October 19, 2010

ADD - World View

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Christian Disciple and World View

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Paul writing in Philippians 2v1-4: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

What was your worldview before you became a Christian? What is your worldview now that you are a Christian? Are there any similarities and differences between the two? What does a Christian worldview consist of and what are some of the thoughts behind opposing worldviews that are prevalent in Western society today?

Contemporary Society

Shock rock group, Slipknot, in one of their songs, describe people as the equivalent of excrement. Reality television programmes love to show the degradation and embarrassment of human participants. The London Zoo has in 2005 exhibited humans and treated them as animals, in order to reflect humanity's "basic nature" and place on earth. The pornographic industry, despite protests from both religious and non-religious groups, shows both men and women in airbrushed degradation, with pictorial and verbal humiliation. All these treat humans as mere, undignified 'glory-less' commodities to be used and degraded, albeit, in the main part willingly. Some treat other people as either their equal or of lesser concern than themselves. This is following what is commonly called the “Golden Rule“, which is “do to others, what you would have them do to you”. Furthermore, there is the thinking that there are no certainties or absolutes in life, just your own perspective. Morality is a private thing and what is right for you, may not be right for me and don't dare tell me that I am wrong in any aspect of my life. My morals are mine and mine alone, and it is my right. As for religion, all religions inevitably lead to some form of god or gods, that is if any exists at all.

Darwin & Scientific Materialism

Richard Dawkins, the eminent Oxford biologist and atheist, decrees that humans are merely a miniscule section in nature's rich spectrum, and Darwinism explains not only how we got here but that our purpose has evolved just as we have evolved biologically and sexually. Based on this hypothesis, he sees no reason for a creator or any form of intelligent designer, as man evolved by "chance and random variations". Further to this, he views "humanity as just one little twig", amongst the order of primates. He does however admit, that humans have probably evolved as far as they can and further concedes that there is "no definitely accepted account" regarding life's beginnings. This atheistic and naturalistic theory goes on to deny the very existence of a spiritual world and claims that our emotions such as love, fear, hatred and guilt, or our thoughts and feelings, are merely physical or chemical in origin.

A Christian Worldview

Contrast these with a Christian worldview. Atheistic views are entirely theoretical and are based entirely upon presupposed disavowal and disbelief in any form of deity, whether personal or impersonal, and belief that any kind of faith is blind, non-evidential and irrational. Juxtaposed against this thought, Genesis 1 asks us to rejoice in the knowledge of who we are, as the pinnacle of creation. Early Greek Patriarchs likened the creation of humanity to a royal leader being shown his new palace.

Again, contrast those worldviews against Scripture, which says, that humanity, both male and female, is made in the image of God, the imago dei, and is therefore according to one of the church fathers made to "reflect the Divine". Paul when writing to the Thessalonian church said: “May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together—spirit, soul, and body—and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:23).

When God created humanity, it was in His image that they were created. The Bible indicates that humans are composed of 3 parts - Body, Soul and Spirit. The spirit and soul are only separable in thought and are probably best seen as two separate dimensions of the non-material side of a person - the spirit relating to God, and the soul relating to earth. All three parts, spirit, soul and body have an important role to play in our humanity. The whole person is valuable to God, not just the spirit as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 5:23). Other philosophies and religions have tried to portray the body as evil or irrelevant, and this has crept into some parts of Christianity, with the tradition of priestly celibacy and asceticism. A break down in any of these areas can cause imbalance in the other areas. For example, research has shown that sometimes, physical sickness can be caused through emotional turmoil. Studies have also revealed that mental illness may occasionally be caused through guilt or unforgiveness. As humans we are created in His image, and as Christian Disciples we were bought at a price when Jesus died on the cross.

A biblical Christian worldview should include the following:

God created humanity, in His own image therefore higher than the animal world. Humanity subsequently rebelled and disobeyed God. God then took the initiative and promised a way out through His chosen Messiah. This Messiah was Jesus Christ, and he had simultaneously both human and divine natures. It was He, who as God, stepped into history and became confined for a short while by time and space. He was born so that when He died on the cross, it was to pay the price so that all of humanity could be freed from slavery to sin and disobedience, if only they chose to accept and believe in Him as God. He rose again physically from the dead, ascended into heaven and now sits at the right hand of the Father.

Those who don't accept Him as Lord and Saviour wil spend eternity apart from Him. He is the only way to God, and all other paths lead to destruction. That is why Christianity is the only true and permanent hope for the world. As Christians Disciples, living in the 21st century, we are to place God first, others second and ourselves last. That is the path a Christian Disciple is to walk, following and serving both God and others. It is done by taking up our cross, just as Jesus Christ took up His cross (Luke 9v23) and following His life devoted to being a servant of others. As Christian Disciples, we have God in the person of the Holy Spirit, living inside us as a deposit for our future life with Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1v13-14). With His help, we are being transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 3v18; Philippians 3v20-21). You may well be able to add other things to this in order to form your own worldview.

For more to think about please do read for yourself: Philippians 2v1-18. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. How has and is my worldview being developed and transformed into a worldview similar to that of Jesus Christ?

Q2. How has my life been transformed in the last year and in what way can I continue to be transformed into the very image of Jesus Christ?

Q3. In what way do the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed help and reinforce my understanding of a Christian worldview?

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October 17, 2010

All About Partake

Why the name Partake?

What the logo is all about?

What why and how of Partake Ministries?

Ways to support Partake Ministries?

Audio interview with Hope FM in the UK

October 16, 2010

ADD - Evangelism 3

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Christian Disciple and Evangelism (Part 3)

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For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10v45

Jesus Christ was the man born to die – this is what we celebrate at Christmas – when God who is outside of both time and space, entered history in the form of a human baby. His purpose as explained in Mark 10v45 was “to give his life as a ransom for many.” The Apostle Paul also preached this, but what was his methods and his message in full?

Paul’s Method

Reasoned from the Scriptures

  • Paul knew that Scripture had been revealed, inspired and illuminated by God
  • Paul knew that Scripture equipped for service
  • Paul knew that Scripture helped get to know God more
  • Paul knew that Scripture revealed God’s programme
  • Paul knew that getting to know Scripture was vital in order to be used in Evangelism.

Meet where people are

  • Synagogue (Acts 18v4, 6)
  • Market place / work (Acts 18v3)
  • Invited people to home (Acts 18v7)
  • Forged relationships (Acts 18v2, 8, 17)
  • Prepared to change strategy (Acts 18v6)
  • Paul overcame his own fears and limitations of his own weaknesses and relied totally on God’s power when witnessing

Why is the cross so central to the Gospel?

Paul’s Gospel was “Jesus and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2v2). The Gospel is the cross! As important as the incarnation, resurrection and ascension are, without Jesus’ death on the cross there would be no Christianity, and subsequently no hope for the world! Therefore, the interpretation that we place on Jesus’ death is paramount! That He died is without doubt, but why did He have to die and what gain do we have as His Disciples?

The Gospel Message!

By His very nature, God is loving and compassionate, forgiving, faithful and slow to anger (Exodus 34v6-7). This is the part, if we are being honest all of us are most comfortable with!! Yet God is holy, righteous and just and must punish sin because of this very same nature. That is the part we as 21st century people are uncomfortable with! We love to think of God as being all love and gentleness, but don’t like to think of Him as a Judge who must punish disobedience

But remember that God loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Psalm 45v7). Therefore sin & disobedience must be dealt with and it cannot simply be ignored. Sin is humanity’s problem.

The Problem - Humanity's sin

Sin is what separates humans from God and as a consequence leads to both a spiritual and physical death (Romans 6v23, Isaiah 59v2). Nobody escapes as all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3v23). In the Old Testament, sins were dealt with by blood sacrifices of atonement as coverings for sin (Leviticus 17v11), for without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin (Hebrews 9v22).

The Solution – God to the rescue!

The solution lies not in continual animal sacrifice of the Old Testament because Hebrews 10v4 reminds us that the blood of animals cannot take away sin but was only a veneer or covering. That was why it was necessary to repeat time and time again! It is only through the death of Jesus, that sin is taken away (Hebrews 9:v11-15, 26-28), and that was only needed once! Therefore Jesus is our permanent sacrificial substitute! That is why the elements of bread and wine in Communion or Breaking of Bread are symbolic, and not somehow changed into actual flesh and blood, as some would have us believe.

Substitution

Jesus died for our sin, the just for the unjust (1 Peter 3v18). That is how God is both just and the Justifier of sinners and that is why Jesus needed to be both fully God and fully human! If he lacked either, it would not be the full substitutionary sacrifice that was necessary to bear the permanent consequences of sin! This substitution was the sacrifice, required in order that Jesus as the Lamb of God could take away the sins of the world (John 1v29). He was the propitiation for all sin!

Propitiation

Propitiation is the turning aside of God's anger by the offering of the sacrifice of Christ. Towards sin and sinful behaviour God necessarily has great fury, anger and wrath (Jeremiah 21v5). Hebrews 10v30-31 reminds us, “It is dreadful to fall into the hands of the living God.” Yet as Micah 7v18 “He is slow to anger and quick to forgive”. God's anger and judgment of sin falls on Christ, instead of us. We need to approach God to appease His anger, in order to accept it (Romans 3:25; Isaiah 53:5; John 2:2, 5:6).

1 John 4v10: This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice (or propitiation) to take away our sins.

To some people, even some in the church, this is abhorrent! The very thought that God could willing send His son to be a blood sacrifice for sin is tantamount to child abuse! Richard Dawkins calls Jesus’ crucifixion an act of sado-masochism! Neither of these opinions is valid or true. God’s requirements are very clear as John 3v16 says it all in response to this “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”. If there were any other way, would not God have done it that way?

Redemption (Ransom) Mark 10:45

Not only was it propitiation, but also an act of redemption! In the time of the New Testament, this word was used to refer to the buying back of a slave - the price paid to buy the slave’s freedom. God paid redemption so that humans can be freed from the slavery to sin (John 8:35 Romans 7:14). The price was paid (1 Peter 1:18-19) and so we are redeemed with the precious blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). As Christian Disciples, we are bought at a price, and we have a new position before God! We are bought out of slavery to sin, into glorious freedom where we are now slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:19); slaves to Christ (Romans 6:22). We are also Jesus Christ’s personal possession (1 Corinthians 16:19). But it is our responsibility to choose that way! God does not coerce forcefully – He leaves it as a choice for humans to make as individuals.

What is our response to this to be? Sacrifice, substitution, propitiation and redemption can be summed up in one word: love. For 1 John 3v16 states: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” Jesus told us to take up our cross if we are to follow Him as His Disciple (Luke 9v23). Are you as a Christian Disciple willing to take up your cross and do all you can do to love others?

For more to think about please do read Acts 17 & 18, ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Then why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1. When I evangelise, what is the message I proclaim?

Q2. What can I adapt from Paul’s methods in order to help my evangelise?

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