Tuesday, August 28, 2012
This world may have changed, and we see that it has (still is, in fact), but the Gospel has not. The un-changing, life-transforming, world-shaking reality that Jesus Christ alone is the way to God, that He provides salvation from sin and the promise of eternal life, has not escaped my heart. It has not left my mind. A greater understanding of the knowledge of the awfulness of my sin verses the holiness of my God has awakened me to more fervent repentance, a stronger urgency to pray, and above all the recognition that the gospel is not meant to be kept a hidden secret for those "who are able to find it". This understanding is foolish. This view is not only damaging to the believer, it is a misrepresentation of the Gospel. Because it is the very word of God, it is meant to be preached, followed, and replicated (Matthew 28). Because it has been entrusted to us, it has been commanded to be taught (2 Timothy 2). Because it is the only source of eternal truth, it towers over the falsities of other world-views, and man-made attempts at religion; and is therefore worthy to be defended (1 Peter 3). It is able to awaken dead hearts. It has the power to convict. It is worthy to be accepted. The gospel is not just a message. The gospel is not just a story. The gospel is a person, and his name is Jesus Christ.
All this to say that, in all things and in all circumstances, in great achievements and in painful failures, we must never forget this: our knowledge of who God is and what He has done must lead to a constant application of that knowledge in our daily lives. It must move us to have the kind of faith in God that persists in trusting Him throughout everything; never yielding to circumstance. It must enliven us to proclaim the beauty of who God is and the wonder of what He's done for us. This is something that I have come under great conviction of recently. Knowledge of who God is and what He has done for sinners was never meant to simply be received, and kept locked away. If knowledge of God doesn't result in the consistent application of it and a willingness to share it, then all we end up doing is developing large, conceited brains and empty, action-depleted hearts within ourselves. In seminary circles, I'm tired of a focus being placed more on what we can know about God, and less on taking what He has already revealed about Himself and His purposes for the world and being intentional in seeking to share that with the communities around us, and the world beyond our borders. That brings me to my main point. My last paragraph, and the main thought behind this blog post, is for those who are aspiring to lead in a ministry capacity.
To my fellow brothers and sisters in the faith, I say this to you: all the seminary education in the world doesn't matter if your faith is silent. All the knowledge of memorized scripture verses accounts for nothing if the application of it is non-existent in your life. Every theological stance you possess on various, popular doctrines is rendered useless if you do not actively represent them with how you live in accordance with Scripture. Stop valuing everything you think you know about God. At best, those types of issues can only ever be hot-beds of eager debate. They do not equal a greater knowledge of God. They do not position you in a place of elevated, special favor with God. If you're going to value something, value an opportunity to share the Gospel whenever you see one! If you're going to value something, value the reality of who God is and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross that brought you back to a right relationship with Him. And to take this a step further: Prioritize the consistent, intentional, and joyful re-telling of this truth to all people, in all places, at all times, and in all situations. It may hurt your pride to have to hear this, but the reality is people do not care about all the knowledge of God you claim you have. You will not be effective if all you have is lofty words and complex thoughts of who God is. Somewhere in between all the knowledge and the academic jargon, there needs to shine forth evidence that your life has been changed. What people care about is the application. They care about how the message you're bringing has taken affect in your life. They want to see how it has changed you. They want to see if the gospel is really relevant for them in their lives Today! Your journey of faith doesn't have to be a past event that took place a long time ago. Even more so, it should be a current occurrence in your life that still demonstrates who God is and what He's done. Personally, I hunger for a revival of authentic, missional Christians. I thirst for a fresh re-discovery of the captivating presence of God in the lives of Christians who have become too complacent and apathetic to notice it's power. Please join me in prayer for a more committed generation of Christians who will focus more on sharing the Gospel and less on intellectual gain.
I leave you with this final thought: The greatest tragedy is not in seeing a person live without the saving knowledge of Christ. The greatest tragedy is in witnessing a Christian who has the saving knowledge of Christ who not only possesses no desire to share it with others, but sees no need to.
As always, my thoughts are merely my personal views on different matters. Which means they have the possibility of being not only wrong, but completely misinformed. I only ask that you, at the end of the day, are able to understand that: My desire is for the progress of Christ and his gospel. My focus is on the passionate, biblically-faithful teaching of the gospel, My hope is for the salvation of souls. My heartbeat is for the un-reached people of the world.
Father God, continue to guide us with your unfailing love and always sustain us with your unfathomable grace. In Christ's name I pray, Amen.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Thursday, February 23, 2012
To lay bare the reality that most of us who call ourselves Christians, though we know all the catchy bible verses, sing all the modern worship songs, believe all the right Reformed ideas; that the heartbeat of our lives doesn't reveal us as identified in Christ as we'd like to think we are.
So, let's dig for those roots.
- I'm not talking about connectable-muddy sticks hidden deep beneath the ground that grow trees.
- I'm talking about the biblical truth of Jesus Christ as the foundation of what gives us meaning.
The foundation that explains who we are. Where we're found. Why we exist.
I am reminded of Matthew 7:24-27, where Jesus is wrapping up his Sermon on the Mount to the crowds that have gathered to hear him teach. By utilizing the metaphors of two houses, (one built on rock, the other on sand), Jesus is explaining the importance of finding and placing our firm foundation in him. In trusting him, no matter what comes our way in our lives.
The wise man builds his house out of rock. He began with the knowledge that a solid foundation is crucial in being able to weather the storms that inevitably will come. The foolish man builds his house out of sand. Even the most minor of disturbances sends his foundation crumbling to the ground. He did not understand the importance of laying a framework in a foundation that will last.
To make a long, drawn-out explanation short, this is the point: The wise man obeys the words of Christ and finds his identity only in Him alone. The foolish man convinces himself there's another way. Our faith cannot be grounded in our emotions, our experiences, or in anything that points towards us, or what we can make happen on our own. Why? Because those things change over time. They are not constant. They do not provide the answers to obstacles that we do not have the power to overcome. But a strong identity rooted in Christ, will stand the test of anything. And that type of identity will never yield to pain or circumstance. We must understand that we do not have the ability to reason what is good and make a consistent effort to do it. Nothing good comes from going your own way. In thinking that you can follow Christ with your whole life, and at the same time identify yourself with a lifestyle you've created. An identity placed in anything other than the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ will only ever be a false sense of security developed by a prideful person. As God's creation, we are called to be identified in Christ. To live in the image of God. If, to you, that looks like something different than the daily pursuit of holiness, then I can pretty much guarantee that the image you're trying to identify with isn't from God. It's a fabrication from the world. An empty promise. An attractive lie. A foundation that is destined to fail. And an identity that is about as identifiable to a follower of Christ as a Slim-Fast label taped to a McDonald's milkshake. It's a false advertisement and it doesn't show you as found in Christ. May we see that our hearts will forever be restless until they rest in Him.
Return to your roots. Examine your heart. Do you trust Him like you claim you do? Do you identify with the Savior that made you alive when you were dead in your sin? Do you think there's something better out there? If so, the first thing you need to do is identify yourself as the problem. And recognize an unwavering faith in Christ as the solution. Build your identity upon the solid rock of Christ. The world will try to tell you it can promise you everything you think you want. The world will even attempt to give you what you think can satisfy. But the words of the world are sinking sand. Your savior is the sure-footed solid ground. Understand who you're found in, and where you're called to stand. Build there. And remain forever.