Friday, August 28, 2009

Earnestly Contend For The Faith

This post was updated 10/5/2009
1 Pet. 3:15~"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:"

New Bethel Ministries isn't the average duck. That ministry happens to have a Minister that places a strong emphasis on the ministry of apologetics. Being able to give a reasonable answer to them that ask is among one of the more important duties and obligations of the modern church, however it is also one of the most overlooked functions within the local church.

What many Pastors are not aware of, is that every member, including children, should be prepared to defend and answer their faith. While many of us teach bible stories in cute cartoons with little emphasis on historical settings or actual evidences for faith, the world seeks to dupe our children and members of the real substance of scripture, through theories such as evolution, documentary hypothesis, form criticism, and philosophical beliefs such as relativism, cognitive psychology other post modern ideas. All of these things are merely attempts to seduce the mind and reduce biblical truths to myths with no real substance or extension in time and space. Unfortunately, many of our members are not able to know the difference or adequately demonstrate the historicity of the biblical record. Many attending church regularly can't point to the vast amount of evidences that exist both for God, the historical Jesus or Christianity in general.

So far as the future of the church is concerned, facts are that too many of our youth are leaving the church and never coming back because they have never learned the essential truths of the historic Christian faith, and or never experienced the life changing power of God for themselves. According to America's Research Group which surveyed evangelical believers ages 20-29, only 55% of that group attended services regularly during high school years, but by college only 11% attended church regularly. In other words there was a 44% decline in church attendance as these young adults got older. In a study of youth between 18-23 years of age less than one half of one percent of Christian youth held a biblical worldview. A biblical world view is described by Barna as the following:
1- Believing that absolute moral truth exists;
2- Believing that the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles
Principles:
A- Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic;
B- a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works;
C- Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and
D- God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

According to Parchment & Pen.com 65 to 94 % of high school students stop attending church after graduating. They go on to say that leaving church is many times the first visible step in one’s pilgrimage away from Christ. According to The Barna Group many of those that leave the church (to tune of 20 million per year) depart discovering what is called a more universal revolutionary approach to serving God not defined by any particular church group.

Why? Sometimes it's due to plain old hurt and mishandling of the people of God that has taken place in many churches. Then there is secularism, religious pluralism and ecclecticism that has taken center stage convincing many that there are multiple paths to salvation pronouncing that Jesus is simply "a way" to the Father or peace with God and the universe. Politically, it's "en vogue" to place all religious ideas on the table, taking only the best virtues from all and creating a new world religion where everyone is accepted and where only a "positive" message is enjoined.

2 Tim. 4:3-4 ~"3-For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4-And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

President Barack Obama is an expert at this type of tactic, placing all religious faiths on the same plateau and calling all faiths "great" simply because of the ability to lead and draw masses. What is effective for politicians is not effective for ministers seking to serve the Lord and uphold truth. I don't believe that God's preachers can be in political office, there is far too much compromise of essential truths necessary to lead politically. Nevertheless, being able to give a reasonable answer for the Christian hope has never been more important in history.

This is why I recommend the following conferences this year for all leaders who want to take more of an active role in preparing their entire church for 21st century ministry:
The Apologetics Institute 2009 Nov. 13th and 14th 2009 New Life Christian Ctr. Smithsville, Rhode Island. $79 registration for the entire conference.
Featured Speakers: Dr. Chuck Colson, Dr. Ravi Zacharias, Dr. Patrick Smith, Dr. Os Guiness

The National Apologetics Conference, Nov. 13th and 14th 2009, Hickory Grove Baptist Church, Charlotte, NC. Various registration amounts for various parts of the conference.
Featured Speakers: Dr. Hank Hanegraaf, Dr. Michael Brown, Dr. William Lane Craig, Dr. Dinesh D'Souza, Dr. Gary Habermas

The Evangelical Philosophical Society's 7the Annual Apologetics Conference,  Nov. 19-21 New Orleans, LA. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary 3939 Gentilly Blvd New Orleans, LA 70126 Prices begin at $20 per individual top out at $30. Special rates and discounts for groups.
Featured Speakers: Dr. J.P. Moreland, Dr. Timothy McGrew, Dr. Michael Murray, Dr. Greg Koukel, Dr. Paul Copan, Dr. Gary Habermas, Dr. Patrick Smith and many more.
The bad news is that two of these conferences are on the same date. The good news is that resources will be made available so that you won't miss the topics that are of most importance to you and your ministry even if you can attend neither. It's my desire that you'll continue to be strengthened in your faith knowing that there is just NONE like Jesus!

Blessed!

7 comments:

  1. One reason I find this so important is that one of our young people went to college last year and when she returned for the summer I asked how did things go. She told me that she enjoyed it but that one particualr class was unexpected and unusual. It was her introduction to philosophy class that challenged her with what is called "The Problem Of Evil"

    She told me that the only reason she made it through the class was because she had heard and remembered me preaching on many of the topics that were discussed about absolute truth, morality and the nature of God.

    Of course that made me feel good as a pastor because I could see that what we were busy about teaching came in handy in real life time and space even where I couldn't see it for myself.

    However, it also made me wonder, how many young people especially loose every bit of what they call faith by having to listen to secular teachers and educators who don't believe in absolutes, God, and certainly nothing in the bible.

    If we look even further we'll see our kindergardeners challenged with the same type of sociological ideas as they are introduced to dinosaurs and told that man "evolved" from monkeys to be what we are today.

    The church must seek to be relevant, if we don't the ungodly will.

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  2. I couldn't help but think of your column today after a conversation with my mom. She's not been happy with me because I won't do what she thinks I should do which is (in spite of my 16 hours self-employed work days) get a job.

    I'm not happy with my response today. I did not earnestly contend for the faith.

    I said "The magnitude of what God has allowed is backed by His promise that he doesn't allow more than I can handle, and He has given me the measure of faith to get through".

    She said "I (meaning herself) don't live in biblical times, I live in the real world."

    "That's right", I say. "There are two different worlds and I live in the one that wants to please God and without faith, it is impossible to please Him. That dusty 'ol Bible says God never changes, and Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, so I'm going to do what He says."

    End of conversation. I have to say, it was the shortest one yet. Maybe that's good...I don't know. Maybe all I can do to contend for the faith when it comes to my family is keep my joy when to the world, it looks like I am being lead as a sheep to slaughter.

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  3. Laura,

    I can honestly say that I too have had conversations of similar substance and outcomes. maybe that's the contending, standing for what you know is right, know is the will and word of God for you and in your life IN SPITE OF the criticisms that you take.

    I spent the day, up early singing in worship, preaching and delivering the message, and the rest of the day ministering to some members who were a victim of fire. Thank God they were and are ok, but you can't tell me that the carreer i had laid out as an athlete and the other career my parents had laid out for me as a Dr. could take the place of the comfort I was able to bring to people all day long.

    Yes sistah, we take the criticism, but that is how we contend...we take it and we make it! In Jesus name!

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  4. Pastor Burnett, I know your words were a comfort to the victims of the fire, because your words were/are a comfort to me too.

    He never promised us a rose garden, but He did promise to never leave us or forsake us.

    Don't you know that I feel like such a phony when I break down in tears, but thanks be to Jesus, it's only for a moment. I can't go back to only relying on myself - I would have no hope at this point. Spent my entire life working my own plan and asking God to bless it. He has me right where He wants me now, and to go back to doing what I had always done would be that definition of stupid: doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. And where is the victory in that? And how does that give God glory?

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  5. Before i began the ministry, i was a bank manager and had it all planned out how i was going to develop the church both financially and spiritually.

    The money was going to support the programs, purchase a great big ole building and within a year we'd have at least 1,000 members.

    Before we began, God stepped in the way of the job...that was gone...During the course of 10 years of ministry that high performance soul winning machine, learned what it is to go beneath the surface, and actually minister one on one and avail self, not delegates, to do the job of healing God's people.

    A popular minister told me, ON EMAIL, that when I invited him to speak, because he wasn't sure what size crowd would attend, that he should simply send a video DVD of his message instead of him taking his time to attend...Needless to say, he'll never be back on this ministry's dollar no matter what he tries to preach. That showed me that a lot of people can talk, but very few are willing to put THEMSELVES in the place of sacrifice for a soul.

    I believe that's the ONLY effective place for the people of god who are called to draw others...the place of sacrifice!

    Don't worry, I've got a book coming out on it...i heard from my editor this week and we're almost ready to go...I'm hoping certainly by Thanksgiving or Christmas. Praise HIM!

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  6. AWESOME! Congratulations on the book!!

    That showed me that a lot of people can talk, but very few are willing to put THEMSELVES in the place of sacrifice for a soul.

    I have an artist friend I've never met in person. She drives out of town daily to take care of her parents who are still in their home. Her mother has demintia (sp) and her father won't be seperated from his wife, so they both need care and Rose was the daughter that stepped up to the plate. She has no life of her own. The only time I've ever heard anything close to complaining was when it snowed, and she worried about getting up the hill to their house.

    I used to feel sorry for her, but now I only admire her. No greater love - than to lay down your life for another.

    There's that Toby Mac song I used to sing where the chorus went "Anything, I would give up for you. Anything I'd give it all away". I would go through my "things" in my mind and mentally give them all up until I could completely. It's harder in real life. A lot of pressure from many different angles - family, pride, the just not knowing.

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  7. I've added to the fron page here. Another awesome conference is scheduled for late November and I'm going to 4-shure try to make that one...Promises to be very refreshing...

    Blessed.

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