Monday, December 14, 2009

Missionary mystics

"The next Sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.  But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began to contradict what was spoken by Paul, reviling him.  And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, "it was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you.  Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.  For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, "I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth." Acts 13:44-47

"And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycaonian, "The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!"  Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker...and [the priest of Zeus] wanted to offer sacrifice with the crowds.  But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out into the crowd, crying out, "Men, why are you doing these things?  We also are men, of like nature with you, we bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them" Acts 14:11-15

These two verses are a good summary of the missionary excursions of the Apostle Paul and they reflect the true nature of his call and I would argue any missionary call, namely to "bring salvation".  This is the end for which we were created, to reflect the value and worship of our Saviour to the world around us and offer that gospel to them. 

There are a couple of phrases that I want to point out, see Paul's use of the phrase "word of God", so there is a "word", logon in greek, a word, a statement, a speech that is specific of God.  I think Paul might be speaking of the Old Testament.  Why do I think this?  What OT scripture is quoted?  Isaiah 49:6, so he quotes from the OT to argue against the Jews, thereby using what is authoritative.  This reflects confidence in what God had revealed and used up to that point, and still uses, Paul did not use his words, they would've been weak but speaking, by the power of God, through the Holy Spirit, he spoke the words of God.

Going back to the beginning of the verse we see that everyone gathered to hear, "the word of the Lord."  Again there was a reason that they had come, not to hear Paul but to hear him relate the "word of God" using what was proper, the revealed word of God.

The inclusion of the quotes from Acts 14 really set the tone for why they were there.  What was their true concern in being there?  Obviously they saw the overwhelming need, when you have someone sitting there with no feet, the needs were obvious.  Paul's appeal to them was, "we bring you good news...", what is that "good news" of?  "A living God, who made the heaven and the earth..."  Where did Paul get an idea like that?  From the OT, Genesis 1.  Also, that was the end of why they did this, not just so you can be healed and walk away but so that you can know God, to glorify Him.

So here are two perfect examples of "missionary moments", if you will, that Paul shared the good news in the midst of suffering and did it within the context of the revealed word of God.

So I had an experience with a missionary in which I listened for about an hour of their hope for the people that they were ministering to.  The needs can be overwhelming and I saw how the Spirit of God had moved in their hearts and those around them to provide for needs.  I listened intently as he told me about dreams, healings, words of knowledge and supernatural power abounding.  I was listening for one more thing, the word of God, not the subjective word, mind you, but the objective, powerful, living, active word of God.  I was disappointed, I was told how many people had dreams and words of knowledge and how they even teach classes on this.  How the interns come and how they "teach" them to be intercessors, how they will have times where they will be in "prayer" for hours.  How that the word of God isn't really that relevant when it comes down to where those people are at. When he sat down next to me after the meeting and we started dialoguing, I asked him how hard it was to keep the gospel, "the gospel" in that context?  How do you not make it about the healing or dreams or words of knowledge?  I think it was instructive that he kind of stared at me and then proceeded to go back to the dreams, words of knowledge...BLAH, BLAH, BLAH! 

I've been in the middle of this movement before, third wave - charasmania, the most deceptive point of this is not the actual use of the Bible but how it is used.  My thoughts become king and the gospel becomes something I did, once.  I mean, they reason, the Bible wasn't around in Acts, how were they worshipping God?  How were they relating to God?  I need to relate to God that way, throw away everything, its all "new wine", as they love to name their churches. 

They weren't all meeting in houses around town, they were still coming to the Synagouge.  Of course that was before they got kicked out.  And why?  Because they believed what the OT said about Jesus Christ!  They weren't just jirating all over the floor or foaming at the mouth.  They believed things that were revealed by the word of God.

Lets do a "what if" for a moment, what if the apostle Paul decided to share his own words?  I doubt that we would be reading of him first of all.  What if he said, you know what, you all are right because you interpret the OT better than I do, yes, you still can be justified by the law, what am I thinking applying what I see in the OT to this given situation?  Even worse would've been, "Oh you guys are so stuck in this religious system, you need some 'new wine', listen to me I had this dream..."  Some may argue, we'll I'm just interpreting the Bible different from you.  Really?  What is your final arbitor?  Does it come back to your thoughts, what you felt?  What your word of knowledge is/was?  Do you ever question yourself, has that word of knowledge come about?  If it was wrong where does that mean that it came from?  If God, then what are you saying?  God can be wrong?  If God can be wrong than what about Jesus Christ?  See how decptive our own thoughts can be?

Lastly, third wavers make their case for their way of thinking by anachronism, thinking that they lived or want to live in the days of the believers in Acts.  Funny but these people usually like their toilets inside and their windows on their houses, like me. :)  But they don't truly want that, they want no boundries, my thoughts are most relative to the conversation, get around them and you will soon find out that the one with the best story wins.  They try to say that the rest of the Bible is just, as one person put it to me, "letters to someone", nothing more, nothing less.  They want to skip over not so distant history and look past the heresies that have re-formed themselves but yet they think are so new!  And the history of the Nicene Creed where the cannon was formed for that very reason. 

So why don't we have a Gospel of Bob, or Jill, or Laura, or Ron?  Well, we can thank our forefathers or ancestors that they saw this being of importance and through the power of the Holy Spirit made decisions that needed to be made.  Who wanted to read or cared about reading about when Jesus was 12 y/o and healed a bird as the gospel of Thomas reports.  Or who cares what my thoughts are if they don't reflect the only words worth my time and breath. The word of God has been carried along by the power of the Holy Spirit for the purpose of salvation and I, for one, am glad that he has done that through and by his Objective power and grace.

Your boasting friend,


Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Manhattan Declaration

So I signed it.

There is a huge debate within the blogosphere and there is a continuing drawing of lines that can be good and bad. Not to not fall on either side of this, I'm squarely behind those who signed.

I don't completely disagree with those who are opposed to a declaration made by a 'melting pot' of those in the evangelical community. It is very hard to come to some consencious regarding something of a theological debate but this isn't theological, it might be to those who are purporting it to be somekind of in-gathering. Regardless of those that would do that it is clearly not a theological treatise. There is nothing mentioned of Justification by faith, transubstanciation, baptism, soteriology, etc...

It is a simple, well written, declaration on what we believe about the 'core' issues in our society. I work all day, every weekday in this society and we need some parameters to put on the "PC' (political correctness) that is continually thrown in our face. Everyday I talk to gay people and they have no scruples about living in a society like ours that doesn't have biblical moorings.

Speaking to my wife about this and being able to articulate what I saw in the article that I could agree on I think that the ones who would not sign and defend their positions don't work in the everyday world.  If it is a mistake to sign then God will have to deal with me but to have something, that is not beating around the bush and isn't from a dominionist perscpective was refreshing.  I will debate Roman Catholics and Orthodox faiths on the foundational issues that we definitely disagree on, I don't go into this blinded by ecumenism or that it becomes my foundation.

To have SOMETHING that states in words that are pertinent to the world we live in.  Why I believe that it isn't a 'giving over'.

"We as Orthodox, Catholic, and Evangelical Christians, have gathered...we sign as individuals, not on behalf of our organizations, but speaking to and from our communities."

Individuals signing a document doesn't bind them together in more than that, individuals desiring to say that morally this is where we stand.  The only change that will truly come about is by a proclamation of the Gospel of Christ.  Some signing do not believe that but it doesn't define my view of the Gospel or the way that I proclaim it.  Stating where someone stands is just that, a statement.  Unfortunately those in the Reformed community aren't seeing that as something relevant to our current state.  I feel as though I'm becoming part of that, I don't understand why they haven't put anything out stating what the Gospel does say about such things.  Instead of reacting why don't we become proclaimers and show the world what the Gospel will do but especially those of us who follow and listen to them!  Paul said that he did what he did, In II Tim. 2:10, "Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect...", for the sake of the elect.  Bring out your thoughts regarding culture so that I can live in the midst of it.

Yesterday there was a known gay person in my office that I make reservations for, I have a collegue who is gay, my manager is gay.  I have marriages all around me that are in disarray, I can feel the tightening of the religious police who will come into my office and cringe becuase of my Bible or other books that are on display.  I say to those leaders who are against the Manhattan Declaration to come out with something that they can or will agree on to the point that it would compel me to sign and say, "Yes, I can go to my office with that in mind and to the glory of God do my job."  I'm not saying that that doesn't happen, it does, not by my working but by God's outworking.

To know the Gospel and love the Gospel is my goal, I would never disparage it in any way, I want to be a model of God's gracious love and power.  I have a clear conscience, that is a nice thing to say but more than that I want to bring the Gospel and how it speaks to every situation so that Christ might be exalted and treasured above all.

Your boasting friend,