Thomas Aquinas on Prayer

We need to pray to God, not in order to make known to Him our needs or desires but that we ourselves may be reminded of the necessity of having recourse to God’s help in these matters.

[O]ur motive in praying is, not that we may change the Divine disposition, but that, by our prayers, we may obtain what God has appointed.

God bestows many things on us out of His liberality, even without our asking for them: but that He wishes to bestow certain things on us at our asking, is for the sake of our good, namely, that we may acquire confidence in having recourse to God, and that we may recognize in Him the Author of our goods.

Creating a Godly Value System

Sanctification involves a transformation of values. As we read the Bible, we become more aware of God’s love for us and this knowledge rearranges our value system.

Values such as acceptance, popularity, health, etc. often cannot be satisfactorily achieved and this leads to disappointment, frustration and low self-esteem; however, when our greatest value is knowing and pleasing God, our other values become less important.

As these secondary values become less important, we will experience greater contentment and happiness. As a result, we will find that we can love ourselves and others to a greater degree.

Should Christians love equally?

To answer this question, let’s first define love:

love (agapao) v. – a preferring; a deliberate choosing of one over the other(s).

How is love measured?

Love is measured through its demonstration. (The greatest love is sacrificial.)

Now, let’s look at how God loves:

God loves all people (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9), but he does not love all people in the same way. The Bible teaches that there is a love reserved for those who are “in Christ,” i.e, those who love and obey God. (Psalm 103:11, Luke 8:21, John 15:10, 1 John 3:1, Jude 1:21)

As Christians, how should this knowledge affect our behavior?

First and foremost, we should love God. Then we should love all people unconditionally, but we should love those who belong to the household of faith (our faith family) in a different way. (Matthew 22:37-39, 1 John 3:16-17, Galatians 6:10)

We should love like God. (Matthew 5:43-48, 1 John 3:18)

What does it mean to be “in Christ”?

What does it mean to be “in Christ”?

It means that through faith we have been united with Jesus Christ in a covenant relationship. (This unity is symbolized in the act of baptism.)

As a result of our inclusion in this covenant that Jesus established,

  • our sins have been forgiven.
  • we have been declared righteous.
  • we have received God’s Spirit to help us mature spiritually.
  • we are united with other believers (the Church).
  • we are identified as “children of God” and as “saints.”
  • we are given the privilege and responsibility of sharing the good news of reconciliation with others.

All who remain in Christ will be resurrected after death just as Jesus was, and we will inherit immortality and live with God forever! Those who abandon the faith will be declared enemies of God on the day of judgment and destroyed with the unrighteous. (John 15:6, Romans 2:5-8, 1 John 4:16-17, Hebrews 10:23-39)

Begotten of God

Why does the Bible call Jesus the begotten son of God? (Heb 1:3-6)

Theologians are not in complete agreement on “how” or “when” Jesus was begotten—some say at the beginning of time, some say at his incarnation, and some even say at his resurrection.

I can’t say that I have the definitive answer, but I think Jesus is called the begotten son of God because he was begotten (fathered) by Yahweh approximately two thousand years ago when God’s Spirit impregnated Mary. Of course the Word of God (Logos) existed long before this. In the beginning, the Word of God was with God (theos) and was God (theos). And all that was created was created through him. However, Jesus the human Messiah did have a beginning.

Although Jesus did have a beginning, since he was the Word of God who took on flesh, he was also able to say, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)

*I know the Nicene Creed says Jesus was “eternally begotten,” but this description does not come from scripture and I’m not sure anybody really knows what it means.

Remain in Christ!

God reveals himself to all in different ways. As a result, some place their faith in him, and enter in to the new covenant. As a result of our faith, we are united with Christ and share in his righteousness. Because of our union with Christ, our faith is reckoned as righteousness. God seals us, which means he affirms that we are in Christ and then his Spirit indwells us.

So how do we remain in Christ?

We trust and obey. Faith is trusting God and obeying his commands. (James 2:14-26)

But what happens if we choose not to remain in Christ?

The writer of Hebrews wrote, “So don’t throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you need endurance, so that after you have done God’s will, you may receive what was promised.
For yet in a very little while,
the Coming One will come and not delay.
But My righteous one will live by faith;
and if he draws back,
I have no pleasure in him.
But we are not those who draw back and are destroyed, but those who have faith and obtain life. (Heb 10:35-39)

And Jesus said, “If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:6)