Archive for the ‘Sovereignty’ Category

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Speak to the Nations…

April 7, 2011

Our calling and God’s comfort.

Jeremiah 1:1-10

God never gives one a task, without also providing the means to complete the task.  Jeremiah was faced with an immense vocation.  He was called to proclaim truth to a wayward, disinterested, sinful and even hostile generation.  It is telling and should be encouraging that God never fails to raise up the weak to confront the strong.  The pattern in scripture is clear: Abraham was impotent, Moses was inadequate in speech, David was an adulterer, Paul was a murderer, and Timothy was young and inexperienced.  Each man struggled with his calling and in weakness doubted God’s ability and even His wisdom at the outset of their call.  But despite these weaknesses, God was faithful once the work was begun to complete that work manifesting an even greater glory through their weakness.

What comfort this passage conveys through God’s sovereignty on display.  Jeremiah was told that the task to which he was appointed was consecrated long before he was born.  God knew him, knew what he would face, and knew what his limitations would be, and called him anyway.   This passage is a testament to the purposeful grace of God.

Jeremiah protests that he is but a youth, that he does not know how to speak.  Yet with a single word and an outstretched hand God removed his doubt.  “Behold I have put my words into your mouth, see that I have set you this day over nations and over kingdoms.”  And like Isaiah before him, Jeremiah was made clean and his mouth was opened.  God chose the man, the mission and the message.  The words in Jeremiah’s mouth were not his own, but were placed there by God; with this knowledge how could he not preach to the nations.

We must realize that each of us in Christ has been formed with a purpose.  We have been given God’s word, it is implanted in us and written on our hearts.  His Word brings the sword, divides families and confronts cities, it “plucks up” and “breaks down.”  But it also “builds” and “plants;” (vs10) it never returns void and if received meekly, it will save souls. (James 1:21)

With the knowledge of my calling, and the message given me, the question pounding in my heart and mind is;  How can I not preach the gospel with confidence?  For even in the face of opposition, God’s words are a comfort, “Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you…” (vs8) It is my prayer that God’s hand, outstretched toward my weak heart, contains more grace than judgment; so that my mouth may be made clean.  So that I too may speak to the nations.

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Vehicles of God’s Pursuit, the Necessity of Persistence in Evangelism…

March 23, 2011

“5What then is Apollos? What is Paul?  Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted,Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. 7Soneither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. 9For we areGod’s fellow workers. You are God’s field,God’s building.” I Corinthians 3:5-9

The “Go ye therefore” commission that animates the heartbeat of the church should echo ever louder in the mind and heart of the believer.  Our individual obedience to this command and to all it entails is a chief evidence of our own interaction with the power of the Gospel.

God does not need the assistance of man in the task of Evangelism.  This God has written His law on the hearts of men, He can arrest a mountain with His glory and apprehend a heart with His spoken word.  However, in his infinite grace and providence He has chosen the weak to serve and the broken to carry His message to His redeemed throughout the nations.

Each one of us, if we claim the name of Christ, assume the mantle of evangelist in one capacity or another.  Evangelism is the proclamation of the love of God in the Gospel of Christ to those in sin in need of redemption.  This can be an act, a word, a speech, or a lifestyle that reflects the unique grace of God to those around you.

It is often easy when engaging in evangelism to become discouraged if conversion is not immediate, or if there is not an instant result. We live in a results-driven culture, and our churches occupy a subculture that is equally results-driven.  While the end is important, the obedience displayed in the means should be our primary focus.  We sow, but it is God that brings the growth.

I lived the first decade and a half of my twenty plus years as christian burdened with the idea that my task in evangelism was two-fold: to preach; and to bring about their conversion.  When I was faithful to the first task but unproductive in the second, I often experience debilitating discouragement.  It is difficult for me to convey the freedom that washed over my heart when the burden of responsibility for another’s conversion was removed from me and rightly placed on God.

This brings me to topic of obedient persistence in evangelism.  Francis Thompson, the nineteenth century poet and tragic opium addict, wrote the haunting poem, “The Hound of Heaven.”  This work is a bit obscure in some areas but the overall message is powerful as it describes God’s pursuit of the wayward soul. Thompson writes:

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
Of my own mind; and in the mist of tears…

From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
But with unhurrying chase,
And unperturbéd pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
They beat—and a Voice beat
More instant than the Feet—
“All things betray thee, who betrayest Me.”

My reflection on this is to ask some questions; How is this lost soul pursued? Whose feet follow after him?  Could they be the ‘beautiful feet of those who preach the good news.”? (Rom. 10:15)

When those around us are fleeing through the nights, we should be there with the Light.  As they fill their days with idle distractions, we should be there with a focus. Through the years, as they progress through the labyrinths of philosophical excuses, we should be there with an answer.  With unperturbed pace, deliberate speed and majestic instancy we should be the voice they hear, in the mist of their tears, proclaiming the love of God through Christ.

For we are the vehicles of God’s pursuit of those He loves, of those He sent His son to die for, of those who flee not knowing where to they go.  They may not repent during your preaching, but perhaps it is your time to sow, another’s time to water and in God’s time the growth will come.

“For everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.  How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed?  And how are they to believe in Him whom they have never heard?  And how are they to hear without someone preaching?  And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Rom. 10:13-15)

Brothers and Sisters we have been sent. Go. Obey. Pursue. Preach. And let God reap the harvest and the glory.

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Apprehending απολοgetics…

October 20, 2010

The Word of God is fundamental to apologetics, the chief instrument of intellectual warfare within the battle of worldviews. And a Christian worldview, if it is anything, must be rooted in and must spring from the fathomless depths of the Scriptures.

The word serves as both the backdrop and the means of every salvation experience. Beneath every proclamation of God’s special revelation in Scripture lies the Word, implanted and incorruptible; that when received by a humble heart is the means God uses to bring one to a saving knowledge of Him. (I Peter 1:22-25)

It is false to create a distinction and to separate apologetics from evangelism. For to what end does one engage in apologetics if not to inject into a dark heart and mind of a sinner, the light and knowledge of the Gospel in Christ. God is in no need of theological or philosophical defense or justification. Christ does not charge us with the defense of His glory through apologetics, but rather charges us to proclaim His glory wielding the “Sword of the Spirit which is the word of God”, so that His elect may ultimately hear to believe and believe to confess.

Rightly seen, apologetics serves the church by engaging the various beliefs, behaviors and objections of the lost with the Gospel of Christ. Our weak tools of rhetoric and argument must be met with His sufficient Grace in order to experience His power made perfect in our weakness.

With this in mind, here is the first post of this series: Theological Inception… Waging War Within a Hostile Mind. What is intellectually and spiritually occurring when we witness with individuals and share the Gospel with lost souls.

The second post is Vehicles in God’s Pursuit… the necessity of persistence. How God uses those He loves to hound the souls of those whom He will have.

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Have you not heard? Isaiah 40 Speaks Comfort…

July 25, 2010

ISAIAH 40

It is difficult for me to overstate how much this chapter means to me and my family.  It lies midway through the book of Isaiah, a turning point in spirit and tone; and it is planted firmly in my memory as a milestone and testament of God’s abundant power.  God stands in these 31 verses as an unmovable, impenetrable, frightening force, sovereign and saving.  He lays mountains low (vs 4), measures the seas with His hand (vs12), balances ranges as vast as the Himalayas, weighing them and finding them wanting. (12)  He lays Princes down and raises them up to lead nations as significant as dirt.  The greatest rulers and kings, conquerors and realms wither in His light and scatter like dust in the wind of His nostrils. We are insects to be flicked by fingers who stretch the heavens out like a curtain.  What part do we have in all this?  None.  Are we to give Him, the one who sits above the circle of the earth, counsel?  What good is it for us to strive to rule, reign and run when we will be mere dust in the in the tempest of history’s storm?  These truths could make one despondent even depressed, but that is not their purpose.

From the first verse the grand purpose of this tome of God is revealed.  Comfort.  “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.  Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned…”(vs1)  Comfort comes from the fact that our warring is done for the Lord of Hosts who commands creation and contrives kings will do our battle for us.  He, unlike men, does not grow weary or faint, for in Him is the power to raise up, lay down and pardon the iniquity of those who sin.  Man may convict, and man may judge by the wisdom of his own counsel, but He who takes no counsel shall judge with wisdom and understanding that is unsearchable.

This is whom we trust, in whom we rest.  When will realize that our King endures forever; and our peace lies in waiting on Him?  The lives of those who wait on the Lord are marked with a silent comfort that rages in the face of injustice and rests in arms of the Judge.

I have seen the face of those who passed from this sphere into the next, clutching in their hands the hope of strength.   Earthly legs as limp as dirt but a heart running to Jesus, eyes closed and cold yet fixed like an eagles on the King.  One day our bodies will become weary and faint into permanent peace; but He who spoke into the tomb shall increase strength and we shall mount up to eternal Glory, our joy to be found in waiting on the Lord forever.  Find peace and wait on Him now, rest knowing that we will rise never to be weary or faint again.  Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the Everlasting God.  The creator of heavens and earth. (vs28)  Who could not rest in knowing that?