“Don’t think – feel! It is like a finger, pointing away to the moon. Don’t concentrate on the finger or you’ll miss all the heavenly glory.”
And so Bruce Lee introduced an entire generation to Eastern philosophy. That and lots of awesome Kung Fu.
I remember thinking, when watching Enter the Dragon as an 8-year-old, how awesome it would be to fight like that. To do a 360 backflip, kick a man on the chin and then land in exactly the same position without breaking a sweat… I’d be the toast of my street, my school, the entire town.
I never did think much of the whole finger-pointing-at-the-moon thing though.
Wait, that’s not entirely true. I remember thinking it sounded profound. Like something wise and maybe even true. But not enough to move me in a deep, philosophical way. Prepubescent boys in 1980s England were far more interested in Star Wars, karate, and quoting movie lines than pondering deep Zen mysteries, it must be said.
But of course, as a grown-up whose head is now crammed with an overabundance of cinematic one-liners, I often find myself pondering the profundity of such statements.
This thing about fingers pointing to the moon, it certainly does sound intense. I’m a stickler for good anecdotes and truth pictures, so I find myself trying to decipher Mr. Lee’s teaching, particularly in my context as a Christian.
Could it mean it’s dangerous to focus and obsess over a pastor instead of the Christ he proclaims? I can agree with that. Modern consumerist Evangelicalism is the perfect petri dish for this kind of superstar pastor hero worship. Have you heard so-and-so’s podcast? Have you read his latest book? Do you subscribe to his blog? Do you follow him on Twitter? You gonna catch him at next year’s so-and-so uber-conference? He’s just so awesome!
Sure we can and should love our pastors. And it’s OK to have Christian heroes to look up to and emulate (I have plenty). But things go awry the moment we admire the pastor in exchange for the Jesus he’s preaching (if, indeed, he preaches Jesus at all).
In this age of nifty digital content, slick video, and even slicker websites, it’s easy to idolize the messenger while overlooking the Message.
Could Bruce Lee have referred to revelation? Could the “pointing finger” be the stuff about God, the theology, the right doctrine, the ideas and truths that show us who God is?
If so, I say “concentrate on the finger!” Theology, the study of God, allows us to see, understand, and revel in the glory of our Maker. To think that doctrine and “the deep mysteries of God” somehow distract from the awesomeness of God is a falsehood. We study to know, to plumb the depths of His knowledge, to drink deep the pure waters of His revelation in order to celebrate Him, to be refreshed, instructed, rebuked, and grounded in God.
To NOT study about God is to gaze into heaven, ignorant.
This is important, as Jesus is the ultimate “finger” that points us to God. “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” He told Philip in the upper room (John 14:9). If we set our gaze on Jesus, if we seek to know Him intimately, we get a fuller, clearer, and richer understanding of our Creator.
More importantly, Jesus is the only way to be reconciled to the Father (John 14:6). If we want to know this righteous and holy God, if we want to be hoisted from our sinful quagmire and restored to Him, we need to focus on Jesus, the very revelation of God, who gave his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).
To not focus on Jesus, to sort of throw our hands up and assume that God is too nebulous to properly grasp (which is what a lot of Christians actually believe these days) is dangerous for the soul, to say the least.
Of course, Master Lee had neither of these things in mind. He was simply telling his student to not overthink Kung Fu. According to Lee, the act of raising your leg and kicking someone 4 feet into the air was simply a wonderful thing to bask in – to feel – rather than to analyze and figure out.
So actually it’s not as mysterious as it sounds. But I thank Lee for pointing me to Jesus.
I’ve always struggled to live the Christian life. Call me a dolt with an unquestionably thick skull but I’m the kind of believer that easily forgets what Christ has done for me, focusing instead on what I must do for Christ lest I incur His wrath and be smitten across the forehead with a lightning bolt, ala Harry Potter (though infinitely more hideous and not nearly as cool).
That or sometimes I just fail to obey coz, you know, it’s just so hard.
These days, by God’s grace, I’m not as passionately obsessed with sin that the gospel is eternally eclipsed. I’ve learned to glory and rest in the power of the gospel, to embrace the love of Christ than be oblivious to it.
But still there are days when the narrow way feels more like a tightrope.
I suspect that you, dear Christian friend, often feel the same way. That’s sort of how it is I guess; God bridges the chasm between His and our unrighteous selves, He saves, regenerates, and gifts us with His Holy Spirit, reassures us of His love, grants us the power to live victorious lives and what do we do? We go back to building some sorry excuse for a bridge in an attempt to connect both sides of the chasm, as if Jesus Christ were not enough, as if He has not already reconciled us to Himself.
This is human nature, of course. It is counter-intuitive to believe in a sovereign God who alone redeems us and makes us holy. It is anathema to our fallen minds that the Lord would choose to save us without ever asking us for our approval or to at least chip in and aid the process. As many of us like to quote, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. We practically fall over ourselves to contribute, to give, to do something in order that we might own our salvation.
It’s just that God will have nothing of the sort.
You see the gospel declares that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Did you get that? Christ died while we were still sinners – rebellious people, dead in trespasses, unable to please God, indeed not even seeking Him. Salvation, in this light, is wholly of the LORD and not some cooperative effort between Creator and created. We wouldn’t have anything to do with Him, much less cooperate with salvation.
No, the gospel is an act of God, a divine accomplishment devoid of human will. And to God be infinite glory because it means He gets ALL the credit.
Charles Spurgeon explained it this way:
And if GOD does require the sinner—dead in sin—that he should take the first step, then he requireth just that which renders salvation as impossible under the gospel as ever it was under the law, seeing man is as unable to believe as he is to obey, and is just as much without power to come to Christ as he is without power to go to heaven without Christ. The power must be given to him of the Spirit. He lieth dead in sin: the Spirit must quicken him. He is bound hand and foot, fettered by transgression; the Spirit must cut his bonds, and then he will leap to liberty. GOD must come and dash the iron bars out of their sockets, and then he can escape afterwards, but unless the first thing be done for him, he must perish as surely under the gospel as he would have done under the law.
…Salvation is of the Lord. The Lord has to apply it, to make the unwilling willing, to make the ungodly godly, and bring the vile rebel to the feet of Jesus, or else salvation will never be accomplished. Leave that one thing undone, and you have broken the link of the chain, the very link which was just necessary to its integrity. Take away the fact that God begins the good work, and that He sends us what the old divines call preventing grace-take that away, and you have spoilt the whole of salvation; you have just taken the key-stone out of the arch, and down it tumbles. There is nothing left then.
A splendid summation of the doctrine of salvation, I say. I mean how marvelous, how wonderful, right? God predestined me to be saved and He did it without my contribution, and while I was a filthy blasphemer to boot. That’s what makes God so awesome; He can do what no one else can. He loves like no one else can love and saves our sorry selves to prove it.
But back to the quandary of holy living. Why do we have difficulty in living the victorious life? Why does it seem, after having acquired so great a salvation, that we’re more comfortable trying to build a make-shift bridge to the Divine when the cross has been permanently jammed between that otherwise impassable crevice?
It’s because the heart is fallen. Our default setting is to think we can earn our salvation, that somehow we can perform a righteousness that’s pleasing to God. The apostle Paul, while still a murderous rabbi, boasted a pre-salvation resume that listed achievement after flaming achievement. And yet, in Philippians 3, after acquiring a knowledge of Jesus he swiftly declared his human righteousness as dung. His accomplishments simply couldn’t compare to the righteousness of Christ, “which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith” (v9).
Did Paul struggle with sin after being saved? For sure. Romans 7 couldn’t be clearer. The real question is how’d he balance things? How did Paul, as he traversed the tightrope that is the Christian life, keep from falling into the frothy pit of legalism on one side and the bubbling pit of antinomianism (otherwise known as “extreme grace”) on the other?
Good question. Especially as this is how it’s been for the vast majority of Christians – a constant struggle in striking a happy balance between the two. Legalism or extreme grace: finding dead center is like pinning a tail on a donkey while blindfolded. And made to turn in multiple directions. With a steel ball chained to your leg.
You see, for the legalist, the Christian life is a laundry list of do’s and don’ts. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t dance, don’t go to the movies. Piety is defined by the barriers we erect, the strict codes we live by, and the many extrabiblical regulations these entail.
Legalism is difficult because it’s work driven by fear and powered by human flesh. The love of God and Holy Spirit have been chased out of town.
For the antinomian, the Christian life is all about grace, grace, and more grace. Forget the law; it only brings death. The antinomian isn’t interested in pondering God’s commands because he believes God demolished the law through Jesus. Or in other words, the less concerned about the law you are, the less likely you are to be caught in its trappings.
Both positions are helpful in that they spotlight good things that go a long way in helping us purse holy living. After all, the Bible DOES command us to obey God, flee immorality, and despise evil. And yes, the gospel does liberate us from the tyranny of the law and point us to a better way, namely Christ who saves us and through whom we can do all things.
And yet both positions, on their own, can be terribly destructive. Legalism wears us down, breeds self-righteousness, and pushes us away from God rather than closer to Him. It’s like munching aspirin – an awfully grim way to fight pain wouldn’t you agree? Not just that but legalism also gives rise to rebellion against God because sooner or later He’ll seem “too hard to please”. We burn out, bow out, sometimes taking almost forever to return.
Extreme grace frees us from the law, yes, but often results in a disregard for the law that leaves us vulnerable to sin. One extreme I’ve seen is a disdain for confession of sin and a reinterpretation of Luke 11:4 and 1 John 1:9 to reinforce this notion. You know you’re going off the deep-end when you reinvent theology and play origami with Scripture to make it all fit.
But what to do? Mesh the two together? Cut out all the bad parts and live by some hybrid, gospel-powered observing of the rules?
Actually, sort of.
The Bible is chock full of holy directives, positive and negative. Pray without ceasing. Love your enemies. Put on the whole armor of God. Don’t grieve the Holy Spirit. Flee immorality. Don’t be anxious for anything. These and a whole host of practical commands dot the entire New Testament.
I think it’s safe to say that God expects us to obey these commands and live pure, faithful lives.
And yet, not I but Christ, amen? Galatians 2:20 makes it clear that it is not we who live but it is Christ living through us. It’s a mystery, I confess, and I don’t think I’ll fully understand or resolve the tension of this verse while sinful and earthbound. But I do accept this truth and happily concede that God lives through me. How this pans out involves rest in the finished work of Christ, I’m sure.
But obedience is still key. Grace doesn’t nullify our obedience to His word; it empowers us to fulfill it. And while we may not perfectly obey, there’s no doubt Christ will continue to work in us to make us more like Him (Phil. 1:6).
In short, I believe we must make every effort to be holy (Hebrews 12:14), to obey Christ and to live lives that conform to the Word and its prescriptions. We simply have to make sure that this obedience is powered by the gospel. In other words we don’t obey to be accepted; rather, we obey because we are accepted in Jesus. We don’t do good works to earn salvation but we’re saved and therefore able to do good works as a result.
Will we ever find a perfect balance in this life? It’s definitely the goal. And yet I know, as a fallen creature, I’ll always veer into one of those two extremes. Thank God we have an Advocate who prays on our behalf and guarantees ultimate victory. And thank God this same Advocate, the Lord Jesus Himself, has promised not only a final day of deliverance from sin, but the grace to live in holy anticipation of it.
“Are you the king of the Jews?” – Pontius Pilate to Jesus
Who is Jesus?
Settle this question and you’ll settle your eternal destiny.
Many people think Jesus was some kind of great moral teacher – a guru, preternaturally gifted and enlightened in supernatural matters. He glided along the dusty streets of Palestine uttering maxims and waving benedictions while smiling at the surging masses. He had slick hair, a dirt-resistant robe, and pioneered in the ways of the Fu Manchu.
Some people think Jesus was a prophet, chosen by God to preach truth and model compassion. His style: heal the sick, warn the establishment. His message: God is justice. He was a man with conviction and was never afraid to speak his mind (and upturn temple tables if he had to). His goal was to restore spiritual equilibrium to a world gone terribly sideways.
Many more believe that Jesus was God incarnate – the Word become flesh, deity in human form. Greater than any guru, mightier than any mortal prophet, His deal was a mission of mercy; die on a cross as a sacrifice for sin and save humanity from eternal hellfire. He was the God who divested Himself of all heavenly privileges, became a man, lived a sinless life, then gave it all away in a bloody death so you and I wouldn’t have to face the righteous wrath of the Father for all our offensive sins.
Which of these is your Jesus?
I’m guessing most people like the guru version. He’s non-threatening and zen, someone you could totally hang out with. You could ask him about marriage, finding a job, or who he thinks will win the Oscar for best actor next year. He’d give you a nebulous, vaguely spiritual answer that doesn’t even touch on the issue at hand – and you’d love it! Because even though he doesn’t make sense, that’s the point.
His truth is his truth, your truth is yours, and if they intersect, then great. If not, that’s OK too. Everyone’s safe, no toes have been crushed, pats on the back abound.
Plus he has a goatee, which just legitimizes everything.
I suppose there’s a sizable amount of people that regard Jesus as merely a human prophet – someone awesome, someone to be listened to, someone who makes sense (more sense than our ambiguous guru, anyway).
Jesus the prophet is a little less safe than Jesus the guru because things are slightly more purposeful with this guy; he lays down the law and asks us to actually do things. He’s not one for abstract ideas; he talks about God, purpose, and the human will. He’s compassionate, yes, but there’s also something militant about his style. His is a call to arms – fight the flesh and fight the world if you want peace and redemption.
But he can’t save you. And that’s why people are OK with him. Prophet-Jesus is just a poster boy for taking on the world; he’s great inspiration, nothing more. He doesn’t demand that you repent of your sins; he’s more concerned that you battle the evil and darkness of the world.
Where guru-Jesus would wave his hands and ruffle your hair if you disagreed with him, prophet-Jesus would wag his finger and remind you of the dagger in his boot.
He’s all about morals. Which is why moral people love this version of Jesus; he smiles on their good efforts and gives hearty thumbs up to all acts of human righteousness. For people who think highly of themselves and are trusting in their own ability to make it back to God, prophet-Jesus is their form of assurance.
And Jesus the Redeemer God? Well, I can tell you now, no one wants this Jesus.
He’s offensive. He says we should love Him so completely that all our other affections must look like hatred in comparison (Luke 14:26). He insists He’s the ONLY way to God (John 14:6) and asks that we follow Him by giving up our lives (Matt. 16:25) enduring hardship (Luke 9:23), and expecting persecution (Matt. 10:25). The Redeemer Jesus tells us to fear God who has the power to damn us to hell (Luke 12:4-5). He asks that we turn our backs on the sin we love (Luke 5:32) and embrace Him as Savior. If we reject Him He says we will die in our sins (John 8:24).
Most people can’t stand this message and want nothing to do with the Redeemer Jesus (John 3:19; Romans 3:10-12). To them the idea of God becoming a man, dying a humiliating death, and rising from the grave to ascend in victory to the heavens is as bizarre as it gets.
And a Jesus that makes hardcore demands of faith? As some ancient Roman graffiti of a man looking up to Christ with a donkey’s head declares, “Alexamenos worships his God”, so the world regards the Redeemer Jesus as an absurd joke.
But still the question remains. Who is Jesus and what do we do with Him?
For one, He wasn’t a guru. Sure He spoke wise things. Yes, He spoke the truth. But far from being a placid, proverb-spouting hippie, Jesus claimed to actually BE divine truth (John 14:6). And while He certainly expected an encounter with Him to lead people to enlightenment, what He offered was far more than a simple expansion of the mind: “…you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).
Was He a prophet? Sure. He heralded God and the law in no uncertain terms (Mark 12:28-31; Matt. 5:17-19). He preached truth and spoke as one who had authority (Matt. 7:29). But get this; He didn’t just speak divine revelation – He WAS revelation. “When [someone] looks at me, he sees the one who sent me” (John 12:45). Jesus, being fully God in the form of human flesh, was a tangible display of the divine. He was the face of the Father in all His gracious, loving, and righteous glory.
“Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9) He declared. To look upon Jesus is to look upon God. He was more than just a man preaching hard truth; He was God and the message was Himself.
It’s extremely important that we get Jesus right. He wasn’t just a mere mortal who spoke nice things; He wasn’t simply a human prophet with a temporal, earthly agenda.
Jesus’ words and message transcend those of an ordinary man; He was – and is – the very Son of God, sinless, perfect, eternal. His words are true and He is the ONLY one who can save us from our sins.
If we turn from our evil in humble repentance and embrace Him as Savior and Lord, He has promised to cleanse and forgive us, clothe us with His righteousness, transform our minds and hearts, set us on a new path, and restore us to Himself. The Apostle Paul said it best:
…if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Rom. 10:9-13).
C.S. Lewis’ summation on this matter is definitive and I defer to him for a conclusion:
A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.
Make up your mind about Jesus. Your life depends on it.
I’m reading John MacArthur’s landmark book “The Gospel According to Jesus” and I appreciate the way he explains how genuine saving faith involves more than just intellectual assent to ideas about Christ. The book is a tour de force commentary on so-called “Lordship Salvation” (a concept MacArthur endorses but a term he disdains) and “easy-believism”. It’s filled with incalculable insight into what the gospel really demands of men; I highly recommend it.
I especially appreciate the section on repentance (p175). MacArthur elucidates the fact that to truly be saved from sin one must have “repentant faith” – that is a faith that is characterized by repentance or turning away from a life of sin towards a righteous life in God.
This is a touchy issue, I know. Some Christians, in an effort to make a clear divide between “law and grace” will have nothing to do with repentance, insisting that any show of human works is an obvious violation of salvation by grace alone.
Others will include repentance in their gospel call but insist that it’s merely a matter of “changing one’s mind about Jesus”. They’ll appeal to the original Greek word for repentance – “Metanoia”, which literally translates “change of mind” – as proof that repentance is nothing more than an alteration in one’s thinking.
These approaches, however, are a misunderstanding of the issue of saving faith and consequently they muddy the gospel message.
“As Metanoia is used in the New Testament,” says MacArthur, “it always speaks of a change of purpose, and specifically a turning from sin. In the sense Jesus used it, repentance calls for a repudiation of the old life and a turning to God for salvation.”
Repentance, he goes on to explain, is not just changing your mind about Jesus but an ACT of turning away from sin, a key fruit of genuine saving faith. And the Bible is not ambiguous when it comes to this.
In Matthew 21 Jesus tells a parable that drives the idea of repentance home with considerable force:
“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’
“‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.
“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.
“Which of the two did what his father wanted?”
“The first,” they answered.
“You may wonder why Jesus did not include a third son who said, “I will” and kept his word. Perhaps it is because this story characterizes humanity, and we all fall short (cf. Rom. 3:23). Thus Jesus could describe only two kinds of religious people: those who pretend to be obedient but are actually rebels, and those who begin as rebels but repent.”
Jesus made it clear that the son who had a change of mind expressed that change by acting on it. He didn’t just reconsider his father’s command; he went and worked in the vineyard.
Change of mind = action = repentance.
Now waitaminute, you say. Does this mean that salvation is dependent on human works? Can a person only be saved if he demonstrates that he can live a good life?
Of course not. Salvation is a free gift (Ephesians 2:8-10) and a wholly divine work; man cannot earn it no matter how many good deeds he has performed (Philippians 3:3-9).
MacArthur, wary of the issues that often dog the concept of repentance, reminds us of three crucial things:
“Repentance is not merely shame or sorrow from sin, although genuine repentance always involves an element of remorse. It is a redirection of the human will, a purposeful decision to forsake all unrighteousness and pursue righteousness instead.
“Nor is repentance merely a human work. It is, like every element of redemption, a sovereignly bestowed gift of God. The early church, recognizing the authenticity of Cornelius’s conversion, concluded, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life” (Acts 11:18; cf. 5:31). Paul wrote to Timothy that he should gently correct those who oppose the truth, “if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim 2:25). If God is the One who grants repentance, it cannot be viewed as a human work.
“Above all, repentance is not a presalvation attempt to set one’s life in order. The call to repentance is not a command to make sin right before turning to Christ in faith. Rather, it is a command to recognize one’s lawlessness and hate it, to turn one’s back on it and flee to Christ, embracing Him with wholehearted devotion.”
Repentance is therefore an act that a) is beyond simply changing one’s mind or opinion concerning Christ, b) involves remorse and a turning away from sin, c) is actually a gift from God and part of the package of sovereign grace, and d) is NOT a precondition for salvation but rather fruit that comes with saving faith.
If you doubt that last point, consider what James has to say: “Faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26). He’s not saying that you need to have faith + works to be saved, he’s simply saying that it’s easy to say you have faith but if there’s no evidence of it in your life – no fruit – then your faith is probably spurious.
True faith will always show itself in good works. That is, if your faith is genuine, repentance will manifest. If your faith is just empty words, you won’t have any desire to repent and submit to Christ as Lord. In fact, repentance will be impossible because you can’t have one without the other; faith and repentance are inextricably bound up.
John the Baptist castigated the Pharisees and exposed their hypocrisy when he said, “Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” Clearly he believed that repentance produced fruit rather than a mere change in thinking. He even listed some practical manifestations of repentance (see Luke 3).
MacArthur cites various Old Testament references to the truth of repentance as an act of turning away from sin. He notes Jonah 3:10 where the city of Nineveh collectively heeds the prophet’s declaration of doom and repents from their evil. Interestingly the Bible says God “relented concerning the calamity” when He “saw their deeds”. As much as God could probably have read their minds and discerned what they thought on the matter, what He looked for were righteous actions as evidence for their change in thinking.
Why is all this important? Because the gospel and people’s souls are at stake. A gospel message without a call to repentance can lead people into thinking that they can just “believe” in Christ without turning away from evil. That somehow they can embrace Jesus as Savior but carry on with a life of sin.
Many are damned this way because they think they’re Christians when in fact, their faith is dead.
We must take care to preach the whole gospel, including calling people to turn from their sin to embrace Christ as Lord. It’s not a call to show how good one is in order to be accepted by God; rather, it is a call to make sure one’s faith is truly living and real.
To all bean curd lovers, my apologies in advance :P
A few weeks ago I listened to a Christian Q&A session posted online and was disturbed to hear some patently unbiblical teaching regarding confession. I’m not talking about the Roman Catholic practice of holing up in a booth and admitting your wrongdoing to a priest (who has no power to forgive you whatsoever). No this was a little more insidious.
It goes thus: if you’re a true Christian (that is, someone who has repented of sin and is trusting in Jesus Christ alone for salvation) then God has forgiven your trespasses and you never have to ask for forgiveness of sin again.
What a problematic statement.
First of all, it’s half true. Yes, God has forgiven all our sins (Psalm 103:12) and yes justification is a one-time deal wherein God forgives a sinner based on the merit of Christ’s perfect righteousness alone.
But what’s this business of never having to ask forgiveness ever again?
I call it the DAFT view (Don’t Ask for Forgiveness Theology). It’s an old idea often linked to antinomianism or the extreme grace idea that says adherence to the Mosaic Law is unnecessary for the modern Christian.
It’s sneaky, like tofu, pretending to be meat while actually being a poor substitute.
Yet I can see why it’s attractive – who wouldn’t want to just ditch all the negativity that comes with sin and get on with the more positive aspects of the Christian life? If God has forgiven us (which He has) and has blotted out our sins (which He has) then perhaps it makes better sense to focus on living by the Spirit rather than having to contemplate our sin and ask for forgiveness all the time (it’s not).
It’s dangerous theology, to say the least. And that’s because the Bible, contrary to this flawed doctrine, teaches us that:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
You’d think that’s a pretty clear verse huh? Yet many people want to do away with this, as if it were some impediment to the Christian life rather than a critical component. DAFT guys have to reinvent the meaning of this verse and reinterpret certain passages to give their DAFT teaching legs. Yet in so doing they mangle the Bible and destroy the faith of others.
For example, DAFT folks teach that Jesus’ command that we confess our sins doesn’t apply today.
You see the first torpedo that DAFT proponents have to dodge is the issue of Christ’s model of prayer where he teaches us to confess our sins (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). Note Jesus’ specific words:
“Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us” (Luke 11:4).
As a suggested prayer pattern from our Lord I’d say this is a crucial thing to practice. Yet DAFT people say this verse no longer applies to us because, get this: at the time he said that He hadn’t died on the cross yet.
In other words, atonement wasn’t yet made and therefore justification by grace wasn’t yet possible. Jesus, they say, was telling His disciples they needed to continually ask for forgiveness of sin because, who knows, if they got trampled by a mad cow or crushed underneath an unstable brick tower, they might end up in hell for unconfessed and unforgiven sin.
In a works-righteousness economy where people have to earn their salvation by obeying the Law, this makes perfect sense. Except there never was a works-righteousness economy (not in God’s eyes anyway).
You see this whole new covenant (saved by grace)/old covenant (saved by law) thing is a flawed understanding of God’s plan of redemption. It’s a broken understanding of the gospel. DAFT folks would have us believe that as members of the new covenant, the covenant of grace, we are forgiven by grace – the grace made possible by the death of Jesus Christ – who now freely forgives people and no longer demands them to go through the complicated and perpetual requirements of works-righteousness Judaism to be saved.
But that view is only half true because salvation has ALWAYS been by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus. It’s been this way since the time of Adam and Eve. There was never a time in redemptive history where a person could be saved by doing good and praying for forgiveness on a daily basis.
We know this because the author of the book of Hebrews labors to inform his readers (a Jewish community steeped in Pharisaic, works-oriented doctrine and no doubt struggling with the concept of grace) that salvation by grace through faith has always been the case. He argues for this throughout the beautiful chapter of Hebrews 11, beginning with Abel, making his way through Noah and the Patriarchs, steadily contending that salvation was always a free gift imputed to us rather than earned.
Note the author’s comment in verse 11 that Moses forsook the pleasures of the Egyptian court for the sake of Christ “because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Heb 11:26). Moses was looking to Christ in faith!
Paul says that Abraham was justified by faith and not works (Romans 4). Like Moses, he was looking ahead to the Messiah, and was thereby justified by faith in Jesus Christ through the merciful grace of God.
We on the other hand, look back to the finished work of Jesus the Messiah but are still justified by the same means – faith alone by grace alone.
That’s how salvation has always been. To say that people who lived before Christ had to somehow earn or acquire salvation other than through faith in Christ is unbiblical.
In light of this, what did Jesus mean when he gave his model of prayer? If he wasn’t teaching his disciples to ask for forgiveness daily that they might be consistently assured of salvation, what was he saying?
In John 13 we find a fascinating answer. Jesus and his disciples gather in the upper room for the Passover meal, the Last Supper. They have come in from another long day in the hot and dusty outdoors, their feet grimy and in need of washing before sitting down to eat. Jesus, in a startling act of humility and love, decides to perform this act Himself. He wraps himself in a towel, splashes some water into a bowl, and begins to wash his disciple’s feet.
Peter finds this offensive. The Lord God of the universe is washing them? He quickly objects: “You shall never wash my feet” (v8).
Jesus responds in the same verse: “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
Peter thinks about this and decides he wants to have full part with Jesus (which isn’t surprising, since he was perhaps the most devout and outspoken of the disciples and wanted to be with Jesus in everything). Not wanting to lack in any way when it came to communion with his Lord, he tells Jesus, “Not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” (v9).
Jesus’ reply is significant: “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean… ” (v10).
Did you catch that? Jesus was painting a spiritual analogy, telling Peter that someone who is justified (whose sins are completely forgiven) is like someone who has taken a bath and is totally clean. That person need not be justified again; it’s a done deal (“You are clean”). All he needs is the occasional washing of feet to get rid of the build up of dirt that comes with walking in this tainted world.
In other words, confessing your sins as a believer is not a matter of justification (coz that’s already been sorted); it’s a matter of sanctification or holy living (which is an ongoing process). We confess our sins as believers because we need day-to-day purification, that washing of the feet, so we can consistently enjoy the harmony of fellowship with our holy and perfect Lord.
We don’t ask for forgiveness out of some spiritual obligation to maintain good credit with a vengeful God, we ask forgiveness because we know God is holy and we want no part in anything that offends Him.
In more practical terms, we confess sin because to harbor it or ignore it would be like stepping in a patch of dung and entering a restaurant pretending nothing happened. Eventually the stench becomes so overwhelming all the guests leave or you’re booted out the door. Disharmony happens. And the only way to set things right is to wash off the dung (not buy a new pair of shoes).
Sanctification is a lifelong course that begins at our justification and carries through until our glorification, when the Lord calls us home to be with Him. It is our A-Z journey to Christ-likeness, a necessary path and natural consequence of being born again. We are all at different stages of sanctification and we all bear fruit to various degrees (Matthew 13:8). But make no mistake, all true believers are on the road and all true believers step in dung on the way.
That’s because we are still prone to sin (1 John 1:8). Yes we’ve been transformed and made into new creatures (2 Corinthians 5:17) but we are still stuck in the flesh – our bodies, the earthly casings tainted and corrupted by sin (Romans 7).
This is why we are urged to confess our sins and forgive others; we need to be honest with our condition and bring before the Lord the stuff that bogs us down – our constant blunders, unbroken habits and secret sins. We need to confess and lay them before the Lord because the opposite would be to deny them and say that sin is of no consequence.
John had this to say of the man who felt no need to acknowledge his sin:
“If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives” (1 John 1:10).
I don’t know about you but I would not want to call God a liar.
Speaking of lies, you know what’s worse than a lie? Truth mingled with untruth. I find it very distressing to hear people who claim to be Christians preach the Word mixed with unbiblical teaching. At best it causes confusion in the body of Christ; at worst, it can damn people to a Christless eternity.
Don’t deny your sins or think that God finds them trivial. We ought to cultivate an attitude of submission to Christ that includes bringing our daily sin to him and asking Him to forgive and cleanse us. Remember, it’s not our eternal standing before God that is at stake; He settled that once and for all when you repented of sin and gave your life to Him as Lord and Savior. You ARE clean. Rather it is our fellowship with Him that is at stake, that daily communion where we enjoy His presence and power in our lives.
If we refuse to acknowledge our sins, like David after the Bathsheba debacle our fellowship with God will be marred and we risk experiencing a less fruitful walk. Indeed, it can get painful, as God makes it clear that he will always discipline His erring children (Hebrews 12:4-11).
The comforting thing is God is in the cleansing and restoration business (1 John 1:9) and disciplines us because He loves us.
Be on guard against false doctrine that tickles the ears and seduces the heart. Test all novel teaching to see if it matches the pure meat of the Word which is able to truly satisfy and nourish our souls.
Don’t settle for tofu.
Perhaps my all-time favorite hymn is “And Can it Be?” by Charles Wesley. It is one of the most melodically stirring and lyrically profound songs ever written, surely the best of the six thousand plus hymns Wesley penned.
I remember singing it in church while growing up, mastering the tune but barely understanding its message. Then one day, after repenting of sin and embracing Christ as Lord and Savior, I sang it during Sunday worship and could not believe the clarity with which I read the words. The Spirit was working in me, helping me fathom and appreciate the hymn as never before.
The following verse sprung out at me with particular vigor:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
It was an unforgettable moment; the verse crystallized exactly what I was going through. Like Wesley, I was once incarcerated in a dungeon of doom, shackled by sin and blinded by the darkness. I had no hope of clawing my way out; I was a prisoner of nature’s night, unable to reverse the inexorable hold of sin on my life. People told me to choose God but I chose the devil, each and every time.
Then the Lord pierced the darkness with His living light – flaming, glorious and resplendent. I awoke to the truth of His love; my chains crumbled, my heart was set free. I was now able to choose God because He had resuscitated my heart. I was now free to follow Him because He chose to set me free.
I’m so glad Charles Wesley articulated what I, and no doubt thousands of others, feel but can barely put into words regarding so great a salvation. It’s a magnificent hymn and a wonderful way to honor God and His mighty redeeming work. The thunderous sound of several hundred vivacious believers singing this at the top of their lungs is surely a taste of heaven.
Anyway, enough. Sing along with me, in your heart, wherever you may be.
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
’Tis mystery all: th’Immortal dies:
Who can explore His strange design?
In vain the firstborn seraph tries
To sound the depths of love divine.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,
Let angel minds inquire no more.
’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore;
Let angel minds inquire no more.
He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
Still the small inward voice I hear,
That whispers all my sins forgiven;
Still the atoning blood is near,
That quenched the wrath of hostile Heaven.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
I feel the life His wounds impart;
I feel the Savior in my heart.
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
I once had a bookmark that had a bunch of “Rules for Teenagers” printed on it – maxims for minors you could say. I forget what they were, except for one that really stuck in my head:
Stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.
Unless you’re a religious jihadist, sex trafficker, or something worse, this is generally good advice. Stand for something (good) or you’ll be swept away by whatever is fashionable to believe in, regardless of whether it’s good or not, like some hapless invertebrate in the turbulent open sea.
Of course, for Christians, that “something good” should be the gospel of Jesus Christ, the “power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Rom 1:21). It’s the one thing that can save a person’s soul and transform him forever into the likeness of Christ to the eternal glory of God.
It should be, therefore, the supreme cause around which all Christians must rally.
Unfortunately many of us would rather give ourselves to anything but our Savior. Instead of standing for Jesus we fall for shiny and seductive alternatives – modern idols that glow with invisible power but are impotent to save and sanctify our souls.
Environmentalism, political issues, social activism – there’s a cause and movement for everything. We’re all lured by their seeming worthiness to end global crises, alleviate human strife, and make the world a better place. But do they measure up to the peace and power that come through knowing and being reconciled to a holy, infinite God?
Of course not. Yet our lives betray us. We pay lip service to the power and importance of the gospel and then center our existence around some lesser crusade, whether it be saving Mother Nature, electing government officials, or simply trying to convert people to a new brand of coffee coz it’s just too awesome and you haven’t lived until you’ve tried it blah blah blah.
Not that there’s anything wrong with a good cause, political reform, or better coffee. In fact, there are many good things in this world to be involved in and passionate about. But if we call ourselves Christians and our fervent desire to save the whales, change the government, or wax lyrical about overpriced consumer beverages overshadows our gospel message, then maybe we ought to reexamine what we believe in.
You see the gospel of Jesus is more important than any human cause or movement no matter how significant or high-impact they may be. That’s because the gospel is the only thing that can reconcile a person to God, ensure his sanctification, and bring him to everlasting glory (Ephesians 2:8-10; 1 Peter 1:3-5).
It’s also the most significant display of God’s grace, mercy, and power (Romans 5:8). God’s plan and execution of redemption puts His matchless person and character on vivid and unparalleled display; He is magnified in His love for us, glorified beyond measure when He redeems sinful, rebellious people.
We’d do well to remember that the next time our earthly causes eclipse God’s ultimate calling on our lives. We change the world by sharing, preaching, and living the gospel to lost people. The power of God works through the gospel to transform and redeem sinful lives. God is glorified through the execution of His gospel, not our Rainbow ships, government officials, or our all-flaming Orange Mocha Frappuccinos.
Standing for the gospel should be our supreme cause. We can certainly count on its effect (Isaiah 55:11).
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” (Psalm 14:1)
It seems that atheism is undergoing something of a renaissance these days.
Not that it has ever gone out of style; there always has and always will be an abundance of people who don’t believe in God. In recent years, however, atheism (or the New Atheism as it is popularly known) is making a marked comeback, vehemently opposing anything and everything in its humanistic path, Christianity being its chief opponent.
Leading the fray is the multi-awarded Richard Dawkins, New Atheism’s poster child and perhaps the movement’s most outspoken evangelist. Dawkins is a biological theorist who used to teach at Oxford University until his retirement in 2008. He is the author of the best-selling book “The GOD Delusion” and a notorious critic of religion.
His disdain for Christianity is legendary. Says Dawkins in an interview with the Independent:
“…insofar as theology studies the nature of the divine, it will earn the right to be taken seriously when it provides the slightest, smallest smidgen of a reason for believing in the existence of the divine. Meanwhile, we should devote as much time to studying serious theology as we devote to studying serious fairies and serious unicorns. “
Dawkins enjoys pillorying Christianity. The very notion that the God of the Bible could exist is patently absurd to him. Ironically Dawkins is something of a god himself for being as outspoken, accomplished, and articulate about atheism as he is. His major scientific cred and Old Testament zeal have impressed thousands of junior atheists the world over; his teachings have been all but canonized by the Dawkins faithful.
Dawkins is one in a long line of internationally famous atheists with sparkling academic credentials and snarling arguments against God. They all raise their fingers against the Almighty, denying His existence, insisting that THEY have the right answer and that all begins and ends with science and science alone.
They pen bestsellers, engage in international debates, and draw multitudes into their web forums; they laud their own ideas while ridiculing all opposition, even if their dissenters offer thoroughly academic counterarguments to their Godless positions.
There’s nothing we can do or say to repudiate their claims, we are told; our arguments are weak and emotional, our evidences flawed, fabricated, pitiful. Darwinism is the true gospel; the New Atheists its chief promulgators. We Christians are urged to move out of their way or be steamrolled by the unrelenting “truth” of the humanist perspective.
Of course, a whole slew of rabid followers eat this up. And the result is an intense movement that’s rapidly gaining momentum across the world, spreading a particularly aggressive form of atheism that’s aimed squarely at toppling Christianity and instituting Darwinism and humanism as the only true explanations for life and living.
What are we to do in the face of this fierce opposition to the truth of God’s Word and our Christian faith?
Well for one, don’t run. While it’s easy to be intimidated by intellectuals hostile to Christianity, don’t hide, don’t cower, and don’t feel sorry for yourself if you can’t answer their every objective. We have nothing to fear (2 Timothy 1:7); New Atheism is simply an old lie screamed with renewed conviction. But like dogs without fangs, atheists are limited to barking.
Next we need to realize that while atheism is in direct opposition to what we believe and its adherents often use arguments and speech that is painful to hear and tolerate, atheists are still lost people in need of a Savior. They are on the broad way that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13) and are blinded by the god of this age (2 Corinthians 4:4). The fact that they are so anti-God should make us realize how much danger they are in and how desperately they need Jesus.
And how are they to come to faith in Christ?
Through the gospel according to Jesus of course.
The gospel is what convicts people, exposes their sin, and smashes their sense of self-righteousness to pieces. When God sees fit, the gospel breaks men in the light of His law which they realize they cannot possibly keep. And ultimately it ushers them to Jesus Christ, the sinless God-man who lived a perfect life and offered it on the cross as a pleasing blood sacrifice to the Father.
The gospel is the story of the atonement of Christ for our sins, His dying in our place that we might never have to endure the punishment for all our wrongdoing. It is the story of Christ’s resurrection from the dead, His victory over death that completes the redemption saga and makes possible full restitution between sinful man and an infinitely holy God.
It’s the news atheists need to hear, more than Biblical apologetics and arguments for Intelligent Design. For it is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16) – the key to setting them free from sin and spiritual blindness.
Now don’t get me wrong, I absolutely believe in refuting error with truth and sound apologetics, in being ready with an answer for anyone who asks why we believe in God (1 Peter 3:15). I agree that atheism needs to be debunked and that believers should arm themselves with Biblical knowledge (as well as knowledge of what they’re fighting against) to do so.
And I totally support and dig people who have devoted much of their lives to countering the shrill cry of atheism.
The works of great apologists like Ravi Zacharias and Josh McDowell are thought-provoking and indispensable; similarly, the distinguished Oxford mathematician John Lennox (who has refuted Richard Dawkins in many an insightful debate) has much good to say on the subjects of science, philosophy, and God. His life, teaching, and example are great sources of strength and encouragement for anyone grappling and squaring off with atheist ideas.
CS Lewis made a powerful case for the faith with his classic book Mere Christianity (as well as many other esteemed works); Lee Strobel, the investigative journalist turned Christian apologist, has written several compelling works that effectively destroy common “intellectual” objections against Jesus, the Bible, and the Christian faith.
And more recently, chief Intelligent Design proponent Stephen Meyer has released a cutting-edge book on the case of Intelligent Design which has rocked the scientific community, both Christian and secular, with its arguments for a Creator God based on the unfathomable and magnificent complexities of our DNA code.
But as I said, while providing reasonable support for our faith through apologetics and thoroughly researched and well-written scientific books in favor of God is good, the arguments themselves won’t save people from their sins.
Only the gospel can do that.
A few weeks ago I had the privilege of engaging an atheist via email and exchanging a few ideas regarding God, science, the Bible, and what it means to be a Christian. I was told by a mutual friend that he was open to the idea of God if only someone could produce incontrovertible proof of His existence. I sat for a while, pondering how I should phrase my first email.
Although I wanted to start with an emphatic statement, a contention that was almost as incontrovertible than the God I was trying to prove, I ended up abandoning an “opening argument” as it were and proceeded instead to narrate my statement of faith – why I am a Christian and what I believe to be true of God, Jesus Christ, and the gospel. I didn’t want to get bogged down by complex apologetical/scientific arguments (there’d be plenty of time for that later) – I simply wanted to be like Paul who declared to the Corinthians, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2).
He replied right away, rejecting outright the existence of God (claiming, among other things, that since he doesn’t believe in God and sin, that he is actually sinless!) We went into a short exchange, a quick 24-hour flurry of activity which ended in 16 emails, lots of strong words, and a fascinating look into the mind of an atheist.
His comments were irritating and insulting; perhaps mine were too (to his ears anyway).
And while no one was soon “converted”, I like to think that I had sowed the seeds of the gospel in his heart. If he one day responds and turns to Christ then I will rejoice with the angels in heaven. If he doesn’t, I’ll be sad but not surprised.
“The gospel is foolishness to the natural man; his mind cannot understand it” (1 Corinthians 2:14). Ultimately, atheists will reject the gospel and the God from whom it comes simply because they do not understand it. They want no part in God’s truth; their only wish is to believe worldly ideas which, although they may have the appearance of wisdom, are as valuable as goat droppings.
Yet for every thousand or hundred thousand people who mock the gospel, who spit on the Savior, who laugh ferociously at the truth of the Atonement, there will be a handful of people who’ll be genuinely saved (John 6:37). These will be penetrated by the Word, quickened by the Spirit into believing God’s truth, and they’ll abandon all hope in their faulty and humanistic concepts to embrace Jesus as Lord.
The gospel is the means by which men are saved. Apologetics and sound scientific arguments in favor of a Creator God are extremely useful tools in opening minds to Christ. But the opening of hearts is the Spirit’s work. When the Word of God is taught with clarity and conviction the Spirit moves men to repentance.
Share the gospel. Don’t be afraid of the New Atheism.
I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge… (2 Corinthians 11:6a)
I am not a gifted speaker.
As much as I wanna be like Charles Spurgeon or John MacArthur, I’m faaaar from that mold.
I can’t instantly think of 5 different ways to say something to drive home a prominent point. I don’t have a deep reservoir of profound words that I can dip into every few seconds as I deliver a speech.
I don’t have one of those Richard Burton, auditorium-shattering voices.
I can’t make a morning reading of the Psalms sound like a Shakespearean soliloquy.
I have a very basic voice, the kind you hate to listen to when captured on tape and played over and over by an annoying sibling with a voice recorder.
I really don’t have anything in the way of oratorical power.
What I do have though is gospel knowledge.
And that, according to Paul, is enough.
You see, when you have gospel knowledge, you are in a position to devastate sinful lives with your words.
Because the gospel needs no embellishment. Its effectiveness isn’t rooted in a preacher’s oratorical skill. Its power is not dependent on human ingenuity or a man’s linguistic flourish.
The gospel is in itself “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
One need only deliver it and God the Holy Spirit will take care of the rest.
I don’t have a problem with this. Honestly, I love the fact that I don’t have to put on a show to get people to listen and respond to the gospel. Because if it were up to me, I’d do everything in my power to sound good, say all the right things, and be as attractive and personable as possible when preaching the Word.
Because as a human being, I tend to think I can influence a person’s response.
But the truth is I can’t make the gospel any truer than it already is. I can’t make the Bible any more powerful than it already is. The Word of God is active – it’s alive! (Hebrews 4:12 ) And when combined with the Holy Spirit’s regenerative work, it is the power of God for the redemption of all who hear and embrace Christ as Savior and Lord.
Consider Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.
Paul didn’t rely on human wisdom and articulacy to preach the Word. In fact, he showed up in Corinth with trepidation. He was wary of the environment (Corinth was known for being a hub of Greek culture, highfaluting philosophies, and intense paganism) and perhaps he didn’t want to get embroiled in a superficial speech war with the city’s intellectuals.
Yet whatever Paul may have felt at the time, he knew only one thing – that his message would be Christ crucified. That would be enough to compel his listeners to salvation.
That’s not to say we can be shabby and ill-prepared when sharing the gospel. We ought to be presentable when preaching and we should choose our words wisely. There’s nothing wrong with being affable, clear, and enlightening when we communicate the gospel to others. In fact, we must make sure our presentation is coherent in order for people to properly understand the message.
But changing people’s lives, getting them to repent of their sin and trust in Jesus for salvation – that’s God’s job.
Our job is to simply preach the Word, even the hard parts.
And you know what this really means right?
It means more than a big slap in the face for people who pride themselves on worldly technique.
It means more than a fine argument against the error of contextualization.
It means, more than anything, that we have no excuse.
We are commanded to preach the gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). And with God making it abundantly clear that the gospel is powerful enough in and of itself to bring men to salvation, we really have nowhere to hide on this.
We can’t invoke the Moses Defense (Exodus 4:10-14). We have an obligation to Christ to deliver His good news to all people of the Earth and there’s nothing we can do to wiggle out of it!
But why fight it? We must not be ashamed of the gospel. For while it may not appeal to many men’s ears, there are thousands in this world who are destined to be saved through the cross. “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18)
And so brothers and sisters, let’s us not retreat from our calling but let us celebrate the fact that God can use all of us, whether we can communicate well or have difficulty expressing ourselves.
Let us be thankful for the many Christian men and women who are gifted with impeccable speaking skills and can wield language with precision. These people have been given by God to the church to lead us, strengthen us, and help us on our pilgrimage. We should seek to emulate them as we continue on our Christian journey.
And while we may never become as powerful a preacher as Paul, Spurgeon, Edwards, or any of our Christian heavyweight heroes, we can rest assured that in preaching the gospel, our words can and will be used by God to accomplish His plan of redemption (Isaiah 55:11).
As long as we have gospel knowledge, we can turn the world upside down.
- Preach the gospel.
- Explain the gospel.
- Teach the gospel.
- Pronounce the gospel.
- Proclaim the gospel.
- Share the gospel.
- Discuss the gospel.
- Present the gospel.
- Clarify the Gospel.
- Declare the Gospel.
How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14)
There’s no other way.