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If Not Now, When? (2 Part Video)

August 28, 2014 Leave a comment

The ACELC

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In the Name – Dr Scott Murray – Memorial Moments

July 18, 2014 Leave a comment

Psalm 8

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babes and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (ESV)

In the Name

Friday of Pentecost 5

18 July 2014

Some years ago, a missionary working in villages of Africa where Islam was making some incursions happened upon a community of people who were anxious to hear his proclamation of Christ. He preached and taught the people for some time. Since they received his preaching with joy, he suggested that they should be baptized into the triune name. Upon his mention of baptism, their joyous reception of his preaching came to a screeching halt. He asked them why they were reluctant to receive baptism into the Christ he had taught them. They patiently explained to him that they would have none of this baptism business until he fully explained what they were being baptized into. They told him that Muslim missionaries had been among them some years before and that they too offered a ritual washing to initiate them into Islam, to which they assented. But after being washed, only then did the Muslim missionaries reveal the full meaning of the religion into which they had been initiated. No, these people took baptism seriously and they understood that being baptized set them into the full religious universe of that into which they were baptized. They weren’t going to be tricked by a religious “bait and switch” again. Of course, the Christian missionary rejoiced to hear this and catechized these people into the full faith of our confession. The people were duly baptized into the triune name after being instructed and confessing the faith that they had been taught.

Baptism as a rite of religious cleansing is not new with Christianity. We know that the Jewish monastic community called Essenes performed multiple ritual cleansings, perhaps daily bathing as a sign of cleansing from sin. Jewish missionaries used a baptism to initiate whole families into the Jewish community when Gentiles were converted. This we call “Jewish proselyte baptism.” This baptism was the background of the command of Jesus to His disciples to “go and baptize” (Mt 28:19). Heretical Christian communities retained baptism, although they mean something quite different from the church when they name God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Even those religious communities that have specifically and intentionally rejected the holy Trinity still often “baptize” in some three-fold formula: “in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, etc.;” including even some Unitarians.

Unfortunately, old line Protestant churches in America are increasingly not only adopting baptismal formulas only heretics could endorse, but worse yet are teaching a doctrine of God that simply contradicts God’s self-revelation in Christ. It is quite jarring to hear a so-called Lutheran address prayer to “our mother,” and know full well that this prayer is not addressed to the mother of God, Mary, but to the deity who seems to be having “gender issues.” Does the baptismal formula then become “in the name of the father/mother, son/daughter, and spirit, and um, what have you”? Could we start calling God “LeBron”? Oh, wait, some people already are! If names don’t matter, then what’s the difference? We are so desperate to affirm every mania that we forget about God’s self-revelation in His eternal Son, Christ our Lord.

What would a trinitarian baptism mean in a church where the holy Trinity is not taught according to the divine self-revelation, but is rejected outright? If God could be addressed as “our mother,” as validly as our Father what does it mean if there is a baptism “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” within such a context? Is that baptism valid? Do the words Father and Son morph into something else when used this way? God has graciously made Himself known by offering into our hands His name. In our wickedness and unbelief we have begun to call Him names that He has not given to us. God has graciously set His name into our hands in the rite of baptism. In the giving of His name He gives Himself and all His blessings. What right do we have to change it? If we do, will we lose Him and His blessings?

Athanasius of Alexandria

“If the consecration of baptism is given to us into the name of the Father and the Son, and the Arians do not confess a true Father, because they deny what is from Him and like His essence, and deny also the true Son, and name another of their own framing as created out of nothing like any other creature, is not the rite administered by them altogether empty and unprofitable, making a show, and in reality being no help towards religion? For the Arians do not baptize into Father and Son, but into Creator and creature, and into Maker and work. And as a creature is other than the Son, so the baptism, which is supposed to be given by them, is other than the truth, though they pretend to name the name of the Father and the Son, because of the words of Scripture. For not he who simply says, ‘O Lord,’ gives Baptism; but he who with the name also has the right faith. On this account therefore our Savior also did not simply command to baptize, but says, ‘Teach;’ then thus: ‘Baptize into the name of Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit’ (Mt 28:19-20); that the right faith might follow upon learning, and together with faith might come the consecration of baptism.

“There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in a right sense, as I have said, nor with sound faith (2Ti 4:3; Tit 1:9), and in consequence the water which they administer is unprofitable, as deficient in piety, so that he who is sprinkled by them is polluted by irreligion rather than redeemed. So Gentiles also, though the name of God is on their lips, incur the charge of atheism, because they know not the real and true God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Athanasius of Alexandria, Four Discourses Against the Arians, 2.42-43

Kyrie, Eleison! – Dr Scott Murray

April 30, 2014 Leave a comment

Excerpts:

Our enemy will never give up. If old-fashioned subversion to perversion will not suffice, our enemy will attempt to convert the church and these days he appears to be succeeding. The church is being sucked into the culture’s ever deepening depravity and into the swirling decline of the West. Our enemy is piping us into the open sewer of self-centeredness, so that I think I am free to do whatever is right in my own eyes (Deut 12:8). Now, however, the church is offering to cover up this deterioration by calling such wickedness good. In the ultimate Nietzschian transvaluation of values, the church has called, in a monstrous perversion of language, “loving” and “monogamous” what God has forbidden and called “shameless acts” (Rm 1:24-27). But there is no possibility of a love that runs counter to the love that God has established in the faithful and holy unity of husband and wife in marriage, the Bible’s monogamy. Our enemy has gotten us to commit suicide, as Malcolm Muggeridge warned the people of the West in the previous century. Simply stated, we are calling evil good and good evil.

The so-called church is turning the theology of the cross on its head. The church should be calling evil evil, so that God Himself can turn evil on its head in Christ, who takes evil into Himself and dies for it. But there can be no forgiveness through the blood of the crucified unless there are still sinful acts. Why should we seek forgiveness when we can theorize away our sin? Every human heart has the tendency to define down deviancy. Our wickedness would prefer to be called good, rather than precipitate that dreaded repentance. However, what good is the power to forgive, power given to the church, if the church’s children see no need for it? What if the earthly good and our knowledge of it become our own knowledge God; our entire knowledge of God? What if our own interpretation of the natural revelation begins to trump the divine self-revelation in Scripture? The very warning sounded by Karl Barth against Nazi-dominated Germany in the 1930s ought to be sounded again over against the imposition of the politically correct sexual lunacy in the first decade of the 21st century. The transcendent must not be reduced to immanence. The creation is not god. A decisive “no” to human self-indulgence is worth expressing in every generation. We must be wrong, so that God might be our only righteousness. Lord, do not treat us as our sins deserve, but according to Your mercy.

Martin Luther said that the theologian of the cross only sees God’s back, that is, the incarnation of God in Christ born of Mary. When we see by our own power, no matter how reasonable things seem, we are in jeopardy of not seeing. When we are telling God, rather than letting him tell us what His creation means, and us in it, then we are telling the potter how to shape the clay (Is 29:11-19). The worst possible transvaluation of values results; God becomes us and we become God. Woe unto us, for we are a poor, even perverse god. The report of the death of church bodies, upon which the tower of homosexuality fell, should lead us to deep repentance, for we are not better. Without repentance, we too will all perish. God takes the hole that that grief-filled repentance creates in our hearts and stakes the life of Christ the crucified within it. Only in that suffering of true repentance will the theology of the cross become real. There can be no accommodation of sin, only repentance. Kyrie, Eleison!

Isaiah 29:11-19

And the vision of all this has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed. When men give it to one who can read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” And when they give the book to one who cannot read, saying, “Read this,” he says, “I cannot read.” And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Ah, you who hide deep from the LORD your counsel, whose deeds are in the dark, and who say, “Who sees us? Who knows us?” You turn things upside down! Shall the potter be regarded as the clay, that the thing made should say of its maker, “He did not make me”; or the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”? Is it not yet a very little while until Lebanon shall be turned into a fruitful field, and the fruitful field shall be regarded as a forest? In that day the deaf shall hear the words of a book, and out of their gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind shall see. The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the LORD, and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.(ESV)

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Categories: Catechesis, Right Worship

Nobody Expects the Premillennial Dispensational Inquisition – Pr Jonathan Fisk – Worldview Everlasting

March 22, 2014 Leave a comment

Categories: Catechesis

Why You Should Remain Lutheran – It’s All About Conscience – Pr. William Weedon

February 15, 2014 Leave a comment

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Categories: Catechesis

In Your Anger, Do Not Nephilim – Jonathan Fisk

February 11, 2014 Leave a comment
Categories: Catechesis, Right Worship

Who He Is – Dr Scott Murray – Memorial Moments

January 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Who He Is

Christian people sometimes seem stumped when some sly person asserts that the Bible never directly calls Jesus God. Of course, this is a lie on the face of it (1Jn 5:20; Tit 2:13; 2Pt 1:1; Jude 25). However, there do seem to be too few direct references to the divinity of the Son in the Bible. But, even if it were true that the Bible does not directly call Jesus God, it almost doesn’t matter. The works the Savior does are none other than the works of God. What He does for us tells us who He is. Perhaps you know someone who has an advanced academic degree, such as a Ph.D., who continually insists on being called “Doctor.” He stands on the ceremony of his name or title. This strikes most people as more than a little pompous. Plenty of Ph.D.s never live up to their title, because, although Doctor means “teacher,” they couldn’t teach their way out of a paper bag. We would prefer a true teacher to a Ph.D. in our child’s classroom, especially if the Ph.D. cannot teach and is no true doctor.

Jesus will not stand on ceremony. The Bible spends little time crowing about divine titles. Jesus is the true teacher, who acts to save his people from their sins (Mk 10:45). The Bible, unlike modern praise choruses, spends little time praising God, instead it focuses almost exclusively on proclaiming the divine work of Christ for the salvation of the world. He is the Savior we need, who talks little about himself and does much. He seeks not his own honor and glory, but our good, our salvation, our righteousness before God, and our eternal life. Jesus spends no time saying, “Hey, look at me! I’m God.” In fact, during most of His ministry, He commands the people not go about trumpeting the fact that God has come into the world in His person (Mk 7:36). This is the very message that threatened the mission and ministry that God had planned to carry out. Jesus had no desire to be acclaimed God so that He could be carried off on the shoulders of the crowd like a footballer who has just scored the championship goal.

Jesus is about doing the works of the One who sent Him. If you look at what He has done for you, you will have no doubt who He is. Go where the Lord of glory offers Himself into crucifixion for you, you will see into the heart of God. Look into the sorrow streaming eyes of the Son of God hanging on the cross’s wood; you will see your salvation. The crown of thorns pressed upon Him by the weight of the world’s sin crush from His head now wounded delicate rivulets of blood upon His temples. Only God was crucified for you. Only God looked with sorrowing eyes upon you. Only God bore the weight of your sins. What He does tells you who He is.

Categories: Catechesis, Right Worship