What We Believe About Systematic Theology – Part Two

What We Believe About Systematic Theology – Part Two

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page

A. What is the difference Calvinism vs. Arminianism? Calvinism and Arminianism are two systems of theology that attempt to explain the relationship between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in the matter of salvation.Calvinism is named for John Calvin, a French theologian who lived from 1509-1564. Arminianism is named for Jacobus Arminius, a Dutch theologian who lived from 1560-1609. Both systems can be summarized with five points.

  1. Calvinism holds to the total depravity of man while Arminianism holds to partial depravity. Total depravity states that every aspect of humanity is tainted by sin; therefore, human beings are unable to come to God on their own accord. Partial depravity states that every aspect of humanity is tainted by sin, but not to the extent that human beings are unable to place faith in God of their own accord. Note: classical Arminianism rejects “partial depravity” and holds a view very close to Calvinistic “total depravity.
  2. Calvinism includes the belief in unconditional election, while Arminianism believes in conditional election. Unconditional election is the view that God elects individuals to salvation based entirely on His will, not on anything inherently worthy in the individual. Conditional election states that God elects individuals to salvation based on His foreknowledge of who will believe in Christ unto salvation, thereby on the condition that the individual chooses God.
  1. Calvinism sees limited atonement, while Arminianism sees it as unlimited. This is the most controversial of the five points. Limited atonement is the belief that Jesus only died for the elect. Unlimited atonement is the belief that Jesus died for all, but that His death is not effectual until a person receives Him by faith.
  2. Calvinism includes the belief in irresistible grace, while Arminianism says that an individual can resist the grace of God. Irresistible grace argues that when God calls a person to salvation, that person will inevitably come to salvation. Resistible grace states that God calls all to salvation, but that many people resist and reject this call.
  3. Calvinism holds to perseverance of the saints while Arminianism holds to conditional salvation. Perseverance of the saints refers to the concept that a person who is elected by God will persevere in faith and will not permanently deny Christ or turn away from Him. Conditional salvation is the view that a believer in Christ can, of his/her own free will, turn away from Christ and thereby lose salvation. Note: many Arminians deny “conditional salvation” and instead hold to “eternal security.”

Conclusion: So, in the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate, who is correct? It is interesting to note that in the diversity of the body of Christ, there are all sorts of mixtures of Calvinism and Arminianism. There are five-point Calvinists and five-point Arminians, and at the same time three-point Calvinists and two-point Arminians. Many believers arrive at some sort of mixture of the two views. Ultimately, it is our view that both systems fail in that they attempt to explain the unexplainable. Human beings are incapable of fully grasping a concept such as this. Yes, God is absolutely sovereign and knows all. Yes, human beings are called to make a genuine decision to place faith in Christ unto salvation. These two facts seem contradictory to us, but in the mind of God they make perfect sense. The Scriptures teach both the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. If you take either of these positions to an extreme, to the denying of the other, you’re likely to have problems.

B. End times matters:

The dispensational system results in a pre-millennial interpretation of Christ’s second coming and usually a pre-tribulational interpretation of the rapture.

  1. Pre-Trib rapture: Jesus promised that He would come again for His disciples so that where He is we shall be also [Jn.14:1-3]. The concept of the rapture is described in 1Th.4:17 where the living church is “caught up” to meet the Lord in the air so that we shall ever be with the Jesus. In Jereome’s Latin translation, the Vulgate, the Latin translation of the Greekharpazo is raptuse which yields our English rapture. While we recognize there are differing views regarding the timing we believe the best evidence supports a pre-trib rapture. In essence, the church is delivered prior to the seven year Great Tribulation described in Revelation 6-19. Keep in mind the Rapture is not the same as 2nd coming [Mt.24] at the end the Tribulation.

Date-setting: no one knows the day or the hour however Jesus urged us to know the “Season” [Mt. 24:32-35 parable of the fig tree] or prophetic signs leading to His return. Why do we hold the view of a pre-trib rapture:

a. The church is not appointed to wrath (God’s judgment) [1Th.1:10,5:1-9]. God will not judge the righteous with the wicked [2Pet.2:5].

b. Attitude of expectancy: The exhortations to watch and be ready for His imminent return. We are told that Jesus comes as a thief in the night – unexpected, imminent. In the Olivet discourse [Mt.25] Jesus told a series of parables. The moral of each is to watch and be ready for His return at any time. The theme is, “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” [Mt.24:42]. Paul, echoes the theme to the church at Thessolonica [1Th.5:1-4]. If the Lord would not return until the middle or end of the Great Tribulation then His return would not be unexpected. It appears to be God’s plan that every generation live in constant expectation of His imminent return.

c. Revelation 4-6: Rev.4:4 the 24 elders as representatives of the church, are present in heaven before the Great Tribulation. In Rev.5 as Jesus receives the title deed to the earth the 24 elders sing a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; or You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Only the church can sing the song of redemption. The chronology shows the church in heaven before God’s throne prior to the Great tribulation beginning in Rev.6.

d. OT types: Lot was removed before judgment of Sodom [Gen.18:23-19:25; 2Pet.2:7-9]; Enoch [Gen.5:24] and Elijah [2Ki.2:1-11] were “raptured” before judgment, and Daniel was gone as 3 Hebrews were cast into fire [Dan.3].

e. Israel and prophecy: Most end times problems occur when we replace Israel and the Church in passages. God is not through with Israel [Dan. 9-12. Romans 9-11]. In 1948 the nation state of Israel was established and this appears to be a key event in Biblical prophecy. Israel [the Jewish people who have yet to receive Christ] goes through the Tribulation not the Church. Noah and Daniel’s 3 friends are a picture of Israel preserved.

f. Arguments used to support the view that the church is present during the Tribulation:

i. The Last Trumpet: Some assert the last trumpet in 1Cor.15:51-52 is related to the seven trumpet judgments of Revelation, however the trumpet of the Rapture is sounded by God [1Cor 15:51-52, 1Th.4:16], whereas the trumpets of judgment are sounded by angels [Rev.8:13].

ii. Martyrs Rev.20:4-5: The martyrs that John sees and describes in heaven are tribulation saints not the church [Rev.7:13-14].

iii. The gathering of the elect Mt.24:29-31: Immediately after the tribulation Jesus gathers His elect. Although the church is frequently referred to as God’s elect, the Jews/Israel are also described as the elect. Here, the promise relates to Israel, not the church [Is.11:12].

iv. Antichrist makes war against the saints Dan.7:21, Rev.13:7: Since the Antichrist prevails against them they are not the church [Mt.16:18] but are tribulation saints [i.e. those who come to Christ during the tribulation].

g. Practical implications of a pre-Trib perspective: First, the expectation that Jesus could come at any time creates anurgency for the work of ministry to reach the lost as quickly as possible. Second, It helps to create a proper perspective of material blessings. We won’t cling as tightly to the things of the world if we believe we can leave this world at any moment. Third, it helps to establish and maintain purity in out lives [Mt.24:46, 1Jn.3:2-3]. We believe that the Lord is coming soon, “And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed [Rom. 13:11].

C. General Systematic Theology Notes:

  1. Descriptive vs. prescriptive hermeneutic: There are some passages that describe how the church functioned but they do not necessarily prescribe how the church must function. For example the church at Troas [Ac. 20:7-12] met on Sunday and they broke bread [presumably the Lord’s Supper]. This describes what they did but does not necessarily mandate that the church must meet on Sunday, as opposed to Saturday or any other day. Nor does it require the church to partake of communion every Sunday when it gathers.
  2. The negative vs. positive hermeneutic: Simply because a practice isn’t mentioned in the Bible doesn’t mean the early church didn’t do it or that the church today shouldn’t do it. As long as a practice doesn’t violate a clear biblical principle then God has given you freedom to do it or not.

Why Do You Believe That?

Why Do You Believe That?

By Trip Kimball

What’s the most visited page on a website? The About (Me/Us) page. It’s true for my site, as it is for most others. Is it because our culture is so voyeuristic?

While this might be true to some degree, mainly it’s because we want to know someone before we trust what they say. Christian believers also need to know the validity of what they say they believe.

Over the next several weeks, I want to take a look at why we believe what we believe. This includes a look at the 5 Solas, the basic pillars of the Protestant Reformation, from my own point of view as a follower of Jesus.

A very brief history

Every evangelical church, or evangelical community of believers, is rooted in the Protestant Reformation. Many people in evangelical ministries may not realize this, or if they know it, may not know why.

“Evangelical believers are rooted in the Protestant Reformation” @tkbeyond

The Protestant Reformation (PR) started when men such as John Wycliffe, John Huss, Martin Luther, Huldreich Zwingli, and John Calvin, over a period of 200 years, objected to the sale of indulgences (kindnesses) and other practices of the church.

As a means of raising money, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) provided a way to pay for forgiveness, even for people already dead. There’s more to what paying for indulgences includes, its origin and history, but it worked like a get-out-of-hell-free card.

The reform movement formalized

This led to a movement that set out to reform the Roman Catholic Church (RCC). When it was clear the church—the only recognized church at that time—would not change, the Protestant movement separated from the RCC.

Initially, three primary churches developed, then a fourth, for mostly the same reasons—

  • The Lutheran Church— started by followers of Martin Luther’s leadership and influence
  • The Reformed Church— started by John Calvin’s followers
  • The Presbyterian Church— started by John Knox in Scotland
  • The Anglican Church— this included the Reformers in England, but was formalized when King Henry the VIII broke away from the Pope

Luther’s 95 Theses

Although many people had similar concerns, Martin Luther is most well known for his Ninety-five Theses posted on the door of the church in Wittenberg. Luther was a monk who taught moral theology at the University of Wittenberg.

The original intent for his 95 Theses was to promote discussion not dissension, but the church didn’t see it that way.

There’s much more to the story, but the essence is that Luther and other reformers challenged the authority of the pope and certain practices of the church that were not biblical.

The driving force of the Protestant Reformation was to bring the church back to its biblical roots. The Scriptures are to be the final authoritative basis governing all doctrines and practices of the church, not the pope nor other church leaders.

“The Protestant reformers wanted to bring the church back to its biblical roots” @tkbeyond

The roots of Protestantism

Protestantism is a broad term that includes churches or communities of believers who are not part of the RCC, but who hold to a biblical foundation of faith.

Other churches grew out of the four primary ones mentioned above because of other distinctions in theology, doctrine, and practices, but the essentials of the Christian faith remain the same.

The primary tenets of the Protestant Reformation are summarized in the 5 Solas (originally in Latin)—

  1. Sola Scriptura– Scripture Alone – The Bible alone is the sole authority for all matters of faith and practice.
  2. Sola Gratia – Grace Alone – “Salvation by Grace Alone.” Salvation is proof of God’s undeserved favor; we are rescued from God’s wrath by His grace alone, not by any work we do.
  3. Sola Fide – Faith Alone “Salvation by Faith Alone.” We are justified by faith in Christ alone, not by the works of the Law.
  4. Sola Christus – Christ Alone “In Christ Alone.” Salvation is found in Jesus Christ alone; no one and nothing else can save.
  5. Soli Dei Gloria – Glory of God Alone “For the Glory of God Alone.” Salvation is of God and has been accomplished by God for His glory alone.

Why we need to understand what we believe

Pure and simple devotion

We need to be aware of deceptions perpetrated by the enemy of our soul (the devil). As Paul points out, we need a pure and undivided devotion to Jesus.

But I fear that somehow your pure and undivided devotion to Christ will be corrupted, just as Eve was deceived by the cunning ways of the serpent. (2 Cor 11:3 NLT)

It’s always about Jesus! He’s the Head of the Body of Christ—the church. He’s the Core of the Gospel. He’s the Alpha (first) and Omega (last). He’s the only Son of God—Savior, Lord of Lords, and Returning King.

“A pure and undivided devotion to Jesus keeps us from deception” @tkbeyond

A strong and deep relationship

Our relationship with the Lord Jesus needs to deepen so we’re not so vulnerable to clever arguments, deceptions, or anything else that would draw us away from a pure, uncomplicated commitment to Him.

I am telling you this so no one will deceive you with well-crafted arguments… And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him… Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. (Col 2:4, 6, 8 NLT)

Spiritual maturity

We need to pursue spiritual maturity, not by gathering more theological knowledge, but through deepening our understanding of Jesus—who He is and what He’s done to redeem and restore us.

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ. Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. (Eph 4:13-14 NLT)

It’s who you know, not what you know

We need to be rooted and grounded in our relationship with Jesus, not just gain more knowledge about Him. We need to understand what He says.

“We need to be rooted and grounded in our relationship with Jesus” @tkbeyond

The four gospels are the bedrock for our faith, as they were for the early church. Jesus is the one who interprets the truth of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms for us. He did this personally for the apostles (Luke 24:44), and He will do it for us by the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:27).

Jesus is the Cornerstone of our faith (1 Cor 3:11; Eph 2:20; 1 Pet 2:4-6).

Jesus is our plumb line, our spiritual point of reference. As Jesus said to His closest followers—

It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. (John 6:63)

If the truths we hold about Jesus and the Christian faith don’t line up with what He says, then we’re on shaky ground.

“If what we believe about Jesus doesn’t line up with what He says, we’re on shaky ground” @tkbeyond

Do you understand why you believe what you believe?

 

Helpful links for the history of the Protestant Reformation and the 5 Solas—

Protestant Reformation

Protestant Reformation History

5 Solas

Cambridge Declaration–Alliance–Confessing Evangelicals


 

trip_0Trip disciples and mentors in several small groups in Jacksonville and beyond. He travels within the US and overseas to teach and train leaders whenever possible.Trip has written a book, training materials, and Bible studies for leaders and missions. He posts 3 times a week– an article, short devo, and simple Bible study at Word-Strong.com

What We Believe About Systematic Theology – Part One

What We Believe About Systematic Theology – Part One

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page 

1. What is a Dispensational system of theology? We follow a dispensational system of theology, which is contrast below with the reform or covenant system. Dispensationalism is a system of theology that has a consistently literal interpretation of Scripture, especially Bible prophecy, and a distinction between Israel and the church in God’s program. Dispensationalists claim that their principle of hermeneutics is that of literal interpretation, which means giving each word the meaning it would commonly have in everyday usage. Symbols, figures of speech and types are all interpreted plainly in this method, and this is in no way contrary to literal interpretation. Even symbols and figurative sayings have literal meanings behind them. There are at least three reasons why this is the best way to view Scripture. First, philosophically, the purpose of language itself seems to require that we interpret it literally. Language was given by God for the purpose of being able to communicate with man. The second reason is biblical. Every prophecy about Jesus Christ in the Old Testament was fulfilled literally. Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ ministry, Jesus’ death, and Jesus’ resurrection all occurred exactly and literally as the Old Testament predicted. There is no non-literal fulfillment of these prophecies in the New Testament. This argues strongly for the literal method. Third, if literal interpretation is not used in studying the Scriptures, there is no objective standard by which to understand the Bible. Each and every person would be able to interpret the Bible as he saw fit. Biblical interpretation would devolve into “what this passage says to me…” instead of “the Bible says…” Sadly, this is already the case in much of what is called biblical interpretation today.

Dispensational theology teaches that there are two distinct peoples of God: Israel and the church. Dispensationalists believe that salvation has always been by faith—in God in the Old Testament and specifically in God the Son in the New Testament. Dispensationalists hold that the church has not replaced Israel in God’s program and the Old Testament promises to Israel have not been transferred to the church. They believe that the promises God made to Israel (for land, many descendants, and blessings) in the Old Testament will be ultimately fulfilled in the 1000-year period spoken of in Revelation chapter 20. Dispensationalists believe that just as God is in this age focusing His attention on the church, He will again in the future focus His attention on Israel (Romans 9-11).Using this system as a basis, some dispensationalists understand the Bible to be organized into seven dispensations: Innocence (Genesis 1:1–3:7), conscience (Genesis 3:8–8:22), human government (Genesis 9:1–11:32), promise (Genesis 12:1–Exodus 19:25), law (Exodus 20:1–Acts 2:4), grace (Acts 2:4–Revelation 20:3), and the millennial kingdom (Revelation 20:4-6). Again, these dispensations are not paths to salvation, but manners in which God relates to man. Dispensationalism, as a system, results in a pre-millennial interpretation of Christ’s second coming and usually a pre-tribulational interpretation of the rapture.

2. What is the difference between Covenant vs. Dispensational theology?

Dispensational theology essentially sees the Scriptures unfolding in a series of “dispensations.” A dispensation can be loosely defined as the means through which God governs his actions with man and creation. Dispensational theology views the revelation as progressive, i.e., in each dispensation, God reveals more and more of His divine plan of redemption. The thing to remember with dispensational theology is that there is a sharp distinction between Israel and the Church. They are two different people with two different destinies in God’s economy. The Church is seen as a ‘parenthesis’ between God’s dealings with national Israel. The restored kingdom promised to Israel will be fulfilled in the Millenium. Until then is the Church Age—the time of the Gentiles.

Covenant theology is effectively the polar opposite of dispensational theology. While both agree that Scripture is progressive, the overarching principle of covenant theology is the covenant. Covenant theology sees two theological covenants in Scripture—the covenant of works and the covenant of grace. The covenant of works was introduced in the Garden between God and man in which God promised mankind life for obedience and judgment for disobedience. The covenant of works was re-introduced at Sinai as God promised Israel long life and blessing in the land upon on the condition of their obedience to the Mosaic covenant, but expulsion and judgment in the event of their disobedience. The covenant of grace was implemented after the fall and represents God’s unconditional covenant with man to redeem and save the elect. All of the various biblical covenants (Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and the New) are out-workings of the covenant of grace as God works His plan of redemption in human history. So where dispensational theology saw a discontinuity between the various dispensations (and in particular between the Old and the New Testaments), covenant theology sees a great deal of continuity. This is especially evident in the fact that covenant theology does not see a sharp distinction between Israel and the Church. Both entities are seen as one continuous people of God with one ultimate destiny. All of that serves as the backdrop to view new covenant theology. New covenant theology is a middle point between the two. It shares a lot in common with classic covenant theology, in particular the continuity between the Church and Israel as being one people of God. However, it also differs with covenant theology in that it does not necessarily view the Scriptures as the unfolding of redemption in a covenant of works/covenant of grace framework. Instead it sees the Scriptures in a more promise/fulfillment paradigm.

3. What is New Covenant theology?

New Covenant theology is best described as a hermeneutical principle, or an interpretative grid through which one reads and interprets the Scriptures. As a hermeneutical principle, it stands as a bridge between dispensational theologyand covenant [reform] theology. That is not to say that new covenant theology has intentionally set itself up between dispensational theology and covenant theology, but that new covenant theology shares things in common with both dispensational and covenant theology. As such, we cannot say what new covenant theology is without reference to dispensational theology or covenant theology.

By far the biggest difference between new covenant theology and covenant theology is how each views the Mosaic Law. Covenant theology sees the Law in three ways: civil, ceremonial and moral. The civil aspect of the Law was those laws in the covenant of Sinai which governed the theocratic nation of Israel while they live in the Promised Land. The ceremonial aspect of the Law governed the worship of God by Israel while in the land. Finally, the moral aspect of the Law governed the behavior of God’s people. It should be understood that the Law, in and of itself, is one cohesive whole and that the Jews did not delineate between civil, ceremonial and moral; these are just terms used to help identify the three areas of Israelite life that the Mosaic Law governed.

According to classic covenant theology, Jesus came to fulfill the Law (Matthew 5:17). He did so by satisfying all of the ceremonial, civil and moral aspects of the Law. Jesus Christ is the reality behind the shadows of the Old Testament sacrificial system and thereby fulfills the ceremonial aspect of the Law. Jesus Christ also bore the penalty our sins deserved and thereby fulfilled the civil aspect of the Law. Finally, Jesus Christ lived in full accordance with the moral aspect of the Law and fulfilled the righteous requirements of the Law. Now the moral aspect of the Law represents the essence of the covenant of works. As such, it transcends the Mosaic economy. In other words, God has always required holiness from humanity. The covenant of works was not negated due to the fall, nor was it negated even though it was fulfilled in Christ. The moral aspect of the Law still stands as the standard of morality for mankind because it is reflective of God’s character, and that does not change. Therefore, covenant theology still sees the Mosaic Law (especially the Ten Commandments) as prescriptive for the Church, even though the ceremonial and civil aspects have been rendered obsolete in Christ.

New covenant theology sees the Mosaic Law as a whole and sees it all fulfilled in Christ (so far in agreement with covenant theology). However, because new covenant theology sees the Mosaic Law as a whole it also sees the moral aspect of the Mosaic Law as fulfilled in Christ and no longer applying to Christians. Instead of being under the moral aspect of the Mosaic Law as summarized in the Ten Commandments, we are under the law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21). The law of Christ would be those prescriptions that Christ specifically stated in the Gospels (e.g., the Sermon on the Mount). In other words, the entire Mosaic economy has been set aside in new covenant theology; it no longer applies in any way to Christians. So while new covenant theology sees a continuity between the Old and New Testaments in regards to God’s people and the way of salvation, new covenant theology draws a rather sharp line of distinction between the Old and New Testaments when it comes to the difference between the old Mosaic covenant and the new covenant mediated by Christ. The old covenant is obsolete (including the moral aspect of the Mosaic Law) and replaced by the new covenant with the law of Christ to govern its morality.


 

Pastor at Calvary Nexus, Camarillo, CA. Bruce has been an ordained pastor for over 20 years. Bruce planted Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, Ca. in 1996 and continues to serve as the lead pastor of a multi-site church. Bruce is the author of 12 books. He has previously been a trial attorney, and helps direct the Calvary Church Planting Network [CCPN].

How Jesus Taught

How Jesus Taught

By  Trip Kimball

Our family moved to the Visayan region of the Philippines, in the summer of 1990. I joined an existing ministry that trained pastors and leaders how to study the Bible inductively. My wife had vision to care for abandoned babies and children, which became Rainbow Village Ministries.

Although I planted and pastored a church in Southern California for twelve years prior to our move, I learned how to teach in the Philippines.

Learning to teach

I was challenged to reexamine how I taught after several months in the Philippines, while traveling and teaching seminars. How I learned to teach before wasn’t wrong, but it seemed less effective than in my pastoral experience in the US.

I stumbled into a new way to teach without any strategy for learning it. This pretty well sums up my learning style for most everything I’ve done in life, including marriage and parenting.

All I know is, the more I became engaged in the learning process, the better I learned to engage others in teaching. At the same time, I developed a passion for simplicity. The challenge was finding a way to teach in a simple way without compromising the depth of truth in God’s Word.

Little by little, I learned how to teach in a more simple, effective way. Studying and teaching through the gospels was critical to my learning process, as I saw how Jesus taught.

Jesus’ style of teaching

How did Jesus teach the crowds, His followers, and even those who opposed Him?

Yes, of course, the Holy Spirit empowered His words and enlightened the people. But even when the people and His disciples didn’t understand what Jesus taught, they marveled at it. Even those who opposed and challenged His authority had to marvel at Him (Matt 22:15-22).

So, what was it about His teaching that carried so much authority?

If we look at the greater context of Matt 7:28-29, we see Jesus taught on many subjects. It’s called the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chaps. 5–7). Much of this teaching seems to be a reframing of the covenant law to its original intent. Jesus would say to the people, “You have heard… But I say to you…” (Matt 5:21, 22).

It’s a great example of what’s commonly called exposition.

Some basic observations

Two things stand out to me about Jesus’ teaching—He told a lot of stories (parables), and taught in an interactive way with His disciples.

A friend shared an article with me that sums up what I learned in the Philippines, and what I see in Jesus’ teaching.

“Jesus provoked thought so that truth could be understood and internalized.”@tkbeyond

I’ve come to value biblical storying for its simplicity and power. Two sources helped me gain this insight—a Filipino pastor whom I’ve mentored for many years, and ministries connected to the International Orality Network.

My Filipino brother is planting churches and training leaders using the training he received from Simply the Story. This pastor trains people who are well-educated and those without education.

One of his students, who is an oral learner (non-literate), pastors a church he planted in a remote mountain area. My friend trained two other leaders to be missionaries in Hong Kong. Their method of evangelism and discipleship is biblical storying. I could go on, but you get the picture (I hope).

Interactive discipleship

We gain insight to how Jesus trained His disciples within the narrative of the gospels. Sometimes He explained parables to them (Matt 13:10-17), other times He used situations and simple illustrations (Matt 18:1-6), and chided them when they lacked understanding (Mark 8:14-21).

“Jesus interacted with people, He didn’t just lecture them.”@tkbeyond

This became a major change point for me. I began to be more interactive with students, whether in a seminar, classroom, and in more informal settings. I probably learned more from my mistakes than my observations of Jesus’ way of teaching.

Several years ago, a missionary friend shared another valuable piece of my learning process. He shared on several things, but one stuck with me—how Jesus learned as a young man.

The example of young Jesus

Let’s go back to the time when Jesus was young. In Luke 2:41-52, we find Him in the temple with the Jewish teachers. They were all amazed at His understanding and answers. What does it say He was doing? He was “listening to them and asking them questions” (Luke 2:46).

“Early on we see the foundation for Jesus’ interactive style of teaching.”@tkbeyond

A few weeks ago, I shared something similar with some alumni from the Bible college I founded nearly 20 years ago. How did I do it? Interactively, of course—I asked questions! They were familiar with that, but then I shared something else.

I asked them, “How do you think I develop my questions? How do I ask questions that engage people so they will answer?”

Then I told them that I need to listen to those whom I’m teaching. I need to see if I’m connecting with them, and if they are understanding what I’m trying to explain.

It’s my responsibility as a teacher to communicate the truth so those who hear it can understand it.

Are we listening?

I have a couple of questions for pastors, leaders and teachers to consider. Are we listening to the people we are serving, or are we too busy speaking? Are we asking questions only to answer them ourselves?

These are questions I had to ask myself, and still do.

In last week’s post, I expressed the concern that something was missing in spite of all the resources available for Christians. I don’t know that it’s just one thing, but I’m concerned that inner, personal transformation is one thing that’s missing.

I believe that intentional, personal, and interactive discipleship is essential to meet this need. And, it’s how Jesus taught and discipled people.

 


 

trip_0Trip disciples and mentors in several small groups in Jacksonville and beyond. He travels within the US and overseas to teach and train leaders whenever possible.Trip has written a book, training materials, and Bible studies for leaders and missions. He posts 3 times a week– an article, short devo, and simple Bible study at Word-Strong.com

Teaching Like A Pharisee or Like Jesus

Teaching Like A Pharisee or Like Jesus

By Trip Kimball

When Jesus walked the earth during His time of public ministry, people sought Him out. They were amazed at His teaching, and likewise, by the miracles.

No placards or banners were set up to announce His coming, in fact the opposite was true. People would go out to wherever He was, whether in a town, a seashore, or a remote field—even when Jesus tried to be alone. No one persuaded them to come. They were attracted to Him.

Today, much is made of the distinction between attractional and missional ministry. Jesus was on a mission, but He also attracted people. So, what’s different today?

Real authority

People marveled at the way Jesus taught, because He taught with real authority, not like their religious leaders (Matt 7:28-29). What made the difference?

They drew from the same Scriptures, which would be our Old Testament, so it couldn’t be a Bible version issue.

What caused the crowd to see a difference between the professional teachers of their day and how Jesus taught? Was is it the miracles? Perhaps to some degree, but it was more the way He taught them.

What caused the crowd to see a difference between the professional teachers of their day and how Jesus taught?

What about us?

Yes, of course, Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, but He said we (His followers) were to teach as He did—with His authority (Matt 28:18-20). But are we?

Do people throng to mega-churches because of the authoritative style of the pastor? Certainly, many fine teachers can be found. They write books, speak at conferences, and offer podcasts.

But do we see the same passion in their followers as seen with the followers of Jesus in His time?

Are believers so stirred by the truth that their lives are radically transformed? This is what we see in the Book of Acts with the first followers of Jesus and those they discipled.

Are believers so stirred by the truth that their lives are radically transformed?

Resources galore!

Incredible resources are available today—in print form, online, mobile apps, and more. There’s no shortage of Bible knowledge these days, not in America. But are all these resources, and all the teaching that takes place in churches, conferences, books, DVD’s, and podcasts, transforming people?

trip

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo credit: ©Time Inc.

Are we penetrating and transforming the culture, or are we just trying to keep our heads above the cultural tide of the world around us? It doesn’t seem like we’re making a lot of progress at present.

Are we penetrating and transforming the culture, or just keeping our heads above the cultural tide around us?

I came to faith during the Jesus People Movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s. Yeah, I’m old. I remember how much impact the movement had on the culture of that era. It was enough to make the cover of Time magazine. It was a phenomenal time.

But that was then, and this is now. Something is missing, even with all that we have.

What’s missing?

I have my own thoughts on what is missing, but how about you? I’d like to hear from you on this subject.

I’d like to ask some questions to get the discussion going, are you game for that? If so, I’ll do it the way I’d ask my students in class.

First of all, I want you to answer in your own words (IYOW), not Christianese. Second, don’t just quote Bible verses or give pat answers, do your own thinking and reflection on these questions. And third, give answers based on your own life experience, this will make it less theoretical and more practical.

Questions

Why do you think people saw Jesus had greater authority than the Jewish leaders in His teaching?

When has your heart been stirred by the truth? What were the circumstances?

If someone was teaching, what do you remember about how they presented their message?

What do you think is important for effective and authoritative teaching?

Remember… no Christianese and no pat answers!

 

Next week I’ll do a follow-up post with observations I’ve made of how Jesus taught. Hope to hear from you!


 

trip_0Trip disciples and mentors in several small groups in Jacksonville and beyond. He travels within the US and overseas to teach and train leaders whenever possible.Trip has written a book, training materials, and Bible studies for leaders and missions. He posts 3 times a week– an article, short devo, and simple Bible study at Word-Strong.com

What We Believe About an Attitude of Grace

What We Believe About an Attitude of Grace

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page 

There is a tension as local churches try to effectively carry out the mandate to see people restored in their relationship with God. There are some local churches that seem very harsh, inflexible, legalistic, and create apparent roadblocks to repentance and restoration that go beyond the Scriptures. On the other hand, there are some local churches that seem to be very loving but are liberal and lack standards so that restoration is offered without a clear biblical understanding of prerequisites. We want to balance the tension by being a church that manifests an attitude of grace. All our doctrinal orthodoxy and understanding of Scriptures are of no value without love [1Cor. 13:1-8]. If we love one another as Jesus loves then the world will know that we are His disciples [Jn. 13:34-35]. Biblical grace manifests Christ’s love as follows:

If we love one another as Jesus loves then the world will know that we are His disciples.

1. Compassion without compromise: Grace is more than politeness or some nebulous emotion. Grace relates to an attitude of unmerited favor that flows from recognition of God’s grace towards us as sinners. Compassion without compromise requires you to avoid legalism and liberalism. This is the example of Jesus to the woman caught in adultery, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” [Jn. 8:11]; and Peter’s restoration following his denial of Jesus [Jn. 21:15-17]. It is also the attitude we are to show one another in light of God’s forgiveness of us [Eph. 4:32]. Compassion and grace help to reduce hypocrisy and create authenticity, as people will be less afraid to receive restoration.

Compassion and grace help to reduce hypocrisy and create authenticity, as people will be less afraid to receive restoration.

2. Restore with a spirit of gentleness: We are to restore others with a spirit of gentleness and humility [Gal. 6:1-3]. The whole message of Scripture from Genesis 3 to Revelation is God’s desire to restore fellowship between God and man. Minister grace by creating an environment where people know that God accepts them in Christ. Once they yield to God in Christ they need to seek to apply the truth of Christ to their lives. Apply the truth as a soothing balm, not an explosive bomb. In seeking to be gracious don’t compromise the integrity of the Word or you’ll bring reproach to Jesus.

Imagine Jesus washing the disciples feet [Jn. 13]. They had engaged in ceremonial baths in Jerusalem to prepare for the Passover but walked in open sandals on dirt roads to the Upper Room. The water was not too hot or cold and Jesus did not rub their feet so hard that He began to remove skin or so soft that He left dirt on their feet. The right amount of heat and pressure for the situation is our goal.

3. Church discipline and grace: Our God is the God of second chances [and sometimes third, fourth, etc.]. Jesus admonished Peter that extensive grace and forgiveness was available so that relationship with God and others could be restored. The rabbinical view of Jesus’ day was to forgive up to three times. Peter thought he was being gracious when he suggested forgiving up to seven times, however Jesus urged seventy times seven. He wasn’t setting a numerical limit of 490 but rather implies don’t bother counting. If someone repents let them be restored into fellowship [Matt. 18:21-22].

a. Grace is balanced by discipline and the need for repentance [Mt. 18:15-18]. If someone refuses to repent of their sin after being confronted by the one they have sinned against and other witnesses then you’ll need to consider informing the church especially if the sin is threatening to the spiritual health of the whole. The ultimate sanction of excommunication or removal from the church [Mt. 18:15-18, 1Cor. 5:1-8] should never be used capriciously and should be used judiciously. Removing someone from the church implies that as a pastor in a position of spiritual authority you are asking God to withdraw His protection from that person until they repent.

b. Grace and restoration of authority: When someone is removed from a position of authority because of moral failure the issue arises as to when and if the one disqualified can be restored. Preliminarily, don’t remove someone without evidence to support the charges, and don’t assume someone is either guilty or innocent without considering the evidence – be impartial [1Tim. 5:19-21]. Once someone is removed, the Bible gives no clear time limit re restoration [any guidelines suggesting 6 months, one year, 2 years or never is man-made and suspect at best]. Paul urges us not to lay hands suddenly [1Tim. 5:22]. In context it appears that the passage deals with restoring authority more than the initial conferring of authority.

I believe the best guideline is uttered by John the Baptist, “therefore bear fruit worthy of repentance” [Mt. 3:8]. In essence, you need to wait long enough to ensure that genuine repentance has taken place as evidenced by the fruit of their life. At some point, you’ll need to make a decision regarding timing and I suggest you err on the side of grace. Certainly, there will be times that you’ll discover that you were wrong but generally you can’t “go wrong” in seeking to be gracious.

c. Grace and boundaries: Grace doesn’t mean an absence of boundaries. Reasonable boundaries are essential to the Christian life and a healthy church. For example, if someone was convicted for a sex crime against a minor it is likely reasonable that they can serve in the church but not with children or youth. Furthermore, the greater the person’s influence the greater the need for caution. Thus, a lead pastor who has committed adultery likely needs to be proven while serving under the authority of others for an extended period.


 

Pastor at Calvary Nexus, Camarillo, CA. Bruce has been an ordained pastor for over 20 years. Bruce planted Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, Ca. in 1996 and continues to serve as the lead pastor of a multi-site church. Bruce is the author of 12 books. He has previously been a trial attorney, and helps direct the Calvary Church Planting Network [CCPN].

The Purpose of Worship – Part 4

The Purpose of Worship – Part 4

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page 

Site

The woman at the well was curious about the location where God’s people were to worship:

John 4:20

“Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”

Jesus’ response shows that fruitful worship is not limited to a particular site. Jesus explains that the key is that we worship in spirit and in truth, not whether we are at Jerusalem or Mount Gerizim.

We can associate worship with a particular location. Perhaps we associate worship with being by a mountain, a lake, the ocean, or a stream running through the middle of the forest. Perhaps we associate worship with a particular church building. Perhaps we associate worship with a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by a particular site to worship. The problem is when it is difficult to worship God when we are away from that site. Fruitful worship is not limited to a particular site, because God is everywhere.

We need to consider whether we are more focused on the God we worship or the place of worship. We need to be more impressed by the God we worship than the building we worship in. When our fellowship began we met in a shopping center. There were many people who struggled with the idea of church in a shopping center. They enjoyed the worship music, the teaching, and the children’s ministry, but they could not worship in a retail center. As we built our new building, people would come in and say, “I can’t wait for the new building so that I can come and worship with you.” They would not come and worship until there was “a proper” church building. Although I certainly understand their difficulty, it clearly is less than an ideal situation.

We can easily focus on the site of worship rather than whom we worship. I remember as a young pastor when I was experiencing a particularly difficult time that I would want to go back to worship at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa and hear Pastor Chuck teach. Yet, I needed to learn to focus on God, and not my pastor or any place of worship. It is imperative that we learn to focus on God, and not the site of worship. Here, I want to consider whether I am more focused on God or the site.

Sin

Jesus also helped the woman to see that sin in her life was keeping her from becoming a fruitful worshipper.

John 4:16-18

“Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here.’ The woman answered and said, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You have well said, “I have no husband,” for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.’”

Jesus gently exposed the fact that the woman was living with a man outside of the marriage relationship. When Jesus called the disciples, He met them exactly where they were at. As fisherman, He encouraged them that He would make them “fishers of men.” Jesus approached the Samaritan woman at the well about the “living water.” Apparently, this woman already knew how to be a fisher of men as she had been married five times and the man she was now living with was not her husband.

We can never truly worship God until we are ready to turn from our sin and receive God’s forgiveness. Jesus exposed her sin to encourage her to turn from her ways, and to turn to God’s ways.

For example, consider a couple that is living together outside of the marriage relationship. They come to church on Sundays, sing worship songs, and want God to bless their relationship. Nevertheless, we can’t truly worship God when we are living in rebellion to God’s express desire for our lives. God has made it abundantly clear that if we are not married then we can’t “play house.” Fruitful worship requires us to deal with the sin issue, and turn from our ways, and turn to His ways.

Here, we want to consider patterns of behavior or attitudes which reveal an element in our lifestyles that is contrary to God. We need to appreciate that it inhibits our ability to be a fruitful worshipper. Once we do that we need to come to Jesus and ask Him to help us to turn from those things and turn to Him.

In summary, we all have a thirst that can only be satisfied when we worship God. It is comforting to know that God isseeking us to worship Him. Our worship must be prompted by the Spirit, and must be sincere. Worship of God does not depend on a particular site, but merely focusing on Him. Finally, we must be willing to turn from sin, and turn to God. This is what is required in worship.


 

Pastor at Calvary Nexus, Camarillo, CA. Bruce has been an ordained pastor for over 20 years. Bruce planted Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, Ca. in 1996 and continues to serve as the lead pastor of a multi-site church. Bruce is the author of 12 books. He has previously been a trial attorney, and helps direct the Calvary Church Planting Network [CCPN].

Ministry For The Long Haul

Ministry For The Long Haul

By Travis Sinks

To minister to someone literally means to “attend to the needs of [a person]”. It’s not an office held by the few, but rather a call for Christian’s everywhere to serve and love as Jesus has loved us.

 

Sometimes we get a glorified version of what being a “minister of the Gospel” really is. We can imagine it as having great status or power. Or we can imagine getting a great response from people: that they’ll change tomorrow, turn over a new leaf, follow God with all their heart and never turn back.

 

BUT THIS IS OFTEN NOT HOW IT WORKS.

 

Instead, it’s a process. There’s a timetable of events in God’s plan and allowance, that doesn’t match up with ours. We desire to see outward change TODAY, while God desires change in people from the INSIDE out – which usually takes time. God’s time table works as those we minister to continue to grow, oftentimes slowly, and with set-backs along the way. But eventually we look back and see a great distance of change.

 

We are called to “ministry” not to a “change factory”. We are called to love people like Jesus did and to offer them the life giving power of His Gospel and Spirit, but it’s up to them to accept it. That acceptance is usually built up over time.

 

We can get discouraged when we haven’t seen someone for 6 months and wonder where they are. We can sometimes get even more discouraged when we see them again, because we wonder if they’ll actually stay this time. We can get discouraged as we wonder if God will ever truly change their heart and bring them into a steady relationship with Himself. But this isn’t our position of authority or responsibility. We are called to love, not to save. Only Jesus is Savior, and it’s best for us to remember this.

 

People will come and go in our lives, for good and bad reasons, but know that your job, as a Christian, is simple: “attend to the needs of… whoever.

 

WHOEVER IS AROUND.

WHOEVER GOD BRINGS.

WHOEVER CROSSES YOUR PATH.

 

We have a holy calling as Christians to love everyone we can with the love God has given us: regardless of how they respond, and regardless of where they end up.

 

So let us not forget, lest we give up: We are in this for the long haul.


This article was originally posted on the Redemption Church Blog. You can view the original article here. Travis is the assistant pastor of Redemption Church Delray Beach in Delray Beach, Florida. You can read more from Travis on his blog at travissinks.com.

Three Ways Millennial Leaders can be an Example

Three Ways Millennial Leaders can be an Example

By Bruce Zachary

This post is shared from the VELO Church Leaders Page 

Millennial leaders can be a stellar example to existing, emerging, and prospective leaders. I thank God that I get to serve at a church with an abundance of healthy next generation spiritual leaders. Spiritually healthy next generation leaders are a catalyst to create a healthy leadership development culture. What example should a young leader give? In Paul’s letter to Timothy, a next generation leader, we discover three ways millennial leaders can be a healthy example as spiritual leaders: character, calling, and commitment.

 “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.15 Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. 16 Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you [1Tim. 4:12-16].”

  1. Character [12-13]: Older people, and your peers, will not despise your youth if you live beyond your years and beyond reproach. See that they look up to you rather than down at you by being a pattern or an example to other believers. You can silence criticism by your character. When Plato, the great Greek philosopher, was accused of dishonorable conduct he replied, “We must live our lives in such a way that all will see that the charge is false.” The great evangelist, D.L. Moody observed, “If I care for my character, my reputation will take care of itself.”

There are six [6] specific areas of character that provide a helpful list:

  1. In word: your speech should reflect a tongue controlled by God.
  2. In conduct: walk the talk. Live a life characterized by spiritual growth.
  3. In love: by your love all will know that you are His disciple [Jn. 13:35].
  4. In spirit: excitement and zeal for Christ and His kingdom.
  5. In faith: a life characterized by confident trust in God and loyalty to Him.
  6. In purity: honesty, self-control, and chastity set against immorality of the world.
  1. Calling [13]: you will always be called to be a follower of Jesus and His ambassador. In different seasons you will serve in various areas of ministry in or alongside a local church. In a sense these areas may represent your calling in a particular season. Some will ultimately be called to the role of pastor and teacher. The best way to fulfill your calling, in every season, is to devote yourself to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Know the Scriptures and continue to read and discover more of Jesus in the Bible. Share with others what you are discovering. Apply the word to your life and encourage others to do the same with grace, humility, and respect. Make the effort to learn doctrine. You are called to be radically biblical! Right doctrine leads to right thinking, right choices, and right life.

Next generation spiritual leaders, like the next generation generally, want to radically change their world and this is a noble and good cause. Social justice matters such as caring for the poor, the widow, and the orphan are important to God and should be important to His people. Nevertheless, don’t neglect to anchor your calling in a solid foundation of doctrine. It will take effort to learn the word and sound doctrine. Be a diligent worker who can rightly divide the word of God. It will require you to do more than simply read the Bible to develop a healthy understanding of doctrine or systematic theology. Identify a mentor(s), utilize resources (books on doctrine and systematic theology, commentaries, Bible College, School of Ministry, etc), and become a mentor to others sharing what you’ve discovered.

3. Commitment [14-16]: Spiritual leaders have been set-apart for a special purpose, and must commit to three key concepts.

a. Charisma [14]: Do not neglect the gift [charisma] that is in you. God has given you a spiritual gift(s), a desire to advance God’s kingdom, and the ability to influence others for Christ. Commit to walk in your gift(s) despite the resistance from those you influence, opposition from the enemy, and the attraction of the material world

b. Consume [15]: Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. The Hebrew idea of meditating, that was likely Paul’s reference, has the idea of contemplating night and day [Josh. 1:8]. The essence of the charge is to be consumed with God’s business. The work of advancing God’s kingdom is a balance between inspiration and perspiration. The idea of your progress may be evident to all is literally to cut forward or blaze the way. Next Gen leaders who are consumed with Christ and the work of God will be trailblazers. Their spiritual growth will be evident to those who undoubtedly will follow.

c. Careful [16]: Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Sound doctrine and a godly life will lead others to Christ. Remember to care for your own spiritual condition so that you can care for others. As you accept the call as a next generation leader, be encouraged that Christ will work through you and your generation and bring salvation to many.

Lifework:

  1. As a next generation leader, how have you grown this year in regard to character, calling, and commitment?
  1. How would you like to grow this year in regard to character, calling, and commitment?
  1. As one who is developing next generation leaders, how can you affirm them about their example?

 

Pastor at Calvary Nexus, Camarillo, CA. Bruce has been an ordained pastor for over 20 years. Bruce planted Calvary Nexus in Camarillo, Ca. in 1996 and continues to serve as the lead pastor of a multi-site church. Bruce is the author of 12 books. He has previously been a trial attorney, and helps direct the Calvary Church Planting Network [CCPN].

Expect The Mess – Part 1

Expect The Mess – Part 1

Ministering To Broken People

By Daniel Williams

When you are a part of a church plant, having the right expectations is one of the most helpful things when it comes to overcoming discouragement and maintaining a right perspective. There is nothing so sad as seeing someone who starts out excited to go and preach the gospel give up because it was more difficult than they expected.

I don’t think anyone thinks starting a church will be easy, but sometimes we can be caught off guard by exactly why it is so hard. Jesus tell us we are to count the costs and follow Him. I believe that as we have a heart to reach nonbelievers and unchurched people in our communities, we need to also consider the mess that will bring.

What do I mean by that? Ministry is messy!

 

I want to share something with you that I have come to expect when ministering to those that aren’t following Jesus yet…they act that way! I have come to a place where this doesn’t surprise me and I am not offended by it. I have seen first hand in my own life that the only way to overcome this is to be changed from the inside out through a personal revelation of who Jesus is and then accepting His grace by faith.

This is what Jesus means when He talks about being spiritually born again (John 3:3-8). I was spiritually dead before I accepted God’s grace and lost in sin (Eph 2:1-5) and so is everyone who has yet put their faith in Jesus. Paul would even tell people that if they think Jesus Christ didn’t rise from the dead, they should be sinning as much as possible because this is the only life they have! (1 Cor 15:13-19). So I have come to expect people to live what they truly believe. And for those that don’t believe in Jesus as Lord, I expect them to be living in sin. The Bible teaches us that sin brings death. And that death is messy.

 

I have to remember that the mess of ministry is actually an answer to many of our prayers. We prayed for many people to get saved and find life in Jesus Christ. And God has sent us to preach the gospel to people so they would have hope. I have had to understand that we are called to love people right where they are, and they don’t need to clean up their lives before they come to Jesus. God sends us into the brokenness, hurt, pain, and mess of people’s lives to shine the light of Jesus into their darkness. The Bible warns us that if we are to make disciples, this will take work and things won’t always be neat and tidy like we tend to like.

 

Prov 14:4 “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.”

 

The more you serve people that are far from God, the more you will start to see that if you want to see life change around you, you are going to have to work in the messiness of people’s lives. Remember we are to love people, and that love makes a real difference in people’s lives. It was the real love of God that changed our lives when we were still in our mess of sin.

The Bible tells us that Jesus died for us while we were still enemies of God, and because of that great love we are now able to know Him. God wants us to be His ambassadors not only with our words but our deeds as well. We have been given a true love that the world doesn’t offer. We have the great chance to love people right in their mess of sin just as Jesus loved us.

 

This is the answer for true life change. PREACHING THE GOSPEL! Paul believed this was the very power to save, so he needed to be preaching all the time! I have taken this to heart and have seen God work in people’s lives in ways I never could dream of on my own. This is one of the main reasons we have communion every week at our church.  This allows me to explain the Gospel and the implications of it every week. I believe if we can’t point people to Jesus through His Word every time we meet, we have failed.

 

Jesus said that all scripture points to Him, so it should be very easy for us to use Scripture to bring people to Jesus and His heart. It is the only hope that truly satisfies and we need to be preaching Jesus every week as we gather as His bride. Not only is this good for our hearts as children of God, but for those that are far from God because they see it is only God’s grace that can truly change their lives. This is why we highly prioritize preaching the gospel: because only Jesus has the power to save!

 

So, over time, I have come expect and the messiness and the difficulty that comes from pouring our lives into the lost and broken. And also to see that the only answer is always going to be Jesus. I hope you can join me in learning to embrace this beautiful of this side of ministry.

 

In part 2 of this article, I will address 3 very practical ways I have found to love people through the messiness of life and reaching those far from God.

 

BE BLESSED,

PASTOR DANIEL


This article was originally posted on the Redemption Church Blog. You can view the original article here. Daniel is the lead pastor of Redemption Church Delray Beach in Delray Beach, Florida where he lives with his wife, Laura, and their two children.