Saturday, February 4, 2012

What 'orthodox' Christians believe...

What are some of the things 'orthodox' Christians believe?

Here's just a small list:

  • God created the heavens and the earth.
  • God sent a flood, destroyed the earth, but saved 8 persons and 2 of each kind of animal.
  • He sent various plagues upon Egypt in order to deliver His people from bondage.
  • He parted the Red Sea.
  • Elijah was carried into heaven.
  • Daniel was saved from the lions' den.
  • Jesus was born of the virgin, Mary.
  • Jesus healed the blind and the lame.
  • Jesus healed a leper.
  • Jesus turned water into wine.
  • Jesus walked on the water.
  • Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
  • Jesus died, was buried, and then raised.

This is just a small list of the miraculous things God has done and that orthodox Christians believe and confess.

After mankind was deceived into thinking he could be like God and started trusting in himself rather than God, God then intervened to save man from his sin and rebellion and lack of faith in God.  All of these miracles listed and the many, many others found in the Bible point this out - that He did intervene with His creation.  The Bible is God's story of His creation, our rebellion, and His redemption of man through Christ's death and resurrection.

Sin, death, and the devil have held us captive, but God has worked throughout history to reveal Himself and His faithfulness, and to deliver us from sin, death, and the devil.  He has done so as His only begotten Son became incarnate, lived blamelessly, revealed to us the Father, sent us the Holy Spirit, and bled and died for the sins of the world, and was raised from the grave for His name's sake.

He is good.  He is powerful.  He is just.  He is merciful.  Based on what He has done and it being revealed to us, His Word is faithful and true.

How has God revealed Himself?  He is known through His creation, He has revealed Himself in the Son, and He has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture.  He and His Word are faithful and true.  He spoke- the heavens and the earth were created.  He spoke- He delivered His people from Egypt.  He spoke- Lazarus was raised from the dead.  He spoke- lame people walked, the blind began to see.  Nothing symbolic, right?  He spoke.  Results followed.  He is faithful and true.

When Christ instituted the Lord's Supper, what did He say?

And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  (Luke 22:14-20 ESV)

And Paul writes to the Corinthians: 
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.
(1 Corinthians 10:14-17 ESV - italics mine)

Why do I write all of this?  It is good news!  We don't have to try to hear God's whispering in our hearts.  We don't have to get ourselves in some sort of mystical, meditative state to try to hear His voice.  He has spoken most assuredly in the Scriptures.  Christ is faithful and true.  His Word is faithful and true.

It cannot be stated any better than Luther has:

It is the Word, I say, that makes this a sacrament and distinguishes it from ordinary bread and wine, so that it is called and truly is Christ’s body and blood. For it is said, “Accedat verbum ad elementum et fit sacramentum,” that is, “When the Word is joined to the external element, it becomes a sacrament.” This saying of St. Augustine is so appropriate and well put that he could hardly have said anything better. The Word must make the element a sacrament; otherwise, it remains an ordinary element. ... It is true, indeed, that if you take the Word away from the elements or view them apart from the Word, you have nothing but ordinary bread and wine. But if the words remain, as is right and necessary, then by virtue of them the elements are truly the body and blood of Christ. For as Christ’s lips speak and say, so it is; he cannot lie or deceive. (Large Catechism V:10-11,14 [Martin Luther], The Book of Concord, edited by Robert Kolb and Timothy J. Wengert [Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000], p. 468) -bold italics mine.

When participating in His supper the next time, and the pastor speaks Christ's words- 'Take, eat; this is My body, which is given for you.  This do in remembrance of Me.  Drink of it, all of you; this cup is the new testament in My blood, which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.  This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me- rest assured Christ's words are faithful and true.  We receive His good gift, guarantee, and pledge of His salvation.  He has poured out His precious blood, and He was broken for our salvation.  We receive these good gifts when we hear His Word faithfully proclaimed, and when we receive His promise in His Supper.

Taken from Luther's Small Catechism:

What is the Sacrament of the Altar?
It is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, under the bread and wine, for us Christians to eat and to drink, instituted by Christ Himself.

Where is this written?
The holy Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and St. Paul, write thus:
Our Lord Jesus Christthe same night in which He was betrayedtook bread: and when He had given thanksHe brake itand gave it to His disciplesand saidTakeeat; this is My bodywhich is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me.
After the same manner also He took the cupwhen He had suppedgave thanksand gave it to themsayingTakedrink ye all of it. This cup is the new testament in My bloodwhich is shed for you for the remission of sins. This do yeas oft as ye drink it,in remembrance of Me.

What is the benefit of such eating and drinking?
That is shown us in these words: Givenand shed for youfor the remission of sins; namely, that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

How can bodily eating and drinking do such great things?
It is not the eating and drinking, indeed, that does them, but the words which stand here, namely: Givenand shed for youfor the remission of sins. Which words are, beside the bodily eating and drinking, as the chief thing in the Sacrament; and he that believes these words has what they say and express, namely, the forgiveness of sins.

Whothenreceives such Sacrament worthily?
Fasting and bodily preparation is, indeed, a fine outward training; but he is truly worthy and well prepared who has faith in these words: Givenand shed for youfor the remission of sins.
But he that does not believe these words, or doubts, is unworthy and unfit; for the words For you require altogether believing hearts.

No comments:

Post a Comment