Wednesday, February 14, 2007,9:21 PM
NEW BLOG

Please note, the Higher Ground Online Blog has moved

HERE

highergroundonline.wordpress.com

please update your links
Thanks!
-Victor
 
posted by Victor
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Tuesday, February 13, 2007,9:27 AM
Gospel Terms - "Christ"

I often hear as a rebuttal to the gospel being about the Kingdom of God and the King of that Kingdom, Jesus the Messiah dying so that man might enter that Kingdom words that echo Paul's thoughts in I Corinthians 15:1-4:
"Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures"

So from these verses people will reason that the gospel is about the death and resurrection of Jesus. Well, the gospel does contain that information...but that is not even what Paul has said here. Paul is not pointing out that a man named "Jesus" died for the sins of others - in fact, he doesn't even cite Jesus' name.

What Paul delivered as of first importance (which by the way implies there are other things also) was the CHRIST did these things. The Messiah did these things. The King of the Kingdom did these things...so even in I Corinthians 15's quick summary, Kingdom principles are evident.

It is not wise to assume that this is the summation of all Paul would preach as gospel when speaking to his hearers. Paul is leaving a lot out here that we know he preaches in other places.
Can you think of any?

How about "WHY" the Christ died for sins....that information on its own seems odd or misplaced. Paul spoke on that as we know from Acts and Romans for example.

Paul was an apostle of Christ commissioned to preach the gospel to the Gentiles by the Messiah. He would not have been speaking a message that Jesus had not commissioned him to speak, nor that Jesus would not have originated himself.
So aside from the question I've asked above, what is Paul saying when he says these things I Cor 15:1-4?

For more information on the Christ, check out the article: "King of the Kingdom"
 
posted by Victor
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Monday, February 12, 2007,8:01 AM
Draft?

There has been a new resolution proposed in the United States House of Representatives by NY Congressmen Charles Rangel

Here is the text of the bill.

There have been many proposals brought up at different times in recent history which have offered a reinstatement of the draft...but in this period of widespread conflict and the war on terrorism, who knows what's next.

What I do know is that Christians have the responsibility to obey the laws of the country they reside in in light of the commands of Christ. There is an important distinction here. While Christ is clear on paying taxes and other aspects of Christian-state relations, he is even clearer on what he expects of those who call themselves his followers:

Matthew 5:44 - But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...

Luke 6:27-28 - But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

So no matter what the nation you are living in is proposing and legislating, remember the words of the King of the Age to Come.

There is a section of that resolution that allows for "Conscientious Objector" which would allow for disqualification from service or a peaceful alternative service. I don't think that someone suddenly scared to go into a war zone who fakes a "sincerely held religious belief" will be accepted - but rather those who for a definite period of time can document this belief.

One should not wait until the draft is instituted to start feeling this way about war, violence and one's enemies. Someone who is naming the name of Christ should start feeling this way now because of his commands.
 
posted by Victor
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Thursday, February 08, 2007,11:28 PM

Sacrifice.

It's got to cost you something. Giving something up that doesn't hurt or bother me can not be classified as "sacrifice." We know the example of the sacrifice in the temple. The animal was a clear representation of the sinner sacrificing - it cost them their possession and they killed the animal themselves and watched it die. When Jesus sacrificed himself on our behalf, it cost him his life. The only perfect man, who rightfully could have remained alive and enjoyed life with his Father and God, instead gave it up and laid cold in a grave for three days. For the followers of Christ in Acts, their time, their families, possessions, professions, and all the rest took a hit because of their desire to preach the gospel and live for Jesus. Many times, it was their very life that was given up because of their devotion to the message.

Committing our lives to Christ is a sacrifice. We cannot continue living the same life we lived before we went to the Cross and think we're now carrying our own. When we don't sacrifice we remain in a zone of comfort, with companions, and with pleasures. If one becomes a Christian and doesn't face a challenge in these three areas, one would do well to check themselves with the teachings of Christ.

Because of the sacrifice of Christ, we have the opportunity to be forgive and live. The concept of substitutionary atonement implies that one is put in the place of the other. Because Jesus was willing to die instead of me, I am now supposed to live his life. If this is not the case, I will have to face the death penalty to pay for my crimes. This all involves the idea of sacrifice. We must give up our lives, lose them completely and life for the one who died for us instead.

This is not something that "feels" good initially however. We must rid ourselves of our desires and wants and that is not something that is enjoyable when you are so attached to something. We often forget the the things we attach ourselves to when we are living for ourselves are those things which will be shaken and fall when the Kingdom comes.

Sacrifice is an essential aspect of following the Messiah. Unless we are willing to give up our all, we are unfit to be his disciples. We must comprehend the magnitude of what we have been saved from and the mercy of God that has been shown to us so that we can see that sacrificing our own lives, passions, and desires is the logical response.

Romans 12:1-2 (NLT) - "And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect."

I'm writing this to encourage those of you who are making sacrifices because of your love for the Lord. Stick it out. Keep it up. Endure the temptation to take back what you've given up. Press through the challenging time when you are thinking about doing that thing you gave up again.

  • - For my dear young brother and sisters staying off of "myspace" for 40 days...keep it up.
  • - For my friends fasting...find your strength in the LORD.

  • - For those who have shut their TV's off, may God direct you to more time
    with Him.


  • - For you who have left friends or family for the sake of the gospel, may you find a stronger family now and in the age to come.

Perhaps there is something in your life that you need to sacrifice because of your love for the LORD more than that thing, person, place, etc

Perhaps it is someone in your life. A girlfriend or boyfriend who is pressuring you to sin. A co-worker who constantly rejects the gospel but yet is fun to hang around.

Perhaps it is our time. Time spent reading the Bible rather than watching TV. Time fellowshipping at a Bible study instead of lounging around the house.

I imagine that it can be different for all of us, but we must all be willing to give it all for our Lord.

When we get to the point of feeling the pain or struggle because we are giving up something or someone, run to the Father for help - He will help. What an amazing God we have - a God who will help us give to Him what He rightly deserves - our whole heart, each aspect of our soul, every part of our mind, and all of our strength

- Can you relate to the need for sacrifice?

- Why do we hold on to things we shouldn't?

- In light of sacrificing, how does our society influence us
otherwise?

- Has God been there to help you as you sacrifice for Him?

 
posted by Victor
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Thursday, February 01, 2007,10:34 PM

The Gospel that puts you in jail.

What caused the apostles to be thrown into prison?

What caused the disciples to be beaten and killed?

Why were villages turned upside down by some people "witnessing?"

Perhaps its because the devil doesn't like the gospel. Neither do the established powers of this age. Neither do men who love their sin.

Here's why - the gospel is not an invitation to adopt a new moral code or news about a warm grandfather figure who wants his kids over for cookies. The gospel is not another name for the Bible itself nor is it information about how to have your best life now. At least not the Biblical gospel:

Paul tells us that he "did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles (side note - that would be all types of people), that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance. For this reason, some Jews seized me in the temple and tried to put me to death." Acts 26:20-21

This was the very reason for Paul's commission by Jesus himself! Paul is telling us the purpose that drove his life. Maybe you can discount some of the people's response to the fact that Paul was saying that they had missed the Messiah...perhaps...but to a crowd of Gentiles he said the following:

"...having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a man whom He has appointed (i.e. - the Kingdom of God), having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead." Acts 17:30-31

You know you're doing something out of the norm when your critics describe your preaching and teaching as follows:

"These men who have upset the world have come here also; and Jason has welcomed them, and they all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus." Acts 17:6b, 7

Paul and the others spoke as they did because they understood the destiny of man as well as what they themselves had been saved from. This gratitude for God and concern for other caused him to challenge men to repent in light of the coming Kingdom. Repentance in light of the Kingdom because of the cross is a great way to sum up the preaching of Jesus, Paul and the other disciples. Yet today we hit the streets (if we even do that) and tell people "God Bless You" and hand them a flyer. We must return to the Biblical gospel - and that might mean the need to hear it ourselves for the first time.

We might need to re-educate ourselves to the Biblical method and message opposed to our long standing traditions, tracts, or comfort zones. If Jesus wants me to include the call for repentance in my preaching, am I willing to start telling people that? If Jesus wants me to speak about the coming Kingdom judgement, am I willing to start telling people that? If Jesus wants me to have compassion like he did, am I willing to go into the ripe fields?

Say it how you like. While handing them flowers; from the top of a box of Irish Spring; over hot chocolate or while riding a bus - but brothers and sisters, please, let's at least say it.

The Kingdom of God is coming. God is offering forgiveness through Jesus' sacrifice for those who will repent and believe the gospel. For those who do, the Kingdom will be a time of unparralleled peace and joy, forever - the way God has always wanted it. Everything wrong with the world made right. For those who don't however, they remain part of what is wrong with this world. This same Kingdom coming will serve as their final day - when they are shown that God, not man, is the one who rules. Judgement and punishment will be swift and final.

I'm not looking to be thrown in jail, trust me. But, I am looking to follow my Biblical brothers and would like to preach my Lord's message - for the sake of being a true disciple as well as for other's lives!

And if that leads to jailtime, well, I'd appreciate either some company or some visitors.


  • - So, why is something else being preached?
  • - Is something else really the message we should be preaching?
  • - Why is repentance important?
  • - Does the true gospel even matter anymore?
 
posted by Victor
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Tuesday, January 30, 2007,9:50 PM
Love/Hate?

As 21st century Americans we have a lot of things around us to be happy about. We have freedom, good health, good food, and every sort of entertainment you could imagine. Yet sometimes, we find ourselves attached to these forms of enjoyment. We become addicted. Addiction turns to fanatic. Fanatic turns to idolizing. And yet, many times these go unchecked, even in the Christian church.

Something that I personally get all wrapped up in is college football. I enjoy being a fan. I like espn.com. I have fun following the teams and players. I get all hyper and excited over games. If a team wins, hip hip hurrah. If they lose, life sucks. Yet, I feel bad when I can’t carry this same zeal into my worship on the following Sunday.

Jesus tells us a few sobering things about priorities. He tells us in Matt. 6:24 that "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and [mammon]."

Jesus talks about "love" and "hate" in this passage. You may say to yourself "But I won’t hate the thing that I serve, I can keep it in check. I can keep it just right below God." But what Jesus says is that serving two is impossible. To the level that our commitment to the kingdom gospel to everything else needs to look like a "love/hate" relationship. Our following of Jesus as our lord needs to take precedence over all other hobbies and activities.

Compared to my love to the Messiah, it had better look like I am hating football.

Comments and discussion would be encouraged....
 
posted by Dustin Smith
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Monday, January 29, 2007,8:53 PM


The Role of the Gospel


What does the Gospel do?


For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. Romans 1.16


The Gospel is the information that results in a person’s salvation. The death of Jesus Christ does not save a person. Clearly Jesus died for all:


For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; 2 Cor 5.14



Just because Jesus died for a person does not mean they are saved. It is the Gospel that has the power to save a person. “Jesus Christ died for you” is not the gospel.


that if you confess with your mouth Jesus {as} Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. Romans 10.9-10


Romans 10.9-10 is not the Gospel. Romans 10.9-10 is what someone who responds to the Gospel looks like! Clearly, if we look at verse 8, we will see this:


But what does it say? “THE WORD IS NEAR YOU, IN YOUR MOUTH AND IN YOUR HEART”–that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,



That word of faith - the faith delivered once to all the saints - is the Gospel. That faith of the coming Kingdom of God and King Jesus is the Gospel. This is what we have to be preaching on the streets. And we have to preach it with the same piercing intensity that John the Baptist, Jesus, and the Apostles did. We have to warn people of the coming judgment - that the Kingdom is coming. And they can be saved if they react appropriately to the news by repenting, and believing. When someone responds to the Gospel they are a new creation. They do not look like their old self. They do not talk like their old self. They do not feel like thier old self. They are not concerned with the same things they used to be. If they stole, they return. If they lie, they speak truth. If they curse, they bless. If they hold grudges, they forgive. One cannot claim to have Christ inside you and be the same person. One cannot claim to have an encounter with God, or the risen Christ, and be unchanged. Conversion is supposed to be this tipping point of change, where there is no turning back. A conversion is what we look for out of people that we talk to. The goal is not to bring them to church. The goal is not even to feed the hungry, and clothe the cold. The goal is to convert them, to bring them to God’s Kingdom - so they can go out and convert another.


This Gospel is supposed to be everything. Yet most Christians can’t even answer the question “What is the Gospel”. The Gospel is supposed to be impetus for change for our own lives - both at our conversion and after. The Gospel is the message which we preach to people. If this Gospel isn’t what changes our life - why do we think we are saved (since the Gospel saves)? If this Gospel isn’t what we preach - why do we think we can save anyone (since the Gospel saves)? Since the Gospel saves - what are we as Christians going to do?

 
posted by JohnO
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