Thursday, May 28, 2020

Letters to My Grandchildren: Some Basics About the Bible

My Dear Grandchildren,

Time for another letter. And this time I would like to help you take a look at the Bible. It makes sense to do this because without the Bible we are completely lost. We would have no hope of understanding the important issues of life. The Bible is critical to our ability to live. So, what I’m going to do is explain a few basic aspects of the Bible. And the way that I’m going to do that is by answering three questions.

First question: What is it?

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Stray Thoughts: Pentecost

This Sunday is Pentecost. It is on this day that the Church remembers the striking events of that first century Pentecost when the Spirit came upon the apostles. Something dramatic was happening. But what was it? Here’s one answer to that question that is common enough. This is the birthday of the Church. However, a closer look will show that that actually doesn’t work. That isn’t what is going on.

So, why do I say that? Well, the first thing to do is to be clear on what our words mean. Agreed upon definitions are always important. So, what is the Church? A common enough definition might go something like this. ‘The Church is that group of people who believe in Jesus.’ So, it’s obvious, if you define ‘Church’ in that way, that Pentecost has to be the beginning of the Church since people didn’t believe in Jesus before. How could they? He hadn’t come yet.

So, what’s wrong with that? Well, consider this question. What about those saints who lived before Jesus showed up? I’m thinking about people like Abraham, Moses, David, you know, Old Testament saints. If they didn’t believe in Jesus, then they are now in hell, right?

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Collect of the Week

God, who as at this time taught the hearts of your faithful people by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:

Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgement in all things and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;

through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Monday, May 25, 2020

Comment on a Lectionary Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:3–13

Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit. Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills. For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body - Jews or Greeks, slaves or free - and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:3–13

* * *

As usual, there is much going on here as Paul teaches about the work of the Spirit in the church, the body of Christ. However, I’m only going to comment on one verse, and that’s verse seven.
To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:7
Each and every Christian has been given some ability or other by the Spirit. Now, please note that that is a fact. That means that it refers to you, Christian. The Spirit has certainly blessed you in this way. The second thing to notice here is that this ability has been given to you for the benefit of the others in the church. These are facts that are true of you.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Reflections on God: His Kingdom

We’re back to take a look at God. Once again, we’re going to use something from the Lord’s Prayer to guide us: ‘Thy kingdom come’.

So, what’s this about? God is a king who rules over creation. This is a common enough theme of the Scriptures. Here’s just one sample:
The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad! Psalm 97.1
However, you may have noticed that not everyone is all that glad when it comes to God’s rule. There is a rebellion against the King. It is a rebellion that started back in the Garden of Eden. Obviously, that’s not good, and something needs to be done about it.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Letters to My Grandchildnen: God, What and Who

My Dear Grandchildren,

Well, it’s time for another letter and another topic. As I’ve thought about my options, it seems right to talk about God. But talking about God is a huge topic. Books upon books have been written about Him. But don’t get nervous. I’m not going to write anything very long. But I do want to write something about this critically important topic. Understanding God is the most important goal that any person could ever have. So, what I’ve decided to do is to try to answer two questions about God. Just two. 'What is God?' and 'Who is God?'