Friday, March 30, 2018

A World Without Any Common Sense

An interesting and insightful read from Trevin Wax . . .

Harriet Beecher Stowe once defined common sense as “seeing things as they are, and doing things as they should be.” Stowe zeroed in on the clarity and obligation that comes from seeing the world as it truly is.
But how do we live in a world where common sense has become uncommon? A world in which we do not see things as they are, nor do we even agree on what things we see?
A civilization cannot survive without some degree of commonality in belief and practice. Without certain foundational truths agreed upon by most people, we cannot build anything beautiful and lasting. That’s why the disappearance of common sense—sense we truly hold in common—is often a sign of societal decay.

Guns, Medicine, and Marriage

Take, for example, how the debate over gun control has played out in recent weeks.
Most politicians and most Americans say they support “common-sense gun legislation.” The only problem is that our sense is not common. Americans have starkly different intuitions regarding the causes of and solutions for mass violence. It’s not that one segment of Americans “loves guns more than children” or another segment “hates the Constitution and welcomes tyranny.” It’s that, when it comes to violence and gun ownership, Americans do not share the same intuitions and sensibilities. We cannot pass “common-sense legislation” because there is no common sense on this matter.
Other debates in our society follow a similar pattern. Take the field of medicine.
The common-sense understanding of medical practice is that a doctor seeks to restore the body to its proper function. Body parts are ordered toward certain ends. The heart pumps blood. The nose is supposed to smell. The ears are supposed to hear. If a part of the body is failing, medicine seeks to restore it to its proper function.
But today we are losing “common-sense agreement” on what medicine is supposed to accomplish.
  • We use the term “reproductive health” to describe a surgery that halts a healthy reproductive process and ends a new life in the womb.
  • People demand “gender-reassignment surgeries” that involve the intentional mutilation or removal of healthy body parts that are functioning properly.
  • Activists claim we are killing children if we withhold puberty-blocking hormones that bring about irreversible effects and prevent the development of a healthy reproductive system.
We all agree with the doctor’s vow to “do no harm,” but we no longer share a common understanding of what “health” and “harm” are.
Regarding marriage, for most Americans it’s common sense that gay marriage should be legal. Any other arrangement treats same-sex romantic partnerships unequally. But historically, it has been common sense that marriage is more than a romantic commitment. The male/female union has been a foundational and sacred pillar of society because it is the only union that can bring about new life. Common sense has changed. (And that’s why, in the future, there is nothing to prevent common sense from moving in the direction of “expanding” marriage to more than two romantic partners.)

Common Ground and Common Sense

My point is not that common sense is an infallible guide to justice and freedom. For some cultures, it was common sense that a widow would throw herself onto the funeral pyre of her husband. In the South, it was common sense among people that the races were better off segregated. Common sense can be wrong.
My point is that in our society’s most contentious debates, we have a hard time finding “common ground” because there is no “common sense” regarding what’s at stake. The challenge we face is the disappearance of common sense at the level of ideals.
Our problem is not that we disagree over how to achieve the “common good”; it’s that we no longer share a vision of what the common good is or should be.
It’s one thing to debate the best way to achieve a goal. It’s another thing to debate the goal.
It’s one thing to debate the best path forward for making progress. It’s another thing to debate the destination toward which we hope to make progress in the first place.
This is the kind of common sense we lack today. And that’s what makes our dialogue and debate increasingly difficult.

10 Things You Should Know about the Exodus

This article is part of the 10 Things You Should Know series.

1. The deliverance from Egypt is not the first example of the exodus pattern in the Bible.

The story of the exodus is anticipated in various ways and through several stories in the book of Genesis. For instance, in Genesis 12-14 there was a famine in the land and Abram went down into Egypt to stay there. Pharaoh took Sarai, threatening the woman and the promised seed. Pharaoh was deceived by the woman, Sarai. God then plagued Pharaoh on account of her, while Abram received many gifts from Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Discovering that Sarai was Abram’s wife, Pharaoh commanded Abram to leave. Abram returned to Canaan, where the Promised Land was divided between him and Lot and God instructed him to walk throughout the land, as God would give it to him. Finally, Abram fought against kings of the land and was victorious. An exodus pattern is also found in the story of the deliverance of Lot from Sodom, or Jacob’s sojourn with Laban.
When God delivers Israel from Egypt in the book of Exodus, they are walking in the footsteps of the patriarchs. From a different perspective, God’s deliverances of the patriarchs are ‘reality-filled promises’ of the greater works that he will accomplish for their descendants.

2. The exodus is a pattern that can be broken down into many stages.

The exodus pattern appears with varying degrees of prominence on a great many occasions in Scripture. Like a recurring theme in a piece of music, sometimes its presence takes the form of subtle and tantalizing hints, only perceived by the most alert listeners; on other occasions its presence is pronounced and highly developed.
The pattern of exodus can itself be broken down into a number of connected stages. James Jordan, whose work has, perhaps more than anyone else’s, inspired my attention to this theme, lists some of these in his book Through New Eyes:
  • A threat drives the people of God from their home.
  • There is an assault upon the Woman and her seed by the Serpent.
  • Deception is used to outwit the Serpent.
  • God’s people are enslaved.
  • God blesses his people while plaguing their oppressors.
  • God intervenes to save his people.
  • The Serpent shifts blame and accuses the righteous.
  • God humiliates the false gods.
  • God’s people depart with spoils from their enemies.
  • God’s people are brought into the Holy Land.
  • A site of worship is established.
We generally don’t see every one of these stages in any given exodus story, but we will usually see several of them.

3. It is an event in which God discloses his identity.

God revealed his covenant identity to his people in the context of the exodus. In the appearance and declaration of the divine name at the burning bush, in the plagues upon Egypt, in the theophany and deliverance of the Law at Sinai, and in his accomplishing of his people’s deliverance, God reveals himself through the events of the exodus. God is disclosed in his actions and the story of the exodus is one in which God is displaying his character and his commitment to his people.
At the burning bush, God declares his divine name to Moses and his commitment to deliver his people. It is as if God began by placing his signature firmly in the corner of the still-blank canvas titled ‘Exodus’, before proceeding to produce a work exceeding anyone’s imagining. Through the exodus, God demonstrates that his power is above all other supposed gods. Taking on all of the gods of the Egyptians, God proves his superiority in every realm of creation.
From the life-giving Nile to the sun in the heavens, God displays his power and shows that there is no one above him. By the time that the people arrive at Sinai, they have received a new revelation of the depths of God’s faithfulness and concern for his people, the immensity of his power, the unlimited scope of his sovereignty, and the fearfulness of his majesty. The Law begins with a reminder of God’s work of exodus, constantly reminding Israel of this knowledge.

4. The exodus is institutionalized and made foundational for the future self-understanding of the people of God.

The exodus isn’t merely an event that occurs in history, then steadily retreats into a distant past. In the midst of the story of the exodus, God instructs Moses and Aaron to establish the month of the exodus as the first month of Israel’s calendar and to celebrate the Passover every year within it, memorializing the deliverance from Egypt (Exodus 12). The memorialization of the exodus in the yearly Passover celebration grounds Israel and its self-understanding in that great deliverance.

5. The exodus and the exodus pattern help us to understand the meaning of and connections between events.

Part of the power of figural reading and of recurring patterns such as that of exodus is that they enable us to bring events, persons, and things into illuminating relations and juxtapositions. For instance, there are a number of connections between Moses and Joshua as a pair and Elijah and Elisha as a pair. Like Moses, Elijah is a prophet who spends most of his ministry in the desert, who delivers God’s judgment against an oppressive Pharaoh-like king (Ahab), and who encounters God at Mount Horeb. Like Joshua, Elisha’s comes to prominence with a miraculous crossing of the Jordan near Jericho. He then performs several miracles and achieves victories in the land. Recognizing an exodus pattern in the ministry of Elijah and Elisha helps us to get a firmer grasp on what God accomplished through them.
The ministry of Christ involves Elisha-like miracles (multiplying loaves, raising a widow’s son, etc.) and succeeds that of the Elijah-like John the Baptist (a man who dresses like Elijah, struggles against a wicked king and his manipulating wife, and ministers chiefly in the wilderness). Having recognized such similarities, we can explore the comparisons and contrasts between such characters and events to get a better sense of their significance. For instance, Jesus is like Elisha, who is like Joshua, bringing the work of Elijah to completion, conquering the land through miraculous works. In other senses, Jesus is like Elijah, ascending into heaven while his successors watch, the mantle of his Spirit descending upon them at Pentecost, equipping them to continue his mission in his power.

6. The exodus is a basis for prophetic expectation.

The memorialization of the exodus isn’t merely backward-looking but anticipates a greater exodus yet to come. Prophets like Isaiah presented the exodus as the model for a deliverance that God would bring about for his people in the future. The exodus was a declaration of God’s good purpose for his people—that they, being liberated from their enemies, might serve him without fear all the days of their lives—and each celebration of the exodus looked forward to the day when that purpose would be fully realized. The memory of the exodus was charged with hope and expectation.
Echoes of Exodus

Echoes of Exodus

Alastair J. RobertsAndrew Wilson

Exploring the theme of exodus throughout both the Old and New Testaments, this book sheds light on Scripture’s unified message of redemption from slavery to sin through Jesus Christ.

7. The exodus provides us with a framework within which to understand the work of Christ.

In introducing us to the figure of Christ, each of the gospels employs exodus themes in various ways. Christ is the son called out of Egypt. He is the boy child rescued from the murderous king. He is the man who passes through the water and spends a period of forty days being tested in the wilderness. He is the manifestation of the Father’s glory that eclipses the glory of the Mosaic revelation received at Sinai. He is the one who authoritatively teaches a new ‘law’ from a mountain.
Exodus themes are prominent throughout the ministry of Christ, especially in association with his death and resurrection, which occur in the context of Passover. Christ is the Passover Lamb, the firstborn Son, the prophet like Moses. Once we appreciate the presence of an exodus pattern, the picture can be filled out. For instance, Pentecost is like Sinai, the giving of the Spirit like the giving of the Law. In both cases, the leader of the people ascends to God’s presence then gives a new revelation and establishes a new dwelling of God with his people.
All of these themes help us to get a clearer sense of who Jesus is and what he does.

8. The exodus reveals the unity of Scripture and of the work of redemption to which it bears witness.

The presence of the recurring themes of exodus throughout the biblical text, in both Old and New Testaments, manifests that Scripture is not a collection of detached stories of miscellaneous acts of God in the past, but is a unified drama of redemption. Such patterns should increase our confidence in the Scripture as a divinely inspired and integrated whole. The unity of the biblical witness and of the drama of redemption to which it bears witness also underlines the relevance of Old Testament narratives of exodus to the people of God in the twenty-first century.

9. Both Baptism and the Lord’s Supper draw upon an exodus pattern.

The story of Christ could be described as a story of three baptisms: his baptism by John the Baptist in the Jordan, the ‘baptism’ of his death (see Mark 10:38), and his baptism of the Church at Pentecost. Each one of these baptisms draws upon the pattern of exodus in various ways.
The baptism by John recalls both the crossing of the Red Sea and the crossing of the Jordan, the bookends of the period in the wilderness. It occurs before forty days of testing in the wilderness, akin to Israel’s forty years of testing in the wilderness. It is also the transition from the ministry of John in the wilderness to the ministry of Jesus in the land, much as Joshua (whose name Jesus shares) succeeds from Moses at the banks of the Jordan.
The ‘baptism’ of Christ’s death recalls the events surrounding the Passover, at which time it occurs. Christ tears open the deep of death in his resurrection, allowing the faithful to pass through to the other side, unharmed by the evil one who is pursuing them.
The baptism of the Church with the Spirit at Pentecost recalls the giving of the Law and establishment of the tabernacle at Sinai. It could also remind us of the Pentecost-like event of Numbers 11, where the Spirit of Moses is given to the elders of Israel, or of Joshua’s receiving the Spirit as Moses’ successor.
The Lord’s Supper was instituted at a Passover meal and draws heavily upon the meaning of the Passover to interpret the death of Christ. The elements of bread and wine are elements taken from the existing ritual of the Passover meal.
When Paul speaks about the Church’s practice of Baptism and the Supper, he relates both to the exodus. We are baptized into Christ much as Israel was baptized into Moses. Like the Israelites, we are delivered through water and led by the Spirit to the Promised Land. Our celebration of the Supper is compared to the Israelites eating the manna and drinking from the rock or is compared to the celebration of the feast of the Passover, with Christ being the Lamb sacrificed for us.

10. The exodus gives us a sense of our place in God’s work of redemption.

The presence of the exodus pattern in the New Testament, not least in its teaching concerning Baptism and the Supper, is a means by which we are brought into an understanding of where we stand in relation to God’s purposes. We are to perceive the ways in which the story of Israel resonates with our own, to see ourselves as bound together in the greater drama of God’s redemption, and to act accordingly. We have been delivered from the dominion of the Pharaoh of this world, Satan. We are pilgrims in the wilderness of this present age, being led to the Promised Land of the new heavens and the new earth by the Spirit. We are being led by Christ, the prophet like Moses and the true Joshua. We face the temptation of returning to Egypt, and are tested in a great many ways, yet are called to follow our Master, who has overcome the ruler of this age.
When we read the story of the exodus, we are not just reading about some events that occurred in the distant past, but acquainting ourselves with patterns of divine redemption that are still being worked out in the world today. Paul wrote of the exodus story in 1 Corinthians 10:11, ‘Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.’ In the exodus story and the many other stories that share its patterns, the Scripture looks us directly in our eyes in the present day. The themes of redemption disclosed in such narratives resonate with those of the New Exodus that we have been caught up into by the work of Christ. When we hear exodus stories we are listening to variations within the one great Story, a Story that finds its climax in the Great Exodus, as through the Passover sacrifice of his Son, the Father delivers us from the kingdom of Satan, leading us by the Spirit into the new creation.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

10 Things You Should Know about Charles Spurgeon

Helpful thoughts on Spurgeon from Crossway . . .

This article is part of the 10 Things You Should Know series.

1. His ministry began in the year of his conversion as a young man.

Spurgeon was raised in a Christian home, but was converted in 1850 at fifteen years old. Caught in a snowstorm, he took refuge in a small Primitive Methodist chapel in Colchester. After about ten minutes, with only twelve to fifteen people present, the preacher fixed his eyes on Spurgeon and spoke to him directly:
“Young man, you look very miserable.” Then, lifting up his hands, he shouted, “Young man, look to Jesus Christ. Look! Look! Look! You have nothin’ to do but to look and live.” Spurgeon later wrote, ‘Oh! I looked until I could almost have looked my eyes away.’ 1
The ‘Prince of Preachers’ was tricked into preaching his first sermon that same year. An older man had asked Spurgeon to go to the little village of Teversham the next evening, “for a young man was to preach there who was not much used to services, and very likely would be glad of company.” It was only the next day that he realized the ‘young man’ was himself.2

2. He was a man of hard work and huge influence.

He went on to preach in person up to thirteen times per week, gathered the largest church of his day, and could make himself heard in a crowd of twenty-three thousand people (without amplification). In print he published some eighteen million words, selling over fifty-six million copies of his sermons in nearly forty languages in his own lifetime.

3. He was self-consciously a theological and doctrinal preacher.

While Spurgeon is not known as a theologian as such, he was nevertheless a deeply theological thinker and his sermons were rich in doctrine, and dripping with knowledge of historical theology – especially the Puritans.
Some preachers seem to be afraid lest their sermons should be too rich in doctrine, and so injure the spiritual digestions of their hearers. The fear is superfluous. . . . This is not a theological age, and therefore it rails at sound doctrinal teaching, on the principle that ignorance despises wisdom. The glorious giants of the Puritan age fed on something better than the whipped creams and pastries which are now so much in vogue.3

4. He was pre-eminently a theologian and preacher of the cross.

Spurgeon’s was a cross-centered and cross-shaped theology, for the cross was “the hour” of Christ’s glorification (John 12:23–24), the place where Christ was and is exalted, the only message able to overturn the hearts of men and women otherwise enslaved to sin. Along with Isaiah 45:22, one of Spurgeon’s favorite Bible verses was John 12:32: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
He insisted on celebrating the Lord’s Supper every Sunday, and often broke bread during the week as well. He believed his preaching of the crucified Christ was the only reason why such great crowds were drawn to his church for so many years.
Who can resist his charms? One look of his eyes overpowers us. See with your heart those eyes when they are full of tears for perishing sinners, and you are a willing subject. One look at his blessed person subjected to scourging and spitting for our sakes will give us more idea of his crown rights than anything besides. Look into his pierced heart as it pours out its life-flood for us, and all disputes about his sovereignty are ended in our hearts. We own him Lord because we see how he loved.4
Regeneration, he saw, is a work of pure grace—and those the Lord regenerates, he will indwell.

5. He aimed his ministry and preaching at new birth.

Regeneration was one of the “three Rs” (ruin, redemption, and regeneration) Spurgeon always sought to preach. And regeneration was something he always expected to see as he preached the gospel. A friend of his once came to him, depressed because for three months of ministry he had not seen a single conversion. Spurgeon slyly asked, “Do you expect the Lord to save souls every time you open your mouth?” Embarrassed, the man answered “Oh, no, sir!” “Then,” Spurgeon replied, “that is just the reason why you have not had conversions: ‘According to your faith be it unto you.’”5
Regeneration, he saw, is a work of pure grace—and those the Lord regenerates, he will indwell. And “with such an indweller we need not fear, but that this poor heart of ours will yet become perfect as God is perfect; and our nature through his indwelling shall rise into complete meetness for the inheritance of the saints in light.”6

6. He knew how to enjoy life.

Spurgeon loved life and saw the creation as a blessing from God to be enjoyed. For tired ministers, he recommended:
A day’s breathing of fresh air upon the hills, or a few hours’ ramble in the beech woods’ umbrageous calm,’ which ‘would sweep the cobwebs out of the brain of scores of our toiling ministers who are now but half alive. A mouthful of sea air, or a stiff walk in the wind’s face, would not give grace to the soul, but it would yield oxygen to the body, which is next best.’7
He couldn’t resist walking outside in thunderstorms (‘I like to hear my Heavenly Father’s voice in the thunder’), he is known for his cigar smoking, and he had a keen interest in botany. Like us all, Spurgeon was uniquely himself. Yet his big-heartedness and joy as he walked through his Father’s creation displays exactly the sort of life that will always grow from the theology he believed.
Spurgeon on the Christian Life

Spurgeon on the Christian Life

Michael Reeves

This introduction to Spurgeon’s life and ministry—organized around themes such as the centrality of Christ and the empowerment of the Spirit—will encourage readers to live for God's glory.

7. He was a mischievous, funny man.

'What a bubbling fountain of humour Mr. Spurgeon had!’ wrote his friend William Williams. ‘I have laughed more, I verily believe, when in his company than during all the rest of my life besides.’8A whole chapter of Spurgeon’s ‘autobiography’ is entitled ‘Pure Fun,’ and he regularly surprised people who expected the zealous pastor to be dour and intense. Grandiosity, religiosity, and humbug could all expect to be pricked on his wit.

8. He was serious about joy.

Spurgeon’s humour and jollity were not trivial or frivolous. For him, joy was a theological matter and a manifestation of that happiness and cheer which is found in Christ alone. He refused to take himself—or any other sinner—too seriously, believing that to be alive in Christ means to fight not only the habits and acts of sin but also sin’s temperamental sullenness, ingratitude, bitterness, and despair.
Christ wishes his people to be happy. When they are perfect, as he will make them in due time, they shall also be perfectly happy. As heaven is the place of pure holiness, so is it the place of unalloyed happiness; and in proportion as we get ready for heaven, we shall have some of the joy which belongs to heaven, and it is our Saviour’s will that even now his joy should remain in us, and that our joy should be full.9

9. He suffered with depression.

Spurgeon was full of life and joy, but also suffered deeply with depression as a result of personal tragedies, illness, and stress. Today he would almost certainly be diagnosed as clinically depressed and treated with medication and therapy. His wife, Susannah, wrote, “My beloved’s anguish was so deep and violent, that reason seemed to totter in her throne, and we sometimes feared that he would never preach again.”10
Spurgeon believed that Christian ministers should expect a special degree of suffering to be given to them as a way of forming them for Christlike, compassionate ministry. Christ himself was made like his weak and tempted brothers in order that he might help those who are tempted (Heb. 2:16–18), and in the same manner, it is weak and suffering people that God has chosen to minister to the weak and suffering.

10. He was emphatically Christ-centered.

Spurgeon saw theology much like astronomy: as the solar system makes sense only when the sun is central, so systems of theological thought are coherent only when Christ is central. Every doctrine must find its place and meaning in its proper relation to Christ. “Be assured that we cannot be right in the rest, unless we think rightly of HIM. . . . Where is Christ in your theological system?”11
Spurgeon’s view of the Bible, his Calvinism, and his view of the Christian life are all deeply Christocentric–and even that astronomical analogy may be too weak to capture quite how Christ-centered Spurgeon was in his thinking.
For him, Christ is not merely one component—however pivotal—in the bigger machinery of the gospel. Christ himself is the truth we know, the object and reward of our faith, and the light that illumines every part of a true theological system. He wrote, ‘He himself is Doctor and Doctrine, Revealer and Revelation, the Illuminator and the Light of Men. He is exalted in every word of truth, because he is its sum and substance. He sits above the gospel, like a prince on his own throne. Doctrine is most precious when we see it distilling from his lips and embodied in his person. Sermons are valuable in proportion as they speak of him and point to him.’12
  1. C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife and His Private Secretary, 1834–1854, vol. 1 (Chicago: Curts & Jennings, 1898),106.
  2. C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife and His Private Secretary, 1834–1854, vol. 1 (Chicago: Curts & Jennings, 1898), 200.
  3. C. H. Spurgeon, The Sword and Trowel (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1865–1891), 125–26.
  4. C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, 63 vols. (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855–1917),* vol. 23, 269.
  5. C. H. Spurgeon’s Autobiography, Compiled from His Diary, Letters, and Records, by His Wife and His Private Secretary, 1834–1854, vol. 2:151.
  6. C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, 63 vols. (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855–1917),* vol.18:225.
  7. C. H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students, Addresses Delivered to the Students of the Pastors’ College, Metropolitan Tabernacle (New York: Robert Carter and Brothers, 1889) vol. 1, 172.

  8. William Williams, Personal Reminiscences of Charles Haddon Spurgeon (London: Passmore & Alabaster,
    1895),, 17–18.
  9. C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, 63 vols. (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855–1917),* vol. 51:229.
  10. Charles Ray, “The Life of Susannah Spurgeon,” in Morning Devotions by Susannah Spurgeon: Free Grace and Dying Love(Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2006), 166.
  11. C. H. Spurgeon, An All-Round Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1900), 364.

  12. C. H. Spurgeon, The New Park Street Pulpit Sermons, 6 vols. (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1855–1860),1:vi.

4 Reasons Why We Need Biblical Theology

Gather Your Tools

To read the Bible faithfully, we need the proper tools. The discipline of biblical theology is one of those helpful tools.

1. Biblical theology helps clarify the Bible’s main purpose.

Some people approach God’s Word as if it were a collection of independent stories, or an assortment of advice and counsel, or even a universal cookbook with recipes for “the good life” scattered across its sixty-six books. But these approaches fail to bring to light the central purpose of Scripture.
In the Bible, the triune God explains who he is and what he is like and how he’s at work throughout history by his Spirit and in his Son, Jesus Christ the King, and how we ought to glorify him in this world. Biblical theology helps us to grasp this main purpose by looking at each passage of Scripture in light of the whole Bible so that we understand how every part of Scripture is related to Jesus.

2. Biblical theology helps guard and guide the church.

Reading Scripture rightly means knowing where each book fits into its overarching narrative. And knowing the overarching narrative helps us read and understand accurately each event, character, or lesson that’s been given to us as part of God’s progressively revealed Word. Understanding the whole story of Scripture clarifies who Jesus Christ is and what his gospel is. God has promised to rescue a people from every tribe and nation and tongue for his own glory through his Son and by his Spirit.
In the Bible, the triune God explains who he is and what he is like and how he’s at work throughout history by his Spirit and in his Son, Jesus Christ the King,
These redeemed people are members of Christ’s body, the church. What is the church of Jesus Christ supposed to be and supposed to do? Jesus said to his followers—those who’ve repented of their sins and trusted in him alone—that the Scriptures testify “repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). So the proclamation of Jesus Christ ought to be at the heart of the church’s mission to disciple the nations. In this way, biblical theology guards the church from the deadly error of proclaiming a false gospel and guides the church toward keeping the proclamation of the true gospel as the centerpiece of its mission to the world for the praise of God’s glory.

3. Biblical theology helps us in our evangelistic outreach.

Sharing the good news with those who are unfamiliar with Christianity requires explaining much more than “four spiritual laws” or the “Romans road.” People first need to grasp that the Christian worldview accompanies a total transformation of mind-set. In our evangelism, we must start with God and creation to see what’s gone wrong. From there, we’re able to follow what God has been doing throughout history, which will help us discover why he sent Jesus and why that matters today. Not until we rightly understand these past events in their proper contexts will we be equipped to uncover what God is doing right now and what he’ll do in the future.
Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology

Nick RoarkRobert Cline

In response to various kinds of false teaching around the world, this book is an exhortation for churches to use biblical theology to help guard the true gospel.

4. Biblical theology helps us read, understand, and teach the Bible the way Jesus said we should.

Jesus himself says in Luke 24 that he is Scripture’s interpretive key. So if we fail to read and understand Scripture in a way that leads us to Jesus, then we will miss the point of the Bible, and as a result we will teach others to commit the same error.
This article is adapted from Biblical Theology by Nick Roark and Robert Cline.

Monday, March 26, 2018

3 Evangelistic Conversation Starter Questions

Oh no, not another article on evangelism to make me feel guilty.
Few topics make Christians feel more convicted than the topic of evangelism. Many of us (including me) struggle with this spiritual discipline. I often feel inadequate as an evangelist and get discouraged by my efforts. I realize I’m not alone. Many of us are stuck not because we don’t know the gospel, but because we don’t know how to start evangelistic conversations.
Evangelistic Conversation Starter Questions
How do you share Christ at work? What about at the gym? Or at school? And how about your lost neighbors — what do you say to them?
You probably have the desire. You just don’t know where to start.
One of the best ways to start evangelistic conversations is by asking the right questions.
Below are three simple ones that come to mind.

3 Evangelistic Conversation Starter Questions

Question #1: What did you do this weekend?

Mondays are a day many in the workplace dread. The agony begins on Sunday nights when you think about the traffic you’ll face tomorrow, the emails you have to reply to, and the work you left undone the previous week. It can feel like a trial. But if you’re a Christ follower, Mondays can be a good evangelistic day. You can view Mondays as either misery or missional.
On Mondays, ask your co-workers this question: “So, what did you do this weekend?”
Chances are, they’ll open up to you. Asking people questions about themselves makes them feel loved. And while this doesn’t happen every time, often they’ll return the favor and ask you about your weekend.
That’s when you can — in a non-awkward and graceful way — speak honestly about your weekend plans, and mention your experience at Sunday worship the previous day. The key is to bring up church in some way. It would be helpful if your co-workers know that you’re a Christian who is committed to the local church.
“Oh, my weekend was fine,” you can say. “I went to a party. I hung out with friends. I slept in on Saturday. Oh, and I went to church on Sunday. I go to church every Sunday and enjoy going. You should come sometime.”
Just be yourself. Don’t get weird. The goal is not manipulation. You’re not trying to trap them. Instead, you’re trying to intentionally, prayerfully, and tactfully invite them to church where they should hear the gospel preached.
You may not get to share the gospel with this question. At the very least, your co-workers will know that you’re a church-going folk, which could open up future evangelistic opportunities at some point. At the very best, they’ll take you up on your offer and will come to church with you.

Question #2: How Can I Pray for You?

I was once an evangelism intern at a church (yes, that’s a thing). One of my tasks that summer was to go door-to-door asking people if they needed prayer. Looking back on it, I’m not sure I saw much fruit from this. Nevertheless, interns do what they’re told, and so I went.
I met a guy who said that he had a big financial test coming up. I told him who I was, what I was doing, and asked if I could pray for him. I did. Some days later, he passed his test. He called me to thank me for praying for him and told me he was interested in coming to church. I don’t remember all the details of the story, but I think he actually came.
The Lord used my embarrassing, weak, pitiful effort to get someone to church where he likely heard the gospel and met some godly folk.
All you have to do is ask. Even the most secular people have a hard time saying “no” to free prayer.

Question #3: What do you believe?

At a wedding once I attempted to strike up an evangelistic conversation with a guy I met. I don’t remember everything I said, but I eventually told him I was in seminary and that I was training for ministry. Naturally, then, I asked him: “What do you believe?” He told me he was Catholic, which I respect because I grew up in a Catholic household.
But here is the bold, penetrating question I eventually asked: “What do you mean by that?”
I wanted to see if he even knew what he believed and why he believed it.
By asking this bold follow-up question, we were able to get to the core of what he believed. I think he eventually said, “I don’t know.”
The goal is not to make people feel bad. But the truth is, lots of people identify with a particular religion or claim a religious belief, but they don’t know why. They just say what their parents say. They just say something in the conversation that will prevent them from looking stupid. In a loving way, these unbelievers need to be shown their lostness and need for a Savior. Usually, this happens best in the context of an ongoing friendship.
You want to know what people believe and why they believe it. After you find out what they believe, you can build bridges to share the gospel with them.
I don’t think I shared the gospel with that guy, but I tried. And that’s the point: I actually tried and got somewhere, and the only thing I did was ask questions. You don’t need an MDiv, a church staff position, or a special title to ask evangelistic starter questions. Any Christian can do this. All you gotta do is ask.
I am by no means a good evangelist. I have seen some fruitfulness in the past, but often, I feel discouraged by my lack of effort. The good news is that the pressure is not on me (or you). The Spirit is the one who does the converting. He just invites us on the missional journey. Asking good questions is a good way to get on board.
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About David Qaoud

Thanks for reading! I'm David. And this is my personal blog. I'm a husband, writer, and MDiv student at Covenant Theological Seminary. Most importantly, however, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. Learn more>