“The Mighty Weakness of John Knox”

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Last week at our church, we had a Reformation Conference and Douglas Bond was the teacher. The lectures were very informative and edifying, especially when he spoke about the French Reformers (like the Huguenots). I hope to have him (Lord willing) appear our podcast in the near future to discuss the French Reformers. Pray for that.

It was in the course of that evening that I came across The Mighty Weakness of John Knox written by Bond, edited by Steve Lawson. If there was ever a stack of small books that should encourage your soul concerning the common weakness we all face, and how God’s grace empowers us despite those weaknesses, this should be in the top 5! This book takes the overly divine view we tend to have about our heroes in the faith, specifically here John Knox, and humanizes him in order to highlight the God of John Knox. One of the statements made about John Knox was made by a fellow minister, Thomas Smeaton, who said: “I know not if God ever place a more godly and great spirit in a body so little and frail” (pg 24).  And even though some may portray Knox’s greatest moments in preaching against Roman Catholicism, the fact of the matter is, he was often scared, timid, and even left a room in tears when first called upon to preach. But yet, God inflamed such man to passionately love the glory of God, the salvation of souls, and hate idolatry more than seek to preserve his own life.

Although Knox was a zealous preacher and a thunderous figure, he had many struggles in his lifetime that squeezed the fruitful juices of God’s Spirit out of him. He was targeted by the Roman church, escaped several assassination attempts, lost his wife, was often without sleep, and constantly criticized for his zealous approach to name a few things. But yet, he was a loving shepherd to his people, a minister to the poor, humble prayer warrior, and a fearless preacher when the time came. In reading this book, it seemed obvious to me that many of us, who are often more ready to make excuses about why we can’t be faithful in the most common ways to God, who go on and on about our weakness, would resonate much with Knox. He was but a broken vessel in the hands of his Master.

I benefited tremendously reading about Knox’s weaknesses and how God loves to use men and women who are intimately familiar with their own failings. As Bond stated:

“Knox’s preaching ministry was a microcosm of the mysteries of God’s providence. God called a timid man who trembled in his boots at the thought of preaching and who ran from the room in tears when first called upon to do so. When a man feels in his own strength that he can do something, he tends to not cry out to God in prayer to enable him to do it. He believes he is already capable, so he sees no need to depend on God’s strength. but this was not Knox the preacher. Knox, who never completed seminary, knew that if he was to fulfill his calling as a preacher, he desperately needed God’s power. Weak in terms of physical strength, he turned from himself to find vigor that only comes from God” (pg 65-66) (italics mine)

This information should encourage every home-school mom, deacon, teacher, factory worker, professor, pastor, missionary, widow, single person, public school child, etc., to timidly but ferociously look to God for grace and strength when struggling against ourselves to be faithful witnesses in the world. And to fight our battles on our knees as Knox did, and to trust in the sovereign mercy of Christ to sustain and preserve us even when we are in the midst of what seems to be a losing battle. It is hard to feel in our own person the things that Knox personally faced since we are so far removed from that time frame in history. But the one thing that will always unite us all is that he, like us, needed God’s sustaining mercy in order to be faithful in his day. Who are we to think that God’s hand is too small to sustain such a weak man such as Knox, and yet not do the same for us?

Get your copy of The Mighty Weakness of John Knox and may God heartily encourage you, embolden you, and revive you as you celebrate the God of the Reformation.

-Until we go home

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Every Christian Believes Election

Not everyone consciously affirms the doctrine of election. The reasons for this vary and are definitely outside the scope of this particular article. But whether you don’t like it, don’t agree with it, or are simply neutral about it for the time being, predestination and election are concepts in Scripture that every believer will be confronted with. Even if you choose not to deal with it, the unbelieving world still has heard about it, learned it when they were in church as a kid, and/or logically deduces it through the knowledge that God knew before hand that man would fall, and yet still created us. So even if we bury our head in the sand and ignore this, the world will not let us. And, if we have faithful pastors and brethren in Christ who challenge, edify, and provoke us in godliness through the word of God, they won’t let us ignore this topic either.

Although you may hold to a more unique position concerning predestination and election, you will probably sympathize with one of these two views:

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A Christian’s Duty Through The Heralds of Ancient Greece

Whether a elder in the pulpit, a preacher on the street, or a believer seeking to be a faithful witness, we can all glean from this.

In Ancient Greece, heralds had a specific role in the culture with a specific reputation. It is that reputation that I am going to use as illustrative examples  concerning a believer’s/preacher’s duty to spread the gospel. Although we know that the Bible is sufficient for life and godliness, still, illustrations are a powerful tool to help nail the truths deeper into our mind and make plain what is simply less memorable to some. With that said, here are some points that will help us reaffirm our calling as ambassadors and heralds of the gospel. Once again, these points are purely illustrative, not expository. But they nevertheless communicate biblical truth.

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Not Everyone Can Be The Mouth

This article contains an excerpt that was taking from my book, Apocity: The Greatest Omission which can now be downloaded for free.

This portion of the book is emphasizing the true meaning behind 1 Corinthians 12, and how this passage cannot be used as means to say that  evangelism is the “mouth” of the body, and therefore, seeing that we have differing roles/gifts, not everyone can be the mouth. Sadly, there are variations to this excuse.


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The idea that not everyone can be a consistent witness because they are not “the mouth” is also wrongly pulled out of 1 Corinthians 12. I have actually heard men (more often pastors and teachers within the congregation) say “not everyone can be the mouth.” In other words, we are not all gifted with the gift of evangelism, and the mouth is the metaphor they use to describe those that do have it. Once again, this is urban legend, and I will clear up this confusion.

When you look at 1 Corinthians 12, right from the get go, in verse 1 Paul clearly says, “now concerning spiritual gifts.” This is a good clue that Paul is about to clarify some things for the Corinthian church. This issue with spiritual gifts and the divisions within the church was one of the reasons Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in the first place. In verse 4 he mentions how there are “diversities of the gifts” that come from the same Spirit. Verse 11 reveals how the Spirit passes out gifts as He wills (This challenges those who think that you have to speak in tongues as proof that you have received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. See Chapter 5). Then, in verse 12, Paul begins to emphasize the unity of the body not only because we are all partakers of His Spirit through salvation (v13), but also because of how the diversity of the members affect the unity of that body. In other words, Paul is trying to give us an illustration that even though there are different gifts within the body of Christ, these divisions of gifts do not mean we are divided as a body. We are unified together by the Spirit, who distributes these gifts, and one gift is not more important than the other in the grand plan of the Church. Are you following? If not, this next part may be harder for you to grasp.

When you look at the metaphor that Paul uses for the body, he repeatedly gives us clues as to what he is trying to get across to the Corinthian church. In verse 15 he says, “If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body” (Emphasis added). He asks the same questions concerning another body part in verse 16. Verse 21 he says, “And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you;’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” Once again, Paul seems to be hinting at something here, and in verse 22 he gets to his point: “… those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” So basically Paul is trying to say that every member of the body is “necessary” no matter what gift, no matter what background (v13), and no matter how weak one seems to be (v23-24). Paul has said all this so that we realize that everyone within the body should need one another and that we should benefit from each other’s gifts, strengths, weakness, and backgrounds (v25). I might have been very general with my exegesis of this text but my purpose is not to get to the small details (that would be a whole other chapter), but to make some observations that I believe will squash this idea that evangelism is a gift, specifically here, “the mouth.”

If you are one to believe that not everyone can be the mouth (insinuating the mouth being a spiritual gift), or you have heard this from someone and think it is a valid statement, then here are some points to consider. 1) Where in this chapter does it specifically mention evangelism? The urban legend that evangelism is a gift still applies here too, not just Ephesians 4. Also, if you are saying that not everyone
can be the mouth, then you have to show me from 1 Corinthians 12 how believing this is in any way a “get out of witnessing free” card, because that is not Paul’s intent in this particular chapter of Corinthians. 2) Paul did not mean for this chapter to be used as a cop out to not preach the gospel. If you remember what I said in the previous paragraph, Paul’s main concern was unity. There seemed to be divisions in the church for various reasons, and the insinuation that Paul gives in numerous verses is that some believed that there were others that were not needed, or that they were not a part of the body because they seemed weaker or less honorable. There might be more background to this, but the main point is that Paul was more specifically targeting the need for everyone within the body and for every spiritual gift, rather than just emphasizing certain ones over the other. 3) Where does “not being the mouth” come into this metaphor? If you read this chapter carefully, when Paul used the metaphor of the body it wasn’t for us to figure out which body part we are (or think we are), it was to help us understand the importance of unity within a human body and relate that to the body of Christ. This was his main point! It is so absurd when I hear people call this person a foot, or that person the hand, or evangelism the mouth. This is not what Paul is saying! 4) When was the last time you did something without all body parts involved? If evangelism is the mouth, does that mean I don’t use my hands or my feet to preach? The Bible talks about feet being beautiful for preaching the gospel (Romans 10:15), so does this mean not everyone can be the feet either? Do I need someone who is the arms carry me to my corner to pass out tracts because I am not gifted in doing it myself? I am being very caustic for a reason. I have become so sorrowfully burdened about these vain attempts to explain away our responsibility to preach that it has caused me great spiritual distress to see professing believers continually making urban legends, like not being a mouth, a popular excuse. The nature of these excuses call into question the salvation of many who call themselves believers (a topic we will explore in the next chapter).

I can understand that there are persons within the body who are skilled in certain areas in which others are not. For instance, there are men and women who fly missionaries to their destination for the glory of God. These saints risk their lives to fly over dangerous areas to do  amazing things for God. Here is my question though: Just because they metaphorically can be the arms that carry missionaries where they need to go, does that remove their responsibility to preach to the lost themselves? Just because my primary job is “an arm” (I don’t actually believe that, just proving a point) does that mean I don’t have a mouth? If anything, anyone who is supporting evangelism efforts would see the importance of evangelism and would feel the obligation to preach themselves. This example goes for those who mow lawns for the church, who do the finances, those who usher, teenagers in youth group, deacons, pastors, and the list goes on! Your primary duty within the local church includes evangelism. Evangelism is not a secondary duty; it is the indivisible infrastructure of your calling as a Christian!

At this point, I feel it is necessary to say this. As I previously said in Chapter 2, I understand that the roles that God has given within the local church are for us to be perfected and conform to the image of Christ. I am not blind to the reality of our weakness, nor do I think that each person’s gifting is unimportant. I know that pastors have a part, deacons, leaders, congregations, members, etc.; all play an important part in the whole of the universal church of Christ. What the revelation of Scripture seems to imply, however, is that none of that infringes upon our call to be faithful in our witness. None of it! There is no such gift of evangelism and there are no Scriptures that we can use to justify this position. If we refuse to accept this reality, then gross apocity among many local churches will continue. And I do not know about how you, reader, may feel about it, but I think God is weary of it.

 

-Until we go home

Is Your Wife Your First Ministry?

I holistically support men who support their families. Men who make discipleship and love a priority for the home. The home is one of the central building blocks for a society, and the marriage is the sun by which everything in the home orbits. Having said this, there are many priorities that pastors, open air preachers, and everyday christian men have that may sometimes burden us. We can become anxious, stressed, and overwhelmed with the multiple obligations that we are to tend to. And yes, wives are included in this list of feelings. And the one thing that is not helpful are Christian cliches like, “Your wife is your first ministry.” It has a nice ring to it, and for the most part it is well meaning, but it does not properly convey the responsibilities and obligations a Christian may face on a day to day basis. It has also been abused by certain preachers that wish to exclude certain men from ministry.

I have attached a blogtalk episode that I and a pastor friend of mine recorded about this topic. My hope is that we would all take into consideration the biblical model of men not just in ministry, but just being men in general. Here is the narrative and link of the episode below.

“On this exciting episode of G220 radio, George will be joined by Pastor Tom Shuck from Pilgrim Bible Church. Pastor Shuck is a graduate of Master’s Seminary and Columbia Evangelical Seminary and was a missionary to India for 12 years. He holds both a Masters of Divinity (MDiv.) and a Doctorate of Ministry (DMin.). He has been a pastor of Pilgrim Bible Church for 4 years and helped start a seminary in India as well as planted a church there. He enjoys sports, music, family trips, and George’s personal favorite, linguistics. He has evangelized in cities like Oakland, Orlando, Mumbai, Pune training believers how to evangelize, preach the gospel, and make disciples. His wife is Lisa Shuck and two children.”

“This episode we’ll explore the cliche “Your wife is your first ministry.” Is it Scriptural? Are there other primary biblical responsibilities? Can you make ministry your idol or mistress? What should a man who is called to preach do with this kind of cliche? What about missionaries and evangelists of old that we look up to that sacrificed much, even their marriages, for the gospel? What about Matthew 22:35-40, 1 Corinthians 7:32-34, Ephesians 5:22-33, and 1 Timothy 3:5?”

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/g220radionetwork/2016/05/10/ep-157-is-your-wife-your-first-ministry

-Until we go home

 

He Does Too

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When you’re feeling lonely, remember, he does too.

When you’re feeling depressed, remember, he does too.

When you’re feeling your inadequacies, remember, he does too.

When you get unjustly angry, remember, he has too.

When you get convicted for mistreating your wife, remember, he has too.

When you feel like you’ve failed your children, though doing your best, remember, he has too.

When you make a serious mistake, remember, he will too.

When you forget something important, remember, he will too.

When you fail to be graceful, remember, he will too.

And on Sunday, when you see him stepping up to the pulpit, thunderously teaching and preaching about sin, the gospel, and how he desperately needs God and His grace, just remember, you do too.

Pray for your pastor.

-Until we go home

Make Disciples, Not Converts? Really?

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Cliches are normal in any language. Sometimes they are able to capture a snippet of thought accurately, other times they muddy the waters of theological judgment. Of course, the impact of any cliche is purely subjective, but it seems that western Christianity is full of cliches that are just not biblically supported. Obviously from the title, you know which one I have in mind so I won’t waste time getting to the point. Continue reading

A Devastating Question for Lifestyle Evangelists

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If you have followed any site that affirms gospel-centered theology, you have already run across mounds upon mounds of reasons why lifestyle evangelism is unbiblical. We’ve expounded, extrapolated, and exegeted this to death in order to reveal why trying to win souls by simply just living your life before the unsaved is plainly unbiblical. But the one thing we have failed to do is teach how to engage a person that believes we should simply let our good works shine before men, and then be ready to give an answer for the reason of the hope that lies within you when they ask you.

I like to keep the target of an article directly in my gaze. Continue reading