uncage it

lion

I want to connect a Spurgeon quote with evangelism and a book by David Helm and our study in Romans on Wednesday night. They really do tie together.

Spurgeon writes ‘The Word of God can take care of itself, and will do so if we preach it, and cease defending it. See you that lion. They have caged him for his preservation; shut him up behind iron bars to secure him from his foes! See how a band of armed men have gathered together to protect the lion. What a clatter they make with their swords and spears! These mighty men are intent upon defending a lion. O fools, and slow of heart! Open that door! Let the lord of the forest come forth free. Who will dare to encounter him? What does he want with your guardian care? Let the pure gospel go forth in all its lion-like majesty, and it will soon clear its own way and ease itself of its adversaries.’

The same sun that melts the ice, hardens the clay and that’s what the Word of God does. It attracts some to the cross and it repulses others. Our job as believers is to let the animal out of the cage when we read it and study it, when it’s preached and even in evangelism. We’re to let the animal out.

I don’t think that much of modern-day North American Christianity believes this. If we did, we’d quit hiding the Word of God. We’d quite leaving out the ‘tough stuff.’ I’d suggest that when a gospel presentation is given, Scripture is rarely if ever used, and if that is the case, we’ve putting our trust in something other the Word to do it’s job. Maybe a little emotional story will draw someone to Christ…maybe a well sung song…maybe a reminder of a believing love one who has died and the desire to see them again…

We were studying the book of Romans on Wednesday night and we have worked through the introduction and it’s like we’re going down into really dark territory in an elevator. After the intro, Romans 1-3 is very black and bleak and dark and we trudge downward into the wickedness of humanity. Romans 1-3 is the bad news and the reality is that we must proclaim how bad the bad news really is because it makes the good news so much more ear-screamingly good.

Many gospel presentations don’t bother telling you how bad of a sinner you really are. It skips the bad news or goes light on the bad news before you get to the good news.

David Helm wrote a little book called ‘One to One Bible Reading’ and I’ve mentioned it here before. He suggested that many times unbelievers will not say ‘no’ to studying the Bible with someone. If a believer would invest the time and sit down with an unbeliever on a regular basis, we’d be letting the animal out of the cage.

Sherry had lived a lot of years in her young thirty-something life. She was boozed out, drugged out, sexed out, gambled out, and partied out. She had lived life in the fast lane and as things got tougher she started to reach out to a Christian friend of hers from high school. They reconnected on Facebook and found out they were both living in the same city. Sherry and Tammy would have long conversations on the phone. Sometimes Tammy would pray at the end of the talks and other times Sherry would slam the phone down and weep. Tammy suggested that they start studying the Bible together.

They began working through Romans on a regular basis and Sherry started to get a handle on the depth of her own sin. They met most weeks from September til December. It was hard as they read some of those verses. The downward sin spiral in Romans 1 is pretty graphic. It seemed to get darker and darker as they read and then they got to:

[10] as it is written:
“None is righteous, no, not one;
[11] no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
[12] All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
(Romans 3:10-12 ESV)

Sherry was undone by her sin…but then they got to the turning point and read the following:

[23] for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, [24] and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (Romans 3:23-24 ESV)

The dots started to connect for Sherry and Tammy was patient with her. Sherry came to the conclusion that she deserved God’s wrath. What they studied privately was parallel with what she heard publicly at Tammy’s church. She heard the Word preached every week and some of it just didn’t sit well with her but she keep going back and kept being convicted. Was faith coming from hearing? She started to see how wicked she was from God’s perspective but finally saw that she could stand right before a holy God when she was justified in His sight. She was declared ‘not guilty’ before God when she repented and believed the gospel.

That was a few years ago. Sherry now serves with the toddlers at her church because she just loves kids and she loves to tell them the amazing stories of her Lord and Saviour. You will usually find one of two 3 year olds sitting on her lap with a Bible story book open. Tammy invested in her friend and the results were amazing. Not everyone who hears the Word comes to faith. Not everyone who studies the Bible comes under the same conviction to repent like Sherry did…but some do. And looking back Sherry found some of her studies with Tammy very hard but she needed to see the incredible bad news before she embraced the soul-saving good news. She’s so thankful for a true friend like Tammy who wasn’t afraid to let the animal out of the cage.

 

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