Strength and sanity for your Christian Experience

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We experience everything from minor diasppointments to horrific trauma—even as Christians—that seem to belie the promises offered by Jesus.

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There are reasons we turn to sexual sin. But Jesus was straight with us. He told us that the Christian life would involve taking up our crosses, denying ourselves, and laying down our lives for his sake and glory. We are called to deny ourselves because the reward he offers is greater than our desires.

You know the experience of slavery. Sexual sin has robbed you of life and strength—your manhood. The road of sexual sin leads to all kinds of death, but the road Jesus calls you to walk leads to life now and life forever. Only Jesus can give you what your heart is ultimately longing for!

Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Paul remembers the hope of the gospel, even in the midst of being confounded by his sin. And he goes on from that place of struggle to write one of the most glorious passages in all of Scripture: Romans 8, which radically focuses on what God accomplished for us in Christ and the incredible promises held out to us in the gospel.

This is perhaps the most beautiful picture of repentance in the Bible. In the face of his sin and utter inability, Paul begins to worship. He reminds himself not only of the forgiveness we have in Christ, but the amazing fullness of our redemption. In the face of his sin, Paul reminds us of the fullness of life offered to us. He lays hold again of Jesus, gets on his feet, and back into the battle against sin. Jesus wants you to experience freedom and joy. He promises you abundant life and—in the midst of the battle against sin—wants you to discover in him what will truly satisfy your soul.

He wants to free you from slavery and show you what it truly means to be a man! Again, sexual sin is idolatry. It is a violation of the first Great Commandment to love God, as well as a violation of the second Great Commandment to love others as ourselves Matthew —40, Mark — Sexual sin is always exploitative. It always takes those made in the image of God and turns them into objects for my pleasure.

Do you see how the violations of these commands hang together? We exploit others violating the second command and, in the same moment, long to be personally exalted violating the first command. At first glance, it may appear that the object on the monitor, the dancer, etc. The same language of healing also appears in the expression of faith in salvation.

We need a full study of the place of disease and its healing in the Hebrew faith.

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However he interpreted healing, as a sign of the Kingdom or as service to men whose heavenly father knows their earthly needs, it must be acknowledged as an essential element in the meaning of his ministry. In the New Testament faith, as in the Old, the language of salvation and the language of healing are interwoven. Wheeler Robinson has pointed out in the analysis of the meaning of salvation soteria, sozo that in the New Testament in one hundred and fifty-one occurrences of the noun or the verb, sixteen refer to deliverance from disease or demon possession and over forty to deliverance from physical death.

It is said of the withered hand in Matthew , "It was restored whole [ apokatastethe ] like the other. The concern for healing springs naturally from concern for the neighbor. The Christian faith has always recognized the obligation to "feed the hungry and clothe the naked," to visit those sick and in prison. The healing miracles in the New Testament appear often as signs of the Kingdom of God.

It is because of this complex and mysterious relationship between part and whole, natural need and ultimate fulfillment, that Christian theology requires a clear view of the nature of man, and his creature-needs in relation to his destiny under God. A Christian theology of salvation requires a doctrine of essential humanity. Man is intended for fullness of life upon the terms set by his nature as it comes from the hands of God.

But the actual state of man is one of estrangement from God, which means a distortion of his essential being. He has not only lost the full life for which he is created, but he has lost in part his capacity to achieve a clear view of what that life is.

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In our doctrine of man, therefore, we have to respect two elements. First, since man is finite there are limitations to his knowledge of himself and his world which are given with his creaturely state.

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Man is in process, both in his individual and his collective life. He literally does not know what he is becoming. Even a perfect creature would have to define essential existence in terms which allowed for the limits of creaturely knowledge. Second, man the sinner has a distorted understanding of his being and of the meaning of his fulfillment. As man searches for his essential self, he corrupts his definition of his humanity.

Consider the ideals of humanity which have governed civilizations and see how they are full of the pride of race and class, the selfishness of individuals, and the resentments of finitude and death. So the question of what the real human needs are becomes a theological problem because our ultimate perspective on the meaning of our existence is involved. In the Christian faith it might appear that the problem has been solved for us by the revelation of our restored humanity in Jesus Christ.

He is the archetype of essential humanity. Here is the foundation of the Christian care of souls. We have a guide and criterion for the goal to be sought in every human relationship. But when we ask what this criterion means in actual life, we encounter two special characteristics of the Christian approach to human nature and its fulfillment which are at once the key to insight and the source of perplexity in the pastoral task.

God has shown his love for us in the action which reveals his purpose, and that action is told in the Christian story of Jesus.

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To love then, in the New Testament sense, means to participate in this action. Our action is a response -- in ways appropriate to our situation -- to what God has done for us. Thus Paul enjoins the Christian community, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus who took upon him the form of a servant [ doulos ]" Phil. So far then we have the basis of all care of souls. It is an action in love which makes concrete the spirit of ministry we know in Christ. But there is a strangeness about such love. It is spirit, never mere form. To love means to conform our action to the concrete needs of the neighbor.

Our need is for hope in the midst of estrangement, so God has to bear with us in our suffering.

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Love becomes incarnate in the acts of persons who seek one another in a spirit which opens the way to a deeper relationship. Adoration, forgiveness, sacrifice, mutuality, are all themes of love, but none of these allows arbitrary boundaries to its creative power.

Love comes to know itself only in responding to the call of the neighbor. There are indeed special dimensions of love in the varied relationships of life: brotherly love, sexual love, love of work and play, love of country, love of adventure. None of these falls wholly outside the meaning of the agape of God made known in Christ, yet in none of them can there be a mere imitation of Jesus as pattern. The imitation of Christ is either a creative response in freedom or it is a false and arbitrary imposition of law upon life. All the loves of human existence may be affirmed in the spirit of agape, yet agape transcends them all.

It gathers human energies together in the service of the saving action of God who wills to redeem every human life from its self-imposed futility. We have said that love conforms itself to the need to be met. This means that we encounter our neighbor, as God has encountered us, not in the innocence of a development toward perfections but in the distortion and suffering of estrangement.

We see in Christ the way in which love bears with our human situation, taking its burdens into the new life. Fulfillment is promised, hope is restored, and a new way opened, but with no setting aside of the conditions of the human pilgrimage.

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The restoration of our essential humanity as declared in the New Testament is in a sense proleptic. We know what we are intended to be. We know love as spirit breaking through and overcoming the darkness of life, but not banishing it. In his great book on the atonement, J.

McLeod Campbell said Christ revealed the love of God by trusting it. The resurrection is a sign of the victory which is beginning, but which is not yet consummated. Therefore, Christian faith has a double aspect in its understanding of what the soul needs. On one hand, every person should be built up into the Body of Christ, the Church. Each is to become in his own way the new man, as God intended. At the same time the concrete decisions in life are to be made in love and trust, allowing the spirit of love and specific circumstance to open the way.

As one reads the New Testament the wonder grows that in spite of the fact that the first Christians were overwhelmed by the assurance that they had seen in Christ the new Adam, man restored and fulfilled, they refused to make Christ a new law. He is himself the fulfillment of the law. And Paul returns always to this theme: "The earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God" "We wait for the redemption of our body, for we are saved by hope" Rom.

What then does it mean to be saved? This participation is not simply the enjoyment of a legal status; it is a new relationship of personal faith. It is the broken man becoming whole. There is a present and positive renewal in the life of faith.