Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Happy Pentecost!

HT Cyberbrethren! Great links to the biblical basis of the creed!
The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Happy Pentecost!
As we celebrate Pentecost, we celebrate the gift, and gifts, of the Holy Spirit. There is a good deal of misunderstanding out there about the Person and the work of God, the Holy Spirit. For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is a kind of “Force” that is responsible for every feeling they might have that they regard as “spiritual.” In fact, the Holy Spirit gives us something real, concrete and certain: Faith. Yes, that personal faith, the trust in God’s promises. But the substance of our personal faith, is the Christian Faith, which is the even greater gift of the Holy Spirit. in the promises of God, but also the Faith of the Church. And what is that Faith? It is well summarized in the words of the Apostles’ Creed. So-called “non-creedal” Christians claim to have no creeds. But in fact, every Christian has a creed, either formal or informal, we all have something which we would say, “This is what I believe.” And this is precisely what “Creed” means, from the Latin word “credo” or “I believe.” I thought you would enjoy something I’ve been, literally, carrying around with me for eight years or more. It is a page I photocopied out of a very old Lutheran theology book. Shame on me, I did not write down from whence this page came, but it is old. From the early 17th century. It is a phrase-by-phrase presentation of the Apostles’ Creed with corresponding Bible texts both from the Old Testament and New Testament. It cites verses we may be familiar with as “proof texts” for the Creed, but interestingly, it also cites texts we might not first think of as proof passages for the various phrases in the Creed. It does reveal the nature of how the Bible was understood in Lutheran Orthodoxy, and to this day among genuinely confessional Lutheran churches. RefTagger will show you the various Bible verses when you hover your mouse pointer over them, but one it will not: Wisdom of Solomon, 6:6, a quote from one of the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament, which were always part of Lutheran Bibles, until we moved into English, from Germany. Wisdom 6:6 is “For mercy will soon pardon the meanest: but mighty men shall be mightily tormented.”
I believe (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 4:5)
In God (Deut. 6:4 1 Cor. 8:6)
The Father (Psalm 89:27; Matthew 7:11)
Almighty (Genesis 7:1; 2 Cor. 6:18)
Maker of heaven and earth (Psalm 33:6; John 5:17)
And in Jesus ( Zech 9:9; Matthew 1:21)
Christ (Daniel 9:24; John 3:34)
His only (Zechariah 13:7; John 1:14)
Son (Psalm 2:7; Matthew 16:16)
Our Lord ( Jeremiah 23:6; John 20:28)
Who was conceived (Jeremiah 31:22; Luke 1:31)
By the Holy Spirit (Daniel 2:45; Matthew 1:20)
Born ( Isaiah 9:6; John 1:14)
Of the Virgin Mary (Isaiah 7:14; Luke 1:43)
Suffered (Isaiah 50:6; Luke 23:25)
Under Pontius Pilate (Psalm 2:2; Luke 18:32)
Was crucified (Psalm 22:17; John 3:14)
Died (Daniel 9:26; Rom. 5:8)
And was buried ( Isaiah 53:9; John 12:24)
Descended into hell (Psalm 16:10; Ephesians 4:9)
And on the third day (Hosea 6:2; Matthew 26:32; Acts 10:40-41)
He rose again from the dead (Isaiah 63:1; 2 Timothy 2:8)
Ascended into heaven (Psalm 68:19; Col. 2:15)
And sits at the right hand of the God the Father Almighty (Psalm 110:1; Mark 16:19)
From thence he will come (Isaiah 66:15; Acts 1:11)
To judge (Wisdom of Solomon 6:6; Acts 17:31)
The living and the dead (Daniel 12:2; 1 Cor. 15:51)
I believe in the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 12:10; John 15:26)
The holy (Psalm 45:14; Ephesians 5:26)
Christian Church (Psalm 22:26; Matthew 16:18)
The communion of saints (Exodus 19:5; Ephesians 4:3)
The forgiveness of sins (Psalm 32:1; Acts 10:43)
The resurrection of the body (Isaiah 66:14; John 5:28)
And the life everlasting (Psalm 16:11; 1 Peter 1:4)
Amen! (Psalm 72:19; 2 Cor. 1:20)
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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Constitution Highlights

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

We, the members of the Church of Christ, desiring to manifest the unity which we have with one another in our common confession of our Lord Jesus Christ unite in the adoption of the following Constitution, and do solemnly pledge ourselves, before God and before one another, to be governed by its provisions.

Confession of Faith

Section 1: This congregation believes and confesses that the Holy Scriptures, that is, the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments, are the Word of God, revealed for the salvation of man and hence the only source and rule of faith, doctrine, and life.

Section 2: This congregation receives and adheres to the Apostolic, the Nicene, and the Athanasian creeds, the unaltered Augsburg Confession and Luther's Small Catechism. Nothing contrary to these confessions shall be taught in the congregation either in preaching or in the instruction of the young.

Purpose of this Congregation

Section 1: The purpose of this congregation shall be by means of the Word of God and the Sacraments to work for the establishment and extension of the Kingdom of God. The congregation shall seek to attain this end by the private use of the Word of God, public services and congregational meetings.

Section 2: The congregation shall seek to attain this end by exhorting its members to cultivate family worship, so that the Word of God may dwell richly within the membership; and to be diligent in good works so that the life of faith may be strengthened and the Kingdom extended.

Section 3: The purpose of this congregation shall be to band together, hold property, engage pastor(s), build a church, and in any and all other ways promote the Kingdom of God on earth in accordance with the confessions of Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions.

It shall be the duty of each member:

(a) To lead daily a life which is consistent with his status as a child of God; to show all men by word and deed that he is a follower of Jesus Christ;

(b) To read and give attention to the Word of God, both at home and in the church;

(c) To join in worship regularly with those of common faith;

(d) To seek often the forgiveness, the strengthening, and the guidance which Christ bestows on His own in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

(e) To provide for and encourage the Christian training and education of the young;

(f) To contribute of his means, as God has prospered, toward the maintenance of the church and its programs and toward the reduction of any indebtedness of the congregation;

(g) To participate in a responsible and active way in the government of the congregation; to attend the congregational business meetings; to render service whenever possible;

(h) To notify the Pastor if he is ill or is otherwise desirous of a pastoral call.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What About Baptism?

I. What About Baptism? The Proclamation of God

Matthew 28:19-20
[19] Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, [20] teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

What is baptism?
Baptism is not simply water, but it is the water used according to God’s command and connected with God’s Word.
What is this Word of God?
It is the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in the last chapter of Matthew: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
Taken from Luther’s Small Catechism Part 4 Question

God communicates grace through something physical.
1. Verbal vehicles: God’s Word
2. Visible vehicles: the Sacraments

Common misunderstandings:
1. “I was baptized Lutheran/Catholic or Christened Methodist, etc”
2. The amount of water is what is important

Important Questions...

Who’s idea was Baptism?
What makes Baptism—Baptism?
Who is Baptism for?

II. What About Baptism? The Promise of God

Mark 16:15-16
[15] And he said to them, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. [16] Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.

What gifts or benefits does Baptism bestow?
It works forgiveness of sins, delivers from death and the devil, and gives everlasting salvation to all who believe, as the word and promise of God declare.
What is this word and promise of God?
It is the word of our Lord Jesus Christ, as recorded in the last chapter of Mark: “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; be that does not believe shall be condemned.”
Taken from Luther’s Small Catechism Part 4 Question 2.

Deliverance and Salvation tied to Baptism in Scripture.
A. Old Testament Parallels:
1. Noah: 1 Peter 3:18-21.
2. Moses and the Israelites: 1 Cor. 10.1-2:

New Testament teaching:
1. Colossians 1:13-14.
“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
2. Ephesians 5.14

Important Question: I thought salvation was by faith alone in God’s grace alone? This sounds like our work of Baptism saves us? Isn’t there a conflict here? Important answer:

III. What About Baptism? The Power of God

Saved by GRACE ALONE through FAITH ALONE apart from “works done by us in righteousness.” (Titus 3:4-5a)

Titus 3:4-7
[4] But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, [5a] he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy,

There are a bunch of questions that are tied together, and their answer is also tied together.

What about Infant Baptism? Because…
“I thought Faith Alone saves.” “Babies can’t have faith.” “Babies probably don’t even need it because they are innocent.”
Or, “What if my faith isn’t very strong.”

So… Why is baptism important? (Titus 3:5b)

Titus 3:5b
[5b]by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

The Nature of Faith:
Faith alone in God’s Grace alone in Christ alone saves. But, faith must cling to something. Faith must be directed to an object. Faith must receive something. Faith must have confidence in something. When you say, “I have faith.” The next question is “Faith in what? Or Who?” Some would wonder about the quality or quantity of their faith or someone else’s faith, and call into question salvation.

The command and promises of God are always there and true. Our faith isn’t. Our faith falters. God’s promise does not.

How can water do such great things?
It is not the water, indeed that does such great things, but the word of God, connected with the water, and for our faith which relies on that word of God. For without the word of God, it is simply water and no baptism. But when connected with the word of God, it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says to Titus, in the third chapter: “According to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, which He poured out upon us richly, through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, being justified by His grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” This is a faithful saying.
Taken from Luther’s Small Catechism Part 4 Question 3.

What about infant baptism?

1. Do they need salvation? Yes!
That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:6

Because we are sinful from conception—from the time we have genetic material—we are in need. Even a newborn NEEDS salvation. Every generation needs a regeneration

Titus 3:5 “Regeneration” “Renewal” apart from God and his means, we are dead-unregenerate.

2. What does the Bible say about Infant baptism?
Larry Christenson says, “We are like a student who comes to the house of one of his professors to ask a question, only to discover that the professor is “not available.” The Bible doesn’t command infant baptism anywhere, in fact we see many adult (believer) baptisms—though this is to be expected in any missionary context. Ole Hallesby points out that the Bible never commands the participation of women in the Lord’s supper, among many other things that the Bible is silent about (Council members, Sunday school, confirmation, ordination, church year, POTLUCK’S).
But, whole household’s baptized in Acts, and promise in Acts to “to your children.”

What does the Bible say about an infant and faith and salvation?
Turn to Luke 18:15-17.
v.15 “Brepho~” used of infants, also fetuses.
Matthew 18:1-3
Entrance to the kingdom is as a child! Not innocent like a child, but repentant like a child (Illustrate a repentant--needy baby)
James 4:6-10
But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." [7] Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. [8] Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. [9] Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. [10] Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Have you done that? True repentance is marked by desperation!

Mark 10:13-16
Whoever does not RECEIVE the Kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.

So the problem is not that infants don’t have the capabilities that adult do and therefore cannot participate in God’s means of saving us. IT is that adults must become as infants. Some of us better thank the Lord our parents brought us to Jesus as helpless babes, we might be too proud as adults. Now what?

If you or your family is unbaptized, would you seriously consider this message? We can meet this week.

If you are baptized, but have become comfortable in your lukewarmness, and feel self-sufficient, and filled with pride—repent! Go back and become an infant—helpless—desperate—dearly loved by Jesus!

IV. What About Baptism? The Purpose of God
1. Context: Romans 6:1a “What shall we say then?” ABOUT WHAT? Go back to Romans 5:18-21
5.18 Adam and Christ (Same with verse 19-21)
6.1 Libertinism? License to sin?
6.2 NO! I’m not talking about ignoring old Adam—hoping he will go away like that family member no one likes to talk about. Paul’s talking about killing him. He must die. We often treat sin from a fruit perspective. Prune and cut, when the problem is a root problem. Example of my painting van (bad body, paint, rust, but covered in a fresh coat of paint.)

Romans 6:1-4
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? [2] By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? [3] Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? [4] We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.

What does such Baptizing with water signify?
It signifies that the old Adam in us, together with all sins and evil lusts, should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance, and be put to death; and that the new man should daily come forth and rise, to live before God in righteousness and holiness for ever.

Where is it so written?
St. Paul, in the sixth chapter of the Epistle to the Romans, says, “We were buried therefore with him through baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we also might walk in newness of life.”
Taken from Luther’s Small Catechism Part 4 Question 4

“A Christian life is nothing else than a daily baptism, once begun and ever continued.” Martin Luther

What About Confession & Forgiveness

What About…Individual Confession & Forgiveness
Confession and Absolution

What is confession?
Answer: Confession consists of two parts. One is that we confess our sins.
The other is that we receive absolution or forgiveness from the confessor as from God himself, by no means doubting but firmly believing that our sins are thereby forgiven before God in heaven.

What sins should we confess?
Answer: Before God we should acknowledge that we are guilty of all manner of sins, even those of which we are not aware, as we do in the Lord’s Prayer. Before the confessor, however, we should confess only those sins of which we have knowledge and which trouble us.

What are such sins?
Answer: Reflect on your condition in the light of the Ten Commandments: whether you are a father or mother, a son or daughter, a master or servant; whether you have been disobedient, unfaithful, lazy, ill-tempered, or quarrelsome; whether you have harmed anyone by word or deed; and whether you have stolen, neglected, or wasted anything, or done other evil.

Here are the 10 Commandments:
The First
“You shall have no other gods.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.
Ask: Have I feared, loved, and trusted God above all things?

The Second
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not use his name to curse, swear, practice magic, lie, or deceive, but in every time of need call upon him, pray to him, praise him, and give him thanks.
Ask: Have I misused or abused God’s name in anyway. Have I rightly called upon him, prayed to him and praised and thanked him?

The Third
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not despise his Word and the preaching of the same, but deem it holy and gladly hear and learn it.
Ask: Have I regarded holy things as holy things? Have I listened and learnt the Word of God?

The Fourth
“Honor your father and your mother.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not despise our parents and superiors, nor provoke them to anger, but honor, serve, obey, love, and esteem them.
Ask: Have I honored, served, loved, and obeyed my parents and others in authority over me?

The Fifth
“You shall not kill.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not endanger our neighbor’s life, nor cause him any harm, but help and befriend him in every necessity of life.
Ask: Have I endangered my neighbor’s life in any way? Have I stolen abundant life from them in any way? Have I participated in or been an accomplice in the taking of human life from the point of conception to natural death? Have I helped and befriended my neighbor as I ought?

The Sixth
“You shall not commit adultery.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should lead a chaste and pure life in word and deed, each one loving and honoring his wife or her husband.
Ask: Have I led a chaste and pure life? Have I honored my marriage vows? Have I honored my call to singleness? Have I viewed graphic or pornographic material? Have I loved and respected my spouse?

The Seventh
“You shall not steal.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not rob our neighbor of his money or property, nor bring them into our possession by dishonest trade or by dealing in shoddy wares, but help him to improve and protect his income and property.
Ask: Have I robbed my neighbor of anything? Have I been involved in any dishonest or shoddy financial practice? Have I stolen from the Lord through neglecting to give back to him in Christian stewardship?

The Eighth
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not tell lies about our neighbor, nor betray, slander, or defame him, but should apologize for him, speak well of him, and interpret charitably all that he does.
Ask: Have I lied about my neighbor? Have I spoken well about my neighbor and put the best construction on all s/he has said or done?

The Ninth
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not seek by craftiness to gain possession of our neighbor’s inheritance or home, nor to obtain them under pretext of legal right, but be of service and help to him so that he may keep what is his.

The Tenth
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”
What does this mean?
Answer: We should fear and love God, and so we should not abduct, estrange, or entice away our neighbor’s wife, servants, or cattle, but encourage them to remain and discharge their duty to him.
Ask: Have I been crafty in seeking what is my neighbor’s? Have I been of service to my neighbor? Have I encouraged those who are under his/her charge to remain faithful?

Please give me a brief form of confession.

Penitent [P]: “Dear [Brother or Sister], please hear my confession and declare that my sins are forgiven for God’s sake.”

Confessor [C] “Proceed.”

[P] “I, a poor sinner, confess before God that I am guilty of all sins. In particular I confess in your presence that, ….For all this I am sorry and pray for grace. I mean to do better.”

(If, however, anyone does not feel that his conscience is burdened by such or by greater sins, he should not worry, nor should he search for and invent other sins, for this would turn confession into torture; he should simply mention one or two sins of which he is aware. For example, “In particular I confess that I once cursed. On one occasion I also spoke indecently. And I neglected this or that,” etc. Let this suffice. If you have knowledge of no sin at all (which is quite unlikely), you should mention none in particular, but receive forgiveness upon the general confession which you make to God in the presence of the confessor.)

[C] “God be merciful to you and strengthen your faith. Amen. Do you believe that this forgiveness is the forgiveness of God?”

[P] “Yes, I do.”

[C] “Be it done for you as you have believed. According to the command of our Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Go in peace.”

(A confessor will know additional passages of the Scriptures with which to comfort and to strengthen the faith of those whose consciences are heavily burdened or who are distressed and sorely tried.)

From Martin Luther’s Small Catechism