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Matthew’s Spiritual Journey

Archive for September 2008

The Fellowship of Grace: He Welcomes Sinners

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Beginning with this post, I am starting a new project to summarize teachings at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on a regular basis. Below are my notes from the Sunday service on September 28.

Scripture Reading – Luke 15:1-10 (ESV)

Luke 15:1-10 (ESV), courtesy of http://wordle.net

Notes on the Sermon by Rev. Timothy Keller

The “muttering” [Luke 15:2, NIV] from the Pharisees and the scribes triggers Jesus to deliver three parables of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son. Conventional interpretations of these parables typically discuss how the Grace of God changes us as individuals.

In this 7-week series entitled the Fellowship of Grace, however, Rev. Keller wants to discuss them in a different light, exploring how these parables illustrate that the Grace of God, not only changes us individually, but also transforms us into a unique kind of group—a distinctive Gospel community.

Focusing on the parable of the Lost Sheep in particular, Rev. Keller asks the following three questions.

  1. What does the lost sheep teach us?
  2. What does the search itself teach us?
  3. What does the shepherd teach us?

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Written by Matthew

September 30, 2008 at 11:06 pm

Leading a Beta Group

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One new project Susan and I have committed to this fall is hosting and leading a weekly Christian fellowship meeting at our home. We will be studying three parables in Luke 15 over those seven weeks, dovetailing with the end-of-October publication of The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith, a new book by Reverend Tim Keller.

Beta Groups are newly-formed small gatherings for worship and Bible study at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. They are designed to serve as a seven-week introduction to the community of Christian fellowship.

In leading our Beta Group, we are responding, in part, to Reverend Keller’s call to engage more actively in building a Gospel-based Christian community and, in particular, to practice Christian hospitality in our daily lives. This homily, delivered on June 8, was part of the sermon series entitled Practicing the Christian Life and discussed Hebrews 13:1-14 which begins as follows.

Let brotherly love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

Reverend Keller helped me see that the practice of Christian hospitality should be considered part of the larger transformation of rebirth initiated by the Grace of God. I have come to accept that the practice of Christian hospitality requires me to form radically new attitude towards others with heart-felt care about both material and spiritual well-being of fellow sojourners in Christ.

Below are a couple of other Bible passages that have guided my service to our Beta Group which, incidentally, is composed mostly of newcomers (hence, sojourners) to New York City.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 10:17-19, ESV)

The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 4:7-11, ESV)

Written by Matthew

September 28, 2008 at 4:28 pm

Regeneration

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I began my spiritual journey after I studied these mysterious words of utmost importance from Yeshua which stumped even well-trained Nicodemus.

Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:1-8)

I am thankful for the Lord’s merciful grace in opening my heart and mind to receive His message with joyful submission, as Paul reminds me in his letter to TItus.

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Written by Matthew

September 27, 2008 at 12:33 am

Posted in Religion

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