About Josef Urban

“When you see that in Christ—the historical, crucified, and risen Christ—is manifested the Transcendent, the Beautiful, the Good, and the True, it changes your whole outlook on life.”

About Josef Urban

Josef, husband and father of three, has worn many hats, being a landscaper, artist, street evangelist, foreign missionary, foster parent, church planter, pastor, author, editor, conference speaker, and educator. He is currently serving as pastor of Grace Fellowship Church in Gladwin, Michigan.

He holds a Master of Divinity from Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS) and a Master of Theological Studies from Reformed Baptist Seminary. He is currently working on a Doctor of Ministry degree at PRTS in Reformed homiletics.

About this Site

Mission Statement

To proclaim all of God’s Word to all of God’s world, that people may see the beauties of Christ and be drawn into the riches of the historic Christian faith.

Purpose Statement

To produce an online repository of teachings in the form of media (videos, audios, articles, books, online courses) for the sake of reaching the nations with the gospel, promoting biblical literacy, imparting Christian teachings on topics biblical, doctrinal, historical, apologetic, and cultural, enabling people to go deeper into the study God’s Word, and training God’s servants to rightly handle the Word of truth. Thus this project shall complement the work of the Church in fulfilling the Great Commission as specified in Matthew 28:18–20.

Doctrinal Commitments

In keeping with the Rule of Faith (regula fidei), resources shall faithfully reflect the teachings of the historic Protestant and Reformed stream of Christianity as summarized in the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, the Chalcedonian Definition of Christology, and the 1689 Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, while endeavoring to be faithful to the task of theology which is to further and develop this body of truth and to apply it to contemporary challenges in fresh ways. The Westminster Confession and Catechisms and the Three Forms of Unity are respected as predecessors to the 1689, hence differences between the 1689 and these Confessions will not be a point of emphasis, although they may surface at times.

The Bible, defined by the Protestant canon of 66 books, is the ultimate arbiter of Truth and source of God’s redemptive self-revelation in keeping with the Reformation dictum sola Scriptura. The inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture as a theanthropic compendium shall be honored on the basis of Scripture’s authoritative and self-attesting character.

As postmodern epistemology has affected belief in the viability of coming to an objectively truthful interpretation of the biblical text, a statement is in order to clarify our approach to the interpretation of Scripture. Interpretation shall be consistent with the tetrad of hermeneutical horizons: (1) grammatical-historical exegesis, (2) redemptive-historical hermeneutics, (3) theological interpretation of Scripture, and (4) contemporary situational awareness (including its existential, social, ecclesiastical, and societal dimensions). The interpretation of any biblical passage shall be submitted to what the rest of Scripture teaches in keeping with the Analogy of Faith (analogia fidei). Truth disclosed through general revelation is acknowledged to be the matrix in which special revelation functions and upon which it depends for its intelligibility. Nonetheless, inscripturated revelation shall hold methodological priority and preference of attention for its clarity and sufficiency, for in its God-breathed, verbal, and propositional content is revealed the gospel of Christ as the power of God unto salvation. Although no interpreter is free from presuppositions or biases, it is not the case that such presuppositions or biases necessarily or hopelessly distort one’s discernment of the meaning of the text of Scripture. God has spoken in His Word and man as His image-bearer was fitted with the capacity to recognize, receive, and resonate with the voice of God, albeit in his fallen and unregenerate state man seeks to suppress the truth in unrighteousness and cannot discern or receive the things of the Spirit (Rom. 1:18–21; 1 Cor. 2:14).

As far as apologetic methodology goes, a comprehensive approach shall be taken in acknowledgement of the priority of revelation in the task. By “comprehensive,” we mean an approach that gleans from both general and special revelation. To be clear, rationality is essential—Christian theology incorporates mystery and is therefore above reason at times but in its authentic expression is never against reason. Rationalism, however—especially that predicated on philosophic Naturalism—is epistemologically reductionistic and ethically idolatrous, seeing that it exalts the creature over the Creator in the realms of cosmology and thought. Man is not the ultimate arbiter of Truth. True knowledge and wisdom come from God, and there is no truth that does not originate in God and cohere in the Logos (second Person of the Trinity), thus all truth is God’s truth; man can only approximate it as he comes into alignment with the mind of God and learns to analogously reflect God’s thoughts after Him. As Herman Bavinck said in his 1908 Stone Lectures presented at Princeton Theological Seminary:

“The world itself rests on revelation; revelation is the presupposition, the foundation, the secret, of all that exists in all its forms.” Thus, “with the whole of nature, with the whole of history, with the whole of humanity, with the family and society, with science and art it is intimately connected.” And this revelation has “its center in the Person of Christ,” who is the eternal Logos, the Wisdom of God, and the light of all men (A Philosophy of Revelation, eds. Cory Brock and Nathaniel Sutanto [Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2018], 24).

Practical Commitments

Christians from other traditions shall be treated charitably in an irenic spirit of catholicity. Interactions with non-Christians and their views shall strive to adhere to the principles of 1 Peter 3:15 and 2 Timothy 2:24–25. Exposés of heresies shall not be soft-peddled. Straw-manning, brow-beating, and rigid fundamentalism of a legalistic stride which imbibes intellectual immaturity and shuns critical thinking, shall be avoided. Teaching content shall be prioritized that is conducive to evangelization, edification, and the experiential application of Truth to the life of faith (which seeks understanding) and to piety (Lat. pietas) (which seeks conformity to the virtuous character of God in Christ).

Attributions

Unless otherwise indicated, all Bible quotations on this site are from The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982). Used with permission.

Background & Testimony

Born in 1985, Josef grew up in Toledo, Ohio, in a context that was far from amicable to the Christian faith. Though he was not raised with any instruction in the things pertaining to the Christian worldview, early on, he became painfully aware of the intellectual and spiritual bankruptcy of the mainstream, John Dewey-inspired educational system, eventually turning his back on it during his teenage years in pursuit of a deeper conception of the meaning of life. Once in Middle School, it became obvious that the public indoctrination system is altogether driven by social and political interests that do not have true education or critical thinking in view. Josef’s mind bucked against the system of education that was offered, which he saw as hollow, vain and perverse, as it was all utterly confined to the immediate, the immanent, the phenomenological, the natural and the carnal, to the exclusion of the beckoning of the voice that issued from Above.

Questions like, “Who am I,” “Why am I here,” “What is the meaning and purpose of life,” and “What is Truth,” burned in his heart and cried out for answers. He recalls a recurring habit of going out into the fields of Ohio at night, gazing up at the stars, and asking, “Is there any ultimate reality beyond this?” This deep-rooted longing to be filled with the truly meaningful was left unsatisfied by the corn husks of this world. Although unable to articulate it at the time, his heart was resonating with the truth of what Blaise Pascal famously observed: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.”

Leading up to this was a habit he had developed since the age of ten of reading the Bible, ruminating on it throughout the day, and praying and fasting over its words on a regular basis. All this was motivated by a dreadful sense of emptiness within him and a desire to connect with transcendent and ultimate reality, which he knew could only be found in God. His journey to Truth and meaning and purpose, he thought, had to be charted by independent initiative, apart from the mainstream narratives about the origins of life and the nihilism that such views ultimately amount to. There had to be a deeper meaning to the reason for our existence, beyond that offered by the biology teachers who taught that we are naught but sophisticated apes doomed to an oblivion of unconsciousness and non-existence.

But a season of suffering, leading to prevailing depression and resentment at his lot in life, eventually led him to skepticism about the things of God. As the bitterness within consumed him, Josef became a pronounced atheist for a season, seeking to suppress the claims of the Bible and to expel them from his thoughts. The conflict between the Bible’s portrayal of a benevolent God and the reality of life’s misery seemed incompatible.

But the beckoning call from Above, felt so keenly within, could not be silenced. Out of curiosity, Josef began to investigate the “dark side” of religion, learning about occultism and associated spiritual phenomena in which is manifest a conspicuous and undeniable supernaturalism. This led him to realize that the material realm is superseded by a spiritual realm in which malevolent entities exist who are characterized by personality, intelligence, and communicative abilities, thus becoming persuaded of the superficiality and short-sightedness of atheism and secularism. Josef then reasoned that if malevolent entities certainly exist beyond the realm of sense perception, what about the good? The reality of evil is undeniable. Hence the reality of good also must be, because evil itself cannot be classified as such unless it is measured against a standard of what constitutes the ideal (the good).

This led Josef to study the Bible anew with a critical but open mind. As he wrestled with many doubts, his study led him to the discovery of amazing qualities of the Bible that evince its origins in a supernatural, personal, intelligent source which transcends space and time.

First was the phenomenon of typology which is embedded in the biblical history. Patterns that bear Christological contours in Old Testament passages, like Abraham’s offering of Isaac in Genesis 22, point to the centrality of Jesus Christ as the focal point of human history.

Second was the interconnectedness of the biblical text. Despite its diversity of human authorship, the text is unified in its revelation of a coherent system of philosophy, theology, and ethics, pointing to its origin in the singular mind of God.

Third was the presence of biblical prophecy. Historical prophecies such as the prediction that Cyrus would overthrow the Babylonian empire, and Messianic prophecies that are fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, finally convinced Josef that the God of the Bible is the one true God, and that He exists as the Personal Absolute, the God of Truth and goodness and righteousness, the ontological Trinity, who is the Author of creation, providence, and redemption.

It wasn’t until the spring of 2004, however, that Josef came to experience the redeeming love of God personally. Earlier that year, for the first time in his life, he began attending a Bible-preaching church regularly. The encounter transpired on the morn of Resurrection Day (Easter) while sitting under a sermon about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Josef understood that Christ had not only died for him, but rose for him, and that in Christ’s life, he had new life, a new beginning, forgiveness of sins, and a new hope. He believed not only that Jesus had died for sinners, but had died and rose for him, personally and vicariously. It was there that he believed in his heart and confessed with his mouth that “Jesus is Lord” (Rom. 10:9–10).

He describes the experience as one in which he was ushered into existential encounter with the Transcendent and was completely overwhelmed by it. A sense of the Holy Spirit’s presence surged over him and through him, provoking profuse weeping, a brokenness brought about by a profound sense of sin but also a captivating sense of God’s holiness and love and grace and majesty producing an unprecedented sense of purpose and peace within. He was melted by God’s ineffable love in Christ and understood that he was saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone for God’s glory alone. He came to behold the invisible Christ through the eye of faith, as Peter described when talking about the Lord: “whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet. 1:8–9).

From that moment forward, Josef was transformed and his life was set on a different trajectory. His conscience was freed from the crushing burden of guilt. The disposition of his heart became disinclined to the sins he once loved. He developed an insatiable appetite for knowing the Scriptures, which he has studied almost daily since that time alongside commentaries from writers ancient and modern. He prayed that the Lord would take his life and make it useful, and shortly after his conversion, Josef felt that the Lord was calling him to devote his life to the ministry of the Word.

Josef has served in ministry in one capacity or another since 2005. For several years, he was involved in street ministry in inner-city Detroit, where he encountered the brokenness of human nature manifestly exhibited in tragic ways. For ten years, he was a missionary in Latin America. He pastored a church in one of Latin America’s megacities for eight years, has been involved in evangelism, publishing, and several church plants, has itinerated as a conference speaker, and has labored in training men to be teachers and preachers of the Word. He is the author of several books which were published in Spanish in Latin America and has been published in the Puritan Reformed Journal in addition to other mediums. He has also served professionally as an editor for academic papers and as a research assistant (TA) to staff at a nationally accredited seminary.

One of Josef’s ongoing burdens is to evangelize in our post-Christian culture by addressing the issues that people are facing with the timeless truths of the Holy Scriptures. Along these lines, he recognizes that one the greatest dearths faced by the church and society-at-large is biblical illiteracy, a realization that has brought him to focus on teaching the Bible as a theological treasury that centers on Christ and has vast implications for all of life. His years on the mission field led him to observe that one of the greatest needs of the global church is for in-depth biblical and theological training, especially for leadership. This had led him to serve in projects that are conducive to equipping men with the knowledge and tools they need to labor effectively in the service of God’s global kingdom.