“Who are you and where are you going?”
Those are two questions many graduating students at Liberty University face as the end of the semester draws near, and questions Dr. Russell Moore posed and addressed in Monday morning’s Convocation message at the Vines Center.
Moore is president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral and public policy agency of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. He is one of the most commonly requested evangelical speakers to address controversial social, moral, and ethical issues in today’s culture.
He signed copies of his latest book, “Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ,” after the service.
Moore started his speech by reading from Romans 8:12-17, in which Paul speaks boldly of living according to the Spirit of God which leads to life, and not the flesh which leads to death. He says Christians are no longer under bondage to fear, but are now secure in the Body of Christ through adoption.
“God welcomes you into His family and He tells you in your new life in Christ who you are,” Moore said, answering the first question. “You are now children of God and you are now heirs with Christ.”
That is a distinction that the devil would like to make Christians doubt.
“Your identity is a matter of spiritual warfare,” Moore said. “The devil challenges your identity through deception. The devil says on the one hand, ‘You will not surely die. Follow in the way that seems right to you.’ But then the devil turns around and accuses you. He says, ‘I know who you are. I know what you’ve done, and you deserve nothing but condemnation.’”
He illustrated this adversarial role the devil plays through the torment of a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.
“No one is more pro-choice than the devil on the way into the abortion clinic and no one is more pro-life than the devil on the way out of the abortion clinic,” Moore said. “He seeks to deceive on the front end and then he turns around and he says, ‘What you have done, the guilt that you bear, I am holding you in captivity now to fear.’”
But Moore echoed Paul’s point that those who have come into the family of God are delivered from their sinful pasts.
“You are a new creation,” Moore said. “All those old things have passed away and that frees you from deception to walk according to the flesh and it frees you from fear to walk in condemnation.”
In a world where more and more Christians are suffering for their faith, Moore challenged the crowd to join their fellow “aliens and strangers on earth,” to defend their faith and lead others to freedom in Christ.
“We have brothers and sisters in Christ who are listening for the sounds of soldiers’ boots to arrest them, or some who are being killed, executed for their faith in Christ,” Moore said. “Even here in American culture, many of you are encountering a world in which the faith that you hold is going to seem stranger and stranger, maybe even freakish, maybe even subversive to the existing order.”
Addressing the second question, Moore said Christians must be willing to die to self and suffer for a greater cause, knowing their ultimate destination is Heaven.
“If you are in Christ, if God has adopted you into His family, then it’s not just that you have a relationship with God, it’s also that God has provided a future for you,” Moore said. “He has given you an inheritance that you can’t even imagine or see right now. You will be glorified with Him if you suffer with Him. (Rom. 8:17).”
|After speaking in Liberty University Convocation, Dr. Russell Moore met with students and signed copies of his book.|
Instead of sinking into despair during times of trial, Moore said as believers, we should be on our knees as Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane, crying out to “Abba, Father” and letting His Spirit intercede with our own.
“If we know our identity in Christ and if we know our inheritance in Christ, if we know where our power really is — not in living a normal American life … (but) in our Gospel that raises the dead to life,” then we can impact the world for Christ, Moore said.
“Since we know who we are and since we know where we’re going, we engage the outside culture without the frantic outrage or the despair of losers, but as those who are the future kings and queens and heirs of the universe,” Moore said, “with the quiet confidence … (that) the gates of hell will not prevail against (the church).”
By doing so, Christians can hear the cries and help God change the hearts of those in true despair, lost and dying without Christ.
“Many of those who hate us now, many of those who stand against us now, may well be like Saul of Tarsus, … like C.S. Lewis, like Chuck Colson, turned around by the power of the Spirit when they hear that Galilean voice speaking to them saying, ‘Where are you going? What is your name?’” Moore said. “The power of the Gospel is able to do that and we know that because He did it with us.”