Biblical Basis

The Last Temptation

"Temptation of Christ" (1872) by Vasily Surikov

"Temptation of Christ" (1872) by Vasily Surikov

In his final attempt to divert Jesus from his mission Satan took Jesus to a mountain top and revealed the kingdoms of this world in all their glory. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me” (Matt 4:8-10).

Satan was offering political and cultural power without the cross. Jesus can have everything he’s come for, without the horror of a shameful death for the sins of the world. The devil was offering him a way out. A painless road to victory.

Jesus answered, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’

What did Jesus choose instead? To worship the Lord his God, and serve him only. This worship goes beyond the singing of praises. This is the worship of a surrendered life. The worship of a Servant humbling himself and becoming obedient unto death. Even death on a cross.

Our enemy continues to divert God’s people from their mission with the offer of a kingdom without the cross. A mission without the gospel. Heaven on earth without repentance and faith in the crucified One.

But there is no kingdom without the King. No salvation without the Savior.

Jesus’ commission to his disciples was clear. This message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations (Luke 24:47). The core missionary task is to make disciples of the nations by going and baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded (Matthew 28:18-20).

Through Christ we receive the power of the Holy Spirit to be his witnesses to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). Wherever the Word goes in the power of the Spirit, the fruit of our mission is disciples and churches (Acts 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20).

That’s the core missionary task. Don’t be distracted.

40 Years Since the Islamic Revolution in Iran

Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts.
Psalm 46:6

Forty years since Iran’s Islamic revolution, who would have thought the children of that revolution would be turning to Christ in unprecedented numbers under the watchful eye of an oppressive regime.

Iran is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian. Yet never before has there been so many new disciples and churches started. Let’s remember who holds the nations in the palm of his hand.

When the Holy Spirit comes

The Holy Spirit comes on Jesus when he is in the passive state of submitting himself to God’s will in baptism and while he is praying.

The effects of the Spirit in the life of Jesus are evident in what follows: the power to resist the wiles of Satan, the power to recall and apply Scripture, the power to see God’s plan and purposes and to proclaim the Word boldly, the power to withstand hostility, and the power to minister to and heal the oppressed. The Spirit in the lives of believers can do the same things.

David E. Garland


The "Chrislam" debate

This week a heated “Chrislam’’ battle is unfolding in the Catholic Church over Pope Francis’s joint document with Islamic leader Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of Egypt’s al-Azhar mosque, which says the “pluralism and the diversity of religions” are “willed by God in His wisdom”.

Did the God of the Bible, revealed in Jesus Christ, “will” Islam into being and raise up Mohammed as a or the prophet? In 2015 that was certainly the view of Westminster Abbey.

A lot depends on how you answer that question. Right now lives are being lost in attempts to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ among Muslims. Why should we bother if Islam is willed by God and Mohammed is one of his prophets?

When Mark Durie talks about Islam and Christianity, I listen. He’s a leading Christian authority on Islam. He has lived in Indonesia doing linguistic fieldwork among Muslims. He is the pastor of a congregation of muslim background believers in Melbourne, Australia.

His insights are based upon a careful understanding of the key Islamic texts. This series is a must for anyone working among Muslims.

In this series, Dr Mark Durie approaches understanding the Qu'ran as a text with its own distinct theology.
In this series, Dr Mark Durie approaches understanding the Qu'ran as a text with its own distinct theology.
In this series, Dr Mark Durie approaches understanding the Qu'ran as a text with its own distinctive theology.
In this series, Dr Mark Durie approaches understanding the Qu'ran as a text with its own distinct theology.
In this, Dr Mark Durie approaches understanding the Qu'ran as a text with its own distinct theology.

The Trouble with Missionary Movements [updated]

Carracci Annibale - The Stoning of St Stephen 1603-04

Carracci Annibale - The Stoning of St Stephen 1603-04

Acts has no purpose, no plot, no structure, and no history without suffering.

Paul House

Following disturbing reports out of China and from around the world of rising persecution against Christians, it’s time to republish this post from 2010.

Ten years ago I was in Singapore having just left a restricted field somewhere in Asia. I had sought out a couple of guys named “Smith” with a lot of experience in church planting movements to help me make sense of what I was learning.

I will not forget this comment:

We've never seen a church planting movement without persecution.

Suffering and persecution go hand in hand with movements that multiply disciples and churches.

They are the unifying theme of the book of Acts. Without them the command to take the gospel to the ends of the world would never have been fulfilled.

Want to learn more?

Who matters?

I’m working my way through the Gospel of Luke at the moment. Luke is keen to anchor his account in history. So he identifies the rulers of the time. But as David Garland points out,

In Luke’s account, the kings and governors play no direct role in the story’s action and serve only as chronological ciphers (see 3:1 –2) or as those issuing decrees from afar (2:1). Busy with their own affairs, they take no note of the birth of John or of Jesus that will turn their world upside down. 

The vital characters in the story are unknowns: an ordinary priest and his aging wife; a young peasant girl and a Jewish man, who has to register to pay his taxes; shepherds, a despised class; and two prophets, male and female, who hang out in the temple waiting for God’s intervention.

How preoccupied we become with politics and power. As though they are the ultimate reality. How fearful angry and we have become.

Meanwhile, God is working out his purposes. He has his people in place. Ordinary people, far from the corridors of power.

God laughs at the rulers of this world. He has them in the palm of his hand.

167-Steve Smith talks about Spirit powered movements

I interviewed Steve Smith recently on a range of topics. In this live webinar with Nate Vander Stelt, Steve Smith goes deep on the topic of Spirit powered movements.

Thanks to our friends at GACX for making the interview available.