Jean’s Gospel: Stay In the Boat!
“And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’
Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matt 14:28-31)
It’s amusing that the disciple whose name means “rock” thought he could walk on water. What was Peter thinking? That would have been quite an achievement, if only…. Peter ate some crow that evening.
But, someone might protest: “Jesus said ‘come’. Surely Jesus would not give Peter a command unless He also gave Peter the ability to keep it.” Should we pin failure on Peter’s lack of faith? Or, did Jesus command the impossible from Peter? But commanding the impossible is unjust; isn’t it? Surely God is not unjust!
There’s one other factor to consider. Only the right material can stay above water. It must be lighter than the water to stay on top. Peter wasn’t the right stuff to walk on water. He wanted to be the right stuff, or maybe he thought he already was the right stuff, so Peter asked for the command – to show commitment to Jesus and maybe show the other disciples who was the greatest among them. Jesus went along with Peter, and in the process taught Peter and all of us a couple valuable lessons.
We are not the right stuff.
We are like a feather with a giant rock inseparably glued to it. The rock is our sin. Our human nature is thoroughly corrupted by sin. If we attempt to come to God, we only sink under the weight of the rock of our sin. The Bible is chock-full of commandments. God’s commandments show us his holy character and perfect will for us. If we could carry out God’s commandments, we could bring ourselves to God. But, we can’t cross the water that separates us from God. We sink because of our sin. We are not the right stuff.
But there’s good news in this lesson. God’s commandments also show us something else; they show us our sin and need of a savior. When we realize that we can’t cross the water and give up trying, then we cry out for the One who can. “Lord, save me.” Once we realize we are not the right stuff, Jesus calls us blessed: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3) Jesus wants us to stay in the boat where it’s safe and leave the water-walking to Him. He will come to us. He will still the wind and calm the sea.
Jesus is the right stuff.
Jesus came to save sinners. He loves to save sinners. When we feel the weight of our sin pulling us down and under, Jesus reaches down into the water, takes hold of us, and pulls us up to Him. We can’t cross the water, but Jesus can…and does…for us. He is the right stuff. In this life, we hunger and thirst for righteousness, and Jesus calls us blessed. Why? Because Jesus is our righteousness. (1 Cor 1:30) So, we can stay safely in the boat.
The Blessed Exchange.
Jesus eternally saves sinners through a blessed exchange effected through the incarnation, cross and preaching. In this exchange, Jesus takes our sin so that it cannot accuse us and gives us forgiveness so that we have His righteousness to boast in, not our own. Also called the righteousness of faith (Rom 4:13), this righteousness is outside us. We do not possess our own righteousness before God. Jesus is our righteousness. Therefore, we must stay safely in the boat. “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19b)
How do we stay in the boat? We stay in the boat by remaining in Christ and His Word. Where is the boat? His Church is our boat. Jesus will pilot us across the water to dry land. Through storms and tempests, winds and rain, He will keep us safe. So, fellow travelers, let’s rejoice in our Captain and enjoy the boat ride together.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a
Huh. I get a completely different meaning from this story.
The disciples see a ghostly figure walking through the storm on the water. St. Peter thinks, “Hey, I think that’s the LORD, not a ghost!” So he says, “Lord, if that is really you, let me walk to you on the water,” and the Lord says, “Come.” So Peter, who shows incredible faith in the abilities of the Lord, steps out of the boat. But he gets distracted by the fierceness of the storm and takes his eyes off Jesus and begins to sink. He cries what we all must cry, “Lord, save me!,” again demonstrating his faith in the saving power of the Lord.
Moral of story: Keep your eyes on Jesus. If you get distracted by the things of this world you will sink. But the solution is to cry out “Lord, save me!”
We may read the story differently, but I commend the moral of the story and the solution that you have shared. Thank you.
Xenia, I would clarify my #2 to say that it’s not “if” we get distracted, but “when”, and was it “incredible faith” or Peter’s foolishness? This wasn’t the last time Peter would over estimate his faith.
I agree with Xenia. I’ve never heard that the the moral of this story is to stay safely in the boat. The moral I’ve always heard, and believe is more accurate, is to keep your eyes on Jesus when He tells you to do something. Stop looking at the storm around you and just stay the course to Him.
Even though Peter sank, he is the only one besides Jesus that ever got to walk on water. What an amazing thing he got to experience. He didn’t do it perfectly, but he did it! He’s the only one that got to start is story with “When I was out walking on water……” All the guys in the boat said “I saw a guy walk on water one time….” I don’t think God intends us all to be sitting in the boat observing life. I think His intention is for us to be living life, even if we take a dunk once in a while.
He said..”I came that you could have life and have it more abundantly” after all.
(yes, I’m preaching to myself)
there shouldn’t be a “not” in my second sentence…
Yep, with Xenia and London. This passage is a great metaphor for the life of faith.
well, perhaps, what the Lord was doing was giving Peter the object lesson – if you jump out of the boat, try to stay above the waves and you fail… I’ll still be there to love and rescue you, “give Me your hand” – dunno
“It’s amusing that the disciple whose name means “rock” thought he could walk on water.” 🙂 … maybe that’s a God designed object lesson also, i.e., one can be solid and serve without grandstanding? perhaps… dunno
one other thought comes to (my) mind… yes, absolutely it is good to keep your eyes on the Master (Jesus)… like the ballerina’s still point as she spins…
but even better is to internalize, develop the mind of Christ – your own spiritual gyrocompass, if you will
yet, i realize that this is a tall order in today’s demanding and invasive world … it was easier to do out there in the field hoeing weeds, or in a boat tending nets, than it is today as we try to jump thru all the government’s hoops – we truly are living in “perilous times” IMV
Here’s a thought: I agree that we are safe if we stay in the boat with Jesus. I will even agree that boats can be a metaphor for the Church, the Ark of Salvation.
Except in this story, Jesus was not in the boat, He was outside of it and Peter wanted to be where Jesus was.
I fixed it…
Yes with Xenia, London, Josh.
And very characteristic of Peter – no wonder he was the leader of the Church in those earliest of years….
In the history of the Church there are Saints who walked on the water, St. Mary of Egypt being an example.
I’ve been doing a bit of walking on the water lately, mixed with intermittent drowning.
Lots of storms and lots of times when my faith has wavered.
Lots of times when I thought water walking was one of my skill sets until I started to sink.
The stories we read about repeatedly on the Phoenix Preacher Blog are the high profile pastors and para church leaders, who their many followers look up to as pinnacles of faith, step out of the boat. They forget their spiritual poverty and sin, and begin to think they can step out onto the water with their own righteousness. Bam! Splat! Every time. There’s a Proverb there somewhere.
Those are the high profile cases. But it can happen to any of us. There is forgiveness in the Lord, however. Although there often is collateral damage that, even if forgiven, leaves scares and consequences.
“Lots of times when I thought water walking was one of my skill sets until I started to sink.”
Michael, you’re not alone brother. 🙂
They forget their spiritual poverty and sin, and begin to think they can step out onto the water with their own righteousness.
I don’t think that applies to K.P Yohannan, Bob Coy, Mark Driscoll, C.J. Mahaney, Tom Randall or really anyone else…..
According to Matthew 4:29 – Jesus called Peter to Come out of the boat.
Excuse me – Matthew 14:29
nor do I think the men I cited sinned because they wanted to get closer to Jesus…but I’ll drop the point
To make it clear, it would have been disobedient for Peter to stay in the boat.
This one’s a little weird to me Jean. I appreciate the thoughts though.
Yes Jesus called Peter to come, after Peter requested the command in verse 28.
So Jesus was manipulated by Peter? Doesn’t make sense, friend.
You brought up specific names and each case is unique. Here’s my point. I don’t think in most of these cases the mean were frauds from the beginning. I think in many if not most of the cases, the men began sincere, but somewhere along the way when the money started coming in in big numbers, or the adulation grew big, or access to flattery from women became frequent, these men thought “I can handle this”. Self-sufficiency, pride, arrogance, a blind spot, etc. set in. If they forgot that they like us all are total sinners and rely entirely on the righteousness of Christ for our salvation. If they had remembered that, they might have took steps in advance to guard against those temptations. Even then, we all still sin.
“So Jesus was manipulated by Peter? Doesn’t make sense, friend.”.
Manipulation? No. A good lesson? Yes. Better to learn when Jesus was with him than to learn it later when Jesus wasn’t around.
Poor Peter. Hoaxed by the son of God himself.
Jesus is Lucy. Peter is Charlie Brown. Never saw that before Jean. Thanks.
“Jesus wants us to stay in the boat where it’s safe and leave the water-walking to Him. He will come to us. He will still the wind and calm the sea.”
Never heard that moral before. I see how it can be used by the Calvinist narrative so that was at least a good reach. I probably have a similar line of thinking but a very different outcome. The narrative of Matthew is progressing along the line that Matthew the evangelist is trying to present Jesus. He isn’t thinking of disciples and their need to make various surrenders to navigate life problems. He is however as Jean has pointed out thinking of the larger narrative of our redemption. However …
Jean’s work is an attempt to push these teachings into the evangelical story of helpless sinners rescued by God without any participation lest they steal his glory or be responsible for their own salvation. We all know that line of thinking and we have forced many stories of the Bible into this or that point of Calvinism or Reformation or Weslyan thinking.
I read it as salvation story as well but this way; Jesus has given them food to eat. He now gives them mastery of the seas. This looks like Matthew presenting Jesus as another Moses, indeed as the greater Prophet that was to come. He isn’t teaching us points of the ordo salutis he is simply lauding this Jesus as the ONE to whom all should look.
Thus we have a similar outcome to the story but I am not looking for a moral. I am hearing the evangel. “What manner of man is this?” the evangelists ask elsewhere. He commands food and it is provide. He masters the seas and they submit to him. He beckons us come and is able to save us when we fall. Matthew is an evangelist not a pastor with moral lessons or a dogmatists with points of theology to prove. He is telling Israel that their story has come true in the man Jesus.
But I love the discussion and the tone. I hope my offering does not violate it. It is not intended that way. We have all talked together too much to strive for upsmanship and I am trying to overcome my tendency.
“Jesus is Lucy. Peter is Charlie Brown. Never saw that before Jean. Thanks.”
That one went over my head.
Here’s how this works:
1. God gives us his commands.
2. We can’t keep them. There’s no bell curve with God. You either get an A or an F. All human beings get an F. God’s law is the power of sin. It kills.
3. Through hearing the Word of God, we accept the grade of F. Then, and only then, are we prepared to receive the forgiveness of sins provided in the Gospel.
Does that make sense?
There’s a school of thought that says that Jesus orchestrated events to prove that His followers would fail. Then there’s the school of thought that says Jesus presents opportunities for His followers to move mountains if they keep their eyes on Him.
That makes sense, but it is only your box. You’ve forced an unrelated story into that box.
In the peanuts cartoon, Lucy sets up a football for Charlie Brown to kick but pulls it away at the las second every time. It is the cruelest humor.
Well said, Xenia.
If I was teaching the Gospel of Matthew, I would follow your lead. I think you have a good grasp of the narrative and direction the evangelist is leading the readers. Your overall comment is totally fine.
My intent was to take this short exchange and apply it to our walk with Jesus. Admittedly, I didn’t use the greater narrative, but I think I was fair with the frailty of faith and relationship of Law and Gospel. However, as measured by the comments thus far, either my writing skills are highly suspect or I’ve fired a dud.
In Jean’s #28, Jesus is definitely Lucy.
We are all Charlie Brown.
I think I may need to put on my camel’s hair outfit and eat some honey. 🙂
well, i’ve been Lucy – i have a dear cousin and when we were kids on a teeter-totter, i jumped off and down he came – i promised not to do it again (i wasn’t saved yet) and he got back on, i did it again and then promised i wouldn’t next time – for me it had become a phenomena, i wasn’t thinking that he might really get hurt (maybe i was too young and dumb to think that he could) – i can’t tell you how many times we repeated this… but this Lucy definitely wasn’t thinking about the welfare of her cousin… so, for me, the Lucy and Charlie comparison falls pretty flat
just sayin… but i do love all the applications folk are finding here
Not saying that there is any actual connection, but Peter here actually looks a lot like the one who is being described in the parable of the sower as the seed that fell upon the rocky soil. Peter reacts to Jesus walking on the water with an immediate zealous faith, but once he’s out of the boat, and the wind comes be falls.
There is a degree to which Peter’s whole story before the resurrection reads this way.
You know, Jesus said we could move mountains if we had enough faith. The Apostles healed people and raised the dead. The early Christians had enough faith to allow themselves to be flayed alive and rather than deny the Lord. People claim these things don’t happen nowadays. People even claim that you can only hear from God through the pages of the Scriptures, disallowing visions and dreams.
Yet if you read the lives of the Saints (or just call them Christians, if the term Saint turns you off) you will see numerous examples of healings, resurrections, visions and feats of endurance. They never claimed they accomplished these deeds on their own; rather, like the Apostles they give all the credit to the Lord. Just last week Fr. G. told of a case where someone was miraculously healed of cancer.
If these things don’t happen in your world, maybe you should ask yourself why? Maybe it’s the philosophy that say men can’t do anything, that miracles have ceased, that prayer doesn’t accomplish much if anything, that the stories of the Saints couldn’t possibly be true, etc. etc.
If I couldn’t be Orthodox, I would join the Pentecostals, I think.
Xenia, that sounds more like the word faith movement that you would be joining.
Oh, how wrong you are, Jean.
And I would definitely join the Orthodox as well.
Keep writing Jean. Even if I dissent I applaud.
Just to clarify, I respect the martyrs. If Christ gives me a thorn or hands me a cross, I hope I will answer “amen.” But, I will not put my God the test, or credit myself with the faith or maturity to succeed. My righteousness and my fruit are never my own. In my weakness, He is strong.
Xenia, was #39 to me?
Jean, yes. What I am talking about is not Word of Faith teaching and I am rather surprised that you drew that out from my comment.
I am grateful for the opportunity to share the Gospel with this community. None of the comments offend me. I was in the exact same place as some of you just a few short years ago. I was heavy laden. I read in Hebrews about a “rest” and from Jesus about His yoke, but the only yoke I heard about in church was Moses’ yoke.
Maybe there’s a lurker out there who will find solace in this article. Just one makes it totally worthwhile. I trust in the Spirit’s work if I lay the Gospel out faithfully.
Xenia, that wasn’t me.:-)
Nice picture accompanying the story!
That was for you. 🙂
Golly, you are right! Sorry, Jean.
Oh, how wrong you are, MLD.
I agree with your Gospel…I’m just not sure this story was the best exposition of it.
Still, people talked all day about Scripture…and that’s a win.
Thank you Michael. Point taken.
I too love the pic.
I left the Pentecostals…after hearing thousands of false prophesies and “words of knowledge” that were nothing but nonsense.
The miracles of the Bible happened in front of witnesses in real time…
I believe in the supernatural…but not in most of what passes for it these days.
I think there is something to what Jean is saying. I don’t think Jesus was inviting Peter out on the water as a faith building exercise. Peter throughout Matthew is trying to tell Jesus how to do his job – and it is not different in this case. “Jesus, tell me to walk on the water and I will show you I can defy all odds and walk on water – (probably with the thought in his head “because I am Peter”)
And Jesus is toying with him – “Peter, you need to do what you are equipped for – not trying to be me.”
right and wrong stuff … hmmm
i didn’t think that the name Jesus gave to Simon – John 1:42 – could have referred to his sin nature – “upon THIS rock, I will build my Church?” … hmmm … well … maybe … thinking … uh … 🙂
partially agreeing with #53
There’s a good chance that Jesus was smiling when he called Peter to come on out/in, but i think the object lesson was a serious one and very reassuring and loving as i said at #7, so i won’t repeat myself – maybe i just did, tho
I can’t even begin to fathom how great a man Peter was. Even before Pentecost, much less afterwards.
Moving it off Jean’s story here, I reject with great ferocity those (many of whom in my CC tribe) who make “Peter jokes” when preaching.
Like others in the Bible, a couple of his mistakes are included for us and we can learn from them, but mocking the guy in sermons is just way out of line.
And I often say so in MY messages…the guy was a giant of the faith.
Steve, I agree with you – any man who several times will tell Jesus how to run his business IS a great man of faith.(and I am serious)
I think Thomas was a great man of faith, who tested his own faith by evidence.
It seems odd to me that we didn’t seem to get past the first 2 paragraphs – that we read, find a hot button and go to town, instead of reading the whole article to pick up some context that may shed light on the beginning.
We missed a great opportunity in the last 2 paragraphs to discuss the atonement. Oh, you mean the article wasn’t about Peter and a boat?
“Oh, you mean the article wasn’t about Peter and a boat?”
Come on MLD, you mean you don’t sing “Oceans” in your Lutheran church? It’s all about us and our super strong faith. :/
That was sarcasm. I can’t stand that song. Apologies to any who like it.
I would like to go on the record to confess that two of the main reasons I love to hang out on the PP is because (1) it is NOT an echo chamber, and (2) there are a lot of strong personalities who can articulate their views. Some of you may have no idea how difficult it is to find theological diversity in a community; most people would never want it to begin with. It’s not easy to make it work, especially as it works in some communities where the “Satan” and “heretic” cards are thrown down at the drop of a hat. Diversity keeps me introspective, self-reforming, repentant and growing.
Thank you for your perspective Jean. I’ve never heard this interpretation of this story.
@58 MLD in fairness I noted what the post was about but no one took up my discussion. I thought she tried to make the boat narrative about redemption and I commented upon it.
One thing sure this discussion has not been about exegesis of the text. It has been more about using the text as an analogy or an example.
In Matthew Chapter 5, Jesus said: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” That’s a straightforward command. “Must” and “perfect.” God’s holy!
Later, along comes a wealthy young man.
He asks Jesus: “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?”
Jesus answers: “keep the commandments.”
The wealthy young man responds: “All these I have kept.”
At this point, the young man could have given himself a high five, thanked Jesus for the affirmation, and walked away self-justified. What would that make Jesus? A deceiver?
Because the wealthy young man comes back one more time: “What do I still lack?”
Jesus answers: “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”
You can test Jesus all you want, but you’ll never justify yourself. The Law was never given by God with the expectation that it would justify. The Law is the power (think engine) of sin. It’s primary purpose is to point us to the Gospel. “For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”
Jesus wants to save us and give us eternal life. But life comes only through the Gospel.
I’m a dude, so feel free to take the gloves off if necessary. 🙂
i think only sailors can today fully appreciate the boat analogy – today, don’t we usually think of boats as having motors and we just sit in them and go? – putt-putt or zoom-zoom
back in Peter’s day your boat didn’t go anywhere without skill and effort on your part … so, while it makes a point, i do have a bit of a problem with the boat analogy being too descriptive of our life in Christ
however, “One ship sails east, another west by the very same wind that blows – It’s the set of the sail and not the gale that determines the way the ship goes” sooo – does Jesus set the sail?
BD: “One thing sure this discussion has not been about exegesis of the text. It has been more about using the text as an analogy or an example.” yes and amen and thank your lucky stars that i have constrained myself today… a myriad come to mind (including bottom feeders) lol
“back in Peter’s day your boat didn’t go anywhere without skill and effort on your part … so, while it makes a point, i do have a bit of a problem with the boat analogy being too descriptive of our life in Christ”
Em, perfect comment. Here’s what I need to add: In our relationship with Jesus, we are totally on the receiving end. We are in his rest (remember the Hebrews study).
But while God doesn’t need our work or help, our neighbors do. So, because our eternal security is guaranteed in Christ, we can give of ourselves now in this life as the living sacrifices described by Paul in Romans 12. But this is freedom to serve, not a yoke of servitude. Love isn’t love if it is by compulsion.
For the exegetes in the house, here’s some by the scholar R .T. France:
“But the focus of this story is on Peter, who displays a characteristic mixture of attitudes: he will not attempt the walk without Jesus’ direct instruction, but given that instruction he is unable to carry it through because he lacks the necessary faith.”
Who is each of us in the story?
“But while God doesn’t need our work or help, our neighbors do. So, because our eternal security is guaranteed in Christ, we can give of ourselves now in this life as the living sacrifices described by Paul in Romans 12. But this is freedom to serve, not a yoke of servitude. Love isn’t love if it is by compulsion.”
Small, mundane sacrifices. We’re free to do ordinary little things…. to live a a quiet life working with our hands…because we’re in Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.
“One thing sure this discussion has not been about exegesis of the text.”
Well, I’m not so sure. One of the first points of exegesis is to get the characters right. Is the story about Peter or is it about Jesus?
Is there anyway in hell that Jesus could have allowed Peter to stay on top of the water? Perhaps made 2 or 3 trips back and forth between the boat and Jesus…. perhaps a little moon walk? I don’t think so because it is not about Peter’s faith.
Peter doubted twice here, but he has kind of a braggadocio flair and still thinks he can be Jesus. He first doubted when Jesus identified himself. In the end, Peter like the other disciples in the boat earlier, ended up by calling out for salvation.
Now if Jesus is the actor in this account, he is there for us in our failings.Had Peter been successful then there would be no hope for me who doesn’t have that faith.
Jesus’ walking on the water was one more way that he conquered nature and in away was walking, trodding, stomping on Leviathan which is a representation of evil. Peter wanted to come out of the boat and be like Jesus.
I agree with the fundamentals of what MLD is saying in #72.
Jesus is the only one with power in this story. If not for Jesus’ power, Peter sinks every time.
I don’t think we have to assign impure motives to Peter on this one, though. We could assume one way or the other, but the text just doesn’t mention it.
“I don’t think we have to assign impure motives to Peter on this one, though.”
What other kind of motive is possible?
“What other kind of motive is possible?”
When his eyes were on Jesus, he did in fact walk on water.
Still, I don’t think we have to read into the text things that are not there.
Well, Peter did want to become the General Contractor of a condo project on the Mt Transfiguration – his effort to keep everyone on the mountain top.. Peter also advised Jesus not to carry out the plan of salvation and a couple of times we see Peter making great efforts to be Jesus’ advance or PR man.
A little know fact – James and John were also called out of a boat. Not at their own selfish request as Peter and they did so quite successfully – didn’t even get wet as they we like Jean mention in his top postion.
Why were James and John successful, and Peter faltered some?
The first line in the Lord’s Prayer is “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be your name.” It would take several paragraphs to unpack this single sentence, but one thing it confesses right off the bat is that God is God, and we are not. God is in heaven; He created the heavens and the earth; He has power over the laws of nature; We hallow (honor) Him as God and take our place as creatures in His good creation.
Peter asked for a sign, like the fellows that wanted more free bread: “Lord, if it is you, command me to come….” Then he wanted to be like God – doing Jesus stuff. Walking on water.
His desire for power over gravity was not a prayer for strength to help the needy, heal the sick, or defend the poor. It was self-indulgence. He demonstrated the temptation we all face, which we inherited from our first parents, the desire to be like God.
But Jesus gave in to Peter’s self-indulgence?
“21 And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them. 22 Immediately they left the boat and their father and followed him.”
James and John were successful because they were on dry land – where one is suppose to be when getting out of a boat.
But Jesus gave in to Peter’s self-indulgence?
He does that to me all the time – and then he must grab me by the hair and yank me out of the drink.
This is a totally weird angle that you guys are coming at this, to me. I’d love to keep asking questions to figure out what it is you are getting at, but don’t want to dominate or seem argumentative. So, I guess for now I’ll just say we are speaking two different languages and move on.
It’s not speaking different languages – it is looking at the gospels through different lenses.
See, in my estimation, it looks like taking a very simple easy text and running it through the Lutheran grinder until it doesn’t say what it clearly says anymore.
I know that is not your intention, and I don’t see us moving closer to understanding, so I’ll bow out.
Thanks for the discussion guys.
I’m no Bible scholar, but my reading of this passage has always been to look unto Jesus, to desire to be with Him, near Him, abide in Him. When I read what Xenia said in an early reply to this thread, I whole heartedly agreed!
I know in my life, there have been many times, I have said, “Lord if this is you…………”
The faith walk involves stepping out into the unknown, looking unto Jesus and finding His everlasting arms carrying you. I don’t want to stay in the boat unless Jesus is in that boat with me.
What the heck – I have 5 minutes before I need to go to work. Alert – I am not speaking to Josh in particular but just doing my MLD thing.
The 2 lenses are the theology of glory and the theology of the cross.
Some say if Peter had kept his eyes on Jesus that he would have successfully walked on the water (glory). There is no way that Jesus would allow this – Peter’s salvation must be based on Jesus alone (cross). Jesus would not allow Peter to have water walking success and then go out, preach and write books “I kept my eyes on Jesus and I am a good and obedient Christian – you can do the same” (glory)
The Rich Young man was the same – he kept trying to do it by obedience (glory) and Jesus would not allow for that. If the rich man had gone out and sold everything and given it to the poor as commanded (again glory) Jesus would have tightened it up and given him more to do until he realized that no amount of obedience (glory) gets you into the kingdom – only when you come seeking the mercy of God, will you be “in Christ”(cross)
Peter still in glory mode a couple of verses down, if not the next one does the same thing as the rich man – he thinks because he did something for God that he should have reward (glory) – “what about us who did give up everything?”
Reading the passage through the lens of the cross – you can come to no other conclusion that what Jean started with his article.
“The 2 lenses are the theology of glory and the theology of the cross.”
And there is the grinder. Doesn’t see to be what this passage is talking about at all.
If Peter had drowned you’d have a point, but he depended on Jesus and made it through safely. This is actually a triumph for Peter. I don’t know of any other guy who ever even took one step on water. If he is “trying to be God”, then he’s getting closer than anyone else.
I just don’t think any of that fits. IT fits in other places. Certainly more useful in the story of the rich young ruler, but just seems like a real stretch here.
Sorry to break my ten second silence there. Just looked like a good opportunity for follow-up. Now I’m really done.
Josh, you state you position very well;
1.) This is actually a triumph for Peter.
2.) …then he’s getting closer than anyone else.
This is almost definitional to the theology of glory – man can move the ball closer to God – I would send that in to Theopedia and have them use that as the definition.
I am not saying cross is better than glory (although I think it) – to each his own. I am just pointing out the 2 lenses and why we come to different conclusions.
“Josh, you state you position very well;
1.) This is actually a triumph for Peter.
2.) …then he’s getting closer than anyone else”
That was actually my stating what your lens would bring about if applied consistently. Not my view.
See the next sentence
# 3 – I just don’t think any of this fits.
Maybe I’m done, now? 🙂
In “quoting” me, why did you leave out my conditional statement in # 2, while attributing that position to me, and leave out the very next sentence, which stated that I didn’t think any of that fit?
Could you please try to be more honest in our discussion? I’ve been as cordial as possible.
I think Josh’s point is well taken.
Peter was able to make progress as long as he did the right thing.
Because Peter was able to succeed for a bit, then Jean’s analogy would make this story supportive of Orthodox or Roman soteriology.
Jesus rebuke of Peter at the end would be supportive of word faith theology, as well.
Josh, I did not leave anything out. I used … to let readers know the was something before.
You were leading other to believe that your quoted segment was my position, even though the conditional statement before it, and the independent statement directly after that both negated that. It seems dishonest.
Ok – you just have a difficult manner when agreeing with my position.
If you misunderstood me, you could say “I’m sorry, I misunderstood”.
I don’t even know if a I agree or disagree with your position, because you get so intent on misquoting and lying about me that I get sidetracked.
Peter saw his teacher out there and wanted to get in on the experience, Jesus used it for a teaching moment – that’s all – 2,000 years of deep theological speculations probably have our Lord smiling a bit … dunno 🙂
Are we not just seeing the authority of Jesus on display here? A kingdom reality at play? Jesus has authority over all of creation, we see Jesus exercising his authority in walking on these apparently stormy waters. Peter sees him, and no matter his motives, asks to join him. Jesus invites him to come, still in full possession of his authority over nature and the world. To some degree, Peter stepping out of the boat is a recognition of the kingdom authority of Jesus, he is trusting that he will not drown because of the authority of Christ. At the moment that he became afraid of the wind, he doubts the authority of Jesus.
MLD, you say quite a ways further up that Peter wanted to essentially be Jesus. I agree that there is no power in the faith itself, but if we are acting within the authority of Jesus, we are talking about all the power in all of creation. If rather than inviting him to walk on the water, he had invited him to sprout wings and fly to Cuba, is there anything that he could not do?
Peter pretty much starts sinking because he ceased being a display of the authority of Jesus.
DAllas – It’s not the last time we see Peter defying the laws of nature. You may be on to something.
Dallas, I think Jean made the point in the article (perhaps it was an early comment) that it was Peter, while he was doubting Jesus pretty much commanded Jesus to do what he wanted.
“If it is you …then do this”
As I said this morning – in Matt 4 we see the proper call of James & John from a boat and 100% success in their actions.
The language of the passage is, “Lord, if it is you, command me…” which I think fits pretty snugly into a narrative that has Peter recognizing the authority of Jesus. Peter isn’t so much giving commands as requesting them… and Jesus grants the request.
Josh, I’m not sure if it’s because I was raised Baptist or not, but I am completely tracking with everything you’ve said on this thread so far. This idea that somehow Jesus “tricks” Peter to get out of the boat so He can show His power, is completely foreign to me. I think your use of Lucy and Charlie Brown was perfect!
MLD, not that it’s authoritative at all, but if you do a Google Image search of James and John mending nets, most artists portray them no more than a few feet from shore. 🙂
Jesus didn’t “trick” Peter. He taught him in the context of Peter’s brash personality. The point is wherever we are, in the boat or out, keep our eyes on Jesus.
What a mess
I am not sure if that was a glorious mess or a cruciform mess
I have heard that Lutherans put so much emphasis on what Martin Luther did that they interpret everything in the Bible through that narrow lens. What I have heard I am now seeing as reality through two of them expressing their views. There is so much more to being a disciple then salvation by faith. This is where we start, but it is not the end. Trying to force a single narrative on every text does create some bizarre interpretations. I am actually starting to wonder if Lutheranism can become an idol that interferes with Jesus. We say that we can make an idol out of anything, but what about our theology? Is there a point where we put our faith in an interpretation and not actually in the character of God Himself? What if Luther was wrong about some things, like anti-Semitism?
“There is so much more to being a disciple then salvation by faith.”
So when we tell other sinners about the Good News of Jesus we should tell them that there’s a catch?
“Is there a point where we put our faith in an interpretation and not actually in the character of God Himself?”
(1) I don’t recall that either I nor MLD brought up Luther or Lutheranism in this entire thread.
(2) The point of the article is not where most of the discussion has focused. Most people seem more interested in whether I interpreted Peter’s mindset fairly given the context of the story. Michael and BD understood that I used the story as an illustration or analogy to make my actual point.
(3) My actual point has to do with the source of our at-one-ment with God, and where we frequently trip up. It’s fun to talk about discipleship and growth, etc., because that’s when people get to talk about themselves and what their doing for God. But, if we don’t get our relationship with God correct, then everything that follows is going to be off as well.
(4) I try to discuss these issues based on Scripture and not on broad generalizations against other people’s narratives, idols, etc. I don’t recall anyone actually using scripture to counter any of my exposition of the Gospel in the article. Maybe it was too allegorical for people to get their arms around. If that is the case, I can accept that.
(5) I let other people express their beliefs openly. People feel strongly about what they believe and may see others as narrow minded or forcing things. But those type of comments don’t get us anywhere or foster discussion and mutual edification. They just sit there as a conversation stopper.
” But, if we don’t get our relationship with God correct, ”
How do we do that?
Mr. J – how do you like that – you heard wrong.
I have not mentioned Martin Luther here – I rarely do.
I have not even said that my view on this matter is Lutheran – I did show that we do look through different lenses – do you deny that..
“Trying to force a single narrative on every text does create some bizarre interpretations.” I know, imagine trying to say that Jesus is the center of all scripture and then looking to see how that applies to a passage.
” What if Luther was wrong about some things, like anti-Semitism?” – this will show up your ignorance – Luther erred on different topics and a Lutheran is not required to follow Luther on anything other than what is in the Book of Concord of which he actually wrote only a small portion.
One last thing – you always come over here, try to discredit us who are Lutheran, but you never – and I repeat never offer a comment on the topic. It’s easy to sit in the peanut gallery and to never enter the arena.
#108. You are confusing conversion with ongoing discipleship. Jesus said that we are to make disciples, not converts. Conversion starts with salvation by faith in the person of Jesus, according to all that is written about him. Then discipleship continues as we learn the lessons of everything else that Jesus taught us. Is that not what Jesus says to do, “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you?” Salvation is a cornerstone to build on. But build we must. There is more to it then camping out, drinking milk on the cornerstone of faith as babies. I would note that the Church existed for well over a millennia before Luther came on the scene. Lutheranism or any other more modern branch did not exist in the early church. But, I think I am touching a sacred cow now…
Jean, I think I probably land with Michael up near the top, I agree with the point that you are making, but I don’t know that this story is really meant to illustrate that point.
Probably the reason I might have gotten a little off topic.
”’But, if we don’t get our relationship with God correct,’
How do we do that?”
Let me illustrate it by reference to Jacob’s Ladder. Jesus is the Ladder; the Person where heaven and earth are joined – literally in the incarnation of God and man.
But with the image of the ladder, Jesus came down and Jesus went up. We human beings, can’t go up the ladder. We can’t take even the first step up the ladder. We are unclean and if we ever somehow got up the ladder and bumped into the Father, we would die. Poof!
But the Gospel is about God who came down the ladder to us and for us and clothed himself in flesh so we wouldn’t die in the naked presence of God. In the economy of salvation, Jesus’ work is that of Redeemer. The whole Ordo Salutis (as BD is fond of bringing up) is provided for us by Jesus. We receive everything from Jesus. We contribute nothing to our salvation.
Our relationship runs astray when we think of redemption or justification as “training wheels” or “step 1” in a 2-step process.
Does this help?
Thanks Dallas. Point taken.
So let me see if I get the point of the original post.
Peter is unable to walk on water even at his very best he is doomed to fail
Jesus has done a work for us at Calvary that cannot achieve and should not try
Staying in the boat is simply being “in Christ”
The at-one-ment is out of our domaine
Stay in your station people, he has done the heavy lifting and it is enough
Dread-locked to Jesus
That “we” cannot achieve
It takes all the fun out of singing “Climbing Jacobs Ladder” around the campfire 😉
I have a series of clarifying questions that I don’t want to be perceived as challenges or argumentation. It’s just that we all have our own little code language that we use that means a certain thing to us, but may mean something else to someone else. I am only asking to help me understand. I *think* I agree with most of what you wrote in 114. Kkep that in mind as I ask the following:
1.) Jesus IS the ladder, but Jesus also came down and went up the ladder? May seem silly, but it is actually a point – If Jesus is the ladder, then he is the provision given by God between heaven and earth. If Jesus just goes up and down the ladder to rescue us…then what is the ladder?
2.) ” We contribute nothing to our salvation” – I just want to be clear that I agre with this completely.
3.) “Our relationship runs astray when we think of redemption or justification as “training wheels” or “step 1” in a 2-step process.” – This I don’t really understand. Could you maybe give an example of where you see this happening?
Above link – Climbing Jacob’s Ladder
“1.) Jesus IS the ladder, but Jesus also came down and went up the ladder? May seem silly, but it is actually a point – If Jesus is the ladder, then he is the provision given by God between heaven and earth. If Jesus just goes up and down the ladder to rescue us…then what is the ladder?”
It’s a two-fold metaphor. Just like in John 10, Jesus is both the “gate” and the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the Mediator between God and men. (1 Tim 2:5) He joined heaven and earth in his flesh. But, at the same time, He can sit at the right hand of the Father in heaven and be present in the bread and wine at Holy Communion at my church.
Jesus is both the sum of salvation and the means of salvation.
#112 – The Good News is that we are even forgiven for being crappy disciples, not loving our neighbors enough and not loving God enough. Forgiven for being bad Christians.
“Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.”
By the way, I am not trying to kill any conversation here. I am only expressing my personal opinion just the way that everyone else is. I am concerned about idolatry going on inside of Jesus’ Church. On the one hand, we all admit that we are idolaters, but when the question becomes more specific, like around a sacred cow, we circle the wagons instead of looking into the mirror. I see this general topic as being very important because it was the very religious people, even those who were most intimately acquainted with the Scriptures, that rejected Jesus. When we look in a mirror, if we see a Pharisee staring back at us, we have problem. More likely, though we cannot clearly see that, so God is merciful enough to send someone irritating enough to point it out to us…
I shave the face of a pharisee every morning.
Perhaps some of the readers are familiar with Timothy Keller:
“Religion operates on the principal of, “I obey – therefore I am accepted by God.” The basic operating principal of the gospel is: “I am accepted by God through the work of Jesus Christ – therefore I obey”…
A fundamental insight of Martin Luther was that “religion” is the default mode of the human heart. Your computer operates automatically in a default mode unless you deliberately tell it to do something else. So Luther says that even after you are converted by the gospel your heart will go back to operating on other principles unless you deliberately, repeatedly set it to gospel-mode.
We habitually and instinctively look to other things besides God and his grace as our justification, hope, significance, and security. We believe the gospel at one level, but at deeper levels we do not. Human approval, professional success, power and influence, family and clan identity—all of these things serve as our heart’s “functional trust” rather than what Christ has done, and as a result we continue to be driven to a great degree by fear, anger, and a lack of self-control. You cannot change such things through mere will-power, through learning Biblical principles and trying to carry them out. We can only change permanently as we take the gospel more deeply into our understanding and into our hearts…”
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Most Lutherans have read little of or about Luther other than that which is in their confessions.
Calvinists today have rarely read a paragraph of Calvin.
People who know next to nothing about either love to play the idolatry card.
Expect a sound smiting and mockery from me if it happens again.
Jean, do you really believe that Peter was trying to justify himself when he called out to Jesus during that storm? i never in my life read that into the story. I always read it as Peter who had been frightened, see His Lord, loves Him and wants to be near Him. Then the waves get his attention and he begins to fall…..but Jesus is there to catch Him.
A simple reading would say, keep your eyes on Jesus. And even if you do stumble and get caught up in the wave that surround us, He will be faithful…He will catch you and lead you safely home.
“I always read it as Peter who had been frightened, see His Lord, loves Him and wants to be near Him.”
That sounds like the Jesus as your boyfriend gospel that I hear on K-love Christian radio.
The disciples were frightened because they thought they saw a ghost. Jesus told them it was him. Peter, either didn’t believe Jesus or he wanted to walk on water. But, I don’t see how fear motivated him onto the water. It was either hubris or stupidity.
What did Peter think he and Jesus were going to do out on the water, hang out?
They had seen Jesus do wonders in their midst. It wouldn’t be a far step for Peter (impulsive as he was) to ask Jesus to bid him come to him on the waters. I have always seen it as Peter’s desire to be with Jesus (his LORD, not his boy crush).
With the lesson being that as we look unto Jesus, God does things in our lives….and even when we do become overcome by the waves of life, He is still there to bring us home.
As the others cowered in the boat, Peter
I’ve stepped out of the safety of the boat many times in my life….not to walk on water,, to try to do something miraculous….. but to follow Jesus.
He has always been there to hold me up….and He has always carried me, even in my doubting and weaknesses.
Blessings to you Jean. I’m quite content to agree to disagree on this.
opps, didn’t finish the first sentence. Doesn’t matter. I’m done.
If someone is a follower, they must have a leader. Leaders lead. The Good Shepherd discourse, along with Psalm 23, discusses what the sheep do. They listen to their Shepherd who leads them in and out and to pasture, etc.
Peter was not bid to follow Jesus. Jesus was coming to the disciples. All Peter had to do is be patient. But he wanted to come to Jesus.
I said the boat is the church. Are you saying you’ve left the church to follow Jesus?
I’m not anti-Peter. But I don’t think Scripture sets Peter up as a paragon of virtue. Look what happened after the resurrection, after Pentecost (talk about a mountain top experience). Peter gets embarrassed by Some of James guys and basically denies Christ for the again in front of the Gentile Christians, leading some astray. His life wasn’t in danger, but his reputation was on the line.
But this is the life of a Christian who is a sinner and a saint.
Sorry for the typos in my 137, I was referring to the Antioch incident reported in Galatians 2.
Jean, agreeing with Nonnie and her response to your #130 was far more constructive and gracious than mine would been
I believe His disciples saw Jesus as rabbi and were still in awe and confused as to what His role was – Peter simply wanted to join his teacher, take the next step in following Him – IMHO
It is sad to not think that there was love there – not just our Lord’s immutable love, but human love on both of their parts … IMHO … again
I think what gets missed is that several folks here want to take the passage and hold it apart from the remainder of this gospel as if Matthew is not making a larger point to just how difficult these disciples were to work with and how it took 3.5 yrs of daily rigorous training to get the disciples to a point —- well, since they all ran off at the crucifixion I guess Jesus actually got nowhere with them.
These guys were hardwired manly men who knew only one way — get your way (even if you must get mom involved)
We can make excuses for Peter, call him impulsive, call him stuborn — you pick the soft and easy term. Peter was a guy who every step of the way worked to get his way or get the advantage — even at the end denying the Lord. This is what Jesus had to work with and this is the point that Matthew drives home – especially in the middle chapters of his book.
As I said earlier today – no matter how selfish the Rich Young Man was, no matter how much he made his wealth an idol – he thought he should get something for what he did or was doing. Follow the story, one verse later, Peter has the same selfish desires for the exact same reason.
You cannot treat the water walking story as a standalone – it’s part of a mosaic.
As a side note – the Jesus is my boyfriend music – on Table Talk radio they play a game where they compare Christian music with regular radio love songs (about boy friends / girl friends). and try to tell the difference – in many case you cannot guess right.
It is really LOL funny – in a sad kind of way..
Sometimes a cigar is a cigar…
and sometimes a boat is a boat.
And unless the demographics have changed around here or people are afraid to challenge Jean for fear of his counter attack – yes, Jean, a whole lot of people around here have testified over the year that they left the church and continue to follow Jesus. A LOT of them….
,”a whole lot of people around here have testified over the year that they left the church and continue to follow Jesus. A LOT of them….”
Thank you for mentioning this, as it is an issue in the article. I am aware of this, and I am writing to these people, not exclusively, but definitely to them. It’s a dangerous position to the faith of a Christian to disassociate from the Body of Christ. Not dangerous in the sense of an unforgivable sin, but from the risk of falling away or falling into a counterfeit faith.
Jesus set up his church as a body of believers together to receive his grace and gifts, meeting together for worship, to hear His Word and break the bread. Who am I to question what the Lord has given us – His Church – to hold the manifold wisdom of God. If one denies the body is the head not far behind?
I know very little about cigars or boat, however as a teacher of the word, I have hunch (that’s greek for I am guessing) but I don’t think you can leave the church and still be a christian.
MLD, as far as keeping things in their context, if you use the Mark account (which nicely enough leaves out the Peter part, thanks Mark), isn’t this happening fairly soon after the twelve come back from being sent out by Jesus? So the whole lot of them have been out casting out demons, and healing people, things they have only seen Jesus do before. Is it surprising that one of them would want to be doing another of the miraculous things that Jesus was doing.
Also kind of throws their reaction in the feeding of the five thousand into relief as well though.
I will have to admit that it is hard to not try to attach motives here, though.
Dallas – you do bring up a good point (but probably not the one you intended) – what is the writing motive of each of the gospel writers? Why did Matthew include the Peter water walking and Mark left it out. I will offer what I presented in my #140 @9:04 last night (and I think it fits nicely)
I said in part “… as if Matthew is not making a larger point to just how difficult these disciples were to work with…” — this is a point that was not an agenda item for Mark.
And if you want to tie it to the supposed close proximity to the 12 being sent out, you need to answer (and this is a point that has been totally not discussed) is Jesus’ question “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’”
And I think by this question Jesus / Matthew is setting up the entire context. But I guess that will be for a later time.
When you look at the rebukes of Jesus to the disciples for their “little faith” it brings up the nuance between the “power of faith” and having faith in the power and authority of God. Jesus has revealed himself to the disciples in a very special way including, as they were sent out, delegating his authority to them. Part of me when Peter calls out to Jesus here, wants to think that Jesus might be thinking, “Peter is finally starting to get it”, but we are left with something like, “no, you really don’t”.
I guess when you say that part of the message is how difficult the disciples were, I probably would say how thick the disciples were. You can extend that to things like the disciples not getting the parables as well. It may be a distinction without a difference though.
This thread might be all over the place, but it’s been a good place to get and work things out.
What does “leaving the church” mean?
There are those who believe in the idea of the invisible church, that is to say, everyone who has called upon the Name of the Lord is saved and is part of this “invisible church” whether they actually attend church or not. Those people do not believe they have left “the church.” Often they imagine themselves to be the most vibrant members of “the church” because no longer associate with hypocrites.
These folks despise what they derisively call “the institutional church.”
Others believe that the Church is the body of Christ ordained by God to shepherd His people and to make converts and disciples. He has given the Church bishops, pastors, and deacons. If you leave this Church, you have removed yourself from the Body of Christ.
One has to look to motive. If you are sick or elderly and cannot attend, or live too far away from an acceptable Church, or have no transportation, but your heart is with the congregation, you have not left the Church. Such a person should keep in contact with their Church as best they can and consider themselves part of the group.
If one gets disgusted with a particular congregation and washes their hands of church in general, they are on dangerous ground. If one gets disgusted but finds another group to join…. that’s understandable, I think, but sometimes people get disgusted too easily.
So motive. Logistical problem? I think God understands. Rebellion? You are on thin ice. You are are thin ice because you have turned your back on your brothers and sisters in Christ, you are not receiving the live-giving Eucharist, you are not under the authority of anyone except your own self with your own darkened mind.
I have numerous family members who got ticked off at something that happened at their particular church, left, and never bothered to join up with another church. They are in a pitiful condition, spiritually. Atheists, agnostics and spiritual louts, the bunch of them.
That’s my opinion from and Orthodox point of view.
I would add that listening to a radio or TV preacher does not make you a member of his church. You are a spectator, nothing more.
Xenia, I think that you have a higher view of human authority than I do, which will color both of our perceptions. I am not in a “church” or under the authority of elders per se, but I do gather regularly with brothers and sisters who hold each other under the authority of God and his word. It honestly doesn’t feel any different to me than the best expressions I had seen from within the church, but just without the window dressings.
We are likely not going to agree on this, but as someone who looks at least somewhat like the person you are sketching, I felt the need to speak up.
Hi Dallas, that was a very gracious response. And you are right, we are not going to agree on this.
Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
By the way, I don’t think this has much if anything to do with the story of the Lord walking on the water.
It’s funny, one of the people who I give rule of my life over, and I submit to in the way described wrote the following on that same passage.
It’s long, kind of technical, but worth reading.
To tie it back in, I have not been in a church in a very long time that didn’t have a significant hole in the boat. You would have to walk on water whether you were in the boat or outside of it. 😉
Also I hope I don’t come off as hostile at all. We might not agree on this but yours is almost always one of the perspectives I appreciate hearing.
Dallas, you are not at all hostile. I’ll read the article.
Dalla – that may very well be your role in the church – to plug the holes in the boat. Instead (and I say this with much love), instead you jumped overboard and left the remainder of the church to sink and drown. 😉
I do agree with Xenia on the church and I am sure that we have similar view on the office of the ministry.
I haven’t been particularly passive in looking for other options, I have darkened the door of many a church in this area, and have even waded into fellowship of a few (mixing metaphors), but I have found that the holes in the boat are generally locked behind several heavily guarded doors.The holes in the boat are more often than not also sacred calves.
I have found that being in a community of outsiders is preferable to being an outsider among the community.
I do agree with Xenia on the church and I am sure that we have similar view on the office of the ministry.
As do I with MLD and Xenia – my earlier comment was pointing out something I have gotten into trouble for around here in the past.
I agree that terms like Body of Christ, Kingdom of God and so forth have a universal aspect to them of all the saved. And Church (capital C) does as well.
But the word does speak to an assembly of people…and so I sit where Xenia sits…it is dangerous ground to insist I want Jesus (and I have Him) but I want nothing to do with His people because they are so terrible…(not that anyone in this thread has specifically said that of course)
I too appreciate input from everyone, including Xenia and Dallas. Just to clarify my concern, in order to benefit from God’s grace (his favor towards us for Christ’s sake), we need to actually receive it. Without receiving God’s grace regularly, our faith will wither, like a plant which ceases to receive life giving water.
Christ has instituted the means of grace by which he delivers his grace to us and into us. The church is Christ’s grace dispensary. His Word is proclaimed in teaching, hymnody, corporate prayers and absolution; and His body and blood are served. Christ does all the work. We Christians drop off our sins and receive His gifts in return.
JESUS found his chosen 12 difficult to work with? you must be kidding
and, IMO, there’s a huge difference between leaving the church and leaving THE Church – is it dangerous to attempt the walk the walk and not be in a fellowship of good Believers encouraging and teaching Eternal truths? absolutely yes…
course, based on the belief that one can lose one’s salvation – if one could do that – they’d better jump in the Lutheran tent, i guess – no personal harm in doing so
now i’s go back and finish reading the thread … silently
I want (and have) Jesus, and I desire to be around his people because, by and large, they are not terrible, but there is a lot more to the church as it exists visibly in this world than the gathering together of his people. I have Jesus and fellowship with other believers who both invest in each other and hold sway in each other’s lives. Like I said further up, I don’t see the difference… other than if for some reason all Michigan-born people were called home, I would be up a creek… there are a strangely large number of people from Michigan in my life. 🙂
Here’s an example from my own kids. When they were old enough to get a job, three of them got jobs (against my advice) that required them to work Sunday mornings. They fell out of the habit of attending church and eventually, church seemed irrelevant to them. Feeling somewhat guilty about this (I suspect), they began to speak about churches in a negative way and eventually, became quite negative about Christianity. These kids have completely fallen away from the faith.
The other two were on the worship team so felt obligated to get jobs that didn’t require them to work on Sundays. These two are still Christians to this day and still attend church every Sunday. They married Christian girls and had church weddings. So even if their motives for attending church Sunday mornings were self-serving (playing the electric guitar before a crowd), it did keep them in church and now their motives are better.
They have had to work through problems with people at their churches and this has helped them mature as Christians.
“course, based on the belief that one can lose one’s salvation – if one could do that – they’d better jump in the Lutheran tent, i guess – no personal harm in doing so”
No one loses their salvation. But some decide there are more important things.
Everything to its own situation really. I am usually a jump in with two feet kind of person. I didn’t grow up in the church, so it wasn’t an automatic reaction to go to Sunday worship regularly. When I started going it was just as natural for me to attend mid-week Bible studies as it was a Sunday service, as it was some ministry outreach we were holding or a work day. If all being part of the church was to me was showing up on Sundays I might be in trouble now… but I also probably wouldn’t have cared enough to stop.
I have Jesus and fellowship with other believers who both invest in each other and hold sway in each other’s lives
My last post did not say anything negatively about the home church. I assume that is what is indicated here.
However, I would caution anyone reading that might be kidding themselves because they know some Christian friends out there that they are “in fellowship”
But sure, the regular gathering together to pray, read the word, worship is what it is all about. Doesn’t matter the location of the gathering. (Most CCs began as home fellowships anyway)
Church attendance is a spiritual discipline. Not entirely necessary for salvation, but certainly vital to the growing Christian life.
That being said, some congregations are just so toxic you have to get out and take a break.
There is an interesting principle in AA – when a new guy/gal shows up and sticks for a couple weeks, that person is given a simple responsibility – like making the coffee. Something that MAKES him come to the group regularly because by coming back he is more likely to stay sober.
Not saying they are given the keys to the meeting place, but some relatively small task (that could still be done by someone else if the person does flake out) that motivates attendance.
The easiest Sunday to miss church is the Sunday immediately following the Sunday you just missed….and it gets even easier the 3rd week and so forth…
#163-one has to consider that the three who’ve walked away did so because they wanted to walk away from church to start with or conversely, from my view, God is pursuing His wandering sheep and, if that is the case, they will be found.
keep praying … unnecessary urging, i know 🙂
FWIW – (what follows is NOT aimed at Xenia)
many long, long years ago – when i was experiencing the indescribable miracle of bringing a new soul into the world – i felt the also indescribable seriousness of the eternal destiny of my precious newborns, i.e., was this little one facing an eternity without God?
yes, i know the “whole household shall be saved” argument…
the question that God put to me (that voice you hear without words): “If this child, after having been instructed in who I AM and My love and sacrifice to bring redemption, rejects Me, do you want Me to overlook his ugly conclusion and let him into the Kingdom because YOU love him?”
it was hard to face that question, but isn’t the answer clear? if we love anyone above our love for our God, it’s time for a Faith tune-up at the very least… yes, we will grieve the lost soul of our child and it will mirror our heavenly Father’s grief
and we will/must pray for our children everyday that we live because only God knows for certain, who’s gone over the side and is out there in the water, hanging onto the gunnel of that boat, eh?
I’m curious about how many services one has to miss before they become “unchristian”. 3 in a row? If you go back to a service, does the count down start again?
London if you miss more than 4 Sundays you better get to at least 2 small group gatherings and 2 prayer meetings each of the next 2 weeks or you’re out.
John Wesley is smiling at you from the grave. 🙂
I figured someone must know the rules since so many seemed sure that not attending church services made one lose their christian card.
Sorry. Not a very edifying comment. Yes, we are fed the Word and Sacraments at church. At the same time, we go through seasons where church is the last place on earth we want to be. Sometimes these seasons last years or more. But Jesus never lets go, whether we step back into church or not. I think there might be some who have great churchmanship, never miss a prayer meeting and yet miss the whole point. Just my pondering. Carry on….
London, no one says that missing church makes you lose anything – in fact none of us advocate that you can lose your salvation – as in if you don’t do it right it will be taken from you.
However, if you don’t go, in fact if you are of an attitude that you refuse to go, you will probably give it up.
How long would it take if I stopped going home, that I would eventually lose interest in my wife and finally end up by giving here up … even if unconsciously, pretty soon I just forget and don’t care?
I think one agreement that Xenia, MLD, and I might share (based on past discussions) – is that showing up to the church you are a member of…the church you know is there for you in your time of need…is also an act of service to others. Not just what YOU get out of IT each week. Your presence alone is an encouragement to your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
Most of us live our lives with that mindset. We make appearances to events to show support for friends. We go to a friend’s kid’s play or ballgame. We try and show by our mere presence an appreciation for the people who put in all the time and effort to host the school function or block party. A friend spends countless hours organizing a fundraiser for a good cause, and we make sure to be there – even if the cause is not heavy on our heart but we do it for our friend.
Somehow though…when it comes to following and serving Christ by serving others…we could often care less if the person we sit next to each week at church hasn’t seen us for a month (and no doubt is wondering why, maybe even praying you are alright). If the preacher who spent hours preparing his message has anyone to deliver it to. If the people who get there early to set up the facility are encouraged by a nice turnout. If the bucks we would place into the offering plate to help pay the bills are needed or not. If the choir or worship team is singing to an empty house.
After all…we’re not going to hell for missing…..
Thus..my AA example of where a tangible act of service is show the newly sober until he/she comes to learn how important his/her presence in the group happens to be each week (even if he isn’t making the coffee)
Steve, very good.
Steve, you’re making me think I should go to an AA meeting. 🙂
I’ll be the contrarian.
Though I love the ideal in Xenia and MLD’s statements, I don’t think most evangelical churches with an autocratic government and a low view of the sacraments are churches in the sense that they speak of.
Most are attending a religious lecture before the ball game.
If I wasn’t pastoring a church, I’d sleep in and go right to the ball game in this town.
Michael – I will be the contrarian to your position. There are other churches to go to. Sleeping in on Sunday should not be the option.
This is why I made the distinction earlier between not going to church and refusing to go to church.
My wife works with three chaplains that used to pastor churches, my understanding is that none of them currently attend Sunday services. Pretty sure you aren’t alone Michael.
In this area, there’s either Roman Catholic or a multitude of CC’s and spinoffs.
I’m not going to either.
Hoping that a conservative Anglican or Reformed church sets up shop someday…
Don’t forget Archangel Gabriel’s in Phoenix, Oregon!
i am old enough to remember Sunday evening services and Wed. prayer meetings – they were sweet times with faithful souls – Sunday mornings always had a kinda, sorta, hustle about them …. dunno …?…
no one has mentioned the link to the burning of the Orthodox church over on Linkathon… if it hadn’t been for the link, i never would have heard of it… some ominous things were written that give one pause – what’s going on? if anything
Em, it is one one of four Orthodox churches burned down after the Easter service all over the world, including Siberia and Australia. I’ve read numerous theories, here are some of them:
1. Extremist Roman Catholics are angry with the Orthodox for protesting the canonization of a Serb who allegedly had Nazi sympathies.
2. Muslim extremists.
3. Thieves who want to steal the hefty Easter offerings.
4. Extremist homosexuals who hate the Orthodox church’s inflexible stand on this issue.
Who knows. The one that seems the most likely is to blame it on the Muslims, our all-purpose scapegoat these days.
thank you, Xenia – it should give us all pause, no matter what the cause – i don’t see how it could be just an amazing coincidence – but i don’t know what to think
as you’d say, if i may quote: God have mercy