I saw this title, “How to Destroy Christianity in One Easy Step,” and couldn’t help but watch. If you too are intrigued, here you go:
I saw this title, “How to Destroy Christianity in One Easy Step,” and couldn’t help but watch. If you too are intrigued, here you go:
Crossway Books recently published a great article on five common myths about the bible.
What are these myths? I’m glad you asked…
There’s tons of good information packed in to this short article. Those five things are things a lot of people commonly assume about the bible. If you don’t know how to respond to any (or all) of these points when someone mentions them, you should really take 10 minutes and go read it.
Tonight we’re going to be studying (at least a portion of) 1 Corinthians 15. I am working with the running title of “How Can we Be Sure Believers will be Resurrected?” for one of the sections. One of the proofs Paul produces is that Jesus himself was raised from the dead. Paul notes the fact that, at the time of his writing, many (of the many) people who saw Jesus alive after he had been dead and buried were still around and available to speak with. Pretty amazing.
In that vein, I wanted to share these two videos (one short and one long) of William Lane Craig detailing all the other evidences for the resurrection of Jesus. Dr. Craig helpfully proceeds directly along the lines of what the average person would call “evidence” today. If you haven’t ever heard these, I suggest you pick one and give it a watch or listen.
Mark Edwards, saying it like it is:
The Gospel is not an ineffable [that is, indescribable] mystery beyond words, but a story—the story of Jesus—that can be articulated and understood in common language.
The proclamation is not the verbalizing of the subjective experience of the believer [“my story”] but the making known of the saving activity of God in Jesus.
Not what disciples think and feel but what they have seen and heard is the subject of the proclamation; “thus we proclaim, and so you believe.” (1 Corinthians 15:11).
Hence one does not proclaim the gospel either in one’s own words or by one’s own powers; rather, one must be sent by Jesus (Mark 5:19, 6:7).
[You may] have already read the news about the release of The Nashville Statement… My staff at CBMW and I have been working hard on this effort for many months now, and we are grateful to the Lord to see it finally come to fruition. It is a statement that is faithful to scripture and, hopefully, one that may serve as a standard and guide for many years to come.
In light of the statement’s release, I thought it might be helpful to review ten practical ways that Christians can show love to their gay neighbors.
1. Be a friend.
And by that, I mean be a real friend. Don’t make changing your gay neighbor a condition of your friendship.
“A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17).
Your gay neighbor may have a story to tell, and you need to hear it. Not just for their sake, but for yours. There is nothing better to wipe away erroneous caricatures than to listen to someone else’s story. Listening does not equal approving an unbiblical ideology. It just means that you care and are open to learning.
“He who gives an answer before he hears, It is folly and shame to him” (Prov. 18:13).
3. Feel compassion.
Understand that your gay neighbor often feels distress over unwanted same-sex attraction. There can be a real sense of alienation that they feel from their own sexual desires. For some, the experience is quite agonizing. How would you feel if you had to walk a mile in their shoes? We all experience some measure of brokenness due to the fallenness of creation. So we too know what it means to groan (Rom. 8:23). If this is true, it ought to summon forth a compassionate response to our gay neighbors. [That said, we know many of our friends and neighbors will express that they feel no struggle at all with these feelings–they love them, and consider them to be a core part of who they are. So sensitivity is needed here.–BW]
“And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Col. 3:12).
4. Share the gospel.
The gospel is good news for sinners. It is the true story about a Creator God who loves sinners and who has made a way to reconcile them to Himself through the death and resurrection of His own Son. It’s the best news in the world. How could we possibly withhold that from any friend?
“Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19).
5. Speak the truth.
You don’t have to be mean, angry, or haughty to speak truthfully. You can do it in a way that is winsome and that shows concern but does not disdain. In short, you can speak the truth in love.
“But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15).
6. Be candid about differences.
This is a necessary corollary to speaking the truth. A true friend will always find a way to communicate differences that matter. A friendship that glosses over such things can degenerate into flattery and superficiality. Sometimes the truth about God’s word brings a confrontation no matter how nice and compassionate you try to be in delivering it. But don’t let the fear of confrontation keep you from being candid.
“Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy” (Prov. 27:6).
7. Oppose bullying.
Christians must lead the charge to condemn acts of abuse or bullying committed against our gay neighbors. Take your stand with the oppressed. Speak up for them. Do it even if it costs you social capital or risks subjecting yourself to the same bullying. This is the kind of sacrificial love that bears witness to the way Christ has loved us.
“My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent. If they say, ‘Come with us, Let us lie in wait for blood, Let us ambush the innocent without cause…” My son, do not walk in the way with them. Keep your feet from their path, For their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed blood” (Prov. 1:10-16).
8. Receive your brothers and sisters.
We should befriend our gay neighbors including, of course, those who are not Christians. Perhaps some will repent of their sin, trust Christ, and become Christians. When they do, be prepared to rejoice and to receive them with open arms as brothers and sisters in Christ. Make sure they know that they are received as full members into the body of Christ even if they have ongoing struggles with same-sex attraction.
“For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13).
9. Strengthen your brothers and sisters.
Some new converts may experience a complete deliverance from same-sex attraction. Others may continue to struggle. Be prepared to walk with the strugglers and to strengthen them for what may be a very difficult obedience. God has given them everything that they need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3), and a part of God’s provision for them is your friendship and encouragement.
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13)
The Devil wants to destroy. Jesus wants to save (John 10:10). Pray for your gay neighbor that Jesus might have his way. In his own prayer for wayward Peter, Jesus modelled how we might intercede:
“Behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31-32).
*These ten items are adapted from the final chapter of Heath Lambert’s and my book Transforming Homosexuality.
You know friends, maybe he could have just written, “Be a Christian, for goodness sake!” But it helps to have it all spelled out, when so much of the water is muddied. I encourage you to click over to The Nashville Statement and read it. It’s an important document you should be familiar with.
This past Monday night, we took some time to think about the current and crucial topic of gender. Below are the audio files for the main teaching and the “Q+R,” along with the pdf file for the booklet we handed out during the evening. The booklet will continue to be available for you to grab off the literature table at the back of the room on Monday nights.
The Good Gift of Gender | Main Session (mp3)
The Good Gift of Gender | Q + R (mp3)
The Good Gift of Gender | Booklet (pdf download)
As always, let me know if you have anything you’d like to discuss about these issues. The issue may be personal and private, or you may face issues of how to best love and represent the truth of the gospel in these areas.
And, from the booklet, here’s some quotes that capture the heart of the evening…
“Your body has a value and meaning far beyond any random process
or self-chosen preference. It is made by God, and precious.”
“Your significance is not self-assigned. God made you in his image.
That is a high and holy thing.”
“Your gender, your maleness or femaleness, is a precious and holy
part of who you are. It, like all other aspects of who you are, is a gift.”
“Your body, significant as it is, communicates to you about the gift of
your gender. This is because you are a whole being, an integrated
being. You are an enfleshed spirit. And you are a Man, or you are a Woman.”
“Wholeness, health, and flourishing are not found in discovering what
you feel, but in discovering who God made you to be.”
“Whether it’s festering in our hearts or expressed through our bodies,
sin is the great enemy of our humanity. It clouds our vision and
obscures our self-perception.”
“Jesus’ love will destroy sin, our great enemy, free us, and heal us.”
This is a very interesting, helpful post by Trevin Wax. I’m going to repost it in full here, and I encourage you to take a few minutes and read the whole thing:
The Future of Christianity May Be Different Than You Think
What if you could travel back in time a hundred years?
The early 1900s were a time when technology was progressing by leaps and bounds. The age of science and reason had stirred up a sense of optimism across North America. New methods of studying the Scriptures had become popular, with critical analysis now applied to the Bible.
Let’s say you dropped in on a meeting with a pastor and a theologian discussing how the gospel would best spread in the 20th century.
As you listen in, you hear the theologian say something like this:
“Christianity is in trouble. The Bible is full of supernatural events and miracles, and we can’t expect people in our scientific age to believe in these stories without question. The idea of the virgin birth is simply astounding to educated people in our time.”
The pastor responds:
“What are you saying? That we should abandon these truths? Christians have always believed these things.”
“No, no,” comes the reply. “I’m not saying we deny these miracle stories altogether. But surely we could downplay them. Why not avoid aspects of the faith that may embarrass educated Christians in our time?”
“Are you sure this would help our mission?” the pastor asks.
“I believe so,” says the theologian. “After all, the miracles aren’t the center of Christianity. What is truly breathtaking about our faith is its emphasis on bettering the world—the moral truths that show God as our father and all mankind as brothers. Let’s focus on the morality of Christianity, not the miracles. Otherwise, we are causing unnecessary offense and hindering our mission.”
Conversation That Made Sense
This conversation from a hundred years ago made sense to a lot of people. The Christians in that time wanted to reach as many people as possible. They wanted to faithfully embody the gospel. It makes sense that some would think the best way forward was to avoid the unpopular aspects of Christianity, such as its emphasis on the miraculous.
If I could travel back in time, I’d interrupt the conversation between the pastor and the theologian. I’d tell them:
“A hundred years from now, people will be talking about how the fastest-growing movement within Christianity is Pentecostalism—a movement of Christians who emphasize miracles and healings in the present. And the churches that downplayed or denied the supernatural claims of Christianity are now in a massive numerical freefall.”
I can imagine their surprise. You mean the groups that didn’t downplay but actually reveled in the supernatural grew the most? And the groups that downplayed the miracles have nearly disappeared?
It’s easy to think that the best way for Christianity to grow is to emphasize the palatable parts for a culture and avoid the offensive. But surely the last century shows us that the very claims that were most embarrassing to a scientific age became the most attractive elements of Christianity.
From Controversy Over Miracles to Morality
Today, pastors and theologians are in a similar conversation. Miracles aren’t under the spotlight. Christian morality is. The goodness and beauty of Christianity’s sexual ethic reserves sexual expression for a man and woman within the covenant of marriage, and says no to all other sexual behavior and lust, whether it be pornography, or sex before marriage, or adultery.
A hundred years ago, some said we should focus on morality apart from the miracles. Today, some say we should focus on miracles apart from Christian morality.
It makes sense, doesn’t it? I have single friends in their 30s and 40s who have chosen to live according to Jesus’s teaching and pursue chastity. They say people think they’re strange, backward, and repressed for their views. Sexual abstinence is harmful in the eyes of a society that sees sexual expression as the pinnacle of human flourishing.
Strategically, it would make sense to shift the Christian vision of sexuality and marriage, wouldn’t it? Why focus on these embarrassing aspects of our faith? Why not deny the historic Christian teaching (as many revisionist theologies do, to align with the ideology of the sexual revolution), or at least downplay these teachings (as many pragmatic ministries do, to keep people from turning away)? Wouldn’t that remove obstacles that hinder Christianity’s flourishing?
If the lesson from the last century is any indication, ground zero for explosive gospel witness is the place where we are most likely to run afoul of the cultural authorities.
Ground Zero for Explosive Gospel Witness
What if, a hundred years from now, the Christians who have exploded in growth and passion across the world are the ones that sought to reaffirm and embody the historic Christian teaching on sexuality and family? What if we are on the verge of a 21st century of attractive Christian witness because of our morality, not in spite of it?
One of the chapters in This Is Our Time is called “Sex Rebels” because it makes the case that Christians in our generation will be known for dissent. In the 1960s and ’70s, the sexual rebels were the hippies who wanted to throw off moral restraints in favor of “free love.” In the 21st century, the sexual rebels will be Christians who dissent from sexual revolution dogma.
But even in dissent, there’s no reason to be gloomy about the task we have before us. If we’re going to be outcasts and dissenters, let’s be the kind of rebels that don’t just expose the lies of the sexual revolution. Let’s answer the longings of our society by offering an entirely different vision of sex and marriage. Let’s declare what God is for. And let’s trust that a hundred years from now, the Christian truth will be as solid as ever, even if the cultural challenges have changed.
Tonight we’ll continue our study of practical spirituality with a look at how to share our faith. In the mean time, here’s a little Bible study you can do on your own in the book of Acts.
Look up each of these passages, where someone is preaching the gospel: Acts 2:1-41; 3:11-26; 8:26-38; 9:20; 10:24-48; 13:15-49; 14:11-23; 17:16-34; (Also 4:23-31)
For each of these passages, notice:
A great post in evangelism, and friendship, and the Gospel…from Fred Sanders, who teaches at Biola University:
After 9 hours of discussing Pascal’s Pensées with juniors in the Torrey Honors Institute this week, I feel (yes, in my heart, which knows many things reason cannot know) that he is a subtle author indeed. His fragmentary apologetic for the Christian religion, though in form it’s really just a pile of notes and mini-essays that he didn’t live to gather up and edit together, is a deeply wise piece of work with great relevance for us now.
The one example I’d offer is from my favorite entry, number 46, in which Pascal sketches out the order in which persuasion ought to happen. I don’t know whether he labelled this entry “order” because it would have dictated the shape of his book, or because it’s simply the order in which a Christian apologetic needs to proceed. But whether the former is true or not, the latter seems to me to be so. Look at the three steps he recommends:
Men despise religion, they hate it and are afraid it might be true. To cure that we have to begin by showing that religion is not contrary to reason. That it is worthy of veneration and should be given respect. Next it should be made lovable, should make the good wish it were true. Then show that it is indeed true.
The steps, as I see them are:
1. Show that religion is not contrary to reason; is worth respecting.
2. Show it to be lovable; make good people wish it were true.
3. Show that it is true.
What we normally think of as apologetics is very sharply focused on truth questions, on winning arguments, on bringing forth evidence and presenting proofs. Pascal certainly makes room for such tasks: these three steps are a truth sandwich, beginning with demonstrating the non-irrationality of religion and ending with proof of truth. We even know from the Pensées what sort of proofs Pascal found persuasive: prophecy, miracles, doctrine, figures, and so on.
But in the middle of all that proof and truth sits the central task: “Show it to be lovable.”
Probably it’s under this heading that we should place all the sorts of tasks and projects that so many Christians tend to get excited about in our time: Christian work for justice and the relief of suffering; Christian love for each other and for the world; Christian fairness and behavior that “adorns the doctrine of God our savior” (Titus 2:10) and shows that we have true religion (James 1:27). But also under this heading would go the feats of artistic and imaginative work that sketch out what kind of world we are living in if the good news of God as creator and redeemer is true. All the magnetic power to attract the heart and imagination of the world to consider the things Christians claim to believe also enters into this second step. If we want to persuade anybody, we need to make them wish Christianity were true, even if they currently think it’s probably not. But what a step it would be for them to at least wish it could be true!
I won’t say that makes step three, proving it, easy. But it might. A heart that desperately hopes Christianity is false (and fears that it might not be) is going to be a powerful drag that keeps a mind from following the path of reason to the conclusion of truth. But a heart that secretly wishes Christianity were true (even if it thinks it has to know better) is going to be a powerful incentive to pay attention to the arguments that tend toward establishing its truth.
We’re launching a new video series today over at Truth on Campus.
Entitled “Honest Answers” (we’re trying to call it “an occasional vlog”) the videos will focus on a question Christians commonly get asked–and we’ll try to give a short, thought through answer. It’s designed to be evangelistic, in the sense of commending the gospel to people by clearing up common misunderstandings.
Whenever I’m in public talking with people about the gospel, I’m, always reminded of the high level of ignorance about anything to do with the message of Jesus that exists in our day. And with that high level of ignorance comes a lot of bad information. We know people won’t automatically love us if they have good info (nor will they automatically love Jesus; see John chapters 14 through 17). Even so, for our part we see it as an act of loving our neighbors to seek to smooth the path for them to receive the gospel by showing them that some of the reasons they might think they want to avoid Jesus are just mistaken.
The first installment of Honest Answers answers the common assertion that Christians pick and choose verses to criticize the morality of others, and then conveniently ignore other verses when they read the bible for themselves.
It ran a little long, and future episodes will be shorter, but we think the info is all solid enough to leave in. Let us know what you think about it, and all the other videos we’re releasing.