A Few Example Posts:

  • "The End of Faith: A Short Response to Sam Harris"
  • See also:
  • "A Long Response to Sam Harris' The End of Faith, by Neil Shenvi"

  • "Is John Piper the Best Answer to Emergence and Postmodernism?"

  • "Captured"

  • "The Storm is Over"

  • "If Golfing Were the Pursuit of Moral Perfection"

  • 3.17.2007

    Ligonier Conference: Entry #11

    March 17, Saturday
    8:30 a.m.

    Al Mohler addresses "The Holy Spirit and Apogetics"

    Where else would you want to be on bright Saturday morning?

    Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13:1-17

    Why are those who believe and those who do not? A constant question.

    Introductory Comments:

    1. The world thinks we're nuts for being here this morning. They have no understanding for thousands to meet together on a day like this.

    2. The church has always had a problem with the "crowd." There are many Christian crowds who think they are Christian churches. We have problems distinguishing between the crowd and the church.

    3. The disciples had a problem with the question of why others don't believe. And they asked, "Why do you preach in parables?" But it really isn't a question. The disciples are confused about what Jesus is doing with parables.

    Here is one of the largest crowds gathered together, and Jesus uses parables to speak to them! The disciples are ready to launch the crusade! This is amazing! And then, when they think that Jesus is about to announce the inauguration of the kingdom, He stands up and tells a story: hard ground, stony ground, shallow ground, and good ground. He who has ears to hear, let him hear. "You can go home now."

    This perplexes the disciples! Why (in the world!) did you speak in parables?

    Jesus says that it is not granted to them to understand. "You know the Bible. You should see in this the fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy in chapter 6. We love the part where we see the holy God, the conversion of Isaiah, and the calling. But we struggle with the truth that Israel will keep hearing and perceiving, but they will not understand or see. They will not turn to be healed!

    Why are there some who respond to the gospel in faith and are transformed, while others hear the very same words (with the same intellectual capacities) but do not hear or understand.

    But if we understand what it takes for people to come to Christ in faith, we will not be surprised.

    This is not a new problem. It is as old as the Christian church. Augustine addressed the issue: Why is it that two people hear: one despises and the other rises up. Only God knows. It is not to the credit of the one who believes, but it is to the judgment of the one who disbelieves.

    It deals with the noetic effects of the Fall--the effects on the mind.

    The Effects of the Fall are Many:
    1. Death
    2. Groaning of the Cosmos
    3. Our inability to know the things of God. This is a deeply spiritual epistemological process.

    Why do so many refuse to put the spiritual spectacles on? Why do they prefer the scattered bits of knowledge and idols? Because our crisis is deeper than we knew. We are entirely dependent upon the Holy Spirit.

    See John 14:26ff.
    We should expect this reliance upon the Holy Spirit. He will teach and bring to remembrance all of what Christ said. The Holy Spirit will teach us all things!

    "Word" and "Spirit" are always conjoined. THe problem is not with the revealed Word. The problem is with the heart of man.

    In this promise in John 14, we anticipate the writing of the Holy Scriptures.

    John 16:5-15 The Holy Spirit is noted by the important title "Helper." He will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgment. How else will the convicting take place? It is clear that this passage addresses the life of the church. In verse 13, the Spirit is known as the spirit of truth! He will no speak of his own initiative. We cannot sever the Holy Spirit from Scripture!

    It is interesting how little material concerning the Holy Spirit is in the New Testament, but when we see that He comes to glorify Christ, we can understand this.

    For the human life to be transformed, the Holy Spirit must do His work.

    Trinitarianism is essential to Christianity. All the historic branches of Chrsitianity understand this, but so many evangelicals today do not.

    1 Corinthians 2:1ff: Paul did not use rhetoric to preach the gospel. He came in weakness and in fear and trembling! He did not use persuasive words of men. He came to preach with a demonstration of the Spirit and power.

    The Spirit came so we might know the things given to us by God, but the natural man does not receive these things. This is a humbling teaching of the New Testament. The only reason we see and hear what others do not is the sovereign grace of God. This grace was expressed in the work of the Holy Spirit: the internal testimony of the Holy Spriit.

    This is not a form of enthusiasm where the Spriit comes to speak apart from Scripture, but to point our minds to the Scripture.

    Saving faith (fiducia) comes from the Spirit. As lost men, we can know a great deal! We can make, organize, perceive, and observe many things! The unregenerate can grasp truths in Scripture and understand the facts of the gospel. But this is not fiducia.

    The Holy Spirit does not open our hearts and eyes so we can embrace the irrational. No, he works so we can embrace what is plainly there! This is an important point. The spirit does not move us to believe against the evidence but to surrender to the evidence that is there.

    We are not here because we escaped the effects of the Fall on our own! No, we see because the Holy Spirit caused us to see.

    Why Are There People Who Know So Much Yet Know So Little!!!! Many believe in a creator! For example, the Intelligent Design movement. People can see that there is a creation, but this is not enough. Only the Spirit can show us God in Christ, God's church, and the Gospel itself.

    Our reliance upon the Holy Spirit in life and apologetics is absolute.

    It is by grace that we believe. It is an insult to grace to believe that people could come to Christ apart from the Spirit. His work is more comprehensive than we will ever understand.

    In all His work, He points to Christ.

    Think Particularly on the Union Between the Word and the Spirit. (Calvin)

    We must read and hearken to Scripture to receive anything from the Spirit. - Calvin.
    You want to be rescued from the chaos in contemporary evangelicalism? Understand that the Spirit and the Word are in union! The Word is the instrument that the Spirit is dispensed to believers.

    The word becomes efficacious for our faith through the Holy Spirit. The mind is dull. WIthout the illumination of the Spirit, the Word can do nothing.

    Implications of the Holy Spirit Work:

    1. The Reality of the Outward and the INward Calling. The outward, public declaration of the gospel. When we converse with the lost, we are giving the outward call. Martin Luther (a seminary "president'). Many of Luther's students were enthusiastic and tearing out private mass alters from homes. Luther told them, you can tear down all the alters you want, but people will fall back and build them back. You must simply preach the word! Don't waste time tearing down alters! We have to let the Word do this thing! It is the only thing that can effect change.

    Our job is to get the word from our mouth to people's ears. But only the Spirit can take the Word from their ears to their hearts!

    Today, we have no clear outward call to the gospel. This is absolutely required, but it is not enough. Only the Spirit can reach where we cannot reach.

    2. Our Absolute Dependence on the Spirit for Evangelism and Apologetics. We are not left without the Helper! Jesus said it was better for Him to go so the Spirit can come! Only He can break through the noetic effects of the Fall.

    3. We must be clear about the nature of faith that saves. It includes a framework of true propositions. We must have more than assent. We must have faith (fiducia). It is a firm and certain knowledge that God has been good toward us in the freely given Christ, revealed to our minds and sealed to our hearts where these truths are confirmed within us through the Holy Spirit (Calvin).

    4. Our knowledge of God's absolute sovereignty in the salvation of sinners. How do we explain why some believe and others do not? Why don't we understand that this is not merely a matter of the human will? Because it is all of grace. In John 6, people left Christ because they could not handle this truth. This (John 6) ought to the most humbling text to us. Without God's grace, we would

    5. The Necessity and Utility of Expository Preaching. The Bible says, "Preach the Word!" The Holy Spirit uses this preaching to convict sinners and call them to Christ. Our job is to get God's word from our mouth to their ears. Only God can get the Word from their ears to their hearts. The disciples assumed that the Matthew 13 crowd assembled because they wanted Christ. But there were a variety of motives for their coming--only some wanted to know Christ.

    6. The Law of the Ear: Those who hear get more. Those who do not hear lose what they have. The one who rejects the word ends up with nothing! This is why Christ spoke in parables. Those who hear to not perceive. The disciples did not believe because they were smarter than the rest! They were not "so spiritually sensitive." No the disciples of Jesus were not smarter or more sensitive. They were not the seekers. They were the sought.

    We know so much more about the physiology of hearing (Mohler impressively and quickly describes the physical process of hearing---audience claps. "And I have no idea what I've just said!). We can know the auditory process and know nothing about the Gospel. There are those who have never heard (the deaf), but they hear the gospel clearly. There are those born blind but can see Christ.

    Blessed are your eyes that see and your ears that hear!

    Praise be to God.


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