Reflection

(I carved a flat relief representation of the Tree of Life for an Advent art show for a local congregation. Their theme was Home: Away from Home and tied the incarnation to the idea of immigration.)

smallWe lived there

long generations ago

for a brief time

a garden with

pathways

flowing water and

trees in bloom

one forbidden and

one was life.

He came from before,

before generations

and time and

before imperfection.

We were blocked by

sword and fire

from a life sustaining

tree with healing leaves.

We hear the story of

what we lost and

we see in one tree and another

reminders of life and

we grasp on to it.

He sees our trees

and remembers one

by a stream, perfect,

living and abundant.

David E. Carlson

December 2018

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Memories of Home: Advent Art

I was invited to participate in an Advent Art show at Christ Presbyterian Church, Madison, WI.  The theme was “Home: Away from Home” and the idea is of Christ as an immigrant.  I was planning a sermon series on the Tree of Life, and so the two came together.

Christ would have seen things here as a reminder of things there.

Genesis 2:8-10

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  10 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 

Proverbs 3:13-18

Happy are those who find wisdom,
    and those who get understanding,
14 for her income is better than silver,
    and her revenue better than gold.
15 She is more precious than jewels,
    and nothing you desire can compare with her.
16 Long life is in her right hand;
    in her left hand are riches and honor.
17 Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
    and all her paths are peace.
18 She is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her;
    those who hold her fast are called happy.

Revelation 22:1-2

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations

United with…

lombardi 3

From a sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14:

4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

We are born into the world in union with the human race. We are born in union with the creation. We are born in union with Adam. What that means is that we are born into “original sin.”  The sin that is in the world can be seen in two ways. First of all, the guilt and corruption of sin is attached to all people since Adam and Eve rebelled.  The Bible calls this our union with Adam.

Romans 5:17 – For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ! 

Let me give you an example.  Suppose you played for a team that won the championship.  Let’s say this is the year Green Bay wins the Super Bowl.  You, however, while on the team, did not play.  You were the 2nd backup quarterback.  Aaron Rogers stays healthy, and they put in the 1st back up once or twice, but all you ever did was practice.  Yet even though you did not play, because you are a member of the team, you get a Super Bowl ring.  There is power in being united to a team.

We are born onto a losing team – Adam’s team. When we are in union with him, all the wages of sin are due for us.  But here is the blessing God chooses to unite us to Christ. So because we are one of His, we gain all the benefits of salvation. Our 3rd string quarterback  did not play a single snap to win his ring.  We did not do anything to earn  salvation.

Faith is more than Brain Activity

walking

I’m starting to read Romans in anticipation of a sermon series in 2019.

Here are some interesting verses on faith:

1:5 – “…we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations…”

  • Paul’s is seeking OBEDIENCE that is from faith.  The ultimate purpose is not faith without obedience, but faith expressed or lived out in obedience.

16:26 – “…according to the command of God, to bring about the obedience of faith…”

  • the 5th verse and the next to last verse form an “inclusio” on the obedience of faith.

4:12 – “…who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had…”

  • He does not say “think” or “feel” or “think” but “walk” which is a metaphor throughout scripture for a person’s way of living.  See Psalm 1; Proverbs 3:5,6; Deut. 8:1ff.

6:1-14 – Baptism, Death and Resurrection, Presenting your members to God….all ideas speaking of new life of obedience of faith.

This is Romans, the greatest source of understanding salvation by Faith alone (1:16; 3:23-25; 3:28; 4:1-8; 4:22-25; 5:1; 8:1; 10:5-13).  Yet the idea of obedience, walking a godly path, living a resurrected life, permeates this book from start to finish.

The Reformers spoke of faith as knowledge, then agreement and then trust.  We are on thin ice if we think of faith as only knowledge, only something that happens in the mind.

By Invitation

giftI was comparing Colossians 3:12-14 to attending a wedding.  the first half verse is about our identity.

  • as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved..   v. 12a

Weddings are by invitation.  You don’t show up uninvited.  Your admission is not up to you.  This is a way to think about being “chosen”.

We could get into a long discussion of election and predestination.  If I thought that I could work out that issue in a couple of minutes, I would. But as Christians have debated that issue for 2000 years, I will move over to the importance of it.

When you go to a wedding, it is because you are invited.  Someone chose you to come.  It would be very strange to walk into a wedding uninvited. Maybe you just love weddings.  Would you attend and stay for the reception?  No.

You belong to the wedding because the Bride and Groom invited you.

The same is true for you as a Christian.  You did not crash the gates.  You did not come and say, “Hey, this looks like fun! Let me in!”  The Lord made a way for you to come in Jesus.  He paid for your invitation. The Lord not only invited, but he persuaded you.  He persuaded you through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the prayers of others, through the truth of the Gospel.

Don’t think that you are better than others. You are in the family of God because the Lord chose you to come.

You were invited and then you were able to attend.  As to choice…well that takes us back to Augustine and Calvin.