Saturday, November 20, 2010


Late last month I had the privilege of attending my first FIEL Ministries pastors/leaders conference in Águas de Lindóia, São Paulo. I, along with over 1,300 pastors and leaders from all over Brazil, was greatly ministered to on the theme The Way of God. God's way is not a new, post-modern/emergent way. In fact, someone has wisely said that we don't need to reinvent - a lá Brian McLaren - Christianity; we need to rediscover it. And rediscover it we did!

With speakers of the caliber of Dr. Joel Beeke, Dr. Steve Lawson and Dr. Don Kistler we were taken back several centuries to sit at the feet of John Calvin, the Puritans and Jonathan Edwards. I stocked up on several Puritan books, which I am currently reading. The wisdom that emerged from the pens - and lives - of those godly men (16th through the 18th centuries) is still educating us today! What a legacy!

I would like to now draw your attention to a very special program highlighted at the conference called "Adopt-a-Pastor," which is coordinated by FIEL for pastors in the Portuguese-speaking world, including several African nations.  Having spent two summer vacations in Mozambique, I can honestly say I have developed a deep love for the Mozambican people, especially the Church there.  We've also been to Cape Verde and Angola on missions projects, where the need for theologically-solid books is just as acute.  For example, a study bible that costs US $50,00 here in Brazil costs US $200.00 in Luanda! Of course the average pastor's salary makes it virtually impossible to acquire such expensive, imported items. Spend a few minutes watching the following video on the Adopt-a-Pastor program in Mozambique. Then, if God leads you to get involved, please follow up on that leading! There are some pastors - and congregations - literally starving for want of the good teaching that comes from good books! 

God bless you!

Saturday, October 30, 2010


This week Aïda - my wife - set up two appointments with two women involved in our Biblical Evangelism course that we're currently offering to university students in Niterói, Rio de Janeiro. One of the women, Brenda Ticiane, studies on a local private campus, Plinio Leite University (UniPli). Aïda met her on her campus and they approached two different students over the course of the hour they had scheduled to do evangelism.

Both girls were open to conversing, especially after Aïda demonstrated for Brenda how to use the Ten Commandments to appeal to the person's conscience.  With questions like "Have you ever told a lie?" in light of the ninth commandment ("Thou shalt not bear false witness.") and "Have you ever taken something that didn't belong to you, including downloading or photocopying things without paying? in reference to the eighth commandment ("Thou shalt not steal."), Aïda was able to show the women she and Brenda had approached that they were sinners ("...sin is the transgression of the Law" - 1 John 3:4 KJV) and subject to an eternal and painful penalty for their crimes (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). One student had claimed to already be a Christian, but knew nothing about the Bible and demonstrated an very unbiblical worldview. She was left with the challenge to "repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15), thus ensuring her conversion and salvation. The other student didn't decide to abandon her sin and place her faith in Jesus as the only one who "... died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..." (1 Cor. 15:3-4), but at least both left understanding their need for Jesus Christ and what they needed to do to benefit from his sacrifice: repentance and faith.

After her appointment at UniPli Aïda went to meet with Michele Estarneks, a Business Administration student on The 8-32 Movement's main campus, Fluminense Federal University (UFF). Michele had asked a Christian friend of hers to tag along and learn how to do biblical evangelism from Aïda, so the three of them first approached two women. They asked questions related to God's Law, but one declared, "I don't believe that God would send a homosexual to hell who only does good to his fellow man while allowing a horrible person who supposedly converts on his death bed into heaven!" Recognizing her comment as an attempt to flee the implications of breaking God's Law, Aïda wisely directed the student back to her situation before a holy God. Both had to head off to class, but not before hearing of the solution God offers in Christ.

Aïda, Michele and Michele's friend then approached a group of five women in the Biological Sciences area. All claimed to be Christians, but Aïda decided to verify their conversions using our biblical evangelism questionnaire.  All but one of the women confirmed they had repented of their sins and were trusting in Christ as their Savior and Lord, so it was good that Aïda decided to take them all through the questionnaire. The one student who wasn't truly converted now understands her true situation before God and what she needs to do to remedy it. Both Michele's friend, who was exposed to our approach for the first time, and two of the women in the group of eight that was evangelized in the Bio-Sci area of campus decided that they want to join our class every Monday afternoon! Aside from the obvious benefits to the unsaved - of Christians doing evangelism - our outreach efforts can be used by God to motivate Christians to "hit the streets" after getting properly equipped!

Meanwhile, after being out all of last week at an excellent conference for pastors and leaders (an annual conference put on by one of the better evangelical publishing companies here in Brazil - Editora Fiel [English site] - that publishes books by John MacArthur, John Piper, Al Mohler, Joel Beeke, Steve Lawson, Puritan authors, etc.), I was back at UFF this week preaching the gospel via my apologetics banner on "The Trilemma of Christ" (see Oct. 7th post) and training new disciples like André Orsi (Telecommunications Engineering-UFF) and freshman Filipe Gonçalves (Physics) in biblical evangelism.

One guy André and I approached was a former church member who had fallen away. After taking him through the Law, I asked him if he would be found innocent or guilty on Judgment Day for having broken God's Law. He said, "Guilty." I then asked him if he'd go to heaven or hell? He said, "Hell." I asked him if that made him worry, to which he answered, "Yes.  A lot!" I asked him if he knew what God had done so that he wouldn't have to go to hell when he died. He said he didn't know, so I explained the Good News of Jesus dying for our sins, being buried and resurrecting on the third day. I told him that, in order to benefit from Jesus payment for our sins on the cross, he needed to repent of his sins and place his faith/trust in Jesus as his Savior and Lord. I then showed him Psalm 51, had him read it and asked him if that expressed what he was wanting to say to God. He said it did, but because I sensed a bit of reluctance on his part to talk to God in front of us, I encouraged him to follow repentant David's lead and get right with God ASAP.

Meanwhile, André invited him to his church because he lives relatively close to it. Let's pray for Márcio... that he would truly repent and believe and get plugged into a good church like the one André is a member of.

All in all Aïda and I preached the gospel to 54 students this week - primarily at UFF. At least two of those were "ripe for the pickin'," and the others clearly heard who they were in God's sight (i.e., law-breakers and sinners under condemnation), what God did so that they wouldn't have to spend an eternity in hell (i.e., 1 Cor. 15:3-4and how they could benefit from what God did (i.e., Mark 1:15). In addition, each was given evangelistic materials to mull over after. And hey, we recruited at least three new students for our biblical evangelism course in the process... while giving hands-on training to some of those already enrolled!

Not a bad week, I'd say. Not a bad week at all!

Thursday, October 7, 2010


This week has been gear-switching! I put together a vertical banner on The Trilemma of Christ, based on C.S. Lewis' words in his little book, Mere Christianity (The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41):

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

Well-known author and speaker Josh McDowell diagrammed Lewis' argument like this:

Of course my banner is in Portuguese, and I added C.S. Lewis' quote at the bottom under the heading "Conclusions of a Scholar." I can assure you these kinds of visual aids really generate a lot of curiosity among students!

For example, the first day I used it - this past Tuesday, Oct. 5, over 70 people stopped to read my banner.  I was able to walk 40 of them through the argument, bringing in the gospel at the end by saying, "The most logical way to deal with Jesus' claims is to conclude that He was telling the truth about Himself. The other options present serious problems in common sense terms. If Jesus was telling the truth, He is God. If Jesus is God, by definition He is also  Lord over His creation. However, Jesus didn't make the claims He made so that we would agree intellectually with those claims. He made them so that we would make Him Lord of our lives! How do we do that? Well, we first have to recognize that He is not Lord of our lives because of our rebellion against His lordship. We demonstrate our rebellion by breaking His laws: for example, 'Thou shalt not steal,' 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' 'Thou shalt not bear false witness,' 'Thou shalt not have any other gods besides Me,' etc. When we break a human law, we're subject to the consequences. In the same way, when we break a divine law, we are subject to divine consequences. The Bible says that 'sin is the transgression of the Law' (1 Jn. 3:4) and that the consequences of breaking God's Law - or sinning - is the eternal death penalty (Rom. 6:23). In order to 'make Jesus Christ Lord of your life,' you have to first deal with your sin problem by repenting of your sin (i.e., 'changing your mind' to the point of hating your sin) and depositing your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, as the only one who can solve your dilemma (i.e., Because God is holy and just, He cannot let sinners into heaven and He must execute the sentence He already announced in Romans 6:23). Think seriously about this because, if you die in your rebellion against Jesus as God and Lord, you will not go to heaven when you die. You will end up in hell." At the end I gave each listener an evangelistic tract with The 8-32 Movement's e-mail on the back.

I can't express enough my satisfaction over knowing that I am declaring truth about Jesus Christ in the university context (and in a way they can relate to) as well as clearly presenting the biblical gospel (i.e., bad news + Good News + repentance + faith). God is also bringing Christians to the surface on campus who've been looking for a serious Christian group to plug into.

Speaking of Christians coming out of the woodwork on campus, we had our third week of Biblical Evangelism classes this past Monday. The group was down to six UFF students this week (several had time conflicts and/or tests), one student from a local private university (UNIPLI) and a Math professor from another private university (UNIVERSO). We also had two women participating from the church that is hosting The 8-32 Institute, Red Beach Baptist Church, as well as our two daughters.

During class Aïda and I asked students to put their evangelism training into practice by going out witnessing with us. Aïda set up appointments with two girls, while I set up appointments with three of the guys. Due to extenuating circumstances, I was only able to make one of those appointments, but WHAT AN APPOINTMENT!

I met with Stephan, an Engineering major, to go out sharing. Stephan had already concluded, based on his own studies, that he needs to be biblical in his evangelism. When he saw our poster on campus advertising The 8-32 Institute's Biblical Evangelism classes, he jumped at the chance to be a part! We met a History major by the name of Renato, who was studying alone before heading for lunch. Renato was an interesting person because his mother has been attending evangelical churches the past several years. Despite his mother's influence, Renato has chosen a different "god" - the god of Pantheism. When I read the following passage to him, however, he changed his tune:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Rom. 1:18-32).

After sharing the biblical gospel with him during our interview, Renato congratulated us for "hanging in there and patiently dealing with my views." He also said that my reading of the Romans passage to him made him rethink his concept of God. Our prayer is that Renato's concept of God will become that of the God of the Bible. We're also praying that God's Law will continue to have its intended effect, convicting Renato of sin, righteousness and judgment and driving him to the cross of Christ.

After witnessing to Renato, Stephan and I walked over to the main cafeteria on campus. We set up my Lord, Liar or Lunatic banner display outside a main exit. The curiosity level was not as high as the day before, perhaps due to the fact that many students had the opportunity to read the banner while waiting in the lunch line. Tomorrow I will cover some of the key points so that students will want to stop after lunch to "figure out" the crazy American missionary's banner!

To be continued...

Saturday, October 2, 2010

CALL IN THE MARINES - Reflections on Those Who Are "Takin' It To The Streets!"

I was reflecting yesterday on the, sometimes, shocked reactions I get from so-called "Christians" when I am open air preaching (a "nicer" way of saying "street preaching," but can include campus preaching). I remember one group that passed me back in 2007 on its way to an ice hockey game in Atlanta. One guy yelled out, "You're doing it all wrong!" Apparently emphasizing the justice, wrath and fear of the Lord was, to that guy, "doing it all wrong." Another time a lady reacted to my quotation of Psalm 111:10 & Proverbs 9:10, which say, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom." I was biblically justifying the message on my banner, which used "NFL" in the following acrostic: Need to Fear the Lord! The lady in question blurted, "The Bible doesn't say that! It says, 'The LOVE of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom!'" Such biblical ignorance!

I find it amazing what some so-called "Christians" will come up with to try to get you to stop preaching because, as emergent heretic Rob Bell so honestly puts it in his "Bullhorn Guy" video, "Bullhorn guy, I don't think it's working... I actually think it's making things worse... And to be honest, it's confusing for me, because you and I end up getting painted with the same brush." 

In other words, most so-called "Christians" - of which Bell is one - complain about street preachers mainly because of how it reflects on them. They are, frankly, incredibly embarrassed at the thought that someone might actually equate them with the "Bullhorn Guys" out there.

I don't know where you stand on all this, but I am an unashamed "Bullhorn Guy." Why? Because I, along with those who've preached before me, serve a very special purpose in the "Army of God." You could compare us to those who "soften the target" by "being the first ones in" when invasion time comes. Open air preachers are like the Army Special Forces who go in and take out key targets before the main invasion. Or we could be compared to the Marines, who pride themselves on being the first ones to "hit the beach" when the invasion begins. Either way, we serve an important role in God's Army. Let's just say that the success of an evangelistic mission may depend on what we "marines" do either before that mission actually starts or gains momentum.

Think about how open air preachers in the 18th, 19th and even 20th centuries were used of God to spark Great Awakenings and revivals. It is said of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, that he once preached open air to nearly 20,000 people (without a sound system either!) on the holiness of God. When he finished and everyone had left, there were 1,800 people unconscious and laying all over the field. They had been so convicted regarding God's holiness and their unholiness that the only way they could deal with the "pain" of the Holy Spirit's conviction via Wesley's preaching was to pass out.

Are you beginning to see how important the role of the open air preacher is in God's Army now? So, instead of questioning the validity of God's Special Forces, why don't we think about the benefits they bring to the evangelistic mission of the Church?

First, if it weren't for open air preachers, many people would still be clueless as to which standard God will be using to judge them someday. Let's face it, to say the things street preachers say in most pulpits today would empty churches of all but real believers, and that would be disastrous for the seeker-friendly, emergent and liberal varieties. In other words, there would have to be a lot of downsizing - and even unemployment - which is a price most churches are unwilling to pay.

Second, if it weren't for street preachers, many people would not understand why they really need Jesus. I mean, we have pastors and church members "hawking" Jesus as a cure-all for bad marriages, mediocre sex lives, rebellious teens, financial problems... basically, for anything and everything, including "Your Worst Life Now." Somebody has to tell them the truth regarding their rebellion and the eternal consequences they'll face if they die rebels without the blood of Lamb of God applied to the "doorposts" of their lives.

Third, street preachers prepare the hearts of the lost for the Good News. Let's just say we do the dirty work, which is something many Christians, conditioned by our PC world, aren't willing to do. For the most part Christians today are afraid to tell people straight out that they are wrong, dead wrong. We have gotten so used to hearing everyone else's opinions, but we've also gotten used to having ours "shot down" in the media, in the classroom, in the lunch room, etc. So we clam up when it's our turn to opine! That is sad, so we street preachers are actually doing you less-courageous brothers and sisters a HUGE favor! By not beating around the bush, we're providing you with all sorts of potential witnessing opportunities! My advice? Instead of running for cover like a cowardly soldier in his first beach invasion, take full advantage of the opportunities we provide! Storm the banks! The enemy is out of ammunition!

Lastly, although there could be many more benefits mentioned as to the role of street preachers in God's Army, is the benefit of emboldening Christians. The growing "street preacher movement," which is confirming false teacher Rob Bell's worst fears, is alive and well and serves as a reaction by true believers to the myriad of truth-compromising, unbiblical evangelistic approaches being promoted by so many. Open air preaching is biblical and, despite what the culture-first crowd may tell you, still incredibly relevant! Any time a Christian communicates biblical truth to a non-Christian, that is highly relevant! And as for being biblical, let's not forget that Jesus never said, "Go into all the world and make friends with non-Christians," or "Go into all the world and invite people to your seeker-friendly service." He said, "Go into all the world and PREACH THE GOSPEL TO ALL CREATION." Enough said!

So, the next time you come across a "Bullhorn Guy," read an account of one of his outreaches or watch one of his videos (there are literally hundreds, if not thousands on YouTube), try to think of him as a member of God's Special Forces whose role is to make it easier for YOU to share your faith! 

One last thought: Some object to "Bullhorn Guy" because they say he's turning people off. That reasoning totally ignores how the Bible describes people without Christ: DEAD (Eph. 2:1)! Think about that the next time you're tempted to underestimate God's role in a person's salvation. After all, if God doesn't show up, you can befriend an unbeliever all you want and he will NEVER become a Christian.  Acts 11:18 says that God has to grant people the ability to repent. Eph. 2:8 says that God has to give saving faith... as a gift! So don't give yourself too much credit for a person's conversion. At the same time, don't blame "Bullhorn Guy" too much for a person's continuation in sinful rebellion. It's called the doctrine of monergism, which says that a person's conversion is all about God and not us. Our role is to PREACH, because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

Friday, September 10, 2010


Today (Sept. 3) I took a step of faith and preached for about 2 and a half hours at a public university campus (UERJ) in a neighboring city (São Gonçalo). This is the first time I've preached at a university here as part of PEF and The 8-32 Movement (I felt led to preach at UFRJ in Rio de Janeiro the day after the Virginia Tech shootings while still with Campus Crusade. Some student even asked me if I was a Mormon!). Since September of 2009 all my preaching has been in downtown Rio de Janeiro or at public events, but never actually on a campus... until today!

To be honest, it was kind of frustrating because nobody tried to interrupt me by asking any questions or trying to refute what I was saying (which is normal on U.S. campuses). I think they just didn't know how to react to something like this, unlike the U.S. Campus preaching is just too new here still. When I finished preaching I went around handing out evangelistic tracts, which most took; one professor-looking lady didn't want one, however. I asked her if she had heard what I had been preaching, but she pretended to have been involved in a conversation the whole time. I do remember, however, seeing her sitting alone a good part of her time in that area - an eating area. In the spirit of Acts 18:5-6, I told her that her blood was on her own head while a girl at the next table started to argue with me regarding my motives and methodology, accusing me of breaking the law by discriminating against homosexuals. She even showed me in the Civil Code where I was supposedly being discriminatory. Well, that was just what some other cowardly students were waiting for - who didn't have the guts to raise any objections while I preached; suddenly I found myself engaged in conversation with 8 students - all women except for one rather large, effeminate male.  I was loving it!  Finally, some reaction!

After handling their questions and objections biblically and seeing them disappear one by one as they headed off to class, one female student was left. Based on a question she had raised earlier, I asked her if she was from an evangelical church (assuming that he might be a false convert). She informed me that she was into Candomblé, which is African Spiritism! I told her she was directly involved in a satanic religion and that the "spirits" they sought to "incorporate" (i.e., become possessed by) in their rituals were demons.  I showed her Lev. 19:31, which says, "Do not turn to mediums or spiritists; do not seek them out to be defiled by them. I am the LORD your God."

I'll never forget a former Spiritist-leader-turned-Christian who told me a few years ago that his wife had warned him that the Bible didn't approve of his being a medium. He challenged her to show him where it said that and, if she could, he'd stop immediately. She herself wasn't a Christian and didn't know the Bible, so he continued on as a Spiritist medium another 20 years before he converted! Hopefully God will awaken this student to the folly of her religious practices and convict her to the point of converting to Christianity [On a side note, most of the men who go through the Candomblé rituals become homosexuals, demonstrating a clear spiritual cause behind many homosexual lifestyles.]. At least I believe I gave this student something to think about.  Now she knows that the Bible prohibits what she's into, which most have never heard.

When I was leaving I was called over by a couple of campus security guards. They told me that there had been a lot of complaints to the administration - especially regarding the way I had confronted the homosexuality on campus, which is apparently rampant. I discovered that two professors in the School of Education are lesbian partners, while another lesbian professor recently adopted a child. Many of the guys on that campus look and act effeminate, while many of the women appear to be their "sympathizers." I preached that a "gay sympathizer" thinks they're being so loving by accepting their gay friends' lifestyles, but in reality they are being hateful towards them by contributing to their eternal condemnation! Hopefully God will use what I said to shake the "sympathizers" up a bit, not to mention the homosexuals and lesbians.

Back to the security guards: I was told that I could come on campus, but would need to get authorization to preach there in the future. I was thinking, "All I did was speak loudly (i.e., no bullhorn) and not near any classrooms. It sounds like, because they don't like what I said, I'll now have to get permission to 'speak loudly' on a public university campus that I, as a Brazilian resident, pay taxes to keep functioning." I decided to check with the campus administration to make sure this was the case and was told that I would need to submit a request in writing. So, I'm not sure if I'll be given permission to preach the next time, but I'll jump through their hoops and see what happens. I may need to line up a good lawyer if my request is denied. Or I may take a more low-key approach and hold a confrontational sign (vs. banner) to generate some interaction.  

Anyway, I just thought I'd share this good news. I don't believe God is leading me to travel around Brazil to preach on the campuses at this point, but the least I can do is get some good experience on Rio's campuses in the event that He calls me to go regional or national in the future. If He doesn't, the schools in the area will at least have the privilege of having a preacher visit them to preach, ideally, once a semester.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This past Tuesday (Aug. 24) I was talking to a college student here in Niterói (state of Rio de Janeiro) who felt all of us will go "to a better place" when we die and that God won't judge anybody.  Even when I asked him if he thought God would be just to allow Hitler into this "better place," he said that was up to Him.  At the end of our conversation, I told him that if he is right, I'll be fine.  I'll go to the "better place" too.  But if I'm right, he will end up in hell.  He was shocked and said, "What are you doing?  Prophesying that I'm going to hell??!!"  I told him that I wasn't prophesying anything unless he dies in his sinful rebellion, meaning he'll go to hell.  I then quoted Rom. 3:23 and 6:23 to back my claims.  Pray for Felipe, who studies Economics at Fluminense Federal University (UFF), that my words will keep ringing in his ears and that he won't be able to sleep until he runs to the Savior, Jesus!

Monday, August 2, 2010

My First YouTube Video!

I finally figured out how to upload videos from my iPhoto application (Apple OS), so I plan on sharing a lot more visual stuff to accompany my words here. One disclaimer: I didn't edit anything, so please forgive the profanity coming out of the mouths of these two drunk students. For some reason my blog layout cuts off part of the YouTube videos, so if you prefer to see the entire video, click here. Now, here you go!

Friday, July 2, 2010


The following question and answer are from the website. I thought it would be interesting to record these here plus my comment on the Got Questions blog. Since I preach the need people have to "repent and believe," I am always interested in these kinds of discussions!

Question: "What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?"

Many understand the term repentance to mean “turning from sin.” This is not the biblical definition of repentance. In the Bible, the word repent means “to change one’s mind.” The Bible also tells us that true repentance will result in a change of actions (Luke 3:8-14; Acts 3:19). Acts 26:20 declares, “I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” The full biblical definition of repentance is a change of mind that results in a change of action.

What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

Repentance and faith can be understood as “two sides of the same coin.” It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.

It is crucially important that we understand repentance is not a work we do to earn salvation. No one can repent and come to God unless God pulls that person to Himself (John 6:44). Acts 5:31 and 11:18 indicate that repentance is something God gives—it is only possible because of His grace. No one can repent unless God grants repentance. All of salvation, including repentance and faith, is a result of God drawing us, opening our eyes, and changing our hearts. God's longsuffering leads us to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), as does His kindness (Romans 2:4).

While repentance is not a work that earns salvation, repentance unto salvation does result in works. It is impossible to truly and fully change your mind without that causing a change in action. In the Bible, repentance results in a change in behavior. That is why John the Baptist called people to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8). A person who has truly repented from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ will give evidence of a changed life (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 5:19-23; James 2:14-26). Repentance, properly defined, is necessary for salvation. Biblical repentance is changing your mind about Jesus Christ and turning to God in faith for salvation (Acts 3:19). Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ.

My Comment: I too like your explanation of repentance, but I do see our need to repent having to do with changing one's mind in regard to his or her sin in some of the contexts that you brought up. For example, you mention John the Baptist's emphasis on producing "fruit in keeping with repentance" to support, rightfully, your claim that a change of mind regarding Christ will result in a change of behavior. But was John the Baptist calling people to a change of mind regarding Christ there? Christ hadn't even appeared on the scene yet. Based on the context, it is clear that the Baptist was calling his hearers to a "change of mind" regarding their sin. Two verses earlier Matthew tells us: "Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River." Let's see if we can find "sin" in the context of other "repentance" verses and passages: Luke 5:32 says, "I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Luke 15:7 says, "I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." Luke 17:3 says, "So watch yourselves. "If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him." Luke 24:47 says, "and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." The clincher: "I am afraid that when I come again my God will humble me before you, and I will be grieved over many who have sinned earlier and have not repented of the impurity, sexual sin and debauchery in which they have indulged" (2 Cor. 12:21). I did like your emphasis on repentance being as much a gift as faith is. And you "redeemed yourself" at the end by stating: "Turning from sin is not the definition of repentance, but it is one of the results of genuine, faith-based repentance towards the Lord Jesus Christ." Thanks.

Friday, June 4, 2010


The Roman Catholic "holy" day, Corpus Christi, is celebrated on a Thursday at the tail end of May or the beginning of June. This year it fell on June 3. Corpus Christi is an affirmation of the doctrine of transubstantiation, which teaches that the eucharist (i.e., communion bread) becomes the literal body of Christ while it is being swallowed. Likewise, the communion wine becomes the blood of Christ. In addition to the conflict this doctrine has with verses that indicate the Lord's Supper to simply be a remembrance or memorial of Christ's sacrifice for us (see 1 Cor. 11:24-25), this problematic doctrine essentially teaches that Christ needs to be sacrificed over and over again, contradicting verses like Heb. 7:26-27.

Along with our desire to lift up biblical truth to a world that will do practically anything to flee its implications, we knew that there would be a big concentration of spiritually lost Catholics participating in the annual Corpus Christi procession (parade). I met my regular preaching partner, Ednilson, in the part of downtown Rio where we normally preach. We carried the two banners we alternately use in our weekly preaching ventures and a bag of evangelistic tracts to the sidewalk along the parade route - just in time for the arrival of the first batch of parade-goers!

I had assumed that an all-Catholic crowd would be less hostile toward us than the Catholic-Spiritist mix normally present at the St. George Festival we preached at in April. Boy was I mistaken! Now for the "play-by-play":

Ednilson held our "You deserve hell" banner - complete with Rev. 21:8 (to justify the affirmation above it) - while I held the 10 Commandments banner and preached with my bullhorn. Things were going pretty smoothly while everyone in the procession, including the archbishop of Rio de Janeiro (click here to see a powerful slide show depicting the deception present in Catholicism), had the opportunity to read our banners and hear our preaching. But as the procession passed us the crowd at the end fanned out, spilling over onto the sidewalk. Suddenly we were SURROUNDED! Ednilson had the tracts he was handing out knocked to the ground by an angry Catholic guy, while another man knocked our bag of tracts off a concrete shelf next to us. Later that same man tried to knock this bag of tracts out of my hand while I talked with a police officer!

Some women and other men started to get pretty hot under the collar over our being there - their faces were transformed with rage - so much so that the municipal guards came up to talk with us. I was thinking, "Okay, here we go! Time to pack it up and call it a day." Two guards began to pull our banners away from the crowds, insisting that we roll them up and put them away. I protested that we were on a public sidewalk and that the procession had already passed. I reminded them that if we had to pack it up and leave, our rights under the Brazilian equivalent to the First Amendment would be infringed upon. I tried to stress that their duty was to protect us from those who would deny us our constitutional rights as we exercised them. However, in our experience the authorities prefer to resolve this kind of problem by removing the source of it, especially since the source of the problem is usually in the minority.

While we were negotiating, three "higher ups" arrived and thankfully pulled the guards aside and apparently told them to back off. At that point two policemen came up to speak with me; I was expecting that they'd give us a hard time too. However, they were very understanding of our rights and only suggested that we move away from our spot to reduce the tension. I insisted that if we did that, it would be our rights that would be violated. They were cool.

Ednilson then reminded me that since the parade had already passed and the thousands in it had already read our banners and heard our preaching, we could pack it up. I agreed, so we moved to the side of a building to break down our banner frames, roll up our banners and put everything away. As we were packing our things another policeman came up and said he'd have to arrest us and put us in jail for "religious intolerance" if we showed up in the vicinity of the Corpus Christi rally at the end of the parade route. I asked him how our banners - with bible verses on them and being unfurled at a supposedly "Christian" event - could be considered "religious intolerance," but his response was just that it was, end of story! We decided not to test him since we had already been able to expose the whole crowd - several thousand people, including priests, nuns and Rio's archbishop - along the route.

Several "side shows" developed during the hour we were on the procession route:

1) We were joined by a Christian couple that was handing out tracts along the parade route. The woman told us later that she was punched and pushed by a Corpus Christi participant when things were getting heated.

2) Detecting my accent, one man attempted to silence me by questioning my being in Brazil legally; I assured him I was. It appears he has some friends in the Federal Police Department - which handles immigration issues - and he told me he'd be "keeping an eye on" me. I didn't give him my name or any other information, so I'm not sure how he plans on going about that!

3) My colleague, Ednilson, was jostled around a couple of times. Poor guy! In addition to being much smaller and skinnier than me, he preaches daily in that area, which makes him a natural target for abuse from the Catholics who don't have the courage to say or do anything when they're one-on-one with him. Being in the majority yesterday definitely gave some of them the courage to take their frustrations out on the smaller of the two preachers!

4) I was asked by a reporter to give my side of the story in light of the "confusion" we caused, but so far I haven't found anything online about what took place.

Although one may question the effectiveness of a confrontation over truth at a Catholic event, especially in light of the hostile reaction of some of the participants, I take a different view of this type of evangelistic approach. There's an old Indian proverb that goes something like this: "When you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps is the one that got hit." In other words, the more violent the reaction some may be having could indicate the level of divine conviction they're experiencing. Also, we cannot forget Isaiah 55:11, which affirms: "So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; it will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it."

All in all the Corpus Christi preach went well. You can focus on the extreme reactions by a loud minority (only 20-30, tops), forgetting that the vast majority read, listened and kept walking. Even the Catholic leadership was confronted with the truth. The thing that stirred things up the most wasn't so much our message, but our presence. It's not politically correct today to attend events to protest against those events. Woe to the person who does so! I saw a video of 8 believers who silently protested with banners at the 2009 March for Jesus in SP. Their banners said "Let's Return to the Pure and Simple Gospel • The Show Has to Stop!" The "S" in "Show" was a dollar sign and the "o" was a one Real coin (i.e., the Brazilian currency).
The denomination that promotes this annual march all over Brazil is heavily into prosperity preaching, and its leaders had recently been in a U.S. jail for nearly a year for trying to take $56,000 into the U.S. without declaring it. How those protesters were booed, had things thrown on them and even had one of their banners destroyed! One leader was overheard egging the crowd on to attack and silence fellow Christians!

What is valued today above everything else is the avoidance of conflict over theology, doctrine and solid biblical exegesis. Yet Jude tells us to contend for the faith because what one believes has everything to do with his or her eternal destination. In other words, people's souls are at stake! Therefore, I feel compelled to confront erroneous beliefs and make no apologies about it. My challenge to fellow believers is to join a growing number of bold witnesses who "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints!" There's too much at stake, especially when one considers that Jesus' second coming could very well be right around the corner. Let's ask God for some holy boldness! Now is not the time to adopt the world's value of political correctness and its postmodern view of truth.

Do keep in mind that many will try to shut you up - even the Church! You'll hear things like, "You have to earn the right to be heard" or "You can't just preach to people! You have to become their friend first." You'll hear well-meaning but, may I add, fearful Christians tweaking the gospel to include social activism and justice. I'm all for justice, but I see no direct command to the Church to "Go into all the world and ensure that the poor are treated justly." I have yet to find a version of the Great Commission (c.f., Mark 16:15, Matthew 28:18-20, etc.) telling us we need to "Go into all the world and make the world a better place...." Besides, the world will become a better place as a result of bold evangelism. Take the Great Awakenings as examples. Profound social change inevitably accompanied gospel preaching. Why? Because genuine new converts took their new creation status seriously, righting wrongs, returning stolen goods, becoming more responsible at home, etc. It is a fact that the crime rate dropped so drastically in some municipalities that the city government had to find other things for the police to do! So don't tell me that the preaching of the Word along with a move of the Holy Spirit doesn't bring about profound social change. We must never deviate from keeping the main thing the main thing! The "main thing" is evangelism, and Satan will do anything and everything to keep the Church from doing what it's supposed to do.

You'll perhaps hear that you have to abandon biblical methods of evangelism, not to mention the biblical content of the gospel, in order to reach a postmodern generation. They'll ask you, "You don't want to scare them off, do you?" or inform you, "That worked back then, but not today." If that's true, then why are we commanded to preach the gospel? That is a method, not a principle! In other words, preaching the gospel is not only biblical, it's the biblical method for getting the gospel to people! You can argue all you want that Jesus was more concerned with getting the gospel out in any way possible vs. pushing a particular method, but what does the text say? PREACH! The burden of proof rests with those who try to explain away Jesus' clear teaching, but I'm sticking with the text. I believe “preaching” to be narrowly defined by the Word of God and the example of the holy men contained therein. The word “kerusso,” the most commonly used Greek word translated into the English word “preach” throughout the NT, literally means: a public crier, a herald, to proclaim and to publish. This is what the Prophets, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostles did, and likewise, it is what we should seriously consider doing (Prov. 1:20-33; Isa. 58:1). How about you? Of course, individual, one-on-one "preaching" is biblical as well (i.e., personal evangelism), as long as it takes the initiative to communicate the biblical gospel to an unbeliever. In other words, just as we cannot shy away from boldly preaching the gospel in the public square, we certainly cannot shy away from telling people individually of their true condition before a holy God (i.e., sinful, condemned), the consequences of that condition if they die in it (i.e., hell) and the provision God has made so that they don't have to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire (salvation through repentance from sin and faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior). After all, God is our audience, not men - especially a bunch of unbiblical, so-called "Christians" who seem more concerned about doing what is acceptable to the world (and the Church?) vs. pleasing God. We need to remember that we won't have to answer to the world or even to the Church at the Judgment Seat of Christ. We'll answer to God!

Here's a short music video by a Russian street preacher that is, in my opinion, a good apologetic for open air preaching (Click here if you'd like to watch it in wide screen.).

Excuse the rant, but I am becoming less patient with my critics. Maybe I should just be about my business and not bother, but I'm into truth, remember? And I see a lot of distortion of the truth going on in Christian circles. Let's just say I'm contending for the faith!