Category Archives: Gospel

The Cross

On Sunday we discussed how the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus all pointed to the Kingdom. Here are some of the notes from Sunday regarding Christ’s death.

Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, died by crucifixion. You can read the accounts of his death in Matthew 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.

Crucifixion was so horrendous that a word was created to just describe it. Excruciating mean “from the cross.”

Scourging

Before a person was crucified, they were scourged. Many would died from the scourging before even making it to the cross due the fact that it was so painful. The person being scourged would have his hands chained above his head in order to expose his back, butt, and legs. The executioner would then start whipping him with a cat’o nine tail which was made of several long, leather straps with metal balls, glass and metal hooks on the end.

The idea was to whip the back, butt and legs tenderizing and destroying the flesh and muscles making it look like raw, bloody ground meat. Every now and then a strap would whip across the front of the defendant, latching onto one of the ribs and ripping it completely out of the body. Victims would shout is agony, shake violently, and bleed heavily.

Crown of thorns
A crown of thorns was shoved onto Christ’s head making his hair and beard a drenched mess. Blood and sweat most likely ran into his eyes causing them to sting every time he attempted to open them.

Mocked

Throughout the entire process our God was mocked and spat on. His beard was ripped right off of his face. This was the ultimate sign of disgrace in that day. This was all done in front of his friends and family.

Crossbar of the Cross
Roughly 100 pounds of unfinished, splintery wood was placed on Christ’s back to carry.  The beam was most likely recycled layered with blood from past crucifixions.Christ collapsed under the weight of the cross and Simon had to carry the beam the rest of the way.
Crucifixion
7 inch, rough, metal nails were driven into his hands or wrists and feet, witch are the most sensitive nerve centers of the body, nailing him to the cross. To die by crucifixion would mean to die by asphyxiation. So while hanging on the cross, one would eventually die by not being able to breathe. Each breath would be tremendously painful, as they would have to pull themselves up for each breath.

This was all done in public places. If crucifixion happened today it would most likely be down long the side of streets and freeways, or in front of the mall so everyone could see. The worst, low life type of people would gather around those being crucified to mock, spit at, jeer and shame the person. The cross was usually set at eye level so that people walking by would see them face to face. Eventually, one being crucified, would loss all control of bodily function. A pool of blood, urine, waste, sweat, and tears would collected at the bottom of the cross.

Why did he die?

Romans 4:25 “He was delivered up for our trespasses”

Romans 5:8 “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

1 Corinthians 15:3 “Christ died for our sins”

1 Peter 3:18 “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God”

Galatians 3:13 “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us ”

The only way into the Kingdom of God is through the cross of Christ.

Nick

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Mission Without Evangelism

Engaging culture is cool. It is an appealing cause to partake in especially for Christian college students. Missional communities are formed around reaching certain people groups and are structured to be welcoming and appealing. Many of our Living Rooms spend time meeting new people, hanging out on campus, throwing parties, playing volleyball, paintballing, hiking, hosting game nights, serving the homeless, and even one (freshman) Living Room is known for playing cops are robbers. All of these things have been done within the context of gospel-communties with the intentions of engaging and inviting in people who don’t know Jesus yet.

I have been extremely encouraged by the ways our Living Rooms have been able to center themselves around specific people groups and welcome those people into our communities. Our Living Rooms are filled with students who are getting smashed by the gospel of Jesus and have been seeking ways to demonstrate the gospel to those who don’t know Christ. My concern, however, is the lurking lack of proclamation of the gospel. Overall, we’ve been fruitful through demonstrating the gospel, but have fallen short in many ways of declaring the gospel.

It is important to understand that at the forefront of God’s mission is his spoken Word. We see in Scripture that God spoke creation into existence. In the Old Testament he spoke through the prophets. In the gospels he spoke through his Son. And now in the age of the church he speaks through his people.  The nature of mission is evangelistic because God moves through spoken word. Missional communities cannot be missional without being evangelical. Mission is not solely engaging through action, but through word as well.

God is not forming communities to be nice people who are socially active. He is creating a people to complete the work that he has started. ( Matthew 28: 16-20; John 20: 19-23; Philippians 1:6)

In Matthew 5:16 Jesus tells us to “let our lights shine so that they may see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven.” As outsiders are viewing a Living Room what do you think their response will be? “Wow, these people are really great!” or “Wow, God is really great!”? I would contend that they initial response would be to give glory to the community instead of the Father. In order for them to see our good works and give glory to our Father in heaven they will need to be directed to the Father through our spoken word. The only way this will happen is if the gospel is demonstrated and declared at the same time. We need to declare the why.

As missionaries we build relationships and invite outsiders into community, but not for the sake of community itself. We build relationships and invite others into our community so that they may hear the gospel of Christ. The sole reason why we have Living Rooms is so that people who hear the gospel and be transformed.

Reflection:

  • How have I been able to declare the gospel?
  • What fears do I have with declaring the gospel?
  • How can we (Living Room) proclaim the gospel to the people group we’re engaging?
  • Do I pray for God to open doors and give me words to speak? (Col 4:3-4)
  • Do I seek ways to share the gospel with people God has put in my life?

Nick

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Defined: Missionary

On Thursday VI will be defining what it means to be missionaries sent by God into our culture.

We’ll be discussing how mission isn’t just something we do, but it’s also who we are. The goal is that we’re living missionaly, which means living out the gospel in the ordinary rhythms of life.

Here are 5 rhythms we’ll be looking over Thursday (adopted by Tim Chester and The Edge Network):

  1. Bless – We strive to bless others through word and deed.
  2. Listen – We take time to listen to people stories to understand them better and learn.
  3. Eat – We pursue time to share a meal with others.
  4. Speak – We look for opportunities to speak the gospel in all areas and circumstances.
  5. Sabbath – We celebrate and party what God has done/is doing.

The hope is that we’re doing all of these things together as a gospel-family and are in turn  going out B.L.E.S.S.ing others.

Which of the 5 rhythms are you already living out?

Which ones are you not?

What does it look like to practically live out these missional rhythms in your context (school, work, roommates, etc.)?

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The Nasty Now and Now

I had the privilege of spending this past weekend with the Surge Network listening and talking with Carl Ellis about bringing the gospel to bare in our culture.

The weekend was very beneficial in regards to contextualizing the gospel in such a way that speaks people’s language and meets them where they are at.

Here are some notes I took from one of Prof. Ellis’ lectures entitled “Doing Theology In the ‘Nasty Now and Now'” (some parts adapted):

Theology – “The application of God’s Word by persons in every area of life.” – Frame

Basic principles in doing theology –

  • Know the author.
  • The meaning of the Bible is it’s application to our life situations.
  • Not only does God reveal himself in the words of the Bible, but also in the basic patterns of the biblical situations.
  • There is no situation we go through in life whose basic pattern is not already revealed in the Bible.

5 steps

  1. Prayerfully look for the basic life patterns in biblical stories and situations.
  2. Prayerfully look for the basic patterns in: a) your life situation b) the life situations in your Living Room.
  3. Prayerfully match them up when they are alike.
  4. Prayerfully look into the Scriptures for how God was in control, speaking, and present.
  5. Then you will have a good framework for understanding how God is: in control of your life situation now, speaking in your life situation now, and present in your life situation now.

Nick

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Exult in Christ

“Christian exultation in God begins with the shamefaced recognition that we have no claim on him at all, continues with wondering worship that while we were still sinners and enemies Christ died for us, and ends with the humble confidence that he will complete the work he has begun. So to exult in God is to rejoice not in our privileges but in his mercies, not in our possession of him but in his of us.”

—John Stott

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Gospel Explanation

Over the last few weeks I’ve been wrestling with the words Jesus preached in Matthew 5:13-16. He tells us that, by being his disciples, we are the “salt” and “light” to the world. We are to bring flavor and reflect God’s light in the dark and tasteless places of our world.

What has been striking me the most is v16 where Christ tells us to “let our light shine so that others may see our good works and give glory to our Father who is in heaven.” John Stott states that the mandate from Christ is to live as a counter-culture… a Kingdom-culture.

This teaching of Jesus proclaims that we live in such a way that demands an explanation- a gospel explanation.

So how do we live in such a way?

Here are a few ways I believe we can live as a Kingdom-counter-culture that demands an explanation:

  • 9Love Jesus. Sounds simple, but can often be over looked. If we are a people that love Jesus and pursue gospel implications in ever area of life it will change our hearts and behavior. (Romans 2:4)
  • Live in gospel community. We’re intended to live together as family. Baring each other’s burdens and providing of each other’s needs will demand an explanation (Acts 2). Working together with our own unique, Spirit given gifts will demand an explanation. Loving, caring, and serving each other will demand an explanation. (Romans 12)
  • Going out of your way to bless others. God has blessed us by eternally saving us, but with present implications. God blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others. (Genesis 12)
  • Understanding that Jesus is in control. Know that God is sovereign in his placement of you in time and place (Acts 17), he has blessed you, made you a blessing, and is working his mission through you. (Philippians 2)
  • Understand that you’re called to freedom in Christ. Christ has set you free from cultural idols – individualism, moralism, consumerism, materialism, humanism. You are set free from being slaves to sin so that you may live gospel-centered, missional-focused lives. (Galatians 5)
  • Live through the Grace of God. What difference would it make if you truely believed that there is nothing you can do, good or bad, that could separate you from God? (Romans 8 )

In order to live a life that demands an explanation we must center our lives around the gospel itself.

Imagine what it would look like to have Living Rooms filled with followers of Christ living in such a way that demands a gospel explanation. What impact would it make in north Tempe?

Nick

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Gospel Community

The following is a blog post by Steve Timmis  from The Resurgence.

Pitfalls in the Pursuit of Gospel Community

Steve Timmis

Dual Fidelity

Evangelicals are called to a dual fidelity: faithfulness to the gospel word and faithfulness to the gospel community. The gospel word creates the gospel community; the gospel community displays and declares the gospel word.

In the contemporary scene, people and movements tend towards polarization on this issue. It’s often those who are solid on the gospel word who are flabby on gospel community. Likewise, those who elevate community tend to downplay the word.

But there are dangers facing those of us who want to be true to that dual fidelity. As we move towards the nurture and development of vibrant and attractive gospel communities, we must avoid certain pitfalls to prevent us from damaging a truly good thing.

In a series of short blogs, I’ll highlight some of these pitfalls. The aim is not to scare us away from gospel community, but to make it even sweeter when we get into it.

Pitfall #1

The Gospel Saves… Not Community

In the first chapter of Romans, Paul gives a summary of the gospel (Rom. 1:3-4), which he then later (Rom. 1:16) describes as the power of God for the salvation of those who believe. The gospel that saves is the proclamation that Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, is the risen Lord of the world. It is a summons to the whole world to submit to him.

Every time Paul preached Christ crucified and risen, he did so confidently and expectantly because he knew that was the means by which God saved his people.

If the gospel saves because it is God’s ordained method of rescuing the lost, then:

  • You and I don’t
  • Methods and personalities don’t
  • Structures and systems don’t

Inquiring Minds…

Our danger comes not through actively rejecting the gospel, but in terms of our assumptions being demonstrated by our practice. What we can’t do is let our focus on community (as important as that is) lull us into thinking that all we need to do is expose people to it, and hey presto, they’re with us.

That might happen of course, but it won’t mean they’re Christians. According to Peter, it is our corporate life that invites people to ask for the reason for the hope that we have (1 Pe.3:15). There has to be something inexplicable about our gospel community that causes people to inquire. We then have the opportunity to speak the gospel word, for it is through that, and that alone, that God saves.

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