BE REAL

Chapter 15

Good Monday Morning to this week 15 of 2021

St. Ignatius of Antioch 35 – 107

As the second (or third) bishop of Antioch, one of the most important churches of the day, he was certainly one of the most prominent Christians of the time immediately succeeding the apostles. 

Ignatius was overseer (bishop) of the Christians in Antioch in Syria during one of the persecutions that broke out while Trajan was emperor. When Ignatius was arrested, he refused to acknowledge the official gods and, not being a Roman citizen, was sentenced to die in the amphitheater in Rome. The soldiers with whom he traveled to Rome allowed him to visit some of the Christian communities along the way.

St Ignatius of Antioch has some very practical tips for our daily walk in faith.
A few of my favorites:

Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas, but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ. 

It is better to be silent and be real than to talk and not be real.

Take heed often to come together to give thanks to God and show forth His praise. For when you assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith.

Do everything as if He were dwelling in us. Thus we shall be His temples and He will be within us as our God – as He actually is.

A Christian is not his own master, since all his time belongs to God.

It is not that I want merely to be called a Christian, but actually to be one. Yes, if I prove to be one, then I can have the name.

Let no man’s place, or dignity, or riches, puff him up; and let no man’s low condition or poverty abase him. For the chief points are faith towards God, hope towards Christ, the enjoyment of those good things for which we look, and love towards God and our neighbor.

Pray without ceasing on behalf of other men…For cannot he that falls rise again?

Pray as if God will take care of all; act as if all is up to you.

Wishing you a good, practical start to this new week!

Philemon


Atonement

Chapter 14

Good Monday Morning to this week 14 of 2021

It’s the combination of “at one,” as in, “to be in harmony with”. You are at “at one” with God, you atone. The atonement then is “man’s reconciliation with God through the sacrificial death of Christ.”

How and why is this achieved?

Andrew Springer lays out 5 views in an article he published shortly before Easter. It would be great to also hear some views of Asia or the Africa. (I still regret leaving my book in a Rwandan Air flight “Theology Brewed in an African Pot”.)

1 — The Ancient View: Christ as Ransom

For the first thousand years of Christianity, most Christians believed that Christ was a ransom that was paid to Satan in exchange for releasing humans from the bondage of sin. Jesus himself said “Just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” That dualism is what concerns most critics of the ransom theory. One writer called that dualism dangerous because “among other things, [it] threatens the very sovereignty of God.” Basically, in some respects, it makes Satan equal to God.

2 — The Medieval View: Christ as Substitute

In this theory, it is God’s honor that is offended by our sin. And that offense cannot go unanswered, God’s honor must be restored. But man, being so much less than God, can never restore that honor on his own. “The debt is total, the obligation to pay it, total, the power to pay it, zero.” The answer then is found in the sacrifice of Christ: fully human, he can atone for man, fully God, he can restore God’s honor. This is Substitutionary Atonement.At about the same time Anselm was crystalizing his theory that God demands satisfaction, the feudal system was emerging in Europe in the late middle ages. 

3 — The Reformed View: Christ Receives Your Punishment

“The Father, because of his love for human beings, sent his Son (who offered himself willingly and and gladly) to satisfy God’s justice, so that Christ took the place of sinners. The punishment and penalty we deserved was laid on Jesus Christ instead of us, so that in the cross both God’s holiness and love are manifested.”This is called the Penal Substitutionary theory of atonement. “In Christ as Ransom theory, punishment is averted. In penal substitution, punishment is absorbed.”

4 — The Ethical View: Christ as an Example

The work of Christ chiefly consists of demonstrating to the world the amazing depth of God’s love of sinful humanity… There is nothing inherent in God that must be appeased before he is willing to forgive humanity. The problem lies in the sinful, hardened human heart, with its fear and ignorance of God… Through the incarnation and death of Jesus Christ, the love of God shines like a beacon, beckoning humanity to come and fellowship. Critics of moral influence atonement argue that at its best it doesn’t sound like atonement at all, and at its worst, dangerously veers into the ancient heresy , those who argued that Christians could be saved by their good works without divine help. But more generally, critics say moral influence theology doesn’t answer the question, “what do we need saved from?”

5 — The Battlefield View: Christ as Victor

Christus victor means “Christ as conquerer” or “Christ as victor,”. In a large way, Aulén reinterpreted our first theory of atonement, the ransom theory. The dualism demonstrated in that theory returns. The earth and heaven are locked in a cosmic struggle between good (God) and evil (Satan). Christ was sent to battle with and triumph over the elements of darkness in his kingdom. All of us are standing in the middle of a cosmic war zone. This view of atonement lies in sharp contrast to other views by its emphasis on the cosmic significance of Christ over the significance of personal salvation. “We are reconciled because the cosmos (all of creation) has been reconciled. Because the rebel powers have been put in their place, we can be presented ‘holy and blameless’ before God.” supporters point to many motifs found in various passages throughout the New Testament, like the power of Satan and his demonic hosts and our slavery to sin. Not to mention literally the entire book of Revelation, which casts the end times as the ultimate and final battle between good and evil.

To be fair, most, if not all, of these theories tend to crumble when pressed too hard. No theory of atonement seems complete or absolutely correct, at least to human understanding. 

As we ponder these five views and theories of atonement, there are many more, this Easter of 2021 we are in awe of the power of the cross and the atoning work of Christ. Because despite of, or in fact because of, its mystery, this debate, and these endless questions, people still find the answer as they have for two thousand years—in Jesus.

I wish you a blessed Monday Morning as you contemplate these thoughts!

Philemon

Revolution of Easter

Chapter 13

Good Monday Morning to this week 13 of 2021

“The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.”  N. T. Wright

a few more thoughts of the book “Surprised by Hope”

Let’s go back to the ancient Jewish expectation, which is rooted in Daniel and in the Psalms and Isaiah, that one day God Himself would come back and would overthrow the powers that have been running the world.

This is the great revolution, which like revolutions of our own day, is all about people who have been chafing under alien rule and feel their lives being squashed and crushed when they suddenly find that someone has done something to overthrow the tyrant.

That is precisely what happened when Jesus died on the cross. The “revolution” was secret for two and half days because it was only with Jesus’ resurrection that anyone could look back at His cross and say, “He’s defeated sin so the power of sin, the power of evil, has been overthrown.”

Easter a genuinely revolutionary movement that happened.

Easter commands us to think about a non-corruptible physicality, about a physical world that isn’t subject to decay and death anymore.

How about another angle to celebrating Easter? We could do in creative new ways: in art, literature, children’s games, poetry, music, dance, festivals, bells, special concerts, anything that comes to mind. This is our greatest festival. Take Christmas away, and in biblical terms you lose two chapters at the front of Matthew and Luke, nothing else. Take Easter away, and you don’t have a New Testament; you don’t have a Christianity; as Paul says, you are still in your sins…

…if Lent is a time to give things up, Easter ought to be a time to take things up. Christian holiness was never meant to be merely negative…. The forty days of the Easter season, until the ascension, ought to be a time to balance out Lent by taking something up, some new task or venture, something wholesome and fruitful and outgoing and self-giving. But if you really make a start on it, it might give you a sniff of new possibilities, new hopes, new ventures you never dreamed of. It might bring something of Easter into your innermost life. It might help you wake up in a whole new way. And that’s what Easter is all about.”

Wishing you a blessed start into this new week!

Philemon

Omnis Sciptura divinitus inspirata

Chapter 12

Good Monday Morning to this week 12 of 2021

Omnis Scriptura divinitus inspirata ….

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. 2. Timothy 3.16

A few thoughts from Peter Enns : The Bible Tells Me So

If your dominant vision of God is of a sovereign king, enthroned above, who communicates to his subjects through written decrees mediated to inspired men borne along by God’s spirit to insure the accuracy of the divine oracles, you will likely describe the Bible as necessarily: historically accurate, logically consistant, self-evidently divine, inerrant, fully and absolutely authoritative in all it teaches.

Passages, such as 2 Tim 3:16, are elevated as a super-authoritative standard that trumps any alleged “evidence” to the contrary.

Perhaps it is not the view of God that yields the expectation of Scripture, but the need for a certain type of Scripture that yields a particular view of God.

Ot maybe a little of both?

Either way, our view of God and our view of the Bible go hand in hand—paying attention to the one will always tell us something about the other.

The Bible presents a variety of points of view about God and what it means to walk in his ways. This stands to reason, since the biblical writers lived at different times, in different places, and wrote for different reasons. In reading the Bible we are watching the spiritual journeys of people long ago. Jesus, like other Jews of the first century, read his Bible creatively, seeking deeper meaning that transcended or simply bypassed the boundaries of the words of scripture. Where Jesus ran afoul of the official interpreters of the Bible of his day was not in his creative handling of the Bible, but in drawing attention to his own authority and status in doing so. A crucified and resurrected messiah was a surprise ending to Israel’s story.

This is the Bible we have, the Bible where God meets us. Not a book kept at a safe distance from the human drama. Not a fragile Bible that has to be handled with care lest it crumble in our hands. Not a book that has to be defended 24/7 to make sure our faith doesn’t dissolve. In other words, not an artificially well-behaved Bible that gives false comfort, but the Holy Bible, the Word of God, with wrinkles, complexities, unexpected maneuvers, and downright strangeness. This is the Bible God has given his people. This Bible is worth reading and paying attention to, because this is the Bible God uses, as he always has, to point its readers to a deeper trust in him.

We are free to walk away from this invitation, of course, but we are not free to make a Bible in our own image. What the Bible looks like is God’s call, not ours.

Wishing you a creative handling of your spiritual journey this week.

Philemon

When the Kindness appeared

Chapter 11

Good Monday Morning to this week 11 of 2021

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared Titus 3.4 following to 7

The power source is the transforming love of three in one God announced in the gospel.
Apostle Paul wrote a very beautiful poem to help us UNDERSTAND IT.

****************
When the KINDNESS and LOVE

of GOD our Savior appeared,

He SAVED US

Not because of our right behavior,

But because of His mercy

We were saved through the WASHING

of REBIRTH and RENEWAL

Through the HOLY SPIRIT,

Whom God poured out on us through

JESUS  the Messiah, Our Saviour.

And so we are DECLARED RIGHTEOUS

By His G R A C E

And become heirs

of the HOPE of ETERNAL LIFE

*****************

Wishing you week filled with the kindness and love
of God!

Philemon

Justified Equality

Chapter 10

Good Monday Morning to this week 10 of 2021

But above a servant, a brother beloved. Philemon 1.16

Philemon is a one page letter, the shortest book of the Bible.

Onesimus is a metaphor for us all.

This letter mainly concerns a slave named Onesimus who belonged to
Philemon and, at one time, had been rather useless; but after being with Paul and
receiving the gospel, was changed and became useful.

Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. Forgive as the Lord forgave.

Christianity is a faith which erases ethnicity, social distinctions, employment status, etc. All are equal in Christ and must be treated as brothers and sisters.

Christ forgave us everything, and welcomed us in as equal brothers and sisters we are one in Jesus.

So this onus is for us, now that we are all “useful”.

The power of the gospel will and can transform a person from useless into useful, from someone with a slave mentality to a son and daughter, to a brother and sister in the family of God. Christ alone can work these holy transformations, changing a temporal servitude into an eternal brotherhood

And that, my friends, is why this little “book” is such an important part of our Bible.

Wishing you a good start to this week in this concept of justified equality.

Philemon

Hide in His faithfulness

Chapter 9

Good Monday Morning to this week 9 of 2021

How does one find and write about “only one” verse to write about in Hebrews? There is so much wisdom shown in and through this book.

And now we have run into his heart to hide ourselves in his faithfulness. This is where we find his strength and comfort, for he empowers us to seize what has already been established ahead of time—an unshakeable hope! 19 We have this certain hope like a strong, unbreakable anchor holding our souls to God himself. Our anchor of hope is fastened to the mercy seat Hebrews 6. 18-19 TPT

The consolation (comfort after loss, disappointment or distress), received from God, is strong enough to support us, His people, under their heaviest trials. Here is a refuge for all who flee to the mercy of God according to the covenant of grace, laying aside all other confidences.

Though we be as ship at sea, tossed up and down and in danger of being cast away, we need an anchor to keep us sure and steady. First we experience his consolation as we hide in his faithfulness. Out of this place of protection, tent of his faithfulness we find, this certain hope, strong and unbreakable, as an anchor in the storms of this time empowering us to seize what is promised and lies ahead of us.

Wishing a very good start to this week!

Philemon

Sown in peace

Chapter 8

Good Monday Morning to this week 8 of 2021

Today from the book of James

The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:18

St Mary’s Catholic Church in Umbarger, Texas, was an unlikely place for an international work of art. But toward the end of World War II, seven Italian prisoners of war, who were being held at a large camp nearby, were chosen to help decorate the church’s plain brick walls.

The prisoners were reluctant to aid their captors, but they agreed on the condition that their efforts be considered a contribution toward Christian brotherhood and understanding. But as they worked on their paintings and a woodcarving of the Last Supper, one of the POWs later recalled, “A spontaneous stream of good feelings began almost at once to flow among us.” No one spoke of the war or the past because “we were here for a work of peace and love.”

Our lives are filled with unlikely settings for introducing God’s peace. We can feel imprisoned by hard feelings, strained relationships, and confining circumstances. But peace has the power to break out anywhere. James reminded us that “the wisdom that is from above is . . . peaceable, gentle, willing to yield . . . . The fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18

The best peacemakers are those who know the peace of God.

Wherever we are today, ask God to use you as His peacemaker.

Wishing a good start to this new week!

Philemon

Peace within

Chapter 7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1. Peter 5.7

Good Monday Morning to this week 7 of 2021

There is no question that we live in a high-pressured time, we have responsibilities, personal expectations, work, family and alongside many personal goals. The further and the longer this pandemic goes on, the more anxiety is around, not knowing of how the illness or the consequences will change us or augment anxiety. Often anxiety can be like an inner pressure-cooker.

King Solomon wrote: “Anxiety in the heart of a person causes dejection, but a good word will turn it into joy.” The Hebrew word and thinking we find for dejection – “yashchenah”, has three different meanings, depending on how the word is read. It can mean:

1. to suppress.
2. to ignore.
3. to articulate.

A first level – Suppression

Suppression can be necessary in terms of both ourselves, and of the situation. Very often we become so obsessed with a situation that we forget that there are other important and issues. Recognizing this can lessen its intensity. The problem may still be there, but it has been cut down to size and no longer threatens to crush us. This all in regard to anxiety.

Another level – Disassociating

Ignoring like in separating ourselves from it, disassociating from it. The lesson here is that the mind is never empty. According to the laws of physics, nature abhors a vacuum, and emptiness is going to attract something. Therefore we remove ourselves from the negative by ignoring it, separating ourselves from it, and embracing “the God” perspective

A third level – Articulating

Is this where Peter comes in? Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you!

“If there is anxiety in the heart of a person, articulate it, speak about it, and a good word will bring joy. We need to have people in our lives who we respect and to whom we turn for advice. In the Torah the idea has often been advocated, of having someone to speak with, finding a counselor, someone with whom you can speak and who can help give you guidance. When we speak about something, we bring it out into the open and in Peter’s words we bring it to the Creator.

He who best can do something about it. With renewed strength and perspective we walk through anxiety.

In Psalm 55.22 it says, “cast your burdens/anxiety upon the Lord, he shall sustain thee!

Wishing you peace within!

Philemon

God’s time is Patience

Chapter 6

Good Monday Morning to this week 6 of 2021

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3.9

Peter continues to answer the mocking of the false teachers. They ask, “Where is this coming Jesus promised?” They teach that it’s been too long, He is not coming. The first reminder was to remember that God is not bound to human time. For God, a thousand years is like a day and vice versa. God is not subjected to our limitations of time, or even our confusion about it, or the way we get stressed about it.

Peter insists that this implies in a equal way, as to the question of time, it implies to his promises. God is not slow in keeping His promises, He the one who set the schedule. He cannot be “late.” nor ahead of time. Instead, God keeps these His promised, every promise at His, God’s time.

For us this feeling of being delayed, can mean the opposite, it is a witness of God’s patience not his tardiness. In His love-driven patience, God is willing to give more time for the fulfillment of the promises and the enfolding of His coming Kingdom. In the heart of God is that none be lost, not even “one of the 100 sheep” as in another parabol. In His sovereignty and power God decided not to demand by force. Peter shares and show us this exactly, God’s heart for his people. Mercifully God is creating more space and time for the fulfillment of His promises.

This thought fills me with hope, it’s not just God’s patience, but His time creating more space for the fulfillment of His promises!

Wishing you a good start to this new week!

Philemon