gospel

It’s Time For War

war

This is the tenth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


As we move closer to transitioning the Garretson Campus to an independent church, I have noticed the subtle effects of spiritual warfare have been magnified. Small disagreements threaten to bring division, obstacles appear to be impossible to overcome, and discouragement attempts to reign over my thoughts.

God reminded me of a truth this week that has placed things into perspective: We are overthrowing the dark forces of evil in this community and we must expect resistance. It’s time to fall on our knees and storm the gates of hell with the weapon of prayer.

Jared Wilson explains what happens when the kingdom of darkness is pierced by the light of the Gospel:
“The Devil is like a rat in a jar that is filling with ether. We should expect that as his death gets ever-nearer, he will beat his claws more furiously against the glass… As the Gospel takes over your ministry and the kingdom of God grows in your church like yeast in dough, you can expect that our enemy will not go quietly.” 

As we enter into a season of warfare, here are three principles we must keep in mind:

1. People are not the enemy.
Even if people are the source of persecution, insults, or division – we must never attack the person as if they are the enemy. Paul makes it clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood, instead it is against the powers of darkness that wreak havoc in our communities (Ephesians 6:12).

We must rejoice when we are insulted, persecuted, or slandered. When this happens we know that our reward will be great for we are experiencing the same thing as the prophets and apostles who have gone before us (see Matthew 5:11-12). In retaliation for the offense, we must not be overcome with evil but rather overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

2. We fight FROM victory not for victory. 
When David conquered Goliath, the war was already won. The once trembling and fearful Israelites overwhelmed the Philistines and slaughtered them (1 Samuel 17). In the same way, Jesus has already disarmed Satan and all of his demons by triumphing over them through the cross (Colossians 2:15).

We are invited to follow our Warrior-King into battle – knowing that the victory is already secured. Satan may let out a furious scream but the ether of the Gospel will suffocate his power. We do not need to fight for the victory because the victory has already been achieved through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

3. Our weapons will demolish strongholds.
Every community – especially rural ones – have demonic strongholds of addiction and false religion. These fortresses seem insurmountable but we must remember the weapons God has entrusted to us. We do not wage war with bullets, fire, or bombs. Instead, our weapons have been infused with a divine power to demolish strongholds, arguments, and every pretension that sets itself up against Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Friends, commit to the Scriptures and prayer daily. We must renew our minds so that we do not conform to the toxic pattern of this world (Romans 12:1). If we submit our lives to God and resist the Devil he will flee from us (James 4:7). We must battle by laboring in intercession for our families, communities, and churches in order to crush the ugly face of the ancient serpent.

It’s time for war.

 

#BLESSED = Health & Wealth??

blessed

In the Western church, we assume that wealth, health, happiness, and good relationships are all signs of God’s favor. This is sometimes true… but not always. The so-called prosperity gospel is often cloaked behind the sermons of well-meaning pastors in churches all around the world. To summarize their message: as long as you follow biblical principals then you will experience health & wealth in all areas of your life! God DESIRES you to have PROSPERITY… that’s how you become #blessed.

By this standard, neither Jesus nor any of the Apostles were obeying God.

This so-called gospel is a gross distortion of the truth and has been slowly poisoning the rest of the world. It is garbage exported from the United States and other Western countries. It’s Christianity without a cross – salvation without suffering.

Before you use #blessed in your next social media post as a way of bragging about your accomplishments, let’s see what the blessed life truly is according to Jesus.

In the most famous sermon every preached – the Sermon on the Mount – Jesus opens up by pronouncing as #blessed the following kinds of people (see Matthew 5):

1. Those who are poor in spirit.
This describes all of those who don’t believe in themselves. Those who have realized self-esteem is simply narcissism cloaked in pop-psychology. True life begins at the end of yourself.

2. Those who mourn.
We are uncomfortable with pain. Jesus declares that those experiencing tremendous pain are #blessed. In many of our churches, we would view Jesus as a heretic. We have allowed the American Dream to distort the Gospel.

3. Those who are meek.
In both the business world & church world, it’s those who enlarge their ego and expand their platform that get ahead. Contrasted with this, Jesus calls the meek – those who live with self-forgetfulness – as #blessed.

4. Those who hunger & thirst for righteousness.
Many pulpits in the U.S. are filled with pastors who cater their messages to the self-interests of those in the congregation. We do not need “Five Steps to a Better Marriage” – We need to know the sufficiency of Christ in all things. It’s those who seek God for God that are #blessed; not those who seek God for a better marriage, bigger bank account, or greater influence. If you come to God for anything other than God, that is idolatry.

5. Those who are merciful.
Our natural tendency is to seek revenge. We have a wicked desire to get even when evil is done to us. Those who are blessed by God offer mercy to those who least deserve it – they reflect God’s character. While we were yet sinners… enemies of God… objects of wrath… Christ died for us.

6. Those who are pure in heart.
#Blessed are those who love others for other’s sake. As Christians, we are commanded to put the interests of other people before ourselves – this is impossible without the empowerment of the Spirit. Is your heart pure before God? Or is it mixed with dangerous contamination from this world?

7. Those who are peacemakers.
Many of us often seek division & discord. We gossip about the leaders in our churches; make controversial Facebook posts for the purpose of getting a reaction; and argue about secondary issues in the Christian faith. Are you making peace or sowing discord?

8. Those who are persecuted, insulted, and spoken falsely about.
If you follow Jesus, you will be persecuted. If everyone speaks well of you it is because you are ashamed of the Gospel. To some people this message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is the aroma of life. For others, this message is the rotten stench of death.


Jesus lived the life you couldn’t live; died the death YOU deserve to die; and rose victoriously from the dead. He offers forgiveness & eternal life to all who come to him by faith. True blessing is not found in earthly prosperity, healthy bodies, or positive thinking. It is only found through the death & resurrection of the King of kings. 

A Daily Death (New Message)

Current Series

A Daily Death (Click to Open)

Many people view the Gospel as a means to become rich and achieve supernatural health. The has been propagated by ministers who preach the so-called “prosperity gospel.” This false teaching has been spurred into popularity by the materialistic society which exists in the western world.

In opposition to this, Jesus teaches us that an invitation to follow Him is actually an invitation to come and die (Luke 9:23). I unpack this truth and it’s implications for our lives in this message.

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will have to go to the actual page to hear the message.)