Paul and the Law

Paul and the Law

Paul warned about legalism and false teachings in most of his epistles. Paul was concerned for his flock. He knew that they had heard the Gospel, sometimes even from his own mouth. Christianity or being a follower of Jesus Christ was a new concept. While the Good News of the Gospel about Jesus Christ was strong and alive, still there were many who were resistant and confused. The common Hebrew religion, known as Judaism, was also still a very strong movement. Christianity builds on Judaism, because Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Jesus Christ completes Judaism.
Not everyone accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Not everyone was on board to embrace the Gospel of grace through Jesus Christ’s blood. And even those who understood, accepted, and believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior sometimes misunderstood the full Gospel message. It was a new, complex concept. The long standing traditions and Laws of Judaism were still fresh and well understood. But the full Gospel that Paul preached included “Christ is the end of the Law.”2
Commonly, converts to “Jesus” in the First Century were confused. They wanted to obey the Laws and still have Jesus. Paul constantly had to clarify exactly where the Laws fit into this movement. If Jesus Christ died for man’s sin and offers “saving faith,” what then should man do? What Laws must men obey? Where do the Laws fit into the Paul’s Gospel?

Paul’s Gospel

Paul’s Gospel

Paul’s Gospel consists of many things. In short, all men are unrighteous before God. Therefore, it is impossible for justification through works. Jesus Christ is the propitiation and reconciliation for man’s sin and unrighteousness. Christ’s work was a gift to man. For only by Christ’s bloodshed, death on the cross and resurrection can man be declared righteous. Man accepts this free gift through belief or saving faith. All who believe are saved, justified and declared righteous. Not only is Christ’s blood saving, but it is also redeeming. Man was under the power of sin and Satan himself. But Christ met with Satan himself in death and bought back souls with His blood. Once saved, Paul taught that men are united in Christ. His identify is in Him. Also the saint has remission of all of his sins.1 This is a summarization of Paul’s theology and the message of the Gospel found in his letters.

Paul’s Gospel

Righteousness- equity, justice, fairness, moral correct, right doing, good, worthy, virtue, decency, honest, innocent, holy, the perfectness and pureness of Jesus Christ.

Faith-ability to believe in Christ’s death, as the ground of justification before God, saving faith.

Redemption- to let go free for a ransom. Sin is presented as slavery and sinners as slaves. Deliverance from sin is freedom.

Justification- acquittal for Christ’s sake, to be justified/ excused of sin because of Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.

The “Romans road” can be used to explain the Gospel. It is similar to how Paul explains the Gospel in the first 5 chapters of Romans. Let’s take a look at these verses and also so verses beyond the first 5 chapters in Romans. First Paul starts with the problem of the sin nature.” Rom 3:10 as it is written, “THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE.” Humans are trapped in a hopeless predicament because of sin nature. By the sin nature, men are not righteous. Rom 3:23 says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
Paul’s solution to the sin nature in the Gospel message is faith in Jesus Christ. Rom 10:9, 10 says “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” This is faith, saving faith. We believe that as Jesus Christ was raised from the dead so we were raised with Jesus.
Jesus’ death and resurrection according to Paul’s Gospel is justification for our sin and sin nature. Christ in his righteousness (perfection) sacrificed for fallen man. Through Christ we are justified. As Rom 6:23 says “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because of our sin we are doomed to die. But through Christ we live. The only way this is possible is through redemption. Jesus justified us, acquitted us because he redeemed us through His death and blood on the cross. As Rom 5:8 says “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” God allowed all of this to happen. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

The Political Christian

My reflection on Chapter 7 of Unchristian:

Dealing with the perception that Christians are primarily motivated by a political agenda and promote right-wing politics.

This chapter did not stick out to me too much.

I’ve blogged about this before so I will not spend too much time on it.

Obviously, younger generations are less traditional in their political viewpoints and agendas. Their stands on issues like homosexuality, media decency, sexuality, and family is continual shifting away from what their parents believed.
The younger generations are more willing to compromise their opinions to get the job done. They do not hold strongly to one position. As you can see in today’s relativistic, post-modern mindset!
Also the young generations are more skeptical than any others before them. Especially of the Bible.

As you have heard me rant before: I believe that politics are important but they are not worth dying for. By that I mean we need to put focus on the right thing. God and our love for Jesus is the right thing. If we win an election but loss our soul in the process, then it is not worth it. Also we need not put too much emphasis on Politics, nor on one particular party. Christians should never have a political party of association. We should go a lot deeper than just right wing or left wing. But instead vote for change. World change through the love of Jesus.

One party does not have all the right answers. Don’t put your eggs in one basket, don’t vote nessicarly on one issue. But one which is the best canidadte to lead us as a whole.

Also Chrisians need to lear about respect.
Respect others who have different believes.
Respect the leaders of our nation despite their agenda.
And do not get confused by the word respect!

Also do not think you can solve all the world’s problems with politics, cause you cannot. God can!
Do not be a hypocrite, but do vote. Do pray for our leaders. And do engage politics with a Christ-like attitude! And do promote good thing through politics in light of the Bible.

The Pushy Christian

This is a reflection and call to action about chapter 4 of UnChristian by David Kinnaman. This is a book every Christian should read, in my opinion. And I will soon have a reflection from each chapter up shortly.

This chapter is called “Get Saved!” It addresses the perception that Christians are insincere and concerned only with getting converts.

In today’s post-modern mindset, the journey of life is stressed as more important that the destination. The process over the product! So with that said there is a lot of skeptism about any religion, far more about which religion is right!

Outsiders sometimes relate Christians to salesmen. Not only are outsiders skeptical about which message is correct, but they also question Christian motive and intention for sharing and being pushy about sharing the Gospel mesage.

Thinking about the reading, here are some thoughts that stick out about what is happening and what we should be doing:

Instead of converting the masses, focus on the relationships.

Don’t do risky things. Be a good steward of the Gospel and remeber that how you choose to share the Gospel is as important as actaully doing it!

Respect people. Do not offend someone in order to share the Gospel!

The logical barrier is not the only one. In fact most people come to know Christ for emotional reasons, rather than logical ones. The point is let the Holy Spirit do the convincing and do not focus just on the logical reasonings.

Keep in mind a lot of people think they are “Christian” (becuase they live in America, their parents were, they went to church when they were young, or they truly have gotten off track…)
so be respectful of their pasts, get to know them. Talk through the issues. Where do they stand with Jesus Christ? Is it a shallow superfical belief or is there something really there?

Others have truly had a real expireince with the church. It might have been a negative expireince and they have left the church completely. They have formed conclusions are really skeptical of anything you are going to say. They were searching and did not find the truth or anything worthwhile at church. This should be a wake-up call to the church!
If we are missing these oppurtunities, then how well are we truly loving and sharing God’s love?

It is time to stop living self-righteously as a church. Time to stop. Open up the doors to the outsiders and listen to them!

It should not be about a mere conversion, but about full transformation. Not just a “get out of Hell free,” but discipleship and growth in lifestyle.

Think, Love, Listen.
Let outsiders think about the Gospel. Love them. Listen to them. Build a real relationship and not just a conversion. Make visible the invisible, God and his love!

Social justice…and politics

How does this relate to Dominion theology and what are the concerns (pros and cons?)
How does this relate to our political stance?
Should a conservative and/or liberal Christian work together for social justice?
How does fighting for social justice relate to post-modern society?

So if we are Christians fighting for social justice, does that make us extremists?
Do people have a reason for concern when they call us out for believing in Dominion theology?
Should we be followers of Dominion Theology?

I believe that we do not have to be extremists. I believe that we should not take an incredibly extreme belief in Dominion theology. Sure at one level we do have a responsibility to take care of the earth. God has in fact put man at the highest level and given us that responsibility.
But we do not have to try to rule the world through politics and we do not have to follow New World Order Conspiracies. We should not put all our eggs in one basket, especially if you are basing the own Dominion theology around one verse of the Bible. There is a healthy responsibility God has placed on man to rule over the earth and take care of it, but not necessarily force everyone into Christianity.

If we are fighting for social justice will we come across as liberal Christians? should we join the democratic party in order to get some of these social justices?

Forget politics. This should not be about politics. If you are conservative, liberal ,Democratic, or Republican – you can agree that we have a duty to fight for social justice, it is Biblical, not politial. We will not come across as ‘liberal’ Christians, if we are fighting for the right things and doing what is the right thing. For example, if we are fighting poverty, yes we give money and food to the poor, but (this is key) we also have the oppurtunity to share God’s love and the Gospel message with the people we are ministering to. If we are “making the Main thing, the main thing,” then we will not be fighting social injustice to fight social injustice, but we will be showing and telling God’s love. Iti s about sharing the Gospel and fighting injustice. Not just one or the other. And the amazing thinkg is that we can work together on this! Calvinist, Arministist, Obama, McCain, anyone who truely claims to be a Christian! It is time to stop fighting about petty in0-church doctrines and truely live it out in the real world, with people who have never heard any doctrine!

How does this relate to our post-modern world?

Agian, we have to keep the Main Thing (Jesus Christ) the main thing. In a society of relativism, it seems likely that people will want us to join their campaigns for justice. And outsiders of Christianity might want to join our campaign for justice. Both of these situations are great. We can and should work with non-Christians in our fight for justice. But we cannot loose sight of what is most important, the Gospel. We as Christians do have a doctrine that we cannot forget about, that is the message of Christ’s love for us at Calvary. We need to be clear that we believe in doing what is just but we also have to be clear about why we are doing it! That is to show God’s love, to be God’s light. Present the Gospel as well as minister for justice!

Stop sharing Gospel, stop being a minister

Think about it…
if we stop teaching the Word, preaching the Gospel, sharing the Good News…
then are we really ministers?
Our ministry should center on the Bible, the Holy Word of God.
When we stop using the Word, when we stop getting in the Gospel and feeding ourselves, and when we stop sharing that News with others, we are no longer ministering effectively!

Something to ponder,
Alex

OT laws in real life

In my Into to Old Testament class this summer, I learned a lot.
One of the most memorable things from the class is this article.
Dan Hayes talks about how the OT law applies today in real life and how it does not.

It is a great read. I highly recommend that you check it out.

But the law has a place in today’s Christianity….
It is important.
What I find beautiful though is that the Christianity is not just the law.

Christianity is the law and the Gospel.

Through the law we realize our flaws, our falleness, and our need for help.
Through the Gospel we come to know our Savior, our friend, the grace and mercy that we need. The only way to fulfill the law is by accepting the Gospel.

It is so wonderful!

What is essential to Christian faith?

Or better yet simply to the to Gospel message?

I have been learning a great deal that a lot of things in the Christian faith are non-essentials.
My question is what are the absolute essentials?
What must a person believe to get into Heaven?
What must a church agree on in order for it to be Evangelical/Protestant?
What are the “essentials” that Augustine speaks of and are they the same today?
What are the major Agreements?

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Okay, that is a lot of questioning. That is enough for one day. What do you think?
And yes I understand that the answers to each of those questions are different….

Church Media nd Messages

A medium (like Media) affects the message. This is pretty well research theory. If it is true, how will the Christian message be affected by new media?

As communication theorist Marshall McLuhan argued, the tools we use to communicate a message can shape that message in ways we may or may not intend. If this is true then Christians have a duty to critically evaluate the effect of our media choices on our message. Do our choices of media forms allow the message to remain Christian? Or are the tools with which we communicate at odds with the message of the Gospel?

This blurb, I got from somewhere (cannot remember where) brings up some great points and questions. It is great that someone is taking a look at this and studying it. It will be useful to learn from this type of research. But as I ran through my mind, I could not think of an occasion where the tools that (I and my church anyways) we have used have shaped the message in odd or negative ways. Maybe I am too close to see it if it is happening, or I am missing the point? Maybe I am not evaluating it correctly…I don’t know.

I do appreciate the research he is doing. And will keep my eyes open. One big problem that people might run into is over emphasis on the Media and ‘worshiping’ the Media. This would be sinful. Another problem might be the overemphasis or dependence on the Media. If the message cannot go on due to technology, then that also would be an issue you might need to bring up!
But overall, I think Media can be a good thing. A. TO keep up and engage culture. b. Convenience- it helps keep organized and prep work faster