Tag Archives: Sunday School

My People Perish

“They had zeal without full knowledge, hope without understanding, religious practice without clear theology.” ~ J. Julius Scott Jr., Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament

“My people are destroyed” said God.

While you could say the small prophet Hosea spoke to a different time and people, look around today and you’ll see it is still true. God’s people are destroyed. Beaten back on every front, surrendering left and right the ground of morality and decency and charity. Christian responsibilities co-opted by conniving socio-political systems that seek to enslave through manufactured need rather than free by salvation of the soul.

But why are God’s people destroyed?

It isn’t, as one would gather from visiting churches today and listening to the people and the pastors and reading the glut of how-to-fix-Christianity books, that they lack heart or soul, or truth or depth in their feelings of devotion. It has nothing to do with with a lack of action by them on behalf of the gospel. It isn’t that they are too involved in the culture, and it isn’t that they are too distant from it. It isn’t that they don’t read their bibles, or because they protest at abortion mills. It is not for any of these reasons that God’s people are destroyed.

No, it is because they lack sense. Because they are not intelligent about what it is they believe. God’s people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

Passing through a bookstore, do you breeze past the Theology section? Do you see a book titled “Systematic Theology” and your eyes glaze over? Do you come across a difficult section of scripture and you skip past it looking for greener pastures for your soul? Does the thought of countering charges of biblical inconsistency or addressing the basic points the foundational principles behind baptism cause you to shiver? Why is this? Do you fear that you don’t know enough about “those things”, that such things are better left to pastors and some nice but weird people who God has made specially for debating and defending the faith and that scary thing called “Apologetics”?

God may not have called us to defend our faith before a television audience with Larry King. He may not even care whether or not we show up at the local park and talk to strangers about Him. But He wants us to not be destroyed.

We avoid destruction through knowing, first and foremost, what it is we believe. And not in simple Sunday School terms that haven’t advanced since 2nd grade. It is the responsibility of each and every Christian, to the extent of their own ability, to know why they are saved, what they are saved from, who saved them, and how that salvation came to be. For most people, the extent of their own ability is far beyond where they are now.

We avoid destruction through also knowing why it is we believe what we believe. This requires knowledge of the history of the Christian faith. We do not live in the only important time. It is a general fault that the majority of each generation thinks only in terms of their own generation. But the world, humanity, and Christianity are all very much older than any one of us, and are likely to continue on much longer than any one of us. Those troubling issues we deal with today are in no way unique. Brilliant people have struggled and pondered and argued over every nitty-gritty detail of the various ideas that comprise orthodox Christian theology, and there are very good reasons why the most universal and general beliefs of orthodox Christianity are what they are today. Even a little knowledge of how we came to believe what we believe can help defend ourselves against the destruction of predatory and untrue belief systems and cultish ideas.

We avoid destruction, in short, by studying to show ourselves approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

Can you rightly handle the word of truth?

I doubt I’ll ever be able to handle the word of truth. But that will not stop me from learning and honing and studying and growing in knowledge so that I may escape destruction.

Hosea 4:4-6
4 Yet let no one contend,
and let none accuse,
for with you is my contention, O priest.
5 You shall stumble by day;
the prophet also shall stumble with you by night;
and I will destroy your mother.
6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.

2 Timothy 2:14-19
14 Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. 16 But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene… 19 But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”

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How To Evangelize

Going through Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life” series in Sunday School, yesterday we discussed his admonition that we ought to “gladly make others glad”.

First, our gladness equates to the fullness of our joy, our satisfaction with our life in Christ.

The others gladness can only occur when they recognize their sin, accept Christs forgiveness and redemptive work on the Cross, and begin and work out their own relationship with God.

One of the cardinal points of this teaching is that we, despite our responsibility to make others glad, are wholly and completely unable to make others glad. We are tools, we are the conduit used by God to bring about gladness in others.

But don’t think ours is a passive place, as our work for God is not passive in the slightest sense but active and our will and energy aligned with God’s work is necessary. As I love working for those I love, I ought to give all to the God who ransomed me.

And so, with our energy, and with our responsibility, and with our inability, we confront the admonition: “…always ready to give an answer for the hope that lies within us.”

And we ask, practically speaking: If I were to go to the door of a stranger across town with two people from Church, and (just thinking averages and chances) told them about Christs work on the cross. Would it matter? Would it make a difference in their life?

It may, it may not.

If however, you were “in the world but not of it” in the sense that you made relationships with unsaved people and allowed them to see into your life as you saw into theirs, and then told God: I’m ready for whatever trials You bring my way, only help me be strong and consistant in my love and trust in You, and let my patience and heartiness borne of Your strength in my life radiate and illuminate even in the depths of the trials You’ve allowed and shine such that my friends and neighbors who do not yet know the amazing power of Your might be unable to understand the peace within me. And give me the answer then as they see Your hope in me.

We are not saving people to heaven necessarily, but to a relationship with God.

To get someone to embrace heaven for any reason (to see loved ones, to escape hell, to live forever in bliss) besides the wonderful relationship we Christians experience with the Father of all, is to create a weak and cheap faith.

It’s like marrying for sex: sure it’s a cool thing that’s really fun, but the real reason to marry is because you can’t live without this best of friends who is so different from you and yet completes you in so many ways. Marrying for sex is one thing, but marrying for love and enjoying sex with that person you love is so far and above the former that it does not even bear comparing.

It causes me to think that the Ray Comfort method of evangelism, while it has it’s place in our sound-bite culture, isn’t the most effective method and may be more likely to create weak faith and charlatans of Christianity who at the first or second onset of adversity promised, will fall away and show “they were not of us”.