Monday, November 23, 2009

Walking By Faith

August 2009

I was today reminded today by Pastor Tullian Tchividjian of a dialogue between John Chrysostom and the empress Eudoxia when Chrysostom was brought before her and put on trial.

“You cannot banish me, for this world is my Father’s house.”

“But I will kill you,” said the empress.

“No, you cannot, for my life is hid with Christ in God,” said John.

“I will take away your treasures.”

“No, you cannot, for my treasure is in heaven and my heart is there.”

“But I will drive you away from your friends and you will have no one left.”

“No, you cannot, for I have a Friend in heaven from whom you cannot separate me. I defy you, for there is nothing you can do to harm me.”

Chrysostom knew the utter freedom of faith in the One True God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Walk by faith my friends.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Living In Spiritual Power

July 2012

The Greek word baptismo is one with an interesting history. It was already in use in another form by the Jews, but came to its Christian form with John the Baptist. He uniquely baptized even those born into Judaism for repentance and to identify them as believers in God who would act in accordance with their beliefs.

The word by its very definition implies immersion… not pouring or sprinkling. We also see that the symbolism of the act of baptism and its long standing meaning of identification and even of destruction. This meaning of destruction that comes from the root word gives the word a very close kinship to the English word to drown. Listen to these words in that context and it will give new depth of understanding.

Romans 6:4 (HCSB)
4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life.

A desire from a time shortly after Augustine to see babies protected combined with the desire of the state to keep track of people helped to cost baptism some of its meaning. Most do not realize that for millennia the church kept records of infant baptism and that was how the state (which supported the church) tracked births. Since early Baptists in America fought against any state entanglements and asked for a separation between church and state, we do not naturally understand how politics could affect God’s church.

Yet we have come back to the way things were done in the early church and baptism of adults and the return of identification and the idea of the destruction of sin in our lives has returned to the meaning of baptism for those who truly desire to walk with Christ.

Recognizing Unity

Being baptized identifies you as a follower of Christ. This is why it is only practiced in the context of the church.

1 Corinthians 12:13 (HCSB)
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Baptism makes us all equal. We are destroyed and the labels we placed upon ourselves become irrelevant in the context of the church.

Ephesians 4:4-6 (HCSB)
4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope at your calling—
5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

We are one with those around us in this Body. Think about that the next time you begin to feel smug or self righteous. When we start looking down on the behavior of others we see an immediate problem in the church today. It is one of the great problems that I see in our own church and it is the fact that we do not even try to disciple new believers. I am talking about one-on-one TIME spent sharing the way we live and the truths of the faith.

Living According to Our Baptism

1. The Spirit of God has made us ONE.

The whole idea of identification is incredibly deep. We do not identify ourselves by petty things like a sexual deviancy or some bizarre behavior. We do not even identify ourselves by race primarily, though the historical reasons for doing so are anything but petty as they were for the Jews of Jesus’ time and today. No, the identification is clear;

1 Corinthians 12:13 (HCSB)
13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

2. The Spirit of God has Made Us Dead to Sin

We are to die to self and so, to sin. Paul asks how we can live this way any longer? Should we not grow weary of identifying our entire worldview through lenses of triviality?
Romans 6:3-6 (HCSB)
3 Or are you unaware that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we were buried with Him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in a new way of life. 5 For if we have been joined with Him in the likeness of His death, we will certainly also be in the likeness of His resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with Him in order that sin’s dominion over the body may be abolished, so that we may no longer be enslaved to sin,

Becoming the Church

To be the Church of Jesus Christ means that we are living in God's power, not ours. It means that all differences between us as people become pale compared to the cross of Jesus Christ and the fact of our being buried with Him in His death. We are a different and powerful people and we will be known by the love that defines us and by the example of Jesus that definned that love for all time and proved its worth through His resurrection.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Ordering Principle

The deepest and most interesting passage in all of the New Testament may be the opening verses of first chapter of the gospel of John. It conveys both the individuality and unity of God the Father and the Divinity, Unity and individuality of Jesus Christ, God the Son. It also uses a unique word often found in Greek philosophy to describe Jesus. That word, Logos, means the both word (as it is translated in English) and the ordering principle of the Universe. When translated "word" it implies a message rather than a single word, though the message may be contained in a single word. It is a word rich in meaning that is frequently used to convey the Word of God, both spoken and written in the Old Testament LXX.

In John, Jesus is portrayed as the meaning, as a living embodiment of all that it and as the Creator of all that is. The Logos in all that the word implies. "What does all of this have to do with me?" You may well ask. It has a great deal to do with all of us. If, as evidence suggests, Jesus is alive, the Way that He asks us to live life becomes the ordering principle of our Universe. This makes the words of Jesus below deeply profound:

John 14:6 (HCSB)
6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

What will we do with Jesus? The proofs of the resurrection make this question acute. The fact that He rose in part to prove His other words true make it critical. The fact that He claimed that He will return make it an essential question for your life.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A Note to Self

When I wrote this in July 2008 I was definitely writing it as a "note to self" as I really like that good intellectual argument.

Today I celebrate the birthday of a young woman who is my employee and pray for peace and for the family of another woman who has learned that she has 4-8 weeks of life remaining. Praise God that both know Christ.

In both cases I have had driven home to me the power of God in human lives. Both are people who have no earthly power, but whose strength and dignity come from God. I am reminded yet again of the passages and message we have been studying on Sunday mornings whose core meaning is found in (NIV):
1Cr 2:1

When I came to you, brothers, I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.
1Cr 2:2

For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1Cr 2:3

I came to you in weakness and fear, and with much trembling.
1Cr 2:4

My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power,
1Cr 2:5

so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power.

When seeking to share Christ what is it we worry about? Are we concerned that God is not able to defend Himself or that we will not be eloquent enough? Paul makes it very clear what he thinks of human eloquence.

Recently, a speaker at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary shared his experiences serving as a missionary in a primarily Buddhist country. He shared his realization that many of his neighbors were more "spiritual" than he. The great realization that hit him and changed his life and his ministry was the realization that he had tremendous "intellectual" training in the grand tradition of the West, but that he had little experience of God's power. He was brought to his knees by the passage I just shared. That is exactly what God was waiting for. From that position God led him to a Church Planting Movement among over 50 villages that came to Christ over a short and explosive period.

Do we have the humility to stop looking for the eloquence we think we need to change the world and to begin to humble ourselves and rely on God for the power that it will actually take to win our friends and neighbors and to change this world forever?