On February 15th at 11 am (CST), the Gospel Project is hosting a live webcast featuring Afshin Ziafat, Trevin Wax, Jana Magruder, Daniel Darling, John Murchison and Paul W. Martin. The focus of this event is keeping Christ central even when you’re studying the Gospels. Registration is free, so sign-up, tune in, and discuss with your ministry team!
The solemn fact is that none of us can tell the difference between the beginning of backsliding and the beginning of apostasy. Both look the same. So what are the tell-tale signs of this sickness unto death? Are there early symptoms that might alert us to our spiritual danger?
I heard these words a few times when I was just cutting my teeth in ministry as a youth pastor and I absolutely relished them. It was confirmation to my heart and my soul that I was doing what God had called me to do. I’ve heard these words now as a senior pastor and they aren’t nearly as appetizing—they are frightening.
What are these five words?
“I’m here because of you.”
Kyle Strobel and Jamin Goggin:
“Whether you know it or not, you just are in a position of power.”
This was Eugene Peterson’s response to our inquiry concerning the unique challenge pastors face in relation to power. Our conversation with Eugene was part of a long journey to discover what it meant to embrace power in weakness. He was, of course, correct. Those of us in ministry are all in a position of power. As such, we’ve all embraced a certain form of power. The question is not if we’ve embraced power, but what kind of power we’ve embraced.
This is perhaps the most pressing question in the church today because it defines everything we do in ministry.
An effective way to make a misleading claim appear more plausible is to hide it within a truthful package. Planned Parenthood does this by defining the term “service” to mean a “discrete clinical interaction.” A “service” in one of their clinics can therefore include anything from giving out a pamphlet on gonorrhea to performing a surgical abortion. To Planned Parenthood, whether an action cost pennies or hundreds of dollars, takes minutes or hours, they are all equal—at least for the purpose of obfuscation—when lumped under the rubric of a “service.”
To be uncertain is to be humble. To be certain is to be arrogant. Thus, the cardinal sin in the intellectual world is to claim to know anything for sure.
Of course, this shift presents a real problem for Christianity. Christians believe that God has revealed himself clearly in his Word. Thus, when it comes to key historical questions (Who was Jesus? What did he say? What did he do?) or key theological questions (Who is God? What is Heaven? How does one get there?), Christians believe they have a basis on which they can claim certainty: God’s revelation.
A favorite from the archives:
But maybe I’m overthinking it. And maybe this fear also brings to light something I need to remember myself: the results of any sort of discipleship relationship are not in my control. When I worry about “failing” this guy, what I’m really saying is I want to control the outcome. Or at a minimum, I want a guarantee that things will work out alright.
But God doesn’t give us those kinds of guarantees.