Category Archives: Discussion

Paul on the Work of Ministry

From Dave Black Online:

Pastoral ministry is highly demanding. I constantly realize, however, that the burdens we assume are often self-imposed. Trying to move toward a more biblical view of work and ministry can be overwhelming. How biblically ignorant I can still be! It’s particularly hard when people’s expectations get in the way. So there is much room to rethink the wineskins.

What does Paul say about work and ministry? That’s the assignment for next week in our New Testament Theology class. As always, I’m doing the assignment myself. Here are the verses I’ve gathered for my own inductive study. I think they’ll help me get the big picture. I have already written them out in Greek but I’ll list them for you in English:

  • 1 Thess. 2:9: Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that we would not be a burden to any of you as we preached God’s Good News to you.

  • 1 Thess. 4:11-12: Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before.Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.

  • 1 Thess. 5:12-13: Dear brothers and sisters, honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give you spiritual guidance. Show them great respect and wholehearted love because of their work. And live peacefully with each other.

  • 1 Cor. 15:10: But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.

  • 2 Cor. 6:5: We have been beaten, been put in prison, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights, and gone without food.

  • 2 Cor. 11:27: I have worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights. I have been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food. I have shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep me warm.

  • Eph. 4:28: If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need.

  • 1 Cor. 9:1-8: Am I not as free as anyone else? Am I not an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord with my own eyes? Isn’t it because of my work that you belong to the Lord? Even if others think I am not an apostle, I certainly am to you. You yourselves are proof that I am the Lord’s apostle. This is my answer to those who question my authority. Don’t we have the right to live in your homes and share your meals? Don’t we have the right to bring a Christian wife with us as the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers do, and as Peter does? Or is it only Barnabas and I who have to work to support ourselves? What soldier has to pay his own expenses? What farmer plants a vineyard and doesn’t have the right to eat some of its fruit? What shepherd cares for a flock of sheep and isn’t allowed to drink some of the milk? Am I expressing merely a human opinion, or does the law say the same thing? For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” Was God thinking only about oxen when he said this? Wasn’t he actually speaking to us? Yes, it was written for us, so that the one who plows and the one who threshes the grain might both expect a share of the harvest. Since we have planted spiritual seed among you, aren’t we entitled to a harvest of physical food and drink? If you support others who preach to you, shouldn’t we have an even greater right to be supported? But we have never used this right. We would rather put up with anything than be an obstacle to the Good News about Christ.Don’t you realize that those who work in the temple get their meals from the offerings brought to the temple? And those who serve at the altar get a share of the sacrificial offerings. In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it. Yet I have never used any of these rights. And I am not writing this to suggest that I want to start now. In fact, I would rather die than lose my right to boast about preaching without charge. Yet preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News! If I were doing this on my own initiative, I would deserve payment. But I have no choice, for God has given me this sacred trust. What then is my pay? It is the opportunity to preach the Good News without charging anyone. That’s why I never demand my rights when I preach the Good News.

  • 1 Tim. 5:17-18: Elders who do their work well should be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at both preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”

  • Acts 20:33-35: “I have never coveted anyone’s silver or gold or fine clothes. You know that these hands of mine have worked to supply my own needs and even the needs of those who were with me. And I have been a constant example of how you can help those in need by working hard. You should remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Wow! This is very convicting to me. It seems that the Gospel fares better against outright opposition than against our frivolous and slothful lifestyles. A Paul slaving away night and day to support himself while doing ministry is a laughingstock. I am all for unity but today “togetherness” seems mired up in “conformity.” Is the status quo worth maintaining when it comes to our work ethic? That’s the question we’ll be asking next Wednesday. Please pray that the Holy Spirit will guide our discussion.

Note:  Material from Dave Black Online is used by permission.  Dr. David Alan Black is author of The Jesus Paradigm.

Too Hot to Handle?

From Dave Black Online:

Alan Knox hits it out of the ball park with his latest essay: In Theory. His point? What good is Bible study if we fail to put into practice what we know to be true? This is one of the main issues I deal with in The Jesus Paradigm, and it is why I spent a whole chapter on the Anabaptists. Among other things, these sixteenth century radicals believed in “biblical authority instead of ecclesiastical tradition,” “the Bible as a book of the church instead of as a book of scholars,” and “a hermeneutic of obedience instead of a hermeneutic of knowledge.” For them, the Bible, not tradition, provided the patterns for church life and organization just as plainly as it revealed the basic theological content of the faith. That belief earned for them the implacable hatred of the church hierarchy.

I conclude chapter 2 of The Jesus Paradigm with these words:

There can no longer be any doubt that our churches have departed from biblical norms. Could it be that we lack the prime essential for discipleship — a personal commitment to the lordship of Christ? I ask myself: Where are the young and women of today’s generation who are determined to stand upon Scripture alone, who are resolved to live by it, and who are committed to obeying it in their lives, their families, and their churches? I venture to say that the twenty-first century church is at a vital crossroads. If we should dare to submit ourselves anew to the full biblical witness to Christ and his church, I believe that the most significant renewal movement in the history of the church may yet await us.

Our problem is not one of knowledge but of obedience. The Paul of 1 Corinthians 14 has proven to be too hot to handle, too radical for the established church.

Note: Posts here from Dave Black Online are used by permission.  Thanks!

Politics and The Jesus Paradigm

From Dave Black Online:

I want to say a word about The Jesus Paradigm. Some reviewers have implied that it makes too much of politics for a book only about discipleship. Actually, the book is ALL about politics. I insist that politics is never enough and that the human problem is insoluble unless it be attacked on all fronts — the spiritual as well as the political and the economic — the whole point of the book being that the problem is too complex to be solved by political reforms. If you feel that something can be done along political lines and that it would be worth doing, that’s fine with me. But, alas, in view of what politicians and the voting public are like, hope must be mingled with a great deal of doubt. It seems to me that if we are to have better politics, we must also have a better philosophy. And the only philosophy I think worth defending is the ultimate anti-philosophy, radical Christianity. The hope of the world lies in people getting disgusted enough with politics to take the teachings of Jesus seriously and to begin serving their communities with Calvary-love.


Geoffrey Lentz Reviews The Jesus Paradigm

Link to review on GeoffreyLentz.com.

The church is set to undergo massive transformations in the coming years and decades. Many great authors have recently been describing desired and/or emerging models; David Alan Black is among them with his newest book, The Jesus Paradigm (Energion Publications, July 2009).  The basic premise of the book is that the church has lost sight of our purpose and has become weighed down with meetings, bureaucracy, and structure and has neglected our primary call to make disciples of all nations.

Christian America?

Andrew Thompson at GenXRising has written about the idea of Christian America and recent studies that suggest we’re becoming less Christian.

The post and the entire comment thread are worth reading, but let me quote the following:

The gist of it is this: There never was such a thing as ‘Christian America.’ And the Christians in America shouldn’t worry about that.

There cannot be such a ‘Christian America,’ in fact, because citizenship and discipleship can never be synonymous terms. Christians owe an allegiance to Jesus Christ above the allegiance to the nation. And that means that a Christian’s primary frame of social reference is not society at large but rather the church.

Dave Black, author of the forthcoming book for which this site is named, commented in the thread:

I’m enjoying this thread, Andrew. If I understand the New Testament correctly, the church is to take on a nonconformist and prophetic identity over against the structures of the world. This is not to say that I am unconcerned about politics or about the improvement of society through legislation. Such improvements are, however, questionable if they proceed from an assumption that they will issue in a Christian America. My concern is that the church be the church, and to do that it must proclaim victory not through a political agenda but through the Christian Gospel. The Christianity of the New Testament presents not simply a more demanding ethic but rather a cross that means the death of our desire for prosperity and power. I therefore view my participation in the culture wars not in terms of calling for a macro-political utopia but in terms of the church’s calling to be the conscience and critic of culture. I’ve tried to make this point in my forthcoming book, The Jesus Paradigm.

http://www.energionpubs.com/ep_detail.php?sku=1893729567

In our foreign policy America must use its military power reasonably and with a scrupulous concern for peace. A superpatriotism that calls for unfettered power is both un-American and un-Christian in my opinion.

I would in turn link this to my own post asking just how often our answer to any question or solution to any problem is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I certainly hope this discussion will grow in the blogosphere.

Welcome and Open Discussion

The Jesus Paradigm web site is designed specifically to help carry out the mission of the book by the same name.

What do I mean when I say that this book has a mission?  It’s simple.  It’s author wrote it in fulfillment of the gospel commission.  I’m publishing it for the same reason.

There are many things that get written about a book as it is released.  There are press releases, a catalog page, reviews, and commentary.  But this site is different from all of them.  Everything here is about this book and what it means for Christians.  I believe that Dr. Black has presented some material that we, as Christians, need to hear.  I want it discussed.  I hope and pray that it will be lived as well.

So watch this space for more as we approach the release date of July 20, 2009.  You’ll see the theme change as the cover design matures.  You’ll see announcements about the advance copies.  I sincerely hope you’ll see challenging discussion of the concepts this book presents.

But you’ll only keep up if you check back regularly!

In the comment thread to this post, feel free to discuss this book openly, honestly, and courteously.

–Henry Neufeld, Energion Publications