Wednesday, April 29, 2015

On Misinterpreting "Peacemakers"

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus Christ famously says the following:

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (ESV)

"The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God." (HCSB)

"How blessed are those who make peace, because it is they who will be called God’s children!" (ISV)

"Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God." (KJV)

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (NASB)

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God." (NET)

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God." (NIV)

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God." (NKJV)

"God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God." (NLT)

"Happy the peacemakers -- because they shall be called Sons of God." (YLT)

I've listed ten different translations of this verse to show that they all say basically the same thing. We will be blessed by God when we live as people who make peace. This does not suggest that we earn God's favor by being peacemakers, but it does make it clear that God is pleased by this behavior. He also expects it.

But what does Jesus mean by being peacemakers?

I've heard this verse misinterpreted many times by well-meaning (and usually military supporting) evangelicals. Far too many of these folks say that Jesus is mainly referring to helping others make peace with God by accepting the gospel. This verse amounts, in this view, to another Great Commission. While sharing our faith is certainly important, neither the context of this passage nor the specific wording indicates that Christ has this in mind here.

Why would these evangelicals misinterpret this passage in this way? The reason is that they, ironically, fear the idea of peacemaking in its most basic sense. I'm referring to helping others live lives of day-to-day peace with other people through turning the other cheek and loving enemies. These truths, while spoken by Jesus in this very chapter, are not popular in much of American Christianity. They fly in the face of the military aggression that is so prevalent in our society and which is so often supported by the church.

In Matthew 5:9 Jesus is not talking about assisting lost people in coming to peace with God through the gospel. Rather, Jesus is telling his soon to be followers that he expects them to live peacefully in an unpeaceful world. He expects them to not retaliate when wronged (look at 5:10-12). Jesus desires that his people promote peaceful, kind, non-aggressive interactions among others. While the world wages war, Christ's people are to be agents of peace.

Let's be those people of peace that Jesus is talking about in the Beatitudes.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Jesus Christ Our Excellent Teacher

Jesus Christ is both a shocking revolutionary and an uncompromising challenger. He's also an excellent teacher. We see all three of these roles throughout Christ's earthly ministry, perhaps most clearly in the Beatitudes.

Even when he is teaching profound truths, Jesus speaks in a manner that is easy to understand. He sits on the hillside, selecting his words carefully. When we read the Beatitudes we are stunned by the simplicity and depth of what our Lord is saying. He's not trying to be a fancy orator. His is not a carefully crafted speech. He's certainly not standing behind a podium. Rather, Jesus just speaks the simple truth in a way that almost anyone can understand.

As we read Matthew chapter five we may have trouble digesting what Jesus says. This is because his ideas are so vastly different from those of the world. He challenges us where we are by giving us no loopholes or out-clauses. He expects his followers to live in a radically different way.

He's such a good teacher that we have no excuse. Let's be honest: we understand what Christ is teaching in the Beatitudes in particular and the Sermon on the Mount in general. His exquisite teaching assures this. It's the living-it-out part that gives us difficulty.

As we read through the gospel accounts we see a man who reaches people where they are. He speaks to them with an intent of being understood. For example, his discussion with Nicodemus in John three is significantly different from his interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well in John four. Jesus is discussing his good news with both of them, but doing it in differing ways so each will comprehend.

Our Lord is not a God of confusion. He has taught us well. The big question for us is what we will choose to do with his excellent teachings. Will we obey?

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Jesus Christ the Uncompromising Challenger

Jesus Christ's teachings in the Beatitudes are nothing short of world changing. They take people's general expectations and flip them upside down. Our Lord's instructions show him to be a shocking revolutionary. In addition, Jesus was also an uncompromising challenger.

When we come to Matthew chapter five we do not see any sort of extended lead in. Rather, Jesus jumps straight into his sayings with, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Christ does not beat around the bush. He is not giving suggestions. These are not simply good ideas.

Jesus does not compromise on his expectations. Rather, this is how he expects his body to live. While we might hope for some loopholes, he provides none. Christ also makes no apologies for his lofty expectations. His followers will, albeit imperfectly, live in a way that will make them stand out from the world.

These sayings are no doubt a massive challenge to us. We might much rather talk about Jesus' death, resurrection, and the salvation this purchased for us. While those are no doubt wonderful things, the reality is that our Lord saved us in part to live a certain way. He has outlined that way in the Sermon on the Mount. What an incredible challenge for us!

It is important for us to see that these verses do more than challenge us. They also show us what an amazing person Jesus was. He not only instructed his people in how to live, but also showed them perfectly how to do this. He lived the ultimate life of humility, mercy, purity, and peacemaking. He suffered severe persecution but never retaliated. Just incredible. As if that wasn't enough, let's recall that these verses provide wonderful promises; both verses three and ten end with "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."

Jesus doesn't compromise. Jesus does challenge. Jesus is also faithful to reward.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Jesus Christ the Shocking Revolutionary

Jesus Christ's first teachings in the bible come in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-7). The initial section of this sermon is the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12). I've been pondering these eleven verses quite a bit lately. I'm stunned by what shocking and revolutionary teachings these were and still are.

In one sense these aren't revolutionary; Jesus was explaining the full meaning of the Old Testament law. However, no one thought of the law this way. Therefore, in comparison to how people were living and thought of the O.T. law, Jesus' sayings were extremely revolutionary. He was commanding his followers to live in ways that flew in the face of how the world lives. Christ expected his people to be humble, to mourn, to show mercy, to be peacemakers, to accept persecution, etc. These are not the ways of the world.

Sadly, these are not generally the ways of the church either, then or now. We generally fail to live up to what Jesus demands. This is not surprising considering that we are imperfect beings. However, when it comes to the Beatitudes, we don't even come close. It's interesting that Jesus holds us to such a high standard. It is clear that our Lord had and has plans for his body to live in a starkly different way from that of the world.

When we take time to think through these verses, what we see should shock us. We see wonderful blessings promised as part of salvation in Christ. We deserve none of these. We also see descriptors of Christ's followers that seem so different from almost anything we see on a daily basis. For example, how many of us truly seek meekness? Instead, we generally struggle for what we believe is ours. What about peacemakers? Does this describe us? Usually we want others to be at peace, but not if it costs us. Or what about accepting suffering for Christ and doing so willingly? We are generally clueless in this regard.

On the one hand I'm glad Jesus has a high standard. He would not be such an impressive God if he let us live like the lost around us. On the other hand, his design for his people challenges us to live in a way that we are probably not. He expects our attitudes and behavior to shock the world because of how revolutionary they are. If the world often times does not understand us, that is probably a good thing. Conversely, if we fit right in we likely have a big problem.

We ought to be shocked by Christ's teachings. We should also ask ourselves whether or not we are even attempting to live up to them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sermon Avoidance Does Not Make You "Lukewarm"

A couple of years ago a young Christian man told me that I was "lukewarm." He was referring to this passage:

14 And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation. 15 "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. 17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. 19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. 21 The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Revelation 3:14-22, emphasis mine)

Let me provide a bit of context. At the time our family was gathering regularly with a few others families each Sunday in homes. We would sometimes see each other during the week, but for the most part our Sunday get together was the main time of fellowship. We shared in bible study, prayer, eating, and much conversation. It was almost always an edifying experience for me. We enjoyed being together.

One Sunday a young couple visited with us; they were invited by one of the other families in our group. I'm not sure why this couple came (maybe curiosity?) because the man clearly did not believe the way we were "doing church" was the right way. He was a very big supporter of sermons. He liked to discuss what preachers had said and written as part of their messages. Our church family had no need or desire for sermons.

Did I mention that this young man was only twenty-five-years-old at the time?

What I still do not understand is why this couple kept returning to our gatherings. It makes no sense to me. They were nice enough, but the way we functioned continued to bother them. One day it came to a head. The young man asked if he could meet with the elders of our church family. Several of us men (the older men of the body; nothing more than that) came together one evening in a home. The young man basically complained to us that the elders in our body needed to have more authority and that we should have sermons. We did not agree. I hope you see the irony here. The young man was saying that we should have authority, but he had no interest in our authority when it came to not having sermons. While making his case he kept referring back to one specific sermon he had heard and told us that we really needed to listen to it.

We kept asking him to support his assertions with scripture. He failed to do so. Eventually he told us that the real reason he wanted to meet with us was to tell us that we were "lukewarm." However, his only reason for saying this was because we did not preach and teach the bible the way he thought we should. He wanted someone to stand up front and give a typical monologue style sermon as in traditional churches. He equated this with caring for what the bible had to say. We disagreed.

It was clear to me that he saw himself as doing some sort of duty for God by rebuking us. He would not listen to what we had to say. We elders (all in our forties) were being rebuked by a twenty-five-year-old for not grabbing more authority. This encounter was both fascinating and disturbing.

This young man, while well-intentioned, was far off track. It was not long before they moved on. Last I knew they had moved near Houston, Texas to be part of Voddie Baucham's church.

I wish things could have turned out differently, but this young man would not listen. His error is in how he thinks of church life. In his mind zeal for God and ceremonial preaching go together. He believes that love for the Lord is most clearly shown by sitting and listening to a speech.

He is wrong.

None of us has to adhere to the typical traditional, institutional style of gathering in order to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. In fact, I would argue that taking part in church meetings that seek to edify the body through mutuality is a sign of great care for Christ. According to the bible, that is to be the purpose of gatherings.

If you read this blog regularly then you probably have no use for sermons. Don't worry, that's fine. Sermon avoidance does not make you "lukewarm." Rather, it might just be a sign that you care about how God wants his church to live. As far as I'm concerned that is evidence of being just the opposite of lukewarm.

Monday, April 13, 2015

"The Reformers and Their Stepchildren"

When I was in seminary I was required to read The Reformers and Their Stepchildren. Although the book interested me at the time, I didn't give it a great deal of thought because I was reading so many different books. It quickly faded into the background of my mind as I tried to ingest all sorts of other required reading.

I'm now far removed from seminary. My views on the church have changed dramatically since those years. I decided it was time to read this book again. I'm glad I did.

The Reformers and Their Stepchildren, written by Leonard Verduin in 1964, takes a fascinating look at the stark differences between the Reformers (such as Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin) and those who were called by various names such as "Anabaptist." Both of these groups had broken away from the heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. Both held a high view of scripture. Where the two groups differed was in their view of the church. While the Reformers largely took a Constantinian view of church, the Anabaptists believed the church should be free. This led to a massive rift.

The Anabaptists thought that each person in an area should be free to choose what he believed. This necessarily led to a composite society. The Reformers, seeking protection from the government, looked for a melding of church and state. Therefore, everyone in a given location was considered part of the church in that location. The Anabaptists wanted no part of this view. This led to severe persecution by the Reformers (and Catholics) toward the Anabaptists.

The Anabaptists were known by a wide variety of different names given to them by the Reformers and Catholics. Almost all of these were derogatory in nature (even the term "Anabaptist" was originally negative). Verduin entitled the various chapters in this book with these negative names; the chapters deal with different but related topics such as baptism, the Lord's Supper, and church-state relations. While the Reformers and the stepchildren held the same basic views of the gospel, it was their differences over the church that led to the problems.

This book is extremely well researched and detailed. At some points it bogs down a bit, but the large amount of information is needed because this book is a challenge to the Reformed view of both the Reformation and the Anabaptists. The author was forced, due to the resistance this book would face, to add a great amount of detail.

The interesting thing about this book is that, for most of us in the modern West, a free church is the norm. We cannot imagine anything other than a composite society. That was hardly the case 500 years ago. Back then the Anabaptists' hope for church life led to persecution, shunning, and death. They desired what we have.

This text is much more than a history book. It is living in the sense that the Anabaptists, or stepchildren, asked many of the questions about the church that we do today. The difference is that they often paid for it with their lives.

This book is worth your time.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

My Name Is No Longer on a Church Membership Roll. I Guess I'm Not Going to Heaven.

As far as I know, my name is no longer on any local church's membership roll. I cannot confirm this for certain because I'm not about to dig through old file cabinets to find out.

The church where I worked as pastor is the last place where I was a member. Last year I emailed to request that my name be taken off the roll. I received a confirmation message that this occurred. This is the best I can do.

Since I'm no longer on a church membership roll I suppose this means I'm not going to heaven. That makes me sad.

Saturday, April 11, 2015


I like the word poppycock because of the way it sounds. It basically means "nonsense" or "rubbish."

If you want to read an example of poppycock, simply click on this.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

By the Way, Christianity is Not a "Religion of Peace" Either

In my previous post I made the case that we should reject the ignorant, politically correct, and patently false notion that Islam is a religion of peace. In doing so, I did not want to imply that Christianity is a religion of peace. When we look historically at the religion Christianity has become we see much violence. This is to our shame.

Please allow me to take a moment to clarify one key term. When I say "religion," I'm referring to man's attempts to get to God by his own means. This describes any religion in the world that does not have Jesus Christ at its center.

Institutional Christianity poses some problems when it comes to definitions. While it has many aspects of man-made religion, it also focuses to one degree or another upon Jesus Christ. Additionally, many wonderful Christian people attend institutional churches. This makes things a bit murky.

The sad reality, however, is that institutional Christianity has a long history of violence. This all began when Constantine made Christianity the preferred religion of the state. Whenever the church and state come together, the church becomes the whore of the state. This always (no hyperbole) leads to violence and aggression. All through the Middle Ages the church struck out against any they deemed to be heretics. During the crusades, many Muslims were slaughtered in various attempts to retake the holy land.

During the Reformation, both Catholics and Protestants killed in order to defend what they considered to be theirs. Dissenting groups such as the Anabaptists felt the wrath of both sides, finding little shelter anywhere. Even in modern times many within the church support violence. When President George W. Bush, himself at least sort of an evangelical, decided to start two different wars the church in this country largely lauded him.

When we look at the life of Jesus Christ we see one of non-violence. In fact, we see a man of peace. This is the model he left for us to follow. While the man-created institutions that masquerade as Christianity embrace war and violence, those who truly seek to live as Christ did desire lives of peaceful existence with all people. This is not to suggest that Christians cannot endorse or even commit violent acts; rather, I'm saying that those who do so have no biblical basis for their beliefs and actions.

Ultimately, Christianity is not a religion of peace because Christianity is not a religion.

Christianity, at least what we see in the scriptures, is about knowing and living for Jesus Christ. It is not man's attempt to get to God, but rather God's successful reaching down to mankind. He has done so in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Christ never retaliated even though he would have been completely justified in doing so. This is the type of life we must lead.

Let's follow after Christ, rejecting both the violence and made-created religion that permeates this world.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Can We Please Do Away With the Ignorant Notion that "Islam is a Religion of Peace"?

One ubiquitous talking point for both politicians and talking heads is that "Islam is a religion of peace."

This idea persists because it is politically correct. However, a glance around the globe tells us otherwise. The Islamic State (or whatever its latest name is) is, well, Islamic. Boko Harem also claims the name of Islam. So does Al-Shabaab.

Remember Al-Qaeda and the Taliban? Both are Muslim groups. The list goes on.

Quite frankly, the above groups' behavior is not surprising. After all, they learned from the founder of their religion: Muhammad. Ever since the starting of Islam it has been bathed in blood. The rapid spread of Islamic ideology and way of life soon after its founding occurred mostly at the end of the sword.

Islam has been consistently violent wherever it has gone, at least until those areas submit wholesale to its rules and laws. Only after a society kneels to the demands of Islam does it become somewhat more peaceful (and even then dissenting residents face the wrath of Islamic rule).

I'm not suggesting that all Muslims everywhere are terrorists. Most are not. However, the reality is that Islam far outpaces any other religion when it comes to violence. Just watch the news. It is all too common.

What we need to understand is that Muslims who are engaged in violent activities are simply following the model they've been given by Muhammad. In light of that, it is understandable why they behave the way they do. More surprising is why more Muslims aren't involved in terroristic acts.

The reality is that any ideology, belief system, or worldview that does not come from Jesus Christ cannot be fully peaceful. The reason for this is that only Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Only Christ brings true peace to the world. Only through the gospel can people come to know what true life and peace are all about.

The world is full of all sorts of false religions. At a spiritual level none of these are peaceful. Probably because of the manner it which it started, Islam appears to be the most violent. How many more atrocities have to be committed in the name of Islam before the talking heads and politicians wake up to this reality?

Islam is most definitely not a religion of peace.

How should we followers of Christ respond to Muslims? I'm glad you asked.

(Before I receive any angry responses about Christianity please let me tell you the name of my next post: "By the Way, Christianity Is Not a Religion of Peace Either.")

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Why Does Christ's Resurrection Even Matter?

Within Christianity we talk a lot about Jesus Christ's crucifixion. This is a good thing. We ought to continually honor him for it. It is through Christ's substitutionary atoning work that we are saved.

We tend to talk somewhat less about Jesus' resurrection. I'm not sure why this is. After all, it is a stunning miracle. Maybe the reason is that we aren't exactly sure what the significance of the resurrection is. While we embrace the crucifixion because it paid for our sins, we might not know why we should cherish the resurrection equally as much.

Simply put, why does the resurrection even matter?

I've been thinking about this quite a bit over the last couple of days. The reason is somewhat self-centered; I wanted to make sure that I know why Christ's being raised from the dead really matters. After looking up a variety of bible passages and consulting with my favorite systematic theology text, I now feel comfortable that I know why the resurrection is significant.

Being a blogger, I feel compelled to share my findings with you. What I'm writing here is nothing new theologically. You may find it fairly basic. That's fine. My hope is that it will assist you in thinking just a little bit more clearly about why Jesus' coming back to life is something that we as his people ought to adore.

I found six different reasons, although all are ultimately connected:

1. Most importantly, Christ's resurrection brings glory to the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11 tells us, "Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Although this passage does not specifically mention the resurrection, it is clear that through the resurrection all will eventually (at one time or another) submit to Christ, bringing glory to the Father.

2. Christ's resurrection shows that he has supreme authority.

"...and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" Ephesians 1:19-22. Paul makes it abundantly clear that Jesus is in charge of all things.

3. Christ's resurrection is directly connected to our regeneration.

"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" I Peter 1:3. The apostle Peter informs us that we are born again through the resurrection.

4. Christ's resurrection is directly connected to our justification.

In Romans 4:22-25 Paul writes the following, "That is why his faith was 'counted to him as righteousness.' But the words 'it was counted to him' were not written for his sake alone, but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification." This passage indicates that the acts of crucifixion and resurrection were both necessary to bring about our salvation. Also implied is that the resurrection is evidence that the Father accepted the Son's sacrifice as both valid and sufficient.

5. Christ's resurrection gives us reason to have faith in Christ and hope in our future resurrection.

According the Paul, "But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain...but in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep" I Corinthians 15:13-14, 20. Without the resurrection, it is all pointless.

In a similar way Peter says, "He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God" I Peter 1:20-21. Our faith in Christ as Lord and Savior is directly related to his being raised.

6. Christ's resurrection provides us with post-salvation marching orders.

Jesus did not leave us here to remain as we were prior to knowing him. At the conclusion of I Corinthians 15 Paul writes, "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain" I Corinthians 15:58. The apostle's use of the word therefore to begin this verse points back to the first fifty-seven verses of the chapter that focus almost exclusively on Christ's and our resurrections. God expects us, in light of the resurrection of the body, to stand for him and work for him.

The bible gives us ample evidence that the resurrection of Jesus Christ is extremely significant. Let's cherish this stunning event just as much as we do the crucifixion. The two go hand-in-hand.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Cherishing the Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ

Few doctrines are as important as Jesus Christ's substitutionary atonement (which is defined well in the graphic above). I love Jesus for both who he is and for what he has done. Therefore, I cherish the atoning work as my substitute sacrifice on the cross.

In the bible we see a consistent pattern of substitutionary sacrifice. For example, just before the Hebrews escaped from Egypt after years of captivity they killed a lamb without blemish and put the blood over their doors. If anyone failed to do this (the Egyptians), the firstborn was killed.

During the hundreds of years of tabernacle and then temple sacrifices the people understood that the sacrifices paid what they owed (for example).

In Isaiah 53:4-6, the high point of the final Suffering Servant passage, we read the following prophecy:

4 Surely he has borne our griefs
  and carried our sorrows;
  yet we esteemed him stricken,
  smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions;
  he was crushed for our iniquities;
  upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
  and with his wounds we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
  we have turned—every one—to his own way;
  and the Lord has laid on him
  the iniquity of us all.

In the New Testament we see Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the O.T. prophecies. One of my favorite verses in the entire bible is II Corinthians 5:21. Paul tells us, "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." We see that Jesus became sin (took on our sin), and in this great exchange we receive his righteousness. What an amazing gift!

In I Peter 2:24 we read, "He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed." Jesus was our substitute, taking our sins upon himself. He was the spotless lamb, executed in our place.

Elsewhere Paul writes, "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us — for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree' — so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith" (Gal. 3:13-14). This description of Christ's work informs us that Jesus bought us back from our impossible sin debt by becoming the curse we deserve.

In Colossians 2:13-14 we see the following, "And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross." God has made us spiritually alive by cancelling the legal debt we could not pay. How? He accomplished this by nailing it to the cross (specifically by nailing Christ to the cross).

I cherish Christ's finished and accomplished work at Calvary because it is at the center of salvation. Jesus atoned for our wretched sinfulness by becoming that sin for us. He stood in our place and took what we deserved. He became the curse we could not pay. He, the perfect lamb, gave himself up as our atoning sacrifice.

Jesus Christ is our one and only, infinitely perfect substitute sacrifice! All praise and honor are due his name!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

New Blog Header

One of the things I'm most thankful for is God's releasing me from man's church traditions.

For most of my life I lived within the institutional walls of American-style Christianity. During those years I never questioned the existence or validity of things like worship services, professional pastors, and large church buildings. I even worked for a few years as a paid pastor myself.

I praise the Lord for freeing me from tradition's shackles. The above blog header is an accurate depiction of how I feel much of the time. While I thank God mainly for salvation, at a secondary level I'm exceedingly grateful for His opening of my eyes to the limitations of institutional Christianity.

What a gift from God to see a truly free church.

I hope you are feeling and experiencing this freedom, too!