“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2, ESV).
Just recently, I listened to Jordan Peterson’s “Message to the Churches.” Before I listened to this, I knew very little about the man. I was not sure what the man did other than he was just added to the Daily Wire for being canceled on twitter for calling Ellen Page a girl who chopped her breasts off. When I did further research on the man, I found out he was a former atheist who likes the Bible as literature, but does not actually believe Jesus literally raised from the dead. That was a big red flag there. Yet, I listened to him to see why an unbeliever feels he needs to address the Christian churches.
The first part of his message addressed the problem of the Leftist world attacking traits in young men. He also says it is presumptuous for him to address Christian churches and establishes his credibility by saying he did a commentary in a theater on Genesis with great results. His solution to this is the church needs to build up young men to do manly, aggressive things. In return, he believes the young men can fix the old, dead, wise ways. His primary solution is to demand much of young men, put up billboards, and hand out pamphlets demanding young men come to be made whole and have them fix the corruption in the church along with its dead old ways. He says the primary responsibility of the church is to tell young men “,they have a woman to find, a garden to walk in, a family to nurture, an ark to build, a land to conquer, a latter in heaven to build,” etc.
It is rather obvious that Dr. Peterson misses the point about the primary responsibility of the church according to the Bible. Yet, this brings up the point of what is the primary responsibility of the church according to the Bible? Is it to raise up young men to be all they can be? I gave away the answer at the beginning of the article. It is to preach the gospel of Christ, make disciples for Christ, and live according to the Word of God.
Preach the Gospel of Christ
As mentioned above, Paul did not try to win over the Corinthians with great oratory skills, waxed speech, or compelling arguments (1 Corinthians 2:1). He simply preached the gospel of Jesus Christ (1:17, 2:2). The primary focus of the gospel is the death of Jesus Christ to pay the penalty for sin and the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The immediate context shows it is no use to try to speak eloquently because the crux of the gospel, the cross of Christ, is foolishness to the world of Gentiles and Jews (1:18). The gospel is powerful to save those who believe, and the wisdom of God used to confound the wise (1:18b-21). This is seen in the Jews demanding miracles and Greeks seeking wisdom (v. 22). The Greeks probably sought something to make sense with their philosophy. Yet, the centrality of the gospel, a crucified savior, is a stumbling block keeping both Jews and Greeks from accepting the gospel (v. 23). In fact, it is worse than that. They cannot come to faith unless they are called to salvation (v. 24). God does not choose the noble or the strong, but the foolish, weak, dregs, God chooses to show his wisdom (vv. 25-26).
This is not the only place Paul emphasizes preaching the gospel as the primary importance of the preacher or the church (Romans 1:1-7, 16-17, Galatians 1:6-12, 2 Timothy 3:16-4:8). Jesus also emphasizes the importance of making disciples several times (Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:47-49; Acts 1:8). The other apostles also emphasize the preaching of the gospel message (1 Peter 3:15, 1 John 1:1-10, Jude 23).
This shows one cannot win young men just by inviting them to church and promising abundant lives. One has to preach the central message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then God has to regenerate the heart of the person and call them to salvation.
Many of the passages above also have to do with making disciples; however, it is more involved than preaching the gospel and witnessing. One of Jesus’ explicit qualifiers of making disciples is teaching everything he commanded the disciples to do (Matthew 28:20). Paul demonstrates this through this letters. For example, in the book of Romans, Paul presents eleven chapters of the theology of salvation by faith before he starts giving practical application to renew one’s mind, love one another, pay taxes, submit to government, and not cause one another to stumble by what one eats (Romans 12-14). Ephesians does the same thing. Paul teaches predestination, total depravity, salvation by grace through faith, and the unity of Gentiles and Jews in the body of Christ (Ephesians 1:1-3:21). Then he tells believers to live in unity, holy lives, submission to one another, gospel live in the home, and how to combat spiritual warfare (4:1-6:24).
Discipleship starts with teaching the truths of the Word of God. It teaches doctrine, theology, and the life of Christ before living it out practically. Then it teaches how to live in the light of the gospel. Only after a young man is converted can one train him on how to live the abundant life in Jesus Christ.
Live According to the Word of God
The largest evidence one actually believes the Word of God is by doing what it says. 1 John 1:6 says, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth” (ESV). He also says if believers practice the truth, believe in the right Jesus, and love one’s brother in Christ, then one can be sure he or she is a Christian (1:7, 2:9, 22, 3:15, 4:2). One who lives according to the Word of God will try to have a godly marriage, work a job, live a quiet life, and battle Satan by witnessing to others (Ephesians 5: 22 – 6:24, Matthew 28:18-20, 1 Timothy 2:2, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-15).
Dr. Peterson is dead wrong on how to strengthen the church and young men. He needs to repent and believe the gospel. The biblical message God has for his people is to preach the gospel, make disciples, and live according to the Word of God. An unbeliever like Jordan Peterson was too presumptuous to speak to the church because he does not understand the message of the gospel. The only way to strengthen the church is to repent of the sin of laziness by knowing and proclaiming the gospel. Then the church needs to train men up in the doctrine of the Scriptures. Only then can one live a life according to the Word of God and lead a pleasing life to the Lord.
If you want more biblical resources on how to study the Scriptures, then check out the store at strivingforeternity.org/store. There are also a lot of other articles on the website to encourage you to dive deeper into God’s Word. Please also check out Apologetics Live at strivingforeternity.org/apologeticslive where Andrew Rappaport, Anthony Silvestro, and Justin Pierce answer your questions and teach you how to defend the faith. It is on from 8pm – 10pm EST. Also do not forget to check out the Rap Report where you can hear the teaching of Andrew Rappaport and the Christian Podcast community. Lord bless you.