The gospel call (Ephesians 5:14-20)

How do we issue the gospel invitation? We agree the gospel is important, but we have different ways to get people to respond. Should we follow Billy Graham’s approach, inviting people to respond to an altar call to be saved?

What’s niggling me is that the New Testament letters tell us nothing of how to issue this important call. They seem to think the call comes from God. Continue reading “The gospel call (Ephesians 5:14-20)”

Who is the sleeper? (Ephesians 5:14)

Hint: it’s more than an individual.

What does this mean?

Ephesians 5 14 This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (NIV)

It’s not an Old Testament quotation. Was it a baptismal formula, something early churches said as they laid someone back in the water and raised them up in the Lord? That’s an attractive idea but it doesn’t really work: you is plural, even though sleeper is singular. It seems the sleeper is a corporate entity, not a baptismal candidate.

While not a direct quote, it could be a distillation of Isaiah’s extensive imagery of light and dark (Isaiah 54–62).

Continue reading “Who is the sleeper? (Ephesians 5:14)”

How credible is faith now?

Who do Aussies trust? The ABC asked us, and our answers are revealing:

  • We trust:  doctors/nurses (97%), scientists (93%), police (84%), judges (80%).
  • We mistrust:  celebrities (8%), politicians (19%), corporate executives (20%), religious leaders (29%).

Celebrities are fake, of course. Actors are somebody they’re not. When Jesus spoke of hypocrites, his word literally meant an actor, someone playing a role in a Greek play. He called the religious leaders actors. Aussies agree.

But if the church’s message is faith (trust), while our leaders are not credible (not to be trusted), will the church disintegrate? Will people vote with their feet? Continue reading “How credible is faith now?”

Kingdom work: the last 150 years

If I made the kingdom of God the centre of my thought and activity as Jesus did, where does it lead me? As I began this journey seven years ago, I wondered out loud, “Would seeking the kingdom make me an activist?”

For some, the gospel is personal salvation (John 3:16). For others, the gospel calls for action: caring for the poor, seeking justice the powerless, protecting the environment. What does Jesus’ gospel — the gospel of the kingdom — call us to say or do?

Continue reading “Kingdom work: the last 150 years”

What’s the good news in the New Testament?

What is the gospel? Ask many people in our churches and they’ll tell you it’s about how you get saved, by asking God to forgive your sins. Would it surprise you to know that that’s not what the gospel means in the Bible?

The word gospel (or good news) is used a lot in the New Testament — 125 times in the NIV translation. They’re all listed below so you can scan it and see. As you scan, ask:

  1. What is the good news about (its content)?
  2. Who is it good news for (its audience)?

Continue reading “What’s the good news in the New Testament?”