New Life, the Universe and Everything 新しいいのち、世界とすべて

Do you have a favourite verse?  Please share!
好きな聖句はありますか?

I’d like to share with you one of my favourite verses.  It’s Isaiah 40:30,31.  (I encourage you to read the whole chapter.)

Even youths grow tired and weary,
   and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
   will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary,
   they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:30,31
年若い者も弱り、かつ疲れ、壮年の者も疲れはてて倒れる。
31 しかし主を待ち望む者は新たなる力を得、わしのように翼をはって、のぼることができる。走っても疲れることなく、歩いても弱ることはない。
イザヤ書40:30,31

This is a truly beautiful verse, both in a poetic sense and in a spiritual sense.  Obviously, it’s figurative.  We’re not going to start literally flying through the air, but certainly in God our spirit soars in the knowledge of the hope that we have in Him.  And so it’s a deeply, wonderfully moving piece of scripture.
これは詩的にも霊的にも本当にきれいな聖句です。
神にあって私たちの霊は神におかれた望みの知識のうちにのぼります。

I’d also like to share with you one of my favourite times in living the Christian faith.  I love Christmas.  I love Easter.  I love Pentecost.  Each of these is very special and a time of wonder and joy.  But one of my favourite times is when we have baptisms.  Because baptisms are a sacrament (a ‘sacred mystery’ / ‘solemn oath’) in which we mark and celebrate the new life in Christ that those being baptised have.
洗礼は、洗礼を受ける者が持つキリストにある新しい人生を記念し、祝う聖礼典(聖なる奥義/厳粛な誓い)です。

Simply, baptism is ‘an outward sign of an inward change’.  It is an act which identifies us with the person of Jesus Christ and brings new life through belief in Him.
洗礼は’内なる変化を外に表す’ことです。私たちをイエス・キリストというお方と同一視し、このお方を信じることから得られる新しい人生をもたらす行為です。

It’s been a privilege to study with Jin and Natsuko (and Remi at home) over the last month and see them grow in their understanding and faith.  One of the key passages we have been studying in our preparation for baptism is this:

3 Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
Romans 6:3-5
それとも、あなたがたは知らないのか。キリスト・イエスにあずかるバプテスマを受けたわたしたちは、彼の死にあずかるバプテスマを受けたのである。
4 すなわち、わたしたちは、その死にあずかるバプテスマによって、彼と共に葬られたのである。それは、キリストが父の栄光によって、死人の中からよみがえらされたように、わたしたちもまた、新しいいのちに生きるためである。
5 もしわたしたちが、彼に結びついてその死の様にひとしくなるなら、さらに、彼の復活の様にもひとしくなるであろう。
ローマの信徒への手紙6:3-5

This passage effectively takes us right to the heart of the Christian faith.  It also ties in beautifully with the passage we have been studying recently in the mid-week Bible studies from 1 Thessalonians:
この聖書の箇所は私たちをクリスチャン信仰の核心へとうまく導いてくれます。

13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
兄弟たちよ。眠っている人々については、無知でいてもらいたくない。望みを持たない外の人々のように、あなたがたが悲しむことのないためである。
14 わたしたちが信じているように、イエスが死んで復活されたからには、同様に神はイエスにあって眠っている人々をも、イエスと一緒に導き出して下さるであろう。
15 わたしたちは主の言葉によって言うが、生きながらえて主の来臨の時まで残るわたしたちが、眠った人々より先になることは、決してないであろう。
16 すなわち、主ご自身が天使のかしらの声と神のラッパの鳴り響くうちに、合図の声で、天から下ってこられる。その時、キリストにあって死んだ人々が、まず最初によみがえり、
17 それから生き残っているわたしたちが、彼らと共に雲に包まれて引き上げられ、空中で主に会い、こうして、いつも主と共にいるであろう。
18 だから、あなたがたは、これらの言葉をもって互に慰め合いなさい。
テサロニケの信徒への手紙一4:13-18

This is an extraordinary passage of scripture.  Some might say it’s a fantastic passage of scripture – in the literal sense.  Really?  Are we going to actually fly through the air to meet the Lord in the clouds?  This is not poetry.  Paul is not writing figuratively.  He is saying that when Jesus returns, the dead in Christ will rise first and then we who are still alive will be lifted up into the clouds to meet him there.  Literally.

Is this Disney or is this reality?
Here’s the key question: How do we know it’s true?  (Because it sounds rather unbelievable.)  If this is the heart of the Christian hope – the great Christian hope – how do we know it’s true?
これが本当だとどうして分かるでしょうか?

Let’s look at a couple of wrong answers to this question (because they’re quite common).

1 I know it’s true because I believe it to be true. (Buzz)
それが本当だと信じているから本当なのです。
You might be surprised how many people give this as a legitimate answer.  Just because we believe something to be true, doesn’t make it true.  I could sincerely believe that David is a Yorkshire Terrier but that would in no way make him a Yorkshire Terrier.  We believe something because it is true, not because our belief somehow makes it true.
それが本当であるから信じるのであって、私たちが信じているからそれが本当になるのではありません。

2. I know it’s true because it’s in the Bible.  (Buzz)
  聖書に書いてあるから本当なのです。
This is a good answer in a sense, but it’s what we call circular reasoning.  “I believe the Bible is true because it says so in the Bible.”  (But how do you know the Bible is true? Because it says so in the Bible…)  How is the Bible any different from any other religious writing?  We’ve got all these different religions with all sorts of teaching on how to live and who God is or might be, and what the future holds.  Simply saying that something must be true because it’s in the Bible is not really any different from any other religion saying that their holy writing is true because their holy writing says so.
聖書に書いてあるから本当だというのは、他の宗教が彼らの聖典が本当だと言っているからそうなんだというのと違いがありません。

3. Here’s the right answer:  We know it’s true because it’s grounded in historical reality.  Christianity will always be a matter of faith – and without faith it’s impossible to please God – but our faith is not built merely on the dreams of the prophets or the visions of the apostles (as important and wonderful as those are).  It’s not just wishful thinking on their part.  Our faith is built on the historical reality of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Just as the Old Testament laws and writings were tied to historical realities like the Israelites’ mighty deliverance out of Egypt, so too the New Testament laws and writings are based on historical, physical demonstrations of God’s love through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Each of these are historical realities, supported by both internal and external historical sources, witnessed by many and dramatically changing the lives of many.
歴史的事実に基づいているからそれが本当だと分かります。
私たちの信仰は、イエス・キリストの生涯、死、復活の歴史的事実の上に成り立っています。
イエスの生涯、死、復活は、内外両方の歴史的情報源に支持され、多くの人に目撃され、多くの人々の人生を劇的に変えている歴史的事実です。

Furthermore, Paul, though once a hater of Christ and a persecutor of Christians, was able to write these things because of one simple, very important fact: he met Jesus.  And that made all the difference.  So this teaching is not only based on the historical reality of the resurrection of Jesus, but was also a direct word from the resurrected Jesus Himself, and that is why Paul is able to pass it on with such assurance, as encouragement for all who are in Christ.
かつてはキリストを憎む者、クリスチャンを迫害する者であったパウロは、ある一つの重大な事実のためにこれらのことを書くことができたのです:それはパウロがイエスに出会ったという事実です。
この教えは、イエスの復活の歴史的事実に基づいているだけでなく、復活されたイエスご自身からの直接の言葉でもあるのです。

For Jin, Natsuko and Remi who are getting baptised today, I want you to be encouraged about the truth and the certainty of the faith that you profess: that you who are being baptized into Christ Jesus are being baptized into his death. You are therefore being buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, you too may live a new life.  For if you are united with him in a death like his, you will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.
And if you are still alive at the return of Christ, you will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so you, along with the rest of those in Christ, will be with the Lord forever.
あなたたちが告白する真理と信仰の確信を励みにしてください:キリスト・イエスにあずかるバプテスマを受けたあなたたちは、彼の死にあずかるバプテスマを受けたのです。すなわち、あなたたちは、その死にあずかるバプテスマによって、彼と共に葬られたのである。それは、キリストが父の栄光によって、死人の中からよみがえらされたように、あなたたちもまた、新しいいのちに生きるためである。もしあなたたちが、彼に結びついてその死の様にひとしくなるなら、さらに、彼の復活の様にもひとしくなるだろう。
キリストの再臨のときに生き残っていれば、雲に包まれて引き上げられ、空中で主に会い、こうして、キリストにあって死んだ人たちといっしょにいつも主と共にいるであろう。

When Isaiah said that you will soar on wings like eagles, maybe he didn’t mean it only in a figurative sense after all.

Pray.