In John 17, Jesus prayed that his church would be one in the same way that he and the Father are one. The same unity of purpose that exists between Jesus and God ought to exist in the church.
So why is there more competition between Christian denominations than there is in the Superbowl playoffs?
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If you asked 100 random people on the street what they thought of when they heard the word “church,” what do you think they would say? Some people would have positive thoughts about church, others negative. A lot of people would probably think of buildings with steeples, crosses, and stained glass windows.
How many people would say, “When I hear the word church, I think of me”?
Though it may sound strange, this should be the correct answer for anyone who calls Jesus Lord.
We Are His Body
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My purpose in writing this series of blog posts is twofold: First, to encourage us to be doers of the Word, not hearers only, and to take seriously what Jesus has commanded us in scripture. But secondly, I also want to encourage us to enlarge our thinking about Jesus. Since many of us are non-Trinitarian, in our zeal for monotheism we often tend to focus on who Jesus is not. But I want to focus on who Jesus is. Jesus is huge, and the scriptures have so much to say about him.
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The message of the Bible is all about Jesus Christ. He’s in every book of the Bible. Only when we center our focus on Christ do we see the spiritual meaning of biblical events. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the hinge upon which all of scripture swings. We see it foreshadowed in the bread and wine offered by the high priest Melchizedek (Genesis 14), in Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son of promise (Genesis 22), in the story of Joseph (Genesis 37-50) and Jonah (Jonah 1-4), and in Moses’ raising up of the snake in the wilderness (Numbers 21, John 3:14). When we fix our eyes on Christ, we see him on almost every page.
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In my last post, entitled Taking Jesus Seriously: Right Here and Right Now I made the point that Jesus is not merely a historical or future figure, but someone who is alive today and presently working to accomplish his purposes. I wrote that I want to know Christ and have a relationship with him. This led to the question of whether it is possible to know Jesus personally since he is no longer physically present in the world.
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One of my favorite passages of the gospels is the resurrection of Lazarus from the dead, found in John 11:1-46. Lazarus was the brother of the Mary and Martha whom Jesus visited in Luke 10. Jesus loved Lazarus dearly (John 11:5) and his sisters must have been deeply distraught when Lazarus fell seriously ill (John 11:1). They immediately went to Jesus, but surprisingly, Jesus did not go immediately to Lazarus. Rather, he remained in the place where he was for two days, and told Mary and Martha, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it” (John 11:4).
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The Lost History of Christianity: The Thousand-Year Golden Age of the Church in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, and How it Died by Philip Jenkins is a fascinating book outlining the history of Christianity outside of Europe, especially during the first thousand years. This is an extremely important perspective on Christian history that is strangely absent from most books of Christian history, which focus solely on Europe.
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A Witness Unto All Nations
Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
There are about 200 nations in the world today, and there are Christians in every one of these nations. But Jesus was not talking about today’s political entities, nor was he talking about the kingdoms of his day, most of which no longer exist.
The Greek word for nations in this verse is ethnesin, derived from ethne, which is the root of the English word “ethnic.” This word means more than simply “nations” in the political sense. It refers to ethnic and cultural groups – groups of people who share a distinct ethnicity, language, and/or culture. Anthropologists simply call these groups “people groups.”
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Lately I have been thinking about the word “whosoever.”
The Bible says “whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).
Whosoever means whoever. It means anyone. It means everybody.
Jesus died for the sins of all people… all 7,000,000,000 of them. He loves all people of the world and is working to draw all people to himself. His death on the cross tore down all racial, national, and cultural barriers. So why do I put limits on whosoever? Why do I think “whosoever… except that guy”?
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Philosopher, scientist, and Christian apologist Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) observed that “all of man’s miseries come from him not being able to sit still in a quiet room alone.”
Give a dog a bone to chew on and a warm fireplace to curl up beside, and it’ll be perfectly content. Give a cat a scratching post and a sunny windowsill, and it’ll be perfectly at peace. But give a man everything he could ever want, and he will eventually grow restless.
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