September 28, 2010

The Mighty Resurrection

The Sepulchre
Dan Burr
I do not just read Christian source material as I would pigeon-hole myself when doing apologetics. I make an honest attempt to keep myself abreast of all the diversified and sometimes unique (in a bad way) blasphemies and irreverence that adorn the atheist and agnostic blogs that I have bookmarked. I often frequent these sites along with comparative religions to gauge where I stand with the unbelieving world. The internal inconsistencies in many of the dissenting arguments are so apparent as to be obvious and it surprises me that they do not recognize the inconsistencies in their arguments. I must say that I have just returned from one of these forays and after such a foray I become rather indignant and annoyed with blissful ignorance passed off as intellectuality or supposedly educated people of "higher education" pretending to be the enlightened elite.

Romans 1:12
"Claiming to be wise, they became fools..."


1 Corinthians 1:20-21
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe."


Their arguments are often ungrounded, fallacious and absurd and they have the gall to bash other's beliefs when theirs are clearly illogical or internally inconsistent. Also, after these forays into "I-Hate-Christians Land" I usually like to reground and reroot in the Scripture.

So lets go reground shall we? (**and my subconscious responds: "Why yes Andy, let's do so!"**)

Lets talk about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and elaborate on its importance to the Christian faith and the individual Christian. The Resurrection is the linchpin in Christianity. Besides, I feel like talking about it on days other than just Easter since it helps me keep things in perspective. Pain, suffering, purpose, glory, Jesus, Yeahhhh!!!!! The Resurrection is important all year round as it is a shadow of what is to come for all believers.

1 Corinthians 15:12-19
"Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied."


Pitied because we have believed a lie and are believing a lie. People led astray due to deception are to be the most pitied and forlorn.

But as Christians we know that it is not a lie as all evidences both Biblical and Historical point to Christ being the First Fruit of the Resurrection. The act of the Resurrection itself was the affirmation of the Father's acceptance of the Son's work on the cross. This Resurrection of Christ is imperative to God's plan of redemption. It fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. Of specific importance is Christ's statements about Himself: That not only would He be put to death but He also knew of His own Resurrection.

Matthew 16:21
"From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."

Matthew 16:17
"Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven."

Matthew 16:22-23
"Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. "Never, Lord!" he said. "This shall never happen to you! Jesus turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."


Matthew 20:19
"and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"


Mark 8:31
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.

Mark 9:31
"...because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, "The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise."

Mark 10:34
"who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise."


...and the list continues.
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The Empty Tomb

Either Christ was Resurrected or someone stole the body. If someone took the body why was the body not produced later. Disciples couldn't have done it because the tomb was being guarded by Roman soldiers and the tomb had been sealed.

John 20:6-8
"And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed"


The interesting things about the passage of John 20:7 is the statement about the shape of the linen wrappings indicated to John that the Lord had risen. The wrappings were still in the shape of the head or in a "rolled up or a wrapped" condition judging by the word in the verse rolled-[ἐντυλίσσω/ἐντετυλιγμένον] or entulisso/entetuligmenon: the implication is that it was in the shape it would've been on his head not "folded" as other translations in other English versions. Rolled as in circular/cylindrical...like a mummy or like you would wrap your knee with an Ace bandage. It had retained its general shape albeit flattened and absent a head (Christ's). The position that the linen would've been in would've been rather difficult to mimic. It is quite evident what had happened, the body of the Lord Jesus Christ has passed through the wrapping. The linen then collapsed in on itself and retained a cylindrically wrapped or "rolled". How have I drawn this conclusion? This word is only used in two other places in the New Testament, Matthew 27:59 and Luke 23:53 and it also refers to Christ and the actual wrapping of his body by Joseph of Arimathea. The implication it is the same shape and the same form.

The Resurrection appearances annihilate any opposition to the Resurrection story. He was seen by many in the days (40) and weeks afterwards. Including women, the two on the road to Emmaus, Peter and the twelve disciples, 500 believers at one time, etc. The large crowds of witnesses add extra voracity to the eyewitness accounts as these accounts of many people seeing Him could not be attributed to hysteria or psychosis unless it was mass hysteria. There were clearly enemies of Christ or doubters converted and beleived so this is highly unlikely.

We then see the transformed disciples that were willing to die for what they believed they had witnessed. Had they made up this story of Christ's resurrection, telling it would've been one thing but to die for a deception of their own making is counter-intuitive and highly unlikely. When they saw Him they were completely changed. This is especially evident in Peter. He goes from bumbling, happy-go-lucky Peter who was relatively thick-headed to steadfast and sure of Himself (he shows pronounced conviction as opposed to unsureness and oscillating in his beliefs as when Christ was still alive).

As Jews they had observed the day of the Lord on the first day of the week as opposed to the Sabbath. This is profound as it is a complete change in mindset ingrained through centuries of tradition.

Christ was raised by the power of the Father.

Ephesians 1:19-20
"...and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms..."


But also had the power to raise Himself.

John 10:18
"No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."


The Holy Spirit was also involved in the Resurrection.

Romans 8:11
"And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you."


This is either a reference to the Holy Spirit or God the Father.

All this information taken together by anyone with half a melon (brain) and lick of sense can see something amazing happened around the time of Jesus' death even if they didn't have the Bible or had one and refused to read it. But if we do take this information in combination with the historical evidences and eyewitness accounts in the Bible, it is almost undeniable. Yet God-haters persist in their vain attempts to deify themselves in place of the god they do not believe in. Some even deny Christ ever existed. It is sad. They really do believe they are intelligent yet they are deceiving themselves and accepting the accolades of the like-minded vainly conceited clones to bolster their manufactured reality. They same thing that claim Christians do with God and fellow-believers. So I guess we could say their intelligence and pursuit of the idols of intelligentsia are their God?

Burr, Dan . The Sepulchre. 2009. NA, NA. Dan Burr Illustration. Web. 28 Sept. 2010. Painting

September 27, 2010

Theodicy: Why Is There Evil If God Is Holy & Good?

How many times have you heard non-believers or even believers make a statements like this: "If God is so powerful and so holy how and why would He allow evil and suffering?" "To me a God that allows evil is a mean and uncaring God." We also hear statements like "God is either mean or evil, or He just doesn't care" or worse we hear that He actually is "not all-powerful and cannot control the evil in creation so He couldn't possibly be God to begin with."

It is basically the very simple (and simple-minded) chain of reasoning that says that if God were omniscient, omnipotent and benevolent (loving), he would know about the great suffering in the world, have the ability to stop it as omnipotent, and choose to. He does not stop it so He could not be a loving God. The argument or discussion usually stops here with the people who would make this type of statement and they generally are not open to further reasoning. This inevitably blocks out the truth which also blocks God's providence and sovereignty in their minds/thought processes. How silly.

I posit that (1) God is poorly understood even by those that are in the Christian faith and (2) People that say absurd statements like this or ask questions like this are attempting to put God within a box of their own making thereby confining God to their myopic view of what He should be and how He should behave. I mean...get real people. Who's really at fault for the evil in this world? God or the beings that have actually perpetrated the heinous acts and then refuse to take accountability for them? The sinful human beings behaving like petulant and irresponsible children that went rogue. This leads to blaming God for our own recalcitrance and ignorance. We unjustly elevate ourselves to believe we can actually get inside God's head and know why He does things and how He thinks. Simultaneously we try to bring God down to a human level (if not lower) passing judgment on Him as if we are actually fit to do so. We deify ourselves and try to undeify God. All the while being satanically led on by the great deceiver...that slug Satan.

Theodicy

The term theodicy comes from Greek theos "god" + dike "justice"

Theodicy reconciles or tries to reconcile the evil of the world with a holy and righteous God. How an infinitely holy and just God can allow evil to exist and in some cases thrive in His creation. In doing so it implicates and draws in the idea of God’s justification and justice. As Christians we are to view God as the sovereign Creator. In so doing we relinquish the right to be the final say in judgment of ourselves and give this over to Him. By doing this we acknowledge that we have imputed sin as a product of Adam and the sin in the Garden (Enns 319, 323). Although created holy, man chose to disobey God and sin and thereby gaining for himself a penalty of death. Death not only physically but also spiritual unless we accept Christ’s redeeming/atoning work on the cross and repent. There is a price to be paid for sin since the wages of sin is death. Christ sacrificially put himself up as the ransom or a substitution to free man from the bondage to sin which is the source of the ills of this world or what many view as evil. Christ also abrogated the ceremonial law instituted by the Mosaic covenant (Enns 89).

Knowing what I have stated above, Christians should then truly understand their irreparable position in relation to a holy and perfectly just and righteous God that must judge sin or He wouldn’t be God which is directly contrary to the logic and thought processes of non-believers or those that doubt God's providence, sovereignty, grace and mercy. The correct and suitable response by Christians is to submit to the One who judges and is merciful and full or grace to forgive…if we accept His sacrificial offer and repent. In other words: We are reprobates and only He can save us. It is only by the grace of God we can be redeemed. Believing involves and act(s) of repentance in faith. This is not to be construed as a work. Faith is the vehicle that gets you to the destination or the eye that sees, the Lord Jesus has done that work for us already (Enns 97-98).

Because man and his entanglement with sin is the direct consequence from the fall of man in the world we can then link the above statements together. Man is created holy but falls choosing to sin. God being perfectly just cannot ignore sin as it is an affront against His holiness. In needing to respond to the sin of disobedience the world is under a curse and/or being punished for sin. Man will die, for the wages of sin is death. The world is now also at odds with God and/or anything divine. As converted justified believers, we are at odds with ourselves or our flesh that is still “of this world”. The best example of this is in Romans 7 and what appears to be Paul suffering from a multiple personality disorder. In actually he is talking about the tension between the spiritual good and the sinful flesh. He ends up doing things he doesn’t mean to do, and not doing things he should. (Enns 324-326). In other words sin and evil are ontological parasites. They are an absence of good. Had man obeyed we wouldn’t be in this mess. Regardless, humans often view suffering, sickness and death (the effects of the Fall) as bad or evil. Christians should view it as justice exacted against a sinful humanity. If we repent we will eventually be glorified in Christ and restored to our previous state (after death or rapture) anyway.

I will now closely parallel one of my sources and then comment as the source’s eloquence is in its specificity. The church (body) focuses on two primary aspects when it comes to Christian’s response to Theodicy/ or the church’s Biblical orientation to dealing with the idea of a God and the presence of evil in His creation. The primary assumption when dealing with this topic is that man knows better and this is dangerous because God’s ways are above our ways meaning we cannot understand His purposes because we only have a myopic human view or things but He has all aspects covered at all times. Macchia’s quote is brilliant:
“God has created humanity with the freedom to rebel and become vulnerable to satanic opposition. God has allowed satanic opposition to exist to test humanity’s free response to God.” (Macchia 202)

Macchia also states that:
“God wills to triumph over satanic opposition, not only for believers, but also through them. Therefore, the triumph of God’s grace has a history and a development.” (Macchia 202)

In a word: Brilliant (not uncaring). God uses the vessels of triumph to propagate further triumph…all to the glory of God. Just as he has placed the seeds of rebirth and new life within fruit, He has done the same with believers by placing the Spirit in men (indwelt). The whole implication here is that God is constantly active and involved in His creation and His creation once saved (us), actively pursues the will of God (usually).


What is also amazing here in this premise is that, for God to gain salvation over some “thing”, there has to be some “thing” to triumph over. God being omnipotent and sovereign over His creation has to first allow this to happen. Hence the existence of evil. The other question that arises from this is why God didn’t just make people (angels) love Him? Had He done this they would’ve never strayed. My response to this is one further question. Does forcing someone to love you actually constitute real love? For God to allow us to love Him of our own freewill He needed to allow us to hate Him or choose something besides love. Otherwise there would be no choice, only a directive or mandate. That’s not love. It’s called tyranny and despotism and that would make God a tyrant and therefore not God. If God is anything He is holy, He just and He is love.

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Revised ed. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008. Print.

Macchia, Frank D. "Chapter 6 Repudiating The Enemy: Satan And Demons." Systematic Theology. Ed. Stanley M. Horton. Springfield: Logion Press, 2010. 194-213. Print. Anthology.

Further reading about Theodicy: Examining The Scripture LXXIV: Job's First Discourse & The Problem of Suffering

September 26, 2010

A Milling Process


I feel as if lately I am being ground to powder. Not powder like dirt but rather something akin to flour. Broken down into rudimentary parts. Dismantled only to be reassembled at some later time in a different form. Flour ground up to later be mixed with water and other ingredients or other people to create something that will fuel and edify a body or the body. Broken down just like a body does to extract the nourishment it needs to not only stay alive but to thrive. Broken into smaller parts so the parts can be sorted out to figure out which ones I don't really need to carry with me. Stripped down and made light. Perhaps to travel light as I may need to move quickly and be agile.

Extra baggage weighs us down. Makes it harder to do what we are called to do. Baggage gives us more things to remember when its time to go. Many things that don't really warrant a second glance I have often dragged along with me in my life. Doubt, guilt, anger, impatience, unwelcome angst and anxieties, etc. Do I still carry these things. Sure do. Not nearly as much of them as I use to. Someday I will truly grasp the fact that the only One that matters has already forgiven me of many of the things I continue to carry guilt about...I should forgive myself. He is the only thing I should be carrying in me anyway. The truth is that it is Him that carries me anyway.

I am being ground down. Like diamond dust. Cut away. Honed. Broken down so that I can serve others as I have been obviously called to do. Ground into a fine grit that can eventually be used to polish others in the same process that has ground away and polished me. Just as the brilliance of a diamond only comes through after repeated chipping away at just the right places and repeated grindings and polishings. The grindings have been done with surgical precision to best optimize the material and waste none of it. The raw material is in short supply and every spec and iota of it that can be used to show the glory and brilliance of its Creator needs to be taken advantage of. God maximizes your value. And like a Master Gem Cutter, God hones me away to remove as many of the flaws as possible.

Every aspect of me that glorifies God will be preserved by God to do His will. Anything that does not will be disgarded. This process will continue until all the facets that God wants shown to the world are perfected and spotless. Until the clarity of the gem inside is brought forth for the sparkling briliant light that will shine through it. I am just raw material. A stone or one with a heart of stone that has been made flesh.

And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh. ~Ezekiel 11:19

The beauty of it all is not the stone itself but rather the way the light plays and works through the stone that gives it its luster...its beauty. A stone on the diadem of the King.

I am being simplified an in this simplicity I will find my purpose God has set aside for me. Where I can shine most brilliantly for his purpose.

Inseperable: Word-History-Revelation


There is an inextricable bond or relationship between the literature, the history and the theology of the Bible. These three distinctive units synergistically work together to form the continuity and continuous whole called Biblical Theology. They literally act as foundations that allow us to step, in a coherent manner into the text of our Holy Bible. They literature, history (or historical record) and the theology (or revelation) contain within its covers. In a word the relationship between these elements is synergistic as they reinforce one another on a holistic level.

The literature aspect is the wording itself. Words themselves are nothing more that symbols used to convey a meaning. That meaning is determined by decoding the symbols (text) and how they are present in the Bible. In their “literary” environ so to speak. We need to understand how God has revealed Himself in the Word in conjunction with the way He has revealed Himself incarnate also. These aspects cannot be viewed in isolation or in a vacuum or we miss the whole/holistic picture or what God wanted us to understand. This means we need to also take into account the human element/historical events that occurred involving humanities redemption and God which segues us to our second aspect.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”~John 1:1,2 [Literary, History, Revelation]

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father...”~John 1:14[Revelation, History]

The historical record works with the revealed word in a manner that shows us as readers. In this manner God has chosen to reveal Himself in time/history and thereby being essentially documented as historical narrative within the Bible. We as believers take this narrative as historic record whereas the secular world views it as possibly myth. As many of these events such as creation are beyond the realm of investigation since there were no human observers of the Creation, we then rely on God’s revelation of said event. In the Bible’s case it was revealed through Moses’ narrative. This leads us then to our last aspect of our triad, the theology revealed within the Bible.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law”~Gal 4:4 [Revelation]; “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”~Col 1:17[History]

All of these aspects are inextricably linked together. Revelation is not just concerned with past historical elements but also future as historical also. We must understand that the Bible is revelation of God or what God wanted man to know about Him. It is also what God wanted man to know about himself. Since the Bible is a revelation about an infinite Being that is One but a Trinity of three persons, we should understand that this revelation enters into the realm of infinitude and the timelessness of eternity. This is an area hard for man to grasp and comprehend because it is nearly outside of our reality and ability to comprehend. The Bible encompasses these three aspects but never totally separates them as they are not totally inseparable. All of these are revealed in Jesus Christ.

“God, after He spoke long ago [Revelation/History] to the fathers in the prophets [History] in many portions and in many ways [Literary], in these last days [History] has spoken to us in His Son [Revelation], whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world [History].”~ Heb 1:1, 2

I have added the Scripture and labels in brackets for a twofold purpose, example and evidential truth.

Divine-Human Word

How does Jesus as the divine-human Word help us to understand the Bible as divine-human Word?

Plainly stated, Jesus Christ is the centrality of scripture. He is what all the shadows and types of the Old Testament pointed to in their subtle and not so subtle allusions. He is the Messiah that the prophets pointed to and the most visible example of this in the Old Testament is Isaiah’s suffering servant of Isaiah 53.We can reach back as far as the proto-evangelium or “first Gospel” of Genesis 3:15 to see the first promise of a plan for salvation. We then can jump all the way forward to the last verses of Malachi 4 and see the mention of the Day of the Lord. All roads from the Old Testament converge at Calvary and Jesus Christ. All roads depart from or diverge from Christ in the New Testament. We have the Synoptic Gospels which are actually from or about Jesus Himself. We see the new covenant and the church it initiates immediately after His death as the early Christians including the Apostles disperse into the Diaspora and even farther away into Asia Minor, Greece, Macedonia, Rome and eastward through the Middle East.

Christ is the center because He is God and all things are to the glory of God. The majority of the Bible and things narrated/told within it are an outworking of this. How so? It is because most of the Bible from Genesis 3 to Revelation 22 is mankind trying to get back to the state or condition of humanity pre-Genesis 3. Holiness for man is one of the overriding objectives of Scripture. Why? It is because we cannot approach a totally holy and righteous God in our fallen condition. Why? It is because God is a just God and He cannot and will not look upon sin but He is amazingly patient with man for He does not wish to lose even one of us. So why is it important to be holy? It is so that we can have an intimate relationship with Him...for eternity. Unfortunately that is not possible until sin has been atoned for and removed from the picture. It is through Christ’s sacrificial atonement on the cross and more specifically His blood.

For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life [sin]. Leviticus 17:11.

A life is demand by God for a life of sin. Our lives are demanded of us in return for our sin. The life will either be the sinner themselves or a suitable substitute.

"For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23

To round out this picture we need to read in Hebrews 10 that "the law [in Old Testament] was but a shadow of the good things to come" or a typology and also the blood sacrifice it demanded. So what things came? Not what, who. Jesus Christ came. He is the answer to or the focus of all the progressive revelation of the Old Testament. We now arrive at the parallel in Christ's work that also directly relates back to the Mosaic Law/ Leviticus ceremonial system of the Old Testament. Jesus met the conditions of the Law and not only that, He also paid the ransom to redeem us and He acted as the priest that entered the most holy place when he died offering His blood. All previously symbolically carried out by the priests in the Old Testament now carried out for real by Jesus in a once-and-for-all sacrifice that truly removed the sins of humanity. The ultimate proof that God had truly spoke through the prophets foretelling of a “divine plan”.

Matthew 5:17-18
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Since John 1 tells us that Jesus was the Word and the Word had become flesh we then see the entire linkage of these themes to the original question gel into a coherent whole. As the Good Book states, Jesus sums the word up, fulfills it and interprets it.

III=I


All evidences for the Trinity are revealed by God in the Scripture or are derived from Scripture. I will outline some (but not all) of the Biblical or internal Old and New Testament evidences. I will avoid many of the obvious Biblical evidences as most people either know them already or they can be easily found elsewhere. I want to dig a little.

The Old Testament:

As mentioned by Kerry McRoberts, the very first Biblical evidence shows up in Genesis where there is a separation or noted delineation in the Godhead.

"Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” ~ Genesis 1:26

Genesis 3:22
Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever"

Genesis 11:7 "Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech."


Another distinction is the Angel of the Lord, theophanies and Yahweh which distinguishes this entity from Him/Father. These references include the verse or units Genesis 16:7-13 (Hagar & Ishmael in the Wilderness), Genesis 18:1-21 (Three Visitors to Abraham) & Genesis 32:22-32 (Jacob Wrestles With God).

All these were in Genesis alone!

In Isaiah we then have...

Isaiah 6:8
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!"


In Isaiah 48:15-16; 61:1 we see the Messiah identify Himself with the other persons of the Godhead in unity and also by speaking in the first person when referring to the other persons in the Trinity.

Isaiah 48:15-16
I, even I, have spoken; yes, I have called him. I will bring him, and he will succeed in his mission. "Come near me and listen to this: "From the first announcement I have not spoken in secret; at the time it happens, I am there." And now the Sovereign LORD has sent me, with his Spirit.


This makes the Messianic reference plain. He is speaking yet Yahweh is directing him. Who is He? He is being sent by and is Yahweh at the same time...Jesus. In context of the chapter, Yahweh & the Holy Spirit send The One who was present at Creation.

Isaiah 61:1
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners...


"Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the Lord hath anointed me" this is quoted by Jesus as His credentials in preaching in Luke 4:18-21. The first three verses of this chapter are talking about Jesus and His mission to earth as the Servant of the Lord introduced in earlier passages of Isaiah. This is confirmed by Jesus Himself when He quotes from this passage, as recorded in the gospel of Luke.

"Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing."

Zechariah 12:10 is the clearest image of this as it is God speaking in first person (me) when speaking of having been pierced. We then see a shift to third (him) mentioning the suffering. This intrinsically identifies a plurality of person (McRoberts 147-148)

Zecheriah 12:10
"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit [The Spirit] of grace and supplication. They will look on [to] me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Of notable elegance is the Assemblies of God statement about the Trinity as their orthodoxy on the Trinity is the same as all evangelicals:

“The one true God has revealed Himself as the eternally self-existent "I AM," the Creator of heaven and earth and the Redeemer of mankind. He has further revealed Himself as embodying the principles of relationship and association as Father, Son and Holy Spirit”

A Personal Note:

The Trinity is such a mind-bending concept that is fairly clear to me that there is a low probability that it is the product of human reason or logic. If anything it is counter intuitive and defies conventional logic of men. In other words, it could only have been revealed by god, man probably would’ve never been able to invent the concept. What man can even fully grasp it?

We have a few Biblical references directly implicating the Holy Spirit as both an active agent in things and as a distinct third person of the Trinity

Psalms 104:30
When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.


Jesus also claimed deity for the Holy Spirit.

John 14:16
"And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever"

There are distinct Biblical references to The Father being a sanctifier in 1 Thessalonians 5:23, to Jesus as a sanctifier among other things in 1 Corinthians 1:2 and the Holy Spirit being a sanctifier in Romans 15:16.

1 Thessalonians 5:23
"May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

1 Corinthians 1:2
"To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours..."

Romans 15:16
"...to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles with the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit."

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The New Testament:

The New Testament evidences are fairly straight forward and probably the most commonly known to believers (and some non-believers). The most pronounced and obvious example is John 1:1-3. This passage is commonly understood to be referring to Jesus Christ. In the second part of verse 1 we see, “And the Word was with God”. Word is capitalized as a proper noun and understood to be Jesus or the Word made flesh as noted in v.14. The Word or logos was with God. The word “with” means “toward”, “by the side of”, “face to face”. As Psalms 90:2 alluded to, a relationship they have always shared from [Hebrew: `owlam to `owlam], everlasting to everlasting or beyond vanishing point to beyond the vanishing point (McRoberts 148-149).

I could go into much more explicit detail about mentions of the Trinity in the New Testament but if I need to for the readers of this blog, you should be ashamed of yourselves for not knowing so that you are able to defend your position of a key doctrine and tenet of your faith. When people ask you who Jesus is you need to know how to answer this question and how it ties into Jesus Christ as He is part of the Trinity.

It is quite clear in the New Testament that the Trinity is shown in the redemption and reconciling aspect/attribute of God towards a sinful mankind. God sent His Son (Jesus) into the world as the atoning sacrifice for man’s sin. At the cross Jesus obviously submitted to the will of the Father as He himself had His own apprehensions about it (human side) asking if there was any way to take “this cup” from Him. Then followed this up with “not my will” but “as you will”. After Christ’s death we then have Pentecost and the “Helper” comes to indwell in believers of what Christ has come to accomplish with His death, burial and resurrection (McRoberts 168)

McRoberts, Kerry D. "Chapter 5 The Holy Trinity." Systematic Theology. Ed. Stanley M. Horton. Springfield: Logion Press, 2010. 145-177. Print. Anthology.

Manifest Christianity is Manifest Eternity

I'd like to present a few blatant and obvious evidences for Christianity

Jesus Christ:

The God-man Himself that gave rise to Christianity and the faith system/worldview that bears His name, Jesus Christ. He is one person in a Trinity of three that constitutes God. I will expound on the Trinity in the near future.

Deuteronomy 6:4
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.


Matthew 28:19
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...


As believers will all (most all) assent to Jesus having actually existed, He himself would be the paramount and primary evidence for the support of Christianity and its faith or reason for inception (or origin). Most Christians would go as far as to make the claim that Christ’s life on earth was a “fact”. We have documents external to the Bible validating his existence or hinting towards a man of His description having lived at the time the Bible has stated as in the case of Josephus (Flavius). The Biblical proofs are countless. For the sake of brevity I will name only a few of the direct proofs.

Christ announces, "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!" John 8:58

Since the Lord is the source of this truth and He speaks with authority I will claim His statement of who He is as evidential truth. In so doing I am, by implication, claiming it as an evidence of Christianity since without Christ, there is NO Christianity. This only becomes circular reasoning if Christ claim is not authoritative truth…but it is. Thereby making this a claim based on a given or known truth based on my worldview (Enns 227).

Fruit:

We see that through the fruits of the Spirit or manifested behaviors good indicators of whether or not people are walking in lock-step with the Holy Spirit. These are manifestations but not necessarily spiritual gifts per se. They are in order as listed Galatians 5:22-23- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Fruit is and “outgrowth” of character and a lifestyle. Failure to produce these fruits or success in producing the opposite of these fruits would be evidences to the contrary. What are the things to the contrary? Funny you should ask because they come right before the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:19-20, sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like.

Are the qualities manifested in the fruits of the Spirit attainable or possible outside of being a believer? Yes. But when we link these fruits in conjunction with the spiritual gifts we see a synergistic combination of evidences that point to an indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

The indwelling of the Spirit aids us in our walk of sanctification which oddly, might be understood as evidence. We are continuing in a path and attempt to become more holy. A task which appears to be downright impossible for those that do not believe or have not been indwelt by the spirit as is told to us in the bible that we are all under sin. There are none righteous…not even one! We only gain righteousness through faith. Additionally, evidence(s) of that faith is/are spiritual fruit. Fruit is also an abundance of life or an outgrowth because of an abundance of life. As it is stated in Scripture, fruit also contains within itself the seeds of new life which in my mind is a supra-abundance of life.

The Body and The Bible:

I may be going out on a limb with my final evidence but I will try to offer a sound argument. The last evidence I present is The church itself or the idea of the church as an institution/body of believers drawing off the inspired word (and its authority) of God in the Bible and obeying it. The fact that there has been an unbroken line or lineage of these believers and the idea of its Christianity’s existence since Christ gave the command to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...” When we combine all the above statements of evidences into the fact that this is still a thriving and prospering entity that bases its belief system in the truths of the Bible argues for the belief that the Bible is indeed true about what it has stated and addressed. That this body continues to baptize and have communion as commanded. The Bible being the silent partner in this perpetuation of lineage and the church or people the non-silent partner going forth to the nations as God’s holy people/ministers of the Word.

Forget get all the scientific stuff. Let us just deal with the basic tenets of the Christian belief system. The ones I have mentioned here are long standing and understood to have been around since the beginnings of Christianity. Let us not be afraid to defend ourselves with only these evidences as it is the refuter that has the burden of proof to prove otherwise. Lets call these Manifest Christianity or Manifest Eternity. When we see them in the believers we see a peace/piece of the Kingdom that has already arrived as evidence of the promise God has made to us. It is a deposit on that promise to know that the Spirit and thereby the Kingdom is within us.

Enns, Paul. "Chapter 20 Christology: Doctrine of Christ." The Moody Handbook of Theology. Revised ed. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2008. 227. Print.

Warnings & Advise To Biblical Teachers

As mentioned before, those who teach are expect to maintain and exacting standard of sound teaching and doctrine.

James 3:1
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."


As such, teachers or leaders must also take care to not be hypocrites. The Greek word [ὑποκριτής] hypokritēs is actually an interesting word. The Greek stage actors in New Testament times would often perform in enormous amphitheaters that seated thousands. Not only would they need to project their voices to be heard but they would also need to use or wear over-sized masks to show emotion facial expressions to those in the farthest seating. What were these Greek actors with over-exaggerated pretending masks called? Hypokritēs [ὑποκριτής]. Not only were they pretending to be something they were not but they did it with ostentatious zeal in an almost caricature or cartoon like fashion.

The Needed To Shepherd The Flock:

Teachers were expected to not lead believers astray with false doctrine of evil motives. (Matthew 23:15)

Matthew 23:15
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are."


Fairly Judge:

They were not to be harsh judges to others, especially in the body of the church (Matthew 23:29-32)

Matthew 23:29-32
"Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the graves of the righteous. And you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our forefathers, we would not have taken part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.' So you testify against yourselves that you are the descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of the sin of your forefathers!"


They Holy Spirit is not a puppet master and The Spirit does not mystically take over the mouth and body of a teacher like a PA (public address) system. It is part of the duties of a teacher to work hard to prepare to teach. Diligence. It is part of the duty as teachers to study and set a good example to others of what diligent study is.

On the flip-side of the coin we see that their also is an unique requirement of those that need to learn. The learner, student or the one that takes on the yoke of Christ must submit to Him, his authority and His teaching. When you read and learn about the Scripture you are to do so with a willingness to accept it and learn it like a child and obey it. It is then that you truly begin to learn and understand God's truth.

In Both Cases:

Whether teacher or leader.

Luke 12:48
"But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked."


Also, as a general rule of thumb for all that are in teaching or leadership roles we should always remember 1 Timothy chapter 3. Although this passage applies to overseers and deacons of the church they are all good rules for anyone that will be a model of leadership (1 Timothy 3:1-10).

General Rules:

For Those In Leadership Rolls

1 Timothy 3:1-10
"Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?) He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. Deacons, likewise, are to be men worthy of respect, sincere, not indulging in much wine, and not pursuing dishonest gain. They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience. They must first be tested; and then if there is nothing against them, let them serve as deacons."


Be Diligent:

One final exhortation from Paul to Timothy.

1 Timothy 4:11-16
"Command and teach these things. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.

The Task of Bible Teachers


Teachers Teach God's Word: Bible teachers must teach what God's word says (Exodus 18:20, Leviticus 10:11, Deuteronomy 6:1)

Exodus 18:20
"Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform."

Leviticus 10:11
"and you must teach the Israelites all the decrees the LORD has given them through Moses."

Deuteronomy 6:1
"These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess..."


Living Examples #1: They must be and example of how to live (Exodus 18:20, Titus 2:7)

Exodus 18:20
"Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform."

Titus 2:7
"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness"


Living Examples #2: They must teach others how to obey God (Exodus 18:20, Deuteronomy 6:1, 1 Samuel 12:23, Matthew 28:20, 1 Timothy 4:6)

1 Samuel 12:23
"As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right."

Matthew 28:20
"...and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

1 Timothy 4:6
"If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed."


They Must Teach The Youth: The next generation must be evangelized too, not just this one. (Deuteronomy 4:9, Titus 2:1-6)

Deuteronomy 4:9
"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip from your as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them."


Titus 2:1-6
"You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled."


Its A Full-time Job: They are to teach all the time, not just in a class or study. There also is not retirement (Deuteronomy 11:19, Acts 5:42, 1 Timothy 4:11)

Deuteronomy 11:19
Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

Acts 5:42
Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.[a]

1 Timothy 4:11
"Command and teach these things."


Teach Non-Belivers: They need to teach non-Christians also so the non-believers will come to know God (Psalms 51:13, Acts 17:19-20)

Psalm 51:13
"Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you."

Acts 17:19-20
"Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean."

Excite People With The Word of God: They are to stir people up, [ἀνασείει] anaseiei: excite them (w/the Word) (Luke 23:5)

Luke 23:5
"But they insisted, "He stirs up the people all over Judea[a]by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here."


Prepare Others For God's Work: They are to do prepare others to do something positive for the Kingdom of God (Ephesians 4:11-12)

Ephesians 4:11-12
"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.."


Confront False Teachers/Teaching: Whereever they find it teachers are to refute bad or false teaching(s)(1 Timothy 1:3-7, 2 Timothy 1:13)

1 Timothy 1:3-7
"As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work—which is by faith. 5The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm."

2 Timothy 1:13
"What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus."


Look For Others Like Them: Teachers are to be on the lookout for others that will make good teachers and leaders, (2 Timothy 2:2)

2 Timothy 2:2
"And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others."


Held To An Exacting Standard: Teachers, Pastors, Leaders, Elders and the like will be judged more strictly as they knew more so more will be expected of them. They will be dealt with more harshly when they flub up too for the same reason as many people are looking to them for guidance (James 3:1)

James 3:1
"Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly."

September 25, 2010

The Characteristics of Biblical Teachers

Ability To Teach: They are given the ability (spiritual gift) to teach others. (Exodus 35:34, Matthew 23:34, Ephesians 4:11-12).

Exodus 35:34
"And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others."


Matthew 23:34
"Therefore I am sending you prophets and wise men and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.


Ephesians 4:11-12
"It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up."


Filled With The Holy Spirit (for their specific purpose): They are filled with the Holy Spirit. (Exodus 35:30-31, Romans 12:6, 1 Corinthians 12:14)

Exodus 35:30-31
Then Moses said to the Israelites, "See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds..."


Romans 12:6
"We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith."


1 Corinthians 12:14
"Now the body is not made up of one part but of many."


Knowledgable of The Bible: They know God's word well. (Ezra 7:6, Matthew 22:16, Colossians 1:28, 3:15, 1 Timothy 1:3-7, 2 Timothy 1:13, Titus 2:1)

Ezra 7:6
"...this Ezra came up from Babylon. He was a teacher well versed in the Law of Moses, which the LORD, the God of Israel, had given. The king had granted him everything he asked, for the hand of the LORD his God was on him."

Matthew 22:16
"They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are."

Colossians 1:28
"We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ."

Colossians 3:15
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful."

1 Timothy 1:3-7
"As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God's work—which is by faith. The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm."


2 Timothy 1:13
"What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus."

Titus 2:1
"You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine."


Their Teaching Brings Life. (Proverbs 13:14)

Proverbs 13:14
The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death.


They Live A Christian Life: They live with integrity. (Matthew 22:16, Titus 2:7)

Titus 2:7
"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness."


They Stand Steadfast and Strong: They are not impressed with nor intimidated by the status and positions of individuals. (Matthew 22:16)

Matthew 22:16
"They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are."


They Will Be Opposed: They face opposition(s) becasue of their teaching, especially when it is truth. (Matthew 23:34, Acts 4:1-3, Titus 2:7-8)

Acts 4:1-3
"The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day."


Titus 2:7-8
"In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness 8and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."


Teaching Ability Comes From God: They understand that their teaching and their ability to teach comes from God, not from themselves. (John 7:16-18)

John 7:16-18
"Jesus answered, "My teaching is not my own. It comes from him who sent me. If anyone chooses to do God's will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own. He who speaks on his own does so to gain honor for himself, but he who works for the honor of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him."


They are Sought After: They are in demand because they're good teachers. (2 Timothy 3:10)

2 Timothy 3:10
Paul's Charge to Timothy: "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance..."

Times of Crisis

Nothing will more correctly reveal what is in a person than the coming upon them of some crushing and unlooked-for crisis. Let it be temporal ruin by the failure of his calculations or the disappointment of all his hopes: let it be the entrance of the death-angel into his home and the removal from it of his nearest and dearest earthly friend; let it be his own prostration by some serious illness which puts him face to face with his dissolution, and forthwith the extent of his resources is unfolded, and it is at once discovered both by others and by himself whether he is animated by unfailing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit, or whether he has been deceiving himself, all the while relying on some other support. It was a shrewd remark of Andrew Fuller that a man has only as much religion as he can command in trial.
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Let us therefore look back upon the past and analyze our experiences at such testing times as those to which I have referred. We have all had them. We have all heard already, in some form or other, this midnight cry, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh"; for in every such surprise as those which I have described, Jesus was coming to us. How did we meet him then? Did our lamps go out? Or were we able to trim them and keep them burning brightly all through? Oh, if by any such event we discovered our utter resourcelessness, let us betake ourselves now to Christ that he may thoroughly renew us by his Holy Spirit and so prepare us for that last and solemnest crisis when over the graves of the slumbering dead the archangel shall cry out, "Behold, the Bridegroom cometh," and all shall arise to stand before his great white throne.

In the parable of the Five Foolish Women and Their Friends...the difference between the condition of the wise and that of the foolish was revealed by the coming of the bridegroom. It revealed itself in crisis. During the days before the wedding or night leading up to the start of the feast few would have noticed that five women would have adequately prepared for the bridegroom's coming and five had not.

Suddenly the bridegroom came, and the distinction was immediately apparent. Five women were running around like the Keystone Cops probably knocking into one another tripping over one another trying to figure out where to get more oil for their lamps and trimming their wicks in the dark. It would be a comical scene if it wasn't for the fact that these woman are actually a metaphor for you and I and they represent those that are professing acting Christian's but only on the outside. The difference is internal. Inside they/we are unprepared if we are not prepared in a time of crisis.


How do you know if you are on the wise side or the foolish side? The answer comes from the parable itself. You can preview the results of their/your final judgement by the reaction of the women/your reaction to crisis' in your life today. Do you respond in faith and security or anxiety and dread? Can you weather the storm or does the storm weather you?

~William Taylor: The Parables of Our Savior Expounded and Illustrated. 1900. P170-171

September 23, 2010

It Could Be Worse

Job 7

1 "Has not man a hard service on earth,
and are not his days like the days of a hired hand?
2 Like a slave who longs for the shadow,
and like a hired hand who looks for his wages,
3 so I am allotted months of emptiness,
and nights of misery are apportioned to me.
4 When I lie down I say, 'When shall I arise?'
But the night is long,
and I am full of tossing till the dawn.
5 My flesh is clothed with worms and dirt;
my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh.
6 My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle
and come to their end without hope.
7 "Remember that my life is a breath;
my eye will never again see good.
8 The eye of him who sees me will behold me no more;
while your eyes are on me, I shall be gone.
9 As the cloud fades and vanishes,
so he who goes down to Sheol does not come up;
10 he returns no more to his house,
nor does his place know him anymore.
11 "Therefore I will not restrain my mouth;
I will speak in the anguish of my spirit;
I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.
12 Am I the sea, or a sea monster,
that you set a guard over me?
13 When I say, 'My bed will comfort me,
my couch will ease my complaint,'
14 then you scare me with dreams
and terrify me with visions,
15 so that I would choose strangling
and death rather than my bones.
16 I loathe my life; I would not live forever.
Leave me alone, for my days are a breath.
17 What is man, that you make so much of him,
and that you set your heart on him,
18 visit him every morning
and test him every moment?
19 How long will you not look away from me,
nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
20 If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
Why have you made me your mark?
Why have I become a burden to you?
21 Why do you not pardon my transgression
and take away my iniquity?
For now I shall lie in the earth;
you will seek me, but I shall not be."

Verse 5: "My flesh is clothed with worms": This is perhaps of figure or speech, but is literally true: the miserably ulcerated state of Job's body, exposed to the open air, and in a state of great destitution, was favourable to insects (flys) that sought such places in which to deposit their eggs, which might have produced the worms (Hebrew: Rim'maw-maggots) in question. But the imagery is too disgusting to further elaborate on.

Verse 5: "...my skin hardens, then breaks out afresh" Job alludes to the crust or dried pus, which formed on the tops of sores, the skin becomes very rigid, so as to crack across when stressed or flexed, especially at joints.

Verse 14: "then you scare me with dreams and terrify me with visions": Satan was permitted to haunt his imagination with dreadful dreams and nightmares; so that, as soon as he fell asleep, he was suddenly awakened by those appalling images. He needed to sleep, but was afraid to close his eyes because of the horrid images which were presented to his imagination. Is there anything worse than not being able to escape your misery even in sleep?

Verse 15: "so that I would choose strangling and death rather than my bones." (Hebrew: makh-an-ak'-choke, strangling)... in those interrupted and useless slumbers, an oppression and difficulty of breathing something like being smothered, a struggling to breath...like someone standing on your chest.

Lovely. This people, is suffering. Compound these visuals with the loss of his entire family, all of his well-being, prosperity, and a support/comfort system that consisted of 4 men 3 of which that acted more like dogmatic & legalistic heavy-handed goons rather than supportive loving friends. Three men that caused more discomfort than they alleviated.

If ever there was a justification for suicide this was probably it but yet Job didn't take his own life.

....and then came the voice of the Lord out of the whirlwind "Who is it that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?" Just when Job probably thought it couldn't get any worse God enters the picture and he begins to realize...that he may have actually gotten off easy to this point. We should not fear anything this life can throw a us. I didn't say it wouldn't hurt or it wouldn't make us suffer, I just said we shouldn't fear it. We should instead fear The One (the only One) who can destroy not only what we have here but He can also destroy the soul.

September 21, 2010

Utopia Triumphans


Utopia Triumphans-The Great Polyphony of the Renaissance

My first three word album review: "Stunning and Mesmerizing". But seriously...

I am generally a rock n' roller. I like guitar driven rock. This includes my worship music. Strangely, I have had a fondness for chanting also since the early 90's. In my excursions on the web recently I stumbled across a form of music called Renaissance Polyphony. In music, polyphony is a texture consisting of two or more independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony) [Wiki]. The Renaissance is obviously a date or time designation. In the case of the first piece on this disc "Spem in alium" there are 40 vocals/voices (8 sopranos, 8 altos, 8 tenors, 16 basses). The effect on your eardrum and psyche [Gk ψυχή: psykhe- the soul, mind, life] is astounding. It has to be heard to be believed. A worded review will do this little justice. For a minimal fee of approximately $6-7 USD its worth the buy to download just to hear the beauty of 1-3 dozen voices singing in harmony. At the risk of sounding cliche it sounds like a chorus of angels. Regardless of your tastes in music, go spend the $7. You will not be disappointed.

1. Spem in alium - Thomas Tallis (40 voice parts)
2. Sanctus, Agnus Dei - (from the `Missa Ducalis`) - Costanzo Porta (13 voice parts)
3. Qui habitat (Psalm 90) - Josquin Desprez (24 voice parts)
4. Deo gratias - Johannes Ockeghem (36 voice parts)
5. Laudate Dominum - Pierre de Manchicourt (6 voice parts)
6. Exaudi me Domine - Giovanni Gabrieli (16 voice parts)
7. Ecce beatam lucem - Allesandro Striggio (40 voice parts)

Rating 100/100

"Polyphony - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia." Wikipedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2010.

By The Numbers

There are now more than 5686 known Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. Add over 10000 Latin Vulgate and at least 9300 other versions, and we have close to, if not more than 25000 manuscript copies or fragments/portions of the New Testament in existence today. No other document of antiquity even comes close to this total. By comparison Homer's Iliad is the second with 643 manuscripts or fragments that survive. That is a huge gap between No. 1 & No. 2. Everyone believes Homer wrote the Iliad, why wouldn't people believe apostles and gentiles that knew Christ wrote about Him?

The importance of the sheer number of manuscripts can't be overstated. To be skeptical of resultant texts of the New Testament is to allow all of classical antiquity to slide into obscurity for no other document of the ancient period is so well attested to bibliographically.

Additionally, there was virtually no interval between actual events and the autographs from which said manuscripts were transcribed from. Christ died approx 33-35AD, James was written no later than 50AD and the entire canon was probably completed by 100AD. Within 70 years of the Crucifixion and Resurrection. Paul's letters written between 50-66 A.D.

The accuracy of the manuscripts are supported by various versions. Ancient literature was rarely translated into different languages. Syriac and Latin versions exist as far back as 150 A.D. The Ryland Fragment could quite possibly date to the first century around 90-96 A.D. at the same time of, or a few years after John writing Revelation. The Ryland fragment may actually have been witness to the contemporaries of Jesus. In other words, historically, there is no gap between events and written eyewitness accounts.

Accuracy of the canon attested to by early church fathers (immediately; i.e: no gap)...even those under persecution. So people that say the Bible was was created by people in positions of power to control people...well, they should really do their homework and learn history and understand Christian Martyrdom. People would die for things they truly beleived but it is unlikely they would be willing to die for something they didn't believe it. Something else to consider: Iliad written 800 B.C., oldest/earliest known copy 400 B.C....a 400 year gap.

So...if we doubt the Bible against the certainty and evidential truth presented in the massive amount of manuscripts present to us since antiquity we must then doubt the entirety of all of western history. Why? Because you can practically take the next few dozen written pieces from from western history's antiquity and their total would not even come close to the evidence we have for the Bible, its reliability and its consistency. The illustrious list of other western sources includes: Plato, Sophocles, Aristotle, Caesar and so on and so on. If we discount the Bible...we need to discount the entirety of history.

Ravi Zacherias sums this up brilliantly:
In real terms, the New Testament is easily the best attested ancient writing in terms of the sheer number of documents, the time span between the events and the document, and the variety of documents available to sustain or contradict it. There is nothing in ancient manuscript evidence to match such textual availability and integrity (Zacherias 162).

Zacharias, Ravi K. Can Man Live Without God? Word Publishing, 1994, 162.

September 20, 2010

Triune

The nearly incomprehensible nature of the Trinity and the mystery of It is all the proof I need to believe that It is something that couldn’t have been created. It is something that needed to be revealed. What human mind could’ve ever conceived it? What of the mysteries contained in the creation itself? Who would’ve ever guessed that just the act of observing the inner workings of an atom disturb it in such a way that, by observing it, we make it impossible to know for sure the locations of subatomic particles within it. According to Werner Heisenberg it is impossible to determine simultaneously both the position and velocity of an electron or any other particle with any great degree of accuracy or certainty because by observation we disturb it. But yet it exists. Not only does it exist, without it we could not exist. Who'd have guessed that atoms are made up of mostly empty space (99.999%) and yet everything is made of atoms such as steel, rocks and other "hard" objects (my head). For something that is mostly empty space (like my head), it sure feels solid. Who could've ever imagined that atoms are held together by "forces" that science cannot completely substantiate or quantify, yet without these "forces", everything would fly apart (Hebrews 1, John 1). Everything is held in a perfect stable balance. That the very things within the atom that make up what and atom is, the "stuff" we view as the "solid" portion of the atom such as a the protons, electrons and neutrons are not necessarily matter at all but actually compressed energy...more interestingly, compressed light. So imagine all this reality around us is mostly empty space and what does fill it as matter is compressed energy. Who could've imagined it? I'll tell you who, God did. Not only imagined it He spoke it into existence. Eventually he will destroy it also. At least the version we see now.

September 19, 2010

A Patient Enemy: Tenacious & Brutally Efficient

Our life on this earth is spiritual siege warfare. As such we need to guard against temptation. The Devil and evil never sleep. There are none that are not affected by temptation. Even Jesus faced the same as us...all the temptations known to mankind. Temptations make us humble. They act as a catharsis to purge us of any lofty notions or high-mindedness. If you don't learn to get a grip on them and ask God to help you master them to some extent...they will master you. And you know what Jesus said. Man cannot serve two masters. Temptations may cause us nothing but pain but just as burning our hands on a stove hurts us, it also teaches us things that we can learn from.

If we merely ignore or try to evade a temptation without learning how to defend against it at the front gate we will make little or no progress in our sanctification and ability in the future to build tolerance or formulate strategy for fighting or avoiding temptation. If powers and principalities sense that they have made headway or inroads with little resistance, not only will they continue to pound away at the breach in the wall. They will send waves of assault to the breach in the wall with a frightening and staggering frequency until the victim is overwhelmed. It will be like one man trying to keep an entire barbarian horde from the gates of a city. As long as the one man keeps the breaches from occurring he will be relatively safe. If the powers arrayed against are attacking at multiple points, sooner or later one of this siege points will succeed and overrun you. Then what?

Temptations expose the true person beneath the facade. We can lie to others and even lie to ourselves but the temptations that we succumb to tell us immediately where the weaknesses are in our defense systems. We all have weaknesses and no single person can stand against the siege of a barbarian horde.

The enemy succeeds because of two things: tenaciousness and concerted orderly attack. The enemy uses a focused and process driven attack that is relentless in its single-minded focus. The process is deviously simple and brutally efficient

(1) The First Thought: The thought tries to / or succeeds in entering your head like a single enemy over the wall or through the gate like a Trojan Horse. The first wave of attack is to breach the wall or draw diversion while other assaults continue.

(2) The First Thought Starts to Dictate the Attitude: Resources behind the wall are diverted from the wall to fight and destroy the infiltrator that cleared the wall. This begins a weakening of the defenses at the wall itself allowing more of the unclean spirits with their sinful incendiaries over the wall.

(3) The Enemy Starts To Inflict Casualties: We begin to allow the enemy to control our actions. In the case of temptation we begin to entertain the temptation, fantasies, etc. In the analogy of our siege, so many enemy are clearing the wall and streaming in through the breach that we have need to cordon off areas as lost. We realize our defenses are being compromised left and right. We are in danger of being overrun and conquered. We must also remember that the enemy has no value of the things it destroys. To our enemy resources are expendable. The enemy will throw their entire force in a suicide frontal attack to conquer you just like Picketts Charge. As far as the enemy is concerned, their forces are inexhaustible and expendable. The incendiaries brought in earlier have ignited other fires on the inside. Temptations sprout up within the believer that they didn't even know they were capable of entertaining.

(4) The Entire Enemy Force Infiltrates: We commit the act. Our thought has turned into and attitude that has determined an action(s). The wall has been totally breached and the gate has been knocked open by the repeated blows of the battering ram. The fortress is nearly lost. Little by little our defenses were weakened and diverted from where they were needed...at the breach...until the wall could no longer be defend and the enemy within can not be surmounted with remaining forces and strength...all hope seems lost because we allowed one man/thought in through the breach.

But there is hope. Even when the scenario appears bleakest and all hope is nothing but a faint dismal spark on the horizon we still have another option. We turn and seek God fervently as our lives depend on it. We can no longer resist and fight the enemy with our own resources. We must understand the battle is still not over. But in this case it can be our victory of we call on the Lord as he is able in his omnipotence and sovereignty to conquer any enemy no matter how powerful.

How do we avoid the breach in the future? First, we must realize the enemy is doing their evil with a deadly earnest. We need to fortify the defense and assure a secondary line of defense against the first to try and breach the wall or scale the wall. That first scout or wave of assault must be stopped. We should pray first and call on God. We must not rely on our own devices and means to try to stop the the single enemy. Often times we will not even recognize or even see the first enemy as the enemy. He may enter incognito or disguised. If we cannot overcome the simple smaller attack we will never be able to stop the larger one(s).

If our actions will produce no righteous outcome we would be better off conserving our energy until we are sure our actions will produce a Godly or positive outcome. Have a plan or strategy for different types of attacks. Make sure the first line of defense is dropping to your knees in supplication to the Lord. Then send the defenses out to cordon off, quarantine and kill the enemy. Understand that your own defenses are flawed and subject to outside influence. Your willpower can be bribed by the flesh to switch sides. You cannot control all aspects of a battle, but God can.

Realize that continued attacks and vexation from an unseen (or seen) enemy helps us understand our need to depend on God and His power and might. Please realize that how we handle and deal with the temptation determines whether we win of lose the siege. If we let it in our probability of overcoming it is greatly diminished. Once the enemy is internalized it becomes an enemy hard to root out. It begins to blend in with other things partially camouflaging itself. If it wasn't for initial defenses we probably would even recognize the enemy once they are inside our walls.

We must strive to succeed. We must choose to do the right thing by fighting the temptation off. We must realize that we are not totally equipped to defeat the enemy without God so we need to always turn to Him first. We must seek Him. To build up our defenses we should desire to stay within His will and build our defense force (faith).

In the end, the day will be the Lord's and as we are in Him the victory can be ours also. If we do not turn to God we will be soundly defeated... little by little we will be worn down by sin.

[This post is loosely based on Gerhard Groote's diary (1340-1384) edited by Thomas a Kempis' (1380-1471) and Augustinian Monk]

September 17, 2010

When Does A Reprobate Realize They're Reprobate?


In Romans 1:18-32 Paul talks about the effects of sin on our knowledge of God and those effects are anything but pretty. As a matter of fact, anyone with a clear mind now should be diligent in understanding what Paul says here about sin's effects. It should terrify any obedient Christian. In effect, what it is saying is this: If you are reprobate you probably won't even know it. If you are reprobate you have already been turned over to your sin and warped/distorted thinking. You are already being punished for your sin. God has already cut you loose and you have crossed the event horizon of punishment. The point of no return. The only way you would ever be able to come back across this invisible boundary is if God Himself pulls you back in His mercy and grace.

The general understanding of the effect of sin on our knowledge of God is, in a word: “detrimental”. In the end it builds up God’s wrath on the unrighteousness which is not a real good place to be. I have chosen, more or less, a hybrid dialectic/antithetic comparison verse-by-verse where the verses were applicable as it helps address individual statements in particular verse. This also helps comparing the sin (cause) and the direct effect on humans (us).

(v. 18) …by their unrighteousness suppress the truth [Gk: aletheia]. (v.19) A truth that is “plain” and “God has shown it to them” so they are “without excuse”.
Andy’s Translation: God (Jesus) is truth (John 14:6 … I am the way, and the truth [Gk: aletheia], and the life). This is to be taken literally so they/we thereby suppress the knowledge of God by suppressing truth.

(v. 21) …although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him.

Andy’s Word’s: Intellectually they/we acknowledge that God exists as many do today but because of sin they did not acknowledge Him in the proper capacity as God, again we see a suppression of the proper reaction to a holy and omnipotent loving God which should’ve been worship and praise. Instead we have feigned/willful ignorance. Because of the above actions man/humans becomes futile in their thinking and their hearts are darkened [Gk: skotizo: obscured; reduced in clarity] (v. 21). Assuming this is the traditional Greek view of the heart this also is the center for where Greeks believed thought originate as both the heart and mind were believed to have been in the chest/breast area.

If they have already rejected God in their thinking as a result of sin, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools”. You cannot have real wisdom without a fear of God. Sinning people have little or no fear of God if they are rejecting God “since the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline” Proverbs 1:7.

Once humans reach this point they have pretty much have gone AWOL (absent without the Lord) and have begun to rely on their own works and their own volition to get things thought out and to get things done. They become idolaters (v. 23). Humans are released to pursue the own vile dishonorable passions in a continuing downward spiral of sin and sexual immorality thereby receiving the penalty for their own sin and stupidity (v. 24, 26). They serve the creation rather than the Creator. God pretty much release them to pursue their own sin with their “reprobate” minds (v. 28) to pursue them to their meaningless end which is destruction in this world and damnation in the next (v. 32). They turned wholly evil “full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness” (v. 29). They turned into gossips, slanderers, haters of God…haughty, boastful…foolish, faithless, heartless, etc. ruthless.

Unable to think clearly or righteously they begin a downward spiral of sin further corroding any ability to think clearly. A circular trap of their own devising...of their own sin. A Black Hole of sin if you will.

So the answer to the question is this: A Reprobate never realizes he's reprobate unless God intervenes in mercy and grace. Otherwise the downward spiral continues unabated. They continue until they day they die. Consequently, death will not be a release or reprieve for these types of people because I believe God will just allow these reprobates to continue their sinful pursuits in Hell as they are never satiated with these sins or they would've never continued to pursue them during their lives. Think about it folks, what is Hell. A permament seperation from God. When people were/are dwelling and wallowing in their sin here, where were their hearts and minds in relation to God? Seperated from Him. Add them together and you have a place and conditon the never allows you to know full unadulterated happiness and you are seperated from God. You spend eternity pursuing something you think you want but can never have knowing full well that it probably may not be what is best for you anyway. Whats worse is the thing that you should've chose will be forever out of your reach. It sounds nearly Sisyphean to me...it sounds like Hell.
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