Our Blog

The Image of God in Christ Revealed

"[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians 1:15).

The reflection of God into this world will be difficult to see because of sin. We cannot see God with our own eyes. We will manufacture gods that satisfy our own desires for justification and power. Adam and Eve were created in the image of God but lost that image because of sin. We cannot look at each other and find everything God created us to be. 

So God reveals himself and makes himself known in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the visibleness of God, the revelation of God in this world. When we see Christ, we see God and know what he is like.

The image of God was lost and broken in Adam and all the sons and daughters of Adam. Jesus is the second Adam, born of Mary. As the second Adam he has come to restore God's image in this world. Believers in Jesus Christ are inheritors of the truth and promise of Jesus Christ.

Adam's disobedience has universal implications. Jesus' act of obedience also has universal implications. Philippians 2:6-8 shows us how Christ functions as the image of God. 

"who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8).

Adam sinned with the ambition to be like God. Jesus, though he was God, emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant.

The fullness of God dwells in Christ, as we have faith in Christ we now dwell in this fullness. Our ambition and desire to become like God is set aside because this is a gift now received by faith. Through Baptism, the Word of God delivered in the water, God makes us a part of the body of Christ. His name now dwells upon us. His image is now how we sees us. His image is now how he calls us to see one another.

Now I didn't write in this post about the line "firstborn of all creation," but I will in the future show us how this line refers to the priority of Christ and not his being less than divine.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

The role of the Lutheran Confessions

The name Lutheran usually identifies what a congregation believes, teaches, and confesses. Basic Christian honesty and integrity means that no person or congregation should aim to deceive anyone with this word Lutheran in the identity of the congregation.

So what does this word Lutheran mean?

The standard for explaining the teachings and purposes of a Lutheran congregation can be found in the Book of Concord. In 1580, this book was published to give a true and unadulterated statement of the teachings of the Lutheran church. There are several documents that are included in this book and they all are intended to be true expositions of the Word of God. The books include: the three Ecumenical Creeds (the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasian Creed), the Unaltered Augsburg Confession, the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, the Large Catechism of Luther, the Small Catechism of Luther, and the Formula of Concord.

These books provide a definition for anyone that seeks to know what it means to be Lutheran. They are not the Word of God, but they do provide a correct interpretation of the Word of God. They do not add to or subtract from the validity or purposes of the Word of God.

As important as Martin Luther was for the Reformation of the church in the 16th Century, Lutheran churches do not follow Martin Luther. We follow the Word of God. The confessions norm our reading of the Word.  The confessions provide a frame to interpret the Word of God for our own times and places. So therefore, in this manner, we believe the good news of Jesus Christ is at the center of proclamation and theological reflection. As believers in Jesus, we are always aware that are witness of Christ's love to other believers and those outside the faith takes place in the presence of and through the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Lutherans, in a wide variety of situations, find the documents of our confessions helpful to define what Lutherans mean when they speak of Christ's church and its teaching. We do not have a state authority defining the church. We do not have a charismatic leader receiving visions from God defining our church. We do not have liturgy serve as the framework for our identity. The framework and foundation for the confession of the Christian faith in our times remains centered on the good news of Jesus Christ.

You can read the Book of Concord online: http://bookofconcord.org

Concordia Publishing House prints a wonderful readers edition that includes helpful notes and historical introductions.

The standard English academic edition is edited by Kolb and Wengert.

 

Posted by Evan Gaertner

8th Commandment - Reputation - Online Activity

Catechism Moment

8th Commandment 

You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

What does this mean? We should fear and love God so that we do not tell lies about your neighbor, betray him, slander him, or hurt his reputation, but defend him, speak well of him, and explain everything in the kindest way.

Truthfully speaking about other people is not license to be uncharitable. As Christians we should not use our speech, tweets, Facebook shares, and instagram comments to degrade and denigrate the reputation of others.

When Christians speak or post online about another person, our words need to be trustworthy and respectful of others. When falsehoods and half-truths are shared about people or worldly issues, we make ourselves less believable when we seek to share the truth of the good news of the kingdom of heaven.

Slandering other people by rushing to judgment, complaining about them, or spreading rumors is contrary to the Eighth Commandment. There are better things to talk about besides the faults and possible misdeeds of other people. Building one another up in love and deed does not happen by pushing other people down.

Recently, there was an older white man that assaulted some teenagers on a bike path. The police did not have a suspect and asked for help. The initial request for help listed the wrong date of the assault. People tried to match online fitness app mapping data with the time and date of the assault. Social vigilantism set in and a man was falsely accused online with the crime. New York Magazine published an interesting article, "What It's Like to Get Doxed for Taking a Bike Ride," about how this man's reputation online was abused because people rushed to judgment and falsely accused him of the crime.

The article provides a real world example about how spreading falsehoods and rushing to judgment is hard to roll back. Lies and deceit spread like toxic ooze in a community. Christians must be honor the truth and seek to be charitable to other people.

Posted by Evan Gaertner

12345678910 ... 1112