The Bible’s favourite analogy for the relationship between God and His people is marriage. We have certainly mentioned this before. God’s great plan is to call out a bride for His Son from a fallen and sinful humanity. God’s great promise throughout the Bible is that you shall be my people, and I will be your God. It is a beautiful image. I want to ask, though, what image comes to mind when we consider the Christianity we are presented with and experience?
Today, I leave to fly to Ecuador. I will arrive in Quito tomorrow night. While Quito was shaken by the recent earthquake, the damage there was minimal. The significant damage took place along the western coast of the country. On Wednesday, missionary Cody Whittaker and I will make a six-hour (more or less) drive to the city of Macas (population a little less than 15,000).
On a normal street in a town near somewhere, there is a church. I won’t describe the building in any detail because this may cause you to either disassociate yourself from it and start pointing the finger at others, or to feel like I am pointing my finger at your type of church. Let’s just say it is a church not unlike yours or mine.
We will find the ministry in the New Covenant is aiming to spread the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ everywhere, to manifest (display, make known) the treasure of Christ in His death and resurrection, to state the truth openly and without deceit (that is the aim) – but what we also will see is that this kind of ministry is going to be marked outwardly by suffering, affliction, weakness, and death, but inwardly marked by life and joy and power by Christ’s Spirit.
This week at Books at a Glance. Don’t worry if you missed anything this week, it’s all right here. Catch up on an easy Saturday. We’ve talked to Heath Lambert, author of the new book, A Theology of Biblical Counseling: The Doctrinal Foundations of Counseling Ministry. Dr. Lambert is Executive Director…
People think that a grand display of power is the way to handle what is wrong in the world. “Drop the bombs! Send in the army! Conquer and evil will be gone!” But evil remains as destructive as ever. We fail to listen to God’s word, and therefore we don’t understand the necessity of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18-25). The only hope for your life is the gospel. The only hope for the church is the gospel. The only hope for our people and the world is the gospel.
It is not uncommon to hear Christians voicing deep concern and regret about today’s world-wide church scene. The proliferation of denominations is seen as a gross indication of the failure of Christianity to maintain her unity through the ages. Critical and mournful statements galore abound. In the view of those who speak thus, the church has fragmented and splintered, and has moved away from the original intention of the Saviour. Let’s not take difference over doctrine personally. We don’t have to be aggressive in the assertion of ours, or defensive when others assert theirs. It’s God’s truth, not ‘mine’. It will stand if it is true. Whether I ‘defend’ it or not.
Among the many fruits of “Biblical Theology” in recent decades is the now common understanding of Eden as God’s earthly temple – a theme that traces through to the end of Revelation where this temple, so long removed and ruined by human sin, will in the end finally be restored in a redeemed cosmos. The metaphor is a bit mixed, for as this temple theme reaches its climax we are told that in the final state there will in fact be no (literal) temple, “for its temple is the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb” (Rev. 21:22).
In the Verse by Verse Method of Bible study you will select a passage of the Bible and examine it in great detail, asking questions of it, finding cross references to it, and paraphrasing each verse within it. The Verse by Verse Bible study concludes with your obtaining a practical, personal application for each verse in the study. This Bible study method, accompanied by resources, will allow you to do a Bible study in your own way. It is but one example of some of the most effective Bible study methods found and discussed more fully in the following book, which is unfortunately now out of print: Warren, Richard, with William A. Shell, 12 Dynamic Bible Study Methods, Victor Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1987.
Gospel ministry involves participating abundantly in Christ’s sufferings and abundantly in His comfort as well and so your suffering is not your own and your comfort is not your own. If you suffering it is intended by God to equip you to strengthen others who suffer and if you are comforted that comfort is not intended to terminate on you but to overflow from you to others who then will be able to patiently endure the sufferings shared by the community of Christ being comforted by the gospel.
I wonder if you have experienced cordiality when you needed love? Perhaps fears from job insecurity, or the hurt of broken relationship. If you dare to share something that isn’t superficial, only to receive cordiality in return, it can really hurt. Plastic niceness never feels life-giving. Hurting in a community marked by plastic cordiality can be a terribly lonely experience.