Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Grave Can't Hold Me


Per the Nicene Creed:

We look for the resurrection of the dead

Per the Holy Bible:

But tell me this—since we preach that Christ rose from the dead, why are some of you saying there will be no resurrection of the dead? For if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, then all our preaching is useless, and your faith is useless. And we apostles would all be lying about God—for we have said that God raised Christ from the grave. But that can’t be true if there is no resurrection of the dead. And if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then your faith is useless and you are still guilty of your sins. In that case, all who have died believing in Christ are lost! And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.

But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died.

So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back.

1 Corinthians 15:12-23 (NLT)

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Truth is...the most audacious claim of Christianity is also the most important. Paul has said it well. If there is no resurrection...if death is the final chapter...then Jesus was either a well-meaning teacher who was suffering from a major delusion, or the foulest fiend the planet has ever seen.

Next week...the final phrase from the Nicene Creed, and it's about our final outcome.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

One Baptism


Per the Nicene Creed:

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins

Per the Holy Bible:

After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him.

Matthew 3:16 (NLT)

Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit."

John 3:5

Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Acts 2:38

As they rode along, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look! There’s some water! Why can’t I be baptized?” He ordered the carriage to stop, and they went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away. The eunuch never saw him again but went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:36-39

There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Ephesians 4:5

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Truth is...we mortals have managed to turn this simple, Scriptural imperative into a multi-faceted controversy. However, reading Scripture at a basic, no-twisting-required level, we can agree with those fine folks in Nicaea back in 325 A.D. that a baptism that gives witness to a person's faith, repentance, and submission to Christ is an expected part of a Christian's journey.

A quote from one of my sermons of long ago:

You may say to me, "I've loved Jesus for over 20 years. You're telling me I have to be baptized?" And I may say to you, "You've loved Jesus for over 20 years and you're telling me you haven't been baptized?"

Grace and peace to you.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

One Church


Per the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one holy, universal, and apostolic Church

Per the Holy Bible:

The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ. Some of us are Jews, some are Gentiles, some are slaves, and some are free. But we have all been baptized into one body by one Spirit, and we all share the same Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NLT)

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

Ephesians 2:19-22

Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.

Ephesians 4:11-16

With all these things in mind, dear brothers and sisters, stand firm and keep a strong grip on the teaching we passed on to you both in person and by letter.

2 Thessalonians 2:15

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Contrary to the signs outside all the church buildings around the world that proclaim different denominational names and conferences and traditions, there is only one Church, and it spans all man-made distinctions and trivial divisions. Christ is the head of this one Church, which is comprised of all persons who have been joined to him through faith. The Church is not limited to any particular time, place, ethnic group, language, religious heritage, denomination, or institution.

As for the word "apostolic"? It comes from the Greek word for people who are sent on a mission (apostello). As Christ was sent into the world, he has sent his followers into the world (John 17). The Church is apostolic not only because we are sent on a mission, but because the teachings of the first apostles  -  those called and sent by Jesus himself  -  are authoritative for the Church. The New Testament Scriptures have apostolic authority and are God-breathed.

Truth is...No matter what side discussions and opinions about controversial subjects may seek to divide us, the Church stands united by the Love of the Father, the Lordship of Jesus, and the Leading of the Holy Spirit. The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

The Spirit Has Spoken


Per the Nicene Creed:

[The Holy Spirit] has spoken through the prophets.

Per the Holy Bible:

"In the last days," God says, "I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your young men will see visions, and your old men will dream dreams. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants — men and women alike — and they will prophesy."

Acts 2:17-18 (NLT)

Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

2 Peter 1:20-21

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Truth is..."All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right." (2 Timothy 3:16) A more literal translation for "inspired by God" is "God-breathed". Put that together with the knowledge that the Hebrew word for breath and spirit is the same, and you've got a picture of how it is that the Holy Spirit has spoken through the prophets, in both the Old and New Testaments.

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Praise the Spirit, Too


Per the Nicene Creed:

With the Father and the Son, [the Holy Spirit] is worshipped and glorified

Per the Holy Bible:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Peter 1:3 (NLT)

Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

Matthew 14:33

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.

1 John 3:24

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Truth is...because the Holy Spirit is just as much God as the Father and the Son, He deserves our worship just as much. It may feel a little strange for those brought up in more conservative circles...or certainly so for those raised with no spiritual background at all, but the Spirit provides our most intimate contact with God. It is only "natural" that we worship Him through song, meditation, and obedience.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Where Did the Holy Spirit Come From?


Per the Nicene Creed:

[The Holy Spirit] proceeds from the Father and the Son.

Per the Holy Bible:

But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me.

John 15:26

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Truth is...It seems reasonable to me to believe that humans have not invented the Holy Spirit and that He is a real aspect of the Triune God. I mean, why would anyone make up something as hard to understand as this?

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

A Body Without a Spirit Is a Corpse


Per the Nicene Creed:

[One name for the Holy Spirit is] the Giver of Life

Shedding Graveclothes

Per the Holy Bible:

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you. He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

John 14:16-17 (NLT)

And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.

Romans 8:2

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.

Romans 8:11

Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.

Galatians 6:8

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Truth is...Without the Holy Spirit, we couldn't experience any kind of "Christian life" whatsoever. Moral, upstanding citizens? Sure. But what made Jesus exceptional and unique was his unswerving dependence on the leading of the Spirit and entrusting himself to that leading...even to the point of death. Our efforts at being little Christs (Christians) will only be exceptional and unique if we do the same.