In the Church but not of it…

Sometimes it is as if no matter where I go, I cannot cease to be in the world.

Duh.

Where else would I be? Now, certainly I could lock myself up in my house or my closet…maybe move to Phoenix, Arizona and be an ascetic (oh wait, people actually LIVE out there!), but for the most part I am going to be in the world. That is not the difficult part of the little cliche, “We are to be in the world, but not of it”.

Being in the world does not mean living ungodly, saying stupid things, mutilating your body, becoming a pragmatist, accepting the world’s standards, or any other such nonsense. It is not that difficult to be in the world, really, unless you are a complete hermit.

As Christians, we are not to be of the world. We are of Christ. All throughout Scripture we find two diametrically opposed views of the world: Christian, and Non-Christian. Read it for yourself and see. There is enmity between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s seed. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, fools despise it. You either hear Jesus or you are of the devil. The cross is wisdom and power or folly and weakness. You are saved from the wrath of God or you are condemned. There is no middle ground.

The sad thing I see happening in the best of churches and in Christian institutions is Christians rejecting the only standard we have to make sense out of anything, the Word of God. Now, I realize you are becoming bored reading this, for it is nothing new. There is nothing new under the sun, this is true. I am nevertheless shocked to hear the sorts of things which will follow coming from Christians who have been in the church for years and in some instances are leaders of large ministries and schools that are supposed to be orthodox.

Apologetics has been known to bring awful heresies into the Church in the past, and things are no different now from what I have observed. I am wearied by poor apologists, who will not simply give the Word of God its place.

For example, I listened to one discussion between the head of a Christian school and an atheist organization. The minister started the discussion with the idea that it is possible God does not exist and that it is possible that the Bible is not God’s Word.

Just think about that for a moment. Guess what? It gets much worse.

He called this “common ground”. Now, if you share “ground” in “common” with someone, then I would presume you are both on it, that there is something there which both parties believe. Is that not what the analogy is intended to convey? So what was the “common ground”? It was that the Bible is not inerrant. How can it be common to both parties if this man believes differently? This makes no sense!

Now I brought this to the attention of a student of this man. The replies I received almost knocked me out of my chair.

“But, you also cannot assume that a non-believer is going to use a believer’s text to believe.”

“You cannot use Christian ideas to persuade an Atheist to become or at least even see logic in being Christian. You have to use Atheistic ideas to show them how there is a possibility that there can be a God.”

“The problem comes when trying to get others to believe your beliefs.”

“You cannot get someone to see your viewpoint on an issue using your viewpoint on the issue.”

“[W]hen approaching a person that does not even believe that God exists, it would be ludicrous to present Scripture to them because it would be only words and no meaning.”

“Not everyone consciously realizes that God exists.”

“I just do not see how it is effective when the person does not believe that it is inerrant. It is hard for a person who does not consciously believe in God to believe that the Bible is His inspired Word.”

Are there alarms going off in your head? There should be. I read this sort of stuff and pray, “Oh God, what have we done? Who are we? Forgive us!”

We have left the Word of God and inserted our own. If the very Word of God cannot convince or persuade someone to become a Christian, then what can the poor words of other human beings do? What foolish thinking! I am not proposing that we become like the Mormons, telling people to only believe for the sake of believing, or that we should not have an apologetic. What I am proposing is that our “apologetic” has become an obstacle to the very things we seek to defend!

Read the Word of God Christians, and believe it!

It is not ineffective:

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4.12)

It is not ridiculous to present it to the unbeliever. Even when Paul was on Mars Hill speaking to the atheistic philosophers he used Scripture:

The God that made the world and all thing therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth…giveth to all life, and breath, and all things. (Acts 17:24, 25)

He was paraphrasing the following passage from the Old Testament:

Thus saith God Jehovah, he that created the heavens and stretched them forth; he that spread abroad the earth and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it…(Isaiah 42:5).

There are no true atheists, people who do not believe in God:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is *plain to them*, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been *clearly perceived*, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are *without excuse*. 21For although *they knew God*, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. (Romans 1.18-23)

Plain to them

Clearly perceived

So much that they are

Without excuse

They knew God

Scripture is clear. Our common ground is not the teaching of the world! We are not to be of the world, though in it we must be. Our common ground is that this world, not the system run by Satan, but the physical creation, is God’s, and so are we. We are created in His image, all of us. This is our “common ground” with the unbeliever. There is no other. We have His powerful Word, which is true and loud and clear. Use it.

May we not make the mistake of letting those who are not of Christ pollute our thinking with theirs, whether it be in our thinking about the Word of God or anything else.


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