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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The World and the Christian Life

"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
Image result for lemmings going off the cliff

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them."

1 John 4:9-16

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Some Episcopal churches have decided not to offer prayer for President Trump by name. Yet Scripture is clear that Christ's followers are to pray for all in authority. In His conversation with Pilate, Jesus made it clear that all earthly authority is derived from the Father who appoints men to ruler. These rulers are responsible for governance that is moral, ethical, just, and compassionate.

When a nation's leaders turn away from divine law, the people are easily seduced by Satan and the world. In the Biblical sense, the "world" is the culture in which we conduct our daily lives. Apart from Satan, the culture is our chief enemy. Like the promiscuous woman who appeals to the naive young man, hoping to seduce, so these entice us to irresponsible "pleasures" that corrupt the mind, body and soul and bring death.

The power of the world is to stimulate desire beyond control: “. . the corruption . . by lust.” (2 Peter 1:4). “. . all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:16). The world entices us with calls to conformity, to political correctness, to do it because everyone's doing it! We are tempted to follow the fashion, to pattern our lives according to the latest thing. But there is no joy in that way of living.

When a nation's social and spiritual life is seduced by these appeals, corruption and decline reign! History illustrates this: When Israelis did not separate themselves from the idolatrous heathen, their corruption brought judgement after judgement. When the Church allowed the Roman empire to adopted Christianity, it declined into the Dark Ages and the Inquisition. When the US culture declined in the '20s in America, and to the present time where: “If it feels good, do it!” and personal desires are personal rights. Are not the results grievous?

In the present time, the politically correct cultures are: “enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.” (Phil 3:18, 19).

Faith is the key for spiritual victory over the worldly sin barrier that separates human beings from God. The Apostle John says we are able to overcome the world by believing that Jesus is the Son of God, by discerning the spirits, and through obedient faith. Faith can overcome the world's influences. Faith finds affirmation in God's revelations through the natural revelation (Ps 19:1-6), the Bible, and God's testimony within us of His reality.

"In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.”

". . this is the victory that has overcome the world — our faith.” 1 John 5:4b

Related reading: A Word to Ministers of the Gospel

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Word to Ministers of the Gospel

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

For ministers of the Gospel, teaching others continues until maturity is reached and maturity is required to make new converts. This is not about feelings or emotions. Teaching and discipleship appeal to the mind and to the will.

Karl Hinrich Rengetorf wrote:
“The whole teaching of Jesus is with the view to the ordering of life with reference to God and one’s neighbor (Mt 22:37ff and par 1 of 19:16ff). Thus his teaching constantly appeals to the will, calling for the practical decision either for the will of God or against it.”
While the teaching or instructing appeals to the will and is to lead to understanding, the  understanding is not as a prerequisite to faith. We are to trust in the Lord with all our heart and not rely on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:4, 5).

This is not blind obedience. Once the will has yielded to the Gospel, attention is given to a growing understanding of the principles of Gospel living (John 15:8, 14, 15; Matt 13: 16–18 ff; Eph 1: 15–23; 4:11–18).

I think that there is a good application here. The Greek teachers gained their status and authority through superior logic and rhetoric. This is how they built up a following of students (disciples). They appealed to the mind.

In proclaiming the Gospel, the first step is to bring the human will into wholehearted submission to the authority of God. Then comes understanding of what our Lord has revealed in the Scriptures. Then follows obedience.

How can we say that we are being fully obedient, if we do not evangelize, baptize and teach? How can we say we are obedient if we fail to make disciples who also make disciples?

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach?" (Romans 10:14)

Related reading: Teaching: An Instrument of DisciplingThe Central Command and Christ's Authority