N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 34A (the Churches of Christ and the New Perspective)

dayrevolutionbeganI’m long past due in explaining how all Wright’s New Perspective thinking matters to a typical Church of Christ. I apologize for that — but there’s no good place in Romans to stop. I mean, the Churches desperately need the lesson of Rom 5 we just covered, but they just as desperately need to hear from Paul’s chapter 8. And chapters 12-15. I mean, it’s almost as though Romans was written as a corrective to the 20th Century Churches of Christ.

I say “20th Century Churches of Christ” because during most of the 19th Century, the Churches had a much healthier theology and practice — and things are trending toward the better now in the 21st Century. The Churches with the biggest doctrinal problems are those who insist on clinging to the teachings of the 20th Century Churches.

So what does the New Perspective change? Why does it matter? Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 34 (the passage the Churches of Christ most need)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 5:6-10, Part 1 [JFG]

(Rom. 5:6-10 ESV)  6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ [our King] died for us.  9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 

When I was in law school, back in the late 1970s, I was invited by friends to join them at the beach for spring break — each of all three years. But my wife is a CPA, and for her, this was the middle of tax season. And it was made very clear to me that I was not to go to the beach while she was slaving away until 10 o’clock each evening to put me through school.

So I was at home, with all my friends at the beach, and bored. I used the free time to catch up on some projects — including trying to understand the NT’s teachings on grace and the Holy Spirit. I didn’t have nearly the Bible study resources I have today, and the literature available in the Bible bookstores was not nearly as helpful as what can be found today.

But somewhere in there, it started to come together for me — and among the most important passages I stumbled across was this one. It revolutionized my thinking. I mean, it turned my world upside down. In fact, it turned me into a Change Agent. Continue reading

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18 Church Trends (and More!): Trend 18+

Completing my highly derivative series on church trends are observations from Chris Martin.

Trend 18+ are a series of trends Martin found in the recently released Gallup survey.

  • 68% of ALL U.S. adults use Facebook.
  • 56% of 18-29-year-olds use auto-deleting apps (mostly Snapchat).
  • 59% of 18-29-year-olds use Instagram.
  • 36% of 18-29-year-olds use Twitter.
  • Overall, Facebook is, and will continue to be, king of the social media world.

As a church leader, what conclusions do you draw about church? Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 33 (the love of God poured out by the Spirit)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 5:3-5, Part 2

(Rom. 5:3-5 ESV)  3 Not only that, but we rejoice [Greek: “boast”] in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope [confident expectation of redemption],  5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

“God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.”

As we’ve seen in earlier posts, the language of the Spirit being “poured” is a reference to several OT prophecies of the coming of the Spirit at the end of the Exile and the coming of the Kingdom. And it’s specifically promised to not only the first generation to receive it, but successive generations. We need not repeat those many passages here.

The Greek is ambiguous as to whether “God’s love” is “God’s love for us” or “our love for God.” Some translations, such as the ESV, prefer to think in terms of God’s love for us, likely because traditional readings of Romans so emphasize what God does for the sinner. But Wright disagrees, and I think for good reason — Continue reading

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18 Church Trends (and More!): Trend 17

Continuing my highly derivative series on church trends, the next six are from Carey Nieuwhof’s post 6 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2017.

Trend 17: Engagement Will Become The New Attendance

As I outlined here, wise leaders have stopped trying to attract people and started trying to engage people.

Engagement will become the new growth engine in the future church. 

One of the changes you’ll see happening in 2017 is leaders who measure engagement as much or more than attendance.

How many people serve, how many give, how many invite their unchurched friends and how many jump into community beyond Sunday will become the new measure of effectiveness in growing churches even more than attendance.

If you don’t know those numbers, you won’t be able to evaluate the effectiveness of your ministry.

Continue reading

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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 32 (suffering produces endurance)

dayrevolutionbegan

N. T. “Tom” Wright has just released another paradigm-shifting book suggesting a new, more scriptural way of understanding the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion. Wright delves deeply into how the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus accomplish our salvation.

Rom 5:1-2

At last we get to my favorite (or second or third favorite) chapter in Romans — and it’s a chapter that’s ignored by the Churches of Christ — and the one we need to hear perhaps more than any other.

(Rom. 5:1-2 NRS) Therefore, since we are justified [declared covenant faithful and so a part of the covenant community] by faith [in Jesus or the faithfulness of Jesus], we have peace [shalom or right relationship, a Kingdom promise: the Exile is over!] with God through our Lord Jesus Christ [Messiah/King],  2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace [unmerited generosity] in which we stand; and we boast in our hope [confident expectation] of sharing the glory of God [by being in God’s very presence in the NHNE]. 

Continue reading

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18 Church Trends (and More!): Trend 16

Continuing my highly derivative series on church trends, the next six are from Carey Nieuwhof’s post 6 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2017.

Trend 16: Anonymity Will Continue To Give Way To Community

Some people head into your church wanting to be connected immediately. Others want to kick the tires a bit longer.

But when they want to engage, they want to engage. And in the future church, almost everyone will want to engage.

The days of sitting in the back row not knowing anyone, not serving anywhere, not engaging at all for years on end, are dying. After all, online is a great place to start and stay anonymous. And there are thousands of online options.

Figuring out how to connect people faster, at their own pace and in their own sequence, will become the hallmark of churches where many gather.

This makes sense to me. First-time visitors don’t want to be smothered. They don’t want to stand in front of everyone to be applauded. They are there to observe. But they are there to become engaged — if they like what they observe. And it needs to be easy for them to find their way in. Continue reading

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