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Showing posts from December, 2011

The church's holiness & catholicity (Nicene Creed #10)

This post continues our look at the marks (identifying characteristics) of the Church as defined by the Nicene Creed. For other posts in this series, click a number: 1, 2, 3, 456, 7, 8, 9, 11, 1213.

We come now to the church's holiness and catholicity.

Holiness
As noted by Thomas F. Torrance in The Trinitarian Faith, though holiness is God's will for the church...
...[it] does not derive from any moral goodness or purity of its members, but from the holiness of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. The holiness of the Church is thus objectively grounded in the utterly transcendent holiness, glory and purity of God's being (pp280-281). God comes among his people, the church, and in doing so sanctifies them - or as T.F. says, "implicates them" in God's own holiness. Coming among them as a holy God would annihilate his people, except that he comes with grace and mercy, and, ultimately, he comes through the incarnation of his Son. In Jesus Christ, Go…

Merry Christmas!

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Each Christmas reminds us anew of the glorious truth concerning the birth of Jesus Christ - God in the flesh come to rescue us through his life, death, resurrection and ascension.

The video embedded below presents Christmas in this whole-gospel context. May your Christmas celebrations be similarly focused, leading to an even deeper appreciation of God's love for you and all humanity.

‘Our Heavenly Father’ – Praying to the Abba of Advent – Part Two

In The Lord and His Prayer by N.T. Wright (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.), the author says the word ‘Father’ in the prayer Jesus to taught his followers calls our attention to the revolutionary message and mission of Jesus that is the real Exodus message—the message of the defeat of tyrants, oppressors and evil. It is the Father’s revolution that comes through the suffering and death of none other than the Messiah that is the Father’s Son.

And our part? Wright says our Lord taught us this prayer because the Advent message is that the Father’s revolution comes through the Messiah and his followers “sharing and hearing the pain of the world, that the world may be healed” (p 19).

In John’s gospel Jesus uses the image of father and son to explain what he was himself doing. In that culture, the son is apprenticed to the father. He learns his trade by watching what the father is doing. When he runs into a problem, he checks back to see how his father tackles it. That’s what Jesus is do…

When do you become a child of God?

One of the readers of this blog sent this question:
Ephesians 1:13 says, “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.”  How then can we say that the whole world is already included in Christ, when not everyone has yet heard the gospel? To answer, we need to note the larger passage in Ephesians chapter one (vv3-14, with v13 bold-faced):
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace 8 that he lavished on us with all w…

Does your eschatology suffer from "ascension deficit disorder"?

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The Theological Turn in Youth Ministry by Andrew Root and Kenda Creasy Dean includes a chapter from Dean titled, Ascension Deficit Disorder (Youth Ministry as a Laboratory for Hope). She masterfully shows that the purpose for eschatology (the study of God's ultimate purposes for humankind) is not to help us predict the future, but to give us hope - a commodity often in short supply due to what Creasy calls, "ascension deficit disorder (A.D.D.)," which is the tendency:
...to act as though the future God has promised in Jesus Christ is a fairy tale, which shrivels our ability to practice hope. When we don't believe that Christ's promise to secure the future is true, we live as people fearful for our own prospects, protecting ourselves instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to use us as Christ's witnesses. A.D.D. is the reason churches get distracted so easily from the work Jesus commissioned us for: to be his witnesses throughout the earth. Instead, we are stymied …