Teaching the Gospel: Step 2

How does the Gospel affect us and play out in our life? It does so in the all encompassing process of redemption and salvation where by we are Justified, Sanctified, and ultimately Glorified.

Justification:

We were guilty, sinners before our God, but when we believe God forgives us and counts Jesus righteousness as our own. We are justified when we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our saviour and repent of our sins. Usually when we talk about salvation we mean that WE WERE once saved, we are talking about Justification.  This is our new life, this is what the Christian is talking about when they say they are born again, that they have believed and Jesus righteousness and death on the cross has made us right before God.

Sanctification:

Sanctification is a progressive work of God and man that makes us more and more free from sin and more like Christ in our actual lives. In Sanctification we are BEING saved.

Even if you are not a runner you can imagine a race. You can imagine that when the gun goes off you begin to run hard and fast with great excitement; or maybe you start out more hesitantly and take your time. As the race goes on your speed might change, faster or slower, you might even stop to catch your breath, or you may trip and fall. Running a race is the example that the Apostle Paul gives for the Christian life. He is emphasising the need to run, the need to push on, to strive for victory.

The Christian life is a marathon and by faith you’ve been given the opportunity to run it. It is not easy but there is a great reward at the end but it takes perseverance to get there. The Christian life is not a ride. We are expected to continue growing in faith seeking after God, If we don’t we might not finish the race. None of us is fully prepared for this race on our own, but the Lord has sent the Holy Spirit to be our guide and our helper, our coach. The lord gives us strength and with his strength we can persevere in faith.

The idea of sanctification might scare many evangelical Christians because they have been taught again and again that they are not saved by works and because of that any discussion of works and salvation in the same paragraph can cause them a lot of hesitation. However the Bible clearly teaches that the response to the unmerited justification that we receive from Christ is good works, again and again and again and again the Bible makes this clear. You see those who are saved by grace not by works are saved by grace to good works.

When I speak of works I speak of the outpouring of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. John makes it clear in 1 john that if we are Christian we are assured if our new life produces love for others. So how can we know we are on the path of sanctification and are being saved? We can know by the state of our heart. If our heart’s deepest desire is to learn how to love God and others more we are on the right track. It doesn’t mean we are perfect yet. The works we produce gain us no special merit but serve as a reflection of an internal change, if these works of love are absent then can it be said of a person that they are saved? The Bible says no.

Glorification:

Glorification is the final step in the application of redemption. It will happen when Christ returns and raises from the dead the bodies of all believers for all time who have died, and reunite them with their soul, and change the bodies of all believers who remain alive, thereby giving all believers at the same time perfect resurrection bodies like his own.

Glorification is what we are striving towards, the prize, the goal the gift from God to those who faithfully persevere. It is in Glorification that we WILL be saved.

What does it benefit a person to begin the race, to lose sight of the goal and fall away or stop racing? Nothing! Glorification is the end result of our pursuit of God and a life lived seeking to love.

Glorification is the final act of the redemption process. When Jesus Christ returns those who believe, and as proof of their belief genuinely continued in faith, they will be rewarded with a new glorified body in a bodily resurrection.

Conclusion:

This is salvation, not that we are saved, but that we are being saved by Jesus Christ. That we are justified to a life of sanctification and when we come before God we will be glorified and it is all a gift of grace from God, not our own power that gets us there.

Advertisements

Teaching the Gospel: Step 1

I was recently asked to revise our Churches Baptism Manual which is used in baptism classes. This is a task I’ve really enjoyed because the manual gives me the opportunity to examine the Ordinances, Baptism and the Lord’s supper. But more interestingly it is challenging me to define the Gospel in a teachable way which even at college I was never asked to do.

So, defining the gospel is an exciting task for me and it is proving to be an interesting task. There is so much out there these days which defines the Gospel in reaction to a world that is trying to re-define the Gospel. For instance Greg Gilbert’s amazing book What is the Gosžpel? Is simple concise and easy to read laying out the Gospel in a very readable way.

However, I am tasked with writing a two page summary of the Gospel that is teachable. It is a challenge because I also want this teachable section of the manual to also be very robust. If it is to be part of a Baptism manual I would assume that the reader would have a basic understanding of Justification, the forgiveness of sin and righteousness before God, which is essential. But what I want to accomplish is an instructive lesson that prepares a person to be able to teach the Gospel themselves. I think over the next few days I will be working out my ideas here.

I’m excited to begin this project, really my first attempt at this sort of things. Well then where should I start? I’ll start with two views of the Gospel that are both Biblical. They are as follows:

 
God > Man > Christ > Response

  1. God is a holy God. Equally loving and Just and he has a plan to save us. (Col. 1.13-14)
  2. Man is sinful and unable to save themselves, fully deserving of death for our actions. (Col. 1.21)
  3. God in his love sends His son, Jesus Christ, who willingly goes to the cross, laying down his life of his own accord for our sins. Living the life we could not live and dyeing the death we deserved. (1 Cor. 15:3-5)
  4. Those who respond in faith and repent of their sins are forgiven and will have eternal life. (Col. 1.22-23)

Creation > Fall > Redemption > Consummation

  1. God is the creator God, he created everything that is and it is good. All of which was meant to stir up affection for him.
  2. Mankind has Fallen. We prefer creation instead of creator turning our affections away from God.
  3. Jesus Christ came to make all things new.  A saving work that is occurring.
  4. The consummation, the second coming of Christ the fulfilment of his saving action and the restoration of creation.

I believe that this is the framework, the twofold purpose of the Gospel, that I will take in explaining it.

John’s Gospel: Spoiler Alert

Have you ever read a book where they tell you the big secret right at the beginning of the book and then spend the rest of the book laying it out for you?

In John’s Gospel, the apostle John, a close friend of Jesus and one of the people who knew him best writes some pretty crazy stuff about him. It’s pretty crazy because a lot of people today just think Jesus was a good teacher and don’t want anything to do with that born again stuff, but the same guy who is going to tell you what Jesus taught, the same guy who is going to write all those cool things that Jesus said to all those religious guys, who we love to beat on because we like that Jesus would stick it to the “man,” is going to lay out at the very beginning something that might not be very easy for some people to take.

Chapter 1 in John’s gospel starts off by a making a connection back to Genesis, the first book in the bible and he writes this. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1.1-2)  Then in verse three he goes on to talk about creation. “All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” What John is saying is that whoever he’s going to call the Word wasn’t only with God but was God and was the one responsible for all of creation. Nobody else is responsible for creation except God.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1.14) The Word came and lived with us, and John is saying I saw it, we saw it. I met him, the Word, and I saw his glory, the son of God. He’s talking about Jesus that teacher that we like to hear about when he is saying things like love your neighbour and feeding lots of people but who we don’t really want to kneel down and worship or call God.

You see we can’t just take the gospels and say wow look at Jesus’ cool radical and new ideas about love, kindness, mercy and grace, without taking everything else the Gospel writers wrote. Jesus was a real man who really lived and only the craziest and most out to lunch historian will tell you he didn’t live at all. So we go to the writings about him, to his friends and the disciples of his disciples who tell the story of his life. We need to realize that these writers were just as serious about the stuff we might think is crazy as they were about what Jesus taught. For these guys the two are linked and can’t be separated. To John, the guy who sat beside Jesus, talked with Jesus, ate with Jesus, walked with Jesus and recorded all of his teachings wanted you and me to know something, that Jesus is God.

Jesus isn’t a Prophet, he isn’t a teacher, he isn’t a political or social radical, he is God, the king of kings, the creator in who we have life and he is the one who brings light to the darkness.

You see another thing happened in Genesis, we rebelled against God, we became sinners and we brought darkness into the world. This darkness this sin has consumed the world and because of our sin it means we are going to die rebels to God. But what John also wants you to know is that Jesus is the light and that darkness, our sin, isn’t going to overcome him. Jesus goes on to bleed for you, he goes on to die for you!…

Jesus is the light and he overcame sin and now you and I we can get on our knees and apologize to the king of kings for our part, for our sin and Jesus that same king of kings, that same God who was responsible for creating you will forgive you. He’ll forgive you!

That’s crazy! That’s the crazy truth that John wants you to understand about Jesus. If you think you know Jesus and what I’ve written about him doesn’t seem to line up with the Jesus you know then I think you should try and get to know the Jesus John knew. It may be more radical and crazy, but it’s the truth.

(Taken from a community group lesson I’m writing for the church)

Why Blog?

I’m an intern at a Northview Community Church in Abbotsford BC doing a 10 month internship program. I’m also a student at Prairie Bible College finishing my degree in Pastoral ministry. One of the requirements during my internship is to write a journal or a log book. Looking at today’s culture and the world around me I think that the best way to log my time, or write my thoughts is in a blog format. So many pastors today do it this, so I think I’ll do it as well.

Before we go any further you might be saying, “Well Andrew, just because some people are doing it this way that doesn’t make it a good idea.” I agree. You see the first thing I want to write about is culture and Gospel and blogging kind of fits in there.

In the North American, mostly America, “anyone” who is “anyone” has a blog, either written by them, about them or for them, but also anyone who wants to get their thoughts and opinion out there for others to see. Why? Because blogging is a form of communication that is used to tether us to one another and further expose people to our thoughts. We follow the blog of those we attach ourselves to or associate with; we blog to our tribe, our people, our friends, those who we share a kinship with. From what I’ve seen there are four ways we use a blog and I just want to touch briefly on them and why I think Christians can be involved in blogging.

First is spreading further Knowledge. If someone is a pastor, or a teacher, or someone respected for their wisdom, a blog can be immensely helpful in getting information out to those who follow you. Those who trust you, those who claim an association to you and are submitting themselves to you can learn from you. This reason is, I think, one of the best reasons a pastor should blog. They have been entrusted to teach a groups of people so they should teach in a way that is culturally relevant. People today blog, they read blogs so pastors can blog because it helps teach and build the body. To preach even an hour once a week is great but what better way to expand further, nuance something deeper than to blog further on the subject. (a podcast is good too.)

Second is for the purpose of news. If someone has associated themselves with a group, or congregation, they want to know what is going on, they want the latest news and gossip. We are an information culture and we want more. What better way to connect and keep people up to date than to tell them what is going on in a blog, a method for getting out personal and corporate news. We do have to be careful as a church. News is one thing, a helpful thing, gossip is not. We have to stay away from using our blogs as a method of gossip. Giving your opinion is good, but if it is directed to harm and hurt others it is never okay for Christians, which leads me to my next point.

A third reason people blog is to attack and criticise. There are so many Christian websites devoted to groups of Christian “watchdogs” who ransack the internet for every last quote of their most hated Christian speaker and then they pick it apart and tear them down. They claim to be “Bible believing, scripture reading devoted Christians” But from what I can discern their only purpose is to nip at the heels of the church and weigh it down. I do think that the church needs to be intentional about keeping strong orthodoxy and sound doctrine, but attacking other Christians again and again online is not okay, nor is it okay to attack people who aren’t Christians. One of the pastors I follow was attacked a few years ago by another well known pastor online in blog posts and articles. When asked if he had gone to the other pastor with their concerns, as is biblical, they said yes but the other pastor hadn’t gotten back to them yet so he had to address the issue and he did so online. So does that give us free reign to air our dirty laundry on the internet for all to see? No. We need to check ourselves, we need to watch ourselves. We can have differences, and there is a time and place to discourse about wrong doctrine but using a blog for a platform of attack is not right, nor is it effective because the attacker simply sounds like a fool. We in the church are not perfect, nor do we see eye to eye all the time. Even when we blog we must think about treating our brothers and sisters in Christ with love and respect as well as our enemies. We can challenge another’s view point for sure but to attack them and drag them through the mud with arrogance and maliciousness is just wrong, so wrong.
Fourth, I think a blog can be used for discussion which is what I hope I can use this blog for. On a blog we can give our opinions, our thoughts etc. We can open our thoughts up to others and we can say, “this is what I’m thinking and why. What do you think?” and we can discus, change and grow. We can address other peoples doctrine and we can even say another person is wrong and discus why but out in public, which the internet is we do not let our discussion turn to anger.

In these four uses of an online blog, knowledge, news, discussion and attack, there are three that I hope I can engage in and one I hope I don’t fall into. You see the internet is part of our culture, and part of our lives and adapting to meet culture is not wrong but adapting the Gospel to culture is. We are in the world and need not hide from it, but we need to avoid being of the world.

There you go, my thoughts on the medium. I hope I was able to convey my message. In the future I hope to blog about the sermons or lessons I am preparing or events I am participating in and make this a little more personal.