This Great Revolution


The greatest revolution in history is the revolt of the Kingdom of Jesus against the ruler of this dark air, against the principalities of self-love and pride and idolatry and greed that have set themselves up as “kings” in this world.  

The greatest revolt of all time is the one eternal light is mounting against these temporary shadows.  

The church, flawed though she is, is the instrument of that revolution.  She is the people of the coming victory.  

The church, the beloved wife of Jesus Christ, is a people of dangerous love.  She is a people of violent forgiveness.  Christians are a battering ram to the world’s worst lies, both the ones it’s told and the ones it’s been sold.  Our Christian kindness undermines the world’s bloody economy.  The church’s mercy upends this world’s dark systems.  

Our love of children assaults abortion.  Our care for the poor undercuts materialism.  Our promise-keeping in marriage takes a baseball bat to lust.  Our humble serving stands against belligerence and hate.  Christian kindness towards our enemies is an assault on everything Hell stands for.  We are fighting against something just by being children of God.  

We are ice cold water thrown into the face of a world stunned and punch drunk by bitterness and rivalries and selfishness.  We make war with hate by the audacious power of love.  We overcome evil with good.   

We are the people of the greatest revolution.  

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. 

Romans 12:21

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Re:  Wonder Woman


A culture that does not even have a coherent answer to what a woman is is not fit to give anyone a feminine icon.  

Me:  “What is a woman?”

America:  “A strong, independent human.”

Me:  “So can he be a woman?  Steve over there?”

America:  “If that’s what he identifies as.”

Me:  “So what is a man, then?”

America:  “Look, Wade, these are really just arbitrary social categories, anyway.”

Me:  “If they’re arbitrary, then why are you trying to give me a ‘feminine‘ icon?”

America:  “Umm…”

Me:  “Can that guy over there bear children?”

America:  “Umm…”

Me:  “You can get back to me.”

Our culture no longer accepts that God created men and women, at least not in its most prevalent institutions and platforms.  Instead, down deep in its bloodstream, is the belief that no one created us.  And from that flow at least a couple of assumptions.  (1) We don’t owe anyone anything for our existence, or owe anyone anything as created moral beings with moral obligations, and (2) There’s no objective standard of definitions that are just true, not conjecture.  

Now on that (2), abortion rests.  We get to define what a human is, each of us individually, because there isn’t any true answer to the question.   But also on that one rests this dangerous, human-assaulting and humanity-assaulting thing that I’ll call “gender confusion.”  There isn’t anyone to tell us what a man is and there isn’t anyone to tell us what a man should do, our culture says.  There isn’t anyone to tell us what a woman is or what a woman should do.  

“But,” our culture says, “we’ll darn sure tell you what a woman is not.  And no one can tell us what a woman should be.”

Our culture has convictions, but it can’t give a coherent, thorough-to-the-bottom defense of them.  And it can’t tell us why its convictions are right.  It says it knows that women are not designed, when married, to submit to their husbands.  But it won’t, and can’t, coherently say what they are designed for in marriage.  Or in society.  Or as mothers.  Or as daughters.  

This came up when a movement started to swell to allow women into combat situations in the US Armed Forces, and then when two Republican candidates for the presidency in 2016 said they favored women having to register for the draft.  Our culture has produced an ethos where no one could have the down-to-the-ground logical reasoning to say why that was utter nonsense. 

And then it also comes up with this Wonder Woman schtick.  

Here is a fundamental question:  Are women supposed to rush into conflict to save men?  Is that a good thing to be normative?  

Let me ask the question from my vantage point, standing over here on a solid, level ground called “God made the World through Jesus and He gets to say what’s good:”  Are women designed and called by God to rush into battle and save men?

The answer is no.  No, they are not.  No, it is not good for that to be normative.  It would not be healthy and fitting with human flourishing for a society to bless or be proud of its women rushing to the front of conflicts to protect its men.  

No, a society that blessed that should be ashamed.  

We can rail against this all we want, we can be uncomfortable with it until we’ve bitten our nails clean away, but God made men with the design of physically and spiritually protecting their wives, daughters, and the women they are bound to, as well as, in many cases, women and all those who are weaker than them generally.  

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. 

1 Peter 3:7

Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’  Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. 

Genesis 2:18-25

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.  Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control. 

1 Timothy 2:8-15

God did not design grown women to lead, protect, and save grown men.  Men should want to take the first bullet, to sacrificially lead the way, and to spend themselves to protect women.  While that may not be what happens in each and every circumstance (a woman may save a physically disabled man, for instance), it is the design.  It is what is normative and praiseworthy.  

Our culture seems to want to say, “What’s a woman, you ask?  A woman is a strong and resilient human being.  What’s a man?  Well, a man is something else, we’ll get back to you on that.  But both are the same.  I mean, they can’t be the same, I guess, because we’re telling you what each is, and because we also are telling some men they can be women and some women they can be men.  But men and women are not different.  Get it?  They’re the same and can do all the same things and are totally identical, but some of the one are really the other.  But don’t don’t you dare tell me what the one or the other is.  Or should do.  Nobody really made us or gets to tell us what we should be or should do.”

It’s incoherent.  Our culture has no robust definition of woman or womanhood.  All it can offer is stories and images of women doing those noble and good things that God calls men to do.  But at the same time it supports some men wanting to pretend to be women (the very thing it says are just like men) and celebrates (albeit totally incomprehensibly) “womanhood.”  

This is folly, guys.  Women and men were made in the image of God, and made wonderfully distinct.  Women are a beautiful creation of God.  When in congruence with God’s pattern, they reflect His glory and beauty and majesty in their gentleness, their motherly strength, their physical gifts, their Godly obedience to their husbands, their discipling of their sons and daughters, their teaching of younger women, their resilient faith in their Father, their deep and fierce love, their faithfulness, and their rich emotional palate.  

Our culture tries to rob women of their God-given identity by telling them to just be like men, because being what God made a woman to be isn’t good enough.  

If you can’t answer how men and women are differently glorious, if you can’t answer the question of why God didn’t just create two men or two women in the Garden of Eden, then you’ll inevitably tell one to just be more like the other.  

This isn’t pro-woman.  It’s anti-woman.  It’s saying, “‘Woman ‘ isn’t good enough for us.  Instead, let’s just have ‘physically smaller man with long hair.’

“And, um, we’ll give it boots and a rope thingy.”

Texting Romans 5:14

  
Just in case it’d be helpful, I’m passing along my answers to some questions someone texted me about the Romans 5:14.  The person was reading the NIV translation of it.  

Happy Monday!

Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. 

Which translation are you reading?  

Romans 5:13-14 “For sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law.  Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.” (ESV)

The Law given via Moses showed human beings just how convicted they were.  One of its purposes was a sort of public reading of what we’ve done and reading of our sentence.   We were already convicted murderers, but now a town crier was announcing it from a mountain top, so that we’d hear and angels would hear and everyone would know.  We were already convicted.   Already sentenced.  Death already reigned.  But because of the Law it was all the more plain now just how sinful we each and all were…

Yeah, I think they’re doing a little more interpretation than translation there…

The trespass caused the death.  The sin caused the death long before the Law revealed just how awful it was.  But now the awfulness of what we are and what we do and what we’ve done is plain as day, because it’s published on Mount Sinai and delivered to a million of God’s people and recorded in His unbreakable Word and held in His holy Ark of the Covenant. 

Sin reigned before the Law, death reigned before the Law, but now it’s public knowledge just exactly what our sin was and and what it deserves…

The literal language is just “who did not sin in the likeness of the offense of Adam.”  The NIV guys are trying to help you by interpreting that for you as “did not sin by breaking a command.”   But in my opinion they’re probably just making it more confusing…  That’s what preaching is for.  I’d prefer a translation to simply translate…

FYI: Paul uses a word there in the “their trespass was not like…” clause that specifically means “transgress,” not the normal NT word for sin, which would be “hamartia.”  So I think he’s saying that what they did post-Law was an additional layer of wrongdoing.  It was a trespass of a now-public edict…

Paul is saying Adam was a sinless human who sinned, thus death reigned because of him.  Over everyone, pre-Law and post-Law. “But, all my Roman Jewish Christian friends,” he says, “Out father Moses read out an even greater condemnation of us then [sic] Seth or Enoch or Noah had.  We’ve heard from Moses just exactly what we are and what we do.  The Law condemns, it can’t save, and it can’t wind back Adam’s death.  Noah was dead in sin, we’re dead in sin and KNOW just how and why, and we’re all screwed.   

Except that there’s a free gift.  And it ain’t like the trespass…

How to Kill a Church

  
I love the church. Christ’s bride.  The ekklesia, God’s called out people.  He died to save her and I want to live to serve her.  And in my couple of trips around the block as a church member, church planter, church elder, there are a few poisons I’d love to see get big, skull-and-crossbones warning labels so local churches don’t accidentally ingest them.  The most beautiful, God-honoring of churches can be disintegrated if you introduce the right toxin (see Revelation 2-3).*

*Note:  Some churches also just die a natural death, by God’s good will, having done nothing obviously, overtly sinful or wrong.  No single local church lasts forever.   Churches have God-ordained lifespans.  What I’m warning against is “churchicide,” or, if you prefer, church suicide.  

Some ways to kill a church:

  • Get each person in the church to have his main concern be his role or reputation.  The church will either disband within 6 months or stay together out of spite and be insufferable for 20 years.  Each of the people who leave this church or who stays in her just to grumble will be perpetually disgruntled that they didn’t get to do or be what they wanted to do or be.  And whatever you do, don’t let any of the people’s attitude be like this:  

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 

Philippians 2:3-7

  • Get them away from the question “Is this true?”  Make them instead always, always, always ask “Will this work?”  And then get them to think it “worked” if their unbelieving friends and neighbors liked it.  Before you know it, they’ll go from trying to bless people because they want them to know their Maker (Christlike) to trying to get people to like them because that means whatever the church did must have “worked” (retail-like).  If you can get the church to make her decisions based solely on the world’s reactions to those decisions, you’re one or two steps away from turning the church’s leaders into a roomful of TV executives trying to figure out which type of new fall show will draw in their key demographic.  
  • Get the church to look in all the time.  Make them thoroughly and completely overwhelmed with the church structure and the internal systems and programs.  Get them to think only about the people already in the body.  No church can outlive its current members if no new members are made.  It’s simple math.  So you can kill a church by attrition if you get it to stop obeying Jesus’ commands to preach to the unbelieving and make disciples.  This method takes a little patience of course, unlike introducing outright heresy or getting a leader to fall into a massive scandal, but it’ll get you to the same end.  A church who doesn’t care about making new Christians won’t outlive her current Christians.  

Let me pull my tongue back out of my cheek, now:  Don’t let any of these things begin in your church.  And if they’ve already begun, pray and work like crazy for their removal.  

The church is a blessed thing.  And the cities and countries of our world desperately need local churches to minister to Gospel-believers and send them back out into the darkness, as well as to preach Christ’s Good News from the pulpit and the pew loud enough for all to hear.    

I’m short, love and protect the church.  

Jesus died to do the same. 

A Healthy Christian

  
2 observations:

1) I almost never meet a healthy Christian who isn’t plugged in to a local church.

2) Almost every time I meet someone who claims Christ but is not involved in any local church there turns out to be some fairly noteworthy sin or lack of spiritual growth going on in the person’s life.  

The reason that both of these little anecdotal notes make sense to me is that the New Testament doesn’t have much of a category for a Christian doing the Christian life in isolation.  It describes us as citizens of a Kingdom, sheep of a flock, members of a body.  

Whether we are working to straighten the crooked path of a church like the one in Corinth or being persecuted as part of a faithful church like the one in Smyrna, the New Testament’s panorama of the Christian life shows us we should be serving and being served in local churches.  

We should be taking the Lord’s Supper.  

We should be seeing unbelievers come to faith and being baptized.  

We should be submitting to elders/pastors.  

We should be hearing the Word of God preached and taught.  

And we should want these things.  

And there’s another thing we should desire.  If we’ve been born again through faith in Christ, then we’ve been adopted into an eternal family.  We will worship with other saints from every tribe and tongue, every skin color and economic stratus and culture, forever and ever and ever.  We should want to start having that rhythm in our blood now.

So, we should want to participate in the ordinances of Jesus’ church.  We should want to submit to the shepherds within Jesus’ church.  We should want to be in meaningful, accountable relationships with the other people who make up Jesus’ church.  

We should each want to be a part of a church.  

It’s a healthy desire.  

And fulfilling that healthy desire helps to produce a healthy Christian.  

Undoing Babel

  

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 

Ephesians 4:1-7

A long time ago humanity, or at least a lot of us, tried to build a tower.  We wanted to be big and remarkable and lofty.  We wanted to be powerful.  We wanted to be like God.  And pride, just like it always does, killed and destroyed what it touched.  God sentenced sin to death.  

Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.

Genesis 11:4-8

Earth was subjected to confusion because of the pride and sin of men.  Just like Earth was subjected to death and pain because of the pride and sin of Adam.  

But God had a way to make things right.  Through His perfect Son, God would restore what our sin had wrecked.  And one of the things He’d do in resurrecting the dead souls of sinful men is to bring family from what had been fractured.  To unwind the confusion He’d sentenced on us.  Where our pride yielded a planet of warring factions and disparate peoples moving away from the deserted ghost town of Babel, God would bring all sorts of men from all kinds of tribes together through His Good News.  

Centuries after Babel, this happened, just days removed from Jesus’ death on a Roman cross:

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, ‘Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.’ And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’ But others mocking said, ‘They are filled with new wine.’ But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: And in the last days it shall be, God declares,that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. For David says concerning him, I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence. Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool. Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.’ Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brothers, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.’

Acts 2:1-39

This God is bringing many back to Himself.

This is not a god of chaos or confusion.  Those are Satan’s tunes.  This Jesus Christ has offered men a better destiny.  He has purchased for them a brotherhood of thicker blood than their family trees, a brotherhood who will sing in the same choir at the same wedding banquet to the same beautiful Savior with the bond of a common joy forever and ever and ever.  

Our God is making a new people.  

We are not told there should be one body.  We are told that now there is one.  

The God of Jesus Christ is doing something unsearchably wonderful.  He is bringing thousands from dissimilar tribes and tongues together through faith in Him.  God is drawing many different and despicable men to Himself.  

He is undoing Babel.