Showing posts from February, 2018

The Righteousness of God

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 “Righteousness,” like “salvation,” is one of those complicated words in our Bible. It could mean something along the lines of “right conduct,” as when Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, “For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and the Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 5:20). Of course, even in that context, the word could mean something like “right standing,” a position with respect to a certain measure, like the Torah. Paul often will talk about this sort of righteousness in Romans. For still another meaning, we could understand it as “justice,” as when Paul writes, “But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us?” (Rom 3:5). Although these different meanings overlap each other, in significant ways, we see how they also stretch in various directions depending on the context. One thing that is clear, however, is

The Unveiled Gospel

2 Corinthians 4:1-6 When I was getting my Master’s degree, I took a class about prosperity preachers like Joel Osteen. At the end of the course, we had to write a paper about some aspect of the theology of a prosperity preacher of our choosing. I chose Osteen, and in order to understand his theology, I had to watch nearly forty hours of his sermons. Now, I am not willing to say that Osteen has nothing good to say or that his messages all are blatant distortions of the Gospel. In fact, there were a number of sermons after which I did feel uplifted, having been reminded that God does care for me and want the best for me. However, when you listen to enough of Osteen’s sermons, you begin to notice that there is something glaringly absent from his messages and from his theology: sin. I have no doubt that Osteen believes that there is such a thing as sin, but he has little use for mentioning or addressing it in his sermons because it does not fit with his message that God’s main interact

Salvation Begins Now

Luke 2:25-33   Salvation is a complicated and loaded concept in theology and in the Bible. This is quite natural, of course, since salvation stands at the center of God’s activity in Jesus Christ. A central pillar ought to be big and weighty, holding up many other things. Despite this, Christians often simplify salvation to mean “erasing my sins so that I get into heaven one day.” Certainly this is part of salvation, but there is so much more to it than that. The salvation of God is much richer because the problems which salvation corrects are much more far-reaching than an individual’s sins. Sin may have started it all, but the damage which it left in its wake requires correction too. Enter God’s salvation. In this short passage here, I believe we get a glimpse of the “more” of salvation in two ways. Jesus has been born, and his parents take him to the Temple for the time of purification. As they are there, a man with the Holy Spirit, Simeon, takes the child in his arms and