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What a Non-Violent Atonement reveals about Scripture

I am taking a short break from teaching through Ephesians to record an audiobook for my book The Atonement of God. A reader has generously offered to sponsor the recording of this audiobook. This podcast episode provides a preview of the audiobook by giving you Chapter 5: What a Non-Violent View of the Atonement Reveals about Scripture. In this podcast episode, you will learn how to read and understand the violent portions of Scripture in light of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. On this cross, Jesus shows us how to properly read the Bible. If you struggle with the violent portions of Scripture, it helps to read them through the lens of Jesus Christ on the cross. If you want to sponsor a reading of one of my books into audiobook format, please reach out to me through the contact f...

The Task of the Church (Part II): Growing Adults (Ephesians 4:15-16)

In Ephesians 4:14-16, we have some clear instructions on what the church is supposed to do. There are two parts to these instructions of God about the task of the church, and so we will consider them in two different studies. I previously considered Ephesians 4:14, and this study looks at Ephesians 4:15-16. Both of these studies, along with all the others in this series, are drawn from my book, God’s Blueprints for Church Growth. The Task of the Church (Part II): Growing Adults (Ephesians 4:15-16) “… but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of ...

The Task of the Church (Part I): Guarding Children (Ephesians 4:14)

What is the church supposed to DO? If you ask 10 Christians this question, you’ll get fifteen answers. Is it to send out missionaries and evangelists to share the gospel? Maybe it’s to attract the unchurched to our Sunday morning event so they can hear about Jesus? Maybe it’s community involvement so we can serve the poor and needy. Or political involvement to change the world for the better. Or maybe the church is to provide top quality worshipful experiences for the believers who gather on Sunday morning? Or maybe it’s high quality biblical teaching to help Christians grow in the knowledge of Scripture. Thankfully, in Ephesians 4:14-16, God, through the pen of Paul, provides some clear instructions on what the church is supposed to do. There are two parts to these instructions of God abo...

The Best Model for Church Growth (Ephesians 4:13)

Note: This study is from my book, God’s Blueprints for Church Growth. The Model for Church Growth (Ephesians 4:13) … till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ … (Ephesians 4:13) My  brother is an architect, and several years ago, the firm he works for was hired to design an addition to the largest church in town. During that time, I remember stopping into his office when the planning process was in its final stages. He was working on putting together a miniature chipboard model of what the church building would look like with the expansion. He was almost done with the model at the time, and I remember looking at it in awe. He had cut out all the windows. He had made ...

Who Does the Work of the Ministry in the Church? (Ephesians 4:12)

Note: This study is from my book, God’s Blueprints for Church Growth. … for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.Ephesians 4:12 John F. Kennedy once told our nation, “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” And for a while, we followed his advice. But consumerism’s viselike grip upon our lives has us once more asking, “What will the government do for me?” According to the Christian philosopher Francis Schaeffer, this me-first, entitlement mentality is the type of thinking that led to the downfall of the Roman Empire.[1] If things continue as they are, this attitude will lead to our downfall as well. But before that happens, this same mindset will lead to the downfall of the church. Most C...

What is fasting?

Losing weight, reaching a higher level spiritually, wanting to receive something from God; there are endless reasons for fasting. The reason differs per person and there also isn’t just one way to do it. So, what is fasting? What is fasting in general?  For what reason and in what way someone fasts, differs a lot. But in the basis it always is the same. When you fast, you don’t eat, drink or do anything for a certain amount of time. What is fasting in Christianity? Also within Christianity the reasons and ways of fasting differ per person. Some people fast because they want to ask something from God and they really want to receive it. Others seek God’s will for their lives and fast to find out what it is. Still others would like to work on their relationship with God and fast to ...

Church Leaders Who Help Church Growth (Ephesians 4:11)

Note: This study is from my book, God’s Blueprints for Church Growth. Once upon a time, in a local church, there were four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was asked to do it. But Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Then Somebody got angry about it, because it was Everybody’s job. But since Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, and Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it, it ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody and Nobody did the job that Anybody could have done in the first place. Right about this time, a fifth person visited the church. This person’s name was Confused. He looked around, saw what was happening, and never came back. All too often...

What are the names of God?

We see the word ‘god’ in many religions. Often the gods also have their own names. In Christianity, God is also often addressed by the word God. Why? Because Christians believe that there is only one God. That’s also why they always write it with a capital letter. But did you know that in the Bible, the most important book for Christians, there are many other names for God? They all say something about the character and deeds of God. Some names of God YHWH In Exodus God calls himself I Am. This name is also known as the letters YHWH, which is often pronounced Yahweh or Jehovah. This roughly translates to I Am. This name describes God’s presence; He is always there, always with you. The name Yahweh occurs about 7,000 times in the Old Testament. Adonai – My Lord The Jews do not pronounce his...

Rejoice in Your Differences! (Ephesians 4:7-10)

Do you want church unity? In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us how. Here is what Paul is saying about how to develop unity in the church: Ephesians 4:1-3: Check your own attitude first. Ephesians 4:4-6: Focus on all the things you have in common. Ephesians 4:7-10: And regarding the things you do NOT have in common, praise Jesus for those, because He made you all different by giving you different gifts. We have already studied the first two points. This study looks at point 3. What Do You Do when You Have Disagreements? When you are in a disagreement with someone—it doesn’t matter who, and you want to mend your relationship, what is generally the first thing that you do? Most of us have been taught that in order to mend damaged relationships, we need to get everyone together and talk it over....

Seven Elements of Christian Unity (Ephesians 4:4-6)

In Ephesians 1-3, Paul explained that God has given us great spiritual riches so that we can lead the world into peace. In the first part of Ephesians 4, Paul tells us Christians that the first way we can show the world how to live in peace is by living in peace with one other. This begins, as we learned in the last study, by looking to our own heart first and developing certain attitudes of the heart. In this study, we learn that as we seek to live in peace with other Christians, we should focus on seven key truths that all Christians have in common. When we focus on what we have in common rather than on on what divides us, we will begin to create peace in our midst. Seven Elements of Christian Unity (Ephesians 4:4-6) As stated above, in Ephesians 4:1-3, Paul taught us to look to our own ...

The Church Must Lead the World into Peace (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Everyone wants unity, but nobody really knows how to achieve it. Most people today seem to think that unity requires conformity. We think that unity is achieved when everybody thinks the same way, talks the same way, dresses the same way, and has the same opinions. Where differences occur, division results, and unity dies. And some people seek to achieve unity by silencing and cancelling those who have different opinions. You see, when we are in a conflict with someone, we think it is the responsibility of the other person to change their ways, so we can get along with them. We point at their faults and what they said, or what they did, and say that if there is going to be peace, they have to change. Paul challenges all of this in Ephesians 4:1-3. In these verses, Paul shows how we can hav...

How to become a Christian

Every month, about 50 people google this question, “How to become a Christian” Apparently, many people have a desire to learn more about Jesus. Or about God. It’s not just a question either, so it makes sense that people are looking for an answer. What is involved in becoming a Christian? Take the first step The first step is to make a choice. Deciding that you want to become a Christian, or at least want to know more, is the first step. Faith usually doesn’t come just like that and you won’t learn about it if you don’t choose to learn more about it. That is why making that first choice is a very important step. Pray This is an important part of your choice to become a Christian. Pray. There are no strict requirements for prayer. You can just tell God what you are thinking about at that mo...