Dec 29, 2009

Gnostic Christianity

Too many Christians view the gospel as a massage of escape from the world God has created. They see the world as corrupt and dying and think that one day Christ will return to take us away from this world to a "spiritual" place called heaven. This is nothing less than evidence that gnosticism is alive and well in the Church in our day.

To understand the gospel more correctly or more fully, we must begin to see that the core message of the gospel is not one of escape, but one of resurrection. God does not abandon His creation -- He takes it up and transforms it. This is most clearly see in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

This is the 'newness' of life that we hope for -- that God will completely transform this world into what He always intended it to be and that, in Christ, we will be a part of that totally transformed world.


Nov 5, 2009

A Christian Against "Christianity"

I am a Christian - but I am often times against "Christianity". I know this sounds strange to many, but let me try to explain.

"Christianity" is often defined (either by actual words or actions) as a particular set of doctrines or a system of ideas. I do not believe that this is what the Church is or was ever meant to be.

"Christianity" is sometimes, more rightly, defined to embrace not only her beliefs (doctrines), but also the practices of the Church. Her liturgies and ways of living in community. -- This is far better, but insofar as the beliefs and practices of Christianity are seen as "religious" beliefs and practices over against "secular" or "political" or "social" practices -- insofar as "Christianity" is seen as a "religious" layer added onto human life -- this definition still misses the mark.

This is the error of "Christianity"!

The Church is a new creation and Christians are those who participate in this new creation. All of the Christian's life is transformed, not just the "religious" part.


Sep 20, 2009

Where Do We Worship?

When God's people (the Church) gather together to worship -- heaven is a place on earth! -- REALLY! We are REALLY in the presence of the Almighty and His heavenly host!

If this is true, how should this effect the way we approach worship?

Sep 17, 2009

I'm Right, You're Wrong

Everyone likes to be right. I like it when I'm right. Makes me feel good about myself. And I sure like to tell others when I'm right. How about you? But when I'm wrong I do my best not to make too much of it.

Within the Church, every denomination from RC to EO and Protestants are more than happy to tell you how right they are. They are more than happy to tell each other (and themselves) how right they are about every theological topic under the sun.

When the topic of unity or ecumenism is broached within the Church the discussions will always deteriorate to the default position of ...... "but I'm right on this or that". Which is another way of pointing out how the other person/denomination/Church is wrong.

One thing I've noticed about conflicts is that the surest way to keep the conflict going is to keep pointing out to the other person how right you are. I've especially learned this within the sanctity of marriage. If I want to really tick my wife off, all I have to do is point out how obvious it should be to her that I am right.

Maybe this insight could be carried over to the problem of disunity within the Body of Christ (The Church). Instead of every person/Church/denomination focusing on all the areas where we are right, maybe we should first focus on all of the areas where we are clearly wrong.

If you think I'm crazy, just try this the next time you're in an argument with your wife, brother, sister, friend, co-worker or whoever. Stop trying to prove you're right and admit to the other person first where you have been wrong. Ask them to forgive you and leave it at that. See how fast they respond to you. See how fast you are reconciled to that person.

Is this the answer to disunity in the Church? It sounds so crazy that it just might work.

Lord, forgive us of the sin of dividing your body and give us the humility to admit that we are wrong.

Sep 5, 2009

Irenaeus on Faith and The Church

"The Church, though dispersed through our the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations132 of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one,"133 and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, "every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess"134 to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all;...."

"As I have already observed, the Church, having received this preaching and this faith, although scattered throughout the whole world, yet, as if occupying but one house, carefully preserves it. She also believes these points [of doctrine] just as if she had but one soul, and one and the same heart, and she proclaims them, and teaches them, and hands them down, with perfect harmony, as if she possessed only one mouth."

From Irenaeus' Against Heresies, Chapter 10

Is this what the Church looks like today?


Aug 22, 2009


".... John, the Lord's disciple, went to take a bath at Ephesus, but, seeing Cerinthus inside, he rushed out of the bathhouse without bathing, crying, "Let's get out of here lest the place fall in: Cerinthus, the enemy of truth is inside!" Polycarp himself, when Marcion once met him and asked, "Don't you recognize me?" replied, "I do indeed: I recognize the firstborn of Satan!" So careful were the apostles and their disciples not even to converse with any mutilators of the truth, as Paul also said, "After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned" (Titus 3:10-11)". "

From Book 3 of Irenaeus's Against Heresies (Against Heresies 3.3)

Do we love the truth this much?


Aug 17, 2009

Questions That Only You Can Answer

There seems to be so much discontentment among Christians. I think that much of what we see in the Church today comes from this lack of contentment. Have you noticed all of the different 'programs/ministries' that are offered by local congregations?

One thing that is central to modern philosophies of ministry is that we must offer enough ministries in our local Churches to keep all of our members "plugged in". Modern pastors are scared to death that their members will get bored and go across town to the hip Church with all of the cool ministries that will keep everyone from 'little jr'. to grandma occupied and entertained. ....................phooey!

Someone asked me a question once that really impacted me and the way I evaluate the Christian life (both individually and corporately). It's one of those questions that, I am convinced, is foundational to checking ourselves to make sure our focus is right as Christians. It's foundational to and absolutely necessary for real contentment in the Christian life. And I want to share it with you.

Ready? ........
If everything you have come to know and love about life in the local Church was stripped away, ... (all of the programs: Sunday school, choir, committee meetings, building programs, children's church, VBS, ladies this, men's that, teen whatever.) ... if all of the 'stuff' we do "at Church" was to disappear or be taken away ....................... would Christ alone be enough for you? Would you be content or would you go looking for another Church that had all of the stuff?

Think about this question and be honest with yourself.


Aug 11, 2009

How Many Churches are There?

Can we really say we believe this?

".... And I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church;..."

I recite this every week along with brothers and sisters at the local congregation where we worship and commune with the one true and living God. And every week I'm a little saddened when it comes time to say this part of the Creed.

Our 'individualistic' tendencies don't just involve the individual. We exhibit a type of individualism when we think of our local congregation or our denomination as "the Church" and fail to properly discern the whole body of Christ.

We can say we believe in "one holy catholic and apostolic Church" all we want, but until we start living it we don't really believe it!


Jul 25, 2009

The Flock, The whole Flock and Nothing but The Flock

As I have mentioned before, I think that our self-centered, individualistic tendencies are at the root of many of the problems facing today's Church. We too often think of 'Christianity' in terms of "my personal relationship with Jesus" and fail to understand that this 'relationship' does not exist apart from the body of Christ -- The Church.

Ordinarily, the relationship we have with our triune God can only exist within the context of His covenanted body of believers, -- NOT apart from it in our personal prayer closets during our personal quiet times. Don't get me wrong, I'm not speaking against personal devotion. I'm simply trying to put it in perspective.

Our 'Christian' bookstores are full of books on how to strengthen your personal this and personal that. Pastors have come to see their roles as assisting people on their "personal spiritual journeys". Instead of shepherding the flock as a flock (1 Pet. 5:2), pastors have been convinced (by modern philosophies/ methodologies/ seminaries) that their main function is to be 'personal spiritual guides' for individual sheep .......... baaaah.

Have you ever heard, seen or experienced anything like this? Have you ever thought this way yourself? ............. What say you?


Jul 20, 2009

I Think We Can Fix It!

This pretty much sums up the modern approach to 'doing' Church.

Jul 15, 2009

WHAT is 'The Gospel'?

What is the Gospel?

Seems like an easy enough question, right? Ask this question of most Christians and you will probably get an answer that goes something like this:
"It is the message of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. - And, by grace through faith, if you believe in Him (Jesus), God will credit Jesus' righteousness to you and your sin to Him so that you will have had your sins atoned for on the cross and you will be justified in the sight of God." --(At this point some may add that this is what qualifies you for heaven when you die.)

All things being equal, I don't think that statements like this are all together wrong or unbiblical. What I do think is that this statement (or some variation of it) doesn't answer the question that was asked. Statements like this are better suited for questions of HOW God has achieved His gospel purposes (IMO). The how of the gospel and the what of the gospel, while inextricably linked, are simply not the same thing.

If my premise is correct, this still leaves the original question unanswered. So I'll ask it again. WHAT is the Gospel?

Wade B.

Jul 7, 2009

Marks Of The Modern "Evanjellyfish"

The following is taken from an article by Mike Scruggs which you can find here. These are the "five points of Evanjellyfish Christianity". Remember that you don't have to embrace all five points to be an Evanjellyfish. By affirming any one of these points you may be well on your way down the road to modern Evanjellyfishism.

He modifies the TULIP acronym that commonly denotes the popular "five points of Calvinism".

T = TOLERANCE. The underlying principle here is that all moral or theological truths are relative and equal no matter what their source.

U = UNTHINKING CONFORMITY to majority or popular opinion, especially if supported by the mainstream media, publishing, and educational institutions. Again, for the evanjellyfish Christian, acceptance and respectability are more important than truth.

L = LIBERTY of conscience in ALL things. Contrary to traditional and especially Reformed Christianity in which there is a place for liberty of conscience on questions not addressed or given any ethical preference in Scripture, the evanjellyfish Christian has a remarkable tendency to apply this liberty to everything that they choose.

I = the notion that INEQUALITY IS EVIL. There are, of course, many areas where some sorts of equality are preferable, such as equal justice under the law, etc. However, the evanjellyfish Christian expands the concept to areas that make no common sense and cannot be justified by Scripture or a study of nature. It is particularly repugnant to them that any differences in intellect, personality, and aptitudes exist among mankind.

P = The principle is PERSONAL PEACE and PROSPERITY at any PRICE. There is hardly any truth they will not ignore to achieve this. They will go along with the silliest and most inane proposals by demagogues, charlatans, and crackpots, so long as their acceptance, respectability, personal peace, and prosperity can remain intact.

So, where do you stand? Are you an "Evanjellyfish"?

Jul 6, 2009


How do we know what God has created us to be? -- By looking at Him. When we are informed in Genesis that we were created "in His own image"(Gen 1:26), we are given great insight into where we should look to figure out 'who' we are and 'what' we have been created for.

One thing that strikes me about the nature of God is that He is both one and many. He has revealed to us that He has eternally existed as a Trinity or as a community. Specifically, God exists as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit in perfect unity, a community of self-giving love. Thus, as His people, we have been recreated in Christ to live as a community and to be a reflection of God's self-giving love.

This community is the new creation. This community is the new humanity. This community is the Church.

Jul 4, 2009

Happy 4th of July

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America

"When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. ..."

So what should we say to those who claim that "God should be kept out of government"?

Jul 3, 2009


"Religion is private: This is the heresy of Christianity in a nutshell." -- Peter J. Leithart


Some Evangelicals fail to see The Church's rituals as vital to the life of the Church because they have convinced themselves (or have been convinced by their pastors) that rituals, while vital to the 'Old Testament System', have been done away with by Christ under the 'New Testament System'. Thus they see any type of 'ritual' by the Church to be a reversion back to the "old" ways.

To 'modern' people (like us) rituals that involve a sacrifice and blood seem like some sort of throw-back to less civilized times. After all, didn't Jesus do away with the need for bloody sacrifice and performing of rituals? ..... An honest look at the scriptures must conclude that the answer to this is NO! We still offer to God a bloody sacrifice for the remission of our sins and through the ritual of the Lord's Supper remind YHWH and ourselves of the "blood of the New Covenant which is poured out for many" (Mark 14:24).

What we too often fail to realize is that Jesus didn't do away with sacrifice or ritual. What He did was take sacrifice and ritual up into Himself and transform them ............. make them "new". I guess you could say that under the New Covenant, sacrifice and ritual have been 'born again'.

Our rituals have been transformed from rituals of exclusion to rituals of inclusion. They have been instituted to teach us that "the Gospel" is not about you or me individually, but about the "New community" that has been created in Christ. This is what the common bath "One Baptism" and the common meal "One Cup and One Loaf" are all about. They teach us that we must die to self. They teach us that we must become like Jesus.

Jesus' ushering in the New Covenant did not mark a movement from a time of ritual to a time of non-ritual. It marked a time of change in the rituals we have been commanded to perform as God's people.

Jun 24, 2009


"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 at the moment attacking, I am not confessing 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 the battle fields besides is merely flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point."        --Martin Luther

The "Modern" Church and the Sacraments

Most modern Churches in Protestantism have relegated the Sacraments (Ordinances for most) to what can best be described as appendixes to "real ministry". In today's Church it isn't unusual to see pastors delay Baptism for new converts for months and sometimes years. In today's Church it isn't considered abnormal to take the bread and wine(or Welch's) of The Supper once per year. Or, if you're lucky, once per quarter. ............. but Why?

I'm convinced that the answer is to be found in the 'culture of individualism' which has infiltrated the Church. I think this is most clear with regard to The Lord's Supper, but is also true for Baptism. In both, it is a case of a rejection of 'ritual'. And this rejection of ritual is rooted in favoring individualism over community. There are certainly other factors involved, like rationalism and the Protestant tendency to idolize the intellect, but individualism is at the root. 

The ritual of Baptism is about inclusion into the community (body) of Christ and the ritual of the Lord's Supper is all about the sustaining of that community. The Sacraments communicate to us and to the world (at least in part) that in Christ we have forsaken our individualism and self-centeredness for community. This community is the "new man" or the "new creation" that Christ has brought about by His life, death and resurrection. 

To reject the Sacraments or treat them as unimportant appendixes to the life of the Church is to embrace modern culture's disdain for ritual. Modern culture rejects ritual because it is seen as an infringement on 'individual rights'. 

Is it any wonder that the "modern" Church has all but rejected our 'rituals'?

Wade B.

Jun 21, 2009

What is man?

What a question: "What is man?". This is the question the Psalmist asks in Psalm 8. Depending on who you ask, you are likely to get very different answers. Some 'reformed' folk tend to take the position that man is, always was and always will be nothing more than "a worm", scum or dung. 

These teachers keep whole congregations in a constant state of introspection, examining and re-examining themselves for sin. They do this because they are convinced that in order to maintain a proper view of God's exalted position and holiness, all Christians must continually view themselves in as lowly and miserable a way as possible. These teachers will interpret Psalm 8 to prove man's lowly place in God's created order. 

Is this a Biblical view? ..... I am convinced otherwise. The Bible teaches that man is the pinnacle of all of God's creation. 

The Church has been commanded to sing Psalm 8 in order to teach us of our exalted place among all of God's wonderful creation -- not to beat us down and make us feel worthless.  We are to praise, honor and glorify YHWH because He has made man "a little lower than God and crowned him with glory and honor" (Ps. 8:5).  Did you catch that? The Psalmist, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, affirms the lofty position of man, not the lowly position. He then goes on to sum up the work which God gave man to do in verse 6 when he says, "You have given him dominion over the works of Your hands.". This only affirms what we already should have known from Genesis 1:26, that man was created in the "image" of  God and that we were to "rule" over His creation.

So, what is man? Well, the "new man" (the Church), is that new creation of God that is to be all that God has always intended man to be. In Christ we are to be servant-rulers, and guardians. We are to be king-priests. We are to reflect the one in whose image we have been recreated. In short, we are to be like Jesus. 

To the extent that the Church fails to see "who we are", we will fail in our mission to transform this world for the glory of God. We will fail to properly reflect the true image of God. 

But if we will begin to see ourselves rightly, as the pinnacle of creation, created to serve, rule and guard all of God's works, then we can begin to answer the question: "what is man?".

Wade B.

Jun 14, 2009

The "Modern" Church's Idol(s)


As the previous post pointed out, Modernity (and the Modern Church) has a particular disdain for tradition. In keeping with this principle, the modern church must satisfy her cravings for the "novel" by seeking out new ways to keep her members entertained and happy. 

Think about this for a while -- Does your Church always seem to be looking for and grabbing hold of the newest 'Christian' fad to come along? -- If so, Why?

The real question for you is: "When did Jesus stop satisfying -- When did Jesus cease to be enough to keep us happy"?

Wade B.

Jun 11, 2009

The "Modern" Church

Some have described "modernity" as possessing the attributes of value pluralism, privatization, individualization, and over-intellectualization, which have characterized Western civilization since around 1500. From a political perspective "modernity" is know as (or shaped by) liberalism. 

Liberalism, according to Peter Leithart, is "the political system dedicated to the one proposition that political systems must not be dedicated to one proposition". It is an ideology which is founded upon a self-refuting principle .............. It's insanity! Please don't think I'm only talking about a particular political party, I assure you I'm not. This is the ideology which characterizes, for the most part, our entire political system. It characterizes America and 'the West' in the modern era.

Peter Leithart paraphrases Alasdair MacIntyre's description of this ideology when he says, "liberal democracy claims to liberate individuals from all tradition, leaving every member of society free to live according to whatever concept of the good he finds pleasing, to live out whatever narratives he can conceive.". To drive home the self-refuting nature of this ideology, Leithart, paraphrasing MacIntyre, continues, "liberal democracy does have its own overriding story and its own overarching purpose. Despite its claim to liberate from tradition, liberalism is itself a tradition and has a particular vision of the good society." (emphasis mine). In other words, you are free to choose any 'story' to define yourself ..... except a story which conflicts with the ideals of liberalism. How's that for freedom?

So what does all of this have to do with the Church? Look around you. We have allowed secular, pluralistic, individualistic, privatized ideologies into the Church. This is another way of saying, "we are worldly". The problem is ............. we don't recognize these attributes as a problem. We are drowning in the sea of 'secular, liberal modernity' and we don't even know it. 

How often have you heard Christians characterize , and even emphasize, their 'relationship with God' as being "a private and personal thing"? How often have we heard preachers/evangelists call people to Christ by stressing the need for a "personal relationship with Jesus"? This type of thinking has led Christians to conceive of salvation in strictly individualistic terms. The "It's just me and Jesus" attitude is a result of the influences of 'modernity' and  has crippled the Church. 

How many times have you heard (thought), "Well, that might be o.k. for that Christian / Church / Denomination, but it's not for me."?  Or, "I'm not going to join a local congregation because I can't find one that believes exactly like I do or offers a worship style that I like or plays the type of music I prefer."? Or,"I know my pastor preached on this or that, but that's just his interpretation. He is entitled to his opinion on the matter and so am I". Or, .............. I could go on and on. These are nothing less that the symptoms of our common illness. The Church is infected with the disease of modernity and all the individualistic symptoms that come with it.

The cure is to reject the modern ideologies which have infiltrated the Church. It is to reject worldliness. And we will do this only as we accept as our own, the full story which our God has given to us in the pages of the Bible. Only as we retrain ourselves to see the world through a Biblical 'lens' will we be able to understand who we are and what our true place in this world is. 

Wade B.

Jun 8, 2009

Resurrection and the Covenant

Another thing the resurrection teaches us is how God normally operates. Not that raising people from the dead is a common occurrence, -- what I'm speaking of is how God ordinarily works in redemptive history to accomplish His will or the common patterns of God's working that we can discern from the scriptures.

The bodily resurrection of Jesus teaches us that God doesn't abandon a work previously started. This is clear in the Psalms where God promises not to abandon His servant to the grave or "let your Holy One see corruption" (see Psalms 16:10) (and Act 2:27). And it is also seen in His promise to all believers to finish the work He has begun in us (see Phl 1:6). Our God starting a work and then seeing it through to completion should not come as a surprise to us because this is the pattern of God throughout all of scripture. God does not change. When He makes a promise, the promise will be kept. When He says He will do something, we can be sure that it will be done.

In the context of the Biblical Covenant(s) this is important because of the tendency we have to separate the Old Covenant (OC) from the New Covenant (NC) in such a way as to make it seem that the OC and NC are not vitally and organically connected to one another. We treat the OC and NC as Plan A and Plan B respectively.

The question is: "To what extent are the OC and NC connected"? The resurrection of Jesus teaches us that they are so connected that they are really ......... the same covenant. They are really both Plan A. Jesus didn't do away with the OC, He took it up in Himself, fulfilled it and made it what it was always intended to be. The OC died, was buried, and then was resurrected and transformed(as the NC) with Jesus. In Christ, the OC was was made perfect.

Jesus alludes to this when He says "Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them" (Mat 5:17). We (Christians) are fond of quoting this verse, but I'm convinced we don't grasp what Jesus is really saying, because after quoting it we go on with life as if the OC scripture has nothing to teach us about how to live our lives before a Holy God. And we conceive of OC and NC saints as not being vitally connected to the same body of Christ. We teach, preach and live as if the OC has been abolished. 

In maintaining this false dichotomy between the OC/NC and OC saints/NC saints, modern pastors/preachers/teachers have short-changed the Church by only teaching us one-third of our identity. We are not "New Testament Christians" only, we are the Biblical people of God whose story begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. For the Church to understand who She is we must tear down the wall that we have built between the OC and NC. We must learn to think "Biblically" by seeing all of scripture as one continuous story of God's love for and redemption of His people.

To be sure there is much mystery involved here. There are certainly many differences in the Covenant now that Christ has appeared and the NC has been inaugurated. Our Father continues to work in us, transforming us from glory to glory. Because of the resurrection, you can have hope that "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phl 1:6).

Wade B.

Jun 6, 2009

What the Resurrection Teaches Us

One thing we learn from the bodily resurrection of Jesus is that God is concerned about His creation. God is concerned about the real, physical world (the entire cosmos) that He created. Salvation reaches far beyond any concept of the "individual" and "spiritual", to embrace all of God's created works (Rom. 8).

What does this teach us about the full content of the Gospel?

Wade B.

Jun 2, 2009

Old Covenant vs. New Covenant ... or is it?

Is it possible that the modern Church holds to a dichotomy between the Old Covenant people of God and the New Covenant people of God because we hold to a dichotomy between the Old covenant and the New Covenant?

Not infrequently, we hear Christians make statements that separate The people of God in the Old Covenant(OC) from the New Covenant(NC) people of God. The statements usually go something like this; "The OC relationship with God was 'outward and physical' where the NC relationship is 'inward and spiritual' ".

Is this a Biblical view?
What's your take on this?

Wade B.

May 25, 2009

The Omega and the Alpha (more thoughts)

Adding to the previous post, I think there is an overarching principle to take away from this teaching on the Church. We should understand the Church to be the 'culmination' of God's work in Israel. Too often we understand the Church to be a totally separate 'thing' from Israel. As if the Lord had to go with plan B. The common thinking goes something like this: "God used to have a people called Israel, but now He has a people called the Church". 

This common thinking creates a false dichotomy between God's people of the Old Covenant (OC), and God's people of the New Covenant (NC). The fact is that God's people are God's people. Name any OC saint and know that they are as much a part of the Body of Christ as you or me. God's people are God's people. Our groom has always had and will always have only one bride. God's people are God's people throughout all of time.

The teaching of the NC scriptures are clear; we, the Church, have been engrafted into the tree (Kingdom) which already was. We who were "separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope without God in the world ..... have been brought near by the blood of Christ" (Eph. 2). Near to what? -- Near to that which already was. God did not plant a brand new tree. He matured the tree which He had already planted! 

In Christ God has kept His Promises to His people. He has planted, He has watered, He has caused the tree (Kingdom) to grow and mature. This continues even to our day and will continue until our groom comes back for His bride. Then, and only then will we fully realize who we are. May we be granted eyes to see and ears to hear. 

Wade B.

May 24, 2009

The Omega and the Alpha

From time to time I would like to post "stuff I learn" from sermons, SS,  books, etc. . If nothing else it will help me sort out my own thoughts as I write it down, and if anyone stumbles across this blog they might be able to add some helpful insights to open the Scripture up even more.  

Today my Pastor preached from Matt. 13: 24--43. While explaining the parable of 'the kingdom and the mustard seed' beginning in v.31 he offered some perspective that I think is helpful to understanding the Church. He showed how Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, but is also the "Omega and the Alpha". When Jesus' life and ministry are viewed in historic perspective we see that He was first the end (Omega) of the old Covenant, before He was the beginning (Alpha) of the New Covenant. 

Jesus as the end:
Jesus' use of the mustard seed, the "least of all seeds" reminds us of Israel being the "least of all people" (Dt. 7.7). God planted them (Ps. 80.8-11; Ezek. 17.23) and they became a tree which grows up into its fullness in Jesus. 

What was most helpful to me was his pointing out that we should understand this "ending" more as a culmination. Jesus is the culmination of the story of Israel! In Christ the purposes of Israel find their fulfilment. 

Jesus as the beginning:
Just as Jesus is the culmination of the story of Israel, Jesus is the inauguration of the story of the Church. Don't miss the importance of this. The story of the Church has been inaugurated, but it has not been fully consummated.  This language (and the parable) teaches us that it is the nature of the Kingdom of God to grow, to mature.  

Jesus takes a remnant from Israel, plants them, and they will become a great tree in which the nations find rest. (Ezek. 17.23, Dan. 4). 

Stuff I learned from the parable of the mustard seed:

1) This mustard seed (The Kingdom/Church) is planted in His field (v.31). And His field is the earth .............. now. 

2) The nature of the Kingdom is organic: The Kingdom is not something that comes in fully mature, all at once. It begins small and grows/matures. Sometimes this growth will not be perceptible from our perspective, but as surely as the Word of the Lord stands the Kingdom grows.

3) Ultimately this Kingdom (tree) will be the greatest in the world. Under this tree (Kingdom)".......will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord, I have spoken and I will do it." (Ezek. 17.23-24).

Wade B.

May 21, 2009

Goin' To Church

"Going to Church" has become like attending a class. We go, assume one posture (sitting), face the lecturer (preacher), receive our information download (sermon), and then go home.

The result of this is that far too many Christians have been taught (by common methodology) that the Christian life consists mainly of intellectual exercises. This teaches us that being a 'good Christian' is measured by how you think, not by how you love.

How we worship together also teaches us!

Wade B.

May 17, 2009

A Question

Question: Is the gospel about saving individual souls or is it about building a Christ honoring culture (Kingdom) on the earth?
Answer: Both.

This type of question creates false dilemmas that I believe are responsible for disagreements in many areas of evangelicalism today. Most (not all) disagreements come about because the parties involved take opposing sides of an either/or dilemma ("It's either the Word preached or the Sacraments", "It's either the family or the Church", etc.). If only we could recognize that to some degree the truth usually involves both, and we have probably placed too much emphasis  on one side or the other. 

I think this is what has happened with the question posed above. In our modern hyper-spiritual, individualistic, introspective, even hyper-evangelistic Church culture we have gone too far in focussing on the individual and if we can "get them saved".  For these new converts and even for our own children, our focus in discipleship normally consists only of making sure they go to Church, read their Bibles, and have their personal "quiet time". The modern Church's focus is almost totally on what we consider to be personal piety.

We have forgotten that the gospel, while it certainly includes the salvation of individuals, is more about the restoration of man as a community. The gospel is more about restoring how we, as the people of God, relate to God and to one another. The gospel is about how God, in Christ, through Christ, and for Christ has kept His promises to reconcile fallen humanity to Himself. We, the Church, are that new humanity! 

Wade B.

May 13, 2009

Citizens of The City

I guess you can't talk about "the Church" without addressing the Greek term ekklesia. This is the term most often used in the N.T. for the Church, .... but why? What were the N.T. writers trying to teach us about ourselves by picking this term? 

This term was used in the Septuagint (LXX) to describe the assembly of Israel in many different contexts. It is used for Israel as a religious, social and political body. In the Greek world it was used to describe the citizens of a particular city when they gathered for "official" business. To put it bluntly, ekklesia was and is an inherently social and political term.

When Paul went to Gentile cities and proclaimed the message of the gospel, he was announcing to the leaders and citizens of that city that a new city was being formed and in this new city we bow the knee to King Jesus. In this new city, we have our own story and are governed by our own King. The Church was not being offered as a club or sect that existed along side or under that particular city, but as a clear alternative to that "city of man".  

Wade B.

May 6, 2009

We Sure are Spiritual

The modern Christian conceives of Christianity as an internal religion, existing in the spiritual realm of the 'heart'. This mindset insures that the Church has nothing to say about all of the physical stuff in the world like education, our judicial system, politics, etc. . In short, this mindset makes us think that most of the world in which we live is outside the realm of the Church. 

Wade B.

What Battle?

If the Church is to be a new culture (which she is), doesn't it seem likely that we would be at odds with any culture that 'competes' with us? If we are proclaiming the gospel rightly, then isn't a battle inevitable? Didn't Jesus tell us that the world would hate us?

As we have it, the Church is at peace with the world around us. What does this say about the manner in which we are proclaiming the gospel?

Wade B.

May 3, 2009

Tell Me the Old Old Story

Every culture is defined by its stories. For any culture to survive it is imperative that these stories be passed on to the next generation. Take our national culture as an example. Our calendar is organized around special days which commemorate, memorialize, and help tell the story of who we are as a nation. It's these 'stories' that define us as a nation. Telling and retelling the stories of who we are and where we have come from helps create a sense of common history and common purpose which bind us all together as 'Americans'. This sense of common history and purpose creates in a cultures' citizens the single greatest attribute necessary for its perpetuation -- loyalty

One question in my mind is; 'How have we come to the place in the modern Church where there seems to be so much confusion over who we are '? The answer to this question, I am convinced,  has much to do with the story of the Church, which ultimately defines us. One thing we must be aware of is who is telling our story and thus, who is defining the Church?  We have allowed modern society (the world) to define the Church for us , and so we think that the Church is supposed to be a private, religious club that we tack on to all our other weekly activities. And as long as the Church doesn't interfere with the lives of those who don't belong to 'our club' we are allowed to live peaceably with the world around us.  We have allowed the government to define the Church for us, and so we believe its normal for the Church to exist at the margins of American culture. We have been convinced that the government exists to take care of "public/corporate" concerns and the Church exists to take care of "private/individual" concerns.  As long as we behave and stay where they want us, the government will let us keep our 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. If we're not a 501(c)(3) then we're not really a church, right? We have too often confused the story of the Church with the story of the USA. So much so that some of us actually think that the spread of "democracy" and the spread of the gospel are the same thing. 

Make no mistake about it, the Church of Jesus Christ is meant to be a culture. And like other cultures we have a story. The problem is, as Christians, we don't know our own story anymore. We have forgotten that our story starts in Genesis and not in Matthew, therefore most of our local congregations are only taught one third of their identity.  We have forgotten that it is our triune God Himself who defines us. We are what and who He says we are. He has given us His written word which tells us exactly who we are and what we have been created to do. His written Word is not a systematic theology textbook. It is a book which tells a story. Properly understood it is The Book which tells The Story. If you are one of His, if you are a part of the people of God, a member of the Body and Bride of Christ, then this is YOUR STORY.

Most importantly, we have forgotten how crucial it is that we know the whole story of who we are so that we can pass on our story faithfully to the next generation. The story of the Church must be told and retold to our children and our children's children. We must know our common history, embrace our common purpose and pledge our loyalty to our common King, King Jesus!

Wade B.

May 1, 2009

Who did you say you were?

Some of the confusion in the Church comes about because we simply don't know who we are. And because we don't know who we are, we don't know what we are to be doing. I realize there is a lot in those statements, much more than can be covered in one post, but here is where I am convinced we can begin to unpack some of what is foundational to our understanding of who and what the Church is.

I am certainly not trying to give an exhaustive definition of the Church. I've heard it said of artists that when they begin painting a picture they start with the background and finish with the detailed portions of the foreground. I think its most helpful to do the same with understanding the Church. Start with overarching principles, then move to the details. So, overall, who are we?

The Church is the new creation. The Church is a new humanity, created in, for and by Christ Jesus. We have been recreated in Christ to live together before God the way humanity was always intended to live before God. 

Wade B.

Apr 18, 2009

The Bride has Amnesia

I'm going to go out on a limb. Not too far out, just one step. -- The Church (the bride of Jesus Christ) has forgotten who/what she is. Is this a fair statement or not? Of course, this begs the question; "who are we and what are we to be about the business of"?

It's not my intention to 'have all the answers'. It is my intention to get us thinking. Looking at the 'landscape' of the church, it seems that the culture around us has great influence in/on the church. Shouldn't this be reversed? Isn't it the church's mission to transform the culture? I'm convinced that our corporate amnesia is a huge part of the reason why we are failing to transform the culture around us. If we don't understand who (whose) we are and what we are to be about the business of, then we will find ourselves ................ well, where we are right now.


Wade B.

Apr 13, 2009

Getting Started: Introduction

This will be the first post on this blog, so I think it best to say a little (very little) about myself and the purpose of this blog. 

I love Christ and His people, the church. I love my wife. I love my children. I'm the guy sitting with my family in the pew or chairs behind, beside or in front of you at your local church meeting. 

I have no advanced degree in theology. I have never attended a seminary. I most certainly have more questions than answers. 

The purpose of this blog is to 'test the waters' and see if there are others, like me, who look at the American Church landscape and think, "What's wrong?". Another goal of mine is to remain as anonymous as possible while doing this. It's simply not about me and I want to keep it that way.

May the lamb who was slain receive the reward of His suffering!