Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sad But True Words From R.C. Sproul

In preparation for Good Friday tomorrow, I'm reading a small book on the atonement by R.C. Sproul. He has a paragraph where he observes the sad truth of our culture,

"...I came to the conclusion that people are not concerned about an atonement. They are basically convinced they have no need for it. They aren't asking 'How can I be reconciled to God? How can I escape the judgment of God?' If anything has been lost from our culture, it is the idea that human beings are privately, personally, individually, ultimately, inexorably accountable to God for their lives" (The Truth of the Cross, p 8).

So the sad truth is that relatively few people in our culture believe they will give an account to God. And thus, they have no need for the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, who goes to the cross, who goes through the great judgment of God so they can escape the great judgment.

I'm still hoping and believing for a great outpouring of God's Spirit to reverse this. I'm hoping that there will be a widespread work of God where people see the depths their sin before a holy God, and they run to Christ and cling to the cross.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

God's Value of Weakness

I hate admitting that I am weak.  I'll go to great lengths before I admit to myself, or someone else, that I don't have the ability to do something. It is common for us all.  It is part of our sin nature to function in a sort of self-sufficient way, proving our own ability and strength to do things. But is this the way God intended us to live?
The more I learn about prayer and the more I live in God's Word, the more I see his value in weakness. Recently our church has been looking at Gideon in the book of Judges.  God calls Gideon in a moment of great weakness (Judges 6). Sadly, it does not appear Gideon finished his life in weakness and his downward spiral of character proves it.

But God's Word places a great value on our weakness. It seems to appear as a virtue in the New Testament. Here are two reminders that God values weakness in the lives of his children.

Christ's power in my weakness: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Cor 12:9)

I find my identity in Christ through weakness: "For we are also weak in him" (2 Cor 13:4) 

During a season of feeling great weakness I prayed this morning: "Father, meet me in my weakness." I'm not sure how he will answer this but I trust that he will. My Father is always good and he values my weakness.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

5 Reasons To Live Missional

It is easy to get stuck in a rut. I predict that is what will happen to my golf game come spring--I'll begin and gain some initial improvement, only to get stuck in a rut by mid-summer. I don't like it, but it happens. This also happens with living on mission: it seems that getting stuck in a rut becomes more common than I would like.

I'm not sure if the apostle Paul had seasons where he got stuck in a rut. His letters don't give that impression, yet he was human. The way he writes in 2 Corinthians 5 reminds us that getting stuck in a rut is not the norm, rather living on mission is. There are five reasons he gives to live on mission that hopefully will break us free from the rut of missionless living.

1. We live on mission because people are eternal (5:1-5). It helps to shape the way we see each day and each individual person when we step back and take an eternal perspective on things.

2. We live on mission because we are persuasive by design (5:11). Salesmen know that their livelihood depends on their persuasiveness. I believe that only God can open a person's heart by the Holy Spirit, yet God has also created us to be persuasive by the way we live and communicate the gospel.

3. We live on mission because of the love of Christ (5:14). I interpret this to be Christ's love for us. His love is always primary. The fact that the Son of God came to this earth, lived perfectly and died on a cross under a brutal execution for sin is the message that we carry and the world needs to hear.

4. We live on mission because of new creation reality (5:17). This verse was the first one that really gripped me when I was converted to Christ as a teenager--I am a new creation! This is the message of hope that many long for and is what we bring them in Christ!

5. We live on mission because we are ambassadors of reconciliation and substitution (5:20-21). The message we bring is not just new creation but even greater: people can be reconciled to God because Jesus went to the cross to die the death they deserve. This is the most important truth in the universe. It is more important than anything congress will pass today. It is more important than anything that makes the headlines on your favorite news channel or website. This is truly good news, the gospel. And the world needs to hear. We are the ambassadors.

The common thread in all of this is the gospel. This can all be boiled down to the power of the gospel. The reality of the gospel is enough reason to live on mission daily.