Two More Quotes from Ladd

February 24, 2011 at 10:01 pm | Posted in Books and Movies, Devotional thoughts, Theology | Leave a comment

Here are two more wonderful quotes from George Eldon Ladd’s The Gospel of the Kingdom.  Great thoughts to ponder:

Apart from the Gospel of the Kingdom, death is the mighty conqueror before whom we are all helpless.  We can only beat our fists in utter futility against this unyielding and unresponding tomb.  But the Good News is this: death has been defeated; our conqueror has been conquered.  In the face of the power of the Kingdom of God in Christ, death was helpless.  It could not hold him, death has been defeated; life and immortality have been brought to life.  An empty tomb in Jerusalem is proof of it.  This is the Gospel of the Kingdom.   (p.128)

This is a staggering fact. God has entrusted to people like us, redeemed sinners, the responsibility of carrying out the divine purpose in history.  . . .  God has said this about no other group of people.  This Good News of the Kingdom of God must be preached, if you please, by the Church in all the world for a witness to all nations.  This is God’s programme.  This means that for the ultimate meaning of modern civilization and the destiny of human history, you and I are more important than the United Nations.  What the Church does with the Gospel has greater significance ultimately than the decisions of the Kremlin.  From the perspective of eternity, the mission of the Church is more important than the march of armies or the actions of the world’s capitals, because it is in the accomplishment of this mission that the divine purpose for human history is accomplished.  No less than this is our mission.  (pp. 134-135)

George Ladd: The Gospel of the Kingdom

February 23, 2011 at 10:04 am | Posted in Books and Movies, Eschatology, Theology | 2 Comments

I’ve been reading George Ladd’s The Gospel of the Kingdom. I was greatly influenced by Ladd’s writing in the past, even though I’d never read one of his books; I’d only read what many others influenced by him had written.  When I saw a blog, on the Desiring God website I believe, listing the most influential books each person on their staff had read, I noticed this one listed by a few different people.  Soon after that, I came across a copy and decided it must be time to read it for myself.  This short book is a great summary of Ladd’s Kingdom theology.

Reading The Gospel of the Kingdom reminded me of my seminary days when I first thought through these matters for myself.  I had been raised in a Dispensational school of thought, but Ladd’s theology told an entirely different story about scripture that just seemed to make so much more sense than what I’d seen before.  His description of God’s Kingdom and its relationship to the Church and the nation of Israel drew my attention and my vote when it came time for a position paper on these matters.  That position has grown into my own conviction with over 20 years of biblical study and expository preaching since.

Ladd’s view is so simple and so elegant.  He defines the Kingdom of God and covers many scriptures dealing with the Kingdom, and then comes to these conclusions.  In scripture, kingdom primarily means authority and rule, so God’s Kingdom is his rule in the lives of men.  Those in God’s Kingdom are those in whose lives he reigns supreme – they are his people.  Ladd shows how the Kingdom is not, and was not, Israel, though those in the Kingdom in ages past usually were in Israel.  Then he shows how the Church is not the Kingdom, but those in the Kingdom in this age are in the church.  There is however, only one Kingdom, only one people of God; it works in different ages through different institutions.

This theory has many advantages of Dispensational theology without the weakness and many strengths of Covenant theology without those weaknesses.  If these matters are an interest to you, then you will like this book.  Simple but full of solid truth.

Here are two great quotes from the book:

The Kingdom of God is a miracle.  It is the act of God.  It is supernatural.  Men cannot build the Kingdom; they cannot erect it.  The Kingdom of God is the Kingdom of God; it is God’s reign, God’s rule.  God has entrusted the Gospel of the Kingdom to men.  It is our responsibility to proclaim the good news about the Kingdom.  But the actual working of the Kingdom is God’s working. (p.64)

If the righteousness of the Kingdom is a standard which I must attain in my own ability, I stand forever condemned and shut out of the Kingdom of God.  No one, by human merit, can attain the standard of the Sermon on the Mount.  The righteousness which God’s Kingdom demands, God’s Kingdom must give.  It must be of grace or I am lost. (p.93)

Help My Unbelief!

February 10, 2011 at 11:44 am | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Security and Assurance | 5 Comments

Here are two follow up thoughts on my recent article called No Condemnation.

In my Reformation Overview study this week, we discussed the matter of Sola Scriptura, the belief that the Bible is our sole authority in the church and in our Christian lives.  At the end, someone prayed “Lord, open our eyes to the times and the ways which we don’t accept the Bible as our authority.”   Having just had some conversations about assurance and having just written an article about it, it occurred to me that the assurance issue is for many an issue of biblical authority.  Many people who struggle with assurance are really struggling with this foundational matter.  They are counting feelings and perceptions as more authoritative than the truths of God’s Word; they believe how they feel rather than what God says.  Believing what God says is a matter of will, not a matter of feelings.  We must decide to take what God says seriously, regardless of what we feel or what we perceive to the contrary.  God says it, therefore it’s true.  The feelings may or may not follow after, but the truth remains the same.

The second thought should encourage those who struggle with biblical authority over feelings and perceptions.  This morning I read Mark 8 and 9 in my devotions, and one of my favorite unnamed biblical characters appears in the second of those chapters.  He is a father whose son has had a demon since childhood which had “often cast him into fire and into water to destroy him.”  After pleading with Jesus to do something about it, Jesus said, “All things are possible for one who believes.”  The man’s response to that is forever preserved in scripture, I think, for our encouragement.  He says, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  As though he knew he had to believe Jesus, but wasn’t sure he fully believed, he did what all of us must do in that situation, cry out to Jesus for help.  That is true faith.  Often when we struggle with a lack of faith, we somehow think we have to try harder to believe more.  But that action is the very denial of faith.  When you struggle believing, confess it to Jesus and ask him to help your unbelief.

My Thoughts on Village’s 50th Anniversary

February 1, 2011 at 10:12 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

On Sunday Village Baptist in Thornton celebrated her 50th anniversary as a church.  I have been honored to be the preaching pastor there for the last eight and half of those years.  We had a great time together with many former members and former pastors coming to the worship service or the celebration following.  I confess I had a fun day.  That is a confession because I wasn’t sure I would.  Let me explain.

Village has had a rough history through parts of that half century.  As one former pastor said, “You’ve taken a lot of hits.”  Two former pastors represented at the celebration left Village under terrible circumstances; as I understand the history, there has been one church split and two major mass exoduses of people.  I have often been introduced to “former members” of Village who come back for funerals or special events, and, even though the long-term members who introduce them to me seem excited to see them, my first thought is a negative one.  I almost view those people as traitors, “If you’re excited to be here, why did you leave in the first place?”  So in my anticipation of the 50th celebration, I prayed that God would make me gracious toward all who come, especially the pastor who split the church.  Notice my wording on that last phrase makes him the bad guy, but that may not be the right view; it’s is simply how I have felt about it and why I prayed to be gracious.  God answered that prayer, and I honestly enjoyed seeing everyone.

As former pastor Sam Watne told me, we can view the past in two ways.  We can see Village as the most influential church in the north metro area, because two mega churches came out of us and there are numerous believers ministering in other churches all over the region, or we can be jealous of the other pastors and angry about what happened.  We need to take the more gracious response.  In spite of the negative things that have happened, God has used them to his glory.  Of course Sam was exactly right.

Village has taken a lot of hits through its fifty years of service, but it is a great testimony to God’s grace that we are still alive and still faithful to the name of Jesus and the Word of God.  That is worthy of celebration.

Thanks to all who came, both current and former members.  And a huge thanks to the committee that did all the work to put the celebration together.

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