Pretty Feet Publications Vol 1 No 1
Messengers of Good News
By Tom Lane
"We've a story to tell to the nations." "Go and make disciples of all nations," said Jesus. Here is the Christian's paramount concern, the divine charge which, of all people in the world, only we can carry out. Ours is the task of offering the world life through the message of Christ.
Let's consider the glory and the great responsibility inherent in our task. Romans 10:1-15 is a key and lovely description of the Christian's work of communicating the good news about Christ. Here Paul gives us insight into the content of our message, and notes how our task follows from the nature of the gospel itself. Let's analyze this familiar but always important passage.
"My heart's desire and prayer to God for the Israelites," wrote Paul, "is that they may be saved" (verse 1). In this section of his epistle to the Christians in Rome, Paul, designated by Christ a special envoy to the Gentile peoples, expresses his compassionate longing for the salvation of his Jewish kinsmen. He is sad that they have rejected Christ in their blindness; for they were searching for God's favor, but not in the way He intended. They pursued righteousness --that. is, holiness and right standing with God-- by meticulous obedience to the laws of Moses, but were so caught up in their efforts to commend themselves to God by their own goodness that they could not conceive the righteousness, the reconciliation with God, now made available in Christ (verses 2,3).
The old laws of Moses could be a harsh frustrating way of life if one tried to get right with God on the basis of his own unwavering obedience (verse S). For, no matter how hard one might try to keep the law in its every detail, failure was certain. But now the magnificent graciousness of God has come to us through Christ, who has in himself satisfied the requirements of the law so that everyone who believes in Him might receive fellowship with God on account of his very faith (verse 4). God's message to us and to all the world --His good news, or gospel-- is this: Christ has made restitution to God for our failures and our neglect of Him, opening to us the way to God's favor. If we believe in the deity, saving power, and Lordship of Christ, we may receive the gift of God's companionship. "God made him who had no sin to be a sin offering for us, so that in him, we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5: 21). "This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe" (Romans 3:22).
Unlike the old laws of Moses, then, the Christian hope, the Christian charter of salvation, is not a roster of good deeds we must do in the attempt to become perfect and perfectly worthy before God. Instead ours is the righteousness which is credited to us on the basis of our faith in Christ, the supremely worthy One. "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (see verses 9:13).
It is our faith which God accepts as righteousness. But our faith is more than just intellectual assent to doctrinal facts, or a lifeless passive sentiment. Our faith is a vital, vibrant, active, aggressive response to God which leads us to serve Him. We do good deeas, not in the vain hope ope of making ourselves worthy of God's attention (it is Christ's worthiness which God looks at, for we could never be perfect in ourselves), but as our spontaneous expression of joyous gratitude to God for saving us by His own graciousness. And so ou.r heartfelt faith leads us to "confess Christ as Lord. Paul's words here signify more than just a verbal acknowledgement of Christ, like the recitation of some creed, but instead the living of a life of service to Christ. To "confess with the mouth" that Jesus is Lord, means, by a poetic expression of the sort typical in ancient Near Eastern literature, to follow Christ as Lord. This we do by imitating His example of purity and love, and by obeying His comission, "Go and tell others!"
Believe with your heart and confess by your actions, and you will be saved: this is the message of God to us. And this, Paul suggests, is the message that had been diligently offered his countrymens but which they had refused to heed. Let us not disregard this great gift of God's grace! His grace is not inaccessible or hidden, nor hard to obtain, but Is abundantly available to all who will have it (so we don't have to go searching it out, in the apt imagery of verses 6 and 7). The word of God is near us (verse 8) : the substance of the gospel message is readily understood by all who are willing to listen with an open heart.
The glorious message of Christ has come near to us. It Is the message that all who believe will be saved. But this message cannot work its saving effect unless we proclaim it (verses 14 j 15) The Christian has a thrilling responsibility to tell others about Christ. Our task derives from the character of God's saving plan. Reconciliation to God is the consequence of faith, and faith is a hearer's response of heart and mind and will to the story of Christ and His redeeming work. How can people believe unless they hear? And how can they hear about Christ unless we tell them? Proclamation of the gospel is our urgent work of leading athers into God' fellowship.
We who have received God's "good news" (Greek euangelion, hence the term, "evangelism") must tell it to others in turn. This is a responsibility incumbent upon every Christian. Obedient to the commission Of Christ, compelled by gratitude for God's grace, and filled with compassion for those 1iving without the hope and wholeness Christ brings (just as Paul moved by compassion toward his Jewish brothers), we share the things we have heard and experienced. We portray Christ to others by our patient, steadfast example of purposeful and holy living. We proclaim Christ to others by our well—considered words, whether in testimony before large groups ("evangelistic meetings"), or what is more effective -- in personal, one—on-one contact with our unconverted friends. To all people in every way, we present the message about the righteousness which God imputes the Christian on the basis of his faith.
What a great confidence Cod hag placed in us in making us stewards of His gospel! And how awesome a responsibility is ours: we wield the keys of the heavenly realm, for the door to the kingdom is the message which God places In our hands (cf. Matthew 16:19). As Paul so eloquently put it, quoting Isaiah 52: 7, "How can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?. . . Ag it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news (euvangelion) If we conscientiously pursue our task, how great are our rewards. We share the joy of those who, through our teaching and example, embrace life in Christ, and we receive the commendation of the Father for a trust faithfully fulfil—led.
Go Down Moses
By Rich Mullins
Its so easy for us to get excited about the deliverance of the Is«aelites from Egypt — the parting of the Red Sea, the sending of the manna, the water pouring from the rock, the conquest of Canaan... it's often held up as picture of our own deliverance and pilgrimage in the Spiritual realm. It is interesting, though, that we seldom start at the beginning of che Exodus account with Moses -- already snug and comfy in the safety of Midian -- being called into Egypt.
Why Start there? After all there's little excitement in that part of the story except for maybe the burning bush. There is little in our daily walk that parallels with the pre-exilic Moses. Isn't our jorney to the promised land instead of our of it?
Moses may well have agreed with us, except that into the midst of his sanctuary three disturbing realizations came. He realized that he was only one part of God's possession (Ex. 3 : 6) and not the culmination of history. He was made aware that many (most, in fact) Of God's people were living outside of the land God had promised them (Ex. 3 7—9) and were being oppressed by foreign powers. He came to understand that God wanted to use him to bring deliverance to the rest of His flock (Ex. 3 10— 15) and would enable him to do it. It was these ideas that led Moses into Egypt and began the exodus of the nation of Israel out of it...
So what does that have to do with us? A lot, I think. Many of us are safe at home in the comforts of Christendom -- enjoying our freedoms and prosperity, going to Christian concerts and Church meetings and Bible studies, comparing notes with others in the rich, comfortable wraps of ecclesiastical jargon (or "born again" lingo if you prefer) and never giving a second thought about those whom Christ died for who have never accepted twhat they are unsaware of. We go off to Christian cofee-houses to meet with our Christian friends and talk to one another about getting into Christian vocations and what a drag secular fields are. Meanwhile, the people we're schooled with or work with wonder among themselves what real life is all about and who will show them.
We need to face the burning bush. We need to hear the call to go into Egypt - to leave the ninety and ninety and nine so as to find the one, to "be," as Jesus said, "in the world" though we are not of it. The world is out place of work, the field that is "ripe for the harvest." Yet it's the house where we want to spend our time. If we do -- if we loaf it off in the house, what fruits will we have for God?
It's nice to know that we are saved. It's good to know that Christ died for us, but, just as God wanted more than just Moses to be safely removed from Egypt, so more people than just the churched ones need to know that Christ is the propitiation of sin - nit just of ours and our small circle of friends; but of "the world's." (I John 2:2)
It is in the world that the real adventure occurs. It's there with your heathen boss, your agnostic neighbor, your uptight atheist coach that the real stuff of Christianity comes into play.
So let's uncloister. If we believe that God is so good we need not be threatened by those He loves who have never seen His love -- we only need to be sensitized by them to the labor to which we're called. The fruit will follow.
This does not mean that we should isolate ourselves from Christians. NO -- that is not at all a good idea. Maybe, though, we could integrate our circles so that we could be the recipients of spiritual nourishment and also the distributors of it. Then our growth will be meaningful, because it will be of benefit to those whom we are called to love. After all, what would Moses' spirituality have been worth had he stayed in Midian?
How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news! Be beautiful. Sow the seed in those barren fields until they sprout with glory to God, Tell them. Start the journey.
The rolling back of the Red Sea is one of the most sensational miracles in the Old Testament, but the rolling back of Moses' heart must be more profound. It would be simple for a mindless sea to be obedient to the command of an omniscient God, but so hard for a willful man to be likewise obedient. Thank God, then, that, in His patients, He will use men who are free to obey or disobey -- to bring about the miracle of redemption. And pray God that, obediently, we can be a part of the greater miracle.
Once Upon A Time...
By Gary Rowe
a great hunter, armed with a bow and arrow, was stalking the woods for prey. Peering thru the thick patches of underbrush, he spied a large whitetailed deer and its youngling grazing in the clearing. Moved by the beauty of the sight, the hunter put his bow away and shot the deer with a rifle instead. The point of this story escapes me, except to remind you that there is another branch of Zion Ministries: PRETTY GOOD RETREATS.
The need and the ministry of Christian music is important, especially in this day and age. So is the need for Christian education, fellowship, and discipleship, and that is why we have developed PRETTY GOOD RETREATS. God calls us to maturity in Him, and that can come only through a long process of growth. Through our retreats we'd like to help you and your group in that processs. There is no instant maturity. Pauls and Timothies aren't built in a weekend, but if we can help you in your ministry and the believers you serve, give us a call. We have several retreats we can offer, or can develop one especiially for the needs of your people. Give us a call. We are here to serve.
By Pam Zea
Zion is a group that seems to enjoy shocking people - but calling your publication department "pretty feet" is too much! Have you no pride? This is a shame!
Are we to assume - as this name suggests - that this is just a flippant pariody of Christian journalism? Can't you be serious?
Of all the parts of the body (and why do you go to the body for titles rather than the Scriptures), feet are the most offensive.
For these reasons may I suggest these more apt possibilities:
The New Christian Standard
The Wittenburg Door
Anything but "Pretty Feet!"
Thank you for your letter. I hope you don't mind our publishing it, because it brings the values of the name, "Pretty Feet" to our attention, and makes a perfect sounding board against which to articulate them.
We live in a soceity that places high values on glamour. We talk about "Moving up" -- putting some prideful distance between ourselves and "dirt." Yet God, in His infinite sense of humour made us so that no matter how loftily we hold our heads or point our noses, our feet are still at home on the ground - humbly reminding us of our numanity.
And remember -- it was our feet that Jesus wanted to wash and in doing so, sanctify. So we at Zion want to honour Him and the precident He so beautifully made. We are not outside the limits of scripture -- rather we believe that are very near the very heart of New Testament Scriptues.
Also, Paul talks about our being parts of The Body, and, in fact, specifies that some of us are the feet. Those must be the people who are the most effecting on the world -- those closest to the action. And it is by the movement of the spirit in these sanctified (but unglamourous) parts that the rest of the Body is mobilized into ministry. They are vital to the work to which the Church is called and for which She was brought into being.
So with our name, we at Zion Ministries Inc. want to encourage those of you who are the Feet of the Body of Christ in your part, and to exhort those of you who are not so near the "dirt" of the world to rejoice in the ministry of those who aren't spotlighted. Let's all work together as one body to thank Him for the beauty He imputes to the Feet that carry that proclaimation.
The PFP Editorial Staff.
Zion Ministries is growing up in a lot of ways.We are experiencing the financial growth necessary for the growth of our outreaches. Many of you have joined in this ministry effort through financial support and in doing that have freed us up to expand and improve. For this we thank you and we thank God for you and hope that you can get in on the joy that we experienced when we see the good things that are happening in the Kingdom through this work. We'd like to keep you up on what's happening and so maybe pass some of the blessings on to you.
Zion -- the music part - is still Tom Weimer, Beth Snell, Rich Mullins and Jenny Filson. They are presently working on a project that should be some interest to those of you who like their music -- it's an album, hopefully released some time this Spring or Summer. Kepp them in your prayers. In the meantime, ther eare still lots of concerts and practices and new music - some things never change...
Pretty Good Retreats -- headed up by Gary Rowe - is seeing some real growth... more retreats and improvements on old retreats. Our retreat schedule is holding up with the summer we hope to see some camp work and all.
Pam Zea has fallen victim to the old secretarial work - keeping calendars and typing and phoning and booking and whatever else that goes on in the tiny little office of ours.
And the Lord is giving the increase! Zion is growing -- thanks to lots of you. There's more to come.
MTLBYFZ -- The PFP staff