Isaiah 1:18, Romans 1:18-20, 1 Peter 3:15, Acts 1:8-11, Proverbs 3:5, Acts 17:11
Summary: The Lord Jesus told His followers to go out and preach the Gospel to every living creature (Mark 16:15). That means using Scripture, thought, reason, and logic under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to show people the need to turn to Christ for salvation.
In today’s butchery of the English language, where emojis are used more than words to share information and ideas, I think that it is time for all of us to get off the machines for a few moments and learn something from the great men of God whose counsel and wisdom have been forgotten. We have allowed the “old paths” (Jeremiah 6:16) of trusted teachings on the deep things of God to be neglected in favor of nonsense that fills most pulpits today and starves the people of the meat of the Word.
One of the signs on the old path that directs us, if we are willing to go down that route, is toward the seriousness of eternity and the destiny of those who are lost in sin, walking around in the dark when it comes to peace with God and the assurance of salvation. Those “old paths” include learning about how the Sovereign LORD expects us to use the gifts and talents He gave us to warn people about the state of their eternal souls. One of the tools which He has given us is the use of reasoning to direct the lost away from the cliff leading to death and instead toward the Savior who offers true rest and peace (Isaiah 1:18; Matthew 11:28-30; John 10:28-30).
I want to use a forgotten word that describes the use of reason as a method of winning souls for the glory of God. The word is “expostulation,” and even I had to consult an online dictionary to see what it meant. This word was used for the title of a collection of evangelistic sermon outlines from days past when the church was actually serious about the Great Commission.
Expostulation is defined as “reasoning with someone in opposition to their conduct. It is pressing upon a person the reason or arguments against the impropriety of their conduct, calling for, in some cases, information that will bring about a change in conduct” (Webster’s 1828 Online Dictionary).
Take a good look at this definition. It flies in the face of modern society’s attitude of “true for you but not for me,” or “Don’t judge,” or to “not have your religion shoved down our throats,” desiring instead to be left alone and contented with their idea of how the world works.
We are not to be intimidated by people and their objections when we try to present the Gospel. We are not fighting them but the powers of spiritual darkness that cover them (Ephesians 6:12). Expostulation starts with fervent prayer that the Spirit of God will rebuke and cast away all wicked spiritual blocks before we reason with people about the condition of their souls. This fancy term is not the exclusive property of pastors, scholars, or anyone with a list of degrees behind their name. We all have the ability to reason with someone. We just need to get out of our respective comfort zones or away from any feelings of inadequacy and stop allowing our fears to be our counselors.
What I want to do is to show you how to use biblically based reasoning and the development of our minds (Romans 12:1-2) for the kingdom of heaven.
The Old Testament prophet Isaiah used “expostulation” (750 B.C) when he warned the nation of Israel that their “worship” of the LORD had become fraudulent, empty, ritualistic, and spiritually dead, going through the motions, and God was sick of it (Isaiah 1:11-15). Isaiah referred to Israel’s attitude towards God as being no better than the perversions of Sodom (Genesis 19:24-25). His preaching hit them hard, with the goal of drawing them back to the gracious mercy of God. Isaiah’s preaching, like all true biblical preaching, dealt with the condition of the people’s sins and the need to repent before the LORD. He called on Israel to talk with the LORD in a rational manner about where they stood with Him:
“Come, and let us reason together,” says the LORD. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool” (1:18).
Scripture tells us to exercise our minds, develop logical and rational thinking, and discipline ourselves to learn the word of God and have the mind of Christ (Romans 8:5; 1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5; 1 Peter 4:1), which means that we develop an attitude of compassion towards the state of the lost as He did (Matthew 9:35-36) and that you trust in God to see that compassion turned into action. That also means you surrender to His Sovereign will. You cannot and should not do anything for the LORD without being willing to crucify your flesh and leave your ego out of the picture (Romans 6:6).
Authentic reasoning goes hand in hand with faith in God (Proverbs 3:5; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). We trust God in spite of the circumstances and difficulties that face us, whatever the situation. This is not what skeptics call “blind faith,” which the Bible never condones or approves. The Bible says that faith is “the substance of things hoped for; the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is believing in something unseen for which we have good reason.
When Paul explained the Gospel to the Bereans, they afterward searched the Scriptures to see if what he was teaching lined up with what had been written, using the power of reason and thought along with their faith in the LORD and His word to be further enriched and educated in the things of God and in the Lord Jesus’ work of salvation.
The fact that He has risen has renewed my mind and empowered my faith. His promises of redemption for my soul, body, and mind were made real through His death, burial, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-19). The mind of God conceived the plan of salvation before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). The heart of God brought forth the Person who would carry out that plan. His Divine and only Begotten Son gave His life to save our wicked, foolish souls (John 3:16). Such a plan goes against the sinful and worldly reasoning of the world (1 Corinthians 1:18-25), but it is the only plan God has chosen and implemented, and He has not changed His mind to suit our fickle and finite opinions.
The cross of Christ is God’s weapon that destroys worldly thought and shows the way to the promise of salvation and the joy of eternity with Him.