Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Lord and my God: The First Sunday after Easter

The readings for the First Sunday after Easter (St. Thomas Sunday) proclaim the bodily resurrection of Jesus the Christ, and that we find salvation through faith in him and his resurrection. Jesus through the resurrection reveals himself as Lord and Messiah. For me, like Thomas, he is Lord and God.


For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

- Psalm 16.10

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [whom] having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

- 1 Peter 1.3,8,9

My Lord and my God.

- John 20.28

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

IS Baptism necessary for Salvation?

Peter baptizing on the Day of Pentecost

IS Baptism necessary for Salvation?  Let's consider today's reading for the Tuesday after Easter. Did Peter say, “come forward and receive Christ as your personal Lord & Savior?” No, he said, “Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of sins.”

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly, that God hath made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified.  37 Now when they heard [this,] they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and the rest of the apostles, Brethren, what shall we do?  38 And Peter [said] unto them, Repent ye, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  39 For to you is the promise, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, [even] as many as the Lord our God shall call unto him.  40 And with many other words he testified, and exhorted them, saying, Save yourselves from this crooked generation.  41 They then that received his word were baptized: and there were added [unto them] in that day about three thousand souls.

- Acts 2:36-41 (American Standard Version)

Contemporary Christians do not appreciate that baptism is generally necessary for salvation, but we are reminded of this truth in today’s Epistle reading for the Tuesday after Easter. Notice, when the crowds on Pentecost ask Peter what they must do, Peter does not simply say "receive Jesus as your Lord and Saviour," but, "Repent, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ..." Coming to Christ in the ancient Church included baptism.

The catechism of the Book of Common Prayer teaches this:  Question. HOW many Sacraments hath Christ ordained in his Church?  Answer. Two only, as generally necessary to salvation; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

The Scriptural support for this is abundant (e.g., John 3.5, Acts 2.38, Acts 22.16, Titus 3.5, 1 Peter 3.21). In baptism we are buried with Christ and raised to newness of life with him (Romans 6.3,4), and we receive the Spirit (Acts 2.38).

God is sovereign and can save people however God chooses. The Spirit is not bound to the sacraments, but we are (Donald Bloesch). To the conform to the Apostolic preaching, we in the  Church must teach the necessity of Baptism, which although may not be absolutely necessary, is ordinarily necessary for salvation.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter Meditation by Bede Griffiths

So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
- Colossians 3.1-4 NRSV (Epistle reading for Easter).
For Easter, I want to share the thoughts of Dom Bede Griffiths, my favorite spiritual writer, which are taken from his book, Return to the Center. These passages are from chapter Six, Sin and Redemption, and chapter 14, Death and Resurrection.
"When Christ was hanging on the cross,  He experienced the pain of the whole world, from the beginning to the end of time, because He experienced it in the Word, which is before all things, and in all things, and above all things. By this suffering the pain of the whole world was reconciled to God, brought into unity of the divine life...
"He took upon Himself the sin and suffering of the whole world; He recapitulated all its stages and brought it into the consciousness of the Word. This is the meaning of redemption. Each of us was 'in Christ' on the cross, just as each of us was in Adam when he sinned. We bear the sin of Adam in us - the sin of man -but in Christ our human consciousness has been opened to the divine...
"There is no such thing as individual salvation.  We are saved as members of a Body, of an organic whole, of man and the universe. Just as we are 'born in sin,' as members of fallen humanity, so we are born in Christ, as members of His Body, of redeemed humankind. 'As in Adam all die, so also in Christ, shall all be made alive (1 Corinthians 15.22).'
"When Jesus surrendered His life on the cross, He brought to fulfillment this movement of the human soul; He accomplished the total surrender of humankind to God, of the human to the divine; He achieved the final death of the self to the world and raised it to eternal life in the resurrection."