Archive for the ‘Theology’ Category
And the modern fixation on ‘church growth’ is a distortion of Christianity. The growth of the church is the work of the Spirit. Period. The only ‘church growth’ ‘program’ the Scriptures know is the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of unbelievers and believers. Period.
Jesus died for our sins. That’s worth remembering. Worth memorializing.
Faith is given to those who have been elected and ordained to eternal life, but so that election precedes, and faith follows election as a sign of it. — Zwingli
The civic duty of the Christian can be summarized thusly: live as a Christian. Abstain from evil (in all its forms, manifestations and appearances as Scripture rightly interpreted knows it and not as culture defines it) and do good (as Scripture rightly interpreted knows it and not as culture defines it). Anything or anyone who urges you to depart from living as a Christian can safely be ignored because it is better to obey God than man.
That is the civic duty of the Christian.
How dare you introduce innovations into the Church simply on your own authority and without consulting the Church? I speak only of those churches in which the word of God is publicly and faithfully preached. For if every blockhead who had a novel or strange opinion were allowed to gather a sect around him, divisions and sects would become so numerous that the Christian body which we now build up with such difficulty would be broken to pieces in every individual congregation. Therefore no innovations ought to be made except with the common consent of the church and not merely of a single person. For the judgment of scripture is not mine or yours, but the church’s.
If it is indeed the case that there are in churches both believers and nonbelievers, then we need to make a distinction between the visible Church and the invisible, genuine, universal Church. What’s seen with the eyes is the visible Church, prone to containing members that are both saved and lost. What the eye cannot see is the invisible, universal Church which is composed entirely of believers. God alone sees that congregation.
Consequently, the visible Church contains within itself many who are insolent and hostile, thinking nothing of it if they are excommunicated a hundred times, seeing they have no faith. — Huldrych Zwingli
[The torments of hell] – “They are the most exquisite pains of soul and body (for both had sinned), arising from the fear and sense of the most just wrath and vengeance of God against sins, the most sad consciousness of which they carry about with them, the baseness of which is manifest, and of which, likewise, no remission afterwards, and, therefore, no mitigation or end can be hoped for. Whence, in misery, they will execrate, with horrible lamentation and wailing, their former impiety, by which they carelessly neglected the admonitions of their brethren and all the means of attaining salvation; but in vain.
For in perpetual anguish, with dreadful trembling, in shame, confusion, and ignominy, in inextinguishable fire, in weeping and gnashing of teeth, amidst that which is eternal and terrible, torn away from the grace and favor of God, they must quake among devils, and will be tortured without end to eternity. These future torments of the damned far surpass all the penetration of the human mind, so that we are not sufficient to ever comprehend in thought their greatness; therefore, what they will be, or of what nature, cannot be at all expressed in words.
Scripture, nevertheless, in order to show that these tortures are the greatest and most exquisite, likens them to those things by which, in this life, pain both of soul and body is accustomed to be excited. For this reason they are compared now to the gnashing of teeth, now to worms, now to the most sorrowful darkness, and whatever other matters of sadness and of the most complete pain can be mentioned, Is. 66:24; Matt. 5:22; 8:12; Rev. 19:20.” – Matthias Hafenreffer
Is to realize that no one will listen…
He then said, ‘Son of man, go to the House of Israel and tell them what I have said. You are not being sent to a nation that speaks a difficult foreign language; you are being sent to the House of Israel. Not to big nations that speak difficult foreign languages, and whose words you would not understand — if I sent you to them, they would listen to you; but the House of Israel will not listen to you because it will not listen to me.
The whole House of Israel is defiant and obstinate. But now, I am making you as defiant as they are, and as obstinate as they are; I am making your resolution as hard as a diamond, harder than flint. So do not be afraid of them, do not be overawed by them, for they are a tribe of rebels.’
Then he said, ‘Son of man, take to heart everything I say to you, listen carefully, then go to your exiled countrymen and talk to them. Say to them, “Lord Yahweh says this,” whether they listen or not.’ (Ezekiel 3)
Your task isn’t to persuade nor to convince. It is simply to repeat what you’ve been told. In spite of their indifference.
Any other disposition towards your office will lead to burnout, despair, and abandonment of said office.
To put it plainly- your task is to talk to a brick wall. That’s it. Nothing more and nothing less. Understanding that will free you. And if by chance some random person does listen once or twice a decade, enjoy the miracle.