Categories
New Testament

Matthew 5:13-16

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:

I would like us to consider this text from the fifth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, verses 13-16. Jesus said…

13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. (ESV)

The ESV and NIV translations label this section simply, “Salt and Light.” The NASB title is, “Disciples and the World.” The NKJV identifies this section as “Believers are Salt and Light.”

Categories
Soteriology

The Gospel

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:

Perhaps one of the most important words Christians need to be clear about is the the word “Gospel.”

What is the “Gospel?”

This English word translates the Greek New Testament word εὐαγγέλιον (euangélion, “evangel” or “good news”). Although we can generally refer to the entire Bible as Gospel or call Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, “the Gospels,” within the context of the New Testament, the word “Gospel” specifically refers to the good news message of God in Christ.

Categories
Theology

Theology and Christian Theology

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves,

Theology…What comes to mind when you hear this word? Some people consider it to be an academic pursuit, limited to those with a higher education. Others view it with suspicion, believing it to be a source of divisiveness and perhaps even, unbiblical ideas. Some would say it’s just plain boring, irrelevant or theoretical. Perhaps though, you’re one of those who consider “theology” to be an opportunity to grow deeper in God’s word and thereby, enrich your confession of faith. All of these views are held by people, but what is theology really?

Of course, the word “theology,” like many words, can mean different things to different people, but its root meaning (Greek theologia – θεολογία) is words (logos – λόγος) about God (theos – Θεός). Theology is simply how people put into words their understanding of who God is, what God is about and what that means for life.

Categories
Sermons

Blessed are you right now!

Read Matthew 5:1-12

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:

Over the next three weeks I’m going to be focusing on that part of Matthew’s Gospel known as The Sermon on the Mount and today I will begin by considering the first section of that sermon, what is known as The Beatitudes, Jesus’ teaching on what it means to be blessed.

After being baptized; after facing the temptations of the devil; Jesus began his ministry preaching (Matthew 4:17), “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He then went on to teach about life in the kingdom of heaven and specifically, what it means to live under the reign of Christ. Finally, Jesus took the preaching and teaching of the kingdom into the lives of people through a ministry of healing (Matthew 4:24) the sick, those afflicted with various diseases and pains, those oppressed by demons, those having seizures, and paralytics.

Preaching, teaching and healing. These three facets of ministry seem to carry a different value for people. For example, preaching God’s Word in my current congregation draws about 70-80 people into our church facility each Sunday. However, teaching God’s Word collects a mere half-a-dozen each week. What about healing? Does our congregation offer healing? I think most people, even Christians, would struggle to identify how churches offer healing today. On the other hand, if I could heal those with any affliction like Jesus did, I believe we’d be so overwhelmed with numbers that we’d have to build a new facility. My point here is that most people are attracted by the tangible things they believe they need and want and preaching and teaching while fine more some, hold little value for most in comparison to what is offered in healing. I believe this reflects our sinful nature.

Categories
Cosmology Eschatology

What is heaven?

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:

You don’t have to be a Christian to be intrigued by the topic of heaven. Most of the world’s religions envision a place where deities live and where people under certain conditions can ascend to after death. Perhaps this is why the topic is popular among people today with Amazon listing 50,000 results for books with the word “heaven” in the title and Google currently recording 1.090 billion search hits (“hell” has 849 million). What exactly is “heaven” though?

Categories
Administration

The Importance of Administration

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:

I think many people consider administration to be a kind of necessary evil and on that is often viewed as synonymous with red tape, paper work, bureaucracy, pencil pushers and big government. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine living without administration since it’s what what keeps an organization, business, government, and even the church, smoothly functioning from day to day and moving towards its mission and goals. Yes, administration can become bloated and ineffective, but without it our ability to work together as larger groups of people becomes extremely challenged and limited.

Categories
Old Testament Soteriology

You are Chosen

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, my family and those whom God loves:

Whenever picking teams, someone must first be chosen to be captain. It is the captain who then picks the team.

To be chosen for a team or for an award is to be designated as special. Although some of us may not enjoy the “fame” that goes along with being chosen in these cases, very few of us would reject the opportunities that go along with being selected.

Even so, people find ways to turn this whole process around. “I wasn’t chosen. I decided to play for them or work for them.” Sounds kind of silly, but people do find ways to put the emphasis on the wrong syl-LABLE.

Categories
New Testament

Matthew 23:34-39 – Commentary

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This Generation will Bear All the Righteous Blood

34 Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, 35 so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Truly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.

Lament over Jerusalem

37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! 38 See, your house is left to you desolate. 39 For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” (ESV)

Commentary

Although the subject headings, like the chapter and verse divisions in Bibles, are not part of the original text, they do provide a summary of what is being cover. In this case, the text overlaps two ESV section headings: Matthew 23:1-36 – “Seven Woes to the Scribes and Pharisees” and Matthew 23:37-39 – “Lament over Jerusalem.” The Concordia Commentary has sectioned off Matthew 23:34-36 and I am using its title: “This Generation will Bear All the Righteous Blood.”

Earlier in chapter 10 (13-33) Jesus taught the Twelve about the mission he was preparing them for. They would proclaim that (10:7), ‘The kingdom/reign of heaven is at hand.’ It would not be an easy mission (10:16): “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves and at times, they would be persecuted and have to flee (10:23). This would not only be the mission of the Twelve, but of generations to follow them.