The Fear Factor

2012 Ligonier Conference

In this 55 minute session from the 2012 Ligonier conference, Michael Horton, author, speaker and professor of apologetics and theology at Westminster Seminary California, explains why evangelicals are afraid and tells us why we shouldn't be. The things we fear are serious and legitimate threats to a Christian worldview, but Dr. Horton reminds us that God gives us cause to take courage. 

As you watch this session, take notes and write down thoughts about how this session can impact your role.

As evangelicals, we receive threats from many sources outside and within. Understandably, these things often scare us, but we have to remember that God has not given us a spirit of fear. This first set of questions will help you address these threats.

Dr. Horton reported that the majority of Christians in American churches functionally operate as moralistic therapeutic deists, in part because we have adopted the secularism of our culture. How have you seen evidence of this in your church? Do you ever operate on these principles? What should the church do about this issue?
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He also told us that many churches tend to segment themselves toward action, feeling, or thinking. Does your church tend to camp in one of these three? Do you personally? How can your congregation, and you, find an appropriate balance that acknowledges all three parts of the spiritual life?
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This is Our Father's World

Read 1 John 1:1–4. No matter what anyone claims or attempts to prove, we are living in God's world, and He has chosen to make Himself known to us. We do not need to fear any attacks on God's sovereignty.

How might you answer an empiricist who claims that everything we can believe must be proven in a laboratory?
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How might you answer the "Postmodern Tourist," who is "not going anywhere in particular, but everywhere in general, came from nowhere special, is going nowhere special, but along the way looking for a good time?"
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This is Our Father's Story

Read Romans 1:1–6. The God of the universe has made Himself knowable and He has rescued us from our sin. The story of Jesus and his gospel is incredible. We have no need to fear any other narrative.

Michael said, "we have taken the Lion of Judah and turned him into a pussycat." How have you seen the gospel treated as boring or irrelevant?
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What is the remedy for those specific issues you have seen? How should we change our language so that our gospel's focus is about Jesus and not about us?
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This is Our Father's Work 

Read Acts 17:22–31. The Father made a promise. Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise. The Spirit brings the effect of that promise. As Paul demonstrated at the Areopagus, the gospel is all about the work of God. We need not fear that our work is necessary or not good enough.

Dr. Horton referenced a hymn that applies a false apologetic. What are some people-centric versions of the gospel that you have heard? How would you correct these errors?
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"It doesn't matter what kind of God you want to worship. Your ideas for God are idols." What are some attributes of God that are hard for people to accept? Why are they actually glorious?
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This is Our Father's Kingdom 

Read Hebrews 12:28. We are not building a kingdom on this earth. We are the recipients of heavenly Kingdom that cannot be shaken. We do not need to fear kingdom conquerers. 

It is not our job to build God's Kingdom on this earth. What is our job? What does the work of the church have to do with God's eternal Kingdom?
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"God did not give us a spirit of fear but of power and love and self control." 
2 Timothy 2:7 (NET)

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