SBTS chapel live blog: Russell D. Moore – 2 Corinthians 3:11-4:6

Communications Staff — March 4, 2010

Preacher: Russell D. Moore, senior vice president for academic administration and dean of the School of Theology at Southern Seminary

Text/title: 2 Corinthians 3:11-4:6 – “You are not your worldview: finding the freedom to let the faith defend itself.”

Moore shared the story of accidently sending a text message to Matt Hall, Dr. Mohler’s executive assistant, instead of his wife. It was an endearing message meant for his wife and it went out to Hall instead.

It doesn’t matter how well-crafted your message is: if it is going to the wrong audience it is saying the wrong thing.

We spend a lot of our time thinking about Christian apologetics and talking about defending the faith. We spend great amounts of time talking about Christian apologetics and different defenses of the faith with other believers. But when we go out and start telling these arguments to non-believers they just look at us and they are bored.

At the core of the reason why we are failing at defending the faith to our non-Christian loved ones and to non-Christian strangers around us is because we don’t understand why people find the Gospel hard to believe and we don’t understand why people don’t believe the Gospel.

Why don’t people understand the Gospel?

The problem, first of all, is with a voice.

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul recounts the people of Israel not accepting the voice of Moses. The problem is not intellectual and it is not cognitive. The problem is personal. People did not accept the voice of Moses because Moses was speaking about Christ. Moses was the voice of Christ.

Adam is scared of the voice of the God in the Garden of Eden after he sinned. Israel is scared of the voice of God at Mt. Sinai. When Moses read the law, people would find anything they could to hide behind because they did not want to be exposed to the voice.

The problem, second of all, is with the light.

It was painful for people to look at Moses when he came off Mt. Sinai because it is painful to look at glory when you are a sinner. People don’t want to see the light that is on the face of Jesus. Jesus tells us why in John 3. Jesus tells us that the light and glory of God that goes forth with the proclamation of the Word of God is a Who. The Light is Jesus. People have an aversion to the light. Why? It is not primarily intellectual or cognitive. It is because their deeds are evil and the light is a reminder of their condemnation and so they hid from the light.

There is a personal activity involved in this blindness. The god of this age has blinded the mind of unbelievers to that they cannot see the light. Satan is actively working to blind the mind – which is the core of who you are. Satan is in conspiracy with the sinful nature, working to keep people from seeing the light.

But Paul says, “Don’t lose heart,” even when people reject you. Don’t lose heart because our enemy is not people, our enemy is the devil who is blinding those people.

We can’t view unbelievers as people who merely have a different worldview than us. We must rage against the reptile, not against his prey.

How do people come to believe?

People come to believe by giving them the thing they are shrinking back from.

We give them the voice.

We give people the open statement of the truth. We openly speak of the Gospel, we openly speak of the crucifixion of Jesus, we openly speak of condemnation, we openly speak of the days when graves will be ripped open by Christ and we openly appeal to people to repent and believe.

It is not just that we deliver the facts of the Gospel. We openly speak of the truth and we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience.

There are a lot of people right outside these doors who don’t know that the Gospel is directed to them. They think it is for someone else. There are a lot of people with consciences that are awakened to a Romans 2 understanding of judgment and condemnation and when they hear people speak the Gospel who are not willing to directly address the conscience – who say I know what you are suppressing, I know what you are running from, when you identify yourself as one who was a sinner: the worst kind of sinner like Saul before he became Paul – when you don’t do that then you don’t have an impact. But when you do that you come as the voice of Christ.

We give them the light.

The light transforms through the open statement of Christ Jesus as Lord, crucified and risen from the dead.

I am grateful for brilliant Christian apologists. But it is interesting that most brilliant Christian apologists were not converted through the ministry of brilliant Christian apologists.

What ultimately convicts of sin is the open proclamation of the Gospel. When you hear of the life-changing and forgiving power of Jesus and you want to get up and follow after Him that is the light invading your heart.

Paul said we do not just proclaim the message: we proclaim the message as those who are slaves of Jesus Christ. We present ourselves through service as we proclaim the message.

We preach in the church to those who are slaves along with us.

Apologetics are important. Apologetics are important not because people come to believe through the proof for a complex molecular structure of the eye. People are saved when you talk to them about what they are hiding behind. People are saved when you talk them about whatever presuppositions they are hiding behind and whatever supposed evidences they are hiding behind, but they are saved when you ultimately get to the real issue: people’s sin that they don’t want to expose to the light. This is what Jesus did with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4).

The voice of God we are afraid of is the voice that speaks and says, “Let there be light.” What happens when the voice of God says, “Get out of the grave?” People come out of the grave. When the voice of God speaks there is light.

Thus, we should not be intimidated by lost people. There is nothing more significant to say than the Gospel. Ultimately, we heard the Galilean Gospel whether we were sitting in the honky tonk or whether we were sitting in the back row of the Baptist church.

People believe through the voice and the light of the Gospel that comes through the open presentation of it.

If you are apathetic or afraid toward people around you then you do not understand the Gospel that saved you. Paul was saved by a blinding light and the voice of Jesus.

Initially, we are blinded and we are scared. But when the voice of God speaks and sheds His light upon our hearts, we believe.

If you think that your mission is primarily intellectual or cognitive, then it is no wonder people do not hear you. It is no wonder people are bored by us. You are not your worldview. The people you are engaging are not disembodied worldviews. Lost people holding up worldviews are holding up those worldviews so they can avoid the real issue: their sin.

We come not with plausible arguments. We come as the voice of Christ with the light of Christ. We come proclaiming the word of the cross, because it pleases God to save people through the folly of what we preach.

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