Pastor Joynt's Devotionals

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Real, Day 6

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MATTHEW 3:11-12 | “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

At a recent Presbyterian Conference, emeritus professor Tom Long was quoted as saying:

“God is tearing down what we have in order to build up something new and more faithful. We are experiencing right now, as a church, the judgement of God. We don’t want to talk about it; we misunderstand it theologically. It is not punishment and shame. It is a righteous judge who comes to set things straight. Tom quotes Karl Barth: We should not fear the wrath of God, but rather the love of God, because the love of God will strip away everything that stands between us and God.”

We must understand that love and judgement are not opposites. Judgement can serve the purposes of healing, redemption, and renewal.

What do you think of Karl Barth’s quote?

Notice John thinks the coming One will baptize not only with fire, punishing wrong, but with the Holy Spirit.

 

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Real, Day 5

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MATTHEW 3:9 | Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham.

What part of religion is individual and what part is communal? The Pharisees and Sadducees, and all righteous first century Jews, connected their ethnic identity and their religious status. God had chosen the Jewish people, together, as a covenant partner, and this was a matter of racial and tribal identity, signified by circumcision. There was great security in this connection!

John insists that group heritage and ethnic identity cannot be primary in our relationship with God. This individualizes faith. Each person must repent and confess to prepare for God’s judgement, and collective identity is irrelevant. In a similar way, Martin Luther insisted that participation in a church body, by itself, cannot guarantee our status before our Righteous Judge. Individual faith and repentance is primary, involvement in ecclesial community a consequence and a blessing. The Reformation took away the intermediaries, of ritual and priest, insisting the believer must stand alone before God.

To what extent is your faith individual?

To what extent is it communal?

 

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