Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Bible in the life of the church

This is a great article from Jonathan Leeman. Click here.

Essentially, it is a distillation of his excellent little book called Reverberation. This is an extremely helpful book that addresses what the Bible actually does in the life of a church, that is, when the people make room for it. In other words, the church must let the Spirit of God use the word he has sovereignly inspired. Here's a taste of the article:

For starters, God’s Word creates the church, not detached Christians. It creates a group of believers who are covenantally united in one Lord, faith, baptism, and remission of sins. “So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls” (Acts 2:38414:46:7). God’s Word actually creates local churches. It unites you and me to other Christians, and the local church is the place on planet earth where we demonstrate and practice our Word-created unity.
You will find, therefore, that Bible understanding and Bible living work best in the context of church membership. Here are seven reasons our growth should be centered on listening to God’s Word in the context of the local church:

Read the seven reasons--and the rest of the article--here.

HT: Kevin McKay, Grace Harbor Church

Monday, July 29, 2013

What motivates evangelism?

When you read through one of the four gospel accounts (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), you get to see God at work. Jesus heals, and you remember that God is immensely powerful. Jesus casts out demons, and you marvel at God's supremacy in the spiritual realm. Jesus feeds multitudes, and you perceive that God satisfies the soul infinitely more than one meal satisfies the body.

Jesus--God-in-the-flesh--steps into a scene in the gospels and draws your attention clearly unto the greatness and glory of the Triune God.

I wonder if our hesitancy in evangelism, for example, is in part caused by our failure to truly marvel at the glory of God, seen in the face of Jesus. It seems to me that if I will be more and more captivated by the Savior, then the inevitable result will be my inability to contain the amazement. The greatness of God! Spilling over into every conversation--live or electronic.

So instead of spurring on evangelism with the heavy burden of guilt, we fill our hearts with fascination at the person of Jesus--his mercy, love, power, and greatness. Not: "Evangelize more!" But rather, "Be amazed by Jesus! Evangelism and love and mercy and worship will follow."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Bowled over by Jesus

I keep getting bowled over with the person of Christ.  It seems that no matter how many times I read about him healing someone, casting out a demon, or even raising a young girl from the dead, I just cannot help but be blown away by Jesus. His mercy is wondrous. His compassion is deep. And he’s got the power and authority to back it up. When we look at him and what he did while on earth, we witness the very presence of Almighty God.

Truly, he does all things well (Mark 7:37).

He is our Beautiful Savior.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Those Poor Pigs! Jesus and the Gerasene Demoniac

Last Sunday's sermon included the narrative of Jesus's incredible display of authority over demons as he cast out Legion in Mark 5.

In my study of the passage, I was faced with having to think through a moral dilemma that has always concerned me. The destruction of 2000 pigs has always seemed to me to be a huge waste of both living animals (those poor piggies!), and of economic assets. Well, as I related in my sermon (listen to the audio here) I discovered that my question has always been wrong-headed. While there may be some usefulness in discussing the various questions related to this economic loss, the reality is that such questions miss the mark.

First, such questions fail to exalt the stunning authority of the man Christ Jesus, which is truly the focus of the narrative anyway.

Second, they fail to praise the merciful God who would love a person enough to free him from the demonic slavery in which he had existed for some time. He lived in torment! He lived in anguish! He was known for going about, crying out and cutting himself with stones. As I realized this, I was convicted of my lack of love and concern for others. Clearly, I still have a long way to go in learning how to love like Jesus. I'm thankful that he is merciful to me, too, and that he has given me his Holy Spirit to empower me to do just that: love like Jesus.

One more thing. In the sermon I quoted a lengthy section from Robert Stein's excellent commentary on Mark, which I've reproduced below:
“Questions of morality are often raised with respect to this exorcism. Does Jesus show indifference to the property value of the swine owners in this exorcism? Can the blame for this economic loss simply be shifted to the demons, or is Jesus in some way responsible for what happened? It may be helpful to think of how Mark’s readers would have responded to the story. Would they have focused on the ‘crash of the stock market,’ or would they rather have thought more in line with such teachings of Jesus as, ‘For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and the gospel will save it. For what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and to suffer the loss of his life?’…Such a concern would far outweigh the issue of the economic value of the swine. A man had been saved from demonic slavery. The economic value of the swine pales in comparison.” (256-257, emphasis added).

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Review of The Trellis and the Vine on 9 Marks Website

I recently penned a review of the excellent book The Trellis and the Vine by Colin Marshall and Tony Payne. It's an indispensable book for pastors and church leaders. I wrote the review for 9 Marks Ministries, and it was just published on their website a few days ago. 9 Marks is an excellent ministry--helping churches reflect the character of God. Don't you want that for your church? I'd encourage you to donate to their good work on their website. It's easy to do and only takes a minute.