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I came across this video through several different sources.  I found it interesting, since intellectual history has always been one of my major interests.

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Understanding the Biblical Teaching about “Ekklesia” (Church)

The English word “church” has a range of meanings that are different from the basic meaning of the Greek word “ekklesia” from which it is translated. The English word can mean 1. a building, 2. an organization, 3. a specific kind of Sunday event, 4. and all believers everywhere. The core meaning of the Greek word “ekklesia” is “gathering” or “assembly.” In the New Testament usage, it refers to any gathering of God’s people for mutual edification and growth through devotion to the apostles teaching, fellowship, prayer, worship and other activities (Acts 2:42). The early church met primarily in homes, but “ekklesia” refers to any “gathering” for mutual edification and growth, whether large or small.

What we learn from this is that biblical “ekklesia-church” is not a building or an organization, or even a specific large gathering on Sunday, but rather any gathering for mutual edification. Thus, small group gatherings in homes for Bible study, prayer and community are “ekklesia-church” just as are large group gatherings in larger spaces.

What are the key elements of Biblical church?

There is wide agreement that Acts 2:42-47 provides a summary of the key elements, marks and priorities of biblical church. Tim Keller and John Stott summarize them in virtually the same way. Tim’s list is the following.

1. Vibrant Worship

2. Intimate, Exciting, Loving Fellowship and Community

3. Teaching With Theological Depth

4. Effective Communication of the Gospel (Evangelism)

5. Compassionate Social Concern

Some Observations About Large and Small Gatherings

The first three elements listed above are primarily the activities of the in-gathered church for mutual edification. The next two elements have to do with the church’s mission in the world.

1. Worship and Prayer

Many feel that vibrant worship is best done in larger gatherings. Large gatherings permit many voices raised in joyful song, and permit a number of musicians to lead the worship. On the other hand, “worship” is not limited to “singing,” and some aspects of worship can be engaged in easily alone or in small group settings.

2. Fellowship/Community/Koinonia

There is a growing consensus that genuine community can only be achieved by means of smaller group gatherings. How do you “bear one another’s’ burdens” in large gatherings? How can you practice the many “one another” commands in the New Testament? During a typical large group gathering, there is virtually no interaction between the participants, and many leave as soon as the service is over. A time for coffee and doughnuts and small talk after the worship service simply does not get at the depth of “shared life together” signified by the word “koinonia” and described more fully throughout the New Testament.

3. Devotion to the Apostles’ Teaching

Many understand this element from Acts 2:42 to be embodied in a Biblical “sermon” at large group gatherings. But the New Testament concept of “devotion to the apostles’ teaching” includes more than just listening to a sermon, especially in our current age. Since the invention of the printing press, believers have had personal access to the Word of God in a way the earliest believers did not. Devotion to the apostle’s teaching can take the form of reading Scripture, studying it, memorizing it, meditating on it, group discussion of the meaning of Biblical texts, discussion of personal and practical life application of Biblical texts, etc. It is obvious that some of these activities are best accomplished alone, or in a small group setting. The phrase “devotion to the apostles’ teaching” also carries with it the sense of faithfully putting the teaching into practice.

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Tim Keller’s 5 clues that point to the existence of God in his book The Reason for God:

Clue 1: The Mysterious Bang — Either God created the universe, or it “just happened” – and both require faith.

Clue 2: The Cosmic Welcome Mat — This clue is also called the anthropic principle (or fine-tuning argument), which recognizes that humans could not exist in any other universe than this one. If any of this universe’s constants were different, we would not be around to observe them.

Clue 3: The Regularity of Nature — Continued regularity is a matter of faith. There is nothing guaranteeing the universe will be here tomorrow, or that it will operate according to all the cycles we’ve been observing throughout the years, with all its laws.

Clue 4: The Clue of Beauty — “We may, therefore, be secular materialists who believe truth and justice, good and evil, are complete illusions. But in the presence of art or even great natural beauty, our hearts tell us another story. … regardless of the beliefs of our mind about the random meaninglessness of life, before the face of beauty we know better. … Isn’t it true that innate desires correspond to real objects that can satisfy them? … Doesn’t the unfulfillable longing evoked by beauty qualify as an innate desire? We have a longing for joy, love, and beauty that no amount or quality of food, sex, friendship, or success can satisfy. We want something that nothing in this world can fulfill,” (134-135).

Clue 5: We Trust Our Belief-Forming Faculties — The belief that all of our beliefs and values are naturally selected and not to be trusted—is not to be trusted. The fact that we do trust our belief-forming faculties is a clue to God.

This is an excerpt of the summary found in this post.

     

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I am meditating on 1 John 4:7-21 this week.

Perfect loves casts out fear.  The following is the NASB with links to the Greek Lexicon at Crosswalk.com.

 

1Jo 4:16
We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
1Jo 4:17
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world.
1Jo 4:18

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.  

 

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My thoughts on “good fear” and “bad fear” will follow in another post.

The full lectionary for this day is here.

         

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Part 3 from The Voyage of the Dawntreader:

“Then the lion said — but I don’t know if it spoke — You will have to let me undress you. I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

“The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was jut the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.  You know — if you’ve ever picked the scab of a sore place.  It hurts like billy-oh but it is such fun to see it coming away.”

“I know exactly what you mean,” said Edmund.

“Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass, only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. And there was I smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on — and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again. . . .”

 

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Previous posts are here and here.

    

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Part 2 from The Voyage of the Dawntreader:

But the lion told me I must undress first. . . . 

I was just going to say that I couldn’t undress because I hadn’t any clothes on when I suddenly thought that dragons are snaky sort of things and snakes can cast their skins.  Oh, of course, thought I, that’s what the lion means.  So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully, like it does after an illness, or as if I was a banana. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as they had been before. Oh, that’s all right, said I, it only means I had another smaller suit on underneath the first one, and I’ll have to get out of it too. So I scratched and tore again and this under skin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped and left it lying beside the other one and went down to the well for my bathe.

Well, exactly the same thing happened again. And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off? For I was longing to bathe my leg. So I scratched away for the third time and got off a third skin, just like the two others, and stepped out of it. But as soon as I looked at myself in the water I knew it had been no good. . . .

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This is the first part of my notes and thoughts on Tim Keller’s message The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World.  Minute markers are in red. 

Tim Keller
The Sufficiency of Christ and the Gospel in a Postmodern World

0:00

Intro by John Piper

3:00 

How do we do evangelism in a postmodern world?  The postmodern world presents a crisis to us.

Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones talks about Mark 9.  Jesus sees the disciples who could not cast out a demon.  In vv 28-29 the disciples ask, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?”  Answer:  “This kind only comes out by prayer.”

The demon is in too deep.  You are business as usual.  Your ordinary way of doing things won’t work.

The Doctor is allegorizing here.  The disciples are like the church.  The boy is like the contemporary world.

6:00  In earlier days people were apathetic.  They needed to be roused from their slumber and apathy.  The spirit of this age is different.

The western world is now a mission field.  It is a post-Christian mission field.  It is has been inoculated to Christian message.

Lesslie Newbigin says the same thing.  Most Americans feel that they already know about Christianity, and they think it is bad. 

What won’t work anymore is a campaign, a program, a gospel presentation.

9:00  A great book, The Barbarian Conversion, by Richard Fletcher.  Looks at 500 to 1500 AD in Europe.  Most of the countryside was pagan.  It took a long time for people to get the full Christian worldview.  But after 1500, most Europeans had a Christian worldview, and programs and campaigns worked.

Now we are back to the point at which the Christian worldview is no longer accepted.  Ordinary evangelism will not work.

There are still sections of America where there are people who are what Flannery O’Conner would call “Christ-haunted” people.  They are traditional in their values.  They just need to be roused.

14:00  Michael Wolf –  There is a fundamental schism in American life.  Urban-oriented, morally relativist, etc.  and the small town traditional,  etc.  Two nations.  There are fewer people who are Christ-haunted.

Certain evangelistic magic bullets have died on the vine.  Billy Graham crusades- no one thinks that’s the future.  Evangelism Explosion worked well then, but not now. 

16:40  1990’s used the seeker services.  Too early to say that’s over, but 20-somethings are turning away from the traditional church services.

Alpha courses are the new best format.  They are right for our time.  But even this is not enough anymore.

18:00  There is going to have to be a complete transformation of everything by the gospel.  The gospel has to recapture us, or nothing will work.  The demon is in too deep.

Now in a postmodern setting, our traditional evangelism is even less effective, because you have 3 problems:
1.  The truth problem – all truth claims are perceived as constraints and power plays.
2.  The guilt problem – not everyone has the sense that they need to be good.
3.  The meaning problem – there is a doubt that text and words can get meaning across.  Meanings are unstable.

 

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My Comments:

Interesting that Lloyd-Jones allegorizes from Mark 9 instead of using a text that directly supports the points.  eg 1 Pet 3:15, or becoming all things to all men.

Not everyone has a postmodern worldview.  Many people have a jumbled mess of a worldview.  This is hitting on good points, but the approach has to be crafted to the woldview of the specific individual.  Also, we have to listen to people and understand them to know what approach is appropriate.

Guilt problem- many have no guilt problem (they feel lots of guilt), or they feel the church is the guilt problem.  We need to break down stereotypes of the church.

     

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