May 30, 2011

Stone Oblation Or True Salvation

Rotund brown stone goddess
Enshrined in a glass box
Deeply etched and sometimes glued
Walls of this "temple" are brightly lit
Illuminated with incandescent tube

Overweight chunk of Buddha stares blankly
A hundred stone reincarnations
Another weathered statue towers
A long dead Pharaoh listens to the shuffle
A single pair of feet in the last six hours

In this Hall of the gods
Passed the Hell of the mobs
Bored senseless art students race
Noisy families frantically pace
All move past without a face

In the sterile filtered air
No stone or leaden idol smells
This disinfected lifeless afterlife
Modern-day equivalent pagan hell

No longer tributes of grain or blood
No human sacrifice still required
Staring impassive tour guides
Stone eyelids never grow tired

In another building down the block
In a turn of the century chapel
Shadows bow in reverence
To a Cross affixed to the wall
Its occupant long since departed
The imprints of pierced feet
Walk out into the sunshine of life
In the heart of every single disciple

"Science Is Restricted To The Material World..."



In addition to the previous post on the flaws in some of the scientific "un" disciplines I offer further proof that not only is modern science not being honest with all the facts but they are purposely negating or ignoring entire aspects of the human experience to try and keep their flawed worldview intact. They are willfully ignoring things to maintain their myopic, categorized and nicely boxed-in reality.

Please note two specific quotes in this piece from CNN.

(@ 2:44) we hear this statement: "Intelligent Design is unscientific." As if the sole defining aspect of reality and truth is the scientific method.

The second...and more telling comment starts approximately (@ 5:05): "Science is restricted to the material world...and it has been for 900 years...and it works really well that way..."

Wow! The professor then goes on to say:

"...to propose supernatural explanation just isn't scientific"

Really? Here again we see that science is the end all in terms of determining truths. Is it really? How pretentious. How arrogant. God will not be mocked.

As a whole, without a unified human consensus, modern science has made itself the end all to every discussion when it comes to facts about the world. Is this the same modern science that created Social Darwinism and Phrenology (considered legitimate science 100-150 years ago) which led to the genocides of Nazi Death Camps? Please consider (below) a page from Samuel Well's book How To Read Character: A New Illustrated Handbook of Phrenology and Physiognomy for Students and Examiners originally penned in 1868 purporting this "science". It compared the difference between 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant and a "Negro" showing that the philosopher Kant was more advanced in his predetermined criterion solely based on the shape of his head. The criterion? Intellectual Faculties: The Reflective Group. We should be appalled by this today and rightly so. BUT this was considered legitimate "science" 150 years ago. Not only was it stupid, it was downright evil. So what "science" do we hold near and dear to us today that we are willing to stake life or death on because we believe it is true---only to possibly/probably find out in a 100-150 years that it was as bogus as Phrenology was? Evolution perhaps?


Science being a human creation is in-and-of-itself, flawed because its source of data and observation comes from a flawed being---man. To preclude the use of non-material and the supernatural, you drastically narrow down what you need to explain. This woman and those like her clearly state their criteria for what they will consider in their body of evidences.

She clearly states that science restricts its knowledge. This is not educational nor is it truly scientific in its approach. When I say science I mean true science as it was originally intended before the Enlightenment and the anti-God movement that came from it. The newest definition of science is as follows:

"Science is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social world following a systematic methodology based on evidence."

The question remains: “What evidence?” If it is purely natural evidence then science has restricted themselves to an incomplete body of evidence. This is like trying a case against a murderer of your children without all the evidence and the man eventually walks free. Why would you not use all the evidences? When we as human beings proclaim that only science has the true evidence and we deny Scripture…we might as well have murdered our children anyway. By saying the Bible isn’t valid we damn our children and those in society.

True (honest) philosophy of science seeks to understand the nature and justification of scientific knowledge. Since it is difficult to distinguish science from non-science, there are legitimate arguments about the boundaries between science and non-science. This is known as the problem of demarcation. Where does science really begin? According to this woman, science it is purely based in physical and empirical truths. Conversely, true science (the science I believe in) allows natural AND supernatural origins because the original definition of science from as far back as Aristotle was:

"A body of reliable knowledge that can be logically and rationally explained."

Classical antiquity science believed knowledge was closely linked to philosophy. In some cases “science" continues to be used in a broad sense denoting reliable knowledge about a topic, in the same way it is still used in modern terms such as library science or political science.”

"In modern use, science is "often treated as synonymous with ‘natural and physical science’, and thus restricted to those branches of study that relate to the phenomena of the material universe and their laws, sometimes with implied exclusion of pure mathematics. This is now the dominant sense in ordinary use. "This narrower sense of "science" developed as a part of science became a distinct enterprise of defining "laws of nature", based on early examples such as Kepler's laws, Galileo's laws, and Newton's laws of motion. In this period it became more common to refer to natural philosophy as "natural science". Over the course of the 19th century, the word "science" became increasingly associated with the disciplined study of the natural world including physics, chemistry, geology and biology (Wikipedia).

The problem with the scientific community, or judicial systems and our educational systems today is that they have now overstepped their bounds and imposed a methodology they feel is the right/correct one. A methodology that is godless to its core. They and their mostly godless brethren have made the decision which is the proper one to teach. They do this KNOWING there are flaws and major irreconcilable gaps in their knowledge. They are now allowing only forms of Methodological Naturalism or science that will not allow for the supernatural or God, into our schools.

The largest bone of contention in this is that, according to the scientific community itself, differences between natural and supernatural explanations should be made according to scientists, and that science should be restricted methodologically to natural explanations.

That means that science should not consider supernatural explanations itself...BUT should not claim them to be wrong either.

Unfortunately scientists, politicians and the teachers of this once great country (and other countries) have done just that. There have been recent court cases that forbid the teaching of Creationism in the classroom including one here in Pennsylvania. If Creationism or some form of it is no threat to their theories and ideas...why is there such hostility towards teaching it? Not only is this seem illegal it is morally reprehensible. Science has claimed for itself the upper hand in this battle unjustly.

True science by its definition (the old one that was honest in its assessment of all the variables, not the new one that constantly changes definitions and restricts itself) needs to entertain all the possibilities…and modern science is just not doing that. Thereby they have made themselves intellectually arrogant and propped themselves up on pedestals they have no right to be on.

These people (scientists) are clearly not being honest, not with us...nor themselves.

Uniformitarianism: What Is It and Why Are You Being Force-Fed It?

The problem with "science" and so-called scientists is that they have purposely pigeon-holed their points of view. They absolutely refuse to see outside of their own self-imposed limitations or presuppositions. Another of their intellectually arrogant presuppositions is Uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism believes that everything within physics progresses along at the same rate. If it has been this way in the past more than likely it will remain this way into the future. The infamous, "This is the way we've always done it, this is the way we will continue to do it, why fix what isn't broke?"

Many scientists claim that they have nearly infallible methods for determining the age of the earth. There are many methods but the primary method is that of Radiometric Dating which relies on uniformitarianism. What is even more amusing is that there is pretty much a disclaimer when using this dating method. It is often stated of radiometric dating that, "different methods of radiometric dating vary in the timescale over which they are accurate and the materials to which they can be applied." Today...they know for a fact that the dates can be wildly inaccurate. Yet we firmly base a majority of our ancient to prehistoric dating on some form of this method. What is even more damning to this so-called scientific methodology is that all of the methods mentioned above along with radiometric dating are built upon two basic and unsubstantiated assumptions:

(1) The assumption of starting point or original condition

-and-

(2) The assumption of a uniform rate of change from that starting point to the present.

In other words, science has made a broad sweeping assumption about the way things happen and continue to happen in terms of time. They assume things "Have gone the way they have always gone" which is to say..."the same". This is also known as uniformitarianism. They assume things have always deteriorated at the same rate. That atoms always behave the same (which they are finding at the quantum level is not true). Many scientists in their theories have based many of their assumptions on the fact that time itself is uniform. This last one is baffling to me as Einstein's Theory of Relativity proved conclusively that time does not move the same for all observers and is therefore not uniform.

So...on with our example: A burning candle in an abandoned house. It is now burning at the rate of one inch an hour.

(Question 1) We then need to ask, "How long has it been burning and, thus, how long ago was the house abandoned?"

(Answer 1) The answer to this is: "No one can know until it can be shown how high the candle was when it was last lit and how fast it was burning originally"

(Question 2) The next question we can ask in parallel is: "How old is the earth?"

(Answer 2) The answer to this is: "No one can know unless it can be shown what it was like when it began and how rapidly it has changed since then! If it began as a molten mass of rock and metal and has been cooling down at a steady rate, it would be millions of years old."

Unless ...

Unless we accept an alternate suggestion or alternate forms of evidence, such as...accepting God's record in Genesis, that it was created with a cool crust and liquid oceans. It would not have required millions of years for the crust and oceans to form.

This scenario is reasonable and/or plausible because the earth was created to be a home for man (Genesis Chapter 1, Ps. 115: 16, Isa. 45: 18). Did an omnipotent and omniscient God have to wait billions of years to accomplish this? Of course not! If God could create man and woman "full-grown; mature" did he have less power to create a "full-grown" earth?

Since uniformitarians (which are a majority of the scientific community) do not really know where the Earth with its heavy elements could have come from, is my suggestion that implausible? Granted all the kinks in this theory have not been worked out but I have not had the luxury of thousands of minds over 150-200 years since Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution and James Hutton's Theory of Geologic Time Scales to work on this theory either. I have had one Memorial Day weekend to think about and type this post. God is good.

I am not here to redo you theories and presuppositions but if I have caused you to question them even one iota, I have succeeded in my task. Taken to its logical conclusion, the this approach would completely destroy the scientific method. The fact of the matter is that geologists hold that the laws of physics and chemistry remain unchanged with time, but that the rates of geologic processes have varied and do vary widely. This is recognized today in tectonics and paleontology.

Think for yourself people! Stop letting the power and principalities of this world brainwash you and tell you what clearly cannot be backed-up properly or violates its own rules of engagement when presenting itself in "scientific method". Geology, biology, geologists and biologists are not superior to Scripture. They never have been and never will be.

They are called flaws (or at least anomalies in the data). There are obvious flaws in these theories and no one seems to want to see them or address them. Question the answers you are being fed, your salvation or someone else’s may depend on it.

Whitcomb, John Clement. The World That Perished:  An Introduction to Biblical Catastrophism. Rev. BMH ed. Winona Lake, Ind..: BMH Books, 2009. Print.

May 29, 2011

Book Review: Four Portraits, One Jesus by Mark L. Strauss

In conjunction with reading Jesus and the Gospels by Craig Blomberg I have also been reading this Christological gem of a book in parallel with it. These two books combined are the best evangelical treatment of Christ's life that I have come across. It will suffice to say that I have read many and these are broad spectrum and good overall treatments of Jesus Christ's life on Earth. The only book I have read that trumps these two is John R Stotts: The Cross of Christ. The thing is though that Stott's treatment deals only with the redemption and salvational aspects of the Crucifixion and Resurrection and their affects on man. This book from Strauss coupled with Blomberg's is an exhaustive treatment that covers all possible angles of Jesus' life, ministry, Crucifixion and Resurrection. This book in particular is extremely well organized and leaves few stones unturned. It even refutes (rebukes) some of the wacky liberal theology theories that do not adhere to sound reasoning or sound hermeneutics. Especially the ones that have surfaced over the last 100 years to diminish or deny the deity of Jesus and the fact He is the Son of God. (*Cough*Bultmann*Cough*)

It dissects and dismantles the goofy theories that come from our deconstructionist and postmodern theological brethren. I wouldn't be surprised if many of  the Emergent and TBN brethren have not taken the time to read books like this and plumb the depths of the Gospels in this detail. Where this book fails to pick the liberal turkey bones clean, its partner on my desk Jesus and the Gospels will finish cleaning the meat off the spiritually dead carcass.

To top all of this off it has high quality graphics and charts to aid in understanding. Go pay the fifty bucks and get them both. Come to think of it go and buy Stott's The Cross of Christ and while your at it buy John MacArthur's The Gospel According to Jesus for good measure. These books are all you really need to get a good solid conservative grasp of the Jesus Christ, His glorious ministry and His death and resurrection.

Rating: 97 of 100 (100 of 100 for graphics and charts alone)

Hey Snarky! Yours for 3 Easy Payments of $19.99!!!

Lately my site traffic has been decreasing so I went out and did my homework on how to direct more traffic my way. As can be expected I've implemented as many of the ethical ways that could possibly help. I've done this because I believe the Lord has something to offer to people "out there" and it isn't getting out. I also wanted to do it in a manner so that I could sleep at night and live with myself in the morning.

You'd be surprised some of the awful suggestions I have read in the Internet. Some of them from self-proclaimed Christian sources. As for the non-Christian I will not even elaborate on the subversive, subconscious and subliminal sexual psychology involved since it is not becoming of a Christian readership. I may have already said too much...

(1) They tell me if I write in a more confrontational style I will get more readership in my blog. Never mind that this is totally in opposition to Ephesians 4:29 command to "...not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen."

(2) They tell me that if I am more snarky I will peak peoples interest more and my hit count will go up thereby making my site more "popular", plus I will get the added perk of being hip (never mind I would be selling my soul and had to look up 'snarky' in the dictionary). Snarky meaning: 1. Rudely sarcastic or disrespectful; snide. 2. Irritable or short-tempered; irascible. Yeah, great...sign me up. If this is what is coming out of me how is this conducive to attracting people to Christ? I'm snarky. Christ is in me. Christ is snarky? ehhhhhh......NEXT!

(3) They tell me if I align myself with "This Corporation" or "That Group" I will sky-rocket in site rankings. Of course they will need 3 monthly installments of $19.95 and they only take Mastercard. I will also need to submit my blood type, my first-born son and sell my soul to the Devil. "Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them." Ephesians 5:11

No thanks. I wait only on God to stir the hearts of the people...

Snarky...hmmpphh.

There are many other suggestions to increase the traffic to SoulJournaler but it seems as though I will need to:

(1) Give into the culture who is at an attention deficit, on sensory overload and demanding of immediate gratification.

(2) Give in to the idea of a census to determine my strength and my worth when I am darn well sure it is given by a merciful and loving God not from a godless culture.

(3) Write nearly libelous things about fellow bloggers, on their blog.

(4) Use photos. Salacious ones are best.

(5) Compromise what I set out to do which was attract people by righteous fruit and a promise of Christian teaching, education and just plain old edification. Only to replace it with the exact things I was suppose to leave behind when I came into the Faith. Sinfulness, sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, greed, being corrupted by deceitful desires, falsehood, anger. Of particular interest in relation to this post Ephesians 4:31 tells me to, "get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice." Ya know something? I have to assume Paul did not have an exact word for it in Greek but I believe "snarky" would be on this list. A clever sarcasm or a play on words (like Jesus or Paul used) on  the other hand...

All of the above are contrary to the Bible. Therefore contrary to my new life. Be gone you big goofy powers and principalities!

Thank you...but no. I will rely on the power and authority of the Word I use to back up and validate my posts. It will establish itself without my help.

Snarky...*sigh*...good grief....
_________

Addendum (To initial post):

It has also come to my attention that my medium of communication may also be changing and perhaps that is why readership is diminishing. Perhaps it is  God's way to get me to focus some of my time and energies on homiletics and oral delivery not just writing and direct personal interaction. My ministry to this point has predominately been through personal evangelism and online blogging/writing. This appears to be changing. I have been asked by, and spoken with, three different churches over denominational lines to speak at three separate churches over the last month alone. To me this is extraordinary that God would deem me worthy and ready to do this type of work for Him already. One church in one denomination is one thing but three different ones in three different denominations says to me that my big God is moving (in a BIG way). Regardless, I feel the mountain beginning to shake even though I cannot exactly perceive actual movement except in it's affect on things around me...the hearts of the people and the needs of the Church.

Praise the Name of the Lord..

May 28, 2011

Deconstructionism: What Is It? Why You Should Care About It.

First and foremost I must preface this article by saying most of these criticisms I am about to comment on are a by-product of the Liberal Theology movement of the late 19th and early 20th century that sought to demythologize and remove the supernatural elements from Scripture. This is to say that they tried to remove God from the Scripture (as if...).

First we must understand what Reader-Response Criticism is in terms of Biblical Literary Criticism.

Literary Criticism refers to the methods of studying the Gospels as unified literary works as opposed to dissecting them into theoretical sources and oral traditions. It focuses on the Bible in its final form. It also analyzes the literary methods by the authors. It primary grew out of a reaction to historical and source criticisms. Reader Response is then an approach to the Gospels that focuses on the act of reading and interpreting. It uses as variety of approaches that do not find meaning in the authorial intent (writer's purpose for writing) but rather in the response of the reader(s). This means there is no objective meaning in the text itself, since every reader creates their own meaning. The text itself (Bible) possesses no fixed final meaning or value. In other words, there can be no single “correct” meaning. Meaning is then created in a transactional, dialogic manner between the reader and the text which predominately (and amusingly) excludes the author. This is ridiculous. It is like saying you are going to read about the final game of the World Series based solely on the score and only a few plays of the game never once taking into consideration the players, the crowd, or all the other variables a sports writer puts in his newspaper article. Then...the reader tries to fill in the gaps not having been at the game, or having seen even highlight clips of the game. In a word: Preposterous.

Deconstructionism draws meaning from the reader and does not consider what the authors intent is. To me, this is ludicrous. The author wrote for a reason! In the case of the Bible, the Gospel writers wrote to get their idea or someone else's (God's/Jesus') across to an intended readership whether that be a reader in 1st century Ephesus or 21st century America.

De·con·struc·tion [dee-kuh n-struhk-shuh n]-noun : When applied to the study of literature, that questions all traditional assumptions about the ability of language to represent reality and emphasizes that a text has no stable reference or identification because words essentially only refer to other words and therefore a reader must approach a text by eliminating any metaphysical or ethnocentric assumptions through an active role of defining meaning, sometimes by a reliance on new word.

The key phrase in this senseless definition? "Eliminating any metaphysical assumptions"...removing God people, removing God.

Deconstuctionism is an extreme form of Reader-Response Criticism and also resides under the category of post-structuralism. Deconstruction began as a reaction to structuralism. It views all literature as having no essential meaning (at all). It says that language is not structure but a lack of it and also a lack of meaning. Its premise is that language itself is unstable. As such, words can have a plethora of meanings and therefore meaning is a nebulous thing that is constantly shifting and is relative to the observer(s). Literary sources can be “deconstructed” and ambiguities can be revealed this way. In this way, it is meaningless. There can be as many meanings as there are readers. This lends itself very easily to imposing meaning on the text or performing eisegesis on it rather than pulling out the intent of the original writer. Ironically, when communicating their findings, “deconstructionists” are not even following their own outlined processes. They are hypocrites, or so messed up in their thinking that they do not even realize they are contradicting themselves.

The text then becomes a minefield of subjectivity. Trying to find absolute or “true” meaning with these criteria is like running through said minefield with snow shoes on. In the case of Christians that “text” just happens to be the Bible on which we base or should base our entire worldview. It is in this idea that deconstructionism has its most profound impact in modern viewpoints. The deconstructionist mentality says that if it can be deconstructed it is worth nothing or it is meaningless. This means that Scripture, being based in language or cognate word symbols should in theory, be meaningless also. If we take this to its extreme is means our worldview is meaningless…we are meaningless. If this is to be believed it throws the credibility of the Scriptures into a literary “no-man’s land” (not to mention perspicuity, inerrancy and a few other conservative evangelical beliefs).

Deconstructionism though has a fatal flaw other than the fact that it is an untenable post-modernistic worldview. It assumes that just because something can be deconstructed, it then holds no value or no worthwhile knowledge/data. This is a fallacy of composition. It is a false to assume that because part of text can be deconstructed this must apply to the whole of the text. Things can be true even though they cannot be totally verifiable. Partial knowledge can be valid…it is just incomplete knowledge. Christian’s worldview is based in the precept of something being true based on partial knowledge, otherwise faith wouldn’t be called Christian faith…it would be called Christian fact.

A lot of what we see in the media nowadays a result of this type of thinking (or lack of it). Most so-called theological or religious "experts" subscribe to this twisted postmodern nonsense and most people that listen to them are none-the-wiser. They are passed off as Christians and they do not even believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, the divinity/deity of Jesus Christ. They like the "idea" of Christ or Christ's ideas but they don't want Christ Himself. You must be discerning folks. The wolves have gotten really good at pretending to be sheep and shepherds.

This is also what passes for theology and thought processes in much of what is now referred to as the "Emergent Church" and those associated with it. John MacArthur recently wrote a comprehensive book to address this issue called "The Truth War". A large faction within the Emergent Church subscribe to the idea that we cannot possibly know what Jesus, Paul or Peter meant when the Bible was written or when events took place in their lives. Wrong, that is radical historicism. We can know because there are plenty of sources including Paul's own writing to help us get a real close approximation of what they meant. To say that it is not possible is just intellectual laziness or flat-out ignorance of facts that are available for the taking for anyone that bothers to look for them. In the end you see that they cannot validly attack the truth of the Scripture head-on so they go as far as to attack the very nature of the language and the way we understand ideas so to avoid going head-to-head with Scripture.

According to a deconstructionist, everything I have just written is relative to the reader. What I meant means nothing. Take this a step further and we can then see why it is laughable what they are really saying about books like the Bible. They are saying what God meant when He inspired people to write it means absolutely nothing. That kinda defeats the point of inspiring people to do so, doesn’t it? If God solely inspires people to write then God has to have a purpose for doing so or it isn’t really inspired, is it? To think any other way is to deny sequential logic. Deconstructionism not only attacks the word of God, it has indirectly attacked God Himself saying that what a writer had in mind when writing is hardly relevant. Thereby the have flipped God the middle finger. Come on people! God wrote the Bible for the exact purpose of having people know EXACTLY what He meant…that’s why He wrote it!!!

It’s all a bunch of, ahem *junk*...hence the exploded toilet for the post picture. It is where this philosophy belongs....flushed into the sewer. Unfortunately, it is the garbage being passed off as intelligence and academia in many of our institutes of "higher" learning. It would be truly humorous if it wasn't for the fact that...some of them are seminaries.

Strauss, Mark L.. "Chapter 3." Four portraits, one Jesus: an introduction to Jesus and the Gospels. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2007. 68-85. Print.

May 27, 2011

Ripples



 

I figured I'd post a few observations about why we do not have a lot of archaeological and historical evidence for Jesus’ outside of the Gospels.

(1) The nature and scale of the early Christian movement was socially insignificant considering how large the Roman Empire was.

(2) Jesus from a Roman perspective was a basically a preacher/miracle-worker in an insignificant backwater Roman province that was eventually executed. This is a scenario that did not lend itself well to documenting His life.

(3) His own countrymen did not respond to His mission. Dare I say that even His own Disciples didn’t “get it” as is evidenced in Luke 24 and the Road to Emmaus. How can we expect that His death or teachings would’ve made “headlines”.

(4) Early historical context did not lend itself well to evidences and proofs. We are fortunate we have the evidences we have. The fact that there is any corroborating non-Biblical evidences is unique.

(5) It is an issue of notoriety after-the-fact or cause and effect. The Man/God Himself arose briefly from obscurity and faded quickly back into it but His movement and ideas did not. Just as we know wind exists, it is the effects of the wind in our lives that we see.

(6) It is Christianity that is first noted in Roman records, not Jesus himself. Not the Cause but rather the effect. Having seen the effect we then go in search of its cause and in this case-Jesus.

(7) Scripture itself tell us Jesus would make/made Himself of no accord...

"Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! ~Philippians 2:6-8

For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:2-3

(8) He did purposely draw attention to Himself but it wasn't until His hour had come. Even when the attention did come it was to bring glory to the Father. We see in Jesus the image of what we are to be yet we do not actually see Him much in His earthly ministry do we? Because of this humbleness because of this meekness God exalts Him. Yet the documentation of Him consists mainly of four Gospels and passing historical references in a derogatory manner from Roman and Jewish historians.

Cause and Effect.

Like a stone that lands in the water. It sends ripples down through time and through lives and it will continue to do so. The ripples continue until the water ends or time. Starting small and going out in wave after wave-Never ending. Eternal. That is what He promised. He would be with us until the End of the Age. He would be with us in eternity.

May 26, 2011

Prisoner For Christ I: Don't Pass Rome, Don't Collect $200, Go Straight To Jail


I've decided to do a series on the Prison Epistles: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. It will be entitled "Prisoner For Christ". I will begin here. The Prison Epistles are so titled because they are written by Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome. God had brought Paul to Rome to complete the mission strategy that Jesus gave to his disciples just before his ascension. Acts 1:8 says that Jesus told his disciples they were to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Paul was brought to Rome under house arrest for having done just that. The roots of his imprisonment stemmed from his evangelism and spreading of the Gospel. So he is brought to plead his case in Rome (he is a Roman citizen and given this right). In reality he is brought to complete a portion of the mission of bringing Jesus' gospel to the ends of the earth. This fact becomes obvious when reading the Epistles. With the coming of Paul to Rome the gospel was brought from the Jewish capital of Jerusalem to the Gentile and secular capital of the world in Rome.

His imprisonment begins in Caesarea years earlier. At the end of his third missionary journey, during which time he spent more than two years working in Ephesus, Paul revisited the churches he had established in Macedonia, a northern province of Greece, on his second missionary journey. From there he traveled to Jerusalem by way of Troas and Miletus (Acts 20). In Jerusalem the Jews mobbed Paul, because they thought he had desecrated the temple by bringing a Gentile into it. Roman soldiers (of all people) came to Paul's rescue and took him into their custody (Acts 21) Paul then became entangled in the Roman judicial system. Strangely, this is not unlike our own judicial system nowadays. He was taken to the Roman governor Felix in the provincial capital of Caesarea. Felix kept Paul imprisoned there for two years, hoping for a bribe from Paul for his freedom (Acts 24). Festus then succeeded Felix as governor and intended to appease the Jews by having Paul transferred for trial in Jerusalem (Festus tried to throw Paul under the bus). It is at this point Paul resorted to his right as a Roman citizen and appealed his case to Caesar in Rome (Acts 25). Paul jumps from proverbial pan to proverbial fire to save his skin and buy time to do what Jesus has commanded.

Paul was transferred by ship under guard to Rome. Enroute his ship was wrecked in a storm off the island of Malta. Paul finally arrived in Rome around A.D. 59 to 60. There he was held under house arrest and guard for the next two years. His Roman imprisonment, or captivity, has been dated as A.D. 59-61, and even as late as A.D. 61-63.

Under house arrest Paul had enough freedom to proclaim the gospel and receive visitors and even send and receive letters. Paul received messages from people like Epaphras (Col. 1:7), who brought him news about the congregations in Colossae, Hierapolis and Laodicea. Though there was a lot of stuff to be joyous about, Paul was concerned to learn that a heresy threatened the church in Colossae. Paul wrote Colossians to deal with the disturbing news he received from Epaphras. He wrote Philemon to return Onesimus to his master. The letters were to be sent with Tychicus (Col. 4:7), along with Onesimus, to Colossae. Since Tychicus didn't leave right away, Paul was also able to complete a third letter, Ephesians, to be sent with Tychicus (Eph. 6:21) and Ephesians was most likely sent to Ephesus and all the churches throughout Asia province for general circulation. Philippians was written later, not long before Paul’s release.

When God Abandons A Nation - John MacArthur



A quintessential overview to understanding why our country is taking a nosedive straight into the ground and all the underlying spiritual malaise involved.

May 25, 2011

Minor Prophets CII: Make Way For The King


We have arrived at the last post for the series on the Minor Prophets.

Malachi 4:1-3 shows a glimpse of the future that will have a bearing on every believer's life after it happens.

Malachi elaborates on the Day of the Lord. The fact that it will burn like a furnace gives some idea of the intensity and force of judgment coming. The judgment will be so complete that when it comes to the arrogant and every evildoer, they are compared to stubble and will not have root or a branch remaining. It will be like a purging fire to the wicked. It will be like the sun of righteousness. Although this seems to refer to Christ it probably a reference to the Day of the Lord itself. It will be like healing in its rays (the sun). The people of God will frolic like well-fed calves and will have power to trample on the wicked. This also seems to give a finality to the Day of the Lord just as we have read in other allusions to it. It will happen...and the wicked will be no more. They will be like “ashes under the soles of their feet."

In Malachi 4:5 we see a command.

The command is then given to “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the decrees and laws I gave him at Horeb for all Israel.” This a encouragement/warning for those that truly believe to be prepared for the coming of God. As much as Malachi has harped an beat on the Mosaic covenant, the heart of his message is faithfulness and obedience. It is an exhortation to remember. Remember is a term used (14) times in Deuteronomy as an exhortation for God’s people to remember things concerning the covenant or the Law. This can refer to a mental act or paying attention to something or it could also mean mental acts combined with appropriate physical actions that you would expect from someone thinking a certain way (James 2). This is what James alludes to when he talks about faith without works is dead. I man that truly has the heart of God will want to do the things of God for God’s glory.

When there is a direct mention of Moses here it is because he is the example of human faithfulness. Horeb is an obvious head nod to the events that occurred at Sinai since Horeb was the ancient name of Mt Sinai. Horeb is also a blatant reference to the Law.

In Malachi 4:5-6 we see a promise...we reach the promise of Malachi at the very end of the Old Testament.

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.”

We are dealing with future preparation. God promises through His prophet Malachi that the Prophet Elijah would come and minister before the Day of the Lord. The only reference of Elijah having a future ministry. If we cross the bridge into the New Testament we can find our answer. Matthew, in Matthew 11:7-10 (also: Mark 1:2 and Luke 7:27) clearly tells us who this “Elijah” is.

“As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’

This passage is an allusion to Malachi 3:1:

“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.”

We understand this to be John the Baptist. It is he that fulfills this promise. Quick on the heels of the Baptist is Jesus , the King following behind John who was calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord!’” (allusion to Isaiah 40:3)

Behold! He comes. All hail the arrival of the King! Hosanna!

May 24, 2011

The Filling of The Time [ το πληρωμα του χρονου ]

But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. ~Galatians 4:4

The verse above in layman's terms says that God sent His Son at the perfect time. At the earliest and latest possible time God sent Jesus. Obviously, God would want to send His Savior as soon as He could because man was not able to do anything on His own. So how do we possibly know that Year Zero or the birth of Jesus Christ was the best possible time or the "fullness of time"? Time is temporal and of the Creation at least a far as we are concerned because it is the world God sent His Son into. So lets look at the surrounding historical contexts of Jesus life and the start of Christianity. There are primary (7) things that stand out as remarkable when we consider the "fullness of time".

(1) The Greek language was the lingua franca of the Hellenized Roman empire. Rome had taken over an area that had predominantly bee control by Greek influence after the domination by Alexander the Great. One of the things that Alexander had instituted was a unified language in which to help unify his controlled areas. It worked. It worked so well that it lasted long after his death and the first manuscripts of the Bible ended up being written and circulated in the Koine Greek.

(2) The Pax Romana (the Roman peace) or the peace of Rome. The power and influence of Rome at its peak was so formidable, so absolute and so wide spread that it lent itself to large swathes of the known world to be peaceful and free of war. This lent itself to movement and transfer of information (letters, etc). We need only look at Acts to see this. We can also look at the early Church through the 1st century.

(3) Due to the first two ideas we see a state-of-the-transportation and communication infrastructure. The letters of Paul move rather easily throughout the empire. The Roman road system was extensive allowing movement to some of the farthest reaches of the empire.

(4) Because of the language and the ease of movement across large areas of land cultural issues that would've normally been obstacles began to melt away. Worldviews, religions and cultures were able to move quickly and affect other cultures in a speed never before known to mankind. This then allowed for unification politically and socially.

(5) Old distinctions eroded quickly because of permeable barriers and old nation boundaries disappeared in the homogenized whole of the Pax Romana. It became a melting pot just as the United States is in modern times. Ironically, because of these new freedoms the Roman empire was just as susceptible and fell victim to internal sins and debauchery that the US has also fallen to (as have many nations that have followed the same pattern [history repeats itself] ).

(6) Christianity originally was viewed a Jewish sect. Because of this it was protect by Rome under the legal status of  religio licita. Acts unquestionably shows this fact. Every time the Christians get themselves in hot water while spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who comes to their  rescue? The Roman officials themselves. This is plainly obvious in the case of Paul. This is obviously before Nero chose to slaughter and persecute the Christians in Italy. It also isn't until the 60's that Christianity begins to breech the religio licita and become a religion in its own right. It is at this point that the protection afforded it by being a Jewish sect begins to fade...and persecution starts in earnest.

(7) Rome, for all intensive purposes had implemented the most advanced and fair judicial process thus far known in the ancient world. Granted Rome had its tyrants and nut-jobs, but in most cases because of their law and due processes justice quite often prevailed in surprising ways...especially in favor of minorities like...Christians. Paul being a Roman citizen was afforded legal benefits not granted to non-Roman citizens (ironically like Jesus).

With these known and documented aspects of the Roman empire it is no wonder Christianity begins to take off in the shadow of Roman rule. As Paul said in Galatians: But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son..." Paul knew first hand all the elements in his world that needed to come together to allow the spread of the small movement he was involved in. A small movement that, according to the Romans, was a sect of Judaism start by an obscure Rabbi named Jesus that had been executed in a Roman backwater named Jerusalem on the eve of the Jewish Passover.

Blomberg, Craig. Jesus and the Gospels: an introduction and survey. Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman, 1997. Print.

Minor Prophets CI: You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone


In Malachi 3:1-2
 
“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.”

How did those in the NT understand v.1-2?

There are two messengers mentioned in this verse. The first of which I will identify first. If we refer to the original Hebrew of Malachi 3:, the Hebrew tells us the messenger is [Strongs H4397: mal’ak] “messenger-of-me/Me” or literally “a messenger; specifically, of God. Whomever this is is coming directly from God himself. This first messenger will also prepare the way for God or in this context/case Jesus Christ and as suddenly as this messenger will come, the Lord they are seeking will come to His temple. This verse is the Old Testament counterpart to Matthew 11:10, Mark 1:2 and Luke 7:27. It is also the Old Testament companion to Isaiah 40:3: “A voice of one calling: "In the desert prepare the way for the LORD make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. The Messenger is John the Baptist. Jesus explicitly identifies this person as John the Baptist in the NT.

Knowing this makes the messenger of the Covenant or the second messenger mentioned obvious in hindsight. It is Jesus Christ or the One who will prove He is God by purifying His people like a “refiners fire” and punishing sinners. He will be the messenger of the covenant in that He will fulfill the demands of the covenant in His life and with His life. When He rises from the dead he will usher in the new covenant with His marvelous work of redemption.

In verse 5 we can make some pretty clear cut observations about the moral and ethical conditions of the people. The people are idiots. Seriously, the implications from this verse alone are extremely damning and do not bode well from them. They are about to be put on trial (again). The testimony will be against “sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice”. All these things are prohibited by Mosaic Law. We then reach the real crux of the issue when we see the reason all these other sins are so bad, they, “do not fear me [God],” said God. This judgment will be the entire nation not just the Levite priests mentioned earlier.

Ultimately there is a basis for hope in God in (v.6-7). Verse 6 mentions the basis for hope in God. “I the LORD do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed”. God is immutable and sticks to what he said He is going to do. He abides in the covenant He has made with His people. He is merciful and full of grace for not destroying people outright for their sins. Verse 7 begins a fifth oracle by Malachi and is a charge of disobedience. Since olden days the people have continually turned away from God and their covenant with Him. He is faithful, they are not.

Israel then arrogantly questions the charge against them in (v.8-12). God asks men, “Will a mere mortal rob God?” Then affirms that they have indeed robbed Him. The people then act coyly…“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you? God responds “In tithes and offerings.” Because of this the entire nation is under a curse. They appear to be holding back what rightfully belongs to God. They are not giving tithes and offerings. They were not giving a 1/10th of everything they earned in accordance to the Law. Had they done this in obedience they would be blessed abundantly, protect their crops from pests and vines will hold their fruit for harvest of cutting. The implication is that they are not doing this and because of it they are short-changing themselves in God’s blessing.

Blasphemy is always a bad idea but it doesn't stop Israel in (v.13-15) does it. To add insult to injury we see Israel speaking arrogantly against the Lord…never a good idea. Then they turn around and either deny or play stupid. Perhaps they are even naïve what they ask, ‘What have we said against you?’ Then they boast “It is futile to serve God. What do we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty?” As always their hearts are so far from God that even their speech reveals the apostasy within their hearts. According to verse 15 they are getting away with it…for now.

You can just sense God getting ready to pull away from his people and leave them in a drought of His word. You can also see that they deserve it.

May 23, 2011

...crucify him, CRUCIFY HIM!!

Bone-tipped lash that laid into spines of cattle
Cuts deep into the flesh of the man.
As men of rank and repute
Crown Him with a shoot of thorns
Soldiers bedeck Him in royal jester purple
All the while mocking Him up the hill
So they can crucify him.

Wood of a tree that once sheltered a songbird
Splinters raw flesh of the Man of Sorrows
Soldiers sneer casting lots for His robe
The mockers quip, "He saved others...he cannot
even save himself...har har, chuckle chuckle"
They crucify Him.

Nails that held together shelter for downtrodden
Tear hands and feet and grind against bone.
Soldiers make faces and drink their vinegar wine
The plebians look on with scorn at a naked man
Mary stands hopelessly, her heart is pierced
Crucifying

The spear that conquered foriegn adversaries
Exposes the viscera of Jesus, water and blood
Drains down to the soil of Jerusalem
Forever staining the ground and suffocating sin
Crucified Him

The ones that cried "Hosanna"
Because their king came to them days ago
Lowly and riding on a donkey
On a colt, the foal of a donkey
Now turned on Him like vipers 
"CRUCIFY HIM!!"

Same as the ones with their sinful behavior
At the First Baptist Church of Boyertown
Commiting their sins with a passe attitude
As if, through their sins they scream at Him too...
...crucify Him! CRUCIFY HIM!!!

...its only a small sin...an insignificant little    thing
nothing to lose sleep over...right?

Right?


**sigh**

Minor Prophets C: Crossbreed or Consecrated to God

In Malachi 2:10-16 are charges leveled against the people.

Here in these verses we see the importance of family life. When I say family I mean the nation as one family. This sermon launches with a set of rhetorical questions. “Do we not all have one Father? Did not one God create us? Why do we profane the covenant of our ancestors by being unfaithful to one another?” As we have seen many times in the past Judah/Israel have been unfaithful and has desecrated the sanctuary “by marrying woman who worship a foreign god” or what appears to be obvious idolatrous worship within the sanctuary itself. The sins and disobedience all the way back in Joshua’s time what they were to completely remove their enemies from the land continues to haunt the Jews. Because they did not remove these peoples their gods remained to continue to decontaminate the Jews all throughout their history. God will remove those that do this even if he “puts on an act” and gives offering to the Lord. Why they will be removed is obvious. They may outwardly profess faith but inside their hearts are corrupted. They are then accused of “flooding the Lord’s altar with tears”. They lament and cry about the fact that God “no longer looks with favor on their offerings or accepts them with pleasure from your hands.” They are clueless to why God gives them and their offspring the “cold shoulder”. There disobedience has locked away from the presence of God. So we see the idea of divorce next.

Malachi 2:14 ~“the LORD is the witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have been unfaithful to her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant.”

Then we again see the rhetorical questions to drive the point home like a hammer. “Has not the one God made you? You belong to him in body and spirit. And what does the one God seek? Godly offspring. So be on your guard, and do not be unfaithful to the wife of your youth.” Here the interpretation of the Hebrew becomes muddled. It seems to allude to the fact that God made two human beings with the specific purpose of producing Godly offspring. Only when both parents remain faithful in their marriage does the child have the chance of having security which provides the basis for Godly living. The family was intended to be the “school” in which Godly learning was learned. God thereby states that this is why he despises divorce. It undermines the very foundation of God’s divine plan for perpetuation of the precepts and mandates of God. It undermines the very tool on which God has chosen to spread the Gospel. Malachi's plea paves the way for the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The question needs to be asked. Are we doing this today? Are we truly worshipping the God of the Bible or are we worshipping a god of our own making. A god that only exists within the confines of our own minds. A god that is a crossbreed of the God of the Bible and some bastardized version of Baal or Molech or some other long forgotten idol lost to history that has now resurfaced in the form of consumerism, materialism, greed or some other nonsense mixed with our Holy God. Do we have an unholy mutation? Have we put these things before God and taught our children to do the same. God have mercy on us and forgive us if we have. God help us fix these twisted concepts and make them right in Your eyes.

May 22, 2011

Minor Prophets XCIX: A Bullhorn for The Almighty

In Malachi 2:1-9 it is clear that God doesn’t view the priest’s actions as commensurate with that worthy of a Levite priest. In this passage Malachi immediately launches into a warning (on God’s behalf) that acknowledges that He knows they are doing wrong and “If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name” He says they will be cursed. As a matter of fact, He has already cursed them since they have resolved not to honor God either willingly or through their involuntary action and behavior.

The current priests in Malachi’s time are not measuring up to the expectations of God. I base this on the statement from Malachi: “My covenant was with him, a covenant of life and peace, and I gave them to him; this called for reverence and he revered me and stood in awe of my name” He continues by making statements such as “True instruction was in his mouth and nothing false was found on his lips” and “and turned many from sin

Priests are called to preserve the knowledge of God, because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. Instead these “priests” turned away from the precepts of God and have caused many to fall. The priests have violated their solemn vows to the Lord so He has caused them to be despised and humiliated before all the people, because they have not obeyed God’s precepts and put forth the Law in the proper manner thereby causing many to sin and fall into condemnation.

Sometimes I wonder about those that follow in the tradition of the Levites nowadays. Our pastors in our churches. How many really are truly trying to put forth what they believe to the best of their ability is what God wills…or are they putting forth what they think is the best for the Church. Do they answer to the desires and wills of their hearts which are wicked and depraved or are they doing the best to assure they are in line with what the Bible (God) says and what the Holy Spirit has convicted them to do? Do they have that “still small voice”. We see them all over the media, in the news and even in our local churches. Pastors or so-called spiritual leaders that claim to have the "5 Steps to Whatever" to make your life better. Or the Pastor-Writer who deliberately writes provocative books that do more to promote his "hip" views rather than glorify the God he is called to proclaim. Or the so-called evangelist that can heal on command. The Pastor that preaches, neh, rails against sexual immorality or homosexuality only to be caught in a compromising sexual situation out of wedlock or with the same gender. The leader that preaches and teaches modesty and frugality and comes to service to preach in a different 2K suit every week. The leader who has to tell people how wise he is and how great he is only to be found incompetent and not what he said he was. Those that blow their own horn need to be watched with a leery eye. When they say, "You can trust me" you know something is amiss. Those that understand their place as the servant are serve better. Where are you? Where is the leader of your church. Are you using discernment? Are they?

The Pastor or the spiritual leader of a church is called to be the "servant of the servants of God" not some self-proclaimed king. He is to adhere to the precepts of the Bible. He is not there to promote his agenda or a political agenda, he is there to teach the Word of God. He is not their to expand his kingdom, he is there to promote The Kingdom. God's Kingdom. He is not a bullhorn for his ideas, he is a bullhorn for God.

May 21, 2011

Minor Prophets XCVIII: The Sound of A Slamming Door


Malachi 1:2-3 “I have loved you,” says the LORD. “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

So what does God mean when He says, "Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated" in verse 2 & 3?

In the phrase love….hated, the terms are not to be understood as emotions but rather a choice over one as opposed to the other for a covenant relationship. To hate someone in this way meant to reject them and to disavow any “loving” association with them. These verbs may not necessarily indicate eternal implications for Jacob or Esau either. This words appear to be directed at the nations descended from these two men.

What should also be noted is that they are in the perfect tense so not only do they express a past relationship with Israel and Edom but also the historical and present dealings with them as of Malachi’s day. Israel and Edom were judged by the Babylonians but it is only Israel that is restored. All future attempts at restoration by Edom are thwarted. They are never to be restored.

In Malachi 1:6-14 we move on to see a particular group being addressed by Malachi.

In v.6: Malachi fingers the priests in his rhetorical questioning. The priests ask a stupid question of their own (or perhaps it is legit since they are so desensitized to their own sin), “'How have we despised your name?”. They did not even realize they were “dissing” or disrespecting God. Dummies. In v.7 defiled food is referred to here. This should’ve been enough to make the priests repent but they were clueless as is evident by their next question, “‘How have we defiled you?” They had defiled God “By saying that the LORD’s table is contemptible.” They had offered blemished unacceptable blind animals for sacrifice and sacrificed lame or diseased animals” Offerings that even a human governor would’ve most likely been offended by. Their teaching had caused many to stumble.

In verse 1:10 we can make a specific and contemporary application to us in the modern church that think heaven is a sure thing. Think again.

“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the LORD Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands.” Malachi 1:10

Malachi is serious when he says that it would be better if the temple doors are shut rather than continue worthless worship. It is incredulous to him that these goofy priests would think that there is any value in such a disrespectful display of careless meaningless worship. God is not pleased with the sacrifice and is even less pleased with those committing these misguided fake displays of reverence. Ironically I can’t help but think that God would feel the same about the “going-through-the-motions” worship by today’s church goers that only show up at church to “save face” or “put in their time” to get to heaven. The modern church attenders that only give lip service but when it actually comes to putting in time on their knees in true repentance and in contrite behavior they are AWOL. I believe there will be a lot of surprised people in heaven that have few rewards or worse, they will be in a long warm eternity a little south of righteous. They will be baffled by the fact they thought they knew the Lord but instead they will hear, “I never knew you”. That door they hear slamming may not be the door to the Temple or Church either....it may be the gates of Heaven slamming in their faces.

May 20, 2011

Book Review: Jesus and The Gospels by Craig Blomberg

This is an excellent starting point for understanding Jesus Christ and the times that surrounded Him. The text delves into the all aspects of Christology without going so deep as to alienate a new believer striving to understand their Savior. From the publishers website I quote: 
In my own critique I would say that this is an excellent conservative work of scholarship by Craig Blomberg. It is broken down into five comprehenive sections that include:
  • Part One: Historical Background for Studying the Gospels
  • Part Two: Critical Methods for Studying the Gospel
  • Part Three: Introduction to the Four Gospels
  • Part Four: A Survey of the Life of Christ
  • Part Five: Historical and Theological Syntheses
These sections help digest the breadth and scope of Christ's life and His times (including the Jewish background). This book aids in understanding the Gospels themselves collectively and individually. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone wishing to gain a deeper understanding of Jesus Christ and the players of the New Testament (and inter-testamental) world. What is truly great about this book is that you do not need to be a bible scholar to appreciate it. If there is a notable drawback in this book it is in Part Two: Critical Methods of Studying the Gospel concerning literary and historical criticism. It becomes a little dense and seems to bog down a tad in this area. Once you are through this portion things speed up again.

Rating: 95 out of 100

A sample chapter can be found here:
Part One: Historical Background for Studying the Gospels

"This second edition of Jesus and the Gospels prepares readers for an intensive study of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the events they narrate. Craig Blomberg considers the historical context of the Gospels and sheds light on the confusing interpretations brought forth over the last two centuries. The original 1997 book won a Gold Medallion Award from the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, and this updated version, factoring in new scholarship, debate, critical methods, and the ongoing quest of the historical Jesus, ensures the work will remain a top tool for exploring the life of Christ through the first four books of the New Testament"
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