The Kuyperian Commentary

Politics, Economics, Culture, and Theology with a Biblical Viewpoint

Archive for the tag “Baptism”

Gospel Explosion in the World

By Uri Brito

It appears that God always delights in bringing good news to his children. In whatever season, in whatever phase of human history, God is always actively changing, transforming, re-creating the world by His word. And good news is here. Since the Ascension of our blessed Lord God has taken the few and the humble and transformed them into a multitude. This is the trajectory of the kingdom.

C.Peter Wagner reports that the five gospel hot spots in the world are China, India, Indonesia, Brazil and Nigeria. “Starting with China,” observes Wagner,  the largest nation in the world reports “the greatest national harvest of souls ever recorded in history, beginning in 1976. Although figures differ, I personally am comfortable agreeing with those who claim that 10 percent of the population is Christian, which would mean that there are around 140 million Christians in that country.” The numbers are staggering. The fields are being harvested.

KC contributor, Thomas Kidd, pointed me to a Christianity Today article detailing how despite persecution, the Iranian church marches on. Claiming 0.5% of Christians, the church has not given in to the political dark forces. Melissa Stefan observes:

Yet, there are two bright lights for Christians in the otherwise-dark Iranian context: Elam Ministries reported in its Summer 2013 magazine that 246 Iranian Christians were baptized on April 17—”probably the largest baptism service on record in the Iranian church since the fourth century.” In addition, Iran’s underground house churches—where freedom to attend Persian-language worship services is more likely to be found—do appear to be growing.

The Gospel presses on. After darkness, light.

Uri Brito is the Senior Pastor of Providence Church in Pensacola, Fl.

Sex, Magic, Power, and Christ

by Luke A Welch

800px-Veronese,_The_Marriage_at_Cana_(1563)

The Marriage at Cana, Veronese, (1563)

God created the world full of magic. He used his own divine magic to make men and women who would imitate him with glorious human magic. And God said it was very good.

He told them to fill the world with his glory, to be one flesh, to be fruitful and to multiply, to conquer the land with his power. And all along he had a plan that their obedience would, by image, preach the picture of his own union with humanity, his own son coming to conquer and be one with his creation. Glory. And divine magic.

Magic is a word in need of conquest. It’s a great word. A word for people who like Lewis and Tolkien. A word for people who treasure wonder and who long for great, out of nowhere surprises. The problem is that there are some very specific and awful actions, forbidden by God that take up some of the real estate of the word magic. When I say magic, I am not talking about these things. I am not describing communion with demons, or the usurpation and manipulation of spiritual power. What I AM describing is the wonder and surprise at watching God do mysterious and powerful things. When you are a child, and the world is full of wonder, as it should be, you think of magic in this way. And that is what I am unwilling to give up. I intend to grow the land of real magic and crowd out the perverse. That’s how dominion works, and that’s what we should do even in language. So, you see, I am saying: don’t freak out if you see the “m” word.

And now for my next trick:

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That Your Joy May Be Full: Celebrating the Ascension of our Lord

By Uri Brito

The Church celebrates the Ascension of our Lord this Thursday. Since many Protestant churches find it difficult to gather parishioners for a Thursday service, many of them celebrate Ascension on Sunday.

The Ascension of Jesus is barely mentioned in the evangelical vocabulary. We make room for his birth, death, and resurrection, but we tend to put a period where God puts a comma.

If the resurrection was the beginning of Jesus’ enthronement, then the ascension is the establishment of his enthronement. The Ascension activates Christ’s victory in history. The Great Commission is only relevant because of the Ascension. Without the Ascension the call to baptize and disciple would be meaningless. It is on the basis of Jesus’ enthronement at the right-hand of the Father, that we image-bearers can de-throne rulers through the power and authority of our Great Ruler, Jesus Christ.

The Ascension then is a joyful event, because it is the genesis of the Church’s triumph over the world. Further, it defines us as a people of glory and power, not of weakness and shame. As Jesus is ascended, we too enter into his ascension glory (Col. 3:1) This glory exhorts us to embrace full joy. As Alexander Schmemann once wrote:

“The Church was victorious over the world through joy…and she will lose the world when she loses its joy… Of all accusations against Christians, the most terrible one was uttered by Nietzsche when he said that Christians had no joy.”[1]

But this joy is given to us by a bodily Lord.

We know that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father. He is ruling and reigning from his heavenly throne. He has given the Father the kingdom, and now he is preserving, progressing, and perfecting his kingdom. He is bringing all things under subjection.

We know that when he was raised from the dead, Jesus was raised bodily. But Gnostic thinking would have us assume that since Jesus is in heaven he longer needs a physical body. But the same Father who raised Jesus physically, also has his Son sitting beside him in a physical body.  As one author observed:

Jesus has gone before us in a way we may follow through the Holy Spirit whom he has sent, because the way is in his flesh, in his humanity.[1]

Our Lord is in his incarnation body at the right hand of the Father. This has all sorts of implications for us in worship. We are worshipping a God/Man; one who descended in human flesh and who ascended in human flesh. He is not a disembodied spirit. He is truly God and truly man.

As we consider and celebrate the Ascension of our blessed Lord, remember that you are worshiping the One who understands your needs, because he has a body just like you; he understands your joy because he has a body just like you.

[1] Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World. Paraphrased

[2] Gerrit Dawson, see http://apologus.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/ascension-and-jesus-humanity/

Uri Brito is a pastor and blogger. He treasures earthly life, but dwells in the heavenly places.

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