Thursday, October 23, 2008

Justice I

Lord, there is evil.

There is evil done against me in so many ways.
Some would say they are little things:
The unkind, unfair judgment;
The stealing of a few dollars;
The brief threat of violence;
The disinterest of those who have claimed to care;
To me, these are major events
that shape my life and my conscience.

Lord, bring your justice:
true justice.
I ask not that you destroy the evildoers,
Nor do I bring down curses upon their children.
Although it is difficult to say, I ask:
Father, forgive them
For they know not what they do.
Don't forgive them out of some invented complacency
Nor from an all-encompassing mercy that is not of you.
Rather, I pray that you shape them,
reform them to be forgivable.
Create justice in their hearts, Lord.
Soften them to be merciful;
Color in them your humility;
Let them walk in the path of your trust.

As I was once one of them—
A liar,
A cheat,
A thief,
A hater,
An immoral person--
and you redeemed me.
Allow them to be as your Son
as your children
as You.
And then, as they forgive those
who do evil against them
May you forgive them of the evil done against me.
Lord, bring your justice:
true justice.

I open up my heart to give my all to you
All in you
All in you.

May your kingdom come.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

New Website

Anawim has a completely new website with a new look and new content.

And, most importantly for this blog, all of the teachings about Jesus and the Anawim are in the teaching section, all illustrated! (That means we put a cool picture next to each of the teachings)

And, heck, if you like the Anawim Bible teachings, you might want to check out the section under poverty, where there are recommendations about how the church can support the homeless and the mentally ill.

You can find it at:

That's "No Where To Lay His Head Dot Org", in case long words give you a headache.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Does Your Church Look Like This?


If not, it should.

The church should be so radically in allignment with Jesus' ways, that the world wants to burn it down.
Posted by Picasa

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Attitudes To Minister To The Outcast

Gentleness (Proverbs 15:1; Matthew 11:28-30; Galatians 6:1-2)
The outcast are typically wrathful, having been oppressed by the evil. Even if they are in sin, they don’t need to be treated with harshness. They know their sin, and if they do not, they need to be informed carefully, not with anger. They are looking for deliverance, they are looking for family. They will not choose to pursue family with those who are harsh or critical. This is not to say that sin should not be spoken of—it is. But it needs to be dealt with kid gloves, not with wrath.

Patience (Psalm 103:8; I Thess. 2:9; II Peter 3:9)
Convictions built up over years do not melt away overnight. It requires much patience and work to show others that God is for them, although the world be against them. The outcast will reject you, will speak evil of you, will mock you and secretly despise you. But over time, the message of the gospel will work in the hearts—even of those who seems least likely to hear it! Labor patiently—literally for years—in order to see the fruit of faith.

We are not to show favoritism between social groups. (James 2:1-8; I Cor. 7:22) We are not to show favoritism between ethnic or cultural groups. (Matthew 8:11-12; Acts 10:34-35) We are not to show favoritism between knowledge of God. (Romans 2:11-13). We are not to show favoritism between sins. (James 2:10) This last is a tricky one. We want to separate some sinners from another because one sin is worse than another. James says that we are condemned by all of them. If we are to offer a benefit or service to one sinner outside of Christ, then why shouldn’t we give it to all of them? Impartiality is essential in ministry to the outcast, for their sense of injustice is strong.

Reliance on God (Matthew 10:9-10)
We, the ministers of the gospel, must be dependent on God. In the New Testament, most ministry is done with total dependence on God, for no one can do miraculous healings or exorcisms of their own power. Even so, we must not depend on our own resources or abilities to minister, but to rely on God and his work.

Surrender (Colossians 1:24; Philippians 2:3)
In ministering to the outcast, we must be ready to sacrifice. The needs are great—greater than we can meet. And more will be demanded of us than we can give. Yes, we do what we can so we can minister, but let us not set arbitrary boundaries around our love. Instead, we should set boundaries so we can love the most people we can. This will mean that care for ourselves might be compromised—but this is what ministry is about. Do what you must to continue to love, and beyond that, give and give.

Ministry To The Outcast

All true ministry has the goal of leading a people to faith in Jesus as Lord and living that out in their lives.

Identification—I Cor. 9:19-23
Some within a congregation that will take on the role of an outcast in order to reach them. Get rid of the separation between the “server” and the “served”.

Offer to be Family—Mark 2:15-17; Luke 15.
Total love of the “sinner”, and an offer to partake in acceptance. This is the major felt need of the outcast—social acceptability. To offer acceptance is not to have the outcast feel that acceptance—this only comes with an acceptance of forgiveness and inclusion in the community. This sense of family cannot be created by a program, but one can use a program as a base-point to increase this acceptance.

Listening—James 1:19
You cannot meet anyone’s needs until you know what they are. Get past the first hurdles in order to discover their real needs (e.g. no one needs money, money is a means to meet the real need)

Trying to meet their needs, but doing so with dependence on God. Those with resources, give what you have (Luke 12:33); those without, pray for healing (Matt 10). To give what we have, may be to offer what God alone has to give, instead of the petty resources we have (Acts 3:1-8).

Deliverance—From Satan, from sin, from death.
This is God’s area, and if we are called to work with the outcast, we are God’s representatives.
A. By prayer. (Mark 9:28-29; Luke 18:1-8). Through prayer, deliverance from oppression can occur.
B. By teaching. (Matthew 28:19-20). Through the teaching of Jesus’ commands, teaching and life there will come understanding of God’s justice and of gaining that justice.
C. By dwelling with (John 1:14; Acts 2:42-47). By living with the outcast and showing them the life of Christ they will gain understanding and the ability to live it out.
D. By suffering for. (John 12:24-27; Colossians 1:24) Through suffering the suffering of Christ the people of God will be redeemed. This is the wake up call, the realization of the atonement in the lives of the people, the life of Christ in the flesh.

Forgiveness— Luke 15; Mark 2:1-12; John 20:23.
This is also a sense of acceptance, like mentioned above, under “family”. But this is different, in that it occurs after regret for sin and repentance is done. This is an acceptance that comes after a wiping away of the debt of sin, and is fuller than a simple offering of acceptance.

Guiding to Commitment—Luke 14:26-27.
Commitment to God as the one true Lord (Matthew 6:24);
Commitment to living according to the righteousness of Jesus (Matthew 7:24-27; John 14:15);
Commitment to Love (Mark 21:29-31);
Commitment to the family of God (Matthew 12:47-50);
Commitment to reaching out to the outcast (Matthew 28:19-20).

Who Are the Outcast?

The context of being outcast
In Matthew 8, Jesus spoke of the “inheritors of the kingdom”, or, those who apparently are in God’s good graces and who will receive the kingdom of God on the last day but who will be cast out. These “inheritors” will not receive the kingdom of God because they do not do God’s will according to the teaching of Jesus. These apparent inheritors have built a structure which has its own laws and rules about who will be included in God’s kingdom apart from God’s righteousness. These are based on the traditions of men, rather than the distinctions that Jesus made.

What does it mean to be outcast?
To be outcast is to be told that you are not a part of the kingdom of God, nor ever will be. You are excluded. Set outside, rejected, separated from, persecuted, laws are made against you, hated, yelled at because of who you are, not what you’ve done. Perhaps you have failed to live up to people’s expectations or have crossed some unknown line. But you are neglected and all “good” people will have nothing to do with you.

Who are the outcast?
In Jesus’ day—tax collectors, women, sinners, prostitutes, Zaccheus, gentiles, lepers, and anyone who associated with Jesus.
In our day—Homeless, illegal immigrants, homosexuals, the poor, drug culture, belong to a cult, and many who follow Jesus strictly and abide by what he says.

What kinds of outcastness is there?
1. Socially—unacceptable because of social reasons (e.g. education, manners, inability to speak English well)

2. Righteousness—unacceptable because of evil done in the past, or done in ignorance

3. False righteousness—unacceptable because of standards of righteousness that were not handed down by God; unacceptable because of assumed guilt

4. Chronic problem—unacceptable because of constant demand to have needs met (e.g. chronic illness, mental illness)

5. —unacceptable because of one’s race, nationality, social group, culture

The outcast and the Anawim
The Anawim are those who are poor or vulnerable or persecuted and they cry out to God for justice. There are three categories of poor, generally, that are used in Scripture:

A. Those who are poor, but unrighteous. They are outcast from the inheritors of the kingdom of God, and it is as it should be. They are suffering injustice, but they are either oppressors of others or are trying to save themselves either by themselves or by a power apart from God. They still receive God’s benefits, such as their basic needs and an offer for salvation, but unless they repent they will not receive the kingdom of God. These poor would be considered outcast from society, but they are not inheritors of the kingdom of God and they are not among the Anawim.

B. The Anawim who cry out to God, but they don’t know how they will be delivered. These are people like Cornelius (Acts 10), Namaan (II Kings 5), and the Canaanite woman (Matthew 15) who are looking to God for salvation, but they don’t know how they will receive salvation. God listens to their cries and brings them a deliverer, which means Jesus. These people are outcast, but they are only potentially inheritors of God’s kingdom.

C. The Anawim in Jesus. These are those who suffer because they are living according to the life and teachings of Jesus. They have surrendered everything, and they are oppressed because they are righteous and they are vulnerable. God will deliver them and give them the kingdom of God. Everyone who is a true follower of Jesus is either part of the Anawim or they stand with the Anawim in their suffering, helping them as they can. These people are outcast from the apparent inheritors of the kingdom of God, but they are the true inheritors.

Should the church outcast anyone?
According to Matthew 18:15-17 and I Corinthians 5-6, the church should be involved in separating those who are entering the kingdom of God from those who do not. While unbelievers should not be excluded from Christian meetings, they should not be allowed to take the Lord’s supper or other signs of believers, nor should believers enter into long term contractual agreements with unbelievers (I Corinthians 10:16-21; II Corinthians 6:14-18) Most importantly, however, those who claim to be right with God but sin continually without repentance will not be able to enter into God’s kingdom, and the church must completely separate themselves from these (I Corinthians 5:9-13). Those who teach in opposition to what Jesus taught should be separated from the true inheritors of the kingdom (II John 7-10).

Those who are not to be outcast
Those who are unbelievers are not to be outcast (I Cor. 5:9-13). Therefore, if believers offer services (this could be a worship service or an act of benevolence) to anyone—believers or unbelievers, they should do everything they can to make them available to everyone, no matter what sin unbelievers are involved in (Matthew 5:43-48).
Those who are in the process of repenting of their sin are not to be outcast from the true kingdom of God—no matter how evil the sin. If you have someone who is repenting from sin, you must forgive them and receive them back into full fellowship. This is true, even if they’ve fallen away many times before. (Matthew 18:21-35)

Thursday, March 6, 2008

What Is Our Future Hope?

During Easter, all Christians throughout the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Although this holiday is specific to believers in Jesus, yet more than half of the people in the world believe in some kind of resurrection. But what is it? Even those who claim a belief in resurrection as it is described in the Bible do not really understand it.

What resurrection is not:
Reincarnation is a soul being transferred to a new life on earth after an old one has passed. In reincarnation, one begins again in a woman’s womb, and is raised as a child over again and dies again. Although in resurrection, one is given another life after death, one is not born over and over again. Rather, Scripture says that one only dies once and after this, they are judged by God (Hebrews 9:27). No one lives another life, they will only have the opportunity to continue the one they began.

A Spiritual state—
Resurrection is not living without a body. While it is true that the Bible teaches that after one dies, one loses the body and the soul lives on, yet this is not resurrection (Philippians 1:21-24; Luke 16:19-23; Psalm 89:48). Perhaps some live in heaven in this intermediate state, but it is not the fulfillment of the promise of God (Revelation 6:9-11). The ideal life is not a spiritual state, but the soul and body united in new life (Psalm 16:10-11; Acts 2:29-32).

What is basic resurrection?
Resurrection is not just life after death as a spirit. Rather it is life after “life after death”. After a period of time living as a soul without a body, then one’s body is renewed. Just as when we are alive we have a body and we are a whole person, even so, after being dead for a while we will be restored to a new life in a revived body. On top of this, the new, revived body is better than it was, for it will never die again, nor get sick.
Everyone who has ever lived will receive a new body like this, and have an opportunity for a new life. However, the state of their life is dependant on how they responded to God while they were alive. On the day in which God resurrects all of mankind, he will judge them all, depending on whether they have been faithful to him or not through his Son Jesus. (Daniel 12:2; John 5:25, 29; Revelation 20:12-13)

What is the resurrection of blessing?
Some, however, will not only receive the “basic resurrection package”—a new immortal body—but they will also gain great blessing from God. Their bodies will be resurrected, not only to a new life, but a body pure from sin and defilement. They will not only life forever, but they will live in a place and in a way that will grant them eternal pleasure and contentment. And they will also gain status and significance after the resurrection that they could never gain while they were alive. These people with new bodies will be living on earth, but earth will be transformed by heaven to be an ideal existence. (I Corinthians 15:40-43; Revelation 21:1-3; Romans 8:18-23; John 5:24; I John 3:2)

How did Jesus get raised?
Up till now, Jesus is the only one on earth to be raised into this new kind of body, and this new kind of life. He is right now at the right hand of the Father, ruling the world with his Father in his new, immortal body. But he didn’t start there. Rather, he started as a man, doing God’s will. God’s command led him to heal the sick and to cast out judgement and to teach the good news that God’s restoration was coming soon. But the leaders of God’s people were threatened by Jesus, and so they had him killed by crucifixion—the most shameful death possible. But God saw Jesus’ faithfulness to him and his willing sacrifice for others—so God raised Jesus from the dead, for he was worthy of all honor. (Philippians 2:5-9; Acts 2:22-24)

How can we gain the blessing of resurrection?
Again, according to the Bible, everyone will be resurrected—whether evil or good. But the evil will be raised into suffering, and those who are faithful to God will be raised to a happy life. How do we gain the joy and not the suffering? We have to live the same life as Jesus—remaining so faithful to God and so believing in God’s promise of resurrection that we would endure anything, even shame and suffering now, in order to gain it. In this way, we will gain eternal life. (Romans 8:16-17; Mark 10:17-30)

But this kind of life is difficult, even impossible to live. But what is impossible for weak humans is more than possible for God. Anyone who devotes themselves to Jesus will receive the Spirit of God who will help one live the life of Jesus and so gain the resurrection of blessing. The way to gain the resurrection is to be faithful to God, like Jesus. The way to gain such faithfulness is to gain the power of God’s Spirit. The way to gain God’s Spirit is to commit oneself to Jesus as Lord. (Mark 10:26-27; Acts 2:38; Romans 8:1-4).

Resurrection is the opportunity for physical bliss.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Theories of Atonement

All atonement theories are ways of explaining the centrality of Jesus’ death in the New Testament. All of the theories explain why Jesus died and how that equates the freedom from sin for those who believe. The best of the theories would: a. Be a “fit” for almost all of the Biblical passages that speak about Jesus’ death and the forgiveness of sins; b. Be a “fit” for the cultures of the New Testament church and c. Be a “fit” for the overall teaching—theological and moral—of all the New Testament writers.

1. Ransom or Christus Victor Theory
Idea: Jesus’ death was a payment to Satan to obtain the nations. Satan had rulership of all the nations because they were under his judgment for rejecting God. God set Satan up to kill Jesus, thus providing the payment of death for judgment, releasing the nations from Satan’s ownership.
Passages used for support: Matthew 5:25-26; Mark 10:45; Colossians 2:12-15; Hebrews 2:14-17
Critiques: Concern that God would allow the torture of an innocent person to be a fair exchange for the death of many guilty; The fact that the New Testament nowhere calls Jesus death a payment to Satan.

2. Satisfaction or Substitution Theory
Idea: Jesus’ death was a payment to God in exchange for the punishment of sinners to satisfy God’s justice.
Passages used for support: Jesus died “for our sins”, with “for” having the implied meaning “in place of” (Isaiah 53; I Corinthians 15:3; Galatians 1:4; I Peter 2:24); Jesus is the “propitiation for our sins” (I John 2:2, 4:10); Jesus’ death fulfilled God’s righteousness (Romans 3:23-26).
Critiques: Concern that God would allow the torture of an innocent person to be a fair exchange for the death of many guilty; The Bible all throughout claims that repentance is sufficient for forgiveness. Both “propitiation” and “died in place of our sins” are more specific translations than are necessary. They could just mean “means of forgiveness” and “died as a result of our sins”.

3. Moral Theory
Idea: Jesus died as an example to us of perfect love.
Passages used for support: I Peter 2:21; Philippians 2
Critique: The example of Jesus’ death is that of humility and suffering for righteousness, not love. Does not deal with how Jesus is the means of forgiveness of sins.

4. Acceptance Theory
Idea: God’s forgiveness is based only on the sovereign decision of God. Jesus died to show us that God has already forgiven us, if we would but accept it.
Passages used for support: Luke 15
Critique: Scripture again and again has repentance and devotion/faith be the basis of God’s forgiveness. (Even in Luke 15)

5. Anawim or Reversal Theory
a. Humanity has surrendered themselves to be ruled by powers instead of God himself, and God rules through the powers who rule through governments, corporations, institutions and families.

When Adam ate of the tree, he surrendered himself to the power of death, to be ruled by it instead of God (Genesis 2-3). All nations are given over to powers in heaven (Deuteronomy 28). Israel gave themselves over to other gods, and so to be enslaved by their nations (Judges). Gentiles surrendered themselves over to other gods, to worship them, and so to be enslaved (Romans 1). The Jews surrendered themselves over to the Law, but because they could not consistently obey it, they were enslaved by it (Romans 3).

b. These powers rule the world through the rule of judgment—that every sin deserves a just punishment.
The law of the powers is that the end of sin is death (Romans 3:23). Anyone who disobeys the law is cursed (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 27-28; Galatians 3:10); Before anyone dies, they are enslaved to sin (Romans 6).

c. Jesus died to prove the injustice of these powers because they are just as willing to punish the innocent as well as the guilty.
Jesus died to prove the elders and priests to be unjust, disobedient rulers of God’s people (Matthew 21); Jesus died to defeat the powers who ruled over us due to our sin (Colossians 2); Jesus’ death takes away the power of the devil over the enslaved (Hebrews 2:14-15); Martyrs’ deaths defeats Satan (Revelation 12:9-11).

d. Given the proof of the injustice of these powers, God sets aside the powers as rulers over people and vindicates Jesus through raising him from the dead and establishes Jesus as ruler of the world at the right hand of God.
God punishes oppressors, whether human or spiritual powers—Psalm 82. The lamb who was slain is worthy of all power (Revelation 5); The one who innocently died God established to rule (Isaiah 52:12-53:14); Jesus humiliated himself as lower than anyone, and so was raised over all (Phil. 2); Jesus established forgiveness of sins and so rules next to God (Hebrews 1:3-4); God raises one on the third day to indicate vindication (Hosea 6:2).

e. Those who accept Jesus as their king are allowed to live under the rule of Jesus, in the utopia of God with God’s spirit.
Believe in Jesus the Lord Messiah (Acts 15; John 17:3; 20:31; Acts 2:36; 16:31; Romans 3:22; 5:1; 10:9; Galatians 2:16)
Baptism is commitment to Jesus as Messiah for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38; 10:48; Romans 6:3-7)
God calls us into a fellowship through Messiah Jesus (I Corinthians 1:9)
Believe in the gospel and be ready for God’s kingdom (Mark 1:15)

f. The law of Jesus gives grace to everyone who repents, no matter how many times they repent.
God forgives those who confess and repent—Psalm 32, 51; Ezekiel 18; Luke 15; Luke 17:3-4; Matthew 18:15-30; Luke 13:1-5; Acts 2:38; I John 1:9.

g. Those who live God’s life and suffer for it under the powers are set up by God to take the ruling place of the powers.
“Those who humble themselves will be raised and those who exalt themselves will be humbled” Matthew 18:4; 23:12; Luke 14:11; 18:14; Jesus death used as example of humility—I Peter 2:21ff; Philippians 2. God raises up the humble and lowers the mighty—I Samuel 2; Psalm 37; Luke 1. The one who suffers unjustly for God will be raised from the dead and experiences God’s utopia—Psalm 22; 37; Matthew 5:3-12; Luke 6:20-23; Philippians 2; Romans 5:3-5, 8:17.

The “Crux” of the matter: We need to commit ourselves to Jesus as our King and Lord through baptism and live according to His law. Those of us who humble ourselves and suffer for Jesus will rule with Him when He returns.