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We’re a resort village church, relaxed and warm. Dress up, dress down, come as you are. We are located at 975 C Avenue, Coronado, California. Resident or tourist, you’ll be among friends who desire to know Christ and make Christ known.

 

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   Traditional Style - 9:00am

   Blended Style - 10:30am

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    9&1030

    Monday
    Mar272017

    In Scrubb's Steps (apologies to Charles Sheldon)

    Dear Theologians,

     

    Staying one step ahead of the prosecution, Paul anticipated the inevitable question that would be asked during cross-examination: “Shall we sin to our heart’s content and see how far we can exploit the grace of God?” (6:1, Phillips).

     

    In other words, since we're justified and will remain so even if we sin, can't we just live however we want? “What a ghastly thought!” Paul will retort.  “We, who have died to sin—how could we live in sin a moment longer?” (6:2, Phillips).

     

    Salvation doesn't free us to sin; it frees us not to sin. As believers in Christ, we are united with Christ himself and his strength. Sin no longer has a claim on our lives. “We're alive to God, alert to him, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (6:11, TLB).

     

    The daily process of living this new life in Christ is called "sanctification.” Whereas (Were you expecting a “therefore”?) justification is God's declaration of righteousness, sanctification is our development in righteousness. Justification has to do with our position in Christ. Done deal. Sanctification is the process of becoming more like Christ. In progress.

     

    As growing Christians, we no longer live under the law, which showed us our sin and condemned us. Instead we live in the Spirit, who frees us to love and serve Christ.

     

    Old habits die hard, though, as we all know. Even though we're new creatures in Christ and will one day be perfect, we retain the vestiges of our old, sinful nature in this life. This war of the two natures is a struggle for the Christian who truly wants to grow.

     

    Remember another adventurer and theologian, C.E. Scrubb? And his war with those two natures? And his desire to die to sin and to truly grow spiritually? And his encounter with a huge lion? Well, that’s exactly where Paul is taking us in chapter 7. He’s taking us exactly to the solution for the struggle. And that solution……….will be discussed during class this week. And Scrubb’s adventure, too. Good stuff!

     

    In Your Debt,

     

    R                    A                    L                    P                     H

    Wednesday
    Mar222017

    The Gift of the Therefore (no disrespect to O. Henry)

    Dear Theologians, 

     

    Wherefore is that therefore there for? Paul is looking at the doctrine of justification as something that has already taken place. “Therefore, having been justified by faith (5:1).” The great truth of the “therefore” is that we can be justified now, contrary to what some religious beliefs claim. Those who put their trust in Jesus Christ do not have a prolonged wait for their justification. The moment they believe in Jesus and put their trust in him, God declares them just, once and for all. “Having been justified” refers to an action in the past, to something that has been accomplished. The work of Christ is finished. Justification is a past action. We received it the moment we believed.

     

    Sometimes we look at concepts or doctrines such as justification by faith alone, and we shrug and ask, “So what?” The so what? is set forth for us here by Paul. We see that our justification is a fait accompli (Yes, I know that is not Greek or Hebrew; try French). Our justification took place the moment we believed – and there are consequences to it. Good consequences. Try…well try finding them like this:

     

    Salvation is not like receiving just one gift* under the Christmas tree but gift after gift all wrapped up together. The first package we find is our justification, and when we open that package, we find inside it another – peace with God. Inside that package is access to his presence, and inside that gift is the ability to find there is joy in the midst of tribulation, and that very tribulation gives us another gift – perseverance. Tear off the ribbon from that gift, and there is another one, which is the character that perseverance gives us, and within that gift is hope that will never embarrass or disappoint us. Finally we open one more present, and it is the love of God poured profusely into our hearts by the grace of God. All these are the gift of justification.  Any wonder why, then, at that doxological* writing of the apostle Paul, who rejoices in these things over and over again? For Paul, Christmas never ends.

     

    In Your Debt

     

    R                      A                        L                       P                     H

     

    *So just how many times does Paul use the word ‘gift’ in 5:1-21? And what is the reference of that doxology that we read to conclude class a couple of weeks ago? 

    Sunday
    Mar122017

    In the Dock for One of the Biggest "Buts" in World Literature

    Dear Theologians,

     

    In Paul’s world, almost everyone would have been much more familiar with law court proceedings than most people today. Communities were small and tight-knit. Cases would be tried in public. Everyone would want to see what was going on. So, when Paul uses a lot of law court language, as he does in 3:21-4:25, just about everyone would be able to picture the setting.

     

    Paul the prosecutor has just concluded his case against the accused in a carefully established line upon line argument: All human beings, of every race and rank, of every creed and culture, Jews and Gentiles, the immoral and the moralizing, the religious and the irreligious, are without any exception, sinful, guilty, inexcusable and speechless before God. That was the terrible human predicament described in 1:18-3:20. There was no ray of light, no flicker of hope, no prospect for rescue.

     

    “But now a righteousness from God.” Paul the attorney for the prosecution, crosses the courtroom stage to speak for the defense. It soon becomes clear that one greater than Paul is in fact not only the true prosecutor but also the redeemer of humanity. God himself has intervened. And finally, in keeping with the overuse of clichés as in the previous paragraph, after the long dark night the sun has risen, a new day has dawned, and the world is flooded with light.

     

    Welcome to the doctrine of justification by faith alone: Sola Fide. And welcome to the doctrine that has provoked the most serious controversy in the history of the Christian church. The controversy involved this simple question: How can an unjust person ever hope to stand before the just judgment of God? In other words, how are we saved? If called to the witness stand to answer those questions (or in Martin Luther’s day, placed in the dock), will you be able to make a line upon line answer?

     

    In Your Debt,

     

    R                     A                        L                          P                         H

     

    The Bonus Round: Question – If God justifies sinners freely by his grace, on what grounds does he do so? Another question – How is it possible for the righteous God to declare the unrighteous to be righteous without either compromising his righteousness or condoning their unrighteousness? Fuzzywigs to the first five theologians to email me the correct answer. Hint: The answer is the same for both questions. 

    Sunday
    Mar052017

    Paul Has Bad News & Good News

    Dear Theologians,

     

    During the most recent winds and rains, in addition to part of Graham Memorial’s steeple being blown off, one could hardly get through a television newscast, internet story, or front page of a local newspaper without seeing the images of massive trees that had been brought to the ground by the forces of nature. What if some of those trees weren’t nearly as healthy as they looked before the storm?

     

    If one had looked at a tree peripherally, it may have seemed as if nothing was wrong. Once the tree had toppled over, cut into clear-the-road or get-this-off-my-car pieces, and had its insides exposed, perhaps dangerous rot would be visible; the inside of the trunk stained with a dark, mottled pattern where the rot had started to spread. So, what had looked to the casual passerby as a fine, solid old tree, was actually an accident waiting to happen.

     

    Paul’s explanation for why the gospel, the unveiling of God’s justice and salvation, is urgently required is that the tree is rotten from the cambium cell layer to the sapwood to the heartwood to the pith – okay, rotten to its core, and it may come crashing down at any minute. The tree in question is the human race as it has worked itself into rebellion against its Creator at every level. Humans were always designed to be central to God’s plan to rule his creation: that’s part of what it means to be made “in the image of God” (Ge 1:26, 27). So, when humans go wrong, the world as a whole is put out of joint. From Ro 1:8 right through to 2:16, Paul lays out a charge against the human race in general: humankind is rotten at its heart, and the eventual crash to which this will lead is anticipated in signs of corruption, disintegration, and decay.

     

    Okay, that’s the bad news. The good news? Try God’s determined faithfulness as outlined in Ro 2:17-3:20. The bad news, the good news; both part of our Romans conversation this Sunday. I’ll ‘leaf’ the tree anatomy talk for another occasion.

     

    In Your Debt,

     

    R                             A                                    L                              P                                H

    Sunday
    Feb262017

    Not Exactly a Roman Holiday

    Dear Theologians,

     

    In ancient Rome, as today, the rich people lived up in the hills, the famous seven hills on which the city stands. The original palace, where the emperor Augustus lived at the time when Jesus was born, occupies most of one of them. But then, as now, the poorer people lived in the areas around the river; not least, in the area just across the river from the main city center. And this is where most of the first Roman Christians lived. The odds are that the first time this great letter was read aloud it was in a crowded room in someone’s house in the low-lying poorer district, just across the river from the seat of power.

     

    The Roman church consisted of both Jewish believers and Gentile believers. Some of the Jewish Christians were among Paul’s closest friends; they would have shared his robust view of how God had fulfilled the Jewish law through the Messiah and also transcended it by including Gentiles on equal terms in his renewed people. But other Jewish Christians would have been deeply suspicious of this: surely God gave the law to Moses? Doesn’t that mean that every word of it is valid for all time? Supposing they found themselves living alongside a house-church composed mostly of Gentile Christians who celebrated their freedom from the law, how would they feel? Suspicion, fueled by social tensions among Rome’s cosmopolitan mix of peoples, might easily turn to hostility.

     

    It is into this physical and social context that Paul writes his great letter…and he proclaims a rather risky message that might have tempted him or others to be ashamed of the good news: might.

     

    In Your Debt,

    R                  A               L                   P                        H