Unquestionably then, this new life that we live with the Father in Christ is founded exclusively on the work of the Spirit. The justification, focus, and ultimate culmination of this new life is comprised in the truth that through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, received by faith and baptism, we have become sons and daughters of God. ‘For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God’ (Rom. 8:14-16). Similarly, in Galatians Paul writes: And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So through God you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then an heir’ (Gal. 4:6-7). Equally the splendor of the Spirit allows us to share in the splendor of the Lord so that ‘with unveiled Face, beholding the glory of the Lord, [we] are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit’ (2 Cor. 4:7-18).
book: The Father’s Spirit of Sonship author: Thomas G. Weinandy
These are recollections of my life when I was a beast and ate grass, which I, Nebuchadnezzar, make known to all people and to every tongue.
Was not Babel the great city, the greatest of all the cities of the world? I, Nebuchadnezzar, built it. No city was so renowned as Babel, and no king so renowned through Babel, the glory of my majesty. My royal house was visible unto the ends of the earth, and my wisdom was like a dark riddle which no one could explain. So no one could interpret my dreams.
And the word came to me that for seven years I should be transformed and become like a beast that eats the grass of the field. And I heard a voice that came suddenly, and I was transformed as quickly as a woman changes color. Grass was my food, and dew fell upon me, and no one knew who I was. But I knew Babel and cried out, “Is not this Babel?” But no one paid attention to my word, for when I spoke I sounded like a bellowing beast. My thoughts terrified me, for my mouth was bound, and no one could grasp a thing I said. And I thought to myself: Who is this Mighty One whose wisdom is like the darkness of the night, and like the deep sea unfathomable? No one knows where the Almighty resides, no one can point and say, “Behold, here is his throne.” For he does not dwell on the confines of my kingdom as does my neighbor. And neither does he dwell in his temple, for I, I, Nebuchadnezzar, have taken his vessels of gold and silver, and have leveled his temple to ruins.
No one knows anything of him. Who is his father, and how did he came to acquire his power, and who taught him the secret of his might? He has no advisers from whom one might buy his secret for gold; no one to whom he says, “What shall I do?” and no one who says to him,”What are you doing?” He does not have spies who wait for the opportunity when one might catch him; for he does not say, “Tomorrow,” he says, “today.” He makes no preparations like a man, and his preparations give the enemy no rest, for he says, “let it be done,” and it comes to pass.
It is he who has done this to me. He does not aim like the bowman, so that one can flee from his arrow; no, he speaks and it is done. In his hand, the brain of kings is like wax in the smelting oven, and their power is like a feather when he weighs it. And yet he does not dwell on earth that he might take Babel from me and leave me a small residue, or that he might take away everything from me in order to be the Mighty One In Babel.
This is how I thought in the secrecy of my mind, when no one recognized me and when my thoughts terrified me. This is how I thought of the Lord. But the seven years passed by and I became once again Nebuchadnezzar, and I called together all the wise men to see if they could explain to me the secret of that power, and how it was I had become a beast of the field. And they all fell down upon their faces and said, “Great Nebuchadnezzar, this is but a vision, an evil dream! Who could be capable of doing this to you?” But my wrath was kindled against them, and I had them put away for their folly. For the Lord possesses all might, as no human being possesses it, and I will not envy his power, but will laud it.
Babel has ceased to be the renowned Babel, and I, Nebuchadnezzar, am no longer Nebuchadnezzar, and my armies no longer protect me, for no one can see the Lord and no one can recognize him. Even if he were to come, the watchmen would give warning in vain, because I have already become like a bird in the tree, or like a fish in the water, known only to the other fish.
I no longer desire to be renowned through Babel, but every seventh year there shall be a festival in the land, a great festival among the peope, and it shall be called the Feast of the Transformation. And an astrologer shall be led through the streets and be dressed like a beast, and he shall carry with him his calculations, torn to shreds like a bunch of hay. And all the people shall cry, “The Lord, the Lord, is the Mighty One. His deed is swift like the leap of the great fish in the sea.”
My days have been numbered, and my dominion has gone like a watch in the night. I do not know where to go-whether it is to the invisible land in the distance where the Mighty One lives, that I might find grace in his eyes, or whether he will take the breath of life from me, so that I become like a cast-off garment like my predecessors, that he might find delight in me.
I, I, Nebuchadnezzar, have made this known to all people and to every tongue, and great Babel shall carry out my will. by…Soren Kierkegaard
We Americans are not well-known in the world as people who know how to blush. On the contrary, we are a very self-confident people. The last thing we want is to be told that we cannot do anything to save ourselves from the most serious problem that we have ever or will eve encounter-that we are entirely at God’s mercy. Apart from a miracle, religious success in this atmosphere will always go to those who can effectively appeal to this can-do spirit and push as far to the background as possible anything that might throw our swaggering self off-balance. When looking for ultimate answers, we turn within ourselves, trusting our own experience rather than looking outside ourselves to God’s external Word.
For an example of what the second step involves, look at Isaiah 40:12ff. Here God speaks to people whose mood is the mood of many Christians today-despondent people, cowed people, secretly despairing people; people who have ceased to believe that the cause of Christ can ever prosper again. Now see how God through His prophet reasons with them.
Look at the tasks I have done, He says. Could you do them? Could any man do them? ‘Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, and meted out heaven with the span, and comprehended the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales, and the hills in a balance?’ (verse 12). Are you wise enough, and mighty enough, to do things like that? But I am; or I could not have made this world at all. ‘Behold your God!’
Let us act with humility, cast ourselves at one another’s feet, join hands with each other, and help another. For here we battle not against pope or emperor, but against the devil, and do you imagine that he is asleep? Martin Luther And Thou, O most merciful Father, we beseech Thee for Thy mercy’s sake, continue Thy grace and favor toward us: let the sun of Thy gospel never go down out of our hearts’ let Thy truth abide, and be established among us forever…. Apparel us thoroughly in Christ, that he may live in us, and so Thy name may be glorified in the sight of all the world. Amen. John Jewel
Redemer, teach us not only to believe on You, but also to abide in You; to take Your cross not only as the ground of our pardon, but also as the law of our life Teach us to love it not only because on it You have bore our curse, but because on it we enter into the closet fellowship with Yourself and and crucified with You. And teach us that as we yield ourselves wholly, to be possessed of the Spirit in which You did bear the Cross, we will be made partakers of the power and the blessings to which the Cross alone gives access. book: Abide in Christ auther: Andrew Murray
We must now examine the specific relationship between the Kingdom and the church, accepting the circle of Jesus’ disciples as the incipient church if not yet the church itself . The solution to this problem will depend upon one’s basic definition of the kingdom. If the dynamic concept of the kingdom is correct, it is never to be identified with the church. The Kingdom is primarily the dynamic reign or kingly rule of God and derivative, the sphere in which the rule is experienced. In biblical idiom, the kingdom is not identified with its subjects.They are the people of God’s rule who enter it, live under it and are governed by it. The church is the community of the kingdom but never the kingdom itself. Jesus’ disciples belong to the Kingdom as the kingdom belongs to them’ but they are not the kingdom the kingdom is the rule of God’ the church is a society of women and men…………G. E Ladd
There is surely no part of Christian teaching which has been the subject of so much ridicule and indignant rejection as the doctrine of election. How absurd for intelligent, educated people to believe that almighty God should have his favorites, that he should pick out one small tribe among all the families of humankind to be the special objects of his attention. Is it not simply a piece of ignorant egotism? There can be few places where this is felt more keenly than in India, with its immensely ancient and venerable traditions of religious experience and sophisticated theological reflection. How can one believe that almighty God has hidden the secret of truth for all these centuries from the great saints and scholars of India, the men and women who were composing some of the greatest religious literature in the world at a time when the tribes of western Europe were wild barbarians, and the India should have to wait three thousand years to learn the secret of eternal salvation from the descendants of these barbarians? But the scandal is certainly not peculiar to India. It was Rousseau who said that he could not understand why, if God had something to say to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, he could not say it directly but had to go through Moses to say it.
The Gospel in a Pluralist Society author: Lesslie Newbigin
The public reading of Christian books took place for the most part in assemblies for worship. Justin Martyr, describing the procedure of Christian assemblies in the middle of the second century, says: And on the day which is called the day of the sun there is an assembly of all those who live in the towns or in the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read for as long as time permits. Then the reader ceases, and the president speaks, admonishing and exhorting us to imitate these excellent examples. Then we all rise together and pray and, as we said before, when we have completed our prayer, bread is brought, and wine and water, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings according to his ability and the people assent with Amen; and there is a distribution and partaking by all of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons. And those who collected is deposited with the president, who gives aid to orphans and widows and those who are in want on account of illness or any other cause, and to those also who are in prison and to strangers from abroad, and, in a word, cares for all who are in need (Apol. 1.67).
The reading mentioned here as a vital part of weekly assembly was by that time an established and probably universal Christian liturgical custom.
title: Books and Readers in The Early Church author: Harry Y. Gamble
Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. John 21:25 (ESV)
A plausible purpose for retelling the Jesus tradition was because it comprised the foundation of the early church’s self-understanding. The Jesus tradition would have been crucial for the earliest disciples with respect to their identity formation and reason for being. Such a tradition would be needed to explain why the group existed and how it was to subsist. As Bailey notes, “Those who accepted the new rabbi as the expected Messiah would record and transmit data concerning him as the source of their new identity.” The first believers saw themselves within a meta-narrative of which they were key characters: the ekklesia, the “elect,” the “Nazarenes,” the “Israel of God,” the rebuilt temple, and they were constituted as such strictly by virtue of their relationship with Jesus the Messiah. It was inevitable that they would look back to Jesus – his life, death, and resurrection – as the epicenter of their own story. The retelling of the story of Jesus and the beginning of church potentially kept alive their vision and hope and justified their existence under adverse conditions. For a Jewish sect whose relationship to mainstream Judaism, both in Palestine and in the Diaspora, was becoming increasingly strained the Greco-Roman society, the Jesus tradition enabled Christian communities to interpret the significance of its own adverse situation by remembering the past of Jesus. In other words, the Gospels “seek to remember in order to make Christian identity in the present possible.”
An often underrated factor that undoubtedly contributed to a conserving of the Jesus tradition was the presence of eyewitnesses of Jesus within the earliest communities in the 30s-90s A.D. The role of eyewitnesses in shaping the tradition has been emphasized in recent decades by three scholars, Samuel Byrskog, Richard Bauckham, and Martin Hengel. All three have drawn attention to the presence of eyewitnesses in the early church and the importance of eyewitnesses in ancient historiography. A point validated by the observation that the only way one can affirm the Jesus tradition as both a living oral tradition that was constantly renegotiated and rehearsed anew as well as containing a stable core amid on-going performance of that tradition is through what Markus Bockmuehl says is “the (largely personal) apostolic vihicles of that stability.” title: The Gospel of The Lord by: Michael F. Bird