Category Archives: Discussion

The Athens Perspective

From Dave Black Online:

Do you have the “Athens Perspective”? Here’s what I mean. When I first visited Greece in 1981, I couldn’t wait to see the archeological treasures of its great capital. The Areopagus, the Acropolis, the Parthenon — I felt like I had gone to heaven so enraptured was I with all these wonderful sites. But when Paul and his adventurous missionary company visited the city on his second missionary journey, all he saw were spiritual needs. Paul would never have considered himself a “radical,” yet he was one of the most radical men who ever lived. “Radical,” of course, means going to the root, and Paul plunged through all the layers of history, philosophy, and architecture to the root of mankind’s need.

Yesterday Alvin Reid told the story of how he and his son once toured the great cities of Europe. He set as his personal goal to share the love of Jesus with at least one person every day on the trip. I can just see Alvin talking about Jesus in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, striking up a conversation and then moving beyond the distracting loyalties to the core of man’s emptiness.

There is a radical reformation taking place in our day. Many of us are a part of it. We are tired of debating the virtues of the NIV over the ESV (or vice versa). We are tired of You Tubes criticizing a certain pastor because of the way he pronounces “logos.” It’s time to get back to the essentials, to dare to put the Gospel first and to allow the Lordship of Christ to unsettle our morose self-centeredness.

What happened to Paul in Athens is happening in my own heart. God is beginning to remove any interest in my heart to see the “great sites” of this world. I want to look at the world as God sees it and evaluate everything in life from an eternal perspective. I’m thankful to be part of a missional revolution — a reordering of priorities in the Body of Christ, a rethinking of presuppositions, a recommitment to conserve the essence of life as Jesus taught us to live it.

The Athens Perspective: You either have it or you don’t. We are to be the essentialists of our day. In fact, if all we see when we visit Athens are great buildings, there’s something dreadfully wrong.

David Alan Black is author of The Jesus Paradigm from Energion Publications.  Quotes from his blog are used here with his permission.

Post-Church Christianity

From Dave Black Online:

A thought about Labor Day: One of the current social fads is what we might call “post-church Christianity.” People are dropping out of church, especially young people who may have been converted in non-traditional settings. I must confess that much of what we see in the Body of Christ is indeed very unattractive: anachronisms, inconsistencies, hypocrisies. But I cannot agree that the solution is dropping out. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we are obligated as believers to “stir one another up to love and good works.” How can refusing to meet with other Christians allow us to obey this command? Each Christian is a building block in the temple of the church. Each is necessary for the Body to grow. Each has a part to play. Sadly, the word “work” has become a four-letter word in many of our churches. There are too many shirkers and not enough workers. Even Jesus said the laborers are few.

If you are a dropout from church (for whatever reason, and you may have some VERY good reasons!), my simple advice to you is this: Get to work. Jesus said, “I will build My church,” and He had all of us in mind as His workers!

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.