Archive for May, 2016

Jesus and our Humanity

May 26th, 2016
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Last week we saw the relationship of Jesus to Israel – the womb of the incarnation and we saw the relationship between God and Jesus Christ.

 Today we want to focus on the relationship between Jesus and our humanity.

 The humanity of Jesus Christ means that God has acted among us as man. That is a staggering claim.

 We heard that in

 1 John1:1-4

 1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. 2 The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. 3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. 4 We write this to make our joy complete.

 When Jesus speaks –although in human terms – it is God’s word we hear.

 If reconciliation or atonement is to be real, it must take place from the side of humanity if we are to be reconciled to God; yet, it must also take place from the side of God if it is to be effective.

 2 Corinthians 5:18-21

 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

So respond to what he has done for you. Live in this new reality that is in Christ.

Jesus Christ, who is both Son of God and son of Mary, fulfils the covenant, both from the side of God and from the side of humanity.

 The incarnate Son is no mere agent of reconciliation. Atonement is not what Jesus “does”; it is what he “is.”

 There is an unbroken unity between the person and work of Jesus Christ.

 When the Word became flesh he came for our atonement.

 Jesus Christ entered into our fallen humanity in order to bend the rebellious human mind and will back to God in reconciling union, recreating the new Adam in himself.So we see that atonement is not just forgiveness but recreating mankind from within.

 2 Corinthians 8:9

 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

 Christ takes our poverty in order to give us his riches. Christ becomes what we are that we might become what he is.

 What motivates this atonement exchange? His love for us.

 The love of God is unlimited and inexhaustible.

 Colossians 1:15-20

 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

Jesus already has a grip on us as our Creator. He already owns us in that sense.

17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

This is the double grip Jesus has on our lives: he is Creator and Sustainer, but now also Redeemer.

This is who has united himself to creation. Thus, all things, including all human beings without exception, are in their existence now and forever bound up in the Word who became flesh, Jesus Christ.

 All human beings whether they know it or not have their present existence and future made for them in Jesus Christ. Who he is becomes the most important belief statement we make.

 The question all humans face ultimately: Do we live out of what he has done for us or do we deny the truth of our existence?

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May Church Matters

May 20th, 2016
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The May Church Matters is now available.

In this issue we update about our support for Nepal and Bangladesh, photos from Burundi,  news of our young adults in PNG, the theological books given to the Bible Society, a church engagement celebration.

To view please click  ChurchMatters2016-05.


Who is Jesus?

May 16th, 2016
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I would like to begin a series on a most encouraging teaching that turns upside down our natural religious instincts.

 I define natural religious instincts as our efforts to draw closer to God and please him. And these can be varied and deeply held as part of who we are. One has to be very careful about disagreements over religion. There can be a lot of emotion and self identity involved.

 Effectively religion is trying to overcome the anxiety behind the two fundamental questions in our relationship with God: is he with us and if he is, is he for us?

 What do I mean turn upside down? Our natural religious instincts focus on what we do to get God on our side. We sometimes think we have to do more to make sure we can answer in the positive.

 A teaching that actually reverses this—it is something that comes to us from above- is the teaching on our union with Christ. That can sound very abstract, almost impractical, more of a good feel. But it is intensely practical, affecting every aspect of our lives.

 We will be talking about something only Jesus can achieve for us and in us. Individual Christians and the Church are to recognize that our true nature and purpose is an existence centred with Christ in God.

 This becomes the source of all our faith and obedience. It flows as a joyful and thankful sharing in and with the living Christ in his own mission and ministry.

 How often we have felt like the anonymous small boy with his fives loaves and two fishes facing the impossible task of feeding at least 5000 men. The understanding of the union with Christ reality gives us a true confidence. It is not about us or even primarily dependent on us. We are joining in what the living Christ is about.

 I will be drawing material from Gary Deddo’s recent series on union with Christ in a couple of weeks, but before I do that I will be using insights from Mohan Jayasekera’s recent treatise for Princeton, from where he received his PhD.

 In these introductory message we want to establish that God becoming flesh is the “controlling centre” for the Christian doctrine of God. Our knowledge of God must come from this revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The Creator becomes joined to his creation.

 We will look at Jesus Christ within three specific interrelations 1) with historical Israel, 2) with God and 3) with humanity.

 Today we will look a the first two.

1) Ancient Israel has been described as the “womb of the incarnation.”

 In order for Israel to know God, its communal life and worship had to be transformed. Therefore, God provided Israel a liturgical system of sacrifice and worship, so that a sinful people could come before God forgiven and purified in their covenant partnership and set apart in their priestly mission to the world.

 This was indeed a high calling.

 For Israel to know God, its previous pagan mind, had to be burned away by the searing light of divine revelation in order for it to be the bearer of the oracles of God.

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