The Mystery of the Absence of The Mystery Of Christ and the Church

Luke records the conversion of Saul three times in the book of Acts (Acts 9, 22 and 26) and also tells Peter’s vision twice (Acts 10 and 11) and alludes to it once (Acts 15:7-11). Why are these two events repeated three times each? Any relationship?

Of course, there is, why else would I ask the question?

The relationship between both events is that something new is going on with Gentiles, expanding the Jewish mindset of the Gospel. New things are under way.

Saul was converted to focus on a ministry to Gentiles. Peter’s vision was to get him to see Gentiles as clean and open his mind to the possibilities of the Spirit among the Gentiles.

Perhaps this isn’t a big deal for us Gentiles, but this was a huge shift for Jewish thinking. But what exactly was going on here? Why is this such a big deal for Luke?

Many conclude that the point is that Gentiles can now be saved. But this is not the point; Gentiles could always be saved, ask Jonah.

The significance of what’s going on in the NT between Jews and Gentiles is that being a Jew or Gentile no longer matters! God is calling out a new people, a new spiritual people.

This new people are in Christ and become known as “The Church.” This is a big huge deal, one with amazing consequences that we rarely consider. Paul later refers to this as “the mystery.”

Not only does Luke give much attention to it, Paul speaks of it numerous times. A quick glance through Catholic, Reformed, Puritan or modern day theology shows you that we completely miss the significance. There is mention of the word “mystery” in various theologies, but the mystery of Christ, the Church, is almost entirely ignored. Wonder why that is?

Ah, another question I would not have asked if I didn’t think I had the answer!

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Seven Thoughts on the Fear of God

1) Fearing God is a big deal in the Bible. It especially seems so (according to the numbers) in the Old Testament. The phrase “fear the Lord” appears 29 times in the OT and only once in the NT.

Perhaps the reason why is because Israel had a covenant related to their physical Promised Land and their obedience was directly tied to physical blessing or cursing. Therefore, even if they were saved, they could still get mightily nailed by God.

David, once again, is the perfect example. The “man after God’s own heart” lost his son because of David’s adultery. Thousands were killed because David counted the people. Fear is a big deal because God could strike.

Although the NT speaks of chastening and reaping what you sow, God’s judgments do not occur as they did in the OT on such strikingly obvious and spectacular levels. I do not think this point is debatable, but knowing Christians, it probably is.

2) The problem with God showing His wrath through spectacular judgment is that it gets old. God showed up on Mount Horeb to “make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me.”

There was smoke, lightning, thunder, earthquake, etc, and yet forty days into this fireworks show the people were worshiping a golden cow.

In order to keep the fear going, the judgments had to keep flowing. When the judgments stopped, they became self-satisfied, and thought God was just like them. Hey, we’re not dead, we must be good with God!

3) Fearing God is still an issue in the New Testament and I think we should be careful not to base the importance of doctrines based on numbers. Fearing God is a New Testament concept.

4) Instead of God taking David’s son for David’s adultery, God took His own Son. Knowing that deliverance comes from God, that forgiveness comes from Him and Him alone results in fear. He’s our only hope. We ought not take Him lightly.

God still hates sin, whether He judges it immediately or delays it. Whether Christ takes the punishment or we do, there is reason to fear. Fear, however, is not the only aspect of our relationship with God, but it must be part.

5) If fear is not present, I do not see how love and peace and comfort can be part of our relationship with God either. If we don’t know why we fear, how can we be sufficiently comforted?

6) If Christ’s death and resurrection result in no fear toward God, you are not hearing the Gospel correctly!

7) If believers do not fear God, what sort of testimony does this give to the non-believer? As Paul said, “Knowing the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” We know what God’s wrath is, as He has told us. We know what brings it. If this means anything to us, we will warn men.

The fear of God is a big concept, these are merely snippets of many thoughts. I hope some are helpful.

Crucifix Crushes Man’s Leg

“David Jimenez believed his devotion to a crucifix was responsible for his wife being cured of cancer. Well, the crucifix fell on him, crushing one of his legs.”

Jimenez asked the church if he could clean the crucifix, so the church let him. While cleaning it, it toppled and crushed his leg. he is now suing the church!

God Will Never Leave You. Act Like That Matters.

So, if God is to be feared, what would life look like if we actually did fear Him? Any ideas? Are we constantly trembling, looking over our shoulder for God’s right arm of justice to smash us? Are we too petrified to go out the door for fear of the Lion of Judah in the street?

On the contrary, a life lived in fear of God is a life that appears confident, free of anxiety, and not moved by the shifting opinions of people.

We enjoy flopping out some phrases from Hebrews 13 from time to time to sooth ourselves when our phone doesn’t allow us to text and that one light is blinking in the car again and the whole world is, like, totally against us. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” We put on our Facebook status with the obligatory :)

We might even follow it up with “The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me” when the mechanic tried to overcharge us for getting the blinky light to go off. Don’t you even!

Ah yes, modern Christian self-help. It’s enough to make you want to vomit and yet boy howdy, that vomit looks good, might go back to it for a snack later.

Yup.

Note the context of these phrases “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.  So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.”

Someone who truly believes the Lord is with them so they need not fear man, has a life free of covetousness and filled with contentment. Our desires for iPads and cars and fancy clothes and pretty much everything, shows that we don’t really know who God is. He’s not our treasure; we just want Him to help us get more of our treasures.

We’re sick, sick people.

The larger context of these verses is about love, love of strangers, love of imprisoned believers, love in marriage, love of those who teach you from God’s Word.

You can’t love unless you are free of selfishness and worry. You can’t be free of selfishness and worry until you know God for who He is and He sets you free from yourself and replaces you with Him. It’s a beautiful thing.

Instead we’ll be distracted by the new double thick burger commercial and not think about this again.

Main Source of Pastoral Depression

I’ve been around Christians plenty. Here’s a thing I have observed:

The “Christians” with the most problems in life also have a tendency to take sin very lightly. When they tell their tale of woe, they appear as the only innocent party involved. Yet they are always trying new things and reading a new book and going here and there to take care of their problems. Expending energy to deal with the fruit of their sin while maintaining their innocence.

It’s a mind-boggling thing and I’ve seen it a lot. Never once do they see their own sin and, if by chance they do see it for a second, never seem to correlate their sin with their results. They excel at the inability to correlate present action with future results.

If they simply got real with their sin, humbled themselves for a second so they might be taught, and then sought God for the answer to the problems their sins have produced, they’d get somewhere.

Instead they keep running around, tossed about with every wind of doctrine, ever learning but never coming to the truth. This, however, is not unique to Christianity.

“Yet thou sayest, ‘Because I am innocent, surely his anger shall turn from me.’ Behold, I will plead with thee, because thou sayest, ‘I have not sinned.’Why gaddest thou about so much to change thy way?”

They maintain innocence because they aren’t getting judged, meanwhile there is whining about all the problems they have and all their proposed solutions. Guess what? All your solutions will fail until you come to God.

It’s sad. You can’t make people come to God. They have to go. One of the main sources of pastoral depression is the ability to see solutions that no one wants. Not content with life? Main reason is because you’re not listening to God.

“If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”