You Must Have 1000 Points to Enter Heaven

This is adapted from Tullian Tchividjian’s blog. The whole blog is here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/2011/09/26/mercy-always-comes-running-2/

[I know that illustrations always break down at some level, but I still think the following one makes a good (albeit, not perfect) point.

A friend of mine recently told a silly story about a man standing at the gates of heaven waiting to be admitted. To the man’s utter shock, Peter said, “You have to have earned a thousands points to be admitted to heaven. What have you done to earn your points?”

“I’ve never heard that before, but I think I’ll do alright. I was raised in a Christian home and have always been a part of the church. I have Sunday school attendance pins that go down the floor. I went to a Christian college and graduate school and have probably led hundreds of people to Christ. I’m now an elder in my church and am quite supportive of what the people of God do. I have three children, two boys and a girl. My oldest boy is a pastor and the younger is a staff person with a ministry to the poor. My daughter and her husband are missionaries. I have always tithed and am now giving well over 30% of my income to God’s work. I’m a bank executive and work with the poor in our city trying to get low income mortgages.”

“How am I doing so far”, he asked Peter.

“That’s one point,” Peter said. “What else have you done?”

“Good Lord…have mercy!” the man said in frustration.

“That’s it!” Peter said. “Welcome home.”

My friend who used this silly illustration ended it by saying, “Teach the law. The Psalmist called it perfect. Teach it until people recognize their inability to keep it and cry out for mercy. Mercy always comes running.”]

Tullian was careful and correct in saying that this type of illustration “always break down at some level.” For example, Peter is not at the heaven gate judging who may come in. And the fact that crying for God’s mercy at the heaven gate is always too late. We should do it while we are still alive.

The reason why this kind of illustration works to certain extend: it puts us in a scenario where there is no other options. You are dead. You are at the heaven gate. The reality check is: can I pass through the gate to heaven, if not, where am I going, hell?

What should we say to those who don’t believe heaven and hell exist?

10 Characteristics of a Missional Church

Scott Thomas, director of Acts 29 Network, wrote this topic in 2009. I summarized it and added a few things to make it more relate to us; I omitted a few things in order not to offend other people.

A missional church is:
1. Every Christian is committed to the authoritative, infallible, inerrant, inspired Scriptures. The Bible is to guide the missional church toward understanding the person and work of Jesus.

2. Understands the centrality of the gospel in all aspects of a person’s life. Being gospel-centred means being both Bible-centred and mission-centred.

3. Sent by God as missionaries in their own culture & to make disciples of all nations; not just supportive of mission works and send money to missionaries. We all go as a missionary into the world.

4. Boldly and intentionally promotes the gospel through church planting globally, collaborative expressions of mercy and generosity; not just focus on our own grow in numbers.

5. Dependent upon Holy Spirit to use individual as agents for evangelizing; not just “bringing people to the church”, and don’t rely on big attractional events as its main tool for evangelization.

6. Relationships and sacrificial love are the expressions to others in their journey toward faith.

7. The goal is to help others find Jesus in their own way and timing. It is not to increase attendance; it is not just a number of how many people “making a decision”; it is not how many getting baptised and become members.

8. Participants are affected in every way through a calling for God to be agent for the gospel. It is not conformity to certain man-made rules through guilt and pressure.

9. Practices its faith in community — groups of people together. It seeks to participate in true community like our triune Godhead. It is not faith within church building or during fellowship period. It is a faith being practiced in a wider community.

10. Worships God in an authentic, personal and evangelistic way. It is like the encounter of the Samaritan woman everyday. Worship is not ritualistic. It is not simply every Sunday 10:15 to 11:30am. It is 24/7. So, who do you worship from Mon to Sat?

Being SIMPLE & MISSIONAL is not rocket science, it is simply biblical.

Pastor Vincent (27 Nov 2011)

Pray for Dave

A few months ago, I shared at ESM about a Christian brother called Dave who has been battling with same-sex attraction all his life. Although having this immense personal struggle, he is otherwise much alike many other ordinary American Christians who loves the Lord. He serves in the worship team at his church and attends a Bible seminary for theological training.

A few days ago I caught up with Dave over Twitter and told me that he’s been recently going out on regular dates with a female friend. Being very happy for him, I curiously asked if going out with a girl would help him with his orientation. Sadly however, he replied that his “orientation isn’t changing”. But he was hoping that a door would be kept open if there would ever be a day his homosexuality would go away.

So he has sincerely asked for prayer regarding this. So I’m imploring you to pray for Dave.

Exam Time! *yikes*

It’s that time of the year again… exams! For me, my New Testament exam is happening next Thursday evening (and I really really need to study!!)

I’ve just compiled a list of exam questions from past papers. See if you can answer some of these questions from the 2009 past paper without having attended my course (yes it’s possible!)

Time allowed: 2.5 hours. Answer 4 questions… 2 from Part A and 2 from Part B.

Part A – 
  • What is the purpose of Acts 21-28 in the narrative of Acts?
  • How does the speech and stoning of Stephen in Acts 7 relate to what comes before and what follows in the narrative of Acts?
  • Discuss the significance of Paul’s speech to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20 for an understanding of Paul’s ministry in Acts as a model industry
  • C.F.D Moule has argued that Acts teaches and “absentee Christology” in which Jesus is exalted but temporarily “absent”. Do you agree?
  • Some have suggested the spread of the word is the main theme of Acts. Do you agree?
Part B –
  • How does Hagar and Sarah allegory contribute to Paul’s argument in Galatians?
  • Ephesians explains “the universal significance of God’s salvivic act in Christ” (Achtemeier). What are the universal consequences of Christ’s work on the cross, as outlined by Paul in the letter?
  • What does 1 John teach about the person and work of Christ?
  • “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1) How does Paul argue for, and apply, this distinction in the course of his letter to the Corinthian Christians?
  • Is Revelation’s relevance more for its 1st century readers, or for Christians in later times? Explain your answer from the text of Revelation.

 

Top 10 reasons why Aussies don’t become Christians

According to a new survey of 1094 Australians by Olive Tree Media, here are the top 10 reasons why they don’t want to become Christians.

  1. Church abuse
  2. Hypocrisy
  3. Judging others
  4. Religious wars
  5. Suffering
  6. Issues around money
  7. Church being outdated
  8. Hell and condemnation
  9. Homosexuality
  10. Exclusivity
What do you think about this list? Are you ready/equipped to respond to the people who question you about these issues?

Romans in Tweets

A summary of the book of Romans in 83 tweets? John Dickson, you genius! :)

Here’s an excerpt:

1. #ReadRomans B’ground 1. Acts22:1-23 Paul’s call to bring light to all nations is central to Rom & gave the West its universal egalitarianism

2. #ReadRomans B’ground 2. Paul dictates Rom to his scribe Tertius while in Corinth around AD57 after 25yrs taking gospel to nations/gentiles

3. #ReadRomans B’ground 3. Central controversial question of 1st c. Xity: On what basis is God’s grace available to nations? Rom answers that.

4. #ReadRomans B’ground 4. Many criticised Paul for his universal egalitarianism. Rom defends his view against such deceivers (cf 3:8, 16:17)

5. #ReadRomans 1:1-7 He begins this letter to a church he’s never visited with a statement (creed) of their ultimate common-ground: the gospel.

6. #ReadRomans 1:1-7 Note the ‘bookend’ summary of the gospel: Davidic birth + resurrection over all, ie the story in the Gospels. Cf 2 Tim 2:8

7. #ReadRomans 1:1-7 Is the gospel (news of Jesus from birth > exaltation), rather than some peripheral, the basis of my fellowship with Xians?

Read the whole thing here – 83 tweets about Romans:
http://publicchristianity.org/library/read-romans

(Sorry, I’ve been posting a lot of John Dickson lately!)