We Must Articulate The Gospel
Not Throw It At People
At the heart of Christian belief is the Gospel. It’s a major concept in the New Testament. I wouldn’t say it dominates but it is definitely pervasive. You find it everywhere you look.
The word is used 98 times in the New Testament and is found in nineteen books. It is mentioned toward the beginning and the ending of several of these books:
- The first three books: Matthew, Mark and Luke
It seems strange that the word “Gospel” isn’t found in John even once, until you realize that John focuses on “belief” which is the personal response that catalyzes the application of the Gospel to an individual’s heart. John’s focus, therefore, compliments the focus on the Gospel in Matthew, Mark and Luke.
Other books where “Gospel” is mentioned toward the beginning and ending are:
- 1 & 2 Corinthians
Mark gives the word first importance. It literally opens and closes the book. It is mentioned in the first verse of the first chapter and almost the last verse of the last chapter. That is also true for Romans.
In three books: Romans, Galatians and Philippians, the word is used at least five times in the first chapter alone – six times in Philippians 1.
The Gospel was obviously important to the New Testament writers and most people recognize that. Unfortunately it isn’t always made very clear today.
The Gospel Needs Specific Definition
It is common that when people talk about Jesus they often mention the Gospel but rarely do much to explain it and it really needs to be explained. “Gospel” is only one word and it has a very simple, unspecific, generalized meaning: “good news.” That’s it. Without more detail you’re still in a mist. All kinds of news can be referred to as “good” so we need to specify what the news is. Read more
“Where did Abraham get the idea
there was only one God?”
It’s not a surprising question given the polytheistic nature of today’s religious scene. Coming to belief for the modern individual is like shopping for just the right outfit only worse. There are many different gods to choose from and once you settle on one you still must wade through the many different concepts popularized in the name of the one you choose. You’ld need a guru to lead you along. Trying to keep track of it all is near impossible.
But did Abraham have the same problem? Are we to assume he also faced an endless list of gods? The world was polytheistic in Abraham’s day for sure but rather than ask where Abraham got the idea of one God, a better question might be, “where did the multiple-god idea originate in the first place?” We usually assume that what we observe today was always true.
For example, where would Abraham, in the dawn of human history, get the idea there was only one God? Did Abraham coin the concept or did monotheists predate him and pass the idea down? The evidence indicates the latter is true.
It was one God who spoke to Adam and Eve. It was the same God who accepted Abel’s offering and confronted Cain, who took Enoch, who spoke to Noah and led Abraham to the land of Canaan. So there was no reason for Abraham to expect more than one God. Only an overactive imagination would lead him to think otherwise.
And apart from what Abraham’s ancestors experienced and believed, is there anything in nature, in his day or ours, that suggests polytheism is true? Is there any reason to believe that the control of a universe too vast to measure could be managed better by disparate, sometimes antagonistic multiple gods rather than by one?
Since Adam and Eve, and those who came after only dealt with one God, maybe we should see polytheism as the outgrowth of: Read more
The Bible Sells Best Because
It Is Universally Desired
It Is Living And Powerful
The Bible is often said to be the world’s best sold book but search the best seller lists and you won’t find it anywhere, top to bottom. It makes you wonder. If it is a best seller why isn’t it listed? Well, the answer is simple. The annual sales figures for the Bible are so high, averaging between $425m and $650m, repeatedly – year after year – that it dwarfs the sales of all other books. The best any other book can hope for is second place and a very distant second place at that.
A list of “best sellers” is interesting only if the top spot is up for grabs so the real best seller had to give way to all the rest.
The Harry Potter series, which has enjoyed high volume sales in recent years, is a good example. According to The New Yorker even books with Harry Potter stature don’t compete well with the Bible. Not only is the Bible the best seller of all time it continues to be the best seller every year even when compared to the astounding sales figures of a series like Harry Potter. Read more
How Do We Know
When God Really Answers?
Everyone prays but they don’t all get what they ask for. That isn’t because God doesn’t respond. He hears every prayer and like the father who takes joy in giving children what they want, He too looks for opportunities to grant our wish.
But, He’s not indulgent. Your every wish is not His command. Our prayers and His responses are tools that help us develop sensibilities. Prayer changes “things” because it first of all changes us. The need never changes and God never changes. The person praying is the only variable.
His answers make things possible not convenient or easy. Prayer is part investigation, negotiation and activation. It was never intended to be a ceremony. Prayer at its most basic is conversation and the primary purpose is communication.
So, the question is what makes prayer effective? And the answer is: Read more
“Love Wins” now has a Study Guide for individual use or group discussion.
Will Character Development Cease
At The Moment of Death
Conventional theology says Christians will be completely transformed in the resurrection and this transformation will happen in a split second – in the twinkling or blink of an eye. Love Wins says differently.
There are, of course, several passages in the Bible that talk about transformation but before I share them, consider the following:
- What exactly do we think will transform?
Everything: body, soul and spirit? Or just a few things?
- To what extent will transformation take place?
Once transformed, will our bodies require or allow no more training? Will all physical skills development be unnecessary?
- Will transformation make us completely different people or just whole?
Do we lose our identities? If so, will we all look the same and think alike?
Or in other words:
Once transformed will we have nothing more to learn, no more development to experience? Will we suddenly have “ALL” knowledge? Will we suddenly have “All” power?
Obviously, we need to define what we mean by “complete” transformation. Does it mean we have arrived – no more learning, growth or development possible – or does it mean all hindrances to future growth and development are removed? Will we continue to grow in the after life or does it come to a halt when we reach heaven?
If we didn’t learn to ride horses before getting to heaven, will we take lessons once we arrive? Read more