Monday, September 27, 2021


“He who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30

Hello Friends:

How in the world are you? Welcome to the website. 

The last few weeks I’ve been posting about the Evangelism training sessions from the Dallas Theological Seminary. I want to, however, divert a little off that path this morning.

Lately I’ve been feeling a little tension. I’ll call it the “The ‘Why’ Tension”. It’s difficult for me to explain where it comes from, and if it’s something to take seriously, and even whether I should tell anyone else about it. I think it may be from the Holy Spirit, but I’m hesitant to declare that this “why” tension is directly Holy Spirit driven.

My tension started after Covid hit and we were subjected to lockdowns and most churches went to online services. I noticed in these online services that most churches have only a smattering of older senior citizens attending, with a few younger ones sprinkled in.

Don’t get me wrong. I love older people . . . in fact I am one. Leviticus 19:32 instructs younger people to stand in the presence of older ones out of respect. Many other Bible verses declare the reverence we are to have toward our seniors and the wisdom they possess.

So you might ask, Arlen, where is your “why” tension coming from? I’ll answer that I think it comes from the lack of young people in the church, and the lack of new people coming to the Lord.

Granted, there are some churches that seem to be thriving more than others. Some of them have seeker sensitive messages with cool lighting and acoustics. Some have dynamic children’s programs with charismatic children and youth leaders, but I wonder if these things produce real lasting results of people trusting Christ as their Savior?

It really hit me last night when I was watching a wonderful preacher and college professor talking about holiness. What he said was spot on, but again it was to a smattering of about thirty-five, likely older people, although I couldn’t see them, in a large church of possibly up to 750-1000 members.

Here’s where my tension comes in. The teachers in our churches may, or may not, show passion with their beliefs about scripture, and what scripture means. But I think what might be missing is tying it to the “why”. Why should we be holy? Why should our lives be set apart free from sin? Why should we talk about being blessed by God? Why should we talk about the Book of Revelation and the promises and curses of the Last Days that it contains?

I realize that after the book of Acts the apostles dedicated themselves to teaching topics like holiness, sanctification, how to reach the fullness of faith, and many other very important topics, and didn’t necessarily directly talk about the “why” of what they were teaching. I think it was implied that they wanted Christians to live better, set apart lives to be good examples to the lost.

I won’t question the apostles, their motives, and the behind the scenes happenings driving their teachings. God had a plan and fulfilled it through the apostles.

I think, however, sometimes God allows some tension and ambiguity to force us to trust the Holy Spirit to help us figure things out.

So I wonder if our teachers, leaders, and all Christians would do much better if we included the “why” in all or most of our messages. And I would go further to say the “why” is to verbally, straightforwardly tie our messages to evangelism to reach the lost, whether they be young or old.

For example, a Christian might say, “One of the main reasons we’re to be holy is so that we might show the difference in our lives to the lost people around us.” Or, “We’re studying the Book of Revelation to try to understand the importance of it, and how we should try to reach as many lost people as possible so they can avoid the consequences of the Last Days.”

I think these simple strategies would not only be exciting, but it would focus us, and the Christians around us, to reach lost people, young and old, for Christ.

See you next time,

Tuesday, September 14, 2021



Hello Friends:

Welcome to the website. Remember again Proverbs 11:30 that says, “He who wins souls is wise.”

Last week we discussed Evangelism Session #3 by Dr. Barry Jones, a Dallas Theological Seminary professor. I entitled the post “God’s Unfolding Cosmic Story!” Dr. Jones talked about the term “evangelism”, and how it plays a major part in God’s cosmic story.

Session #4 this week is entitled by Dr. Jones “What is the Gospel?” I especially want to focus on what Dr. Jones talked about toward the end of his session, so I entitled my post, “Sharing the Gospel: Synchronic, Left-Brain Approach Versus Diachronic Right-Brain Approach”. We'll talk about what these mean a little later.

Dr. Jones first explained what the gospel “is not”.
  1. It’s not merely that “life gets better with Jesus”. This he termed as a “consumer product” gospel, and that we can’t just buy what Jesus sells, and things will get better for us.
  2. It’s not merely “the minimum entrance requirement to get into heaven”. He said this is a “reductionist version of the gospel”, only taking into account what will happen when we die, and ignoring the broader aspect of what will happen while we live.
Dr. Jones then explained that the gospel is the “good news” of what God has done in Jesus Christ to accomplish his mission to “rescue and renew His broken creation”, and “to create and sanctify a people for His own glory who will one day dwell in His uninhibited reign characterized by justice and peace”. Dr. Jones uses this definition repeatedly throughout the series.

He discussed four of God’s original intentions for humanity:
  1. God wanted humankind to have a loving relationship, or shalom, with Himself.
  2. God wanted humankind to have a loving relationship, or shalom, with each other.
  3. God wanted humankind to have a sense of harmony, or shalom, with God’s creation, or created order.
  4. God wanted people to have a personal sense of shalom in themselves, and he wanted them to flourish on the earth.
Instead man went his own way into what one French theologian called a “cosmic rebellion”, or “treason” to the point where it “corrupted” and “ruptured” God’s plan for shalom. After this corruption nothing could ever make us good enough to restore that shalom. Only what Jesus Christ did for us as a sacrifice for our sins, and his death and resurrection could atone for the corruption.

Dr. Jones said there are three fundamental considerations of the gospel that we always want to communicate in any gospel presentation:
  1. “The reality of the human predicament."
  2. “God’s provision to address the predicament.”
  3. “Our response to God’s provision.”
Also, there are three fundamental points, or “nutshell” of the gospel, which is God’s provision to address the human predicament, are the following:
  1. “Jesus died for our sins.”
  2. “Jesus was buried.” (Proof that he really did die.)
  3. “Jesus rose again.” (Resurrection.)
Dr. Jones emphasized the importance of the title Jesus had of “Christ”. He said that Jesus was like a first name, but Christ was His title which means “Anointed One” who came into the world as a “liberating king”. Jesus didn’t, however, come to liberate people from government oppression, but He came instead to liberate the hearts of people from the bondage and corruption of sin.

Dr. Jones talked about Dr. Timothy Keller’s “Synchronic” versus “Diachronic” sharing of the gospel message:
  • Synchronic: is like the gospel in bullet point form. It includes more of the nuts and bolts elements of the gospel like what Paul wrote, such as “justification by faith”, “salvation by grace”, and other “personal” components.
  • Diachronic: is like the gospel in story form. It includes the “Kingdom of God”, and the “cosmic” trajectory of the Gospel. (Note: Stephen in Acts 7 used what I would call a diachronic storyline presentation of the gospel.)
Dr. Jones said that both synchronic and diachronic presentations of the gospel are very critical components of the gospel message. But he believes that the diachronic, gospel in story form might be a more effective way to initially share the gospel with an unbeliever, especially in a world where storylines and imagery are very prominent.

Dr. Jones said that the synchronic, gospel in bullet point form is very good in unpacking the gospel elements AFTER the conversion of a person. He compared it to unpacking a suitcase at the end of a journey when one reaches his or her destination.

Lastly, Dr. Jones said that we sometimes look at understanding scripture like a lab worker cutting up a dead frog, trying to understand its pieces and parts. This is what he called left-brain thinking.

Instead, he said that scripture is alive, and we can be inspired to encounter its beauty, emotion, transformational power, and the cosmic implications that come with it. This is what he called right-brain thinking.

Up to this point I realize I’ve been using a synchronic, bullet-pointed, left-brain presentation of the gospel. My Roman Road tract and systematic approach to sharing the gospel are prime examples.

I really don’t want to bog myself down with changing approaches midstream. But, I very well may want to give a diachronic, storyline, right-brain gospel presentation a try.

What do you think? I’d like to get your perspective on what you think is the best way to share the gospel.

See you next time,

Wednesday, September 8, 2021



(“He who wins souls is wise.” Proverbs 11:30 NKJV)

Dear Readers:

Last week we discussed Evangelism Session #2 by Dr. Barry Jones, a Dallas Theological Seminary professor. I entitled the post “Can I Get A Witness?” In the session Dr. Jones talked about our “divine mission” to witness to the non-believing world, and what the word “witness” means. He said as a qualifier, “It’s always necessary to use words.” But the first step in using words is to earn the right to use those words by “living out the truth of the gospel” so that people can see our changed and different lives of “justice and peace.

The focus this week in Session #3 is the term “evangelism”, which is under the category “witness” of the last session, which in turn was under the category “mission” of the first session. Dr. Jones said our role of evangelism plays a major part in “God’s Unfolding Cosmic Story!”

Dr. Jones quoted D.T. Niles, that evangelism is just “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread”. I used that quote in a previous post. He then said that Martin Luther’s last quoted words before he died were, “We are all beggars, that is true.”

Dr. Jones pointed out that our persuasiveness and charisma are not what produces results, and we in fact should not concern ourselves with results, because it’s God’s Holy Spirit that ultimately wins souls for Jesus. Our role is to just use words to tell Jesus’ story of His death and resurrection.

Dr. Jones told of his own experience one weekend where he spoke to a group of teens. He said the first night he was really “really feeling it” as he spoke with power and conviction the message of Christ, but when he gave the altar call not one teen came forward to accept Christ. He said the funny thing was that the next night he felt his message was weak and disjointed, but many, many teens came forward to accept Christ!

To further get his point across of the fact that only God and His Spirit has the power to change hearts is the story of Jonah, and that Jonah did everything wrong and was even “racist” in his lamentations about the people of Nineveh turning away from sin and toward God. In the end, however, Dr. Jones said one redeeming fact was that Jonah likely was the only one who could have truthfully told the story about being swallowed and spit out by the fish, being reluctant to evangelize Nineveh, and showing racism against the people. And in the story in the Bible Jonah didn’t make himself out to be a hero.

An interesting statistic Dr. Jones used is the fact that the average Christian has been witnessed to approximately 32 times before he or she gives their hearts to Christ. He asked his students about their experience in that 32 time “continuum”.

In conclusion Dr. Jones said that modern individualism has hindered evangelism. He and his students talked about the fact that while salvation is a wonderful individualistic experience; it can, however, cause us to "lose or ignore the cosmic dimension of what God is up to in the world”.

I don't want to lose or ignore that cosmic dimension of what God is up to in the world. Instead, I very much want to embrace and play a role in "God's Unfolding Cosmic Story” . . . How about you?

See you next time,