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Showing posts from April, 2011

Our part in God's ministry of atonement

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The book Incarnational Ministry, the presence of Christ in Church, Society and Family contains an essay by Christian Kettler, The Atonement as the Life of God in the Ministry of the Church.

Kettler notes that God's ministry (his doing) expresses his being as the God of love and grace. As we (the church) participate with God in his ministry, we learn more about his being. In this way, ministry precedes theology. However, the reverse is also true - our participation with God in his ministry grows as our understanding of his being (our theology) deepens.

This dynamic interaction of ministry and theology is liberating, setting the church free to "determine its ministry based on who God is and what he has actually done, rather than what would sell in the marketplace of ideas and religions and in 'self-help' books" (p60).

This being true, we ask, what is God's ministry? The answer has many facets, but a primary one is that God's ministry isthe ministry of atone…

An incarnational view of holiness

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The book Incarnational Ministry, the presence of Christ in Church, Society and Family contains an essay titled, Holy God, Holy Churchin which Donald McCullough examines from a Trinitarian, incarnational perspective what the Bible says about holiness.

Holiness in the Old Testament
McCullough begins where the OT starts, with holiness as a religious concept, having to do with that which is separate:
As applied to the cult [OT religious system], the holy things of God are perceived as set apart for his service; and second, as applied to the name and person of God, God himself is understood as set apart. Thus [in the OT] holiness is first a religious, not an ethical, term (p17).Then the OT develops an ethical conception of holiness: "Because God has set apart not only objects for his use but a people as well, there emerges the idea of a holy people who live according to a unique standard of conduct" (p17). This comes to the fore in Lev 19:2: "You shall be holy; for I the Lor…

Have a joy-filled Holy Week

In the midst of Holy Week - the very heart of the Christian calendar - we pause to consider what is laid out for us to understand, and in understanding to experience:
Jesus' entering Jerusalem as the servant-King come to suffer and die for his subjects (Palm Sunday).Jesus' gathering his followers for the Last Supper; sharing the glorious truths about who he is and what he is about to do for them and all humanity (Maundy Thursday).Jesus' dying on Calvary's cross - the great and complete sin offering that secures forgiveness for all (Good Friday).Jesus' going to the grave where in death he experiences the depth of our corruption - the consequence of sin (Holy Saturday).Jesus' rising from death; born again to new, glorified human life; securing in himself this new birth for all (Easter Sunday). Happy Holy Week!

Incarnational Ministry

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The book, Incarnational Ministry, the presence of Christ in Church, Society and Family (1990, edited by Christian Kettler & Todd Speidell), features essays in honor of Ray Anderson. Ray (now deceased), is widely regarded for advocating an incarnational approach to ministry grounded in a Trinitarian, Christ-centered theology. According to the editors, this approach emphasizes...
...the critical significance of Christ's continued ministry through his church... [a ministry which] cannot be conducted as a mere matter of technique, as if the social and behavioral sciences contributed more to the practice of ministry than theology itself. Theology that is true to the incarnate Savior will inform and enable ministers of Christ's church to understand better, and participate in more effectively, the ministry of Christ through his church. (pxiv)Referencing Thomas F. Torrance, the editors define incarnational ministry as, "the ministry of God in becoming a person in Jesus Christ,…

Resurrection, Revelation, and the ‘Trajectory of Worship’

Easter is a time for the really big celebration songs—time to joyously proclaim with expectancy and with all our might, the grace, the living hope, and new life of the risen and ascended Lord Jesus—our bodily risen Savior who lives to minister and share this life with us by the Spirit and to the glory of the Father.

It’s time to sing Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, and big hymns such as Crown Him With Many Crowns and Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. At Easter time when I was a kid, the church pipe organ thundered and testified till we could feel the vibrations in our chest and through the floor and the soles of our shoes!

Presently, folks in our small congregation say one of their favorite big songs is the Revelation Song, written by Jennie Lee Riddle and made popular by Kari Jobe, pictured left. [Click here to see Kari sing the song.]

In the March 26 post we highlighted and commented on portions of an excellent article from the March 2011 edition of Christianity Today magazine,…

Are all forgiven?

A Trinitarian-incarnational view of the gospel proclaims that God has reconciled all humanity to himself through the vicarious humanity of Jesus. In Jesus, all are forgiven, accepted and included in God's love and life (see 2Cor 5:14-21).

But how can it be said that God has forgiven those who have not repented - not turned to him in faith? Doesn't the idea of universal reconciliation conflict with Jesus' words in Matthew 25?
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.'  ...41 Then he will say to those on hi…

What about infant baptism?

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Grace Communion International (GCI), baptizes adult believers and their infant children. GCI finds support for this in the incarnational Trinitarian understanding of Holy Scripture summarized in this post. A video of an infant baptism ceremony is linked below.

The New Testament speaks of whole households being baptized upon the conversion of that household's head (Acts 16:15, 31-33; 1 Corinthians 1:16). It is likely that there were infants and children in these groups, though these texts do not provide conclusive evidence of infant baptism.
A more persuasive text is Acts 2:39. In Luke’s account of Peter’s speech on Pentecost, Peter speaks of the covenantal promises of God given to believers and their children. In doing so, he verifies that believers' children are already included in the household of faith prior to any personal profession of faith. 1Corinthians 7:14 likewise indicates that the children of believers are in a different category than the children of unbelievers, a…

Are all born again?

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[Updated 4/27/17]

A blog reader asked if the understanding that all humanity is included in God's love and life, means that all people are already spiritually alive (i.e. "born again"). My answer is this: to be included in God's life and to be born again are related, but not the same. Let me explain.

Time and again, Scripture proclaims that what God has done (through the incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension of his Son, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost) transforms all humanity. Here are some of the verses of Scripture speaking to this stunning reality (the Good News!): Romans 5:15, 18; 6:10-11; 2Corinthians 5:14-19; Ephesians 1:3-10, 2:4-9; Colossians 1:19-20, 3:1-4, 11; 1Timothy 2:5-6.

I hasten to add that we do not rely on select "proof texts" for this understanding. Rather, we must take into account the full story of God and humanity told in Scripture, by which we come to know Jesus for who he is, and for what he has don…