29, Sep 8-11
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passed in class
Last week, as I preached, I noticed a young lady sitting
on the pavement beside me, Bible open on her lap, scribbling frantically on a
piece of notebook paper. I thought I knew what that meant. Usually, the note starts
out with a declaration of love for God, but quickly degenerates into "brother
you are doing this all wrong". I was surprised to read the note that was
finally handed to me. It read:
God Bless! Speak in a way that
praises our Lord, not these people! I will pray for you.
- The truth
us not afraid if scrutiny!
- Speak in the truth
- These people are
playing a game, but their war is not with you but with God.
on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's
schemes. For your struggle is not with flesh and blood, but against the
rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world
and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. - Eph 6:11-12
- belt of truth
- breastplate of righteousness
fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace
- Shield of
- helmet of salvation
- sword of the spirit (Word of God)
read it several times and am pretty sure it is an encouragement, rather than a
rebuke. So I am encouraged that a young Christian would understand the spiritual
battle we are engaged in. Of course it could still be a rebuke done in such a
way as to not offend. Any thoughts on this?
I had a short interaction with a recipient of my newsletter.
I have duplicated it here without identifying the individual. I would be interested
in any comments on the topic from my readers. My responses are in italics. Here
is the exchange, without any additional comment on my part:
miss the point about sin. Even if the individual sins, there is a mediator who
has paid the price for that sin... if they confess the sin and repent of it. At
that instant, they are in Christ. If they fall out of Christ by sinning again,
they can return to Him by repeating the process. If they try to use this grace
from God as an excuse for sin (Romans 6), God will turn them over, and they prove
they were never in Christ at all. So the sincerity of the heart of the born-again
individual is the center of God's attention and the object God Judges.
formula creates a works righteousness that does not glorify the Lord Jesus Christ
because it is not possible to escape from sin since we walk in the flesh (Romans
7). But even though we walk in the flesh, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,
but mighty through God... not through the flesh, as your formula suggests.
indeed it is impossible to cease, then rip this passage out of your Bible because
it says you can.
1Pe 4:1 Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered
for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath
suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;
2 That he no longer should
live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the
will of God.
3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought
the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine,
revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:
The issue is
not whether a Christian can sin. It is obvious that they can. The issue is whether
a Christian can stop. That is where most Christians are trapped. They still, with
their hearts, give allegiance to Satan by their words and their actions. The issue
is much deeper than the fact that Jesus has made a way to reconcile. A way to
reconcile to God after sin has been around since the garden of Eden. The issue
is what is Jesus' mission.
Joh 1:29 The next day John seeth Jesus
coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the
sin of the world.
1Jo 3:8 He that committeth sin is of the devil;
for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was
manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
did not come to destroy the Law, but to deliver us from it. He did not deliver
us from it by removing the punishment. That would be disannuling the Law. He said
He did not come to dissannul the Law. He delivers us from it by freeing us from
the sin that places us under the Law.
If you don't believe that
Jesus can set us free from sin in the flesh, in this life, then you by that belief
establish Satan as God. Here is why. If Jesus can not free us from sin, then sin
is of greater power than Jesus. If sin is more powerful than Jesus, then Satan
must have won in the battle between good and evil. Ask yourself this question.
Do you believe this verse? Mt 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying,
All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
If Jesus has
ALL power, then sin can not hold a man unless that man allows it and cooperates
I think it is you that miss the point about sin. One should
not be concerning oneself about the provision that God has made for failure. One's
mind should be stayed on the power that God has made available for success over
sin. If one focuses on the provision for failure, then fail he will. If one puts
his faith in success over sin, then success will be his end.
really don't see what Peter is talking about in the verse you quoted. Peter himself
learned to see his union with Christ from Paul and he did not hesitate to say
that what Paul was talking about was difficult to learn. But you need to learn
what it means to have what Peter called the "same mind" as Christ. I wrote
a book entitled (title deleted because it identifies the writer)
to spotlight exactly the point you are wrestling with. Read the following link
and perhaps you will begin to understand what it means to have "the mind of Christ."
(URL link deleted because it identifies the writer.)
Obviously to see my point it would be helpful to read the few previous chapters,
but that one summarizes the point.
but I am not wrestling with anything. As far as I am concerned, I already have
the mind of Christ. The point of ceasing from sin is that it can be appropriated
in this life time. It is not accomplished by works of the Law, but by the remaking
of our character by the actions of the Holy Spirit. It takes great amounts of
suffering, and maintaining one's testimony that God is good. Each trial, each
tribulation has a purpose in sight.
After a period of suffering,
I found that all sin ceased to be tempting to me. It was easy to cease from doing
that which was loathsome to me. Yes, you read it correctly. I ceased from sin
some time ago. Now, the righteousness I have is mine, but mine only from the sense
that my character has been conformed to Jesus'. He shaped me, He conformed me
to His image. I grew up into Him in all things. But here is the mystery. The righteousness
I now have I have by faith in Jesus. He shaped me in it, but it is not imputed,
it is actually mine.
1Jo 3:5 And ye know that he was manifested
to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth
not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7 Little children,
let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he
The end product of faith in Christ is that we
are made into His likeness, and we are made righteous. But that righteousness
is ours, because we are like Him in every way. He that doeth righteousness
IS RIGHTEOUS, EVEN AS JESUS IS RIGHTEOUS. We are the ones doing righteousness.
If we are sinning, we can not even claim to know Him.
not talking about some mystery in 1 Peter 4:1-2. He was talking about the very
hope of the Gospel. The hope of the gospel is not that Jesus will forgive us our
sins, yet still require us to languish in them. The hope of the Gospel is that
Jesus will deliver us entirely from sin, and as a result, from the just punishment
due to us for the sins we have committed. I do not fear the Law because of Jesus'
work. He worked me into righteousness, and I don't incur the sanctions of the
Law. I am not under the Law because I do not break it. It is not that I am having
to constrain my actions because of the knowledge of the Law. What is true is that
I do only that which my heart desires. But my heart is loathe to do anything that
displeases God. Consequently, I am free of the Law, and do only what I want to
do. But what I want to do is perfectly in line with the Law.
righteousness is doing only what the heart desires, but also desiring only that
which is good. A character conformed to Christ-likeness can do this. A character
that only has Christ's righteousness imputed to him can not. As long as Christ's
righteousness is still imputed, a man can sin again. It is only when Christ's
righteousness is fully replicated in a man that it becomes impossible for that
man to sin.
1Jo 3:9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit
sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born
Okay, folks, if you think
my theology is works based, I'd like to hear from you. I won't take offense.
from the mailbag
Dear Bro. Cope,
Praise the Lord for the report
(Issue 28). Let the Lord use you. We have been praying for the same thing. We
believe God is going to do some great things. He has been impressing in prayer
that we must have the faith that Christ had. He spoke and he expected what he
said to happen. We are believing for Pentecostal fire to come down and souls to
Keep up the good work, T
Tuesday and Wednesday, Sep 8,9
The weather was good, but for both Monday
and Tuesday, the maintenance people were repairing the steps where we preach.
This really cut down on the traffic, and the crowds were small as a consequence.
Usually, apathy does not set in this early in the year, but I could sense apathy
in the crowd.
I preached on issues of science, in particular the nature
of matter, and the consequences in the physical world if there was a fundamental
change in the universe. Yep, the change in the speed of light issue.
the most part, I addressed basic issues because there was a young believer still
harboring a love for evolution. I worked on Daniel for two days. When I first
began talking about the physical evidence, he began to listen. Earlier he had
tried to defend evolution using the standard evidences - similarities in morphology
and similarities in the gene pool. I think he began to understand when I pointed
out that most of what is put forth as evidence of the evolution of species from
a common ancestor is really the imagination of the one interpreting the evidence.
I say it is only in the imagination, I mean that all we have is two fossils as
hard evidence. All that the evidence tells us is that two animals died sudden
deaths and were buried rapidly in mud so that they were preserved. The fossils
are the evidence, the interpretation is not. When a "scientist" looks
at two fossils and they look similar, the ability to visualize that the two are
connected is not founded on physical evidence, but on the imagination. But when
that imaginary connection is put forth as evidence, it is not. It is wishful thinking.
began to understand. When I started to share with him the effects on the physical
world when the speed of light changes, he paid close attention. He was never told
this stuff in high school. In summary, the change is based upon measured changes
in several nuclear "constants": All of these "constants" are
interrelated, and must change together. If one changes, the others must change
also. The measured speed of light over the last 350 yearsChanges
in Planck's constantChanges in the rest mass of particlesHistorical
changes in the energy levels of light (red-shifted star light)Changes
in the orbital characteristics of cesium atoms - change in atomic clock
the speed of light decreases, the rest mass of particles increases. As the electron's
mass increases, the atomic charges increase. As the electron's charge increases,
it orbits the nucleus at a higher energy level. As the electron's energy level
increases, the light emitted from that atom is shifted toward the blue end of
the spectrum. Going back in time by looking at starlight, we see the spectrums
shifted toward the other end - red. By looking at the light from stars, we can
see that in the past, the electron shell's energy levels were lower.
current paradigm says that the red shift is evidence the shift is caused by the
Doppler effect as stars fly away from us. If this were true, then the red-shift
would change in smooth increments. But the observed red-shift is not smooth, it
occurs in jumps. From quantum mechanics we know that when electrons shift energy
levels, changes in the energy is not smooth but occurs in increments, called quanta.
The fact that the red-shift is quantized would indicate that the red shift is
related not to the velocity of the stars, but is related to quantum energy levels
in electron orbits.
After this discussion, I talked about other consequences
we could predict that we should see if this is true. First, the physical size
of atoms would increase. Electrons orbiting at higher energy levels would cause
the atoms to occupy more "space". What we would see on the earth is
that all matter would expand. But the expansion would not be uniform. The heavier
elements would expand more than say hydrogen.
This differential expansion
would cause differential stresses on the earth's crust, and would explain why
the earth's crust is so broken up. Little by little, pieces start to come into
place that point not to long ages for the earth, but for young ages. I think this
line of reasoning will tie together many disparate arms of "science".
For example, plate tectonics is supposedly based upon convection cells in the
core of the earth. With only a little investigation, this theory falls apart.
It is not a reasonable cause for the apparent movement of the plates.
atomic expansion would provide a plausible explanation for plate movement. In
addition, this scenario would also solve many problems with such mysteries like
the "Ice Age", and the undulating nature of sediment layers thousands
of miles from a plate impact zone.
I also had a good opportunity to discuss
with a young man why we preach confrontationally the way we do. It turned out
he believes in a Calvinism. Under strict Calvinism, evangelism is unnecessary
because those who are elected to salvation will get saved no matter what we do
or do not do. He could not understand why we go out, get persecuted, and hated.
I tried to explain the theology behind preaching, but his prejudices precluded
any progress, I was able to challenge much of what he believed. Several times
he was visibly taken aback when I quoted him scriptures that establish what I
was saying while undermining what he believed. I think he swallowed Calvinism
completely and without any holy skepticism whatsoever.
I met up with the group that preached at Penn State last week to
open up a new campus (at least as far as I am concerned). Lock Haven University
is less than an hour away, and I ought to have gotten here before. They had about
12-14 in their group. Shawn Holes is the main facilitator of the group. Click
on the picture on the right. They look like they are Amish or Mennonites, but
they are not. Their women were dressed very modestly. They begin their preaches
with a song in three part harmony. I tried to sing along, but figured I was only
detracting, so I quit. It was quite lovely.
of the young men jumped up on the wall where I had been told was pretty much the
free speech area. A crowd started to form pretty much right away. With so many
people in the preaching party, small groups sprung up right away. I don't know
about the wisdom of peeling people off the main preacher so early in the preaching.
There are several stages that a crowd goes through. First the preacher
has to find his "thread". That is the subject the Holy Spirit wants
to preach on. After the thread comes the "hook", which is the point
at which the crowd's attention is hooked by to the preacher.
Starting too early to focus in on small groups tends to detract from the ability
of the preacher to hook the crowd, and then to "cement" the crowd. Cementing
is necessary if you want to hold them all day. Cementing is when the preacher
becomes the only thing on campus worth listening to. I could tell these guys were
fairly new at preaching.
To the right, Shawn is taking a picture, and right
in the middle, the police officer came on the scene. I thought there might be
problems, because I had heard that LHU was a closed campus, so I hurried over
with my video camera. The officer though was not trying to shut us down. The fellow
that the officer was talking to was upset because the crowd was getting loud.
The officer asked
to tone it down, and we said we would. But everybody who has ever preached would
tell you that is a vain hope. As soon as the crowd gets rowdy, the noise level
goes up. The officer came back several times to ask us to hold it down, and we
Finally, after I started to preach, the officer came over to ask
if we would move to another location. This usually loses the crowd, but we agreed
to move a couple of dozen yards down the sidewalk to a spot in front of the Price
Auditorium. As it turned out, the acoustics were better, but in moving, we did
lose about half of the crowd. I started preaching again, but before I could get
the crowd hooked and cemented, a preacher from South Africa asked to preach. I
only got to preach about 20 minutes all day. There are down sides to preaching
with a large group.
is the area they moved us to. As you can see, if you have been following my journals
from Penn State, this area resembles the Willard building area in many ways. On
both sides of the steps. There were walls to sit on, just like Willard. Since
there was no foot traffic into the auditorium, we got to get up on the steps and
preach over the heads of the students. That is a much better acoustic configuration
when preaching over brick. |
police were very professional, and we had no more problems. My only problem was
that I could not preach. For the rest of the day, the crowd stayed below 70, even
though there was good foot traffic through the area. I will comment on that a
The day was rainy and cold. Once again, the preaching began with
a couple of hymns. Shawn started out and within a couple of minutes, he had the
thread, the hook, and had begun to cement the crowd. The weather was contrary,
and it rained off and on all day long. The crowd never did get very large. I would
estimate in the neighborhood of 30. But 30 is better than none.
you can see, there was a loud and proud sodomite contingent at this campus. Throughout
yesterday and today, lesbians were playing tonsil hockey in front of us. When
they did, the crowds would roar their approval. What a shame. They are so ignorant
that they will be judged for every word that comes out of their mouths.
did not get a chance to preach today. I observed. Only three preachers got to
preach, and then by 3:00 the weather deteriorated to a steady rain. Shawn started
out, followed by Jake (to the left), and then by
fellow from South Africa, whose name escapes me. Like I said, I observed. I didn't
think I was going to get a chance to preach, judging from my experience yesterday.
But I am fine with that. Instead I wanted to see if I could help in another way.
discussions with Shawn, I learned that he was the oldest, with three years preaching
experience. The others all had less experience. It was apparent from how the day
progressed. I had hoped that I could have had the chance to talk to Shawn afterwards,
but nothing worked out. In the future I hope to make time to share with Shawn
some of what I have learned over the last 32 years of street preaching.
don't think I am tearing down your work. You are doing a great job with these
young men. But there are things that years of experience teach. Since this newsletter
goes out to many other people, some of whom are also preachers, and since I did
not get a chance to eat dinner with you, I want to share the benefits of my old
age with you and with other preachers who might read this. Here is what I observed.
you started off preaching, you did a fine job. I mentioned earlier some of the
stages of crowd maintenance - the thread, the hook, cementing. Now let me talk
a little about a truly important phase. Possibly the most important phase of crowd
control is transition. Transition is how the crowd is transferred from one to
another preacher. After you finished, you had a good crowd, hooked and cemented.
You turned it over to Jake.
Now Jake has the makings of a great preacher.
But Friday in the rain, his transition fell flat. He lost half the crowd in about
5 minutes. Then, though he preached his heart out for another hour, he was not
able to get the crowd's attention back. I watched as toward the end of his message,
only about 3-5 people were even looking his way. Finally, he turned the crowd
over the next preacher, and lo and behold, he made the exact same mistake. He
preached as hard as he could but the crowd dwindled to only 2. Finally the rain
mercifully ended it.
What was the mistake they both made?
When I first
preached with Jed Smock, the first time he turned a rather large crowd over to
me, I proceeded to lose it in ten minutes. And I mean there was nobody left. Needless
to say, I was shaken up, and not a little embarrassed. Jed told me some wisdom.
He said that the first couple of minutes after a new preacher is announced, the
crowd can become unstable. The old preacher can try to adjust for that instability
by a grandiose introduction of the new preacher. But that is only a part of it.
The new preacher must come on like gangbusters. He must reach out and aggressively
retake the attention of the crowd. The new preacher has to impress the crowd with
the fact that he is every bit as interesting as the first preacher. Then when
he has the crowd re-hooked, he can cement the crowd again. When the crowd belongs
to him, and the crowds attention has been taken off the old preacher, he can go
and preach whatever he wants. But with a weak transition, the crowd loses interest
The first mistake that each of the young preachers made is to
go back to the beginning and start all over again. In worship, the worship leader
starts off with thanksgiving. That grows into praise, and then matures into worship.
The final stage of worship is silence before the Lord basking in His glory. Were
the worship leader to switch back to praise after the congregation has entered
into the presence of God, the worship union would be immediately broken, and the
spirit would back off. I've experienced it many times.
In this situation
after you had the crowds hooked and attentive, Jake started up with step one of
the Way of the Master preaching primer. "Have you ever lied...." He
did not discern the state of the crowd and try to take them from the state that
you had gotten them to. Their attention span was immediately broken. But then
when the next preacher came on, he too went right to step one of the WOM primer.
However, it is unlikely that he could have corrected the disconnect introduced
by Jake at that point. Especially since Jake, after he stopped preaching, went
right down into the crowd, right smack dab in front of the new preacher, and gathered
the crowd around himself. The old preacher must get out of the way, so the new
preacher can make the crowd his own. Jake became immediate competition by setting
himself right down in the center part of the audience and keeping their attention
Some rules of preaching ought to be that the crowd workers ought
not to interfere with the preacher in any circumstance. They ought to be around
the periphery, and they ought never to be in the situation where they compete
for the crowds attention. Outgoing preachers need to make the break clean, away
from crowd. If anyone has a serious question, they will follow. Otherwise the
interest draw of the crowd between the two competing preachers will split the
crowd. Once a crowd's attention span is interrupted, most often it becomes unstable.
When that happens, you've lost them.
The whole necessity of the preaching
is to forcibly hold their attention on the things of God. Whenever their attention
span is broken, the enemy is in there in force whispering in their ears to get
them to leave. From the enemy's perspective, the easiest defense against the Gospel
is separation. Get the sinners out of the "danger zone"
need to be paying attention to what the preacher before them is saying, so that
he can come into the "pulpit" and carry the message further. If they
go back and try to take the crowd back to a place they have already come through,
the crowd will disintegrate. The preachers have to be able to discern where the
Holy Spirit is leading the meeting to.
It will take time and experience
for these young soldiers to recognize and develop the skills that God imparts
to the preacher. Our weapons are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling
down of strongholds.
3598 N Atherton A , Apt 1
Port Matilda, PA 16870