Leon Morris (03/15/1914 – 7/24/2006) Gentleman Scholar

Just read about the death of Leon Morris

Obviously I had never met him, but I am very familiar with his writings, from his doctoral dissertation (Aplostolic Preaching of the Cross in 1951) to his later works on the New Testament. In fact, I have many of his writings especially on John. He was a fine scholar and an excellent writer. While we mourn his passing, we rejoice in his victory over sin, death, and the devil.

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“… After God’s Heart”

Mission Focus


Grow Up!

The Great Commission of “making disciples” is a lifelong adventure. Sadly, many have equated confirmation instruction with “graduation,” and then assume that they “learned it all in confirmation.” Nothing could be further from the truth. The end of formal catechism is really the beginning of a lifelong study of God’s Word. Peter wrote: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

So the goal of every Christian is to “grow up”! That means we study God’s Word — publicly in Bible classes and privately by ourselves. For us as Christians we can never grow tired or bored with God’s Word. He is revealing himself and his salvation. Nothing is more important than that!

The challenge lays before each of us: Am I studying God’s Word? If not, why not? Perhaps we feel inadequate — I have often heard this statement: “I don’t know enough to go to Bible class.” Then Bible class is the very place to be! How else can we learn? Take advantage of the Pastor’s background and education and others who have spent years studying God’s Word. Listen and learn. When you go home from Bible class, follow the example of the Berean Christians (“… they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true,” Acts 17:11).
Only as we are growing as Christians can we then be actively involved in Biblical evangelism/mission. Our message is Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2). We need to get the message straight — and we do that as we grow up (in the knowledge and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ)!

Grow Out!

Evangelism/Mission cannot be done in a spiritual vacuum. Thus, as we grow up, we also grow out. Our increasing knowledge of God and his grace means that we develop a heart after God’s heart. God is very clear in his Word about what he desires (“…wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth,” 1 Timothy 2:4).

As we explore God’s Word we discover that God uses people and events to achieve his saving purpose (Genesis 12:1-3; Exodus 7-14; Isaiah 45:1; Luke 1:26-38;1 Timothy 1:15; etc.). The Old Testament is filled with references to God’s desire to reach the farthest ends of the earth with love and mercy (i.e., Isaiah 49:6; Acts 1:6-8). Disciples of Jesus Christ will desire to reach the same.

So where is the “mission field”? For many of us , we imagine that “mission work” involves language study and traveling to far away lands. So “mission” became synonymous with that narrow view. However, are you aware that the countries in Africa send more Christian missionaries to the United States, than the U.S. sends to Africa? That’s right, the U.S. is a mission field!

Should this surprise us? After all, mission work in the Bible always started at home (Acts 1:8). Thus, mission work is an essential part of congregational life. Even without the immigration of millions to the U.S., we have had a great mission field here; many of our neighbors and co-workers do not know Jesus Christ. With immigration increasing, the (home) mission fields are ripe for harvest (Luke 10:2). In greater Kansas City, we face this new reality. In fact, more than 100 native languages are represented in just one school district! And we don’t have to live in a metropolitan area to have contact with this new mission field.

I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it. (1 Corinthians 9:22-23 NAS)

My focus for the coming years will be to equip pastors and congregations in three ways: 1) find ways to grow spiritually in Bible study (grow up) 2) explore congregational outreach and growth opportunities (grow out), and 3) equip those congregations that are prepared to start new mission congregations (grow out).

Regaining time

I have not posted much on many boards in the last few months because of a major project. I took my mother’s hand-written 300 page manuscript and transferred it to the computer, then scanned 100+ photos, re-touched them, edited the document (many times), laid it out in a page layout program. I finished making the last PDF yesterday – after spending an additional 15 hours over the weekend to meet my own deadline. Now for a final proof and I can send to the printers for printing/binding. I should have the proof of the whole book in 2-3 weeks, then hope to have all copies printed/bound by late May.

Doesn’t sound like much, but I have a 9 hours/day analyst position plus 2 hour commute; during this same time period I helped start a Bible College and taught half the courses, and I preach/teach 1-2 times per week in addition to that. It took 5 years – sending each section of each chapter to my mother to edit, re-edit, add more material. She has a diary entry for every day back to 1934.

I ended up using Papyrus XI (for Mac OS X, but also available for Windows), purchasing it in December. Originally I was going to use Word, but with auto numbering of photos, chapters, parts, etc. Word can become unstable. And I didn’t need that. It worked very well. And I made the PDFs directly in OS X – and the proof prints of some of the photos are almost as good as the originals.

So, I am relieved, excited, and just trying to regain a sense of time, sleep, etc. Now I begin preparations to teach several Biblical sessions at TAALC Convention in June.

Oh, and this week I am interviewing for a manager of analytics position…

Good thing I haven’t had too much to distract me. 😉

Discipleship: The 4th R

Response

Hebrews 10:24-25

Review:
Renewal How did I renew my mind this week?

What made that difficult?

How did I share that with someone this week?

Introduction:
In Hebrews the writer warns these Jewish Christians not to revert back to the legalism of Judaism, following rules to please God and earn heaven. The writer sets the foundation



Hebrews 9:27-10:2

27 And just as it is appointed for people to die once—and after this, judgment — 28 so also the Messiah, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for Him.

1 Since the law has [only] a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of those realities, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year.


Do I face the possibility of going back to the Law to see how good I am?

How does it feel to be under the Law?

What does Romans 8:1 say to me?
(“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”)

What is the connection to worship?


Hebrews 10:19-22
19 Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that He has inaugurated for us, through the curtain (that is, His flesh); 21 and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled [clean] from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.


The privilege of right standing with God means that the Christian can come into the presence of God with confidence. What is the basis of that confidence?

1
2
3

What am I encouraged to do? (vv. 19, 22)



Hebrews 10:22-25
23 Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25 not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.


A right relationship with God leads (supernaturally) to do what?
In v. 23
In v. 24
In v. 25

Response is directed in two ways:
1.
2.

What word is the real problem for me in v. 25?

Conclusion: Let’s R.A.P. Up!

Response:
What is my response to God this week? In worship? In fellowship? In finances?

Attitude:
How do I approach worship? (Review Acts 2:42-47; See also Psalm 122:1)

Purpose:
Reconciliation leads to new relationships, which leads to renewal through Word and Sacrament. Our response is always a response to God’s grace.

How then should I/we live?

How can I pursue this with others at our church home?

Renewal (3rd Discipleship R)

Renewal
Romans 12:1-2

Review: Relationship
How did you do with your reconciled relationships this week?
How did you share that with someone this week?

Introduction:
The theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans is “justified by grace through faith”; in other words, Paul lays out the plan of salvation. In chapters 1-8 Paul presents the doctrine, in chapters 9-11 he deals with the special case of Israel, then in chapters 12-16 Paul looks at the practical application of salvation.



Theme verses: 1:16-17
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

See also Philippians 3:8-9
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ -the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Righteousness is used often in the New Testament – with three Biblical uses of the word:

…of God. This refers to the characteristic of God Himself. God does not live up to a standard, rather whatever God does is right.
…of the demand for us to live up to the righteous standards of God. (Romans 3:10, 23)
…of the gift that is accounted to the person who believes in Jesus Christ. (Romans 3:21-22)

Where do I see myself relative to these?

Why does it matter?

What does Romans 8:1 say to me?



Romans 12:1-2

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is -his good, pleasing and perfect will.

“Therefore” is the transition from doctrine to practice. It means “In light of everything that I have written.”

See also
Titus 3:5-6
2 Peter 3:18
Philippians 1:6

According to Romans 12:1 what are Christians to do?

What is the basis of that urging?

How does that relate to my worship life (in actual practice)?

Conforming: What are some examples of conforming to the world?

Some misunderstand Paul, that he is advocating “removing” the mind. But Paul writes that the transformation occurs by renewing the mind. How do I renew my mind?

What does Paul tell us in Titus 3:5-6 about this process?

A book was written about 40 years ago, entitled The Half-Known God referring to the Holy Spirit. Is that still true for me?

When Paul says that “you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is,” the Christian discovers the truth of God’s promises and purposes. What does that say to me about living out the renewal of my life in Christ?


Conclusion: Let’s R.A.P. Up!

Renewal:
Renewal is the living out and growth that God works in the life of the Christian. It can be painful as old habits, conforming patterns are hard to break. Why is renewal an ongoing process?

Attitude:
Do I look for “renewal fixes”? What is my attitude about renewal personally and in worship? (See John 4:24)

Purpose:
“Therefore” I have read what God desires: to offer my body as a living sacrifice.
What can I do this week in the renewal process?

Have I done that?

How can I pursue this with others at my church home?

Relationship (2nd of Discipleship R’s)

Relationship

Ephesians 4:20–32

Review: Reconciliation
How did my new understanding of reconciliation help this week?
How did I share that with someone this week?

Introduction:

The theme of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is found in the phrase “in Christ.”
Theme verses: 2:8–10



Ephesians 2:8-10 (HCSB)
8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— 9 not from works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are His creation—created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.

How many times do I find that phrase (“in Christ”) in Ephesians (or similar phrases, i.e. “in Him”)?

chapter 1
chapter 2
chapter 3
chapter 4
chapter 5
chapter 6

What is Paul trying to say by this emphasis?



Ephesians 4:20-24 (HCSB)
20 But that is not how you learned about the Messiah, 21 assuming you heard Him and were taught by Him, because the truth is in Jesus: 22 you took off your former way of life, the old man that is corrupted by deceitful desires; 23 you are being renewed in the spirit of your minds; 24 you put on the new man, the one created according to God’s [likeness] in righteousness and purity of the truth.

In these verses Paul contrasts the “old” and the “new”.
What stands out in these verses for you?
What is that new self like?
What does it mean to “put on the new self”?



Ephesians 4:25-32 (HCSB)
25 Since you put away lying, Speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. 26 Be angry and do not sin. Don’t let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and don’t give the Devil an opportunity. 28 The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need. 29 No rotten talk should come from your mouth, but only what is good for the building up of someone in need, in order to give grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit, who sealed you for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, insult and slander must be removed from you, along with all wickedness. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.

Paul addresses specific issues that affect Christians in their walk “in Christ.” Notice that these are in relationship to other Christians.
What are some of these issues?
What is the connection between talking and relationships (v. 29)?
How do I grieve the Holy Spirit?
Ephesians 4:32 is the key verse. What stands out for me in this verse?
What is the hardest part for me?

Conclusion

Relationships:
What is the key point in beginning or restoring relationships?
How can Ephesians 4:32 help me?
Attitude:
Am I putting on the new self in Christ?
Daily?
Do I look at relationships as flowing out of my reconciled life?
Purpose: How are my relationships with others? Spouse? Children? Parents? Siblings?
Paul addresses these areas in Ephesians 5:22–33, and 6:1–4 and flow out of this text.

What does Romans 12:19 say to me about our life together at our congregation?
About relationships with others in the Church? Outside the Church?

4 R’s of Discipleship

Reconciliation

The next four studies will focus on the 4 R’s of Discipleship, a series of Bible studies I wrote for small groups. The 4 R’s: Reconciliation/Restoration, Relationships, Renewal, Response. This is not an in-depth study series, but it is meant to encourage wrestling with the text and the issues raised, and then examine our current life in light of that.

While this is the Bible study material, I also meet with the small group leaders in the week prior to each Bible study to go over the material. In that meeting I challenge to the leaders to investigate the text and context. For instance, in this study of Luke 15, I have them back up to Luke 15:1-2 to understand the greater context of the parable. And then we read and study Luke 15:3-10 to see how those parables relate to the current one.


Luke 15:11-32 (HCSB)

11 He also said: “A man had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate I have coming to me.’ So he distributed the assets to them.

13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered together all he had and traveled to a distant country, where he squandered his estate in foolish living. 14 After he had spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he had nothing.
15 Then he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 He longed to eat his fill from the carob pods the pigs were eating, and no one would give him any.

What attitude is shown by the younger son? (v. 12, 13)

What is the parallel in vv. 12 and 16?

What does that show about the younger son?

Do I sometimes struggle with this same attitude?

17 But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have more than enough food, and here I am dying of hunger! 18 I’ll get up, go to my father, and say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. 19 I’m no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired hands.” ‘

20 So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him.

What change takes place in vv. 17-19?

How does he imagine his reception (vv. 18-19)?

How does the Father respond?

21 The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 “But the father told his slaves, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate.

What is the Father’s response?

What does he give the younger son (v. 24)?

If I had been the parent how would I have responded?

25 “Now his older son was in the field; as he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he summoned one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 ‘Your brother is here,’ he told him, ‘and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “Then he became angry and didn’t want to go in. So his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 But he replied to his father, ‘Look, I have been slaving many years for you, and I have never disobeyed your orders; yet you never gave me a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your assets with prostitutes, you slaughtered the fattened calf for him.’

How does the older son respond?

Would you have felt the same way? Why?

There is a key concerning both sons’ condition. What is it (vv. 12, 29)?

31 “‘Son,’ he said to him, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'”

What does he invite the older son to do?

Concluding Reflections

Reconciliation: Fact or process? What is the main point Jesus is addressing?

Attitude: Am I the younger son or the older son?

Purpose: How does that affect me today?

What gets in the way of reconciliation?

How do I handle someone who seems to get all this “free”?

What does 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 say to us (me) about our life together at this church?