2 Tim 3:16 (Playdough Version)
Playdough Scripture is great! You can squish and reshape it to fit into any box! Try it yourself! Fun for the whole family of God. :)
I've found myself wondering who my elders are.
If I look to my local church, there is a well defined group of elders who are chosen, and help our pastoral staff guide our local congregation.
But what if I'm trying to view church as Christ's church? What if I'm trying to look beyond the local group that meets in a specific place at specific times under a specific denomination?
What if I'm trying to view church as it is often described in the new testament as "The church at (city name here)?
Who would the elders of the church at my city be? I'm actually not sure. Unfortunately the Church in my city is so divided I doubt there would be any consensus as who the elders of the church are.
Then I ask, who do I view as elders, as I am part of Christ's church.
Do they need to be elected or appointed to be elders? Were all the elders in the OT and NT elected or appointed? I don't think so.
So who are the older, wise men who I fellowship with who give me wise council?
I can think of a few. Some are inside my local 'church' and others are outside my local 'church', but definitely part of the same body of Christ that I belong to.
Jesus wasn’t building an institution or an organization, but an efficient, flexible movement with the Gospel at the center and grace as the fuel.
The church Jesus left in history was more a “band of brothers (and sisters)” than an organization of programs and buildings.
The message at the heart of all Jesus said and did was the Kingdom of God, which implicitly included himself as King and the status of all the world as rebels in need of forgiveness and surrender.
The movement Jesus’ left behind was made up of the last, the lost, the least, the losers and the recently dead. The world would never recognize this Jesus shaped collection of nobodies as successful.
Jesus treated women, sexual sinners and notoriously scandalous sinners with inexplicable acceptance.
Jesus taught the message, power and presence of the Kingdom. He did not teach how to be rich, how to improve yourself, how to be a good person or how to be successful.
Jesus didn’t teach principles. He taught the presence of a whole new world where God reigns and all things are made right.
Jesus rejected the claims of organized religion to have an exclusive franchise on God, and embodied the proof that God was in the world by his Son and through his Spirit to whomever has faith in Jesus.
Jesus practiced radical acceptance in a way that was dangerous, upsetting and world-changing.
Jesus calls all persons to follow him as disciples in the Kingdom of God. This invitation doesn’t look identical to the experiences of the apostles, but the claims and commands of Jesus to his apostles extend to all Jesus-followers anywhere.
God is revealed in Jesus in a unique way. What God has to show us and to say to us is there in Jesus of Nazareth. All the fullness of God lives in him, and to be united to Jesus by faith is to have the fullness of all God’s promises and blessings.
Jesus didn’t talk much about how to get to heaven, and certainly never gave a “gospel presentation” like today’s evangelicals. Nor did he teach that any organization of earth controlled who goes to heaven.
Jesus never fought the culture war.
Jesus was political because the Kingdom of God is here now, but he was the opposite of the political mindset of his time as expressed in various parties and sects.
Jesus was radically simple in his spirituality.
Jesus was radically simple in his worship.
Jesus wasn’t an advocate of family values as much as he was a cause of family division.
Jesus fulfills the old testament scriptures completely, and they can not be rightly understood without him as their ultimate focus.
The only people Jesus was ever angry at was the clergy. He called out clergy corruption and demanded honesty and integrity from those who claimed to speak for God and lead his people.
Jesus embraced slavery and servanthood as the primary identifiers of the leaders of his movement.
Jesus didn’t waste his time with religious and doctrinal debates. He always moves to the heart of the matter. Love God, Love Neighbor, Live the Kingdom.
Jesus expected his disciples to get it, and was frustrated when they didn’t.
Jesus died for being a true revolutionary, proclaiming a Kingdom whose foundations are the City of God.
Does this sound like Jesus as you’ve encountered?
8:10 – 9:38
Everyone believes some exclusive truth claims. Some believe the exclusive truth claim that goes something like this "Nobody should push any exclusive truth claims". They believe this statement to be truth, and believe those who hold other exclusive truth claims to be wrong. But they fail to realize they are pushing their own exclusive truth claim.
“Now that we all agree that religion is a big problem”
"What you need, is people with an exclusive truth claim that humbles them"The problem is when we make exclusive truth claims and send the message we are better than those who do not believe the truth. "I know the truth, you don't, so I'm better than you." But that is not the message of the Bible. The message could go more like this: "I know the truth, I am an awful person that Jesus is redeeming. I am no better than you, and have nothing to be proud of."
37:46 - 40:40 The Moral Performance Narrative vs. The Grace Narrative
"Salvation only belongs to those people who admit their moral failure."Do we see the focus on how we live? Do we focus on making it appear like Christians are better than non-Christians? Or do we focus on the Grace poured out on us?
43:40 – (The last bit of this video clip is a question and answer time with his audience.
Perhaps the most serious charge that can be brought against modern Christians is that we are not sufficiently in love with Christ. The Christ of fundamentalism is strong but hardly beautiful. It is rarely that we find anyone aglow with personal love for Christ. I trust it is not uncharitable to say that in my opinion a great deal of praise in conservative circles is perfunctory and forced, where it is not downright insincere.
Our meetings are characterized by cordiality, humor, affability, zeal and high animal spirits; but hardly anywhere do we find gatherings marked by the overshadowing presence of God. We manage to get along on correct doctrine, fast tunes, pleasing personalities and religious amusements.
How few, how pitifully few are the enraptured souls who languish for love of Christ. The sweet “madness” that visited such men as Bernard and St. Francis and Richard Rolle and Jonathan Edwards and Samuel Rutherford is scarcely known today. The passionate adorations of Teresa and Madame Guyon are a thing of the past. Christianity has fallen into the hands of leaden who knew not Joseph. The very memory of better days is slowly passing from us and a new type of religious person is emerging. How is the gold tarnished and the silver become lead!
"There is no other subject more important to the life of the man Yeshua than the subject of the kingdom of heaven."Luke 4:43 (NIV)
"But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
When Yeshua spoke and said the kingdom of heaven... he's not talking about heaven in the same English way that you and I do... heaven in this phrase is just what the scholars would call an evasive synonym... meaning God.In Hebrew during the days of Jesus, they did not speak the name of God. So in the book of Matthew we see the Hebrew that Jesus would have spoke translated "kingdom of Heaven".
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.We should not read this and think "will not get to go to Heaven when they die". This should be read "will not enter the kingdom of God". I think there are other verses like this we have often misunderstood as well.
Yeshua believes in the world to come... he does believe in life after death, of course.. but that's not what he's talking about ...9:37
For Yeshua when he's talks about kingdom, he's not talking about a realm, he's talking about a reigning, a ruling.When Jesus talked about kingdom of heaven, or kingdom of God, he wasn't talking about a location or realm, he was talking about who is reigning or ruling. He was talking about the kingship or ruling of God.
This term kingdom of heaven is a term that is unique to the pharisees, to the sages of Israel.So the people in Jesus day knew what this meant.
When he comes out of the wilderness and announces 'the kingdom of heaven is at hand' people don't turn to themselves and say 'what is he talking about?'
To the sages, to the rabbis, the kingdom of God, the kingdom of heaven, means first of all to accept God's authority over your life, and the other side of the coin, to do God's will.15:45
Point two, there's a fundamental difference between the Hebraic orientation to life, and the Greco-Roman orientation to life.... The Greco-Roman heritage of which we share, fundamentally views spiritual things as being of the other world not of this world.16:32
The Hebraic mindset... the spiritual is that which bears life... the word spirit and life are parallel... the word spirit... is basically the word for wind or breath.Jesus message of the kingdom of God was something for the here and now, not just talking about the afterlife.
The king is here, he's ruling and reigning, and the power of His Holy Spirit, in the lives of all who will submit to His authority and who obey His will. So repent, turn around, the king is present and in the power of the Holy Spirit he's going to set captives free. That's why it's good news.
Or in NIV
"I've had it with you! You're hopeless, you religion scholars, you Pharisees! Frauds! Your lives are roadblocks to God's kingdom. You refuse to enter, and won't let anyone else in either."
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men's faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to."Or Young's Literal Translation
"Wo to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye shut up the reign of the heavens before men, for ye do not go in, nor those going in do ye suffer to enter. "
"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matt 5:14-16 NIV)
http://www.cmalliance.org/devotions/tozer/tozer.jsp?id=1061Oneness in ChristAllow me one more point. I want to say something about the body of Christian believers and this universal unity that one day will be established in the person of Jesus Christ. If I could ask, "Do you believe in the communion of saints?" what would be your reply? Would the question make you uncomfortable?
I suspect many Protestants would chide me right here, feeling I was getting too close to doctrinal beliefs held by ecumenists or perhaps by Catholics. I am not referring to ecumenicity and dreams of organizational church union. I am gazing ahead in faith to God's great day of victory, harmony and unity, when sin is no longer present in the creation. In that great coming day of consummation, the children of God—the believing family of God—will experience a blessed harmony and communion of the Spirit. I surely agree with the foresight of the English poet, John Brighton, who caught a glimpse of a coming day of fellowship among the people of God. He wrote: In one eternal bond of love, One fellowship of mind, The saints below and saints above Their bliss and glory find.
I believe that is scriptural. I do not think anyone should throw out the great doctrine of the communion of saints just because the ecumenists embrace it.PrayerFather, thank You for my brothers and sisters around the world. May we be one just as You are in Christ and Christ in You. In Jesus' name.Scripture'My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.'
—John 17:20–21ThoughtJesus prayed for the unity of believers. Church labels may differ; faith expression vary; biblical interpretation be less than harmonious. But those born of God's Spirit are one in Christ and that oneness we are to recognize.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."And how did Christ show his love to those around him? He was a servant to them.
Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.Jesus was the type of leader who served. This is likely the type of leadership I should take in my home as well.
"A religion is an organized approach to human spirituality which usually encompasses a set of narratives, symbols, beliefs and practices, often with a supernatural or transcendent quality, that give meaning to the practitioner's experiences of life through reference to a higher power or truth. It may be expressed through prayer, ritual, meditation, music and art, among other things. It may focus on specific supernatural, metaphysical, and moral claims about reality (the cosmos and human nature) which may yield a set of religious laws, ethics, and a particular lifestyle. Religion also encompasses ancestral or cultural traditions, writings, history, and mythology, as well as personal faith and religious experience."I think this definition describes most forms of Christianity, and most other religions.
So how do we know if you’ve been tricked into religion?
When God is a distant concept to you instead of a real presence.
When you find yourself following another man, woman, or a set of principles instead of following Jesus.
When fear of eternity, not measuring up, or falling into error drives your actions.
When you find yourself in empty rituals that do not connect you in a real way to him.
When you are burdened by the expectations of others and feel guilty when you can’t do enough.
When you look at others who struggle with contempt instead of compassion.
When the approval of others means more to you than remaining in the reality of his love.
When you hesitate to be honest about your doubts or struggles because others will judge you.
When you think of holiness as an unachievable duty, rather than a glorious invitation.
When you think righteousness depends on your efforts instead of his grace working in you.
When following him is more about obligation than affection.
When correcting someone’s doctrine is more important than loving them.
When God seems more present on Sunday morning, than he does on Monday.
If you have only known Christianity to be a set of doctrines, rules and rituals, I have great news. Jesus came and died to open up access between you and his Father. Religion supplants that, distracting us with discipline, commitment and hard work that never yields the fruit it promises. If you’ve been worn out by religion, don’t think you’re alone. Others are just pretending, afraid they are the only ones, too. Life is only found in him.
I think the idea here is that if we find ourselves stuck in Religion, we should try this instead:
John 13:34-35 (NIV)
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."Matthew 11:28 (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."
Truth Is Bigger than You and MeThe new convert is sure to feel the need of instruction and will drink up whatever he hears from the pulpit, accepting not only the doctrines but the emphases as well. Soon he will speak the language of his group and will speak it with their accent. Then he will judge the spirituality and orthodoxy of all other Christians as much by the accent as by the language itself.
Unfortunately indoctrination of a new Christian often means no more than giving him a thorough course in partial truth with the tacit understanding that this is all there is. I am sure we do not mean to do this, but it is what too often happens nevertheless. Of course narrowness, intolerance and bigotry result from this as certainly as an oak from an acorn.
I have seen the motto, "In essentials unity; in nonessentials charity," and I have looked for its incarnation in men and churches without finding it, one reason being that Christians cannot agree on what is and what is not essential. Each one believes that his fragment of truth is essential and his neighbor’s unessential, and that brings us right back where we started.
Unity among Christians will not, in my opinion, be achieved short of the Second Advent. There are too many factors working against it. But a greater degree of unity might be realized if we all approached the truth with deeper humility. No one knows everything, not saint nor scholar nor reformer nor theologian. Even Solomon in all his glory must have overlooked something.PrayerMay I follow You, Lord, as Your disciples did. You are the Truth.ScriptureJesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him.
—Luke 22:39ThoughtIt is disciples of Christ we are to make (Matthew 28:19) not disciples of ourselves, our churches or our denominations. Granted that in discipling we can hardly avoid transmitting our own truth perspectives. Yet we ourselves must keep in mind, and those we disciple, that truth is greater than our understanding of it.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people.
Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.
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.
The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
Mark 10:29-30 "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.
And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
Luke 4:16-20 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor." Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him,
But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent."
One day as he was teaching the people in the temple courts and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, together with the elders, came up to him. (NIV)
No one has any right to believe that he is indeed a Christian unless he is humbly seeking to obey the teachings of the One whom he calls Lord. Christ once asked a question (Luke 6:46) that can have no satisfying answer, “Why do you call me, `Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?”
Right here we do well to anticipate and reply to an objection that will likely arise in the minds of some readers. It goes like this: “We are saved by accepting Christ, not by keeping His commandments. Christ kept the law for us, died for us and rose again for our justification, and so delivered us from all necessity to keep commandments. Is it not possible, then, to become a Christian by simple faith altogether apart from obedience?”
Many honest persons argue in this way, but their honesty cannot save their argument from being erroneous. Theirs is the teaching that has in the last fifty years emasculated the evangelical message and lowered the moral standards of the Church until they are almost indistinguishable from those of the world. It results from a misunderstanding of grace and a narrow and one-sided view of the gospel, and its power to mislead lies in the element of truth it contains. It is arrived at by laying correct premises and then drawing false conclusions from them.
I think A.W. Tozer is correctly identifying an error that happens when too much emphasis is placed on the doctrine of justification by faith alone, or sola fide. Following Christ is more than lip service or beliefs kept in your mind. Following is actions based on ones beliefs. I think all Christian traditions believe this, even though they may word it in different ways.