We are excited to start a new series here at Manual called, “Manhood 101.” Over the month of September, we will look at some foundations for manhood according to the Bible. Here is part one.
Here’s the deal: Many men in the church cannot retain and restate the gospel. It’s a discipleship tragedy. Men in our churches believe that Jesus is Lord, but they can’t explain why. They go to church, but they can’t tell you why! On Sundays, many men go to church and participate in worship but on every other day of the week fail to demonstrate by their actions or speech that they are in fact followers of Jesus Christ.
Is this true about us? Is this true about you? Do you love the gospel? Does your faith lack depth?
The foundation of manhood is the gospel. This is the first place we must start when talking about what a biblical man is to be. And if we fall short of believing the gospel, then we fall short of everything else, too. Here are a few things that we as biblical men must become as we stand on the truth of the gospel.
1. We must be men who LOVE the gospel.
Above everything else, we must possess and hold tightly a dying love for the gospel of King Jesus! Men, it is not enough for us to be simply complacent in our churches and in our world today. The gospel is being attacked all over the place. Think about it this way: our young people are leaving our student ministries and churches without a firm understanding of Scripture. They can’t defend why they believe what they believe, and in all honesty, it is still their parent’s faith. When they go to college they are confronted with contrary beliefs and worldviews by professors who preach that truth is relative and there is no such thing as “one way” to God. Without a firm foundation and the ability to defend and understand what they believe, our young people begin to be swayed by the cultural, academic, and post-modern impetuses of our day.
A courageous approach to biblical manhood calls men to love the gospel with an uncanny passion. We must dive into God’s Word daily, and we must always remind ourselves of God’s grace in our lives. It is only through the gospel that we find a relationship with God, and it is only through a love for the gospel that we become men who begin to change the world and the status quos of our day!
2. We must be men who UNDERSTAND the gospel.
Don’t get me wrong; understanding the gospel and all of its implications is very hard work. Scripture is in fact an extremely hard book to fully comprehend. It’s been 2,000 years and we are still trying to understand many theological issues in Scripture. It is no cakewalk, but it is not a daunting task either.
There is a common characteristic amongst men in our culture today that we hate to read. Maybe we do, but that is no excuse for not being able to understand the Bible. You don’t need a seminary education to understand and apply Scripture to your life. Being a man who loves God’s Word is really the only prerequisite to being a man who begins to reform manhood in his life and in the lives of others. The rest of these qualities and skills can be learned, but loving Scripture is something that you must come to possess.
We come to possess this quality by God’s grace, yes, but also by having daily times in God’s Word. When we are in Scripture more, we begin to desire more of it. Understanding Scripture, on the oth- er hand, is learned. It comes one day at a time. The great thing about diving into Scripture daily is the delight of being able to understand God more and how he has revealed himself to us in Scripture. What an amazing truth that is.
The task of understanding the gospel is also the task of becoming a theologian. When we begin to understand God more through his Word we then begin to understand the task of progressive sanctification in our lives. We might not ever become theologians like John Piper, Al Mohler, or Wayne Grudem, but when we pursue the task of knowing God more through his revealed Word then we become theologians in our own right and at our own pace. I promise you, in today’s culture you will be asked often about the reliability and historicity of the Bible. You will be asked multiple and endless apologetics questions concerning your faith. Will you be able to hold your own? Will you be able to answer them? Do you even know what apologetics means? Maybe you should start there.
3. We must be men who can TEACH the gospel to others.
The Apostle Paul says this in Titus 2:1-9, “But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Old- er men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self- controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness… Likewise, urge the younger men to be self- controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (emphasis added).
Men must teach younger men the ways of the faith. I cannot urge this enough. Young men must learn to walk in integrity, dignity, and have sound speech from older men. We learn manhood and truth from those who teach it to us. Older men must model this in their lifestyle and in their teaching.
What do we teach? It is simple—we teach the gospel! We must teach the gospel when we drive down the road, when we sit with our families at the dinner table, when we are spending time with our children, and ob- viously, when we teach and preach. I know that most men will never stand up in front of crowds to preach the gospel, but we must be ready if the moment ever arises. The gospel is the central message in all of our teaching; it is the lens through which we view the rest of Scripture and the rest of the world.
4. We must be men who can DEFEND the gospel.
Another way for men to possess courage is to stand up for that in which they believe. We are at a crucial time in the history of America, as this once Christian land becomes a mission field again. Today, there has been a comprehensive corrosion of truth, and the reliability and authority of Scripture is no longer prominent.
Things are different now.
Tim Keller, in his contribution to The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World, says that this post-Christian society has developed ‘antibodies’ against full-blown Christianity (104). It seems that truth is being attacked on every street corner, and often times it is through the subliminal messages that our media (TV, movies, radio, etc.) presents.
Vodie Bauchum, in his book The Ever-Loving Truth, rightly states, “Truth is under attack in modern American culture. Rare is the person who believes that there are facts that correspond with reality (truths) and that those facts are true for all people in all places and at all times.”
TO SUM IT ALL UP…
In sum all of this up: In order to defend Truth, we must first know Truth. In order to develop a passion to know it and understand it, we must first learn to love it. This is what the Truth of the gospel does to us as men. We come to understand that the gospel is not just a one time fix all or something that we check off the list. Yes, we must learn to rest in the Truth of our salvation, but we also must learn to love, understand, teach, and defend it.
This is the foundation of manhood. This is where we must begin.
And, in reality, it’s also where we end one day, too.
**NOTE: This post has been revised from Greg’s book, Reformational Manhood: Creating a Culture of Gospel-Centered Warriors.
ABOUT GREG: Greg serves as an elder and family ministries pastor at Foothills Church and as the lead editor of Manual for CBMW. He and his lovely wife, Grace, live in Knoxville, TN with their 2 children–Cora and Iver. He is also the author of Reformational Manhood.
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