Posts Tagged With: Christ is King

Great Commission Gone to the Dogs

Christians refer to Jesus’ final words in Matthew as the “Great Commission.” He says

All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

We who claim to follow, worship, obey, love, adore Jesus the Christ; this is our primary mission in the world. It doesn’t get more sexy and thrilling than these plain words: go and make, baptize and teach. So then, let’s look at how Christianity as an institution has been doing here in the west.

Americans spent $51,000,000,000.00 on our pets last year, and look to spend even a couple billion more this year. We love our pets. No, we LOOOOOOOOOOOOVE our pets. I’m one of them – I fawn over my two cats like they were my own flesh and blood.

On the other hand, while it is difficult to get an exact dollar amount that American Christians gave to missions last year, the statistic which is easy to find is this: the average American church gives about 5% of its money to missions and evangelism. Of that already pitiful amount, only about 5% of it goes to reaching the most unevangelized, needy, dark places on earth. Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

What does this say? Very simply, that American churches are filled with mostly lost people who have not been born again, and also that even those who have been born of the Holy Spirit are asleep on the playground of American prosperity. This is hypocrisy of the first order.

We preach Jesus crucified for the sins of the world, but we don’t preach it to the world.

We preach ONE WAY! to get to heaven, but we keep the way to ourselves… unless someone from Iran or Indonesia wants to come to our well-funded building in America and hear our sermon – then they could get the gospel!

We preach that Jesus is more precious than anything, but our money tattle-tales on us. We believe that football, pornography, gourmet food, and pets are much more important than Jesus being preached in all the nations.

We preach that a person must hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in order to be saved, but we send most of our missions money to those places where someone has already preached – leaving the unreached world to… well, the dogs.

I know, I know. Some of you are thinking about how negative and judgmental I am being. Let me assure you I am inside of the group of people I am shaming. I just spent $3,000.00 on a vacation to Grand Cayman while I give $30.00 per month directly to world missions. I’m infected with it too: prosperity and materialism to the core. Does that help you to get past the author, and look back at the statistics?

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Imagine this! 66% of the world population has about 0.0005% of the gospel funding going to it!

Jesus is still King

Even though the majority of the wealth in the world is concentrated here in North America where we hoard it and lavish it on our pets, we cannot lose sight of the reality that Jesus is still King of the cosmos. The One who gave the command to go and make, baptize and teach is still alive, beautiful, and sovereign. Make no mistake, He is at work in the world to call to Himself a great sea of redeemed people. The mission does not depend on our obedience, because then we would be the saviors of the mission. There is only one Savior, and His name is Jesus; Son of God, Messiah, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. He is raising up missionaries and those who will give to missions work. He is giving life and resurrection to the dead souls of sinners throughout the world. He is able and willing to complete the mission for His glory in spite of the North American spiritual malaise.

Here’s the thing though – He still invites you and me to participate through obedience to that simple command – go and make, baptize and teach. If you are breathing, it is not too late to reform your giving practices, to create a place in your schedule where you pray for the salvation of the nations, to become an encourager in your church. God has not yet destroyed the material wealth of the United States – the torch is still in our hand, the opportunity is wide open! Let’s repent of our pet-worshiping, vacation-idolatry, football-mesmerized, self-centered way of life! Today is a new day, and His mercies are new every morning! You still can join in Jesus’ global mission to bring all men to repentance and faith in Him, freed from their idols, joyful in Christ, worshiping the Father in spirit and truth. Are you in?

I’ll leave you with two things: a great idea from a Senior Pastor in San Antonio, and video of a recent sermon by David Platt – a sermon from the 2012 Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville, Kentucky.

The pastor from Texas, Drew Leaver, suggests your church cut its missions budget. I think it’s a cool idea.

And for the David Platt missions sermon, my dad who was there tells me there was not a dry eye in the place as this word went out. I also greatly encourage you to get a copy of Platt’s book “Radical.” Let’s begin to reject hypocrisy from our lives, and joyfully obey Christ in the global mission He has given to us – for which He laid down His own life.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

P.S. If you go away from this feeling condemned, I would only encourage you to turn back to Christ Jesus and receive His unconditional love and forgiveness for your sin. The fuel of Christian missions is not daunting statistics, but rather the gospel power of God – yet we must face the statistics and realize that a once-in-2,000-years opportunity is upon us and is being squandered!

Categories: Interpreting Christian Hypocrisy | Tags: , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Dialogue with a Roman Catholic – Introductory Remarks

In my previous post, “Do Roman Catholics have the Gospel of Christ?“, I discussed the main idea in question between Roman Catholicism and Biblical, Apostolic Christianity. At the end of the post, I visually reproduced a short exchange between myself and a person on Twitter, nickname @LettingOutSmoke. That person has graciously accepted the invitation to dialogue/debate between Letting the Smoke Out and Interpreting the Cosmos – and as far as I can tell, that is just the kind of thing that would honor Christ. A search for and exposition of truth is always bound to end up with a closer proximity to Truth, aka the Lord Jesus Christ. I’m game.

Now for our dialogue, a goal and focus would be a good idea – and LOS (as I’ll call him) has already touched on that on his blog – “The path to salvation.” We could hammer out a long, tedious debate over 1,001 different topics, but I believe to keep it as close to that topic as possible will help us keep as brief and readable as possible.

There was a comment on my last post here by Sparki to which I am replying by way of this post – I’d like to be as condensed and readable as possible. To LOS, like you I would also admit to not being a trained apologetic – my degree is in the writing field and my obsession is theology. I was baptized a Roman Catholic in infancy, but beyond that I was rescued from the treadmill of that religion into the glorious invisible Church of Jesus Christ, by God’s grace alone through the gift of faith alone in Jesus Christ alone upon the testimony and authority of Scripture alone and all to the glory of God alone… so let’s give this a shot, Soli Deo Gloria.

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My Assumptions

God has spoken in the Bible clearly, and with absolute authority as His revelation to man concerning all things about Himself, His work of redemption in history, all matters of proper worship and religion, and things to come in the future. There is no higher authority than the Bible, and men are speaking authoritatively only insofar as they speak in proper alignment with the Word of God. To contradict the doctrines of Scripture is to speak in error against God and His revelation to man, and to do such is at least to be described as dangerous, and should be feared lest we blaspheme and lose our eternal souls.

I assume also that in giving us logic, reason, a spirit, and the witness of the Holy Spirit, that God has meant to be understood in what is written. This is not an esoteric, mysterious book which transcends our ability to interpret meaningfully. The Gnostics, and other cults who seek to gain power over men and women would make that claim so as to have the authority to themselves, but God said to John “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near.” We are to read and understand the Bible under the assumption that God speaks clearly through it’s pages.

LOS, I understand you would probably word some of this differently, and perhaps outright disagree. I don’t mean to debate these things, but I do want to be clear what my foundational assumptions are so that we aren’t completely talking past one another.

My Premise

God is the King of the cosmos. He is Sovereign over all of physical and spiritual life – and so is the great Mover upon mankind. We are discussing the path of salvation, so from a biblical premise, we have to begin by acknowledging God as the Prime Cause of creation and redemption. As the Psalmist wrote “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves.” Psalm 100

I assume we agree there, so I then I will look to an overview of redemptive history next, but before I go there, I want to publish what I have here so far so as to allow LOS to digest it, agree to the set-up, and give me the green light to go forward. Please make any suggestions to help us clarify and simplify, LOS.

-Justin

Categories: Comparative Religions, The Message of the Bible | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

King Christ and The Lizard King – Interpreting the Artistic Power of The Doors pt2

After my first post about The Doors, I received some interesting feedback from an intelligent, well-educated Christian who said she would not have “wasted the ink” writing about Jim Morrison in light of his wickedness. This was no hipster kiddie shooting off her mouth – this lady was there in the late 60’s and followed The Doors in person. I respect her feelings and viewpoint, yet I wonder if as Christians we were to avoid mention or interpretation of people based on their lifestyles, how would we ever speak biblical truth into a lost and dying world? We must speak with clarity and conviction about sin, never making peace with the world, but we also must address the culture in a way that glorifies Christ as King and Sovereign… and how shall we do that if we do not understand and interpret what the culture is doing?

Jim Morrison and The Doors are a key icon of the cultural revolution in the west which has taken place over the past 50+ years. The allure of their artistic power captured the world from 1967-1971, but has also captured millions and millions of young people in each generation since then. Because I love Jesus more than anything, and because He commands me to make disciples of all the nations, I therefore live to make Him known – and in the world of the arts, Jesus is unfortunately quite unknown, not-praised, not-loved and cherished and obeyed and adored as He should be. Think of the irony and craziness! The KING of the universe, the great and greatest artist of them all, and the western world has largely dismissed Him as irrelevant, even a nuisance who gets in the way of true artistic freedom. Christians, hear me – we must be able to interpret the arts and speak biblical truth into this lost community of our neighbors.

Face to Face with Hijacked Beauty

How do we articulate the interpretation of ungodly beauty – or is any beauty ungodly?

We cannot tell people that there is no talent or lovliness in the works of The Doors, (or, for that matter, Jackson Pollack, Led Zepplin, or 1,000 other artists who didn’t love Christ): that would be absurd and would belie the God-given beauty detectors with which we were all born.

People who know and appreciate art and who know good music will laugh us off if we do not have a coherent, biblical answer to these questions. If we believe that the Bible is the best lens through which to interpret our cosmos, then we should fearlessly acknowledge the beauties in the arts.

Yet the question remains for me: if a work of art was not meant to glorify God (in the mind and heart of the artist), is it then forbidden to Christians? The Bible does not give us a clear prescriptive ideal in how to walk this out – we are instead bound by biblical principals of wisdom, love, holiness, etc.

Christ is King, and none other

In the final analysis of the matter, there are far too many people who go beyond recognizing the talents of the Lizard King and place a dead poet in the place of Christ Jesus. Jim Morrison contributed very little to the building up of western civilization, and did much to tear it down in his youthful ignorance. If he died without trusting Christ Jesus, which sadly is most likely the case, then his art will be swallowed up in judgment – and even old Jim will bow to Jesus on that final Day, confessing that all beauty is Copyright Jesus Christ, circa eternity.

For Christians, we acknowledge truly alluring beauties despite their fountain. We also glory in the ultimate reality that all good and all art is breathed into life by that First Mover and Cause, the Lord and King of the Cosmos, Jesus…

So if your conscience allows, go and listen to “Indian Summer”* by The Doors, and give thanks to God who graces even dark people with bright beauties.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

*My wife and I danced to this song at our wedding

Categories: The Arts, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Poem: Come Quickly, Jesus

Northern world, hemisphere,

Something changing, spring is near.

Winter’s old and bony gray,

Will be gone now any day.

Could this be the one…

primavera ultima,

The Spring of springs – when He comes?

Could this be the time…

dia de gracia

The King of kings – Triumphant One!

Coming to free the captive people,

Coming to judge the restless evil…

Could this be His time of return?

April, May, and maybe no June?

Jesus, come, come quickly Lord.

A la tierra tuya, Lord!

Your regenerating hand, upon the land

Upon Your people from Spain

to Japan…

Come quickly, Lord Jesus, please before summer.

We beg as Your bride, and as the Beloved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“…looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.”

Titus 2:13-14 (NASB)

Categories: Artistic Creations | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

One Breath Prayer for Christ’s return

Precious King Jesus, we desire to see You – please return soon to claim Your people, Your cosmos, and Your glory from the jaws of Satan. Amen

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May the way you live your weekend be a blessing and a light to those around you, and may God pour out His treasures of grace on your head as you live, move, and have your being.

Categories: One Breath | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Not World Peace?

Let’s interpret the lack of world peace…

I hear that all religions are essentially the same, moving us towards the same goal or god.

Is that so?

The road to world peace seems to be simply to forget our differences and all hold hands under the banner of love and mutual interest in peace. The United Nations, the World Council of Churches, the Trilateral Commission, and every college professor alive seems to all be geared towards getting everyone together under one big, happy tent of peace and endless joy. What’s the problem?

The problem is that Truth divides. Why? Truth divides because what we believe matters, immensely. Like, beyond description it matters. To compromise Truth is to lose Truth completely…

Simply put…

Let me make it as simple as possible, so simple I open myself up to seeming to be simple. It goes something like this:

All of the false, man-made religions which leave people ultimately undone by the justice of God are philosophies which keep people in the dark, including the many counterfeit forms of Christianity. Again, to put it simply: man is at war with God, and one of our favorite ways of fighting God is to create our own religious systems, to try and earn our way back to Him. This is the root of all war and strife in the world – we are fighting God so of course we fight each other. We are a warlike race. We have been so bold as to declare war on God, on His earth (through greed and environmental rape), on the animal kingdom (in misusing and depleting them), and on each other in endless wars of aggression between individuals, communities, companies, schools, states, countries, and tribes. It all originates with war against God through false religion. The simplest way to see that all false religion is truly false is to spot the common thread:

ALL OF THEM END UP SAYING IT THIS WAY: you must do something in order to get what you need, be it salvation, enlightenment, good feelings, nirvana, academic acclaim, etc etc etc whatever one may call it.

Almost there!

Are you a Buddhist? Roman Catholic? Jehovah’s Witness? Atheist? Self-religionist? Muslim?

I'm sure we're all going to end up in the same place by different paths! Yeah... about that destination.

Agnostic, Pentecostal, hedonist, Baptist, dog, cat, or mouse who thinks you must do something in order to earn something from God or to earn your goodness in the world? (Hint: we all are like this by nature – self-deceived and dead). You (and I) need a strong gospel…

There is only ONE TRUTH, ONE WAY out of all of the religions, philosophies, ideas, and daydreams – the way of Jesus Christ. In Him, and in Him alone is there a different conclusion from all the others. In Him it is not you must do in order to get what you need. No.

In Jesus it is simply: He has done it all for you. He accomplished it…

He has decided to create, He has decided to initiate, He has built and made

and started and begun and assured

ALL

that is necessary to bring men out of darkness, out of rebellion against God, out of their deep, dark pits of sin,

HE

has done it, start to finish – it is accomplished, it is finished, τετελεσται, and He has guaranteed our perfect, seamless, airtight, complete redemption by dying in the place of the enemies of God.

HE

raised Himself from the dead three days later, He then ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father, ruling the cosmos in Sovereign power. No one will unseat Jesus from the throne of the universe. No one will defeat Him. No one can fool Him –

-He is God-

So… simply put, it is an insult to God to claim any contribution to your religion or salvation. All we can do is receive what Christ has done for us on the Roman death cross in dying in our place for our sins – yet even that trusting in Jesus and receiving His payment for our sins is a gift of grace to us who on our own are totally incapable of believing in Him. That’s how bad off we are. That’s how bad we need a Savior. We need Jesus.

Paid in full. Nothing to add.

And… it is therefore impossible to have peace with those who do not believe in these teachings of Christ’s Sovereignty and perfect gift of salvation which cannot be earned, cannot be bought. There you have it, world peace is only possible through all knees bowing to Him, the King. So, what are you waiting for?

The alternative is no world peace

…as humanity struggles to be king through false religion and individual accomplishment… Oh, and to those of you who believe that abolishing religion is the key to world peace, I’m right there with you. I’m with you as long as the we agree the Abolisher is Jesus, and He has promised to do so when He returns in glory to announce the consummation of His eternal, unchallenged reign. When that happens, all falsehood will cease, everyone who has loved Him will have peace, and all who have set-up a religion or philosophy which is against Him will then lose everything in judgment… just to put it simply.

Which kingdom are you in?

Life or Death

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Categories: Comparative Religions, The Message of the Bible, Understanding the Culture | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

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