Years ago, I asked a student minister to share his testimony with me. He was sitting across from me in local coffee shop. We were just getting to know each other. He told me how he read the right Bible in the right way. How he was baptized with right understanding, in the right mode. How he worshipped in the right church, with the right hierarchy, with the right acts of worship. I said, “That’s great. Could you say that again this time mentioning Jesus and his grace?” I am certain this is how many in my Christian tribe would tell their testimony today. Why? Because it was once how I told mine. Continue reading
Acts 9 is not a passage that was included in Luke’s writings to teach us about baptism. It is there to tell us about the profound conversion experience and calling of Saul (Paul) and it includes his baptism. Paul is met by Jesus on the road to Damascus and is forever changed. Paul meets Jesus and is told what to do by Ananias and all that happens; his persecution of followers of the Way, the bright light, the voice of Jesus, the blindness, the fasting, his new calling, and his baptism are all included in his testimony. Continue reading
Romans 6:1-7 (NIV) What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—7 because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Salvation is not limited to any temporal aspect. It is not limited to any specific time and place. Salvation is all encompassing. Salvation is through Jesus Christ and includes the past, present, and future. To help us connect salvation to the past we will refer to it as our justification. Salvation in the present is our sanctification and salvation in the future is our glorification.
A life without pain may mean that we have resigned to helplessness and hopelessness. A pain free life sounds great but it may be that we have grown numb or that we are self-medicating to stay numb. A pain free life may mean that we have also become numb to joy and love. In our efforts to avoid pain to try and spare ourselves from the worst, we may inadvertently choose to miss out on God’s best. Pain is a gift, but it is the gift that no one wants. We don’t want it because the problem with pain is that it cannot be switched off. Continue reading
One of the most important discoveries for me was the theological concept of imputed righteousness. When I was a preaching intern, I was instructed to write an essay on the topic. This teaching has tripped up many a Restorationist. I have had discussions with church members and ministers about the unearned nature of salvation and the way in which we are made righteous. After describing imputed righteousness, it is usually followed up with a “but.” The conversation then transitions to our need for obedience and if a person can lose their salvation.
After becoming a follower of Christ I was discipled to believe that the most essential elements in understanding the word of God was logic and common sense. A “plain reading” of the scripture would allow all people to come to the same conclusions and opinions. Any literate person on the planet could open the word of God and understand it. If they read it plainly they would come to the same “truths” as our tribe concerning how we do worship and the steps to salvation. People who discovered different “truths” were making a conscious effort to deny the plain truths found in God’s word. It was that black and white.