Faith's Source: H.C Question 65

It is through faith alone that we share in Christ and all his benefits: where then does that faith come from?

John 3:5 – Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:10-14 – these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

Romans 10:17 – Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.

1 Peter 1:23-25 – For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God. For,

“All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord endures forever.”  And this is the word that was preached to you.

Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

1 Corinthians 10:16 – Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ?



Are You with us or not? H.C. Question 47

But isn’t Christ with us until the end of the world as he promised us?

Matthew 28:18-20 – Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Acts 1:9-11 – After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Acts 3:19-21 – Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.

John 14:16-19 – And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.



Revelation 22 – Maranatha!

Read Revelation 22

John’s vision of the New Heaven and New Earth, as well as the New Jerusalem, is glamorous and exciting; it is truly fun to imagine what life will be like in this time.  Not much is truly known about this time and what it will be like but Scripture indicates that this will be a physical existence with our renewed bodies, those that are renewed in the likeness of Christ’s resurrected body.  What we see here is that, though the New Jerusalem has everything and contains the wholeness and fullness of eternal life, there may be life and living beyond its walls.  Indeed, while we get the sense that everything we need will find its source and life through the presence of God, there may be things to do in this eternal life.  We are not given an indication that we will simply be laying on clouds, plucking our harps.  Indeed our life may also be a perfect fulfillment of the life we are called to live now, worshiping God through the use of the gifts, skills, hobbies, and interests that we have in a new and redeemed way.

All of this, as John describes it, is “Eden restored”.  This is an important image of creation being restored to its original state.  It’s hard to say exactly what this means, but likely it does not mean that we’ll all be living in a garden like Genesis 1 and 2, but rather than all creation is back in the state that God created it to be.  This might be best seen in the image of the lion laying with the lamb; it marks the end of striving, of predator/prey relationships, and a life in which life itself is sustained by God.  This is seen in both the centrality of the river of the water of life, which flows directly from the throne of God down the middle of the “great street”, and also the availability and abundance of the tree of life, something that had been blocked and made unavailable since the fall.  Eternity will be in this perfected state, all creation living in harmony and in the presence of God.

The final words of Revelation reflect, once again, the urgency of the Great Commission: “Behold, I am coming soon!”  I think we often set these words aside, preferring to look at the magnificent splendor of eternity of paying attention to the many images that jump off the pages of John’s Revelation.  However, Jesus’ words here are important; the time is near for Jesus’ return, we are in the “last days” now.  We cannot seal up these words or waste our time in frivolous arguments about peripheral issues that don’t really matter.

As we close our study of Revelation and the whole of the New Testament, the same truth of God’s continuing work in creation remains and we much join Him in this!  The angel bids John, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll because the time is near.”  We too should take these words to heart as we join with the angels and the spirit who say together, “Come, Lord Jesus.”

“May the Grace of the Lord be with God’s people.  Amen.”



Luke 12 – Be Alert

Read Luke 12

These warnings of Jesus ring true for us, even in the 21st century.  There are innumerable forces and influences in the world today that offer us a “path to salvation.”  Proponents of such messages are new, exciting, sometimes even vulgar, playing off of the emotions of people who thought the last new and exciting thing would save them, or those that knew it wouldn’t and are seeking an alternative.

It may seem like I am talking about politics here, and that wouldn’t be a wrong assumption, but this is also true in many other realms of life.  Jesus writes in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 that “many will come in my Name…” and that we need to watch out for this.  Jesus also says here, that we should “have no fear.”

Jesus is getting at a deep application of our faith in practice.  Those that are trusting in Jesus should not be looking elsewhere for hope or salvation.  Believers aren’t so concerned about making a country great but rather about caring for the widow and the orphan.  We don’t buy into the notion that a political party can make a country “whole,” because we know the true path to wholeness comes through Jesus Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.  And we don’t latch on to the ideas of Socialism because at its very core, the Church should already be doing these things in their communities, showing deep concern for the marginalized.

Seeking any party, program, or other sources to do these things for us is not simply a matter of laziness, but a matter of salvific preference.  Do we turn to Jesus and follow Him and His great commission?  Or do we place our trust in others to do it for us… and in place of Him?



Day 299: Luke 8-9; The Sent Community

I feel like today I need to post an article that I wrote for my church’s monthly news letter publication for November (you’ll be seeing it before they do).  Over the course of this year we have been talking about the many different aspects of our corporate worship on Sunday mornings.  Everything from Gathering to sermon, and now to the sending time has been covered.  Today, in our reading, we encounter the text of Jesus sending out the disciples… and tomorrow when we read the narrative of Jesus sending out the 72… and it spurs in me the thoughts about the Church’s identity as a “sent community.”  There is much more in today’s reading besides this, I understand, and we have and will talk about some of these different things, but today I feel as though we need to remember “sent” identity.

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We have spent the past 10 months discussing some of the reasons behind how we “do” worship on a given Sunday morning.  Conversations like this are very good in helping us to better understand what we do and how we worship.  One page each month hardly does this subject justice in my opinion, but if this writing has even prompted one conversation or a deeper inspection of worship in one’s own, I would say that it is worth it.  This is the last month of this series of writings, and we have come to what I think is the most important part of the worship service (with the exception of the Table, which we talked about last week), the time of being sent out.  Indeed this is the time in which the community that has gathered from to worship God accepts once again its identity as disciples in Christ and is sent out to be the Body of Christ in the world today.  It is the point at which we accept and assume our identity as Christians and take it beyond the walls of the Church where we are called to serve and to “preach the Gospel to every creature.”

Lately, it seems, that Christian church in North America has kind of gotten its identity a little mixed up.  As we have done over this past year, we put a lot of effort into talking about our Sunday morning worship services.  In fact, we have put more than our fair share of effort into talking about our corporate worship services.  We have had church spits about them, tried to blend them and style them, add things to them, and even use different cultural features to make them more attractive.  Churches across North America have placed an inordinate amount of effort into making themselves and their Corporate worship more attractive to the “un-churched.”  And what has been the result of this?  We have turned the focus of church and worship away from God and towards people creating a consumer mindset in which people have become more concerned with what they are getting out of it and whether it appeals to them.  More than this, as a church we have made it ok for people to jump from church to church based not on the message of that they are hearing or the way that they are being equipped, but based solely on their preference of music or style.  In short, we have made corporate worship about us, not God.

So in light of that, what is the identity that we are called to as the people of God?  It is that of the “sent community.”  I know that there are many that would push back about this being the church’s primary identity when we make it a point so often to say that we identity is in Christ.  This is true.  But to say that our primary identity as the Church is to be “sent out” is not in contrast with our identity in Christ, it is actually a response to it.  Jesus didn’t come into the world, immediately set up a Church, and then try to make it cool so people would come through the door.  No, Jesus was out on the streets of the cities, on the roads of the countryside, and meeting people in their homes and meeting places.  It was in those places that He was teaching and it was in those places that he did all his miracles.  From wedding celebrations to graveside mourning, Jesus was there demonstrating the love of God in all that he did and said.

Jesus modeled this with His disciples as well.  In each of the Gospels there are multiple references to Jesus sending them out, instructing them about being in the world, and even praying to God the Father for their protection as they are out in the world.  The great commission which we, like many other churches, have modeled our mission statement after actually tells us what we need to do:

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.

This is the Biblical model for the church.  It doesn’t say “go if you feel called” or “put money in the plate for the missionaries” (though that does have its place too).  Jesus says to His followers, “GO!”  We don’t need theological training… we don’t need eloquent speeches… we don’t even need to do all the talking… Jesus’ command to so many of the people that He healed was “go and tell people what you have seen and heard.”

Friends we are a sent community.  When the blessing is given, we are sent out empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread the Gospel wherever we go.  Sunday mornings should not be the majority of our Christian life.  We gather together to worship, to hear the Word of God, and to be empowered and equipped to be sent forth into the world proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ.