The Weekend Word

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36 Responses

  1. Jean says:

    Michael, you published this under Prayer and Praise.

  2. Michael says:

    Sorry…can’t find my backside with both hands right now…fixed it.

  3. Jean says:

    “28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses.”

    I’m reminded that we will all meet Christ eventually, either as Savior or judge.

  4. Em says:

    this is a very serious lesson, so i won’t wisecrack about Michael’s disorientated state – rest and wait, dear Michael… please rest… put Miss Kitty on your lap and tell her all about what a wonderful (& terrifying) Creator you both have been fashioned by

  5. Jean says:

    I understand that on this blog there are some readers who do not believe the warnings in these passages. We should clarify that when the author writes about “go on sinning deliberately”, he is talking specifically about abandoning the confession that Christ is Lord and Savior. A confession that, by definition, one once made.

    This is wholly consistent with the doctrine of justification by faith. Faith is what applies Christ’s work on the cross to the sinner. At the cross, Christ died for our sins. Extinguish faith and, well, Christ’s cross is of no use to the unbeliever.

    Towards the end of John’s Gospel, he explained things well: “but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

    There will be no unbelievers in heaven.

    God, has always provided means of grace by with saving faith may be grasped by human sinners. In the new testament, His means of grace are the preaching of the Word (along with confession and absolution), baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We would be well advised not to despise God’s means of grace. He is, after all, Wisdom and Truth!

  6. In v 23 I think it is important to remember that ‘our’ faith really means nothing.

  7. Jean says:

    “In v 23 I think it is important to remember that ‘our’ faith really means nothing.”

    A trick question if I’ve ever seen one. But, I will bite: You’re nuts! 🙂

    Faith is the only means by which man is reckoned righteous before God. Faith is a Christian’s eyes into the future. Faith is the cure for despair over current circumstances. The object of faith is that Christ died for my sins and was raised for my justification.

  8. But is it our faith, my faith? Can I sit here and muster up ‘my’ faith out of nothing – or is the faithfulness of God given to me?
    Faith comes to me by hearing God’s word preached. The word has delivered a saving faith to me.

    I don’t know – was that a trick question? 😉

  9. Jean says:

    I think what you’re saying is that faith is a gift from God. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. But, the Hebrew congregation is warned that if they neglect meeting together (to hear the Word), encouraging one another, and stirring up one another to love and good works, that faith may flicker out among them.

    I probably all know people who drifted away.

  10. Em says:

    faith as a stand alone can be very misleading, so perhaps, it should be the object of our faith that is the key? what confuses us? ego? ignorance? education? pride? all the things that make up a self absorbed or self righteous sin nature? … but that’s another subject, i guess…

  11. Jean, I think that the writer is actually telling them in a more harsh way than the actual words used that if they stop assembling together, if they stop doing their calling to encourage others and to be encouraged etc, that they will indeed give up their faith

    I’m not big on people who stop going to church and seem to encourage others to do the same … for any reason.

    I am done with church and my class for the day – it is now time to go to a 2nd service at Costco to shop a little and to see how many of those little communion tables they have set up at the end of each aisle. 🙂

    BTW – Church service today was all on baptism as today we observed the baptism of our Lord.

  12. Xenia says:

    When I was a kid, we attended a small rural Baptist church. The pastor was a decent but lack-luster man with about six kids and a very obese wife. She was not a good housekeeper. The main sin of this family seems to be that despite their deficiencies, they were happy and loved each other.

    They were the target of gossip. My parents’ circle of friends used to talk about them all the time, never in a good way. You know how people can be. Things really heated up when the pastor and one of my parents were visiting someone in the community and instead of giving out the Romans Road to Salvation, he fell asleep in his chair. His critics were merciless.

    One of my parents became so upset with this family that in our living room, in the presence of friends, announced loudly that they would never set foot in a church again. And this person never did and it’s been fifty years now. This person believes they were the victim of this pastor but in fact, my parent was the abuser. They have spent 50 years discouraging people from attending church and never have a good word to say about churches, church people, and pastors. They claim to be a Christian but I have never seen any evidence of it. God knows. They are elderly now and have mellowed.

    With this story in my past, you can see why I don’t always accept claims of abuse without hearing both sides of the story, and why I think washing one’s hands of church is very corrosive to one’s soul.

  13. Em says:

    FWIW –
    #11 & 12 are sound thots … but – does it seem that the PhxP site encourages folk to avoid attending church?

  14. Linnea says:

    I have to say that MLD encouraged me a couple of weeks ago to abandon my hurts and begin attending a church again. I am better for it and decided that, no matter what, I would abide.

  15. Cash says:

    I return to the discussion of what church is…the American corporate model cannot be what the Apostles established. Weren’t the first churches home churches? So what is it, really? I think some of the issues are in our definitions. Isn’t a church wherever believers assemble in His Name?

  16. Xenia says:

    Then find a local church that is not based on the American corporate model.

  17. Xenia says:

    Ancient house churches were liturgical. Often a house was remodeled on the inside to function as a church while keeping the outside appearance of an ordinary house so as not to attract unwanted attention. These house churches had baptistries, iconographic art, and other features of liturgical worship. They were overseen by bishops.

    Google Dura Europos for an example of an ancient house church.

  18. Xenia says:

    But even a corporate model church is better than no church at all.

  19. Xenia says:

    The early church was based on the synagogue model, which was liturgical, not free form.

  20. When I went to Costco today I participated in evangelical free style communion. I figured as long as I had some form of food along with some form of drink I was OK, as it is all symbolic anyway. So, when I matched the Chimichunga sample with the Orange Juice sample, I was on my way to sacramental bliss. (It wasn’t as good when I matched up the salmon sample with the almond milk.)

    But you can do this and it counts because as someone told here last week “We don’t need no guy in a dress speaking magic words over the elements.” 😉

    OK, fun time is over – find a church that fits, but not one who has the main goal to put more butts in the seats – those always compromise the message, because many people won’t return if you tell them the truth.

  21. Jean says:

    One thing I love about liturgical worship is the joining of the voices of the assembly in prayers, such as the Psalms, Our Father and Gloria in Excelsis.

    It sure beats the mini sermon, story, or exhortation disguised as a prayer that you often hear in the corporate model church.

  22. Cash says:

    Interesting that you find it all so simple. What if I can’t find a church that fits? What then? Should I stop worshipping Christ because I can’t find one where I fit? What then?

  23. Xenia says:

    This is America. There is a church on every corner.

  24. Cash says:

    True, Xenia, but the majority of churches on every corner in America have been turned into Hollywood style entertainment that doesn’t feed the soul. And what of people who have special limitations? Those with mental disorders that can’t even leave their house? I don’t see the church reaching out to them. The only “church” I see reaching out to them are blogs like this one.

  25. Xenia says:

    Some hints

    1. Have you tried small churches in town that you may not have noticed? They are not usually “corporate” and could probably use your help.

    2. If the theology that you favor produces churches that you can’t stand, maybe it’s time to try something different.

    3. I have found in my life that it’s best not to get too close to the church leadership too soon. Wait.

  26. Cash says:

    Xenia,

    Those are all valuable points. I truly thank you for those ideas and I intend to consider them very closely.

  27. Xenia says:

    What a gracious response from a good natured person. God bless!

  28. Erunner says:

    We’ve been looking for a church for quite some time now. As I am able to only drive a few miles it makes our search difficult. We visited some in the area and they were what many would describe as not good choices.

    For the last two weeks we have visited a very small CC (maybe 40 people) and we very well might stay. The Pastor has his degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and received his doctorate at Biola where he currently teaches. The service is simple in the sense there are no frills or attempts to bring in the crowds as many churches do.

    It is ethnically diverse and the people are loving and accepting. The pastor is always available and is humble. I never thought I’d attend another CC but this may be it.

    I can not describe how wonderful it is to be in a room with others who desire to build one another up and to grow in their faith. It’s like leaving the desert and landing in a place with tons of living water. I pray this works out for us.

  29. Cash, I don’t know how you do investigation but my church is responsible for the spiritual care of 9 group homes for those who are mentally impaired; http://bethesdalutherancommunities.org .

    The homes bring them in in vans each week for Bible instruction, singing, meals. All are baptized and many take communion.

    Our elders visit the home bound who want a call and communion each Sunday. I doubt we are the only one doing such.

    I bring this up to let you know that there are some churches out there that are not just dumping their money into sound systems, lighting and fog machines.

  30. Jean says:

    “29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?”

    Let’s take a moment and try to comprehend “what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” The author in v. 29 describes these sluggish Christians as having been sanctified by the blood of Christ.

    What does that mean – having been sanctified?

    – Christ has purified us, cleansed us of our sins.
    – We have been separated – consecrated to God and made part of a dedicated people of God.

    And all this by the blood of the spotless Lamb for his enemies (i.e., these Christians and you and I).

    So I imagine that the author of this letter is mad as hell, that the Christians, who have been redeemed from satan’s kingdom by the suffering death of Christ, are thinking about abandoning his Body and their confession of faith. It’s one thing to be born blind and ignorant of Christ. It’s quite another to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit and then to step back into blindness.

    Paul wrote that “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

    If we are no longer living for ourselves, but for Christ, then all of us need to go to the place where Christ promises to be found and where his Body meets to receive His good gifts.

  31. Ixtlan says:

    “This is America. There is a church on every corner.”

    True. I used to wrestle with whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. I came to the conclusion this wasn’t the right question to be asking, but rather what are those churches teaching, and how is that teaching shaping their souls? Have they become religious expressions of conservative republican values, or has a modernistic drive taken hold of them where all things are possible/permitted? Or is there a sense of humility that recognizes our own depravity that is the basis for everything they believe and do?

  32. Em says:

    “…The service is simple in the sense there are no frills or attempts to bring in the crowds as many churches do.
    It is ethnically diverse and the people are loving and accepting. The pastor is always available and is humble…”

    that sounds like church to me 🙂

  33. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Jean,
    “If we are no longer living for ourselves, but for Christ, then all of us need to go to the place where Christ promises to be found and where his Body meets to receive His good gifts.”

    I have heard many times that people can meet with God on the golf course, the fishing lake, and at Starbucks. Isn’t that where he promised to meet with us and deliver these good gifts?

  34. Jean says:

    MLD,

    I wish I was more sanguine about the ease of locating a decent local church. But after years of visiting churches and studying different traditions and Christian authors, I’m somewhat pessimistic. From my experience most churches have more in common with Black Friday than Good Friday.

    Plenty of churches are hard at work developing marketing plans and programs to sell us God and his benefits. Black Friday every Sunday. Most of us being traditional Protestant Americans prefer the sale to a gift anyway, because we don’t like being indebted to anyone. Receiving gifts makes us feel indebted. Debt cramps our freedom and autonomy. Besides, how can we differentiate ourselves from the beggars down the street if we’re nothing but beggars too?

    Why would anyone go to a Good Friday church when there’s nothing for sale, nothing to contribute? Good Friday is good because Jesus came to us to die for us. He came to do the will of the Father. Free grace is not cheap grace. There was blood and suffering – not good stuff at a Black Friday sale. But by His stripes we are healed. Jesus ransomed us from sin, death, and the devil. It’s all an unconditional gift. So, at the Good Friday church, they receive forgiveness of sins and life to the upmost. That’s all there is to talk about; that’s all that really matters. If people want to buy and sell, there’s always Costco later in the afternoon.

  35. Em says:

    Jean’s #35 … don’t know if it should be distilled or expanded … XLNT – IMNSHO

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