Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Accountability, part 3

February 26, 2008

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” – Genesis 50:20

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” – Matthew 6:12

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.” -Romans 3:23-25

So far in looking at how to live a revolutionary lifestyle in accountability we have discussed the need for transparency and admitting to the sins we commit and also have focused on how we can recognize Biblical repentance which leads to life versus false repentances which will lead to death. However, in this present culture of psychotherapy, antidepressants, and Dr. Phil, it is also necessary for us to discuss one last aspect of accountability, that being the avoidance of playing the victim.

I am a victim of my circumstances. Everyone has heard this, and if we’re honest, most of us have probably said a similar thing at some point in our life. These days everyone is a victim of what they don’t have. If you are poor then you’re a victim of not having the right clothes or living in the right neighborhood. If you’re rich then you are a victim of not having the right Coach purse or the right limo at prom. If you are married then you are victim of not having enough freedom to flirt with the new girl at work. If you have kids then you are victim of having to go to Disney World instead of Vegas on vacation. We can all claim some kind of victimization in our lives.

Moreover, in claiming this status of being a victim we seek some sort of compensation. This is what leads to school shootings and divorce and abortions. We feel slighted by our classmates or our spouse or by condoms and it is up to us to take care of getting retribution for the pain we have been caused. And so, the big question about all of this is “Is it Biblical?”

Is it Biblical to seek retribution for “wrongs” done against us, be it physical wrongs such as abuse, emotional wrongs likes neglect, or perceived wrongs like our upbringing? The straight-talk answer is a resounding “No!” It doesn’t take much studying to realize this either. Starting in Genesis 3, at the time when sin first enters the world, we see Adam and Eve caught up in the original blame game. God accuses Adam of sin, Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent, and God curses them all! Why? Because none were holy. Even though the temptation was initiated by the serpent, Eve sinned in her pride to seek the wisdom from the Tree of Knowledge in disobedience to God’s command, and Adam sinned first in his lack of spiritual leadership over his household and secondly in partaking of the fruit as well. All were guilty and as such all had to bear the consequence.

Similarly for us, irregardless of what may have happened to us, and I don’t want to seem incompassionate because some people have terrible things happen to them which should never be done to any person, but we are nonetheless not holy either. David says in Psalm 58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray from birth, speaking lies.” Here the wicked applies to all of us, for as we recall from Ephesians 2:1, we are all dead spiritually prior to God’s gift of regeneration.

Thus, as we see in Romans 3:23-25 and in 1 John 4:10, we are sinners separated from God, deserving of His wrath. We have sinned against God, and because He alone is holy, then He would be just to punish us for this sin. Yet that is the wonderful gospel! God’s wrath was averted by Christ’s atoning death on the cross. He was our propitiation, which literally says that His death was the means by which God’s wrath towards us was satsified. God took all of the horrors that were rightly ours because of our sin and executed them upon the Son, who stood as our substitute so that we may live. So, in light of this, what right do we then have to crucify someone else for the sins they commit against us?

This teaching couldn’t be anymore clear, and yet we quickly fall into the mindset of deflecting our own shortcomings onto others in attempt to make ourselves look or feel better. But, in order to exercise revolutionary Christianity we must reject this way of thinking. We must be accountable to our sins and not get caught up in playing the blame game to try and portray a false piety in front of the world. If we truly desire to be a revolutionary like Christ we must be accountable for our own sins and quick to forgive the sins of others against us, for as has long demonstrated, God is powerful enough to take that stuff which is meant by man to be purely for evil and use it for His greater purpose in the salvation of the elect.

1 Peter Bible Study, Part 7; 1 Peter 1:20-21

February 24, 2008

“He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” – 1 Peter 1:20-21

This week we will be looking at the above text and analyzing what it says to us about Jesus, what it says about God, and how these things work together to say something about us as the elect exiles. I found this text to be truly rewarding and I hope that through studying along with it that God may speak to you in the same way about His wonderful workings and carefully woven plan which was instituted to allow us to be redeemed from our fallen state and to be glorified with Him for all eternity in heaven.

1 Peter Bible Study, Part 7 notes

1 Peter Bible Study, Part 7 audio

This Bible study is being produced with a group of guys in Lexington, KY, my hometown, in mind, but is suitable for anyone to follow. The content of examples used will generally be directed at a male audience, however there is nothing in this which will keep women from being able to learn as well. If you come across this study and have any questions about the content of the message or about anything in general, please don’t hesitate to post or shoot me an email.

Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Accountability, part 2

February 21, 2008

“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” – 2 Chronicles 7:14

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” – 2 Corinthians 7:10

In continuing with the idea of living revolutionary Christianity out in our accountability I think it is important to focus a little more on repentance. I recently listened to Pastor MarkDriscoll give a sermon on Nehemiah 9, a passage which sees the Levitical priests stand before the recently reunited Jerusalem and confess the sins of the people to God. In this message Driscoll spent some time discussing four types of false repentance. Thus, because I believe it’s important, and because God convicted me so clearly of the false repentance which I often make, I want to share thesebriefly with you.

The first type of false repentance is mere repentance. This is the type of repentance in which you know what you did was sin, you know you should confess it before God and seek His forgiveness, and yet inside you really have no brokenness or desire to change. This would be typified by doing all of the things in 2 Chronicles 7:14 (above) except for the part on “turning from (your) wicked ways.” This is certainly the false repentance which I am most guilty of. It is the repentance I find myself in when I get stuck in the trap of complacency and arrogance concerning my eternal security. It’s the mindset which says, “I know that I am saved forever, solely through the work of the Father and not of my own obedience, so it’s really no big deal if I continue doing this thing I know I’m not really supposed to do.” (Note: it is a big deal because God still commands us to be obedient after our regeneration!).

The second type is worldly sorrow. This is most certainly the type of false repentance being decried in 2 Corinthians 7:10. We see this when someone has an emotional breakdown in response to their sin, and in doing so make their show of repentance a point of pride instead of a true act of turning from sin. This seems to fall in line with the other admonitions which Christ gives in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), where he repeatedly calls out the religious for doing acts of obedience in aflashy manner, seeking to have their rewards on earth.

The third form of false repentance we encounter is self-righteousness. This form of false repentance manifests itself in our desire to seek repentance for others sins, but not necessarily our own. This is what Jesus described in Luke 6:41 as pointing out the speck in your brother’s eye while ignoring the log in your own.

The final type of false repentance enumerated we wish to enumerate is religious repentance. In religious repentance you are exercising repentance in attempt to avoid punishment or retribution from God. We can see this come about because we misinterpret the meaning of fearing God. Instead of fearing God in a manner of humble and obedient reverence, we fear God as a cosmic bully who is always seeking to injure us for the sins we commit. In doing this we fail to make notice of the fact that God’s wrath was satisfied in Christ’s death upon the cross (1 John 4:10). Through Christ’s role as the propitiation for our sins we no longer bear the punishment of God in our own lives for the sins we commit, and thus have no reason to repent out of fright. This is one of the great significances of the cross, and we cheapen Christ’s sacrifice so much by failing to get this point.

As revolutionary Christians we must have a revolutionary view of repentance. We must recognize false repentance and flee from it, and we must seek to have repentance which is a true inner-brokenness over our sins, an internal sorrow over our disobedience to the God who loves us and is so gracious, and a peace knowing that God has been and will be faithful to forgive us through the death of His son.

Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Accountability, part 1

February 19, 2008

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” – Psalm 51:1-5

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.” – Romans 7:15-20

“For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” – 1 Corinthians 15:9

One of the great plagues of our present age is the complete lack of accountability among all citizens of the earth. Thus, even more should the lifestyle of revolutionary Christianity be about being accountable, both to God and to each other. When the world around us deflects and hides and puffs up against the negative images which they wish to oppress, we as Christians must embrace our failings and bring them before God in a spirit of humility to be redeemed.

As exemplified by Paul, we must admit that there is nothing in us apart from God which seeks to do that which is holy. As his words in 1 Corinthians 15:9 and 1 Timothy 1:15 show, he is fully aware of his guilt in the persecution and murder of Christians prior to his conversion. This is because, as he states in Romans 3:10-18, there is no one which is righteous, no one who seeks God. Or, as John says in 1 John 1:8,10, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us…. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word in not in us.”

This is most passionately proclaimed by David, who in anguish over his sin with Bathsheba composed the 51st Psalm, saying “I know my transgressions and my sin is ever before me.” David was king of Israel and yet, under conviction of his utter depravity and wickedness, falls on his face and cries out to God for forgiveness, acknowledging that he is a sinner and wholly worthy of God’s judgment.

Therefore, we too must be ready to admit where we have failed in our obedience to God’s commands, being overwhelmed with a godly grief which “produces a repentance which leads to salvation without regret” (2Corithians 7:10). We may take comfort in the verse sandwiched between two earlier verses, 1 John 1:9, which says that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from unrighteousness.”

The life of a revolutionary Christian is not one lived in the shadows, one eclipsed by the massive sin which we hide or leave unconfessed in our hearts, but instead is one characterized by a transparency and genuine sorrow over our disobedience. If we wish to see the world convicted of their sins then we first must be willing to confront our own, no matter how ugly or embarrassing they may appear.

“If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.” – 1 John 1:6-7

Why It’s Increasingly Important to be a Revolutionary Christian- A Book Review of “unChristian”

February 18, 2008

“These days nearly two out of every five young outsiders (38 percent) claim to have a ‘bad impression of present-day Christianity.’ Beyond this, one-third of young outsiders said that Christianity represents a negative image with which they would not want to be associated.”

“The most common ‘favorable’ impression (for outsiders) is that Christianity teaches the same basic idea as other religions; more than four out of every five young outsiders embrace this description.”

“In fact, we discovered that one-fifth of all outsiders, regardless of age, admitted they ‘have had a bad experience in a church or with a Christian that gave them a negative image of Jesus Christ.’ ”

-Dave Kinnamen, in unChristian

Present-day Christianity is shooting itself in the foot. That was one of the big take home messages from the book I recently read, the book “unChristian” by Dave Kinnamen. This text, based on surveys administered and data collected through the Barna group, is a broad base look at self described non-born-again Americans between the ages of 16 and 29 (aka. the outsiders) and how they view Christianity as it stands in America and the world today. The results are none-too-flattering.

Of course, to myself, and probably most others, the general results were not surprising. However, what is surprising, and even more so very convicting, is the high percentage of like minded abashment’s of Christians behavior and the detail of their distaste in our actions. Throughout my reading I was continuously questioning myself, seeing how I felt my lifestyle stacked up against the charges that were being brought. As well as bringing out the complaints, the author and his various contributors from the American church provide suggestions and encouragement for ways in which we can break through all of these negative barricades being built against the Christian message.

To myself, one of the most wrenching sections was on the views of outsiders that Christians are only interested in creating new converts and not necessarily in actually knowing and loving the people who they witness to. On top of this, Christians are oblivious to this disconnect with the younger generations. The author reports that 64 percent of Christians believe that outsiders perceive their efforts in evangelism as genuine, while only 34 percent of outsiders actually do. Also, he notes that we fail to continue in discipleship, as demonstrated by the fact that a majority of people who make a decision for Christ are no longer connected to a Christian church within 8 to 12 weeks following their decision! This is a big problem. This means that we as Christians are failing to both demonstrate and communicate the revolutionary nature of the decision to believe on Christ and seeking to be sanctified into His image.

In all, I found this book somewhat depressing, though in a welcome sense, and very helpful in preparing myself to engage those in my generation who do not know Christ as Lord of their life. Moreover, it strengthened my conviction for the need of revolutionary Christianity, for a lifestyle which represents a drastic difference from the world in which we live, adhering to the holy and inerrant direction of God’s word.

If we as Christians stand any chance of reaching the future generations of Americans it is clear that we can no longer live the blase, lukewarm life of the last 20 to 30 years. We must stand on scripture, we must seek holiness, and most importantly we must humbly proceed in love towards the lost, willing to lay down our lives in sacrifice so that they may come to know Jesus as the Savior of their souls.

How to Fight the Battle of Revolutionary Christianity

February 17, 2008

In my recent listenings I came across this sermon from Mark Driscoll (Mars Hill, Seattle) in which he describes the means of how we are supposed to fight the battle of revolutionary Christianity. Thus, I wanted to share this with all of you, as I feel he puts it much better than I ever could. Enjoy!

Mark Driscoll- “Air War and Ground War”

Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Love

February 12, 2008

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers…. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” – 1 John 3:16, 4:20

” ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.’ “ – John 15:12-13

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” – Colossians 3:14

“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.” – 1 Peter 4:8

One would be hard pressed to live any sort of Christian life, much less a life of revolutionary Christianity, without having some notion of the importance of love in sustaining that life. Heck, the great endzone verse, John 3:16, gives a statement which is fully predicated on the basis that God so loved us. And so, through the ministry of Jesus and the apostles we see that this act of love on the part of God, and the act of love on the part of Jesus for dying on the cross (1 John 4:10), the call to love is transferred to us.

However, many these days want to confuse love as spoken of the gospel with the love found in the world. They teach that we should love the earth, love ourselves, and no matter what, as long as it is done in “love”, any action is just peachy. Yet, what the world and liberal theologians paint as “love” often times stands in stark contrast to the love we’re called to as a revolutionary Christian. We are told that “God is love” (1 John 4:16), and not that this is an equality, that there is something called “love” and something called “God” and they are actually the same thing, but instead that whatever there is that is love can be wholly found in the character of God. Thus, we must be slow to assume anything is love that is clearly in contradiction to God as revealed in scripture.

Moreover, the message we see in 1 John 3:16 and the Gospel of John 15:12-13 is clear: the greatest love is shown by the willingness to lay our life down for the sake of another. Then, interpreting this with the understanding that love reflects the character of God, and equipped with the knowledge that Christ’s love lead him to die a sacrificial death on the cross so that we may be reconciled to God, we understand that to love in the way Christ instructs us means that we should sacrifice all of our physical pleasures and ties for the cause of making Christs name known. As it says in Matthew, whoever loves their family more than Jesus is not worthy of following him (ch. 10:37), nor is anyone who values their possessions on this earth (ch. 19:21), and so anyone who tries to hold onto their worldly life will surely lose everything in eternity (ch. 10:39).

Furthermore, if we are to imitate Christ’s love in this manner, then we must also acknowledge that this love is especially for the unbelievers. Romans 5:6-8 says:

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So often we are proficient at demonstrating love to fellow believers, but in order to be truly revolutionary we must be even more willing, willing enough to “take up our cross daily” and to die for those still trapped in sin. If we are to demonstrate true revolutionary Christian love, we must be willing to lay down our lives, risk everything we have in this world, in order to see the reconciliation of every alcoholic and prostitute and deadbeat dad and homosexual and drug addict and pedophile to the one true God.

The people living in the world hate us. They hate us not only because they disagree with us, but also because we know the mystery of life everlasting, we know the peace of living a life in which Christ has redeemed us from sin, and yet all too often we are too afraid to exercise the revolutionary love to which we are called, laying down our lives in order that they may know this as well!

Is This WWJD?- A Quote on How the Church Shouldn’t Act!

February 11, 2008

The following is a very convicting quote which I came across in the amazingly convicting book I’m reading, unChristian by David Kinnaman. The book is all about statistics on how young adults who live “outside” of the American church view the lifestyles, cares, concerns, and beliefs of those inside the American church, and what this can tell the Church about how to reach those outsiders. This quote was one which came up during a passage on the perception of hypocrisy within the Church, specifically as it pertains to inner city churches. Enjoy!

“People who most need the church are sitting outside, waiting to feel worthy enough to come in.” -Leroy Barber

1 Peter Bible Study, Part 6; 1 Peter 1:17-19

February 10, 2008

“And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.” – 1 Peter 1:17-19

This week we focus on what it means to fear God. Is this a fear of being struck by lightening for letting a swear word slip in traffic, or is it something more? And, if we fear God, how should this manifest itself in our lives? The doctrine of fearing God is a much maligned idea these days where we try to counteract a wrathful, vengeful God in favor of a kind, pacifist, vegan God. However, hopefully in our study of this passage in 1 Peter we will see that the fear of the Lord is a crucial point to accept in living the obedient Christian life.

1 Peter Bible Study, Part 6 notes

1 Peter Bible Study, Part 6 audio

This Bible study is being produced with a group of guys in Lexington, KY, my hometown, in mind, but is suitable for anyone to follow. The content of examples used will generally be directed at a male audience, however there is nothing in this which will keep women from being able to learn as well. If you come across this study and have any questions about the content of the message or about anything in general, please don’t hesitate to post or shoot me an email.

Continuation of a Thought on Living the Revolutionary Lifestyle in Battle

February 8, 2008

“In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.” “ – Nehemiah 4:10-14

“Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” “ – Matthew 2:13

“It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him” – Mark 14:1

One point that we must always keep in mind, and I don’t think that I can ever do too much to emphasize this point, is that the battle we fight on Earth is one with two fronts: the front against the forces of the world and the front against the corruption of “Christians.” We can clearly see this portrayed in the life of Jesus, who had to flee as a baby from Israel because the non-Jewish king Herod the Great longed to kill him in order to save his kingdom, and who eventually was murdered as a result of the plot by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. We also see this in the passage we reflected on from Nehemiah: not only did Nehemiah have to protect from the enemies of God outside of the city but he also had to contend with the despair of God’s people in all of Judah.

This principle is of supreme importance to remember for the revolutionary Christian in America today. In a country where well over half of the population claim to be “born-again Christians”, or specifically in my age group 60%, it seems like this would not be a problem. It seems like with such a large fellowship of “believers” in America that we would all stand united together against the world and only have one battle front. However, the problem that we see is the extreme disconnect between people who claim to be “born-again” and those with a truly regenerated spirit. I don’t wish to pass judgement on anyone person, but I think we all may agree that “not everyone” in our country who says “‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 7:21-23). As such, we come across plentiful resistance from “Christians” whose hearts are still stone (Ezekiel 36:26) and who are turned against the will of God (Matthew 12:50).

Therefore, as a revolutionary Christians we must be prepared for the battle. We must be daily putting on the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-20), reading and studying our Bibles (“and take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.”) , communing with our fellow revolutionaries (Hebrews 10:25), engaging the culture as Paul instructed (Corinthians 9:19-23) without being corrupted by that culture (Romans 12:2, 1 Peter 1:14). This is our fight and has been since the days of Jesus’ incarnation on Earth. We must be prepared to battle on two fronts, remembering always, as Nehemiah instructed, our Lord, who is great and awesome, whose glory is our rallying cry!