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March 2018

 
 

paSTOR`S PAGE

March 2018

 

March 4

 

In any community, large or small, people have always wanted to know what the rules, responsibilities and benefits are, and who the ruler is. In the history of Christianity, a few forms of authority have been contoured, toward which people have subordinated themselves from the religious point of view:

1. THE CHURCH – After the Great Schism of 1054, the Christian Church was broken into the two denominations, named historical churches, the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church. In these two Christian denominations, the final authority is the church, the keeper of divine mysteries.

2. BIBLICAL LOGIC – Christian people, especially the protestant churches, have their own cognitive capacities as final authority for interpreting the Gospel of the Lord, to the point where it can be logically explained. The great problem with this method is that it eliminates the supernatural, that evidently cannot be explained from the point of view of rational sight.

3. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE – There are Christians who have made a norm of faith out of their own personal experience. The truth is that no matter how profound someone’s personal experience is, he cannot permit himself to generalize it and make out of it a standard for the spiritual life, undermining the will of God revealed in the Scriptures.

4. THE BIBLE – Mortals cannot know more about God than He has revealed in the Bible – “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The church is led by limited people, logic and human experience are also limited, but the words that come out of the mouth of the Creator and are made known to man through the prophets of the Old and New Testaments are divine and credible. The institutionalization of the church, the religious empiricism (leading through experience) and human rationalism are not divine in nature, but the Bible contains the words from the mouth of God, reason for which they represent spiritual authority and are the only infallible norm worthy to be believed.

The Bible records in Acts of the Apostles the preoccupations and priorities of the Lord’s disciples: “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). Bible study, spiritual unity of a church’s membership, the Holy Communion and prayer were the first manifestations of the spiritual life in the First Church. Knowing and understanding God’s word from the Bible leads to maturity, brotherly fellowship leads to unity in the church, Holy Communion leads to fellowship with the Lord and to praising His name, and prayer leads to worship. In these trying and confusing times, the children of God have the resources of heaven available to them through the study of Scriptures and through prayer. Likewise, they can experiment the joy of fellowship with the body and the blood of the Lord and the privilege of fellowship with the saints.

 

   

 11 martie

 

    Someone once said “No one can teach you to fly if you do not want to spread your wings”. In the same way, no one can lead you to God if you do not want to believe in Him. Many people do not experience faith in God, invoking the need for concrete arguments. Saint Augustine said “St. Augustine said, “I have a thousand arguments for the man who wishes to believe; I have no arguments for the man who does not.” Believing or not believing is each person’s personal right and personal choice. There are many people who speak out against faith even though they’ve never experienced it. If someone has never experienced love or suffering, does this mean they do not exist?
    Similarly, there are many people who speak out against the Bible, despite never having read it. It is sad when people say they do not believe because they do not have arguments to believe. I ask myself what arguments they have not to believe. Why do people ask for arguments to justify believing in God but do not ask for arguments for rejecting faith in God? What arguments do we have when we believe that the events that happened a few thousand years ago mentioned in a history book are true? Is man’s history book more credible than God’s history book – the Bible? These people seem to be bothered by the existence of God and try to convince others that God does not exist. It may seem odd that the Bible does not try to convince people that God exists, but simply affirms His existence.
    The Bible presents God as the creator of the Universe and man, compassionate and merciful towards people, loving unconditionally and full of goodness. The Bible talks about the second chance that God offers to everyone, about the hope inside our souls, and about a person’s disappointment and frustration replaced with a smile in the morning. Faith is not an obligation, it is simply an option, a great and unique opportunity. Faith is necessary and sufficient for man to be saved, to be forgiven of sins. The evangelist Mark remarks that Christ said, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
    For every mortal, poor or rich, there exists a birth date, a death date and a jugement, followed by an eternity with or without God. He came to us 2000 years ago and died in the place of all those who should have died. Through faith in His existence and His work of forgiveness, every man can be forgiven. And so then, faith is extremely important. The stake is very high; the stake is LIFE. Who allows himself to try out seeing whether he goes to heaven or hell because he doesn’t believe? Who has the courage to give their life in order to gain the right not to believe in Jesus Christ the Savior?
    Faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of all people grants the salvation of the soul. Water baptism is the manifestation of this faith. People do not get baptized in order to be saved, but because they are already saved. People who are saved know and fulfill the commandments of God. Water baptism is the evidence of salvation, and water baptism is the obedience of the saved. Salvation is associated with baptism, the saved person is associated with the Savior. With whom do you associate? What do you intend to do with your life?

  March 18

Why does God allow suffering in the lives of people? Why do bad things happen to good people? Most of the time, these questions are asked by atheists, insinuating that God does not exist or that His power and love are absent. When there is talk about “good people”, what motives do we have to believe that such people exist? Richard Wurmbrand, speaking of good and evil, said “lamb is good because I want to eat it. The wolf is bad because he wants to eat the lamb that I wish to eat”. We see then that certain things are good or bad only from our point of view.
What is God’s point of view with regards to “good people”?
The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5-7)
What does the Bible say about suffering?
The universe we live in was reconfigured because of the sin of the first people, the sin which inevitably drew disease, suffering, and death. When God created the universe and man, there was no disease, suffering, and death, but the just punishment for the original sin resulted in all three being a dramatic reality in the lives of all people. In reading the Bible, we easily observe the fact that the Savior Jesus called people to a ministry that involves suffering: “If anyone wishes to follow me, he must give up his own life, take up his cross and follow me”; “In the world you will have trouble”; “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted”; The young wealthy man did not follow the Lord because the price Jesus asked for was too great.
How do we answer those who are in suffering and have many questions?
1. The truth is that God does not respond to existential questions: “why do bad things happen to good people”
2. God does not answer questions about the future: “when is the end of the world?” When the disciples asked the Savior, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority”. (Acts 1:6-7)
3. God answers the questions that lead to wisdom “What do I need to learn from this experience?” In the last chapter of the book that bears his name, Job explains the fact that in suffering, God becomes real. He explains in chapter 42 that he knew God, but through suffering he saw Him, he experienced God. Paul said “Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4)
How do you act in the face of suffering, what do you do when God allows suffering?

  March 25

The event of the Lord’s entrance in Jerusalem was named and celebrated as Palm Sunday, because people lay palm leaves and flowers on the road upon which the Savior entered the city. It is useful for us to observe several things on the sidelines of this event, evaluating the people’s and the Lord’s behavior. In Israel there were at least four categories of people, that can be divided in two groups:
1. Publicans (customs officials) and sinners, categorized as society’s renegades
2. Scribes and Pharisees, appreciated as society’s religious
In accepting these categories, we remark in the context of Palm Sunday the naïveté of the customs officials and the sinners, but also the wickedness of the scribes and Pharisees.
I. THE IGNORANCE OF THE PEOPLE OF JERUSALEM
1. Unstable people. In the span of six days, they went from one extreme to the other, manifesting the absence of a personal point of view.
2. Manipulated people. They knew who Jesus was on Palm Sunday, but they also demanded His condemnation to death a few days later, instigated by the religious leaders.
II. THE HIPOCRACY OF THE RELIGIOUS LEADERS
1. The association with prominent people – “And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’.” (Matthew 3:9). A Pharisee tries to associate himself with a person appreciated in the community.
2. They are motivated by jealousy and hatred – “But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus” (Matthew 12:14). Even Pilate observed that the Pharisees wished to crucify the Lord out of envy.
3. They are hypocrites – “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees – which is hypocrisy” (Luke 12:1). The word “hypocrite” is a Greek word that means “actor”. In first century Greece, hypocrites (actors) were in the theatre, where they played various roles, but in their personal lives they were themselves
III. THE MERCY OF GOD
1. The Savior loved people. When he was descending the hill to enter into Jerusalem, he knew by the Spirit everything that would happen in the last week of His human life and He began to weep for the city: “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes” (Luke 19:42). Even though He knew ahead of time about their betrayal and cowardice, the Lord did not lose his passion, He did not work on His mission with indifference, nor did He despise them. Even though He knew they would betray Him, that they would beat Him and condemn Him to death, He loved them until the end.
2. He fulfilled the prophecy. “… the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9). All four Gospels present His entrance into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Matthew 21:2, Luke 19:30, Mark 11:2, John 12:14).
3. He restored the authority of the Scriptures. “It is written…” (verse 13a)
4. He confirmed the role of the Temple “My house will be called a house of prayer” (Matthew 21:13b). “He drove out all who were buying and selling there…” (verse 12). “He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves..” (verse 12b). “you are making my Father’s House a den of thieves” (verse 13b).