Race, Culture & the Gospel

If you are anything like me you enjoy a pithy quote that hits hard and makes you think. I recently came across a quote by Tim Keller that did exactly this. He states, “Racial pride and cultural narrowness cannot coexist with the gospel of grace. They are mutually exclusive.” When I read this so many thoughts flooded my mind. To get the full impact of what Pastor Keller is saying the quote needs to be defined and to some extent dissected.

Racial pride- To some extent the term race rubs me the wrong way, because it is not a term that is entirely biblical. It is more of a modern term to explain one’s ethnicity or ancestry. The term racial pride I would take to mean as a sense of arrogance or superiority in ones ethnicity over another’s. These attitudes are completely contrary to the scriptures. As a Christian, in 1 Peter 5:5 we are admonished to show humility toward one another and also reminded that God resists the proud. It also, inherently has a sense of finding one’s identity in their ethnicity.

Cultural Narrowness- This is a belief that one persons culture is the ONLY way something should be done. A silly example would be where I grew up, carbonated beverages are called pop and I stubbornly refuse to call it soda, coke, or worse compromise and call it soda pop or any other foolishness. Of course I say this in jest. This attitude can move from a small matter like what we call food or drink to how we respond to others who are different, or worse how we craft our churches to be only one culture. Neglecting the myriads of other cultures in our area that may identify with Christ.

Both of these are extremely troubling in our society and in our churches. The reason we call ourselves Christians is not because we are white anglo-saxon in heritage that was passed on from our Western European ancestors. We are called Christians because we are followers of Christ and IDENTIFY with His death, burial and resurrection as the payment for sin debt that by faith we through identifying with Christ are now IN Christ. We no longer identify with race or culture.

Gospel of Grace- The gospel of grace is the good news that God’s wrath against sin was poured out on His Son instead of me, and by God’s gift of faith, His grace and mercy is given so that I am given the life that Christ secured when rose victorious from the grave. This good news is not to a certain race, nation or even culture. Galatians 3:28 is clear, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, their is neither slave nor free, there is no male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is stating two important truths for our topic. Race and culture are not to be boasted in and that our identity is found in Christ.

If we are to carry out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations then Tim Keller’s quote must be truly thought through. The Apostle John writes of a vision where he hears a song being sang in heaven, where it is not merely one style of people but literally ALL groups before God. Revelation 5:9-10, “And they sang a new song, ‘Worthy are you to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God and they shall reign on the earth.”

May we have the heart of Christ and take part in the ministry of reconciliation to see this ransomed people from every tribe and language and people and nation come to their Lord and see them grow in the gospel of grace.

What Are Your Life Goals?

This morning is my 31st birthday and I was pa-rousing my ever changing Facebook page, as it seems the are revamping something regularly. While doing this, I saw a quote that I had
I fell in love with posted to my page quite a while ago. I began to reflect on the quote itself and the implications of it. The quote is from Mark Driscoll, “My life goals? Worship one God! Love one woman! Lead one family! Serve one church! Preach one gospel! Then die and hang out with Jesus!”

In our society we are enamored by the American Dream and setting goals for financial growth throughout our lives, as well as other areas. Yet, this falls completely short of a biblical goal for life. The implications of this quote are stunning. Our life goals must begin with the worship of Almighty God. This worship overflows to how we respond and love our spouse and our children. If we are truly worshipping God with our lives we will be focused on growing in relationship with Him, and doing so according to His ordained path, through His church. Being part of a local assembly of believers where we can be held accountable before God and to each other as we are conformed into the image of Christ.   Then, when we are growing in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, we will be compelled to preach the gospel and make disciples, fulfilling Christ’s command. When we have fulfilled this goal, the hope and joy of being separated from this sinful, fallen world and being able to “hang out”or fellowship intimately with my Savior face to face.

What are you life goals? Mine? “Worship one God! Love one woman! Lead one family! Serve one church! Preach one gospel! Then die and hang out with Jesus!”

The Supremacy of Christ

Colossians 1:15-20, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
I was drawn to this passage after viewing this sermon put to video on youtube by John Piper. The supremacy of Christ and all of its implications are often neglected in this day of weak and watered-down Christianity. We must see and savor the supremacy of Christ. For believers it is to realize the glory and grace of God to be reconciled to Him in spite of our sin. This same supremacy is what will bring God’s unbridled wrath upon His enemies and supply vengeance for the martyred and persecuted Bride of Christ (The Church).
In the following video John Piper proclaims this message of Christ’s supremacy in a way that will draw you to praise Christ for His mercy, love and grace. It is a bit lengthy, but definitely worth the time to watch.

“God hates sin and His wrath is infinite against sin. We are all stamped and defined by sin.” God demands complete perfection and because of our sin we have this wrath of God abiding on us in our unbelief (John 3:36). “The Gospel is your only hope. Christ came into the world and bore the wrath of God…and He performed a righteousness for us that only He could perform, which is now, by faith alone imputed to you. So, you may now, be united to this perfect Christ. Him bearing all the curse, Him providing all the perfection and know that paradise is open. I can know him. I can begin to grow in knowing Him. I can actually begin to enjoy knowing Him. He’s not against me anymore, in fact the wrath of God has so totally absorbed by Jesus and the perfection that I must produce, has been so totally produced and provided by Jesus. That now only one thing governs God’s attitude toward me and that is MERCY!…The best gift of the gospel is seeing and savoring the supremacy of Jesus Christ and we had no access to that joy until he took our place.” – John Piper