Living within God’s New Paradigm of Faith

BLCF: the-cross

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

Living within God’s New Paradigm of Faith’ 

 © April 27, 2014 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF: Bulletin April 27, 2014

BLCF: paradigm_shift

 

Announcements and Call to Worship: Responsive Reading #668

(The New Life – Colossians 3); r of Prayer)) Prayer 

Opening Hymn: #1 Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty                                                                   

Scripture Verses:Genesis 2:5-7, Acts 2:1-4, Acts 2:22-33

 

Let us pray…

Before the time of Christ, because of sin, and in order to worship God, people practiced a religion filled with good works, sacrifices to God for transgressions and communicating to God through such intermediaries as holy prophets or priests. Worship involved performing visible, tangible actions to honour God.

Through Jesus, God reveals His New Paradigm for His relationship with His people. Let us review the definition and usage of  paradigm, let us consult dictionary.com:

par·a·digm /ˈpærəˌdaɪm, -dɪm/ Show Spelled [par-uh-dahym, -dim] noun 

an example serving as a model; pattern. Synonyms:mold, standard; ideal, paragon, touchstone.

 framework containing the basic assumptions, ways of thinking, and methodology that are commonly accepted by members of a scientific community.

such a cognitive framework shared by members of any discipline or group: the company’s business paradigm.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/paradigm

 

BLCF: paradigm-shift-cartoon

 

To  better understand paradigm, let us use some visual aids found in today’s bulletin. In the middle of the  first page, just below the Order of Service are scrabble letters arranged to make the words “paradigm and shift” formed in the shape of a cross. If you look at the illustration one way, you see a term representing a change in way of thinking, at the same time it is set in the shape of the cross, which reminding us of how Jesus removed humanity’s judgement for sin and restoring our souls before God our father.

To the right of the “Paradigm Shift Cross” in the bulletin is a drawing that from one perspective appears to be a woman whose eyes are closed having what appears to be a bad hair day. When viewed differently, the drawing seems to be that of a person in a white parka at the entrance to a dark tunnel or cave.

 

BLCF: parka or face gif

 

On the bottom of the right inside page are a series of other paradigm graphics which can be interpreted to represent one thing or another, depending upon your point of view.

 

BLCF: paradigms                                   BLCF: paradigm_perspective                                   BLCF: paradigmperspectives

 

The first time I walked into this church some years ago,  I had expected to enter a small sanctuary based upon the perspective of the front of the building. The front hallway seemed to support  the expectation that the church being a small space. As you go from the hallway to the narthex, the interior space opens up. Still, you are impressed and surprised at the relatively large size of the sanctuary of the church. Unless you have been informed in advance in regard to the size and appearance of the church, you have to adopt a new paradigm or mindset to comprehend its actual structure.

 

BLCF Church 1

BLCF Church 5

 

As Christians, we are expected to adopt a new paradigm in regard to the Trinity of our God. On the top of the inside of the bulletin, beside the Order of Service header is a graphic representation of the Godhead or Holy Trinity that helps us to understand, as best we can, that God consists of a Father, His Son – Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

BLCF: Godhead_Holy_Trinity

 

Each is distinct from the other, and each is God. Non-Christians may have difficulty accepting this description of the Holy Trinity, even though it is no more a paradigm shift than the world needed to have when they discarded the flat earth paradigm in favour of the world being a round sphere. A similar paradigm shift was required to accept the fact that the sun, moon and stars did not revolve around the earth. Both of these paradigms run contrary to our perception of how we normally observe the world around us.

 

 

BLCF: paradigm-shift

 

Last Sunday, we discussed how Jesus implemented the new paradigm  for humanity’s relationship with God, by removing the stigma for humanity’s sins, by taking upon himself our judgement and punishment. At Christ’s first appearance in the Upper Room, we see in John 20, that he commissioned the disciples, sending them to go forth, as the Father in heaven had sent him. And knowing that he was soon to ascend to heaven, Jesus breathed upon them the Holy Spirit of God to help the  twelve, implement his Commission, which is why we now refer to them as apostles or messengers of Christ. As believers in the resurrected Christ, we too are expected to serve as his apostles.

BLCF: e_the_holy_spirit

 

As messengers of his gospel of forgiveness, sanctification, and following Pentecost, as apostles of Christ, we are also vessels of the Holy Spirit, sharing God’s New Paradigm is the New Covenant, which not only includes salvation and the gift of the Holy Spirit, but the promise of our own resurrection. In addition to the New Covenant, we have been given the same Commission we are Christ’s apostles  and therefore given the same assignment given to the twelve in that Upper Room some two thousand years ago: sharing Christ’s gospel unto the ends of the earth.

 

BLCF: trinity_yuyu

 

The most important part of this passage, which all Christians who did not live in the time when Christ walked before his crucifixion should note, are the words that were spoken by Jesus to Thomas, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

 

BLCF: Breath returned - Worship

 

Why is there the need for a New Covenant or any Covenant at all? Over the last few weeks, we examined how God created the universe: the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth and all life and had judged it to be good. Then the Creator made the first man from the earth and brought life to him by breathing into his nostrils, “the breath of life”, as we read in Genesis 2:5-7.

 

Genesis 2:5-7 (ESV)

BLCF: breath-of-life

When no bush of the field[a] was yet in the land[b] and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist[c] was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Footnotes: a. Genesis 2:5 Or open country b. Genesis 2:5 Or earth; also verse 6 c. Genesis 2:6 Or spring

According to Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve were made living creatures, created by God, in His image. And we discussed how both Adam and Eve were beguiled by Satan, posing as a serpent, to break God’s rule “not to eat from the forbidden fruit”, as Satan had promised that they would have the knowledge of God. This was the fall from the grace of God.

 

BLCF: Adam_Eve

 

Following the fall of Adam and Eve, we are aware of Adam and Eve’s judgement to be evicted by God from the Garden of Eden, to suffer death and other hardships for all subsequent generations. In a fit of jealousy, Cain killed his brother, Abel. Eventually sin became so widespread upon the earth that God decided to do a reset by make a Great Flood to destroy all life,  as we read in Genesis 7:21-24.

Genesis 7:21-24 (ESV)

BLCF: s-Chapter-8-A-Dove-Is-Sent-Forth-from-the-Ark

21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind. 22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died. 23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark. 24 And the waters prevailed on the earth 150 days.

God’s judgement was to reset His creation back to Day #4, but instead of recreating life, he had Noah construct the Ark to carry the his animals, as well as Noah’s extended family above the flooded world. And like the third day of creation, God parted the land from the sea so that the dwellers of the Ark could begin life anew.

You may note that in both our Scriptures from Genesis that God breathed life into the nostrils of Adam, to make him a living creature, but in Genesis 7:22-23, that the flood had removed the breath of life from everything on dry land, not only people, but “animals, creeping things and birds of the air. From these verses it is safe to infer that God’s breathed life into humanity, animals, creatures and birds.

 

BLCF:-breath_of_god-aa1

 

But Genesis indicates that man and woman were created in God’s own image. We were given a soul. But the soul of humanity, even the descendants of Noah, carry the tarnish of the sin from the Garden of Eden. Through Moses God had brought humanity His laws, but the laws by themselves do not remove the sin. And even Adam and Eve, who had only one law to follow, were tempted to break that law. If I were to post on a wall a sign “ Don’t Touch! – Wet Paint”, how many people would be tempted to challenge the posting a touch the wall?

 

dont-touch-wet-paint

 

 

This is quite a dilemma, because the separation from God is more a result of the guilt and shame of the sinner than a result of God’s desire to be apart from us. And self-loathing can be as harsh a judgement as any.  How is possible for sinners be reconciled with God? God loves his creation and waits for the prodigals to return. But how can the corruption of the sinner’s soul caused by sin be cleansed, so that we may live with God for eternity? The Pharisee, Nicodemus, asked the Lord the same question, which we find in John 3:1-8.

 

John 3:1-8 (ESV) You Must Be Born Again

Nicodemus and Jesus

Nicodemus and Jesus

3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

Footnotes: a. John 3:2 Greek him b. John 3:3 Or from above; the Greek is purposely ambiguous and can mean both again and from above; also verse 7 c.John 3:6 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit d. John 3:7 The Greek for you is plural here e. John 3:8 The same Greek word means both wind and spirit

 

BLCF: spirit to the people

 

In this passage, Jesus talks about being “born again” in the Spirit. When a baby is born, the first thing it must do is take in a breath of air. The air is unseen, but brings life. And like the air, the Holy Spirit brings new life. This is God’s New Paradigm. Where the Ark built by Noah had preserved the life God created, the Holy Spirit, as a second breath from the Lord, restores the soul. And the only way that we may receive the Holy Spirit is by Way of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which cleansed our souls from the corruption of the soul caused by sin.

That Jesus came and died to remove the death penalty for sin that everyone faces removes the impossible expectation of being perfect and sinless under law, as well as constantly offering sacrifices for sins committed on a regular basis. Architect Richard Buckminster Fuller expressed it very well, when he wrote:

 

BLCF:Richard-Buckminster-Fuller-fighting-change-reality

 

The arrival of the Holy Spirit upon believers as a breath from Christ is first described in John 20:19-23, where the Lord appeared to the disciples on the evening of the day of his resurrection.

 

John 20:19-23 (ESV) Jesus Appears to the Disciples

BLCF: tissot-the-appearance-of-christ-at-the-cenacle

19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews,[a] Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

Footnotes: a. John 20:19 Greek Ioudaioi probably refers here to Jewish religious leaders, and others under their influence, in that time

Before he breathed the Holy Spirit upon the disciples, the Lord gave them the great Commission to share his Gospel. Then Jesus breathed upon the now apostles or messengers, the Holy Spirit of God.

 

BLCF: Great_Commission

 

The next act of Pentecost occurred again in the same Upper Room, after the Lord had ascended to heaven. Again, the Lord reminded the apostles of his Commission to spread his Gospel unto the ends of the world.in Acts 1:6-9.

 

Acts 1:6-9 (ESV) The Ascension

BLCF: TheAscension

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

The twelve apostles, including Matthias who was chosen to replace Judas, were not the only apostles or messengers of Christ.  For all who receive Christ as Lord and Saviour are also elected as his apostles and are expected to share the good news of his gifts of salvation, resurrection and the Holy Spirit, as we read in Acts 2:1-4.

 

Acts 2:1-4 (ESV) The Coming of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Pentecost

 

2 When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested[a] on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:3 Or And tongues as of fire appeared to them, distributed among them, and rested

God’s New Paradigm, which is expressed in the gospel of Christ that we as his apostles are instructed to share, is provided in Acts 2:22-33.

 

Acts 2:22-33 (ESV)

BLCFcrucified_with_christ

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus,[a] delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. 25 For David says concerning him,

“‘I saw the Lord always before me,     

for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken;

26 therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced;     

my flesh also will dwell in hope.

27 For you will not abandon my soul to Hades,    

 or let your Holy One see corruption.

28 You have made known to me the paths of life;    

 you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’

29 “Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 30 Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing.

Footnotes: a. Acts 2:23 Greek this one

As I shared earlier in this message, the greatest barrier keeping people from God is not from Him, but caused more by our own guilt, shame and remorse. How can one carry Jesus Second Commandment, expressed in Galatians 5:13-14, to love one’s neighbor as oneself if that person is unhappy with his or herself?

 

Galatians 5:13-14 (ESV)

blcf_Commandments

 

13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we truly trust in the Lord and the Holy Spirit, trust in the unseen, we have confidence that Jesus will be with us in the Spirit and that we will see him when he returns, John 14:15-21.

 

John 14:15-21 (ESV) Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Spirit sent

 

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

Footnotes: a. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7 b. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is

Therefore, as believers in the resurrected Christ, let us seek to both understand and to live within God’s New Paradigm of Faith, provided by His Son, Jesus. For where the Creator first breathed life into the nostrils of humanity to give us life, Jesus – by way of his sacrifice on the cross – cleansed the souls of humanity, by removing the tarnish of sin, and breathed the breath of the Holy Spirit, making believers vessels of the Spirit. And as vessels of the Holy Spirit, we have the gifts, power and ability to share Jesus’ Gospel, which Jesus gave to all believers, as apostles as a Great Commission.

BLCF: paradigm-shift

 

Through Jesus, the price and judgment levied upon humanity for sin has been paid in full. God’s New Paradigm, through Jesus, removes humanity’s sin before God and allows humanity to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, in order to share the Lord’s Gospel, and to be cleansed of guilt and shame. This is really God’s vision for out life in Jesus.

 

gods-vision

 

 

Let us pray…

Closing Hymn: #276 In the Stars His Handiwork I See                                                      

Benediction – Romans 15:13:

 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

 

BLCF: All things made new

Advertisements

The Word by Name is Jesus Christ

Word made flesh

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘The Word by Name is Jesus Christ’                                                                                                                                                                © July 14, 2013, by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin July 14, 2013

 

Let us pray…

To begin this morning’s lesson, I would like to repeat the verses 1 and 14 from Chapter 1 of John 1:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

We read in this short passage, consisting of only two relatively short verses, John using the proper pronoun ‘Word’ no less than four times. Or should I say more precisely ‘the Word’.  The Word was there in the beginning, that is to say, existing at the time of Creation. And the Word was there with God, the Creator of everything.  That is because the Word was God. Then the Word became flesh and dwelt among us as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Sounds a little like the Game of Jeopardy, where the players are given an answer and must phrase a question to match the corresponding question. In this case, our question might be phrased as: “Who was Jesus Christ?”

Yet, there are many people, including many Christians, who would incorrectly attempt to match with the definition of the Word, the question: “What is the Bible?”

When you stop and think about it, it seems quite silly to imagine that a Book, inspired by God, created for man just happened to be there, existing before Creation. That the Word is God was really the Scriptures or Bible, we must then view Godhead Trinity  as a quartet of sorts: Father, Son, Holy Spirit and Bible. And finally,  if “the Word became flesh” meant the Bible, then we have a description of a sort of ‘Illustrated Man of Scriptures’, to dwell amongst us, which is really twisting God’s message.

 

Word made flesh?

I believe that it is safe to conclude that the Word in John Chapter 1 does not refer to the Holy Scriptures. Besides, we need the presence of the Holy Spirit, to admonish and to convict us of the truth of the Scriptures, not vice versa. And this conviction will only happen after we  have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, with the help of the Holy Spirit.

What we can say about the John 1 passage is that Jesus, not the Bible, existed in another form at the time of the creation,  and before the creation. And that the Word is part of the Holy Trinity, who was with and is   God. It was later, that the Word took the form of human flesh, as Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who ministered to us, fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament, ultimately becoming a living sacrifice for all of humanity on the Cross and after ascending to Heaven sent a comforter to all who believe in the form of the Holy Spirit. The Bible did not send us the Holy Spirit.

By contrast, we have the Scriptures, or the Bible, as the inspired word (spelt with a lower case w) of God. So let us see what our Wiki bits, from the Wikipedia, say about the Greek word Logos, which we translate in English as the Word:

The Old Testament has given an essential contribution to the New Testament christological message for Christ as Logos, translated as the Word. The Word is with God from the beginning (Gen 1:1 John 1:1), powerfully creative (Gen 1:1-2:4 Isa 55:10-11 Ps 33:6,9;107:20 Judith 16:14) and God’s personified self-expression. Like wisdom,[28] the word expresses God’s active power and self-revelation in the created world. Solomon‘s prayer for wisdom takes word and wisdom as synonymous Even so, John’s prologue does not open by saying: “In the beginning was Wisdom, and Wisdom was with God, and Wisdom was God” (cf. John 1:1).[29]

Despite the fact that, in the literature of pre-Christian Judaism, wisdom, word, and, for that matter, spirit were “near alternatives as ways of describing the active, immanent power of God”,[30] there are several considerations to understand why John chose word and not wisdom. First, given that sophia (Greek for wisdom) was personified as Lady Wisdom (e.g., Prov 1:20-33;8:1-9:6 Wis 8:2), it could have seemed awkward to speak of this female figure “being made flesh” when Jesus was male. Second, in Hellenistic Judaism the law of Moses had been identified with wisdom (Sir 24:23 Bar 4:1-4) and credited with many of her characteristics.[31] To announce then that “Wisdom was God and was made flesh” could have been felt to suggest that “the Torah was God and was made flesh”. Within a few years Christians were to identify the Son of God and Logos with law or the law,[32] but, neither John nor any other New Testament authors identified Christ with the Torah.[33] Third, Paul, Luke (especially in Acts of the Apostles), and other New Testament witnesses prepared the way for John’s prologue by their use of logos for God’s revelation through Christ.[34]

Both in New Testament times and later, the Johannine “Word” offered rich christological possibilities. First the possibility of identification and distinction. On the one hand, words proceed from a speaker; being a kind of an extension of the speaker, they are, in a certain sense, identical with the speaker (“the Word was God”). On the other hand, a word is distinct from one who utters it (“the Word was with God”). Therefore, Christ was/is identified with, yet distinct from, YHWH. Second, God has been uttering the divine Word always (“in/from the beginning”); the Word “was” (not “came to be”) God. In this context “Word” opens up reflection on the personal, eternal pre-existence of the Logos-Son. God has never been without the Word.[35]

 

Footnotes:

  1. 1.       ^ The N.T. uses various strands from O.T. accounts of “wisdom” and uses them for Jesus: first, like wisdom, Christ pre-existed all things and dwelt with God John 1:1-2); second, the lyric language about wisdom being the breath of the divine power, reflecting divine glory, mirroring light, and being an image of God, appears to be echoed by 1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 24-5 (verses which associate divine wisdom with power), by Hebrew 1:3 (“he is the radiance of God’s glory”), John 1:9 (“the true light that gives light to everyone”), and Colossians 1:15 (“the image of the invisible God”). Third, the N.T. applies to Christ the language about wisdom’s cosmic significance as God’s agent in the creation of the world: “all things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:3; see Col 1:16 Heb 1:2). Fourth, faced with Christ’s crucifixion, Paul vividly transforms the notion of divine wisdom’s inaccessibility (1 Cor. 1:17-2:13). “The wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:21) is not only “secret and hidden” (1 Cor. 2:7) but also, defined by the cross and its proclamation, downright folly to the wise of this world (1 Cor. 1:18-25; see also Matt 11:25-7). Fifth, through his parables and other ways, Christ teaches wisdom (Matt 25:1-12 Luke 16:1-18, cf. also Matt 11:25-30). He is ‘greater’ than Solomon, the O.T. wise person and teacher par excellence (Matt 12:42). Sixth, the N.T. does not, however, seem to have applied to Christ the themes of Lady Wisdom and her radiant beauty. Pope Leo the Great (d. 461), however, recalled Proverbs 9:1 by picturing the unborn Jesus in Mary’s womb as “Wisdom building a house for herself” (Epistolae, 31. 2-3). There is, at any rate, a marked preference in N.T. for Logos as spoken word or rational utterance, despite the availability of this wisdom language and conceptuality, and John prefers to speak of “the Word” (John 1:1,14; cf. 1 John 1:1, Rev 19:13), a term that offers a rich complexity of meanings.
  2. 2.       ^ It is important to differentiate between the meaning and translation of Logos, as rendered by the various traditions and texts. This will be emphasized further in this section, following the studies of G. O’Collins, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus, OUP (1995), pp. 24-41; J.D.G. Dunn, Christology in the Making, SCM Press (1989), pp. 196-207, 230-9.
  3. 3.       ^ J.D.G. Dunn, Christology in the Making, cit., p. 196.
  4. 4.       ^ At least in one place (Isa 2:3) ‘word’ is associated with Torah.
  5. 5.       ^ Cf. Shepherd of Hermas, Similitudines, 8. 3. 2; St Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 43. 1 and see 11. 2.
  6. 6.       ^ The closest approach to such an identification is found in Gal 6:2 (‘the law of Christ’) and Rom 10:4 (if one adopts the more ‘positive’ translation, ‘Christ is the goal of the law’). For N.T. authors, Jesus replaces Torah and its attributes. Torah had been described in terms of light (Ps 119:105 Prov 6:23) and life (Ps 119:93 Prov 4:4,13). Now Jesus, especially in Johannine language, is the light of the world and the life of the world.
  7. 7.       ^ As Dunn, op. cit. pp. 230-9, rightly argues, the background for John’s choice of ‘word’ is also to be found in the earlier books of the N.T. and not just in the O.T., or other sources such as Philo, et al.; cf. also A. T. Lincoln, The Gospel According to St John, Continuum (2005), pp.94-8.
  8. 8.       ^ a b c Cf. G. O’Collins, Christology: A Biblical, Historical, and Systematic Study of Jesus, cit., pp. 24-41

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_Christ_the_Logos

 By definition, then the Word, like wisdom, expresses God’s active power and self-revelation in the created world. And to obtain wisdom and understanding in the Scriptures, we need the help of the Holy Spirit.

Still many people have the misguided impression that the Scriptures are the Word and therefore must be revered or worship. It is almost as if the Bible is worshiped by itself, which could be viewed as idolatry. Without faith and the Holy Spirit, the message in the Bible which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ is meaningless to non-believers in the resurrected Christ. The verses which support this statement (and some people, again, mistakenly believe refer to the word of Scriptures instead of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh are:

1 Corinthians 1:18 (ESV) Christ the Wisdom and Power of God     

 18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14 (ESV)           

 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

The world is filled with many who, through memorization, can recite Scriptures, but who as non-believers lack the understanding or discernment, provided by the Holy Spirit, to appreciate the Gospel message of Salvation or anything else that is of the Spirit of God.

While you recall from recent sermons, it was discussed how Satan distorts and twists the words of God, as he did to Adam and Eve in the garden promoting a desire to be on the same level of God. Sin was passed on to their descendants, which manifested in their son, a jealousy so strong that it led to Cain killing his brother, Abel.

But, Satan is not satisfied with destroying the faith and trust of non-believers. The devil seeks to destroy churches by creating dissention amongst the body of believers, as demonstrated by the zealots who follow the King James Only, treating one English translation of the original Greek and Hebrew Scriptures as the only true Word of God. Anything after King James is considered by this group to be heresy or the work of the devil. Sound familiar? You may recall that how the Pharisees used the Scriptures to promote their agenda and challenge Jesus, who after all being the Word made flesh is God.

There are many intelligent reasons why we need to have the Bible translated into other languages, including modern English, it goes back to that Tower of Babel that we discussed a few Sunday’s ago. Regardless of the language, the translation is foolishness to those who do not have the Holy Spirit to understand them. And considering Jesus’ Commandments to love God and love our neighbor, any theology that renders discord and division among the members of the body of Christ’s Church cannot be of the Spirit. By its very nature: to promote one group of people superior over others sounds very much like the temptation of the Garden of Eden all over again. The negative emotions it generates is like what Cain felt as described in Genesis 4, where God warned Cain that sin is crouching at the door:

Genesis 4:6-7 (ESV)

6 The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen? 7 If you do well, will you not be accepted?And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

The devil loves to see Christians preoccupied with precious time in debate and dissention instead of building the church body. But like the lesson of the Goats and Sheep in Matthew 25:31-46, we will be judged by how we behave to others. That is why we use Matthew 25 as the Mission Statement for our BLCF Cafe Community Dinner.

Those of you who have attended Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship for the last few years may recall such a zealot proponent of the King James Only disrupting sermons of Pastor Andrew, Pastor Don and me over the last couple of years by interrupting the message in an attempt to launch a debate with the speaker regarding his KJO campaign. Fortunately, by the Grace of the Spirit, the speakers were not drawn into transforming a service intended to worship and praise God into something that does neither. Our KJO friend attempted again to initiate a debate at the end of my message at last Wednesday’s Community Dinner. Realizing that a debate draws me from serving the Lord at the BLCF Cafe, I disengaged from Mr. KJO who wanted to disrupt Terry’s ministry in music.  But what does the Bible say about those who focus on debating theology over actions that help demonstrate the love and compassion of the Lord?

James 1:22-27 (ESV)

22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25 But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

26 If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. 27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

It is not surprising to find Satan attacking the body of believers in Christ’s own Church. The Apostle Luke gives warning in Acts 20:28-31 (ESV):

28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears.

But the danger is not only from such fringe groups, who seem happier with destroying God’s Church, rather than doing something constructive. The danger lies in the fact that members of these groups and those whom they draw into their debates are both body of the Church, which has Christ at its head. This brings us to the lesson taught by the Parable of the Two Sons, Matthew 21:23-32 (ESV):

The Authority of Jesus Challenged

23 And when he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came up to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus answered them, “I also will ask you one question, and if you tell me the answer, then I also will tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 The baptism of John, from where did it come? From heaven or from man?” And they discussed it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From man,’ we are afraid of the crowd, for they all hold that John was a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

   The Parable of the Two Sons

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.

The lesson of this parable is that tax collectors and prostitutes who are judged by the chief priests and elders as sinners will go to the kingdom of God because they have believed. And the self righteous chief priest and elders will not because they lack the conviction of faith to back their words.

The final bit of advice, comes from the epistle which scholars generally believe to have been authored by the Apostle Paul, who changed from a persecutor of Christians to convert to be as Christ’s Apostle, one of the greatest proponents of Christianity, found in Colossians 2:16-22 (ESV):

 Let No One Disqualify You

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions,puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?

As born-again believers in the resurrected Christ we must turn away from old beliefs and habits that do not glorify God or edify the body of believers. If we do find some aspects of our Christian walk that is not in line with Christ’s Commandments, like the Son who said that he would not work for his father and then changed his mind, we too can change by the grace of our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ and with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Word was God

Let us pray…

Hymn #240: Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord

Benediction (2 Corinthians 13:14):

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Trinity

Overcoming the World with the Help of the Holy Spirit

BLCF: Be The Change

Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship – BLCF Church Message for Sunday:

‘Overcoming the World with the Help of the Holy Spirit’

© May 5, 2013 by Steve Mickelson

BLCF Bulletin May 5, 2013

Let us pray…

This Communion Sunday, we shall see how God keeps believers in the Resurrected Christ on track both in our faith practices, and how He communicates to us. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, he promised the disciples that he would not leave of forsake us. For Jesus said that he would send us a Helper, in the form of the Holy Spirit, as we read in John 14:15-31 (ESV):

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

 15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,[a] to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be[b] in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Footnotes: a. John 14:16 Or Advocate, or Counselor; also 14:26; 15:26; 16:7 b. John 14:17 Some manuscripts and is

The Helper, or as some translation call an Advocate or a Counselor, being the same Holy Spirit that came upon Jesus after being baptised by John, the Baptist. This same Spirit of Truth came upon the disciples in the Upper Room on the day of Pentecost. Remember Pentecost refers to the number 50, being the number of days that Jesus walked between His resurrection and Ascension (which is 40) combined with the number of days between His Ascension and the day of Pentecost (being 10). The day when the promised Spirit came upon the followers of Christ is the same day most scholars attest to be the day the Christian Church was born.
Bloor Lansdowne Christian Fellowship - BLCF Church - Holy Spirit

The Holy Spirit is sent to those believers in Christ who have kept the Lord’s Commandments or Royal Law discussed last Sunday being as follows:
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. – Matthew 22:37-39 (ESV).

Golden Law

Golden Law

You will see that the John 14 passage tells us some characteristics if the Holy Spirit. Verse 17 indicates that it is the Spirit of truth. Interestingly, the preceding verse refers to the Holy Spirit as another helper, Christ being the other helper. Though each helper serving different functions. Christ came to atone for our sins by His crucifixion on the cross. And through His Resurrection from the grave, we believers are given the assurance of our own resurrection from the grave, as demonstrated by Christ.
But God, being wise and just, had planned for our need for continued guidance and direction by sending us the Holy Spirit. John 14:17 indicates that those without faith in the world can neither see nor know him. And while the world will no longer be able to see Jesus, believers will continue to see Christ’s presence by way of the Holy Spirit. Verse 25 indicates that the Spirit will teach us all things and bring to mind remembrance all the things Christ has spoken to us. We see that the Spirit is God’s way of communicating to His flock. Line 30 indicates that the ruler of the world, who is Satan, is coming. This is the same world whose ruler is Satan, can neither see nor know the Holy Spirit.

So how does receiving the Holy Spirit affect our way of life? We get an answer to this question in Paul’s Book of Romans 8:1-11 (ESV):

Life in the Spirit

8 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Footnotes: a. Romans 8:1 Some manuscripts add who walk not according to the flesh (but according to the Spirit) b. Romans 8:2 Some manuscripts me c. Romans 8:3 Or and as a sin offering d. Romans 8:11 Some manuscripts lack Jesus

Here in the first 11 verses of Romans 8, we see a distinction between those worldly people who live for and desire things of the flesh, living in sin verses believers in Christ, who also live in the Spirit. Romans 8:16 indicates that through the interaction between the Holy Spirit and our own spirit, we are considered to be children of God, Romans 8:16 (ESV):
 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God

Jesus and Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit and Christ

So we understand that God communicates to us through the Holy Spirit. But how are we able to communicate with God? The answer is found in Romans 8:26-28 (ESV):

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[a] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[b] for those who are called according to his purpose.

Footnotes: a. Romans 8:27 Or that b. Romans 8:28 Some manuscripts God works all things together for good, or God works in all things for the good

Godhead Holy Trinity

Godhead Trinity

The Spirit allows God to know our hearts, to understand our needs, and intercedes on our behalf, provided our prayers and petitions come from those who love God and accept His purpose and will in our lives.

But the Holy Spirit not only acts to facilitate between believers and God, but the Holy Spirit that raised Christ from death, we do the same for us who believe and follow the Way of the Lord, overcoming death, 1 John 5:1-12 (ESV):

Overcoming the World

5 Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Let me just interject here that the scripture reminds us of the Trinity Godhead, Jesus Christ is the Son God, baptised in water, receiving the Spirit, who shed his blood for our sins and was resurrected by the same Spirit. We are reminded of the Water of Life available to those who believe, as we continue in 1John5, verse 6:

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

6 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. 7 For there are three that testify: 8 the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. 9 If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Salvation through Christ

Salvation through Christ

So to receive salvation or forgiveness for our sins; resurrection from death which is the penalty for sin; and to receive the Holy Spirit to admonish, teach and comfort us, we must believe and accept Jesus Christ as Saviour. We must surrender to the authority of God, to restore the relationship that was broken by Adam and Eve, and thereby overcome the world or Satan. Both Satan and the world of unbelievers will suffer God’s Judgment, as we read in John 16:5-11 (ESV):

The Work of the Holy Spirit

5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.

Let us pray…

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Holy Communion

Communion

Communion, Luke 22:14-20:

Institution of the Lord’s Supper

14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.

Hymn #334: More Like Jesus Would I Be

Benediction, (2 Thessalonians 3:16):

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Peace through the Holy Spirit

Peace through the Spirit