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BY MATT JOHNSON
Martin Luther knew something about economics. Well, God’s economics anyway. It goes something like this: you can’t pay your way into heaven, and it was wrong of the Pope and his cronies to say so. The Christian life is all of grace and nothing of personal sacrifice or performance. These are the big ideas that frame Luther’s 95 theses.
I did not grow up in a church that had a rich understanding of grace. I was spoon fed a strict diet of law served on a bed of threats. I was told that I both could and should be perfect, because God provides all the help, through the Holy Spirit, that I need in order to do so. Therefore, if I do not reach that goal, it is only because I selfishly choose not to.
Daniel and Erick breakdown what it means to be both sinner and saint. How do we deal with the fact that we desire to do what is good but struggle to carry it out? Where does Paul direct us for hope and comfort? If there is no condemnation for those in Christ, how do you know you are in Christ? What does it mean to have the Spirit and what is His role? What does it mean to be an heir with Christ. It’s all discussed in this episode.
If I’m going to join your church, there’s some things I’ll need to know first. I need to know whether you practice a Christianity that’s primarily a to-do list. Do you emphasize the Christian and his performance? After all, if I don’t do the right thing and avoid the wrong things how will I know what God thinks of me?
Paul describes this faith in most significant words, namely, when we cry Abba! Father! For in the spirit of fear it is not possible to cry, for we can scarcely open our mouth or mumble. But faith expands the heart, the emotions, and the voice, but fear tightens up all these things and restricts them, as our own experience amply testifies.
Moses recounts wandering around the wilderness for 38 years. God puts prohibitions on who Israel is allowed to engage in conflict with. Why is God good to the children of Esau? What does God’s gifting nature to other nations tell us about Him? What does it mean for God to hate someone? What is going on with nations of giant people? Chad and Daniel discuss all of this.
He looked me straight in the eye and said these words, almost in a challenging way, “I hate God. I do. I try to love and obey Him, yet whenever I’m alone, when my mind has a chance to think, it constantly and consistently points me to the fact that I am not innocent of sinning against God.
BY RYAN COUCH
What is a fake Christian? I think the answer depends upon how you define “Christian”…the Bible says that a Christian is one who has faith in the person and work of Christ as his/her only means of salvation; that is that they’ve been put to death and raised into new life with Christ.
God’s children spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Imagine the hopelessness. Imagine the frustration. Imagine the seeds of distrust that were blooming into outright trees of anger and pain. “He brought us out of Egypt for this?” Some of us don’t need to imagine this anger, this pain, this sense that maybe God has forgotten or betrayed you.
Paul roots the Christian’s death to the law in baptism and makes a scandalous claim that the law arouses sin in people. What does it mean to be released from the written code of the law and to obey in spirit? How does the law increase sin? What does it mean that sin uses the law to deceive us? Is Romans 7 talking about pre or post conversion? Daniel and Erick discuss all of this.
I am a time traveler now. It all started this past Christmas. My son gave my husband and me DNA kits, and the instructions suggested that, in preparation, you should begin building your family tree while awaiting the results. So, I did. Now, I am...I don't want to say obsessed, but...okay, let's just call it what it is...I'm obsessed.
Appealing to our religion to push our political and social sensibilities is not what Jesus died for. And when we make it about that, it becomes more exclusive than the very inclusive Gospel. It sets up dividing lines that God never put there; boundaries that He sent His Son to break, walls that were torn down in the death of Christ.
Moses recounts the people’s refusal to trust God when the report comes back from the promised land. A crazy accusation is made against God. Moses reminds the people how God has acted as a Father to them and carried them along. Why do we refuse to trust the promises of God? Why are we so forgetful of His faithfulness? Is it a good thing when God gives people what they want? Chad and Daniel discuss all of this.
BY MATT JOHNSON
Think about it. God’s grace can quickly become theoretical and it plays out in our churchy practices and attitudes all the time. What if a homeless drunk began showing up to church services, but he’s really slow to change? He will need a lot of grace in order to live the sanctified life.
BY CHAD BIRD
I finally climbed all 109 mountains. My journey began out of desperation, fueled by anger, fear, resentment. I didn't how long it would take, nor the toll it would take from me. I simply climbed, some days only an inch, other days a few feet. And sometimes I plummeted backwards.
Should we sin because we are not under law? How do you talk about the law, the gospel and grace in light of the fact that we still sin? What does it mean to be a slave to God or sin? What does it mean to be obedient from the heart? What is going on with sanctification? Daniel and Erick discuss all of this. Have a listen!
Chad and Daniel begin the journey through Deuteronomy. After some introduction to the book, we see Moses start addressing the second generation of Israel and take a shot at those who came before them for the journey taking so long. Why is the Holy Land Holy? Who does it belong to? Why does Moses appoint Judges? Why is showing partiality so frequently spoken against? All this and more is discussed in this first episode in Deuteronomy.
BY KYLE G JONES
I was once asked why I thought young people were leaving the church in droves after they graduated high school. As a director of youth and family ministry, I’m well positioned to answer. My response: Sunday school. We’re losing young people as children in Sunday school because we’re teaching Bible stories to modify behavior…
Our church doesn’t talk a lot about giving up things for Lent. Lent seasons means we have Sunday night services as well, where we bring in speakers who talk about a different theme each year—usually surrounding the idea of the suffering of Christ. It fits because Lent is the season in the liturgical church calendar when we reflect on the suffering of Christ.
BY MATT JOHNSON
Americans love the vicarious sense of pride they get from the odds-defying underdog myth. But often, all the attaboy-ing translates to spiritual performance and a definition of sin that is closer to good intentions gone awry than war against the maker of the universe.
Paul sees an objection to the gospel he just laid out in chapter 5 coming and gets in front of it. Should we sin to increase grace? What does it mean for sin to not have dominion over us? Where and when did we die to sin? What does it mean to walk in newness of life? Daniel and Erick discuss all of this. Have a listen!
If you are going to memorize a passage of Scripture, can I suggest these two verses? My guess is you are going to need the good news they deliver every day of your life, multiple times a day. I love the tone that John is taking here, “My little children” is such a sweet term of endearment.
BY MARTIN LUTHER
What is repentance in His name? Hereby he singles out the repentance that is not made in His name, and therefore the text compels us to consider two kinds of repentance. First, a repentance not in His name is, when I come with my own works and undertake to blot out sin with them; as we all have been taught and have tried to do.
Chad and Daniel wrap up Numbers. Cities of refuge are established. There are rules and commands for “blood redeemers.” What does the Old Testament concept of being a brother tell us about Jesus. What is going on with commanded polygamy? All this is discussed as Numbers comes to an end. Have a listen!
The danger was not necessarily inside the city. Nor was it from an obvious source. Outside the walls of Thyatira, lay a small shrine of white stone. Neither the Imperial Cult, nor the cults of the Pantheon held great sway in Thyatira.
When I was growing up, I remember that my pastor, before the closing prayer of his children's sermons, would ask us to close our eyes and imagine the most beautiful, most loving picture of Jesus that we could. We were to believe that He was right there with us as we prayed.
BY MATT JOHNSON
Your eternal salvation isn’t dependent on performance or effort. Well, not your performance anyway... We Christians are a dull bunch. Tie a string around your finger if you have to, but whatever you do, remember this: spiritual performance inventories are futile. Luther knew this, and the Apostle Paul backs him up.
Paul describes the relationship between Adam/Sin and Jesus/righteousness. Why is a clean slate not enough? How are sinners made righteous and how many of them are? What is objective justification? What is the purpose of the law? Does grace really out-abound sin? Daniel and Erick discuss all of this.