Posts Tagged ‘sin’

Are You Hungry? Holiness and the Desire for God

Thursday, August 16th, 2012 by Michelle Vondey

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience. When I encounter the same message from different people at different times in different contexts, I pay attention. I expect that God is trying to tell me something. In recent weeks I’ve read a couple of articles about holiness and a related Scripture passage that had me thinking, “What is God saying to me?” The first encounter I had with the topic of holiness is an article by Cheryl Bridges Johns in the Church of God Evangel. Johns laments that many Christians today see no need for holiness, and that unfortunately, these “profane Christians . . . hinder the message that Jesus came to save, heal, and deliver all creation from the bondage of sin” (p. 13). While there is hope, it begins with the “death of self” and requires that we purge ourselves of self-seeking behaviors. Another discussion is found in the recent entry by Antipas Harris on Renewal Dynamics. Harris reminds us that although we live in this world we are not supposed to live like the world. In particular, “we must remain in tune with the enduring nature of God’s character — holiness to which all believers are called.” As I contemplated Harris’ blog and, in particular the readers’ comments, which seemed to suggest an uncertainty over what holiness is, I happened to read a passage in Col. 3:1-25, in which Paul refers to unholy versus holy behaviors and characteristics. In reflecting on the potential importance of these encounters, I recalled a song from the early 90s that says, “Lord, I hunger for holiness, and I thirst for the righteousness that’s yours.” The song reflects on the relationship of holiness, the desire for God, and the life and death battles (at least spiritually) we must fight in order to be victorious. I wonder, has anyone else been thinking about holiness lately?

Read the rest of this entry »

The Cross

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012 by Diane Chandler

On January 3, 2007, a 50-year old construction worker from Harlem was waiting to catch the NYC subway.  As Wesley Autry waited on the subway platform with his two daughters, ages four and six, he noticed a young man beginning to go into convulsions from an apparent seizure.  Along with two other women, Autry attended to him.  After the 20-year old film student, Cameron Hollopeter, stood up, he wobbled dangerously close to the platform drop-off and then tumbled onto the subway tracks below.

Wesley Autrey

With the subway fast approaching, Autry left his two daughters on the platform and jumped onto the tracks, hoping to pull Hollopeter to safety. With the subway mere seconds away, Autry threw his body over Hollopeter’s frame, as it nested in the 12-inch depression between the tracks, in order to shield him from moving until the subway passed.

Although the subway conductor tried to stop the subway, he could not do so prior to passing over the two-tiered bodies.  In fact, five subway cars passed over them. Through bystanders’ frantic screams and screeching brakes, the subway finally came to a halt. Amazingly, both Autry and Hollopeter emerged from the tracks unscathed. The distance between the top of Autry’s cap and the subway above was less than the length of a subway ticket.

Calvary's Cross

Why would a complete stranger do something for someone else at such great risk to his own life?  Answer:  In that split second decision, Autry valued this young man’s life above his own.  As we think about Calvary’s cross, why would God send His only Son to die for us?  The Bible tells us that, “God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  Paul wrote to the Roman church: “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). Paul declared to the Galatian church: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law”  (Galatians 3:13). The reason God sent His Son to die for us is that in eternity past, God knew that all humanity would need to be restored into right relationship with God through forgiveness of their sins.  Jesus came to take upon Himself the sins of the entire world.  The One who knew no sin became sin for us (2 Cor 5:21). Although many were involved in Christ’s death (i.e., the betrayer Judas Iscariot, complicit Jewish leaders, the Roman soldiers, and Pilate), the Scriptures makes clear that Jesus voluntarily gave Himself to fulfill the Father’s will “so that by the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19b).

In his book The Cross of Christ, John Stott puts it simply (pp. 63-66). First, Christ died for us as the Good Shepherd laying down His life for the sheep. Second, Christ died for us that He might bring us to God through salvation, as we believe in Him. Third, Christ died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3), taking upon Himself the punishment for our sins.  And fourth, Christ died our death.  The Bible makes clear that the penalty of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The sinless Son of God died the death that we deserved.

Like Cameron Hollopeter, I was laying helpless on the subway tracks with the subway fast approaching.  Jesus sacrificially jumped on the tracks of my life (leaving the 99 sheep to reach the one, who had gone astray), just as Autry left his two daughters on the subway platform to save Hollopeter.  Jesus shielded me from certain death. 

In preparing for Easter during this Lenten season, how do you respond when you think about Christ’s forgiveness of sin and His sacrifice on the cross for you personally?

Evangelicalism and the Natural Law

Thursday, March 31st, 2011 by Dale M. Coulter

As with others, I have recently been tracking a healthy conversation about the relationship between natural law and evangelicalism in the blogosphere. I say healthy because it strikes me as the correct way to dialog about such philosophical and theological divergences, especially in the face of the Rob Bell “storm.”

Evidently, Matthew Lee Anderson touched off the conversation with an article in Christianity Today. Jordan Ballor weighed in on the conversation by pointing out Protestantism’s focus on voluntarism, which I find helpful. This prompted some reflection at the First Things’ site by Joe Carter and Joseph Knippenberg. I like, in particular, Knippenberg’s comment about a division among evangelicals between those who are “together” with Catholics and those who talk incessantly about world views. Finally, I would note Vince Bacote’s weighing in on the matter by pointing out some possible connections with Abraham Kuyper.

Since this is largely a conversation among Reformed evangelicals and Catholics (with a sprinkling of Lutheran perspective here and there to add just the right flavor), let me offer the perspective of a Classical Pentecostal.  Read the rest of this entry »

To the Eternal Battle! – A Poem

Monday, December 20th, 2010 by Wolfgang Vondey

Sharp. The sword.                                                           
The edge. Cuts.
Deeply to the heart.
Swift. The strike.
The blade. Glows.
Illuminates the soul.
Painful. The truth.
The word. Divides.
To the core of my being.
Suffering. The fight.
The battle. Endures.
Sin knows no further.
Dead. The Spirit.
The lord and lifegiver. Comes.
Lifts up my heart.
Raised. To new life.
I arise with Christ.
Called with truth sharp and swift.
To the eternal battle!  Read the rest of this entry »

We’ve Fallen and We Can’t Get Up!

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

The doctrine of creation is extremely important in understanding human nature as it should be and as it has become. Once you consider that humans, like all of creation, are contingent, having been created out of no-thing, then their fall into sin and their helplessness to recover from it makes sense.

Creation from nothing says that humans are contingent and fundamentally unstable. Part of the definition for contingency given by the OED is “the condition of being liable to happen or not in the future; uncertainty of occurrence or incidence.” This is the condition that all creatures find themselves in by virtue of their created status. As Athanasius puts it, creatures made out of nothing do not have the capacity to sustain their own existence. All humans have needs that must be met by sources outside of themselves. We must eat, have shelter, and enter relationships that form and shape us because we are social animals. In all of these ways, we depend upon something outside of ourselves to stabilize our lives.

Read the rest of this entry »

Discipling Against the Gnostic Temptation

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010 by Dale M. Coulter

Love creation, not the world

I said in the previous post that I was going to offer a follow up blog entry related to the pastoral implications of the Gnostic temptation. In brief, the Gnostic temptation is…

the attraction of an otherworldly kind of existence when faced with the genuine risk of forming unhealthy bonds with aspects of creation that can lead to addictive and destructive behavior that enslaves.

I now want to discuss some of the pastoral issues surrounding the Gnostic temptation. The purpose is to suggest discipleship practices need to be formulated in such a way as to help individuals avoid this temptation. Believers must

  • Learn to love creation rightly
  • Learn to love their bodies rightly
  • Learn the difference between creation and “the world”

Read the rest of this entry »