Why do Christians love the Bible so much? There are many answers, but let’s not forget this crucial reason: individual Christians have not always had the Scripture!
For centuries only spiritual leaders could access the Bible. This arrangement made God’s people vulnerable when leadership did not follow God’s heart. The courage and sacrifices of John Wycliffe (1328-1384), William Tyndale (1494-1536) and their ministry partners left us an incomparable gift – the Scripture in English. Read their stories some time.
As you pick your Bible to read in 2019, remember that the ability to read Scripture in your native language was very costly. Whatever we appreciate becomes valuable to us. Let us approach Scripture reading with deep appreciation.
We get to do this!
I am so glad to be preaching at CIL on Trinity Sunday – May 27. We have such a wonderful faith passed down to us, but it is more than a tradition, culture, or preference. We worship a God with a distinct, unique personality. We worship a God that is personally close to us, and still sometimes hard to understand.
What a mystery.
What a challenge.
What a need for spiritual revelation.
Christians have wrestled with who God is from the beginning, and for centuries have agreed that the term Trinity encapsulates the answer to the many debates, councils and consensus of interpretation. The understanding of the Trinity has protected our faith.
As we celebrate, declare, and worship the Trinity this Sunday …
“May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” – 2 Corinthians 13:14
I preached on Sunday an important theological message called The “Already, Not Yet” Kingdom of God. The points of my sermon are as follows:
The kingdom of God is the reign of God
Matthew 24:13-14, Acts 8:12, 19:8, 28:23
The kingdom is “not yet” fully here
Matthew 25:31-34, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
The kingdom is “already” here when the future reign of God breaks into the present
Matthew 12:28, 10:5-8, 16:18-19, Romans 14:17
This is not a concept I made up, as many evangelicals today hold to this perspective. George Ladd of Fuller Seminary introduced this concept in a 1964 book now called The Presence of the Future. John Wimber popularized this when leading the Vineyard movement, and the Vineyard churches still hold to this statement as a theological beacon. I discovered this concept in Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology text, which is one of the more influential theology books among evangelicals in the last twenty-five years.
Let me give a short, practical application of “already, not yet” concept. God still moves experientially through salvation, deliverance, healing, a manifestation of His presence, and reviving the church (among other things!). When those types of experiences happen, the future reign of God breaks into the present. These experiences are not anything we can control, but as we are faithful to God He “breaks in” by His sovereign will.
Therefore, we will pray and believe for the miraculous. However, we will not try to control God (as if we could) through demands, special phrases or projecting our expectations upon His will. Instead, we need to submit our expectations to His will.
To hear the sermon, take a listen here:
In the early 1990’s I attended a seeker church for the first time, and loved it! This church was reaching my friends, impacting our city, and presenting the message of Jesus in a fresh way. As a high school student who had grown up in church, this seeker church invigorated my faith and passion for Jesus. In those days, “seeker church” was not a dirty word.
Then, pastors discovered the seeker church movement in the 2000s, and it has been a downhill slide for the American evangelical church ever since. Instead of transformational art in church that attracts non-Christians, duplication has produced a bad imitation of culture on Sunday morning platforms. In my opinion, a lot of the cultural imitation churches now practice actually repels more non-believers than attracts them.
More disturbing than the bad programming is that Christians now expect church to be entertaining. The intent behind the seeker church movement was not to entertain Christians, but to engage non-Christians who found church irrelevant. Some churches still do the seeker-model well, but most do not.
Looking beyond what is happening inside the church, culture has changed so much in America over the last 25 years, that seeker churches are no longer relevant to Millennials and many Gen Xers (some Baby Boomers still enjoy hearing Journey cover songs in church). I believe the seeker-model was generally effective from 1975 when Willow Creek was launched until the September 11th era began. We fundamentally changed as a people after 9/11.
Superficial entertainment still has its place in our culture, but not in the church. When considering church, believers and non-believers both want sacred space each week to find meaning for their life. Relevancy is over. People are not looking for a relevant message, but a transformational message. I thank God for the impact the seeker church had on my life, but it is no longer 1992.
We are in such a hurry. I am so glad God is patient.
The patience of the Lord appears many times in Scripture, but I was impacted by this concept recently while reading 2 Peter chapter three.
People were growing impatient with the delay of the Lord’s return, even scoffing at the concept (see 2 Peter 3:3-4).
To impatient people, the Spirit wrote through Peter:
8 Dear friends, don’t let this one thing escape you: With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. 9 The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance. – 2 Peter 3:8-9 (HCSB)
God is patient by withholding His judgement.
God is patient when we are rebellious to His will.
God is patient with our slow development into Christ-like character.
God is patient with me.
I am so glad God is patient.