Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Holding Back Nothing that is Helpful!
 
(Acts 20:20-21 NKJV) “I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house, testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.”
 
Have We Who Teach today Been as Faithful as Paul?
Sometimes I wonder if we are teaching or if we are indoctrinating people.  Do we teach the Bible or do we teach as the Pharisees did? In Mark 7:7 the Lord says, “In vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
 
1.  Paul taught publicly as well as from house to house.  He used whatever opportunities presented themselves to get the message of the resurrected Lord proclaimed to both Jews and to Greeks (Gentiles or non-jews).  Paul always went to the Jews first but he never neglected the non-jews and was considered to be the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).  Are there people groups that we are avoiding in our preaching?
 
2.  There can be no true faith without true repentance but repentance is often misunderstood.  Repentance does not mean that we are able to acknowledge and turn away from all the sins we have committed and are committing before we can be saved.  Alcoholics can be saved before they give up drinking.  In many cases we don’t even know that some things that we do are sin until after we are truly saved.  Repentance is the change of mind that allows us to quit arguing with God and that allows us to believe God’s promises.  It will lead to a changed conscience about sin just as faith does.  If we had to turn away from all of our sins before we could be saved as some preach, none of us would be saved.  But if we turn away from what we “think is right ” to what “God says is right” we will be in a condition where we can trust the Lord for salvation. 2 Peter 3:9 seems to support this view.  The verse says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Repentance here keeps us from perishing as does faith in John 3:16.  So these are opposite sides of the same coin.  The Jews were told to bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance by John the Baptist and the non-jews were told that they were saved through faith which would lead to fruits much like repentance.   Repentance for the Jewish nation required them to admit that they had turned away from Jehovah to worship the idols of the people that they were supposed to destroy.  Once they acknowledged that, they would be able to worship the Lord and only the Lord.
 
3.  While Christians need to be taught how to live so that they are pleasing God once they are saved, I am afraid that we have forgotten that you can’t make a Christian by teaching people what Christians should do.  We make Christians through the new birth which is obtained upon receiving the Lord Jesus Christ by faith.  (See John 1:11-13).  We can spend all of our time on the moral issues of abortion and homosexuality and we might very well help some people to see that the practice of these sins is wrong Biblically.  But even if people quit practicing these things, they will never be in heaven unless they are “born again.”  In John 3:3 the Lord says to a very righteous man, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  John 1: 11-13 tells us that one is born again by receiving the Lord Jesus by faith.  That means that they don’t just believe about Him, but  they trust in Him.  That is a life changing experience.  Peter believed in the new birth.  He says, “Having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever (1 Peter 1:23).”
 
The Whole Counsel of God
In Acts 20:27 Paul tells the Ephesians in his goodbye message, “I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.”  The whole counsel of God includes both ceremonies that please the Lord and moral living that pleases the Lord.  But it starts with making sure that people are going to heaven.  Paul often referred to his own conversion in laying the basis for his teaching.  Others may spend their time on trying to make sure Christians agree with them on their pet issues.  I am going to make the new birth my pet issue and I am going to continue to preach that Christ died and was buried and was raised again the third day.  I am going to continue to preach that He is coming again. I am going to continue to preach that there needs to be a change of mind that leads to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ if we are going to end up in heaven. I am going to continue to preach that the popular way is a broad and crowded way that leads to destruction.   Unless the foundation is right, we are withholding truth that is profitable and we are not preaching the whole counsel of God.
 
 Bruce Collins
 
Meditation for the week of July 18, 2021
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