Posted by: Bro. Lawrence D. | February 14, 2009

Lord, Please Open Our Eyes!

Matthew 11:25-27 (emphasis mine, also see Luke 10:21-22)  “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have REVEALED them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to REVEAL Him.'”

Luke 24:13-16;30-32 “And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. BUT THEIR EYES WERE PREVENTED FROM RECOGNIZING HIM…..When He had reclined at the table with them, He took the bread and blessed it, and breaking it, He began giving it to them. THEN THEIR EYES WERE OPENED AND THEY RECOGNIZED HIM; and He vanished from their sight.”

Don’t worry, this isn’t another attempt to beat Arminians over the head with the Sovereignty of God in salvation. If anything, I could spend paragraphs and cite hundreds of examples of the need for Calvinist to put into practice their professed beliefs. Rather, this post is to advertise the solution to a problem that seems to escape well meaning believers (that’s us) at times.

I have come to notice a trend in our day. Whether it be in the area of evangelism, preaching, or apologetics, many well meaning Christians have forgotten one major thing, IT TAKES A SUPERNATURAL WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN ORDER FOR ANY MAN OR WOMAN TO COME TO THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH, INCLUDING YOU AND I!

Take a personal survey of the latest or most popular evangelism method. Or how about the last sermon you heard on false converts. Or how about the last apologetic discussion you heard on the existence of God. How much emphasis was put on dependence in the Holy Spirit to take the method or information and apply it to the heart of the one who needed it? Can you confidently say that the “4-step method” of evangelism, the “exegesis/exposition” of the text, or the logical argument, were not themselves the feature star of each presentation? Wasn’t the attitude more in the line of “trust me this method works” or “faithful, accurate preaching is only sure fire way to ensure the church is pure” or “trust me, the atheists have no answer for this”?

Or what about the last theological debate you had with another Christian? How much were your emotions affected by the discussion? Was there any moment where you had distain for your brother or sister? Was there any moment where you judged them in your heart as possibly being unsaved? Was there a moment where the Spirit said to end the discussion but you had to get in another point? And once the discussion was over, did you mine your bible for prooftexts to use as belittling weapons against that person the next time the subject came up?

Now, while I definitely love the zeal of anyone who goes out and evangelizes (with just about any method) and I love exegetical/expositional sermons, and my personality just fits right into apologetics, (which sometimes leads to very unbecoming confrontations with other believers) none of these bear any fruit without the Spirit. How do I know? Well, it should seem obvious that since each of these is employed by us as fallible, sinful men and women, on our best day, we can no more be effective at changing the hearts/minds of men than we can at changing the rotation of the sun. But unfortunately it is not so obvious.  Even the apostle Paul had to remind the Corinthians, “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (I Corinthians 3:7)”

Sometime ago, I wrote an article entitled,  “Is my Ipod causing me to sin?”. But it wasn’t my Ipod. It was pride. It was arrogance. It was having a suspicious and judgmental heart. It was not recognizing that the Spirit was at work in me to come to the knowledge of the truth. It was folly. You see, the only thing that helped me to see that Albert Mohler, Matt Slick, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, etc. were wrong in the areas with which I disagreed with them, was the kindness of God giving me revelation. And guess what!? I yet have many blind spots! So therefore, my grace and mercy for these men should have been as vast as that that I desire and expect from Our Lord Jesus. Because again, it takes REVELATION and ILLUMINATION to make Christ and the things of Christ known to any of us.

So the next time you’re involved in a potentially contentious discussion with another believer or the next time you hear another believer (yes even a famous theologian or apologist) say something that you know to be wrong, instead of reacting with contempt, take a moment and ask God to be merciful to us all and open our eyes.

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Responses

  1. D. Lawrence,
    May I provide a quote from you that belies your claimed humility.
    “It was folly. You see, the only thing that helped me to see that Albert Mohler, Matt Slick, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, etc. were wrong in the areas with which I disagreed with them, was the kindness of God giving me revelation. And guess what!? I yet have many blind spots!”

    Rather than state the area upon which you disagreed with these men and defend it with revealed scripture, you claimed that God’s revelation and illumination was yours because you disagreed with them. I say as kindly as I can that you set yourself up as the arbiter which, in my view, is a “blind spot”.

    I wonder what you think of Stephen who got himself killed by his straightforward approach in apologetics. The Bereans checked it out by looking into the scriptures.

    Now having said that, I take your point that in our deliberations with others we should not behave or write contemptuously. But after reading your testimony, I strongly recommend that you return to John MacArthur’s expository teaching.
    Rejoicing in Christ,
    Howard

  2. Bro. Howard,

    I will humor you because you definitely humored me.

    1. Where did I claim humility? Did you read this statement:

    “But it wasn’t my Ipod. It was pride. It was arrogance. It was having a suspicious and judgmental heart. It was not recognizing that the Spirit was at work in me to come to the knowledge of the truth. It was folly.

    That, my brother, is no claim to humility! I’m admitting to the exact opposite.

    2. Perhaps I worded it incorrectly but I in no way stated either that I had God’s revelation “because” I disagreed with them nor that I was the arbiter. Are we reading the same post?! And if you need a list and an exegetical example of where they’re wrong in the area with which I disagree with each man, then you missed my entire point. The point was that any time we are right about anything it is because of God’s kindness in revelation and not because of us. Therefore, we should be more gracious toward those with whom we disagree.

    3. I have no idea what your reference to Steven or the Bereans have to do with this post. So you’ll have to explain it to me. By the way, go back and check Steven’s description amongst the other six men; “a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit”. (Acts 6:5) There’s nothing there about him being super intelligent or apologetically astute.

    4. My testimony is what it is, a scattered and condensed account of my time walking with the Lord. Perhaps it doesn’t compare to your perfect example but don’t count me out yet. By the way, I have “Grace to You” on my Ipod. I use the “John MacArthur Study Bible”, NASB. And I own several of his books. But that doesn’t mean that he’s right about everything nor that I have to agree with him on everything.

    Any more questions/comments?

  3. Hi Lawrence D.,
    It was that you put “pride” in the past tense.

    “You see, the only thing that helped me to see that Albert Mohler, Matt Slick, John MacArthur, Paul Washer, etc. were wrong in the areas with which I disagreed with them, was the kindness of God giving me revelation.”
    But you see, that very likely you were the one that was and is wrong, not them. God may not have given you this “revelation” after all.

    In 3. As a man full of the Holy Spirit, Stephen’s defense of the gospel was not that diplomatic. Jeremiah in the OT is another example who upset people with the gospel. The world generally and many professing Christians will criticize the true believers for their dogmatism and critical perspective.

    There is a propensity among ‘believers’ today to fall into mysticism and other deviant doctrines. The Bereans checked things out from what was already written. Each of us possess the “revelation” called the Bible and we need to be illumined by the Holy Spirit to understand it.

    We support GTY ministries and have enjoyed the ministry of John MacArthur. I have seen critical comments about him on the web which in my view are attempts to discredit him without just cause. If you had mentioned ‘mother’ Teresa, the pope and others, I would not have been bothered by it. Nor would it have mattered if the person criticizing MacArthur were unbelievers. But if you are truly a believer, I would expect that you would be very specific about your criticism of MacArthur and Matt Slick and so on.

    Lastly, I am just a sinner saved by His grace alone, His faith alone. Knowing my own continuing struggle with sin as a believer, I have gained an ever increasing appreciation of God’s electing grace. I know that if God had not chosen me to salvation, done the work alone to bring me to Himself, to cause me to see my sin as a terrible affront to the righteousness of the holy God, I would never, love Him now! I would never have chosen Christ.
    Rejoicing in Christ,
    Howard

  4. Bro. Howard,

    I see now that we will talk past each other because I have no idea what you are talking about or against. Also, I think we need to break out the dictionary and define our terms so that we can have a profitable discussion. I have one question.

    1. Is John MacArthur wrong about anything?

  5. Hi Lawrence,
    You were the one who raised John MacArthur’s name. You must now declare your specific disagreement with him and the others as well. Do you agree 100% with everyone with whom you currently fellowship?

  6. Bro. Howard,

    I must now declare my specific disagreement with him and the others? Says who? And why? It has nothing to do with the point of the post and since it is apparent that you are a fan of these men, you wouldn’t be able to see it anyway. That IS the point of this post.

    Arguing with people like yourself (those who’s biases and man-worshipping loyalties blind them from certain truths) is pointless because if you are to see the truth it will take a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit and not some specific example of mine.

    By the way, the revelation that I spoke of in the article pertained to having the Holy Spirit illuminate one’s mind to understand the scriptures not some mystical experience. If you would have actually read the article and not just your idol’s name, you might have picked up on that!

    Now, I asked you a specific question which you have not answered. Is John MacArthur wrong about anything? Yes or no?

  7. Hi Lawrence,
    Bible teachers who truly proclaim the gospel will have differing opinions which do not impinge on the integrity of the gospel.

    Rejoicing in Christ,
    Howard

  8. Have we gained each other as friends here, are either of us lost because we disagree on the points mentioned? What should someone like myself take away from this discussion or argument? Do we still love one another? I really gets confusing doesnt it?

  9. This was an interesting exchange.

    Howard let me ask you. Can you prove exegetically the expository sermon you so praise MacArthur for? Thanks

  10. Bro. Howard,

    I agree 100%! But I’m still at a loss as to why you are making any of the comments that you are. And there’s the issue of that unanswered question? Any reason for avoiding it?

    By the way, perhaps I should have said that you were exhibiting respect of persons in regards to these men and not worship or idolatry. I apologize for the insult.

  11. Bro. Jerry,

    I love every professing Christian. This blog is here and meant as just a safe place to exchange thoughts. However, we must be clear on what we are discussing before any real progress can be made. Sorry if things appear contentious!

  12. You know whats funny? When we read Acts 15 what was going on? As believers work through years and years of tradition and theological camps, we should be able to look at some issues and wrestle through them. It is sinful when we divide over such issues or when we refuse to love because we disagree, debating a point of theology is not sinful nor wrong, especially for those who are passionate for God’s truth. I think I am beginning to be frustrated with individuals who want peace. Love doesn’t mean we don’t disagree, it means we accept others in spite of our disagreements, regardless of how passionate they become or how dear they are to us.

  13. Bro. Lionel,

    That’s what I’m trying to convey in this post. We can and should love one another. Not just when the conversation is over but even while it is going on.

  14. Gentleman, If I may I feel Bro. Lawrence you have stepped on someones sacred cow. Or at least the way I am reading Howards comments it seems that way. There is nothing wrong with what you posted because it was out of love. Love for the Word and love for His church.
    Jesus will be judging the church first. I feel we have become so seeker sensitive in the other direction as to say don’t talk about my favorite preacher etc..
    Howard, There will always be times of disagreeing with one another and there will be disappointments in the process.
    Please look into what is being said on this post. Bro. Lawrence in the time that I have had interacting with him and seeing his comments on other blogs is a very gentle and humble man.
    He is gentle!!
    I praise God for men like him.
    Steven O.

  15. Bro. SOwen,

    Thank you for the kind words brother! All I can say is that I’m trying to be what you described and it is a constant struggle. If you would, pray for me in the area of accepting blame and false accusations with love (I Corinthians 13:5) instead of retailiation and self-defense. I struggle much in this particular area. Thank you brother!


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