Category : Soteriology

(Gafcon) Archbp Peter Jensen: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners

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.

Read it all.

Posted in Australia, Christology, GAFCON, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Kendall Harmon's Sunday Sermon–How do we live into God's call to mission (Matthew 9:35-38)?

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

(Christ/St. Paul’s Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Globalization, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

Bishop Thomas Lee challenges ordinands in the Cathedral in Sydney

(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.”

Read it all and you may find the Cathedral website there.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Christology, Ministry of the Ordained, Missions, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology

Kendall Harmon's Sunday Sermon–the heart of the Christian life of light+salt (1 Cor. 2:2)

You can listen directly there and download the mp3 there.

(Christ/St. Paul’s Church Yonges Island SC; photo by Jacob Borrett)

Posted in * By Kendall, * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Sermons & Teachings, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Sunday Food For Thought–"“I would like to buy $3 worth of God, please…"

“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

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Christology, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Scripture

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–Can the gospel reach digital natives?

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.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Christology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Science & Technology, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

The Evangelical Alliance–Evangelicals and the Reformation – 500 years on

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.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(1st Things) Peter Hitchens: The Fantasy of Addiction

It was the triumph of the Christian religion that for many centuries it managed to become the unreasoning assumption of almost all, built into every spoken and written word, every song, and every building. It was the disaster of the Christian religion that it assumed this triumph would last forever and outlast everything, and so it was ill equipped to resist the challenge of a rival when it came, in this, the century of the self. The Christian religion had no idea that a new power, which I call selfism, would arise. And, having arisen, selfism has easily shouldered its rival aside. In free competition, how can a faith based upon self-restraint and patience compete with one that pardons, unconditionally and in advance, all the self-indulgences you can think of, and some you cannot? That is what the “addiction” argument is most fundamentally about, and why it is especially distressing to hear Christian voices accepting and promoting it, as if it were merciful to call a man a slave, and treat him as if he had no power to resist. The mass abandonment of cigarettes by a generation of educated people demonstrates that, given responsibility for their actions and blamed for their outcomes, huge numbers of people will give up a bad habit even if it is difficult. Where we have adopted the opposite attitude, and assured abusers that they are not answerable for their actions, we have seen other bad habits grow or remain as common as before. Heroin abuse has not been defeated, the abuse of prescription drugs grows all the time, and heavy drinking is a sad and spreading problem in Britain.

Most of the people who read what I have written here, if they even get to the end, will be angry with me for expressing their own secret doubts, one of the cruellest things you can do to any fellow creature. For we all prefer the easy, comforting falsehood to the awkward truth. But at the same time, we all know exactly what we are doing, and seek with ever-greater zeal to conceal it from ourselves. Has it not been so since the beginning? And has not the greatest danger always been that those charged with the duty of preaching the steep and rugged pathway persuade themselves that weakness is compassion, and that sin can be cured at a clinic, or soothed with a pill? And so falsehood flourishes in great power, like the green bay tree.

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Alcohol/Drinking, Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Pastoral Theology, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Christian Today's Exclusive Extract From New Book on the Cross by Rowan Williams

The early Christians must have felt that they had no option but to talk about the cross. They knew that because of the death of Jesus on the cross their universe had changed. They no longer lived in the same world. They expressed this with enormous force, talking about a new creation, about liberation from slavery. They talked about the transformation of their whole lives and they pinned it down to the events that we remember each Good Friday. They couldn’t get away from the cross ”“ or so at least the New Testament seems to imply. There are in fact some New Testament scholars who try to argue that reflection on the cross of Jesus came a little bit later. First came Jesus the charismatic teacher, the wandering prophet; first came an interest in his words rather than his deeds or his sufferings. And yet, when you read the earliest texts of Christian Scripture, not only the Gospels, it’s difficult to excavate any stratum of thinking that is, as you might say, ‘pre-cross’. Pretty well everything we read in the New Testament is shadowed by the cross. It is, first and foremost, the sign of how much has changed and how it has changed.

Even non-Christians in the world around recognised the central importance of the cross to Jesus’ early followers. The earliest picture we have of the crucifixion is scratched on a wall in Rome; it may be as old as the second century. It is a rather shocking image: a man with a donkey’s head strapped and nailed to a cross, and next to the cross a very badly drawn little figure wearing the short tunic of a slave, and scribbled above it, ‘Alexamenos worshipping his god’. Presumably one of Alexamenos’s fellow slaves had scrawled this little cartoon on the wall to make fun of him. But he knew, as Alexamenos knew, that Alexamenos’ god was a crucified God.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Books, Christology, Soteriology, Theology

Christians Have A Right To Defend The Cross, Says Rowan Williams

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has defended the right of Christians to protest when crosses are removed from public places.

In a new book on the meaning of the cross and resurrection, both in the early Church and in the modern world, Lord Williams of Oystermouth says it is “reasonable” to “get rather indignant” when crosses are removed from certain public places.

The Christian cross is a “sign” of God’s love and freedom, he says.

It is a sacrifice that symbolises the forgiveness of sins.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Books, Christology, England / UK, Religion & Culture, Soteriology, Theology

Wesley Hill: Cruciform Epiphany

But a closer look reveals a more complicated scene. If I may quote myself once more,

The gifts the magi present to Jesus are, at one level, what we would have expected. The gold is a fitting sign of kingship. The incense attests, however obliquely, to Jesus’ deity (incense being used in the Old Testament for the worship of Israel’s God). But the myrrh foreshadows a funeral. The myrrh casts a shadow over the other two gifts, forcing us to ask whether the kingship and deity of Jesus will somehow culminate in tragedy. Myrrh, as the jaunty Christmas carol puts it, is a “bitter perfume”; it “breathes a life of gathering gloom; / Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, / Sealed in the stone-cold tomb.” Or, as T.S. Eliot’s great poem “The Journey of the Magi” has it, when the wise men crest the hills of Judea and make their way toward Bethlehem, what they see is “three trees on the low sky.”

This is the ultimate unpredictability and irregularity of Epiphany. It is a feast day, and we are celebrating the appearance of Jesus the king of the Jews to all the nations of the world. And yet it is a strange feast, a poignant one, in which we can already smell the acrid odor of a corpse. It’s important, I think, to bear this strange Christological concertina wire of reconfigured chronology in mind when we observe ”” and teach others to observe ”” the Christian calendar, so that we don’t forget where the narrative’s real center lies. The church year has the hallmark of every good story: a beginning, a middle, and an end. But the more you inhabit it, the more you realize that its end is given in its beginning: There is no Christ anywhere in the Christian year who is not already “the Lamb that was slaughtered from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8), and that, ultimately, is the mystery the calendar invites us to plumb.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Epiphany, Poetry & Literature, Soteriology, Theology

Archbp Michael Ramsey on the Call to Us at the beginning of a new Year

First, thank God, often and always”¦ Thank God, carefully and wonderingly, for your continuing privileges and for every experience of his goodness. Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.

Secondly, take care about confession of your sins… Be sure to criticize yourself in God’s presence: That is your self-examination. And put yourself under the divine criticism: That is your confession.
Thirdly, be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly, but they help you to be humble. There can be the trivial humiliations. Accept them. There can be the bigger humiliations”¦ All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our humble and crucified Lord”¦

Fourthly, do not worry about status”¦ there is only one status that our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is the status of of proximity to himself”¦

Fifthly, use your sense of humor. Laugh about things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh about yourself, and about your own absurdity. We are all of us infinitesimally small and ludicrous creatures within God’s universe. You have to be serious, but never be solemn, because if you are solemn about anything there is the risk of becoming solemn about yourself

–Michael Ramsey, The Christian Priest Today (London: SPCK, 1972), 79-81 (the chapter is entitled “Divine Humility”)

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology)

(RI) Rob Sturdy–Scrooge’s New Year

And there it is. Born to give them second birth. Bound up in the many promises of the manger is the promise that the babe born in Bethlehem has power to reconstitute human beings, which means he can start them over again, spiritually speaking from scratch. This is what the Bible means by “born again,” or what Wesley meant by “second birth.” And this is indeed what Scrooge needs. After all, neither we nor he wish to trust his eternal chains to the fragile and fickle powers of human resolve. Better to enter into the mystery, terror, joy, and dark night of Christmas Eve as one man only to emerge hours later through miracle (or magic?) another man.

Flinging the curtains open on Christmas Day, his spiritual pilgrimage through the past, present and future complete, the first thing Scrooge does is laugh.

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious laugh. The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs.

“I don’t know what day of the month it is,” said Scrooge. “I don’t know how long I’ve been among the Spirits. I don’t know anything. I’m quite a baby. Never mind. I don’t care. I’d rather be a baby. Hallo! Whoop! Hallo here!”

“I’m quite a baby.” Indeed. Christmas magic made the man new. He had started all over gain. He had been born anew. Dickens’ point was not about ghosts and phantasms but rather about Christmas itself.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ethics / Moral Theology, Soteriology, Theology

The Message of Christmas–Christ Jesus Came Into the World to Save Sinners

The message of Christmas for you from Christ this morning is that what is good and precious in your life need never be lost, and what is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed. The coming of the eternal Son of God into the world as the God-Man, Jesus Christ, is a fact of history. But thousands of Americans fill out Gallup Poll religious surveys that they believe this fact but then live just like everybody else. They have the same anxieties that good things will be lost and the same frustrations that crummy things can’t be changed. Evidently there is not much power in giving right answers on religious surveys about historical facts.
That’s because the coming of the Son of God into the world is so much more than a historical fact. It was a message of hope sent by God to teenagers and single parents and crabby husbands and sullen wives and overweight women and impotent men and retarded neighbors, and homosexuals and preachers and lovers and you. And since the Son of God lived, died, rose, reigns and is coming again, God’s message through him is more than a historical fact. It is a Christmas gift to you this morning, December 25, 1983, from the voice of the living God. Thus says the Lord: the meaning of Christmas is that what is good and precious in your life need never be lost, and what is evil and undesirable in your life can be changed. The fears that the few good things that make you happy are slipping through your fingers, and the frustrations that the bad things you hate about yourself or your situation can’t be changed — these fears and these frustrations are what Christmas came to destroy. It is God’s message of hope this morning that what is good need never be lost and what is bad can be changed.

There are many in our church family who because of age or sickness will inevitably ask themselves the question today: “Is this my last Christmas?” Life is good and precious and we don’t want to lose it. We can talk all we want about the good things of life, but if we don’t have life we don’t have anything. “What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your life?” O, how precious is our life. If you don’t feel it now, wait ’till you get very sick. Then you will know why Hezekiah wept bitterly with his terminal illness and pled for added years (2 Kings. 20:1-7). The message of Christmas to you who see your death on the horizon is that you need never lose your life. It is good to live. Your life is precious and can be saved.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Anthropology, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(TGC) Scott James–Why Christmas Is Even Better than You Think

Opening with an examination of the light and dark motif found in Isaiah’s proclamation””that “on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isa. 9:2)””Keller frames the incarnation as an inbreaking of divine light into our world. The world is fallen, shrouded in the darkness of rebellion, but the true light (John 8:12) has shone forth bringing life. In contrast with secular humanism’s conviction that we’re able to overcome the darkness by our own will, Christmas tells us that only a light from outside us can save us.

When I picture light penetrating into darkness, it’s often a violent thing. For those enveloped in darkness, it’s an assault on their senses. Eyes squinting, we instinctively flinch from the jolt. Yet here with the Christmas story, we have the most dramatic intrusion of light imaginable. It’s the story of the holy One, the Son of God in flesh arrayed, breaking into realms of darkness to reclaim his fallen bride””the unapproachable God approaching his enemies. Our instinct should be to flinch from the threat, as we see the Old Testament saints doing whenever God draws near as a pillar of fire, a whirlwind, or a cloud of glory.
But when God became man, his entrance into the darkness was disarming rather than jarring. A baby is not threatening. Why the difference? [Timothy] Keller asks and answers:

Why would God come this time in the form of a baby, rather than a firestorm or whirlwind? Because this time he has not come to bring judgment but to bear it, to pay the penalty for our sins, to take away the barrier between humanity and God, so we can be together. Jesus is God with us. (54)

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Books, Christmas, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Evangelicals, Other Churches, Soteriology, Theology, Theology: Scripture