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April 24, 2013

“Easy Believism” True or not?

Filed under: Bible Passages,Following Jesus — Dr Earl @ 1:31 pm

A number of years ago, as I was getting ready to speak in a college chapel, the worship leader finished the music with these words: “The only thing required of us is to believe that Jesus blood saves us. Nothing more. It’s nothing but the blood of Jesus.’

I’ve heard these thoughts a thousand times. The problem was that I had in my Bible a message in which Jesus Himself had a very different answer to the question of salvation.

In reading through the Gospel of Luke, I had discovered that twice (10:25, 18:18) Jesus is asked, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”

In the first passage, Jesus turns the question back on the lawyer who asks it. The lawyer replies with the Old Testament commands to love God with all your heart soul, strength and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself (cf. Matt. 22:34-40). Jesus affirms his answer: “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” The lawyer then tries to narrow the meaning of ‘neighbor’. Jesus then tells the unforgettable parable of the compassionate Samaritan who proved to be a neighbor to a bleeding roadside victim.

In Luke 18, Jesus responds to the same question, this time from the man we know as ‘the rich young ruler’. Jesus quotes the commandments forbidding adultery, murder, theft and false witness, and mandating honor towards parents. This young man says that he has kept all these commandments. Jesus then tells him to “sell all . . . and distribute to the poor.”  Jesus assures him, “You will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow me.” The “extremely rich” ruler will not do this and Jesus goes on to teach His disciples about how hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God.

Attempting with all that is in me to be a true expositor of the Word, I told the chapel students that on the two occasions in Luke when Jesus was asked how to have eternal life, He offered a four-fold answer: love God with all that you are, love your neighbor (like the Samaritan story), do God’s will by obeying His moral commands, and be willing, if He asks, to drop everything, leave it behind and follow Him.

I concluded by suggesting that the contrast be tween how Jesus answers this question and how we usually do, is stark and very inconvenient.

In my tradition we ask people to “invite Jesus into your heart as your personal Savior.” Or we simply say, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

But, Jesus never taught easy-believism! Whether He was telling the rich young ruler to sell all and follow Him or telling a miracle-hungry crowd near Capernaum that to do the work of God was, yes, to believe on Him (John 6:28-29), He called people to abandon their own agenda and trust Him radically. Radical trust calls for both belief and action!

Is it possible that we tend to confuse the beginning of the faith journey with its entirety? YES, believe in Jesus — that’s the first step. YES, invite Jesus into your heart as your personal Savior. THEN, empowered by God’s grace, embark on the journey of discipleship, in which you seek to love God with every fiber of your being, to love your neighbor as yourself, to live out Go’s moral will and to follow Jesus where He leads you, whatever the cost.

If Jesus is to be believed, inheriting eternal life involves a comprehensive divine assessment at every step along our journey, not just at the beginning.

Mediocrity and hypocrisy characterize the lives of many avowed Christians. Anyone can, and most Americans do, “believe” in Jesus rather than some alternate savior. Anyone can, and many Americans do, say a prayer asking Jesus to save them. But not many embark on a life fully devoted to the love of God, love of neighbor, the moral practice of God’s will, and radical, costly discipleship.

If it comes to a choice between our habitual, ingrained ways of talking about salvation and what Jesus Himself said when asked the question, I know what I must choose.  What is your choice?

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August 4, 2012

Part 3: How Word For the World was Born

Filed under: Bible Passages — Dr Earl @ 11:58 am

Having no doubt as to the calling of God upon my life, I applied myself to my studies at Malone University and worked a full-time job as well. There was a very well-known church in the area that was holding their annual Missions Conference. I decided to attend not having any idea that this conference would begin a series of events that would change my life.

It was in 1962, at this Missions Conference, that God spoke to my heart again and told me (I thought) to go to Borneo as a missionary! Borneo was still an unreached field with head-hunters and cannibals! There wasn’t even a Mission Board that would send me.

All of our ministry after marriage was to set us up to go to Borneo, now called Kalimantan, Indonesia. In 1978, while pastoring Mt. Zion Community Church in Canton, Ohio, we decided to send in our application to go to the mission field. However, in the Providence of God some weird things were happening in my body. Symptoms were few but very bothersome. After being in the hospital and undergoing many, many tests, the doctors determined I had M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis). Not only that but as a result of some of the tests they found that I had stenosis (closing of the bone on root nerves in the spine) down most of my spine! That, along with the M.S., shut the door to Borneo.

Pain, coupled with the growing inability to walk, caused Judy and I to evaluate whether or not I could keep up with a growing church. After much prayer, we decided it was time to make some changes. As a result, Earl Bailey Ministry in Evangelism, Inc. was born. Because of the growth of the church I pastored, I was fairly well-known in Ohio and surrounding States. Getting dates for revivals was no problem. I figured I could teach a class in the mornings, preach at night and rest in the afternoons. We did this for 20 years.

In 1987, after teaching Vacation Bible School on some of the Islands of the Caribbean, the door opened to start a radio broadcast to that area. The broadcast proved to be a great success with fantastic results. People were accepting Jesus Christ and lives were being changed. Doors started opening to broadcast Word For the World in places we could not go ourselves!

That’s when God’s call became plain in our sight. We started getting mail from all around the world. But something was strange; by about 2 to 1 we received mail from Kalimantan, Indonesia! It was a short time after that I found out that Kalimantan was BORNEO! God had worked it all out in His time and in His way. If I had gone to Borneo my ministry would have been limited to where I was at the time. Now, we are in every country of the world!

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February 4, 2012

Part 2: How Word For the World was born

Filed under: Bible Passages,Salvation — Dr Earl @ 10:07 am

Getting to that Camp Meeting was the turning point of my life. It was in 1960 that I went forward and knelt at an old fashioned altar. Jesus Christ forgave me my sins of the past, present and future as I walk with him. Thank God for the blood of Christ that washed me white as snow.

Right then I knew I needed to get an education. I had much about Cleveland Bible College in Cleveland, OH. Many preachers and missionaries came out of that school. It had just moved to Canton, OH and was on its way to becoming accredited; so within a month, I was in Canton at what was now, Malone University. I had applied late but got accepted. Since my parents really didn’t have money to help me, I got a full-time job and went to night school for the first couple years. It took me 6 years to graduate from Malone.

Upon graduation, the same day, I married the love of my life, Judy. I had met her at Malone and we hit it off fairly quick. We then moved to Marion, IN where I became the Director of the Marion Area Youth For Christ. It was heavily in debt, and had no record of teens that were active. After finding a few teenagers that had been active we went to football games and passed out the YFC magazine. Before we knew it we had good crowds at out Saturday night rallies. Marion YFC won the International Bible Quiz Tournament at Winona Lake, IN two years in a row. There were about 45 active college students from Taylor University that were active in being Club leaders in the area High Schools. We were in five counties, debt free.

The problem was, I became a full-time fund raiser instead of an evangelist. I was and still am, an evangelist and Bible teacher. After a couple years as a Youth Pastor and then  couple working for Malone University, I became the pastor of a small country church that was experiencing a split. We lost almost half our congregation over a theological issue. That left us with about fifity people. Within two years we were in a building campaign with new Sunday School classrooms and Sanctuary to seat 400. After eight more years we were packing the Sanctuary.

Tune in for Part 3 –

• • •

December 29, 2011

The Story of Word For the World: from the beginning.

Filed under: Bible Passages — Dr Earl @ 6:30 am

In order to start from the beginning you must bear with me as I tell you about my younger days. Our family was very committed, dedicated, and serious about thier faith. Church during the year and church camps during the summer were regular fare. And that was OK, that is, until I reached the fifth grade where I met another kid that knew how to get into trouble and seemed good at getting out of it easily.

Let me back up a bit and explain that because of moving often (I was in 7 schools in 7 years) did not make for a confident outlook. I was always trying to make friends; most times trying too hard. That is until I met Fred. We seemed to be two peas in a pod except that he had a background of being in trouble and I didn’t. It didn’t take long for that to change.

Without going into my early life of crime, just know that if I had been caught for some of the things we did, Word For the World may have never been born. Even though I was constantly in trouble there was still a soft spot for the things  of a spiritual nature. While a young teenager attending a church camp I had an experience that was to change my life – but not right away.

One afternoon, alone in what was called “the prayer tent”, I definitly felt the presence of the Holy Spirit quoting what I now know was the “Great Commission”, Go ye into all the world and make disciples of all nations.” My first thought was that God was calling me to be a preacher, a pastor. However, I had other plans and wasn’t ready to give them up.

Since 5th grade I studied music and played the trombone. A young man from the Navy Band in Newport, RI took me under his wing and gave me lessons until he was shipped out. In fact, my first trombone I bought from him for $2.50 a week. My lesson was also $2.50 a week. So, I started delivering papers in the wee hours of the morning to earn money for my lessons and trombone. I lived to practice and as a result, I got pretty good; good enough to attain first solo chair in the “All New England Band”. I turned down a full music schlarship to Michigan State because I thought I had the world by the tail, making more money than my father, playing in niteclubs three nights a week.

I moved into the Boston jazz scene for a couple years playing with some of the big bands. The problems started when the lifestyle I was living took its toll physically. That’s when I packed up all my belongings and moved back home.

One Sunday, after playing a job on the Naval Base, I was picked up for DWI. Because of a friend I was released from jail and found myself hitch-hiking on the main road of the island. A man picked me up and said, “I’ll take you as far as I’m going.”  In the Providence of God, he let me out about one block from a Camp Meeting that was in session right down the road. My mom and dad were there, no doubt praying for me.

I walked down the hill, went into that big tabernacle and sat in the very last seat in the back. Just as I sat down, my father turned around and saw me. I was still half drunk but it made no difference to him; he got up, walked back to where I was and sat with me.

That was the beginning to what ultimately would be a world-wide radio ministry. In between there were many valleys and mountain tops. I hope you’ll check back each week to hear the full story of how God used a nobody to reach millions for Christ

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November 13, 2009

Israel: Constantly at Risk

Filed under: Israel,Palestine,The Middle East — Dr Earl @ 11:12 am

I recently came across an article in FLAME that I wanted to share with you.

Dear Friend of Israel, dear Friend of FLAME:

Once again, the picture in Israel has substantially changed. Above all else, there is now the real threat of Iran’s seemingly unstoppable march toward being armed with nuclear weapons. Anybody who does not take seriously its leaders’ pledges to “wipe Israel off the map” and to “excise the cancer of Zionism” lives in a dream world. These people must be taken by their word. The world, at its peril, disregarded the fulminations of Adolf Hitler. The world and Israel cannot afford to make the same mistake again. It is not impossible that Israel will be forced to make some existential decisions in the not too distant future.

As a result of Israel’s being pressured by the insistence of “world opinion” (including, sad to say, by our own country) and also to some extent by the fatigue of its own people, Israel has relinquished Gaza, where Israeli families had been living for at least three generations.

Rather than being grateful for this gift of land and for the “freedom from occupation” it afforded them, the Arabs responded with spasms of violence, digging tunnels into Israel and killing and kidnapping its soldiers. And that is in addition to the almost daily barrages of Qassam rockets that rain into Israeli towns and settlements and infrastructure installations. They have caused casualties and much damage. The level of damage and lives lost could at any moment escalate.

An even greater fiasco occurred in the northern part of the country, where Israel, under pressure of world opinion (and its own defeatist minority — mostly left-wing “intellectuals”) abandoned its buffer of the southern Lebanon security zone. Though it had caused some casualties, it kept Israel’s northern cities and settlements calm and livable. Again, instead of the hoped-for peace and gratitude, Israel was assaulted by Hezbollah (the “Army of God”), which, in a daring cross-border raid killed and abducted Israeli soldiers and brought about the Second Lebanon War. That war caused thousands of deaths on both sides, immense destruction and untold suffering to Israel and Lebanon.

FLAME is steadily engaged in alerting the American public to the reality of Israel’s positions and problems and to the enormous diplomatic and military importance that Israel has for our country and for its resistance to the forces that incessantly seek to destroy it and damage the United States. But now, powerful American politicians and academics are beginning to question Israel’s importance to the United States and claim that Israel, through its Jewish-American surrogates, influences U.S. policy to its own advantage and with total disregard to the welfare and the interests of the United States. This is a dangerous “blood-libel” type of development that must be fought — and that is part of what we are doing and have been doing for almost twenty years.

• • •

August 27, 2008

God’s Olympians

Filed under: Bible Passages,Following Jesus,Salvation — Dr Earl @ 9:58 pm

Our generation is a generation that loves sports. Paul, the Apostle that is, also loved the sports program of his day. In fact, I would lay odds that he was an athlete, honored in his day. In Paul’s time there were three major games that were played around the known world: the Olympian Games held at Mt. Olympus, the Pithian Games held at Delphi, and the Isthmian Games held at Corinth.

These games were staggered throughout the year so that the jet-set of that day could go to all three. While they featured many events, the greatest and most popular by far was the foot race, the track meet.  These runners were the most popular and recognized heroes. They even had fame and fortune back then. Tell the truth, these athletes won more fame than the conquering generals.

Each and ever city had their “Circus-Circus”, the arena, the coliseum. These arenas were about six time the size of our modern football field. People would pack into these arenas to watch the races.

The writer of Hebrews (a book in the New Testament), whom I believe to be the Apostle Paul, uses the imagery of the games to illustrate powerful spiritual truths for us today.

The athlete is on the field. He has trained for months and months; rigorous training, severe discipline. He has denied himself the legitimate pleasures of life that other people enjoy. He’s on the field; the stadium is packed, the emperor is in his velvet lined box, everyone is watching that lone athlete. In that day, he would go to the end of the field and dip his hands in a fresh bloody sacrifice, raise his hands to the gods and swear he us morally pure, he has kept all the rules, he will run a fair race and participate as an honored athlete. After the ceremony he goes to the line and gets himself set. He is ready to run the race. Every nerve is tense, every one of those finely toned muscles are taut. His mind is centered on one thing, one goal – TO WIN!

Hebrews 12:1 states: “Wherefore seeing we are encompassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily beset us, and let us run with patience (endurance) the race that is set before us …”

Who are the witnesses Paul talks about in this verse? I would suggest to you that Paul was visualizing two groups and one person as he made that statement under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God. The first group is the most obvious: Those who have gone on before and are now in the grandstands of the dead in Christ. He has already talked about many of them in Chapter 11 of Hebrews. We could go through each one of these individually but we’re not going to take that time. Just notice one important thing: what they had was divine revelation concerning things that would happen in the future. They studied these words seeking to know what they meant (cf. I Peter 1:10-12). Even though they didn’t understand, they obeyed! If they obeyed the Word of God on that side of the Cross and Resurrection, how much more should we be willing when we have the truth given to us on this side of the Cross and Resurrection? (More about this group in my next installment.)

The second group Paul may be thinking of  are those in the here and now. They are watching every day. They want to know: is there any power in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is there any real power in the lives of those who call themselves Christians? Is there anything in their lives that make them different? Is there any hope in the people of Christ? Where is the joy they talk and sing about? Can these Christians believe when the going gets rough? They want to know!They are watching our speech, our attitudes, our actions and reactions, our judgments and resentments; our lifestyle. Yes, they are watching as we commit those little polite sins like greed, unforgiveness and gossip. You cannot stop them from watching and if they watch long enough, they’ll see something in us they think is unChristian. We are not perfect. That’s why it is so important to point people to the One who is perfect: Jesus. We need to help them see Jesus.

But there is also someone else who is watching: our Coach, Jesus! He put us into the race and it is to Him we run. He is the Alpha and Omega, the A to Z and every letter in between.  He knows what we can do, He knows what we can endure. He will never allow us to have more than we can bear but will offer a way of escape. Our Lord does have a plan for your life. He has a race for you to run. Let us run as honored spiritual athletes, knowing that we are being encouraged by those who have run the race before us. They are saying: “Come on, you can do it. We did!”

Are you in the race? Salvation is not something you receive at the end of the race, it puts you into the race. God has a race for YOU to run but you will never know what it is until you get under the leadership of the COACH.

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