“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The faithful preacher promotes Jesus. The godly minister builds a following for Jesus. He who lives to glorify God sets aside his own importance, his own comfort and his own fame for the exaltation of Jesus. The man of God is proud of one thing, the work Jesus has done. A godly preacher does not draw people to himself, he points people to Christ. He does not speak things calculated to appeal to the masses, he speaks things known to be pleasing to God.
These qualities characterize the genuine servant of God. The godly preacher, teacher and Christian boasts in Jesus. He lifts up Jesus as most important. He points others to Jesus. His life and ministry is all about the exaltation of Jesus. The faithful minister loves Jesus most. He speaks those things which lift up the glory of Jesus for all to see.
The Godly minister loves others. He proclaims the truth of the gospel. Jesus is the only means of salvation. The Christian who truly loves others desires for them to know that which is good for them. A false message of salvation may appeal to many people, may make people feel good, may comfort the pangs of conscience and soothe the sorrows of life. What good is that? What good is it to offer some one comfort for their journey to hell? What good is it to make more pleasant the road to eternal torment? Is not such kindness the vilest cruelty? Is that not the most malicious kind of misanthropic villainy? What cruel person loves himself so much he will do anything, even further the damnation of souls, for a brief fame?
Those who truly love others will proclaim the gospel. They will be like good doctors who recognize the best way to health often requires words and treatments that are unpleasant. Christians must be good soul-physicians who seek to lead the lost to the only cure for their the eternal ailment.
The only way for any man to have eternal life is through Jesus. Keeping the law will not save. Not keeping the law will not save. Being religious or “none”, showing devotion or indifference, doing good or evil, embracing one’s identity or denying self will not save. Nothing will save but Jesus. Only the gospel tells how the broken can be healed. The Christian who loves others will proclaim the truth of full salvation through faith in Jesus.
Only Jesus saves because only Jesus accomplishes an entire change in the person. The self-righteous man does not understand this. All false religions fail to recognize this. Most people do not want to hear this. The unpleasant truth that must be spoken is every person is guilty and cannot pardon himself. The forgivness of guilt is not earned by being a better you. The only solution to guilt is found in being made new. Only Jesus can make sinful man a new creature.
Only through Jesus can the heart that was full of sin be washed clean, set apart to God and made righteous before God. This is the message of salvation. This is what a loving Christian will communicate to the unsaved.
The Bible is authoritative in all Christian religions. Jesus taught His followers to search the Scriptures because they teach of eternal life. (John 5:39) The Bible claims to be the Word of God, inspired by God and transmitted through holy men. If the Bible’s claims are true then it is the only way by which men will receive the knowledge that brings salvation.
The nature of the Bible is of the highest importance. The Bible specifically claims to be inspired by God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed”. What does this mean? How inspiration is defined affects how one sees the Bible as the Word of God. The nature of inspiration directly impacts the nature of the Bible.
As it is commonly used inspiration describes the process of stirring a person to an action, decision or expression. A sunset inspires someone to write a song. Love inspires a man to write a poem for his wife. The courage of another inspires a young lady to aspire to great things. This understanding of inspiration is not what is meant by the statement, “the Bible is inspired by God.”
The authors of the Bible were not moved by their contemplation of God to pen great spiritual truths.The greatness of God did not motivate certain men to the highest form of theological self-expression.
The Biblical teaching of inspiration is summed up in 2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” God directed men to write His Word. The words of the Bible are the words of God written through the instrument of Godly men. The nature of inspiriation is such that the Bible can accurately be described as the words of men and as the Word of God.
For example, the words of the Psalms are David’s and God’s. Acts 1:16 says exactly this. “This Scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake.” David knew the Holy Spirit was speaking through Him. His last words to Israel are recorded in 2 Samuel 23, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by men, His word was in my tongue.”
Biblical inspiration does not mean the authors of the Bible acted as robots who mechanically recorded what God dictated. Biblical inspiration teaches that God used the character, personality, ability and intellect of each author to pen His Words. God worked through the mind of men, but the Bible is not limited to what the men could have known. God revealed truth to His messengers. Whether they wrote prophecy, history or the nature of humanity the Biblical authors words are accurate and untainted by error.
Though the Bible was written by men in the unique style of each man every single word of the Bible is exactly what God wanted written. God did not inspire general concepts and leave the authors to express them as best they could. God worked in the prophets and apostles so they wrote exactly what He wanted. Every word of the Word of God is of God.
The key truth of the doctrine of inspiration is this: everything in the Bible is from God. Though the books are clearly written by individuals every part, every word, every line, every sentence, every paragraph and every book is God’s perfect Word written down by men under the control of the Holy Spirit.
Good works a primary duty of the Christian life. Ephesians 2:8-10 describes the relationship of good works to salvation. No one is saved by works. “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, it is the gift of God. Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Salvation does not come from good works. Good works come from salvation. The saved are saved to do good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Before you were ever saved God determined that you and every other beleiver would be saved to do good works. His eternal plan was for you to do good for others.
The good works Christians do will be graciously reward by God. 1 Corinthians 15:58 instructs believers to be “abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” Hebrews 6:10 says, “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His name.”
As you invest yourself in the work of the ministry sometimes it seems long, sometimes it seems tedious, sometimes it seems fruitless. Never forget there is always a reward. The Christian’s reward does not on the vine. The Christian’s reward is not stolen away. The Christian’s reward is certain. It is eternal. It is stored up in heaven waiting for you.
Your labor is not in vain. Though men may not see or remember the work you do for God’s people, God will always see. He will always remember. God values the Christian’s service highly. Jesus told His disciples that if any one gave them a cup of water- basic, mundane and trivial service- in His name that person would not lose his reward. If you serve other Christian’s in Christ’s name because of your position together in Christ, God will not overlook that service. Even the most trivial, unimportant, mundane thing that you do will be rewarded by God. Do good.
As you invest your resources, time and energy in the work of the Lord, remember God will not be mocked. His principles cannot be scorned and ignored. A gardener who plants tomato seeds will only get tomatoes. In the spiritual realm a Christian will only reap what is sown. If you spend yourself on the things of the flesh, satisfying the desires of your flesh and seeking self-promotion you will never reap spiritual fruit. If the seeds you plant are fleshly, the fruit you reap will be the fleshly fruit of destruction and condemnation.
If the seeds you plant are of the Holy Spirit, then the fruit you reap will be spiritual. If you give your energy to the things of God you will reap things that are eternal. If you live a life under the control of the Holy Spirit- walking in the Spirit- then you will reap the eternal. You will reap eternal life, eternal good and eternal joy. You will reap what you sow.
This is a sober warning, but the words of Galatians 6:9 are an encouragement. Because you will reap what you sow, don’t be weary in doing good. If you get discouraged and disheartened in doing good you will find a reason to quit. You will start looking for a way out. Do not be exhausted by good works. Do not be downcast because of an apparent lack of fruit. Do not be despondent because of a seeming lack of reward for your labor. You will reap in the proper time. Keep working, the harvest is coming.
Because the harvest is coming take every available opportunity to do good to men. Stop and help. Give when you are able. Serve when the need arises. Do good to all men.
The nation of Israel was notorious adept at returning to idolatry. For nearly 900 years, from a few decades after the death of Joshua to the time they were taken captive by Babylon, the Jews waffled between God and idols. The nation would sort of repent for a while but a few decades later would be back worshiping idols.
The New Testament reveals a growing church encroaching deep into the idol worshiping nations of the Roman Empire. The church and idol worship frequently met head on. The success of the gospel in the first century had a profound impact on ancient paganism. As Christianity spread across Europe idol worship was pushed into the background. Despite the effect of Christianity upon the world idolatry is not a problem relegated to ancient history or third world primitives. Modern people are as abundant in idolatry as any ancient pantheist.
Idolatry comes in many forms. The tribesman bowing before a wooden statue to pray for fertile crops is only the most obvious form of idolatry. Idolatry is not limited to a religious act of worship. Idolatry takes place, indeed, idolatry begins in the heart. (Ezekiel 14:1-5)
Idolatry desires and loves anything more than God. The New Testament shows the relationship of idolatry to desire by equating covetousness with idolatry. (Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5) The Old Testament shows the relationship of love to idolatry. In the book of Deuteronomy loving God is set in opposition to idolatry. (Deuteronomy 30:16-17) Loving God is the solution to idolatry and the antithesis of idolatry. Thus, idolatry is found when a desire or a love is elevated over the desire and love for God.
Because an idol is something desired or loved more than God the presence of an idol can be discerned by the value a person places on a desire. If the possession of something is more important than close fellowship with God then that thing is an idol. A person who sins to achieve his desire shows the desire to be more important than God. He who sins because the accomplishment of his desires was not achieved shows the desire to be more important than God. The desire is an idol.
Idols are not only the desire but also the thing relied on to achieve the desire. He who desires power makes an idol of work because he sees it as the means to achieve that desire. This is nothing new. Idols have long been worshiped in hopes of achieving a desired end. Very few worship an idol for the sake of the god itself. The ancient Canaanites did not love Baal for Baal’s sake. They worshiped Baal in hopes he would increase their crops and give them many children. Their idol was the means to achieve their desire. Today’s idolatry is no different. The gods of modernity are the means a person relies upon to gain that which he desires most.
Idolatry is seen at rock concerts. Thousands of people scream out their adoration in hopes of sharing the experience, receiving affirmation or finding joy for a little while. Idolatry is seen at the youth hockey game when a group of angry dads scream profanities at the referee because his bad call hindered their desire for vicarious success. Idolatry is seen in the living room when an entire wall of the house is devoted to entertainment and filled with thousands of dollars worth of the latest gear in hopes it will bring the desired happiness and peace. Idolatry is seen in the kitchen when a distressed mother flees to the freezer for the comfort that can only be found in a box of ice cream. Idolatry looks to created things as the means to bring that which the person desires most.
Enjoyment of a good thing is not necessarily idolatry. God has given man good things for his enjoyment. Idolatry makes the good gifts of God the end in themselves. Idolatry trust the good things to satisfy the desires of the human heart.
Unlike ancient idol worshipers, Christians should worship God because He is worthy of worship. God is not a means to an end. He is the end itself. He is truly lovely. In Him is found all that man desires. Idolatry replaces joy in God with a paralytic substitute that is unable to accomplish what it promises. The solution to idolatry is to be enchanted by the glory of God.
“And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” (1 John 5:18-21)
I’ve built walls,
a fortress, steep and mighty
that none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship.
Friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock. I am an island.
I have my books
and my poetry to protect me.
I am shielded in my armor
hiding in my room safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock. I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain. And an island never cries.
The sentiments of that Simon and Garfunkel song are a tragic folly. The last line laments the hopelessness of one who imagines himself to be beyond pain because he has cut himself off from relationships. An isolated life is one of despair.
The isolated Christian life is desolate. The Christian cannot live apart from other believers because of who he is in Christ. At salvation the believer is joined with Christ. Christ is in the Christian and the Christian is in Christ. This unatterable union is the fountainhead of all Christian growth.
The Christian’s union with Christ brings him into union with other believers. He is baptized into the body of Christ, adopted into the family of God and made a living stone in the temple of God. He is one of a band of pilgrims traveling together to that city whose builder and maker is God. The Christian life was never intended to be a lone journey. One man against all the odds may make a good story, but it makes terrible Christianity. The overwhelming assumption of the New Testament is that every Christian will be a part of a church, helping and being helped by Christians who love him nearly as much as they love God. The Christian who isolates himself from relationships within a local church is going to be as fruitful as a rock and as vigorous as an island.
Tiglathpileser was king of Assyria. He expanded the Assyrian empire and conquered large portions of Israel.
Ahaz was king of Judah. He was not faithful to God. He worshiped idols and placed his trust in the king of Assyria. When Syria and Israel allied themselves together against Judah Ahaz called Tiglathpileser for help. Tiglathpileser attacked Damascus, defeated the city and subjugated what was left of Syria.
After Damascus was conquered the lesser kings of the region, including Ahaz, came to Damascus to pay tribute Tiglathpileser. While in Damascus Ahaz saw a huge altar that was much more impressive than the altar in Jerusalem. He sent a full description of the altar to Urijah the priest with instructions to build a copy in the temple.
When Ahaz returned to Jerusalem he went to the temple to see the altar he had commissioned. He instructed the priest to move the altar of God off to the side so the altar of Damascus could take its place. Ahaz then made his offerings to God in accordance with the levitical laws. He commanded the kings offerings and all the morning and evening sacrifices to be offered on the great altar. Ahaz kept God’s altar in the temple so he could seek direction from God.
For Ahaz religion was superstition. He thought all gods were the same. He believed the grandiosity of the altar showed the greatness of the god. He imagined the place, the beauty, the magnificence, and the grandeur all made worship better. What mattered most to Ahaz was the implements of worship. The god who seemed most impressive in Ahaz’s eyes was the one he valued most. He kept the altar to the God of Israel around just in case He was needed.
Obedience to God and the value of the One worshiped were lesser matters to Ahaz. He valued the splendor of the ceremony more than the glory of God. The Christian’s worship of God is awesome because the God Christians worship is awesome. Genuine worship of God is never improved by better buildings, professional performances, the latest technology or the newest innovations.
This does not mean the implements of worship do not matter. God only accepts those who come to Him in the way He has provided. God is not impressed with the opulence of the offering or the gleam of the place where offering is made. God is pleased by those who come to Him in obedience and holiness. The spotless lamb of the Old Testament was offered in a badger skin tent, in Solomon’s glorious temple, on an altar surrounded by the ruins of Jerusalem and in the rebuilt temple of post-captivity Jerusalem. These offerings were glorious and pleasing to God because they conformed to His will. God is most pleased when worship submits to His direction instead of the perceptions of the worshiper.
Worship is centered on God. We don’t need a massive golden altar to worship God. The worth of worship is never measured by the beauty of the place where worship is offered. The worth of worship is never measured by the size of the worshiping congregation. The worth of worship is measured by the worth of the One worshiped. God is worthy of the purest worship that views Him and His will as most important.
An online series called Ask Roger offered these words of advice a few weeks before Christmas. “One of the challenges facing pastors is how to be creative and do something special every year when Christmas rolls around.”
“Even if what they are hearing is the traditional message on a subject they are well-familiar with, worshipers want it fresh and relevant to their lives. They have a right to this. Therefore, pastors do well to stay attuned to incidents, news events, conversations, anything and everything happening around them, that could sharpen the impact of the upcoming sermon. A child’s off-the-wall comment or a slip-up from a celebrity or an item in today’s paper may trigger something in the minister’s mind to enhance the message.”
Few of Roger’s specific suggestions are bad. A pastor familiar with the things that resonate with his congregants will be better able to illustrate and apply to their lives the truths of the Bible. Though the above paragraph offers some good ideas that will aid the preacher the basic premise is an error almost two hundred years old. Charles Finney would be proud.
The assertion that God’s truth must be presented in a way the hearers recognize as fresh and relevant is stuff and nonsense. How is the incarnation of God the Son not relevant? Would news of the sun’s impending destruction need to be made relevant to people’s lives? Listeners have a right to hear the ancient truths presented in fresh ways? I wonder if Roger even understands the ministry of the pulpit.
The preaching of the Word of God is not a performance and it most certainly is not a form of entertainment. Church attenders are not ticket holders who are owed a presentation they should be able to walk away from feeling like they got their money’s worth.
The church gathers to hear the preaching of the Word of God because it is the Word of Life, sufficient for the Christian life and the overflowing toolbox from which the belilever is equipped to every good. The Word of God is that by which we are saved and that by which we grow. (1 Peter 1:23-2:3) The preaching of the Word is life to those who hear it. Should a glass of orange juice be exciting? Can one question the relevance of food to daily life? Should a a surgeon perform necessary surgery in a way that is fresh and exciting?
The preacher is not an entertainer. He is not a motivational speaker. He is not a cheerleader. He is not a politician offering a party platform to strengthen his base or motivate his constituency. The preacher is a servant. He is a servant of the church entrusted with care for the souls in the body of Christ. His service must equip believers to do the work of the ministry so the entire church will be built up into Christlikeness. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
The preacher is a servant of Christ. He is responsible to the chief shepherd for the wellfare of the body of Christ. He must the flock of God with the bread of life, not for his own gain but the eternal good of the congregants. He is a servant of the Word of God. The preacher is not a craftsmen of truth. He is a student of truth. He is an ambassador carrying a message from the King. (2 Corinthians 5:20) The ambassador is not entrusted with making the message more appealing. (1 Corinthians 2:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 2:3-7) The ambassador is entrusted with a message that he must faithfully repeat.
The duty of the preacher is spelled out in the New Testament. The preacher must give careful attention to read the word of God, to teach its truth and to apply the truth to the hearer. (1 Timothy 4:13) The preacher should be wise and skillful in the presentation of his truth. Poor delivery, poor content and poor word choice can hinder the process of communication. Attention should be given to the process of instruction so the hearer can best comprehend God’s incomprehensible truth. The preacher prepares with an eye to the congregation, but the congregation never drives the content. The Word always drives the message. The preachers aim is not maximum appeal and popularity, but maximum clarity and comprehensibility.
The hearer bored by the Word must look to his own heart. Instead of seeking a more entertaining presentation of the truth he should humble himself before Word of God and the God of the Word. Plead for a soft heart receptive to the greatness of the truths of the Word of God. When the Holy Spirit applies the truth of God’s Word, even if it be the old familiar truth of the entrance of God the Son into this world, God’s truth will be glorious, enchanting, mesmerizing, brilliant, beautiful, soul-stirring and life changing. Don’t expect the preacher to be an entertainer. Don’t expect new and fresh. If the preacher faithfully and accurately presents the truth of God’s Word, then he is doing his job. Those unmoved by the truth of God must not look for the problem in the pulpit but but in the pew.
We that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh. This is an event that has already occurred. The crucifixion of the flesh is a past event that continues to this day. The old man, the natural longings and desires of the sin nature, has been nailed to the cross.
Romans 6 says that the old man is crucified with Jesus. Just like the flesh of Jesus, the physical body, was put to death on that cross, so your flesh, your old nature, was put to death on Jesus’ cross. Because of that Romans 6 also says to count yourself as dead to sin and alive to God. Sin must not be allowed to control you but let God control you for righteousness. Romans 8 says those who are in Jesus have put to death the flesh because the death of Jesus on the cross delivers us from bondage to sin and death.
Colossians 3:5 commands the Christian to put to death your members that are on this earth. If the flesh is already crucified why do it have to put it to death again? Paul said in Galatians 5 that the flesh fights against the Spirit. There is a constant battle raging between the Holy Spirit and the old nature. How is this crucified flesh able to wage war in our souls? The old man seems to be a very lively corpse.
The tension that we feel between the fact the flesh is already crucified and the command to put to death the flesh is understood in the difference between position and experience.
The Christian’s position is certain. He is righteous in Christ. Yet the mature Christian doesn’t feel very righteous. The Christian is risen with Christ, but the daily routine doesn’t seem very heavenly. Likewise, the old man is dead, but we still feel the last dying kicks.
Have you ever butchered a chicken? Chickens are notorious for not realizing they are dead. They get up, flop around, run around, flap their wings and do everything they can in seeming effort to escape the death that has already fallen. The old man is a headless chicken flopping around in your soul. Christians still feel the raging of the flesh- the desires, the longings, the turmoil, the sin that is part of our fallen nature. Though we still feel the effect of our old nature, the flesh is dead in Christ.
The enemy has already been defeated. You are already righteous, you are already risen with Christ, you are already the child of God, you already have eternal life and you have already crucified the old nature. These realities are certain. They have been accomplished by Jesus. The unchangeable position of the Christian is the starting point for the Christian life.
Discouragement in daily living oftne comes because we focus the present experience. The present is more apparent to us than the heavenly. Viewing Christian growth from the perspective of the sins and failures you face will often result in frustration. Start with the certainty of who you are in Jesus. Start from that position of victory and then apply your position in Christ to your daily life.
You are fighting from victory, not for victory. The old man you are putting to death has already been crucified. You have nailed your old nature to Jesus’ cross. Do not live as if the old man is alive and well in your soul. He is defeated. Do not heed the dying squawks of that foul, decapitated fiend. Put the old man aside and live in the life that is already yours.
Another method remains for those not willing to do algebra. The simpler method is to assert that one plus one equal one zero. Two plus two can equal one zero zero or one one. This process can continue indefinitely as long as the adder is willing to change the base of the numeric system, preferably without telling his unsuspecting victim. Replacing the decimal system with the binary or trenary system(or as they are called now, Mod 2 and Mod 3) results in different answers. This trickery is just word games disguised as insight. Much like the modern identity crisis.
The current insanity that allows a person to profess a biological identity based on their present feelings is rooted in a worldview that believes the lies of flim-flam men peddling ideological snake oil. The present worldview is built on intellectual error, twisted definitions and philosophical sleight of hand. To preach the gospel in this age the Christian should have a basic understanding of the obstacles presented by the presuppositions of his audience.
Everyone has a worldview that has been shaped the culture’s prevailing worldview. A person’s worldview is the intellectual, emotional, philosophical and spiritual grid through which he filters all his perceptions. A worldview is the underlying set of assumptions that shape a person’s understanding of the world. Everyone has personal variations, anomalies and inconsistenicies in his wolrldview, but most people hold to one of three major worldviews.
The oldest of the three worldviews dominating American thought is modernism. The majority of the population today does not hold to a modern worldview, but modernism still shapes the conversation about truth and knowledge. Modernism believes truth is real, authoritative and can be found through an objective logical, rational or scientific process. Modernism claims truth is discovered. This mindset has not been entirely rejected. It can be found most easily in the scientific and rationalistic communities. Those born in America before the 1960’s grew up in a modernistic culture.
Following modernism is the aptly named postmodernism. This system rejects the absolute nature of truth in certain areas of thinking. Post-modernism cannot consistently relativize truth or it would reject all scientific conclusions including the law of gravity. Very few people are willing to go so far in their thinking. Postmodernism particularly rejects absolute truth in regard to morals, behavior and religion. According to postmodernism there is no overarching measure of truth and right. All statements of truth are contingent on perspective and situation. Postmodernism asserts that all truth is relative. Postmodernism rose in American in the 19060’s and now shares cultural dominance with its predecessor.
Following postmodernism is a worldview that has not yet been named. Some have called it critical realism (not to be confused with the philosophical approach known as critical realism) and others have called it post-postmodernism. It is a very individualistic form of critical relativism that declares truth is determined by the individual and is true for him alone. Truth is personal. Truth is not necessarily relative because what the person deems to be true is absolute and unquestionable as it applies to that person at that moment.
Determinations of truth are rooted personal feelings. This is not say that truth is emotional. Truth is not found by discovery, reason or circumstances. Truth is found in passion, longing and desire. The self-determination of truth occurs in the part of the human being which the Bible calls the affections. The person feels truth in his heart which then tells the mind and body what must be real. The identity debates are the logical outworking of this worldview. Gender is not relative or absolute. Gender is not based on biology, environment or personal history. Gender is based on the person’s present feeling about his identity.
This last worldview accepts other truth statement as true only as they apply to the individual making the truth claim. One can define his own gender but not another’s. All truth is accepted provided it is not imposed upon others. Truth has become a personal opinion without authority or imperative outside the person holding the view of truth. This worldview surged to the forefront of thinking during the 2000’s, and now millennial determinism seems poised to dominate culture for at least the next generation.
Besides being a fascinating synopsis of today’s dominant worldviews, what is the point? Understanding how the unsaved culture views truth helps protect the Christian against erroneous worldviews. The postmodernist needs to know truth is absolute. The millennial determinist needs to know truth is authoritative. The modernist needs to know truth is revealed.
Understanding the basic principles shaping the thinking of others helps the Christian communicate truth more clearly to the unsaved. Christians do not seek to understand the culture so they can then highlight those parts of the Bible which are most likely to appeal to the secular mind. Christians must understand the culture to communicate truth with maximum clarity to a culture ready to misconstrue the claims of the gospel.
Christians need to recognize the challenges and obstacles to the gospel present in contemporary mindsets. We can not gloss over those parts least likely to be believed. We do not seek unnecessary offense or controversy for controversies sake, but we must be more careful to be clear with those parts of the gospel likely to contradict popular opinion. Gospel truth must be presented with clarity and compassion. We seek to articulate the gospel in such a way that the truth will be rightly understood by those who hear us. The Christian’s desire is for the unsaved to believe the gospel, not what they think is the gospel.
The truth of God transcends culture, time, place and human opinion. His unchanging truth has been revealed to men through the Word of God. The Bible is powerful exposing the wickedness of men. The Holy Spirit works powerfully through the Word of God convicting and changing the heart of men. The gospel will always be the power of God unto salvation. Whether the prevailing mindset is ancient or modern, scientific or mystical, pagan or Christian, the truth of the gospel must be proclaimed clearly.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Love is a commitment to the benefit of others no matter the cost. It sacrificially and selflessly serves others for their gain. Love is the definitive trait of the child of God. Love fulfills all the law and motivates all obedience. Love is the first piece of the fruit of the Spirit out of which the rest grow.
Joy is contentment of heart that rejoices in God no matter the circumstances. Happiness is often fleeting because it depends on what is happening. Joy surpasses situation and explanation. “Ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory.” (1 Peter 1:8) Joy is not the absence of tears and sorrow. Joy can be found in great grief because it is a deep delight in God. Joy knows His character and promises are unchanged no matter the event. Joy rejoices in God in all of life’s seasons.
Peace is also in the knowledge of God and confidence in Him. Peace is quietness of soul that reigns in the heart and mind no matter what may be approaching. True joy is beyond description and true peace is beyond comprehension. “And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
Longsuffering is the patient endurance of wrongs done by others. The long-suffering one is far from anger no matter the carelessness or callousness of others. This is a relational fruit that endures the hurts inflicted by people. Longsuffering continues to seek the good of others while bearing injuries and insults from them.
Gentleness is an inward attitude that desires good for others. It is a heart of benevolence, a spirit of kindness, that genuinely seeks others benefit. Kindness is closely related to love in its real desire tod o good for others.
Goodness is the outward expression of kindness of heart. Kindness that remains locked inside the thoughts and feelings of the person is not complete. The Christian’s life and affection is not private. Christianity cannot remain within the walls of the heart, the home or the church. Christianity must be exercised in all places the Christian goes. Though none are saved by good works are who are saved are saved to do good works.
The Holy Spirit also produces faith in the Christian. The fruit of faith is not saving faith but living faith. This is the same faith which the book of Hebrews enjoins when it says, “The just shall live by faith.” (Hebrews 10:38) Faith is the confidence that God exists and rewards those who diligenlty seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) The fruit of faith is the conviction of the truth of God’s Word that responds in trustful obedience to the commands of God.
Meekness is a gentleness of demeanor rooted in humility. While many unsaved remain unruffled in the face of opposition, meekness exceeds mere stoicism. Meekness is built on a fundamental humility. The unflappable may hold his emotions in check, but the meek is truly unoffended by trouble. Meekness is not rash in troubling situations. The meek recognizes the hand of God at work through all situations and humbly submits to God’s good purposes.
The last piece of the fruit of the Spirit is temperance. This is self-control or, more accurately, Spirit control. Though the Christian still resides with his sin corrupted nature, the Holy Spirit actively works to restrain the Christian. God the Spirit dwells within the believer and holds back the evil passions of the old man.