Discipleship #2

Regular Communion:

The Sacrament of the Altar (Lord’s Supper) is a priceless gift from God. Through the body and blood of Jesus Christ the repentant sinner receives forgiveness of sins. The Supper builds and strengthens the believer’s faith. Attendance at the Lord’s Supper is a good spiritual barometer of your spiritual life. Disregard of the Lord’s Supper is a sure sign of spiritual decay. Although Jesus did not say how often we should receive the Sacrament, He did say “often.” As the Lord feeds us, He draws us to a closer relationship with Him and with one another.

Matthew 26:26–28 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”

1 Corinthians 10:16–17 The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread.

Luther and the Commandments

If we read enough in Luther, we discover that he saw the fulfillment of the Law through Christ’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection. Thus, the 10 commandments as formalized at Mt. Sinai are not for Christians. Rather, the re-creation in Christ means that we are back to creation and the relationships formed there. While the 10 commandments give a summary of the moral law and the creation relationship, it is their fuller understanding as revealed in Christ that carries the day. Thus, Luther looked at the four estates of creation as the basis for life. From his perspective, the “authority” given in creation begins with husband wife, then to children, and ultimately to all who are in authority.

If we take the 10 commandments as legalistic absolutes, then yeah, we will have a problem with how Luther works with the commandments (consider even the 3rd commandment and his explanation which is even more). But if we understand the greater fulfillment in Christ, then his explanations not only make sense, but reveal a much broader understanding of what it means to be God’s “creature” (1st Article of the Creed), “who has been redeemed” (2nd Article of the Creed), and who ”calls, gathers, and sanctifies” (3rd Article of the Creed). That is why Luther could expand on the commandments and yet be consistent with the Gospel as predominant. Also, this matches Paul’s puzzling statement in Galatians 5:7.

In other words, Luther understands everything Christocentrically, not legalistically. This also separates us from both the RCC/EO and the Reformed (in the large sense of the word). Read his Large Catechism to catch the full nature of his approach, especially in regard to the 1st Commandment and the 1st Article of the Creed.

Jesus had compassion on them

For the Gospel reading this coming Sunday (Lutheran Worship pericopes), we find Jesus demonstrating that he is indeed the shepherd who would accomplish the Father’s will. In this pericope (Mark 6:30-34), Mark uses this word (ἐσπλαγχνίσθη “he had compassion”), and it always catches my attention. Throughout the Gospels, it is used only of God or Jesus (or in the case of a parable, the one who represents Jesus). For Mark’s Gospel it appears four times, each with a slightly different context.

Mark 1:41 when Jesus heals the people

Mark 6:34 when Jesus teaches the people

Mark 8:2 when Jesus feeds the people

Mark 9:22 request for compassion, after which Jesus casts out the demons

These four incidents show the fuller nature of Jesus’ compassion, identifying the problem and need of the people, then addressing it as part of his ministry. The disruption of Genesis 3 affected all aspects of life as God intended. Jesus’ compassion marks his life and ministry as he fulfills all that the Father desired from eternity to correct the affects of sin.

Jesus had compassion on them… and us!

Who really deserves the Honest Scrap Award?

Who really deserves the Honest Scrap Award? I have been tagged by Kevin Sam . Since I was on the road this past week I just saw his post. I’m supposed to tell you 10 HONEST things about myself and then nominate 7 other blogs that I think deserve to receive the Honest Scrap Award.

Here goes my ten honest things about myself:

1. My wife and I have moved 27 times.

2. I have been in two house fires, the first in 1952 and the second in 1998.

3. I have been a math teacher in high school and college, Naval Intelligence Officer, analyst for a Fortune 100 company, pastor, and president of a seminary.

4. I have driven a Honda or Toyota since 1988, and a Volvo for 10 years prior to that.

5. I have a passion for teaching the Scriptures.

6. My current position has me on the road about 50% of the time.

7. I have played guitar for 48 years.

8. Been a dedicated Mac user since 1990, but my introduction to computers was in college, 1968, when I took a programming class in Fortran IV on an IBM 360 with the card-readers.

9. I love ethnic foods: Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Indian (not too hot!!), BBQ, German, Irish, etc.

10. Of all the places most interesting to visit was Hong Kong in 1975.

So, my tags: Kevin Sam, Amy, Nick Norelli,  Sarah Bereza, well, for me that’s probably all I can find (except those who have been tagged prior to this).

Traveling is fun, but gets old

I am on my sixth extended trip since Easter, and have a few days left on this current one. I thoroughly enjoy my work visiting pastors and congregations. But the travel sometimes can be a little much.

Heard a sermon last night about commitment as a Christian. The pastor stated that we should be “half of a hokie pokie” Christian, “put whole self in” (but don’t take it back out). Good thought.

Ten days on the road and I’m going to make it home tonight

Title [sort of,… six days] of a David Dudley trucking song many years ago. But also descriptive of me today. I’m sitting in the Sacramento airport waiting for the flight home, after spending 10 days in the area. It was a good visit, including preaching at two churches and the regional convention, and visiting five pastors.

On June 7 I preached on Isaiah 6:1-8 (Trinity Sunday). The majestic, all powerful God condescends to forgive Isaiah and prepare him for his prophetic ministry. On June 14 I preached on Psalm 122:1 (I rejoiced when they said to me, “Let’s us go to the house of the LORD.”), focusing in particular on the worship environment. My sermon title: “The Liturgy of S[p]orts,” using a basketball analogy.

And now I am tired, ready for some sleep, before my next trip begins on Saturday.

Mission, Isaiah, Acts, and Romans

To continue the thought of the previous post: the book by David Pao is Acts and the Isaianic New Exodus, Biblical Studies Library, J.C. B. Mohr, 2000 (Baker Academic, 2002). The key point of his study relative to Acts 1:6-8 is the framework of Acts in light of Isaiah 49:6. This is the second Servant Song in Isaiah and focuses on the mission objective (Isaiah 52:13-53:12 focuses on the how):

Isaiah 49:6
he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.

Notice that the Servant has two objectives: 1. restore Israel, and 2. be a light to the nations. When these are achieved, then salvation goes to the end of the earth.

In Acts 1:6, the disciples ask “Is it at this time you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” Jesus does not rebuke them for their question, nor does he say that their theology is mistaken. Rather, their theology is incomplete. Jesus focuses the disciples on the two fold objective (Israel and the nations), and they will be guided in that objective by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit who guided him when he began his ministry (Luke 4:16-30). Their ministry will be begin in Jerusalem, then to Judea/Samaria, and finally to the end of the earth.

Pao notes that the phrase “to the end of the earth”, “the exact form of the phrase (with the singular εσχατου) appears only five times in the LXX, and twice in the Lukan writings, and nowhere elsewhere in ancient Greek literature not influenced by either Isaiah or Acts” (pg. 94). Thus, the mission outlined in Acts 1:8 is more than a geographic mission, rather a theological mission, and more particularly an Isaianic mission. Pao adds to this perspective by noting that Isaiah 49:6 is quoted in Acts 13:47. Barnabas and Paul had been commissioned by the church in Antioch, receiving the Holy Spirit for the mission ahead. The pattern of Barnabas and Paul (now Paul and Barnabas) has been to go to the Jews, but when they reject the message, to turn to the Gentiles, in fulfillment of Isaiah 49:6.

Now, what is interesting is that the restoration of Israel only happens as the second part (light to the nations) happens. And this bring us to Paul’s thematic phrase in Romans, “first to the Jews and then to the Greeks”. One can not happen without the other. Paul emphasizes this in Romans 11, when he writes:

Romans 11:25-26a
Lest you be wise in your own conceits, I want you to understand this mystery, brethren: a hardening has come upon part of Israel, until the full number of the Gentiles come in, and so all Israel will be saved;

Thus, Paul’s missional understanding in Romans parallels the missional understanding of Acts – and both reflect the Isaianic mission (“restore Israel, bring light to nations – and bring salvation to the end of the earth”).

As always this post leaves many unanswered questions and raises even more. It is not definitive, but a starting point for further investigation.