The Person of Jesus

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Simple FaithBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

No description of God would be complete without an understanding of the role of Jesus Christ that starts with God’s transcendent nature. God’s transcendence arises because he created the known universe as revealed in the Genesis creation account:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Gen 1:1)

As creator, God had to exist before the universe that he created and he had to have been set apart from it. Time, as we know it, is part of the created universe. Consequently, God stands outside of time and space. Because we exist inside time and space, we cannot approach God on our own. He has to reveal himself to us. Likewise, we cannot approach a Holy God, because we are sinful beings, not Holy beings. Our sin separates from a Holy God and motivates our confession when we ask God to draw us to himself.

Thus, we cannot approach God on our own because he transcends time and space and because he is holy. Only God can initiate connection with unholy, created beings such as we are. No path reaches up the mountain to God; God must come down. As Christians, we believe that God came down in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, whose coming was prophesied from the earliest days of scripture. 

For example, the Prophet Job wrote: 

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another.”  (Job 19:25-27)

The Book of Job is thought by some to have been written by Moses before any other book in the Bible and before he returned to Egypt, which makes the anticipation of a redeemer all the more stunning. Moses himself lived about 1,500 years before Christ.

Who then is this transcendent God that loves us enough to initiate connection with us in spite of our sin?

Later, after giving Moses the Ten Commandments for a second time on Mount Sinai, God reveals himself to Moses with these words:

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exod 34:6)

Notice that God describes himself first as merciful. As Christians, we believe that God love is shown to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because God himself has provided the ultimate sacrifice of his son on the cross, Christians do not need to offer animal sacrifices—in Christ, our debt to God for sin has already been paid. This is real mercy, real love.

Listen now to the confession given by the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the church in Corinth:

“For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.”  (1 Cor 15:3-5)

Jesus, as the perfect son of God, is the bridge that God has given us to connect with himself through the Holy Spirit, as Peter said on the Day of Pentecost:

“And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are able to pray to God with the assurance that we will be heard; we are able to read the Bible with the confidence that God will speak to us; and we are able to live our daily lives knowing that God walks with us each step of the way. In this way, as Christians we are always connected with God in Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit. The Gospel is accordingly the story of Jesus in the context of Old Testament prophecy and how through him God came down from outside time and space to dwell in our hearts.

The Person of Jesus

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Fortson and Grams: Bible Limits Sex to Christian Marriage, Part 2

Fortson and Grams, Unchanging WitnessDonald Fortson and Rollin G. Grams. 2016. Unchanging Witness: The Consistent Christian Teaching on Homosexuality in Scripture and Tradition. Nashville: B&H Academic.

Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra

The key theological challenge of our age is the lost sense of the transcendence of God. If God’s transcendence is no longer a lived reality, then Jesus was not raised from the dead (1 Cor 15:14) and he becomes a great teacher whose views on the authority of scripture (Matt 5:17-19) are downgraded to the status of nice to know, not a commandment. The moral teaching of the church is thereby easily waived off in favor the double-love commandment—love God; love neighbor (Matt 22:36-40)—and the first half of the commandment is held lightly. Soon, questions like—who are you to tell me who to love—make it clear that power politics, not scripture, has the last word in the church. Reading this line of reasoning backwards, the attack on orthodox faith (and its motivation) becomes transparent.

In part one of this review, I summarized arguments in Unchanging Witness by Donald Fortson and Rollin Grams. In this second part, I will delve more deeply into their arguments.

Introduction

Fortson and Grams make it clear that questions about sexuality have influenced both biblical teaching and church practice throughout history. They write:

“…Jews saw the issue [of homosexuality] straightforwardly. Jews and Christians consistently taught that homosexuality acts were sinful, and they supported their views with the Scriptures. Both the Old and New Testaments, Judaism and early church, taught a consistent view on sexuality in general and on homosexuality in particular, clearly differing from the surrounding cultures. Debate over this matter in recent times is not due to fresh illumination of biblical texts that our predecessors misread; rather, it stems from our culture’s unwillingness to accept what the text clearly says.” (191)

Why Does the Book of the Law Highlight Sex?

For my part, I have always assumed that the clarity of scripture on the sexual behavior arose from the Hebrew experience of slavery in Egypt. Is it accidental, for example, that the very first Hebrew slave, Joseph, experienced sexual abuse? We read:

“So he [Potiphar—Joseph’s master] left all that he had in Joseph’s charge, and because of him he had no concern about anything but the food he ate. Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, lie with me.” (Gen 39:6-7 ESV)

Was Joseph a stand-in for a generation of sexually abused, former Egyptian slaves? The Genesis account chronicles all manner of sexual perversion, raising the possibility that Moses wrote the Book of Genesis to help the former Egyptian slaves overcome their own experience of abuse. Most likely they accepted Moses’ sexual ethic that differed radically from surrounding Canaanite cultures because they knew that accepting perverse sexual relations gave a green light to the rich and powerful in their abuse of those that were less fortunate. Former slaves apparently wanted normal family relations—marriage of one man and one woman—because it was something denied them for four hundred years.

The Sexual Ethic

Most commentators on the primacy of monogamous marriage (one partner in marriage) in the Book of Genesis cite two passages:

 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27)

 “And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, this at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:22-24)

Fortson and Grams then point out that the ideas about marriage presented in these two passages are then repeated in Genesis 5:1-1:

“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.” 

This repetition implies emphasis and the context is interesting because it almost immediately follows the account of Lamech, who murders out of revenge and is reported to be the first polygamist (Gen 4:34-35). In other words, Moses is reminding us that monogamous marriage is the standard and polygamists are known to be sketchy individuals.

Other sexual relationships that are prohibited later in Leviticus 18, including incest and homosexuality, need not have been be specifically itemized (although many are) because they deviate from the sexual ethic given in the creation accounts. The fact that the homosexual act is explicitly mentioned, prohibited, and treated as a capital offense for both participants (Lev 18:22) implies emphasis. The context placing it between a prohibition of child sacrifice (Lev 18:21) and of bestiality (Lev 18:23) underscores the unambiguous attitude towards homosexuality.

In Leviticus 18:25 these acts will make “the land became unclean, so that I [God] punished its iniquity, and the land vomited out its inhabitants” (Lev 18:25), a clear allusion to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by God himself (not Abraham and his private army) in Genesis 18. The example of Sodom and Gomorrah’s destruction has historically motivated cities to take a dim view of homosexual practices within their jurisdictions (69).

Early Church and Reformation Understanding of Scripture

These are starkly clear references. Fortson and Grams cite voluminous (three chapters, pages 27 to 91) early church reference and references all the way to the reformation that underscore how the church understood scriptural prohibitions of homosexual behavior in all of its manifestations. For example, Polycarp, a disciple of the Apostle John who was later martyred, wrote:

“Knowing, therefore, that ‘God is not mocked,’[1] we ought to live in a manner that is worthy of his commandment and glory… For it is a good thing to be cut off from the sinful desires of the world, because every ‘sinful desire wages war against the spirit,’ and ‘neither fornicators nor male prostitutes nor homosexuals will inherit the kingdom of God,’ nor those who do perverse things. Therefore we must keep away from all these things.” (31)

If homosexuality were unknown to the early church, as some homosexual advocates  have argued, then why would there be a need even to comment on it?

Likewise, the sin list in the Heidelberg Catechism (1563) repeats the prohibition of “homosexual perversion” (82) in question 87, a reference now translated as “unchaste person” in the official, PCUSA translation  (PCUSA, 2016).

Assessment

Please refer to part one of this review for a general overview of the book and a discussion of my personal connections with this issue.

Fortson and Grams provide an important resource to the church and academy on the history of the church’s teaching on homosexuality. This book is of special interest to those new to the debate about the role of homosexuality in the church and those who take scripture as the sole authority for answering questions of faith and Christian living. Fortson and Grams focus on truth-telling. In this context love means accepting people as they are, but caring enough to help them to move beyond their fallen state (John 8).[2]

References

Campbell, W. P. 2010. Turning Controversy into Church Ministry: A Christlike Response to Homosexuality. Grand Rapids: Zondervan. (Review)

Presbyterian Church in the USA (PCUSA). 2016. The Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Part 1 of the Book of Confessions. Louisville: Office of the General Assembly.

Polycarp. 1989. “Letter to the Philippians,” pages 125-126 in The Apostolic Fathers, 2nd ed., translation J.B. Lightfoot and J.R. Harmer, ed. Michael Holmes (orig pub 1891) Grand Rapids: Baker.

Footnotes

[1] Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (Gal 6:7)

[2]Campbell (2010) sees Jesus’ attitude towards the woman caught in adultery as our template for ministry (John 8).

Fortson and Grams: Bible Limits Sex to Christian Marriage, Part 2

Also see:

Vanhoozer: How Do We Understand the Bible? Part 1 

Books, Films, and Ministry

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Transcendence_2018

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Monday Monologue, Image Theology, May 21, 2018 (Podcast)

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I share a Pentecost prayer and a reflection on image theology.

To listen, click on the link below.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

Monday Monologue, Image Theology, May 21, 2018 (Podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2018_Ascension

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Image Theology

Stephen W. Hiemstra, Simple FaithBy Stephen W. Hiemstra

Who is God?  And what does it mean to be created in the image of God as male and female?

Let’s start with the reference in the Book of Genesis:

“Then God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Gen 1:26-28 ESV)

The context here is important. We are in the first chapter of the first book in the Bible so every implied by these three verses about what it means to be created in the image of God has to appear in the prior verses. How does the text describe God?

First, verse one tells us that God is a creator who, being eternal, sovereignly stands outside time and space. Second, verse two shows us that God can through his spirit enter into his creation. Third, having created heaven and earth, verse three describes God speaking to shape the form of creation beginning with light. Note the exact correspondence between what God says (“Let there be light”) and what he does (“and there was light”)—God is truthful, authentic. Forth, verse four tells us that God judged to be good and he separated it from darkness—God discriminates good (light) from the not so good (darkness). God cares about ethics.

God later describes his ethical character in detail to Moses after giving the Ten Commandments a second time:

“The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, the LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness…” (Exod 34:6)

God’s self-disclosure was important for understanding how to interpret the Ten Commandments, should questions arise, but it also underscores the creation account providing insight into whose image we are created to reflect.

Going back to Genesis 1:26-28, two aspects of God’s image are highlight in our own creation description. We are created by a sovereign God who creates us to participate in his creation in two specific ways: we are to “have dominion” over the created order and we are to “be fruitful and multiply.” How are we to accomplish these things? Following God’s ethical image, we are to be discerning of the good, merciful, gracious, patient, loving, and truthful. 

Although God created animals prior to Adam and Eve and they were also commanded to “be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:22), they could not reflect God’s ethical image and God did not give them dominion. 

At this point in Genesis, God also intended us also to share in his eternal nature. However, before God conferred immortality on us, he posed an ethical test. Would Adam and Eve reflect God’s ethical nature?

The test came in the form of a command:

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, you may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:16-17)

Satan tempted Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and they ate. Because Satan had done this, God cursed him:

“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:15)

The “he” in this verse is singular and points to a future redeemer (Job 19:25), who Christians identify as Jesus Christ (John 1:1-3). After this point in the narrative, God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden where they were subject to the curse of death. We thus see that the original sin of Adam and Eve separated us from the Garden of Eden, eternal life, and fully reflecting the image of God.

Jesus underscores this image theology in several important ways. First, he is revealed as the ethical image of God with God during creation:

“He [Jesus]was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John. 1:2-5)

Second, Jesus uses image theology in teaching prayer to his disciples: “Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt 6:10) In this phrase, the word, “kingdom,” is a commonly used circumlocution to avoid referencing God directly, which in the Jewish faith was considered too holy to be used in common language. In the Old Testament, for example, we often see the term, Lord (adonai in Hebrew), used instead of God’s covenant name, YHWH, often pronounced Yahweh.

Third, just like Jesus asserts God’s sovereignty over heaven and hell in his death on the cross, the disciples are commissioned to assert God’s sovereignty over the earth after the ascension. Right before he ascended, Jesus said:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

This parallel ministry is also discussed in John’s Gospel: “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” (John 20:21) In other words, the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”, is not an incidental footnote in Jesus’ ministry or a latter addition to the text as some allege, it is a direct consequence of the image theology in Genesis 1. Likewise in the Apostle Paul’s writing we see a dichotomy between a putting off of the old self and a putting on of the new self in Christ (Eph 4:22-24), as we are transformed by the image of the living God.

 

Image Theology

Also see:

A Roadmap of Simple Faith

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2018_Ascension

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Monday Monologue, Trinity in Creation, April 9, 2018 (Podcast)

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I share a prayer for church workers and a reflection on the Trinity as seen in the Creation accounts of the Book of Genesis.

To listen, click on the link below.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

 Monday Monologue, Trinity in Creation, April 9, 2018 (Podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Holy_Week_2018

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Monday Monologue, Sermon, April 2, 2018 (Podcast)

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

In today’s podcast, I share a sermon, Slave of Christ given originally in Spanish.

To listen, click on the link below.

After listening, please click here to take a brief listener survey (10 questions).

Monday Monologue, Sermon, April 2, 2018 (Podcast)

Also see:

Monday Monologue On March 26, 2018 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter: http://bit.ly/Holy_Week_2018

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Slave of Christ

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sermon delivered in Spanish at El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, March 22, 2018.

Prelude

Good evening. For those who do not know me, my name is Stephen W. Hiemstra. I am a volunteer pastor and Christian author. My wife, Maryam, and I live in Centreville, VA and we have three grown children.

Today we continue our study of collaborators of the Gospel. I will be discussing the question: In what sense are we slaves of Christ. (2X)

Prayer

Let’s pray.

Almighty Father,

We give praise that you created us in your image and love us as your children. We especially present in this time and this place. In the power of your Holy Spirit, bless our praise and work here in Georgetown South. In the precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Scripture

Today’s scripture less comes from the Book of Genesis 1:26-27. Here the word of the Lord:

Then God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27 ESV)

The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.

Introduction

Allow me to begin with a bit of history from my own walk with the Lord.

My son, Reza, was born in August 1992 while I worked as a bank examiner with the Farm Credit Administration in McLean, Virginia. I normally traveled with the examination team four nights a week. For this reason and to facilitate breast feeding, my wife moved Reza’s crib into our bedroom

One Saturday night in October at 2 in the morning, Reza went into convulsions. As a ten-week old baby, it was not very obvious or very loud, but Maryam knew immediately that somethings was not right and we called 9-11 for emergency assistance. Reza was taken to Fair Oaks Hospital and then transferred to Fairfax Hospital. For the entire day, we did not know what had happened, but by Sunday evening they discovered that he had been born with only one kidney and that kidney’s duct had folded over on itself. He needed emergency surgery to correct the problem and was moved again to Georgetown University Hospital.

Alone with my son before terrifying surgery, I was stressed out and emotional. For the first time in my life, I began to negotiate with God for the life of my son. I prayed to God: do not take my son; take me. (2X)

Ten years later, my son was healthy and God reminded me of the promise in my prayer. At that point, I began to seek a seminary. When I say that I am a slave of Christ, I have both personal and biblical reasons. As someone bought and paid for with acts of grace and mercy, I am a slave of Christ. (2X)

Today’s Scripture

In the ancient world there were two types of kings. A local king, who ruled a small kingdom, and a king of kings who possessed a much larger kingdom. In effect, a king of kings had many kingdoms each established through conquest and delegated to his subordinates, who had local kingdoms.

In today’s text we see this same model of kings. Returning to the Garden of Eden, we see God creating us in his image and giving us dominion—

over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27 ESV)

In this passage, God was described as a King of kings, who established a new kingdom in creation for his subordinates, Adam and Eve.

So why do we care? (2X)

We care because since the beginning we were created as servants of God and as slaves totally dependent on our creator and king of kings, God. Since the beginning, we were slaves of God. (2X)

Servants and Slaves

From the beginning, we were not content to be servants or slaves of God. Immediately after creation, Adam and Eve want a promotion and following the suggestion of Satan eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:17 ESV). This act was directly against the will of God, constituted an alliance with Satan, and was an act of rebellion against the kingdom of God.

The title, slave of God, appears the first time in the Book of Joshua 1:1-2:

After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.  (Jos. 1:1-2 ESV)

In these two verses, it reads in the Hebrew “slave of the Lord”, but most of the time it is translated in English and Spanish as servant of the Lord.

This same interpretative tension exists in the translation of Paul when he uses this same title in Romans 1:1:

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Rom 1:1 ESV)

In this case as well, the original Greek reads slave of Christ, but in English and Spanish the translation reads servant of Christ. This translation is politically correct. But because we are bought and paid for with the blood of Christ, the better translation is slave of Christ, as the Greek says. We are slaves of Christ. (2X)

Servant or Slave?

The older folks here probably remember a hymn:[1] Nothing but the Blood of Jesus, which makes the point found in Hebrews 9:13-14:

“For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Heb 9:13-14 ESV)

We were bought and paid for with the death of Christ on the cross. Thus, we are slaves of Christ. (2X)

Application

In summary, we are slaves of Christ. But why is this important?

When our identities are in Christ before other things we have new priorities. First, life is much easier. We are not slaves of our spouses, families, work, or any other things that a hard life can take from us. Neither are we slaves of fear, emotional pain, addictions, unmentionable sins, or any other chain of Satan. We have liberty in Christ to live within God’s will and are not slaves of any other person.

For example, our marriages are still important, just not ultimately important. In fact, it is much easier to respect our spouses when they are our love and not our masters. The same is true of our kids, parents, and other people. We are equal under Christ and are responsible to love one another as we love ourselves, as the Apostle Paul taught (Eph 6:1-9). Love is more precious because it can never be obligatory.

There are at least three other reasons why we want to accept this title of slave of Christ.

First, the first commandment says:You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exod 20:3 ESV) Note that it does not say no other gods, except for your love, your work, your favorite sports team, and other things.

Second, if we have something other than God as our first priority, bad things can happen. A workaholic without work, for example, is a good candidate for suicide, as we witness every day in this rich society.

Third, God loves us more than anyone else. It would be foolish to disrespect this love. We are slaves of Christ by the grace of God.

Prayer

Let’s pray.

Heavenly father,

Thank you for the forgiveness that Easter brought with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Thank you that in Christ we are slaves of your love and kings in your creation. In the power of your Holy Spirit, give us the strength to live in your truth this day and every day. In the precious name of Jesus. Amen.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aGJwAENQuk.

Slave of Christ

Also see:

Blackaby Expects Answers to Prayer 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018

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Esclavo de Cristo

Stephen W. Hiemstra, www.StephenWHiemstra.net
Stephen W. Hiemstra, 2017

Por Stephen W. Hiemstra

Sermón compartó a la iglesia El Shadai, Manassas, Virginia, 22 de marzo, 2018.

Preludio

Buenos tardes. Para aquellos que no me conocen, me llama Stephen W. Hiemstra. Soy pastor voluntario y autor cristiano. Mi esposa, Maryam, y yo vivimos in Centreville, Virginia y tenemos tres hijos crecidos.

Hoy día continuamos nuestro estudio sobre colaboradores en el evangelio. Voy a discutir la pregunta: ¿En cual sentido somos esclavos de Cristo? (2X)

Oración

Vamos a orar.

Padre Todopoderoso,

Alabamos que creaste nos en tu imagen y ama nos como tus niños. Sea especialmente presente con nosotros en este tiempo y este lugar. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, bendice nuestra alabanza y trabajo aquí en tu pueblo Georgetown South. En el precioso nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.

Escritura

El texto de hoy viene del libro de Génesis 1:26-27. Escucha a la palabra de Dios

y dijo: «Hagamos al ser humano a nuestra imagen y semejanza. Que tenga dominio sobre los peces del mar, y sobre las aves del cielo; sobre los animales domésticos, sobre los animales salvajes, y sobre todos los reptiles que se arrastran por el suelo.» Y Dios creó al ser humano a su imagen; lo creó a imagen de Dios. Hombre y mujer los creó (Gen 1:26-27 NVI)

La palabra del Señor. Gracias a Dios.

Introducción

Permítanme a empezar con una historia importante en me propio camino con el señor.

Mi hijo, Reza, fue nacido en agosto de 1992 cuando yo trabajaba como examinar de bancos con la Administración de Crédito Agrícola en McLean, Virginia. Normalmente viajaba con el equipo de examinación por cuarto noches cada semana. Por esta razón y para facilitar la lactancia, mi esposa muevo la cuna de Reza en nuestra sala por la noche.

Una noche de sábado en octubre a las dos de la mañana, Reza entró en convulsiones. Como bebé de diez semanas, no fue muy obvio o muy ruidoso, pero Maryam supo inmediatamente que algo andaba mal y llamamos al 911 para servicios de emergencia. Reza fue al hospital de Fair Oaks y fue movido al hospital de Fairfax. Por un día completo, no supimos que paso, pero por la tarde de domingo aprendimos que él fue nacido con solamente un riñón y el conducto de este riñón fue bloqueado. Él necesitaría una operación de emergencia y fue movido otra vez, este tiempo al hospital del Universario de Georgetown.

A solas con mi hijo antes de cirugía aterradora, fui muy estresado y emocional. Para la prima vez en mi vida, empecé de negociar con Dios para la vida de mi hijo. Pide al senior: no toma mi hijo; tómame. (2X)

Diez años después, mi hijo fue saludable y Dios recuérdeme de la promesa en mi oración y empecé a buscar un seminario. Cuando yo digo que soy un esclavo de Cristo, tengo razones tanto personales como bíblico. Como alguien compró y pagó por las acciones de gracias y misericordia de Dios, soy esclavo de Cristo. (2X)

Escritura de Hoy

n el mundo primitivo hubo dos tipos de reyes. Un rey locale, quien tuvo un reino pequeño y un rey de reyes quien tenia un reino más grande. En efecto, un rey de reyes tenia muchos reinos todos establecido por conquista y delegado para sus subordinantes, quienes fueron reyes locales.
En nuestro texto de hoy vemos lo mismo modelo de reyes. Retórnanos al Jardín de Edén donde Dios nos creó en su imagen y darnos dominio—
«… sobre los peces del mar, y sobre las aves del cielo; sobre los animales domésticos, sobre los animales salvajes, y sobre todos los reptiles que se arrastran por el suelo.» (Gen 1:26-27)

En este pasaje, Dios fue describió como un rey de reyes, quien estableció un nuevo reino en la creación para sus subordinantes, Adán y Eva.

¿Por qué nos importa? (2X)

Porque desde hace el principio fuimos creado como sirvientes de Dios y como esclavos dependiente totalmente a nuestro creador y rey de reyes, Dios.

Desde hace el principio, fuimos esclavos de Dios. (2X)

Sirviente y Esclavo

Desde el principio, no fuimos contento a ser sirvientes o esclavos de Dios. Inmediatamente después la creación Adán y Eva querían
una promoción y siguiente la sugestión de Satán comieron la fruta del “árbol del conocimiento del bien y del mal” (Gen 2:17 NVI). Este acto fue directamente contra de la voluntad de Dios, constituyó una alianza con Satán, y fue un acto de rebelión contra el reino de Dios.

Este titulo, esclavo de Dios, aparece la primera vez en el libro de Joshua 1:1-2:

Después de la muerte de Moisés, siervo del SEÑOR, Dios le dijo a Josué hijo de Nun, asistente de Moisés: «Mi siervo Moisés ha muerto. Por eso tú y todo este pueblo deberán prepararse para cruzar el río Jordán y entrar a la tierra que les daré a ustedes los israelitas. (Jos 1:1-2 NVI)

En estos dos versículos, se dice en el hebreo “esclavo del Señor”, pero se traduce en español y ingles también como siervo del Senior.

La misma tensión existe en la traducción de Pablo cuando use de este titulo en Romanos 1:1:

Pablo, siervo de Cristo Jesús, llamado a ser apóstol, apartado para anunciar el evangelio de Dios, (Rom 1:1 NVI)

En este caso también, el griego original dice esclavo de Cristo, pero en español como en ingles la traducción dice sirviente de Cristo. Esta traducción es políticamente correcta. Pero por razón de fuimos compró y pagó por la sangre de Cristo, la traducción mejor es esclavo de Cristo como el griego dice. Somos esclavos de Cristo. (2X)

¿Sirviente o Esclavos?

Ancianos entre nosotros recuerdan un himno,[1] Solo de Jesús, La Sangre, que hace la punta de Hebreos 9:13-14:

La sangre de machos cabríos y de toros, y las cenizas de una novilla rociadas sobre personas impuras, las santifican de modo que quedan limpias por fuera. Si esto es así, ¡cuánto más la sangre de Cristo, quien por medio del Espíritu eterno se ofreció sin mancha a Dios, purificará nuestra conciencia de las obras que conducen a la muerte, a fin de que sirvamos al Dios viviente! (Heb 9:13-14 NVI)

Fuimos compró y pagó por la muerte de Cristo por la cruz. Entonces, somos esclavos de Cristo. (2X)

Aplicación

En fin, somos esclavos de Cristo. Pero ¿que significa es?

Cuando nuestra identidad es en Cristo ante otras cosas tenemos nuevas prioridades. Primero, la vida es más fácil. No somos esclavos de nuestras cónyuges, familias, trabajos, o cualquiera otra cosa que una dura vida pueda tomar de nosotros. Tenemos libertad en Cristo a vivir dentro la voluntad de Dios y no ser esclavos de cualquiera otra persona.

Por ejemplo, nuestro matrimonio es todavía importante, pero ni últimamente importante. De hecho, eso es mas fácil a respeto tu cónyuge, cuando ella es tu amor y no es “la Señora”. Lo mismo con tus hijos, padres, y otras personas. Somos igual bajo Cristo y responsables a amar el uno del otro como nos amamos a nosotros mismos, como el Apóstalo Pablo ensenó (Eph 6:1-9). El amor es precioso por razón que nunca es obligatorio.

Hay al menos de tres otras razones para que queremos aceptar este titulo de esclavos de Cristo.

Primero, el primer mandamiento lo dice: “No tengas otros dioses además de mí” (Exod 20:3 NVI). Notan que no dice no dioses, excusando tu amor, tu trabajo, tu deporte favorito, y otras cosas.

Segundo, si tenemos una cosa otra al Dios como nuestra primera prioridad, males cosas pueden pasar. Un trabajador obsesivo sin trabajo, por ejemplo, es un candidato numero uno para suicidio, como vemos cada día en esta rica sociedad.

Tercero, Dios ámanos más que cualquiera otra persona. (2X) Es una tontería no respetar este amor.

Somos esclavos de Cristo, gracias a Dios.

Oración

Oramos.

Padre nuestro en el cielo,

Gracias por tu perdón que viene por Pascua en la muerte y resurrección de Cristo. Gracias que en Cristo somos esclavos de tu amor y reyes en tu creación. En el poder de tu Espíritu Santo, danos el esfuerzo para vivir en tu realidad este día y cada día. En el preciso nombre de Jesucristo. Amen.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLU_u0Ss4Vc. http://www.himnos-cristianos.com/pdf/que-me-puede-dar-perdon.pdf.

Esclavo de Cristo

Also see:

Blackaby Expects Answers to Prayer 

Christian Spirituality 

Looking Back 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/Lent-2018

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Beginning and Ending Prayer

Table SettingBeginning and Ending Prayer

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Almighty Father,

We praise you for creating us, male and female, in your image, not for our glory, but yours in the beginning (Gen 1:27).

In humility, we confess that we have not always preferred to live in your light or to be good (Gen 1:3-4).

We give thanks that in creating heaven and earth you made your presence abundantly clear (Romans 1:19-20)

and that we might escape perdition through the death and resurrection of your son (1 Cor 15:3-4).

We beg you that we might choose the light and honor your son through the power of your Holy Spirit (John 14:6).

Through Jesus Christ, who is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end (Rev 1:8), Amen.

 

Also see:

Prayer for Shalom 

A Place for Authoritative Prayer 

Other ways to engage online:

Author site: http://www.StephenWHiemstra.net, Publisher site: http://www.T2Pneuma.com.

Newsletter at: http://bit.ly/2fEPbBK

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Living into the Image

Doug_and_Christine_08272016bLiving into the Image

By Stephen W. Hiemstra

Service for Recommitment of Vows for Christine Nousheen Hiemstra and Douglas Warren Ferrer,

Centreville, Virginia, September 4, 2016

A quiet little secret in this postmodern age is often overlooked by those of us who seldom read our Bibles: marriage is God’s idea, not ours. Marriage was not enacted by an act of Congress or decreed by the Supreme Court; marriage was not invented by some church committee way or some really popular saint way back when. Marriage was God’s idea which we know because the Bible begins and ends with a wedding.[1]

How do we know? (2X)

The short answer comes in verse 27 of the first chapter of Genesis:

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27 ESV)

In other words, God created us together in his image and, in case there is any misunderstanding, this image couple was given a mission-statement in the next verse:

“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28 ESV).

The vows are then repeated in chapter 2 where we read:

“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Gen 2:23-24 ESV)

So after the wedding ceremony is over, Adam and Eve are a couple on their own, not living with mom and dad in stark contrast with the custom in pagan societies of the ancient world.[2]

But what does it mean to be created in the image of God? (2X)

The answer to this question is found in our second reading from the Book of Exodus. The context for this verse is that after God gives Moses the Ten Commandments (and after Moses broke the first set of tablets), he says to him directly:

“The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exod 34:6)

Much like Congress after passing legislation will publish a “conference report” explaining how to interpret the new law, God reveals his character in five key words as a tool for interpreting the Ten Commandments. These five character traits are repeated throughout the Old and New Testaments in different forms, which is the Bible’s way of saying stop and pay attention here. Let’s take a moment to reflect on each of these five traits, as they give insight into God’s prescription for marriage.

The first of these traits is: mercy. Mercy is what you ask the judge for right after you have just admitted that you are guilty. Mercy is unwarranted and undeserved forgiveness.

Christine, offer mercy to Doug when he screws up; Doug, extend mercy to Christine when she has just done it again. When you offer mercy to one another, you honor God and make love possible.

The second of these traits is: compassion. Compassion comes from the Latin expression, with passion, in the sense of having passion out of understanding for someone else. A great example of compassion was going around on social media earlier this year—a policeman was called to grocery store to arrest a woman for shoplifting. She explained that she stole food to give her kids a meal and, instead of arresting her, the policeman bought her a cart load of groceries and drove her home.

Doug, take time to understand Christine when she screws up. Christine, walk alongside Doug when he does not seem to be himself. Understand each other before you criticize each other. Remember the policeman’s heart.

The third of these traits is: patience—be slow to anger. The Hebrew used here literally says:  be long nostrilled!  In other words, take a deep breath; listen; and count to ten before responding when something is not quite what you were expecting. Patience is so under-practiced in our “I WANT IT NOW” generation.  Be a rebel: practice patience!

The fourth trait is two Hebrew words, rav hesed (‎רַב־חֶ֥סֶד), which does not translate well into English. It literally means “great love”, but the context suggests something other than “abounding in steadfast love”. God has just given Moses the Ten Commandments—kind of like a superpower promising a military alliance to a small country in a dangerous neck of the woods. Love here means that you keep your promises—especially when it hurts. I call this “covenantal love”.

In my case, I told Maryam when we were married that I did not believe in divorce. I told myself that I would not let anything come between us in our marriage—not our friends, not our families, not even my own ego. Keeping our marriage vows was the priority over everything, short of my faith in God. For me, that is covenantal love.

The final trait is translated faithfulness. The Hebrew word, emeth (אֱמֶֽת), also means truth.  When the Apostle John says that: “grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 ESV), he is making an allusion to this very same verse in Exodus and, by inference, is making a divinity claim in reference to Jesus.

Faithfulness and truth go hand-in-hand, yet truth should only (2X) be told in a context of grace, otherwise it will simply not be heard.

Doug, Christine—be truthful with one another, but speak truth only out of love.

In closing, bear the image of God in your life with one another. Practice mercy and compassion, be patient with one another, honor your vows, and speak truth only in the context of love. Bear God’s image and draw closer to God and to one another as you do so. Amen and Amen.

[1] Keller, Timothy and Kathy Keller. The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God. (New York: Dutton, 2011), page 13.

[2] The Bible ends after the Second Coming with the wedding feast of the people of God. (Rev 21:2, 9; Rev 22:17)

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