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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Contradictions of the Cross

Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Edward F. Lundwall, Jr.

Everything Satan does is designed to deceive and to bring about some kind of death. This understanding of Satan finds expression in Genesis 3. As a poisonous snake, Satan is going to bite Jesus' heel, but Christ crushes Satan’s head. Satan’s efforts are contradicted and Christ the Lord offers life and freedom for all who will identify with Him.

In the Cross of Jesus Christ God contradicts Satan's efforts so as to effect His divine purposes. In this aspect, God shows Himself to be the Almighty Warrior.

We are inclined to wonder how God is still in control when we consider the murder of six million Jews, the abortion of millions of babies, etc. people. Yet, God is a mighty warrior against the forces of evil. He wages war on our behalf.

To be victorious and exhibit God’s wisdom, we must clothe ourselves in the armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18). Putting on the full armor of God means applying Christ to every area of our lives. This pleases God and pushes back against evil.

In the Cross Christ destroys death's hold for all humanity, but this is effective only for those who trust in Him and do His Gospel work (1 Cor 15:1-4). In this, God contradicts Satan’s seeming victory and sets forth His plan of redemption.

In the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, a great contradiction is seen. Satan’s work involved getting God’s "chosen" people to reject and crucify Christ. God contradicts this by those Jews and followed Him then and those who believe and follow Him now.

We imagine that Satan gloated as Christ was laid dead in His tomb. God contradicts this by making the empty tomb a sign of hope that our grief, pain, sin, and mortality will be canceled. So we rejoice in the wonder of God’s forgetfulness and might!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Divine Opportunities in the New Year


In varied shapes, sizes, and hues
A myriad from which to choose
Some stay closed; others open wide.
We all approach and decide
Which ones on which to knock,
But carry no key for any lock
That bars opportunities
Or presents impossibilities.

This New Year, is a door that’s opening,
Filling hearts and minds with hoping…
Oh, Creator God of Mysteries,
Only You hold all those keys.
We, mortals trapped in time,
Struggle your loving ways to mime;
Open doors that reveal your Face,
Fill this year with your Mercy and Grace!

Hope Ellen Rapson - January 2017

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Teaching: An Instrument of Discipling

Teaching is the primary means of making disciples and developing them into being reproducing disciplers (2 Tim 2:2). Teaching influences their decisions to become permanent followers of Jesus Christ (John 8:30–36; Acts 14:22; 15:41). Whatever is done in Church life should have the effect of teaching for the edification of the members (1 Cor 14:26).

Karl Hinrich Rengetorf writes:
“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 and par). Thus his teaching constantly appeals to the will, calling for the practical decision either for the will of God or against it.”
Further, the word "disciple" literally refers to one who learns at the feet of a teacher. It implies the recognition of authority. This authority rests in understanding God’s authoritative revelation. In the New Testament, group learning is centered in the teacher as one who knows and embodies the authoritative revelation. The qualified teacher knows the message well enough to pass it on to his students (Eph 4:11, 12; 2 Tim 2:2). Thinking based on group consensus does not reflect divine authority, but instead is humanistic (2 Tim 4:3, 4; Eph 4:14).

Throughout the ages, the divine revelation is tied to the Lord Jesus Christ. He is foreshadowed in the Old Testament from Genesis to the Prophets. His full humanity-full divinity is described in the New Testament. He used parables to teach about the Kingdom of God and to provide insight into the mind of God. Each parable and encounter with Jesus reveals more about the heart of God. A true disciple seeks to understand God’s priorities in order to align our own priorities with God's. This expresses the reality of newness of life.

C.S. Lewis wrote, "There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him, but trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.”― Mere Christianity

Related reading: Discipling With Authority; C.S. Lewis on Discipleship