Archives for category: Faith

The Church was born about 50 days after Jesus was crucified and resurrected from the dead. Witness the times in which the new Church came to be: The ruling empire was an Imperial Roman one. Gross idolatry was rampant in regions like Corinth, and Jerusalem had rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Read the Gospels and it’s clear what kind of opposition the first followers of Jesus had to face.

Fast forward to the present time. The world hasn’t changed much. Israel continues to reject Jesus, and our western culture lives in a pluralistic, secular, post-Christian paganism. We are in the “perilous times” of which the Apostle Paul warned.

Nevertheless, Jesus gave clear instructions to the disciples before his ascension:

 and (He)said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”  (Luke 24:46-47 ESV)

Now this wasn’t some scheme that just got dreamed up. This wasn’t a movement that some guru started in his basement. Jesus stated that these things about Him were written before in the Scriptures.  After showing his physical body and reassuring the sceptical disciples that it was not a ghost they were seeing in front of them, he ‘opened their minds'( Luke 24:45) to understand the Scriptures.

With open minds, they had ability to understand and put together what Jesus had been saying while he was with them, and the mandate of the Gospel could be given. They were witnesses of Jesus’ death and resurrection. The message of these things could now be credibly proclaimed among the nations.

They were told to proclaim “repentance and faith” in Jesus because He died and was risen again for sinners. That was the core and foundational truth of the Gospel. Here’s how many years later, the Apostle Paul would prove in his writing that this message had not changed one iota:

 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.
 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…”  (1 Corinthians 15:1-11 ESV)

Has the modern Church forgotten the mandate? Has the Church lost it’s clear direction in over 2000 years? Many churches in the evangelical movement have lost sight of it. How?

Many “gospels” have become commonplace. There are social gospels and works gospels, prosperity gospels, political gospels, and myriad false teachings about Jesus and his work. These says Paul are not really “good news” at all. That Christ has come and died for sinners, rising from death to give eternal life is the Good News. That’s the message we are to herald.

Now what do we do when we’ve lost our moorings in this essential matter?

Back to the Gospel! Repentance and faith must begin with us. We need to remember not only that Jesus’ resurrection was not only a mere fact of history, but a real death and real supernatural conquering of death. Jesus actually walked in the dirt in Jerusalem, and bled on the wooden cross. His body was prepared for a burial, and his body came out of the tomb. Why? Because God’s Word was fulfilled!

Next, when we have repented of our sins and trusted in this living Christ, we need to find ourselves among other saints. There is no Lone Ranger Christianity. The Church is a BODY, with MANY members and Christ as the HEAD. If we are to proclaim our head, we must be in the body.

I suggest that unless we are first proclaiming our Lord in the remembrance of his body and blood in the church gathering, we should not even be speaking of Him. Once again, Paul prefaces his corrections in his letter to Corinth by stating “when you come together” 1 Cor. 11:20.

What are we doing in this togetherness? Among other things, we are “proclaiming the Lord’s death until He comes” when we eat the bread and drink of the Cup of the Lord in communion.

There are the same elements again. There is a proclamation and it concerns the death of Jesus.

Unlike the first Christians, we do not have to wait for power from above. We already have it in our possession. Or better yet: The power of the Spirit has US!

So with that in mind, let us turn from frivolous issues and fixate our eyes of faith on Jesus, and PROCLAIM HIM.

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Japan’s recent earthquake and tsunami double disaster has brought up the usual rhetoric of “end time” scenarios. Editors like to call such phenomena,”Apocalyptic“. Sources like The Sun or The Mirror  jars our senses with such headlines. Let’s face it: Japan’s nuclear emergency is disastrous. Already there is high-level radiation in the air, and the threat of “Chernobyl-like” meltdown.

The situation has caused much talk amongst ordinary people. We who are so far removed from the problem still sense a foreboding disaster could reach us. Here in Ontario we felt the tremors of a small earthquake in Quebec on Wednesday afternoon. Then reports of a small leak in a Pickering, Ontario nuclear facility didn’t calm fears any.(It was “negligible”). Nevertheless, I encountered discussions with friends about the future in light of these disasters.

The question centered on a scenario of “what if”. What if the nuclear plants in Japan leak radiation and destroy the planet? What if we out planet becomes so overpopulated that we can’t survive as a race? From the global perspective to the eschatological speculations, what is happening raises other fears, and causes people to think through their future and their mortality.

What’s interesting in these questions is that there’s a sort of “naturalistic inevitability” built into the assumptions. The idea is that life will always go on as is, with natural cycles of climatic change, and population growth.  In this naturalistic thinking, the earth will end in some disastrous way, a nuclear war, a huge asteroid hit, pandemic disease, etc. What ‘s happening in Japan, at least for these people, somehow portends our human fate-in a naturalistic apocalypse-a final devastation like the “end of the world” of Biblical proportions.

As I entered the dialogue, I thought about the true “end of the world”. While I’m captivated and heartbroken by the devastation in Japan, I know that it’s not the Biblical “Apocalypse”. Such comparisons are well meant-by the biblically ingnorant- but the Apocalypse of Jesus Christ includes the outpouring of the wrath of God on the inhabitants of the Earth. It’s a unparalleled time of cataclysm and misery and darkness, which make the present tsunami a picnic at the park by comparison. I know that the world won’t cease to exist or die in a “heat death” as our atheistic experts in astrophysics like to theorize.  I know all this because God has spoken already, with finality, and with purpose about the end-and it’s not the end of the world, but the end of the AGE. It will be followed by an incumbant age of peace and new order of things under God’s appointed King. People have told themselves a lot of lies to justify what is happening in the world. They’ve multiplied “gospels” to fulfill their need for certainty in chaos. But the root of the global problem is sin-human sin. It’s the result of the curse-and the One who spoke it because of sin, also reverses it by His Word. People need the only true Gospel now. They need a biblical worldview to make sense of it all, and find their stability in a crazy world.

Japan’s current situation may get worse. But before Japan there was New Orleans, and there were disasters in Indonesia, and New Zealand. They have come and gone. Tragedies occurred in all of them, but so did triumphs. The world is “groaning” in earthquakes and volcanoes, and killer storms and tsunamis. We haven’t seen the last of them-but the “end” is not yet.

What always seems to come out of these things is this: People ask about God. They talk about Him, and think about life in relation to Him. For Christians, Japan is a time for dialogue with others who are seeking hope in disaster as well as showing our practical love and concern for our neighbours. We should not panic with others. We know what the Bible says about the end of days, and we, in our canon of truth possess the real “Apocalypse”-the true meaning of which is to unveil or reveal something, in this case God’s plan for His people and his Glory in the Lamb of God, and King of Kings.

By the way…I ended up explaining sin, righteousness and the judgement to come to my friends…and telling them that Jesus Christ came to earth in order to deal with sin so that people could live forever in a newly renovated Earth. (See also Revelation 21-22).