Here are 4 guideposts I have come to use in my own proclamation of the Gospel, and I urge fixing these in your mind as you seek to tell the Good News faithfully.
As our culture runs further and further from a basic biblical understanding of the world, I find it increasingly important to begin any proclamation of the Gospel with Creation. To me it's the only way to clearly communicate that we bear any obligation to serve God. He made us. We belong to Him. He demands that we worship Him and carry out His purposes on the earth. If I don't start with Creation, I find it very difficult to get any traction.
Recently I have been struck by the angel's preaching of "an eternal gospel" in Revelation 14:7:
This week in our college Sunday school class, we zoomed in on Jesus' parable of the wedding feast:
1 Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, 2 “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. 3 And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. 4 Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ 5 But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, 6 and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. 7 But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire. 8 Then he said to his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy. 9 Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.’ 10 Those slaves went out into the streets and gathered together all they found, both evil and good; and the wedding hall was filled with dinner guests.
In our class, we asked a few questions of this parable.
If the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast, then . . .
This week we read a heap of New Testament passages which talk about "calling," or being "called":
This Sunday, we looked at our cultural understand of "calling" and "vocation." Here's how modern dictionaries define these terms:
In our discussion, we noted two things about these definitions. First, the source of calling is entirely inward. It comes from within yourself. Second, the nature of calling is entirely subjective. It is an "urge" or a "feeling."
How do these definitions stack up against what God's Word has to say about your calling in life? This week we looked at two passages from Genesis to help us begin to answer that question.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Then God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food”; and it was so. (Genesis 1:26–30)
Notice the source and the nature of man's calling in Genesis 1. The source of man's calling is not from within himself, but from God his Maker. The nature of the calling is not subjective, but objective. God called man to fulfill a specific purpose, one which He made clear: "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth."
We discussed 3 aspects of our calling which flow from God our Creator.
God gives us our identity.
"In the day when God created man, He made him in the likeness of God" (Genesis 5:1). You were made to be God's representative on the earth, bearing His image. God is the source of your identity, your uniqueness, and your value. What gives a famous painting its primary identity? Its creator. That's why we call it a Picasso, or a Rembrandt, or a Monet. Where does your primary identity come from? Your Creator. You are made in God's image.
God gives us our name.
"He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man in the day when they were created" (Genesis 5:2). God not only gave us His image, but He gave us a name: Man.
God gives us our purpose.
Beyond identity and name, God provides our purpose. Be fruitful and multiply. Subdue the earth and rule over it. This was Man's calling in the very beginning, and if you are descended from Adam, this is your calling as well.
If you're trying to discover your calling in life, don't start with yourself. Start with who God is. If you start with yourself, you'll only end up confused and frustrated.
Over the next few weeks, we will work our way through understanding God's calling on all mankind, to understanding the holy calling of being a Christian, on to understanding the implications of those things as you pursue your particular vocation.
Join us as we dig deeper every Sunday morning at 10 AM at Clearnote Church!
The Melting Pot is a social gathering for college students from all walks of life which meets on Fridays at 7 PM at the McNeilly home (1623 S Buffstone Ct). We're not that far from campus, but you probably won't want to walk it. If you want help getting there, here are some options:
Option 1—Get a Ride
Want a ride from a current student? We'd be happy to pick you up. Just email us.
Option 2—Take the Bus
Bloomington Transit's 7-Bus picks up on campus and drops off right by our house! Hop on the 7 on 3rd St., then get off at the Regency Court Apartments stop on S Henderson. Our house is in the neighborhood just across the street from Regency Court.
Here's our address and a map:
If you get lost on the way, give Alex McNeilly a call or text at 317-374-8499.
Welcome to IU!
Here at Clearnote Campus Fellowship, we want to equip you for the challenges of college life, but we want to do more than that. It may sound strange, especially if you just started college, but our goal is actually to prepare you for life after college. We want you to know what it means to honor the God who made you, and how you can joyfully serve Him in all of life. Here are some of the ways we're doing that this Fall semester…
We strive to see IU students come to know, love, and obey Jesus Christ.
We want to produce students who are committed to "contending earnestly for the faith which was once and for all handed down to the saints" (Jude 1:3).
Collective Student Gatherings
– The Melting Pot @ the McNeillys'. Fridays, 7 PM. Weekly college-student gathering with games, music, food, and more!
– Examining Your Worldview. Sundays, 10 AM, Clearnote Church. Sunday School class for college students on what it means to think like a Christian, complete with donuts.
“Vocational” Studies on Campus
– Sciences w/ Ben Burlingham. Tuesdays, lunchtime, A206. A weekly Bible study in a professor’s office, geared towards science majors, pre-med, and med students.
– Law w/ Brian Bailey. Every other Thursday, 5 PM, Buffalouie's. A reading group with seasoned attorney Brian Bailey, discussing what it means to be a God-honoring lawyer.
– Music Students. Contact us if you're interested!
For Chinese Students
Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
For You grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
You had no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon You,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to You.
You were despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
You were despised, and we did not esteem You.
Surely our griefs You Yourself bore,
And our sorrows You carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed You stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
But you were pierced through for our transgressions,
You were crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon You,
And by Your scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on You.
You were oppressed and You were afflicted,
Yet You did not open Your mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So You did not open Your mouth.
By oppression and judgment You were taken away;
And as for Your generation, who considered
That You were cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgressions of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
Your grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet You were with a rich man in Your death,
Because You had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in Your mouth.
But the LORD was pleased
To crush You, putting You to grief;
Because You rendered Yourself as a guilt offering,
You have seen Your offspring,
You have prolonged Your days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD prospers in Your hand.
As a result of the anguish of Your soul,
You see it and are satisfied;
By Your knowledge you, Righteous One,
The LORD's servant, have justified the many,
As You have borne their iniquities.
Therefore, the LORD has allotted You a portion with the great,
And You have divided the spoil with the strong;
Because You poured out Yourself to death,
And were numbered with the transgressors;
Yet You Yourself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for transgressors.
This semester in our men's Bible study we're studying the Fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). Last night we looked at "faithfulness." Part of our homework each week is to come with a worldly cultural example of the assigned Fruit of the Spirit. My wife, Dani, supplied me with this example of what faithfulness looks like to the world…
Tonight I preached on 1 John 4:17–18:
By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment.…There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love.
These are words of promise given to the children of God, those who have been born again by the Holy Spirit. This is the promise: if you believe in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, you need no longer fear God's judgment.
John is not saying that no one should fear God's judgment. In fact, if you do not believe in Jesus Christ, fearing God's judgment is exactly what you should be doing. Jesus said,
He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. (John 3:36)
The Apostle Paul repeated Jesus' message:
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. (Romans 5:9)
Notice that salvation from the wrath of God is a promise given to those who have been justified by His blood. Apart from His blood, there is no escape from God's wrath.
This is the true Gospel. It says, "The wrath of God abides on you. You stand condemned before God. Believe in Jesus Christ and be saved." In other words, the true Gospel sees fear of God's judgment as a necessary precursor which compels us to receive God's grace.
But there's a half-gospel that is taking over.
It's a new year. It's a perfect time to recommit yourself to bathing every day in God's Word!
Instead of hopping on Facebook every spare moment, why not read a chapter of Scripture when you sit down by yourself?
Quite a number of CNCFers are joining me this year in doing a year-long reading plan called "Reading God's Story." It's kind of a combination of a chronological reading plan and a topical reading plan that gets you through the whole Bible in 365 days. The basic structure is chronological: you read the Bible in the order in which it was written. But the creator of the plan mixes in passages that relate to whatever event is happening in that day's reading.
For example, after reading the account of the Flood in Genesis 8 and 9, the plan has you read this Psalm on the same day: