Posted in Discipleship

Our Identity

Reaffirm who we are

immunnityOur first task is to reaffirm who we are. Evangelicals are Christians who define themselves, their faith, and their lives according to the Good News of Jesus of Nazareth. (Evangelical comes from the Greek word for good news, or gospel.) Believing that the Gospel of Jesus is God’s Good news for the whole world, we affirm with the Apostle Paul that we are “not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.” Contrary to widespread misunderstanding today, we Evangelicals should be defined theologically, and not politically, socially, or culturally.
Behind this affirmation is the awareness that identity is powerful and precious to groups as well as to individuals. Identity is central to a classical liberal understanding of freedom. There are grave dangers in identity polities, but we insist that we ourselves, and not scholars, the press, or public opinion, have the right to say who we understand ourselves to be. We are who we say we are, and we resist all attempts to explain us in terms of our “true” motives and our “real” agenda.

title: Renaissance
author: Os Guinness

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Posted in Discipleship

The times

One day the vindication certainly will come.

The times to come will be hard. Just as Jesus will suffer as Son of Man, so also the saints will be persecuted for their commitment to him. They will long for vindication, but they will have to wait for it. So Jesus exhorts them to pray always and not lose heart. Contextually, Jesus is speaking of not losing heart about the hope of vindiwroclawpolandcation. He compares such prayer to the persistence of a widow nagging a judge. Her constant request was for him to vindicate her against her adversary, a remark that shows the eschatological vindication theme. The judge, who is no respecter of persons, will vindicate her so as not to be “beaten black and blue” by her continual coming.
It is this image that Jesus compares to God’s response. To make the point, Jesus uses a rhetorical question about God vindicating his elect who cry out to him day and night. The vindication will come. Will God delay over them? No, that vindication will come speedily. But apparently it will delay long enough that there is a question whether people will wait faithfully for that vindication. So Jesus concludes the unit by asking, “Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?”
The parable affirms the speedy vindication of disciples, while also noting that the indefiniteness of the delay is long enough to cause the possibility that some will not endure with abiding faith. It is this very ambiguity that produced discussion about the “delay” of Christ’s return in the early church. Nevertheless, the parable reinforces the previous unit’s discussion of the day of the Son of Man and urges disciples to “hang in there” until he returns. One day the vindication certainly will come.
Book: Jesus according to Scripture
Author: Darrell L. Bock

Posted in Discipleship

Hope Realized

the “already” and “not yet,”

the-Hidden-Things-of-GodJohn has often been understood to dissolve any so-called “tension” between the “already” and “not yet,” between the present and future, in favor of his emphasis on the present reality of the salvation and blessings of God. Yet even though “tension” may not quite capture the flavor of Johannine eschatology, there clearly is a definite “space” between the here and now and the future. This may also be seen in Jesus’ own journey to the Father-and his promise to the disciples that they will be where he is. Since he is returning to the Father, to the place and position that he had before the creation of the world, and since in the position he alone has seen the Father, the implication is that the disciples too have the promise of the vision of God. In this present life, because the Word of God has become incarnate, here is genuine knowledge of God; in seeing the Son, one sees the unseen Father. Yet the full vision of the unseen Father remains a future hope (see 1 John 3:1-2). Similarly, through the words and deeds of Jesus, one knows God and so has eternal life (17:3). Yet just as the Incarnate Word is fully God, yet not the entire fullness of God, and just as one sees the Father in the Son and yet does not see the Father in fullness, so to the life that the Word grants to human beings is fully the life of God, but not yet the complete fullness of the life. It awaits the resurrection. The very language of eternal life presses logically toward this end: life with the one who is the very origin and source of all life, the living and life-giving God.

Title: The God of The Gospel of John
author: Marianne Meye Thompson

Posted in Discipleship

Sonship

The Temptation
The temptation of Jesus is to be understood against this background. Satan did not challenge Jesus with the words, ‘If you are the Messiah ‘but’ If you are the Son of God.’ Satan recognizeded that Jesus, as the Son of God, could call upon angelic aid to assure personal safety. The temptations have to do indeed with Jesus messianic office, but with the messianic office that is grounded in his sonship.
That sonship involves a supernatural element is further supported by the recognition of Jesus by the demons. Mark records that at the very outset of his ministry, a demon-possessed man in the synagogue at capernaum saw Jesus, recognized him, and cried out, “what have you to do with us, jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God’ (Mk.1:24). Recognition by the demons was immediate and direct. It was not grounded upon observation and interpretation of Jesus’ words or deeds, it was not acquired inferentia knowledge; it was rather intuitive recognition of a supernatural kind. A comparison of this incident with Paul’experience with the demon-possessed girl in Acts 16 gives support to this interpretation.The expression The Holy One of God” is not a known messianic title nor a common primitive Christian designation of Jesus. Its background is the designation in the Old Testament of God as the Holy One. The demoniac recognised in Jesus the presence of a supernatural person.

book: A Theology of the New Testament
author: George Eldon Ladd


Posted in Discipleship

What Does It Mean

“How is it you do not understand?”

The Cross of ChristThe point of the parable is that those who have been forgiven (by God) ought also to forgive one another (Matt. 18:33, which is the climax of the parable proper). In light of the great mercy given by God, it is completely unthinkable to withhold forgiveness from a fellow believer for any sin (or any number of sins). The application of the parable by Jesus is a warning for those who would withhold forgiveness from their Christian brother or sister (18:35). Jesus uses this parable to teach a very different perspective on forgiveness than the one revealed in Peter’s question. The expectation of lavish forgiveness toward one another in the Christian community is based on God’s prior grace and forgiveness. In the end, this kind of forgiveness is not an option but an expectation of all those who set the kingdom as their priority. It is an expectation like those expectations already spelled out in Matt.18:1-20, rooted in self-denial and predicated on Jesus’ continued presence with his community.
author: Jeannine K. Brown
title: The Disciples in Narrative Perspective

Posted in Discipleship

Ephesians 6:10 to 13

prayer

The Christian life, in the first place is a warfare, it is a struggle. We wrestle. The whole section is designed to impress this fact upon us. There is no grosser or greater misrepresentation of the Christian message than that which depicts it as offering us a life of ease with no battle and no struggle at all. There are types of holiness teaching that teach just that. Their slogan is, ‘It is quite easy’. They say the trouble is that so many Christian people remain ignorant of the fact, and therefore go on fighting and struggling. That is the essential characteristic of the teaching of the Cults. That is why they are always popular. ‘Quite easy!’ You cannot fit that into this Epistle with its “We wrestle!’ ‘Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand.’ The first thing we have to realize is that the Christian life is a warfare, that we are strangers in an alien land, that we are in the enemy’s territory. We do not live in a vacuum, in a glasshouse. The teaching which gives the impression that the pathway to glory is all easy and simple and smooth is not Christianity, it is not Paul’s Christianity, it is not New Testament Christianity. It is the hallmark of the quack remedy always, that it cures everything so easily! One dose, and there is no more trouble!

But let me state my thesis positively. The claim of the Christian faith quite openly and specifically is that it – and it alone – can deal with this problem. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not one of a number of theories and teachings and philosophies confronting the world. It is unique, it stands absolutely alone. The Bible is not one book among many books. It is God’s Book, it is a unique Book, it is the Book, standing apart from all the others. We must emphasize this because it is the whole basis of the Christian faith. The Church is not one of a number of institutions; she says she is the body of Christ. We speak because we have a revelation. The Bible does not provide us with a theory, a speculation, an attempt to arrive at truth. The position of all the men who wrote the books of the Bible is akin to what the Apostle says about himself in the third chapter of this Epistle to the Ephesians: ‘For this cause, I, Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, if you have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: how that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery’.

The Christian Warfare An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10 to 13

by: D. M. LLOYD-JONES

 

Posted in Discipleship

Eyewitnesses

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

Jesus Washes His Disciples' Feet
Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

In Mark’s Gospel Peter is always in some sense aligned with the other disciples. But he does not appear purely as a typical or representative disciple. In this narrative role he is at the same time typical and more than typical of the other disciples. It is within his commonality with the others that he emerges as a distinctive individual, the most fully characterized of all Mark’s characters other than Jesus, and it is entirely plausible that this kind of individuality is the kind that was conveyed by Peter’s own recounting of the Gospel stories. The sequence of events in which Peter emerges most clearly as an individual who has his own story – his own story as a disciple of Jesus, that is – is the one that runs from his protestations of loyalty at the last supper to his distraught condition after denying Jesus. Here Peter exceeds the other disciples both in loyalty and in failure. This personal story does not serve merely to denigrate Peter – whether as hostile criticism from some anti-Petrine faction or as self-denigration by Peter himself – but actually qualifies Peter for his apostolic task. It is a story of personal transformation through failure self-recognition and restoration (the latter something to which Mark’s narrative points, without recounting it), a dramatic example of the encounter with the meaning of the cross that every Markan disciple must undergo. In this respect too it is both credibly the story Peter told about himself and a significant component of the story Mark has told.

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses
By: Richard Bauckham

 

Posted in Discipleship

Overcoming

Cruise.1First Thessalonians 2:14-16 mentions the “churches of God in Judea” suffering persecution from their fellow Jews. There is also Paul’s mention of being “persecuted for the cross of Christ” in Galatians 6:12 which may well refer to opposition from non-Christian Jews. As confirming evidence, we can note Josephus’s account of the incident where the high priest Ananus brought James, the brother of Jesus, and certain other Jewish Christians before the Sanhedrin on charges of serious violations of the Torah and had them executed by stoning. Such a punishment was restricted to radical violations of the Torah, such as idolatry and teaching Israel to stray from God. And, of course, there is the ironic fact of Paul, the onetime persecutor of Jewish Christians, himself subsequently being on the receiving end of severe opposition from Jewish authorities more than once, as mentioned in 2 Corinthians 11:23-26. Here, Paul refers to receiving synagogue floggings on five occasions, and mentions a stoning as well.
by: Larry W. Hurtado

 

Posted in Christian, Discipleship

Nebuchadnezzar

the_raising_of_lazarus
The raising of Lazarus

These are recollections of my life when I was a beast and ate grass, which I, Nebuchadnezzar, make known to all people and to every tongue.

Was not Babel the great city, the greatest of all the cities of the world? I, Nebuchadnezzar, built it. No city was so renowned as Babel, and no king so renowned through Babel, the glory of my majesty. My royal house was visible unto the ends of the earth, and my wisdom was like a dark riddle which no one could explain. So no one could interpret my dreams.

And the word came to me that for seven years I should be transformed and become like a beast that eats the grass of the field. And I heard a voice that came suddenly, and I was transformed as quickly as a woman changes color. Grass was my food, and dew fell upon me, and no one knew who I was. But I knew Babel and cried out, “Is not this Babel?” But no one paid attention to my word, for when I spoke I sounded like a bellowing beast. My thoughts terrified me, for my mouth was bound, and no one could grasp a thing I said. And I thought to myself: Who is this Mighty One whose wisdom is like the darkness of the night, and like the deep sea unfathomable? No one knows where the Almighty resides, no one can point and say, “Behold, here is his throne.” For he does not dwell on the confines of my kingdom as does my neighbor. And neither does he dwell in his temple, for I, I, Nebuchadnezzar, have taken his vessels of gold and silver, and have leveled his temple to ruins.

No one knows anything of him. Who is his father, and how did he came to acquire his power, and who taught him the secret of his might? He has no advisers from whom one might buy his secret for gold; no one to whom he says, “What shall I do?” and no one who says to him,”What are you doing?” He does not have spies who wait for the opportunity when one might catch him; for he does not say, “Tomorrow,” he says, “today.” He makes no preparations like a man, and his preparations give the enemy no rest, for he says, “let it be done,” and it comes to pass.

It is he who has done this to me. He does not aim like the bowman, so that one can flee from his arrow; no, he speaks and it is done. In his hand, the brain of kings is like wax in the smelting oven, and their power is like a feather when he weighs it. And yet he does not dwell on earth that he might take Babel from me and leave me a small residue, or that he might take away everything from me in order to be the Mighty One In Babel.

This is how I thought in the secrecy of my mind, when no one recognized me and when my thoughts terrified me. This is how I thought of the Lord. But the seven years passed by and I became once again Nebuchadnezzar, and I called together all the wise men to see if they could explain to me the secret of that power, and how it was I had become a beast of the field. And they all fell down upon their faces and said, “Great Nebuchadnezzar, this is but a vision, an evil dream! Who could be capable of doing this to you?” But my wrath was kindled against them, and I had them put away for their folly. For the Lord possesses all might, as no human being possesses it, and I will not envy his power, but will laud it.

Babel has ceased to be the renowned Babel, and I, Nebuchadnezzar, am no longer Nebuchadnezzar, and my armies no longer protect me, for no one can see the Lord and no one can recognize him. Even if he were to come, the watchmen would give warning in vain, because I have already become like a bird in the tree, or like a fish in the water, known only to the other fish.

I no longer desire to be renowned through Babel, but every seventh year there shall be a festival in the land, a great festival among the peope, and it shall be called the Feast of the Transformation. And an astrologer shall be led through the streets and be dressed like a beast, and he shall carry with him his calculations, torn to shreds like a bunch of hay. And all the people shall cry, “The Lord, the Lord, is the Mighty One. His deed is swift like the leap of the great fish in the sea.”

My days have been numbered, and my dominion has gone like a watch in the night. I do not know where to go-whether it is to the invisible land in the distance where the Mighty One lives, that I might find grace in his eyes, or whether he will take the breath of life from me, so that I become like a cast-off garment like my predcessors, that he might find delight in me.

I, I, Nebuchadnezzar, have made this known to all people and to every tongue, and great Babel shall carry out my will.

by…Soren Kierkegaard

Posted in Christian, Discipleship

The Serenity Prayer

TheGospelGOD, grant me the serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change,

Courage to change the
things I can, and the
wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the
pathway to peace.

Taking, as He did, this
sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make
all things right if I
surrender to His Will;

That I may be reasonably happy
in this life, and supremely
happy with Him forever in
the next.

Amen

NOTE: This is the full Serenity Prayer attributed to Rev. Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). It  was reportedly written by him in 1926. Niebuhr was a Lutheran pastor and theologian. Usually his “Serenity Prayer” is quoted using the first 2 verses only.