Saturday, September 23, 2006

House of Prayer

This is a Hebrew Biblical passage.
When the Pharisees began to conduct business at the Temple, Jesus quoted this passage to justify his cleansing of the temple.

"For My House Shall Be Called a House of Prayer." (Isaiah 56:7). The Hebrew letters above the south entrance of Temple Israel's Riverbend synagogue spell out this message for all to see (

Wikipedia notes: "According to
halakha Jews should—and men must—pray three times a day; ideally with a minyan. Although prayers can be recited anywhere (except in nonhygienic or immodest environments), the synagogue's primary purpose is to facilitate this communal prayer." (

Jesus disciples received the Holy Ghost in the upper room where, "they all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Acts 2:14). The early church regularly gathered, and "continued steadfastly in the apostles doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:42).

Paul wrote 1 Timothy as a handbook on how we ought to "conduct [ourselves] in the house of god" (3:15), that is the church. In chapter 2 he writes, "I desire that men (plural) in every locality pray lifting up holy hands" (I Ti. 2:8). We are to make "supplications, prayers, intercession and giving of thanks" for all men (2:1).

I can't think of the last time I heard of a well attended prayer meeting of a local church anywhere. I wonder why this is so radically missing in our evangelical scene? I wonder if it is a sign of our spiritual depth (or lack thereof)?

I have become more and more convicted of the need to have a more regular and effective prayer life personally. As I have begun to put this principle into practice I have felt closer to God, sinned less and worshipped more. I wonder what would happen if our churches did this together in greater numbers?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Created For Community?

Community exists everywhere in our culture, from the traditional sports and clubs to the new wave of web groups. It has been said that in the "post-modern", culture, community is paramount. If the church is to reach this generation for Christ, then she must become the community par excellence of our time.

Only through community, the argument runs, can the gospel be effectively shared. Only through community can discipleship advance. Is this true? Is this Biblical?

Certainly there is a great deal of truth in the claims of today's post-modern pundits. Christian post-moderns still believe in some absolutes, so we can say that. Facebook is the most talked about thing in the college generation. Belonging to the "cool" e-groups is all the rage. People do tend to be more effectively ministered to by those they trust and are in relationship with. Whether it is in trusting the messenger enough to listen intently to the gospel, or to let someone know our struggles and allow ourselves to be discipled.


Biblically, we see that the Church is a Community. We are the e!kklhsia, that is "the gathered. The Church is a "body" that functions together (I co. 12:12). It is a place that cares for the poor and orphan (Jms 1:27). So the church should excel in community.

Evangelistically, we know the culture is desperate for community, and they should see this in us, as Jesus said, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Mt. 5:16).


Equal to this opportunity, is the great danger presented. An experienced and effective evangelist warned me, "What you draw people with, is what you draw them to". It is very possible to veil the gospel and create "community-Christians", as happened in the earliest church in Acts (More will be explained on this later).

Theologically, the danger of relational redemption is most concerning. The community theologians tend to emphasis the loss of relationship in the fall, and the fundamental need to be restored to "relationship" with God. But there is little to no mention of sin and atonement. Is a person saved, by joining the community, or by repentance and faith? That is not to say that all "community" efforts drop the gospel, but there is a tendency to minimize it.

Further, communities tend to gather around all sorts of things, imitating the world, instead of creating true biblical community. This leaves us with the fundamental challenge, "what does God teach about biblical community?"

Monday, September 18, 2006

Pursuing Liberty

Pursuing Liberty
It is the sine qua non of Americana to enjoy, "Life, LIBERTY, and the pursuit of happiness". Liberty University, carries the motto: Knowledge Aflame.

Biblically I am struck by the passion of Paul, seen in his prayer on behalf of the Phillipian church, "And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment….being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Christ Jesus, to the glory and praise of God" (Phil 1:9,11). King David told his son Solomon, "Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding" (Prov. 4:7), and so "when you walk, your steps will not be hindered, and you will not stumble" (v.12).

The Christian life is vitally tied to knowledge. The type of knowledge Paul prays for is e=pivgnwsiV (epignosis), meaning "precise and accurate knowledge". It is this knowledge that allows us to be "filled with the fruits of righteousness".

Essential to Evangelism

The only evangelism that can succeed is an evangelism that gives the hearer precise and accurate knowledge of their condition, along with the atoning work of Christ the Creator. This is what God meant, when He inspired Paul to write that He "desires all men to be saved, even to come to the knowledge of the truth: (I Ti. 2:4). We are to come to –the—knowledge of –the—truth. Salvation is Truth oriented, not emotion, not work, not action, but faith from the knowledge (e=pivgnwsiV) of the truth. Jesus said, "You shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you at liberty" (Jn. 8:32).

Essential to Sanctification

The Christian must rely on the Truth, to pursue his "liberty". Jesus prayed to the Father, "Sanctify them by Your Truth. Your word is Truth" (Jn. 17:17). For this reason, "study diligently to show your self approved unto God, a worker, who does not need to be ashamed, correctly dividing the word of truth" (II Ti. 2:15).

Pursue Liberty

Be free from slavery to sin, "since you have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man who is renewed in the knowledge according to Him who created him" (Col. 3:9b-10). If you want fruit, water the root.