Inclusivity May end up being Exclusive

Jesus is considered by scholars such as Weber ...

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The church practices and supports the work of evangelism to reconcile people to God through Jesus.  In the past several decades growth movements have done much to focus the church on evangelism.  Many churches have restructured their weekly services to focus on those that have not accepted Christ.  Many organizations have also put effort into reviewing language, presentations and their image to find ways to avoid placing stumbling blocks in front of those that haven’t accepted Christ.  It is a good idea to identify what might constitute a stumbling block and remove them (1 Cor 14:16) because the Church is not to be of the World but it is still in the world and is called to communicate to those in the World.  This scope has been extended by many to include looking for ways to build bridges to various groups.  Many times these methods attempt to identify doctrines and understandings of the bible that may be thought of as non-essential and that are objectionable to the world and then either down play, repackage, obscure, or list as one of several alternatives interpretations.  All this to hopefully bring the world to the realization that “God gave us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ”.  But, what does it mean “God gave us salvation through his Son”.   I believe this entails a submission or yielding to Christ as Lord not just an acceptance of Him as savior.

Romans 10:9-10
9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Keeping this in mind; as we attempt to build bridges how do we decide what is essential and what isn’t?  This goes beyond the question of what we present as being essential but within the church itself what we believe and teach as truth.   Scripture tells us to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10)  but how sure are we if we keep questioning what scripture says or keep saying its unclear?  This is why I feel the church has to take a stronger stance on biblical creationism along with other issues and not back down for fear that it might turn some people off.  If the creation story were merely a story of beginnings and men’s rejection of God occurred later then it wouldn’t be of such concern.  But the fall which is pivotal to the need for the Cross takes place in the story of creation.  Coming to unbelievers while we have the fall of man now placed on the shaky uncertain ground of the allegorical leaves us with a calling which becomes shaky.   If faith is our certainty but we say we are uncertain about how it all began and yes God has a story but we think God’s version of the beginning might be inaccurate then what else in scripture is inaccurate?  Are we yielded to Christ if we keep looking for ways to deal with what we find objectionable in scripture?

The other aspect of accepting Christ as Lord and making our election sure is that we shouldn’t just assume that a confession of faith means a person is saved.  The growth movements focuses on getting people in and believes that once we get their signature, their buy in we don’t have much to worry about, if they are in they are in, once saved always saved.  But what is interesting is that Matthew 7 it says “Enter through the narrow gate; for the way is wide that leads to destruction..”  Many assume that Jesus is talking to the world but in the context v21 it says “Not everyone who says to Me, “Lord Lord” will enter the kingdom..”  So this passages is talking to the church.  Of those who accept Christ and are part of the Church few of those will enter the kingdom.  Our evangelism and methods in the church of just getting people in is too small and eventually may leave many out because we didn’t want to ruffle feathers by standing upon the Word and having faith inexorably in the Word and what the Word says and holding those in the church to believing the Word.  The church should consider this as it structures itself or it will risk too much.
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Myth 1 – The Bible is Boring

 

Rich Mullins

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As I progress in my study of how to study the Bible I have run across many great insights.  One insight in particular I feel is so powerful that I just have to share it now.  Many people hold to some misconceptions about the Bible.  Though many might not admit it there are quite a few people that in a certain sense relate to this sentiment.  This sentiment, simply stated, is that the Bible is boring.   As R C Sproul puts it he has been asked on many occasions to make the bible come alive to which he responds “I didn’t know that it had died!”

The Bible is full of characters that are full of life.  In the biography of Rich Mullins, An Arrow Pointing to Heaven, James Bryan Smith records in the chapter entitled “Creed” some words written by Rich.

“The bible is not a book for the faint of heart – it is a book full of all the greed and glory and violence and tenderness and sex and betrayal that befits mankind.  It is not a collection of pretty anecdotes mouthed by pious little church mice. – It does not so much as nibble at our shoe leather as it cuts to the heart and splits the marrow from the bone.  It does not give us answers fitted to our small minded questions, but truth that goes beyond what we even know to ask” – Rich Mullins
Just turn this over in you mind for a while, you may not be able to look at scripture the same way.
The Bible is Boring
Make the bible come alive; I didn’t know that it had died Sproul
Biblical Characters are full of life

Come in His Name!

John 5:43-44
43 I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. 44 How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God?

Acts 4:12
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

The World may find it easier to accept another name or another identity or a partial identity, but Jesus still came from the Father in His Father’s name; the name His father had given him. Any other identity is not the same nor is it of any use for salvation.

Colossians 3:17
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

If we are in Christ we are a new creation and we are commanded to speak and live in His Name. The name must be central, it must be pivotal, it must be foundational, it must be … all. If financial freedom, social activity, motivational methodologies, etc… are what is central so that we can gain the world’s interest then we run into a problem. “If you draw people by carnal means you will have to keep people by carnal means.” -Paul Washer.

WHY – why must Jesus name and Identity be so central?

John 12:28-32
28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”

Because it is Jesus name and its identity with what He accomplished on the cross that will draw people to Christ and bring them to salvation. When we exalt and lift up Christ the World will perceive the value and significance we place in Him. They will ask who is this and what is this about…

World : So what do you have to offer?

Christian: Jesus

World: What else you got?

Christian: Jesus

That’s It!

Why Sunday?

Lions With Commandments

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I had a conversation with a good friend of mine regarding the observance of worship on Sunday as opposed to Saturday. My friends main concern over the move of worship to Sunday was that it might present a hindrance to Jews accustomed to meeting on Saturday. I would say not Jews only but any other religious group that meets on another day might find it difficult to make the shift from one day to another. Also many people including my friend are of the persuasion that the shift from Saturday to Sunday occurred later in Christian history and was likely more politically motivated then Biblicly or Spiritually motivated. I can truly appreciate these concerns which prompted me to consider the origins of the Church’s shift to Sunday. Read more of this post

Lost in Translation

Coming out of the enlightenment of the 1600s and early 1700s the church saw great revivals in the late 1700s and 1800s lead by such noted Christian leaders as George Whitfield and Johnathan Edwards. This spawned the age of missions in the church through the 1800s and early 1900s.
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Where is My Honor?

Exodus 20:8-11 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. 9 “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy. Read more of this post

Weeding Out False Teachers and Teaching

I attend a men’s group at my church each weekend. This weekend we discussed the fourth chapter of First John. While the director of ministries lead the session I started noticing some points that drew my attention. While trying to fill out my notes page I started writing notes in the margins of my bible. What follows is an exposition of the points that grabbed my attention. Read more of this post

Rethink Evangelism

Last year a good friend of mine, Paul, sent me a link to a video entitled “Regeneration vs the Idolotry of Decisional Evangelism”. I found this video most thought provoking. It seems that in the last century the gospel in America has become something different from what it originally was in church history. I feel that Paul Washer makes his case and shows good reason to be concerned. I would commend this video to all Christians for prayerful consideration. I have also taken some notes from the video on an alternative method for sharing the gospel

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Mysterious Words and Deep Roots

Commissioned to bring God’s Word

In the great commission Jesus called us as Christians to continue what He started. He called us to go into the world and make disciples. Notice Jesus didn’t call us to make adherents to a code nor individuals that ascent to Christ’s existence or even His purpose for that matter. Being a disciple is a much deeper, drop everything, don’t look back, take up the cross and yield to Me calling. Yet so many Christians struggle to find a deeper, life altering faith. Further, when we go into the world and explain the gospel to unbelievers we either struggle to make head-way or the person makes a decision, maybe gets fired up for a little while and then goes back to life as usual. Several churches have analyzed the effectiveness of their outreach and ministries only to find this lack of depth pervasive and this has befuddled many church leaders.

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The Unconventional Revolutionary

Many people have formulated opinions about Jesus Christ; who he was, what he did and how He managed to change the world. Nietzsche said, “I might believe in a redeemer if his followers looked more redeemed”. Ghandi said “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. “. The pharisees of Jesus day said John the Baptist was insane and that Jesus Christ was a drunkard and a glutton. Every leader, every revolutionary has an idea of what being a revolutionary should look like and looking through this lens they have looked at the stories about Jesus and formulated a picture of Jesus. If we set aside our preconceptions and look closely at the accounts something startling is revealed, we find a revolutionary unlike any other in history. In fact when coming face to face with this revolutionary it might be more comfortable to ignore what we find and fit Jesus back into our preconceptions of what a revolutionary should be and go on with our lives, but then we would have missed bringing into our lives something greater. Read more of this post