Displaying episodes 1 - 30 of 95 in total

God's Commandments vs. Our Natural Instincts

We discuss the sharp contrasts between God's commandments as taught by Jesus and our natural human instincts. We explored how the acts of initiation (i.e. circumcision and baptism) into God's covenant community symbolize this dichotomy, and the practical implications for daily living.

The Sermon on the Plain

We discuss several key aspects of the sermon on the plain, including the deeper meaning of the location of the sermon, the use of the term Son of Man, and the number (four) of blessings and woes. We then turned to the anti-imperial nature of the blessings and woes given by Jesus, viewing them in light of that general anti-imperial theme found throughout Scripture.

Galilee & The Great Commission

Jesus gave the "Great Commission" to go forth and baptize the nations from Galilee. Today, we discussed why it is significant that Jesus gave this command in the same place where He started His public ministry. In addition, we spoke of the importance of the second half of that commandment, to "teach" and "observe" all Jesus commanded.

Godly Grief vs. Worldly Grief

Today’s episode briefly recounted I Corinthians, in which Paul attempts to deal with the notion that salvation has been fully received without recognizing that repentance is essential and that the judgment still lies ahead. In II Corinthians we find Paul commending the church in Corinth for listening and exhibiting some signs of repentance. We then discussed what distinguishes worldly grief from godly grief. As Fr Aaron explained, worldly grief causes us to lose hope, leads to despair and leads us to concentrate on our past mistakes. In contrast, Godly grief leads us to repentance and gives us hope. Godly grief recognizes our mistakes but views them as an opportunity to learn and grow, and thus provides hope for a better future.

What Is "The Acceptable Year of the Lord"?

Today we discuss Jesus' reading in the synagogue from Isaiah, proclaiming "the acceptable year of the Lord." We highlighted how this saying relates to the Year of Jubilee, and then delved into the meaning and application of the Jubilee. Specifically, we discussed how the Year of Jubilee is a "re-setting" of society, with the land re-distributed to the original owners, debts being forgiven, and the slaves being freed. We concluded by noting how the Year of Jubilee was to be observed in both letter and spirit, and how ignoring the spirit of the Year of Jubilee was cited by Jeremiah as a reason for Israel being punished via the Babylonian captivity.

The Hymn to the Philippians: Jesus Is A Different Type of King

We opened today’s episode with a brief background on the epistle to the Philippians and how Paul likely viewed it as his last will/testament, and how Philippi served as a strategic outpost whereby he could spread the Gospel message throughout the Roman Empire and beyond. In addition, we discussed the significance of the “hymn of the Philippians” and how Jesus was entirely unlike any prior kings or rulers, and how He sets the example for us to follow.

Is The Gospel Fair?

Today’s parable led us into a discussion surrounding fairness and justice. We are taught from an early age about the importance of these concepts, and often these ideas of fairness and justice are good for society. But when considering the working out of our salvation, these concepts can become problematic. Here we see that God is not simply a just God, but that He exceeds justice and emphasizes higher virtues of mercy and compassion. Fr Aaron reminded us of the notion of viewing our salvation like an inheritance, which is something that cannot be earned but can be lost. We discussed this metaphor in light of the parable of the workers in vineyard, and how we should apply the teaching to our own lives.

What Is The Sign of Jonah?

We began our discussion today by reviewing the events of the three chapters leading up to Jesus’ statement about His only sign being the sign of Jonah. This review helps us understand the full meaning of Jesus’ statement. In the end, we learn that not only is Jesus referring to His death and third-day resurrection; but like Jonah who came forth from the whale to preach God’s message of repentance and salvation to his enemies, so too will Christ rise triumphantly, taking His message to Jew and Gentile alike, and will call His disciples to go forth and spread the Gospel over all the world, and most especially to the occupying enemy, the Romans.

Faith & Science

Today’s reading from Mark 5 led us into a discussion of faith and science and how a Christian should understand the relationship between the two. While the relationship between faith and science has changed over the centuries, in more recent history the pendulum continues to swing. Fr Aaron explained that he views the current state of this debate as moving back toward a recognition by academics that there is value to be found in Christianity. And while their rationale for the value of our faith is certainly incomplete and lacking in fullness, nevertheless we can see there is greater potential for understanding between those who align themselves with one position or the other in this debate. As for Christians and how we should understand and apply science and faith, we must first recognize that these things should co-exist. For in the study of science we find that God’s creative power is revealed to us; as the Psalm says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”

Offering Meat to Idols & A Global Pandemic

Offering meat to idols and a global health pandemic: what on earth could these two things have in common? We discussed 1 Corinthians 8-9 today, where Paul highlights the believer may have a right to do something, but nonetheless has a duty as a Christian to abstain from exercising that right in order to not offend or scandalize a weaker brother. We then showed how the situation Paul addressed to 1st century Corinthian Christians applies today amidst a pandemic.

The Problem With "Predestination"

Today we discussed a section of Romans 9 often used to support a theology called “predestination.” This erroneous theology applies Paul’s words to support the idea that God has chosen some for heaven and others for hell. That approach creates an exclusive club among those who believe they have been chosen to be saved. But in reviewing the context of Romans 9, we see that Paul is doing the exact opposite, creating an inclusive community of people from all nations, tribes, and tongues. In fact, in Romans 9, Paul is shaming those among the Jews who were so bold as to question God’s plan to save the Gentiles. We concluded by discussing the similarities between Romans 9 and other familiar stories like that of Jonah and the parable of the Prodigal Son.

Paul's Internal Struggle With Sin

Today we discussed Paul’s conundrum regarding the struggle of sin vs. the will to do what is right. Ultimately, this internal battle, together with the revelation on the road to Damascus, leads Paul to conclude that the only way to attain righteousness is outside the Mosaic Law itself, and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We then discussed two terms used by Paul, the flesh and the mind, and how through the use of these terms Paul is challenging us to rise above the limitations of nature and serve the law of Christ.

Simon? Peter? Son of Jonah? Why So Many Names?

In today’s episode we discussed the names that Christ uses for Peter and how an understanding of the meaning of these names helps us to understand more deeply these stories from Scripture. More importantly, this understanding of the names helps teach us how this narrative impacts the way we should live our lives.

Circumcision of the Heart

Today we discussed why Paul was so critical of the Jews in Romans 2. Fr Aaron provided context by reminding us the Jews had an advantage over the Gentiles, namely the Mosaic Law. And yet, even with the Law of God they continued to behave as though they were Gentiles. We then moved on to discussing what St. Paul means when he says, “For he is not a real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumcision something external and physical.” Fr Aaron showed from the Mosaic Law itself that the true purpose of circumcision is not the physical aspect, but to cut off sin from your life.

That They May Be One

Fr Aaron explained that the famous verse of Jesus praying that His disciples would “be one” should not primarily be understood as a reference to ecumenism. Rather, we should recognize that Jesus is praying that we would be perfectly united to God’s will. For centuries, Christians have been separated into many different denominations and branches, and we arrived at this place because of our sin which often expresses itself in pride. These divisions were present even in the early Church prior to Constantine, and they became even more prevalent in the centuries thereafter. But to put ourselves at the center of the universe and interpret that these verses speak to our current situation would take Christ’s words far from the context in which he spoke. His comments reflected His desire that we, just like Him, would be united to God’s will.

Evangelism's Role in the Christian Life

Based on our reading of Acts 17:1-9, we discussed the role of evangelism in the Christian life. We distinguished between the overt evangelism of St Paul and other apostles and evangelists, and the evangelism all Christians should show through loving their neighbor. We also discussed how the evangelical movement has overemphasized the role of each individual Christian to be an evangelist, noting that most Christians have been given other gifts to help the Body of Christ, which should not be minimized.

Your Father is the Devil?

We discuss why Jesus told the Pharisees there father is the devil. Ultimately, what we find is that the teaching of the devil leads us to accept God's grace for ourselves, while at the same time applying the law and judgment to others. In this context, Father Aaron showed how John 8 and Matthew 25 are intertwined, with the Mount of Olives (John 8) and the oil used in the lamps of the Five Wise Virgins (Matthew 25) connecting these two passages.

Teaching & Holy Communion

Based on our reading today, we discussed what Christ is referring to when He says that, “He who eats this bread will live forever.” Here, Christ not only refers to Holy Communion, but also to His teaching. A broader understanding of Scripture is helpful here, showing how the reception of the Word of God equips us to go forth and spread the Gospel. Prior to that, we also discussed how we should teach; namely, to equip others to become independent, giving them the ability to apply in their own lives the broader concepts we are able to convey

The Practical Application of Scripture

We began with questions regarding the Trinity and other theological questions, highlighting the importance that we guard against placing too much emphasis on these intellectual concepts at the expense of neglecting the practical teaching of Scripture. If our primary focus is on theology, and our faith is merely something that we believe in our head, we will likely live our lives in stark contrast to the teachings of Scripture. Jesus’ statement in today’s reading teaches us about the importance of submitting ourselves to the will of God. And if we keep this as our primary focus, we will not concern ourselves so much with the ability to verbalize complex theological concepts; instead we will devote ourselves to living according to God’s will.

Resurrection First Announced to the Women

Today we discussed the significance of the myrrh-bearing women as the first witnesses to the resurrection. This was fitting since it was the woman, Eve, who had first tasted of the forbidden fruit. And as Eve “evangelized” Adam about the fruit, so the myrrh-bearing women evangelized the disciples. We then turned our attention to the significance of this announcement being made to women, who were viewed as “lesser” and “weaker” than men, concluding with a good discussion about why Christ did not explicitly overturn cultural norms such as the role of men and women, free and slave, despite His teachings on these matters being clearly counter-cultural.

Proverbs & The Nature of Fasting

From Proverbs today, we discussed the foundational teaching of the Bible of caring for the poor and needy. We went on to discuss how this central teaching is so often overlooked by Christians. And this is especially true during the season of Great Lent, where our focus can so easily turn inward, to obsess over rules, to keep track of our attendance at services, to become fixated on our own spiritual growth. But we see in Isaiah 58 that God mocks this notion that He desires our outward piety. Rather, God desires that we relieve the hunger in others. We concluded, then, with a discussion of why it is important for us to be part of the church community.

God as the Great Shepherd

Today we discussed briefly an overview of Isaiah and his emphasis of caring for the poor and needy. We also discussed the idea of God and images or idols and how they all relate. Specific to today’s reading, God mocks the idols of the nations; for these idols are made, altered and destroyed by human hands. But the biblical God is uncontrollable and uncreated. Finally, how God is the great shepherd and the fact that the sheep do not need to see their shepherd, but simply need to hear His voice.

The Tower of Babel

Today we discuss the story of the Tower of Babel. Fr Aaron began with a reminder of the first command that God gave to Adam and Even and later reiterates with Noah: to spread out on the earth. But the real problem in Babel is the people wanted to make a name for themselves. We then focused on the teaching throughout Scripture that God generally opposes cities and buildings, and discussed both why this is the case and the practical implications for us today.

The Flood And Its Implications

In today’s episode we discussed the story of the flood and how it separated us from Eden, from the ideal of what God intended. Fr Aaron also noted how the flood story indicates we humans are now on our “second chance” to be obedient to God’s commandments. We also hear of God’s first covenant, one that was both unconditional and merciful. Ultimately, through the flood story we learn that the event is meant not so much for destruction, but for instruction.

Eve "Acquired" A Son?

We began the episode discussing the strange statement made by Eve that she “acquired a man from the Lord” upon the birth of Cain. We then discussed the importance of Genesis 1-4 as an introduction to the Bible, the meaning of names, and the biblical theme of condemning possessiveness. We concluded by discussing the importance of faith in the offering made by Abel versus that made by Cain.

Wisdom Literature in the Old Testament

In today’s episode we focused on the Old Testament, from which the Church appoints the readings during the period of Great Lent. Fr Aaron explained the structure of the Old Testament. We then focused on the prominent “Wisdom literature” (the Psalms, the Proverbs and the Book of Job). One of the important aspects of this literature is that true wisdom is not found in the pursuit of human philosophy nor the human ego, but through the pursuit of God’s Torah, His instruction. The Wisdom literature contends that we do not obtain wisdom, but we rather receive wisdom from God through the biblical teaching.

Communion In The Bible

Today we discussed Communion from a biblical perspective. The earliest mention of the practice is found in I Corinthians where St. Paul writes of what he had received from the Lord, namely the events of the “Last Supper.” We discussed the importance and context of the idea of “remembrance” in Scripture. We also explored the similarity between Communion and all the Old Testament Feasts and how they revolve around the reading and teaching of Scripture.

Is the God of the Old Testament the God of the New Testament?

In discussing what some might view as an apparent dichotomy between how we view God in the Old and New Testaments, Fr Aaron provided three key takeaways for us to consider. First, we must understand that the Old and New Testaments go hand-in-hand. More specifically, we cannot properly understand the New Testament without the Old. In his second point, Fr Aaron discussed why God is sometimes portrayed as “an angry God” in the Old Testament. Fr Aaron concluded by explaining that Jesus is not always “Mr. Nice Guy” in the New Testament. While it is certainly clear that Jesus is merciful and loving, His “anger” towards the self-righteous should not be overlooked.

Recognizing False Prophets

In discussing what St. Peter references as false prophets, teachers and heresies, we showed that Peter’s concern was not primarily with those outside the Church nor with what we now define as church dogma. During this discussion, Fr Aaron noted that, unlike other narratives in history that raise up and glorify its national founders and leaders, the Bible offers a constant criticism of Israel’s leadership. We also discuss what was Peter’s primary concern with false prophets: that they would convince people they could somehow earn their salvation.

Offering a Defense for our Faith

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