“You Must Not Fear Them”

June 7, 2006

I taught three sessions at the GPA today. In the first hour, we covered the importance of the Apostles’ Creed and the fact that Christianity is a doctrinal faith. G. A. Studdert Kennedy put the matter in perspective:

All men act upon their real creed. It may not be the creed that they profess, because they may be liars or hypocrites–most men are both more or less–it may not be the creed that they profess, but it must inevitably be the creed that they believe, from which men’s normal actions spring. When you stop talking and start thinking, you are bound to come to it.

Everyone has a creed, and we all act upon the creed we hold in our heart. A “creedless” faith is a contradiction in terms because we all believe something. In the second hour we had a lively discussion about the first sentence of the Creed: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.” We started with A. W. Tozer’s famous comment, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” The pastor from Syria wanted to know what that meant. That led to a fast-paced discussion by pastors from Poland, India, Lebanon, Peru, and a few other countries. That’s one of the unique factors about the GPA. Each of the 24 attendees comes from a different country so you instantly get a wide diversity of viewpoints on almost every issue. This year’s class seemed much more ready to discuss and even debate theological issues. In the third hour we managed to finish the rest of the Creed even though we had to summarize parts of it. We had a good discussion on “He descended into hell” and the meaning of the “holy catholic church.” Crossway Books donated copies of Credo for every man in the class. I invited them to visit the Keep Believing website and use the sermons posted here in their own ministries.
A few other highlights … I ran into Bill Bryan, Chaplain of Dallas Seminary. Later I chatted with Jeff Bingham. Jeff and Bill and I were together at the Dallas Seminary week at Mt. Hermon several years ago … We attended a chapel session in the Walvoord Center lounge and heard a message on Ephesians 2:10 by Dr. Harold Hoehner… . After chapel I talked with Mark Bailey, president of DTS… . Tonight I had supper with John and Karen Grassmick. John serves as the Academic Dean, Karen is Mark Bailey’s secretary, and it happens that I took my first Greek course from John during my first semester at Dallas in 1974. When I became the pastor of Northeast Bible Church in Garland in 1983, John and Karen were part of the core group. Later John became an elder of the church… . Ramesh Richard told me that the GPA delegate from Ethiopia oversees 1700 churches. That’s amazing when you consider that the whole purpose of the GPA is to train leaders who are not yet 35 years old… . All of the delegates are up-and-coming leaders in their own countries. The delegate from Lebanon told me that he has been called in by the secret police many times. “You must not fear them. If you fear them, the Lord will not be with you so I am never afraid” … I met a young man who pastors a vibrant house church in China. When I showed him a copy of the Chinese version of An Anchor for the Soul, he told me he already had a copy, which surprised me since the book has only available since March. So I gave him a copy of The ABCs of Wisdom in Chinese instead… . A number of the men come from countries where they face opposition and persecution for preaching the gospel… . It is humbling and exhilarating to be around these servants of the Lord. I think that what I did today is one of the most important things I will do in 2006.

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