Friday, September 26, 2014

One In Christ

There are a number of places in the New Testament that mentions that we are to be “In Christ”.    While some think of the wording as being rather mystical or symbolic, the Apostle Paul references terms like “en Christo” or “en kyrio” 216 times.   The Apostle John uses the same phrases as well over two dozen times.  It could be that these words including ‘Abiding in Christ” and “One in Christ” may be the heart, the very foundation of our faith.

Serious followers of Jesus Christ know that Christianity is not a religion but is a relationship with God through the God/Man Jesus who was born of a Virgin and was crucified for our sins.    Being “One in Christ” is the union of believers, called the "Body of Christ” that have been redeemed.   Here's another truth from the New Testament as well.....sometime, possibly in the very near future, those "in Christ" will be gathered together along with all of those who also were “in Christ” that have previously died.  Ephesians 1:10 says, "that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him.

Being ‘one in Christ’ is not only the ultimate fulfillment of our lives and our salvation it is also the key to present day unity within the Body of Christ.    The church you see is not an institution. It is not a denomination, nor a building, nor even a group of people but it is the body of believers that are also at the same time “One in Christ”.

When we fully trust in the gospel of our salvation, when we are sealed with the Holy Spirit which, not only is the promise but also the indwelling deity in our lives, we become “One in Christ”.     At that very moment, we have everything in common with all other believers, regardless of denomination, their location, building they worship in or what they call themselves.  

The truth is that believers in Jesus have much more in common with each other than those that attend the very same churches and denominations that have not fully made a commitment to Jesus, to those who have not yet become “one in Christ”.    





Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Re-Dox

I love our contemporary churches.  Because they are casual they can often attract people that enjoy being comfortable in church.  The music and worship is lively and is inviting and written in a way so that it is easy to sing by most people.  The services are interactive and designed to be not only worshipful but also informative and entertaining.

I do miss one thing however in our contemporary churches….I miss the majesty, the splendor and the glory of the doxology.   For those of you that don’t know the doxology, the word is a compound word that combines the words ‘doxa’ and ‘logos’.  Doxa refers to the King, particularly God as our Lord and majestic ruler; logos refers to the word or words. In the doxology, we use the word of praise that give glory to our King.

So I’m recommending we Re-Dox.  We remember to stand, sing and give praise and honor and glory to the King.  A new tradition!  The New Testament is full of doxologies. They are often found in the Apostle Paul’s writings.  For example in 1st Timothy, Paul writes, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Tim 1.17).  

Yes, to our eternal, immortal, invisible and wise King, we give honor and glory….

Some of the doxologies that were sung in churches came from a time when the church leaders believed that only scripture should be sung in church. The Psalms were collected in a “Psalter’.  However, more creative songwriters used Biblical phrases but reorganized some of the words.  At the time, some of the more traditionalists found it blasphemous however, these innovative doxologies survived and became the precursor for many of our more popular worship songs today.   One of the more famous early worship songs had an ending verse that was known simply as the “Doxology”.  It was written by Ken Thomas back in the 17th century

Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; 
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Yes, to our eternal, immortal, invisible and wise King, we give honor and glory….

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Culture and Religion

One of the ways that culture is described is through language, symbols and values.  It’s relatively easy to notice when we visit a different country that the culture is different by not only observing the different signs, highway markers and advertisements but also through the way greetings and emotions are expressed.  If you spend enough time in another country you’ll also be able to witness sometimes slight but often significant differences in value systems including just for example the respect for elders, a disrespect for women and a reverence for God.  

Every religion in the same way has a significant and discernible culture.   We are all too aware of what is happening around the world in general but in the Middle East and Africa specifically when societies clash with militant Islam.  A culture of hate, oppression, and violence leads to a very clear picture of the overall culture that is prevalent.

What is the culture that is perceived in Christianity?   That is an interesting question and somewhat difficult to define because Christianity is not one homogenous group and is expressed in various doctrines, practices, rituals and denominations.   Some look at these differences as signs that there is more than one church however they are actually signs of diversity within one church.

At the heart of Christianity are some very foundational and essential beliefs that transcend our diverse Christian cultures.    We are actually one Church because we have one Lord, Jesus Christ.  He is the one that is part of the God head but came to earth, was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilot, crucified, died and was buried.   All Christians also believe that Jesus arose from the dead on the third day,  ascended into heaven and will come again.

These foundational and essential beliefs are the only thing that actually brings unity in the church.   Developing a culture of unity in the Church can be accomplished when we focus on these truths.   Unity in the essentials is a familiar saying that needs to be more than a convenient truism.  Unity of the Church through the belief in the essentials is the prayer of Jesus.  Unity was also the command by the Apostle Paul to the Church after Pentecost and today unity of the one Church remains the hope of the world.


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