Monday, January 30, 2012

Christian Believer: Week Fifteen {Lord}

Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon His throne.
Hark! How the heavenly anthem drowns all music but its own.
Awake, my soul, and sing of Him who died for thee,
And hail Him as thy matchless King through all eternity.
["Crown Him with Many Crowns", Mathew Bridges]

The lesson week before last was "Jesus Christ: Lord" (Jesus Christ Is Lord).  I loved this lesson, but I didn't realize until typing it up that it may well be one of my favorites.  I actually remembered a lot of our discussion, this time, as well (a benefit of doing these posts in a timely manner), so I think that's interesting.  I realize this is long and tedious, so I took the liberty of bolding my favorite things.  I may have been a bit liberal with my bold button, however ;)

We started with the video, which had some interesting points.  First, when early Christians said "Jesus is Lord", they applied a title used by pious Jews only for God.  The term they used for Lord, Yahweh (which means "I am who I am") was so sacred Jews wouldn't say it out loud. They began using the name Adonai and that later became Kyrios.  That earliest Christian confession, "Jesus is Lord", somehow, in some way, meant nothing less than "Jesus Christ is Yahweh".  This formula seems to include an inequation, though.  Because Jesus's lordship and superiority were fundamentally different than God the Father.  For example, Jesus announced God's kingdom, called God the one good God, prayed to God, distinguished his own will from the Father's, felt forsaken on the cross, said the Father was greater, and explained himself as an emissary who "lived to do the Father's will, speak the Father's word, and finish the Father's work".   As the video states, "This all seems to make the words 'Christ is Lord' strike a false chord, because he points beyond himself to the Father". 

However, we see from the Bible that Jesus, as the Word of God, was "in the begining" and "was God and was with God".  We also see perhaps the most powerful declarations of Jesus's lordship in the "I am" sayings found in the book of John.  Jesus says I am...the Bread of Life; the Good Shepherd; the Ressurection and the Life; the Way, the Truth and the Life; and the True Vine.  As modern day Christians, we tend to place emphasis on the object (for example, the Good Shepherd), however, when we look at the Greek, there is strong emphasis on the "I am" part of the phrase and its strong ties to the name Yahweh. The most notable instances are when Jesus was before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling body) and said "Before Abraham was...I am" and when he was before Caphias (the high priest) and was asked "Are you the Messiah?" and he replied, "I am".  The Sanhedrin and Caphias both sought death because he was claiming to be Yahweh. 

The video ended by saying that the confession "Jesus is Lord" reveals Christians' faith in the full divinity of Christ.  I liked this last little tidbit, especially..."This is knowledge not open to reason or any human ability.  You could be richer than the highest paid corporate executive and not be able to buy this knowledge.  You could be more pious than mystics of old or saints today and not be able to achieve this knowledge.  You could lead more people to Jesus Christ than the world's best evangelist and not be able to earn this knowledge.  It comes only through faith in Jesus Christ and faith is a gift of the Holy Spirit."

The workbook was full of great insights, too.  It first started by saying that the existential question is "Not what do I do?" and that this is where the "rubber meets the road".  We all have some lord, the trouble is confessing it and sometimes even recognizing it.  I really liked these lines, because they are SO convicting-- "...the lordship part is inescapable.  Call it the determining principle in your life, or your grand passion.  Or don't call it anything, but ponder what calls the shots in your life.  Or become honest with yourself and call it God, with a big or a small g.  Everybody has a Lord." Well, then. 

However, whereas many of these "little g" gods (money, ambition, sensuality, ect.) slip in unconsciously, Jesus never does.  It may be so gradual that we don't recall exactly when it happened, but Jesus never slips up on us without our agreeing to it.  He values our integrity and personhood too much to do that. He becomes our Lord only by confession, "first of all, to my own soul; then to God; and then to others and to the life I lead".

The book then talked about the necessity of also confessing our sin and said "the only ones who say it easily are the saints who have come to a wondrous openness to God, or the spiritually naive whose conception of sin is so superficial that they feel nos discomfort in confessing".  This lead to several discussions in our group.  For one, we discussed which comes first, the confession of sin or the confession of Christ as Lord?  It seems to be a bit of a chicken and the egg sort of conundrum, but we resolved that though we are continually confessing both in our daily living, the initial confession of Christ as Lord ultimately includes the confession of sin (which we must be made aware of in order to truly confess him as Savior).  I liked how the book phrased it- "We confess sin because we fall short of the glory of God.  We continue to confess our faith because with each day of living, we know more of the greatness of our Lord and see larger areas of life we wish to commit to his Lordship".

The book also discussed the possibility of the fields of therapy and counseling having replaced the relgioius confession of sin.  This lead to Peyton discussing his Catholic background and also to the group dialoging about the importance of accountability.    We also discussed how the book noted that in our age of individualism and independence we are less likely to confess our need.  However, when the our bodies are in pain or our relationships are damaged, our spirit sees more clearly its need for a savior.

We see, though, that the New Testament speaks much less often of the confession of sin than of the confession of Christ as Lord.  The later is simply more substantive than the former, because it means that I give God the one thing that is mine to give- "my commitment, my confession, my person". 

Finally, the group discussed if a verbal confession is always required and who God was refering to when he spoke of the "hot", "cold", and "lukewarm".  

Here are the Scriptures and readings I enjoyed most that week:
"For you, O Lord, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling." -Psalm 116:8

"Even if I washed myself with soap and my hands with washing soda, you would plunge me into the slime pit so that even my clothes would detest me.  He is not a man like me that I might answer him, that we might confront each other in court.  If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God's rode from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Then I would speak up without fear of him, but as it now stands with me, I cannot." -Job 9:30-35

"How, then can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news'." -Romans 10:14-15

"That if you confess with your mouth 'Jesus is Lord' and belive in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved." -Romans 10:9-10

"So because you are lukewarm- neither hot nor cold- I am about to spit you out of my mouth." -Revelation 3:16

"Just as the four extremities of the Cross are held fast and bound together by the bolt in the middle, so also by God's power the height and depth, the length and the breadth, that is, every creature visible and invisible, is maintained." -John of Damascus

"Let me love to sit at Thy feet, and suck in with my ears and heart the sweetness of Thy hold sermons.  Let my soul be shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, with a peaceable and docile disposition.  Give me great boldness in the public confession of Thy name and the truth of Thy gospel, in despite of all hostilities and temptations.  And grant that I may always remember that Thy name is called upon me, and may so behave myself, that I neither give scandal to others, nor cause disreputation to the honour of religion; but that Thou mayest be glorified in me, and I by Thy mercies, after a strict observance of all the holy laws of Christianity.  Amen." -Jeremy Taylor

"Someone has said that all great discoveries are reduction from complexity to simplicity.  But of all the reductions from complexity to simplicity the greatest and profoundest was in the earliest creed: 'Jesus is Lord'. Three words, and yet three worlds are in them- heaven, earth, and hell...How did it happen that this phrase arose out of a fiercely monotheistic people whose central confession was: 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord' (Deut 6:4).  His impact upon nature and human living was so tremendous that they found their unwilling lips making the most momentous confession that ever fell from human lips anywhere at any time.  It was life's central revelation.  And the revelation was this: 'This man, who walked our dusty roads, slept upon our hillsides, was crucified on one of our trees, and was laid in one of our rock tombs, was at the right hand of final authority- was Lord and would have the final say in human affairs.' That confession was breath-taking".  -E. Stanley Jones

"We repudiate the false teaching that the church can and must recognize yet other happenings and powers, images and truths as divine revelation alongside this one Word of God, as a source of her preaching...We repudiate the false teaching that there are areas of life in which we belong not to Jesus Christ but to another lord, areais in which we do not need justification and sanctificantion through him." -Barmen Declaration

"We are fighting to-day for costly grace...It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son.  Above all it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.  Costly grace is the Incarnation of God. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"'You shall remember the Lord, your God!' We are not asked to remember God in general.  We are in constant temptation to think of some abstraction when we pronounce or hear the word 'God"...The Lord, your God is a God with a name, a face, a personality." -Karl Barth

Because we the church believe the proper human response to God's gift of grace is our confession of sin and of faith, I choose to make my full confession. 

No comments: