Ephesians on The Church

July 31, 2009

…through the gospel, Gentiles are including with Jews in God’s covenant community (Eph 2:14-16; 3:6). Paul goes on, “[God’s] intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (3:10-11). The Christian community makes God’s wisdom known in the heavenly realms. And that is because we are the beginning of God’s purposes for the whole cosmos. God is going to bring “things in heaven and on earth together under one heard, even Christ” (1:10). “He chose to give us birth through the word of truth,” says James, “that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created” (James 1:18). We [the Church] are the first ray of light breaking into the darkness of a disordered and fractured universe. We are the first sign of a new dawn. the night of Satan’s reign is fading. In C.S. Lewis’  vivid imagery, the snows of the White Witch’s winter are melting in Narnia. The church is an outpost of heaven. We are heaven on earth. John Stott says:

“The ‘mystery’ was not an abstraction. It was taking shape before people’s eyes. And in this new phenomenon, this new multi-racial humanity, the wisdom of God was being displayed. Indeed the coming into existence of the church as a community of saved and reconciled people is at one and the same time a public demonstration of God’s power, grace and wisdom: first of his mighty resurrection power (1:19-2:6), next of his immeasurable grace and kindness (2:7), and now of his manifold wisdom (3:10).

(Total Church, Tim Chester and Steve Timmis, 66-67)

Ideally, evangelism is not something to be undertaken in isolation. Of course, if opportunity presents itself, the gospel word should be spoken clearly and sensitively in conscious dependence upon the Holy Spirit – whenever, wherever, and to whomever. But evangelism is best done out of the context of a gospel community whose corporate life demonstrates the reality of the word that God her life.

Christian community is a vital part of Christian mission. Mission takes place as people see our love for one another. We all know that the gospel is communicated both through the words we say and the lives we live. What Jesus says is that it is the life we live together that counts. Jesus prays that those who believe in the gospel “may be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (John 17:20-23). The world will know that Jesus is the Son of God sent by God to be the Savior of the world through the community of believers. “No one has ever seen God,” says John in his Gospel, “but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, had made him known” (John 1:18). The invisible God is made visible through the Son of God. “No one has ever seen God,” says John again in his first letter, “but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us” (1John 4:12). The invisible God is made visible through the love of the people of God. The life of the Christian community is part of the way by which the gospel is communicated.”

(Total Church, Tim Chester & Steve Timmis, p. 58-59)

We’re Back!

July 27, 2009

Both the summer and short-term Peru teams arrived back in the US today. The team of Aaron Martin, Stephen Archer, Cara Childers, Chris Traffanstedt, Anna Traffanstedt, Abbey Thomas, Andrew Thomas, Nancy Thomas, Charles Murray (Birchwood Baptist), David Price (The Gathering) and Keith McAfee (The Gathering) arrived back in Chattanooga around 4:00 pm. Colby Wilkins and Nick Thornton landed in Atlanta this morning around 8am. Nick will spend some time at home in Douglasville, GA. Pray that God would provide Nick a job and clear direction about his future. Colby will be in Chattanooga this week, reuniting with his fiance Kat, before returning home to Norman, Oklahoma for 2 weeks to take a class. He will then return to Chattanooga (Covenant College) for his final year of classes. Chris and Ashley Robbins arrived this morning and will return to Chattanooga tomorrow.

This past week in Alis was absolutely incredible! There is so much to tell as I reflect on what God has done this summer. Let me first state that we could not have asked for a more competent, God-centered, and gifted summer team. It was a joy to watch Colby, Nick, Chris, Ashley and Melva (Peruvian missionary) in action this past week. God opened a few significant doors this past week. We can’t wait to tell you about His goodness and grace during our time in Alis. Also, be in prayer for The Gathering and Birchwood Baptist as they consider a strategic partnership with us in Peru.

Rarely do men talk about how they ought to prepare themselves [for marriage] — in their study, in their work ethic, in their behavior.  When they do talk about it, they talk a lot about how their wives will have to do this or that.  When this is the case, young men should knock it off and grow up.

(Doug Wilson, Future Men, 170)

I Give You: GOLD!

July 23, 2009

Parents, there’s a big pile of gold with your name on it right here.  A hundred thanks to Justin Taylor for pulling this together and a million thanks to Covenant Life Church for having a vision to disciple families.