Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Methods Do Matter!

Since the primary goal of missions is the glory of God, missions have to be done according to God’s ways (methods) and God’s will (motives). Missions have to be from Him and through Him so that the glory goes to Him.

We are being told today that methods don’t matter as long as they produce results. Many are buying into and being taken captive by this philosophy. “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ” (Colossians 2:8).

If methods don’t matter then there would have been nothing wrong with Jesus yielding to the temptations of the devil to turn stones into bread, to jump from the pinnacle of the temple, or to bow down to Satan in order to receive the kingdoms of the world. Temptations are nothing short of the devil’s methods for accomplishing the will of God. A temptation is the offer of a method to arrive at God’s will your own way rather than God’s way – it is the method of leaning on your own understanding rather than trusting the Lord with all your heart; it is the method of quick results (shortcuts) and are unlawful. That is why Jesus is going to say to many who think they are saved and are not, “Depart from Me you workers of lawlessness/iniquity.”

We are told in 1 Corinthians 3:10 that each man must be careful how he builds. "How" would definitely be methodology. The Bible tells us that there are no shortcuts to doing the will of God. Anyone who takes a shortcut to doing God's will has succumbed to the temptations of the devil and sinned against God. Believing that methods don't matter as long as they are working is a deadly and deluding practice of judging by appearance and is nothing short of philosophical pragmatism.

Theology determines methodology. You’ll hear people who are held captive by philosophy and who differ in methodology from those who are captive by Christ and His glory say, “Our theology is the same but our methodology differs.” That is not true! The man who has a theology of missions knows that the primary goal of missions is the glory of God and he will not use unauthorized and unworthy methods (shortcuts) that rob God of His glory. On the other hand the man who has a philosophy of missions will use unauthorized and unworthy methods (shortcuts) in order to get “quick results” and thereby rob God of His glory.

This principle is clearly demonstrated in Acts 16:16-18. Paul and his companions were confronted with the temptation to allow a slave-girl with a spirit of divination help them get quick results. Allowing this popular slave-girl on the missionary team would have increased Paul's popularity, influence, and ability to get decisions. Paul wouldn't have to have such a hard ministry from now on - he could just become all things to all men the devil's way! But immediately there would have been no power because there would have been declaration with no illumination; there would have been head knowledge without heart knowledge; and there would have been professions of faith without possession of faith.

If methods don't matter then Paul could have used this girl that was energized by the devil! But he didn't because methods do matter!

Vance Havner once said, "They tell us now even in some evangelical circles that we ought to hobnob with Sodom and get chummy with Gomorrah in order to convert them. And the argument is not older than that the end justifies the means forgetting that the means determines the end. A few years of unworthy means and you've already spoiled the objective before you get to it. And these dear people are not turning the light on in Sodom, they're just getting used to the dark."

Listen to him say it here

Methods Do Matter: Audio

1 comment:

Bryan Riley said...

I agree completely. We aren't "doing missions" unless we are joining with God on His mission. We are following the Great "Co-Mission" - that is, joining with God on what He already is doing. We absolutely must do it as He directs (His method) or else it is meaningless. A great biblical picture of this is the difference between King Saul and King David.