Category : Christology
That simple statement from 1 Timothy 1:15 has always been one of my favourite Bible verses, for a number of reasons. Pre-eminently, though, it is because it conveys the heart of the gospel. It always reminds me of the picture the Lord Jesus himself gave of the shepherd who seeks the lost sheep until he finds it, lays it on his shoulders and brings it home safely.
Whatever else you may think about the Lord coming into the world, saving sinners was his chief aim and his death on the cross was the chief means.
Those of us brought up on the Book of Common Prayer will remember that 1 Timothy 1:15 is one of those precious ‘comfortable words’ which we hear in the context of confessing our sinfulness to the Lord. For our sins, amply revealed by the Law of God, leave us with nowhere to go. And yet, the Good Shepherd finds us.
Two years ago this month Beshir Kamel went on television and thanked so-called Islamic State terrorists for not editing out the last words of his brother and the other Egyptian men they beheaded on a beach in Libya. “Lord, Jesus Christ,” were the last words of the Coptic Christians slaughtered because of their faith.
The courage and integrity of their witness strengthened Kamel’s faith. “We are proud to have this number of people from our village who have become martyrs,” he said after his brother’s murder. “Since the Roman era, Christians have been martyrs and have learned to handle everything that comes our way. This only makes us stronger in our faith, because the Bible told us to love our enemies and bless those who curse us.” He further explained that his mother is prepared to welcome any of the men involved in her son’s beheading into her house. If one of them were to visit her, she would “ask God to open his eyes, because he was the reason her son entered the kingdom of heaven.”
(The Bp of Western Sydney, Thomas Lee: SydneyAnglicans)
Bishop Lee spoke from the book of Matthew, chapters 9 and 10 about the calling of the disciples and Jesus’ famous phrase ”˜The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few’.
The bishop, who underwent treatment for cancer in the past year, recalled an incident from his university days. “I was sitting down having a chat with the Anglican chaplain…we were in the chaplaincy building looking out the window and the conversation went something like this: “Ivan, what do you see?” I looked out at the huge numbers of students going back and forth, and I said, “Uh, I don’t know, students, trying to get to their lectures on time?” And he said back to me, slowly and with great sadness in his voice, “You know what I see? All I see are hundreds and thousands of lost souls, young people who need to know about Jesus.” That one moment has had a lifelong effect on me, so that to this very day, whenever I look upon a crowd, which is pretty much every day, I see lost souls, without God in their lives.” Bishop Lee exhorted the ordinands to have the same motivation. “I’d like to say to the ordinands, if your heart is not truly broken, not grieving for lost people, then ministry will become a profession, and church growth a KPI, a key performance indicator!” Bishop Lee said. “But what really matters to Jesus, and ought to matter to us, is lost people and the spiritual need all around us.”
But notice how Jesus launches:
”¢ No big Inauguration
”¢ No bands
”¢ No fireworks
”¢ and no protestors..
Jesus begins by calling just a few”¦.into something I never want you to forget.
He calls them into FOLLOW-SHIP.
Some victims of ISIS’ eschatology get it, said Salim Munayer, head of the Musalaha reconciliation ministry in Jerusalem. Many Syrian refugees are questioning Islam and the role of religion, especially as they find Christians responding to meet their needs.
But other research shows that Christian eschatology can get in the way. Overly pro-Israel interpretations are a barrier to evangelism, conversion, and discipleship, according to one academic study of 150 Muslim converts in the Holy Land.
Muslim interest in eschatology ebbs and flows, but is currently at high tide due to the collapse of regional governments and innovative proof-texting of Islamic traditions, said Munayer. This leads to a pessimistic and fatalistic outlook that encourages apocalyptic ideology. “Some Muslims are taking refuge in end-times theology,” he said. “A tendency also found among some Christians and Jews.”
Yet regardless of how Christians interpret Revelation or read the times, Larson calls them back to the gospel’s hope. “We need to witness with assurance that faith in Jesus as the crucified, risen, and coming Messiah makes all the difference in this world,” he said. “And in the world to come.”
Born on August 20, 1946 at Igbemo-Ekiti, Ven Akinwande had his primary and secondary education in what is today known as Ekiti State. The next phase of his life took him to Lagos in 1968 but this was briefly interrupted by the necessity to prepare himself for a profession, which took him to Ibadan. After brief stints with the Federal Department of Agriculture, Moore Plantation, Ibadan; Federal Plant Quarantine Service of the Lagos Airport, Ikeja, the Nigerian Cocoa Industries Limited, Ikeja, he gained admission, by direct entry, on the scholarship of the Western Nigeria Government to the Ibadan campus of the University of Ife to study pharmacy which had, since 1962, begun under the auspices of the Ibadan branch of the old Nigerian College of Arts, Science & Technology (now defunct).
Graduating with a degree in pharmacy, awarded by the University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University) in 1972, Ven Akinwande worked as a hospital pharmacist with the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Ikeja, Falemi Pharmacy (1974/75), J.H. Morrison Jones & Sons Limited (1975/80) and SmithKline Beecham Corporation (1980/1990), before quitting to set up (in partnership with his wife Mrs Rachel Akinwande Pharmaceuticals (Nigeria) Limited.
However, in years later, he resigned from the partnership to devote his time and life to full time ministry of the Church of God. During the previous four years, he had secured admission to the Lagos Diocesan Board of Continuing Education for the Clergy (BOCEC), for training to become a priest.
“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please, not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a warm cup of milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please”
[Chuck Swindoll comments] That’s it. Our inner ”˜self’ doesn’t want to dump God entirely, just keep Him at a comfortable distance. Three dollars of Him is sufficient. A sack full, nothing more. Just enough to keep my guilt level below the threshold of pain, just enough to guarantee escape from eternal flames. But certainly not enough to make me nervous”¦to start pushing around my prejudices or nit-picking at my lifestyle. Enough is enough!”
–Charles R. Swindoll, Improving Your Serve, cited by yours truly in the sermon at the later service
About a week later I learned that, according to the psychologist and author Harriet Lerner, the wording of my apology was just what the “doctor” would have ordered. In the very first chapter of her new book, “Why Won’t You Apologize?,” Dr. Lerner points out that apologies followed by rationalizations are “never satisfying” and can even be harmful.
“When ”˜but’ is tagged on to an apology,” she wrote, it’s an excuse that counters the sincerity of the original message. The best apologies are short and don’t include explanations that can undo them….
As to why many people find it hard to offer a sincere, unfettered apology, Dr. Lerner pointed out that “humans are hard-wired for defensiveness. It’s very difficult to take direct, unequivocal responsibility for our hurtful actions. It takes a great deal of maturity to put a relationship or another person before our need to be right.”
Read it all (my emphasis).
Once upon a time, if you wanted to communicate with someone, you either spoke to them, sent them a letter (which could be delivered in either of the two postal deliveries every day!), or you phoned them. This could be from one of two places: either a phone box in the street, requiring loads of change, or the house phone in the hall””where everyone could hear you””and answered by the desired recipient’s parents, with whom you had to have an excruciatingly awkward conversation before being able to ask for the person you actually wanted to speak to. This probably sounds like the dark ages, but it was actually less than 35 years ago.’
So begins the latest Grove Youth booklet on Youth Ministry in a Digital Age by Liz Dumain, who works in the mission team in Birmingham Diocese. The booklet is a great exploration of the challenges and opportunities of reaching ”˜digital natives’, those who were born with the internet technology that many of us have been learning to adapt to. Liz begins by noting the growth of internet use, how it differs for those who have known nothing else, and why it matters.
‘The blessed Mary offered her sacrifice to God with the child, as it was appointed in God’s law. It was so appointed in the old law, by God’s command, that those who could afford it should bring a lamb of one year old with their child, as an offering to God, and a pigeon or a turtle-dove. But if any woman were so poor that she could not obtain those things, then she should bring two young pigeons or two turtle-doves.
This smaller offering was offered for Christ, that is, the birds, which were the offerings of the poor. The Almighty Son of God was very mindful of our needs in all things; not only did he choose to become man for us, though he was God, but he also chose to become needy for us, though he was mighty, so that he might give us a portion in his kingdom and communion with his divinity. A lamb betokens innocence and the greater kind of goodness; but if we are so wretched that we cannot offer to God that greater goodness, then we should bring him two turtle-doves or two young pigeons; that is, a twofold burgeoning of awe and love. A person experiences this burgeoning in two ways: first, he dreads the torments of hell, and mourns for his sins; then afterwards he feels love to God, and he begins to murmur, and it seems to him too long a time until he shall be taken from the afflictions of this life, and brought to eternal rest.’
— Eleanor Parker (@ClerkofOxford) February 2, 2017
The statement makes clear that we owe a great deal of our doctrinal, spiritual and cultural identity to the Reformation, and goes on to consider:
The enduring importance of the Reformation for evangelical Christians, as well as Christians more generally.
The core theological emphases of the Reformation, and the vital recovery of authentic gospel Christianity that they represented.
The divergences between evangelical and Roman Catholic faith and practice that are rooted in the Reformation, and which persist today.
The attempts that have been made, especially in recent decades, to promote greater understanding, convergence and common action between evangelicals and Roman Catholics.
We have no respect for a surgeon who goes in but does not cut deeply enough to cure nor a patient who backs out of an operation because it may hurt; yet people can go through their whole lives attending church, listening to searching exposures of human sin, without ever taking it to themselves, or meeting anyone with skill and concern enough to lay the challenge right in their own laps.
—Experiment of Faith (New York: Harper&Row, 1957), p.22 (emphasis mine)