Saturday, March 08, 2008

What We Know Pleases God

Harold Redd at the Affirming the Faith Seminar in OKC recently said something very worth repeating:

"We need to be far more focused in our Bible study on what pleases God rather than on what God allows."

I fear that much of the so-called scholarship of our day is focused more on expanding our accommodation to culture than it is on learning what God desires from us. Some seem more free to offend God than they do the person they are trying to reach. When "reaching out" to the world becomes more missional than pleasing God, any worldly thing can be justified.

In the emerging church movement, some "pastors" have begun using profane language, drinking a beer now and then, and watching sexually explicit movies, so that they don't appear to be too righteous to others of the world.

Wait! I thought we were to be salt and light! (Matt. 5:13-16) I thought our righteousness was exceed the hypocrites! I thought we were not to be conformed to the world but transformed by renewing our minds (Rom. 12:1-2). I thought we were not to love the world (1 John 2:15-17)!

Well, that's what I get for thinking. These elites have learned that unsalty salt works better than salty salt. Imagine that! I can draw closer to God by pulling further away! Of course, in such matters everything is so muddy, we can't really know anything for certain. Just ask any postmodernist!

I frankly am weary of asking a postmodernist or the public how to be a Christian and how to please God. The postmodernist doesn't know and can't know anything lest he offend someone; and the public changes with the wind. I, for one, am far more concerned about what pleases God. We can know His will. It is not so difficult (Deut. 30:11-20). We are not Christian agnostics; Jesus promised that we can know the truth (John 8:31-32). He has revealed himself in Christ, so that Paul said he had preached the whole counsel of God to the Ephesians (Acts 20:20, 27). Paul knew it well enough to call anyone who tampered with the word of God disgraceful and underhanded (2 Cor. 4:1-3).

The question is not what we can know--we can know what pleases God, because He has told us in His word. The question is whether we are willing to walk in God's ways or whether we will tamper with the word of God in order to accommodate the world.

If we reach out with a bleached out message, we may get a crowd; but they won't be converted to the gospel. They will be converted to a bleached out, powerless human message. I fear in many cases today's form of the gospel makes "Samaritan" who know a little of God but serve other gods. They are ever learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.



Terry said...

You made some very good points (especially about who is most important...God). Thanks!

dell said...

What an awesome quote from Harold Redd! Thanks for the post. May God continue to bless your work.

Steve Higginbotham said...

Hi Phil,
Good post. I too have often wondered why we, the people of God, would turn to a worldly,secular society which knows little to nothing about spirituality and God, and seek their advice for how we should worship our God.

Matt Dowling said...

Thanks Phil.

I feel confused by the "emerging" philosophers and their intentions and it will be curious to see whether this drags many away or if it benefits the church. Having recently spent deep study time in Matthew 5, I feel that more than ever, we need to focus less on ourselves and more on what Jesus wants us to be as citizens in His Kingdom. Thank you for the post.

Anonymous said...

Jesus is the only person who ever lived who pleased God all the time. Facts and simple commands are certainly part of the truth, but Jesus said, "I am the truth." Thats why no matter what conclusions i have made concerning God's commands I always understand I will never fully arrive at the truth until I fully know Jesus Christ. We can know what pleases God, by looking at Jesus thrugh God's word. It just seems to me so many in the church are convinced they have arrived at truth by simply following the clear and simple commands we have in scripture. Its more than that. And it is something only the crucified Son of God ever attained. peace

Phil Sanders said...

throwing up my hands and acting like I am such a failure that I will make no attempt is foolishness. Saying that the word of God is so difficult that no one can understand it is the devil's lie.

No one is here claiming perfect knowledge; but we do not have to know everything to know something. God has not led us to continual confusion but to peace with confidence. We can have the peace that passes understanding through a loving relationship with the Lord. Let us not fall into some false humility by acting like we are children.

A cursory reading of the New Testament does not leave this false sense of agnosticism I sense in pomo society. Epaphras' prayer in Col. 4:12; John's assertion in 1 John 2:20, 27; Paul's confidence in Phil. 3:15; and the Hebrew writer's assertions in Hebrews 11 shows that we can know what God tells us. Mature people have their senses trained to discern between good and evil (Heb. 5:12-14).

There is no trust in ignorance. Trust arises out of understanding the One who speaks and what He has said, so that Paul could say I believe God. I believe God.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your response and didnt intend to reply, your response left me no option. It seems you are saying in first paragraph of your reply, I am throwing up my hands in defeat, and in fact have even quit trying. I never said the word of God is so difficult one cannot understand it. I believe in God and in his word. To say I dont completly understand therefore I lack confidence to me demonstrates the problem. I have great confidence in God, in spite of my struggle to become the person God calls me to be. You see my confidence is in God, not in me. Sometimes I find what the apostle Paul writes difficult to understand, I must be in pretty good company. The first thing Jesus ever taught is those who are poor in their own spirt are blessed. This dosent mean we give up, it means our confidence is in God, not ourselves. The greatest hurdle for many to become the person God wants them to be is to move our confidence from ourselves to God. I think thats what faith is.

Phil Sanders said...

Dear Philip,
Thanks for replying. My comments were not so much aimed at you as it is those who use the arguments you have used. There are people who have thrown up their hands out of some misinformed commitment to deconstruction theory and language theory. They do not believe God-talk is possible, since God is infinite and we are not, on one hand. On the other hand, there are people who are more concerned with others than they are with seeking truth, so they choose an agnostic position to keep from offending.

I realize that we are all growing and learning. Yes, even Peter thought Paul hard to understand but not impossible to understand. There were the mature, the functionally perfect, who did understand and could say "I know..."

Having confidence is God is all important, but let's also acknowledge that God has confidence in us--enough to reveal His will to us. God has not given us something so difficult that we cannot understand (Eph. 3:1-10; Deut. 30:11-15). If we go into a false sense of humility (as some have done) and claim we don't know, how will we be able to confess any trust in Jesus' promise that we shall know the truth?

David Kirk said...

Thanks for your wisdom!