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.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Unity Example #3 Emmanuel



I want to highlight some examples of Christian Unity. I have a few ideas to start with. If anything else comes to mind please let me know.

With Christmas approaching I want to celebrate our shared Emmanuel.

"God With Us"

Matthew 1:23 (NET)
 “Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will name him Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.
When we stop and think about it, it is pretty amazing.

It is comforting to recognize that God is with us.

People have often tried to reach out to God, but we can share in the experience of God coming to be with us.

In terms of unity, we may want to stop and consider that "God is with" other Christ followers, who may be different than us, as well.

Matthew 28:20 (NET)
"teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Please let me know if I am incorrect about most Christians sharing this.  Or if other examples of Christian unity come to mind please let me know as well. Feel free to leave any feedback. Thanks.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Unity Example #2 Charity At Christmas


I want to highlight some examples of Christian Unity. I have a few ideas to start with. If anything else comes to mind please let me know.

With Christmas approaching I want to celebrate the shared emphasis on charity this time of year.

It seems Christians from all tradition encourage giving food, money,  or other kinds of help to people who are poor, sick, or in some form of need.

Many of the acts of charity have grown into larger charitable organizations that help connect givers with those in need. For example World Vision, Compassion, Samaritan's Purse and Operation Christmas Child, Salvation Army, local food banks and shelters for homeless... the list could go on.

I also want to highlight the simple acts of charity that Christians do individually: Giving gifts of food or clothing to someone in need. Inviting someone in need over for a meal. Helping an elderly neighbor, or someone who is sick.  It would be impossible to list all the examples of this, since much of it is done quietly and without any press coverage. 

I just want to celebrate that all Christ followers agree that Charity is a Christian thing to do, especially at Christmas.

Remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’   Acts 20:35

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Unity Example #1 Peace At Christmas

I want to highlight some examples of Christian Unity. I have a few ideas to start with. If anything else comes to mind please let me know.

With Christmas approaching I want to celebrate the shared emphasis on peace this time of year.

A saying goes:

Three phrases that sum up Christmas are: Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men, and Batteries not Included.

Christians from various traditions encourage peace at Christmas.  The first example that comes to mind are examples of Christmas truces during bloody wars.  It seems very strange that men will be trying to kill each for months or years, but then when Christmas day arrives they have often made peace for the day. I found this fascinating story where German and Allied soldiers met in 'no man's land' during World War 1 to shake hands and wish each other Merry Christmas: http://history1900s.about.com/od/1910s/a/christmastruce.htm

I think the shared emphasis of Peace at this time of year originates from the lips of the angels in this passage.

Luke 2:10 - 14 (NET)
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen carefully, for I proclaim to you good news that brings great joy to all the people: Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord.  This will be a sign for you: You will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a vast, heavenly army appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,  “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among people with whom he is pleased!”

Christians believe Christ is a source of peace.

May we recognize that all Christ followers desire peace (at least at Christmas). 

May we all find Peace during this Christmas season, and once we find it may we hold it all year long.

May we consider how we can work together to bring peace to each other here on earth.

John 14:27 (NET)
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; I do not give it to you as the world does. Do not let your hearts be distressed or lacking in courage."

If any other examples of Christian unity come to mind, please let me know.

Peace Out!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Paul Proclaiming the Kingdom of God

In Acts and into the epistles we see Paul proclaiming the message of the kingdom (reign/rule/authority) of God from town to town.

Paul:

"So Paul entered the synagogue and spoke out fearlessly for three months, addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God." Acts 19:8 NET

“And now I know that none of you among whom I went around proclaiming the kingdom will see me again." Acts 20:25 NET

"They set a day to meet with him, and they came to him where he was staying in even greater numbers. From morning until evening he explained things to them, testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets."  Acts 28:23 NET
"proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete boldness and without restriction." Acts 28:31 NET

"For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit." Romans 14:17 NET

"For the kingdom of God is demonstrated not in idle talk but with power." 1 Corinthians 4:20 NET

... and more

The above verses show that Paul was committed to proclaiming the kingdom of God wherever he went. We see similar passages relating to the disciples in the gospels.

12 Disciples:

"Jesus sends out His 12 disciples: On your way proclaim (preach) that the kingdom (reign, rule, authority) of heaven (or God) is at hand." Matt 10:7
"Then they (the 12 disciples) set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the gospel (good news) and curing people everywhere." Luke 9:6
The disciples were obviously following the example of Jesus, as he was known to go from town to town proclaiming the good news (gospel) of the kingdom/reign/rule/authority of God.

Jesus:

"Jesus went all through Galilee, teaching in their Synagogues, proclaiming (preaching) the gospel (good news) of the kingdom (reign, rule, authority, realm, dominion), and curing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people;" Mat 4:23

"Jesus went around all the towns and the villages, teaching in their Synagogues, proclaiming (preaching) the gospel (good news) of the kingdom (reign, rule, authority, dominion, realm), and curing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness." Matthew 9:35

"Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming (preaching) the gospel (good news) of God —“The time has come, and the kingdom (rule, reign, authority) of God is at hand; repent (change your way of thinking), and believe the good news.” Mar 1:14-15

"Jesus, however, said to them: “I must take the good news (gospel) of the kingdom (reign, rule, authority, dominion) of God to the other town also, for that was why I was sent.” Luke 4:43

"Shortly afterwards, Jesus went on a journey through the towns and villages, proclaiming (preaching) the good news (gospel) of the kingdom (rule, reign, authority, dominion) of God." Luke 8:1

My point here is that it would be wrong to assume the gospel message Paul preached was any different than the good news of the kingdom of God that Jesus and His disciples proclaimed.  Verses like the following should be read keeping in mind what message we know was proclaimed by Paul, Jesus, and the other disciples.  It would be wrong to assume Paul was proclaiming a new or different gospel message.


"not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ." Galatians 1:7

"in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem even as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ (the anointed King)." Romans 15:19 NET

"Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ (the anointed King), according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages," Romans 16:25

"Remember Jesus Christ (the anointed King), raised from the dead, a descendant of David; such is my gospel," 2 Timothy 2:8

"Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ (the anointed King) died for our sins according to the scriptures, and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures," 1 Corinthians 15:1 -4

When Paul proclaimed the gospel, he was proclaiming that Jesus was Christ, the anointed King, the messiah.  He was proclaiming Jesus as both Lord and Savior.  Paul was an example of someone who followed the commands in the following verses. 

For Us All:

Then he said to them: “Go into all the world, and proclaim the gospel (good news) to all creation. Mark 16:15

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14
My desire is to also proclaim the gospel of God's kingdom (reign/rule/authority).  To proclaim that it is good news that Jesus is Lord and Savior.


Related Posts:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Taking a Break


My spiritual journey is going off the public airwaves for awhile.  I need to take a break from speaking out on topics, and simply live my faith for awhile.  But I want to summarize some of the topics that have come together for me lately.

Jesus' Gospel vs Paul's Gospel: I believe both Jesus and Paul preached a Jesus centered gospel.  Jesus preached Jesus, and Paul preached Jesus.  Both proclaimed that Jesus was Christ, messiah, king, savior, and Lord. 

What Must I Believe (a 6 part series): Looking at Scripture passages related to what we must do or believe to be saved, it seems we must place our trust in the person of Jesus.

Unity is Essential : This has been my starting point on this journey.  I recognize a value for theological discussions when it leads people to mature in their relationship with Christ. Unfortunately if we focus too much on correct theology and take our focus off our relationships with the person of Christ, we often recognize we are not united in our different sets of essential beliefs.   I suggest a solution is placing Christ central, and elevating Him above our different understandings about Him.

My Role with Church: Church is people, followers of Christ and whenever they get together. Period (see Church Etymology).  Scripture teaches that we are to meet together with the purpose of building each other up to become more like Christ. It makes sense that we practice the One Anothers (another 6 part series) when we get together. 

Love is Essential: It is the greatest commandment.  The greatest of these is love. If I don't have love, I have nothing, all of this is pointless. God's love working though us helps others recognize we are disciples of Christ. If there is one command of Jesus I want to get right, it is this one.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What Creed Must I believe - Part 6

This is part six of a series exploring the question: "What set of beliefs do all true Christ followers believe?"

Please read some of these other posts first:

What Must I Believe Part 1 - explanation and look at Acts 16:30 - 31
What Must I Believe Part 2 - where Jesus tells a woman she is saved
What Must I believe Part 3 - a look at John 3:16
What Beliefs Part 4 - Whom Do I Trust?
What Must I believe - Part 5 - more verses to consider
What Creed Must I believe - Part 6 - how creeds can divide

The Bible was not written in the form of a creed or catechism.  The previous posts in this series have noted that there is no list of essential beliefs attached to passages related to what we must believe or trust to be saved.  I am concluding that it is trusting in the person of Jesus that is essential, not trusting in a correct set of beliefs about Jesus.

However as Christianity evolved, it didn't take long for creeds and catechisms to become popular.

The well known Apostle's creed is one of the first such lists:
"I believe in God, the Father almighty,creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again; he ascended into heaven, he is seated at the right hand of the Father, and he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen "



This is a great list of shared beliefs.  In fact most Christian denominations accept this creed as part of their beliefs.  I love it.

But for many, this creed does not go far enough.  For example the Apostle's creed didn't speak about equality between the Son and the Father.  So the Nicene creed was formed to define the orthodox position on that issue. So accepting the truths in the Apostle's creed was not enough to be considered a true believer.

Next came the Athanasian creed which included beliefs about the trinity.

For many Christians today these creeds are still not enough. For example they do not address how God deals with the sin problem through the work of the cross, or how we are justified by faith.

Over time larger catechisms were created to address many more issues.


Although I wish we could use something like the Apostle's creed as a measuring stick to say who is in and who is out, I don't see the writers of Scripture doing that.  It seems they consistently equate trusting in the person of Jesus as the source of one's salvation.

Unfortunately what has happened throughout church history is that Christians have divided over these distinct lists of essential beliefs.  Instead of recognizing that we are united around trusting the person of Christ, we have recognized we are not united in our different sets of essential beliefs. I see this as a huge problem.  Scripture is clear unity is essential.  I suggest a solution is placing Christ central, and elevating Him above our different understandings about Him.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Related Posts:

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What Must I believe - Part 5

This is part five of a series exploring the question: "What set of beliefs do all true Christ followers believe?"

Please read some of these other posts first:


What Must I Believe Part 1 - explanation and look at Acts 16:30 - 31
What Must I Believe Part 2 - where Jesus tells a woman she is saved
What Must I believe Part 3 - a look at John 3:16
What Beliefs Part 4 - Whom Do I Trust?
What Must I believe - Part 5 - more verses to consider
What Creed Must I believe - Part 6 - how creeds can divide

In previous posts I have been looking for passages which tell us a set of information that we we must believe to be saved.  I haven't found such a list.  I am thinking then it is not so much a list of essential beliefs about Jesus we must place our trust in. Salvation comes instead by placing our trust in the person of Christ.

I'd like to test this thought with a few more verses. As you read each question ask:

Does this passage answer the question: "What information must I believe?"  

Or does this passage answer the question: "What person must I trust?"

Note in some cases I am going with the term trust  instead of believe or faith - where it seems to fit with the greek.

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

"The one who trusts in the Son has eternal life. The one who rejects the Son will not see life, but God’s wrath remains on him." John 3:36/NET

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

For this is the will of my Father – for everyone who looks on the Son and trusts in him to have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40/NET

"I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture." John 10:9/NET
"For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." Rom 10:13/NET
"And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. ’ Act 2:21/NET

Exceptions:

The following passages do not really support my idea that trust in the person of Christ is what brings salvation. But they also don't support the idea that belief in a specific list of information about God does either. (unless you are fine with the really short list in Rom 10:9)
"because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." Rom 10:9/NET

"The one who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:54/NET

"eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality," Rom 2:7/NET



In the next post I'll take a quick look at some of the early creeds or lists of beliefs.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts.  Have I missed any passages that would help us understand what beliefs are necessary for salvation?





Thursday, May 16, 2013

What Beliefs Part 4 - Whom Do I Trust?

This is part four of a series exploring the question: "What set of beliefs do all true Christ followers believe?"

Please read some of these other posts first:


What Must I Believe Part 1 - explanation and look at Acts 16:30 - 31
What Must I Believe Part 2 - where Jesus tells a woman she is saved
What Must I believe Part 3 - a look at John 3:16
What Beliefs Part 4 - Whom Do I Trust?
What Must I believe - Part 5 - more verses to consider
What Creed Must I believe - Part 6 - how creeds can divide

Yes, I'm playing with what we mean by words again. Please humour me as I find it helpful.   The way we use the terms believe and trust may impact how we read the passages I've looked at so far.

I believe in parachutes. I believe in the science behind them. I even have faith that they work (most of the time).   But I have never placed my trust in a parachute, and have no plans to trust a parachute with my life.

Or take this random fact for example:
"If you have 3 quarters, 4 dimes, and 4 pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar. "

(Canadians: just try to remember back to the days when we had pennies.)

Yes I believe this information. The math looks good. Do I place any trust in this statement? No. So far in my life this random fact has made little to no difference in my life.  I don't see the need to place any trust in this information.

Believing that information is correct can be different than placing trust in something.

Up to this point I have been looking at different passages of Scripture for a list of essential beliefs about Jesus that believers must believe to be 'saved'. So far I haven't been able to find such a list.  So I am leaning towards assuming saving faith isn't about faith in a correct set of doctrines or truth statements about God and Jesus.  I am thinking the object of our saving faith is something other than correct information.

When Jesus and others say we must "believe in Jesus" to be saved, they didn't say "believe the following about Jesus".

The greek terms for believe and faith in the previous passages can also be translated trust, or to have trust in.
http://biblesuite.com/greek/4102.htm
http://biblesuite.com/greek/4100.htm

So what happens if we substitute the terms belief or faith with trust?

We get statements like this:

  • Jesus said to the woman, “Your trust [in me] has saved you; go in peace.”
  • "He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who trusts in him will not perish but have eternal life."
  • “Trust in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

Since none of the passages state "to be saved you must believe the following information or truth statements about Jesus", I think it makes sense to assume the object of our trust is in the person of Jesus.

It is not trusting in correct theology, but trusting in the source of truth Himself.

We see in James 2:19 that simply believing correct information about God does not count.  The demons likely have better understanding of theology that most of us.  The concern for them is where/whom they place their trust.
"You believe that God is one; well and good. Even the demons believe that—and tremble with fear." (NET)

Obviously there is great value in having accurate theology.  If you are serious about following Jesus, you will want to understand Him better.  But the evidence of Scripture is leaning in favour of salvation based on trusting in the person of Christ, over trusting in some specific teachings about Christ.

I will continue this series with a list of other passages I have looked at.  If you want me to include a specific passage please let me know in a comment.

Please share your thoughts on this.


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What Must I believe Part 3

This is part three of a series exploring the question: "What set of beliefs do all true Christ followers believe?"

This post may make more sense if you read some of these first:


What Must I Believe Part 1 - explanation and look at Acts 16:30 - 31
What Must I Believe Part 2 - where Jesus tells a woman she is saved
What Must I believe Part 3 - a look at John 3:16
What Beliefs Part 4 - Whom Do I Trust?
What Must I believe - Part 5 - more verses to consider
What Creed Must I believe - Part 6 - how creeds can divide

Next I'd like to look at one of the most popular verses in the Bible - John 3:16.  Let's look at a few verses around it too. John 3:14 - 21 (NIV)
"Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”  For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed.  But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God.
In this passage Jesus simply teaches that everyone who believes in Jesus, and believes in the name of Jesus, will have eternal life.  Seems simple enough.

But like the previous passages I looked at, Jesus does not list how much information about Himself we must believe.  Do we need to understand and believe all that He has done for us in the past, and all He is doing in the world today, and the how and why he does it? He doesn't say we have to understand original sin, where sin will lead us, the work of the cross, justification, sanctification, His mercy, or grace.  I'm starting to suspect salvation isn't based on how much information we believe about Jesus.  If it was, it would have been nice if Jesus had mentioned here what information we need to believe.

However,  on the other hand, is it simply enough to say we believe in Jesus, and live however we please? No.

This passage gives the basis for judging who truly believes. Note that the evidence of true faith is not about how accurate their belief system is.  It looks like it is based on having fruit.   The passage doesn't say we are saved by doing good deeds, but it does say good deeds will be evident if we are saved. Those who follow Christ will become transformed to become more like the one they are following.

I am starting to get some clarity on this topic, I hope it makes some sense to others as well. If salvation is based on agreement with a list of truth statements about Jesus, why don't we see Jesus providing such a list here or elsewhere.  If it is not about belief in some information, what are we to be placing our trust in?

I plan to look at a few more passages soon.  If you have any passages you want to suggest I include in this series please leave them in a comment.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.





Monday, May 13, 2013

What Must I Believe Part 2

This is part two of a series exploring the question: "What set of beliefs do all true Christ followers believe?"

This post may make more sense if you read these too:


What Must I Believe Part 1 - explanation and look at Acts 16:30 - 31
What Must I Believe Part 2 - where Jesus tells a woman she is saved
What Must I believe Part 3 - a look at John 3:16
What Beliefs Part 4 - Whom Do I Trust?
What Must I believe - Part 5 - more verses to consider
What Creed Must I believe - Part 6 - how creeds can divide

Next lets look at a passage in Luke 7:36 - 50 where Jesus is anointed by a sinful woman:
"When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

skip to verse 47 

(Jesus said) "Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”  Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”  The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”  (NIV)

Like the last story, it may seem some things are missing from this story.  The story doesn't mention any gospel presentation. It doesn't mention Jesus going through a list of beliefs that must be accepted by faith.  There is no sinners prayer mentioned.

However it does mention her sins being forgiven, and that she is saved by faith.

Faith in what is the key question?  Is it faith in a set of information? Is it agreement in some truth statements?

If it was her belief in a set of information that has saved her, it would have been nice if Jesus had mentioned that.  But just like the previous example in Acts 16 no list of essential beliefs is given.

I have an idea of what the object of her faith may have been.  But first I'll look at a few more passages.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What Must I Believe Part 1

What set of beliefs do all true Christ followers believe?

Christians believe all sorts of different things.  Is there a minimum amount of information a Christ follower needs to accept as truth by faith to be saved? Many Christians over the years have developed catechisms and statements of faith in an attempt to address this question. 

If someone asked you the question "What must I do to be saved?"  How would you respond?  Is there a set of information that you would want to go through to explain the basics of the faith?  Is there a list of verses that you would flip through to point out the most important beliefs?

To explore this question I would like to do a series of posts. There are a number of passages in New Testament that speak about what needs to occur to be saved.

The passage in Acts 16 comes to mind first where a jail guard asks Paul and Silas this key question:

 “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 

From this text, what set of information must be believed to be saved?  

Does it say we need to believe that God is Holy? That we are sinners?  That God cannot be in the presence of sin so Jesus paid our debt on the cross so we can be with Him?

What about information about the Trinity? What about the resurrection? What about God's love? What about the role of the Holy Spirit? We could go on and on and create a lengthy catechism.

This passage does go on to say "they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house."  We can only guess as to what that sounded like.   I can imagine it including some of  what I just mentioned above.  But we don't know how much.

We must also note the passage doesn't say "Believe the following about the Lord Jesus and you will be saved".  There is a difference between trusting someone, and believing information about someone. Getting the information about Jesus correct does matter for many different reasons.  I would not encourage anyone to embrace doctrines they know are false.  But how much of the information needs to be understood correctly for salvation?  That is the question I would like to explore further.


Here are other posts in this series:


What Must I Believe Part 1 - explanation and look at Acts 16:30 - 31
What Must I Believe Part 2 - where Jesus tells a woman she is saved
What Must I believe Part 3 - a look at John 3:16
What Beliefs Part 4 - Whom Do I Trust?
What Must I believe - Part 5 - more verses to consider
What Creed Must I believe - Part 6 - how creeds can divide

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Jesus' Gospel vs Paul's Gospel

"Many biblical scholars and lay Christians have noted that Jesus preached almost exclusively about the kingdom of heaven, while Paul highlighted justification by faith—and not vice versa. Some conclude that they preached two different gospels. Others argue that really they both preached justification; still others say it's all about the kingdom. What gives?"  - Scot McKnight

Many Christians have been brought up understanding the gospel in terms defined by Paul.  The main idea is our justification by faith in Christ's work on the cross.

However many Christians today are recognizing that Jesus also preached a message he referred to as the gospel. For those of you who are not familiar with the idea that Jesus preached the gospel here are some key questions and some verses to consider.

Jesus' Gospel

1) Did Jesus preach a gospel (good news) message?
2) Did His disciples proclaim a gospel message?
3) When the gospel writers instruct us to proclaim the gospel, using how the term was used by that author, what was the good news message they were referencing?

Jesus went all through Galilee, teaching in their Synagogues, proclaiming (preaching) the gospel (good news) of the kingdom (reign, rule, authority, realm, dominion), and curing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people; Mat 4:23

Jesus went around all the towns and the villages, teaching in their Synagogues, proclaiming (preaching) the gospel (good news) of the kingdom (reign, rule, authority, dominion, realm), and curing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Matthew 9:35

Jesus went to Galilee, proclaiming (preaching) the gospel (good news) of God —“The time has come, and the kingdom (rule, reign, authority) of God is at hand; repent (change your way of thinking), and believe the good news.” Mar 1:14-15

Jesus, however, said to them: “I must take the good news (gospel) of the kingdom (reign, rule, authority, dominion) of God to the other town also, for that was why I was sent.” Luke 4:43

Shortly afterwards, Jesus went on a journey through the towns and villages, proclaiming (preaching) the good news (gospel) of the kingdom (rule, reign, authority, dominion) of God. Luke 8:1

Jesus sends out His 12 disciples: On your way proclaim (preach) that the kingdom (reign, rule, authority) of heaven (or God) is at hand. Matt 10:7

Shortly afterwards, Jesus went on a journey through the towns and villages, proclaiming the gospel (good news) of the kingdom (reign, rule, authority) of God. Luke 8:1

Then they (the 12 disciples) set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the gospel (good news) and curing people everywhere. Luke 9:6

Then he said to them: “Go into all the world, and proclaim the gospel (good news) to all creation. Mark 16:15

"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14
So we may ask the questions?

Did Jesus preach Paul's gospel?

or

Did Paul preach Jesus' gospel?

I recently came across some articles that do a decent job addressing the tension in these questions:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevinwax/2010/12/14/jesus-vs-paul-an-interview-with-scot-mcknight-about-the-gospel/

which was an interview related to this article:





The articles are worth the read.  It may be an important topic to get your head around. After all, most Christians agree we should be proclaiming the gospel.   So how we define the gospel should matter.  Who gets to define it? Which scripture passages are used to summarize this essential question?

I agree with the idea in this article. When Jesus proclaimed the good news of the kingdom or reign of God, he was announcing that He was the Christ, the anointed King.  He was the Messiah that the Jews were waiting for. He was inviting all people to enter under the reign and authority of His kingdom.  He was their saviour and Lord.

When Paul defines the gospel he preached in 1 Corinthians 15 he uses very similar language.

"Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,  and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. " (NIV)

Of first importance: that Christ (the anointed King) died for our sins...

Do you see the kingdom connection?  The term Christ means the anointed one.

Jesus and Paul both preached that Jesus was king, Lord, Christ, Messiah.

Jesus and Paul both preached that Jesus died for our sins.

Jesus and Paul both preached victory that comes from our risen Lord.

Jesus and Paul both preach about requiring faith in Jesus.

I do see a different emphasis, but I don't see a different gospel message.  


Scot McKnight writes:
"... when some evangelicals recently rediscovered Jesus' kingdom vision, they were frequently warned that they were on the verge of falling for a social gospel. "
This describes my experience over and over again.  I admit I have been surprised and confused by this.

I'm sorry if my journey to understand and apply the teachings of Jesus has given you concern.  As a follower of Jesus my desire is to become more like Jesus.  I am enjoying studying the life and teachings of Jesus.  It seems clear that Jesus had a favorite topic as he preached from town to town, and His disciples caught on as well.  I believe the words of Jesus have meaning and power for people today as well, without taking away from the messages of Paul and other writers of Scripture.

Is it safe to say "Jesus Christ is the gospel"?

Related Posts:




Saturday, April 20, 2013

What must I do?

I am continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom, taking a look today at Mark 10:17 - 27:
"As Jesus was resuming his journey, a man came running up to him, and threw himself on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to gain eternal life?”  “Why do you call me good?”answered Jesus. “No one is good but God.  You know the commandments — ‘Do not kill. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not say what is false about others. Do not cheat. Honor your father and your mother.’”  “Teacher,” he replied, “I have observed all these from my childhood.”  Jesus looked at the man, and his heart went out to him, and he said: “There is still one thing wanting in you; go and sell all that you have, and give to the poor, and you will heave wealth in heaven; then come and follow me.”  But the man’s face clouded at these words, and he went away distressed, for he had great possessions.  Then Jesus looked around, and said to his disciples: “How hard it is for people of wealth to enter the kingdom of God!”  The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again: “My children, how hard a thing it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to get through a needle’s eye, than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.”  “Then who can be saved?” they exclaimed in the greatest astonishment.  Jesus looked at them, and answered: “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for everything is possible with God.”

 I think this is an interesting passage.  The question this man asks Jesus is a very key question.

"What must I do to gain eternal life?"

If someone asked you this question, how would you respond?

I doubt any of us would respond with the answers Jesus gives... follow the Old Testament commandments, and sell everything and give your money to the poor.

Many Christians would explain some information about God and what Jesus did on the cross, and say if we believe and have faith we will be saved.

So how can we reconcile that the answer Jesus gives here seems to emphasize works, where the answer we want to give emphasizes only faith.  I know there are many bible passages that support both sides of the works vs faith issue.

I think a key to understanding the kingdom of God is that it is not about following a set of rules.  If submission to the reign, rule, authority of God was just about following the Old Testament law, Jesus would not have had to come.  The Jews already had the law.

I believe there is a real sense that Jesus wanted to free them from following the law.  He wanted them to discover that they could follow and submit to the King instead.  He showed them that He was the King who loved and cared for them, especially those who were the outcasts and marginalized ones.   Submitting to the reign and authority of a loving God is so much better than following a set of rules.  When Jesus left he promised that He would leave the Holy Spirit to guide His followers personally.

I think the answer Jesus gave isn't one of following the works of the law. I see it as a call to have deep faith in God.

This man had wealth, and he was trusting in his wealth.  Jesus was asking the man to place his faith and trust in Him alone.

I am not at a point where I believe all wealthy people have to sell all they have and give it all to the poor.  I see Jesus asking this man to do this because He knew this man's heart.  If you have wealth, the key question to ask yourself is "If God asked me to give it all up would I?  Do I trust God more than I trust my wealth? Do I trust God's ability to care for my needs more than I trust my own ability?  To what degree am I OK with letting God alone reign in my life?"  These are questions of faith.

 Related Posts:


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Are You Frustrated With Church?

I think many people are frustrated with church for different reasons. I think the issues most people have with church can be broken down into different categories:
  • Issues with the building: too small, too large, too old, too expensive, not easily accessible  for your needs.
  • Issues with the programs:  issues with Sunday School, youth programming, seniors programming, prayer meeting, small groups. Not enough evangelistic outreach programs. Not enough outreach to the poor and needy. Not enough programs that connect and care for the people in the church.
  • Issues with the Sunday morning event: Sermon too long, too dry, too meaty, not enough Scripture, too boring. Music too loud, too fast, too slow, too repetitive, wrong style, or don't like to sing at all.
  • Issues with the teachings, doctrinal positions, and emphasis on certain viewpoints.
  • Issues with the organization: question organization structure, issues with decisions made, issues with organizational personnel choices.

However some of this frustration can disappear when we change our way of thinking about what church is, and what church isn't.

According to the New Testament:
  • Church is not a building.
  • Church is not an event.
  • Church is not about the programs. 
  • Church is not defined by a statement of faith, or core values.
  • Church is not a human managed organization.
When I look at the uses of the term church ekklesia  in the New Testament, I see two ways it can be used.

Church can simply mean the people, the body of believers, wherever and whenever. For example in Acts 8:1 persecution broke out against the church in Jerusalem. We know there were over 3000 believers in Jerusalem, and they met in various places.  I believe the term church in this case is best translated as 'all believers' in Jerusalem.

Church can also mean an assembly or gathering of people.  The word ekklesia was used outside of Christianity in reference to different types of gatherings. It was used when referring to the assembly of men during the beginnings of democracy in ancient Athens.

So when I think of church as the people who follow Christ, and whenever they get together, the frustrations listed above fade away.   Those things are not what church is about.

People can be frustrating too... but that's a different story. :)



Related Posts:

Monday, March 4, 2013

Jogging With Others

I went jogging last night with some friends.  If it wasn't for the invitation to join them, I likely would have stayed on the couch.  Even though the roads and sidewalks are a bit slippery this time of year, it was good to get out for that jog.

I have always thought I was a decent jogger.  I recall being the best runner at my high school.  But that was a few years ago, and I was a few pounds lighter.  In recent years, my body can't go as far as my mind thinks it can.

I wonder if I should join a running Club.

Joining a running club has some benefits.

  • you start identifying yourself as being a runner
  • running with others encourages you to get better at running
  • running with others is safer - if there are injuries or falls there is someone to help you out
  • source of running knowledge about best practices
  • source of knowledge about best places and times to run
  • source for tips about technique  
  • information about local races or challenges
  • anything that encourages you to run regularly helps keep you in shape

I sometimes like running alone. But I do understand the benifits of running with others.  And there are some benifits with making some commitment to a running club.

But not just any running club would do for me.  For example I would be turned off if the running club had a lot of paperwork to fill out to join. I would be turned off I was was expected to sit through a lot of meetings, and join different commitees related to the jogging community.  I would be turned off if I had to sit through a weekly meeting where some professional runner gave a lecture about how to jog.  I would get suspicious if the jogging club asked for 10% of my income so it could build a bigger jogging club facility, and hire more professional runners as staff.  I wouldn't like it if some running clubs fought with other running clubs about who was better, trying to steal members from each others clubs.

Yes, running with others is better than running alone.  And there is nothing wrong with joining a running club.  I guess for me a running club should be primarily about helping each member run better whatever races they are aiming to be a part of.

The more I think of it, the less structure the better. Personally, I'm happy just getting together with a few guys now and then to run together.

I think back to my high school races again. Twice at province wide races I ended up making a wrong turn because I wasn't running close enough to others.  I still have regrets about running the wrong direction for just a minute (downhill) and ruining my chances at an honorable finish.  I wish I had been running with others at those moments of those races.

As usual I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Related Posts:


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Levites Priests and Elders

In the Old Testament the Levites and Priests were responsible for the running of the Temple.

Throughout the Old Testament we also see many references to Elders.  Elders had a recognized role in the Jewish community.  They were older men with experience that the community respected and relied on for guidance. Here are a few references: Exodus 3:18, Leviticus 9:1-4, Deuteronomy 31:9, Joshua 8:33, 2 Samuel 19:11, 1 Kings 8:3, Jeremiah 29:1, Ezekiel 7:26.

However the elders in the Old Testament did not manage or run the Temple. They were not the religious authorities.

The New Testament church believes that their own bodies are the temple of God (Acts 17:24, 1 Corinthians 3:16, 1 Pet 2:5, 1 Corinthians 6:19, 2 Corinthians 6:16, Ephesians 2:19-22).

The New Testament church believes that all believers are a new type of priest. (1 Pet 2:5, 1 Pet 2:9 ).

So it makes sense that in the New Testament church we don't see a continuation of the titles of Levites and Priests.

As the church expanded into non-Jewish communities, older respected men were recognized as elders in these new communities as well. 

By using the term elder, I believe the writers of the New Testament had a different role in mind that what we tend to see today.  There is no evidence these elders were responsible for religious buildings, church programs, church organizational policy, or church staff.  There is no evidence they were elected for a limited term, and then became non-elder laity again a few years later. 

What is my point?  I don't know. I guess I find it interesting how the meanings of terms we use change over time.

I believe the role of elders is important, and it makes sense to study what the Bible has to say on the topic.  Consider who are the older respected people in your life.  Recognize who they are. Go to them for advice and guidance. Let them influence you.  And at some stage in life you may play the role of elder to others in your community.

I know this is a brief summary.  I'd love to hear any feedback.

Related Posts:


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Children of the Kingdom

I am continuing my series on the secrets of the kingdom, taking a look today at  Mark 10:13-16 (NIV)

"People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them.  When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “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.”  And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them."

Why do you think Jesus would say such things?

Is it that some of us think we are more important than others? In many work environments it may be true.  Some people will be in positions of authority over others. In difference circles of influence it may also be true.

But in the kingdom of God it doesn't seem so. In this world you may be the king or president of a great nation, a CEO of a large company, or the leader of some organization... but we see Jesus saying that anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it. 

Why would Jesus say this? I think kingdoms work best when there is only one king. If somebody wants to join the kingdom of God, but also want to be in charge somehow... it's just not going to work out well.

I'm sorry, but if you want to be a king in the kingdom of God, it seems like there is no room in the kingdom for you. That position has already been filled.

Children are welcome. There is always more room for children of the King. 

 Related Posts:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Plugging In and Fitting In

A conversation I had with a brother recently got me thinking about stories in a book Finding Church that I am reading. In the book, a number of different people share their stories of looking for church, finding problems with each church, and moving on and looking elsewhere.  I know many people who have similar stories, moving from church to church. For a time they feel like they have found a home church, later to discover something is missing.  Some of them eventually give up and stop looking for the church that best fits their needs. Some settle on a church community but are not really satisfied, others give up and quit 'going' to church.

There are many different reasons people leave churches and go looking for church elsewhere.

I think I recognize a common desire in most of these stories. People often want to feel like they belong and fit into a church community. 

Many Christians struggle with this need of belonging. It could be because people are encouraged to 'fit in' by 'plugging in' and serving in some church program.  After visiting for a few weeks, if someone wants to belong, the first step is often to find some ministry where they can volunteer and contribute. In some cases serving side by side with others does build relationships. However for others it doesn't work out that way.  After a few years of working side by side with others, some people still don't really feel like family. For whatever reason, some people will form stronger relationships than others.

A problem with this could be that churches often focus on plugging into programs - and simply hope that relationships will form.



What if people were encouraged to plug into church by building relationships first?

If church was viewed primarily as believers, and whenever they get together - a primary focus of the church could be building relationships with each other whenever we get together - to build each other up to become more like Christ, and encourage each other to go and share Christ with others.

If you take an honest look at the church of the New Testament, you should notice that relationships come before programs.  There isn't much mention of church programs.  But there is a strong emphasis on the 'one another' relational aspects of gathering together as the church.

So here is my suggestion for those that feel like you don't fit in with a community of believers.  Focus on what you can do in terms of the 'one another' commands we see in Scripture.  Plug in by building some relationships and see if things change.

Advice for those that do fit in with a community of believers but are concerned about those that don't.  Focus on what you can do in terms of the 'one another' commands we see in Scripture.  Instead of encouraging fringe people to fill a ministry need, take the time to build a relationship with them.  Take whatever opportunity you can to encourage others to become more like Christ.

Related Posts:



Monday, February 11, 2013

If I Become The Next Pope

With the current Pope resigning, I thought I'd put some thoughts together just in case I am selected as the next Pope.  If I was the Pope, and had the power to direct the church, what would I do?


  1. I would make a decree banning all Christian denominations. All followers of Christ would be instructed to recognize that there is only one church.
  2. I would hold a mass ordination where all Christ followers would be ordained as priests.  Imagine how much could be accomplished by encouraging the priesthood of all believers.
  3. I would lay off all employee's of the church.  With millions of new priests volunteering their time and lives, it wouldn't be necessary to pay some.
  4. I would sell all church property, and distribute the money raised to the poor.
  5. I would make a decree that Jesus is the only head of His church.
  6. I would then resign. 



What would be left after I destroyed what the church has worked so hard to create and maintain?  The vision I have is that the church would return to the way it was in the early days - before the days of church buildings, special staff, and special programs.  The church would be scattered back into the world - to work together, care for others, and share Jesus with those outside the church.  

I recognize that the Pope does not have influence over the other 30,000+ denominations out there.  But I suspect if the Catholic church took these steps of reform - many other reformers would follow. 

Did I miss anything?  What would you do if you were Pope?

Related Posts:

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Do You Know Your Lusts of the Flesh

When you think about lusts of the flesh what do you think of?  I believe Galatians 5:16 - 21 has a list of different lusts of the flesh . I suspect we often reduce this list and ignore a few.

I'll start with the good old King James version since it translates epithymian as lust.  Side note: this Greek term often gets translated as desire, for example Jesus desired (or lusted) to eat passover in Luke 22:15.

Galatians 5:16 - 21 (KJV)
"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."

OK, there is quite the list here of desires or lusts of the flesh - things that are contrary to the fruit of the Spirit that are listed next in the popular Gal 5:22 - 23.

I want to highlight one that often gets overlooked when we think about lusts of the flesh.

In the KJV list we see listed heresies - from the greek haireseis.

Other translations go with terms like factions, divisions, sects, or schools of opinion in Gal 5:20. 


SECTS is a naughty lust of the flesh. 

I dare you to speak this truth the next time you are with a bunch of Christians.  Then spell it out because I'm pretty sure you'll be misunderstood. :)

We have a natural human tendency to be divisive.  A simple look at church history and the 40,000+ Christian denominations, sects and factions is proof enough.  This is not the work of the Spirit - it is contrary to the fruit of the Spirit which includes love, peace, patience, and meekness.

Related Posts:

  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Image of Bridge

This isn't a 'normal' post.  But I feel like I should post it... so crazy or not here it is. 

An image came to my minds eye as I was praying yesterday. 

I saw a grand old bridge. It was made of concrete. In the distance it had a structure with an archway... it may have been in the center of the bridge.

I was standing on land on one side of the bridge looking down the road that crossed the bridge.

I felt that the bridge was in some way bridging the gap between the ancient church and the present church.

I saw people coming along the bridge towards me. They looked like they were in a hurry. They looked like they were moving quickly, but making slow progress. Like jogging on the spot. They may have been riding horses. It was a mob. They were not dressed well. They were dirty. They were in such a rush that they were pushing each other and many of them were falling off the bridge. It was as if the bridge was not large enough for all of them.

I wanted to turn and see where they were going. I wanted to see what was behind me, but I couldn't turn around.

But I know once they make it across the bridge there would be plenty of room. Freedom for everyone to move without getting in each others way.

I'm not certain why this image came into my minds eye, if it has a meaning, or what it is.

I suspect the bridge is the structures of church that has carried the people of the church from ancient times until now.

If that was the bride of Christ, it wasn't a pretty sight.  But I sense God is still at work and better things are yet to come.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Most Efficient Leadership Structure

"I am convinced that top-down structures of leadership are unquestionably more efficient -- efficient in doing almost everything than equipping, which is the primary task of leadership. "
(David Black - http://www.daveblackonline.com/what_does_a_new_testament_church.htm)


What do you think of this quote?

In terms of government systems, I have often heard that dictatorships or single party systems are more efficient than multiparty systems. Some of the most efficient countries in history have had a strong top-down leadership structure. I think the same goes for companies and other institutions.

There are drawbacks of course. I am glad I don't live in Nazi Germany or a single party country like China. Strong top-down leadership structures often do not value freedom of speech when your views are different than that of the leaders.

What is the primary task of leadership?

I guess it depends. In the case of a corporation that produces widgets, efficiency may be the top goal, and a strong top-down leadership structure may help produce the most widgets.


However, when talking about the church, the assembling of believers, what is the purpose of leadership?

If the goal is to run excellent programs a top-down leadership structure is likely what you want.

I believe the goal of gathering with other believers is to build one another up to become more like Christ. I believe Ephesians 4:7-16 speaks to this:
"But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says:
“When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.”
(What does “he ascended” mean except that he also descended to the lower, earthly regions? He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.) It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work."(NIV)

I suspect this building up of one another is best accomplished in mutual relationships.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Related Posts:

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Playdough Scripture Matt 5:34 - 37

"But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one. But you can swear on the Bible that contains these instructions."

(Matt 5:34 - 37 Playdough Version)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Following Jesus and Following Christianity

Lately a recurring thought of mine has been that I simply want to follow Jesus.  There are so many different ideas, traditions and groups that I could follow.  Many of these people are good people with good intentions. It can get complicated.

I wonder if there is sometimes differences between simply following Jesus and following Christianity?


I suspect for many Christians there is overlap. I struggle with this post as I don't want to sound judgmental. I suspect many people follow Jesus as they follow Christianity.  I used to be one of them. I don't believe any of us have it all figured out, there is a lot of mystery in this to me, and I believe God's grace is sufficient.

But as I try to sort out what it means for me to simply follow Jesus I am considering some possible distinctions.  

Following Christianity Following Christ
serving God typically means serving in some church program or Christian organization serving God will mean serving wherever and whenever God directs, it may look different for each of us
is concerned with understanding and agreeing to beliefs about God and Jesusis concerned with getting to know Christ personally and following Him
is concerned with fitting in by conforming to how other Christians live and/or how they want us to liveis concerned with conforming to the image of Christ
is concerned with making more converts to Christianity and members of a churchis concerned with introducing people to Christ
involves following some other people who have placed themselves in positions between you and God, claiming some authority over youinvolves following Christ personally, and includes some mutual relationships with other Christ followers that build each other up to become more like Christ
includes sectarianism and divisiveness as there are so many different brands of Christianity - so many different groups to followrecognizes that all who follow Christ are Christ followers
is submitting to something managed by menis submitting to God.


It is often OK to follow the example and teachings of other Christians, but I think this warning may sometimes apply to us today:

"Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees" (Matt 16:6)


Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)
"Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."


I am finding a new freedom as I simply want to follow Jesus.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Related Posts: