Tag Archives: -Acts 20:28

The Higher Calling: The Church, Jesus’ Rival Nation, God’s Kingdom (Guest Post from Sattler College)

This spring I had the opportunity to enjoy lunch with Finny Kuruvilla, who is, among other things, a medical doctor, an investment officer, a church planter, and author of King Jesus Claims His Church. He was visiting Atlanta from Boston, here at a homeschool expo to tell people about Sattler College, which he is helping to found. I was impressed by his vision for Sattler, which includes training students both as Bible students and as disciples of Jesus.

I’ve since had several conversations with Sattler personnel and remain impressed, so I offered them a guest post on my blog. I hope you enjoy this post by Zack Johnson (whom I’d love to meet) and help spread the word about Sattler College!

—Dwight Gingrich

I was recently exploring how different institutions use vision statements to appeal to their audience. One statement stood out to me from a college that professes Christianity in New York: “We exist to graduate students who will go on to positions of leadership in our strategic national institutions: government, business, media, law, education, and the church.” It is shocking how these words present the church as an equal and mutually exclusive choice among institutions for Christians. We must not capitulate to the notion that being guardians and shepherds of Jesus’ nation which he obtained with his own blood (Acts 20:28) is an optional or secondary calling.

For those who believe the doctrine of two kingdoms it is easy to see flaws in a Christian vision statement that mixes the nations of this world with the Kingdom of God. Despite the prevalent proclamation of Jesus’ kingdom throughout the New Testament, many Christians accept that followers of Jesus can serve in places that require some level of biblical compromise.

My story is a showcase of this biblical neglect. Thirteen months ago, I was under oath to the U.S. Constitution in the military when biblical truths fell on me like a ton of bricks. By God’s grace I have since submitted to Jesus’ kingdom and have been in training to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions (Titus 2:12). But the question still looms for me as a humble 25-year old: what now? I remember listening to David Bercot’s teaching on the doctrine of kingdoms and coming across Origen’s words:

We recognize in each state [that is in each country] the existence of another national organization that was founded by the Word of God. And we exhort those who are mighty in word and of blameless life to rule over churches… It is not for the purpose of escaping public duties that Christians decline public offices. Rather it is so they may reserve themselves for a more divine and necessary service in the church of God—for the salvation of men.

Origen lays out a vision statement for Christians that elevates service in the church of God to its divine level for the salvation of men. In my case it is easy to see that my vision was off, but could it be that there are more subtle places where Christians can still get distracted? Does the salvation of men keep us up at night? Is the church our passion?

There are shiny objects all around us. Government can be a distraction for those who seek power, business for those who chase wealth, media for those who crave attention, law for those who demand justice, and education for those who want status. Just because I have accepted the doctrine of two kingdoms, does not mean I am not susceptible to go down other rabbit trails. The enemy gains victories when man chases the world and leaves behind the church. Jesus’ nation is closer to triumph when man submits to the church and confronts the earth with its saltiness and captivates it with its light (Matthew 5:13-16). Amid all the distractions, we dare not put the church as an option at the end of our own vision statements, but rather learn from the cloud of witnesses before us and raise the church to its rightful position.

In the last year, I have had the honor of learning about the persecuted churches of history, and one name that is inescapable for me today is Michael Sattler. He stood as a guardian and shepherd of Jesus’ nation, was mighty in word, and bled and died for the church beside his wife. You can read more about Sattler here or watch a short video summary about him here. In Sattler, we see a man who refused biblical compromise while diligently leveraging his life for the sake of the Messiah and his flock: for the salvation of men. Can we say the same?

We do not have to make the church a mutually exclusive choice, but rather everything we do should be for the sake of this rival nation Jesus founded. There is no room for biblical compromise in things like government oaths, taking people to court, and conforming to the world. But there is no need to present a false choice between the church and careers, trades, or education like the college in New York’s vision statement. We exist as bondservants of Christ and should labor and toil night and day to proclaim Jesus’ kingship to others as Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy did for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:9). May we reserve ourselves for the higher calling in all we do with Scripture as our guide and Christ as our foundation.

The reason I was interested in college vision statements is because I now seek to serve Christ through being a part of Sattler College. This new college aims to help raise an army to bring forth Christ’s kingdom to all nations. Sattler College’s vision is to “train graduates to be a city on a hill: a shining light in greater Boston and the nations.” Sattler is now accepting applications from potential students and the deadline for application is January 15, 2018. If interested, visit www.sattlercollege.org for more information.

Share your response to Zack’s thoughts in the comments below!

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Prayers for Conservative Anabaptist Churches

Several discussions lately have reminded me of deep, ongoing needs within our conservative Anabaptist churches. (I’m sure some of these needs are also present in many other churches, but I’m speaking from within my own experience.) I don’t have time to expand on any of these needs at present, so I’ll simply list them here as a series of short prayer requests.

Please join me in prayer as you are able, and also in doing all you can to be living answers to the needs of our churches.

Dear Lord of the Church, we implore you to remember the Church which you purchased with your own blood (Acts 20:28) and which you promised to build (Matt. 16:18)! We ask you to…

  • Encourage our leaders who are growing weary with the weight of leading your flock, who have little strength left to feed the sheep.
  • Raise up generous financial supporters to free our over-worked leaders to spend more time in sermon preparation, personal Bible study and growth, and counseling the needy saints.
  • Show us that it is not laziness to prioritize Bible study and training over planting corn, and that sweat expended or money earned are not the ultimate measure of how much real work has been accomplished.
  • Give us a fresh vision for intentionally training the next generation of church leaders to handle Scripture faithfully and shepherd the flock with skill and tenderness.
  • Awaken a vision for intentionally discipling all the saints to do the work of the ministry according to their varied giftings.
  • Give our leaders courage and wisdom to help our churches have honest and open conversations, breaking the silence about the many unanswered questions that are frustrating the saints.
  • Teach us how to talk peaceably to one another about our differences of vision and understanding, rather than carefully avoiding a long list of taboo topics or stooping to personal attacks.
  • Give us a fresh vision for Christ-centered unity without uniformity of culture, personality, or gifting.
  • Provide patience for sincere young visionaries who feel muzzled.
  • Provide new spaces for these young visionaries to live out the insights and passions you are giving to the church through them.
  • Give courage to our elders to release the young leaders whom you are calling–to entrust them with freedom to take up the mantle and lead the next generation, making the kinds of weighty decisions that some of these same elders made in their own youth.
  • Awaken a new vision for evangelism at home—but also, what is more, for becoming churches that are truly ready to incorporate new believers from the non-Anabaptist communities around us.
  • Use new converts and new attendees to shake up our apathy about how we’ve “always done things,” forcing us to shape church policies for the purpose of serving others and not merely for our own personal comfort.
  • Stir us to worship and mission, so that all that we are and do is defined by you and by the mission you have given to us–so that worship and mission defines our identity, our purpose for gathering, our sense of unity, our use of time and money, and all our conversations.
  • Call us to repentance for our indifference to those within our ranks who are hurting from abuse or indifference.
  • Expose hidden sins that are crippling our congregations, so that public repentance and/or church discipline becomes unavoidable.
  • Call us to repentance for all our extra-biblical additions that are hindering us from welcoming those whom you have welcomed, from incorporating new believers, and from being one with other believers as you are one.
  • Call us to repentance for ignoring in preaching or practice those parts of Scripture that make us uncomfortable.
  • Call us to a fresh vision for trusting the Word and Spirit of Christ to guide, equip, and empower us as congregations.
  • Raise up more laborers who are willing to bear the doubly-difficult and doubly-rewarding work of serving as leaders among your flock.
  • Shake up all bench-warmers from our deadly apathy.
  • Shake up all the little earthly kingdoms that are consuming our energies and excitement, until these kingdoms crumble and we are convinced to invest all our “eggs” in your kingdom.
  • Deliver us from fleshly lusts, carnal pride, nationalistic nearsightedness, Facebook folly, fickle fears, and immobilizing ingratitude.
  • Open our eyes to see everything from eternity’s perspective.

Oh Lord of the Church, we are weak and we are foolish! Enlighten us! Shake us up! Show us how sick we really are! Heal us from our many diseases! Keep our hope from dying! Help our unbelief! Give us new faith and hope in our resurrected, living, present, and coming Lord! Stop us from playing church! Call us to pick up our swords and join you in battle! Fill us with love as never before–love for you, love for each other, and love for the world for whom you died!

Sanctify the church, cleanse her by washing her with your word, and present the church to yourself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish! (Eph. 5:26-27)

In the name of Christ we pray.
And all God’s people said “Amen.”

Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting:

    For our Lord God Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and be glad
    and give him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
    and his bride has made herself ready.
Fine linen, bright and clean,
    was given her to wear.”

(Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.)  (Rev. 19:6-8)

Thank you for serving Christ’s Church in prayer and in deed. Feel free to add your own prayers or comments below.

For Christ and his Church,

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