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With Hymns and Prayers, Christians Help Drive Hong Kong’s Protests

Christianity has had a striking influence in demonstrations against a proposed law that would allow extraditions to mainland China.Protesters opposed to a proposed extradition law singing hymns outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Monday.CreditLam Yik Fei for The New York Times

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Meme of the Day

Holy Trinity | "God is our Father. Eternity is patriarchal. And thanks to God's eternal Son, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can join in.:--Dr. Peter S | image tagged in the truth | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

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prayer | “…every time we bend our knees for prayer and then rise again, we show by this action that through sin we fell down to earth, but our Creato | image tagged in prayer | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

Decades ago a fellow pastor said that so many Bible studies really are not about studying the Biblical text but it’s actually about “Bible feelings”.  “Oh, I really like these verses, look I even underlined it  in my Bible.” “Oh, I don’t like that text.”  “I think this verse is culturally insensitive and shows white, patriarchal privilege”. Notice that on TV, radio discussions, our own discussions, we begin so many sentences,  not with I think, I opine, I know, I believe, but I feel.  Everything is subjective. This is the reason, for instance, a man or a boy, feeling he is a female, so is his gender because he feels such.  That is not based in fact. So when I look in the mirror, I am not looking at a social construct, but a biological fact.

This subjectivity is part and parcel of interpretation of literature and texts in general.  So what I bring to say, Shakespeare, is more important than what Shakespeare actually wrote. If I think Shakespeare as a white man, he must have been oppressive and patriarchal, so all of his writings are suspect and suspicious. This same thing has gone for in interpreting the Bible.

As hospice chaplain, after a hospice public event in which I gave the benediction from Numbers 6:22-27, “The LORD bless you…”, I was told by my boss that a couple of board members were offended because the benediction is “exclusive”. I was not to say “Lord”. So if one believes that the name “Lord” is exclusive of certain preferred identity groups, the word “Lord” has to go.  “All who call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved”. Oh, you can’t say, Lord.  The result is simple and devastating: does the devil want people to all upon the Name of the Lord and be saved? Am I comparing people and groups to the devil? In a sense yes, but it is finally the power and principalities and devilish doctrine running amok. I think a legitimate question to such oppression is to ask: Says who?(!)   Calling upon the Name of the Lord and inviting others to the Savior is, as it was in the past, a counter-cultural confession (See Acts 5: 27-29!) and please we have to do so with the love of the Lord for others to so call and be saved.

This past week I watched a lecture by Dr. Larry Arnn, President of Hillsdale College on C. S. Lewis’ book, The Abolition of Man and Dr. Arnn had a very interesting quote: “Privilege the text above the reader”. Regard the text, the Word of God as more important that your self and other selves as well. Keep the Word, hold to the creeds, thumbnail confessions of the witness of the Scripture, Israel and the Church. If we refuse to do so we remain children of the devil.  The Savior does not lose us, but we can lose our Savior and that is everlasting death.  The Lord, as His Word, as His Scriptures, have been around a lot longer than you and I and will so long after we are gone awaiting the Resurrection of the dead. The great motto of the Reformation was and is: Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum:  The Word of the Lord Endures Forever (1 Peter 1: 24-25). And the Word became flesh.

The Church has three Creeds:  the Apostles’, the Nicene and the Athanasian.  Note that all three creeds spend more time on the second article of the Creed, I believe in Jesus Christ than on the Father and the Son.  Why?  When the Lord was baptized by John the Baptist, remember, His Baptism was a revelation of the Holy Trinity:  The Son was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended and the Voice declared, This is my beloved Son. Then, as soon as the Lord manifested Himself in His Baptism by John, soon after the devil went after Jesus when the Lord was in the wilderness fasting 40 days and nights.  The devil stills goes after the confession of “Jesus is the Lord” like biting fleas on a dog.  Why?  To take away our salvation from you and I. 

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness three times, three times He quoted the Bible.  The Lord of heaven and earth privileged the text above the reader, even Himself.  Jesus did not trust His own flesh, His own SINLESS flesh, but the Word. Verbum extra nos: the Word outside of us. God’s Word comes to us that we may take His sure Word to heart and soul. The devil does not want you to think and believe that Jesus is true God from true God, begotten of His Father before all worlds. 

The Jews were ready to stone Jesus to death for His proclamation, before Abraham was, I AM, because they said He was making Himself God.  He did not have to make Himself to be God. He did not as all his signs and powerful deeds attest to His divinity, true man and true God, and He is the Deed that changed the world:  His death and resurrection.  I AM is the same Word the Lord spoke to Moses out of the burning bush. Moses asked the Lord, If I go to Pharoah, who shall I say sent me?  Tell  him, I AM sent me. “I AM” in Greek is “Ego Eimi”. As in most languages, the noun is part of a verb form, so “eimi” is “I am”. “Ego” is “I” and put the words together the phrase is emphatic: “I Myself AM’. This is same phrase used in John’s Gospel in the I AM sayings, I am the Bread of Life, I am the Resurrection and the Life, I am the Good Shepherd. The second article of the Creeds is as still controversial as it was in the Lord’s earthly ministry that Jesus is,

the only-begotten Son of God,
   begotten of His Father before all worlds,
   God of God, Light of Light,
   very God of very God,
   begotten, not made,
   being of one substance with the Father,
   by whom all things were made

We must privilege the text above ourselves because God’s Word is true as the Lord and the Lord alone can save us and has by becoming man as He so loved the world that He gave His Son:

John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Colossians 1:  15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The faith gets personal:  baptism into Christ, His blood shed for sinners upon the cross has effected our Baptism. No true doctrine will make for less than true Christians. If we do not privilege the Biblical Text above the reader, how else can I know that the Lord hears our prayers? We stake all on His Word not feelings above the Word.

“What makes us Christians?  ‘Our faith,’ everyone would answer. How are we saved?  Obviously the regenerating grace of baptism.  How else could we be?  We are confirmed in our understanding that salvation comes through Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Shall we cast away the standard of teaching we have received?” (St.Basil the Great)

Shall we cast away the teaching we have received? You know the answer. We’ve been ignoring Biblical and confessional doctrine and dogma for “spiritual feelings” and ‘thrills’ for so long now. We need to privilege the Text of the Bible above our feelings The point from which radiates the light of God is God Himself: The one God Who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. He has given us His Word to be our Savior. We are called in our day and time to double down on doctrine.

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“We worship God from God, confessing the uniqueness of the persons, while maintaining the unity of the Monarchy.”-St. Basil the Great

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“If you will, you can make me clean.” (Mark 1: 40) What a simple, clean faith. You can make me whole, You alone. The leper (Mark 1) knew he could not make himself clean. Naaman did not make himself clean. Only cats clean themselves. We are not spiritual cats! We can not clean our souls by our actions or words.

Concordia and Koinonia

Lord God, heavenly Father, through the prophet Elisha, You continued the prophetic pattern of leaching Your people the true faith and demonstrating through miracles Your presence in creation to heal it of its brokenness. Grant that Your Church may see in Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the final end-times prophet whose teaching and miracles continue in Your Church through the healing medicine of the Gospel and the Sacraments; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

About Elisha: Elisha, son of Shaphat of the tribe of Issachar, was the prophet of God to the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 849-786 BC. Upon seeing his mentor, Elijah, taken up into heaven, Elisha assumed the prophetic office and took up the mantle of his predecessor. Like Elijah, Elisha played an active role in political affairs. He also performed many miracles, such as curing the Syrian army commander Naaman of his leprosy (2 Kings…

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We have also seen the dumbing down of the Divine Service until it is a slappy, clappy and pretty crappy reflection of our own feelings, not the Truth who sets us free, the Word of God.

Concordia and Koinonia

Thirty-four years ago, my first call as a pastor was to a Lutheran congregation which held dual membership in The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the much smaller breakaway denomination from the LCMS, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches (AELC, which eventually helped found the liberal/progressivist Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).  I was the assistant pastor, AELC and the senior pastor was LCMS.  

Before my arrival, the senior pastor had the congregation use two hymnals and for some time:  The Lutheran Hymnal (LCMS;  published 1941, the “red book”) and the newer Lutheran Book of Worship (more associated with the AELC and other Lutheran church bodies; published 1978, the “green book”). So on some Sundays it was Green first half, Red second half, or the reverse, or all Green or all Red.  It could be quite confusing.

This congregation was bi-ritual which taught me something about the Holy Trinity and the Divine…

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About the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, AD 325:  The first Council of Nicaea was convened in the early summer of AD 325 by Roman Emperor Constantine at what is today Iznik,Turkey. The emperor presided at the opening of the council. The council ruled against the Arians, who taught that Jesus was not the eternal Son of God but was created by the Father and was called Son of God because of His righteousness. The chief opponents of the Arians were Alexander, bishop of Alexandria, and his deacon, Athanasius. The council confessed the eternal divinity of Jesus and adopted the earliest version of the Nicene Creed, which in its entirety was adopted at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381.

Reflection:  Some people see this history as simply and terribly as dogmatic Christians getting their way in a power play.  Others see a creed as simply fussy, nit-picking  doctrine. In the 21st Century the words “doctrine” and “dogma” are derided and as the absolute dogmas of sexual immorality are being set in stone and applauded (such as, sexual immorality is “pride”) and these are blatantly false dogmas.  But the Church knew that in the challenge of Arianism, and all heresies saving truth is at stake:  the very basis of the Gospel and the authority of the Scriptures. Centuries after the Council of Nicaea, and as the Council, this was also reason  the blessed Reformers took their stand on the Word of God: to proclaim the Gospel alone.  

The Gospel:  At stake was (and always is) forgiveness of sinners received by faith in Jesus Christ:  the sinless One in the sinners’ stead ( 2 Corinthians 5:21).  In Jesus Christ, we are reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) and the way the Lord accomplished this once and for all  was by sending His Son in the flesh, “very God from very God”, the only- begotten Son of God (1 John 4:9, KJV), as the whole of Scripture attests.  

The Scriptures:  The false doctrine and promises of Arianism denied and overlooked the clear teaching of Scripture as to the true nature of Jesus Christ, passages such as:

John 8:  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

John 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

Colossians 1:  15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Maybe Arius’ teaching is the origin of the understanding that Jesus was good teacher alone but He did not leave that option open to us. So for Arius, the Scriptures were like Wikipedia article today: anyone can add or subtract the words of God one likes or dislikes. Only the utter weight of God in man dying on the Cross, bearing our sin can lift us up to the Lord Himself. 

DEATH OF GOD | US GOD'S DEATH | image tagged in jesus | made w/ Imgflip meme maker

We can not do the heavy lifting of our sins.  Arius was not capable of that either and neither are you nor I.

This is the sound doctrine of which the Apostle wrote to Timothy and Titus.  Doctrine is life, eternal life.   If the bishops and pastors had not convened and took a stand against false teaching, we would be lost but the Lord will not let us be lost, but found, and so we praise Him for His faithful Church.  Let us  pray:

Lord God, heavenly Father, at the first ecumenical Council of Nicaea, Your Church boldly confessed that it believed in one Lord Jesus Christ as being of one substance with the Father. Grant us courage to confess this saving faith with Your Church through all the ages; through Jesus Christ, our Lord.

The Scriptural Basis of the Nicene Creed:

God the Father:

I Believe
Rom. 10:9Jas 2:19John 14:1

In one God,
Deut. 6:4Is. 44:6

The Father
Is. 63:162 Pet 1:17Matt. 6:9

Almighty,
Gen. 17:1Ps. 91:1Rev. 4:8

Maker
Job 4:1735:10Is. 17:754:5

of heaven
Gen 1:18

and earth
Ps. 104:5Jer. 51:15

and of all things
Gen 1:31

visible and invisible.
Ps. 89:11-12Amos 4:13Rev. 3:5Col. 1:16

God the Son

And in one Lord
Eph. 4:5

Jesus Christ,
Acts 10:3611:17Rom. 1:75:11 Cor 1:26:112 Cor. 1:28:9
Gal. 1:36:14Eph. 1:23:11Phil. 1:23:20Col. 1:32:61 Thes. 1:15:9,
2 Thes. 1:12:141 Tim. 6:3142 Tim. 1:2Philemon 1:325Heb. 13:20,
Jas. 1:12:11 Pet. 1:33:152 Pet. 1:814Jude 1721Rev. 22:20-21

the only-begotton,
John 1:18

Son of God,
Matt 3:17John 3:16

Begotten of His Father,
Heb. 1:5
Before all worlds,
John 1:1Col. 1:171 John 1:1

begotten,
John 1:1Heb. 1:5

Not Made,
Mic. 5:2John 1:1817:5

Being of one substance with the Father,
John 10:3014:9

By whom all things were made;
1 Cor. 8:6Col 1:16

Who for us men
Matt 20:28John 10:10

and for our salvation
Matt 1:21Luke 19:10

came down from heaven
Rom. 10:6Eph. 4:10

and was incarnate
Col. 2:9

by the Holy Spirit
Matt 1:18

of the Virgin Mary
Luke 1:34-35

and was made man;
John 1:14

and was crucified
Matt. 20:19John 19:18Rom. 5:682 Cor. 13:4

also for us
Rom. 5:82 Cor. 5:15

under Pontius Pilate.
Matt. 27:2261 Tim 6:13

He suffered
1 Pet. 2:21Heb. 2:10

and was buried.
Mark 15:461 Cor. 15:4

And the third day
Matt. 27:6328:11 Cor. 15:4

He rose again
Mark 16:62 Tim. 2:8

according to the Scriptures
Ps. 16:10Luke 24:25-271 Cor. 15:4

and ascended
Luke 24:51Acts 1:9

Into heaven
Mark 16:19Acts 1:11

and sits at the right hand of the Father.
Ps. 110:1Matt. 26:64Acts 7:56Heb. 1:3

And He will come again
Jn. 14:31 Thes. 4:16

with glory
Matt. 16:2724:3025:3126:64Mark. 8:38Col. 3:4

to judge
Matt. 25:31-46Acts 17:31

both the living and the dead,
Acts 10:421 Pet. 4:5

whose kingdom
John 18:362 Tim. 4:118

will have no end.
Luke 1:33Rev. 11:15Ps. 145:13

God the Holy Spirit

And I believe in the Holy Spirit,
Matt. 28:19Acts 13:2

The Lord
2 Cor. 3:17

And giver of life,
John 6:63Rom. 7:68:22 Cor. 3:6
who proceeds from the father
John 14:16-17

and the Son,
John 15:26Rom. 8:9Gal. 4:6

Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped
Luke 4:8John 4:24

and glorified
John 4:241 Tim. 1:17

Who spoke by the prophets.
1 Pet. 1:10-112 Pet 1:21

And I believe in one
1 Cor. 10:16-1712:12-13

Holy
Eph. 3:16-175:271 Pet. 2:9

Catholic
1 Cor. 1:2

and Apostolic
Eph. 2:20Rev. 21:14

Church,
Acts 20:28Eph. 1:22-23Col. 1:24Heb. 12:231 Pet. 2:9

I acknowledge one Baptism
John 3:5Rom. 6:3Eph. 4:5
For the remission of sins,
Acts 2:381 Pet. 3:21Tit. 3:5
And I look for the resurrection of the dead
1 Thes. 4:161 Cor. 15:12-131652

And the life of the world to come.
1 Cor 15:54-57Rev. 22:5

Amen.
Ps. 41:132 Cor. 1:20

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