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Archive for the ‘Gospel’ Category

Christmas — the Birth of Our Divine Warrior

06 Dec

I love the celebration of Christmas especially when it turns my focus to the incarnation of the Divine Warrior who would come and rescue us from the kingdom of darkness. Though we may sing, “Silent Night, Holy Night, All is Calm, All is Bright,” our theology suggests that more than that was going on that night. Hell was raging. Satan was fuming. The demons were preparing for the greatest confrontation between the powers of evil and the power of God.

Way back in the Garden, God had ordained that hostility would exist between Satan and those whom God had created in His image to worship and serve Him. The Old Testament narrative portrays that hostility in the frequent attempts of various enemies to destroy the people of God. Time and again, Yahweh fights for His people and delivers them. He chooses warriors like Gideon and David who fight the enemies of God and His people.

As we read these narratives through the lens of the New Testament, we realize that a great spiritual hostility lay behind these physical battles between nations. The attempts to eliminate the people of God were designed by Satan to thwart the coming of that One whom God promised would come and ‘crush the head” of Satan.  The Lord’s sovereign and powerful interventions in behalf of His people renewed hope that the ultimate Divine Warrior would come and defeat the great foe of mankind.

Christmas is the birth of a King, a Warrior King, a Divine King. Though He is the Prince of Peace he comes, not to appease or accommodate evil, but to destroy evil and to crush the evil one.  He is born to defeat sin, Satan, and death.  The life and ministry of Jesus vividly portray the confrontations He had with Satan and the demonic world. Unlike the first Adam, Jesus comes through every time as one who triumphs over evil.

Satan was relentless in His attacks against this One who is called “the Son of God” and within the eternal plan of God is allowed to incite the mobs to kill Jesus. Death would be Satan’s final vanquishing of the Divine Warrior.  Death was Satan’s last and most powerful weapon to bring against Jesus. However, little did Satan know that God would use this powerful weapon of death to be the very means by which Satan himself would be defeated. Satan unleashed his great fury in the death of Jesus only to have it recoil and crush the great enemy of mankind.

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Heb 2:14-15 ESV)

“Up from the grave He arose with a might conquest of His foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain and He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose. He arose. Hallelujah Christ arose!”


 

Obsession with Urban Church Planting

15 Sep


Obsession with Urban Church Planting

Last night I received a tweet and a re-tweet from a conference in Alabama on church planting.  The tweet was from one of the sessions there on church planting and unfortunately tweets have no context in which to interpret them. So, I will discuss the tweet as it is. The tweet was about the speaker’s bewilderment over what he called ‘the urban obsession with church planting when half of the world’s population lives in rural areas.’

In response I tweeted: ‘Urban obsession counteracts a history of rural obsession that neglected half of the world’s peoples.’

My point and the point of any urban church planter is not that we should disregard rural and suburban church planting but that in recent history urban church planting has been a neglected focus of the church and a renewed emphasis on cities is needed. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Loving the City?

02 Sep

Loving the City?

Urban Ministry and Urban Living often attract those who are infatuated or flirtatious with the mystique of the city and even some who profess to love the city. Some of us simply love the gospel and the density (crowded neighborhoods) and diversity (economic, ethic, educational, cultural, and age differences) of people who are found in the city – offering an opportunity for a strategic advance of the gospel.

We should be cautious about the phrase ‘Loving the city’ because it can be no more than a cliché of those who either do not know the city or those who have come to believe that it is mark of spiritual achievement when you can say, “I love the city.” Read the rest of this entry »

 

Reflections on Suffering (Job 29-30)

30 Aug

 

Reflections on Suffering (Job 29-30)

Job’s life had radically changed from prosperity to suffering. Job felt like God’s watchcare over him had also changed. He now feels like God is not lighting his path nor being a friend to him. There was a former time when Job remembered that ‘life was good’. He recalled the favor and respect that he had from others because of the apparent ‘blessing of God’ as seen in his prosperous life. Job remembered when his trouble free life allowed him to focus on pursuing the needs of others. He was able to face the despair of others with confidence and a smile. Read the rest of this entry »

 

Why we use the Apostles’ Creed at Grace Church of Philly

18 Aug

Why we use the Apostles’ Creed at Grace Church of Philly

                From time to time I hear concerns from well-meaning people questioning our use of the Apostles’ Creed. Most often it has to do not so much with the content, but with their personal history of having recited it in the Roman Catholic Church or a liberal denominational church.  Part of their conversion story is that in understanding the gospel of salvation by faith alone in Jesus Christ, they left a religious system that had corrupted and confused the gospel. We rejoice with them in their conversion and their choice to leave a faulty religious system.

However, in our use of the Apostles’ Creed and other ancient creeds we are reclaiming from corrupt religious systems what belongs to historic Christianity. Read the rest of this entry »