Category: Theology


Too often we get so wrapped up in our own importance we forget that we are not the solution. My knowledge, my strength, my culture, or my will power is not enough for myself let alone anyone else. “When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Luke 2:16-17) Christ lived among the sick, he walked beside them, reaching out to them at their level. We can learn a lot from his approach and how he loved his neighbors.

Too often we in the church think we are the solution and forget that Christ is the solution. He is the reason why we do the things we do. We serve not because it earns merit or favor but because he served us first when we didn’t deserve it, when we were sick. We serve not to be cured but because we are cured. God has been reminding me of this over and over again the last few months, from the video above, a buddies sermon, friends, my kids, and through the people I have the privilege of serving at work. Christ came, died, was resurrected, and will return, not for the righteous but for those who are sick. Stop trying to be the cure and start offering the one true cure.

around the hospital Nov 3

Will you offer the one real cure to those around you who are sick?

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“The distance between the cradle and the cross is slight”
Reverend Terry Lee

 

Over the Advent season at church we have been looking at the words of Isaiah and reminded that even though we celebrate the birth and resurrection at different times in the year they are not that far a part. Together they are the fulfilled of God’s plan to rescue the lost. Over the last few months I have not really blogged, I left part way through a series I was putting together on the two kingdoms of the already and not yet. The last few months have been some of the most stressful I have ever experienced and through this time have had many
already but not yet moments. This series has reminded me that many parts of this world remain broken and that there is something more, something eternal that needs fixing.

nativity

Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7
 

 

Part of the sermon today Pastor Terry looked at how Christ fulfilled the promise of being the prince of peace when the world seems to be so broken. The world is broken, we see that all over the news, in our homes, at our jobs, but the peace Isaiah is looking at is something more, something eternal. The world is not our enemy, God is. Our relationship was broken when man bit into the forbidden fruit in the garden. The peace that Christ brings now is peace with God. Through Christ we are reconciled to Him (Colossians 1:19-22).

This Christmas don’t forget that the baby that came from God also went to the cross for our sins.

1 John 4:16 says that “God is Love,” that is, the very essence, or substance (the ousia), of God is love. Extending through all eternity, the Father has a relationship of superabundant love with the Son, and the Son with the Spirit, and the Spirit with the Father: Father, Son, and Spirit, sharing a perfect love…The love is the substance. God is not merely a God who loves, he is the God who is love, whose very being consists of the eternal love between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Accreditation Helps by Ben Elliott – page 10

Available through Amazon.ca

 

The already and the not yet, it is easy for Christians to expect everything to be perfect now, however that is never seen in scripture. “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5.45). This Two Kingdoms series will examine three of the different areas within it: burdens, culture, and sin.

Part 1 – The Light Burden

“ Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Via the Gospel Project

Christ never promised to take away the burdens of this life or that as a follower you would never have to work. He did say that you would find rest in him and that the burdens will be made easy. The work you do in his name will never be in vain (1 Corinthians 15.59). We look for ways to make this life easy and carefree however this was never what God planned for us. The great rescue plan does not end with health and wealth for those who believe. The burdens that drag us all down will be around us until that glorious day when Christ returns. The great rescue plan ends with the re-creation of this world, restoring it and us to paradise.

Christ our strength

The burden does not change however the source of our strength to endure does. Christians are diagnosed with cancer, bones break, jobs are lost, mortgages foreclose, and our feelings get hurt. A C&MA International Worker visiting my church once said “God is not a pill that makes all your problems go away but he will never leave you!” (The Great Omission). These burdens are not due to a lack of faith, but serve as a reminder that we are not home yet.  Our strength does not come from within or even from around us, but from above.  “The Lord is their strength, and He is a saving defense to His anointed” (Ps. 28.8). Can you still worship God in times of burden?

Worship in our Burdens

With our strength coming from above rather than from within one is freed from being trapped by the burdens that engulf us all. That is something to marvel at and worship God for. As one of my pastors stated recently during a sermon “Followers of Christ follow Christ”. We must remember that God’s Word shows us how to worship him and what is acceptable in worship to him. We see a clear example of true worship and false worship with Cain and Able. One brings a pleasing offering to the Lord and the other only brings what he desires to give. We also see the good and the bad when the Israelites were at Mount Sinai after being rescued from Egypt. Richard Elliott Friedman in his Commentary on the Torah explains that Exodus 32:1 shows that “Less than forty days earlier they heard the divine voice itself say that God brought them out of Egypt, but, like the wine steward and Joseph’s Pharaoh, they still focus on the human rather than on the deity”. We can worship God despite burdens because our eyes are on Jesus the deity, not on ourselves, and it is his strength that gets us through. The Psalms are clear examples of this as well. When we are struck with sorrow, pain, and depression we lift our eyes to heaven and we are free. Where do you turn? Inward on you or outward to God?

 

The sun comes up, it’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

 
And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore
 
~ 10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman 2011

Where do you find your strength?

10,000 Reasons by Matt Redman on Vimeo.

Erwin McManus is a name I recognize as an influential speaker in the Evangelical church, however until this last week I have not really read or heard any of his work. It started with the sermon he gave at Centre Street Church (watch here) and then I watched his documentary Crave Calgary. After listening and watching I was left with a few questions and a little disappointed. I don’t want to assume that what I heard and saw was intentionally selling the Gospel short nor do I believe that McManus intended for it to be sold short. Too often today we take sound bits of people out of context and say they believe something that they don’t actually believe. I would love to sit down with a venti 1/2 sweet stirred white mocha, ask him to clear up some points and thank him for others.

Where is scripture? At some point you must cross over into Christian language. Scripture is the Word of God and as a believer or someone looking into why not go to the source instead of someone else’s paraphrase of scripture.  Present a scripture without the reference you would be amazed at how people agree with it even if they are resistant or hostile to anything God related.

The video does not seem to offer answers to the misconceptions and ideas that go against scripture. I will give it the assumption that the documentary has been designed to open the discussion however the website questions don’t go much deeper. In the book’s introduction he says “Jesus once said the kingdom of God is within us. Yet most of us even bother to explore the possibility that this might be true. It seems that what he is implying that it is that we have a better chance finding God in the universe within us than the one that surrounds us.” He was referencing Luke 17.21 which feels horribly out of context and the reference is not given. Matthew Henry describes “that the kingdom of the Messiah was to be a spiritual kingdom,and not temporal and external”(1) . The Reformation Study Bible also points to this idea saying “the kingdom of God is within you. That is, the kingdom is present as an inner reality, something hidden in people’s hearts (cf. Rom. 14:17). Translating “in your midst” (text note) would point to the presence of the kingdom in the person of Jesus” (2). McManus’ line of thinking seems to open a door to thinking that I have the power with in me to overcome my issues. How would he defend from this?

~
11 While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 13 and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “ Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. 15 Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, 16 and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 18 Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”
20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst [Or within you].”
~
The documentary is also very me-centered instead of Christ-centered. The views shown are grounded in what the culture is seeking around us and even though it points towards God it falls short in delivering the Gospel truth that it is more about God’s glory than us. It leaves the Gospel on the ground and runs the risk of being idolatry as “it is still idolatry to want God for his benefits but not for himself” (3). This seems to undermine who God is and merely looks toward what he can offer me. This is the negative side of the seeker sensitive movement. Again I would like to ask about when do you go deeper than what God can offer? Is that even a good place to start since that encourages the consumer mentality we already have?

With the concerns explained I would move on to something I truly appreciate and think too often we get caught up in. The video can be viewed for  free online with the option to buy physical copies of the documentary (the books and study must be purchased as well). Gospel for Asia does the same thing but with all their material including books. That is something that I have come to have great respect for. If you claim to have insight about God it is because he revealed it to you and is for everyone not just for you to make money off of. I think this falls into the category of failing to love your brother (1 John 4.20) or as Paul says “What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel…I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.” (1 Corinthians 9.18 &23). Videos today tend to be primers or marketing tools for something else like a book or a study. However they also open doors to reach out to people who typically would not have the desire to engage in these types of conversations. I am thankful that there are people like McManus willing to push our typical ideas of church and culture to reach the lost with the Gospel.

Finally I would follow-up on the first question. He may not go as deep into the scripture as I feel is appropriate, but something that McManus does do is open dialogue about the idea that we need to learn to connect the language within the church with the language of the culture around us. He affirms the need for special language in his April 29, 2012 sermon at Centre Street Church but says we need to do a better job being able to bridge the language of everyday and with in the church. This is something so simple yet we fail so badly at it. Fields of science have their own terms, Religions have their own terms, kids have their own terms. When someone enters one of these new areas they need to learn all the special terms. Acronyms must be explained, concepts broken down into their simplest form. When we do this we become less accurate with their meaning however over time the knowledge to understand them more accurately grows. With that I would finish my white mocha, thank him for taking the time to have coffee with me, and go our separate ways.

In all reality if I had a chance to have this conversation I probably wouldn’t be able to ask any of these things and more likely would just sit and listen.

Footnotes

1) Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume (Lk 17:20). Peabody: Hendrickson.

2) Whitlock, L. G., Sproul, R. C., Waltke, B. K., & Silva, M. (1995). Reformation study Bible, the : Bringing the light of the Reformation to Scripture : New King James Version. Includes index. (Lk 17:21). Nashville: T. Nelson.

3) Matt Chandler, The Explicit Gospel, page40

4) Picture of DA Carson quote from The Explicit Gospel by Matt Chandler

Okotoks Alliance’s current summer sermon series

After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.
Judges 2:10

What are we showing our kids today? If we, as parents, are not willing to share our relationship with God with our children what then will they see as important in our lives, work, works, looking just so, sports, watching TV?

 
“If you are regularly prioritizing sport over the worship of God [our children] will get the message loud and clear concerning what is really important.”

~ Pastor Terry Lee – Experiencing God in the Mountains – The Showdown on Mt. Carmel

Watch the quote in the context of the point below or watch the entire sermon here on 1 Kings 18.

FACTS verses TULIPs

Today I found a great breakdown of the main differences in the views of Arminianism and Calvinism. A few different discussions I have had over the last couple months has really started me on a journey of thinking about what basic theological understanding is required for salvation.

 
One of the criminals hanging beside him scoffed, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!”
But the other criminal protested, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Luke 23:39-43

There is something very beautiful about this passage. The one thing this man sees is that he is sinful and Christ is not. No sinners prayer, no last-minute plea, just an acknowledgement of where he deserves to be and to be remembered. I had a professor that once went down a rabbit trail on the word remember, fascinating topic in scripture. Joseph asked the cup-bearer to remember him (Genesis 40), The psalms make a plea for God to remember his people, Jesus at the last supper states “do this to remember me” (Luke 22.19). Now I am on a trail of my own. Here is the article from the Society of Evangelical Arminians: An Outline of the FACTS of Arminianism vs. The TULIP of Calvinism, the full article starts the breakdown for each point.

ARMINIANISM

Arminianism may be represented by the acronym FACTS:

Freed by Grace (to Believe)
Atonement for All
Conditional Election
Total Depravity
Security in Christ

These points broadly and roughly correspond to the historic Articles of Remonstrance (though they are not specifically a representation of them), which were composed in July 1610 by early Arminians and constitute the first formal summary of Arminian theology. Article numbers have been indicated for each point for convenient comparison.

CALVINISM

The Calvinist position may be represented by the acronym TULIP:

Total Depravity
Unconditional Election
Limited Atonement
Irresistible Grace
Perseverance of the Saints

These are derived from the Synod of Dort, a local synod in Holland, which convened in 1618-1619 to contradict and condemn the Articles of Remonstrance.

Here is a great pdf chart of the 2 views and the basic breakdown of each point

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