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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N. T. Wright’s The Day the Revolution Began, Romans Reconsidered, Part 31 (the promise given to Abraham is for all with faith)

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 4:23-25

(Rom. 4:23-25 ESV)  23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone,  24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in[/trust/are faithful to] him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord,  25 who was delivered up [sacrificed on the cross] for our trespasses [sins] and raised for our justification [so that we would be declared members of the covenant community].

Wright explains,

Christian faith is thus, for Paul, irrevocably resurrection-shaped. Like Abraham’s faith, it is by no means simply a general religious awareness or trust in a remote or distant supernatural being, but gains its form, as well as its content, from the revelation of God’s covenant faithfulness in the events concerning Jesus … . “Faith,” for Paul, is never a thing in itself, but is always defined, as Rom 4:16–22 makes clear, in relation to the God in whom trust is placed. The purpose of a window is not to cover one wall of the house with glass, but to let light in and to let the inhabitants see out.

N.T. Wright, “The Letter to the Romans,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians, vol. 10 of NIB, Accordance electronic ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), 502.

In the popular mind and among some academics, salvation is found in having “faith” in something — but not necessarily in the resurrected Jesus. It’s the act of believing in something bigger than yourself that “saves,” they argue. Paul disagrees. You have to believe in YHWH, the God of the Jews, and not God in the abstract, but the God who raised Jesus from the dead. “Faith” under the new covenant includes faith in the resurrected Jesus or else it is not adequate — because if you don’t recognize God in Jesus, you’re not worshiping the true God. Continue reading

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Thrifty Christian Reader

thriftychristian

Reminder: I found this site on the recommendation of Matt Dabbs. Lots of bargains on Christian literature — including many popular titles. You can buy the entire 37-volume Early Church Fathers collection (the Ante-Nicene, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers) for $2.99 in the Kindle version.

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18 Church Trends (and More!): Trend 15

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 15: Preaching Will Fuse Both The Head And The Heart

I believe the most effective preachers in the future will be those who fuse the head and the heart in their preaching. …

Information alone doesn’t bring about transformation. Preaching to the head can lead to a changed mind, but not a changed life. …

Preaching only to the heart creates emotional followers, whose faith rises and falls with their feelings.
The goal, of course, is to love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength.

Preaching that reflects that goal will connect far better.

I’m no expert in preaching. The technical term is homiletics. And oddly enough, our educational programs for preachers are often very weak on homiletics. We teach plenty of Greek and lots of theology — but a motivated, bright minister ought to be able to read commentaries and books on theology for himself. It seems to me that the help he needs is how to use the pulpit to the greatest and best effect. And yet the typical Bible major may only have a three-hour course in preaching — even though the graduates are going to be hired, evaluated, paid, and retained (or not) based on how well they preach. Because it matters. Continue reading

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