If we wish to be skillful and faithful evangelists to “our time,” then there’s something we must be fully aware of. In our time we are not simply declaring the truth about God to a world that does not know Him. We are attempting to declare the truth about God to a world that thinks it already knows about Him.
That is, we are not just engaging in an information campaign as we seek to declare biblical truth; we are fighting against a satanically inspired misinformation campaign.
When Paul stood in the Areopagus and declared the “unknown God” to the Athenians, those people acknowledged that Paul’s God was unknown to them. They acknowledged their ignorance of what Paul was preaching.
And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you” (Acts 17:19-23).
We, on the other hand, declare the God of the Bible, in the United States, to a culture that thinks it understands Christianity. In truth, it doesn’t. Ours is a very syncretistic culture. The God of Christianity, assumed in the current cultural milieu, is a mixture of what the Bible says, and what the current moral condition wants to make Him.
In a permissive, relativistic culture, the God of Christianity is often portrayed as a permissive God who affirms each individual’s moral judgments. Or, in the case of those who are hateful toward any thought of God, He is slandered in ways that reveal a great ignorance of the Scriptures. What ties both groups together is that they are people who think they know something about the Christian God.
What this means is that we cannot declare the Gospel without a clear declaration of the true God. We must introduce people to the true God. Our starting place with sinners must not assume that because we might use the same vocabulary, we are operating with the same dictionary.
To take it a step further, the frightening reality is that this misinformation campaign has not just had an impact outside the professing church. In fact, wrong ideas about God are seated in our pews every Sunday morning. It is not just the world outside the church that needs to be introduced to the true God. It is to the professing church that we need to say, “here is your God—know Him!”
In the book of Nahum we come face to face with what I’m afraid is a strange God to many professing Christians. The God of Nahum is the God of the Bible, but is the God of Nahum your God? The God of Nahum is not just a God of love; He is a God of wrath. He is a jealous God, an avenging God, a thoroughly just God, and a God who never forgets when it comes to the matter of justice. He is a God who judges and disciplines His people by their enemies, and then judges their enemies in due time.
This article was excerpted with permission from Richard Caldwell’s new book, Nahum: Meet the True God (Kress Christian Publications, 2018). Richard is one of our ten TES campus pastors, having served as the senior pastor of Founders Baptist Church in Spring, TX since 1998.