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Passing Of The Gay Marriage Bill : Why We Must Take Responsibility

23 April 2013 13 Comments

I have always said that the gay marriage bill would become law with the vast majority of MP’s voting for it.

Why was the outcome so easy to predict?

Answer? Because we as a Church have stopped proclaiming the gospel i.e. evangelising.

Only 2% of the Church now engage in Biblical evangelism.

And when the gospel ceases to be proclaimed, society rots.

John StottWho says so?

John Stott is one of many theologians who advocate this.  Listen to his wise and insightful words.

“We have seen that society needs salt [preservation] and light [reformation], but only the gospel can create them. This is one way which we may declare without embarrassment that evangelism takes primacy over social action. Logically speaking, Christian social responsibility presupposes socially responsible Christians, and it is the gospel which produces them.”

He goes on to say that when the gospel is faithfully and widely preached, it brings not only renewal to individuals, but produces in society what has been termed an ‘antiseptic atmosphere’  “in which blasphemy, selfishness, greed, dishonesty, immorality, cruelty, and injustice find it harder to flourish. A country which has been permeated by the gospel is not the soil in which these poisonous weeds can take root, let alone luxuriate.” (Dr John Stott, Issues facing Christians Today. Marshall Pickering, 1984, pp.69-70).

Charles Colson, former White House aide and Founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, gives the analogy of an oyster.

“Oysters make their own shells, so if the shell is badly formed, the problem is not with the shell but with the Chuck Colsonoyster. Likewise, when a culture deforms and decays, don’t ask what went wrong with the culture; ask what went wrong with the cult – the religious core.” (Charles Colson and Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? Tyndale Publishers, 1999, p.37)

To put it bluntly, the gay marriage bill was a judgement on us in the Church.

So severe is the judgement that God allowed MP Maurice Williamson to openly and globally mock  us as Christians.

The Youtube video of his speech has gone viral all over the world with over a million hits.  To watch his video, click here

In the eyes of the world, the Church in NZ has become a laughing stock.

God is saying something loud and clear to us through all this. But will we take heed? Or just default back to business as usual?

Brothers and sisters in Christ – we’ve failed miserably to get the gospel to New Zealanders, and the gay marriage bill is the result.

With 2014 approaching, the Church in NZ is planning to celebrate the coming of the gospel to NZ.

Such a celebration is completely inappropriate – as inappropriate as telling a joke at the scene of a roadside death.

I have never seen or heard of  an organisation throwing a party to celebrate it’s failure with respect to the priority of it’s leader and the rotting of the society in which it has been placed.

Instead, don’t you think we ought to be repenting (seeking God’s forgiveness for not taking the gospel to lost NZ) and seeking God about how to mobilise all the people in our churches to start being obedient to Jesus’ Great Commission? i.e. proclaiming the gospel through personal evangelism?

tornado

One thing the passing of this bill did prove and prove beyond doubt.

Prayer alone is not enough to stop NZ’s downward spiral, and nor are lots of letters to MP’s, or social action programs.

They will never be enough, and were never intended to be enough.

For most Kiwi Christians, these things have become a smokescreen to avoid doing evangelism.

To God, obedience (i.e. evangelising the world) is better than sacrifice (i.e. spending hours in prayer, abounding in good works, and writing letters to MPs)  (1 Samuel 15:22)

These things must always be in support of the evangelisation of the world, but never a substitute for it.

If we want God to turn up in a nation, we have to obey Him with respect to His priorities, not ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

And His priority is the evangelisation of the world. To read more about this, click here

To know what ‘evangelism’ is and isn’t, click here.

What was interesting too about the passing of this bill was that God didn’t answer our prayers in the way we would have wanted. God seemed impotent and powerless.  Why was this?  John 14:21 gives the answer.

This verse is key if we want to see the relationship between obedience and God showing His power.

If the priority command of Jesus is the command to evangelise the world (and it is), then when we obey Him in this (i.e. do His will), the promise of John 14:21 is that He will show us His power.

God where are youIf we don’t obey Him in this, we are sinning, and he’ll stop up His ears to not hear our prayers and turn a blind eye to all  good works and letter writing (John 9:31, Isaiah 59:2 etc)

How long is it going to take for us to wake up to these truths?

Let’s heed the wise words of John Stott and Chuck Colson before more judgement comes.

p.s. To know how to mobilise everyone in your church to proclaim the gospel, click here

PPS. Please forward this blog onto as many people as you can.  Education is a key to turning this situation around, whereas ignorance or turning a blind eye will just perpetuate it.

I am sorry to by cynical, but if I was a betting man, I’d put my life savings on the chance that, coming Monday morning, in the offices of the pastors of most churches in NZ,  after the passing of this bill,  it will be business as usual.

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  • Hamish says:

    Couldn’t agree more! The reason society is getting darker is because of the absence of light not because the darkness is stronger.

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    Hi Hamish, thanks for your comment. One of the reasons John Key and others voted for this bill is that 50% of NZ’ers agreed with it. The reason they agree with it is that they are thinking rationally and not spiritually. And not thinking spiritually is the result of our non-proclamation efforts. And so this dreadful cycle continues.

  • Eithne the Anglican from Hamilton says:

    Hi Julian
    I was so angry when this amendment was passed because of all the junk associated with some homosexuals.

    I stayed disappointed and sad for God for two to three days until suddenly two days running people asked me out of the blue how I felt about the bill and I was able to share the gospel with them and prove in scripture that homosexuality is against the teaching of Christ.

    So as we know and often it is said God brings good out of bad so for me this is opening a door in to conversation.

    On Saturday at a Lions garage sale I was sitting manning the children’s stall when I noticed a man near reading the herald.

    I asked his was there anything interesting in the paper and he told me not really and asked me about the bill.

    I replied flippantly that I was considering stating a campaign to allow me to marry my dog(don’t have one).

    He told there was a column in the paper addressing that very issue.

    He asked me what I thought and I told him that I personally did not care what they do to each other but as a Christian I am duty bound to hold up God’s teaching and so I told him how I felt.

    He replied that he had met some very nice Homosexual men who were kind and gentle and not like most men who when they got together they drank and swore.

    I of course told him that he associated with the wrong types.

    Try Christian men they are usually not like that.

    He also told me that you could take pieces of the bible and make them fit anything.

    So I quoted Romans which has the directive of what will happen in the last days that men would lie with men as they would a woman.

    So I asked him how could he take anything out of that but what was meant and he agreed.

    He told me he believed in God but the rest he didn’t know so I gave him my testimony and my physical and miraculous healing and how it is backed up with medical documentation and he was stunned.

    I asked how could I not love and give my life to a God who at the request of two people gave me a gift of hearing that I did not deserve and certainly had not earnt.

    He agreed and told me I had given him a lot to consider so hopefully he will.

    Julian, take care.

    Our church in Hamilton has changed since you came here to teach on evangelism.

    Last Sunday I believe people who you would not normally expect to admit to it when asked who had ever heard the voice of God stood up and admitted they had.

    I have never heard this in our church and I have been there since 1968. Be encouraged with what you are doing!

    Blessings
    Eithne

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    Hi Eithne, so nice to hear from you. What a great comment and testimony. Keep supporting Nelson as you guys attempt to mobilise everyone in your church to proclaim the gospel! :) Bless you, Julian

  • David says:

    Hi Julian,

    I wondered when you would comment on this issue ;-)

    I have to say I agree 100% that as the body of Christ we have all (especially me) failed miserably (over many years) to obey in this area. If we’d done our job properly we would not be having this discussion today. Parliament would be full of light rather than the dark pit of iniquity it’s become. I’m not sure that God has allowed Himself to be mocked though, fancy this might be the work of satan? Still, I am quite certain that Mr W has no idea what he is getting himself into and will reap what he sows at some stage (Galatians 6:7).

    Not sure that I can agree with you that our New Zealanders for Marriage group (http://www.newzealandersformarriage.org.nz) was ineffective either. Prayer through Jesus is always effective and in this instance very effective at getting 300 plus gay folk turn up to a Christian service! They heard the gospel, a true account of biblical creation (Gen 2…) and got soaked in prayer and worship to the one true God! I think our wee prayer vigil at parliament was very effective and awesome to be involved in it.

    As you know I’ve been sold on the need for personal evangelism since you and Tim got me into developing the http://www.biblein11.com site. Up to that point I was of the opinion that evangelism was best left to those with the “Gift” the “Pro Evangelists” if you like. How wrong was that? Today I practice what I preach whenever and wherever I can. The more I practice it the easier (and better) it gets and the more I love doing it.

    My involvement in this marriage issue has highlighted the need to sharpen my apologetics in the area of creation evangelism. If Christians don’t believe in a literal six day creation then we have no grounds on which to defend the current definition of marriage as ordained by God? I have been quite startled by the number of otherwise healthy believers who have brought into the idea of an old earth (millions of years), fudging biblical creation so they can “allow” God to use evolution as a tool for creation!

    The reality is that you can’t have the Garden of Eden prior to the fall sitting on top of a bunch of death and decay that we see in the Cambrian layer (http://creation.com/fall-curse-and-gospel). For me this area has become another key to my witness for truth without compromise. An old earth worldview denies Christ and weakens our position of marriage between One Man and One Woman as God ordained!

    Anyway, that’s my rant for the day… be encouraged, God is still God and He WILL work out His plan despite what man might come up with aye :-)

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    Hi David,
    Thanks for writing in. I still think prayer is over rated in the West in that it has usurped the place of evangelism as the top priority of the Church. Many are fervently praying and do no evangelism, which Spurgeon said was rank hypocrisy.
    Furthermore, the whole Christian community was praying for MPs to change their mind over the bill, but God in His sovereignty didn’t answer all those prayers in the way the people praying would have wanted. In essence, the Lord overruled and allowed the bill to pass. Clearly, He is wanting to get our attention. What’s Greg Simnor doing about evangelism at the Rock?

  • Alan Woods says:

    The sober truth is that end times are coming, we have to deal with the reality that we are not all christian and that the majority do not share God’s view, this is a profound indictment on our gospel sharing work.

    Rev 22:11 clearly defines the poulation of now. Rejoice, this is an indicator of the Lord’s return. No matter how much we want them to be saved, God’s wish is more so, he appears to have an understanding that surpasses ours otherwise there would have been a severe outbreak of smiting.

    Remember God is not mocked so it doesn’t matter what some puny politician says. My experience is like Eithne, it has opened up sharing the gospel opportunities. Paraphrasing 3 of Paul’s verses, , it is a small thing, get on with it. Preach the gosapel in season and out of season, just get on with it.

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    Once again Alan, well said my friend.

  • Bruce McIntyre says:

    Maurice Williamson quoted from the Bible, namely Deutoronmy “Be not afraid”. It is pity that he never refered to the Scripture that says ” The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, that is for all both the believer and the non believer. More sobering is the Scripture for the Church from Hebrews ” Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for our God is a consuming fire”.
    I personaly groan for the Church, as I beleive Jesus does, due to it’s apathy and it’s seeming lack of interst in the souls that are heading for an eternity without Christ or God as well as in this life.
    The Church now seems to be more interested in entertaining the believer rather that stirring them up to fulfill the commision that we are called to.
    I went to the Momentum conference in Auckland and brought the full series, which I have watched with great interest and enthusiam and have got really excited about the whole thing. God Bless Dennis and those involved in this call to arms, however, if this is all that happens then sadely it will produce little for the Kindom of God and His Christ. All it will be is another 70s’ and 80′s type crusade which will have a momentary wave of excitement, especially if you were ivolved with them, as I was. But it fizzed out as quickly as it came. As soon as the proffesional evangelist left it all but died.
    With this wave that is coming, which I personally believe is initiated by God, if the Churchs’leaders in Aotea Roa don’t mobilise thier people
    then it will simply pass them by and they will be left wondering what has happened or where they have gone wrong.Even though it will be quite plainly seen.
    The Church has got to get out of this state where the people are in the Church to gain Gods blessings in any of the situations that we find ourselves in and realise that Jesus didn’t save us to please us in all the wordly pleasures that we desire. He died that in us His Kingdom would expand and His authority would reign here on earth now.
    And reign it does whether we see it or not.
    But the Church must come to the place where it operates not according to our or the world standards but His.
    This means sermons that tell us that we are not here for our pleasure but to do His will completely.
    For to long the Church has been proclaiming prosperity and the healing ministry that Jesus said we would fulfill in Mathews account. But we do not hear enough of the sacrifices we must make to declare His rule and reign.
    Jesus said follow me in Johns Gospel,this means to follow Him in all His examples that He showed, not just the things that please us ie the gifts of the Spirit revealed in 1st Corinthinas Miracles, healings speaking in tongues, Words of knowledge etc but the full walk that He himself took on Himself even to death on the cross.
    When Jesus said take up your cross and follow me, that is exactly what He meant.
    The early disciples did this and I am not refering to just the Apostles because thousands have given thier life for the sake of the Gospel, and we the Church today must do the same.

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    I Bruce, I so appreciate you writing in. I think what you say about Momentum is very astute. We need to pray for Dennis and the other organisers of Momentum 2014. The following is a letter I wrote to Alan Vink who is working with Dennis. I was urging him NOT to simply run evangelism training events around the country without dealing with the underlying reasons people and churches do not engage in evangelism.

    “Dear Alan
    By God’s grace, we have a growing network of churches around NZ and overseas which are working at mobilising 100% of their people for personal evangelism.

    One church in the the US wrote just yesterday reporting that last week 40% of their congregation were active in evangelism the previous week.

    Another church in the Hawkes Bay is consistently getting 30% of their people active in evangelism. How do they know this? They carry out what we call “a great commission survey” each week.

    When people walk in the door of the church on Sunday morning, they have a piece of paper inserted in their bulletin.

    On the piece of paper they record their evangelism activity the previous week (i.e. how many people with whom they communicated the gospel, either spreading it or proclaiming it).

    The survey is anonymous. The papers are collected with the offering and tallied out the back of the church. The results are announced at the end of the service.

    Without doing this (i.e. without carrying out a regular congregational survey), there is no way a pastor can / will know how active his / her congregation is in evangelism.

    Research shows that unless there is accountability in a church with respect to evangelism, evangelism will flounder.

    This is just one issue of many with respect to mobilising churches into evangelism.

    Alan, as you know, I have been working at mobilising the church in NZ and around the world for over two decades now. Up until the last 4 years, virtually everything we did failed.

    By this I mean that we went into a church, undertook a training seminar, and left the church to put it into practice.

    Within 6 months, our research showed that the church had reverted back to default mode, which was a non involvement in evangelism.

    As far as I could ascertain, other agencies / ministries were getting the same results.

    Hence, only 2% of Christians in the Western Church now engage in Biblical evangelism.

    The book I wrote chronicles the research I undertook to find out why simply training people for evangelism doesn’t work.

    What we are finding now is that the ONLY approach that really works is a long term approach.

    Using a long term model, there are basically five phases to mobilising a whole church.

    Phase one is to educate the leadership of a church as to what it takes to mobilise their people for evangelism i.e. to count the cost / understand the research. For example, research shows that unless the leadership of a church lead by example in personal evangelism, the people, with rare exceptions (e.g. other than those with the gift of evangelism) will not do it.

    This is fundamental and foundational to success. So important is the role of leaders in mobilising a church for evangelism, I dedicated five chapters of my book to “leadership”.

    Furthermore, crucial terms like ‘evangelism’ and ‘the gospel’ need to be carefully defined. It’s completely naive to think that everyone in a church is agreed about what these terms mean. Furthermore, the definitions must be based on reputable scholarly research, not personal opinion.

    Phase two is to teach a series of sermons in a church which take a church back to the fundamentals of the faith. For example:
    What is a Christian?

    Why do we trust the Bible and view it as God’s word? How do we know what Jesus said was accurately recorded? How do we know the Bible has not been changed over 2000 years? etc. i.e. issues to do with the authority of Scripture.

    What happened in Genesis 3 that messed up the whole world?

    What happened on the cross which reversed the curses of Genesis 3?

    Are all people outside of Christ really lost or not? What does ‘lost’ mean?

    Heaven and hell. What are they like and whose going there?

    Are people who have never heard the gospel lost? What about babies / the intellectually handicapped etc etc who die and who haven’t had a chance to receive the gospel?

    How do we really know Jesus is the one true God and all other religions are false?

    Phase three is to teach a second series of sermons on what we are calling ‘the 12 lost truths’.

    These cover topics like:
    We’ve lost the biblical definition of evangelism.
    We’ve lost the biblical definition of the gospel.
    We’ve lost our understanding of the great commission.
    We’ve lost our understanding of how the lost are drawn to Jesus.
    We’ve lost our understanding of the mission of the Church (i.e. the mission of the Church is to evangelise the world)
    We’ve lost our understanding of the purpose of the Church (i.e. the purpose of the Church is to make disciples)
    We’ve lost our understanding of how the mission and purpose of the Church interrelate.
    We’ve lost our understanding of the Lordship of Jesus.
    We’ve lost our understanding of the chief motive for evangelising the world i.e. the chief motive for evangelising the world is not to win souls but to glorify God.
    We’ve lost our understanding of the authority of Scripture.
    We’ve lost our understanding of the universality of the command to evangelise the world.
    We’ve lost our understanding of the classic ‘two world view’ i.e. the extent of our usefulness to God in this life depends on the extent to which to throw everything on the reality and existence of the next life – life after death).

    Phase four is to train a church how to evangelise i.e. to equip them to “do” evangelism.

    Phase five is a execute a series of crucially important “maintenance” strategies in order to maintain evangelism activity and momentum.

    Each of these strategies is based on solid and reputable research.

    To put it bluntly, if we cut out any of these phases we’ll fail.

    By “fail” I mean achieve a long term sustainable result.

    Success is the creation of a new culture of evangelism, where evangelism becomes a natural part of the everyday life of a believer.

    Alan, you can see that simply executing ‘evangelism training seminars’ around the country (i.e. phase 4 above) is VERY unwise (i.e. wasting precious time and resources, inoculating people against further training) if phases 1-3 have not been executed prior to training.

    We must put an end to ‘ra ra ra’ and hype and short term ‘quick fixes.’

    We have wasted SO much money and time and resources in the past with gung-ho events.

    Nothing could be more tragic than to see “Momentum 2014″ take the church down this road.

    The Church in NZ has been beaten up enough with “over promise, under deliver” events in the past 30 years.

    The last thing we need is another one.

    You’ve been around long enough to know this.

    Every blessing

    Julian

  • Alan Woods says:

    Julian
    I have no issue with what you teach as you are well aware. The issue is phase 1 through 3.
    In Australia it has been impossible for me to achieve any measure of sucess with phase 1. In particular the need to lead by personal example. This produces the most inventive excuses imaginable which in turn leads to a lack of acceptance of need to actually be taught what evangelism and the Gospel are, after all, they are pasators and they know. Like you my experience is that they do not know and with a closed mind mentality are unable to progress. Interestingly enough, they, unprompted are prepared to launch phase 2, many do a good job. There does however seem to be a neglect of how the gospel is preached because of the above mentioned understanding shortfall and of course a total loss of phase 3.
    I have been working with a church for a while now and the pastor publicly proclaims the need to reach the lost, preach the gospel and all that stuff, has a few who go out on Friday night to publicly outreach (I will not use the phrase preach the gospel) but he gives an altar call along the lines “if anyone has seen what God is doing here today and you want to know him, (quote Rev 3:20) then beleive and he will come” and an invitation to come up fron at the end for prayer. He is sure he is doing a good job. This is his example. Breakthrough needed for pastors with the wrong mindset.
    The problem is not the content of your work which you know I support, it is cracking through these barriers.
    All the above comments have drifted from the original blog post re gay marriage. Individuals can be extremely effective when they preach the gospel. In fact, if an outpouring of Holy Spirit occured, the few people who do preach the gospel will pressure church resources of discipleship past breaking point. I have had one suburban minister ask me to stop sending new converts to his church. (seems they haven’t learnt how to behave yet, the new beleivers that is).
    God is good.

  • Julian Batchelor says:

    Hi Alan
    Indeed, what you say about ‘cracking the barriers’ is so true.

    This year we are inviting pastors to a ‘look and see’ weekend at a Christian camp so that those in our network who are changing the culture of their church can speak to them and we can outline to pastors how to change the culture of their church to make it evangelistic.

    This obviously will include discussion about definitions of key words and phrases like ‘evangelism’ and ‘the gospel’.

    This weekend will be a relaxed forum. It will be an opportunity for pastors and leaders to window shop and ask questions and dialogue.

    One of our key people here in NZ is a lady called Renee Tobin.

    Her and her husband head up evangelism in their church. The church has been attempting to establish a culture of evangelism for two years now.

    At this point in time, their church, a Presbyterian Church of about 200, consistently has 30% of its members active in evangelism each week. She will be the key speaker at the weekend we are planning.

    As far as I can ascertain, the key issue blocking phases 1-3 above is that pastors won’t submit to the authority of Scripture.

    By this I mean that the vast majority are bent on making up their own definitions of what evangelism is, what the gospel is, and what the mission of the Church is. What’s really interesting is they their definitions are all different.

    We are living in a time when ‘every man did what was right in his own eyes’.

    Somehow, we have to crack this one. That is to say, motivate and encourage pastors to live under and in the authority of Scripture. By this I mean that they would view the Bible as the very words of God, the only light we have.

    Wayne Grudem Grudem is a guy who holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge became research professor of Theology and Biblical Studies at Phoenix University in 2001. He describes ‘the authority of Scripture’ in this way.

    “The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God.”

    Unless pastors and leaders view scripture in this way, and submit themselves to it, our challenge will be enormous.

    Why don’t you come over for the weekend we are planning?

  • Alan Woods says:

    This is a good approach, tell me though, do you feel most pastors would be horrified to think they don’t submit to scripture? even though it is the real problem, and your inference that this causes the ridiculous definitions of evangelism and the gospel is almost certainly correct.
    Your inovative weekend sounds great. Keep me posted.

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