The church may be in decline, but it is still HIS church. Submit to Jesus who is the head of the church, busy yourself with His Kingdom work and watch your own spiritual life grow, watch the growth of those around you and see the Holy Spirit at work as the Lord transformes people and does wonderful things by His grace.
It doesn’t take long for you to realise that people aren’t happy with the state of the church. Generally speaking, in the Western world you can have a quick google, or speak to a few Christians and very soon you’ll hear complaints about the decline of the church. People say that society has changed which has resulted in fewer people attending church. Some argue that church simply isn’t engaging enough for the younger generations. Others say that the global church needs to change a become more inclusive and take on all sorts of ideologies and beliefs in order to be seen as relevant. Regardless of what people think the solution might be, the reality is that many people are looking at the Western church and seeing a decline.
But the question that comes to my mind is this, it’s all good and well to recognise that decline, but what are you doing about it, are you concerned enough to do something or do you contribute to that decline? This question is not just for church leaders but for every single person who goes to church and who would call themselves a Christian. Are you concerned enough to do something or do you contribute to that decline?
It’s easy to stand on the sidelines and to point the finger. It’s easy to stand amongst the crowd at a football match and shout instructions to the players with thousands of others. But you’re not playing, you don’t know the strategy, you don’t have the ball and you probably wouldn’t be able to score even if the goalie had one hand tied behind his back. In football, we get that. But it’s similar with the church. It is easy to stand on the sidelines, to raise your voice and say where the church is going wrong and how the status quo won’t suffice. But the difference with the church is that you’re called to get involved, to take the ball and to run with it.
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By Seth Lewis — 11 months ago
Trusting God means acting on the knowledge that he knows what he’s talking about, even when his commands don’t make sense to me. Even before I see God’s provision. Even when provision looks impossible. Even when obedience is costly. Even if God doesn’t provide in the ways I think he should. Trusting God means being willing to get my feet wet, knowing that God’s promises will hold, and that in his own way, God’s hand will provide what is needed for the next step.
In 1998, Eva Cassidy recorded an old spiritual called “Wade in the water”. I was listening to her sing it in my car just recently:
Wade in the waterWade in the water, childrenWade in the waterGod’s gonna trouble the water
The lyrics are simple, but this water runs deep. As you’d expect from a spiritual, the reference is biblical. The rest of the song speaks of the children of Israel on the banks of the Jordan river, ready to cross into the promised land. In Joshua chapter 3, God tells the priests of Israel to carry the ark of the covenant, the symbol of his relationship with his people and presence with them, to the edge of the flooded river and stand in the water. They obeyed, and as soon as their feet got wet, God began to stop the flow of a mighty river and clear a path for his people to walk across on dry land.
Dry land—but the feet of the priests were still wet. They were wet because they had to “wade in the water” before God “troubled the water” for them. They had to obey before they saw the provision. They had to take a very literal step of faith into what was entirely impossible for them, trusting that God would keep his promise to take them across. It would have looked pretty silly for them to stand on the edge of the river if God never parted it. But he did.
The same dynamic plays out over and over again in the life of God’s people: we are often faced with situations where we must choose if we will trust God’s promises of provision, or turn away from where he is leading us in order to blaze our own path, by our own means. We like the sound of God’s promises for his children.
By Gary Yagel — 3 months ago
Today’s Christians have been armed with the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God to wield in the battle over the gender ideas that will shape the rising generation in our nation, churches, and homes. But many Christian men are leaving their swords in their sheaths. Please, don’t do that. A lot of children and grandchildren are depending upon us to fight this battle for them.
Today we begin our June series, “How God Uses Imperfect Dads to Impact Their Kid’s Lives,” with a look at the responsibility of Christian men to protect fatherhood itself in our culture by speaking out against the erosion of the biblical worldview of gender. What do you think of this statement? All that is necessary for woke forces to “cancel” fatherhood today is for Christian men to say nothing to stop them. The widespread attack in our culture upon gender roles is, at its core, an assault upon God’s creation design of the institution of the family–one man and one woman bound in the covenant of marriage to be the family where human children flourish.
The National Fatherhood Initiative, along with men’s ministries like Iron Sharpens Iron, have named June, National Fatherhood Month. A Google search also reveals other jurisdictions such as Fairfax County, VA, which have named June, Fatherhood Awareness Month. During a month when every Christian cringes at the promotion of the destructive LGBTQ+ life by naming June “Gay Pride Month,” Christians now have a gracious way to say, “I believe the gay life is destructive; I am celebrating National Fatherhood Month instead.” Will Christians be as passionate about promoting fatherhood this month as LGBTQ+ advocates are about promoting gay pride? This episode examines why our words promoting fatherhood need to be heard by our children, grandchildren, neighbors, and work associates. It further suggests winsome ways to present the biblical worldview that fatherhood is vital for human flourishing.
God has entrusted his revelation to his people so that we can enrich the rest of culture with its wisdom. Abraham, the father of both the Old Covenant and New Covenant people of God was chosen, with his posterity, to be a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:2-3). Jesus taught that his followers must shine our lights into the darkest corners of human existence, spreading truth about flourishing throughout the earth (Mt 5:14). The most important part of that light is revealing the truth that life is in Jesus—but that is not our only message. In God’s good plan for earth, the salt of the biblical worldview of sexuality, his design of gender and the family, injustice, and oppression, must be expressed by God’s people to preserve the earth, holding back the decay of sin (Matt 5:13): Our biblical worldview must spread like leaven throughout culture if we are to be faithful kingdom members (Mt 13:33).
Considering this clear calling, the blinding speed of gender theory’s spread throughout our culture in the last decade raises the question, “are Christians speaking up about gender issues? Or are we too afraid of being labeled patriarchal oppressors, gay bashers or transphobes?” Some Christian writers have flat out said that Christians who say nothing to stand against the gender blending forces in our culture are cowards. It is not my place to judge other Christian leaders, but the words of Martin Luther seem to have great significance today. He wrote,
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are attacking at that moment, I am not being faithful to Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all battlefields, is mere flight and disgrace, if he flinches at that point. (Who Speaks for God, Chuck Colson).
The Biblical Worldview of Fatherhood
A. God himself is called God the Father. Names matter in Scripture. God did not call himself God the Mother. Jesus repeatedly called the first person of the Trinity, Father, teaching his disciples to do the same (Mt 6:9). When Jesus gave his marching orders to his church, he commanded, Go and make disciples, baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of The Holy Spirit. There is something about the very nature of God that is described by the word, father.
B. Male/female distinctions matter to God. In God’s revelation to us about our own creation, God devotes five verses in Genesis 1 to emphasizing that Adam and Eve equally share the dignity of being God’s image bearers. In Genesis 2, God devotes twenty-one verses to showing how differently he created Adam and Eve. In a perfectly parallel structure, God emphasizes how differently he created male and female to be.
Adam is: 1) made FOR the ground–the garden is described as needing a gardener, 2:5, 2) made FROM the ground–2:7, 3) given a name that means ground–2:20, 4) called to work the ground–2:15. 5) When he sins, what is cursed is the ground (3:17). Eve is: 1) made FOR the man–to provide companionship–2:18), 2) made FROM the man–2:21, 3) given the name woman ISHA because she came out of the man ISH–2:23, 4) called to be a partner with the man–2:20. 5) When she sins, what is cursed is her relationship with the man and their kids–3:16.
Why, in the creation story, would God devote just five verses to Adam and Eve’s identical roles but four times that number, (twenty-one) to their differences? The only answer I can come up with is because the differences are important. For four -thousand years of history, these differences have been recognized, and they have been fully substantiated by science. It is only OUR CULTURE, because of the influence of the LGBTQ+ movement, that attempts to deny the obvious male/female differences in design. Our children, grandchildren, neighbors and work associates need to hear how important male/female differences are in the mind of God.
C. After our race’s fall, the paradigm for our restored personal relationship with God is calling him Abba. Paul observes, For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” All believers have the privilege of calling the God of the universe, Abba! Father! Paul does not say that we can now call God Mama.
D. In God’s book, the Bible, history does not begin with government, or even the church; it begins with a wedding—that of Adam and Eve. And it ends with a wedding—the marriage super of the Lamb. The institution that God chose for perpetuating the human race is the family, where the child is loved by both a father and a mother. Creation itself tells us that the nuclear family is not just a social construct. The biological fact that conception takes place in the context of husband and wife making love speaks volumes about the best environment for a child to be nurtured to healthy adulthood. In God’s obvious creation design, for a child to fully thrive, he needs a family built on mom and dad’s love for each other, not a village. Radical extremists on both the right (Hitler) and the left (Mao Tse Tung) claimed that children belonged to the state, not to parents.
E. Through Paul, God spells out the way he wants the human family structured. Paul defines the different responsibilities of wives, then husbands, then children—commanding them to obey their parents. So, we might expect the next group Paul addresses to be parents; but it is not. How about mothers? No. It is striking that when Paul addresses household responsibilities, especially the training of the children, he doesn’t mention mothers but gives commands to fathers. This pattern of responsibility began with Abraham, the Father of the Christian Faith.
By Lorraine Boettner — 6 months ago
Loraine Boettner was following in his tradition when, in the early 1900s, he created his own diatessaron for classroom use at Pikeville College, Kentucky, where he was a professor. This book used the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV), which Boettner preferred over the King James, and was published by Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing as A Harmony of the Gospels.
The Gospel of Jesus: The Four Gospels in a Single Complete Narrative by Loraine Boettner.
In the mid-100s, Tatian the Syrian arranged the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John into a single narrative and called it the Diatessaron, a Greek term meaning “Out of Four.” His innovation proved inspiring to others through the centuries. Reformed theologian and author Loraine Boettner was following in his tradition when, in the early 1900s, he created his own diatessaron for classroom use at Pikeville College, Kentucky, where he was a professor. This book used the 1901 American Standard Version (ASV), which Boettner preferred over the King James, and was published by Presbyterian & Reformed Publishing as A Harmony of the Gospels.
This new edition of Boettner’s diatessaron differs in several ways from the original, yet the bones are the same. Although the ASV has much to commend it, we have used the Christian Standard Bible for its clear, familiar vocabulary and ease of reading. We have updated, revised, and added to Boettner’s headings and adjusted dates he provided to better reflect contemporary scholarly consensus.1
In formatting the new edition, we have walked a careful line between providing as much information as possible and promoting a user-friendly reading experience. Full Scripture references for all the New Testament texts are given in the margins, where the eye can easily find or look past them as desired. In cases where more than one gospel writer recorded the same event or teaching, we have printed the account that gives it most fully and have inserted additional distinct material from parallel gospel accounts in [brackets] at the appropriate places; some punctuation and paragraph breaks have also been inserted as clarity required. Bolded text indicates a quotation from, or reference to, an Old Testament passage, and an index on page 213 provides further details. Italicized text indicates a non-English word or, when applied to English text, an editorial insertion or substitution. Scripture references are marked with asterisks (*) when they are for passages that do not appear in all the earliest manuscripts of Scripture. (Not all these passages are included in this book.) The abbreviations found in the margins signify the following New Testament books:
Mt MatthewMk MarkLk LukeJn John1 Cor 1 Corinthians
This book is no substitute for a Bible. It is no substitute for reading the gospels individually: each gospel is inspired and offers a distinct perspective on Christ. And yet we hope you will find The Gospel of Jesus to be a helpful resource for Bible study. This harmony is not intended to flatten out the distinctive voices of the gospel writers but to direct you back to their individual gospels with fresh understanding and appreciation.
Amanda MartinEditorial DirectorP&R Publishing2023
For the timeline that guided our adjustments, see CSB Study Bible (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2017), 1494–95, 1662–63.
Here is an example of the Temptation narrative:
WILDERNESS OF JUDEA
Lk 4:1-2 Then Jesus left the Jordan, full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit in
the wilderness for forty days to be tempted by the devil.
Mk 1:13 He was with the wild animals.
Mt 4:2-11 After he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. Then the
tempter approached him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these
stones to become bread.”
He answered, “It is written: “Man must not live on bread alone but on every
word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Lk 4:9 Then the devil took him to the holy city [Jerusalem], had him stand on the
pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw
yourself down. For it is written:
Lk 4:10 “He will give his angels orders concerning you, [to protect you,]
and they will support you with their hand so that you will not strike your foot
against a stone.”
Jesus told him, “It is also written: ”Do not test the Lord your God.”
Lk 4:5 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the
kingdoms of the world [in a moment of time] and their splendor.
And he said to him, “I will give you all these
Lk 4:6-7 things if you will fall down and worship me [because it has been given
over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want. If you, then, will worship me, all
will be yours].”
Then Jesus told him, “Go away, Satan! For it is written: Worship the Lord your
God, and serve only him.”
Lk 4:13 Then the devil left him [for a time], and angels came and began to serve him.