Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2010

From 22 Words:

To refer to peregrinating Celtic monks and fundamentalist lobbyists, Origen and Oral Roberts, the Desert Fathers and Tim LaHaye, Dante and Tammy Faye, St. Francis and the TV “Prosperity Gospel” hucksters, Lady Julian of Norwich and Jimmy Swaggart, John of the Cross and George W. Bush, all as “Christian” stretches the word so thin its meaning vanishes. The term “carbon-based life-form” is as informative.

David James Duncan, God Laughs & Plays, 49

Read Full Post »

Peace in Creation and the Cosmos

Christ’s peacemaking work also has cosmic purposes. By his death on the cross he began the process of reconciling all creation to himself. This will ultimately be fulfilled when God brings about the new heavens and the new earth, when the creation obtains the freedom of the glory of the children of God (Rom 8:21). It will be a time as described in Isaiah 11:6-9:

6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.

This vision of peace in God’s creation is explicitly connected to the coming of the “shoot from the stump of Jesse” (Isa 11:1). It is the Messiah who brings peace.

Christ’s mission was to reconcile all things. “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Col 1:19-20). This reconciliation will end all rebellion against God so that the creation and the cosmos will be at peace.

But this reconciliation of all things requires the pacification with those things that are set against him, namely the powers and authorities that have been warring against God. By the cross God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15). The way he has disarmed them is seen in the preceding verses. Speaking of the Colossians Paul writes, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col 2:13-14).

The powers are disarmed through the forgiveness of our sins. Because our sins are forgiven “these forces no longer have any grounds to accuse the Colossians and us who believe (cf. Col. 2:15). In such accusation lay their power. Christ dying in our place robs them of their power (Rom. 8:31-34). Christus Victor needs the explanatory power of substitutionary atonement.”1

God’s defeat of Satan and his minions was always a theme of Christ’s ministry. He was engaging them before the cross, but it was at the cross that he makes the decisive victory. Not all enemies can be reconciled and brought back into right relationship. Those who will not lay down their weapons must be pacified. Jesus makes clear that these enemies are not people (i.e the religious authorities who put them to death). His enemy is the god of this world who has sought to take his throne.

He had confronted the religious leaders his entire life, but his heart for them at the end was still for their salvation. “And when he drew near and saw the city [Jerusalem], he wept over it, saying, ‘Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes’” (Luke 19:41-42). This is clear from his attitude on the cross. In the midst of being put to death he cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

The Jews of his day wanted to usher in the kingdom of God through warfare. They wanted to rise up and throw off the oppressive regime of the Romans. They were looking for a Messiah that would take the sword and cut off the head of their oppressors. The believed God had promised them victory. Jesus, on the other hand, knew that this kind of battle could never bring the kingdom of God. He understood that their greatest enemy was not the Romans. “He believed . . . that the way to peace, blocked by zealotry all around, could only come by his fighting the real battle against the real enemy.”2

Being the God of peace required him to crush the enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy all peace. It is not incongruous for Paul to write, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom 16:20), for there is “no peace without disarmament.”3

——————————

1 Graham A. Cole, God the Peacemaker: How Atonement Brings Shalom (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009), 184.
2 N. T. Wright, Jesus and the Victory of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 447.
3 Cole, God the Peacemaker, 184.

Posts in this Series:
Introduction
Peace (shalom) in the Old Testament
Created in Peace and the Consequence of Sin
The Gospel of Peace and the Death of Jesus Christ
Peace with God
Peace Within
Peace with Others
Peace in Creation and the Cosmos
Excursus – Is Peace an Attribute of God?
Called to Be Peacemakers

Read Full Post »

Discover Islam is offering a free web book DVD with audios, videos and e-books.

Muslims and non-Muslim will find the information in this DVD to be comprehensive and enlightening.  This Web Book DVD will serve as the perfect resource for those in search of information on Islam or just need to expand your knowledge.

Related Post:
Free E-Book on Islamic View of the Prophets

Read Full Post »

With this law no one will be allowed to wear clothing that covers their faces. Of course, this is geared specifically for Muslim women who wear a burqa. It is an attempt to curb Islamic extremists in the name of equal rights for women.

I don’t doubt that there are Muslim women who wear the burqa, not out of devotion to God, but from fear of their families and society. This is tragic. But I also know that there are women who truly believe that this is how they best serve, honor and obey God. We may think they are wrong or misinformed, but for them it truly is a matter of religious devotion.

Does it not seem ironic that free western societies are limiting religious freedom because they believe that these people’s religion is limiting their freedom? In other words, they are “promoting” freedom by limiting it.

HT: E-baad E-news

Related Post:
Switzerland Moving Away from Peace

Read Full Post »

Peace with Others

Jesus Christ not only brings us peace with God and peace within our hearts, he also brings us peace with others because by his death he tears down all walls that divide and separate. God shows no partiality and removes all grounds of boasting before him so that we all stand before him on the same footing. Jesus brings peace between people.1

This is most clearly demonstrated in Ephesians 2. Paul is speaking of Jews and Gentiles, who have been separated by Jewish law since the time of Abraham. But by the blood of the cross Jesus brings them together so that they are no longer two separate peoples, but one new people of God.

11 Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God (Eph 2:11-14).

The Gentiles were separate from Christ and alienated to Israel. They were outsiders and were actually hated by Jewish people. A common insult among Israelites was to call someone a Gentile. When Jesus spoke of church discipline he said that if someone refuses to listen to the church in order to be reconciled then he should be cast out of the church and be to them “as a Gentile and tax-collector” (Matt 18:17). Their alienation was complete alienation. Jews sought to keep them as far away as possible.

Jesus changed all that, for he has taken the Gentiles and brought them near by his blood (Eph 2:13). Why did Christ do this? “For he himself is our peace” (v. 14). It was Christ’s nature to reconcile hostile peoples. And it was his purpose. By his death and resurrection he has brought them together into one person.

He makes peace by removing all possibility of boasting. The Jew cannot say his law-keeping or his race has made him acceptable to God. The Gentile cannot say his wisdom brought him near to God. Both are brought to God by the same means – the cross of Jesus Christ. Both stand before God accepted because of what someone else did. Both have peace purely by grace alone.2

——————————

1 Matthew 10:34-36 must also be acknowledged. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.” This text is talking primarily about the cost of following Jesus and the inevitable conflict that will arise as different people in the same family hold different allegiances. Therefore it does not contradict Jesus’ purpose as a peacemaker. Jesus specifically ties it to loving him more than we love our families and the need to take up our cross to follow him (see vv. 37-38). Following Jesus does not keep us from hostility, it actually puts us in the path of hostility. It is this reality that makes the command to love our enemy all the more important.
“The way to peace is not the way of avoidance of conflict, and Jesus will be continuously engaged in robust controversy…his whole experience will be the opposite of a ‘peaceful’ way of life. His followers can expect no less, and their mission to establish God’s peaceful rule can be accomplished only by sharing his experience of conflict” (R. T. France, The Gospel of Matthew [NICNT; Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007], 408).
2 John Frame also sees peacemaking between peoples implied in Paul’s blessing of grace and peace at the beginning of each of his letters. “Grace (charis) resembles a Greek greeting; peace (eirēnē) is the equivalent of the Hebrew shalom. So these terms summarize the benefits of salvation and also welcome both Greeks and Jews who believe in Jesus” (Frame, The Doctrine of God, 650).

Posts in this Series:
Introduction
Peace (shalom) in the Old Testament
Created in Peace and the Consequence of Sin
The Gospel of Peace and the Death of Jesus Christ
Peace with God
Peace Within
Peace with Others
Peace in Creation and the Cosmos
Excursus – Is Peace an Attribute of God?
Called to Be Peacemakers

Read Full Post »

Peace through Full Stomachs

“Peace through full stomachs,” was one commenter’s enthusiastic response to Conflict Kitchen in Pittsburgh. It is “is a take-out restaurant that only serves cuisine from countries that the United States is in conflict with.” They will change the place every four months. The first is Kubideh Kitchen and serves Iranian food.

HT: Islamicate

Read Full Post »

But not everyone is happy about it.

HT: Muslimah Media Watch

Read Full Post »

Peace Within

There is much turmoil in the world and believers are certainly not immune to the trials and temptations that come. Yet, many have testified to a remarkable calm and peace in their hearts in the midst of the most horrific trials. We experience a lack of inner peace when we are afraid, anxious, angry, covetous, etc. The gospel brings peace when we might feel any of those because it points us to the promises of God that overcome these sins.

The inner peace of the gospel comes from the gift of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gives to all who are in him. In John 14:27 Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” The peace that Jesus gives overcomes trouble and fear. Jesus knew that he would shortly be leaving the world and this could cause his disciples to be afraid. So he promised them peace. And in this context the peace he gives is explicitly connected to the Holy Spirit. In the immediately preceding verse Jesus said, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

Jesus knew his disciples would be scattered. He told them as much before it happened. “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me” (John 16:32). He knew that they would abandon him because of fear. Rather than reproving them for their upcoming abandonment, he sought to encourage them. He said, “I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). After they had scattered they would be able to recall that Jesus knew this would happen and he had not rejected them. What would at first appear as defeat they would eventually see as Christ’s triumph. He has overcome the world through his death and resurrection and that is reason to take heart. His overcoming brings peace.

It happened just as Jesus had said. After Jesus was arrested and killed the disciples were so afraid that they locked themselves into a room. It was in this locked room that Jesus found them. His first words to his frightened disciples were, “Peace be with you” (John 20:19). He was reminding them that in him they would have peace.

The peace Jesus wants to give his disciples is the kind of peace that frees us from fear and worry. It is a peace that comes through the Holy Spirit, for Paul tells us in Galatians that peace is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). It is a peace that surpasses understanding, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

This peace of God that Christ gives is exemplified in the death of Stephen (see Acts 7). When he was questioned before the high priest and the Jewish council he was given the words to say just as Jesus had promised (Luke 12:11-12). After he preached to them they were enraged. Stephen had lots of reason to be frightened, but instead he was calm. He was at peace because he was “full of the Holy Spirit” and “saw the glory of God” (Acts 7:55). They stoned him, but even the pain of being bludgeoned could not steal his peace. “And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ And when he had said this, he fell asleep” (Acts 7:59-60).

The question, then, is how does Jesus give us peace that dispels fear and anxiety even in the midst of death? The most fundamental answer is that because of Christ we have peace with God and if we understand what it means to be at peace with the Judge of the universe we can have peace in any circumstance.

We get anxious about all kinds of things in our lives. We can be anxious about our jobs, paying the bills, our family, how others think of us, etc. Peter wrote that we are to cast our anxieties upon the Lord because he cares for us (1 Pet 5:7). How is that we know his care for us? We know that he cares for us because Jesus Christ died. In Christ’s death, God provided for our greatest need: salvation from sin and freedom from the wrath of God. Our greatest need was to be reconciled to God. This God has done in Christ and if he has already provided for our greatest need he will surely provide for any lesser need. This is the message of Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” When Jesus told his disciple not to be anxious for their lives, he grounded it in God’s pleasure to provide for his people (Luke 12:22-34). We are his people because of Christ’s work on the cross.

What about fear? God repeatedly grounds his command to not fear with his promise to be with us (i.e. Isa 41:10). Stephen knew that the ones throwing stones were not the ones to fear, for all they could do was kill him. They could not, however, separate him from God or create enmity in God towards him. He knew that while death is still an enemy, it is an enemy that unwittingly takes us to the presence of God. It is also an enemy that was overcome by Christ’s resurrection and will be ultimately defeated at our own resurrections. Stephen was not afraid because he saw his Lord and knew that his Lord was pleased with him.

Posts in this Series:
Introduction
Peace (shalom) in the Old Testament
Created in Peace and the Consequence of Sin
The Gospel of Peace and the Death of Jesus Christ
Peace with God
Peace Within
Peace with Others
Peace in Creation and the Cosmos
Excursus – Is Peace an Attribute of God?
Called to Be Peacemakers

Read Full Post »

Elyse Fitzpatrick does a great job of helping us see how the gospel of Jesus Christ changes everything, including when anger rises in our heart while we impatiently wait at the grocery check out lane:

Briefly, here’s how the whole gospel message might impact me when I’m struggling with my own unbelief, idolatry and sin: Let’s say that I’ve got company coming over for dinner and I realize that I’m running low on table salt. I calculate the time I need to get to the store, get the salt and get home so that I can be a gracious, organized hostess (idols everywhere here). I jump in my car, race up to the store, grab the salt and run to the Quick Check Out line only to find myself stuck behind another woman who obviously didn’t read the “10 Items or Less” sign. Instantly I’m angry and then, because I know that my anger is sinful, I feel guilty and then, because I remember all the times I’ve failed like this, I despair. Now, what are my options?

Option #1: If I’m a Happy Moralist, I’ll assure myself that my anger is “righteous” because the person in front of me is not obeying the rules like I am. I’ll remain angry but feel better about it.

Option #2: If I’m a Sad Moralist, I’ll recognize that my anger isn’t righteous because I’m not loving my neighbor and I’m angry because of my idolatry. I’ll feel both guilty and angry but now I’ll despair because it seems as though I’ll never change.

Option #3: If I’ve been thinking about the cross without considering the rest of the gospel, I’ll despair even more because I’ll know that Jesus suffered for this sin and I’ll be sad, guilty and despairing thinking about how much pain He endured on my account. In this case the gospel doesn’t elevate my soul, it crushes me.

Option #4: If I’m seeking to live in the light of the whole gospel, my heart will be transformed in these ways:

  • Because of the incarnation, Jesus Christ knows exactly what it is to live in a sin-cursed world with people who break the rules…like me. I am a rule-breaker but He’s loved me and he’s experienced every trial I face. He’s with me. He sympathizes with my weakness (Hebrews 4:15).This understanding of His love in the face of my sin drains my anger at my rule-breaking neighbor. I can love her because I’ve been loved and I am just like her.
  • Because of His sinless life, I now have a perfect record of loving my neighbor. He perfectly loved rule-breakers. This record of perfect love for my rule-breaking neighbor is mine now; knowing this relieves my guilt. Even though I continue to fail to love, His record is mine.
  • Because of His substitutionary death, I am completely forgiven for my sin…even the sins that I seem to fall into at the slightest provocation. God has no wrath left for me because He poured it all out on His Son. He’s not disappointed or irritated. He welcomes me as a beloved daughter.
  • Because of His resurrection (and the justification it brings), I know that the power of sin in my life has been broken. Yes, I’ve failed again, but I can have the courage to continue to fight sin because I’m no longer a slave to it. This replaces despair with faith to wage war against my selfishness and pride.
  • Because of His ascension and reign, I know that this situation isn’t a mere chance happening. He’s orchestrated it so that I will remember Him and be blessed by the gospel again. He’s ruling over my life and interceding for me right now. I’m not a slave to chaos or chance. He’s my Sovereign King and I can rest in His loving plan today and rejoice in Him.
  • And, because of His promised return, I know that all the doubt, injustice and struggle will one day come to an end. This line in this grocery store and my plans for dinner isn’t all there is. There’s the great good news of the gospel. I can go home now and share with my family and guests how Jesus met me at the grocery store and we can rejoice together in His work on our behalf.

Read the whole thing.

HT: Justin Taylor

Read Full Post »

Fighting Fear of Man

From Justin Taylor:

“The fear of man lays a snare,
but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.”
Proverbs 29:25

“Fear of man is such a part of our human fabric that we should check for pulse if someone denies it.”

—Ed Welch, When People Are Big and God Is Small.

In order to fear God not man, here are the steps Welch sets forth in his book:

Step 1: Recognize that the fear of man is a major theme both in the Bible and in your own life.

Step 2: Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by people in your past.

Step 3: Identify where your fear of man has been intensified by the assumptions of the world.

Step 4: Understand and grow in the fear of the Lord. The person who fears God will fear nothing else.

Step 5: Examine where your desires have been too big. When we fear people, people are big, our desires are even bigger, and God is small.

Step 6: Rejoice that God has covered your shame, protected you from danger, and accepted you. He has filled you with love.

Step 7: Need other people less, love other people more. Out of obedience to Christ, and as a response to his love toward you, pursue others in love.

You can read chapter 1 of the book online for free.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 59 other followers