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A Unified Church is a Beautiful Thing to Waste

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A Unified Church is a Beautiful Think to Waste
A Unified Church is a Beautiful Think to Waste

Oh, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters in Christ to dwell together in unity.  When we are saved we are transferred into the Kingdom of God and we become “citizens of heaven”(Philippians 3:20) living as “sojourners and exiles” on this earth (1 Peter 2:11). And in our heavenly Kingdom: “there is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 5:4-6).

We were saved into unity and we must live that unity out in this world if we are to be happy people and a good witness to a broken world seeking what only we can share. In this message on Philippians 4:11, I explore the links of joy, fellowship, and unit and (importantly) how we realize them in our lives and in our churches.

This is the third of three sermons I recently preached on Joy and Fellowship. To hear part one, the Pursuit of Joyfulness click on Part one.

To hear part two (The Privileges and Responsibilities of a Joyful Christian Philippians 1:27-30) click on Part two.

 

Living Worthy of the Gospel

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A Unified Church is a Beautiful Think to Waste
A Unified Church is a Beautiful Think to Waste

What is the Gospel? Hint: It is not a message about how you can get to Heaven. Our salvation is a result of the Gospel. The Gospel, itself, is the announcement of God’s Good News concerning His Son, Jesus Christ. When we believe that gospel we are delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of Heaven. As Citizens of Heaven (Philippians 3:20), we have great privileges and corresponding responsibilities.

President John F. Kennedy famously challenged American citizens at his inauguration, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Sometimes we forget that as citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven we are given a calling corresponding to our privileges: “Only behave as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil 1:27 literal translation). What does this mean? I explore that theme in a message entitled The Privileges and Responsibilities of Gospel Citizenship:

The Pursuit of Joyfulness

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Worthy of the Gospel
Worthy of the Gospel

Scripture commands us to pursue joyfulness. This means at least two things: First, that this is something that it is right and good to pursue; Second, that it is something possible to pursue. That’s a very encouraging set of implications.  But, what does it mean to pursue joy? How can we do so in a world full of suffering and sickness and sorrow? Find out in this introduction the Book of Philippians focused on one of the books most important instructions: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” (Phillippians 4:4).

 

The Series Continues!

To hear part two (The Privileges and Responsibilities of a Joyful Christian Philippians 1:27-30) click here.

To hear part three (A Unified and Joyful Church Philippians 2:1-4) click here.

002 Those Who Fail to Learn From History

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009 We Believe in God
009 We Believe in God

Why study Church history? They say that those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We see this in every major political battle, where the new and rising star promises things that can never be fulfilled and set themselves up as “different” from the incumbent. As soon as they get into power, they forget nearly all those promises. And voters say, “I never saw this coming!”  Four years is enough for us to forget this and to repeat the cycle!

It’s worse in Church history. The church has a 2000 year history, which has seen nearly all the problems we face today before. But we are often ignorant of this history and deal with our problems alone. Why should we reinvent the wheel? Discover the wisdom of Church history in today’s episode of the GraceAppeal podcast (featuring an all-new intro).

Fake News vs Ancient Faith – Episode 001 (reissue)

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009 We Believe in God
009 We Believe in God

We have all heard of #fakenews. Many people curate their social media (and their lives) to only see posts that affirm what they already believe. This tendency seems to be everywhere. It impacts both individuals and organizations (even the professional news media). And it can easily happen within religious (or cultural) communities. Every now and then, we have our comfortable way of looking at the world challenged. We realize we were caught up in fake news. But what is next? What does faith have to do with it? 

Why Did God Become Human?

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Jesus, the God-man
We believe in one God and in one Lord and in the Holy Spirit

Was it necessary for God to become human, in order to accomplish our salvation? The English theologian St. Anselm of Canterbury claimed this was the best way to understand the Church’s faith in arguably his most important work Cur Deo Homo. From the very beginning Christianity has always professed that the eternally begotten Son of God, “came down from heaven . . . for us and for our salvation.”

To deny this belief that God became man has been held to be heretical. It is a teaching in “the spirit of antichrist” (1 John 4:2). The early church faced this danger almost right away: “many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh” (2 John 1:7). This has been soundly settled, forever. Yet it is being questioned once again today by a people who don’t know their history.

Who is Jesus, Why did He come?

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A Unified Church is a Beautiful Think to Waste
A Unified Church is a Beautiful Think to Waste

Who is Jesus, and why did he come? The Christian Faith expresses a Mystery revealed in the Bible. This mystery centres on Jesus, known as the Christ (or Messiah), our Lord and Saviour.

Who is Jesus: the Nicene Creed

First, consider the Nicene Creed (link). This Creed is the most universal standard of Christian belief. Believers recite this statement of basic christian faith every Sunday in churches all over the world. Reciting the creed reminds Christian that our Lord “came down from heaven, was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, and was made man.”

Who is Jesus: The Incarnation

Second, consider the Mystery. We call this decent from heaven and our Lord’s existence among us–the incarnation. The incarnation is at the heart of the Christian Mystery. That a heavenly being from that unseen realm became one of us. And this was done, “for us men, and for our salvation.”

Who is Jesus: The Lamb of God

Third, consider the Bible’s explanation. When he Saviour appeared, a well known prophet declared, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1:29-50). There are four Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible.  We know Matthew, Luke and John  as the Evangelists. However, the church has labeled the fourth, John, as “the Theologian.” The first three Gospels tell us the story of the Messiah. But John tells us what this story means.  Find out what John explains in a recent sermon I preached:

Who is Jesus: Find out More

Find out more about the Lord, and what Christians believe about him in my new GoodFaith podcast (coming soon!). The GoodFaith podcast will have a very specific focus. Today’s Western Christian finds the Church in a difficult place, with cultural, societal and legal hostility seeming to grow stronger every year. The GoodFaith consequently exports ancient solutions to modern concerns. The wisdom of the past provides a pathway to the future.

The Nicene Creed

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Jesus, the God-man
We believe in one God and in one Lord and in the Holy Spirit

We believe in one God,

the Father, the Almighty,

maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, visible and invisible (GoodFaith Podcast Episode 009).

 

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only-begotten Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one Being with the Father;

through him all things were made (GoodFaith Podcast Episode 010).

For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven,

was incarnate from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

 

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father [and the Son],*

who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,

who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

******

*The phrase “and the Son” (Latin filioque) is not in the original Greek text.

Faith and Pleasing God

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Faith and the Message of the Apostles
What was the Message of the Apostles?

The opening lines of great literature tends to be very memorable and great writers lays out significant themes in these lines. The opening lines of Irenaeus’ Apostolic Preaching express a prayer that the reader may “preserve your faith entire and so be pleasing to God” (1.1a [at 1]). This prayer introduces a world of ideas. In this first commentary on his work, we will begin to explore this world of ideas (summarized in my earlier Outline Post). Here, Irenaeus really calls upon the reader to hold firm to the faith preached by the apostles.

Perhaps the most helpful young reformed theologian in Canada today has put it this way, “everyone should read this book three times before the year’s end.”

Having taken up his challenge, I read the book through twice. Now on my third time I am analysing it a little more deeply.

Irenaeus On The Apostolic Preaching Outline

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Faith and the Message of the Apostles
What was the Message of the Apostles?

I have been reading Irenaeus’ great work, Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching. This is an amazing and important book. In it, Irenaeus explains how the Christian faith has an organic, natural, or evolving relationship to the message of what we call the Old and New Testaments. he does not do this by giving his own assessment. Irenaeus instead, bears witness to the preaching of the Apostles on this subject (link). Who was this author? How did he know what the Apostle’s preached? What did he include in his book?