While wrapping up this study of Acts and Apologetics, I am needing to tie up a few loose ends. Maybe not for you, but for myself.
Over the years of being a Christian I have been intrigued by the intellectual arguments and discussions of Apologetics. People like Ravi Zacharias and R. C. Sproul and John McArthur have tantalized my mind and therefore my thinking because of their eloquence and command of language skills. Not only do these men speak well, but they are all well read; they know their stuff. They are the kind of teacher at whose feet you sit and think, "I am in the presence of greatness."
But I don't believe they would think that for one minute.
And so I sit and ponder, "so what's the point Ron? What has got you so wrapped up in this whole Apologetics thing?"
As God has given me the opportunity to return to teaching adult Sunday school in my local church, He has given me the opportunity to expand my mind in study. Study of the Church and its influence on society and history. Study of Doctrine and the depths of our wonderful Faith. Study of Grace and its absolute necessity to life and living and knowing the Mind and Heart of God. Even a Study on How to Study the Bible. I'll be honest in that I have loved doing all of this sometimes for the challenge of putting a "good" study together.
There have been weeks where I stood in front of my peers with lesson notes in hand (the same ones offered here) and I believe I've prepared well but something was missing. There have been other times when I felt that the preparation was mediocre and when I opened my mouth, God was the One who put the words there; I had had nothing to do with the lesson. There were some weeks - not enough of them - when God spoke a Truth through one of the class members that smote me to the core. There were weeks when I felt like our whole class was sitting at God's footstool, not because of my or my partner's preparation, but because through the entire class God "pulled back the veil" and exposed a bit of Himself for a few moments and we were all ground to a pulp.
Tonight as I write these words I am being ground again. It's almost like the Holy Spirit is in my head and heart. He's not asking, "what next?" He is asking me, "do you love Me?" I feel like Peter being grilled by Jesus when he is asked "do you love Me?" three times. Peter answers "yes" at each moment and the Lord is just making sure that this beloved disciple, soon to be an apostle, gets the real meaning of what the Savior asks (John 21:15 - 19).
Through all of these studies, through all of the time spent in various books and study guides and materials, I have gained much knowledge about the topics at hand. But now as this study of Apologetics is put to bed, I am again crushed by God. I am crushed because He has reminded me that it's not about the study. It's not about the topic or the knowledge gained. It's not about constructing a good or worthy apologetic that "destroys" an unbeliever's folly. It is about making sure that my Bible is being opened every single day, out of love, and spending time in prayer with my Creator. In short, it IS about God.
Everything is ALL about God. No matter what, it's all about Him. Do I - do you - love God with all of my body, soul, heart and mind? Do I - do you - love God so much that all else is rubbish?
Secondarily - a really close second - do I love the people that God has placed in my sphere of influence so much that I am compelled to "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have." And beyond that to do it with "gentleness and respect." (1 Peter 3:15).
Will I hide in my study with my books and Bible and laptop, learning all there is to know about God? Or will I rend my heart and mind and begin to allow Him to have control over all of my thoughts, words and deeds? For me, that's where the rubber meets the road. If I am willing to allow God that access, then I am in for a radical change. God will either use me willingly or I will force Him out and not take part in what He wants to accomplish.
As I look at my mentors, Paul, Peter, Piper, Zacharias, Sproul, McArthur, Borgman, McIntyre, Roy, Craddock, Driver, Matthews, Sampson and many others, I realize that the most important thing that all of these men have are actually two things that I often lack. An unbridled zeal for God coupled with a zeal for the unsaved. These men (and women too) are passionate for the Savior as well as compassionate for the people around them. They love God so much that they want to make sure that as many people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ as is possible in the limited time that God has given them.
So in closing I ask you, and please think about this, why are you studying God's Word or Apologetics or Doctrine? If it's for the purpose of being smart or gaining enough head knowledge to win a debate against an atheist, so what? You will have gained NOTHING. But if it's for the purpose of knowing God better or for the purpose of walking closer with your Creator, you are stepping in the right direction. If it's for the purpose of wanting to be used by God in the work of winning souls and a great harvest, then I think He has your attention.
We live in challenging, yet exciting times. God wants to use all of His children, everyday for great things. He is planning and preparing a great Harvest and wants all of us to participate.
Thank you for your time and be a blessing.
You may return to the Apologetics study by clicking here.
|The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog
By James W. Sire / IVP Academic
For more than thirty years, The Universe Next Door has set the standard for a clear, readable introduction to worldviews. In this new fifth edition, James Sire offers additional student-friendly features to his concise, easily understood introductions to theism, deism, naturalism, Marxism, nihilism, existentialism, Eastern monism, New Age philosophy and postmodernism. Included in this expanded format are a new chapter on Islam and informative sidebars throughout.
The Universe Next Door has been translated into over a dozen languages and has been used as a text at over one hundred colleges and universities in courses ranging from apologetics and world religions to history and English literature.
|Every Thought Captive
By Richard Pratt / P & R Publishing
In down-to-earth language Richard L. Pratt, Jr., has given us this helpful study manual on apologetics, the task of defending the faith. Far from a theoretical exposition, this training manual teaches how to answer nonbelievers and to "take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." Pratt shows how the biblical doctrines about humanity and our relationship to our Creator determine how we should do apologetics. Within this theological framework he examines the premises, attitudes, and specific steps involved in a genuinely biblical defense of Christianity. Illustrations and review questions help to make this a valuable tool for individual or group study.