Thursday, February 16, 2012

Luke 4:14-30 Commentary - The Beginnings of Jesus' Ministry in Luke's Gospel

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Luke 4:14-30 14 Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. 15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.
16 He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
     because he has anointed me
     to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
     and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
     19 to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20 Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, 21 and he began by saying to them, "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."
22 All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. "Isn't this Joseph's son?" they asked.
23 Jesus said to them, "Surely you will quote this proverb to me: 'Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'"
24 "I tell you the truth," he continued, "no prophet is accepted in his hometown. 25 I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah's time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. 26 Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. 27 And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed--only Naaman the Syrian."
28 All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. 29 They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff. 30 But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.


Biblical Exegesis and Study of Luke 4:14-30 - Pete's Bible Commentary

This story of Jesus unrolling the scroll of Isaiah in the local synagogue was following his baptism (Luke 3:21-23), and subsequent time in the wilderness being tempted by Satan (Luke 4:1-13). What an amazing moment in time, as Jesus unrolled the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, found the section we now know of as Isaiah chapter 61, and he read his mission manifesto. He outlined to his listeners, his specific role within the mission of God (missio dei). Let me unpack a little of what Jesus says:
  • The Spirit of the Lord is upon him (Luke 4:18)
  • The Spirit has anointed him (Luke 4:18)
    • To preach good news to the poor (Luke 4:18)
    • To proclaim freedom for prisoners (Luke 4:18)
    • To bring recovery of sight to the blind (Luke 4:18)
    • To released the oppressed (Luke 4:18)
    • To proclaim the year of the Lord's favour (Luke 4:19)
Jacques Matthey says ("Luke 4:16-30: The Spirit's Mission Manifesto," International Review of Mission, 89, No. 352, Jan 2000):
'There is a clear holistic liberation emphasis in the Spirit's mission program: the aim is to radically change the spiritual, personal, social and economic conditions of all the victims, of all those who have been put aside by religious, social, political or economic developments in society.'
Interestingly when quoting Isaiah 61:1 and the first part of 61:2, he does not go on to mention the second part of Isaiah 61:2, which says, 'and the day of vengeance for our God'. Maybe this was because Jesus was talking about the current moment, and not so much the eschatological idea of judment. However so, it is refreshing to ponder the positive nature of the priorities given to the ministry of Jesus.

We must unpack briefly the idea of Jubilee that Jesus is referring to in Luke 4:19. What is Jubilee? Jubilee relates to Old Testament days (see Leviticus 25:8-55) when the Israelite people were asked to 'consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land' (Lev. 28:10). During this time people who had debts were free from those burdens, and the aim was for, 'economic and religious unity of the people of God' (Matthey). It is improbable that the Israelites ever enacted the year of Jubilee, but Jesus brings it to the forefront of his listeners saying that he is anointed by the Spirit to 'proclaim the year of the Lord's favor' (Luke 4:19). The time of Jubilee thus has come to the Christians who would follow in the years to come - including us. The time of joy in the Holy Spirit, and the forgiveness and liberation for those who are held captive (spiritually, physically, mentally, etc). The time of Jubilee is here.

Jesus becomes controversial when he mentions that Elijah went to a 'widow in Zarephath', who is a Gentile woman. He then refers to Elisha cleansing a leper, who is also a Gentile (Naaman the Syrian). For Jewish listeners this is on the verge of blasphemy. Firstly, Jesus claims to be the fulfilment of the words from Isaiah 61:1-2, and now is inferring that the mission that he intends to fulfil is also relevant to the Gentile people. The Jewish listeners wanted to throw his off the cliff, and so were obviously not ready to embrace the universality of his mission.

The Luke 4:14-30 passage when taken by itself becomes a great encouragement for today's church, with a mission that is really about liberation from pain and hurt and the restoration of the people of God. It encapsulates much of what the social mandate for followers of Jesus entails today. When put alongside passages such as the great commission in Matthew 28:16-20, or fullness of life in John 10:10, the great commandement in Matthew 22:34-40, and passages like Colossians 1:15-20, we have a broad view of what God's mission is about.
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This Lukan passage 4:14-30 is part of Pete's Bible Commentary
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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Can God suffer? BIG Ideas on Faith No. 6

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Furthering our journey of BIG ideas on Faith, we arrive at a discussion about the nature of God. Let me ask you a few questions:
  • Is God Male?
  • Is God a personal God or a distant God?
  • Can God suffer?
Is God Male?
The simple answer is that God is neither male nor female. We well know the language used of the partriarchs of long ago (e.g. Moses, David, etc) was very masculine, and they (including Jesus), referred to God as 'Father'. Some would say we need to continue to refer to God as 'Father' because those are the words used by Christ himself.

As Alister McGrath says (Christian Theology), it is very different to say that, 'a father in ancient Israelite society is a suitable model for God' and saying, 'God is a male human being'. We may well use the word 'Father' as a title for God, and not be implying that God is male. There is always been difficulty in the English language with the pronouns him/her, as there is no alternative other than say the word, 'it', which is less than desirable for a word that is used for God. Most writers continue to use the word 'him', though acknowledging that God is neither male nor female.

I spoke to a lady once on the streets of Melbourne, Australia, about God. She had issues with the overly masculine language used in the church today. I tried to assure her that God is neither male, nor female. God values all people, no matter their gender. She replied with some happy retort, to which I said, 'Amen!' Then she got all indignant and said, 'There you go again. A-Men. Why does it have to always be about men?! That seems to be all you people are on about, I just wish...' She continued to whinge and whinge, until my friend and I kindly said, 'Look, thanks for the chat, but we really must be going...'

Is God a Personal God or a Distant God?
The question is related to theological themes called immanence and transcendence. Immanence is the idea that God is close to humanity (God is immanent), and that through Jesus Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, we can be in close relationship with him. Transcendence focuses on the sovereignty of God. God is all-powerful, and while not distant per se, he is worthy of respect and honour, as he is Creator of the Cosmos. Most Christians hold those two concepts in tension, that God is soveriegn (transcendent), he is also very close to us (immanent).

Can God Suffer?
Can we speak of God as a 'Suffering God'? Right back to the time of Plato the notion of perfection characterised people's understanding of God. 'To be perfect is to be unchanging and self-sufficient. It is therefore impossible for such a perfect being to be affected or changed by anything outside itself' (McGrath, 210). This is the classic view called 'the impassibility of God'. Though, if we hold to the view that God is perfect in this sense and that God never changes, then how do we grapple with the crucifixion of Jesus?

Read another important post here on why God may allow suffering to occur for you and me.

Martin Luther ruffled some feathers in 1518-1519 when he spoke of 'a crucified God', mentioning that God shares in the sufferings of the crucified Christ. Jurgen Moltmann's 1972 'The Crucified God' expands on  this idea. Moltmann says, God willed to undergo suffering, that is, to see his son crucified on the cross for the sins of the world. Also, to believe God suffers and is in pain, for instance at the death of his son, God is able to give meaning and dignity to human suffering on the whole (McGrath, p. 213).

This leads us to BIG Idea No. 6: God experienced suffering when his own Son went to the cross for our sins. Therefore God understands our own suffering and pain.
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<-- The Word of God is Sharp - BIG Idea No. 5
--> BIG Idea No. 7______________________

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

GIVEAWAY Time!! You could WIN!

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Well, I'm feeling generous. Here's how it works.

GIVEAWAY No. 1
  • Create a LINK on either a blog or webpage pointing to http://www.petebrookshaw.com/ (or on a bloglist that updates itself), and you WILL WIN either one of the following books (sent straight to your postal address):
    • Leadership Gold - John C. Maxwell OR
    • The Forgotten Ways - Alan Hirsch
  • There are a couple of terms and conditions. You must have a current website and blog that receives traffic! (No creating fake webpages or blogs just to win! I'm on to you!!)
  • No burying the link so that it's as noticeable as a needle in a haystack
  • No dodgy websites, e.g. ismokecigars.com
  • Up to 8 Books to Giveaway! 
  • Email me at: petebrookshaw@gmail.com with your updated website link, and postal address.
  • You must keep the link on there for longer than 22 seconds. Six months is good.
GIVEAWAY No. 2
  • I will be sending out a monthly update with giveaways, leadership teachings, updates on what's going on in the faith world and much more... Now here's how you can WIN...
  • Enter your email address below - to sign up for the monthly newsletter
  • IF you are the 3rd, 13th, or 23rd person who enters their email address, you will win one of either of these books (sent to your postal address):
    • Battlefield of the Mind - Joyce Meyer
    • Heavenly Man - Paul Hattaway
Simple as that! Enter your email address below:



Natural Church Development and Christian Schwarz: The 5 Components of NCD: 8 Quality Characteristics, 6 Growth Forces, Trinitarian Compass and More!

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What is Natural Church Development (NCD)? NCD is an approach to the Christian life, a way of exploring biblical principles and church growth that was developed by sophisticated and extensive research of churches around the world. It is about growing healthy churches. Here is an overview of Christian Schwarz's Natural Church Development. Firstly we will look at the 5 basic components of NCD. These consist of ideas such as the 8 quality characteristics of NCD. Then we glance at the 6 growth forces and also the Trinitarian Compass. We will briefly then look at what is the minimum factor in NCD, and what are some NCD tools that are available.





The 5 Basic Components of Natural Church Development
  1. The 8 Quality Characteristics (the 'muscles' of NCD)
  2. The 6 Growth Forces (the 'blood' of NCD)
  3. Trinitarian Compass (the 'heart' of NCD)
  4. Minimum Factor (the 'eyes' of NCD)
  5. NCD tools (the 'hands' of NCD)
 1. The 8 Quality Characteristics

These 8 characteristics, Christian Schwarz says are the key to church growth. The concept is simple: If the local church is expressing these 8 quality characteristics in a healthy manner, then statistically and most probably your church will grow. The church can not help but grow when the church, as a living organism, is healthy. The 8 quality characteristics are: Empowering leadership, gift-based ministry, passionate spirituality, effective structures, inspiring worship, holistic small groups, need-oriented evangelism and loving relationships. You will notice the adjective before each noun, that stresses the fact that leadership, for instance, needs to be empowering, worship must be inspiring and relationships must be loving. These 8 quality characteristics sum up, for the most part the foundation of a healthy church. Arguably, the NCD teaching does not overtly mention the work of justice; of offering a cup of cold water in Jesus name, what some might label 'social justice'. This in my opinion is a theological let down from the whole teaching, but there are many great things to glean about the local church from these 8 characteristics, nonetheless.

How this Natural Church Development foundation makes its mark on the local church, is by the local church completing an NCD survey, amongst atleast 30 participants, which provides a snapshot of the health of that church. The NCD survey provides an interesting look at where the local church stands in terms of each of the above mentioned quality characteristics. From a church I used to minister in, the church scored great on 'loving relationships' and 'passionate spirituality' but scored very low on effective structures. It was clear to the church, that for this church to become a healthy church, it needed to look at its leadership structures, its building limitations and its capacity to embrace future growth. If you are looking to grow a healthy church, then maybe completing the NCD survey provided by Christian Schwarz will help your local church. Here are some links for you:
2. The 6 Growth Forces

"Human growth principles can bring about results: success in business, economic improvement, even church growth. However, the problem with many of these human concepts is that there is no inherent sustainable power behind them. They depend on great amounts of outside energy, and once that energy is reduced, everything collapses. What a contrast to the dynamics that we observe in God's creation, where the following principles is at work: Remove the barriers and growth takes place 'all by itself'. It is not a human responsibility to energize the church. God takes care of that." - Color Your World with Natural Church Development: Christian Schwarz (: 81).

The six growth forces (previously called 'biotic principles'), are forces that bring about the growth of healthy churches by releasing 'all by itself' kind of growth. Think of a leaf that protrudes out from the branch of a tree. People can water the tree, and fertilise the tree and ultimately care for the tree, but the person doing the caretaking, is not 'growing' the lead per se. They are merely helping to facilitate growth. These growth forces, are related to biology and ecology, and are needed in growing healthy churches.
  1. Interdependence - "How does this decision affect other areas of life?"
  2. Multiplication - "Does this decision help facilitate multiplication or merely addition?"
  3. Energy Transformation - "Does this make best use of the resources in the environment?"
  4. Sustainability - "Do the results of this decision allow there to be internal sustainability?"
  5. Symbiosis - "Does this decision foster fruitful co-operation between different resources/activities?"
  6. Fruitfulness - "Does this decision provide tangible, visible fruit for the Kingdom of God?"
They are important growth forces to understand. Take for instance, the starting of a new Kid's Club on a Wednesday night in your church. Everything is ready to go, and everyone is excited to volunteer and participate. Six months into the program, you realise the need for quality children's resources. Now instead of buying new resources, you think about symbiosis, and you discuss with the Youth Group about sharing and utilising some of their resources (this in turn saves you $500 from new board games, gaming machines, etc). As you reflect, one of the set backs of the program is that you are now having less people attend Sunday afternoons to your kid's discipleship program (an issue of multiplication). You also question whether the intended program is achieving the goals in which it first intended (fruitfulness). This simple example, shows you that even just briefly considering these 6 growth forces, helps you examine whether particular programs and ideas should be implimented in the local church, and whether in fact it will help or hinder the growing of healthy churches.
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For more tools on growing healthy churches, look here.
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3. Trinitarian Compass
Natural Church Development have developed the Trinitarian Compass. The Trinitarian Compass is about helping Christians have a holistic worldview, to theology, church growth, expression of mission, etc. Have a look at the picture. The green section represents the reflective side of us; that intentional side of us that embraces social justice and tolerance, and reflects on the importance of God's creation - the world. The red section represents our proactive side; our tendency to focus on evangelism and discipleship, and the importance of the Word of God. The blue section of the Trinitarian Compass is that pentecostal leaning towards the work of the Spirit, the power of the Spirit and the focus on emotional health and spiritual power. The Trinitarian Compass helps us to grasp a balanced, trinitarian approach to our faith, and the challenge is to passionately live out ALL three sections of the this compass. We are called as followers of Christ, to fully embrace the work and ministry of the Spirit, to fully engage with the Word of God, and the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We are also called to recognise God's omnipotence in creation and his work and mission in today's world. Fully embrace the Trinitarian Compass - or rather, fully embrace God as Creator, Saviour and Spirit!

4.  Minimum Factor

This part of Natural Church Development relates to the 8 quality characteristics previously mentioned. When a NCD survey is completed (see link above to NCD Australia for more details), the survey reveals the results on a bar graph. The lowest of these 8 characteristics, is called the 'minimum factor'. The Natural Church Development teaching encourages churches to work on their minimum factor as a priority to help provide an environment for a church that grows all by itself. So, for example, if after completing the NCD survey, the results show empowering leadership to be the lowest within the church, then the following might happen. The pastor/leader of the church might consider their own leadership styles, or their capacity to lead, and find areas in which to change. There might be an opportunity to invest in church leaders more intentionally, and a possibly answer might be to implement a leadership mentoring process for leaders in the church. While some literature will say, 'Focus on your strengths', NCD, interestingly says the opposite. They believe, (and can statistically prove this), that by improving the overall 8 characteristics, the church will grow, and it will grow all by itself.

5. The NCD tools

For NCD tools, you can check out the NCD International Page here. Additional tools and helpful resources for growing healthy churches, can be found by searching for NCD national  partners, for example, NCD Australia, NCD New Zealand and NCD USA to simply name a few.
Some of the other tools that come out of Natural Church Development is the NCD survey. Also, the book, Natural Church Development (1996), by Christian Schwarz. Also: The 3 Colors of Ministry and  The 3 Colors of Love. Don't forget tools such as their Trinitarian Compass, the 8 quality characteristics, 6 growth forces, and the minimum factor. Thanks to Christian Schwarz and Natural Church Development for all the research and tireless work they put into growing healthy, passionate, churches that impact people's lives for Christ.
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My dream is for this site to be assisting in Growing Healthy Churches. I hope this has helped you a little in that journey of yours, and in your involvement in the local church. To find out more on PeteBrookshaw.Com click here.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

The Word of God is Sharp - Proceed with Caution - BIG Ideas on Faith No. 5

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Proceed with Caution! The following BIG Idea is fundamental to the Christian Faith. It is not to be sneezed at.

Firstly, if this 'BIG Ideas on Faith' collection is an all encompassing approach, then it's important we recognise the centrality of the Scriptures in our journey. Have a look at this passage from 1 Thessalonians 2:13:

And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.
Without a doubt, the Bible as we have it today, was written by humans, but it's inspiration is not simply from human aspiration. As 2 Timothy 3:16 says, 'All Scripture is God-breathed...'
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Have a look at Pete's Bible Commentary here
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Jesus frequently referred to the Old Testament Scriptures and the Apostle Paul was a learned man in the Jewish law. Early Christians accepted and spoke regularly of the Old Testament writings and they believed they were authoritative to inform their faith. As the gospels came to be written along with the letters of Paul and Peter, James, Hebrews and others, the New Testament began to take shape. During the time of theologian Origen of Alexandria (185-254 A.D.), the Word of God was complete.

How many books are in the Bible? The Bible comprises of 66 books, 39 books from the Old Testament and 27 books from the New Testament.

This was a monumental, God-inspired feat. There were many, many different authors, spanning hundreds of years, and somehow through the grace of God they produced a sacred, powerful, significant text called the Bible. God's inspired Word.

So, why is this a BIG idea? I know some of you thinking, surely I can just read a little Stephen Covey and Dr Phil McGraw and find all the inspiration I need? Surely, a little Deepak Chopra, the occasional Wikipedia article and a yearly run through of a latest autobiography will suffice?

BUT! The Word of God is given by inspiration of God. It's a living and breathing document. Haven't you heard of the suicidal hotel consumer, who opened up a Gideon's Bible? Haven't you heard someone testify about the power of the Word for them at a particular crisis in life? This inspiration, 'describes the ways in which the writers of the Bible, who often used many different literary sources, were so enlightened and directed by the Holy Spirit that they produced a trustworthy and enduring witness to God's saving work for humanity, centred upon the life and person of Jesus Christ' (The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine, 2010: 5). See: John 20:30-31, 2 Peter 1:20-21. This leads me to BIG Idea No. 5:

BIG Idea No. 5 - The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament were given by the inspiration of God.

Here's the application. Read the Bible. Absorb it. Pray on it. Let God speak to you through it. It's inspired. It's anointed by God. Proceed with caution; your life will be radically altered by Jesus Christ.
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<-- How to Pray without Hurting God's Ears - BIG Idea No. 4

--> Can God Suffer? BIG Idea No. 6
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Saturday, February 4, 2012

How to Pray Without Hurting God's Ears - BIG Ideas on Faith No. 4

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What is prayer? Why pray? How do I pray to God? These were the questions I once asked on a regular basis, and they form the basis for No. 4 of our collection of BIG Ideas on Faith.

What is Prayer? Prayer is a conversation between you and God. Some cynics chuckle and say you're praying to someone that cannot be seen, and for a discussion along those lines read the following post on 'Evidence of the Existence of God'. My assumption here is to presume you believe in the existence of God, and that you are reading this post because you are somewhat curious to see what I have to say about prayer. Prayer is the communication between God and his people. Randy Hatchett in the Holman Bible Dictionary says that dialogue is essential to prayer (as opposed to monologue - you know, rattling off your prayer wish list of the need for new cars and winning the lottery).

Without seeming condescending, here are some simple prayers that one might say in a given situation:
  • Lord, please bless my family
  • God, I need to experience your peace right now.
  • Jesus please intervene in the life of my cousin; he's going wayward.
  • Holy Spirit please let me know your power, and experience your grace.
Why Pray? There are many reasons why you might pray. Personally, the main reason people of God pray, is because they want to be close to Jesus. That's a statement that rolls off the tongue, but in fact it's worthy of deep consideration. Daily prayer is about being close to a Saviour who is still alive today. The resurrected Christ is alive in the hearts of Christians now. They can verify this through the experiences they have had, like 'the guilt being washed away', or the 'burdens being lifted', or 'I just knew God was with me'. Christians pray because of the deep passion to be close to the God who created them.

With that prayer as the most important, here are some other reasons a follower of Jesus might pray:
  • Prayer for healing (James 5:14)
  • Prayer for the lost to be saved (John 3:16)
  • Prayer to know the direction (James 1:5)
  • Prayer for help (Acts 2:21)
  • Prayer for the presense of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8)
  • Prayer for strength, comfort, peace, justice, power, grace, compassion and love
Lastly: How do I Pray? You pray either by voicing out your prayers, or within your spirit/soul. If you begin to acknowledge that God is the creator of the Universe, and that Jesus came to take away your sins, I believe God will begin to open up your eyes to experiences, ideas, understandings that you never would have previously conceived! One tip on prayer: Start praying now!

Here's the BIG Idea No. 4 on Prayer: Mark 11:24 (MSG) - 'That's why I urge you to pray for absolutely everything, ranging from small to large. Include everything as you embrace this God-life, and you'll get God's everything.'
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<-- Why did Jesus die on the cross? BIG Idea No. 3
--> The Word of God is Sharp! BIG Idea No. 5
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Why did Jesus die on the Cross? - BIG Ideas on Faith No. 3

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Why did Jesus die on the Cross?

Some people say Christianity needs to be crucio-centric. That's a fancy way of saying the crucifixion of Jesus is central to the Christian faith. Though what makes the death of Jesus on the cross central to Christian belief? There must be something significant regarding this sacrifice!

The question worth asking is, 'Why did Jesus die on the cross?' I mean when you reflect upon it, Jesus was brutally murdered; left to hang upon a tree. He was beaten and whipped and gruesomely nailed to the wood. But for what purpose? If Jesus' death on a cross is so central to Christian faith, then why?

Chris Wright ("Whose world? Whose Mission?") unpacks some thoughts on the centrality of the cross. He provides five answers to the question of why Jesus died on the cross.
  • To deal with the guilt of human sin (1 Pet. 2:24)
  • To defeat the powers of evil (Col. 2:15)
  • To destroy death (Heb. 2:14)
  • To remove the barrier of enmity and alienation between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14-16)
  • To bring reconciliation to the whole of creation (Col. 1:20)
A few years ago my wife and I saw a film depicting Jesus death on the cross, and our hearts absolutely sank. I cannot explain my anguish, the sense of sinfulness I felt at that moment. My wife and I left the movie theatre, and drove to our local Salvation Army Corps. We raced inside the building, attempting to both hold in our emotions. We were wrecked. Wrecked by the realisation that we had just been confronted with who Jesus is. We were all of a sudden somehow aware that we were sinners and in need of redemption. We were broken and in need spiritual repair. Kneeling at the cross, on the mercy seat, we cried, and cried and cried. A memorable, defining moment was occurring for us. In those sacred moments, we asked Jesus for forgiveness, and we dealt with the sense of guilt were feeling. The story of Jesus; the life of Jesus; the message of Jesus came flooding upon our minds, and we transacted with God that night.

Maybe you have had the same experience at some point? Either way, my prayer is that you would be continually interrupted and kindly reminded of your sinfulness and your need to embrace the forgiveness that is available through the death of Jesus on the cross.

BIG Idea No. 3 - Jesus death on the cross is central to the Christian faith.
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<-- What is the Gospel? BIG Idea No. 2
--> How to Pray without Hurting God's Ears BIG Idea No. 4
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Thursday, February 2, 2012

BIG Ideas on Faith - No. 2 - What is the Gospel?

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Continuing our look at BIG Ideas on Faith, let's consider the question, 'What is the Gospel'? We hear words in church like, 'Open up to Matthew's Gospel', or 'Preach the Gospel', or the 'Gospel saves lives', and some of us scratch our heads. I mean, what is the gospel?

Let's look at some Bible stats. Bible.org says, 'The term gospel is found ninety-nine times in the NASB and ninety-two times in the NET Bible. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.” ' So the word gospel occurs often, making it imperative we understand what it means!

The word gospel correlates to good news. But what good news?

When I read the newspaper I struggle to find good news, unless it's a local paper that intends to write 'good news stories'. Quite often than not, I'm reading about drug smuggling, brawls, murders, disasters, underworld crime, falls from grace and political whingeing.

The New Testament that centers around Jesus, is not full of corruption and negativity. There are books full of good news. News of a promised Messiah. News of salvation freely available to all. News of victory over death. News of the beginnings of a dynamic church.

The gospel is the good news about Jesus. The Apostle Paul sums it up in 1 Cor 15:1-4 when he writes, "     1 Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance : that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. "


The gospel can then be summed up in BIG Idea No. 2.

BIG Idea No. 2 - The Gospel is the good news that is found within the birth, life, death, resurrection, and promised return of Jesus Christ.

Will you believe the gospel? Will you preach the gospel?
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<-- How could God love someone like me? BIG Idea No. 1
--> Why did Jesus die on the Cross? BIG Idea No. 3

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