Saturday, March 17, 2007

Contending for the Truth 3.1 - Al Mohler

Its a crisp cool morning in Orlando, FL. I've had the privilege of meeting King Blogger, Tim Challies this morning. That was quite an honor.
Then more singing. I am enjoying the stories behind the hymns, but am missing the charismatic and affectionate singing I am used to.

The Holy Spirit and Apologetics
Mt 13.1-17

The World thinks we are "nuts" for being here this morning - why? Turning to an old book - asking questions about the deepest things of God - searching Scriptures together. We have a hard time understanding crowds - some crowds even think they are churches (put a steeple on top - that doesn't make it a church).
The disciples had this same issue - understanding the ministry of Jesus and the crowds.
This is a question that really isn't a question (v 10). To get a good understanding, look at Mt 12 and the conflict with the Pharisees.
There was such a crowd, the disciples are ready for the crusade to begin and get charter buses. Jesus got up and they are ready, Jesus tells a story. Anticlimactic for them - puzzling perhaps? Sometimes we don't understand what Jesus is doing either - but FAITH in TRUTH and the SON has to be our ground.
When the story is finished - the disciples are questioning...why did you speak in parables. Jesus replies (11-13). You know the Bible - you should have heard the message from Isaiah and know this is fulfillment of prophecy. This is Isaiah's prophecy:
You will indeed hear but never understand,and you will indeed see but never perceive. For this people's heart has grown dull,and with their ears they can barely hear,and their eyes they have closed,lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’

Why do some respond with FAITH and believe, trust, are transformed. Then others do not receive and understand. If we know this - we will not be surprised either (not at the obstinacy of the gospel). The problem is not new, it is old.

Augustine: "Why is it that two people, one despises, one rises up. Why is it given to one and not the other. Only God knows. Only credit goes to God, but judgment to the one who doesn't receive. There are knoetic effects of the fall and that is our key epistemological crisis.

God's grace demonstrated in Scripture. The spectacle that Calvin refers to - but why do so many refuse to wear them (Pride just like in wearing regular glasses for me). Pride for those who do not want to wear the spectacles of trust and faith in something outside of them.
The necessary illumination, quickening, ability to see - only through the HS - this downfall is our sin.
The Role of the Spirit

John 14.26f
The Holy Spirit will teach us all things. Word and the Spirit are always conjoined. Without the Holy Spirit we will reject what is so clear. "Bring to our remembrance all that Jesus said"

John 16.4-15
"Helper", "Guide", "Convictor", "Spirit of Truth"
He is our convictor of truth
We are dependent on the Spirit for the work only the Spirit can do - convict us of truth.
We cannot sever the Spirit from Scripture. He is not going to add to Scripture. Put all "revelations" in today's world up against the light of Scripture and see if there is any darkness in it. That has to be our guide because the Spirit isn't going to go against Himself.
Trinitarianism is important to the church (I think of PC&D). We must have help from the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, every day.

1 Cor 2.1-5, 10-16
"Power" - not tricks and gimmicks and rhetoric.
He declared with simplicity the gospel of Christ - with the POWER of the Holy Spirit. And Paul was smart - he was so intelligent - but if his preaching was without work of the Spirit, then he would have been powerless as well. Our knowledge is nothing if not indwelt with the Spirit.
This is a humbling teaching of the NT. Only reason we have seen what others have not seen is b/c of the sovereign grace of God. There is nothing that we have done. We are no better - we are sinners - saved by Grace. That should make us preach and teach with a certain humility that pervades our teaching - knowing we are nothing with the Spirit. HS - please work that in me, a meekness and humility, but one of power, not in myself but in you and YOUR WORD.
It is not enthusiasm, against reason, or to let us believe in the irrational . We have to understand what is going on here.

Defending Your Faith, by RC. "Breaking down of the barriers in our mind that we would surrender to the evidence found in the World." The problem lies in the resident of the heart. The effects of the fall reach everyone (we are all sinners). But we are here because the Holy Spirit had quickened us.
There are so many smart people, but they will not see it (because the Spirit has not quickened them). The argument for Intelligent Design is not an answer to a Creator. This will not make people believe. Only the Spirit can make you believe in THE CREATOR. All the facts will not help you believe the Gospel -
Our reliance on the Spirit in evangelism vital. God the Evangelist - David Wells. Only the HS can lead us to Christ.
In the reformation there was a clear recovery of the work of the Spirit. Calvin wrote in the Institutes extensively.

Several Implications in our work of evangelism by the Holy Spirit
1. Reality of an outward and inward calling should be at the forefront of our thinking and lives. Martin Luther - seminary president (that's one reason Mohler likes him). Wittenburg - many students were so filled with enthusiasm for the reformation - they were tearing down altars with force - they will crawl back and they will build them back - preach the Word. We have to let the Word do this thing. Only the Word can change their hearts - to see the private mass as an insult to the work of Christ - the finished work of Christ. "While I slept, the Word did this work." (speaking of the reformation). One of our problems is that there is no outward call of the gospel - this is absolutely necessary, but it is not enough. We are entirely dependent on the Spirit to do what we can not do, to reach what we can't reach.
2. Absolute dependence on the Spirit in apologetics and evangelism. Let us remember we are not left without the One Jesus calls the Helper. For HIS GLORY and by HIS GRACE.
3. Clear about the nature of the Grace that saves. Not merely enough to accept them as facts, but to embrace them as faith. Sealed by the Holy Spirit. Firm and certain knowledge (not just intellectual) of God's benevolence towards us, given to us by the Promise of Christ, both revealed to our minds and sealed upon our hearts where these truths are confirmed deep within us, through the Holy Spirit.
4. Absolutely knowledge of the sovereignty of God in the salvation of sinners. Look at John 6.37, 44. How do we explain? Jesus has instructed us that there are those who believe and those who do not, it is all sovereignty. There is no one who comes to the Father that is not drawn FIRST BY HIM. This is grace. The rest of this chapter, leads to controversy. They rejected Him. "Granted to Him by the Father" - granted (what a word!) - to supply or to furnish a need; of one's own accord to give another something.
5. Necessity of expository preaching. As Luther said, we are to preach the WORD. The Word does not abide in the heart of the one who rejects it. One who receives the Word the appetite to know more will be given. (Father - let me receive the Word and give me the appetite for more of it). (this is from Mt 13). Jesus doesn't say "congrats, you are smarter than the rest - hip hip hurray! You are so spiritually sensitive, gruff fishermen, but you are such a teddy bear" - No, the disciples weren't smarter or spiritually sensitive then the rest, they weren't seekers, they were the SOUGHT. And so it is with us as well. Hearing - (Mohler goes on into a brilliant display of knowledge of the science of hearing, molecules, nerves - dude is brilliant). We can understand the entire auditory process, but nothing about the gospel. Physical hearing isn't the key - Spiritual hearing is the Spirit's work. We are to preach.
We are all born blind and deaf - only by God's grace do any of us see or hear. Blessed are your eyes and ears - Praise be to God!

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