Sunday, July 26, 2009

How High is Your Ecclesiology?

Holding a high ecclesiology will eventually crumble into a high view of the law. Churches often argue for their own survival. The pull of culture drags them down into the world; taking the eyes of the congregants off of our object of worship, Jesus. The church, to survive against the world, must exhibit grace without strings, without conditions, from the pulpit of weakness.

In the pulpit of weakness stands a proclaimer of the good news of reconciliation with Jesus Christ. Often this proclaimer stands against the politics of the human organization of churches. These pastors are at the mercy of the powerful; the church machines that control and run roughshod over the sheep.

Beware of the high church views, disenchantment may snare you and plummet you into atheism. Holding ecclesiology lightly, even suspicously, is the answer to the church behaving badly. Do not make the mistake of underestimating the affects of total depravity. God's grace through Jesus Christ is our only Hope.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Mary is the Theotokos, the God-bearer. That term often brings up fear and knee-jerk reactions out of Protestants. The fear is borne of the thought that if we call Mary the Theotokos, it links Protestants to the apostate Roman Catholic Church. We need not fear that link when we call Mary the Theotokos. Affirming Mary as Theotokos does not equate to idolatry. To deny Mary as the Theotokos is an attack on the incarnation of Christ.

Jesus is fully God, fully man. Christ's two natures are united and inseparable. Therefore, Mary is the God-bearer.

The other aspect of Nestorian thinking is that only Christ's humanity died on the cross. Most Protestants today are Nestorian in their theology of Christ on the cross. Even very traditional, orthodox Calvinists are Nestorians. They do a bit of a jig to deny this, yet in reality the teaching is Nestorian. The teaching is that Jesus' perfect humanity died on the cross; not his divine nature. So the separation is made.

What is Nestorianism? In my own words, it is the separating of Christ's humanity from His divinity. As is usual in church history, it takes a heretic to come along for the church to codify orthodoxy. Nestorius was that heretic. He was a bishop in Constantinople, and he preached against Mary as Theotokos. As a result of this conflict, the church is left with the Chalcedon Creed.

Are Nestorians Christians? Yes, I believe so. We are saved by Jesus; not by correct doctrine. Dear Reader, this brief post is to encourage you to consider this topic further.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Promises in Baptism

Baptism contains many promises that God gives to his adopted children. Meditating on those promises while thinking about baptism is an encouraging activity. It chases out doubt and the propensity I have to look into myself for my faith. But my faith rests in Jesus, not in my own faith or seeming lack thereof. Dear Reader, let's look at baptism promises and be reminded of the goodness of God.

He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned." Mark 16:15-16

The passage from Mark 16 above tells us that baptism marks our salvation. Do you believe, and were you baptized, Dear Reader? I answer a happy "yes" to that question.

Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call." Acts 2:38-39

Repentance and baptism are both works of God. All we can do is receive both from God. Jesus picks up his lambs and places them upon his shoulders, turns them around, and carries them home; likewise, in baptism, we receive the water and are subject to it. In baptism and repentance we have forgiveness of sins. Another happy affirmation and reason to look to our baptism!

Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin-- because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. Romans 6:3-8

Dear Reader, in Romans 6 we see another promise associated with our baptism! We will be resurrected with Jesus and we will be freed from sin! O happy day to come! What cause for joyful expectation of our future!

And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1 Corinthians 6:11

Relax, Dear Reader, look at all that is accomplished by our washing. We are the recipients of the good gifts found in baptism. We are sanctified, and justified by the work of the Holy Spirit, applying what our Lord Jesus accomplished on the cross, by the direction of God, our Father.

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:3-7

Look, Dear Reader, at Who is given to us upon our baptism. It is the person of the Holy Spirit. Praise Him!

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26-28

We are children of God. He has become our Abba Father! We are adopted into God's family at our baptism.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25-27

Through baptism we are washed clean, made to be the perfect Church, without blemish. What a promise!

Dear Reader, I encourage you to look at other verses and add to my cursory list of the promises we have in baptism. God is faithful in His word.

If you have not been baptized, Christian, here is the last verse I will post for your benefit:

And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name. Acts 22:16