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Who get’s to play?

Question: Who get’s to play?

Video Summary.

The word church

Did you know that the word church is not in the original Bible. The greek work is  ecclesia (assembly)

If you want to know the true meaning of a word see how it’s been used throughout the Bible.

The problem with words is that they mean different things to different people. For some church is the building. Other’s its a particular meeting on a Sunday.

The word means to gather: political meetings. A coming together of believers.

Acts 19:32

“Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly (church or ecclesia) was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together.”

What do you do at church? What did they do in Acts and the Epsitles?

Come together!

1 Corinthians 14: Whenever you come together –   each of you. Not a few. ALL.

1 Corinthians 14:26 “How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”

This is very much the American Supper idea in the previous post. Everyone get’s to play not a select and anointed few.

The common objection to this is that result is chaos? Paul gives guidelines: Prophecy someone else wants to say something –  shut up!  In mots churches today the only one who gets to speak is the pastor!

Just because everyone is involved doesn’t mean that everything has to be spontaneous. There is room for preparation. It’s unlikely that every one will bring potatoes.  

What we missing out? Missing out on variety!

Often today its all about the teaching gift.

Romans 12:6

Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecylet us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministrylet us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that givethlet him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

1 Corinthians 12:10 

For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Allot more variety than we experience!

How would God assemble the church?  – assemble a bit of furniture.

Is seeker friendly church God’s plan?

Church is not a place where you bring people to evangelise. We should be equipped to go to people.

Evangelism isn’t a gift.  An evangelist is a person.

Pastoring isn’t a gift. A pastor is a person.

Stuck on the ground

If the church was an airfield most of the planes are either stuck in the hangars or on the ground.

 

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The priesthood of all believers

Why do we meet together?

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Priesthood of all believers

Question: What is the priesthood of all believers?

1 Peter 2:4

“Coming to him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also as living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 5:10

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”

 

Summary?

As John Wimber once said: “Church should be a place where everyone gets to play!”

What is a priest?

A priest is a special person that represents the people to God and God to the people. They are a mediator.

In the OT only a certain type of person was a priest. In the New Covenant ALL believers are priests.

One mediator

1 Timothy 2:5 “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;”

Example: An Estate Agent is a mediator.

Therefore, as a believer you are qualified to : worship ( no worship leader necessary), celebrate communion, pray, intercede, prophecy, baptise and evangelise. 

Becoming a christian was your graduation!

Religion – clergy and laity

Religion = someone in between.The blessed virgin Mary.

A priest, a pastor, a rev. They do the work of the ministry ( the above). They are the professionals or clergy. They are anointed; the rest of the church are the laity.

Who does the work of the ministry?

Ephesians 4:11 “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;”   WHY?

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”

No one has all 5! 

The gift IS the person (some). The purpose is to equip.

Example : Driver Trainer

As a driver trainer www.firstclassdrivertraining.biz 

My job is to impart my skills and knowledge. How does someone learn to drive?

Restaurant or American Supper

What I’ve noticed over the years, is that many churches have moved to a restaurant model. To be fair, that’s because the food is so bad they decided to employ experts! Therefore you get great worship, sermon and environment. However after a while, the same great food eaten every week – starts to taste bland. There is no participation you are an audience.

An American supper model however, seems closer to what the earl church practiced. Everyone contributes something. Everybody is involved! Everyone learns!

You still have leadership or those more mature and experienced. However, they don’t do everything they lead others to do what they are doing!

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Why do we meet together?

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Avoiding Hell

Avoiding Hell and going to Heaven?

The average Evangelical Christian thinks that avoiding Hell and going to Heaven is the Gospel or Good News. Well, I suppose avoiding being tortured for ever and ever would be something that you would want to avoid – if it were true.

Therefore, according to the traditional Evangelical, the Gospel is not really something you experience much in this life but what you experience way in the future. The bonus, is that you may even get to escape a sort of ‘hell on earth’ (the tribulation)- if of course you are fortunate enough to be raptured!

Is it Good news?

lostTherefore, is what we are proclaiming Good News to the average person around us? To a single mother depressed and struggling to look after her young kids, does the Gospel of Hell avoidance seem at all attractive? Likewise, to the young man with a drug addiction; the man who has recently been made redundant or the housewife facing cancer? No, some people are already in a kind of hell – they really don’t need to be told its going to be even worse!

If the Gospel is nothing except an escape from future punishment then it’s not good news at all by any stretch of the imagination. Good news is when you win the lottery or get a tax refund – not the avoidance of certain death in a car crash because your remembered to wear a seat belt! When Noah preached to his generation, warning them of the coming flood – that wasn’t good news! It was bad news! Yes, it was the truth but it wasn’t the Gospel!

Its about Jesus

No, the Good News is about Jesus Christ! It’s that God so loved the world that he gave his only son that we might not perish but have eternal life – not escape from hell. Without Jesus in our lives, we are indeed perishing! Some of us maybe do better in life for a while but all of us eventually die!

However, the true Gospel is a Gospel of hope because its the good news of how God intervenes and intervened in human history through the person of the son Jesus Christ. At the cross Jesus overcame death and brought the possibility of immortality and life after death through physical resurrection!

2 Timothy 1:10 “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:”

The Gospel therefore, is great news when you realise that it proclaims an end to the the blood shed and the hatred in the world at the moment: a coming kingdom and age in which will righteousness will dwell but a kingdom that can be tasted now!

 

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Previous related post on the topic of Hell:

The first person to preach Hell?

Love never fails (Part 1)

Gods brilliant plan (Part 2)

How big are God’s plans? (Part 3)

God is a universalist (Part 4)

Jesus is God’s plan (Part 5)

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A lost coin – ‘Lost’ Chapter 3

Chapter 3 –  The lost coin!

coinLuke 15:8 “Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

It’s a horrible feeling when you realise that you have misplaced your wallet or mobile phone. I automatically go into deep intercessory prayer – Lord, help!

A lost coin

However, this is the point of the parable of the lost coin as told in Luke 15. God hasn’t lost something as trivial as a mobile phone. No, he’s lost the whole human race and is determined to get us back! In the parable of the lost sheep Jesus is the good shepherd, and in this parable of the lost coin, the woman represents the Holy Spirit.

One coin?

Why is one coin so important when you have nine left? Scholars have suggested that it is possible that this coin was actually part of a wedding dowry that the woman had been wearing around her neck. In fact, the drachma coin – which is the correct translation – was a rare coin not in circulation and certainly would not have normally been in the possession of a peasant woman.

What does the coin represent?

What does this coin represent? I believe that it represents our true identity, created in the image of God, with all the value that that infers stamped on our lives. Yes, the coin has rolled somewhere into a dark corner – maybe amongst dirt and grime. Nevertheless, our value hasn’t diminished just because we are lost. The lost coin is worth just as much as any of the other coins still strung around the woman’s neck.

What does the woman do?

What does the woman do? Does she stand around moping over her loss? No, she goes into action. First, she lights a lamp. Next, out comes the dust pan and broom and the whole house gets a complete spring clean as she searches high and low for the lost coin.

He shines into the darkness

We can learn a lot from this. There is no chance that the lost coin will be found in the dark so she lights a lamp. As lost people, that is exactly our condition: we are ‘in the dark.’ I mean, have you ever been in a cave when someone turns off the torch. It’s suddenly pitch black, so dark that you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. The Bible says that we were in that kind of darkness – a darkness that had power over us and had somehow even characterised us!

Colossians 1:13 “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”

Ephesians 5:8 “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light:”

Translated from darkness!

The devil’s occult or hidden realm, therefore, is one of darkness and once we are ‘found by the Lord’ we are translated from darkness into the kingdom of light! Every shadow has to flee; every dark corner is revealed in our lives as the Holy Spirit goes to work!

2 Peter 1:19 “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:”

2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”

She sweeps the house

So, the woman gets the broom and starts to sweep and tidy the house. This is exactly the strategy of the Holy Spirit in our lives as he goes around with his divine vacuum cleaner getting rid of the remains of last night’s pizza and dirty dishes. ‘Tidying up’ is essentially separating the common from the precious, or holy.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Then the mop is out, cleaning floors and making the place spick and span. Wow! This house is starting to look really good!

Ephesians 5:26 “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word”

Of course, this is all in aid of finding the lost coin – and that’s exactly why holiness in our lives is good.

God loves a party

Therefore, God is not a party-pooper, a perfectionist only interested in a clean house. No, this is all for a reason – and indeed later on when the woman finds the coin, the added bonus is that she can invite her neighbours into a nice clean house made ready for a celebration and party!

Diligently searching

Of course, while she is diligently cleaning the house she is looking out for the glint of silver. She searches everywhere. Likewise, the Holy Spirit is brilliant at searching for that which is lost:

1 Corinthians 2:10 “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.”

Imagine the joy on the woman’s face when at last she finds the coin in a dark corner, maybe covered in dust or worse. Joyfully, she cleans it up and it’s immediately restored back to its original beauty.

Real life example – Bartimeus

For a moment, though, let’s jump to a real-life example in the life of Jesus. In Luke 18 we have the wonderful story of Bartimeus the blind beggar. In Luke 18 we are not told his name but we are told in the parallel passage in Mark 10. His name means ‘son of Timeus’ and Timeus means ‘highly prized.’ That certainly relates to what we were saying about the preciousness of the lost coin.

Luke 18 35 Then it happened, as He was coming near Jericho, that a certain blind man sat by the road begging.

36 And hearing a multitude passing by, he asked what it meant.

37 So they told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by.

38 And he cried out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 Then those who went before warned him that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

40 So Jesus stood still and commanded him to be brought to Him. And when he had come near, He asked him,

41 saying, “What do you want Me to do for you?”He said, “Lord, that I may receive my sight.”

42 Then Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.”

43 And immediately he received his sight, and followed Him, glorifying God. And all the people, when they saw it, gave praise to God.

Blind, and a beggar

However, even though his name means ‘highly prized’, here is a man who is not living up to his name. He has three problems: he’s blind; he’s a beggar; and he’s a citizen of Jericho – the ‘city of the curse’. Surely, that’s just like us? Even though we are ‘highly prized’ by God, we have been blinded and sold a lie as to our identity and self-worth by the god of this world – the devil. We are lost in our own dark world: the city of the curse.

2 Corinthians 4:4 “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”

The unfortunate consequence of this blindness is that he is reduced to begging for scraps. He’s at the bottom of the food chain because he cannot work. This is quite a contrast to another citizen of Jericho Jesus encounters later on: Zacchaeus. Although very rich, Zacchaeus is likewise spiritually blind. (Incidentally, his name means ‘pure’ which again, even though people didn’t see him this way, Jesus affirms as his true value!)

A revelation of Jesus!

What happens in the blind man’s man’s heart, though, is a revelation as to who Jesus is, to Jesus’ worth as the Son of David – a King! Indeed, light has shone into his heart and no rebuke from those around him is going to shut him up. This lost sheep is going to bleat its head off at top volume until the Good Shepherd responds!

Faith

Again, this is an instance of: “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved! “ Acts 2:21. That’s simply what faith is. It’s recognising our inability, our weakness, blindness and helplessness; this realization prompts us to call upon God to help us. Indeed, it’s precious faith that Jesus is searching for and to this man he says an interesting thing: “Your faith has made you well.” What is God looking for? He’s looking for faith in the hearts of men:

Luke 18:8 “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?”

Faith, therefore, is the currency of heaven. It’s extremely precious and valuable.

1 Peter 1:7 “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”

He receives his miracle

Therefore, by exercising faith he receives this miracle of sight. His eyes are now open; he’s no longer in the dark.  Found! Immediately, the work of repentance and renewal begins in his heart as he begins to discard his old lifestyle! Straightaway, he discards his old garment (Mark 10) and follows Jesus in the way, loudly praising God!

A celebration

Like the woman who celebrates with her neighbour, this is the fruit of true repentance and a miracle – oh, joy!

Acts 26:18 “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”

Fully-sighted Bartemeus, therefore, is now instantly in the praise and worship team of heaven, part of the royal priesthood!

1 Peter 2:9 “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:”

Chapter 1 – Lost

Chapter 2 – Lost

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A lost sheep – ‘Lost’ Chapter 2

If you want to get to sleep counting sheep can help. But most of us don’t lose sleep over a wandering sheep! In Jesus’ day, though, a story about lost sheep resonated with those listening and certainly they clearly understood the metaphor.

The metaphor of a lost sheep

sheepIn Matthew 12:11 Jesus used the lost sheep metaphor to make the point that saving human life is more important than keeping to rules:

Matthew 12:11 “And he said unto them, What man shall there be among you, that shall have one sheep, and if it fall into a pit on the sabbath day, will he not lay hold on it, and lift it out? How much then is a man better than a sheep? Wherefore it is lawful to do well on the sabbath days.”

Later on in Matthew 18 he repeats the analogy with the story of another rescue – if we didn’t know better, we might have thought the Jesus was a shepherd (well, he was, of course) – the Good Shepherd!

Matthew 18:12 “How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?”

We go astray – just like sheep

The point of all this is that as fallen, sinful human beings we are just like sheep in our behaviour: we constantly stray and do stupid things!

Isaiah 53:6 “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

1 Peter 2:25 “For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”

We do the same sinful things over and over again even when we get the same negative results – insane!

Example: crazy tortoise!

This reminds me of when I was young and had a pet tortoise. It had nice enclosure with a chicken wire fence, plenty of grass, and even a little wooden house to live in. Every day the tortoise did three things: it ate, it slept and every other waking moment it spent climbing the fence trying to escape!

Surprisingly, tortoises are very good climbers but unfortunately they have no common-sense. In fact they have no sense at all, so that, when this one arrived at the top of the wire he just kept going and inevitably fell off onto his back. Ingeniously, he would then put his back legs up against the fence to push himself upright and get out of this scrape. Amazingly, he never learned the lesson – give up – but would begin the whole process again. He didn’t live long and I do wonder whether he died of concussion!

What’s the point?

So, what’s the point of this story? What can we learn? How does my crazy tortoise relate to us? If there hadn’t been sheep in biblical times, might the Bible have used the tortoise as an example?

“All we like tortoises have gone astray (very slowly!).”

Jesus, therefore, is the ultimate pastor or shepherd and his mission is to rescue dumb sheep – or tortoises – out of the mess they get themselves into! Our designation is lost – resistance is futile!

Luke 19:10 “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

Parable of the lost sheep of – Luke 15

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.

2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable:

4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?

5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders

6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’

7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Who are the lost sheep?

As we see in the above passage Jesus further expands and clarifies the parable of lost sheep as told in Matthew 18, intimating clearly, that he views the listening tax-gathers and sinners as the lost sheep! I don’t expect they were hearing this message in their local synagogue – if they attended at all!

This parable is basically saying that Jesus isn’t interested in faithful church-goers -the religious. No, he’s after the black-sheep of the family: the guy who sells crack cocaine; the prostitute; the pervert. It’s these people he’s prepared to risk life and limb for. This shepherd is scouring the outback in search of just one sheep because even sinners, broken and lost have value!

Zaccheus gets found!

This parable is played out in real-life later on in Luke 19 when a real ‘live’ wandering sheep by the name of Zaccheus is ‘found’ hiding in the branches of a tree!

Luke 19:1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through.

2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy.

3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd.

4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”

6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything,I will pay back four times the amount.”

9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.

10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

A party!

Therefore, just as Zaccheus cannot believe his luck on being asked by Jesus to put on a party; the shepherd in the parable is so delirious with the success of his mission, that he invites his neighbours around for a knees up – over a sheep! A little crazy perhaps ? Might God be a little more into partying than we thought was decent?

Luke 15:7 “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost! I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance”

What about repentance, though? – I hear the religious intone. If repentance means saying sorry for your sins – how does a sheep do that? I mean all it does is bleat, right! Of course, Zaccheus showed the fruits of repentance in the over-the-top restitution he made – but how could a sheep?

What is repentance?

I think the answer might lie in understanding that the sinful human condition separates us from God – in other words, we are lost! The moment that sin entered the world, Adam and Eve became wandering sheep and their first instinct was to hide amongst the trees and ‘cover up’ with fig leaves.

Indeed, religion is really an exercise in covering up nakedness and making us feel comfortable with our alienation and separation from God.

Colossians 1:21 “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.”

Separated from God?

This separation, though, is a virtual one. What do I mean? Well, it’s all in the mind; all in our thinking. God isn’t avoiding us. We are avoiding him!

Romans 1:25 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;”

Ephesians 4:17 “This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,”

Ephesians 2:3 “Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

As you can see from these scriptures, sinful thinking leads to sinful behaviour. Might repentance, be not so much about what we do – but rather about a change of mindset? Is it that, when we encounter the pure love of God as we are laid on the good shepherd’s shoulders, we change our minds (repent) and a whole load of sinful thinking that has alienated us from the life of God falls away? Hopefully, the poor sheep learned the lesson: that wandering off equals a night in the dark and a near-death experience!

Chapter 1 – Lost

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How big are God’s plans?

How extensive is God’s plan of salvation? I mean, how really big does the ALMIGHTY God and creator of the universe think? How big are God’s plans for his creation?

God’s rescue plan – how big?

entebbeIn fact, if he tells us that he can do far more than we can ask or imagine then surely the Gospel has to be a hyper, super, huge, massive epic victory of monumental and universal proportions!

What can we imagine? What about something small-scale like the Israeli  Entebbe rescue operation – saving a few hundred hostages from the clutches of terrorists?

Or maybe, on a bit bigger scale, an operation closer to a Dunkirk, when the majority of the dunkirkBritish Army (338,000 men)  ‘miraculously’ saved from the clutches of the German invaders by an improvised armada of vessels?

What if, Gods plan of salvation is not restricted, as the Calvinists believe, to a small group of people the elect but is in fact universal in scope?

Israel only?

Of course though, when Jesus started his ministry, indeed it was confined to the tiny nation of Israel.

Matthew 15:24 “But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

That is why, you must read the Gospel’s through the lens of Jesus coming to his own people: the lost sheep of Israel. Did others get in on the act? Oh yes of course, but it really awaited the Apostle Paul to explain how that God’s plan of salvation was for ALL people regardless of nationality, gender, skin colour or creed.

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

The whole world is included

In fact, John in his famous text makes the same momentous announcement: God doesn’t just love Israel. No, he loves the whole world and Jesus came to save ALL of it!

worldJohn 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

1 John 4:14 “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.”

Again, the despised Samaritans – who had no legitimate claim on God, assert that they are included in this world-wide salvation!

John 4:42 “And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”

All creation

Let’s not stop there though because this plan of redemption and salvation is not just restricted to human beings – it is for all creation! (Have you ever wondered why the disciples were told to preach all creation)

Mark 16:15 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

Colossians 1:28 “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”

The reason for this, is that the fall of man has affected the whole of creation; creation groans. Consequently, God’s plan isn’t just to save a few people and then get them out of here and then let the whole lot fall apart in some divine demolition! No way! God cares not just about suffering human beings but about all creation! His plan is complete restoration. Anything less than this is not the Gospel.

Isaiah 11:9 “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Therefore, the scope of the cross reaches from the lowest depths of hell to the heights of heaven!

universalColossians 1:20 “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”

Revelation 5:13 “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”

Therefore, if you are part of the elect (a member of the church of the living God), then get busy – you have a job to do! All creation awaits your revelation! 

Romans 8:18 “For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.”

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God’s brilliant plan!

God’s brilliant plan (according to calvinists and arminians)

If you are going to do anything major in life: say move house, get married or change career – planning is probably a sensible idea!  As we say in business: “those who fail to plan plan to fail”.  Of course, along with planning, we set goals. Hopefully, we ask the questions: “what are our targets; what are we hoping to achieve; how do we know we achieved it?”

The Calvinist version of God’s plan.

planSo, what about God’s plan of salvation for the world? What is his goal? Is he aiming just to save a few elect and fortunate souls – who have absolutely no choice in the matter – as calvinist theologians believe? Consequently, the unfortunate majority – who also have no choice – are purposed for destruction or eternal torture in hellfire?

Therefore, according to calvinist doctrine, one of the thieves on the cross went to be with Jesus in paradise because that was his destiny, while the other was destined for hell? Therefore, even though both equally committed crimes, irresistible grace found only one because that was his destiny?

Therefore for a Calvinist, God only plans for a small elect group of people to be saved and they have no choice in the matter.

Of course there are scriptures that support this view, so I believe aspects of Calvinism are likely to be true. Here is one :

Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.

Many Christians throughout history have believed this view of God’s plan. Notably George Whitefield and Jonathon Edwards.

The Arminian version of God’s plan.”

Alternatively though, maybe God doesn’t know or control the outcome and he’s hoping for the best? He’s thinking: “If I get a 10% return on my investment then that makes it worth while!”  Basically, this is what the Arminians believe: the end result is at the whim and free-will response of human beings and their ability to ‘sell’ this salvation message to their fellows. It’s all a bit of a lottery or gamble really!

imagesDoes God really ask for permission before he saves you? If you saw somebody drowning and you went in to rescue them you might even have to do what lifesavers do and knock them unconscious to stop them struggling!

Therefore, for an Arminian God does indeed provide for and plan for the whole human race to be saved but he leaves it up to the free-will choice of individuals. Of course,  this means that if they never hear about the choice that they should make then unfortunately – they go to hell as well! Additionally, this would also mean that salvation is restricted only to the last two thousand years that the gospel has been preached?

1 John 2:2 “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

Many Christians throughout history have believed this view of God’s plan. Notably John Wesley and Charles Finney.

Conclusions so far?

In my opinion, both these two theological positions have both positives and negatives but are not water-tight theologically or even logically! Both, don’t quite make sense and are of course contradictory. Of course, both are apparently supported by scripture!

The question is: is the Almighty God really that incapable or powerless to save people? Or, maybe his love only extends to a small percentage of the human race? I mean, look around you – most people are not born again and don’t have any relationship with God – let alone attend a church!

Has the gospel failed therefore? Was Jesus death and resurrection a failure? Definitely not! I believe that the gospel plan is a victorious gospel. Love indeed does win – somehow. It has too! This Almighty God we are talking about! In the next article we will look at this plan of God in more detail.

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Download my FREE PDF book: “Christ in You.”

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Love never fails

 

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