2- Commitment to a cause

Christian commitment around the world

There shouldn't be any surprises — around the world, the Christian faith is growing fastest where levels of commitment are highest and populations are growing fastest.

The UK, Europe, Austalia, and to a lesser extent, Canada, are in trouble. In the western world, the US is the exception.

read the full report . . .

Answering Why?

 Sam Metcalf

Sam Metcalf

In August, Michelle and I travel to the US to be with our friends from Church Resource Ministries.

Ahead of the CRM worldwide conference, Sam Metcalf set the tone for the gathering in a letter. Here's part of what he wrote,

In the last year, along with our various leaders, I’ve sensed a shift from a focus on the “what and the “how” to a more profound question: “Why we do it.” I believe God has been gently, but firmly, drawing us together toward the grand scope and magnitude of that calling. He is graciously wooing us with his cosmic vision that stretches beyond time and space. This captivating “why” is succinctly captured in the following phrase:

...I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb (Rev 7:9:).

The ultimate expression and realization of the Kingdom of God is when the redemptive reign and rule of Jesus happens in the lives of people …when the Kingdom breaks in and the highest and most excellent of the created order—human beings—become committed followers of the King of the Kingdom. While there are certainly other essential manifestations of the Kingdom, this remains the ultimate biblical centerpiece of the mission of God. A phrase that I like to use to describe this priority is that "the Kingdom of God is never fully present unless people are becoming followers of the King."

This is what movement leaders do, they remind us of the why. Get that wrong and you drift into the missional fog.

 

A few thoughts before I fly home

Response_infographic.jpg

I’m in Manchester for the Launch Europe event. My last engagement before flying out of London for Melbourne. I'm heading home after three years in Britain. Apologies to the readers of this blog and listeners to the podcast. With the move back home, a string of commitments and work on a new book, I’ve had to cut back on the blog and podcast.

I’ve been prompted to dive back in after news, as expected, that Australians have voted in favor of same-sex marriage. I’m not a cultural warrior. I’m not focused on saving Western civilization. My concern is the spread of the gospel, multiplying disciples and churches.

The world will do what the world does. And face the consequences. The great tragedy of this vote is how easily church leaders and ordinary believers forsake (or remain silent about) the clear teaching of the Scriptures.

The Anglican church in England has a leader who can’t say publicly whether same-sex sexual relations are right or wrong. He has endorsed a new transgender policy in Anglican schools. He has awarded an LGBT activist with the Thomas Cranmer Award for Worship. Cranmer was burnt at the stake rather than surrender his commitment to God’s Word.

These are not matters where we can agree to disagree. The teaching of Scripture is clear. Jesus was clear — you can choose to build your house on rock or sand. But you can't choose the consequences.

There is only one true church and that church is under the authority of God’s living Word and the Holy Spirit. The only way out of this morass is to return to being governed by the Word and the Spirit. It’s not easy in this cultural climate, but God gives grace for what he expects us to do. That’s the example Jesus set. He obeyed the Father regardless of the cost.

Any movement, church, individual believer, denomination, Christian organization that steps away from the safety and blessing of obedience, will face God’s redemptive judgment. He will defend his Word. He loves us that much.

Life in Christ means obedience to Christ

 Gordon Fee

Gordon Fee

Learning to obey what Jesus commanded is central to disciple making movements.

Yet some regard obedience based discipleship as the equivalent of introducing a Christian verison of sharia (Islamic law).

I'm working through Philipians at the movemnet with Gorden Fee, an outstanding NT scholar. In comments on Philippians 2:5-11 here's what he says about obedience and disicpleship

There is no genuine life in Christ that is not at the same time, by the power of the Holy Spirit, being regularly transformed into the likeness of Christ . A gospel of grace, which omits obedience, is not Pauline in any sense.

Life in Christ is a gift of grace that we can never earn. Life in Christ brings with it the power of the Holy Spirit resulting in being transformed from the inside out so that we bear his likeness.

Disciplehsip means learning to obey what Jesus commanded. One step at a time. Always one more step.

 

White supremacy and the gospel

Writing from Berlin, Albert Mohler does a wonderful job of juxtaposing racism and the gospel.

Even a secular observer can see the lessons of history from Berlin. The evidence is pervasive, irrefutable, terrifying, and still visible.

But Christians must see much more than the lessons of history, though we dare not miss them. We must see claims of racial superiority–and mainly that means claims of white superiority–as heresy.

That is not a word we use casually. Heresy leads to a denial of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the eclipse of the living God as revealed in the Bible. A claim of white superiority is not merely wrong, and not merely deadly. It is a denial of the glory of God in creating humanity—every single human being–in his own image. It is a rejection of God’s glory in creating a humanity of different skin pigmentation. It is a misconstrual of God’s judgment and glory in creating different ethnicities.

Most urgently, it is a rejection of the gospel of Christ–the great good news of God’s saving purpose in the atonement accomplished by Christ. A claim of racial superiority denies our common humanity, our common sinfulness, our common salvation through faith in Christ, and God’s purpose to create a common new humanity in Christ.

You cannot preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and hold to any notion of racial superiority. It is impossible.

keep reading

Now Mohler will be applauded for his stand against racism. But the minute he relies on Scripture to speak about human sexuality or the sanctity of life, he'll be branded a bigot.

Keep this example in mind, when you're next tempted to place culture norms about Scripture. That's not an option for a disciple of Jesus.

Related: White Supremacy and the Spirit

Stay on Target. A reminder to myself.

I turned 60 last year. There are many new joys in this stage of living. Chief among them are grandchildren.

There are also new griefs. Chief among them is to see once faithful and true disciples, many of them leaders, wander from the gospel and the mission Christ entrusted to us.

It's just as much a spiritual, moral battle as it is theological. It's a battle we don't talk about. Yet the casualty rate is high and the price we pay is dear.

I don't want to spend my life correcting error. Yes, Jesus corrected error. The apostles did the same. But this did not dominate their ministry. For some, it does. Yet they are not putting the gospel to work in the world where it belongs.

So what can we do in a positive way to remain true to the cause?

We study the word continually, applying to our lives and mission. We devour the word together, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we obey. As we learn the obedience of faith, we become who we are in Christ. 

Defending a Scandal

 photo

photo

Southern Baptists have passed a resolution defending the truth that Christ died for our sins, in our place, taking upon himself God's just judgment on sin.

Why the need?

Every generation must choose whether to affirm what the Scriptures have always taught. Ours is no exception. In the 1960s mainline liberal Protestantism turned its back on orthodoxy. Now progressive evangelicals are repeating their error. 

Red Letter Christians — following the spirit of the age and French Catholic philosopher Rene Girad — reject the notion of a God who requires the sacrifice of his Son for sin.

At a popular level, William Paul Young (The Shack) has said the idea that Christ died as a substitute sacrifice to save sinners and satisfy the just wrath of God the Father — is a “monstrous,” “evil,” and “a terrible doctrine.”

So well done Southern Baptists for affirming what the Scriptures have always taught.

Movements decline and decay when they drift and deny their core beliefs. They remain dynamic when they stay true to core beliefs and adapt their methods to reach a changing world.

Want to learn more?