A challenge to the body of Christ to get active in sharing the Gospel!
In the last month I have had the privilege of speaking at two of the largest apologetics conferences in the country, the Truth for a New Generation Conference and the National Conference on Apologetics. In doing so, I could not help but notice how the Holy Spirit worked in and through the lives of many of the nation’s top apologists to bring a common theme to the Church in general, and to Christians in particular. Anyone who attended either conference would have to wonder if the speakers got together to figure out how to speak about the same thing in different and non-repetitive ways. As a speaker, I can assure you that no such planning ever happened. What happened was even greater—it was the Holy Spirit’s prompting each of us to utter the message that is most urgently needed at such a time as this in our country.
What is that message? I believe there were two things the Holy Spirit wanted to imbed in our hearts. First, WE MUST ENGAGE OUR CULTURE! God has not called us to bury the light of truth, but rather to lift it up so that all may see. Jesus was clear about that in the Sermon on the Mount when He not only challenged us to step-up and be the light, but also to be the salt of the Earth. Paul joined the choir of heavenly exhortations when he challenged us to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ and to demolish every argument and prideful attitude that raised itself against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). Boy, is that a message for today or what? However, as was pointed out by Erwin Lutzer, Sean McDowell, Lee Strobel, the various members of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Carmen Fowler Laberge, and so many other apologists, we must temper our approach with love. Peter said it best, when we respond to those who ask, let us do it with meekness and fear (1 Peter 3:15). Another way of saying that is we must speak with gentleness and respect! Too often, our attitude and/or our behavior extinguishes the light and we find ourselves modeling a version of Christianity that alienates the lost rather than attracting them.
Second, WE MUST FOCUS ON THE REAL ENEMY! Instead of attacking each other, we must engage the ideas that are destroying the very foundations of our nation. We may not agree with some or many of the voices that God has raised up to preach, teach, and defend the faith but a careful consideration of our differences will make it obvious that often times we disagree about non-essentials. While I do not advocate the compromise of the essential tenets of our faith, I do believe that instead of fighting each other, we should focus on the real enemy and the lies he has so cleverly planted in the hearts the lost.
We have the TRUTH and with it comes a great responsibility! I think the key question to ask would be, “Is it wise to spend so much of our time and energy and valuable resources arguing about denominational differences and eschatological dilemmas when there are friends, family and so many children, teens and young adults who do not know Christ?” The Church seems to have lost its focus. Jesus commissioned us to the ministry of reconciling the lost to Him. We are called to be the ambassadors of the Good News to a lost and dying world not the public critics of other Christians and ministries!
As a theologian and an apologist, I value the purity of doctrine and I understand the need to stand firm on the faith once given. The truth must not be compromised—that is a given! However, we should support and join forces with those who stand firm on the essential doctrines of God’s Word and focus on winning the lost to Christ. Regarding those who have gone astray on the essential doctrines, we can either deal with them privately, or let God handle it! Being public critics has a devastating effect on the lost. As one young man told me recently, “How can you talk to me about the “truth” of the Christian faith, when you guys are always fighting each other over the what the truth is? You guys can’t even agree on what is true!” While this may not be an accurate assessment of Christianity, it is nevertheless, the perception of many, particularly the youth, and it hurts the cause. Even more tragic—souls are going to hell while we fuss about comparably insignificant stuff. Let’s change strategies–think about it this way, if we invest all of our time, energy and resources in reaching the lost with the Gospel, discipling them and showing them how to live for Christ—then the truth of God’s Word will thrive and the darkness will be pushed back!
I believe that is what the Holy Spirit of God is speaking to the Church. The message is loud and clear!
Dr. Juan Valdes is a bi-lingual speaker for Reasons for Hope (English and Spanish) and the senior pastor of a Spanish-speaking congregation in Miami, Florida. He has taught Theology, Bible and Apologetics at the seminary level in both English and Spanish and speaks regularly across the country and internationally at Pastor’s Conferences, Youth Conferences, Apologetics Conferences and local church events. Juan, his wife Daisy and their children, Juan Elias and Jessica serve in multiple areas of ministry in Miami, Florida.