There is much Gospel abuse around us today. I’m thinking of such teachings as retribution theology – someone is suffering because they did not pray hard enough or give enough – the name it and claim it gospel, the gospel of prosperity, liberation theology, or social justice. These teachings make you feel good and do explain some things about us, but they don’t excuse us. In the end they offer cheap grace; a grace through our own works. It is like cotton candy; it looks good, but take a bite of it and you find a whole lot of nothing.
The gospel of Jesus is one of redemption; the price has been paid, the prison doors are opened, those enslaved by sin are set free. An infinite God who pours out His everything to redeem us is not cheap. Knowing God has done so much for us our response is: What can I do to display God in this situation? Think like this and you can have the assurance of God’s presence in all you do!
Here at North Valley Christian Church we preach: Heaven is high, Hell is deep, sin is worldwide, and we preach it shotgun straight till we run out of ammunition.
The Bible consists of sixty-six books by about forty authors over a fifteen-hundred year period, and yet it is one book. Therefore, to the casual reader the Bible appears to be a book filled with contrarieties. In Acts 2 God funnels these contrarieties down and coalesces them into a sermon delivered by Peter.
Before this Peter had been an impetuous, braggadocios, self-seeking man, but here his mind had been opened to the meaning of the Bible and with this new found clarity he stood and delivered the first Gospel message. This is a tremendous passage of Scripture that is to be appreciated, for it is the first public proclamation of the Gospel message of what God had done.
Peter’s point: God has raised up Jesus to the heavenly realms and seated him at His right hand. Peter’s proof: This Jesus has gifted to us the Holy Spirit. Peter’s lesson: God has done this so we might know the incomprehensible riches and grace of God. Peter’s conclusion: The one who has the Son has life; the one who does not have the Son does not have life. Seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness, and all things will be given to you as well.
In the early morning hours of the day most of us are asleep. While we sleep there is still much going out there in the Great Sonoran Desert. The smelly javelinas are rooting, the sad eyed donkeys are roaming, and the cunning coyotes are hunting.
On a certain early morn this week a pair of owls were giving out their lonely hoots. They reminded me of a poem by Edward Richards:
A wise old owl sat on an oak,
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard;
Why aren’t we all like that wise old bird?
How is it that the owls have learned this lesson and most of us haven’t?
Listening to God,
I have been thinking this week about how the American church must compete with a society that must be entertained. This thought of course came from all the auto auctions, golf tournaments, and football games that have been scheduled for the Phoenix area these last few weeks. The Valley of the Sun is alive with one activity after another.
Dallas Willard said it well, “The western segment of the church today lives in a bubble of historical illusion about the meaning of discipleship and the gospel. We are dominated essentially by the enlightenment values that rule American culture: Pursuit of happiness, unrestricted freedom of choice, disdain of authority. The prosperity gospels, the gospels of liberation, and the comfortable sense of what life is all about that fills the minds of most devout Christians in our circles are the result. How different is the gritty realization of James, “Friends of the world are enemies of God” (James 4:4). And “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him (2John 2:15).