One of the earliest church fathers to write in Latin was Tertullian, and he used the word sacramentum to refer to baptism and communion. The sacramentum was the oath a Roman soldier took when he joined the military.
Soldiers sign up once for service, and so do Christians—our baptism doesn’t wash off. So why have another sacrament? Why take communion, bread and wine, every week? Because soldiers and citizens continue to pledge allegiance. Husbands and wives repeat their love and enjoy their commitment. We are fickle and we need it, and God would nourish, strengthen and bless us in fellowship with Him every week. Continue reading
If we want to thrive in our faith and continue to grow in God’s grace we must always be engaged in a fight against sin. The apostle Peter writes, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11).
The battles we often face present themselves as coming from outside of us. Christians have identified our three enemies as the world, the flesh, and the devil. It’s easier to see our exterior enemies and focus on them—the world and the devil. But in order for us to ever be overcome by these, we have to have already given in to the flesh. This why Jesus said that defilements come not from the outside, but from within. Continue reading
Killer Angel: A Short Biography of Planned Parenthood’s Founder, Margaret Sanger by George Grant
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A superb narrative in one hundred pages of the woman who embraced the evils of racism, eugenics and sexual immorality which then resulted in her quest for abortion on demand. Everyone should know about her “Negro Project” concerned with “The mass of Negroes, particularly in the South, still breed[ing] carelessly and disastrously, with the result that the increase among Negroes, even more than among Whites, is from that portion of the population least intelligent and fit” (p. 86).
This is a timely read not just because of the recent work of the Center for Medical Progress exposing the horrors of Planned Parenthood, but because Hilary Clinton openly admires Sanger and has received the Margaret Sanger Award.
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Jesus of Nazareth was true and fully man on earth, and thus he experienced the full range of human emotions, yet without sin. He showed us how to be human, and if we are going to grow up into His image, to be like Jesus, we have to look at Him completely.
Jesus was full of pity (Mk. 1:41). He healed sickness and disease, He saw multitudes of people weary and scattered, like sheep without a shepherd, and was moved with compassion (Matt. 9:36). He prayed to the Lord to send out laborers into the harvest, people who knew the gospel and were motivated by the fact that many are ready to come to faith. He said blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Continue reading
The Lord’s Supper is a feast for many. One time when Jesus entered Capernaum a Roman soldier, a centurion, came and pleaded with him to heal his servant. Jesus agreed to come heal him, but the centurion said no, he wasn’t worthy, and Jesus could just speak the word. He understood this because he too had authority and servants that would do what he said.
Jesus was astonished by this and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 8:10-11). Continue reading
Our God is a Father, is the Father, and He has revealed Himself as one who is eager to provide for us. Jesus said, “ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Lk. 11:9-10).
We are regularly tempted to feel that we don’t have what we need, and certainly not what we want. But not only is God is openhanded, He is also attentive, knowing exactly what we need. A good father is far more aware of what his child needs than he is. How much more is God aware of our needs? Continue reading
Because the Church is the body of Christ, every member of Jesus is related to all the others. The right pinky toe might be a long way away from the left eardrum, but they are organically and vitally connected.
This is true of Christians whatever our station in life is and whether we even know it or even deny it. Paul writes, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?” (1 Cor. 12:13-19).
What does it mean and what does it matter that Christians are members of Christ together? It means we really do need each other. Continue reading
The Church is a hospital for sinners and not a rest home for the saints, as anyone who has been in a church for more than fifteen minutes will be aware.
Many, many people experience this and then burn out. Why go to church, why be part of a community when it’s simply another place to have to deal with people, but these ones by voluntary association? I have to do this at work, why do it here?
If you approach the question like this and run a social financial cost-benefit analysis on what you get for connecting to Jesus’ Body, you will certainly come up short. But if you think this way you will also come up short in everything—in marriage, friendship, at work and in your family.
Of course this not how it actually is, but selfishness in grabbing more for oneself always makes us feel empty, and generosity and obedience always makes us feel full and overflowing. If we run a biblical cost-benefit analysis, we see all the blessing God has poured out upon us. What does it cost to give it away? What do we get if we do? It was given us to in order to love others, and the only way it will be a blessing to us is if we do. This applies to every area of our lives—relational, vocational, emotional, financial, and spiritual. God gives to us so we can give, and when we do He entrusts us with more so we can give again. He who is faithful in little will be faithful in much.
The Church is a hospital for sinners, but it’s also a factory for saints. This is where God works on us, and He never burns out on us. God’s grace is abundant in the body life of His Son. Come to Him and find rest.
As you begin the new year, 2016 AD, it’s good to look back and consider the past year, what you’ve done, how God has blessed you, and what to ask Him for and how to serve Him in the new year.
This can be counterproductive endeavor, like asking a kid to list all the things he wants for Christmas next year based on all the things he didn’t get this year. But it doesn’t have to be like that, and it won’t if we dedicate ourselves first to the Lord, and specifically to worshiping Him. Continue reading
Communion is a sign and seal of God’s covenant with us. This is often how God works in covenants.
Abraham had faith in God and was already justified, but God gave him the covenant of circumcision, which Paul says is “a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised” (Rom. 4:11).
The faith, the righteousness preceded the sign and seal. It’s this way in family covenants also. At a wedding, the bride and groom take an oath, that’s a covenant, which is signified by rings and sealed in their sexual union.
If communion is only a sign and seal, then why do it? Most importantly, God said to show the covenant this way. Abraham’s faith needed expression, and God wanted to give him a way to pass it on to his children. They were in covenant now, too. James says our faith is seen by what we do.
But second, the sign and seal are means of renewing the covenant. We don’t renew it because it wears out, but because we wear out if we don’t. Husbands and wives renew their love and enjoy their marriage covenant. Calvin said God gave “his church another sacrament, that is, a spiritual banquet, where in Christ attests himself to be the life-giving bread, upon which our souls feed unto true and blessed immortality.”
We are marked and fed here again by Christ’s love.