Psalm 61:3

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; for You have been my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Greatest

Who is the greatest?  Who is the greatest Christian in the world?  Which one of us in this room is the greatest disciple of Jesus Christ?

                As Lutherans we know the folly of such questions.  We know good and well that Jesus should slap us upside the head for asking things like that.  As Christians we are not to be haughty or prideful.  We are not to clamor or argue over who is the greatest.  

                Rather we are to be humble.  We are to think nothing of ourselves, never asserting our spiritual superiority, always letting others, especially Jesus take the spotlight.  We would never ask something as pretentious as, “Which one of us is the greatest?” 

                Rather, our question would be, “Which one of us is the humblest?”  Come on Jesus, tell us truthfully, aren’t I more humble than that guy over there?  Isn’t my humility far more impressive than hers?  Lord, I thank you that I am not arrogant or haughty, like so many of those other Christians out there. 
                Augh!  Even humility is not a safe place to hide from the sin of spiritual one-up-man-ship.  We may have repented of our desire to be the greatest, only to fall into the trap of desiring to be the least, in order to be the greatest.  We sin by taking pride in being humble.

                But we shouldn’t, take pride in our humility that is.  And the disciples were certainly fools for arguing about who was the greatest.  We are all fools as the followers of Jesus for wondering who is the greatest in knowledge, authority, power, or humility.  The answer, it would seem, should be staring us right in the face.  JESUS CHRIST is the greatest!  

                What had Jesus just finished saying before His disciples were arguing who the greatest was?  “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill Him.  And when He is killed, after three days He will rise.”  

Jesus just told His disciples that He will die and RISE!  Guys, disciples, I am going to conquer death!  I will be dead and then I will come back.  Who do you think is the greatest?!  

Jesus, God in the flesh, submits to death.  God died.  That makes Jesus far more humble than you or I could ever even fathom.  Jesus conquered death, rising on the third day.  That makes Him greater than the greatest.  In fact, compared to Jesus Christ in the number one spot, number two in greatness or humility might as well be all the way down with number 200 billion.  There simply is no comparison.

Jesus is not only God.  He is also Man, the True Man, the one whom all others aspire to be, the one all others fail to be.  Jesus Christ is the greatest man who ever lived and who ever will live.  And it is a complete waste of our time to try and compare ourselves with each other living in His shadow.

Rather, in faith, we receive the fullness of Christ's greatness and humility.  It is laid over our sin, our pride and arrogance, that we may share in the fullness of the treasures of heaven.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Biblical Sinner's Prayer?

The Evangelical Jesus PrayerThis is partially (or totally) in response to "The Evangelical Jesus Prayer" found here.  The author of this article assures us that the so-called "sinner's prayer" employed by so many churches in our day and age is biblical, and therefore good and useful.  It is seen as biblical, not because it is drawn from the Scriptures verbatim (like the Lord's Prayer), nor because it is drawn from Christian antiquity (like the Apostles' Creed), but because it is a summary of the Gospel.

A typical prayer is quoted as: "Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be."

We are also warned against "theological snobbery and spiritual self-righteousness".  (In other words, don't get too picky about the words of the prayer.)  But I fail to see how this prayer is a summary of the Gospel, unless you are confused about what the Gospel is. 

"I open the door of my life..." is about what I have done.  Sure the prayer thanks Jesus for stuff, but smack dab at the heart of the prayer is a confession that I have done the right thing, asked Jesus into my heart, and really, let's be honest, saved myself.

This is not theological snobbery, just accuracy.  And lest we think that accuracy is not important, let us remember that it is called "God's Word" for a reason.  Words are the means that God uses to create and sustain faith. Obviously words matter.  Theological words matter more than any other.

So rather than asking people to pray an non-biblical prayer once they have heard the gospel, why not follow the example of the New Testament and baptized them for the forgiveness of their sins? (Acts 2:38, 8:13, 8:37, 9:18, etc)  It strikes me that the Apostles never preach the Gospel and then ask people to "receive Jesus into their hearts".  Rather, they preach the Good News and proclaim baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

The Church would be much better off today if it followed the biblical instructions of our Lord to baptize and teach (Matthew 28:19-20) rather than inventing it's own methods and prayers to make up for a lost respect for the Lord's work in baptism.       

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Man of Steel - Father to son.

If you are a father, or a son with a father worth half his salt, this has got to hit you.  Forget the special effects.  This voice-over alone was enough to get me excited to see the movie.