Are you a responsible and accurate theologian?

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them,” (Acts 16:25)

What strikes me about the apostles is there rejoicing in the midst of persecution. Paul and Silas found themselves in prison for helping a poor innocent girl. She was being used and abused for profit by local business men. Possessed by a demon she was able to reveal the fortunes of others. They were content to allow her to continue in this state of darkness for their own gain. Paul and Silas were not. They exercised the demon, freeing her from bondage.

Once these men realized their cash cow was gone, they lied about and slandered Paul and Silas to the local authorities. They had them beaten and thrown into prison. Even though they were wounded and shackled in the inner prison, they prayed and sung hymns to the Lord. Not to themselves but openingly so that all the other prisoners could hear.

  • Would we rejoice in the Lord openly in a situation like they were facing?
  • Would we praise God even as we were being persecuted by Him?
  • Would we continue to be a witness for him as we were being punished by the local authorities for following the Lord?

These are tough questions. Ones we won’t know the answer to until we are in the situation.

That, however, doesn’t mean we can’t prepare for the situation. I believe Paul, Silas, and others rejoiced in the Lord because they knew the Lord. They didn’t just know of Him, but they knew Him. Their relationship with Him was real and intimate. As well as they knew His character and His actions. They were theologians. We should be theologians as well.

No, you don’t need to go to seminary to be a theologian. Everyone is a theologian because everyone has an opinion about God, which means right now, no matter what degree you have or don’t have, you are a theologian.

The question is: Are you a responsible and accurate theologian?

If we are going to stand firm for Christ in the midst of persecution we must be responsible and accurate theologians because what we know about God will determine how we respond to difficult situations.

Reach the nations in your backyard

“And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.””(Acts 10:15)

In a vision, God makes it clear to Peter that the gospel is for the nations. Peter is sent to Cornelius, who was a centurion, a Gentile. He was not a part of the nation of Israel by birth, but Peter was sent to fellowship with and present the good news of Jesus to him and those who were with him.

In this instance, God shows that He is for the nations. The good news that Jesus provides forgiveness of sins is not solely a message for Israel. Rather it is a message for the entire world. As Peter says in verse 43,

“To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (Acts 10:43)

Everyone who believes in Jesus, no matter what background or nationality, can experience salvation. They can be forgiven of their sins and experience peace with God.

We are a testimony to God’s plan for the nations. Most of you who are reading this post are Gentiles who have been grafted into Israel. We are the nations. In order to continue to reach the nations, we don’t have to go much further than our own community. That is not to say we shouldn’t send missionaries overseas, we certainly should. But we must not forget that the nations to whom Jesus directs the disciples are you and me. We have the nations in our own backyard.

Part of living life “on mission” for Jesus is to reach the nations. We have an opportunity to do that each and everyday. Will you begin building relationships with your neighbors and co-workers in an attempt to reach the nations? Will you have someone over to your home for dinner in an attempt to reach the nations? Will you walk across the ball field and talk to another parent on the sidelines in an attempt to reach the nations? Will you have lunch with a co-worker in an attempt to reach the nations?

The nations are right here in our own backyard will you make an attempt to reach them?

Why do I have to join a church?

To relate to God, you must do it “covenantally.” He wants all of you; he wants every aspect of you; he wants every bit of you.” It’s silly, but it’s natural that American Christians will say to me, “I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Why do I have to join a church?” I say, “What do you mean?”

“Where does it say in the Bible that I have to join a church?”

“On every page,” if you understand the covenant. All joining a church means is you’re willing to make a public vow that makes you accountable for your whole life. That’s what we don’t like because, “Who needs that? The most important thing is the personal and the spontaneous.”

No! The most important thing is every part of you has to go to him. You’re supposed to make yourself a whole burnt offering on the altar. That’s what it says in Romans 12 where it says, “Make yourself a living sacrifice, a whole burnt offering, to the Lord.”

 Keller, Timothy J., The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013)