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Sunday, February 8, 2009

Speaking of Jesus: February 2009

Many times when we talk about Jesus, we find ourselves getting into arguments to prove to our unbelieving friends that Jesus is God or that the Bible is reliable and true. We get into the argument game and we think if we can just "win" the argument, we will "defeat" our opponent and prove God right. Though I firmly am convinced that there is a time for argument and debate when it comes to discussing the faith, we must be careful when we set out to talk about Jesus that we don't set out to prove bad ideas wrong. We have the truth and we know it and that gives us great confidence. But often, confidence in truth can turn into pride in being right. And when this happens, we lose sight of the real purpose in talking about Christ, faith in Jesus.

Romans 10:17 says that "faith comes through hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." Well, we must ask, what is that message? What is that word? It is the message of forgiveness, the word of salvation. When we set out to talk about Jesus, our end goal is to proclaim that Christ was crucified for and forgives sinners, including the one we are speaking with (that is, from one sinner to another). Such a message creates faith according to our verse. It is through that proclamation of grace that the Holy Spirit convicts and convinces hearts of the gospel.

However, that word is tremendously offensive to some, "a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to Gentiles" (I Corinthians 1:23). Some don't believe they are sinners, some don't believe Jesus died and rose again, some don't know if He ever even existed. It is in these situations where we want to be prepared to have an answer to the objections they raise, as St. Peter says, an answer for the hope that is within us (I Peter 3:15)! We want to be able to have informed and intelligent discussions that take the questions and objections of our loved ones seriously. But we must never believe that once we have answered their questions and corrected their misunderstandings that we have done our jobs. We must ultimately proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins in Jesus name (Luke 24:47). It is in these words that the Holy Spirit works. We don't need fancy arguments or silver-bullet answers to prove anyone into the faith. We simply say what Christ does for sinners, he forgives them. And the Holy Spirit convicts of that truth and turns hearts to Christ! What an awesome and humbling thing to know that we are sent by God to carry that message, to proclaim that good news!

Pastor Bob

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