“But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:14-16, NASB).
In recent years, members of Westboro Baptist Church generated a lot of controversy by protesting in various places (including military funerals), claiming that “God hates fags” and that His wrath is upon our nation for accepting homosexuality.
I have to object to this method of ministry outreach. For one thing, while the Bible teaches that God hates sin, it also teaches us that He is love. Thus, while God may hate different forms of sexual immorality, He loves the people who are bound or deceived by those sins and wants to forgive, heal, and restore them.
Second, even if the tone of the message was appropriate (if they were lovingly speaking against the sin without claiming that God shared their hatred of other people), it would still be the wrong message. The biblical mandate for ministry to the lost has not changed, even if society has:
“And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, ‘All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age'” (Matthew 28:18–20, NASB).
God has called us to make disciples of all nations. Our first task is to invite people into a relationship with Christ. That is our starting point. There is only so much a person can truly understand about the Gospel before the Holy Spirit takes up residence in their heart.
First Corinthians 2:14–16 reminds us that the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God. They sound like foolishness to non-believers. Yet, all too often, Christians begin by trying to explain secondary issues to those around them. Those things will seem illogical if the Holy Spirit is not giving wisdom to the listener.
Try to explain biblical sexual morality to someone who does not accept Jesus Christ’s authority as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It does not work; the secular world’s system of values seems completely logical to an atheist, agnostic, or anybody else who does not accept the personal God of the Bible. The same is true for the creationism/evolution debate and countless other areas where Christians and the secular world find controversy. The reality and authority of Jesus Christ establish the entire foundation for the believer’s worldview.
As we minister to a lost world, and as our society drifts further from its Judeo-Christian foundations, we need to remember to keep the focus on Jesus. People need to see, trust, and know Him before they can really be expected to make sense of the “things of the Spirit of God.” A note on 1 Corinthians 2:14–15 from The Life Recovery Bible sums this up very well:
People who refuse to turn their life over to the care of God cannot understand God’s truth or his plan. That’s why recovery begins not with understanding but with a decision to follow God. Prior to that decision, God’s way may seem like madness. Only when we face the fact that our life is insane can we open ourself to God and his plan for us. [Life Recovery Bible, New Living Translation, 2nd ed. (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2007), p. 1458].
May we always remember to begin with a relationship with Jesus Christ, guided by the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, so that we may understand and proclaim the full truth of God’s Word.
This post was written as part of the Scripture Sabbath Challenge
This post copyright © 2016 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.