Questioning the Kingdom? – Part 2: Cultural Transformation
The question is whether God has bound himself to bestow blessing on our society necessarily in response to our obedience. The answer is: it depends.
Christ will not return until all his elect are saved, and he accomplishes this through the instrumentation of his bride, the church, empowered by his Spirit. We are both given the task of world evangelization and are simultaneously told that it will certainly be accomplished (cf. Mt. 8:11). Since Christ has not yet returned, we... Continue Reading
Christian Imagination Fleshed Out
Those who go rummaging for more Christian culture find they are almost always looking into the past.
Perhaps you can see the dilemma of being a Christian within a secular culture. The works of imagination that reinforce our secular culture’s central religious vision are powerful and compelling movies and TV shows, popular songs and music, immersive computer and console games, widespread advertising imagery (moving and still), and malls, restaurants and whole cities... Continue Reading
How Far Back Can We Trace the Fourfold Gospel?
Justin provides good evidence that (at least) by the middle of the second century the fourfold gospel was received as authoritative in some parts of the early Christian movement.
Indeed, Justin tells us the way the gospels (“memoirs of the apostles”) were valued in his day: “And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time... Continue Reading
Things Fall Apart – But Work Remains
As the days grow darker, all the more reason to get involved.
Yes things are very bleak and disturbing right now, but all the more reason to work even harder, pray even harder, and seek to faithfully serve our Lord in the time he has allotted to us. Regardless of our fav eschatological view (be it a type of pessimistic premillennialism or an optimistic postmillennialism), we all... Continue Reading
Hope Beyond Heaven and Justice Now
For Paul, hope is “eager waiting.” For what if not heaven? For starters, we “eagerly wait” for all things to be right (Gal. 5:5) and “eagerly wait” for the resurrected Son’s physical return (1 Cor. 1:7).
Our full Christian hope is connected to our current actions in two directions. We tend to miss or ignore the second. One directional connection we all know: as we make wise decisions as his stewards in this life, the King will give us charge over more in the new creation when he returns (Luke 19:15–17). What... Continue Reading
The Word of God Comes Alive in Conflict
God didn’t only give us his word to get us through life’s trials, but he also gives us trials to make his word come alive.
Our conflicted times, and conflicted relationships, do not increase our earthly comforts, but they need not shake our confidence in heaven. The Scriptures were forged in such times, in the most challenging of days. The lead characters suffered. They did not live easy lives. The greatest figure of all, God himself in human flesh, anticipated... Continue Reading
Questioning the Kingdom? – Part 1: Definitions
The kingdom of Christ has visible impact on the world not only within the walls of the church but wherever his word is believed and his lordship obeyed.
The cultural fruit of Christendom in the West, though sometimes overripe and worm-eaten, still stands to remind us that the gospel cannot help but transform. This process will continue amid trial, triumph, and setback until the return of Christ as he puts his spiritual enemies under his feet (1 Cor. 15:25). These enemies include such... Continue Reading
Opportunities and Opposition
And so the kingdom comes: the kingdom of grace is extended, the kingdom of darkness is assaulted, and the kingdom of glory draws near.
Opposition without opportunity can be disheartening, even crippling, for pastors and churches. Opportunity without opposition can be unhealthy, even dangerous, for pastors and churches. But, in God’s wisdom, opportunity and opposition often come together. The opportunity fires the heart before God in the teeth of the opposition. The opposition bows the heart before God in... Continue Reading
God’s Will is not Constant Comfort and Worldly Success
Christian endurance is the ability to live lovingly, joyfully, peacefully, and patiently under conditions that we wish were different.
God’s will is not that we should every moment feel happy, but that we should every moment be holy. If we live holy lives then we will also worship the Lord our God in spirit and truth with our lives. These holy lives are not guaranteed to be free of suffering. In fact, the opposite... Continue Reading
Haggai: The Uncanny Correspondence Between Temple and People
As they build his house, he is really building them into a dwelling for himself, through his Chosen King in David’s line.
There is an uncanny correspondence between temple and people. After the exile, God’s revelation through his prophets unravels more of the mystery. Yes, there remains a physical house. Yes, the people remain obligated to build it and serve Yahweh within it. But Haggai shows us that the house itself is fading from the forefront to... Continue Reading