Wednesday, September 12, 2012

John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter

John the Baptist and the Apostle Peter preached the same message except for one distinction. John preached “a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4; Luke 3:4). Peter added the Holy Spirit to the mix: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). Both baptized in water, but only Peter promised the Holy Spirit in addition to forgiveness of sins! The Holy Spirit’s presence was the sign that the kingdom had already arrived. It was God’s eschatological gift to his people. Just as God sent the Holy Spirit upon Jesus at his baptism, so he pours out the Spirit on Jesus’ disciples when they are baptized. As James Dunn writes, “Wherever the Spirit is there is the Kingdom of God.” The question remains, if Peter promised the Holy Spirit to all who were baptized in Jesus’ name, should we do the same?

Saturday, September 08, 2012

The Kingdom has Arrived Already

Jesus concludes his sermon in the Nazareth synagogue with the words, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). This verse offers a clue as to the manner of the kingdom’s arrival. The words, “This scripture is fulfilled" is a reference to Isaiah’s prophecy about the kingdom coming to earth. The specific time of its fulfillment is “Today.” Not tomorrow or next year or in two millennia (as some evangelicals believe). A geographic indicator is given: “in your hearing.” Right there in the midst of the synagogue crowd at Nazareth. When we put the pieces together we see that the kingdom arrived with Jesus as he launched his public ministry. The kingdom of God was no longer a future hope only, but a present reality. As missionary strategist Lesslie Newbigin remarked of the kingdom: “It now had a name and a face—-the name and face of the man from Nazareth.” The waiting period was over. God was initiating his work of salvation on earth.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Is our Gospel Relevant?

If the gospel’s goal is simply about getting people into heaven, as many believe, where is its relevance? Most people who hear the gospel will not die for years. Therefore, they will have little incentive to respond immediately. With little or no relevance for the here and now, the logic for evangelism is weakened. It would be like me trying to sell you a front row seat to a New York Yankees game for a date yet to be determined by the ball club between now and 2080! You would not likely purchase ticket. It may be a good deal, but where’s the urgency? Waiting would seem to be more prudent.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Chapter Titles: "Heaven on Earth"

HEAVEN ON EARTH Table of Contents Dedication Acknowledgements 1. Discovering the Kingdom 2. In the Beginning was the Kingdom 3. The Kingdom in the Old Testament Era 4. Rome: The Final Empire 5. God’s Appointed and Anointed King 6. Exorcism: Sign of the Kingdom’s Arrival 7. Kingdom Healings and Miracles 8. AM and FM Christians 9. The Church and Its Worldwide Mission 10. The Final Week 11. The Present Reign of the Exalted Christ 12. I Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb 13. The Church as a Colony and Embassy 14. The Kingdom-Focused Church