Posts Tagged Jesus

The Bible’s Not About You

Using a clip from Tim Keller’s talk at the 2007 TGC conference, Heath McPherson created using the art of Gustave Doré (1832-1883):

Jesus is the true and better Adam who passed the test in the garden and whose obedience is imputed to us.

Jesus is the true and better Abel who, though innocently slain, has blood now that cries out, not for our condemnation, but for acquittal.

Jesus is the true and better Abraham who answered the call of God to leave all the comfortable and familiar and go out into the void not knowing wither he went to create a new people of God.

Jesus is the true and better Isaac who was not just offered up by his father on the mount but was truly sacrificed for us. And when God said to Abraham, “Now I know you love me because you did not withhold your son, your only son whom you love from me,” now we can look at God taking his son up the mountain and sacrificing him and say, “Now we know that you love us because you did not withhold your son, your only son, whom you love from us.”

Jesus is the true and better Jacob who wrestled and took the blow of justice we deserved, so we, like Jacob, only receive the wounds of grace to wake us up and discipline us.

Jesus is the true and better Joseph who, at the right hand of the king, forgives those who betrayed and sold him and uses his new power to save them.

Jesus is the true and better Moses who stands in the gap between the people and the Lord and who mediates a new covenant.

Jesus is the true and better Rock of Moses who, struck with the rod of God’s justice, now gives us water in the desert.

Jesus is the true and better Job, the truly innocent sufferer, who then intercedes for and saves his stupid friends.

Jesus is the true and better David whose victory becomes his people’s victory, though they never lifted a stone to accomplish it themselves.

Jesus is the true and better Esther who didn’t just risk leaving an earthly palace but lost the ultimate and heavenly one, who didn’t just risk his life, but gave his life to save his people.

Jesus is the true and better Jonah who was cast out into the storm so that we could be brought in.

Jesus is the real Rock of Moses, the real Passover Lamb, innocent, perfect, helpless, slain so the angel of death will pass over us. He’s the true temple, the true prophet, the true priest, the true king, the true sacrifice, the true lamb, the true light, the true bread.

The Bible’s really not about you—it’s about him.

HT: Justin Taylor

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A Fresh Look at Mission

One of the first books that began to reshape my understanding of the church’s role in culture was Mark Driscoll’s The Radical Reformission: Reaching Out Without Selling Out. I wanted to share an excerpt from it, as I think it has some helpful ideas as we consider what it means to “embody the message and mission of Jesus in every place he sends us.”

I’m also excited about Mike and Val Kelley’s Community Group that will be meeting this summer and working through this book (click here for more info on this summer’s groups).

In the book, Driscoll coins the phrase “reformission,” which he then defines like this:

A radical call to reform the church’s traditionally flawed view of missions as something carried out only in foreign lands and to focus instead on the urgent need in our own neighborhoods, which are filled with diverse cultures of Americans who desperately need the gospel of Jesus and life in his church.

One of my favorite excerpts comes from the third chapter, “Shotgun Weddings to Jesus”:

In reformission evangelism, people are called to come and see the transformed lives of God’s people before they are called to repent of sin and to trust in God. Taking a cue from dating is helpful on this point. If we desire people to be happily married to Jesus as his loving bride, it makes sense to let them go out on a few dates with him instead of just putting a shotgun to their heads and asking them to hurry up, put on a white dress, and try to look happy for the photos.

Reformission evangelism understands that the transformed lives of people in the church are both the greatest argument for, and the greatest explanation of, the gospel. Therefore, it welcomes non-Christians into the church, not so much through evangelistic programs as through informal relationships like Jesus developed with his first disciples. In our church in Seattle, as lost people become friends with Christians, they often get connected to various ministries (for example, helping to run concerts, helping to guide a rock-climbing expedition, taking a class on biblical marriage, helping to develop a website, joining a Bible study, serving the needy) and participate in them before they possess saving faith. In this way, reformission evangelism depends on friendship and hospitality as conduits to the gospel.

As trust is earned over time, lost people will often speak with their Christian friends about “our church” before they speak about “our God.” Often they first convert to the church and friendships with its members, and second to God, whom they meet in their friendships and experiences in the church. For example, a woman in our church who knows that she is not a Christian asked if she could host a Bible study in her home and have someone else teach it, because she enjoyed the people in “our church” so much that she was excited to have them in her home.

Reformission evangelism considers it vital that lost people be brought close enough to witness the natural and practical outworking of the gospel in people’s lives. Reformission Christians are not ashamed of the gospel, and they speak about Jesus and pray to him in front of their lost friends as they would around their Christian friends; and their lost friends appreciate their authenticity. Their lost friends are comfortable asking them questions about the Christian life, and these reformission Christians have earned the right to give answers as a result of their friendships and hospitality.

At some point, God may grant saving faith to their lost friends and enable them to pass from death to life, but their salvation is ultimately between them and God, as he alone gives salvation. The precise moment of their conversion is known by God, but it is often unknown to them, because authentic conversion is experienced more as a process than as a single moment. Ultimately, what matters most is not when they meet Jesus but that at some point they begin loving him with new hearts and will continue to do so forever.

One of the most fascinating aspects of reformission evangelism is that lost people actually function as missionaries themselves before their conversion. Lost people commonly speak with lost family and friends of what they are learning about Jesus, even inviting them to church and introducing them to their Christian friends. Hence, reformission evangelism is careful not to sever lost people or new Christians from their tribe of lost friends because those relationships present further opportunities for evangelism. The only exception would be if those relationships were causing someone to fall back into habitual sin.

What stands out to you from that excerpt? What do you agree or disagree with?

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True Servanthood

This Sunday we’ll be exploring one of the most forceful passages of Scripture that describe our new identities as servants. What I’ve realized through studying and preparing is that it’s important that we see servanthood as an identity more than as an action. In other words, we don’t just serve — we are servants.

Consider the following teaching taken from our Membership Packet on servanthood:

1. The essence of being a follower of Jesus is to become more and more like him.
This is the goal of sanctification, which Wayne Grudem defines as, “A progressive work of both God and man that makes Christians more and more free from sin and more and more like Christ in their actual lives.”

Romans 8:28-29 – And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

Luke 6:40 – A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.

2. One could make a strong biblical case that the essence of Christlikeness is being a servant.

Mark 10:45 – For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ran-som for many.”

John 13:12-17 – When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

3. Not only did Jesus serve, but he had the heart of a servant. He thought like a servant.

4. Servants think more about others than themselves.
This is true humility: not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less. They are self-forgetful. When we stop focusing on our own needs, we become aware of the needs around us…We can measure our servant’s heart by how we respond when others treat us like servants. How do you react when you’re taken for granted, bossed around, or treated as inferior?

5. Servants base their identity in Christ.
Because they remember they are loved and accepted by grace, servants don’t have to prove their worth. They willingly accept jobs that insecure people would consider “beneath” them. The more insecure you are, the more you will want people to serve you, and the more you will need their approval. When you base your worth and identity on your relationship to Christ, you are freed from the expectations of others, and that allows you to really serve them best.

6. Servants think of ministry as an opportunity, not an obligation.

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Rejoicing in the Cross

This past Sunday, we took a Journey to the Cross which culminated in reading the story of the crucifixion of Jesus and making a few observations (listen here).

Here were some of the observations we made. Take a moment and rejoice (again!) in the love of Christ for you.

  1. Jesus received the robe of mockery so that we could receive the robe of righteousness.
  2. Jesus could have saved himself and lost his people. Instead he lost himself and saved his people.
  3. Jesus offers radical grace to those who have no hope without him and no opportunity to repay him.
  4. Jesus was forsaken by his Father so that we could be adopted by the Father.
  5. Jesus’ sacrifice rips open access to the presence of God.
  6. Jesus, the truly innocent one, was crucified so that we, the truly guilty ones, could be forgiven.

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Would you die for Jesus? How do you know?

Steve Timmis, co-author of Total Church and Western Europe Acts 29 Director, recently posted a series of tweets on laying down your life for Jesus his thoughts are worth sharing. These are in the order that he wrote them.

  • How can I be sure I would lay down my life for sake of Jesus & the gospel? Perhaps I’ll be like Peter in his bravado and subsequent denial?
  • Can’t ultimately be sure until I’m called on to do so. But there are indicators in what I am reluctant to give up…
  • If I’m not prepared to give up my bed to go and serve someone, I can be fairly confident I won’t give up my life…
  • If I refuse to give up a holiday abroad so I can support someone in gospel ministry, I can be fairly confident I won’t give up my life…
  • If I’m not willing to pursue people who are different from me in order to bless them, I can be fairly certain I won’t give up my life…
  • If I’m not prepared to miss out on promotion so I can stay & help plant churches, I can be fairly certain I won’t give up my life…
  • If I’m not prepared to jeopardise a friendship so that I can tell others about Christ, I can be fairly certain I won’t give up my life.
  • “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Jesus Christ

Which of these stand out the most to you?

HT: Acts29 Blog

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Set Your Mind on Christ Challenge – Day 6

Well, the challenge has come to an end. I hope it was as refreshing for your heart as it was for mine. And, if you made it all the way through, congratulations! Be sure to leave your comments on what you learned today (Luke 22-24), as well as from this whole experience.

Observations:

  • Jesus does not see any conflict between the absolute sovereignty of God that determines things to take place and the human responsibility of people to do what is right (22:22).
  • At the very end of his ministry, Jesus is still teaching his disciples that greatness in his kingdom is defined differently than the world. They, like us, seem to be slow learners (22:26). [This is also an encouragement in ministry that you need to say the same things over and over and it will take many people a long time to get it]
  • Jesus has obvious love for his disciples (22:28-30, 32).
  • Jesus’ death is a fulfillment of Scripture and prophecy (22:37).
  • Jesus surrenders to his Father’s will (22:42).
  • Even those who are strongest and closest to Jesus will still have times of profound failure (22:60-62).
  • Jesus, the true King of Kings, is mocked as though he weren’t king at all. Ironic (23:11).
  • Jesus was not guilty (23:22).
  • Jesus is willing to forgive even those who are unjustly killing him (23:34).
  • Grace is amazing, undeserved, and available to even the most surprising people (23:39-43).
  • Jesus saw the whole of Scripture pointing to himself (24:27) [Wouldn’t you love to have a recording of that conversation?!?!]
  • Jesus rose with a real, tangible, able-to-eat-fish, physical body (24:39-43).
  • Jesus sends his people out with a message: “repentance and forgiveness of sins” (24:47).

How would I be different if this truth were explosively alive in my innermost being?

  • I would be thankful, humble, and eager to follow the Savior into any path of suffering or difficulty for the sake of others. His grace is awesome, in every conceivable way. I would also be assured of our victory in Jesus and bold to live out of the strength and power he supplies.

What about you? How is God using this passage in your life? Questions or Comments?

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Set Your Mind on Christ Challenge – Day 5

Well, we’re coming down the home stretch! Those of you that are still with us, congratulations — don’t let up now! We’d still love to get your comments and thoughts on what you’ve learned in Luke 17-21.

A resource that you might find helpful related to chapter 18 is this excellent Modern Parable video, “The Widow and the Judge.”

Observations:

  • Leading others into sin is one of the worst things a person could do (17:2).
  • Jesus views obedience as a normal and expected part of life (17:10).
  • Jesus knows that real life doesn’t consist of the temporary pleasures of life (17:33).
  • Jesus views prayer as a natural part of what it means to be the elect (18:7) and the evidence of whether we have faith (18:8).
  • Jesus never minimizes the cost of following him (18:18-30).
  • Jesus sees radical repentance as evidence of salvation (19:9).
  • Jesus expects his people to bear fruit until he comes again (19:11-27).
  • If we don’t worship Jesus, the natural creation will (19:40).
  • Jesus teaching was irresistibly engaging — “all the people were hanging on his words” (19:48).
  • Jesus fearlessly speaks against those he knows are seeking to destroy him (20:9-19).
  • Jesus is wise and refuses to get trapped by the crafty evil of his opponents (20:20-26).
  • Jesus is thrilled when we give out of our poverty. Sacrificial generosity most reflects his character (21:4).
  • Jesus is coming back. Get ready! (21:25-36).

How would I be different if this truth were explosively alive in my innermost being?

  • If I believed that Jesus was coming back at any moment, I would live with a greater sense of urgency and desire for radical holiness (That is actually what the focus of our upcoming Advent season will be). As Jonathan Edwards once resolved, “Resolved, never to do anything, which I should be afraid to do, if it were the last hour of my life.”

What about you? How is God using this passage in your life? Questions or Comments?

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