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Author Archives: Matt Erickson

About Matt Erickson

Senior Pastor of Eastbrook Church, husband, father of three, music enthusiast, book lover, and life-long learner. Find out more here: http://mwerickson.wordpress.com/about/.

Together in Christ: Race, the Gospel and God’s People

On Monday, January 26, 2015,  Eastbrook Church was honored to host Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God for a conversation and time of prayer on the topic of race and the Gospel here in the city of Milwaukee. We opened a lot of points of discussion, did not address everything, perhaps raised more questions than we answered, but it was a great opportunity to press in deeper as the people of God together.

You can watch the video of the whole session below and access our recommended next steps here.

Four times a year we gather as a church to discuss key topics to help us move forward together. This year, we begin our Leadership Forum series with by addressing the challenging topic of how the gospel transforms racial divisions in our world and city. In a city known as one of the most segregated cities in the United States, we want to live into the dream of God for a multiethnic people rooted in the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.

 

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Next Steps from Leadership Forum, 26 January 2015

Four times a year we gather in a Leadership Forum at Eastbrook Church to discuss key topics to help us move forward together in ministry. This year, we begin our Leadership Forum series with by addressing the challenging topic of how the gospel transforms racial divisions in our world and city. In a city known as one of the most segregated cities in the United States, we want to live into the dream of God for a multi-ethnic people rooted in the reconciling gospel of Jesus Christ.

It was a gift to have Bishop Walter Harvey of Parklawn Assembly of God join us for this discussion. At the end of the night we recommended a series of next steps and I wanted to make those available to a wider audience via my blog.

Next Steps: What Do I Do Now?

#1 Get with God
• Acknowledge and repent of any sin (see Psalm 51; Daniel 9:4-19)
• Lament over our nation (see Lamentations)
• Pray as Christ prayed (see John 17)

#2 Know and Apply what the Bible Teaches
• Read Genesis 12:1-3 in light of God’s multiethnic mission
• Read Ephesians with attention to chapter 2 on the new humanity in Jesus of Jews and Gentiles brought together
• Read Galatians in light of the situation that Paul describes in chapters 1 and 2

#3 Understand the Background Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Receiving the Promise (discussion questions)

This past weekend at Eastbrook Church, we continued our series, “Free: A Study on Galatians,” by looking at the promise God gave us based out of Galatians 3:1-29. Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Receiving the Promise,” which is the third part of our series.

Discussion Questions:

  1. This weekend we continue our series, “Free,” by delving into Galatians, chapter 3. Take a moment to begin with prayer, asking God to speak through your study of the Scripture. Next, read that Bible passage out loud.
  2. At the beginning of Galatians 3, Paul calls out the believers for losing focus on Jesus and the real gospel by asking them a series of questions in verses 1-5. Identify the questions Paul is asking as well as what Paul is trying to reveal through these questions.
  3. Like the Galatian churches, all of us are subtly tempted to stray away from the real gospel of Jesus Christ. How have you or are you being tempted to lose this real gospel in your life or church?
  4. Continuing forward with his argument, Paul takes his readers back to the founder of Israel’s faith, Abraham, and God’s covenant promises to him (3:6-9). What does Paul claim about Abraham and why would this be important in light of those in Galatia asking Gentiles to submit to Jewish religious regulations?
  5. In verses 10-15, Paul outlines both the redeeming and sacrificial work of Jesus Christ in relation to the Jewish law. How would you summarize what Paul says here?
  6. When did you come to realize the meaning of Jesus’ redeeming and sacrificial work for you personally? What happened? How did it change you?
  7. Galatians 3:15-25 outlines the role of the Jewish law – what we call the Old Testament – to the Christian faith. How does Paul answer his own questions in verses 19 and 21? What would you say is the role of the law for Christians?
  8. If you were talking to another Christian who was legalistic, how would you describe to them the place of the Jewish law in our everyday lives as Christians?
  9. In conclusion, Paul summarizes what it means that we are ‘in Christ’ in verses 26-29. It is important to remember that the point of departure for this discussion in Galatians 2 was the disunity of the church between Jew and Gentile. How does the real gospel lead to unity according to Paul here?
  10. Name one thing you will take away from this study on the real gospel? If you are with a small group, take some time to discuss these things with one another. If you are alone, share that with someone this week. Close in prayer.
 
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Posted by on January 20, 2015 in Eastbrook, Scripture reflections

 

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Receiving the Promise

Free Series Gfx_FacebookThis past weekend at Eastbrook Church I continued our series “Free,” by looking at Galatians 3. In my message, I talked about the promise given by God and how it shapes our individual lives and relationships with others.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You will be able to view all the messages from the “Free” series here as the series unfolds. Comment on the series on social media using the #ebcfree hashtag.

Connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on VimeoFacebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

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Posted by on January 19, 2015 in Communication, Eastbrook

 

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The Life I Live in the Body (Galatians 2:20, part 3)

Today, I conclude my reflections on Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 with attention to the final phrase: “the life I live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

If we have been crucified – killed – with Christ, and if we have been overtaken by the resurrection life of Christ, then our daily, bodily lives must be different. Christianity is not an abstract philosophy, but an embodied approach to living. We cannot rust to heaven and live like hell. If our body-living is not reflecting the present, dynamic life of Christ, then there is a problem.

Paul declares our bodies to be temples of the Holy Spirit while calling the Corinthians to repentance from sexual sin. Paul’s exclamation at the end of this challenge is: “you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” (1 Corinthians 6:20). What does honoring mean other than letting God’s plans be preeminent and God’s presence be pervasive in our daily living? Our physical life – eating and drinking, work and rest, affection and sexuality – must all honor God.

“Faith in Christ” is the theme of Galatians, permeating the entire letter. The word ‘faith’ or derivations of it appear over 20 times in this brief letter. Paul lives by the words of the prophet Habakkuk: “the righteous shall live by faith” (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11).

Yet this faith is not a generalized faith in ‘something more’. Rather, it is a faith rooted in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. He faithfully lived without sin, displayed the truth and grace of God, died through crucifixion, was buried, and rose victorious over sin and death. It is this Faithful One in whom we place our faith.

Yes, we know that “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son” (John 3:16), but here again Paul gets personal. Jesus “loved me and gave Himself for me” [italics min]. Through the cosmic truths of God that echo from eternity in Christ, we experience the personal love and sacrifice of Jesus. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith” (Galatians 3:26).

Lord, thank you for buying me at a price.
May my living in my body reflect my relationship with You.
Thank You, Jesus, for Your faithfulness to the Father that gives birth to my faith.
Help me to live each day full of faith in You, my living Savior.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Scripture reflections

 

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I No Longer Live But Christ Lives in Me (Galatians 2:20, part 2)

I continue my reflections on Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20 today by looking at the second phrase: “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”

If through Christ’s death we participated in death, then through Christ’s risen life we participate in life. We die with Jesus and rise to life in Jesus. Elsewhere Paul writes, “if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him” (Romans 6:8). In John’s Gospel, Jesus consistently teaches about a real, indwelling relationship that we can have with Him. Praying before His arrest, Jesus asks the Father that future followers would experience the unity with one another like they – the Father and the Son – experience with one another: “that they may be one as we are one – I in them and You in Me” (John 17:22-23).

Jesus lives within us as a community of followers of Him, but also lives within us individually. Augustine said this unifying bond of love between the Father and the Son was the Holy Spirit. So, the unity we experience of Jesus (“I in them”) comes by the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Because of this, Paul can describe us corporately as “the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:16), but also individually saying “your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19). Both the corporate and individual aspects are true. How could it be otherwise?

Here in Galatians, though, Paul is referring to himself as individually being completely overtaken with the life of Christ. He is, as he states in another letter, “a new creation” in which “the old has gone” and “the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Boiling it down to the basic level in another place, he says: “for to me, to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21).

Lord, I never though it would be good to stop living, but thank You that You live in me.
Thank You for the gift of life that I experience with and in You.
May it be true for me that to live is Christ.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2015 in Scripture reflections

 

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I Have Been Crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20, part 1)

Since my message, “The Real Gospel,” I have been thinking about Paul’s words in Galatians 2:20:

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.

These words are so familiar to me, yet they have a depth of meaning I often overlook. Over the next few days on my blog, I will reflect on these words for our lives. Today, I’m considering the first part of that verse: “I have been crucified with Christ.”

Paul writes elsewhere: “we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:6-7). As Jesus Christ was physically crucified on the Cross, our own sinful nature was crucified.

Jesus’ death on the Cross was a historical event that is not disputed by historians. Still, there is something personally effective for each person that occurred at the Cross in Jesus. “We are convinced that One died for all, and therefore all died” (2 Corinthians 5:14b). “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Taking upon Himself not only our sin but also our very selves, Jesus was crucified.

In His crucifixion, we – our old selves, that is – were killed. We suffered death with Him, though in God’s mercy to us only Jesus Himself experienced the literal weight of sin’s bloody death. When we come by faith to Jesus Christ, we choose to spiritually associate with His death and we, too, die. We die to our capacity to make ourselves right by acts of righteousness under the law, and we also die to our tendency to live in rebellion to God through selfish sin. It is a new beginning that begins with a final end to ourselves. “I have been crucified with Christ.”

Jesus, how can it be that one so innocent as You took all the pain and judgment?
How is it that you would suffer so much for me?
Thank You…thank You…beyond all words, thank You!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Scripture reflections

 

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