Generosity, Church, and Justice
Christians believe that poverty relief has to be always voluntary, never “mandated” by the church, as we have seen, it was not an altruistic option but a mandatory obligation of the faithful by virtue of the gospel message and Christian identity. The works of charity alms giving, sharing, hospitality, care taking of the poor, the afflicted, and the helpless—were not supererogatory “add-ons” but the works of justice and equity grounded in koinonia of God’s creation and imago Dei. Without them Christians could not claim their spiritual security and maturity in Christ but could incur the eschatological judgment of God due to their failure to love their neighbors. Protestants would have some uneasiness about linking ultimate salvation with “doing good” in any way as though it would undermine “salvation by grace through faith alone.” Yet this dichotomous grid is no longer helpful or sound; grace is opposed to the attitude of earning, not the action of doing good. “Doing good” is always part and parcel of salvation, which is God’s gracious, unconditioned gift, and which we are to work out with fear and trembling willed and enabled by God and already living in but also looking forward to his kingdom (see Phil. 2:12). Again, there are different options among the specific kinds and ways of works of charity and justice that Christian communities may choose, but the ecclesial duty to engage in such works seems nonnegotiable.
Book: Loving the Poor, Saving the Rich
author: Helen Rhee
This is why the apostles not only framed Christian faith in doctrinal terms but called for its preservation and protection in this form. There is no Christian faith in the absence of “sound doctrine” (1Tim. 1:10; Tit. 1:9), “sound instruction” (1Tim. 6:3), or the “pattern of sound teaching” (2 Tim. 1:13-14). It is this doctrine, or, more precisely, the truth it contains and expresses, that was “taught’ by the apostles and “delivered” to the Church. Is this message that is our only ground for hope (Tit. 1:9) and salvation (1 Cor. 15:2; 1 Pet. 1:23-25). Without it, we have neither the Father nor the Son (2 John 9). Indeed, Paul says that we can grow in Christ only if we stay within this doctrinal framework, for its truth provides the means of our growth (Col. 2:6). It is no wonder that Christians are urged no to depart from the apostolic teaching they received “ in the beginning” (John 2:7,24,26, 3:11) or from what they had heard (Heb. 2:1), for it is the “faith once for all entrusted to the saints” (Jude 3). Nor should we be amazed to read of Paul’s admonition to Timothy that it is only by adhering to this “good teaching” that he will become a “good minister of Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 4:6). For all of these reasons, the apostles instructed believers to guard” this faith (2 Tim. 1:13-14; 4:3; cf. Tit. 1:9; Gal. 1:9), defend it (Jude 3), “stand firm” in it, not to “drift” from it, to become “established” in it, and to transmit it intact to succeeding generations.
Book: NO PLACE FOR TRUTH
author: David F. Wells
Christ in the Old Testament, the Son of God himself.
Wisdom and the King
The OT witness to Christ is as rich and varied as are all of the functions he performs. When evangelicals talk about Christ in the Old Testament, they tend to look for images, patterns, or outright anticipations of Christ’s work of substitutionary atonement. Of course, Christ’s work as once-and-for-all sacrifice is central to the Christian hope for salvation, but it only gets at part of the distinct and lordly character and work of the Son of God himself.
In fact, the New Testament claims that Christ fulfills the Old Testament in many ways. Just to name a few, Christ is:
Old Testament covenant Lord (John 8:58; see also kurios as title for Christ)
Sovereign eschatological king (Rev. 21:22)
Key actor in creation (John 1:1-5 [Genesis 1])
True Israel (Matt. 2:15 [Hos 11:1]; John 15:1-17)
The temple of God (John 2:19-21)
Restorer from exile (Matt 3:3 [Isa. 40:3; Mar 1:3; Luke 3:4; John 1:23])
Final and authoritative prophet (Heb 1:2)
Heir to the world (Heb 1:2; Ps 2:8)
Sustainer of his people in wilderness (1 Cor 10:4 [Exod. 17:6])
Foundation of human salvation (Acts 4:11 [Ps. 118:22])
Wisdom teacher par excellence (Matt 12:42 [Luke 11:31])
The very wisdom of God
(1 Cor 1:23)
Jesus is both the wise king and the king of wisdom, the sage “greater than Solomon”
by: Scott Redd
#2 Frogs (8:1-15)
We have not seen the last of the Nile and its canals and pools. They appear in the second sign and wonder episode as the source of the frogs that penetrate every corner of the land. The verbal form of “plague” appears here (v.2) uniquely, among the nine signs-and-wonders. Usually reserved for deadly afflictions, it is not quite appropriate for the infestation of frogs. Perhaps it is here to give the frogs the status of a warning, anticipating the truly mortal affliction- the slaying of the first born, where, as already noted, “plague” appears several times. Otherwise, the vivid language reveals how intimately the frogs will affect everyone: they will be in the homes of all, even in their beds and food. The narrative indicates the totality of Egyptians involved by listing three elements of the population-pharaoh, the officials, and the people. This list, which reflects the hierarchical structure of Egyptian society, will recur frequently-nine times in all-in the narrative of nine signs-and-wonders.
As they do with bloody waters, the Egyptian magicians replicate this feat. Yet the pharaoh, whose voice we finally hear, offers conditional release-if the scourge of frogs be lifted. The request goes not to his own magicians but to Moses and Aaron, who are asked to pray (Hebrew “plead”) to Yahweh to remove the frogs. For the first time the pharaoh seems to acknowledge the existence of Yahweh. Could it be that he is becoming aware of the greater power of the Israelite god and that he is beginning to understand that there is “no one like the Lord our God” (8:10)? Or is his request a subterfuge, meant simply to rid Egypt of this affliction? These tantalizing possibilities emerge but are unanswered. In any case, the disappearance of the frogs, like their arrival, fails to bring the desired result.
by: Carol Meyers
GOD AND CONSCIENCE
A theology of conscience will make extensive use of first order Christian language about God, Christ, Spirit, sin, justification, sanctification, church and so forth, for only within the encompassing framework supplied by such language, and by the spiritual, dogmatic and moral culture which it bears, will reflection on conscience attain to a Christian determinacy.
A sign of the times that, in order to undertake an account of conscience in frankly theological terms, we can no longer proceed with the cheerful sense that our presuppositions are already established; we must instead painfully and doggedly nail each one of them in place, and only in this way win our freedom from the axioms of an intellectual culture which threaten to subvert our task. And so, in conscience we do mot relate to some Other, but to God and Father of our Lord Jesus, to the Spirit of the living God.
By: John Webster
The Worship of Jesus
Many times Christians will explain the deity of Christ regarding worship by appealing to those few verses in which the word “worship” (Greek proskuneo) is attributed to Jesus (VERSES). However, another way to approach the subject is to look at how the early church assumed that worship of Jesus was an ordinary part of Christian life, and that worship was the kind of worship due to the one true God alone.
First, Christians are defined in 1 Corinthians 1:2 as “those who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This phrase indicates prayer to Jesus was a normal practice in the early Christian Church. It must be remembered that to call on the name of the Lord was a regular Old Testament formula for worship and prayer offered to God (Gen. 4:26; 13:4; Ps. 105:1; Jer. 10:25; Joel 2:32).
Pliny, a Roman historian who wrote about A.D. 115 said Christians sang songs to Christ as God.
Paul reproduces the Aramaic formula, “Maranatha,” or “Our Lord, Come,” in 1 Corinthians 16:22. This one Aramaic phrase was evidently familiar to the Greek- speaking Corinthian Christians, indicating that the phrase had a long and sacred usage most likely dating from the early days of the Jerusalem Church.
In Acts 7 Stephen called on Jesus as he was being stoned to death for his faith. Paul in Romans 10:9-10 indicates what early Christians thought about Jesus. Christians’ worship can be shown by the fact that they were baptized into Christ (Rom. 6:3; Gal. 3:27).
A very important part of worship was the Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 10:21; 11:20). The churches were called “the churches of Christ” (Rom. 16:16). What does Paul mean when he says the phrase “in Christ”? It at least means to put your faith in Christ, the one to whom the Christian owes his spiritual life (John 11:25; John 14:6; John 3:24; 6:40, 51).
The New Testament Church and its immediate successors undoubtedly understood, believed, and practiced as though Jesus Christ was the only true God, worthy of and entitled to the absolute spiritual worship of all believers.
The Road to Emmaus
And behold, two of them were going that very day to a village named Emmaus, which was about seven miles from Jerusalem. And they were talking with each other about all these things which had taken place. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus Himself approached and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. And He said to them, “What are these words that you are exchanging with one another as you are walking?” And they stood still, looking sad. One of them, named Cleopas, answered and said to Him, “Are You the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?” And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to the sentence of death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel. Indeed, besides all this, it is the third day since these things happened. But also some women among us amazed us. When they were at the tomb early in the morning, and did not find His body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that He was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just exactly as the women also had said; but Him they did not see.” And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.
The remarkable thing is that we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our ATTITUDES!”
by Charles Swindoll