“God, having blessed mankind with the glorious gospel of his Son, hath spoken much in his word, as it might be supposed he would, of the treatment which it should receive from those whom it was addressed.” Andrew Fuller opens with this powerful statement in his work A Gospel Worthy of All Acceptation, whence this essay weans her title. At such a time, Fuller battled hyper-Calvinists who insisted on the exclusivity of the clear explanation of the Gospel and the certainty of election without presentation. Today, the battle is fought against those whom insist in such a thing called “seekers”—who drain the established churches’ resources dry merely to be claimed while the millions who do not seek for God (Rom. 3:11) are left in a godless eternity and no one gives them a second thought. Local churches lead by mislead pastors have looked to their precious golden calves named Numbers and Popularity. These idols sneer and command that all churches attract men by carnal means, but do not question why these men remain carnal. The idols continue, “Do not preach repentance; preach invitation. This way these men fail to believe they are inviting Christ on the throne of their life; and therefore, remaining in their carnality, they will join us hell.”
This is why the title has been changed accordingly. Acceptance today is seemingly casual due to the fact people do not truly understand whom they are accepting. Henceforth, the Gospel is worthy of all capitulation. Now the word all here is used in two senses (believe it or not, all can be used in more than one way). All means to say “the fullest extent of capitulation” and “preaching the gospel to the extent of every single person.” Barring the Gospel to only those who “seek” and barricading the Gospel to “simply pray this prayer” are the major travesties of this age. The following experiences are written in such a way to tear down the walls built up by Numbers and Popularity.
One day one of my classes went on a trip to work with a church in going door to door in a particular neighborhood to share the Gospel and invite people to an Easter Sunday service. This day, I had an opportunity to speak with a biochemistry major from GA Tech named Brandon. He opened the door with a little yipper dog barking. He had just come home for the weekend. I invited him to the Easter service and briefly talked with him about his major and his classes then discussed with him my classes. He considered himself an Atheist, but he was most definitely not a New Atheist. He views were more shaped by pluralism and the like.
I began the discussion with him on stuff. Stuff is here, and there cannot be an infinite regression of time so matter cannot be eternal. He began to inform me of theories of multiple universes. Intriguingly I attempted to listen as his vocabulary began to go over my head. I went from creation to fall building off all the stories he told me he was raised with (and hopefully reforming them to a Biblical view). I went from fall to explain redemption as it was promised in the Old Testament and applied in the New Testament. He seemed interested enough to be courteous, but ultimately satisfied in his science.
What I found interesting is how he had a fundamental understanding of certain Bible stories. I came to him with nothing new. The tactic is not to impress with wise words of wisdom to appeal to his flesh. The major weapon against his darkened state is a clear presentation of the Gospel. So very clear that Paul is willing to state based upon his presentation of the Gospel to the Galatians, “It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publically portrayed as crucified” (Gal. 3:1). Why should I wrestle with his flesh and pull all sorts of presuppositional, evidential, or classical apologetics out if Christ has not even been crucified before his eyes? I shan’t make the Gospel a simple mental ascent for him, for it is worthy of all capitulation.
A few classmates, my wife, and I loaded up on a van and traveled to another world only an hour and a half away: Clarkston, GA. For those unfamiliar with the area, Clarkston serves as a refugee relocation city. Refugees from all around the world are placed in that one town. I’ve been twice before. The school often works with Clarkston International Bible Church and NAMB to outreach to the local area. But this day was quite different.
We got there a bit late, which is typical of our professor. He operates on what we affectionately call “missionary time” (he served for several years with the Pokot in Kenya). A large group of high schoolers were already there and just about finished their training with the “good news” cards. 16 high schoolers were assigned to train us in the same method. The amount they told us about the Gospel just made me want to stay and share the Gospel with them.
But here’s where the journey really began. We drove over to a particular apartment complex and were split up into groups of three. My wife and I and another student went into an apartment and knocked on a door, not expecting to enter another world. A group of people that hardly spoke English opened the door. We explained we came from a Christian college wanting to learn about different cultures. They welcomed us in.
Most of my conversation happened with an older man named Piteran translated through his daughters (who only knew a little more English than him). Come to find out they were Nepali from Burma and came to America three years ago. They were much happier here as well. The served each of us a can of coca cola. As we popped open our cans, their culture opened before our eyes.
We asked certain questions and began to figure out things that were important to them. They told us about an important celebration coming up in 7 days and showed us pictures of people putting something in their forehead. Later, I researched what they were talking about. It wasn’t coming up in seven days, but it was a seven (or 5 according to the internet) day long event. In the Nepali culture, this celebration is called Tihar. The first day they would worship crows, the second dogs, and the third cows. Each day had a special tie to their god of death (Lord Yamaraj). On the final day of the celebration, the sisters put the Bhai Tika on their brother’s forehead and the brother gives the sister gifts (and vice versa). All of these celebrations deal with the wish for the longevity of life. So, we asked about death, and they showed us a YouTubeTM video of someone who was hit by a bus. The Nepalis laid several flower ornaments that piled high on the body as loved ones came by wailing over their lost one.
We asked about God and they said “Hindu”. I asked Piteran if he ever heard of Jesus Christ and he said, “no.” At that moment I racked my brain to try to figure out how to explain the Gospel to a devout Hindu who has never heard of Jesus Christ and doesn’t speak a lick of English. I though back through my World Religion class but nothing came to mind. We sat there awkwardly watching their family with young kids and all speaking a different language. Talk about culture shock. None of my other trips had prepared me for this. I stood up thanked them for their hospitality and we walked on to the next apartment. All the while, I was beating myself up for not even trying to explain the Gospel.
At the next apartment we met a young Muslim boy at about the age of 11 or 12 who spoke English very well. I asked him questions about Islam but he had just begun to learn about it. I asked him what he must do to be saved. He didn’t really understand what “saved” meant. I asked him if he prayed. He explained he prayed five times a day. I asked him if he would have to take a trip to Mecca one day, and he said no. So I explained the Gospel to him. “What do you think about the Gospel?” I questioned.
“What do you mean?” he answered.
“What do you believe about Jesus Christ?” I directed more pointedly. He looked around hesitantly.
“Well… we believe in different things so…” and he trailed off.
This was a common response for him until I said, “Don’t worry, I know we believe different things, but I’m here to learn about what you believe. I’m not going to beat you up about it.” I said that with a smile and he cracked up a bit and was a little more open.
I asked him what he believed about God. He told me he just began to learn about Islam so he wasn’t too familiar with everything. So I directed the conversation with him. He believed God created all things. Then I said God is holy and defined holy as being completely against sin and wholly devoted to Himself (I also made sure he understood what sin meant). He agreed. I explained that God is just and he must judge sin. He agreed again. I asked him what would happen if he sinned. He was certain he would go to hell. I asked him how he could go to heaven and he told me that his good must outweigh his bad. With that statement I was able to explain the heart of the Christian Gospel: penal substitutionary atonement (all in a way he could understand, of course). It was much easier talking to a Muslim who already presupposes one semi-just god.
As I finished talked with him, I prayed for him as I had desperately prayed for Piteran for not even knowing what to say. I had also reflected on how often he and other Muslims are faithfully required to pray five times a day. It may be begin to ponder on how often I don’t pray. How often I don’t seek the Lord on my face that He may go before me and save for He has all power. How often believers seek after people with their tricks, gimmicks, events, sweets, yet there is no prayer! Christians seem to think themselves very strong and able in American culture. This can be proven by one question: how much has a Christian prayed? How long has he spent on his face with blistered knees before the Lord of the Harvest (Matt 9:38)?
Afterwards, we regrouped with three other classmates to see how they were doing. As we were talking, Piteran decides to come outside and walk over to us. I explained to him that these were the other classmates from the college. About this time the classmate in our group realizes she has google translate on her phone.
I begin by trying to explain that God is one. Piteran told me he believed that Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva were one. So I explained God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… The Trinity. Not usually the first thing you want to explain to someone who has never heard of Jesus Christ. It was even more tricky because every time I would use “spirit” or “life” it would translate into atman. This word has lots of negative connotations which I had no idea how to contextualize to Christianity.
But it worked well with this little google translate to explain that God has wrath toward bad deeds (he didn’t recognize the word for sin, and heaven knows I wasn’t about to use karma). And that Yēśū khrīṣṭa (येशूख्रीष्ट), God the Son, came from God the Father, died in out place, so that the wrath that God had toward our sin was put on Him in our place. He just never really understood that he was a bad person…
As I finished speaking with Piteran, I began to realize the genuine friendship and love he showed toward me. Something hardly any American would show to a complete stranger. Yet this is precisely how the world is to recognize the Christian: by their love. Piteran endured harsh language barrier, provided a coke, welcomed me into his home, laughed with me, and taught me. What of the Christians? Most “Christians” seem content in going to their biweekly masquerade to be pleased by a concert and comedy show only daring to turn to their neighbor during the designated time to shake their hands. Is this love? I dare not come to Piteran to please his senses with all the music of angels, not dance his heart around with all the comedy in our itinerate evangellyfish clowns running people through the McEvangelical drive thrus. I must show him sacrificial love as Christ has shown to me (Rom. 5:7-8).
There is a dark and evil kingdom enslaving all people in its cold, rusty chains. Believers combat against such darkness so all slaves may know the true King who rescues people from such despair. In the midst of the battle, Numbers and Popularity turn to Christians and scream, “Pick up your weapons! Push forward the canons of cultural relevance and fire! Wield the invitational saber and thrash!” They demand knowing these are glass weapons. These weapons shatter on the chains. Sadly many think it’s the chains the shatter, but the eternal chains still bind those without repentance and faith. Down in the dungeon, the dark gloomy laberynth, resides the people that search no way out. “Believers” look at them with disdain and society has casted them to bottom. But Christ has warred against this darkness and broken into the depths of the oubliette. All the while, his “followers” are picking up toy water guns and foam swords to get the applause and laughter of the chains. True followers pick up the genuine weapons—clear preaching of the Gospel, intercessory prayer, and sacrificial love—and follow Christ down into the darkest parts of the prison because He is worthy of all capitulation.
 Fuller, Andrew Gunton. The Complete Works of Andrew Fuller: with a Memoir of His Life. London: William Ball and Co., 1841. Pg. 152