Steven’s Study

Resources collected from my personal study, suggested for your personal study.

Every week I bring you a list of articles, podcasts, and sermons that I found helpful for my own edification. My hope is that you also will find these useful in your personal growth in the Christ.

The Gospel According to EnChroma

I have a good friend who has a pair of EnChroma sunglasses. He has told me that wearing them can be overwhelming at times. The author here reminders me that my experience of the new heavens and new earth will be much the same, but even more so. Here is a bit of the article:

And here’s the truly amazing hope. What if the world we see right now in all its blazing colour is but a pale, anaemic, washed out version of the world that is coming? What if the resurrection of Jesus is the multi-coloured firstfruits of a world so saturated in colour that on that final day we will just stand there for the first few million years of eternity, gazing at the never-setting Son and just go “Wow!”?

Walking in the Spirit

This is a fantastic talk by Sinclair Ferguson about the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as our Divine Helper. I think the time on this recording is about 26 minutes, but well worth it. Why not listen to it on your drive to and from work today?

The Hottest Thing at Church Is Not Your Pastor or Worship Leader

This was an encouraging article to me. However, it should not be surprising to those who read their Bible.  “For wthe word of God is living and xactive, ysharper than any ztwo-edgedsword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, andadiscerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And bno creature is hidden fromhis sight, but all are cnaked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Heb. 4:12-13

Glorifying God with infertility

For anyone who has struggled with the pain of infertility, I hope that this article is encouraging. And for anyone who has never struggled with the pain of infertility, I hope this article is eye-opening.

You Can’t Love Missions without Loving the Local Church

This is why I think church planting is the best missional strategy of all time. We need those who love the local church, to be sent out by the local church, to create new local churches, and repeat! Here is a bit of the article:

Service in global missions and service to the local church aren’t opposed to each other—or at least they shouldn’t be. And yet, we’ve often taught by example, if not explicitly, that a love for the local church looks like staying where you are for a long time. Imagine what could happen if your church started sending overseas those members who love and serve the church best. Imagine what could happen if your members grew in seeing missions as integrated into their lives as church members, whether they stay or go.

As ever, may the Lord bless you and keep you! – Steven

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Steven’s Study

Resources collected from my personal study, suggested for your personal study.

Every week I bring you a list of articles, podcasts, and sermons that I found helpful for my own edification. My hope is that you also will find these useful in your personal growth in the Christ.

Today’s attack in Egypt is the latest strike in the war on Christians in the Middle East

I am consistently amazed at how few people know about the reality of Christian persecution in the world. The attacks in Egypt on Palm Sunday cause us to remember our brothers and sisters who endure this kind of animosity everyday, and to pray that our Lord might draw people to himself through the suffering. Come quickly Lord Jesus!

The Key to Happiness Is More Stuff . . . Right?

In my experience we all know that more stuff doesn’t lead to happiness, but our actions often betray what we profess to be truth. I’m not sure anyone would say, out loud, that more stuff will make them happy, but we sure live like it will.

Dads, Be Tender With Your Children

For a Dad that tends to be too loud, too opinionated, and too quick to bring correction into a discussion, this article hit me between the eyes. “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger.”

BreakPoint: Planet Earth II Missing the Maker in the Majesty

This article reminded me this week, that people can look at the most fantastic parts of God’s creation and miss him completely. Which then caused me to remember that I look at those same things and often live as though I also have missed him that day.

Church Planting Math: Addition Vs. Multiplication

It is all well and good to talk about being a church plant that plants churches, but the reality of that work can be scary. This is a great article by my friend Brian Bowman about why it is worth it.

Why I Believe the Bible

As the author states, this is a quick reference guide to help communicate to others, and reminder yourself, why you believe the Bible. I think it is an important issue to think through deeply.

As ever, may the Lord bless you and keep you! – Steven

Local Church – Global Impact 5: Mission Tightly Defined

This is a continuation of the last post about Biblical Convictions about mission.  What I’m trying to do in that post and this is to lay a foundation from which to build our mission engagement as a church.  And this is where the foundation must come from – the Word of God.

So, what I’m going to do is a little dangerous.

I’m going to give 5 Biblical reasons why the “mission of the Church” should be tightly defined as proclamation based.*  There are certainly folks out there that would disagree.  They may disagree with my reading of the Scriptures.  They may point to other passages that I won’t be engaging.  I am aware of their arguments and positions, but I still believe that as we look at the major thrust of Scripture, we’ll land where Scrivener and DeYoung and others landed in the previous post.  Namely, we’ll see that the mission of the Church is evangelism that leads to discipleship that leads to church planting.

Point 1: The Blessing from Abraham for the Nations (ETHNE) is the Gospel

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” -Galatians 3.8

The choosing of Abraham and therefore Israel is a choosing that places them in a unique role between God and the nations/gentiles.  The Lord has promised to BLESS Abraham and his seed in such a way that all the nations will be blessed.  And that blessing for the nations, according to Paul, is the Gospel.  It’s good news!  It’s news of rescue that must be preached!

Now some will say that the blessing Abraham received was land, offspring, finances, and a great name.  But those things were given SO THAT Yahweh might provide a Savior for the world.  Those circumstantial blessings (name, land, money, offspring) were simply to create a scenario in which the Messiah could come.  With no offspring, the promise breaks down.  With no land, it would be difficult to create a people through whom God might redeem all the other peoples.

Point 2: The Great Commission Fulfills Restoration Promises

Often folks will say, God’s mission is the redemption of the cosmos, not just humanity.  That’s true, but what they fail to see is that the redemption of the cosmos depends on redemption of humanity.  I want to show this in 2 ways.  First, I want to show that Matthew sees the fulfillment of the Great Commission as the fulfillment of land and restoration promises.

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matt 28.16-20

The entirety of Matthew’s Gospel is to show how Jesus is the fulfillment of all the promises of Yahweh.  That is true all the way until the end.  Here’s the difference, part of Christ’s fulfillment of OT promises comes through the ministry of the Church, particularly as she goes and proclaims the Gospel to all nations, making disciples of all people groups.

It is interested to read Matthew 28.16-20 next to two key OT passages – Joshua 1.6-9 and 2 Chronicles 36.22-23, here:

Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 22 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing: 23 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the Lord his God be with him. Let him go up.’

In both passages, you’ll see significant overlaps.  Look at the Septuagint, for me, makes this even more clear.  You’ll see doubt/fear on the part of those being commissioned with Matthew and Joshua.  You’ll see clear communication on what the goal is (all nations, all the land, a house at Jerusalem).  You’ll see authority being assigned.  You’ll see the expectation of obedience and completion.  You’ll see the expectation that those commissioned will GO and fulfill what they’ve been given.

Why does Matthew pattern the Great Commission after these passages?  It’s not just a commission formula.  It’s FULFILLMENT!  Matthew is saying, “all the promises regarding land, restoration, etc. in the Old Testament will be fulfilled in this way!”  The road to restoration of the cosmos runs through the fulfillment of the Great Commission.  This is particularly meaningful for the 2 Chronicles passage.  They were heading back to the land, back to build the Temple, back to Yahweh.  This was meant to be the restoration, but it wasn’t.  Matthew says, “the Great Commission is!”

Another reason I believe this is Paul’s argument in Chapter 8, namely that the redemption of the creation WAITS FOR THE REVEALING OF THE SONS OF GOD!  Or to sum up, creation will not be redeemed until God has finished redeeming His children.  Creation will grown, waiting in futility, until salvation is finalized.  The road to the redemption of the cosmos is paved with evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.

Part 3: The Early Church’s activity

How did the early church respond to the Great Commissions (Matt 28.16-20, Luke 24.44-49, Acts 1.8, John 20.21, and Mark 16.15)?  What did they do?  The preached the Gospel as they went out, discipled new believers, and planted churches.  That’s how they responded.  We see no example of them engaging politically (not that some of them weren’t active in politics because of their professions).  There is some care for the poor, the widow, etc. but those examples are all Christians taking care of Christians.  That’s not to say that there wasn’t wider care.  What I’m saying is that Luke is trying to tell us what the church on mission did.  Because they were simply Christians, they loved the poor, the widow, but this is Christian ethics, NOT missiology.  If you took the entirety of the book of Acts, you’d see a Church busy about proclaiming Christ to the lost.  So, how did they respond to Christ’s commission?  Evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.

Part 4: Paul Planted Churches

There were many missionaries, ordained and sent, in the New Testament time.  But, we only get to follow 1 of them around – Paul.  Which means that we should look closely at his activity to discern the work of mission.  Yes, he did collect funds for the suffering churches, but if we take the few references in the NT to that and then argue that it was central to Paul’s ministry, we’d be arguing that 3 or 4 verses are as important as hundreds of others that show Paul preaching, discipling, and raising up churches.  Look at Romans 15.19b-24

19b from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, 21 but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,
    and those who have never heard will understand.”

22 This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. 23 But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, 24 I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.

He’s COMPLETED work from Jerusalem all the way to modern day Croatia and Albania.  What had he done in those regions?  Established churches.

Point 5: God Keeps His Promises

Genesis 12.1-13 says that the blessing through Abram’s seed, that is through Jesus (Gal 3.17), will go to all peoples.  It just makes sense that the end would wait for this promise to be kept.  Regardless of eschatology, passages like Matthew 24.14, Romans 11.25, and 2 Peter 3.8-13, should lead all of us to say, “Yes, God will keep His promise.  He is God of ALL nations.”  So, He is waiting and redeeming men and women from all nations.  He’s not waiting for poverty to be demolished (though we should want it to be) or political peace throughout the world (though we should pursue that).  This is the only mission that He’s promised to complete before the end.  And, we know He keeps His promise because we see them in Revelation 7:9 gathered before the throne of God, worshiping the Lamb of God.

OK, I tried to keep that short.  Each point, perhaps, should have had it’s own post.

Life Changing Stat of the Month – April 2017

Hello friends, before jumping back into my series on Local Church mission strategy, I wanted to start a new Monthly-ish series called “Life Changing Stat of the Month” where we simply share a stat and discuss it’s importance for the Church and her mission.

This month’s stat comes from the Center for the Study of Global Christianity.  I want you to read it at least 3 times before moving on.  Ready, here it is:

86% of all Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists do not personally know a Christian

What do you think about that?  That means that the largest blocks of people without the Gospel don’t even know someone that could tell it to them.  What should that mean for the Church?  This SHOULD have seismic shifts in our churches’ mission strategy (we’ll visit this soon), in our short-term mission practices, in our prayers, and in our day to day lives.

Do you see it…the lost are, in many ways, because Christians choose to not live anywhere near them.  Even some residual evangelism might take place if we just lived among them.  Some people ask me why God is allowing the refugee crisis today…I think a major reason is this stat.  I think Paul would agree.  Read Acts 17.26-27

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him.

God has, as my friend Cody Lorance says, taken the 10/40 Window and started shaking it upside down over places where Christians do live and churches do exist.  WHY?  So that these poor, lost, miserable masses might seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him!!!!

Well then, besides welcoming the unreached that come to us, what are we to do?  What if we started allowing the Biblical priority that the Gospel should move from where it is to where it is not (see Genesis 12.1-3, Luke 4.43, and Romans 15:18-24 for instance) affect where we send workers.  It may not be enough simply to say, “we’ll send you anywhere God has laid on your heart.”  Maybe we need to help them see God’s heart on this matter.

What if, too, we encouraged our marketplace professionals to find out if their company (or a company like it) might consider transferring them to Unreached places.  I have friends that have been transferred (along with very healthy pay raises) to some of the most unreached Muslim countries in the world.  We must be in contact with the lost.  Even those of us stuck in the West or the “bible belt” need to be asking whether many lost people know us.

I know some of you out their have even better ideas.  Let’s hear them!

Steven’s Study

Resources collected from my personal study, suggested for your personal study.

Every week I bring you a list of articles, podcasts, and sermons that I found helpful for my own edification. My hope is that you also will find these useful in your personal growth in the Christ.

A conversation, not a recitation

This is a good article about gospel fluency in our daily conversations. For many reason we all need to learn the outline of the gospel, but then that information must make it’s way into everyday conversation. “Evangelism is communication, not recitation.”

Building Blocks of Salvation pt 2: The Path

Building Blocks of Salvation Pt 3: The Purpose & The Promise

Here are parts 2 and 3 of Clint Archer’s series on salvation. If your looking for part 1 because you missed it. I posted it a few weeks ago, or just click here.

J. I. Packer on One of the Most Urgent Needs in the Church Today

This is an article posted on Crossway as a recommendation for their new book “The New City Catechism”. It has many quotes by J.I. Packer about the need for Catechesis in the church. I have looked in on this practice a few times for my children, but now I find myself think of how we might incorporate this into our church. I think it may hold many benefits.

‘One Anothers’ I Can’t Find in the New Testament

Here is flavor on this short article by Ray Ortland Jr.

“Therefore, when we mistreat one another, our problem is not a lack of surface niceness but a lack of gospel depth. What we need is not only better manners but, far more, true faith.”

 

My post is a bit shorter this week, but hope you find some help here.

As ever, may the Lord bless you and keep you! – Steven