Preston and Kelly Condra are the founders of Sufficient Word Publishing, a ministry designed to increase, edify and equip the church using the power of the Holy Spirit through God’s sufficient, written Word. Preston is an ordained pastor who was involved as a youth and adult singles minister for nearly 10 years before joining the staff of Watchman Fellowship. He has also served as an adjunct professor and guest lecturer at Christian college and seminaries.
Kelly practices counseling and private coaching after working for a decade as a teacher. She also founded Northern Light Missions, a Gospel and Christian education ministry. Together they have co-authored a couple books, one of which was discussed today, 'By Which We Are Saved'.
Preston has noted that the marginalization of the church has led to culture shift of a magnitude almost unimaginable just a few decades ago. He began by noting how this has affected things within the Southern Baptist denomination where they are seeing a sharp decline in baptisms.
Preston agrees that believers baptism as practiced by Southern Baptists has nothing to do with a person's salvation, but Southern Baptists do track the number of new believers by the number of individuals that are baptized.
In 1950, the Southern Baptist Convention baptized 376,000 people. Today they're baptizing 250,000. In 2017, they baptized 280,000. To drop 30,000 in one year is significant because at 280,000 you'd think those individuals would be sharing their faith.
He also cited George Barna who looked at evangelicals overall. Last year he indicated that 23% of Christian adults share their faith on a regular basis. When he looked at what they're sharing (the idea that people are basically good, that humans have evolved from other life forms, and that Jesus understands our struggle because he sinned while on earth), he said only 10% actually share a biblical gospel.
Kelly then explained something that complicates matters. For example, the Latter Day Saints (Mormons) used to clearly say they are not Christians whereas now they say they are. So if a group that is so far removed from orthodox beliefs is now calling themselves Christian and Christians themselves are starting to view Christianity as a lifestyle (being moral, church membership, reading the Bible, believing Jesus existed etc.), that's not right because Christians are to be 'born-again'. This involves a spiritual birth that has you communing with God.
Does the believer's call to proclaim the gospel change just because society is changing or less accepting of Christianity? Kelly believes the Bible does not change and God's call to us doesn't change. What has changed is the fact that Christians are viewing it differently in the culture and this has some from other nations believing we need to be evangelized.
In the end, Preston and Kelly believe that 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 is the essential core of the gospel. This involves who Christ is, what he did, why we need it, how we get it and where it's found.
This program is packed with information as Preston and Kelly answer questions critical to the gospel and its presentation to non-believers. For example:
--Is faith a 'work' in itself?
--Is 'spiritual birth' something that is commonly understood?
--What is a false conversion and how can we keep that from happening?
--Does a person have to see that they're lost before they can be saved?
--Should a person ask someone they are witnessing to for a decision for Christ or not?
--How do we answer the person who challenges the character of God as it relates to hell?
--Did God create evil?
--How do we answer someone who says that all religions lead to God?
--What about the person who claims they show by their conduct that they're a Christian?
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