Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Royal Claim of the King to David's Throne



In this first sermon through the Gospel According to St. Matthew we examined what the title "Christ" or "Messiah" means.  We also showed through looking at Jesus' genealogical table—through the royal line of descent from David's throne—that Jesus was qualified to sit on David's throne as Messiah.

On a personal note, and with no disrespect intended, I almost could wonder if the words of Jesus could be used in my context for preaching through St. Matthew:
 "For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world--to bear witness to the truth." (John 18:37b ESV)
Even so, Maranatha.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

When You Can't Baptize by Immersion

As an ordained minister of the Church of God (Anderson) I believe baptism by immersion was the normal practice of the early Church.  The issues are complex; I am a credobaptist as well, not a paedobaptist.  (Look those up if you care.)  

However, what happens if baptism by immersion ("dunking" for the non-technical folks) is not feasible?  What if a person is gravely ill?  Should an immersionist like myself just shrug his shoulders and say, "Well, baptism doesn't save a person anyway so I won't do it"?  I believe baptism is important; King Jesus demanded it of his followers.  While there are times when immersion is impossible some occasions present themselves where a compromise can be reached.

There is an impressive ancient document from early Church history called the Didache, which is Greek for "teaching."  While scholars debate the age they all arrive at an extremely early dating for the manuscript, from the mid-first century to the early second-century.  In fact, even though consensus did not grow to include it as part of Bible canon (as one of the authorized books of the New Testament) some early Church Fathers did believe it was inspired Scripture.  I don't think it is Scripture but its importance would be hard to be overstressed.

The Didache has a section on baptism.  It reads as follows:
7 Now about baptism: this is how to baptize. Give public instruction on all these points, and then "baptize" in running water, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  2If you do not have running water, baptize in some other.  3If you cannot in cold, then in warm. If you have neither, then pour water on the head three times "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."  4Before the baptism, moreover, the one who baptizes and the one being baptized must fast, and any others who can. And you must tell the one being baptized to fast for one or two days beforehand.
This certainly is interesting.  It appears to me that this manuscript hints that the early Church baptized by immersion (or at the least they stood in a considerable amount of running [Greek: "living"] water).  Notice, however, that the produced document isn't legalistic about the mode of baptism.  It says, "Do A, but if you can't then do B, but if you can't then..."

If a person becomes a Christian in a hospital, on his sickbed, etc. and is in grave illness then I advise the immersionist minister to wrap a towel around the convert's neck and pour water on the new believer's head three times, "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."

Yes, the mode of baptism is important but it is not as important as the act of doing it, and the mode is far less problematic than a minister refusing to perform baptism if he can't do it in his theologically preferred way.  It appears the early Church was flexible.  I pray immersionists like me will be flexible as well.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Evangelism: One Purpose of the Church



Evangelism simply means to share the Gospel (good news) of Jesus with another person with a desire for the other person to accept the message. It is the responsibility of each local church (and each Christian within that church) to tell others of God's revealed way to a relationship with him.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Worship: One Purpose of the Church



When we think of worship, we tend to think of singing although worship is exalting God through any activity.  In the sermon we examined what the Bible says about believers singing to God.  We also waded deeply into the "Worship Wars" that have plagued many churches to show the difference between biblical mandate verses personal preference.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Advent Season of Christmas

We're getting ready for Advent Season which begins November 30th in 2014. We light the first Advent wreath candle Sunday morning, "The Candle of Hope." (BTW, the word "advent" means the anticipated arrival of a special person. In this case, we eagerly anticipate the past arrival of Christ's birth in Bethlehem, the City of David, which we commemorate each year on December 25th.) 

There will be a Second Advent, a Second Coming, when Christ arrives abruptly for the Day of Resurrection and Judgment to end our human/universal timeline as we know it currently and usher in heaven/hell for all. This present universe will be destroyed/renewed with fire for the Present Age must give way to the Age to Come in which sin will be banished and righteousness will reign.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Getting the Apocalypse Right

I've noticed a big increase in pop culture with the word "apocalypse" to describe worldwide destruction. Technically speaking, apocalypse is an English transliteration of the Greek ἀποκάλυψις which means "unveiling." It is translated in our English Bibles as "revelation." 

In the last book of the New Testament it is the unveiling of Christ as Lord in the midst of the unveiling of events occurring to the seven churches in first century Asia Minor and a look to the future when, in the words of Paul, faith becomes sight.

So, apocalypse in the biblical sense doesn't mean an "end of the world" scenario.  It is the revelation of Christ in the midst of things that have already come and things still yet in the future of God's salvation history.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Ministry: One Purpose of the Church



In the New Testament "minister" means "servant."  There is no division between clergy and laity in the case of ministry because every Christian is a minister who does acts of service.  We examined the biblical evidence on this important purpose of the Church.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Peanuts | Official Trailer [HD] | FOX Family



I've said it before and I'll say it again: if they mess up the movie this world will be dead to me, Man.  Dead.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Prayer: One Purpose of the Church



A prayerless church probably will be a powerless church.  Each Christian and congregation must seek the face of God for his presence, power, provision and peace.