Daily Archives: August 4, 2017

Those who think too much of themselves don’t think enough. —Amy Carmichael

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Peter: The Compassionate and Courageous Leader

Luke 22:31–32John 21:18

Code: B170804

The apostle Peter was not an obvious candidate for leading the early church. He was impulsive, reckless, and vacillated between chest-beating bravado and cowardly retreat—not exactly the kind of guy you’d want to have responsible for your own well-being.

But Jesus Christ spent three years refining the raw materials of Peter’s lifeexposed him to life-shaping experiences, and modeled the true qualities of God-honoring leadership: submissionself-restraint, humility, servanthood, compassion, and courage. Today we’ll examine the last two of those leadership qualities that Christ modelled and taught to Peter.

Compassion

When the Lord warned Peter about his impending denial, He said, “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat” (Luke 22:31). Wheat was typically separated from the chaff by being shaken and tossed up into the air in a stiff wind. The chaff was blown away and the wheat would fall into a pile, thus purified.

We might have expected Jesus to reassure Peter by saying, “I’m not going to allow Satan to sift you.” But He didn’t. He essentially let Peter know that He had given Satan the permission he sought. He would allow the devil to put Peter to the test (as God did in the case of Job). He said, in essence, “I’m going to let him do it. I’m going to let Satan shake the very foundations of your life. Then I’m going to let him toss you to the wind—until there’s nothing left but the reality of your faith.” Jesus did reassure Peter that the apostle’s faith would survive the ordeal. “I have prayed for you,” Jesus told him, “that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).

It was then that Peter arrogantly insisted that he would never stumble. Yet despite his protestations, before the night was over, he did deny Jesus, and his whole world was severely shaken. His ego was deflated. His self-confidence was annihilated. His pride suffered greatly. But his faith never failed.

What was this all about? Jesus was equipping Peter to strengthen the brethren. People with natural leadership abilities often tend to be short on compassion, lousy comforters, and impatient with others. They don’t stop very long to care for the wounded as they pursue their goals. Peter needed to learn compassion through his own ordeal, so that when it was over, he could strengthen others in theirs.

For the rest of his life, Peter would need to show compassion to people who were struggling. After being sifted by Satan, Peter was well equipped to empathize with others’ weaknesses. He could hardly help having great compassion for those who succumbed to temptation or fell into sin. He had been there. And by that experience he learned to be compassionate, tender-hearted, gracious, kind, and comforting to others who were lacerated by sin and personal failure.

In 1 Peter 5:8–10, he wrote,

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.

Peter understood human weakness, and he understood it well. He had been to the bottom. His own weaknesses had been thrown in his face. But he had been established, strengthened, and settled by the Lord. As usual, he was writing out of his own experience. These were not theoretical precepts he taught.

Courage

Finally, Peter had to learn courage. Not the impetuous, headlong, false kind of “courage” that caused him to swing his sword so wildly at Malchus, but a mature, settled, intrepid willingness to suffer for Christ’s sake.

The kingdom of darkness is set against the kingdom of light. Lies are set against the truth. Satan is set against God. And demons are set against the holy purposes of Christ. Therefore Peter would face difficulty wherever he went. Christ told him,

Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go. (John 21:18)

What did that mean? The apostle John gives a clear answer: “Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death [Peter] would glorify God” (John 21:19).

The price of preaching would be death for Peter. Persecution. Oppression. Trouble. Torture. Ultimately, martyrdom. Peter would need rock-solid courage to persevere.

You can practically see the birth of real courage in Peter’s heart at Pentecost, when he was filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Prior to that, he had shown flashes of a fickle kind of courage. That is why he impetuously drew his sword in front of a multitude of armed soldiers one minute but denied Jesus when challenged by a servant girl a few hours later. His courage, like everything in his life, was marred by instability.

After Pentecost, however, we see a different Peter. Acts 4 describes how Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling counsel. They were solemnly instructed “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18).

Peter and John boldly replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19–20). Soon they were brought back before the Sanhedrin for continuing to preach. Again they told them the same thing: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit and driven by the knowledge that Christ had risen from the dead, had acquired an unshakable, rock-solid courage.

In Peter’s first epistle we get a hint of why he was filled with such courage. Writing to Christians dispersed all over the Roman Empire because of persecution, he tells them:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:3–7)

Peter was secure in Christ, and he knew it. He had seen the risen Christ, so he knew Christ had conquered death. He knew that whatever earthly trials came his way, they were merely temporary. The trials, though often painful and always distasteful, were nothing compared to the hope of eternal glory (cf. Romans 8:18). The genuineness of true faith, he knew, was infinitely more precious than any perishing earthly riches, because his faith would redound to the praise and glory of Christ at His appearing. That hope is what gave Peter such courage.

The Transformed Leader

As Peter learned all these lessons and his character was transformed—as he became the man Christ wanted him to be—he gradually changed from Simon into Rock. He learned submission, restraint, humility, love, compassion, and courage from the Lord’s example. And because of the Holy Spirit’s work in his heart, he did become a great leader.

He preached at Pentecost and three thousand people were saved (Acts 2:14–41). He and John healed a lame man (Acts 3:1–10). He was so powerful that people were healed in his shadow (Acts 5:15–16). He raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36–42). He introduced the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10). And he wrote two epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, in which he featured the very same lessons he had learned from the Lord about true character.

What a man Peter was! Was he perfect? No. In Galatians 2 the apostle Paul relates an incident in which Peter compromised the gospel of grace due to intimidation by influential heretics. We see a brief flash of the old Simon. Paul rebuked Peter in the presence of everyone (Galatians 2:14).

To Peter’s credit, he responded to Paul’s correction. And when the error of the heretics was finally confronted at a full council of church leaders and apostles in Jerusalem, it was Peter who spoke up first in defense of the gospel of divine grace. He introduced the argument that won the day (Acts 15:7–14). He was in effect defending the apostle Paul’s ministry. The whole episode shows how Simon Peter remained teachable, humble, and sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s conviction and correction.

How did Peter’s life end? We know that Jesus told Peter he would die as a martyr (John 21:18–19). But Scripture doesn’t record the death of Peter. All the records of early church history indicate that Peter was crucified. Eusebius cites the testimony of Clement, who says that before Peter was crucified he was forced to watch the crucifixion of his own wife. As he watched her being led to her death, Clement says, Peter called to her by name, saying, “Remember the Lord.” When it was Peter’s turn to die, he pleaded to be crucified upside down because he wasn’t worthy to die as his Lord had died. And thus he was nailed to a cross head-downward.

Peter’s life could be summed up in the final words of his second epistle: “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). That is exactly what Simon Peter did, and that is why he became Rock—the great leader of the early church.

 

(Adapted from Twelve Ordinary Men.)

 


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The ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ Leading the Quiet Revolution in American Religion

This article is for informational and research purposes and is not intended as an endorsement of Christianity Today.

A Christian movement characterized by multi-level marketing, Pentecostal signs and wonders, and post-millennial optimism.

Bob Smietana interviewed authors Brad Christerson and Richard Flory wrote on the rise of  “Network Christianity.” As you will see, the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), a term coined by the late C. Peter Wagner, has yet another name to add to the ever growing list, “INC.” According to Orrel Steincamp, “The current Latter Rain leaders have so purposefully muddied the waters that only those who are dedicated history buffs can discern the historical essentials behind the current teaching on a Second Pentecost eschatology. ACTUALLY, only insiders know the Latter Rain playbook, and they cover it up and pawn if off as a new revelation with a new name. No! the Latter Rain has been around since the early days of 20th century.” (source)

It was revealed in Smietana’s interview with Christerson and Flory that people involved in this theological cult are convinced that God is behind it all and that He’s appointing people into high level positions such as modern-day apostles and prophets–and even government cabinet members–and that these people will “know what to do when they get there.” Moreover, they’ll be listening to God (presumably His voice), and the Holy Spirit will use them to “supernaturally make America or the world into the kingdom of God.”  They claim that some of these people that are in these high-level positions are part of the Trump administration. “But they are not Pentecostals, and they have nothing to do with these groups. The movement just latches on to them and claims God is using Trump to bring in the kingdom.”

So with this in mind, on to Bob Smietana’s interview:

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Source: The ‘Prophets’ and ‘Apostles’ Leading the Quiet Revolution in American Religion

August 4, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Style of the Ministry

And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, (1:28a)

Paul’s passion was to proclaim Him who had done so much for him. Katangellō (proclaim) means to publicly declare a completed truth or happening. It is a general term and is not restricted to formal preaching. Paul’s proclamation included two aspects, one negative, one positive.

Admonishing is from noutheteō. It speaks of encouraging counsel in view of sin and coming punishment. It is the responsibility of church leaders. In Acts 20:31, Paul described his ministry at Ephesus: “Night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” But it is also the responsibility of every believer. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, “If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him, so that he may be put to shame. And yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thess. 3:14–15).

Colossians 3:16 commands, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another.” Paul expressed his confidence that the Romans were “full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able also to admonish one another” (Rom. 15:14). If there is sin in the life of a believer, other believers have the responsibility to lovingly, gently admonish them to forsake that sin.

Teaching refers to imparting positive truth. It, too, is the responsibility of every believer (Col. 3:16), and is part of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:20). It is especially the responsibility of church leaders. “An overseer, then, must be… able to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2).

Admonishing and teaching must be done with all wisdom. This is the larger context. As discussed in chapter 2, wisdom refers to practical discernment—understanding the biblical principles for holy  conduct. The consistent pattern of Paul’s ministry was to link teaching and admonishment and bring them together in the context of the general doctrinal truths of the Word. Doctrinal teaching was invariably followed by practical admonitions. That must also be the pattern for all ministries.

The Sum of the Ministry

that we may present every man complete in Christ. (1:28b)

The goal of the ministry is the maturity of the saints. Paul expressed that clearly in Ephesians 4:11–13: “[Christ] gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.” That goal was shared by Epaphras, the founder of the Colossian church: “Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bond-slave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God” (Col. 4:12). Our aim is not merely to win people to Christ, but to bring them to spiritual maturity. They will then be able to reproduce their faith in others. In 2 Timothy 2:2 Paul charged Timothy, “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”

To be complete, or mature, is to be like Christ. Although all Christians strive for that lofty end, no one on earth has arrived there yet (cf. Phil. 3:12). Every believer, however, will one day attain it. “Beloved,now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2). Christians move toward maturity by feeding on God’s Word: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that The Man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).

The Colossian heretics believed perfection was only for the elite, a view shared by many others throughout history. The American journalist Walter Lippmann wrote,

As yet, no teacher has ever appeared who was wise enough to know how to teach his wisdom to all mankind. In fact, the great teachers  have attempted nothing so utopian. They were quite well aware how difficult for most men is wisdom, and they have confessedly stated that the perfect life was for the select few.

{[needs documentation; attributed in John’s notes to E. J. Goodspeed]}

In contrast, Christ offers spiritual maturity to every man and woman.[1]


28 Paul continues to expound upon the service and stewardship entrusted to him by God. Paul’s passionate purpose is the proclamation of Christ, who is the subject of Paul’s preaching and the object of his praise. In this verse, Paul notes two aspects of his ministry of proclamation. Among other things, it entailed admonition and instruction. Paul and those who labored alongside him warned and taught all people (1 Co 4:14; 2 Co 13:2; Gal 5:21; 1 Th 4:6; cf. Ac 20:31). The apostle does not go into detail here regarding his ministry of proclamation; however, he does maintain that “wisdom” characterized his instruction. Paul believed that Christ was both the sine qua non and storehouse of wisdom (see 2:3; cf. 1 Co 1:24, 30), and he prayed that the Colossians would be filled with and walk in wisdom (1:9–10; 4:5). Part of cultivating true wisdom is the ability to distinguish between pseudo-wisdom and the genuine article (2:23; cf. Jas 3:13–18). While Paul derided human wisdom (1 Co 2:1–5; 3:18–19), he celebrated the wisdom of God revealed in the Person of Christ by the Holy Spirit (1 Co 2:6–13). Wisdom characterized the apostle’s proclamation and was to mark the Colossians’ spiritual interaction (Col 3:16).

If admonishing and teaching were the means of Paul’s proclamation, what was its end? Paul declares that the purpose of his proclamation of Christ was to “present everyone perfect in Christ.” This statement raises at least two questions: (1) What does the word “perfect” mean? and (2) When did Paul anticipate presenting people as “perfect in Christ”? The term rendered “perfect” (NASB, “complete”) is the Greek adjective teleios (GK 5455). Here, it does not signal sinless perfection as much as Christian maturation (cf. Eph 4:13; Jas 1:4; 3:2). Christian maturity does not occur instantaneously or automatically; rather, it is a perpetual process, as Paul knew full well (cf. Php 3:12–16). Paul’s aim, then, was for people to grow up in Christ, i.e., as Christians (cf. Eph 4:15), so that at the coming of Christ he might have the apostolic privilege and pleasure of presenting to Christ mature believers, not spiritual babes (1 Co 3:1; Php 2:16; 1 Th 2:19–20; cf. Heb 5:12–14). He longed to present “perfected” people to the Perfect One (1 Co 13:10).

This verse requires two additional comments. First, we see once again a connection between the work of Christ and the work of Christ’s apostle (cf. 1:24). Even as the purpose of Christ’s crucifixion was to present people “holy and blameless and beyond reproach” before God (1:22 NASB), the purpose of Paul’s proclamation of the crucified Christ was to present people as complete to the one now “seated at the right hand of God” (3:1). Second, Paul’s ministry was for everyone (pas, “all,” “every,” GK 4246, modifying anthrōpos, “person,” GK 476, three times in 1:28) because the gospel is for all people (cf. 2 Co 5:14–15). This verse, among others in the Pauline corpus (e.g., Ro 10:12–13), renders untenable the doctrine maintaining that Christ’s redemptive work is only available for and applicable to a chosen few. One may rejoice in the fact that Paul did not adopt or promote such an exclusivist perspective.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 78–80). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 302–303). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Genesis: Paradise Lost Coming to Theaters November 13

Mark November 13, 2017 on your calendars,” urges Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis. “it’s a day you won’t want to miss.” Why? It’s the day the powerful film Genesis: Paradise Lost hits theaters.  Here’s more of the exciting news from Ken Ham, plus a trailer of the movie:

Genesis: Paradise Lost (formerly known as Genesis 3D) is a visually stunning film that animates the first chapter of Genesis, as God creates the world from nothing. Narrated by my friend Voddie Baucham, Genesis comes to life before your eyes as plants spring forth from the earth, planets are formed, the earth responds to God’s command to bring forth the animals—including what we today call dinosaurs (there are lots of dinosaurs in this film!), and Adam and Eve explore the beautiful world God created.

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Source: Genesis: Paradise Lost Coming to Theaters November 13