Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category
Posted on July 28th, 2015 by Jonathan
You may have heard about the suicide bombing that killed 31 people in Turkey last week (Yahoo News). Those attacked were part of an activist group that had gathered to prepare an aid mission to the Syrian city of Kobane, just across the border from where they were in Suruc. The group’s aim was to help rebuild Kobane, war-torn after multiple advances from ISIS. Indicators suggest that the man who carried out the deadly attack had links to ISIS.
Such tragedies merit the attention of the Christian community as we seek to love our neighbors well. But the closing few lines of the Yahoo News article cited above, easy to gloss over, deserve our attention as well:
Suruc, once a centre of silk-making, is home to one of the biggest refugee camps in Turkey housing Syrians who have fled their country’s bloody four-year conflict.
The camp shelters about 35,000 refugees out of a total of more than 1.8 million refugees taken in by Turkey since 2011.
A steady exodus of refugees fleeing a four-year long civil war doesn’t naturally lend itself to headlines, but such numbers are alarming. We’ve talked before about the Syrian refugee crises, but let’s focus in on Turkey for a moment.
In large part due to the Syrian war, Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country in the world, the population still rising. There are over one million Syrians now in Turkey, and, as we’ve discussed, there are 18 unreached people groups in Syria. But this is a case of need on top of need, because, percentage-wise, Turkey is the least reached country in the world.
The weight of need in Turkey grows with each new refugee that’s registered there. Meanwhile, ISIS continues its advance along the Turkish border. Might it be that God is at work in the hearts of people there, using their sense of physical peril to open their eyes to the imperiled state of their eternal soul? In Acts 17, Paul says of the nations that God has “determined allotted periods and boundaries of their dwelling place that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him” (vv. 16-27). God is sovereignly orchestrating the migration of people groups that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Many of them are now in Turkey; who there will tell them what they’re looking for?
As Syrian refugees in Turkey lose their homes and their sense of safety, who will tell them of the divine comforter? As Turkish nationals anxiously peer into Syria, the rumblings the terror now at their doorstep, who will tell them about the reigning Prince of Peace? As ISIS militants visit the Turkish border, will they see anyone bearing witness to the God who is “just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:26)?
At the bottom of it all, the question is this: “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Rom 10:14)
Posted on July 28th, 2015 by David Burnette
You’ve probably seen the recent videos exposing the sale of body parts of aborted babies by Planned Parenthood, the world’s largest abortion provider. These undercover videos put out by The Center for Medical Progress offer a disturbing, yet vivid reminder of the evil of abortion.
Because the two major political parties in the U.S. are typically on different sides of the abortion issue, it’s all too easy to forget that abortion is not primarily a political issue. In fact, it’s not fundamentally a women’s or children’s issue. In the latest Radical Together podcast episode, “The Child Yet Unborn,” David Platt argues from Scripture that abortion is first and foremost a God issue. He points to Psalm 139:13-16 to make this very point,
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
Regardless of what our society calls the unborn–a fetus, a clump of cells, or merely tissue–it is God’s view that matters, and his intimate relationship with the unborn is clear from Scripture. Believers must, therefore, speak and work for truth and justice on this issue.
This week’s podcast is the first of two episodes dealing with the topic of abortion. Be sure also to check out our Counter Culture ministry partners to see how you can engage this issue–to speak with courage for the unborn and to reach out with compassion to those who feel as if abortion is their only option.
According to the 2015 World Watch List, Syria is the fourth most hostile country in the world for Christians living there, in large part because of the growing presence and control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Christians are among those most marginalized and endangered, but between the Islamic State’s harsh implementation of sharia law and the ongoing violence of civil war, they aren’t the only only ones suffering. This is evidenced by the astounding number of Syrians forced to flee from their homes.
Some 6.5 million Syrians have been internally displaced, while around 4 million have been displaced to surrounding countries, and some still beyond. Numbers like these are so big that they can actually be ineffective. Rather than helping us feel the tragic weight of human suffering, we’re left to grapple with an intangible statistic. In reality, these numbers represent individual people. Most are lost, and many are unreached – without access to the gospel.
Of the over 20 million people in Syria (the vast majority of whom are Muslim), nearly 7.5 million are unreached. These unreached people span across 18 distinct people groups, people groups who may now be found in Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Iraq, and Europe.
All of this has a few huge implications for missions:
- Those hardest to reach with the good news remain in Syria. With the Islamic State taking over, people who remain are either silently hurting at their hands or complicit. “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim 1:15), so to sinners we must go.
- Whether in Syria or abroad, Christians are being persecuted. The Islamic State violently opposes all who don’t agree with their religious convictions, especially Christians. Believers still in Syria are likely to be on the run, anxiously hiding, or suffering abuse. Believers who have fled Syria are often homeless, unemployed, lacking basic needs, separated from family, and still religiously restricted… unfortunately, Iraq, Egypt, Turkey, and Jordan (the top destinations of Syrian exiles) are all also on the World Watch List. As fellow members of the body of Christ, we suffer when they do. Our love for them is evidence of our love for God and a testimony to the gospel for a watching world (1 Jn 4:7, Jn 13:35).
- Those displaced are uniquely situated to hear the gospel. For displaced unbelievers, not only are they more accessible than they would have been in Syria, but they’re also potentially more receptive to the message of Christ. They may be disenchanted with Islam (Daniel Abraham explained this clearly today on Tim Challies’ blog), the might be thinking more about eternity, and their awareness of their need for a Savior may be heightened.
As is often the case, the church hurts worst in the world’s darkest spots. As we look to Syria and see our believing brothers and sisters suffering and fleeing, let’s not be guilty of indifference. Let’s pray for them, support them, and advocate on their behalf, knowing that helping the Syrian church continue to shine brightly is one of the greatest services we can do for the dark world around it. Syrians today need the light of Jesus more than ever. So let’s also bring the good news of forgiveness and reconciliation to those who presently oppose God.
The people of Syria are in dire need. May we rise to the occasion.
Posted on July 10th, 2015 by David Burnette
If you primarily think of God as your buddy, or if you view the Christian life in largely sentimental terms, then the attribute of God we’re highlighting this week might kill the mood. I’m talking about God’s wrath. Like holiness and mercy, attributes that we’ve already looked at, wrath is another integral part of God’s character.
To the surprise of some Christians, God’s wrath is not an obscure topic tucked away in some neglected book of the Minor Prophets. It’s actually a very prominent theme throughout God’s Word. Admittedly, thinking about God’s wrath is usually more sobering than it is encouraging. However, if we want to grow in our knowledge of God, and given that he chose to reveal so much about his judgment in the pages of Scripture, then this is a topic that every Christian should be familiar with.
Anything but Arbitrary
Since the idea of God’s wrath is often misunderstood, it’s important that we know what it does not mean. For some, God’s wrath conjures up notions of an unhappy deity who arbitrarily flies off the handle. This kind of god specializes in punishing people for minor infractions. Thankfully, this is a far cry from the God of the Bible, whose judgment is anything but arbitrary.
God has warned us: “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Only his mercy, his patience, and his overarching purposes prevent him from punishing all sin immediately. God’s wrath is his righteous response to our sin, and every transgression will be punished. Rebellion against an infinitely holy God is deserving of infinite punishment. Adam and Eve found out the terrible consequences of sin after one transgression (Genesis 3). Just as we expect earthly judges to punish criminals, so God’s wrath is his righteous response to sin. Anything less would be unjust.
Old and New
Another misconception when it comes to God’s wrath has to do with the idea that this is a truth confined to the Old Testament. The God of the Old Testament was angry and vindictive, it is said, but then, thankfully, Jesus came along and showed us a more loving way. It’s as if God got in a better mood just prior to Christ’s birth. There are a number of problems with this distorted portrait.
First, God is perfect and he never changes. It is therefore impossible for him to improve or to become more loving and gracious. Second, because God is a Trinity, we know that the Son of God was directly involved in everything that happened in the Old Testament. Jesus is not the more lenient version of the God of Israel. Third, the New Testament itself is filled with references to the judgment that awaits those who continue in their rebellion against God. To take one example, Paul comforts the Thessalonians by telling them that those who afflict them will not go unpunished:
They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 1:9-10)
And remember, most of what we know of hell in the New Testament comes from the words of Jesus, whose descriptions are disturbingly vivid. He speaks of hell as the place where “their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:48). It’s clear that the concept of God’s wrath and just judgment was important to Jesus and the New Testament writers.
Sobering and Strengthening
Needless to say, we cannot talk of God’s wrath lightly. The judgment that awaits those who are outside of Christ should sober us, particularly when we remember that it’s the same judgment we deserve. It is only by God’s grace in Christ that we are assured of “no condemnation” (Romans 8:1). These realities should lead to a life of overflowing gratitude, and they should compel us to share the good news that sinners can escape God’s wrath by hiding in the wrath-absorbing cross of Christ.
To unbelievers, God’s wrath will continue to seem harsh and outdated. But that doesn’t mean we should feel the need to apologize for it; this is, after all, one of God’s perfections. Instead, it should cause us to tremble, adding weight to our worship and urgency to our mission. The fearful prospect of God’s wrath also reminds us not to toy with sin or depart from Christ. Finally, the certainty of God’s wrath ensures that we don’t have to avenge ourselves, for God will one day punish all forms of evil fairly and decisively. This is why the saints will be able to rejoice at the destruction of God’s enemies:
Rejoice over her, O heaven, and you saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her! (Revelation 18:20)
The wrath of God gives the people of God confidence as they face opposition and persecution. Even this awe-inspiring attribute works for the good of those who belong to Christ. This is just one more reason to rejoice in the One whose wrath is dreadful, but who is at the same time our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.
— For more on God’s attributes, see Secret Church 4, “Who is God?“
Posted on July 2nd, 2015 by David Burnette
As you think about the circles you run in as a Christian, what attributes of God seem to be ignored or downplayed today?
My guess is that God’s wrath, his holiness, or his righteousness come to mind. All those are probably true, and they are evidence of the low view of God that seems so common, even among professing Christians. This is why we highlighted God’s holiness last week. However, has it dawned on you that by downplaying God’s holy character we inevitably undermine his mercy?
If I assume that God approves of whatever I’m doing, then what need is there for mercy? After all, mercy assumes that some punishment is deserved, that judgment is withheld. We may ask God to bless us, help us, or guide us–all of which we should pray for–but it’s much less common to hear the words of the tax collector in Luke 18:13, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” To downplay God’s mercy is to miss a fundamental aspect of who he is. And as the psalmist reminds us, God’s mercy is “over all that he has made” (Psalm 145:9).
At the Core
When God revealed himself to Moses on Mount Sinai, he began by proclaiming himself to be “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious . . .” (Exodus 34:6). There was more to this revelation, but we cannot miss the fact that mercy gets at the core of who God is. He is the God who condescends to redeem his people and to make a covenant with them. Without such mercy, a holy God could never join himself to us in love; judgment would be the only option. To know God, then, is to know him as merciful.
Our only Hope
In order to make God’s mercy more concrete, consider your own conversion. You were dead in sin, and the only reason that wasn’t the end of the story is because of God’s “great love,” and because he is “rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4). Or as Peter says, you have been born again according to God’s “great mercy” (1 Peter 1:3). Instead of judging you, Christian, God chose to lay the punishment on his only Son. By the power of the Spirit, God’s mercy brought you into the Christian life. But, thankfully, that’s not where mercy ends.
A Daily Need
God’s mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:23). They greet us like the sunrise, assuring us that today’s sins will be no match for God’s forgiveness. Whether our sin is as glaring as King David’s with Bathseeba, and we have to cry out, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love, according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1), or whether it’s just the daily defilement of selfish thoughts, twisted desires, and ten thousand other sins, we need mercy. And, by God’s grace, it is available to those who are in Christ.
So as you think on God and what he is like, don’t forget that he is holy, righteous, and just. These are foundational attributes. But, if you belong to Christ, these foundational attributes should remind you of your need for another foundational attribute of God–his mercy. Without it, we have no hope.
— For more on God’s attributes, see Secret Church 4, “Who is God?“
Posted on June 29th, 2015 by Radical
It’s probably not news to you that a number of aspects of sexual sin continue to plague not only our culture, but also the church. This is one of the reasons we have highlighted Route1520 as a Counter Culture ministry partner. Route1520 offers gospel-centered help for those who find themselves in the grip of sexual sin.
Like all other sins, Christians must actively fight against sexual sin on a daily basis. However, this daily battle cannot be disconnected from the gospel. With that in mind, we asked Traylor Lovvorn, co-founder of Route1520, to explain how the gospel figures into their approach of addressing sexual sin, and then to offer several ways in which Route1520 offers ongoing help in this battle:
1. Many people trying to fight sexual addiction would say they believe the gospel. So how does the gospel affect the way you counsel people who are struggling with sexual sins?
It is no secret that pornography, sexual addiction, and other forms of sexual brokenness are reaching epidemic, if not pandemic, proportions in our culture. God’s beautiful gift of sex is being profaned and defiled by our enemy in every imaginable way. But God is not wringing His hands over this issue. Instead, He is using the struggle with sexual sin to lead men and women into a deeper understanding of His gospel of grace . . . the only thing that has the power to change our hearts. In this way, pornography and other forms of sexual sin actually become a gateway to the gospel. THAT is good news!
Most say that they believe the gospel, but, when you begin to get beneath the surface of what they actually believe, you find that most have a fundamental misunderstanding of grace and the gospel, which leads to a practical theology that points to more willpower, more discipline, more effort, and more striving as the keys to bringing about lasting change. When it comes to sexual sin, instead of helping individuals “fix” this area of powerlessness with new tips or techniques, we want to help them embrace their powerlessness and limitations so that they begin to see their desperate need for a Savior.
At Route1520, we use a tree to help illustrate this concept. Picture an enormous oak tree. Let’s say that the branches all represent some form of sexual behavior that we are trying to overcome and change in our lives. Much time, effort, and energy is spent sawing off those branches of unwanted behavior. When we have successfully sawed off a branch, it feels like a victory in the short-term. The problem, however, is that the branches grow back, often bigger and stronger than they were before.
Instead of offering men and women a better or different saw to get rid of these branches of unwanted behavior, we point them to the root issues that drive the behavior and gently help them understand that their problem is actually much bigger than they realize. This opens the door for us to reveal to them the good news of the gospel–that, through Christ, God has done for them what they could not do for themselves, and it is not up to them to change their hearts. Instead of more striving, more doing, and more performing, men and women are free to receive God’s unconditional love and to simply rest in the fact that they are a beloved son or daughter.
As illustrated in Luke 15, the truth of the gospel is that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. Only the unconditional love of the Father can overcome the shame and self-contempt that results from sexual sin in a believer’s life. Route1520’s weekly recovery communities are safe environments where individuals are reminded of these truths that can be so quickly forgotten. As the Centurion prayed in Mark chapter 9, “I believe; help my unbelief!”
2. What tools and resources does Route1520 offer to help men and women address the deeper, root issues that drive the struggle with sexual sin?
Our main focus is to come alongside the local church and other ministries by providing solutions that address the heart and not just the specific external behavior.
These solutions include:
- Christ-centered recovery communities for men and women
- Relationship and recovery coaching for strugglers and their spouses
- Crisis coaching for ministry leaders to equip as they shepherd through a specific incident involving sexual addiction or brokenness
- EMBARK: a 4-day recovery intensive for men
- GroupNow: a comprehensive resource kit designed to help churches establish a safe culture for sexually broken people within their congregations
— A former pastor, Traylor was married for 11 years before his secret struggle with pornography and sexual addiction ripped his family apart, leaving his wife and 4 children to try to figure out what had happened to Daddy. After 6 years of divorce, God miraculously restored and reconciled his family and he was remarried to his ex-wife Melody in 2008.
Traylor co-founded Route1520 in 2010 with Melody to address the growing epidemic of pornography and other forms of sexual brokenness within the church. Traylor and Melody co-host a weekly podcast called Undone Redone, facilitate weekly recovery groups for men and women, and spend much of their time coaching and encouraging those who have been impacted by sexual brokenness.
Traylor and Melody live in Birmingham with their four children.
Posted on June 26th, 2015 by Radical
It is altogether right to be grieved about the redefinition of marriage in our culture. So-called “same-sex marriage” is now recognized as a legitimate entity in the eyes of our government. Such a designation by a government, however, does not change the definition God has established. The only true marriage in God’s eyes remains the exclusive, permanent union of a man and a woman, even as our Supreme Court and state legislatures deliberately defy this reality. Without question, we are living in momentous days–momentous in devastating ways.
Yet all is most definitely not lost. The opportunity for gospel witness in contemporary culture is far greater now than it was even a couple of years ago. As spiritual darkness engulfs the biblical picture of marriage in our culture, spiritual light will stand out even more starkly in the portrait of a husband who lays down his life for his wife and a wife who joyfully follows her husband’s loving leadership. Be sure of this: God’s design for marriage is far more breathtaking and much more satisfying than anything we could ever create on our own. The more men and women manipulate marriage, the more we will discover that “this kind of marriage” or “that kind of marriage” will not fully gratify us, for only the King who designed marriage is able to finally (and eternally) satisfy us.
Furthermore, we have much reason to be confident in the resilience of marriage as God has designed it. After all, it has been around since the beginning of time (see Genesis 2:24-25). Jesus himself affirms the foundational reality of marriage in the fabric of God’s creation (see Matthew 19:1-12). Moreover, marriage will be around at the end of time. Sure, it won’t look the same as it does now, for this earthly shadow will one day give way to its eternal substance. On that day, Christ will be united completely with his church, and all of heaven will shout, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready” (Revelation 19:6-7). John writes in the book of Revelation, “The angel said to me, ‘Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the true words of God'” (verse 9).
Based upon these “true words of God,” we need not worry about whether marriage is going to make it. Ultimately, we do not look to any court or government to define marriage. God has already done that, and his definition cannot be eradicated by a vote of legislators or the opinions of Supreme Court justices. The Supreme Judge of creation has already defined this term once and for all. Marriage does not morph across cultures the same way that football does, for marriage is a term that transcends culture, representing timeless truth about who God is and how God loves. The call and challenge for us is to live according to such truth in the time and culture in which he has placed us.
David Platt, Counter Culture, 152-154
More on Today’s Ruling . . .
- Collection of resources on SCOTUS and SSM (ERLC)
- Framing of questions and full text of the decision (Denny Burk)
- On heterosexual marriage and homosexuality (Hal Lane – ERLC)
- On the Call to Public Witness on Marriage (Denny Burk, Andrew T. Walker – TGC)
Posted on June 25th, 2015 by David Burnette
As children of God, we can take great comfort in the fact that God knows us personally, that he understands our struggles and cares for our needs. He is not some distant deity; he is a Heavenly Father who loves us deeply.
However, as we continue to encounter God in his Word and grow in our knowledge of him, we will be confronted again and again with a startling reality: this God who is so near to us and so intimately involved in our lives is not like us. He is unique, set apart from us in fundamental ways. This is another way of saying that God is holy. It’s what Hannah realized when God blessed her by giving her a long-awaited son:
There is no one holy like the Lord. (1 Samuel 2:2).
Holiness is the first of God’s attributes we’ll look at over the next several weeks. Below we’ll highlight two different aspects of God’s holiness, and then we’ll see why this is good news for those who have the privilege of calling God Father. 
The Creator and The Creature
First, God’s holiness means that he is in a completely different class than us—he is the Creator and we are the creatures. He is infinitely greater than us in terms of his glory, majesty, and power. God existed before the mountains were formed (Psalm 90:2), but man was created from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). Some people might worry that this profound difference between God and us makes us insignificant to him, as if God’s holiness means that he is detached from his creation. However, Jesus teaches us that God even cares for the birds and lilies (Matthew 6:26, 28). How much more does this holy God care for those who are made in his image and redeemed by his Son?
Righteousness and Sin
Second, God’s holiness also refers to his moral perfection. He always does what is perfectly just and righteous and loving. In fact, he is the standard for all that is good. It’s no wonder that the prophet Habakkuk addressed God as, “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil . . . ” (Habakkuk 1:13). A holy God can have nothing to do with sin.
Why This is Good News
So if God can’t tolerate evil, then how does his holiness work out to be good news for those who sin against him daily? Michael Horton reminds us,
Because of God’s mercy, God’s holiness not only highlights his difference from us; it also includes his movement toward us, binding us to him in covenant love. 
We can look to the cross as the greatest display of God’s holiness, for he is so just and righteous that it took the death of his Son to atone for sin. However, because God is also gracious and merciful, this same death also brought salvation for God’s enemies (you and me). Now, as those who have been reconciled to God, we can take comfort in God’s perfections. He is faithful, so he never fails to carry through on his promises. And he is never limited by a lack of knowledge, a lack of strength, or the inability to meet a need. He is sufficient in every way for his people.
In Christ we stand in a right relationship to the One whom the angels declare to be “Holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). This is the God who is to be feared, but who, at the same time, fulfills our longings for that which is truly glorious and beautiful. Now we can say with the psalmist,
For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name. (Psalm 33:21)
— For more on the holiness of God and God’s attributes, see Secret Church 4, “Who is God?”
 These two aspects of God’s holiness are based on Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims On the Way, 268-270.
 Horton, 268
You may not be familiar with the concept of “mid-term.” It’s pretty simple, though. Think of it as longer than a typical mission trip, but not exactly a one way ticket either. A typical mid-term trip usually falls somewhere between two months and two years. Before you dismiss this seemingly unfeasible leave of absence, let me urge you to consider a few of its merits:
- On a short-term trip, local partners rearrange their normal schedule to accommodate your group and make the most of your limited time. On a mid-term trip, you are forced to come alongside them in their already-existing daily routine. This enables you to identify ways to serve them that they may not even see themselves.
- While going mid-term certainly doesn’t come without challenges, it can also be uniquely rewarding. It’s difficult because it brings you well out of the proverbial honeymoon stage. When you’re two months in and you’re homesick and you’re tired of rice and beans and the once glamorous cultural differences start to annoy you… then you really have to count the cost and keep your eyes fixed on Christ. But with such trials comes the potential for great reward. For when you come to the end of yourself, you’re forced to either actively depend on Jesus or give up. If you endure, you might find that Christ catapults your walk with him to new heights. On top of this personal reward, the longer you stay, the more potential influence you can have in the lives of others there, and the more time you have to see some of that ministry come to fruition.
- Perhaps you’ve been on a short-term trip and are now considering full time, long-term missions. By first going on a mid-term trip, you may get a better idea for how to prepare for the challenges of an indefinite cross-cultural move.
For many, there are some great natural breaks that allow you to easily go mid-term. Think gap years before or after college, full summers between school, studying abroad, international internships, etc. But even if you’ve passed most of these common opportunities, say, with a full-time job and a family, don’t count yourself out for mid-term; it may be just what the Lord is calling you to do. Even at great cost – or might we say, especially at great cost – going mid-term could be one of the most worthwhile trips you ever take.
Posted on June 15th, 2015 by David Burnette
What would you think of a husband who worked hard to provide for his wife, professed his love for her daily, and even brought her flowers on a regular basis, but never took the time to sit down and have a conversation with her? Sure, he’s making sacrifices, but can we honestly say that he delights in her?
The obvious answer is no, but before we get too mad at this guy, let’s ask ourselves, Are we doing the same thing with God? After all, we can claim to believe the Bible, talk about how much we love Jesus, and maybe even declare our willingness to go to the ends of the earth to share the gospel, but still have little desire to know what God is like. Not only does this fail to honor God, but according to J.I. Packer, it’s also dangerous:
Diseregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul. (Knowing God, 19).
More Practical Than We Think
Maybe you realize that you should be growing in your knowledge of God, but, if you’re honest, it sounds abstract or uninteresting. You prefer something more practical. If that’s you, then you may be thinking about this all wrong. Remember, when God saved us, he did not simply give us new information or a list of things to start doing; he brought us into a relationship. To be a Christian means that you have God as your Father, that you are spiritually joined to the Lord Jesus, and that the Spirit of God lives inside of you. How, then, can we not want to know the God who calls us his own? His character, his greatness, his mighty acts, his glory, and his beauty—these are the things that ought to capture our affections and motivate everything we do.
Now, just to be clear, getting to know God should not be disconnected from our everyday lives. John warns us, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (1 John 1:6). Knowing God cannot be separated from obeying God. However, we don’t want to spend our lives serving a God whom we barely know. Peter tells us that we were chosen so that we might “proclaim the excellencies” of God (1 Peter 2:9), but we can’t do that if we don’t know what those excellencies are. Thankfully, we don’t have to be an expert in all God’s attributes to tell others about him, but wouldn’t it make sense that we would want to be more familiar with the God we’re proclaiming?
Snapshots of God’s Character
Our love and obedience should be the result of delighting in God’s ways and relying on his character as it is revealed in the pages of Scripture. With this goal in mind, we’ll consider several attributes of God over the next few weeks. These snapshots of his character are taken from Secret Church 4, “Who is God?” These truths are foundational to everything we believe and everything we do, for knowing God, the prophet Jeremiah tells us, is the only thing worth boasting about:
Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
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