Interview with a Presbyterian Pastor from Australia

As I interviewed Pastor Don Kennedy, I was able to comprehend the Presbyterian approach to Jesus and how the Presbyterians view Jesus in this present time.

To the question, what was the atoning work of Jesus on the Cross, Pastor Don states that Jesus bridged the gap between us and God caused by sin and provided a way into the holy place of heaven by the shedding of his blood.

This is true.  I agree with Pastor Don that Jesus is the bridge that connects us to God.  Jesus is our mediator.  According to Pastor Brian Mulheran, Jesus’ death on the cross has laid the axe to the root of the tree of sin that was within our lives and in its place He has put His tree of righteousness and life.  Even though this has transpired, you and I still find ourselves committing the very sin we don’t want to commit.  We have this new nature within us that desires to do right, but often we do wrong.  The way we have lived in the flesh has been by aligning ourselves with our sin nature.  Once we have Jesus’ new nature placed within us, we can now realign our lives with it.

According to Pastor Mulheran, Jesus changes our sinful nature to realign us to divine nature.  Jesus is still the mediator but in a different view.

To the question, what does the baptism of Jesus signify?  Pastor Don Kennedy states that the baptism of Jesus is the beginning of the special ministry time of Jesus of 3-1/2 years.  Why was this baptism so significant?  Why was this baptism the commencement of Christ’s ministry?  I believe the holy spirit came down on Jesus with power and it was only then that Jesus went about with supernatural power from on high to do signs, wonders and miracles.  Jesus was no longer God/man;  I believe Jesus became complete God when He came up from that water.  According to Pastor Don Kennedy, he states that Adam was federal head of the rebel race of people.  We were identified with Adam and he identified with us.  Jesus died and we moved from being lost to being saved.  We move out from federal headship of Adam and come under federal headship of Jesus Christ.  Solidarity of Adam in Jesus Christ?  So therefore the baptism of Jesus was not just an example for us to follow, it was significant for God Himself as it was only after the baptism that the ministry of Jesus commenced, accompanied by miracles.  It was also prophetic in nature for the visible infilling of the Holy spirit who came on Jesus in the form of a dove.  In the second chapter of Acts, the Holy spirit came on the people in the form of tongues of fire.

To the question, what are the characteristics of Christ?  Pastor Don states that “He was begotten in the womb of Mary and therefore he received characteristics of God.  She bequeathed it to him”.  I disagree with this statement because I believe that these characteristics of God were bequeathed by God Himself and Mary was an instrument used and empowered by God for bringing Jesus Christ into the world.  According to J. Rodman Williams, “the truth is that the son of God had actually come in the flesh”.

When I asked Pastor Don the question, what is the authority of Jesus Christ he stated that Jesus is our prophet, Priest, King;  the head and Saviour of his Church, the heir of all things and judge of the world.  I agree with his answer but I also believe that there is more.  Jesus is omnipotent and all powerful;  Jesus is omniscient and all knowing;  and Jesus is omnipresent and his presence is everywhere.  This awesome Lord Jesus is the One who loves us, died for our sins and forgives us;  Jesus has the authority to forgive our sins.  According to Pastor Brian Mulheran, Jesus was preaching “change your thinking and believe in the good news of my salvation which brings the remission of sins”.

I, as a strong Charismatic (hopefully), believe the great authority of Jesus over evil spirits and the satanic realm which is very real and Jesus states in Ps. 91, “I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing shall by any means harm you”.  Praise the Lord.

In conclusion, I would like to state that Jesus, the word of God, Son of God, Light of the World, our Creator, came into this world with a unique purpose and Jesus fulfilled this purpose for our lives.

This interview has helped me to realize that whatever our views in theology, as long as we believe that Jesus is the Son of God, born of the virgin Mary, was crucified for our sins and rose again from the dead, we will be saved.  Not everyone is a Baptist, not everyone is a strong charismatic, not everyone is a Methodist, not everyone is an Anglican, but everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved as John 3:16 states “that God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life”.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Williams, J. Rodman, 1990, Renewal Theology, Michigan, Zondervan

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Martin Luther

Martin Luther is associated with the doctrine of justification by faith alone.  What did he mean by this?  What were the alternatives he rejected.

Martin Luther was born on 10 November 1483 in Eisleben, Germany.  Martin Luther was ordained as a priest in 1507.  In 1512, he earned a doctorate of theology degree.

According to Gary Thomas, “it was in response to teaching such as this that Luther performed perhaps the most influential religious act of the millennium when he nailed 95 theses on the Wittenberg church door on 31 October, 1517.  This date is often celebrated as the birthday of the protestant reformation”.  Luther married Catherine Von Bora, a former Cistercian nun, on 13 June, 1525.  Martin Luther believed that we were justified by God through faith alone, not by good works.  The holy spirit enlightened Martin Luther on the doctrine of justification.  “he put scripture above church tradition and stressed personal faith and experience.”

Luther died in 1546 in Eiselben.  According to Gary Thomas, “Protestantism was legally recognized nearly seven years later in the treaty of Passau in 1552”.

Martin Luther, Father of Protestantism.  Martin Luther was of medium build.  He was slender, not thin, and he had a clear voice.  Martin Luther seems to have had a happy disposition.  Martin Luther was vehement in his beliefs and he said “I am bound not only to assert, but to defend the truth with my blood and death.  I want to believe freely and be a slave to the authority of noone, whether council, university or pope.  I will confidently confess what appears to me to be true, whether it has been asserted by a catholic or a heretic, whether it has been approved or reproved by a council”.

Martin Luther was willing to give up his life for his beliefs.  The truth that Martin Luther so vehemently believed in was revealed to him by the holy spirit, who guided Martin Luther through the reformation which leaned towards all that was true and right and that truth was the infallible word of God.

R. C. Sproul asks “does saving faith require a trust in the righteousness of Christ alone as the grounds of our justification?  Or may a person have a different view of the gospel and still be a Christian?”

What is justification?  According to Merril C. Tenney , general editor of the Pictorial Bible Dictionary, p. 460, “justification is a reversal of God’s attitude toward the sinner because of his new relation in Christ;  justification is a declarative act by which the sinner is declared to be free from guilt and the consequences of sin’.

R. C. Sproul, p. 19, says “the logic followed by the reformers is this.

  1. Justification by faith alone is essential to the gospel.
  2. The gospel is essential to Christianity and to salvation.
  3. The gospel is essential to a church’s being a true church.
  4. To reject justification by faith alone is to reject the gospel and to fall as a church.’

According to Mike Butterworth, p. 14, “the verb translated ‘justify’ is derived from the noun sedeq – righteousness.  It is a causative form and we should expect it to mean ‘cause to be righteous, make righteous’.”

Steve Motyer, p. 45, states “the law itself had a demonstrably temporary nature, Paul believes.  So that the law was our custodian until Christ came, that we might be justified by faith.  (Gal. 3:24)”

I personally believe that man is justified, made righteous, by faith.  When a person accepts God ‘our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ enters his heart.  This person is made righteous and declared not guilty.  If we draw an eschatological diagram we see that justification plays a vital role in the eschatology of the believer.

James Atkinson asks “is justification by faith, then, the key to the bible?  Not in the sense of being a critical canon for judging its meaning and truth but it does give interpreters perspective, for it shows us that the God of the Bible is the God whose constant and proper work is justifying sinners by grace”.  Therefore justification by grace is the stability for our present and the hope for our future.

Now let us look into the controversial resolutions between the Roman Catholic and evangelical dialogues on justification.  One of their quotations was “we see justification by faith alone as an essential of the gospel on which radical disagreement continues, and we deny the adequacy of any version of the gospel that falls short at this point”.  The Roman Catholics and the evangelicals agree that justification is by grace.  The Roman Catholics, however, disagree that justification is by faith.  The Roman Catholics say, according to R. C. Sproul “Again Rome has always insisted that faith is a necessary condition for justification.  What they denied historically is that it is a sufficient condition.  The information was waged, not over the question of justification by faith, but over the issue of justification by faith alone.  It was sola of sola fide that was the central point of dispute”.

What did Martin Luther mean by justification and what was his doctrine?  R. C. Sproul says “For Martin Luther, justification by faith alone means that justification is by the righteousness of Christ alone, and his righteousness is appropriated by faith alone”.  R. C. Sproul goes on to say “the word alone was a solecism on which the entire reformation doctrine of justification was erected”.  Therefore, the pillar or the foundation of the doctrine of justification is that a person is justified by grace and “faith alone” in Jesus Christ.

According to Martin Luther, “if the article of justification is lost, all Christian doctrine is lost at the same time”.  According to John Calvin, “the doctrine of justification is the principal ground on which religion must be supported”.  J. I. Packer comments on Luther’s formula articulus stantis et cadentis ecclesiae:  “by this he meant when this doctrine is understood, believed and preached, or it is in the new testament times, the church stands in the grace of God and is alive, but where it is neglected, overlaid or denied, as it was in the medieval Catholicism, the church falls from grace and its life drains away leaving it in a state of darkness and death.  The reason why the reformation happened and protestant churches came into being was that Luther and his fellow reformers believed that Papal Rome had apostatized from the gospel”.

According to R. C. Sproul, the doctrinal causes for reformation were:

Formal Cause Material Cause
Latin name Sola Scriptura Sola fide
Translation Scripture alone Faith alone
Explanation Scripture is the sole authority in doctrinal matters. Justification is by grace alone through faith alone.

Luther stated “A Christian is righteous and holy by an alien or foreign holiness.  I call it this for the sake of instruction – that is, he is righteous by the mercy and grace of God”.

John Calvin says “It is entirely by the intervention of Christ’s righteousness that we obtain justification before God.  This is equivalent to saying that man is not just in himself, but that the righteousness of Christ is communicated to him by imputation, while he is strictly deserving of punishment.”

Therefore the doctrine of justification is that man is justified by Christ only by the grace of God and only by faith in God.  Man is therefore now not under law but under grace.

The Second Heluetic of 1556 is very explicit in affirming the same truth:  “But because we receive this justification not through works, but through faith in the mercy of God and in Christ, we therefore teach and believe with the apostle that sinful man is justified by faith alone in Christ not by the law or any works”.

Therefore, justification can be attained by man through faith alone and not by works due to the immeasurable grace of God.

What were the alternatives that Martin Luther rejected?

  1. Aristotle’s ethics at Whittenberg.  According to Iurtitia, the work of Aristotle is that it demands a reason.  In other words, a good person has good coming his way and the contrary.  Alister McGrath states “for Luther however, justification is totally contrary to reason in that God justifies sinners”.
  1. Via Moderna:  This is the second alternative that Martin Luther rejected.  Via Moderna is that God blesses us when we do good works.  For example, when an individual sins then goes on pilgrimage, he gets a reward from God, that is forgiveness of sins committed.  In many eastern religions, especially the concept of punishing oneself or going on a pilgrimage to please the deity, is the core of Hinduism.  Through Via Moderna, pactum came into being.  Alister E. Mcgrath defines pactum as “a reliable framework within which the mutual rights and obligations of God and man have their context”.  Luther says in his lectures on Romans “because of sin, not because of human weakness, but as the penalty of sin; but your spirit, that is your inner man, is alive because of justification”.  Martin Luther was greatly influenced by Saint Augustine and realized Saint Augustine believed or came to the knowledge of justification.
  1. The understanding of Bielian was equity and justice.  Bielan says “Equity and justice are usually distinguished in the Scriptures, in that equity is concerned with persons, while justice deals with causes”.  According to Alister E. Mcgrath, “Luther however uses the term in the sense of absence of partiality.  If God judges in equity, he considers only a man’s deeds, and not who the agent actually is”.

Through the enlightenment that Martin Luther received through the word of God, we are now protestants and we have the infallible word of God in our hands.  Martin Luther in his commentary on Galatians says:  “Do we work nothing for the obtaining of this righteousness?  I answer:  Nothing at all.  For the nature of this righteousness is to do nothing, to hear nothing, to know nothing whatsoever of the law or of the works but to know and to believe this only, that Christ is gone to the father”.

In conclusion, I would like to say that Martin Luther was a man chosen by God to change history in the Christian world.  It is because of Martin Luther and his devotion and study of the Word of God that we are now able to study the Word.  The foundation of Protestantism is God working through his word.  I would like to quote A Mighty Fortress is Our God written by Martin Luther during a very difficult time in his life.  It was written in 1529.

According to Henry Gariepy, “Mired in depression, Luther turned to two of his most effective antidotes – music and scripture.  The second verse says

“Did we in our own strength confide

Our striving would be losing

Were not the right man on our side

The man of God’s own choosing.

Dost ask who that may be?

Christ Jesus, it is He.

Lord Sabaoth His name,

From age to age the same.

And He must win the battle.”

Amen.  God won the battle.  Martin Luther, the great reformer, who brought about Protestantism was an awesome, powerful instrument used by God.  The doctrine of justification brings about the essence of Christianity.  It is by grace and not works.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

A Commentary on St Paul’s Epistle to the Galations based on lectures delivered by Martin Luther, University of Whittenberg in the year 131, and first published in 1535, James Clarke & Co. Ltd London

Gariepy, Henry, Songs in the Night, Eerdman’s Publishing Co., Cambridge UK, 1996.

Glosses & Scholia, Luther’s Works, Lectures on Romans, Concordia Publishing House, Saint Louis, Missouri, 1972

MacArthur, John, Sproul, R. C., Beeke, Joel, Gerstner, John, Armstrong, John, Justification by Faith Alone, Soli Deo Gloria Publications, 2000.

McGrath, Alister E., Luther’s Theology of The Cross, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford UK, 1985.

Packer, J. I., Butterworth, M., Motyer, S., Atkinson, J., Bray, G. L., Carey, G., Wheaton, D. H., Here We Stand, Hodder and Stoughton.

Sproul, R. C., Faith Alone, Baker Books America, 1995.

Tenney, Merril C., Pictorial Bible Dictionary, Michigan, Zondervan, 1963.

Princess

In the land of far far away, where waters divide nations, peoples  and cultures, a land which was renowned for precious stones, spices, art and architecture, where dancing beauties graced the temple courts.

In such a land called the sub- continent of India I was born. I was born into a privileged society and I was a class above the rest of my brothers and sisters  of India because firstly I belonged to the warrior caste secondly I was going to be a Maharani or Queen.images-1

I was a princess, my karma or life cycle could not have been better. I must have been exceptionally good in my former life as well. I was born with a golden spoon in my mouth my parents were relieved I was born after waiting many years for children.

I learnt to sing Indian classical music, play the sitar or the Indian harp. learnt mathematics, science, English and history the subject I was born into. My singing was very good and my teacher playing the harmonium, which is an instrument like an organ that one plays sitting on the ground, and teaching me the Carnatic music scales was very encouraging, I loved to sing, it let me feel the power of one’s soul merge with creation.

I also learnt Indian Classical dance called Bharatanatayam and with silver bells on my anklets beating to the rhythm of my dance teacher’s counting. She said my big brown eyes could tease and tantalise to the song of my dance telling stories with my expression and my eyes.

I had two maids of my own who chose the choicest silk  attire for me, they braided my hair with jewels and flowers and put  kajal or eye make, powdered my face and decked me with jewellery. I loved it all but I was lonely. I studied my ancient religious books called the Ramayana and Mahabharata.

I was bright and I wanted to learn more and more as I loved knowledge and asked my tutors many questions , especially my English tutor who was a teacher from London. Her name was Margaret, unusual name I thought till she told me it meant a Pearl and she was a rare pearl. She taught me to read and write English, she also taught me British history and above all religion. Everything about Britain fascinated me, intrigued me and filled my imagination with the most wondrous thoughts.

My father, the Maharaja, wanted me to marry once I turned eighteen but I wanted to study in London. I was born in 1901 and the British had colonised India. My father, the Maharaja, had good ties with the British hierarchy.

images-2The year I turned fifteen I felt my life was going to change, it was then He walked into my life, a young Captain called John Edward. He was twenty one years old, with dark brown hair, piercing blue eyes six feet tall, with a beard and moustache. He took my breath away the moment he walked through the Palace doors. He was going to be my geography tutor. He was an aristocrat and he began to teach me about the western world, how to read maps and told me about New York in America with its high buildings and the Grand Canyon. I was taking it all in, as he showed me the pictures it was like going through those breathtaking lands.

We started talking for hours. I asked him some of the most ridiculous questions like how do the people climb so many steps to go to the top or how did they build that high being a novice to modern technology. He just shook his head and laughed out loud He just said there are machines called cranes and lifts to take you right on top of the buildings.

We spent time studying in the study, the gardens and the courtyard. One day while we were walking I slipped and his hands held my waist I was sixteen now and we looked into each other’s eyes for a long time. I saw his ears go red and he whispered softly ‘I am in love with you my beautiful question asking princess’. My heart beat fast I lifted my hand and pushed the hair back from his brow and just when we were about to kiss my maid came hurriedly carrying a big tray saying she had brought us some Indian sweets and tea from the kitchen. We were a bit distracted, it was horrible timing, we were still a bit shy thinking of what could have happened. We somehow relaxed and enjoyed the Indian sweets and tea.

We spent more time together walking in the gardens holding hands, till one day he said he could not hold his feelings in any longer and he kissed me. It was passionate, then tender then sweet. He touched the flowers in my hair, my back, my waist and I melted in his arms.

It was the most incredible feeling I had ever felt, I was exhilarated and on December 15 1917 I had my first kiss among the rose gardens.images

We were inseparable, my father, the  Maharaja, took notice and told me to stop going out with a low caste white man. I told him John was aristocratic  and my father just said ” he eats meat especially that of the sacred cow”. “Can you imagine anyone eating the meat of a holy cow”.

I told my father I will marry John and no one else. John wanted to show me America, London and told me about Western fashions and hats with feathers that the women wore. He told about life in Oxford University and I decided I wanted to study psychology. So much against my parents wishes, I was engaged to Captain John Edward. I wore a bright red saree with all kinds of jewels in my ears and around my neck, in my hair, on my arms and feet and around my waist. I also had my hair up instead of a braid, with jasmine flowers and I sat on an elephant. John sat on the opposite elephant and they had the drums and the bands playing festive songs, it was an exhilarating night to remember.

John’s parents looked happy and John’s mother wore a blue saree that matched her blue eyes. My father, the Maharaja, relaxed when he found out John’s father was a  top business man in London and descended from aristocracy. It was then that I announced I wanted to study at Oxford after marriage.

My father said he could never stop me asking questions as a child and he pitied my tutors and that is why he hired tutors. John and I were married in two months. For the first time in my life I left India going by a ship called St. Elizabeth to London.

We had our honeymoon on the ship and when we reached the shores of London we were greeted by John’s two sisters Pricilla and Liza who welcomed me warmly. We got along very well, I was still in my saree and shawl and the carriage was waiting for us.

It was then John’s sisters and I decided I needed a make over. The next day they took me out to buy me some long dresses, some hats with feathers, some gloves and they even  got me my own personal hairdresser. I got my self some riding trousers and boots and started riding everyday on a beautiful mild spirited mare called Starlight. If only my father, the Maharaja, could see me in these clothes.

It was then time for university, I was excited I integrated well into the university culture and studied my favourite subject psychology. I was intrigued at how the  human brain functions and works and about different personality traits in people of different cultures.

We also took a holiday to New York, I was amazed at the tall buildings and lifts. We had a press meeting it was remarkable. At last I saw the places of my imagination and I turned all my energies in studying ball room dancing, holding parties and becoming a western woman of culture.

I never forgot who I was or where I came from but what spurred me on was the love of one British captain with blue eyes and dark hair who had shown me to dream and now I was living that dream. I love you, John Edward.