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Posts tagged ‘Gospel’

{ Day 339 }.

I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ—Galatians 1:11-12

One of the characteristics of prophetic revelation is that it is sometimes allegorical or symbolic, and it is fully understood only after future events have taken place. From the Old Testament perspective, it was not altogether clear what the Messiah would look like. The prophets foretold the coming of both a kingly Messiah and a suffering servant, but no one even remotely considered that both were the same person. Obviously, kingly messiahs aren’t servants, and they don’t suffer. Even the disciples had a hard time with it. The Gospels, especially the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), show how baffled the disciples were. The messianic secret is a theme that runs throughout all the synoptic Gospels. They had a very difficult time figuring out who Jesus was and the nature of His eternal kingdom. We have to be careful about locking in on our interpretation of prophetic revelation lest we miss what God is trying to say to us and do with us.


Father, I love when You speak through Your Spirit to me with revelation that helps me to understand the allegorical and symbolic examples You have placed in Your Word to reveal Yourself to Your people. Help me to clearly understand Your revelation through these methods.

Carelessly interpreted prophetic revelation
can cause chaos in someone’s life.


What Hebrews Teaches Us about Preaching.

I think I can make a pretty good case that Hebrews was a sermon, probably, in fact, a handful of sermons stitched together to respond to the urgent needs of a community in crisis. (You’re just going to have to trust me on this one.) Here I want to reflect on three things aspiring pastors like myself—and, I suspect, seasoned ones too—can learn from the wise pastor who prepared this sermon.

#1: What sort of sermons—solutions—should we offer? The pastor models for us what we should do to address the needs of people within our churches. He’s met with a problem as multi-faceted as it is urgent and he thinks long enough about it to tell the difference between its implications and its cause. Then he identifies what part of his community’s confession—what part of the Gospel—they needed to hear to confront their problem and heal their spiritual disease at its source (for a summary, see, esp., 4:14–16; 10:19–21). Pretty straightforward. It’s pretty simple, even if it’s not often very easy. There’s quite a bit more I might say about this one, but let me here simply draw out two further implications. First, we need to listen. That’s right. Listen. We need to spend the energy necessary to get the “pulse” of our communities, to know our people’s hurts, disappointments, fears, accusations, doubts, etc. (After all, we’re not looking to do exploratory surgery with every sermon.) To put it another way, as pastors we’ve got more than one “text” to exegete each week. And, added to this, we need to follow Hebrews lead and commit ourselves to a robust, probing grasp of the Gospel so that we’re ready and able to faithfully, nimbly, and insightfully bring it to bear on the needs of our flocks.

#2: What shape should our sermons—our solutions—take? The pastor also models how we should bring the Gospel to bear on our community’s needs. He doesn’t simply meet their problems with Gospel aphorisms, with naked Gospel propositions, with—forgive the way I’m going to put this—dogmatic theology. Rather, he brings the Gospel to bear by placing his people and their problems within God’s story. He meets their needs with biblical theology. He places his friends, first, in the story’s broadest context—Jesus and Adam (1:5–14; 2:5–9, 10–18)—and, then, in one of its narrower story-lines: Jesus and Israel (spec. Levi; 5:1–10; 7:1–10, 11–28; 8:1–13; 9:1–10, 11–28; 10:1–18). In both places, the author shows the audience that what the Gospel asserts about Jesus corresponds to what earlier parts of the story anticipated and, moreover, prepares the audience for the story’s next chapter. We might say, then, that there’s a satisfying movement, complete with an eschatology, to the author’s response.

#3: How should our sermons—our solutions—be administered? Finally, the pastor models for us how our sermons—our solutions—should be administered. At the heart of his response (see, e.g., 10:22–25, esp. vv. 24–25), the pastor insists that the community of faith—the church—is an indispensable part of the solution, an urgently-important means of grace. If the gospel work of our sermons is to have its full effect, the church must be actively involved. The pastor encourages his friends to follow his example and do the hard work of insightfully-preaching the Gospel to one another. The pastor makes it clear, in other words, that his and the other elders’ leadership was insufficient. His friends needed the member-to-member ministry of the word; they needed the pastoral oversight of the community itself.

This article was used with permission from

by Jared Compton

{ Day 331 }.

I wait for your salvation, O Lord, and I follow your commands. I obey your statutes, for I love them greatly. I obey your precepts and your statutes, for all my ways are known to you. —Psalm 119:166-168

We stumble over the fact that God doesn’t speak or act the way we think He should. But from Isaiah we learn not to manufacture our own light when we walk in darkness. From Saul we learn not to run ahead of God when the answer is delayed. From the Gospels we learn that God’s silence does not mean we are rejected or unloved; it must be understood in the light of God’s redemptive purposes. For those who have allowed the Holy Spirit to perform His work in their lives, the “Why, God?” questions are accompanied by a growing peace and trust rather than disillusionment and unbelief. God wants us to learn to be at peace in our souls by virtue of our relationship with Him, not by virtue of the information about our circumstances that we sometimes receive from Him. People searching for God’s peace and comfort often look for it by asking God for information about their future. But He wants our peace to come first by fixing any problems in our personal relationship with Him.


Father, how often I run ahead of You and question, “Why?” Teach me to be at peace with Your purposes because of the trusting relationship I have with You.

Our “Why, God?” questions are a normal
part of the walk of faith for all
of us until the very end.


{ Day 329 }.

I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. —Psalm 27:13-14

God‘s personality is infinite in its complexity and creativity. We think of God as being perfect in every way. God has a divine personality, perfect in His wisdom, love, and goodness. His dealing with each of us is in terms of building a relationship of love. But more often than not, our monolithic misunderstanding of how God should act in a given circumstance sometimes causes His action to seem contrary to our way of thinking. One of the things we should learn from the Gospels is that Jesus often did not answer people in the way we think our Lord should have. Then, when we think He should have answered, He was silent. At times when we suppose He should have intervened, He was inactive. If for no other reason than this, prophetic ministers should be careful not to presume what God should say or do in any given situation.


Keep me, Spirit, from drawing conclusions about Your ways. You are infinitely more wise and knowing than I could ever understand. I will patiently wait to see what You have planned for me and for Your people.

We sometimes draw wrong conclusions from
God’s silence or His presumable lack
of intervention on our behalf.


Does the Gospel Come With Strings Attached?.

Has the gospel become merely a business transaction for some? (Sandralise/

Even with the best of intentions, things have a way of going south. When we launched our outreachministry at Mariners Church in Orange County, Calif., the first thing we thought to do was meet the basic needs of the people we were serving. Sounds reasonable, right? They need groceries; we’ll give them a bag of food. They need winter coats? Got it. School supplies? Check. Then we’ll teach them about Jesus, and they’ll pray the prayer and bam! We’re all good.

But wait. If we really believe in an irresistible Savior whose love is the most powerful force on Earth, why do we cling to manipulative tools and gimmicks to all but bribe someone into the kingdom of heaven?

Let’s say you’re handing out mosquito nets in an African village. The long line of people waiting is a clear sign they really need what you’ve brought. It’s a captive audience. As you pass the nets across the folding table, do you say, “This is a free gift to you and all your neighbors from God-loving people who care about you”? Or do you start asking them about their relationship with Christ?

There’s a subtlety here I don’t want you to miss because I have missed it many times. If you’re still holding on to the gift as you ask them about Jesus, there’s a very good chance the two will be connected in their minds—and not in the way you may have intended. Just for a moment, they may think something such as, “Do I need to say yes to Jesus to get this net?”

If/Then Generosity

Most of the time, we’re unaware that we’re still hanging on to the gift, but sometimes we are. At these times, the way we present the gospel can feel like a business transaction: “If you give me this or respond to what I’m asking, then Jesus will do this for you. He’ll save you from hell if you say these words. He’ll provide a meal for you if you raise your hand.”

Certainly there are people who recognize the business aspect and work the system to their advantage. But the people we minister to have taught us that receiving the gospel is more than just a simple transaction.

We often assume we need material resources to motivate people. But more often, despite the apparent material needs they have, the resources aren’t what they really want. More than anything, what they want and need is relationship.

Being Authentically Generous

This transactional method—offering people a reward for the right behavior or response—is very effective at motivating people. Intentionally or not, we manipulate people using the power of stuff. But when we achieve success this way, though our numbers may look great, the success we achieve isn’t consistent with the heart of the gospel message.

Transactional ministry is often done with good motives, but I wonder if deep down we embrace it because we like the immediate, visible results and how they make us feel. The people we are serving need what we offer them, even if they have to jump through a hoop to get it. Yet true spiritual fruit isn’t always produced immediately. And when we minister in this way, we focus on the short-term results and lack faith in God’s work over the long haul.

So is there a way for us to be authentically generous with people without trying to get something in return? Yes. It’s generosity that overflows from a heart that is satisfied in God, a heart that’s willing and ready to sacrifice for others—not to get something in return but as the natural fruit of God’s love for us. And this requires a deeper commitment to knowing and loving people.

Our conversations about Jesus shouldn’t be the only ones we have with the people we serve. We have to earn the right to be heard and to share the gospel with people. And we do this to sacrificially love and serve them—not because we have to but because we want to. When it comes to the work of Jesus, we need to show up with a loving heart and open arms, letting the Holy Spirit do the work of bringing people closer to God.



Laurie Beshore is the founding pastor of Mariners Outreach Ministries in Orange County, Calif. She has been married for 34 years to Kenton Beshore, the senior pastor of Mariners Church ( Adapted with permission from Love Without Walls: Learning to Be a Church in the World for the World by Laurie Beshore (Zondervan).

Op-Ed: Pastors Call for Global Billy Graham Revival.


Image: Op-Ed: Pastors Call for Global Billy Graham Revival


By A. Larry Ross

Dour stories currently dominate the media — a government shutdown, talk of defunding the Affordable Care Act, the global economy just limping along, and conflicts raging in the Middle East.

But amidst the negative news, an unprecedented phenomenon occurred the last weekend of September, as the good news of the Gospel was simultaneously preached by six of the pre-eminent evangelists of our time in separately organized evangelistic crusades, festivals, and celebrations across the country and around the world.

And in November, coinciding with Billy Graham‘s 95th birthday, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association will sponsor My Hope America with Billy Graham.

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Thousands of individuals from more than 22,000 participating churches will gather with friends and family in their homes to watch programs featuring a new message from the veteran evangelist. Even if the government shuts down, God will never shut down, not so long as there are those who are passionate to share His message with the hopeless.

“America needs hope, and the church has two secret weapons — preaching and praying,” said Greg Laurie, whose Harvest America Crusade in Philadelphia on Sept. 28-29 was live-streamed to more than 22 countries.

“But we don’t use them enough, because we spend too much time boycotting and complaining. Harvest America demonstrates the potential of what can happen when we focus on the two things the Lord has commanded us to do,” Laurie said.

Bright spots glowed in the darkness from cellphones held by young people packed shoulder-to-shoulder, their cellphone screens glowing, inside dimmed arenas and stadiums across the United States, Europe, Asia, and Africa to hear the Gospel message.

In Philadelphia, as Christian rapper Lecrae chanted into the microphone, “You get one life and it will pass; only what you do for Christ will last,” a girl in the front row recorded a few verses on her phone then posted the video to her Twitter feed.

Across the floor of the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, many of the 27,500 attending used social media during performances by Kirk Franklin, Jeremy Camp, and MercyMe. By the end of the weekend of prayer, and messages from Harvest America evangelist Greg Laurie, nearly 2,500 people in the arena made faith commitments — which more than doubled with the Internet response.

Thousands of attendees shared their experiences on social media, including group “selfies,” or self-portrait photos. These yielded 51,000 likes, 24,000 tweets, and 13,600 Instagram photos, catapulting #HarvestAmerica as the No. 1 trending Twitter topic both evenings.

Over the same weekend, five other major evangelistic crusades were held around the world, including Reinhard Bonnke in Orlando, Jay Lowder in Northern Ireland, Will Graham in Japan, and Franklin Graham in Iceland.

In Orlando, Bonnke announced he’ll take his Good News crusade to more cities across the country, proclaiming “Our God is able … We don’t look into the past, we look into the future. And the Gospel is our nation’s future.”

And yet, to accurately gauge the future of the Gospel message in America and the world, we can look to the past — at history, when seasons of great social and political upheaval dovetailed with emerging technologies and entire generations responded with tidal waves of religious fervor.

In an era of political unrest and bureaucracy in the Catholic Church, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses of Contention to the church door in Wittenberg, Germany. Thanks to Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press a half-century earlier, Luther’s ideas spread  across Europe, spawning the Protestant Reformation.

As the Industrial Revolution began crowding a formerly rural population into urban centers, people began to doubt the cold, rational ideas of the Enlightenment. At the same time, revivalist preachers such as John Wesley and George Whitefield, and activist William Wilberforce spearheaded movements to address social ills and found missionary societies.

By the 1950s, television and radio were ubiquitous in households across the Western hemisphere; in a society turned upside down by Cold War nuclear fears, the Civil Rights movement, and economic woes, evangelists like Oral Roberts and Billy Graham sought to steer the panicked masses back to assurances of Christ’s power for salvation. According to Rick Marshall, Graham’s longtime crusade director, Billy Graham was “a creative genius for the utilization of media,” and was among the first to leverage new mediums for the presentation of the Gospel.

It is no secret that we as a global community have entered a time of great tribulation: Ireland and Japan face high suicide rates; Japan still struggles with the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown; Iceland, like other European nations, struggles with a post-Christian secular culture; the U.S. government can’t seem to agree on anything; and people are concerned for the future of healthcare.

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Though the Internet is an effective tool for spreading ideas and innovation, it also scatters bad news far and wide — more than ever, people need the good news. At a recent Jesus Culture conference in California, Bonnke declared that God “takes the nobodies and turns them into somebodies.” As never before seen in history, smartphones and social media have equipped the individual believer — the Everyman Christian — to become an influencer for transformative change.

As the use of social media baptizes the globe, evangelists such as Lowder, Bonnke, Laurie, and the Grahams have a unique opportunity to amplify the numbers of those touched through mass-evangelism events by also reaching out to their online social networks.

Larry Ross is president of A. Larry Ross Communications, a Dallas-based media/public relations agency that provides crossover media liaison at the intersection of faith and culture. With more than 37 years’ experience influencing public opinion, Ross’ mission is to restore faith in media by providing Christian messages relevance and meaning in mainstream media.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Billy Graham on Sin, Salvation and ‘Trendy Religion’.


Billy Graham
Billy Graham

Evangelist Billy Graham, who preached the gospel for more than seven decades, has written his 32nd book:The Reason for My Hope: Salvation.

The book, to be released Oct. 15, comes at a time when the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association finishes preparations for the “My Hope America” evangelistic campaign that will involve more than 21,000 churches in November.

Here is a sampling of the thoughts of the 94-year-old evangelist in his newest book:

“The truth is that every last one of us is born in sin, and while some may not think of themselves as sinners, God does. He hears every word we utter and knows the deepest secrets we lock away in the vaults of our hearts.”

‘Trendy Religion’
“Many churches of all persuasions are hiring research agencies to poll neighborhoods, asking what kind of church they prefer; then the local churches design themselves to fit the desires of the people. True faith in God that demands selflessness is being replaced by trendy religion that serves the selfish.”

A ‘Simple’ Gospel
“I am afraid that many Christians, in their zeal to share their faith in Christ, have made the Gospel message of making disciples for Him too simple. Just to say ‘believe in Christ’ can produce a false assurance of the hope of Heaven. Jesus spoke often about the gift of eternal life. To make it clear, He said, ‘Count the cost.’”

‘Earning’ Salvation
“Giving up something to follow Christ is not earning salvation; it is giving up what keeps you from salvation. When we hold on to something that is dearer to us than receiving the greater gift of salvation in Christ, we lose.”

‘When Terror Strikes’
“We see the world kicking God out of education, government, marriages, the home, and even church. Yet when terror strikes, people clasp their hands and bend their knees, calling on God to meet them in their time of distress, asking Him to lift their burden, begging for a different outcome.”


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