Signs of the Times

Screenshot 2019-08-21 at 11.25.51 AMI am not one of those guys that studies biblical prophecy while pointing to current events in the newspaper going “See, this is what God said would happen.” That can set a dangerous precedent and sometimes you end up looking foolish. I remember listening to a preacher back in the 80’s, and I remember his name but won’t use it here, that said that if Michel Gorbachev was not the antichrist then he was certainly paving the way for him. He had a poster made up of the birthmark on his head in the form of a dragon and the smaller marks in the shape of three 6’s. This was before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Gorbachev later taught an economics course for the University of Georgia and made a tv commercial for Pizza Hut. He is still alive but at 88 has yet to reveal himself as the antichrist, the Beast or any other figure in Revelation. Continue reading

The Shepherds as a Model of Evangelism

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 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 2:8-20 Continue reading

Why Preach the Gospel?

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.

So why preach the Gospel? Continue reading

The Gospel is Good News

Part 1 of Why Preach the Gospel?


 

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

Did Judas Preach the Gospel?

Judas returns 30 pieces of silverThe 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?

 

Advent Joy

advent candlesAnd in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  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.  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.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

   “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

The angel brought good news of great joy. Good news is the Gospel, but today let’s focus on joy. Miriam-Webster.com defines joy three ways:

Continue reading

Have You Heard the Good News?

Screenshot 2013-06-09 at 1.26.46 PMJohn 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

Jesus Preached the Gospel, and Then Some

jesus_teachingIn 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

Imagine/ Reimagine

imagineJohn Lennon’s Imagine is a beautiful song.  It has more than a meaningless catchy hook; the music, the molody, the lyrics are beautifully composed.  It’s one of those songs that has stood the test of time and continues to move audiences today.  (Here’s a link if you must.)

I mentioned it is not meaningless, right?  The song is beautiful to listen to but it’s the substance that should offend Christian sensibilities.  If an angry atheist were shouting on the street corner that there is no God, we would certainly notice.  Perhaps argue with him.  But Imagine shares the same message – that without religion the world would be a better place – in a much more palatable form.  I enjoy hearing the song even though I disagree with it’s philosophy.  Many have probably heard it without listening to it.  “Imagine there’s no heaven.”  I’d rather not.

I submit for your approval Reimagine.

Blogger Flagrant Regard (his first name is Martin, but that’s all I know) has taken what we like about Imagine but asks the listener to do the opposite.  Realize there is a heaven to gain, a hell to shun, and that Calvary makes all the difference.  Hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ and realize that he is not the problem but the solution.  The Gospel is Good News; it is the cure and not the disease.

Please read the backstory in the author’s own words.  Props to our friend Paul for sharing.

The Gospel of the Old Testament

Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are the Gospels in that they tell the story of the life of Jesus.  Jesus preaches in Mark 1 “repent and believe in the gospel.”  More than those four books, gospel means good news.  Jesus died for our sins; he is the way, the truth and the life; he brings the New Covenant, and we are no longer under the Law; all things things are part of the gospel message.  Paul says the Law is bad news; it cannot make us righteous, only more guilty.  But there is more to the Old Testament than the Law, and it’s not all bad news.

The Bible has many stories and characters, but only one message.  (Have you read this?)  The Old Covenant was about keeping the Law and bearing the mark of circumcision.  Paul has many analogies about the difference between the Law and the Gospel; the Gospel brings life, the Law only brings death.  But my point is that there is plenty of good news in the Old Testament as well.  It is part of God’s message. Continue reading