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A Secure Attachment With Jesus: The Gospel of Mark
Cincinnati Men's Gathering
Monday
Dec132010

Accepting Miracles

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, ‘Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

“Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. ‘Don’t be afraid, Mary,’ the angel told her, ‘for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!’

“Mary asked the angel, ‘But how can this happen? I am a virgin.’ The angel replied, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God. What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she’s now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God.’

“Mary responded, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.’ And then the angel left her.” (Luke 1:26-38, NLT)

 

“In those earliest times all in that Christian world acknowledged that the Lord Jesus Christ was God, and to Him was given all power in heaven and on earth, and power over all flesh, as His actual words declare (Matt. 28:18; John 17:2). They believed in Him in accordance with His command from God the Father (John 3:15, 16, 36; 6:40; 11:25, 26). This same fact is also evident from the summoning of all the bishops by the emperor Constantine the Great, in order that Arius and his followers, who denied the divinity of the Lord the Savior born of the Virgin Mary, should be convicted and condemned on the authority of scripture. This they succeeded in doing, but in avoiding the wolf they ran into the lion; or, as the proverb has it, the man who seeks to avoid Charybdis runs into Scylla. They devised the fiction of a Son of God from eternity, who came down and took upon Himself a human form, believing that they were thus claiming back and restoring His divinity to the Lord. But they did not know that God the Creator of the universe Himself came down in order to become the Redeemer, and thus a second Creator, as is clearly stated in the Old Testament (Isa. 25:9; 40:3, 5, 10, 11; 43:14; 44:6, 24; 47:4; 48:17; 49:7, 26; 60:16; 63:16; Jer. 50:34; Hosea 13:4; Ps. 19:14; add to these John 1:15).” (True Christian Religion §637)

 

Some respected Christian thinkers have recently taken a hard look at the foundation of their faith. They have decided that it is irrational to base one’s religion on miracles. Miracles are unexplainable. Miracles can be faked. Miracles can be interpreted many different ways. The theologians assert that they want to base their Christianity on the much firmer foundation of precisely what Christ taught. They want solid, logical and rational principles upon which to live what is to be called a Christian life. Thus, they doubt the virgin birth, the bodily resurrection and all the rest.

The Writings for the New Church assert unequivocally that Jesus Christ was born of the virgin Mary, that He performed all the miracles reported in the New Testament, and that the tomb was empty for He had glorified His body, making it divine.

The new ideas these modern theologians are coming up with are actually a reaction to the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. This doctrine teaches that the assertion of a very particular belief saves you, quite apart from what you love and what you do. Therefore, if you simply believe in the miracles, including the virgin birth and the resurrection, you can claim to be a Christian and be saved, regardless of what you know about Christ’s teachings and regardless of what you do.

Certainly, not many Christians would assert this belief so baldly. It is generally asserted that faith must produce the fruits of good works if it is to be a real faith. Also, most Christians realize that knowing and doing Christ’s teachings are necessary to be called a Christian.

But then some theologians thought long and hard about the specific doctrines of Christianity. They want consistency, and take things to their logical conclusions. They have realized that when people claim to be Christians based only on the miracles He did, their belief is pointless for it has no basis in rational thought about what is believed. They do not say it directly, but they have concluded that faith alone does not make one a Christian, and does not result in salvation. They have unknowingly revealed the fatal flaw in the doctrine of faith alone: it makes no sense.

The New Church teaches that true Christianity is based not simply on one’s belief in the virgin birth and the rest of the miracles. Rather, Christianity is based on a belief in, and consequent obedience to, Jesus Christ Who is the Divine Human, the one God of heaven and earth. A Christian knows that for Jesus Christ to be God there had to be the virgin birth, and the resurrection, and the rest. Without those miracles actually happening, He is not God.

The New Church has teachings that explain how humans must choose to be saved, and yet without taking away from the omnipotent grace of God. The Writings for the New Church explain how miracles happen, to the degree that finite minds can understand acts of God. The New Church offers a clear, sensible understanding of the whole Christmas story. Why? So that we each can discover how much we love our Redeemer and Savior, our God and King, Jesus Christ; and so that we will discover how much our God loves us.