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1 Corinthians 9:11
"If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Relationship With Jesus
The Key To Effective Ministry

Section 9, Chapter 2

Conditions that Lead Us to Jesus
For a Knowledge of the Truth

Chapter Illustration

Study Question:
  1. What are conditions that lead us to Jesus for a knowledge of the truth? Expound on the meaning of each of these.

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What are conditions that should lead us to Jesus for a knowledge of the truth? They are confirmation of the truth, for a loving purpose, to make the Gospel simple to the hearer, and because the Word of Jesus commands it.

FOR CONFIRMATION OF TRUTH

The prophet Jeremiah said in the book of Jeremiah 17:5-8,

"Cursed is the man who trusts in mankind and makes flesh his strength, and whose heart turns away from the Yehovah. For he will be like a bush in the desert and will not see when prosperity comes, but will live in stony wastes in the wilderness, a land of salt without inhabitant. Blessed is the man who trusts in Yehovah and whose trust is Yehovah. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes, but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit."

Jeremiah states that if we put our trust in a man, flesh, we will be cursed. What does this mean in practical terms, and more specifically in the context of this Section? Whenever a person preaches a sermon or writes a book or a newspaper article, regardless of their position and credentials, we are not to accept it as the Gospel truth on face value alone just because they are saying it regardless of how convincing it may sound. Irrespective of how convincing a sermon or book may sound, there may be factors that the writer or speaker are not bringing into focus that could prove their sermon or writing wrong. The writer of Proverbs states, "The first to plead his case seems just, until another comes and examines him." (Prov 18:17). It is for this very reason that before we submit ourselves to any teaching or come to any conclusions about what we hear or read on our own, that Jesus would have us to first bring it to Him for His and the Holy Spiritís evaluation so that we can get Jesusí perspective on the matter, so that our end conclusions are truly based on truth and on Jesus and His Word and not on the person who is saying it alone.

When we approach what we read and hear in this way, we will be putting our trust in Jesus, and not a man, since our resulting conclusions will be based on Jesusí confirmation or deconfirmation of what we have read or heard. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 13:1, "This is the third time I am coming to you. Every word will be confirmed by the mouth of two or three witnesses." If you cannot find justification of a teaching in the Bible in its total context, no matter how good it sounds, you are to reject it as non-truth and you are not to submit to it. The writer of Acts, Dr. Luke, said about a synagogue of Jews in Berea who were listening to a message from the Apostle Paul and Silas,

"Now these were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica; for they received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11).

FOR A LOVING PURPOSE

A second condition is a pursuit of the truth out of a motivation of love. The Apostle Peter said in First Peter,

"But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence." (1 Pet 3:15).

The Apostle John said in 1 John 3:17-18,

"But whoever has the biological-means-of-life31, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth."

Peter and John are saying here that Jesus is concerned and cares about whatever it is concerning you or the person you are sharing or witnessing to. Jesusí love will go to any extreme to bring a man or woman to Himself and to meet their personal needs. Jesus is a good God and cares about the fears, doubts, and genuine questions we have which may be blocking our faith.

Many times we unintentionally condemn our brothers and sisters or menís questions, because we assume the worst of them in their inquiring. We assume that the fears, doubts, and questions are not legitimate, but that they just do not want to believe. Paul writes though, that love, ". . . believes all things." (1 Cor 13:7). Believing all things doesnít mean anything that is said. Believing all things means that love always assumes the best of an individual your talking to and never the worst. Love assumes that his questions are legitimate, unless the Holy Spirit shows you otherwise, and so seeks the Lord to find the answer to the questions asked. I heard an Evangelist say one time that doubt is not a lack of faith, but is simply trying to keep oneís faith honest and truly based on Jesus Christ and the Word of God. I have quoted this passage of Francis A. Schaeffer from his book 2 Contents, 2 Realities earlier in this textbook, but feel it merits being quoted again in this context,

"Evangelicals can fall into something which really is not very far from existential theology without knowing it. One form of such Ďevangelical existentialismí is the attitude, if not the words, ĎDonít ask questions, just believe.í This sort of attitude was always wrong, but it is doubly wrong today when we are surrounded with a monolithic consensus which divides reason from non-reason, and always puts religious things in the area of non-reason. We must call each other away from this idea. It is not more spiritual to believe without asking questions. It is not more Biblical. It is less Biblical and eventually it will be less spiritual because the whole man will not be involved. Consequently, in our Evangelism, in our personal work, in our young peopleís work, in our ministry wherever we are, those of us who are preachers and are preaching, those of us who are teachers and are teaching and those of us who are evangelists must be absolutely determined not to fall into the trap of saying or implying, ĎDonít ask questions, just believe.í It must be the whole man who comes to understand that the Gospel is truth and believes because he is convinced on the basis of good and sufficient reason that it is truth."33/8

Jesus came to save the whole man: spirit, soul, and body; and mind, heart, conscience and emotion. Therefore part of salvation and loving Jesus totally involves meeting the needs of the mind and ministering truth to the mind.

In sharing the Gospel, we must never force a person into a decision. The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5:14 that the love of Jesus constrains us. This does not mean we do not challenge men to make a decision for Christ. This only means we do not challenge them until they indicate their questions are answered and are convinced on the basis of sufficient answers that Jesus is the answer to their need. When they accept Jesus in this frame of mind it is then out of a motivation of love, not fear of your acceptance or necessarily Godís. Iím not even sure that a person is really born again outside of this context. This is because if he does not understand in his heart what he is doing, he cannot be saved. The Apostle Paul wrote in the book of Romans that salvation comes as a result of confessing Jesus as Lord and believing in our hearts that God the Father brought Him back from the dead as proof of our salvation through Jesusí death and shed blood on the cross.37 Faith must take place first in the heart in order for the verbal confession to be valid and bring about salvation.

TO MAKE THE GOSPEL SIMPLE TO THE HEARER

A third reason to approach Jesus for a knowledge of the truth is to be able to preach the simple Gospel in a way that makes it simple to the one hearing it. What do I mean by simple Gospel? The message of the Gospel is simple: Jesus saves? But communicating that message in a way that the person can comprehend and understand is not always simple.

For many years I had a burden to reach the Ecologist with the message of the Gospel. This was because I too had been involved in the ecology movement in my past. When I first started reaching out to the Ecologist, I wrote a ten page paper titled, "The Heart of the Problem of Ecology." This paper explained to the ecologist how Jesus is the answer to their needs and concerns. When I got one of these papers back from a well established humanist-ecologist friend, comments that he made in the paper made me realize that before I could get the Ecologist to see how Jesus was the answer to the ecology problems, I was going to first have to deal with some of their misconceptions about Christianity concerning the man-woman relationship as taught in the Bible and also convince them as to why they should accept the Judeo-Christian Bible as being absolutely the Word of God and Godís Word alone.

This led to the writing of two more papers which did silence the present cries. These two papers were, "Implications of the Literal-Historical Reliability of Genesis," a fifty page paper; and, "The Answer to Womanís Lib--Womanís Call," a thirteen page paper. These papers in every case have not brought the inquires to a saving knowledge of who Jesus is, but they have helped the Ecologist to see how the simplicity of the Gospel is the answer to manís problems. Now it is a simple matter of decision to receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord or to reject Him. But it took me years of research through Jesusí guidance through the Holy Spirit to make the simple Gospel simple to the ears of the person I was sharing Jesus with. In this way preaching the Gospel involves commitment and hard work; hours of prayer and research through the leading of the Holy Spirit if one is to be successful in the place of ministry God has placed Him.

THE WORD OF JESUS COMMANDS IT

A fourth reason to pursue Jesus for a knowledge of the truth is because the Word of Jesus commands it. Paul writes in the book of Colossians 3:16,

"Let the Word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

Again in 2 Timothy 2:15,

"Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the Word of Truth."

Jesus said in the Gospel of John, "He who is of God, hears the words of God. . ." (John 8:47). Jesus commands us in His Word that we are to let the Word of God richly dwell within us and that we are to study the Word of God thoroughly to make sure that our conclusions are right within the total context of Scripture. Paul the Apostle admonished Timothy,

"Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; persevere in these things; for as you do this you will insure salvation both for yourself and for those who hear you." (1 Tim 4:16).

The important thing here for us to understand, is that Jesus wants us to submit our daily study of the Word of God and our pursuit of a knowledge of the truth to Him, and allow Him by His Holy Spirit to lead us into the present study of the Word of God and of the truth He wants us to have; and into the confirmation of that study within the total context of Scripture.

Study Question
Chapter 3
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