Tag Archives: Hope

Without the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ …

Without the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ God’s law becomes unproductive!

Without the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ God’s law becomes behavior modification!

 

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When Forgiveness is Incomplete

I was reading Matthew as  part of a Synoptics Gospel class I am taking.  One of the things my instructor said was we often we read scripture through an individual lens.   However, Matthew is meant to be read with a community lens.  In other words when Jesus is saying you to the disciples he really means Ya’ all.  In other words the community of disciples.

If you look at the bigger structure of Matthew the sermon on the mount is not commands to the disciples but they are rather an example of what Gods community should look like. Matthew went to  to clarify and fulfill Jesus purpose and mission of the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.  A continual contrast of the the earthly kingdoms vs the disciples heaven on Earth continues to be contrasted in Matthew.  Then later on Matthew discusses forgiveness.

 

21 Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone[a] who sins against me? Seven times?”

22 “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven![b]

The above reference was during Jesus’ discourse to his disciples about forgiving others that are a part of our Christian community.  I can’t help but think the words of “I forgive” and going through just a “process of forgiveness” falls far short of living in an intimate community of discipleship with other Christians and far short of what I am reading in the book of Matthew.  We often neglect the nuances and balance that the Synoptic Gospels offer us, neglecting the weightier matters of scripture for a more simplistic understanding and reading of the Gospels.

For me forgiveness is finally complete when I am back in intimate relationship in the community of believers and the ones I have wronged.  Anything less is not what I read as Jesus’ message in Matthew.

 

A New Reality

I was listening to Bill Bohline preach on Acts a few weeks back.  He discussed 4 general steps that the bible discusses.

  1. We were created in Gods Image
  2. The fall: We sinned
  3. Christ Came:  He loves us and  came to save and rescue us
  4. Restoration: Living in the restoration and the victory of the Cross.

Point 1 is generally assumed. Bill said quite often Churches are stuck in points 2 or point 3.  The legallist will stay stuck in point 2 wanting to remind people of their sin.   Usually, understanding well the new covenant of grace but living functionally in the old covenant of the law.  The antinomian will stay stuck on point 3  only wanting to talk about unconditional love and Gods Grace and the new covenant … always forgetting about sin.  As I have discussed in previous posts…. the 2 errors of the Gospel are those 2 extremes.  Staying stuck on point 2 or 3 both miss opportunities for change and growth in the Gospel message of grace toward sinners.

As is the case for many Martin Luther  purists …. we pride ourselves in having the proper biblical  distinction between law and gospel and keeping the “bullseye” in front of us!

Bill then  made a very good point.  He said churches don’t always tell the rest of the story.    They don’t often show the rest of the story where Jesus has restored and his people are living in freedom and the victory of the cross …. and to be  bold people who  share their stories while helping others overcoming their brokenness.  We just don’t live in the victory of the cross!  In our religiosity we continue to live in bondage!  The victory of the Gospel is where we should live!  The victory of the cross  slowly rewrites our story into Gods story!

Why did this come to mind…. well, I had an interesting thing happen to me a month back and came to some enlightening observations about myself …. but mostly I had some God moments where I saw God writing a different story of me than what I was trying to write for myself.

I have mentioned on previous posts about some friends that have a long line of broken relationships. He was/is  a good friend of mine for the last 35 years.  I was the only person from his side of friends that was invited to their wedding.  I am fairly certain they no longer have a relationship with his brothers.  Also, as I said they have other broken relationships of his friends before marriage.  I am sure there are others I am not aware of as well.  These conflicts normally started from a tension with her religious legalism and then later on him coming to rescue and protect her in the conflict.

Well,   a few years back, in a time after my sin and transgressions… it came to light that he was struggling with some pretty deep issues.   However, in her fear based world she no Continue reading

The Gospel and Jesus: What they mean to me

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

In recent years I have been working hard at understanding my core and to not deviate far from it. In essence to try to remain in the sweet spot of Gods word. The sweet  spot to me is the Gospel message. If we don’t keep that clearly in our sites we can eventually use scripture to damage relationships as we claim obedience or attempted obedience in some judgemental way.

I want to expand on some personal reasons why I believe we as Christians need to “Keep the main thing the main thing” and continually beat the gospel message about Christ into our heads. We need to re-remind each other of the Gospel message continuously. Martin Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f).  The gospel might be easy to understand but it is very difficult to apply in a persons life!!!!!

What I have seen [and participated in] is that as sinners we can twist anything and everything, including scripture, in idolotrous ways and suck life out of it for ourselves. People can spend years in Bible Study and still not be closer to Christ and understand the Gospel message any better than they did previously. We have a tendency to use scripture fore getting over bumps in life as opposed to drawing into more intimate relationships with God and the important people around us.

In the book of Genesis, before the fall of man, scripture says we were naked and unashamed.  We had an intimate trust relationship with each other and God.  After the fall of man, without the Gospel true intimacy to God, Christ, and each other is impossible. We can not achieve the intimate relationships we were designed by God to have without the Gospel message. Without the gospel, we will feel the need to portray some level of worthiness or holiness around each other. We cant discuss our true limitations, our shortcomings, our sins as we put on a “mask” of obedience or attempted obedience on. True obedience requires a deep understanding or our sin and an intimacy and Continue reading

The lust for divinity and the movie Beowulf

OK, so hows that title for an attention grabber. Lets read about the original sin:

Genesis 3

The Fall of Man

1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ “4 “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.

……..

22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

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I have been somewhat enamored on the idea of why God did not want us to know good and evil like He did in recent years. The tree we were NOT suposed to eat from was even called the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. For many, knowing good and evil is what Christianity is all about and the height of their being Christians.

Continue reading

Living the Gospel: Implication #2: The Sufficiency of the Gospel

This is a part of a continuing series on Living the Gospel.

Implication #2- The sufficiency of the gospel. Second, Paul is showing that we never “get beyond the gospel in our Christian life to something more advanced” The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth. The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity. The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.

We are not justified by the gospel and then sanctified by obedience, but the gospel is the way we grow (Gal.3:1- 3) and are renewed (Col.1:6). It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom.1:16-17). It is very common in the church to think as follows. “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you grow through hard work and obedience.” But Col.1:6 shows that this is a mistake. Both confession and “hard work” that is not arising from and “in line” with the gospel will not sanctify you–it will strangle you. All our problems come from a failure to apply the gospel. Thus when Paul left the Ephesians he committed them “to the word of his grace, which can build you up” (Acts 20:32)/.

The main problem, then, in the Christian life is that we have not thought out the deep implications of the gospel, we have not “used” the gospel in and on all parts of our life. Richard Lovelace says that most people’s problems are just a failure to be oriented to the gospel–a failure to grasp and believe it through and through. Luther says, “The truth of the Gospel is the principle article of all Christian doctrine….Most necessary is it that we know this article well, teach it to others, and beat it into their heads continually.” (on Gal.2:14f) The gospel is not easily comprehended. Paul says that the gospel only does its renewing work in us as we understand it in all its truth. All of us, to some degree live around the truth of the gospel but do not “get” it. So the key to continual and deeper spiritual renewal and revival is the continual rediscovery of the gospel. A stage of renewal is always the discovery of a new implication or application of the gospel– seeing more of its truth. This is true for either an individual or a church.

This was an excerpt from Tim Kellers Centrality of the Gospel that can be found here

The Gospel is…
We are more sinful and weak than we ever dared to admit and…
We are more loved and accepted than we ever dared to hope.

In Christ,

Jon S

Living the Gospel: Implication #1: The Power of the Gospel

Implication #1 – The power of the gospel. First, Paul is showing us that that bringing the gospel truth to bear on every area of life is the way to be changed by the power of God. The gospel is described in the Bible in the most astounding terms. Angels long to look into it all the time. (I Peter 1:12). It does not simply bring us power, but it is the power of God itself, for Paul says “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation” (Rom.1:16). It is also the blessing of God with benefits, which accrue to anyone who comes near (I Cor.9:23). It is even called the very light of the glory of God itself–“they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…for God…has made his light shine into our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (II Cor.4:4,6)

It has the life of God. Paul said to the Corinthians, “I gave you birth through the gospel”! And then, after it has regenerated us, it is the instrument of all continual growth and spiritual progress after we are converted. “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.” (Col. 1:6). Here we learn: 1) That the gospel is a living thing (cf. Romans 1:16) which is like a seed or a tree that brings more and more new life–bearing fruit and growing. 2) That the gospel is only “planted” in us so as to bear fruit as we understand its greatness and implications deeply—understood God’s grace in all its truth. 3) That the gospel continues to grow in us and renew us throughout our lives–as it has been doing since the day you heard it. This text helps us avoid either an exclusively rationalistic or mystical approach to renewal. On the one hand, the gospel has a content–it is profound doctrine. It is truth, and specifically, it is the truth about God’s grace. But on the other hand, this truth is a living power that continually expands its influence in our lives, just as a crop or a tree would grow and spread and dominate more and more of an area with roots and fruit.

This is from Tim Kellers Centrality of the Gospel Document that can be found here: