Monthly Archives: February 2014

Peter Mead

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Who, me?

 

Following Christ“For example.”  This is one of those phrases that tends to get listeners leaning in during a sermon.  People want to know “what it looks like” to apply the Bible to their lives.  Consequently we tend to offer examples to copy.  Sometimes the person is not identified, sometimes it is someone famous, other times someone known personally.  Sometimes it is even Jesus.

Having an example to copy is usually appreciated, but it is not always helpful.  There is always a danger that the form may be copied, but without the motive.  In fact, the notion of wearing a mask is troublesome in church world (not least because we can generate a culture that seems to require it!)

But having an example to copy is not all bad.

Paul told the Corinthians, “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  He told the Philippians to “join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.”  He affirmed the Thessalonians for becoming imitators of Paul and his team.  The writer to the Hebrews urges them to imitate the faith of their leaders.  John tells the church to imitate good, for whoever does good is from God, but those who do evil have not seen God.

There is definitely a place for examples in the Christian life.  In fact, it is at the very core of our calling.

Jesus, the Rabbi extraordinaire, called the most unlikely folk to follow him.  These weren’t the elite boys with stacks of scrolls and wire-rimmed glasses that had sat at the front in the synagogue school and impressed the rabbi enough to be able to ask to follow him.  When that day came, these particular boys slipped away and back to the shores to work with their Dads in the family business.  Not the worst option in life, but not the elite option.  They left behind the brightest and best to be followers of the rabbi.

To be a follower, or disciple, of a rabbi is like an apprenticeship on steroids.  It means living with, learning from, copying, becoming like, being shaped by.  It means being so connected relationally that you aren’t becoming an impersonator who takes on a fake persona, but a disciple whose values, whose beliefs, whose conduct is shaped by the one you follow.

Jesus called the most unlikely folk, and he asked them to follow him!  He still does that: what a privilege we have!  And to think that the Bible presents Jesus as the initiator.  It is not the brightest and best of us that get to ask Him.  It is Christ himself who invites us.

Imagine: to be so relationally tied to Him that our lives are shaped from the inside out.  You can’t be a disciple from a distance.  You can’t be a disciple from merely observing externals.  It takes that close relational bond to make the process work.

So Jesus commissioned his disciples to make disciples: to bring others into that close bond that would lead to life transformation.  Paul was calling the Corinthians and others to the same.  Follow me as I follow Christ.

That is where example is legitimate.  It isn’t copying behaviour as if that will shape the inside of a life.  It is being in relationship in such a way that hearts beat as one, values become owned, and life spills outward even into the area of conduct.  Inside-out transformation is at the heart of the Christian message.  Hence the importance of the Spirit who unites our spirit to His.  Hence we are to draw others not to some sort of cognitive conversion and impersonation practice, but into full discipleship with Christ Himself.

Come, follow me.  Who, me?  Wow.

~ Peter

You are invited to comment on Peter’s article at Cor Deo

 

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://christmycovenant.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Peter-Mead.png[/author_image] [author_info]Dr Peter Mead is a Bible teacher and ministry trainer, based in southern England. His main ministry is as co-director and mentor of Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training program.  Peter leads the Advanced Bible Teachers Network at the European Leadership Forum.  He holds degrees from Multnomah Biblical Seminary (MDiv/MA), and the Doctor of Ministry degree in homiletics from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where Dr Haddon Robinson was his mentor.  For more information on Cor Deo, including the weekly theological blog, please visit www.cordeo.org.uk. Peter also authors the BiblicalPreaching.net website for preachers.[/author_info] [/author] [button link=”http://www.biblicalpreaching.net” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Biblical Preaching[/button] [button link=”http://www.cordeo.org.uk/” newwindow=”yes”] Visit Cor Deo[/button]

 

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dr steve orr

1 Peter 2:6-8 Point Three

 

The Great Divide: The inescapable reality of the great divide

Peter's first letter

 

1 Peter 2:6-8 ESV

6 For it stands in Scripture:
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
7 So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,
“The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone,”
8 and
“A stone of stumbling,
and a rock of offense.”
They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

 

Review

In my previous post I said Peter isn’t saying that anyone is appointed or destined to disobedience. Rather, he is saying that those who are disobedient are appointed to stumble. Why is there a connection between being disobedient and stumbling?

Why does disobedience or unbelief lead to stumbling or punishment? Quite simply, it is because God has appointed it! God in His holiness and justice has said that that is the way that it must be. That is the awful reality for those who do not believe. God doesn’t appoint anyone to not believe. Unbelievers make that choice for themselves. But God has appointed the consequence of such unbelief: judgment, condemnation and eternal punishment.

Moving on let’s consider point 3 for this post:

  1. The wonderful reality for you who believe
  2. The awful reality for those who do not believe
  3. The inescapable reality of the great divide

 

The inescapable reality of the great divide

We live in a postmodern age in which the prevailing view is that there is no such thing as absolute truth. Instead, everyone’s take on truth is deemed to be equally valid. What one person believes is considered to be true for them and must not be questioned as long as they don’t question what anyone else believes. This prevailing way of thinking has produced the pluralistic society in which we live today. It’s a society in which all faiths, all religions and all belief systems are to not only be tolerated but are to be warmly welcomed because it is beyond question that they are valid. Of course, this very cosy state of affairs only works if everyone subscribes to it.

A big spanner is thrown in the works as soon as anyone insists that there is absolute truth because that would mean that anything that is contrary to that truth cannot be valid because it must then be untrue. In that case, the whole devious façade comes tumbling down like a pack of cards. Therefore, the one thing that is not tolerated is any claim to unique, exclusive truth because that causes division and shatters the underlying presupposition of the great postmodern illusion.

We have seen that there is a great divide between those who believe in Jesus and those who don’t believe in Him. Jesus is the great divider. That is for the very simple reason that He is the truth. You’ll remember that He said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me”. He didn’t say “I am a way, a truth, a life”. No, He is uniquely “the way, and the truth, and the life”.

Consequently, there is an exclusiveness about Him.

He went on to spell out the result of Him being “the way, and the truth, and the life” by saying that “No one comes to the Father except through me”. He’s a postmodernist’s nightmare! He said that He is unique truth and that He is exclusively the way to God. For anyone to come to God they must come through Jesus Christ and Him alone.

You see how Jesus decisively cuts through all the muddle and illusion by being the great divider. There is clear cut truth. Jesus is the truth and that inevitably leads to division between those who believe the truth and trust in Jesus and those who reject the truth and don’t trust in Jesus. He caused such division when He lived on Earth. For instance, look at John 9v16: “Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them”.

Jesus had that effect then and has continued to do so ever since.

He was acutely aware that He would have that effect. Look at his words in Luke 12v51-53: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law””.

Superficially, postmodernism and pluralism might seem to be very well intentioned. They sound to be a recipe for peace and harmony. In reality, they are a dangerous smokescreen that hide our true need and preclude God’s provision to meet that need. We don’t need a sham peace that is based on our ability to uncritically and gullibly accept anything and everything. We need peace with God and the only way to find that is through faith in Jesus as the one way that that God Himself has provided.

A German commentator called Leonhard Goppelt wrote:

“Christ is laid across the path of humanity on its course into the future. In the encounter with Him each person is changed: one for salvation, another for destruction. One cannot simply step over Jesus to go on about the daily routine and pass Him by to build a future. Whoever encounters Him is inescapably changed by the encounter. Either one sees and becomes a living stone or one stumbles as a blind person over Christ and comes to ruin”.

The all important question is: “have you come to faith in Christ?” If the answer is “no” then, at present, you are stumbling over Him and headed for ruin. But, it’s not too late. There is salvation for all who come in faith to Him.

~ Steve

 

Dr. Steve Orr

Dr Orr has served the Body of Christ in the United Kingdom for many years and in various capacities (preaching, teaching, etc.,). Steve is a regular contributor to the pages of Christ My Covenant. His insights into the Word of God will serve you in your personal study of God’s Word. Learn of Christ!

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