Posts Tagged ‘Kingdom’

Book Plunge: The Rest of Life

January 8, 2014

therestoflife

What do I think of Witherington’s work on life in the kingdom? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Ben Witherington certainly is one of the greatest biblical minds out there and in looking through his books, I was intrigued to find one called “The Rest of Life.” In it, Witherington deals with issues not normally talked about explicitly in sermons and how they relate to the Kingdom. We are often told that we are to work hard at what we do, but are we told that we need to play? Witherington says we do. We are told we need to sleep, but what about rest, which Witherington says is different? How is it that we are to study? What about eating and drinking? And of course, we are told about sexual ethics at times, but do we have anything on the role of sex in the kingdom?

(Okay. Now with that last one I know I got the attention of every guy reading this blog.)

It is amazing we have so little on these when they so much dominate our time. Americans live a life where we can easily get enough food to satisfy us. How ought we to live in response? We have several entertainment options before us. Is it wrong for us to take the time to play when we could spend that time “serving the Lord” or “Doing Bible study”? What role does sex play in the kingdom of God, especially if there will be no need of it in eternity?

Witherington takes us through each of these kinds of areas and in the end of each writing, I definitely had a greater sense of how I wanted to live my life in response and take them more seriously. It is amazing that for so many of us in years of theological study, we never really take the time to consider the concepts of activities that we like to do every day.

For instance, let’s consider play. I have been a regular gamer all my life and is there any place for that in being a devout Christian? Absolutely. Play gives us a chance to unwind and release a lot of tensions. Of course, like anything else, done excessively it is a problem, but play is also pointing to the full realization of the Kingdom. It is pointing to a time where we do not have to worry about the world. We can enjoy something in the moment itself.

What about sex? Witherington certainly deals with the myth that many people have bought into about Christianity (Including people like Carrier) that for Christians, sex is only about procreation. Witherington tells us that it is also for the purposes of unity and pleasure, but any sexual relations for a Christian will be in a relationship that all things being equal, would be capable of reproducing were everything in full working order. He also shows us that this is in the context of marriage and that sex is not simply a physical act but an act meant to unify persons together in a bond of unity.

People who read The Rest of Life will be blessed for it. It will enable your life activities to be seen in a whole new perspective. Also, the chapters will work great if you want to read them in a small group setting or a church setting and have them be open for discussion.

And I have no doubt our churches would be blessed if we read more of Ben Witherington and others like him and far less of people like Joel O’Steen.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Prayer in the Kingdom

February 25, 2013

Why do we even pray? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

In order to be fully expressive of my own tendencies here, I will say that prayer is not something I am good at. I find I am so busy throughout the day I often don’t get around to prayer and when I do, it can be difficult to focus. If a reader thinks I’m one of those people who prays an hour a day, then you are going to be gravely disappointed. Fortunately, I have recently taken to remedy this in my life, especially realizing how much my Mrs.’s well-being could depend on my prayers. I have people now holding me accountable and someone I email every day to let him know how I’m doing.

So I write this as one who needs to teach myself.

I’ve been writing much on the idea of Jesus as king. What does this mean for us when we pray? Why do we pray? That is the starting question.

While we can think the reason we pray is to get forgiveness or give glory to God or to make requests, let’s remember the first reason we pray is that we are told to. In fact, we are told how to pray and to be persistent and to even ask for things that we want when we pray. We’re told to not stop asking.

Yet how are we to do this? We are to boldly approach the throne of grace, but do we just walk into the throne room and start making requests? Not at all. In the ancient world, such would have been thought to be absurd.

Imagine you’re a first century peasant and you get a chance to have an audience with Caesar and speak with him. How are you going to do it? Are you going to go into his throne room and say “I’d like to make a list of things that I want you to do for me.”?

Such an idea is ludicrous. Instead, you will come in with the best attitude that you can. You will thank the Caesar for his rule and leadership in the empire. You will admit your own status. You are just a servant. You will tell him all the ways that you do not deserve to be in his presence. You will thank him that he has agreed to see you. Only then would you begin to start making a case for a request.

What happens when you come to God?

There are differences of course. God is all-knowing. You also don’t really need to fear that God will smite you if you make a wrong request. Yet if you realize that Jesus is king, don’t you think you ought to treat Him far better than you would be treating Caesar?

Are we coming to Christ the King and honoring Him as King? Do we dare go to the throne room and start immediately making requests of the sovereign of the universe without giving Him proper honor? Do we go in without confessing our sins to make sure that we are cleansed to speak to Him? (I do realize we are forgiven already, but we still confess anyway)

Do we take the time to thank the king for all that He has done? It is easy to overlook all the blessings of everyday and ingratitude is something that can hinder our walk with Christ. Yes. Things aren’t perfect, and they never will be until we reach eternity, but there is much to be thankful for.

What happens when you make the request and you don’t get what you want? You realize that that is the right of the king. He is under no obligation to give you anything that you ask for. He is not obligated to let your life on Earth keep going for one second longer. Every single good thing you have in your life is a gift from Him.

Recently we had a fundraiser for Deeper Waters. We didn’t raise as much as I’d like, but we raised something. What was my response? To give thanks for it. We got something and that was good. We did get enough to get a new headset for the ministry, which means hopefully before too long, maybe even this Saturday, you will hear the Deeper Waters podcast. (We have been picked up by Grok Talk Radio to be syndicated on the internet)

My king did not owe me anything. I was thankful for what He did give. Of course I hope it will be more next time, but it was enough for what we need. That is what we are told. We are to pray for our daily bread. We are told to seek first the Kingdom and His righteousness and all else will be added to us. Here’s some questions to consider. Did Jesus mean what He said? If so, was He right? How will you as a Christian answer?

Another reason to pray is to remind us that we are to trust YHWH for everything. Asking YHWH for what we desire reminds us that what we desire comes from Him. It reminds us of our complete dependence on Him in order to make it in this world, something we tend to lose in our modern age where we can go to a supermarket and get food without sweat and toil, turn on a light to see, have numerous books and entertainment tools around us, drive or fly anywhere we wish, etc.

Our world is modernized, but it is still our Father’s world.

And let us remember something else. The very Messiah walking on this Earth prayed regularly, which is something I find greatly convicting. If the very Son of God needed prayer to fully serve His Father, then it is simply arrogance on our part to think that we do not need to pray.

In conclusion, let’s all make prayer a greater priority and realize we are addressing the king. When you are praying, please pray for Deeper Waters too. Pray for our success in serving Christ in reaching the world and pray for me personally that I will learn even more the importance of prayer and follow through with it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Who Gets The Kingdom?

February 20, 2013

Who’s welcome into the Kingdom? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I post my blog entries up on TheologyWeb.com, and if you’re not a member there and like discussing theology and apologetics, you need to come. I post under the name of ApologiaPhoenix there. Anyway, I had a commenter who did say that he thinks forgiveness is an important theme in the gospels. I had not intended to downplay forgiveness in yesterday’s post. I just emphasized another point because it is my fear that we make the gospels be something they’re not and then miss what they are.

Of course, forgiveness does show up in the gospels and I’d like to tie that in to the idea of Jesus as a king in the gospels. As a king, Jesus is in a position to grant forgiveness to those who He believes have violated His rule. In fact, to come to Jesus and seek forgiveness for sin tells plenty about how Jesus was seen to the people. That He accepted it tells us more about how He saw Himself.

If you have sinned, then in a covenant sense, you have fallen out of favor with God. You are no longer in right relation to Him and owe Him a debt. Biblically, we know that we can never repay a debt that we owe to God. To forgive on anyone’s part is to say that the debt is no longer held against us. We are free to go as if we do not owe anything, which is a quite rich gesture on the part of God. Those who think God judges sin too seriously, such as Hell and the Canaanite conquest, need to realize God is just as serious with forgiving sins and gives that to anyone who sincerely asks.

So Jesus is going through Israel and is He is making a campaign to be the Messiah of Israel. What role does forgiveness play? Let us consider what is being talked about. Jesus is talking about the Kingdom. Something that every kingdom has is citizens. People living in the Roman Empire would know the great value of being a citizen of Rome. What greater value would there be in being a citizen of the Kingdom of God?

Jesus in forgiving sinners and in associating with prostitutes and tax collectors is saying “These are the people I deem worthy of being citizens of the kingdom of God.” Now to be sure, He is not approving their behavior. What He is approving is that they are cognizant of their need for Him and for the forgiveness of God. It is their turning to recognize Him as king that makes them allowed to be in the Kingdom. There is no place in the Kingdom for those who do not accept the King.

Fortunately, this is a thing of the past. As we are today, we don’t have anybody who thinks that certain people ought not to be forgiven and that Jesus just would not associate with some people. We are past all of this silly class distinction and it never enters the church.

I sure hope you don’t buy that.

I am a strong Republican, but I am sure many of my fellow Republicans would not like to think about liberals and Democrats inheriting the Kingdom of God, but there will be such people there provided they have accepted Christ as King. Many Democrats need to realize as well that we evil conservatives and Republicans will be in the Kingdom as well, but also on only the same standard. Is Christ king?

Some people from a high-church climate need to realize that those people who don’t dress as nicely will also be a part of the Kingdom. Meanwhile, those poor who think the high-class types are just snobs also need to realize that some of them will be in the Kingdom as well. The requirement again is the same.

Think about how many communities are looked down on by some. Those goth kids down at the mall? If they have Christ as King, they will be in the Kingdom. That teenager who listens to that loud music? If Christ is King, he will be in the Kingdom. Those people at church that talk your ear off or the ones that seem quite silent? If Christ is King, they will be in the Kingdom.

People of every race, tribe, and language will be in the Kingdom. If you have a problem with a certain trace, tribe, or language, it’s best to deal with it now, because chances are you’ll spend eternity with someone from that group.

And let’s consider two of the hardest people to love that will be in the Kingdom eternally if this is correct.

First is your neighbor. We all know that family can be some of the toughest people to love and so can close friends, but they will be in the Kingdom as well. Your spouse might have some little idiosyncracies that drive you crazy. (I can assure you I have so many that Allie probably wants to go berserk at times. She thinks she’s married to Sheldon Cooper. I’m sorry. “Dr. Sheldon Cooper.”) Love them into Christlikeness, but realize you spend eternity with them, so learn to love them now.

We live next door to my parents in my grandmother’s old house. It can be a mixed blessing. Overall, it’s good as they can help us out with so many things that we can use the help on. Of course, we have to spend some time making boundaries that are proper. There are times we do things to them they don’t understand and frustrate them. There are times they do the same to us. We have to learn to love though. We’re in the Kingdom forever.

And the last person so hard to love is yourself. It is important for us to realize that we have been chosen for the Kingdom. It is not something about being worthy. In fact, the admittance into the Kingdom is based upon realizing you are not worthy. Our whole problem today is we make getting into the Kingdom to be something about worthy, as if one earns a position at the table.

In the OT, David wanted to show honor to Jonathan’s family and so he sought out a relative of Saul’s. He found Mephibosheth, a young man who was crippled in both feet. The account is found in 2 Samuel 9 and states a number of times that Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table. It wants us to make sure we notice this. This person with nothing to offer was given the honor of eating at the table of the King. It was not about worth. It was about grace, that is, the favor of the King, and if it was earned, it would not be grace.

Unfortunately, in the time of Jesus, several did not think these types should be in the Kingdom. It eventually led to the crucifixion, yet as I said yesterday, the Father overruled that with the resurrection of the Son of God.

Apparently, He thinks such people should be in the Kingdom.

And for that, we should be living lives of gratitude devoted to the service of the one who has granted us to be citizens of the Kingdom. We are but servants doing what we have been told.

In Christ,
Nick Peters