Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Gospel In Jail ... from the Beginning.

(Lee County Stockade)
When I am in Florida, I have been going to jail with my friend Bobby. No, not in the habit of getting arrested, but enjoy the privilege of going into the jail, sitting with a group of prisoners and an open Bible for hours at a time, explaining the scriptures to them. My good buddy and brother-in-Christ, Bobby, introduced me to the jail, where he has been ministering for something like eight years. Bobby is a gifted evangelist, competent apologist, great friend and preaching buddy. When I am in Florida, Bob and I regularly spend time in the open-air preaching and sharing the Gospel one-to one and ministering in the jail a couple nights a week.

This year we began to often use a bit of an extended outline quite often. We begin, after opening with prayer, to ask questions about what the guys believe, answering some, but mostly taking notes to make sure we cover false-beliefs during our time. We then begin with Genesis 1:1, confronting the difference between what they were taught in school (evolution) and the scriptures; giving evidence for the Genesis account. We talk about how creation is the Natural Revelation God has given us to show His existence (Psalms 19 & Romans 1) but how this shows the existence of a God, but not all of who He is. He has revealed to us much about Him by Special Revelation of the Word of God (the Bible). We then talk a little about the science of Textual Criticism and fulfilled prophesy; how the Bible can be shown to be true.

We then work our way through scripture beginning with the Fall of Adam & how all of us as descendents of Adam inherit Adam’s sinful nature; are born guilty and sinful. The Flood screams of God’s condemnation of evil and sin; how something like hundreds of millions of people die and only eight are saved. What happened to those who didn’t get on the Ark. The men usually answer that they died. ‘Yes’ we answer, ‘but what happened to their eternal souls?’. The room usually gets quiet as the truth sinks in that many millions (maybe as many as a billion) were damned to Hell for their sin and only eight were saved.

We move on to explain how in Exodus God revealed His Law. We go through each of the Ten Commandments showing how we have ALL broken each one of them and many, many times. The scriptures show that judgment and Hell await us. I often then open up Romans 3 and beginning at the tenth verse, read God’s view of mankind:

as it is written: "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one." "Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive." "The venom of asps is under their lips." "Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness." "Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known." "There is no fear of God before their eyes." (Romans 3:10-18 ESV)

What a condemnation! We then ask them to imagine standing before a judge (an all too familiar experience for these men). ‘Imagine you are standing in front of a judge about to plead innocent ... then you notice them beginning to roll a series of big screens into the courtroom. You learn that there were 27 video cameras all recording the crime scene in high resolution 1080p video with digital audio. You also are told that there were dozens of eye-witnesses all with camera phones lined up to testify. Also, finger-print and DNA evidence is waiting to be presented ... what’a you gotta say? Nothing!’ I then look down and read:

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20 ESV)

The Cross! We explain the life, atoning death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We explain the call to Repent of Sin and trust in Jesus Christ alone, and the Blood He shed on the Cross of Calvary. Bob and I take the time to explain Repentance and Faith.

Afterwards, we show by scripture that God is sovereign in salvation. We show how it is God who takes out our heart of stone, giving us a heart that desires to please Him. So often, people expect instant results, rather than what historic Christianity has long expected; a wrestling, a crisis of faith. We exhort the men to get on their face before God, pray fervently that He would show them their sin, and give them a repentant heart. We instruct them to use His Means of Grace (reading their Bibles, Prayer, Biblical Preaching, Christian Counsel and Fellowship).

It is amazing to me, that when the Gospel is laid out before these men with much background and explanation, we see men sobered. I’ve seen men that were openly mocking beforehand, who were rather sombre, humble and thoughtful as they left our time together.

I am summarizing a session that normally takes some three hours in a few lines. I believe this work is so incredibly valuable. I am not able to be there now, but my good friend Bobby continues faithfully (as he has done for more than eight years). Please pray for Bobby.

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