Lost in Translation

sharon-mccutcheon-532782-unsplashHave you ever played the game called “telephone”? One person whispers a message to the person next to them and it travels down the line until the last person announces what they heard. I’ve played “telephone” dozens of times in my life, maybe more, and the message original message always gets lost somewhere in the translation.

When God speaks, he speaks clearly. God created the universe through the power of his spoken word. God revealed his plan to redeem mankind through his inspired and authoritative written word, the Bible. But God went even further to communicate and connect with mankind so his magnificent character and intentions were not “lost in translation.” God sent His Son, Jesus Christ – the Living Word – into the world to reveal Himself to us.

As we read John 1:1-18, we find four truths about Jesus Christ. The Apostle John gives us these four truths so that we might know God, not just know about Him. Notice what these verses tell us about Jesus.

First, He is a divine person (1:1-2). John introduces “the Word” as a person, not an idea or an impersonal force. Jesus is the second person of the Trinity. He is distinct but equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. This is absolutely foundational to the rest of the things we read about Jesus Christ in John’s Gospel.

Second, He was present at creation (1:3-5). John connects his Gospel to the creation story in Genesis by starting it out the same way: “in the beginning.” In Genesis 1:26, we read about God’s conversation with himself about creating mankind in his image (“Let us create man in our image.”) The Apostel Paul declares that Jesus has always existed and “all things were created through Him and for Him.” (Colossians 1:16).

Third, He is the power of redemption (1:6-13). Although Jesus Christ created humans and became a human, he was dismissed and rejected. But by God’s grace, some have responded faith and believe. Those who do are redeemed and adopted as children of God. This spiritual “rebirth” is brought about by the power of God.

Fourth, He is a picture of God (1:14-18). The Second Commandment prohibited God’s people from making an “idol” or likeness” of God as a part of their worship (Exodus 20:4-6). This commandment was to keep the Hebrews from settling for a disappointing substitute for God. Jesus was is so much more than a disappointing substitute – he is God is the flesh.

John’s testimony is designed to introduce others to Jesus Christ, not just tell them about him.  Theologian J. I. Packer once said, There’s a difference between knowing God and knowing about God. When you truly know God, you have the energy to serve Him, boldness to share, and contentment in Him.” Knowing about someone is not the same as having a personal relationship with that person.

Every relationship starts with a decision. You can start a personal relationship with Jesus Christ by deciding two things. First, that you personally believe that Jesus Christ is God’s Son and that he died for you and your sins. Second, that you personally accept his offer of a new life. The new life that God offers comes forgiveness and a home in heaven.

Some things get lost in translation, but Jesus Christ did not. He reveals such a clear and compelling picture of God and his love for us that we must respond. Have you responded to his message for you?

Is Your Church an Externally Focused Church?

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 “Externally focused church are internally strong, but they are oriented externally.  Their external focus is reflected in those things for which they staff and budget.  Because they engage their communities with good works and good news of Jesus Christ, their communities are better places in which to live.  These churches look for ways to be useful to their communities, to be a part of their hopes and dreams.  They build bridges to their communities instead of walls around themselves.  They don’t shout at the dirty stream; they get in the water and begin cleaning it up.  They determine their effectiveness not only by internal measures – such as attendance, worship, teaching, and small groups – but also by external measures: the spiritual and societal effects they are having on the communities around them.  Externally focused churches measure not only what can be counted but also what matters most – the impact they are having outside the four walls of the church.  They ask, “Who lives are different because of this church?”

– Rick Rushaw and Eric Swanson, The Eternally Focus Church (Loveland, CO: Group, 2004), 17

Two Aspects of Forgiveness

quotes“Forgiveness is both an event and a process.  Making the four promises of forgiveness (found earlier in the book) is an event that knocks down a wall that stands between you and the person who has wronged you.  Then a process begins.  After you demolish an obstruction, you usually have to clear away debris and do repair work.  The Bible calls this ‘reconciliation,’ a process involving a change of attitude that leads to a change in the relationship.”

-Ken Sande, The Peace Maker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict           (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004), 219

Do We Really Need Mediation?

quotesIn a chapter calling pastors to the ministry of mediation, Alfred Poirier ties the ministry of mediation to Jesus Christ and the Gospel like this:

“From Genesis 3 to Revelation 21, the Bible is a book abounding with conflict – man against God, God against man, man against man.  But the Bible is more.  The Bible is God’s special revelation of his Reconciler.  It is the good news of God’s promise of a Mediator – the coming Prince of Peace.  The story of redemption is a story of reconciliation, and that reconciliation is all about assisted peacemaking.  Redemption calls for divine action; we cannot save or reconcile ourselves.  Reconciliation demands another.  Reconciliation requires the Messiah as Mediator.

-Alfred Poirier, The Peace Making Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Book, 2006), 185.

Why We Need a Fresh Encounter with God

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“The problem today is that churches are striving to win their world to Christ without having first been revived themselves.  The result is spiritually comatose church members going door-to-door asking unbelievers if they would like to have what they have – spiritual anemia!  Such an invitation is patently unappealing.  It explains the high dropout rate in churches today.  Newborn spiritual babes are being placed into churches filled with spiritually lethargic people.  It is a recipe for disillusionment.”

Henry and Richard Blackaby, with Claude King, Fresh Encounter: God’s Pattern for Spiritual Awakening (Nashville: B & H Publishing Group, 2009), 18