Today I have a guest post over at New Leaf Press Titled, “Teaching, Feelings, Opinions, or the Inerrancy of the Bible.” Here’s the first sentence in the post, “Friedrich Schleiermacher, a German theologian, philosopher, and biblical scholar was born November 21, 1768 and died February 12, 1834.” To read the whole post please click on: http://nlpgblogs.com/2012/08/30/teaching-feelings-opinions-or-the-inerrancy-of-the-bible/
Recent years have seen an increase in writing and speaking about how Christians are to have a biblical worldview and the importance of a biblical worldview. A biblical worldview that is the idea that Christians are to base what they believe on the Bible isn’t a new idea but a very old one. Jesus taught us to, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” (Matthew 22:37) The heart, mind and strength are overlapping categories, and the idea is that we must have an integrated love, loving God with everything we are and everything we have, giving our whole selves to Him. In the helpful new book Christian Contours How A Biblical Worldview Shapes the Mind and Heart edited by Dr. Douglas S. Huffman helps to advance the discussion on what a biblical worldview is and why it matters.
The purpose of the book is to “reacquaint all Christians with the basic of life claims that the historic Christian faith has about all of life in every era” (17). In other words, the approach of the authors in this book is to take an integrated approach to theology. In recent days, I’ve come to view theology this way myself as I’ve seen that we can become so focused on systematic or biblical theology that we neglect how theology should be integrated in every area of our lives. The fact that the authors take an integrated approach in this book is one that I greatly appreciate, and one I believe that readers of this book will find very helpful.
The authors contend that “the goal of every Christian, and the reason for continued Bible study and theological reflection, is to move closer to God’s view of things, i.e. the biblical worldview” (69). The biblical worldview according to the authors “encompasses five areas, theology, anthropology, ethics, soteriology, and epistemology” (70). Understanding our Christian worldview is important because it helps us to think biblically about the world we encounter every day as we seek to be in the world but not of the world.
The biblical worldview is not a mere add-on of religious ideas or simply affirming pleasant virtues or the collective expression of the fine sentiments about love and good deeds. As important as such matters might be the biblical worldview is more central and must be at the center of how a Christian thinks, speaks, and acts every moment of everyday. The biblical worldview shapes the mind and the heart in regard to everything.
Christian Contours will help the new Christian to understand what a biblical worldview is. This book will help the seasoned Christian, ministry leader, or Professor to equip people to think in a distinctly Christian way. I think going over the material in this book in a Sunday school class or perhaps even using some of the material in this book in a sermon series will help God’s people to understand what the biblical worldview is and why it is important. Wherever your at in your Christian journey, reading this book will help you to heed the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world,but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Author: Douglas S. Huffman Editor
Publisher: Kregel (2012)
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Kregel book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Lastly dear heart, as important as it is that you should not marry an Ahab, it is just as important that you should not be a Jezebel.
Jezebel – Even the mere mention of the name conjures up images of a woman who is morally-loose. As a culture we associate Jezebel with the temptress, the sorceress, the seductress. There are vague impressions of too much makeup, of muslin veils and dimly-lit palaces. But, when it comes right down to it, Jezebel is really much simpler than that. Jezebel is probably a very nice girl to hang out with and it’s quite likely she goes to church. She has a normal family, and given time she will almost certainly marry, or at least date a good deal, because she is the kind of woman for which the Ahabs of the world are looking.
First, Jezebel attains her self-worth and self-identity through idolatry. In ancient times, a person’s name carried great power and significance. It told you something about that person, and in a very real way it was their identity. Jezebel’s name, literally-translated from her native tongue, means “The Prince Baal Lives,” or “The Prince Baal Exists.” As I’m sure you know by now, Baal is a Canaanite fertility and weather god, worshiped by the same Syro-Phoenicean religion of which Jezebel’s own father was high priest before he became king of Sidon.
But in Hebrew, and this is a most unfortunate play on words, Jezebel’s name can mean, “There is no nobility.” The point, whether or not you put stock in the meaning of Biblical names, is that Jezebel was a woman who found her identity and her fulfillment in promoting her false religion – in promoting idolatry. In this way, she is not so different from the Jezebels of our own time, who seek for their fulfillment and self-worth on all of the pagan altars of the world: On Facebook, in their career, in their physical appearance, in ministry, and in men.
Of course the problem with this is that looking to any of these things for the fulfillment that you can only attain via a personal and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ is the very essence of idolatry, not less than Jezebel’s altars and asherim. A woman who does this is not just rejecting her God-given purpose as a woman, she is rejecting what it means to be a Christian. Such a woman I hope and pray that you will not be, and such a woman is not ready or fit to be a helpmeet.
Secondly, Jezebels will cater to a man’s selfishness. Going back to 1 Kings 21, we see Ahab sulking because Naboth would not violate the Mosaic law and sell his ancestral inheritance out of his tribe. Jezebel, perhaps history’s worst example of an enabler, took matters into her own hands and had Naboth brought up on trumped-up charges and promptly executed.
Tirza, if you remember nothing else of this little talk, remember this: A woman who will cater to her husband’s selfish impulses will be the single most destructive influence in his life.
One of the things that I have always admired about your mother, and one of the things which first endeared her to me, was the fact that she has quite simply never put up with my crap. Lovingly, gently, she has maintained high expectations of the man I ought to be, and she is ever holding me to them. I think it is something that she does unconsciously, and frankly I find it unnerving at times. But she expects manhood of me, and that affects my behavior because I love her and want her to be happy.
I don’t mean to sound as though your mother somehow bullies me into Christianity, because that is not the case. But you need to understand that very much of how a man behaves is based upon the expectations that people have for him. If people will tolerate or reward his selfishness and unrestrained ego, then that is how he will behave. But if you treat your man like a Man, and lay upon him all the commensurate responsibilities and rewards, he will very quickly grow into them. If he doesn’t, then he’s not the man you are looking for.
There are several book giveaways going on throughout the blogosphere right now, and I wanted to highlight a few for your consideration.
My friend Todd Gragg is giving away the ESV Single Column Journaling Bible over at his blog at http://pastortodd78.com/2012/08/27/the-esv-single-column-journaling-bible-a-giveaway/
Servants of Grace contributor and my friend Aaron Armstrong is giving away a personal library (two prize packs) over at his blog at http://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2012/08/27/im-giving-away-a-personal-library-and-some-other-keen-stuff-too/
I graduated from seminary on May 11, 2012, and, since then, friends have asked me:
“What’s the biggest transition you’ve had since graduating?”
Before I go into my answer to that question, I need to give a little background. I graduated high school in June 2000 (I’m thirty-one years old) and ever since graduating high school I’ve either been a full or part time student. The past two months have been the first time in my life where I wasn’t taking one or more classes at a community college, university or graduate school. So when my friends ask what the greatest transition has been for me, my consistent answer has been I’ve been enjoying my Bible reading a lot more. Depending on your own experiences, my answer may or may not surprise you.
In school, I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading the Bible over and over again. It wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy reading the Bible during this season of life; I’ve always enjoyed reading it. But after reading it academically for five years, I got to the point where I was reading more out of obligation than delight.
In the months since graduating, my passion for reading the Bible has only increased as I spend quality time every morning read the Word. If you’ve ever lost your passion, I hope the following helps you find it again, too.
First, grow in a love relationship with the Author of Scripture.
If a young woman received a love letter from her fiancée, she would eagerly read it since she is in love with the letter’s author. She would read and re-read those precious words, reading “between the lines” to discover the full richness of her lover’s message. Similarly, if we love God, we will find delight in the inspired words of God. Psalm 119:10-11, “With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” Love God and love His “love letter” to you—the Bible.
Second, have a personal relationship with God.
Even more basic than this loving God, the author of Scripture, the reader and interpreter of Scripture should strive to truly know God through Jesus Christ the Lord. You should have a deep and intimate relationship with God who inspired Scripture through the Holy Spirit (John 17:3; 2 Timothy 3:16). It is vital to remember that joy comes through the work of the Holy comes in our lives (Galatians 5:22). If you truly know God, in Christ Jesus and through the Spirit, you will be more prepared to rejoice in your Bible study.
Third, approach your Bible reading with worshipful awe.
It is vital that you have a proper attitude and frame of mind and heart as you open the pages of Scripture. For example, God says “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2b). Here we see that the one who comes to the Word should have a humble, contrite, and fearful (or respectful) attitude. You should approach it with a worshipful attitude, a fearful and respectful attitude, a submissive and yielding attitude, and a love for the God of Scripture.
Fourth, consider it an amazing privilege to read and study Scripture.
Until about the year 1500, the common person didn’t have the Scriptures in his or her own language. It took centuries before the Bible was translated and circulated in many of the world languages. Today, you have a priceless gift in your hands! You can read the Word of the living God and understand the Scriptures yourself, apart from false religious leaders censoring what you read! With this privilege comes tremendous responsibility.
Fifth, develop a real interest as you read a portion of Scripture.
Some people complain that their reading is dry and boring. It need not be this way. Develop a captivating interest in what you are reading. Ask yourself: “Why did Peter deny Jesus in this passage?” “Why did the Pharisees react so vehemently against Jesus as He declared His relationship with the Father?” “What was the nature of Judaizers that Paul seems to regularly combat?” Also, notice the choice of vocabulary, the connection between sentences, and the development of the argument in each book. This will arouse your curiosity, awaken your interest, and give you the joy of Bible discovery!
Sixth, ask the Lord to give you true joy as you read the Scriptures.
We know that spiritual joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23; Acts 13:52) that comes through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:1). Ask God to stimulate this joy in your heart as you open yourself to His divine Word.
Seventh, find a quiet place and time to spend quality time reading the Scriptures.
You should be undisturbed in your reading so that you can think through the text as you read it. Don’t allow background noise, music, TV programs, or conversations to disturb your concentration. Even a crying baby can interfere with your focus on the text. Find a time when you can be alone and also a time when you are most awake and alert in your reading. For some, this may be at 5 AM and for others it may be 10 PM, while for others it may be lunchtime or some other time during the day.
Eighth, begin your time in the Bible with prayer.
Before you begin to read verses or chapters for the day, pause to ask God’s blessing on your reading, the clarity of your thought, and the conviction that the Spirit brings through the Word that He inspired. The psalmist prayed, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wonderful things from Your law” (Psalm 119:18). Don’t just rely on your reading ability; depend on God to enlighten you as you prayerfully read.
Ninth, examine the Bible portion carefully and prayerfully.
Don’t read the Bible as you would cursory read the newspaper. Recognize that the Scriptures are God’s inspired revelation of His will. Every word has been inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16-17) and should be scrutinized with intensity. “One who looks intensely at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25). Read to see and understand what the Bible writers wrote.
Tenth, determine to read for spiritual benefit from the Lord.
Paul writes, “Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). The Bible gives encouragement, but it also gives us warnings (1 Corinthians 10:11), all of which are profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). Scripture gives us wisdom that leads to salvation (v. 15). The Word of God nourishes us (1 Timothy 4:6) and helps us to grow (1 Peter 2:2). If you keep the spiritual benefits of your Bible reading in mind, you can develop an unquenchable appetite for the Word. This will bring true joy!
Finally, always remember that you are seeking to know God’s will and obey it.
You should always bear in mind that you are not reading for mere curiosity, or to “do your duty,” or to compete with others. Instead, you are earnestly seeking to know what pleases God! We will be judged by Christ’s words (John 12:48), thus we should intently study that word to know it thoroughly. The Scriptures will keep us from sin: “Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). One time, someone wrote inside a Bible: “This Bible will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Bible.”
At times, every Christian goes through periods where reading the Bible becomes a duty instead of a delight. But I believe that by applying some of the above suggestions, you’ll find a fresh interest and passion for reading and studying the Word of God.
As you continue to grow in the Scriptures and the grace of God, you will come to have a burning desire to read, study, learn and meditate on His Word. A.W. Tozer said, “The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.” As this happens, you will come to have a real enjoyment of His Word, a genuine delight in searching the Scriptures, and delight to understand and obey the Word of God.
This post first appeared at Blogging Theologically
Charles Spurgeon, from The Pastor in Prayer:
Lord, convert our friends that still remain unsaved. Oh, mighty power of God, let none come into this house, even accidentally and casually, without receiving some devout impression. May the Spirit of God work mightily by our ministry, and the ministration of all His servants now present, whether in the Sabbath school, or in the streets, or in the lodging-houses, or from door to door, or when they privately speak to individuals.
Oh, glorify Thyself in us! Dear Saviour, we pray Thee come and mark us all distinctly with the blood mark, as being wholly Thine, and henceforth may we say with Paul, “Let no man trouble me; for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.” As we have been buried with Thee by baptism into death, so would we be dead to all the world and only live for Christ. God grant it may be so, and we will glorify Thee in life, and death, and forever.
This is our weekly roundup of posts for 8/19/-8/25/2012. If you have any feedback on how we can serve you our readers better, I would appreciate it. Thank you for reading and allowing us to minister to you throughout this past week through these posts.
Sunday 8/19/2012- The Way of Attaining to Godliness a Quote shared by Aaron Armstrong http://servantsofgrace.org/2012/08/19/the-way-of-attaining-to-godliness/
Monday 8/20- Book Review Journeys of faith Edited by Robert Plummer Reviewed by Craig Hurst http://servantsofgrace.org/2012/08/20/book-review-journeys-of-faith-ed-by-robert-plummer/
Tuesday 8/21- Dave’s Guest Post over at New Leaf Press: Marriage and Inerrancy: http://servantsofgrace.org/2012/08/21/guest-post-at-new-leaf-press-marriage-and-inerrancy/
Wed 8/22- Reforming or Conforming by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/2012/08/22/reforming-or-conforming/
Thursday 8/23- The Issue of Truth by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/2012/08/23/the-issue-of-truth/
Friday 8/24- The Lord’s Prayer by Dave Jenkins http://servantsofgrace.org/2012/08/24/the-lords-prayer-2/
Saturday 8/25- Making Plans for the Sake http://servantsofgrace.org/2012/08/25/making-plans-for-the-sake-of-the-mission-and-glory-of-god/
Earlier this week I got an email from one of the readers of Servants of Grace who wanted to see me answer this question, “How would you respond to the person who says that planning is a waste of time?” This post is my attempt at answering this question.
In Exodus 4, Moses is given his orders and given authority from God to carry out his ministry to the people of Israel. Moses was told to “thrown down his staff” and the staff became a serpent” (Exodus 4:2-3). Moses was told to go after the staff and “catch it by the tail” (vs.4). He was given three signs which were meant to authenticate the Lord’s message and ministry through Moses. Moses then doesn’t take God at His Word but instead doubts. When Moses doubts the Lord the Lord gets angry. Moses wants someone else to speak and he offers Aaron, so the Lord tells him Aaron will meet him (vs.14). After Moses was given authority from God, and the Lord had given Moses- Aaron to help him speak to the people of Israel- the Lord gives His plan to Moses in Exodus 4:21-23.
Throughout Exodus 4-6 it becomes clear who is sovereign and who is not. The Lord is sovereign in spite of Moses doubt (Exodus 4:13), and sends Aaron to help Moses. The Lord is sovereign over the Pharaoh to harden his heart (Exodus 4:21-23). In Exodus 5 the Lord is sovereign in spite of the Pharaoh’s rejection of the power and authority of God. In Exodus 6:1, the sovereign Lord tells Moses that “with a strong hand” the Lord will bring Israel out of Egypt. The Lord assures Moses that He is with Him in Exodus 6:2-8 and tells Moses what is going to happen to the people of Egypt.
Joshua 1:1 opens the book of Joshua with the death of Moses and the Lord once again taking the initiative in sending forth His servant to His people. Joshua was “Moses’ assistant” and therefore was prepared by the Lord for the task assigned to him. Near the end of his life, when Moses requested that a successor be appointed, the Lord instructed him to commission Joshua the son of Nun, “a man in whom is the Spirit,” before “all the congregation” (Num. 27:18-19).
In Joshua 1:1-9 the Lord gives his orders to Joshua. In Joshua 1:10-18, Joshua assumes his position of leadership, and issues orders to the officers (vs.10), and for the officers to tell the people (vs.11). In chapter 1, Joshua has received his charge. In chapter. 2, he begins to take charge. In chapter 2, Joshua sends two men to view the land and Jericho (Joshua 2:1). In Jericho they encountered a woman named Rahab who helped them hide from the king of Jericho. Rahab tells the two spies that the people in Jericho are fearful and are “melting away”. The two men returned to Joshua and told them in Joshua 2:24, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.” Joshua 3:1-4:24 tell the story of Israel crossing the Jordan.
In Exodus 4-6 the Lord is sovereign over all that Moses and Aaron do. The implication that Exodus 4-6 make regarding a biblical approach/perspective to planning is that His plans will go forward in spite of our doubts, fears and failings. The strong hand of the Lord will accomplish that which He has set forth and forth His people.
Like Exodus 4-6, Joshua 1:3- makes it clear that the Lord takes the initiative in all of His work. Exodus 4-6 and Joshua 1-3 emphasize that a biblical approach to planning begins with understanding the sovereignty of God. A biblical approach to planning begins with trusting His plan to work all things in accordance with His will. A biblical approach to planning begins with trust in who God is, and knowledge of His Word.
How would you respond to the person who says that planning is a waste of time?
Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 16:1, “The plans of the heart belongs to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.” Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:9, “the heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.”
The above passages and many others throughout the Bible make it clear that human responsibility is always subject to God’s absolute sovereignty (Proverbs 3:6; 16:2, 9, 33; 19:21; 20:24; 21:1 30-31). Proverbs 16:2 tells us to “commit” literally to “roll upon” in the sense of both total trust (Proverbs 3:5-6) and submission to the will of God (Ps. 22:8; 37:5; 119:133); he will fulfill his righteous plans. Proverbs 16:9 teaches that the Sovereign god overrules the plans of men to fulfill His purposes (Genesis 50:20; 1 Kings 12:15l Ps. 119:133; Jer. 10:23; Dan. 5:23-30; 1 Cor. 3:19-20).
I begin by answering the question, “”How would you respond to the person who says that planning is a waste of time?” with the Scriptures because the Scriptures are the final authority for faith and practice for believers. The person who says that “planning is a waste of time” does not understand the sovereignty of God and the role of human responsibility.
There is a fine line between making plans and then committing them (total trust and submission to the will of God) and making plans and arrogantly insisting that those plans will come to fruition. For example, I can say that since I’ve finished my Masters of Divinity its my intention to go pursue Ph.D studies in a few years. I can say this but afterwards also qualify that statement with, “But I am willing to go wherever the Lord sends me and do whatever He requires.” The point is, I can make plans for the future but those plans must be submitted to the sovereign purpose and will of God. The person who says “making plans is a waste of time” fails to acknowledge that God places desires, dreams and visions upon one’s heart and then uses those in the life of the believer to call them to intimacy and ministry for His glory.
I would begin responding to the person who says that planning is a waste of time by first emphasizing the sovereignty of God. I would continue by exhorting that person to understand that God has plans for them, and therefore they need to get in line with His Word and His mission to seek and save the lost. Furthermore, I would teach them that God has appointed the time and season of man’s life, and in order to be productive, and make the most of his/her life- he/she needs to make some plans, but trust in and submit them to His sovereign plan for one’s life.
In my experience most people and even many Christians are resistant to this teaching. Today’s culture instructs people that they are the ultimate sovereign, and God is “dead”- therefore make whatever plans you want. The American “dream” is self-centered because it essentially says that one is “sovereign”- make as much money as you can, and be as “successful” as you can at your job even if it costs you everything else- your children, your marriage, and even your family. This lie is often persuasive to many people but at the heart of it is- the pursuit of idolatry.
God in His Word has given His mission and has invited man to “come and follow Him” in the person of His Son Jesus Christ. God has made plans to use man for His glory but only if he/she will come to Himself and be His disciple. Only then will He send His disciple(s) out to fulfill His rescue mission in the world. Only as a result of “coming and following Christ” will one be able to “commit” and “submit” to the plan of the Lord. Only as a result of following Christ will one be able not truly “waste” time by throwing one’s life down the drain in the pursuit of pleasure and happiness apart from God.
Make plans in accordance with the Word of God. Submit your plans to the sovereign care of the Lord. In the words of Dr. John Piper, “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Give your life to sovereignty of God. Leave a lasting godly legacy. Jonathan Edwards is well known for making resolutions. He made those resolutions at the age of 19. At the heart of those resolutions was a desire to know God and make Him know to the world. Resolve to make all of your plans in accordance with Word of God, for the sake of His mission of ransoming a people through the work of His Son, for His glory.
In our culture today many people are asking, “What is truth?” People approach truth from two vantage points; one, a pursuit of knowledge and two, a desire to confirm what one believes to be truth. Other factors play into how one finds truth, and we they must find out if they are influenced by relativism or subjectivism. In this post, I will address some of the issues facing Christians by raising a number of objections that people have to Christianity and then I will offer a few answers.
Objection 1: My truth is your truth so really there is no truth. This objection is centered on the belief that Jesus was just a good man and not really God. To make this argument, they have to say they know all that one can know about Jesus. This argument is known as relativism which holds that truth is relative and no truth can be absolute. Truth then would be whatever that a person, or a people group believe to be true, is true.
This objection focuses on what we think to be true. How can we know Jesus is more than just a good person? In order to know this, we would have to take a look at what He said and did. John 14:6 says, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” The claims of Jesus Himself are not inclusive but exclusive. He teaches that nobody can come to the Father but through Him. This forms the basis for a natural objection because of our pride.
The argument from relativism stems from pride. In our pride, we think we know all Truth. The reality is that we are finite and cannot understand everything. As humans we are each endowed by our Creator with special abilities, talents and strengths which lend to the work of God or the destruction of the work of God.
At the forefront of this is the belief that in our own logic, reason and ability we can find the answers through our opinions. At odds with this is the notion of opinion verses Truth. The issue at stake is, “Are we truly made in the image of God, or am I just a person floating around with no purpose?” If God is the One who created us and He is the One who wrote the laws within the fabric of Creation, then only He can sustain His creation.
The human reaction to Truth is to oppose it. The reaction to Truth is to cut it down to its bare essentials and then to make it more palatable. The truth of the matter is, humans are driven to religion by the busload. The reality is that we want our religion our own way so we can have our own way to God. This is shown by human experience. What happens when a nation desires a leader? Do they seek God for the leader He wants? Or do they just select the leader or ideology they prefer? History teaches us that man seeks his own way apart from God. We are all seeking after a form of our own religion apart from God. The truth is that we can only know Truth when it comes from God because He is the One who created us, the One who sustains us, and the One who gave the laws in creation, so that we could live in His creation.
In Christianity, we make this argument also by saying to other Christians that it is what you believe but that is not what I believe. This is what I call Christian relativism. As Christians we have the Word of God which is inspired, inerrant and authorative over every area of life. We need to submit to the Word of God to find the answers to our questions from the Truth which God has given us. In this way we can form a Christian worldview which is counterculture to the message of the culture, which says to value what you believe.
The second objection says that the individual not the person/persons are a form of truth or knowledge. Subjectivism says that the individual is the source and judge of all knowledge based upon their own experience and knowledge. The argument from subjectivism centers on what I can do to know truth apart from God. This is also another form of secularism that we find spread throughout our culture today. Secularism is the belief that rejects everything associated with religion. Subjectivism and secularism are twins from the same family, because they have at the root of them the desire to worship what they believe.
We then are confronted with the reality of the issue of truth. What is Truth? How can I know Truth? Can it be known only by me or can it be known to others also? Do people receive revelation from a god, goddess or God Himself? Are their multiple ways to heaven? What makes Christianity so certain that it’s the only way to God? This then raises the next objection.
Objection 3-If Christianity is true and Jesus came to save me then why are Christians so divided in what they believe? This is actually an objection I hear a lot as a ministry leader. The main point of this is that we love to promote what we know. In my experience as a ministry leader, I have seen many believers who throw this down people’s throats instead of speaking the Truth in love. It is easy to get passionate about what we believe, and then throw it down a person’s throat. This turns people off quicker than anything. We must speak the truth but temper it with love.
This objection is true for many people who have been burned or hurt by the Christian church. In ministry, I have had many encounters with believers and non-believers alike that have been burned by the church or just disillusioned by what it believes. The common thread among those who I’ve talked to is, “Why is Christianity so divided? How can I know truth in the vast complex of American Christianity?” The answer to this question centers on the role of the Gospel and its purpose to seek and save that which is lost, and bring it into relationship with God. This objection stands out in popular culture as one of the main charges against the Christian church today. It does so because we, as the church preach a weak Gospel that promotes popular fads instead of a the Gospel.
This weak Gospel pervades American Christianity, because opinion is preached which devalues Truth. When people say, “I believe this”, or “how do you feel about this,” these questions belie ulterior motives other than the pursuit of Truth itself. We don’t know Truth by our feelings or by our experience; we know it, because it itself is Truth. Truth is not relegated to either our experience or our feelings. If Truth were at the level of our feelings then we could feel truth in the core of our being. If Truth were only known through our experience then we would have a hundred tales to tell but not one to base our lives around.
The Word of God is authorative for our lives and stands for the entire world as the standard for Truth. One cannot know truth apart from God because the Lord God is the One who created us. Since He is the One who created us, He is the One who wrote the laws in creation, and as such is the only One who can sustain us to live in His creation.
What is Truth? It’s a question that we all must answer and the answer to that question will dictate the course our lives chart. The practical implications on our answers to this question will range from how we treat our wives to how we deal with other fellow human beings. The implications are enormous for what I’ve said here today and I hope you will take time to consider them and ask further questions along the way.
Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodiesas a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed bythe renewal of your mind, that by testing you maydiscern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.“
In Romans 12:-15:13 Paul teaches on God’s righteousness in everyday life. The gift of God’s saving righteousness leads to a new life. In this section Paul works out some of the practical ramifications of God’s saving mercy. Romans 12:-12 is Paul’s paradigm for exhortations a total dedication to God. Romans 12:1-2 summarize the response to God’s grace and serve as the introduction for all of 12:1-15:13. They encapsulate what it means to live in a way that pleases God.
Therefore points back to the entire argument of Romans 1:18-11:36. Christians are to give themselves entirely to God because of his saving grace. This is Paul’s main point in Romans 3:21-11:36. Sacrificial language from the Old Testament is used to denote the new life of Christians, and this means that the word bodies here refers to Christians as whole persons, for body and soul belong to God. They are a living sacrifice, meaning that they are alive from the dead since they enjoy new life with Christ (6:4). “Living” also means that they will not be put to death as Old Testament animal’s sacrifices were for Christ has fulfilled what was predicted by those sacrifices. Whereas Old Testament worship focused on offering animal sacrifices in the temple, Paul says that spiritual worship in a broad sense now includes offering one’s whole life to God (Hebrews 13:15-16). Elsewhere, however, the New Testament can also use the word “worship” in the narrower sense, to speak of specific acts of adoration and praise.
The Greek word for appeal comes from a root which means “to call alongside to help.” Jesus used a related word, often translated comforter in reference to the Holy Spirit. This family of words later came to connote exhorting, encouraging or counseling. Paul was speaking as a counselor to his readers but his counsel carried the weight of his apostleship.
The present evil age still threatens those who belong to Christ, so they must resist its pressure. Their lives are to change as their minds are made new, so that they are able to discern God’s will. By testing you may discern translate from the Greek word “dokmazo”, which often has the sense of dinging out the worth of something by putting it to use or testing it in actual practice.
Conformed refers to assuming an outward expression that does not reflect what is on the inside, a kind of masquerade or act. The word’s form implies that Paul’s readers were already allowing this to happen and must stop conforming to the world. The word “world” is better translated age which refers to the systems of beliefs, values or the spirit of the age- at any time current in the world. This sum of contemporary thinking and values forms the moral atmosphere of our world and is always dominated by Satan (2 Cor. 4:4).
The Greek word for transformed from which the English word “metamorphosis” comes from, connotes a change in outward appearance. Matthew uses the same word to describe the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:2). Just as Christ briefly and in a limited way displayed his inner, divine nature and glory at the Transfiguration, Christians should outwardly manifest their inner redeemed natures, not once but daily (2 Cor. 3:18; 5:18). The kind of renewal Paul speaks of can only occur as the Holy Spirit changes our thinking through consistent study and meditation of Scripture (Psalm 119:11; Col. 1:2; 3:10, 16: Phil 4:8).
The renewed mind is one saturated and controlled by the word of God. Good, perfect and acceptable speaks of the holy living of which God approves. These words are borrowed from Old Testament sacrificial language and describe a life that is morally and spiritually spotless, just as the sacrificial animals were to be (Lev 22:19-25).
Paul in Romans 12:1 calls believers to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God which is your spiritual worship.” The point Paul is making here is that in light of all he has taught about justification and sanctification believers are to give themselves over to the great truths he has taught in his epistle. As a result of all that God has done the believer is to respond to Him by living a life in conformity with the standard of the perfection and holiness of God by growing in likeness to Christ.
The standard that Paul sets for believers in Romans 12:2 may seem a little high. Consider though the great truths he has expounded on regarding justification, adoption, regeneration, security, assurance, sanctification, separation, and glorification. In light of these great truths it is not too high of a standard, because believers have been called out of the world to be bondservants of Christ. Paul knows the great truth about the enabling of the believer to live a life in conformity to Christ because of the work of the Spirit. It is because of this that he can say in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Are you reforming to the standard of God as set forth in Scripture or are you conforming to the world? The question may appear simple perhaps even silly to some, but it is a deadly serious question in light of the truth of Romans 12:1-2, and the argument Paul is making in the book of Romans. The main point of Romans 12:1 is that believers must give themselves over to God. It is not enough to just know the truth about justification and sanctification or even a whole host of other doctrines. If the knowing of the doctrine of God as set forth in His Word does not penetrate the heart of man- if it does not lead you to “present your bodies” and your life to God, the Gospel of God, and the Word of God then you are not worshiping God nor reforming to His standard, but instead to the standard of the world.
Paul doesn’t stop at just conforming to this world. Paul knows that believers need instruction on how to not conform to the world and live a life that is thoroughly grounded in the Gospel. He teaches this in Romans 12:2 when he says, “be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” How is this done? How do I reform my life in accordance to the Word of God? How do I not conform to the world?
There are many ways to not conform to the world. The first is to give yourself over to God and make sure that you belong to Him. First check your understanding of Romans 1-3. Do you understand that you are a sinner and that your sin offends a holy God? Second, do you understand the truth of justification of being declared not guilty? Do you often rely on your own righteousness, or have you cast yourself wholly upon the righteousness of Christ as Romans 4-5 teach? Third, do you understand the truth of Romans 6-8? Do you understand that you have a new identity in Christ which calls you to a new way of living? Do you understand that the Holy Spirit enables you to live a life in accordance with the Word of God? Do you understand that your battle with sin will one day end and you will be glorified? Fourth, do you understand the truth of Romans 9-11? Do you understand the sovereignty and character of God? Fifth, do you understand Romans 12-14 that Paul is writing to the Romans so that they will join Him in proclaiming the Gospel in Spain and beyond? Do you understand that the theology he sets forth in the first eleven chapters of Romans lead to the practical explanations he gives in Romans 12-14? Sixth, are you daily in the Word of God and prayer? Seventh, are you a member of a local Church? Finally, do you have an accountability team of godly men or women around you to hold you accountable, to pray with you, and whom you can call to a listening ear and or godly counsel?
In conclusion, my brothers and sisters, I appeal to you in the name of Romans 12:1-2 to give yourself afresh to the work of God in your life, in your marriages, in your local church, in your neighborhoods, your communities, your cities and your nations! Give yourself over to the beauty of the Gospel. Give yourself over to worshipping and enjoying the God who sent forth His Son Jesus Christ to die for you in your place, be buried and rise again. Give yourself over to the God who enables you to live for Him, to enjoy Him, to be satisfied in Him. Finally give yourself to a God who is truly worth living for.
As you give yourself over to God- may God open your eyes to the reality and pervasiveness of the sin in your heart, but equally so, the beauty, and the majesty of God who sent His Son into the world to die in our place for our sin, be buried and rise again. May you taste and see that the Lord is good, and that truly His mercy endures forever.
J.C. Ryle said, “”Look at the cross. Think of the cross. Meditate on the Cross, and then go and set affections on the world if you can.” Once you’ve looked at the Cross, thought of the Cross, meditated on the Cross and your gaze is Godward as Ryle says- go ahead and try to set your affections on the world. The point Ryle is making is that once your affections have tasted of the superior pleasure of knowing and enjoying God- the power of sin will lessen in your life, and this is exactly the point Paul is making in Romans 12:1-2.
The power sin ought to be lessening in your life as you- the believer continues to look at the Cross, think of the Cross and meditate on the Cross. Once you know who Jesus is, and what He has done to purchase you- understanding that precious truth will humble, and transform your life. As you humble yourself before the Lord- you will continue to find that He is all together precious and superior in every way to the lie of sin, and your life will progressively conform and demonstrate the joy of the Lord to others. May you be found today to be reforming in accordance to the Word of God. May you be found today even now turning from false pleasure that sin offers, and to the preciousness of knowing and enjoying the preciousness of our great Savior, Redeemer and King- Jesus Christ.