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MARIST REST 309 - Christianity Forums (1)

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1 “I am the True Vine, Abide in Me” When reading, “I am the True Vine, Abide in Me”, I had to first define abide; it is to accept, live, continue, or remain. Abiding in the vine means receiving and believing and trusting in the words of Jesus. It means receiving the love of Jesus for the Father and for his people and the joy that Jesus has in the Father and in us. It means sharing the joy, the love, the words with Jesus. So, to abide in Christ is to live in Him or remain in Him. For example, when a person is saved, he or she is described as being “in Christ.” When interpreting this you realize that the vine is the source and sustenance of life for the branches, and the branches must abide in the vine to live and bear fruit. Jesus, of course, is the vine, and the branches are people. While it is obvious the fruit-bearing branches represent true Christians, the identity of the fruitless ones is in question. The barren branches can be seen as Christians who bear no spiritual fruit or non-Christians. When Jesus said “I am the true vine” he was not trying to be obscure with the disciples. He was touching on something very familiar to them, and leading them to a new understanding of their relationship to him. For one thing, they had all just been drinking the fruit of the vine (wine) in the Last Supper and Jesus had used the wine as a symbol of his blood about to be shed in atonement for sin. Not only that, every Jew also knew that the scriptures portrayed Israel as a vine belonging to God. Jesus had also used the imagery of the vine and the vineyard in a number of his parables and so on. So, when Jesus claims to be “the true vine” he is drawing together all that rich symbolism of the past, and in effect says, that he is the real vine that lies behind these symbols. He is the branch that God made for Himself. Parable of the Wedding Feast So your summary of the events were spot on. Many people had been invited, but when the time for the banquet came and the table was set, those invited refused to come. Note that it is not because the invited guests could not come to the wedding feast, but that they would not come. Everyone had an excuse. The wedding invitation is then extended to anyone and everyone, total strangers, both good and bad. This refers to the gospel being taken to the Gentiles. This portion of the parable is a foreshadowing of the Jews' rejection of the gospel. The matter of the wedding garment is instructive. It would be an insult to the king to refuse to wear the garment provided to the guests. The man who was caught wearing his old clothing learned what an offense it was as he was removed from the celebration. This was Jesus' way of teaching our lack of self-righteousness. Just as the king provided wedding garments for his guests, God provides salvation for mankind. For his crime against the king, the improperly attired guest is thrown out into the darkness. For their crimes against God, there will be many who will be consigned to existence without God for eternity. Christ concludes theparable with the sad fact that "many are invited, but few are chosen." In other words, many people hear the call of God, but only a few heed it. To summarize the point of the Parable of the Wedding Feast, God sent His Son into the world, and the very people who should have celebrated His coming rejected Him, bringing judgment upon themselves. As a result, the kingdom of heaven was opened up to anyone who will set aside his own righteousness and by faith accept the righteousness God provides in Christ. Those who reject the gift of salvation and cling instead to their own "good" works will, for lack of a better word, spend eternity in hell. The Three Temptations When reading that Jesus was tempted by the devil for forty days, it came to my mind that the fasting compares with that of both Moses and Elijah. The main point is how the Lord deals with temptation in the light of His humanity. Temptation is never as great as when one has made a public declaration of faith as did our Lord when He was baptized in the Jordan river. I noted that, during this time of testing, our Lord was also ministered to by angels. During times of testing and trial, we too are aided by angels who are ministering spirits sent to those who will inherit salvation. Jesus’ temptations follow three patterns that are common to all men. The first temptation concerns the lust of the flesh. Our Lord is hungry, and the devil tempts Him to convert stones into bread. The second temptation concerns the pride of life and the third concerns the lust of the eyes. There are many temptations that we sadly fall into because our flesh is naturally weak, but we have a God who will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear; He will provide a way out. We can therefore be victorious and then will thank the Lord for “deliverance from temptation.” Jesus’ experience in the desert helps us to see these common temptations that keep us from serving God effectively. 2 John Calvin and the Second Reformation John Calvin was a major figure in the Protestant Reformation. The French lawyer and theologian reimagined Christian theology in his Institutes of the Christian Religion. During the Protestant Reformation, different reformers started challenging the teachings of the Catholic Church. They thought the Church had gotten too far away from the Bible as the source of truth and that the priests and the Pope were abusing their power. One of the most important people in the Reformation was John Calvin, a religious scholar. Calvin had spent years studying religion, philosophy, and law. As he thought about religion more, Calvin started disagreeing with Roman Catholic teachings. Theology is a complex and nuanced subject. For many Christians, it is also a subject of much debate, which often leads to misunderstandings or misinterpretationsof other Christian interpretations of God's word. The theological approach advanced by Calvin has come to be known as 'Calvinism.' Calvin’s thought rested on two core principles: the absolute sovereignty of God and the total depravity of human beings. Every human is completely sinful from the moment of birth. Calvin believed that the Bible was the only real source of truth about religion. He thought that people might not always understand God's teachings but we still had to follow them. Calvin emphasized the role God plays in the process of salvation. He theorized that

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