Musings From My Caffeinated Highs
Thursday, January 31, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
The Foolishness of the Message Preached
There are certain times with friends that stand out in your mind, and tonight was definitely one of those times for me. The whole day was spectacular. Post Desert Schools, I went home to finish working on a “special” project, then spent the rest of the evening with friends. I was blessed by the conversation, the laughs and the fellowship.
My night ended up at my good buddy Mark’s house, along with Scott, Matt, Justin, and Brian. We talked about many things (including Nintendo Wii), one of which we spent a great deal of time on: the need for discernment among Christians in their theology and every day living. Each of us there is old enough to know folks who have a profession of faith that are struggling with basic Biblical truths.
If you have yet to experience this, give it some time and you will. I don’t say this at all to discourage you, but to give you a heads up.
I don’t know what it is about our generation that causes us to be fascinated by straying from the truth and from the Church. It seems as though people have a natural tendency to walk off the straight and narrow path into half-truths or heresy. What is the cause of this? Well, ultimately it stems from a rebellious desire to be autonomous and act as though we are the ultimate authority in our lives. Once folks neglect the means of grace (the Church, the ordinances [baptism and the Lord’s Supper], the Scriptures, and prayer) that God has given to assist in our sanctification it is no wonder the ability to live according to God’s will is hindered.
Another thing we discussed was that some Christians derive their philosophy from the world rather than from the divinely inspired Word. The Apostle Paul talks about worldviews and philosphy in 1 Corinthians 1 and 2. I’m tempted to cite both chapters here, but will simply suggest reading them. In the meantime, I’ll cite a handful of verses. Consider 1:21,
“21 For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (NASB).
A couple things stand out to me. The foremost, that sinners are not delivered from sin through the wisdom of the world. Rather, God is pleased to save sinners through the foolishness of the message preached! The proclamation of the gospel is utter foolishness to the unregenerate … until the Holy Spirit removes the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36).
So studying ungodly philosophy is all well and dandy if your purpose is to refute the foolishness of their worldview. But do not pretend that by polluting the gospel with worldly philosophy you are doing the unbeliever any good. In reality, you are doing a great disservice to them. God has chosen the means by which He will save sinners, and it is by the clear and unabashed message of the gospel.
The Apostle also said,
“19 For it is written, "I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE." 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” (1 Corinthians 1:19-20, NASB).
It seems plain as day to me that any attempt to mix the gospel with ungodly philosophy is a mockery of God. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” Can Paul be any clearer?
Furthermore, Paul continues,
“1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, 4 and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2: 1-5, NASB).
This should be a truth the Christian delights in! Paul did not come preaching with clever speech, but came with the testimony of God. He sought not to persuade with persuasive words of men, but relied on the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of men through the message of Christ!
We should follow Paul’s example in the way he followed Christ.
But how exactly is this truth a delight and a comfort to the believer? Because the salvation of sinners does not depend on us or our own words of wisdom! Rather, the Holy Spirit uses the clear preaching of the gospel. I think back to when I was an Arminian and actually believed that my words could persuade men to believe. There were many times I was disappointed with my witnessing efforts when I didn’t see immediate fruit. There was one night I vividly recall, where after a full day of street evangelism, no one made a profession of faith. I was devastated!
Numerous problems led to my devastation, but one being that I did not believe that God is sovereign over salvation. Now as a Calvinist I recognize the Biblical teaching that salvation is of the Lord and not of man. This is why we are able to preach a message that is foolishness to the world. We can trust the Holy Spirit to save all of His elect, and to save them perfectly. It is only our job to be ambassadors for Christ, not to save souls.
My encouragement to the reader is this: do not be ashamed of the gospel. Preach it as it is, with clarity and much zeal. Preach the gospel.
“For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:16, NASB).
That’s all for now =)
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Two short hours ago I finished Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows. Wow ... wow. What a trip! I can honestly say that Harry Potter is the best series I have ever read. I feel so close to each of the characters it is unreal.
My only disappointment is that I have reached the conclusion of the series, although J.K. Rowling did say that she might continue writing Harry's story if ... (we'll get to that later, because I didn't give a proper warning about spoilers for those of you who have yet to read this amazing series).
More thoughts to come on book 7!
I'll keep ya posted, ya'll. For now, I must get some rest.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Many of you know that DrOakley’s recent focus has been on the subject of Islam and that he’s working on getting his doctorate in Islamic Studies as well as mastering Arabic. This new focus has had a direct impact upon AOMin. For me, it has only been within the past year that I began studying Islam.
It has become my sincere belief that the next challenge Western Christians will face in the coming years is Islam. Therefore, I thought it would be beneficial to host and lead a discussion group on the religion of Islam. My primary purpose is twofold: First, to introduce the religion of Islam; Second, to provide a meaningful apologetic against Islam so as to better equip us to clearly proclaim and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ to Muslims.
When: Tuesdays at 5:30-6:45pm
Where: My house
Materials: Answering Islam: The Crescent in Light of the Cross by Norman Geisler and Abdul Saleeb. Don’t forget your Bibles.
I believe it is the duty of the Saints to bring honor to God by clearly communicating the gospel to our sinful world. But to effectively explain our beliefs to Muslims we must do something that many of us despise: put forth the effort to understand what Muslims believe. We have to do our homework. We need to prepare.
It has been my desire for many years to be a useful tool in preaching the gospel to the unregenerate. And I believe that we ought to pray for witnessing opportunities where we are able to clearly communicate our faith – even to such groups as Muslims. We are not only to witness to our Romanist friends, our Oneness friends or our Latter-day Saint friends. We are to also reach our Muslims friends, trusting all along that God will save those whom He wills.
The Apostle wrote these encouraging words in his epistle to the Romans,
“14How 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? 15How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, "HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!"” (10:14-15, NASB).
We are the ones Paul wrote about in this text. It is our responsibility, and our privilege to carry the good news of salvation to our ungodly world. It is a privilege to witness to our Muslim neighbors! We ought to pray for and seek out opportunities where we might engage Muslims, not just with good deeds, but also with our speech. For indeed “faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17, NASB).
It should be our greatest desire to hold out the word of life (Philippians 2:16) to those who are in need of a perfect Savior, Jesus Christ.
Please get in touch with me if you are interested.