A Constant Dying
Most of us will not be called to physically die for Christ. Even so, in light of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, let us lay down our lives for him. Let’s be living martyrs, constantly dying in order that we might find our life.
Martyr stories have always encouraged me. It might seem morbid to think that a story of someone losing their life can be beautiful, but these stories expose that there are some things that are more valuable than life. God often uses these stories of courage and commitment to bring in lost souls, to build the church, and to encourage the saints to live a life of greater service to God. As a young Christian, I used to say confidently, “I would die for Christ,” but as I get older, I am realizing more and more that dying for Christ might be the easier thing.
What do I mean? Dying for Christ takes a moment of extreme courage and resolve from the hand of God, but living for Christ requires a sustained courage that beats back the devil and the flesh daily. It’s a constant dying. Jesus tells us that if we are to find our life, we must lose it (Matt 10:39). He says, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matt 16:24). The Christian is a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1), a constant offering on the altar of God.
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The Business of the Kingdom of GodBy Stephen Le Feuvre — 1 year ago
This kingdom is in our midst but it is not what we thought, or are still thinking today. It is more about the presence of Jesus and his approaching crucifixion in Jerusalem. In fact, in describing the kingdom of God, Jesus used parables that described, not so much its physical nature but more the nature of the king and his citizens. For us who have put our faith in Christ Jesus it is a present reality. This becomes increasingly clear in the parables Jesus tells.
In telling the parable of the ten minas, Jesus of Nazareth made this statement about the business of the kingdom of God:
Calling ten of his servants, [a nobleman] gave them ten minas, and said to them, “Engage in business until I come.” Luke 19:13 ESV
Jesus tells this parable “because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11 ESV). What did he mean by this and what does it mean for us? What is this kingdom? How does this parable shed light on our understanding of this kingdom? And, going deeper, what exactly is the business of the kingdom of God?
To answer these questions in any thorough form, we should take in the whole range of parables and teaching that Jesus has given in the preceding chapters of Luke’s gospel account.
What is the kingdom of God?
Both the gospel writers, Matthew and Luke, recognise that Jesus’ teaching heavily emphasised the nearness of the kingdom of God:
Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ Luke 10:8-11 ESV
Regardless of circumstance or response, Jesus instructed his disciples to declare that the kingdom of God was near. Jesus’ hearers would have been more than pleased to hear this for they had been longing for it. They longed for the kingdom to come and to remove the oppression of the Roman empire from their lives. But while it is near, very near, he is at pains to alert them to their mistaken misunderstanding:
“The kingdom of God is not coming in ways that can be observed, nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.” Luke 17:20,21 ESV
This kingdom is in our midst but it is not what we thought, or are still thinking today. It is more about the presence of Jesus and his approaching crucifixion in Jerusalem. In fact, in describing the kingdom of God, Jesus used parables that described, not so much its physical nature but more the nature of the king and his citizens.
For us who have put our faith in Christ Jesus it is a present reality. This becomes increasingly clear in the parables Jesus tells. But what also becomes clear is that it seems to be about money! Or at the very least it is about our sense of responsibility towards our king’s possessions. It is about the business of the kingdom of God. Let’s look at a few of these parables each in turn.
Responsibility in the Kingdom of God
Understanding the parable of the ten minas.
Returning to the parable of the ten minas, the nobleman in question gave a mina to each of his ten servants.
Sincere and Pure Devotion to ChristBy Denny Burk — 10 months ago
How many of you are taking your eyes off Christ to see if there are any other cute alternatives in the room? Paul says that he is jealous to make sure that he presents Christ’s bride to him not as a roving-eyed adulteress but as a single-minded, pure bride. Paul means for all of us not to be roving-eyed adulteresses but to be single-minded in our devotion to Christ. We never take our eyes off the prize, and the prize is Christ.
For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. –2 Corinthians 11:2-3
The law of Moses implies that it is the father’s responsibility to present a pure bride to her betrothed husband (Deut. 22:13-21). Paul says that he plays the father of the bride in Christ’s “betrothal” to his church. His goal is to present God’s people to Christ a as pure virgin at the wedding ceremony.
Even in our own modern wedding ceremonies, we at least symbolically portray the same thing. A bride wears white to symbolize purity. A father walks the bride down the aisle to present her for marriage to her fiancé and to say that the responsibility of care and protection now belongs to the groom.
One of the best parts of a wedding ceremony is watching the faces of the bride and groom when they first see each other as she comes down the aisle. Their eyes lock, they are looking at one another, and everything and everyone in the room fall away from their attention. All of us watching are craning our neck to see the beautiful bride. Then we are leaning and looking to make sure we see the look on the groom’s face as his eyes meet hers. We want to witness the mutual delight reflected on their faces.
But imagine for a moment what it would be like if while walking down the aisle, their eyes don’t meet.
The Religion of ProgressivismBy Craig A. Carter — 1 year ago
It is no exaggeration to say that the Western church is as much in need of reformation today as it was at the beginning of the sixteenth century. Roman Catholicism still needs drastic reforms, having largely rejected what was offered in the Reformation. Protestantism has drifted from its roots and to a very great extent lost its catholicity. The Evangelical movement has tried to revive nominal Protestantism since the 1730’s but it has failed to maintain a firm hold on the reformation era confessions and thus has drifted theologically. We are losing our grip on the Trinitarian and Christological orthodoxy symbolized in the creeds of the undivided church of the first five centuries. The situation today, like that of the late medieval era, is ideal for the rise of heresies of all sorts.
Satan lacks the ability to create anything totally new, so all heresy is parasitic on the truth. Heresy always involves twisting, eviscerating, or adding to true doctrine. As the Preacher observed three thousand years ago, there truly is “nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Heresy is usually constructed out of whatever building materials happen to be available in each cultural situation. Elements of the pagan religion of Egypt aided Aaron and the people of Israel in the construction of the first idol at the base of Mount Sinai (Exodus 32). The Baal worship of the Canaanites was combined with Israelite religion in the time of Elijah (1 Kings 18:21). The trendy, Eastern cosmology from Persia was used by Marcion and other gnostics in the early church to create gnostic forms of Christianity. Heresy usually involves drawing in ideas, symbols, doctrines, practices, or deities from the religion of the surrounding culture and combining them in some novel fashion with biblical truth to form a new kind of religion.
If this is true, how does heresy take form in a secularized Christendom? It seems that even though non-Christian forms of religion exist in the late modern West, moderns view themselves as post-religious and thus are unlikely to be drawn into a new form of religion constructed out of non-Christian and Christian elements. Do we not live in a post-religious age?
We should not to jump to conclusions on this point. The secularization thesis has fallen on hard times over the past forty years and what seemed obvious to secular-minded observers in the 1960’s is now uncertain and unclear. What is clear is that Western culture is increasingly hostile to catholic, orthodox, Christianity. But it is less clear to what degree the late modern West is really secular. This ambiguity is evident in talk of the “secular religions” such as Communism, Nazism, and Fascism.
Liberal democratic nations, rooted in Christianity, defeated the totalitarian ideologies in World War II and the Cold War, but since 1945 the national religion of western European countries and the anglosphere has undergone massive changes. The best way to describe what has emerged is to speak of it as a new Christian heresy. An heretical form of Christianity has become dominant in the West and pushed catholic orthodoxy into the background as a continuing minority, which is able to exert less and less influence on the culture. The so-called “culture wars” are the imperialistic wars waged by this Christian heresy against the forces of tradition, catholicity, and orthodoxy within both the Roman Church and Protestant churches, and also within Evangelicalism. There are pockets of resistance to this heresy within certain segments of Roman Catholicism and Evangelicalism, but the “mainline” Protestant denominations have been almost totally corrupted by it.
It is easy for conservatives to sneer at the declining numbers of liberal Protestant churches and assume that their cultural influence is negligible. Yet, the law and public opinion keep changing in lockstep with the pronouncements of the liberal clergy and conservatives keep losing court cases, legislative battles, and public opinion polls. It must not be overlooked that many Roman bishops, having noted which way the wind is blowing, have aligned themselves with the growing heresy in order to keep up to their flocks. Liberal theology is as much a problem in the Roman church as it is in any of the Protestant ones. It is difficult to see much difference these days, in practical terms, between the Pope and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Both espouse the new heresy and work tirelessly to see it triumph.
The Heresy of Progressivism
So, what is this heresy? It is, quite simply, the heresy of progressivism. Progressivist Christianity is the new post-catholic, post-protestant, and post-biblical form of Christianity that has swept to power in the late modern west. Like the Golden Calf cult, Baal syncretism, and the Gnostic churches of the early centuries, this new heresy is a synthesis of elements drawn from the surrounding culture and fused with elements of biblical teaching in such a way as to contradict biblical orthodoxy. The key point is not that the new doctrine draws in ideas and practices from outside of biblical faith, but rather that it does so in ways that fundamentally corrupt biblical faith.
There was nothing wrong with the Israelites borrowing from Egyptian religion. God himself copied the portable worship centers, which existed in Egyptian religion, in commanding Israel in Exodus 25-40 to build a tabernacle for Yahweh worship. The floor plan was a design common in temples throughout the ancient Near East. Israel’s tabernacle, however, had no idol in the holy of holies in accordance with the Second Commandment. The creation of the Golden Calf in Exodus 32, on the other hand, was a violation of the Second Commandment and thus is an example of a borrowed practice that could not be reconciled with the Law. The point is that sometimes borrowing non-Christian elements of religion fundamentally corrupts the Christian faith, and results in heresy.
It is, therefore, of crucial importance that theologians clarify for the church what cannot legitimately be borrowed from the culture, but must instead be opposed steadfastly by the church. Many elements of the culture are good or neutral and can be incorporated into the Christian faith. But not all. Discerning where is the line between assimilating and being assimilated is one of theology’s most important tasks.