We are almost at the end of our Romans series; next week is the final week, so this week we are going to hear some of chapters 7 and 8. Before we hear the text this morning, I want to say a couple things about definitions. Remember how I have told you in the past that every translation of the Bible does interpretation simply through the words the translators choose? That's VERY true in this passage. Now sometimes what we need is some good interpretive translation.
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Guest Preacher: Rev. Dave Long-Higgins, Transitional Conference Minister for the United Church of Christ in Ohio, West Virginia and Northern Kentucky
This morning we are going to hear two separate passages of Scripture, because I want you to hear how they tie together. The first is the Pentecost story, which many of you have probably heard before. And the second is the same text that we heard last week, selections from Romans 5. Pentecost is the birthday of the church. It's the moment when the followers of Jesus were filled with the same boldness and inclusiveness that Jesus embodied during his life on earth. Now this morning I'm not going to preach about speaking in tongues although I think that is central to the Pentecost experience.
This morning as we continue our study in the book of Romans, we are going to read some very familiar phrases from chapter 5. In fact, a lot of Romans is familiar if you spent any time in church. It is one of the most loved, most used, and I think, most mis-used books in the whole Bible. When we read it, we are often not just reading the words on the page, but what everyone else has ever told us about these words. One of the hardest things for us to do is to come to something familiar with fresh eyes and open minds, but that's what I'd like for us to try to do this morning.
This morning we are continuing in our six week series on the book of Romans. Last week we look at parts of chapter 1 and 2 in which we learn that nobody is righteous. I told you that one way I think we can understand the beginning of Romans is that Paul is trying to explain the theology that goes with the experience of being converted. The basic Christian experience of having a transcendent experience of the Risen Jesus, whatever that is for each of us, in that experience we realize that we are not righteous and we are totally righteous at the same time.
This morning we begin a six-week series on the book of Romans. Perhaps no book in the whole Bible has been as influential and as controversial as Romans. And the same goes for its author, the Apostle Paul. Most people either love him or hate him. Guess what? As always, black and white answers are too easy. First of all the apostle Paul was a human being just like all of us. He is not just one thing. He has strengths and he has flaws. His theology, especially his expectation of Christ's return, evolves throughout his writing.
The season of Easter lasts for 50 days, which means we have six Sundays between Easter and Pentecost. But our New Testament does not really have six Sundays worth of stories about what happens between Easter and Pentecost, and so we are fast-forwarding a bit. This morning's story also comes from the book of Acts, after the Holy Spirit has come upon the early church and the message is starting to spread.
I have decided that the book of Acts might be my favorite thing to preach. The Old Testament is just weird. With the gospels there's a lot of pressure to explain everything Jesus said and people always want to argue about whether it's true. When you preach the letters in the rest of the New Testament you have to do a lot of theology. But the book of Acts? It's a lot of crazy stories that just are what they are and we get to decide what to make of them. And this morning's story is in my opinion the best one in the whole book of Acts.
Guest Preacher Rev. Beth Long-Higgins on the Great Commission
This morning's reading from the scripture needs very little introduction. You know what you came to hear. Allow me simply to remind you of the themes of Matthew: righteousness and discipleship. Following Jesus is not about what we think but about how we live. Resurrection is the final piece of that. The author of the book of Matthew wants his audience to really get how important this moment is so he packs in all the drama he can: an earthquake, and an angel who rolls away a stone, big burly military men fainting in fear.
We are almost at the end of our Romans series; next week is the final week, so this week we are going to hear some of chapters 7 and 8. Before we hear the text this morning, I want to say a couple things about definitions. Remember how I have told you in the past that every translation of the Bible does interpretation simply through the words the translators choose? That's VERY true in this passage. Now sometimes what we need is some good interpretive translation. A word-for-word translation doesn't always give us the clearest meaning because there's a big difference between ancient Greek and modern English. But since it's easy to get confused, here are a few definitions that I would like you to keep in mind as you listen.