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Showing posts from November, 2007

Preaching during Advent

The Advent season is a wonderful time to preach and teach about our inclusion with Christ in the love and life of God.

Following are some notes I have put together for a Pre-Advent sermon this Sunday on what is sometimes called "Christ the King" Sunday. Your thoughts, addition, deletions, etc. are welcome.

Who is Christ?
(Col. 1:15-23; 2Cor. 5:14-23)

We come today, as every Sunday, to celebrate Christ—the one who has come, is coming and will come. We celebrate his comings in the Advent season which begins next Sunday and extends through Christmas.

Who is this Christ who comes? Could he be far bigger and grander than we often allow ourselves to realize? Let us open our minds and hearts today and get a clearer view.

Here’s what Paul says concerning Jesus Christ (Col 1:15-23):
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or a…

Karl Barth on the Struggle we all have in Believing the Good News of the Revealed Word of God in Jesus!

In his multi-volume work on theology, Church Dogmatics, Karl Barth describes our human reaction to the Word of God which says to us “You are Mine!”

We might imagine the conversation to which it gives rise and some of the forms which it necessarily takes.

The man to whom it is said thinks and says that he is not this new, peaceful, joyful man living in fellowship. He asks leave honestly to admit that he does not know this man, or at least himself as this man.

The Word of grace replies: “All honour to your honesty, but my truth transcends it. Allow yourself, therefore, to be told in all truth and on the most solid grounds what you do not know, namely, that you are this man in spite of what you think.”

Man: “You think that I can and should become this man in the course of time? But I do not have sufficient confidence in myself to believe this. Knowing myself, I shall never become this man.”

The Word of grace: “You do well not to have confidence in yourself. But the point is not that you can a…

Atonement = Inclusion

I’m reading “An Introduction to Torrance Theology” (T&T Clark, 2007; edited by Gerrit Scott Dawson). Each chapter is a paper from a contemporary theologian who shares a Trinitarian vision.

In the paper by Gerrit Scott Dawson (who is also book editor), there is a wonderful explanation of how the atonement accomplished by Christ is not something he did for us in a way external to his person, but is what he did within his own person. Through the incarnation, the eternal Son of God added our humanity to his divinity. Through this union, all humanity is included in the love and life of God—and through this inclusion, humans have atonement with God in its full sense. In short, Atonement = Inclusion.

Here is a quote from the paragraph where Dawson summarizes this point: “Our salvation has occurred within the life of God. It is as secure as his own eternal being! As long as Jesus the eternal Son of God is united to our humanity, so long is he our new and living way to the Father. In as much…

The universal and personal aspects of our inclusion in Christ

As we consider the truth of the inclusion (adoption) of all humanity through Jesus into the triune life of God, we struggle to find adequate and accurate words to speak of this mind-blowing grace. It's outside our normal frame of reference and thus defies "human logic."

Because this is so, we struggle to hold together the "already" but "not yet" nature of this inclusion. All people everywhere and in all times are already included through Jesus' vicarious (representative/substitutionary) humanity. However, not all yet *understand* and thus not all yet *embrace* what is already theirs in Christ.

As Pastor Timothy reminds us, all humans now share and thus meaningfully (though not necessarily consciously) already experience Jesus' life and love. And what a blessing it is for us to point out to non-believers and believers alike the good news of their inclusion. We can help non-believers discover for the first time what they may have always sensed, na…