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Posts Tagged ‘gospel’

hospital-scutari

“To arms! To arms! The Christians are attacking!” Prince Valiant (?)

“The Church is not the Church unless it is the Church militant”. R.C. Sproul

 

It is easy to understand that the Church is an institution ordained and formed by Christ to invade the realm of hell, extinguishing it from the earth. Our Lord himself says that the “gates of hell shall not prevail” against us. Paul concludes his letter to the Ephesians, after he has expressed the power and benefits of Christ given to all who have been delivered through his exodus from death and sin, with an appeal to put on the whole armor of God, Ephesians 6. The Church is indeed an army and all who are called by Christ have been commissioned into its service. The vocational callings of the Church such as pastors and teachers are ordained for the dedicated job of equipping the saints for the battle, the labor of the ministry, Ephesians 4. It is important to express that the battle we fight is not with guns and smart bombs, but with the power of the message that Jesus is the victorious King of the nations. In our fight we are ordered to “overcome evil with good”, and to “love our enemies”.

I have heard it said by many, I do not know by who originally, that the Church is the only army that shoots its own soldiers. This is a sad reality. I myself have seen this done. The Church is not only an institution called for battle, it is also a community formed for service and renewal. I would actually go so far as to suggest that the Church cannot succeed in the battle if it does not also fully embrace its calling to be a hospital, caring for the wounded and broken, regardless of who they are or how they got there. The same Apostle who calls us to gird our loins for the battle also calls us to be a people that gently and humbly restore our fallen brethren, Galatians 6.

The ability to fight the good fight, while caring for the wounded is a mark of maturity and wisdom according to the New testament. Jesus was a master of this. Dispelling evil and humiliating it, while restoring the woman caught in adultery so that she would “sin no more”.

So is the Church an Army or a hospital? According to Scripture it is both, and this is part of its practical strength. May we who are called to serve the Kingdom of God, fight the good fight as we serve and renew our world.

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bauchman tullian

Recently Pastor Tullian Tchividjian was on MSNBC’s program Morning Joe. The Grandson of Billy Graham expressed that politics should not be discussed or addressed from the Pulpit. He does say that his job on Sunday mornings is to “diagnose peoples problems and announce God’s solution to those problems”, unless of course those problems are political. What if a major problem is political? What of the legal politically sanctioned murder of millions of unborn every year? What if a young mother is hearing him and her struggle and “problem” is that she is with child and is terrified not knowing where to go? Would she never hear from his pulpit that God in his Law prohibits the killing of children and that he has a loving and wise solution for her? What of human trafficking? Systemic racism? Mass poverty and hunger? God’s word speaks much on these things, but they are political so we should not preach on them in Sunday mornings? I think that is a weak and ridiculous understanding of Church and State as well as unbiblical.

The Gospel is the announcement of the Kingdom of God coming into the world, Matthew 3:1&2. It is for the obedience of the nations, Romans 1:5. The Kingdom of Christ is an everlasting dominion which will never end, Daniel 7:14. All things belong to God, and he in his authority has given his way regarding all of life, including the governing and legislating of societies. Indeed, the Reformed confessional view of God’s word for human authoritative structures is that God has ordained them into three authorities each with their own ministries and administrations, the family, the Church and the State. All three are to be in submission to God’s Law and all three are to hold one another accountable.

Historically the sermon has been a cultural hot spot. A point where culture is engaged with a met with the very One who is Lord over the nations and all cultures. God’s word is the standard and authority for the State as much as it is for the Church and family. When the State is wicked and in rebellion against Gods word, we are to call them to repentance and back to obedience. Evert Prophet of Israel called the King to repent, the Apostles and early Church stood before magistrates and governors and boldly proclaimed that there was a King and a Kingdom greater than Rome. To say that Jesus is Lord is to claim that Caesar is not. Pastor Tchividjian has a huge problem, for he is preaching a Gospel that he believes is not relevant for the governing and policy of the State, a Gospel that is the announcement of a Kingdom.

In contrast, I am encouraged by Pastor Voddie Bauchman’s brief address on the Pastors duty to politics from the Pulpit. The Pastor is much like the prophets of old, being the conscience and “thermometer” of the culture. I echo his call to the Church to encourage our pastors to be what they have been called to be. We need fear nothing or anyone but God. And the fear of the Lord is a joy and strength. If we the Church, who are “uniquely qualified” to answer the culture, do not speak from the pulpit the whole of the Counsel of God, how will our society know how to do politics? How will they find the answers if not from the Community that has been given the Spirit and Word of God?

See Pastors Tchividjian and Bauchman’s interviews in the links below.

Pastor Voddie Bauchman-   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rqx3aDSY_JA

Pastor Tullian Tchividjian- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZHzTL-KKvoo

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pulpitLiving out a limited Gospel is practical atheism. The Enlightenment thinkers set in place rules prohibiting the Christian worldview from being expressed or having any say in culture and the public square. Relegating the gospel to the realm of “private religious experience” it has been effectively silenced. Finally after years and generations of struggle by the Christian Church to see a Gospel movement in America, the state of our society indicates a grim reality, we have given up. Not that we have given up “believing in Jesus” or our hope in heaven, an afterlife that promises a longed for escape and reprieve from the pains and miseries of this world. We have given up good sound doctrine concerning what the Gospel is and what it encompasses. We live as if the Gospel is primarily about our plight and condition. To us, the Gospel is about us, and what we do with it in secret is noble, worthy and good enough. We pick some causes that we deem as a violation of Gods Laws and fight fervently while ignoring other violations, agreeing with the Secularism that has boxed us in, “something is better than nothing”.

Today is a day to come back to right doctrine. God’s perfect standard expressed in his Law and his justice and power demonstrated through the victory of his unique Son whom he has established as King of the nations requires us to change. Indeed the Gospel is not a message of how to obtain a ticket to heaven, as though heaven was a realm way out in space completely distinct from us and the only way we will get there is through our deaths. The Gospel is the message that Jesus is King and that his Kingdom is here. Heaven has come to this broken world, and we are to pray “thy will be done” because the death and resurrection of Jesus is the means through which he has defeated all powers, both earthly and spiritual.

This Gospel is more than a philosophical idea to be discussed at a distance by scholars in lofty towers, it is more than a private joy to be kept secret, locked away in church buildings. It is the message of power that brings “the lofty down from their thrones”, Luke 1:51. It gets results instead of just wishing things would change. The Kingdom of God calls the people of God to action, and it calls us to hold this message dear as our explanatory framework. The Gospel is hope and a solution for all that pains this place. There is not one area of life and existence that does not find itself well within the reign of Christ. Our social ills even systemic racism, worldwide hunger, poverty, violence and all other evils can never be solved and eradicated through secularism. The Enlightenment has lied to us all. Human reason is itself inconsistent and flawed, we cannot reason our way out of the cave. After hundreds of years, the Age of Reason has proven to be the Dark Ages. Its time for the Spirit filled people of God to let their light shine.

When we live a limited Gospel that is about us and our plight, the result is a society that does not know the Gospel. This type of Gospel religion looks the exact same as Atheism in a practical sense. May we cease living as Atheism would have us live, as if the reign of Jesus is a figurative or imaginary one. He is King active in his rule now. He has brought the world as we knew it to an end. The New Age of God’s salvation has come. May we be people who live in this new age, living out the full Gospel, heralding the Great King who’s Kingdom will know no end.

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“You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers…”

Deuteronomy 10:19

About an hours’ drive from my Church in Dunedin Fl is a little town called, Wimauma. There is a community of migrant farmworkers there made up mostly of families who must pick and harvest to survive. They live below the poverty level, most are not legal aliens, have no health insurance and are over charged for rent by their land lords. They are hard working and seeking a better life for them and their families, one they believe cannot be had in their own countries. Beth-El is a mission there dedicated to serving the needs and families of the migrant farmworker. They provide food and clothing for the families, health, and legal advice, education for the children and an adult high school. In addition to all these services, Beth-El provides a message of hope through the Gospel of Jesus. There is a congregation that meets there for worship and fellowship; like Koinonia Farm before them, Beth-El is a real and living “demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God”.

Beth-El has helped me to see a real need in our culture to obey the Law of God in regards to the stranger in our land, the alien or immigrant. Exodus and Deuteronomy record God’s vision for strangers. He loves them and desires to include them in his people and to show them that they are humans and therefore created in his image and have his special attention. He charges his people to love them as he does and to care for them as their own family, for indeed we are all one under God. Israel is also given another motivation for seeing the immigrant as one they love; Israel was once a people of immigrants and strangers in Egypt. Indeed, Israel’s beginnings under Abraham were as a nomadic tribe. Wherever they went they were strangers and passers through.

If there is anything we have in common as a nation with ancient Israel it is that we too are a nation of immigrants and aliens. My great, great grandmother was a member of the Blackfoot tribe and I have ancestors from Ireland and England, how can I look down at an immigrant from Mexico or Guatemala without looking down also at my ancestors? And not to mention how can I treat the immigrant with prejudice and injustice and say I love God and his law? I wonder can these same questions be posed by our nation as a whole? We all have ancestors that had to come through Ellis Island in order to give us citizenship in this great nation. Do we actually believe that we as Americans can afford to shun the stranger?

Another point I would like to draw from the example of Israel is that like her we are all born in exile. An angle with a flaming sword guarding the entrance to the Garden of Eden signifies our desolate state as a species. We were created to reflect God’s image of beauty and justice to the world and each other, to live forever with our great God as his children and stewards. We are however not permitted into the Garden ever again. We wander aimlessly through existence without purpose, without our humanity. Is it any wonder that when we are awakened by his grace that we experience such fullness in our lives never before present? It is the victory and provision of Jesus that opens up the Garden once again, in him we return home to our God and to our humanity. Our salvation is therefore dependent on God’s kindness to us as strangers. We cannot know him unless he discloses himself. We remain a stranger until he reaches down and adopts us into his kingdom. I believe then it is the duty of those given grace to inspire our nation of immigrants to a greater compassion for the strangers in their land. To love God is to love our neighbor, whether they are across our street or across our borders.

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“The merriness of Christmas is not dependent on whether we are ready to receive it or not, Christmas is merry because the Rod of Jesse is here.” Once again I would encourage all to follow Pastor Uri Brito’s blog. Always from a sincere Pastor’s heart who is even more so a disciple of Jesus. This time of year is a very hard time for many, especially for those who have lost love ones. In these times, Death seems to regain the power that was thought lost . Uri reminds us that the Incarnation assures us that it has not.

How can Christmas be merry when I am grieving?

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Embracing An Imperfect Jesus

Mr. Hanna makes some great points here on his blog site, ‘Of Dust and Kings’, “In the Christian paradigm, perfection is defined by love.” Grace and Peace

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This is a great video from The Work of the People on women in the church and culture.

Resurrected Identity

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