Got I.D.?

Growing up, I used to tell so many lies about myself that I always had to try and remember who I told what so that I wouldn’t get caught. The problem with lying is that it usually always catches up to you and you end up hurting people and having to rebuild trust in people, which can take a long time. I thought I was justified in my lying and would attempt to explain my logic of why it was actually important for people to see a person I attempted to make up rather than who I really was.

I can attempt to justify my lying as an issue of detachment or abandonment by my birth mom who put me up for adoption when she was only 16-years-old. I felt for sure that people wouldn’t accept this kid who knew nothing of his “father” – the guy that raped his birth mom when she was only 15. Who would accept someone who had a story like mine? How could they understand? How could I be me if I really didn’t even know who I was? Lying to people was so much easier. They would never be “big lies” mind you. They would usually consist of things like how I had the new video game or had a big trust fund that I would be able to dip into after I went to college. Young kids have great imaginations and it seemed that mine worked overtime time and time again. As I said – lying catches up with you though and eventually I would be caught and I would lose friends, face new challenges as a loser and a loner all the while wrestling with my faith in God and my identity in this world. I can’t really justify my lying though and I have attempted over the years to rectify relationships and reconcile the truth from the lies and move on. It is a long, hard journey to go on but not working through these things would prove to be even harder. I am still working on them and still at times struggle with lying. I have gotten 1000 times better at being honest though and admitting that I am what you see before you. Take it or leave it. It has taken a long, painful process to get her but I am glad that I have made it this far.

The sad thing is when you give something up – or empty yourself of something that consumed your life – one usually fills it with something quite quick. For me, I seemed to have replaced lying with sarcasm, which I never thought would have negative consequences. I was fine being the guy who made the “off-the-wall” sarcastic statements, which usually had more truth in it than I would care to admit at times. It is a defense mechanism that I continually run to for safety and security. Sarcasm really came to me quite easily. I am good at it, which is not a boast but an honest fact I have come to discover.

I was at church the other day and a girl on our leadership team at church, called me out regarding my sarcasm. “Tim, I want you to know that I think you are way too sarcastic. It bothers me because I think you are a great guy and have a lot of potential to be used of God. I just thought you ought to know that.” Her statement echoed something to that effect and, for the first time, I was hit straight between the eyes with this fact: I am sarcastic. If there was or is a group called, “Sarcasms anonymous,” I should have signed up. “Hi. My name is Tim and I am sarcastic.” Truthfully, I was taken back by her words and was almost upset that she would have called me out like that. This girl doesn’t know me at all. Who on earth did she think she was to call me out on an issue of sarcasm? She knows nothing about my past and what I have dealt with at all. I finally went to my pastor and told him about our conversation. He just smiled and said, “Oh,” my pastor said, “I love when she does that. What an awesome gift.” In disbelief, I retold the story to him, thinking perhaps he misheard something or me but he stopped me halfway through and said, “Isn’t it a great gift? She is really good at sharing those things with people. It really is a gift.” Well I didn’t think it was a gift. I was mad. So I went home and thought about how I could respond to her the next time I saw her, which would be one week from that night – Sunday morning worship.

After thinking a bit about what my pastor said, I began to see what he was saying, though I didn’t want to admit it. The issue of identity for me is difficult. I went to counseling to talk to a specialist about it and found myself trying to be a whole bunch of different people. I didn’t even fully know who the “real” Tim really was at all. I struggled to find out where I was hiding and why I seemed to have found myself somewhere else. When I looked at myself in the mirror, the reflection I saw was not I and that was a big problem.

There is this scene I was reminded of in church the other week. It is from the movie, “Good Will Hunting.” It is that scene where Will and Sean are talking in his office. Sean (Robin Williams) says over and over again, “It’s not your fault.” At first, Will (Matt Damon) blows him off saying, “I know.” Over and over again, Robin Williams says, “It’s not your fault.” Eventually Will embraces Sean and cries. It is a powerful scene. When I watch that scene, I see a man who has been freed and is able to see who he really is. For Will Hunting, it was not his fault. For me, well, that’s another can of worms. For me, I had to come to the realization that I could not change the past. I was the result of a rape and I can’t change that part of who I am. I need to embrace it and allow that to be apart of my story. I don’t have to dwell on it or feel as though people wouldn’t understand. I needed to embrace it. That is something I have been working on now for the past couple of years. It really isn’t easy but I am working on it.

The most important thing I am continually learning is that my identity is found in Christ, as a child of God. I have been bought with a price and know that His blood covers a multitude of sins. Before I was born, I was in the mind of God. The Scriptures says that He knew me before the foundations of the world – before the world was made. If that is the case, and I truly believe that, then I must have been in the mind of God from the beginning. And, for whatever reason that has yet to be fully seen, He has trusted me with a very unique and painful story. What man had intended for evil – the raping of a teenage girl, God intended for good – what I do with the life I have now and how I choose to walk with Him. It isn’t an easy story to embrace but it is my story. I think maybe that is the biggest goal of my life – to embrace the story I have been given and perhaps it will encourage other people to do the same. We all have this story to embrace. The question is: Are we willing to embrace the story God has given us to embrace? Through embracing our stories, I think we can learn who we are and allow that part of our story to shape and mold our future actions and deeds. Then when we look in the mirror we will see ourselves as we truly are. We won’t be confused by the reflections we see looking back at us. Perhaps we wouldn’t have to be so sarcastic or lie all the time either. Perhaps we can be ourselves.

Talking with God

Dear God,

Today I watched as kids from Your church ran around laughing and playing. I heard them singing songs; simple songs that gave You praise. As I sat and listened, I could only think of all the times I used to sing songs like that; when I used to sing songs that were so simple and true.

Make me a kid again Lord. Help me to have the child-like faith that You provide; that You give those who desperately want to believe that You are The Good Father who gives His children good things. I so desperately need to be a child again. I am so tired of trying to prove You to people who would rather argue things like predestination and other theological language we only seem to use in Christian circles. I want to believe You are my Father who loves me and has the best for me without questioning or pondering if You are who You say You are. I can’t pretend anymore to have all the answers because I don’t. I am so ignorant of who You are and need to know that I can be a child once again that crawls into Your arms and falls asleep in Your warm embrace. May this be a prayer that reaches Your ears like a child that repeatedly calls after his father’s attention. Help me to have a child-like faith again so that I can enter Your Kingdom with joy. I love You. I know You have the best intentions for me. So I give You this pray with my first step; with a child-like faith.

Your adopted child,

– Timothy

A Four Post Conclusion and Challenge

I have written two posts on the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) as well as two posts on the Church. I would like to now combine these four posts into one important post; I have been challenged to learn about myself. To do this, I am going to make a list of “If” statements followed by a few short thoughts on the “Then” – our responsibility and how we should then tie it all together. Hopefully this will bring each aspect of these posts together much like a conclusion of a book or an article. I hope it will encourage conversation and questions of your own that will provoke us to be more about the body of Christ rather than attempting to be something we are not.

If…

We believe that the Gospel is an announcement that “Jesus Christ is Lord.
We believe the Gospel is not about how we can be saved or that Caesar has deity authority.
We believe the Gospel is a message is something that really is “good news.”
We believe the Gospel is dependant on the working of the Holy Spirit.

We believe we are called to love others with holy affection.
We believe we are called to outdo one another in service towards one another.
We believe that we will have to stand in front of God and give an account of our lives – Good or evil.
We believe we are saved for works and not saved by works.

We believe that it is the people that make up the church and not a building.
We believe that Church ultimately is a place of community, fellowship, and unity.
We believe that the Church is sent out to make other communities that imitate the way of Jesus.
We believe that we are dependant on the body of Christ in order to embody the image of Christ.

We believe that Church splits are dumb.
We believe that Church splits divide the body of Christ.
We believe that the reasons for Church splits are not always biblical but are oftentimes selfish in nature.
We believe that we are called to live in unity with others despite their personal, theological differences.

Then…

Why are we doing such a bad job at being the Church? Why are the divorce rates among Christians just as bad if not worse off than the world in which it seeks to proclaim the good news? Why don’t we allow forgiveness to reign in our hearts when someone wrongs us? Why are we always so ready to “stick it to the man?” Why can’t we allow our differences regarding a whole bunch of issues that has nothing to do with salvation to be the very thing that divides us? Why is it when people see you or I in the grocery store or behind the wheel, they have a hard time seeing something different in us – the Gospel of Jesus Christ – that He is Lord? Why can’t we allow love to be our defining characteristic? These are some honest questions I have been considering along the way and I am really struggling to find the answers to these questions because, as the body of Christ, I don’t see why it is so hard for us to be the Gospel in the flesh. I am so tired of getting a bad rap from non-believers because we don’t act any different from the world in which we live. I am in the world, yes. But I am striving to not live of it. I want people to see that. I want people to see the Gospel in the flesh when they see me. That should be the goal and desire of every believer who has experienced the good news of Christ and possess the image of Christ.

When you and I received the good news and confessed Jesus as Lord, we made a claim that any other authority is subservient to Jesus. We have no other gods that can prevail against that truth. We, in a very real sense, took on the Gospel. When we lived as the world, for example, we did whatever we wanted with our money. Now that we have put on the Gospel of Jesus, we have come to realize it never was our money in the first place – it was always God’s. Therefore, how we give and how we spend and how we save our money must be significantly different then our “worldly thinking.” This goes for every aspect of our lives (work ethic, relationships, sleep, our eating habits, are “down time,” all of our time, and our lives respectively) – this all changes and has to because we no longer live as the world but we have put on, as Paul states in many of his letters, the new man – or put on Christ.

Now this is significant because this new man is no longer defined by my personal thoughts or selfish desires but ultimately comes under the headship of Jesus Christ. Arguing about paint colors for a wall (see post on church split), for example, should not be something that you or I entertain because it is about the Gospel – not the color of a church wall. How a church looks in general (see post on the church) should not be a vision of religion but an embodiment of Christ.

In conclusion, I want to leave you with a question that you can ask of yourself. It is not a question I have thought up but have pondered – so I can’t take any credit for thinking of it. I hope you will take a moment and reflected, meditate, or whatever it is you do to think about spiritual things and respond in such a manner that involves both action and words.

“If someone else were to live your life right now, at this moment, would they know the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how to live it out in a tangible, real, and authentic manner?”

Stop splitting the Church!

After doing my post on the church, I still have a question I have to ask: Why on earth do we continue to have church splits? Why are we unable to be grown-ups and learn to deal with one another despite our differences in different aspects of theology?

I talked to a pastor-friend of mind who told me that he experienced a church split simply because no one could agree on what color to paint the sanctuary walls! It was a very large church as well. I cannot believe people would leave a church because of a paint job! There are in fact, a lot of other reasons people leave churches though that perhaps seems a little more valid. Churches split over the issues of baptism (how to do it, when to do it, how old a child should be, should it be a believer’s baptism or should we baptize babies?), communion (should we put it in the silver plates or should we allow people to dunk their bread in the juice or should we use wine? Should we do it every week, once a month, when we finish studying a topic or a book of the Bible?), the way the Bible is taught (Book by book, chapter by chapter, topical, story telling, etc…), or even race (a white church often attracts white people while a black church will often attract black people).

I thought I understood all of this until I started dealing with the issues of denominations, which I think divide the body of Christ more than any other issue the church faces. Much to my astonishment, I found out when I was a freshman in college that there were a lot of different types of Baptist churches – too many to name them all). Not just Baptists but other denominational churches had “sub denominations” that divided even the denominations into denominations. It has gotten so bad that we now have “non-denominational” churches, which are branded a non-denominational denominational church! When does it end? Why do we have to split?

The last time I read the Bible, I saw that there was one body of Christ made of many members. There are not many bodies with many members. I don’t know what we are going to do as a body of Christ when we get to heaven. Are we all going to sit in our little sections and worship God? The Baptists will be up front while the Methodists sit in the back. All the white people will sit together while all the black people are segregated and the Latinos and the Asians sit off to the sides? I don’t think so (Amen to that)! We are all going to stand together. We are a multi ethnic, multi cultural body of believers who bear the image of Christ. If we cannot get this issue right now, how on earth are we going to do it in heaven?

The Lord’s Prayer says, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” In Revelation we read that people from every trip, nation, and tongue will praise God and worship Him.” Therefore, if God wills it in heaven – being something that we will actually experience in heaven – don’t you think we should probably get it right down here and worship together?

If you want to baptize your baby – great! If you would like to wait until your child has received Christ as their Savior and Lord – great! We still worship the same God and are still saved by His blood. If you believe the KJV Bible is the only Bible for you – great! If your neighbor reads the NIV or the ESV because they enjoy how wooden it is – great! This is no reason to split a church!

I am sorry to get on my soapbox about this but it bothers me that I continually hear about how a church split over something ridiculous as a paint job or something of that nature. Satan – no doubt – gets joy out of all of this because we have inflicted this issue upon ourselves. He didn’t have to do any work but tell people to build their own churches – thus splitting the church. Most of the reasons I have heard concerning church splits are selfish. They ultimately do not include God in the process.

Please feel free to respond if you would like to this post. I am sure I have offended someone or some denomination – a pastor who might read this. Well I am not sorry for my post. We are the collective body of Christ and we need to start acting like it. I don’t care what form your gathering/church looks like. As long as we are embodying the body of Christ, that is the most important aspect. We must glorify Christ and His goodness. That should be our aim, our drive, and our purpose.

Got Church?

I am sifting gears for this post in order to share some things I have learned about a pretty important topic: The Church. What is the church? Why do we have it? What makes a “gathering” church and what makes a “gathering” not?

Church is not a building – It’s people:

Church is not a building with four walls, a roof, and a big steeple on top. Church is not found in any building at all. Church in fact, has absolutely nothing to do with a building but has everything to do with people. The first “church” was a very small church. In fact, it had a membership of only three members. It was quite possibly the most perfect church that had ever existed. I am talking about Adam, Eve and God (I know God is three-in-one, which is an important piece to this church business we will consider in a moment). Adam and Eve had church with God. They spent time each day with God, in fellowship, worship, conversation, community, and all the above. It was a perfect church; it was a one-of-a-kind church that will one day exist again in the future.

* The church is not a building – it is about people.

It isn’t good for man to be alone:

In Genesis, God made man in His image. That is significant because that is where the church finds its identity – namely in Christ. When God made man, He said it wasn’t good for man to be alone. I had always struggled with that thought. Why on earth was it not good for man to be in fellowship with God as he was? It isn’t that I think women were a mistake or something or that women aren’t needed – they are. And I think this is where another characteristic of church is found. You see, God is one and yet He is three. There is a union that makes them complete and the trinity of the Godhead is important to fully manifest the greatest of God. In the same way, it was not good for man to be alone because it is God’s very nature to have a unity of community within the Godhead. So God made a helper/encourager/and companion for man to live and work together – to have fellowship, community, and relationally connect with in the garden.

* The church – from the beginning of time – was made for community, fellowship, and relationally in order to manifest the fullness of God’s image.

As God cannot fully manifest Himself in one entity, the church cannot manifest the image of God without others. This is the very nature of God. This is ultimately why we were created – so that we can experience the joy He experiences with the community of the Godhead. In a very real way then, I am dependent in being relational with other believers so that I can fully bear Christ’s image.

Once we have established that, we begin to see the mission of God unfold before us. There really can’t be any framing of the mission of God unless our operating theology doesn’t include a community – the Church. The mission of God is about establishing that in the world. What then does that community do? That community is also sent into the world, after the pattern that Jesus gave us, in order to multiply and regenerate other communities.

* Once we become a community, we are then sent to build other communities where fellowship, worship, and relationships exist, thus becoming a body that reflects the image of Christ to the world and beyond.

Jesus, in John 20:21 speaks concerning this issue saying, “As the Father has sent me, so I send you in order that you might bear much fruit.” Jesus spoke this to his disciples after He had been with them for several years. Jesus had taught them all they needed to know in order to be in relationship with others. He modeled this relationship/community/and fellowship with them in order that they might go out and do the same. They would not be alone though. Jesus would give the Holy Spirit to them in order that the Church would thrive.

This is where our understanding of church must precede. The church is not a place where we attempt to get people into the pews to sit through long sermons on a Sunday morning. The church should be a place where people are brought into relationship with God and others. The form in which that takes place can be unique in a variety of ways and should not be limited to a specific way. In closing then, I want to encourage you to consider what church has been to you and how church should be understood through the examples given to us in the Word of God. Are you really “going to church” or are you just going to a place where you sit, sing a few songs, giving lip service without really meaning what you are singing, throwing a few dollars in a plate that goes by, and clocking in your service for the day? I don’t mean that in a rude way but I found myself doing that several times before and have had to repent from my ways. Let’s be about the church – the body of Christ – the image of God that we possess in relationship with God and others. Let’s not allow four walls, a roof and a steeple be the only place we experiences the joy of community with God and others. Rather, let’s make this church thing a lifestyle that we enjoy often. Maybe then we can really get a glimpse of what heaven will be like while we are here on earth.

The New Perspective on Paul: Works

Well this is our second look at this issue of the New Perspective on Paul (NPP). Last time we looked at how someone who ran with the NPP would understand the Gospel – the announcement that Jesus is Lord. We start with the Gospel message because it is the main root in which all other small yet still important roots branch from. Each root ultimately goes back to Paul’s understanding of the Gospel message.

The next branch or pillar of the NPP we are going to look at is this issue of “works.” This might seem a little fuzzy/confusing of an issue so I am going to attempt to bring it down a few notches for us all to understand. We all know that it is not good enough to just sit around with the announcement – this Gospel message. We cannot therefore be lazy. We are truly called to do “something” for the Kingdom of God. Paul gives us this message loud and clear. So does Jesus. Let’s start with Scripture.

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, and serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” (Romans 14:10-12).

“We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Paul reminds us of a reality of being judged for what “he (she/we) has (have) done in the body.” It also doesn’t matter really if it was “good” or “evil” either. We will each, individually have to give a report for our life work towards one another – Christian or non-Christians respectively. So how are we to maintain a good standing for our works? Paul tells us to outdo one another in honoring one another, serve the Lord, and be patient in hope. Doing these things does not automatically mean that we are “free and clear” from the judgment seat. Remember – “whether good or evil” means no matter what, we are going to have an appointment with Christ regarding what was done while we were in the flesh. This isn’t a scare tactic at all. This is just a reality that we will have to go through one day.

So where is the controversy? Romans 2:1-16 is the baby that throws a wrench in the cogs of both theologians and Bible students alike. Verse 13 states, “For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. “Are we really going to suggest that those who keep The Law are declared righteous in God’s eyes and those who do not keep The Law are not justified? Paul. I think you have a few screws lose or something. We are freed from The Law since Christ came.” Perhaps that is what you thought after you read this verse as well. I know I did. How on earth do we reconcile this passage to mean what it is supposed to mean? How would someone who follows a more NPP understand this passage? I won’t try and rewrite N.T. Wright’s words. I will comment on them though. Here is what he says.

Paul means what he says. Granted, he redefines what ‘doing the law’ really means; he does this in chapter 8, and again in chapter 10, with a codicil in chapter 13. But he makes the point most compactly in Philippians 1.6: he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. The ‘works’ in accordance with which the Christian will be vindicated on the last day are not the unaided works of the self-help moralist. Nor are they the performance of the ethnically distinctive Jewish boundary-markers (Sabbath, food-laws and circumcision). They are the things, which show, rather, that one is in Christ the thing, which is produced in one’s life as a result of the Spirit’s indwelling and operation. In this way, Romans 8.1–17 provides the real answer to Romans 2.1–16. Why is there now ‘no condemnation’? Because, on the one hand, God has condemned sin in the flesh of Christ (let no-one say, as some have done, that this theme is absent in my work; it was and remains central in my thinking and my spirituality); and, on the other hand, because the Spirit is at work to do, within believers, what the Law could not do – ultimately, to give life, but a life that begins in the present with the putting to death of the deeds of the body and the obedient submission to the leading of the Spirit.

I personally believe that it cannot be stated any better – so I won’t attempt to do so. I hope this sparks some more conversation along the way. We have much to learn about the NPP and I feel this might be one of those topics that simply will not go away. What I will say in closing is that the NPP ultimately seeks to do away with preconceived notions about who Paul was and what his purpose of writing was. Even though Paul was a very smart man (He was a Pharisee after all – which is like having three degrees – on in law, one in religion and one like a PhD of sorts), Paul considered all of that rubbish (a horrible translation – literal it means “poop” – the stuff you flush down your toilets) compared to knowing Jesus. For Paul to make a statement like that – especially to a church – means that something significant must have happened in his life. He, through the power and working of the Holy Spirit, is given the Gospel message to announce that Jesus is Lord and thus is called to be an Apostle to the Gentiles. We will look at the significance of one’s calling later on in this series of posts but I will simply say that the NPP crew sees that as something very different as well. Once Paul had the message, he went out and called other people to do likewise. He called believers to go and do “good works” that will be judged by the Father who sits on the throne. Let us therefore go out and do the works we do in this body for good so that our Father in heaven will say, “Well done, My good and faithful servant. Enter into My glory.” God bless.

The New Perspective on Paul: The Gospel

What’s the deal with this new perspective on Paul? Should we entertain this new perspective? How safe is this view and why is it causing some people to get upset? As if we didn’t need another “something” to tickle our ears, the New Perspective on Paul (NPP) is a matter in which you and I must wrestle. The importance of this matter, for those who believe the Bible is the Word of God, is very important since Paul wrote much of the New Testament (NT) and was devoutly familiar with the Old Testament (OT) Scriptures. Thus, we are interested, as any good Bible student should, in knowing how and why Paul wrote.

First and foremost, we must mention our scholars: E.P. Sanders, James D. Dunn and N.T. Wright. These three guys have laid much of the groundwork for you and I in these matters. Sanders’, Dunn’s, and Wright’s knowledge, regarding the OT traditions and practices as well as NT culture, paint for us a very real – in your face – kind of Paul. Though each have complied and have published their fair share of writings, we will look only at Wright’s thoughts regarding this issue. I have chosen Wright because, of all three, my knowledge of Wright’s writing is far greater than the other two. That is not to say that Either Sanders or Dunn’s work is any less important. Let it be understood that this is only a very short survey of the issues in order to formulate conversations. The more reading and research one does, the more one will be able to intelligently assess the matter in a greater fashion. A final note regarding these three men: Much of their work you can find online. Simply insert their names along with “The New Perspective on Paul.” With that, we will begin our first post regarding the issue of the Gospel with several more to follow regarding other issues of the NPP.

The Gospel:

Wright asserts, “When Paul refers to ‘the gospel,’ he is not referring to a system of salvation, though of course the gospel implies and contains this, nor even to the good news that there now is a way of salvation open to all, but rather to the proclamation that the crucified Jesus of Nazareth has been raised from the dead and thereby demonstrated to be both Israel’s Messiah and the world’s true Lord. ‘The gospel’ is not ‘you can be saved, and here’s how;’ the gospel, for Paul, is ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’”

I am not sure what denominational background you were brought up in, if any at all, but I had never heard this before. There is no doubt that the Gospel is, as the writer suggests, good news for all that hear the truth. What then would we call, what Wright calls, “you can be saved and here’s how” bit? Maybe, instead of calling that part the Gospel, we should rather call it a “hook” of sorts. Here’s what I mean: A good writer always has a hook. It is a statement or a thought that provokes the listener to listen to whatever is to come next. A hook therefore has a lot of power but only remains the hook. Alone the hook bears no weight or is able to really stand-alone. The message though is in need of a hook. Most speeches or papers are dull and/or boring without a good hook that will captivate and guarantee a listening audience. As the old cliché goes, “Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.”

Maybe we could relearn the Gospel message saying it in such a way as to say, “Hey there. I am really excited to share with you the best news I have ever heard. Jesus Christ is Lord. He also died on the cross for you and demonstrated through His acts that He is the Messiah the Jewish people have been patiently waiting for and what we have been waiting for too. Isn’t that great?” The message – the announcement – is Jesus is Lord. This is the Gospel message the NPP scholars would suggest to us.

A clear example to the NPP crew can be found in the book of Romans where Paul writes, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 1: 1-4).

Do you see the announcement? Do you see the proclamation given by Paul concerning Jesus not only as the Son of God but also as Lord? What a powerful message!

To Wright, stating, “Jesus is Lord” is significant for two reasons: (1) It is an easy transition of OT language used in Isaiah and the other prophets regarding the promised Messiah and (2) it also bears an acknowledgement that “Jesus, not Caesar is Lord.” Paul is so passionate about this proclamation that he even writes, “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:8-10).

Paul, borrowing the quote from Isaiah, stands firm in his position that Jesus is Lord. This is the Gospel – the message – that is the good news. As you read through Paul’s messages in the NT, make a mark where statements like, “Jesus is Lord” comes up, and try replacing it with the phrase, “the Gospel.” It is quite interesting to consider.

In closing I will give one example of how this would look through the eyes of Paul. In 1 Corinthians 12:3, Paul writes, “Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.” It is here we learn something new about this Gospel message – this “Jesus is Lord” message. Paul states that you and I are unable to proclaim the Gospel message – Jesus is Lord – without the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is truly significant both doctrinally and personally. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit in which you and I turn from us and from sin and turn to Christ. The work of the Holy Spirit is then a key instrument and ingredient in this mixture of the Gospel. Without the Holy Spirit, it would be like putting salt in a cake rather than sugar. The appearance of the cake might be fine, but the taste left in our mouths would be horrible. Therefore, let us not leave such a horrible taste in our mouths but let us leave a taste that encourages us to have even more. The Gospel – the message – the announcement that Jesus Christ is Lord is the first aspect of the NPP we have looked at here. Please feel free to leave any thoughts or questions you might have regarding the issue of the Gospel and the NPP. God bless.