Saturday, June 23, 2012

Why I love the Creeds

According to the Small Catechism, "A creed is a statement of what we believe, teach, and confess." And for a Scripture reference, it cites Romans 10:10 ("For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved."). I'm reminded of another Scripture passage when I study and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds. In the 16th chapter of Matthew's Gospel, Jesus asks His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" And Simon Peter answers, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." This reminds me of the Creeds. Who do we say Jesus is? It's easy to think, "This is my perception of Jesus..." or "This is who I think Jesus is..." But who do we say He is? The Creeds answer this question. Who do we say God is? We believe in the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Christian church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

-- Jonathan

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Worldly vs. Biblical Philosophy

"See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." -- Colossians 2:8 (NASB)

As a college student, I run across many different philosophies and worldviews, and it's certainly a temptation to simply shrug them off and surrender to the whim that everyone's entitled to their own opinion and interpretation of the Bible. It's a temptation I've fallen into myself; but reading Paul's words here in Colossians, I see how immensely important it is to have a discerning heart and mind when it comes to worldly philosophies. Paul lived in the days of Greek philosophers who told the public to look within themselves to find fulfillment and meaning. It's easy to be taken captive by these ideas, but we must remember that Christ is where we should look to, not ourselves. We live in a world with countless corrupt philosophies including evolution and moral relativism. The world blindly accepts them, but we must be on our guard not to. Don't be like the world. We now have the mind of Christ. Don't corrupt that mind... But even as it is, if and when we do fall into these non-biblical worldviews and are taken captive through philosophy and empty deception, Christ forgives us, and welcomes us back to His Word and Sacraments, in which are no sinful philosophies to be found.

-- Jonathan

Where Heaven Meets Earth

"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." -- Acts 2:42 (NASB)

Since the First Century, Christians have been gathering to 1. Hear the Word of God, 2. Have fellowship with one another as the Body of Christ (not the type of fellowship that the world thinks of, simply spending time together, but actually unifying as one Body), 3. Take Holy Communion, and 4. Pray (prayers consisting of psalms and hymns). Christianity (known then as "The Way") has always gathered for the Word and Sacraments in a setting similar to what we call Church. When we talk about "the historic liturgy," we're not tossing about a meaningless term. The Liturgy of the Church is hundreds upon hundreds of years old, and much of it is taken from biblical texts that are thousands of years old. The liturgy creates such unity between the church of today and the church of the First century. People, in their own laziness or arrogance, often ask why they need church if they already have faith. Because it's where Heaven meets Earth. It's where God pours out His Gifts. And genuine, saving faith in Christ does not refuse the Gifts of Christ. The Christians of the AD 30s knew this. But it seems like a lot of Christians have forgotten.

-- Jonathan