The Gospel

What is the “Greatest Threat to the Gospel”?

"What this 'greatest threat' trope ignores is the clear teaching of Jesus that He will build His church and not even the gates of hell will prevail against it (Matthew 16:17-19). The gospel is never threatened because it is the Savior who ensures His kingdom will advance." - LifeWay

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What Does the Gospel Mean?

"In the Greek New Testament, the noun euangelion (“gospel”) appears just over seventy times. Since, in one sense, the whole New Testament is about the gospel, we might have expected the word to have been used more frequently. Even more surprisingly, its use varies greatly among the authors of the New Testament books." - Ligonier

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What the Name “Jesus” Reveals

"Yeshua means Yahweh saves. That this unique child’s name would be Yahweh saves was understandable for Joseph. Of course, God’s people needed saving — from the Gentiles. From the Romans who ruled over them; from local puppets of Caesar, like Herod and Pilate. . . . Then the bombshell: 'he will save his people from their sins.'" - Mathis via Veith

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Irony, Esther, and the Cross

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

There are three major kinds of irony: verbal, situational, and dramatic.

Verbal irony is when a person says something that they think is true, but while it turns out to not be true as they meant it, is still in fact literally true. For example, when Donald Trump—before becoming president—told President Obama that Obama would be “remembered as one of the worst Presidents” President Obama responded, “at least I’ll go down as a President.” While that statement turned out not to be true in the way President Obama meant it, it still was true in an even more ironic way. For an example more famous than American Presidents, in Star Wars Episode IV, Ben Kenobi tells Luke that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father. While that is not true in the way it sounded, it was nevertheless true in an entirely different and more profound way.

Situational irony is when the outcome of a narrative is the opposite of what was expected. For example, in To Kill a Mockingbird, the children spend the book fearful of Boo Radley, only to be rescued by him in the end. Situational irony is when the tables are turned in the grand finale. An example from real life: last year the fire station behind my house burned down. In terms of situational irony, that is about as extreme as it gets.

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From the Archives – “Hope Is Here!”

While attending seminary, my wife and I rented a tiny apartment in the inner city. In three short years, we witnessed more crime and violence than one might see in a month of TV police shows. Within a block of our home, we saw street fights, guns, prostitution, drug activity, car thefts, stalking and more.

One night, our elderly next door neighbors were dragged out onto their front lawn, beaten and robbed. A man was shot to death on the street a half block from our home. In the parking lot below our living room window, I saw one man hold a gun to another man’s head in broad daylight. Drunks sometimes slept on our front steps. Men repeatedly harassed my wife on the street.

There are some things about living in that neighborhood I will never miss. There are other things, however, that I miss desperately. What I may miss most, is the consistent opportunity to speak with people—even complete strangers—who were willing to talk freely about the miseries of life and the emptiness of their soul. I loved that environment.

It was in this context that I met Darryl. Darryl talked about the inequities and miseries of life as comfortably as suburbanites talk about the weather. With considerable ease he relayed memories of a haunted childhood: divorced parents; a dad who lived down the street but never spoke to him; desperate poverty; cowering in fear under the kitchen table as his gun wielding brothers came home with another take of stolen property.

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4 Distinctives of a Christian View of Race

Reposted from The Cripplegate.

As #BlackLivesMatter, White-Fragility, and White-Privilege become flash points in our society, and as entire organizations have grown up around the concept of “racial reconciliation” it is critical to remember that Christians should think differently than the world on the topic of race.

The world is fully embroiled in this issue. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” gets painted on streets, while others explain why they reject the organization. The problematic book “White-Fragility” becomes a best-seller, but there are enough secular take-downs of the book that its effect seems to be sufficiently blunted (although I’m sure evangelicals—often a year-late to cultural parties—will still entertain it for a while).

I don’t know if this is true for all pastors, but I have had more conversations and emails on race than I can recall having on any other contemporary issue. It seems like daily I am asked about my understanding of race and racial reconciliation within the church.

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