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altar life

Altar Life

Elijah knew the importance of the altar. In 1 Kings 18, he repaired the altar after the prophets of Baal had destroyed it. An altar is a place of sacrifice, worship, and a memorial. It is a designated place to have an encounter with our Savior; a place of exchange. Gripping the edges of the altar in reverence, we see the true nature of sacrifice. Positioned with care, the sacrifice is put to death while the guilty are set free. Blood cleans the ugly stain of sin.

The altar is a place to meet God and offer that which pleases Him, at great cost to the giver. The sacrifice in the Old Testament was tied and ceremonially prepared to spill blood to atone for sin. One had to pay the ultimate price so the other could go free. The offering was surrendered as healthy, full of life. Fire came and consumed the offering in satisfaction. Standing in worship, discovery begins in the fear of the Lord, and the fire from above then burns within our hearts.

Personal Altar

Often, the Israelites built an altar after miracles, as a reminder of God’s faithfulness for those that followed. We must have a personal altar. We must have a place to meet God and to lay all things before Him so nothing is in competition with Him.

There are no shortcuts or gimmicks at the altar; Christ has preeminence. In worship, we offer all of ourselves and He gives us all of himself. As Abraham offered his most precious gift to the Lord, he discovered God’s answer and perfect provision.

The place where we meet God is such a sacred place! In Hebrews 13:10, an exchange of life takes place. At the altar, there is the spilling of blood, a death, a burning and an accepted blessing. In this place of absolute surrender, we enter true understanding. Rhetoric and superficiality is exchanged for experiential power.

Having an inner altar means we take time and surrender those things most precious to us before God. In so doing, we are saying “nothing is in competition with You; You have preeminence, Lord; I am yours and yours alone.” Our worship and prayers and the pouring out of our hearts is like sweet incense to God in Psalms 141:2.

This altar life releases fire and power from above. We learn to trust that His best is far greater than anything we could manufacture or preserve. This is radical but revolutionary! We are casting everything onto the Lord so that we are free to walk in providential liberty. We lay our whole heart and expectation upon the altar at His feet.

The result is a personal understanding of how we are loved by God. We then can love Him with our heart, mind, soul, and strength. Until we do this, we will be double-minded and having one hand on everything rather than being completely surrendered to Him.

Exchanged Life

Without an altar, our problems and difficulties will consume us. The lie of trying to manage our sin or guilt will wear out any saint. God’s provision is His altar where the guilty are made free and the ashes are removed, and beauty is seen. Burdens are released and we can walk in the liberty of the Spirit, as in Galatians 5:1.

In this place of true surrender, there is an unspeakable joy. At the altar, being conquered (or persuaded) is essential to the exchanged life. We let go of our own ways and we cling to the Almighty. We become a living sacrifice—an offering of praise, alive to God (Romans 6:11).

Living from the Altar

Humility, teachability, and willingness are all the results of a surrendered, submitted life that stands in awe of the greatness of God. Awe leads us to focus and come under the authority of truth and we are moved in the Spirit.

As worshipers, we are amazed at who God is.  As we move “out of the way,” His beauty begins to shine through our broken vessel. In brokenness, we reveal the true treasure and commune with His perfect life.

Life can be defined sometimes as controlled chaos. It is a myth to think we are in control. We will never understand the destiny of why things can enter our lives until we commit them back to God. We begin to learn to rest in knowing that the consequences are the Lord’s and He knows exactly what we need. With all our knowledge, we can do it our way, but one thing is lacking—the process of being conformed to the image of His dear Son. As we “let go and let God,” trust is born and we hold on to earthly things loosely.

There is pain at the altar. A divine perspective of pain is that it can show us a new destiny. A nailed scarred, pierced Christ, who endured all manner of troubles, wants to carry our pain—for the chastisement of our peace was upon Him (Isaiah 53:5). He is the Man of Sorrows, bearing all our grief so that we are made free. So many live in pain; Jesus comforts all who mourn and unfolds His purpose in the most difficult trials.

Bringing us to new depths with God is the destiny of the altar life.

In 2 Timothy 1:12, we see when something is committed to Him, He becomes the caretaker of it. We give back situations, people and our greatest fears, then we look unto Jesus in worship and He consumes our offering.

A ministry comes from the altar life. As we minister to God, the “fire” or “overflow” goes to others. The apostle Paul declares, “Death worketh in us but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:12)

“Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy….” (Psalms 43:3-4 KJV)

Let go of those precious things that detract from the fervent flame and put them into the hands of Jesus. Let Him be the divine caretaker and protector of your soul. We give Him our ashes and He gives us His beauty. Hold nothing back, lay it all down at the altar—true rest is waiting.

“The altar—the lonely place where I lay my burdens down. There, my foolish heart finds sanctuary. Stillness and calm capture my heart as I lay down myself and in death resurrected life begins.”

Passionate about reaching people from all walks of life, Jason Moore has been involved in worldwide mission work and discipleship since the age of sixteen. While living in Ukraine, he completed his internship in church planting, resulting in three new churches that continue to thrive today. As a graduate of Maryland Bible College and Seminary with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies, he leads the Pastoral Care team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore, MD. He serves as a guest speaker in churches throughout the United States and overseas. With his wife, Leah, and son, Carson, he is dedicated to guiding people in discovering the riches of God’s grace. He may be reached through www.jasonfmoore.com.

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inner revolution

Inner Revolution

The prophet Jeremiah had a deep struggle with his burdens. He wrestled with God in Jeremiah 20:9 “But if I say I’ll never mention the LORD or speak in his name, his word burns in my heart like a fire. It’s like a fire in my bones! I am worn out trying to hold it in! I can’t do it.”

I love the imagery here. It’s as if Jeremiah was trying to hold back a volcano in his heart.

In this verse, we see that the more Jeremiah wrestled, the more God’s WORD stirred him up! The mystery of God’s work in Jeremiah’s life was undeniable. God’s endless life is uncontainable! God was doing a secret work that was becoming an outward manifestation.

This hidden work is what I like to refer to as an “Inner Revolution.”

Inner + Revolution

We can know God theoretically through facts and theories but to fellowship with Him as Savior, Father, and friend is what touches our hearts. Our understanding of who He is brings comfort. We begin to recognize that He is touched with all our infirmities and went through all things to identify with us. As we grasp this, we shift from self being our center to allowing Christ to be the eternal center, the One in control.

The consequence is revolutionary.  Wisdom, peace, joy, love, gentleness, patience and meekness are all fruits and qualities that come from this eternal source. We can generate fragments of these fruits temporarily, but if they are to last, they must come from an inner life where God produces real strength. Without wonder, our knowledge is limited and reduced to information that does not touch our hearts.

As we believe, embrace, and fellowship with God, these qualities are transferred from the inner man to our outer lives. We then live in the effect and power of these fruits, and they govern our heart, and we begin to thrive.

In Isaiah 64:7, “And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirs up himself to take hold of thee.” This is a shocking reality that we can all relate to today. God is ready to do so much more than we can ask or think.

The prophet Amos also testifies in Amos 8:11: “’The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign LORD, ‘when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.’”

Be Stirred

To be stirred-up is to live in the authority of the Spirit in our lives; to remind, rehearse and repeat to ourselves God’s promises; this will bring us deeper into a personal revelation of who He is in us.

A personal revelation is when we go beyond the knowledge of something, and we experience the life of the nature of God. Our heart is deeply touched, and there is a transference of life and wisdom.

There is the difference between knowing God theologically, based upon biblical facts, and knowing Him personally, through personal impartation.

As we discover the greatness of God and are aware of His presence, we stand in awe, and we are surprised by how good He is. Through such childlikeness, faith renewal comes, and we have a new insight that produces understanding, drawing us into the life of God.

Here are some ways to stir up yourself

  • Faith Promises: Who God is will complete His promises to us.
  • Thankfulness: Remember what God has done.
  • When the promise is fulfilled it will be divine timing.
  • Eternal Purpose: Remember why God has you where you are.
  • Where revival starts with us, then others.
  • How things unfold is God’s business, not mine.
  • People: Examples in your life that show you a living Christ.

Inner Revolution (defined)

This term describes the cause and impact of what we orbit around, and this produces radical results. The image of what we put at our center changes us. Think of an inner revolution or revival where areas of life that were once inactive are now passionately involved.

We may feel as if we are on fire. The wounded can love again. The untrusting can choose to be vulnerable and trust again. The unforgiving can release their burdens of self-justification and swallow injustice, knowing that Christ is God. He turns the bitter experience to a sweet purpose.

This radical change happens through a more profound death where we allow the Holy Spirit to take charge of all our rights and outcomes. We seek His face and the result is resurrection life.

As we radically rely upon the Lord, we become a testimony to the mystery of Christ.

Religion doesn’t produce revolution because its foundation is fairness and man’s best efforts.

Revolution happens as we are changed into the absolute truth of what we believe.

God brings us to the place of growth where we live in the meaning of what we believe.

Burdens to Burnings

We all have things we wrestle with—challenges we can’t change, such as people, problems or besetting sin. Burdens can be defined as anything that weighs you down and steals your strength and hope from God.

It starts with a distraction to capture our attention, then as we focus on that distraction it skews and misinterprets what we see.

This gives an opportunity for fear, guilt, and shame to rush in. We begin to move away in our heart as the weight bears down.

Burdens have a useful function in our lives—they can bring us closer to Jesus. None of us like friction, but often it is necessary.

Like the matchstick, carbon needs friction to set it ablaze.

Jesus often allows circumstances beyond of our control to be used as a roadway back to Him. If we walk alone, we will be crushed and overwhelmed by our troubles. The devil’s ultimate plan for burdens is to “wear out the saints” (Daniel 7:25).

Soul Care

When you love someone, you can sense their burdens. Often when one is in pain, we feel it too. Jesus felt every one of our infirmities in Hebrews 4:15 and he promises to be our sustaining power in Isaiah 63:9.

Knowledge of needs can touch our hearts and even give an attitude of concern, but through wrestling, in prayer, our burdens turn to burning. When this Inner Revolution touches our heart, we move with compassion—we are ignited and we help ignite others.

Love and grace are more than just words; they are healing agents of change.

God’s master plan is taking those weights and turn them into momentum that moves us forward. What was meant to hold us back, propels us forward!

Even when facing insurmountable odds, God carries us through. (Ezekiel 47:2-5)

Joseph shares with his brothers, in Genesis 50:20 “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” The prophet Isaiah in 58:17 declares “no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice raised up to accuse you.”  These verses point to divine reversals that come through prayer. Prayer shows us the unseen reality and purposes of God and His way through the burdens of life.

Here are some healthy questions to keep your heart on fire:

  • Heart Change – What is our focus on change? Real transformation comes as our heart changes not our behavior alone.
  • Perspective Change – Is God in the driver seat? Letting go is the beginning of restoration.
  • Language Change – Are our words creating something or defeating us?
  • Attitude Change – What is my filter? Attitude determines how I interpret things in our everyday lives.
  • Time Change – Build on small things that encourage you!

Do you see the progression here? Our situations may not change, but WE do! Just like Moses who stood in awe of the burning bush – so will others, who sit in darkness, notice the light burning brightly in you.

Continue focusing on God’s thoughts about you, this allows His light to shine through these jars of clay.

Passionate about reaching people from all walks of life, Jason Moore has been involved in worldwide mission work and discipleship since the age of sixteen. While living in Ukraine, he completed his internship in church planting, resulting in three new churches that continue to thrive today. As a graduate of Maryland Bible College and Seminary with a Bachelor’s in Biblical Studies, he leads the Pastoral Care team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore, MD. He serves as a guest speaker in churches throughout the United States and overseas. With his wife, Leah, and son, Carson, he is dedicated to guiding people in discovering the riches of God’s grace. He may be reached through www.jasonfmoore.com.

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is faith in God possible

Faith in God – Is it Possible?

Does it make sense to have faith in God? Is it possible to release all our fears and failures into God’s hands? Each time those questions are asked, the answer is always, “Yes.” There are times in our lives when the road ahead seems uncertain; when the answers we desperately seek are elusive. As long as we depend upon our own understanding and reasoning, our faith will waiver.

We may not always agree with what happens to us, we may not understand why, but we can rest assured in knowing that our God knows what He’s doing. Philippians 4:6 “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

Just because we may not always see His hands at work in our lives, it doesn’t mean He’s not working! Just because we can’t see the light at the end of this trial, or the calm after this storm, it doesn’t mean that it never will come.

The enemy will constantly lie to us. His mission in life is to completely destroy our lives. He’ll whisper in our ears that things are hopeless and will never change, but these are all lies from the pit of hell! The Bible assures us in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

God’s ways are incomprehensible: “‘My thoughts are completely different from yours,’ says the Lord. ‘And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine…my ways [are] higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts'” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

We are so precious to God that His highest thoughts are about us; they can’t be counted (Psalm 139:17-18). Knowing that God is our loving Heavenly Father makes it easier to release control of our lives to Him. Peace comes when we place our faith in God, not man.

We go from victory to victory in our walk with the Lord because every battle we face truly does belong to Him. A war may be raging all around us, but as Christians, we have confidence in knowing the war of our souls has already been won.

The truth is that God will come through for us; we are never hopeless; and what the enemy intends for evil against us, God will turn around and use for our good! (See Genesis 50:20.) Our mission as Christians is to “know God and make God known,” not be bummed out and defeated due to stress, worry and anxiety.

As sons and daughters of the Most High King, we need to stand on the promise found in Romans 8:28. God is working everything we’re going through together for our good! So, when the trials and testing comes, we need not be moved by them. We can trust our unknown future, to our known God! We can be, steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. We can walk by faith, confident our Savior has never let us down and He never will.

Faith in God – Believing the Impossible

There will be times when our faith in God requires us to believe in the impossible. Sarah and Mary both experienced impossible circumstances. Though barren, at 90, Sarah became pregnant, fulfilling God’s promise as well as an oath (Hebrews 6:17-18). Abraham’s descendants would multiply into countless millions. God’s promises bring hope.

In fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14, the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary (Luke 1:31-32). Through an innocent girl, the Savior of mankind entered the world. In every case, faith in God requires us to anticipate answers that are infinite and eternal — believing all things are possible.

What About Those Who Don’t Know the Lord?

People in the world who don’t have Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are left for themselves. They might get the job they applied for, they might get through that stressful situation in their lives, they might make it safely through another day, but they also might not. As for believers, with the Alpha and the Omega, with the Beginning and the End leading our way, our provision, protection and salvation are all guaranteed. Isn’t it reassuring we have direct access to Jesus and that we can call upon Him for help every second of every day? Worrying doesn’t change anything we are worrying about. It only makes us stressed out, uptight and emotionally up and down.

Worrying makes us so bummed out that we get to the point where we no longer are reaching out to others because we are so consumed with ourselves. In Jeremiah 29:11, God said, “For I know the thoughts I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

“We need to turn our mirror into a window.” We need to start looking above the “rubbish” that we’re worrying about and look to God. When we do, we’re able to reach out and help those around us and begin to see the “good” and “bad” seasons in our lives through God’s eyes, not our own. If it’s the Lord’s will you get a job with over one hundred other applicants applying, you will be the one selected. If it’s the Lord’s will you get a kidney transplant now even though you’ve been on a three-year waiting list, your name will be moved to the top. If the doctors say you have terminal cancer and there is no cure, God can touch you and heal you instantly! Worrying only causes us to doubt God’s faithfulness, become paralyzed with discouragement and get depressed.

Faith in God – Making It Personal

Our faith in God intensifies when we invite Jesus into our lives. In accepting that God’s ways are far better than our own, we can release that we cannot manipulate or guarantee — our future. Choosing to release control to the only One who is the Way, Truth and Life give us peace and security. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not onto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths.”

With faith in God, through His Son, we then can say, “I myself no longer live, but Christ lives in me. So I live my life in the earthly body by trusting the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

God has You in the Palm of His Hand

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved. But thou, O God, shalt bring them down into the pit of destruction: bloody and deceitful men shall not live out half their days; but I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 55:22-23)

So whatever you’re stressing out about; stop. Whatever you’re worrying about; don’t.

We have a strong God, so let’s start giving Him everything that’s weighing us down. Let’s choose to lift up our eyes to our Lord and cast all these cares down at the foot of His cross. Let’s choose to let go and let God, believing that no matter what, our God’s love for us is unconditional, constant, eternal and will remain. Jesus Christ is our Good Shepherd and promises to sustain us, provide for us, protect us and never leave us. “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

And Psalm 138:8 assures us that “God will perfect all that concerns us,” so let’s stop worrying and trust Him to.

Our heavenly Father takes care of the birds of the air. He takes care of the lilies in the field. He knows what we have need of and will surely take care of you and me.

Wake-Up Call

We’re living in the last days and Satan knows his time here on earth is short. He may be relentless in his attacks against us, but our God will not relent in coming to our defense as well!


Contribution by a talented author and sister in Christ who has asked to remain anonymous. (Her name might be Amelia.)

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joseph did you know

Joseph, did you know?

Contributed by Joe Kwiatkowski.

An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew 1:20-21

I have three children. Multiple times a week I think about who my three little girls will become as they grow into adulthood. I pray that they will pursue Jesus with all they have and the Gospel will drive their decision making. I can honestly say that I have enjoyed every “phase” each of my children have gone through in their young lives. Yes, it’s crazy at times and I have “bad” days as a parent. Yet, I embrace each season as it comes. Each season leads to and upon the next season, leading me to look forward even more, to seeing the unknown take fruition in their lives.

I’ve sat back in awe as I listened to my oldest daughter read for the first time. I stood in amazement as, on her own, she stated she wanted her training wheels off of her bike. I took them off and sure enough, she rode by herself without the training wheels and with no help from her Daddy. All I could do was stand there, hands on my hips, and smile. My middle child started school in August and I have been blown away by the amount of learning that has taken place since she has started. From barely being able to even trace letters to writing her complete name, out of nowhere. Recently I had the luxury of watching my baby eat pureed food for the first time. She was fed by her older two sisters. (Who’s cutting onions in here?)

While taking a shower the other day and listening to Little Drummer Boy, I told you the shower was my place of enlightenment, I began to think about Joseph. Joseph is barely mentioned after the nativity story in the Gospels so we don’t know much about him after Jesus is born. Scripture tells us repeatedly that Mary stored up, and treasured and “pondered” moments with Jesus while he grew, but Scripture doesn’t tell us much about Joseph. Listening to the words of the song, I pictured Joseph standing in the manger while the wise men brought Jesus precious metals, jewels and fragrances. I picture Joseph perplexed but in awe as the lowly shepherds show up, coming out from the hills to bow down before their King.  I picture Joseph, up with Mary in the middle night while she was feeding Jesus, staring at the amazingly beautiful star that had stopped directly over the stable, himself pondering, treasuring and storing up in his heart the very things God had promised him and his people many years before via the prophets of old.

  • Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. -Micah 5:2
  • “The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.” -Jeremiah 23:5
  • For unto us a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6
  • So he assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people and asked them where the Christ would be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they told him, “because this is what was written by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah:Because out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” -Matthew 2:4-6
  • But the LORD will still give you proof. A virgin is pregnant; she will have a son and will name him Immanuel. -Isaiah 7:14

The Christmas season is a magical time of year. It is a time filled with wonder, beauty and expectation. The decorations, music, lights, and–for my northern family and friends–the snow just add to the beauty and majesty. This is a time where we as Christians are presented with multiple months to be more intentional in focusing on the same hope that was given to Joseph that starry night over two-thousand years ago. This is a time where we get to celebrate the coming of the One who created all, who is above all, and who holds everything together (Colossians 1:15-20). This is the time where we bask in the wonder of the humility of his coming, the ordinariness and extravagance of his life, and the simplicity of the purpose of his coming which he has given us in his Gospel.

I would imagine it would have been a crazy time for Joseph leading up to Christ’s birth. They have been traveling for an extended period of time. Joseph, because of the man he was, probably didn’t have much time off of his feet as I’m sure he made sure Mary was the one traveling on the back of the mule when permitted during their travel. He was lugging around most of his belongings. He most likely was in “husband-dad protection mode” as they traveled through dangerous valleys and attempted to sleep during the night. Did I mention Mary was also nine months pregnant? So, at some point Mary tells Joseph that “the baby is coming!” and Joseph had to scramble to find a place for his wife before she goes into full blown labor. As we read in Scripture they were denied a place to stay in the inns because the rooms were full from everyone else traveling. Can you imagine the emotions running through his body? He’s probably exhausted, hungry and sleep deprived and now he can’t find a room!  Finally, one of the innkeepers tells him if they really need a place they can use the stable–by the way, it was most likely a cave where the animals would eat and sleep at night. As they get there, I would imagine Mary saying something along the lines of  “this will do just fine,” and soon after she gives birth to the Promised One.

I’m sure Joseph at times, no matter how noble and righteous he was, felt overwhelmed, inadequate, stressed, and felt like he lacked the ability to be responsible for what he was going through and what was before him, no matter how joyous it would be after those menial trials were over. In the midst of the magical wonder of our Christmas season, we as Christians are susceptible to the commercial mentality of the season and are also susceptible to compromise the joyous reason to why we celebrate Christmas in the first place. Often, we give useless gifts at Christmas, because it’s expected of us, and we feel guilty if we don’t. And the closer we get to Christmas, the pressure to give these  gifts builds and we feel depressed and unworthy if we can’t give to the level we feel, or the culture makes us feel, is necessary. In reality, these things are not necessary. The pressure is unnecessary. The stress is unnecessary. What is necessary during this time, is to not let the distraction and pressures of our culture’s “Christmas” take precedence in our lives and to not neglect to be ever conscious that the root word in “Christmas” is Christ.

For, over two thousand years ago, “in the city of David a Savior was born for YOU, who is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:8-11). A child was born with the power over death and the power to raise the dead to eternal glory. A child was born to live among his people and provide a way for his people to live in communion with him as it was intended to be. A child was born to reconcile his entire creation back to himself. Soak in this season. Marvel at the wonder. Bask in the beauty.  Rejoice in the majesty. Revel in the excitement that this same Jesus who came as a humble and meek child two thousand years ago, will come again to his people in the manner by which the prophets of old spoke, as a “ruler and a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.”

Husband. Father. School Counselor. Pastor/Church Planter. My passion is to see men committed to their wives, engaged with their families and intentional being accountable with other men–all because of their devotion to Jesus. This is where I get to share pieces of my life with the hope that you are encouraged and inspired. My life isn’t anything extraordinary. It’s actually quite ordinary. So common and ordinary that I’m sure it’ll resonate with you somehow. Joe Kwiatkowski

Originally printed at http://www.mengineer.net/joseph-did-you-know/.

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apologetics gospel

Apologetics: Getting to the Gospel as Soon as Possible

The Definition of Apologetics

Hearing the word “apologetics,” many immediately think of our modern understanding of what it means to apologize for something as an expression of regret. This could be understandably confusing since we are talking about Christian apologetics, potentially implying that we regret being Christians. However, to do apologetics ironically means quite the opposite of “apologizing” for something.

The word comes from the Greek prefix “apo-”, which indicates a separation or a deflection of something, and the word “logos”, which is unsurprisingly where we get our term “logic.”  So, the Greek word apologia paints a picture of something that is being deflected by way of logic. The most common definition of the word apologetics is “a reasoned defense.” (Think Jude 3.)

Side note: Imagine how the conversation would go next time you needed to apologize to someone, and you offered “a reasoned defense” of your actions.

There are apologists everywhere. Every political position, sports fan base, and brand loyalty has its apologists. Every religion has apologists who defend their faith as the one true religion. Even the nonreligious have apologists who defend the secular mindset that all religions are ultimately wrong.

When it comes to us Christians, however, we take the role of the apologist to an entirely different level. Christianity is not simply supposed to have apologists; as we shall see, every Christian is supposed to be an apologist. For Christians, apologetics is not something we simply leave to “the experts.” It is something that is very much a part of what it means to be a Christian.

The most famous usage of the word in the New Testament comes from the Apostle Peter. In 1 Peter 3:15 he gives both a directive and a definition of apologetics. There Peter states:

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:”

The phrase translated into English as “give an answer” is actually one word in Greek. You guessed it: apologia. The command is clear. We are always to be ready with an answer, always ready to do apologetics.

Among a few qualities of what a good answer may look like, Peter zeros in on the main subject—“the hope that is in you.” Christian apologetics is a focused discipline with a singular goal, namely to bring people to the gospel. Jesus commissioned us to go into all the world and preach the gospel; Peter reminds us to be ready with an answer when they have questions about it.

The Need for Apologetics

As much as the world has changed since the first century, the Great Commission has not. All Christians have been tasked with preaching the gospel. The only alternative to evangelism, as they say, is disobedience.

Apologetics has always played a pivotal role in our evangelism. Christian apologist James Patrick Holding observed, “What we call ‘apologetics’ was, in fact, what the apostolic church would have called ‘evangelism.’” He goes on to explain, “Early missionary preaching testified to the historical realities upon which the Christian faith was grounded and called for repentance on those grounds.”

Indeed, if you were to review the evangelism of the apostles, personal and public, there is very little reliance on personal experience or emotional appeal. On the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-25), for example, Peter gave a textbook example of what he describes in his epistle. He appealed to Jesus’ miracles, culminating in his resurrection, and his fulfillment of Old Testament prophesies. On the basis of the historical reality of what Jesus had done, Peter calls his audience to repent and believe.

In our post-Christian secular age, the presence of apologetics in our evangelism is as important as it ever has been. Our culture is moving ever further away from a time when people had the same general understanding of God, the Bible, and religion. However, the popular consensus has changed in virtually every category. To talk to someone about the gospel today is a vastly different endeavor than it was years ago. Apologetics professor Travis Dickinson notes,

“More and more, apologetics does the work equivalent to what Bible translators do for an unreached people group. The Bible translator must get the content of the Gospel into the vernacular of the people for an individual to even grasp this content. Could the Holy Spirit miraculously allow the tribesman to understand the Gospel in a foreign language? Absolutely. However, it typically takes the hard work of translation. Likewise, God can bring conviction if He wants, but it often takes the hard work of engaging in apologetic discussion for someone to be able to grasp the content of the Gospel.”

In our evangelism, we declare what the gospel is, and what people ought to do about it. Yet, increasingly people ask why. Why should someone believe in any God, much less the one described in the Bible? Why should someone believe that Jesus of Nazareth was God in the flesh and that he rose from the dead? If God loves us so much, why do so many bad things happen to us? If God went to such great lengths to save us, why did he put us in a situation in which we need saving? These are precisely the questions Peter was talking about.

Pastor Timothy Keller explains further,

“I’ve heard plenty of Christians try to answer the why question by going back to the what. “You have to believe because Jesus is the Son of God.” But that’s answering the why with more what. Increasingly we live in a time when you can’t avoid the why question. Just giving the what (for example, a vivid gospel presentation) worked in the days when the cultural institutions created an environment in which Christianity just felt true or at least honorable. But in a post-Christendom society, in the marketplace of ideas, you have to explain why this is true, or people will just dismiss it.”

If the only alternative to evangelism is disobedience, which I believe it is, then the only alternative to apologetics is ineffectiveness.

The Point of Apologetics

While apologetics is vital to evangelism, it is also substantively different. There are two major objectives in apologetics that contrast from evangelism.

The first major objective is to provide reasons to believe. While evangelism declares what to believe, apologetics gives people a reason to do so. For example, many people are unaware of the abundance of manuscript evidence that demonstrates the reliability of the New Testament as a historical document. So, as astounding as much of the New Testament narrative is, we can give people reasons to believe what it says.

The second major objective is to remove reasons to doubt. While evangelism warns of the consequences of not believing, apologetics demonstrates that there are no good reasons not to believe. For example, many people have a problem with believing in the miraculous features of Christian belief because they supposedly conflict with modern scientific understanding. Yet, many Christian apologists have demonstrated that there is no real conflict between science and faith.

This is illustrated by one of my favorite metaphors for the relationship between apologetics and evangelism. Apologist Matt Slick gives the illustration of “what apologetics really is.” As he tells it, the gospel is like a garden in the middle of a field. That garden has one gate, which is Jesus. One path takes you right up to the gate. That path is evangelism, leading people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately, for many people the journey to the garden is difficult. There are many paths that appear to head toward the garden but eventually veer off into some other direction. There are massive rocks and heavy brush obstructing the way. Then, in steps the apologist, pointing people back to the right path and clearing any obstacles ahead. The apologist may not be the gardener, and he is definitely not the gate. In fact, he needs the path, the gate, and the garden every bit as much as the people he helps. Nevertheless, he helps as many as he can along the way.

It is important to note the differences between apologetics and evangelism, or else we run the risk of treating apologetics as an end in itself. Even still, noting the differences helps us focus on the primary purpose of apologetics. It is easy to get bogged down and sidetracked by neverending debates and peripheral issues. But, doing so renders our apologetics fruitless.

Here’s the thing…

Apologetics is the process of getting people to the gospel as soon as possible.

It may be more than that, but it should never be less.

Travis Satterfield is a family man, teacher, and blogger. Here’s the thing… is a blend of his personal story of doubt and faith, his professional experience of teaching the Bible, and his passionate insight into theology, apologetics, and culture. Subscribe to receive email updates, follow on Twitter (@h_t_t_blog), and join the conversation on Facebook (@httblog).

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