And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.”16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child.18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them.19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. -Luke 2:8-20Continue reading →
In my own denomination 75 churches each week close for good. The attrition rate among pastors is staggering. According to LifeWay research (link) it may not be 1,500 a month walking away from the ministry but on average 250 each month do. The culture we live in has changed. Just a generation or two ago a local politician, think city council or school board member, was expected to be active in a local church in order to be considered a member of the community. Church attendance is no longer looked to as a metric and being outspoken about one’s faith may be a strike against a candidate. The rights to religious expression are challenged with increasing frequency, not just in the public arena but in homes and other private property.
Much of the New Testament was written in Greek and gospel is a word that we borrowed from the original language without translating it. Gospel simply means good news. If you look at crime rates, history, human nature or simply tune into to any news program then you know that we are surrounded by bad news. In the United States we are deeply divided politically, there is gun violence, debate over gun violence, crime in the big cities and various protests across the nation over a variety of issues. Other countries are at war, operate under a military regime or are completely impoverished. People don’t seem to be getting better. Our level of science and technology has increased but after thousands of years of philosophical discussion we as the human race have not dramatically improved. Theft, rape, murder and war are still universally found around the globe much as they were in ancient times. The bad news is obvious to anyone paying attention: there is something wrong with us. Beyond politics, individual beliefs and philosophy, human nature is flawed. There may in fact be some good in every person but the bad in every person has not yet been weeded out. Continue reading →
The spiritual condition of Judas is an age-old debate and not the one I mean to engage in today. I want to add a new wrinkle to the discussion; did Judas preach the Gospel? When the Apostles were sent out with the power to heal the sick and cast out demons (Matthew 10, Luke 9) did Judas do those things as well?
John the Baptist sent his own disciples to Jesus, asking if he was the one promised or should they wait for another. Jesus responded “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them.” (Luke 7:22) Have you heard the Good News? And if so, who told you? Continue reading →
In Mark 1 (also Matthew 4) Jesus began his public ministry. Before healing the sick or calling disciples, Jesus preached his first sermon:
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:14-15, ESV)
Jesus preached the gospel. Gospel is one of those words we borrowed from Greek when translating the scriptures. It means good news. You can easily recognize Christians that share the gospel by one simple test: is what they are sharing good news? At the first opportunity, Jesus preached the Gospel. He did not preach a four part message series on having a happy marriage or managing a successful business. The Bible has a lot to say about marriage, business, raising children and so forth. But those things are not of the most importance. Where Jesus spent the balance of his time and energy was on spreading the gospel. Continue reading →