THE LOVE OF GOD DEMONSTRATED

Romans 5:1-11

 Jesus summarized the Law in the loving relational term: love God, your neighbors, and yourself. Love is a fundamental religious concept. Thus, John Caputo defines religion as “the love of God.” Since God is love, a religious person is the one who lives in love. For him, “the opposite of religious person is a loveless person,” not the secular person.

In Romans 5:1-11, we see the interplay among faith, hope, and love. The similar sequence appears 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” In the following, let us focus on the great love of God.

The Love of God has been poured out into our hearts (vv.5)

 The love of God (KJV) has been translated as “God’s love” (ESV) and “his love” (NIV). KJV’s translation observes the genitive construction of the phrase. The love of God can denote “God’s love” and human “love for God.”  The act of “pouring” is an intentional action as oppose to an accidental act of spilling. Pouring signals the beneficial purpose. The one who pours something out has the recipient’s interest in mind. Such is how God pours out his love for us. When he pours out his love in our hearts, he has our interests and benefits in mind. Because this outpouring of God’s love, we can overflow with our love for God.  As just love begets love, God’s love for us gives birth to our love for God.

 God shows his love for us at the right time (vv.6-10)

Romans 5:6-10 teaches that Jesus died for people who are being “powerless,” “ungodly,” “sinners” and “God’s enemies.”  Powerlessness denotes being unable to do things for ourselves. The literal meaning of the word include “bodily sick,”  “weak,” and “unimpressive.” Ungodly does not mean an atheist, but “impious.” It has the idea of being “wicked” as in “God justifies the wicked” (NIV, Romans 4:5). Sinners denote persons who have been shown wrong or who have been guilty of wrong doing. These persons usually devote themselves to sin and deliberately live in opposition to divine will. God’s enemies entails that there is hostility between these people and God. They hate and oppose God with hostility. Amazingly, God still sees the sickly, ungodly, sinners and enemies as human beings worthy of his love. It is on behalf of such people as these that Jesus died on the cross.

God’s agape-love is timely and costly. God’s love costs him the earthly life of his son. Jesus, the obedient son of God, died in behalf of human beings, the disobedient sons and daughters of the Creator. Divine love does not exclude anyone; however, there were, are, and will always be people who run away from the love of God. It is not that God does not love them, but that they neither love nor want to love God.

God has demonstrated his love for us. Let us response to the inclusive, timely, and costly love of God.


Against the stolen body theory

By Pastor Azel

We should read Matthew 27:62-66 and 28:11-15 together as a single narrative. The first passage gives the background for the stolen-corpse theory whereas the second presents an explanation against the theory that the disciples stole the remains of Jesus.

The Guards at the Tomb (Matthew 27:62-66)

 Who are the guards? It has been debated whether the guards are temple police or Roman soldiers. Some say the guards reported to the priests “everything that has happen” at the tomb because they were temple police. Other say the guards are Roman soldiers because they were identified as soldiers (28:15) who answerable to Pilate, the governor at the time. Jewish leaders and Roman rulers work together. The religious and political authorities attempted to eradicate the Jesus movement once and for all. It is not merely the guard, but the two powers were involved in concocting the stolen-corpse theory of Jesus’ resurrection.

Why are the guard posted at the tomb? The priest and elders ironically remembered Jesus’ words, “After three days I will rise again.” Remembering is not equal to believing. The priests and elders knew but did not believe Jesus’ prediction. They were afraid of fraud—“the disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead.” The guards were posted to keep the human intruders away. They were there to prevent tomb raiders from stealing the remains of Jesus Christ.

 Witnesses of the Empty Tomb (Matthew 28:11-15)

 Matthew 28:11-15 tells us about two contrasting witnesses of the empty tomb, namely, the female disciples of Jesus and the male guards at the tomb. The women, culturally unreliable witnesses, testified for the resurrection, whereas the soldiers testified against it. Matthew 28:11-15 presents an explanation for the stolen-body theory–the denial of the resurrection.

The guards were the eyewitnesses of the empty tomb. They were prepared for human intrusion, not for divine intervention. When divine intervention happened, the soldiers became like “dead men” (corpses). They were among those who had a firsthand experience of the empty tomb. They knew the disciples did not steal the remains of Jesus. They reported everything that had happened at the tomb.

The priests and the elders also knew the truth—the disciples did not steal the body. Knowing the truth does not mean believing it. Also, having evidences does not necessarily ask for faith. They denied the truth of Jesus’ resurrection because they rejected Jesus as the messiah a priori. In so doing, they deceived themselves. Later, they devised an explanation—the disciples stole the body while the guards were sleeping. They adopted the every fraud they were afraid of as their official explanation against the resurrection.

What would the priests and the elders have done if the disciples had stolen the body of Jesus? They would be the first to complain about the soldiers’ incompetency to the governor. They would ask a death penalty for soldiers who were asleep on duty. Ironically, the priests and the elders provided the guards with a relatively large amount of money and official protection. They prevent people from knowing the truth. Their theory of stolen-body of Jesus “has been widely circulated . . . to this very day.”

Matthew 28:11-15 draws out some contrast. The first contrast is between the female witnesses and the male guards. The women who were culturally considered unreliable witnesses testified for the truth, whereas the soldiers preferred wealth to truth. Another contrast is between the priests, the leaders of the Jews, and the disciples, the followers of Jesus. “The chief priests use bribe money to commission the soldiers to spread lies, while the resurrected Jesus uses the promises of his presence to commission his followers to spread the gospel (vv.16-20).


Welcome!

Christian greetings in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!

International Church in Ulsan is the English Ministry of Ulsan Baptist Church in Ulsan, Republic of Korea. The International Church envisions to be an autonomous church for foreigners and Koreans who would like to praise and worship God in English, the international language. It exists as a well in the spiritual desert where the expatriates and residents may find renewal and refreshing in God, “the spring of the living water.”

Our first service is on 3 March 2013 at 1:30 p.m.

You are warmly invited and welcome to our community where strangers become friends in the bond of Christ’s love, family members in the household of God, and co-workers in the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Thank you very much.

Pastor Azel

International Church in Ulsan


Activities

Praise and Worship

We praise and worship God at Ulsan Baptist Church in Seong-an Dong, Ulsan at 1:30. The service is in English. We encourage our members to be active worshippers by not merely singings praises and listening to the Word but also saying prayers and reading scriptural text for the day.

Fellowship and Celebrations

Right after worship service comes fellowship, where have conversation while enjoying coffee, tea, and snacks prepared by our kitchen team. We also have welcome, farewell, and birthday party.

 Language Education

English as Spoken Language classes are held on Saturday afternoon. The classes are open to elementary students. Upon request, classes for middle and high school students will be open.

Korean Language classes are held seasonally in spring and fall. The classes are primarily for beginners; however, those who are interested in practicing Korean conversation and learning cultural aspects of Korean language will also benefit from these classes.

Pastoral Care Service

Pastoral care and counseling sessions are available by appointment. It is a short term and free of charge. Please note, however, that Pastor Azel is not a certified counselor. He took courses on Clinical Pastoral Education.


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