An honest mistake.
If you’ve ever spoken in public, my guess is that you have never had this happen.
Just a misplaced ‘n’
An honest mistake.
An honest mistake.
If you’ve ever spoken in public, my guess is that you have never had this happen.
Just a misplaced ‘n’
This post is a response to a question that I posed to David Guzik. He graciously allowed me to post it as it was a great response.
I sent David a question based on something I saw tweeted that he had said.
“We gain far more in Christ than we lost in Adam.”
I asked David, “Is this true? Can you riff on this a bit for me?”
Here is David’s response-
Most of us think that the ideal world is the world of innocence, where sin or even have never been experienced. But God seems to place a greater value on the world of redemption.
Adam was certainly innocent, in the sense of not knowing good and evil (Genesis 3:22). But he was not righteous, in the sense of having fulfilled all of God’s law. Jesus came as the second Adam (Romans 5:12-21), and perfectly fulfilled the will and law of God with His obedient life. This positive righteousness of Jesus is credited to the believer by faith (Romans 3:21-22, Philippians 3:9). This is something greater in Jesus than Adam never had.
We also don’t have any evidence that Adam was regarded as an adopted son of God, but the believer is in Jesus (Ephesians 1:5, Galatians 4:5).
We are named kings and priests before God (Revelation 1:6, 5:10) – Adam never was.
We are part of a glorious community that Adam never knew, a community that will be consummated in the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-3). Man has never known a community unmarred by sin. Adam and Eve only knew a limited community, and community in a larger context only came long after the Fall. Here, in the New Jerusalem, we have something totally unique: a sinless, pure, community of righteousness, a holy city.
In Ephesians 1:9-12, Paul wrote of the mystery of His will that has been made known to us. What is it? That in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ. A critical aspect of God’s plan of the ages is to “sum up” or resolve everything in Jesus. In a sense, we could say that God glorifies Himself by allowing a problem and showing His wisdom in not only solving the problem, but in making the end result greater that the prior condition.
I see a wonderful consummation of all this in Revelation 21:5: Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”
This is an authoritative announcement, coming from the throne of God itself: He who sat on the throne said. In this announcement, He says: “Behold, I make all things new.” This statement is in the present tense, “I am making everything new.” Revelation 21:5 marks the consummation of God’s work of renewal and redemption, having begun here and now in our present time.
The words “All things new” connect with the thinking behind God’s eternal plan – to allow sin and its destruction in order to do a greater work of making all things new. At this point in His plan of the ages, the plan is complete. All things are new.
Our instinct is to romantically consider innocence as man’s perfect state, and wish Adam would have never done what he did. But we fail to realize that redeemed man is greater than innocent man; that we gain more in Jesus than we ever lost in Adam. God’s perfect state is one of redemption, not innocence.
A few days later, David added this quotation to an email
Today I was reading some Spurgeon, and methinks I have a great quote from him about this very topic:
“You have been a gainer by Adam’s fall. You might almost say, as one of the fathers did, O beata culpa, ‘O happy fault,’ which put me into the position to be so richly endowed as now I am! Had you stood in Adam, you had never been able to call Jesus “Brother,” for there had been no need for him to become incarnate; you had never been washed in the precious blood, for then it had no need to be shed. Jesus has restored that to you which he took not away. He has not merely lifted you from the dunghill to set you among men, but to set you among princes, even the princes of his people. Think of the bright roll of promises, of the rich treasure of covenant provision, of all that you have already had and all that Christ has guaranteed to you of honor, and glory, and immortality, and will you not in the midst of the congregation praise the Lord?” (Jesus, the Example of Holy Praise)
Wow. I love that: You have been a gainer by Adam’s fall …. O beata culpa …. Jesus has restored that to you which he took not away.
No wonder that God had to tell John, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.” John was probably so astounded by these words that he forgot to write – and must be told to do so.
That’s how it runs through my mind. To me, it is just plain glorious.
Michael Frost can be controversial. What do you think? Is he correct?
Since we don’t have anyone scheduled to post on Sundays, I figured that I would share a tune with you.
Something to reflect upon this Saturday
Here is the paragraph on “Christian Social Responsibility” in the Lausanne Covenant (Paragraph 5):
We affirm that God is both the Creator and the Judge of all men. We therefore should share his concern for justice and reconciliation throughout human society and for the liberation of men from every kind of oppression. Because mankind is made in the image of God, every person, regardless of race, religion, colour, culture, class, sex or age, has an intrinsic dignity because of which he should be respected and served, not exploited. Here too we express penitence both for our neglect and for having sometimes regarded evangelism and social concern as mutually exclusive. Although reconciliation with man is not reconciliation with God, nor is social action evangelism, nor is political liberation salvation, nevertheless we affirm that evangelism and socio-political involvement are both part of our Christian duty. For both are necessary expressions of our doctrines of God and man, our love for our neighbour and our obedience to Jesus Christ. The message of salvation implies also a message of judgment upon every form of alienation, oppression and discrimination, and we should not be afraid to denounce evil and injustice wherever they exist. When people receive Christ they are born again into his kingdom and must seek not only to exhibit but also to spread its righteousness in the midst of an unrighteous world. The salvation we claim should be transforming us in the totality of our personal and social responsibilities. Faith without works is dead.
People leave churches just as they leave our lives. That is a simple fact. Oftentimes, pastors find more sorrow in people leaving then they find joy in people coming. Anytime someone leaves a church, it affects the pastor. If a pastor cares at all about the people in his family of faith, people leaving can often be quite devastating. Oftentimes, people can learn more about their pastor based on how he handles people leaving the church.
My heart in this article is to give some perspective on how to handle when people leave the church. I have heard of many horror stories about how people are treated by the leadership and congregation when they leave a church and I believe it breaks the Lord’s heart. For those of you who enjoy alliteration, our study on Leaving will center around 5 ‘L’s. Ultimately, I believe that the goal should be a heart that feels this way automatically (ie. the heart of Christ). But often the right heart follows obedient actions. I pray that this will be a blessing to you.
It’s an opportunity to LET
When people leave the church, it is an opportunity to LET God be God. We have to remember that not every person fits into every congregation. In reality, all of the redeemed fit perfectly into the kingdom of God and His universal church. But on this side of eternity, no every person fits perfectly into each ministry’s style. There are times when people, for whatever reason, can not learn from a certain teacher. Maybe the messages are too cerebral or too milky. Maybe the Lord wants to use a person’s gifting in another body for a specific purpose. Could it be that God, in His sovereign purposes, wants someone to be somewhere else for their own growth and the growth of another body? Could it be that a certain person’s attendance at the church that you pastor will hinder His work? We have to remember that God is sovereign and it is His church, not yours. When people leave it is an opportunity to LET God order His church on this side of eternity.
It’s an opportunity to LEARN
When people leave the church, it is an opportunity to LEARN about your pastoring and people’s perceptions of the church. Now I realize that this point will not sit well with some people but I believe that it is important enough to pursue. Each child of God, pastors included, is in the process of sanctification. We are all continually being conformed to the image of Christ. Not one of us ‘has arrived’. When people tell you that they are leaving, if you have a teachable spirit, you can learn much. I have made it a personal policy that when people tell me that they will be leaving the church, to ask them a few questions. Now before you ever do this, you have to ready for them to answer it honestly and you shouldn’t get upset with them for their answers. Remember, you are asking them because you want to grow and learn. Back to the questions, ‘Is there any way that I, as the pastor, could have tended to you better?’ ‘Is there anything that you feel that the church is lacking that is causing you to want to fellowship elsewhere?’ ‘If you could change anything about our ministry here, what would it be?’
The answers to these types of questions can range from the purely trivial (ie. I don’t like the new color of the sanctuary chairs) to the profound (ie. My children leave the Kid’s church all spun out on sugar without any recollection of what, if anything was taught). Now the reason for these answers can be manifold but at least you will get an understanding of how the ministry is perceived and how you can pray and grow. To be honest with you, I have found this to be invaluable to understand my failings as a pastor.
In conclusion on this point, I think that it is important to take EVERYTHING that is shared in these situations to the Lord for Him to address with you. Too many times, a pastor will hear the same reoccurring reasons for people leaving and instead of bringing them to the Lord; they just stay upset at the people. When this happens, the pastor is missing out on God’s gift of growth.
It’s an opportunity to LOVE
When someone tells you that they are leaving the church, I believe that the Lord is giving you one last opportunity to LOVE and PRAY for the person. Do people leave the church having felt disrespected and disposable? Or do you send them away blessed and encouraged? I have made it a personal policy to always pray for and bless people on the way out the door. I commit them into the Lord’s hands for His loving care. I ask the Lord to place them exactly where He wants them for His glory. When the prayer is over, I remind the people how much I love them and have been grateful for our time together. I tell them that I am always there for them and even though we may fellowship in different places, we are all part of His body. I believe that this gives God tremendous glory and I can’t tell you how many times, those same folks have gotten in touch when things have happened so that I can pray for them and encourage them. They may never come back to the church, but at least that relationship stays in tact.
It’s an opportunity to LEAN
When somebody leaves the church, it is an opportunity to LEAN upon Christ. The Bible teaches that we can ‘cast our cares upon Him because He cares for you.’ (1 Peter 5:7). As children of God, we are constantly learning how to abide in Christ. We know that we cannot bear any fruit unless we do. We abide in Him when we choose to lean upon Him at those times of struggle and trial. When people are leaving the church, it gives the pastor a great opportunity to walk by faith and to learn to rest in His everlasting arms. Whether the anxiety stems from ministry needs, a drop in the offering, what people might say, etc., when people leave the church it can cause intense amounts of pastoral anxiety. Brothers, lean upon Christ and be at rest when people leave.
It’s an opportunity to LEAD
When people leave the church, it is an opportunity to LEAD the church in grace. It is all too often that churches have a cultic feel to them because the people shun or look down upon people for leaving. As the pastor, we can often foster this type of mentality by speaking ill or talking down on the people who have left. Oftentimes the pastor does this to make himself feel better and it is totally carnal. As the pastor you are a sheep with a bell on at most. When people leave, do not abide gossip or maliciousness. Continue to lead the church as Jesus does: with grace, dignity, integrity, and love. Remember Jesus walked the Calvary road before us and leads by example. He didn’t stop walking in grace simply because He was hurt. He kept on to the glory of God.
It is a great blessing and privilege to live in a nation such as the United States of America. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to many nations around the world in my life thus far, and I’m always blessed to return home. I know that people from other lands would say the same thing if they were returning to their nation of origin, but I believe there is something special about the USA.
Liberty is no doubt at the heart of what makes the America great. A trust in God has, I believe, been of great importance too. Dennis Prager adds a third value – E pluribus unum, “Out of Many, One” – which he shows can each be found on our coinage. He calls these three values “The American Trinity” and sites them as the foundation of American exceptionalism. Independence Day is certainly one of our favorite holidays as a people. It looks back to the great “Declaration of Independence” ratified 235 years ago today, and celebrates our national independence. National independence is essential for any nation to thrive; we could also call it national sovereignty.
Independence day often causes me to ponder another reality that has nothing to do with the USA.
As a sinner places their trust firmly in God, He grants to them liberty from sin and death. While doing so He also gathers the many who come to Him for salvation, into one body, His church. What this means for the Christian is that he (or she) cannot truly be individually independent. We (Christians) are wholly dependent upon God, and at the same time interdependent upon one another within the body of Christ.
The more time I spend in fellowship with God, the more I find that my cultural values as an American often conflict with the values of the Kingdom of God. The individual independence which is so highly exalted in 21st century America is actually counterculture to Christianity. No Christian survives long on their own. God has created us, in Christ, with this interdependence. Self-reliance is therefore, not really possible for us; and quite honestly, this is hard for me, because of pride.
And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV