Friday, January 31, 2014

Tillich, 1948, Chapter 16, "The Witness of the Spirit to the Spirit"

Chapter 16, “The Witness of the Spirit to the Spirit” pp. 130-140

Romans 8:1-16, 26-27

Many of the words Paul chooses in Romans 8 seem remote from our modern experience. Yet in Paul’s day they were living concepts. God’s Spirit, Christ, speaks with our spirit. They understand one another. How does Paul’s spirit understand this ? Paul would take comfort, knowing that his own spirit could not give him confidence in Christ’s redemption. He would look to God’s Spirit for that, as he knows his own spirit and flesh are insufficient.

Modern psychology and sociology has begun to discover this phenomenon. If we are confronted by a law we cannot keep we become hostile to the lawgiver. We end up hating God yet we need his Spirit to work in us. By the Holy Spirit we become able to pray and see God as our faither.

To the unbeliever, then, God’s Spirit brings fear and enmity. To the believer, God’s Spirit brings comfort and assurance of God’s presence.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pieper, 1968, Ch. A10, "Theology as Doctrine"

Chapter A10, “Theology as Doctrine”

Pieper has discussed theology in the subjective sense of the aptitude for teaching. now he discusses the objective sense of theology. What is this? theology in this objective sense is Scripture arranged by topic, or doctrine. Here the work of the theologian is to collate and explain what is in the Bible according to topic or concept. Counter to modern theology, the claims of the Bible govern our theology. Though in all times some have suggested going beyond the Bible and trusting enlightened human reason, this is not the pattern found in Scripture or in sound historical practice. To mediate theology by the opinion of the theologian is to overrule God. It is only through the powerful Word of God that we receive faith and life. Pieper details five elements in popular theology which detract from biblical faith.

1) Experience takes precedence over Scripture. This cannot be, as we need to understand our experience through Scripture.

2) Doctrine is based on faith or our consciousness of faith. This will fail because different people have different perceptions. Only God’s Word is reliable.

3) The new man, the regenerate, serves as the source of doctrine. This suggests that the new, regenerate, man is more spiritually capable than God.

4) The message of Scripture matters, not the words. But without words the message is unintelligible.

5) Christian doctrine is rightly a practice of history. Yet doctrine is not history and history is not doctrine. Pieper concludes that theology is rightly built only on the Word of God. Then and only then is it reliable and powerful to change and preserve life. The theologian therefore depends firmly on God’s Word.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Bridges, 2008, Chapter 10, "Experiencing God's Love"

Chapter 10, “Experiencing God’s Love” pp. 159-170

In this chapter Bridges draws our attention more particularly to God’s love. Though we are quick to confess a loving God, we often fail to see God’s love as applied to us, particularly when adversity strikes. This is the time we flinch and question whether God is actually on our side. Bridges reminds us that we find assurance of God’s love when we refuse to doubt. As a pastor, my observation is that the doubt and fear will overcome our refusal. What we actually need is a shepherd in Christ who will remind us of God’s incarnational love in Christ. Bridges rightly reminds us to learn to see our circumstances in light of God’s love. Yet I fear that we can only be led to despair through our own attempts. We may well need extra help.

How do we see God’s love? We see it through the fact that he disciplines us. He is conforming us into the image of Christ. And he uses all our circumstances, including those which are painful, to do so. We see the love of God in his promise that he never will fail to love his people. We see God’s love in his provision for us day by day. We see his love in his promise that he is with us every day.

Bridges finally reminds us that we need to learn to trust these promises. I find this disappointing. What about when we fail? Does God provide resources for forgiveness and restoration? Thankfully he does, though Bridges does not detail them. Yet as often as we repent of our mistrust and unbelief, God promises that he will restore us. He provides assurance of this through faithful pastors who will proclaim God’s forgiveness to anguished souls.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A9, "Theology as Aptitude"

Chapter A9 “Theology as Aptitude”

Pieper outlines Scriptural ideas of the aptitude a theologian must have.

1) A spiritual aptitude - the theologian believes Jesus. 2 Corinthians 3:5-6; Ephesians 2:2; 1 Timothy 3:1ff; 2 Timothy 2:1ff; John 6:45

2) Willingness to take doctrine from the Bible only.  1 Timothy 6:3; John 17:20; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Ephesians 2:20; Jeremiah 23

3) Ready to teach all of Scripture. Acts 20:26-27; 1 Timothy 4:16

4) Able to refute false teachers. Titus 1:9-11; Titus 3:9; 2 Corinthians 10:3

It is necessary to teach truth and reject falsehood. Romans 16:17; Titus 1:9, 11; 2 John 10; 1 Timothy 1:20; 2 Timothy 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:14

5) Willingness to suffer for Christian doctrine.  2 Timothy 2:3, 9; 1 Corinthians 1:23; Matthew 24:9; Acts 9:16; Acts 26:21; 2 Timothy 2:12; 2 Timothy 2:1

Sermon for 1/26/14 "God's Gift - Leaders" Luke 10

Today is the day the Church has remembered Titus, a leaders in the first century church, disciple of the apostle Paul. From the earliest days the leaders have been recognized as God’s gift to the Church. Their lives and work show us, especially, that God raises up leaders in every age, people who are not the apostles but who are still his gifts to the people of God.

3) From Acts 20 - urgency
 matter of life and death
 centered on the Word of God - that’s why we attend to the preaching and teaching
 dangers from within and without
 Paul counted the work of ministry more important than his personal comfort - working night and day, working with his hands to support himself - though in other instances the people of God were able to support other apostles and leaders.

What’s the final word on all our ministry?  It is more blessed to give than to receive.

We don’t want to give. We want to receive.

The end of all this is an inward-looking self-focused, man-centered club that loses the Gospel. It falls prey to those from within and without who would attack.

Guard yourselves, leaders!  And I tell our leaders to guard me too. Hold to God’s Word.

2) From Titus 1 - Work where you are - left in Crete to put things in order
  What is out of order? We’re good at getting all sorts of things out of order
 Not all work was completed
   appoint elders in every town
   leaders to care for God’s people
   leaders to guard doctrine
   leaders in showing mercy and care, loving neighbors as selves
What are the elders like?
 very normal people
 godly people
 The only gift/function of an elder that can’t be expected of every person is aptitude for teaching
 Distinction between elders and pastors
    not all elders are pastors - it’s a special call and function
    all pastors are elders - it’s a type of qualification
    The elder who is fully trained is quite able to give wise spiritual care.

3) From Luke 10 - Christian workers of all sorts
 in this case, sent out for a particular purpose
    healing the sick
    proclaiming the kingdom
    later report - when the 72 came back, casting out demons
 keeping busy about the work the Lord has given you
 trusting that the Lord will provide all you need

What is the Lord going to do? How is he going to use me? How is he going to use you? He will put us in exactly the place he needs us. We simply trust him and do what he has placed in front of us to do, looking to the Word of God, believing that the Lord will direct us.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Tillich, 1948. Chapter 15, "The Theologian (Part 3)"

Chapter 15, “The Theologian (Part 3)” pp. 125-129

Acts 17:22-32

First we looked at the “believing” theologian, then the “self-surrendering” one. Now we see the “answering” one, able to teach by being a new person in Christ.

Paul’s answer for his faith has three parts. First, he says that the people questioning him are somehow aware of the answer. All the world has been touched somehow by the true God. Second, Paul says people try to flee from God. We twist the reality of God, adoring that twisted image of God. Tillich suggests that Paul’s listeners are able to accept this two part answer. Where they no longer accept the message is when Paul reaches the third point. God has appointed a Man to judge and bring life. Jesus is the Christ. This makes idealists and realists, pagans and Jews stumble. Yet the job of the theologian is to provide exactly that stumbling block. It is the only one we have, and the only one we put in people’s way.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A8, "Christian Theology"

Chapter A8, “Christian Theology”

At this point, Pieper defines “theology.” Unlike “religion” the etymology is quite clear. Yet the term has both an objective and subjective sense. Subjectively it is knowledge of God. Objectively it is specific doctrine of God. Though the term is not used in the Bible it follows perfectly naturally from biblical ideas. Pieper identifies four specific meanings of “theology.”

1) Knowledge of God needed by public ministers and congregations (1 Timothy 3:2, 5).

2) Knowledge of God needed to train public teachers (2 Timothy 2:2).

3) Knowledge of God all Christians have (John 3:16).

4) Study of specific concepts pertaining to Christianity.

Theology, rightly viewed, is subject to the Bible. It does not go farther than the Bible teaches, into scientific speculation.

In Pieper’s work the term “theology” will generally refer to knowledge needed for public ministry.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A7, "Christian Religion and Christian Theology"

Chapter A7, “Christian Religion and Christian Theology”

In this very brief segment, Pieper distinguishes between the religious knowledge typically held by “laity” (he does not use that term) and the theological knowledge normally held by theologians, pastors, and teachers. In essence, he says, they are the same, but the theologians go a bit farther in their study. Counter to some modernists, Pieper does not see a big distinction. Both the “religious” and the “theological” draw their learning and their authority from the Bible. Both use guides, though the theologian uses more exhaustive and scholarly guides. Pieper will hold the discussion of theology as a “science” or “system” until later.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bridges, 2008. Chapter 9, "Knowing God's Love"

Chapter 9, “Knowing God’s Love” pp. 145-157

Bridges now turns his attention to God’s love. We can trust God because God loves us. Yet everyone is guilty, at some times, of wondering whether God’s love is true. We doubt his love more as we believe his sovereignty. The fact is, God shows his love in different ways than we might. Yet his nature is love. In times of adversity we are often attacked by Satan, who wants us to doubt God.

How has God shown love? In giving his Son to die for us. Jesus shows love by meeting a need greater than our present adversity. He resolves our everlasting state, despite our hopeless condition. Though we might like to praise ourselves, God will have none of it. He knows us as dead in sin, needing his life. We have no claim on God. He loves us despite ourselves.

Bridges does point again to our hope coming from our rational understanding of God loving us. And there is great good news in that. Though unworthy of his love, God has loved us, adopted us in Christ, and cares for us as his children. Jesus loves us more than he loves himself. Thinking of this love builds our faith. Yet the work Bridges does here would be more satisfying seen through the lens of God’s incarnational love rather than looking through the lens of God’s sovereignty. His points are good but they could be more encouraging and, I think, more consistent with the overall thrust of the Bible, given a shift of focus.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tillich, 1948. Chapter 15, "The Theologian (Part 2)"

Chapter 15, “The Theologian (Part 2)” pp. 122-125

1 Corinthians 9:19-23

The theologian is one who believes Christ in spite of doubt. He is committed to the Church no matter. But how does he engage in ministry? The apostle and minister are theologians. How do they work? Paul says he becomes all things to all men. As he looks at ideals in the world he uses them. They contain something good and useful. The theologian seeks out what is good in each world view. He doesn’t confuse his theology or mix it with what is false, but he uses the good he finds all around him. Above all, as Paul became weak for the weak, the theologian flees from self-certainty. He looks for truth which can be relied upon, not that which is resident in himself.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A6, "Christianity the Absolute Religion"

Chapter A6, “Christianity the Absolute Religion”

Pieper identifies Christianity as “absolute.” It cannot be improved upon. Though there are areas where we might logically wish for more explanation, the Bible asserts (1 Corinthians 13:12) that our understanding is partial. Christianity is also not a system of morality. Of course there is a morality, but it is one which springs from faith. Why then is it “absolute” or “perfect”? Christianity gives a complete salvation, one which man does not have to work out on his own. If it does not have that feature, it is not Christian belief. Second, Christianity is based on God’s Word, not man’s. Pieper points out that the Bible, when allowed at face value, provides what we need, unlike the way we would assume it works given the views mediated by the modern “historical” critics. When we hold to Christ’s vicarious atonement and the infallibility of Scripture we find that the Christian faith is what we need.

It is significant that Pieper’s argument is based on the infallibility of Scripture, not on an argument dependent on an inerrant text transmission. He talks about how God’s Word, his message, never fails, even though we may not know the exact train of transmission which brought it from the writers to us.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sermon for 1/19/14 "Come and See" John 1

Sermon: “Come and See”
(Due to mental failure I do not have a recording of this week's sermon.)

So two disciples of John walk up to Jesus. They ask him where he’s staying.
Sounds like the beginning of a joke. Small talk. Where are you from? Where do you live? What do you do in life? Do you come here often? Enjoying the band?
Dreadful conversations - the kind of conversations that urge me to avoid social events.

It isn’t quite that kind of conversation, is it?
 followers of John
 have been watching Jesus for some time
 John told them what kind of master Jesus is - the Lamb of God
These are people who have some interest in Jesus. They know about their life. They know about their lack of hope. They know they are lost.

Sometimes we don’t quite know where to begin a conversation.
 these people could look like they are stalking Jesus
 hanging around, why are they here?
 That’s actually the way I am in public places. I’d much rather be part of the scenery or disappear.
 It’s a relief when someone else starts the discussion.

Jesus: “What do you want?”
(nervous silence - got to think a little about how to answer that)
(this is the Lamb of God, not sure I have a good answer)
umm, we wanted to know where you live.”

What does Jesus show them? “Come and see.”
 What’s in an address?
 17 Cherry Tree Lane
 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
 320 Sycamore
 4 Privet Drive
 Just addresses.

Where do you live?  What is your life like?
Come and see

Jesus, who shows himself to be the Lamb of God
Jesus, the one on whom the Spirit remains
Jesus, the one who takes away all our sin, all our shame, all our guilt, all our despair
Come and see
Jesus, the one who has entered into our death through his baptism
Jesus, the one who brings us life through his resurrection
Jesus, the one who was with the Father from the beginning
Jesus, the one in whom all things consist
Come and see

This is why we are called to be saints together, this is why we worship together, this is why we join in singing God’s praise and receiving his gifts. It’s because Jesus is the one who has called us together.

Come and see

Where is Jesus going to live this year?
 in our good times
 in our bad times
 in times of life and health
 in times even of sickness and death
 in our prayers
 in our hopes
 in our fears

Come and see

Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the one who takes our broken lives, our questions that have no answers, our feeble attempts at stalking him, our hopes that he won’t notice us, and transforms them into an opportunity.

Come and see

Friday, January 17, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A5, "The Cause of the Divisions Within Visible Christendom"

Chapter A5 “The Cause of the Divisions Within Visible Christendom”

Pieper uses this term, “visible Christendom,” to refer to church organizations. Why are there divisions in the one Church? It is not surprising to see them in the non-Christian world, which would often try different ways of winning favor with God. But the Church which trusts in the message of saving faith based on Scripture should be unified. Yet there were factions even in the apostolic period, growing because people rejected God’s word. Pieper introduces in brief the ways some Christians have strayed.

First, Roman Catholics, in their insistence that the sense of Scripture is only made clear through the Roman church effectively denies Scripture alone.

Second, Reformed theology makes Scripture subject to rationalistic ideals. In doing so, they separate baptism and communion from their efficacy. This leaves them, logically, with only the non-mediated work of the Holy Spirit on hearts, which becomes as important as Scripture. Again, the rationalistic lens denies that Jesus died for all.

Arminians, on the other hand, do not reject the universality of the atonement but do reject God’s working by grace alone. This also rejects Scripture.

In the end it is only the Lutherans who will allow both universal grace and grace alone to stand, allowing the relationship to be a mystery.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Bridges, 2008. Chapter 8, "The Wisdom of God"

Chapter 8, “The Wisdom of God” pp. 125-143

Bridges opens this chapter with an illustration of a minister’s declaration that in a mining disaster God made a mistake. When trouble comes into our lives we do sometimes wonder if maybe God made some sort of mistake. Rather, we need to remember that God in his wisdom knows exactly what he is doing. He never has to doubt or ask for advice. What is the big plan? On p. 126 Bridges asserts that the best possible outcome of God’s actions is that they “serve His glory.” He quotes John Piper’s sentiment that God’s plan is finally to glorify himself. If Bridges’ work on trusting God because of his sovereignty has held together so far, in my opinion, it falls apart here. The focus on sovereignty results in the self-centered god of Plato. As I commented in an earlier chapter, the Lutheran view of theology built on Christ’s incarnational love does bring comfort where a view built on sovereignty will not.

Bridges goes on to say that we can trust God because he can use bad things to bring forth good. Yet the world is full of bad things. He can use every one of them for good, i.e., to show his glory. He builds us in holiness, he makes us like Jesus, he changes our hearts, all using adversity. When we don’t understand why, we trust that God knows his purposes. We simply don’t know his reasons, which are beyond our understanding. We must learn and trust. God is wise.

Here Bridges has left us with an unsatisfactory answer. We are to trust God. Why? Because he is powerful, wise, and wants to show his glory. He will do it. We need to trust him. This is as far as Bridges goes at this point. We’ll have to pick him up in the next chapter and see how he does.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A4 "The Sources of the Two Existing Religions"

Chapter A4 “The Sources of the Two Existing Religions”

After demonstrating that there are only two types of religion - human and divine - Pieper asks where the religions come from. The religion of the Law comes from human reason. Pieper enumerates three steps involved in the formation of this human religion. First, natural but fallen humans have some knowledge of divine requirement. Second, people have an evil orientation. They have broken God’s Law and are condemned. Finally, fallen man devises good works to purchase forgiveness. Pieper continues with biblical commentary on the situation.

The divine religion, on the other hand, is not oriented toward man’s works. We remain fallen and guilty but God has saved his people apart from their own works. Jesus paid the penalty for all our sin and removes the guilt and separation from God.

What of Christians who place some burden on moral good? Pieper mentions Pelagianism, Semi-Pelagianism, and synergism. His conclusion is that those practices should always have been rejected because they are ultimately man-made religions.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tillich, 1948. Chapter 15, "The Theologian (Part 1)"

Chapter 15, “The Theologian (Part 1)” pp. 118-121

1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The audience for this sermon was particularly a group of theology students. What makes a theologian? According to Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 it is the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit gives gifts, not simply abilities. The theologian, therefore, depends on the Spirit to give gifts. So in a very real way, being a theologian is being one who receives these gifts.

Being a theologian is not all that different from any other role in the Church. All Christians are those who receive God’s grace to confess Jesus as Lord. The theologian has a special gift and opportunity to express that faith in Jesus, considering all its implications.

The true theologian is not the person who is certain and without any doubts. A true theologian is full of doubt and wonder, asking Jesus again and again for acceptance. This is only grasped by the Holy Spirit.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A3 "The Number of Religions in the World"

Chapter A3 “The Number of Religions in the World”

In essence, Pieper says, there are two religions in the world. There is that which seeks to be reconciled by man’s works and that which trusts in Jesus. In Matthew 28:19 Jesus gives his followers the command to disciple all nations. The gospel is seen as having exclusive claims and power. Compared to this our man-made philosophies desire to make all beliefs stand together.

Many define religion as having a common element of a personal relation between man and God. yet when viewed this way, the non-Christian religions approach God in fear, hoping for appeasement. This is a hopeless religion. A Christian, on the other hand, approaches God as a loving father, with the fear erased.

If religion is a common way of worship, we find Christian worship directed to God who has already shown grace. Again, there is no fear.

If religion is a striving for fulfillment, again Christianity is different. Fulfillment does not come through striving but through receiving.

Psychology also makes differentiations. The Christian has peace and confidence while others have fear and guilt.

Progressive theologians wish to remove a divine element from religion. To do this with Christianity effectively removes all that makes it distinct. It can be done with all religions dependent on works but not on that one which depends on faith.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sermon for 1/12/14 "My Beloved Son" Matthew 3

Baptism - a setting apart
We come for baptism, or are brought for baptism, and it’s at that time that the wonders begin
 Jesus, the glorious Son of God, the one in whom the Father is pleased, taking our sin upon himself
 Jesus, fulfilling all righteousness for us
 Jesus entering into the waters, water that would bring death, rising again
 Water, the water of life, something that we are mostly made of
In baptism Jesus was conformed into our death.
In baptism we are conformed into Jesus’ death.

What is it that begins then? The whole Christian life
 life following a Savior who won’t quit until all is accomplished
 life receiving the care that only Jesus can give, keeping our flame burning
 life bringing the Gospel to all nations - especially those people right here at home.

How will we grow in Christ during this time of epiphany, the time of realization of just what kind of Lord Jesus is?
 1) Attend church faithfully and expectantly, looking for God to work in our lives.
 2) Give generously, financially and in service.
 3) Enter into discussion of God’s Word with other believers.
 4) FAN - friends, associates, neighbors - invite to hear, believe, and live
 5) Take an active role in governing our church through the annual meeting. Pray ahead, ask how the Lord would have us reach our world.
 6) Above all, center our lives on Christ and His Word.

Jesus has come to be baptized. He has associated himself with our sin, with our need for forgiveness. And he has promised forgiveness and life to all who trust in him.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pieper, 1968. "Religion in General"

Chapter A2 “Religion in General”

What does “religion” mean? Pieper distinguishes between the “heathen” who view it as man’s effort to appease a deity and a Christian view that in Christ God is reconciled due to the substitutionary atonement. For this reason, historic Christianity has not allowed for man’s contribution to his own salvation. Salvation by faith and salvation by works are diametrically opposed to one another.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Bridges, 2008. Chapter 7, "God's Sovereignty and Our Responsibility"

Chapter 7, “God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility” pp. 113-124

Bridges has cautioned us about discounting God’s wisdom or love. In this chapter he reminds us that God’s sovereignty does not function alone. We have a responsibility to live a prudent life. God uses means to accomplish his will.

One of the chief responsibilities we have is that of prayer. We may know and trust God’s sovereignty over conditions, but we don’t always know his plan for the future. This explains the prayers of people in the Bible. For instance, in Acts 4:24ff, the disciples pray that God will intervene so they can do what they believe to be God’s will. Trusting God encourages us to ask for his intervention.

Along with prayer, we use the legitimate means available to accomplish what is right. David fled from Saul. Paul worked to guard lives in Acts 27 even after he had a vision that everyone would survive. Nehemiah prayed and had his workers prepare to defend themselves. Prayer, counsel, and effort are often God’s means of showing his grace to his people.

Who is the one to accomplish everything? Psalm 127:1 says God is the one who builds the house. But he nowhere suggests that we stop doing our duty. We are finally dependent on God. Sometimes that dependence is more obvious, sometimes less obvious. But it is always there.

What about when we fail? God will still accomplish his purpose (Esther 4) but may do it without using us. We are responsible. God is sovereign. He works out the relationship between the two for his glory and his people’s good.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pieper, 1968. Chapter A1, "Our Position"

This rather large volume is divided into some large sections and then subdivided into numbered chapters. Because of the length and because I need to work through the book in a relatively short period of time, I’ll be posting a summary of the small numbered chapters but more frequently than I normally would on any one work. The copy I have is a Kindle book. It does not have actual page numbers.

Part A - Prolegomena: The Nature and Character of Theology

Chapter A1 “Our Position”

The Scripture alone is God’s infallible word. It alone is normative and the source of doctrine.  This position has been disputed since about 1750 in Protestant theology. Modern Protestant theology is like Rome in assigning normative power elsewhere than Scripture.

Making our own opinion the judge is rebellion against God. Christ, the apostles, and Luther agreed that the Scripture was the norm, no matter what others might think.

Modern theology might rather trust a “Christian consciousness.” Meanwhile, conservative theology trusts that the Bible informs and norms our conscience. This biblical norm is a reality, as opposed to our attempts to seek the truth within ourselves.

The theologian needs to separate himself from his won opinions, seeking to find the Bible’s opinions. This act of being bound to Christ is freedom, as Jesus says in John 8:31-32.

The retreat from Scripture has led many to deny the vicarious atonement of Christ, which then strips the Christian message of its power and hope. It also leads to disunity of doctrine. The resulting chaos is only reversed by restoring the Bible as our foundation.

Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics

Francis Pieper. Christian Dogmatics: Volume 1. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1968

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tillich, 1948. Chapter 14, "Doing the Truth"

Chapter 14, “Doing the Truth” pp. 114-117

John 3:17-21

We know the truth, but how do we do the truth? If truth is simply a theory, even one we can act in accord with, Jesus’ statement that he is the truth makes no sense.

Are theory and practice actually divided? No, if something actually works in theory it does work in practice. God’s truth, in fact, always does work. It overcomes, transforms practice. here, doing the truth is nothing less than living the gospel. This living out of Christianity is how the truth is found.

There is no distinction in Christ between theory and practice. Those who believe live out their faith.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Bridges, 2008. Chapter 6, "God's Power over Nature"

Chapter 6, “God’s Power over Nature” pp. 99-111

God is sovereignly in charge of nature. We often seem to think that natural forces merely happen. But although there are physical laws, they operate according to God’s will.

How do we respond to God’s care for the weather? On p. 103 Bridges observes that our complaints are complaints against God. We also deprive ourselves of peace by thinking our opinion is better than God’s plan. Most of the time God uses his natural power as an expression of his blessing for his people. At other times he shows his power in a striking way. Occasionally a severe condition may be a judgment against sin.

What of natural disasters? While we wrestle with the tragic events in our world we are not to make our judgment against God. Rather we often are moved to compassion and loving service to our neighbors. In Isaiah 45:7 we read that God takes responsibility for all disaster.

God’s power in nature is also seen in illness and physical affliction. God shows his glory and providence through all our suffering. All suffering can be traced back to the Fall. But God still rules over all creation. Again, Bridges shows, God’s care includes childbearing and childlessness. We remember that no matter the situation God is also perfectly loving.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sermon for 1/5/14 "Where Will We Find Jesus?" Luke 2

Where’s Elizabeth?  uh-oh
fear for future
Where was Jesus?
 asking questions
 answering questions
 receiving from God’s word
 perfectly safe

Maybe we’re missing something other than Jesus?
 Solomon - needs wisdom to guide the people
 Ephesians - need to find their confidence to live for God in this life
What’s the answer?
 God in His Word, revealed in the place and through the means he has appointed, gives us all we need.

1) in His Word

2) where He promises - OT place of sacrifice - NT in the place where Christ crucified for sinners is proclaimed (Word preached and sacraments administered)

This is why I fight the weather to go to church - aside from the fact that I work here and live across the street.

This is why for many years we considered it worth the half hour drive, more in bad weather, to attend a church where the Word of God was preached rightly.
 life is rough - for what is important we will get ourselves up and try to receive what we need
 maybe sometimes we have to receive through other means
   shut-ins - never be afraid to call on the pastor to bring you the Gospel
   illness - the pastor isn’t afraid of your illness, good to call for help
   weather emergencies - don’t endanger yourself to attend worship, but be ready to push yourself

Where are we going to find Jesus?
 Joseph and Mary doubtless had other things that they planned to do when they arrived home
 Everything else is cancelled when we go to find our Savior
   we need what he has
   we need what he does
   we need what he gives

As we move into the season of Epiphany, starting tomorrow, the season of realization of what Jesus is really like and how he has come to save us, we begin by receiving his gifts - forgiveness, life, and salvation. We’ll be gathering, week by week, in all our opportunities, to experience sitting with Jesus, learning from him, being gathered into him, and trusting that he is still there for us. We find him where he has promised to be.