Friday, August 21, 2009

Pre-occupation with Youth - Desperate Church Life

What is up with this pre-occupation and paranoia about youth?

I am sure me asking this sounds dumb, the answer should be obvious. I just have to look and I should see that the youth is absent in the churches. This came up in my mind when I attended the our community interchurch council meeting. The subject of the annual fund raising dinner came up and one the ministers from a non-denominational non-confessional background brought the subject if young people ever come to the fund raising dinner. Not really, they don't turn up.

So first, he suggested the idea of volunteering his church's band. Good, give them one of those monotonous, "me, me, I love you Jesus, I burn for you" music. That should attract them. Then one of the Baptist pastors said he has a missionary from Uganda and he could do the talk. Then the non-denom pastor added, is there someone who could also stand up comedy, do them jokes stuff? That should really get the young people interested in coming to the dinner no?

Finally, in my usual stupid way - I said, well why you are it, may be you might as well get a magician, no? He said his wife can do that, she is able to make his money disappear, I said - we should get her.

Oh yes, the youth in some big churches are coming, but in the end, where are they going?

I mean are churches going down to the gutter on this, are they that desperate that by hook or by crook we should give whatever it takes to get the young people in? Really now, if what they need is a circus, should we be willing to give that to them, so long as they can get in to church?

Sure enough, non-denom folks are notorious for not trusting the means of grace, I guess they are like that because though they do believe in some means, they do not believe in the ones where God has promised to work.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Stuhlmacher on Rom 4:25

Romans 4:25
25 who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification

Faith in this God is true faith. It genuinely leads to justification. [25] Verse 25 declares why this is so by a formula of confession which was already structured before Paul's call into two clauses that are arranged in Semitic parallelism and oriented on the Hebrew text of Is 53:11f. As it is indicated in Isaiah 53, God delivered Jesus over to his opponents and thus to death on the cross "because of our transgressions (cf. Mk 9;31, 10:33f. par.; 1 Cor 11:23; Rom. 8:32)., and he raised him in recognition of his act of sacrifice "because of our justification". Christ's act of sacrifice on the cross, ordained by God and endorsed as valid by the resurrection, is and remains the legal ground for the justification of all those who, as the "ungodly", believe in the God who revealed himself in Christ. God's salvific righteousness comes to pass in the resurrected Christ from "now' (3:21) until the final judgement. [emphasis mine]

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Hard not to associate A with B

Let's face it, when the news breaks out on terrorists being captured or people being charged of terrorist activities, we do not normally link their religious background to being Catholic or Protestant.

I mean, it will be hard to imagine a Baptist trying to blow up a saloon or a bar. Or a Pentecostal setting on fire a movie house then blowing himself up so he can take down as much people with him.

This post by Andrew Bold here speaks for itself.

Monday, August 03, 2009

In Christ, no parsing needed

Eph 1 (NASB)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8which He lavished on us.

Col 1 (NASB)

13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

I used to try to penetrate deeply in to what those "IN CHRIST" passages mean. In fact it was brought up in one of the discussions here.

Now I do not do that anymore because I believe it has to be understood in its plain sense, it needs no parsing.

Forgiveness is not found anywhere floating in the air but it is found specifically in one location - in the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ - who has become our righteousness, sanctification and redemption - 1 Cor 1:30. He is God's gift to us - for us. He brings us to Christ so that we may benefit in his work of paying for our sins. Jesus is The Righteous One.

So when we are bothered that we are thoroughly not righteous, we point to Christ in the face of the Law and even in the face of the accuser of the brethren.

These IN CHRIST passages I observe has a way of pushing you to believe - and to believe what? - Precisely the same thing - that IN CHRIST I have righteousness, sanctification and redemption. To confess this is to believe also what the Scripture says - that indeed IN CHRIST we have the forgiveness of our sins who gave himself as ransom for us all.

The other question, is this - am I IN CHRIST? This is one of the reasons why these IN CHRIST passages had a way of mystifying me.

I was told I am in Christ if I believed. This is true but what happens when I doubt if I even believe?

According to Philip Cary in his paper - "Why Luther is not quite Protestant", Luther looked at his baptism when faced with such doubts.

We need to rely on another Scripture that in our Baptism according to God's word - Rom 1:1-6, God has placed us IN CHRIST. That is what happened. God applied Jesus death to us forgiving us of our sins, in that means of grace. The effect of baptism then if God's Word is to be believed, is not confined only at that point when we were baptized but its effect is for the rest of our lives. The forgiveness is all of our sins not just some.

May our hearts always confess, "yes Lord God, IN CHRIST I have your forgiveness of sin, Jesus has already paid it on my behalf". Amen.