Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Faith is passive in that we receive it from Father. He gives us faith. It is His gift to us, and with that faith we become His child. It is perfect faith when it is passive, and we are being done unto by God.
Baptism of an infant is a perfect picture of this. The infant is present, babbling and looking at Mom and Dad and Pastor. Water is applied to the infant, and the infant passively receives it.
Our faith is not aggressive. Unlike Augustine, who thought we are given faith, then we add to, and improve, and exercise our way to perfect faith. Scripture makes it plain that we are put to death as a sinner, and raised as a saint. That is perfect, passive faith.
Faith is aggressive on Father's part. He pursued us with great love, and we can see his aggressive love for us in Jesus. Jesus living in our stead, dying for our sins, resurrecting first, so that we may follow.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Real Presence is not a magical occurrence, such as thought to be by Roman Catholics. Nor is it an empty cup and bread, as thought amongst the many variations of Reformed Christians. No, it is Jesus who promises to be with us at communion.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. ~ Matthew 18
Communion means to be united with one another. We commune with Jesus and the saints militant and the saints triumphant. It is a mystery that we regularly eat and drink with our Lord. We must believe the promises.
For our God is a consuming fire. Hebrews 12
How can it be that we are not consumed in the presence of our Holy Jesus when we are at the altar of the Lord‘s Supper? Some of us are served communion weekly, some less frequently. Yet we are not consumed.
Jesus’ body broken for us, Jesus’ blood spilled out for us. That is what we receive. Forgiveness of sins. It is due to that same body and blood that we received that we are not consumed.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
A good tree produces good fruit because the trunk of the tree is working properly. Jesus is the trunk, we are the branches, Him working in and through us is the fruit. Good fruit cannot produce a good tree. No matter how hard we try, the fruit we create on our own is always rotten.
It is important as believers to get the direction right. The flow is from the top down, not from the down up. All other religions flow backwards, only in Christianity is the direction correct. God comes down through us, so that we can move out and serve our neighbor. We are passive, and free.
God is doing what He does, making all things new. First he makes us new, so that He can work in us. We become free from the law, and are in Christ. He moves us from under the law, and into Christ. We are a new creation. That new creation can live large in the world and serve our neighbor, and enhance life around us.
Isn’t that freeing?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
I was listening to some people discussing sanctification. Here is the gist of the conversation: Yes, we are to obey the law. The Holy Spirit empowers us with grace to be able to follow the commandments of God. When we sin, we just need to resist harder. We are to mortify our flesh.
Do you hear Roman Catholicism in those ideas?
The penance there is all the things we must do. "We must mortify our flesh. We must obey the law." How do we mortify the flesh? The answer was that we are to crucify our flesh. More things we must do, more penance.
Scripture says in Romans 6, But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.
and in 1 Corinthians 1, But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,
Our sanctification is Jesus Christ. We don't do the best we can, and then God finishes what we cannot do.
Why can I call Roman Catholics brethren? Because they err the same way the Calvinists do, going back under the law after salvation. And not only do the Calvinists make this grave error, but so do all her step-children, the Arminians.
Paul warns us about returning to the law this way in Galatians 4, Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Dear Reader, did you hear the idea of penance in that conversation? Did it sound like Roman Catholicism to you, too? Self-flagellation was equated to sanctification. The conversation was amongst Calvinists, not Roman Catholics; but to my ears they sound the same.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Sunday, April 11, 2010
God wants us to confront our doubts;He will answer them. He answered Thomas' doubt about Jesus' resurrection. Thomas' reply was, "My Lord and My God!" Thomas gained belief. Jesus was bigger than Thomas' doubt and more than able and willing to answer!
One of the biggest hurdles in approaching a sacramental view was the doubt that sacraments truly did anything. Most of us are taught that sacraments are just representative; no real presence is there.
From the Westminster Confession of faith: Sacraments are holy signs and seals of the covenant of grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent Christ and His benefits; and to confirm our interest in Him: as also, to put a visible difference between those that belong unto the Church and the rest of the world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of God in Christ, according to His Word.
In Baptistic churches, which is the predominant view in the U.S.A., they are taught so well that instantly one will react to the real presence in Holy Communion with "It is only symbolic. The apostles weren't gnawing on Jesus' actual body."
Upon facing my own doubt about this, God answered me with scripture. Peter tells us that baptism washes away sin. Moses and the Israelites were saved by passing through the Red Sea, with Pharoah and his army drowned in the sea not to rise again. Naaman's leprosy was healed by passing through the water.
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread: and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and gave it to His disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.