Monday, July 25, 2011

The Joy of Dependence

American culture is wrapped up in independence. We won our independence from King George III, we celebrate that independence every Fourth of July. Our modern, or post modern, culture tells us we do not need to accept the status quo, we are to be free from the chains that bound our forefathers. Often those chains are what was once called a sin, they are now referred to as an alternative lifestyle; whether it is gay marriage, or living together without benefit of marriage.

All of us, believers and unbelievers, are dependent upon our Creator. We are creatures that cannot live independently of Him. We are given life and breath; our very being is a gift from our Creator. For a Christian, this is very freeing news.

Christians can enjoy their earthiness; their creatureliness; their being. We have been freed to be fully dependent on Jesus. We can take delight in the things that bring us joy; whether it is out in nature, enjoying animals, splashing in a pool, walking a mile or two, playing an instrument, reading a well-written book, being with other creatures. We no longer need to hide from Him, as Adam and Eve did. We can have full fellowship thanks to the completed work of Jesus for our sake, the forgiveness of our sin.

There is freedom in our dependence.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gleanings from Kolb's Bound Choice

God-chases. I love that term that Robert Kolb uses in this book I am currently reading. God-chases refers to the human activity of attempting to seek out the Hidden God, rather than receiving the Revealed God. The Hidden God is the innermost parts of God that are not revealed in scripture. To truly see God we look at Jesus.

>which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. ~ Col 2, ESV

It's not possible for creatures to find out everything about God. When we go on God-chases, in light that our minds are darkened by sin, we will end up with a tamed God that looks like us, or is to our liking. Searching for God apart from his Word leads to arrogance or despair.

The world is black and white. Luther has said, "Outside of Christ is nothing but Satan, apart from grace nothing but wrath, apart from light only darkness, apart from the Way only error, apart from the Truth only a lie, apart from Life only death." It is either in Christ, or not in Christ. There is no grey area here.

When we accept and believe the revealed God and his Word, he will also reveal the hidden God.

Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? ~John 14, ESV

As an example, when other Christians deny Mary as the Theotokos, they cannot see the hidden God. They will not look at Jesus being born of a woman. Fearing God will be weakened by saying that Mary is Jesus' mother, they reject Theotokos outright due to their darkened, sinful minds.

It is also so regarding sacraments, where Jesus promises He will meet us. Sacramentarians are made by those God-chasers, as they arrogantly claim to know how, where, why, and when God will or will not work in our lives.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Death of Self in the Words of Christ

So often I hear other Christians talk about how they are, essentially, getting better and better every day, in every way. Is that any different from the Pharisees that Jesus called hypocrites? Outwardly, desperately, trying to appear beautiful; much like a Jane Austen character putting on airs for polite society. Inwardly, they seeth against others, jockey for a higher position, compete, in secret, lest their sin be exposed.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. ~ Matthew 23, ESV

Jesus comes to create us new. He died and so must we. Why do we expect anything less? Are we his disciples or not?

But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. ~ Romans 7, ESV

For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God. ~ Romans 7, ESV

We are raised to new life in our baptism. The promises are attached to our baptism. Believe that as a Christian. It is God's Holy Word and Promise to you.

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. ~ Romans 6, ESV

The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it. The love of man comes into being through that which is pleasing to it. ~ Heidelberg Disputation, Number 28

Therefore sinners are »attractive« because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive: For this reason the love of man avoids sinners and evil persons. Thus Christ says: For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners (Matt. 9:13).
~ Portion of the proofs of thesis 28

So be happy that it is by your death through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, you are made a new creation. The solution to the demands of the Law, is the death of the demands of the law. The Creator creates us new.

Your sins are forgiven for the sake of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Feeling Forgiven Part Two

Upon first realizing the gospel of our forgiveness of sin for the sake of Jesus, we can react in many ways: tears, crying, happiness, joy. Ultimately the underlying response of all the outward manifestations is great joy.

In our faith life, we sometimes must know we are forgiven by the words of Christ through scripture or the mouths of our friends. We may not feel forgiven, but the truth is that Jesus has declared us to be so. Then there are times when we do feel the forgiveness of Jesus. Those times are full of joy and feeling light as a feather.

When I am aware of my forgiven state I share the gospel with others more freely, without hindrance. The joy bubbles over and life is enjoyable. There are times when it is a quiet joy, as well. No matter what others say, I know my state with my Savior, the lover of my soul.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. ~Luke 7, ESV