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Posted May 7, 2013 - 5:23am

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In our second look at Restoring the Gospel, we look at what I call "Decision-based Gospeling" and why our current method of evangelism has had a detrimental affect on the church, particularly on our ability to make disciples of our converts. Let's take a brief look at this concept and begin to understand how our current "gospeling" typically creates shallow, ineffective Christians, whereas the Apostolic Gospel will create fully devoted disciples of our Master.

Decision-based Gospeling

"Most of evangelism today is obsessed with getting someone to make a decision; the apostles, however, were obsessed with making disciples." 1

As we continue to re-examine the Gospel, let's examine how our misunderstanding of the fullness of the Apostolic Gospel has contributed to some of the problems within Christianity with which we struggle today.

First, we need to take a look at what I will call Decision-based Gospeling. For much of evangelical Christianity, this is the crux of evangelism. It’s all about finding an open door (both figurative and literal) by which we can “share the Gospel” in hopes that our would-be victims — I mean converts — would hear our message, confess their sins (a sometimes optional step) and make a decision to accept Christ as their “personal Savior.”

Theologian Scot McKnight observes his personal experience at this type of evangelism and sums it up by saying, 

Posted May 5, 2013 - 8:46am

Binding and Loosing

Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:18)

Jesus taught his disciples in regard to "binding and loosing," giving them the authority to both "bind" and "loose." However, this passage has been grossly misunderstood over the course of Christian history. How should we fulfill our obligation as disciples to properly understand our Master's teachings and apply them? Here is a brief teaching to help us better understand the words of our Master and cut through centuries of misunderstanding and misapplication of his teachings.

Vows & Oaths

Moses spoke to the heads of the tribes of the people of Israel, saying, “This is what the LORD has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the LORD, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth. (Numbers 30:1–2)

The above passage comes from Numbers 30:2-32:42, and contains a key by which we can better understand a teaching of the Master found in the Apostolic Scriptures. In this passage we find the Scriptural rule for vows, oaths and self-induced prohibitions.

The first thing we note in this passage is that whatever proceeds from our lips is binding. In fact, it becomes as binding as Scripture. In a sense, when we make a vow or pledge an oath, we have created a new restriction upon ourselves that is above and beyond the obligations of the Scriptures. We have, in a sense, “added to Scripture.” This is one reason why both the sages, and our Master are so critical of vows and pledges.

Posted May 3, 2013 - 3:31pm

Discipleship Seminar followup image

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:13-16)

I opened the Discipleship seminar last night with the word "Imagine." I then proceeded to tell the participants to imagine a world in which Christ rules the hearts and lives of every single person on this earth… A time when hypocrisy and pride have been subjugated… A time when deception has vanished and trust has been restored… A time when children can once again be free to walk alone in our cities… And a time when war has been vanquished and all men love their neighbors as themselves…

Then I brought us back to reality recognizing that this vision will never come to pass this side of our Master's return. However, knowing this doesn't free us from our obligation to work towards this vision as set out in the Great Commission — that we would make disciples of all nations and teach them to live lives that are in submission to the King of the Universe and bring glory to His name on this earth. Pirkei Avot 2:21 says:

Posted April 26, 2013 - 8:04am

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To what can our current understanding of the Good News be compared? 

Once there was a man who went to a bicycle shop to purchase a new bike. He walked in the store and saw no bicycles. He did, however, see a shop full of wheels and tires. When the shop owner approached, he asked if he had any bicycles for sale. Smiling, the shop owner replied, “We’re a bike shop! That’s what we have! Just look around you … we have bikes lining the walls and covering the floors! Look them over and see if we have something that you can’t live without.”

Confused, the man replied, “I don’t understand. I’m looking for bicycles. All I see is a shop full of wheels and tires. Where are the frames?”

“Aren’t wheels and tires all you need for a bicycle?” the shop owner responded. “They are what make the bicycle go. They take you from one place to another! You can’t get anywhere with a bicycle that has no tires. Frames are optional. It’s the wheel and tire that do the job. They are the real bicycle. How about we fix you up with a bike?”

Mark Twain is quoted as saying that it is much easier to fool people than to convince them they have been fooled. Have we been duped when it comes to the Gospel? What is the Gospel and why is important that we properly understand it? If we really are incorrect in our understanding of the Gospel how difficult will it be for us to recognize and correct our understanding?

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Latest Book Review

The Magerman Edition

Author: Daniel Rose & Jay Goldmintz
Publisher: Koren Publishers
Year: 2014

The Koren Ani Tefilla Siddur is one of the latest in Koren’s growing collection of siddurim (prayer books) geared towards a specific demographic. Koren describes Ani Tefilla as “an engaging and thought-provoking siddur for the inquiring high school student and thoughtful adult.” Koren says that Ani Tefillah has been developed in order “to help the user create their own meaning and connection during the Tefilla [prayer] experience.” The name of the siddur is connected with its objective. Ani Tefilla means “I pray.” 

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