Archive for November, 2010

I recently posted a statement on my Facebook wall and on Twitter that has given me reason to think through some things. The statement was a quote from Dr. M.R. DeHaan (founder of RBC Ministries) that I found in a book he wrote back in the late 40’s called Broken Things. The quote was this, “God has given us the commission… if men are not saved, it will not be His fault, but ours, and ours alone.”

The reason I posted this is simply because I thought it was a statement worth considering. You see, I believe God is doing something big within the church. What I mean is that there seems to be a very distinctive focus among many evangelical pastors and leaders (especially within the Southern Baptist Convention, my own denomination) in the area of missions. I believe God is trying to wake the sleeping giant (American evangelical churches). I’m not saying our churches haven’t been busy carrying out the Great Commission (there are many wonderful mission works going on throughout the world), I’m saying we haven’t been busy enough (there is still much to do). By and large we as American Christians have become self-centered and as a result our churches tend to be inward focused rather than outward focused. This is evident in many ways, just read David Platt’s book Radical and you’ll see what I mean. So, I posted this statement from Dr. DeHaan because it made me think about the responsibility that those of us who call ourselves Christians have to simply go and tell others.

The reason I’m writing about it now is because it solicited a couple of responses from some friends of mine; men who are pastors and are committed to preaching the gospel and are leading their churches to carry out the Great Commission of our Lord. These are men I love and respect. Their comments gave me reason to continue to think about some things so I thought I would share more.

One comment had to do with the individual’s responsibility to respond to God’s grace, with which I whole-heartedly agree. The Bible is clear that no one has an excuse for not believing because God has revealed Himself through creation (Romans 1:20). This is called “general revelation.” Everyone who has ever lived can take a look around them and know that there is a God. It’s also true that we’re all sinners (and we know it) and justly deserve hell. No one has ever been condemned to hell who didn’t deserve to go. The wonderful thing is that God in His mercy has made a way for us not to. That way is through Jesus Christ who died in our place for our sins. Here’s the thing; knowing there’s a God is not the same as knowing that He became a man and died in our place so that we can be saved. That knowledge comes through what is called “special revelation.” Paul continues to write about this in the book of Romans. I encourage everyone to read through it. God has not left us ignorant. He has revealed Himself not only in general through creation but specifically through the person of Jesus Christ, the living Word. We have the account of this special revelation preserved for us in the form of the Bible, the written Word. It is the church’s responsibility to take the knowledge we have of our Lord to those who don’t know, so that they will know. If they reject it then it will be between them and God. If they never hear it then they are still justly condemned because in their hearts they have still rejected God who obviously exists.

Now we could continue to dive into this and get into a discussion of Calvinism vs. Arminianism, predestination vs. freewill, etc; in which case we would never be through debating. Greater evangelical minds than mine stand on both sides of the issue. It’s highly unlikely that we would solve the debate here. Besides, I’m not convinced that we need to. What we need to do is continue to preach the Gospel ,  go on mission, and lead our churches to do more. The bottom line is that people are lost without Jesus, we know Him, and He has commanded us to go tell others about Him.  I’m reminded of a story our worship pastor told me about a man who took a game warden fishing. They got out into the middle of the lake and the man lit a stick of dynamite and threw it in the water. As the game warden began to discuss the legal issues involved with dynamite fishing his friend lit another stick, placed it in the game warden’s hand and asked, “Are you gonna talk or are you gonna fish?”

I left some of Dr. DeHaan’s quote out of my original post due to the limit of characters on the original format and so in all fairness to him I will share more. What he actually wrote was, “God could save every human being without the help or aid of His children, without a tract, a dollar or a missionary. But God does not do things that way. It is God’s plan that men will be saved only through the instrumentality of others. His commission is ‘Go ye, go ye, and preach the Gospel.’ ‘Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ God has given us the commission and placed at our disposal the only two necessities for soul-winning: the Word and the Holy Spirit, and if men are not saved, it will not be His fault, but ours, and ours alone. God has chosen to use no other way to make the Gospel known than by the telling from person to person of the blessed truth of the Word.”

Perhaps it would be better to say “If men do not hear the Gospel by which they must be saved, it will not be God’s fault, but ours, and ours alone.”

Thanks for making me think, now let’s go fishing.

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What Are You Afraid Of?

Posted: November 11, 2010 in QT's
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What does it mean to fear God? Have you ever really thought about that question before? I know it’s not really a popular notion. We would rather hear about God’s grace than His wrath. We’d rather talk about His love than His judgment. God does love us and His grace is amazing but He is also just and holy and it’s also true that He hates sin and is sometimes angry. 

So, should we fear God? The Bible says we should:

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Prov. 1:7, ESV)

“It is the Lord your God you shall fear. Him you shall serve and by his name you shall swear.” (Deut. 6:13, ESV)

Okay, so we should fear God, but doesn’t that just mean that we should have a healthy respect for Him, that we should hold Him in awe and reverence? Yes, it does mean that, but I also believe it means we should simply be afraid. Afraid of what, you might ask. Afraid of being out of His will, afraid of disobeying His direct commands, afraid of calling Him Lord and making decisions without considering His Word, afraid of calling ourselves by His name but living as if He doesn’t even exist, afraid of giving lip service through empty prayers and mouthing words to praise songs and hymns without truly considering what we’re singing and who we’re singing to, afraid of bowing our heads, bending our knees, or raising our hands in semblance of worship while our hearts remain stiff and proud, afraid of a many number of things that take place within the lives of many who profess to know God through Jesus Christ.

I’ve been reading through the Bible with my family and as we go through the Old Testament together I’m reminded of how serious God is about some things. In Leviticus 10 Aaron’s sons decided to worship God in a way they felt was right instead of the way God had commanded. Read what happened.

“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it and laid incense on it and offered unauthorized fire before the Lord, which he had not commanded them. And fire came out from before the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘This is what the Lord has said, ‘Among those who are near me I will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.’’ And Aaron held his peace.” (Lev. 10:1-3, ESV)

Yeah, I bet Aaron did hold His peace, because he was afraid when His sons weren’t.

In Joshua 6 we read about God giving a great victory to Israel by defeating Jericho. In Chapter 7 though they get their tails kicked at Ai. Why? Because a guy named Achan disobeyed a direct command from God not to take anything from Jericho. Guess what happened to Achan. He and his whole family were stoned, burnt, and stoned again. Read it for yourself. Why would Israel do this to one of their own, because they feared the Lord when Achan didn’t.

Read what happened when King David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant back to Israel.

“And David and all the house of Israel were making merry before the Lord, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. And David was angry because the Lord had burst forth against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah, to this day. And David was afraid of the Lord that day, and he said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord come to me?’ So David was not willing to take the ark of the Lord into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. And the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.”

Uzzah tried to catch the ark to keep it from falling. He wasn’t trying to do anything wrong. So why did God kill him? Because the ark was supposed to be kept in the holiest place deep inside the temple and could only be approached by a priest who had gone through all the proper rituals of cleansing and after all the proper sacrifices had been made. God is holy and a poor sinner, even one with good intentions, cannot enter His presence unless his sin has been atoned for. You can’t just walk up to God, you and I can only enter God’s presence because the proper sacrifice has been, Jesus himself is the Lamb of God sacrificed for our sins. He is our High Priest. Through Him, and only through Him, can we know God. All of the Old Testament sacrifices and rituals teach us this truth. No wonder God was so serious about it. Uzzah and David both made the mistake of treating God as if He were something common. It cost Uzzah his life, and David was afraid. He was afraid enough to treat the ark as the sacred throne of God that it was. It’s also interesting to note that after that the people who lived where the ark was kept were blessed.

You might say that all of that was in the Old Testament. The God of the New Testament is a God of grace. He would never do anything like that. Oh yeah? What about Annanias and Saphyra in Acts 5?

My point is this; each of us will stand before God one day and give an account of his or her life (Rom. 14:12, 2 Cor. 5:10). As Christians we certainly won’t lose our salvation but we will be judged according to what we did with what God gave us.

“Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” (1Cor. 3:12-15, ESV)

We will be judged according to how we carried out God’s commands; according to how we loved, witnessed, worshiped… we will be judged according to how we lived.

I believe there are many of us who call ourselves “Christian” who will be quite surprised on that day to find out that the majority of our lives will be burnt up because we spend the majority of our lives centered on ourselves rather than God. I don’t know about you but that makes me afraid. I’m not afraid of being punished. I’m afraid of standing before the God I love and being left empty handed with nothing to worship Him with because I couldn’t get past myself.

When will we get what it’s really all about?