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Showing posts from June, 2007

Public & Personal

Across this nation there is a thought that gets expressed like this:

“I think that religion is a personal thing.”

or

“Religion is strictly personal.”

These statements may be translated:

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

or

“I don’t want you to talk about it.”

or

“Please get off my back!”

Well, really, religion has to be personal--Jesus Christ is a person. He loves people. That is personal. Also, in the last 50 or so years, there has risen in evangelical circles an expression that sounds like this, “Receive Jesus Christ as your own personal Savior.” This was a reaction to the impersonal deism of church membership.

Yes, Christianity is personal. After it becomes personal it must become public. Let’s look at how Jesus expects the “personal” to become public:

What I tell you in the dark (personal), speak in the daylight (public); what is whispered in your ear (personal) proclaim from the roofs (public). (Matthew 10:27 NIV)

If you do not wish to be publicly identified with Jesus and the Bible now…

Church Growth

They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. (Acts 4:3, 4 NIV)

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord. (Acts 9:31 NIV)


These two paragraphs have something in common. The church grew in numbers in both cases. There was a difference, though. In the first case, the church was persecuted, and in the second, the church enjoyed a time of peace. The conclusion is that church growth is not related directly to persecution or peace; it is related directly to preaching of the gospel in power. The church can die under persecution, but it does not have to. The church can die in peace, but it does not have to. The church died in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey because of persecution. The churc…

Preach as You Go

As you go, preach this message: “The kingdom of heaven is near.” (Matthew 10:7 NIV)

At least in recent Christian history, preaching is something that takes place at a certain place, at a certain hour, not too often and not too long. It also requires much preparation by the preacher. This, however, does not seem to be what Jesus said. He said it again in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19: “…As you go, make disciples of all nations.” “Preaching” and “making disciples” should be a normal part of our daily life, not a special part. Nor should it be a normal part for special people. Here is a Biblical example:

On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. (Acts 8:1, 4 NIV)

Everyone except the apostles were preaching as they went. This, if “all” means “all,” meant thousands of people and perhaps tens of thousand…

God's Grace (part 1)

His love has no limit;
His grace has no measure;
His power no boundary known unto man.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
--Annie Johnson Flint

Here are a few phrases from the Scriptures describing grace in quantitative terms:

...how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Romans 5:15 NIV)

...grace increased all the more… (Romans 5:20 NIV)

...God’s abundant provision of grace... (Romans 5:17 NIV)

...Grace and peace be yours in abundance. (1 Peter 1:2 NIV)

But he gives us more grace... (James 4:6 NIV)

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. (John 1:16 NIV)

...and much grace was upon them all. (Acts 4:33 NIV)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you... (2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV)

...because of the surpassing grace God has given you. (2 Corinthians 9:14 NIV)

...in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us... (Ephesians 1…

The Everlasting God

Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:28-31 NIV)

I have no comment on the text.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Love

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even “sinners” love those who love them. (Luke 6:32 NIV)

This kind of love is not a distinctively Christian trait. In fact, Jesus said that “even sinners love those who love them.” Many Christians love those who love them or love lovely people and think that they are evidencing Christian love, when in fact, they are loving in a humanistic fashion. In other words, they love in the same way every other human being loves. There is a distinctive love that only Christians have. They have it because they received it when it was given to them by the Lord.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)

His love for us had nothing to do with our loveliness or our love for Him. It had to do with His nature and our need. When we share this love with others, it should have nothing to do with others’ love for us or their loveliness. Jesus said,

But love your enem…

Our Nation Must First Be Righteous

“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.” Proverbs 14:34

Since the Second World War the United States has been trying to replace dictatorships with democracy. The reason? One is bad and the other is good!

If you have a nation made up of Shiites and Sunnis or Hamas and Fatah democracy will elect one of the two. In Latin American where there is capitalism and communism, democracy will elect one of the two. In none of these cases do we get a righteous nation. Instead of exporting democracy we should export righteousness. In order to export it, we must have it to export.

We, as a nation, do not think we should export righteousness, so we export democracy hoping that will turn into a righteousness.

In order to have a righteous nation, the king (or government) and the people must be righteous.

The righteousness that Proverbs is speaking of is the righteousness that comes from God. That righteousness comes by faith in Jesus Christ.

“Since they did not know the righteous…

Seek Righteousness

“The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.” Isaiah 32:17

Do you see the sequence, the cause and effect? Peace, quietness, and confidence are the result of righteousness.

We see it in the New Testament in Romans 5:1, “Therefore, since we have been made righteous through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace with God is the result of righteousness from God.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” James 3:17

Purity comes first then peace.

Do you want peace in your heart? Seek the righteousness from God. Do you want peace in the world proclaim the righteousness from God.

Mind of Man

For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11 NIV)

One of the things I see often is people judging with absolute certainty the thoughts and motives of another person. To them, it is self-evident. The text quoted is a rhetorical question. Paul is not asking for a show of hands on who knows another person’s thoughts. He is saying that man cannot know the thoughts of another man. We could know if the man told us and we could know if we had the man’s spirit. We could also know if God revealed the man’s thoughts to us. Until then, we must not judge the thoughts of another person. We guess! We guess wrongly and then act on our guess as if we were right.

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

Faith and the Intellect

In a recent McLaurin Institute newsletter there was an interview with their campus minister at the University of Minnesota, Pete Lackey.

Here is one of the questions and Pete’s answer:

Institute:Can you describe your ministry to students at the Institute?

Lackey:The Mars Hill version is a really unique one. In a word, it’s all about assisting students with their “cognitive conversion.” That is, in the fragmented world in which we live, it’s really easy for students (and others) to embrace a faith that is “spiritually” robust but “intellectually” inadequate. The result is an unhealthy compartmentalization of faith, life and studies—and eventually vocation. My goal with the Mars Hill Students is to help students first to realize and then to actualize the truth that Jesus Christ exercises jurisdiction over every realm of thought and life—even the university! Together, we explore what this means as students and as future leaders in the various spheres of our culture.

Minnesota is in the Bibl…

Gospel Defined #6

“At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, "Cornelius!" Cornelius stared at him in fear. "What is it, Lord?" he asked. The angel answered, "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea." When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

Peter's Vision

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up o…

Gospel Defined #5

“Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord's disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" "Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked. "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting," he replied. "Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do." The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything. In Damascus there was a disciple named …

Gospel Defined #4

“Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, "Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza." So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, "Go to that chariot and stay near it." Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. "Do you understand what you are reading?" Philip asked. "How can I," he said, "unless someone explains it to me?" So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his desc…

Gospel Defined #3

“Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him. David said about him:

" 'I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence.'

"Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet…

Gospel Defined #2

“Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” John 4:35-38

Catechism and Emotion

In the many evangelical churches there are several different systematic theologies. Even though there are so many differences there is something common in all of the theologies. It is that truth which saves. If it were not there, none of these churches would be Christian. However, that is not my subject.

Many of these Christians, (I would like to say “most” but I have not talked with all of them) have at least two distinct theologies each.

One of them is their church theology, the one they were taught in Sunday school or confirmation class or catechism class.

The other one is an emotional one that has its origin culturally, movies, songs, Christmas cards, novels, gossip, lack of Bible reading or much Bible reading, and the Holy Spirit. The first theology is the one they use in arguments. The second one is the one they live by, the one they trust.

There is an axiom that says “Ideas have consequences.” There is another one that I will declare right now. It is: “Emotions have consequences.” …