Archive for September, 2011

Belief In The Resurrection

Posted in Book, Moltmann on September 20, 2011 by nmpreach

Been to a bookstore lately?  Visited a “Christian” bookstore?  Have you found yourself within the section labeled “Spirituality”, “Religion”, or “Christianity”?  If so, you’ve been close enough to observe some statements regarding the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.  Most Christians still believe that Christ rose again after three days in a tomb.  However, more and more everyday, liberal scholarship is offering another view.  There’s a thought now that Jesus didn’t actually raise from the dead.  His spirit may have.  But to claim a physical resurrection is too much.  Or there are those who claim the entire story is simply fantasy.  Jesus was a good man – perhaps a good teacher.  But the Son of God?  No.  And history has recorded too many audacious claims about this man.

So what say you?  What about a physical resurrection?  What does the resurrection mean to followers of Christ?

Paul wrote, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor 15:14 ESV).  It seems that Paul thought the resurrection to be crucial to what one believed.  By the way, for early Christians, the phrase “raising from the dead” would literally mean raising from the dead.  In other words, spiritual resurrection wasn’t in their minds.  They believed in a physical resurrection.  Witnesses record Jesus appearing to the women, to the disciples, and then to hundreds of others (including Paul).

These visions of the risen Christ wasn’t just a cool show.  It was much more than that.  Moltmann writes of three different dimensions of the resurrection in Jesus Christ: for today’s world:

1.  They were prospective visions of hope: the men and women saw the crucified Jesus as the living Christ in the splendour cast ahead by God’s coming glory;

2.  They were retrospective visions of remembrance: the disciples recognized Jesus from the marks of the nails and from the way he broke the bread.  The One who will come is the One crucified on Golgotha; and

3.  They were personal call visions: the men and women concerned perceived in this ‘seeing’ their own call to apostleship: ‘As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.

You see, what you believe about the resurrection is what faith you have in God.  The faith you have in God is based upon the physical resurrection of Jesus.  For followers of Christ, separating the two isn’t possible.

What say you?

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Deep (Part 2)

Posted in Discipleship on September 16, 2011 by nmpreach

I wanted to “piggy back” on what I said Tuesday regarding discipleship.  Of course, I’m not the only one having this conversation.  Mike Breen writes a guest post at Verge.  Check it out here.

I appreciate how Breen maintains mission should be under the discipleship umbrella.  If Jesus chose to use analogies mentioning umbrellas, :), I’m sure He would agree.  Enjoy!

The Difference Between “Deep” and “Wide”

Posted in Discipleship on September 14, 2011 by nmpreach

There’s been much discussion regarding the idea of community in recent years.  God’s Word is clear about continuing to maintain relationships for God’s glory (Heb 10:25).  But here’s a thought.

Is a community more about the number of people in a relationship or about the relationship itself?

In other words, do we measure the success of a community by how many people show up (width)? Or do we measure success by the “depth” of the relationships within the community?  The difference is huge.  There’s a saying that goes something like this: a mile wide but an inch deep.  That’s exactly what I’m proposing here.

Within the Church, we’ve fallen prey to the thought that the mega-church is successful; whereas the small church doesn’t experience the same success.  Perhaps it’s an issue of a traditional style of worship, a rural community, etc.  But we rationalize that the small church is never going to be nothing more than a small church (with few exceptions).  And because they are a small church, they will never be as “successful” as a large church.  Therefore, the community will only be so wide.

Churches have bought into this philosophy as well.  Pastors are concerned about filling a chair and developing the latest program.  Church treasurers must be concerned about “giving units” so that the bills can be paid.  Churches become personality driven.  Importance has been placed on “How good is the band?” rather than “What do they believe”?  And the community gets wider and wider.

However, the effort it takes to become disciples and to make disciples, all too often, is more effort than people want to give.  The reality is people want to be entertained.  They want to hear the latest singer, attend the best parties, have someone babysit their kids, etc.  And as long as these same people have a warm fuzzy feeling when they leave, they will consider it a “success”.  And the community gets more shallow every day.

The point is becoming wider doesn’t always lead to being deeper.  But going deeper will always result in becoming wider.  Am I wrong?  Tell me about it.