Monthly Archives: February 2008

 

Feb

29

2008

Trevin Wax|4:49 am CT

In the Blogosphere

Listen to Southern Seminary students Robbie Sagers, Phillip Bethancourt, and Jenny Clark on NPR’s All Things Considered talking about the shady evangelist in the novel Elmer Gantry.

This family has unplugged the TV. Four months later, they testify to what it has done for them spiritually.

Timmy Brister asks some tough questions about evangelism and our confidence in the gospel.

Michael Spencer visits the LifeWay bookstore on Southern Seminary’s campus and notes the lack of spiritual formation books written by life-long Southern Baptists.

Why blog? Zach Nielsen explains why he does.

Joe Thorn on the characteristics of an ingrown church.

Hershael York and Tony Campolo run into each other at an airport.

It’s not too late to register for Band of Bloggers 2008.

Out of all denominations, Baptists are most likely to be obese.

Top Post this Week at Kingdom People: Book Review – Surprised by Hope

 
 

Feb

29

2008

Trevin Wax|3:53 am CT

Gospel Definitions: F.F. Bruce

“Only one saving message is attested by the NT. The “gospel to the circumcision” preached by Peter and his colleagues did not differ in content from the “gospel to the uncircumcised” entrusted to Paul (Gal. 2:7), though the form of presentation might vary according to the audience. Paul’s testimony is, “Whether therefore it was I or they [Peter and his colleagues], so we preach, and so you believed” (1 Cor. 15:11).

The basic elements in the message were these:

1. the prophecies have been fulfilled and the new age inaugurated by the coming of Christ;
2. he was born into the family of David;
3. he died according to the Scriptures, to deliver his people from this evil age;
4. he was buried, and raised again the third day, according to the Scriptures;
5. he is exalted at God’s right hand as Son of God, Lord of living and dead;
6. he will come again, to judge the world and consummate his saving work.”

- F.F. Bruce

 
 

Feb

28

2008

Trevin Wax|11:20 am CT

N.T. Wright on Nightline

Watch N.T. Wright speak about the common misconceptions about heaven that are prevalent in Christian circles today. (Nightline describes Wright’s view as a radical departure from traditional doctrine. Better said, Wright’s view is, for the most part, a robust return to the traditional, biblical view.) The video below is no longer active. Click here to view the file.

Related Articles:
Book Review: Surprised by Hope
You Were Made for Earth: My Interview with Michael Wittmer
My Interview with N.T. Wright

 
 

Feb

28

2008

Trevin Wax|4:03 am CT

Working with the Villagers

romanians.jpg

I spent a lot of time with the village families during my first year in Romania.

Not wanting to be a burden, I knew it was necessary for me to carry my own weight, helping out around the house, helping them do the work in the field, etc. even though I was not one who generally knew how to do these tasks. This was a new experience for me. I think by working in the garden, I demonstrated an attitude that helped endear me to the people.

There were many weekends that we worked in the fields, and although I wasn’t too familiar with this kind of work, eventually I got the hang of it. I knew that my ministry would be boosted by the fact that the village people knew that I knew how to do the work they do, and help out with the outdoor chores.

At the university, I noticed a pervasive mentality among pastoral students that a person training for the pastorate should not get involved with menial tasks like working in the fields or doing some kind of work of this nature. A pastor should be paid for being in the pastorate. He should do his work and let the people do theirs.

I did not agree with this mindset at all. A pastor should be among his people. He should not be foreign to the kind of work they do. If the people do work that is considered menial, he too should be ready to do that kind of work. That’s one way that a pastor can relate to his people.

It is also vital for a pastor to understand his people. That can hardly happen if the pastor has no experience out doing some similar things to what the people are doing. Church people respect a pastor that they know is a hard worker. Even if the pastor is working only as a pastor, as long as he has a strong work ethic, the people in the church notice and respect that. A pastor who is “too-above” the kind of work that takes place in the fields is setting himself up for future resentment on behalf of his church members. It was an invaluable learning experience for me to be able to help in the garden and to be involved with them in what they do.

I think it meant a lot to the villagers that I was willing to pitch in and help whenever there was work to be done. They might have expected me to be “above” that kind of work because I was an American and not used to working in the garden. Even though there was a lot of hard work involved, I knew that I could make this a fun experience for me and for the teens. We would often tease each other and tell jokes and stories to make the time go by faster. Instead of letting the work around the house rob us of our fun, we made the work itself fun.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Feb

28

2008

Trevin Wax|3:18 am CT

Church Bulletin Humor 5

• The Rector will preach his farewell message after which the choir will sing “Break Forth into Joy.”
• Irving Benson and Jessie Carter were married on October 24 in the church. So ends a friendship that began in their school days.
• Eight new choir robes are currently needed, due to the addition of several new members and to the deterioration of some older ones.
• Scouts are saving aluminum cans, bottles, and other items to be recycled. Proceeds will be used to cripple children.
• Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person(s) you want remembered.

 
 

Feb

27

2008

Trevin Wax|3:35 am CT

Book Review: Surprised by Hope

Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the ChurchFor three months in the summer of 2004, I labored through N.T. Wright’s massive book, The Resurrection of the Son of God - an important work for anyone interested in the historical evidence for the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Resurrection of the Son of God significantly deepened my appreciation for Easter. Wright’s research bolstered my confidence in the historicity of the New Testament accounts, but more than that, it helped me to understand why the Resurrection was necessary and why it is so important to Christian theology.

Needless to say, I was happy to discover that Wright was working on an edited, popular-level supplement to The Resurrection of the Son of God. Fast forward to 2008. Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church has been released, a sequel of sorts to Simply Christian. (And yes, the allusions to C.S. Lewis’ works Mere Christianity and Surprised by Joy are an intentional advertising gimmick, although readers quickly discover that the comparisons to Lewis do have some merit.)

In Surprised by Hope, Wright attempts to do three things. First, he exposes current Christianity’s muddled views of the afterlife by taking us through the historical evidence for and the theological explanation of Jesus’ resurrection. Second, he answers questions regarding eschatology that necessarily arise from his Resurrection theology – showing how his eschatological framework best fits the New Testament witness. Third, he shows how the Christian’s future hope of resurrection forms the foundation for current social action, evangelism, and spirituality.

For those familiar with Wright’s previous work on the resurrection, Surprised by Hope will not surprise you (no pun intended). For years now, Wright has been advocating a return to a more biblical, more creation-centered, more Jewish understanding of the future hope of new heavens and new earth. Other theologians have been speaking up about this subject too, in hopes that a more robust view of heaven will reenergize our Kingdom efforts on earth. (Michael Wittmer’s Heaven Is a Place on Earth and Randy Alcorn’s textbook-styled Heaven come to mind.)

But Surprised by Hope stands out in the amount of material that Wright is able to incorporate into a single volume and in the moving way in which he makes his case. This book carries an emotional resonance rarely encountered among works of theology. At times, Wright’s description of the Christian hope so moved me that I found myself wiping away tears.

Surprised by Hope contains many paradoxes, which is what we have come to expect from a theologian like Wright. Here are a few examples:

  • Wright argues forcefully for Christ’s bodily resurrection (to the “Amens” of his conservative readers), but then shows why that must necessarily inform our view of the Christian’s future hope (and the picture is significantly different [i.e. grander!] than what conservatives have generally taught). 
  • He devotes significant space to eschatology, firmly disagreeing with the Preterist position, while admitting that Jesus’ prophecies concerned the Fall of Jerusalem.
  • Dispensationalists will not countenance his interpretation of Revelation or Daniel, and yet Amillennialists will be surprised by his refusal to spiritualize the Kingdom in ways that detract from an earthy application.
  • Reformed readers will have trouble with Wright’s “New Perspective on Paul”  that surfaces in a couple of places, and yet they will applaud his Kuyperian stance on the lordship of Christ over all creation.
  • Roman Catholics will disagree with Wright’s decisive rejection of purgatory and praying to the saints, but some Protestants may be equally puzzled about Wright leaving room for Christians to pray for the dead (not for their salvation, mind you, but only for their rest!).
  • Traditionalists will be glad to see Wright rejecting universalism and affirming the existence of hell, and yet, Wright’s innovative view of hell (in terms of dehumanization) is more akin to C.S. Lewis than to anything clearly taught in Scripture. (Wright’s view serves as middle way between annihilationism and the traditional view of eternal torment.)

Pastors would do well to read the final chapters of Surprised by Hope. Wright gives food for thought on the nature of mission work and evangelism. He also offers practical advice on reinvigorating our anemic Easter celebrations.

Surprised by Hope will be one of Wright’s most widely-read books. Though readers should proceed with caution regarding some of Wright’s proposals, the wheat in this book far outweighs the chaff.

written by Trevin Wax. copyright © 2008 Kingdom People Blog.

Related Articles:
N.T. Wright Speaking of “Heaven” on ABC’s Nightline
You Were Made for Earth: My Interview with Michael Wittmer
Review of John Piper’s The Future of Justification
My Interview with N.T. Wright

 
 

Feb

26

2008

Trevin Wax|4:01 am CT

Preaching that Tickles the Ear

preacher.jpg“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions…” - 2 Timothy 4:3

Pastors who tickle the ears. Many of us read this verse and nod our heads in agreement.

Ahh, yes. Lord, deliver us from the liberals who don’t believe anything and don’t preach anything!

Lord, deliver us from those who give good advice and moral platitudes without the good news of individual salvation!

Lord, deliver us from the stand-up comics who fill stadiums with ear-tickling, side-splitting sermons that are all about us and not about God!

But are these the only examples of preaching that tickles the ear?

Is it possible to preach harshly against certain sins and yet still be an ear-tickling preacher?

I say yes, and here’s why.

The human heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. We think that preaching hard messages with hard truths will necessarily keep us out of the “ear-tickling” category. But such is not the case. Paul tells Timothy that itching ears want teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. And many congregations hope to hear a preacher who every week will tell them what’s wrong with everybody else.

Itching ears? Judge for yourself. 

The congregation of teetotalers who hires a pastor who every week, without fail, will condemn alcohol in the pulpit…

The congregation of staunch Republicans who hires a pastor that will preach against “the gays, the liberals, and the environmentalist wackos” every week…

The congregation of Calvinists who hire a pastor that will preach against the errors of those pesky Arminians every week…

The congregation of door-to-door evangelists who hire a pastor that will rail against all the namby-pamby ”lifestyle” conversations that pass for evangelism in this day…

Can you hear the hearty “Amens” coming from the pews? Yes, Lord! Help us not to be like those timid Christians! Help us not be like those divine-sovereignty-denying Arminians! Thank you, Lord for delivering us from the liberals of this country! Thank you, Lord that we’re not like the social drinkers!

Suddenly, the Amen corner sounds more like the Pharisee than the tax collector. 

Don’t misunderstand me. There are times when a pastor should address the issues above.

But let’s not underestimate the evil intentions of the human heart. We crave a message that puffs us up. And ironically, the very message that is supposed to cut us low, the message of the cross can be delivered in such a way that people walk out of the congregation having patted themselves on the back. Thank God I’m not like those people!

Ear-tickling preaching may be more common than we think. Ear-tickling preaching may step on toes, but they’re never the toes of the people in the pews or the pastor in the pulpit.

Lord, deliver us from ear-tickling preaching of all kinds. Even the kind of ear-tickling that comes from hard, pulpit-pounding preaching!

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

Related Articles:
Spurgeon’s Advice to Seminarians on the Gospel
Let Grace Abound in Us, Fellow Seminary Students
Joel Osteen’s Negative Message

 
 

Feb

26

2008

Trevin Wax|3:32 am CT

Gospel Definitions: Mark Dever

“Here is what I understand the good news to be: the good news is that the one and only God, who is holy, made us in his image to know him. But we sinned and cut ourselves off from him. In his great love, God became a man in Jesus, lived a perfect life, and died on the cross, thus fulfilling the law himself and taking on himself the punishment for the sins of all those who would ever turn and trust in him. He rose again from the dead, showing that God accepted Christ’s sacrifice and that God’s wrath against us had been exhausted. He now calls us to repent of our sins and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. If we repent of our sins and trust in Christ, we are born again into a new life, an eternal life with God. Now that is good news.”

from The Gospel and Personal Evangelism

 
 

Feb

25

2008

Trevin Wax|4:54 am CT

Village Life – No Hot Water

57958_1.jpgLiving in a Romanian village was often difficult. Perhaps the biggest issue for me was the absence of hot water. In fact, the Micula family had no running water at all.

Whenever we needed water, we had to draw it from the well outside the house. Using an outhouse wasn’t the end of the world. But whenever I spent a week or a weekend with the Micula family, I found myself pining for a good hot bath or shower, at least once a day. Due to the conditions, that was impossible.

Whenever I wanted to bathe, I had to close off the kitchen, draw water from the well, heat it on the stove and then mix it with cool water until it reached a pleasant temperature. Then I would fill a small plastic tub with the water, a tub hardly big enough to sit in. Needless to say, I would wash myself quickly! To wash my hair, I would dunk my head in a pot of warm water and shampoo and rinse with the water I had prepared in another pot.

You haven’t lived until you’ve taken a cool bath in a tin!

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog

 
 

Feb

25

2008

Trevin Wax|3:25 am CT

Sheep & Goats 5: Least of These

basin.jpg“And the King will answer them,
‘Truly, I say to you,
as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers,
you did it to Me.’”

- Jesus, to the disciples (Matthew 25:40)

In Jesus’ foretelling of the Last Day, a King has separated the righteous from the wicked. As He rewards His followers, He mentions specific actions of kindness that they had performed for Him. But the righteous are puzzled, having no recollection of ever serving the King personally. The King then clarifies: what they did for the least of His brothers, they did for Him.

Much ink has been spilled in heated debate over the phrase “the least of these My brothers.” Some claim that Jesus is referring to any poor and needy person in the world. Others counter that based on passages where “the least of these” specifically refer to Jesus’ disciples, Jesus is judging people based on the care they have given His followers.

When all is said and done, both teachings have biblical support. God has called us to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ, proving that we are a member of His family by showing love and kindness to fellow family members. God has also called us to show mercy to any person in need, even if they are not Christians. Still, in this specific passage, the “least of these” probably refer to Jesus’ disciples, “His brothers” who will soon face persecution and be in dire need.

A common Jewish belief in Jesus’ day was that the nations of the world would ultimately be judged based on how they had treated Israel. In a surprising twist, Jesus declares that the world will be judged on the basis of its treatment of His family – the renewed and restored Israel being built around Himself. Notice how strongly Jesus identifies with His disciples. Jesus counts the good deeds performed for His followers as applying directly to Him.

The key for us as Christians is to see the reflection of Jesus in our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must understand that hidden in the suffering followers of Christ is Jesus Himself – the Servant who promises to bring the justice of God to the world. As we serve one another, we are ultimately serving Jesus.

written by Trevin Wax  © 2008 Kingdom People blog