we will find – if we seek with our whole hearts (Jeremiah 29:13). Rachel Ruth asked if this Christmas was the Christmas God has whispered in your ear, “You have sought Me, and found me. Come today.” Today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2).

Ten women asked Jesus to forgive them of their sins! What a glorious day, to see God work in the lives of His people. Like the Magi, who went back to their homes a different way, these ten women went back to their homes, not a different way, but entirely different indeed. These ten women are eternally changed by the love of God revealed at Christmas. Praise God for His indescribable gift of Jesus (2 Corinthians 9:15).

Today, maybe you have been seeking like the Magi from the east. Maybe you have come a long way, through pain, suffering, times of heat and cold, but today, as you have read the message Rachel-Ruth gave at The Cove, maybe you are hearing God whisper in your ear, “Here I Am! You have found all you have been seeking!” Jesus is everything.

God promises in His Word “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness!” (John 1:9).  Will you ask Jesus to forgive you, and to clean your heart this day? There is no greater gift you could lay at the feet of Jesus than your sin that He died to cover. What say you?

Kendra Graham is the wife of Will Graham, assistant director of The Cove and associate evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Kendra leads a free weekly women’s Bible study at The Cove January 10 – February 21, 2012. Click here to learn more or to register.

Mark your calendars for next year’s Ladies Luncheon: Dec. 9, 2012. Click here for more information or to register.

 

GUEST POST: Be Filled with the Spirit

By Will Graham

Have you ever noticed how life’s distractions and temptations can change your spirit? Think about it. You go into work in the morning with a smile on your face and a song in your heart, only to overhear a co-worker denigrating your abilities in front of your boss. How do you react? Later you have an opportunity to work your way out of a difficult situation by bending the truth to fit your needs and cover your back. How do you react now? Finally, you see an accounting error that could add some extra money to your paycheck if you simply stay quiet and do nothing. With all of these frustrations and temptations piling up, you probably would not be feeling overly spiritual at that point.

The fact of the matter is that in our fast-paced society, with so many different distractions around every corner, it is easy to be filled with a worldly mindset and not filled with the Holy Spirit. That, however, is no excuse. Frankly, we are commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What does this mean? It means that you are to be under the total influence of the Holy Spirit—God, dwelling in you, ordering your steps.

Stephen, the first Christian martyr in the Scriptures, gives a beautiful picture of someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit. Acts 6:3 and 7:54-8:1 offer a few key characteristics in this example of a man who was facing the cold reality of death at the hands of an angry mob.

First, someone who is filled with the Holy Spirit is of good report (6:3). It is not that having good report—being known by others as virtuous and pure—fills you with the Holy Spirit, but it is the Holy Spirit that allows you to have this trait. The Sanhedrin were opposite of this. They called murderers, betrayers, stubborn, and disobedient (7:51-53). Why?  Because they resisted the Holy Spirit. They wanted nothing to do with the Holy Spirit.

Second, unlike the Sanhedrin, those who are filled with the Holy Spirit welcome the truth (7:55-56). Stephen sees Christ standing at the right hand of God, and he commits his spirit to God. He was glad to see Jesus and trust Him with his spirit. Those who are not filled with the Spirit were the same ones that—in verse 57—began to “cry out in a loud voice” because they heard truth and wanted to drown it out by their own words.  They also covered their ears, trying to prevent the truth from affecting them.

Finally, those who are filled with the Holy Spirit will intercede for others (7:60). Stephen was falsely accused, falsely arrested, and was about to be stoned, and yet he prayed for those who were about to stone him. What compassion! The only way Stephen could do this was because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. This was not a one-time deal but a way of life for Stephen. Acts 6:3, 5, 8 and 7:55 all state that Stephen was a man who was filled with the Holy Spirit.

This needs to be a way of life for us as well. Too often we only want to be filled with the Spirit on Sundays, and as soon as we leave church, we return to our worldly routines of mundane tasks, acceptable temptations or angry confrontations.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit—being of good report, welcoming the truth, and compassionately interceding for others—has a lot to do with your effectiveness as an evangelist for the cause of Christ. If you are someone who truly wants to reach the lost (a motivation all believers should share), you need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. If you have been witnessing to that friend from work, but then turn around and terrorize your colleague for speaking ill of you, or bend the financial rules for dishonest gain – My friend, you are doing more harm than good for the Kingdom of God.

Conversely, if you are living a Holy Spirit-filled life, in which—much like Stephen— you take the distractions, frustrations and temptations of this world and handle them with the purity, truth and compassion of the Holy Spirit, others will want to know what it is that makes you tick. They will want to know what is missing in their life that is present in yours.

My friends, be filled with the Holy Spirit. Eternity is at stake.

Will Graham

Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to proclaim the Gospel under the banner of BGEA. Will has spoken to audiences around the world. He graduated from Liberty University in 1997 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Religion and in 2001 graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. He currently serves as assistant director of the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove in Asheville, N.C.

GUEST POST: Let the Fire Fall

By Cliff Barrows

When I was 10 years old, my father took me to Yosemite National Park in California. And, there at Camp Curry (which is today called Curry Village®), the National Park guide was talking to us about Glacier Point – the face of the mountain that extends more than 7,000 feet above Camp Curry, commanding your attention from the valley floor.

He explained that on the top of that mountain, workers had been amassing wood and debris and had been burning it all day so that it was a huge mass of coals. He said to us, “Come back at 9 o’clock tonight and you’ll see a sight you’ve never seen before.”

Well, we were there. I had a hold of my dad’s hand. And, there was the guide, adjusting his signature park ranger hat. He was looking at his watch and said, “Alright, it’s 9 o’clock. Let’s listen. We’ll hear a voice from up on top of the mountain.”

All of sudden, we heard, “Are you ready, Camp Curry?”

Our guide cupped his hands and shouted up, “We … are … ready! Let the fire fall!”

And, up on the mountain, there were guys with pusher boards with poles. They pushed that great big pile off the ledge, and those coals cascaded down the face of the mountain.

We all said, “Oh, look at that.” They did that time and time again. They stopped it now many years ago.

But, in my own mind and heart, I know many times the Spirit of God has said to me, “Are you ready, Cliff? Do you want Me to pour out My power upon you? To let Me work in this area of your life so that I can be manifested? And, being convicted, I’ve said, “O God, I am ready. Let the fire of your Holy Spirit fall in my life as never before.”

Today, my prayer is again, Philippians 3:10 (in the Amplified version) which says “For my determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly, and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection which it exerts over believers, and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed in spirit into His likeness even to His death.”

Yosemite Firefall
Yosemite Firefall. Photographed by Richard Marklin on May 18, 1963. http://firefall.info
Cliff Barrows

Clifford Burton Barrows (born April 6, 1923 in Ceres, California) is the longtime music & program director for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. He has been a part of BGEA since 1949. He is best known as the host of Graham’s weekly Hour of Decision radio program, and the songleader and choir director for the crusade meetings. Cliff appears regularly at The Cove, including SeniorCelebration events and Christmas at The Cove. Visit www.thecove.org for more info.

GUEST POST: Mama says, “No So-Poppers”

By Jennifer Rothschild

The older I get the more frequently I hear the words of my grandmother echo through my memory. Mama taught me a lot through her life and words. I giggle now at one of her admonishments. In her sweet voice, with her Southern draw, she would say, “Honey don’t ever watch ‘so-poppers’.” As a young girl I vowed I would not — even though I had no idea what “so-poppers” were. As a young adult I finally realized the words “soap-operas” had gotten lost in her thick Georgia accent.

While that’s great advice, even greater wisdom came from her favorite scripture she would quote to me. “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you.”

Mama knew the power of words. In the book of Proverbs we see that the words of the wise are persuasive; that a person’s words can be life giving water; and that wise speech is more rare than gold and rubies.

I heard that the average woman uses 25,000 words a day. (That comes as no surprise to the verbally challenged men in our lives). Given the number of words we speak, we should pay attention to not only the words we use, but also the way we use our words.

In Luke 4, Jesus is in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. He has come back home to Nazareth to preach and to teach. After he has spoken, Dr. Luke tells us in verse 22 that “the people were amazed (or astonished) by His gracious words.”

A few verses and several cities later, we see Jesus again in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. This time though, in verse 32, He is in Capernaum. The response of the people? …”they were amazed, because he spoke with authority.” So Jesus was known not only for his authority, but his gracious words. Isn’t that what we seek as Christian leaders? When we speak the Truth, we want it to be authoritative, but we should also want it to be communicated with graciousness. Authoritative words should never be offensive, and gracious words should never be without power. If our words reflect His Word, then people will be amazed and astonished at the One who speaks through us. For this to occur we must submit all 25,000 words to him daily, and pray:

“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, Oh Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14)

And … as Mama says, turn off those “so-poppers.”

On Sept. 10, Jennifer will be with us at The Cove for a special women’s seminar called “Your Thought Closet Makeover.” Click here for details.

Jennifer Rothschild

Jennifer Rothschild is a celebrated author, songwriter, recording artist and Bible teacher. Diagnosed at age 15 with a degenerative eye disease that would eventually steal her sight, she is the founder and publisher of the popular online magazine WomensMinistry.net and has been a featured speaker for Women of Faith and other national women’s conferences. For more information about Jennifer Rothschild and her ministry, visit www.jenniferrothschild.com.

Praying for The Cove’s Future Guests

By Amanda Parrish

In a life often run dry by constant activity, the pressures of decisions, disappointments, anger and regret, many seek a chance to pause and breathe.

Giving participants this chance is part of the heart of The Cove. Challenging guests to relax, refresh and renew while growing and learning is an important part of ministry. This challenge lives within the hearts of staff members and volunteers. Beyond the greeting smiles, lies a heart of more than mere politeness. All incoming groups have been cared for long before entering the gates at the bottom of the mountain. Fully aware of life’s many challenges and difficulties, the staff and volunteers at The Cove commit to praying and providing for guests before their arrival and during their stay.

Nearly every department of The Cove, from office staff to house cleaning, has determined to care not only for the physical needs of the participants, but also the core spiritual needs.

To the approximately 20 housekeepers charged with cleaning the inns and cabins, scrubbing bathrooms and changing sheets is not just a necessary duty. Their goal is to provide a restful environment, relieving the guests of pressures and worries, allowing them the space to hear God.

“We are here to take the cares of the world away so they can focus on the Lord,” Tina McGuinn, who oversees lodging and housekeeping, said. “That’s our dearest ministry.”

Cleaning the sinks and dusting the furniture, these precious women dedicate much of their time praying for the participants. The housekeepers pray for the encouragement, the refreshment and the healing of the guests. They pray the teaching and quiet time will remain with the participants and be incorporated into life as they return home. They pray for an outpouring of joy, peace and rest. Their purpose does not lie solely in cleaning, but ministering in the simplest way. The staff’s desire is to help relieve the pressures of the world, allowing guests to be free to move toward the heart of God.

Deanna Sales, food service coordinator at The Cove, said the dining room staff prays for the guests as well. While greeting participants and serving their tables, the staff pray for the needs of the guests. Familiar with life’s struggles, each staff member can sympathize with the need for refreshment and a friendly, encouraging smile.

Before each meal, the dining room workers gather together, grasp hands and take a moment to share needs. Prayers for the refreshment of each guest entering the dining room, strength for the staff and peace for those “closest to eternity,” fills the small circle before the meal rush begins.

Kay Whithington, volunteer coordinator for the Prayer Intercessors at The Cove, also seeks to minister to guests and staff. “Our hope is to be a source of encouragement,” Whittington said.

This team of volunteers prays consistently for the staff and participants of The Cove. Walking about the grounds, meeting in the chapel and praying about the needs and concerns of all on campus is part of their ministry.

Office staff also grasps the opportunity to pray for the guests. Receiving a list of seminar participant’s names, each member of the staff prays for the group and for the individuals.

The importance of praying and caring resonates with many guests. Some face the difficulties of life and find strength to continue and others worn thin find encouragement to begin again. This is a ministry of caring ingrained into the heart and history of The Cove.

GUEST POST: Love and Relationships

By Dr. Gary Chapman

Mark was a successful businessman. He admitted that he was reluctant to call my office. “But I’m desperate,” he said. “My wife told me last week that she does not love me; in fact, she doesn’t even like me and she wants me out of her life. How can that be true?” he continued. “We have a good marriage. I’m a good provider. We have a nice house and three wonderful children. I love Suzanne deeply. I’ve given her everything she wanted. I don’t understand. How can she just throw away seventeen years of marriage? If I were a bad husband, I could understand; but I’m a good husband. I’ve never been unfaithful to her.” Tears are now flowing down Mark’s face. “Besides that,” he said, “we’re Christians and Christians just don’t stop loving each other.”

I spent some time expressing empathy with Mark’s pain and frustration. Then I asked, “Has Suzanne verbalized complaints to you over the past few years?” “She’s always saying that we don’t spend enough time together. My business is very demanding.” “What else has she complained about?” I inquired. “She says we don’t talk. When I get home, I’m tired of talking. I’ve talked all day and I need some down time.” “What else has she complained about?” I asked. “A couple of weeks ago, she said that I loved golf more than I loved her. That’s not true. Golf is one of the ways that I unwind and it’s good for the business.”

It was obvious to me that Suzanne’s primary love language was Quality Time, and Mark had not spoken her language in a long time.  I knew that there was no quick fix for Mark’s marriage. I wasn’t even sure that Suzanne was willing to talk about it.

The need to feel loved is our deepest emotional need. When that need is unmet over a period of time, we lose our romantic love feelings for our spouse. Then, their negative behavior patterns begin to annoy us. That is why Suzanne could say, “I don’t love you; I don’t even like you.”

After thirty years of marriage counseling, I am convinced that there are only five basic languages of love. Each person has a primary love language. If you don’t learn how to speak your spouse’s primary love language, he or she will eventually lose their feelings of positive regard toward you and will, in fact, dislike you. If you speak your spouse’s primary love language, you keep emotional love alive in the relationship.

Let me briefly describe each of the five languages.

Number one: Words of Affirmation: using words to affirm your spouse. “You look nice in that outfit;” “Thanks for taking the trash out. I really appreciate all the hard work you do.” “You are the greatest.” The scriptures say “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21)

Number two: Gifts. My academic background is anthropology, the study of cultures. We have never discovered a culture in which gift giving is not an expression of love. A gift says “She was thinking about me. Look what she got for me.” Gifts need not be expensive. Haven’t we always said, “It’s the thought that counts”? If Gifts is your spouse’s primary love language, it is not what you give but how often you give that communicates love.

Number Three: Acts of Service. The scriptures admonish that we are to love not only in word but in deed.  (I John 3:18) Cooking a meal is an act of service. Washing the car, walking the dog, mowing the grass, doing the laundry, changing the baby, and vacuuming the carpet are all expressions of love.

Number Four: Quality Time. Quality Time means giving your spouse your undivided attention. It is not sitting on the couch watching television. It is sitting on the couch with the TV off, looking at each other; or taking a walk down the road and talking with each other. It may involve a picnic or a weekend away. The important thing is the two of you are sharing life with each other. The next time you are watching television and your spouse walks in the room, put the TV on mute, turn and look at your spouse. Give them your undivided attention and you communicate that they are more important than anything on television. It is a powerful expression of love.

Number Five: Physical Touch. We have long known the emotional power of physical touch. Holding hands; embracing; kissing; sexual intercourse; putting your arm around their shoulder; putting your hand on their leg as you drive down the road; a back rub; or perhaps gently wrestling them to the floor are all expressions of love.

The key to keeping emotional love alive in a marriage is learning to speak each other’s primary love language. So how do you discover your spouse’s love language? Answer the following three questions. “How does my spouse most often express love to me?” If they give you words of affirmation regularly, that may be their love language. They are giving you what they wish you would give them. Number two: “What does your spouse complain about most often?” Our complaints reveal our deepest desires. Suzanne complained, “We don’t ever have time for each other. We don’t talk. You love golf more than you love me.” Quality Time was her primary love language. Number three: “What does your spouse request most often?” If your spouse says “Would you help me make up the bed?” “Would you give the children a bath tonight?” Such requests, if they come regularly indicate his/her primary love language is Acts of Service.

Three things are required if you are to be a successful lover. Number one: Information: What is your spouse’s primary love language? Number two: The will to love. Love is a choice. And Number three: Regular expressions of love, using your spouse’s primary love language.

It took Suzanne nine months of counseling to work through the pain, the hurt, the neglect and the lack of empathy exhibited by Mark. But eventually, their marriage was reborn. “If anyone had told me that I could have love feelings for him again, I would never have believed it,” said Suzanne. “But I do. He’s speaking my language,” she said with a smile on her face. Learn to speak your spouse’s primary love language and you too can live with a smiling mate.

Dr. Chapman will be at The Cove July 29-31. Space is still available. Click here for more information. A free live webcast of the first session will take place on July 29 at 7:15 ET on www.thecove.org.

Gary Chapman

Dr. Gary Chapman is the best-selling author of The Five Love Languages series and an international speaker on marriage, family, and relationships. The government of Singapore invited him to present his marriage seminar, and the Chaplain’s Office of NATO invited Dr. Chapman to speak to the NATO forces in Germany. Other engagements have taken him around the world. He has served for more than 35 years as senior associate pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC.

GUEST POST: Keeping Your Marriage the Priority: 5 Tips for Navigating the Child-Rearing Years

By Chip Ingram

I will tell any couple that the key to navigating those child-rearing years is to make your marriage your number one priority. My wife Teresa and I learned some things (through Scripture and personal experience) that I would like to share with you:

1. Keep cultivating the spiritual side of your marriage.

This doesn’t have to look legalistic or structured, but praying together and sharing your hearts is crucial to the health of your marriage. It looks different ways for different couples. Honestly, corporate devotions don’t work well for us. Instead, my wife and I each have our devotions and get together often and talk about what God is teaching us. This kind of sharing builds a necessary spiritual connection between husbands and wives.

2. Develop companionship.

It’s important to have fun together. This is the kind of thing that keeps the love alive. Youth sports, work and kid demands can very quickly crowd that out.

Of all the years of pastoring large churches, my wife and I spend much of my day off together. We go to lunch, goof off and have fun. Even in our earlier years when we were raising children we would usually have about three hours to ourselves. We’re still doing that after 30 years of marriage.

3. Build a structure for communication.

So, what do I mean by this? Here’s an example:

We, like most people, get paid every two weeks. Neither one of us enjoy doing the bills. So, we have made it a time where we leave the house, get cup of coffee, and write out all of our bills together. That way, we both know where the money goes and we are on the same page about our finances.

We would also spend this structured time to talk about the kids, and how they are doing … phases they were going through. So every two weeks, Teresa and I discussed money, values and kids, so we that didn’t find ourselves confused by going too long without talking about these things. We do these things that keep us on the same page.

4. Spend time with older, more mature couples.

Wherever we’ve lived in the past, we learned to seek out older couples who seemed to have a marriage like we would want to have and/or who have raised godly kids. This doesn’t need to be anything formal or structured, but proactively go after them. Go out to dinner with them.

You know that couple that is 20 years older than you, but seems to have more fun? Find out what they do!

And the couple that has four adult kids that walk with God? Hang out with them and learn what they did.

5. Be united in front of the children.

Throughout my marriage, I would say our biggest arguments were the result of not being on the same page about discipline and consequences. She thought I was too hard on the kids; I thought she was too soft. When she would not follow through with what we agreed upon, it drove me nuts. When I would deliver consequences that she did not agree with, it drove her nuts.

Then we decided that we would agree in private on discipline and consequences so that we could, in public, stand before the kids with a united front.

Chip is coming to The Cove this weekend to teach couples biblical principles of parenting. Space is still available for this specially priced retreat. For more information or to register online, click here. Chip caught up with BillyGraham.org. Click here to read more about “raising up parents” and the upcoming seminar at The Cove.

Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram is an accomplished author and the senior pastor of Venture Christian Church in Los Gatos, Calif. He is also president and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international discipleship media ministry that provides teaching through radio, TV, and interactive online discipleship pathways. For more information about Chip and Living on the Edge, visit www.livingontheedge.org.

GUEST POST: The Call to Give an Answer

By Alex McFarland

Doubts and questions about God and the Bible are nothing new. There have always been skeptics. Some are sincere yet misguided, while others are unwilling to embrace the truth once they’ve encountered it. Others simply have an axe to grind.

A number of websites (many of which are aimed at teens) are devoted to debunking the Bible. Books like The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, or Bart Ehrmann’s Misquoting Jesus have generated media coverage for “the new atheism.”

Consequently, many of the questions raised by these high-profile skeptics are also on the minds of skeptics with whom I interact.  During the course of planning this special conference at The Cove, here is one of the more common questions on the minds of people I encounter:

What about those who haven’t heard of Christ?

The Scriptures are clear that those who believe in Jesus will be saved (John 1:12).  But what about those in un-reached people groups?

The fact is that God has not forgotten the un-reached peoples. I Timothy 2:4 clearly states that God “wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”  Acts 17:26-27 says that God has determined the times and places for everyone to live “so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).

Scripture and contemporary missionary evidence support the claim that those who seek God based on the light they have will be given the knowledge of the Gospel in some way, even if this is supernatural (like the Gentile Cornelius, found in Acts 10).  This conclusion has been held by Christian thinkers ancient and recent, such as Thomas Aquinas, James Arminius, to modern theologians like Ronald Nash and Robert Lightner.  This view satisfies the claim that a loving God would make salvation universally available, but it avoids the problematic claim of inclusivism that people can be saved without knowledge of the gospel.

A striking example from modern missions that supports such a position is related by Don Richardson in the book Eternity In Their Hearts.  A man named Warrasa Wange from the Gedeo people of Ethiopia cried out to “Magano” (his tribe’s notion of the highest and most benevolent Deity). Warrasa asked the Deity to reveal himself.

Almost immediately, he began having visions of two white men building shelters under a large tree in his village.  A voice in the visions told him, “These men will bring you a message from Magano, the God you seek. Wait for them.”  Eight years later, two Canadian missionaries came to Warrasa’s village and met him under the same tree he saw in his vision. The missionaries shared the gospel and Warrasa and many of his fellow tribesmen believed.  I believe that this is a compelling example of God getting the Gospel to a person who honestly sought after Him based on the “light” he had. But what is important is that his salvation was based on the gospel he believed, not just on the “light” he had.

Beyond this the Bible does not clearly teach what will happen to those who never receive the good news of the Gospel but do attempt to seek God. As C. S. Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity, “The truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are.”  The best a Bible-believing Christian can do is to trust in God’s wisdom, mercy and grace, and to suspend judgment salvation of the un-evangelized.  As the editors of Four Views on Salvation in a Pluralistic World conclude in their introduction, “These optimistic hints can never become a first-order control belief” because the Bible is just not clear on this subject.

In reality, there is only one person of whom you may speak authoritatively regarding the condition of their soul:  yourself.  As with so many things in the Christian life, C. S. Lewis offers practical wisdom for the situation: “In the meantime, if you are worried about the people outside, the most unreasonable thing you can do is to remain outside yourself. Christians are Christ’s body, the organism through which He works. . . If you want to help those outside you must add your own little cell to the body of Christ who alone can help them.”  The bottom line is that we can trust that God, who loves the whole world, will take care of the questionable situations, but our job as Christians is to bring the gospel to a world that desperately needs it.

Learn more about apologetics with Alex McFarland, when he leads a seminar April 15-17 at The Cove entitled “When Worlds Collide.” Click here for more information.

Alex McFarland

As a speaker, writer, and advocate for Christian apologetics, Alex McFarland has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout the US and abroad. He has preached in over 1,300 different churches throughout North America and internationally, and has been featured at conferences such as The Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Focus On The Family’s Big Dig, and California’s Spirit West Coast, sharing the platform with leaders such as Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, Dinesh D’souza,and many others.

GUEST POST: Apologetics – An important part of evangelism today

By Alex McFarland

Alex McFarland
Alex McFarland

“Christian apologetics” is the practice of sharing reasons why we believe what we do. If you’ve witnessed to unbelievers you’ve probably heard various objections to the gospel message. Some people are under the false impression that the Bible contains errors. Others wonder how God (if He exists) could allow natural disasters. Whether a listener has a legitimate question about God or tosses out a thinly veiled excuse for unbelief, we must equip believers to support their faith with evidence and sound reasoning.

Apologetics means “a defense.” Its Greek root, apologia, appears several times in the Bible. For example, 1 Peter 3:15 encourages believers to “be ready always to give an answer to anyone who asks you about the hope you have.” Translated answer and reason, apologia is an ancient legal term meaning—you guessed it—“a defense.” That same word is found in Philippians 1:7 where Paul said he was prepared to defend the gospel. The principle is also echoed in Jude 3 as believers are encouraged to “earnestly contend” or “stand up for” the faith.

Each of us has been given the assignment of not only presenting the gospel but also explaining and defending the truths of our message to the world around us. There is plenty of evidence to support what we believe. The Bible reminds us that the good news about Jesus is not just based on human opinion or someone’s personal preference. Christianity is truth, not mere fables or myths (2 Peter 1:16). Romans 1:4 says that Jesus’ resurrection shows He was the unique Son of God. Acts 1:3 says that, after His resurrection, Christ showed He was alive by many undeniable proofs.

Christianity is unique in that it is the only faith system based on historical facts that can be thoroughly investigated. We have verifiable words and events, including the bold claims of Jesus Himself. When a non-Christian says “You have no right to judge me” they are absolutely correct. But Jesus has evaluated the entire human race and His Word sums it up for each of us: “You must be born again” (John 3:3-20). It’s there in black and white, yet people risk eternity by trusting their own opinion about what it means to be in right relation to God. If we hope to reach them we need to be armed, not to win arguments but to win souls.

Learn more about apologetics with Alex McFarland, when he leads a seminar April 15-17 at The Cove entitled “When Worlds Collide.” Click here for more information.

Alex McFarlandAs a speaker, writer, and advocate for Christian apologetics, Alex McFarland has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout the US and abroad. He has preached in over 1,300 different churches throughout North America and internationally, and has been featured at conferences such as The Billy Graham School of Evangelism, Focus On The Family’s Big Dig, and California’s Spirit West Coast, sharing the platform with leaders such as Chuck Colson, Josh McDowell, Dinesh D’souza,and many others.