Knowing who you are
Sat May 25, 2013
by Jeremy Pace
Resurgence roundup, 5/24/13
Fri May 24, 2013
The places grace empowers us
Thu May 23, 2013
by Justin Holcomb
‘Each next risk is the biggest one’: James MacDonald talks with Mark Driscoll
Wed May 22, 2013
by Mark Driscoll
Tue May 21, 2013
by Amanda Edmondson
The Fire of Belief
Do You Believe in Guns?
Suppose you were walking along in a rough part of town, minding your own business, and you came across a mugging in progress. Let us suppose further that you were packing heat (please forgive the illustration—I am from Idaho) and so in a firm voice you told the criminal element there to “Quit it right now,” and raise their hands high over the heads.
Now suppose one of the muggers laughed out loud and said that you couldn’t possibly do that to him because he “didn’t believe in guns.” Now if you got embarrassed, shuffled your feet a little, and sheepishly put the gun away, you would not have done this because he didn’t believe in the gun. You would have put it away because you didn’t believe in it.
Beliefs Do Not Determine Truth
The Apostle John tells us that the victory that overcomes the world is our faith (1 John 5:4). But it doesn’t do this when we don’t have any.
One of our great difficulties in proclamation of the gospel is that we are trying to persuade the world to adopt a faith in Scripture that we ourselves have not yet adopted. This is the reason why our appeals sound so lame, like someone shaking five feet of tin foil.
The claims of the Word of God are absolute and total. But to say something like this scares us. One of the reasons we recoil from this sort of expression is that we somehow believe we have encountered terrible instances of it . . . in bombastic dogmatists, for example.
Do you know what someone would look like who really lived and breathed Scripture?
But take that narrow-minded fanatic, spouting his Bible verses like a geyser. What is his actual problem? Is he taking the entire Bible too thoroughly? Seriously? He is actually a biblical absolutist with only those verses that were left over after his long and complicated game of pick and choose.
Do you know what someone would look like who really lived and breathed Scripture? Someone who really understood that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deut. 8:3)? He would look like Jesus (Matt. 4:4).
The Fire of Belief
Faith comes by hearing, Paul tells us, and hearing by the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). This kind of faith, preached by a man who possesses it himself, is contagious. This is the kind of kindling that could set the world on fire.
A relativistic age is sure of nothing, except for a dogged commitment to the necessity of that relativism. When they tell us that they “just don’t know,” and they use the word “ennui” a lot, this is an invitation for us to declare to them what we in fact do know. We ought to take it that way, in the same way the Apostle Paul took the inscription to “the unknown god”: Well, if they admit they don’t know, then maybe I should tell them.
They want you to put your belief away.
They don’t want it to work this way because our relativistic age has its hidden dogmatisms. They claim to not know, but they are also quite assured that you don’t know either, and that nobody can know. There may or may not be a God, and we can’t know anything about him. But we do know this—if he exists, he is incapable of revealing himself. But how do they know this? They have just said, “We can know nothing of God, and here, let me tell you something about him.”
For them, the most important claim they are making is that you don’t know. They want you to put your belief away. This trick is what the effective apologist and evangelist will insist on rejecting, but not by descending into a foolish quarrel (“Do too!”), but rather by truly and actively believing the grace of God in his heart, in his prayers, and in the presence of God.
A Quiet, Unyielding Confidence
Having spoken to God about these souls, the evangelist will then go out to speak to these souls about God. And he will do so with the kind of authority that unbelievers will try to shout down, while simultaneously hoping desperately that he will eventually find the kind of quiet confidence that can drown out their shouts. Often, they have yet to meet a Christian who demonstrates the same confidence in their belief as they do in their unbelief. That’s a situation we can and must remedy.