Disclaimer: About This Blog

THIS BLOG IS: my personal journey of how I am rethinking some of my spiritual beliefs.
THIS BLOG IS NOT: intended to point fingers at people who I think are wrong.
I do not believe the final judgement will be based on how many correct answers we get on a theology exam. I believe many people throughout history have had genuine relationships with our Lord and Saviour Jesus, despite holding questionable beliefs and practices. I make no claim to having it all figured out or being your judge. If we end up disagreeing over these topics I pray we can find a way to demonstrate grace.

Friday, December 31, 2010

I'm a Believer

I'm a believer. Are you? If so, what does this mean to you? What did it mean to the gospel writers?

As I've been going through the gospels, looking at what each writer has to say on the topic of the gospel or good news, I have to pause to include what the gospel according to John has to say on the topic of being a believer. The word believe shows up more in John than in Matthew, Mark, and Luke combined. I'd like to look at some of them here.

What essential things need to be believed in order to be a believer?

Keep in mind that John would not have assumed his readers had access to all the other NT books, or had our modern theological mindset. We should assume John is writing with enough details to achieve the goal of vs 20:31 "But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."

Would John's readers concluded we must believe the following:
  • God is holy.
  • We are sinners.
  • Our sins separates us from God.
  • The just penalty for our sins is eternal torment in Hell.
  • Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross so we can be with God for eternity


What do you think it meant to John to be a believer?

Here are some verses from the gospel of John (all Scripture NIV):

1:12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—

2:23 Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name.

3:14-18 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

3:36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.

4:39-42 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

4:53 Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he and his whole household believed.

5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

6:28-29 Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

6:35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

6:40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”

6:47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.

6:69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

7:31 Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?”

7:38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.”

8:30 Even as he spoke, many believed in him.

9:36-38 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.” Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

10:42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

11:25-27 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

11:45 Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

12:36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them.

12:37 [ Belief and Unbelief Among the Jews ] Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him.

12:44-46 Then Jesus cried out, “Whoever believes in me does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. The one who looks at me is seeing the one who sent me. I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.

14:1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God ; believe also in me.

17:20-23 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

20:29 Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

20:31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.



John gives a picture of a simple belief. John described people believing in Jesus' name, that He was the savior, the Messiah, the Son of God, or Lord.

Interesting there is never a list of all the essential beliefs in one verse or passage.

According to John, what do you think are the essential beliefs to be a believer?

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Extending Grace on this Journey

I recently recognized the significance of my starting point on this journey I've been on for the past few years.

The starting point for myself was the recognition of Jesus prayer for unity, and the church's lack of focus in that regard. I wanted to understand what issues were keeping the church divided. I started examining other traditions, especially the RCC - which my protestant tradition occasionally still protests. I came to appreciate that many of the issues were not as black and white as I had once thought. I began to doubt that all my protestant traditions were absolutely true. I came to conclude that even if the RCC was wrong on many non-essential truths, it is not for me to judge. I will readily agree I am also likely wrong on many non-essential truths as well... I just don't know which ones.

I recognized that love and unity were more essential - it is one of the biggest themes in Scripture. We can't ignore that Christ's body is one over every doctrinal debate that has a few verses of support on each side. Maybe it's not all about having all the right answers.

I found a place where I can extend love and grace to my RCC brothers and sisters who have less than perfect theology IMHO, but may have a true love and devotion to my Lord. (btw: I'm not suggesting all RCC members have a true love and devotion to my Lord... only God could know that.)

Now more recently I've come to a point where I see some flaws in my own tradition. For some reason recognizing these flaws stirs up more emotions. I think it's because I recognize I'm disagreeing with brothers and sisters that have been close. These aren't the long separated brothers and sisters of a distant related tradition. Questioning my beliefs results in questioning the beliefs of many people that I am close to. And I know some of them won't be thrilled about this.

However, my logical response must be the same.

I recognize that love and unity is more essential - it is one of the biggest themes in Scripture.

I have found a place where I can extend love and grace to my protestant brothers and sisters who have less than perfect theology IMHO, but have a true love and devotion to my Lord.

The difference here is I know many of these people personally. I can see their sincere faith. I can't ignore that part. So that makes it much easier when I stop to think about it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I Bring You Good News

I just wanted to highlight a few verses that are part of the narrative of Christ's birth. These verses introduce us to the gospel theme in the gospels. The good news of the kingdom of God that Jesus and his disciples later preached.


Luke 1:29-33 (NIV)
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
Luke 2:8-14 (NIV)
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

Matt 2:1-2 (NIV)
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

As we celebrate Christ's birth may we celebrate the good news that He is king. He is ruling over our lives. His kingdom that He established will not end. He is God's Son. He is our Savior. He is the Messiah the Jews were waiting for. And He is our Lord and king. The depths of these truths are worth celebrating.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Joy To The World - The Gospel



Great song. It proclaims the gospel of the kingdom.

During this season consider how you can:
  • Receive Christ as King
  • Rejoice in your King, because he rules the world with truth and grace
  • wonder at his love
  • Flee the curse and kingdom of darkness

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Dave Black on Church Today

Dave Black - Known for his love for New Testament Greek and passion for teaching, Sun Day 16, 7:38AM Says:

"Much of what we call "church" today originated, not in the New Testament, but in post-apostolic times.
  • The Lord's Supper has changed from a celebration to a ceremony.
  • Worship has changed from participation to observation.
  • Witness has changed from relationship to salesmanship.
  • Leadership has changed from servanthood to professionalism.
  • Mission has changed from being missionaries to supporting missionaries.
  • Body life has changed from edification to entertainment.
  • Buildings have changed from functional to sacred.
  • Child care has changed from the hands of parents to the hands of strangers."
I'll add a few more:
  • Gatherings changed from spontaneous spirit lead to prescheduled.
  • Giving changed from giving to the poor to giving to the 'church'
  • Discipleship training changed from apprenticeship model to academic model
  • Gospel of Jesus' Kingdom changed to gospel of our distinct doctrines
  • Unity of all saints changed to unity within our local faction

It's easy to get grumpy about lists like this. I can point fingers at those anonymous people in history... "Look at the mess you have made with Christ's church."

But then there are still some fingers pointing back at me...

Have I been faithful with what God is calling me to do? Am I loving God and loving others with a servant heart moment by moment? Am I full of Christ's Joy? Peace? Patience? Goodness? Genteelness? Self control?

To get Christ's church back to where it needs to be we simply need to allow Christ to direct it.

Just like I need to allow Christ to direct my life. Easier said than done, but this is the part God is asking of me.

Fixing Christ's church? I can't do that, but I believe God is moving in His church, I'm excited to see what His plans are for it. (even if he doesn't fix everything in my list) :)

But mostly I'm excited (and anxious) about what his plans are for me.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Shepherding Basics

As I've written about before, Scripture talks of Christ being our Chief Shepherd (Lead Pastor), and a good/great shepherd. And I see no evidence that anyone in the early church used the word shepherd, pastor, or overseer as a title for themselves or job description.

However there are a few verses that refer to Christ followers as shepherding or pasturing. So what can this mean for me?

One simple idea is how I'm a type of shepherd to my children. It is easy to see that I:
  • care for them
  • feed them
  • guide and teach them
  • scold and correct them
  • encourage and build them up
The goal is to build them up to maturity, so when they are older they will be able to shepherd others. I love them more than a shepherd would love his sheep, yet I don't really want them to be sheep forever.

Are there other people in my life that I am shepherding also? I believe as I mature in my faith there should be.

Are there people in my life that are still shepherding me? Yes.

Some will be more gifted at this than others. I'm thinking the goal of shepherding should be to feed, guide, correct, and encourage others, to build them up so they can mature to the point that they are shepherding others as well.

What do you think?


Related Posts:

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Overseer in 1 Peter 5:2

1 Peter 5:2 (NIV 1984)
"Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers--not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve;"
The way this is written this verse seems to support the concept of an office of overseer.

I'm not a Greek student. Please correct me if I'm wrong. But from a quick glance at the Greek for this passage, I don't know why most translations include the word overseers or oversight.

Take a look here for the breakdown of the Greek words in this verse.


"tend you the among you flock of God not by obligation but voluntarily not lucre but eagerness"

Rea-range the terms to make sense, but notice there is nothing here to hint at an office of an overseer.

I see the NIV version has dropped the word 'overseer' from it's 2010 version, but had it in it's 1984 version.

I hate to suggest it, but I have some translators bee doing their own version of playdough scripture. :)

EDIT: I stand corrected. Some manuscripts have ἐπισκοποῦντες which can be translated "look diligently, take the oversight.", so that is why the translators have gone this way. Thanks Steve.

Interesting the other time that term shows up is Hebrews 12:15, and gets translated "See to it", "look carefully", "watching"... and it seems to be written to all believers.

Related Posts:

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Playdough Scripture 1 Peter 4:8-11

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another go every Sunday to a worship service without grumbling. Each Some of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others during the worship service (usher, sound guy, Sunday school, nursery, worship band, preacher), and everyone put money in the offering plate as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone Listen while the pastor speaks, they should do so as one who because he speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

1 Peter 4:8-11 (Playdough Version)


OK, sorry for playing too much with our scripture. But here is my questions:

What is the main mark of a Christian? That they go faithfully to church every Sunday? Or that they love and serve each other? I suspect everyone would agree on the correct answer... but if someone never went 'to church' yet faithfully served and loved others and offered hospitality to others would they get judged for it?

When we serve, are we serving each other, or are we serving the church service? What would it look like if we used our gifts to serve each other outside the church programs?

What do we do with a verse like this: "If anyone speaks they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God" ??? Is it possible that all Christians could share this role in some way?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Original Meaning of Christmas

Recently discovery! Here is a picture of an early church Christmas celebration:


"The early Christians did not celebrate Christ's birth because they considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birthday

Wait a minute. Aren't Christian's supposed to be fighting to keep Christ as the true meaning of Christmas. Well I think that may depend on which Christmas traditions you are defending...

Date:

Many cultures had winter festivals long before Christ. The Romans had a festival called Saturna which occurs 8 days before the winter solstice.

Dies Natalis Solis Invicti means "the birthday of the unconquered sun". December 25 was Mithras' birthday, some sort of sun-god. It seems the Romans love for the sun had some influence on the date we celebrate for Christmas. (Just like Roman sun worship played a role in Sunday being the day for weekly worship.)

Gift giving:

- was part of the roman festival Saturna

Visiting friends:

- was part of the roman festival Saturna

Decorations:

- again people in the Roman Empire brought branches from evergreen plants indoors in the winter (before Christianity)


And then over the past 2000 years different cultures have added the Christmas tree, cards, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, special foods, songs and decorations.

So which Christmas traditions are we defending? I think they are simply a mixture of traditions, some created by the church, and some from various cultures.

Of course not all traditions are wrong. I look forward to spending time together with family, and enjoying some great food together. I look forward to placing special attention to the narrative of Jesus in scripture. And it is great that there is often a special interest in caring for the poor during this season.

I'm not suggesting we need to re-thing celebrating Christmas. I just want to add to our mindset a historical perspective on Christmas and birthdays.

Romans 14:5 (NIV)
One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.
I guess in the spirit of Romans 14:5-18, it is not for us to judge others on the basis of if they celebrate a certain day or not.



Some sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia
http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/holidaysfestivals/a/solsticeceleb_4.htm


Related Post:

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sign of Unity


(No this is not a real sign, and no, it is not what I believe... but I fear this is often how it works)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Eric on leadership

A blogger brother Eric (former paid pastor) posted some thoughts that fit well with my post yesterday on leadership.
The more I ponder this conversation, the more I see what the confusion was. We were thinking of leadership in terms of how we think of the church. If the church is what the bible describes plus additions such as the big building, the programs, the budgets, etc., then leadership almost has to come in the form of one strong senior pastor. Someone has to be in place to keep track of all of the stuff that the scriptures do not talk about.

However, if church is what the bible describes and no more, then leadership can fall into the hands of multiple people. In fact, each person in the body can show leadership in his or her particular areas of giftedness. The elders should primarily display leadership through being sacrificial examples of servanthood to the body. No one man is needed to take care of all the extra stuff.

How we view leadership in the church necessarily stems from how we view the church itself.
Yes, it will be tough to convince church folk who see a need for buildings, staff, budgets and programs that you don't need someone appointed to oversee it all. So I imagine most Christians will just think I'm some kind of crazy anarchist. :)

But if the church is simply the family of God... I can imagine it functioning with only Jesus as the head.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My 95 Thesis - Point 12 - Leadership

Here's my 12th Point in My 95 Thesis.

Another topic I think the church should dialog on is leadership. Is there a place for hierarchy in the church? Are some brothers a type of leader who have some special authority over the others? And what about titles, positions, and offices? Are we really doing this by the book?

Of course, in any gathering there will be some who lead others. The guy who starts the wave at a football game is a leader. Not because he has any special authority, but because others see what he is doing and want to follow.

What about elders? I understand there were elders in the NT church... just like there were elders in the OT ... society. However the elders in the OT society were not viewed as spiritual shepherds or overseers. I'm not sure how this translated into the NT church. I suspect it was common to look to the older wise men in the community for advice and guidance. However I don't see Scriptural evidence that these elders made decisions on behalf of the rest of the body.

What about pastors and overseers? I find it interesting that nobody in the NT called themselves these titles. It may be that shepherding and watching for and caring for others is more of description of what we are all called to. It may have had little to do with a title for an office or position. Yes, some will be more gifted than others... so they should be leading by example to encouraging the rest of the body to shepherd and oversee as well. In my opinion the only one who qualifies to use the title Chief Shepherd (or lead pastor) is Jesus.

I suspect if anyone was going around calling themselves 'Pastor' in those days, Jesus would have added that to this list in Matt 23:8-12 (NIV):
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called instructors, for you have one Instructor, the Messiah. The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
Church history is full of people using titles like preacher, pastor (shepherd), bishop (overseer), clergy, deacon (waiter or servant), priest, minister, reverend, archbishop, cardinal.

But I can't find any evidence those in the early church used any such titles. They refereed to themselves servants, brothers, apostles (sent ones), prisoner.... I think they understood their role and position in this new kingdom Jesus was establishing.

HOWEVER... just because I am questioning the use of the titles Pastor and elder, I do not want anyone to think I am against those who use these titles. I pray I can show grace and love towards my brothers who use these titles. My dad is a retired 'pastor'... and of course I still love him dearly. And I have other good friends who use these titles. I recognize that they are passionately seeking to love and follow the same Jesus I am seeking. In my opinion, it may not be so much about what we call ourselves that matters... but what we do. And I know most people who have used the titles pastor and elder have been doing shepherding, caring, feeding, etc. And we should all strive to follow that example.

Related Posts:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Learning one bite at a time

Sometimes I wish Jesus didn't use parables to teach us, or that the Bible was a bit clearer about what doctrines and beliefs are essential.

But there is a beauty in parables, and the narrative style of scripture.

God speaks truth one bite at a time.

There are some things we learn once, and we are good for life. Consider when you learned to count to 10, or how to tie your shoes. It's done. I no longer have an interested in learning more about tying shoes or counting to ten. Since I've mastered the topics, my interest in them have gone.

But not so with the kingdom of God. I don't have it all figured out yet. There are things I just don't understand.

So I enjoy it when God teaches me something new. So I can be thankful it is just a little bit at a time. That will mean there is still lots more to learn for years to come... and even into eternity.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Go into all the world

We live in a strange day and age.

I love to travel. I often wonder if I should quit my comfortable job, sell everything we have, and move to some remote place. But I'm not sure where, or what I would do there. And I'm not sure if it's God calling me, or just my mid-life crisis feelings of lack of purpose where I'm at.

It comes down to questioning if God wants to use me here, or if God wants to use me someplace else. If this ever became clear, I'd love to go. But until then I'll try to make responsible choices for my family.

Anyways, today I realized that in a way I am able to preach the good news to all the world through this blog. I thank God if he is able to use me in this way. I've never been much of a writer, or much of a communicator for that matter. But my blog stats counters shows that in a way I am able to share the good news with more of the world than I likely would by simply moving to some remote place.

Speaking in tongues - I know some people even use Google translate to translate my stuff into their language. :)

Unfortunately I don't get much feedback, so I don't really know how it is received. But I pray God can use it for his kingdom.

(Analytics visitors over past 12 months)

(statcounter.com recent visitors)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Gospel in Luke

Continuing the series looking for 'the gospel' in the gospels. All six posts in this series here:
  1. Gospel in the Gospels - introduction and some thoughts to consider 
  2. Gospel in Matthew - verses related to the term gospel in Matthew 
  3. Gospel in Mark - verses related to the term gospel in Mark 
  4. Gospel in Luke - verses related to the term gospel in Luke 
  5. Gospel in John - verses in John that that make similar points 
  6. Gospel in the Gospels - Summary
This time considering what Luke has to say. If Luke was asked "What is the gospel?", how would he respond?

I'll try to organize some scripture snippets, and look for a gospel theme. (All taken from NIV)

Gospel = good news, and good news is a theme in the gospel of Luke.
3:16-18 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.

2:10-11 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

4:16-21 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
7:22 So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.

8:1 [ The Parable of the Sower ] After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him,

9:6 So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.

16:16 “The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it.

20:1 One day as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple courts and proclaiming the good news, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him.
In fact Luke records Jesus as saying preaching the good news of the kingdom of God was the reason Jesus came to earth. 
4:43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
So we see that the good news according to Luke (and Jesus) was that of the kingdom of God.

Here are some additional references to this kingdom of God:
6:20 Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

7:28 I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”

8:10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you, but to others I speak in parables, so that, “‘though seeing, they may not see; though hearing, they may not understand.’

9:2 and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

9:11 but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.

9:27 “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.”

9:60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

9:62 Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

10:9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’

10:11 ‘Even the dust of your town we wipe from our feet as a warning to you. Yet be sure of this: The kingdom of God has come near.’

11:2 He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.

11:17-20 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: “Any kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and a house divided against itself will fall. If Satan is divided against himself, how can his kingdom stand? I say this because you claim that I drive out demons by Beelzebul. Now if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your followers drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.12:31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.

12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.

13:18 [ The Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast ] Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?

13:20 Again he asked, “What shall I compare the kingdom of God to?

13:28 “There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.

13:29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.

14:15 [ The Parable of the Great Banquet ] When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

17:20-21 Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”

18:16-17 But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”

18:24-25 Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

18:29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus said to them, “no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God.

19:11 [ The Parable of the Ten Minas ] While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.

21:31 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

22:16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

22:18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

22:29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me,

22:30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

23:42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. ”

23:51 who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.
Lets take another look at what Mary was told about Jesus by the angel:
1:30-33 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
King of the Jews
19:38-40 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”

23:3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied.

23:38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
And many verses where Jesus is refereed to as Lord like these:

(Lord = King, I won't list them all here)
12:42 The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?

13:15 The Lord answered him, “You hypocrites! Doesn’t each of you on the Sabbath untie your ox or donkey from the stall and lead it out to give it water?
Observations:
  • Jesus and His disciples preached the good news of the kingdom of God from town to town.
  • This is why Jesus came
  • Jesus is King, Lord, the Messiah (anointed king) the Jews were waiting for
  • But it's not the type of kingdom we are familiar with
  • Some references to the kingdom of God seem to be present tense and something to be part of now
  • Some references to the kingdom of God are future tense
  • Something about this kingdom is especially good news for the poor
  • We must have some child like quality to be part of it
What do you think the gospel was according to Luke?

Anything else stand out to you?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

N.T. Wright on the Atonement Debate




"The real frustration I had was all these great and good from the evangelical world inside the front cover who said this is the greatest treatment of the biblical doctrine of atonement. And so I thought wouldn't it be interesting to see what they do with the material of the gospels. How do they read John 19? How do they read Mark? How do they read Jesus whole ministry in relation to his death. Deafening silence. Virtually nothing in the book on the gospels. And that set me thinking, because as I've said in other places, I really think the western world has forgotten what the gospels are there for. And the result of that is that we take our theology from bits of Paul that we think we know what to do with, and we just grab a line here, a verse here, a passage there from the gospels to fit into that. Whereas Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are all written in such a way as to lead the eye up to the crucifixion of Jesus as the climax of a massive narrative. Which is the narrative of creation, the narrative of Abraham, Moses, David, the prophets. "


This resonates with my experience. When I really read the gospels with an open mind... I started seeing verses that spoke of a good news message I had been taught before. I'd heard many great stories about Jesus. But when it came to my understanding the gospel and essential Christian doctrine, Paul seemed to be more our authority.

"...What did Jesus think about the meaning of his own death?"