July 31, 2011

λόγος I: A Prologue of The Prologue

I guess I should start from the beginning...(pun intended). I will be launching a short but succinct study of the logos/λόγος in John 1:1 as part of my Christology class for Summer I semester. The fringe benefit of having done this research paper that this writing comes from is that you the reader will also benefit from my work. I view this as all part of God's plan.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

The first thing that becomes immediately apparent when doing research on this topic is that there are a few different theories on why John uses the designation of “the Word” in the John 1:1-18 prologue, but the “who” or “what” the Word is has never been in question (except by liberal scholars). The “who” or “what” is clearly Jesus Christ in his Incarnate form. The real question is why John chose to launch his Gospel with the peculiar terminology and why he chose to call Jesus or God “the Word”. My intent in this series is to clarify the thought processes behind this peculiarity and illustrate that John’s primary motive was to show Jesus’ true identity and thereby mute potential misidentification of the Son of God. I have tried to explain the synonymous nature of the Word and Jesus as early as possible because I will be using the terms “the Word” and Jesus interchangeably throughout this series in a manner that is often times juxtaposing wordplay for effect.

Since the remainder of the posts for this study are either lengthy or very techincal I have chosen to just use this first post as a form of introduction. This is my way to explain my premise before launching into it. It is one of the more heady topics I have attempted to explain and make understandable to my readership. I am doing it because it is critical that a believing Christian understand it. I will also repeat myself a few times on the more complex areas to assure I have clearly conveyed the idea(s) I am explaining. What I am figuring is this...if I can coherently explain this topic to my readership then I may just consider becoming a Pastor/Teacher as my calling since people I respect have been trying to steer me down that path anyway. I will consider any postive repsonse to this next series of posts as a sign from God to broaden my approach to teaching also. Please give feedback with this in mind.

May God bless you and aid you in absorbing what you read in this short series.


July 30, 2011

The Little Engine of Faith That Could

"And getting into a boat he crossed over and came to his own city. And behold, some people brought to him a paralytic, lying on a bed. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." And behold, some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins"—he then said to the paralytic—"Rise, pick up your bed and go home." And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men." Matthew 9:1-8

"It can't be done!"

Ever hear this before? At work? At home?

"Trust me, I'm an expert, it can't be done!"

It's a defeatist attitude AND a complete lack of faith.

What compelled these men to carry this paralytic to Jesus? Compelled...they came together lugging this poor invalid. Compelled...they were sure Jesus could heal this man. Their faith compelled them. The power of Christ compelled them. Having reached the home they realized the entrance is blocked, yet they are further compelled. So what do they do? Wait their turn? Turn around and carry the invalid back home? No way!

When you hit what seems like an impenetrable obstacle moments from your destination do you?:

(a) Stand outside the door and whine?
(b) Throw your arms up in the air and complain?
(c) Stare at the sky and murmur under your breath?
(d) Stand around looking stupid with a vapid look on your face?
(e) Complete the journey through all means and tools available to you?

These men along with the paralytic pursue Plan "E" which consisted of climbing up on the house and ventilating the roof. Please understand I am scripting this for dramatic effect...

[Man #1]: "Dude, the door is blocked! Some hypocritical Pharisee is in the way!"
[Man #2]: "Aww man! All I see is the back of people's fat heads. All this way just to stare at some dude's bald spot"
[Man #3]: "Anybody seen my sandal? My strap came loose carrying him up here and now I can't find it."
[Man #4]: "Hey, why don't we climb on the roof and poke a hole in it, then drop him down right in front of Jesus?"
[Paralytic]: "Poke a hole in whaaa... and drop me where?!?! Dude? What if you drop me?"
[Man #1, 2 & 3]: "Right! Great idea! Yes yes! Brilliant! Brilliant! Then we can all go out for wine and biscuits."

[-Sound of hammering, snapping and a muffled conversation...then light breaks through the ceiling]

[All including paralytic in a unified accord]: "Excuse us, look out below, pardon us, paralyzed man coming down, please step back so no one gets hurt!"

...and then this paralytic just about lands on Jesus' lap.

"Take heart, my son; your sins are forgiven." says Jesus with a radiant amiable look on His face.

So what are some of the things we learn here? Do we learn that paralytics are way too trusting of their friends? Do we learn that a paralytics friends are impatient and somewhat impulsive? Perhaps. One of the things we learn is that at some point they began to say to themselves at least mentally, "I believe He can". More than likely we see that a fellowship of believers can often get things done that are difficult or impossible for individual believers. More than likely Jesus had a real good sense of humor and so did the owners of the home that now had a skylight in their roof (literally). The power of Christ and His attraction to the faithful is undeniable.

Inspired by a mixture of Spirit, tenacity, ingenuity, skill and dogged will, men can surmount what seems to impossible odds when given the will and desire to pursue Jesus Christ. The power of the Spirit will not be denied. As believers, the power of Christ compels us to levels of holiness and righteousness we didn't know we were capable of. With Christ working in our lives we overcome all earthly obstacles, even suffering and death.

Jesus tells the man, "Rise, pick up your bed and go home."

What one faithful man was unable to accomplish alone, was made easy by many faithful men working in unity. A unity forged as all involved believed the same thing. A single purpose, a single goal. Jesus can heal and remove man's sins. Not only did they bear witness to it but so did the entire crowd...all of the bystanders. They were awed by His power.

"It can be done?"

Yes it can

"If you can!" said Jesus. "Everything is possible for him who believes." Mark 9:23

In the end Jesus heals this paralytic. Not only is it the power of God that heals this man but also to work of the Spirit that drives both he and his friends to the extreme that they go to to get to Jesus. It is as if the are being inexorably dragged to Jesus even if it means going through a wall, or in this case a roof. The men's faith goes beyond that of just healing, the paralytic's sins are forgiven here too which is even more important than the healing. What we really begin to see in this episode is the Kingdom starts to break through into time and space and it is solicited by faith.What a glorious thing this is to behold. Have you seen this in your life? I believe I may have a few times and it moves heaven and earth when I see it. It is often fleeting and does not linger long because it persists only as long as the faith of the observer stays intact.

What is sure at this point in the story of the paralytic is something incredibly special happened as they all marvelled and feared as this passage is closed out. We see a glimpse of what it will be like when Jesus comes back to reign in power and glory. I believe I have witnessed this on a few occasions in my life also. A fleeting but glorious and beautiful image or outcropping of the Kingdom. The Kingdom of a transcendent God...Jesus Christ.


Hard Sayings II: Salty Salt

"Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other." Mark 9:50

The question is always inevitable in every Bible study. Some wise acre always asks it: "How can salt lose it saltiness?" If salt is salt it always remains salty, right?

Salt was rarely found in its pure refined state as we are used to in today's world. Organic salt was usually loaded with impurities and other minerals. Where it wasn't mixed in properly people would actually mix earth or minerals in with it on purpose. This would give its texture and in the cast of ingesting, its taste. When the salt having been constituted like this was exposed to moisture either directly or in moist air the salt would literally leach out of the compound making a salt "without salt" or a salt without saltiness. Therefore it would be good for nothing because without the salt being in the salt there would be little or no taste and there would be no preservational properties to the salt that it was often used for. It would then be useless or as Luke puts it succinctly:

"It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out." Luke 14:35

Salt as a preserving effect or added zest is the idea we are looking at here also. If salt does not have these effects or properties, what good is it? Its flat, lifeless (a characteristic that can also be said of people) and doesn't do what its suppose to. Its useless, why keep it around?

We must take this a step further and look at the context. Jesus had just finished referring to the fires of Gehenna. Why does a comment about salt follow a statement about it being better to go through life maimed than to be sent to Hell (Gehenna) with one's limbs intact?

The transition statement and our clarification lies in Mark 9:49:

"Everyone will be salted with fire."

There were fires that burned continuously in a dump south of Jerusalem (Gehenna) to burn waste and avoid the spread of disease in the city. This is where we get the idea in Mark 9:48 that "the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched" in Hell comes from. Maggots constantly crawled in, on and through this dump and the fires were always kept burning. Fire had a purifying purpose as did salt...and judgment also. This is the key. The meaning of this transition is that the fire would be a fire of persecution and it will have a refining or purifying affect on the lives of those that believe. There is also a high probabilty that there is a cross-reference to Leviticus 2:13 that states:

"Season all your grain offerings with salt. Do not leave the salt of the covenant of your God out of your grain offerings; add salt to all your offerings." Leviticus 2:13

All of this points to a theme for a Christian. Any Christian that endures persecution will be cleansed therefore becoming a more acceptable offering to God. Think about folks. God doesn't want dead lambs and your works, He wants you! He wants your heart! What forges and strengthens one's faith and turns one's heart to God? Hardship, persecution and a profound understanding of dependence on Him. Who else would be suitable to be a leader that is capable of becoming a discipler for a disciple. What did Christ eventually endure? Persecution. What did His followers endure? Persecution. What do they continue to endure? Persecution.

How does Jesus conclude the matter? He simply states, "Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.” We must understand that salt had multiple properties and Jesus is addressing that in a follower or disciple of Him. In this case he is talking about the Rabbinic teaching that salt is wisdom or zest of life. He is telling His disciples to be wise and respond with wit and character or with the zest of life rather than being lifeless or flat like insipid salt or a salt with no flavor...a saltless salt.

I will add one more thing to this not found in the text. Jesus also tells us in Matthew that we are the salt of the earth. I have a question for you. Do you like salt on your corn, on a burger? Do you like a pinch of it here to add a gradual flavor or do you dump the whole shaker on your plate. Salt is powerful folks, it don't take much to season food. Keep that in mind the next time your decide to season someone elses life with Jesus Christ. Odds are, they won't be needing the whole salt shaker. ;)

July 29, 2011

Hard Sayings I: Why Call Me Good?

I told you these were coming...and they are now here. The first of the hard sayings of Jesus. The ones that people can't stomach because of what they require of the believer/non-believer or because they are just downright perplexing and hard to understand.

Mark 10:18 & Luke 18:19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone.

You've heard it about many verses, "See! I told you, the Bible's full of mistakes and contradictions! Look right there ---> (Xxxxxx)  Jesus is saying He's not good. If He's God He has to be! If this is true than He can't be God or its a mistake!"

A rich man comes up to Jesus, flops down on is knees before him and spouts out “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Long before answering the actual question, I imagine Jesus looks down with a quizzical look and asks him, "Why do you call me good?" 

A high regard for someone, a word of description this important or implying that one is "good" as opposed to evil is never to be used lightly. In other words, it should not be used as "small talk" to loosen-up or "butter up" an intended reciever to possibly get a response one is looking for as opposed to the truth. Speak frankly or shut-up. Why use $20 words when $2 ones work just fine. In the case of this man, he appears to have used it as "small talk" and used it too lightly. It is not just a word to be bantered around. The word descibes something that is an attritbute of God. God is good. When Jesus said people were good...you can bet He meant it as truth and it was a description based in reality of the person or thing. This rich dude, not so much.

No man is altogether good like God. Human beings are only good in the manners that they reflect God. When we aspire to what God has commanded us which is to solidify a proper holy relationship with a holy God, it is then that we are good. It certainly is not when we think we are doing good by our own flawed measure. Tell me if this sounds familiar. "I'll probably go to heaven because I believe I have been a good person." Good luck. You go to heaven by having faith in the work of Christ and on our behalf not because we are good by our own or the world's standard. Having this faith means that you will also manifest the fruits of a righteous life, accepting isn't all of the story. A transformed life is also.

In reality the question reads like this in the Greek:

διδάσκαλε ἀγαθέ, τί ποιήσω ἵνα ζωὴν αἰώνιον κληρονομήσω
Teacher!-Good!-What-I be doing [for] life eternal-I will inherit

The rich man is asking what he can do [in deed] to inherit eternal life.  Answer: There is nothing he can do. He need only have faith in what Jesus is soon to do on the Cross or have faith in the promises of God.

Jesus' reply is what? "Why do you call me good?"
In Greek it reads like this:

Τί με λέγεις ἀγαθόν; οὐδεὶς ἀγαθὸς εἰ μὴ εἷς ὁ θεός.
Why-me-you are saying-good-no one good-if-no-one-the-God.

Jesus is making a veiled but definitive statement about both humanity and their motives and about His true identity. There is no indication from this rich man that he viewed Jesus as God. The rich man addressed Him as teacher/rabbi not Messiah, the Christ or Son of God. Noting this Jesus turns the table on his questioner. Jesus isn't just realtively "good" in relation to other humanity who are good in varying levels (most often low levels of good) compared to God. Jesus IS the good or goodness personified in human form. So what is He really saying here? What does the Bible say about Jesus' goodness?

2 Corinthains 5:21 "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

1 John 3:5 "But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin."

Jesus was entirely and completely good. So a little thinking leads us to beleive that not only was he human...he was also divine...and He states as much here in a veiled rhetorical question form. Think about it folks. Jesus is answering the question, "what must I do to be saved?" Jesus essentially responds that there is no act of of humanity or good in humans that would accomplish this. Jesus points directly to God. Then makes the following statement:

Mark 10:19-21 "You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven."

...and how does Jesus finish?

"Then come, follow Me.”

Jesus is saying He is the way to eternal life here. If only someone truly good can be the way and only God is truly good, then Jesus is God because He is very clear who he tells the rich man to follow. Jesus is unveiling something else here also. By telling him to relieve himself of all his earthly goods and follow him even after the rich man said that he had followed the commandments which was not a boast...it is clear what Jesus implies here. The man asked what is required to be "saved" and Jesus points away from the commandments (Law)...

...to Himself. God. Jesus. He (Jesus) that is truly good and can save him.

(BTW, this argument against Jesus' divinity from this passage is often used by the Jehovah's Witness.)

One other thing we should probably note in this passage is the latter portion in which Jesus shows what is demanded from the mind and heart of a true Christian. what does Jesus tell the Rich Man to do?

"Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth." Mark 10:21-22

Go sell everything. Does this bother you? Ruffle your feathers at all? If you are like three-quarters of people in the world it will. Just as Jesus had said in other passages like Luke 9:59-62:

"He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”

God would only ask something be taken away from you if it distracted you from following Him or what would be of eternal importance to you. If you eternal reward is jeopardized it is a safe bet that what ever that risk is it is an impediment that needs removal from your life. You must keep something in mind. Jesus would not have and will not ask something of you just to see you suffer senselessly. In the story of the rich man above the idea is stewardship of money and resources and how they affect a human heart. The man's worldly riches affected his heart adversely and that is why Jesus told him to divest himself of it. Jesus knew what was really in the man's heart (supernaturally) and for his own good tells him to get rid of it because it had a corrupting influence on his soul. The man chose not to thereby rejecting Jesus in the process.

There are different ways to be good stewards of the materials and resources God has put at our disposal. If wealth or material goods ever stands in out way of complete and absolute allegiance to Jesus Christ...then we must rid ourselves of it (this includes your books pastors and theologians).

The fact that Jesus did not command all His disciples to divest themselves of all their earthly goods is only comfort to those that He would actually need to issue the command to today. Just some food for thought.

July 28, 2011

A Post I Was Hoping to Avoid: On Roman Catholicism

I knew sooner than later I was going to be confronted with issues about Roman Catholicism and I have avoided the topic so to avoid a pronounced fact driven polemic. If it isn't brutally obvious from 700+ posts in the last 2 years, I am Protestant. I am Protestant for a reason. I have tried to get along with brethren of all denoms as is evident by my willingness to friend just about everyone on Facebook and preach sermons x-denominationally (Lutheran, Baptist, etc) except where denominations refused to have me.

I have now been backed into a corner and at the risk of angering and alienating all of my Roman Catholic friends I must now clear the waters. When presented with false teaching I believe I have been called to correct it where I find it. I am in no way going after Roman Catholics themselves, I am going after the Roman Catholic Church or the institution itself and some of its false teaching as addressed in recent posted comment here: The Inerrancy of Scripture III: God's Decrees, Embody His Word. I know many Roman Catholics and many reside right within my own family (blood relatives). If I didn't love them I would lie to them. I do love them so I will address this issue tentative but firmly. The RCC has perpetuated false teachings for centuries and there are more than I will mention here as this is response to my previous post because of space constraints. I will document the most objectionable false teaching of the RCC from a/my evangelical point of view. Again, I am posting this here as a post because I was limited to a 5000 word response and that is not nearly enough space to correct what was been a proliferation of errant dogma for over a millennium. First, let me present the comment from a reader. Sadly, it started as an accolade and then turned into a case study of patchwork theology created by the Catholic Church.

"Anonymous said...

Amen. This love and belief in the inerrancy of the Bible is what led me home to the Catholic Church under the protection and care of Christ's appointed shepherd (Pope Benedict XVI currently). The Church gave us the Scriptures and has protected them from tampering (e.g.- Martin Luther's removal of St James, part of Hebrews and seven other books as well as adding the word "alone" to his "translation").

May God bless you.

...and now my response that Blogger wouldn't allow because it was too long-winded:

Assuming this is not Philsthrills trying to deliberately push my buttons, I will respond at length to this comment. As you should probably be able to ascertain from many of my posts I do not subscribe to Roman Catholicism. I admire many adherents of the RCC because of their true desire to believe but their "shepherds" have clearly been leading their sheep astray for a long time (perhaps they themselves are led astray aslo?). I believe there are many within the RCC that have been saved throughout the ages but not due to the orthodoxy or dogma of the RCC proper. As such I must correct certain statements about the RCC or "the Church" and add some of my own.

Not sure where to start here...hmmm.

God gave us the Scripture through inspiration of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ, not the Church proper (RCC), I will concede that the church helped protect Scripture from annihilation by the powers of the dark for a few centuries (dark ages) until the advent of the printing press and the ability of everyday people to read and internalize the Scripture in something other than Latin (i.e.: the Reformation). As for the comment about Luther, yes he thought James and Hebrews were questionable (admittedly). This is based in firm exegesis by Luther. The prose and style of Greek in Hebrews is odd (graceful and fluent) and Luther stumbled on the whole "faith without works" portion in James. Conversely, in relation to your comment about Luther, this did not prevent the RCC from including non-canonical books into the Canon after the Council of Trent in 1545 as a support for purgatory and the idea of indulgences (among other things) that Luther decried even when the books are clearly not at the level of other Canon in terms of inerrancy or other canonical criteria. Suffice to say: They disqualify themselves from Canon with what they contain.

The Pope, cardinals, bishops, etc are not Christ's only appointed "shepherd(s)" as the RCC will have you believe. The RCC assumes papal lineage back to Peter based on statement of Christ in Matthew 16:13–19 that has been dubiously interpreted and is oft referred to as the Petrine guarantee. Tracing Papal lineage pre-Constantine is dubious at best (as there are substantial / insurmountable gaps and the Bible never assumes this lineage to begin with, the RCC does). It assumes the RCC interpreted the Matthew passage correctly (which I believe was taken out of context to mean Peter, instead of the truth of what Peter stated, that –Jesus is the Son of the Living God)—a.k.a.: the stone, Jesus the cornerstone of the Church (Ephesians 2:20). The rest of us are only disciples and followers. The apostles were picked by Christ through mercy and grace as ordinary men, not exception men. This was done (specifically) to show that any can enter discipleship with Christ, all they need is faith in Jesus Christ. There is no hierarchy "in Christ".

"There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galations 3:28.

The idea of elevating Peter over other Apostles as a basis for the inception of papal lineage and the Catholic Church itself  is contrary to the understanding of discipleship that Jesus taught and Paul expounded upon in Ephesians and is therefore errant and runs rogue of Scripture. It also is contrary to equality in Christ taught in letters like Philemon where Onesimus as a doulos / slave was Paul's equal as an imprisoned but full fledged Roman citizen. Philemon was to accept Onesimus back as an equal to Paul or "αὐτὸν ὡς ἐμέ---auton os eme"..."him as me". Paul did not send Onesimus back to Philemon...he sent himself via Onesimus. Onesimus acted as Paul's agent.

De Ecumenismo 4 of the RCC states that, “As the obstacles to perfect ecclesiastical communion are overcome, all Christians will be gathered, in a common celebration of the Eucharist, into that unity of the one and only Church which Christ bestowed on His Church from the beginning. This unity, we believe, subsists in the [Roman] Catholic Church as something she can never lose, and we hope that it will continue to increase until the end of time"

De Ecumenismo 3 of the RCC states, “It is into the Church of Rome then that all those people who belong in any way to God's people should be incorporated."

De Ecumenismo 3 also states, “For it is through Christ's Catholic Church alone, which the all-embracing means of salvation is, that the fullness of the means of salvation can be obtained."

The RCC has no authority to make these claims, nor are these claims Biblical which is my measuring stick for truth. I, as an Evangelical, do not accept the claim that the Church of Rome is the only true church, nor that its supreme teaching office is free from all error in matters of belief, nor that the road that leads to Rome is the way to unity.

Papal Infallibility is exceptionally unbiblical and is a recent "official" creation. This was not even an official Papal Bull until 1870. Christ is clearly the only infallible man to ever walk this earth. Not the Popes (plural, as there have been many). The justification and righteousness of Christ is imputed to believers, not infallibility. The infallibility Papal Bull is the logical fallout of the belief that the RCC itself is infallible and speaks for God. This is cleary wrong and has no Scriptural support. The RCC also believes that it is the only acceptable interpreter of Scripture. This is also cleary wrong and has no Scriptural support either.

Speaking of errors, the worship/veneration of Mary is the most disagreeable to me. This is the largest and most dangerous doctrine to ever come from the RCC church next to the veneration of the saints or the idea that anyone other than Jesus Christ can act as mediator to God the Father.

At the Second Council of Nicea (787) a distinction was made between the veneration due to the saints (dulia) and the worship (atria) due to God alone. Already, then, Mary was regarded as being in a class by herself, and the veneration given to her was called huperdulia. Gradually Mary came to be regarded not only as a witness to the gospel, an example to follow, but also as a "supernatural friend" who could help in the difficulties of life. By the sixteenth century, as evidenced by the spiritual struggles of the Reformers, the image of Mary had largely eclipsed the centrality of Jesus Christ in the life of believers. A further decisive step in the development of Marian dogma was taken in 1854 with the promulgation of the papal bull, Ineffabilis Deus.
"We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."
In it Pius IX declared the immaculate conception of the ever-blessed Virgin Mary. By Vatican I it had become official. This dogma is absolutely absurd and not supported by Scripture in any form. I challange anyone to prove otherwise evidentially. Mary was a woman (most blessed among women) that was bestowed grace and given the privilege to bear the Son of God after an immaculate conception of the Holy Spirit when He overshadowed her. She was a normal woman picked by God for an exceptional task that ended up dying (not ascending bodily into heaven). She was then buried/entombed in the ground just like every woman previous and every woman that would follow after her. Again, like the disciples, God picked her because of her normalcy not her exceptionalism. The idea of elevating anyone other than Christ takes away from Christ. Mary was picked to be Jesus' mother exactly because she was normal and ordinary...this then showed the exceptional nature of Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit not Mary.

More objectionable is this: Pope Pius XII defined in Munificentissimus Deus (The most bountiful God) the dogma of the heavenly assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The decree was promulgated on November 1, 1950. Here the key passage reads:
“From all eternity and by one and the same decree of predestination the august Mother of God is united in a sublime way with Jesus Christ; immaculate in her conception, a spotless virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble companion of the divine Redeemer who won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, she finally obtained as the crowning glory of her privileges to be preserved from the corruption of the tomb and, like her Son before her, to conquer death and to be raised body and soul to the glory of heaven, to shine refulgent as Queen at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of ages.”
This is absolutely heretical bar none. She is nearly brought to the level of Jesus Christ with a statement as presumptuous as, "preserved from the corruption of the tomb" and "like her Son before her". Really? Where is the Scriptural proof for that? Show me where. Here Mary is seen "not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of man's salvation through faith and obedience." She is the "mother to us in the order of grace."…according to the RCC.

The dogmatic affirmations of her immaculate conception, her perpetual virginity, and her assumption into heaven in bodily form totally lack biblical foundation. Nor is there biblical basis for titles such as "Queen of Heaven," "Mother of the Church," and "Queen of all Saints," nor is there any Biblical evidence for the belief that she constantly intercedes in behalf of believers. In any other situation, the Queen of Heaven moniker would constitute a New Age belief tantamount to being cultic but because it is the Catholic Church it is accepted as orthodoxy instead being questioned as obvious error.

I could continue on ad nauseum about other things like:

The errant doctrine/dogma of Justification by Works, Sacramentalism / Eucharist, transubstantiation, ritualism/"vain repetition" (which has been raised to a syncretistic artform in Latin American countries), willingness to acclimate, embrace and absorb liberal theology (i.e.: Vatican II) and finally... the overall ostentatious and flamboyant nature of the Vatican and Romanization of the Church which includes massive cathedrals, enormous land holdings and gold-plated everything, etc...

The Son of Man had not place to rest His head, why would the Church be any different when Jesus clearly said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me".... ? If you still haven't "unfriended" me after this or "unjoined" and are interested in my views on these other topics I can always type them for another post. Either way contact me in the comments section.

I must now force myself to desist from further comments upon risk of offending those I love to the point of not even being able to communicate the true message of Christ. Truth about the Gospel or Jesus often solicits anger against the one speaking the Truth. As Jesus said:

"Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also (John 15:20)."

"For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake." (2 Corinthians 4:5)

"For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 26-31)

It would suffice to say that many of these aforementioned beliefs/dogma are manufactured by the Roman Catholic Church and have no Biblical support whatsoever...none. The RCC is an institution that has assumed more authority than it rightfully should have or is afforded. It is allowed this authority because people unsuspectingly and often innocently give it to them out of fear or doubts about their salvation. Please read your Bible and stop allowing yourself to be betrayed and deceived by the errant dogma of the RCC that left much of the true teaching of Jesus and Scripture a long time ago. Your soul is at stake. Prayer, proper exegesis/interpretation and guidance of the Holy Spirit is enough for you to come away from the Bible understanding it correctly.

I have been mostly civil and fully factual in this response, please reciprocate if you feel the need to comment. If you flame me I will dump you and your comment and will ban you from the site. No ad hominem or personal attacks allowed. :) Good day.

The Inerrancy of Scripture III: Become God's Decrees, Embody His Word

So what do all these prophecies and Gospel narratives tell us to believe about Scripture? They tell us that prophecies about John the Baptist are uncannily accuracate. Even though John is not the main focus of Scripture and John the Baptist is lesser in nature than Jesus all the prophecy about him are dead accurate

John…a mere predecessor to Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the true centrality of Scripture and the main character of Scripture and the One Whom all Scripture speaks.

We see all (4) Gospels repeat certain things about John the Baptist with certainty.

(1) By the Gospels repeating / reaffirming one another they produces their own internal evidence and validate themselves.

(2) John the Baptist fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 that he’s the predecessor to the Lord

(3) Because of being a predecessor John fulfills the requirement of the Messenger of Malachi that will precede the Messenger of the Covenant who is the Lord Jesus Christ

(4) John the Baptist purpose is clear according to Matthew, Mark & Luke... “he’s preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”

It is here that the rubber meets the road. It is here we see all roads lead to Jesus Christ.
i. The OT Scripture points to the Messenger or the one who “will prepare the way for the Lord”
ii. The Messenger John, is pointing the way to “repentance and forgiveness”
iii. The Messenger John, is pointing the way to “repentance and the One who can forgive sin
iv. All these factors circle in on Jesus Christ in a tightening spiral.
v. All of these things zero in on Jesus like a target.
vi. All of these things make Jesus the target for Crucifixion and Resurrection
vii. All of these rings zero in on the Centrality of Scripture: Jesus
viii. As the facts zero in they become increasingly detailed
ix. As the facts zero in they become increasingly clear
x. All foretell of a Messiah that will forgive their sins
xi. Exactly as foretold/foreseen in Scripture

It is a plan folks…plain as day it’s a plan…just as I outlined it here.

God in His wisdom was painstaking in detailing aspects of John the Baptist’s life up to 700 years ahead of time. How much more does this speak to accuracy of prophecy about His only begotten Son? If Bible can be trusted with painstakingly details of John the Baptist, and Old Testament style prophet in the desert near the Jordon River it certainly can be trusted w/ details concerning Jesus. Especially Jesus’ death and Resurrection according to Scripture. And this is exactly what we see in Bible HUNDREDS OF TIMES! The prophecies of Bible have never been wrong. Jesus’ Birth, Life and Death fulfilled over 300 of them. The odds of even a dozen of them being fulfilled by one man borders on impossible, 100’s make the story of Jesus’ life divinely planned. Hundreds of individual prophecies by many people...all equal Jesus. Astounding! Even Paul alludes to the importance of the accuracy of Scripture and its roll in validating the Gospel of Jesus Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

"For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures”

So why is inerrancy and accuracy of Scripture so important to you? Let me pose these questions and the answer to my question becomes obvious.

Question #1: What do all heresies have in common?
Answer: They doubt something that was in the Word of God-Thereby doubting God Himself

Question #2: What do all the backslidings of Israel in the OT have in common?
Answer: They either doubt something that is in the word of God-Thereby doubting God
Answer: Or they disobeyed the word-Thereby disobeying God

Question #3: How many sins or disobedient acts did man commit the Garden to cause the Fall of man?
Answer: ONE!

Question #4: How many sins can send you to Hell if you do not repent?
Answer: ONE!

Question #5: What do we conclude from this line of reasoning?
Answer: Every disobedient act matters!!! To doubt the Bible is disobedience to God, therefore it is SIN!

If Scripture is truly inerrant (which  I believe it is) then when it tells you you’re justified and declared righteous in Christ by faith…you are. When it tells you you’re justified and declared righteous… you’ll be saved from sin…and you are given the gift of eternal life. On flip side of the coin: If you don’t believe in inerrancy all these things are thrown into question. The Bible then dissolves into a meaningless No-Man’s Land that is subject to the interpretation of sinful man. The Devil will attack Scripture first since it is an easiest target. It is God’s revealed Word/Will to man. It is mankind’s main link God. By destroying belief in the truth of Bible the Devil breaks a main link between man and God. By breaking/confusing this link man becomes confused in disobedience and disarray.

On the flipside: God states these things about His word: God commanded us to read Scripture and commit it to our hearts. To internalize it, make it part of who we are

[The Shema] Deuteronomy 6:1- 9 “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, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. Hear, Israel, and be careful to obey so that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you. Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

What value is there in Scripture? Let’s look at what God says about His own word

Scripture is Pure-Psalms 12:6 - The words of the LORD are pure words, like silver refined in a furnace on the ground, purified seven times.

Scripture is Supreme-Psalms 138:2 - I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word

Scripture is Nourishing-Matthew 4:4 - But Jesus answered, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"

Scripture is Precious-Psalms 119:14 -In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. Psalms 119:72 - The law (Torah) of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces. Psalm 119:127 - Therefore I love your commandments above gold, above fine gold. Psalms 119:162 - I rejoice at your word like one who finds great spoil.

Scripture is Complete-Proverbs 30:5-6 “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.

In the end, for any human to call Scripture into question as untrue is to question God. It is an attempt to trump God’s authority and make themself the authority. This sounds dangerously like an Idol and this is unbiblical. Man is not the highest authority, GOD IS! If people do not get this foundation principle right …all other truths unravel. We are then doomed to judgment and doomed to be eternally seperated from a holy God. We as Christians need to get this right. Inerrancy and Infallibility of the Bible is foundational to our Christian Faith.

Scripture is inerrant. To deny this is to deny your Christian faith. To doubt things in the Bible is to doubt God Therefore its disobedience to God. Therefore it is SIN.

Go read and believe your Bible! It is the only absolute truth you will see in this life.

July 27, 2011

The Inerrancy of Scripture II: Confirmation of The Truth

We enter New Testament and in the NT there are (4) mentions of John the Baptist’s ministry. One in each of the Gospels. This is significant because  anything repeated in the Bible is of upmost importance. the Bible being finite in scope only offers so much room to convey information to men. If God deemed it necessary to repeat Himself four times it was important that we noticed and internalize those things

Matthew 3:1-6 John the Baptist Prepares the Way

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”
John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. Matthew 3:1-6

We must understand that Matthew writes to show Jesus is the Messiah of the Jewish Old Testament. So it is not surprising to see John the Baptist described similar toa  Jewish Old Testament prophets as he will be the last of them. John’s clothes were made of Camel hair and he wore a leather belt. We see similar wordage in Zechariah 13:4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision. They will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive.”

We also see the explicit mention of Isaiah prophecy of Isaiah 40:3 and it will be mentioned in each Gospel account that follows. This thereby shows the connection and perfection of O. T. prophetic Scriptures to their fulfillment in the New Testament.

Mark 1:2-6 Repeats the same narrative with slight variations

"As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way…a voice of one calling in the wilderness, “repare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.”
And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey."

The difference is Mark’s Gospel is a Gospel of action and doing things. In Mark we see usage of the word εὐθέως / euthus 41x in Greek: iImmediately. Mark then adds something new or at least words it differently:
"And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River."

It is here we start to see the heart of the matter. The true flow of the undercurrent of Scripture. These prophets were not just pointing to another prophet. These prophecies were not only about John but Jesus and the Scripture. The prophecies about John point to John but who is John pointing to? This is what the entire Old Testament was pointing at. All OT sacrifices and prophecies pointed forward to a day when the Messiah or the King that John speaks of would come. A King or Messiah that would grant forgiveness of sin. It’s in repentance and willingness to humble oneself and change the condition of the heart that the Kingdom comes to earth. It comes through Jesus Christ and it comes through His true disciples.

This is how the Baptist eventually puts the focus on Jesus and this is where we see the focus shift. John conditions or paves people’s heart and minds to be focused on what mattered: “Repentance and Forgiveness". In this way John lays the ground work for Jesus. The King

Luke is more detailed and explicit.

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him”. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all people will see God’s salvation.”  Luke 3:1-6

Luke is a physician. He’s concerned with facts and details. As we see he is writing a detailed orderly account for Theophilus of “things…that have been fulfilled among us”. Fulfilled implies prophecy folks!! So it is not surprising to read exact dating in accordance with reigns of leaders (which is how things were dated in those times). Dating to the reigns of kings and leaders in Luke links God to history. In this way Luke shows us that Scripture and Prophecy is fulfilled in history. Luke shows that things foretold in history actually came true in history. This shows Scripture is not only true…it’s also extremely accurate.

John being most concerned with showing Jesus' divinity ironically shows some of the most human elements of both John and Jesus.John’ narrates the story of John the Baptist but he writes is different from the other Gospels since it is keeping in step with his purposes.

Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him [John] who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.” Finally they said, “Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’” John 1:19-23

In John’s Gospel we see a frank statement from John. John the Baptist denies being the Messiah. Why? Because the writer John’s purpose in writing his gospel is stated plainly in John 20:31

John 20:30-31states:  “Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

John wrote so that we may believe Jesus was truly the Son of God. John the writer doesn’t want you confused or to misunderstand him. John the Baptist’s ministry is indeed in accordance with Scripture. As it affirms prophetic Scripture Mentioning Isaiah and Malachi. In the narrative of John the Baptist we’ve seen a character similar to Jesus clearly stepping down or backing off when Jesus comes into the picture. Because what is of more importance than John is clearly Jesus. John was only an arrow pointing to the target.

John 1:26-27“ John answered them, "I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie."

This is a reference to the status of slaves. Slaves that undid sandals and washed dirty feet were the lowest form of slave. John is saying that he isn’t even worthy to be this type of slave.

John 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

The Baptist’s role was to be the forerunner for Christ, not the Christ Himself. He is only the predecessor to the Lamb of God. We hear this from John's own mouth.

John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

July 26, 2011

Aggressively Inarticulate

We live in a world where they've stolen my language and twisted it. I want it back and I want it straightened out too. I want truth to mean truth, and light to mean light again.

Just like George Orwell penned in his novel 1984, words have been perverted and deconstructed only to be reconstructed to mean something they don't mean.

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

Black is White and White is Black
...but only when "they" say so.

Love used to mean something sacred not sex.

Hate use to have a purposeful but negative connotation not just a word that that people tossed at others because you didn't like their view.

Differing opinions were differing opinions not "hate speech"

Liberal and liberation used to mean freedom not oppression.

Believing in something was conviction and you were willing to stand behind that conviction and back it up with words and actions if need be.

There was only one absolute truth, now everyone is correct.

There was only one truth not a construct of the state or society's leaders, privileged classes, and institutions of power to manipulate the masses.

Laws were based on inalienable rights given to us by God not based on case law and decisions handed down by other judges based in their opinions and their godless capriciousness.

Inclusive meant including someone or something not excluding them because they don't agree with you.

Where sin was called sin not pro-choice, tolerance or an alternative lifestyle.

Where tolerance was a form of forgiveness and not an excuse for ignoring blatantly obvious sin or ignoring people that chose to live immoral lives.

Where diversity was a strength and enriched culture not an excuse to give certain people unfair advantages and the right to discriminate against a host culture or the majority.

Gender was determined by your genes and chromosomes not your opinions or perception of reality or based in a social construct.

That terminologies or words themselves were interpreted not deconstructed. That words themselves have actual and absolute meanings in their context and that there was a single authorial intent when they are/were written not a myriad of possible interpretations by the readers, each one subjecive.

People use to be call men men and women women not human resources.

Where you were sexually promiscuous or sexually immoral not sexually active.

Where criminals were called criminals not behaviorally disadvantaged or societal victims or victims of the system or "the man".

Illegal Aliens were people in a country illegally not Undocumented Workers.

When someone failed a test they actually recieved and "F" not a "Unsatisfactory but Passing" grade or a second chance based on their societal orientation or whether the School Board considered them disadvantaged enough so that they could meet the quota for funding from the Federal government.

Where "new and improved" actually meant something better or bigger not that it was produced or made more cheaply or produced faster by the manufacturer with fancier packaging that said "New and Improved".

While we're on the topic of companies making things. I want "quality" to actually be a quantifiable characteristic of something I buy. I want to be able to see and feel the quality in an item I buy. I do not want it to be a label given to a product by a corporation because the paperwork process and process behind how its made has been streamlined to produce an inferior product and still charge the same price or more.

I want peoples thinking to stop being like this: "I really want you to see it my way but if it really offends you, you do not really have to listen to me and your way is okay too. We're all okay. Are you okay? I feel okay about myself today, I have good self-esteem. Ya know? We don't really need an absolute truth to adhere to as long as we can get along and feel good about ourselves too, right?"

The list goes on but my patience for deliberate disinformation does not. When you cannot pinpoint through terminologies or words what something is or isn't you cannot identify it. If you cannot identify you cannot say with certitude what is right or wrong. If nothing can be determined to be right or wrong than chaos and anarchy ensues.

Isaiah 5:20-22 ~ "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!"

We have become the most aggressively inarticulate generation in history that has emphatically and insistently had nothing to say...and we have been aggressively and ardently inarticulating nothing for a while now. You hear things similar to this now, "That's a lot of words to say nothing" or "he/she is all filler, no substance". The truth is, according to the world I cannot determine the exact date for you that this nonsense started because that would actually require me to produce facts and actually blame someone or a particular generation. We're not about blaming people and fault finding anymore either, are we? There is no one at fault now, is there? There are only victims, no victimizers. Oh! Wait! Unless you consider people like me, the judgmental "meanie" Christian who is simply trying to live to a code that the culture won't allow me to live by because of obtrusive laws that tell me my code is not inclusive enough. I thought living by a code by its very nature WAS EXCLUSIVE! Sorry for not getting the deconsructed meaning of the word "code" or "standard" right---at least its meaning for this year (2011). It'll probably change for next year (2012) and even though my opinion and stance will not have changed and stayed exactly the same, I might actually be right next year? Here's to hoping!

How absurd.

On the opposite side of this...I will issue a challenge.

I challenge you all to speak with the conviction of which you burn with deep inside. Speak truth. Speak like your life depend on it (because it may) and instill in your speech the value which bespeaks the determination of the one speaking or the One speaking through you (God). You are a Christian first and foremost, behave and articulate like you know you can. You will then be a beacon to those whose minds and logic have been deconstructed and confused. One that speaks with authority is rare nowadays and will be like a light in the world of darkness. You may not be welcome but as light, at least you and others like you will be able to see where you are going instead of fumbling and bumbling around in the dark.

Where are the intrepid of our generation that are still willing to 'walk the line' and speak their mind and speak the Truth. Where are the daring souls willing to skate out onto the the thin ice of political correctness and be politically incorrect...because to do so is to tell the truth in love? Have we all turned into a nation of well-thought out but inarticulate or silent cowards?

Speak the Truth, articulate it clearly and speak with authority. The Gospel is offensive to many no matter what we do. Better to just speak the truth and let things fall where they may. I mean, good grief man! Look what Paul finishes off this portion of Scripture with below. After having referred to circumcision, he then says that he wishes they would go the whole way and castrate (emasculate) themselves! Do we suppose Paul was worried about having PC conversation at this point or hurting feelings? Eh...no, I don't think so. Speak sensibly and boldly people!

"You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!" Galatians 5:7-12

The Inerrancy of Scipture I: Prepare the Way For The Lord !

You know the story of John the Baptist. I’ll be telling it to you again from the viewpoint of the Old Testament prophets & the (4) Four Gospels. I will do this to show how the plan of God all fits together in a perfect manner. I’ll show how men …often centuries apart…from different walks of life corroborate one another in Scripture….and point to John the Baptist (and more). By showing these things we will be able to see the omniscient, omnipotent and sovereign character of God. It will show how things foreknown by God are given to men because God sees all time at once…He is above & beyond time. He knows what will happen in the future…He has already seen it. For God… prophecy is not foretelling the future. For God… it is Him revealing the plan He already made.

By showing these things happened in history we validate the accuracy of Scripture. We directly link God’s plan for humanity in real time and space. The prophecies we read unfold exactly as they are foretold by the Prophets of old. This thereby shows God is sovereign and in control of His Creation. If God is sovereign and in perfect control we know that any book written by Him can and would be Inerrant. A book with His words…(the Bible)…would be an outflowing of His Will. A will and mind that is perfect and infinite.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

God being the Word is therefore perfect or inerrant. When I say inerrant it simply means that the Bible always tells the truth about what it talks about. Scripture is inerrant and authoritative! All words in Scripture are God’s words given to man though inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

To disbelieve / disobey any word in the Bible is to disbelieve or disobey God! The truly amazing thing about Scripture is as Paul said:

2 Timothy 3:16-17”…All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

So…in the Old Testament prophets we read the following and it is comfort for God’s people:

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins. A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:1-5

Make no mistake “the voice here crying in the wilderness” is John the Baptist. Isaiah wrote these words (7) centuries before John the Baptist’s birth 700BC. These words foretell of a person that will be a king’s runner preparing the way for a king…The King.

The idea of “every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low” is clarified in very next clause “the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain”. This refers to the work of workmen leveling and smoothing roads dignitaries or kings would soon travel when they came to visit and area. It’s metaphor to tell that us that someone special was coming and this “voice” was preparing the way. Today we’d say this person was “rolling out the red carpet” As we see Isaiah refer to the “voice of one calling in the wilderness”…we’ll know unequivocally that we will see this again in the NT. It would be a voice that will be calling people back to a relationship w/God. This voice would be a prophet - in the wilderness - calling people into God’s Kingdom. Isaiah’s telling of a day God’s people would be restored to God in proper relationship. It would start with another prophet-John the Baptist. God’s people will be comforted - after all the judgment/punishment they’d face in the Old Testament.

We must remember at the time of Isaiah the ntire Israelite nation was in a spiritual wilderness. North Kingdom had just been destroyed and carted off to Assyria in 722. The Southern Kingdom of Judah was hot on the heels of the North’s backsliding and would end in the Babylonian exile in 586BC

But remember… Someone special was coming and the Glory of the Lord would be revealed.That voice would be Johns and he prepared the way for the Jesus Christ.

We now jump ahead 350 years to the prophetic ministry of Malachi and again we see a shadow of things to come…we see a messenger and a Messenger of the Covenant:

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness…Malachi 3:1-3

We see reference to a mysterious messenger again in Malachi 4:5 and this time he is referred to as Elijah…and this is the way the Old Testament ends.

Malachi 4:5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes.”

Again I categorically state right now that I believe this messenger is a foretelling of John the Baptist. Even Jesus says as much in Matthew 17:11-12

Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”

John inevitably will not be recognized as the Elijah foretold in Malachi 4:5, just as Jesus will not be wholly recognized as the Messiah. For context we must realize that by the time of this prophecy by Malachi Israel had returned Babylonian exile and had already begun apostatize and fall away from God and disobey Him. They had begun cheating God w/ blemished sacrifices. God’s people were again corrupt. God had done all He was going to do …----all to no avail---. God judges His people with silence…for 450 years. It was called the Inter-testamental period. A span time equal to that from Martin Luther until now…..Silence. Absolute and utter silence from God. In this 400+ year hiatus God would be working on bringing His perfect plan to fruition but meanwhile in the world...


..............                 Nothing                       .............


And then 450 years later…a “voice”...crying in the desert near the River Jordan.

“Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him!!!”

July 25, 2011

Out of Circulation

When I was a kid my father showed me some Indian Head Pennies that he had gotten back in the 1940’s. After seeing them I began collecting coins and this lasted until I was in my early 30’s. When you collect a coin what you are really doing is removing it from circulation in the system. It is still money and can be used or spent like money but because of its rarity or intrinsic value it is pulled aside because it is special. It is put away to protect it from further wear. The coin can be pulled out years later and spent but having been removed from circulation it is distinct from its contemporary counterparts that are still circulating in the system. Most often when these coins re-enter circulation they are immediately recognizable as “more valuable” then their surrounding counterparts. The other coins that have remained in circulation may be similar in appearance but their value ends up being less because they are more tarnished and beaten by the world. Some coins are worth more at face value and these are called denominations (penny, nickel...) and when they are used and work together the sum is always more than a single coin by itself. Coins taken out of circulation tend to hold their luster longer also. The only way to arrest the deterioration of the coin and freeze or improve its value…is to pull it from the system / circulation and set it aside. If they are covered and sealed from the world’s corrosive environment the luster on these coins can last indefinitely or at least seem to.

Why do I tell you this? Let me retype the previous paragraph changing a few words. My father and mother were saved when I was a kid and I saw what it did for them. When the Lord collected them for salvation he removed them from circulation in the system. They still could function within the World’s system but they acted much better as an example of what others still in the world system could be if they would only accept the Lord and remove themselves too...from the system. It is the Lord that gives them (and us) our intrinsic value and rarity (in this current evil age). Some are big people, some small, all worthy and of some value in both the Kingdom and the world system. Even though they are of value in this corrupted world system and can still function they retain more value if we remove them from the corrosion of the world (sin) and seal them away with others. Even though these people may no longer be of use in the world system, they are still of infinite value to God…

John 17:16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.

They can still function in the system as they formally did but they stand apart and people recognize something about them. They may be older but they seem to have a luster, a sharper edge not nearly as worn down as others. Their vintage was from another era and another place but they stand out from their contemporaries. They have been set aside for special use and they are an example of what others can be. We are to try and remain as near possible to the perfect impression of the mold we are made from. We were created as an exact image or likeness of God.

"So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." Genesis 1:17

We are called to be like Jesus Christ who, in Hebrews 1:3 "...is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His [God] being" The word "representation" here in Greek is: charakter/χαρακτὴρ and literally means an engraving or stamped figure...as in stamped from a mold as an exact copy...like a coin. Coins that to be created as new entities are stamped to make blanks, blanks are then heated or annealed in a furnace to soften them. They are run through a washer and dryer so they are cleansed. They are upset or forged which is a blow that shapes them but does not cause an injurous permanent buckling of their shape or integrity. They are then struck in the exact mold the are intended to look like and inspect to assure they conform the required standard (holiness). They are then sent into circulation for use in the world. .Because of my parents and other believers like them, I too have now been removed from circulation.

1 Peter 1:14-16 "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy."

We are no longer uncirculated or mint condition but we have retained or increased value because of what God does behind the scenes.  The system that we work within and the sovereign that we work under gives us our value. The pricelessness of the Kingdom that we belong to and trust we have in God's system for salvation is unwavering. As Christians we are willing to remove ourselves or be removed from the world's system to preserve or increase our value for and in the Kingdom to come. We are literally marked for use in a new dominion as a new denomination.

July 24, 2011

"You Have the Words of Eternal Life...You Are The Holy One of God"

What is Discipleship?

Discipleship can mean many things but according to my reading Jesus’ was distinct from that of His contemporaries. What is of importance is what Jesus thought of discipleship, not what we think it should be. How Jesus does discipleship is that His disciples followed Him. People that were following but uncommitted, unbelieving or following for dubious reasons cannot be necessarily be considered Jesus’ true disciples. Those that come to faith and trusted in Jesus as Messiah and follow His teaching can more properly be considered disciples. Often though, when we hear of Jesus and disciples we think of the twelve. The relationship between Jesus and His immediate disciples was more personal than formal. His was a burden that was actually a blessing:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

When dealing with these contexts I would have to say we are dealing with those that follow Jesus’ teaching in faith. Therefore a discipleship of Jesus Christ is anyone who was or is deeply and personally committed to Jesus Christ by faith and who manifests the authority and power of Jesus and continues and extends His work.


Anyone that was willing to commit themselves to the teaching of Jesus and submit themselves to be servants to the Kingdom could and can be a disciple. This is to say anyone that God has chosen to follow Him. A disciple needs to be able to take direction from another that clearly knows better-in this case-God. This is where the difficulties arise especially in today in the American culture. It requires that a person rearrange their priorities to be in the best possible position to emulate Jesus and follow him. A selfish, self-consumed materialistic society is not conducive to this. This leads to the next point.

The Cost of Discipleship?

The cost is dependent on who you ask. In my opinion and according to my understanding…it costs everything. Discipleship in Christ will cost you everything, even you life. You must die to self. When it comes to a Christian it demands that a person make Jesus the most important thing in your life. Jesus must be above all things in a disciples life, even life itself. This thereby requires a person to die daily since a single dying to self one day is only good for that day (or that single decision). In the harshness of some of Jesus' calls to discipleship, such as not waiting until a relative was dead and buried before following Jesus we see something profound. Following Jesus as a disciple is not something to be added to other tasks in our life. We see this every day in the Church around us. Believers trying to do church or add church to the schedule on the weekend so that we get our "God" time in between football, shopping or vacation. Being Christian isn't a case of moonlighting or adding a second job. It is the job for a true believer. It is everything. A deliberate commitment which forces a person to reorder everything around God, not God around them or "things". How many can say they do this? For real? Does God really preface every decision you make during the day?

The Rewards of Discipleship?

We all have a master in this world. The bottom line is that it is either sin or Jesus. We cannot serve both. We are indeed slaves to whatever controls us. People view being a believer or disciple as a form of slave or utter boredom. Say the word Christian and the world's immediate association (besides hypocrite) is Boooooooooring. I can speak from experience that this is anything but true. Being a follower of Jesus is anything but boring. I never know where he will send my family or me next. There is a level of uncertainty involved that one never gets use to. People believe they have control over their lives but this illusion is quickly shattered when something insurmountable enters their life. Something that is bigger than they are. What new paradigm shift is about to enter my family’s or my life is now the normal question not how can I fit God into my life? I know now that there are many things in life too big for even my wife and I combined to handle, but nothing is too big for Christ.

Another reward is that being a disciple, nothing will be expected of us that we are not able to do. We will be equipped as necessary for our tasks. The rewards will be gauged on motivation and heart intent not actions. The reward for work well done in the kingdom? More work. The fields are ripe and the harvesters are few. God needs to utilize His faithful workers efficiently. If we are faithful with what we have been given responsibility over, more will be given for us to handle. In the end the rewards are indicative of the ultimate good of the disciples, other believers and the Kingdom at large (the glory of God). Buck up and carry you portion of the load or move over so I can.

As for you, stop worrying about getting it right or perfect and just go out and do it. If everyone waited until they were perfect to evangelize the world...no one would be doing it. Nothing is getting done with you just sitting around. You don't need to be perfect because the truth is, it isn't you really doing the work of grace, its God through the Holy Spirit Himself. So now go and do what you were commanded. Go out and preach the Gospel - when necessary you can use words too.  

"Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20

Yes, you! Go! Now! :)
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