Jesus Christ says “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48 NKJV). How in the world do we do that? If we want be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect, we need two things. One, we need to know the way we’re supposed to walk, which is truth. Two, we need the power to carry it out, which is grace. The Bible, when referring to the Holy Spirit, calls it the Spirit of Truth (John 14:17, 15:26, 16:13), and the Spirit of Grace (Zechariah 12:10; Hebrews 10:29). What does this mean? It means that for us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, we need the Holy Spirit. Access to the Holy Spirit comes through death. But not our physical death. It comes through joining in Messiah’s death. This comes through baptism in Messiah’s name. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3). Why is this baptism so important? At the core, there are only two world-views. One is a self-centered world-view. The other is an other-centered world-view. Think of the two greatest commandments. “Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these”” (Mark 12:29-31). These should give a clue as to which world-view is the correct world-view. It’s not the self-centered world-view. Baptism is important because it’s the joining of the old, ‘self-centered,’ self with Messiah in his death. It is after we join our ‘old-self’ in Messiah’s death, at baptism, that we then receive new life in the Messiah. “Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call”” (Acts 2:38-39). Paul says; “Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4). It is God’s grace that strengthens the individual to reject the self-centered life and live other-centered, loving God and loving neighbor. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14). This grace is available because of Jesus Christ. “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
(Book Review written for Research and Writing in Theology at Austin Graduate School of Theology.)
Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God is a book written by Stanley J. Grenz and Roger E. Olson. Their purpose in writing the book is to convince the reader to take up theological study. Through their own experiences, they recognize that many people are skeptical about theology. The book addresses this issue in the very beginning and then works systematically to define and defend theology. After the authors make their argument for the need for theological study, they explain the tasks and tools of theology. The book then presents instruction on how to bring theology into everyday life before concluding with an invitation for the reader to engage in theological study. Continue reading Critical Book Review of Who Needs Theology? An Invitation to the Study of God
(This book review was an assignment in Traditions in Christian Theology & Ethics at Austin Graduate School of Theology.) Continue reading Critical Book Review of JOURNEYS OF FAITH
(This paper was written for a class called Traditions in Christian Theology & Ethics at Austin Graduate School of Theology.)
The first part of this paper will describe my faith tradition and what I’ve learned about it through studying other Christian faiths. Specifically, it will discuss one positive and two negative aspect of my faith tradition. Before discussing the specific positive and negative features, I will give a brief summary of my faith tradition. The second part of this paper will describe what I’ve learned about a different Christian tradition, specifically, Eastern Orthodoxy. I will identify one negative feature found in Eastern Orthodoxy and one positive feature that could help improve my own tradition’s theology. Continue reading Christian Traditions Paper
(The following is a research paper for a church history class at Austin Graduate School of Theology.)
The church’s understanding of grace is one of its most important doctrines. After all, Paul wrote, “by grace you have been saved.” Over the centuries, several different understandings of grace have developed from several different influential church leaders. Stanley Ayling says that John Wesley might have been “the single most influential Protestant leader of the English-speaking world since the Reformation.” Therefore, the church would benefit to understand John Wesley’s doctrine of grace.
This paper will analyze some of Wesley’s writings and sermons (in conversation with secondary sources) in an attempt to summarize Wesley’s idea of grace. I will argue that Wesley defines grace in two ways, and that he understands there to be several different ways that grace is used in the process of saving mankind. I begin with a presentation of Wesley’s two definitions of grace. Continue reading John Wesley’s View of Grace
Short paper written for Interpreting the Bible at Austin Grad
(The assignment asked for our hermeneutic philosophy when interpreting the Bible.) Continue reading Hermeneutic Philosophy
Sermon, Colossians 3:12—17 (written for class assignment at Austin Grad) Continue reading Sermon, Colossians 3:12—17
(The following is an exegesis paper turned in for my class, Interpreting the Bible, at Austin Graduate School of Theology.) Continue reading EXEGESIS PAPER: COLOSSIANS 3:12—17
Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5:1-2 NKJV)
With the merciful You will show Yourself merciful;
With a blameless man You will show Yourself blameless;
With the pure You will show Yourself pure;
And with the devious You will show Yourself shrewd.
For You will save the humble people,
But will bring down haughty looks. (Psalms 18:25-27 NKJV)
For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15 NKJV)
Our life should mirror our heavenly Father. He forgives; we should forgive. He sacrifices for other; we should sacrifice for others. He is merciful; we should be merciful. You get the point. The problem sometimes in understanding the character and nature our God and Father is that he is invisible (1 Timothy 1:17) and nobody has seen him (John 1:18). If you want to see the Father, you must look to Jesus (John 1:18). If you want to see the nature of our Father, look at Jesus. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and the exact imprint of God’s nature (Hebrews 1:3). So what exactly did Jesus do? He gave of himself for the sake of others, and not just his friends. He sacrificed of his life for his enemies while praying for their forgiveness at the same time. This is what our life should mirror. Live in the image of your Creator.