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Will not be the Church

The evangelical church in the US will not be the church we are meant to be …

until …

we care less about …

  • Who is president
  • Who is nominated to the Supreme Court
  • Trying to get “prayer back in schools” (as if it were out)
  • Keeping evolution out of schools
  • Whether Muslims worship the same God
  • Making our churches bigger

and more about …

  • Figuring out who our neighbors are
  • Arranging our schedules for others and not ourselves
  • Pleading with God to remember us before we fade away
  • Being honest with ourselves about ourselves
  • Living the life Jesus set out for us
  • Being committed in allegiance to Jesus with more than lip service

That would be a good start.

Pacifism?

John Goldingay does some of the best and most balanced work on pacifism and the Old Testament that I’ve seen. I highly recommend Chapter 5 Section 3 of the referenced volume in his Old Testament Theology. He talks plenty about the New Testament, too.

Goldingay, John. Old Testament Theology: Israel’s Life. Vol. 3. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009.

Jesus is Lord Redux

Jesus is Lord.

  1. What does it mean when we say “Jesus is Lord”? It means Jesus is Lord of all creation. He is the king. Even when things are out of control, he is the king. Even when he seems absent, he is the king. He has plans for creation and his plan is to restore the whole mess to its original beauty and purpose, as when he created it in the first place and said, “It is good.”
  2. We ought, as Christians, to also mean that he is our Lord. He is the king of our church and the king of our lives together. We owe allegiance only to this king and no other. We listen to him and obey him — we build our house on the rock.

Jesus is Lord. I need to say it more often.

Neither Competent nor Equipped

All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, in order that the person of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (W. Hall Harris III et al., eds., )The Lexham English Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), 2 Ti 3:16–17.)

Usually the discussion is about what “inspired” means.

I would rather talk about how we are to use the scriptures, which is the Old Testament, of course.

  • For teaching. This is my special love and competency. I’ve spent too much time teaching the New Testament and not enough teaching the Old Testament. I probably don’t have time to balance it out in my lifetime, but I’d like to try.
  • For reproof. This is where we find out that we aren’t always living right. My hobby (I guess you could say) is to show the church where — at least I think — we are heading in the wrong direction. Something I must do as part of my call to teaching.
  • For training in righteousness. Not training in information, but training in righteousness. Righteous is about the way we live, not about what we know. We the church do poorly at this because we are not following our commission to make disciples. We have been satisfied with making converts, and that is not enough. People are neither competent nor equipped until they are following Jesus with the full allegiance and commitment of a life lived totally for him. It is debatable whether a person not doing so could even be called a person of God.

If you aren’t being taught in such a way, you are in a huge club of people who have grown up in a church culture that is misguided. You must teach yourself, meaning that you need to go outside your local church resources to get what you need.

Read your Bible. And make sure you read the Old Testament.

How long?

How long, O Yahweh? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul,
and sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long will my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Yahweh my God.
Give light to my eyes
lest I sleep the sleep of death,
and lest my enemy should say, “I have overcome him,”
lest my enemies rejoice because I am shaken.
But as for me, I have trusted in your steadfast love.
My heart will rejoice in your deliverance.
I will sing to Yahweh
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

(The Lexham English Bible (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012), Ps 13)

  • It is ok to ask God hard questions.
  • It is ok to get in God’s face.
  • It is ok to call God by name.
  • It is ok to be angry with God.
  • It is ok to feel abandoned by God.
  • In the end, we should trust God. He is trustworthy.

The true light was coming into the world

Capto Capture 2017 04 09 02 07 37 PM

Comments:

  1. There is no light without Jesus, and that light came into the world in the form of a man.
  2. The world — which he made himself — did not know him.
  3. The people — which he made himself — did not generally accept him. In fact, he was killed for being a heretic, more or less.
  4. But some people did accept him. They are born of God; they are children of God. They have a different status than all the other people who did not accept him.
  5. I suppose the same is true today. Some accept him but most don’t.
  6. What does it mean to accept him?
    • “believe in his name”; John uses the Greek word pisteuō, which is the verb form of the noun pistis.
    • The verb is usually translated as “believe”, as it is in the NRSV here. The noun is usually translated as “faith”.
    • It’s very easy to translate the words as they have always been translated. I mean, John is written on an almost elementary level, which is why most first year Greek classes start by reading John. I’m self taught in Greek and I’m pretty rusty, but I can still read John without referring to other books for help. But I think that pisteuō carries more baggage than just a simple “believe and that is that”. That easy believing is what has the church in trouble today. That’s why we have a church full of people who say they believe in Jesus, but they don’t really follow him and they don’t really obey him. Therefore, I submit, they aren’t really children of God.
    • We say Jesus is Lord. This chapter of John tells us he is God. To pisteuō in him is not a little thing, done by repeating the sinner’s prayer after a supposed gospel presentation. It means something more than that.
    • To pisteuō Jesus means to pledge allegiance to him. It means we are committed to him no matter what happens tomorrow or next week. We are his. (And he is ours — a pretty good benefit for our commitment.) This is a strong, strong, strong meaning. Nothing easy about it.

Get onboard the allegiance train. Think of it as a feudal lord pledging his fealty to the king. Think of it as a solemn vow with great seriousness and ramifications attached to it. Think of it as counting the cost of discipleship. Think of it as truly following Jesus and being under his command.

Let’s help our churches get out of this sorry state we are in. Perhaps more than half of all the supposed Christians in our churches are on dangerous ground. They’ve been told they are safe and they are going to heaven (as if that were some kind of goal of the gospel) and they are resting easy. They need to become disciples of Jesus just like everyone else — by being committed to him, allegiant to him.

Read your Bible!

Jesus is Lord

Jesus is Lord.

“Jesus is Lord” is one of the oldest confessions in the church. Christians have been saying, “Jesus is Lord” for 2000 years. We shouldn’t stop saying it now.

What does it mean?

  • It means that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. For us, it means that Jesus trumps any earthly loyalties we have, whether it be family, political party, tribe, or nation. And not just in our sentiment, but in reality.
  • It means that Jesus takes priority in everything. He comes first. Even when the chips are down.
  • Most of all it means that Jesus is our King. We owe him our allegiance, loyalty, trust, and obedience. We give our fealty. It doesn’t mean we said some words about repentance. It means we are servants of his. He is truly our King.

We’ve lost this idea of Jesus the King in the church today. Let’s dig it back out, dust it off, and start living it.

Jesus is Lord. Jesus is my Lord. He is my King. I am his and he is mine. I will serve him to the very end. I pledge allegiance to him and to him alone. I pledge loyalty to him and to him alone. I will obey him, even when obedience conflicts with my culture and my desires. I trust him no matter what. Jesus is my Lord.