Sunday, October 11, 2009

Did father Abraham really have many sons?

Well, if you grew up in a Sunday School like I did, you probably already have an answer for that. Of course he did, and many sons had Father Abraham, too. But, being the antagonist that I am, I have to ask: what does Scripture say?

In our study of Galatians, we find ourselves this week in the latter half of chapter 3 where Paul makes a startling statement about this Abrahamic lineage. Whereas Paul's Jewish opponents in the church would have been firmly rooted in their belief that their descent from Abraham warranted their higher importance in God's view, Paul has a new revelation for them. "The Scripture does not say 'and to seeds,' meaning many people, but 'and to your seed,' meaning one person, who is Christ" (Galatians 3:16).

The promise, specifically that of inheriting the aptly deemed "Promised Land," was given not to many children of Abraham, but to one. In the words of the Apostle Paul, God had in view just one of Abraham's seed that would inherit the land as promised. Now, Paul was no amateur Bible scholar, either. The Hebrew does indeed support the singular use of this term. So what do we make of it?

By contrast, of course, the Jews would quickly recall Moses' words in Deuteronomy 32:46-47. At this second reading of the Law, the young nation was promised that if they obeyed fully they "will live long in the land." That was the promise, after all. God swore on oath to give Abraham's seed the land of Canaan. Now, here they are at the border of the land and God promises them that it will indeed be theirs... on one condition. Obey fully.

But this kind of agreement, Paul points out, is not consistent with the idea of a promise. It's two-sided and conditional, and put in place by a Mediator. "A mediator, however, does not represent just one party; but God is one" (Galatians 3:20). God is one and in His promise it was He alone who would ensure the inheritance. So, is there conflict here? Does the Law as stated above contradict the promise?

"Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not!" (Galatians 3:21). In fact, there was one person who pulled it all off. By the Law, one man did obey fully. He did fulfill the Law--every letter. He did earn His inheritance just as God had promised. Christ, the God-man! Jesus Christ, the seed of Abraham and begotten of the Father, inherited the land according to the promise.

"Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham" (Galatians 3:7). By faith, we are not only adopted, saved, forgiven, justified, and made pure for presentation to God. We're made into the very image of Christ. We are "clothed" in Him. All the perfection that He accomplished is imputed to us, and in so multiplying the person of Christ by imputing Himself onto His people, God is making Abraham's one seed as numerous as the sands on the seashore.

As the song goes: "Father Abraham had many sons. Many sons had Father Abraham. I am one of them..." Are you?

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Positive Spin on Adultery

HA! I got you to read the article, didn't I? No, of course there's no positive spin on the act of adultery. None whatsoever. But, hopefully I can help you to see what I mean when I say "a positive spin."

When I began my study of the 7th commandment these past few weeks preparing for this Sunday's lesson, I realized I had to start with a definition of adultery. And, once there, I was forced to define marriage. Without an understanding of the underlying framework, the commandment is worthless to us as Christians. So, what is marriage? No. Let me restate: what was marriage to the hearers of this covenant in 1500 BC?

Marriage was a societal institution. It protected women, giving them an identity and a purpose in society not elsewhere realized. It provided much benefit to men--domestic support, sexual pleasure, and a general status of having "grown up" into manhood. It completed both partners. And, most of all, it did all of this because that's how it was designed by God. The two become one, they complete one another, they interact with one another in a way that (ideally) preserves equality without disregarding their inherent differences.

And, if you haven't caught on, God didn't just do this so we could all have sex and make babies. Marriage is a picture of God's relationship to Israel. In unity with Him Israel found an identity and purpose not elsewhere realized. God receives their ministry, their worship, and is glorified on earth through Israel. It delighted God to love Israel. And, Israel was treasured and shown to be valuable even while they were submitted to God's authority.

Does that last part sound impossible? Does it sound impractical and chauvinistic to think that my wife can submit to me and glorify me and yet not be devalued in the process? I hope not. Jesus did it. Remember, He's submitted to the Father in hierarchy but nonetheless exalted and God Himself. (1 Corinthians 11, and for more good reading on the subject read Wives and Husbands)

So, that brings us to the issue of adultery, then. What is adultery? It's thumbing one's nose at the covenant of marriage. It's a bride saying to her husband, "I will disgrace you, not serve you." It's a husband saying to his bride, "The respect of you alone is not enough for me, I will find others and build a harem." Adultery disrespects the covenant God made with Israel. It defiles it. It dishonors it. It violates it.

So what are we to do? Is it enough that we do not commit adultery? Can we just abstain and be safe? Israel tried this. They drew their lines and found their loop holes. "I'll just think about it, but not act." One man might think. Or, "I'll act privately as a measure of controlling my lusts." another might have concluded. But Jesus came along and closed off the loop holes. He cut out the comfort zone.
"Anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away... And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away." -- Matthew 5:28-30
Oh, great. Now what can I do. Here's an idea: take a positive spin on adultery. When we focus on what we ought not do, we tend to forget the fervor with which we ought to do many things. Love your wife as Christ loved the church. Submit to your husband as to the Lord. Have sex often. Enjoy one another's company. In short: invest passionately in your marriage. Do not commit adultery, instead, "Rejoice in the wife of your youth" (Proverbs 5:18).

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Taking the Lord's Name in Vain

Ever since I was young, the conventional application of the 3rd commandment has never set well with me. There is a tradition, handed down in our churches and ingrained in our societal standards, that this commandment forbids the expletive use of the word "god." I was never allowed to say, "oh my God!" much less issue a petition for damnation (I'll let you interpolate the phrasing).

Here was my struggle: tucked in between two introductory commandments and a fourth commandment, all of which dealt with core theological and pragmatic issues, I'm supposed to accept that God included a ban on Jews running around using the expression "Oh my Yahweh!" It just didn't fit. I'm no linguist, but I was pretty sure that expression wasn't around back then. Could it be that there's something much more significant God wants us to see in this commandment?

Let's begin with the Name. Of course, we all know that g-o-d is not the real name of God. What is God's name? I AM. Yet, there must be something more transcendent about this name than just the configuration of letters (after all, that's not even the original language). No, a name bears one's power. Their authority. The Romans had a saying, "There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved but the name of Caesar." It implied their emperor's power to save. Imagine the shock of Peter's hearers when he turned this truth toward another name. The name of Jesus.

The temple in 1 Kings 5:5 was built, not for God, but for God's Name. In Malachi 1:11, God says that it is His Name that will be great among the nations. Jesus commanded His followers to baptize people in the Name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. We get the picture that one's name is his power, his authority... even his reputation. The 3rd commandment is the first trademark law. God is, in essence, protecting His brand.

How could one defame God's Name by their use of it? By "taking" it. The word for taking could be translated carry, lift up, or one might say to "wield" His name. God showed His might and power. Demanded exclusivity. Declared Himself too great for any depiction by an image. And then, what is Israel to do with such a mighty power? Can they "take" it whenever they wish? No. God's name--His power--must not be invoked in vain. It must not be invoked for empty, worthless reasons.

And now we again get to ask ourselves, how do we today take the Lord's name in vain? Is it in flippant use? Perhaps. But I think there are far deadlier breaches of this command each day in the Christian faith. Bearing the very name of the incarnate God, "Christians" are His priests, His ambassadors speaking His truth to the world. Do we bear that name in vain? Or worse, every time we bow our heads in prayer, do the words "in Christ's name we pray, amen" flow with reverence, or in vanity?

If we look beyond the societal norms that stem from this command, we allow the scripture to speak a convicting message. I am challenged to fully understand and hold with great reverence the privilege of pray and the call to be His priesthood.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

A Covenant of Identity

Yesterday, as we kicked off our study of the 10 Commandments, we faced the difficult question for Christians studying the Law: "Why do I care?" Some positions, critically referred to as "cheap grace" or "free grace," leave little reason to study such statutes in view of the unconditional love of Christ. While still others, even the most staunch of reformers, can't quite affirm that a failure to adhere would equate in damnation or loss of salvation. So, what are we to get from the Old Testament, the old covenant, and the Law that will benefit us as Christians?

The underlying issue with both positions which I (admittedly caricatured slightly) introduced above is that they both fail to see the covenants as anything more than justifying measures. The former covenant justified by repeated sacrifice. The latter did so by Christ's death. Nonetheless, emphasis in the debate falls firmly on the matter of our justification. But was that the premise of the old covenant? Is it the premise of the new?

In Exodus 19:5-6, God introduces the covenant to Moses saying, "If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then..." What? You'll be saved from Hell? You'll enter Heaven? No. God's covenant was to make Israel His "treasured possession... a kingdom of priests and a holy nation." His covenant was to turn a people who were nothing but helpless slaves into a nation with their own land and borders. His purpose was for them to be His priests on earth, holy for His service.

Did that all change when Christ instituted the new covenant on the cross? Did He die for anything different? No. Christ died, fulfilling the justification requirements to make us righteous, holy, and blameless--ready for service unto God. He redeemed us from bondage to sin, wherein we were helpless slaves, and turned us into something not dissimilar to the recipients of the first covenant: "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9).

God's holy standard--that which would make His treasured people stand apart from the world--has not changed. In the 10 commandments we find the standard of how a holy people behave. The convicting thought, then, is that we as the Church are indeed God's holy people. So, hey you holy people: be holy!

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Inscriptions for Your Doorposts: Intro to the 10 Commandments

This Sunday I'll be starting a new series for the quarter on the 10 commandments. Being a marketer by trade, however, I'm always thinking of creative names for classes. We've chosen to title this "Inscriptions for Your Doorposts"--a reflection of Deuteronomy 6:9, where God tells Israel just how close these commands should be to their everyday life.

Over the next 12 weeks, you'll see me writing and posting Mp3 Lectures on the 10 Commandments. But, this week is the introductory class. What many Christians struggle to understand as they look at the commands is how they apply to our lives today.

Sure, we should behave well. We should follow a moral standard. We should obey God. But once anyone starts contemplating the Law on a theological level, it can get to be a sticking point of legalism vs. justification by faith. Why do I follow these laws? Why do I observe religious code in obedience to God? What do I write them on my doorposts? Aren't I forgiven--freed from the Law?

As we'll discuss in detail this Sunday (and my readers can enjoy via Mp3 when it's uploaded by Monday) the Law of the Old Covenant was a covenant of identity. So often, we focus on the justification and forgiveness of sin as the sole end of God's covenant with Man, we forget that Christ died to set us apart; to make us holy and worthy of serving God.

God introduces the 10 commandments in Exodus 19:4-6 describing how He'd freed them from bondage in Egypt. He turned a helpless tribe into a great nation by His power so they might be His treasured possession. The correlation, then, should be very clear as He later speaks through Peter to the church under the New Covenant saying,
"You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God" (1 Peter 2:9-10).

So, as we consider our identity--the Church chosen by God to be His people and declare His praises on earth--we should study with great interest the holy standards by which God commanded His covenant nation Israel to live.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

In My Fathers House There Are Many Rooms...

This post comes in response to a question posed by Tabatha at AskScripture.com. Tabatha (a self-proclaimed Jew) writes:
There is, I seem to recall, a beautiful piece of writing in the Christian bible; I don't know all of it but it starts with, I think: 'My father's house has many mansions'...?

I've always liked it, though I don't remember where I first read or heard it. It would just be great to learn a bit about the full piece of text?

How do you interpret that first line?

Thanks for asking, Tabatha. I have to admit that I'm hesitant at first--knowing from our past exchanges that you're much more familiar with Jewish tradition than I--to add my commentary on this passage, but I trust that what the Lord has to say through this passage will not be hindered by my commentary. I hope, in fact, that He uses me to illuminate in a way that's glorifying to Him.

The passage comes from John 14:2, during what is called the Passion Week that led up to Jesus' crucifixion. Jesus had predicted his own death in chapter 12, to His own disciples' dismay. Then, in the scene that immediately precedes this text, Jesus then foretells that it will be the denial and betrayal of His own disciples that will lead to His death. Peter, specifically, says He will "follow" Jesus where He goes--which is of course, to death--but Jesus predicts just the opposite for Peter.

Now, we also know from the other parallel accounts of this occasion (the synoptic Gospels) that it was at this very meal where Jesus declares the "New Covenant" in His blood. This brings us, at last to the context of the house and the rooms. One of the clearest descriptions of the old and new covenants is found in Jeremiah 31:32, where God describes the new covenant in this way:
"It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they broke my covenant,
though I was a husband to them,"

Both covenants, New and Old are likened to that of marriage. God was a "husband" to Israel, leading them by the hand--an affectionate term. Likewise, the Church is called the bride of Christ in Ephesians 5:32. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that the covenant of marriage is modeled after God's covenant with His people, rather than that His covenant is modeled after marriage. (See The Nuptial Gospel for deeper discussion)

And so, at last I've laid the contextual groundwork for dissecting the passage of Scripture in question. In John 14:1-4, Jesus tells his disciples:
"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going."

Although the Latin Vulgate and the King James versions both translated "rooms" as "mansions"--the better understanding would be "rooms." Literally, it's a dwelling place. But, whereas we consider a dwelling place to be it's own freestanding home, not so in the lower classes of this culture--such as the fisherman, carpenters, and so on. The custom practice was for a bridegroom to work during the year of his engagement on building a new addition, like a lean-to, onto his father's house. This would be where he and his new bride would live in the years after their marriage until, hopefully, someday he could begin his own family or inherit his father's house.

Jesus' message here to His disciples is that, though He is leaving them for a while, He is still their groom. He goes to prepare a place for them in the Father's house. Similar to the first covenant, which was established by the blood of a bull and mediated through Moses, Jesus here is giving a poignant metaphor for the love and care that is represented in the New Covenant, which He was about to confirm by His own blood (Luke 22:20) and would mediate Himself as our high priest (Hebrews 4:14-15).

And if He is departing temporarily, but remains their promised groom, then He certainly will return for them. That is the assurance He offers in verse 3. The eschatological meaning of this is still debated, but whether it is a pre-tribulation rapture that is in view, the descent of the new Jerusalem, or simply a metaphorical description of their reuniting at their own death, the end result cannot be mistaken. We will live in an everlasting loving relationship with God.

In the verses that follow, Jesus goes on to describe the mysterious relationship between Himself and God, their unity as one God-Head, and yet the distinction of Jesus as "the way" to the Father. For a more in depth look at this topic, refer to We Beheld His Glory, We Beheld His Glory Part II, Learning from the Kenosis, and Christ the Mediator.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Christians, Messianics, and Jews

I have been enjoying an exchange of thought and positions with a blogger who calls himself "A Jew with a View." The more I read about his "bouts" with the Messianic Jews, the more I tend to realize that Christianity thinks that a Jew is something entirely different than an orthodox Jew does. Nomenclature is the root of so many arguments.

First, I have to confess that I can understand and relate to several points he has made stating that Jews themselves define what Judaism is, and it excludes those who worship a man--even the God-Man. So, in other words, the prevailing argument is that Messianics are not Jews.

However, I would like to propose that what is meant by Messianics and Christians by the term "Jew" is not the same definition as what an orthodox Jew might mean, and as such, if we can dissect the issue there may be less of an argument.

Messianics (and all Christians who actually understand orthodox theology... probably an equally minor proportion as in Judaism) understand that what it means to be Jewish is to be an Israelite in covenant with the One God wherein, among many other facets, sins are forgiven by expiation through a sacrifice.

If in fact Judaism and Christianity can agree up to this point, then the key difference is not in whether a person follows Jewish interpretation of the covenant--or rather, an acceptable New Covenant as described by the Prophet Jeremiah--but whether their interpretation is in fact one Jewish interpretation.

At this point, it's prudent to point out that there is a varying viewpoint on theology even among those who call themselves Jews today--ranging from orthodox to apostate.

So, the fact remains that a few Pharisees (Paul & Nicodemus), a zealot (Peter), a Rabbi (Jesus), and several fisherman and carpenters who were all themselves Jews were the originators of this new, albeit unorthodox, interpretation of the Hebrew scriptures which undergird Christian theology and Christology. So, is the Jew with a View right in claiming that Messianics are not Jewish? That they have no claim to the name "Jewish?" I don't think so.

If by this point in reading this post you're entirely lost... I would encourage you to read up on the arguments made at http://ajewwithaview.wordpress.com and, if you are so inclined, join the discussion!

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Nuptial Gospel

By now, the term "social gospel" is pretty widely known, but what's the nuptial gospel? I'll tell you... it's a made up term I just invented. Or at least I think I did. Although I haven't done my due diligence in a trademark and patent search, it was new to me when I thought of it last night.

The social gospel, stripped of it's theologically debatable earmarks and connotations, is at it's heart the principal that THE gospel can (or should, depending on who you ask) be conveyed in the genuine care for those socially needy. This is a Biblical concept, no doubt. "Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it" (James 2:15-16)?

In an opportunity that the Spirit created and led me through last night, I found a similar connection between the familiar (felt needs) and the unfamiliar (the gospel to non-believers) that proved very useful. What can a man understand and relate to the love of God if he is not "socially needy." In this case, the married man struggling in his marriage could relate to the covenant love that God has modeled for us.

"Why does she need to deserve your love?" I asked. He didn't quite know what to say. The answer was exceedingly obvious to him, doesn't everyone need to work to deserve love? I explained that her attitude and actions toward him would be more positively effected if he focused less on correcting her (or "parenting" her as he put it) but simply on loving her unconditionally and caring for her. From a psychological standpoint, it made sense to him how this was sound advice.

With that established, I decided now would be a good time to break all social etiquette and bring God up in the midst of a perfectly good normal conversation. "You know, that's what God does for us," I said. His blank stare let me know I had the opportunity to say more. I explained how marriage isn't just something we invented. If we (men, that is) made it up in our own wisdom, we wouldn't have chosen to be monogamous nor would we reserve sex for marriage. To this observation, I received a glowing agreement and buy in... the Spirit was moving.

"So, who made it up? God did. And He told us that, when it's working well, it mimics the way He loves us." Now we're getting somewhere. I was able to make the correlation between his appropriate love for his wife and God's love for his people. "It's nice for me to know that when I screw up, divorce isn't an option for God. That's why it's not an option for me and my wife."

Did He get on his knees and convert? No. But for the first time in a long time I was able to engage this friend in an overt and open discussion about God, His Son, and man that didn't end in a scoff at my faith or an awkward lack of response. So, am I ready to formulate the "nuptial gospel" as a church-wide strategy for conversions? No. But I did find it's effectiveness very moving, and I was grateful to God for giving me the words. I share it today because perhaps your looking for that open door with someone you know. Are they married? Give it a shot.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Adultered and Killed, then Born Again:
The Relationship of the Atonement

In our exploration of the Person and Work of Christ, we have come to the pinnacle work of Christ: the Atonement. Last week we looked in depth at the religious aspects of the atonement—the sacrificial and substitutionary aspects—while this week we discuss the relationship aspects. The relationship of God to Man is most commonly paralleled to the marriage covenant (or vise versa, technically speaking). So, how does the atonement, Christ's death on the cross, fit into our marriage with God?

In Jeremiah 31:32, God delivers a shocking verdict: "they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them." This is the picture of an adulterous wife, forsaking her husband for the sinful pleasures of another man. That is Israel, and that was even us who now make up the Church. But God makes an amazing promise in Jeremiah 31. He will establish a new covenant with them. He will remarry an adulterous wife!

As if the mercy of this new covenant offer were not amazing enough, the mystery deepens as we investigate further just what adultery meant in the Law. The punishment for adultery was death (Lev. 20:10). Another option, however, presents itself later in Deuteronomy 24, divorce, which is later cited by the pharisees in Matthew 19:7. When we read the parameters from Deuteronomy 24:4, we learn that even after divorce the Law forbids a husband to remarry the adulterous wife. In the case of God, it would be as though He sent us away to serve other gods for a time, only to change His mind and bring us back to Him. It cannot be so. We are defiled, unholy, and unable to enter into covenant relationship with God.

So then, we are left with one conclusion. With regard to our status, "What a wretched man I am!" and with regard to our sentence, "Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Romans 7:24). God deals with our adultery according to Leviticus 20, not Deuteronomy 24. He pronounces the sentence of death, not divorce. He chooses to propitiate His wrath in the death of His Son rather than divorce us and seal our fate in everlasting covenant with our idols and with satan.

It is here, in the choosing of a death sentence rather than divorce, that we see the providence of God in stunning ways. Dead with Christ, we are now dead to the Law (Romans 6-7). Given new birth, we are new creatures (2 Corinthians 5). As new creatures with the lawful wrath satisfied, we can finally see how God is both just and the one who justifies. He could not re-marry us if we did not first die, but we have indeed died with Christ and are given new life through His resurrection (1 Peter 1:3; Romans 6:4).

"Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" -- Romans 7:25

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Monday, December 1, 2008

Wives & Husbands - Part II

A few weeks ago I wrote about a topic that is constantly on the forefront of doctrinal battles: The roles of Wives & Husbands. As a follow-up to that post, and to that topic in general, I just wanted to take a few minutes to share something that I found very moving during one of my recent times in the Word.

I love to write. So, often times as I'm doing self-study I end up writing thoughts. Some day, they may be compiled into a book. Who knows. In any case, there are those rare times when my fingers move faster than my mind and I just get passionate about a topic and "on a role" so to speak. Now, there are two possible outcomes of those excited and unbridled ramblings. It's either extremely inspiring and a magnificent art of writing or extremely undecipherable and worthy of a good hack at the backspace key. I'd like to think that this was the former.

I was considering the concept of a "treasured possession" and its significance in theology. Without really thinking, I began to type. I'd like to share with you the ramblings that left me with no other thought at the end other than to truly treasure my wife and to commend her publiclcy for the ways she honors me:

Like the Sons of God in Genesis 6, God chose a people with whom to initiate a covenant of love, and this covenant was also likened to marriage. God spoke to Israel, "Your Maker is your husband—the Lord almighty is His name" (Isaiah 54:5).

Why would God "marry" mere mortals? What prompts Him to display such amazing love and mercy? To be sure, we can never understand precisely why He chose to do so. What we do know, however, is that it was not based on Israel's merit. They did not deserve this covenant. God says, "It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity" (Deut. 9:5).

We also know God's intended effect for His choice. We know why, if not for their merit, He treasured His possession, Israel. "You will be my treasured possession," said the Lord, "…you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:5-6). A kingdom of priests, made holy and consecrated for His worship, Israel would bring praise to God on earth. They were instruments of His praise and worship. Just as a good wife reflects well upon the husband who loves her, so would the world look to Israel and see the glory of the one who "treasures" her.

Husbands, if you desire honor and respect from your wife, treasure her! Wives, honor your husband who treasures you.

For more detail, listen to my expository teaching on 1 Peter 3:1-7 in mp3 format.

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Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Church

From 9:00 to Noon on Sunday mornings, an hour and half out to eat for lunch with the group, 2 hours Wednesday night, and 2 hours Monday night... we could spend up to 8.5 hours each week "at church" in one way or another. Add in meetings, caring for other members, one-on-one accountability, Bible studies, personal quiet time, and before you know it you've got a part-time job just being a church member. So, for something that consumes so much of our lives (ideally, all of it) I thought it might be worthwhile to take a look at what "the Church" really is.

For the next 5 weeks, leading up to Kendra's and my departure to Southeast Asia, we will be going through a study of the Church. This Sunday, we'll start with the identiy of the church. What makes the church, why is it special, how did it come to be, and what does that mean to you?

To begin, we must start at the beginning. God's covenant with the Church is called a "new covenant," so what happened to the old one? What relation (if any) exists between Israel and the Church? How is the Church identified today... is it similar to Israel in it's identity, or not? How so?

In the weeks to come, we'll explore several major topics on the Church:

  1. Metaphors for the Church that are found in the New Testament
  2. The function, order, and ordinances of the Church
  3. The role of the Church in the world and your role in the Church

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