Jesus Continued [Book Review]

Have you ever wondered why Jesus said it would be better for His followers if He left and sent the Holy Spirit (John 16:7)? When I first read that verse, I was taken aback.

Like Thomas in John 20, many of us would much rather have a physical human being that we can touch and see than an unseen Spirit that, like the wind, “blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes” (John 3:8). Often as Christians, we feel disconnected from God. We look at God speaking to His people in the Old Testament, Jesus teaching the disciples in the Gospels, and the Holy Spirit moving mightily in Acts, but we have a hard time connecting that with our lives today. This difficulty that even seasoned Christians have relating to God the Holy Spirit has led to Him being referred to as “the forgotten God” (to borrow Francis Chan’s term).

In his book Jesus Continued…: Why the Spirit Inside You is Better Than Jesus Beside You, J.D. Greear wants to help Christians personally relate to God through the Holy Spirit.

Greear opens by asking, “Do you ever feel like God is someone you know about more than someone you know-like He’s more of a doctrine than a person?” Read more of this post

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Why Do You Worship?

Worship BG - Not To Us

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry youth group on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Key Text: 1 Corinthians 11:17-34

WHAT IS WORSHIP?

You and I are worshiping every second of every day. We are continually pouring ourselves out for people, causes, things, or experiences. Worship never stops.

So what is worship? It is much more than just singing songs or playing an instrument (though that is certainly part of it). Christian worship is a biblically faithful response to a biblically faithful understanding of God. It is both internal and external. The internal spirit of worship comes from experiencing and treasuring the beauty and worth of God as presented in the Bible. This results in an external response that shows what we have experienced and treasure. Worship begins in the heart as a matter of spirit and truth, and then flows out of the heart to impact every part of our daily life.

The opposite of selfless Christian worship is selfish worship, or idolatry. Idolatry is an unbiblical, unfaithful understanding of God and/or an unbiblical, unfaithful response to Him. Just like true worship, idolatry begins internally long before it manifests itself externally. And like true worship, it eventually flows from our heart to impact every area of our life.

John Calvin famously said, “The human heart is an idol factory.” Because of the sinful tendencies of our heart, we can twist things that are meant to bring glory to God and make them into idols. In other words, sin is not just doing bad things, but also making good things into ultimate things. This turns selfless worship into selfish worship. This is the very issue that Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34Read more of this post

He is Risen: 5 Reasons the Resurrection Matters

 

West Country Safari

This Sunday is the highlight of the Christian year: Easter. Even though Christmas gets most of the attention, Easter is just as, if not more, important. It is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior from the dead, a feat that no other person has ever accomplished on their own. In fact, the resurrection of Jesus three days after His crucifixion is the event that our entire faith and hope hinges on. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul refers to it as a matter of “first importance” and says that “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and our faith is in vain.”

Here are five reasons that the resurrection matters:

  1. Ensures our faith is legit
    The entirety of the Christian faith is dependent on the resurrection of Christ (1 Corinthians 15:12-26). We believe in a living, reigning Savior who is now the exalted head of the church, who is to be trusted, worshiped, and adored, and who will some day return in power and glory to gather His Bride the Church and reign as King over the earth.
  2. Ensures our regeneration
    In His resurrection, Jesus secured for us a new life like His: a human body and spirit perfectly suited for fellowship and obedience to God forever  (1 Peter 1:2-5). We have been “made alive together with Christ and raised up with Him” (Ephesians 2:5-6). The reality of the resurrection gives us the power needed for Christian ministry and obedience to God (Philippians 3:10). This resurrection power also allows us to gain more and more victory over the sin that remains in our lives (Romans 6:14; 1 Corinthians 15:17). In baptism, we see this pictured (Romans 6:4,11).
  3. Ensures our justification
    By raising Jesus from the dead, God declared His approval of Christ’s work of redemption on the cross (Romans 4:25). God was essentially saying there was no penalty left to pay for sin, no more wrath to bear, and no more guilt or punishment. All had been completely paid for by the substitionary, atoning death of Jesus. In saving us, by virtue of our union with Christ, God’s declaration of approval of Jesus is also His declaration of approval of us.
  4. Ensures our future resurrection
    Jesus is the “first fruits” of the new humanity, with bodies that have been made perfect and are no longer subject to weakness, aging, or death (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23, 42-44, 53). In fact, Jesus refers to Himself as the “resurrection and the life” in John 11:25-26. The New Testament connects Jesus’ resurrection with our final bodily resurrection several times (1 Corinthians 6:14, 15:12-58; 2 Corinthians 4:14)
  5. Ensures our eternal reward
    Because of the resurrection, everything we do on earth has eternal significance, both for us and for others. Though we may face struggles and trials here on earth, we are promised a heavenly reward where our suffering for Christ will be repaid (Colossians 3:1-4).

This Easter, remember the vital importance of what we are celebrating: Christ, as an innocent substitute, died the death that we should have died for our sins and then, to show His acceptance of this sacrifice, God the Father raised Jesus from the grave three days later, accomplishing the final victory over sin and death and making the reconciliation between God and humanity possible. What an amazing day!

-Lawson
Learn It. Love It. Live It.

[image credit: Wurz on Flickr]

Movement Requires Action

The Movement.

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at the Harvard Avenue Student Ministry on Wednesday, September 26, 2013

Key Text: Matthew 11:25-30

Any movement requires some sort of catalyst. As Sir Isaac Newton put it, “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” If I want a frisbee to move, I can’t just look at it and hope it moves. I have to pick it up, grip it, and throw it. It requires me to act. Movement is the mission; throwing is the catalyst.

The same is true of the Great Commission Movement (Matthew 28:18-20). We, as believers, must take action to keep it moving forward. Disciples make disciples who make disciples. This is the movement! To be a part of the Great Commission, you must be willing to do some work. You can talk about the Great Commission all you want, but until you strap on the yoke of Christ, you aren’t a part of it.

In Matthew 11:25-30, we see two actions that the Great Commission Movement requires. Being a part of Christ’s mission for believers requires the we practice active dependence and active discipline. Let’s look at each in-depth.  Read more of this post

Finding Opportunities for Fellowship [Guest Post]

ANC Young Adults CG Social 006

[Guest post courtesy of Jasmine Zick on behalf of Kanakuk Kamps. Scroll to the bottom to read more about Jasmine and Kanakuk.]

Commuting. Sitting through meetings. Working late hours.

The life of a young professional can be stressful to say the least. In the hustle and bustle of your average work day, you may feel like your time for worship is increasingly limited. However, fellowship is one of the most important aspects of Christianity—it strengthens faith and provides a community of believers who support each other. How do you make time for both?

Try these tips to fit fellowship into your busy schedule:  Read more of this post

Embracing Suffering

This is the fourth post in the Passion 2013 series. These are my notes from John Pipers’s message on January 3, 2013 at the Passion Conference entitled “ Immeasurably More.”

Key Text: Revelation 5

Jesus is the key that unlocks the mystery of history. Once unlocked, it is clear He’s the center of the story. The reason is worthy to unlock the story is because He is the Lamb that was slain and now reigns as a Lion. He is a lion-like lamb and a lamb-like lion. His death purchased the redemption of people from every nation and people group on the planet. Jesus is infinitely worthy of eternal admiration. The universe exists to display the glory of God in the white hot worship of angels and believers for eternity. The immensity of His worth is reflected in the intensity of our worship. Our worship is the subjective echo of God’s objective worth.  Read more of this post

Worship: The Joyful Feast of God’s Glory

Bubble Gum

This blog post was adapted from a sermon that I gave at Crossroads Fellowship on Sunday, June 24, 2012. To read some of my other sermons, click here.

Do you chew gum? Have you ever thought about why we even have gum? Gum has been around in some form or another for thousands of years going back as far as Ancient Greece. But when you think about it, it really has no purpose: it isn’t able to fill you up, it’s flavor only lasts for a limited amount of time, it eventually makes your jaw sore, and worst of all, it gets stuck on the bottom of our shoes. So why do we still have gum? For many it is because of the short-term enjoyment it brings.

Luckily, most people realize that we can’t survive just by chewing gum. Our physical bodies need real food and water to function. Food sustains us, brings us satisfaction, and enables us to continue with our lives. But what about our spiritual sustenance? Where does it come from?  Read more of this post

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