Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Church is Born - TOR4

So what was it like back during the birth of the New Testament church? Should our church today look like the one in Acts?
Tuesday night we finished part 4 in our study of Acts called The Original Revolution. Jeff preached through Acts 2:14-47 and gave us much to consider regarding how we are to share the message of Christ and how we are to relate to one another within the body.

Below are the "take home points" from Jeff's message.

1. Not looking for Jesus throughout the Bible is not reading the Bible as a Christian should.

  • It’s more than okay to look for Jesus in all 66 books of the Bible
  • You shouldn’t be able to have sweet fellowship with a Jewish Rabbi over an OT Bible study – something should be missing
  • Probably your main struggle with the OT is that you’re not searching for Jesus in it

2. Read the Gospels regularly

  • You should have a working knowledge of the Gospels
  • Read John with themes in mind
  • Look up OT quotes found in Gospels and NT

3. The reason people leave Jesus out of the OT or NT is their religion is Moralism or Legalism

  • Jesus was and is not a legalist
  • Obedience for Jesus is always from the heart
  • Jesus taught the Law of Love

4. You need to work at talking about Jesus more

  • Our sin competes against loving him
  • Talking about Jesus takes faith
  • It is easy not to talk about Jesus – It’s easy to change the subject

5. Talking TO Jesus jumpstarts talking ABOUT Him

6. Talking about Jesus with others will change lives

7. It can be the most loving action to call someone to repent and the most unloving action not to

8. Your commitment to your church body [like to Christ] must be All or Nothing

  • A lacking blasé commitment to your church community will hurt you – breeding consumerism and/or cynicism
  • Half-hearted swimming ultimately causes you to drown
  • A fiery whole-hearted sacrificial commitment makes it REAL - spawning joy and devotion to others and to Jesus

9. Expect God to add people to his church

  • For some the Gospel will be very attractive
  • For some whole-hearted community will be very attractive

Are You Guilty of "Greeting Card Worship"?

Have you been watching the Feature Feed in the sidebar? Michael Hamline has & brought this article to my attention. We thought it deserved it's own post here at 222mission. Thanks for the tip Michael!

Have you ever stopped to consider what it must be like to work for Hallmark or another of the companies that create greeting cards? Imagine spending your whole day attempting to come up with wonderful statements of deep feeling—love, remorse, sympathy—yet without feeling any of the associated emotions. Imagine having to write words that express sympathy, yet not feeling any sympathy yourself. Or imagine having to write words that can express the deep, passionate love a man has for his wife as they celebrate fifty years of marriage, but without having ever experienced that sort of love yourself. It must be very odd to spend the whole day writing words of love and passion from a husband to a wife but then return alone to an empty home and a life lived alone.

I fear that all too often I, as a Christian, can worship God in just this way.

Read the entire article.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Reality TV: Just Watching People Work

I guess all Reality TV has one thing in common: everybody’s working. Whether people are racing, surviving, building stuff, designing rooms, cutting business deals, singing, flirting, losing weight, parenting, or whatever…they’re working. It’s been said that people love to watch Reality TV so much because people love to watch other people work. There must be something relaxing to watching people do what they themselves have been doing all day. I have to admit that it is.

Recently I surveyed the phrase “under the sun” from Ecclesiastes and found that it’s repeated 27 times in the 12 chapters. Solomon’s phrase (though scribed several millennia ago) describes all dimensions of today’s hurried, fast paced, active, Starbucks -drinking, cyclical rat race that we call life.

4 times Solomon plays the pessimist about life “under the sun.” 2 times life is an injustice, 6 times its evil, 5 times its either bad, good, or blasé and 3 times he says you should suck all the joy out of life you can. Translation: get Starbucks with friends when possible because there are no guarantees.

What was curious is that 7 times (the most of any category) it refers to working (“toil” in ESV). For Solomon the monotony of work can be a big bummer unless you get outside yourself or can look above the sun. I can’t argue that watching people work isn’t fascinating. But I’d guess Solomon - even watching work all dressed up on TV - would say its pretty empty (Ecclesiastes 2).

Hope to see you this Lord's day at 9am as we continue our study in Ecclesiastes, From Vanity to Sanity: Fear, Judgment, Obedience.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Speaking the language: Interpreting Tongues from Acts

Last night from our study on Pentecost (Download message here) I told you how important it is for you to let Acts 2 govern your understanding of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. I primarily got my points from John Stott (The Message of ACTS). I said you’ve got to start with Acts 2:1-13. If you don’t, you set yourself up to read your experiences back into the Bible instead of vise versa. What I mean is that it could be easy to go to a charismatic church (or watch a service on TV) and assume what you see is biblical because they call what they’re doing speaking in tongues. It can become easy to rationalize to yourself, "I don’t see this in my church, so they must be afraid of the Holy Spirit" or you think they're ignoring passages like Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 13-14.

Don’t do this. Instead just begin with Acts 2 where the Bible actually portrays what speaking in tongues looks like and use that as a grid for understanding the other New Testament references. Stott makes a big deal over the fact that the Greek words for “Tongue” and “Interpret” are the same throughout the New Testament. So though there are some functional differences between Pentecost and 1 Corinthians 13-14, we’re really talking about the same gift. A New Testament tongue is always either the organ/body part or a known language and the word for “interpret” is always in concert with known languages (Stott).

I’m not saying that by first reading Acts 2 and then reading Paul in 1 Corinthians 13-14 that these debates magically disappear. But at least Acts gives you some sure footing. You choose - do you want to start with TBN, Benney Hinn, Kenneth Copeland or Joyce Meyers? Do you want to start with personal anecdotes like the late night spooky stories you swapped with dorm buddies around microwave popcorn by a desk lamp? Or with the Lord’s inspired story from Acts? I choose Acts.

This forms a couple of presuppositions. First of all, I understand that the gift of tongues for the early church was a revelatory gift. A gift designed by God to communicate truth to his church during the Apostalic age as the Bible was being written. In this way, it makes sense for me to read 1 Corinthians 13:8-13 to say that this gift was going to fade out when the Apostles did. When 1 Corinthians 13:8 says, “they will cease” (literally “[tongues] will cease themselves”), I conclude they did, and that they did before the “perfect” comes (1 Cor. 13:10). This is how it seems to play out in the storyline of Acts and why this gift is found only in one of Paul’s letters which happens to be the earliest epistle written in the New Testament.

So, not only do I see that it “ceased” with the Apostolic age but I also believe the gift served a distinct purpose for that distinct period. It was a significant a sign. Every time this gift happened, it was a sign of cursing on Israel for rejecting Jesus and of blessing to the church for accepting Jesus. Paul makes this very clear when he cites Isaiah 28:11-12 in his argument in 1 Corinthians 14:19-22. Pentecost marks a dramatic shift in God’s kingdom program – the church was now born! God’s glory was manifested as a pillar of fire for Israel and now was manifested as “tongues of fire” hovering over his new people. The church - a multi-language, multi-nation, multi-culture people - was suddenly seeing, experiencing, and speaking “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11). One last challenge for understanding tongues from 1 Corinthians 13-14 is to remember that Paul’s main point was not to coach the early church to speak in tongues. He was rebuking Corinth for not being a loving church (1 Cor. 13:1-13). Paul was telling them to stop showing off which was turning believers and unbelievers away from truth. Understanding Paul’s intent puts many of his sarcastic and instructive points from chapter 14 in context.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest let me say I’m no expert on the spiritual gifts. I recognize that there is a spectrum for where you can fall in terms of being a cessationist and/or a continuationist. You obviously can believe revelatory gifts are for today and be theologically strong (i.e. Wayne Grudem for one). In fact I recommend Grudem's "4 Views" book where Dr. Robert Saucy takes a “cautious but open” position. I may actually find myself more in his camp when all is said and done. For a quick and clear Bible study on these issues I also recommend the notes from Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 13-14 from The MacArthur Study Bible. For a more detailed recitation from John MacArthur go to his book Charismatic Chaos.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

2.22 Week Links

Another heapin' helpin' from the world wide web:

Politics: Pulpit Magazine is posting a series on the Gospel and Politics.

Study Bibles: In case you weren't aware, Crossway is releasing the ESV Study Bible in October. Justin Taylor announces a "pre-release" sample: Introduction to the Book of Revelation. Download it here.

Summer Reading: Al's list - Part One & Two. CJ's list.

Car Crash: Josh Harris & kids weren't hurt - praise the Lord - but he totaled his friend's car on Father's day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Generous Critique of "A Generous Orthodoxy"

Now that we have our podcast up & running, I'm in the process of uploading many of the past sermons from 2.22. One of the first "retro" messages we're making available is Jeff's book review of "A Generous Orthodoxy", by Brian McLaren. You can stream the audio from our mp3 player in the sidebar, or download the file (33 MB) below. This message was given back in 2006 at our Church Emergentcy conference.

Download this sermon (right click and save)

Also, Jeff has made available the printed form of this message. Here's a snippet:

So what’s the big deal about McLaren?

McLaren though it’s unfair to call him the sole spokesperson for the emerging church (or even who all in the emergent church would want to identify with), by writing ‘a Generous Orthodoxy’ has documented a personal confession or “’manifesto’ of the emerging church conversation. In other words, he’s a patriarch or founding father that’s actually articulated postmodern theology/thinking on paper. And I assume his influence isn’t going away.
Download the entire review here.

Though the book is several years old now, there are still a few other reviews available online:

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Feature Feed: Tim Challies

If you haven't heard the name Tim Challies by now, you're probably still using dial-up or you just don't travel the cyberworld that much. Tim has established himself (unintentionally) over the past few years as "The World's Most Famous Christian Blogger" (at least according to the Pyros). He is in high demand all over the country to be the official "Live Blogger" of a who's who list of evangelical conferences. And, his name is virtually synonymous with DISCERNMENT... in fact he actually wrote the book on it... really.

Titled "The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment", Tim's book has gained much attention and would be a great read for anyone. We've heard our own pastor Lance commend & quote from this book as he concluded a Romans sermon on discerning false teachers, it's even being considered as a book study for the men of our church in the fall.

Tim has a sound mind & level head about him that makes him wise as well as winsome. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has just concluded recording a series on discernment prompted by her reading Tim's book and has often commented of how fond she is of Tim & his biblical perspective on many issues.

Tim's blog is devoted primarily to doing book reviews - the guy must be some kind of bionic speed reader for all the reviews he cranks out! (Be sure to check out his review of the best selling book, "The Shack") He also has a feature called "A-La-Carte" from which I modeled our own "2.22 Week Links." Tim has his thumb on the evangelical internet pulse. He's also a web designer by trade.

So pick up the book here, or at least watch the blog feed in the sidebar and familiarize yourself with Tim Challies.