Updated: May 11
I have been wanting to comment for several months on these 2 messages at the G3 Conference in January this year. (January 16-19, 2019)
These 2 messages were especially excellent and really went well together.
Phil Johnson walked through the text of Jonah chapter 4 and did an excellent job of the historical background of the book, and showing the problems with Jonah’s anger, self-pity, fear, and hatred against the Ninevites /Assyrians (racial hatred) and his overall really bad attitude. Originally, his title was “The Danger of Contextualization”. I don’t know why they don’t change the title of the video!!
Phil Johnson preached about God’s rebuke of Jonah’s self-pity and anger; when God poured out His grace on the Assyrian people in Nineveh and they repented and converted to the true God (Jonah chapter 3), Jonah got upset because he wanted God to wipe them out. Sounds like what a lot of American Christians have said to me over the years about Muslims. It was a great message and went very well with Dr. James White’s message. Thank you Phil for a great message. Contextualization CAN be dangerous, but it does not have to be. There is a legitimate and Biblical level of proper Contextualization. See my article on “The Contextualization Controversy”.
I praise God for all the messages and the work that Pastor Josh Buice and his team from “Pray’s Mill Baptist Church” in Douglasville, Ga. do in hosting these G3 conferences.
This sermon really went well with Dr. White’s message after Phil’s, because Dr. White walked through a large portion of John chapter 8 and then challenged us all to love Muslims as the heart motivation of evangelism and apologetics to Muslims.
Too many American Christians have bad attitudes towards Muslims and too much fear to reach out to Muslims. Humanly speaking, because of all the Islamic terrorism that SOME Muslims have done; and has taken place all over the world over the last 20+ years, especially since 9-11-2001 – that is understandable. ( I remember the hijackings in Lebanon when I started reaching out to Muslims in 1983, reaching out in several large cities in the USA. Most Muslims are not terrorists and most Muslims are very hospitable people !!! We would go to their homes and knock on their doors in New York City and Dearborn Michigan, and other major cities in the south, and they would open the door and were shocked to find us wishing them peace and smiling; and 90 % of the time they would invite us inside, open up and talk to us for 2 + hours and serve coffee, tea, pistachios, roasted pumpkin seeds and fruit. Then about 50 % of those meetings turned into deeper discussions and the Muslims would invite us to stay and eat a whole meal of shish kebab, rice, pita bread, grilled vegetables, and all sorts of great Middle Eastern cuisine!! Muslims are fun to talk to and visit with – they are not afraid to talk about God, heaven and hell, morality, sin, and judgment day, etc. And also, they are not afraid to talk about politics either! Many Muslims said to us, “We have lived in your country for 10 or 15 years and no one has ever come to our door to wish us peace!” You are the first American who has ever come to our door and wished us peace; Thank you!” (we started by saying “Salaam O Alaykum” = “peace be unto you”) Visiting & hospitality, is their culture!!
But God has said to us as believers in Christ, just as He did to Joshua – “Do not fear; I am with you!” (Joshua 1:5-9; Matthew 28:18-20; Matthew 1:23) Dr. White challenges us to repent of that fearful and bad attitude toward Muslims. We who believe the Scriptures should be doctrinally sound, AND have a loving attitude and passion for outreach, with a passion in prayer for Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, other religions and cultists, nominal church people, Tribal peoples, Secular – Atheistic people, western pagan secular folks, leftist Marxists, etc.
Here is an excerpt from my earlier article on Contextualization: “Introduction to the Contextualization Controversy”
What is contextualization?
“Contextualization” is basically an application of 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (“to the Jew I have become like the Jew, in order to win Jews”; “to those without the law, I have become like those without the law”, etc. ). That is, as much as possible, we seek to get rid of, or minimize, social, cultural, external, and political stumbling blocks and mis-understandings, but not compromising on the truth of Scripture. We are to preach and explain the incarnation and the cross, and issues of God’s holiness and sin, which are stumbling blocks to unregenerate man, and be willing to explain those theological stumbling blocks. Another passage related to contextualization is Acts 17, where Paul uses the idea of “the altar to the Unknown god” and quotes from the Greeks poets/prophets as a springboard to talk about the true God. Good contextualization involves more of changing ourself (putting aside our own freedom and culture and biases) and, it means not being rude; but it does not mean changing the message. Although many Evangelicals have today drifted into un-Biblical forms of contextualization and compromise with the message, I believe there is a valid and Biblical and right kind of contextualization.
Communication of the Gospel into another context
“Contextualization” originally was meant to put the truth of the gospel and God’s word into the context and language of a person from a different culture and language and religion. It involves understanding the other person’s worldview and culture; if you will, “where they are coming from”. It also involves clear communication of the gospel, (translation of the message into their language, and/or speaking their language) and illustration of the message. It should never have meant to mean “changing the message so it is more palatable” or “agreeable”. Neither is it meant to mean the removal of all stumbling blocks or offenses. If you truly preach the gospel, even with love and understanding and patience and knowing the other person’s language, some people will still not receive it. Some are going to be offended no matter how much language learning and good contextualization we do. We must trust God to open hearts (Acts 16:14; John 6:44); but also have to work hard at communication and clarity.
Local Church Missions
The local, Biblical church is the primary sending body for missions. It is good to partner with a good mission agency, but the primary base of sending out missionaries is the local church.
See Acts 13:1-4, Ephesians 3:6-10, 20-21
If you or your church leaders / elders / pastors want to learn how to brainstorm on raising up your own missionaries and sending them from your local church, check out Propempo here. (explore our web-site; see the contact page) We can come and provide vision and counsel and training for you to think, pray, and strategize for local church missions. What if a young person in your church senses a calling to missions and they come to you for counsel and prayer? What do you do? How do you counsel them? Check out David Meade’s book, “From Here to There”. Do you support missionaries? how many of them were raised up in discipleship in your own church and trained and sent out from your church, as in what took place in Acts 13:1-4 ? How many of you who are church leaders are willing to pray and fast and send out some of your own elder/leaders to the mission field? (notice the local church at Antioch sent 2 of their leaders out; 2 out of 5 leaders!)