Defense of The Gospel

…I am put here for the defense of the gospel. Philippians 1:16

What are we defending these days? It seems that preachers, editors, lecturers, bloggers, and others spend a lot of time defending positions on a variety of subjects. It’s always good to have a discussion….dialogue. But what of this clamoring of swords and shields? Why are we deciding if people are going to heaven or hell based upon their position on _____________________ (you fill in the blank: women’s roles, instrumental music, Bible translations, kitchen in the building, denominationalism, premillennialism, baptism, name of the church, etc.). We can make judgments so easily and then set about to defend them … arming ourselves as apologists of the faith. Only it’s not the gospel we’re defending, it’s our theological territory that we’ve staked out.

Much of Paul’s strongest admonitions in the New Testament are not addressed to nuances of interpretation among dedicated disciples, but to those who were truly doing damage to the gospel. I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— which is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-7). Paul’s defense of the gospel is characterized by strongly teaching people to trust Jesus and not lawkeeping / their own righteousness to save them. He does address some cultural concerns in the various congregations and even inserts his own opinion at times. But the nature of these teachings is, in my view, much different that the kinds of things that are labeled today as “defending the gospel“.

One thing that separates what the Apostle Paul did in defending the gospel and what is done today in that name is that Paul was an inspired individual who wrote by virtue of the guidance of the Holy Spirit. I get the idea when I read some of our journals that the editors believe they are penning Galatians II. While it is good to consider what men write, it is not incumbent upon the church to adopt the opinions expressed. Being thought of as “faithful” by certain camps is to be in line with their interpretations on matters not clearly addressed in Scripture. Even more troubling are teachings that are clearly addressed in Scripture that are ignored by modern churches.

Examples:

We have rules about women not being allowed to pass communion or lead singing or pray in the worship assembly – topics that are met with total silence in Scripture. But there is evidence in  1 Corinthians that women did pray and speak (prophecy) when the church was gathered – which almost never happens within the Churches of Christ.

We generally remain uninvolved in the issues of poverty and social justice – and yet the early church, after whom we claim to pattern oursleves, was sacrificial in their efforts to relieve the poverty of others. Often we do well in specialized events or a temporary focus, but when will we make this a hallmark of who we are at our core?

We remain disconnected from our communities and unable to bring ourselves to share the good news with the lost, paralyzed by fear and claiming ignorance. A quick reading through the book of Acts would have one wondering what would have happened to the church in the beginning if they had the same evangelistic dread and fear from which we suffer?

Gender justice, poverty, and evangelism are three huge fields that need our attention and action (not just sentimentalities). These are Gospel issues … the kinds of things that do not develop out of men thinking up rules for the church to follow … but that find themselves at the heart of the message of Jesus. These Gospel issues (and others) need to become front and center in our individual lives. We cannot wait for the generic church to make the first move, but rather the specific individual needs to boldly begin to act out this gospel in his/her life. In other words, in what ways TODAY will I purposefully live out the kingdom message? We must keep our focus on Jesus and let his pure teachings be the beacon of our hearts. Maybe we need to ask ourselves … what does Jesus think is the most burning issue in the church today? I think His answer would be different from ours. Defend the Gospel by Living the Gospel… Good news for lost and broken people … Redemption is near!

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We had a great weekend! Maggy and I drove up to the Delta Thursday night and were able to visit with many in her family. Friday morning we left for Little Rock and enjoyed a relaxing Friday evening and Saturday morning. Then we drove to Conway to the home of Dusty and Crystal Rush. They were great hosts. We had supper with Crystal’s parents. Her dad came and worked a week at my house early on. They are wonderful people. We enjoyed getting to know the four kiddos! I don’t want to leave out Betty and Wilma, kiddos of the canine sort. I preached Sunday morning at University Church of Christ – a wonderful church family. They supplied a good bit of our support for 2007 and I wanted to thank them in person. It was  joy to meet Doug Williams and his wife. I was also glad to see Seth Simmons,  Jason Turner, Mason Puckett, and Clint Peterson. I met a precious young lady who reads the blog and I’ve forgotten her name… please leave a comment and remind me! It’s a bloggin’ church! I was able to get a podcast interview with Dusty and will let you know here when that is posted. We had a safe trip home. The Kilberns were headed out on a trip and we intersected in Winona, MS and had supper together last night. It’s good to be home but it was a wonderful weekend. Our thanks to the Rush family and their warm hospitality. We missed being at Central but it sounds like all went well without us!

Clif offers links and ideas on how to teach service.

I didn’t watch the MTV awards but did read a report about the event. For some reason I got a kick out of a quote by P. Diddy. It came after Britney Spears’ awful performance (as reported by most everyone) and a fight in the audience between Pamela Anderson ex husbands Kid Rock and Tommy Lee. Diddy said, “It’s not just the hip-hop artists that sometimes have a problem.” Justin Timberlake was the big winner of the night. MTV came along when I was a teenager, fodder for raging pulpits and blocked by strict parents. It’s descended a long way from the days when Martha Quinn was a VJ introducing a new video from Van Halen or some such.

There supposedly will be a new Bin-Laden tape tomorrow, the sixth anniversary of 9-11. Are you worried about potential attacks on this anniversary date?

A good continuing discussion on the subject of “After an Affair” can be found on Danny’s blog.

For those who are still not using GOOGLE READER or are contemplating it…Here’s some info. Go to google.com and do a search for GOOGLE READER. I think it’s http://google.com/reader If you do not have a google account, create one (free). Then at the reader there is a place to enter “add subscription” … Just visit each of the blogs you want to keep up with in another window, cut and paste their address into the ‘add subscription’ field. Then bookmark your GOOGLE READER page. Whenever you want to read blogs, just go to the google reader page and if there are new posts on your favorite blogs they’ll be listed.

There are two downsides:

*You cannot post a comment from this page. You can click on the blog and go there and do it…pretty easy and quick.

*You cannot read other’s comments from this page. Again, you can click on the blog and go there if you are interested in what others have said.

I think this is a great blog reading solution! It saves me an enormous amount of time!

I should get some kind of promotional fee from Google, eh?

Thanks for reading!

john

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