Does God have One People or Two?

IsraelIs the nation of Israel still relevant today to believers in Jesus? Do those who are ethnic Jews have any place in the plans and purposes of God if they do not believe in Jesus? And what about the land of Israel — I cannot think of a more controversial piece of real estate on the planet — yet does Jerusalem and the land of Israel hold any special place in the heart of God that is different from Tallahassee or Peru? I believe the answers to these questions are important to the heart of God and they are not academic. I also believe the answers to these questions have direct impact upon the lives of Jews and Arabs in the land of Israel therefore they are truly not academic, however in answering the question I want to beg your forgiveness as I must get a little academic to begin with.

Did you grow up Dispensational - always afraid you would be Left Behind?

Did you grow up Dispensational – always afraid you would be Left Behind?

For the last hundred years in North America two very vocal hermeneutical positions have held sway in the church and both have come to different conclusions concerning the place of Israel. The Dispensational position has been supported by the likes of Dallas Theological Seminary, the Assemblies of God, TBN and the Left Behind series – a strong proponent of this position today would be John Hagee. This position has supported the political nation of Israel almost without criticism, the theological position of this group is that God has TWO peoples: Israel and the Church.

According to the traditional Dispensational position God made promises to Israel in the Old Testament which still apply today, however the Church is a different people that began on the day of Pentecost (some even see the birth of the Church taking place in Acts 8 or even 10 – when Gentiles are grafted in). The church will be whisked away by a secret rapture according to this view before an event called the Tribulation while Israel unfortunately will have to go through the great trouble coming to the earth. The extremes of this view, which most Dispensationals eschew, but which most of the opponents will say that this view leads to is “Dual Covenantism”, this essentially means that there are two ways of salvation. Christians are saved through the sacrifice of Jesus, whereas Jews are saved by virtue of their chosen status through the Abrahamic Covenant. I am of course generalizing here, but this means that Dispensational groups will visit Israel en masse, but will often be hesitant to support any form of evangelism to Jewish people.

New Reformed? You probably are influenced by Covenant Theology

New Reformed? You probably are influenced by Covenant Theology

The other hermeneutical position that has been very popular and vocal in recent years has been Covenant Theology. This position has been largely formed and adopted by the Reformed wing of the church – think Presbyterians, many Baptists etc. It holds that there are two (and oftentimes three) covenants that God made (although not explicit and not to be confused with the explicit covenants of Abraham, Moses, David etc). The “Covenant of Works” was the covenant made between God and Adam promising life for obedience and death for disobedience. The “Covenant of Grace” was subsequently made after the Fall of Man – where life is promised to all who put their faith in Jesus. An additional Covenant of Redemption is often added to this framework, which is a covenant made between God the Father and God the Son about the way that the redemption of humanity would come about through the death of the Son. Humanity has therefore related to God since the Fall of Man according to this schema under the Covenant of Grace.

Under this position the church is simply a continuation of the people or assembly of God found during Old Testament times. The “qahal” of Israel is the beginning of the “church” in Old Testament times, then because of the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus the qahal or ekklesia of God’s people is now Jew and Gentile – one new man in Christ. There is not two people of God, there is clearly one. The extremes with this position is that there is no longer any significance for Jews or the land of Israel because the ekklesia of God and Israel are synonymous and the chosen people are now the church and in such way the ekklesia has “replaced” the blessings that were previously promised to ethnic Israel who had been given the land of Israel as an eternal inheritance. While those who hold dispensationalism do not like being daubed with the “Dual Covenant” brush, likewise those who hold to Covenant Theology will try to evade the “Replacement Theology” tag.

Confused yet? Does God have one people or two? At the heart of much theology is paradox and it is important that we don’t come down too heavily on one side for if we do we will only get part of the story and while this isn’t really paradox it does need nuance. For I believe the answer to the one or two people question is “both”. But you can’t have it both ways I hear you respond impatiently it logically has to be one or the other. Let me respond first by saying what I do not believe about the two people arguments of some dispensationalists. There is only one way of salvation through the blood of the Jewish Messiah. There are not two ways of salvation, furthermore I don’t believe that the “church” will be whisked away for the tribulation leaving the second people of God – the Jews on the earth. There is only one new man in Christ that will be ultimately saved. There is only one people of God ultimately.

However as I read both the Old and the New Testament I am convinced that the “church” (I actually hate our English word “church” and the historical baggage it brings, but that is a rant for another time) was hidden from ages past and was only really “revealed” in the first century after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. This initial gathering was nearly entirely Jewish in nature, and reflected something that has always been true in the history of Israel – the elect in Israel are always a remnant of the faithful (which is why we find Hebrews from the Exodus dying in the wilderness through unbelief). As time went on more and more Gentiles were grafted into the Ekklesia, however I do still believe that the entirety of the ethnic Jewish nation (including currently unbelieving Jews) is what most of the references to Israel were made in the New Testament. With this being the case although I hold to one people of God, there is still a truth that there are promises made to unsaved ethnic Jews, which are different to unsaved ethnic Peruvians.

israel_treeThe picture Paul paints for us in Romans 11 is instructive. He is giving an analogy about a tree – how many trees does Paul talk about? It is possible to answer the main answer is that there is one tree, however the answer has to be a little more nuanced than that. The analogy begins with a natural olive tree that represents ethnic Israel. This is a chosen tree. This is a tree that is actually “holy” in terms of it being chosen and separated for God’s purposes – this is not the case for the wild branches that will be grafted in subsequently – prior to their grafting in they are not to be considered “holy” or “chosen”. The analogy finishes with another tree – it is a hybrid tree, it is not a completely natural tree. This hybrid tree is ultimately the tree that will be saved. The one new man in Christ.

If we apply this analogy to the “unsaved Jew” and the “unsaved Gentile”, it is clear we see there are differences. The unsaved Jew is chosen until he rejects the salvation that is offered through the blood of Jesus. The unsaved Gentile is not chosen until he accepts the salvation found through Jesus Christ. There is therefore a truth to the fact that God has chosen both the natural and the hybrid tree – although ultimately (and eternally) it is only the hybrid tree that will enjoy the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant. The blessings of this include the land of Israel which I have not mentioned hitherto now, yet the land is a hugely important component of the blessing of all the covenants of God and will ultimately be fulfilled by the Son of God returning to earth and ruling from Jerusalem. Therefore both the unsaved Jew is still “chosen” in one sense and the land of Israel is also still chosen and it is important for those of us who are grafted into this hybrid tree to never forget. Israel is important in the heart of God and for that reason must be important to us.

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Act of Killing and the Judeo-Christian Heritage we should not despise

Act of KillingThe Act of Killing is a hard to watch, thought provoking 2012 documentary which won Best Documentary at the 2014 Bafta Awards. It follows certain Indonesian ‘death-squad’ leaders from the 1965-66 purge which saw 500,000 killed in the space of a year. The documentary makers follow these guys as they chillingly re-enact some of their heinous crimes. As I said it is not an enjoyable watch. It becomes somewhat surreal in places, as they are trying to create a “movie” of these recreations. These “gangsters” as they are called are still somewhat revered by the authorities in Indonesia today. It made me think it would almost be like meeting up with ex-Nazi’s in South America and filming them re-enact some of their crimes – not for the faint of heart, but certainly thought provoking.

The reason it got me thinking was due to a comment by one of these murdering “gangsters” who questioned the standards by which society judges such crimes. He essentially said he cared little for the Geneva Conventions – tomorrow it might be the Jakarta Convention. He said it was the “winners” who enforced such standards. This made me think about some of the discoveries that were made in the making of the Nefarious Documentary. When the team went to South East Asia, it found that in some of the countries the practice of selling daughters into sex slavery was not only prevalent, but it was to a large extent an accepted part of the culture. When it is ingrained into a society that accepts these positions as Karma, and nobody even questions such behaviour as “wrong” it becomes very difficult to break rings of violence and evil.

Which brings us back to the Geneva Conventions and indeed much of what we consider to be right and wrong in Western Culture. Much of these standards owe much to the Judeo-Christian heritage that has prevailed in Europe for nearly the past millennia and in North America for the past 300-400 years. That is not to say that these places have been free from mass abuses of power and massive tyranny at times. But the basis for right, wrong, mercy and forgiveness, were largely set by the assumptions of this heritage. We actually have much to be thankful for. It is these standards that informed things like the Geneva Convention. Although I believe many of these standards come ultimately from God, there is nothing to stop us from rejecting this heritage and dispensing with these standards over time. However I think that as I ponder the lessons from South East Asia in these two documentaries, dispensing with objective truth and such Christian values does not bode well for our society.

Posted in In the News | Leave a comment

My Top Ten Book List

So I love reading. I can’t really pick one book that is my favorite. However I thought I would write a blog about my top ten books. Yet even as I start this I am breaking the rules. In nearly all of them I have picked an author, rather than a book. If I find a good author I tend to read nearly everything that they have written. Another disclaimer I need to make – this is a top ten, but I can’t in good conscience say that they are in order of preference, because I don’t really have a number one book of all time (excepting the Bible of course), but at least I’ve made an attempt –  here goes:

unlocking-the-bible10. Unlocking the Bible by David Pawson

I recommend all Christians to have this on their bookshelf. I obviously have an enormous spiritual debt to David Pawson, I would put him as one of the formative spiritual fathers that have shaped my theology. If you can’t afford the book go to davidpawson.org and listen to David teach – you won’t regret it.

Tipping Point

           9. Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell

Malcolm Gladwell is a fine and exceedingly interesting writer. Although I have to admit, I kind of like popular psychology (which Gladwell revels in). I have read all his books and many of his New Yorker articles. If you haven’t read him, get one of his books. The Tipping Point is a good starting place.

peace-child

8. Peace Child by Don Richardson

I grew up reading old biographies of the Wesley’s, Edwards, Finney’s etc and missionary biographies. I’m reading a great one at the moment entitled The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken. I encourage anyone to have their faith stirred by such missionary tales. Peace Child is fairly old now, but the tale of a missions effort to a tribe of cannibals was truly compelling.

Advantage

7. The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

I am a bit of a sucker for business management books, from the Seven Habits to Getting Things Done (which I would highly recommend). In this genre Patrick Lencioni is my new favorite and The Advantage is the new book which combines much of his older teaching on organizational health which is                                                   a must read.

till we have faces

6. Till We Have Faces by C.S.Lewis

I have loved C.S. Lewis since I was a child saving up pocket money to buy the next installment of Narnia, then in my teenage years reading through many of Lewis’s Christian books. I could have included Mere Christianity here, Screwtape or the Space Trilogy, but I have always had a soft spot for this myth retold – Till We Have Faces. I might also squeeze in Lord of the Rings by Tolkien on this entry, but that seems like something of  a cheat.

Apostolic Foundations

 5. Apostolic Foundations by Art Katz

I met Art Katz a few times when he came to IHOPKC. I found his messages meaty. But I have to say his writing needs to be read and then read again. Apostolic Foundations is a classic.

 

 

 

tale of three kings 4. Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards

A made up story by Gene Edwards about King David’s approach to Saul and Absalom. A study in brokenness and humility. I loved this book as well as some of Edwards other books like the Divine Romance however there are some books which Edwards has written, which I would not recommend as they come off angry and unhelpful.

Moments

3. Moments with the Savior by Ken Gire

This is a beautifully written book, as are some of the other titles by Gire which are well worth getting like Windows of the Soul and The Reflective Life. This one simply focuses on Jesus.

 

 

Passion for Jesus

2.  Passion for Jesus by Mike Bickle

This is another spiritual indebtedness thing. I have been more impacted by Mike Bickle spiritually than nearly any other man. Mike has several books. The Seven Commitments of a Forerunner is a book which deserves a much bigger readership, however if you are just starting the Mike, Passion for Jesus is a good place to start.

Prodigal God

 1. The Prodigal God by Tim Keller – I love all things Timothy Keller. I would particularly recommend Center Church, The Meaning of Marriage, Reason for God and Counterfeit Gods, however I have read The Prodigal God about 3-4 times in the past year and it is a great overview of the Gospel of Grace.

 

 

So there you have it – the Top Ten. I must make some honorable mentions to John Piper and Desiring God and What Jesus Demands of the World, N.T. Wright, The Heavenly Man and a multitude of History books – but there you have it. Which ones do you like?

If people are interested I could do my top ten history books…. but not sure if that would be as interesting to as many.

 

Posted in Book Review, Personal Updates | 1 Comment

Malaysia Airlines Flight #370, Sensational News and Thinking about Death

Boeing 777 - #370The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been a sensational news story. CNN as well as a number of other news networks have seen their ratings spike due to this story as the (probable) deaths of 227 passengers and 12 crew members of this unfortunate 777 flight which has (probably) crash landed in the South Indian Ocean. The most likely explanation that I have read about the story actually didn’t come through a news outlet but rather from a pilot on social media here

This has got me thinking – why are stories about plane disasters so captivating and so sensational? Tragic deaths are always interesting to the human psyche. Yet these are not the only people to die tragically since the disappearance of this Boeing 777. Most statistics show us that on average 153,000 people die on a daily basis. Of this number 16,000 are children, tragically dying of diseases related to malnutrition. These are averages and speak of general suffering taking place throughout the world, yet statistics generally do not move us emotionally or intrigue us, they just sadden us and make us feel somewhat helpless. This means since the deaths of those on the unfortunate flight, millions of others have died, with most not receiving wall to wall coverage by CNN.

There is something about plane travel that many of us (and most of CNN’s audience) will relate to. Sitting helpless in a metal tube at 35000 feet in the air. I’m sure many who travel run the scenarios of these tragedies through their heads when they travel on a plane. Which means when tragedies like this or 9/11 happen the played out scenarios in our heads are reinforced and the audience is therefore not repelled by the story, but rather intrigued as that scenario could happen to them.

News is inherently self absorbed. It is really only news if it applies to an individual. This was brought forcefully home to me over a decade ago. I had just come from the UK, where Sky News had wall to wall coverage of a missing school girl, who was tragically found murdered. I at the time was visiting Rwanda. We met with the Prime Minister who wanted us to visit the Genocide Memorial that was about to open. A very tragic burial site of 250,000 who died in the genocide of ’94, which saw 1 million murdered in the space of 100 days. As I got back into my military escort afterwards I asked the driver if he had had any family or friends murdered. He almost casually answered that 50 of his family and friends had been killed during the genocide. Each death during this genocide was horrific. I was shocked. How had this genocide not had the same news coverage. The answer is complex – but ultimately comes down to the fact that News is only told if the news agencies think it is applicable to the audience – we are self absorbed.

This might be seen as somewhat of a morbid post, however I do think that thinking about death is healthy. Moses encourages in his Psalm to ask God to help us number our days in order that we might gain a “heart of wisdom”. Other studies of show that thinking about death actually sets your priorities straight and is psychologically healthy. So today you might want to do what I used to do regularly on my home from work – walk through a cemetery! It’s good once and in a while to get a sense of your own mortality and see that you are like grass in comparison to YHWH.

Posted in Bible Stuff, In the News | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

World Vision’s Interesting Actions

ImageIt would have been interesting to have been a fly on the wall at World Vision over the last few days. On Monday they released a statement that they were changing their staff handbook to allow employees who were in same-sex marriages. While at the same time strangely saying this did not mean that they had changed their own definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. It was surely a little naive to think as they said on Monday that they were not picking sides in a debate. Only 48 hours later they released another statement to say that they had made a mistake. Here are their words:

Dear Friends,

Today, the World Vision U.S. board publicly reversed its recent decision to change our employment conduct policy. The board acknowledged they made a mistake and chose to revert to our longstanding conduct policy requiring sexual abstinence for all single employees and faithfulness within the Biblical covenant of marriage between a man and a woman.

We are writing to you our trusted partners and Christian leaders who have come to us in the spirit of Matthew 18 to express your concern in love and conviction. You share our desire to come together in the Body of Christ around our mission to serve the poorest of the poor. We have listened to you and want to say thank you and to humbly ask for your forgiveness.

In our board’s effort to unite around the church’s shared mission to serve the poor in the name of Christ, we failed to be consistent with World Vision U.S.’s commitment to the traditional understanding of Biblical marriage and our own Statement of Faith, which says, “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God.” And we also failed to seek enough counsel from our own Christian partners. As a result, we made a change to our conduct policy that was not consistent with our Statement of Faith and our commitment to the sanctity of marriage.

We are brokenhearted over the pain and confusion we have caused many of our friends, who saw this decision as a reversal of our strong commitment to Biblical authority. We ask that you understand that this was never the board’s intent. We are asking for your continued support. We commit to you that we will continue to listen to the wise counsel of Christian brothers and sisters, and we will reach out to key partners in the weeks ahead.

While World Vision U.S. stands firmly on the biblical view of marriage, we strongly affirm that all people, regardless of their sexual orientation, are created by God and are to be loved and treated with dignity and respect.

Please know that World Vision continues to serve all people in our ministry around the world. We pray that you will continue to join with us in our mission to be “an international partnership of Christians whose mission is to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in working with the poor and oppressed to promote human transformation, seek justice, and bear witness to the good news of the Kingdom of God.

Sincerely in Christ,

Richard Stearns, President Jim Beré, Chairman of the World Vision U.S. Board

There would appear to be some very deep differences of opinion in the board at World Vision for these two statements to come out within a 48 hour period. They MUST have known the first statement would have resulted in the inevitable backlash that it did – surely they considered this? Which makes the second statement in such a short space of time so interesting. I’m sure there have been some pretty intense conversations over the past 48 hours. I’m sure they regret making the first statement.

I can’t help but feel however it is a decision based on expediency rather than principle (I’m sure this is not true for all). But I’m sure the original decision even at these early stages resulted sadly in the loss of much support. At the end of the day many children would lose sponsorship, this whole affair is fairly tragic. I have supported World Vision since a child completing the Sponsored Famines and now as one of the African agencies with a sponsored child. In choosing to help support those in need however I do strongly look at not just the aid that is being provided, but the motivation and message that is being spread. As Gary Skinner from Watoto told me once, “We want to give a cup of cold water in the name of Jesus”. Justice is spread not just with physical redemption, but also spiritual “Jesus centered” redemption and for that to take place we do need a clear view of law, sin, repentance and the substitution of Jesus.

What are your thoughts – do you choose to support an organization purely on physical aid or also because of the message they embody?

Image | Posted on by | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Most Important Rule of Marriage

Aaron and EricaToday I had the joy to marry Aaron Kremer and Erica Mazo.

This short address was directed for them on this happy day, and yet, the challenge remains for all married couples today

Erica and Aaron

Many have heroes who are celebrities – actors, sportsmen and musicians. It is perhaps unsurprising to you – that my heroes are a little different. One such hero was a man of unusual character – an early Church father by the name of Tertullian. And unlike today’s celebrities Tertullian had something rather good to say about the marriage of two Christians

“How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in home, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the faith they practice . . . Nothing divides them either in flesh or in spirit . . . They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another. Side by side they visit God’s church and partake God’s banquet, side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another; they never shun each other’s company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts . . . Seeing this Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present.”

Before me today stand two Christians. Aaron and Erica you both have committed your life to the way of Christ, and so today is a joyous day. A day when you will commit your lives to each other –  A day that you will stand before God, your family and friends – Profess solemn vows and enter into the covenant of marriage.

 It falls to me to give you a charge. My charge is small and my charge is simple but my charge is not easy. It is the same charge that the Apostle John would give in his old age. The old saint would be carried into various Christian fellowships and hoarsely whisper this passionate command. It is the charge that Paul called the “Royal Law”. It is the charge that Jesus gave his disciples as a new commandment  – It is simply this – Love one another. Love one another deeply

 Jesus said it this way A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

But a challenge stands before us today and the challenge is this – what is this love?

 Epithumia

It is not the love spoken of in plays like Romeo and Juliet. The love of most romantic comedies coming from Hollywood today – Boy sees girl over a crowded room – and it is “love at first sight”. The New Testament actually has a name for this. It is  ἐπιθυμία – Epithumia. It means an inordinate desire or lust. You have found the one you are attracted physically, emotionally, intellectually and you have fallen in love. This love of attraction or addiction is in fact not viewed very positively in the Bible. I’m sure as two beautiful young people this was a part of you getting together but – “first sights” are fleeting.  It is hard to determine if you are truly “in love” because emotions are fickle And when you fall in love in such a way it is all too easy to fall out of love. Sadly, many marriages have fallen apart – because of the allure of this idea. But when I say love one another deeply this is not what I mean.   

 Eros

Often when we use the word love or lover in English we mean sexual or erotic love. Popular culture is full of it – “10 ways to become a better lover”. The Greeks had a word for this as well  – Eros. Yet the Bible never used it – because in a Christian marriage sex can never be separated from love – but what do I mean? Sexual union should be a component of every healthy marriage. Your sexual union is for children, but not just for children, It is a physical expression of the spiritual commitment that you make in marriage. As Tim Keller says “Sex is a way of saying, I see all of your imperfections and I am still completely, exclusively, and permanently committed to you.” Sex is a part, an important and enjoyable part – but still only a component of love.

 Philia

Many see love as affection or friendship. Now here we are getting closer. The Bible has a word for this Φιλία – Philia – Brotherly affection or friendship. Again this friendship component must be a component of your marriage. Aaron, Erica must be your best friend, Erica, Aaron must be your best friend. The marriage where husband and wife are not the best of friends is a marriage that needs life support. Friendship is the oxygen you breathe in marriage. For too many, marriage is a place of either weak connection or antagonism. A place that would be exemplified by the story of Lady Nancy Astor, the first female Member of Parliament and her adversary Winston Churchill. She remarked to him one day “Winston, if you were my husband I would put poison in your tea”. Churchill thought for a moment and dryly replied “Madam, if you were my wife, I would drink it!” May your interactions not become poisonous But friendly affection is –  again only part of the story. And again it is not the word that the New Testament uses when it speaks of husbands loving wives and – wives loving husbands. The words that you will use in your vows to each other in just a moment.

 Agape

The word that is used in the New Testament for marital love is Agape. Not once and twice, but repeatedly, again and again. This is not some lowly, base kind of love. This is the highest form of love

This is the love of God.

This love is an outward looking, covenant keeping love. This love is an action, which goes beyond a feeling and is moved by compassion. This love sees someone in need and comes to serve “in sickness and in health” This is the love of 1 Corinthians 13 – you act not on the basis of emotional need or sexual desire – but because of a deep covenantal – reach.

This is the love of Christian fellowship – and – most importantly today it is the love of Christian marriage. When the King James Bible translators came to translate this word agape they used the word charity because it connotes something that is loved despite its worth – They were right. This is a love that looked down and saw us in our need and despite our unworthiness gave the life of the Son of God to die on a cross. This was Agape the highest form of love.

This is the sacrifice you are called to as husband and wife.

I say sacrifice – but if love works as it should it is no sacrifice at all. You are called to love one another deeply within the confines and safety of the covenant that you are about to make.

This is not a consumer contract. In a contract it might take a few months or a few years, but suddenly you wake up one morning and it’s not working anymore. You start to look for an out. In a covenant – you see the flaws of each other  – everyday – they might drive you crazy. But unlike a contract, you’re not looking for the upgrade. Unlike a contract you don’t have to keep marketing yourself. In a covenant you are safe – safe to be vulnerable about your deepest weaknesses In this marriage covenant you have found home because you have promised, and because there is covenantal, sacrificial love on both sides

 And so the challenge will remain every morning and every night – Will you learn to love?I pray you will – And I pray that this will be the start of a wonderful journey.

Posted in Bible Stuff, Personal Updates | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Lessons the Moravians teach us about Prayer and Mission

Moravian_missionAt the back of the prayer room in Kansas City is a scripture quotation by someone we see at IHOPKC as something of a hero – Count Nicolaus Ludwig Von Zinzendorf. The reason being that Zinzendorf led a group of Moravian refugees in a community at a place called Herrnhutt in the 18th Century. They were responsible for a one hundred year prayer meeting and sparking the first wave of the modern missions movement. Books have been written about the Moravians (which I encourage you to read). However for the purposes of this blog I want to highlight three areas where believers today can learn from Zinzendorf and his community of Moravians.

1. Missions begins and ends in prayer – The Moravians are known for their prayer meeting which began as a commitment to “hourly intercessions” which went around the clock, however it is my experience that it is impossible to touch the heart of God in prayer and not touch His heart for mission. I have met in the past year or so with the leaders of some of the top missions agencies on the planet. There has been much talk about the Prayer Movement and the Missions Movement coming together, however when I dug a little deeper I discovered that many of these organizations were birthed from the place of deep and at times continuous intercession.

If you neglect prayer, you neglect the heart of God and you will soon come to neglect the mission of God and simply become a humanitarian aid agency (humanitarian work is not wrong, it is just I believe as a Christian if we do not offer the cup of cold water IN THE NAME OF JESUS, we offer false hope and deliver false justice). So mission begins in prayer, but it also leads to prayer. The fundamental purpose of mission is so that man would be reconciled to God so that man can approach God in worship. The end of missions is the nations raising their voice in worship before the throne of God. The Moravians knew this well and we would do well to learn from them

2. Missions is about all of life and not just the spiritual part – We often make an unhelpful dichotomy between sacred and secular. The professional clergy was introduced into the church predominantly in the fourth century as the priesthood as opposed to the laity. Luther came stating that we must recognize the Priesthood of All Believers. We are all priests. While vocational ministry exists, I love a quote by Prof. Cecil Pawson (David Pawson’s father) who said “There is nothing secular but sin”. The Moravians tools this to heart and saw their identity primarily as Christians, missionaries, priests of God, messengers of the gospel, but also were skilled in various vocations. This meant they could travel to the furthest reaches of the globe, practice their skill as a shoe maker, a baker, a tinker etc yet primarily be a missionary. The world needs more believers who will see business as mission, especially if we are to reach the most unreached parts of the earth with the gospel of Jesus.

3. Missions is all about Jesus – The watchword of the Moravians was “That the Lamb would receive the reward of his sufferings”. The Moravians knew the meta-narrative of the gospel well, they knew their part and they knew where they fit into history. This gave them an unshakeable peace, which John Wesley was in awe of in the midst of a gale force storm on the open seas. They knew it was ultimately about the price Jesus paid in his first coming, so that he could have a pure and spotless bride at His second coming. They lived that the Lamb of God would get His inheritance.

Related Resources

A History of 24/7 Prayer – a brief overview I wrote a few years ago

Lord of the Ring – Book about Zinzendorf and the Moravians

False Justice – A book by my friend Stuart Greaves that deals with the issue of humanitarianism without Jesus

Posted in Church History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment