For it is by grace you have been saved...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Neutrality is Not an Option: Acts 4 & the Culture War

I realize that having “heroes” can be dangerously close to idolatry. I have often been reminded that I quote Charles Spurgeon way too often. He was only a man (boy it’s hard to type that), and I need to remember that. While we should look to those saints who have stood for truth, etc. and “imitate the outcome of their faith” as Hebrews 13:7 says, we need not to exalt them above Scripture and so on.

I’m doing better, for the most part. But then guys like Voddie Baucham come along and I find myself bordering on hero worship again. At the recent family conference in Branson I nearly acted like a star-crazed fan in the presence of a rock star or something when I got the chance to shake hands with the man whose teaching has had a great impact on me in the last couple years.

It started after I watch a video of the message he delivered at a gathering of Baptists in Texas. It was a conference on Evangelism, I believe, and Voddie was actually a last minute replacement for (of all people) Tim Lahaye. Those folks never saw it coming. Baucham delivered a out-of-the-park message on the centrality of the home in the discipleship of the next generation. Amazing stuff! Follow that up with one of the best books I’ve read in recent years, Family Driven Faith, and here I go with the hero stuff again.

Anyway, all of that is not the point, I guess. Voddie’s first session at this recent conference was on the issue of the Culture War, and he based it on Acts chapter 4: Peter and John before the Sanhedrin. He showed how similar their situation is to the culture we find ourselves in today. They were called “unschooled, common” men, which is the same thing we are called today if we fail to acknowledge the “acceptable” doctrines of evolution, religious relativism, tolerance, and philosophical pluralism.

The key was the idea that “neutrality is not an option.” It wasn’t an option for the Jews of the day. They had to deal with these rebels who were stirring things up and risking the wrath of Rome. It was not an option for Peter and John, who when commanded not to speak the name of Jesus politely refused. And today, there is no room for neutrality either. The culture says we must accept those doctrines mentioned above. We must accept their worldview or be labeled intolerant, ignorant, etc.

Yet, according to Baucham, this is where the similarities between their story and ours end. Because while Peter and John replied “we can’t help but proclaim what we have seen and heard,” the church of today has said, “OK, maybe we will be quiet. We’ll just witness with our lifestyle, or we’ll just wait until we have more godly men elected to higher offices, etc.”

I loved the example he used. Basically, he said we act like we could just go about our business, mowing our lawn, and neighbor will be so moved by the way we mow our lawn that they will rush over to us and say, “I am so impressed with the way you mow your lawn, what must I do to be saved?”

Obviously that’s an exaggeration. Certainly we must live lives worthy of the Gospel, and it does have an influence on our witness. As far as that goes, it’s probably even good for us to mow our lawns well. But I digress…

The point is, we are too reluctant to open our mouths. We care too much about what the world thinks of us. We want to fit in. The early church cared nothing about fitting in. They would rather die than not speak of what they had seen and heard. In fact, in the face of their persecution they prayed not for the persecution to be lifted, but for boldness to open their mouths regardless of the consequences.

We, on the other hand expect not to be persecuted. We forget that persecution is promised to those who are faithful. We need to stop listening to the health and wealth, comfort and convenience gospel of our day and preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Neutrality is not an option. We need to be more bold, like Peter and John. As Dr. Baucham concluded, we must have faith in a Sovereign Lord, and ask Him for boldness to proclaim the truth of Christ . . . that will win the Culture War.


Applied Christianity said...

You should submit this to the Christian Carnival. It is a multi-denominational thing where people submit their best article of the week. All of the articles are posted at one blog (it changes every week). Here is the link. If you want to do it, it wil have to be today (as the carnival is tomorrow).

I think Christians need to hear this message.

Scott said...

Thanks for that encouragement. I'll check it out.

Ray said...

I hate to brag, but Voddie Baucham is one of my elders here at GfBC. :-)

Scott said...

Brag away, Ray!
I would say you are very blessed.
I'd love to visit with you sometime about how you guys "do church" there at Grace. Let me know if you're interested.

Ray said...

Hi Scott.

It would be a privilege. Shoot me a mail (from my blogger profile page) and perhaps we can hook up over phone sometime.

stand firm in Christ!