December 12, 2011

Practical Advice for Street Witnessing

With over five years of experience preaching the gospel of God's grace to strangers in streets, university campuses, and marketplaces, I can safely admit that I've had to learn the hard way, having made many mistakes. My purpose is not to write a list of practical "How Not To's", but "How To's" with a few "Not To's" included.

So here it goes:

1) Study your Bible with a heart to love, revere, worship and obey God before trying to teach others. Remember your priorities: God made all of us, and it is therefore God first, God in the middle, and God last. God in Christ is our primary object of love, knowledge, obedience, respect, and authority. He is our Sovereign LORD to whom we owe complete loyalty. When we see God as He has revealed Himself in the gospel of Christ, and He really amazes us, we become all the more persuasive toward outsiders. (The Holy Spirit is He who converts people, however, we are responsible under God's Sovereignty to strive at being persuasive by His grace within us).

2) People can sense your attitude, despite how "right" you are. If you want to persuade others of the beauty, sweetness and love of God's grace through Christ, then show it both with an attitude and by words that are genuine and full of grace (see Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person”).

The message of the cross is offensive to natural sinful people, but the messenger does not have to provide backing to their revulsion by exhibiting unattractive behavior and manners himself. In support of this point, carefully read Romans 12:9-21; Ephesians chapters 4-6; Colossians chapters 3-4; Philippians 2:1-15; 1 Peter 3:8-22; 2 Peter 1:5-8; the book of Proverbs, especially noting those that speak of the use of the tongue; etc.

3) Just to emphasize and build on that last point, think about how you yourself speak on a daily basis, and then think about what the Bible says about how we should use our speech. Take Proverbs 12:18 for example: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

In other words, if you are wise you will speak words that will help, comfort, heal, and give life, not words that will harm or hinder the spiritual health of your hearers. Doctors don’t needlessly criticize their patients and then intimidate them into accepting treatments. That would be ridiculous! (This is clearly one of the “How Not To’s” I said would be mentioned, and it’s worth repeating! So, speak courteously, as befits a winner of souls. Too many of us are already experienced enough at failing with this.)

4) Don’t put the gospel through a cookie-cutter. The gospel is a glorious, magnificent, world-tilting message of truth, salvation, love, promise, and glory to the repentant and humble, and God has given 66 books in our language to teach it to us. It can be explained from many different passages of Scripture, so I recommend getting real familiar with some and using them often. You can read Matthew 5-7 and Romans 1-8 for a number of useful texts. But also use a variety of other passages whenever possible, or when a different situation calls for it. You may not have time to give a full presentation of the gospel in every situation, so be ready to be clear and helpful with whatever you can say.

5) Each person you meet is different, so I believe you can preach the good news in a different way to everyone you meet, depending on individual needs. To illustrate this, let’s say you meet Sally from the local baptist congregation. She grew up in the church and never thought of herself as anything but saved, yet she doesn’t seem to have come to grips with how great her sin and her need for a spotless sacrifice really is. You will preach truth to her according to what she needs to know about the gospel, which she may not have grasped yet. Next you meet Mohammad, an immigrant Muslim. Now things are different. Mohammad, on the other hand, doesn’t think of God, sin, or salvation in the same way you do. You may have to define what you mean by your terms, such as repentance, justification, mercy, justice, the Triune nature of God, the deity of Jesus, and so on, before Mohammad can grasp what must be accepted for true light and life. Don’t change the message of the gospel, it is the same for both, but change the method. Speak to Sally and Mohammad according to what they need to come to terms with.

This list was inspired by another list that I read from, called Street Evangelism in Six Steps.
Also check out An Alternative to Cold Evangelism.

November 19, 2011

Apologetics in Real Life

My wife and I started our first podcast on the topic of apologetics as it is used in our everyday lives and when we are out witnessing with the gospel of God's grace.

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November 16, 2011

The Surpassing Wealth of His Grace

Ephesians 2:5-7 says,
"...and you, being dead in trespasses, he made alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and he raised [you] together and seated [you] together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, in order that he might show in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus."

The very next verse following this long sentence is this: "for by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you, it is the gift of God" (v. 8).

What did Paul want his readers to understand about the "surpassing wealth" or "riches" of God's grace? Well, first of all, that for us who have been saved by faith in God's Son, the ages to come are going to be a showcase of the super-abundance of His favor (grace) and kindness toward us in Christ. It is through Jesus Christ that the ages to come in eternity will display how much of an abundance of favor and kindness we have received from God. He died on the cross, the perfect Savior, God in human flesh, paid the penalty for our sinful crimes, rose from the dead and lavished this favor upon us.

All the abundance of favor, the riches of God's kindness and mercy, His never ending, age-enduring, ever-bestowing love is ours in Christ. Jesus is truly awesome! God our Father is truly loving! The Holy Spirit is truly our Comforter!

We Christians have a lot to be thankful for and a lot to look forward to. May all the glory be to God and to the Lamb!

September 3, 2011

Why and How to Read the Bible, part 2

“Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!”
(Psalms 96:3 ESV)

The Bible is not just a book. It is a book of books... made up of many writings by different writers, from different ages and different cultural settings. That's all it is from most non-religious points of view.

But from the Christian's perspective, the Bible is the Book of books, because it is the very Word of God (1 Thes 2:13; 2 Tim 3:16)! It is God's message to humankind in the timeless form of writing, so that all people around the world are able to understand it if they have access to a good translation. Ancient Scripture certainly must be understood in light of the time and culture in which it was originally written, but a lack of that knowledge should not stop any of us from perceiving the main subject and theme.

God is the main subject of the Bible, and the theme is his glory. Sure, it does focus on many different characters, such as Abraham and his wife, Sarah; their son, Isaac; Jacob; Jacob's family; Moses and the Israelites; Jesus and his apostles, and so on. However, it is God who constantly makes himself known to every new generation throughout Biblical history. As God was revealing himself to his people through his Word, those who were called were able to know him more intimately and were changed by that experience of knowing him.

This is why we must read the Bible: to know God as he has revealed himself in Scripture as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. How we read the Bible will determine whether we know him rightly. As Peter said, there are those who, because of their ignorance, twist the Scriptures to their own destruction (2 Peter 3:16). Christians, of all people, should be the most careful and humble of its readers.

We don't read everything in the same way. We don't read the newspaper like we read a text book, or a historical biography as if it were a fictitious novel. There are certain things we need to know before we begin reading anything. We need to know what we are reading and why it was written.

When you pick up a newspaper, you already know that it's a newspaper, and you know what it is intended for as a whole--to inform you about the news. It is a compilation of different kinds of literature, such as reports, articles, advertisements, announcements, and entertainment, which are intended to provide readers with a variety of news, facts, opinions, entertainment, coupons, and other information. You don’t read every section of the newspaper in the exact same way, but you take into account the differences in type of literature and purpose. We must do the same with the Bible.

By understanding what kind of book the Bible is and what it intended to make known to its original readers, things become significantly clearer to us. Learning these basic facts isn't hard if you have some basic information available. People often go wrong when they fail to take some of that information into account. We’ll look at ways that often happens later.

You can find helpful information about the Bible in study Bibles, Bible dictionaries, Bible encyclopedias and Bible handbooks (all of which can be accessed free on the Internet). They can help provide you with historical background to what you are reading, as well as other important facts to help you better understand Scripture. Such tools are meant to assist, not hinder your reading of God's Word. Wise disciples should put them to good use, seeking to handle God's Word with great care (Prov 18:15; 1 Tim 1:6-8; 2 Tim 2:15; 3:15).

August 5, 2011

Why and How to Read the Bible, part 1

Is reading the Bible necessary for everyone? Is this question even important?

First, yes this question is important. Here's why: only in the 66 books of Holy Scripture is God's perfect will and purposes revealed to human kind concerning our relationship to Him. This may sound bold, or even radical, but it is the testimony of Scripture itself. When people tell me they can believe in Jesus without accepting the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, I ask them, "And how is it that you came to know what you do about Jesus, if it was not passed down through people who read the Bible?"

Now to answer the first question, I don't want to say that all people must be able to read and possess a translated copy of the Bible if they will be saved. But rather, what I will say is that the information the Bible communicates to us, as creatures made by God in His own image, is absolutely essential for us to be saved. Note the word "message". It is not the physical Bible, or the ability to read that is necessary, but the message contained in the Scriptures that all people must know to be saved.

Do you read it or listen to it? Do you tell it to others?

The fact that we have this communication given to us from our Maker and God is absolutely wonderful. Something we ought to give heartfelt thanks to the Savior for over and over again.

Grace to all in Christ Jesus our Lord!

July 29, 2011

I'm Dead and I'm Not Dead!

Dead to the passions and sins I once walked in, I've been made alive to God in Christ! (Romans 6:1-4; etc.)

I'm also still alive as far as blogging goes, even though my blogging has slowed down considerably. It may not gain me a lot of followers, but that has never been a big goal for me. Rather spreading the Word of Christ together with those faithful believers who love our Lord God and Savior has always been the main thing here.

God bless to all who read this post! :)

-Penn Tomassetti, a sinner, saved by the grace of God (Ephesians 2:1-10).

May 26, 2011

Spiritual Giftedness

Each Christian is called and gifted by God according to His will, not according to their own will or the will of other people. It is God who determines the function of each part of the body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:1-12).

According to 1 Corinthians, it is a good thing for us to pray and ask God to give specific gifts and equip us for the correct use of them. God is indeed glorified in the healthy function of all the various parts of the body, as well as in all the various gifts in the Church. Therefore, as Paul warned the Corinthians, we must not despise others for their gifts and calling from God, but we must rather edify one another with the gift of brotherly love after the example of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brothers, show your spiritual health by your love for the parts of Christ's body that do not have the exact same function as you do. Show your love as members of Christ and of His diverse Church, and not as members of "the Church of Discerning Eyes", or "the Church of Sensitive Noses", or "the Church of the Working Hands", for such divisions do not glorify Christ.

You know what I am referring to. One gifted brother in the church looks at fellow Christians with great suspicion and doubt for the genuineness of their salvation because they are not gifted as he is. Such spiritual arrogance is not only evidence of the clear absence of love (the greatest gift), but is also greatly damaging to the health and upbuilding of Christ's Church.

May our God and Savior make you abound in His grace, truth and love.

May 12, 2011


ROMANS 8:29-39

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” [Psalm 44:22]

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

(English Standard Version)

January 5, 2011

10 Motivations to Read the Scriptures in 2011

We ought to delight to read the Bible for a number of reasons. Here are just a few from the Bible itself...

1) Because it is God's revelation of Himself (1 Samuel 3:21; 2 Peter 1:19,20-21).

2) Because it is by the Word of God that faith comes to us (Romans 10:17), and in it we hear God speaking to all the world (Micah 4:2).

3) Because as a result of the regenerating grace of the Holy Spirit through the Word (1 Peter 1:23), our new nature craves the sincere milk of the Word like newborn babies (1 Peter 2:2-3).

4) Because Jesus considered it necessary to live by every Word of God and not by bread alone (Luke 4:4).

5) Because the Word of God's grace and truth is able to both sanctify and build up those who are His Church, who are joined to Jesus Christ, so that they may receive an inheritance among the saints (John 17:17; Acts 20:32).

6) Because God's love is manifested in us by keeping His Word (1 John 2:5).

7) Because we are able to cleanse our way by taking heed according to His Word and avoid sin by hiding it within our heart (Psalm 119:9,11).

8) Because God's Word is delightful and is able to revive the downcast soul (Psalm 119:16,25,50,162).

9) Because His Word is a light for our path and it gives understanding, knowledge and wisdom (Psalm 119:130; Proverbs 2:6).

10) Because Scripture points us to Jesus Christ, who is our very source of life (Luke 24:44-45,46-47; John 5:39-40; 14:6).

If we follow a regular pattern of reading Scripture, let us remember to keep an attitude of love for God through prayer, and that we need the powerful grace of God not only to save us, but to keep us saved by means of His Word and Spirit.

Thank you, Father, my GOD, for your precious Word. May I honor it by faith and so live for your glory and praise alone, by the grace of your glorious Son, Jesus, and by your Holy Spirit!