To help us deepen our theology and be equipped on how to engage with others in an intelligent and winsome way, John Elmore sat down with the Great Questions Ministry Panel to train us on the top four questions and biblical answers directly related to the MADE series in Genesis 1-3.
Made for a New World | Isaiah 11:1-16
Made to Be Saved | Genesis 3:15, 21-24
Made to Work | Genesis 3:17-19
Made to Gospel Our Relationships | Genesis 3:12-13
Made for a World Without Shame | Genesis 3:7-11
Made for a Different World | Genesis 3:1-7
Made for Relationships: Marriage | Genesis 2:18-25
Made for Relationship | Genesis 2:18-20
Made to Rest | Genesis 2:1-3
Made to Flourish | Genesis 2:4-25
God’s Heart for The Nations | Revelation 7:9-17
Made in the Image of God | Genesis 1:26-27
Great Questions Q&A Panel + MADE: to Teach | Genesis 1-3, 2 Timothy 2:24-26
How to Hear From God | Genesis 1:1-31
The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit | Genesis 1:1-5
To Know God is to Worship God | Genesis 1:3-25
Is Your God Too Small? | Genesis 1:1-2
You were made to teach, proclaim, and reach those who have not heard the gospel. The Great Questions Ministry panel helps us to see what it looks like to be prepared to give a defense of the hope that is within us. Our aim is not to be greater debaters but to help us be faithful missionaries.
In John Elmore’s closing sermon, MADE: to Teach, he challenges us on what being made to teach actually looks like in our lives. He explored the attributes, actions, and aim of the Lord’s servants.
John Elmore: Good morning, Watermark, and those who are exploring the faith or the church. I'm glad to be with you this morning. As you can already see, we're going to be having some fun today. The people who are on this stage are a part of a ministry called Great Questions. So, what you get today is not just to come to the gathering of the church, but you're coming to a ministry event.
It's a ministry event, Great Questions, that happens every single Monday from 7:30 to 8:30 in the South Community Room after re:generation, where skeptics and seekers can walk in without scheduling anything and ask any question they have regarding worldview, God, the faith, and the Bible. They can just ask anything in a setting with facilitators, who are actually more pastor than they are facilitator, who will engage them in thoughtful conversation. So, that's what we're doing today.
A couple of weeks ago, as we continue the Made series, TA knew I was up and that we have this message about God, apologetics, science, creation, and all of these things. He was like, "Hey, what if we did a panel?" I was like, "Dude, that's a great idea. Wait. What does that mean you think about my teaching?" But I was like, "No, that's a great idea. We should totally do a panel."
So, we're going to introduce to you these people who are going to walk us through four questions. The four questions we're going to discuss today are four that come from Genesis 1-3, as we go through Made. It just so happens that these questions are the ones Great Questions receives most often because they strike at a core thought of every person, like, "Who is God? How does he exist?"
One of the questions we're going to ask is: "How do you know your God is the one true God?" That comes from Genesis 1:1: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." Well, who is God? Then, secondly, we're going to address: "How can you say your Holy Scriptures are better or more right than all of the other holy scriptures that are out there, like the Qur'an and the Bhagavad Gita and all of the different ones?" So, we're going to address that. That comes from Genesis 1-3, as we walk through Scriptures, and really, the entirety of the Bible.
Thirdly, we're going to talk about creation and faith, and doesn't it somehow contradict science and evolution and the big bang? Which is Genesis 1-2 and the creation account, written by Moses by the Holy Spirit. Then, fourthly, the question of, "Okay. If God is good, then how can there be evil?" Which is the question that is found in Genesis, chapter 3. So, we continue Made through these incredible panelists and servants at Great Questions.
I want you to hear this too. This panel is comprised not of… In case you're like, "Well, where do they serve on staff?" They do someplace else within DFW, but not here at Watermark. These are simply brothers and a sister and others who have set their minds to study the things of God so they can speak into every worldview out there in hopes that they could lead others to Christ. So, with that in mind, let me introduce to you these incredible people. The first is Cassidy Webber. Shout-out to her family in California. Welcome, Cassidy.
Cassidy Webber: Thank you. Good to be here this morning.
John: Then we have Brett Bruster. Brett, you serve with a couple of other people, in particular, at Great Questions. Right?
Brett Bruster: Yeah. My wife joins us in a support role, and my younger son Travis is also a facilitator on the team with me.
John: Love it. Then we have Steven Ateek. I know some of you heard the last name "Ateek," and you're like, "Wait, wait." I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Is that really his better-looking brother Steven?" Yes, it is.
Steven Ateek: Definitely the "John the Baptist" character in my family. I've come to prepare the way for TA.
John: I have no idea what the Ateek parents did in raising up these boys, but they're throwing off some incredible talent. We need to have a panel with just the Ateek parents and be like, "What did you do? What did you do? Tell us everything." Then we have Alan Beam. He and his wife Ginni… Ginni writes for Watermark Resources, a lot of the curriculums, and with the Care ministries. Alan and his wife Ginni… We've been together for the last decade-plus serving together. So welcome to Alan.
Alan Beam: Thank you. Excited to be here.
John: All right. Here's another thing. There are four because on a Great Questions night they have four facilitators. By way of living illustration, you just stepped into Great Questions. Now, heads up. They're going to be throwing out a lot of information. You can capture what you want on your notes and in your phone, but we're also going to have a sermon guide that's going to give a lot of this to you that'll come out later in the week, so, that's okay too.
Then, secondly, everything we're doing today is not so you can be a better debater, that you can leave these walls and give a better debate to anyone who holds a different view, but rather, that you would have a better defense to give the hope that you have and be a more faithful missionary as you leave these walls. So, that is our aim and our intent today. With that, I'm going to start.
Now, they're going to be talking to me and not to y'all, because that's the format of Great Questions. Someone walks in, they present a question to a facilitator, and then they engage in a dialogue. It's not one-to-thousands. It's one-on-one. So, they're going to be answering me just as they do on a typical Monday night.
You need to know this too. We met up on Friday and kind of talked through everything, and Lois, our teaching coordinator… She goes, "Hey, you're being kind of mean." I'm like, "Well, I'm the skeptic." She's like, "Yeah. Dial it down some." So, instead of mean, I'm going to go snarky. I thought that might be a little more approachable for our crowd. With that in mind…
Hey, so, is this Great Questions? Am I in the right place?
Cassidy: Yes, you're in the right place.
John: You serve here? This is your thing?
Cassidy: I do. Yeah, I'm a facilitator with the Great Questions.
John: Okay, great, because my buddy said I could come here and you would have all the answers. So here I am, and I've got a question for you. The question is… So, you're a Christian. Is that right?
John: Great. That's what I was looking for, because I think it's incredibly bigoted, hateful, and arrogant that you would say your God is the one true God and that every other god…Allah and Vishnu and whoever else…that they're somehow not God. Like, how can you be so arrogant to say that? That's crazy.
Cassidy: Thank you, John, for your question. Thanks for the courage to ask it and your honesty in bringing it to us. I would say this is a really important question to ask. This is a question that I asked about seven years ago. I came to Dallas, and there were some people who came into my life and shared the Christian message with me. I had to really evaluate that. I'd grown up in the Jewish faith, so I was asking, "Is there one true God, and is it this way that I've known and believed my whole life or is there another way? Is the Christian faith the right way?"
So, what I started to do was I started to evaluate a lot of the major world religions. I quickly came to realize that each of them made exclusive claims that directly contradicted one of the core truths of another worldview. For example, if we were to just look at Islam, Judaism, and Christianity… In Islam, there are five foundational pillars to the faith. In one of them, it asks its followers to proclaim and to believe that there is one god, Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet. Yet, in contradiction to this, Jews will believe in Yahweh, the god of the Jewish Scriptures.
In Deuteronomy 6, there's a passage called the Shema, which just means hear in Hebrew, and it says, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." In modern days, Jews would reject the doctrine of the Trinity, which is really important to the Christian faith, and would reject Jesus as the Messiah. They would reject Jesus as God himself. Yet, in direct contradiction to this, Jesus says in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through me." So, again, we see these exclusive claims that more than one of them cannot be true.
So, after looking into this, I started to read more of the Christian Scriptures, the Bible, and I saw that the Bible is kind of set apart from some other holy books in that it is rooted in human history. The Bible is really a collection of 66 books. It's written by over 40 different authors in three different languages from three continents, and it's written over the span of about 1,500 years, yet all of these writings come together to tell one comprehensive and unified story of a God who has come to rescue his people. God most prominently displays his grace and mercy and his rescue of his people through the person of Jesus Christ.
So, I started to evaluate Jesus' life, and specifically his resurrection, because all of Christianity pivots around evidence for the resurrection of Jesus. I was honestly really overwhelmed with the amount of evidence in support of the resurrection. Just to look at a couple of them, we can first look at the lives of Jesus' disciples. These were the men who spent the majority of their time with Jesus in the last few years of his life, and they went from being cowards to strong ministers of the gospel message.
It says in Mark 14:50, when Jesus has been betrayed by Judas and delivered over to be crucified, that the disciples hid themselves, and they fled. In Matthew 26, there's an account of Peter denying that he ever even knew Jesus, multiple times. So, we see that they're fearful of what's going to happen to them just because of their association with Jesus, yet this all kind of flips on its head when Jesus raises back from the dead and appears to his disciples.
They see that this friend who had been publicly crucified is now with them, walking and talking with them. They believe he is their risen Lord, and they begin to proclaim this message, even at the hands of their persecutors. When they are pressured to stop preaching, they continue to preach. Eleven of the twelve disciples actually died martyr's deaths because they refused to stop preaching this message.
The apostle Paul continues to preach this message in his letter to the Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, he says, "I delivered to you what was of first importance, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and then he appeared to Peter and to the Twelve, and he appeared to more than 500 brothers at one time."
Paul is saying that there are many witnesses to these events, these events that Jesus was publicly crucified in front of many people, that he was buried in a well-known tomb, and that he rose back from the dead. At the time that Paul wrote this letter, a lot of those witnesses (at least hundreds of them) were still alive, and they were available for people to go ask about these events he had seen. So, Paul is imploring the readers of his letter to go ask about the resurrection events. I think this just begins to scratch the surface of answering your question, but I hope that's helpful.
John: (She didn't look at notes, by the way.) Well, you've given me some things to think about. I never thought about the fact that every world religion claims exclusivity. So, that's interesting. And I'll give you the fact that no other religion claims that their founder was the Son of God, and they don't have a resurrection story. I don't know why. It seems like that would be helpful. Maybe it's because it's difficult to counterfeit. So, that's interesting.
But as you talked, Cassidy, I heard you reference Scriptures. It begs the question… That feels a little bit like circular reasoning. I mean, I would say, like, how can I even believe your Scripture? So, thank you, but that doesn't make sense, because how can you say those are the Scriptures that God gave us and not the Qur'an, the Bhagavad Gita, the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Mormon, all of these other writings? They say theirs are the writings of God, so how can we say yours are true and that I can actually believe what you just said? Brett, would you have anything to contribute?
Brett: Sure. Thanks for asking, John, and it's a really good question. As Cassidy said, there's so much evidence for the resurrection, but there are actually many other lines of evidence for the reliability of Scripture. Prophecy would be one. There are literally hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament, and many of those have already come true.
There is one in particular I'd like to discuss, but before I do, I really want to just remind myself and you that Scripture itself claims to come from God. In 2 Timothy, Paul writes that literally all Scripture is breathed out by God. That's the term he uses. Then the apostle Peter emphasizes, especially in talking about prophecy, that no prophet ever wrote these things from his own understanding or his own imaginings, but rather that God, through the Holy Spirit, was moving these men to bring God's message to the world.
So, having said that, a really interesting prophecy comes from Isaiah 53. Isaiah was written about 750 BC, which was 750 years before the time of Christ. When we look at Isaiah 53, even most skeptics will have to acknowledge that it sounds so amazingly specific about the life and death of Jesus. So there's that. For a long time, critical scholars and skeptics suggested that that part of Isaiah had been added after the fact of Jesus' life in order to make it look as if there had been an accurate prophecy.
They stood on the fact that, at least up to that time, the oldest existing copy of Isaiah was about AD 1000, a thousand years after the time of Christ. That all changed when one day in the mid-1940s a Bedouin shepherd walked into a cave on the northwest coast of the Dead Sea at a place called Qumran, and he discovered many, many ancient scrolls stored there. Those are now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
One of those scrolls contained a complete copy of Isaiah, and that copy of Isaiah reads exactly as our Isaiah does today. What's especially interesting about that case is that, as scientists studied and put all of their techniques for dating it, they actually have confirmed beyond question that that particular copy of Isaiah was made over 100 years, at least, before Christ lived. So, with that one discovery, the critique of Isaiah's prophecy kind of melted away.
Now, there's another really interesting case. Many people, whether Christians or not, know of King David and the story of King David. It's very prominent and important in Scripture. But for many, many decades of critical scholarship, those skeptics have doubted even the existence of David and his kingdom and Solomon his son.
They would suggest, "Well, if they did exist, it wouldn't be with the grandeur and splendor that we see of the kingdom, and so forth, in Scripture. It's legendary. It's fictional." They stood on the ground that there had never been an archaeological find that would actually point without question to there having been a King David and a kingdom that he was in charge of. But in 1993, there was an archaeological dig at a place called Tel Dan. It's actually the site of the ancient city of Dan in the north of Israel.
What they found there, amongst many things, was a stela, which is just simply an upright stone. They were created and inscribed to commemorate, typically, some great victory, for example, of a king. This one was inscribed in Aramaic, and it is commemorating the king of Aram, who in all probability, at this time, would have been Hazael. We can read about him beginning in 2 Kings, chapter 8.
In this, it's celebrating the king of Aram's victory over the king of Israel and his ally, the king of the house of David. Now, scholars clearly understood a number of things were demonstrated there. First of all, it was a direct reference to the house of David, which means his kingdom and his sons and the kings who followed. It's also confirming another thing, though. You notice that his victory is over the king of Israel and the king of the house of David. That would be Judah.
So, he's also confirming that there was this division in the kingdom brought about after Solomon's death with his son's unfaithfulness. So, we get a lot of confirmation of things that had never been archaeologically demonstrated. Those are just two examples, but I think there are so many more that really can, if we examine them, give us confidence in the Scripture's reliability. I don't know if that's helpful, but I'd like to offer that out, and we can continue the conversation.
John: Yeah, I've never heard those things before, and you present a good case, but I don't think I'm convinced yet, because I've also done other research. The Scriptures you're testifying to and trying to prove also say that God just created everything and that if we just have faith that God created everything, then we wouldn't have to believe in modern science, the big bang, and evolution. I find that completely contradictory…God, faith, and science, evolution, big bang. So, what would you have to say with that, because at the very beginning it says God created all this?
Steven: John, whenever words like faith, science, and evolution are used, I think it's super important first to be sure that you and I are aligned, that we're saying and meaning the same thing. I'd hate to run the risk of misrepresenting your position. So, if faith is simply going to be defined as blind, irrational belief, where there's a lack of evidence, that's gullibility. That's not faith. That's more in line with wishful thinking.
I would define faith as trust and confidence in evidence that's not only reliable, but it's reasonable. The Oxford dictionary defines science as the study of the structure and behavior of the natural, physical world through observation and experimentation. Now look. Science is an incredible, wonderful branch of knowledge, and it deals with the questions of how. It studies predictability in nature, repeatability, and process.
But there are just simply questions science is not designed to answer, like…Why does the universe exist? What is the purpose and meaning of life, love, and relationships? Are we alone in the universe? Why is there so much pain and suffering in this life, and what happens to us after we die? These are questions of philosophy.
If by definition science is the study of the physical, natural world, it has absolutely nothing to say about God. So, if somebody argues, "I cannot believe in God because of science," that's like using a thermometer to measure weight. You're using the wrong tool. God, by definition, is a non-natural, non-nature being. He is supernatural.
With regard to creation, the big bang… Look. All of us find ourselves living in this universe, so there are really two options. Either something created us or nothing created us. Prior to the 1930s, most scientists believed the universe itself was eternal, that it did not have a beginning, but in 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe was expanding, and that expansion could be traced back to a point of infinite density, the singularity which in itself was nothingness.
This paved the way for the big bang theory two years later, which was confirmed in 1964 by Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias, who won a Nobel prize when they discovered the radiation afterglow, which was essentially the remnant heat left over by the big bang. Even Stephen Hawking, famous theoretical physicist, is quoted in his book The Nature of Space and Time in 1996 as saying, "Today, most everyone believes that the universe and time itself began at the big bang."
So, if time, space, matter, and energy did not exist prior to the big bang, then whatever created time and space would have had to have been timeless and spaceless. If no matter existed, whatever created matter would have had to have been immaterial. It would have had to have been extremely powerful to cause something to come out of nothing, and personal to be able to will something into existence.
So, we have a timeless, spaceless, immaterial, extremely powerful, personal, uncaused first cause of the universe. It sounds a lot like God as revealed in the Old and New Testament and almost like the phrase big bang is just science trying to put a name on the events in Genesis, chapter 1. If you're going to say, "No, I reject that. That is simply God of the gaps. I hold that there is no God, no design, no purpose, no plan, no order in the origin of things," then fine.
But as a rational, thinking person, you have to answer the questions…How can something come from nothing? How can life come from non-life when science has never once been able to demonstrate through observation and experimentation something coming from nothing, life coming from non-life? Talk about blind faith in miracles.
Where did consciousness arise from? How about rationality and morality? These are just simply questions science can't answer. With regard to evolution, come on Monday nights. We can have a blast looking at all of the different options from macro to micro evolution to debates between phyletic gradualism and punctuated equilibrium, which… Okay, you're giving me a funny look.
John: Punctuated equilibrium. Are you just trying to talk over me? What is that?
Steven: So, a gentleman by the name of Stephen Jay Gould was a paleontologist, resident professor of evolutionary biology at Harvard for most of his career, and he actually happened to be the curator of the American Museum of Natural History. This man knew more about the fossil record than anyone before him and anyone after him.
In 1972, he and Niles Eldredge released a paper entitled Punctuated Equilibrium, basically stating the fossil record does not support traditional Darwinian evolution due to the tremendous number of gaps and the lack of transitional forms. So, he essentially put this theory together, which took Darwinian evolution out of science and into philosophy to fill in those gaps. So, come on Monday night. We can dig in a lot more on that.
Look. I'll leave you with this. You asked, "Isn't faith in God and creation completely contradictory to everything we now know because of science?" and I would say, John, without faith in God… Any worldview without him leads to irrationality, because it cannot consistently provide the preconditions necessary to make intelligible use of things like scientific methodology, the ability to draw scientific conclusions, the laws of logic, moral absolutes, and the inductive principle, otherwise known as the uniformity of nature, the idea that the future will be like the past, which not only all of science depends upon but all proof depends upon.
John, rejection of faith in God leads man to a place that the Bible calls foolishness, just as if somebody was to get up here onstage and say, "No air exists," all the while they're sitting here breathing air. Every day of our lives, mankind lives inside of God's universe, under his grace, breathing in the air of his revelation while using that air to argue against him. Scripture is clear. This has never been an issue of the intellect or a lack of evidence. It's an issue that we're sinners. We're naturally rebels at heart.
The Israelites in the desert… The Pharisees and the religious leaders in Jesus' day got to see things you and I could only dream of seeing that we think would convince us…the lame being healed, the blind being able to see, even dead people being raised from the dead. It didn't convince them. They all the more hardened their hearts, and they crucified the Lord of glory.
Romans, chapter 1, tells us that since the beginning of time, God's invisible qualities…his divine nature and his eternal power…have been made clear, being understood from what has been made, so that all of us are without excuse. In other words, there will be no person who stands before him and says, "I just didn't know. I just didn't have enough evidence." John, God's response to you and to me is "No, you do know me," but in our sinfulness we suppress that truth.
As John writes in his gospel, light has come into the world, but men loved darkness rather than light. The true light that gives life to mankind came into the world he created, and the world did not receive him. He came to his own and they rejected him. But to those who did believe, to those who did receive him and believed in his name (that's what faith is), he gave us rights to become children of God. I hope that's good news and that's encouraging to you and somewhat helpful.
John: All right. I'll concede for the sake of argument that your God is the one true God, that your Scriptures are the only true Scriptures, and that he created everything. Great. Then that means he created evil. How could this all-knowing, all-good, all-powerful God put me through what I've been through, what my family has been through, that he made that evil and stood by and did nothing? So, what do you have to say about that?
Alan: That's a really good question, John. It's one that I think I can safely say we've all wrestled with at some point in our lives, because when you see evil and suffering in the world and you experience it in your own life, you can't help but wonder, "How could God allow this?" I want to start by defining evil, because evil isn't a thing on its own. We have a name for darkness because we know what light is. In the same way, we have a name for evil because we know what good is.
God is the standard of good, and evil is anything that is contrary to the nature of God. This idea of God being the standard of good is what C.S. Lewis was getting at when he wrote, "A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line." In Romans 2:15, we read that God wrote his law on our hearts, and that's how we have this idea of a straight line. It's how we can, at least to some degree, differentiate between good and evil.
You said that God created evil, and I want to challenge that. We read in Genesis 2 that God created humans, and we know he did that so he could be in relationship with us and so we could love him, but without free will, we can't have love. Without free will, we would be puppets or robots just doing what we were programmed to do. With free will, we can choose to love him, but we can also choose to not love him, and that's what we did, and it's what we continue to do today.
In Genesis 2:17, God warns Adam and Eve, "Hey, if you disobey me, you will certainly die." This wasn't a threat of punishment. It was a promise about the reality of turning away from God. God is the source of life, and if you turn away from the source of life, you're turning toward death. So, in Genesis 3, when Adam and Eve sinned, they were the ones who introduced evil and sin and death and disease into the world.
Romans 5:8 tells us, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God in his love and mercy sent his Son Jesus to suffer at the hands of evil, to die on the cross in our place, and raised him back to life so we could have salvation, so we could be reconnected back to the source of life. That raises the question…If we're reconnected back to the source of life, why do we still suffer? Second Peter 3:9 addresses that.
Peter says, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance." So, in God's patience, he's giving us more time so that more people can be saved. In the meantime, that means we are going to suffer the consequences of our own sin, the sin of others, and the brokenness of this world.
If somebody is going through something hard…maybe they have a spouse who is going through cancer treatments or a parent who has passed away…bringing to mind crooked lines and free will and God's patience doesn't always provide peace and comfort, and it can leave them wondering, "Does God want me to be happy, and does God even care?" To the first question, I would say that, yes, God wants you to be happy, but that's not his highest goal for you. God cares more about your holiness than about your happiness.
In Romans 8:28, it says, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Note that it doesn't say he works all things for the happiness of those who love him but for the good. As a parent of four kids, I absolutely identify with that. Very frequently, what is best for my kids is not what makes them happy. God will allow us to go through seasons of unhappiness if it's ultimately for our good.
To the second question, "Does God care?" Scripture is abundantly clear that, yes, God cares. First John 4:8 and 16 both say God is love. It's a declaration about the nature of who God is. He is love, and when you love somebody, you absolutely care if they're hurting. Exodus 34:6 says, "The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness…"
I don't have time to go through all of those descriptions of God's character, but just focusing on the first one… God is a compassionate God, so when we're hurting, he has compassion on us. Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." So, when we're hurting, when we're going through pain and suffering, we can remember that God loves us, that his heart is full of compassion for us, and that even if we don't feel his presence, we can know he is near.
To wrap up, I want to go back to 2 Peter 3:9 when it said, "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise…" The Lord will keep his promise. The Lord will one day deal fully and finally with sin. He will eradicate evil, and he will make all things new. We, as believers, when we go through pain and suffering, can hold on to that hope.
John: Y'all, what an incredible job. I think you've seen they're more pastors than facilitators, but they're prepared to give a defense for the hope that is within them to anyone who would ask. So, let's thank again our incredible Great Questions panelists. Great job, y'all. Thank you.
So, we're going to have a brief message now to wrap up and in conclusion. I want to say what I said in the beginning. Our aim today is not to make you a greater debater but rather to make you a faithful missionary for when you leave these walls. As we're walking through this Made series, the passage I want to walk us through is 2 Timothy 2. What you're going to see there is that we are made to teach, made to proclaim, made to reach those who do not yet know the Lord. So, with that, 2 Timothy 2:24-26:
"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 come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."
We're going to see three things in this passage. The first is the attributes of the Lord's servant, the second is the actions of the Lord's servant, and thirdly, the aim of the Lord and, thus, the Lord's servant.
We're told that God's kindness leads us to repentance. So, as image bearers of the Lord, he now says, "So you also be kind to everyone." Not just to those you really like, who are like you, who maybe office next to you, who you enjoy getting lunch with, not the annoying neighbor, not the coworker you kind of despise, but rather he says, "Be kind to everyone." Everyone meaning everyone. Then, also, to be patient and gentle.
Then there's the most important attribute of them all, which is actually more of an identity than an attribute, but the identity informs an attribute and a mentality. It's this where he says, "The Lord's servant." A servant does the bidding of his master. The Lord, that name kurios, is master. Here we are told we are his servants, which means we do his bidding. We no longer live for ourselves but rather for the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us. We now live for his bidding. Those are the attributes.
If that's the case, if you're like, "Yeah, I have a long way to go before I can represent Christ faithfully like that," then praise God. We're all on a continuum of growing in the Lord and sanctification. Be an observer of Great Questions. Go to one of the Core studies that you can find with our Equipping class. Enroll in Equipped Disciple. Come to men's and women's Bible study. There are so many different things.
You can look at the sermon guide for today, which is going to have resources and podcasts and videos that can point you to these things, that you can rightly give a defense of the faith. Why you need to be able to teach is because you have what they don't. You have been saved. You know Jesus. Everyone has sin, but not everyone has a Savior. You must be able to give them what they don't have.
I got home from work one day, and I was going through the mail, and one of the things was from a ministry we support called Voice of the Martyrs. It's for the persecuted church all around the world in closed and persecuted nations. The particular thing was about the Nigerian believers who have been forced from their home at gunpoint by militant Muslims, saying, "You can leave your house or you can leave this world. It's ours now."
So, the Voice of the Martyrs was saying, "Hey, believers around the world, could you please help these Nigerian believers who have now been displaced? Families are being killed and cattle taken. They have nothing. Could you give?" So I was like, "Hey, kids, come to the table." We're sitting there at dinner. "All right. Here's the deal. What if some people showed up at our house at gunpoint and took everything? Well, that has happened to our brothers and sisters across the world. Do you want to give to them?" We involved the kids in the conversation.
One of them was like, "Yes. How much? Let's give them $50." I was like, "Okay. Does anybody think we should give more?" Somebody else threw out another number, which made me a little nervous. I was like, "Okay. All right." Then my oldest said, "No! That's not enough either. We have to give more." I was like, "Well, how much do you think we should give?" He's like, "More!" and he throws out a number. "That's not enough. More." Because he knows what we have they don't. They have nothing.
Spiritually speaking, the people we're engaging with have nothing, and we have everything if we have Christ, yet somewhere along the line, just like my son who has this zeal for "Give it all to them. They have nothing…" We have lost our way. We're like, "Well, I'm saved, so they can figure it out on their own. I just want to live a comfortable life. That would be awkward to engage in a conversation. I have what they need, but, frankly, I don't want to give it to them because I'm just concerned about myself."
"Able to teach." We must give them what they don't have. "How can they believe if they do not hear, and how can they hear if someone doesn't tell them?" Scripture says. This is part of living out and embodying two of the core values of Watermark, which are courageous faith and missional living, that we would live fully transformed to love like Christ.
Secondly, it says to patiently endure evil. Now, if you're sharing your faith, you will be faced with evil, and you will need to endure that evil, because as you go forward and say, "Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through the Son. There are not many paths up the mountain. There is one God who came down the mountain, God in flesh, Jesus Christ. Let me introduce you to him. These Scriptures are the only Holy Scriptures, and the others are concoctions, teachings of demons that aren't holy," you'll endure evil.
I'm sure you'll say it in a more winsome way as you engage in that, but those are the realities. When you say, "There is absolute truth. There is one true God. There is one person, one name through which men must be saved, Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12)," you will be met with evil. So, the Scripture says to endure evil. Not to flee from it, not to think that it won't happen, but to endure it.
So, for the image of endurance, I want to pull out this river rock. Frankly, I wish I could bring a boulder, but I couldn't hold it. The idea is this river perpetually flowing against this rock all day, every day, but the rock doesn't move in the river. Even though other rocks are pounding against it and the water is pressing against it, it is immovable in the river. You're like, "Okay. I get it. I'm supposed to endure evil like that." No. Rather, you're like the little rock.
This would get tossed throughout the river, but instead would hide itself, run to the cornerstone, Jesus Christ, and from him, from his strength, from his solidarity, from his foundational existence, you would be able to endure evil. You cannot endure evil by gumption or a mindset or endurance but rather through the person of Jesus Christ. So you, smaller stone, go to your living stone, Jesus, and you will be able to endure evil.
Then it says correcting with gentleness. Correcting with gentleness assumes a conversation. You can't correct if you're not in a conversation, because there's no conversation. There's nothing to correct. Also, correcting assumes that you've shared. Now they've shared something contrary, and now you're going to say with gentleness, "Hey, let me offer you a different viewpoint." You heard our panelists do it in a really winsome way, like, "Have you ever considered? How would you reconcile this?" and with gentleness. Not arguing, not quarrelsome, but with gentleness correcting them.
Yours is to scatter seed, to water seed, and God will give the growth. He's the one who will make the dead come to life, that they would come to their senses. It's a phrase Jesus used of the story of the prodigal son…come to their senses. Meaning, they are in a distant land far from God, devouring all the pagan life that you yourself once did. As Steven said, quoting Romans 1, it says, "Who by their wickedness suppress the truth," though what is plain about God has been made known to them by all that exists…his eternal power, his divine nature.
So, we are there with an aim not to win an argument but to win a soul, that they might come to their senses. Then, thirdly, they are not your enemy. No one outside of these walls is your enemy. No matter how much hate they spew at you when you share Christ, they are not your enemy. They've been taken captive by the Enemy. It says, "That they could escape the snare of the Devil, after having been captured by him to do his will."
Anyone else walking this earth… The militant Muslim who took away the Nigerian Christians' house is not their enemy. They have been taken captive by the Enemy, that God might grant them repentance. The Lord's servants, his attributes, his actions, and always our aim. But as I said before, you're not to be a better debater but a faithful missionary. Frankly, if you thousands of people invite your friends to Great Questions, maybe some will show up, but what if you went out there and engaged culture with their great questions?
There's an adage, "Put a rock in someone's shoe." Give them something to think about. Put a rock in their shoe. So, this whole service I have had a rock in my shoe, and I gave you a rock when you walked in. You received a rock. I'm inviting you right now to take your rock and put it in your shoe. Some of you are like, "Oh, I should have gotten a smaller rock."
If you chose a big rock, or maybe you're wearing flats, put it in your pocket. You keep that rock. Let that rock be a rock in your shoe that you are the Lord's servant to proclaim to those who are dying and going to hell. Jesus Christ, God in flesh, died the death they deserved and rose from the dead that they could be saved. So, you keep that rock in your shoe or in your pocket or on your desk until you put a rock in someone else's shoe.
Let it be a reminder. "My sole existence is to put a rock in someone else's shoe." And let it be today. Let it be today that you would pray, "God, who would you have me share with? God, are you asking me to go to that neighbor I despise? God, would you use me? I'm shy and timid. I'm an introvert." Would it be today, and let it be today that we stand and sing to our risen Savior until that rock in their shoe becomes Jesus Christ, the Cornerstone, in their soul.