Revolutionary

Revolutionary:  radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedures or principles.

When Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago, the new covenant he brought with him was revolutionary.  It was radically new.  And the “establishment” did not like it. They had devised a system that was working just fine for them.  And after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension the apostles of the early church encountered significant persecution for speaking of this revolutionary gospel. 

Fast forward to today in America. Who would have thought that Christianity would once again be seen as revolutionary?  Suddenly it is  “outside established procedures” and the establishment doesn’t like it.   Once again, they are devising their own system and they are not comfortable with anyone that speaks out against it or tries to warn them that they’re wrong because they are not following God’s way. And amazingly in a country founded on freedom, they actually have the power to shut people up. They are actually able to redefine founding principles and create new laws that make it illegal to stand for what you believe. It is actually possible for someone to be seen as a law-breaker, a criminal, if they attempt to follow God’s law. 

Christians today are being mocked and marginalized. Their voices are ignored but their mistakes are celebrated. It can sometimes feel like to be a Christian is to be on the outside fringes of society. To be one of “those people”. Unfortunately, it is not likely to get better. 

The book of Acts is the story of the church in the beginning. It is a story of how they faced resistance and stuck together through it all. It is our story. 

  • They were made fun of and called out of their minds. (2:13, 21:27, 26:24)
  • They stuck together. (2:42)
  • The leaders were disturbed by their message and filled with jealousy. (4:15:17)
  • They were jailed, beaten, stoned, flogged. (4:3, 5:18, 14:19, 16:23, 21:32-33)
  • They refused to stop talking about it. (4:20, 5:42, 14:7)
  • They were one in heart and mind. (4:32)
  • They took care of each other. (4:34)
  • They decided to obey God, not men. (5:29)
  • They were persecuted and scattered. (8:1)
  • They spoke effectively. (14:1)
  • Unbelievers distorted the truth and poisoned people’s minds and hearts against their message. (14:2, 17:3, 20:30)
  • Leaders devised plots against them and mobs started riots against them.  (14:5, 17:5, 23:13)
  • They strengthened and encouraged each other. (14:22, 15:32, 20:2)

  

    Be Ready

    There’s a lot of people these days insisting that Christians shouldn’t talk about the end times. In light of the fact that a large portion of the Bible (both Old and New Testament) discusses the eventual return of Jesus and the end of the world, it seems silly to insist on avoiding this topic.  It is certainly true that we should not be date setters because no one knows when he will make his Glorious Appearance. But it is also fundamentally true that as each day passes his return is drawing nearer. 

    As Christians, our number one priority is to proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus to a lost world. We must do this while we help the sick and poor. We must do this while we go to work. We must do this while we enjoy time with our family and friends. Proclaiming Christ must be interwoven into every aspect of our life.

    The message of the end times is important because it clearly shows us that someday it will be too late. Someday will be the day before his return and the last chance for followers of Jesus to share the good news. Someday tomorrow will be of infinite importance, and you never know if today is that day.  And someday will be the day after, when so many people who did not choose to follow Jesus will see clearly that they were wrong. 

    When Jesus told his disciples that nobody knows the hour he will return, he didn’t say it to convey the message that we shouldn’t worry about it. What he said is actually quite the opposite. He said we should “keep watch”. We should be “ready at all times”. He said he would come when we least expected it. (Matthew 24:42-44). If the topic of end times is suddenly something we should not discuss then how will Christians remain ready?  If truthfully proclaiming the inevitable return of Christ is considered too “gloom and doom” to talk about, then how will unbelievers get ready?

    Thousands of years ago the Apostle Peter warned that this would happen. 

    …I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.

    But you must not forget this one thing, dear friends: A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent. But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and the very elements themselves will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be found to deserve judgment.

    ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:3, 8-10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

    When weather forecasters warn of a coming storm, no one knows exactly when it will reach their home. But the assurance that it is coming will likely lead to immediate preparations. Much the same way, whether we want to talk about it or not, Jesus is coming back. Because we don’t know when, we must live as though it will be tomorrow. We must make sure everyone understands the urgency. And we must do all that we can to ensure that everyone we know is prepared. 

      

    Redeemed … Not Perfect

    Do you ever notice how quickly people rise up and shout “hypocrite” when a Christian messes up? Un-believers seem to gloat over the fact that a Christian sinned as though it somehow validates their own decision to do life without Jesus. It’s like they think that the fact that a professing follower of Christ sinned somehow negates the Gospel message they professed. What they’re missing is that is the whole point of the Gospel message. 

    Here’s the story … We all sin! We may all sin differently, but we all sin. And because God is holy and just, he cannot allow sin to go unpunished. And God himself set the punishment for sin – death. (Romans 6:23) Eternal separation from his presence. Not heaven, but hell. But praise be to God, he also provided the solution. One solution. He sent his Son Jesus to pay the price for our sin. He was sinless, yet he died a brutal death so that we would not have to.  At the moment of his death, he bore the sins of everyone throughout time that would put their faith in him. (1 Peter 2:24) So when someone makes the decision to surrender their life to Christ, they are not suddenly claiming to be perfect. They are acknowledging the exact opposite. They are acknowledging that they are a hopeless sinner in need of a Savior. They are redeemed … not perfect. 

    One of my favorite Christian bands wrote a song that describes this perfectly. I encourage you to download it. In the meantime, here are the lyrics. Hopefully they don’t mind my sharing them.

    REDEEMED… Big Daddy Weave

    Seems like all I can see was the struggle

    Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past

    Bound up in shackles of all my failures

    Wondering how long is this gonna last

    Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “son

    stop fighting a fight that’s already been won”

    I am redeemed, You set me free

    So I’ll shake off theses heavy chains

    Wipe away every stain now I’m not who I used to be

    I am redeemed

    All my life I have been called unworthy

    Named by the voice of my shame and regret

    But when I hear You whisper, “Child lift up your head”

    I remember oh God, You’re not done with me yet

    I don’t have to be the old man inside of me

    Cause his day is long dead and gone

    I’ve got a new name, a new life I’m not the same

    And a hope that will carry me home

      

    Stop and think about it

    As I scroll through social media and news feeds, I am so sad for so many people who are being empowered to embrace the lies that adulterate the message of salvation. The Good News of Jesus Christ. 

    The loud proclamations against all things Biblical or the decision by “Christian” leaders to make the Word of God politically correct has made it possible for people to live however they want without thinking there just might be eternal consequences.  You don’t have to look far before you find someone who appears to know what they’re talking about giving you permission to live life the way you want. 

    But stop and think about it for a minute. In what way does it make sense that everything is o.k.?  How can we determine what is actually good if nothing is actually bad?  The Ten Commandments had always at least been a tool by which people set moral standards, but there’s not one of them that hasn’t been broken by cultural norms or laws of the land.  (That’s a whole other blog post!)

    So where does that leave us?  Are we all going to heaven because God’s nice?  Is he going to decide that all the things he tried to teach us in his Word don’t really matter?  Is the sacrificial death of Jesus, the only worthy sacrifice for the ugly sins of mankind, going to end up being for nothing? 

    Or maybe there is no heaven or hell. Maybe you live this life to the fullest and that’s it. Or maybe you get to keep coming back to this earth as something else, over and over and over. If you ask me, neither of those options give much value to the incredible creation of human beings. 

    So stop and think really hard. What are you banking on for your eternity?  And what happens if you’re wrong?

    Surrender to Jesus now! Pray:

    “God, I know I’m a sinner and that I deserve punishment. I believe that you sent your only son, Jesus, to pay the price for my sins so that I wouldn’t have to. Today I surrender my life to Jesus. I repent from my sins and I know with the power of your Holy Spirit I can live a new life. ”

    If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. – ‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

    Welcome to the family!