Calvary Road Baptist Church

“WORLDVIEW WARS”

First Peter 3.15

 

The title of my primarily informational message this morning is “Worldview Wars.” The reason for the reference to war comes from a consideration of the Biblical concept of the struggle Christians find ourselves in during the course of our life here on earth, as we earnestly strive to bring the lost to Christ. The Apostle Paul is very clear in labeling Christians are soldiers, in Second Timothy 2.3-4:

 

3      Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

4      No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

 

The word “soldier” in verse 3 and the words “warreth” and “soldier” in verse 4, are each translations of Greek variations of the military word from which our English military word strategy is derived. Thus, The Apostle very clearly saw the Christian life as participating in ongoing spiritual conflict. To show you where the battlegrounds in our warfare are located, allow me to direct your attention to Second Corinthians 10.3-6, where we will see several clues that reveal the main battlegrounds to us:

 

3      For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4      (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

5      Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

6      And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.

 

We do engage in spiritual warfare. Verse 3 clearly establishes that we do not war after the flesh, suggesting that though our enemies may inflict physical attacks on us, that is not the realm where we engage people. In verse 5, where Paul makes use of such words as “imaginations,” “knowledge,” and “thought,” with his references to “obedience” and “disobedience” suggesting the appeal to a man’s will, we see that the place where spiritual conflict takes place, the arena where our warfare is primarily on display, is the human mind.

Most people are unaware there is a battle raging. Millions are passive noncombatants in this spiritual warfare, though they are very much the prizes that are being fought for in the conflict, by means of propaganda, peer pressure, and even sales and advertising plans. So many folks are spiritual zombies who daily turn on the television set and only semiconsciously notice the stream of pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, anti-God, anti-Christian, anti-Bible, rhetoric that strengthens the grip secular humanism has on them, and steels their resistance to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The task before us as a Church and as Christians is to advance the gospel by means of making disciples for Jesus Christ through our preaching, through believer baptism, and through our instructional ministry of training new Christians how to live, how to love God, and how to serve Jesus. Increasingly, however, Christians face stiff resistance when presenting the simple plan of salvation. No longer are folks so willing to embrace the Bible as a trustworthy and reliable source of truth about spiritual matters. Increasingly, the historical facts recorded in the Bible, such as God’s creation of the universe and all that herein is, the Fall of man into sin, the judgment of the whole world by God by means of a great Flood, and the redemption of lost sinners through faith in Jesus Christ, the virgin born Son of God who died, was buried, and miraculously rose from the dead as an atonement for sins, are disputed.

What are we do in response to the increasingly hostile reception we receive when we attempt to evangelize people? When people tell us they do not want to hear what we have to say, are we to then obey men, or should we obey the Savior who commanded us to preach the gospel to every creature? To quit is easy, and that is what most who profess to being Christians are doing. To continue explaining The Romans Road tract to an unreceptive audience is insanity, because such an approach to evangelism simply does not yield fruit that remains. Our only recourse to obeying the Savior in an effective way is found in our text for today, First Peter 3.15. Please turn to that verse and stand for the reading of God’s Word when you have found it in your Bible: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

Though I have applied this verse in the past to a professing Christian being ready to convince me that he really is a child of God, that he really has been converted, the context in which this verse is found reveals that the most direct application of this admonition is in connection with a Christian’s efforts to evangelize the lost. When you tell someone he is a sinner and needs to be saved from his sins, and that Jesus is the only Savior of sinful men’s souls, what do you say when he tells you he does not believe you? How do you react when he treats your urgings to consider Christ with contempt? When he challenges the resurrection of Christ, or perhaps even questions whether the Lord Jesus Christ ever existed, what will you do?

The Apostle Peter tells you what to do, and it is not to walk away shaking your head and giving up on reaching that person. Notice, in verse 15, the phrase, “be ready always to give an answer.” The word “ready” translates a Greek word that means “prepared.” The word “always” means what it means. Always.[1] The word “answer” translates the Greek word apologia. Do not think apologize here, think apologetics. “The word was often used of the argument for the defense in a court of law. . . . the word can also mean an informal explanation or defense of one’s position (s. 1 Cor. 9:3; 2 Cor. 7:11) and the word would aptly describe giving an answer to the skeptical, abusive, or derisive inquiries of ill-disposed neighbors.”[2]

Keeping in mind that the Christian is involved in a spiritual warfare, let me suggest to you that there are two entirely different levels of thinking when one is engaged in combat, be it military conflict for a soldier, or spiritual conflict for the Christian:

 

First, THERE ARE TACTICS

 

I have been interested in military history since I was a grade school kid, spending hours in the school library reading about naval history, the history of air power, and the history of ground warfare. I can tell you that the discussions about what tactics are can go on for hours.

To put things very simply, tactics are used when one fighter pilot is trying to shoot down another plane, when a submarine is stalking a surface vessel to sink with a torpedo, or when privates, corporals, and sergeants are seeking to inflict harm on the enemy. You are engaged in tactics when, as a Christian, you are planning, praying, and perhaps plotting, to get your friend to church, or to get your coworker into a conversation about Jesus. You will employ spiritual tactics to overcome obstacles to help ensure that those you invite to our upcoming Harvest Day actually show up.

The goal of tactics is to bring the gospel to bear on someone so he will carefully consider the claims of Christ, trusting the Holy Spirit of God to work in his heart so that he will want to become a Christian.

 

However, THERE COMES A TIME WHEN A CHRISTIAN MUST EMPLOY STRATEGY

 

Granted, strategy is more difficult than tactics, more complicated than tactics, and requires more time than tactics. So, what is strategy as opposed to tactics? Strategy takes in the big picture. Strategy takes a step back from the immediate conflict. Strategy relies more on planning and preparation.

If tactics are involved in one airplane trying to shoot down another airplane, strategy is involved in planning and ordering an entire squadron of planes to take off, as well as directing their flight plans, and what the goal of their mission will be. Tactics are when one ship is engaged against another ship, while strategy is in view when a task force of 75 ships are sent on a peace keeping mission halfway around the world. Tactics are involved when a combatant is engaged against the enemy as a private, a corporal, a sergeant, or perhaps a lieutenant. By the time you are a colonel or a general, you are involved in strategy.

However, since there is no hierarchy in the Lord’s army, each one of us being equals, there will be times when each of us is called on to employ strategy. When would that be? It would be when you try to engage someone in a conversation that you hope to turn toward the Lord, but this guy turns out to be an atheist. He does not believe God created all things, because he denies the existence of God. He denies the need of a Savior because he denies the existence of sin. When you are dealing with that, my friend, The Roman’s Road gospel tract is a tactical waste of time, and using The Simple Plan Of Salvation is a tactic that will bear you no fruit.

 

Tactics are employed when you are trying to reach people using the same method again and again, with little real thought or imagination. When your tactics are effective, then by all means continue to use them. If you can reach people using The Romans Road gospel tract, then use it. If you can get people in by getting names, then for heaven’s sake do it.

However, the Apostle Paul used radically different approaches to reaching the lost because he discovered that the same tactics are simply not effective with everyone. In like manner, the Apostle Peter exhorted his readers to be ready to defend their claims about the Christian faith each and every time it was necessary to do so.

In other words, we have to do some strategic thinking as Christians if we are going to effectively reach people with the gospel. We have to employ different strategies so different people will be open to our claims that as sinners they need to turn to Jesus.

My sermon this morning will be very heavy on application, and will address some strategic thinking that focuses on people who are not initially receptive to our presentation of the gospel.

 

SERMON:

 

I told you that my sermon is titled “Worldview Wars.” I reminded you that the Christian life is very much a spiritual conflict that has many parallels to warfare. One difference between Christianity and bloody warfare, which is also a difference between Christianity and other religions, of course, is that Christians inflict no harm on those we seek to bring to Christ. We do not engage in sword point evangelism.

We make use of a sword, but it is the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. We carry a shield, but it is the shield of faith. Our helmet is the helmet of salvation.

What about the word “worldview”? To what am I referring in a sermon titled “Worldview Wars”? “The term worldview is a translation of the German word Weltanschauung, which means a way of looking at the world.”[3]

The reason it is more difficult these days to bring a sinner to Christ using a gospel tract like God’s Simple Plan of Salvation or The Romans Road is because our audience, the people we are trying to reach with our gospel message, are no longer likely to hold the same worldview as in days gone by.

If you examine the Christian worldview, you will see that there are three great pillars, prominent structural elements, upon which our view of reality, the right view of reality, is built. Keeping in mind that every philosophy adopted by men addresses the same fundamental questions, we will take note of how the worldview of others differs from the Christian worldview.

 

First, CONSIDER THE CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW

 

This is the Christian way of looking at existence, the Bible being our guide. Here are the three pillars:

First, there is Creation. Every worldview must address the notion of beginnings. How did we get here? Where did we come from? This consideration also goes a long way to answering the question, Who am I? The Bible informs us that God created the universe, as well as creating Adam and Eve in His image and after His likeness.

Next, there is the Fall. No one can deny the existence of evil in the world, but there are many explanations for what the source of the evil and suffering happens to be. The Bible teaches that God’s creation was initially “very good,” and that Adam and Eve were both created in a state of innocence. However, Adam sinned against God, the repercussions of Adam’s sin are felt throughout the human race, and throughout the entire universe. Thus, the rest of the explanation of Who am I? is also supplied in God’s Word.

Third, there is Redemption. What can I do about the problem of evil in the world? What can we do about the problem of evil in the world? How is the world to be set right again? The Bible, of course, reveals the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, the Perfect Sacrifice for men’s sins, Who suffered, and bled, and died on Calvary’s cross, who then rose from the dead, and who is now seated at God’s right hand in heaven. The individual sinner who turns from his sins and comes to Jesus Christ by faith is redeemed, forgiven all his sins, and will enjoy eternal bliss with the Redeemer. Is all this to be taken by faith? Yes, but keep in mind that, rightly understood, faith is not divorced from evidence and historically verifiable facts. Whether it is Creation, the Flood, the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, or a host of other considerations, we take no steps back from any other worldview as being so well-suited to the facts and so true to God’s Word as the Christian worldview.

 

Let Me Now Quickly Consider SEVERAL OTHER WORLDVIEWS

 

There are a variety of worldviews, from that held by Scientology, Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Marxism, feminism, or secular humanism. Recognizing that this sermon is only a survey of the “Worldview Wars,” allow me to touch lightly on three worldviews for the purpose of pointing out the more obvious errors, and to illustrate how the Christian goes about challenging erroneous worldviews:

First, we will consider Marxism. “Marxism fits the three categories of Creation, Fall, and Redemption so neatly that many have called it a religious heresy, which makes it a good sample to start with. It also remains an important philosophy for Christians to understand: Though the Iron Curtain has fallen, Marxism retains a powerful influence in many places in the world - especially on the American university campus. A French political philosopher recently said that nowadays when he wants to debate a Marxist, he has to import one from an American university.”[4] Karl Marx denied Creation because he denied the existence of God, and posited the eternity of matter. For him, the Garden of Eden was primitive communism, and the Fall was the development of private property. Redemption would come about, for Marx, when the proletariat, the working classes, rose up in bloody revolution to overthrow the capitalist aggressors. How do you overturn the false worldview of Marxism? Though economists and realists the world over have abandoned Marxism as a viable philosophy, since it simply does not work as an economic system, it must still be dealt with. What about the Marxist’s counter to Creation, the Fall, and Redemption? Marxism pretends matter is eternal and uncreated. That view no longer holds water among scientists, therefore Marxists only need to be shown what scientists increasingly accept. Denying the Fall and substituting the rise of private property as the source of all men’s troubles, Marxists deny the inherited sinfulness of mankind, and claim human nature can be transformed by altering society. A single example, please, anywhere in the world. As for Redemption, they claim it will come with bloody revolution. We claim it came with blood crucifixion, and we have a provable resurrection of Jesus Christ to back it up. Deal with these things and you may then be able to deal with your former Marxist in a more traditional way, employing the tactics of tracts, brochures, inviting to church, and so forth.

Next, consider Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Rousseau was actually the forerunner of Karl Marx, V. I. Lenin, Benito Mussolini, Adolph Hitler, Mao Tse Tung, and Pol Pot (who was educated in Paris, where he read Rousseau).[5] As well, even though they did not know they were, the Hippies of the 1960s and 1970s, the surfer dudes, and boys who just have to leave home to escape their dad always telling what to do, are actually spiritual descendants of Rousseau. You see, the starting point for Rousseau, his Garden of Eden, was what he called “the state of nature,” a time before such oppressive institutions as government, family, and marriage were developed to enslave man and deprive him of his freedom. “He denounced civilization, with its social conventions, as artificial and oppressive.”[6] “Virtually by definition, then, any relationships not a product of choice are oppressive - such as the biological bonds of family, the moral bonds of marriage, the spiritual bonds of the church, or the genetic bonds of clan and race.”[7] Now you know why it is so difficult to reason with that boy. His worldview is entirely different than yours is. He may not have a fully developed worldview like Rousseau, who advocated violent revolution as a means of destroying oppressive social structures, but he surely embraces Rousseau’s idea of absolute autonomy and individuality, personal and unaccountable sovereignty, you might call it. Paradoxically, Rousseau’s idea of individualism, that social institutions are wrong and enslaving, gives way to a surprising source of Redemption; the state. Our country’s Founding Fathers, of course, knew very well that the more powerful the state the less personal freedoms citizens would enjoy, but Rousseau’s “politics of redemption” has produced all kinds of Redemption perversions that masquerade as Christianity today, and clamor for government control of just about everything. Now, do you understand the Greens, and why those who used to be communists are now environmentalists? They all have the same worldview. How do you refute such a worldview? Challenge his view of creation. Challenge his view that man is only externally bad, rather than internally sinful. Challenge his view of Redemption by addressing the literal, bodily resurrection Christ. Then, begin to witness to him.

Finally, consider Islam. I must proceed quickly because of the time. Stated ever so briefly, Islam is a very underdeveloped religion, with an immature view of Creation, an immature concept of sin, and an immature concept of Redemption. Imagine a religion that guarantees Paradise only to those who die in a holy war while taking the lives of infidels. Please. Consider, first, Creation. Although Islam purportedly accepts the Genesis account of creation, their view of God is warped, and their view of man is warped by their denial that man is created in the image and likeness of God. As for the Fall, they do not truly believe in the inherited sinful nature of mankind, and thus have a terribly distorted view of Redemption, which includes denying that Jesus actually died on the cross. Hence, they deny the resurrection. The real difficulty with Islam is its insistence that Muslims not think, but merely accept the tenets of Islam without question. Of course, this is opposite the Biblical conception of faith, which requires thinking and reasoning.[8] However, if you can gently deal with Creation, to reinforce and strengthen what Islam is weak on, and build on that by addressing the literal resurrection of Christ, you might be able to establish a correct view of Redemption. After all, if Jesus rose from the dead, which can be established to a thinking and honest inquirer, then it is a relatively short step to the Fall, since only man’s Fall establishes the reason for Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Somewhere along that line of discussion God may very well give you an opening to bring that Muslim friend to church, or to discuss the claims of Christ with him over a cup of coffee.

 

We are in a war that is unlike any other warfare men have ever been involved in. Our war is not fought with flesh and blood, or with dangerous weapons. Nevertheless, our weapons are mighty to the pulling down of the strongholds of the mind. We want to employ the straightforward tactics of loving our fellow man and presenting the simple gospel, and we do so whenever we can. However, we increasingly find that we must alter our strategy, because more and more we encounter people with erroneous worldviews, seriously misunderstanding the Creation, the Fall, and Redemption. Therefore, we must prepare ourselves to defend the Christian faith and advance the saving gospel by clearing away the debris of false philosophies and making sure our audience knows that God created all things, that man is created in the image of God, that men are sinners by nature as a result of the Fall, but that Jesus saves.

We have corroborating facts on our side. We can establish that matter is not eternal, therefore it must be created, and who could have created it but God? We can establish that Jesus rose from the dead, with a certainty that all but the most willfully hardened will accept.

Using those and other facts, we can then resort to the more comfortable tactics we are familiar with, trusting God to bless our preparedness, trusting God to bless our obedience, trusting God to answer our prayers, trusting our God to save sinners the old, old way, through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I wish I had the time to deal with other worldviews, the Scientologists, the Buddhists, the feminists, and others, but I think you get the picture. We must employ the strategy of going to the root of our lost friend’s problem, his faulty worldview, before he will have any hope of grasping, understanding, embracing our message that Jesus saves sinners from their sins.



[1] Fritz Rienecker & Cleon Rogers, Linguistic Key To The Greek New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Regency Reference Library, 1980), page 758.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Nancy R. Pearcey, Total Truth: Liberating Christianity From Its Cultural Captivity, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), page 23.

[4] Ibid., pages 134-135.

[5] Ibid., page 137.

[6] Ibid., page 138.

[7] Ibid., page 140.

[8] Isaiah 1.18



Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org