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Today I would like to invite you to listen to a conversation I had with my friend, Bill Adkins. Bill and his wife Linda have a wonderful story about how they chose to help a young single mom and her 4-year-old daughter. That was nearly 15 years ago and both mother and daughter are still an important part of their life. Not only is this story worth sharing in its own right, but it led to a great conversation about how Christians can think outside the box when reaching out to help people in our community. I hope this story encourages and inspires you as much as it did me.

If you enjoy this show, you can help others discover it by sharing it on social media and by leaving a rating and review on iTunes. You can also help by checking out Logos Bible Software. Logos has partnered with us to give our listeners a great discount. Just visit RadicallyChristian.com/logos.

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I don’t normally review or promote products on this blog, but because I’ve really been blown away by Logos Bible Software I am willing to make an exception. The kind folks at Faithlife gave me a free upgrade to the new Logos 8 to review and after reviewing it for the last few weeks, I believe there are some features which could really transform your Bible study. Here are some of my thoughts on Logos Bible Software.

Digital Bible Study

Before I get specific about Logos, let me say a word about studying the Bible digitally versus studying from a paper Bible and other physical resources.

I love physical Bibles. I have more physical Bibles than I care to count. Lately, I’ve especially been enjoying the ESV Scripture Journals. Each volume is both an individual book of the Bible and also a lined journal. They are absolutely amazing.

But I also love using digital Bibles and resources. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Saves money. Digital Bibles and resources are so much less expensive. I can afford to have a much larger digital library than a physical library.
  2. Saves space. My Logos software contains almost 1,000 resources and I can take all of those resources with me on my laptop, my iPhone, and my iPad. That means I can carry my entire digital library in my pocket!
  3. Saves time. When I’m looking for a quote or nugget of wisdom, I don’t have the time to take 1,000 books off of the shelf and scan them all, but I do have time to type in a search filed and allow the software to instantly scan a 1,000 resources.

Again, I’m not claiming digital resources are better than physical resources. I’m saying it’s a blessing to have access to both.

Canvas Feature

Although I haven’t been able to use it much yet, I’m really excited about Logos’ new Canvas feature. It allows you to insert a passage of Scripture on to a digital canvas and then add shapes, lines, arrows, highlights, and other elements to emphasize words or even diagram sentences. You can move words around. You can add other information to the side. It seems there are countless creative things you could do with the Canvas feature.

Basically, I think of it like having a whiteboard on which to write a passage and then having the ability to work with the passage in creative ways to help you understand it and even teach it to others.

Explorer Tool

One of the features I use a lot is the Explorer tool. If I open the Explorer tool and search for a passage, it lists the biblical events, people, places, and things found in that passage. It also lists any media, content, or commentaries that I have in my library which reference that passage. Additionally, it cross-references Scripture associated with that passage.

The Explorer tool allows me to find every resource in my library associated with that passage. It lets me dive deeper into any subject or person mentioned in that passage. Not only does this save time when studying a passage, but more importantly, it helps ensure you don’t miss any relevant information about that passage.

Inductive Bible Study Workflow

Logos 8 is equipped with multiple “workflows,” which allow you to study through a passage, a subject, a word, or even write a sermon without missing any steps. My favorite workflow in Logos is the “inductive Bible study.” When I teach people how to study the Bible, I always encourage people to study the Bible inductively.

There are three major steps to inductive Bible study: observation, interpretation, and application. The Logos Inductive Bible Study workflow walks you through those three steps (and all of the sub-steps) so that when you complete the workflow, you have an excellent understanding of the passage.

We have all developed some bad Bible study habits. Maybe we have a tendency to read a passage and then make application to our lives without really understanding what the passage meant to the original audience. Tools like this help ensure we don’t skip steps like that.

Video Tutorials

Logos is such a powerful piece of software that it can be pretty overwhelming. Thankfully, Logos has provided some excellent video tutorials on their YouTube channel. If you want to learn a feature, then just watch their video on that particular feature.

Getting Started • Logos 8 - YouTube

The Price

Admittedly, Logos is not cheap. They have several different packages, but they are all fairly expensive. Thankfully, Logos is offering you a discount for being a reader of my blog. Just go to Logos.com/partner/radicallychristian and make sure to use the code RADICALLYCHRISTIAN8 when you check out.

One thing you might also consider is purchasing Logos for an elder, Bible class teacher, or preacher you know. You could share the cost with several members of your congregation and give Logos as a Christmas gift. Most preachers I know would be absolutely thrilled to receive such a gift.

Whether you (or someone you know) want to learn about Greek, Hebrew, biblical archeology, biblical geography, or just have more resources at your fingertips and be a better Bible student, Logos is truly a great tool.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams

Note: I only recommend products that I personally use and in which I believe. You certainly do not have to use the above links to find and purchase the products mentioned, but if you do, it will help to keep this blog going because the companies share a small royalty for every purchase made using those links.

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Today I would like to invite you to listen to a conversation I had with my friend, Caleb Cochran. This is a conversation about suffering with various types of anxiety. Caleb isn’t a psychiatrist or medical professional, he’s an evangelist for the church in Rockville, Maryland and he is personally suffered with anxiety, so he has a heart for ministering to others who suffer in this way. Whether or not you personally deal with anxiety, you likely know someone who does. So  this is a relevant discussion for us all.

Instructions for Subscribing to the Podcast:

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If you enjoyed this CrossTalk podcast, be sure to check out:

www.facebook.com/radicallychristian

www.facebook.com/theccmr

www.twitter.com/wesmcadams

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In the book of Ephesians, Paul emphasized (as he always seemed to do) that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was not a new idea. Everything Jesus accomplished was part of God’s plan since “before the foundation of the world.” But there was one thing that was surprising about the Gospel, one thing that had been a secret or a “mystery” before, but now was revealed by the Gospel. What was that “mystery”? What had God’s people not expected the Messiah to bring about? What was surprising about the Gospel? Paul answers that question in Ephesians.

What Do You Think the Mystery Is?

I’ve always assumed the mystery was something like this: Prior to Jesus, the Jews expected a physical kingdom. They thought the Messiah would come and give them the land back (as the prophets all seemed to say) and the Jews would live happily under the Messiah’s reign forever. However, Jesus died and was raised so they could be part of a spiritual kingdom and go up to heaven someday to live with God.

I always thought the mystery was that the Jews were expecting something “physical,” but God had in mind something “spiritual.” I thought the mystery was that all of the “physical” things in the Old Testament were just pointing forward to “spiritual” things in the New Testament. I tried to read the whole Bible with this sort of typology mentality until I realized I was overcomplicating the story and misreading everything.

So, take just a second and ask yourself: What is the mystery? What is the thing that was hidden from God’s people before Jesus came and revealed God’s master plan?

The Mystery Revealed

Paul wrote to the Ephesians telling them exactly what the mystery was:

When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Did you read that? The mystery is not that the Jews were hoping for the wrong things. The mystery is not about spiritual versus physical. The mystery is simple, “Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

The mystery that was hidden in previous generations, but came to light in Christ, was that the people of God who would “acquire possession” of the promised inheritance would be made up of both Jews and Gentiles. That is the thing the Jews did not expect. That is the part of God’s master plan that was so surprising.

From Death to Life

The first three chapters of Ephesians are spent describing in great detail the glorious blessings that Gentile Christians have received. Paul reminded them that, prior to Christ, they were “dead in their sins and trespasses.” Obviously, they were not dead in a medical sense, so we ought to ask ourselves in what sense they were dead.

Many say, as I have often said before, “Paul means they were ‘spiritually dead.’” But as far as I know, the word “spiritually” is never used in Scripture to describe death. A person can be “spiritually alive” when the Spirit of God dwells within them, but there is no place in Scripture that speaks of being “spiritually dead.” It is as nonsensical as, “Brightly dark.” They are opposite ideas and cannot be paired together in such a way.

Therefore, I think it is better to take Paul’s words to mean that before Christ, the Ephesians were “condemned” in their sins. Death had a claim on them. Before Christ, they would have died without any hope of being raised to immortality. They were dead in the same way Adam and Eve died the day they ate the fruit in the Garden of Eden; driven away from the tree of life, condemned to death.

But when the Ephesians put their faith in Jesus and were baptized into him, they were given life. Not life in a metaphorical sense, but literal life. Because of Jesus, death no longer had a claim on them. When Jesus returns, our Ephesian brothers and sisters will be raised to live forever “in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

Royalty in Christ

In addition to the language about being dead and now being alive, Paul also uses all kinds of language that makes one think of royalty. These Gentile Christians, by putting their faith in Jesus, had become part of the ruling class. They had been exalted to seats in the “heavenly places” with Jesus. This isn’t just part of the future promise, but part of their present reality as Paul is writing them this letter.

Paul described how these Gentiles used to be cut off from God and the promises of Israel. He said they had been hopeless aliens and strangers, but because of “the blood of Christ,” they had been reconciled and even exalted. He wrote, “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

This royalty language soon gives way to temple language as Paul describes how they are the temple of God where the Holy Spirit dwells.

Walk Worthy of the Calling

The first three chapters set the stage for the final chapters of Ephesians. In chapter four, Paul transitions from, These are the blessings of being part of God’s royal family, and transitions to, Since you’re part of God’s royal family, here is how you must live. These Gentiles are actually not Gentiles anymore. They are now part of the new Israel, the new creation, and they must live like it.

Applying Ephesians to our lives, if we want to be part of the new Israel, the new creation, we also must “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” If we are in Christ, we are no longer Gentiles, we are part of God’s royal family. We must live like new creation people if we hope to one day “acquire possession” of the inheritance God has promised to his people.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams
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The book of Galatians might be the earliest of Paul’s epistles and it is definitely the harshest. When this letter was written to the churches in Galatia, Paul was steaming mad with righteous anger because false teachers were corrupting the churches he planted on his first missionary journey. Here are a few things I noticed in Galatians about the gospel, the promises of God, the Law of Moses, and the Spirit.

Distorting the Gospel

Paul dealt with a particular problem throughout his ministry: Jewish Christians who insisted that Gentile Christians should be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to be considered part of the community of faith. In Galatia, it seems there were some Jewish church leaders who gave into this way of thinking primarily out of fear. Paul said they started teaching this idea “in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ.”

These Jewish church leaders knew they could escape persecution if they were to say to their Jewish persecutors, “No, we aren’t part of that radical group of Jesus followers. We are not fraternizing with uncircumcised people. These Gentile we eat with are converts to Judaism. See, they have been circumcised and they keep the Law.”

Out of fear, these Jewish Christians taught their Gentile brethren, “It’s great that you believe in our Messiah, but now you also need to be circumcised and keep the Law. But if you remain uncircumcised, then I can’t even eat with you.” They taught that the Law was the true basis for a right relationship with God and circumcision was still the sign that a person was part of the covenant people of God.

Paul called the ideas being spread in Galatia a different, distorted, and contrary gospel.

Now, let me clear on something. It is not fair or accurate to call every teaching with which you disagree a “distortion of the gospel” or a “different gospel.” If someone has different views on some things, it doesn’t necessarily mean he or she has “fallen from grace” or believed “another gospel.” In fact, it seems to me that a lot of folks accuse others of distorting the gospel when they themselves often have very little understanding about what the gospel really says.

The Gospel

What is the gospel? Most of us probably know that gospel means “good news.” But “good news” about what? What is the good news? What has “the cross of Christ” really accomplished? We really ought to learn to think and speak within the categories laid out in books like Galatians.

If there is one phrase in Galatians that defines the gospel it would be this, “Jesus Christ…gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever.” And there is another phrase that Paul actually says is the gospel being preached to Abraham, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

The gospel is not a set of rules. The gospel is not a new law from God. The gospel is that Jesus has given himself to deliver people of all nations from the present evil age and secure for them the inheritance God promised to Abraham. That is the gospel. So, the next logical question is, “Who are the people being delivered from the present evil age and who will inherit these blessings?”

Heirs of the Promises

Christians today tend to ask very different questions than the questions actually being addressed in Scripture. We ask questions like, “What do I need to do to make sure I get to go to heaven?” Do you notice how that doesn’t sound anything like what Paul addresses in this (or any) letter? Paul isn’t addressing how to go to heaven, he is addressing who are the heirs of the promises God made to Abraham.

Do you remember the story we started all the way back in Genesis? We haven’t switched stories. The Bible hasn’t suddenly changed storylines on us. It hasn’t suddenly become a story about floating on a cloud for eternity.

What Paul wrote in Galatians is that Gentiles who have given their faithful loyalty to King Jesus have become descendants of Abraham, heirs of the promises God made to their father Abraham. Paul writes:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

A Gentile woman, a slave boy, a pious Jew, a Gentile landowner, Jesus has given himself to deliver all of these people from the present evil age and make them heirs according to promise. It would be hard for a Jew to accept, but Paul really did claim that through Jesus, every believer in Jesus could consider himself or herself a descendant of Abraham.

The Spirit

Paul also made the point that the presence of God’s Spirit within their lives is the evidence that uncircumcised Christians really are full-fledged members of the covenant community of God. In other words, circumcision is not the sign of belonging to God, the sign is the presence of the Holy Spirit. And he emphatically reminded them that the Spirit, and not the flesh, needs to be their concern.

Some of the people in Galatia were concerned with whether or not a man’s “flesh” had been cut away, but they needed to be concerned with whether or not a man was full of, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” These qualities are from the Spirit. This is the fruit the Spirit of God produces in a person’s life when he or she walks by the Spirit instead of by the flesh.

It seems to me, Christians today walk by the flesh when we are overly concerned about the appearance of things rather than the work of the Spirit in our lives. Like the Galatians, we also need to walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh. We need to learn not to put yokes of slavery on one another. We need to learn to embrace our identity as Abraham’s children, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, delivered from the present evil age, and awaiting our inheritance from “the Jerusalem above” to which we belong.

I love you and God loves you,

Wes McAdams
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Let me say before I introduce today’s conversation that the subject matter is for mature audiences only and may not be suitable for children. My guest today is my new friend, Clint. He and I began corresponding recently via email about how the church should minister to those who identify as LGBTQ. Because Clint also struggles with same sex attraction and because in the past he lived a gay lifestyle, he has a unique perspective. In this conversation, we discussed whether or not Christians should embrace an LGBTQ identity, what churches can do to minister to those in the LGBTQ community, his thoughts on how parents should respond if their children reveal they experience same sex attraction, and his encouragement to young Christians who are themselves dealing with this struggle. This is a sensitive subject with which every Christian needs to be familiar. I hope this conversation leads to other healthy conversations about this topic.

Instructions for Subscribing to the Podcast:

For very simple instructions on subscribing to the podcast (on an iPhone) – Click Here

Connect:

If you enjoyed this CrossTalk podcast, be sure to check out:

www.facebook.com/radicallychristian

www.facebook.com/theccmr

www.twitter.com/wesmcadams

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