Theology 101 - Justified

We’ve been taking this space to review some basic theology each week. There’s not a lot of space, so each installment builds on those before it, we’re putting past installments on our blog. We’ve been talking about Abraham and Sarah. Today, let’s briefly consider a crucial text in his story.

Genesis 15:6 says Abraham believed God, “and it was counted to him as righteousness.” In both testaments, the concepts of RIGHTEOUSNESS and JUSTIFICATION are inseparable. Specifically, they deal with what marks one out as a person of God. Who is righteous? Who is justified? Who is counted among God’s people? There have been many answers given to that question over the years. The Jews held (with some merit) things like circumcision and dietary laws to be signs of their justification - their membership in God’s family.

Here, however, Abraham was marked out as God’s by his belief. In the New Testament, the three most detailed and crucial conversations about justification - Romans 3-4, Galatians 3, James 2 - all point back to this passage, with each conversation adding it’s own nuance. Abraham was justified by faith before circumcision was a thing. Abraham was justified by a trust in God that caused him to follow God.

Theology 101: The Faith of Our Fathers

Each week, we take this space to review some basic theology and for the last little while, we’ve been working through the highlights of the biblical narrative. We’re all the way up to Genesis 12! Since we don’t have a lot of space, each week’s installment builds off of earlier ones. You can find past installments on our blog.

Last week, we looked at the Abraham story from God’s perspective. God delights in choosing people who don’t fit the job he has for them. God does impossibilities. This week, I want to note something about the story from Abraham and Sarah’s perspective. Namely, they trusted God enough to actually get up and leave. This trust is why Abraham is the father of our faith.

Think about it briefly. God asks the family to pull up roots and go, literally, God knows where. They are supposed to do this because God is going to make a great nation of their family. But they don’t have a family. Does God really expect Abraham and Sarah to leave everything they know on this basis? How is that supposed to work? It is impossible!

And, yet - they go.

What Is MAGI and How Can You Help?

First, what is MAGI? Take a look at this video:

We are hosting our first annual MAGI Party on Thursday, December 10 from 3:00 - 6:30 PM. This is our chance to partner with Healing Hands International to distribute MAGI boxes to the children in our community. 

To make this happen, we are going to need some help. If you can pitch in with any of the following, please let us know:

1. Help us unload and set up boxes (Dec 9)
2. Help us decorate for the party (Dec 9)
3. Donate baked items for the party
4. Help us distribute boxes at the party (Dec 10)
5. Help us write notes to children that will go into MAGI boxes.

If you can help, let us know. If you have more questions, we'd be happy to answer those as well. You can also find out more about MAGI here

Theology 101: The God of Impossibilities

We’ve been taking this space to review our basic theology each week. Since we don’t have a lot of space, each week builds on previous weeks, and we’ve put them on our blog in case you missed one. This week, we want to begin unpacking Abraham’s story. So far, we’ve noted God intends to use Abraham to reinstitute blessing in a broken world characterized by curse.

When looking at the lives of Abraham and Sarah, it’s important to see how God works. Namely, God chooses the couple to do the one thing they couldn’t possibly do. They had great wealth and possessions. They were a family of prestige and honor. With credentials like that, they could have served God in any number of ways. Even though they had all of this, Abraham and Sarah could not have children. Sarah had always been barren, and they were past child-bearing years as well.

It is significant that God chooses this couple to give birth to a nation. The couple who could not give birth would found the family through which God would bless the whole world. In doing this, God reveals himself as the God who does impossibilities. This establishes a precedent for how God will work as he brings about the restoration of his creation.

Theology 101: Slowing the Story Down

Each week, we’ve been taking this space to review some basic theology as we walk through highlights of the biblical narrative. Because space is in limited supply, each installment builds off earlier ones. We put each installment on our blog in case you’ve missed one.

Last week, we arrived in Genesis 12 and the beginning of Abraham’s story. Specifically, we noted that through Abraham, God sought to reintroduce blessing into a world characterized by curse. We will want to spend two weeks highlighting some important themes developed in Abraham’s story, but let’s begin that next week. This week, we will spend just a moment thinking about how the Bible often works as a story.

In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, things move very quickly. Genesis 1-5 covers a large chunk of time. We slow down for Noah’s story in Genesis 6-9. Then Genesis 7-11 covers a large chunk of time. In Genesis 12-50, the narrative slows to a crawl, focusing on only four generations of one family, with a particular emphasis on Abraham. When telling a story, which Genesis is, this sort of slow down is one major way of drawing serious attention to that part of the narrative. When that happens, we want to pay particular attention to what is being said. It is usually big stuff. Next week, we will begin to unpack why the story slows with Abraham.

Theology 101: Curses and Blessings

We’ve been taking this space each week to review some basic theology. Each week builds on previous weeks, so we’re placing all these on our website if you’ve missed one. Today, we’re ready to move out of the first three chapters of Genesis with two important observations.

The first observation is there is a downward spiral as sin takes root in the world. For instance, Adam and Eve sin by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the very next chapter, Cain murders Abel, and by the end of Genesis 4, Lamech boasts about how much worse he is than Cain. In Genesis 5, you find the genealogies, which we often skip! But, notice their refrain, “… and he died …” Death was never part of God’s plan, yet there it is. By the time we come to Genesis 6, the world has become so evil, so violent, that God promises to bring a flood to destroy it. This deep rooted brokenness runs clear through Scripture. We can’t escape it.

When we get to Genesis 12, however, we see a significant shift. Genesis 3-11 have mostly been about human failure, sin and judgment. These are all part of a world characterized by curse. In Genesis 12, God calls Abraham and BLESSES him, promising to BLESS the whole world through his family. In a world riddled with CURSE, God begins to BLESS - just as he blessed in the beginning, before sin. With Abraham, God starts his long, costly project of fixing what we’ve broken through our sin.