June 27, 2017

From Michael : 2/10/10: Real Apologetics

A brief word from Michael

The ultimate apologetic is to a dying man.

That is what all those “Where is God?” statements in the Psalms are all about. They are, at least partially, invitations to Christians to speak up for the dying.

All the affirmations to God as creator and designer are fine, but it is as the God of the dying that the Christian has a testimony to give that absolutely no one else can give.

We need to remember that each day dying people are waiting for the word of death and RESURRECTION.

The are a lot of different kinds of Good News, but there is little good news in “My argument scored more points than you argument.” But the news that “Christ is risen!” really is Good News for one kind of person: The person who is dying.

If Christianity is not a dying word to dying men, it is not the message of the Bible that gives hope now.

What is your apologetic? Make it the full and complete announcement of the Life Giving news about Jesus.

Comments

  1. You’re right. These are beautiful words.

    I suppose that’s why even for myself, I long to hear the gospel and the word of life and resurrection – I am a dying man. The hope of resurrection in Christ is our hope today and our hope tomorrow.

  2. Good to hear from you, brother. You know how your words resonate with me.

  3. After over 6 years of seminary, a DMin., 9 years of counseling ministry, 15 years of pastoral ministry, countless books read and seminars attended, I have finally come to the same conclusion Michael. God bless you. “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Christ is risen, that is why dead and dying mankind can live and live again.

  4. I think Paul said it best ‘All creation groans awaiting the adoption to come’ Jesus has conquered death and by accepting him our death becomes something awesome… a transformation into a new life. But there is so much more… many of us live our entire lives as if we were dead already and yet Jesus’ victory over death gives us a victory over life also… so that we can live fuller more abundant lives.

    • “many of us live our entire lives as if we were dead already ”
      So true. And many of us live as though we will never die. It is not until we face our own death or the death of someone precious to us that the wonderful message of resurrection carries real weight in our lives.
      Death is not the end. It is the beginning. Only in that is there hope for the present.
      Yesterday our 3 year old grandson was diagnosed with leukemia. Today, toxic chemicals began a war with his little body to fight the invaders. We fight death, but through all of this we are reminded that death has already been defeated. And our Savior’s victory was authenticated by the empty tomb.

  5. Michael writes, “We need to remember that each day dying people are waiting for the word of death and RESURRECTION.”

    Yes, Michael, we do. We are all dying…some sooner, some later. BUT, we will meet again on that resurrection day that God has appointed. Some of us will meet for the first time, but I hope we will recognize each other somehow. It’s all quite a mystery but a wonderful mystery.

    In the end, all we can do is cling to the promises, love, life of Jesus. One of the favorite things that Jesus said that I like to keep in mind is, “Be not afraid.” Let those words of Jesus rest in you to bring you peace.

  6. Scott Eaton says:

    I have nothing more to add except, “Amen,”

  7. David Cornwell says:

    The proliferation of television dramas about the presence of ghosts, mediums, and communicating with the dead simply point out the hopelessness of this present age and culture. As followers of Christ we serve the One who has uttered a final word, who has been raised from the dead, and who will resurrect the dead on that day. After His promise, who can find any satisfaction in communicating with a wispy ghostly presence which fades as quickly as it is sensed. Christ is risen!

    And yes indeed, this is what brings hope to those on the bed of death.

  8. I can remember like it was yesterday. The sky was rich deep blue with just enough puffed white clouds to add dimensional perspective on that summer afternoon. It was a great afternoon filled with all those childhood sounds and sights of play outlined in deepening hues of reds and blues.

    “Marv, it’s time to come home” echoed that voice over the neighborhood as Dad called from the porch steps.

    “But Dad, it’s early and my friends are still playing outside!”

    “I know but there’s always tomorrow and it’s time for you to come home now,” lovingly answered Dad.

    Homeward bound I glanced over my shoulder and saw my friends looking toward their homes knowing that time was drawing to a close on that summer evening.

    So it is for each of us. No matter when the call comes it always brings a bittersweet sense of loss softened by the knowledge that another day will dawn tomorrow. After all, haven’t we lived the cycle of days, for so long, that we know intuitively tomorrow will come again?

    As I’ve moved into my sixth decade I can clearly see approaching shadows of the evening of my life. And I can almost anticipate the sound of His voice calling for me to “come home” maybe before my family, and friends, hear their calls too.

    This time it is different. This time I’ll find how all the days and times of this mortal life are only types and shadows of the eternal reality I’ll soon experience as I awaken to that new day without end.

    With greater clarity I savor the deep richness of life and ponder the eternal promise of His Word. More than ever the truth of grace, given in “everlasting life”, fills my mind with hope and great anticipation for what must be for me and others known to Christ.

    I long to understand how such things can be and what it must be like to awaken on that bright morning. Yet my heart aches over what might have been, what ought to have been, and what may never be, in this mortal life of mine.

    But then my mind returns to the simple act of confessing faith and resting in His infinite love for me as all believers have done throughout the ages. And I find peace knowing that my experience is “the human experience” for reasons I cannot fathom in this life. So I hold fast to Christ’s promise that “this day you shall be with Me in paradise” just as He said moments before the end of His mortal life. And Christ’s promise is enough.

    So with increasing resolve I’ll rest knowing, that maybe, I’m just going home a little sooner than some.

    It is all because of Jesus Christ, Son of God, who gave His life for all my failings; and loves me unconditionally; and has promised never never to leave me; and has given life everlasting without end. The Bible tells me so and it is more than enough…

  9. So beautiful. Thank you.

  10. Michael, you have helped me accept my clay feet. You have helped me know grace. You have helped me understand that HE holds us…not because we are good, but because HE is good. May the simplicity of His peace be all around you at this time.

  11. Thanks for that, Michael. Reminds one of Richard Baxter’s famous saying

    “I preached as never sure to preach again and as a dying man to dying men.”

    Praying for you, brother.

    R.

  12. Amen. And we’re all dying…some just take a while longer. But are we really living — “life to the full” (John 10:10). “Let everything that has breath (as long as they have breath) praise the Lord!”

  13. With tears, I have no other words that to tell you how much I love you, brother.

  14. Waltzing Matilda says:

    This brought tears to my eyes.

  15. Your labour of love is not in vain. It has touched many lives, including mine. Your example is a substatial encouragement.

  16. Beautiful words, Michael. Amen. Christianity is the only faith in which eternal life is offered and begins right away; the kingdom is available here and now, in us through Jesus. Like many here, I’ve come to believe that living and speaking that reality is the best apologetic. May our Lord bless you and keep you and give you peace.

  17. Michael,

    As always, you have a gift for focusing on the heart of the matter. Thank you for this…and for so much else.

    “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.” Philemon 1:4-7

  18. I know of nothing smart to say but I’m here sitting with you. Another Mike

  19. Sitting and praying with you from afar, Michael. Wish it could be closer. Much love to you, my friend.

  20. The only apologetic that makes sense to me these days is to know that God, our Father, is always generous kind to our souls. We are acceptable to him through the finished work of Christ and kept by the power of his Spirit.

    Michael, I have never met you, but I consider you among the dearest brothers I have ever known. May our generous Father’s grace and peace be with you and your family today.

  21. Thank you Michael.

    Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die.”

  22. we’re all dying men. So good to hear from you my friend. Praying for you today as I often do.

    • and I should add that the hope of resurrection which is Jesus as you so clearly remind us is nothing to sneeze at. I was deathly sick 7 years ago now and found no comfort like I did in the Psalms… the words gave voice to mine. Eugene Peterson has an excellent chapter in his splendid book Leap Over A Wall on dying and how we are a people who avoid our brothers on death’s doorstep for any # of reasons. You might appreciate the chapter Michael if you have the strength to read–as would anyone who considers themselves a minister of the gospel.

  23. The day before my mother died from her cancer I read Colossians 3:3. For you have died, and your life is hidden in Christ in God. I told her that when Paul wrote this to the church at Colossae, he was speaking to the believers living at that time. and thus he’s saying the same to us in our day. Today, this day, I have died and my life is hidden in Christ. The fact of my life being hidden in Christ is more comforting and valuable than anything else this world can offer. God has hidden my life in Christ, thus no one, not my enemies, not the devil. no one and no thing can find me and take me away from God. I didn’t know she going to die the next day. But I am grateful that God used that moment to give comfort both to her and to me. Thank you Michael for everything you do and God bless you.

  24. Moving, Inspiring, Encouraging, Challenging but most of all…….Changing.

    Thank you Michael – in my prayers.

    To God be all the glory.

  25. Amen is right! What better News could there possibly be then death doesn’t mean the end, nothingness, darkness? Not only do we get eternal life with Love Himself, we get to home! Oh that everyone could know this joy!

    Amazing post, as usual!

  26. Dinah Clarke says:

    Michael

    Your posts have blessed me, and also those to whom I have passed them on at need.

    I can see the end of the road, but you can see it closer and clearer ….. yet I look forward to meeting you in person at last in the presence of Christ.

    The book of Job always comforts me …. because God doesn’t explain Himself, He just offers Himself.

    May God our Father hold you and keep you in His peace.

    Dinah

  27. Spot on, glad you felt up to writing. My family and I pray for you each day.

  28. I have nothing to add to the conversation aside from I’m praying for you and your family. I’m a long-time reader and lurker and am constantly pointing people to your writings as I have been so blessed by the truth you so eloquently express.

    Thank-you so much for your heart, transparency and willingness to write the uncomfortable we all need to hear. I truly believe that much of your writing is, dare I say it, prophetic.

    Blessings brother.

  29. Michael, as we’ve written to you, you’ll probably never know how much your writings mean to us. This one boils it down succinctly. Christ’s message is given to us,
    terrifying, (yes, we are dying)
    -the ultimate and only real good news
    EvanF and SusanF

  30. Amen

  31. Thank you for the gift of your words of life. I pray for you often–sometimes, selfishly, because I miss you…

  32. Powerful, makes all the arguing over minor, non salvation oriented stuff seem useless. IM God bless you on your journey. He has already taken the trip, and His guidance is reliable. You have blessed so many. Keep bloggin’ we need the focus. Through Christ we can do all things.

    Peace

  33. As I read this post, Michael, it seemed I could hear a hymn from my youth…

    I can hear my Savior calling
    I can hear my Savior calling
    I can hear my Savior calling
    And I’ll go with Him – with Him – all the way

    Enjoy the embrace waiting for you, Michael. We’re right behind you. Tell Him we’ll be there soon.

    All my love cannot muster the words of gratitude for the way you have touched us with yours. Vaya con Dios, mijo. Gracias.

  34. Michael Spencer is such a blessing to all Christians in the theological blogosphere. He truly makes us come down our ivory towers and look at theology through the lens of the nitty-gritty aspects of life (unlike so many tight-collared PhD holders teaching at seminaries). Thank you Michael and may God’s providential hand be upon you during this very difficult time you and your family are going through now.

  35. Thanks for this. You provided so much wisdom in such a short post.

  36. Amen, May God bless and comfort.

  37. “Whoever loses his life, for my sake and the sake of the Gospel, yet will he find it.” It doesn’t always mean martyrdom.

  38. Michael, you are one of a very few people who have helped me understand that God doesn’t want to crush me, He wants to love me.

    Sometimes I’m hating life, but when I remember that God knows all our heartaches I can deal with it. God knows.

  39. “When the men came to Jesus, they said, “John the Baptist sent us to you to ask, ‘Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?’ …So he replied to the messengers, ‘Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me.’ ” – Luke 7:20,22-23.

    • This felt like a drive-by scripture reference, so I wanted to clarify. Jesus is our apologetic. The reponse of Jesus to John the Baptist wasn’t theology or doctrinal arguments; his answer was himself.

  40. I have taught apologetics as a formal discipline and studied it for 40 years. Michael, you have written of the real role apologia should play in the life of us all. We are all “dying men among dying men” and should remind ourselves every single day of our ultimate hope: the resurrection of Christ guarantees our resurrection. Thank you for taking the time, in your trial and suffering, to once again minister to those of us who love you.

    Please, friends who profit from Michael’s ministry, send real monetary support to Michael and Denise. These are two precious people, not just people behind a blog spot! I have never met them, except through this blog, but I love them and thank God for them and pray all of you who feel the same love will respond when they need us right now.

  41. Michael,

    Thank you for your life and ministry. I stumbled across your blog several years ago when I was going through a difficult time in the church where my husband and I were both on staff. Your words have meant so much to me over the years. I’m always encouraging others to read your inspired posts and the thoughtful comments of your readers.

    You and your family are in my prayers daily.

  42. “If Christianity is not a dying word to dying men, it is not the message of the Bible that gives hope now.”

    Outside of Scripture, this is the most significant thing I’ve read in the last several years.

  43. Amen, Michael. God bless you forever.

  44. Christopher Lake says:

    Michael, sometimes the shorter posts are the best, and this is one of the best that I have ever read from anyone. Thank you, brother. You give us more to think on, and *act* on, here, than is probably found in many theological treatises. Christ is risen, and that is the *only* reason that we have hope– but since He is risen, we have hope in this life and beyond. I’m praying for you.

  45. Recent follower of imonk, longtime follower of JC.

    Thanks for the reminder. My glasses get fogged up from time to time. Now I see better again.