The Bible Calls Jesus God

The Church knew from the start that Jesus was God. Yet both the Scripture and the Church from its earliest days confessed that there is only one God. They fearlessly proclaimed this truth when every culture around them believed anything but that there was just one God. They were even called Atheists because they didn’t believe in the Roman Gods or play the game of merging their religion with those around them.

The early church recognized that the New Testament clearly assumes Jesus is God. In some places, it calls him so point blank. (John 1:1, John 1:18, Romans 9:5Philippians 2:11 (Jesus Christ is Lord), Titus 2:13, Hebrews 1:8, 2 Peter 1:1) He is identified as the Son of God and calls himself the Son of Man. Jesus is called Lord, calls himself Lord  or implies he is Yahweh.

The New Testament also gives titles to Jesus that the Old Testament reserves for God alone. He is the Savior (Isaiah 45:21, Hosea 13:4, Luke 1:47, Acts 5:31) God is our shepherd (Psalm 23:1, Ezekiel 34:15) and Jesus is the shepherd (Hebrews 13:20) God is the first and the last (Isaiah 44:6). Jesus is the first and the last. (Revelation 1:17) Other titles are also given to both God and to Jesus. These reinforced the conviction of the church that Jesus is both God and Lord.

See also: One God in Three Persons |

©2018 Robert E. Smith. All rights reserved. Permission granted to copy, share and display freely for non-commercial purposes. Direct all other rights and permissions inquiries to cosmithb@gmail.com

New Contributor Coming: Rev. Jacob Hercamp

With great pleasure, let me welcome to the blog Rev. Jacob Hercamp. He will be contributing posts to our blog beginning sometime in the next few weeks. Here is his introduction:

Greetings in the Name of our crucified, risen, and ascended Lord, Jesus Christ!

My name is Jacob Hercamp, and I am currently serving as Pastor at St. Peter Lutheran Church in La Grange, MO.  Rev. Smith graciously invited me to help contribute to the What Does This Mean Blog, and I am excited to oblige!

I come from southern Indiana, and my home congregation is one of the oldest in the area, St. John’s Ev. Lutheran Church, White Creek. My parents and grandparents still live in the area. I attended the parochial school at the church, and after my 8th grade year I chose to attend Trinity Lutheran High School, located in Seymour, IN.  Upon graduation from high school I decided to attend Indiana University and pursue a degree in Biochemistry.  While at Indiana I played a key role in revitalizing the Omega Chapter of the Beta Sigma Psi, The National Lutheran Fraternity.  It was during this time of my life that I became friends with Rev. Smith because his sons and I lived together at Indiana.

During my time at college, I finally figured out that I should attend seminary, something that people encouraged me to do all along! So I applied to CTSFW, and got to sit at the feet of great Lutheran theologians, and hang out with Rev. Smith on a daily basis.

I was blessed to attend not only Ft. Wayne but I also took the opportunity to study at Westfield House in Cambridge, England.  I then went with my wife, Emily (4 years of marriage 20 June), to vicarage in Imperial, NE, under the guidance of Rev. David Kahle. Instead of going straight out after my 4th year at seminary, I was able to stay and work for Drs. David Scaer and Cameron MacKenzie as the graduate assistant while I earned a Master’s of Sacred Theology in Old Testament Exegesis from CTSFW.

I was ordained on Pentecost Day (4 June 2017) and will be celebrating my one year installation anniversary 23 July.

Emily and I are blessed with Jacob Ryan II (3 as of August 2018) and Ella (1 as of June 2018)

I pray that my writings here at What Does This Mean? proves to be fruitful for you in your journey to explore the faith that we have been given in our Baptism into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

©2018 Jacob Hercamp. All rights reserved. Permission granted to copy, share and display freely for non-commercial purposes. Direct all other rights and permissions inquiries to cosmithb@gmail.com

And There’s None Other God

The word “Trinity” is old — it was first used in second century AD. (100-200 AD) Yet, it is not a term used by the Bible. Christian theologians use it to sum up what the Scripture says about the nature of God. It helps to look at the passages that brought the Church to talk about God in this way.

The first truth that the Word of God reveals to us about God is that he is unique. There is only one God. On this point, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, the Jehovah’s Witnesses and a number of other religions agree. Here is how the Holy Spirit talks about the number of gods and the unity of God.

Judaism uses Deuteronomy 6:4 as its creed: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” Jesus and Paul agree. (Mark 12:29, Romans 3:30, Galatians 3:20). Other passages emphasize that there is one God. (Ephesians 4:61 Timothy 2:5, James 2:19).

There are no other Gods besides the Lord. (Isaiah 45:211 Corinthians 8:4) None of the so-called gods of the nations are like him. (Isaiah 46:8-9) None of the false gods can bring rain (Jeremiah 14:22) Since they are not real, they cannot help, much less save.

From these, and many other passages, the Church concluded and still believes that there is only one God. It is this God that we fear, love and trust as our own.

See also: One God in Three Persons

©2018 Robert E. Smith. All rights reserved. Permission granted to copy, share and display freely for non-commercial purposes. Direct all other rights and permissions inquiries to cosmithb@gmail.com.

A Little Sunday Morning Reading….

As you take a vacation trip and visit new churches along the way, you may notice that the Scripture passages read seem a lot like the ones being read at your church at home. You are probably right. Most Lutheran churches and other Christian traditions use a Lectionary — a list of readings agreed upon by a group of Christian Church bodies.

This is nothing new — the first lectionaries were used by synagogues before Jesus was born. The church continued that tradition, adding readings from the Gospels and a variety of letters and sermons written by the apostles and other early church fathers. Those recognized by the church as God’s Word eventually became a part of the lectionary proper and joined other Scriptures read regularly in worship.

The readings eventually settled down into a standard rotation. These became traditional lessons for the same Sunday in the Church Year. This pattern is used to this day — with some small adjustments — in the historic one year lectionary. Its advantage is that our ancestors heard these passages read — even Martin Luther and those before him.

Beginning in 1974, Protestant churches together developed a three-year lectionary, which reached its final form in 1983. Called the Revised Common Lectionary, it is used by most Christians in the United States. The three-year lectionary in Lutheran Service Book is based on this Lectionary. Its advantage is that more of the Scripture is read in worship and preached upon.

If you want to prepare for worship on Sunday during the week before, why not consult your congregation’s lectionary? The list of readings is available online at: the LCMS’ lectionary page?

See Also: Half Time in the Church Year

©2018 Robert E. Smith. All rights reserved. Permission granted to copy, share and display freely for non-commercial purposes. Direct all other rights and permissions inquiries to cosmithb@gmail.com

Half Time in the Church Year

As a liturgical church, the Lutheran Church organizes its worship life around a calendar of themes, readings from Scripture, worship services, practices, symbols and prayers known as the church year. It shares much of this organization with other liturgical churches and even some non-liturgical faith traditions.

The most general division in the Church Year is the semester. Tradition divides the church calendar into two parts. The first begins with the first Sunday of Advent and ends with the Day of Pentecost. It is known by several names. Most often it is called either the Festival Season or the Semester of our Lord. During this half-year, the church focuses on the life and earthly ministry of Jesus.

Today we begin the second half of the year, known as the Semester of the Church, Ordinary Time, the Season of Pentecost or the Season of Trinity. The focus is on how Christians should live life in this fallen world. Some of the pieces of the liturgy change at about week ten in the season of Pentecost and then again after the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. This list of readings, known as the lectionary, changes from a list geared to the place of the reading in the season (nth Sunday in Lent, etc.) to its position on the secular calendars. These sets of readings are called Proper 1, Proper 2, Proper 3, etc. this is to keep the readings on the same Sunday, more or less, each year.

What this means is that a bit of variety is always a part of our worship, even in its most traditional forms. As we receive God’s gifts, we hear most of the Scripture read to us. At the same time, we study and pray in unity with the church in every time and place.

©2018 Robert E. Smith. All rights reserved. Permission granted to copy, share and display freely for non-commercial purposes. Direct all other rights and permissions inquiries to cosmithb@gmail.com

Pentecost

The feast of Pentecost was one of the celebrations established by God at Mount Sinai. Also called the Feast of Weeks, it was a kind of Thanksgiving in which people brought a sacrifice for the harvest of grain. It was fifty days after Passover and known by the Greek word for fifty days — Pentecost. Since many Jews and Godfearers traveled to Jerusalem from great distances to be there for Passover, many stayed for this feast as well.

On Pentecost, the wind got the attention of the crowd. Wind and tongues of fire witnessed to the presence of the Holy Spirit. God kept his promise on that day when he gave himself — the third person of the Trinity — to the whole Church. No longer would the Holy Spirit come to just prophets, but to all believers, young and old, Jew and Gentile, of all nations and languages. They all spoke in the languages of the people gathered in Jerusalem, singing the praises of God. The church celebrates this day as a kind of birthday. It was that day the gospel began to spread to the ends of the earth.

Both the Hebrew and Greek words for Spirit mean “Wind.” The Holy Spirit hovered over the chaos before God created the Heavens and the Earth. When Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit settled into the Holy of Holies in the form of a cloud. When the Prophet Elijah fled to Mount Sinai, God sent a mighty wind, an earthquake, and a fire to get his attention. At the baptism of Jesus, the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove.

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost fulfilled prophecy in Old Testament (Joel 2:28-32), by John the Baptist (Matthew 3:11) and by Jesus (Acts 1:5). By baptizing His people with the Holy Spirit, Jesus gave them the power to witness to God’s love. He provided them with a counselor to lead and guide them. Just like the prophets of the Old Testament, every one of God’s children now can proclaim His praises to everyone.

See Also:
Ascension | Easter | Holy Saturday | Good Friday | Maundy Thursday |Palm Sunday

©2018 Robert E. Smith. All rights reserved. Permission granted to copy, share and display freely for non-commercial purposes. Direct all other rights and permissions inquiries to cosmithb@gmail.com

Matthias the Twelfth Apostle

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, St. Peter gathered the eleven Apostles and others. The betrayal of Jesus by Judas and his suicide left a vacancy among them. The number twelve was important. After all, there were twelve tribes of Israel. In Biblical numerology, the number stands for the whole people of God. When Jesus established the church, the number twelve came to stand for the church. They chose two men as candidates who had been with them from the very beginning and thus witnessed everything Jesus said and did — including the resurrection and ascension. They prayed and chose Matthias by lot.

We do not know much about Matthias. He appears only once in the Bible and that is in the first chapter of Acts. We know that he was a disciple of Jesus from the time that he was baptized by John until the Ascension. He was probably one of the seventy men Jesus sent out two by two to preach the coming of God’s kingdom. All the disciples respected him enough to pick him as one of two men to take Judas’ place as an Apostle. We do not even know what happened to him later. Church tradition has stories that he went to Northern Turkey and set up the church there, or to Ethiopia or that he died in Jerusalem.

We might think that he and other little known Apostles really were not important. Yet God used them to build his church. No one is too small or unimportant in God’s eyes. He has a plan for everyone’s life and uses whatever they do to serve him and to take care of people. Even children can do important things for God, no matter how little those things seem.

©2018 Robert E. Smith. All rights reserved. Permission granted to copy, share and display freely for non-commercial purposes. Direct all other rights and permissions inquiries to cosmithb@gmail.com

Jesus Returns to Heaven

The Ascension is an important event in the life of Jesus and the Church. It is the final part of the work which redeemed us: the cross, where our sins were paid for, the resurrection where the power of the grave was broken and the ascension which restored all His honor, glory, authority and power. From the days of the early church, over 1500 years ago, until recent years, the church celebrated the Ascension on the fortieth day after Easter, or the Thursday ten days before Pentecost. In the 21st century, many churches celebrate Ascension on the Sunday before Pentecost.

When He ascended, Jesus left His Church a promise, a mission and a blessing. He promised to be with us always, until the end of time. He gave us our mission. We would join His mission to seek and save the lost by going to the whole world,  being witnesses to His life, death and resurrection, to proclaim the good news of salvation, baptizing and teaching all He commanded us. As He ascended, He blessed them as Aaron and the High Priest did and as pastors do to this day, giving us His peace. He promised to be with us always, until the end of time itself.

Now the church waits patiently for him to return. On a day that no one knows, Jesus will return. On that day, he will raise our bodies from the grave, judge all the living and the dead, bring an end to sin, death and the power of the devil. God will live among us again, throw the greatest marriage feast of all time. He will dry the every tear from our eyes.

©2018 Robert E. Smith. All rights reserved. Permission granted to copy, share and display freely for non-commercial purposes. Direct all other rights and permissions inquiries to cosmithb@gmail.com