One of my favorite Christmas carols is “O Holy Night,” mostly because I love the first verse:
Long lay the world in sin and error pining, ‘til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
THE WEARY WORLD
If there is one word that accurately describes the feeling in the world right now, it is probably “weary.”
We are weary from two years of pandemic. We are weary of restriction and new variants. We are weary of our friends and family members getting sick, and even dying. We are weary from the divisiveness in society. We are weary of inflation, tragedy, tension, and strife.
But, as this song reminds us, the coming of Jesus into the world is good news for the weary world. It gives us weary people a reason to rejoice. Why? Because it tells us that, “yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”
THE DAY DAWNS
One of the greatest metaphors the Bible uses to describe where we are at currently in the big picture of human history is: Dawn.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. – John 1:9
Dawn is an interesting period; *it is a time when night and day, darkness and light, exist simultaneously in the same space, yet neither are in full force*.
At dawn, the darkness that formerly ruled the night is broken by the light, but it is still dark out … though not as dark as it used to be. However, at dawn, even though light has come, the light is not yet present in its full form, because although the light has appeared, it has not yet broken over the horizon to fully dispel the darkness.
Peter expressly uses this metaphor of dawn in his second letter:
We have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until *the day dawns* and *the morning star* rises in your hearts. – 2 Peter 1:19
THE MORNING STAR
Jesus is called “the morning star.” The “star” known as the morning star is not actually a star, but the planet Venus. The reason it is called the morning star is because it is the last “star” that is visible in the sky once the dawn has come.
The meaning and message of Christmas is that the true light has come into the world, and the dawn has begun. The beginning of dawn is an irreversible occurrence; once the first light of dawn has broken the darkness of night, it is only a matter of time before the sun crests the horizon, totally dispelling the darkness, bringing about the full light of the new day.
We live in a time right now where there is darkness in the world. It touches our lives, and we groan, along with all of the fallen creation, under the weight of the curse of sin and death. And yet, with the coming of Jesus into the world in His first advent, dawn has come: The light of life has come into our world in the person of Jesus Christ. We have the light of God’s Word to guide us … as we wait with eager expectation for Jesus’ second advent when He comes again!
For our world, covered in the shroud of darkness, a darkness which permeates even our own hearts, the message is clear: The advent of Jesus is the death knell of darkness and the guarantee that a new day is on the horizon.
Let us look to the morning star to give us hope until that day comes!
Kellen Criswell is a pastor, ministry leader, and former missionary who holds and MA in Global Leadership from Western Seminary and is currently working on his doctorate. He is the Executive Director of Calvary Global Network and has a heart for the mission of God and the global church.
After a brief discussion about Kellen’s favorite music and the fact that he is from Utah (AKA “Colorado Jr.”), we dive into a discussion about Missional Ecclesiology, which is a way of understanding the identity, purpose, and function of the church within the Missio Dei (the love-motivated, self-sending, mission of God into the world to save, redeem, and restore).
One more thought about Utah: If you have to tell people (on your license plates) that you have “the best snow in the world,” you probably don’t. It’s kind of like using the world “Real” in a title. If you have to say that something is “real ______” – it probably isn’t. And also, what Margaret Thatcher said: “Being a leader is like being a lady: If you have to tell people you are one, you probably aren’t.” Same with the snow, Utah…
But I digress…
Ecclesiology is the discussion of what the Church is called to be and to do – including its nature, purpose, hopes, structures, and practices.
We discuss how this concept works out practically, including a discussion of “foreign missions” and how they fit into this understanding. Furthermore, we discuss what the past nearly two years of pandemic has revealed about ecclesiology, and why there is hope as we move forward.
Missional Ecclesiology: What is the role of the church in the mission of God? – with Kellen Criswell –
Theology for the People
Kellen Criswell is a pastor, ministry leader, and former missionary who holds and MA in Global Leadership from Western Seminary and is currently working on his doctorate. He is the Executive Director of Calvary Global Network and has a heart for the mission of God and the global church.
In this episode we discuss Missional Ecclesiology, which is a way of understanding the identity, purpose, and function of the church within the Missio Dei (mission of God). Ecclesiology is the discussion of what the Church is called to be and to do – including its nature, purpose, hopes, structures, and practices.
We discuss how this concept works out practically, including a discussion of "foreign missions" and how they fit into this understanding. Furthermore, we discuss what the past nearly two years of pandemic has revealed about ecclesiology, and why there is hope as we move forward.
Bibliography and recommended resources:
Hirsch, Alan. The Forgotten Ways: Reactivating Apostolic Movements.
Goheen, Michael. The Church and it’s Vocation: Leslie Newbigin’s Missionary Ecclesiology.
Stetzer, Ed. Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply.
Newbigin, Leslie. The Gospel in a Pluralist Society.
Van Engen, Charles. Transforming Mission Theology.
Wright, Christopher J.H.. The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative.
Bosch, David. Transforming Mission: Paradigm Shifts in Theology of Mission.
Hooker, Paul. "What is Missional Ecclesiology?"
Make sure to check out the Theology for the People blog at nickcady.org
Make sure to check out some of the books and papers listed below for more information and study on this topic.
If you own a Bible in your own language, it is a direct result of the Protestant Reformation, and the key figure God used to ignite that worldwide movement of returning to the Bible was Martin Luther: a German monk and professor of theology at the University of Wittenberg.
I grew up attending a Lutheran school until eighth grade. During my time there, I learned a lot about Luther, including studying his catechism. Years later, when I put my faith in Jesus and was born again, I started attending a Calvary Chapel church; and over the years, I have grown in appreciation for Martin Luther and the pivotal role he played in God’s work in the world.
The last day of October is celebrated around the world as Reformation Day, because it was on October 31, 1517, that Martin Luther set into motion the movement now known as the Reformation, by mailing a letter. Yes, you read that right: on the eve of All Saints Day (Halloween = “All Hallows Eve”), Luther mailed, not nailed, a letter.1 2
The letter was addressed to the Archbishop of Mainz,3 and Luther sent it because he wanted to alert the archbishop that plenary indulgences were being sold in the archbishop’s name by a man named John Tetzel. Tetzel had been sent from Rome the year before to sell these certificates promising the release of a soul from purgatory in exchange for their purchase, as a fundraising campaign for the building of St. Peter’s Basilica. Luther assumed the archbishop was unaware that this was going on, and that upon receiving his letter, the archbishop would tell Tetzel to cease and desist. That, however, is not what happened.
As a result of the archbishop’s inaction, Luther, as a professor, decided to organize a scholarly debate on the topic of indulgences: whether they were actually effective in procuring the release of a soul from purgatory. To this end, he wrote up what are now known as the 95 Theses, which he titled: A Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences. This paper, which was posted on the door of the All Saints Church in Wittenberg, was an invitation to a scholarly debate, but in it Luther challenged both the selling of indulgences and the doctrine of purgatory as unscriptural. By doing this, Luther was challenging the Roman Catholic Church’s teaching and authority, and insisting that the Bible, not the church, should be the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes correct doctrine.
The posting of the 95 Theses is considered the spark which ignited the Protestant Reformation: a movement which sought to reform the church by shedding man-made traditions and returning to the faith which had been handed to us by God in the Holy Scriptures.
Today, there are nearly 1 billion Protestant Christians in the world.4 In the “majority world,” including Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Muslim world5, Protestant Christianity is growing faster than any other religious movement by conversion.6
Before Luther, there were others who sought to reform the church and bring the Bible to the people. John Wycliffe (1331-1384) published the first English translation of the Bible. Jan Hus (1369-1415) taught the Bible to the common people in Prague. Peter Waldo (1140-1218) commissioned a translation of the New Testament into the local vernacular of southern France. Each of these people were persecuted for trying to put the Scriptures into the hands of the common people.
Over a century before Luther, Hus had protested the sale of plenary indulgences, pointing out that the idea that God’s favor or blessings could be earned in any way, runs contrary to the message of the gospel and the testimony of the Scriptures, and the concept of purgatory is in conflict with the biblical teaching of the sufficiency of Christ’s atonement on the cross.
Martin Luther had long struggled with feelings of condemnation and inadequacy, until his own reading of the Scriptures led him to an epiphany when he read Habakkuk 2:4: “Behold, as for the proud one, His soul is not right within him; But the righteous will live by his faith.” This led Luther to the other places in the Bible where this phrase is repeated: Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11, and Hebrews 10:38 – where the message is clear: It is not by our own works that we are justified before God, but it is God who justifies us sinners as a gift of His grace, and we receive that justification by faith. After all, the Bible explains, this is how Abraham, the father of our faith, became righteous: he believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3, 22). We receive God’s righteousness, which he has provided for us in Christ, in the same way.
Luther became convinced that everyone needed to be able to read the Scriptures for themselves, and he took it upon himself to translate the Bible into German, a translation that is still in use to this day. Soon the Bible was translated into other languages, including English, as the Reformation spread.
Martin Luther called people back to a belief that the Scriptures are perspicuous (clear), and can be understood by those who read them. He called us back to a belief in the inspiration and sufficiency of Scripture: that it is the ultimate rule of faith, by which we are to measure both doctrine and our lives.
In April 1521, Luther was brought before Holy Roman Emperor Charles V at the Diet of Worms, at which Luther was commanded to recant his teachings. Luther refused to do so, famously stating:
“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures or by evident reason – for I can believe neither pope nor councils alone, as it is clear that they have erred repeatedly and contradicted themselves – I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. Thus I cannot and will not recant.”7
This October, as we celebrate Reformation Day, may we take the opportunity to open the Bible and read it for ourselves, and may we embrace and celebrate the message of the gospel: that Jesus Christ came to save sinners, and that we are justified freely by his grace as we trust in him by faith.
1 Marshall, Peter. 1517:Martin Luther and the Invention of the Reformation. OUP Oxford. 2017.
Last week Gino Geraci, nationally syndicated radio show host based in Littleton, Colorado, came up to record a few episodes for the Theology for the People podcast. Those episodes are available now, and links and descriptions for them can be found below.
Gino is the founding pastor of Calvary South Denver. He recently stepped down as Lead Pastor of that church, and his son Jon took over in that role. Gino now focuses his time on his daily radio show, Crosswalk with Gino Geraci, which can be heard on the Salem Radio Network.
Gino also works with one of my favorite online organizations: GotQuestions.org – a great internet resource based out of Colorado Springs that provides concise, biblical answers to the questions that people are asking about God and the Bible.
Check out these episodes, subscribe to the podcast, and share with others if you find this content helpful!
In this episode, Gino and I speak about what it means when the Bible tells us that we, as human beings, have been created in the image of God (Imago Dei in Latin).
What are some of the implications of this doctrine as relates to the value of human life, and what would be the implications if this were not true?
Something I am concerned with is how Christianity, because of our belief in the Imago Dei, believes that people with disabilities have inherent dignity. There are other implications of this, which we explain and discuss in this episode.
Gino Geraci is a pastor, Bible teacher, and syndicated radio show host. He is the founding pastor of Calvary South Denver in Littleton, Colorado, from which he recently retired and is now focusing fully on his radio and online ministries.
In this episode, Gino and Nick speak about what it means when the Bible tells us that we, as human beings, have been created in the image of God (Imago Dei in Latin). What are some of the implications of this doctrine as relates to the value of human life, and what would be the implications if this were not true?
You can find Gino's teachings on his website: ginogeraci.com. His radio show can be heard here: Crosswalk with Gino Geraci, and make sure to check out the other ministry he works with: gotquestions.org
Is it true that “all truth is God’s truth”? What does it mean when the Bible talks about a “mystery” that has been revealed?
In this episode Gino and I discuss the topic of “revelation,” and the question of how we know what we know about God, including His will for us, our lives, and the world.
In the previous episode, we talked about what it means that we are created in the “image of God” and what the implications would be if we were not created in God’s image. That discussion ended with a comment that the doctrine of the Imago Dei hinges on the question of revelation.
The Bible talks about two specific kinds of revelation: general and specific. In this episode we give some examples of each and answer questions like: “Does one have greater value than the other?” and “What are the benefits of each, and what, if any, limitations do these different forms of revelation carry?”
Is it true that "all truth is God's truth"? What does it mean when the Bible talks about a "mystery" that has been revealed?
This week Gino Geraci joins the podcast once again to discuss the topic of "revelation," and the question of how we know what we know about God, including His will for us, our lives, and the world.
The Bible talks about two specific kinds of revelation: general and specific. In this podcast we give some examples of each and answer questions like: Does one have greater value than the other? What are the benefits of each, and what, if any, limitations do these different forms of revelation carry?
In last week's episode, we talked about what it means that we are created in the "image of God" and what the implications would be if we were not created in God's image. That discussion ended with a comment that the doctrine of the Imago Dei (Image of God) hinges on the question of revelation. In this episode we delve into that question.
Check out the Theology for the People blog, and find Pastor Nick's sermons on the White Fields Church podcast and whitefieldschurch.com
Kay Smith, the wife of pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, passed away last week. While Chuck was well known for his radio ministry, books, and leadership – Kay played a big role in what God did through Calvary Chapel and in the church as a whole in the late 20th and early 21st centuries.
For example, it was Kay who had a heart for the hippies and would go and pray for them, broken-hearted over these lost youths filling the beaches and streets of Southern California in the 60’s, and urging Chuck to reach out to them.
Furthermore, Kay’s women’s ministry, Joyful Life, was very large and influential, and played a big role in popularizing “women’s ministry” and a certain type of women’s Bible study that is now considered common in many churches.
This week, Calvary Chapel published an article and a podcast featuring my wife, Rosemary, who is a member of the Women’s Task Team for Calvary Global Network.
You can listen to the podcast here, and I’ve copied the article below:
Today, on When She Leads, we are discussing the question: should a church have a women's ministry? Women's ministries come in all shapes and sizes and we'll discuss all the facets and how it can be effective and healthy.
Reference article by Rosemary Cady.
When She Leads is a podcast for women in ministry hosted by Brenda Leavenworth, Jenn Benham, Jody Ponce, Rosemary Cady, and Kelly Bell.
Email us at email@example.com
Follow us on Instagram at @whensheleads
There is a growing controversy today with churches assessing whether or not to have a women’s ministry. Is it mandated in scripture, always beneficial, or not necessary at all? These are questions church leaders are asking. A large church in our town dropped their women’s ministry to promote community groups instead. I have friends whose churches only have an occasional women’s ministry event, and we have women who join our church because their old church did not offer a women’s ministry.
Women’s ministry can look different in each church. So first, let’s define it. The word “ministry” means “spiritual service.” Therefore, in a church, a women’s ministry would be where women go for spiritual, emotional, and social needs.
WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE SAY?
The Bible does not mandate that churches have a women’s ministry; scripture never explicitly introduces the idea. And while it does describe principles for ministry, the Bible stops short of giving us methods to accomplish it. This gives us the freedom to minister in ways that are effective for our time and culture.
It’s true; one cannot reasonably argue that scripture mandates we have a women’s ministry. However, I think we can conclude that women ought to be engaged in ministering to other women. Titus chapter 2 tells older women to “train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God” (Titus 2:4-5 NIV). Paul charged Titus to equip the older women in his church so that they might be ready to teach the younger women. The list of what to teach younger women regards their character and matters of the home. With this in mind, we look for the best way for women to learn God’s heart for these things by teaching them scripture and how to apply it to their lives. Furthermore, Ephesians 4:11-13 says that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to the church “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up…in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature” (NIV). One integral way to bring about this maturity of faith is to teach women the Bible (cf. Romans 10:17).
There is no one model for how to minister to women, but many possibilities. It is imperative that a church show they care for women, which can occur in a variety of ways, but the key is spiritual health. From thriving Bible studies with hundreds of people to small prayer groups and everything in between, the women will grow in their faith if they are taught the Bible well.
Women express that they are encouraged in their faith from the fellowship they experience in a women’s ministry, finding the strength to go on in life despite the trials, realizing they do not walk this journey alone.
Other beneﬁts include:
· A safe space to share struggles and prayer requests, uniquely as a woman.
· Develop meaningful friendships.
• Spiritual growth.
• Other relationships in their lives are blessed by their maturing.
· Opportunities to serve and use spiritual gifts.
Women have shared private matters and gained wisdom from others in women’s groups that they never would’ve with men present.
A basic difficulty is simply that some women feel anxious gathering with groups of women. Even seeing the words “women’s fellowship” strikes fear in their hearts! A simple group introduction or invitation to pray out loud can send someone out the door, never to return. These are women I’ve met at my church. One woman at our church in Hungary was skeptical about coming, saying, “What, are you going to teach me how to wear a dress?” Ministry leaders can help such women if they realize that they come through the doors with fears, anxieties, and horrible past experiences. Women with similar proclivities will come to your meetings, wondering whether they can trust those around them this time.
Another difficulty arises when a women’s ministry becomes a church within a church. Suppose women can attend women’s ministry activities without ever attending church services. In that case, it could be a red flag to the ministry leader that the ministry has created a church of their own. Such an ascription of authority to the women leaders may usurp authority from the pastors of the church.
Those leading must be motivated by love, having a heart for women, and displaying a good character, not self-serving or self-promoting. Skills can be taught; a heart to serve has to develop from within. It has been said that “everything rises or falls on great leadership,” so having the right women in place is essential.
What if a Lead Pastor is not interested in having a Women’s Ministry? Prayer would be the best place to start in this situation, and possibly a meeting with the pastor to hear his heart on the matter and share yours. The Women’s Ministry must follow the Lead Pastor’s vision for the church and help serve the needs of the women within it.
What if the women’s ministry leaders are gossips, slanderers, spiritually immature, or are running a ministry where power and position are more valuable than understanding and obeying scripture? Sometimes, a pastor’s best course is to shut down an unhealthy ministry and re-launch it with a healthy vision and leaders to match. To establish a healthy ministry, leaders must be mature in doctrine, character, service to the women, and submission to their pastors and elders.
Although scripture doesn’t mandate Women’s ministry, it is beneficial if teaching the Bible is foundational and is done with mature leadership and healthy guidelines. The beneﬁts reaped are creating a community where spiritual growth flourishes, training takes place, spiritual gifts receive room for use, and the community provides support and encouragement in a loving environment with hearts oriented towards God.
Look for the next steps in our post on how to start a Women’s Ministry!
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Our most recent episode of “When She Leads,” a podcast for women in ministry, is a companion episode to this article. Listen in as our team discusses whether or not churches must have Women’s Ministries. Each month, we gather around the table to consider the complexities and realities of leading as a woman.
Recently we have had the pleasure of getting to spend some time with some of our missionary friends from Ukraine, who have visited our church here in Colorado.
This past Sunday I had the opportunity to sit down with pastor Benjamin Morrison from Svitlovodsk, Ukraine to talk about his life and ministry. Ben is the pastor of Calvary Chapel Svitlovodsk, Ukraine, as well as the coordinator for City to City Ukraine and is part of the leadership of City to City Europe.
This turned out to be a great conversation in which we talked about how Ben came to be a missionary in Ukraine, what it’s like doing ministry in a post-communist context, and what “contextualization” means and how it works out in practice. We finished the conversation by sharing some practical advice for those who are seeking God’s leading and direction for how they can get involved in God’s global mission.
Wayne has a long history as a leader in the Calvary Chapel movement. He founded Calvary Fellowship in Seattle and served there as lead pastor for 42 years. Under Wayne’s leadership, 55 churches were planted, both in the Pacific Northwest and abroad.
In this episode, Pastor Wayne and I discuss Charismatic Christianity: where the word “charismatic” comes from, what it means, arguments for and against charismatic practices, as well as John MacArthur, theological method, Calvary Chapel, and our own personal experiences and biases.
Pastor Wayne Taylor has a long history as a leader in the Calvary Chapel movement; he founded Calvary Fellowship in Seattle, Washington, where he served as lead pastor for 42 years. Under his leadership, 55 churches were planted out of Calvary Fellowship, both in the Pacific Northwest and abroad. Wayne now serves on the executive leadership team of Calvary Global Network.
In this week's episode, Wayne and I discuss what it means to be "charismatic." We discuss the origin of the word, arguments for and against charismatic practices, as well as John MacArthur, theological method, Calvary Chapel, and our own personal experiences and biases.
Follow Pastor Wayne on Facebook, and check out the Theology for the People blog.
The sermon series from White Fields Church on the Holy Spirit can be found here: The Spirit-Filled Life.
Last week I had the honor of being a guest on Gino Geraci’s radio show: Crosswalk with Gino Geraci, on 94.7 FM KRKS which airs in the Denver metro area and online.
We discussed the topic of the “perspicuity” or “clarity” of Scripture, which was the subject of my MA dissertation.
The discussion certainly wasn’t exhaustive, and there is more I would like to share about meaning and implications of the perspicuity of Scripture via this blog and my podcast – such as the difference between the external and internal aspects of perspicuity, but this was a great introduction to the topic.
Gino is well-read and understands the subject well, and it was fun to talk with someone who enjoys discussing these things and helping other people understand them.
What is perhaps most interesting about our discussion is that we spent time talking about how the perspicuity of Scripture speaks to the current trend of postmodern thinking and epistemology, in which even many professing Christians are taking up views which are contrary to the clear reading of Scripture because of pressure from the culture.
You can listen to the two hours we spent discussing this topic on the radio here:
There are some excellent speakers lined up this year. Personally, I’m really excited that missiologist Alan Hirsch will be there, as well as Gavin Ortlund and Ed Stetzer, who is such an important voice in the church today – and happens to love Calvary Chapel!
I will be teaching an in-person Training Track at the conference on the topic of: “Preaching and Teaching Gospel-Centered Expository Messages.”
My friends and co-laborers, Ted Leavenworth and Rob Salvato, both pastors in Southern California, started a new podcast called Leadership Collective, in which they curate helpful conversations with church leaders about relevant topics.
I had the pleasure of being a guest on the podcast along with Dr. Mark Foreman. Our discussion was about the nuts and bolts of how we develop, cast, and implement “vision” in our churches. Mark pastors a mega-church in Southern California, and I pastor a medium sized church on the Front Range of Colorado, so there are some pretty big differences in how we go about this process, but many similarities as well.
Earlier in my ministry I used to hate the word “vision” because it seemed so nebulous and abstract. However, since then I have come to understand that “vision” can simply be defined as: “a desired outcome.” Putting it in those terms, the question of “vision” becomes much more manageable. Beginning with a desired outcome, you can then begin thinking about the way to achieve that outcome, and break it down into a process with steps, depending on the given time-frame.
Not only is it imperative that we have vision as leaders, it’s also important for us to communicate it. What I have learned is that most leaders unwittingly under-communicate vision, and it’s very rare for people to feel that leaders over-communicate vision. The point is, for most of us, we need to communicate vision more than we currently are, and more than we think we need to.
Pastor Mark Foreman of North Coast Calvary in Carlsbad, California joins Pastor Nick Cady of White Fields Community Church in Longmont, Colorado to discuss the topic of vision.
North Coast Calvary Chapel — northcoastcalvary.org
White Fields Community Church — whitefieldschurch.com