Friday, November 28, 2008
"Jesus, then, went to Jerusalem not just to preach, but to die…Jesus believed that the messianic woes were about to burst upon Israel, and that he had to take them upon himself, solo. In the Temple and the upper room, Jesus deliberately enacted two symbols, which encapsulated his whole work and agenda. The first symbol said: The present system is corrupt and recalcitrant. It is ripe for judgment. But Jesus is the Messiah, the one through whom YHWH, the God of all the world, will save Israel and thereby the world. And the second symbol said: this is how the true exodus will come about. This is how evil will be defeated. This is how sins will be forgiven." (Wright, The Challenge of Jesus, 91).
I love Christianity. Through Christ I can be apart of God’s renewed people, the returned-from-exile ones, and have my sins forgiven by the penal substitutionary death of Christ. Christ is the new temple where humanity can meet with God.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Early in the Old Testament narrative a significant tragedy occurs; an event that would change the course of history forever. I am referring, of course, to the fall. God had created humanity to live in harmony with him and the created order but it was all spoiled by human rebellion, by sin. Humans and the created order were then placed under a curse by God himself.
But God in his rich grace did not respond by destroying his entire creation (as he justly could have) but would set out a plan for rescue and renewal within the created order. Specifically, he called a man by the name of Abraham; through this man he would create a nation who would be the means of fixing the problem of sin. However, all does not go well. The people who are called to be a light to the nations, who are called to be the ‘set-apart ones’, themselves fall into sin (the great sin of idolatry). They were sent into exile and it seemed as if all hope was lost.
But God is righteous (as he so often proved to be to the nation
The Messiah came, born of a virgin. He would be the means by which God would be faithful to his covenant. Finally God would deal with the problem of sin and death. Christ lived his life, bringing the kingdom to bear on the present, living as the faithful Israelite, and as the faithful man. He was crucified, rose from the dead and ascended to the right hand of God. He is the true King of all creation. In and through all of these things God has dealt with Sin (we will see how this relates to individual humans in a later post) and has inaugurated his good Kingdom where justice and peace are truly seen. This gives true hope. Sin and evil have been defeated in Christ. There is no where else to look. I love Christianity. Or should I say, I love Christ.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Martin Luther: “The gospel is a story about Christ, God’s and David’s son, who died and was raised and is established as Lord. This is the gospel in a nutshell” (Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings).
Monday, November 24, 2008
- The apostles were preaching the resurrection of the dead in Jesus and were placed in custody for their message (vv.1-4).
- The apostles were questioned as to what power or name they had healed the lame man (vv.5-7).
- Peter explains that the man was healed through the power of the crucified and risen Messiah (vv.8-10).
- Although Jesus was rejected by his people he has become the ‘cornerstone’ and there is salvation in no other name (vv.11-12)
The early church consistently preached the resurrection of Jesus. This particularly annoyed the priests, the captain of the temple and the Sadducees. In his devotional commentary on Acts, N.T. Wright translates v.2, “They were thoroughly annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming that ‘the resurrection of the dead’ had begun to happen through Jesus.” Of course, if you were a person in authority this could mean trouble and would leave you feeling threatened. The resurrection of this one man in the middle of history means that he is the world’s true authority, the world’s rightful Lord. Because Jesus is the one who heals it is evident that he is the one who saves, bringing people into the Kingdom of God to experience the blessings of his messianic rule. Although he was rejected God has vindicated him. Jesus is the only saviour and no one can be delivered from this evil age except through him. The gospel is a message ‘about Jesus’ that is ‘for us’.
Friday, November 21, 2008
We are waiting for the arrival of a new heaven and earth, which God will bring about through his transforming power. A day is coming when Christ will come again to establish his reign of justice and freedom. He will create the home of righteousness which his people crave, banishing forever sin, Satan and death.
In renewed bodies in a renewed creation, we will live as God’s people in unbroken relationship with God and each other. At the centre of everything will be the one God, eternally self-existent as God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the creator and sustainer of all that is. His character is constant and his purposes unchanging. He will be all our glory. This will be life as it was meant to be lived – life in all its glorious and satisfying fulness.
We are a people formed decisively in the past
From before the creation of the world, God the Father chose us and blessed us in his Son, Jesus. We depend entirely upon the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, our King and Rescuer. Jesus is God-in-the-flesh, who shares our humanity, having been born of Mary. She conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit while she was still a virgin.
As the Son of God, Jesus came to make God known. As the Servant of God, Jesus came to undo the corruption of humanity and the divine curse on creation caused by the first man, Adam. He came to liberate us from our devastating self-love and to rescue us from the consequences of our ongoing wilful refusal to love God and others. Jesus fulfilled the promises made by God to Israel and realized all that Israel was called, but failed, to be. He gave us a glimpse of the world to come, calling the people of God to follow him and to demonstrate the goodness of his rule by their shared lives.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus lived the life Adam and the rest of humanity could not live. And through the Holy Spirit, Jesus died the death that Adam and the rest of humanity deserve to die. On the cross he endured and exhausted God’s righteous anger against our rebellion, paying its penalty in full. Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving the effectiveness of his death. The resurrection is the promise and beginning of God’s new world.
Jesus then returned to his Father in heaven, from where he now rules over all creation. He sent his Spirit to apply all that he achieved on the cross. The Spirit equips us as God’s people to live for Christ and speak of him so that others might submit to his gracious reign. In this way Jesus sovereignly gathers his church as he rescues those the Father has given him.
We are a people living joyfully in the present
God has given his Spirit and word to his people to equip us to serve him in the world and to bring us to his future.
God the Holy Spirit is the giver of life, the one who convicts of sin and the creator of saving faith. He is the one who opens our eyes to see the beauty of Christ so that through the Spirit we succumb willingly to irresistible grace. He is the one who gives us new hearts to turn to Christ and trust him. The Spirit sets us apart for Christ and makes us more like him through the word of God.
The Holy Spirit is the author and interpreter of the Bible, which is God’s word to his world concerning his Son, Jesus Christ. The Bible reflects the characters and circumstances of the people who wrote it, but the Holy Spirit guided the entire process. So in the Bible God reliably reveals his character and plans as he tells the story of his grace in rescuing sinners for his glory. Because it is the word of God, the Bible is the final authority in matters of conduct, questions of life and issues of truth.
We live together in union with Christ as his church. God is littering the world with local expressions of this church. We celebrate our cultural diversity while enjoying unity in Christ. These churches are a means of grace to a needy and dying world. God has given us the task of making the good news of Jesus known to those without God and without hope. Our community life points ahead to what God has in store for his world. So, by word and life, we model and offer reconciliation to those alienated from God by their wilful rejection of him. We call people to turn from despising God and urge them to trust in Christ. Without Christ, people face only the judgment of being forever cut off from God and all that is good. It is by grace that we live in the present as forgiven sinners. We never earn the right to be called children of God. The gift of faith hears the ‘not guilty’ verdict that God will proclaim for his people on the coming day of judgment and enables us to live in the light of it now.
As those welcomed, forgiven and accepted, we become a community of those who welcome, forgive and accept. We respond to the gospel in baptism, expressing that we have become part of the people of God. The Lord’s Supper is the meal we regularly share together to celebrate the work of Christ and express that we continue to be part of the people of God together. Our shared life proclaims the Lord’s death until he returns to make good the invitation to his eternal banquet.
copyright © 2008 the crowded house
Thursday, November 20, 2008
“And behold, a woman who had suffered from a discharge of blood for twelve years came up behind him and touched the fringe of his garment, for she said to herself, “If I only touch his garment, I will be made well.” Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well” (Matt. 9.20-22).
There seems to be nothing worse than an awkward situation. We hate feeling that way. We fill up our conversations with meaningless ‘chit-chat’ so that there are no moments of silence for us to feel uncomfortable. On a trip to the local mall one day I reached for the door handle and touched hands with another dude. Boy that was awkward!
In an effort to stay comfortable we stick with the friends we have and avoid interacting with others. But Jesus wasn’t like that. Jesus was willing to put himself in situations that we would deem ‘awkward’ for the sake of the gospel of the kingdom. In his day the woman who came to touch Jesus would be considered unclean. This would make her somewhat of a social outcast since those who she came in contact with would also be seen as unclean. People avoided these kinds of women.
As Christians we are called to act as the body of Christ. Jesus’ followers are to show the world what it looks like when Jesus becomes king, tell them that Jesus is Lord and how they might come under his rule (i.e. repenting of their sins and turning to the Lord of the world in faith alone). This means that we should be willing to put ourselves in awkward situations; even if it means that we might be seen as being ‘unclean’. Jesus is our new temple where we can go for ‘cermonial washing’ so we don’t have to fear being made dirty. Worship Christ not hand sanitizer.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
My wife and I are busy. Not as busy as some. We don’t have kids which means we don’t have to feed them, pick them up from school, drive them to hockey games, piano lessons, swim meets, etc. Nevertheless, we have enough things to do that keep our schedules somewhat full. We drive 45 mins-60 mins each way to work, work for 9 hours, Alicia cooks dinner right when she gets home, we maintain our devotions with each other, wash dishes, do laundry, and spend time with each other so that we can grow in our relationship. We thank God for all these things and we realize that one day we will be much much busier (I can see a Father smiling as he reads this).
Sometimes when we are busy it seems like we only have enough time for ourselves. Sure we go church on Sunday morning and evening and on Wednesday night but in terms of having time for others, no way! When we think of ‘doing’ anything else, driving to another place after work, then the whole thing seems overwhelming.
How are we to work for the Kingdom when we seem so busy? The Derek Webb song comes to mind, “I don’t want your cash or coins, I want your time, I want your voice, I want the things you just can’t give me.” So how can we give Jesus and his kingdom our time when it seems like we have none?
Perhaps there are 3 things we can do: 1) we can examine the way we use our time to see if we really have more time than we think; 2) we can look for opportunities to work for the kingdom of God where we are (i.e. it may not be a matter of simply adding something to our schedules; and 3) we must prepare to be inconvenienced for the sake of the kingdom.
On the last two points, sometimes we can feel that serving Jesus is a matter of adding a whole bunch of things to our schedule. However, this can, perhaps, cause a false dichotomy (or a works-righteousness) in our thinking (i.e. we go to work, church and then we do the kingdom work.). But this isn’t the way it has to be. How can we work for the kingdom at work or at church? Perhaps it means showing compassion to a co-worker that gets on your nerves and telling them about Jesus' death and resurrection; or maybe it means driving out of your way to pick your friend up for church? We can work for the kingdom where we are.
As for Derek Webb’s song, Jesus does want more than our money. He wants everything. He wants our hearts. Some people have been blessed with the ability and time to minister to the poor and needy. But I think that it does please Jesus when we give of our income, not just our time, to these causes (if our hearts are right). So let’s be generous with our money and give to those ministries and to those who minister that show what it looks like when Jesus is king. Be prepared to sacrifice your own comfort and convenience for the sake of the Christ. Most importantly, let’s invite people to come along and experience the kingdom for themselves through faith in Christ.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
A few weeks ago thousands of eager voters stood outside in Times Square awaiting the results of this years U.S. election. After the results were in, the mass erupted into celebration at the news that Barack Obama would be the new President of the United States.
Why the celebration? One of the reasons, no doubt, is that people desire change. With all the suffering in the world and all the problems that come with living this side of Genesis 3 people want someone that can help. They are looking for an authority that can make a difference. What they are really looking for is a Messiah.
However, today people are looking for a Messiah, just like in Jesus’ day, that they are comfortable with. “I want an authority that can make things better but please don’t ask me to change!” As soon as someone starts making demands on us and we are suspect of their motives and then we crucify them.
Barack Obama is not the Messiah; he is not even the ‘true’ authority (even though Americans are to respect him since God himself has given him this position). Jesus himself is the real authority. He is the Messiah who can rescue us from this evil age. He is the one who teaches with authority, has the authority to heal diseases, the authority over all evil, the authority to command the ‘natural’ order, the authority to forgive sinners, and, for that matter, he claims that all authority on heaven and earth has been given to him. He is the true authority. He is the Lord of the world.
Do you desire change? Do you want to be delivered from all the evil that surrounds us? Ultimately, no human leader can truly help. The only authority who will bring true everlasting change is Jesus the Messiah of the World. He was crucified by those who rejected his authority (at the end of the day this is you and me) but was raised from the dead by his father; this declared that he was the Son of God with power.
If you desire to be truly saved from this evil age you must recognize, as N.T. Wright says, that the ‘line of evil runs right through you’. All of us are part of the problem. We have sinned against our maker. We need atonement. Only the Christ can give this to us. Believe on him. Believe that he is the only crucified, risen and reigning Lord this world will ever know and you will be saved.
Monday, November 17, 2008
- A man lame from birth is healed outside the temple (vv. 1-10).
- This amazing healing calls for an explanation. Where there are miracles there are chances of misinterpretation (vv. 11-12).
- They had delivered the righteous and holy servant of the God of their ancestors to be delivered over to be killed. But God raised him from the dead (vv. 13-15).
- It is by faith in God’s risen servant that this man has been healed (v. 16).
- Their ignorant actions were part of God’s plan that the Messiah would be the suffering servant (vv. 17-18).
- They need to repent so that their sins may be forgiven, times of refreshing may come, and that Christ may return and restore all things (vv. 19-21).
- These are the days that the prophets pointed to, Christ being the prophet that Moses pointed to (vv. 22-24).
- The blessings of the Messiah are for all people (vv.25-26).
The explanation that is given for the miraculous healing is that God has raised the Messiah from the dead. Jesus is the King that was prophesied in the Old Testament and this is what it looks like when he sits on the throne. Jesus’ death was not ultimately according to man but was a part of God’s divine plan to save his people from their sins. Jesus is the suffering servant whose death makes forgiveness possible. Faith is how one experiences the life of the messianic age and all the blessings that come with it. Those who repent will have their sins forgiven, experience the refreshing of the messianic age and look forward (since their sins have been forgiven and they will not be judged) to the time when the Christ returns to restore all things. The essence of this sermon is that Jesus is the risen Messiah that brings the blessing of the messianic age into the present and gives his followers great expectation of their consummation in the future. Through his death one can have their sins forgiven and experience, for themselves, the blessings associated with this glorious age.
Friday, November 14, 2008
In my marriage my wife deals with the maps; I take care of the driving. Maps confuse me with all the different colors and the crazy lines. Which way am I even supposed to hold it? When you’re in a strange place it’s important that you have two things: One, a map and; Two, someone who can understand it and tell you where to go. The reason of course is that a mistake in direction can mean disaster.
This is similar to what Jesus is telling us in this passage. There are only two ways to go: Either the narrow gate which leads to life or the wide gate which leads to destruction. He has just laid out the map for us in the Sermon on the Mount. Those who follow Jesus cannot just relax and take the easy road. But we must live our lives in light of the Kingship of Christ. When we pledge our allegiance to Jesus we start on a new road. We live our lives in the present in accordance with God’s good future. Jesus’ teaching tells us what life looks like when the Kingdom breaks into his disciples’ lives. When Jesus becomes King this is how his servants live.
But he has not left us alone on the journey. Like my wife helping go in the right direction, Jesus has given us his Spirit through which he administers his rule from heaven. He has also given his life for us, choosing the hard road of the cross, ensuring us that our sins are forgiven through faith in his name. We have amnesty with this great King and we can live joyfully as his subjects in the present world. What a gracious king Jesus is!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
More recently, however, I have come to celebrate a new tradition. Whenever Christmas is approaching I start early with the Christmas music (Not the Santa kind but the Jesus kind. Handel’s Messiah is a favorite). I pick up a Jesus book (This year it’s Putting Jesus in His Place by Bowman and Komoszewski). I read through a gospel; and then I thank God for the Incarnation. I like this tradition and I highly recommend it!
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Matt. 1.23).
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
We need to heed the warning of Mark Dever when he asked the question at T4G 2008', "Is our Gospel too big?" We must be careful of calling everything gospel. But it seems to me that part of the good news, at least for Mary, was what Thomas Schreiner calls 'the great reversal' (as he says in his introduction to Luke in the ESV Study Bible). This is what it looks like when Jesus becomes king.
"'And Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me,and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear himfrom generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm;he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thronesand exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things,and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel,in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers,to Abraham and to his offspring forever'" (Luke 1.46-55 ESV).Written by Nick Mitchell © 2008 The King and His Kingdom Blog
Sunday, November 9, 2008
- The Spirit was a key promise of the messianic age (i.e. the last days) and this Spirit has now arrived inaugurating the last days (vv.14-20).
- Jesus’ death did not mean that God had abandoned him. In fact, it was all part of the divine will (i.e. there is significance in Christ’s death). God was sovereign over Christ’s suffering (i.e. God is sovereign even over evil) and demonstrated his acceptance of Jesus by releasing him from death (vv. 22-31).
- Jesus has been exalted to the highest honour in heaven and now pours out the Holy Spirit on his people (vv.32-35).
- God has made Jesus both Lord and Messiah (v.36).
- Because of this message people must repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins. They will receive the Holy Spirit. These blessings are for all people (vv.28-39).
The Messiah that was promised and prophesied in the OT has come. Jesus, the Messiah, is now reigning in heaven from his throne. The promises of the eschaton are now partially here (i.e. the Spirit is already here but the final consummation of the earth is not yet.). Jesus is the Lord and promised King who bestows end-time salvation in the present on those who call on him. Everyone who repents and turns to Christ receives the forgiveness of their sins and the eschatological gift of the Spirit. Peter’s gospel has a promise/fulfillment theme. It also highlights the Trinitarian work of God (i.e. God has made Jesus Lord and King and Jesus bestows the Holy Spirit.). We also see hints of the ‘already’ not ‘yet’. The Gospel is the announcement of who Jesus is and the salvation that is available through his name.
Written by Nick Mitchell © 2008 The King and His Kingdom Blog