100: Upcoming Preaching Changes

This fall we’re making a few changes to our services aimed at advancing our mission to lead unchurched people to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. On the 100th episode of the Clear Creek Resources podcast, Ryan Lehtinen sits down with Bruce Wesley and Yancey Arrington to discuss what went into the decision to lengthen our services, shift to concurrent preaching at all campuses, and gradually move towards more live preaching.

 

Is God Really Active in the World?

How can we say God is working and active if there’s so much evil, pain, and suffering in the world? If God is, in fact, good and loving, then did he just set the world in motion and then let it go its own way?

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Knowing the Big Story: An Intro to Biblical Theology

Let’s be honest, for many, simply opening a Bible can be an incredibly intimidating thing, especially if you find yourself in certain sections of the Old Testament. I can’t tell you how many would-be students charged up the hill of God’s Word ready to “learn the Bible” only to retreat in confusion and despair after getting stuck in places like Deuteronomy or Leviticus. Frankly, that’s why you find many Christians who have read the New Testament several times but haven’t made it through the Old Testament even once.

However, it should encourage us to know that the Old Testament was the Bible used by Jesus and the apostles. Both believed it to be perfectly adequate to teach others about Christ and the Kingdom he was bringing. Luke 24 records Jesus giving two disciples a lesson on how they should see the Old Testament. Walking with them to the town of Emmaus, Jesus pulled out his pocket Old Testament and “beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself,” (Luke 24:27).

Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

– Luke 24:27

Think about this. “Moses and all the Prophets” is shorthand for the entirety of the Old Testament. Do you see the statement Jesus makes? He is saying from Genesis to Malachi, all the Old Testament ultimately points to him. Exodus points to him, Deuteronomy points to him, even Leviticus points to him! Far from being the part of the Bible you should skip, the Old Testament, in some form or fashion, progressively moves the reader down a road that leads to the Person and Work of Jesus.

The study of how every part of the Bible finds its plotline in Jesus is known as biblical theology. It’s an attempt to understand The Big Story of Scripture whereby God is progressively, organically, revealing his plan to redeem sinners through the gospel.

Biblical theology argues that to try to understand the Old Testament outside Jesus not only risks missing the point of the Bible but also that confusion and frustration will abound as you find yourself mired in passages you don’t know what to do with.

The Old Testament is just as much about Jesus as the New.

Graeme Goldsworthy, one of the foremost voices of biblical theology, addressed the essentialness of Jesus in the Old Testament when he wrote: Because the New Testament declares the Old Testament to be incomplete without Christ we must understand the Old Testament in light of its goal which is Christ. Jesus is indispensable to a true understanding of the Old Testament as well as the New (Gospel and Kingdom, 49). He later adds,For the New Testament, the interpretation of the Old Testament is not ‘literal’ but ‘Christological,’ (Gospel and Kingdom, 109).

Want to enjoy the entire bandwidth of Scripture in a way that blesses instead of confuses? Learn biblical theology and how each book of the Bible fits into The Big Story of redemption because we cannot properly interpret any part of Scripture unless, like Jesus, we relate it to his person and work.

Biblical theology…

1. Helps you avoid misapplying the Bible. For example, biblical theology will guard you from moralizing the stories of the Old Testament by seeing how those characters and stories find their place in The Big Story or are a shadow of Christ and his work. You’ll notice how the stories of the Bible serve the story of the Bible, and why trying to turn those stories into a kind of Aesop’s Fables for Christians is a great injustice.

2. Gives you the right questions to ask. You will have confidence that whether you find yourself in Leviticus or any other book of the Bible you know what answers you need to discover like, Where does this stand in God’s progressive plan of redemption? How does this section of Scripture tie to Jesus? What is God revealing to the characters about his plan?

3. Reveals themes, motifs, and concepts that can be traced and developed from Genesis to Revelation. You will learn to see all kinds of redemptive threads woven throughout the Bible that begin with the Old Adam and tie off at the New Adam. It will also convict you of the truth that the Bible is a unified book instead of wrongly pitting the two testaments against each other.

4. Let’s you read the Bible like Jesus read the Bible – a book that from cover to cover is all about him. Jesus reminds us in John 5:39 via a rebuke to the religious leaders of his day, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.” The Old Testament and New are about Jesus.

5. Reminds you of the greatness and glory that can only be found in the One of whom the Bible is ultimately about: Jesus!

 


Recommended Resources

  • Gospel and Kingdom by Graeme Goldworthy
  • The Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts
  • The Big Story by Justin Buzzard

 

096: The Avengers & the Gospel

It’s easy to get swept up in the cinematic universe of Marvel. With its wide range of superheroes and underdogs and its consistent humor and heart, there is something for everyone: spaceships, time travel, spies, and even romance. Beyond the fun and entertainment, these stories also evoke longings we all share like heroism, redemption, and a world rescued from evil.

In this episode, Rachel Chester sits down with Church on Wednesday pastor Lance Lawson, and Mandy Turner, who teaches Clear Creek’s Women’s Systematic class, to discuss their favorite Avengers and how these stories echo the Gospel.

 

What Is My Purpose?

What does God want us to do with our lives? Does he have a plan for each of us? If you’ve ever asked these questions or ones like them, know that the Bible does provide some clarity. Watch this video to learn more.

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094: What Disney’s Soul Says About Purpose and Identity

“Is all this living really worth dying for?” asks 22 — a supporting character in Disney’s Soul. This is the primary question Soul seeks to answer throughout the movie, and it’s the question that many people wrestle with throughout their life. Is there a purpose to living? And if so, what is my purpose? On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen is joined by Aaron Lutz and Lance Lawson to discuss what the Bible says about this topic and how Soul portrays our purpose, identity, and the role of community.

 

What Does it Look Like to Love God?

Jesus said the greatest commandment is for us to love God with all of our heart, soul, and might. But how do we do that? What does that practically look like in our lives?

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Follow Me

A few years ago, a few friends and I road tripped to Colorado to do a bike ride from Durango to Silverton. The route went through two mountain passes that topped out at almost 11,000 feet. I remember as I was nearing the top of the final climb, I was going slow enough that I kept wondering if it would be faster to just get off my bike and walk.

But, then I looked up and saw a sign just ahead; I had made it to the summit.

Immediately, everything changed.

The road started going down. I could catch my breath. I could enjoy the scenery, and I was going fast enough that I didn’t even have to pedal. Just getting over that mountain pass made all the difference.

The gospel of Luke gives us the story of how Matthew became one of the twelve disciples of Jesus.

Before he met Jesus, Matthew was a tax collector. During the Roman rule, the Roman government would hire Jewish men to collect taxes from the Jewish community. This system encouraged corruption and extortion, and the profession was viewed as being made up of traitors, cheaters, and liars. They were socially, morally, and religiously outcasts of the society.

But then something happened that changed everything for Matthew.

After this he [Jesus] went out and saw a tax collector named Levi [again that’s Matthew], sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.”  And leaving everything, he rose and followed him.

– Luke 5:27-28

That’s it for Matthew’s story. One day he’s sitting at a tax booth, scamming people, and the next, he leaves everything and follows Jesus.

He’s all in.

And pretty much that’s all that’s said about him in the rest of the Bible, except for the mention of him being one of the twelve disciples following Jesus.

There’s something about his story — and stories like his — that for a long time in my life confused me.

I grew up going to church as a young kid, more so when I was younger but less toward high school. And throughout that whole time, I made some assumptions about church and Christianity based on what I had observed of people who said they were Christians. You see, I always thought church was just a lame hobby where you tried to be good person. It was this one-hour religious thing, where you wore clothes you normally didn’t wear, and talked like you normally didn’t talk.

So, what it seemed like was there were some people who were really into it, but most people were content to be on the fringe. Half in and half out. Like, “We’ll come on Sunday some. But we’re not coming to your weird potluck in the fellowship hall. That’s not us.”

That influenced not only how I viewed church but how I viewed God.

I thought, as long as I was morally in that middle ground with everyone else, then me and God were okay too — that God was just happy to be included as if he was just looking for some friends. Low commitment required. The goal was to try to live life, be a good guy, and sprinkle a little religion on there every once in a while.

So “all-in” stories of complete life-change like Matthew really confused me.

There was no promise attached to it like riches or blessing, and no real direction for what would happen next. All Jesus said was, “follow me.”

Why did Matthew leave everything? Why couldn’t he just keep doing what he was doing, go to church, try to be a little less shady, and sprinkle a little religion on there?

Why couldn’t he just stay in the middle ground?

It wasn’t until I went to college and attended a church there with some of my friends that I finally got it. I finally understood, because the same thing that happened to Matthew happened to me. I met Jesus. Not literally. Matthew literally met Jesus. But it felt like that. I was introduced to who Jesus really is, as he’s revealed himself in the Bible.

Suddenly, I was all-in. Everything changed for me — my values, my dreams, my purpose, the way I ordered my life, the way I viewed other people — everything changed.

But, the truth is just knowing who Jesus is, is not enough. Jesus came to Matthew and then he called him to do something. He simply said, “Follow me.” But then Matthew had a choice to make — to stay or follow.

And, so do we.

What does it look like to follow Jesus?

In his Gospel account, Matthew recorded what Jesus, himself, said is the answer to this question as he was speaking to his disciples.

It’s what changed everything for me.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 

– Matthew 16:24-25

This is probably very different than what the disciples originally pictured when they signed up for all of this.

But, notice, this description is who Jesus is as a person, and what he did for us —he humbled himself, denied himself, and went to a cross.

He’s saying that’s what it looks like to follow him.

It’s just not about what we get out of it. It’s not about personal gain. And it’s not about all the great things we get to do.

So, what do you get by following Jesus if you’re not getting stuff from him?

You get Jesus.

Looking at Matthew’s story, that’s all that Jesus offers him. He just said, “Follow me. If you leave everything you know and come with me, you get me.”

So this is what I realized as a half-in, half-out supposed “Christian.” When Jesus says, “follow me,” he’s only giving you one way to do it: deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow him.

There’s no middle ground.

No hanging onto your shady tax collecting business. No hanging onto your sin. No hanging onto living life with just a little religion sprinkled on it.

You must leave all of that behind and follow him.

And when you do, everything changes.


 

Upstream: Believing in the Jesus of the Bible

If you’ve ever been to the Guadalupe River you probably know that the river is controlled upstream by the Canyon Dam which forms Canyon Lake.

The idea for Canyon Dam was first conceived after two major flash floods in the 1930s to control the flow of the river.

When there are heavy rains upstream in the Hill Country, the water flows downstream and can flood towns and cause all sorts of problems. So, dams like Canyon Dam are created to manipulate and regulate the source upstream so you get the river downstream that you want.

If you want a river to be nice, predictable, and controlled, and a place where you can get sunburned and dehydrated on a tube, then you go upstream and build a dam to give you that.

We do that same thing with how we live our lives in relation to God.

We want “following Jesus” to be predictable and controlled. We want things to be done a certain way.

And so, we go upstream and manipulate the source of the river. We create a version of Jesus that’s more palatable, that allows us to follow him the way we want.

If you want to be healthy and wealthy, then you create this Prosperity version of Jesus who just wants you to be financially and materially blessed.

If you want to be a casual church-goer when it’s convenient, with no real commitment, saying things like, “I’ll come on Sundays sometimes, but I’m not going to give,” or “I’ll come on Sunday, but I’m not going to be in one of your weird small groups,” then you go upstream and create a version of Jesus who’s just looking for friends to occasionally visit him.

We determine how we want to live — we define what it means to follow Jesus — and then we go upstream and create the version of Jesus who will bless that.

But when that happens, what we discover is the Jesus we claim to follow looks less like the Jesus of the Bible and a lot more like us.

What I really need, and what you really need, is to discover the real Jesus, not the one made up of things we want to be true. And when we do, we learn what it looks like to follow him on his terms.

So, let’s look at how Jesus is described in the Bible.

We could look in a lot of places in Scripture, but one of the clearest statements about who Jesus is and what he came to do is in Philippians 2:6-8.

[Jesus], though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

This is a theologically rich text about who Jesus is, and it says something profound about him: Jesus was no ordinary man.

He was in the form of God, meaning he was equal with God. But he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,” or, saying that another way, he did not take his equality with God as something to use for his advantage.

Instead, he laid that down. He emptied himself, became a servant, and was born a man.

Jesus is God in the flesh. But, by becoming a man, he willingly took a lowly status and position. He descended from the highest glory to the lowest depths. He was submitting himself to God’s plan to redeem mankind.

The ultimate picture of his humility was his death on a cross. Jesus, as fully God and fully man, lived a perfect life and died on the cross as punishment for our sin, and then rose again three days later, conquering death.

So, here’s what we learn about Jesus: the real Jesus — the Jesus of the Bible — is a crucified Jesus.

He’s the Holy, Creator of all. And he looks at you and me and knows everything about us – every thought and every action. He knows we’re sinners. He knows we can’t follow all the rules no matter how hard we try. He knows we rightfully deserve to be punished for our sin. He knows that we have no hope without him.

And he loves us, still.

He’s not the Jesus we create to fit what we want our lives to look like. He’s better than anything we could dream up.


 

Why is the Bible so Violent?

If you’ve ever read the Old Testament of the Bible, you’ve read stories where God’s people committed violent acts against other people, and sometimes God even told them to do it. So how can we reconcile the violence of the Bible with a good and loving God?

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