Friday, February 25, 2011

The God Sin-Shaped Hole in Our Hearts

 Ephesians 2: 1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

In light of this verse, I have a question for Christians who tell sinners that they have a "God-shaped hole in their heart that only Jesus can fill". And only until they fill this hole by "accepting Jesus", they will never be satisfied.

Doesn't this verse say otherwise? Paul says that prior to conversion, we were actually satisfied because we filled that "hole in our heart' with what we truly loved and desired...sin. Before God changed our hearts, we were fine without Jesus...we had ourselves and all the desires of our flesh to please.

I'm just not sure if we're being completely honest when we tell unregenerate people that the Bible says we are sinful by nature and in love with our sin then turnaround and say that Jesus is the only one that can really satisfy us.

I'm just sayin'...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Testimonial Evangelism and Postmodernism

If you're like me, you've heard the term postmodernism thrown around a lot but haven't been able to grasp what exactly it means. In a nutshell, postmodernism defines truth as being a construction of one's own thoughts and ideas as it pertains to their own personal experience. Consequently, this worldview leads to the truth that there are many truths, no matter how contradictory they may be since each individual is the determining factor of what is true.

We see postmodernism's affects on art, literature, and architecture to name a few examples. What I am more concerned with is how this worldview is affecting Christianity in how we read the Bible, evangelize, do church, and judge right and wrong. Rather than confronting a culture of half-truths and no-truths with absolute truth, the church has retreated and married herself to the postmodern culture by adopting the belief that we shouldn't judge falsehood but treat all opinions, beliefs, etc. as equal, regardless of substance. Each individual's personal standards is exalted above the standard of God's word.

So what does all this have to do with evangelism and your personal testimony?

I remember growing up and hearing a lot of "to each his own's" and "whatever floats your boat's". Looking back, I realize that this is the lingo of the postmodernist-the one who subjects truth to their own personal experience. And looking forward, I see why testimonial evangelism fails when it comes to sharing absolute truth with a world in love with subjective truth. We can tell people how Jesus has changed our life and greatly influenced us, with good and right intentions, but the postmodernist response is, "Whatever floats your boat." Ultimately, they hear about our PERSONAL experience, no matter how joyfully and sincerely we present it, and gleefully write it off as something that is good for you, the Christian, but not good for them.

At this point, you might say that sharing your personal testimony is less confrontational and opens up the door to have others listen to you. This is a genuine concern but at the end of the day, we should base our gospel ministry not on pragmatism or what gets the best results but on biblical authority.

So what is the biblical evangelistic response to a postmodern culture?

In Acts 17, Paul was greatly distraught after noticing many idols in the city of Athens. He could've easily preached his own personal testimony about his own personal God, which I'm sure would've fit right in with the religion in Athens since the Greeks set-up many altars of worship to various gods. Instead, Paul went on to proclaim "Jesus and the resurrection" (Acts 17:18) and then preached one of the greatest evangelistic sermons in the Bible (Acts 17:22-31).  He confronted the idolatry of Athens by boldly declaring the gospel!

And this is exactly how we should respond to the idolatry of postmodernism. which replaces the true God with the god of self. We need to replace our subjective and personal testimony with God's objective and universal testimony found only in the gospel! Rather than pointing others to our own inward experience, we should point sinners to God's outward demonstration of His love on the cross (Romans 5:8). Afterall, does the gospel not show us that this life is not about us and our story but about Christ and His glory. And we give Him glory by looking away from ourselves and setting our sights on our Savior, the author and finisher of our faith!

The culture we live in loves the idea of subjective truth. A worldview that puts the individual on the throne and allows them not only to construct their own perception of truth which makes them comfortable but it also gives them free reign to reject any truth that makes them uncomfortable. This is why personal testimony is so appealing to the postmodern's personal in respect to the one sharing it and it sets no demands on the hearer. In contrast, the demands of the gospel, to repent and trust in Christ, are universal. This is what God, through Paul, commanded all Greeks to do, regardless of the god they worshiped (Acts 17:30). And even today, God commands all men to repent and trust in Christ. And the gospel promises that anyone who comes to Christ in repentance and faith will by no means be turned away, regardless of their own personal experience. Although the postmodern culture doesn't like this idea, it is actually good news! God's love towards sinners has nothing to do with what we do but everything to do with what Christ has already done! If you ponder the depth of that good news, the focus in our proclamation will shift away from us and our own testimony and towards God's love and His testimony about His Son!