N. T. Wright has recently published a new book on the atonement, The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering Crucifixion. The link will take you to an interview of Wright by Luke Norsworthy, senior minister of the Westover Hills Church in Austin.
If you’re interested in an excellent summary of the book or atonement theology in general, it’s a fascinating interview and well worth your time. I’ve bought my copy of the book and am about halfway through. Very insightful.
Health. At long last, I’m home from the hospital, with a box full of IV antibiotics that I’m to take the next several weeks. Just finished getting trained by the home healthcare agency on how to push antibiotics through a PICC line (IV line that lasts for months).
I made a good down payment on my sleep deficit last night, but still have a way to go. I’m still pretty tired, but not nearly as tired as when I checked into the hospital. This is the usual hospitalitis — you know, the condition that comes from not being allowed to sleep for two weeks. (I’m pretty sure the Geneva Convention bans treatment of enemies of the state this way.) Continue reading
1 Thess 5:25
(1 Thess. 5:25 ESV) 25 Brothers, pray for us.
This short verse is striking in its poignancy. I mean, here we have Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, who prays for so many others, who is so close to God that he’s been entrusted with a history-changing commission, asking the poor Christians in Thessalonica, new converts all, for their prayers.
Such an incredibly humble request. Paul is declaring that, even when it comes to his own relationship with God, even he — an apostle! — depends on other Christians, even new converts. Nothing could more powerfully make the point that we all depend on each other. There is no individual autonomy and no true individual spiritual formation. We grow in Christ together. Continue reading
Now, inevitably, each reader has his own way of expressing how this works, but regardless of exactly how we connect our own efforts with God’s efforts, it’s clear that Paul is insisting on both human effort and divine effort.
Now, is he insisting on human effort to please God or to earn our salvation? Well, plainly we can’t earn our salvation. But then, neither can we refuse Paul’s instruction to be blameless and completely holy.
It gets tiresome arguing over just the right way to say this, when all sides agree that we are saved by the work of Jesus and the faithfulness of God to his covenant to count faith as righteousness — but we also are obligated to grow in holiness, which is not easy. Continue reading
For the last few weeks, I’ve had a fever and otherwise just felt ill. My doctor put me in the hospital for tests and quickly found that I had a bacterial infection in my blood. Treatment was I.V. antibiotics. We had to try a few, and ultimately found that ampicillin was the cure. My infection cleared up quickly when we found the right drug.
However, tests revealed endocarditis, infection on at least one of my heart valves.
At this point, I was shipped off by ambulance to the cardiac care unit at UAB Hospital, among the best heart hospitals in the world, for a possible valve replacement or two. Continue reading
1 Thess 5:23
(1 Thess. 5:23 ESV) 23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To “sanctify” is to make holy. In the NT, “holy” generally does not refer to ritual holiness but to actual holiness.
“Holy,” of course, means “set apart,” as we covered already, and in this case, Paul’s emphasis is on being blameless at the Second Coming.
“Blameless” does not mean perfect but free from accusation. The word was often used to describe the attributes of the ideal public servant. The idea isn’t to be sinless (which is quite impossible) but to have no disqualifying traits. That is, “holy” focuses on the positive attributes — to be like the Holy One, Jesus — whereas “blameless” focuses on the elimination of negative attributes — all with the goal of being Christ-like. Continue reading
1 Thess 5:19-22
(1 Thess. 5:19-22 ESV) 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
In v. 19, the word translated “quench” means to extinguish. If I quench a thirst, it goes away but comes back. If I extinguish a fire, it goes out and stays out. Therefore, implicit in Paul’s instruction is the risk that we not only resist the Spirit but so resist the Spirit that we lose the Spirit — and so our salvation.