Currently, the Bible Reading Plan I am working my way through (www.bibleinoneyear.org) has me reading, among other things, the book of Acts. As I have read the story of how the early church spread throughout the world, one particular word has stood out to me. Perhaps it has something to do with my ‘Type A’personality (see logical and organised; or, according to my wife Molly: fussy), but it is the word “reasoned”.
Over and over again, Luke (the author of Acts) tells us that the Apostle Paul, in his missionary endeavours, would “reason”with people regarding the faith. He “reasoned with them from the Scriptures”(Acts 17:17). He “reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks”(18:4). He “entered the synagogue and for three months spoke boldly, reasoning and persuading them about the kingdom of God”(19:8). He “took the disciples with him, reasoning daily in the hall of Tyrannus”(19:9). He “reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment” (24:25). The book of Acts makes clear that when Paul came to share the gospel with others he did not just proclaim and pray, he also reasoned and persuaded.
For me, this is a great reminder that the Christian faith is not just blind faith but it is reasonable faith. To be sure, there are many aspects to the Christian worldview that will not fit into the humanist and naturalist categories of our culture. But if the Christian worldview is genuinely explored, it will, I believe, prove logically coherent and existentially satisfying. So, let me encourage you, if you have questions about the Christian faith and worldview, ask those questions and explore those questions. Doubt and inquisition is not the antithesis of faith. Unbelief is the antithesis of faith. And, I believe, as you explore those questions you may just find yourself better equipped to ‘reason’with those you do life with. You will be better “prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you”(1 Peter 3:15).
An example of what is not reasonable, however, is that by the time you read this, I will be on the other side of the world in Washington DC, USA. For the next three weeks I will be exploring Washington DC and Boston and visiting a few churches there (as well as a Red Sox game at Fenway Park!). Then, in Chicago I will attend the Global Leadership Summit at Willow Creek Community Church, hearing from world-class leaders such as Bill Hybels, Jim Collins, and Craig Groeschel. After that I will head to the nation of Haiti for a week with Compassion Australia and other church leaders to see and experience the work of Compassion ‘on-the-ground’. This trip will be, I am sure, a huge blessing and is an example of God’s unreasonable grace to me. And though I will miss my wife Molly (the prime example of God’s unreasonable grace to me), I am looking forward to this experience, and am thankful to God for the opportunity.
Last Sunday we kicked-off our new sermon-series, ‘Surprised by Hope,’by talking about ‘Hope for the World’. We saw that the ultimate hope of the Christian is not a disembodied existence in an ethereal netherworld, but the reconciliation of heaven and earth. It is, in the words of Revelation 21:1, “a new heaven and a new earth”. But, perhaps, as you pondered on this truth, you wondered about those verses in the Bible that seem to suggest the destruction of the earth? At times the Bible certainly describes the future of the world in destructive and apocalyptic language. So, how should we understand those verses? Or, how should we harmonise what the Bible teaches us about the renewal of heaven and earth with those sections where it seemingly teaches us about the destruction of heaven and earth? Well, there is a blog post on the BPCC website () and on the BPCC Facebook page exploring this very question: “Doesn't the Bible suggest this world will be destroyed?”In fact, over the course of this new series there will be a number of blog posts exploring pertinent questions that we will not get time to explore in the sermons. We will look at questions such as, “Who or what is the antichrist?”“What is the millennium?”and “What about those who have never heard of Jesus?”So, keep your eyes out for those!
Bless you, Church, and see you in 3 weeks!