Hebrews 7:25 Jesus Christ of All Dominion

26 04 2013

jesus compassion

 

“Consequently he is able for all time to save those who approach God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25 (NRSV)

Currently I’m working on a further foray into Molinism and the Lutheran Confessions.  The Molinist approach to soteriology addresses the subjects of God’s sovereignty, omnipresence and omnipotence in a bit more depth than the Confessions, but doesn’t contradict the Confessions in any way that I can discern, at least not so far.  I’m not a theologian, so I have to trust and pray as I dig, as well as engage in critical thought.  Faith does not require one to check one’s brain at the door, but to be open to being informed and enlightened by the Holy Spirit in study and prayer.

Proverbs153

I am consistently put in awe of the omnipotence and omnipresence of God.  I know that it’s hard to wrap one’s consciousness around God being everywhere, in and through everything, at all places and times, at the same time.  Yet Scripture upholds the completely pervasive totality of God.  I don’t claim to understand the mechanics of the cosmos- I’m baffled at any sort of higher math beyond basic accounting, percentages and ratios.  I  understand the mechanics of the Creator even less than I understand the mechanics behind His creation.  Yet I have faith that He is Who He says He is, and that He continually makes intercession for fallible and fallen sinners like me.

Then Job answered the Lord: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, and I will speak; I will question you, and you declare to me.’ I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you;therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6 (NRSV)

In literature and drama there is a device called deus ex machina: literally, “the god in the machine,” which writers use to save their characters from impossible situations.  The Indiana Jones movies make use of this device quite frequently- someone makes an impossible save at the very last moment, and saves the hero from certain death.

milling machine

Old machinery is fascinating to look at, but as far as there being any sort of sentient entities living in them (though the concept of malevolent, sentient machines makes for a good horror novel, i.e. Stephen King’s Christine) I’m not buying it.

Yet God is thoroughly present in and through His creation (and by proxy one would even have to include man-made machinery) which makes the reality of evil even more difficult to understand.  God is God, but He doesn’t always move in with that last minute save like in the Indiana Jones movies- at least not in the physical world that we can see in these temporary bodies. He left the apostle Paul with a thorn in his side, and Paul didn’t understand that either.

Yet God is the One in control.  Especially when we don’t understand.

We get a little bit of insight into the incredible scope of God’s involvement with creation on the most intimate levels in His discourse with Job. (Job 38-42)

God asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?” (Job 38:4)  Of course, Job wasn’t anywhere around, because he hadn’t been created yet.  I know I question God (and I do it often) but there are many times He answers me in the same way He answered Job:  “Where were you?  Who are you to criticize Me?”

lord-answering-job-out-of-the-whirlwind-blake

I don’t think God has a problem with us asking questions, but just as He expected of Job, we have to be prepared for answers we may not like or that we may not understand.  We are compelled to seek understanding, but also to embrace the mystery at the same time.

The Gospel of John explains the Who behind creation and the infinite dominion of Christ most eloquently:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” John 1:1-5 (NRSV)

 

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Psalm 118:21-24 The Unlikely, Misfits, Runts, and the Stone the Builders Rejected

5 04 2013

stone-cornerstone-chief

I will confess, praise, and give thanks to You, for You have heard and answered me; and You have become my Salvation and Deliverer.

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

This is from the Lord and is His doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.

This is the day which the Lord has brought about; we will rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:21-24 (AMP)

God has a sense of humor.  Otherwise He would not have transformed a scrawny little shepherd boy into King David.  David had several strong, bold, older brothers, which made God’s choice of the “runt” all the more peculiar.

If not for having a rich sense of humor, God would not have chosen to make Abraham the father of multitudes- when Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90.  Their son’s name- Isaac- means “laughter,” because when the angel of the Lord told Sarah she would have a son in her advanced age, Sarah laughed.  I would have laughed too.  The idea of a 90 year old woman having a child seems like too much to believe, which might just have been the point.  If God says a 90 year old woman is going to have a child. then she will- laughter or not.

I’m encouraged by God’s pattern of choosing the rejected, the unlikely, and the unlovely.  His choice of a family for His Son was unexpected as well- Jesus was not born into a palace, the protected and coddled child of a high-born princess.  God placed Him with a poor teenage girl and her bewildered betrothed.  Instead of being born in the finest of estates, Jesus arrived in human form in an animal barn.

God has a soft spot for the runt, the nerd, the misfit, the modest and the poor.  That encourages me.

runt kitten

The world has far different standards for worth and success than God does.  The world says, “Do unto others- and run,”  while Jesus in His wisdom says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 (NRSV)

The world tells us some lives are expendable- especially the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly.  Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” Matthew 19:14 (NRSV)

I’m glad that God loves the weak and the meek, because the world has no place for them.

weak heart strong god

Lord, help me remember that You love the weak, the meek, the misfits, the runts, the nerds and everyone else the world doesn’t care about.  Help me to be your eyes and hands and heart toward those who the world rejects, even as You were once rejected by the world.





Christianity 101, Intro to the Lutheran Confessions, and the Sovereignty of God

12 03 2013

eternallife

I am nothing more than an obscure private individual.  This site is a place for me to first of all help clarify and strengthen my own faith.  If my observations are helpful to others, fine.  Feel free to comment, expound on anything or present a different perspective.  We can always agree to disagree.

First and foremost, I am a Christian.   I understand and interpret Christian faith as a confessional Lutheran, (which actually gives quite me a bit of latitude,) however, one can certainly be a Christian without being a confessional Lutheran.  At one point in my life I almost became a Southern Baptist because of their emphasis on Bible study. While I differ with the Baptist groups on the means of grace and also on the role of the believer in coming to faith, they do know Scripture.  I’ve learned much about God and faith from traditions that are different than my own.

A Christian is someone who believes the statements of the Apostle’s Creed, which is basically a synopsis of “What do Christians believe?”  that is derived from Scripture:

apostle's creed

I’m not going to tell anyone that to be a Christian means to be an ascetic.  Asceticism is more of a premise of Eastern religions, all of which (in different forms) require believers to earn their way to rewards.  The way of Jesus is one of grace and of surrendering to Him.   I’m not putting on a hair shirt, and I don’t expect anyone else to either, unless God calls them to it.  If a person is called to be an ascetic for the sake of Christ, or to wear a hair shirt, that’s fine with me, but unless God calls me to an austere lifestyle or to wear itchy clothes, I’m not going to join you.  There are no brownie points to be earned in Jesus’ economy.

I don’t believe that the physical body is evil, nor do I believe that material things are inherently bad.  God made creation good.  God created the world and everything in it to serve and glorify Him.  Humanity brought sin into the equation. Humans are completely depraved, and through our sin creation has become corrupt, but God wins.  As the Teacher of Ecclesiates (Solomon) teaches,

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;  a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiates 3:1-8 (NRSV)

There’s a time and a place for everything.  So don’t expect me to be a prude. I have a sense of humor and I do use it.

The Lutheran Confessions are a collection of documents that were written largely in response to what Martin Luther and other Reformers saw as errors going on within the Catholic Church.  I don’t have anything against Catholics, other than I cannot be a Catholic because I don’t agree 100% with the Roman Catholic Church. Agreeing 100% with their rules- is one of their rules.  The Catholic Church has actually taken up with some of the Reformers’ suggestions, such as saying Mass in the language of the people and giving them access to Scripture, so we aren’t quite as far apart today as we would have been in the 1580s.

I also believe that God is 100% sovereign, meaning that He is everywhere in every time and place at the same time (omnipresent) and that He knows everything that has happened, is happening or will happen (omniscient.)  We don’t have access to all that knowledge.  Our minds and bodies are finite.  We can only occupy one space in one point in time, so our perspective is limited.  God is limitless, and that’s about as close as I can get to explaining the nature and scope of God.

As a finite and flawed human being there are questions I can’t answer, but questions are part of faith.   So is being wrong at times.

Far Side God _1

God can take our questions, our doubt and even our anger.  He is with us in and through it all.