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“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.”
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1
Over the years, I’ve said a lot about the seasonal nature of the church and the seasonal nature of the Christian life.
What is true for the church and for the individual Christian is also true for spiritual service or ministry. It too passes through different seasons.
God built seasons into His creation for many reasons. One of which is to teach us spiritual lessons. “First the natural, then the spiritual” . . . “Does not nature teach you?”
Take Paul of Tarsus, for example. Paul’s ministry was centered on preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ and establishing churches upon that revelation. But Paul didn’t always do that.
After his first church planting trip, Paul spent a lengthy period of time with the church in Antioch, a church he didn’t plant. Following his third church planting trip, he spent time with the church in Jerusalem, another church he didn’t plant.
There were also seasons where God sovereignly limited Paul, allowing him to undergo imprisonment for a period of years.[Continue Reading…]
Recently, I delivered a message to a group of Christians in their 20s and 30s. I entitled it “Living in the Divine Parenthesis.” Among other things, I tackled the issue of good works and the seasonal nature of a local church.
Ever since I’ve been a Christian, I’ve been taught two different things regarding good works. In my early years as a believer, my spiritual tutors told me that “good works” (also referred to as “good deeds” and “doing good” in the New Testament) was a religious duty and obligation.
Consequently, I (and everyone I knew) viewed good works with a legalistic lens, seeing them as demands that we must fulfill in our own strength and power.
If you want to make God happy, you have to do “good works,” which are the evidence of real faith (so I was told).
Later, I was exposed to another Christian tradition that reacted against this understanding. This tradition taught that good works was anathema. “We’re under grace, so good works isn’t something we have to worry about.” Therefore, those Scriptures that talked about “doing good” were associated with legalism, so we were told to ignore them.[Continue Reading…]
“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
~ Matthew 6:10
As long as I’ve been a Christian, I’ve noted two things that believers routinely get riled up about. One is the role of the Spirit vs. the role of the Scriptures. Christians seem to fall off one side of the horse or the other on this issue.
Over the years, I’ve watched countless fruitless Word vs. Spirit debates that descended into noise. They are fruitless because both the Scriptures and the Spirit work together. And what God has joined together shouldn’t be separated. When I watch people debate this issue today, I quickly begin yawning.
In the same way, I’ve watched countless Christians get roped into fruitless outreach vs. inreach debates. Some maintain that the church exists for outreach (these churches tend to have a rather thin and spiritually shallow community life). Others object that the church exists for community (these churches tend to be insular and ingrown).
The outreach vs. inreach debate is fruitless because it virtually always ignores two things. (1) That an authentic church will pass through seasons (I’ve discussed the seasonal nature of the ekklesia at length in Finding Organic Church), and (2) There are four chief aspects of the church’s mission on earth, all of which are vital.[Continue Reading…]
“Frank, you talk a lot about preaching Jesus Christ as opposed to preaching ‘things.’ This really resonates. I’ve never heard you speak yet, so can you give me examples from your own preaching of what ‘preaching Christ’ looks and sounds like?”
I’m posting my answer here as I believe it will be of interest to some of you. What follows are some examples. Each message seeks to unveil the staggering glories of the Lord Jesus Christ. Click the link to hear them.
On a related note, I’ve had many conversations with preachers (and teachers) in which they’ve complained that they often “run out” of things to preach. And thus they’re always on the look-out for new “sermon material.” [Continue Reading…]
Ever since Sabellius and Arius, the triune nature of God has been under attack. The erroneous doctrines that these men invented dating back to the third century continue to be repeated in various forms. And they are strongly promoted by organizations like the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Most of the people who reject the triune nature of God do so because they’ve been fed false descriptions or silly illustrations of it by uninformed Christians and Sunday school teachers. Either that, or they’ve been handed incorrect information about it’s development, thinking that it’s some soert of new doctrine that was forced upon the church. This also is not the case.
I’ve been very clear in my affirmation of the Godhead, along with C.S. Lewis and every other orthodox Christian theologian and scholar. And I’ve read every argument against it, finding them all unconvincing.
For the small number of people who have been sold on the idea that God is not triune, I suggest they begin with The Forgotten Trinity by James White and go on to the other books listed below. These books successfully shred the notion that the triune God is a “pagan” idea.
The teaching that the triune nature of God is pagan is a myth based on a distorted version of history. This myth comes from the same people who teach that Jesus’ virgin birth, His deity, and His resurrection are also myths based on the pagan mystery religions of the past. It’s essential that we accurately distinguish what comes from Greco-Roman paganism and what comes from Jesus and the apostles. Some confuse the two, unfortunately.
Yes, the word “Trinity” isn’t in the Bible. So what? The triune nature of God and the Divinity and unity of Father, Son, and Spirit are well attested in Scripture. The word “Bible” isn’t in the Bible either. Neither is “canon.” Neither is “mission.” And neither is “organic church,” though the best theologians agree that the New Testament presents the ekklesia as a living organism.[Continue Reading…]
There’s a lot of talk today about “mission” and being “missional.” But a terribly important question that rarely gets asked is: What is the Mission of God exactly?
Upon that question hangs the Law and the Prophets.
There’s hardly a consensus on this specific query among missional theologians and practitioners right now. But I believe it will set the tone and shape of the discourse about “missional” over the next 5 years.[Continue Reading…]