December 21, 2014

Reconsider Jesus – The Message of the Kingdom

MichaelSpencerThe following is an excerpt from Michael Spencer’s upcoming book: Reconsider Jesus – A fresh look at Jesus from the Gospel of Mark. For the next number of Fridays, we will be giving you a “sneak peek” into this devotional commentary.  Your thoughts and comments are welcome. (Note: There are some edits still to come, but if you do notice something particularly egregious, feel free to send me an email about it.)  If you would like to be contacted when Michael Spencer’s book is available for purchase, drop us a note at michaelspencersnewbook@gmail.com.

The Message of the Kingdom

Mark 1:14-15

14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” – NIV

What is the gospel? What is the “good news”? I think it’s telling that the two most prolific evangelism programs in evangelicalism both approach their audience with questions that Jesus never used.

“Do you know that God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life?”

“If you were to die tonight, and God was to ask you, why should I let you into my heaven, what would be your answer?”

Jesus, on the other hand, did not approach his world with a question at all, but with a proclamation of the arrival of the reign of God. Evangelicalism is a religion of decisions and transactions, and although there are decisions to be made, reducing the Gospel to a decision to accept “God’s plan for my life” or giving the right answer to the question of how to go to heaven seems to have moved well past what Jesus was doing in his earthly ministry.

You see, when Jesus speaks of the gospel, he is proclaiming the arrival of the Kingdom of God. At the heart of this are two things that are fairly challenging to all of us in the materialistic, prosperous west. The statements recorded here are the first statements that Jesus makes in the Gospel, and as such it sets the tone and direction for the entire book. You could even say that they summarize Jesus’ entire mission and message.

1. “The time has come – The kingdom of God has come near.”

2. “Repent and believe the good news!”

In this chapter we will look at the first of these two statements: The announcement that a climactic time has arrived, and the present age has come to its fulfillment point.

The good news is about God and what God is doing. It is not about me. It is not about some idea of success or happiness as the world might define it. You have probably noticed that in our culture God is judged by how much he fills out our shopping lists of needs and wants. This is not good news. This good news is an announcement that things are going to be different.

Check out what Jesus has to say in his first sermon, a further proclamation of the good news:

Luke 4:18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”…. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” – ESV

When you read the Gospels, Jesus is including the excluded, healing the hopeless, remaking Israel, reaching out to the pagan, overturning the religious professionals, redefining all the predictable terms, shocking those who know all the answers and, in general, making it unmistakably clear that the Kingdom isn’t just about forgiveness and “heaven,” but about the life we are living, and will live, both in the Kingdom here and now, as well as in the future. As Jesus walked through this world the Kingdom of God was like a big ship cutting through the waves. Every place he goes, the work and the fruit of the Kingdom flow out from him. Blind people see, hungry people are fed, deaf people hear, those with leprosy are cured, outcasts are included, people who are left out are brought in and beloved. The guilty are forgiven, the dead are raised. If you don’t know who Jesus is, you miss it.

If God is here now, and his Kingdom is present now, then your life is going to be deeply transformed. God himself is going to give your life an entirely different definition and direction. Big questions get asked and answered: What is your God like? Who is your neighbor? How does the Kingdom look when you live in it? Will you follow Jesus to the cross? Everything Jesus says and does is dominated by this Kingdom he is announcing, and his actions and words make it very clear what kinds of changes must take place. The disciples are blown away by it all, and that’s our cue to get our helmets on as well…

Comments

  1. This chapter on Mark 1:14-15 (of which we have an excerpt here) comes from six sources, a written bible study that Michael produced in 1998, an audio bible study from the later years of his life, along with four blog postings.

    I find it interesting that Michael was talking about “Kingdom Gospel” long before it became popular through the writings of N.T. Wright and Scott McKnight. One thing that impressed me about Michael is that he often seemed to be at the leading edge of thinking about a topic.

    • This reminds me McKnight’s King Jesus Gospel. I think it is interesting that people who spend a great deal of time in the gospels tend to drift toward this perspective.

      • McKnight and Wright, will cover this topic in much more depth than Michael did, but he does spend 11 pages (8.5 X11) on the topic, which makes it one of the key topics in the book. That is why I chose it an an excerpt.

  2. In a study guide accompanying the written bible studies (which we may or may not produce) Michael asks the questions. “When was the last time you heard a sermon on the Kingdom of God? Why is this message heard so seldom in some churches?” I think that would be a good place to launch our discussion. I would also add the questions, “How does this view of the gospel fit or not fit with your own view? What was your reaction to it as you read it here?”

    • Maybe off-topic, Mike, but how does this relate to “Kingdom Authority”? I hear that term thrown around in songs and bumper stickers, and I don’t think it’s the same as the Kingdom of God. A google search gets a little weird.

    • Dana Ames says:

      John Wimber used to talk about the Kingdom of God a lot, and not simply in connection with “the miraculous”. As far as I can remember, he’s the only Christian in the spotlight who was talking consistently about this in the ’80s.

      Dana

    • CaseyRoh says:

      Would LOVE the study guide, as this is the type of book/discussion I would like my small group to spend some time with. As the facilitator, I can write those questions myself (and often do), but a study guide or a few reflection questions at the end of each chapter is so helpful to me.

      AND, we talk about Kingdom of God all the time at my church (Episcopal) which has pulpit supply from a fabulous ELCA pastor right now. :)

      • See my note below about Dispensationalism. It think Evangelical churches are just starting to discover what Mainline churches knew all along!

      • Michael’s written Bible studies, along with study guide questions, covered the first 8 chapters of Mark. We have lots of material for the 2nd half of Mark too, but will have to come up with our own questions. We might consider splitting the book in two volumes, as Mark 1 alone comes close to 60 pages. That might make it easier to come out with a study guide quickly for the first volume.

  3. Steve Newell says:

    For many the “Kingdom of God” looks a lot like the their dream of the United States. They have a confusion of the “two kingdoms”. Their gospel is more of a good news that God wants you healthy and wealthy. There is no concept of “sin” or “repentance” much less suffering. Both “conservatives” and “liberals” have the same basic beliefs but they act very different on how to implement it. The first is a very individualistic view way the latter is more a collective view.

    It is a very middle class theology.

    • Rick Ro. says:

      I think you’re right, Steve. That’s probably why conservatives are struggling with what’s going on in the USA, that the idyllic USA which has been for some time viewed by many as the Kingdom of God…turns out it’s not. Part of me wonders if the drifting we’re seeing is God telling the church, “You put YOUR kingdom above MY kingdom, and that’s not how it should be. Align with MY kingdom.” That’s not to say we can’t have a little pride in our country, but clearly the focus of HIS churches should be on HIS Kingdom, not our man-made one.

  4. David Cornwell says:

    How have we escaped discussing the Kingdom of God and what it means up to this point in Church history? To me this is so central to the message of Jesus that we dare not ignore it.

    “As Jesus walked through this world the Kingdom of God was like a big ship cutting through the waves.”

    I love this, and it gives me so much contemplate.

    • I believe, and Michael Spencer alludes to this later is the chapter, that dispensationalism played a large roll in this. Dispensationalism, which was very influential in the 19th and 20th Centuries, draws a sharp distinction between a present church age, and a future kingdom age. This was one of the reasons it did not get preached much from the pulpit, especially among those churches which embraced dispensationalism.

      Another factor that reinforced this was the advent of the First World War, followed by the Great Depression, followed by the Second World War. Theology, and how God was working to accomplish his ends in the world, can get radically changed by experience, and this experience did change the theology of the Western Church. Now that the west is 60 years removed from such distressing times, the theology is starting to swing back a bit.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        Dispensationalism and it’s fallout End Time Prophecy/Pin-the-Tail-on-The-Antichrist ate ten years of my life. Because when The World Ends Tomorrow and It’s All Gonna Burn, why bother? It’s just “It’s All Over But The Screaming” with a Christianese coat of paint and a complementary Rapture Boarding Pass so YOU won’t be personally inconvenienced or have any stake in the matter — “Ah’ll Be Gone, Ah’ll be Gone…”

        Here’s an IMonk Classic on the subject — “Hell House: an Evangelicalism Eager to Leave”:
        http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/thoughts-on-hell-house-an-evangelicalism-eager-to-leave

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      How have we escaped discussing the Kingdom of God and what it means up to this point in Church history? To me this is so central to the message of Jesus that we dare not ignore it.

      Because the Kingdom of God has been hacked down to Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

      Fluffy Cloud Heaven or Eternal Burning Hell and nothing else.

      “There’s just winners and losers
      And don’t get on the wrong side of that line.”
      — Bruce Springsteen, “Atlantic City”

      • Marcus Johnson says:

        Because the Kingdom of God has been hacked down to Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

        Fluffy Cloud Heaven or Eternal Burning Hell and nothing else.

        Not entirely true. Personal Salvation has been mixed with either Rabid Political Conservatism or Rabid Political Liberalism.

        Not that that makes it any better.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Which again echoes the breakdown into Social Gospel without personal salvation, and Gospel of ONLY Personal Salvation. Just now each piece has been co-opted by a political party in isolation. And firewalled to give that political position Divine Right.

          “A fanatic is someone with one piece of a pie who thinks he has the whole pie.”
          — Pope John Paul II

    • David Cornwell says:

      And I think theological liberalism at certain times in the past equated the Kingdom with the ability to progressively change society for the better. The wars of the last century altered some of that thinking. I think some of it is still around in other forms, except the term Kingdom might be out of favor.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        The Victorian-era Social Gospel gave us a Gospel without personal salvation.

        The reaction to that gave us a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

        And the two halves attack each other on sight as Heretics.

        • I think you will find in the book that Michael Spencer does a good job of bringing this back in balance.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

            I’d be surprised if he didn’t. The original Internet Monk really had his head screwed on straight. (That was my epitaph for him when his death was announced.)

  5. Dana Ames says:

    Don’t forget that “it’s” is a contraction for “it is”, and “its” means “belonging or pertaining to it”.

    So this: the present age has come to it’s fulfillment point
    should be: the present age has come to its fulfillment point

    Kind regards from your neighborhood grammar geek…

    Dana

    • Thanks Dana. I usually catch that one! I will make the change in both the original and in this post.

      • Yeah, about that: could you get someone to proofread Michael Spencer’s text too? He was so prolific with his blogposts that a lot of typos got through. But we knew what he meant.

  6. Rick Ro. says:

    Bravo! I am SOOO looking forward to the finished product!!!! Praying that God blesses everyone involved in its creation.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Especially since the Original Internet Monk died almost on the eve of his first book coming out.

  7. Christiane says:

    Hi MICHAEL BELL,

    thank you for confirming this: “”Evangelicalism is a religion of decisions and transactions, and although there are decisions to be made, reducing the Gospel to a decision to accept “God’s plan for my life” or giving the right answer to the question of how to go to heaven seems to have moved well past what Jesus was doing in his earthly ministry.”

    I was recently challenged by the moderator of a fundamentalist evangelical blog to answer to his questions but, being Catholic, the questions were in ‘another faith language’, and so I wasn’t able to respond, as he did not wish any clarifying questions or comments on my part, but in his words: “answer the following questions clearly and without equivocation”. Based on my limitations, I simply gave him reference to the catechism of my faith, which he promptly deleted from his post . . . well, I tried, but there it was and I was left thinking about ‘questions’ and how this works for some evangelicals who are devoted to the principal of ‘exclusion’. My reason for being there is that my grandmother was a Southern Baptist and I have tried for a long time to comprehend the truncated ‘biblical gospel’ they espouse, which is so very different from the gospel of Our Lord as lived by my grandmother of blessed memory. Those ‘questions’? Have a gander:
    “1) Do you believe that people (before they come to Christ) are sinners who are deserving of hell and under condemnation?
    2) Do you believe that someone must repent of their sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ to be forgiven of sin and saved from it?
    3) Do you believe that people who try to be good, who are humble and nice, are going to heaven even if they do not repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ?”
    4) Do you believe that human good works (for instance, humility) play a part in our eternal salvation?”

    All I can say is ‘thank God’ for Michael Spencer. He created a place for Christians to come together and be peaceful with one another and share points of view that helped understanding to flourish. I think that Michael understood a lot about what troubled us in our divisions from one another, and he knew who promoted those divisions and who worked to end them, at least to end the misunderstandings and confusion, for which may his memory be blessed among us. Thanks to you and to all those who are engaged in continuing his good work.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      I was recently challenged by the moderator of a fundamentalist evangelical blog to answer to his questions but, being Catholic, the questions were in ‘another faith language’, and so I wasn’t able to respond, as he did not wish any clarifying questions or comments on my part, but in his words: “answer the following questions clearly and without equivocation”.

      AKA “in MY dialect of Fluent Christianese, and agreeing 1000% with MY Perfectly-Biblical Theology, you Satan-worshipping Apostate Romish Papist — NO POPERY!!!!!!!”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

      Those ‘questions’? Have a gander:
      “1) Do you believe that people (before they come to Christ) are sinners who are deserving of hell and under condemnation?
      2) Do you believe that someone must repent of their sin and put their faith in Jesus Christ to be forgiven of sin and saved from it?
      3) Do you believe that people who try to be good, who are humble and nice, are going to heaven even if they do not repent of their sins and place their faith in Christ?”
      4) Do you believe that human good works (for instance, humility) play a part in our eternal salvation?”

      This is a Four Spiritual Laws setup, pure and simple.

      Ready and waiting to beat the mugu over the head until he kneels and Says The Magic Words. Probably with a little Ressegue Regression (an infinite-regression tactic to wear the mugu down) waiting in the back pocket.

      This is what happens when you have a Gospel of Personal Salvation and ONLY Personal Salvation.

      • HUG,

        It might be helpful to the discussion if you elaborated on the alternative.

        • Christiane says:

          I am very certain the ‘The Gospel’ includes ‘the Gospel of the Kingdom’ and ‘the Gospel of the Beatitudes’, and all the other teachings that Our Lord gave to us that are recorded through the testaments of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

          I guess I don’t buy a ‘truncated’ version. And I certainly have no hatred for the people who hold on to it in faith although some of them accuse me of hating them, when I disagree with their ‘biblical gospel’ as THE gospel in its entirety.

          Michael Spencer saw through so much and had a gift of explaining that WAS understood by many of us from different traditions,
          and I think God gave him those gifts to share with us, and I am very greatful to find a group of people who don’t see ‘disagreement’ and ‘other perspectives’ as ‘hatred’ against them personally. I can take a deep breath on this blog, and I don’t have to walk on eggshells here, but

          HOW do we make things better when we do interact with fundamentalist Christians?
          I lack the knowledge for sure, and personally lack much of the patience needed, but still there MUST BE some way to communicate that is meaningful to all involved, and that dispels some of the misunderstandings that now keeps fundamentalist Christians a bit isolated from interacting with others in a respectful manner. (?) Ideas? please . . .

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

          Another truncation was the Social Gospel, the part dealing with social justice and the here-and-now.

          Still another was the Moral Code Gospel, the part dealing with personal behavior in the here-and-now.

          And, of course, Fluffy Cloud Heaven/Eternal Hell, the part dealing with the spiritual without noticing the here-and-now.

          Each is an incomplete part of the whole, like body & soul. (Why do you think the original Christian Afterlife was Resurrection of the Body?)

          • David Cornwell says:

            Christian Reconstructionism and it’s founder Rushdoony also fit into this history one way or another. It has had tremendious continuuing influence on the Christian Right and it’s culture wars. To me this is a mirror reflection of Christian Liberalism, a Kingdom without the King and His power.

    • Marcus Johnson says:

      I actually had someone come up to me on campus one day to ask me those questions, Christiane. First, I got really offended, because he was trying to suck me into a long conversation. Second, I already am a Christ-follower, and he assumed that I wasn’t. Third, because none of these questions would lead to a real discussion on the gospel, or the work that God was already doing in my life. He was giving me a sales pitch, for something that wasn’t for sale.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says:

        He was “one fat man trying to convince another fat man that he was starving in order to close the sale on another loaf.”

  8. Looking very much forward to this book! And now, Friday’s at IM. Thanks!

  9. Robert F says:

    “You see, when Jesus speaks of the gospel, he is proclaiming the arrival of the Kingdom of God. At the heart of this are two things that are fairly challenging to all of us in the materialistic, prosperous west.” Yes, they are challenging to us in the materialistic, prosperous west. But not only here or now or among people like us (whatever that may be). Apparently, they were also challenging in first century Palestine, and in medieval Europe, and everywhere they have been proclaimed; they are challenging to the poor as well as the affluent, to the informed as well as the ignorant, to the humbled as well as the proud. I know they are challenging to me, though I’m none too wealthy or wise, and though my middle-middle class pedigree is sliding down the status pole into the anonymous maw of not-having-enough-to-get-by. The struggling and the destitute dream of having enough and more-than-enough, of being safe in the bosom of Mammon’s favor; or they dream that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will take care of their hungry children and sick wife. That’s why miracle ministries are so popular in places around the world where people are desperately poor. And when their children don’t have enough despite their heartfelt prayer, and their wife dies though they have begged God for her life, then the proclamation of the Kingdom becomes a terrible challenge to them. Here in the prosperous West we have less trust in miracle ministries (at least a good portion of us have less trust in them) for the same reason the proclamation of the Kingdom is a challenge to us: we believe more in our own ability to make the Kingdom happen on our own.

  10. Aidan Clevinger says:

    I appreciate this post as a much-needed corrective to the very individualistic attitude that’s pervaded a lot of American Evangelicalism. But I do hope that we don’t go too far in the opposite direction. The Gospel may not be about *only* personal salvation – but it is still about that. Hearing about the Kingdom of God won’t do me much good if I’m excluded from that Kingdom because I’m dead in my sins.

    • Michael Spencer spends one chapter discussing the gospel of the Kingdom of God, and the next discussing what it means to repent and believe. In my research I found one place where he seemed to put down “personal relationship” and another where he stressed the importance of it. I tried to edit his comments to be consistent with both thoughts.

    • One important nuance of Kingdom of God theology, and the notion of salvation as being for Creation, and for the world, the people of God, is precisely that it de-emphasizes the “personal salvation” thing because it’s basically the late 19th and 20th century church’s excuse to put a churchy spin on the me-centered narcissism of the world around them. Frankly, there’s no such thing in the Bible. It might be the case that a person is saved, but to call it “personal” salvation is really a stretch, given what we mean by that word. Salvation is creational, corporate, ecclesial. God invites people into that, and makes a place for them in it. He doesn’t hand out “personal” salvation like it’s some kind of handbag or vending machine snack.

  11. If this represents the central message of Christianity, then Christianity doesn’t make a lot of sense. It either involves a false prediction, or a rather airy view of the world (depending on how we interpret the “Kingdom of God”). The pretty language notwithstanding, it is hard to see why this should be considered good news, or indeed, whether it is any kind of news at all.

    • For a historical view that gives a clear explanation of the meaning of “kingdom of God,” go to Andrew Perriman’s blog: http://www.postost.net/.

      • This is a good website, very thoughtful. But of course it is just one view.

        • You’re right, Wexel. But when we’re asking questions as you are (and I assume you are serious), it never hurts to check out what thoughtful interpreters are discovering. The Christian conversation in this age is like the Jewish conversation was in the OT eras — lively, at times argumentative, pitting various interpretations against one another and sometimes leaving them side by side so that each can shine its light on the question at hand.

          Having said that, I am of the opinion that the “kingdom” theme is one of the most prominent threads throughout the entire canon and that it begins in Genesis 1. For example, I wrote this: http://www.internetmonk.com/archive/psunday-psalms-psalm-2.

          • Thanks for the excellent links Chaplain Mike.

          • That’s just it–the Christian conversation is *not* like the Jewish one, but a lot more doctrinaire. If you don’t profess to believe the right things, most Christians will consider you out of bounds.

          • That’s because in Christianity, unlike most religions, believing is what defines us. Other religions are defined by doing, but a Christian is somebody who believes certain things.

    • Robert F says:

      I hear your criticism, Wexel. Truth be told, I often feel that much of what I’m hearing from others and thinking myself about Christianity is not any kind of news at all, just a lot of words forming a kind of mirage. But what do you believe is the central message of Christianity, Wexel? Do you believe there is one at all? It would be very hard for me to live without the hope and idea of Jesus Christ being somewhere there in the darkness, but I’ve only ever felt him once, maybe twice in my life, and then I wasn’t completely sure it was him. He was so silent, so hard to see clearly. What is the central message, Wexel? Is there one? And do you know what it is? And where do you derive your authority to know and offer your answer?

      • I don’t think that Christianity can be reduced to single, central message. I’m not speaking from any kind of authority, just an observation of the great, diverse mass of Christian tradition, both biblical and later. I guess most Christians just single out whichever aspects resonate with their own ideals. The historical Jesus (insofar as we can know very much about him) lived in a completely different world from us, and anyway, I doubt he was right about everything. As for spiritual experiences like the one you describe, I would have to interpret them as symbols projected from your own unconscious mind. Other people would have other symbols (Buddha, perhaps).

        • Robert F says:

          Most Christians do seem to single out what resonates with their own ideals and experiences; I’ve often thought that there doesn’t seem to be much difference between the way Christians choose their brands of Christianity and the way Hindus choose a household god, and I find this disturbing, because it seems to erase the difference between theism and henotheistic pantheism, and I find pantheism, its embrace of the darkness of what we know as destruction along with the light of form and creation, terrifying and inhuman. In the human face of Jesus, I’m able to just barely discern God in a way that makes my own human life supportable and at home in an otherwise seemingly alien and meaningless existence. This I count as grace and cling to. But I understand what you mean, and it haunts me.

    • To be fair Wexel, this is an excerpt that only begins to unpack the topic as Michael Spencer presents it in his book. It is meant to generate discussion. Perhaps when you see the whole picture it will seem much more like “good news.”

    • It’s not a false prediction if Jesus rose from the dead. It’s possible that we might be dissatisfied, like the zealots, with the fact that it comes about in the manner it does- slowly and with much travail. But there’s no way the disciples in the book of Acts just scratched their heads and realized the Kingdom announcement was a failed enterprise, and so invented something else to take its place. The believed that the King had risen, and that that had vast implications for Judaism, and for how they should view the world around them, and the powers that be. It’s not airy-fairy just because evil men seem to get their way, rather that simply means that the authority of God is not exerted on the top, like the authority of men is. It’s exerted at the margins, and it expels sin and death, and then as it accumulates energy, confronts the top dogs.

      If there are too few examples of this in the visible church, it’s because (like many here have noted) it’s an understanding that has been largely swept under the rug or mischaracterized for a long time.

  12. I think we Christians have done a terrible job at showing or reflecting Christ to the world, the Gospels are avoided because they contradict our theologies and people have no sense of who Jesus was and what he really stood for. As for Wexel’s point, I see how hard it is to see Jesus with all the information at our fingertips, we have a smorgasbord of religious options and that makes it all seem petty. I can only say that studying Jesus life and teaching has changed my life so much, I’m reminded of the Italian poet and director Paolo Pasolini who was gay, Marxist and atheist. He read the gospel of Matthew straight through and it inspired him so much that he made a movie based on it. He remained as ge was as far as I know but jesus was irresistible to him.

    • Hi Robin,

      It has been a privilege for me to be working on Michael Spencer’s book as I have learned so much! It really has introduced me to Jesus that I never knew.

  13. There is some fascinating context to Jesus’ presentation at the synagogue in his home town that reinforces Michael’s take on Luke 4:18. His audience was largely composed of descendants of a third wave of returnees from Babylon who came to live in Galilee only after the Maccabees had reinstituted Jewish rule of the homeland. They came expecting to subdue the gentiles and to see the Messiah revealed in the Zionist mode according to their interpretation of the Prophets. Jesus turned the tables on that view by making intentional edits in his reading of Isaiah …resulting in their rage at him. Jesus was, indeed, announcing that, henceforth, things would be different.

    Looking forward to the book ….

  14. After all the finding your purpose, fulfilling God’s dream for your life, conquering your personal sins and the self help series most people I talk to sum up the gospel in much the way Michael alluded to.
    “sins forgiven, goin’ ta heaven!” Once this ‘truth’ is learned, we jump on the hamster wheel of showing just how grateful we are for going to heaven. In two years we have had one sermon based on a story of Jesus from the gospels and one series on the Sermon on the Mount (which honestly seemed like a self help series). Other wise I keep thinking we are actually just a church based on Paul, everything else is just supporting material.