For those who'll be watching The Gospel of Judas episode on National Geographic (which will be airing in a few minutes as I write this) and who might think that this gospel is no more, no less than "gospel truth", better read what James White has to say about it here.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
(A sermon preached to high school students)
"Whoever says that he lives in God should live just as Jesus Christ did."
(I John 2:6, TEV)
This is an important question because (1) the world is watching whether we're genuine or not (2) and the world is wondering whether we really have something to offer that will make a difference. For many people we're the only Jesus they'll ever see. The main answer to the question What Would Jesus Do? is: Jesus would do that which would glorify his Father. "Father bring glory to your name." (John 12:28) "I showed your glory on earth." (John 17:4) In particular:
I. JESUS LISTENED TO HIS FATHER'S WORD. "… the Father who has sent me has commanded me what I must say and speak." (John 12:49) "… I have told you everything I heard from my Father." (John 15:15) Are we also taking time to listen to the Father's word? Do we regularly read the Bible?
II. JESUS OBEYED HIS FATHER'S WILL. "My food is to obey the will of him who sent me." (John 4:34) Are we obedient? Do we obey God's will for our lives especially as it is found in the Bible?
III. JESUS DID HIS FATHER'S WORK. " My Father works always, and I too must work." (John 5:17; c.f., John 4:34 and John 17:4). Jesus was a carpenter for most of his life; he preached for only around 3 years. If we want to be like Jesus and to do as he did we should be diligent in the work God has called us to do. The Bible teaches that God saves people so that they can do the good works which God has prepared for them to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10) We should be "zealous for good works" and "not slothful in business."
IV. JESUS LOVED HIS FATHER'S WORLD. (John 3:16). He shared his Father's love for the world by dying on the cross for our sins. Do we also have this same love for the world? Do we share the gospel of God's love with those who need to know about it? And do we live out the gospel in terms of loving acts?
“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his work for peace. It destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”
— THOMAS MERTON, Conjectures of A Guilty Bystander, (Image Books, 1968 ed.) p. 86
"To hear the voice of God in Holy Scripture oneself, and to help others to hear it, is a worthy cause to which to devote one's resources; to be commissioned to devote them to this cause is a sacred trust, not to be undertaken lightly, not to be refused irresponsibly, but to be fulfilled thankfully.""
— F.F. BRUCE, In Retrospect (Baker Book House, Posthumous Edition, p. 312)
“There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.”
– Aragorn in Tolkien’s The Two Towers
Ben Myer's Faith and Theology blog is probably the best theological blog on the net today. He's got great quotes, some podcast lectures on Karl Barth and a lot of other interesting theological stuff. Check it out here.
A couple of days ago I was out of town. Where did I go then during my free time? Of course, into a second-hand bookshop – Book Shop at SM! And – lo and behold! – 2 great finds:
- Catholicism by Richard P. McBrien
- The Political Ideas of St. Thomas Aquinas (The Hafner Library of Classics)
Second-hand bookstores are such a blessing! Click on the pics to get more info on these books. Even though I'm an evangelical it's mandatory to learn all I can about Catholicism if I want to be a Filipino theologian worthy of the name.
“Never, in peace or war, commit your virtue or your happiness to the future. Happy work is best done by the man who takes his long-term plans somewhat lightly and works from moment to moment ‘as to the Lord’. It is only our daily bread that we are encouraged to ask for. The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received.”
— C.S. LEWIS, The Essential C.S. Lewis (First Touchstone Edition 1996) p. 376
“What is it that true theology aims at? To gain understanding and wisdom in gospel mysteries by experience of personal knowledge of God in Christ, to gain an insight into the marvels of God’s plans and covenants through the ages, and to experience and partake of spiritual worship and obedient faith…. Above all, let those who undertake the study of theology and have no wish to squander away their time and efforts always keep in mind that their aim is to attain wisdom, and that wisdom is the spiritual, saving wisdom of the gospel.”
— JOHN OWEN, Biblical Theology (Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2nd ed., 1996) p. 694
Last Sunday I preached on “Honoring Christ” from Philippians 1:12-20. Here’s the outline (point 1 was actually adapted from Warren Wiersbe’s N.T. Commentary):
We honor Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino because they died for our country’s freedom. With all the more reason we should honor the Lord Jesus Christ because he died to set us free from the penalty and power of our sins (II Cor. 5:15). But how precisely do we do that? The example of Paul in prison gives us an idea of how we can honor Christ.
I. WE HONOR CHRIST BY REJOICING IN HIM IN SPITE OF CIRCUMSTANCES.
A. Paul was in chains, but instead of complaining he rejoiced because:
1. His chains gave him contact with the lost (Phil. 1:13)
a. The elite praetorian guard
b. The officers in Caesar’s court
NOTE: God is able to over-rule our “unfortunate” circumstances to further his own purpose of saving many lives. And if we realize this, we will rejoice instead of complaining. Examples: Susannah Wesley was the mother of 19 children – a very heavy burden – but she raised up John and Charles Wesley – the one, a great evangelist; the other, a great hymn writer. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt and, to make matters worse, was cast into prison for a crime he didn’t commit. But God meant it for good, to save many lives (Gen. 50:20). I have read somewhere that, a long time ago, Vikings from the North would sometimes raid Christian villages, abduct the women from that place and make them their wives. But God used these very same women to witness to their husbands, thus resulting in their salvation. I know of a man who used to be an officer of a certain bank, but the bank became bankrupt. Today that man is a pastor, used by God in the saving of souls. So you see, God is in control of our circumstances, no matter how difficult they may be. For all we know God has allowed our circumstances to be what they are because he intends to save souls. Precisely because Paul was a prisoner the gospel reached Rome. And precisely because he was a prisoner he had access to the Praetorian Guard; the case would probably have been otherwise had he been free! Therefore let us not be dismayed by the circumstances God has allowed us to be in. For all we know our very failures, our very difficulties, are the very circumstances God intends to use to lead people to Christ.
2. His chains gave courage to the saved.
Yesterday I told the group of policemen I was preaching to that one reason why I am preaching today is because my late father – a dialysis patient during the closing years of his life – continued to preach the gospel even though he was to weak to stand; he preached sitting in his wheelchair. His example continues to inspire and encourage me.
B. Inspite of his critics Paul rejoiced because Christ was preached.
Paul was Christ-centered instead of self-centered. It didn’t matter what happened to him as long as his Lord was glorified. He was not affected by the malice of his foes because he lived for something greater than himself. He could afford to rejoice regardless of his personal fate as long as the cause of Christ was doing well (c.f., Acts 14:19-23). In fine, he was beyond the malice of his foes, for he lived for a cause greater than himself.
For the same reason he was beyond envy, for what mattered to him was not his personal influence or honor, but the honor of Jesus Christ. In the words of John the Baptist, “He must increase, I must decrease.” There is no room for envy in the ministry. The ministry is not about competition; it is not about self-exaltation. It is about glorifying the Savior. Sometimes the Lord allows us to be humbled while others are honored. Nevertheless we will rejoice, for the ministry is not about this servant or that servant – the ministry is about the glory of Christ and his glory alone. Besides, the Lord knows best: it is possible that by humbling you and laying you aside he intends to accomplish much more than you ever dreamed of. In a sense, this is what happened to Samson (c.f., Judges 16:30). This too was what happened to Paul: if Paul had never gone to prison we would not have Philippians and Colossians today in our New Testament, for he wrote these epistle while he was in prison! I remember reading about Arthur W. Pink. He was a preacher of the gospel. But for some reason the doors to preaching were one by one closed to him. And so, not being able to preach, he resorted to writing. Today, many years after his death, he is considered one of our great Christian writers. His book, “The Sovereignty of God” is considered a classic of theology and has personally been a great blessing to me. His influence is all the greater because God laid him aside as a preacher and made him a writer instead. God knows best. Let us not seek great things for ourselves. As long as Christ is honored, even if we are laid aside, let us rejoice.
II. WE HONOR CHRIST BY REVEALING HIM IN AND THROUGH OUR BODIES (I Cor. 12:27; I Cor. 6:19, 20; Rom. 12:1; II Cor. 5:9, 10). Christ’s physical body is in now in heaven. On earth we are his body; we are his hands and feet. He preaches through our mouths; he heals through our hands; he visits the poor and those in prison through our feet.
A. This involves refusal to sin (Rom. 6:12, 13)
B. This involves readiness to serve (Rom. 12:11)
III. WE HONOR CHRIST BY RESTING IN HIM IN THE FACE OF DEATH
Death is an opportunity to testify to the grace of God – to the difference that Christ makes in one’s life even in the face of death. If in the face of death we remain at peace and courageous others may be led to ask what is the source of our strength. For unless the Lord returns in our lifetime death is just a matter of time for all of us. The question then is not whether we will or will not die. The question is: “Will we honor Christ in death even as we honor him in life?” This is the great challenge that will confront each one of us sooner or later. May we honor Christ in death as well as in life.