Many years ago, when I first started to seriously memorize the Bible, I decided to begin memorizing Proverbs. Spending that amount of time on anything is somewhat of a risk, and I felt vulnerable as I considered the task. Is it worth it? Will I really be changed by it? Are the proverbs entirely true and wise? Am I willing to submit to everything I find there, even when it conflicts with my personal ideas and habits? In order to move ahead, I had to make a conscious decision to put the full weight of my trust in God’s wisdom.
This morning, as I was reading Donald Whitney’s Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life and considering my need to increase my time in prayer, I found myself hesitating, asking myself the same questions of trust: Will God really hear me? Will my prayers make a difference? Am I willing to put the full weight of my trust in His words about prayer - enough to devote a significant amount of time to it?
Finding Out What We Really Believe
When our Christian ideas meet real life, and we’re faced with putting our money where our mouth is, that is where we find out what we really believe. The Christian life requires trust in God - that is, faith. In order to intentionally conform our minds to His through Bible reading, memorization, and meditation, we have to trust in the value of His Word. If we’re going to spend time, not acting, but asking through prayer for God to act, we have to trust that He is there and that He truly uses prayer as a means to act in our behalf. To submit to His commands, we have to stand on the fact that He is wise and loving and that His Word is true.
How do we gain this kind of trust - the kind of trust that can carry the weight of significant demands for our time and attention; the kind of trust that can rest in God’s promises, power, and actions; indeed, the kind of trust that enables the submission of our entire life to God? Quite simply, we have to be convinced that Christianity is true, and here is where apologetics can serve us.
Reminders of the Truth
This is not to say our conviction of the truth of Christianity comes entirely from apologetics. I don’t think that’s the case. The Holy Spirit removes the spiritual obstacles preventing us from seeing the truth of Christianity. We see the glory of God and His Gospel directly in His revelation and recognize its reality. God reveals Himself to be trustworthy over time as He works in our lives. But as long as we are living as fallen creatures, we will have to combat our tendency to wander with reminders of the truth.
We meditate on the ways God’s creation declares His glory (Ps. 19:1), giving evidence of His “eternal power and divine nature” (Rom. 1:20). We consider the objective moral law’s need for a Moral Law Giver. We learn how the Bible has been transmitted over time and how we deal with variant readings so we can trust we have access to His original words. We remind ourselves of the evidence of the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, knowing that if the resurrection did not happen, our trust is useless (1 Cor. 15:14). Through apologetics, we remind ourselves of the truth and remove the obstacles of doubts and questions so that all that remains is for us to fully place our trust in Him and step out in obedience.
If you’ve been neglecting the disciplines God provided for communing with Him and receiving His help, why not spend some time reviewing good evidence to believe this is all true as the first step in your plan to develop new spiritual habits?