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David Peterson
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I am a Reformation Protestant pastor (United Lutheran-Reformed) committed to the historic Christian faith.
I am a Reformation Protestant pastor (United Lutheran-Reformed) committed to the historic Christian faith.

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I Believe in the Resurrection, Part 2
The first reason I gave for my belief in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ is the reality of Christ, that is, the reality expressed in the lives of the early Christians and in the portrait of the man they say embodied what it is to be Christ, namely t...

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I Believe in the Resurrection, Part 1
I believe in the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ.  My belief is based on many lines of evidence which come together.  Even as many strands of rope or cable come together to form a strong basis for anchoring a great ship, so these many lines of evidence ...

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Heaven on Earth?
A really smart guy, Richard John Neuhaus, was known to speak of the city (he was thinking of New York) as a taste of heaven.  Having just returned from my first trip to New York I understand better what he was saying. Heaven will not be about that which is ...

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A key element in my sermon today is the teaching that Christ has redeemed all people (universal atonement).  Here’s an excellent summary of this teaching.
When Paul writes that Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25), he does not limit the redemption to the church, the believers, or the elect. Although it is true that these are the only ones who actually receive the benefit of Christ’s redemption, the Bible explicitly states that Christ redeemed all people. He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). He is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2; 1 Timothy 2:6). He reconciled the world to God (2 Corinthians 5:19). “All people” even includes those who are ultimately lost in hell. They were bought by Christ too (2 Peter 2:1). There is no human being that was overlooked; Christ tasted death for every person (Hebrews 2:9). Although there is no redemption for the fallen angels, there is a perfect redemption for all people, including the worst of them. The apostle Paul declares: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). All nations and races may gather under the cross of Christ and find redemption there.
Koehler, Edward W.A. (2006-06-28). A Summary of Christian Doctrine: A Popular Presentation of the Teachings of the Bible, 3rd Edition (Kindle Locations 2906-2909). Concordia Publishing House. Kindle Edition.

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“The Protestant emphasis on sola fide, only through faith, denies the efficacy of other approaches to God, even as respectable an alternative as the way of reason.”

George W. Forell, The Protestant Faith, 23
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I’m working on my sermon for Sunday.  The lectionary text is 2 Kings 5:1-3, 7-15c.  It’s the story of Naaman the leper.  A major element of the story is the importance of humbling oneself before God in order to experience God’s presence in one’s life.  There’s simply no other way to the knowledge of God.  Naaman does that and sure enough, he finds God.  He says, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel” (2 Kings 5:15 NIV).

There’s simply no other way to know God.  The God that can be found through reason alone simply does not exist.  Using arguments in the attempt to reason people into faith is futile because that God is not real.

George Forell writes,

“Proofs of the existence of God tend to place God in the same class with the objects of proof in the realm of mathematics and thus reduce Him to one object in the same class with others” (The Protestant Faith, 24).

Forell’s point is that the God argued for in proofs is not the God of the Bible.  It is a different God, and that God, an object we could grasp by our reason alone, does not exist.  Arguing with someone about that God is a sheer waste of time.  Better to simply agree with them that such a god doesn’t exist and move on to some subject that is grasped by reason alone.  The time spent will be much more profitable.

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“The indwelling of Christ, is a thing of degrees.” 

“Any Christian may pray for the presence of God, and what is his indwelling but the manifestation of his presence?”

Charles Hodge, Commentary on Ephesians 3:14-19 --------------------------------------
It is biblical to pray for the gift of God’s presence in your life.  We should pray each and every day to be strengthened with the Spirit in our inner being, to have Christ dwell in our hearts by faith, and to be filled with all the fullness of God (see Ephesians 3:14-19).

What’s more we should pray the same for other believers (according to the apostolic example given in Ephesians).  We should pray each and every day that our church be filled with members whose lives are being filled with the Spirit. 

A Spirit-filled community is a Christ-filled community which manifests Christ to each other and the world.  Luke says his first book, the gospel that bears his name, was about all that Christ began to do and teach (Acts 1:1).  His second book, Acts, is about all Christ is still doing and teaching through his body, the church. 

Look at the manifestations of the Spirit given to the church as described in 1 Corinthians 12.  Are not these manifestations a continuation of Christ’s ministry in the world?  Christ spoke words of wisdom and knowledge.  Christ manifested gifts of healings and miracles.  Christ spoke prophetically.  Christ is still doing and teaching today!  He has not left us as orphans (John 14:18).

As Charles Hodge points out, however, the presence of Christ is a thing of degrees.  People and communities can be more or less Christ-filled, more or less Spirit-filled.  The way to receive God’s presence in greater degrees is through prayer (according to the Bible’s explicit teaching and by the example it gives of the early church).

A spiritually alive church is a praying church!  There is no other way.  Even as Naaman had to do it God’s way (dip seven times in the muddy Jordan River, 2 Kings 5) so we have to do it God’s way.  If we don’t we will miss out.  The Bible is clear, “you have not, because you ask not” (James 4:2).

112. Why is prayer necessary? 
Prayer is necessary because God will give his grace and his Holy Spirit only to those who earnestly and without ceasing ask them of him and render thanks unto him (Evangelical Catechism).
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