College Pastor Vic Doss and others with Watkinsville First Baptist Church give an update from The Great Exchange event hosted at UGA on Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. We are thankful for partnership with ministries like Watty College!

Tony Gray, BCM Campus Minister at Georgia Gwinnett College, shares how The Great Exchange has helped students be more comfortable sharing their faith on campus.

Reformation Day: Justified by Faith

By Kelsey Flowers

Five hundred years ago today, a priest named Martin Luther made his way to the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and nailed a piece of paper containing 95 revolutionary theses to the door. This single act was a defining moment in Western history that would begin the Protestant Reformation.

The purpose of his theses was to call out the corruption in the Roman Catholic Church, particularly the papal practice of accepting payment, or indulgences, for the forgiveness of sins. Even though Prince Frederick III had done away with the sale of indulgences in Wittenberg, many church members traveled to buy them. [i] When they returned, they showed Luther their purchased pardons, believing they no longer had to repent of their sins.

Luther was a man of deep conviction, and his frustration with this practice led him to write the 95 Theses. The 21st item on the list says, “Thus those indulgence preachers are in error who say that a man is absolved from every penalty and saved by papal indulgences,” and the 23rd says, “If remission of all penalties whatsoever could be granted to anyone at all, certainly it would be granted only to the most perfect, that is, to very few.”[ii]

When asked the question, “Why should God allow you into Heaven?,” people often try to justify themselves through their actions, comparing their righteousness to the righteousness of others or hoping that on judgment day their good deeds will outweigh the bad. Unfortunately, people with this view struggle to find a satisfying answer to the troubling question, “How good is good enough?”

The reality is that, as Romans 3:10 says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Our best days are not enough to erase the bad things we have done, as we have fallen short of God’s perfect standard of righteousness and, as a result, we find ourselves separated from Him. Thankfully, God did not leave us without hope of being saved. We can find total assurance of salvation and rest in the gospel!

Justification before God comes only by faith in the work that Jesus Christ has done on our behalf. Romans 1:17, which held an important place in Luther’s conversion to Christianity, says, “For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’”

Even when we were spiritually dead in our sins and separated from God, in His great mercy, God sent His Son Jesus to live the perfect life we couldn’t live. Jesus took on Himself the punishment for our sins and the wrath of God, so that we could be made alive and reconciled to Him. Christ’s righteousness is credited to those who place their faith in Him. Because of this, when God looks at those who believe in what Jesus has done, He sees Christ’s righteousness and His just wrath is satisfied.

After nailing the 95 theses to the door of that church on October 31, 1517, Luther faced the threat of death, was labeled a heretic and was excommunicated from the Catholic Church for not recanting his statement. In spite of this intense opposition, he held his ground, and by the time he died in 1546, his revolutionary beliefs had formed the basis for the Protestant Reformation, which would revolutionize Western civilization over the next three centuries. October 31st is commemorated as Reformation Day, reminding Christians each year of the saving grace that comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Each one of us has failed to meet God’s perfect standard of righteousness, and comparative righteousness is not enough to make up for our sins. The good news is that Christ’s imputed righteousness is all that we need for assurance of salvation and eternal security with God.


[i] “Martin Luther Posts 95 Theses.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/martin-luther-posts-95-theses.

[ii] Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, www.luther.de/en/95thesen.html.

Over the last few months, The Great Exchange team members Matheus and Sahra have connected with various ministries in Brazil to organize several TGE outreaches. We have had five TGE events during this time, and God has opened doors for us to go beyond Brasilia to other areas of Brazil as well.

On September 23, 2017, we had a TGE outreach in Águas Claras, and three people made decisions for Christ. The pastors joined us for the first time and they absolutely loved it! Next month our team is going to The University of Viçosa in Minas Gerais 14 hours away from Brasilia. The university hosts 20,000 students, and we will be on campus with the university biblical association.

We are planning to go to two new campuses in Brasilia this semester as well and have already scheduled a TGE outreach in Fortaleza in February 2018.

God has been strengthening The Great Exchange team in Brazil, and we are praying for more team members to join us in the outreaches! Please continue to pray with us for the people we meet in Brazil to receive the gospel.

Our Work and Our Rest

By: Kelsey Flowers

For many, Labor Day is a break from work, a signal of the end of summer and the beginning of college and NFL football. Ironically, this day of rest was established during a time of great unrest in American history.

It was the height of the Industrial Revolution, and many Americans, even children as young as 5 or 6, were working extremely long hours for low wages.[i] On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took an unpaid day off from work to march through NYC protesting the unsafe working conditions. This protest was the first Labor Day parade in American history. It wasn’t until 1894, twelve years later, that Congress made Labor Day a national holiday in an effort to mend ties with the laborers after a series of strikes ended with the deaths of several Americans.

Today, Labor Day is reserved as a day to rest from one’s work and remember those who struggled to improve American working conditions.

As I was reflecting on this holiday from physical work, I was reminded of the spiritual rest Jesus offers to all who believe in Him. Unlike the temporary break that a physical holiday offers, God’s rest is deep and lasting and promises rest for the soul.

In Isaiah 30:15, God promises, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” In a world of people striving to gain acceptance and value through their own efforts, Truth simply cries, “Rest!”

When Jesus said from the cross, “It is finished,” He accomplished the work needed to make us right before God. This truth should not only be preached to non-Christians, but believers should remember it daily as well so that we will not fall into trying to maintain that right standing on our own. In light of the work Christ accomplished for me, I am motivated to live my life for Him.

So as we rest on this first Monday of September, I encourage you to remember once again the work Christ accomplished for you.

Remember and rest in Him.

 

[i] History.com Staff. “Labor Day.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2010, www.history.com/topics/holidays/labor-day.

By: Kelsey Flowers

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

In his book, There is a God, former atheist Antony Flew writes that perhaps the most innately credible argument for God’s existence is the argument for design and order. The design that is apparent in nature advocates the existence of an intelligent Designer. This argument is commonly referred to as the teleological argument.

Flew writes, “Science spotlights three dimensions of nature that point to God. The first is the fact that nature obeys laws. The second is the dimension of life, of intelligently organized and purpose-driven beings, which arose from matter. The third is the very existence of nature.”[i]

If one accepts that there are laws of nature, then something must impose that orderliness on the universe. It is strongly contended that theism is the only viable option, and the evidence of design is consistent with the God of the Bible. In fact, without God there is no satisfactory explanation for order in the world.

Evidence of the existence of a cosmic designer can be seen in the exceptionally small likelihood that the universe would permit life by chance. Apologist William Lane Craig gives the example that a change in the strength of gravity or of the atomic weak force by only one part in 10100 would have prevented life from being sustainable in the universe.[ii] This is just one of many examples of the fine-tuned nature of the universe.

In considering this complex order, Craig writes, “The view that Christian theists have always held, that there is an intelligent designer of the universe, seems to make much more sense than the atheistic view that the universe, when it popped into being uncaused out of nothing, just happened to be by chance fine-tuned to an incomprehensible precision for the existence of intelligent life.”

The details of the world’s workings and the complexity of life and nature indicate that it could not have all come together by chance.

Recently, the Christian satire source The Babylon Bee published a piece with the clever headline, “Apple iPhone Evolved Naturally Over Billions of Years, Experts Now Believe.”[iii] The article reads, “While the iPhone may have the appearance of design, and, yes, an Apple logo on the back, we assure you, these are happy accidents and not the result of intelligent designers creating the device… The obvious answer to the origin of the highly complex smartphone is that it created itself ex nihilo.”

A person would be deluded to think that something as complex as the iPhone could come together without a designer. If even one essential part of the smartphone were missing or broken, the whole device would not work. The iPhone is an irreducibly complex device that could not have come together piece by piece over time to form a smartphone in working order without a creator.

Similarly, and more seriously, in an article published by Answers in Genesis, Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey give the example of a living cell that has complex parts that cannot operate independently.[iv] Because each part of the cell cannot operate without all the others, a cell cannot be the result of an evolutionary process in which fragments are added one at a time. An intelligent designer is required.

Just as it is ludicrous to argue that the state-of-the-art iPhone came in to existence in any way other than through the design of someone like Steve Jobs, it is also unreasonable to suppose, after any study, that the world and all that is in it came into existence in any way other than through the purposeful action of a great Designer.

The evidence of design points not to just any designer, but it is consistent with the God of the Bible. Irreducible complexity, perfectly calculated gravitational force, and the interdependence of the parts of a cell are exactly what one would expect from biblical creation.

The laws of nature and the orderliness of the universe are consistent with the character of God. The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 1:20, “For His invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.”

In considering the laws of nature, one must conclude that something or someone imposes that regularity on the universe. Who is it that brings this about? The God who made Himself known through His Word and His creation is the only serious option.

 


[i] Flew, Antony, and Roy Abraham. Varghese. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. New York: HarperOne, 2008. Print.

[ii] Craig, William Lane. “The Problem of Evil.” ReasonableFaith.org. Reasonable Faith. Web. 13 May 2017.

[iii] “Apple iPhone Evolved Naturally Over Billions of Years, Experts Now Believe.” The Babylon Bee. 21 July 2017. Web. 23 July 2017.

[iv] Lisle, Dr. Jason, and Tim Chaffey. “Commentary on the Intelligent Design Movement.” Answers in Genesis. 29 Mar. 2012. Web. 23 July 2017.

by Robert & Donna Jenkins

Praise the Lord for the opportunity to share the gospel at the University of Jyväskylä!!! The door and connection was opened due to the Lord and our son, Joshua, who is currently getting his Masters at two universities in Europe…one in Greece (University of Thessaly) and the other in Finland. So, prayerfully, we’ll be able to visit Greece with TGE, too!

Now, when we arrived in Paris, for our layover, headed to Finland we missed our flight and luggage. Our luggage had all the TGE banners and materials, and of course our clothes, too! As a matter of fact, our luggage arrived 2 days before our departure back to the States. The luggage traveled to NY, Canada, Paris again, and then finally to Finland. We were definitely experiencing spiritual warfare, but that was just fine with us! God still got the glory and we were victorious. Joshua’s Pastor in Finland, allowed us to make copies of the surveys from our TGE website and even gave us plenty of Bibles (in other languages, too).

Although, Finland is very cold spiritually and naturally, we had a great time and praise God for the seeds that were sown and the soul that accepted Jesus Christ as Savior! We had two days on campus. The first day was so cold and the second day was warm.

The student ministry on campus was greatly impacted, because they had never shared their faith before. In Finland, you don’t see many people sharing their faith. Additionally, we had some great conversations with the students, because they never experienced someone sharing Christ with them. We left the student ministry with surveys and they plan to continue the movement of TGE. They will also follow up with the surveys that were conducted.

We definitely want to go back to Finland! We had a blast!

 

Please join us for a TGE Training session from 12:15 – 2:00 pm at Living Hope Church in Athens. Look forward to seeing you there! As always please let us know if you will be attending.

By: Kelsey Flowers

“But those who suffer he delivers in their suffering; he speaks to them in their affliction.” Job 36:15.

The problem of evil is one of the most common objections raised against the Christian faith. It is a question that has both an intellectual and an emotional side. Intellectually, people search for a rational way to reconcile the existence of God with the presence of great evil in the world. Emotionally, people struggle with the idea that God would allow deep pain and suffering to occur in their own lives or in the lives of people around them every day.

While the problem of evil is one that has deep significance for both skeptics and Christians alike, the reality is that Christianity actually provides the greatest solution to the problem.

Antony Flew was one of the most well-known and outspoken atheists during the last half of the twentieth century. One of the primary reasons he doubted the existence of God was due to his struggle with the problem of evil.[i] After living most of his life as an adamant atheist publishing prolific writings in favor of it, Flew changed his mind – moving from atheism to deism. While claiming to be a deist and not believing in the afterlife, intellectually, Flew admitted that if there were a theistic worldview that would make the most sense it would be Christianity.

C.S. Lewis dealt with the problem of pain on both an intellectual and emotional level, writing after his wife’s death, “Meanwhile, where is God? This is one of the most disquieting symptoms… But go to Him when your need is desperate, when all other help is in vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face, and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside.”[ii] In the end, Lewis did come to terms with his grief and recognized that a loving God does exist despite suffering.

In considering the implications of evil in the world and in the lives of people, two arguments come to the forefront in support of God’s existence.

Without God there can be no objective framework by which to distinguish between good and evil.

In addressing the problem of evil in the world and the existence of God, Christian apologist Dr. Ravi Zacharias often replies:

When you say there is evil, you are assuming there is such a thing as good. When you assume there is such a thing as good, you are assuming there is such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil. And when you assume there is such a thing as a moral law, you must pause at a moral law giver, but that is whom [you] are trying to disprove and not prove. If there is no moral law giver, there is no moral law. If there is no moral law, there is no good. If there is no good, there is no evil. What becomes of the critic’s question? [iii]

In the absence of God there is no absolute right and wrong that forces itself on human conscience.

When truly thought through, one knows that objective values do exist. Otherwise, we would not recognize that actions like chemical attacks on innocents or mass genocides are not simply socially offensive behavior but moral outrages.

Apologist William Lane Craig points out the following paradox: “Evil actually serves to establish the existence of God. For if objective values cannot exist without God and objective values do exist – as is evident from the reality of evil – then it follows inescapably that God exists.”[iv]

While in one view the presence of evil calls in to question the existence of God, in another deeper sense, it demonstrates His very existence.

If there were no God, evil could not be identifiable.

With God, there is hope in spite of suffering.

In the book of Genesis we learn that God created the world and people to live in peace with Him. However, man broke the law of God through sin, resulting in his fall from that place of perfect peace with God. Thankfully, God did not leave mankind without hope, and ultimately, His plan of redemption brought more glory to Himself and provided the solution to the problem.

Ironically, rather than being disproved by the problem of evil in the world, Christian theism is what actually provides the strongest solution. When considering the evil in the world, one wonders if God could possibly care about people at all. The answer is provided clearly in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God sent His son Jesus Christ to endure ultimate suffering on our behalf, taking on Himself the punishment of the sins of the world, separated from God so that mankind could be reconciled to Him. Because of what Christ did for us in exchanging His righteousness for our sin (1 Corinthians 5:21), the problem of evil is put in a new perspective. The real problem of evil is the problem of our own evil.

William Lane Craig said it well:

Filled with sin and morally guilty before God, the question we face is not how God can justify Himself to us, but how we can be justified before Him. So paradoxically, even though the problem of evil is the greatest objection to the existence of God, at the end of the day God is the only solution to the problem of evil. If God does not exist, then we are lost without hope in a life filled with gratuitous and unredeemed suffering. God is the final answer to the problem of evil, for He redeems us from evil and takes us into the everlasting joy of an incommensurable good, fellowship with Himself.

God is not disproved by the presence of evil around us; rather He is the solution for it.


[i] Flew, Antony, and Roy Abraham. Varghese. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. New York: HarperOne, 2008. Print.

[ii] C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed (Bantam Books, 1961), p. 4.

[iii] Zacharias, Ravi K. “Atheism Angles for Acceptance.” Audio blog post. Just Thinking. Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, April 10, 2013. Web. May 13, 2017.

[iv] Craig, William Lane. “The Problem of Evil.” ReasonableFaith.org. Reasonable Faith. Web. 13 May 2017.

My name is Sahra Lemos; I am a Brazilian architect and urban planner. When I was a student at the University of Brasilia I was introduced to The Great Exchange in a campus ministry meeting. The leaders asked us if someone could translate for a group of American missionaries while they shared the Gospel. So I volunteered, and loved the work the group (The Great Exchange) did. I loved how simple and effective it was to share the Gospel, and of course I loved the people.

In the coming months, another TGE team came from the US and I helped them again. I continued working with The Great Exchange until the day God planned a trip that made us all – Brazilians and Americans – closer as brothers, sisters and friends.  He also showed us we Brazilians should not wait for the American teams to come back to present the great exchange of Christ to people around us. We felt moved and it was impossible to stop it. We met new friends – believers, non-believers and people who just like to talk about Jesus.

Despite whom we are as sinners, God has been merciful and used us in ways we could not imagine. In 2016, The Great Exchange Brazil had more than 300 conversations about God’s amazing plan for us. It is hard to say how many people really trusted Christ, but, as the Bible says, the Word of God does not return void. So we are absolutely sure these 300+ people heard the real truth and had their lives changed. We hear often from unbelievers that they have never had such nice, calm, honest, deep conversations about God and Jesus like they have with TGE Brazil.

The conversations and experiences we have had here in Brazil are not only changing people’s lives that make decisions to trust their lives to Christ, but they are also changing ours. We are being guided by the Holy Spirit and are being changed.

We have met people like Petra, a very special friend from Cameroon. She prayed with her pastor for opportunities to share her faith. Just the day after praying that with him, she saw us in a special TGE event God had planned at the university. On that day, 4 people trusted Christ while talking to her. She is now part of our TGE team and helps us every time she can. We also have Pedro Biagi on our team. He is a strong believer, born and raised in a Christian family. He left his first experience with TGE Brazil with tears in his eyes because in his whole life he did not have so many opportunities to share his faith this directly, respectfully. He had never seen how people so interested in talking about God and how they can be changed by that.

Another example of people we got to meet is Priscila. She also became part of the team and a very close friend. She was already a believer, but was facing some problems concerning her faith when she took the survey. We did the 21-Day Challenge together and God amazingly helped us both in our struggles. We found out we struggled with very similar things and, through the Bible, learned more about how to fight them. So we were strengthened and now have the opportunity to work together as we share what we learned about God’s love with others.

People have been changed. And we have been changed while we are used to transform people’s lives.

We are just a tiny little part of a way bigger plan God is working in our lives and in the lives of those who don’t believe in Him. And it is our honor to be a part of that and to have the assurance that the work we do is part of the kingdom of the King of kings. And it is all just because He loves us deeply.

Pray for us as we go to 2017 with a lot of challenges and dreams. The main goal is to make God’s name known, praised and glorified and to be used by the Lord to change lives. And that is an honor.

God bless you all.

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