Teaching: This is How You Change the World Matthew 5:13-16

  1. You are the salt of the earth. (v. 13)
    • What is salt used for?
    • Warning
  2. You are the light of the world (v. 14-15)
    • City on a hill
    • Light of a Lamp
  3. Culminating exhortation: (v. 16) “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

The Church Part 3: A Christian Nation?

Consider this bold statement, “The weapons of our your warfare [talking to the church] are not worldly” (2 Cor. 10:4).  When we as the church are tempted to use human means to bring about God’s kingdom in our life and in our nation, we must ponder these words of Paul.  We have mightier weapons than swards.  We have greater power than guns and grenades: Other-worldly weapons. As we preach the gospel to the world, as we build relationships with lost people that they may come to know Jesus, as we fight sin through the spirit, we are using spiritual weapons.

Sadly, the christian church in America often decides to put down their all powerful spiritual weapons and instead pick up a dull, broken, ineffective weapon: the government.  Consider the words of John Fea in Christianity Today,

For nearly 400 years Americans have been conflating the message of the Bible with the fate of the country. Ever since the Puritan John Winthrop said that the Massachusetts Bay Colony was a “city on a hill” Americans have seen themselves as God’s chosen people—a new Israel with a special destiny.

More and more we hear the cry to make America a Christian nation again.  We have pervasive in our christian culture an unbiblical blur between the church and the government. This cry for a “christian nation,” on the surface seems bold and commendable and in some sense it can be.  Jesus calls us to make disciples of all “nations” or “peoples”.  We want to see all people in America come to Jesus. In this sense we want to make America a “christian nation.” But behind this cry to have a “Christian America” is often a desire for a government that rewards people for being Christians and marginalize  those who do not follow Jesus such as Muslims and Atheists.  Here is a big problem with this:

Consider the the weapons God calls the church to use and those God calls the government to use as well as the motives behind each:

  • The Church: “The weapons of our warfare are not worldly” (2 Cor. 10:4).
  • The Government: “They are called to bear the sword and punish those who do wrong” (Rom. 13:1-7)

The church needs to learn to do it’s own work and we must not desire a government that does the work of the church.  The church must not desire that the government force people to “be christian” because the government exists to force people to be obedient to the law, not the gospel. Here is the main reason: Those who come to Christ must do it willingly with a genuine heart.  Convert or die does not work in the Christian faith nor does convert or be marginalized.  This is because it will never bring about the desired effect: true faith.

Furthermore, the government should not show favoritism to christians over those of other faiths.  The reason is the same.  When people come to Jesus because it is easy or because they will be treated better by the government, they are not truly coming to Jesus. A government requiring or encouraging christian conversion will lead to pervasive false faith. [1] It is the work of the church, not the government to preach the gospel.  One of the root motives behind desiring the government to be “christian” is one of laziness.  The church in America has practically become devoid of all power and failing their work of reaching its communities with the gospel.  We feed the poor, play music, have spaghetti  dinners, and update our church signs with funny jokes while all the while remaining silent about heaven and hell, failing to call sinners to repent and believe.  This is what often pushes church goers to have this unbiblical perspective that we have to make our country christian so that the church can grow again.  The problem with this is simple, it is the job of the Church to be christian, not the government.

Consider the idea of Separation of Church and State in light of the following passages

Matthew 22:21 21They said, “Caesar’s.” Then he said to them, “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

John 18:36 36Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.”

2 Corinthians 10:3–43For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.4For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.

With that being said, even though the church and state should be separate, Christians are called to be involved in government influence and even political offices. This comes out of a love for society and a desire to live a peaceful and quiet life (1 Tim. 2:2, 2 Thess. 4:11).  If we love our neighbor, we would seek, in peaceful nonviolent means, to influence and pressure our government to uphold Christian values and morals such as traditional marriage, and the sanctity of life for the sake of human flourishing.  This is part of what it means to love your neighbor.

Also see our other posts on the church:

The Church Part 1: Nature & Purposes

The Church Part 2: What are the Keys of the Kingdom?

[1] This is why I have a problem with calling a nation a “Christian nation”.  A better term would be a nation of (many) Christians.  The latter suggest that being a citizen means you are a Christian and you are expected to abide by Christians standards.  This leads to many false Christians who have no salvation and churches full of unregenerate problem causers (Jude 19).

 

 

 

 

What is the Content of Faithful Proclamation?

As we think about preaching and evangelism, we want to have a biblical perspective of the content of the proclamation.  Whether you are a Mega-Church Pastor preaching to 3,000 people or a mother telling your neighbors about Jesus at a playground, you need to know what the content of your “proclamation” must be so that the words you speak can be more fruitful for God’s kingdom.

When we survey what the bible says about proclamation, one particular thing sticks out more than anything else.  That is the word euangelizō which means to proclaim the gospel.  It’s like a special word created to describe a certain type of proclamation.   A proclamation who’s content is the good news of Jesus.  This word is used 54 times in the New Testament!  So when we talk about the content of preaching we need to remember that the heart of the New Testament authors was to proclaim the good news of Jesus. Whether it was the apostles preaching in the temple and from house to house in Acts 5:42 or Paul desiring to preach to the Roman Believers in Romans 1:15, the heart of the content was the good news of Jesus.  The Gospel is the content of proclamation in evangelistic encounters and the content of faithful preaching in the local church.  A pastor is not being faithful to his task if he teaches about how to make life easier or how to reduce conflict without relating it directly to what Jesus did on the cross.  A well meaning christian is not being faithful in his task if he is telling people to go to church or to trust that God is real, if he does not clearly explain that there is forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ when the lost turn from their sins and trust in Jesus.   The gospel is the primary content of faithful proclamation.

Now that we have it established that the primary content of biblical proclamation, We need to consider how the authors of scripture give us more detail. The content of preaching is identified as the gospel of the grace of God, the kingdom, he whole counsel of God (Acts 20:24-27), Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1–5), the word (2 Timothy 4:2), repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 3:3), repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations (Luke 24:47), the Christ is Jesus (Acts 5:42), good news of peace through Jesus Christ (Acts 10:36), not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:5), not man’s gospel (Galatians 1:11), the unsearchable riches of Christ (Ephesians 3:8), the word of God (Colossians 1:25), Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David (2 Timothy 2:8).  Their are many other passages that speak about the content of preaching but I think this list is a good starting point.  What sticks out to you here?  What sticks out to me is the riches of the gospel of Jesus!  What an amazing task that we have been given by God!  May we be faithful in the content of our proclamation!

Let us go out and Proclaim the Gospel!  To our neighbors, our friends, our grocery store clerk, our coworkers, our spouse, our kids, and everyone else we come in contact with. Read these two passages to yourself out loud and may God help you see the mission that he has called you to do.

1 Corinthians 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

Romans 10:13–15 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 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!”

This is blog two is a series on Biblical Proclamation.  Check part one: The All Day Sermon About the Law: The Example of Ezra for Preaching 

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

By Mark Dever


The Gospel and Personal Evangelism is packed full of help for the believer that is having trouble sharing their faith or maybe just wants to be more competent in spread the gospel. Their was several different themes that stood out to me in this book but I will only talk about a few important ones.

One big idea that Dever hits home is the necessity of a strong gospel understanding. he lays the groundwork for evangelism, a proper understanding of what the Gospel is and what it is not. Dever makes clear that the gospel is not just good news, the gospel is not simply God’s love or that he want to be our friend. The gospel is not primarily concerned about social justice or community survive. The gospel is the good news that Jesus died on the cross to reconcile sinners to God. This is naturally applied to my life in ministry through the way that I share the gospel. When sharing my faith, I am not simple sharing my opinion on life. It is not just about sharing simple steps to living a moral life. I am sharing the good news that sinners can receive forgiveness of their trespasses and can be transferred form death to life.

Another aspect of personal evangelism that Dever hit home for me is the reason that we should evangelize. Within a few pages, the reader is exposed to biblical reasons why he or she needs to be involved in evangelism. We are called to share the gospel because God command us too, we love the lost, and we love God. This applies to my personal life in ministry during times that I am not motivated to share the gospel. I am reminded by this book that it is my calling as a Christian to share the gospel, and I should be motivated by a love for God and a love for the lost. Often times I loose site of why I should be doing evangelism but these reasons applied to my ministry remind me of my mission. I can apply this section of the book to my ministry by keeping these think in mind when I am not motivated to speak the truth or when I want to keep to myself. This is not what we have been called to do as Christians.

The biggest overall help that this book provide is a better understanding of the gospel and its application of everyday evangelistic opportunities. By going through the scriptures use of word good news, we see that the gospel has many different parts. The coming of Christ, his life, his death, his salvation, his work in believers, his return and several other thing are all part of the gospel. In other words, the gospel is not necessarily one specific simple thing but rather a collection of events and realties that come together to make the gospel good news.   You can apply Dever’s teaching about the gospel every time you interact with a lost person. This book is worth your time and will benefit your everyday ministry.

This book review was written by Pastor Jonathan Ahlgren.

You can buy this book here.

Anxiety in Light of the Return of Christ

How does Philippians 4:4-7 apply to those who do not know God? In light of the reality of the return of Christ, should a lost person be anxious? I think the answer is yes and rightly so. Even though this exhortation in Philippians 4 was written to true followers of Jesus, it has application for those who are in unrepentant sin. When considering the return of Christ, a person trusting in Jesus has no reason to be anxious yet someone who rejects Jesus and continues in sin has every reason to be anxious and worry. Romans 1:18-19 says this of those people, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” This is a scary reality. Even though many seek to be free from anxiety by ignoring the reality of God when committing sin, the truth is that they are simply suppressing the truth and it will only work for so long in light of Philippians 4:4, “The Lord is at Hand”.

Are you or is someone you know running from the reality of God? Anyone running to sin instead of God needs to see the reality of the Lord’s return and run to Jesus so that they can see freedom from being anxious about anything and so that they can have the peace of God’s presence.