PIU-Guam Theological Discussion Group
This blog Is the supplement to the monthly theological discussion group hosted by Pacific Islands University, http://piu.edu for the benefit of the communities of Guam and Micronesia.You are welcome to post questions, comments and enter into this discussion. Please feel free to be open and frank, but always valuing others in the discussion as creations in God's image who are loved by Him. I hope this will be helpful to you for your own life, study, or ministry.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Monday, July 16, 2012
Monday, July 2, 2012
Friday, June 22, 2012
The last two weeks I had the opportunity to preach at Faith Presbyterian and Reformed Church of Guam. Last week I preached on the prologue of John in verses 1-18. This week the subject was the beginning of God’s kingdom on earth as depicted in Jesus’ baptism and calling of his first disciples in John 1.19-51. I have been thinking quite a bit on these ideas, since over the last month my morning readings have been in John, and I recently finished reading “Simply Jesus” by NT Wright. (I used his perfect storm illustration to introduce the sermon.) The basic point was that Jesus’ baptism marked the “new age” with a new covenant and a new people of God. Jesus however did not begin the new age with an armed revolution as was expected but instead chose to spread the kingdom of God into the world through discipleship. The passage is divided into sections by the phrase “the next day.”
The first section of the sermon dealt with Jesus’ baptism and makes the point that Jesus is bringing in the “age to come.” John the Baptist came announcing this new age (v.23) and urged people to repent to be ready for it. When the delegation of Jewish religious leaders wanted to know the source of his authority for this announcement, John draws his authority from the Father who sent him (33), the Holy Spirit (32) and, of course the revelation of the Son of God (26-27, 34). God’s entrance into the world in the person of the Son announces the beginning of the new age. It is no accident that the next event recorded in John is the Wedding at Cana, a picture of the Kingdom banquet (Isaiah 55 for example)
In the second section John announces that Jesus is the “Lamb of God.” We tend to immediately go to the category of substitutionary atonement when we hear this phrase (and this is definitely an important part of the meaning of this) but John’s original hearers would have made a wider application. They would have been thinking in terms of the Passover and the Exodus – this was a new “4th of July” for God’s people. The Passover is a key theme and structural marker in the Gospel of John. The “lamb” would have reminded them of the “pass over” of the death angel, the judgment inflicted on Egypt and the redemption of Israel which began the nation. In addition it would have brought to mind that spiritual battle between God and Satan (plagues), the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the provision of manna (Jesus the Bread of Life), Parting of the Red Sea (Jesus walking on the water), a new law (new covenant), new temple (Jesus cleansing of the temple) all in an “already not yet” format which inaugurates with the giving of the Spirit and involves suffering and difficulty, crucifixion and death before glory and consummation as in the wilderness wandering.
Finally Jesus does this in an unexpected way. Instead of leading an armed revolution, as many “messiahs” of that day did, Jesus calls out a group of people to follow him as disciples in a “kingdom that is not of this world.” Jesus and John the Baptist are both examples of this Godly methodology. John, recognizing that discipleship must be centered in experience and relationship with Jesus, points his own disciples to Jesus. How many leaders today would be willing to give away their disciples to someone else? Three of Jesus’ sayings in this section point out Jesus discipleship methodology. First, he reaches out to them, “What do you need?” Then he invites them into relationship with Himself, “Come and See!” Finally he calls them into a ministry of learning from Him and emulating Him, “Follow me.” It is people in relationship with Jesus which will form the foundation of the church (42). Jesus tells Nathaniel that He is the “Bethel – “House of God” – that provides the meeting point between heaven and earth and connects people to God. Ultimately through the Holy Spirit we function in the same way. We become holy, moveable, portable temples to connect people to God wherever we go. This is how the Kingdom of God will work in this age.
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Friday, June 1, 2012
The next meeting of the Guam Theological Discussion Group will be Friday June 15th in the usual place – the Pacific Islands University Library. We have decided to continue the subject from last month. We had quite a discussion as to how we respond/evangelize in a world that does not necessarily hold the Bible in high esteem. We recognized that Guam society is becoming much more pluralistic and while, that provides the church with new challenges, it is not necessarily a bad thing as it also provides us with new opportunities to reach out with the message of Christ.
One big issue of discussion was to understand and communicate what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. This is a hot issue and the church has not done a good job in the past in communicating what we believe. It is important that we see the issue in terms of the “trajectory” (See Scot McKnight’s book The Blue Parakeet” for an excellent discussion of the gay issue in terms of the trajectory of the Bible) of how it is handled in the Bible. It is also important that the issue be seen in terms of the whole creation being in a state of “brokenness” from sin. All of us reflect this brokenness in some way and homosexual tendencies are only one of the ways that this brokenness is seen. Tim Keller’s assertion that “no one goes to hell for being gay (or lazy, a gossip, violent etc), we go to hell for refusing relationship with Jesus” was very helpful.
Another issue that needs more discussion is how to keep truth and love balanced here. What does that mean in terms of the church’s political and social involvement? How do we balance Paul’s statement in 1 Cor. 5.12, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside,” with Jesus’ statement that we need to be “salt and light” in our communities? The bottom line is that we are all sinners and we all need Jesus’ healing touch. How do we as the church on Guam provide that, to the very community that rejects many of our biblical values, with Jesus attitude that says both “Neither do I condemn you” and “Go now and leave your life of sin?”