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Blessie’s Murder, The Murderer, And Christian Evangelism

30 May 2014 No Comment

blessieIf you are anything like me, you have been following the case of Blessie Gotingco, the Philippino woman murdered last week in Auckland.

It is one of the saddest and most horrific stories.

In a recent “update” on this case, the Herald reporter, at one point in the article, focussed on the family’s need for justice.

In fact, said the reporter, “the whole country is wanting to see justice done” when the murderer appears in court and is sentenced.

As I read this particular line in the newspaper, I felt the Holy Spirit prompt me powerfully and a collection of thoughts came to me.

First, I began to think about God and His take on “justice.”

Where did “the whole country” get its sense of justice from?

Being made in the image of God, they got it from Him, who is a God of justice. Isaiah 30:18 For the LORD is a God of justice.”

To be just means to do the right thing, whether punishing or handing out rewards or vindicating.

Just as the whole nation wants justice for Blessie’s killer, so God will act justly with every individual in the world.

He has to, because He is a God of Justice.

For all those who have never accepted Him as their Lord and Saviour, even some who go to Church who have kept Him on the periphery of their lives, who see Christianity as a compartment of their lives and not central to the whole, who have not done His will (Matthew 7:21, Matthew 12:50 etc), who are not the real thing, there awaits eternal hell.

This is a hard truth to swallow, but nonetheless, it’s the Truth.

When God sends them there, He will be acting justly (i.e. it’s exactly what they deserve, no more, no less).

However, for all those who truly know Him, who are related to Him savingly, there awaits heaven and eternal bliss in the presence of Jesus.

When God sends them there, He will also be acting justly. (i.e. this is their reward for having bowed their knee to the one true God).

Everyone on the earth is presently in one group or the other. There is no third group – only sheep and the goats. the sheep and the goats

What’s interesting is that most of the non-Christian people in New Zealand who are so hungry to see justice done for the murderer of Blessie, don’t realise that they have already been sentenced by God to death and hell for their sins.

At death, for those who don’t accept Christ, that sentence will become a reality.  Where did Jesus say this?

Jesus said in John 3:18 “He who believes is not condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned already.”

This is one of the hard sayings of Jesus.  Many people find it hard to accept and want to ignore it or pretend He didn’t say it. But He did.

What did Jesus mean here in relation to the Blessie situation? He meant that the mass of New Zealanders who are angrily pointing the finger at Blessie’s murderer crying “Justice!”, must realise that God is looking at them individually saying exactly the same thing.  That is to say, when they are looking at the murderer, they are looking in the mirror at themselves.

The tragedy is that they don’t know this.

They are oblivious.

And given the state of evangelism in the West, the vast majority will die oblivious.

The thought of all these people going to hell never having known the truth about their position before God, and the solution to their terrible situation,really moves me to action.

What about you? What does it do for you? Harden you? Move you? Or are you just indifferent? Or do you just turn a blind eye? Or what? Be honest, what does this truth do to you?  For you? What’s happening inside you as you read this? As you meditate on the truth of John 3:18? Is there anything stirring inside you?

The predicament of the lost moved Jesus to action.  Matthew 9:36 Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because Sense of urgencythey were distressed…..”

What’s interesting to me is the the vast majority of Christians inside the Church have never been taught this monumental truth that all those outside of Christ already stand condemned and headed for death and hell because of what happened in Genesis 3 with Adam and Eve.

That is to say, they have never been taught the doctrine of original sin i.e. when Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God sentenced them to death and hell.  And since we all come from Adam and Eve, their sentence applies to us as well. This might seem unfair, but it’s the Truth. It’s reality.

For me, this truth makes the evangelisation of the world urgent.  When this truth is lost, the nerve is cut, and the need to evangelise diminishes.

As I continued to read the Herald article, the Holy Spirit quickened another great Biblical truth to me, this time concerning the murderer.

The paper reported that the police said he was “..in a very distressed state.” 

Why?

He knows what’s coming.

He’s knows he is going to have the book thrown at him and that his life is ruined.

He know’s the whole country will be baying for his blood.

He will be feeling the anger of the nation upon him.

He probably wishes he could re-run the tape – that he’d never done such a terrible thing.

PrisonerHe knows he is in BIG trouble.

This is exactly how non-Christians are supposed to feel when they hear the “bad news” part of the Christian gospel.

They are supposed to get a revelation that they are in big trouble with God – because they are.

Knowing this is supposed to fill the lost with a reverential, Holy Spirit inspired fear of Him, leading to repentance and a bowing of the knee. They are supposed to cry out to God in the same way King David did in Psalm 51:4

Psalm 51:4 “Against you, you only, have I sinned, and done evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge.”

J I packer

“Revival” happens when a large group of people receive a revelation of their sin at the same time.

I have absolutely no expectation of a revival happening in NZ is we don’t sow NZ with the gospel.  We can’t reap from a field not sown with the seed of the gospel.

This is one reason I have such an urgency in my spirit to mobilise the Church to evangelise this lost nation.

A third great truth came to me as I read the Herald article, this time concerning the anger of the NZ public towards the murderer and the difference between this anger and God’s anger.

What’s interesting is their anger is coming out of their sense of justice! God feels the same way about our sin as well.

God’s anger is called wrath. The famous theologian J.I Packer (right) defines the wrath of God like this.

“‘Wrath’ is an old English word defined in my dictionary as ‘deep, intense anger and indignation’. ‘Anger’ is defined as ‘stirring of resentful displeasure and strong antagonism, by a sense of injury or insult’; ‘indignation’ as ‘righteous anger aroused by injustice and baseness’. Such is wrath. And wrath, the Bible tells us, is an attribute of God.”

Interestingly,  author and theologian A.W Pink points the following out about the wrath of God.

“A study of the concordance will show that there are more references in Scripture to the anger, fury, and wrath of God, than there are to His love and tenderness. How is the wrath of God different from human anger? The wrath of God is His eternal detestation of all unrighteousness. It is the displeasure and indignation against evil. It is the holiness of God stirred into activity against sin. It is the moving cause of that just sentence which He passes upon evil-doers. God is angry against sin because it is a rebelling against His authority, a wrong done to His inviolable sovereignty. Insurrectionists against God’s government shall be made to know that God is the Lord. They shall be made to feel how great that Majesty is which they despise, and how dreadful is that threatened wrath which they so little regarded.

TabooLogoNot that God’s anger is a malignant and malicious retaliation, inflicting injury for the sake of it, or in return for injury received. No. While God will vindicate His dominion as Governor of the universe, He will not be vindictive” 

Paul the Apostle knew the wrath of God and because of this he was doing all within his power to stop men experiencing it.

In 2 Corinthians 5:11 he said as much -Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.”

When non-Christians fear Judgement, and God, and experience Holy Spirit inspired guilt, they will coming running to Jesus for mercy and forgiveness.

Yet, in much of the Church today, these subjects (the wrath of God, judgement, God’s justice, hell, justice through punishment etc) are absolutely taboo.

The wrath of God is seen a blotch on the Divine character.  When they hear it mentioned, there is a secret resentment which rises up in their hearts.

It (along with the other so called ‘negative attributes of God) must never be mentioned, say many pastors, for fear of giving a wrong impression of God or putting non-Christians off Christianity. Many are even listening to non-Christians to get advice on what to put in the gospel message and what to take out of it.

Imagine if Jesus had begun His ministry by asking the people around Him “Now, what would you like me to say?”

The irony is this -  when we don’t mention these so called ‘negative attributes of God’ we are giving non-Christians a wrong impression of God.  We are hiding the fact that God is a God of Justice.  You see,  His wrath, the fact that He sends people to hell,  that He judges and punishes people – all have to do with His role as Just Judge of the earth.

Who are we to hide the true character of God from the non-Christian world?

The Truth is, without these so called ‘negative attributes of God’ the gospel is not the gospel.

The Truth is, without them, we are preaching another gospel, which is something Paul warned strongly against.

Galatians 1:8  “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse!”

We are told (mostly indirectly and subtely) in most churches that we must only mention the positive, “nice” attributes of God such as His mercy, compassion, grace, forgiveness, love, tenderness, beauty etc.

Another thought I had as I read the Herald article concerned the inability of the murderer to escape punishment and how this fact relates to the Christian gospel.

For the murderer, there is no way he can avoid being severely punished through the legal system i.e. he can’t avoid temporal punishment.

However, for the murderer, like all of us, there is a way out of eternal punishment (Hallelujah!) , but only if we i.e. the Church:

  1. With tears in our eyes, explain to non-Christians the terrible predicament they are in (i.e. the bad news)
  2. With great joy, explain how they can can be acquitted (the Good News).

Jesus, and what He did on the cross, is the “good news” part of the gospel.

Without the bad news, the good news means little or nothing to non-Christians. It’s water off a duck’s back.  The bad news gives meaning to the good news. It gives it a context.

Now here’s the point I want to make here. Today’s Church is besotted with telling only the good news. This is a huge mistake. 

The authentic Christian gospel must include BOTH the bad news and the good news.

The Holy Spirit uses both to bring people to Himself.

What’s absolutely fantastic is that the Holy Spirit will latch onto this sense of justice which is built into non-Christians by God to bring them to this place where they are terrified of God, and in a distressed state, which in turn will cause them to come running to Him for mercy and forgiveness.

 All this will only happen if they hear the gospel.

Romans 10:14 “How will they hear unless we go? Who will tell them unless we speak?”

We must get beyond just praying for the lost, making CD’s about them in song, doing research about them, and writing about how we love them so much in our mission statements.

If we really love them, surely we will moved with compassion, and go to them with the authentic Christian gospel and explain it to them with love and grace?

We have the solution to the terrible position non-Christians are in, but 98 % of us are keeping it to ourselves.A w tozer

Let’s commit to being people who proclaim the authentic, true, Biblical Christian gospel and who utterly reject all the other conterfiets out there which omit the bad news.  Let’s quit our hypocrisy by praying for the lost and singing about them but never going to them with the gospel.

It was A.W Tozer (right) who said this.

“Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of
late – and how little revival has resulted I believe the problem is
that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying God in evangelism, and it
simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain
precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get
nothing for our trouble. Prayer will become effective when we stop
using it as a substitute for obedience.” – A.W. Tozer

Next time you have a church prayer meeting, and you hear them praying for the lost in their town / city, ask around the group of people who have come to pray “How many of us have gone out of our way to give the gospel to a non-Christian in our town / city this week? i.e been the answer to our own prayers?”  Then you’ll see what Tozer is talking about.

john newton 2Let me finish with this.  We all know the hymn “Amazing Grace”.

It was penned by John Newton (picture at left), the slave trader who was dramatically converted to Christ.

John Newton, in this hymn, alludes to the bad news and the good news of the gospel.

Both the good news and the bad news are acts of grace.  Yes, when we explain the bad news to non-Christians we are being gracious and loving.  Please meditate on this truth for a moment. It’s a profound truth.

“It was was grace that taught my heart to fear (the bad news – it was an act of God’s grace and love that He filled me with fear through a revelation of the Law, Judgement, the wrath of God, and Justice), and grace my fears relieved.” (It was an act of God’s love and grace that He flooded me with relief through a revelation of the finished work of Jesus on the Cross).

Notice how prevalent “fear” is in this great hymn. Fear of God is a massively important Biblical doctrine.

We must, therefore, utterly reject the idea that is prevalent in so much of the Church today that ‘fear’ is not a legitimate motivation to come to Christ.

When the Holy Spirit fills a person with a fear of judgement, hell, and the wrath of God, it proves that God really loves them. It’s evidence of God acting graciously towards them.

Please think this through. Let me ask you four questions:

  1. If one man finds himself in heaven as a result of a terrible fear of going to hell, and another finds himself in hell because he never experienced that same fear, (because he didn’t hear bad news part of the authentic gospel), which of the two people, in the final analysis, the other side of death, is going to be the happier, the better off, the one not complaining?
  2. Will the man in heaven be cursing the fact that he’s found himself there, and cursing the fact that he was motivated by a deep and terrible fear?
  3. Will the man in hell be cursing those who never warned him? Will he be cursing those who never took the time, while he was on earth, to tell him of his terrible predicament before God? To tell him the bad news part of the gospel?

You know the answers….

P.S I know we’ll be praying for Blessie’s family. Rightly so.  What happened to her is just so shocking and horrible.

But let’s not forget the murderer.  In our hearts, if we are honest, most of us  have hated someone, even for a moment.

If so, according to the Bible, we have done what he did, so in the ultimate Biblical sense, we are no better than he is.  Let’s never forget this. We are all sinners in constantly in need of God’s grace.

1 John 3:15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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