Tag Archives: peace

The Secret Sauce in Evangelism

Man counselor caught in between fighting yelling coupleWhat would you tell a mom and dad desiring to spread the faith to their kids? Or what do you think is the key to passing on your faith to friends at work? We often believe that the secret is a winsome presentation of the gospel, or having good answers to the tough questions, apologetics and such. And to be sure, we need to present the gospel as clearly as possible. Certainly, we need to try to provide people with answers to their questions.

But Jesus said that there is something about love and unity between Christians that helps people see that our faith is real and true. For instance, in John 17:23, Jesus prays to His heavenly Father that His followers “may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me.” (emphasis mine)

Paraphrase: Jesus said, “If you are unified, people will know that I am from God.”

So Frances Schaeffer called love…the final apologetic. Apparently, if you get everything else right – if you prove that Jesus is God, and you prove that the Bible is true, and you show conclusively that Jesus rose from the dead, but you miss love and unity, apparently it’s very hard for the world to see that Jesus came from the Father. This makes sense, because after all, true evangelism is Spirit-driven.

This is why Paul was so concerned about the Philippians having the same mind…about unity at Philippi, because unity is…huge. So Paul wrote:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Philippians 2:1-2 (ESV)

Unity was a big deal to Paul because the spread of the gospel was a big deal to Paul – this comes out in Philippians chapter 1, where Paul writes about those preaching with wrong motives – “But what does it matter, the important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached, and because of this I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:18 NIV) You see, Paul just wanted the gospel out, by hook or by crook, and even if you were preaching it with wrong motives, he didn’t care.

But get this – since Paul was so fired up about spreading the gospel, he was fired up about unity and love.

A clear application is in the home: Moms and dads, as you want to pass on the faith to your kids, you probably already know the basics – read the Word with them, and pray with them, and make church attendance a priority, etc. But in the midst of all you’re doing, do something else: Do your best to get along, to love one another, and when you fight, as Diane and I did (ahem, sometimes still do!), yes, even in front of the kids at times, then make up in front of them too.

And, by the way, you are divorced, please don’t lose heart – for praise God, He moves in every situation. But do your best to treat your ex-spouse lovingly and kindly now.

Because as strange as it may seem, your marital unity is one of the biggest ways that your kids are going to see…that Jesus is Lord, that Jesus has really come from the Father.

For tomorrow, Thursday, August 6th: Philippians 3

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

What Christianity is Really All About

Have you ever run into a Christian who is all about what you can or can’t do? The Christian life, in their humble opinion, is all about rules, where you can go, what you can eat or drink, what you should or shouldn’t say. Being around such people is tiring…and guilt-inducing.

Romans chapter 14 is about these kinds of folks, and it culminates in a wonderful word in verse 17…

For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (ESV)

So the true Christian life in the Kingdom of God is not about rules of eating and drinking and therefore passing judgment on one another; instead it is really about three things:

1. Righteousness. Clearly Paul’s meaning here is the righteousness of Another, imputed to me, for this has been the topic of his letter so far…

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Romans 3:21, 22 (ESV)

This is what, first and foremost, the Kingdom of God is about: God has loved us so much not only to forgive our sins, but also to give us Christ’s righteousness.

It’s like the story of the man who was deep in debt to a local bank, on the verge of bankruptcy, so he went to the institution in question to see if there was anything they could do to help him.  And as he sat down with the bank manager, she told him that she had the most incredible news for him – the bank was going to totally forgive all his debts. The man was now totally debt free.  And yet, if you consider it, his condition was in some ways no different than when he had walked in.  He was still flat broke.  But then she said something even more amazing – the bank was going to put his name on its account books as a holder of all the bank’s assets.  Everything the bank now held was his also. He was now wealthy beyond his wildest dreams.

Such is what has happened to us as well. God has not only forgiven us our sins, but He has granted us Christ’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). We the ungodly are now gloriously rich in righteousness.

2. Peace. People who are about eating and drinking and rules never quite find peace.  But righteousness from God leads to this glorious state.  Since we are completely righteous in God’s eyes, we need never again fear that God will reject us.  Having been justified (declared righteous) by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1). My son wrote about this quite wonderfully here.

3. Joy. I hope you’re not surprised to find this one on the list. We shouldn’t be, for these three incredible gifts from God all flow together.  If I have peace with God, then all is right with the world – and I am therefore full of joy which leads to all sorts of other wonderful outcomes, like strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and hope.

And Paul has a concluding exhortation: So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (Romans 14:19) While we want to help one another pursue holiness, and we are called to turn one another from the error of our ways (James 5:20), the best way to do this is not to point the finger and list the rules.  To be sure, sometimes we do need to distinquish clear biblical right and wrong for our brothers and sisters, but beyond that we point to the cross and list our hope in Christ.  And the end result is righteousness, peace…and joy.


Tomorrow, Thursday, April 9th: Romans 15


Posted by on April 8, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , ,

The Missing Peace by Josh Knowlton


Celebrating Josh’s 20th birthday a month ago at Wheaton College

(Note from Roger:Today I have asked one of my favorite people in the world to be a guest blogger.  He is my one and only son, Josh Knowlton. Josh is a sophomore at Wheaton College studying Anthropology.  Aside from academics, Josh is a member of the Wheaton Men’s Glee Club and the acapella group, Thundertones. He’s also a weekly worship leader for three-year-old Sunday School at the Church of the Resurrection and also leads a weekly ministry to teach English to native Chinese speakers in the Chinatown area of Chicago. Lastly, he also occasionally writes a personal devotional from his Scripture reading. So for today…I asked him to go public. Be sure to share freely!)

One of the deepest cries of every soul is the plea for peace. Not having peace is like a restless night’s sleep. You toss and you turn as your bed creaks and moans. Your pillow always has a lump in it; your sheets always have a crinkle. The temperature either makes you shiver or sweat, as nagging frustration runs through your mind. And when you wake up the next morning in a half-sleep stupor, you end up more tired than you were the night before. Not peace.

This “not peace”  is a constant reality everywhere we turn. It happens at home in the sounds of raised voices; it happens at work in gossip or a biting remark; it happens at school in the form of stress and “being left out”; it happens in the world in the ways of Ferguson, Ukraine and Russia, ISIS.

Every night, the world has insomnia. It’s tossing and turning, desperate for some peace it believes should be here. Restless for rest. But every morning we awake to a world that seems worse off than it was before.

And yet, Paul says that because we have been “justified by faith” by Jesus’ death and resurrection, we can have peace! True peace, a “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Although the world may still be broken and restless in endless ways, God wants us to experience his peace by being in a relationship with him, by knowing his grace.

This probably isn’t shocking to you. But it should be. You see, God knows the words you’re going to say before you even think to say them (Psalm 139:4). He’s numbered your days, and knows what each one will be like (Psalm 139:16). He knows you, the real you. He knows your family history and your inside jokes with your best friends. He’s watched and smiled at your most embarrassing moments, and applauded you at your biggest successes. And he knows your sin—the horrible things you wish you could forget and the little things you can’t even remember.

God knows you better than Google knows your search history. And yet he still loves you endlessly. And as Paul says, he lets us, unclean sinners, enter into a peace with him. No more restless nights, right?

Maybe one day. But for now, this isn’t quite the end of the story. We still live in a world full of violent unrest, unrelenting agitation. Not peace: suffering. And even though as Christians, the Holy Spirit has given us peace, there’s still going to battles we have to face—there’s still going to be suffering.

So how does this suffering work into this plan of peace?

Paul, as usual, has the answer. He outlines: “suffering produces endurance…endurance produces character…and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3).

You see, suffering is like a super-charged, rocket-engine fuel that is agonizing to produce, but ultimately launches our hope in God into the stratosphere. Just like rocket science, it’s hard to understand—especially when you’re living through that suffering. But with Christ working through our suffering—we end up producing hope. It’s kinda like putting last week’s garbage in a blender and ending up with the new iPhone 6. It’s wonderful, beautiful, impossible, glorious. It’s Christ working through us.

Without Christ, peace is like a puff of smoke we see but can’t contain, a handful of sand running through our fingertips. But with Christ, peace is a reality that takes hold in our hearts. And it’s here for us—here for you.


For tomorrow, Friday, March 27th: Romans 6

While you’re at it, here’s another story about Josh…


Posted by on March 26, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Living the Perfect Life

Imagine living a life where you never messed up, where everything you did was right and true. Imagine living a life where you never sinned.

Such a life would be full of peace and joy. And we know why, right?  Because sin causes such pain, doesn’t it? Just think back to the Holidays that weren’t so long ago: That Thanksgiving meal which became so uncomfortable because of the shouting match between the two sisters…would have never happened, and the turkey would have tasted so much better. Or consider the dreaded credit card bill which is now on its way to so many homes because, among many other things, Mom and Dad felt such need to get little Suzy the latest and greatest dolly with all the clothes and houses. And the idolatry that led Suzy’s momentary joy has stolen away the lasting joy of her parents.

Without sin there would be none of this…just tasty turkey and stuffing…and blessed contentment.

And such was the life of our Lord Jesus, alluded to verse 15 of Matthew 3…

But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. (ESV)

The context is with the crowds on the banks at the Jordan River, when John balked at baptizing the Lord. And why did Jesus insist that John baptize Him? Because it was the right thing to do. Glorious. This was the every-moment life of our Lord, at every turn making the right move, saying the right thing.

Oh, there was pain in Jesus’s life, mind you, the pain of seeing others hurting, the overall pain of existence in a fallen world. But never any of the existential angst you and I deal with every day from our own folly and sin. What a life of peace and joy, always doing the Father’s will, always walking down the clear path and staying out of the ditch.

Never any emotional or physical pain from sin…that is, until Calvary. And then…it was complete and total, absolutely overwhelming pain. There on the cross He felt the pain of the broken relationships of a million turkey dinners, all at once. There on the cross, He experienced the shame and regret of a million bad financial decisions. And more, of course. There was physical pain too, but the worst of it was not the agony of the torturous cross. The worst of it was the agony of the Father’s face turning away from One now so completely…sin.

And all so that if we would place our faith in Him, we might receive His record of “fulfilling all righteousness”…and the glorious peace and joy that accompany it.

Tuesday, January 6: Matthew 4


Posted by on January 5, 2015 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: