But if the Messiah’s crucifixion was scandalous to Jews, it was sheer madness to non-Jews. The early cultured despisers of Christianity had no trouble mocking the very idea of worshipping a crucified man. A famous cartoon from the Palatine in Rome, dated to some point during the first three centuries of the common era, makes the point. It reads, “Alexamenos worships his god,” and features a crucified figure with a donkey’s head (below).
How easy it would have been for the early Christians to tone down the fact of the cross, to highlight instead the life-giving force of the resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit. How “sensible” it might have been to draw a discreet veil over the manner of Jesus’s death that had preceded this sudden new life.
”Ultimately, whether one chooses to accept the virgin conception will depend upon one’s theological and philosophical convictions as well as one’s faith in the ancient Church’s witness to Jesus.
All I can say is that in early 2007 it was reported in the news that a female Komodo dragon named Flora conceived through parthenogenesis (i.e. reproduction without the aid of a male). I cannot help but think that if a Komodo dragon can do it, why not God?”
Michael Bird, How Did Christianity Begin?
God is a non-material layer of reality all around us, “right here” as well as “more than right here.” This way of thinking thus afﬁrms that there are minimally two layers or dimensions of reality, the visible world of our ordinary experience and God, the sacred, Spirit.
One of my favorite quotations expressing this understanding of God is from Thomas Merton, a twentieth-century Trappist monk:
Life is this simple. We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent, and God is shining through it all the time. This is not just a fable or a nice story. It is true. If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, we see it sometimes, and we see it maybe frequently. God shows Himself everywhere, in everything—in people and in things and in nature and in events. It becomes very obvious that God is everywhere and in everything and we cannot be without Him. It’s impossible. The only thing is that we don’t see it.
Paul’s worldview shaped his theology, that is, what he believed about God, God’s people, and God’s future. When we explore his theology we begin to see his world view in vivid detail. These two are inseparable. In Wright’s words, worldview and theology are connected “in a chicken-and-egg sort of way, as opposed to a fish-and-chips sort of way.” Which comes first worldview or theology? This question reveals the interdependence of these two.
Alex este un tânăr remarcabil. A fost diagnosticat cu autism la vârsta de patru anișori. A progresat extraordinar, iar acum dorește să-i ajute pe ceilalți să înțeleagă autismul.
Are numai 21 de ani, însă a publicat deja o carte, o autobiografie, Thinking Club, vorbind în mod regulat la diferite întâlniri în Marea Britanie despre propria sa bătălie.
“Un lucru trist ce a devenit evident în timp ce îl însoțeam pe Alex atunci când trebuia să vorbească undeva, este că multe familii ce au copii cu autism sau cei care au autism ei înșiși nu s-au simțit comfortabil în Biserică.
Cred că Alex are un mesaj foarte important de oferit și că poate auzind cum a fost lumea pentru Alex v-a aduce schimbări pozitive în înțelegerea oamenilor”
With this as our framework, we should be able to read right through John and discern what he is actually doing. His Jesus is a combination of the living Word of the Old Testament, the Shekinah of Jewish hope (God’s tabernacling presence in the Temple), and “wisdom,” which in some key Jewish writings was the personal self-expression of the creator God, coming to dwell with humans and particularly with Israel (see Wis. 7; Sir. 24). But this Jesus is no mere ideal, a fictional figure cunningly combining ancient theological motifs. John’s Jesus is alive; he moves from one vivid scene to another, in far more realistic dialogue with far more realistic secondary characters than in most of the synoptic gospels. In particular, he goes again and again to Jerusalem, not least for various festivals—but in each case he appears to trump the festival itself, declaring at the Festival of Tabernacles that he is the one who provides the real living water (John 7), at Hanukkah that he is the true (royal) shepherd, and ultimately at the final Passover that he has overcome the world and its ruler, like YHWH himself overthrowing Pharaoh in Egypt, in order to liberate his people once and for all. John describes Jesus not only as the Temple in person, but as the one in whom everything that would normally happen in the Temple is fulfilled, completed, accomplished. That is why, in the incomparable final discourses of chapters 13–17, generations of readers have had a sense of entering the real Temple, the place where Jesus promises, as God promised in the ancient scriptures, to be with his people and they with him, climaxing in the prayer of chapter 17, which has often, with good reason, been called the High-Priestly Prayer. All the functions of the Temple—festival, presence, priesthood, and now sacrifice—have devolved onto Jesus. This is the heart of John’s “high Christology.”
How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels by N. T. Wright
When we find the Greek phrase zoe aionios in the gospels (and indeed in the New Testament letters), and when it is regularly translated as “eternal life” or “everlasting life,” people have naturally assumed that this concept of “eternity” is the right way to understand it. “God so loved the world,” reads the famous text in the King James Version of John 3:16, “that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life.” There we are, think average Christian readers. This is the biblical promise of a timeless heavenly bliss. But it isn’t. In the many places where the phrase zoe aionios appears in the gospels, and in Paul’s letters for that matter, it refers to one aspect of an ancient Jewish belief about how time was divided up. In this viewpoint, there were two “aions” (we sometimes use the word “eon” in that sense): the “present age,” ha-olam hazeh in Hebrew, and the “age to come,” ha-olam ha-ba. The “age to come,” many ancient Jews believed, would arrive one day to bring God’s justice, peace, and healing to the world as it groaned and toiled within the “present age.” You can see Paul, for instance, referring to this idea in Galatians 1:4, where he speaks of Jesus giving himself for our sins “to rescue us from the present evil age.” In other words, Jesus has inaugurated, ushered in, the “age to come.” But there is no sense that this “age to come” is “eternal” in the sense of being outside space, time, and matter. Far from it. The ancient Jews were creational monotheists. For them, God’s great future purpose was not to rescue people out of the world, but to rescue the world itself, people included, from its present state of corruption and decay.
If we reframe our thinking within this setting, the phrase zoe aionios will refer to “the life of the age,” in other words, “the life of the age to come.” When in Luke the rich young ruler asks Jesus, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (18:18, NRSV), he isn’t asking how to go to heaven when he dies. He is asking about the new world that God is going to usher in, the new era of justice, peace, and freedom God has promised his people. And he is asking, in particular, how he can be sure that when God does all this, he will be part of those who inherit the new world, who share its life. This is why, in my own new translation of the New Testament, Luke 18:18 reads, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit the life of the age to come?” Likewise, John 3:16 ends not with “have everlasting life” (KJV), but “share in the life of God’s new age.”
How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels by N. T. Wright
Gary Thomas has said that the purpose of marriage is to make you holy, not happy. Of course, a side benefit of marriage is companionship, shared experiences, and—many times—true happiness. But that’s not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to make us like Jesus. We don’t get to the final day on our own. Marriage is one of God’s good means to sanctify us and bring us safely home.
The most important aspect when I read a book about ministry is to understand if the author is actually involved in ministry (of course…), to understand his heart and taste his honesty.
Dangerous Calling is soaked with confessions. Paul Tripp’s confessions, and so many tragedies from the ministry field. Inspired title, Dangerous. Paul knows the problem. If you are preparing for ministry or you are involved in ministry, you can certainly understand that he was and he still is in your shoes. He’s sharing humbling and embarrassing things that most of us tend to hide.
I know I am not alone. There are many pastors who have inserted themselves into a spiritual category that doesn’t exist. Like me, they think they are someone they’re not. So they respond in ways that they shouldn’t, and they develop habits that are spiritually dangerous. They are content with a devotional life that either doesn’t exist or is constantly kidnapped by preparation
He examines his heart and motivations in ministry and invites you to walk in his steps, constantly asking himself, how is the Gospel of Jesus Christ forming the heart of the pastor and his ministry local culture. Undoubtedly, if you do not understand the ministry as it was designed by God, you are in a dangerous place. If the work of God and not God Himself is the main motivation, you are in a dangerous place.
The pastor must be enthralled by, in awe of—can I say it: in love with—his Redeemer so that everything he thinks, desires, chooses, decides, says, and does is propelled by love for Christ and the security of rest in the love of Christ. He must be regularly exposed, humbled, assured, and given rest by the grace of his Redeemer. His heart needs to be tenderized day after day by his communion with Christ so that he becomes a tender, loving, patient, forgiving, encouraging, and giving servant leader. His meditation on Christ—his presence, his promises, and his provisions—must not be overwhelmed by his meditation on how to make his ministry work.
You can feel the love for those who are involved in God’s work and also his pain for the unhealthy pastoral culture that anyone can identify today. The only remedy is Christ.
You see, it is only love for Christ that can defend the heart of the pastor against all the other loves that have the potential to kidnap his ministry. It is only worship of Christ that has the power to protect him from all the seductive idols of ministry that will whisper in his ear. It is only the Continue reading →
How can a God of love allow suffering and injustice in the world? Why we had to go through such awful events last year? Why is He allowing confusion sometimes, to cry and be in pain. Why there’s no answer to my prayer?
Although people today have some answers and approach this subject in different ways, the biblical answer to the problem of evil and suffering is the only true and liberating answer you can find.
Sproul is presenting God and His ways with a wonderful logic and clear insight. He is very biblical in his style of defending the truth about God’s sovereignty and providence.
In a very generous and warm environment, he is calling us to trust this good and loving God who really has all things in His hands and does not allow something in your life without a holy purpose, often misunderstood by us.
We are called to embrace these dark moments with hope, always recognizing God’s love and care, and believe that, as he is saying … the providence of God is our fortress, our shield, and our very great reward. It is what provides courage and perseverance for His saints.
Pastor, to these beaten-down ones you have been called as an ambassador of glory. You have been called to rescue those who are awe discouraged and awe confused. You are called to represent the One who is glory, to people who, by means of suffering and disappointment, have become glory cynics. You have been called to be God’s voice to woo them back. You are placed in their lives as a divine means of rescue, healing, and restoration. You have been called to speak into the confusion with gospel clarity and authority. You have been called to give glory-bound hope to those who have become hopeless. You are called to speak liberating truths to those who have become deceived. You have been called to plead with disloyal children to once again be reconciled to their heavenly Father. You have been called to give glorious motivation to those who have given up. You have been called to shine the light of the glory of God into hearts that have been made dark by looking for life in all the wrong places. You have been called to offer the filling glories of grace to those who are empty and malnourished. You have been called to represent a glorious King, who alone is able to rescue, heal, redeem, transform, forgive, deliver, and satisfy. You have been called.
Paul David Tripp, Dangerous Calling, Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry, 2012, p.151, 152
Some of you may remember how Bunyan’s pilgrim, when called back by his wife and children from the journey on which he was setting out, put his fingers in his ears, and ran crying, Life, Life, Eternal Life.
In the same way, my family was against me when God saved me. When I was converted my folks didn’t understood this wonderful moment. They were quite blind. I felt they were my opponents. I was considered a freak. They though that someone has brainwashed me. A heretic with some strange and foreign heresies. I was baptized without their consent. My stepfather didn’t ate with me at the table because he believed that I’ve abandoned the ancestral Orthodox faith, and that was an unpardonable sin. My mother used to come in my room crying and telling me that she would rather see me with a cigarette in my mouth, in a Club with some girls than with a Bible in my hand. She was terrified. But I ran crying, Life, Life, Eternal Life.
This isn’t something new. Jesus said that:
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Mat.10:34,35
If this is happening in your life because of your decision to follow Christ, rejoice. You’re on the right path. One of our Romanian saints said once that, When your relatives will surround you like bees or Continue reading →
There are many pastors that are showing something in public and a totally different stuff in their private life. Some call this a double life. Spiritual schizophrenia.
I was very surprised, taking a break from my reading of Paul Tripp’s, Dangerous Calling, to see an article on Gospel Coalition by Ronnie Martin, written nearly on the same topic. He is speaking about a fellow pastor that “lost his way”, to use Tripp’s words. He describes the following scenario:
It was nothing “scandalous” at all, really. It was that he lied.
When asked how he was doing, he always replied, “Great!” When asked what he needed prayer for, he always offered some generic request.
He kept things guarded, impersonal, and close to the vest, even when others around him shared the depths of their heart. I don’t think I ever heard him apologize to anyone for anything, ever.
Yet he smiled a lot. He laughed heartily and kept things as “positive” as possible. But I saw how the people closest to him were positively crushed by his lack of vulnerability. I was one of them
The unbelievable aspect in this story is that Ronnie himself soon realized that is very tempted to lie also about his condition. Mentoring a young man, he was challanged to be honest.
I repented to him, praying that God would destroy the pride that kept me from sharing my heart to others. Pride is always the root problem. I wanted people to see me as someone who didn’t need the gospel as bad as I was telling them they needed it.
Praise God that the Holy Spirit faithfully reveals what our hearts conceal. Praise God that those no one hidden in Christ needs to hide anything any longer.
Now, this has a happy ending and it’s quite a gentle story compared with the painful and scary things you’ll find in Tripp’s book. It’s quite an embarrassing, humbling book and you may feel tempted to say that it’s speaking to a small number of ministers, but from his experience(and mine) that’s not true. Continue reading →