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
The exclusivity of Jesus’ sonship actually becomes the means through which others may receive the life and freedom that characterizes the true “children of God.” Ultimately it will be through Jesus’ death and resurrection that others are empowered to enter into such a relationship. The command of the risen Jesus to Mary makes clear the new situation: “Jesus said to her ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and sisters and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God'” (Jn 20:17). This is the first use of “brothers and sisters” (adelphous) to refer to Jesus” disciples, and the first and only reference to God as “your Father” in a positive way (contrast 8:41, 42, 44). Still there is no reference in John to God as “our Father” in which Jesus includes the disciples together with himself in such address. The differences between the relationship of Jesus to the Father remain, but, through the life-giving work of the Son, the disciples – and others – enter into the relationship of kinship granted to them by the Son. Not surprisingly, after Jesus’ resurrection, his disciples are referred to with the familiar NT designation adelphoi (‘brothers and sisters”; 21:23), a term that plays an important role in 1 John as the basis for the call to unity and love (1 John 3:13-16). Book: The God of The Gospel of John auther: Marianne Meye Thompson
When early Christians included Jesus himself, a human being, humiliated and exalted, in the identity of God; when they told the story of Jesus, whether in summary form in Philippians 2:6-11 or in extended detail in the Fourth Gospel, as the story of God’s own human obedience, humility, degradation and death, were they not saying something radically new about the identity of God? If so we must press the question of its consistency with the known identity of the God of Israel. An important point to make in this connection is that the identity of the God of Israel does not exclude the unexpected and surprising. Quite the contrary, this is God’s freedom as God requires his freedom from all human expectations, even those based on his revealed identity. He may act in new and surprising ways, in which he proves to be the same God, consistent with his known identity, but in unexpected ways. He is both free and faithful. He is not capricious, but nor is he predictable. He may be trusted to be consistent with himself, but he may surprise in the ways he proves consistent with himself. The consistency can only be appreciated with hindsight.
Nehemiah 9:6 (ESV) “You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
For this understanding of the unique divine identity, the unique sovereignty of God was not a mere ‘function’ which God could delegate to someone else. It was one of the key identifying characteristics of the unique divine identity, which distinguished the one God from all other reality. The unique divine sovereignty is a matter of who God is. Jesus’ participation in the unique divine sovereignty is, therefore, also not just a matter of what Jesus does, but of who Jesus is in relation to God. Though not primarily a matter of divine nature or being, it emphatically is a matter of divine identity. It includes Jesus in the identity of the one God. When extended to include Jesus in the creative activity of God, and therefore also in the eternal transcendence of God, it becomes unequivocally a matter of regarding Jesus as intrinsic to the unique identity of God. Jesus and the God of Israel by: Richard Bauckham