Edward T. Welch
Think of the entire Bible as the unfolding story of God’s revelation about himself. As such, “Do not be afraid” says something about him even before it speaks to us.
At first, it could sound like God is the exalted King firing off edicts from his heavenly throne. He is the Lord; his word is final. When he speaks, he speaks with authority. We don’t necessarily like being bossed around, but we begrudgingly acknowledge that if anyone has the right to issue commands, the God who created us has that right.
But there are two different ways of saying, “Don’t be afraid.” one is as an edict to be obeyed, in which case it is a peculiar edict. It sounds like the King actually cares about us. He isn’t ordering us to make bricks without straw. Instead, it sounds as if he wants his people to know peace. So, even when seen as an authoritative command, this reveals something lovely about God. Unlike other kings, at least those who have despotic authority, God knows the concerns of those in his realm and commands things that are in their best interest. That is the most severe way to understand “Do not be afraid.”
Here is the other way: “[Jesus said] ‘Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father, has been pleased to give you the kingdom’” (Luke 12:32). It echoes the way God spoke to Israel hundreds of years before: “‘Do not be afraid, O worm Jacob, O little Israel, for I myself will help you,’ declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel” (Isa. 41:14). No one inserts “little flock” into an inviolable command. No king talks about being “pleased” to give anything, let alone the kingdom itself, to his subjects. Jesus is invoking kingly imagery, indeed. But the one who sits on the throne is the Father, and that changes everything. He is your Father.
I would do anything for my daughters and sons-in-law within the bounds of wisdom and love. I would sacrifice (and have) time, money, and anything else necessary for their welfare. And I am just an ordinary, somewhat selfish father. If there is anything good in my
He is the King. Now consider that the Father is also the King. “Your Father has been delighted to give you the kingdom.” As Father, God comes close to you. He knows your needs and you take comfort in his love. As King, he sovereignly reigns over his kingdom, and his bidding will come to pass. You take comfort in his power. If he is going to speak effectively to your fears, he must be both loving and strong, and indeed he is.
He is generous. “Your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Fathers can give begrudgingly and kings can give simply because they made an oath, but God gives out of his pleasure and delight.
Sound too good to be true? Please understand that when God speaks in ways that are completely contrary to our expectations, then we have encountered something genuine. No one could invent a god who, in response to
Excerpt from Running Scared by Edward T. Welch
Theology of Hope
'Christianity' has its essence and its goal not in itself and not in its own existence, but lives from something and exists for something which reaches far beyond itself. If we would grasp the secret of its existence and its modes of behavior, we must inquire into its mission. If we would fathom its essence, then we must inquire into that future on which it sets its hopes and expectations. If Christianity in the new social conditions has itself lost its bearings and become uncertain, then it must once again consider why it exists and what is its aim.
It is generally recognized today that the New Testament regards the Church as the 'community of eschatological salvation', and accordingly speaks of the gathering in and sending out of the community in terms of a horizon of eschatological expectation. The risen Christ calls, sends, justifies and sanctifies men, and in so doing gathers, calls and sends them into his eschatological future for the world. The risen Lord is always the Lord expected by the Church - the Lord, moreover, expected by the Church for the world and not merely for itself. Hence the Christian community does not live from itself and for itself, but from the sovereignty of the risen Lord and for the coming sovereignty of him who has conquered death and is bringing life, righteousness and the kingdom of God.
This eschatological orientation is seen in everything from which and for which the Church lives.
excerpt from Theology of Hope by Jurgen Moltmann
All Things New
For our first sermon of
As we ended 2017 and began this new year, what do you find yourself most looking forward to in 2018?
Let's read the passage:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
The passage from
We first took a step back to acknowledge that all things are created and ruled over by God. And God has a
Why do you think we as humans want "new" things?
What is God promising here? Just new material possessions?
Duane pointed out that the "New" we need isn't a happening or a circumstance, it's a quality of life which we receive when we know that God is King over all?
What's an example of a happening or circumstance that you may be putting your hope in right now?
How does that knowing that God is King make things "new"?
God is going to make all things new, not just because they've gotten old and outdated, but because we've broken them with our sin. We now have to deal with tears, death, mourning
Psalm 147:3 and Isaiah 63:1-3 paint a picture of God as one who binds up wounds and verse 3 and 4 in our passage say that He comes down from His throne to wipe away our tears.
What do we learn about our relationship with God from these descriptions?
God is making all things new and He tells us here in His word so that we will look forward to it. In
Why do you think we're told to stop looking back?
What are some things you have behind you that you can't stop looking back at?
Duane then went on to explain what it means to make things new. That God isn't offering to make new things for
What kind of thirst do you think the passage is talking about?
God promises us the thirsty that He will take care of that without any payment, we just need to go to him. Pastor Duane ended with a verse from Romans 6:4 “Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”
As we seek to have a future orientation, where we look ahead, what are some things you look forward to being made new?
Pray with your group that we would be able to confess and bring God our broken things and look forward to the new things He has promised us.
The Holiness of God
Here is an excerpt from The Holiness of God by the recently deceased, RC Sproul. Here, he talks about the utter holiness of God and the hope that the Jews longed for and the promise that we, as Christians, have; to see God face to face in his full glory.
Men are not allowed to see the face of God. The Scriptures warn that no man can see God and live. We remember Moses' request when he ascended into the holy mountain of God. Moses had been an eyewitness of astonishing miracles. He had heard the voice of God speaking to him out of the burning bush. He had witnessed the river Nile turn into blood. He had tasted manna from heaven and gazed upon the pillar of fire. He had seen the chariots of Pharoah inundated by the waves of the Red Sea. Still, he was not satisfied. He wanted more. He craved the ultimate spiritual experience. He inquired of the Lord on the mountain, "let me see your face. Show me your glory." The request was denied.
And the Lord said, "I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. But," he said, "you cannot see my face, for no one may see my face and live." Then the Lord said, "There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back, but my face must not be seen." (Exodus 33:19-23, NIV)
When God told Moses that he could see HIs back, the literal reading of the text can be translated "hindquarters but never His face. When Moses returned from the mount, his face was shining. The people were terrified, and they shrunk away from him in horror. Moses' face was too dazzling for them to look upon. So Moses put a veil over his face so the people could approach him. this experience of terror was directed at the face of a man who had come so close to God that he was reflecting God's glory. This was a reflection of the glory from the back of God, not the refulgent glory of His face. If people are terrified by the sight of the reflected glory of the back parts of God, how can anyone stand to gaze directly into his holy face?
Yet the final goal of every Christian is to be allowed to see what was denied to Moses. We want to see Him face to face. We want to bask in the radiant glory of HIs divine countenance. It was the hope of every Jew, a hope instilled in the most famous and beloved benediction of Israel:
The LORD bless thee and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)
This hope, crystallized in the benediction of Israel, becomes more than a hope for the Christian- it becomes a promise. St. John tells in his first letter:
Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. (1 John 3:2)
Here is the promise of God: We shall see Him as He is. Theologians call this future expectation Beatific Vision. We will see God as He is. This means that someday we will God face to face. We will not see the reflected glory of a burning bush or a pillar of cloud. We will see Him as He is, as He is in His pure divine essence.
Right now it is impossible for us to see God in His pure essence. Before that can ever happen we must be purified. When Jesus taught the Beatitudes, He promised only a distinct group the vision of God: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." None of us in this world is pure in heart. It is our impurity that prevents us from seeing God. The problem is not with our eyes; it is with our hearts. Only after we are purified and totally sanctified in heaven will we have the capacity to gaze upon Him face to face.
Light From Light
Gerald O'Collins & Mary Ann Meyers
As we continue exploring the theme of light in scripture this Advent season, here is an excerpt from Light From Light by O'Collins and Meyers about the intersection of science and theology concerning physical and spiritual significance of light.
In biblical imagery "light" comes across as thoroughly interconnected with "glory," or the splendor/radiance of the divine presence. One can describe "glory" (
Human beings, while they cannot see the deity as such, can perceive the glory that symbolizes God's presence. Moses is granted a fleeting glimpse of God's"glory" (Exod. 33:18-23). This visible divine glory serves as a kind of envelope for the unearthly bright light that, paradoxically, veils GOd's being. ONe of the New Testament's pastoral letters expresses this conviction: "God dwells in unapproachable light; him no one has ever seen or can ever see" (1 Tim. 6:16) A screen of light hides God, who is utterly holy and beyond human perception. God remains an invisible figure. "Light" articulates and symbolizes this divine otherness and holiness.
The Light of Hope - Isaiah 9: 2,6
This week began our yearly tradition of Advent, looking forward to the celebration of Jesus' birth on Christmas. Our theme for Advent this year is light, and in our first week Pastor Duane takes us Isaiah 9 to talk about "The Prophecy Candle of Hope."
Advent is one of our Church's big Christmas traditions during the Christmas season. What personal or family tradition are you most looking forward to this upcoming season?
Let's read the passage and discuss:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
[Isaiah 9:2,6 ESV]
Was there anything that you really enjoyed about the passage? Anything that was interesting? Confusing?
Pastor Duane arranged the discussion of Hope into 3 points from the passage:
At the time of this prophecy from
Duane mentioned that there is a spiritual darkness in our land, San Diego, the US, what are some ways you've seen that darkness?
We went into even greater detail here about what darkness is, and Duane brought in some ideas from Thomas Aquinas about 3 types of darkness that God's light helps us overcome: ignorance, sin, and condemnation.
Ignorance is our inability to know God and
How have you seen this form of darkness in the world?
Sin is our inability to think about God correctly, twisting His word and truth.
How can we know when we're twisting God's word and truth?
Condemnation is the guilt spiral we find ourselves as we camp in the shame resulting from our own failures and feelings of being unwanted and unloved.
What are some things you find yourself doing when you are "camping in your condemnation?" What are some things that bring you out of that?
God's light saves us from the
How would you explain "light" to someone?
Why do you think
The Prophet Isaiah promises the people that as dark as it seems now, a great dawn is coming and in verse 6 he reveals the light of that dawn to be God's own Son.
Duane took us to Matthew 4:13-17 to show Jesus coming back the same spot where Isaiah originally delivered the prophecy about the Savior and pronounces that the He, the light of the world has come.
What are some things that Jesus' light allow you to hope for?
(hope meaning assurance of realization)
Pray as a group, thanking God for sending us
Christ the Light
The theme of our advent season is light and what it means for Jesus to be our light and for us to live in the light of the Gospel. Here is an excerpt from Christ the Light by David L. Whidden III, where he takes a look at the theme of light through the writings of Thomas Aquinas.
What God does as teacher is share his own goodness with us and constantly make himself manifest to us. One of the words that appears consistently in the context of illumination with regard to God is "manifestation," based on things manifest to us and without it, we cannot see. God is constantly reaching toward us through a variety of means, internal and external, to communicate who he is and that we should love him. God is supremely knowable to God and shares that supreme knowledge with us, both through creation and revelation, out of the love of his goodness. God is not some remote deity that ignores us, but one constantly reaching out to us, Thr primary of the Father of lights is our knowledge of God that comes from God's own self-knowledge. Holy teaching, then, is based on God's infallible self-manifestation to us, based upon his goodness.
Resolved Christmas Gift!
This December at The Resolved Church, we are raising money for a year-end Christmas gift. We are resolved to be a giving people and want to bless our church and our city! Our giving goal is $75K which will go to:
We have over 150 envelopes on our Resolved Christmas Gift wall. If everyone takes one envelope and gives the amount written on it we will reach our goal! We are encouraging each person (including every family member!) to participate in this experience where we get to reflect the generosity of our God who has given us the greatest gift in sending Jesus Christ into the world.
Come on a Sunday, grab an envelope off the wall, and be part of the Resolved Christmas Gift!
Once you grab an envelope, you can either put the physical amount in it and put it in one of our giving boxes or go to the giving kiosk and give the amount digitally. You can also give your gift online now, marking which envelope you’re taking, and we’ll remove it from the wall for you.
Advent: Light Has Come
You can get our Advent Guide for FREE at the Connect Booth or R | KIDS desk with a suggested donation of $5. Or order online Advent: Light Has Come
“I have come into the world as
believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
- Jesus Christ, the Son of God
For most Americans, Christmas is a very special and festive time of year. It’s the number one gifts and shopping season of the year, a time where houses are decorated inside and out, and a time where families and close friends spend quality time together, all leading up to the apex day on December 25th.
Today, much is associated with Christmas which has little to do with its origins: the birth of Jesus Christ. Historically, followers of Jesus Christ have celebrated not just the one day commemorating His birth but given an entire month to reflect on the significance and goodness of God coming to earth in Jesus called, “Advent."
The word "Advent" comes from the Latin word
Julie Canlis in her book, Theology of the Ordinary, says this coming of God to us in Christ is, “God’s most fundamental blessing upon creation. In the incarnation, God took
In Christian history, followers of Jesus have used four candles, lighting one for each week of Advent during times they set aside to seek God and reflect on the goodness of Him becoming human for us. Each week focuses on a different aspect of His coming.
We have created a devotional booklet as a guide for you as an individual, with your significant other, and/or with your family during this Advent season. We encourage you to set aside some time to light the number of candles for the week and follow one of the week’s Advent guides. We’ve provided three guides for each week.
Pastor Duane Smets
A Jesus Worth Believing In
This week Duane discussed worth, the worth of Jesus and how much He thinks we're worth.
What item that you own is worth the most to you? An item you would pay an outrageous amount of money to keep.
Let's read the passage:
4 "I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. 5 But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! 6 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
8 "And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, 9 but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. 10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. 11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14 But he said to him, "Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?" 15 And he said to them, "Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16 And he told them a parable, saying, "The land of a rich man produced plentifully, 17 and he thought to himself, 'What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?' 18 And he said, 'I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry."' 20 But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?' 21 So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God." [Luk 12:4-21 ESV]
Was there anything in the passage that struck you? Challenged you? Raised questions with you?
Duane broke this teaching from Jesus into three ideas for us to think on:
The Worth of the Sparrow
The Worth of the Spirit
The Worth of the Soul
THE WORTH OF THE SPARROW
Jesus is inviting the people in to a different way to see worth. To see the worth of things from the perspective of God. He has a very different way to measure worth because He needs nothing.
Jesus points out that our fear is often misplaced. We fear things that are temporal and lose no sleep over things that are eternal. He says we shouldn't fear people, but fear God.
How do you explain fearing God? What would that look like?
Why do we so often fear people more than God?
Jesus also says we should fear God because He "has authority to cast into hell", Duane read from Jonathan Edwards who expanded on that idea describing hell as "not the absence of God but his presence"
Why would that be something to be afraid of? What do you think our culture in San Diego thinks about hell?
THE WORTH OF THE SPIRIT
Jesus goes on to explain how one escapes hell and gets into heaven. He explains that we will be judged by God (Ecc 12: 14-15) and can be saved by acknowledging Jesus as Son and receiving His forgiveness. Jesus is telling this to people before He has died, preparing them for what they are about to see.
Duane explained that forgiveness only works if someone pays the price, was there a time you had to forgive someone? Who ended up paying the price?
Those who acknowledge Jesus as the Son are not just forgiven, they're also given The Spirit of God to live within the. (John 14:16)
Duane mentioned many benefits of having the Spirit within us, including:
We're never alone
Reminds us that we're valuable
Reminds us of God's word
Gives us courage to take on the world and talk about Jesus
Which of these benefits have you needed most in your life this week?
THE WORTH OF THE SOUL
Someone in the crowd brings a question to Jesus, asking him for judgement about a dispute. Jesus addresses the man's heart by again redefining worth as what God values.
He tells a the story about the rich man who hordes his riches and then dies. Highlighting the difference between economic security and eternal security.
Duane explained that we all have 3 gifts to invest in this life: time, talent and treasure.
How are you investing your time towards eternal things? Your talent? Your treasure?
What are some ways you can begin investing those gifts properly?
Jesus takes on hedonism and materialism with His story. Duane explained that life consists in the abundance of Christ, not in the abundance of things.
What can you do to live a life in the abundance of Christ?
Pray with your goup, that we wouldn't be a church that covets, but a church that blesses and realizes what Jesus is worth, what the Spirit is worth, and what God believes we are worth.