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CHURCH AS EKKLESIA, PART II
The ekklesia are the called out followers of Jesus, aka Christians, who in turn are the church. This second look at ekklesia takes one step back from the word to ponder more closely the word’s cultural context. To consider the Greek social practice of ekklesia, before the church came into being, can sharpen our understanding of what it means to be the community of Christ followers.
Originally an ekklesia was an assembly of and for the citizens of a city. In this assembly civic decisions were made to establish and/or ensure good governance. These decisions could involve the appointment and dismissal of magistrates, declarations of war or peace, the raising and allocating of funds and other policy matters pertinent to citizen welfare.
By nature the aspiration for these assemblies was equality and freedom. As a citizen you had a right to be part of the ekklesia but you also had a duty to be actively involved. In an attempt to avoid bias and personal agendas ekklesias had to have a large turnout to make decisions on matters such as having someone banished.
LLOYD HARKNESS revisits the idea of ekklesia - something he first looked at in 2010 (see below)... |
FOR PREVIOUS: THE CHURCH AS EKKLESIA
LLOYD HARKNESS writes about what it means to belong to the 'Body of Christ'... |
Behold. You see the word and immediately you think something auspicious will follow it. In fact, I tend to see the word bold and capitalised. BEHOLD.
The word is 'olde worlde' King James Christianese but it is captivating and there is something more powerful in it than ‘gaze’ or ‘see’.
When we behold our attention is sharp and focussed. We have turned away from or looked away from everything else to focus on the one thing which has captured our eye.
You can see the act of beholding in the look of a student hungry to learn, in the respect given to a friend, in the adoration bound up in love or the admiration in acknowledging a champion.
LLOYD HARKNESS on what it means to not merely look but 'behold'... |
Jesus is meek. He is a meek Messiah who pursued the lost. He chased demons from people and chased off men behaving as demons who mounted up obstacles to keep others from their heavenly Father.
Jesus is meek. He is a meek King who rode on a donkey, rejected the crowd’s manipulation of a mob moment, and dismounted to chase men from the temple who had turned faith into a money-making venture.
Jesus' public ministry was not characterised by inaction or a willingness to let events or people roll on over the top of Him. Even those with political or religious clout who thought they had got the upper hand on Him were subject to Jesus' prayer “Father, not my will but yours be done”.
Jesus was not a man who vaunted Himself nor was He defensive. He knew who He was and what the Father required of Him and His day-to-day response was the prayer offered above. He was power sifted through the template of meekness.
LLOYD HARKNESS looks at what meekness really means (and it's not weak)... |
Caution is the first word to come to mind when considering the perfect or perfection in the Bible. Caution, because a ‘death to self’ and we are ‘going on unto perfection’ message, a message I heard numerous times in my early Christian days, is easily tainted by Pharisaical pride. This is a little ironic, a little crazy, when you reflect on what the New Testament says on this but...it happens.
A pressing on with God message can be underwritten with a look at us, look at what we are doing and look at how we are living (communal farms, businesses and so on) subtext. We are frontrunners in a new look 21st century Christian community and God is doing a perfecting work in our midst because we are willing to die to self to become part of God’s community. And then comes all the human stuff with pride at the head.
As I said, this is a little crazy when the Bible says keep your eyes on Jesus the perfector of your faith. Surprisingly, there is no encouragement to thump your chest because ‘your’ brand of Christians is more Christian than other Christians.
Perfect conjures up the perfect wave or the perfect score or the perfect day or the perfect answer.
LLOYD HARKNESS looks at the concept of perfection... |
Have you ever eaten truffles?
Several years ago my wife and I tried a new restaurant where we were served a free sample of truffles as an appetiser.
Mmmmmmmmm. Yes, they are yum. I now know why pigs get excited when they find them.
We had been invited into the heavenly succour of ‘truffledom’.
Obviously the restaurant wanted us back and they wanted us to buy truffles when we returned.
Jesus played the restaurateur to His followers in that He too offered a foretaste, a savouring, a morsel of what will come.
He did this after His ascension but prior to that He told His disciples when He went He would send the Holy Spirit to dwell richly in their lives. The Holy Spirit would be a counsellor who resides ‘in you’. As a counsellor the Holy Spirit would speak in a twofold manner. He would teach – there were new things to be grasped and lived out as followers of Jesus. He would remind - things said and done would be brought back, made clearer and applicable in following Jesus in the now.
LLOYD HARKNESS writes about how Jesus Christ gives us a taste of what's to come... |
Come follow me.
Come and be my companion.
Come and be joined with me in the way I am going.
Jesus did not offer an alternative to living, eating, sleeping, walking the same roads and doing the same things He did. There was no 'Option B' where you get to sit around in the temple with Him or sit on the banks of the Jordan River just soaking up His teaching sessions
Come follow me Jesus said and still says.
To follow has a range of connotations. There is the slave who walks behind his master. There is the soldier who follows those over him. There is the student who follows the teacher’s instruction. There is the seeker who follows the advice of a respected confidant. There is the citizen who heeds the law. There is the disciple who follows direction.
There is an aspect of all of this in Jesus’ "come follow me".
LLOYD HARKNESS writes about what it means to follow Jesus... |
(BEWARE OF) BOASTING AND SELF-PROMOTION
How is your bulldust detector? Australians like to think theirs is fairly well tuned. Living in a crowded marketplace with the full gamut of claims being made to get our attention, our commitment and our wallet we require a tuned detector. We have to sift and extrapolate and make value judgements daily.
This is the story of the marketplace economy the world over. So we pick up on empty promises and are quick to sidestep hyperbole; that silky fabric of self promotion.
Boasting, or self promotion, is identified as an issue in a handful of New Testament verses.
James, in his letter, speaks of people who buy into the idea of looking to impress others. He says boasting to impress others is an expression of someone with a grandiose view of themselves and their importance. According to James this kind of self promotion is so pernicious he simply declares it to be ‘evil’. It comes from a place of ‘I am the master of my life. Look at what I have, what I have achieved and what I am capable of’.
LLOYD HARKNESS on what the Bible says about boasting and self-promotion... |
JUDGEMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
God’s judgement, the judgement seat of Christ, is a needling subject for some, a source of disquiet for others, and a triumph of God being God for many.
The phrase ‘judgement seat’ in the New Testament is derived from the Greek word bema. Bema can variously refer to a dais, rostrum, tribunal or the place where the foot is set on.
The latter of these references tends to capture the imagination. It seems to involve the idea of a place of decision. Here the foot stands firmly and there is finality on how the matter will stand.
This reminds me of the Stone of Destiny, the stone Scottish kings stood on to be crowned. All authority was invested in the one who stood upon this stone. A far greater authority is invested in Jesus, the Christ.
At the judgement seat deliberations are made. There is a solemnity to the proceedings, a solemnity imbued with an integrity which ensures just judgements.
LLOYD HARKNESS looks at what is meant by the phrase 'judgement seat of Christ'... |
Hellfire and damnation. Hellfire and brimstone. Holy hell: just a touch of irony with that one. Hell’s bells. Hell.
Whatever we may think hell is and entails, the language and imagery applied to it has always been colourful.
While the language may be colourful, for some time now many Australians have been dismissive of its existence. A 2009 Nielsen Poll found 68 per cent of Australians believe in God while only 38 per cent believe in hell.
Expressions such as ‘all my mates will be there’ are symptomatic of a broader view which has turned hell into an insipid, debunked, amorphous nothing which is not worthy of serious intellectual consideration.
Current notions of hell have been fashioned by a jumble of ideas relating to justice, sinfulness, forgiveness and love.
Hell has been making headlines in 2011. LLOYD HARKNESS takes a look at what the Bible says about it... |
Eternity, the word, has a separate and distinct meaning for Australians. Written in fireworks on the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the 2000 Olympic Games Opening Ceremony, eternity was once again being acknowledged as part of Sydney’s history.
Arthur Stace, a bum and petty criminal turned Christian, wrote 'eternity' over 500,000 times, in chalk, on the city’s streets throughout 37 years of penmanship.
A mystique grew around eternity partly because its author remained anonymous for an extended period, partly because of the diligence and copperplate penmanship of the writing, and partly because the word itself is a sermon that can fire our imaginations.
Arthur found a faith based in things eternal when on his own he had trouble changing things temporal.
LLOYD HARKNESS looks at the essence of eternity... |
Ambition and politics, politics and ambition, can be dubious bedfellows and when it comes to the church it can be fatal.
The New Testament largely speaks of the degenerative form of ambition and, in modern terms, would refer to it as a virus that scrambles the circuitry of church community life. Cutthroat competitiveness, or ambition, produces contention, strife and envy and this is largely how the Greek word eritheia has been interpreted into English.
Eritheia has seen quite a meaning shift over time. It originally meant to labour for your day's wages. The definition then narrowed to an attitude towards work which was all about what I am going to get for my work. The focus was less on the working and more on the getting. This stance, in public positions, meant the concept of serving the public was being neutered by a seeking after personal glory and profit.
LLOYD HARKNESS writes about the age-old problem of 'politicking ambition'... |
Stumbling block: such a visual term, or dare I say, a concrete image. I immediately picture square cut and dressed stone; not just a rock but a stone fashioned for a particular purpose.
In the Bible stumbling blocks are twofold in character.
Firstly they are a barrier blocking your path. Not to be too literal they can be a pile of stones, a rock, a fallen tree, a land slip or a washed out road. It is anything that makes it difficult to continue on your set course. You have to climb over, crawl under, bridge the gap or find the shortest detour around it to continue on to your destination. This can be treacherous and at best you will lose time.
The second type of stumbling block is a snare or trap which snaps shut on you. Like an animal lured to bait you stumble into the hunters trap triggering its unalterable mechanism. There is pain involved here. A mistake has been made and sin has snapped tight its ravenous jaws. You have to extricate yourself and tend to the wound. At best time is lost and at worst the injury keeps you from your destination.
LLOYD HARKNESS looks at the nature of stumbling blocks... |
HARDNESS OF HEART
For some people it is one catastrophic event which has knocked their world out of kilter. They disconnect from God in the turmoil they are feeling.
Others do not see the drip, drip, dripping of single actions, values, attitudes, desires or ambitions, not passed through the filter of God’s love, are stalagmite or stalactite in their formation. They encrust the soul and freeze God out.
Hardness of heart. Calcification. It comes in many guises to steal away the love of Christ and replace it with another love. Self love, in some form, is the standard replacement. Choosing ‘another’ rather than God is the definition of a hard heart.
The Exodus generation of Israelites proved to be hard of heart.
It can be easy to forget your history with God when faced with a fresh challenge. The Israelites fell into arguing and quarrelling when faced with no water in the desert. Their situation was hard and their hearts likewise hardened. Despite their previous experiences of God under Moses leadership, especially in terms of God’s provision, which is where they were being tested again, they were angry with God and ready to abandon Him and Moses to follow their own path, like the golden calf incident.
LLOYD HARKNESS on why we need to guard against a hard heart... |
CALLED OF GOD
God told me. God has called me.
I have no problem with these statements; in fact I take great delight in them; other than when the self-appointed, or would-be-self-appointed, throw them around as some sort of mystical Christianese (Christian lingo) for private ambitions to which they claim God has put His signature.
And to not put too fine a judgmental nib in my pen here, I hasten to add there are the honestly misguided who have fallen into this self-positioning through the culture of a given church or some other exigent circumstance.
The call of God, however, is not about where we position ourselves but where God positions us and my opening comment is directed at the religiously deluded who have taken a swig of Pharisee wine; or a mouthful of leaven if you want to be literal.
I start this Word piece in this way because something as significant as the call of God on a person’s life shouldn’t have the life sucked from it by quasi religious or false notions.
LLOYD HARKNESS on God's calling... |
The taunt - "Greedy guts. Greedy guts. Greedy guts."
The creed - "Greed is good."
The idiom - "The more you get the more you want."
We know the lines, whether they stem from childhood archives or explorations on film.
Greed...One of the seven deadly sins.
But is it? Is it deadly? I mean...really?
In a Western world, where the focus of life is drawn to attaining a certain lifestyle, do we still think of greed as lethal?
We recognise greed in extreme cases of grafting and consumption, of clamouring and pushing aside. Beyond that do we still see greed, do we recognise it?
You do not have to go all Gordon Gekkoish to believe a little wanting this and that helps fuel the work ethic and stimulates the economy. So how do we assess greed and its effect?
LLOYD HARKNESS tries not to be greedy with his words... |
I remember when talk of being an overcomer was something new, a promise rediscovered, a hope to be embraced, an authority to be anchored in your spirit.
Along the corridors of time it grew a little mouldy, became a little tainted. It is easy for a touch of spiritual pride to come in when your church culture is defining you as an overcomer in an overcoming church.
So I trust this Word piece will scrape back any mould which might linger on the topic of being an overcomer. The golden truth that Christians are made to be overcomers in Christ cannot afford to be discoloured with a hue of over-confidence, pride or self righteousness. Likewise, doubt, despair or a lukewarm response to Christ calling us to be overcomers, in and through Him, is not to blacken His calling.
LLOYD HARKNESS on being an 'overcomer'... |
God is the creator. The creator is God. Only God could be the creator and only the creator could be God. God is the self-existent one who is was and always will be. He is life and He gives life. He is the life of the cosmos and He is its source.
God is life. He is the fire that burns without consuming the bush, as Moses witnessed. He is light and life independent of all He has created.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1: 1) This isn’t a fable nor a once-upon-a-time story. The Bible’s ‘beginning’ reveals God Almighty at work creating. God did not create with pre-existing eternal materials. The heavens and earth are not eternal. God created.
He is the author and sculptor who brings light out of darkness and order out of chaos. He speaks and it is.
LLOYD HARKNESS looks the difference between the creator and creation... |
Mary anointing Jesus' feet; Peter broken at his thrice denial of being a disciple of Jesus; and, Peter, James and John somewhat agog on Mt Transfiguration. These are some of the positions of humility we can find ourselves in when we walk with Jesus.
In each of these situations, and more, humility comes through as a position of strength because it is centred in trust in God. It is strength and not weakness because it draws confidence from knowing God and knowing ourselves in relation to God.
In some people’s minds humility embraces church mouse mildness and allowing yourself to just be used. That is a misconception.
Humility is about making clear decisions to serve, even as Jesus came to serve and not be served.
LLOYD HARKNESS humbly submits some thoughts on, well, humility... |
THE CHURCH AS EKKLESIA
Welcome to ekklesia. Welcome to church. You are now a part of the ‘called out’. Having the same point of origin, dead in sin, you are now in the exceedingly better situation of the born again.
Welcome to the community of believers, to the band of Christians local, worldwide and in heaven. Welcome.
No-one hailed me in this way when I became a Christian but I have more than an inkling this was heaven’s resound.
That born again moment not only tied me to Christ with its resultant cross-carrying and following but it also connected me to others who had also bowed their knee to Jesus.
I was a part of The One: one family, one body, one flock, one temple, and one vine.
I was a part of The One With Many: many relatives, many biological entities, many sheep, many stones, and many branches.
LLOYD HARKNESS writes about what it means to belong to the 'Body of Christ'... |
What hope is.
What hope is not.
What hope is.
What hope is not.
I decided to go for the piebald effect with this word piece and trust that in doing so it will illuminate a sharper portrait.
Firstly, hope is energy astir guided by a perceived, or more accurately received, reality which will materialise.
Hope is not anchored by possibility. That would be too open to wavering. It’s anchor is a more limpet like certainty which is fixed to The Rock, Christ our foundation, our salvation.
Foundational to a Christian’s received reality is seeing God active in creation, unfolding a salvation plan both intimate and intrinsically good, as is He.
This revelation has the capacity to carry a Christian beyond the immediate and short term, a characteristic essential in the seasons of life when there is a valley cast in shadow to be traversed.
LLOYD HARKNESS on what hope is...and isn't... |
Patience is a virtue...or so the old cliché goes. It might not rate among the big three of faith, hope and charity but...it is a virtue.
I wonder if it still carries the same potency, the same status, in a generation hooked on the instant?
When we can so readily get annoyed if things don’t have a rapid response, if things can’t be dealt with immediately or if there is not an instant reply, do we see value in things that stretch our patience?
We need to recapture the poetry in the language connected to patience, the poetry that is patience in motion.
Patience is not giving up, not losing heart, persevering bravely, and having a 'long spirit'. I especially like the latter image in this group.
"You have a long spirit". What a great compliment to pay someone. It is different enough to make a person pause and consider the value that is being heralded.
In an article that took a long time coming, LLOYD HARKNESS takes a look at patience... |
Kneaded leaven, by character, diffuses itself throughout the dough and remains hidden until its work is done. Once it has penetrated, you can sit back and wait for a transformation silently, secretly secured.
The fermentation process involved in leavening has literary allusions to disintegration and decay. Hence it often symbolises corruption, uncleanness, malice, wickedness, tainted doctrine and such.
And only a little, a wee bit, a dram, a dollop is required. So states the laws of culinary presentiment. And Jesus.
One sinner, one dose of legalism, one malicious act, or one distorted miscast portrait of Christ can leaven itself through a whole community.
On at least one occasion, though, Jesus aligned leaven with wholesomeness and life. He said the Gospel is working silently within, transforming lives and communities, being the energising force of God’s kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. The Gospel, as leaven, creating a scrumptious bread, which is the staff of life, breaks the mould (sorry about the pun) of standard references to leaven.
LLOYD HARKNESS examines the Biblical meaning of leaven... |
What an unusual choice of words.
Theology, the Bible, can hardly lay claim to ownership of hate.
But the word certainly has its place in any Christian approach to life, to others, to God.
So there must be more to hate or hating other that arriving at the point where you are fuming and that bubbling emotion has been festering for some time.
There is more to hate than recognising that if you are seeing someone as "the disease upon the puss upon the dirt upon the scum upon the backside of a maggot eating its way through the rotting flesh of a road kill" then you are not in a healthy place.
And if all that gushing ill will is vented upon someone... well...
Maybe Christians need some new material on the topic - ‘The five languages of hate’... and such.
Yes, I am being frivolous but, hey, if I am going to talk about hate then the least I could do is write a light-hearted introduction.
Hate needs to be better understood. Thinking of hate as just the opposite of love will only take us so far in dealing with it.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a deeper look at what hate is all about... |
Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He is the Lion of the tribe of Judah. His power and His authority rest in His character, His divinity and His humanity.
Yet there is another title which qualifies and establishes his authority and power which at first appearance may seem contradictory.
Jesus is The Lamb of God.
He is The Lamb who takes away the sins of the world. The reality and nature of His life sacrificed for our restoration to God the Father bespeaks a level of miraculous power and love which is hard to comprehend.
Jesus is the fulfilment of the Passover.
And beyond this even is the fact that it is The Lamb who is the consummate image and abiding portrayal of Jesus in The Revelation. The Lamb is the one who is there at the end of what currently is and the beginning of what will be. It is The Lamb who has the power, authority, honour and dignity to wrap up what is and reveal what will be.
LLOYD HARKNESS reflects on The Lamb... |
THE WORD THAT IS A FLASHPOINT
I am going to do it. No. Yes. Yes! Here it comes. Hang the consequences. Stuff the turn-off factor. Damn the quick to judge. Well, you know what I mean. And sorry to those who have been wounded in this area…but I do hope this will be healing balm.
Money! There. I said it. I could not quite bring myself to saying it in the opening paragraph but here I am going to say it again...Money!
It is a subject we are all a little bit touchy about in varying ways and for various reasons but this Word piece is on legalism and money. So I hope you are ready to read on.
Money, the getting of it and the redistributing of it...Ah, there lies the nub of a delicate matter.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a look at, well, an unmentionable... |
Living in a society, which in recent times has been more willing to talk about forgiveness and the need to ‘say sorry’, particularly in respect to some of our indigenous Australian history, gives cause to reflect on the bigger concept of grace.
God’s grace, in our life, has always had the capacity to radically reshape us through salvation and the outworking of that experience over the remainder of our days on this green and blue globe.
Equally, God’s grace in our hands has been distorted and rendered impotent when used as an escape clause for pursuing our ‘fallen’ interests or agenda. The New Testament church had problems in this area when people took licence in matters ranging from sex to money to misuse of the communal Lord’s Supper.
LLOYD HARKNESS examines what 'grace' really means... |
(GOD IS) ONE
“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”
Being born A.D. we tend to read a verse such as this, in the Old Testament, with the knowledge Jesus brought to the Trinity. We read ‘the Lord is One’ and part of what we compute is God is three-in-one yet indivisible. To do so is fine but it can cause us to miss the revelation of One, a revelation which enmeshed Israel to God. So this time around we will focus on God the One.
God is one. He is Alpha. He is the beginning.
As one, God is first and foremost. As one, God is primary in all things. As one, God is independent of all others and the origin of all. As one, God is indivisible and whole; devoid of inner conflict, doubt, hesitation or recrimination.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a look at why it's important to understand that God is One... |
OF JUDGING AND BEING JUDGEMENTAL
Somewhere in the mishmash of modern political correctness and the gospel of acceptance and tolerance the line between making sound judgements and being judgemental has been blurred.
This is not new. Jesus had quite a bit to say on this topic in combating misunderstandings in his day. Thankfully, his example and teaching make clarifying the difference between judging and being judgemental much simpler.
Jesus butted heads against a form of religious correctness rather than political correctness. This doctrinaire said life is about fulfilling religious obligations through observing a series of expanding interpretations of laws. Instead of allowing people to draw near to God it squeezed the love of God out of people’s lives. The religious correctness of the Pharisees and teachers of the law was infused with a self-righteousness on matters ranging from foods to eat or not, circumcision, Sabbath observances and even the tricky problem of tithing mint, herbs and other condiments.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a look at how Jesus differentiates between making a sound judgement and being judgemental... |
There is something very tribal about the office of elders. The concept, the role is immersed in tribal relationships. Before you become an elder you must first be tribal.
An elder has a connectedness with the people, his people. An elder is of the people, of the tribe. Before you become an elder you have to be born into the tribe and grow and live and breathe the fortunes and fates of the tribe and the decisions your elders make.
Elders are ‘centred’ in the tribe. The tribe is who they are. By the time someone becomes an elder, age and experience have merged in their decision making so much so that what is important to the tribe takes precedence over personal wishes, family connections or any other bias. Well...that is the kind of elder you would be praying for.
LLOYD HARKNESS examines what it means to hold the office of elder... |
Easter is Easter Sunday. We tend to think of Easter as an extended long weekend but Easter is resurrection Sunday. Even the origins of the word speak of a shining, the dawn of a new day breaking forth from the east. Resurrection day has no parallel. Jesus walking among his followers again after the horror of crucifixion has no parallel. Eternity, as revealed by Jesus in teaching and in life has no parallel.
Bede, ‘the father of English history’, suggests the term Easter had its roots in paganism and worship of the goddess of the sunrise, Eastre. Worship was clearly redefined when pagans became Christians and the light which was darkness gave way to ‘the light of the world’. Jesus is the ‘bright morning star’, the one who is bringing many sons and daughters to glory with him.
For us Westerners, living in the instant world, thinking of Easter as one day might be fraught with token acknowledgement. Historically, the lead-up to and the follow on from that one momentous day engrained in believers, the mind and heart expanding power of, Jesus' resurrection.
LLOYD HARKNESS explores the meaning of Easter... |
THE FEAR OF GOD
How do you love someone and fear them? How can love and fear blend in one person so that their relationship with God is healthy?
The fear of God is an issue which addresses who we are to be and who God is. On the one hand we are to “love the Lord our God with all our heart...” but in tension with that heart response is the instruction to “fear God”.
Should there be tension in our relationship with God? Hardly! The kind of tension I am referring to here is not the hallmark of a healthy relationship. So how can love and fear together bring us closer to God?
Firstly, we need to establish what the fear of God is. Our initial feeling might be that fear distances a person on a relational level that it is the antithesis of intimacy and wholeness and connection. Clearly, the Bible speaks of a holy fear which draws us to God, not a fear that pushes us away from him.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a look at what it really means to "fear" God... |
OF MISSIONS AND MISSSIONARIES
When we think of missions and missionaries there is a tendency for our thoughts to turn to overseas, to great sacrifices, to Mother Teresa-types who are just one step down from sainthood. There is almost an elitist view here where this type of mission is seen as the pinnacle of serving Jesus and fulfilling His great commandment of taking the Gospel into the entire world.
Is this all there is to missions? Hardly. Is there a problem in seeing one form of following Jesus as a statement that you have really arrived or come-of-age when you do this? Definitely.
Let’s start with Christ’s mission. His mission was to reveal God’s love and the cornerstone of that revelation was to pay the penalty for our sins so as to make it possible for us to be saved. Working in conjunction with the Father and the Holy Spirit He took this message throughout Galilee, Judea and Samaria.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a look at what it means to be on a mission from God... |
In these days of self realisation and self actualisation and self and self and self, many people seem to have lost the conviction that there are simply some things we cannot do for ourselves.
'What do I need to be saved from' is no longer a question but a statement. Whether this is said arrogantly or mildly perplexed it does not really matter. The point is there is a mindset which has grown in society that says; “I’m alright. What are you on about?”
A few years ago a bumper sticker that got a bit of mileage read “Jesus saves”. One bloke who I was car pooling with saw the sticker and said; “saves you from what?” For him, the need for a Saviour was a slightly bizarre and somewhat amusing concept.
This most fundamental understanding of the Christian faith - that Jesus came to save the lost and set captives free - is being lost amidst the voices of ‘isms’. Materialism. Humanism. Relativism. And so on.
LLOYD HARKNESS explores one of the cornerstones of the Christian faith - our need for a Saviour... |
The kingdom of heaven, the kingdom Jesus was ushering in through His ministry, has at its core a set of values on the use of power and authority and what is significant and who is significant that rattles the cages of much of what today's kingdoms deem effective, appropriate and useful.
Central to this topsy-turvy understanding of God's kingdom is Jesus' comments on "the least".
For a start, anyone and everyone who is born (via a born again experience) into God's kingdom is in a far more privileged situation then even the greatest, and last, of the old covenant prophets, John the Baptist.
"The least," says Jesus, "the least, or the person lacking the most of everything including dignity and worth, is greater than John." (Luke 7:38. Matthew 11:11.)
LLOYD HARKNESS takes at what it means to be 'the least' in the kingdom of God... |
is one of those words which have a quaint Victorian charm
to it; except perhaps when we are discussing the weather.
Then we are more likely to conjure up images of balmy days
which are neither too hot nor too cold.
I say Victorian charm because it was the era of Temperance
Unions and 'temperate' family portraits. Standing or sitting
each family is almost universally steady-eyed, unsmiling and
the essence of sobriety. Those black and white or sepia photographs
project sternness, with their buttoned and tightly laced-up
visages, a sternness which affirms their sober, temperate,
But both quaint history and our perceptions of the
weather miss the Biblical point of what it means to be temperate.
LLOYD HARKNESS examines
how the Bible uses the word temperate... |
(A CHRISTMAS CONTEMPLATION)
will magnify the Lord,
For He is worthy to be praised."
So goes the somewhat dated chorus whose lyrics, drawn
from the Psalms, elicit a realisation that God is God and
we are His creation. But the reality of magnifying God should
never date despite the fact that using the word in the sense
of "glorifying" is now almost archaic.
To magnify God is to see Him through eyes whose pupils
have dilated in awe. He is "enlarged" in the sense
that we have begun to see Him more clearly.
This is the experience of Mary. Her hymn of joy, traditionally
titled The Magnificat, taken from the first word
she utters, is a celebratory song extolling God, salvation
and life. (Luke 1:46-55)
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a
close look at what it means to magnify... |
something is manifest it is clear, it is uncovered, it is
visible and it is laid bare for all to see. You could even
say that it shines like neon and consequently is irrefutable.
Thus a manifestation cannot be ignored or contradicted.
It is with this understanding that I'd
like to look at some New Testament verses which speak of something
being manifest or appearing. In fact, I'd like to take a very
different approach for this Sight posting and ask
1. Read each verse in your Bible.
2. Read each summary statement I've posted.
3. Say, after each verse and statement: 'This is clear. This
is irrefutable. This is a fact.'
By doing this I trust it will be a threefold
"Amen" to the manifest wisdom of God and that each
declaration will build your faith.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a
different approach in looking behind the meaning of "manifest"... |
so many titles and portraits of God given in the Bible, it's
hard to appreciate Him, and His heart for humanity, if we
limit our understanding to one or two common or favourite
profiles. In some way we need to merge them all into a Holy
Spirit polyglot hymn of love, joy and gratitude as we respond
When we think of the heart of God the more
dominant title and portrait tends to be God as our heavenly
father. God the Father is fundamental to our understanding
of the Trinity and probably Jesus' best known parable speaks
of God the Father and how He deals with a wayward son.
What is equally important to keep in mind
when meditating on the heart of God for humanity, however,
is the portrait of God as our husband.
LLOYD HARKNESS explores
the idea of God as husband... |
have been to churches over the last decade where people have
held aloft banners or flags during times of singing and worship.
What is that all about? Why this very visual expression of
what is clearly meant to be a God honouring act? As a banner
is a rallying standard I assume the congregation is being
encouraged to march, do battle, live out their lives, under
"The 12 tribes of Israel marched and camped under their
own banners. Even more significant for them was the fact Moses
had given God the name Jehovah-nissi, which means 'The Lord
is my Banner' ."
So what does the Bible say about banners?
The 12 tribes of Israel marched and camped
under their own banners. Even more significant for them was
the fact Moses had given God the name Jehovah-nissi, which
means "The Lord is my Banner" (Exodus 17:15). This
expression of the relationship between God and his people
grew out of a battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites.
LLOYD HARKNESS checks out
what the Bible has to say about the use of banners... |
baptism is a term the majority of people are well aware of,
even if they haven't experienced it, so this 'Word' piece
will confine itself to the background to baptism.
Quite simply, baptism is about cleansing,
fresh starts and a new life.
The Old Testament has two great figurative
representations of baptism. The first was Noah and his family
who were rescued from the flood and given a new start in a
new land. The second was the Israelites passing through the
Red Sea. They left behind a life of slavery to take up an
abundant life God was offering them in a promised land.
But baptism, as a personal expression of
a life committed to God, takes off with John the Baptist.
John didn't come up with the idea of baptism. The Jews required
Gentile converts to Judaism to be baptised as part of their
public identification with and commitment to Jehovah, the
Lord God Almighty.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a
look at the origins of baptism... |
guessing game is over. Creative stories about crossing the
River Styx, fanciful dreams of reincarnated souls, or stepping
off into nothing after the biological clock has wound itself
out, are all notions shredded by Jesus' resurrection.
The evidence is in. Jesus was no illusionist
- not in life, not in death, not in resurrection.
The healings, the miracles, the confrontations
with religious leaders, the teaching, the spirit of the man;
drew crowds and transformed lives. The life of Jesus was no
The flagellation, the thorny crown, the
battered and exhausted cross-carrying body, the pierced wrist
and ankles, the gasping lungs, the spear thrust through his
side to be certain; brought not only the centurion to the
conclusion "Surely this was the Son of God". Jesus'
death was no illusion.
LLOYD HARKNESS says Jesus'
resurrection is at the very heart of what it means to be a
firstfruits' is a significant Biblical term that carries a
foundational understanding of God and His desire to be actively
engaged in the lives of His creation.
It defies the concept of a God who having
created the universe, like some perfect Swiss watch, now stands
back with His hands in his pockets waiting for the thing to
go kaput at Armageddon; when Jesus will create a new heaven
and earth, a new finely-tuned digital Swiss watch.
This term also stresses the life of faith
we are called to live.
LLOYD HARKNESS finds something
to chew over when he takes a look at the word 'firstfruits'... |
and books have been written on the topic of intercessory prayer.
What I hope you get from this short exploration of the word
is an image of what is transpiring when you intercede and
a taste of the Spirit at work in this way.
In intercession you are praying on behalf
of someone else. It carries the idea of being in the court
of a king. You have come before his throne knowing that all
power is in his hands. He can grant you wealth and property
or strip you of it. He can grant you a pardon for your crimes
or pronounce a death sentence on you. He can adjudicate in
all matters pertaining to his kingdom and as a just king he
is only answerable to truth and love. As his reign is guided
by these principles everyone respects and abides by his decisions.
LLOYD HARKNESS takes a
look at what it really means to intercede... |
HARKNESS delves into the meaning behind the word atonement... |
LLOYD HARKNESS on a completely different sort
of word - milk... |
HARKNESS takes a look at the meaning of holiness... |
HARKNESS writes of the glory of God... |
HARKNESS delivers a blessing...
| more... |
HARKNESS on what it means to cleave...|
LLOYD HARKNESS examines the meanings of
HARKNESS takes a look at what worship really means...
LLOYD HARKNESS explores the Biblical meaning of what
is means to be "like-minded"... |
HARKNESS takes a look at the meaning of trespasses...
ANDREW MERRY looks at the meaning behind
the Greek word kairos...
| more... |