New Attitude Day #1...Joshua Harris
Well, this is my first attempt at blogging and I'm starting out with a lofty goal of summarizing solid biblical preaching. This could be a sad sad attempt on my part so please pardon any infallibilities.
So, I'm part of a movement called Sovereign Grace Ministries. At some other point I'll go more into exactly what Sovereign Grace is, but in short it is a church-planting group who embraces reformed theology and worships God passionately and vibrantly and with all their heart and soul and spirit. A few years back, Joshua Harris was led by the Lord to do a singles conference where we young believers could learn from the men seasoned in the faith, who have walked out their faith and have much wisdom to impart to us. It is called New Attitude.
So anyways, tonight was the first evening of the conference. After much worship and preparation and being led to the altar of the Sovereign Lord, Joshua Harris began his first sermon. He based it upon the text of 2 Timothy 2:14-26:
Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: "The Lord knows those who are his," and, "Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity."
Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
His main focus was on what it means to be a generation approved by God (v. 15). He said that we must first handle the truth faithfully. Our approval before God is directly tied to how we handle the word-the gospel-the message of Christ. Back in verse 8 of chapter 2, Paul tells Timothy to remember Jesus Christ. Why would Paul have to tell even Timothy such a basic thing? Simply because the greatest temptation of every generation is to subtly move beyond this central truth, and pervert the true gospel in some form.
Joshua said that so often in our generation we like to be the innovators, the people with the cool ideas and the snazzy new fangled program, but we don't do the responsible thing so well. We don't stand the test of time. We like to be looked at as the latest and the greatest. We take a solid truth and change it as we sit fit so that it fits our latest angle best. He said that we have not been called to evaluate or reinvent truth. We have been called to present it and preserve it and pass it down.
But because this truth is the same for all of time, we get bored with it. We don't want to do things that same as the generation before us, so we flirt with error because we don't want to be bothered with following the pattern. But, we as believers have not been called to cut and paste God's truth to fit our ideas.
We cannot be flippant when it comes to Orthodoxy (a commitment to the teaching of the established truths in God's bible.) And truth needs to be defended from outward attacks as well as personal apathy. The outward attacks come from the age of moderation that we live in. Our peers believe that truth is not absolute. What works for you may or may not work for me and that's just peachy (that's a shout out from Jenn to Whit). The inward attacks come from when we do not apply the truth personally.
That was Josh's second point. In order to be a generation approved by God we must apply truth in our own lives. Truth that is divorced from living practice is hypocrisy. He warned us to be cautious in the truths that we apply however. Do we believe something because it is fully backed up in Scripture or simply because it is what tradition and those that have come before us have taught? Man errs. That is fact. God cannot err. That is an even GREATER fact.
He also warned against many of the Christian writers that are so being embraced by our generation. Just because a writer can accurately describe all that you are feeling and all your turmoil and all you questions, this does not mean that the medicine they prescribe is in line with God's scriptures.
Paul also warns Timothy to flee youthful passions. Often this is used to talk about sexual lusting, but if you read it in context with the chapter, Paul is talking about much more than just sex. John Stott calls it "...self-assertion, headstrong obstinacy and arrogance." When we see sin in our lives-do we casually stroll away from it, or do we flee from it with all our might? (I'm reminded of the scripture that says there is to be not even a hint of impurity among you. Also, there is a line in the movie "Walk the Line" that this makes me think of. "God gave us a great big apple, See! He said don't touch. He didn't say touch it every once in a while, He didn't say take a nibble when you're hungry. He said Don't Touch It! Don't think about touchin'it. Don't sing about touchin' it. Don't even think about singin' about touchin' it!”) So often we think, how close can I get to sin without it affecting me instead of how far away from sin can I get.
He posed a heart revealing question for many of the students. He asked whether or not we have grown comfortable with our current level of holiness. He said that compromise is not sophisticated and it is not mature. It is just sin-plain and simple.
Josh's third point was that we must represent the truth humbly. Apart from humility we will be Pharisees. How do we relate to those who disagree with us? Do we argue over non-essentials that, instead of edifying the body, merely serve to distract from the true gospel. We must remember that we did not create truth or copyright truth. Truth was instead handed down to us. Grace was handed down to us. Mercy was handed down to us. How can we then not hand down grace and mercy to those around us?
Josh said that the first time he encountered Calvinists in high school "They were mean. They were clickish. They were spiteful. I guess they were just predestined to be that way." (As a caveat, that was a joke, for which he later apologized for.) No matter how correct their theology may have been, their attitude was so severe, that he was turned off from any things that he had to say. When I am talking with those that I disagree with, how do I present the truth? Do I present it in arrogance or in tears? Do I present it with an attitude of "I'm right. You're wrong. Either get on board with me or suffer the consequences" or is rather "I have been such an undeserving recipient of grace and mercy. Thank you my God. Thank you my God."
The theme of New Attitude is "A Humble Orthodoxy." Joshua wound down by summing this up. Truth by itself is not enough. Humility in and of it self is not enough. Neither truth alone nor humility alone will save anyone. Both are necessary. Both are vital. We must present truth in an attitude that embodies both the love and compassion of the Savior himself.
He ended with a quote by Mark Dever from the Together for the Gospel blog. "What we need is humble theology--theology which submits itself to the truth of God's Word.”Liberal" theology--theology which does not view Scripture as finally trustworthy and authoritative--is not humble before the Word. Churches which are tentative and decry dogmatism may sound humble, but it is not truly humble to do anything other than to submit to God's Word. Christian humility is to simply accept whatever God has revealed in His Word. Humility is following God's Word wherever it goes, as far as it goes, not either going beyond it or stopping short of it."
Why try to rediscover what has always been true??