Jesus referred to the gospel as the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23). The Kingdom was our Lord’s preeminent teaching, illustrated in parables and demonstrated in works of power that showed authority over Satan and reversal of the effects of the fall. For us to embrace the gospel is to recognize Christ as King.
conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear (1 Peter 1:17, NKJV)
What comes to mind when you hear the word “gospel”? You may well think of the good news of great joy announced by the heavenly messenger to the shepherds outside Bethlehem. In the gospel is found a righteousness from God that is by faith in what Christ achieved and not by works done by us. It holds the promise of forgiveness of sins and life eternal.
But the gospel is more than that, just like Christ’s redeeming work involved more than just us. It reaches to the entire creation (Rom. 8). We are not merely new creatures; we are part of a new creation that speaks to the Kingdom of God.
Jesus referred to the gospel as the “gospel of the kingdom” (Matt. 4:23).
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By T.M. Suffield — 3 months ago
Written by T. M. Suffield |
Monday, September 25, 2023
You don’t have to be best friends with everyone you invite over but we are supposed to welcome strangers. Do it by degrees, go a little further than before, but make your table a hub of life and hope to those who eat at it. Beyond the commands of scripture, we could talk about cultural benefits and statistics and do some delightful social science, but let’s not. Instead, think of this. When you were far off, a rebel and exile from the presence of the living God, he decided to lay a table for you to come and eat at.
One of the qualifications for elders is hospitality (1 Timothy 3, Titus 1), which means ‘welcoming strangers.’ While this is an absolute expectation of pastors, most of the qualifications describe the ordinary Christian life. We’re meant to be welcoming strangers, and we’re all meant to be doing it (Hebrews 13).
Yet, we’re terrible at it.
It’s natural and human to be better at welcoming people who are like you than people who aren’t. You have a better sense of what they would receive as a welcome, conversation flows more easily because you have more things in common, and though we are often uncomfortable with the fact of it we also prefer to welcome those like us. There’s something in all humans where like calls to like.
This can be a normal innocuous, human thing, or it can grow into the excesses of racism or other prejudices. We shouldn’t be overly dismayed if you notice that you find it easier to welcome people who are like you. Welcome requires walls, and the walls of your household are more likely to be comfortably shaped for those whose walls look similar. That’s life.
Christians are also compelled to step out of our worlds and welcome the stranger. This means the literal stranger, the person you haven’t met at all before—I am now used to meeting people for the first time in my kitchen, strange though that would sound to many people—but it also means the person who is different to you. Those differences can be small or large, sometimes we are trying to join hands over vast cultural gulfs. We are not commanded to be the best of friends (though you can be!) but to welcome.
It’s not easy to do the difficult thing and have people in your home who you think you’ll struggle to talk to or that you’ll struggle to feed (hot sauce for West African friends who think your food is dreadfully bland is a winner), but we should.
By Mary Szoch — 2 years ago
Thankfully, some states (18) have their own laws requiring medical care to be given to abortion survivors; however, D.C. has no such law. This fact makes it even more necessary that the D.C. medical examiner perform an autopsy on the five babies found to determine if they suffered an illegal abortion or an act of infanticide.
A month has passed since the bodies of five fully developed babies were recovered from Cesare Santangelo’s abortion business, Washington Surgi-Clinic, and still, the D.C. medical examiner has not performed autopsies on them, despite the suspicious circumstances of their deaths.
All five babies appear to have been old enough to survive outside the womb, and it is widely speculated that Washington Surgi-Clinic might have broken the law in bringing about their deaths. Since there is no evidence to suggest they were aborted legally, multiple physicians have suggested that the babies’ deaths might have been caused by partial-birth abortion, infanticide, or a violation of the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.
Sadly, in Washington, D.C., abortion is legal through birth. However, partial-birth abortion (i.e., when an abortionist intentionally kills a child after the child has already partially emerged from the birth canal) is illegal per federal law. And D.C. has several city laws that could apply if any of the five babies were, in fact, born alive (such as prohibitions against murder, prohibitions against “cruelty to children,” and a newborn safe haven law).
D.C. officials’ decision not to investigate the deaths of these five babies is consistent with the lack of concern for—and even promotion of—infanticide around the country.
In recent months, there has been a disturbing increase in efforts to legalize infanticide. A bill being considered in California, AB 2223, would allow mothers to escape criminal charges if they killed their children within the “perinatal period.” The radically pro-abortion World Health Organization’s definition of the perinatal period includes “until 7 completed days after birth.” Notably, similar legislation was introduced in Maryland this year and failed.
By Nick Roark — 2 years ago
Sibbes wrote this book for “bruised reeds,” for heartbroken, distressed, and discouraged Christians. He shows from God’s word that Christ will neither break them nor quench them; instead, he cherishes them. Sibbes beckons the hurting and weary Christian to look to Christ for comfort and strength, knowing that since he has finished his work for us, he will most certainly finish his work in us. By looking to Christ, “we see salvation not only strongly wrought, but sweetly dispensed by him” (Works, 1:40).
Some sentences can change your life. One written four hundred years ago changed mine: “There is more mercy in Christ than sin in us” (Works of Richard Sibbes, 1:47).
The author was one of the greatest preachers of the Puritan age, Richard Sibbes (1577–1635), and the sentence is found in his greatest book, The Bruised Reed, in which he “scatters pearls and diamonds with both hands,” as Charles Spurgeon put it (Lectures to My Students, 778). That sentence, and that book, ignited in me a passion to spend time every month reading dead pastors, like Sibbes, who point me to the living Christ. The Bruised Reed just might do the same for you.
Sibbes was born in Suffolk, England, in 1577, and grew up in a Christian home. He began his studies at Cambridge at the age of 18. After he was converted to Christ in 1603, he began to faithfully minister the gospel to others. Over the next three decades, those who heard Sibbes preach in Cambridge and London often called him “The Sweet Dropper,” because of his tenderhearted gift of “unfolding and applying the great mysteries of the gospel in a sweet way” (Works, 3:4).
After receiving his doctorate of divinity from Cambridge in 1627, he was often referred to as the “heavenly Doctor Sibbes,” on account of his heavenly minded life and doctrine. A couplet was written about him upon his death on July 6, 1635, at the age of 58: “Of that good man let this high praise be given: Heaven was in him before he was in heaven” (Meet the Puritans, 535).
Sibbes regularly wrote out his sermons, leaving behind over two million words on paper. But The Bruised Reed is far and away his best-remembered and most-treasured book. It’s considered a classic of Puritan devotion, a paradigm of practical divinity. It’s easy to see why.
The book is a Christ-exalting exposition and application of Isaiah 42:3, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice.” Following Matthew’s lead (Matthew 12:18–20), Sibbes understands this prophetic text about the servant of the Lord, the one in whom God delights, and upon whom the Spirit dwells (Isaiah 42:1), to be fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.
Over the course of sixteen brief chapters, Sibbes unfolds his argument in three parts: (1) Christ will not break the bruised reed; (2) Christ will not quench the smoking flax (or “burning wick”); (3) Christ will not do either of these things until he has sent forth judgment into victory.
Balm for Weary Believers
Why might Christians today read this book written by a preacher in London nearly four centuries ago?
For this reason: since its initial publication in 1630, countless weary Christians have found The Bruised Reed to be full of encouragement for the downcast and full of strength for the weak — because it is full of Jesus Christ, the merciful and mighty Savior of sinners.
In his book Preaching and Preachers, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “I shall never cease to be grateful to Richard Sibbes who was balm to my soul at a period in my life when I was overworked and badly overtired, and therefore subject in an unusual manner to the onslaughts of the devil. . . . The ‘Heavenly Doctor Sibbes’ was an unfailing remedy. . . . The Bruised Reed quieted, soothed, comforted, encouraged and healed me” (Preaching and Preachers, 186–87).