eternal ilfe


Christians-and-the-New-CreationBeginning the new year with Paul Minear and his book on metaphors of transitions in the New Testament: chapter 5, From One Covenant to Another.

When you think about it, this is by far the most important transition time in human history and therefore deserving of our best attention, especially at the beginning of another year of life on planet earth.

By examining twelve Scriptural texts from seven different New Testament documents, Minear helps us visualize the contrast between the old age and the new.

I can’t think of a better wish for the new year than to be enriched and encouraged as we read authors such as Minear writing on Scriptural texts that inspire us to discover for ourselves the word of God.

By focusing on The Day of Pentecost, we are enabled to begin to see the place of God’s Spirit in the entire Redemptive Plan. It keeps us rightly related to the Christ Event- all that the Incarnation itself has to do with God’s purpose to redeem a People for Himself through the work of His only begotten Son, begotten and anointed by the Holy Spirit.

But the Day itself, emphasizes that it is as the Spirit of Christ, now sent down to earth to indwell the Church, that God’s work of the application of redemption is inaugurated in these “last days” among the nations. We simply cannot afford to ignore the meaning then of the Day of Pentecost and all that it should mean in the life of the churches.

A highly recommended essay by A.J.Gordon of Boston (1894) is the one entitled, “The Embodying of the Spirit”.

Have we really listened to what he said about the Age to Come?

The Apostle Peter left no doubt about what he was hoping for when  he wrote a final message of encouragement near the end of his life: ” …We, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter3).

But the Apostle who wrote the great “resurrection” chapter of the Bible is not quite so clear about the “new earth”. He gives us his vision in pieces in his various letters such as when he says of creation: “The creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God” (Romans 8).

For Saint Paul, the new earth is the whole accomplishment of the redemptive work of God in Christ. He actually says very little about “heaven” as it is commonly understood by many Christians today.

“The passages where Paul’s thought climbs to its most stupendous heights and reaches a climax are those in which he speaks of Jesus as the origin and the goal of all creation. Believers have always found, in the words of Professor Strachan, that ‘it is impossible for a Christian who thinks at all to have Christ in his heart and to keep Him out of the universe’.

“The one whose own life has suddenly leapt into meaning beneath the touch of Jesus, who has seen his own experience transformed from a chaos into a cosmos by some never-to-be-forgotten Damascus encounter, has a right to claim that he has found the clue to the riddle of life and destiny.”

“The fact of Christ is the key to the meaning of the universe; and Christian experience will never consent to be robbed of the conviction that the Redeemer who has shown Himself of absolute and final worth in the experience of the individual soul must be ablsolute and final all along the line of God’s creation.” ( A Man in Christ:the Vital Elements of St.Paul’s Religion, 1935, by James S.Stewart)

kosmos

These thoughts come in the middle of some of those passages scattered through Paul’s letters and it would be too cumbersome to include them all here. The point is Paul was not silent about the future state of life on earth in God’s plan of redemption and if we make the biblical narrative our guide book rather that tradition, folk religion, or anything else, we get a glimpse of what awaits us. For instance, the First Epistle to the Corinthian Church is full of such things, here is just one sample:

Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him”

The Spirit of Paul and this post is captured on YouTube, “All Hail the Power of Jesus Name“.

 

Athletic competition has long been present in western civilization. The use of the athlete competing for a prize was a common metaphor in the writings of Paul the Apostle.  The Gospel calls us to follow Christ- to engage in the race of Life.  raceThis race requires all the diligence and discipline of other human competitions but they are all entered into to gain “an earthly” reward. The race of Life is set before us to obtain an everlasting Crown of Glory. This race is the over arching theme of the Lenten readings for this week. Read carefully and thoughtfully.

Lenten Readings from Saint Paul– week 5

Wednesday- Rom 9  According to God’s plan        Thursday- Rom 10 The Obedience of Faith                                         Friday- 2 Cor 3  Ministry of the New Covenant                              Saturday- 2 Cor 4  Treasure in Clay Pots                                                Sunday- 2 Cor 5 Ambassadors of Reconciliation          Monday- Heb 12The Race set before us                            Tuesday- Heb 13Bearing the reproach of Christ

spring-breakI am happy to announce that the first signs of spring  are showing up here in the bluegrass. Not the full blown spring mind you, but just enough to set off the break from the dull routine of winter. I wouldn’t live anywhere else.

The early spring bloomers are putting on a show, the trees are begining to show their buds and of course the birds that leave for the winter are back with their own special songs. The wife and I have already headed for the dirt piles and the flower beds. It all holds the promise of about three weeks of gorgeous surprises. By now you realize that spring break for us doesn’t mean the same thing as it did when we both in University. Now we wouldn’t even think of “going” somewhere else to celebrate the glad event.

Scripture readings from Saint Paul’s writings: Week 4

Wednesday – Heb 4   Be diligent to enter                                

ThursdayPhilip 3  Pressing toward the goal

 FridayPhilip 4  Rejoice Always

SaturdayRom 8  Grace and Duty of living by the Spirit               

Sunday Heb 8  The New Covenant                                               

MondayHeb 9  The Old is Obsolete                                              

TuesdayHeb 10  The High Priest over the House of God

More than ever, I am convinced of the wisdom, not only of nature’s own cycle of springtime & harvest, but of the churches spiritual cycle as well.

 

Did Paul actually believe and teach this doctrine?

A careful reading of Paul’s letters reveals that he not only taught this as part of what Christ Jesus had actually accomplished, but that after encountering the living Christ on the Damascus Road, he actually lived this truth.  yearofpaulHowever, the sad truth seems to be that there have been very few since his day who appear to have believed it. As J.B.Phillips, in his book “Your God is too small” wrote more than fifty years ago, “The power of the dark old god, rooted no doubt in instinctive fear, is hard to shake, and a great many Christian writers, though possessing the brightest hopes of ‘life hereafter’ cannot, it seems, accept the abolition of death”.

Rev.Phillips was an Anglican Rector in London during the bombing of World War II, and started to translate portions of the New Testament into modern English for the youth of his church. Later with the urging of his friend C.S.Lewis, he published first one part and then another until it grew into the entire New Testament. Needless to say he was very well acquainted with the biblical narrative. As I picked up this little book again and read some of his conclusions, I was struck with how up to date it was for the skeptical society we now find ourselves in. Perhaps I will post more of his comments in a future blog.

Lenten Meditations: Week 3

 Rom 5  The Reign Of Christ

Rom 6  Dying to Live Free

Heb 2  Our Kinsman  Redeemer

Heb 3   Beware of Unbelief

I Cor 2  The Things of God Revealed

I Cor 3  The Temple God  Builds

Titus 3  Love and Kindness of God