Thursday, December 19, 2013


As I surveyed my yard for tree damage from the recent ice storm, I noticed several limbs were either cracked or broken. I thought to myself, "Trees were not meant to carry that much weight! They were designed to carry only the weight of leaves."

Likewise, we humans often carry more weight on our shoulders than we can handle. We weren't created to carry that much weight. When the burdens of life become too heavy for us, we are bound to crack. That's why we are instructed to cast our cares on Jesus. He alone is strong enough to carry the weight of the many.
And all believers are to instructed to come along side those laden with burdens to help them bear the load. When weight is distributed evenly among the many, it lightens the load for the few.
When was the last time you lifted a load off someone that was weighing them down?

Saturday, November 16, 2013


Moore: What was the motivation behind writing this book?
Streett: About a dozen years ago I came across Professor William Abraham’s book The Logic of Evangelism in which he asserted the kingdom of God was the theme of NT evangelism. I also read George Eldon Ladd’s article in Perspectives on the World Christian Movement on Matthew 24:14 in which he explains how preaching the “gospel of the kingdom” to the nations might hasten Christ’s return to earth. These ideas captured my imagination and got me started on my kingdom journey. Since then, I have read hundreds of books on the subject, ranging from classics to the mundane.

As I shifted through a mountain of materials and analyzed the various theories, I began to formulate my own understanding of the kingdom. First, I discerned that the kingdom of God is the grand narrative of the entire Bible. Second, I recognized the need for local churches to become kingdom-focused.

Quite frankly, most pastors and lay people have no idea what the kingdom of God is about or where the local church fits into God’s kingdom agenda. I wrote HEAVEN ON EARTH to help believers fill this void.

Moore: Why do many pastors talk more about theological systems and less about the kingdom of God?

Streett: Most pastors have attended a Bible college or seminary that aligns itself with a particular theology: dispensational, covenant, Wesleyan, Anabaptist, etc. Much time is spent indoctrinating students in these theological systems. Little attention is given to the kingdom of God, except as a subtopic in an eschatology section of a systematics course. Therefore, pastors are unfamiliar with the wealth of material available from such writers as Schweitzer, Perrin, and Wright.

As I see it, the kingdom of God is the overarching theme of the Bible from start to finish. It is an umbrella under which all theology is subsumed. Hence, it is the most important theological concept that should be taught to all students.

Moore: You write, “I have searched the Gospels to find a single case of Jesus refusing a person’s request for healing.  I have yet to find one.”  What implications, if any, does that have for Christians today?

Streett: Jesus not only preached the kingdom but demonstrated the power of the kingdom (Acts 10:38). The “word” about the kingdom and the “work” of the kingdom cannot be separated. The gospel (good news) of the kingdom is about wholeness, which means it deals with more than deliverance of the soul. It also includes healing for the body. Through the OT prophets God speaks of a day when “the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isa 35:5‒6).

When Jesus began his ministry, these verses became a reality. Healing was part of his kingdom agenda (Luke 4:18). He heard the voice of God clearly and knew when and whom to heal. I imagine when the disciples saw these manifestations of the kingdom they expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman Empire and set up God’s reign on earth. But it didn’t happen that way.  Instead he established his church to carry out an “interim” kingdom agenda until the arrival of the ultimate kingdom at his second coming.

We live in this “already, not yet” period. After his ascension to heaven, Jesus sent the Spirit to empower the church to fulfill its mission. Healing is one of the eschatological gifts of the Spirit (1 Cor 12:9). Therefore, we should expect to see people healed.

God’s presence is now located in the body of Christ (the church) as it was in the physical body of Jesus when he walked the earth. The church’s ministry of healing will reflect Jesus’ ministry in two ways. First, healings are temporal in nature, i.e. those healed will eventually succumb to death. Second, healings are a sign that points to God’s ultimate kingdom when all are resurrected an experience perfect health.

There is a significant difference between healing now and then. Because we are influenced by the world and affected by sin, we do not discern God’s voice and will as clearly as Jesus. He knew whom and when to touch for healing. He was a perfect channel through whom healing flowed. We are not. Therefore, we pray for everyone, asking God’s will be done in each case.

Moore: How has your view of miracles changed over the past thirty years?

Streett: I have always believed in miracles. But until recently I did not understand the relationship between miracles and the kingdom of God.

The Old Testament contains many miracle accounts, but something new happened when God poured out the eschatological Spirit upon Jesus at his baptism and then upon the church at Pentecost. History shifted gears. Lesslie Newbigin, the respected missionary and NT scholar, called the Christ event, “the hinge of history.” Hence, the present evil age entered the stage of history known as the last days and headed toward its demise. The kingdom of God, on the other hand, began to dawn.

Like healing, miracles are a demonstration of the Spirit’s power and a foretaste of things to come, which point to the day when the world is restored and God is all in all. Paul speaks of a “gift of miracles” (1 Cor 12:10). If the reigning Lord has provided the church with a gift of miracles, shouldn’t we expect to see an occasional miracle?

Moore: How does the individualism which is found in many American churches unwittingly undermine what it means to be a church?

Streett: God’s goal is to rescue creation from the powers of darkness and to establish his universal kingdom on earth. The process leading to this end is called salvation history. On the cross, Jesus broke the strangle hold Satan had over the world and began his reclamation project.

God then established the church as a corporate entity to advance his kingdom agenda during the already/not yet period of history (Matt 16:18‒19). Like a foreign embassy in Washington, DC, that represents its government back home, so the church is a new body politic that represents the government of God on earth. As followers of King Jesus, we are individual citizens of God’s kingdom.

Most people believe salvation is all about the individual. We often hear an evangelist proclaim, “If you were the only person on earth Christ would have died for you.” While I sympathize with that sentiment, salvation is much bigger than the individual. It is about rescuing and reclaiming the entirety of creation. And we are invited to get in on it and become part of the new creation (2 Cor 5:17).

American individualism is more aligned with democracy than kingdom theology. Once we embrace an individualistic mindset, we become self-focused rather than kingdom-focused.

Moore: You have some important things to say about the Lord’s Table.  Do you think Protestant churches have overreacted to the sacramentalism of other traditions?  Also, what would a more intentional focus on the communion look like?

Streett: First, let me say I have written a book devoted exclusively to this subject, entitled SUBVERSIVE MEALS (Pickwick, 2013, 340 pp). The first-century church came together to eat (1 Cor 11:18, 33). This 3-4 hour worship event was a combined meal and ministry. The experience in its totality was called the Lord’s Supper. In this setting, believers had an encounter with the manifest presence of the living Christ. They believed the Lord hosted their meal and moved among them. Therefore, each experience was alive with expectation.

It is doubtful the apostolic church observed anything like a modern-day Eucharist, repeating the words of institution (“This is my body…. my blood…. do this in memory of me”). The actual meal was the Lord’s Supper.

It was not until the late first or early second century that a symbolic Eucharist (as we understand it) became part of the church’s weekly observance. During the Medieval Age, debates raged over the nature of the Eucharist (consubstantiation, transubstantiation, etc.), and still rage today. Such disputes were unknown to the primitive church.

Where does that leave us? I would like to see churches adopt a worship model that incorporates a weekly or monthly meal and includes time for eating, conversation and ministry. Such an endeavor will take some imagination and logistical maneuvering, depending on the size of the congregation.

Ideally, I would like to see congregations move away from the church as “a lecture hall” model and adopt more of a “supper club” model.

Moore: Towards the end of the book you say, “Like all kingdom undertakings, church discipline is political.”  Unpack what you mean by that.

Streett: The church is a “holy nation” set in the midst of other nations, whose citizens are called to be obedient to their King.  As a political entity, the church operates according to laws and regulations. When a believer rebels and violates kingdom ethics, s/he must be brought before the church and disciplined.  In this sense, the government of God differs little from any worldly government, with one major exception. The goal of church discipline is not to judge and punish the offender, but to lead him or her to repentance, so they can receive forgiveness of sins, be restored to the kingdom community, and motivated to make restitution to offended parties.

When the local church practices church discipline, it demonstrates what it is like to live under the gracious reign of God now and points to the purity that will exist in God’s future kingdom. Church discipline is an alternative to secular courts.

Church discipline is redemptive. A church that attempts to maintain purity within its ranks yet extends grace and forgiveness to all is attractive. When outsiders witness church discipline being done correctly, they often sit up and take notice. Possibly it’s worth joining this kingdom and serving its King.

Moore: What are some of the biggest misconceptions Christians have about the New Heaven and New Earth?

Streett: Two of the more obvious misconceptions result from the way Christians approach the Scriptures. Most Christians don’t interpret a text, they unwittingly read into the text. They come to the text with their own peculiar theological presuppositions. For example, if one reads Revelation 21‒22 from a dispensational perspective, s/he will place the New Heaven and New Earth along a rigid timeline that includes the rapture, seven year tribulation, second coming, a millennium in which people die, and destruction of the earth by fire, final judgment in Hell, and eternity. Those in the covenant camp face the same kinds of problems. Only their conclusions will be different.

Therefore, we must set aside our theological systems and make a heroic effort to approach the text with fresh eyes. Through careful exegesis we must allow the text to speak for itself. When we succeed at the task, our theology will begin falling in line with the Scriptures.

The second interpretive problem we face, leading to misunderstanding the New Heaven and New Earth is a failure to understand the nature of apocalyptic literature. Revelation is an apocalyptic book filled with monsters, numeric formulas, and coded language that have hidden and symbolic meanings. Many believers read Revelation as if it was written in straight prose. This leads to a literalistic and stilted interpretation.

Different rules of interpretation apply to different kinds of literature. Therefore, whenever we approach a text, our first question must be, “What kind of genre is it?” For example, one would not interpret a parable the same as a genealogy. Misconceptions about the New Heaven and New Earth are the result of not understanding the various types of genres.

As I understand things, the Scriptures indicate that God created the original universe that consisted of heavenly and earthly realms. A rebellion occurred in each. The scope of Scripture is a narrative of how God is reclaiming and restoring creation. The end result is a New Heaven and a New Earth. Its exact nature and when and how it will come about is not so clear. But we can all affirm that paradise lost will be paradise restored.

Friday, November 01, 2013


Were you influenced by some dear saint who is now with the Lord? For me it was Dr. James H. Pyke, a former missionary in China and my favorite seminary professor and mentor. I rarely made a major decision without seeking his advice. I think of him often and miss him. He is gone, but not forgotten.

November 1 is All Saints Day, when the western church acknowledges that a bond exists between all believers—those presently on earth and those in glory. The Apostles’ Creed declares, “I believe in . . . the communion of saints.” Rev 5:8 speaks of a connection between “twenty-four elders” in heaven who worship “the Lamb” and the praying saints on earth. Samuel John Stone conveys this sentiment in Stanza 6 of his hymn “The Church’s One Foundation” —

    Yet she on earth hath union
    With God the Three in One,
    And mystic sweet communion
    With those whose rest is won,
    With all her sons and daughters
    Who, by the Master’s Hand
    Led through the deathly waters,
    Repose in Eden land.

All Saints Day is a good time for us to remember those who are no longer with us, yet are somehow united with us “in Christ.”

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Why I Chose the University of Wales

As many of you know, I earned my PhD in New Testament from the University of Wales under the supervision of Drs. William S. Campbell and Kathy Ehrensperger.

Recently I was asked why I chose Wales. My reply was straight forward. I wanted to experience the rigors of a UK postgraduate education, which is based 100% on original research and the writing of a thesis. I was accepted at the Universities of Sheffield and the Manchester, respectively, but chose Wales because of my Welsh heritage. My maternal Grandfather Edward J. Richards was born and reared in Swansea South Wales before migrating to the United States. That makes me one quarter Welsh. I wanted to get back to my roots.

I had never been so stretched academically. My supervisors challenged me to read primary sources, the best contemporary scholarly works and journal articles, and to think outside my theological comfort zone. I entered the program as an informed evangelical and emerged as critical scholar. Dr David Cook (Oxford) once explained to the Criswell College faculty that the difference between an American and UK doctorate is that “the former is a mile wide and an inch deep, while the latter is an inch wide and a mile deep.” 

I had already earned American degrees and was indeed a generalist, having taken in 48 hours of seminars. The Wales degree turned me into a specialist.

Additionally, I chose the University of Wales because the supervisor for my American-earned PhD was I.D.E. Thomas, a native-born Welshman, who had a profound influence on me. He was a Baptist, Calvinist, and pietist. Dr. Thomas was named an Honorary Fellow in 2009 at the University of Wales, Lampeter.  He died in 2013 at the age of 92.

If you are serious about scholarship, I heartedly recommend to you a UK degree.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Person and the Plan

The great missionary-evangelist E. Stanley Jones once remarked, "The gospel involves both the Person (Jesus Christ) and the Plan (the kingdom of God). The Person without the Plan yields personal piety only; the Plan without the Person yields social reform but not its essential source and power."

This is a much needed word for today.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Judas Iscariot Observing from Afar

The cover for SUBVERSIVE MEALS is Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld's (1794-1872) wood cut depiction of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet before Passover. Judas Iscariot is depicted in the back without a halo.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Heaven on Earth: A Review

 A Review by Bob Roberts, Jr. (Senior Pastor, NorthWood Church, Texas)

This book, Heaven on Earth by R. Alan Streett, was NOT what I expected.  A college professor and theologian wrote it – so I expected a good exegetical, academic, intellectual discussion of the Kingdom.  It did that – but a whole lot more as well.  As someone who has been captivated by the Kingdom, I could tell this was no mere 10-year study into the Kingdom, but a 10-year adventure of his personal experience in the Kingdom!  Some people know that I’m pretty obsessed with the Kingdom of God written about in the Gospels, so I often get requests to read such books.  Most are ok, a few are truly exceptional and powerful – i.e. Willard, Lloyd-Jones, Glasser, Tolstoy, Bonhoeffer, etc.  This book on the Kingdom was filled with passion because someone was experiencing it beyond explaining it.  What was it that I liked about this book so much that set it apart from other books on the Kingdom?  

First, Alan Streett is from my tribe – so I understand his mindset, background, and culture.  Yet, he is marching to a different beat – a good beat – a kingdom beat.  The kingdom is never found in mass – but personally.  He has done that.  The kingdom is never lived in solitude – but in community with others and in collaboration with the city and the world.  His conclusions, ideas, and positions are not always mainstream in our tribe in terms of how we live this out – but they are dead on Biblically.  He gets the big picture and takes you on a Biblical “trek” of the Kingdom present all throughout the Bible.  He does a fantastic job of bringing the Roman & Jewish cultures to bear on the issue as how it’s seen in the life and ministry of Jesus and metaphors that were used and the context they were used in that help with interpretation.  He validates what I’ve believed for many years – the more conservative you are towards the use of the Scripture the more loving and grace-filled you are going to be and the more open you are going to be to other people – even if you disagree with them theologically.  That’s Jesus!

Second, he deals with Kingdom authority.  Most look at demonic issues and signs, wonders, and miracles as the moving of the Holy Spirit.  They are – but much more than that.  They are expressions of the authority of Jesus, the King of the Kingdom.  If you get the concept of authority – it’s a game changer in your understanding of the Kingdom.  Authority is the valve that opens signs and wonders and Jesus’ name is the key.

Third, he makes the Kingdom accessible and easy to every follower of Jesus.  His dealing with the Beatitudes and other things in the Sermon on the Mount make this point.  I like his “Mars” hermeneutic – interpret the Bible simply as if someone from Mars were reading it for the first time – how would it come across.  I believe that – because first and foremost Jesus came for everyday, ordinary people.  The Kingdom is not complex – it cannot be for it to be lived out.  I loved his chapter on AM & FM Christians – learning to hear God’s voice.  This is huge in the Kingdom.

Fourth, he ties the Kingdom to the Church.  I’ve often said, “You can have the church and not the Kingdom, but you can’t have the Kingdom and not have a church.”  He takes that to the point of breaking down the different expressions of the church lived out in community with other believers in homes.  He holds on to the expression of “church” in corporate worship but sees it as so much more than that.

Fifth, he ties the Kingdom to the mission of the Church.  “Missions” is not something the church does – but the natural life she lives.  He looks at how the church is too often defined by “nationalism” instead of “Kingdom” and what that looks like.  If the church doesn’t have a Kingdom perspective – she will never fulfill what God has called her to.

I would heartily recommend this book as even your first reader on the Kingdom if you’re serious about it.  Here’s why – it’s simple, clear, historical, biblical, theological, practical – and very challenging.  It’s rare you get one book on the Kingdom that does all that.

Friday, August 30, 2013


NT churches did not debate issues such as consubstantiation, transubstantiation or the symbolic nature of the Lord’s Supper for the very reason that they did not use “elements” and or repeat “institutional words.” Their 3-4 hour Lord Supper was a REAL supper. The above issues find their origin in medieval times. The debate continues to rage and divides the Church.

The earliest churches likely expected the Spirit of Christ to show up whenever they met, especially during the symposium part of the meal. This ministry and worship was thus Spirit charged.

[For more on this topic read “Subversive Meals.” Now available for two-day delivery on Amazon Prime].

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Whatever happened to the Lord’s Supper?

The Lord’s Supper as practiced by the first-century church was based on the LAST Supper, which in turn was a Passover meal. All three were patterned after the Roman banquet, a formal reclining meal attended by invitation only and lasting upwards to four hours. It included a first course or the meal proper (known as a deipnon), and the second course or drinking/dessert course (known as a symposium), which included singing, teaching, prayer, reading of Scriptures and letters, ministry of the gifts of the Spirit, etc. As far as we can tell there was no repetition of those familiar institutional words, “this is my body” or “this is my blood.” That did not come about until the second century.

The Lord’s Supper was a REAL SUPPER, likely held on a weekly basis, and was the locus for fellowship and service. It comprised the totality of the worship experience. 

To learn more about this topic, read “SUBVERSIVE MEALS: An Analysis of the Lord’s Supper during the first century under Roman Domination” (Wipf and Stock). Now in stock at Amazon. Prime members can one click for free two-day delivery. Also available in Kindle.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


The Greeks were dualists, holding that soul and body were distinct from each other. They believed the soul was good and immortal, while the body was evil and mortal. During its duration on earth the soul remained entrapped in the body. At death the soul escaped it fleshly prison and was set free. This was the Greek version of salvation. 

Some Jews of Jesus’ day, as a result of Hellenization, began to adopt this Greek concept of life after death. But their belief was not based on the Hebrew Bible.

Jews for the most part made no distinction between the soul and body. For them, humans were mortal beings. They had no clear cut doctrine of life after death, but linked eternal life with an eschatological resurrection. Hence, Jews emphasized living on earth now and not going to heaven in the future. 

For Jews the kingdom of God was likewise connected to earth. This is how Jesus and the apostles understood the kingdom as well (“The meek shall inherit the earth”). Rather than speaking of going to heaven, they spoke mainly of heaven coming down to earth (Revelation 21-22). 

To explore this idea more fully read my  book “Heaven on Earth” (Now available online and in bookstores everywhere).

Monday, August 26, 2013

Heaven is NOT my Home!

Adam came FROM the earth, to LIVE on the earth, to RULE over the earth, to FILL the earth, to be SUSTAINED by the earth, and to RETURN to the earth. He was not created as an angel to live in heaven. He was not given wings to fly in the sky or live in nests above the earth. He was not given fins to live in the sea beneath the earth. He was given a body fit to traverse and live on the earth.

Well what about heaven? It is God’s dwelling place where departed spirits go upon death. When our body succumbs to death, our spirit returns to God. But God’s ULTIMATE GOAL is the redemption of the whole person, including the body. When Christ returns to set up his kingdom on earth, he will transform our mortal bodies into resurrected bodies fit for the new earth. Jesus said, “The meek shall inherit THE EARTH.”

Therefore, heaven is not our permanent home but a temporary abode. We might liken it to taking a flight to Disneyworld (Orlando), but having to first layover in Little Rock.  While Little Rock is a nice place, it is not the final destination. Likewise, our ultimate destination is not heaven, but the kingdom of God on a renewed earth (Rev. 21—22).

How did we become so confused about this issue? We will discuss this in the next post. For a fuller and more illustrative study of the subject, order my book HEAVEN ON EARTH (available in both paperback and kindle editions). It will change your thinking forever!