Archive for September 30th, 2011

One God – One Way

A Confident Prayer ” Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.” (Psalm 42:11). Have you noticed that the higher our expectations, the greater our disappointment when they are not met? Whether our unrealistic expectations are placed in other people, in our own strength, or in specific situations, we will always experience discouragement when things do not go as planned. But when our expectations are placed in the promises of God, we will never be disappointed. His timing may not always be as quick as we would like and His methods may be different from what we expected, but God will always follow through on His promises. In Luke 2:25-35 we read about Simeon, who placed his expectations on God’s faithfulness. He had spent his lifetime anticipating the arrival of the Messiah. And because God had told him he would personally see the Christ, Simeon knew that Jesus would be born in his lifetime. After years of waiting and watching, Simeon was ready to be relieved of his post. When he held the Christ child in his arms, he prayed, “‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel'” (Luke 2:30-32). Simeon’s prayer was a confident prayer. He was not surprised that God had fulfilled His promise. He knew God would remain faithful. Simeon’s expectations were met because they were rooted in the promises of God. God had promised to send the Messiah, so He sent Jesus Christ to earth. Simeon never gave up on God, and God did not disappoint him. What a contrast to the expectations we place on this world! We place high expectations in the wrong things and the wrong people and are surprised when we end up bitterly disappointed. We forget that the only One who will never disappoint us is God. (LTW)

Prayer: Father God, help us to place our expectations in You, not in this world. We know that You will never disappoint us. May our hearts and hope be forever stayed on you. In Jesus name, Amen.

“Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”( Psalm 42:5)

With love and prayers,
Yours affectionately in Christ,

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It’s Not Just About Me and Jesus

Next time you got to church try not to think about me and God. Think about us and God instead.

Why? Because that’s how the early Christ­ians thought, and it may be the main reason that they triumphed over Greco- Roman paganism in the face of overwhelming odds.

Historians are trained to rely on primary sources before turning to the secondary reflec­tions of contemporary scholars. Consider the following first-hand observations about Christ­ian community from Roman antiquity. We will begin in the fourth century and work our way back to the New Testament.

Our first witness is a real piece of work. His name says it all: Julian the Apostate. His uncle was Constantine. the first Roman emperor who professed allegiance to Christianity. Julian rejected Jesus and converted to paganism. He became emperor in AD. 361. Julian then em­barked upon a mission to turn the Roman Empire back to pagan religion.

Here is an excerpt from a letter Julian wrote to a pagan buddy. Julian recognizes that in his efforts to resuscitate paganism he must first figure out why the Christians have been so successful. His explanation for the rise of Christianity (he calls it “atheism”) is crystal clear:

Why do we not observe that it is the Christians’ benevolence to strangers, their care for the graves of the dead and the pretended holiness of their lives that have done the most to increase atheism? When the impious Galileans support not only their own poor, but ours as well, all men see that our people lack aid from us!

In Julian’s eyes it was Christian social soli­darity – not Christian theology – that attracted hoards to the Jesus movement. Monotheism did exert some appeal to persons paralyzed with fear in the face of a multitude of gods and goddesses, spirits and demons. For the most part, however, it was not Christian beliefs that encouraged thou­sands to endure social ostracization and risk state persecution by joining the Jesus movement, as the church proceeded to spread like a holy fire throughout the Roman world. It was Christian behavior. It was Christian community.

Our second ancient witness, Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (c. A.D. 250), put it like this, in what is our first surviving commentary on the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples:

Before all things, the Teacher of peace and Master of unity did not wish prayer to be offered individually and privately as one would pray only for himself when he prays. We do not say: ‘My Father, who art in heaven,’ nor ‘Give me this day my bread.’ nor does each one ask that only his debt be forgiven him and that he be led not into temptation and that he be delivered from evil for himself alone. Our prayer is public and common, and when we pray we pray not for one but for the whole people, because we, the whole people, are one.

Cyprian sure makes a whole lot of that little pronoun “our,” which occurs again and again in the Lord’s Prayer! I cannot help but get the impression that this towering North African church leader and martyr would have been more than a little hit puzzled by our preoccupation in our churches with Jesus as a personal Savior.

The Apostle Paul would have been, as well. Yes, Jesus was Paul’s personal Savior. And He is mine and yours, as well. (No Biola professor would dare to challenge that eternal truth!) But Paul just doesn’t seem to be as consumed with all this “me and Jesus” stuff as we are in evangelical America.

Again, it’s all in the pronouns. In his letters, Paul refers to Jesus as “our Lord” that is, as the Lord of God’s people as a group – 53 times. Only once, in contrast, does the expression “my Lord” appear in Paul’s writings (Phil. 3:8). This speaks volumes about the priorities of the great apostle. Paul’s overarching concern in his ministry went far beyond the personal spiritual pilgrimage of his individual converts. Paul’s driving passion was to establish spiritually vibrant, relationally healthy communities of believers in strategic urban set­tings throughout the Mediterranean world.

And those Christian communities ultimate­ly turned the Roman Empire on its head – just like Jesus promised they would: “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

So, next Sunday in church, try to not to think so much about me and Jesus. Think about us and Jesus instead. Then perhaps the men, women and children in our world will know that we are truly His disciples.

Joseph Hellerman (M.Div. ’84, Th.M. ’87) serves as a professor of New Testament language and literature in Biola’s seminary, Talbot School of Theology. This article includes portions excerpted from his forthcoming book, When the Church Was a Family: Jesus’ Vision for Authentic Christian Community (Broadman & Holman).


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C H Mackintosh

Noi toţi care credem in Hristos că a fost mort şi a inviat suntem pecetluiţi cu Duhul Sfint şi suntem parte din Trupul Său. Trupul este văzut pe pămant ca: “este un singur trup”. Aceasta este atat de adevărat acum  cat era şi cand apostolul a scris-o Efesenilor. Trupul este indisolubil. Unitatea sa nu poate fi intreruptă. Nu există “rupere a trupului” sau “indepărtare a membrelor”. Acestea sunt expresii care sunt folosite fără a lua in consideraţie ce spune Scriptura. Noi trebuie să recunoaştem acest adevăr de bază care este unitatea trupului.

Nu suntem chemaţi să formăm o unitate, ci să recunoaştem unitatea care Dumnezeu Duhul Sfant a format-o. A căuta să formăm o unitate este atat de contrara adevarului cat este a căuta să lucrăm pentru mantuirea noastră. Dumnezeu Işi descopere neprihănirea pe principiul credinţei; credem şi o posedăm. Tot aşa Işi revelează Dumnezeu unitatea Sa; credem şi umblăm in lumina acesteia. Este trist că oamenii refuză să se supună neprihănirii lui Dumnezeu şi işi stabilesc ei pe a lor. La fel refuză şi unitatea lui Dumnezeu şi işi stabilesc pe a lor, dar amandouă, şi neprihănirea cat şi unitatea omului trec ca nişte vapori, pe cand neprihănirea şi unitatea lui Dumnezeu dăinuieşte in veci.

Dorinţa noastră trebuie mereu să fie “adevărul mai intai; unitate dacă este posibil, dar adevăr”. Dacă unitatea este menţinută sacrificand adevărul, atunci nu poate fi “unitatea Duhului”. Mulţi cad in greşeala de a gandi că unitatea este ceva care ei trebuie să stabilească, pe cand unitatea trupului este o realitate imensă, un adevăr substanţial in a cărui lumină suntem chemaţi să umblăm şi să ne judecăm pe noi inşine şi tot ce este in jurul nostru. Nu suntem competenţi să formăm acea unitate cum nu suntem in stare să ne ispăşim păcatele  sau să lucrăm neprihănirea noastră. Este lucrarea lui Dumnezeu de la inceput pana la sfarşit. El şi-a descoperit neprihănirea Sa; noi o primim prin credinţă. El Şi-a descoperit unitatea Sa; noi o primim prin credinţă. Aşa cum este o greşeală foarte mare să credem că am putea incerca să lucrăm la neprihănirea noastră, tot aşa este şi cu a incerca să lucrăm la unitatea noastră. Hristos este centrul unităţii lui Dumnezeu; Duhul Sfant este puterea, iar adevărul este baza.

Cat despre unitatea omenească, vei găsi tot felul de centre – un om, o ordonanţă, o doctrină, orice dar nu Hristos. Aceasta unitate poate fi menţinută de energia dorinţei omeneşti şi este des bazată pe tradiţie, eficienţă sau scop. Intr-un cuvant nu este Hristos sau Duhul adevărului. Nu este Dumnezeiască şi dacă nu strangem cu Dumnezeu, imprăştiem.

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