September 27, 2014

Christians are baptized in water and in the Holy Spirit (Baptism)

 “No one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit (John 3.5) 

 The Gospel Reading (John 3.1-6) teaches us that Christian Baptism is like being born again - in two distinct experiences. The visible physical part is the water baptism in which there is a washing away or death to the past, self-centred and sin controlled life. Since the Holy Spirit cannot live in an unholy person, water baptism prepares the way for new birth when a person receives and experiences the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
1)     Ezekiel teaches us that God will “Gather” us and “bring us back” into right relationship in His Kingdom
Ezekiel (36.24-28) describes the ‘re-covenanting’ of the Hebrews who had broken the Covenant of Moses, rebelled against God and suffered for the 40 years known as the Babylonian Captivity. The root cause of this loss of faith was a failure of parents and synagogue leaders to pass on and nurture their children in the Hebrew Faith. Ezekiel, writing 400 years before Jesus prophesied a new Covenant of washing and cleansing sin away and infilling with the Holy Spirit:

a. Promise of “your own land’ a homeland / protection

September 12, 2014

The Gift of Mercy ( Proper 24)

It has been said that if we all got what we deserved we would all be taken out and ‘horsewhipped’. Mercy is what stands between justice and punishment. Mercy is a personal divine gift. It is not a ‘right’ – as many hope. It cannot be earned - as many people hope. Mercy is a sign of a heart that loves. The parable of the Unmerciful Servant is a kingdom parable. It is a teaching on what is required of those who are included in the Kingdom of God. They are required to have demonstrated mercy. This is what Jesus meant by "Blessed are the merciful for they shall be shown mercy." (Matthew 5.7) Mercy is the ability to give up the right to judge others and the right to pay back - and instead forgive from the heart. We will be judged and forgiven in the same way that we have judged and forgiven others. This is a test of our love and mercy.

1. The Parable teaches us how people are judged by God
The King or Master is of course God. Jesus is the one who loves us enough to give up His life in payment for the huge debt of our sins. The person being considered for entry into the Kingdom is the servant who was forgiven a huge, un-payable debt. None of us could ever work hard enough at being good to earn the forgiveness we need for entry into the Kingdom of God.

·         Protestant Liberal Theology has deceived many people into a vague belief that God will somehow love us and save us – this is not Biblical

·         The Bible is very clear that the ‘Somehow”  is always through repentance, confession and trust in the Cross of Jesus

·         Lords’ Prayer - We pray that God will forgive us our trespasses / debt as we have forgiven those who trespass against us

·         The Unmerciful Servant revealed his failure to love God and his neighbor and is put out of the Kingdom of God

2. Un-forgiveness is a sin that pollutes our soul and affects our life