It is very interesting sometimes how you sometimes don’t find what you were looking for when doing research–but find something else instead that triggers a whole new line of thought…
For example, I just stumbled across a blog post somewhere where someone, very plainly, said something like this (this is not an exact quote), “I am miserable. I can’t find peace. I have no stability in my emotions or in my life. I want rest more than anything else in the world. But I am a failure. And I am the cause of my failures. I have coldly planned them all. I have hurt people on purpose. I have no friends or family I can really depend on–and they can’t depend on me, either. I have not forgiven anybody anything they have done against me–and I haven’t forgiven myself, either. I want to be able to sleep. My dreams are as bad or worse than the sleeplessness. Maybe things will look better later on–though I’m not counting on it.”
Compare that to how the Apostle Paul describes the unbeliever:
“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them…they show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…” (Romans 1:28-32 and 2:15).
My heart is moved by this person’s miserable longing for rest while yet clinging to that which enslaves him–his angry, self-serving pride. In the whole display, this person never once expressed a desire to escape sin or to become righteous or to seek forgiveness–even though an acknowledgment of personal guilt is very clearly manifested. I suspect that Jesus’ declaration that all who come to him shall find rest under his rule would seem a merely a vain mockery to this individual.
Far, far too many Reformed people seem to live in a way that neither addresses nor understands that this is the heart of the world. We shall not win our neighbor’s hearts by using emotional Finneyesque techniques–we shall not win their hearts using rationalist arguments for the existence of God and the validity of the Scriptures–we shall not win their hearts becoming attractive to them–we shall not win their hearts by putting all our emphasis on the church or on Christian families or on worship or on personal sanctification or on becoming relevant in the culture–we shall not win them with relationships or programs or music or anything else.
How then shall we win them?
But shall we win them?
Anyways, there is a primary method God has established in his Word for the calling of new disciples into his kingdom. It is the same way of bringing peace to the troubled nations that God has used for centuries–the foolishness of the preaching of the word of the gospel.
“But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?…So faith comes from hearing, and hearing throught the word of Christ”(Romans 10:14, 15, 17).
If previous times of reformation and revival are any example at all, we can expect the Holy Spirit to work more powerfully when we have faithful, compassionate, wise, praying, and knowledgeable preachers of God’s Word and his Christ.
But we do have some such men. Is it possible that reformation tarries because we–the Christians in the pews–are not ready for it?
Maybe we don’t understand we are praying for when we we ask for revival–if we pray for it at all. For where there is revival of the truth, there is also a revival of falsehood. Are we (I’m not talking about our preachers here, but people like me, the people in the pews, whether old, young, ugly, beautiful, short, or tall)–are we able and ready to stand up and give a defense for the hope that is within us?
Can we speak the Word to the person whose heart is so addicted to pride that he simply can’t imagine life without it? Can we see through the sublty of the errors of the devil?
Do we love God enough to study the truth? Do we love our neighbor enough to speak the truth?