Monday, January 14, 2013

Do not be afraid of the truth

How does the church minister in a world in which many no longer believe in absolute truth?   It is one of the great challenges of our time.  Our Lord Jesus Christ taught that He is the truth, the life, and the only way to God, but many find His words to be unacceptable.  They argue that other great religious leaders also taught paths to God so who is able to say which one is true.  Many prefer to take bits of teaching from one religion and mix it with teachings from other religions to develop their own religious system which satisfies their spiritual longings and yet does not crimp their personal moral behavior.

Some churches have been willing to compromise their doctrine in order to accommodate this postmodern view of truth and reach today's spiritual seekers, but numerous studies tell us this is not necessary.  Tom Rainer's studies led him to insist that the church should never dilute the Gospel in an effort to reach the unchurched as many formerly unchurched report that the church's doctrine was one of the elements that attracted them to the church they eventually joined.  Colleen Carroll's year long study of young adults who turned to orthodox Christianity found that this was also a major reason for their decision.  They wanted a belief system that actually believed something.

In one of their books, Elmer Towns and Ed Stetzer said that if we "Take away the authority of the Bible, or the essential content of the Bible, [we] no longer have Christianity."  We may still have a belief system or a religion, but it will not be Christian, and it will not have the power to change people's lives.

We do not have to be afraid to present the Gospel as true even at a time when truth is being questioned and Christian doctrine and values are under attack.  I believe that just as God has protected the truth of His word for all these centuries, He is still able to protect it as it comes under attack today.  Let those who reject biblical truth challenge it with their man-made philosophies and see how effective such arguments are against the truth of Scripture.  Their mocking may last for a season, but in the end truth will prevail.

While God is certainly capable of protecting His word, the church has a role to play in this as well.  Today, it is essential that we develop an apologetic that will respond to the critics and provide answers to the sincere seekers.  We must not only know what we believe but why we believe it, and be ready at all times to give an answer for the hope that is within us.

Our society is searching for spiritual answers to their deepest questions.  The church has the responsibility to provide those answers from the Scriptures.  Such answers will not always make some people happy, but it is not our job to make them happy; it is our responsibility to give them the truth.  When we plant the seed of truth in them God then has something to work with to help them experience the transformation they need.

For more on this topic be sure to read my newest book The Healthy Community: Moving Your Church Beyond Tunnel Vision.

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