DiM | “What If” by Prince (?)

disapproveNo, Prince isn’t a Christian artist. I don’t follow him. I also don’t read/follow Christianity Today. My personal Facebook News feed has news stories from theBlaze, which is how I came across this “news”. It seems Prince has released a cover of this song originally by Nicole Nordeman. Christianity Today was all over it in their article, “Prince releases cover of Christian song ‘What If’“. If you’d like to take the time to read the article now, that’s fine, we’ll discuss it after we lay some groundwork looking at the song by Nicole Nordeman first and then dealing with some of the comments in the article.

(Unofficial) Nicole Nordeman Lyric Video

[youtube https://youtu.be/rUhnoralqVA]

Prince version Lyrics (via Genius)

What If?

Prince Ft: 3rdeyegirl & Hannah Welton

[Verse 1: Prince]
What if you’re right?
And He was just another
Another nice guy
What if you’re right
What if it’s true
They say the truth
Will only make a fool of you
And what if that’s true?

What if He takes His place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends, what then

[Chorus]
But what if you’re wrong
What if there’s more
What if there’s hope
You never dreamed of hoping for
What if you jump?
Just close your eyes
What if the arms that catch you
Catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

[Verse 2: Hannah Welton]
What if you dig
Way down deeper
Than your
Simple-minded friends
What if you dig
And what if you find
A thousand more
Unanswered questions down inside
That’s all you find

What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Than folklore that must be told and retold

[Chorus]

[Bridge]
Cause you’ve been running
As fast as you can
And you’ve been looking
For a place you can land
For so long but what if you’re wrong

What if you jump?
Just close your eyes
What if the arms that catch you
Catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?
What if it’s love?

Discussion of Song

What if. The entire song is a “what if”. How is that in any way an Evangelical song? This song doesn’t make any Truth claims. No declaration of the Truth of God’s Word. No declaration of Jesus Christ or Him crucified for our sin, no call to repentance and no promise of forgiveness. Nothing but a “what if you’re wrong”?  This song would fail a DiM review, but it hasn’t really been on the radio or any top-20 chart recently, so it really wouldn’t come up anyway. What I find troubling is how this “news” is being covered in the self-proclaimed Christian magazine.

Discussion of News

From the Christianity Today article, Prince releases cover of Christian song ‘What If’:

Nordeman expressed her excitement about the cover on social media. “I don’t really have the appropriate words for what an honor this is,” she said on Facebook. “If you are a musician on any level, you will immediately absorb the weight of it. This man’s talent is otherworldly. What’s the non-musical equivalent? Tiger Woods asking to borrow your clubs? Neil Armstrong calling and asking if you’d like to take a walk?”

I won’t fault a musician for feeling honored and excited that a world-renown musician is making headlines by choosing to cover his/her song. I don’t fault the emotion of excitement. But how you speak about these events (and your emotions), and how you write about it in social media is important. We have a problem with this praise of Prince’s musical talent. Is it a gift from God, freely given? Yes, as are all of God’s gifts to mankind. Has Prince honored God with his talent? A review of his work throughout his career suggests “no”.

She added that she had been most impacted by the fact that Prince had heard it on a Christian radio station, and used it as an opportunity to encourage those working in Christian broadcasting.

“Far too often Christian radio is accused of existing solely to preach to the choir. Solely for the minivan driving mother of three who wants a safe listening choice for her family. But Prince heard a song about the transforming love of Jesus on Christian radio and now has given it a much wider audience than I ever did or could.”

This portion of the article is poorly written, particularly in the progression of pronouns. The Blaze makes it clear that it was Nicole who was using this news about Prince as an opportunity to encourage Christian broadcasters (see below). My question here is, “are we talking about the same song”? Can that song that never leaves the “what if?” into the “what is!” truly be about the transforming love of Jesus? Perhaps she is talking about her intent behind the song.

Prince became a Jehovah’s Witness in 2001 and has talked – and sung – about his faith for a number of years.

.:sigh:. I’d expect this type of citation from a secular magazine or even theBlaze, but in something labeled “Christianity Today” one should expect a clear distinction between Christianity and cults like Jehovah’s Witness. I am deeply grieved by this article’s praise of Prince (an unbeliever) simply because he chose to cover a “Christian” song.

From theBlaze:

“To my friends in Christian radio, let me take this opportunity to remind you that what you do matters,” she said. “Your morning shows matter. Your afternoon drives matter. Your listener appreciation pledge drives matter.”

Nordeman added that she believes too many people accuse Christian radio of preaching to the choir, but that Prince’s discovery of her song shows that there’s another perspective worth considering.

“Prince heard a song about the transforming love of Jesus on Christian radio and now has given it a much wider audience than I ever did or could,” she wrote. Thank you, radio friends, for what you do. The world is listening.”

To that last point, I agree. The world is listening, and we need to be proclaiming the Truth of God’s Word, not merely settling for “what if” songs or “spiritual positivity” loosely connected to Christian themes. The choir needs biblical preaching, just as much as the World does. The difference (by God’s Grace) is that the choir has faith, while the world remains condemned in their unbelief.

The last thing we need is to give ascent to the notion that our youth should take note of Prince and his version of spirituality. This is sloppy treatment of evangelism, journalism, and discernment by the folks at Christianity Today.

Jude 1:24-25(ESV)

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

DiM | Are we Proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel?

trebleclefToday we are going to try a different approach to “Discernment in Music” (DiM) day here at Faithful Stewardship (2 Corinthians 10:4-6 (ESV)). On Tuesdays, we look at what is currently popular on Christian Radio top 20 charts. Thursdays are going to be music focused, but the topics will vary. Last week we looked at a theologically rich rap song by Jovan Mackenzy.

This week, I thought we’d take a moment to ask the Christian Contemporary Music Industry one vital question…

Are we proclaiming the Truth of the Gospel to the World, to the Church, and to our Children?

Please take a moment to think about the question, and when you feel a desire to answer, ponder the point further. If our DiM Tuesdays are any indicator, I think we’d be hard pressed to defend the claim that we are doing a good job. We put out a lot of vague, seeker-sensitive, feel-good music, but we don’t provide a lot of answers. Which is a shame, considering we have the very Words of God.

Stay With Me by Sam Smith

Today I want to take a hard look at a popular secular song. I intentionally avoided the crass and obnoxious songs, but this one might get stuck in your head, so I apologize in advance. The artist is fairly new, and a rising star, and he’s hurting. You’ll see it in this song and in the interview later. That this song is popular indicates that the world is also hurting and can relate. The video and the song are intentionally vague on the sexuality, but the sex is assumed… it’s the love that is longed for and elusive. The song is a question and a confession to the world “I don’t know what love is, and what we are doing clearly isn’t love… but would you help me survive the moment anyway?”

VEVO Music Video

[youtube http://youtu.be/pB-5XG-DbAA]

Song Lyrics included in VEVO Music Video

Sam Smith – Stay With Me Lyrics

Guess it’s true, I’m not good
At a one night stand
But I still need love, Cos I’m just a man
These nights never seem to go to plan
I don’t want you to leave
Will you hold my hand

Oh won’t you,Stay with me
Cos you’re, All I need
This ain’t love, It’s clear to see
But darling, Stay with me

Why am I so emotional?
No it’s not a good look
Gain some self-control
Deep down I know this never works
But you can lay with me
So it doesn’t hurt

Oh won’t you, Stay with me
Cos you’re, All I need
This aint love, It’s clear to see
But darling, Stay with me

Oh won’t you, Stay with me
Cos you’re, All I need
This aint love, It’s clear to see
But darling, Stay with me

Music video by Sam Smith performing Stay With Me. (C) 2014 Capitol Records Ltd.

VEVO Sam Smith Interview Regarding Album Inspiration

[youtube http://youtu.be/FFqeqzPwZGw]

The world is hurting

Februrary 26, 2015. This song is can be found at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. This song has been on the Hot 100 chart for 24 weeks, with its peak being at #5. My heart breaks for this artist. He’s lost, hurting, and lonely. He knows he’s missing something, and also recognizes that the love offered by the world isn’t really love. Still, he is longing for comfort that seems to ever elude him. The interview video is even more sad. For now, he’s convinced himself that he loves his solitude… such rationalization is so fleeting… and, if we’re honest, so very easy for us to understand.

Matthew 9:35-38 (ESV) | The Harvest Is Plentiful, the Laborers Few

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Are We Proclaiming Truth or Echoing the Hurt?

There’s no arguing that Contemporary Christian Music emulates the styling and fads of Secular music. Many of our popular songs are just as vague as theirs. Even those songs we review favorably here at FaithfulStewardship come up short in that they do not preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins. Are we getting so engrossed in secularism that we are conforming to the world’s post-modern philosophy, angst, and doubt in our lyrics? Are we finding clever ways of asking the same questions as the world and forgetting to provide the answers that Only God’s Word can provide?

Romans 12:1-3 (ESV) | A Living Sacrifice

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment,each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.

There is only one way to discern what is the Will of God. There is only one source of Truth in this world, and that is the Written Word of God. Our music, our art, and our writing should proclaim the Truth of God’s Word as the only answer to all of the questions the world is desperately asking. Most will reject us and the Truth, because they’ve rejected their Creator. Let that be between them and God the Holy Spirit. Don’t obfuscate it further by muddying up the Gospel.

Romans 10:8-17 (ESV)

But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says,“ Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Faith doesn’t come from a pep talk, from empathy, or from outward emulation of the world. Faith doesn’t come from a complementary cup of coffee, or from an exciting concert performance, or even from having your meal bought for you. Those are all nice things to do for others and are expressions of love, but they are not what grants a lost person Faith. They need to hear the Word of God, they need to hear the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The world needs the answers, and Christ is the Only answer. Which brings us to another point… you cannot skip the preaching of the Law. A person who fails to recognize their sin will not rightly understand their need for a Savior. What is it we are to confess? That we are sinners in need of a Savior. The Greek word translated “confess” here is not merely giving lip service; rather, it is to agree with God’s Word about our sin or to concede our guilt before a Holy God (I am not a Greek scholar, I owe that understanding to Pastor Jonathan Fisk of Worldview Everlasting). How can the lost agree with God and confess their sin if they are never preached both Law and Gospel?

Conclusion

The Seeker-sensitive, Mega-church model has had a huge impact on evangelicalism. This church model pushes the idea of “churching the unchurched” and evolving the way we do church so that the world will feel more welcome at our services. Is that evangelism or is it conformity. Even if you buy into the notion of bait-and-switch evangelism (come hang out with cool people and great music… and then BAM! hit ’em with Law and Gospel), if Law and Gospel are never preached, there isn’t a switch… only bait without a hook. The lost don’t need a place to assemble, they need to hear God’s Word preached faithfully so that the Holy Spirit can convict them of sin unto repentance so that they might be granted faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let us commit to proclaiming the Truth of God’s word as the objective and definitive answer to a world that is lost in a post-modern world of relativism and doubt. Where necessary, emulate their musical styling, but do not compromise the Truth of God’s Word. We do have the answers. While we are at it, let’s not neglect the preaching of the Gospel to the Saints as well. We are all sinners in need of a Christ’s Forgiveness. We need the reminder to confess and repent daily.

In Christ Jesus,
Jorge

The Parable of the Sower

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve been wrestling a great deal with several schools of doctrine/theology (all within the framework of Biblical Christianity). I’ve stated before that I consider myself a recovering Pentecostal. I am not recovering from Pentecostalism just to follow some other doctrine of man, or some other proof-text backed orthodoxy. My aim is that of the 5 Solas of the Reformation: Sola Scriptura, Sola gratia, Sola fide, Solus Christus, and Soli Deo Gloria (Scripture alone, grace alone, faith alone, in Christ alone, to the Glory of God alone). From time to time, I will speak out against various doctrines and teachings here, but this blog’s purpose is to focus on what the Word of God does say (Sola Scriptura) rather than to chase down every doctrine of man trying to demonstrate what the Bible doesn’t say.

Today, I’d like to take a look at the Parable of the Sower and the Parable of the Weeds. We will be focusing primarily in Matthew 13, but I will also include Mark 4.

To set the stage a little, in Matthew 12 we see Jesus flat-out establishing Himself as the Lord of the Sabbath as He first defends His disciple’s act of picking grain and eating it on the Sabbath. He then pushes further by healing on the Sabbath, and rebuking the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and rejection of God’s Laws for their own. He then casts out demons in front of the scribes and Pharisees and they accuse Him of casting them out by the power of Satan. After willfully rejecting Jesus, to include the signs and wonders performed by Him thereby blaspheming the Holy Spirit, they dare to demand a sign from Jesus. It is this portion that I’d like to read through to set up our study:

Matthew 12:36-45 (ESV)

36 I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 38 Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, “Teacher, we wish to see a sign from you.” 39 But he answered them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 40 For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. 41 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. 42 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. 44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. 45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

Something greater than Jonah and Solomon was there, in their midst, speaking to them face to face. Today we have His Word, and God the Holy Spirit who testifies of God the Son who is at the right hand of God the Father. Let’s skip ahead slightly to Matthew 13 (and Mark 4).

Matthew 13:1-9 (ESV)

1 That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. 2 And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat down. And the whole crowd stood on the beach. 3 And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. 5 Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, 6 but when the sun rose they were scorched. And since they had no root, they withered away. 7 Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. 8 Other seeds fell on good soil and produced grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. 9 He who has ears, let him hear.

Mark 4:1-9 (ESV)

1 Again he began to teach beside the sea. And a very large crowd gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat in it on the sea, and the whole crowd was beside the sea on the land. 2 And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them: 3 “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured it. 5 Other seed fell on rocky ground, where it did not have much soil, and immediately it sprang up, since it had no depth of soil. 6 And when the sun rose, it was scorched, and since it had no root, it withered away. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. 8 And other seeds fell into good soil and produced grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.” 9 And he said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

In both accounts, the disciples ask Jesus why He speaks in parables. We are going to skip this discussion for now, but know that we will revisit this portion (CTT: Why did Jesus Teach in Parables). Suffice it to say that unless Jesus explained the meaning of this parable, we’d all be lost. Praise and thanks be to God for providing us with its meaning in scripture.

Matthew 13:18-23 (ESV)

18 “Hear then the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. 20 As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. 22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Mark 4:13-20 (ESV)

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. 16 And these are the ones sown on rocky ground: the ones who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy. 17 And they have no root in themselves, but endure for a while; then, when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 And others are the ones sown among thorns. They are those who hear the word, 19 but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. 20 But those that were sown on the good soil are the ones who hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirtyfold and sixtyfold and a hundredfold.”

This parable pertains to the individual’s response to the Word of the Kingdom, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Word of God, the imperishable seed.

1 Peter 1:22-25 (ESV)

22 Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 24 for

“All flesh is like grass

and all its glory like the flower of grass.

The grass withers,

and the flower falls,

25 but the word of the Lord remains forever.”

And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

The Gospel is the beautiful and perfect Word of God. It is the Gospel to which we are to hold fast and to preach, being good stewards of God’s Word. When we preach, we should make sure that what we preach is the Word of God, the imperishable seed (Sola Scriptura). It does no good to mix in the commandments/doctrines of men, for only the Word of God brings life. The words of men, well… they don’t come from us alone, but they come from the evil one. For the flesh is cursed by sin and death, and the heart of man is sinful as a result. Paul articulates this well in Galatians 6:

Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV)

7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

Now then, Jesus goes on in Matthew 13 to share another parable. This one pertains to the Kingdom as a whole rather than to individuals. Let us read.

Matthew 13:24-30 (ESV)

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

Matthew 13:36-43 (ESV)

36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.” 37 He answered, “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, 42 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

In this parable, the good seed represents the sons of the kingdom, believers, Christians. Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior has sent us into the world. The evil one also has his own seed, those who are slaves of darkness, born dead in their sins and trespasses. The harvest is the end of the age, when Jesus Christ returns with His army of angels (the heavenly hosts) to bring judgement upon the unrighteous and blessing to the sons of the Kingdom of God. To highlight the point regarding the harvest at the end of the age, Jesus breaks from the farming analogy and moves to that of the fisherman (He was, after all, teaching by the sea).

Matthew 13:47-50 (ESV)

47 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. 48 When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. 49 So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous 50 and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It is amazing to me to read each of the epistles in the New Testament, how each one bears a reminder of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in each reminder we see a reflection of what these men were taught by Jesus Christ. Yes, Jesus spoke in parables and rebuked the Pharisees for their lack of understanding. But God the Holy Spirit opened up the Truth of the Scriptures to His Apostles and granted them boldness to preach what Jesus had done in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, and to the ends of the Earth. And so, brothers and sisters, it falls to us to continue in Him, in His Word, preaching and pursuing His righteousness by His Grace through Faith in Christ to the Glory of God alone!

I hope you have found some encouragement in today’s look in the Word. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to comment below or message me privately. In closing today’s post, I’d like to visit Peter’s opening declaration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 1:1-9 (ESV)

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood:

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

In Him,

Jorge

Social Gospel? You keep using that word…

GospelIf I may be a bit blunt… I’m tired of reading/hearing about the so-called “social gospel”. There is no “social gospel”. There is only the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Let’s begin by reminding ourselves of what “Gospel” means and where the term comes from:

From Bible.org:
The term gospel is found ninety-nine times in the NASB and ninety-two times in the NET Bible. In the Greek New Testament, gospel is the translation of the Greek noun euangelion (occurring 76 times) “good news,” and the verb euangelizo„ (occurring 54 times), meaning “to bring or announce good news.” Both words are derived from the noun angelos, “messenger.” In classical Greek, an euangelos was one who brought a message of victory or other political or personal news that caused joy. In addition, euangelizomai (the middle voice form of the verb) meant “to speak as a messenger of gladness, to proclaim good news.”Further, the noun euangelion became a technical term for the message of victory, though it was also used for a political or private message that brought joy.

So what is this “Social Gospel” people keep talking about? Does the Bible speak some good news about society or the world being made better by the Church? That we don’t need to preach on sin or repentance; rather, we should just “live out the Christian” life and the world will simply bow its knee under the superior living of the Church? Is that the good news? That Christians will “change the world”? Not even remotely. I believe the roots of this “social gospel” thing to be decided anti-christian, because it de-emphasizes the preaching of Law and Gospel and instead burdens people with law-only living and universalism (allowing others to remain in their false theology as long as they live outwardly godly lives). But is it even remotely Biblical?

The first point I’d like to address is this whole “befriend the world to earn the right to share the Gospel” nonsense. I’d like to jump straight to the book of James, since it is fresh in my mind after our last CTT post. I’m going to be hopping a little bit through James, but I want to remind the reader that the Book of James begins by addressing the purpose of trials and tribulation (debunking “prosperity doctrine”) and then to address strongly those who profess empty faith while living worldly lives. We see him state this quite plainly in the first chapter:

James 1:19-27 (ESV) 19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. 21 Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing. 26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Notice here that there is to be a separation from the world, such that we are to be kept unstained from the world. James returns to this point again in chapter 4:

James 4:4-5 (ESV) 4 You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. 5 Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”?

A major problem with the theology of a “social gospel” is the idea that the world can be “made a better place” by works apart from the Word of God. Jesus, God the Son, didn’t come to fix governments, end wars, make peace, repair the environment and eradicate hunger. The clearest passage of scripture that refutes this “social gospel” can be found in Matthew 10:

Matthew 10:16-42 (ESV) 16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. 19 When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. 20 For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, 22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.

24 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. 25 It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.

26 “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. 30 But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. 32 So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, 33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

40 “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. 41 The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. 42 And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”

That’s rough… direct… and plainly spoken/written. Combine what Jesus told the disciples what they were being sent out for with what He said about the time of His return (Matthew 24), is there really any reason to accept a “social gospel” that suggests that the church will somehow make the world a better place before Christ’s return simply by “living out the Gospel”? Absolutely not. In fact, persecution is coming as a direct result of the world’s hatred of Jesus. We will be forced to either acknowledge Him or deny Him, before the world in their synagogues and before the Gentiles (interesting delineation there, don’t you think?).

How did Paul minister to the Gentiles? Would the Apostle Paul buy into the “social gospel” concept? Let’s look at his first trip to Athens.

Acts 17:16-34 (ESV) 16 Now while Paul was waiting for them[Silas and Timothy] at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there. 18 Some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers also conversed with him. And some said, “What does this babbler wish to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a preacher of foreign divinities”—because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection. 19 And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting?20 For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean.” 21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.
Paul Addresses the Areopagus

22 So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;

as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’

29 Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.

Does it seem like Paul was interested in “earning” the right to preach the Gospel to these polytheists? Did he dance around their faith, or their religion, or their doctrine? No. He preached the Gospel both in the synagogue and in the market place, with whomever happened to be there. With their philosophers. And when brought to the Areopagus, he preached the direct and plain Gospel declaring their idols to be false and preached repentance from their ignorance for the coming judgement. I think it is safe to say that the Apostle Paul would take issue with the “social gospel”.

Galatians 1:6-10 (ESV) 6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. 10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Perhaps the most telling sign that the seeker-sensitive, purpose-driven, social-gospel, emergent relevancy is leading men and women astray is recent news of major denominations giving lip service to unity despite doctrine and the willingness of some churches to redefine sexual immorality in order to maintain friendship with the world. Doctrine matters… it is not a side-issue of what color carpet you think should be in a church.

2 Corinthians 11:1-15 (ESV) 11 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! 2 For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. 3 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. 5 Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. 6 Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.

7 Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached God’s gospel to you free of charge? 8 I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. 9 And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied my need. So I refrained and will refrain from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. 11 And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission they work on the same terms as we do. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

Does it sound like the Apostle Paul would accept a CEO like lifestyle for preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It doesn’t to me. Did he encourage Timothy or Titus to “live their best life now”?

2 Timothy 3 (ESV) 1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6 For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7 always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9 But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. 10 You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, 11 my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, 13 while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Nope… not to Timothy.

Titus 2 (ESV) 1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. 11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

This one definitely reads better, but Titus is told specifically to preach. There is still renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions, and exhortation and rebuke with all authority. Contrary to popular evangelical myth, Jesus didn’t “hang out with sinners” he ate with them, healed them, called them to repentance, and forgave them. That’s not really “hanging out with” them. That is the work of the ministry, repentance and forgiveness. He had mercy on us, and gave His life as payment for our sin, not that we go on sinning, and let the world continue in its sin without offending them with the spoken Gospel, but that we might proclaim the Gospel of Grace to those who were born dead in their sins and trespasses.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that He came to pay the ultimate price of sin on our behalf, so that we will be spared on the final day, when Christ comes to Judge both the Living and the Dead. That is the good news. That through His atoning sacrifice, by His shed blood on the cross and His subsequent resurrection, we have been brought out of darkness and into the Kingdom of Heaven. That when this Earth is finally judged, and the present heaven and earth are destroyed and a God creates a New Heaven and a New Earth… we will be with Him, adopted in Christ as heirs and joint heirs to the Kingdom of God. There is no other “Gospel”.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (ESV) 13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Amen. May the Lord Bless you and keep you,
In Him,
Jorge

Peter’s first sermon

day-of-pentecost-acts-2-38

I tried to find the original of this image for proper citation, if you know the artist or title of this work please inform me.

I’ve made references to Peter’s first sermon a few times in prior posts, and today I thought it would be awesome to take a look at this first sermon preached by Peter. Our text will be Acts 2. If you’ve been following our bible studies here, you should remember that Acts 2 begins with the promise of God the Holy Spirit being poured out on the day of Pentecost. The Day of Pentecost is not a “new testament” thing, it is in-fact a Jewish celebration of the Feast of Weeks (Leviticus 23:15-22). Pentecost is the Greek word (the fiftieth day) referring to this Hebrew Festival. This festival is particularly important, because it was listed as one of the 3 festivals that all Jewish men were required to appear before the Lord God of Israel (Exodus 34:22-23), which by the time Jesus arrived on the earth, the Lord God had already declared His presence to be made at the Temple in Jerusalem. Therefore, all Jewish men had to make pilgrimage to Jerusalem 3 times a year, one of these times is for the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost (in Greek). Jews from around the world were in Jerusalem to appear before the Lord God of Israel for Pentecost. It is on this day, that the Promise of God the Holy Spirit as spoken by Jesus Christ, was delivered. The first Gift of God the Holy Spirit manifested is the gift of different tongues/languages so that the men from all over the world would hear the Glory of God proclaimed in their native tongues, not just in Galilean Aramaic. So, Peter’s first sermon was not to Gentiles, it was to Jews. Devout, learned Jews who were observing the Feast of Weeks in keeping with the Law of Moses. These were not strangers to the Law or of the Prophets, they were familiar with the Holy Scriptures. However, in their knowledge, the did not recognize Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ, the Messiah. So, Peter’s first audience was a tough one. Thank God for His Holy Spirit. Now that we’ve set the stage, let us take a look at his sermon:

Acts 2:14-41 (ESV)

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;
20 the sun shall be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood,
before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.
21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

I just wanted to take a moment to highlight that Peter is quoting from Joel 2:28-32. This prophecy starts in Joel 1:1 and runs throughout the book of Joel. It is all one prophecy. Peter is quoting the portion that rests between the Lord taking pity on His people, and sitting in Judgment over the nations. These are the last days in which we find ourselves, for the Lord had taken pity upon His creation and gave to us the ultimate sacrifice for the remission of sin, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gift of God. We also await the day of His Glorious return, when He will redeem all who have called upon the Name of the Lord and He will sit in Judgment over creation. Why did Peter go to Joel first? Well, clearly the God the Holy Spirit was giving Peter the words to speak in that very hour (as Jesus told the disciples would happen), but notice the entrance into this sermon comes as a response to the accusations against the manifestation of the Gift of the Holy Spirit as mere drunkenness.  The first visit to Scripture is a clear statement of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as foretold by Joel (who prophesied by the Spirit of God). Peter was also clearly marking the present age, the need for repentance and acceptance of the gift of God and the need to do so before the coming judgement. The book of Joel is not long, and I encourage you to take some time to read through it. However, let us continue for now in Peter’s sermon.

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,
for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;
26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;
my flesh also will dwell in hope.
27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,
or let your Holy One see corruption.
28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. 34 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
35 until I make your enemies your footstool.”’

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

Amen. Peter points out that the Jews were guilty of putting Jesus to death, by the hands of lawless men (Romans). Once Peter explained in Scriptures that the Jews were witness to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he then moved to identifying Jesus as the Christ. When he quotes from the Psalms of David, he first goes to Psalm 16. I have to be honest, had I read this Psalm without knowing Peter’s interpretation of the Psalm, I wouldn’t have read it as a prophetic Psalm about Jesus. However, Peter makes it clear that since David’s body did see corruption (his body rotted in the grave), it wasn’t about himself that he was speaking; rather, David was referring to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So awesome. The new testament provides us with clear insight into how we should read the old testament to see Jesus (not ourselves, because the bible is not about us).

The next Psalm Peter visits is Psalms 110. Here, however, Peter quotes the introduction to the Psalm. Read the rest of the Psalm, because David is again prophesying of Jesus but he is doing so regarding the Day of Judgement, the Day of Christ’s Return. So, again, we have Peter explaining from scriptures that we find ourselves in the last days, between the salvation of the Lord and His Judgement. Notice, in verse 37, that all who heard these words understood the gravity of what was being taught and their guilt was before them, something they dare not proceed into judgement with, “Brothers, what shall we do?” Peter’s response is great direct and powerful. He also returns to the initial point of the sermon, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They don’t have to wait, because they (as are we all) are in the last days when the Spirit of God is poured out.

Peter preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Scriptures, clearly identifies their sin and need of a Savior (these being folks who follow the Law and the Prophets, not a Godless group of people, but one still perishing nonetheless for they have not yet believed in Jesus as the Christ) and then offers them the Way of escape. He also is quick to relay the promise of God the Holy Spirit. The disciples had just received the very gift that Jesus instructed them to wait for and they knew immediately that this Gift was promised to all who believe and are baptized in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

That same Holy Spirit that gave Peter the words to speak, lives within each of us who call upon the Name of the Lord and have our names written in the Lamb’s book of life. We may not move as powerfully in the Holy Spirit, but I think that is due to a lack of knowledge of the Scriptures, and poor discipleship. Peter walked with the Son of God for years. That’s powerful discipleship. We have a great deal of it, but we don’t have all of what Jesus did (John 21:25), so we don’t have the fullness by which the 12 Apostles were taught. Remember in John 14:26 that the Holy Spirit is promised to both teach and remind them of all that Jesus had said to them. That is critical for us to have the New Testament written, but also as a promise to us that He will remind us of His Word that we have buried in our hearts (Psalms 119:9-16).

Brothers and sisters, please become life-long students of the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit, always, AND edify your mind by drinking in the written Word of God.  If you look around the web, you’ll see that gallop estimates that 40% of Americans attend church daily. However, a Hartford Institute of Religion study indicates that only half of those are telling the truth. But that is only the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. If 20% attend church weekly, how much of each service is actually devoted to studying and exegeting properly the Word of God? If the typical Sunday morning service runs from 10:30am to Noon, with the first 45 minutes of a concert, 10 minutes of announcements, intro videos, skits, collecting of tithe/offerings, that leaves roughly 30 minutes for a sermon. Now, what if the sermon is geared more toward sloganeering of a self-help book, or casting the vision of the pastor rather than teaching the text of the Bible? It can become all to easy to lose sight of the Word of God even while conducting the business of church. I pray your church experience is nothing like what I’ve detailed above. Still, even if that 1.5 hrs of Sunday Morning church were devoted to biblical study, it wouldn’t be enough. That is why I am so eager to share what I am studying throughout the week, and am so excited that you are reading here today. Even if you disagree with everything I write, at least you are reading the Word of God that is copy-and-pasted into these posts and hopefully following the external links to bible references. 😉

In closing, I’d like to echo Paul’s benediction from 2 Thessalonians 3:16 (ESV) “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.”

In Him,
Jorge