Beyond the Words

Posted on December 13, 2012 by

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Beyond the Words

Posted on December 13, 2012 by J.M. Njoroge

I would like to begin by telling a story about an event that took
place some years ago when I was beginning my studies in apologetics,
an event that has had a major impact on my approach to the ministry to
this day. I had a neighbor who was deeply committed to a version of
the New Age movement. He and I had many conversations about God in the
course of several months. He was a highly educated man with a couple
of PhDs to his name, and so he provided me with an opportunity to test
my training. But the training I was receiving in apologetics was good,
and I soon realized that I could not only answer the questions he was
asking about my faith in God, I could also poke holes in his worldview
in a way that forced him to check books out of the local library to
try and put his worldview back together. And I was feeling very good
about myself. I was actually getting get it!

Finally I decided to challenge him to consider giving his life to
Christ. His reaction surprised me; he did not seem to care at all
about what I was telling him. So I said to him, can you please explain
to me what is going on? You don’t seem to care about what I am telling
you. His answer was even more baffling to me. He said to me,
“Listening to you asking me to become a Christian is like listening to
a naturalist asking me to become a naturalist.”

I said to him, “What in the world do you mean. I just asked you to
consider giving your life to the God who created you, and you are
accusing me of being an atheist? What do you mean?”

He said to me, “All you Christians have are statements and creeds. You
think that if people accept those statements and creeds, everything
will be okay. When I pray, I get in touch with powers that you know
nothing about.”

And that was one of the most convicting things anyone has ever said to
me. Because what this man was saying to me was essentially this: “Yes,
you can say a lot of very convincing things about your faith, but does
your faith really rise beyond well-argued propositions?”

In his book, Beyond Opinion, Ravi Zacharias says that the greatest
obstacle to the reception of the Gospel is not its inability to
provide answers; it is the failure on the part of Christians to live
it out. J. I. Packer writes similarly in his classic book, entitled,
Knowing God: “From current Christian publications you might think that
the most vital issue for any real or would-be Christian in the world
today is church union, or social witness, or dialogue with other
Christians and other faiths, or refuting this or that -ism, or
developing a Christian philosophy and culture… it is tragic that…so
many in our day seem to have been distracted from what was, is, and
always will be the true priority for every human being—that is,
learning to know God in Christ.”(1)

Whatever your position of faith, it is helpful to occasionally step
back and ask a similar question of priority. Whatever your calling in
life, what is the ultimate goal of all that you do?

The Bible addresses this question in many places, in both the Old and
New Testaments, but none so much as in the person of Christ himself.
If there is a message we hear loudest in his coming to earth it is
this. The primary call of God is to know God, to be near God, not to
serve God or to argue on God’s behalf. Apologetics is important, but
it is only a means to an end, and the end is knowing God. Even the
scriptures were given to us a means to that end. For when all is said
and done, when the dust settles, it is the eternally incarnate Son of
God who lies behind that hauntingly inescapable question, “Who do you
say that I am?” It is a question we must answer, with our words and
with our lives. There is no neutral ground.

But how wonderful it is when the curtain is pulled back, and we see
God for Who God truly is, and we are able to say with Peter, “You are
the Christ, the Son of the living God?”

No, we don’t have only statements and creeds. We stand on holy ground,
before a holy God, and it is this God that we present to the world.

J.M. Njoroge is a member of the speaking team at Ravi Zacharias
International Ministries in Atlanta, Georgia.

(1) J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 279.

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Posted in: Apologias