Tag Archives: Justice

The Three points of the Gospel: Manger, Cross, Crown

I debated with my self about posting this video for several reasons. First of all it’s long (about 50 min), and secondly I try to be original in what I post. However, Tim Keller is amazing, everything I’ve heard from this guy continues to amaze me.

In this particular message that was a part of the Dwell Conference from 2008 in New York City, Keller address the question, “What is the Gospel?” His message is titled “Dwelling in the Gospel,” and it really gets into the vastness of the Gospel message.

You can link to the video here…

http://theresurgence.com/Keller_Dwelling-in-the-Gospel-video

Summary of Tim Keller’s Message:
He highlights the tension scholars have discuses for years, in that the Bible presents several different Gospels, yet claims there is only one. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, & Luke) present the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. John’s Gospel presents the Gospel of Eternal Life. And the Pauline Epistles present the Gospel of Justification.

Furthermore, Paul would argue that there is only one gospel in Galatians chapter one, but then in Galatians 2 he mentions his gospel is for the Gentiles and Peters in for the Jews… SO THERE IS ONE GOSPEL… BUT THEY ARE MANY?

Tim Keller addresses this question by concluding there is one Gospel, but that it has three main points; the Incarnation, the Cross, and the New Creation.

And if I categorized them correctly from his message it looks something like this table below…

table 2

Keller then goes on to say that how we present the Gospel depends much on our audience. Paul did not always present the gospel the same. In fact as Keller speculates that Paul made great distinction in his presentation between the Gentile and the Jew (the morally cognitive, and the morally relative).

Moreover, it would defeat power of the Gospel to address each of these every time, or to assume that “one size fits all.”
This video to me settles much of my uneasiness I’ve had about the gospel of personal conversion verses the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, which I addressed in my earlier posting, “The Presentation of the Gospel: An inspiring look at the news of the Kingdom of God. Part 1 & Part 2

I liked Keller question to the crowd to examine the “tension between people pushing an individual conversion agenda verses a corporate community agenda.”

There needs to balance… I agree. I was raised under the personal conversion classical evangelical 4-point gospel presentation, and I since then I have swung over to the “corporate community justice” gospel. But churches, our people, and our communities are in need of the full gospel if they are to be reached with maximum impact.

One last thing to mention… I enjoyed his comment (which he learned from his professor) that “the essence of the cross is substitution,” because as he said, in every instance and theory Jesus is doing the action on our behalf, whether liberating, or ransoming, or restoring, or reconciling, or saving, or justifying… we cannot do it on our own.

My hope now is that you will, or that you already have, watched this message from Tim Keller.

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The Missinglink Between Nonviolence and the Book of Revelation…

rapture exposed

So I just finished Barbara R. Rossing Book The Rapture Exposed. WOW! I’m not usually one to revert to such vague expressions of excitement, but her book answered so many questions! In one of my early post I refer readers to investigate the possibility that the “Rapture” is a heretical teaching. However, in my own quest these sources only served as a accelerant in my quest for truth in this subject. So I stumbled across Rossing book and was curious in a very cautious way. Nonetheless, I decided read the book. I was worried the book would be judgmental and condescending in tone, authors who stand-alone in the wilderness often have this attitude. Yet, Rossing did not. Her book is very level headed and inviting. She does, admittedly direct many of her attacks against rapture enthusiasts Hal Linsey and Tim Layhe. In all fairness though they have set themselves up as the gurus of Bible Prophecy and End Times Chorology.

Not to give too much away, because I recommend the book to all, Rossing deals with the historical rise of dispensationalism beginning about 170 years ago with John Darby, and flourishing with the popularity of the Scottfeild Reference Bible. Rapture theology now permeates American Cuture, even our politics. But what I love about her book is that she doesn’t waste extensive time arguing the historical rise of dispensationalism, rather deals with Rapture theology head on, biblically, theologically, and its effects of culture and society. (Her epilogue debunks several of these “rapture” passage.) Yet, for me this book was much more than a theology against the Rapture. Rossings book was a theology for a complete and full unveiling of the character of God. One of the main points she affirms over and over again in her book, almost to the point of redundancy, is that revelation is a story of hope, where God comes to dwell with man on Earth amongst our pain and brokenness rather that snatching us always from reality.

Furthermore, as a pacifist, the book of revelation has always been a thorn in my theology against a violent militarist God who calls his people to war and kill evildoers. I can deal with the Old Testaments conquests, understanding the life and message of Jesus was inviting us to live in a new kingdom, the Kingdom of God. And as citizens of this new kingdom we are called to live under its rules, we are to live selflessly, peaceably, and worshiping God and loving others. The prophet Micah exclaims this new kingdom would be a place where its people took their instruments of war and turned them into instruments of cultivation and agriculture. And although the Kingdom of God is seen in tension between “already” here and “not yet” here we are invited citizens. Then, came the book of Revelation; this dark and gloomy, blood and guts, sadistic steamroller vision of God who comes to trample of the heads of the unrighteous in warlike fashion.

I had previously dealt with this issue by remarking God can do what ever he wants, but he has called us to live peaceable lives… This however, as true as it may be, stood in as a contradiction to a God who had previously came and suffered in nonviolent resistance. Why would the he in round two come back swinging?

This is what surprised me most about Rossing book. Rossing exposed the error in traditional views of the Book of Revelation. Revelation was not a God who is coming back to wage war with violence, but a God who has already won the war when the Lamb of God was slaying.  Moreover, as followers we “conquer only by [our] testimony and faithfulness—not by making war or killing.”(pg 121) Rossing argues that the John paints a picture in revelation of a God who acts in every way contrary to the Roman militaristic way of life. The Kingdom of God is in fact upside down from the way the kingdom of this world operates. By submitting oneself self to death on the cross Jesus conquered the Kingdom of this world and made a public spectacle out of it.  His death mocked the system of this world and stripped it of its power.

Revelation is not about a militaristic God, but a nonviolent God who loves the world, even enough to die for us and dwell among us forever.

Thank you so much Rossing. I read your book in two days… I could not put it down!

For everyone else out there please pick up the book and read it, even if you disagree with everything I have just said. If nothing else you’ll get a glimpse into the oppositions camp.

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Justice or Charity?

justice-or-charity

Both justice and charity are mentioned in the Bible as qualities of both God and the faithful. Yet, it seems to me charity has somehow been subtitled for justice. People think they are supporting justice when all they are is being charitable. For example giving toys to needed Children during the Holidays is nice, its charitable, but its not justice. Those Children will still have to return to their families who are broken, possibly abusive, and most likely unable to provide adequately for them. Giving a sandwich or a few dollars to the homeless person standing on the corner is great and should be commended, however its still not justice. That sandwich only met the most temporal of his needs, and did not change his life, soul, or the cold park bench or overpass which he calls home.

Hear me correctly, I’m not speaking ill of charity. I know how hard it is to motivate people to be charitable, to bring in toys for children, or roll down their windows to give to the homeless. But justice is what is needed the most. Justice will help fight to root of the problem, greed, pride, and selfishness.Justice will help move a homeless person off the street permanently, by providing education and counseling. Justice will help end poverty, and war. The Kingdom of God is concerned about justice, as well as charity. But Charity without justice is like pouring water into a bucket without first plugging the hole in the bottom.

The Torah (the first five book of the Old Testament) imposed an obligation to maintain a society in which justice reigned. Maintaining societal Law was seen as maintaining Spiritual Law. You could not consider yourself spiritual if you did not carry out justice in your community. And when justice was not being maintained the prophets that their altars and places of worship would soon come crumbling down and they would be inhibited from worshiping God. Social Laws and Spiritual Laws go hand in hand. To live out justice is to take action against the evils of this world, but it is also to live out love, grace, and mercy. To live out justice is not only to stomp out the negative, but to live out the positive.

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Religion: Christian.

religion

The Church as been obsessed with the concept that “Christianity is not a religion it is a relationship.” And although I understand the theological understanding of that phrase I still see it as bad bumper sticker theology. I think the widespread acceptance of this theology highlights a growing problem in the church. Namely, the growing inward focus rather than an outward focus. The modern Church is completely absorbed with the individual rather than the community.

Religion is not an entire bad thing. In fact I will argue it is a good thing. Religion is not something believers should run from or shrink away from. Instead it should be embraced in its true form. James 1:27 tells us, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” So if religion is doing its job correctly it is a positive force on society and culture.

However, I can see why many modern believers have shrunk away from the idea of being a part of an organized religion. Because the Christian religion has failed to impact society and culture in a positive way by caring for the orphan, the widow and the poor… not to mention keeping oneself unpolluted from the evils of this world. Religion often looks like the pollutant not the filter. So many followers of Jesus detach from “religion” in the expression that they just have a relationship, and thus breaking the continuity between faith and action in many cases.

I understand that I am speaking here in broad generalities. I know the church in many local circumstances has taken great responsibility to tend to the orphan and widow, poor and oppressed. However, this is not what the church is known for to most.

I am both both proud and ashamed to be apart of the Christian religion. I am first proud because true Christianity is founded on the scriptures that triumph the advocacy of the poor and oppressed. Within a true Christian community the least of these are protected and defended against the wicked and the greedy. Yet, at the same time I am also ashamed to be a Christian because for so long Christians have failed to live out the full power and words or our savior Jesus Christ. In fact it has been so long since the Christian Community has lived out the redeeming principles of the Kingdom of God that it looks to most as if Christianity could and never will be effective or worth while. Religion because of its followers has been labeled ineffective, and even a force of evil rather than good, just look at the atrocity of the crusades.

As true followers of Jesus we need to take back the religion founded on the words of our savior. We have the ability to show the world what true religion looks like and put that thirst back in our society for Christianity. As Christians we need to get more focus of serving people and ministering to the marginalized in our society instead of building building or announcing church programs. We need to find our roots… Christians were the outcasts, and still are in some places in world, yet here in America we act the were high-society, and nobody wants us around.

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Our love for God is expressed through our love for others.

Our love for God is expressed through our love for others.

love god love others-love others love God

Love God love others-Love others love God

Jesus said our love of him would be expressed by our loved for others. As we love outwardly, we love upwardly.

In Church today our spirituality is often manifested by how ferequently we pray or read, how loud and free our worship is, or by what divine gifts we operatate in such as healings or speaking in tongues. Yet, Paul in his letter to the church in Corinth says you can have all these things in operation but if you have not love, you have nothing. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Matthew 7:21-23). In fact the verse which preceed this one says, “by their fruit you will recognize them”(Matthew 7:20) The things we do can not stand alone, all we do must be rooted in love, genuine christ like love. The love we have for God should manifest itself as love for others otherwise it is selfserving love wihich is really no love at all.

Matthew 25:31-46

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

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Sharing in the suffering of Christ

Peter
1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.
Paul
Philippians 3:10 &11
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
2 Corinthians 1:5
For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.
Romans 8:16 &17
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
(All Scriptures taken from the New International Version)

What does it mean to “share Christ suffering?”
What does it mean to “participate in the suffering of Christ?”

Most commentators I have read have parallel Christ Suffering with Evangelism. We share in his suffering when we take action to witness of what Christ has done for us. The suffering being the rude and angry people one might run across when sharing this message. However, somehow I’m having a hard time drawing a connection between being beaten beyond recognition, whipped, flogged, and crucified to mean comments, harsh words, or even threatening statements. Now, I’m not trying to belittle the millions who have died, or been put to death rather, because of their witness about Christ. Yet, I’m still having trouble drawing this correlation between sharing in Christ suffering and the Christians call to testify about Christ.

Why was he crucified?

Granted Christ was crucified for essentially that, testifying about who he was. Well, let me define that… Christ was crucified because of the claims he made about himself, but those claims had larger implications than just the personal forgiveness of sins. John 11:48 records this account of the Pharisees and the High Priest calling a meeting of the Sanhedrin to discuss their reasons for wanting to kill Jesus.  “If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” Jesus was a threat to their political structure. Jesus message was not just about forgiveness of sins, but the presence of a new kingdom, his kingdom, the Kingdom of God. When Jesus stepped onto the scene he pronounced the year of the Lord, the year of jubilee, in which all debt was released… forgiven. This divine reset button found itself in direct opposition to the greed and thirst for power of the current ruling authorities. Not to mention the complete class reconstruction of the Kingdom of God which lifted the least of these, the broken and bankrupt, the poor and oppressed, above the even the most outwardly righteous and religious of people, the Pharisees.

What did the cross represent?

“In the gospel of Mark, Jesus speaks of the cross and ties it to the meaning of discipleship: ‘If any want to be my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’ (Mark 8:34).
Think for a moment what the cross meant for those who were listening to Jesus and for those who were reading Mark’s gospel some 30 years later. Ched Myers puts it this way: ‘The cross in Mark’s day was neither religious icon nor metaphor for personal anguish or humility. It had only one meaning: that terrible form of capital punishment reserved by imperial Rome for political dissenters.’ Myers goes on: ‘The cross was a common sight in the revolutionary Palestine of Mark’s time; in this recruiting call, the disciple is invited to reckon with the consequences facing those who dare to challenge the hegemony of imperial Rome.’
With this ominous invitation, the cost of discipleship got much, much bigger. Embracing Jesus means embracing that cross. Mark doesn’t say it, but I suspect that after these words, the crowds around Jesus got smaller.”
The Foolishness of the Cross. A reflection on the cost of discipleship. by Joe Roos. Sojourners. August 2007 (Vol. 36, No. 8, pp. 28-31).

What were Christ sufferings?

John Howard Yoder writes in his book The Politics of Jesus, “The Cross of Calvary was not a difficult family situation, not a frustration of visions of personal fulfillment, a crushing debt or a nagging in-law; it was the political, legally to be expected result of a moral clash with the powers of ruling society” (pg 132).

The apostle Paul wrote, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness” and lastly he mentions, “against spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12 NASB). Moreover, if we take up the life of Christ, and share in his sufferings, we will find ourselves in a struggle against evil powers and corrupt governing authorities of this both this world and those in heavenly places. Christianity will always be a threat to every Governing body no matter their founding traditions because Christ calls for true justice, mercy, and love. That is why he was killed, and that is how we will share in his sufferings.

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