I have been so blessed to be raised under godly men! Men who, while being far from perfect, have a great hunger for the things of God. I was blessed by having been raised by a Dad who, not only loved the things of God, but had me around great men of God. Men like Bro. David Miller, Bill Stafford, Herb Reavis and countless others. Not only have I been blessed by being around such wonderful men, I have been blessed by the great men of God that have influenced me through their wonderful books. Men with a passion for revival like Leonard Ravenhill, or with a love for doctrine and truth like John MacArthur, or even great preachers like Charles Spurgeon. Obviously, I could name countless others, both living and dead. But, one of my top 2 or 3 favorite books would be entitled, Hard To Believe by John MacArthur. I have mentioned this book a year or so ago before on this blog, but it is one of those books that I go to so often – so I thought it would be worth mentioning to you again. It exhorts me in presenting the Gospel correctly and encourages me to stand on it and preach truth in good times, and in adversity.
The Gospel has never been attractive to the natural man – but unfortunately, we have many churches today that desire nothing more than to put a new twist, or slight change, on it to make it more palatable. I was sharing with a pastor a little while ago, that there is no reaction that incites the Pharisees’ anger and frustration spoken of in Scripture, than when one stands and declares the Gospel clearly. When one points out the novel idea that walking down an isle, or filling out a card or “feeling saved” even, means absolutely nothing – their blood boils. The reaction especially in the “Bible-belt” can be astounding. The exclusivity of the Gospel has always been an inconvenient message to sinners, but the truth of the Gospel can not be negotiated. For the next few blogs, I am going to hone in on a couple of truths from Hard To Believe and use it as a reminder as to what we as believers should be doing, and understanding.
The title of Chapter 3 of Hard To Believe , is “Truth In A Privy Pot.” MacArthur uses 2nd Corinth. 4:5-7 and reminds us that, those God has called to proclaim the treasure of the Gospel are called “earthen vessels.” Now, I certainly don’t want to be crude, but an “earthen vessel” is a cheap baked clay pot, that is easily replaceable and valueless. God took these plain, replaceable pots and put the glorious light of the Gospel and called us to shine into a dark world! MacArthur says “We’re baked dirt, that’s what we are, carrying around the message of God’s eternal kingdom of light and life.” Is this ever more clearly illustrated than in the life of Paul, who was not a handsome man, who demonstrated no oratorical skill, who was crass, at times, to say the least? Paul has to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest demonstration of a believer, who ever lived. We are compared to “privy pots,” there is no need for explanation…we are clay bedpans. Isn’t it great that God is in the business of passing up the gold and silver bowls and just puts the treasure of the Gospel in us? Want a little self-esteem boost? Well, 1st Corinth. 4:13 calls us filth. We are called bedpans, then we are called scum. That is what the filth is, the scum that stays at the bottom of the pot. Wow, we have moved from bedpans to scum… that is not an upgrade. See, this is what is so difficult about a true Gospel…it has nothing to say “good” about us before salvation, and then when we are saved, there is nothing better about our flesh - but it is He who resides in us, that is wonderful. It is Christ that we can glory in! Now, this aids in the killing of pride, but what can our strategy be as believers? How can we deliver a true Gospel message? Calling people to hate self, calling people to die to self, telling people that we are not saved to do anything except bring glory to God in our life through our witness and in all that we do? MacArthur mentions five strategies that we will discuss over the next few weeks on this blog that I believe will help us tremendously! There is nothing to glory in ourselves about, but there is plenty for us to passionately proclaim of our Christ.