Category Archives: Book Extracts

On Fervent Prayer

11:28 AM Been thinking a lot about prayer these days. I’ve even been writing about the topic for my book Seven Marks of a New Testament Church. Here is an excerpt from the chapter called “Fervent Prayer”:

If a church is to be healthy, it will not happen without this kind of praying. But how is prayer even possible?

The answer is: It is not. Nothing describes the Christian’s weakness and inability like his or her prayer life. Rom. 8:26-27 is highly instructive at this point. Here Paul conceives of prayer as the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us. Implied is the complete inability of the Christian to pray without divine assistance and participation. In a sense, Paul is saying that prayer is ultimately an inter-Trinitarian process: God speaking to God through us. This is a profound truth and a remarkable paradox. I cannot pray unless the Holy Spirit prays; but the Holy Spirit will not pray unless I am praying! Perhaps this is what Paul is alluding to when in Eph 6:18 he says that Christians are to be “praying at all times in the Spirit.” Some exegetes regard this as a reference to praying “in tongues.” But there seems to be little reason to hold this view. Praying in tongues may well be included, but Paul’s language is broad enough to include any kind of prayer we might offer. Paul’s main point is that prayer must cease to be a do-it-yourself activity. It is the Spirit, and the Spirit alone, who activates, empowers, and enables prayer. There is a fine sense of realism in all this. Do not think for a movement that you can pray without the Spirit’s help. Be sensitive to His promptings. When He leads you to pray, pray! There is no alternative means of prayer. The Spirit is the enabler of prayer.

Just now I prayed a prayer like I’ve never prayed before. It’s as if the words were placed on lips by Another. Fervent groanings, you might say. I pray that I would pray like this more often!

(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian Archy, The Jesus ParadigmWhy Four Gospels? and  Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?. Used by permission.)

The Church as a Family

4:37 PM From The Jesus Paradigm:

The New Testament presents a clear picture of how the early Christians viewed themselves. They understood each church to be an extended family (an institutionalized church was unimaginable) that practiced plural leadership. This eldership was non-hierarchical (each elder was equal in authority to all the other elders) and arose from within those churches the elders would lead. Because the Lord Jesus is the head of the church (Col. 1:18), the elders led by example, not by “lording it over” the church (1 Pet. 5:2). The elders’ authority lay solely in their ability to “persuade” with the truth of the Word of God (see the use of peitho, “persuade,” in Heb. 13:17).

(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian Archy, The Jesus ParadigmWhy Four Gospels? and  Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions?. Used by permission.)

Missional Task is the Basis of Christian Unity

8:42 AM Hello Internet friends,

Some of you who have been reading this site for a while may recall that I’ve been working on a new book called Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions? My desire is to reflect accurately what Scripture teaches in the area of associating with non-Christians and their world. I’m not especially concerned with our hallowed manmade traditions of doing missions. I feel like I’ve hit on some insights that provide a framework that allows me to combine the twin foci of unity and missions that we see throughout the New Testament. So if you’ll bear with me, I think I’ll introduce you to a few quotes from the forthcoming book. For starters, here’s something to chew on:

Jesus’ disciples enjoyed community simply because Jesus and not a set of dogmas was at the center of their life. They never tried to “build community.” They didn’t have to. Community was the result of being united in the Christian mission; community emerged naturally when they committed themselves to something bigger than themselves. And so it is in the church today. It is my personal observation that most Christians begin to enjoy genuine community only when they begin to serve the poor, evangelize the lost, and plant churches. The glue that unites them is the missional task of loving their neighbors. A shared sense of mission drives them to community. Their congregations are mission-shaped. Like Jesus, they literally go. For them the Bible, not tradition, is normative, and they hold themselves accountable to each other in love even while they work closely with the surrounding neighborhood, developing strong links between Christians and not-yet Christians.

I think it’s very clear that the New Testament affirms Christian mission as the basis for our unity in the Body of Christ. I feel compelled, out of fidelity to Jesus, to repudiate the notion that cooperation is impossible on a practical level. I’ll leave you with this teaser thought: Jesus prayed for our unity in John 17. Can Jesus pray a prayer and it not be answered?

Enjoy the Lord’s Day!


(From Dave Black Online. David Alan Black is the author of Energion titles Christian ArchyThe Jesus Paradigm, Why Four Gospels?, and the forthcoming book Will You Join the Cause of Global Missions. Used by permission.)

The Jesus Paradigm Table of Contents

Full catalog page.


Preface vii

Acknowledgements xi

Chapter 1

The Jesus Paradigm 1

Chapter 2

The Liberated Church
Recasting Our Vision of Discipleship 15

Chapter 3

The Radical Reformation
The Anabaptists and Suffering Servanthood 37

Chapter 4

The Priestly Kingdom
Communal Ecclesiology and Every-Member Ministry 67

Chapter 5

The Community of the Spirit
Leadership Jesus’ Style 85

Chapter 6

The Politics of Jesus
Disarming the Principalities and Powers 105

Chapter 7

The Future of Christianity
Habits of the Upside-Down Community 125

Afterwords 139

Topical Index 145

Scripture Index 147

Author Index 151