Tag Archives: applying the Gospel

5 Difficulties Believing and Their Treatments

When I was in college, I came to talk to one of the pastors at my church about how we could reach more college students. We talked about moving our only service from 9am to a later time. We talked about including applications and questions relevant to college students, as well as some other possibilities. He listened politely and expressed his concern for the college students I was working with. However, when I finished, he had a fairly brief answer for me. He said something like, “Nic, I know that you want to reach students and give them answers to their questions. But you need to understand that at bottom, their rejection of the gospel isn’t about philosophy, apologetics or better preaching; it’s about unbelief. They don’t want to believe. And when people don’t want to believe there is no reason good enough and no information complete enough. And the university is septic with that kind of unbelief.”

I knew there was something wrong with that answer, but I had a hard time teasing it out. On the one hand, I knew he was partly right. Unbelief is the most recurring sin in the Bible and the most predictable attitude of the human heart. God talks about it constantly, and the narratives of the Bible show us everywhere what it looks like. The prophets explain its fruit and Jesus attacks it regularly. Unbelief is the great sin.

Yet I also knew he was partly wrong. Not every difficulty believing in the Bible is unbelief. Jude says to be “merciful to those who doubt” (Jude 1:22). Even where the word “unbelief” (apistis) is used, there are situations where is it not considered a sin. Like the father that said, “I do believe! Help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Yet, even for Christians, unbelief is still the greatest enemy in the mind and heart. It says it this way in Hebrews 3:12-15:

“See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.  As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”

The author calls the unbelieving heart the “sinful” heart and says that it is the result of our hearts being hardened by “sin’s deceitfulness.” That is, unbelief is a kind of dishonesty and unreality. It is a rebellion against God’s truth: a “turning away from the living God.”

Five biblical categories for difficulty believing in God

  1. Ignorance: A lack of education. Not knowing about God’s truth.
  2. Doubt: A weakness of heart. When knowledge fails to strengthen the heart with the courage of faith.
  3. Non-belief: Having information, we remain unpersuaded. Lack of persuasive reasons to believe.
  4. Disbelief: A lack of conceivability. The gospel seems too good to be true, or too bad to be considered.
  5. Unbelief: A moral failure to believe what should be believed. A refusal to believe and a subversive attitude. A turning away from God.

Continue reading 5 Difficulties Believing and Their Treatments

Self-Inflicted Trauma

A recent survey of new parents in Germany has suggested that the birth of a child is, on average, more traumatizing than divorce or even the death of a spouse. Nic asked me to write a bit about why this matters for us.

The survey was conducted as an attempt to shed light on the seeming discrepancy between couples’ stated desire to have two children and Germany’s persistently low birth rate that has rested at 1.5 for forty years. If the average couple says they want two children, why are so few doing so? Continue reading Self-Inflicted Trauma

Introverts and Serving People Directly

I recently got this message:

Hey Nic,
I read your post “What is Stopping You?” on Engage & Equip and I have some questions. I agree wholeheartedly with the post, as well as the other posts/sermons as of late about community and living sent, etc. However, I am unsure about how to get past what I feel is stopping me much of the time, which is that I am introverted.  I know that God made me this way and so it isn’t a mistake. I know that introversion is certainly not an excuse to sit out of Jesus’ callings of community and reaching out to people with the gospel. The part I struggle with is how to do that as an introvert. How do I be myself, and not be fake, but still reach out to people?

Continue reading Introverts and Serving People Directly

What Is Stopping You?

At High Point, if you’ve been listening, you’ve been hearing that we need to be engaged in living a life that “goes to dark places,” that gets out and uses the opportunities that God is giving us to make a difference with the Gospel.

But, just as important as hearing the positive message is facing the negative one: Why don’t I?

Continue reading What Is Stopping You?

Educational Theory and the Gospel

I was an education major in my undergrad, and in my educational theory class I was taught three basic theories about human beings.

1600's SchoolhouseThe first theory is drawn from the Puritans way back in the 1600s who thought that people are basically bad. This was supposedly called the “Old Deluder Satan” theory. Apparently it was taken from a 1642 law that referred to Satan this way. What I wasn’t told, however, was that the purpose of this law was to legislate public education (every town with 50 families had to hire a teacher, and every town with 100 families had to establish a grammar school).

Continue reading Educational Theory and the Gospel