But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. —1 Thessalonians 5:8-9
It is this revelation of Jesus’s ravished heart for us that awakens our hearts to fervency for Him. It ignites holy passion in us. It is His love for us and our response of love and devotion back to Him that act as a breastplate of love, guarding our hearts with holy affections in times of temptation.
If Your love is so passionate for me, dear Father, then I am filled with such an intense longing to devote my heart and life to pleasing You. Guard my heart, dear Father, and draw me ever closer to You.
Can you imagine a time when key apostolic leaders—both in the church and marketplace—would come together to exert strong influence over cities, communities and nations, with or without the cooperation or partnership of local church pastors and congregations? A time when the local church would almost be irrelevant when it comes to societal transformation because leaders would form their own ecclesia that would be mobile and not nuclear in nature? A time in which the local church would be relegated merely to shepherding our families, pastoral counseling, and Sunday school for our children?
There is a growing tendency in the body of Christ among practitioners in kingdom societal transformation to bypass the local church in order for the reformation of society to take place. This is due to the frustration of many marketplace leaders with the slow pace, bureaucracy, myopic local view and lack of high-level leadership found in many of this nation’s congregations.
As more of us receive greater light regarding the kingdom, and we rightly go from a church mindset to a kingdom mindset, I am afraid some will have a tendency to go too far and jettison the local church altogether!
Further exacerbating this challenge is that many who are on the leading edge of cultural change are institutional (parachurch) or marketplace leaders who by nature are entrepreneurial, independent, high-performance leaders who have not always had a strong anchor in a local church, even before they came into the kingdom message. This independent spirit and impatience for change will influence their kingdom theology to the point of finding proof texts or doctrines that justify the bypassing of local churches.
It is my position that jettisoning the local church, or relegating it merely to the purpose of shepherding our families, would be a huge mistake! Whether we like it or not, God has chosen the local church to be the beachhead that facilitates social and religious change in the nations. We need to reform the church—not jettison it! We need to help transition the local church to becoming kingdom-centered. Being kingdom-centered and local church-centered need not be mutually exclusive. To be truly kingdom-centered, one must start with being local church-centered.
In addition, each local church needs to view itself as one congregation among many in a particular region that, combined, comprise the city church. The New Testament epistles, such as Philippians, Romans, Colossians, etc., all assume one church per city or region. Hence, this view necessitates cooperation and collaboration with other congregations as a biblical responsibility.
Likewise, pastors are never solely called to shepherd only their individual flocks, but are to be shepherds or chaplains to whole communities.
Let us now go back and attempt to understand the local church paradigm and pattern.
First, when God desired to reconcile world systems and redeem individual sinners He sent His Son—who didn’t come as a political or business leader couched as a religious rabbi. Jesus began as an itinerant teacher of the Word of God (see Luke 4:18). Those with him in the synagogue were His platform for inauguration as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords (see John 18:37).
With Jesus and His people there is no separation of the offices of king and priest. Jesus was a combination of priest (His body was the sacrifice given once for all; see Heb. 10:10, 14), prophet (see Deut. 18:18-19) and king (see Rev. 1:5, 19:16). All three offices are completely summarized and unified in Hebrews 1:1-3.
The model of Jesus for reformation shows the most powerful and effective starting point and matrix to initially operate, for reformation is the so-called religious sphere of society.
There has been a popular teaching during the last ten years in which people are categorized as either functioning as priests or kings in the kingdom. However, marketplace leaders miss the mark when they say preachers of the gospel merely function as priests—whose primary role concerns the priestly duties related to “spiritual” things—while Christian political and business leaders function as kings who take the cultural lead in His kingdom.
It is clear Romans 5:17 was written for all believers. This passage shows that all saints reign as kings in this world. Ephesians 2:4-6 teaches that all saints are presently reigning with Christ in heavenly places.
In the book of Leviticus, the priests not only administered animal sacrifices but were also the ultimate authority, interpreting the Law of Moses to judges and kings (see Deut. 17:18). The 613 laws involved civic as well as sacrificial rules and regulations. Individually these priests even administered in the areas of health by regulating the Jewish diet (see Leviticus 11), examining homes for harmful mold and mildew, and even examining individuals to determine if they were physically clean or unclean (see Leviticus 13-14). Thus, these priests functioned in both the context of the temple and the community without a dichotomy between sacred and secular, or as we now term it, priest and king.
The later divisions between the priesthood, the prophetic, and the kings of Israel seem to separate these offices (read 1 Sam. 13:8-13 and 1 Kin. 12:32-13:6 when the kings were judged for offering priestly sacrifices). However, King David, who was a prophetic predecessor of the Messiah, had a New Testament kingdom dispensation as he was able to approach God’s presence and offer sacrifices (see 1 Chron. 16:1-2), eat the showbread (see 1 Sam. 21:6; Mark 2:25-26), prophesy (see Ps. 22; Ps.110) and rule the kingdom (2 Sam. 5:1-3). Thus, all three functions were integrated in him.
Jesus said that even the least in the kingdom of heaven are greater than John the Baptist and all of the Old Covenant prophets and leaders (Matt. 11:11). This implies the prophetic, kingly and priestly functions are all combined in God’s people in the kingdom age. Even so, with the advent of the kings of Israel, the priests still had to regulate societal functions for the community as written in the Pentateuch. Nowadays these functions would be classified by some marketplace leaders as kingly functions.
Furthermore, in what category would we place Joseph and Daniel? They both functioned as political leaders, but would also neatly fit in the category of priest because of their spiritual bent and prophetic lifestyles. Also, who would ever say that the prophets Elijah and Elisha were merely functioning in a priestly role? Both of them gave commands to political leaders (for example, the kings of Israel as in 1 Kin. 18:18-19), and framed major policy initiatives for societal reformation. Elisha even gave military advice to Israel when the nation was at war with Syria (2 Kin. 6:8-23).
I have never accepted the assumption that I, as a bishop, should function merely in the priestly realm and concentrate primarily on spiritual things, while Christians I work with in business or politics function as the kings in the kingdom who are responsible for governing and practical application of kingdom concepts in the natural realm. I have always functioned in both roles, and feel just as comfortable with both pastors and marketplace leaders. Furthermore, as a leader in my city, I have always been involved in community, business and political processes and decisions that help frame public policy. I personally believe that my priestly roles of intercession, prayer and meditating on the Word of God empower me to act as a king by influencing my community and city in matters related to both the church and society.
Furthermore, the original apostles, who were given the command to disciple nations (Matt. 28:19) actually were commanded to leave their marketplace vocations and serve full-time in the religious sphere. In Acts 6:2 and 4, Peter said they weren’t even allowed to wait on tables so they could give themselves fully to the ministry of the word of God and prayer. It was out of this powerful context of being in the presence of God, studying and preaching the word, and planting local churches in key cities that the first century apostles were able to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:5-7). Thus, reformation of society will not come outside of the local church or from a separation of kings and priests in the kingdom, or to the neglect of the local church authority in the kingdom, but out of the local church context.
We see this further unpacked in Ephesians 4:10-12. The primary call of church apostles and five-fold ministers is to prepare God’s people for the work of the ministry which, as described in Ephesians 4:10, has as its goal to fill up all things. Thus, the center of power—equipping and releasing for cultural leadership—should emanate out of the local church context that houses the five-fold ministers.
First Corinthians 12 teaches that true local churches are first started by those gifted as apostles, then prophets. This has more to do with establishing cultural beachheads for kingdom purposes than just exercising spiritual gifts in a church building.
When we attempt to reform society outside of the context of the local church (which Paul calls “the pillar and ground of the truth” in 1 Tim. 3), we are attempting to have a missiology without a clear ecclesiology. This results in having unaccountable marketplace leaders who are not groomed and discipled in regard to their character development, family lives and personal emotional health—and possibly are in a place of power merely because of their giftings. (Although to be fair, the same can be said of pastors and church ministers who are not in accountable relationships with their peers and overseers.)
God is called our Father. The church is supposed to function as a family of families so that we can restructure, reform, and serve humanity, and build a healthy civilization that stands upon strong marriages and families. God told Abraham that in him all the “families” of the earth would be blessed (see Gen. 12:1-3). This is how biblical dominion and transformation will take place.
Separating the ecclesia from the local church will not accomplish this task because mobile churches in the context of a business or political system do not engender strong family structures, nor are they equipped or called to!
In the local church, older men and women are to be treated as fathers and mothers. Younger men and women are to be treated as our brothers and sisters, or sons and daughters (see 1 Tim. 5:1-2). This produces the greatest learning environment in which to teach discipleship, because the kingdom of God is based on relationships. This is also potentially the greatest equipping center to bring healing to individuals and enact policy change for cities and nations.
Separating business and marketplace leaders from the local church has historically been a disaster. It is also one of the primary reasons we have lost the culture in the United States. Mark Noll (read his great book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind) and others have done a great job documenting the fact that Ivy League universities abandoned the Christian worldview when pastors and clergy were replaced as the college presidents by business and community leaders during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Recently, I spoke to one major Southern Baptist leader and asked why so many Christian colleges eventually lose their Christian identity and become bastions for liberalism. He told me the colleges that stay connected to a local church or keep their school under the auspices of the church usually stay biblically focused but those schools that separate from the local church historically become liberal, lose their Christian voice, and compromise biblical values within a few decades. Consequently, if Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the other Ivy League schools stayed under the guidance of local church leadership, they would still be churning out future presidents of nations and Fortune 500 CEOs for the kingdom and glory of God!
When it gets down to it, perhaps the real challenge we have is our lack of apostolic local churches led by apostolic leaders with a leadership lid capable of leading high-impact marketplace leaders called apostolically to culture. The answer isn’t to jettison the church—which would be against the biblical pattern laid out in the New Testament—but to reform the church so that apostolic strategies and leadership become the norm, not the exception.
If you are a marketplace leader who is frustrated because your local church doesn’t have apostolic vision, then ask the Lord what to do. Perhaps He will lead you to another church that is more regional and kingdom in its scope. But whatever you do, don’t use your situation to change your theology in an attempt to justify your independence from the local church.
Joseph Matterahas been in full-time ministry since 1980 and is currently the presiding bishop of Christ Covenant Coalition and Overseeing Bishop of Resurrection in New York, a multiethnic congregation of 40 nationalities that has successfully developed numerous leaders and holistic ministry in the New York region and beyond.Click hereto visit his website.
Two thousand years ago, the most incredible, important event in human history took place. A short, Jewish, little-known, itinerant preacher in the far eastern parts of the Roman Empire, a homeless man, a man who had a small group of followers, a man who was saying things that no one else had ever said, a man that many believed to be a prophet and even the Messiah, this man raised himself from the dead! And for two thousand years, we have formed a group of people called Christians, the Church, who worship this man because we believe that this resurrection was the beginning of everything changing. We believe that this man made a promise to everyone on earth that someday he would redeem and rescue us all.
For those of us who find ourselves hopeless, afraid of death, sick, injured, forgotten, and lonely, we look at this Lord, this beaten, embarrassed homeless man, crucified, naked on a Roman cross who raised himself from the dead. We look to this man and believe that, because he raised himself from the dead and what he said was true, he will redeem, restore, and rescue everything all because he loves it and he intends to save it.
Jesus Christ our Lord, who raised himself from the dead 2,000 years ago, intends to save everything, and that’s what Easter is about. He’s our great Rescuer and he’s coming to save us.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for giving us hope in a future filled with redemption, restoration, and rescue. Your sacrifice for all humankind opens the door for those that believe the door to eternity. I love you forever. Amen.
Devotion: How has your life been redeemed, restored, and/or rescued through the grace of God?
I stood on top of Mount Calvary just days ago–a few feet from the spot where His blood touched the ground. On that day, God gave His very best, His only begotten Son, as an offering to you and me to purchase our salvation. As I prayed and gave thanks and thought about His great sacrifice, I felt lead to give my best offering on Resurrection Sunday. I am giving my gift today to celebrate my Lord and bless His Chosen People. Will you join me?
Our work to defend Israel and the Jewish people through prayer is so vital right now. I spent last week in Israel as your ambassador to encourage a nation in crisis. I ask that you join me in prayer for the peace of Jerusalem. And I ask that you stand with us financially right now. We will be caring for the poor of Israel, especially the elderly Holocaust survivors, all through the Passover week from your home in the Holy City–the Jerusalem World Center. And we must continue this great prayer movement on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people.
Passover is a holy and sacred time of year. The weeklong Feast of Unleavened Bread is a celebration of God’s deliverance and protection for His people, but for the poor and hungry, especially for the elderly Holocaust survivors, it is anything but a happy time.
Today I’m asking you to help us provide food for the entire week of Passover for these precious people. I have been in Jerusalem to represent you as we share the message of hope and Christian love with them. Your gift today will provide meals for the hungry–meeting one of their most urgent needs. We will continue to distribute food and help throughout this festive week. Please send your gift today to bless the Holocaust survivors of Jerusalem and the poor of the house of Israel.
With your gift of $40 or more, we will send you a beautiful set of coasters. Made especially for members of the Jerusalem Prayer Team, these blue and white coasters show the Star of David and the word “peace.” Every time you use them, you will be reminded to pray for the peace of Jerusalem.
When you send your gift of $100 or more, we will send you the coasters and a copy of the photo from Auschwitz that I received in Israel last week. This incredible picture will be a constant reminder to you to continue to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and the protection of Israel, as well as a great way to share the need for our prayers with everyone who sees it. I treasure this picture greatly, and I know you will treasure yours as well.
Your support of the Jerusalem Prayer Team allows us to continue our work on the Christian Zionist Heritage Center, to stand up and speak out for Israel, and to meet urgent humanitarian needs among the poor Jewish people living in Israel. Thank you so much for being part of this vital worldwide prayer movement.
I really want you to hear today what the good news is all about. It would be a great tragedy for
you to come to this service and for me not to very simply and in a down-to-earth way explain why the Gospel is the good news. That word, gospel, in the first verse means good news. Put that in the margin
of your Bible. The Gospel is the good news. In these verses of Scripture the Word of God tells us
exactly what the good news is all about.
In verse 3 he says that “Christ died for our sins.” When I was a boy I used to wonder why
they referred to the Friday before Easter Sunday, the day the Lord was supposedly crucified, as Good
Friday. What would be the good news about somebody dying? You and I know that the death of the
Lord Jesus is good news because this verse tells us “Christ died for our sins.” It’s good news to know
that we have a Savior who died on the cross in order to pay the penalty for our sins. So, the Gospel is
the good news that Christ died for our sins.
Notice in verse 4 he says, “and that He was buried.” It is also good news that Jesus Christ was
buried and that for three days and nights His body was in the tomb. The burial of Jesus is the good
news that Christ has not only paid the price for our sins, but just as He was buried in a tomb our sins
have been put away, they have been buried. That’s why when I was a teenager we used to sing the
“Gone, gone, gone, yes my sins are gone. Now, my sins are gone and in my heart’s
a song. Buried in the deepest sea, yes, that’s good enough for me. I shall reign
with Him eternally. Praise God, my sins are gone.”
So, it’s good news that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. It is good news that Jesus Christ’s
body was buried in the tomb. Look at the 4th verse again and see what kind of punctuation mark you
have after the statement, “He was buried.” Verse 4 says, “and that He was buried,…” What’s the
punctuation mark in your Bible after the word, buried? Is it a period or a comma? It is a comma. If it
was a period, there wouldn’t be any good news that Jesus died and that He was buried.
I served two years as President of the Southern Baptist Convention. During those years the
movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, came out. It was a rather controversial movie because of its
blasphemy. The producers invited me to come to New York City for a pre-showing of the movie. I
didn’t go; I learned a long time ago that you don’t have to stick your head in a garbage can to know it
smells. To be truthful, I’ve never gotten all excited about Hollywood portraying the Bible. I just about
as soon hear the Mafia lecture on honesty.
The tragedy of the movie, The Last Temptation of Christ, (an …
1. That question used to be a very simple question that
called for a simple answer. But thanks to what is now known
as the “Information Super Highway,” that has become a
deeply complicated question.
2. Go to any news sight on the Internet, and you will be
bombarded with a series of choices. It’s not so simple just
to call up the news. Because when you go to any news
website, you have to make a decision. Do you want local
news? National? International? Financial? Political?
Social? Medical? and on and on it goes.
3. Even then, you are not completely finished because you
must evaluate any news that you read or hear today, because
you can’t believe everything you read in the newspaper, nor
can you believe everything you see on a computer.
4. There was an Illinois man who left the snow-filled
streets of Chicago for a vacation in Florida. His wife was
on a business trip and was planning to meet him there the
next day. When he reached his hotel, he thought he would
send his wife a quick e-mail.
5. However, he could not find the scrap of paper on which
he had written her e-mail address, so he tried to type it
from memory. Unfortunately, he missed one letter and
mistakenly sent his note to an elderly woman whose husband
had passed away just the day before.
6. When this grieving widow checked her e-mail, she took
one look at the monitor, read the message, let out a
tremendous scream, and fell to the floor in a dead faint.
Her family rushed into the room and saw this note on the
Just got checked in. Everything prepared for your arrival
Your loving husband
P. S. It sure is hot down here!
7. I am afraid the way most people will treat Easter; they
really have not heard the news. Now Easter is both about
bad news, but it is also about good news. In Eph. 2:1-7 we
have, what I call, Easter’s headline news. You notice that
verse one of chapter two begins with the word “And.” That
tells us that what we are about to read is connected with
what has already been written a few verses before.
8. In verses 19 and 20 we see that the news was all about
the resurrection of Jesus Christ. “And what is the
exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe,
acording to the working of His mighty power which He worked
in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him
at His right hand in the heavenly places.”
9. Now there is more to the news of the resurrection of Jesus Christ than just the fact that Jesus was raised from
the dead. Because that news in and of itself is good news,
but it’s good news because of the bad news, the better
news, and the best news.
I. The Bad News: Man Is Lost
1. Now I know by saying that “man is lost” I have
stepped into a politically incorrect (and some would say
spiritually incorrect) …
Ray Frank Robbins said the cross represents the saddest and gladdest day in history. It answers two questions for us. How far will man go in his rejection of God? The answer is he will go all the way. Even to the point of nailing the perfect Son of God to a Roman cross. However, the cross also represents the gladdest day in history and answers another question for us. How far will God go in redeeming mankind? The answer is he will go all the way. Even to the point of allowing his Son to be the sacrifice for sin.
Today, on this Palm Sunday, I want us to examine the cross by looking at some prepositions that will help give an explanation as to what the cross should mean to each one of us.
1. JESUS CAME TO SAVE SINNERS.
“For the Son of Man has come to seek and save that which was lost.” He sought out the Rich Young Ruler, Bartimaeus, and Zacchaeus in this scriptural context.
1. He was predicted.
There are many prophesies in the Old Testament that Jesus would come into the world as the redeemer.
The first prophesy is Genesis 3:15. Moses predicted his coming in Deuteronomy. Isaiah prophesied so clearly that you would think he was there when it happened, Isaiah 53. Micah pinpointed the place of his birth. Malachi predicted his forerunner, John the Baptist.
2. He was presented.
John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world.” John was willing to step back into the background when Jesus came on the scene.
3. He was persuasive.
His teaching was unexcelled. Even Nicodemus recognized that He was a teacher come from God. “No man ever taught like this man taught.” He combined authority and compassion. He appealed to the common man.
His miracles should have been enough to convince the most ardent skeptic. He healed the lame, restored eyesight …