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Only believe…

I am working on a sermon for Door of Hope (the 26th of June) and am letting the texts speak to my heart and my trust in the sufficiency of Christ.

I am comparing stories of provision in the bible and in the New Testament text Jesus makes clear our foundation in response to a question of what we must do to be doing the “works of God.” His statement is, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” That is it, he doesn’t build on this theme with 3 steps to perfection or other things we must do. Only believe in the one God sent. Jesus is saying that they must believe in him, he is their provision and hope, alone.

The people will go on to ask for signs and more evidence, I think we still do this today, but the clearest evidence will come once he provides his own body as a sacrifice for them, and us. The truth of the text – of the whole Biblical narrative – is that Jesus is enough for us.

I know that I fail at this realization all too often and formulating a sermon and applying that to lives is forcing me to wrestle a bit with how “only belief” functions in my life. I know and want to live like Jesus is truly enough for me…

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The Insanity of Redemption

This last week I came across a quote that sums up a consistent argument against Christianity.

“The insanity of the Christian doctrine of redemption really doesn’t fit at all into our time. Nevertheless there are learned, educated men, occupying high positions in public life, who cling to it with the faith of a child. It is simply incomprehensible how anybody can consider the Christian doctrine of redemption as a guide for the difficult in life of today… A church that does not keep step with the modern scientific community is doomed. It may take quite a while, but it is bound to finally happen.”

The author goes on to belittle members of the clergy for being ignorant and essentially believes that Christianity is not compatible with modern society and thinking. Certainly this is a statement that you could hear on the streets of Portland or in the classrooms of our schools and it is not a new idea. But this quote is not from an academic or your neighbor. This is from the personal diary of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s propaganda director and a central figure in the rise of the Nazis in Germany in the 1930s.

As I read Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer I am fascinated by the way in which the German church shifted its theology to match the philosophy of the National Socialists. It is an important lesson in maintaining clear, Biblical theology in the face of popular opinion or “new” ideas. Today we may not have Nazi influence but there certainly are movements that challenge the tenets of denominations, think of those that have shifted in the past decade over cultural issues no longer held as important.

History reminds us over and over to stick with scripture and to trust in grace alone but too often we are swayed by slick speaking and things of a “tolerant” or a “generous” philosophy. Should we determine to be more about the cross and Christ as the only way to the father? I think so.