“A long time ago in a ‘place’ far far away”, something happened that changed the course of the church, western civilization, and the world. It affected what you believe, how you live, where you attend church, and the influence of world wide missions. It turned Europe from a dark continent into a vibrant, thriving one; from a continent afraid to think to a culture bursting with ideas; from a continent of people who could hardly see beyond their doors to a people with the horizon for their vision. If this seems like hyperbole, it is not. No event since the birth of Christ has had such an impact. Indeed it is difficult to overestimate its significance. And while the secular world may choose to ignore it, it cannot escape it. The ideological freedom and openness of thought that is so ostensibly valued today is due, at least in part, to it. Though it was a sovereign act of God, He used men to bring it to pass; men who were resolved to stand no matter what the cost might be. It was their resolve, by God’s grace, that led a continent from darkness to light.
The event I am referring to is the Reformation. This fall we will commemorate the five hundredth anniversary of its beginning. There were preludes to it, but when a mere mortal took the initiative to nail his Biblical theses in a most obvious place, the battle was on. The fire had been lighted, and there was no extinguishing it. Martin Luther was that man who, standing on the shoulders of Huss, Wycliffe, and others, led the charge into the Biblical and theological darkness when it seemed unsafe, unwise, and unfruitful. Lutherans, Presbyterians, Baptists, and Methodists all have roots there, as do others. And later, those who were spiritual descendants of the reformers made their way across an ocean to a New World. Is it all that difficult for the modern thinking Christian to see something of the present day importance of these men and this event? Must we agree with everything they said and did in order to appreciate their work and apply the truth they sacrificed so much to pass on. And dare we undervalue their work and testimony by ignoring their example and legacy. But surely the need for reformation is past. We benefit from their life and work, true enough, but how much and for how long should we dwell on the past? What’s done is done, and this is a new day with new challenges and fresh ideas.
Or could it be that a darkness all too similar to the darkness of those pre-reformation days has slowly and almost imperceptibly surrounded the contemporary church? Have we lost sight of the ideas and beliefs that brought new life to the church five hundred years ago? Could it be that the people of God need a new generation preachers of old truth and a new generation of common men and women with the uncommon resolve to stand once again?
As October and the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation’s beginning approach, will you make plans to join us at Passion4Christ Summit. Together we will take a new look, not just at the Reformation, but at the need for fresh resolve to stand on and for Christ and His Word. How can we do anything else?
Yours for Christ and the Gospel,
The measure of a disciple is seen in how Christ and the apostles relate discipleship to the cross. So basically, if your discipleship is not cross-centered then it is not true discipleship. Charles and Daniel talk about it on this week’s CrossTalk.
When we talk about discipleship, we are talking about the actual molding of a disciple. Which means, we have to know what it is we want to accomplish when we are discipling someone. So the question remains: if you are molding a disciple, how do you do it? Charles and Daniel talk about it.
Discipleship. What does it mean to be a disciple or even to make a disciple? At what point is someone a disciple? Today Charles and Daniel begin their new series on Discipleship by discussing the actual making of a disciple.
Three months after the election of 2016, it seems that cooler heads are not necessarily prevailing. We have had time to see our first glimpses of the Trump presidency, hear words of adulation from some, and screams of anger from others. It seems every general election (the ones in which we elect a President) brings new cries and claims from left and right that this is the most important election of our time. While these claims may elicit from us yawns and criticisms of overstatement, it does seem that we live in an era in which every four years brings us the challenge that this election is indeed the most significant yet. Perhaps this is because we are witnessing a culture “civil war” with major battles occurring at the ballot booth. The deep cultural and moral divide only deepens as the stakes escalate. We watch and wait with varying degrees of optimism. As evangelical Christians we hope and pray that our God will have mercy on us, not giving us what we deserve but what we are convinced we need.
I have been among those who have hoped and prayed for certain results in local, state, and national election. I believe there is Biblical warrant to pray for political leaders before as well as after they are elected. As returns have come in I have had the experience of gratitude and even elation. I have also experienced deep disappointment and concern.
This election brought to me a mixed bag of concerns, convictions, and confused and convoluted feelings. I have reminded myself and others that our hope is not in worldly leaders and their agendas. I have recalled this: “For promotion does not come from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. But God is the judge: He puts down one, and raises up another”(Ps. 75:6,7). “My hope(whether here or in eternity) is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.” My head is not in the sand however. I voted prayerfully, conscientiously, and convictionally. When Joshua was about to enter the Promised Land with the children of Israel, he had an incredible experience. He was confronted by a man with his sword drawn. On the cusp of warfare, Joshua naturally wondered if the man was friend or foe, and he voiced his concern. The man identified himself, then in the words of a well-known preacher of the recent past said;”I’m not here to take sides. I’m here to take charge.” We who call ourselves evangelical Christians are submitted to and trusting in the “Commander of the Lord’s army”. He is in charge. We are beholden to no man or party. The purposes of our Lord are sure and will come to pass. We must not fret because of evil doers or find unbiblical comfort in those who appear to be on our side. I am, I think, a patriot. But my patriotism is not primary. I am prone to be far too attached to this world and far too satisfied with what it offers. That is why I remind myself that my “citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject all things to Himself. Therefore my brothers(and sisters),… stand fast in the Lord,…”(Phil. 3:20-4:1). Thank God this is not all there is. Let us not therefore think and live as though it is. Let us attempt to live every moment to the glory of God, make every decision with eternity in view, “looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,…”
We understand that for the believer all things are new. Being a new creation affects everything. Not one thing about our life is the same. Whether it is our interactions with those around us, or the most secret thoughts of our lives, nothing is the same for the believer. Our thinking and direction in life cannot and will not be the same. Charles and Daniel talk about it.
When you possess new life in Christ – a new relationship – we do not see things as we used to. Whether you are a new believer or a mature believer, this reality is true. With this new perspective, this should cause us to look back at the way we live. It should inform the way we live. Join Charles and Daniel as they discuss it.
We have new life. However, this new life affords us a new relationship with our God. One of the things that we have to be careful with is being too cliché when we talk about having a “relationship with God”. What we need to talk about is what it means to be rightly related to God. Charles and Daniel discuss it.