It seems so praiseworthy to do your best, pull yourself up by your bootstraps–all in an attempt to make yourself better in God’s sight. But are our efforts really effective? Can we deal with our sin problem on our own? In this clip from By This Name, we learn the difference between our efforts and God’s atonement.
“God rejected Adam and Eve’s fig leaves because they were the efforts of sinful people trying to make themselves good enough for God. Those efforts fit in the ‘filthy rag’ category. Only when YAHWEH provided his covering were they accepted back into his presence.”
–By This Name, Page 91
By This Name has a video component consisting of 66 clips in which author John R. Cross teaches key concepts during the chronological journey through the Bible. These short video clips include visual aids (like the Tabernacle, Passover, altar, etc.) to help bring clarity to the story. They also take the viewers to key sites in Israel, Egypt and Jordan to provide historical and geographical context. We present a selection of these video clips. All of them are included with By This Name, either on DVD or accessible online.
If you met Adrien* today, you would never guess that just a few short years ago, he was an atheist who battled inner loneliness and emptiness. All you will see is a fulfilled father and husband, who is now a missionary along with his family. How did this transformation occur?
Adrien grew up in Quebec, going to church on Christmas and Easter but it was by more by obligation than by choice. Early in his teenage years, he totally rejected the idea of God and came to despise religion. He turned to science for an explanation of the world and for the purpose of life. “I was an atheist and I was strong about it. Religious people were fools in my eyes.”
After he finished his education, he joined the military. During his basic training, he became friends with Roy, a guy in his platoon. They ended up getting stationed on the same base. At this point in his life, Adrien had everything the world had to offer—a good job and lots of money. However, he was lonely and empty inside.
What does it look like to be an ambassador for Christ? Does it mean speaking in front of thousands of people in a crowded auditorium? Or does it mean blazing a trail through a jungle to make contact with a primitive tribe? While both of those scenarios are definitely ways in which God uses his children to reach the world with his gospel, often our calling is much more ordinary. Often it is right in our daily workplaces that we have the greatest opportunity to share the life and truth of Jesus.
Take Jack*. You might think his job inconsequential—he worked in building maintenance at an independent living facility. But somehow Jack attracted the attention of his manager. He took note he was a Christian and appreciated his consistent testimony in the workplace. As a result, he asked Jack if he would offer a Bible study to the residents who may like to attend.
Jack was more than happy to do so and began offering studies. At first there were only a few attendees, but that changed after Jack invited a local pastor to start teaching a chronological Bible study based on The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. The room quickly filled up with attendees eager to learn the main theme of the Bible.
Derek* was just a young associate pastor starting his first job at a church when he crossed paths with Nick. Derek’s zeal for sharing the gospel had led him to hand out numerous tracts and speak to many people about God’s love in sending Jesus to earth to die for them. His presentation of the gospel generally started with the cross. But with Nick, Derek suddenly found himself needing to shift gears in his approach. Here was a guy who literally knew nothing about the Bible. Nick didn’t even know the difference between Jesus and Moses!
It was at this point that Derek realised that he would be unable to simply tell Nick about the cross and expect Nick to understand the gospel sufficiently to put his faith in Christ. So, as the two young men began meeting together for lunches at a restaurant, Derek began telling Nick the story of the Bible, starting in Genesis. As they progressed, Derek used napkins to draw illustrations of key concepts and events of the Old Testament.
“After several weeks we finally arrived at Jesus,” Derek later wrote. “The Sunday following our final meeting, Nick came to my office after church because he was ready to trust Christ. I’ll never forget seeing him drop to his knees, confess his sin, and claim Christ as his sufficient substitute. When he stood up he looked me in the eyes and said, ‘The robes of Jesus righteousness have just been placed around my shoulders.’
We were blessed recently by the following testimony. Here are parents who have been successful in passing on to their children a passion for sharing the gospel.
The kids love trains. So we decided to take them on a train ride downtown. We encouraged seven-year-old Daniel* to take some GoodSeed books along to give to people on the train. One of the ladies he asked took the book but we could tell right away she was uncomfortable with it. It wasn’t long before she tossed the book a few seats down from her. We prayed together with the kids that someone would come take the book who needed it. A few stops later, another lady sat down, picked up the book and started intently reading it. She was about 10 pages into it before we got off at our next stop! Daniel is learning how easy it is to give the gospel to others.
A few weeks later, we took another train ride for Aaron’s birthday and took more books along to give away to people. Daniel said, “We need more books! Look at all these people that might not know Jesus!” Five-year-old Aaron even built up the courage to give a book to a young mother. We left a copy of The Story that Matters on a table in the public gardens and prayed someone would pick this book up. Sure enough, just 10 seconds later, we were blessed to see a man sit down at the table and begin reading it. We are praying that the recipients of these books would come to learn the Good News and place their trust in Jesus.
We are excited to see how God is using our children to reach others for Him, even at such a young age. Their love and concern for others that don’t know Jesus is so neat to see and a challenge to us as adults to not be afraid to give away the gospel.
Giving away a book is simple. So simple that even children can do it. Daniel and Aaron used The Story that Matters like a jumbo gospel tract. At 64 pages, it is succinct but with enough details to provide someone with a good explanation of the gospel message. And at $1 a copy when bought in bulk, the book is affordable to give away. Why not follow Daniel and Aaron’s example and prayerfully take some books with you next time you’re on the train or bus or in a public venue?
It is not unusual to see accounts from the Bible make it to the silver screen. Even if the films are not biblically accurate, they are good conversation starters that allow us to share what the Bible really does say. It is an opportunity for us to share the message of the gospel.
This year is the release of Risen. It tells the story of Christ’s resurrection from the perspective of a Roman soldier. Rather than throwing doubt onto the biblical account, Risen supports it. It presents Jesus as the Messiah sent by Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews. While one can appreciate how the story is crafted, the movie doesn’t explain why Jesus died and rose again. And so here is a good opportunity to take the conversation further with your unsaved friends who have seen the film.
It was a warm Sunday in late fall. The church service was over, and Pastor Sam,* his wife Karen, and their seven children enjoyed some time of fellowship with their friends before piling into the van. Sixteen-year-old Andrew hopped into the driver’s seat of the big 15-passenger van, and Pastor Sam settled into the front passenger seat. They only lived a few miles from church, but every little bit of driving practice was good experience for Andrew. Once Karen and the children were settled in, Andrew drove out of the parking lot and onto the highway. It was little Stephanie’s fourth birthday, and they were looking forward to an afternoon party at home with family and friends.
One moment there were the happy sounds of the children talking, then CRASH! The deafening screech of tires was followed instantly by the sickening sound of crunching metal. The children erupted in screams. Sam was disoriented but regained his senses quickly. Glancing back, he was shocked to discover the front of a black pickup actually in the van! It had smashed through the two rear doors.