Near Christianity

“The proclamation that Jesus died for our sins so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life is not, in fact, what C.S. Lewis referred to as mere Christianity—Christianity at its most basic. Rather, I would say that this message, which offers as its primary hope forgiveness and eternal life, and which offers these to all who merely profess belief in Jesus—this gospel which is roundly proclaimed in perhaps the vast majority of churches throughout the land—should be referred to as near Christianity.

“The Good News that Jesus and the Apostles proclaimed is a message so comprehensive, so altogether new and radical, that it requires deep-seated, heart-felt repentance, complete surrender to the risen Christ, and whole-hearted belief leading to obedience in every area of life. It is the message of the Kingdom of God.

“Anything other than the Gospel of the Kingdom is not the Gospel at all, but a form of near Christianity that holds out promises germane to the Kingdom, prescribes means related to the Kingdom, but holds back on making the full vision and demands of the Kingdom clear to those who would enjoy the conditions of blessedness.

“Such a message obscures the magnitude of God’s grace, minimizes the scope of Christ’s achievement, fails to nurture believers in the full obligations of Kingdom citizenship, and holds out a lesser hope—mere forgiveness and eternal life, rather than the glory of the living God.

“Near Christianity, therefore, produces little in the way of Kingdom evidence in the lives and churches of those who embrace it.” —T.M. Moore, in The Gospel of the Kingdom

(Check out some other quotes from The Gospel of the Kingdom by clicking here.)

8 Quotes From “The Gospel Of The Kingdom”

T.M. Moore has written a book that I think is a must-read for those who want to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3)—the orthodox Christianity that is presented in the Scriptures. You can check out my full book review of The Gospel Of The Kingdom by clicking here. 

“We can only discern these wayward ‘winds of doctrine’ when we have a clear understanding of the Gospel of the Kingdom. The better we understand and the more wholeheartedly we embrace this Good News as Jesus and the Apostles taught it, the better able we will be to counsel and lead our fellow believers who may be ensnared in the thrall of a ‘different gospel’ and therefore in danger of having believed in vain.” 

“In the divine economy now established within the Kingdom of God, the Spirit of God works with the Word of God to build the church and further the reign of Christ. An ethic of love and hope prevails within that realm which serves as a platform for embodying and proclaiming the truth of God and Christ. Salvation comes to those who believe, bringing them into the community of the saints and dramatically affecting every aspect of their lives in relationships of mutual service and love.” 

“The Gospel of the Kingdom is not, in the first instance, about you and me going to heaven when we die. It is about the Kingdom of God, first and foremost—about a new reality that has broken into human experience with irresistible, transforming power, making all things new and bringing the knowledge of the glory of God to light in the sight of all men and nations.” 

“Apart from the saving mercy of Christ and liberation into His Kingdom, men can look forward only to lives of uncertainty, doubt, disappointment, false hopes, fear, and death.” 

“The Gospel of the Kingdom is the power of God for transformation, a transformation so complete and thorough that it finally makes all things new. Those who know this power are changed by the glory of God so that, increasingly, their lives actually begin to reflect the living reality of the risen Christ, their King. The fruits and virtues that flow from their lives, like rivers of living water, are precisely those most to be desired and least in supply in a fallen world.” 

“The Kingdom is Good News because it brings power exceeding and abundant to be and do more than we could ever ask or think [Ephesians 3:20]. Here is a power we can never exhaust and that springs up day by day in ever fresher, ever more abounding ways to make all things new in our lives.” 

“Joy, it appears, is not determined by what we can see in our immediate environment. Instead, Joy is a condition that attaches to knowing the Lord and being able to see past what is seen in order to engage what is not seen. …The ability to know joy—in spite of any untoward circumstances or conditions—is dependent on the extent to which one actually knows the Lord and is intimately engaged in a relationship with Him. … Your salvation is an experience of living in the Kingdom of God, where we know the hope of glory, experienced and expressed, as a daily reality, then our joy will be more constant and full because our relationship with the Lord will be as much for the ‘here and now’ as for the ‘then and there.’” 

“God is always ready to meet us with joy, and He has provided ample means whereby we may engage Him for the joy that is to be known in His presence. Only our slothfulness, distractiveness, or neglect of His salvation—or the idolatry of seeking our joy in places other than the presence of God—can keep us from living in joy now, and in anticipation of the fullness of joy yet to come.” 

Missionary God, Missionary Bible (book review)

Technically speaking, Missionary God, Missionary Bible by Dick Brogden is a pre-book. It is being released through 2019 as a daily email and then it will be published as a book next year. But I urge you to jump in on these stirring thoughts today! 

God is a missions-minded God, so it makes sense that the Bible would be a missions-centered text, speaking to the hearts of both those who don’t know Jesus as Savior yet, and to the hearts of those Christians who should be missional in their lives. 

Dick is a veteran missionary, and he brings his decades of ministry experience to this monumental work. Dick is using The Chronological Study Bible to take us through the Bible in one year and to look at every text through a missionary lens. The Chronological Study Bible is a fascinating read in itself, as it places the biblical texts in the order in which the events happened, but then when Dick’s insights are added to those historical events, something even more powerful stirs in my heart. 

Each day’s devotional also includes a prayer focus for an unreached people group, along with the vital statistics about these precious people who need to hear the Good News of Jesus. 

This study Bible, read alongside Dick’s missional insights, and then combined with a prayer for a group that needs to receive the Gospel, makes for a life-changing devotional time. You will definitely want to get the book when it is published, but please don’t wait until then to begin to have your missionary heart enlarged and engaged in this fantastic daily study. 

You can subscribe to the daily emails by clicking here.

Poetry Saturday—Mountain Sheep

Step by step we make the climb
A rhythm beat from foot on gravel
Lost in thought and void of time
As we track this tower of babel

Hard dead earth, scorched by sun
More confused near the top
Both hot and cold are found in one
Both grasp for life like the withered crops

These people, poor people, hid up in the mountain
Seeking always to find life’s summit
But poisoned by deceit’s sweet fountain
And so, into darkness they continue to plummet

Why is the truth to these people unspoken
Who comes to shepherd these mountain sheep
Where is the news that the grave was broken
The harvest is plenty, but who comes to reap —Luke Brogden

(This was written by my nephew after visiting Nepal and meeting people who hadn’t yet heard about Jesus.)

4 Ways To Share The Good News With Everyone

Everybody EveryoneJesus told His followers that their ministry assignment was to take His message of salvation throughout the entire world. One requirement to do this, is to be able to communicate with lots of people. Actually to be able to communicate with everyone.

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:17-18)

Really? Everybody and everyone?!

Yes!

Jesus said our Helper would be the Holy Spirit. He would come to empower us to be witnesses to everyone, everybody, everywhere (Acts 1:8).

We have been learning how to communicate with others better, but noticing their communication style “accent.” Check out this post to get some more insight into this. In a nutshell…

  • Doers are action-oriented
  • Planners like to work out all the details
  • People want to make sure everyone is connected
  • Visions are imagining a better future

So if you are a Doer, and you’re trying to share the Good News about Jesus with a Planner, you can probably see a potential problem. The Doer is speaking in bullet points, but the Planner is wanting a lot more facts and figures.

This is where the Holy Spirit can help us. He has the insight that we don’t, and He can direct our words, just as He directed Christ’s words (see John 12:49-50).

Here’s how to talk their talk when you’re sharing the Good News:

(1) Doer

  • Keep it brief
  • Share more facts than stories
  • Stress now/today
  • Rely on the Gospel of Mark (action oriented)

(2) Planner

  • Tell them the who, what, where, when, why, and how
  • Be ready for lots of questions
  • Give them time to process your information
  • Rely on the Gospel of Matthew (lots of background, lots of Old Testament references to answer the who, what, where, when, why and how)

(3) People

  • Develop a friendship first
  • Share more stories than facts
  • Don’t tell them, show them your personal life
  • Rely on the Gospel of Luke (lots of personal stories about changed lives)

(4) Vision

  • Share both the facts and the stories
  • Encourage them to “Imagine what would happen …”
  • Give them time to ask questions
  • Rely on the Gospel of John (very poetic and image-rich)

You can connect with everyone, everybody, everywhere and share the Gospel with them in an effective way. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you the insight you need.

Check out how I describe this in more detail here…

Asyougo

AsyougoA little habit started for me as a kid. I’d put things on the bottom steps of the stairway, so I’d be sure to see them and grab them as I went upstairs to my bedroom. After awhile, everyone in our family had his or her own “step.” I called these asyougos: as you go upstairs, please take these with you. The principle was pretty simple, as I would naturally see these things going about my regular route.

Jesus had a similar idea for His followers: Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation (Mark 16:15). The verb tense and definition of the word go literally means that Jesus said, “Asyougo into all the world, preach the Good News.

In fact this is exactly how Jesus lived His life. As He went about His normal life, His life intersected with people who needed Good News (check out Mark 10:17, 46; Luke 8:4, 42; 17:11; and John 9:1 as examples).

Peter summed up all of Christ’s life like this: God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with Him (Acts 10:38).

Jesus lived an asyougo lifestyle, He called us to do the same, and He empowered us to live our asyougo lifestyle with the same power He had (Matthew 28:18-19; Acts 1:8).

Here’s the big idea—We don’t need to go anywhere special to find people who need Good News…

  • asyougo to school, you will attend class with them
  • asyougo to work, you will work alongside them
  • asyougo to the grocery store, you will interact with them
  • asyougo to do yard work, you will talk over the backyard fence with them
  • asyougo out to eat, you will sit next to them

People who need the life-changing, disease-healing, sin-forgiving power of Jesus are all around you. ASYOUGO share the Good News of Jesus Christ with them!

Links & Quotes

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“The Kingdom of God is Good News because it ushers all who receive it into God’s good plan for their lives, a plan which brings them, among other things, pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).” —T.M. Moore

“Remember a little more the intimate connection between the body and the soul. Go to the poor man and tell him of the bread of heaven, but first give him the bread of earth, for how shall he hear you with a starving body?” —Charles Spurgeon

“We must open our Bibles every morning with this prayer—‘Give us this day our daily bread.’” —Charles Spurgeon

“The Lord rebukes his people for seeking ‘their own’ pleasure on His holy day [Isaiah 58:3-4]. But what does He mean? He means they are delighting in their business and not in the beauty of their God. He does not rebuke their hedonism. He rebukes the weakness of it. They have settled for secular interests and thus honor them above the Lord. Notice that calling the Sabbath ‘a delight’ is parallel to calling the holy day of the Lord ‘honorable.’ This simply means you honor what you delight in. Or you glorify what you enjoy. The enjoyment and the glorification of God are one. His eternal purpose and our eternal pleasure unite.” —John Piper

“We may conclude that the chief end of God is to glorify God and enjoy Himself forever. He stands supreme at the center of His own affections. For that very reason, He is a self-sufficient and inexhaustible fountain of grace.” —John Piper

David Wilkerson warns, “We think that when we fail to trust God in our daily situations, we only harm ourselves. We think we’re simply missing out on His blessings. But that isn’t the whole story. … Unbelief is the mother of all sins.”

Stan Guthrie writes about the strange spectacle of Christian surrender in cultural ideas. He states, “We need more cultural engagement, not less, particularly in the realm of ideas.”

Max Lucado recalls an amazing story from the life of John Wesley and then asks, “How bold are your prayers?”

 

Links & Quotes

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“The question, then, isn’t, ‘when am I going to get promoted?’ No, I think the question is, ‘will I grab these openings to become someone who’s already doing work at a higher level?’” Read more from Seth Godin’s post.

“Faith is not a distant view but a warm embrace of Christ.” —John Calvin

“The honest truth is that I have seen God do more in people’s lives during ten minutes of real prayer than in ten of my sermons.” Read more of Jim Cymbala’s post The Day Jesus Got Mad.

“Success is a tale of obstacles overcome, and for every obstacle overcome, an excuse not used.” —Robert Brault

“Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Wishing is not enough; we must do.” —Goethe

“The good news of the Bible is that God is not at all disinclined to satisfy the hearts of those who hope in Him. Just the opposite: The very thing that can make us happiest is what God delights in with all His heart and with all His soul. With all His heart and with all His soul, God joins us in the pursuit of our everlasting joy because the consummation of that joy in Him redounds to the glory of His own infinite worth.” —John Piper

You may need to bookmark this: 15 Scriptures on starting over.

60+ eminent legal scholars call on elected officials to not recognize the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision on homosexual “marriage.”

Another place to reject culture’s language is on the issue of abortion.

Jeff Jacoby has an important look at Christopher Columbus.

 

Preach Like John

John the BaptistThis is a post for my fellow preachers (but the rest of you are free to listen in as well).

When Jesus says someone is the greatest preacher in history, it gets my full attention. Think about what John didn’t have…

  • No church building
  • No platform or pulpit
  • No worship team
  • No sound system
  • No Logos software
  • No library or study
  • No commentaries
  • No PowerPoint or handouts

He only had the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.

His sermons were thoroughly grounded in Scripture (Luke 3:4-6).

His sermons were anointed by the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:66).

His message was simple: “Repent from your sins, and produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:3, 8).

His messages prompted people to ask, “What should we do?” and he gave them Spirit-anointed answers (Luke 3:10-14).

His messages “exhorted the people” and brought “the good news to them” (Luke 3:18).

His sermons unashamedly called out sin (Luke 3:19).

And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:17)

Fellow preachers, may we be of the same spirit in our preaching!

Links & Quotes

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“People in the unbelieving world have witnessed a good bit of hypocrisy, shallowness, disingenuousness, dishonesty, and corruption among the members of the Church. Many of them have installed a spam filter on their brains which automatically blocks anyone calling himself a Christian as having anything meaningful or significant to say. The only way to remove that filter is through a credible life of goodness, sincerity, and love. … Our credible lives, by themselves, won’t lead anyone to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. For this, we must be bold to make God’s Good News known, and to make it make sense.” —T.M. Moore

A related post: 5 Big Things We Get Wrong When Talking To Atheists About God.

“God is a mountain spring, not a watering trough. A mountain spring is self-replenishing. It constantly overflows and supplies others. But a watering trough needs to be filled with a pump or bucket brigade. If you want to glorify the worth of a watering trough you work hard to keep it full and useful. But if you want to glorify the worth of a spring you do it by getting down on your hands and knees and drinking to your heart’s satisfaction, until you have the refreshment and strength to go back down in the valley and tell people what you’ve found. My hope as a desperate sinner hangs on this biblical truth: that God is the kind of God Who will be pleased with the one thing I have to offer—my thirst. That is why the sovereign freedom and self-sufficiency of God are so precious to me: they are the foundation of my hope that God is delighted not by the resourcefulness of bucket brigades, but by the bending down of broken sinners to drink at the fountain of grace.” —John Piper

Pornography destroys lives! Here are 5 ways porn devastates lives.

In his battle against pornography and gluttony, Jimmy Needham wrote, “Real freedom came for me when I began, by God’s grace, to see that my cravings were for more than just food or sex. All my appetites were, at root, for an all-satisfying God.” Read more in his post Our Odyssey Against Sexual Temptation.

“If America is to survive, we must elect…individuals who will seek Divine guidance in the affairs of state.” —Billy Graham

“God commands you to choose for rulers, just men who will rule in the fear of God. The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; if the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted.” —Noah Webster

[VIDEO] John Maxwell shares one of my favorite anecdotes to make a good point about efficiency—

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