Justification by faith

[STUDY] JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH SERIES- (1443) NOW THE LORD HAD SAID UNTO ABRAM, GET THEE OUT OF THY COUNTRY AND FROM THY KINDRED AND FROM THY FATHERS HOUSE, UNTO A LAND THAT I WILL SHOW THEE. AND I WILL MAKE OF THEE A GREAT NATION AND I WILL BLESS THEE AND MAKE THY NAME GREAT AND YOU WILL BE A BLESSING- Gen 12:1-2. I think for the next few days I will try and cover some key verses in both the old and new testaments that deal with the doctrine of justification by faith. I covered this subject in my Romans, Galatians, Hebrews [chapter 11] studies; and of course the doctrine of believing in Jesus and ‘being saved’ is found in the gospel of John study and the Acts study. But for the most part the main verses on the subject are these few in Genesis and the key chapters from Romans [3-4] and Galatians [2-4]. The doctrine simply means that God has chosen to justify [declare legally righteous] all those who have faith in Christ. There are many varied ways that Christian communions deal with the whole process of salvation, some churches are what you would call Sacramental [they believe in the process of God using the sacraments to administer grace to the soul of the believer, and that thru these sacraments, mixed with faith, believers become justified] and others hold more closely to the Pauline idea of faith being the actual mechanism that God uses to justify [which is my personal view]. Many modern Protestants who strongly disagree with the sacramental churches [Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican] fail to see that most of the reformers embraced some form of sacramentalism along with their belief in justification by faith. Luther being the strongest example; his embracing of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist [body, blood, soul and divinity] caused him to split from the great Swiss reformer, Ulrich Zwingli, and Luther believed Zwingli to be damned because he rejected the body of Christ! So for today’s ‘neo-reformed’ [the resurgence among Calvinism in our day] to be so quick to condemn many other types of Christians [Like those who follow Tom Wright] these are not ‘being fair’ to the broad system of belief that many of the great reformers held to. Okay, the above verse begins the journey between God and Abraham, thru a series of events thru out Abraham’s life God will reveal himself to Abraham, and at those times Abraham has a choice to either believe the promises of God to him- or reject them. These promises center around God telling Abraham that he will have a future dynasty of children that will bless the whole earth. In this dynasty there will be a special son that comes out of the tribe of Judah [Jesus] and he will be the promised seed to whom the promises were made [Galatians 3,4]. Paul the apostle will use the great father of the faith, Abraham, to convince the Jewish people that God justifies people by faith, and not by the works of the law. Paul goes to these past historic events [Gen 12, 15] and shows his fellow Jews that God did indeed justify Abraham [count him righteous] when he believed in the promise made to him by God [Gen 15]. Paul says ‘see, God justified Abraham before he was circumcised, therefore justification [being legally made right with God] is by faith and not by the keeping of the law’. This argument from Paul is simple, yet masterful. His Jewish audience knew these stories well, they just never ‘saw’ what Paul was seeing; once he broke thru ‘the veil’ [Corinthians] that blinded their hearts from the truth, then they could not escape the reality of what he taught them- these cultural stories of father Abraham would never be the same again. As I progress over the next few days I want to note that when we get to the book of James, we will be looking at a different type of justification than what Paul focused on. James will use the great event from Abraham’s life, the offering up of his son Isaac on the altar [Gen 22] as the event to define justification from his view. Many reformed do not fully see what James is saying, in my view. This type of ‘bible study’ [the type where we try and make everything fit our view] is common among many good men, but it fails to see that the scriptures come to us more in the sense of a portable library of books that cover the various perspectives of the time. Now, I am not advocating the view that the scriptures err, or that the bible has ‘competing theologies’ what I am saying is James use of the word ‘justification’ is actually a different use than what Paul means when he uses the Genesis 15 example to explain justification. Instead of trying to reconcile James with Paul by saying ‘all James means is the faith that saves has works’, which is limited indeed, we should leave room for seeing how James is coming to the table from a different point of view. James being one of the lead apostles at the Jerusalem council from Acts 15, and his defense of the importance of works from the strong Jewish background. I think Hebrews 11 actually deals with this subject [go read my commentary on the chapter to see where I’m coming from]. Okay, let’s leave off for now- go read the studies I just mentioned, familiarize yourself with the key chapters and will do some more tomorrow. (1444) AND HE TOOK HIM OUTSIDE AND SHOWED HIM THE STARS AND SAID ‘LOOK AT THEM, CAN YOU NUMBER THEM’ AND THE LORD SAID ‘SO SHALL YOUR OFFSPRING BE’ AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED IN GOD AND HE CREDITED IT TO HIS ACCOUNT AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Genesis 15:5-6 [my paraphrase] As we journeyed from chapter 12, where God made the initial promise to Abraham, a few things occurred; God separated Abraham from his nephew Lot. The kings attacked Sodom and took Lot captive, Abraham took his men and went and freed Lot. The king of Sodom tries to reimburse Abraham for his good deed, Abraham turns him down. Abraham also went into Egypt and lied about Sarah his wife, out of fear he told the Egyptians she was his sister [so they wouldn’t kill him to get his wife] and the king takes her and later rebukes Abraham for lying. So he returns to the special place named Bethel [house of God] and regroups. Now in chapter 15 Abraham has some doubts, God gave Abraham this great promise of many children; but he has no kids yet! Abraham is getting up in years [around 75] and so is Sarah his wife; Abraham asks the Lord to consider counting his servant as his heir, this was done in those days. The Lord turns him down and says ‘no, one born from you will be the heir’ and this is just one stop of many along the path of Abraham’s doubts. Yes, he comes up with another winner down the road [like having a kid with the maid!] But this promise in chapter 15, and Abraham’s response by faith, is the actual text Paul uses in Galatians and Romans to show that being justified comes by faith, and not by keeping the law. I want to stress, this example from Abrahams life was real, he really was justified in Gods eyes by believing in the future promise of having a great dynasty; like I said in the last post, he was believing in Jesus when he believed in the promise. In the next few days I will try and cover some key verses in Galatians and Romans, but most of all I want you to see how God forgives people, makes them legally just in his sight, not because of what they have done- trying to do good, be a church goer, trying hard to keep the 10 commandments; all of these things are noble efforts, but they don’t earn God’s forgiveness, but God’s forgiveness is based on the grounds that Jesus died for our sins and rose again. All who believe in this promise are described as ‘the children of God, by faith in Jesus Christ’. Many of the Jewish people looked to Abraham as a great hero of the faith, Paul shows them thru these examples that all who believe, whether Jew or Gentile, become the ‘children of Abraham’ by faith, it’s not an ethnic/cultural thing anymore. If only the Muslims, Arabs and all other groups heard this message from the church; how liberating would this be! But we too often present an ethnic message based upon Old Testament verses that call certain Middle Eastern states ‘the enemies of Israel/God’. These views, not being rightfully filtered thru the message of the Cross, make it very difficult to evangelize the Arab world, after all would you want to embrace a religion whose book said ‘thus saith the Lord, all you white Europeans are a stench in my nostrils’! But because of our unwillingness to present a gospel based solely on faith, and not the ethnic backgrounds of individuals, we have reduced the message of the Cross from the wide net that the apostles used when presenting the message of Jesus- Lets declare with certainty ‘yes, we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’ Amen. (1445) WAS NOT ABRAHAM OUR FATHER JUSTIFED BY WORKS WHEN HE OFFERED ISAAC HIS SON UPON THE ALTAR- YE SEE THEN HOW THAT BY WORKS A MAN IS JUSTIFED AND NOT BY FAITH ONLY- WAS NOT RAHAB THE HARLOT JUSTFIED BY WORKS? James 2:22-26. Okay, in Genesis chapter 22 we read the story of God telling Abraham to offer up his son Isaac upon the altar. Abraham obeys God and at the last minute the Lord stops him; but the angel of the Lord says because he did this, that now God knows he can be trusted and God will fulfill his promise to him. James uses this story to define what he means when he speaks of ‘being justified’ in Gods sight. I believe there have been many noble attempts at trying to reconcile this passage with the passages in Romans and Galatians where Paul specifically says ‘a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith’. Paul clearly teaches us that men cannot be justified by the works of the law; James says ‘see how men are justified by works’. The explanations I have heard go like this ‘James was simply saying the faith that saves is an active living faith’ ‘James is simply saying men are justified in the sight of other men by their works’ ‘James is simply saying true faith has works along with it’ while all of these things are true, they seem to not adequately deal with the 3 passages I quoted at the top. James says that when Abraham offered up his son on the altar that the scripture was fulfilled that said ‘he believed in God and he counted it to him for righteousness’. James is fully aware of the Genesis 15 promise to Abraham, the key verse Paul uses to define justification by faith; it’s just James is speaking about the process thru out life where men actually become righteous in practice, which is a result of being legally made righteous by faith. In essence when James says ‘see how men are justified by works’ he is describing the act of God being pleased with us, God having the right to say ‘yes, you obeyed me son, and I call you righteous in my eyes because you did obey me’. This process can be defined as being ‘justified by works’ while not contradicting Paul’s use of the term ‘justification by faith’. To me it is quite clear that James is saying more than just ‘real faith has works’ no, he is saying that the legal/forensic act of justification by faith [Gen. 15] leads to a life of actually doing just things [obeying God- Gen. 22] and when the legally justified believer obeys God, in a sense he is justified in Gods sight [not men’s!] by these works. Now, this does not mean men are ‘saved’ by doing good works, in the sense that Paul uses ‘saved’ but James is saying that when believers do good works, these works cause a response from God that can be defined as ‘being justified in Gods sight by our good works’ a totally different theme than Paul. This passage has been a difficult one for many years, Luther battled with it and at one point called James epistle a ‘straw epistle’ he doubted its canonicity. The Catholic Church used this very passage in their council at Trent to refute what they saw as Luther’s neglect of good works. I have had Mormons and other various Christian groups use this passage in defending certain aspects of their churches; this passage is well worn in the annals of Christian apologetics, I think the explanation that I just gave is the best one; the other efforts that have been made to explain this passage have some truth to them, but at the end of the day they don’t fully explain the clear text of the above passages. I think this explanation explains them. (1446) ‘Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no man be justified’ ‘I do not frustrate the grace of God, if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain’ ‘But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for the just shall live by faith’ Galatians 2:16, 21, 3:11. Okay, these verses [as well as the book of Romans] strongly show us the New Testament doctrine of being justified when we believe in Christ. To many people this idea seems contrary to the normal belief that being a good person, doing good, going to ‘church’ trying to keep the 10 commandments; these are the normal ideas on what people think they need to do to ‘be saved’; yet the apostle shows us that our redemption is solely based on Christ’s death for us. He even says ‘if righteousness [being made just legally] comes by keeping the law, then Christ died in vain’! It almost seems strange for this doctrine to be found in the bible! Yet it is the basis of New Testament Christianity, which is based on a New Covenant [in contrast to the old one, which was the law] this New Covenant is grounded on the death and resurrection of Jesus; as Paul says ‘if Christ died for all of us, then we are all dead- so let those who now live, live unto God’. When I first became a Christian and started reading the bible, I saw these promises as saying ‘all who believe in Jesus are saved’ but I noticed how many believers taught a type of conversion that watered down this doctrine; some said ‘yes, you accept the Lord by faith’ and they seemed to add all types of steps that needed to be ‘done in faith’ in order to be a true believer. Whether it was an elaborate evangelical scheme that eventually led to kneeling at an altar in some church, or whether it was the exact memory and dating of the day you asked ‘Jesus into your heart’. Now I’m sure there are many fine believers who have come to the journey this way, my point is not to doubt their conversion; but the more I became aware of these many ideas, the more I studied the scriptures to see if faith really meant ‘faith’. My own conversion came from truly seeing the promises in John’s gospel on believing and having eternal life. It was more of an awakening, sort of God breaking thru and revealing grace to me. Now, my conversion was rather drastic, it wasn’t a slow coming to the Lord, but it didn’t fit the sinner’s prayer scheme that many of my Baptist friends embraced. I also noticed how many of my friends, after hearing the evangelical version for so long, would then ‘get saved’ for real! They would be convinced by some well meaning evangelist that their initial conversion was shot thru with holes, then they would sort of fabricate a ‘more legitimate’ conversion. Even strong believers would do this. So then you had to deal with the fact that these fellow believers, who were truly walking with the Lord for a while, were really lost all along! This process struck fear into the hearts of all the other church members, after all how many of them were deceived too? So I began to study the bible to see if bible conversions really meant this often elaborate schema. One thing I noticed is all of these verses on being justified by faith were based on the main promise to Abraham from God, which consisted of God taking Abraham outside and telling him ‘see the stars, your offspring will be like this’ and it actually was a passive act of belief, not some act of Abraham doing something, that is defined as the day God justified Abraham. Then I ran across Acts chapter 10, and this story shows Peter preaching to the gentiles and they simply believed the message and the Spirit fell on them- Peter was not expecting a conversion, they were surprised. This also was a passive type conversion. In the letter we are quoting from in this post [Galatians] Paul describes it like this ‘He that works miracles among you, does he do it by the works of the law or the HEARING OF FAITH’ Paul will describe their conversion as a point in time where they heard and had faith, again another seeming violation of the active conversion model. The main point being that yes, there are cases where the conversion is reduced to the simple act of believing in the gospel when it’s first preached. To be fair, in the New Testament the outward ‘act’ that usually took place on ‘conversion day’ was water baptism, so if we were totally honest with ourselves we could say that water baptism was the altar call of the New Testament, but the fact is faith itself is identified as the basis of our justification, faith in Christ. (1448) ‘Now we know that what things so ever the law saith, it saith to them that are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no person become just in God’s sight: for by the law comes the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is manifested, even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all that believe’ Romans 3:19-22. Once again Paul makes clear that people become right in God’s eyes when they believe in his son, the attempt at becoming right with God by obeying the law is futile. Why? Because that was never the intended purpose of the law. God gave the law to reveal to man his sin; when men would try to live up to the standard, they would fall short and realize their need for a savior and then would turn to Christ. Paul says before the law came [before he personally became aware of it] he was without guilt, but once he realized the statutes of God and saw Gods holy standard; he said that sin in him revived and he died. Or the law caused a reaction in him that made his sinful nature appear to be much worse than he originally thought. Paul said in Galatians that the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ, but after faith has come we are no longer under a schoolmaster. He said ‘wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions till the seed should come [Jesus=seed, offspring] to whom the promise was made’. Paul taught that the purpose of the law was to reveal to man his own sin, that there never was a law given that a man could obey in order to become saved. The other day I googled the ministry name and was glad to see that some Catholic friends have been posting our site on Catholic sites. Great! My goal is not to convince fellow Christians to change churches, or become Protestant; my goal is to accurately teach the truth to all who want to hear. To some of our Catholic friends these verses seem unbelievable, that is they might seem too good to be true. I want to assure you that the Catholic church believes the things that I just taught! But like all Christian churches, sometimes we don’t effectively communicate these truths to the people. Many people do not realize that the current Pope, Benedict, is one of the most able theologians that the church has had in this office. John Paul the 2nd was a great man, don’t get me wrong. But he was more of a philosopher/humanist charismatic figure; Benedict is more of a teacher. Why mention this? Because you will notice that the last year or so the Pope has made an extra effort to teach Paul’s epistles and to focus more on a strong Christology than in past years. This Pope has made efforts to bridge the gap between Protestants and Catholics; he also has come closer to the Protestant view of certain passages that speak of justification by faith. A few years ago a joint statement was made that many Protestants saw as a major breakthrough in this very area. I want to assure my Catholic readers, yes- it sounds too good to be true, but it is! Even your church believes it! That is we all believe that we are freely saved by Gods grace that comes to us thru the Cross of Christ. I would be dishonest to say there are no more difficult doctrinal issues between the great Christian confessions, but I can say for a surety ‘we are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ’. Note- I am not saying the Catholic church does not believe in the importance of keeping the 10 commandments, they believe that all Christians should keep the commandments. (1449) ‘What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein’? Romans 6:1 Being we are just hitting on the theme of justification by faith, and because I already did an entire study on Romans, I will skip over chapter 4; but I want to mention that chapter 4 covers a lot of important material about Abraham and the fact that God justified him prior to his circumcision, Paul uses this illustration to show us that being accepted with God transcends ethnic/racial lines. Many of the Jewish people of Paul’s day [including Paul’s former life!] saw acceptance with God along the lines of ethnic/cultural relations; if you were part of the Jewish nation and partook of all the rights and privileges of ethnic Israel, then you were seen as being accepted with God. But Paul’s message of justification by faith applies to ‘all the seed’ [offspring] not just to those who have become circumcised and have joined into ethnic Israel. So these points are important to understand. But now let’s get to the above verse. Paul will emphatically teach that the message of free grace does not mean we have a license to sin; he teaches this in ALL of his letters. It’s easy to focus in on the justification by faith themes [which we are doing in this study] and overlook the moral teachings of the apostle. Paul will teach ethics, not from a legal/law grounding [obey the 10 commandments] but from a new resurrection reality. He states that those of us who have been joined [baptized] into Christ have identified with him in death; the old man [sinful nature] has died along with Jesus and has been buried. Now that we are alive with him we live a new life unto God. Paul will say ‘shall we sin because we are now under grace and not under law’ and notice, he does not appeal to the law, instead he says ‘no, because whoever you serve [sin or righteousness] you become a slave to it, and if you are a slave to sin you will die’. Paul appeals to the reality of sin and death as still being a real price to be paid by those who reject Jesus. It’s important to see this theme from Paul, it backs up his teaching that believers are not under the law. In the next day or so I will wrap up this study; if I had the time and space I could go thru all the moral mandates we find in Paul’s letters, and it would be an important thing to emphasize. It’s just this is not the purpose of this study. But I would be remiss if I did not at least hit a few key scriptures from the apostle himself that show us that he certainly was not teaching lawlessness; he himself stressed the need for believers living a holy life. Its just the grace to live it comes from the power of the Cross, not from the law. (1450) BUT NOW WE ARE DELIVERED FROM THE LAW, THAT BEING DEAD WHEREIN WE WERE HELD; THAT WE SHOULD SERVE IN NEWNESS OF SPIRIT, AND NOT IN THE OLDNESS OF THE LETTER. Romans 7:6 I think this will be a good chapter to end our series on justification by faith. Paul uses one of my favorite analogies to describe the new relationship we have in Christ; he says a woman, as long as her husband is alive, is bound by the law to her husband. If she goes out and sleeps with another man, she is convicted by the law and is committing adultery. But if the husband dies, then the same act of being with another man [in marriage] is no longer called adultery, by virtue of the death of the husband she has become free from the law that condemned her. Now Paul teaches that we too have become dead to the law thru the death of Christ, so that we should be married to another; even to him who died and rose again! I have often said it’s sad that believers in our day know all the catch phrases, they are familiar with the pop Christian culture verses and all, but these very important themes are often overlooked. Would to God that all believers were familiar with this scripture, walking around in life quoting ‘we have become dead to the old law thru Christ, we are now alive with him and are married to him who rose from the grave’. Thru out this chapter Paul once again shows that the law is holy and good, but its purpose was to arouse in us our sinful nature in order to reveal to us the need for a savior. The old way of life for Paul was one of condemnation and never being able to do enough to appease his sinful conscience, when he saw the realities of the new covenant he was delivered from that old mindset and began to see a new way to approach God, a free liberating walk with God, apart from the daily grind of trying in his own power to become righteous. Many good believers struggle with this for years, and there really is no trick or gimmick to the spirit filled life. Paul will go on and teach the need for self discipline; he said he ‘beat his body to bring in into subjection’ he obviously was not espousing a Christian walk that never had struggles again. But he was telling us that there is a fundamental difference between approaching the Christian life thru a legalistic mindset, or thru the freedom that comes from Christ. In conclusion we have learned that right from the early days of Abraham God had revealed to us that there was coming a day when men would approach God upon the grounds of faith, and not by works; that God included this great promise in the bible since the beginning; it was not an afterthought! Paul showed us that this new way of life was ordained of God before the law was given; it just took a couple of thousand years to get to the promised ‘seed’. Paul showed us that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised child, and now that he has come we are no longer under the schoolmaster [law] but we have been freed from the old law thru the death of Christ, we are now married to another, even to him who rose from the grave- AMEN!

Judges- Ruth

JUDGES, RUTH study http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-cD Gideon http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-cG Parable of trees http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-cN Jephthah http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-e1 Lightning crashes http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-ez Judges conc. http://wp.me/a4V5qQ-ec Samson https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/05/gone-fishing-ruth-1/ https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/6-1-16-beware-of-it.zip Ruth 2 https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/07/ogopogo-ruth-3/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/08/over-the-rainbow-ruth-conc/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/king-david/ I’ve been commenting on the book of Ruth- and talk about it on today’s video. Few points- When I taught the book of judges- we saw how God raised up deliverers- who defeated the ‘wicked’ enemies. One of those enemies was Moab. Yet- in the Old testament- the book of Ruth comes right after Judges- why? Ruth’s story took place at the time of the judges- and it gives us a ‘good’ thing that happened- a story of a righteous girl- who was from Moab. We see redemption in the book. Ruth was the daughter in law of Naomi. Naomi and her husband moved to Moab during a time of famine. They took 2 sons with them. Naomi’s husband died- the 2 sons got married while there. Then the sons died. Naomi was devastated- and decided to go back home. She tells her 2 daughters in law that she’s leaving- and says goodbye. But Ruth desires to go back to Naomi’s home land- Judah/Israel. Ruth is a young beautiful girl- and her mother in law says ‘why go back with me- even if I have another son- would you wait till he was old enough- so you could marry him’? Yet Ruth insists- and makes Naomi’s God- hers. When they return- Ruth goes to glean [get the leftovers] of the Barley/grain from the pickers. The women did this at the time- they were permitted to get the grain that was left behind. She works in a field owned by Boaz- who just happens to be a relative of Naomi- which means he can ‘redeem’ Ruth. The Kinsman Redeemer was a man in the family who ‘took up’ for the weaker in the family. And he had the right to marry the widow of another family member- to raise up children for the relative [brother] who died. So- Ruth was a widow- from a relative of Boaz [Naomi’s dead son]. See redemption here? She was ‘connected’ to the family- by the death of a ‘son’. Moabites had not right to the God of Israel- they were pagans. Yet- she is now in a position of ‘being redeemed’. Boaz shows special favor towards Ruth- he tells the reapers- the pickers of the grain- to leave extra in the field- just for Ruth. Ruth goes to lie down with Boaz- a sign that she’s willing to marry him. Boaz is an older man- and he’s surprised that Ruth- a young beautiful girl- would even want him. He says she shows nobility- because she could have any of the younger men- but she’s doing a right thing. But there’s one Catch- Boaz tells Ruth that there is a closer near relative- and he has to go see if that man wants Ruth first- if not- Boaz will marry her. Ok- that’s what I covered on the video- Ruth 1-3. I’ll mention chapter 4- the last chapter- on a future video. But- to not leave you hanging too much. Boaz and Ruth will have a son- by the name of Obed. Obed has a son- by the name of Jesse. And Jesse has a son- King David. Ruth is mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthews Gospel. It’s quite a story of redemption- that this Moabite girl- had a son who was a great ancestor of Jesus himself. Jesus is our ‘Boaz’ our redeemer- Who ‘married’ people who were not worthy- yet we- his bride- have been ‘redeemed’. And as Boaz loved Ruth- so Jesus loves us- his bride. Yes- a true romance indeed. Matthew 1:5 And Salmon begat Booz of Rachab; and Booz begat Obed of Ruth; and Obed begat Jesse; Matthew 1:6 And Jesse begat David the king; and David the king begat Solomon of her that had been the wife of Urias; (878)RUTH 1- During the time of the judges there was a famine in the land. A Jewish couple, Naomi and Elimelech, leave their home land and travel to Moab. They take their two boys. During their time in Moab the boys marry. The girl’s names are interesting. One has the same name as a famous TV talk show host, Oprha! [actually it’s Orpah] the other is Ruth. Elimelech dies and eventually the two boys die as well. You have to stop and think of this tragedy for a moment. Is it possible that relocating to Moab was rebellion against the Lord? They did leave the promised land because things got tough. How often do we relocate under these types of circumstances? Naomi is left with her two daughters in law and she decides to return to the homeland. The girls want to go with her, but Naomi tells them ‘why go with me? I am too old to give you any more husbands. Stay in your own land and culture’. Orpah stays and becomes a very popular woman talk show host [okay, that’s it. I won’t do this again] and Ruth says ‘I will return with you and your family and culture AND GOD will be mine’. She chooses the true God of Israel over the pagan gods of Moab. Now, Naomi has suffered tragedy, she refers to herself as bitter. By all outward appearances she has failed in life. But wait, one of the most coveted things to happen for a woman of Israel was to have a part in the role of the Messiah. Ever since the promise in Genesis ‘the woman’s seed shall bruise the serpents head’ [the earliest evangel in scripture] all women from Israel wanted to be the mother of ‘that seed’ [Messiah]. If you weren’t the mother, the next best thing was to play a role in the lineage. Naomi will be the matchmaker of a couple that the lineage of messiah will be traced thru. God often used barren women, women who were deemed ‘cursed’ to play a major role in his purposes. I do realize that in the natural it did not look good for poor Naomi. I am sure all her friends gave her the standard ‘Oh dear, we are so glad to see you’ but later on must have thought ‘what on earth happened to that family? She left with big dreams and came back a widow!’ Are you feeling barren right now? Do you feel humiliated because the vision and purpose you told everyone about has not come to pass? Now is the time to find your purpose and destiny in God. You might just be in line to fulfill a greater, less obvious destiny. It might not look so glorious now, but maybe one day when the history books are written, your role will outlive the naysayers of the present hour. (879)RUTH 2- Ruth goes out during the Barley harvest and gleans in the field. Gleaning was engrained in the law of Israel. It allowed for the poor of the land to gather up the leftovers from the initial harvest. The land owners had to leave the corners of the field ‘un reaped’ as well. Ruth ‘happens’ [by chance] to glean in the field of Boaz, a next of kin. He is called the ‘kinsman redeemer’ this speaks of being a close relative [from the Hebrew word ‘go’el’] who had the right to redeem the goods of a relative who had died. Their stuff would go up for public auction and the redeemer had first shot at it. He also had the right to buy back a fellow relative from slavery, or even avenge the blood of a relative who was murdered. Ruth just happened to come into his portion of the field. He was a relative of her father in law Elimelech who had died in Moab. Boaz asks who she is, the men tell her she is the Moabite who came back with Naomi. Boaz tells his men ‘take it easy on her, let her get a good portion of barley. Even let some extra fall for her’. He favors Ruth. She even asks why he is treating her so well and he tells her it is because he heard how she did such a noble thing in staying with Naomi after no one was left. It kinda reminds me of the good works of Cornelius in Acts chapter 10. Scripture says his alms and prayers came up before God as a memorial. Boaz didn’t simply treat Ruth well for no good cause, she reaped what she sowed! Ruth goes home and tells Naomi about the situation and she says ‘great, he is a next of kin. Keep working with him’. Naomi realizes that if things work out that Boaz just might claim Ruth for himself. The Kinsman redeemer is a type of Christ. He needed to have the substance to ‘buy back’ the possessions. He needed to be related [by blood] and he needed to be willing. Unlike the mandate for a brother to marry a sister in law and raise up children to his dead brother, the Kinsman redeemer had free choice. He could pass up on the offer if he wanted. Jesus chose to go to the Cross for all humanity. He had the ‘substance’ [he had the perfect life to lay down] and the willingness to purchase us. In this chapter we see the sovereign hand of God at work. Though the scripture says ‘she happened’ by chance upon the field, yet we realize that in Gods plan nothing ‘just happens’. God was directing the course of Ruth to meet up with Boaz, God knew that he would use their eventual marriage as a tool to bring forth the Messiah. (880)RUTH 3- Naomi advises Ruth to go to Boaz at night and lay down beside him. Boaz is at the threshing floor, a place where you went to thresh the wheat/barley. Threshing was simply the process of sticking a pitch fork type instrument into a bushel full of wheat and throwing it into the air. The wind would blow away the chaff [bad stuff] and the good stuff would fall onto the floor. Sort of like sifting for gold. In the New Testament Jesus is said to be coming with the pitchfork in his hand and he is going to thresh his wheat. This was a symbol to natural Israel that the time of judgment and cleansing had arrived. Jesus would spiritually shake things up and allow the wind of the Holy Spirit to cleanse away that which was useless. Ruth lays next to Boaz and Boaz wakes up startled. He realizes that Ruth is basically showing that she wants Boaz to redeem her. For him to function as the kinsman redeemer and marry her. Boaz informs Ruth that he will do it, but first he has to make sure the closer relative to Ruth doesn’t want to perform the task. Boaz was second in line as the redeemer. He asks Ruth for her veil and he fills it up with barley [like a sack] and she returns to Naomi. Let’s spiritualize a little bit. Often times the lord will take the ‘veil’ [darkness/depression] and turn it into a full harvest. The very thing that seemed to be a dark period in your life becomes the actual capacity for a full reward. Scripture commands us to come out from a place of mourning and darkness and to put on a new veil of rejoicing. Ruth’s experience was one of difficulty. She originally married into what seemed to be a stable family. After the death of her Father in law and husband [and brother in law!] things were not looking too good. Ruth persevered and transitioned into a new culture and environment. A very difficult thing to do during a time of upheaval and disappointment. The scripture says ‘if your strength fails in the day of adversity, it is small’. Don’t feel condemned, but if the truth be told it really isn’t our knowledge and natural ability that brings us into success, it is the maturity that God builds into you thru out your life. The ability to face difficult situations and to press ahead. Ruth prevailed thru some tuff stuff, she got a ‘veil full of barley’ in return. (881)RUTH 4- Boaz tells Ruth that he must first ask the closer relative if he wants to inherit Ruth and her husband’s inheritance. The closer relative turns down the offer, he can not harm his own inheritance by building up the heritage of Ruth. Boaz goes thru the public act of calling ten elders of the city together to witness the passing of the title deed to him. He marries Ruth and they have a son named Obed. He will become the father of Jesse who is the father of King David. The Lord used the tragedy of Naomi to carry thru her a divine link to the Messiah. The women of the town praise Naomi and tell her how blessed she is to have obtained an inheritance for her son and lineage when all hope was gone. There was a time in Naomi’s life when all looked lost. The odds of her pagan daughter in law Ruth, to have actually returned with her to the land and to have married back into the family were next to zero. Naomi reminds me of the verse in Isaiah that says ‘when I was in oppression and unstable I had all these children. How could this have happened’ [my paraphrase!] This was speaking of Israel’s fruitfulness despite her own trials and difficulties. In Isaiah 53 it says of Jesus ‘thou wilt see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied. Thru his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many’. God often sees us in the midst of adversity and watches to see how we will respond. He is not looking for perfection, never stumbling. He is looking for a willingness to continue to trust in him thru it all. These are Divine tests. Naomi prevailed thru great difficulty, she will forever be named as someone who had a role in the history of the Messiah. JUDGES (770) JUDGES 1-2 This part of the story of Israel’s walk with God is a stage where God ‘raised them up judges’. When God initiates divine leadership, it works. Don’t confuse the act of God with the ideas of men. There will come a time where Israel tells God ‘we want a king like the other nations’ and God says by asking this they rejected his headship over them. Being we are coming off of our study in Acts, I want you to see these judges thru the lens of God ordained Elders [leaders]. In Acts, God used men. He even allowed Paul to tell the Christians ‘ordain [recognize] elders in every city’. So it is fine to have a recognized leader in the community [actually in Acts it’s ‘leaders’ plural!] Now the children of Israel ask the Lord ‘who should go up first?’ and the Lord says ‘Judah’. Remember, Jacob blessed Judah and said ‘the scepter shall not depart from Judah’ Judah [praise] is ordained for battle! They start inheriting the land and they leave a remnant of the old ‘ites’ in the land. They basically are so excited about the amount of ground they are covering, that they fail to maintain what God is giving them! ‘Strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die’ REVELATION. An angel rebukes them in chapter 2 for failing to fully [with all their heart] follow the Lord. Caleb’s daughter asks Caleb ‘you have given me a southland, give me also springs of water’. Lets read this thru the eyes of ‘LECTIO DIVINA’ , an ancient way of reading scripture in a devotional sense. You basically try to hear God personally speak to you thru the text. This ‘way’ of reading is not in context, you shouldn’t develop doctrines from it, but it is useful for personal stuff. I just finished praying for ‘the southland’, all the regions in South Texas that we are reaching out to. I [we] need ‘springs of water to go along with the land’. Paul said we can plant and claim and confess all day long, but if Gods Spirit doesn’t fall [water] we will never see a harvest! Israel catches a king on the run and chops off his big toes and thumbs. The king says ‘God paid me back, I too have done this to other kings’. What’s up with this? Basically the guy without thumbs and toes is simply surviving. He can fetch you some water, hold the bucket and all. Or walk around and be your ‘go- for’ guy. But don’t dare try and wield one of those heavy swords, it will come out of your hand! Or don’t try any quick foot moves, you will fall in an instant. The enemy wants to ‘immobilize you’. Give you a retirement mentality ‘sit back and worry about whether or not you have enough resources to make it to 76 and die’. Geez, get up out of that Lazy boy and act like you got some big toes and thumbs! The Israelites also catch some guy fleeing one of the cities and they make him tell them how to get into the city. They then raid the city and take it. Work smarter, not harder! Sometimes we have the mindset of ‘If we just had more money we could change the world’ they could have beat on the walls of the city all day, hired guys to bang on it with hammers! But once God shows you the entrance [key to get in] it goes much smoother. God can knock the walls down [Jericho] but seek him for the process he wants to give to you. Don’t assume the pattern that so and so used will automatically work for you. Don’t confuse the goal [taking the city] with the procedures of the past. God just might want to give you a secret entrance into the city, and you are praying for ‘more wall breakers’ [didn’t me to be crude!]. (771) JUDGES 3- The Lord allows the enemies to remain partly in the land to ‘prove [test] the children who saw not the wars of Canaan’. God allowed the younger generation to learn what it meant to overcome some stuff. We live in a day where many believers are used to sitting in ‘church’ and being passive listeners their whole lives. They are all good people, it’s just they have never really learned how to war. To go out on their own and experience the kingdom. God taught the younger generation how to war. They cried unto the Lord during their oppression and the lord raised up Othniel. [Just a note, the way I do all our teaching (radio/blog) is I read the stuff ahead of time and when I teach I do it from memory. So sometimes you will see a misspelled name!] He is the younger brother of Caleb and he delivers the people. They soon back slide after his death and Eglon, the ‘fat king’ of Moab oppresses them. The Lord raises up Ehud. Notice the Lord is raising these judges up from the community! [Like the elders in Acts]. These judges experienced the same oppression as all the people around them. They lived with the complaints and bitterness of a people oppressed ‘geez, what does Eglon want now!’ The deliverers also didn’t carry all the weight, they simply showed the people that it’s possible to stand up for yourself and fight! Ehud goes to Eglon with ‘a present’ [tribute, the payment for being under him. But Ehud’s present doesn’t end there!] Ehud enters the king’s chamber. He says ‘I have a secret message from God for you’ and Eglon thinks he is going to get a little something extra. He does. Ehud takes his dagger out and shoves it all the way into Eglons fat belly! The handle and all. He escapes thru the porch and locks the doors behind him. He runs back to Israel and blows a trumpet and all the people descend upon Moab and slaughter 10 thousand mighty warriors. God gave them peace for 80 years. The description is graphic. The reason why Eglon is described as ‘fat’ is to show how this rule of lethargy and gluttony was suffocating God’s people. It took a risky, radical act of one man to say ‘I have had enough of this guy, I don’t care if I get killed, I am going to take him down!’ Sometimes it takes radical action to overthrow the spirit of mammon off of Gods people [you fight covetousness, not people!] After the violent [prophetic] act of Ehud, the people gained enough courage to cast the entire ruling nation of Moab off of them. Sometimes God will raise up a singular voice [John the Baptist was a voice in the wilderness] to stir up the people to action. The individual can’t do it alone [he might take down an Eglon] but the people have to cast off the oppressors themselves [or at least finish the job]. (772) JUDGES 4- Deborah judges Israel. Let’s get into the role of women in the ‘church’. Wow, talk about being a glutton for punishment! First, the New Testament clearly teaches that in Christ there is neither male or female, Jew or Greek, bond or free. Paul also lays down some guidelines in Corinthians and his pastoral epistles [Timothy, Titus] on the role of women and leaders in the church. We taught the book of Acts and saw that Phillip had 4 ‘virgins’ who prophesied. Peter quotes the famous Joel prophecy and says ‘in the last days I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, your sons and DAUGHTERS will prophesy’. So we see two themes in the New Testament on women. One, they most certainly can be used in spiritual gifts, even ‘speaking ones’. While at the same time Paul tells the Corinthians to not allow the women to have authority over the men. He even says ‘let them keep silent in the ‘church’. [note- as you read all my teaching on this blog on what the church is, this will answer many questions on this subject. I also am aware of those who make a distinction here between ‘women’ and ‘married women’, the idea that the wives were asking their husbands questions during the meetings and how this could be seen as disorderly and out of custom for the time. The same idea on the subject of women and ‘hats’ in church. Were these instructions dealing with certain customs at Corinth that were peculiar to that city? Corinth was a wild place, the ‘women’ on the streets had customs that went along with ‘their trade’. Some think this played a role in Paul’s guidelines in this letter]. So obviously Paul did not see the reality of all being equal as meaning all have the same roles and responsibilities. Would it be wrong for God to not make everyone an Apostle or Prophet? Of course not. Does this mean that all cant prophesy? No. But God given roles and being equal [in value] in Gods eyes are different things. Would a father be fair if he let 2 of his boys join the football team [or boxing] and discouraged his daughter from doing the same? Just because people have different roles does not mean they do not share equal value. Now, we could go on forever with this. Some used arguments like this to justify slavery, I certainly disagree with that! But I also believe we have gone overboard [certain church ideas] in introducing Pastors as ‘Pastor Bob and Pastor Betty’ to the degree where we feel it would be bigoted to not see them as having the same role. Now, as you understand that the church is the corporate people of God, you will see that God is not ‘restricting’ the function of women as much as it might seem. The fact that the New testament did not have the singular role of ‘The Pastor’ as the primary functioning gift in the Local churches, would show you that even if women were not seen as Elders or Pastors [they were not by the way] would not mean they couldn’t function in spiritual gifts. But because we practice Local church in a way that has a few main leaders doing most of the functioning, this does seem to tell the women ‘you cant be one of us, you cant function’. While in reality this limited view of Local church not only restricts the function of women, but of most of the men as well! So here we see the Lord use Deborah in a leadership position, but even she seems to think that Barak is shrinking back from the role of leadership. She tells him ‘the Lord wants you to go up and defeat the Canaanites’. He is fearful and says ‘I will go if you go too!’ She agrees and also gives a prophetic statement ‘this journey will not be for your glory’. I think the present mindset of church and modern ministry needs to get back to this principle. Jesus told us we are to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily and follow him. We often approach Christianity with the mindset of ‘I will achieve great goals and dreams by using God and scripture to attain all that I want out of life’. While it is true that God loves us and has good plans for us, we also need to see the virtue of actually denying ourselves for Christ. There are [and should be] real things that you desired to do or be at one point in your life, that you consciously laid down for Christ. This is a very real practice that most believers in today’s church environment don’t hear about. What have you given up for Jesus? Even saying it like this sounds strange to our ears! So ‘this journey is not for our glory’. Deborah tells Barak to go and defeat Sisera, the leader of Jabins army [geez, I am quoting all these names as I write, double check the spelling for yourselves]. He goes and defeats the mighty 900 steel chariot army of Jabin. Sisera escapes and hides in Jaels tent [the wife of Heber, descendants of Moses in laws]. He asks her to hide him, she covers him with a blanket. She gives him some milk, as he is sleeping she drives a tent stake thru his head! [Ouch] She then shows Barak that he is dead. God used women to help with the cause. He always has and always will. Jesus broke the etiquette of his day by allowing women to be ‘on his team’. He spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well, a huge no no! He allowed Mary Magdalene to be part of the group. Prostitutes received mercy and wiped his feet with their hair! Jesus broke barriers and used women, but staying within the basic guidelines of ones calling [like women not being elders in the new testament churches] should not be seen as chauvinistic, but as simply submitting [both men and women!] to Gods basic order laid down in the new testament. NOTE- A few years back the southern baptist convention reaffirmed the basic truth that wives should submit to their husbands and husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. Boy did you have a firestorm in the liberal media over this. Both sides [even in the church] have a tendency to use the verses that seem to present their side the most. Paul actually referred to a woman [Junia- Romans 16:7] as a possible Apostle ‘who are of note among the Apostles’[depending on how you read the text]. So I believe the scriptures give us much leeway way in God using women in the church, but we should not think it ‘progressive thinking’ to simply by pass all the other portions of scripture that teach the different roles of men and women. (774)JUDGES 5-6 Deborah sings a victors song in chapter 5. I only want to mention one verse, she says ‘the mountains melted before you, even Sinai’. In the beginning of Judges I skipped the part where Judah defeats Jerusalem. This wording sounds strange in a way! Jerusalem of course was inhabited by the Jebusites and Judah took it. Sinai represents the law and Moses, grace and truth come from Jesus. I simply felt these ideas to be prophetic, speaking of a time in the future [Now, the New Covenant] where these natural identities will bow before the King! ‘The law came thru Moses [Sinai] but grace and truth came from Jesus Christ’. In chapter 6 we see one of the famous stories of a judge, Gideon. At this time in Israel’s history the Midianites were coming up every year during the harvest and wiping them out. It’s not that Israel wasn’t sowing [planting] it’s just they weren’t enjoying the harvest! The enemy left them enough freedom to plant and work the fields, it was just at harvest time when he gave them a hard time. Now Gideon is threshing wheat at ‘the winepress’ which is basically a hole in the ground. You can’t really thresh wheat in a cave! You need a ‘thresingfloor’, an open area where you can throw the wheat in the air and let the wind blow the chaff away. But all the children of Israel were doing this in secret spots to hide from the Midianites. So once again the people call out to God and he does it a little different this time. He sends them a Prophet first who says to them ‘God delivered you from Egypt and bondage, yet you feared the enemy and served false gods’. They were living in fear and permitted idolatry to become part of their worship [covetousness is the New Testament equivalent to idolatry]. Then the Lord sends an angel to Gideon and he tells him ‘you mighty man of valor, God is calling you to lead the people’. Gideon says ‘I come from poverty, I am the least in my family. How can I be the one’? The Lord doesn’t say ‘don’t worry, I will make you rich’ he simply tells Gideon ‘I will go with you’. Jesus used a rag tag team of disciples to turn the world up side down. They would ask ‘how can we feed this multitude, we don’t have the cash’ Jesus was with them! Gideon does this prophetic act and destroys the altar of Baal that was in his city. At night [because he was afraid] he takes 10 guys and they tear it down and erect an altar to God right in the city square. In the morning the men of the city say ‘who in the heck did this’? They are infuriated that someone would disturb the system that they became comfortable with [ouch!] They find out it was Gideon and they go to his house and want to kill him. The dad says ‘hey, if Baal is so offended, then let him do something about it’. Gideon’s dad had a little bit of the Elijah thing going on. Elijah tells the false prophets of Baal ‘where’s Baal? How come he can’t come and consume all this wood? Maybe he’s busy with some other stuff?’ One translation actually says ‘maybe he is on the potty’ these idol destroyers seemed to have no respect for the scared cows of the day. So Baal leaves Gideon alone and Gideon blows the trumpet and sends word to the various tribes. God is raising up Gideon to ‘come upon the enemy as one man’. We will later see the enemy have a dream of Gideon and the people rolling into the enemy’s camp as a Barley loaf. These are prophetic images of the Body of Christ. We are ‘one bread’ so to speak. Notice how the people became accustomed to the altar of Baal in their midst. They were irate that someone came along and shook the apple cart. At first they wanted to kill the guy, but then they recognized [grudgingly!] that Gideon was right. Sometimes the Lord will speak a word into the church that at first seems unbelievable. ‘Who does so and so think he is?’ But if the word is from the Lord, the people will eventually get on board with it and even partake of the benefits from the word. Gideon didn’t turn the troops on the men from his city who wanted to kill him. He simply fulfilled his prophetic destiny and attacked the enemy, not his fellow citizens! He allowed them time to get on the bandwagon, they eventually did. (775) JUDGES 7- God calls Gideon to the battle. He rounds up the troops and is ready to storm the enemy. One thing, God says ‘you have too many resources’. What? I thought you were the God of abundance, don’t you want to multiply everything? Well he is the God of abundance, but that doesn’t always mean ‘more is better’. So God instructs Gideon to simply say ‘we have too many people, so whoever is afraid can go home’. 22 thousand walk out. Ouch! I think Gideon would have snuck out with the crowd too if he wasn’t the Pastor. So they have 10 thousand left. Gideon brings them to the water and God shrinks the group down to 300. So Gideon is supposed to defeat the Midianites and Amalekites and some others with 300 men. He feels ill. The Lord tells him to sneak into the enemy camp at night and listen to what they are saying. He sneaks in and hears one of the guys telling a dream how he saw a Barley loaf [a type of the Body of Christ- we are ‘one bread’ who partake of the bread of life] roll into the camp and flatten a tent. The other guy says ‘this is the sword of Gideon, God has delivered us into his hands’. Gideon hears this prophetic word [from the enemy! I guess Gideon didn’t have any prophets on his team?] and stirs the troops up and says ‘here’s the plan’. He lays out a strategy of splitting up into 3 groups of 100 each, and having them hold a lamp in a pot in one hand and a trumpet in the other hand. They go down into the enemy camp and surround the camp. Gideon’s group breaks the pots and blows the trumpets, the others follow. They all shout ‘the sword of the Lord and of Gideon’. This causes fear in the enemy camp. They panic and start turning on each other in order to escape. They pulled a ‘George’ from Seinfeld! George is at this kid’s birthday party and someone burns some food on the stove. They think it’s a fire and George panics and knocks the kids over in his attempt to save himself. He even pushes an old grandma out of the way in the process! So the Midianites pull a George and flee at the expense of their own people. Gideon calls the other tribes to join in on the route and they defeat the enemy. Notice that God didn’t use the 300 to do all the work, they simply were the brave ones who were willing to risk everything for the cause. Ultimately the rest of the nation had to get on board with the program. There are times in church history where God will raise up radical groups who are pursuing hard after God. Initially they will be the igniters of the fire. But for the full purpose of God to prevail others will have to join in. This dynamic has a tendency to cause jealousy in the church. We will see this in the next chapter. Note- The lamps [oil-Spirit] in the clay pots [we are called earthen vessels in Corinthians] represent the Body of Christ. It was in the breaking [repentance, brokenness] of the vessels that allowed the light to shine forth. God used an army of broken light bearers who trumpeted his word to take the enemy. The same idea of the ‘fiery tongues’ on the early church. The fire from their mouths [the preaching of the gospel- Revelation says ‘fire proceeds out of their mouths and devours the enemy’] went forth like a trumpet and took over the entire roman world! (776) JUDGES 8- As Gideon routes the enemy, the children of Ephraim got in on it. Were they thankful that Gideon gave them a shot? No. They were mad that he didn’t let them in on it from the start! Gideon appeases their jealousy and says ‘you guys have done more than me. I take no personal glory from this’. Gideon saw his calling as one that would benefit the other ‘tribes’ [denominations]. He knew his purpose was not to start his own tribe! Now as Gideon is pursuing the 2 kings of Midian [Zeba, Zalmunna? In keeping myself honest, I did not just check the spelling] he comes thru 2 cities [Succoth, Penuel?] and asks the men ‘can you help us out? We are pursuing the kings of Midian and the troops need some food’. The men of Succoth say ‘why should we help? We don’t see them in your hands yet’. In essence, they were not sure if Gideon and his personal little ‘vendetta’ was going to prevail. We need to be careful that we don’t judge a prophetic act of God and take things personal. These cities needed to get on board when it counted. Gideon is not going to need their help after the job is done! So he tells them ‘fine, but when I’m done with the job, I will come back and whip your Elders with thorn bushes’. Gideon is treading dangerous territory. He actually is setting his judgment up against the God ordained elders of this city [Romans]. But like the Apostle Paul, his unique calling was unstoppable. They would go against elders or whoever they needed to, in order to complete the mission. So Gideon catches the 2 kings and tells his son ‘fall upon them with the sword’. His son hesitates out of fear. The 2 kings actually rebuke Gideon’s boy and tell him to have courage. Gideon takes the sword and kills the kings. A few interesting notes. The people are so overjoyed with Gideon’s authority that they say ‘Be our king, rule over us as a dynasty’. Gideon refuses and says this would be a rejection of Gods authority. Eventually Saul will become the king that fills this role. Even though God raised up strong authority figures, yet there was a distinction between over doing mans rule and recognizing Gods authority. Paul will teach the concept of God recognized elders in the New Testament church. But will also warn of men wanting to draw away disciples after themselves. Some will fall into the snare of ‘becoming kings’. Also Gideon took all the gold jewelry from the Midianites and made an Ephod [a priestly object] and it became an idol to the people. They fell into the snare of covetousness/idolatry that would become a hallmark of Israel’s rebellion. (777) JUDGES 9- Gideon died in the last chapter and his 70 sons were to rule as a plurality of elders. The same picture we see from Moses and the 70 elders. In Judges we see the dynamic of a plurality of leadership, along with the input of strong Apostolic/Prophetic voices. The same idea we saw in the book of Acts. Now Gideon previously refused the role of singular kingship over the people. It took both courage and humility to say ‘I will not be a king over you’. In the struggle to return back to a more biblical example of Christian leadership functioning in the ‘local church’ you need both humility and courage to resist the impulse in man to want a ‘famous leader’ to ‘rule over them’. Now Abimelech, Gideon’s son, was born from one of Gideon’s mistresses from the town of Shechem. Do you remember when we studied this town in the past? It was the town where the son of the prince raped Dinah, the daughter of Jacob. Jacobs’s boys had the towns men circumcise themselves and they went in and slew the city. Well, the boy who raped Dinah was Shechem. The town is named after him. So the history of this city is one of humiliation. Like Germany after WW1, they felt humiliated as a people. The maniac Hitler used a false ethnic nationalism to mobilize the people under him. This is what Abimelech does. He tells the men of Shechem ‘do you want the 70 sons of Gideon to rule over you [plurality] or one king?’ Here you have the temptation of power and authority seen in Abimelech. He does contrary to his father’s rejection of singular headship and thru deception takes a position that was never originally intended [he falls into the trap of singular authority over the people. A trend that the Christian church will also develop over many centuries] so the men of Shechem agree and Abimelech goes and kills the 70 sons of Gideon. But the youngest one escapes. His name is Jotham. He gives this prophetic speech from a hill [God ordained forum] and tells a parable. The parable has these trees asking the olive tree ‘come and reign over us’ and the tree says ‘should I leave my God ordained place and be promoted over other trees’. The same thing happens with the fig tree and the vine. They recognize the futility of leaving their God ordained position and trying to become a ‘ruler of other trees’. Finally the bramble [weed] rules over them. Jotham sees the rule of Abimelech as a twisted distortion of Gods authority. For three years Abimelech rules Israel and a local guy says ‘why should we have him rule over us? I can do a better job’ notice, just because Abimelech is ruling outside of Gods order, does not mean that any ‘Tom, Dick or Harry’ can come along and mount a successful over throw! This local stirs up the men of Shechem and turns the city against Abimelech. Another local resents this and sends word secretly to Abimelech ‘Hey, some guy is telling everybody he can do a better job than you. Come and put him in his place’. Sure enough a few days go by and Abimelech descends the hill with his troops. The rebel who is trying to displace Abimelech says ‘what’s that? I see men coming down’ the other local says ‘you must be seeing things’. Finally the rebel says ‘no, I see an army’. The secret confidant of Abimelech says ‘It’s Abimelech. Where’s you big mouth now! You talk a tough talk, let’s see some action’. Sure enough he realizes that this guy set him up. So Abimelech, even though he is operating unlawfully [outside of Gods original purpose] mounts a strong attack. He has resources and ‘supporters’ who took pride in his ruthless rule. Much like the mafia guys who would help their neighborhoods and gain the support of others, even though they were ruthless murderers! Abimelech defeats this challenge to his rule, but chases the enemy into a city and this lady from a tower drops a stone on his head from the tower and kills him. God did avenge the ruthless slaughter of Gideon’s 70 sons [Gods relational/plural plan of ruler ship] but the immature challenge to Abimelechs rule from an inexperienced local was not going to cut it. I see a lot of pictures from this story. The parable of Jotham really has some spiritual meaning to it. The idea of the trees rejecting false promotion has elements of Jesus teaching in it ‘the gentiles exercise authority by being promoted over people, this shall not be so with you’. The power struggles between those who resent all authority! Some simply challenge the present authority structures in Christianity out of an immature spirit [like the local guy in Shechem]. Over all we see the rebellion in Abimelechs rule and taking a position that his father had previously rejected. Just because someone might be in a position of promotion that God doesn’t want, this does not mean that all challenges to this authority are God ordained. As the Body of Christ struggles to get back to a more biblical idea of Christian leadership, getting away from the strong ‘I am your Pastor’ mentality and returning to a respect and honoring of spiritual elders in your midst [the term pastor is fine by the way] we need to recognize both sides of the coin. Don’t simply follow anyone who says ‘why should so and so think he can tell us what to do’. Some of these voices speak out of immaturity and rebellion. But in Gods timing the mature ‘trees’ will be wise enough to say ‘why should I go and be promoted over other trees’. Leaders will learn to blossom and produce fruit while not taking positions of promotion contrary to their nature. (778) JUDGES 10- The children of Israel forsake the Lord and he delivers them into the hand of the enemy. They do the usual ‘Lord, help us!’ But this time they get a different response. The Lord says ‘I am tired of helping you guys time and again. Every time I come thru for you, you eventually go back to your former ways. Go and cry unto the gods you are serving, see if they can help you!’ Wow, they never got a response like this before. They decide to clean up their act anyway, they put away their false gods and ask the Lord ‘How about helping us one last time?’ The King James Bible says ‘Just this day’. You can take it as ‘one more time’ or ‘help us in this immediate situation’. Jesus taught us in the Lords prayer to pray ‘deliver us from evil, give us this day our daily bread’. Sometimes the view gets so dark that even if you have lost faith for the ‘long term vision’ you can at least ask the Lord ‘what about intervening for the simple fact that we can’t make it today unless you move’. The daily Manna was Gods help and sustenance on a daily basis. He purposely set it up like this so they would learn to depend daily upon him. We all have a tendency to develop systems and ideas about God. The whole concept of ‘ministry’ entails a system of function that we expect God to bless. It’s easy to lose sight of the sovereignty of God and come to depend on the system. Some teach that God has done all he can do to save you, or help you in this present life. That the answer to your problem is to learn the ‘system’ he uses from the bible and implement it. In essence ‘God is continually transmitting what you need, the trick is getting your spiritual antenna in the right direction’ [I just heard it preached on radio a few days ago]. While there are some applications of truth to this idea, it can also lead to a legalistic road of thinking that the answer to your problem is found in you DOING SOMETHING. Ultimately the answer to our problem is WE NEED GOD TO ACT ON OUR BEHALF! So the children of Israel say ‘Lord, how about helping for just this day’. Well we already know the answer. He will raise up another judge in the next chapter. But he wants us to learn the lesson. He does want us to get to a stage where we don’t keep falling into the same rut [iniquity- patterns ‘ruts’ of sin]. God will come thru for you today, Jesus ‘ever lives to make intercession for us’ he will help you if you ask. (779) JUDGES 11- The children of Gilead [Israelites] live in an area named after their father. They have a brother who was born from ‘a harlot’. The brothers kick him out of town and tell him ‘you will have no inheritance with us’. He is seen as illegitimate. He gathers a ragtag team of ‘vain’ men around him. He is despised and rejected of men. He is a type of Jesus. He reminds me of King David and his disgruntled men. This mans name is Jephthah. In process of time the children of Ammon harass the sons of Gilead. They posses the ancient land of Ammon. The king of Ammon lets Gilead know that he is re-staking his claim on his forefather’s territory. Gilead is scared and feeling threatened by Ammon. The king of Ammon knows it, he is like the bully in school who makes his first threat and realizes that he can get away with it. Now, the Elders of Gilead have a little council meeting. They discuss the situation. Sure enough a motion is made ‘I move that we hire our brother Jephthah to become our leader’. What! We kicked him out, we judged him illegitimate. Don’t you remember his bad upbringing? They bite the bullet and send word to Jephthah. Now Jephthah will take the job, but first he makes them eat a little crow [very unkosher!]. He says ‘now you guys need me, what happened to all the talk of me being a trouble maker and some unordained rebel?’ They swallow the crow. Jephthah agrees and signs a contract [of course I am ad libbing here]. Now the king of Ammon has been getting away with his bravado for a while. Jephthah takes the job and immediately sends a response to Ammon. ‘Why are you messing with me? I am giving you fair warning to back off’ Huh? The king of Ammon thinks ‘who in the heck is this guy? Oh well, I guess someone from Gilead finally got some courage’ [I’ll be nice!]. Ammon responds and sends word back ‘I am reclaiming the land of my forefathers; you are dwelling illegally in my territory’. Now an interesting thing happens, though Jephthah is deemed ‘uneducated’ he responds with a strong historic apologetic for their right to the land. He knows the history well! He says ‘a few hundred years ago our forefathers were leaving Egypt and as they came to your father’s territory they simply asked for safe passage. They were denied. Eventually you fathers started a fight [they had the bully blood of Ammon!] and our fathers got into it with them and ‘beat the dung’ out of them. Therefore we rightfully own this land. Who in the heck do you think you are anyway buddy, are you better than the kings before you? You need to back off now!’ Well, Ammon is not used to getting a response like this. The brothers of Jephthah knew all along that he was a hothead, that’s why they hired him. So Ammon gets word from Jephthah and has a meeting on what to do next. I am sure Ammon is a little scared by now ‘who in the heck is this new comer? Who does he think he is to challenge me like this?’ Before he gets a chance to find out, someone says ‘hey look, here he comes now’. The Spirit of God came upon Jephthah and he stormed in and kicked Ammon's butt. He did a repeat of years gone by. Don’t you just hate getting beat up by the kid who beat you up before? Jephthah repeated history. Ammon got whupped. The men of Gilead renewed the 2 year contract with their brother, even though he was the black sheep of the family. (780) JUDGES 12- Jephthah has a great victory over Ammon. Ephraim confronts him and says ‘why didn’t you tell us you were going to battle? Who do you guys think you are, hogging up all the glory’? Jephthah responds ‘I did ask you guys to help! You guys are always talking a big game, but you never show up when we need you!’ Ephraim does have a history of doing this. They said the same thing in an earlier chapter, I think to Gideon? There is a Psalm that says ‘Ephraim turned back in the day of battle, even though they were fully armed’. They truly were a legitimate tribe, who had the goods to war, but they seemed to be more concerned about ‘their image’ and what so and so was doing down the road, than in actually going out and winning some wars! Jephthah is the type of brother you don’t want to mess with. He is mentioned in Hebrews 11 among the great heroes of the faith. Why would he be in there? He led a tribe that was insignificant, yet he rose to the occasion and displayed great courage, at the risk of his own life, and was a true warrior. Jephthah responds to Ephraim’s big words by ‘beating the hell out of them’. He strapped it on! Ephraim was one of the big 12, a legitimate warring tribe from Israel. Jephthah made a name for himself and his people. He was like the Arturo Gatti’s [Jersey City] who were simple hometown boxers who rose to fame and put his town on the map [even though Gatti was out of his class against De Lahoya]. Or a Bret Favre from Green Bay [Packers] who in the heck ever heard of ‘Green Bay’? Jephthah put Gilead on the map of history. I just recently studied some stuff on the Jesus movement of the 60’s -70’s. One of the interesting characters was a brother by the name of Lonnie Frisbee. Someone just made a documentary on him [Life and times of a Hippie preacher] and tried to show how he had a lot of influence in the beginnings of the Calvary Chapel and Vineyard movements [2 of the most successful Church movements that came out of this time]. The brother who made the documentary felt like the leaders of the movement did not give him due credit because he died of Aid’s. Lonnie struggled with homosexuality for most of his life. Many of the people who were interviewed gave strong testimonies of Lonnie’s influence in their lives. While looking up some stuff on U Tube I found a few videos of him sharing his testimony, there seems to be no doubt that he was a child of God. Some apologists [Hank Hannegraff] attribute Lonnie’s ‘anointing’ to the demonic realm. They brought out the fact that Lonnie’s initial conversion took place while he was high. They showed how some of the Shamans shared the same types of things that Lonnie operated in [Jim Morrison of the doors is thought to have been a Shaman, the name ‘Lizard King’ spoke to this]. I for the most part accept Lonnie’s own testimony of believing in Jesus. I know it’s difficult to understand how the Lord could have used someone who struggled like this, but some of these judges [Like the next one we will discuss- Samson] had many struggles along with their victories. I dont want to give people excuses for sinning, but I want to encourage you to allow God to use you right where you are at. With all the faults of Lonnie Frisbee, the Lord still used him to play a key role in the early Jesus movement. (781) JUDGES 13- We begin the story of Samson. While all the judges are called by God, Samson has this prophetic type calling from birth. An angel appears to his mother and foretells of his birth. She is barren and it is one of those Divine pronouncements like the birth of Jesus or John the Baptist. These types of callings have special meaning to them. You can study the callings of contemporary prophets and see many of these same characteristics. Though the critics have found faults with many of these men, yet they have had supernatural occurrences surrounding their births and destinies that cannot be explained away. When these children are growing they are surrounded by the stories of these supernatural events. They often do not realize the special signs that accompanied them. When John the Baptist was asked ‘are you the prophet that was spoken about, the ‘Elijah type prophet’ that appears before the Messiah’? John says no. But later the disciples say to Jesus ‘before the Messiah comes, the Elijah type prophet is to come first’ and Jesus says it was John. I think the Lord will allow certain prophetic people to not realize the impact of their destinies during their lives, they will see some day, but not now. So Samson’s mom has this special angelic visitation and the husband hears about it from his wife. They pray and ask the Lord to come again and give them more instructions about the boy. The Lord sends the angel back and they receive instructions about the boy. His calling is special, he will be dedicated to God from birth to death. The parents are to raise him in a way that will simply facilitate the gift. This is important to see. Often times we see ministry as ‘look what God is doing with Corpus Christi outreach ministries’ [or any other name!]. Or ‘God, please use this ministry for this purpose’ God gifts people with special callings and giftings. ‘Ministry’ is simply the parameters, the borders that help facilitate the gift. We too often confuse Gods sovereign gift with the ‘procedures’. God uses people [individuals and groups] to carry out his purposes, all ministry structures should be seen as simple instructions to properly ‘harness the gift’. Samson’s parents receive the instructions and raise him according to the angel’s directives. The Spirit of God will come on him at set times and he will begin to display the anointing at a young age. We will learn from Samson that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance. God will continue to use him thru out his life even though he will stray from the guidelines of his parents. Of course there will come a day where he loses the special ability that God gave him, but his willingness to lay it all down at the end will gain him a place in the great faith hall of fame! [Hebrews 11] (782) JUDGES 14- Samson goes to the Philistine area and sees a woman who he likes. He tells his parents ‘get her for me’! He does seem spoiled. Now his parents have good reason to be a little intimidated by him, after all they know the miraculous events surrounding his birth. They tell him ‘look at all the great women from our own ‘ethnic background’ why do you want this stranger’? The scripture says they did not realize that this thing in Samson was FROM THE LORD. The scripture says the Lord did this so Israel could have an occasion/situation to go to war. Paul says in the New Testament ‘there must be heresies among you’. Some see this as meaning God allowed certain things to go wrong so he could create a situation where ‘war’ would occur. Then out of chaos and violence truth would be more clearly defined. Romans does say ‘all things eventually work out for the good to those who love God’. In Samson’s case his family didn’t understand why he was so adamant about this girl, but God was seeking ‘an occasion’. Now Samson and his family make a visit to the area [Timnath] and he hooks up with the woman. During one of Samson’s trips he comes upon a lion and the Spirit of God comes upon Samson and he tears it to pieces with his bare hands. I’m sure even Samson was a little surprised about this supernatural anointing. On his way back thru the area he finds that a bee hive formed in the dead lion and made a bunch of honey, he takes a scoop of the honey and gives some to his family but never reveals the source. He keeps the story to himself. At the wedding party he tells the guests ‘I have a riddle, if you figure it out I will give you the garments of 30 men. If you don’t guess it in 7 days you pay me’! He tells the riddle ‘out of the eater came forth food, out of the strong came forth sweetness’. The riddle speaks of the honey that Samson found in the dead lion. After a few days the locals can’t figure it out. They beg the wife for her to tell them the secret. She gives in and the men tell Samson the answer. He tells them ‘if you didn’t plow with my heifer, you would have never found out the answer’. This is the beginning of an area of weakness that will dog Samson thru out his life. He will experience defeat in the future on these grounds. Well Samson is furious, he goes and kills 30 men from some nearby town and pays off the bet. I see Jesus ‘the Lion from the tribe of Judah’ in the riddle. Jesus will eventually come and die on a Cross, from his ‘dead Body’ sweet honey and meat will flow to the nations. It was the death of the lion that created an environment for honey and food to come forth. Gods Word is described as honey and meat. Jesus death created ‘an environment’ for life to flow to the nations. (786) JUDGES 15- Samson cools down and goes back to see his wife. As he tries to make things right her father reveals to him that she is now married to his best friend! What? Yup, the dad said they thought he was so mad that he gave up on her. Well Samson goes and ties the fox’s tails together and sets these torches on fire between their tails. He lets them run thru the fields of the Philistines and burn up the crops. The Philistines say ‘who did this’? They find out Samson did it because of the wife thing. So they blame it on the wife and her father and go ‘burn them’ [ouch!]. Samson doesn’t stop! He gets into it with a few more guys and whips them good. He escapes to this stronghold in Judah’s territory and the Philistines are looking for him. Judah finds Samson and says ‘why are you hiding among us? Don’t you realize the Philistines rule over us?’ Samson says ‘I’ll let you tie me up if you promise not to kill me yourselves’ so they promise. When the Philistines get him, the Spirit comes on Samson and he breaks the cords and ‘beats the hell out of them’. He finds this jawbone from a donkey and kills a thousand of them with the jawbone. He then gets thirsty and says ‘I need something to drink, why would you let me have such a great victory and feel like I am going to die of thirst’? God breaks a hole in the jawbone and Samson finds water from the instrument he used to defeat the enemy. Now, notice the unbelievable amount of war, division and devastation that is coming from one man! He is actually negotiating like he is an army! God knew what he was doing when he raised Samson up ‘because he wanted an occasion to deal with the Philistines’. John the Baptist was like this. A single prophetic voice who had the gall to tell Herod ‘you can’t have your brother’s wife!’ How do these guys do stuff like this? In Samson’s case he got away with it because he had the goods to back it up! He was like the other judges who knew how to strap it on. But this guy seems to be a one man steamroller. Notice that the Lord refreshed him from the same tool he used to war with. Paul tells Timothy ‘preach the word, in doing this you will save yourself and those who hear thee’. Paul says ‘woe to me if I preach not the gospel’. Over the years I will listen to our radio messages one time before I broadcast them. I am so far ahead of schedule that I will preview the message about a year or more after I make them. Yet I actually will get ‘a prophetic word’ that I never even knew I spoke! God will allow you to be refreshed from the refreshing you give others. Don’t be too self absorbed, but recognize that ‘he who waters will himself be watered’ [somewhere in the bible]. (787) JUDGES 16- This is the famous ‘Samson and Delilah’ story. Samson once again falls for some strange woman. The philistines ask her to find out the secret to Samson’s strength. She goes thru this procedure of ‘bugging him to death’ until he spills the beans. Scripture says ‘she pressed him until his soul was vexed unto the point of death’ double ouch! Well she finds out the strength is in his dedication unto God, shown thru the act of not cutting his hair. She shaves his head and he is taken captive. Scripture says he woke up and thought ‘I will fight the enemy as usual and win’ and he didn’t realize the Lord wasn’t with him anymore. Now Samson becomes a source of entertainment for the lost world. They bring him out every now and then and parade him around as a ‘jack ass’. Do you remember how the media and late night comics just couldn’t get over the fact that Christian celeb’s have fallen? Re running the crying videos of Brother Swaggart and Bakker. Parading the ‘lover’ of Ted Haggard on all the shows. The Philistines loved using the ‘big buffoon’ as sport. So one day they take him out of his cell and have him stumble around at some party. Samson has some kid place his hands on the 2 main pillars that are holding up the building. He asks the Lord ‘Lord, please return my strength this one last time’ and he pushes on the pillars and the whole corrupt society around him comes down and they all die as one big happy family! Samson killed more of the enemy in his death than thru out his life. Just a few thoughts; right now in the present ‘media church’ there is another tragic situation of a famous celebrity couple who have divorced. Sad story, God will forgive people for their mistakes. But the problem is the wife feels like she should maintain the whole public persona. Now I like these people. I am not a fan of their teachings at all, but the wife has come a long way from a difficult life. When I first read about these things I always pray for the people. But we [the people of God] need to seriously re evaluate the whole ‘celebrity persona’ that allows good people, who seemingly represent the church to society at large, to do stuff like this. Its like the world tunes us in every now and then ‘for sport’. Also Samson used wisdom in avoiding a direct shot at a few Philistines, and placed himself in a position where he could bring down the whole corrupt group at one time. We need to avoid individual skirmishes with people. God is working in our day like he has in every other generation. There are some serious things that the previous generation wrongfully built into the church. The younger generation sees the absolute absurdity of some of these things. Prophetic voices need to ‘position themselves strategically’ and take out some of these pillars [doctrines, not people!] so we can give the next generation a fresh start. (790)JUDGES 17- This is quite an interesting chapter. Micah steals money from his ‘mother’. He tells her ‘I took it’ [managed to gain precious riches from you] and she commends him. He then says he took it from her to give it back to her. Let’s spiritualize a little. The ‘sons of the church’ [the New Jerusalem is the corporate church, the ‘mother of us all’] some times take by violence the hidden riches that were contained ‘in the church’ [which possesses the mind of Christ!] so they can ‘give the riches back to the mother’ [feed my sheep!] and receive commendation from her. Now, all analogies eventually break down. Micah’s mom says she was going to build an idol [institution?] with the money. Micah becomes the overseer of this ‘false system of worship’. He actually ‘hires’ [hireling mentality- seeing ministry as a profession] a legitimate priest from the tribe of Levi to call ‘father- priest’ [ouch!] Micah pays him a salary [double ouch!] and says ‘now I know the Lord [God of the Christians] will bless me seeing I have a priest under my authority’. [Rome and her emperors?] Lots of imagery here. First, Micah felt like he would gain Gods blessing if he ‘hired’ and institutionalized the real priesthood. We must see that what happened during the first 4 centuries of Christianity was a type of ‘hiring’ and legitimizing the ‘priests of God’ for the purpose of favor and unity within the Roman Empire. It is no secret that the emperor Constantine looked for unity in his empire by embracing and professionalizing the ‘priest hood’. They will actually be called ‘fathers, priests’. Also, this priest that Micah hired was a real representative of God! He did come from a true tribe. It is difficult for Protestants to see that although the institutional church ‘married’ Rome, yet she still contained part of the real people of God. This is not to say all that happened in the first millennium [thousand years of Christianity] was of God, but it also means we need to understand that there are some ‘precious riches’ [1100 pieces of silver!] that are hidden within her for the purpose of ‘true sons’ to go and take these riches and re distribute them back to her for her own benefit. You would be surprised by the amount of spiritual truths contained in the writings of the Catholic [Orthodox] fathers. Many of these truths are being ‘re found’ by protestants! And some of these Protestants have given them back to the church and shown her ‘look, even your own church fathers saw such and such’. I see the whole concept of Micah hiring the Priest as a type of ‘hired clergy’ mentality that all the people of God wrongfully took hold of. We need to recognize that just because this Levite went down this road, this does not mean he was not a true Levite [person of God]. It just meant he allowed his gift/office to be used in a wrong way to bring legitimacy to a form of worship that had vestiges of idolatry contained within. (791)JUDGES 18- The tribe of Dan sends 5 spies to check out the land of Laish, it was supposed to be part of their inheritance. On the way they pass Mount Ephraim, where Micah and the ‘hired priest’ live. They enquire in the house of Micah about their journey. They are assured God is with them. They see Laish and return with the good report. Laish is a land where the people are ‘isolated’ they do no business with any other tribes. Too sectarian in their little community [ouch!]. So the tribe of Dan hears the report and arms 600 men for battle. As they go to get their land, they once again stop at the idolatrous house of Micah. They make a ‘job offer’ to the ‘hired priest’ and appeal to success and status among clergy ‘do you want to come and be our hired priest? Wouldn’t you rather be priest of a whole tribe instead of one household’? He takes the job promotion and on their way out Micah tries to stop them from taking his priest but doesn’t have the manpower to do it. Dan introduces this false priesthood on a large scale to the people of God. Scripture says while they were involving themselves in this false worship, the House of God was still in Shiloh. Now we have covered a lot of ground here. I want to be careful but truthful about wrong worship in the church. First, I do find it amazing that the Lord did not cut Micah off originally when he got into his stuff! The history of Israel includes a time period where they thought the high places in their land were a sign of true religion. When some of the kings institute a return to the Lord, they leave the high places alone. Although these high places were idolatrous, yet in their ignorance they really thought they were honoring God. I see a degree of this here. Now the hired priest continues to represent the mentality of the hired offices of the clergy. All good people, but often operating in systems that lend themselves to the co dependency of Gods people. It is easy to see the idea of false worship and simply use this to bash Catholics. I prefer to see the false worship of Dan as a mark of all wrong tradition and teaching that come to us from the mind of man. Jesus rebuked the traditions that made void the Word of God, but Paul will tell his spiritual sons ‘hold to the traditions you have been taught by me’. Some traditions are needful. Things that our spiritual fathers have passed down to us. Don’t despise all tradition! Don’t see ‘the ministry’ as a way to gain status and climb the ladder in the corporate world. This priest of Micah took a position based on gentile authority. Something Jesus forbid for the leaders of his church. This priest saw self advancement in moving ‘his ministry’ to oversee the tribe of Dan. This root of pride will cause the limited idolatry at Micah’s house to leaven an entire tribe. Often times well meaning people become part of ‘extending wrong ideas’ thru out the church as they seek fame and recognition. Jesus taught us that true servants will not make decisions based on ‘how will this move promote me, how will I gain a name for myself’ these motivations blind us to the idolatry that exists in the church in our day. The New Testament equivalent of idolatry is covetousness. Leadership often overlooks the blatant abuse in this area as they pursue a name and advancement for ‘their ministries’. It’s easy to not want to hear Paul’s strong words in 1st Timothy 6 concerning leaders. We want to be able to ‘seek fame and fortune’ because it does feel good to be famous! Hebrews says ‘sin does have pleasure for a season’. So I see the whole scenario of Micah’s hired priest in all of us. I see the idolatry of Dan and false worship as leaven that affects all of Gods people [Protestants and Catholics alike]. I see the fact that God still used Micah to be a voice and instrument to the people of God even though he thru ignorance allowed idolatry to be entrenched in Israel. God is merciful and he will put up with our ignorance for a season, but I think that season has already passed. [Though his mercy endures forever!] (794)JUDGES 19- We have another strange story. There is this Levite who has a concubine [servant-wife]. She plays ‘the harlot’ on him and goes back home to Judah. The Levite goes to get her. He shows up at her dad’s house and the father welcomes him [Judah- Israel loved the law- Levite]. The Levite informs him that he came to take back his wife and the dad won’t let him go! He keeps holding on and for a few days convinces him to ‘just stay for one more night’ [Israel’s mindset in the first century. They tried to hold on to the law past it’s time]. The Levite leaves and on his way back to Ephraim they need a place to spend the night. They show up at Gibeah, where the Benjamites dwell. As they are on the street all day, no one offers to take them in. This younger generation forgot all the ‘elementary’ teachings of the Law of Moses [Hebrews 5]. An old man who was from Ephraim was living there. He sees the Levite and his wife and servants on the street. He asks what’s up and the old man offers to take the Levite in. He says ‘don’t worry about the cost, I will cover it’ [The Good Samaritan]. At night the men of the city knock on the old mans door and want the Levite to come out ‘and play’ [The sin of Sodom!] the old man offers the men the women instead of the man. They take the wife of the Levite and abuse her all night long. She shows up at the door in the morning and is dead. The Levite takes her dead body home and cuts it into 12 pieces and sends them to Israel as a witness. This drastic symbol shocks the nation. There are lots of spiritual points that could be made. The law [Levite] was welcomed for a time [Galatians 4] but when it’s time t let it go don’t keep holding on. The old man in Gibeah practiced the art of hospitality to strangers/aliens that was contained in the original precepts from Moses. The younger generation forgot the true principles of their law. Paul will argue over and over again from the law to persuade Israel to come to Messiah. They forgot the basic truths of their own law and this made it harder to show them that Jesus was the fulfillment of their law. Of course the old man taking in the Levite is like the story of the Good Samaritan who took care of his neighbor at his own expense. Paul told the Corinthians that he would ‘spend and be spent’ for them. And the drastic act of the Levite cutting up the wife and sending her body parts to Israel shows the utter terror of the law. The law ultimately demands justice, it shows no mercy. Israel might have had an affinity for the law, but if you keep it around too long it can really ruin the party! [The New Covenant is one of joy and peace in the Spirit. We are at Jesus ‘wedding party’ if you will]. (795)JUDGES 20- The nation of Israel gather together as ‘one man’ to figure out what is going on. They all received the body pieces of the concubine as a sign of judgment. Remember, the law [Levite] can not give life to that which is ‘dead in trespasses and sin’ [the dead wife!] but the law can only reveal sin and call for justice. So the tribes are gathered to meet out judgment! They decide to get an army together, 400,000 men. They go to the town of Gibeah, where Benjamin [the tribe] lives. They tell the people ‘you have done wickedly, give to us the men who have infected this whole tribe [denomination/whole groups of believers who have been affected in a wrong way by certain teachers who have ‘crept in unawares’]. Benjamin says no! There is a strange dynamic that takes place in the Body of Christ. Whenever the Lord moves in a big way to correct or reform wrong doctrine, very rarely do the victims of the wrong doctrine want to admit that they were wrongly influenced. The sin of pride says ‘are you telling me that I was duped’? Benjamin actually goes into this protection mode and defends the wicked doers in their midst! So Israel encamps against Benjamin and they fight. Sure enough Benjamin wins! Wow, they must have thought ‘see, we were correct in refusing to deal with the wrong stuff in our community’ [whole groups of believers who harbor false things]. Israel is distraught, were they wrong in going against Benjamin? You honestly have to ask yourself this question at times. God might really have raised you up to deal with some stuff. You might actually lose a battle or two! The Lord tells them ‘No, you weren’t wrong in dealing with the false stuff in the tribe of Benjamin, go back and give it another shot’. The next day Israel attacks again, and again they lose! They ask the Lord about it and he says keep trying. On day three they adjust their procedure; they set an ambush and eventually overthrow Benjamin. Now, this is no great victory, God actually called the rest of the people of God to deal with an aberrant tribe. The church goes thru reformation seasons where she needs to deal with wrong stuff on a global scale. The history of Christianity shows us the great ecumenical councils of the church. Times where the whole Body of Christ had to agree that certain things were right or wrong. It is only natural for those being rebuked to fight back and not admit their fault. This process is very difficult. Paul wrote the Galatians and told them if a brother is in a fault, that the more mature [spiritual] ones should correct it in love. Over the years I have been involved with trying to explain to sincere believers, some of them who hold positions of leadership, how we can’t keep teaching things that have been shown to be blatantly wrong. Often times the ‘tribes’ [groups] will fight back, and win a war or two! Understand, Benjamin was running their tribe as an efficient unit to a degree. Even though they had ‘bad seed’ in their group, yet the fact that they did exist as a functioning unit allowed them to successfully resist a few previous challenges to their tribe [belief system]. But ultimately there came a challenge that was too hard to resist, the rest of the nation joined as ‘one man’ to say ‘enough is enough, we love you as a brother tribe, but this stuff has gone on way too long’. It was the radical act of the Levite that brought the attention to the rest of the tribes of what was going on. It was the responsibility of the nation as a whole to deal with the ‘lost tribe’. (798)JUDGES 21- We end the book of Judges with the nation of Israel mourning over the fact that they had to deal with one of their own tribes who left the true path of God. They vowed ‘not to give their daughters any more to them’. They made a determination ‘no matter how much we personally like them, the many good memories of days gone by. The good old stories of our past heritage together. The actual good things that we all shared over the years’. Yet they decided this was the generation that would make the break. By not giving their daughters unto them they were in essence saying ‘we will no longer allow your tribe to effect the whole nation’. Tough stuff, Paul does this with the Corinthians; he says ‘remove the wicked from among you’. Now, Israel does not want the total destruction of the erring tribe! [nor Paul, read 2nd Corinthians]. They work out a deal where the ‘virgins’ of the tribe that did not show up for the initial battle [Jabesh Gilead] would become the wives of the surviving Benjamites. They allowed the tribe to survive, post judgment day! I see lots of spiritual meaning to this stuff. Often times we as believers do not want to deal with ‘errant tribes’. We prefer to think ‘well, we all believe in Jesus. Lets just love each other’. Hey, I am all for love. I have come to realize many well meaning Christians really don’t like dealing with stuff because it gets rough. Jesus said ‘do you think I have come to bring peace? No, I tell you I have come to bring division. Homes will be divided. Brother against brother and family member against family member’. Now, we know Jesus is the prince of Peace. The angels would say ‘peace on earth and good will towards men’. But Jesus was speaking of the reality of having to take sides at certain times. The inevitable conflict that comes with saying ‘this is true, this is false’. Israel dealt severely with a brother tribe, it would not have been ‘love’ for them to have ignored the problem! Lets end Judges with a brief overview. Why did we see all the problems in this book? Time after time God would deliver them and time after time they would fall back into sin. God knew all along that this would happen. The intent of the law was to reveal to man his inability to ‘self reform’. The season of judges was simply a foreshadowing of a future day [now] where there would be a ‘judge’ [Jesus] who would be able to continually save the people because he would have a rule that would not end. Israel did fine as long as the judge was alive, after his death they would fall. So today we have Jesus, the Great High Priest who is able ‘to save to the uttermost, those who come to God by him. For he ever liveth to make intercession for them’ [Hebrews].

John

JOHNS GOSPEL [Complete- Links added] LINKS- https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/amos-5/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/15/jesus-christ/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/17/father-abraham/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/the-flood/ John 3 https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/25/the-well-john-4/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/john-5/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/05/john-6/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/09/john-7/ https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/8-10-15-john-14.zip https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/16/john-8/ https://youtu.be/f8VpxlYM_kU John 8- ‘who the Son sets free’ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/25/john-9/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/07/31/john-10/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/05/john-11-the-8th-sign/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/10/i-found-a-verse/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/13/john-12/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/19/samuel-john-hebrews-review/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/22/john-13/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/08/26/john-14/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/09/04/john-15/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/09/15/john-16/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/09/24/john-17/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/10/04/john-18/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/john-19/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/10/26/john-20/ https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/2016/11/01/john-concl/ (562) John:1[radio # 584] Jesus is called the Word of God, he comes into the earth as the incarnation, the ‘fleshed out’ fulfillment of Gods Word. John the Baptist is asked who he is. The Jewish leaders ask ‘are you that prophet?’ he says ‘no’. What prophet? The one Moses said would come ‘the Lord God will raise up a prophet unto you, like me. Whoever doesn’t listen to him will be destroyed’. We covered this in Deuteronomy. They ask him ‘are you Elijah’ he says ‘no’. John was the fulfillment of the Malachi prophecy that said before the Lord comes he will send Elijah the prophet. Jesus says this about John. Why did John deny it? I am not sure, but it might be because he really didn’t know. Sort of like the thorn in Paul’s side, God allowed things to happen to Paul so he would not get puffed up in pride and side track his mission. Maybe the Lord never let John see how truly effective he was. John does say ‘I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness’ John does see himself thru the prophet Isaiah. I like this. I have personally had many words from Isaiah that I felt the Lord had given me, John saw himself in this book too. John was ‘the voice’ just like Jesus is ‘the Word’ John is ‘the voice’. John was a voice before he was a man. God had predestined John to carry a message before he was born. He had this word in his DNA at birth. His body was simply a carrier, an ‘incarnation’ of the voice that he was to have. God has predestined all of us with a purpose before we were born. Our appearing on the planet is for the sole purpose of carrying out this destiny. You are not here to be happy, have a nice income, go to a nice church. You are here to fulfill Gods will, you can have the other things or not, that is irrelevant. You must first fulfill the mission! John testifies of Christ by the Spirit descending on Jesus. John says ‘I knew him not, but by the Spirit’ John knew Jesus, he was his cousin! But John was only going to recognize the gifts and callings on people. He would follow Paul's admonition ‘know no man after the flesh’. It is incumbent upon us to recognize the gifts in others and to operate accordingly. Don’t make alliances and pacts with people based on friendship and personal affiliations. It’s good to have friends and all, but the Kingdom is built upon recognizing and receiving those who have come with a mandate from God. John saw Jesus in this light. Scripture says ‘the world was made by him, he was in the world, yet they knew him not’ Jesus was creating a divine atmosphere of grace for people to access. They didn’t even know or recognize him, yet this didn’t side track him from his purpose. Understand that God has placed you in a geographical location with a pre planned destiny in mind. God has chosen you to be where you are and for this season. You will fulfill your calling whether people ‘know’ you or not. God requires us to see the gifts in each other, but many will not appreciate what you are doing, do it any way, you have come with a destiny to fulfill, so fulfill it! (563) John 2[radio # 585]- Jesus does his first miracle, changes water into wine. They say ‘most people put the good wine out first, but you have saved the best for last’. This is a type of the new covenant of his blood [wine], Jesus will introduce a better covenant thru his blood. Many will not accept this new way because they have been ‘drinking’ old wine for so long, they are not willing to change. We often see this in Christian circles, people who have functioned in a limited way for years, God might bring to them new ways of seeing things, they will often reject the new wine on the basis of being comfortable with the old way, we don’t want to shake the apple cart. God wants us to shake it! Jesus finds the money changers in the temple and drives them out with a whip, turns the tables over and gets mad. He didn’t take the ecumenical approach! There are times for radical transition, I feel we are at that place now as the people of God. The gospel is not about us increasing our portfolio, it’s about laying our goals down for the kingdom. These money changers lost their influence in the ‘temple’ after Jesus got thru with them, I think it was prophetic. Jesus says ‘destroy this temple and in 3 days I will raise it up’ those hearing this mistake his Body [temple] with the building [temple in Jerusalem]. Evangelicals [some of them] make the same mistake today. They are looking to the natural events in natural Jerusalem, they should be looking at the real temple! [Both Jesus and the Body of Christ]. Jesus goes to the Passover, the people hail him and Jesus says he will not commit himself to them, because he knew what was in man. What was in man? These same people will be asking for his death not long from now. Jesus did not seek commitment from men, contrary to the way we see ministry today. Modern ministry seeks to increase man’s commitment to them ‘pledge so much money, join this or that’ Jesus knew he had a destiny, he would fulfill it without the help of man! (565) John 3[radio # 586]- Nicodemus comes secretly to Jesus, he is one of the few in leadership that is having doubts. The others with one voice reject Jesus, Nicodemus is wondering. Jesus rebukes him for being a ‘ruler’ of the Jews and not being able to comprehend the most basic stuff. I have found it disheartening over the years to talk with Pastors who heard someone teach that because Jesus had an expensive coat, that he must have been rich. Despite all the evidence in the New Testament how Jesus was the son of a carpenter and lived an average life. The tons of verses where Jesus is reproving rich people. The whole historical and biblical truth of Jesus being a man of humble means. The fact that he had an expensive coat can more than likely be explained by the custom of people doing extravagant acts of worship towards him. The woman and the expensive perfume poured on him. Things like this. Someone probably gave him the coat. But for Pastors, who are good men, to fall for this stuff was unbelievable. Sort of like Jesus telling Nicodemus ‘you are a leader and can’t discern the most basic stuff’! Jesus teaches the reality of the new birth. All people must be born of God thru belief in Jesus, or they will not be saved. We must stand strong for Jesus as the only way to God. John the Baptist will be told that all men are going to Jesus. John says ‘great, he must increase and I must decrease’ John understood that the role of leadership [prophets] was to point to the fame and persona of Jesus. Not to go down the common road of pointing people towards us. In modern ministry we draw people to our gifts and abilities. We structure modern churches around the gift of the Pastor. We allow leadership to become preeminent in our minds and thoughts. John knew better. We also see that the wrath of God abides on all who do not believe in Jesus. If you believe in Jesus you escape Gods wrath. It can’t touch you. Whether you are in heaven or earth, or like David said ‘in hell you are there’. That is you can’t escape Gods presence anywhere. So if you are in Christ, wrath can’t get you. If you are not in Christ, it continually abides on you. You do not escape wrath by leaving the planet during the tribulation. If an unbeliever was on a rocket ship right before the tribulation started, and wound up on the moon during the 7 years of wrath, he wouldn’t escape Gods wrath. You don’t escape judgment by being in the right geographical location, you escape it by being IN HIM! John also says a man can receive nothing unless it is given to him. Why be jealous if all of our gifts and abilities are free gifts? We act like we earned them! John says no man receives his testimony, then he says ‘to those who have received it’. What’s this mean? Paul told the Corinthians that we have received the Spirit of God so we might know the things that are freely given to us from God. God gives us his Spirit first, so we can receive his testimony. This goes back to the early centuries of the church and hits all the major doctrines on sovereignty. Augustine, Calvin, Luther [Yes Luther was a strong believer in predestination, it was no accident that he was an Augustinian monk!] Paul tells the Ephesians that were are dead in sins and completely incapable of receiving spiritual truth until God pours his Spirit into us and we become alive. Thank God that even though no man [in the natural] can receive his testimony, that God gives us his Spirit and births us so we can know the things that he has freely given to us in Christ! (566) John 4[radio # 587]- Jesus talks to the woman at the well. She is Samaritan and he violates the cultural norms of the day by speaking to this woman. Critics often say Christianity is bigoted against women, Jesus gave more honor to women than any other religion of the day. He tells the woman that if she asked, he would give her the Spirit that would be a well of water in her. God wants us to flow in revelation and truth, not just teach from the intellect. Now the intellect is important, God says ‘worship me with you heart, soul, MIND and might’ but you must allow the Spirit to spring up from you like a well. Jesus tells the woman ‘you have had 5 husbands and the guy you’re shacking up with now is not your husband’ she then says ‘I perceive you are a prophet’. Funny, she turns the conversation over to religion! She recognizes the prophetic aspect of Jesus words and says ‘I think you’re a prophet’. Unlike many Christians today, she believed that prophecy was more than just preaching, she knew it carried a supernatural element. They continue to talk ‘religion’ and Jesus tells her all worship takes place in Spirit and truth, not at a specific location. The religious mind looks for ‘religious’ places to carry out worship, Jesus says ‘from now on it will be done thru all who worship in Spirit and truth’. He is speaking of the new concept of the people of God being the temple. No longer will they need the temple down the block, but they will be the actual dwelling place of God. Jesus says his meat is to do the will of him that sent him and to finish his work. We often do the will, but don’t finish the task! I just retired after 25 years as a firefighter [actually the retirement is in process] and I have seen so many talented guys join the dept and do a few years and go somewhere else. They might stay a few years at the next dept. and leave again. It’s not that they aren’t talented, they just don’t stick it out. God wants us to finish his task, don’t have a resume with a lot of activity, have one that has some assignments that were completed. Jesus says look on the fields, they are ready. Don’t say ‘4 more months and then comes harvest’. We are always in the harvest. It is not something that only happens in church on Sunday. Break the mindset that is always looking down the road for ministry to happen. Ministry happens right now, all the time. You and I are in the harvest, are you picking any fruit? Jesus says a prophet has no honor in his own country. We often want a prophetic word from some out of town prophet. We enjoy going out of town to a conference or some vacation venue to get a ‘word from the Lord’. We do not like to receive from prophets in our midst. They often don’t give good words like ‘Thus saith the Lord, you will be rich’ and stuff like that. We need to stop looking for the word we want to hear, and receive from prophets in our area. (567) John 5[radio # 588]- Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda. Scripture says an angel went down into this pool at a certain time and stirred the water, whoever got in after the water was stirred was healed. How do we explain this? Were the people superstitious? Well I think it happened just like John wrote it. We believe in a supernatural God, he raised his Son from the dead, he surely can send an angel to stir up some water. Jesus asks the man ‘do you want to be healed’? You would think ‘of course’ but people that are in situations that can lend to being irresponsible, having others take care of them, they often want to stay that way. It gives them an excuse to ‘not act responsibly’. The man says ‘I have no man to put me into the water after the angel comes’ he is looking for others to do something for him. He has a victim mentality. Jesus says ‘quit blaming everyone else, take up your bed and walk’. It’s time for our society to tell people ‘take up your bed and walk, we love you, we want to help you as much as possible, but you need to eventually take up your bed and walk’ hard stuff! Jesus will call God his father, making himself equal with God. The Jewish leaders will be offended. He then will tell them if they do not honor him, they are not honoring the Father. He says he only does what he sees the Father doing first. His life was an exact duplicate of the heart of God. Our lives should be the result of what God wants and reveals to us. Your life is not the result of your confession, or you seeking success. Your life should be the outcome of what God has revealed to you. It might mean less money, or less success. It might mean a Cross or martyrdom. Don’t presume that Gods plan for you is simply to have lots of money and be successful, it might mean less money and obscurity. But it will be an abundant life because you lived it in the purpose of God. Jesus says the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and they that hear will live. You had as much to do with your spiritual birth as you did with your natural one. Before you were born you had no power or ability to choose to be born, so in your new birth you were dead in sin and unable to ‘choose God’ he chose you. Jesus will tell the religious leaders ‘how can you believe if you seek the honor of men’ he will challenge the religious mindset of the day that thrived off of the notoriety of ‘being in ministry’. The leaders loved the greetings in the markets and public places. They lived for the honor that came from their status as ‘preachers’ who were well known. Jesus condemned this mindset. He says ‘I receive not honor from men’ in essence I am here to lay my life down, I will suffer shame and public humiliation, I will do the will of my Father and bare tremendous reproach and hatred from men. I will please my Father. Jesus tells the Jewish leaders ‘Moses wrote about me, you have his writings. If you don’t believe his writings, how can you believe in me, he wrote about me’ we have covered a lot of the ‘hidden’ images of Jesus found in the Old Testament. Paul will use these images time and again in his debates with Israel. I find it interesting that Jesus saw himself in the Old Testament also. (568) John 6[radio # 589]- We see the first miracle of the feeding of the multitudes. It has been commonly taught that this was a miracle of ‘location’, that is they were far from the market and couldn’t get food to feed everyone. This is not the heart of the story. It is actually a question of finance. Jesus in essence asks ‘how can we buy enough food for everyone to eat, where’s the money gonna come from?’ His disciples say ‘200 pennyworth is not enough to feed them’. They tell Jesus we don’t have the cash to cover it. This is important to see, many have taught a doctrine that says Jesus and the disciples had a large treasury with lots of money. This refutes that. This story is one of God being our supply, we don’t need to trust him for the millions of dollars we think we need to reach the world. We need to believe that he can use our limited finances to reach the world! He did it with Paul, why not you? We also see the doctrine of sovereignty again. Jesus says all who the Father gave to him will come to him, and he will raise them up at the last day. No man can come unless the Father draws him. The Father will draw all who are called. Jesus will lose none of the ones the father gives to him. These doctrines are without a doubt taught in this Gospel. I believe them. Some try to make them ‘fit’ the reasoning of men. They eventually taught that Jesus died only for the elect. That the ‘world’ in John 3:16 speaks of the ‘world of the elect’. Others taught that Jesus blood was only shed for the elect [limited atonement]. Christians have fought for centuries over these doctrines. Our Catholic brothers do not officially teach predestination, though Catholic scholars have believed in it [Augustine]. Some will later be called ‘5 point Calvinists’ others ‘4 points’ and so on. I simply believe the words of Jesus. All that the Father gave to him will come to him, those who come will be raised at the last day. No one comes unless God brings them. The point is God is the initiator, sustainer and completer of our salvation. In our minds we can’t grasp this, but without a doubt Jesus teaches it in this chapter. Now, Jesus will also teach that he is the bread from heaven and unless a man eats his flesh and drinks his blood he will not have eternal life. Many good Christians have taught that the way this is carried out is thru transubstantiation, they teach that the bread and wine turn into the literal body and blood of Jesus at the Mass [Catholic theologian Scott Hahn believes John chapter 6 is the foundational chapter for all Catholic theology]. That it just looks like bread and wine, but it is really flesh and blood. Luther and Calvin taught something almost identical, consubstantiation. The doctrine that the bread and wine stay bread and wine, but that the flesh and blood of Jesus are also literally contained within the bread and wine. This doctrine differs very little from the Catholic one. Both of these doctrines are called ‘the real presence’. The only reformer who taught what much of modern Evangelicals believe was Zwingli. He took it to be a symbol only. Zwingli was the dear brother who killed the Ana Baptists for their faith! I visited the spot where this took place in Switzerland many years ago. There is this huge statue of Zwingli overlooking the town where he drowned the poor brothers! The Jews in this chapter say ‘how can this man give us his flesh to eat and blood to drink?’ They are clearly seeing this in the natural. Jesus goes on and teaches that all who believe in him will never hunger again. He is associating eating with faith. He also says ‘the flesh profits nothing, the words I am speaking to you give life’ he is clearly teaching that he was not going to figure out a way to change bread and wine into his literal flesh. He was teaching that all who would believe in his death and resurrection were eating and getting life from Jesus, they would have eternal life. The bread that if a man eats from will live forever. I believe my Catholic and Orthodox and Lutheran brothers are Christian, I do not hold to the view that the ‘real presence’ is a doctrine from hell. I believe good Christians took the words of Jesus literally and developed a belief that became an historic belief amongst many Christians. Some of the greatest Christian theologians hold to this belief. I simply disagree with them. (572) John 7[radio # 590]- His brethren say ‘if you do these things, go up to the feast and show yourself openly’. The mindset was if you are really as special or gifted as you think, then go public! Jesus did not seek honor from men. He will ‘go public’ at the right time, but it will be a public crucifixion before many witnesses. He would not let them make him a king, or exalt him in their own way. Before exaltation there would be a Cross. ‘Some say he is a good man, others that he is a deceiver’ Jesus caused polarizing reactions from people. Prophets will be seen as false or good, there is very little middle ground. ‘How knoweth this man letters, having never learned’ Jesus learned, he was a good Jewish boy. They had the Old Covenant and were taught it ‘religiously’. The leaders meant he did not have the ‘higher education’ from the institutions of the day. I want to make a note here, I am not against higher education, Jesus did avail himself of the Old Testament, which was the ‘library’ of the day. A great collection of books and wisdom, if you read the gospels carefully you will also see that Jesus knew current events, he was not an isolated person coming up with his individual conclusions of scripture. I think it hurts the church to have an attitude of ‘all I need to know is the bible’ while it is good to know the Word, you should also expand your knowledge as much as possible. You don’t need the ‘letters’ or titles from men, but you should be educated as much as possible. ‘I have done one work and you all marvel’ the leaders were condemning Jesus for healing the man on the Sabbath, he tells them ‘you circumcise on the Sabbath, why cant I make someone whole on the Sabbath?’ circumcision was the cutting away of the ‘flesh’ in consecration to God. In essence it was saying ‘all that proceeds from me from this day forward, my lineage and seed and everything I am, is dedicated to God’ if they were allowed, by their own conscience, to ‘cut the flesh away’ on the Sabbath, then why not permit [in their own mind] the ‘adding’ unto a person by healing his flesh and giving him back his health. Jesus showed them that even in their own reasoning they could allow for what he did, but they didn’t give him the same lenience that they gave themselves. We often reject what a person is saying based on the actions he has done in the past, even though we allow many of the same things. Jesus said ‘judge rightly’ use the same measure that you would use on your self. ‘Yet a little while I am with you, you will seek me and not find me’ Jesus says this to the Jews who do not accept him as Messiah, they have been looking for him [unknowingly] for 2 thousand years and haven’t found him yet, boy are they gonna be surprised! The Pharisees send the officers to take Jesus, even though he didn’t openly go up to the feast, he later went secretly. He is teaching publicly and the people are amazed. They say ‘if this is the one the leaders are trying to get, why don’t they just take him?’ the officers couldn’t stop him! The Pharisees ask ‘why didn’t you capture him like we asked’ they respond ‘never man spake like him’ the authority that he had from God protected him. As the Pharisees discuss Jesus, they say ‘this people who do not know the law [word] are going after him, none of us are’. Well Nicodemus is in this group, and we know he snuck out in chapter 3 and did go ‘after him’. He is feeling a little guilty about it and speaks up on Jesus behalf ‘well, let’s not be so quick to judge, lets hear him out’. The other Pharisees reject him too ‘are you also from Galilee?’ They had this intellectual argument going that took all the Old Testament prophecies about Messiah and where he would come from. There are different prophecies that speak of Jesus in different ways, they held to a belief that when Messiah came, no one would no where he came from. Their understanding kept them in the dark. They were not willing to be corrected, they saw everyone else as ignorant, and they were the true ‘elites’ of the day. Pride keeps people form truth. We often can’t be corrected, we think the ‘correctors’ just don’t know the word. This comes from spiritual pride. Many who view themselves as religious leaders, or gifted in some way with bible knowledge, can not humble themselves and receive correction in the area where they pride themselves. For the Pharisees to have accepted Jesus, they would have had to admit that they were wrong about certain prophecies, and that the ‘under class’ was right, this was too much for them to accept. (585) John 8 [radio # 591]- The Pharisees catch the woman in adultery and bring her to Jesus ‘Moses in the law says kill her, what about it Jesus?’ Religion digressed into this conservative moral crusade that went and found people in sin and singled them out for judgment. Jesus doesn’t say ‘oh, don’t worry about that silly law of Moses’ he says in essence ‘you guys are right, justice demands strict holiness, you got me now’ instead he agrees that justice does require her death, and he says ‘go ahead, start stoning’. One thing ‘you must be free of sin in order to carry out this punishment’. The law required total righteousness from everyone, even the moral crusaders! When religion digresses to the point where all it does is go out into society and find fault, then this type of religion is powerless to change the ‘fault finders’. Jesus doesn’t side with the ultra liberals either, you don’t see him marching for the right for homosexuals to marry. He tells the woman ‘neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more’. Jesus said this to the guy he healed a few chapters ago. ‘Go and sin no more less a worse thing happen to thee’. Was Jesus simply telling them the same thing that they heard from the religious right their whole lives? Was he simply saying ‘watch out, if you sin again you will get in trouble’ not really. Jesus words had tremendous power and authority, he told people who couldn’t see ‘see’ and they would! People who couldn’t walk ‘get up’ and they did. He was empowering these people by his words. When he said ‘sin no more’ he was giving them the first freedom from years of bondage that they ever had. He also was saying ‘I don’t condone sin’ but he was saying much more! Jesus tells the Jews who ‘believe in him’ if you continue in my word ye shall be free. In the next chapter [9] we will read of the guy Jesus heals, who also says ‘Jesus healed me’ but doesn’t know who Jesus is yet, then later he believes in him as Messiah. This is the type of belief that Israel and Islam and other religions have about Jesus. They accept him as a good man, prophet even. But not the Son of God. To these he says ‘if ye continue in my word then you will know the truth and be free’ if they stick around long enough they might just see that Jesus is for real! Truth is progressive, often times I will give a book to someone, or teach something over the radio. People will see things that they haven’t seen before. A few years go by and they ‘fall back’ into the old mindset. They sincerely forgot that some of the questions they have now have actually been answered already. ‘Go read the first book I wrote, it explains it’ oh yhea, I see now. People need to ‘continue in the word’ in order to be changed. It is not just the one time ‘revelation’ of a certain doctrine that changes you, it is continuing in Gods truth and knowing him, that is Jesus, who is the way and truth and life. Knowing doctrine does not set people free, knowing Jesus does. (586) John 8-9 [radio # 592] before I cover this, last night I was watching a preacher from a classic type ministry. Not the flamboyant ‘prosperity’ type with gold hanging off and all. I was a bit surprised [let down] to hear him teach the classic errors of the prosperity movement. He took the verse in Corinthians where it says ‘though he was rich yet for your sakes he became poor’ and taught that Jesus died to make you rich financially [ a direct violation of 1st Timothy 6]. He went to Genesis and showed how Abraham was rich, then jumped to Galatians 3 and taught ‘we are Abrahams kids, therefore we get his blessings[stuff]’ a classic mistake in doctrine. I explained this in the book ‘House of Prayer or Den of Thieves’ in the chapter ‘The Abrahamic Blessing’[you can read this book on this site!]. This stuff shouldn’t have been coming from this program, they are not the type that teach this stuff. You could tell from the look on the faces of the audience that they were feeling uncomfortable with what this guy was teaching! Now John 8-9. Jesus says ‘you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth that I heard from God’ often times when people are reproved, they don’t like it. It’s not that what the ‘reprover’ is saying is wrong, it’s just we don’t like being confronted with truth. We usually take it out on the messenger. Jesus says ‘before Abraham was, I AM’ this is the name of God in the Old Testament ‘the I AM’. Jesus is the ‘I AM’ in Johns gospel. I AM the door, I AM the resurrection, I AM the way and the truth and the life. I believe you find 7 different ‘I AM’s’ of Jesus in this gospel. Jesus now heals the man who was blind from birth. They ask him ‘who sinned, this man or his parents’? They had a mentality that always wanted to place blame on someone for sickness, sort of like some in the healing movements of today. Jesus said ‘neither’. He simply said ‘this happened to him so I would heal him and God would get glory’. He heals the man and the leaders are mad. ‘Who healed you’? A man called Jesus. They get the guys parents and say ‘you say he was blind, then how come he can see?’ They say ‘ask him’. They go back and ask again. The healed guy answers ‘how many times do you want to hear it, I told you already’. Though the man still doesn’t know Jesus is the Messiah, yet he starts to defend him, and even prophesy! ‘We know that if any man be a worshipper of God, and does his will, him God hears’ good stuff coming from an ‘unsaved’ guy! Jesus hears that they rejected him, he tells the guy ‘I am messiah’ and the guy believes. Jesus says ‘I come to give sight to those who are blind [admit they need help] and to take away sight from those who see’ [think they know it all]. We often can’t receive correction because of religious pride, we think we ‘see everything’ someone comes along and shakes the cart, our first response is ‘who does he think he is, doesn’t he know that we all know more than him’. Quite often whole groups of leaders have the same blind spot. This is what enforces the belief that they must be right! Jesus told them ‘you guys are blind, if you could just admit you didn’t know it all, then I could show you some good stuff, but because you think you already ‘see’ everything, then you are gonna miss out’. Pride is destructive, it keeps us in the dark spiritually. NOTE; Let me give an example. I remember reading an article on tithing from one of the best Christian historical review magazines in print. They do exhaustive historical research on many subjects. To the surprise of the readers, this well respected historical magazine, read by many theologians, showed that all the historical evidence points to the fact that the churches of the first century did not practice tithing! This seemed to go against the grain of what many of the theologians believed, who regularly read this magazine. But you could have easily come to this same understanding from simply reading the New Testament in context. I have basically taught you guys this for years, from scripture. Yet this ‘blind spot’ was an area where many intelligent ‘religious leaders’ were all wrong. They ‘corporately’ were wrong on this subject. It took a ‘jolt’ from true historical evidence before they could ‘see’ the obvious! It would be too humbling to have seen it from a ‘layman firefighter’ who has a web site. NOTE; Tithing as a practice for Christians developed at the same time as ‘the church building’ and the office of ‘Priest’ and eventually the altar [in the Catholic system] and the mass. The church got away from the family/community mindset and took on more of the ‘church building’ form. Tithing fit in easily into an idea of church that asked ‘how much should we put in the offering basket on Sunday’. The whole language and style of church called for the doctrine of tithing to be taught, sort of like a ‘tax’ on the people of God to support ‘the church’. Now, there are some good things that came out of the ‘dark ages’ of Christianity. The ‘desert fathers’, the Catholic mystics and other good spiritual disciplines. I don’t want to fall into the category of those who see the dark ages as a time of no good whatsoever. But we also need to see how the church during that time was very legalistic in the sense that the Mass and Altar and 'Priest’ presiding over the liturgy were all forms of Christian service that were absent from the churches in Scripture. The tithe was just one added aspect of this legalistic approach that seemed to make it all the way into the Protestant churches of today. All these churches are good Christians in my view, but we need to be open to change and reformation as the Spirit leads. (588) John 10[radio # 593]- I forgot to mention in John 9 when they asked Jesus who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus said ‘no one’. Later in the chapter after the Pharisees get done with the guy, they say ‘you were altogether born in sin [after all you were BORN blind!] who do you think you are, trying to tell us what to do!’ that secret mentality of condemnation came out. Religion does this to people. It treats them like ‘yes, God is merciful and we are all sinners’ but in the heat of the argument the mentality of ‘we are really better than you’ exists. Now in this chapter Jesus says ‘I am the door’ and also ‘I am the shepherd who comes thru the door’ how can he be both? Jesus was the one who would fulfill all the required prophetic aspects spoken of in scripture. There were tons of Old Testament prophecies that Jesus met to the tee. These requirements were like a door, as the Jews were waiting for their Messiah they were looking for someone who met this criteria, Jesus met them! He also IS the door, from this time onward all other future leadership in the church would have to come ‘thru’ him and exemplify the servant attitude that he had. Jesus says ‘the hireling flees when the wolf comes’ the hireling is a mentality that looks at church leadership as a hired position. People vote on their pastor, if he does a good job he stays, if not he leaves and they screen for another hired position. Many good men have been down this road. Often when the ‘wolf comes’ he actually says to the leader ‘you cant stay in this town any longer, look at all the mistakes you made’ the accuser gets the hireling to flee, sometimes without the pastor realizing what’s going on. Jesus wants us to ‘come thru the door’ into the sheepfold. The ‘prescribed way’ of servant hood and giving your life for the sheep. I want to encourage all the pastors who read this site, don’t see your job as completing some vision, or rallying people to a cause. Though these things are included in pastoring, the main job for all of us is to give our lives unselfishly for others. It is easy to fall into the trap of ‘the hireling’ but God wants us to view our callings thru a servant hood mentality. The good shepherd gives his life [goals, dreams, etc...] up for the sheep. The Pharisees say ‘he is a mad man, he has a devil, why do you even listen to him?’ The leaders decided to bypass Jesus, they thought ‘we will just ignore him and he will go away’ the only problem was the average ‘congregant’ was listening! Often times in prophetic ministry you will find the bulk of leadership by passing the prophetic word [that which God is saying at the season] it is only later, after the ‘people’ hear it, that leaders will give it a second look. Leaders, don’t fall into this category, if you get in on what God is saying from the start, then you can partake of the good stuff along with the people! Jesus in these last few chapters said he is Gods Son and the Jews understood it to mean his claim of equality with God. They understood right! I mention this because some feel that Jesus didn’t claim deity, he most certainly did. Even 1st century historians noted this in their writings, that the believers worshipped ‘a God named Jesus’. The deity question is vital, if you miss this one, you’ve missed it all! NOTE; Let me make a note here. It would be very easy for me to develop a teaching from this chapter that says ‘because of all you have seen about the idea of modern church, and the unbiblical roles of the hired clergy. That therefore all ‘pastors’ are hirelings’. Some have actually taught this. There are a few reasons why I don’t fall into this camp. First, when God initiates reformation ‘a reforming of the practices of modern church’ he does it with the sheep in mind. Jesus told the disciples ‘I have many things to say to you, but you are unable to hear it’ he could have blown them away with doctrine, but the goal was their development. If all doctrine, even true doctrine, does not build you up in some way, then it is not accomplishing the purpose that God intends. So in all the stuff I have taught you guys, the goal is for all of us [Pastors and people] to grow and change in Gods timing. To use my influence in a way that would split churches, or have the people viewing their pastors as ‘hirelings’ would be unprofitable. Eventually we all, as a Body, will change and reform as God directs. But to use this chapter to tear down all current forms of leadership presently functioning in the church would be irresponsible. With knowledge comes responsibility. God will give us knowledge and wisdom for the purpose of edification, not destruction. (591) John 11[ radio # 594]- Lazarus is sick and Mary and Martha send for Jesus. They were all friends and supporters of Jesus ministry, surely they will get special treatment, they know for sure he will be healed! Jesus waits a few days and lets Lazarus die. When he finally shows up, Martha comes to ask him ‘why weren’t you here! He would have not died if you were here!’ Jesus also earlier said ‘I am glad I was not there’ not ‘I am glad I didn’t heal him’ it’s like Jesus knew if he were there he would have had no choice but to have healed him, his compassion would have taken over. Martha and Mary knew it too. These are Jewish friends that are all sympathetic to his cause, they were known to have been friends with Jesus, they already carried a cross for him. For him to have let this group down was hard. He knew God had a better plan, but it still was hard. Martha tells Mary ‘come quickly, Jesus wants you’ Mary gets up and runs to Jesus. I don’t read where Jesus asked for Mary, I think Martha might have just said this to encourage Mary. Often times the closest followers of Jesus need to be encouraged. They have been with the Lord for years, they have given so much to the cause. They see how God is doing so much for others and yet all things don’t seem to be working out for them. They feel like Mary ‘what’s the use, I was following him years before these others, and yet he doesn’t even have time to come and heal my brother, he’s out all over the place healing everyone else, his so called ‘great ministry for God’ and yet I really needed him’ Mary needed to be encouraged, Martha encouraged her! Jesus does raise Lazarus and God is glorified. Word gets back to the religious leaders and they are afraid if they don’t do something they will lose their influence and power among the people. It was a power issue. Often times leadership will resist the ‘Body of Jesus’ coming into full functioning maturity, they are afraid that if the Body of Jesus becomes too influential, they might lose their place. John the Baptist taught us earlier that this was to be, the Pharisees had other plans. As they hold a council, Caiaphas the high priest says ‘leave him alone, Rome will come and kill him and it will be better. That way they can vent on him instead of all of the Jewish nation’ he prophesies the truth of Christ’s substitutionary death, and doesn’t even realize what he’s saying! Often times you will get a word from the Lord from people that don’t even realize they are prophesying! NOTE; I forgot something. When Jesus and his disciples are going to raise Lazarus, they will be entering an area where the Jewish leaders ‘have a contract on him’ they are looking to get him! Jesus reassures the guys they will be safe if they walk in ‘the light’ of Gods will. Thomas says ‘Oh great, lets all go and die with him’. Gee thanks for the support brother! Jesus never kicks Thomas off of the ministry ‘team’ he lets him stay on. You often hear ‘if you are the smartest person in your group get a new group’ or ‘evil communications corrupt good manners’ [scripture does say this]. But we sometimes teach it in a way that says ‘Don’t ever listen to the naysayers, eliminate them from your group. They will destroy your team spirit’ while there is some truth to this, remember Jesus was the smartest person in the group, his critics actually accused him of having ‘a bad group’ [this man eateth with sinners] so keep a balance in this. We are here to help the sick, not the well. If you don’t have some ‘bad apples’ in your sphere of influence than how are you gonna help them? (593) John 12 [radio # 595] - Jesus goes to Bethany, the town where he raised Lazarus. At the house Mary pours expensive perfume on Jesus. Judas gets mad! ‘We could have sold it and used the money for the poor!’ Judas was the treasurer, he had ‘the bag’. He didn’t care about the poor, but was stealing from the treasury. Some teach that the treasury had millions of dollars in it, if this were so then why would Judas be worried about some perfume worth around $132.00 dollars? You guys teaching this ‘rich Jesus’ stuff need to read your bibles! In the town of Bethany Lazarus is the talk of the town ‘hey, did you see the guy Jesus raised from the dead’? The Pharisees were devising a way to kill Lazarus too! It’s a funny thing, these leaders were sticklers for the law, real legalistic. The number one law out of their 10 commandments was ‘thou shalt not kill’ yet they seemed to be thinking of killing an awful lot! Religion does this to people, it causes you to overlook the obvious while worrying about the details. Jesus called this ‘straining at gnats while swallowing whole Camels’. You see this later on at the Crucifixion, they are all concerned over what day they kill Jesus ‘God forbid we break our rules of purity WHILE KILLING THE SON OF GOD!’ Pathetic bunch of losers. The Greeks come to Jesus disciples and say ‘we want to see Jesus’. They go and tell Jesus ‘these Greeks want to meet you’ Jesus responds in a strange way ‘unless a grain of wheat dies it abides alone, but if it dies it brings forth fruit… If any man serves me, where I am they will be’. In essence Jesus says ‘I am not here to present myself to people on some platform, I am here to do the will of my father. If they want to see me they must lay their lives down and die to self and carry the cross also, where I am they can be’. His answer was a call to self sacrifice and denial of self. Today we have an atmosphere of performance ‘lets go watch the great Prophet’. Going to conferences and stuff. Jesus said prophetic gifts function thru sacrifice, if you are laying your life down for the gospel you will interact with all of Gods gifted 5 fold ministers, but they were not designed to be seen on a stage. ‘While you have the light, walk in it. The darkness comes, and no one can function then’ Jesus was showing us to ‘strike when the irons hot’ act when God opens the door. I have found when I ‘go for it’ during seasons of God showing me stuff, then whatever is instituted at the time [some function of ministry] becomes really effective. Then there are times where I don’t go for it when the Lord opens the door, I miss the ‘open window’ and then later try to get something going, it never works! Like the children of Israel not entering the Promised Land on the first try, the next day they thought ‘what the hell, lets do it today’ it didn’t work! Walk while ye have the light [God showing you the next step] because when it gets dark [you missed the window] no one can work. (606) JOHN 13 [radio # 596] - Jesus says ‘I am come from God, and I am going back to him’. He had this divine sense of mission. Theologians have disagreed over how much Jesus knew about his own calling as a young person. I kinda see it like he gradually came to greater wisdom and understanding as the father was revealing the mission to him. The fact that Jesus became human also brought with it certain limitations of knowledge and growth. He did come to see his mission at a young age. When he was in the temple as a boy he said ‘I am doing my fathers business’. So I see how he grew in his sense of mission and destiny. You have come from the father, you will some day go back. Live with destiny in mind. At the table Jesus tells the guys ‘I am giving you an example’ as he washes their feet. Peter is like preachers today ‘heavens forbid that you wash me, are you saying I need some correcting’! I have found this response common among leaders [even me!] we sought of cant get corrected, then when we do realize we need it, we go to the other extreme ‘well, go ahead and give me a bath!’ We want to tear everything down and start all over! It is funny. Jesus says ‘what I am showing you, you don’t really know what it means yet, you understand it in your head, but not for real’ I feel the example of ‘servant leadership’ is a subject that most leaders ‘know’ but the fact of it being really lived out is rare. We still see ‘ministry’ and ‘church’ from the paradigm of ‘my successful career’. I am not saying everyone is wrong, I am saying the level we are at is sort of where the disciples were. We ‘know it’ in our heads, but we still ask ‘who will be the greatest in your Kingdom. Can we sit at your right Hand?’ Jesus makes one of the worst statements in all of scripture ‘one of you shall betray me’ he also says in another place ‘it were better for that man if he were never born’ WOW! How would you feel if this were said about you? At the table the disciples were feeling insecure. ‘John, ask Jesus who it is for heavens sake!’ John and Judas know, I don’t know about the others. It seems as if they leave the meal with the possibility of ‘Oh my God, could it be me’ this lets you see into the later distress that Peter has over his denials. He must have thought ‘I am the bad one’. Peter makes every attempt to not be the one. Jesus says ‘where I am going, you can’t follow’ Peter says ‘why not, I will die for you’! Jesus says ‘I tell you, before the cock crows, you will deny me 3 times’! “OH MY GOD IT IS ME!’ do you see the drama here? Why would Jesus say about Judas ‘it would have been better if you were never born’? It sure seems hard. Jesus said this for Judas benefit, not his own. Jesus knew that for the fathers plan to work, someone would have to hate him so much that he would betray him. Jesus loved Judas, he lived with him for 3 years. He saw THE SINCERITY of Judas as a zealot for his political cause. You say ‘but he was a thief from the start’ true. But I am sure he justified it like cheating on your taxes! The point was Judas really thought he was getting in on this new ‘progressive’ political movement of the day. Sure he was stealing, but after all ‘I deserve it, the Pay Jesus gives us isn’t cutting it. Doesn’t he realize we are risking our lives with him. I am deserving of it’. Jesus knew Judas was the average Joe. Jesus had some good times during the 3 years of friendship. Jesus didn’t lie when he said ‘friend, why are you betraying me with a kiss’? Jesus wished he had never been born. NOTE; in the current discussion with ‘Emergent Church’ stuff, some are bringing up the possibility of hell being symbolic in nature. Does ‘fire’ mean ‘fire’ and stuff like that. I believe it does, but want you to understand that true thinkers and movers have differences of opinion on this. Origen, one of the early intellectual church fathers, taught universalism. That all people will ultimately be saved. Of more recent fame, Carlton Pearson left his charismatic roots and embraced ‘no hell’. To be honest, he has gone a lot further than simply being ‘no hell’. He denies the authority of scripture, thinks John wrote Revelation as an expression of being delusional. I feel Pearson, in his journey towards universalism, went way too far. Clark Pinnock, a modern theologian has taught ‘annihilationism’ that all the wicked will be burned up and non existent. There are a few verses where you can get this from! The point is some very good people [and bad] have differences of opinion on this. My point is this statement from Jesus ‘it would have been better if Judas were never born’ sure seems to indicate that every one will not wind up in heaven! It seems as a harsh thing to say if Jesus knew his buddy would one day be in heaven. Judas could rightfully ask ‘why did you say it would have been better if I were never born, after all, all people who were ever born wind up in heaven.’ (611) JOHN 14 [radio # 597] - Jesus says he is going away to prepare a place for us. He tells the disciples they know where he is going and how to get there. Thomas says ‘we have no idea where you are going, how can we know the way’. Jesus wasn’t talking ‘location’ as much as communion with the Trinity. He was saying I am going to THE FATHER and you now know the Father, because I have revealed him to you. You have seen me, you have seen him. Also, the way to the father is thru the Son, so you not only know where I am going [Father] but the way [Son]. Now I get it! You can take this 2 ways [not three!] you can look at it as Jesus speaking of the sending of the Spirit as his ‘coming again’, in verse 18 he does say this. He says ‘I will come to you’ and he is speaking of the Spirits coming. Thru this chapter the comforter is one just like him. Also you can read this as the literal second coming. We believe Jesus will come again! Some have said this chapter is speaking of something else besides these 2 options, they think this ‘coming’ is the rapture. A separate event from the 2nd coming. I don’t see how you can believe it this way. Also in this chapter Jesus is showing the intent of redemption. He didn’t just come to take us to heaven. In chapter 17 we will read that he prays to the father for us not to be taken out of the world, but to keep us from the evil in it. Thomas seems to be thinking ‘location and how to get there’ when he says ‘we have no idea where you are going, how can you think we know how to get there’? But Jesus is really speaking the language of fellowship in the Trinity/Unity that he has with the father and the Spirit. He is telling Thomas ‘my purpose is to bring you into this oneness that I have with the father, to invite you to partake in this fellowship’ in essence ‘I am not talking about getting you to a location [heaven] in as much as bringing you into a state of being with me and my father’ true ‘HOLY COMMUNION’! You do see this concept thru out the chapter. The disciples seem to be struggling ‘how will you come back and reveal yourself to us and not to the world’ Jesus says ‘if a man loves me he will keep my words, the Spirit will then come and indwell him and we will all have community together’ [Father, Son, Spirit and all believers]. They are grappling with these ideas. They were like us, always thinking in terms of being saved to go to heaven when we die. Now, I thank God for this benefit. I am very happy that I am not going to Hell! Don’t underestimate this blessing. But Jesus is speaking on a much higher plane. He even says ‘the words I am speaking are not mine, but the Fathers’. A few practical things. Jesus says when I leave you will do greater works because I am leaving and the Spirit will come and indwell you. The ‘non Charismatics’ say this is evangelism. Jesus will give us the Spirit and we will evangelize on a mass scale, greater works. The Charismatics say this is doing more miracles, raising the dead and healing the sick and casting out devils. Who is right? Take them all! Just be sure and bring people into the Kingdom. The gifts are not for you to get famous or gain a following, they are for the purpose of evangelism and expanding the Kingdom. In this chapter we see Jesus great promises of peace and his dwelling with us forever. The promise of the Spirit showing us the things of the father. We are invited into this wonderful communion with him. Let’s allow the work of the Spirit to use us to bring others into this community. The 2 great commandments Jesus gives us is to love God and others. The ‘others’ speaks of his desire to bring people into this community. NOTE; on the radio when I spoke on this entry I mentioned some stuff on the historic creeds and the language that the early church used to define the Trinity. In the world today the 3 main religions are Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Islam and Judaism claim to be Monotheistic. Christians also claim this, but Islam and Judaism don’t agree. The reason for this is in the way the historic church came to define the Trinity. There have been Jewish converts to Christianity who accept Jesus as Messiah but do not accept the classic language of the Trinity. The verse that says ‘the Lord our God is one’ is a main text for both Muslims and Jews in their understanding of Gods oneness. Some of the Trinitarian language has been an obstacle to Muslims and Jews converting. Now, like I said before, I do believe in the Trinity. But if you notice the language that Jesus will use in our study in John, it seems more in line with ‘Unity’ then ‘Trinity’. The truth of the Trinity is there, but the explanations that Jesus gives sound better than the way the creeds say it. One of the creeds says Jesus was begotten eternally. That there was never a time where he was begotten. He was always ‘begotten’. They came to this language by trying to defend Christ’s deity. The problem is scripture teaches us that there was a definite point in time when Jesus ‘was begotten’. The fact that Jesus existed always with the father is different from saying ‘he was always born as a man’ which is what begotten refers to. So to be honest about it, the language in this creed is an obstacle. In my recent conversations with my Muslim friend I stood strong for the deity of Christ and God becoming man thru the incarnation, but I also tried to use the actual language of scripture when explaining it. This is going to be important for the future of the church as she tries to bring both Muslims and Jews into the church. We don’t want to compromise on the historic truths of Christianity, but we also want to express our belief in Monotheism in ways that are in keeping with scripture. Also when I say ‘into the church’ I mean bringing them to God thru Christ, not into some ‘culture of Christianity’ that the world sees as ‘church’. NOTE; I also spoke on the second coming and Preterism. Preterism is a way of interpreting the Second coming as having happened in A.D. 70. This belief arose out of a well intentioned answer to the critics of Christianity. Some critics have brought out the idea that the early church were all expecting an imminent return of Jesus, that they took the obvious scriptures that speak of Jesus coming quickly and stuff like that and were let down when Jesus did not come for the first few centuries. So some scholars developed the idea that Jesus did come in ‘judgment’ and fulfilled all the verses of the second coming in A.D. 70. Others have taught how the early church had to later adjust it’s theology around the ‘obvious’ mistaken teachings of Jesus. Some of these guys are believers, but they fall into the liberal camp. My belief is Jesus will literally come again. A Protestant scholar actually made an argument for the ‘literalness’ of Jesus return thru the Catholic teaching on Transubstantiation. He defended our Catholic brother’s ideas on the Real Presence in the Eucharist. He said the church has been faithful to the literal return of Jesus and his immediate presence by the reality of Jesus being present in Communion. Good effort, but a little too much spiritualizing for me. I believe the best argument that can be made, if you were going to go down this road, would be this chapter. Jesus says he will come again and also says the comforter will be the fulfillment of this coming. Now, I also believe in the future literal return of Jesus, because later on in the New testament you see Paul teaching a future return after the initial outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. I was watching an end time teacher using the verse where Jesus spoke on the destruction of the Temple and he was applying it to a future Temple. He was wrong. I also believe the Preterists are wrong. I believe the rapture as a separate event from the second coming is ‘extra biblical’. But in all of our seeking for truth, I don’t throw out the historic belief of Christ’s return. I believe the best way to explain the supposed delay of his return is to look at the character of God. The New Testament says the longsuffering of God is because he wants to bring as many people into the church as possible. That which seems to be a delay is really mercy. No need to try and find ways to explain this to the critics, Jesus is delaying his return for their benefit! (614) JOHN 15 [Radio # 598] Jesus tells the disciples they are the branches, he is the vine. If they truncate themselves from him they will perish. In the world of ‘once saved always saved’ and ‘if you walk away you are lost’ a lot of these verses become arguing points. I believe the main context here is sort of like when I taught Hebrews [read chapter 6 of the commentary on this blog]. I see Jesus telling the disciples as a microcosm of the Nation of Israel ‘If you don’t continue in the Old Testament revelation of me as Messiah, then you will be cut off [AD 70] and be destroyed’. Basically Jesus telling Israel ‘you must remain in me [after all you have all come from me! John 1:1] if you want to be fruitful’. Jesus says ‘I want you to have full joy’ in the same context of bearing fruit. God designed all of us to be active participants in the spreading of his kingdom. In many modern scenarios you have the Pastors and staff finding fulfillment, but the average church attendee is simply a funder of the organization. They see everything thru this paradigm. ‘Give sacrificially, we can reach the world!’ It’s good to give sacrificially, but God wants all of us to ‘reach the world’ to be active participants in this thing. You can’t have ‘full joy’ unless you do the stuff! Jesus says ‘If I had not come and spoken unto them [religious leaders] they wouldn’t have known they were wrong’ also ‘if I had not done the works among them that no one else was doing’. Jesus reproved by word and deed. I find it funny how after preaching that you don’t need lots of money to reach the world for Christ, that preachers get really mad at this. Then when we do impact a large region [basically Texas, New York area and all the African preachers who have been reading/listening to us on the internet] with me paying for everything, that this really gets the ‘religious leaders’ mad. Don’t be mad, instill this same concept into your people and you will have a full reward. Tell them like Jesus told his disciples ‘go into the world, don’t think you need a lot of equipment for this, you are the equipment. No special appeals for funds, keep it simple’ [Message Bible] Jesus taught and lived contrary to the professional clergies agenda. They got mad! NOTE; Jesus says ‘ye are clean thru the word that I have spoken unto you’. As I was reading this chapter for a few days, getting ready to write on it. I usually get up early and pray ‘aggressively’ for a while before I write. Sometimes I just wait on the Lord and just listen [for about an hour] and hear what he is saying. All of these entries come from this ‘hearing’ time, not from much ‘head knowledge’. As I was waiting the other day, the Lord spoke to me about this verse ‘ye are clean [set apart for my purpose] thru the word I speak to you, not thru what you speak [pray] to me’. I felt like the Lord was saying there are times in our lives where we simply receive and become the ‘incarnate’ purpose of God. That God desires to reveal himself to people thru us. The purpose of receiving his word is not for didactic teaching only, but for becoming what he says. Sort of like the imagery I taught in John 1 [go back and read it!] we in essence become what he is communicating. We don’t just ‘hear’ it, we experience it. Like the Prophets in the Old Testament, God would communicate thru them, but they also would go thru some strange stuff! Jesus also says ‘if you abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what you will and it will be done’. I want to credit the Word of Faith guys for bringing out truth in this area. They popularized the idea of knowing Gods will and purpose by knowing his word. His will is his word, if you will. The problem became an unbalanced teaching thru only seeing the ‘good stuff’ and avoiding the suffering verses. It would become next to impossible to correct these brothers as they went headlong down the path of materialism. Any attempt to reprove them would be seen as ‘don’t listen to the negative naysayer’ and they would develop a mindset that would not receive correction. In the reality of Gods will being his word, we must understand it is his whole word. Even the verses that give warnings about end time teachers who would stray from the faith by becoming money focused! [1st Timothy 6]. So lets give credit where it is due, but also stay on course. (618) JOHN 16 (radio # 599) Jesus says ‘these things I have spoken unto you that you should not be offended’. What things? The reality that after he leaves they will suffer and go thru stuff. He also tells them it is necessary for their own growth for him to leave. If he doesn’t leave them alone they will never experience the true ministry of ‘the comforter’. The Spirit comforts those who need it. They will need it! If Jesus didn’t tell them about the difficulty up front, there would have been cause for offense. When the American church preaches only a gospel of success, when people later go thru stuff they feel like ‘what’s wrong with me? God, you told me thru your preachers that if I believed you all would go well’ they get offended because they weren’t given both sides. Jesus gave both sides. When the Comforter comes he will reprove of sin, righteousness and judgment [do justice]. Some times we think the purpose for the church is to simply reprove of sin. God wants us to do justice [civil rights] and show what is right. I heard a preacher say ‘the only reason Christians should ever practice civil disobedience is if the govt. said you couldn’t preach. But if they are killing babies, you shouldn’t practice civil disobedience’. Remember when we said to use the same measure for others as you would use on yourself? I would ask this preacher ‘what if the law allowed for your 2 year old to be killed.’ Say if the law came to your house and said ‘we are going to get your last bible copy and destroy it, or take your little girl and chop her head off’ would you use ‘civil disobedience’ to save the baby or the book? ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you can not bear them now’ I think the American church is simply not able to ‘bear stuff now’. It’s not like we couldn’t understand the stuff, or ‘receive it’ into our ears. It’s just we are way too immature as a corporate people to truly grasp it. The need is really not more knowledge, its more growth [not numbers, maturity!]. I remember reading how Dietrich Boenhoffer visited a Christian university in New York. After his trip he commented on the surprise he had to see the level of immaturity in the American church. He would soon become a martyr under Hitlers 3rd Reich. ‘Ye shall weep and lament, the world shall rejoice. Your sorrow will turn into joy’ Jesus wants us to know that a day of recompense is coming. We will go thru stuff, but God will bring you out on the other side! We need both truths to stay balanced. ‘When a woman is in labor, she wants to abort the process. But after the child is birthed, she forgets all the pain’. A very important aspect of your calling is to ‘bring forth’ the thing God has destined you for. There comes a time where you need to pass the test. God is merciful, he lets you ‘re take’ the test. He brings teachers in who know how important it is for you to pass. They even will ‘teach to the test’ some will curve the grade. All types of stuff to get you to the next level. Sooner or later you gotta pass the test. If you don’t, God will still love you. You can even attend the graduations of your friends. But at the end of the day you will have been a spectator in the auditorium as opposed to a graduate on the stage. It’s better to be on the stage! ‘In me you will have peace, in the world you WILL HAVE TRIBULATION, be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.’ Jesus promise isn’t to get us out of the world or the tribulation in it. But to keep us at peace by having our minds fixed on him. The world runs back and forth [I was gonna say ‘to and fro’ but that would have been a little to preachy] trying to extend their lives. Have enough money to retire on. Keep from getting blown up in a terrorist thing. They really have no peace, no matter how hard they try they will all die sooner or later. The only peace to be found is in God. To have the promise of future resurrection and living forever with God is the only lasting thing you can have. All the money you earn and save will be as useless as toilet paper in a few years, start living for eternal rewards! (625) JOHN 17 [radio # 600] Jesus prays to the Father and asks God to ‘glorify him’ with the glory they had in the beginning. In verse 22 he says he gave this glory to the church. That’s strange. Scripture says God will not share his glory with another, yet here he gives it to the disciples. How can that be? Well, as the Body of Christ we are not ‘another’ we are one with him! He also says ‘I have given life to those who you gave to me, you have given me power over all flesh. I have given life to the ones you have chosen’. Here you see the ‘reformed’ part of me. Jesus is not simply offering life to those who want it [though he does this at other times!] but here he is giving life to those whom the father chose. You find both of these themes in scripture. Don’t fight it, we can’t explain it, but praise God, he chose you! [and me]. ‘I have finished the work which you gave me to do’. What work? He hasn’t gone to the Cross yet. I guess you can say in a way that the work was finished from the foundation of the world, and Jesus is saying ‘the course has been determined, I will go!’ But I also see some truth to ‘the work’ being him revealing the Father to the ‘men which you gave me out of the world’ the work of the 3 year mission to disciple and train the 12. God has determined for people to cross paths with you thru out your life. These are ‘the men’ that God has given you out of the world. It is your destiny to reveal THE FATHERS NAME unto them! In present models of church leadership we fail miserably at this. We see ‘the men’ that God has given us as supporters of our ministries. People whom we try to instill ‘faithfulness into’. ‘Be faithful to the vision of this house’ and stuff like that. When these men go their way, we look for ‘new men’ to come and fill the gap. We basically reveal ‘our name’ to them! Keep in mind that you have a destiny to cross paths with people thru out your life. You will have ‘finished the fathers work’ if by the time you part ways, they have seen and come to know HIM. ‘I have given them the words which thou gavest me’ Give people the words that God is speaking. Don’t fall into the trap of communicating only that which benefits the ‘vision’ of your ministry. We often communicate that which brings the crowds in. If we teach something and the offerings go down, we have a tendency to not teach it again! There is so much pressure in modern ministry to tailor the message to the hearer. Speak the things God is saying. Talk on social justice issues. Not only on the popular ones, it’s ‘in’ to be against racial profiling, but how about the truth on quotas and affirmative action? Speak truth in all areas. Speak the words that God wants communicated. You have a destiny to cross paths with people, avoid the temptation to speak with the goal of being accepted. You know, saying things that you know are popular. Speak truth to power! ‘Father, I will that they be with me where I am. That they may behold my glory’ Is he talking heaven only? Remember how Jesus said the Comforter will come and manifest and dwell in those who believe and keep his words? Jesus is speaking in terms of community here. Organic ‘local church’. Where 2 or more are, there is he ‘in the midst’. Jesus wants us to be where he is, Jesus told the Greeks earlier in this gospel ‘If they want to see me, they can meet me at the Cross’ [a grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying]. I think Jesus is speaking of meeting him in true discipleship and union with him and the father. The reality of the New birth and Jesus dwelling in us by the Spirit. Let’s end with Jesus desire for oneness and unity. In the beginning of this chapter Jesus said all who know the father thru the son have life [a big group of believers!] he also wants all of us to be one. This ‘oneness’ is actually a present reality in Spirit, though it is not fully functional and ‘seen’ yet in the world. Jesus wants it to be ‘seen’. This is how the world will know that he was sent by God! Let’s strive for this unity in Christ. I know there are so many divisions in the Body of Christ it isn’t funny. Some people miss read my own belief on this when they see how we reprove lots of stuff in the church. I don’t reprove from the standpoint of ‘we are right and you are wrong’ more from the standpoint of ‘we are all striving to be what the father wants, lets be honest and open with one another. Let’s reprove because we care for each other and don’t want the other to ‘fall off the cliff’. Lets do all we do with the purpose of true unity in mind. I don’t care how afraid you are of ‘the one world church’, but whether you like it or not, you are part of Gods ‘one world church’. (627) JOHN 18 (radio # 601) Jesus is betrayed in the garden. John follows Jesus all the way to the judgment, Peter stops short at the door. Why does John record this? Is he being self serving? He is the only gospel writer that tells you this [If I remember?] I think there is a purpose. Jesus already taught the principle of ‘whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but he that is wiling to give it up will save it’. All the others fled out of self preservation. John stayed. All the others will eventually die martyrs deaths, except for John! He will wind up on some island in his old age writing this tremendous prophetic vision [Revelation]. Truly he that was willing to give his life up outlasted them all! Actually if you read the last chapter of John this becomes an issue. Jesus tells Peter ‘if I will that John lives until I come, what is that to thee’? Then a rumor gets started over John not dieing until the 2nd coming! Hey, I wonder what they thought as they were all getting martyred one by one. Each time another disciple dies, they must have been thinking ‘hey, Johns still here, maybe he will live till Jesus comes’? The high priest asks Jesus of his doctrine AND disciples. Both Paul and Jesus had ‘doctrine and disciples’. Paul was a theologian on the run! Getting let down in baskets from city walls. Being stoned and put in prison. Paul was writing theology under crisis. Jesus and Paul weren’t some ivory tower theologians speculating on the latest fad in theology. They were ‘doing the stuff’. I want to challenge all my preacher friends, do you have doctrine and disciples? Let’s end this chapter in a little controversy. In verse 31 it says ‘the Jews’. Verses 35 ‘thine own nation AND the chief priests’. Verses 36 ‘delivered to the Jews’. Verses 38 ‘unto the Jews’. I want you to see how the scripture makes it clear that BOTH the leaders and the Nation of Israel rejected Messiah! Jesus in this chapter says he IS THE KING OF THE JEWS! Peter’s sermons in the book of Acts accuse the Jews as a whole group of rejecting Jesus, not just a ‘conspiracy of the leaders and Rome’ [as John Hagee is teaching]. I don’t want to be anti Semitic, some have actually accused John’s gospel of being anti Semitic. Hey, John himself was a Jew! The point is God has great plans for Israel as a Nation. Read Romans. But it is also a fact that ‘the Jews’ as a people group missed their Messiah. This chapter makes it pretty clear! Also when Peter cuts off the guys ear, Jesus says ‘stop, we are not here to fight. Shall I not drink the cup which my father gave me’? Paul will later teach that his own sufferings were ‘filling up the sufferings of Christ’s Body’ this would be heretical if it weren’t in the bible! Paul and the other early believers understood the calling to suffer along with the ‘being full’ part. I have heard the ‘being full’ verse used out of context a lot! Paul does says ‘I have learned to be content in any condition [state] both having a lot and a little’. I have heard preachers say ‘see, Paul knew how to be rich as well as broke’ no he didn’t! He was never rich. He knew how to have all his needs met [full] and to lack [times of suffering and imprisonment where he couldn’t get the basic stuff to do what he needed to do to carry on the mission]. Jesus says to Peter ‘shall I avoid the cup’? I think the modern American church has answered ‘yes’. I was reading the voice of the martyrs magazine yesterday. How so many believers are suffering and dieing for the faith. In Revelation it says it was the prayers of the martyrs that carried the day. Boy will we be embarrassed at the judgment when we find out it was the prayers of our martyred brothers and sisters who died in our day who really were changing things. And at the same time we were confessing money verses all the way to the bank! (630) JOHN 19 (radio # 602) The reality of redemption! I want to stress the fact that Jesus actually dieing on the Cross and really shedding his Blood for us is what saves us. No spiritualizing here! Over the years I have seen and read how believers in an attempt to ‘see’ the deep truths of God will sometimes fudge on the real Blood of Christ redeeming us. Let’s make it clear, the New Testament teaches that it was the real Blood of Jesus and his death on the Cross that saves man. Now, were there spiritual aspects to it? Sure. But don’t ‘spiritualize’ the death and real shedding of Blood. Like the recent reproof we did on some who taught that Jesus was not the Messiah, so here we warn that his Blood really saves. I remember reading one of the founders of the Word of faith movement, E.W. Kenyon. He would eventually teach that the ‘death of Jesus [physically] didn’t touch the sin issue’ he would then teach that it was the ‘spiritual death’ that saved us. Then teach that Jesus was the ‘first born again man’ who was separated from God and ‘born again’. The New Testament teaches Jesus was ‘the first begotten from the dead’ meaning the first to rise from the dead to never die again. Not the first person to ‘be born again’! Later on you would have another famous Word of Faith brother teach the same thing. I don't know why we have to always ‘see deeper’ than the plain truth? I guess it offends the natural mind to believe that Jesus physical death and separation from the father actually redeems man. I do believe Jesus ‘went to hell’ I don't teach the ‘hell’ being a separate place called ‘paradise’ that was really like heaven. It would seem strange for David in Psalms to say ‘thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [paradise] nor suffer thy Holy one to see corruption’. It just seems to fit as being ‘hell’, not ‘paradise. But I also believe it was the real death of Jesus on the cross that saves us. He really died and really shed his Blood and it was really finished when he said ‘it is finished’. Jesus will also say to John ‘behold your mother’ and tell Mary to go home and live with John after his death. Catholic apologists use this to defend their belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary. They say ‘if Mary had other natural kids, then it would have been offensive in Jewish culture for Mary to not have gone and lived with them’ good point. But heck, I defend our Catholic brothers an awful lot. Let me defend the Protestants a little. It is also possible that Jesus strong teaching on putting the spiritual family before the natural one might have played a role here. This could be the beginnings of the strong family mindset that you will see playing out later in the book of Acts. True believers living and sharing as strong [or even stronger!] than natural families. Also we already taught how Jesus knew that John would outlive the others. Even Jesus brother James, one of the lead apostles at Jerusalem will be martyred. Maybe Jesus knew [maybe!] that committing Mary over to Johns care was a more long term thing than handing her over to his brothers? We also see Nicodemus openly follow Jesus in this chapter. He is the first of the Pharisees to confess Christ openly. Later in the book of Acts we will see ‘Pharisees who believe’ but most times leaders are the last to repent and change positions. Why? Well some of it has to do with the whole persona of leadership. With this calling comes a type of character that says ‘I preached it, any one who disagrees is simply persecution’. While there are times when this is true, there are also times where God calls leadership to new levels. Some get it on it early [Nicodemus] others later! [some never!] Be part of the early group. I forgot to mention we also see the Jews appeal to ‘King Caesar’ as opposed to King Jesus. They will tell Pilate ‘we have no King but Caesar’. They hated Caesar. The whole Jewish nation were treated like 2nd class citizens under Roman rule, sure they benefited from ‘Pax Romana’ [the peace of Rome] but they hated to be living under an occupying govt. Jesus told them earlier in this gospel ‘you refuse my testimony of who I am, yet you will accept the testimony of another’s name’ some feel this is a reference to anti Christ. I think it fits in good right here! (634) JOHN 20 (radio # 603) THE GREAT VICTORY OF THE SON OF GOD. In this chapter we finalize the witness of Jesus from his father. All along he claimed to be the Messiah, here it is truly proven! The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave is an historical fact! If you were to try and disprove this fact [many have] you would find more historical evidence backing up the reality of the Son of God than any other person. If you believe in Lincoln, Clinton, Washington or any other historical figure, than for sure you must believe in the Christ! He has so much more proof than all the others. John will say at the end of this chapter ‘Jesus did more signs than these, but these are recorded that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life thru his name’. John tells us that the miracles [signs] that Jesus did were proof of his Messiahship. I hate to have to bring this up again, but being we are reading this during the controversy [12-07] let me say it. In John Hagee’s book ‘in defense of Israel’ John teaches that Jesus was not the Messiah to Israel because God didn’t give him the power to do signs like Moses did. That Jesus told them ‘no sign will be given to you but the sign of the prophet Jonah’. Then in an unbelievable fashion John will teach that because of this, Jesus was not the Messiah. It is almost unbelievable to hear him teach this. Many Messianic groups have come out and openly rebuked Hagee for this. These are the same Jewish groups that you would think would be on his side. They also see the danger of preaching a doctrine that says ‘Jesus was not the Messiah because he refused to do signs’. Peter in Acts will actually preach sermons that say ‘God approved of his Son by giving him the Holy Spirit to do miraculous signs in front of you’. The ‘sign of the prophet Jonah’ was not Jesus telling Israel ‘you will get no signs from me’, like Hagee teaches. He said ‘the sign of Jonah’ was that Jonah went to the gentiles [Nineveh] to preach and not to Israel. Therefore the sign was Jesus telling Israel ‘I am not your Messiah, I am going to the gentiles.’ This is not what the ‘sign of Jonah’ means. The sign of Jonah was ‘as Jonah was in the belly of the whale 3 days and 3 nights, so shall the Son of man be in the heart of the earth [buried] for 3 days and nights’. The sign of Jonah was the death and resurrection of Jesus! Jesus was saying to Israel ‘I have been doing many signs already [raising the dead, opening blind eyes. All the signs that they were rejecting!] And in the ‘sign of Jonah’ statement Jesus was saying ‘this will be the ultimate sign, until you believe in this sign [the resurrection] your eyes will be blinded to all the other signs’. Hagee actually says ‘if God wanted Jesus to be the Messiah to Israel, why didn’t God give Jesus the ability to do signs like Moses’. He did! Moses even says ‘the Lord your God will raise up a prophet LIKE UNTO ME, whoever doesn’t hear him will be destroyed’. Peter says God did signs among you [Israel] to testify that he was the Messiah. The writer of this gospel [John] says ‘these signs have been recorded SO YOU WOULD BELIEVE THAT JESUS IS THE MESSIAH [CHRIST]’. John [the Apostle] will later write in his letter ‘who is anti Christ? He that denies that Jesus is the Messiah [Christ] is anti Christ’. So here we see that Jesus was proven to be the messiah by the miracles he did. The greatest one being his resurrection from the dead! (673) JOHN 21 (radio # 604) wow, I have been putting this off for a while! If you go back a few months you will see that I never finished this study. Jesus finds the disciples went back to fishing. As they near the shore he yells ‘did you guys catch anything’? No! They reply. ‘Cast your net on the other side’. Sure enough they fill the net! Notice something, there is another account where Jesus says ‘cast the nets’ and in that story they only cast ‘one net’. Why? Fishing was a tough business. After pulling in and cleaning all the commercial nets it is not easy to ‘cast them all back out for one last try’. So in that story Peter sort of says ‘Oh fine Jesus, will humor you’ and he cast ONE net. What happened? The net broke! [I think I am remembering right? If not this story will still have some meaning]. Here Jesus says ‘cast it’ they do and he fills it. The point is prepare for the capacity that he wants to give you! If he says ‘nets’ [multiple] do ‘nets’. Don’t think ‘fill the building’ here. Think in terms of harvest. The ‘fill the building’ could be part of it, but I think there’s more. Let the Lord direct your ‘casting’. Don’t focus on ‘my church in my city’ only. You often see these appeals on church web sites. It is not uncommon to find a web site on the other side of the world saying ‘come visit our Sunday meeting’. For heavens sake, if you have a web site [interNET] use it to cast to a broad region. Actually teach and interact with the thing! All the ‘virtual community’ are a real community of people. Don’t take a possible few million potential readers and say ‘come visit my building’. Geez! Get the word out! As the disciples get to shore they realize its Jesus and Peter jumps out and leaves the brothers to bring in the nets. Thanks a lot! But oh wait, then Jesus says ‘bring the fish’ and Peter runs down and grabs the net right at the end! Sort of like what Saturday night live used to say about Bill Clinton. He was a nice guy, the type who would offer to help you move the furniture, but when you let your side down you realize he wasn’t really lifting! Peter was a little ‘showboat’ here. Leaders, be careful about arranging your ‘ministries’ around your personas. Are the majority of the funds being spent on broadcasting your gift and image to people? This is not primarily New Testament ministry! Peter tells Jesus 3 time ‘you know I love you’. Most of you are familiar with this story. Jesus says ‘do you love me’ 3 times to Peter. In the Greek Jesus used the 3 different words for love. But don’t lose the context. Scripture does say Peter was grieved that Jesus asked him this 3 TIMES. Peter understood that Jesus wasn’t asking him 3 different things one time each! Maybe Jesus was allowing Peter to work in his own mind for the 3 times he publicly denied him? Maybe we need to say out loud ‘I LOVE JESUS’ to reaffirm to ourselves that if we really weren’t sincere why in the world would we even be doing these things! It’s easy to question all your motives, especially after reading this site! For the most part all you Pastors and leaders I relate to, you guys are real ‘players’. If you didn’t really love the Lord most of you wouldn’t be doing the stuff you are doing, I commend you! In verse 18 Jesus basically tells Peter ‘I am going to give you one more chance. You feel terrible about not dieing for the cause. Your denials of me were done out of fear of loosing your life. The church is going to enter a period of great persecution, many will die for the faith. When you get old Peter you will stretch forth your hands and be martyred’. It’s almost like Jesus said to him ‘don’t worry, I am giving you another chance at it’. I think this scenario is very possible, he doesn’t tell the others they will die like this. As we conclude John’s gospel, let’s recap some stuff. I said earlier that Johns gospel could be called the ‘gospel of sovereignty’. I believe Jesus taught Predestination in this gospel. At least he hits on this doctrine more in this gospel than the others. I think you could also call it ‘the gospel of belief’. There are more statements on those who believe having eternal life than in any other gospel. I think we should not take this lightly. It is common in Christian circles to add a bunch of stuff to the gospel. Many evangelicals preach a type of altar call that says ‘if you think simple belief in Jesus is going to save you, well you got another thing coming’. But simple belief in Jesus does ‘save you’ [Actually Jesus saves you!]. There is a recent resurgence in Reformed theology going on in the Evangelical church. Good stuff on Orthodoxy and Eastern roots also. Studying Patristics. We need to be careful that we don’t stray from the simple offer of eternal life to those who believe! It is all too easy to ‘fall in love’ with a sort of romanticism with all things Orthodox and mix sacerdotalism in with justification by faith! This gospel falls down heavily on the justification by faith side! [I know my Catholic friends will say ‘hey, chapter 6 says this is my Body!’ I don’t want to re teach it here. Go back and read chapter 6 on this study]. So thank God that he so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him would not perish but have Everlasting life! (1372) JOHN 17:1-7 Jesus said his hour has come, ‘glorify me with the glory which I had with you before the world was. I have manifested your name [who you are] to the men that you gave to me, they were your men and you gave them to me. They have received the words that you gave me, and they know for sure that the things that I taught them came from you.’ There is an element in Christian ministry/teaching when the rubber meets the road, after a period of time people either say ‘you know, I believe what he is saying is accurate’ or when you say ‘enough, I really can’t take this anymore’. Now Jesus will also tell us later in the chapter ‘I have kept the men you gave me, but Judas had to fall away for the scriptures to be fulfilled’ Jesus also dealt with the pain of losing one of his guys. A while back I read an article about a famous evangelical in the UK, he made some waves by referring to the Mother of Jesus in a sort of Catholic way [I forget the exact wording] but he got some heat over it. While trying to defend his new view of becoming more open to the Catholic Church, he said ‘I am as sure about this as I was about the truth of the prosperity movement’ not too comforting for me. The point though is Protestants have a tendency to journey thru the Christian life in sort of a haphazard way, we often see a certain viewpoint about some doctrine [whether true or not] and that becomes what we teach the people, then we see another thing and that becomes the next road. Too often the individualism of the Protestant way of approaching Gods kingdom has us ‘revealing to them the next new thing coming down the pike’ as opposed to saying with Jesus ‘I have manifested thy name unto the men which you gave me’. We have all been put here with a predetermined purpose from God, we can’t say ‘glorify me with the glory which I had with you [father] before the world was’ but we can say ‘father, carry out the purpose that you gave to me before the world was, that eternal purpose that you destined me for, before I ever existed’ we need to grasp a better hold on the purpose of God for our lives. We need to stop following people, even good intentioned people, thru all their ups and downs and highs and lows of new experiences and teachings; in Ephesians Paul said the purpose of us being ‘a body/community’ was so we could be built up and not be tossed around by every whim and new doctrine that people come up with. The ‘Body’ imagery speaks of the people of God as a worldwide community, a living corporate being whom God indwells. When we hear and grow with the ‘whole church- of all time’ then we do well, when we follow too closely individual men/teachers we spend too much time going up and down. (1373) JOHN 17:8-14 Jesus says he has given the words that the father gave to him, to his men. He is preparing to be ‘no more in the world’ but these are in the world, and I am glorified in/thru them. Jesus saw his mission thru the paradigm of having faithfully deposited Gods truth into the people that the father ‘gave him’. This group of men were planned by the father to have been impacted thru his life, Jesus did not see them thru the lens of ‘these men are here to promote/support my calling’ sort of like God gave them to him in order for them to help him reach some type of goal or personal achievement in life. Instead he realized that thru serving them and laying down his life for them, that thru these acts he would be ‘glorified/honored thru them’. That is the people of God would carry on the legacy of Jesus after he was gone, they too would be ‘sent out into the world, even as the father sent me into the world’. He would entrust to them Divine realities and they would pass these truths along to those who the father ‘gave to them’ [Paul- I do all things for the elects sakes]. I want to encourage/challenge our leaders today- do you primarily see the people around you [whether church members or simple friendships in the kingdom] as people God has brought to you in order to help you achieve your mission? That is are they simply assets to ‘the ministry/church’? It’s easy to fall into these mindsets, and it’s not wrong to see God as bringing relationships into your life for the purpose of a great goal, but I think it would be better if we saw these things thru the mindset of Jesus; he knew that his life being poured out as a sacrifice would impact his followers in such a way that for generations to come the ‘words that the father gave to him’ would continue thru the lives of his friends. Don’t be too consumed with the material aspects of the here and now [facilities, finances, etc.] they will all pass away, but those that do the will of God will abide forever. (1382) IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD; AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD, AND THE WORD WAS GOD- John 1:1 Jesus is called ‘The Word’, the Greek word for ‘word’ is Logos. In the first century this word was common among the philosophers, it stood for a sort of overriding principle that would explain and bring together all the fields of science and learning, the same obsession of Einstein in his search for a unified theory. The philosophers believed that there had to be some type of base principle of truth that would bring together all the other fields of wisdom and learning. In essence John was saying ‘This is it, we have found the Logos- the answer to everything- his name is Jesus!’ It’s always difficult to teach these types of verses, they are fraught with only seeing one aspect of what God is saying, and then dividing lines are drawn between the Christian camps. I was having a conversation yesterday with a person who was asking questions about a Muslim friend who used to be a Christian. The Muslim said that he wanted a religion that he could understand, that God is the only God and Jesus is not God. I explained the best I could and shared this verse and a few others, but I also explained that various ‘Christian’ groups have argued over the way to express the deity of Jesus for centuries. There are groups that say ‘Yes, Jesus is the redeemer, he is Gods Son, but only God is God’. From the catholic bishop Arius in the 4th century all the way up to the Unitarians in Boston in the 20th century, people have debated the language we use. I explained to my friend that the bible clearly does teach us that Jesus is God, but I do see how people have problems with the language. But I told my friend that for a person to use the difficulty over the Trinity to embrace Islam is going way too far in my view. I mean the fact that someone has a problem with the wording of the Trinity should not mean you abandon all the realities of redemption and Christianity and embrace a movement that was started by a ‘prophet’ who killed and murdered and had ‘many women’, I mean no other prophets ever had a track record like that! As we read the rest of John chapter 1 we see how John the Baptist says he came to bear witness, to give a record of Jesus, the ‘Lamb of God’. The religious leaders come to John and ask him ‘who are you, we need an answer to bring back to the authorities, the movers and shakers of our day’ John says ‘I am the voice of one man crying in the wilderness, get ready, the lord is on his way’. John quoted Isaiah 40, he is also said to be the prophetic voice that Malachi spoke about- the Elijah that was to come. Johns only significance was in the fact that he was chosen by God to trumpet the reality of the Messiah, his purpose was not about him or his prophetic gifts, his purpose was to proclaim the last true prophet [in the sense of Hebrew messengers who came down the line- see Hebrews chapter 1] and John the Baptist said ‘this is the one, the one whom the Spirit descended on- he’s going to baptize you guys with the Spirit’ [and fire!]. John testified that Jesus was the end of the line for promised Messiahs, he was the ONE. Why look we for another? (1384) YOU’RE NO EINSTEIN! A few weeks back my wife was getting on me for looking like a homeless guy, she tells me ‘John, why don’t you cut your hair- at least brush it’ and I responded ‘Einstein let his hair grow out’- the response ‘your no Einstein’. Humility is one of those gifts that just keeps on giving. Okay, seriously I have become a little messy these last few years. I am feeling okay physically though I realize all things are not well. About a year [actually a few years] ago I noticed some physical signs that probably needed to be checked out, but I had just lost my health insurance and finally went on line and did the best with what I had. At the same time there were days where I would get off of work and barely be able to walk [back problems] and would go to the homeless mission to see the brothers and some of them are in there 20’s, doing much better than me, and yet they are on Social Security, getting medical stuff for free, and I couldn’t even get the darn VA clinic to check me out! [I was in the navy, and my wife also. Tried but failed to get approved for the clinic]. So I guess after a while you get frustrated. Okay, in John chapter 2 Jesus turns the water into wine. The governor of the wedding drinks it and says ‘wow, most people serve the best stuff first, and after everyone is feeling good- then he sets out the cheap stuff. But you have saved the best for last’. Of course we know this is a story that speaks about the New Covenant in Jesus Blood being better than the old, but the point I want to make is this governor testified about Jesus and he didn’t even know it. Later on after the leaders draw up their personal opinions of him, they will not give him the credit for ‘the good wine’ they will find all sorts of reasons to demean him, but those who simply got a taste of the wine said ‘wow, that’s some of the best ever’. Do you [I] have a tendency to reject the ‘wine’ because we have already pre judged the source? Have people ever approached you and said ‘hey, did you hear that brothers teaching, it’s really good’ and yet you felt offended because ‘that brother’ might have hit a nerve or 2 along the way. Jesus turned the water into wine, not just any wine, but some of the best stuff on the planet. Many wouldn’t access it because they were offended by his straight forward approach- they even said of John the Baptist that he had strange eating habits [locusts!] and looked a little shabby [camels hair wardrobe]. Don’t let the personal animosities keep you from the good wine, people are going to drink it whether you like it or not, might as well get in on it while there’s still some time left. (1385) JOHN 4- Jesus does the unthinkable, he travels thru a bad side of town- Samaria. If you read our Kings study you will remember the history of the region, by the time of Jesus day they were considered the ‘dogs’ of society. Now Jesus meets the woman at the well and they engage is this intriguing conversation, she brings up the debate over where the true place of worship should be- do we meet in the church building or the house? Ah, Jesus says ‘woman, the time is coming and it is even here now when the true worshippers of God will do it in spirit and truth’. It really wasn’t a matter of ‘where’. Okay, she gets into this religious discussion with this strange person in the middle of her busy day, she really doesn’t have time to get into the whole thing. But for some reason she’s drawn to this person, he seems to have insight that is rare for the day. Jesus tells her ‘if you knew who it was that you were talking to, you would have asked for water and I would have given you water that once a person drinks from they will never thirst again’. Okay, another one of those strange sayings, but she’s running out of time, she needs to finish her business at the well at get back to town. What the heck, she says ‘Okay, give me the water’ well, first we have to deal with a few things- remember I’m looking for sprit and truth, brutal honesty about your life and situation. This isn’t an encounter with some ‘wealth coach’ for heaven’s sake! Here we go ‘call your husband’ what? What a strange question to interject at this point-okay, she knows how to answer questions about her past in a way that makes it sound like everything is all right, when we all know it’s not. She says ‘I have no husband’ got ya now. Jesus tells her ‘you have spoken the truth’ the man your living with now is not your husband, and you have been divorced 5 times already, so yes, you ‘have no husband’. Okay, this is where the rubber meets the road, this is what Jesus was getting at when he told her that worship is not about ‘where’ but about truth and honesty when confronted by God. At this point many walk away and stay offended for life, but she was thirsty enough to allow the confrontation/offense to happen. ‘Well, I know that the Messiah is going to come some day, and when he comes he will tell us all things’! It was really a shot at Jesus ‘sure, you know SOME STUFF about me, but the real Messiah knows everything!’ Jesus says ‘I that speak unto you am he’. At that point the disciples returned with the food, they are shocked that Jesus is engaging this woman, they must be thinking ‘thank God the Pharisees aren’t here for this one’ I mean they were always looking for an excuse to discredit him. Well the woman goes back into town and tells all the other ‘mongrels’ about Jesus, he is invited to the town and spends 2 days and this truly is the first great ‘gentile/Samaritan’ outreach of the first century. In our day there is much debate about the how and way to ‘do church’ much of what is missing from the conversation is the ‘spirit and truth’ aspect. I have noticed that when a famous preacher falls into some public sin, that when they make the rounds [Larry King, etc.] there is much interest. People want to know that the things that they have struggled with are also things that we all deal with. The ‘spirit and truth’ aspect is often missing from our modern practice of Christianity. This woman allowed the confrontation to happen; it needed to happen for her to get to the next step where she would believe that Jesus was the Messiah. She truly found the water that she asked for. (1386) DROP THE BED [AND GIVE ME THE WINGS] - I was reading a news story about a Dominoes guy who was robbed; the brothers who robbed him found out he had no money on him, so one of them said ‘just give me the wings’, now that’s a brother that I could go easy on if I was on the jury. Recently I made a few comments on line dealing with the Emergent movement and stuff, all things I have written on before. Though I have been both critical and at times supportive of certain aspects of the movement, I felt some who also made comments were not leaving enough ‘room’ [grace] for the author of the book being critiqued. In John chapter 5 Jesus heals the guy at the pool of Bethesda and he tells him ‘take up your bed and walk’- take up my bed! That’s the reason I have not been able to get healed by making it into the water after the angel troubles the water, I mean if I could walk I wouldn’t be in this dilemma. The poor brother didn’t realize that he was talking straight to the source ‘forget about the angel thing, I am the Messiah man! Take up the bed now’ the man walks. Now that’s a real miracle, something that we could all be happy about, right? Not. The religious folk saw the man and their first response was ‘who in the heck told you to carry that darn bed on the Sabbath’? They immediately saw the perceived violation of their religious point of view, the bible says ‘they sought to kill him’. What! The same 10 commandments that speak about keeping the Sabbath has a little bit to say about killing people too. Sometimes we as believers [defenders of the faith] need to be able to look past the things we perceive as wrong- now there are times where we take a stand and say ‘enough is enough’ but there are also times where we need to ask ourselves if we are just looking for some guy carrying his bed- the person who seems to be violating one of our ideas. There is a difference between true rejecters of Jesus, and people who believe in Jesus but are coming at stuff from a different point of view. To shoot a pizza delivery boy in a robbery is a serious crime, to say ‘give me the wings’ I don’t know. (1387) FOR THE FATHER HAS LIFE IN HIMSELF, AND HAS GIVEN TO THE SON TO HAVE LIFE IN HIMSELF; AND HAS GIVEN HIM AUTHORITIY TO EXECUTE JUDGMENT ALSO- In John chapter 5 one of the statements that irks the religious leaders is Jesus calling God his father- thus making himself equal with God. Those who doubt the deity of Christ should look at the way the religious leaders viewed him, they knew that he claimed equality with God. In some of the recent musings on the liberal ideas of ‘the evolution of God’ [those who see the church evolving in her view of God as time goes by] I want to say a few things. First, the incarnation is Gods way of saying ‘yes, your view of me was limited, the very fact that the incarnation is the full revealing of myself to man, shows that man never had the complete [full] view of me yet’. So in a sense, yes, our view of God ‘evolved’ [so to speak] from the wrathful God of the Old Testament to the merciful God of the New Testament. Now, are these contrary views of God? No. Are they views like some in the early days of the church taught- that the God of the Old Testament was a different God than the God of the New [Marcion and other Gnostic cults]? No. But our view of God from the Old Testament is a view of Gods holiness and judgment apart from the grace of the New Covenant. He is the same God, seen absent the Cross [for the most part, yet we do see Gods attribute of mercy even in the Old Testament]. Now, without getting off track too much, in the New Testament we are told that Jesus is the complete picture of God to us; Colossians says that ALL the fullness of the God head dwelt in Jesus bodily. We never had this fleshly reality of God before- the apostle John will say ‘we handled the word of life’ [1st Jn]. A few weeks back while watching an apologetic show I mentioned how some of the staunch apologists were labeling the UPC [united Pentecostal churches] as a cult because of their unique view of the oneness of God. The apologists at one point quoted the verse ‘all things were made by him’ referring to Jesus, and said ‘therefore Jesus is God’ true. But they were trying to combat the UPC brothers by using this verse, the apologists were using it in a way that said ‘see, Jesus created everything too, just like it says about God’ sort of in a disconnected way. In John 1 we read that in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. In Genesis we read that God ‘spoke’ all things into existence. Jesus in the New Testament is called ‘the word of God’ to try and simplify it, when Colossians says ‘all things were made by him’ it does not mean that Jesus created things separately from God, it means God spoke and that ‘the vehicle’ of creation was the Son. The act of God’s word [also called Jesus] going forth created all things. God did not create separately from the Son, or the Son from the father. I really loathe teaching this stuff because church history is filled with names that get tagged on all the various views of explaining the oneness of God while at the same time upholding the reality of the Trinity. The main point today is mans view of God did ‘evolve’ in a sense, it became fully revealed in Jesus. Now the liberal view of the evolution of God is something different than this, but I wanted to make clear that if the only view of God is seen thru the Old Testament, than yes we are not ‘fully’ seeing God, the full view comes thru Jesus. We reject the Marcion idea of 2 different Gods, the Gnostic belief that the God of the Old Testament was the God of matter and thus an evil God, while the God of the new testament is the spirit God- this is true heresy, but as Christians we accept the incarnation as the complete picture and revelation of God to man. This in no way negates the wrath of God [eternal judgment] but it tempers it with mercy. (1388) 1, 2 MANY BISHOPS? In John chapter 6 Jesus is confronting the religious leaders, they are always appealing to some ancient hero of the faith [Moses, Abraham] and they are doing it in a way that violates the supremacy of Jesus. Jesus tells them ‘look, you guys are always appealing to the writings of Moses, if you really believed in the guy you would have also believed in me- he wrote about me!’ In ‘blog world’ there has been a scuffle over an overseas church that many have labeled as a cult. On the site ‘religion news blog’ they have been doing an expose’. The church is led by a man who calls himself a Bishop and one of his satellite churches had a Pastor walk out and split the church. The coverage of the ministry that I have read seems to place them in the prosperity/apostolic covering type movement. I have written on this before and have always felt that there were too many independent churches-ministries claiming ‘apostolic authority’ and these well intentioned people have crossed the line when it comes to the freedom of the individual believer's conscience. Many are famous for rebuking ‘the maverick spirit’ while at the same time they seem to be totally mavericks themselves! In the above case I think the religious site went too far in calling them a cult. I have read from this site in the past and they are run by fine Catholic Christians, but they are too quick to holler ‘cult’. I personally do not recommend these types of church movements, but avoid the cult label. I also read an article a while back written by a leader in one of the more historic churches, they were rebuking the rapid spread of these types of churches thru out the world. The leader said they were sprouting up like wild fire, all with their self proclaimed bishops, who were basically starting their own independent churches and everyone in the organization is ordaining everyone else as a bishop, the leader saw this as a major problem. What exactly does the bible teach about this? The words for ‘bishop, overseer and elder’ in the bible seem to speak of the same office. Though different Greek words are used, most scholars agree that they seem to be used interchangeably. One thing we know for sure is in the New Testament there were no Bishops in the sense of an ecclesiastical authority over a number of churches. This developed over time and my purpose here is not to get into the whys and how’s this happened, I am not ‘anti clergy’ in that I reject the modern role today [in the historic churches]. Does the bible have any office that does show an extra local authority? Yes, the apostle Paul had a very effective oversight ministry to most of the churches we read about in the New Testament. So the idea of a church planting ministry to have a number of ‘satellite churches’ is okay. The Catholic Church has Bishops in the Cathedral cities who oversee the entire region. I live In Corpus Christi; the cathedral for this south Texas region for the Catholics is located in my city. San Antonio has another region. While living in New Jersey, Saint Patrick’s was the Cathedral in N.Y. that covered the region. So you have different views and out workings of how bishops work. The thing I would warn about is when these bishops [the independent ones] seem to teach a strong type of ‘covering’ authority over people. Many of these movements [sometimes referred to as the shepherding, discipleship movement] teach a controlling type spirit that has the main apostle as the person that the community submits to, but it is done in a way that violates the freedom that we see in the New Testament. The religious folk of Jesus day were enamored with Moses, to the point where they were never fully able to move on to Jesus as being the true authority figure that they would submit to, I think we could all learn from their mistake. (1390) THE EXCLUSIVITY OF JESUS CHRIST- John chapter 8 begins with the woman caught in adultery, Jesus refuses to judge her but also tells her to go and sin no more. Then we launch into a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders. Basically they claim belief in God and tell Jesus that he is their father. Jesus replies that if they do not believe that he is the Messiah, then in reality they do not have God as their father- he flat out tells them that satan is the father of those who claim belief in God while not accepting and honoring the Son. This chapter is important for the pluralistic society we live in today. How should believers approach other faiths that claim belief in God, but do not accept Jesus as the Messiah? First, we should respect the various beliefs/religions of others people groups. Now when I say ‘respect’ I mean we should give people room to form their own beliefs while at the same time challenging them with the truth claims of Christianity. We should not leave the impression ‘well, we all believe in the same God, so what’s the difference whether or not you believe in Christ’ well frankly the difference is between heaven or hell! The point being Jesus is ‘exclusive’ in the sense that you can’t really have God as your father without having Jesus as your savior. He can’t just be ‘one of the prophets in a long line of prophets’ no, he alone is the God man! God became flesh and dwelt among us thru the Son, Jesus said if you don’t hear his words, believe that he is the one sent from the father, then you don’t have God as your father. Jesus is ‘inclusive’ in the sense that he even accepted the woman taken in adultery, something the so called ‘God believers’ would not do. The religious acceptance of belief in God, absent the reality of Jesus, treats women and others with disdain [wearing veils, etc.] those who ‘have God’ and the Son, are truly the liberators of society. The world might accuse the church of being arrogant and believing in exceptionalism, but in the end we have the only answer to the human sin problem, that which G.K. Chesterton called the only Christian doctrine that has 100% empirical evidence of being true! Truly Jesus is the answer to fallen man, let’s not be ashamed of that fact. (1391) NO MAS [SA]! Back in the 70’s us boxing fans were treated to one of those so called ‘super fights’ you know, a matchup between greats. Roberto Duran faced Sugar Ray Leonard. A few rounds into the fight Duran got so frustrated that he walked out of the ring while chanting ‘NO MAS’. Yesterday a Democratic congressman from N.Y. - by the name of Massa- resigned his seat and went on the war path against his own party. It seems like he has a history of making racy comments to other men, but his excuse for being rail roaded is that he voted against Obama Care. It’s quite sad, he is making the rounds [today he’ll be on Beck] and he’s describing all these encounters with the administrations men, he says they approached him in the showers at the gym, wearing nothing, and he describes Rahm Emanuel’s ‘tush’. He seems like he can’t escape language that pits him up against other men, while nude! All of this wouldn’t be so tragic if it weren’t happening to the most ethical congress in U.S. history! Plus, it really stains N.Y. politics, I bet Spitzer and Patterson can’t even sleep at night. Okay, in John chapter 9 Jesus heals a man that was blind from birth, the disciples ask him ‘who did sin, this man or his parents, that caused this man’s plight’? Jesus said neither, but this happened so the works of God could be manifested in him. This might be the most important verse in the chapter. This man and his family lived many years with the insinuation that they must have been children of a lesser God, sure their neighbors didn’t come right out and say it, but you could sure feel the underlying accusation. Now, the news makes it to the religious crowd and they find out he was healed on the Sabbath, a big no no, a real ‘No Mas’ moment. They question the man and his family, they can’t escape the fact that this is a real miracle, so they try and convince the man that he should thank God for the miracle, but this Jesus is not authentic. The more they question him, the more he becomes a vocal advocate for Jesus. Finally at one point the religious leaders get fed up and they say ‘who are you to teach us anything, YOU WERE ALL TOGETHER BORIN IN SIN!’ There it is, that underlying accusation that he always felt from the religious crowd- you know, the group who always had their act together, they prided themselves in their upper class status ‘thank God that I am not like this beggar’ type of thing. But now, at the moment of truth, they blurt it out ‘Look at you, your whole life has been a testimony of your utter worthlessness, sure we never said it openly, but we always felt that way’ so the truth came out. I had a good friend a few years ago, New York Tony, he was a homeless brother that came from my home turf, never knew him from the north, but ran into him while making the rounds. Tony was a good friend, hooked on Coke and Crack, but a hard worker and Army vet. Tony used to always question why he was like the way he was, he was adopted and he thought maybe his real mom passed something off to him- was he like this because of what he did, or what his parents did? In the religious world we often create mindsets that say to people ‘surely if you were right with God, these things wouldn’t have happened to you’ we often violate the mandate from James ‘Don’t despise the poor’. At the end of the chapter Jesus tells the man that he came into the world to make the blind see, and the ‘seers’ blind. The religious leaders would find no help until they got to the end of their rope, the point where they could say ‘No Mas’ to the road they were on, but instead they said to Jesus ‘No Mas’. (1392) CAN A DEVIL OPEN THE EYES OF THE BLIND? In John 10 Jesus defends his deity in sort of a strange way; he says ‘if those to whom the word of God came are called “gods” how much more shall it be said of him whom the father hath sent and sanctified, that he is called the Son of God’. Jesus is quoting Psalms 82, as far as I can tell this is the only attempt that Jesus makes to justify his deity thru scripture. He has said things like ‘before Abraham was, I AM’ and ‘how could David call the Messiah his Lord, if he is the Son of David’ all statements that speak of his deity, but this quote from Psalms 82 seems to be a direct reference to him claiming deity [Son ship] based on a verse that calls us ‘gods’. Over the years this verse has been used by certain camps to teach dominion theology, but I think they missed the point. The Psalm itself is a rebuttal to the religious leaders of Jesus day, it argues for the defense of the poor, the doing of justice- it is the ministry of Jesus in a nutshell, a strong reproof against those who refused to do justice and defend the poor and needy. I mean Jesus healed the crippled guy and all they could do was critique him for violating their view of the Sabbath. In this chapter they say ‘can a devil open the eyes of the blind’? Jesus purposely healed these people on the Sabbath, I mean there really were 6 other days to do these healings, why keep doing it on the Sabbath? I think he was sticking it in their faces, causing them to have to rethink their religious views. He was showing them the reality behind the law ‘the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’ the rebuke of psalms 82 ‘do justice and quit using the law as some religious measurement of class and status’. Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus didn’t heal every sick person he met- I know the bible says ‘he healed them all- he went around healing all who were oppressed of the devil’ but this does not mean every person on the planet. I mean at the pool of Bethesda he healed only one, I mean that pool was like a hospice, people who were ready to die were showing up for one last miracle, yet Jesus healed only one. But these outstanding cases were proofs that just wouldn’t go away. The religious leaders kept going back to those events in their minds ‘can a devil do this’? The father testified of the authenticity of the Son by doing these miracles, Jesus even says ‘look, if you don’t believe me because you think my doctrine and claims are wrong, then at least believe for the actual works that I’ve done’ no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t deny the reality of those few outstanding miracles-‘can a devil really do this’? No. (1393) POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY- in John chapter 11 Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. The news gets back to the religious leaders and they say ‘If this keeps going on, we will lose our influence with the people and the Roman authorities will come and take away our position’ and one of their own, the high priest Caiaphas, says ‘Don’t you guys understand that it is expedient that one should die for the nation, instead of the whole nation suffering’ and John says ‘this spake he by the Spirit, being he was the high priest he was prophesying of Jesus death’. Okay, did the brother realize what he was saying? I doubt it. But he was stating a political reality of the time, that this railroading of Jesus would play a cathartic role for the political times that they were in. I finally watched the interview with the disgraced congressman, Eric Massa. He went on Beck and the whole thing is really a fiasco. Beck was hoping to expose the hidden conspiracies of the administration, instead Massa confessed to tickling his navy bunkmates! The sad thing is, as I listened to Beck, he really believes in many of the conspiracy theories he espouses. It doesn’t help that the president, as well meaning and pluralistic as he is, puts people to work for him that have held fringe beliefs. This allows the Becks of the world to find these hidden treasures [UTUBE] and lo and behold, we have one of his people praising Mau Se Tung, or signing a 911 petition that claims Bush was in on it. What purpose do the Becks of the world [or to be fair, the MSNBC crowd] play? I see them as sort of a cathartic for the people who also hold to their views, it seems to be a necessary evil that allows people to vent, a sort of political necessity if you will. I saw Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Ted Kennedy, rebuking the media for their coverage of Massa, while at the same time they have forgotten about the seriousness of the war in Afghanistan and the money and cost of lives on both sides, he was mad and raging on the floor. Though I am not a fan of Kennedy, yet I believe he spoke much truth. I thinks its appalling that the media has dropped the ball on this, every so often a story or so will leak out, a bunch of accidental deaths that our govt. denies being involved with, then a month or so passes and a small report comes out ‘yes, we did accidently kill 40 people’ what? The media seems to not hold the current president accountable in these things. They play sides to the point where real atrocities are glossed over. How many more stories on Sarah Palin’s daughter will they do? They trodded out the ex boyfriend onto the main media outlets to share their dirty laundry. They gave a forum to a disgruntled kid who posed for playgirl, and they keep on doing this stuff. I mean this is the daughter of a ‘private’ citizen for heaven’s sake. How much coverage did they give to the ‘partner’ of Joe Biden’s daughter who made a sex tape with her? How often have you heard the story? How many stories on Chelsea Clintons sex life? MSNBC is just as bad as Beck when they do these things to a girl dealing with all the situations that life can throw at you, and yet from letterman to Chris Matthews to the major news outlets, they have all been guilty of this double standard. Caiaphas saw the writing on the wall, he wasn’t worried about the fact that what he was prophesying was that a corrupt system was going to railroad someone thru a kangaroo court and execute an innocent man, he was simply calculating the political balances of the day ‘will this help or hurt our cause’ type of a thing. They should have been more worried about losing their souls, then their seats in congress. (1394) THE TEXAS SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY? In John 12 the Greeks come to Jesus disciples and want a meeting with Jesus, the Greeks are those who prided themselves in their wisdom. Jesus basically brushes them off and refuses to cow tow to the elites. He responds ‘unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone’ in essence- you guys ‘abide alone’ [no meeting with me] until you take up the Cross and follow me. This week [yesterday] the news has been reporting the Texas school book story. Basically every few years Texas school board members go thru the process of what the books for the state should include; basic guidelines and stuff. Texas is the nation’s number one purchaser of textbooks, so the theory is if Texas ‘conservatives’ get their way, then the rest of the nation gets stuck having to buy books that are tainted with backwoods idiots who imposed their views on the rest of the ‘Greek’ [intellectual world]. Do our schoolbooks in general steer away from the religious history and statements of many of the founding fathers? Yes. Do our schoolbooks in general avoid/edit out religious statements from their coverage of the founding documents. Yes. Why? There is a basic mistake made by many of the publishers of schoolbooks that say ‘if we show religious content, then we are violating the separation of church and state idea’. The problem with this approach is they have left out a large portion of history while trying to produce a product that will be accepted in both ‘liberal’ and conservative states. If you read the founding documents in their entirety [Mayflower Compact, etc.] they read like a ‘church covenant’ that any Christian community could adopt. Yet when the history books show quotes and portions of the documents, they never quote these sections, why? Because of what I just showed you. This has happened time and time again over many years until we have gotten to the point where many public school children are really not learning an accurate history of the country. The well meaning [but grossly misinformed] opponents simply do not know this. They see the struggle as one between ‘those darn Christian ignoramuses’ versus the enlightened crowd, they are really the ones who have no idea what they are talking about. Now, are we- quote ‘a Christian nation’? Not really. At least not in the way that some Protestant preachers claim. During the founding of our country you had the mindset of the European enlightenment affecting much of western society. Lines were being drawn that pitted a humanist form of belief in God [Deism] against the classical Christian view. Some of our founding fathers did adhere to a Deistic view. Deism said ‘we do not need tradition or religion to inform us of human value and dignity, we can hold to these principles by virtue of our human nobility and intelligence’ that is they believed these truths to be self evident, sort of like the current theme from some of the more popular atheists ‘do good for goodness sake’ [which by the way, fails in the long run- too much to explain right now]. Now, with this background, when our founding documents say ‘we hold these truths to be SELF EVIDENT’ this term smacks of the fact that some of our fathers did indeed reject the classical Christian view. So what does this show us? That some of the founders purposefully included language that would veer away from the Christian view. But you will never understand or learn this simple thing that I just showed you, if we continue to expunge from the record all the religious statements and views of the fathers! So the point is, when these so called enlightened ones try and approach teaching from a biased view, a view that they often don’t realize is biased, they do more harm than good to their cause. The Greeks said ‘we are willing to hear Jesus, let’s set up an appointment’ they went further than most of the liberals on the Texas school board. (1395) GLTB community [might have left a letter out?] Last night I caught an interview on CNN with a transgender person. Tonight they will be doing a special on him called ‘my name was Stephen’ he has ‘transitioned’ and is now living as a woman. Then the next show [Anderson Cooper] interviewed Chas [former Chastity] Bono, the daughter of Sony and Cher who also is transgender. A few years ago I saw a documentary on a phenomenon where people had this compulsion, sometimes from as long as they can remember, to want to rid themselves of a limb. The interesting thing was many of these people came from various backgrounds and had no idea that others too grappled with ‘this feeling’. Eventually a community formed around them to affirm them and tell them there really is nothing wrong with them, after all many others have struggled with the same feelings from their youth, so it must be an identity thing. During the show they interviewed family members who dealt with the fact that many of their loved ones went thru with these desires and found ways to get their limbs amputated [freezing them to the point where the ER had no choice but to amputate the limb]. One person who finally gave in to ‘who he really was’ found out that after the first amputation, yes he felt a sense of relief, sort of like ‘well, I was told by many others that it was the answer to my problem, so I did it’ he was later interviewed and described how he eventually sought counseling and he now realizes that both his desires, and the good intentions of others who tried to affirm his desires, were actually very damaging. Others felt affirmed in their acceptance of his desires, but they really did not realize that their acceptance and encouraging was actually harmful. He said that after the first amputation, some time elapsed and he began having a desire to amputate another limb. He thanks God that a good counselor treated this disorder and he is happy he stopped at limb one. In the interview with the transgender person it showed how he went for many years without any inkling of wanting to go from man to woman, then one day he watched a show and they espoused this belief as the answer to some people’s problems. This idea stuck in his head and through the process of time he acted on it. His son and wife dealt with it the best they could, but it no doubt affected his entire life. They went thru the whole procedure of surgeries and hormone treatments and dealing with severe depression [and a high suicide rate] that many of these people deal with, and yet the whole flavor of the show was geared towards saying it was societies fault [church, morals] that has caused these people to feel unwanted. There was really no thought given to the possibility that these decisions, acting out on years of feelings, might in the long run solve nothing and actually lead to more problems. In so many words the psychologist who was also interviewed admitted that the depression rate is almost 100 % after the ‘transition’ is made. How should we as believers respond? In John 13 Jesus is with his men at the last supper, he takes a towel and begins to wash the disciples feet, Peter gets upset ‘No way Jesus, I won’t let you wash my feet’! Jesus says ‘Peter, if you don’t let me wash you, you have no part with me’. Then Peter says ‘fine, give me an entire bath’ and Jesus says he really only needs to admit that sometimes in life we need foot washings, not entire body makeovers! Some in the progressive church are trying honestly to deal with these issues by saying ‘they don’t need a foot washing, that’s the way God made them’ they are trying to be affirming towards people with struggles, but in the long run this affirmation will not work. Imagine trying that with the brother who kept ‘feeling’ that it was right to amputate his limbs! Jesus shows us that all people get defiled in life, whether a person’s struggle is with a sexual identity issue, or a heterosexual issue, we all have times where we need to go to Jesus for cleansing. It might very well be that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ will struggle and stumble in life with these things. We should help them ‘get clean’ even if it’s a life time struggle. But to espouse the idea of the world that says the answer is to affirm them in their sin, this is neither helpful to them nor the biblical thing to do. When the religious conservatives brought the woman in adultery to Jesus, Jesus received the woman; he accepted and did not reject her. He also told her to sin no more, he empowered her not by saying the lifestyle she was living was okay, but by telling her ‘yes, I love you, and this lifestyle you think is fulfilling you is not- you must let me wash you from it’. I know these issues are hot button issues, and I know many well meaning Christians are presently trying to work thru these issues, but the fact is many who have been told ‘to keep resisting this desire, to not give in to it is living a lie’, they are being misled. They are told year after year that to give in to whatever temptation they are facing would be the answer, this simply is not true. Many will eventfully find the same struggles all over again [remove another limb?] and finally realize that in life there are times when yes, our feet get dirty- we might fall and struggle for many years, but Jesus said you could still have a part with him, if you let him wash your feet- if you keep coming back, 70 times 7, he will keep working with you. The tragic thing is many of these precious people are told that this struggle, to keep trying to overcome, is not being open and honest, they are told this at times by the church. My brethren, we ought not to do these things. (1397) IN MY FATHERS HOUSE ARE MANY MANSIONS- Yesterday I read an article by an Arab believer who grew up in a Muslim country. He shared how over the years he has learned how to dialogue respectively with Muslims and how important it was to share the Christian faith with respect, I really liked the tone. Jesus said ‘I have other sheep which are not of this fold, I must gather them too’. In context he is telling Israel that he too will gather Gentiles into the kingdom. I also read a verse [?] the other day that spoke to me about leaving the door open when dialoging with various groups. One of things that has surprised me since I started blogging is the Arab brothers [Christians] who have contacted me over the years and have been excited about our site. Many of them are pastors and are really laying their lives on the line to bring the gospel to Muslims. I do realize that my stance on natural Israel as well as how the western world should treat Muslims/Arabs is part of the reason why fellow Arab believers have been drawn to our site. For the most part I believe the church should put the gospel of Jesus above all ethnic/political concerns- when preaching the gospel we need to avoid getting into geopolitical wars or wars in general! Many believers in Palestine who are Arab face persecution from fellow countrymen who are Muslim, as well as persecution from Israel. These believers generally do not get support from believers from the U.S., instead when American believers go over there to interact, we usually are there to support natural Israel and to see how well the future ‘temple’ plans are going, and stuff like that. The Arab believers feel neglected by this attitude, some have actually said ‘why don’t you care for us, don’t you understand that we have been persecuted at times by Israel’? They feel confused and rejected when they read in the bible how Christians should love and care for one another, and then they see western believers taking sides in natural conflicts. Jesus said his house had many rooms, the people of God [Gods house] are diverse and come from many varied backgrounds. I do not hold to the thinking that says ‘all religions are Gods children’ in a pluralistic sense of all monotheistic faiths have the same faith. But when dealing with other fellow believers in the world [whether Arab, Jewish, etc.] we should defend our brothers and sisters and side with them in times of conflict, by ‘siding with them’ I mean we need to speak out in support of them and call for justice and help when they are in trouble. I do not advocate ‘siding with people’ when talking about actual warfare- believers should not be in the business of siding with any conflict when it includes killing other people [the sides you take as a citizen of a country are a different matter, I am speaking here as a citizen of Gods kingdom]. I am grateful for all my Arab friends and pastors who have been in touch with me over these past few years, I pray for them regularly and have embraced them as sort of part of the fellowship of brothers that I regularly reach out to. I do realize that they also enjoy the level of teaching we do [not that we are that great, but we do share from a broad range of teaching that many individual pastors might not be able to access on their own]. I thank God that ‘his house’ has many mansions, that Jesus calls sheep from 'other folds’ that we might not be familiar with, let’s be open to those from other ethnic backgrounds that share the same faith in Jesus Christ- they are all our brothers and sisters in the Lord. (1398) REV. ZEKE- [pastor from India] Brother, I accidently deleted your email, if you are reading this, email me again and I’ll put your email on our global section. Okay, it’s a rare thing for me to take a ministry off of my blog roll. Once I put someone on our site I feel it would be irresponsible to drop them for any minor disagreement, or because they might hold differing views than my own. For the most part I add other web sites because I feel they add to the diverse conversation in the global church. Having said this, I recently deleted the site for Charisma Magazine. I originally put them on because I was blogging on their site and they eventually removed the blog section, but I felt it was okay to leave them on anyway. But after a period of time I just couldn’t keep endorsing ‘the level’ of stuff they teach- in all good conscience I hit the delete button. The other day I thought I’d give them a visit, on the main article page they had some sister sharing a vision and on the heading it said ‘I saw snakes wrapped around [something- I forget]’ and I just felt bad that a major Christian magazine would do stuff like this. In John 14 Jesus says he’s going away and will send ‘another comforter’ this word speaks about the Spirit coming, one just like Jesus. The disciples ask him how he will reveal himself to them, and not to the world. Jesus says if we keep his commandments and do his will, that the Spirit will manifest and come to us- but the world cannot see him and they will not benefit from his work. Though many Christians are divided over ‘Charismatic churches’ yet the need for the work of the Spirit is vital, I personally believe in the gifts of the Spirit and do not hold to a cessationist view. Over the years as I have read this chapter I have been inclined to see the promise of Jesus ‘going away and coming again to receive us’ as actually referring to the Spirits outpouring at Pentecost. This does not mean I reject a literal physical return of the Lord at the end of the age, but in context it seems that Jesus was telling the disciples that he would ‘come again and receive them’ in the sense that the Spirit would complete the ministry of Jesus by sealing them until the day of redemption [Ephesians]. Jesus said those who hear his word and do his will are promised the presence of the Spirit; truly God is no respecter of persons. There is a movement in the church today that appeals to the kingdom call of Jesus, versus trying to convince people of the truth claims of Christianity- to some degree I like this emphasis, it appeals to other religions in the sense that we are telling people ‘we are not here to change your culture [and make you accept ours] but we are here offering you the promise of Jesus, if you believe his words and do his will he will manifest himself to you’. There actually are some in the Muslim community who are claiming belief in Jesus [not just the ‘Jesus’ of the Koran] and yet still consider themselves cultural Muslims, this is certainly interesting. The point today is we need Gods Spirit desperately, though we have been guilty at times with confusing the work of the Spirit with people having visions of snakes! Yet we need the Spirit to work, Jesus said he would manifest himself to those who are keeping his word- a great promise indeed. (1400) IF I HADN’T DONE WHAT I HAVE DONE AMONG THEM, WORKS NO ONE HAS EVER DONE, THEY WOULDN’T BE TO BLAME. BUT THEY SAW THE GOD SIGNS AND HATED ANYWAY… THEY HATED ME FOR NO GOOD REASON- John 15, message bible. This is the chapter where Jesus tells us he is the vine and we are the branches; the father is the main gardener. If we remain-abide in him we will bring forth fruit, if we do not ‘remain in him’ we are cut off and burned. In Johns other writings [1st John] he speaks about those who did not remain in the doctrine of Christ, they went out ‘from us, but were really not with us’. John was speaking of the Gnostic/Docetist groups that would reject the incarnation of Jesus; these did not ‘remain in him’. Also what about the immediate circle of disciples that Jesus was speaking to, did any of them ‘not remain’? Judas would also reject Christ, and Jesus said he too was not really a part of them from the start. In the above quote Jesus challenges the religious leaders of the day by doing the works that he did. The religion of the day viewed God’s will as religious performance, public praying on the street corners, fasting ‘to be seen’, their mindset was one of public performance. Jesus put priority on doing acts of justice, reaching out to the poor, spending time with the down and out, and also rejecting the ‘crowd pleasing’ mentality of the day. In John’s gospel his brothers tell him ‘go up to the public feast and show thyself, no man who does these things secretly will not eventually go public’ they thought there was something strange about his unwillingness to ‘go public’. I have often found it strange that we as believers put such a high priority on ‘public meetings-ministry’ to the point where we really believe that this is the main part of Christianity. A few years back I visited/stayed with some brothers in Europe, they ran a Christian community where they all lived and helped each other out [addicts and stuff]. I spent about a week with them and it was great, I immediately saw the work as a legitimate expression of ‘local church’ [Ecclesia] I even defended them to others who were saying ‘they are not church’. During the week I spent with them, the main leader of the group was just beginning to rent another building so they could ‘do church’. I went to a few of the meetings and it was okay. The point being they kind of felt like the public meetings were ‘really church’ and the actual community was 'Para church’ a very limited view indeed. The same thing has happened with many well meaning churches/ministries thru out the years. Jesus put a priority on things that the religious crowd deemed ‘non legitimate’ they would ask him ‘where are you getting your authority from, who gave you this authority’? In today’s jargon it might be said ‘who’s covering are you under, what ‘local church’ has legitimized you’. We often err, not knowing the scriptures or the power of God. Jesus put such a high priority on social justice, reaching out to the poor and needy, speaking out for the widow and oppressed. This same theme runs thru out the entire teaching of the New Testament. Very little time is spent on the idea of public meetings/ministry. Yet we have exalted the idea of church and ministry to the point where we see public performance as the main thing, that’s what we usually regulate our lives around. Jesus told the religious crowd that he came and did all the things that Gods kingdom was really about [helped the poor, raised the dead, etc.] Yet they found fault with him, they fulfilled the scriptures that said ‘they hated me for no good reason’ do the things we do have good reasons, or are we just following the crowd? (1401) GLENN BECK- Okay, this past week Beck stirred up a controversy by telling people that if their churches use language like ‘social justice’ that you should leave the church. Beck showed how many of the liberal movements of the past, both inside and outside the church, used this language and also were socialist. Is Beck right to warn people about this? 50-50. In reality most Christian churches [if not all] have some belief about social justice, that is doing good, being charitable, etc. You also have strains of theology that touch on these issues [liberation theology, Rev. Wrights church, etc.] these see the role of the church in setting up systems that would mediate ‘social justice’ programs thru the state- not all Christians accept this premise. Overall we as believers should value social justice very highly on the scale of Christian service and belief. Beck seems to mean well, but the poor brother seems to be a little unhinged at times [like between 4 pm and 5pm every day or so]. In John 16 Jesus tells his men ‘a time is coming when those who kill you will think they are serving God’. Here in is a strange thing; out of all the commands of God, one of the most important ones is not to kill. But Jesus says that men are so susceptible to the influence of the world that they can even be convinced that killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’. Now, if I were to tell you at a young age ‘little Johnny, you will walk the planet for a few short years [70-80?] one of the most important things you need to avoid, more than anything else, is don’t kill other people’ got it- I mean how hard can this be? Yet Jesus says there will come a time when people think killing other people is ‘doing God’s will’ Huh? Okay as the year’s role by people all over the world are born and have been taught some version of this natural law, often given by their own belief system in God. So you have those in Islamic countries who eventually are shaped by their nations political causes and a time comes when they blowup other adherents to their own religion and shout ‘God is great’ as they kill themselves and others with them, they think they are doing ‘God service’. But you also have little Johnny growing up in the western world, he attends church as a boy, is taught lessons from the bible, and thru process of time joins the military. He is a good man, means well, and is taught that God and country go together. He even remembers attending some patriotic religious rallies over the years. He gets sent off to Afghanistan and winds up killing a woman with child. He either mistook her for an enemy combatant, or maybe she violated a safe zone. Either way, the one main command above all other commands, the thing that you were always told was the main thing to never do, you wind up doing. You even think that it is your patriotic duty to do this, yes you think the doing of this act is not only acceptable, but in a way it is ‘doing God service’. Now, as an ex Navy person, I support and believe in our military men and women, and in no way equate the act of a terrorist with that of our people; but what I am trying to show you is that as we go through life we can become effected by ideologies that are in conflict to our base principles, we can even do things that violate our most fundamental ideals, and be convinced that doing it is from God. When dealing with all types of social justice issues, we need to put Gods will first and foremost, above all other things. The message of Gods kingdom often runs contrary to the nations and governmental systems we espouse. When we confuse the two [whether the Christian patriot who chooses a career that may involve killing people] or the radical Muslim who confuses Gods will with the advancing of his political ideas, we need to re-evaluate our motives and think things thru before we embrace any world kingdom over Gods kingdom. Beck obviously had a point about the radical liberation theologians and their mixing of liberal politics with ‘church’, but Gods kingdom is all about social justice. Isaiah prophesied of the Spirit coming upon Jesus- to carry out social justice! (1402) THIS IS WHAT I WANT YOU TO DO, ASK THE FATHER FOR WHATEVER IS IN KEEPING WITH THE THINGS I’VE REVEALED TO YOU; ASK IN MY NAME AND ACCORDING TO MY WILL AND HE WILL GIVE IT TO YOU. YOU’RE JOY WILL BE LIKE A RIVER OVERFLOWING IT’S BANKS- Jesus, message bible. In John 16 Jesus says the father will show us the things of the Son ‘all that the father has is mine, and he will take of mine and show it unto you’. I have been doing a little teaching on the nature of the church and how we as believers are affected by the way we ‘see church’. For instance in the bible the terms ‘where do you attend church’ ‘I am looking for a church to join’ ‘the tithe belongs to the local church’ all of these modern ways of viewing church are really not found in scripture. In the bible the gospel of the kingdom is proclaimed, those in the local communities who believed were baptized and became openly identified with the Jesus movement. From that time forward these communities of believers would be referred to as ‘the church’- they were not looking for a church to join, choosing between a buffet of ‘meeting places’ in their respective locals, no, they were actually referred to as the church! Of course it’s fine for believers to meet in buildings and give money to ‘the church’ and all the contemporary things we usually associate with church, but a part of the ministry of the Spirit is he takes what is Jesus’ and shows it unto us; he reveals the nature of the church to us [the church being the Body of Christ, his Body]. Recently I did some blogging at a Christianity Today article on Scot McKnight’s critique of Brain McLaren’s latest book. I Like Scot and have read McLaren. One of the critiques of Brian by Scot [of a previous book] Is Scot felt like McLaren left out Ecclesiology while talking Kingdom. While I do not defend Brian’s works [too much rejection of orthodoxy] yet in this area I think Scot may be confusing contemporary ideas of church [ecclesiology] with the idea of church in scripture. For instance, many theologians teach that Jesus really had no ‘ecclesiology’ in his teaching [or very little] and that Jesus preached a Kingdom message that was different than the church, I think this idea is wrong/limited. It is in the preaching of the reality of the kingdom of God, and the people of God actually doing kingdom works, it is in this atmosphere that true church occurs; people are begin called out of the world unto Christ and these people are becoming the church. It’s really a matter of fully grasping the nature of the kingdom alongside the reality of what church means in the bible. Now, I think modern expressions of church are okay. Much of my criticism of modern church has a lot to do with losing the real message of Jesus in the bible and having replaced it with a modern success gospel, but there are some mega church expressions that are utilizing all the modern means of communicating while at the same time holding true to biblical teaching. Mark Driscoll pastors Mars Hill church in Seattle, Mark teaches historic reformed theology in a contemporary setting. So the reality of the church being much more than we usually understand, does not mean that every modern expression of meeting in huge buildings should be condemned. The point today is Jesus wants to reveal to us much more than we have seen up until this part of the journey. When we ‘see more’ it usually brings with it adjustments and changes that at times can be difficult; I want to encourage all of our Pastor/Leaders to be open to the ministry of the Spirit in the area of him revealing to us the nature of the church, there are many learned men [Kluck, McKnight, Galli, etc.] who I think are not fully seeing what the more mature Organic church movement is really saying, we also need to be careful not to write off the historic church in one fell swoop- both of these extremes do not help the church in the long run. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5?ref=bookmarks https://ccoutreach87.wordpress.com/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZ4GsqTEVWRm0HxQTLsifvg https://twitter.com/ccoutreach87 https://plus.google.com/108013627259688810902/posts https://vimeo.com/user37400385 https://www.pinterest.com/ccoutreach87/ https://www.linkedin.com/home?trk=hb_logo http://johnchiarello.tumblr.com/ http://johnchiarello.thoughts.com/ Note- Please do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. I deal with issues at times that it would be beneficial for some of you to download and save the file from the Word Press link. This creates a permanent record. The on-line videos are only good if sites are not hacked- which has happened in the past. Thanks- John.#

James

JAMES-2015-VIDEO LINKS INCLUDED JAMES 1 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/5-28-15-james-intro-chapter-1.zip Try and watch this video- I cover lots of stuff that place this letter in context for this study. [ Read acts 10,11,15, Galatians 1-2] Intro- This letter was written by James- the brother of Jesus. He was one of the main church leaders at the church in Jerusalem- we read about him in Acts chapter 15. This [Acts 15] was the first church council in the history of Christianity. I already taught the book of Romans written by the apostle Paul. And as we read the New Testament in context- we can see the reason why James penned this letter- and addressed it to Jewish believers. Paul was the most influential missionary in the early church- he established most of the gentile churches we read about in the bible [Rome being the exception]. He also wrote most of the letters that make up our New Testament. His main teaching was Justification by faith. There was a division we read about in the bible- between some of the Jewish believers at Jerusalem- and the churches Paul was planting [the church council mentioned above- was convened over this issue]. This division was based on the teaching of Paul- and some Jewish believers in Jerusalem accused Paul of rejecting the Mosaic Law. Paul defended himself in the letters of the New Testament [Romans/Galatians] and even talks about his visits to the leaders at the church in Jerusalem. Now- in this context- it seems fitting for James- the main church leader of the Jewish brothers- to ‘set the record straight’. And to write his own letter- showing the importance of GOOD WORKS- and even saying ‘see how a man is justified/saved by works- and not by faith alone’. The higher critics of Christianity [who you have heard me talk about in recent videos] will teach that James and Paul ‘taught different theologies’. I do not agree with them. But- our bibles are an early collection of the Real Time things that were taking place in the early church. At the time these men were writing these letters- they were not writing them as a complete canon [book] - but were writing them as you or I would write a letter to another person. In the wisdom of God- I think it is possible for these men to have seen different aspects of the manifold wisdom of God- and maybe they were not fully seeing the other writer’s point of view. To me- this would not be a criticism of the canon of scripture- but it would show us that God used these men- thru their experiences- and yes- even disagreements- to write the letters that make up our bibles- And in time- they would indeed become the official teaching of the church- Embracing a broad range of Divine Revelation- that in the end- does NOT CONTRADICT itself- but instead makes a complete work- which we call the bible. This letter is short- and packed with short verses of great wisdom. It is the only New Testament letter that falls into the category of Wisdom Literature- Meaning a particular genre’ of writing- like Proverbs in the Old Testament. Because of this- I am going to post each chapter of the letter during this teaching- for those of you who have never read the bible all the way thru- I want to challenge you to read these short chapters over the next few weeks. I will comment and add historical stuff in this teaching- like I did in the other recent studies. But most of all- read each chapter for yourself- ask God to give you wisdom- and apply the instruction of this letter to your life. It is a very practical- straight forward teaching that comes to us from the brother of Jesus himself. As I have been commenting on the other writings that did not make it into our bibles- like the Gnostic gospels- One of the reasons these extra biblical writings have so much appeal- Is because they claim to have other teachings- from/about Jesus- that are not in the bible. For those of us who reject these other writings- as canon- The letter of James kind of fills the void of ‘we want to know more about what Jesus taught’. This would be the letter to read- because James grew up with Jesus- in the same home. He was the oldest sibling of the Holy Family- And he was not a follower of Jesus until after the resurrection of Christ. He was one of the witnesses Jesus appeared to after his resurrection [Paul told us this in Corinthians]. So- if anyone has any ‘secret insight’ into the other stuff Jesus taught- it would be James. END NOTES- ACTS 10,11,15. GALATIANS 1,2. James 1- James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; James 1:3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. James 1:4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. James 1:6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. James 1:7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. James 1:8 A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: James 1:10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. James 1:11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. James 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: James 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. James 1:15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:16 Do not err, my beloved brethren. James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. James 1:18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: James 1:20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. James 1:22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. James 1:23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: James 1:24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. James 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. James 1:27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. END NOTES- ACTS 10,11,15. GALATIANS 1,2. Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, Acts 10:2 A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. Acts 10:3 He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. Acts 10:4 And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. Acts 10:5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: Acts 10:6 He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. Acts 10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; Acts 10:8 And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. Acts 10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: Acts 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, Acts 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Acts 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. Acts 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. Acts 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. Acts 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. Acts 10:16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. Acts 10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, Acts 10:18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. Acts 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. Acts 10:20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. Acts 10:21 Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? Acts 10:22 And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee. Acts 10:23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. Acts 10:24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends. Acts 10:25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. Acts 10:26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. Acts 10:27 And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. Acts 10:28 And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. Acts 10:29 Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? Acts 10:30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, Acts 10:31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. Acts 10:32 Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. Acts 10:33 Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God. Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: Acts 10:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. Acts 10:36 The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) Acts 10:37 That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; Acts 10:38 How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Acts 10:39 And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Acts 10:40 Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; Acts 10:41 Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. Acts 10:45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, Acts 10:47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? Acts 10:48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days. Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. Acts 11:2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, Acts 11:3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. Acts 11:4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, Acts 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: Acts 11:6 Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. Acts 11:7 And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. Acts 11:8 But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. Acts 11:9 But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. Acts 11:10 And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. Acts 11:11 And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. Acts 11:12 And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: Acts 11:13 And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; Acts 11:14 Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Acts 11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Acts 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? Acts 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life. Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. Acts 15:2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. Acts 15:3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. Acts 15:4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. Acts 15:5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. Acts 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. Acts 15:7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. Acts 15:8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; Acts 15:9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Acts 15:10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Acts 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. Acts 15:13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Acts 15:14 Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. Acts 15:15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, Acts 15:16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: Acts 15:17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Acts 15:18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Acts 15:19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: Acts 15:20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. Acts 15:21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Acts 15:22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren: Acts 15:23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. Acts 15:24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: Acts 15:25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Acts 15:26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Acts 15:27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. Acts 15:28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; Acts 15:29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. Acts 15:30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Acts 15:31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. Galatians 1:1 Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;) Galatians 1:2 And all the brethren which are with me, unto the churches of Galatia: Galatians 1:3 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: Galatians 1:5 To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Galatians 1:7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. Galatians 1:10 For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Galatians 1:11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. Galatians 1:12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:13 For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: Galatians 1:14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. Galatians 1:15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, Galatians 1:16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Galatians 1:17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Galatians 1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. Galatians 1:19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. Galatians 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. Galatians 1:21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; Galatians 1:22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: Galatians 1:23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. Galatians 1:24 And they glorified God in me. Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. Galatians 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. Galatians 2:3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: Galatians 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: Galatians 2:5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. Galatians 2:6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: Galatians 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; Galatians 2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. Galatians 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. Galatians 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? Galatians 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. Galatians 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. Galatians 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. JAMES 2- https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/5-29-15-james-2.zip END NOTES Genesis 15, 22. Romans 4. Galatians 3. My view on Justification by Works. James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. James 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; James 2:3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: James 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? James 2:7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? James 2:8 If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: James 2:9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. James 2:10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. James 2:12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. James 2:13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. James 2:14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? James 2:15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, James 2:16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? James 2:17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. James 2:18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. James 2:20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. END NOTES Genesis 15, 22. Romans 4. Galatians 3. My view on Justification by Works. Genesis 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward. Genesis 15:2 And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus? Genesis 15:3 And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. Genesis 15:4 And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. Genesis 15:5 And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. Genesis 15:6 And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. Genesis 22:3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. Genesis 22:6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. Genesis 22:7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. Genesis 22:9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. Genesis 22:10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. Genesis 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? Galatians 3:2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Galatians 3:4 Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain. Galatians 3:5 He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Galatians 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Galatians 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Galatians 3:13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: Galatians 3:14 That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. MY VIEW ON JUSTIFICATION BY WORKS- Understand that the letters of Paul were circulating among the early believers- and without a doubt his writings were the most influential in the early church. Both critics of Paul- as well as other believers [including Peter] were reading his stuff. Now- seeing the controversy that was taking place- especially that the people Paul was writing against- these were believing Jews- under the ministry of James [he was the leader at the church of Jerusalem- where the Judiazers worshipped]. With this in mind- knowing how Paul was using the story of Abraham [quoted above- Romans and Galatians] to teach Justification by Faith. When James finally enters the fray with his own letter- to the Jewish believers. And reading James saying ‘do you not see how Abraham was JUSTIFIED BY WORKS when he offered his son on the altar’! It’s in a way a strong rebuke- not of the reality of what Paul taught- per se- but of the confusion going on between the Jewish believers and the gentile ones. In the first 2 chapters of Galatians- which I posted last- We see Paul rebuking Peter- and saying ‘when some came- FROM JAMES- Peter stopped eating with the gentiles’. These guys are not teaching different theologies [Paul and James]- But it’s easy to see that James is making a bold statement- and setting the record straight [for those who were misreading Paul]. Because he uses the same person- Father Abraham- to teach Justification by works. Now- Many attempts have been made to harmonize James’ statement ‘see how a man is JUSITFIED BY WORKS’ and Paul ‘A man is justified by faith- not works’. These attempts are noble and have a degree of truth to them. But when they are done trying to reconcile these verses- they say ‘works does not justify- only faith’. The problem with that explanation is the actual verse says ‘see how a man is justified by works’. I think the best way to explain it is like this- Paul uses- primarily- the example from Genesis 15- when Abraham simply believed God- and God declared him righteous. James uses the example from Genesis 22- many years after Abraham was ‘initially justified’ by faith. And James says when Abraham obeyed- did a work of obedience- God then ‘justified him’. James says ‘see how the scripture was fulfilled- which said he believed God and was justified’ [Genesis 15]. You can say the actual obedient deeds we do- after the initial act of Justification by faith- can be looked upon as works being produced in the believer- as a result of the initial justification by faith. Now- I’m not saying ‘we get saved by faith- then sanctified by works’. Paul refuted this in Galatians 3. But- James is indeed saying this act of obedience- in Genesis 22- is the fulfillment of the act of believing- in Genesis 15. And he does describe this as being JUSTIFIED BY WORKS. The terms ‘Justification- Salvation- Born of God’. All these words are both static [they describe one time events- like the initial salvation of a believer]. And fluent- they also describe the progressive Acts of God thru out the life of the believer. So- in short- When God looks down from heaven- and sees us doing a just act- he can say ‘good job- I’m pleased with you’. And James simply applies the term ‘Justification’ to this response of God. It’s the same term [in the Greek] that Paul uses when speaking about the initial act of justification upon belief. But it’s the context that shows us the difference. James is not saying that Abraham was not justified by faith in Genesis 15- but he is saying that he ‘too’ was declared just- by God- when he did the work of obedience in offering up his son. And this work- in the bible- is called ‘justification by works’. The language is in there- and James also uses it to describe Rahab receiving the spies with peace. So- instead of rejecting the letter of James- like the Reformer Martin Luther did in a way when he called it ‘an epistle of straw’. We simply need to see that the debate revolves around the use of language- When James says Abraham- and Rahab- were justified by works- he is simply saying that God was pleased with the acts they did [by faith mind you- Hebrews 11]. And when he saw them do these acts of obedience- he ‘justified them’- meaning- he said ‘you are righteous- you are doing a right act- I still continue to make decrees of acceptance over you- many years after I made the initial decree- when you first believed’- See? NOTE- Remember a few things- James actually uses the phrase ‘justified by works’. Over the years I have read many good scholars try and explain this verse- and some of their ideas have merit- like ‘James is saying the faith that saves is a real faith’. All of these things are true- and James even says that in this chapter. Problem? These explanations are referring to the initial act of justification- like saying ‘when Abraham believed God [Genesis 15] he had real/ working faith’. Ok- I get it. But- these explanations – in the end- still leave the ‘justified by works’ verse without a clear understanding. In these other explanations [by Protestants] they are ‘stuck’ on the initial act of justification- and are unable to see that this term- like salvation- and righteousness- can- and does speak not only to the initial ‘getting saved’ but also speaks about things that we do- and ways God responds to those things- thru out our lives. And God himself is not ‘limited’ to the ‘original Greek’- meaning if he wants to declare us righteous- or just- all thru out our lives- yes- even when we ‘do right things’ he can! After all- he is God. TAKE A SECOND LOOK AT THE ACTUAL WORDS- James 2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? James 2:22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. James 2:24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. James 2:25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. Romans 4:1 What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? Romans 4:2 For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. Romans 4:3 For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Romans 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. Galatians 3:6 Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Galatians 3:7 Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. Galatians 3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. Galatians 3:9 So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. Galatians 3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. Galatians 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Galatians 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Note- It’s important to understand when Paul says ‘the works of the law do not save’- He is not saying we can break the 10 commandments- live a sinful life- and still be saved. The works of the law entail circumcision- and coming under the Old Covenant. This was the big debate we read about in these chapters I have been posting. You’ll notice that James himself- at the Jerusalem council- agreed that the gentiles did not need to ‘become Jews’- that is- to convert into Judaism to become saved. So part of the problem is we read Paul say ‘you are not saved by works’- and we tend to associate that with ‘all good works’. Then we read James say ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not faith only’. And this too [not understanding Paul’s full meaning of ‘works/law’] adds to the confusion. NOTE- If you carefully read the letters of Paul- even some of the above quotes- you will see that he also taught a ‘justification’ - that was sort of an ongoing process. The words ‘salvation- righteousness- justification’ are also used by Paul to describe things God is doing in us- in a progressive way. It’s funny- but when you come across these verses- and read the various study notes in good reference bibles- you see a sort of preoccupation in trying- at times- to make them fit the reductionist idea that focuses too much on the initial conversion experience- to the point where believers [yes- even scholars who wrote the notes!] try to make the verses that show a sort of progressive salvation- they try to ‘explain’ them away. In scripture- justification is God’s declaration over us- ‘not guilty’- that does indeed take place when we believe in Jesus. But it is also a progressive work [often called sanctification- but not limited to this word]. So- when we read Paul saying ‘while we seek to be justified’. Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. Or- Philipians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Philipians 3:8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, Philipians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: We tend to want to make these verses fit the one time act of justification that took place upon belief [initial conversion- yes this word too is fluent!] So- some of the problems with interpreting these verses are actually a language problem [down the road I will discuss the philosophy of Gilbert Ryle- an Ordinary language philosopher from the 20th century- he thought the whole field of philosophy and the debates were simply a problem of language! I don’t agree with him by the way]. Note verse 13- Paul said this in the letter to the Romans. Here he is talking about a future justification that comes to those who DO THE LAW- see- he and James agree. Romans 2:12 For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; Romans 2:13 (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law SHALL BE JUSTIFIED. Romans 2:14 For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Romans 2:15 Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) By the way- did you notice the view of James about money? How he speaks about the poor and the rich? I did not comment on all the good verses in this chapter- I want you guys to simply read thru the chapter- it’s really self-explanatory. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com facebook.com/john.chiarello.5 ccoutreach87.wordpress.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John..# JAMES 3-5 [I’ll be in New Jersey June 19th-21- with my daughters- won’t have enough time to see my friends on this trip- but I’ll be back after that- see you then. Flying in on the 19th- out on the 21st- only have one day in town]. https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/james-3-5-cut-short-on-the-boat.zip James 3:1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation. James 3:2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body. James 3:3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body. James 3:4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. James 3:5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! James 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. James 3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: James 3:8 But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. James 3:9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. James 3:10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be. James 3:11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter? James 3:12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh. James 3:13 Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. James 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. James 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. James 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. James 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. James 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. NOTES- In the tradition of wisdom literature [Proverbs- etc.] James gives practical advice about what we say. Proverbs says wise men spare their words- fools don’t. James tells us not to seek after a big audience- or any for that matter. Teachers will give an account- they hold special responsibility for what they teach. James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts. James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. James 4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. James 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. James 4:12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another? James 4:13 Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: James 4:14 Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. James 4:15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. James 4:16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil. James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. NOTES- War is never a noble thing- it comes from the heart of sinful men. Life is short- like smoke- it’s here for a short time- then gone. The Christian life is one of discipline ‘resist the devil- draw near to God’. James 5:1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. James 5:2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. James 5:3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. James 5:4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. James 5:5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. James 5:6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. James 5:7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. James 5:8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. James 5:9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. James 5:11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. James 5:12 But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. James 5:13 Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms. James 5:14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: James 5:15 And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. James 5:16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. James 5:17 Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. James 5:18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit. James 5:19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; James 5:20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins. NOTES- Last night I read Luke 6- Jesus says- ‘Luke 6:20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Luke 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Luke 6:25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Luke 6:47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: Luke 6:49 But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. I mentioned earlier in this study that James was the brother of Jesus- and that the letter of James is the only New Testament book that fits the category of wisdom Literature- besides the teachings of Jesus in the gospels- The Sermon on the Mount/ beatitudes. Look at the similarity of James and Jesus- James rebuked the rich- said if we hear the Word- but don’t do it- we are in trouble. James said to not judge- to show no partiality- All of these teachings are short- pithy- and get straight to the point. We live in a day where much of the popular preaching is very ‘flashy’- we desire great audiences- for people to sit- and hear. Many see this act- ‘going to church- and hearing’ as their main responsibility as Christians. Yet the bible puts a huge emphasis on being ‘doer’s’- seeking justice in society- James warned the upper class- Jesus too. They said ‘woe to you that have it all- that hold the seats of power- and yet take no thought of the plight of the suffering and afflicted- your day is coming!’ We read this theme all thru out the Prophets of the Old Testament- We see it in the life of John the Baptist- And we read it in the prophetic praise of Mary- Jesus Mom! Luke 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, Luke 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Luke 1:48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Luke 1:49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. Luke 1:51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. Luke 1:52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. Luke 1:53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. Affliction- difficulty- these are ways God forms our character- not things to be ‘rebuked’. Pray during times of testing- Pray for one another- God heals us. Have you been treated unjustly? Don’t hold a grudge- Know that God is a just God- He sees- Confess your mistakes- faults- to each other- don’t live a hidden life of sin. If people are straying from truth- and you recognize it- then help them see this. Proverbs says the wounds of a friend are better than false flattery. END NOTES- As we go thru the letters of the New Testament- I want you to follow the underlying theme about riches/money- how both leaders in the church as well as church members are to view the ‘wealth of this world’. Over the years- I have heard/seen many of the verses- even from this letter [chapter 1 ‘Don’t be double minded- don’t listen to people who are against a wealth building mindset- or you won’t get your harvest of money’] and use them to focus believers on the actual thing the verses teach against. When we read the bible- it’s important to understand that even though we believe the bible is the Word of God- ‘Every Word is True’- yet- it’s the ‘Word of God’- in context. So- if we read warnings against riches [like in this letter] you don’t take those actual warnings- out of context- and then teach the opposite. I didn’t comment much on these last 3 chapters- because I wanted you to simply read them. We can stay balanced as Christians if we regularly read thru the bible. In chapter one James said if we lack wisdom- we should ask God- and he will give us wisdom. James is a very practical book- and in ways [like the way you saw me teach chapter 2] it can lead to unity in the church. I encourage you guys to copy these studies- download the videos from my WordPress site- use these things for yourself- and those who you teach. I re posted these verses below- just to remind us- get ‘the feel’ of the letter again. James was one of the main church leaders at the church of Jerusalem- there were a lot of poor saints residing in this city. In today’s popular Christianity you could accuse James of ‘preaching a poverty gospel’. I mean look at what he was teaching! Yet- this book of the bible is part of the canon of scripture- meaning we should form our views about God and our role as believers- from the bible- not from the popular writings of our day- no matter how well meaning- or ‘attractive’ they are. James 1:9 Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted. James 1:10 But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. James 1:11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. James 2:2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; James 2:3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: James 2:4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? James 2:6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? James 5:1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. James 5:2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. James 5:3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. James 5:4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. James 5:5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. James 5:6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com facebook.com/john.chiarello.5 ccoutreach87.wordpress.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John..#

Islam [not negative]

ISLAM [incomplete study- not negative] [1625 WE ARE IN- As you know the U.S. and our allies have begun enforcing the ‘no fly zone’- in actuality the stated mission is more than a no fly zone, it’s a mission that is too open ended- basically it says we can do anything we need to do to protect the civilian population of Libya- geez- too broad. Now- is this the same type of resolution that Bush had for his 2 wars? No- president Obama has NO resolution from the congress- nada. He’s operating under U.N. and Arab league language- kind of a problem- don’t you think? I heard a major news person say Obama is operating the same way Bush did- without congressional approval. The news broadcaster explained that Bush did not go to congress for Afghanistan or Iraq. Actually Bush went to congress in 2001 for Afghanistan- and 2002 for Iraq. Though the internal debate [now made public] was that the president did not need to go to congress- yet they did anyway. Those defending Obama’s recent action say ‘yeah- but Clinton didn’t get congressional approval for Kosovo- Serbia’ true. Either way- we are there now. If you go back and read my posts on Libya- I was not a hawk on the matter- someone who advocated U.S. military action. But I felt some of the statements from the president [Gadhafi must go] kinda put us on the hook to do something. Though the defense secretary did not want to engage in another Muslim country [not Arab!] yet it seems as if the secretary of state changed her view and Obama decided for limited action. The U.S. will do the early work- and do a quick hand off to France [Britain]. The problem is we never seem to be able to do the darn handoffs! So let’s pray and try and do our best. As I mentioned above- the media often simply report stuff wrong. It does not help that most of us hold a view of that part of the world thru what we see/hear in the media- a media that gets stuff wrong [not just Fox]. The majority of Arab people are indeed Muslim- but that makes up only 20 % of the entire Muslim world. The most populous Muslim states range from North Africa to Southeast Asia- Islam is the world’s fastest growing religion- and the world’s 2nd largest [around 1.2 billion followers]. Islam also holds huge minority followings in the Western world [Europe and the U.S.]. Most Americans associate Islam with radical Islam- though most of today’s terrorists have come from the radical sect of Islam- all Muslims are not radicals. There is an internal debate in Islam on how to deal with modernity- some scholars teach that true Islam is Patriarchal in nature and the role of women is subordinate. These hold to the idea that a true Islamic adherent seeks for a true Islamic state- ruled by Sharia law. Others believe in a type of separation of Mosque and state- they hold to the view that Islam’s survival depends on its ability to ‘liberalize’ and adjust- like Christianity has done thru the centuries [most Christians are not seeking a theocratic state- though at one time the world was literally governed by the church]. Islam was founded in the 7th century under the prophet Muhammad, and within a hundred years after his death spread into a vast empire [under the Umayyad and Abbasid empires]. Islam also has a sect within her that could kind of be described as Mystical- that is like the Christian Mystics of church history. This branch is called Sufism. So you could say the 2 great institutions of Islam are Islamic law [Sharia] and Sufism [the mystical expression that seeks a more romanticized experience with God- like Christian Pietism]. As an avid boxing fan- I was watching a fight one night- and the official bell ringer ‘rung’ the bell after only 2minutes into the round [rounds are 3 minutes]. At first the ringside announcers- who are not paying attention to the clock- picked it up by simply feeling like the round was short. Sure enough during the break they were told the bell ringer- whose sole job is to ring the bell- messed up. As I watch the coverage unfold over the next weeks/months- and yes- years- I want to try and do my best to stick with the facts as much as possible. I understand it’s not easy to keep all the facts straight [the official bell ringers do at times mess up] and the distinction between the Arab/Muslim world is at times hard to see- I’m sure we will hear lots of reports confusing the 2- but being we are living in a real dangerous time- a time of change thru out the world that we cannot stop [I didn’t even mention the recent events in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia- major events- Yemen ‘snipers’ killed 50 protestor in cold blood- shot in the head/neck. Bahrain cracked down brutally on her protestors- and Syria is beginning to see more of an uprising]. So as we become more familiar with this part of the world- we want to get our facts as straight as possible. In this post I’m just beginning to cover Islam as a religion- over the coming months I want to do some posts strictly on the actual history of Islam- what Islam believes and teaches- and what Islam does not teach. The purpose is not to give a defense to the religion- but to inform each other about a religion that most westerners see only thru a lens of radicalism- thru news reports that fixate on the extreme elements of Islam. Part of our responsibility in the West is to know the subject/people we are dealing with- and for today one of the facts that should help form the coming posts is all Muslims are not Arabs- and all Arabs are not Muslim- the majority of nations that are ‘majority’ Muslim [around 53] are indeed African and Asian. And the latest one that we just engaged in- militarily- is smack dab in the middle of the North African rim that has been on fire- first to its left in Tunisia- and then to its right with Egypt- and we are ‘stuck in the middle with you’. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1626] PILLARS 1-2. As the Libya story unfolds- you have some sincere critics of the president [Dick Lugar] and others who just want to find fault. Now- one of the debates going on is who will eventually take over the command of the ‘no fly zone’ [war]. The Arab league- though initially in support of the action, has since said what they signed up for [protect innocent civilians] is not what happened [bombing the country]. Vladimir Putin [Russian P.M.] said ‘it’s a crusade’ Yikes! The Russian president [who I thought was supposed to be a puppet] Medvedev rebuked the words publicly. Before we hit Libya- I started asking a few questions- things like ‘look- I know the leader seems like a nut, but I’m beginning to wonder if there might be some truth to his charge that the Rebels are Al Qaeda’. Sure enough there have been lots of reports that do say the radical element in these protests are larger than what we saw in the other nations [Tunisia, Egypt]. Richard Engel- a top NBC [NOT FOX!] reporter said that 1 in 5 of the rebels are fighting because they want to kill Gadhafi ‘the Jew’. So as we debate when/where the U.S. should take action- we need to also keep in mind that the alternatives to the toppling of leaders might be just as bad- or worse- than the actual leader. Okay- why was the word ‘crusade’ so charged? It plays into the world history of the western nations fighting against the Muslim world. Many in the Arab league are not comfortable with NATO taking charge because of this history. The last few weeks the song ‘from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli’ have gone thru my mind. I remember the old Abbot and Costello shows on the foreign legion and stuff like that. What war is the song describing? It speaks about the wars that the U.S. engaged in- yes- with Libya- many years ago. After the American colonies broke away from England we continued to conduct world trade by the use of ships. At one point [1800’s] the Mediterranean became a flash point [like today] you had pirates and countries who retaliated by disrupting the water ways. America of course fought back- and the Libyans were actually called ‘the Mujahedeen’ yes- the same term used for the Rebels who we supported in toppling the Russian influence in Afghanistan. These were the Barbary wars- Barbary Coast. So- we need to be careful that our actions don’t play into the idea that the U.S. is actually waging a 21st century crusade [this is also why it was unbelievable that Bush actually used the term crusade during his term]. Okay- let me do a little more on Islam [the teaching series I started in the last post]. Islam has 5 Pillars- basic tenets that all Muslims hold to; 1- The declaration of their faith ‘There is no god but God [Allah] and Muhammad is the messenger of God’. To become a Muslim- one simply has to accept/confess this statement. Muslims believe that the final/complete revelation of God to man has come thru the prophet- by way of the Quran. As Christians accept Jesus as God’s final prophet/Messiah to mankind- so Muslims see Muhammad as the final and complete authority. 2- The second Pillar is Salat [prayer]. Muslims pray 5 times a day while facing Mecca- the holy city where the Kabba is [Kabba- the house of God believed to have been built by Abraham and his son Ishmael]. Once a week on Friday Muslims pray corporately at noon in the local mosque or Islamic center. The next few days I’ll try and cover the other 3 pillars- I actually think the 3rd pillar is more in keeping with the teachings of Jesus and the bible than what most Christians practice- it deals with the Muslim practice of giving to meet the needs of the poor. For today that should cover it- remember- the reason we are covering Islam as a religion is so we can have a better grasp on what Muslims believe. Too many of us are only familiar with the more radical elements that the media focus on when an attack takes place. At the same time there are also prejudices in Islam as well- many young Muslims are taught a radical hatred for the Jew- these wrong ideas are formed in their minds as young people- and they too need to reject these anti- Semitic ideas. As the U.S. begins engaging in the 3rd Muslim country in the last 11 years- we need to be very careful that we are not playing into the hands of those who embrace radicalism- there is a very real extreme element in Libya. Al Qaeda has operated out of the nation for many years- we need to be careful that we are not being ‘useful idiots’. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1629] MUSLIM IN AMERICA- THE PRESIDENTS SPEECH AND OTHER MUSINGS. Last night the president finally spoke to the nation in defense of our military action in Libya. He made the case that there are times when the U.S. can/should act if we feel we can avert a humanitarian disaster- he also said we can’t always intervene in every conflict. I guess for the most part this makes some sense- it’s just the way he handled it [going on vacation- congress in recess]. There are still lots of questions to be asked/answered. Today the rebels are on the outskirts of a western city that is ‘pro Gadhafi’. The city is called Sirte and like other cities in the west they favor Gadhafi more so than the rebels. The question is; how do we justify the bombing of Gadhafi’s military- in order to protect civilians- while the rebels are getting ready to overthrow a civilian population- with force- against the majority of the will of the people? We have indeed enabled the rebels to advance this far west, and we are basically on the side of the rebels- in this case- against the populace. The other night I watched a CNN special on Muslim discrimination in America- most of you who read my posts [blog] know I try and take the more moderate position of not branding all Muslims as radical. I do think there are times when Muslims are discriminated against wrongfully because of their faith. Yet at the same time the media often show their bias. The show did a good job at revealing how Muslims face discrimination in America- the host- Soledad O’Brien- kind of showed the ‘ignorant’ Christians versus the moderate Muslims. The town was Murphysboro Tenn. [yes- they picked a spot that would be a little more redneck than usual] and they interviewed a few American Muslim women whose sole experience of Islam comes from an American perspective. These women, as sympathetic as their causes are- do not even begin to breech the absolute discrimination and oppression that many Muslim women experience around the globe on a daily basis- it was just unfair for CNN to portray Muslim women as victims of Christian discrimination while overlooking the real problem- expressed by many women who have chosen to speak out- against the oppression women face when living in countries that have Sharia law as the law of the land. As I continue to teach the study on Islam [so far have only done 1 post on it] I want to try and approach the strained relationship that exists between Western society and Islam- yet I don’t want to be an apologist for Islam. I’m currently going thru a course on Islam that is taught by the official govt. teacher on the subject. I believe he was sitting in the second row of the president’s speech last night. Over the years I have studied on lots of subjects- years of utilizing the public library system, buying university level books [not pop culture Christian stuff on how to ‘get what you want’] and I have also ordered courses [C.D. and book] from the top professors of the universities of the world. These course are not cheap- yet they are cheaper than actually getting credits for the courses [you can take the same courses as extension courses from the universities and get credit- but that’s way too expensive- especially if done thru the elite universities- Harvard, etc.] So instead I simply purchase the courses and do them on my own. Now- the reason I say this is to explain a ‘funny thing’ that happened on my study of Islam. When I first ordered the course I noticed the ratings were not that great. Most courses are rated in the 80-90 percentile- from others who have done the course- this one was in the 60’s. I hesitated to get it- but the other courses that dealt with Islam also dealt with other religions- and I didn’t want to do an entire comparative religion study at this time. So these courses are taught by the top tier professors in the world [these professors are peer reviewed and deemed to be in the top 10 %]. This one on Islam is taught by the person who teaches Islam to the incoming govt. employees under president Obama. As I’m going thru the course- there are times where I feel like the teacher is too defensive of Islam- sort of like the CNN special. At one point the professor defends Muhammad as a religious leader who freed women from oppression and instituted an open and liberal society for all people- especially women. Geez- stuff like this is very problematic- I know enough about the current world nations that have Islam as the official religion of the nation- these nations are without a doubt very oppressive to women. Like many things in life- we all try and do our best to give people the benefit of the doubt- and as someone who has disagreed with the president and been openly critical of him- yet I try not to be so biased that I find fault with everything he does. The media has far left defenders- who never find anything wrong with the man- and far right critics who never find anything right. At this time- the revolts in North Africa and the Middle East are really getting out of hand- the Christians in Egypt- an ancient Christian church [Coptic] have lived there since the early days of Christianity- they have just voted in Egypt to recognize Sharia law as the official law of the land- this referendum was passed by 70 % of the population- and the Muslim Brotherhood showed their organizational abilities by gaining a majority of the vote for the things they wanted. So now the Christians in Egypt might face the same fate as those in Pakistan- being put to death for blaspheming Islam [which often means witnessing for Christ]. The rebels who we are fighting for in Libya are much more radical than Gadhafi- yes Gadhafi was/is a madman- yet the rebels have more Al Qaeda influence than Gadhafi- they have been enemies in Libya for years. Do we really want our people dying for the Rebels? There are still lots of questions to be answered- I am uncomfortable that the course I’m going thru on Islam is so skewed to the point of defending Islam as a great liberator of women and their rights- I was even more troubled to have seen ‘my instructor’ sitting in the 2nd row at the president’s speech. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1630] EPISTEMOLOGY- Lets do a little more on how we learn- know stuff. The actual ‘study’ of how we know things is called Epistemology. Today’s popular movement is called Post Modernism- a challenge to the classical idea of Modernism. The classical way of looking at knowledge said there are things that are ‘really true’ and things that are not- this is called Objective Truth. The Post Moderns say words are limited [true to a degree] and because words are simply vehicles that transmit ideas that are not really ‘true’ in the classical sense, then it is wrong for one group [like Christians] to say to another group [non- Christians] that Jesus is the Way- Truth and Life [Johns gospel]. So the battle lines are drawn. It should be noted that a growing number of believers are describing themselves as Post Modern and they argue that it is possible to be Christian and Post Modern at the same time. Okay- as more of the classical type- I believe it is possible to get to objective truth- that the pursuit of what’s true is not a vain pursuit- and yes- though we are all limited in our understanding, yet to even have this conversation requires an element of Absolute Truth. If the Post Modernist says ‘words have no objective truth- only relative truth- they only convey what the hearer decides they convey’ then I can say ‘Oh- so if I take your words to mean there is such a thing as objective truth- that’s okay’? O know you idiot- you’re not hearing what I’m saying! So you see that the Post modernist needs his words to mean something- to convey a specific thing to the hearer- if the hearer can make the words mean whatever he wants- then you can’t even engage in the discussion- got it? So anyway- as I’m thinking about scrapping my Islam course [and just teaching it from stuff I learned myself- in the immortal words of defense secy. Bob Gates ‘on the fly’] I do want to utilize whatever objective truth I can pick up along the way- while at the same time realizing all people have their own biases and we need to listen with a careful skepticism. I ordered a course on Physics a while back- good course- but the instructor- though smart- made a classic mistake in Logic as he taught the course. He often said ‘the universe was created BY CHANCE’. Now- as a purely grammatical- logical argument- this incorrect [a fallacy]. Why? What he really means to say is ‘there are unknown causes in the universe that created the effect of existence- we do not know what these causes are- but we believe that thru a series of actions- which have no particular direction [chance] these unknown causes have caused the effect of the universe’. Okay- I don’t want to be nitpicky- but when I hear an intelligent person say ‘everything was made BY CHANCE’ and for him to get away with this without a rigorous challenge- then the Christian thinker has failed in his task to challenge the skeptic on his own terms- to show that even though the person may be an expert in his field [Physics] yet this does not mean he can get away with fallacious arguments- arguments that are invalid from the get go. So as we progress over the coming weeks/months on the various fields of study- we want to be open to learn from others who have specialized in their particular fields of study- we want to be open minded enough to learn from people who reject the faith- yes atheists can teach us things- there are areas of knowledge that all people have that can benefit the rest of us. And we want to weigh all things that we hear- we all make mistakes- and are susceptible to error. Just because my Physics ‘teacher’ screwed up in a classic way- a way that most apologists recognize right off the bat- I mean you have to be an amateur ‘arguer’ of truth to make this type of mistake- yet I didn’t reject the entire course- I still learned valuable insights from the man. So I think this is the best approach to take- listen to all sides of a matter- doubt the things that seem a little off- do some research- check into it yourself- and at the end of the day let a variety of sources be your pool of knowledge- don’t just rely on one source. Proverbs says ‘In the multitude of counselors there is safety’. Be sure you’re listening/hearing from the multitude [broad range of thought and learning] because often times single sources can be right in one area- and off in another. [1632] 3rd PILLAR- ZAKAT. As I was debating whether or not to continue my study on Islam [today] the spot I stopped at last was the 3rd pillar. Sure enough yesterday [and the rerun at 1 a.m.] Beck did an interesting show on Zakat. He had on a few experts- who are known to not be sympathetic to Islam- and they covered the subject of non violent Jihad- those who advocate for an Islamic society thru non violent means. Now- I know some Beck supporters have been upset with me in the past because I criticize Beck- it’s not that I don’t think he actually brings up things that other networks don’t- sometimes he does reveal stuff that the other networks don’t because they are so ‘in the tank’ for the president. I never thought I’d see the day where a news host actually would describe his ‘feelings’ that come over him when he hears the president speak- he actually used sexual connotations to describe it [a tingle goes up my leg]. Now- I’m not saying this to be cute [okay- maybe a little] but to say I have never in my life seen the media- the so called 4th estate- so one sided. So Beck [Fox] does serve a purpose. Now- Beck covered the groups that raise money under the banner of ‘charity’ and yet they have ties to radical Islam, and they discussed the ancient Islamic practice of Zakat [or Tithe]. In the Muslim community Zakat is giving a portion [2.5%] of both goods and finances for the sole purpose of providing for the poor. In Muslim communities the Zakat is like social security. The word literally means purification. The word itself is not a terrorist term- nor the practice. It is important for Beck and others to cover stories about the use of Zakat given to charitable groups for radical purposes- yet most Americans have probably not heard of the term before- and their first introduction to it was seen thru an association to terror. Years ago I had a chance meeting with a Muslim- I’m sure he didn’t realize he ran into some nut who studies just about everything a person can study [I was working at the fire house and on duty]. He was a devout Muslim- dressed in Muslim garb an all. As we talked I gave him the biblical history of Abraham and his 2 sons Isaac and Ishmael. I traced the lineage of Christians and Jews from Isaacs’s line, and the genealogy of Muslims [Arabs] thru Ishmael. I spoke about the coming of Jesus in the 1st century of the Common Era as the promised offspring that God originally told Abraham about. I explained the purpose of the Messiah [Jesus] as being the predestined one sent by God to unite all people and tribes under one new nation- the Kingdom of God. I explained to my friend that Christianity teaches that Jesus was not simply a prophet- but one who died for the sins of the world and rose again as the final sacrifice that would ever need to be made for the sins of men. I was surprised to see my Muslim friend hearing the whole story- for the 1st time. He told me he was not familiar at all with the history [even though it is both biblical history and Islamic- the part about Ishmael which is found in the book of Genesis]. He seemed so grateful to have heard it thru ‘this angle’ not from the angle of the Crusades- or of Western Colonialism- but from the angle of the grace of God that has come to all tribes and races thru Jesus Christ. As I watch the media day after day- seeing more unrest in the Middle East than I have ever witnessed in my lifetime. Seeing the growing strain between Christians and Muslims and Jews [the Fla. Pastor went and burned a Koran and Muslim demonstrators in Afghanistan attacked the U.N. building and killed and beheaded some workers]. As I see the lines being drawn in the sand- I come back to the story of my Muslim friend- who obviously was dedicated to his faith [wearing the robe and all] yet he never clearly heard the gospel- which actually means Good News. The bible commands us [Christians] to live in peace with ALL MEN- to love our neighbor as our self- to even love those who hate us- to pray for those who persecute us and to do good [a type of Zakat] to our fellow man. While I make no excuses for the killing and beheading of the U.N. people- yet to burn the holy book of another religion is also not living peaceably with all men. I believe the Islamic practice of Zakat is closer to actual biblical teaching than what most Christians practice today. The majority of Christian giving- often wrongfully referred to as the Tithe- goes to the function of media ministry- church buildings- salaries- etc. under 10 percent goes to meeting the needs of the poor. Yet in the teachings of Jesus and in the New Testament the majority teaching on giving is in context of giving to meet the needs of the poor [go read my books under the Feb- 2010 posts- and also the study called ‘what in the world is the church’ under the Feb posts]. So in a very real way I do think the Islamic Zakat is closer to the biblical practice than what most 21st century Christians practice. I will obviously have many things I will not embrace about Islam in future posts- I will try and cover those differences as respectfully as I possibly can- without being a biased defender of Islam [as my current instructor on the course seems to be]. And I will make the case for Christ as well. At the end of the day hopefully we can learn more about our various beliefs- try and have respect for those who differ- and root for the moderates among us. I reject the Koran burning pastor in Fla. And I hope most Muslims will also reject the radical elements within their ranks. The history of the 3rd Pillar of Islam is a good one- a practice that centers around the teachings of Christ- it’s a shame that some in the Muslim community have hijacked it for violent Jihad. [1642] LESSON FROM A MUSLIM- I read a story in my local paper yesterday- there was an ecumenical dinner held this week between Christians, Jews and Muslims. The Christian staff writer who attended shared how it helped her to overcome previous prejudices that she had. She told what the various speakers discussed and I was particularly impressed with what the Muslim speaker said- she talked about how true religion is not performance, putting on a show- but is expressed in reaching out to those in need- the poor and hurting. In fact she was basically quoting the New Testament book of James- James says ‘pure religion is to visit the fatherless and widows and to stay clean from the world’. A few weeks back one of my homeless buddies stopped by- he’s basically a genius when it comes to the bible- I mean it’s sort of an autistic thing to be honest- he knows- by memory- much more than the average preacher. As I visited with Henry I gave him the latest bible studies that were sent to me over the last few months. Years ago I heard a N.J. Jewish preacher- who pastors a Messianic congregation in Lodi, N.J.- he had a short radio show on the same station I’m on- and as a courtesy I sent him some of my books and told him hi and all- being I’m a former Jersey brother and all. Ever since he has sent me these really great bible studies every month. The studies are really in depth- and he usually only sends them to partners [those who support his ministry with money]. But I guess he appreciated my sending him a nice note and he forever put me on the list. Now- I’m an avid reader- I’ve read just about everything you can get your hands on- but these past few years I’m trying to stick with scholarly stuff- not that I’m ‘too good’ for the basic stuff- It’s just I really don’t have the time to just read tons of stuff that’s in the category of ‘devotional’ material- stuff that just kind of talks about Christian things. So I hate to throw the stuff out- I mean they’re great bible studies. I don’t want to write Jonathan [the pastor] and say ‘take me off your list’- so I save them up and give them to Henry- he devours them and even quotes them back to me the next time I see him. So anyway we had a good talk. Somehow we got into discussing the book of James [the verse I quoted above] and I told Henry how it’s funny that James [we believe this letter in the New Testament- called James- was written by the James who was Jesus’ brother- mentioned about in the bible. He was the same James mentioned as one of the leaders in the church at Jerusalem in the book of Acts, chapter 15. To my Catholic friends- it might sound strange ‘Jesus had a brother?’ these words are found in the New Testament. Catholic teachers don’t deny this- they just interpret it to mean ‘cousin’ or near relative- some say its speaking of ‘Christian brother’. Don’t want to debate it- just thought I should mention it]. Anyway- I told Henry how it’s strange that one of the key leaders in the early church- who was closer to Jesus than all the other disciples [he lived in the same house] that he would write such a scathing indictment against the rich- and he would defend the poor so strongly. James’ letter is one of the strongest rebukes against the rich that you will find in the bible. Anyway Henry agreed with me- of course Henry’s poor- homeless- but he knows his stuff. He said ‘you know John- as true as you are- you never hear this from the famous pulpits in America’. He was agreeing with what the Muslim lady said at the dinner- that true religion is not fame and glory- but serving those in need. I liked the spirit of the article I read- It does not mean I will not continue to advocate for the exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus- that Jesus is truly the only way to God. Pope Benedict has also come under some heat for saying the Catholic Church teaches that Jesus is the only way of salvation- to which I agree. Yet at the same time- as we make our case to our Muslim and Jewish friends- we can also sit down with them- live as citizens of the same community with them- and even learn something from them every now and then. NOTE- To any of my friends who might be ‘rich’. The early church did have certain individuals who were rich- and it was oaky. The person who gave his grave spot to Jesus- Joseph of Arimathea- was rich. Also in the books of Acts there were believers who sold their real estate and dedicated the money to the church. So the bible doesn’t just outright condemn those who are rich- but there are many warnings against being rich in ‘this world’ while forgetting to build riches in the kingdom [works of love and charity]. That’s the main theme of James’ letter. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1644] THE ARAB SPRING- This week the president took some criticism for identifying the struggle going on in the Arab/Muslim world with the struggle for freedom that the Jewish people experienced- and commemorate during this Passover season. The president- who celebrates the Passover meal- said that the present Arab struggle for freedom- what is sometimes referred to as The Arab Spring, is much like what the Jews went thru when they too felt oppressed by their leaders many years ago. I actually just did an entire study along these same lines [Insights from a Revolution]. The president’s critics tore into him ‘how dare he compare a radical Muslim terror campaign with the honest struggle of the Jewish people’. Beck had John Hagee [the famous Pastor out of San Antonio] on his show- as well as a Rabbi and another Israeli official- they discussed the subject of God being on the side of the geopolitical decisions of Israel- and how the Arab/Muslim world just want to ‘kill everybody else’. Hagee offered his friendship to the Rabbi- stating ‘though we disagree on who the Messiah is [no small disagreement!] yet we can still overlook our differences and work together’. Now- I would simply ask- why not take this position with the Muslim/Arab world too? The difference that Hagee was willing to ‘gloss over’ with his Jewish friends is quite a leap- though I too agree with it- that is even though our Jewish friends do not embrace Jesus as the Messiah- yet we should love them as Jesus commanded- and fight for their rights as a people. We should also extend this hand of friendship- as much as possible- to the Arab world. ‘What- are you nuts- don’t you know the Koran has verses in it that are incompatible with Christian doctrine’- actually I do know this- but that 'incompatibility’ is just as severe- doctrinally- as saying Jesus is not the Messiah. According to the Apostle John- this denial is the worst doctrinal denial one can make [Johns 1st letter found in the New Testament ‘if anyone denies that Jesus Christ is the Messiah- come in the flesh- he is anti Christ’]. Okay- the point? Why couldn’t Beck, Hagee, and the other multitudes simply give this same benefit of the doubt to the Muslim world? In Genesis chapter 16 we read the actual history of the Arab/Muslim world- yes it’s in our bibles. Sarah [Abraham’s wife] tells her husband to sleep with her maid Hagar and have a son. Sarah was barren and this was an acceptable thing at the time to do- sort of like a surrogate mother type thing. After the maid gets pregnant there arises tension and jealousy in the home and Abraham says ‘look- she’s your maid- do what you want’ and Sarah kicks her out and the maid winds up crying in the wilderness.. God sends an angel to talk with her and God promises her that her son- Ishmael [the father of the Arab/Muslim people- who is also the son of Abraham- the father of the Jewish people!] will become a great people and that the son- Ishmael- will be a wild man and he will be at war with all the nations around him and all the nations will fight with him. Now- does this history sound accurate to you? Does the Christian bible say God is the one who multiplied this group of people? If these things are true- and recorded in our Christian bibles- why not at least give them the same chance as our Jewish brothers? Look- I am not advocating glossing over the serious doctrinal differences between Islam and Christianity- but the Evangelical community- for the most part- has managed to ‘gloss over’ a pretty major doctrinal difference with our Jewish friends- why not with Muslims? I mean as people who live together on the same planet- as people whom God said ‘I am the one who increased them’ surely we can take these same verses and use them as a bridge- to bridge some serious gaps for sure- but a possible bridge that God has given us- in our bibles- that states that God himself is concerned with the Arab world and the present ‘war’ between Ishmael and all the nations around him- well that too was recorded in God’s plan. [1656] ANTI COLONIAL REDO Let me try to cover a few current events. This week we had a few presidential hopefuls drop out of the race- and a few announce. Newt Gingrich did his first Sunday news interview since officially getting into the race. David Gregory- Tim Russert’s replacement on NBC- did an okay interview- but he did raise the question of racism [so soon!]. Yes- he questioned Newt’s speech where he mentioned that Obama is the ‘food stamp president’. That is Newt criticized the economic policies of this administration and said how we have over 40 million people on food stamps. That the lack of the president’s ability to create jobs is seen in the food stamp [and welfare] rates rising. Gregory questioned whether or not this played into the race game. Now- MSNBC and one of the most biased news people in the media today [Chris Matthews] had on 2 liberal minded men. He got right into the race card- he played it hard and long. To my surprise- both of the liberals he interviewed disagreed with him. They distanced themselves from the race card. One of the men- Richard Wolfe- is an Obama insider. He has lots of access to the inner workings of the White House. He has written books on the president and he is close to the real sources. I had to ask myself why both of these liberal minded men agreed with me- that to use the race card on something like this is shameful. I realized that as ‘true insiders’ they know that this type of accusation surely does not play well in Rio Linda. That is the majority of voters- especially white independents- they might not say it- but this stuff does not gain votes. As smart politicos- these Obama supporters knew this- and for the welfare of the president, whom they support- they did the right thing. Matthews- well he’s a lost cause. One of the things that gets raised with the Newt debate is the accusation that our president is ‘anti- colonial’ or that he is an ‘anti colonial Kenyan’. In the past I have defended the president against this accusation- yet at the same time others who have defended the president against this accusation have seemed to not know what they are talking about [Matthews again]. These last few years Newt Gingrich has positioned himself for a possible run for the White House. One of the things he has done is he has converted to Catholicism. Now- I do not question his conversion- as a matter of fact if you realize that Newt is an intellectual- than the conversion to a Christian denomination that has the greatest intellectual heritage of them all- well that just makes sense. As a new convert Newt is obviously going to read the books of other Catholic intellectuals. And a top seller during this time was a book by Dinesh Desouza. A Catholic intellectual himself. The book critiqued the development of the political/social thought of the president. It covered the presidents own journey as he grew up and later learned more about his father’s struggle- and the black mans struggle in general. The president wrote about this in his book Dreams of my Father. Part of the critique that Dinesh mentioned is that the presidents father- like many Kenyans and other foreign ethnic groups- had what you would describe as an ‘anti colonial’ mindset. What’s that? Our world has gone thru many stages of growth and development. Some stages were good- other times bad [the Hitler stage!] After the great breakthroughs in science and technology that occurred during the 18th-19th centuries- you had European [western] world powers colonizing other parts of the world. Africa [Kenya] as well as other Arab nations became colonies of the west. The famous struggle of Gandhi was all about India breaking away from Britain’s rule over them. They indeed were ‘anti colonial’. Now- in this conversation many can’t believe [Matthews] that anyone would ever even venture to say that the president might be ‘anti colonial’ as in if this is a bad thing. Geez- America is ANTI COLONIAL for heaven’s sake. We revolted against the English king and became a nation of our own. So the anti colonial mindset-in itself- is not so terrible. Yet some of the president’s accusers do use the accusation as saying the president buys into the whole spirit of anti colonialism- which in many parts of the world does come with an anti American attitude- why? Well they resent our political influence in their nations. The present protests going on in the Arab world also play strongly into this feeling. Many in the western media have simplified the reasons for the Arab protests. Some [Beck] simply see a radical world uprising that wants to take over the world. Others are a little more thoughtful- they see the actual religious divisions in these countries [between Sunni and Shii] and they tell the story of one sect of Islam fighting the other sect. But this too is ‘too’ simple. I read an article a while back- written by a Muslim woman who lives in Bahrain. She said that when the west views the protests in her country as simply a Shiite majority population protesting a Sunni minority dynasty- that this narrative misses the point. She explained how in the Arab world there is a strong undercurrent running thru the unrest- and that this undercurrent is anti colonial in nature. She explained how many of the younger generation Muslim/Arabs are seeing their leaders as sell outs- that their rulers have a sort of unwritten colonial pact with the west- and that this unspoken agreement says ‘if you work with us in fighting the radicals among you- we in turn will support you- even if you treat your people badly’. Thus you had the uprising in Egypt that ousted the long term president. Mubarak was indeed America’s strongest ally in the Arab world- he had maintained a cold peace with Israel for 30 years- and the west loved it. So in essence the protests are not really about the religious divide within Islam [The divide itself dates back to the 7th century under the founder Mohammad. After Mohammed’s death he was replaced by another top organizational leader- who was not related by blood to Mohammed. This passing of of the leadership- by ability as opposed to blood- this is called Sunna- the example of the prophet spoken about in the Hadith. Those who describe themselves as Sunni adhere to this example. The other side- Shii [partisan] broke away from this idea and instead believed that the leadership should pass thru those who have blood relations to the former leader. This division has existed till this day and that’s why in some nations you have the Sunni in charge- and in others the Shii. In Bahrain- when they repressed the protestors- they appealed to another Sunni led nation- Saudi Arabia- and they sent their soldiers into Bahrain to put down the uprising. On the other side of the coin you have Iran [Shii leadership] backing Assad in Syria because he too adheres to their division. So some in the western media have played this up as the main cause of the protests- when in reality it plays a smaller role than you would think. Okay- all that to say this. If the defenders of the president want to defend him against ‘anti colonial’ accusations- then have some background into what’s going on. If you want to criticize Newt for the accusation- realize that it’s not totally unfounded- and it’s not wrong to be anti colonial. All our founding fathers were. [1713] THIS ROCK A few weeks ago I mentioned how I want to try and cover the Sunday Mass readings every now and then. I watch the Mass every Sunday [as well as hold a Protestant meeting- home meeting] and I wanted to hit on the verses so my Catholic friends can get a little more into bible study. Last week one of the readings was from Isaiah 56- the week before chapter 55. These chapters sort of cover one of the main themes that I spoke about during our overview of the letters of the N.T. If you remember- one of the ‘mysteries’ we spoke about was the truth that in Christ- all ethnic groups are now one in Christ. This was spoken about in Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus. In Isaiah we read about God bringing all nations to Christ ‘you will call a nation that you do not know- and nations that do not know you will come running to you’ ‘My fathers house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’- Jesus quotes this verse when he throws out the Money Changers from the temple. Another one ‘whoever is thirsty- come- drink of this water freely’ the themes of these 2 chapters is God is inviting all groups- they can come and make this Covenant with God. God is opening the door for all groups to make it in! On my site- a while back I made some friends from various countries- Muslim countries. I actually did a teaching on Islam- in a positive way- not to ‘trick’ Muslims to convert- but because I felt the anti Muslim feeling in the West- with the world facing so many geo political problems- that we needed to take some positions as Christians that were more gracious to people in general. Now- I know I too ‘hit hard’ on my site- sure. But I do believe God wants us to live peaceably with ‘all men’. That friends from other religious backgrounds- if they are going through very hard times- then we need to do what we can to help them. Every conversation with a young Muslim person- who might be struggling with the problems taking place in their nation- we need to also be able to do ‘justly’ see that many of their nations have been oppressive- and all the young people in these nations are not radical Muslims. Many are women who have been treated badly by the leaders- because the leaders are strict Muslims. So for these people- we need to say ‘yes we see your situation- we are praying for you’ we can’t simply think all the problems will be solved if we only preach to them- without also acting justly- seeing their plight and being concerned and speaking out. Okay- that’s the main reason I connected with some of these friends. At the same time- obviously I teach the bible- and I hope lots of these friends from various groups [Jews, Muslims, etc..] that they can see that Christianity is not based on the West- or a certain view of Christianity- but its Gods free offering to all men/women ‘come- drink- accept the free gift- it’s for you!’ So of course I want all my friends to feel free to take the benefits that God has given to us- while also respecting them if they choose to worship their own way. So- this week we saw that in the N.T. the death and resurrection of Christ was Gods way of saying ‘whoever wants to come- come!’. Christ died for everyone- we can all get in. The prophet Isaiah said this years ago- that God would bring all nations and ethnic groups to ‘his holy mountain’ [kingdom] he would make them joyful- he will accept their gifts [prayers and thanks] and that he is doing all these things for the benefit of all nations- not just one. As we close the week- go and read these chapters- to my Catholic friends – see what chapters will be in the Mass this Sunday- when you get home after the Mass- read them. The bible says Jesus is the Chief Cornerstone of the spiritual building called ‘the church’. The bible says many people stumbled over this stone- they were offended at him. Jesus asked once ‘Who do men say that I am’- Peter said ‘You are the Christ- the Son of the blessed’. Jesus says ‘Blessed are you Peter- flesh and blood did not reveal this to you- but my Father who is in heaven’ and Jesus went on to say ‘Upon this Rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ Later on in Peters letter’s- he says we are spiritual stones in this spiritual temple- and Jesus is the main Rock. All the bible hinges on him- we must see everything as it relates to ‘This Rock’. God made provisions for all people thru his Son- he said ‘whoever wants to drink- drink- come freely- without charge- it’s for you too’. [1735] THE YEAR UZZIAH DIED After the debate last night I caught the 1st 7 minutes or so of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. As an avid news watcher- I try to catch what the most influential pundits are saying at the time. Though Stewart is a comedian news guy- yet he usually gives you a balanced view- with a few F bombs thrown in every so often. So his top skit was today’s vote at the U.N. [well- they won’t vote today on it] the Palestinian request for the U.N. to recognize them as a state [nation- called nation states in that part of the world]. Stewart did a pretty funny [and eye opening] skit. He had one of his reporters ‘report’ from Halifax- Nova Scotia [of course he shoots these scenes from his area- I guess?] And the skit was that the new Holy Land is actually Halifax. That they discovered this new scroll [in his hand] and the evidence pointed to Halifax as the spot. So as they talk the reporter also pronounces Halifax with a rolling ‘Hal’ you know- to make it sound Jewish. So- after this new find- I guess the whole war over the ‘2 state’ solution is now resolved- right? Wrong. On the split screen you have the Muslim reporter show up- and he makes the claim that Muhammad actually found Halifax first- he even says he has proof that ‘the prophet’ was there- they have evidence that he caught a huge fish once on a visit. Now of course- these guys are all taking risks with this stuff- but it is funny. So the ‘Jewish’ reporter says ‘okay- show me the picture and I’ll believe it’. Of course- in Islam- it’s blasphemous to depict the prophet in a picture- so they go back and forth on the thing- The Muslim guy pronouncing Halifax with a sort of Muslim drawl [Halalafax]. The sad thing is- even though it’s a comedy show- Stewart showed us how all the religious ‘wars’ and fights- how they look to the ‘outside world’. As I have been doing a ‘jump around’ study on the Old Testament these last few weeks- in my own study [for the posts] I am at the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah is one of the Major Prophets- he is quoted more than any other Old Testament prophet- in the N.T. There are more famous prophecies from Isaiah- about Jesus- than any other prophet [A Virgin shall conceive and have a child]. When we read the books of the bible- we usually have pretty accurate dates on when the book was written- at what time the prophet lived. In Isaiah’s case he gives us a specific date to his calling- in chapter 6 he says ‘in the year that king Uzziah died- I saw the Lord’. King Uzziah [a king in Israel] died in the year 740 B.C. If you walk down to the Mediterranean shore from Israel- you can look North West and see Italy. In the year 740 B.C. - Rome became a city. Of course it would be centuries before Rome would become the capital of the world empire- yet it was birthed as a city the same year Isaiah was called by God. If you look west- you see Egypt, Libya and Tunisia- all places where the ‘Arab Spring’ has taken root. It’s amazing to think- that after thousands of years- this whole area is still one of the most influential news making spots on the map. After John the Baptist baptized Jesus- the Spirit descended on Jesus ‘like a dove’ and the bible tells us ‘the Spirit DROVE Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil’. In Luke’s account [chapter 4] One of the first events to take place after the wilderness test- was Jesus goes into the synagogue on the Sabbath- and as ‘his custom was’ he ‘opened the book and read’. Now that’s the way the English version reads. But it really doesn’t give you the full picture. The Jewish people [till this day] don’t have their bibles [Called Torah for Jews- Pentateuch for Christians- which are the first 5 books of the Old Testament] in book form. They have their bibles in scroll form. It’s actually part of their worship to have these beautiful hand written scrolls- which cost thousands of dollars to make- in this form. So when you read ‘Jesus opened the book and found the place’ it really means he unrolled the scroll- and came to the spot where the reading was marked for that day. I have heard many preachers over the years correctly say that it was a scroll- yet they seem to think that Jesus just unrolled the thing and supernaturally came to the spot where he read from. No- the spot was already marked out the week before- he was just reading from this predetermined spot. Now- he reads a famous passage ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach’ and the prophecy goes on and talks about the ministry of the Messiah. Now- for Jesus to have read this- and for the people to have heard-was nothing out of the ordinary- until what happened next. Jesus then ‘closed the book’ and says ‘This day this prophecy has been fulfilled in your ears’ and the bible says that the eyes of everyone there were fixated on him. Jesus read from Isaiah 61 that day- the prophet that was called 740 years earlier. This happened right after the temptation- it was the difficulty- the tests- the very tough things he went through- it was these things that gave him the ability to speak- and for all the people to hear. As they will present the Palestinian request today- and as this same land- where Jesus walked- Isaiah heard God- the devil tempted Jesus- as this land once again becomes the center of attention- I hope we don’t all look like the caricature that Jon Stewart showed- brilliantly- on his show. Quite often ‘the world’ sees the church [religious fights in general] as stupid and silly. They see certain adherents willing to fight- and kill- over their beliefs. They see a never ending feud between groups of people who are so fixated on a certain side- an issue- that it seems almost impossible to sit down and actually treat the other side as human beings- who are all indeed created in the image of God- who Jesus said ‘even if we see them as our enemy- we are to love them’. Isaiah was a cultured man- not like most of the other prophets. He had influence in the politics of his day- and most Christians today revere his prophecies as at the top of the list- as far as prophets go. In chapter 6- after he saw God- and heard the call- he responded ‘I am a man of unclean lips- it the middle of people who are also unclean’. And the bible says an angel took a ‘live coal’ from the fire and put it in on the prophet’s lips. God was saying ‘Yes Isaiah- you are unclean- this whole nation is unclean- man is unclean- yet when I use people to speak to a people- it’s based on my character- not yours’. Isaiah would fulfill the mission- and be honored by having Jesus read from his scroll on the opening day of the preaching ministry of Jesus- and for him to have said ‘today- this has been fulfilled in your ears’. [1752] IMMACULATE CONCEPTION Was gonna do one last post [for now] on Libya- we will need to cover the whole development of how we began to view/and act over a 6 month period- we acted [as a nation] contrary to our public statements. We swore- over and over again- that we were not targeting the man [or his family] and he swore [before the U.N. - by his rep.] that we were lying- and did indeed already kill a few of his grandkids [which was true] and were going after him. Then- on national T.V. - we saw him flee Sirte [his hometown] and get bombed by both NATO and American planes [ours were Drones]. We destroyed a bunch of vehicles- left a lot of dead bodies- but he made it to a tunnel. Then he got pulled out- ended up with a bullet in the head. O- forgot- this happened a day or 2 after Hillary Clinton visited Tripoli [her first visit] and said ‘we are waiting for you to capture or kill him’ [oop’s!] She later had to ‘clarify’. She also was caught on tape- laughing and rejoicing over his death- okay- many people did- but if your saying publicly- ‘that’s not what we want’- then it looks bad. Of course the other Arab nations want the U.N. to investigate- they were being told- by us- that we were not going after him. He begged for a peaceful resolution [he did do this!]. But we basically said no. There are lots of questions to still be answered on this thing. Okay- yesterday I wrote a quick note about a conversation I had with a new friend who just joined my site. She was into some new age stuff- we talked a little- I defended historic Christian belief- then she blocked me. Let’s talk a little about Apologetics/Theology. Apologetics is the field where Christians Defend the Faith. In our day- it is common for believers to be ‘left in the dust’ when they bang up against an atheistic scientist [they not all are!] or someone versed in Philosophy [Sartre or Camus- atheist thinkers- or Hitchen's and Dawkins]. Many times these various fields of study are too much for the average believer to feel like he can engage in- in an intelligent way- and ‘win’ the argument for the Christian view. But church history has a long- and very successful- track record doing this very thing. A few weeks back I did about 5 posts or so on Philosophy- a field I like to study. But if you do too many of those posts at one time- then it can get a little heavy [and boring!] So I try to break it up by only doing so many at a time. The same goes for Theology- Church History- etc. But over time- if we become well versed in these various fields- it will help us defend the Christian view- in an intelligent way- without being mean about it [I try!] But sometimes you will offend people- even if you try to be nice- because you’re engaging in a conversation that says ‘yes- as Christians we believe in ultimate truth- and that truth is in the person of Jesus Christ’ yes- that will offend some. My approach to these types of debates is I’m what you would call Ecumenical- I believe that Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox- and all the other ‘churches’ that profess Christ- I believe they are all Christian. Now you might say ‘well John- doesn’t everybody?’ Actually no- many of the most knowledgeable Apologists do indeed go after the other groups. Quite often you will have a strong protestant defender [usually from the Reformed faith] that will really hit the Catholic church- in my view- too hard. While it is true that historically Catholics and Protestants have differences- I have often found that Many ‘average’ Catholics/Protestants are not really aware of the real differences- they often have very limited perspectives about the ‘other side’ and these limited ideas [often wrong] seem to stay with the people- for most of their lives. One example- the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception- what is it? The teaching became Official- only in the last 2 centuries of the Catholic church- though it was held by many- it finally became official in the last 2 hundred years [ 1854 for the Immaculate Conception- 1950 for the Assumption of Mary doctrine]. The doctrine teaches that the Virgin Mary- Jesus Mom- was born ‘without the taint of original sin’. Now- what does that mean? Some Protestants think the Catholics teach that Mary was ‘sinless’ in the same way Christ was sinless. Actually- that’s not the official doctrine [see- it’s important to know the official teaching when we engage like this]. The actual teaching- that has the churches Imprimatur on it- is that Mary WAS A SINNER- just like the rest of us- but in order for Jesus to have been born from a pure vessel- that the actual work of the Cross- Redemption- it was applied to Mary ‘ahead of time’. Yes- the official teaching is that Mary ‘was saved’ from her sin- just like the rest of us- thru the Cross. The difference is the forgiveness that came to Mary- came to her before she was born- yes- the teaching does teach that Mary was born ‘without sin’ but not like Jesus was without sin- but she was ‘without sin’ because her salvation was applied ahead of time- way ahead of time- before she was born. Okay- do Protestants believe in this teaching? No. But is it ‘so way out of line’ to the point where we should view our Catholic brothers and sisters as ‘non Christian’ because of it? No- not in my view. Plus- many Catholics don’t even realize that this is what the doctrine teaches- many think it is talking about the birth of Jesus- being born without sin- by the act of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Virgin Mary and Mary conceiving. No- this is what we call ‘The Virgin birth- conceived by the Holy Ghost’. Jesus being born from a virgin with no earthly father. This is not the Immaculate Conception. So right here alone [trust me- there are many more examples that I could give] Both Catholics and Protestants usually get the doctrine wrong- yet they remain divided their whole lives- over something that they are not even right about. So I have found this type of stuff to be a problem while striving for Christian unity- and many Christians prefer to see the ‘other side’ in a negative light- and will continue to view them that way- till they die. I always feel bad when I lose a friend from the site- sometimes you can’t help it [other times it is my fault!] but sometimes it’s because we have views about things- strongly held views- and when others hold to a different view- well we try and avoid them. One day I received a Friends Request- to my surprise- it was from a young Catholic priest- I did not know him but he must have read a few posts of mine and liked them. He often gave me Thumbs Up comments on the posts- and at times would tell me he loved the posts. Most were my Theology/Church history posts. Often times Catholics and Protestants can agree and enjoy these types of studies. I love studying and teaching on the Church Fathers and early Christian history- and these sources all have a very strong Catholic flavor to them- so I see my fellow Catholics as being a part of a long tradition of Christian history. Many famous converts to the Catholic Church [Bishop John Newman- converted from the Anglican Church] convert because they read the Church Fathers- and when you read them- it’s obvious to see the catholic nature of the early church in these men’s writings. So anyway I was very happy to have a Catholic priest as one of my ‘on line students’ [and honored]. But one day- during one of my studies [covering one subject for a month or so] to my surprise I saw he was gone [yes- the dreaded block]. I thought- geez- wonder why? I realized it was right in the middle of a study I did on Islam- and while I was doing the posts- I was also going thru a study on Islam- by the same guy who teaches it to the U.S. govt. - yes- it was a prof. [I think named Espinoza?] who teaches Islam to our govt. employees [sort of like a tolerance type thing]. Though the teacher was Catholic- yet he was VERY much pro Islam- I mean to the point where I had to reject some of the stuff he was saying- and finish the study from my own education on Islam. At one point- he taught that the spread of Islam thru out the world had a wonderful- liberating effect on all the women in the lands where Islam spread. I mean it was so obvious that the man had no idea what he was talking about [in this area] that I realized he was not a good source [this happens every so often]. And it was more troubling that this was the guy Obama picked to teach Islam to our govt. employees [don’t get me wrong here- he teaches our govt. workers- not to convert them- but more of an informative type thing- just like you would teach any other course about sexual harassment- or whatever]. Anyway- in one of my posts while teaching on my site- I did refer to Mohamed as ‘the prophet’- now- I don’t receive Mohamed that way myself- but because I was teaching some Muslims who did recently join the site- well I used the title in this way. I think that might have been the ‘last straw’ for my student/priest- he ‘went on Pilgrimage’ right after that post. Okay- today’s point is we all should try our best to be ‘tolerant’ that is- we should give people as much grace/mercy as possible- but at the same time we also need to be honest about the Christian faith. Yes- as Christians we believe salvation comes thru Christ- he was not just ‘one religious leader among many’ no- we believe he is the Way- the Truth- the Life/light- no man comes to the Father- but by him. Sometimes we do our best not to offend- we might even go out of our way to receive people- other religions and systems that are not Christian- that’s okay- I have Muslim and Jewish and all types of friends- I’m glad they are my friends! But we also have to be honest about our beliefs- and every now and then that might- just might- earn you a BLOCK. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1753] ARAB SPRING UPDATE Been wanting to cover the Arab Spring protests for a while now- but also want to do a few more posts on Catholic/Protestant relations. Let’s start with the protests- and see how far we get. To my surprise [and disappointment!] the new ‘leaders’ of Libya have already come out and said they will indeed have Shariah law as the law of the land. They said- very boldly ‘we are a Muslim land- and Shariah law will be the law’. Did they have Shariah law under Gadhaffi? Actually no- they did have some elements of it [Polygamy] but it was not full Shariah law. For instance- under Gadhaffi men could have more than one wife [look at him!] yet they needed the permission from the 1st wife. Under the new leaders- you won’t need that. I saw one of the new team respond to this question- he basically said ‘don’t worry- the woman will get used to it’- no- I do worry. We need to have some sort of ‘standard’ policy when it comes to all of these types of conflicts- a signed agreement- maybe an informal outline for a new constitution that states very clearly- that the rights of woman and Christians in these new governments will be respected. We need to say ‘yes- Muslims- as well as all other groups- will have the freedom to be represented- but no group [or groups] will be forced to live under any religious law’. ‘But John- who are we to dictate something like that’? Look- if they ask for our help- to intervene- and in Libya’s case to basically bomb the hell out of the other side- spend a billion [probably more] and to be the air force for the Rebels- then if you want that type of backing- then that’s the new price tag- freedom for all sides- no Shariah law imposed- and freedom for all the women- no more oppressive regimes like the Taliban. Okay- this concept is difficult for us in the West- we have managed to pretty much make a distinction in our minds between separation of Church and state. Though you have arguments about whether one political side wants to establish ‘Christian Shariah’ [Heard Frankie Schaffer make the charge again the other day. He is the son of the late Frances Schaffer- an influential figure in the early ‘Christian right’ movement in our country. Frankie is still a Christian- but he is very anti ‘religious right’ but he goes too far- he says that Perry and others like him do want a Christian Shariah law for the U.S.- the problem with this is many of these radical Muslim nations are actually killing Christians and women and others who ‘violate’ their laws- we should not use this comparison- it dilutes the seriousness of what is happening in the ‘real world’] yet for the most part we have made the distinction between govt. and religion. Yet when you study Islam- Islam is both a religion and a form of govt. - those who embrace Islam have not yet made this type of distinction. Now- there are some moderate Muslim voices who are calling for this type of Reformation within Islam- but they have a long way to go. Okay- that’s why it’s easy for these ‘new’ nations to say ‘o yeah- Shariah all the way’. This week- Tunisia- the first Arab Spring nation to fall- did indeed vote in Shariah law. Egypt- the 2nd Arab Spring nation is heading there- and the new leaders of Libya have already stated it- we do have a problem folks. Okay- I have a few Muslims friends who read my site- and I am very grateful to have them as friends. One lives in Bahrain- and out of the 3 top ‘bad actors’ right now- Bahrain is one of them [the other 2 are Yemen and Syria]. The argument could be made that the leaders of these countries have done just as bad- or even worse- than what Gadhaffi did. The U.S. has our 5th fleet docked right off the coast of Bahrain- we need them- that’s why our leaders have overlooked the serious oppression that the Bahrain leaders are foisting upon their people. In the last few weeks they have handed down some very serious sentences to the medical workers who simply helped tend to the wounded protestors. Many of these nurses and doctors are going to prison- for a long time- just because they did their job. The ruling autocracy in Bahrain is a division of Islam [I think the rulers are Sunni- the majority of the population Shiite- it’s been a while since I studied it- sometimes I forget which is which]. The ruling ‘minority’ do indeed oppress the majority population. Now- Bahrain does get lots of money- and help- from the U.S. having our fleet there- yet their army is not a strong- huge force. So what they have done is they hired ‘soldiers’ from Saudi Arabia- a fellow country- whose leaders are of the same religious division that the Bahrain leaders embrace- and these soldiers have come in and have been the security for the unpopular rulers. In Syria- just last night- new reports have come out- Assad [the Syrian leader] has sent his men into the hospitals- they are torturing the wounded protestors right in the hospitals. And in Yemen- the leader- Salleh- has returned from getting treatment from the burns he suffered during an assassination attempt- and he’s back in Yemen- also fighting against the protestors in his land. In Libya- we- along with NATO [primarily French and British warplanes] decided to team up with a side- a side that did take up arms against the leader from the West [Tripoli]. As I have watched this play out- and have looked at all the angles- I have come to the conclusion that the main reason we intervened there- and not in these other places- was because you had a very pubic threat made by Gadhaffi at the start- he and his troops were right outside Benghazi [the rebels stronghold in the east] and he did publicly threaten to go in and wipe them out. Now- at the same time- the Arab league and other Arab nations were calling for help- fine. But we should have said ‘okay- but you guys must pay for this’. All the very rich Arab nations that wanted us to intervene- we should have said ‘your oil rich nations will pick up the tab’. Also- if the criteria for us intervening like this- if we state- over and over again- that we are just doing a no fly zone- then we need to just do that. In Libya- we did indeed hunt the man down [if that’s what we think we should do- fine- but we must say so]. And if our public statements are saying something different- then we are doing wrong. I do hope and pray for all of my friends in these nations- I want very much for all the people in these nations to have freedom- and I want for us in the U.S. to make it plain- we want freedom for the woman and the Christians too- even if the majority vote for Shariah- that still is not acceptable- we want no religious rule that will oppress woman and Christians. Yes- there are some woman who choose to live under Shariah- but the majority of women in these countries want freedom- and if we are going to ‘help’ these nations like we did in Libya- then we need to have some agreements ready to sign- right at the start. We don’t want to ‘liberate’ another Arab country- to find out that the new leaders are already calling for Shariah law- in my mind- that’s not liberation. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com

Important historical people - church history

IMPORTANT HISTORICAL FIGURES [from church history] -[1462] ANSELM- Over the next few months I will do some brief overviews on important historical figures from church history. They will be under a separate section after the same name. Anselm was born in Italy in the year 1033, he eventually became a very influential church teacher and is famous for a few things; he came up with an argument for the existence of God called ‘the Ontological argument’ ontology is a word that means the nature of being. His idea went like this ‘Because there is no other greater conceivable being than God, that means God must exist’ in so many words he said because humans have this conscious belief in God as the greatest being, that therefore he must be that being. I’ll admit when I first read this argument I had some difficulties with it, I think you can find problems with it. But he nevertheless introduced it and it has become one of the classical apologetic arguments for God’s existence. The second major teaching that Anselm gave us was the teaching on the Atonement; Anselm taught that Jesus died to ransom man back to God, the penalty of death was a penalty paid to God. You say ‘what’s so new about that’? Many other church teachers taught that Jesus died to pay a ransom to the devil, that at the fall of man satan gained dominion over man and that Jesus death purchased us back from satan. Though there is some truth to man being under the dominion of satan after the fall, yet Anselm was ‘more right’ in the way he approached it. As a matter of fact His teaching eventually became the norm for the church. Anselm introduced Reason into the argument for the existence of God. Many teachers used scripture and appealed to the church fathers to prove the reality of God, Anselm was one of the first to lean heavily on logic when arguing for Gods existence. He is considered one of the greats of church history and we still benefit from the influence of Anselm to this day. [1469] AQUINAS, THOMAS- Thomas is considered to be one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. Born in Naples around 1225, he studied in Cologne under the Dominican order. During Thomas lifetime there was a rediscovery of the ancient writings of the philosopher Aristotle. Thomas would write commentaries on the philosophy of Aristotle and he would attempt to introduce reason into the arguments to prove the existence of God. He was a follower of that form of Christian teaching called ‘scholasticism’ this method used reason and logical debate to arrive at truth. Other scholars would reject this method [Bonaventure] they felt that using these rationale methods was a contradiction to faith. Thomas would become famous for his ‘five ways’ also referred to as Natural Theology. Thomas taught that there were 5 basic ways man could examine the natural created order and come to a rational belief in the existence of God; Thomas taught that the first cause of all things had to be God, you logically needed a first ‘causer’ to start the ball rolling [prime mover]. John Duns Scotus was a contemporary of Aquinas and he disagreed with the scholastic method. Scotus would become famous among the Franciscans; Aquinas would be famous among the Dominicans. Today many Catholic scholars pride themselves in being ‘Thomistic’ in their thought. Thomas also spoke much about ‘just war’ theory, originally introduced by Augustine. He taught that the means of war had to be just in order for the war itself to be ‘justified’; in today’s wars [Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan] I believe the use of unmanned drone attacks that kill civilians can be considered an unjust method. Thomas’ great works are Summa Contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae, Thomas is called the ‘angelic doctor’ of the Catholic faith. [1486] ARIUS- a priest from Egypt who would challenge the deity of Jesus in the 4th century. Arius taught that Jesus was the Son of God, but not eternally the Son. He said Jesus was a created being whom the father ‘bestowed’ son ship upon. He taught that Jesus was ‘like God’ but not God. The emperor Constantine would call the famous council of Nicaea in 325 a.d. and the council would agree with Athanasius and say that the Son and the Father were of ‘the same substance’ [homoousios] and Arius’s belief would be rejected. The debate would still rage on thru out the century as Constantine would die and the new emperor from the east would hold to ‘Arian’ views. Eventually Orthodoxy would win out and Arianism would be rejected by the majority of believers. I should note that many of the oriental churches would go the way of Arianism till this day; some of these churches are not like the modern cults that we would automatically reject, but they do hold to beliefs that Orthodox Christianity has rejected. As I have written about before, it’s easy to see how various believers have struggled with these issues over the years, some of the ways people express things can be deemed heresy a little too quickly in my view. There are believers who express the deity of Jesus in ways that some Arians express it, and they are not full Arians! The point being, yes- Arian went too far in his belief that Jesus was a created being, Johns gospel refutes this belief strongly [as well as many other portions of scripture] but too say that Jesus was/is the full expression of the father, because he ‘came out from God’ is also in keeping with scripture. Today we should be familiar with the issues and also use much grace when labeling different groups of believers; and we should strive for a unity in the Spirit as much as possible. As believers we accept the full deity of Christ, one who is of the ‘same substance’ of the father- true God from true God. He who has seen the Son has seen the father- Jesus said to Phillip ‘I have been with you a long time, if you see and know me, you have seen and known my father’ Jesus is God come down in the flesh to dwell among men, the true Immanuel, God with us. [1567] FRIEDRICH SCHLEIERMACHER [and Hitchens] - Okay, before I get too far behind in our study of Modernity- let’s do another post. F.S. [the guy above- don’t want to keep writing the name] was one of the most influential thinkers/theologians to come at the turn of the 19th century. He too challenged the sterile rationality of Enlightenment thinkers- and tried to craft a way to look at religion that was unique. Instead of religion being this dry approach to the world and existence as mediated thru mans senses [natural religion- Kant, etc.] he said religion was actually meant to be this experience that man has as he interacts with the whole of creation- an ‘intuition- sense’ that is more than something we can dissect and put under the microscope of reason. F.S. was a sort of go between- he was both trained in academia- a true intellectual- and also a ‘man of the cloth’. He knew the arguments that some of the Romantics made against ‘dead religion’ and he challenged their rejection of religion and wrote the famous book ‘On religion- speeches to its cultured despisers’ in 1799. The book was targeted toward his fellow academics in the universities of Germany who scoffed at religion- he appealed to their sense of art and beauty as true Romantics- and made the case that true religion is ‘the sense and taste for the infinite’ that is religion can be an expression [above reason] that seeks to embrace this sense of the infinite, this ‘feeling’ in man that there is more to life than meets the eye- and you can be ‘cultured’ and religious at the same time. Okay- actually this is a good spot to jump into more of my critique of Christopher Hitchens book ‘god is not great’. Hitchens fits in good with the ‘cultured despisers’ that F.S. was writing to. I have found some points of agreement with Hitchens; he sees the Catholic church’s stance on no condom use as dangerous- especially in places like Africa- because condoms can be an effective way to reduce the AIDS virus. As a Protestant, I am not against condom use/contraceptives- but the flaw in Hitchens argument is he presents the case in a way that says ‘see- if it weren’t for the church’s teaching on condoms- Africa would not be in this epidemic’. Point of fact- one of the major ways AIDS is spreading on the continent is thru the vocation of male prostitution and other promiscuous type lifestyles. Would Hitchens have us believe that as the male prostitutes are getting ready to ‘go to work’ that they look in the drawer- see the condom and say ‘geez- I would really like to use a condom- but my strict adherence to Catholic doctrine will not allow me to do it!’ The reality is the church’s teaching on condom use- if practiced in accordance with ALL THE OTHER TEACHINGS of the church- would not increase the spread of aids [the church teaches monogamous only relationships- these relationships are not contributing to the spread of the virus in Africa]. Hitchens also has an entire chapter on pig meat! Yes, I’ve heard Hitchens speak over the years- and for some reason he has this obsession with pig meat! Anyway he defends the poor pig- makes fun of the Jewish Kosher diet- and then proceeds to give his personal view on why pig meat became a ‘no- no’ to kosher Jews. He actually believes [for real!] that pigs taste and act so much like humans [their intelligence- and their screams when being slaughtered] that the Jews associated eating pig with eating humans [and Hitchens even describes the taste of pig meat tasting like human meat- no joke!] he believes this is the secret reason Jews don’t eat pigs. He also defends pig meat as being healthy. Okay- I’m not a pig meat aficionado- but being I am a student of the bible [including the Old Testament] I can assure you that the Jewish dietary laws of the Old Testament are in fact very healthy laws! For hundreds of years people did not know why pigs, shrimp, etc. were forbidden to be eaten by the Jewish people- and over time science has discovered that these meats were indeed unclean. The prohibition against certain sea food- later these types of fish were found out to be scavengers, they are the ‘trash eaters’ that keep the oceans clean- that’s why they are unhealthy. Pigs- Hitchens favorite meat- pig meat is not good for you [in general- I’m a very happy pig eater- on pizza- with eggs- out of a bag with spices on it- pork rinds] because the digestive tract of the pig is very short, what they eat ‘becomes’ part of their flesh/life without going thru a long digestive process- not like the cow who ‘chews the cud’ [multiple processes of digestion]. Basically pigs are in fact a ‘less healthy’ meat than other types of meat. All in all Hitchens- once again- is just misinformed about stuff- lots of stuff. Geez- I wrote this short critique from basic knowledge gained thru out my life- believe me I did not have to Google ‘is pig meat clean’. So once again we see the ‘brilliant mind’ of Hitchens at work. I’m reminded of an article I read a few years back- it was a column by Maureen Dowd [the liberal columnist]. She gave her conservative brother a free shot to use her column to blast liberals. He went at it- in pure tea party fashion. As he went down the list- hitting all the favorite sore spots- he got to a line where he spoke of his senator- obviously a liberal- he simply said ‘Sheldon Whitehouse- you sir- are an idiot’ and that was that. As I continue to read Hitchens book- this line comes to mind. [1572] HEGEL [modernity study cont.] Hegel is considered to be one of the most influential thinkers of the modern era [along with Kant]. Hegel’s view of God and religion laid the groundwork [with Kant and a few others] for liberal theology. Hegel taught an idea about God that said in the beginning God was this ‘undifferentiated spirit’ [impersonal] who ‘separated’ himself from himself- in this Divine separating part of him became cosmos, world, man- in the history and development of man, man comes to self consciousness about himself- about God- and in this process- God himself discovers who he is too! Yikes! Obviously Hegel’s view did not sit well with historic Christianity. Hegel was an idealist [like Plato]. If you remember earlier in this study I taught how idealism is the belief that ultimate reality exists in ideas or forms- the reality of horse or chair is first an idea/invisible form- then what we see is sort of a second creation. Many of the early Greek philosophers held to this view [Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, etc.]. Hegel believed that because ‘God’ comes to this self realization of who he is thru the development of human society thru time- therefore he saw the Divine in human community [government]- primarily expressed thru Protestant forms of Christianity- he divinized the state in a way. When we study the various thinkers of the modern period [1700’s-2000] it is hard to separate their strong views of religion and God from their thought- but many modern teachers of philosophy have a tendency to skip over the religious ideas of these men- often in the university setting these thinkers are just looked at as philosophers- and their obvious religious thought is kind of glanced over as ‘a symptom of the times they lived in’. This is a big mistake in my view- while I obviously do not embrace Hegel's ideas about God [he basically taught a form of Pantheism- a religious belief that says God is the creation- not just the creator] yet it is important to see the role Hegel will play in the influence of the higher critics that arose out of the German universities of the 19th century. Many of the modern religious thinkers were influenced heavily by Hegel [Rudolph Bultman] and his ideas- in various forms- will continue to inform religious thought right up until the 20-21st centuries. I guess a good example to sum up Hegel would be the program I was watching last night on Link T.V. It was a discussion amongst various religious groups about God and how we should strive to know and understand and respect the different beliefs people have [I agree]. Yet as the various people shared their views- it was easy to see the eastern beliefs and how much they differed from traditional Christianity. At one point they gave a quote from a Catholic priest [Those of you who know me realize I consider fellow Catholics Christians and am a student of Catholic as well as Protestant Christianity]. He said there were 3 basic realities; 1- the other [God] 2- we are the other [we are one with the divine] 3- there is no other [double yikes!!]. Obviously this well meaning priest is not in good standing with the teachings of his own church! I don’t share this to be mean- I think in today’s world it is vital for Christians to engage in interfaith discussions- to respect other peoples beliefs and to work with other religions [Islam, Judaism, Hindu- etc.] but we don’t want to confuse people about what the historic Christian faith teaches about God. In Christian teaching [Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox] God is an eternal personal being- not just some ‘undifferentiated spirit’. God is not ‘us’. He made us, and the creation- he reveals himself to man thru creation- his Spirit does indwell those who believe in him and the redemption of Jesus Christ and his Cross- and God knew who he was- long before we knew who we were! So some of the deep thinkers have espoused ideas that do not sit well with Christian tradition- never the less it’s good to study and be familiar with the various thinkers of the modern era and to be able to refute [in a nice way!] their errors and share with them the truth of the gospel. As I study these various thinkers-I’m reminded of a term I learned when first moving to Texas from N.J. As a Yankee living in the south- I was often told that here in the south we don’t ‘fix it if it aint broken’. And over the years I have learned that there is much truth to this statement- thru trial and error. One time I bought this 1976 datsun 280 ZX. It was a used car- paid around a thousand for it. I liked the car- ran fast and all. So one day I get this bright idea [yes-I am going to fix something that ‘aint broke’] and decide to install a backup oil pressure gauge- you know just in case the original one goes out. So I put the new gauge in [cluster gauge- shows 3 different readings] and every now and then I noticed the gauge would show no pressure! The first time this happened I panicked and pulled over and realized that the pressure was okay- it was the design of the gauge- the tube kept falling off the oil sending unit [the thing the gauge hooks up to]. So one day while driving home- sure enough the gauge reads zero pressure- O well I will fix it when I get home. I never ‘got home’. The tube did fall off- but to my surprise all the oil managed to shoot out of the small tube during the ride- yes- I blew my engine! So as I read Hegel and some of the other thinkers in this study- and some of the theories they came up with- I appreciate their efforts to inform modern thinkers- to give themselves over to the field of philosophy- but in the end I get the sense that they are trying to fix something that ‘aint broke’. [1586] FREUD-NIETZSCHE AND MARX- Today I need to do a little more on our study of Modernity [the thinkers who have influenced Western culture/thought from the 1700’s- 2000’s]. At this time I have 3 separate studies I have started on-line; Classics of literature, Great Christian thinkers of history, and Modernity. As time rolls on- I will gradually post all new studies once a year in a monthly post [most of the time it will be February] and as I update them you can read the most recent ones from the most recent years. Okay- I am skipping a bunch of stuff to jump into the thinkers who represent the most popular forms of atheism- Marx, Nietzsche and Freud. But first we need to take a look at Ludwig Feuerbach. L.F. [Ludwig Feuerbach] laid the groundwork for these other more famous rejecters of God and Christianity. During the enlightenment period it was rare for the critics of religion to hold an outright atheistic view- men like Hume and Voltaire- though true critics of the church- did not come out openly and deny the existence of God. It was also difficult [impossible?] to hold professorships in the universities if you were a doubter of God. Both Hume and Voltaire did not hold positions. F.S. was Hegelian in a way [he followed Hegel’s idea that ‘God’ comes to self consciousness thru the development of humanity] but F.S. was a Materialist- Hegel was an Idealist. Remember- idealism is the philosophical system that sees reality existing in forms/ideas first- then later comes the material thing. The great ancient philosophers- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle were all Idealists. F.S. espoused the idea that reality starts with the material existence of man first- and thru religion man ‘projects’ the idea of God/spirit into society- and as man and Christianity develop [all good things for F.S.] that the ultimate truth that we learn on this journey is that man is really all there is- his ‘phase’ of God and religion were simply necessary stages for man to arrive at this self conscious state in which he finally realizes that man is all there is- God was a ‘crutch’- a needed one- but never the less simply a projection of mans mind until he came to full maturity. For F.S. ‘theology [the study of God] is anthropology’ [the study of man]. So in this sense he follows Hegel- the development of man and society is the development of God- but Hegel starts with spirit projecting ‘himself’ into creation- and F.S. starts with man/matter first- and man projects this idea of God/spirit as a secondary reality. The philosopher Paul Ricoeur describes F.S. and his disciples as holding to a system of belief called ‘the hermeneutics of suspicion’. This meaning that religion and God are not just things that seem to be irrational [according to certain enlightenment critics] but that religion itself is a mask that adds to the suffering of man- that man is under the dominion of false ideas- ideas that have been developed by those who want power over others- and these taskmasters use religion as a tool to oppress the ignorant masses. This idea will come to full bloom in the mind of Marx. Marx referred to religion as a ‘false consciousness’ that kept man in servitude to others who ruled over them- and religion itself was the tool that kept these ignorant masses in check. Nietzsche thought religion had its roots in weakness and sickness- and that the most decadent used it to control those who were actually more moral than the leaders. Freud saw religion as an effect of repression and the actual cause of mental conflict and guilt- he blamed religion for all the psychosis that man is afflicted with in life. The next few posts in this study [whenever I get to them?] I will try and develop all 3 of these famous thinkers ideas- show the errors in their own thinking- and the aftermath of generations who have tried/fleshed out their philosophies- and have found them dreadfully lacking in the end. [1623] CHRIST CHURCH? A few weeks back I was going to write a post from the words of St. Peter found in the New Testament ‘The time has come that judgment must begin at the house of God [Christ’s church= house of God] and if it starts there- what will the outcome be for the rest of the world?’ [paraphrased it]. Right after the ‘thought’ the major events off the coast of Japan hit and we have this trilogy of disasters to deal with [Earthquake, Tsunami, Nuclear meltdown]. I did find it ‘strange’ that the recent events started with Christ Church New Zealand- and seemed to spread from there. I heard a Geologist the other night- he had previously predicted the earthquake that hit Ca. during the World Series a few years ago. He said the sign of the dead fish recently washing up in Ca. was not a coincidence- he said the fish can sense a change in the earth’s magnetic field [prior to an earthquake] and that in Japan these fish kills are actually called ‘earthquake fish’. Wow. You do hear lots of talking heads during these types of events- yet it would be nice to know the truth on these types of things. The last year or 2 we had earthquakes along the Pacific Rim; Chile, New Zealand and of course Japan. If you look on a map you see the Pacific Ocean and you can draw a circle around the perimeter- the part that affects us is the West coast- so they already have a run on Iodide pills [fear of the radiation crossing the Pacific from Japan] and some are predicting an earthquake. The other night I caught a quick news flash of Saudi Arabia sending troops into Bahrain to fight back against the protestors- as it flashed by quickly- I said ‘geez- this is a major event- and it’s getting lost in the media frenzy’. Then O’Reilly spent 15 minutes on a real important life changing story- a stripper who works with a snake- the snake bit the woman on her breast- the snake died from the silicone from the breast implant. Another news show spent almost the whole hour on sports- even the president did another March madness prediction- at a time when the world has protestors in the streets- who thought we would help them [Libya] and they are actually saying ‘Obama- where are you- where’s Bush?’ Now- whatever your view is on intervening [no fly zone- etc.] the fact is if the feeling around the globe is that we are not taking these things seriously enough- then the image of the president doing March Madness picks does not look good. So what do we make of it all? When Peter said ‘judgment must 1st start at Gods house’ he of course was not directly talking about the city of Christ Church, New Zealand. Yet in a prophetic sort of way- these types of things can be signs of what’s to come. One of the important developments has been the fact that the Arab/Persian nations have indeed chosen to ignore the pleas from the U.S. to go easy on the protestors- and they simply have said ‘screw you- look at what you did to Egypt- we are gonna go the Gadhafi route’ [to a degree]. Saudi Arabia crossing into Bahrain- a small Persian Gulf nation where we have lot of troops stationed [and the 5th fleet docked] is a major development. The markets [both Asian and U.S.] have fallen over the fears that the Nuke disaster is already as bad as Chernobyl- and the unrest in the Middle East and Africa is not getting better. So we pray- we show the world that we don’t just throw our hands up and say ‘the end of the world is here’ but we also recognize it is in mans nature to deny the reality of judgment- the reality that mankind faces times where things build up and the planet suffers for it. In the 19th century there was a movement in Christian theology called ‘Liberal theology’- not liberal in politics- but a whole genre of teaching/thought that challenged a lot of the ‘old time’ beliefs [like original sin] and focused on the ability of modern man to rise above the ignorance of the past [even in religious thought] and man was on the road to a true Utopian society that would never fail. This belief was strong- both in the universities of Germany as well as in the politics of the Western world. Then you had the world wars- 8 million people killed in the first one- and 50 million in the 2nd one. Men like Karl Barth [a Swiss theologian- teacher] would challenge the liberal view of mans ‘inner divinity’ and he would blast the Christian world with his famous ‘the epistle to the Romans’ his commentary on Paul’s famous treatise- released in 1918. Though Barth is what some describe as 'Neo- Orthodox’ [the strong Reformed teachers don’t appreciate Barth very much] yet he did bring the church back to the biblical doctrines of original sin and mans inability to ‘save himself’. Barth saw the reality of the WW1 and rejected the Utopian belief that man was so advanced that he would reach for the sky- and grab it! Today we see lots of shaking in the world- some are focused on March madness- some find it profitable to do a story on a stripper- we need to keep our eyes [and bibles] open- mankind is in need of God- man has gone thru stages where he thought the ‘old belief’ in God would fall away- to the contrary- the govt’s of man [apart from God] seem to be the thing that’s falling away. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1696] LITTLE BOY LOST The other day we saw the tragic story of the little Jewish boy who went missing on his way home from summer camp. This day he was without a ride, and his mother thought it would be okay for him to walk home the few blocks. After he didn’t show up she called the police. They eventually discovered that he had been abducted by a member of their own community- and was tragically killed. The Jewish community in this area of Brooklyn is known as an Hasidic community. My mom was born and raised in Brooklyn- and as a boy I remember going to the city and seeing these strange looking guys with funny looking hair and dress. This community dates back around 2300 years or so. During the Intertestemental period [the time between the last Old Testament book- Malachi- and the book of Matthew] you have quite an interesting history. It was during these 400 years that we saw the rise of the Greek world under Alexander the Great. In the Greek world you had some very influential philosophers; Socrates most famous student was Plato- Plato’s most famous student was Aristotle- and his most famous student was Alexander the Great. Alexander sought to implement the ideals of his teacher- he wanted to unify the known world under one people/culture- a belief that Aristotle held- a sort of ‘unified theory’ [Einstein] that would seek to bring all learning/knowledge together under one supreme [Divine] principle. Alexander’s experiment was called Hellenization- which was the Greek worlds attempt to impose Greek culture/language on all their conquered enemies- and at the same time allow them to hold on to the their own culture too. Alexander did amazingly well at this experiment- at the young age of around 24 he had accomplished most of his mission. The cities were a sort of composite of Greek culture mixed in with their own culture- this is where we get the modern term Cosmopolitan. Alexander died young and his kingdom was divided between 4 generals- one of them- Ptolemy- would himself make it into the history books because of his keen intellect. The system of cosmology developed under him would last [and work!] until some 17-18 hundred years later when it was overthrown by the Copernican revolution during the time of Copernicus and Galileo. Alexander’s generals would do their best to carry on the system of Hellenization- and other nations generals would keep the system going even after Greece fell. One of them- Octavian [Roman general] makes it into the history books by another famous name- Julius Caesar. Alexander established a great library in the Egyptian city of Alexandria [named after him] and many of the great writings were preserved during this time. The writings of Aristotle would be discovered again during the time of Thomas Aquinas [13th century Catholic genius/scholar] and this would lead to Scholasticism [a peculiar school of thought developed/revived under Aquinas] and give rise to the Renaissance. Okay- before the birth of Christ- the Jewish people resisted the imposing of Greek culture upon them- you had the very famous resistance under the Jewish Maccabean revolt- where the Jews rose up and fought the wicked ruler Antiochus Epiphanies- and till this day the Jewish people celebrate this victory at Hanukah. Eventually Rome would conquer the Greek kingdom and the Jewish people were allowed to keep their culture and temple- yet they were still a people oppressed. Hassidism [getting back to the beginning] developed during this attempt to not lose their Jewish roots- the Pharisees of Jesus day came from this movement. Alexander was pretty successful in his attempt to unify language- even though the bible [New Testament] was written by Jewish writers- living under Roman rule- yet the original bible is written in the Greek language. Bible scholars till this day study the Greek language to find the truest meaning of the actual words in the bible [I have a Greek Lexicon sitting right in front of me]. It would take a few centuries before a Latin version appeared on the scene [the great church father- Jerome- would produce the Latin Vulgate]. Yet it would be the re- discovery and learning of the Greek texts [under men like Erasmus- and the Protestant Reformers] that would lead to the Reformation [16th century] and other movements in church history. Of course the tragedy of the little boy lost is very sad- and the roots of Jewish culture are noble and good- Pope Benedict refers to the Jewish people as ‘our elder brother’ because of the Jewish roots of Christianity. The original church was made up of Jewish believers- people who were waiting for the Messiah for centuries [actually Millennia] and they were convinced that this Jesus- this Jewish itinerant prophet- was indeed the one that was to come. When you read the sermons in the book of Acts- you hear Peter, Paul- and especially Stephen [ Acts 7] relating the person of Jesus to the prophecies that were spoken about the Messiah in the Old Testament- these early Jewish believers were convinced- in no uncertain terms- that Jesus was the Messiah who was foretold to come. At the Jewish trial of Jesus- the high priest asks ‘are you claiming to be God’s Son’ Jesus- one of the few times he did this- said ‘you said it’. The priest throws up his hands and says ‘what more need do we have of witnesses- he himself has said he claims deity’. In John’s gospel we read when Jesus said ‘Abraham saw my day- and was gad’. They asked him ‘how could Abraham see your day- you’re not even 50 years old’ Jesus replied ‘BEFORE ABRAHAM WAS- I AM’ They were incensed- the words I AM were the words used to describe God. The bible says they took up stones to kill him. The great Christian writer- C.S. Lewis- spent many years as an atheist- yet as an intellectual he read all the great writings of history- and he said that no matter how hard he [and other atheists] tried to reject God- that history was filled with writings- both pro and con- about God. As a matter of fact- there was no other underlying theme- some scarlet thread- woven thru out the entire history of man- that even came close to this testimony of the reality of God. Many agnostics of Lewis’ day said ‘we believe Jesus was a good person- even a Rabbi- Prophet- great messenger of God’ Lewis said Jesus did not leave this option open to us. Jesus said he was indeed the Son of God- Deity come down- born from a virgin- crucified- died and was buried. On the 3dr day he rose again- according to the scriptures- he is seated at the right hand of God and will come again- to judge the living and the dead. Yes kingdoms have come and gone- great men and despots have either honored this Jesus- or despised him- but today we still talk about Jesus- King of Kings and Lord of Lords- we have only one option- either we confess him as Lord- or we call him a madman- which one will you choose? [1698] PEOPLE LAUGHING- PEOPLE SINGING- A MAN SELLING ICE CREAM These past few days I have been reading scriptures on the influence of the church in the nations- that is God’s original purpose for the church- to have a people/nation that he could reveal his glory though. This morning I read Zechariah chapter 8- it talks about God restoring Jerusalem and that there will be old men and women dwelling in it- little boys and girls playing in the streets once again. The impression you get is a sort of ‘block party’ atmosphere- all types of people enjoying life once gain- after a season of captivity. As I read the verse on the old men and women- I thought of Aunt Bee. Bee was the aunt of one of our original church members. Emmet [Senior- I have also talked about his son on the site- Jr.] became a church member early on. I don’t remember if I met him while preaching at the county jail- or through Elias- another friend who struggled with addiction. Both of them were long time drug addicts. I would pick up Emmet at his Aunt’s house every week for church- and just visit him every so often. The ‘church’ was a little home group I started from scratch. I fixed up my 2 car garage- and the guys I met from the streets- or at the jail- would become the core group. Over time Aunt Bee- who raised Emmet- started coming to our meetings- and as an older lady- in her 70’s- she would tell me she was learning the bible for the first time- she really liked it. I was basically filling the slot that she missed out on- the bible study aspect of Christianity. Bee was a good Catholic lady- and she told me her friends said ‘why do you go to brother Johns’ church- your Catholic’ she would tell them ‘because I learn things’. I never tried to ‘convert’ Bee- she stayed Catholic- and that was fine with me. Many Protestant bible churches do fill a need that some of the historic churches lack- simple bible study. Yet many of the Protestant ‘bible’ churches lack what the historic churches offer- a historic connection to traditional Christianity. During the Reformation of the 16th century- the Protestant reformers [who were all initially Catholic] fought with the Roman church over doctrinal issues- and during this fight the reformers stated a few main principles- one of which is called Sola Scriptura- which means ‘the bible alone’. What they meant by this was on issues where the church could not come to agreement with the dissenters- that at the end of the day- the bible would have the final say. Now- the common mistake many Protestants fall into- is thinking that this principle means ‘Solo Scriptura’ is a belief that all Christianity is simply a process of reading/organizing your life around the bible. That is the view that the bible is all there is. This is not the historic Protestant position- the reformers themselves [Calvin. Luther, etc.] referred often to the early writings of the church fathers [Augustine] in trying to prove their points. I have found it helpful over the years to spend time reading/hearing the voice of the historic church- as well as being up on the bible. The other day I moved a few books from my office into a shelf in the living room- I read an article on how people are selling books ‘by the inch’ just to decorate their homes. What types of books- that didn’t matter- they were just for show [ouch!] So I figured I’ll move the real McCoy- classics that I have read and re-read over the years. I was glad to see that I still had the Confessions of Saint Augustine- a classic from the 4th century. Augustine was a Catholic bishop from Hippo- North Africa. He is often associated with the doctrine of Predestination [which he did believe in] and is loved by many Catholics and Protestants alike. The major reformer who launched the reformation was Martin Luther- a German Augustinian monk- Luther was also a strong believer in the doctrine of predestination- though its common to associate the doctrine with John Calvin, Luther too was a strong believer in it. One day Aunt Bee shared a story with me- she used to visit her daughter who lived in Alaska- her daughter sort of felt like her cousin Emmet was taking advantage of her mom. I was familiar with the environment- my older sister- who has also been a drug addict for many years- has lived with my mom her whole life. When addicted people live with their parents [aunts] as they age- they fall into an environment where they manipulate the guardian to get what they want [money- borrow the car, etc..] So Aunt Bee’s daughter felt like Emmet took advantage of her mom. Aunt Bee told me about an Indian she saw one time while visiting Alaska- he was panning for gold in one of the freezing streams- and was wearing an Indian loin cloth and was in the ice cold water. She said how interesting it was to see how other cultures learn to adapt to their environment. Bee was an educator- she taught at A&I university [Kingsville- Tx.] for many years [now called A&M] and her students were some of the most famous people in Texas- Senators and congress people. I found it interesting how an influential person like Bee- would wind up learning the bible from some Jersey boy- preaching in a garage [I was around 25 at the time]. Bee was a good person- she died many years ago- as has Emmet. Emmet eventually broke the drug habit and married another church member- Janie. She was s single mom with lots of kids- they made a very nice couple. Emmet died at around the age of 50- his liver went out- too many years of drugs eventually got to him. As a matter of fact- Elias- who I think first introduced me to Emmet- he eventually became a preacher and pastored his own church. He started with me- was the song leader and filled in on the days I had to work- and eventually took a position with a church called Victory Outreach- a ministry to addicts. One day while working at the fire house- I was riding on the ambulance that day and we got a call. As I got to the house- I realized it was Elias’s house- he had a brain aneurism that day- he went into a coma and died a few days later. I met Elias around 8 years earlier- preaching to him at the jail. Gave him his first bible- which he would always remind me about- and walked with him for a few years. He was ex-air force. He did at least 4 years before he got out and got hooked on hard drugs- mainline addict. We had lots of good times together- I see his boys every so many years when I venture into Bishop [a small city around 40 miles from where I live]. I think his wife- Janie- still lives there. The bible says Gods city [a symbol of the church] has old people having fun in the streets [the aunt Bee types] and little boys and girls playing in the streets [too many names to mention in this one- Elias & Janie alone had around 6 kids- Janie & Emmet too- different Janies!]. God’s church/family is a great one- it consists of the great church fathers [men like Augustine] and it extends to the little kids playing in the streets of some small town in South Texas- it even includes those who society has rejected- those who have failed many times in life- and they know it- more than anyone else. I read a verse the other day- in Psalms ‘sins prevail against us- yet you will save us from our transgressions’ I thank God that he helps people- people who have things that ‘prevail’ against them- he often uses these people to help others- Gods ways are sometimes very hard to understand- his ways are not ours. [1730] I HAVE PRAYED FOR YOU Let’s try and close the week with some bible stuff- I might hit on a few news stories that are important- but let’s start with some scripture. Today I had a good prayer time- If I get up at 3:30- and the morning is nice- it’s easy to pray for a few hours. On Friday [and Monday] I try to do a prayer routine that covers lots of stuff [world events, world leaders- yes I pray weekly for the president- and a bunch of other stuff]. I will walk the yard- and if there is no wind- then it’s kind of muggy- and it just seems like work. But this morning there was a nice wind- a higher ceiling for the clouds- and almost a full moon. Plus it’s raining as I write [I mean we have been in a drought!]. So it went well. Okay this week I read John 1 [as well as other stuff]. One morning I got up and couldn’t pray- and I remembered the verse where Jesus says ‘I have prayed for you’. I felt like the Lord was saying he took up the slack that day. The bible says Jesus is at the right hand of God and prays for us. Then the next day I was listening to a favorite radio preacher- and he quoted the whole verse- Jesus says to Peter 'Peter- satan has desired to have you- that he might sift you like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith fail not- and when you are turned again- strengthen your brothers’. This occurred near the end of the earthly ministry of Jesus- he spent 3 years with his men- and then it was time to leave. At this point Jesus is spending whole nights in prayer to God- struggling with the completion of his mission- praying things like ‘God- if it’s possible- let this thing go away- if not- let your will be done’. And it’s an ‘existential’ experience [if I remember- I’ll explain this before the post ends]. Yet during this time of struggle- at some point- the Father reveals something to the Son- he tells Jesus ‘you friend Peter- there has been a request made on his life. Satan has come to me for permission to test him- I am going to allow him to go through some very difficult stuff’. So during this tough time for Jesus- in the midst of his own personal turmoil- his soul ‘being poured out unto death’. He has only a moment with Peter- and he sees what is going to happen- and he simply relates to Peter what God had said. In the book of Job we read how one day the angels came before God- and satan came too. He asked God for permission to go after Job- and for reasons that we don’t always understand- God said ‘okay’. So in Peter’s case- this was destined to happen- he will be broken over the thing- probably hate himself for what he will do- yet it’s going to happen. In John chapter 1 the religious leaders come to John the Baptist- they ask him who he is- sort of like ‘John- who do you think you are- what’s the end game here?’ John responds that he is not the Messiah- he is just a voice in the wilderness- preparing the way for the Lord. John quotes the prophet Isaiah when he says ‘the voice of one’. They also ask him ‘are you that prophet that was supposed to come first’. This verse is found in the Old Testament book of Malachi. In chapter 3 the prophet says ‘the messenger of the covenant will come suddenly to his temple’ and it speaks of Christ and John. But when they ask John ‘are you that prophet’ John says no. Was he the one who was to be the forerunner prophet? Actually yes- he was. How do we know this? Jesus himself will later testify that John indeed is the prophet who was to come ‘in the power and the spirit of Elijah’. So this is one of those cases in the N.T. where you seem to have a contradiction. I think if we read carefully there really isn’t a contradiction- John might have really not understood that he was ‘that prophet’. John- like Peter- Like Jesus- like all the other ones in this story- they are having real life struggles- tough things they are dealing with- and in John’s case he might have thought ‘that prophet- are you kidding me- I’m barley surviving this thing’. Now- we will read how John gets himself into some hot water. Not only is he preaching about The Lamb of God- he starts saying ‘Herod [the Roman ‘king’ figure that was over the Jewish people] you have take your brother Phillips wife- you can’t have her!’ Herod was the son of Herod the great- we read about ‘the great’ as being the king at the time of Jesus birth- he was the one who had all the babies killed because he heard that Christ was born and he wanted to wipe out the competition- this Messiah who would be ‘The King of the Jews’. The funny thing was- Herod wasn’t a Jew. Yet he saw himself as the actual Messiah to the Jews- Rome gave Herod [the great] this figure head authority- and it literally went to his head. Now- Herod died soon after the slaughter of the kids- and his son would ‘reign in his place’. This Herod would be the king at the time of Jesus earthly ministry. This is the king who John the Baptist was preaching against. One time they came to Jesus- to kind of intimidate him- they said ‘you know- Herod knows about you- he will get you’. Jesus- you know- we are supposed to respect authority- right? He says ‘go tell that fox- that today and tomorrow I do healings and great works- and on the 3rd day I will be perfected’. Perfected means ‘come to maturity’. This was a reference to his death and resurrection on the ‘3rd day’. So Johns out there preaching against what he sees as corruption in govt. and one day they finally had enough- Herod puts John in prison. Now John’s sitting there in prison- right at the time of this great ministry of Jesus. I mean Jesus is healing people left and right- raising the dead. I mean John must have felt vindicated- right? John’s sitting in jail- and day after day- in this prison- he starts to think ‘geez- I have been stuck here for a while now- I mean I was the forerunner- Jesus said that about me- I’m the voice of one- the guy who proclaimed the truth when no one else was willing to take the risk- what the hell am I doing here- sitting in prison!’ John must have thought he was getting a bad deal. He sends 2 of his disciples to ask Jesus ‘are you the one- or should we look for another?’ Was he having doubts? Come on- Jesus is raising the dead for heaven’s sake- John was basically saying to Jesus ‘are you the one? If so- why am I still in the damn jail!’ John was being sifted. Peter will be- Job was too. For some strange reason- this is how things work. The bread has to be broken before it can feed people. Of course we know the rest of the story- Herod's daughter in law will do a dance for the king- and the wife will get the head of John the Baptist on a platter- she got tired of hearing him. Soren Kierkegaard- the 19th century Christian/Philosopher is considered to be the Father of Existentialism. Existentialism is the philosophy that says you start with ‘existence’ that is you begin the journey with real life passion- real interaction in life. Your failures and your high points- all these real things we experience in life- these are the things that shape us- that make us real. Soren lived in a day where the Danish state church was dead and formal- and he spoke out against the dead lukewarm orthodoxy of his day. One time he would say when he got tired of all the religious formalism- the fake plastic face we all put on so other people can’t really see our struggles- he said he would go read the Old Testament- the stories of murder and adultery and covering up crimes- he said these were real stories- of failure and success- of sitting in jail and thinking you might get out- but instead you get your head taken off. These are the real stories of some of the most hallowed saints of history- yes- human frailty runs right through it all- like some scarlet thread. One time Jesus said to Peter ‘I have prayed for you’ that sounds great when it stands alone- but when you see it in the context of the whole verse- then you realize that you just might be in for something that you never expected would happen- you might be getting ready to go through a real existential moment- face to face with your own failures and humanity. Peter will later write ‘beloved- when you go thru trials- don’t think it strange. Realize your brothers are also going through them’ and ‘it is not only our privilege to believe on the name of Jesus- but it is also our privilege to suffer with him’. Yes Peter went on to get past the sifting- the memory of being the disciple who denied Jesus. I mean Peter was the only one who walked on water [ besides Jesus]- he raised the dead in the book of Acts- how we remember him? We remember the day he got sifted like wheat. It’s not easy to forget those days- and even harder to live through them. [1740] THE UNEXAMINED LIFE IS NOT WORTH LIVING- PLATO. I caught a show the other night on Link TV. It was a spin off from this famous Platonic quote- it was called ‘The examined life’. They interviewed some of the most prominent philosophers of our day. Cornell West, Peter Singer- a few others [I think the name is Singer?] I found it interesting that Singer- who specializes in Ethics- tried to make the case that you really don’t need religion/God in order to do ethics- all you need is to work from the basic principle that says ‘try to treat others like you too want to be treated- and then you will have a foundation for morals’. Now- I caught the contradiction right away- do you see it? Who is he quoting? This is the great moral principle- given to us by Jesus himself- called the Golden Rule. This actual principle- in Theology [the study of God] we call Natural/Moral law. The Argument is based on the reality that all people [not animals- Singer- get to it in a moment] have within them this moral compass [Romans 1] and that this in itself is proof that there must be a higher moral being- a transcendent being- who has put it in man. I just found it funny that Singer- who is supposed to be a prominent atheist/agnostic thinker- would fall flat on his face like this. Singer advocates for legal Rights for animals- and has also argued that viability of the new born baby should determine its personhood- he says that we should be able to abort babies up until around the age of 1- because they can’t really survive on their own until that age. Sad. Okay- why do Philosophy- or Physics- or any other of a number of schools of thought? Because too often Christians abandon these fields- and then when someone from that field says ‘this is why we don’t need God’ we usually have no answer. When we think about philosophy- most of us think about the 3 great big shots- Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. While it is true that these guys were the major guys at right around the 5th century B.C.- yet we actually date the beginning point to the early 6TH Century B.C. to a man by the name of Thales. Thales accurately predicted a solar eclipse in the year 585 B.C. and he gained notoriety because of this. Thales was the first Greek thinker to grapple with the idea that there must be one reality that makes up all things. He would argue that Water was this element- that contained being and Motion and life. Many of these pre Socratic thinkers were obsessed with the idea of motion- where did it come from? Thales observed that streams and rivers- and all types of water sources flow- so to him this was a logical source of motion. This idea- that only one element makes up all reality- is called Monism. Monism is not be confused with Monotheism- the belief in one God- Monism actually leads to another religious view- called Pantheism- the belief that God is everything- and everything is God. This is not the historic Christian view. Now- the pre Socratic guys- Parmenides, Zeno, Heraclitus- these guys would challenge Thales view that water was the main thing. Some said ‘maybe it’s Air’ another said ‘Earth’ and some Fire. These 4 elements [Earth, Air [wind] Fire and Water- are the 4 basic elements of the early Greek philosophers. We see these things in the naming of musical groups [Earth Wind and Fire] as well as the themes in movies [fantastic 4- based on 4 basic elements- powers]. Now- one of the thinkers said ‘wait- maybe the reality behind all things is not any one of these elements- maybe there is a 5th dimension [another musical name- and also the famous Bruce Willis flick- called the 5th Element] a Boundless being- outside of time and matter- maybe this 5ht element is the foundation for all things. Of course this view would lead to the more developed view of God that Socrates and his followers would embrace- an early view of God- much like the later Christian view [absent the Trinity]. By the way- the view that 2 or more elements make up all reality is called Pluralism- not to be confused with religious Pluralism [that all religions lead to the same God]. The most common form of Pluralism is Dualism [2 realities equally true] but all non Monists who embrace more than one reality are Pluralists. Okay- maybe a bit much with the 10 dollar words- but it might spark the interest of some. The church has debated for centuries on whether or not Philosophy should be taught to Christians. One of the early church fathers- Tertullian- said no- his famous quote is ‘what does Jerusalem have to do with Athens’. Meaning what does Philosophy have in common with Christianity [Athens- Greece was the seat of philosophy in Jesus’ day]. For the most part- the early church fathers would embrace the study of philosophy- and try to make arguments for the Christian faith by presenting Christianity as ‘thee’ philosophy that best answers the questions of man. These early Christian thinkers are called Apologists- men like Justin Martyr are in this class. Apologist is a word we use to describe those who defend the faith- it comes from the Apostle Peter’s letter in the N.T. where Peter says ‘give an answer to those who ask you about the faith’. In the Greek language- the original language the N.T. was written in- this phrase is talking about a defense- an ‘apology’ in the sense of ‘making the case’ not in the common sense of apologizing. In the book of Acts- chapter 17- we read the famous sermon of the apostle Paul- given at Mars Hill. He was in Athens at the time- and he was debating with all the philosophers of the day. He tells them ‘as I was looking around town- I saw that one of your altars is addressed to The Unknown God’. He would go on and declare unto them that this Jesus is the true God- the one raised from the dead. Paul also said ‘in Him we live and MOVE and have our being’. Kind of a popular verse quoted by preacher’s today- but we often overlook the significance of the MOVE part. I mean- why say we MOVE in him too? Paul was a smart guy- he knew these children of Socrates questioned where motion came from [Remember Thales?] So he was basically saying ‘I am declaring to you the one true reality- the true 5th Element- the missing God particle from your system’ and he went on and preached Christ- being raised from the dead. Paul knew that you can’t really do true philosophy- to grapple with the questions of life and being and ‘motion’ without realizing that God is indeed the ultimate answer to all things. Even Peter Singer- who claimed that you don’t need God or religion in order to do Ethics- even he unknowingly quoted Jesus in attempting to give a basis for his Philosophy- yes- he quoted a God- one unknown to him- just like the altar at Athens- but a God never the less. An inescapable 5th element- the missing part to the whole puzzle. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1741] GO SPARTANS? I really have too much to cover for one post- so let’s see what we can squeeze in. I have a catalog sitting here- from the company that I order courses from. A few years ago I got on their mailing list [How- ?] and ever since I have been bombarded with monthly catalogs. I mean every month- a bit much. Then I realized that one month out of the year they put a bunch of courses ‘on sale’ for around 70% off the regular price- and that’s probably where they do their best business [I now only buy from the discounted monthly catalog]. Anyway- I read the intro to their course on Dark Matter/Energy- these teachers are really good- they are professors from the premiere universities of the world [Oxford, Harvard, etc.] and to get the courses at this price- well it’s really a bargain. But over the years- studying various disciplines [Theology, Apologetics] it’s easy to see when some smart men- make really bad mistakes. Especially when dealing with the whole ‘proof for/against God’ type stuff. In this short intro to the Dark Matter course [Physics- these courses cover everything- history- science- religion- the whole 9 yards] they start out okay- they explain that according to the standard theory of modern physics- that there is about 95 % [wow- that number has jumped these last few years!] of matter ‘missing’ in the universe. What do they mean by ‘missing’? They go on to explain that the effects that we see in the universe- the gravity and function of the universe- well according to standard theory- there is simply not enough matter to explain how all this is held together- how everything actually works. Okay- so they admit that there are a whole bunch of phenomena- that we see taking place- that modern science has no idea how it’s taking place. Now- as the intro continues- they say in order to ‘fill the gap’ they have come up with the idea of Dark Matter. Dark Matter is simply a name given to nothing- that is nothing that we can detect thru the means of modern science. Okay- by definition- it is a Metaphysical reality- something that science has espoused as a possible cause for the effects we see in the universe- and by their own definition- its invisible- undetectable and unseen- it is metaphysical [just like the argument for the existence of God]. So they go on to say ‘we know that this matter exists- because how else could you explain how everything works’- now- to those who get into these debates- the guy who wrote the intro- I’m sure he means well- but his whole argument is a materialistic one. He is saying that there is no chance that some type of ‘non matter’ can be making this happen. So he then says ‘because WE KNOW that there has to be a material explanation for this- no ‘God stuff’ here- therefore its Dark Matter.’ Okay- and what is Dark Matter again? O- it’s this non detectable- unseen matter- that just happens to make up 95 % of the universe. Okay- Mr. smart guy- you don’t go for those Intelligent Design guys- the ones who argue that some non material force might be behind this- you rejected their argument because you say they are arguing from a non material realm [called metaphysical]. So how again have you proven that your idea- all this missing matter- exists? O- easy- because we see the effects OF IT all around us. Actually- no we don’t. We see the effects of SOMETHING- that is- modern science has this huge gap- there are effects taking place in the known universe- that have no materialistic explanation for- we can’t find a material, observable cause for these effects. The Christian says ‘Okay- I stick God in that gap’ [which many materialists accuse us of doing- they call it the ‘God of the Gaps’ approach]. But the materialistic scientist [one who says there can only be a detectable- material cause to things- in order to classify it as science] he then comes up with the whole Dark Matter argument- an argument based on non detectable- unseen- unproven matter. And he then says ‘it must be there- because how else can you explain how everything is functioning?’. The point is- your argument is based just as much on ‘unseen- unproven’ ideas as the Christian. You assume that this matter ‘must be’ simply because you leave no room for a non material explanation. Then you say ‘yeah- but our idea is based on science/matter’ actually it is not- you argument is based on an idea- non proven by your own standards of modern science- and your idea- your Dark Matter- as of today is nowhere to be found. These debates can go on forever- and my point is to simply challenge the believer- and the scientific community- to try to be more honest in the approach of seeking for truth. In the last post I mentioned the pre Socratic philosophers- the 6th century B.C. guys who came before Socrates. In the 5th century B.C. you had Socrates [born around 468 B.C.] and he would become one of the titans of Western thought. He had a famous student by the name of Plato- and Plato would follow in his master’s footsteps. Plato founded a famous school at Athens- the land was donated by a man by the name of Academe- and till this day- that’s where we get the modern term for Academia. Socrates started well- his ideas are not to be confused with Christian belief [he taught that the soul of man always existed- even before he was conceived- not a Christian belief] yet he did have lots of ‘Christianized’ ideas. Socrates was of the school of thought that wanted to seek for absolute truths- to find out the purpose and meaning behind things. Like his student Plato- they were what you would call Idealists- that behind this natural world- there exists Ideas- principles that are ‘more real’ than what we see [he would too laugh at the dark Matter intro I hit on at the top]. Socrates lived at a very advanced stage of the city/state of Athens- Greece. For their day- they had quite an advanced society- Jury system- somewhat of a Western style Democratic process- pretty good for the day. But something happened during his lifetime that would change the whole direction of Athens [and Greece]. They would suffer a huge military defeat by another city/state that seemed to be no match for the Athenians. Do you remember their name? Do you Remember the Spartans? Yes- we see these brothers in the famous movie ‘The 300’. The Spartans were indeed a fighting machine- just like depicted in the flick [one of my favorites by the way]. They had a famous motto ‘either come back holding your shield high [in victory] or come back lying on it’ [dead- like a stretcher]. So when Athens fell at the hands of the Spartans- they went through a sort of depression- a malaise came over them. They began to resent the thinkers who were always searching for ultimate answers to things- and they embraced a new type of philosophy- called Sophism. The Sophists were thinkers who said ‘lets just learn the most pragmatic approach- how to get things to work- and how to win the argument’ and they didn’t really care a whole lot about whether they were ‘right’ or wrong- they just wanted to master the practical side of life. Socrates and his crew thought this approach would ruin Athens and he continued to fight for the search for ultimate truth- the real reasons behind things. He went around town debating the other thinkers- he had a system- called the Socratic method- where he would engage you in a debate- ask you questions- and let you too ask them back- sort of like the Detective Columbo. After a while this got him into trouble with the authorities and they sentenced him to death. He was given his choice of execution- and he chose to drink the Hemlock. We are told that his famous student Plato visited him on the eve of his execution- and he was surprised to see his master relatively at ease with his impending death. Socrates believed that the unseen things- the non material realm- was actually more real than the seen- detectable realm. He did not need some Dark Matter idea to explain how things worked- he believed there existed unseen things- God- Soul- etc. and that these things were more real than his own natural life. Plato would make his teacher famous through his school- and thru his many writings about his teacher. We know these writings as Plato’s Dialogues- he wrote these papers in dialogue form- having Socrates debating the other schools of thought- just like he did in real life. So you never really know who to attribute the famous quotes to- Socrates- or Plato? Was Plato putting his own words in the mouth of his beloved teacher? We don’t always know for sure. Okay-maybe a bit much for today- actually had more I wanted to do- but we’ll call it quits for now. Maybe do a quick search on some of these subjects- see how they affect the contemporary arguments for the existence of God. See how modern science is a noble field- but one in which the Christian does have a say- and how we should challenge the assumptions that are passed down to us. Socrates refused to settle for the purely practical outlook on life- he continued to seek truth till his last day- he dialogued with those who had other ideas- he listened to them and they heard him- and at the end of the day society was better off for it. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1744] LIVING IN THE REAL WORLD? I read an article the other day- some guy got busted for assault- because of Facebook. It went on to say how he posted a status update when his mom died- and he was waiting for his estranged wife to ‘like’ it. She never responded- so he did what any normal person would- he jumped in the car and drove over to her house. Okay- I’m gonna ad lib here ‘knock knock’ she comes to the door and he says ‘go into that damn computer room right now and Like the status’! One thing lead to another- and he got busted. What’s wrong with this picture? I mean he was talking to her- in the ‘real world’ face to face- yet instead of saying ‘ex- are you sad that mom died’- no- he says ‘go like the post!’ Okay- this will be the last post for a while on philosophy- I think I did about 3 or 4 the last week or so- I used to do one subject and stick with it for around a month. Then at the end of the study [Physics, History, etc.] I would stick them all together on the blog as a single study. But I realized that new friends who are just reading the site- post by post- they might think that’s all I write about- so now I’m trying to just do a few at a time. Okay- we made it all the way to Plato and his famous school that he founded at Athens [Greece]. Though Socrates was his teacher- yet Socrates never founded an actual school. Like I said earlier- Plato had a view of Reality that was a bit strange. He was an Idealist- not in the way we use the term today [mostly] but he believed that Ideas themselves were the real world- and what we see/experience in the material world are not ‘as real’. Plato believed that knowledge was A Priori- which means the actual knowledge about a thing exists before the thing comes into being. The famous example he used was a Chair. He would ask ‘what is that’ pointing to a chair. The student would respond ‘a chair’ Plato would say ‘and how do you know this- how did you obtain that knowledge’ and he argued that in the Idea realm- there is a perfect form of Chairness that exists- and that’s why we can identify ‘the chair’ in the material realm. Now- Plato’s most famous student was a man named Aristotle. He actually respected his teacher a lot- but there was some tension between the 2. Plato was more of a down to earth type guy- liked to wear plain clothes- did lots of his teaching by walking around the classroom- interacting with people. Aristotle was more of a ‘Fancy Pants’ type guy. He had a little bit of the elitist thing going on. He was more of a book worm than Plato- and he would eventually start his own school to compete with Plato’s Academy. Aristotle’s school was named the Lyceum. Aristotle was more of a Realist than an Idealist. He believed that this material world was more than just a copy of the Idea world. He taught that Substance and matter were very real- and that contained within the thing is the actual form and future potential of ‘that thing’. For instance- the Acorn has within it the actual form of the Oak Tree. This form did not come from an Idea world- it came from the thing itself- the Acorn. So matter has within it both the potential of its future form- as well as eventually becoming that thing. For Aristotle- knowledge is more A-Posteriori- that is we obtain knowledge about a thing- from the very thing itself. We see/touch and experience that thing- and by our senses interacting with the substance- we get knowledge- after the fact. Okay- to Aristotle all substance has both Form and Matter. Then what he called substance- had 2 categories as well. The ‘substance’ [actual thing it is] and the Accidens [not accidents- not a typo]. The Accidens was simply the outward appearance- what we see on the outside. It might not be what the substance really is- or it might. This teaching would eventually become a major way that our Catholic friends would come to define the doctrine of Transubstantiation- during the 13the century the great thinker Thomas Aquinas would re-discover [and introduce] Aristotle’s teaching back into the church. In his theological works [Summa Theologica] he would use Aristotelian thought to explain how the Bread and Wine become the actual Flesh and Blood of Christ. Thomas explained that the actual substance of the thing was Flesh and Blood- but the Accidens- what you’re seeing on the outside- looks like Bread and Wine. Catholic scholars have debated for centuries on whether or not they should stick to the hard line teaching from Thomas on this. They are not challenging the belief in the Real Presence [that Jesus is really there at the Eucharist] they simply wonder whether or not explaining it this way is right. Finally- after many years of certain Catholic scholars asking this question- in 1965 the Pope [I think it was Paul the 6th?] put out a Papal Encyclical [an official Vatican teaching] and he stated clearly that the way Aquinas taught it is the official doctrine of the church- so that settled that. Okay- Plato was an Idealist [Dualist] and Aristotle was a Realist. That’s the major difference. I will note that Aristotle’s most famous student was Alexander the Great. And during the great conquests of Alexander he took with him a whole team of scientists who brought back all types of specimens of things and he gave them to his famous teacher Aristotle- to advance the cause of learning at the Lyceum school. It has been said that Alexander’s efforts at collecting and bringing these things back after their victories- that this was probably the most expensive scientific endeavor of all time- right up until the modern space Era. Note- I try to avoid too many ‘big words’ in these posts. Not because people don’t understand them- but because I forget how to spell them! And in this post- there are around 10 words that my spell check has no idea how to spell- so just a warning- there might be a few misspelled words in this one. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1752] IMMACULATE CONCEPTION Was gonna do one last post [for now] on Libya- we will need to cover the whole development of how we began to view/and act over a 6 month period- we acted [as a nation] contrary to our public statements. We swore- over and over again- that we were not targeting the man [or his family] and he swore [before the U.N. - by his rep.] that we were lying- and did indeed already kill a few of his grandkids [which was true] and were going after him. Then- on national T.V. - we saw him flee Sirte [his hometown] and get bombed by both NATO and American planes [ours were Drones]. We destroyed a bunch of vehicles- left a lot of dead bodies- but he made it to a tunnel. Then he got pulled out- ended up with a bullet in the head. O- forgot- this happened a day or 2 after Hillary Clinton visited Tripoli [her first visit] and said ‘we are waiting for you to capture or kill him’ [oop’s!] She later had to ‘clarify’. She also was caught on tape- laughing and rejoicing over his death- okay- many people did- but if your saying publicly- ‘that’s not what we want’- then it looks bad. Of course the other Arab nations want the U.N. to investigate- they were being told- by us- that we were not going after him. He begged for a peaceful resolution [he did do this!]. But we basically said no. There are lots of questions to still be answered on this thing. Okay- yesterday I wrote a quick note about a conversation I had with a new friend who just joined my site. She was into some new age stuff- we talked a little- I defended historic Christian belief- then she blocked me. Let’s talk a little about Apologetics/Theology. Apologetics is the field where Christians Defend the Faith. In our day- it is common for believers to be ‘left in the dust’ when they bang up against an atheistic scientist [they not all are!] or someone versed in Philosophy [Sartre or Camus- atheist thinkers- or Hitchen's and Dawkins]. Many times these various fields of study are too much for the average believer to feel like he can engage in- in an intelligent way- and ‘win’ the argument for the Christian view. But church history has a long- and very successful- track record doing this very thing. A few weeks back I did about 5 posts or so on Philosophy- a field I like to study. But if you do too many of those posts at one time- then it can get a little heavy [and boring!] So I try to break it up by only doing so many at a time. The same goes for Theology- Church History- etc. But over time- if we become well versed in these various fields- it will help us defend the Christian view- in an intelligent way- without being mean about it [I try!] But sometimes you will offend people- even if you try to be nice- because you’re engaging in a conversation that says ‘yes- as Christians we believe in ultimate truth- and that truth is in the person of Jesus Christ’ yes- that will offend some. My approach to these types of debates is I’m what you would call Ecumenical- I believe that Catholics, Protestants, Orthodox- and all the other ‘churches’ that profess Christ- I believe they are all Christian. Now you might say ‘well John- doesn’t everybody?’ Actually no- many of the most knowledgeable Apologists do indeed go after the other groups. Quite often you will have a strong protestant defender [usually from the Reformed faith] that will really hit the Catholic church- in my view- too hard. While it is true that historically Catholics and Protestants have differences- I have often found that Many ‘average’ Catholics/Protestants are not really aware of the real differences- they often have very limited perspectives about the ‘other side’ and these limited ideas [often wrong] seem to stay with the people- for most of their lives. One example- the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception- what is it? The teaching became Official- only in the last 2 centuries of the Catholic church- though it was held by many- it finally became official in the last 2 hundred years [ 1854 for the Immaculate Conception- 1950 for the Assumption of Mary doctrine]. The doctrine teaches that the Virgin Mary- Jesus Mom- was born ‘without the taint of original sin’. Now- what does that mean? Some Protestants think the Catholics teach that Mary was ‘sinless’ in the same way Christ was sinless. Actually- that’s not the official doctrine [see- it’s important to know the official teaching when we engage like this]. The actual teaching- that has the churches Imprimatur on it- is that Mary WAS A SINNER- just like the rest of us- but in order for Jesus to have been born from a pure vessel- that the actual work of the Cross- Redemption- it was applied to Mary ‘ahead of time’. Yes- the official teaching is that Mary ‘was saved’ from her sin- just like the rest of us- thru the Cross. The difference is the forgiveness that came to Mary- came to her before she was born- yes- the teaching does teach that Mary was born ‘without sin’ but not like Jesus was without sin- but she was ‘without sin’ because her salvation was applied ahead of time- way ahead of time- before she was born. Okay- do Protestants believe in this teaching? No. But is it ‘so way out of line’ to the point where we should view our Catholic brothers and sisters as ‘non Christian’ because of it? No- not in my view. Plus- many Catholics don’t even realize that this is what the doctrine teaches- many think it is talking about the birth of Jesus- being born without sin- by the act of the Holy Spirit descending upon the Virgin Mary and Mary conceiving. No- this is what we call ‘The Virgin birth- conceived by the Holy Ghost’. Jesus being born from a virgin with no earthly father. This is not the Immaculate Conception. So right here alone [trust me- there are many more examples that I could give] Both Catholics and Protestants usually get the doctrine wrong- yet they remain divided their whole lives- over something that they are not even right about. So I have found this type of stuff to be a problem while striving for Christian unity- and many Christians prefer to see the ‘other side’ in a negative light- and will continue to view them that way- till they die. I always feel bad when I lose a friend from the site- sometimes you can’t help it [other times it is my fault!] but sometimes it’s because we have views about things- strongly held views- and when others hold to a different view- well we try and avoid them. One day I received a Friends Request- to my surprise- it was from a young Catholic priest- I did not know him but he must have read a few posts of mine and liked them. He often gave me Thumbs Up comments on the posts- and at times would tell me he loved the posts. Most were my Theology/Church history posts. Often times Catholics and Protestants can agree and enjoy these types of studies. I love studying and teaching on the Church Fathers and early Christian history- and these sources all have a very strong Catholic flavor to them- so I see my fellow Catholics as being a part of a long tradition of Christian history. Many famous converts to the Catholic Church [Bishop John Newman- converted from the Anglican Church] convert because they read the Church Fathers- and when you read them- it’s obvious to see the catholic nature of the early church in these men’s writings. So anyway I was very happy to have a Catholic priest as one of my ‘on line students’ [and honored]. But one day- during one of my studies [covering one subject for a month or so] to my surprise I saw he was gone [yes- the dreaded block]. I thought- geez- wonder why? I realized it was right in the middle of a study I did on Islam- and while I was doing the posts- I was also going thru a study on Islam- by the same guy who teaches it to the U.S. govt. - yes- it was a prof. [I think named Espinoza?] who teaches Islam to our govt. employees [sort of like a tolerance type thing]. Though the teacher was Catholic- yet he was VERY much pro Islam- I mean to the point where I had to reject some of the stuff he was saying- and finish the study from my own education on Islam. At one point- he taught that the spread of Islam thru out the world had a wonderful- liberating effect on all the women in the lands where Islam spread. I mean it was so obvious that the man had no idea what he was talking about [in this area] that I realized he was not a good source [this happens every so often]. And it was more troubling that this was the guy Obama picked to teach Islam to our govt. employees [don’t get me wrong here- he teaches our govt. workers- not to convert them- but more of an informative type thing- just like you would teach any other course about sexual harassment- or whatever]. Anyway- in one of my posts while teaching on my site- I did refer to Mohamed as ‘the prophet’- now- I don’t receive Mohamed that way myself- but because I was teaching some Muslims who did recently join the site- well I used the title in this way. I think that might have been the ‘last straw’ for my student/priest- he ‘went on Pilgrimage’ right after that post. Okay- today’s point is we all should try our best to be ‘tolerant’ that is- we should give people as much grace/mercy as possible- but at the same time we also need to be honest about the Christian faith. Yes- as Christians we believe salvation comes thru Christ- he was not just ‘one religious leader among many’ no- we believe he is the Way- the Truth- the Life/light- no man comes to the Father- but by him. Sometimes we do our best not to offend- we might even go out of our way to receive people- other religions and systems that are not Christian- that’s okay- I have Muslim and Jewish and all types of friends- I’m glad they are my friends! But we also have to be honest about our beliefs- and every now and then that might- just might- earn you a BLOCK. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1756] Philosophy and Politics. This last week the media circus has centered around the Herman Cain ‘sex scandal’. Yes- it does seem like good old brother Herman [Christian ‘brother’ to you racially sensitive types] has a little problem with the ladies. Yes- I have heard both sides on the thing- the conservatives [Limbaugh] have used Cain as an example of how the ‘left’ castigates Black conservatives- while they cover up for liberal ones. And the left wing media types- well they sure do like to go thru every detail of the Repub candidates lives [no- the sex harassment issue is a real issue- I’m talking about all the other stuff]. It’s funny [sad?] to see some of the commentary on how Cain’s ‘worst’ mistake was in the way he handled it- that it was his mishandling of the scandal that worries folk. Look- I like good old Bill Clinton- and for those who remember- Bill also had quite a few dalliances with the ladies. Paula Jones even sued Bill- And won! Yes- the pres settled for 800 thousand and paid the girl. How did Clinton deal with his sex scandals? Those who say ‘see- Bill knew how to deal with them’ they seem to forget that his defenders- they ridiculed all the women- Kathleen Wiley [he groped her]- Jones- well- he pulled an Antony Weiner one day when Jones walked into the office- and oh yeah- lest we forget [well- actually I do forget the name] one woman had some very credible claims that Clinton did indeed rape her. And of course- he ‘received’ oral sex from Monica in the oval office- and all these women were described as ‘off balance’ or greedy women seeking a pay day- or these women ‘asked for it’. Yes- this was the way the Clinton defenders went about it- yet these same media savvy folk [Carville] are saying ‘Clinton knew how to deal with scandal- Cain does not’. Would they be happy if Cain’s people went after all the women? Not only have they not revealed the name of the lady who got a settlement but they have been pretty silent about all the women. Not Clintons people- you know- the ones who handled it ‘right’ oh yeah- they had his ladies looking like a bunch of trailer park bimbo air heads- even a young intern- who worked for the govt.- even she was demonized at first- for engaging in an act that would have called for the firing of any CEO who was caught doing this with any young female staffer- yet in his case- the women were all at fault. So it’s just a sad thing to see this play out. Do I think Cain ‘did it’ of course he did! ‘How do you know John’- one statement- from Cain himself. He was asked by Hannity ‘did you ask this girl to come to your hotel room’ his answer ‘I don’t recall’ yeah- if someone says ‘did you string up that Black man in the south 40 years ago’ and if you say ‘I don’t recall’ well that’s a problem. Okay- enough of that. I really want to cover a little bit more on the few Philosophy posts we did last month. If you remember we stopped at the 4th-5th century B.C. and we left off with Aristotle. Now- Aristotle [and Plato and Socrates] ruled the day for hundreds of years- most Western thinkers were shaped by their ideas. So for that reason- lets skip about 800 years forward- to the time of Saint Augustine. Augustine lived in the 4th/5th century [A.D.]. When studying Philosophy you will study this man. But you run into him in the fields of Theology and church history as well- he’s considered by many to be the ‘best’ theologian of the 1st thousand years of Christianity- and to some- the best ever. I have covered Augustine before- so let’s go light right now and hit a few high points. Augustine had early influences that led him to the philosophy of ‘Neo Platonism’ [an offshoot of Plato’s thought] and he dabbled [well more than dabbled] in a sort of early metaphysical cult called Manichaeism [like a 3rd century type of Christian Science- the movement in our day]. As Augustine carried out his traveling teaching ministry [he was a teacher who was skilled in Rhetoric- and these traveling teachers would charge for their services] he eventually converted to Christianity [the Catholic Bishop Ambrose played a major role in Augustine’s conversion] and became the Bishop of Hippo- North Africa. Augustine came to defend the Christian world view against his former belief in Neo Platonism. Platonism taught a Pantheistic view of God and creation. This view teaches that God and creation are one in the same. Many eastern religions still hold to this view in our day. Augustine argued that God was the creator of all things- but that he himself was not created- or a part of the created world. He developed a very sound theology on creation- which most Christian traditions hold to this very day. He had a few theological battles in his day. With Pelagianism and Donatism- these were early Christian movements that broke away from the standard teaching of the church- they derive their names form the Bishops/priests who espoused these ideas. Pelagius denied the doctrine of original sin- and he taught that men were indeed capable of obeying Gods law- out of their own moral integrity- and thus ‘save themselves’. Augustine rejected this view and taught that men were saved only by the grace of God- that men were indeed sinful and corrupt- and if left to their own designs would end up in hell. There were various adherents to Pelagius’ view- and his ideas have carried down thru the centuries to varying degrees- sometimes you will hear [read] the term ‘Semi- Pelagian’ this refers to those who have various ideas about man’s ability to save himself through good works. Some in the Reformed church [the original Protestant belief system that came out from the 16th century Reformation] accuse the Catholic Church of this very thing- yet the Catholic Church has made it clear that they do reject Pelagianism- and they agree with Augustine on the matter. The Donatists taught that the Sacraments were dependent upon the ‘holiness’ of the Priest who ministers them. That if you were in a Parish where the priests were bad- lived in sin- rejected a holy life- then if you were Baptized by these men- that the Baptism didn’t ‘stick’. The Donatists formed there own break away church in the 3rd century- and a few very influential men would join the group. A well respected early church father- Tertullian- eventually joined their ranks. Augustine argued against the Donatists teaching- and taught that Gods grace- and the grace given to believers thru the sacraments were not derived from the holiness of any priest or preacher- but if a believer in good conscience received the sacraments- that that’s what really counted. Saint Augustine is one of the titans of church history- he is loved by Protestants and Catholics alike. He is famous for his belief in the doctrine of Predestination [that those who are saved were chosen by God before they were born] and for this reason he is loved by the original protestant theologians [Luther, Calvin, etc.] He also taught a very ‘Catholic’ form of Ecclesiology [church govt.] and is well loved by many Catholics as well. The Catholic Church refers to him as the Doctor of Grace- later on in the 13th century we will meet Saint Thomas Aquinas- who the church refers to as the Angelic Doctor. Both of these men played a major role in the development of western thought and Augustine made an effort to distinguish true Christian thought from the philosophy of Neo Platonism which was very strong in his day. When reading Augustine [he wrote a lot] you need to be careful to distinguish some of his earlier writings from his later ones. Early on you still see forms of Platonic thought in Augustine- but as the years rolled by his thinking progressed more and more towards historic Christian thought. For those of you who are interested- the Confessions of Saint Augustine is considered one the classics of Christianity- you can pick up a short version at most good bookstores- it’s well worth the time to read. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1757] I’M JUST NOT ONE OF THOSE ‘WORD TALKERS’ Caught the debate last night- didn’t go to well for my gov. I mean I still thought he had a fighting chance- not any more. I mean even Cain started looking good compared to Perry. When Perry could not remember the 3rd govt. dept. that he wanted to shut down- that was it. Even Ron Paul tried to throw him a lifeline ‘the E.P.A.’ Yeah- that’s the one! I even guessed ‘maybe he means the energy dept.’ [you know- that’s always been kind of a joke- like having a ‘sky dept.’]. Sure enough- the next time Perry ‘spoke’ that was the one. I read a Conan joke the other day- he was mocking Perry because he was going to start skipping the debates- he said Perry’s excuse was he was not a skilled debater- you know- he wasn’t one of those ‘word talkers’ yeah- guess he’s right. I went thru a few news articles the other day- when I read the papers during the week I cut the articles out that I think are important- and then in the morning before I post I’ll look them over to see what looks relevant. Out of the 2 I saved- one was on a possible looming crisis in Italy. Sure enough- yesterday everything hit the fan. The reason the stocks took a big hit was out of fear that the European debt crisis might spread to Italy. Italy has a big economy- not like Greece. The main reason Greece was important- was that many observers feared that if Greece went bankrupt- that the ‘contagion’ might spread to the other Euro Zone nations- like Italy- and that would be bad- very bad. Well- that looks like what might be happening. Greece’s Debt to GDP ratio is 144 %- not good. Italy is at around 120%- not as bad- but still not good. This coming year they have about half a trillion dollars coming to maturity [bonds they must pay out on] and they owe 2.6 trillion [not like our 14 trillion- but for the size of their nation- it’s a lot]. So the interest rate just went up for Italy- it will now cost more for them to borrow- and when you’re paying a little over 7 % on 2.6 trillion- well that hurts. Italian bonds are not like Greek bonds- Italian bonds are in all of the big banks that we are familiar with- many of our investments are in the same banks that hold Italian debt- so if Italy goes bust- that’s a huge problem- that will indeed drag the U.S. down. I mean Greece already seems to be a lost cause- even their own people are pulling all their money out of the Greek banks and putting it in Swiss banks. Geez- if your own citizens don’t trust you- forget the other nations bailing you out. I find it funny [sad] that a few weeks ago- Fahreed Zakariah [a CNN guy] was mocking the Tea Party crowd- because he said that the Europeans were handling their debt crisis well- like adults- and that even the Europeans were saying ‘geez- cant you be mature like us- you stupid Tea party Repubs’! He said it in the same mocking way that Martin Bashir [I think they are both Brits? I know they of course are both foreigners] made an on air accusation the other day. I mean- it was bad. Bashir said a certain Repub referred to injured Iraqi war vets as injured ‘dogs’. Now- for the life of me- I could not imagine this charge to be true. Then I heard the rest of the story. Some Repub said the occupy protestors were leaving a huge mess at the camps- ‘like dogs’. And Bashir applied this to the Iraqi war vet. who was hit with a gas canister in Oakland- so yes- this Iraq war vet was a wounded protestor. But to then go on national TV and say that Repubs are referring to wounded Iraqi war vets as wounded dogs- I think this network [MSNBC] is very dangerous for the country. We need to hear both sides of all arguments- but this stuff is incendiary. Being I already mentioned Italy- let me finish with some history/philosophy that might be relevant. In the last post I mentioned saint Thomas Aquinas- and after Augustine [and Anselm- 11th century] he is the next main character I wanted to cover [in our ongoing philosophy study]. Aquinas is referred to as the Doctor Angelicas [angelic doctor] by the catholic church. Aquinas lived during the time of a cultural/philosophical reawakening that was beginning to take place in the Western world- the Renaissance. Renaissance means ‘re-birth’. It was a rebirth of the ancient Poets and philosophers of days gone by. Men like Cicero and Aristotle were once again brought to the fore front of many thinkers and lovers of culture. The catch phrase for the Renaissance was Ad Fontes- which meant ‘back to the sources’ [source- Fountain- Fontes]. In the 14th century a famous and influential Catholic family- the Medici’s- were a catalyst for mixing this cultural movement in with the church. The Renaissance sort of challenged the historic view of education- up until this time most learning was done thru the prism of the church. In the universities of the day Theology [study of God] was called the Queen of the sciences- and philosophy was referred to as her Handmaiden. Well the Renaissance thinkers said they wanted to study things for what they are- they did not want to see everything thru the lens of the church. Eventually the theme of the movement [back to the original sources] would play a major role in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. Men like Erasmus [the famous 16th century Catholic Humanist] would re discover the original Greek New testament- and it was thru the study of the Greek text that many of the Reformers made their case to get ‘back to the bible’ and eventually break from Rome. This was also the beginning period of modern capitalism. Recently when Libya had her ‘civil war’ and the new leaders started talking about a new constitution- one of the interesting things that came up was they wanted to do away with interest on loans. Why? Well Muslims teach that interest itself is a bad thing. ‘Gee- wonder where they get that idea from John’ Oh- from a little book- called the bible. Yes- to the surprise of some- this is very much taught in the Old Testament. Now- it was God’s law governing the nation of Israel- but they were forbidden to charge interest. ‘So John- is it wrong for us today to make interest’? Not really- Jesus used interest [usury] as an example in some of his parables- and overall- we as believers are not under the Old Testament laws that govern natural Israel. But- for many centuries- the world did not see interest on money as a legitimate way to earn a living. So during the Renaissance you also had the rise of exploration- and explorers like Columbus would go on their voyages with the financial backing of investors. The normal rate for these voyages was a 75/25% cut. When the explorer returned- the investor [Spain- or whoever] got 75% of the goods- and the explorer kept 25. So there were a lot of changes taking place in the world at the time- and the rise of modern capitalism was one of them- money of course existed way before this time- but as a commodity- this was a new way of viewing the world. Okay- just thought I would throw in a little history along with the current events of the day. As we see the current turmoil in the Italian markets [the original renaissance started in Florence- Italy] maybe seeing money/interest as a commodity- and ‘usury’ as a major way to increase ones wealth- well maybe that’s not such a smart way to do things after all. When Jon Corzine's global investment firm went bust the other day- it was a direct result of taking a gamble on the ‘gullibility’ of the common man. What his firm did was they took a huge risk by investing in European bonds- bonds from Greece that everyone knew was a terrible 'bet’. Then why did he do it? The risk was so high- that the interest [usury] on the bonds was also high- you would make lots of money- if you got your money back. But how would you get the money back- if the company [or nation- or bank] is in such bad shape that they might go bust? Your basically betting that the other nations around them [and the 1% crowd] would never let this happen [too big to fail] and when the nation [or company] gets ‘bailed out’ well then you get the money back- at a huge gain- all at the expense of the ‘99’ %. ‘Gee John- that doesn’t seem right to me’. That doesn’t seem right to me either- and to the legitimate ‘occupy Wall st. guys’ that’s not right to them as well. Basically Corzine did the exact same thing that the big banks did during our 2008 bail out crisis- the banks can’t do that anymore- we did pass regulations that forbid this. But private investment firms can- they take a risk if they do- but that’s their choice. Corzine took the risk- and lost [besides the fact the there is also about 600 million dollars ‘missing’ from private investors money!]. Okay- that’s it for now. We will keep an eye on Italy for the next few days [Germany is already talking about bailing out of the Euro Zone] and if things keep going downhill like this- well we might all be better off if we moved our money into less interest bearing accounts- safe places to ‘park’ your money- and after the dust settles- then maybe get back into the market. But right now- I would trust getting a bigger return from a Columbus voyage than the market- yes- maybe ‘usury’ is not all that’s it’s cracked up to be- maybe the Libyans are right [and the Old Testament]. Yeah- maybe they know something we don’t. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com [1766] ‘LIL’ KIM- LUTHER AND HITCHENS Okay- we had the passing of some famous folk these last few days. Havel [former Czech President] - a great man indeed. Then we had ‘lil’ Kim die [not the singer- the leader of North Korea. Though there was an on line rumor it was Lil Kim- yeah the fans cried- until they realized it was the crazed leader of one of the world’s most dangerous countries- you know- the hair trigger Nuke. Well when the fans found out it was him- not the singer- they relaxed] Actually- the surreal video of the North Korean people crying in the streets- the look of shock and despair on their faces- I mean I haven’t seen the followers of any political leader act this way in a long time- not since the Perry debates. Then old Hitchen's kicked the bucket- yeah- he was a famous atheist. I really do not hate atheists- some are nice people- most don’t know the real case for the existence of God. But Hitchen's- well when I reviewed his book- ‘God is not great’ I did get into the many distortions and misrepresentations that he made. He simply lied- and often. He was mean and arrogant and insulted people often- he has referred to princess Diana as a ‘land mine’ [she had a charity that worked for the abolition of these weapons] he said she was like a land mine ‘she was laid all over the country- and when you stepped on her everything blew up’. No- many Christians and leaders have come out and done the ‘we respected him for his views’ type thing- not me- I’m not gad he died- but won’t make him sound like he was a ‘good’ man- he was not. I read a piece form the N.Y. Times- they went into Libya and investigated the reports of the deaths of many civilians caused by NATO and the U.S. during the ‘no fly zone’ debacle. They found evidence of many civilians that were killed. They presented the report to the new leaders of Libya- they could care less. In Benghazi- the main city in the eastern half of Libya- they were openly flying the Al-Qaida flag. We just spent 10 years and many lives fighting in Afghanistan. Why? Because they gave territory to Al-Qaida- they gave them a place to work out of. We fought the Taliban for 10 years over this. Yet in a few months NATO and the U.S. gave Al-Qaida their own capitol to fly their flag- I mean the terrorists must be thinking ‘if we knew these guys were this stupid- we would have never bombed the towers’. In Tripoli- the real capitol of Libya- the various militia groups [terrorists] are all claiming they are the security/armed forces of Libya. I heard a doctor- on N.P.R. - not a right wing radio show- he said in his hospital these various militias are all trying to take charge- they walk around with guns- sometimes walk into a room and shoot a patient who they think is not on their side- and the doctors say they have no security at all. Under Gadhaffi things ran well- like a normal society- now their country is a terrorist haven- run by these guys. I could go on and say the same for Egypt- and tell the stories of how the military have been killing protestors in the street. All these things are being done under people that the West [we- NATO- France] have enabled by removing their former leaders. And France this week passed a law making it a crime to deny the genocide that took place in Turkey in the early part of the last century. Yes- the Ottoman Turks did slaughter many Armenians- Christians- at the time. And getting Turkey to officially admit this has been a problem for years. But France passing a law to make it a crime to deny it- while they just finished committing ‘crimes against humanity’ themselves- by killing all the Libyan civilians- it’s just too much. Okay- let’s start a brief overview of some church history. Over the next few weeks I want to hit on the 16th century Protestant reformation and try and cover some of the key figures of the movement. Martin Luther- the German reformer who had the most influence in the movement was born and raised in Germany. As a boy his parents were peasant farmers and eventually his dad became a miner and became a very successful businessman- he would go on and eventually own 6 foundries. He sent his son to law school- and young Luther excelled. At the age of 21 he accomplished more than many of his peers. One day on his way home from the university a thunderstorm broke out and Luther was almost struck by a bolt of lightning. In fear he cried out to Saint Ann [the mother of Mary] and said ‘Saint Ann- if you save me I will become a monk’ [Ann was the patron Saint for miners- thus Luther was familiar with her]. He was spared and off to the monastery he went. Luther eventually became an ordained priest and even though his dad initially was upset that his son became a priest- yet he was proud of his boy later on. Luther would eventually make a Pilgrimage to Rome- on foot [a few month walk from Germany to Rome!] and what he saw devastated him. Rome- and the Vatican- were in bad shape. Many of the priests lived in open sin- and the city that he saw as his headquarters for the faith- well it was a mess. Luther made the famous penitent walk/crawl up the stairs of the Lateran church [this church was the most famous church before the construction of St. Peters. The actual stairs of the church are the same stairs that Christ walked up during his trial under Pontius Pilate. Yes- you hear many ‘stories’ while studying church history- things like the relics or left over pieces of the Cross- well these stories are usually fake. But the stairs of the Lateran church are indeed the same stairs that Christ walked on- the early ‘church’ builders dismantled the stairs at Pilate’s court in Jerusalem and installed them at this church building in Rome]. When Luther got to the top of the stairs- it is reported that he questioned the faith- he had a crisis of faith and thought that maybe the whole thing was a sham. Okay- as we do a few more posts over the coming weeks- I want you guys to see that the main players of the Reformation were sincere Catholic men who had many questions about what they saw as corrupt in their own church. These men did not want to start a breakaway church- they simply wanted to reform the church they loved. Keep in mind that Luther excelled during his legal studies- he had a keen legal mind- this will be important later on when we see the debates he has with Rome over the doctrine of Justification by faith- the letters of the apostle Paul [Romans- Galatians] use lots of legal language- and his early education will help him in these debates. Okay- that’s it for today. Maybe do a Google search on Luther and familiarize yourself a little with the history. The ‘readings’ for this week are 2nd Samuel 6-7 and Psalms 89. See what they have in common. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John [1768] LUTHER- THE TOWER EXPERIENCE Let’s start with some church history. In the last post I covered the early years of Martin Luther- probably the most significant figure of the Protestant Reformation. Luther studied for the priesthood in Erfurt, Germany. He would eventually wind up in Wittenberg- one of the major university cities of the Reformation. Wittenberg was actually a small insignificant town- but the political leader over the region- Frederick the Wise- sought to put it on the map. He wanted to turn Wittenberg into a German ‘Rome’. He wanted it to become a major Pilgrimage city where Christians would see Wittenberg as a destination- just like they saw Rome. So Frederick embarked on this plan and he searched thru all the Catholic learning centers of the time and finally recruited 3 top scholars to teach out of the university at Wittenberg- Luther was one of the 3. Just as a side note- Frederick would succeed at making Wittenberg a major catholic center. He would eventually obtain over 19,000 Relics for the Cathedral church there [Relics were used in the ancient system of buying indulgences and making special pilgrimage trips to important Churches. If the church/city that your making the Pilgrimage to has a lot of Relics- bones or other famous material objects from church history- then the value of the Pilgrimage was high. In theory Frederick collected so many that if you added up all the ‘time off’ from Purgatory- you would get 1 million, 900 thousand years off! Some of the famous relics at Wittenberg were a hair from the beard of Jesus- straw from the manger Jesus was born in- and even a branch from the famous burning bush of Moses! As you can see- there was a lot of commercializing going on- even back then]. When Luther arrived in Wittenberg- he made a name for himself as a top scholar. Many protestants- who revere Luther- usually are not aware that he was a master Linguist [sort of like Rick Perry!] Yes Luther mastered language- and he showed it in his teaching on the book of Psalms. In 1515 he began his famous study on the book of Romans and as he went thru the very first chapter- something shook him. He came across the passage that says the Just shall live by faith. This verse first appears in the O.T. book of Habakkuk- and is quoted 3 more times in the N.T. Luther was very aware of the concept of the righteousness of God- he struggled for many years trying to reconcile his own sinful nature with Gods holiness- but he never really ‘saw’ the biblical concept of righteousness as a free gift that God ‘imputes’ to the sinner. Yes- for the 1st time in Luther’s life- after his years training for the priesthood- the pilgrimage he made to Rome- the thousands of hours he spent confessing his sins while a monk in Erfurt- he never really understood that the righteousness of God was a free gift given to those who have faith. It was a giant weight lifted from his shoulders- Luther did not need to try any more to live up to the standards of God- in a way that would earn for him forgiveness- but he would simply believe- and the righteousness of God would be counted to him as a gift. Luther would go on to call this an Alien Righteousness- that is it is not found within the person who tries to do all the church works he can- or buying all the indulgences- or any other of the many religious actions he was practicing- but this free gift of being right with God- it came to those who had faith- the Just shall live by Faith- this was indeed good news for the scholar. As time went on- Germany would get embroiled in the political machinations of the day- Luther’s top political cover was Frederick the Wise- hardly a Protestant Reformer! He spent lots of time trying to make Wittenberg the major Catholic center in Germany. But at the time there was a political fight raging between Rome and some of the other nation/states. There was a figure head office called the Holy Roman Emperor. This office was really in name only- but it rose up during the first Millennium of Christian history and sought to replace the influence that Rome was losing. So you had France, Spain and England all vying for the title. Eventually it would go to King Charles of Spain- but the Pope- who played a major role in nominating the person- he did not want any of these top 3 to get the position. Henry the Eighth was the king of England at the time- and these ‘3 kings’ were sort of in competition with Rome- so the Pope tried to get Fredrick the Wise to throw his hat into the ring. Frederick just happened to be one of the Electors of this position. His actual title was The Elector of Saxony. So Fredrick had lots of influence- and as Rome would eventually but heads with the stubborn bull of Wittenberg [Luther] Frederick would become the major protector of Luther. Okay- I think we’ll stop here for today. The experience that Luther had- the enlightenment that came to him while teaching the book of Romans- this is often called The Tower experience of Luther- it took place in the year 1515. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John [1770] TREASURY OF MERIT Let’s pick up where we left off 2 posts back. We were talking about Martin Luther and the events that led up to the Protestant Reformation. In order to understand the key act that caused the protest- we will have to teach some Catholic history/doctrine. In the 16th century Pope Julius began the effort to build St. Peters basilica in Rome. He got as far as laying the foundation and died. Pope Leo the 10th would pick up after him. The church needed to raise money for the project- and the German prince- Albert- would play a major role. It should be noted that both Catholic and Protestant scholars agree that the Popes of the day were pretty corrupt. They came from what we call the Medici line of Popes. If you remember last month I wrote a post on the Renaissance- I talked about the Medici family and how they played a major role in supporting the Renaissance that took place in the 13th century in Florence Italy that would spread to the region. Well this very influential family also played a big role in who would get top positions in the church. At the time of Luther and prince Albert- if you had the right connections and the money- you could literally buy a position in the church. Albert already held 2 Bishop seats- and there was an opening for an Archbishops seat in Mainz [Germany] and he wanted that one too. It should be noted that official Canon law [church law] said you could only hold one seat at a time- Albert was bidding on his 3rd one! And he was too young for all of them. So even the Pope and the officials held little respect for what the church actually taught at the time. So Albert opens up negotiations with Leo- and the bidding starts AT 12,000 Duckets [money] Albert counters with 7,000- and they agree on 10,000. How did they justify the numbers? 12- The number of Apostles. 7- The 7 deadly sins. 10- The 10 commandments. Yes- the church was pretty corrupt at the time. So Albert works out a plan with Leo- he will borrow the money from the German banks- and pay the banks off by the Pope giving Albert the right to sell Indulgences. What’s an Indulgence? Okay- this is where it gets tricky. The ancient church taught a system called The Treasury of Merit. This was a sort of spiritual bank account that ‘stored up’ the good deeds of others over the years. You had the good deeds of Jesus at the top- but you also had Mary and Joseph- the 12 Apostles- and other various saints thru out time. The way the ‘bank’ worked was you could tap into the account by getting a Papal indulgence- a sort of I.O.U. that had the Popes guarantee that it would get so much time out of Purgatory for a loved one. The actual sacrament that accesses the account is called Penance [confession]. When a penitent does penance- he confesses his sin to the priest- and he is absolved by the authority of the church that the priest has. The priest usually tells the person ‘say so many Hail Mary’s- Our Father’s’ and that’s a form of penance. One of the other things the church practiced was called Alms Deeds. This term is found in the bible and it means giving your money to the poor- it is a noble act that Jesus himself taught. In theory- part of the sacrament of penance was tied into Alms Deeds- you can access the account thru the practice of giving to the poor- which also meant giving to the church that helps the poor- and in the hands of the Medici line of Popes- meant outright giving money to the Pope. So now you see how the abuse worked its way into the pockets of the faithful. Albert now had the permission from Leo to sell these indulgences in Germany- and he would pick a certain corrupt priest to sell them in a place called Saxony- the region where Luther operated out of. It should be noted that the Catholic Church never taught the crass act of ‘buying your way out of Purgatory’. The practice of including giving money as a part of the sacrament of penance was tied into the biblical principle of giving to the poor- a good thing. But Tetzel and others abused the official meaning of the indulgence- and did make it sound like you could by your way out of Purgatory [in theory- a loved one might be in Purgatory for so many years- and through the indulgence you are actually getting time off for them- because the good deeds of others are now applied to the account]. The money Albert would raise- half would go to Rome for the building of St. peters- and half would go to pay off the banks in Germany- it was a sad system- and a sad time for the church as a whole. It would be wrong to judge the entire church at the time as being corrupt- you did have many sincere Priests and Catholic men and women who saw the abuses and did not take part in them. But there was corruption at the top- and this would eventually lead to the breakup of the church- and the launching of what we now call the Protestant Movement. As a side note- it should be said that many Catholics and Protestants are not aware of the whole treasury of merit system- and the church never officially changed her position on the doctrine. There were 3 Church councils since the time [Trent- 1500’s, Vatican 1- 1800’s and Vatican 2- 1962-65]. The Treasury of Merit never came up for change. Obviously Protestants don’t believe in Purgatory- and it’s not my purpose in these posts to change Catholics into Protestants or vice versa- but to give all sides a clear view of the issues that divided us- and to try and be honest- and respectful during the process. Does the bible teach anything like a Treasury of Merit? Well actually it does. The bible teaches that the righteousness of Christ is the treasury that people can access- by faith- and become righteous in the sight if God. The idea- applied to Christ- is good. But in the hands of the Medici Popes- and the ambitious prince of Germany- it would lead to disaster. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John 1782- PROTESTANT REFORMATION CONCLUSION Today let’s finish up the study on the Protestant Reformation. We left off on Luther disputing with the church over the doctrine of how a person becomes just in the sight of God- is it by works or faith? Now- to the surprise of many Protestants [and Catholics!] both sides agreed that a person cannot be justified by works. Yes- the Catholic Church rejected what was known as Pelagianism. In the early centuries of the church there was a Catholic priest- named Pelagius- who taught that people had the ability within themselves to obey Gods law and become saved that way. He rejected the doctrine of original sin and another famous bishop- Saint Augustine- would refute Pelagius and teach salvation comes by the Grace of God. The official Catholic position was to reject Pelagius and accept Augustine. Okay- then where’s the difference? The church council that spells it out is the Council of Trent [named after the Italian city where the council took place in the 1500’s- Trento]. This council is often referred to as the Counter Reformation. The church rejected the Protestant line- but also acknowledged the need for reform and made some changes. This is the council where the church rejects Pelagianism- and also says the position of Luther [Justification by Faith ALONE] was flawed. The church appealed to the New Testament letter of Saint James- where James uses an example from the life of Abraham [found in Genesis 22] where Abraham obeys God and is willing to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar. Of course this never happens- God was simply testing Abraham- but James says this act of obedience justified him in Gods sight. James says ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not by faith ALONE’. The argument from Rome was Faith played THE major role in justification- but was not sufficient by itself- there had to be righteous works eventually associated with it in order for God to say ‘you are just’ [saved]. Luther disagreed and said God justified Abraham before he had good works- we find this in Genesis 15. God says to Abraham ‘look- count all the stars- so shall your offspring be’ and Walla- the bible also says Abraham was justified in God's eyes the moment he believed the promise. Who’s right? Actually they both are. I have taught this a few times over the years- and it would take too much time to re-do right now. But I believe James and Paul [the 2 who debate this in the bible] are simply looking at different aspects of salvation/justification. Paul emphasized faith- and James showed us how true faith always has works with it. When you read the statements that came out from the council of Trent- some of them do seem to indicate that both sides might have been talking past each other at some points. In the heat of the day they were too quick to condemn the other side- without really trying hard to achieve unity [like politics!]. The 6th session of Trent was the one where the church dealt with justification [how we become saved in Gods sight]. Rome made a distinction between mortal and Venial sin in the council- the church said that Baptism is the INSTRUMENTAL CAUSE of justification. Yet faith is the Root- Foundation and Initial act that justifies. Rome also taught that Mortal sin kills the grace in the soul that brings justification- and when a person commits a mortal sin- they need the ‘2nd plank of justification’ in order to be brought back into a state of Grace. This 2nd Plank is the Sacrament of Penance [confession]. Catholic Moral Theologians use an example to show the difference between Mortal and Venial sin. Drinking- if you take a drink [alcohol] not a sin. If you get tipsy- Venial- and if you get flat drunk- mortal. This is a true teaching by the way- not making this up. Catholic scholars are not in total agreement on all the Mortal/Venial sins. Some teach that missing Mass on Sunday is a Mortal sin. I just threw this in to show you the debates that take place. The teachings from Trent are referred to as Tridentine. The Protestants [early on] rejected the belief that a person can lose Gods grace once he has it- later on the Protestants would divide- severely- over this teaching- Predestination and the Perseverance of the Saints. But early on all the major Reformers did indeed teach this. Luther believed in the doctrine of Predestination just as much- if not more- than John Calvin. But sometimes in these history shows they get this wrong and say Luther and Calvin disagreed on it- that’s a common mistake that you hear every so often. Luther actually wrote a book dedicated to the subject [The Bondage of the Will] Calvin never wrote a book solely on the subject. Okay- as we end this brief study of the Protestant Reformation- you could also call it a primer on Catholic doctrine [short one]. Why is it important that we study this? In John chapter 17 Jesus said that he desired unity for all of Gods people- and many of these divisions- which date back 500 years- are commonly misunderstood on both sides. It is common in our day to run across an ex Catholic who might say ‘you know- I left the church because I don’t believe I need to confess to a priest’ or ‘the Catholic church teaches you are saved by works’. The original Reformers did not have a problem with confession- the Lutherans carried the practice over into their communion. And like I just showed you- the Catholic church rejected the doctrine of being saved ‘by works’ [Pelagianism] and simply emphasized the teaching found in the bible- the book of James- and focused more on James than Paul [who the protestants focus on]. So yes- there are still differences- but if we are not informed- then it makes it harder to strive for unity- and at the end of the day God does desire unity for all his people. The other day I quoted the great Civil rights leader- MLK. In one of his famous speeches that’s played when we celebrate his life- you hear Martin say that not only was he seeking unity among the races- but also in the church. He said he wanted to see Catholics and Protestants- as well as Blacks and Whites- sit down together- he referred to us all as Gods kids. I think we should strive to achieve the desire of Martin- and Jesus. Amen. www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com

Hebrews

HEBREWS- 2015- VIDEO LINKS INCLUDED HEBREWS 1-3 The next few weeks I’ll be teaching from an old commentary I wrote a few years back [2007-8]- The notes at the bottom of the chapters- and post- are new [as well as the videos]. https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/4-12-15-hebrews-1-3.zip NEW NOTE- In the study of the bible- there are debates about who wrote the letters of the New Testament. In the field of higher criticism- it gets a bit silly at times. I just finished an on line course from a respected scholar out of Yale university. He taught from the higher criticism perspective- I enjoyed the course- though I did not agree with lots of his conclusions. At one point he questioned whether Paul wrote the middle chapter of one of the letters attributed to Paul. Yet he did believe the first- and last chapters were by Paul. For the most part- we believe that the letters in the bible- that say in them ‘written by Paul’ are from Paul [or Peter, James, Etc.]. But- Hebrews leaves the authors name out- so some debate who wrote it. Tertullian- an early church father [2/3rd century] attributed it to Barnabus- Paul’s companion that we read about in the book of Acts- For about 1500 years- till the time of the Reformation- most Christian scholars attributed it to Paul. Hebrews is written in a high form of Greek [which is another way we determine who wrote the letters- tough this is not always accurate. Many say John the apostle did not write Revelation- because the form of Greek used is much lower than the other writings of John- yet- there is internal witness that John [the apostle] wrote it. In John’s writings [gospel- 1st, 2nd and 3rd John] he speaks about Jesus as the Word [Logos] and this theme is seen in Revelation too]. So- while we don’t know for sure- I personally stick with the authorship of Paul the apostle. INTRODUCTION: I have been wanting to overview this book for a long time. I believe there are a lot of misconceptions from Hebrews. Often time’s modern translations take older books of the Bible and want to make them relevant for our day. This can be both good and bad. I like the message Bible, but for in depth study it doesn’t really work. There are certain things that must be interpreted in context of the time and place when the book was written. Hebrews is one of the most important New Testament books to ‘read in context’. I wont go over every verse in this short commentary, I will hit the high points of various chapters and try to show you what I mean by ‘reading it in context’. I believe it is possible that this book was Paul’s ‘open letter’ to the first century Jewish community, this is quite possibly why it goes unsigned. The ‘Judaizers’ had so polluted the minds of their fellow Jews against Paul ‘he speaks against Moses and our law’ type thing, that if Paul signed this letter, there would be little chance that the intended audience would read it! If you read a book on auto mechanics, and tried to make it relevant for the human body, it wouldn’t work. For instance if you spoke on the engine of a car, and then tried to ‘translate’ that and equate it with the human heart, you would have problems. But if you left it in context and then applied the concept of maintenance and the need for clean fuel lines, and then applied it to the human need for clean arteries, well then that would be OK. So I believe when we read Hebrews, and don’t try to make it ‘fit’ Gentile believers, then it works. You still get great principles from the ‘manual’, but you understand that it is not speaking directly to the Gentile church. God bless you guys, I hope you get something from it. John. CHAPTER 1: NEW NOTES AT END OF CHAPTER- LOGOS. SEATED. ‘God, who at sundry times and in diverse manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds. Many years ago when I was going to a fundamental Baptist Church, they would interpret this passage in a ‘cessationist’ way. They would say because God says in the past he spoke by prophets, but now by his Son. That this means he doesn’t speak thru Prophets any more. The Prophets here are Old Testament voices. In Ephesians it says after Jesus ascended up on high he gave gifts unto men, some Apostles, some Prophets, etc. The fact that Jesus made Prophets after the ascension teaches us that there were to be a whole new class of New Testament Prophets that were different from the old. I find it strange to believe that Jesus would create a whole new class of gifts, and then take them away as soon as the Bible is complete. Why would Paul give instruction in the New Testament on how Prophets would operate [Corinthians] and then to say ‘as soon as this letter is canonized with the others, all this instruction will be useless’ it just doesn’t seem right. The reason Paul is saying in the past God used Prophets, but today his Son. Paul is showing that the Jewish Old testament was a real communication from God to man. But in this dispensation of Grace, God is speaking the realities that the Prophets were looking to. Paul is saying ‘thank God for the Old Jewish books and law, they point to something, his name is Jesus’! The Prophets [Old Testament] served a purpose; they brought us from the shadows to the present time [1st century] now lets move on into the reality. Now you must see and hear the Son in these last days. ‘Who being the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person…when he by himself purged our sins SAT DOWN on the right hand of the majesty on high’ here we are at the beginning stages of themes that we will see later in the letter. The significance of Jesus ‘sitting down’ will be contrasted with the Old testament priests ‘standing up’. Paul [for the record I think Paul wrote this letter, from here on I will probably just refer to the writer as Paul] will teach that the ‘standing up’ of the Levitical Priests represented an ‘incomplete priesthood’ the reason Jesus sat down was because there would be no more sacrifice, and no more priesthood made up of many priests who would die year after year. This doesn’t mean there would be no more New Testament priests as believers, but that there would be no more Old Testament system. Paul will find spiritual truths like this all thru out the Old Testament. Some theologians feel that Paul is a little too loose with these free comparisons that he seems to ‘pull out of the hat’, for the believer who holds to the canon of scripture, it is the Word of God. ‘Being made so much better than the angels…but unto the Son he saith “thy throne O God is forever and ever, a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy Kingdom”. Here Paul introduces another theme that will be seen thru out this letter. The superiority of Jesus over angels. Why is this important? Most believers know that Jesus is greater than angels, don’t they? Here we see why context is important to understand this letter. In Jewish tradition it is believed that the law was given to Moses by God thru the mediation of angels. Some say ‘well, we don’t use Jewish tradition, we use scripture’. First, Paul used anything he could to win the argument. Second, if we believe Hebrews is an inspired book, then when we read later on that the law given thru angels received a recompense if broken, then right here you have scripture [Hebrews] testifying that God did use angels to ‘transmit’ the law to some degree. Now, why is it important for gentiles to see this? Well it really isn’t! But it is vital for a first century Jew to see it. If Paul can show that Jesus is greater than the angels, then he is beginning to make the argument that the New Covenant is greater than the Old. Here is the context. Moses law is highly revered in the first century Jewish community, so here Paul says ‘how much better is the law/word given to us from Gods Son’. Since Jesus is much better than the angels, therefore pay closer attention to the words spoken thru Gods Son, he is greater than the angels! ‘But to which of the angels said he “sit at my right hand until I make thy enemies thy footstool” we end chapter one with the theme of Jesus being better than the angels, yet in chapter 2 something funny happens, Paul will make the argument of Jesus being “a little lower than the angels” lets see what this means. NEW NOTES- 4-2015 LOGOS. We see God having created all things thru Christ ‘the express image of his person- by whom also he made the worlds’. Jesus is called the WORD of God in scripture- the Greek word- for ‘word’ is Logos. We read in the bible that God made all things- but also that Christ made all things- Is this a contradiction? No- For the first 3-4 centuries of Christianity- as you study the early church councils- The early church struggled over how to view the relationships between God and Jesus These debates raged- and at times each side viewed the other as Heretics. I think it was a mistake to be so quick to judge those as heretics- who were having difficulty in expressing in finite words- the great mystery of God and Christ. In Genesis we read that God spoke all things into existence- so- here we see God’s Word- Logos [Christ] as being the instrumental cause of creation. In John chapter one we read that Jesus was the Word- in the beginning- who was with God- and was God. I’ll try and simplify it [not an easy task to say the least]. God- who is Spirit- spoke- and this expression of God- his Word- is also referred to as Christ- Christ/Jesus is the Word of God made flesh- and it is thru his humanity [incarnation] that we do indeed see God in ‘the flesh’- Yes- by Him- all things were made. SEATED. We see a theme in chapter 1- that will run thru the whole letter- HE SAT DOWN- In Hebrews we are seeing the superiority of the New Covenant over the old- and there will be many comparisons to show how the Old Covenant- priests- sacrifices- the law itself- was less than what we get in the New Covenant- And the reality that Jesus sat down at the right hand of God- shows us that he was the last- and final High Priest- and the whole system of Priests under the law are now done. We will read that the Old Testament priests stood [signifying that there work was ongoing- meaning they would have to keep offering sacrifices that could never put away sin]. But Jesus- after he offered himself- sat down. All thru this letter we will see these comparisons- LOTS OF QUOTES- We also see a lot of quotes from the Psalms in this letter- just like we saw in the Romans study. There is a debate over whether or not Paul wrote the letter- I think he did. One of the reasons is the author of Hebrews does the same thing as Paul in the other letters- lots of cross references from the Old Testament books- and it just seems to me to have the same flavor as Paul’s other letters. Psalms 2, 104, 45, etc. CHAPTER 2: NEW NOTES AT BOTTOM .HOW SHOULD WE INTERPRET SCRIPTURE? .PSLAMS, ISAIAH ‘REVEALED’ THRU CHRIST ‘Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at anytime we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression received a just recompense of reward, how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation that was first spoken by the Lord and was confirmed to us by them that heard him’. Now, we see the contrast. If the word spoken ‘by angels’ [law] was so strict in judgment, then how much more will God hold responsible those who reject the word spoken by the Son [gospel], being he is so much better than the angels? This is the theme taught in chapter one. That’s why chapter 2 starts with ‘therefore’ he is saying because of all this truth of the superiority of Jesus to angels, don’t reject the word of the Son! Also now we begin to see context. The ‘not neglecting so great salvation’ is really speaking to Israel [Hebrews]. It is not telling believers not to neglect salvation or they will be lost, it is telling first century Israel if you reject/neglect this true gospel of Jesus as Messiah, then YOU will be lost. Many of the verses thru out this study will begin to make a lot of sense when taken in context. We will do much more of this in the coming chapters. ‘Thou madest him a little lower than the angels, thou crownest him with glory’ ‘thou hast put all things under his feet’ ‘we see Jesus who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor, that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man’. Now we see the doctrine of Jesus being made lower than the angels. Does this contradict chapter one? No! He was first made ‘lower’ [became a man and humbled himself more than any other man-Philippians] and for this reason God gave him the highest position at his right hand. He was made lower so he could ‘taste death for every man’ here Paul gets right into the central message of the gospel, that he will spend the rest of this letter explaining. He realizes that 1st century Israel must transition into the death and resurrection of Jesus. He doesn’t take the common evangelical approach to Israel, which seems to defend and extol her on a regular basis. Paul sees her ‘lost ness’ and makes every effort to bring her into the gospel. Jesus died for EVERY man, Israel, so you too must transition into this one new man that he desires to create. ‘For as much than as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also likewise took part of the same, that thru death he might DESTROY him who had the power of death, that is the devil: and deliver them who thru fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage’ did you know that Jesus already destroyed the devil? The greatest act of deliverance and redemption that will ever take place, already took place! Evangelicals can be notorious for looking to the 2nd coming as an ‘escape hatch’. Sometimes the 2nd coming is looked to as the event that ‘destroys the devil’ sorry, but he has already been destroyed. Now there definitely will be a future aspect to his final judgment, but its inevitability is sealed by the fact of the death and resurrection of the Son of God! These verses also say that Jesus delivered us from him who had the power of death, that is the devil. Jesus taught in the gospels that God had the power to take life or spare it. Fear God. Then how can the devil have ‘the power of death’. The devil has used death as a ‘sword of Damocles’ over the heads of people. He works thru intimidation. How many people live their whole lives in fear of getting cancer, or some other disease? They often go to extreme lengths to do all they can to avoid death. This type of self survival can be obsessive. People will run back and forth on hopes of escaping some sickness. The devil often accuses people ‘you have this sickness’ or ‘you might get it’. He had ‘power’ thru deception. He knew man did sin, and one of the prices for sin was death. So the enemy constantly accuses the saints. And one of his main weapons is ‘you will die because of what you did’. Jesus dealt with this ultimate fear thru tasting death himself and coming thru the other side. This is why Peter was so eager to go thru death after he saw Jesus do it. Peter was such a chicken before, that he would deny he even knew Jesus, to a girl, just to save his skin. After the resurrection, it was all over! They were convinced that death had no more power over them. They would die someday, but it wasn’t the final curtain. ‘Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people, for in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted’ One of the other reasons why Jesus took on flesh was so he could empathize with man. Paul wrote the Corinthians and told them that the things that they suffered were for a purpose. The purpose was that after they went thru stuff, God would show them comfort. They then would be able to comfort others with the same comfort that God showed them. Later in Hebrews we also read that every priest taken from men had infirmity. Therefore he could identify with man. We will also read that Jesus was in all points tempted like us. So here we see that Jesus incarnation allowed him to identify with man and to be faithful to have compassion and understanding with mans weakness. Often times in Christianity you will have well meaning ministers give up on the addict. A lot of times you hear ‘well, if they were serious about God they would do right’ or ‘if they only made a quality decision at the altar’ and things of this nature. Often times those who have not been thru addiction cannot really understand the life of a person who will steal from his own family, go to prison, lose everything he has ever earned. And then get out after 10 years and do it all again! Jesus had compassion because he walked in our shoes. He knew the terrible draw of sin and temptation, and he asks us to come to him for help because he knows what the struggles are like. NEW NOTES- Psalms 8, 22. Isaiah 8- Notice how the author freely quotes from Psalms and Isaiah- just like we saw in the book of Romans- Notice how the writer applies the quotes to Jesus himself ‘I will sing praises to you in the midst of the congregation’ ‘made a little lower than the angels’ etc. I just finished another course- by a Yale university scholar- He taught from the ‘historical criticism’ view of scripture. This type of reading of the bible arose out of the German universities in the late19th- early 20th centuries. It had some good aspects to it- but in many ways it was an unfair criticism [taking apart] of the biblical authors. I mention that to say when we see the New Testament writers interpreting these Old Testament scriptures in this way- Those of us who believe the bible to be the inspired Word of God. Then we don’t see it as a ‘miss-reading’. For instance- critics say that some of these verses are not speaking of Christ- now- that may be true in the general sense- when the Jews first read these verses from the Old Testament. But we- Christians- see it as God revealing the true fulfillment of these prophecies- in Psalms and Isaiah. So- the critics will note that these verses applied in a general way- and not to Christ. But the believer sees it as God using the writers of the New Testament- under inspiration- as revealing to us how the Old Testament is now being fully revealed thru Christ. Psalm 8:4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? Psalm 8:5 For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Psalm 8:6 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: Psalm 22:22 I will declare thy name unto my brethren: in the midst of the congregation will I praise thee. Isaiah 8:18 Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion. CHAPTER 3: END NOTES- PSLAMS 95. TRUE SABBATH REST. ‘Wherefore HOLY BRETHREN, partakers of the heavenly calling’ I want to submit to you that these terms found thru out Hebrews are really speaking of the privileged position of the 1st century Jew before his final rejection of Messiah as a nation. Most times we read these verses and debate whether it is speaking of someone who is ‘saved’ or not. Later we will see this in chapter 6 ‘those who were once enlightened and partakers of the Holy Ghost’ all these terms can apply to Israel as Gods peculiar people and chosen nation. I feel Paul is still addressing them this way because they are still in a transition stage in the 1st century. There is still hope that they will receive Messiah as a nation. All these terms are referring to Israel as being Gods special people who came for a special purpose. Ultimately they will not live up to this calling [yet!] because they will reject Jesus as a nation, though there will be a remnant of Jews who will believe. So as we read thru out Hebrews we will look at all these privileged expressions as speaking of Israel as Gods special nation. This will clear up the arguments that many believers have over portions of this letter. ‘Consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus…and Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things that would come later…but Christ as a Son over his own house WHO’S HOUSE ARE WE if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of hope firm unto the end’ a main theme from Paul is to compare Moses and Jesus. Paul will take lots of Old testament verses and quote them in this letter. I believe more than any other New Testament letter. He quotes them freely, not even giving the chapter and verse, he says ‘somewhere it is said’ and then goes right into it. Sort of like what I do on my blog! The point is Paul is seeing so many shadows of the Old Testament fulfilled thru Christ that his mind is exploding in revelation. It is almost like he can’t stop proving this point. Jesus is seen all thru out the Old Testament and Paul is obsessed with showing this to the first century Jew, his own cultural family. He says in Romans that he would be cursed himself if he knew it would open the eyes of his nation. Paul also reveals that Israel can become this house, if she ‘holds on to the end’. We will read stuff like this a lot in Hebrews. This causes some to read the letter as in if Paul were writing Christians. Jesus taught in John 15 that the branches would be cut off that would not bring fruit. Paul also said that Israel, the natural branches, were cut off so we [gentiles] would be grafted in. These terms of ‘holding on, staying steadfast’ can be applied to Israel in the sense that Paul is pleading ‘you have a few thousand year history with God. God has sent you prophets and anointed your kings with his Spirit [by the way this is why in chapter 6 it will say those who were once enlightened by the Spirit and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost- no other nation on earth had the Spirit of God actively administrating their government like Israel- the argument isn’t whether it’s talking about people who were ‘truly saved’ or not!] you, Israel, have been walking with him for a long time, DON’T FALL AWAY NOW!’ So in context the ‘holding on’ can describe the transition stage. Don’t fall away after all these years of waiting for Messiah as a national hope and promise. You will see Paul use this argument in Acts when he says ‘you guys are accusing me of heresy, and I am just preaching the fulfillment of the promise that our fathers have been waiting for, for over thousands of years’. ‘Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost says, today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me and saw my works FORTY YEARS… so I sware in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest’ Now, a common theme is to teach that Christians cant get the promised land because they don’t have faith. It is taught that Israel in the wilderness are a type of believers and to get the promise you must believe. While all this can be true, this is not the context in Hebrews. Paul is trying to get Israel to BELIEVE in Christ for righteousness, as opposed to her trying to work for it [Romans 9-10]. Paul sees the story of Israel not entering into the Promised Land as an example of the danger of not entering into the new covenant by failing to believe in Jesus and be justified by faith. He will later do this in chapter 11, the great faith chapter. He will show Israel how all of her Patriarchs received A GOOD REPORT [justified] by faith. I will explain it when I get there. So keep in mind that Israel in the wilderness is a type of Israel in the first century, and Paul is trying to tell them ‘just like our fore fathers couldn’t get into the promised land because of UNBELIEF, so too you are in danger of stumbling over the righteousness of God which is by faith, not of works!’ I also find it interesting that Paul includes the 40 year period of judgment. It was around 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus until the destruction of the temple in AD 70. It was a prophetic sign, a sort of probationary period for Israel as a nation. It was like God said ‘40 years are now up, the temple is going to be destroyed just like my Son said, those who haven’t moved on and made the transition into the ‘new temple’ are now being judged’. Israel hasn’t had true temple worship since! ‘Wherefore the Holy Ghost saith, today if you will hear his voice harden not your hearts [as opposed to the voice of Moses which is the law] as in the provocation, the day of temptation in the wilderness: when your fathers tempted me, proved me and saw my works FORTY years…so I sware in my wrath they shall not enter into my rest, take heed brethren [fellow Jews] lest there be in any of you AN EVIL HEART OF UNBELIEF IN DEPARTING FROM THE LIVING GOD’ We are going to enter a theme that speaks of Israel not entering Gods true rest because of unbelief, not because of a lack of works [law]. The apostle will begin to use the story of Joshua entering into the Promised Land as a story of Jesus [which the Old Testament translation of Joshua means Jesus] and his offering true rest [grace] to 1st century Israel. The fact is the only ones who entered in were the ones who believed. The unbelievers [all the adults except for Joshua and Caleb] all died out over a 40 year period in the wilderness. Just like many of the first century Jews would reject Messiah for 40 years until the destruction of their temple. Jesus said we must become like little children to inherit Gods Kingdom. The children of the older generation entered into the Promised Land, the parents died. Why did they die Paul? Was it because they didn’t have the law or do ‘works’? NO! They died because of unbelief. Paul is stressing that the 1st century Jew is also in danger of ‘not entering into rest [grace] because of unbelief’. We often read these verses applying them to Christians, which is OK. But when you read them in context, then you see the real meaning. This will help later when we read others passages. We wont argue over Arminian or Calvinistic interpretations of stuff, we will see that neither one is right as it pertains to certain portions of this letter. ‘And to whom sware he that they should not enter into rest, but to them THAT BELIEVED NOT, SO WE SEE THAT THEY COULD NOT ENETR IN BECAUSE OF UNBELIEF’ Do you see the significance of this argument? Brilliant Paul is using all of these well known Old Testament stories to convince Israel that they must believe [justification by faith] in order to ‘inherit the land’ [the promise of eternal life]. This is the whole context of Hebrews. That’s why when modern preachers use all these verses to say you must believe to get material things, that they are way off the mark. It is true that faith does obtain things. And when we believe God for healing and finances and answers to prayer that it is vital to believe. But so many modern teachers have taught these promises as getting stuff, while in context you begin to see the true meaning. PSLAMS 95- Once again we the writer freely quoting- and ‘interpreting’ this passage from Psalms- and showing that the sin that prevented Israel form obtaining rest- was UNBELIEF. Why is this so important? If you remember the Romans teaching I did last- Paul stresses that the righteousness of God comes by faith- not of works ‘lest any man should boast’. So- this letter to the Hebrews [Jewish people] is intended to show them the superiority of the New Covenant over the Old. And the way you obtain the benefits of the New Covenant [redemption] is thru faith. The passage from Psalms recounts the history of the Jewish people- and those who did not ‘get in’ [Promised Land] were those who did not have faith. We also read how Paul teaches that the Promised Land spoken of was still a future event/place- Paul uses Psalms again and says ‘If Joshua gave them the rest [Canaan- book of Joshua] then God would not have spoken of another day’. Here Paul says the true day ‘of rest’ also referred to as the true Sabbath day [age of grace- not an actual day] is fulfilled in the coming of the Messiah- and just like God ‘rested the 7th day from all his works’- so we too can rest from our works [the law] and also enter into rest- thru the ‘new Joshua’ [Jesus]. Psalm 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Psalm 95:8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: Psalm 95:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Psalm 95:10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Psalm 95:11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest. HEBREWS 4-6 [Just made the video- so today you get ‘real time’- P.S.- to my kids- the carnival looks good- maybe we will go today? Text me- dad.] CHAPTER 4: NEW NOTES BELOW- .SABBATH REST ‘Let us therefore fear [Jews in the first century, not Christians in the 21st century! At least in this context] lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest [now defined as the New Covenant rest. Paul is telling Israel God has left you a promise of rest in Messiah, where you will cease from your own works [law], beware Israel, our forefathers missed out on the promise because of unbelief, don’t do the same!] any of you should come short of it, for unto us was the gospel preached [1st century Israel] as well as unto them [Israel at the edge of entering the promised land had the gospel [good news] preached to them by Joshua and Caleb, they gave the ‘good report’ that the land was great and it was there for the taking, of course they didn’t believe and therefore couldn’t take it] but the word did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For WE WHICH HAVE BELEIVED [the remnant of Jews who were believing in the first century were entering into the rest of the New Covenant of grace, they left off trying to be made righteous by the law, they ceased from their own works] do enter into rest…for he spake in a certain place of the 7th day on this wise, and God did rest the 7th day from all his works, and again, if they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it still remains that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: again he limits a certain day in David [Psalms] today if you will HEAR HIS VOICE [as opposed to the voice of the law/Moses] harden not your hearts. For if Joshua [my king James says ‘Jesus’ this is because the translation is the same] had given them rest then he would not have spoken of another day, there remaineth therefore a rest TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD! [Jewish people ‘of God’ not gentile converts!]. Well, we covered a lot here. Paul takes the creation account, the verses that will later speak of a future rest for Gods people, and then a verse from Psalms where David prophesies that there still remains a future rest. He puts them all together to show Israel that God has ordained a future ‘7th day’ for his people to enter into. He uses the 7th day as a symbol of Gods ‘day of Grace and rest’. He then shows Israel that it really wasn’t speaking of the rest of the Promised Land after all, because eventually Israel did inherit it, but yet David still spoke of it in the future tense. So Paul concludes that the future rest of the 7th day that ‘Gods people’ [Jews] still must enter is the offer of grace to the 1st century Jew. Wow! This is why some theologians feel Paul was a little too loose with the scriptures. I think this stuff is great! Paul basically was using all of his understanding as a first century theologian [Pharisee] and was absolutely proving Christ to Israel in a way that none of the other Apostles could do. He was the only Pharisee out of all the Apostles, one born out of due time. This is obviously why Jesus chose him. It is so important to see the connections that Paul is making here. If Israel were following the timeline that Paul is giving, they will see that their own Old Testament scriptures testify that there was a future ‘place of rest’ that would be offered to them as a nation. And Paul also shows that in history, Israel had a pattern of not entering into ‘this rest’ because of unbelief. And then he says ‘but the rest that Joshua finally did give them [the promised land] wasn’t really the true rest after all, because David still spoke of it in a future tense’ then he says ‘see, there remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God’. Seeing this in context clears up many wrong interpretations of these passages. You can still read Hebrews as a Christian and get wonderful principles, but you must see it in context to truly understand what its saying. ‘For he that hath entered into rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his’ amazing, Paul says just like God ceased from creative activity on the ‘7th day’ so likewise when we enter into the covenant of grace, we too will cease from the works of the law. This is so significant to the Jewish community whom Paul is addressing. He is showing them, in their language [Old Testament] the same things he writes to the gentiles in Galatians and Romans. He is using the story of Genesis to show the truth of grace. Out of all the Apostles, Paul is unique in his ability to see Jesus in all of these Old Testament stories. No one could have made a better apologetic for the Christian faith than Paul. ‘Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief’ Now, I have heard it taught that this is telling Christians to ‘work for your rest’. This would be a complete contradiction to this entire letter. But if you see this in context, that the recipients of this letter are 1st century Jews who are already under the bondage of the law, then you read this as ‘those of you Jews who are always working to try and make yourselves righteous, you need to stop working for this, but instead let all your labors and struggles end up at the Cross’ in essence ‘labor [struggle] to see these things I am showing you, and if you do you will find rest’ in the New Covenant of grace! ‘Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession, for we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.’ This of course applies to all of us. Paul and other New Testament writers saw redemption in a way that naturally included everybody. It was only those who rejected it thru unbelief that were missing out. This is why you will see statements made like ‘Jesus is the savior of all men, specially of those that believe’ there was a real sense in the early church that Jesus really redeemed everybody. They were not preaching universal salvation in the sense that everybody will be saved. But the gospel was presented in a way that simply included everybody. So here Paul says ‘we have a high priest’ he is including Israel in the ‘we’. I also like to apply these verses to all of us. How many times do we feel intimidated to come before Gods throne? We feel unworthy and God seems unapproachable. Sort of like Saint John of the Cross who experienced the ‘dark night of the soul’ as well as Mother Theresa. There are times where believers feel separated from God's real presence. It is during these times when God says ‘come boldly, I too have experienced weakness and separation thru the incarnation. I know what it is like. Come to me, I can see what you feel like, I can feel your feelings of weakness and inadequacy, come to me for help my child’. In the next chapter we will read this in depth. Jesus and all the high priests of the law were able to identify with man because they were at one time in mans shoes. This is one of the great realities of the incarnation. NEW NOTES- .SABBATH REST Remember context- in this chapter the writer is appealing to his Jewish brothers. And he reminds them of their own history- he says ‘just like our forefathers died in the wilderness- because they did not BELIEVE’- So beware- if you now reject this new offer of REST- it will be because of UNBELIEF. The writer is making an argument for Justification by Faith here. He spiritualizes the promise of the Promised Land- and the story of Creation and Sabbath Day. He says ‘ok- God RESTED himself on the 7th Day of Creation’. This REST [a type of rest found in Christ and the New Covenant- based on Faith/Grace- NOT WORKS -The law]. Was not the Rest promised to Israel when they entered the Promised Land. Why? Because King David says many years later- in Psalms 95- that a Rest is still in the future. What Rest? The 1st century offer of Grace- thru Faith- not works. See how important context is? So- when he says ‘there still remains a REST TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD’- He is not talking to Christians- as this verse is often seen. No- in the letter of Hebrews- the People of God are the Jewish nation- who now must ‘labor- work- strive’ to believe the Promise of Messiah- and enter into rest. These verses only make sense in this context. Preachers often teach the verse ‘strive to enter into rest- people of God’. And apply that to Christians- who are already ‘in rest’. No- that’s the wrong setting for these verses. But- to the 1st century Jew- under the law- then it makes sense. They were at a transition stage- they were still under the law [works] and they had to beware- because this present promise of grace- just like the Old Testament Promise of entering into the Promised Land- is based on faith. So- when the writer says ‘if you strive- and hear this Gospel of Grace- you can enter into the Sabbath Day Rest’ [a symbol of the covenant of Grace]. And have Rest. See? NOTE- It’s not an ‘accident’ that the writer quotes from Psalms 95- written by Kind David. Jesus is identified as ‘The Son of David’ so it’s thru the Davidic line that the promise of Rest would ultimately be fulfilled. In a sense the writer is saying ‘The Joshua that lead our Fathers into the Promised Land was not the Real One- but the Joshua of the New Testament [Jesus and Joshua are the same word in the Hebrew/Greek English translation] has now come thru the Line of David- and he will lead us into the True Rest- if you Believe’ Psalm 95:6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. Psalm 95:7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Psalm 95:8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: Psalm 95:9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. Psalm 95:10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: Psalm 95:11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest. Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. Genesis 2:3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made. Hebrews 4:1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. Hebrews 4:2 For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. Hebrews 4:3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. Hebrews 4:4 For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. Hebrews 4:5 And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Hebrews 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Hebrews 4:7 Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Hebrews 4:8 For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. Hebrews 4:9 There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. Hebrews 4:10 For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Hebrews 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief. . CHAPTER 5: NEW NOTES BELOW- HIGH PRIEST. TIME TO MOVE ON. ‘For every high priest taken from among men…who can have compassion on the ignorant and on them that are OUT OF THE WAY , for that he himself is compassed about with infirmity’ God once again emphasizes the reality of calling men with faults and weaknesses into leadership. Why? Because according to the law men who themselves have weaknesses could then have compassion and not judge others who are ‘out of the way’. I spent the day yesterday with some homeless friends, a lot of them are ‘out of the way’. They never seemed to transition into the normal routines of life. Many of them will eventually share their experiences of being rejected as kids by their parents. Others have had an abusive childhood. For different reasons they are ‘out of the way’. They also are used to being treated badly by society. One of the guys is a true believer. He is even ordained as a deacon for a homeless church, he reads and teaches the word. Really stands out as a follower of Christ. He is homeless. He told me how sometimes he will go and just sit on church property so he can sense God and spend time praying apart from the other hangouts where guys are drinking and doing drugs. Sometimes the church will call the cops and tell him to move. Now I know the church doesn’t realize he is truly a believer, but it shows you how society treats those who are ‘out of the way’. God chose you, fully knowing your weaknesses and faults, you might think that your faults disqualify you for service, God says they are part of the requirement to be a priest! ‘Christ glorified not himself to be made a priest… thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec’ once again Paul will use his great knowledge of the Old Testament to teach something new. He goes to the story of Melchisedec in the Old Testament. This person was a real priest who Abraham paid tithes to. Later we will read that this means the priesthood of Jesus is superior to that of the law. Many use this verse to justify tithing for gentiles, but it really is showing the superiority of grace over law. Now Paul also finds a prophetic Old Testament verse that says Jesus is a priest from this order. What order? Well there have only ever been 2 priests in this ‘class’ and that was Melchisedec and Jesus. In essence Melchisedec was simply a real person who functioned as a priest before the Levitical priesthood was established. The fact that Paul finds this obscure verse showing that Jesus came from this ‘line’ of priests as opposed to Levi shows that Christ’s priesthood is outside of the law. This is the main reason for Melchisedec’s historical existence. Some teach that he was a preincarnate appearance of Christ because we will read he had no beginning of days or end of life. I kind of lean towards this meaning there is no record in scripture of him having a birth or death. I don’t see Melchisedec as a preincarnate appearance of Christ. I do find it interesting how God raised up a man, before Christ, for the sole purpose of later saying of Jesus ‘you are a priest forever after this order’. In my mind God did it for this sole reason. We know Jesus was slain before the foundation of the world. So basically God raised this priest up just so Jesus could be traced thru his lineage as opposed to Levi. The significance is great in the mind of Paul, because once again this makes the case for Israel to come out of the old system of law [Levi] and come to a priesthood that cannot trace its roots back to the law. This is solely a grace argument; it is not some strange teaching that shows a preincarnate Christ who walked the earth forever. ‘Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec, of whom we have many things to say [I just said some of them!] and hard to be uttered, seeing ye [1st century Israel, NOT CHRISTIANS!] are dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers [God raised Israel up to be a ‘teaching nation’ in the midst of a pagan world. The purpose of God for them as a nation was to influence all the nations around them with the true God. This is why God ordained ways for ‘proselytes’ to come and become partakers of Gods blessings on Israel. This is very important to see here, because as we go into chapter 6 this will be the context to clear up many wrong views of this letter] you have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God’. As we go into chapter six I will show you how ‘the first principles of the Word of God’ are all the elementary teachings of the law, not the message of the Cross! Paul is rebuking Israel because they had a long time to fully get grounded in the law, it was now time for them to move on from these ‘basic teachings’ and into Christ. Paul says they need to be ‘re taught’ the basics again because they are unable to see the pictures that Paul has been painting for them thru this ‘old testament canvas’. So in context, Paul is not telling Christians to ‘move on from the Cross’ as many teach. But he is telling Israel ‘move on from the elementary principles of the law’ unto Christ. This is why it is so important to read this letter in context. NEW NOTES [4-2015] HIGH PRIEST. TIME TO MOVE ON. ‘High priest- after the order of Melchizedek’- Once again we see the writer quoting from Psalms [2, 110]. The point the writer is making- about Melchizedek- is that Jesus comes in a symbolic way- not thru Levi- the priestly tribe of the law. But thru another line [Judah too]. Melchizedek was indeed a real person- a priest talked about in the bible- and we will read later that he had no ‘father or mother’- but a type of Christ- without beginning or end. Most see this as meaning there is no record of a father or mother- so he fits the type. Others think this man was a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ- Either way- the point is Jesus is not a ‘law’ priest- but outside the law. Showing the readers [Jews] that they too need to move on from the base principles of the old covenant- and receive Jesus as the final high priest. Now- context- he says ‘the time has come that you should be teachers- but have need to be taught again’. Ok- I don’t see this as speaking to Christians- but talking to the 1st century Jewish people- the ‘time has come’- We read in Galatians ‘in the Fullness of time’. Israel was supposed to move on in the reality of Jesus as the Messiah- and enter the fullness of the Kingdom. Then as Gods completed people- they would ‘teach the nations’ of the glory of God [in Christ]. Much like what the early disciples did- But- if Israel rejects Christ- as a nation- then they will forfeit this special calling they had. We will read later that they needed to ‘move on from the elementary principles’- Once again- not telling Christians to ‘move on’ [which makes no sense]. But all the elements of the ‘doctrine of Christ’ were indeed contained in the law. These ‘base elements’ are now fulfilled in Christ. Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee. Hebrews 5:6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 5:10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 5:11 Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing. Hebrews 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. Psalm 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Psalm 110:2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Psalm 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. Psalm 110:4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. CHAPTER 6: NEW NOTES- CAN CHRISTIANS BE FORGIVEN- IF THEY FALL? CAN THEY CRUCIFY CHRICT- AGAIN? WHO ARE THE LAPSY? ‘Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ [in Colossians Paul teaches that the ‘principles/ elementary teachings’ are the law. The law contained all the elementary doctrines of Christ, it held all the ‘shadows’ but not the reality! Here the principles are not Christian doctrine, but law], let us go on unto perfection’ Now, it is commonly taught that Paul is exhorting believers to move on to maturity. While it is true that Paul teaches this elsewhere, here he is not teaching it. Here he is telling Israel ‘leave the basics of the law and move on to Christ’. Why is this important to see? Because if you don’t see it this way, then you will have a doctrine that says to believers ‘you must move on from the Cross’ many well meaning preachers have done this, this is why context is so important. When you see it in context, Paul is not saying ‘move on FROM the Cross’ but ‘move on INTO the Cross’! ‘Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works [law], and of faith towards God, of the doctrine of baptisms [washings- Israel had all types of doctrines of baptisms [plural] this is why when John the Baptist came baptizing people in the Jordan, they didn’t say ‘what in the world is this guy doing’ they had the ‘doctrine of baptisms’ engrained in their law! The whole sacrificial system and the tabernacle had all types of lavers {wash basins} and things] ‘and of the laying on of hands [Moses ‘ordained’ 70, you had the ‘laying on of hands’ taught in the law] and of the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment’ Now, all these verses without a doubt describe the law. It is easy to read these verses as applying to the New Covenant, but they really aren’t. In context why would Paul be telling young believers [who these are not! They are Jews on the verge of transition] to leave all the fundamental teachings of Christianity? But he is telling Israel to move on from the basic elements of the law into the reality of what the law was foreshadowing. That is Christ! ‘For it is IMPOSSIBLE for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost’ Israel had Gods Spirit anointing her Kings for thousands of years before the Spirit ever came on the day of Pentecost. They had ‘exclusive rights’ to the things of God pre-Cross. They were made partakers of the Holy Ghost! They were enlightened in a way that no other nation was, they had prophets and priests administrating the things of God all thru out their history. In context Paul is saying ‘if you Jews, who have had this favorable position all thru out your history, if you ‘fall away’ from God at this point by not continuing with his revelation of Messiah, then it is impossible to renew you AGAIN unto repentance’ Part of their system of law was repentance. All the animal sacrifices and works of humility were for this purpose. Paul is warning Israel ‘if you miss this opportunity to believe, don’t think that you can keep bringing your animal sacrifices of repentance anymore, it is impossible to renew that’ Now do you see? No more arguments over whether these are Christians who lose their salvation, or whether these were those who professed but didn’t possess, that’s silly! In context you now know what this means. That’s why I said in the introduction of this commentary that you can’t read a book on mechanics and apply it directly to the human body. But you can glean principles from it that will benefit you. So we see here the great finality of the sacrifice of Jesus. We see its sufficiency to cover and REMOVE all our sins. We see the great doctrine of redemption thru the offering of Jesus. What we don’t see is Christians losing their salvation and being told ‘you can never re dedicate [renew] yourself back again!’ ‘And have tasted the good word of God [Israel was reading scripture thousands of years before Gentiles even knew their was scripture!], and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they CRUCIFY UNTO THEMSELVES THE SON OF GOD AFRESH, and put him to an open shame’ Here it is real important to understand context. How many believers who have struggled with sin have been told ‘you are crucifying Jesus afresh’? Paul never dealt with believers using this language. He told the Corinthians that because they were God’s dwelling place, and the Spirit of God lived in them, that God would judge those who were in unrepentant sin. But he never used this type of language. So why use it here? If Israel rejects Messiah and continues to ‘keep open’ the sacrificial system post Cross, in essence she would be saying ‘we want the sacrifice to continue’ or ‘let’s keep crucifying the Son of God afresh’. In Israel’s mind this would be what they were saying. Paul says ‘don’t do this’ in essence this is an argument, once again, to move on from the law and its sacrifices unto Christ. ‘For the earth that drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, recieveth blessing from God, but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned’ In the parables one of the main themes is Israel not bringing forth fruit to God. The parable of the vineyard, the cursing of the fig tree. In John 15 the branches not bearing fruit are cut off and burned. In all of this imagery Jesus is saying to Israel ‘the time has come for you to produce fruit, the only way a branch can do it is if it is connected to the vine[Jesus], if you reject me you will never produce fruit and your ultimate destiny is judgment’ Paul reiterates that theme here! ‘But we are persuaded better things of you, that which speaks of salvation… for God will not forget your work and labor of love that you have showed towards believers’ Many of the recipients of this letter were those who Paul had preached to in various cities. He would often preach to the Jews on a Sabbath day. After his departure some believed, others were in transition. They still treated the believers well and sort of shared a common fellowship. To these who were not fully converted yet, Paul says ‘God won’t forget how you treated his children, I am persuaded that you will go all the way and show fruits of salvation in Messiah’. ‘Be followers of those who thru faith and patience inherited the promises’ Paul will go thru the rest of this chapter showing how Abraham received promises from God and after many years of waiting he would get the promise. Paul is telling Israel ‘you have waited many years for the promise [Messiah] do like the fathers did, inherit it thru faith and patience’ Paul is showing Israel that the patient waiting for their Messiah was part of the plan. When the promise shows up all you have to do is recognize the time and believe in the promise. Israel was at a dangerous transition time, she could [and did] miss the fulfillment of the promise! ‘Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil: wither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchisedek’ we are going to get into Melchisedek again in chapter 7. Paul lays the groundwork, he is telling Israel ‘we have a great high priest who has entered into Gods presence for us, he is from another tribe [Judah] and therefore you must come out from the ‘law tribe’ [Levi] and into the grace tribe [Judah] and you must leave the Aronic priesthood [law] and enter in to the Melchisedek priesthood [New Covenant]. Everything Paul points to is for the purpose of getting his Jewish brothers to embrace Messiah and the New Covenant, Paul sees everything thru this lens. He is persuaded that Jesus is the only way! NEW NOTES- In this study I’m trying to make the case that the writer is appealing to the 1st century Jew- and when we read ‘there remains a rest to THE PEOPLE OF GOD’ OR ‘those who were once enlightened- and tasted of the heavenly gift and were partakers of the Holy Spirit’- that in context- these are indeed references to the Jewish person- in the 1st century. How can that be? Because all of these covenant blessings- were indeed aspects of the 1st covenant [law] and were unique to Israel. Then- when we read things like ‘if these shall fall away- repentance is impossible’- Why? If the Jewish person- at the time of Christ in the 1st century ‘falls away’- meaning he does not continue in the covenant promises of God- thru the law and prophets- which find fulfillment in Christ-Then yes- he ‘fell away’. Then- if he continues in the old sacrificial system of the law- he in a way ‘crucifies Christ again’. How? The animal sacrifices were a type/symbol of Christ to come. And if you reject Christ as the Messiah- the last and final sacrifice- then in a theological way- you ‘crucify Christ again’. In Hebrews this is a theme- we read things like ‘there is no future repentance’. The church has struggled over these verses for centuries- in the early days of Christianity there were those who ‘re-lapsed’ [called the Lapsy]. They denied the faith- in order to save themselves from death. Then later- the question was asked ‘can they be received back into the church’. Well- these verses in Hebrews- were an obstacle- because they seemed to say there was no future repentance for those who ‘fell away’. Yet- that seems to contradict the concept of Grace and Mercy- which are indeed part of the new Covenant. We read of the Apostle Peters’ denial of Christ- and yet Jesus did forgive him. So- does the bible contradict? No- not if you read it in the context I’m showing you. In the New Testament-there is no ‘repentance’ for those who reject Christ- who ‘blaspheme the Holy Spirit’- Meaning they resist the revelation of God [the Spirts witness] about his Son. And yes- that indeed is the only sin that cannot be forgiven- because it rejects the only solution to sin- which is the final sacrifice of Christ. See? Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Hebrews 6:2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. Hebrews 6:3 And this will we do, if God permit. Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, Hebrews 6:5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, Hebrews 6:6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. HEBREWS 7-9 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/5-7-15-hebrews-7-9.zip [note- some of the posts are too long to post on facebook-so if you just see the video- you can go to the blog and read the post- thanks]. END NOTES OF POST BELOW- WHAT ARE THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS? OCTAVIAN- A GOD? CICERO- MARK ANTONY [or Anthony if you like]. WHO WERE THE ESSENES? DID THE CHURCH ENGAGE IN A GRAND CONSPIRACY? NOTE- On the video I said that Herod the Great had 4 sons who ruled areas at the time of Christ- actually there were 3. Archelaus- Ethnarch of Judea. Antipas- tetrarch of Galilee [I did get this right] and Philip- tetrarch of regions east of the Jordan. CHAPTER 7: NEW NOTES- MELCHIZEDEK/JESUS NEVER DIES. NEW PRIEST- NEW LAW. ‘For this Melchisedek, king of Salem [Jerusalem], priest of the most high God…to whom Abraham gave a tent part of all…without father or mother [no record in scripture!] having neither beginning of days nor end of life [no record of his death or birth] but made like unto the Son of God, abideth a priest continually’ first, Paul is showing the superiority of the New covenant over the Old. These verses are often used to teach tithing to gentile believers, they really teach the opposite! In context they are showing that the New Covenant is greater than the law, therefore the law [represented as Levi being in the loins of Abraham] submitted to Grace [The priesthood of Melchisedek/Jesus] and showing how grace is better than law. Paul’s point is to once again use the Melchisedek figure as a type of Christ. Jesus is called a high priest forever after this order, Paul says in essence ‘this order has priests who have no beginning of days or end of life, the priests in this order have a forever priesthood’. It really is amazing how Paul gets all this from the few verses of scripture that speak of Melchisedek. Many theologians today question even the most obvious truths. Some good ones will say there isn’t enough evidence for certain doctrines. Even though the evidence is 100 times more than what Paul used in his teaching on Melchisedek! I find it interesting how Paul continually sees Jesus thru every story! The man was a true ‘Jesus freak’. ‘Now consider how great this man was, unto whom Abraham gave the tenth…they that are of the sons of Levi have a commandment to TAKE TITHES OF THE PEOPLE ACCORDING TO THE LAW’ Lets settle this once and for all. To all my friends who teach tithing is for Christians today, many of them justify it by saying ‘tithing was before the law [true] in the law and after the law’ I have tried to explain this many times before. This verse shows tithing to be part of the law, specifically, not just ‘during it’. Also, the whole point of the argument here is that Grace and the New Covenant are better than the law. The tithe here is mentioned in a way that shows the superiority of the new covenant over the Old. ‘Levi also paid tithes in Abraham, for he was yet in the loins of his father when Melchisedek met him, if THEREFORE perfection were under the Levitical priesthood, what further need was there that a priest should rise after the order of Melchisedek, and not after Aaron? FOR THE PRIESTHOOD BEING CHANGED, THERE IS A NECESSITY FOR A CHANGE OF THE LAW’. The ‘therefore’s’ are real important. They show you the main reason for the argument. If Paul can prove that God raised up Jesus from another priesthood, then there must also be ‘another covenant’. For this reason [therefore] you [Jew] should move on from the Old one and into the New! ‘For it is evident that out Lord sprang [root out of dry ground!]out of Judah, of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood…who is made not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life, for he says “thou art a priest FOREVER after the order of Melchisedek”. Again Paul gets all he can from the ‘Melchisedek verse’. Because this single text of scripture says ‘Jesus is a priest forever’ therefore God knew all along that he would raise up a priest with an endless life. Wow, Paul even gets the resurrection from this verse! As Paul was learning all these things in a new way after his conversion, it was blowing his mind. He saw all these ‘hidden’ nuggets of wisdom that Israel had all along in hidden form contained in their law. Paul is doing his best to present his case from their own ‘bible’ if you will... ‘For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by which we draw nigh unto God…and they truly were many priests, because they were not permitted to continue by reason of death: but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. WHEREFORE he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him’. Now, we usually read this ‘the guttermost’ but it means something a little different. It means because Jesus has an endless life, he is ‘always’ interceding on our behalf. His very presence continually before the throne is what ‘keeps saving us continually all the time’. It is more along the lines of ‘Jesus never will die; therefore we will continually be saved’. Paul compares this to the insufficiency of the priesthood of the law. Those priest’s ‘meant well’ but the poor brothers kept dying! This showed the total inability of those priests to effectively stand in on our behalf, even though they did all they could do. Jesus, on the other hand, will never die. Who would you prefer to have on your prayer team? Someone who will forget to pray for you down the road, who will last so long? Or someone who will pray for you forever? I know this is a crude way to look at it, but for our gentile minds it gets the point across. ‘For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens’ Paul describes the character of Jesus as ‘harmless’ as someone who would never ‘get even’ who is always pure, the perfect intercessor! There are times in our lives, as well as all ‘natural priests’ that we are not pure, holy or harmless. During these days our prayers can’t get thru. If people are depending on us for true intercession, we let them down. There is never a day where our ‘chief intercessor’ lets us down. There are days when we feel useless, we have failed. Our own agendas get in the way. Days when we are not ‘harmless’. Thank God that our ‘prayer warrior’ is always on the job on our behalf. This is what it means when it says ‘he is able to save to the uttermost that come to God by him’. All you have to do on those down days is ‘come’. ‘Who needeth not daily to offer for sins… he did this once and for all when he offered up himself’ Jesus is the ultimate sacrifice, there will never be another! ‘For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity, but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated forevermore’ Paul takes the verse again where it says ‘thou art a priest forever’ and compares it to the law. He says ‘the oath that God swore when he made Jesus a priest forever, came after the giving of the law. Therefore it supersedes the law. The law made priests that were failing, the oath made a priest who would last forever’ it really is amazing how much use Paul gets from this one verse. He in essence is saying ‘because Jesus was made a priest by this later oath, therefore the former making of priests is no longer in operation. You must leave the Levitical priesthood [law] and enter into the new one made by the oath’ [New Covenant] all the arguments that Paul makes in this letter are always pointing to Jesus as the final word from God. A better covenant with better promises. This is the whole context of Hebrews, for the people to come out of the law and into Christ! NEW NOTES- MELCHIZEDEK/JESUS NEVER DIES. NEW PRIEST- NEW LAW. Ok- we see the Melchizedek figure a bit more here- The writer is saying ‘look- my Jewish brothers- in Psalms 110- King David- a prophet- spoke about another Priesthood. This priesthood is not from the tribe that priests from the law come from [Levi]. But the promise/oath made about this priest [Jesus] says ‘you are a priest FOREVER’. How can this be? The writer says this must mean that David was talking about some future priest- who would have an endless life- How else could anyone be a priest FOREVER? So- David spoke about another priesthood- outside of the law. And this priest is superior to the ‘law’ priests- because those guys died- but this one lives. He also says ‘there must then be a change of the law [Old Covenant] too- because if we have a new priest- then there must be a new TESTAMENT/COVENANT as well’. The whole argument is showing the superiority of what Jesus has done for us- versus the requirements of the Old Law. The writer says ‘see- Abraham our forefather paid tithes to him- and Abraham had the tribe of Levi ‘still in him’ [Abraham was the father of Isaac- Isaac was the father of Jacob [named Israel] and he was the father of the 12 tribes]. Levi being one of those sons/tribes. The point being that this example of Abraham paying tithes to Melchisedek- shows that he [and the priestly line that would follow- Jesus] was superior to the old law/priesthood- because Abraham was blessed by him- and truly ‘the lesser is blessed by the greater’. Once again- this whole argument only makes sense to the 1st century Jew in transition- it has no real relevance to a new- first century- gentile church. Notice how much the writer is ‘getting’ out of this obscure reference in the book of Psalms- We really don’t have a whole lot of stuff in the bible about Melchizedek- but what we do have- is enough. Hebrews 7:1 For this Melchisedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; Hebrews 7:2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Hebrews 7:3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Hebrews 7:4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. Hebrews 7:5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham: Hebrews 7:6 But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. Hebrews 7:7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. Hebrews 7:8 And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth. Hebrews 7:9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham. Hebrews 7:10 For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. Hebrews 7:11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? Hebrews 7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. Hebrews 7:13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. Hebrews 7:14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. Hebrews 7:15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Hebrews 7:16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. Hebrews 7:17 For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. Hebrews 7:18 For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. Hebrews 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. Hebrews 7:20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: Hebrews 7:21 (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) Hebrews 7:22 By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. Hebrews 7:23 And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: Hebrews 7:24 But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Hebrews 7:25 Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:26 For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Hebrews 7:27 Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. Hebrews 7:28 For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore. Genesis 14:17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king's dale. Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. Genesis 14:19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: Genesis 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all. CHAPTER 8: NEW NOTES- NEW LAW. NEW PRIEST. NEW COVENANT. ‘Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: we have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the majesty in the heavens; a minister of the sanctuary and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man’ Now, to be fair, I have done a lot of teaching on how the Church [people of God] are the place where God ‘tabernacles’. But in Hebrews when Paul speaks of Gods tabernacle he is speaking of heaven itself. Why the difference? Is this a contradiction? The best way I can explain it is when Paul is writing the gentile believers, he is showing them the truth that they are the Body of Christ. When he is writing to Israel in transition, he is not going to address them as ‘the Body of Christ’ because he is still trying to persuade them to ‘come into this Body!’. Is this a contradiction? How can he write the gentiles who believe and tell them God is in you, and then write the Jews and tell them ‘God is in heaven’? Because these are both true! The reality of God dwelling in the church does not mean that God doesn’t also dwell in heaven. He is ‘omni present’. So in Hebrews Paul sticks with the theme as heaven itself being the true tabernacle, as opposed to the earthly one that Moses built. ‘Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for see, saith he, that thou make all things after the pattern showed thee in the mount’ Moses was seeing a pattern that God revealed to him ‘on the mountain’. God shows us things in the Spirit first, and then we build. Jesus said he did/said only what he saw the Father doing first. I feel much of modern ministry comes from an insecurity to want to act/do something for God. We all fall into this at times. We want to see action, which is a noble thing, but then because we are impatient we go out and produce an Ishmael! It’s not like Abraham wasn’t believing God at all when he did this. He kind of thought that maybe this was Gods way of fulfilling the promise. I heard a Prophet testify of how he prophesied that a woman was to have a child. She was barren at the time. Years later as they were sharing how it came to pass, they shared how they eventually went and adopted a child. This was a well known Prophet on a national level. I think he might have just missed it! The point is we at times try our best to make Gods word come to pass, we need to wait on the mountain [in his presence] and let him ‘download’ the pattern in his time. After you ‘see’ what God wants, then run with the vision and make it plain upon tables, but wait until he shows you the pattern! ‘For if that covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the 2nd. For finding fault WITH THEM he saith, behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah: not according to the covenant that I made with them when I took them out of Egypt’. Now, God says thru Jeremiah that he would make a new covenant with Israel. Paul starts to tread on dangerous ground with his Jewish readers. He has been accused and slandered as someone who disdains the law of Moses and wants to do away with all Jewish tradition. These were the accusations that Paul had to fight thru out his ministry. Paul taught in his other letters that the law was good, but man was sinful, therefore the law failed as a means to make man righteous [just]. Now Paul clearly teaches [Galatians/Romans] that the law actually had a tendency to bring out mans sinful nature. If you tell a kid ‘don’t touch this wet paint’ sure enough the suggestion itself will cause the kid to think about it and do it. Now Paul taught that the purpose of the law was simply to bring to the surface mans sinful nature. It’s not that the law is unrighteous [Romans] it’s that men are sinful. I have heard preachers teach that the law plays a role in restraining sin In believers. No it doesn’t! It does play a role in society to keep anarchy from overrunning earthly governments, but it does not ‘harness’ the sinful nature of man. So Paul is telling Israel that God all along planned on bringing them into a new covenant [not a ‘completed’ Jew. Only in the sense that the ‘completion’ is that Israel would leave the old covenant and enter into the foretold new one. More of a transition into fullness than a continuation of something old. Jesus said his blood was the blood of the ‘new covenant’ not the fulfilling of an old one. I share this because a lot of believers teach a doctrine of the ‘Abrahamic covenant’ being fulfilled in us. There is a sense where you can teach this, but some do not see what I just showed you!] So Paul is telling Israel ‘leave the old shadows[covenant] behind, the Prophets [Jeremiah] said you were to come into a new one, so COME!’ ‘For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people…for I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. In that he saith a new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to VANISH AWAY!’ This new covenant is one where God writes his word [law] on the hearts and minds of people. No longer will they strive to keep outward observances, but by nature will fulfill the intent of the law [Romans]. Once again Paul is not telling Israel that they can keep their old covenant [this is what some in ‘New Perspective’ theology teach] but he is telling them the old covenant is decaying and getting ready to pass from the scene. So enter into this new one! Also it says ‘they will have no need to teach every man the law, for all shall know me’. I find it interesting that I will run into Christians who have been homeless for years. Many of them never really had the same advantages of study and research like myself [thru the net, libraries and all types of stuff] and yet many of them have come to the same conclusions and understanding of scripture as I have. God’s Spirit has a way of getting truth to his people in a way that no ‘outward law’ could ever accomplish. In essence Paul is teaching that the New Law will be built into mans nature at the New Birth and God will become his primary instructor [1st John ‘you have no need that any man teach you, but the Spirit in you will guide you into all truth’ This doesn’t mean God has no teachers in the church, because that would contradict Paul’s letters. But it means Gods Spirit is the final authority, he is the one resident in the earthly teachers who is doing the instruction. Teachers are ‘gifts’ made/given by the Spirit to the church]. ‘Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more’ Paul will use this to teach the finality of the one sacrifice of Christ. He will say ‘if God doesn’t remember your sins any more, then there is no more need for sacrifice!’ So he sees the Cross in the simple phrase ‘God will not remember your sins any more’ once again Paul sees Jesus everywhere! NEW NOTES- NEW LAW. NEW PRIEST. NEW COVENANT. We see Jesus as the high priest- of a greater tabernacle- a heavenly one. Moses and the law- and the Levitical priests- were all earthly symbols of the true heavenly kingdom. Jesus is a heavenly priest [at the right hand of God] and he now serves in a heavenly sanctuary [heaven- also can be seen as the kingdom of heaven/God- he is with us as our high priest- we are the city ‘coming down from God out of heaven’ [Revelation] - we are the Bride of Christ- we are the ‘new Jerusalem’ Galatians]. Once again- we see the contrast. The New Covenant- has a new- and final high priest- Jesus. It has a better- heavenly tabernacle [heaven- as opposed to the tent of Moses]. And it has a ‘better law’- that is it’s a covenant based on grace- where the law of God is written on the minds and hearts of those who believe. The writer quotes Jeremiah 31- which is a prophecy of a coming time [here now] where God would regenerate his people- they would be born anew- and the outward covenant- written on tablets of stone- Will now be ‘written’ upon the heart and mind. We read that the first covenant was unable to really change the heart- ‘God found fault with it- them’. Some manuscripts say it this way- meaning the law was perfect- holy- good [Paul teaches this is Romans and Galatians]but the problem was ‘he found fault with them/us. Meaning man was unable to live up to the standard- because he has a sinful nature. And we read in the other letters of Paul that the law only revealed our sin to us- it had no power to change the inner man. So Jesus is at the right hand of God- he intercedes for us- and his Spirit is within us. Jeremiah spoke of this coming day- and it was the real ‘promised land’ that Israel was waiting for- it’s now here- in Christ. Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens; Hebrews 8:2 A minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man. Hebrews 8:4 For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law: Hebrews 8:5 Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount. Hebrews 8:6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. Hebrews 8:7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. Hebrews 8:8 For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Hebrews 8:9 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. Hebrews 8:10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: Hebrews 8:13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. CHAPTER 9: END NOTES [chapter 9] 2 ROOMS. THE BRANCH THAT BUDDED. WHEN DOES A WILL HAVE POWER? ‘Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary’ Let me stop here and cover some stuff. Some ‘old time’ churches [high church model] feel the future of the church is ‘liturgical’. One of my favorite Catholic theologians is Scott Hahn. He believes and teaches that God’s purpose for all these Old Testament symbols was for the purpose of MORE SYMBOLS! A lot of these brothers mean well, but I take Paul’s position. Here Paul states that the first covenant [notice, he calls the Old Law the ‘FIRST’ covenant, and the New covenant the second [or last]. This refutes dispensational theology which sees the law as the 2nd or 3rd covenant after Abraham and Noah. Paul and Jesus refer to only 2 main covenants. The Old and New] had a ‘worldly sanctuary’ but the second one doesn’t! The second covenant has Jesus in heaven at the real sanctuary in Gods presence. So you see right away Paul showing that all the earthly ‘liturgical symbols’ played a role in Gods purpose, but they were simply pointing to a future reality [Christ] that would be the fulfillment of the shadows. So the future of the church is not ‘liturgical’ in as much as it is ‘reality’. We are living under an open heaven right now. Jesus is really at Gods right hand advocating for us! ‘For there was a tabernacle made, the first [first room]wherein was candlestick, the table and the shewbread..after the second veil the holiest of all…now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle [room]..but into the second room the high priest went alone once every year, with blood, which he offered for himself and the sins of the people: the Holy Ghost signifying that the way into the holiest of all was not made manifest while the first tabernacle was yet standing’ There is a lot here. Some commentaries confuse the ‘2 tabernacles’ as 2 different structures. What it is speaking about is one structure, with 2 different rooms. Now the fact that the ‘first room’ had daily access by the priest, but the 2nd room had annual access only by the high priest once a year was in itself a symbol of grace in Paul’s mind. Paul says ‘the fact that the first room [first covenant] stood in the way of the second room [a type of the 2nd covenant] was a picture of the 2 covenants. And the first one ‘blocked’ free entrance into the second one, so likewise today [1st century] the first room [old covenant] is standing in the way of the second room [new covenant]’. Wow! Paul really did do a lot of ‘reading into’ scripture. Hey, I like this stuff! ‘Which was a figure FOR THE TIME THEN PRESENT, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect as pertaining to the conscience; which stood only in meats and drinks, and DIVERS WASHINGS [remember what we said in chapter 6? ‘baptisms’ can be translated ‘washings’] and carnal ordinances [liturgy!] imposed on them UNTIL THE TIME OF REFORMATION [the 1st century coming of Messiah]’ All the symbols were only given for a time. God always intended for there to be a day when his people would leave the symbols behind and move into the reality. This is not to say that Christians have no reminders or ‘ordinances/sacraments’ in the sense that Jesus told us to ‘do this in remembrance of me’ at the last supper. So God does have ways for us to remember the work of the Cross, but the overall ‘carnal ordinances’ of the law were only for a temporary period of time, when that which is perfect has come [Jesus] then that which is in part passes away! ‘But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands… neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place [heaven in this context] having obtained eternal redemption for us…how much more shall the blood of Christ, who thru the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works [law, remember chapter 6 verse 1?] to serve the living God?’ Paul includes all 3 aspects of the Trinity here. Paul is telling the most fundamental reality of the New Covenant. We are redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb! To the Jew who was inundated with legalistic sacrifices his whole life, for him to be told that Gods own Son offered up himself once and for all for all the sins of man, was an unbelievable freedom. Its like if you were brought up in a legalistic church [there are many of them!] and were taught from a young boy that you had to pray for 3 hours a day, read 25 chapters of scripture, wear long pants and suits all day [even in summer!] and you lived under this bondage of a never ending strain to please God. Then one day God reveals to you that you don’t have to do any of it anymore, Jesus did it all! You would be relieved, you would still pray and read scripture, but not out of a sense of obligation, but more from a sense of thanksgiving [you would probably also burn all those suits as a sign of no more sacrifices!] So to the Jewish readers of this letter, it is absolutely too good to be true to be told NO MORE SACRIFICES just rest in grace! ‘And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of transgressions under the FIRST [not 3rd!] testament… for a testament is of force after men are dead’ Paul teaches that the death of Christ was for the purpose of redeeming those who had ‘built up’ a record of sin and transgression under the first testament. He shows that the law and its sacrifices were a temporary fix that simply looked forward to Christ. In Peter’s epistle you also see the idea that those who were under the law were in a waiting stage[in death] until the time of true redemption in Christ. These ideas were crucial for the 1st century Jew to understand that God allowed them to continue for many years under the Old Covenant, but it was for the future purpose of Christ. Many times in theological discussions you will find believers saying ‘we have believed and done things a certain way for so long, how can you now come along and shake up the apple cart’? The point is God often allows his people to function in limited paradigms until the time of reformation and change. The fact that he allowed you to continue for a long time in a limited understanding, does not justify never moving on into maturity! Paul is telling Israel ‘God allowed you to build up a ‘record’ [deposit] of past sin and transgression, and he knew all along that a day was coming when Christ would ransom all those who were in this limited system’. ‘Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood…saying this is the blood of the testament…he sprinkled the tabernacle and all the vessels of ministry…it was necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices. For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are figures of the true, but into heaven itself now to appear in the presence of God for us’ Paul says that just like the blood of the Old Covenant cleansed both the tabernacle and the vessels, so Jesus blood cleansed ‘heaven’ as well as ‘all the vessels of ministry’[us!] This speaks of themes found in Romans where scripture speaks of all creation yearning for redemption. There is a sense where the curse has affected all creation, therefore the benefits of redemption will affect it as well. In these verses we are taught that the blood of Christ has already had a redemptive effect on ‘the heavens’. ‘Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year…but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment. So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation’. Here we see the completeness of Christ's sacrifice. Once and for all! While the Old Testament made temporary provision for mans sin, Jesus, as the mediator of a new and better covenant, makes complete redemption and atonement for mans sin. The proof of this is the fact that Jesus sacrifice only happened once in history, therefore God must have accepted it as sufficient for all time! END NOTES [chapter 9] 2 ROOMS. THE BRANCH THAT BUDDED. WHEN DOES A WILL HAVE POWER? The writer compares the earthly tabernacle- with the heavenly one [not meaning an actual tabernacle- like the earthly one- but heaven itself]. Under the law- the priests went daily into the first room [the tabernacle had 2 rooms- separated by a veil]. The high priest went into the back room [called the holy of holies] once a year. In this room the ark of the covenant rest- the ark was the ‘box’ that held the 10 commandments. It also had Manna- and the branch of Arron the priest- that budded [this was a sign when God chose which tribe would be for priests- they took a branch from each tribe- and the one that supernaturally budded- would be the tribe. This was a sign/symbol of Christ- who was a ‘root out of a dry ground’- also called ‘the man whose name is the branch’]- These prophecies speak about Christ rising from the dead- and also being born from the Virgin Mary. The writer says that these Old Testament signs showed us that ‘perfection’ did not come from the law. Because those priests had to keep doing those things- year after year. And if their service was really effective- it would have come to an end- because once the offering was made- then that would put an end to the guilt of the people. Jesus offered himself once- showing that his sacrifice for the sins of men was the final one. The King James version says that the sacrifice of Christ frees the people from DEAD WORKS. Some translations simply say works of sin- which can be true. But I think- in this case- ‘dead works’ is better- because it can actually be speaking of the works of the law- meaning the sacrifice of Christ has freed us [them- 1st century Jew] from these DEAD WORKS of the law- and they can now move on in the Cross of Christ. We also see that Jesus sealed this New Testament in his Blood- because it is only after the death of a person that the will has power. So Jesus died for our sins- thus giving power to the covenant. Hebrews 9:1 Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. Hebrews 9:2 For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary. Hebrews 9:3 And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the Holiest of all; Hebrews 9:4 Which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; Hebrews 9:5 And over it the cherubims of glory shadowing the mercyseat; of which we cannot now speak particularly. Hebrews 9:6 Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God. Hebrews 9:7 But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: Hebrews 9:8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing: Hebrews 9:9 Which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience; Hebrews 9:10 Which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation. Hebrews 9:11 But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Hebrews 9:12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh: Hebrews 9:14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? Hebrews 9:15 And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. Hebrews 9:16 For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. Hebrews 9:17 For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. Hebrews 9:18 Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. Hebrews 9:19 For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, Hebrews 9:20 Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. Hebrews 9:21 Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. Hebrews 9:22 And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission. Hebrews 9:23 It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. Hebrews 9:24 For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Hebrews 9:25 Nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; Hebrews 9:26 For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: Hebrews 9:28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation. Exodus 24:6 And Moses took half of the blood, and put it in basons; and half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. Exodus 24:7 And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the LORD hath said will we do, and be obedient. Exodus 24:8 And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words. END NOTES OF POST- WHAT ARE THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS? OCTAVIAN- A GOD? CICERO- MARK ANTONY [or Anthony if you like]. WHO WERE THE ESSENES? DID THE CHURCH ENGAGE IN A GRAND CONSPIRACY? END NOTES [I posted the video for this portion a few days ago- it goes along with Hebrews 7-9 video/post] The past few weeks I had a few friends ask me about the Dead Sea Scrolls- and a few other questions about the ‘lost books of the bible’ and some other common- and mistaken ideas [like the original sin being Eve had sex with the serpent]. So- I figured I would cover a little Jewish history- which would help in this study of Hebrews- And also hit on a few of these subjects. As we read Hebrews- it helps to also understand some of the history that we don’t have in our bibles [though the Catholic bibles do have some of it in the Apocrypha]. Ok- the ruling empire at the time of Christ was Rome- just prior to the appearance of Jesus- the Roman Emperor- Caesar Augustus- consolidated the Roman Empire under his rule- Rome was ruled by a senate- some famous names from history were in it- Cicero being one. Caesar Augustus was the nephew of Julius Caesar- his real name was Octavian [Octavius]. After the death of Julius Caesar- there were some power struggles that took place- between some other famous people. Marc Antony being one of them [Cleopatra too- he was in love with the girl for sure]. Now- we read about Augustus in the New Testament- and we read in the book of Revelation about the Mark of the Beast- and that those who don't worship- give homage to the Beast- they will be killed. So- Many Christians would be killed because they would refuse to give homage to Caesar Augustus [meaning son of the Divine]. ‘Wow- how did he get a name like that’ [there was more than one Caesar by the way- as well as more than one Herod- who did play a part in these power struggles- it can get confusing- even to me]. When Octavian defeated Marc Antony at Actium [32 BC]. Herod [The Great] had a problem- he had previously sided with Antony and found himself on the losing side. Yet he was smart- did some ‘brown nosing’ as we say-and patched things up. Herod had 3 sons- who would eventually take positions of authority in the Roman government at the time of Christ. Herod Antipas was over the region that we read about in the New Testament where Jesus did most of his ministry- Galilee. Ok- Octavian claimed deity because of a heavenly sign associated with his rise to power- and this is how he became called ‘Caesar Augustus’. He sort of saw himself as a ‘re-incarnate’- of his great uncle Julius Caesar. ‘John- what in the heck does this have to do with the Dead Sea Scrolls’. Ok- good question. The Jews had various responses to the empires that ruled over them during various times. Alexander the Great instituted Hellenization- a sort of cultural compromise over the people he conquered. They could keep their religious/cultural roots- but would be subservient to Alexander and Greek rule. Some Jewish people rejected any compromise- we call them the Essenes- they moved out of town- so to speak, and lived in what we refer to as the Qumran community. This was a few centuries before the time of Christ- and this was where the Dead Seas Scrolls were found in the 20th century. A Bedouin boy was looking for his goats- threw a rock in a cave right off the Dead Sea- and that’s how we found the scrolls. The scrolls might have been hidden there by the Essenes- Now- when my friends asked me about them- I told them that it’s been a while since I read up on any of this- but to the best of my memory the thing that made them significant was the fact that they were very old manuscripts- from the bible- and they backed up what we had had all along. I did read up this week- and basically had it right. The earliest Hebrew manuscripts of the Old Testament we had previously dated back to around 900- 1000 A.D. These manuscripts went back about 1000 years earlier- and they contained portions from almost every book of the Old testament- and some complete books. The only book missing was Esther. So- this was indeed a very significant find for scholars. But the Scrolls also contain some of the writings from the Essenes themselves- things we never had before- so this too was significant. There were Jews at the time of the first century who tried to ‘get along’ with Rome- and with the person in charge of their region [one of the sons of Herod the Great at the time of Christ]. These are referred to as Herodian’s in the bible. Some wanted a revolution to rid Rome from Jerusalem- these were the Zealots [one of Jesus disciples was in this group]. Some thought if they returned to a legalistic obeisance of the law- that this would bring in a deliverer- like the stories we read about in the Old testament- these were the Pharisees. And some took more of a political compromise- these were the Sadducees. Eventually a war with Rome would be fought [By the way- Josephus- the famous 1st century historian- fought on the side of the Jews in the war- and after Jerusalem was sacked in A.D. 70- he went to Rome and wrote his great works- thinking he would make a case for the Jewish people with the Romans. This is why we have his works today- which are very valuable to scholars]. NOTE- In time I’ll try and cover how we ‘got our bibles’ [called the Canon- meaning Rule/ Measurement]. Frankly- there is a lot of confusion in the general public about conspiracies [like the Catholic Church had some type of plot to keep certain books out]. Or stories about how the Church taught Mary Magdalene was a prostitute so they could discredit her. Actually- we read in the gospels that Jesus cast out ‘spirits’ from a woman who was probably living this type of life- And Jesus had a ministry to the down and out- it is indeed possible that Mary was one of these women- And if true- it would not demean her in any way- That’s how this tradition more than likely developed- But- we don’t know for sure. So a few years back the Church officially said ‘we don’t know’. Ok- Plot? No- just being careful. So there are other misguided beliefs like this- that sincere people have- and over time I hope to get to them. I’ll do one more in keeping with this post. I mentioned above that Caesar Augustus did indeed take the title of ‘son of God’. And some critics of the Church say ‘see- there were all types of religions that had Sons of God’. I watched one show a few years back- and it stated that these religions had ’12 disciples- a leader named Lord and Savior- and he healed and claimed to be God’s Son- and rose from the dead’. Ok- that show was ‘fibbing’ to put it lightly- they went too far [historically speaking] in trying to diminish the Christians claim of Christ by doing this. Now- is there some truth to this at all? Yes- like I just mentioned above- Octavian did indeed claim deity- a ‘son of god’. So- how do we explain this? In the book of Galatians the bible says ‘in the FULLNESS of times God sent forth his Son’. Jesus came at a set time in history- in fulfilment of the Jewish Prophets- to be who he was- and to do what he did. Now- this is not special pleading here- but I find it a masterpiece that God’s Son came at a time when the Roman Empire had one sitting on the throne- who too claimed deity. Yet Jesus was in a region of the lower class- his men were not highly educated- and his followers were people under oppression. Augustus lived in the wealthy and influential capital of ‘the world’- he had all you could ever ask for- he was worshiped as a god. Yet in 3 short centuries- one of the heirs of the empire- Constantine- would have an experience – not with a former Caesar- but with a vison of a Cross- He would convert to Christianity- and declare Christianity to be the religion of the realm. He would then ‘convert’ the pagan temples- into churches for these followers of Christ. So I don’t see the fact that Augustus claimed to be a son of god right before Christ- as some type of discredit to the claims of Christ. No- I see it as God’s way of pulling the rug out from the oppressor- see? [Oh- by the way- only one of them rose from the dead- can you guess?] Psalm 109:1 Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; Psalm 109:2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. Psalm 109:3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. Psalm 109:4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. Psalm 109:5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. Psalm 109:6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. Psalm 109:7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. Psalm 109:8 Let his days be few; and let another take his office. Psalm 109:9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. Psalm 109:10 Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. Psalm 109:11 Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour. Psalm 109:12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children. Psalm 109:13 Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out. Psalm 109:14 Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered with the LORD; and let not the sin of his mother be blotted out. Psalm 109:15 Let them be before the LORD continually, that he may cut off the memory of them from the earth. Psalm 109:16 Because that he remembered not to shew mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, that he might even slay the broken in heart. Psalm 109:17 As he loved cursing, so let it come unto him: as he delighted not in blessing, so let it be far from him. Psalm 109:18 As he clothed himself with cursing like as with his garment, so let it come into his bowels like water, and like oil into his bones. Psalm 109:19 Let it be unto him as the garment which covereth him, and for a girdle wherewith he is girded continually. Psalm 109:20 Let this be the reward of mine adversaries from the LORD, and of them that speak evil against my soul. Psalm 109:21 But do thou for me, O GOD the Lord, for thy name's sake: because thy mercy is good, deliver thou me. Psalm 109:22 For I am poor and needy, and my heart is wounded within me. Psalm 109:23 I am gone like the shadow when it declineth: I am tossed up and down as the locust. Psalm 109:24 My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth of fatness. Psalm 109:25 I became also a reproach unto them: when they looked upon me they shaked their heads. Psalm 109:26 Help me, O LORD my God: O save me according to thy mercy: Psalm 109:27 That they may know that this is thy hand; that thou, LORD, hast done it. Psalm 109:28 Let them curse, but bless thou: when they arise, let them be ashamed; but let thy servant rejoice. Psalm 109:29 Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle. Psalm 109:30 I will greatly praise the LORD with my mouth; yea, I will praise him among the multitude. Psalm 109:31 For he shall stand at the right hand of the poor, to save him from those that condemn his soul. Psalm 110:1 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. Psalm 110:2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Psalm 110:3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. Psalm 110:4 The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. Psalm 110:5 The Lord at thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. Psalm 110:6 He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries. Psalm 110:7 He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head. Psalm 111:1 Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. Psalm 111:2 The works of the LORD are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein. Psalm 111:3 His work is honourable and glorious: and his righteousness endureth for ever. Psalm 111:4 He hath made his wonderful works to be remembered: the LORD is gracious and full of compassion. Psalm 111:5 He hath given meat unto them that fear him: he will ever be mindful of his covenant. Psalm 111:6 He hath shewed his people the power of his works, that he may give them the heritage of the heathen. Psalm 111:7 The works of his hands are verity and judgment; all his commandments are sure. Psalm 111:8 They stand fast for ever and ever, and are done in truth and uprightness. Psalm 111:9 He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name. Psalm 111:10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do his commandments: his praise endureth for ever. HEBREWS 10-13 https://ccoutreach87.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/5-17-15-aristotle-and-the-city-of-god-real-windy.zip END NOTES OF POST- Masada. Hadrian. Judaism in transition. Did they ‘move on’ ? Who was Elazar ben Yair? End notes of chapter- IS THERE MEANING TO THE ACTUAL ORDER OF BIBLE VERSES? HOW DID THE SPIRIT ‘TESTIFY’ TO THE FINAL SACRIFICE? WHY DOES THE WRITER CONTINUE TO SAY THE NEW COVENANT IS HARSHER? CHAPTER 10: ‘For the law having a SHADOW of good things to come, AND NOT the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect. For then would they not have ceased to be offered? Because that the worshipers once purged should have no more conscience of sins. But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year’. Paul shows how the simple fact of ongoing sacrifices in and of itself testifies of the insufficiency of the law. The on going sacrifices were a reminder that the peoples sins were still there. If the sacrifices really worked, then why do it over and over again every year? He will contrast this with the singular sacrifice of Christ. The fact that Jesus did it once shows the superiority of his sacrifice over the law. ‘Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. THEN SAID HE, lo, I come to do thy will O God. ABOVE WHEN HE SAID sacrifice and offering…THEN HE SAID, lo, I come to do thy will O God. He taketh away the first that he may establish the second’ Here Paul uses the actual order of the verses in Psalms to prove that the Old law will pass away and a New covenant will replace it. The fact that David [Psalms] says ‘sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared for me’ in this order shows that God always planned on taking away the sacrificial system and replacing it with Christ [or fulfilling it!] So even in the simple prophetic order of these statements Paul sees the Old law passing away and a new one being instituted. Wow again! ‘By the which will we are sanctified thru the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every high priest STANDETH daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, SAT DOWN on the right hand of God’ The comparison here is that the priests under the law stood, showing their sacrifices were never sufficient, they could never say ‘it is finished’. The fact that they stood while offering sacrifices showed the incompleteness of the system. Jesus sat down. This showed that his sacrifice was once and for all. Now, no where does scripture teach this concept between ‘sitting and standing’. Where does Paul get this stuff from? From ‘revelation’, that is God is supernaturally showing this stuff to Paul as he writes. This is the prophetic element of scripture. While we don’t ‘write scripture’ any more today, there are still lots of hidden meanings that we don’t fully see yet. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to ‘bring to our remembrance all the things that Jesus taught us’ [also all the things about Jesus!] So when you read the Old Testament, look for Jesus! He is there in more ways than you realize. ‘For by ONE offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us [of what? Of the singularity of Christ’s offering. The fact that the Holy Spirit thru Jeremiah prophesied that God would never remember our sins any more speaks to the truth of the one offering of Christ, we will read ‘if there is no more remembrance, then there is no more sacrifice’] this is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin’. Do you see the point Paul is making? It is common for preachers and Christians to read these letters and to simply glean practical truths from them. That’s OK. But like I said in the introduction, when you see these things in context, then you can still make practical application, plus you are seeing the relevance behind the teaching. The practical part of this is ‘wow, God will not bring my sins back up into remembrance before his face!’ Now that’s practical! ‘Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest [true holy place, that is Gods presence in the throne room] by the BLOOD OF JESUS, by a new and living way[ the early Christians were at times called ‘the way’] which he hath consecrated for us, thru the veil, that is to say his flesh’ We now have total access to the Father thru the Son. This is the ONLY WAY man can have this access! It is common today to teach a type of pluralism that says ‘all religions will eventually lead us to God’ some will lead straight to hell! Sorry. The only way to the Father is thru the Son. God ordained it to be so. Don’t fight over it, God says ‘come freely’ those who don’t come, they will never GET THERE! Jesus flesh is called the ‘veil’. During the crucifixion the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom. Most believers know the significance of this. I would submit to you that when the scripture says ‘the veil was ripped’ that it was not only speaking of the actual veil that was in the temple on that day, but it was also prophetically speaking of the true veil, Jesus Body, that was being torn apart on the Cross. The veil of the temple not only restricted access for man coming to God, but it also separated God from the true community of people. The tearing of the veil [Jesus body] not only allowed man to have access to Gods presence in heaven, but it also opened the door for the Spirit of God to tabernacle with men on the day of Pentecost. After the tearing of Jesus flesh [which Jesus is also called the door] it is like a door opened, both letting man into the presence of God, as well as ‘letting’ God tabernacle with men [note- Jesus ‘Emmanuel’ was ‘God with us’ so in a sense God was already tabernacling among men thru Christ, but at Pentecost God ‘spread’ this ‘tabernacling’ to a community with worldwide potential, as Christians would increase thru out the ages, so would Gods presence increase as he dwells in men. Thus the Kingdom starts small, like a little leaven, and before you know it the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of the Lord. It culminates at the second coming of Christ]. ‘And having an high priest over the house of God [remember, even though in Hebrews Paul speaks of heaven itself as the tabernacle, yet he also told the Jews ‘who’s house are we, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end’] let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water [baptism]. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering [for he is faithful that promised] and let us provoke one another to love and good works: not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another…’ A few things here. First, Paul is exhorting them to ‘get washed in pure water’ [baptism]. Remember, some of the recipients of this letter were believing in the message as Paul preached it as he traveled thru their cities, others were still on the edge. In this chapter it seems as if he is saying ‘some of you who have heard and seen all of these things, it’s time to make the decision to go all the way. Others have made a good profession, you too need to stick with the message’. Now, to those who would ‘revert’ back to the law, after they ‘received’ the truth, Paul says there is only judgment down the road. Even though they heard and the message reached them. Even though Paul presents the gospel in a way that says ‘you are all sanctified’ yet there was always the danger of apostasy. Those who believe you can lose your salvation [Arminians] take these verses and say ‘see, those who were once sanctified, if they sin, they face judgment’. I have actually viewed this chapter in different ways in the past. I never saw it as the Arminians, but I have debated over whether or not Paul was saying ‘now that you are believers, don’t think you can get away with sin, remember there is only one sacrifice, if you keep sinning God will judge you’ [not hell, but chastening]. But I have come to view it more along the lines of ‘those of you who are still in transition, you have made a good profession, Jesus blood has sanctified everyone [in a sense] so if you continue to sin [go back to the old system that taught that continual sin was part of the plan. Remember, the law made provision for continual sinning. This worldview of sin and judgment was unique to the Jewish community of the day. It really should have been easier to convert Israel, they already had a ‘Jewish’ world view. But one of the dangers of this world view was they had provision for ongoing sin. The idea of ‘continuing to sin’ was engrained in their culture. Paul is warning them that in Christ the fact that there is only one sacrifice means you cant still live with the worldview of ‘I will continue to sin’] In essence Paul seems to be saying ‘if you continue to sin, and think that the Cross is like the old system, then you are fooling yourselves. The fact that the Cross happened only once means that it is sufficient to truly cleanse you once and for all from your sin’ to those who wanted to keep sinning, because it was fun, Paul says ‘watch out, judgment awaits’. So in keeping with what I showed you in chapter 6, I see this chapter continuing to appeal to Jews, some who have even made an initial profession, but he still had to warn them about going back to their old way of continuing to sin. Remember, there were many who were preaching that the law was still necessary for salvation, Paul is telling them it isn’t. ‘For if we sin willfully [something that was expected under the law, that’s why they had all the sacrifices!] after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses law died without mercy under 2 or 3 witnesses: of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?’ Once again Paul contrasts the severity of the law to the New Covenant. Remember how earlier Paul showed that those who ‘neglect so great a salvation’ have more to worry about than those who rejected ‘the word of angels’ [law] Here Paul again says ‘Those who disrespected the old system died without mercy, how much worse shall it be for those who disrespect the blood of the everlasting covenant’ I see this being directed at those who never fully convert to Christ. While Gods discipline is also harsh on believers who continue to live in rebellion [Corinthians] this language is never used of believers. So Paul is saying ‘beware, if you decide to walk away from all that has been presented to you, you will bear a much harsher punishment than those who sinned under the law’. What was the punishment of those who sinned under law? They died. What is the punishment of those who reject so great salvation? Eternal judgment. Let me add a note about ‘not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together’. It is common to use this verse to defend ‘Sunday church’ a lot of times it is used in this way to fight against the house church movement. What is the context here? The Jews already met together regularly before they believed in Christ. They had both temple and synagogue. Paul is simply saying ‘after you convert, keep getting together’ this is not a verse for defending Sunday church! [It is OK to go to church on Sunday]. ‘For we know him that hath said, vengeance belongeth unto me…the Lord shall judge his people’ In context, remember how I already showed you that ‘his people’ and ‘holy brethren’ and other terms like this in Hebrews can be speaking of 1st century Israel in transition? They were still considered ‘his people’ at the time the gospel was presented to them. Ultimately when they rejected Christ they would lose that designation, but many of the terms in this letter speak to Israel this way. So ‘his people’ can most definitely describe believers. But in context in this letter it more than likely is saying ‘don’t forget Israel, God does judge his people. So don’t think that your natural heritage of ‘being his people’ will get you out of the crunch this time!’ The Jews were always appealing to their privileged position with God ‘we have Abraham as our father’ they would always appeal to their ‘pure’ orthodox heritage, here Paul says ‘God will judge all of us based on what we do with his Son, even ‘his people’! ‘For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods’ many of the Jews who were embracing Paul’s message did suffer persecution. Historically we know many of them were plundered. They lost their goods! It’s funny, Paul doesn’t say ‘get back what the enemy stole from you’ [though you can!] but he says ‘don’t worry about the loss of your wealth and stuff, you have a better inheritance of eternal things in heaven’. Most modern preaching doesn’t even think about this. We are so consumed with preaching a gospel that says ‘come to Jesus and you will be rich’ that we never even give a second thought to these verses. We will read in the next chapter how Moses ‘forsook the pleasures of Egypt so he could bear reproach with Gods people’. Now I know that when they fled God gave ‘the treasures back’ but the point was Moses went thru a period of leaving all of it behind for a higher calling. Don’t always tell people [to you preachers!] that the wealth of the world is waiting at your doorstep if you receive Christ. They might be on the verge of ‘getting their goods spoiled’ for a season knowing that in heaven they have a better and enduring substance. ‘NOW THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH, but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him’. In the original bible you didn’t have chapter divisions. Sometimes the divisions interfere with the meaning of the text. It is important to see that right before Hebrews 11, Paul makes this famous statement on justification by faith! He will go into chapter 11 with this theme in mind. We often read chapter 11 as believers and see the great stories in it of the heroes of the faith, but this is not the primary reason for the chapter. The main reason is for Paul to make the case of law versus grace. He has just spent 10 chapters explaining the superiority of grace over law. Now he will show Israel that all of the great heroes of the faith PLEASED GOD BY FAITH! He will be laying out a grand overview of the great Old Testament figures and be saying THEY ALL RECEIVED A GOOD REPORT [JUSTIFIED] BY FAITH. It is real important for you to see this as we head into the chapter. When you read it with this in mind, then you begin to focus in on the statements of faith in a different way. While chapter 11 will give all believers a great boost in faith, the primary reason behind it is to say to Israel ‘look, all of our great forefathers [and fore mothers!] pleased God by faith, not the works of the law. Some of them were even law breakers! [Rahab, Samson] yet they were JUSTIFED [pleased God] by faith!’ Well, lets get into the chapter before I preach the whole thing right here. END NOTES- IS THERE MEANING TO THE ACTUAL ORDER OF BIBLE VERSES? HOW DID THE SPIRIT ‘TESTIFY’ TO THE FINAL SACRIFICE? WHY DOES THE WRITER CONTINUE TO SAY THE NEW COVENANT IS HARSHER? If the sacrifices under the law were sufficient- then why did the priests keep offering them? The writer says that’s proof they ‘didn’t really work’. But Jesus offered himself once- for all- and that shows us that his death was the final one. He quotes Psalms 40- and once again- like we saw earlier- he sees the actual order of the verses in this Psalm as having meaning. ‘Sacrifice and offering you do not want’ first ‘But a body you have prepared for me’ second. He then says ‘see- God took away the first’ [meaning the Old Law covenant is ending] ‘Then- he established the 2nd’ [meaning the Body of Christ being offered]. He then says ‘the Holy Spirit also testifies to this” How? He quotes Jeremiah 31- ‘I will make a new deal with the people- not like the old one- in this deal [covenant] I will not REMEMBER their sins any more’- See? If God had some new covenant- in which HE would not remember the sins of the people- that shows that in the new deal- there would be no more sacrifices. Now- he exhorts the reader ‘let us have faith- draw near to God with a clear conscience- having our bodies WASHED WITH PURE WATER’. Huh? See- this is an exhortation to COME INTO this covenant- he’s saying ‘believe- and be baptized’. This letter is not speaking to ALREADY BAPTIZED PERSONS. We also see- once again- the writer saying that this New Covenant is MUCH HARSHER than the Old. ‘If those under the law disobeyed- and died under 2 or 3 witnesses- how much worse will it be for those who have the light [thru their Old Law- Christ was indeed in there- thru types and images] and reject it.’ ‘for if we/you continue to sin- after having these truths revealed- there is no more sacrifice left- but a fearful waiting for judgment’. In time I’ll develop this more- but in the New Testament letters- written to the Gentile churches- you don’t read stuff like this. You do see God judging his people [in those letters- meaning Christians]. But you don’t see the New Covenant compared to the Old Covenant in this way- saying ‘it’s much harsher than the old’. But- to those outside of the covenant- to the ‘unbaptized- unbeliever’ then yes- this warning holds true. The theme thru out Hebrews is ‘if the first century Jew does not BELIEVE in Christ as the Messiah- then he in effect does disgrace to the Blood of Jesus’- He will not find repentance any more [under the old system]- And he will face a stricter punishment then those who rebelled under the law- [They died physically- but in this new covenant- if you reject Christ- you suffer spiritual death- and the ultimate judgment of God]. One last note- as we study the letters of the New Testament down the road- we see a theme- yes- about how we should view earthly riches/wealth. Here we read ‘you suffered the loss of your earthly goods- knowing that in heaven you have a more enduring substance’. The theme is never ‘claim your covenant rights to wealth’. But ‘the things in this life- material wealth- are nothing to be compared to the spiritual riches we have in Christ’. And yes- this is true. Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Psalm 40:7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, Psalm 40:8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Jeremiah 31:32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: Jeremiah 31:33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jeremiah 31:34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. CHAPTER 11: [see commentary on Acts 21] END NOTES- JUSTIFIED BY FAITH. TORTURED- BY FAITH? REJECTED MONEY- BY FAITH? THEY ALL WAITED FOR THE CITY- THE CHURCH. ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, FOR BY IT THE ELDERS OBTAINED A GOOD REPORT [JUSTIFIED]’ This is the key verse to the chapter. Paul will go on to prove that all the Old Testament figures that ‘pleased God’ did it by faith, and not by works! ‘Through faith WE UNDERSTAND that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear’ Faith is not ‘blind’. It informs and gives understanding. This understanding is real! Let me show you what I mean. All of the universe and creation had a beginning point. Science did not always know or believe this. Today science teaches this. It is called ‘the point of singularity/density’. Science has traced back the origins of all things and has found scientific evidence to prove that all things had a ‘beginning point’. Now if you were to ask science ‘what did you have right before the beginning point’? They are stumped. Some of course believe in God and will boldly proclaim him at this point. To the others they can not answer this question. Why? Because they realize, thru science, that matter is not infinite. Some have theorized that either all things always existed [which science has now disproved] or that at one point nothing existed [which science also teaches that if this were true then you would have nothing today. You can not get something from nothing!] So all true science has gone back to this ‘point of singularity’ and can not see what is right before ‘the point’. The Christian ‘sees’ God at this point! He ‘understands’ that by necessity there has to have been something that existed before creation, science teaches this. This something can not have been created also, because then where did the ‘being’ who created ‘it’ come from? So science teaches us that whoever got the ball rolling [Saint Thomas Aquinas calls this the ‘prime mover’] had to have been preexistent/ self existent in order to have done it. And we know that creation couldn’t have done it by itself, so therefore all reasoning and understanding leave us at the philosophical point of ‘there had to have been something/someone who existed forever in order for anything to be today’. So now you see how ‘by faith we understand that all things that now exist were brought into existence by someone who we can not see’. FAITH UNDERSTANDS! As we go thru the rest of this chapter I want you to focus in on all the references of justification by faith. You will be surprised [I think?] on how many examples Paul gives to Israel from their own history [his too!] on God justifying people by faith. I will also try and show you [if I remember] how this chapter links the division between Paul’s epistles to the gentiles [Romans, Galatians] with James letter to the Jews. James was one of the lead Apostles at Jerusalem [Acts 15] and the Judaizers who were always accusing Paul of preaching grace in a way that justified sin, they came out of Jerusalem. James and Paul were rivals in a sense. James had the difficult job of overseeing the Church at Jerusalem, who had all the Pharisees who believed, while Paul was preaching this radical message of grace. This is why James’s letter [book of James] focused so much on faith and works. James was seeing the Genesis 22 account of Abraham’s justification when he offered Isaac on the altar. James will say ‘see how Abraham was justified by his works’. While in Paul’s letters he focuses on the Genesis 15 account of Abraham believing God and being made righteous. James was not contradicting Paul; he was showing the actual outcome of the life of a person who was previously justified by faith. James was saying ‘When God made Abraham righteous [Gen 15] he later actually became what God made him!’ [Gen. 22]. Now when Abraham would later do righteous things, he only did them because he previously had faith in Gods promise. But the fact still remains that when Abraham did a righteous act, God still justified him [in a sense, God has the prerogative to say ‘good job son, I am pleased with you’ so this can be described as an act/function of justification]. Well, now that I already showed you all this, I guess I wont have to remember telling it to you later. The point is in this chapter Paul will go down and show all these examples of Jewish leaders acting by faith and doing righteous deeds. This sort of bridges the gap between the strong emphasis on faith in Paul’s letters, with the strong emphasis on works in James letter. Paul is telling Israel ‘yes, all the old saints did do good works that pleased God, but they did them by faith!’ ‘Faith without works is dead’ [James]. So in a sense this single chapter bridges one of the key divisions in the early church between Jerusalem and Antioch [Acts 13 and 15]. Note; I believe all the chapter references above are correct, I write all this from memory so you might want to go back and double check the references. I know all the stories are right. ‘By FAITH Able offered …by which he obtained witness that he was RIGHTEOUS…by FAITH Enoch was translated…he had this testimony that he PLEASED GOD…without FAITH it is impossible to PLEASE HIM [all these ‘please him’ references are like saying ‘being justified’ when a person is justified by God, God sees him as acceptable, pleasing. ‘Thou art my beloved son in whom I am well PLEASED’ God to Jesus!] By faith Noah… prepared an ark to the SAVING of his house…and became heir to the RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH IS BY FAITH [wow, he makes this one real plain] By faith Abraham…went out into a strange land…and sojourned’ interesting, both the aspect of ‘going out to a new land’ and ‘staying in it when you get there’ are both functions of faith. Let me throw in some practical stuff here. Over the years of ‘doing ministry’ I have seen and been a partaker of both of these experiences. Sometimes it takes an act of faith to uproot us from familiar territory and move on to the next level. And do you know what can happen next? The enemy will try to intimidate you once you get in the land of promise, and tell you ‘you cant stay here, look at all the people who hate you. Look at all the mistakes you made’ and it often takes an act of faith to STAY IN THE LAND. Don’t leave the land of your destiny; all true leaders will go thru both of these dealings. ‘For he looked for a city which hath foundations [Jesus is the foundation of this city!] whose builder and maker is God’ All of these great heroes of the faith were looking forward towards a future promise of being in Gods true church, the ‘City of God’ the Bride, the Lambs wife. Paul shows Israel that this 1st century appearing of Messiah was for the purpose of Israel coming into the ‘new land’ the Body of Christ. It is important to see this. There are many preachers today who are treating natural Israel as in if everything is just fine. It isn’t! They need Christ as much as the Muslim does. God was telling Israel ‘come into this new city’ [New Jerusalem versus Old Jerusalem] he wasn’t appealing for them to stay in ‘old Jerusalem’ and be a ‘completed Jew’. [I know this sounds harsh, but I want to emphasize to all my evangelical friends that Jews need Jesus, they play a special role in Gods plan, but ultimately they need Christ!] ‘Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed’ it takes faith to produce spiritual offspring! It might look impossible, but with God all things are possible. ‘Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky and the sand by the shore’ sometimes God will allow you to bring forth one ‘seed’ [person or act of ministry] and you will be surprised how much fruit can come forth from this singular effort. This is why it’s so important to simply hear and obey God. Often times in ministry we do tons of ‘leg work’ which is OK. But when God gives you an idea or mode of function that you weren’t even thinking of, go with it. These are usually the ‘little seeds’ that produce the great harvest! ‘THESE ALL DIED IN FAITH, NOT HAVING RECEIVED THE PROMISES’ I want to emphasize here that it is possible to live your whole life in faith without actually seeing the fulfillment of all that God has told you. Now faith does obtain promises [verse 33] but sometimes we also see things many years down the road and we must realize that the measurement of faith is not whether or not you are currently getting the actual promise. In the above [and below] verse’s we see Abraham and Sara being told that their offspring would number in the millions. They believed these promises, but it is obvious that they didn’t live to see it fulfilled, but they sure knew that after they were gone it would come to pass. So I want to exhort you to believe to see certain things fulfilled in your life time, but have some greater goals that you initiate while here on earth, knowing that after you depart they will be fulfilled. ‘And truly if they had been MINDFUL of the country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned’ what is Paul saying here? The greatest threat to the gospel taking root in the Hebrew community was the desire to go back to old law and culture. How many believers ‘revert’ back to an older form of church simply because they missed the old culture and ‘feelings’ that they had when they were younger? Many of the Jews would not go all the way with the gospel because they were ‘mindful’ of the good old days of law and sacrifice. I just watched a show the other day that told how even some gentile believers began celebrating certain feasts of Israel with their Jewish neighbors. While it is good to understand and see the significance of the feasts, yet we know Paul wrote the early believers and said ‘you observe days and times and feasts, and I am concerned about it’. So when we [or 1st century Israel] are ‘mindful’ of the ‘good old days’ then there is always a danger of going back! ‘By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac…of whom it was said in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure’ Abraham exhibited characteristics of the Father [God] as well as Isaac being a type of the Son [Jesus]. It’s interesting that these verses show that Abraham knew for a fact that God was going to give Isaac millions of children, Abraham also knew the voice of God so well that when he ‘thought’ he heard God say ‘offer up this boy’ that in the mind of Abraham, the only way these 2 things could be reconciled, is he came to the conclusion ‘I guess God will have to raise him up, being he has told me this boy will have millions of children, plus he is telling me to kill him’. Most of us would not have come to this conclusion! We would have doubted either the original promise, or said ‘surely this can’t be God telling me to offer Isaac’ [most likely we would have doubted the latter!]. There is a real important reason for Abraham to have been a real man of faith. God wanted this ‘picture’ of the offering up of Isaac for a type of the Cross and Resurrection. The only way he could have shown this example was to have had someone so radically filled with faith, that he would have come to this conclusion of ‘well, I guess God will just raise him’. It was necessary for the figure to have been truly fulfilled. It took Abraham many years of hearing and believing God before he would get to this stage. The part of Abraham’s mind that said ‘God will just have to raise him up’ was important for the figure to truly work. God knew he could only bring someone to this conclusion by arranging the whole scenario around a person of faith. It truly took a real person of faith to have come to the conclusion of resurrection as being inevitable! [For Abraham to fulfill the type of God, he had to have been convinced beyond all doubt that after he offered up his son, that he would be raised again. This is exactly what the Father [God] believed and knew about his own Sons death. So not only did Isaac fulfill the type of Jesus in this story, but Abraham also fulfilled a type of God!] [NOTE; Today is September 22, 2007. Israel’s Day of Atonement. I just heard a brother preach on the feasts of the Lord [I have done this also] but he preached it in a way that said ‘because God said you were to observe these feasts perpetually, therefore all gentile believers need to start observing these days’ he added ‘I know Paul taught the law passed and all, but these feasts are supposed to be forever because God said so’. How are the feasts ‘perpetual’? Thru the fulfilling of them in Christ! Paul makes this plain all thru the New Testament [as well as this letter!] I was surprised to hear the brother preach that the first 2 feasts [out of the 3 main ones] were fulfilled and memorialized, but the 3rd one [Atonement/tabernacles] has yet to be fulfilled! What? Jesus fulfilled Passover and Pentecost for sure, and they are still being ‘fulfilled’ God is still bringing people in thru the blood of Christ and the Spirit is continually being poured out on people, and of course the ultimate reality of our atonement thru our high priest is a daily reality [he ever lives to make intercession] that is ‘fulfilled’ all the time[ I understand what the brother meant, that both Passover and Pentecost were fulfilled at the Cross and the day of Pentecost, and Tabernacles still has a future fulfillment. That Jesus will ‘ingather’ all peoples to himself at the end. The way he said it was in a way that he said Atonement, the beginning of Tabernacles/booths, still has to be fulfilled. It really came out badly!] I just thought it worth noting that today is natural Israel’s feast day, and we hold this feast in reality 24/7!] ‘By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of pharaohs daughter; choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, then to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward…by faith the harlot Rahab perished not…’ I want you to see that faith in Moses situation caused him to forsake great riches and leave a successful future. This is in keeping with all the times Jesus called people in the Gospels ‘forsake all and follow me’ mentality. We too often equate the ‘treasures of Egypt’ with following Jesus; the scripture puts a different spin on it! Also Rahab ‘perished not’ because she ‘believed’. Paul teaches in Corinthians that those who believe are ‘being saved’ and those who don’t believe are ‘perishing’. I want you to see that Paul is really making a theological argument for ‘being saved by faith’ in this chapter. Even a harlot can be saved! Wow. The law seemed to have no mercy on someone like that! ‘Who thru faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, stopped the mouths of lions…women received their dead raised to life…others were TORTURED not accepting deliverance…others had mocking and scourging and bonds and imprisonment, they were stoned, cut in half, were slain with the sword… being destitute, afflicted, tormented…they wandered in deserts and mountains and dens and caves of the earth, ALL THESE [both the ones who shut the mouths of lions as well as the one’s who were tortured without deliverance] OBTAINED A GOOD REPORT THRU FAITH, AND RECEIVED NOT THE PROMISE’ Faith does not always cause you to be better off in this life. I am very familiar with all the verses of God blessing us and providing for us ‘the blessing of the Lord it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow to it’. I believe and claim these verses just like the next guy. I also don’t want to tell people ‘give your life to Christ and all will go well’ did it go well for the ones who were tortured not getting delivered? Sure did. It went well the moment they saw the face of God. The same for those who were cut in half. It also went well for the women who received their dead raised to life. The point is ‘going well’ is not always defined by your outward circumstance. We must see the overall biblical worldview of all things here being temporary, while all true spiritual riches are eternal. Moses actually was ‘less rich’ by the choice to follow Christ. But he was ‘more rich’ in that he fulfilled Gods purpose. It is important to see that many of these great heroes of the faith died without fully seeing the promise in this life. Now the last verse does say ‘that they without us should not be made perfect’ and this does show that the promise is now fulfilled thru Christ. We have all become recipients of eternal salvation thru Christ. The Old Testament patriarchs have ‘found that city’ in that we are all now members of the great ‘City that comes down from God out of heaven’ we are all in Christ today, even our Old Testament brothers who had faith. The point is don’t always measure a persons faith by their outward wealth and condition. James rebuked this idea in his epistle, he taught us not to show partiality to people who were rich while despising the poor. When believers see faith only from the standpoint of outward things, they are missing the true riches. Jesus taught that all these outward things were not the true riches; I am surprised how many believers spend so much time hoarding and storing things that will all pass away some day. Let’s close this chapter on a good note. Paul has offered Israel all of their Old Testament heroes as an example of being justified by faith. He is saying ‘look, all the great fathers of the faith pleased God, just like you have said and taught for ages. I am declaring unto you they were all ‘justified/pleasing to God’ by faith, not law’. Therefore if you want to follow the example of Abraham and Moses and all the other wonderful fathers, then you too MUST BELIEVE! END NOTES- JUSTIFIED BY FAITH. TORTURED- BY FAITH? REJECTED MONEY- BY FAITH? THEY ALL WAITED FOR THE CITY- THE CHURCH. This chapter is loaded with the history of the Jewish people- I could teach on each story- but that would be a bit much- So I pasted the verses below to show that the writer is saying ‘see- all of our forefathers were justified- received a GOOD REPORT- by faith’. Wait a minute- they DID THINGS- in these stories- Isn’t that WORKS? If you read the letter of James- and the letters of Paul- some scholars says there is a disagreement- Paul says a man is justified by faith- and not by works. James says ‘see how a man is justified by works- and not faith only’. If this letter [Hebrews] was written by Paul- then it’s a true masterpiece- because he is combining the examples that James uses [Rahab- and Abrahams Genesis 22 experience- which James uses to say ‘see how works justifies’]. So- to me- Paul would be saying ‘no- I’m not contradicting James- we both believe/teach the same thing’. If the letter was written by Barnabus- then it also is a masterpiece- because Barnabus might be trying to bridge the gap between Paul and James. We read about this tension in Acts chapters 13 and 15. This chapter is certainly not showing us how to obtain stuff [money- etc.] thru faith- because look at the examples- ‘Moses chose to suffer- and reject the wealth of Egypt- BY FAITH’- ‘SOME WERE TORTURED- SUFFERED- CUT IN HALF- by faith’- ‘CHOOSING TO not be delivered- because they had faith’. We also see the heavenly city- as the goal of the patriarchs- they were all waiting for THE CHURCH- the city that the apostle John spoke about in the book of revelation. The writer says ‘if they were mindful of the city they came out of [a reference to the law covenant- meaning if the Jews kept clinging to the law- the ‘city they came out from’- they will have a hard time moving on- into the New Covenant revelation of Messiah]. I didn’t quote verse 2- but we could teach modern physics from that one [the bible says all things were made from something invisible- modern physics has come to that reality in the 20th century- yet this verse was penned 2 millennia ago]! By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. So yeah- lots of good stuff in this chapter- but the main point is these ancients were justified by faith- the example of Noah and Abraham actually use that very language- salvation/righteousness [it’s a bit clearer in the King James Version- the above verses are from the NIV]. Yes- the writer is saying ‘everything is based on faith- and even our ancestors were justified by faith- they did all these things because they believed God- and God saw their faith- in action- and they too were made righteous- by faith’. By faith Abel brought God a better offering than Cain did. By faith he was commended as righteous, when God spoke well of his offerings. And by faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead. By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. 26 He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient. And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.35 Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[e] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— 38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground. 39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, 40 since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. CHAPTER 12: END NOTES- A HEAVENLY CITY. DON’T BE SAD, HE’S TREATING YOU LIKE A SON. NO REPENTANCE- OUTSIDE OF CHRIST THAT IS. CULTURE SHOCK IS HARD ON US ALL. ‘Wherefore seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses [all the heroes of the last chapter!] let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us’ a few practical things. Paul compares the journey to a marathon, not a sprint! The patient runner who paces himself will receive a reward. The sprinter will look good at the start, but you never see him again! I have been blessed by so many gifted people over the years. Some who were on radio, or were doing some type of ministry for the Lord. The gifts and callings were truly on these people. A few years would go by and they were no where to be found. Where did they go? Some of them jumped on the latest ‘Christian movement’ [I am not against movements from God, I just feel we get enamored by them and give up on the main thing the Lord has called us to] some walked away from the Lord. I have come to realize that God will put certain things in you from the early days, things that he predestined for you to fulfill before you were born. These are the things that you should be faithful to. Don’t abandon the original calling, it’s still there! You can spend your whole life leaving one ‘track’ and ‘sprinting’ in another. But God wants you to stay on the original course and run it with patience. It might not seem as glamorous or exciting as the newest race in town, but at the end you will receive a reward. ‘Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him ENDURED the cross, despising the shame and is set down on the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that ENDURED such contradiction of sinners…and ye have forgotten the exhortation that speaketh to you as children [remember what we said about this type of privileged language in Hebrews? It is speaking to Israel] my son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art REBUKED of him: for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If you endure chastening, God dealeth with you as sons’. Now, for many years I read this just like you. That God was telling Christians that he disciplines them. True enough. But in context what is Paul saying here? He spent 11 chapters ‘reproving’ Israel. He told them that all the sacrifices and wonderful holidays and family traditions are no more. That Messiah has fulfilled it and you can’t keep doing it. Now, how would you feel if some know it all preacher came along and totally dismantled your whole way of worship? And you knew in your heart he was right! You would take offence. You would feel like you just got ‘chastened’ up and down and all over. Your initial reaction would be ‘this is too much correction in one letter, I am tired of reading it!’ so Paul is telling Israel ‘Don’t take all this reproof the wrong way, Gods intent is to get you to move on with the program. He loves you guys; don’t forget that scripture [Old Testament] says ‘who God loves he chastens’ hey, God is just dealing with you as children who he loves’ get it? ‘We have had fathers of the flesh that corrected us…shall we not much rather be in subjection to the father of spirits and live?’ Paul is saying ‘you guys want to live [eternal life] then you need to submit to the correction the father is giving you’. ‘For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure, but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness’ Now, God does chasten believers for the purpose of holiness. Scripture says ‘those who have suffered in the flesh have ceased from sin, that they should no longer spend the rest of their days in the flesh pursuing the desires of the flesh, but the will of God’ ‘before I was afflicted I went astray, but after I kept thy word’ ‘thou in faithfulness hath afflicted me’ ‘though he were a son yet learned he obedience from the things he suffered’ ‘the captain of our salvation was made perfect thru suffering’ [the last 2 are in this letter, the others are some where in scripture, I just quoted them off the top of my head. As you can see I have some familiarity with this subject! Ouch] In context Paul is saying to Israel ‘you have tried to attain holiness thru legalistic means, by keeping the law [Romans 9-the last few verses] but until you submit to Gods chastening, and have faith in God, you will not truly have his ‘holiness’ [righteousness]. So God is disciplining them thru this letter so they will ‘believe and become righteous’ as opposed to staying in the old system of law. ‘Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous [old brother Paul, he sure knew how to understate things!] nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of RIGHTEOUSNESS to them that are exercised [or exorcised! Just kidding, but it can feel like this at times] thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down…and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame [broken] be turned out of the way, but let it rather be healed’ David said ‘restore to me the joy of your salvation that the bones which YOU HAVE BROKEN may rejoice’ The danger of chastening [both for Christians and Israel] is that we get so broken that we never fully recover. Paul is telling Israel ‘I know it’s been hard on you guys to hear so much rebuke. Don’t walk away totally discouraged. There is a danger that you might respond to Gods correction the wrong way. Lift up your hands, shake off the depression, and let yourselves be healed. God wants to restore you!’ ‘Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For you know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for HE FOUND NO PLACE OF REPENTANCE though he sought it carefully with tears’. This is another reason why reading Hebrews in context is important. One of the themes of this letter is ‘if you miss out on it now, you can’t repent later!’[Chapter 6]. We know that Pauls other letters to the churches leave open future repentance for those who have sinned. In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians we see this being done. But in Hebrews the idea is ‘if you pass on the Cross, you can not find repentance thru any other means. There is no other place for repentance’. So this is the reason why Hebrews has this theme of ‘no future repentance’ thru out the letter. Paul is certainly not telling Israel that if they decide to repent and accept Christ at a future date, they can’t! But he is saying ‘if you pass over this sacrifice of Christ, all the other ‘sacrifices’ and means of repentance that are contained in the law will have no future effect, remember Esau!’ ‘For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched…but ye are come to Mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem [the church]…and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better things than that of Able’ Here Paul comes back to a ‘scarlet thread’ that runs thru out this letter. He says ‘hey, you think the first covenant was a fearful thing, watch out! If you disregard this covenant [Jesus blood] then you have gone against something that is much greater than the law’. Also the ‘blood of Able’ cried out from the ground for vengeance, the blood of Jesus cries out from heaven for mercy and forgiveness! It ‘speaks’ better things than that of Able! ‘See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth [Moses and the law] much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him which speaketh from heaven’ again Paul repeats themes he hit on earlier in this letter. He says ‘Moses spoke Gods Word [law] to you from an earthly mountain and place, you are come to a heavenly mountain [Sion-spiritual Jerusalem] and Jesus is speaking to you from heaven. This is much more strict than he who spoke from earth’. ‘Wherefore we receiving a Kingdom that can not be moved, let us HAVE GRACE, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire’ Though Paul doesn’t say it [I think he should have!] but this alludes to the ‘God’ of Moses day, who did not consume the burning bush, compared to the ‘God’ of today [new covenant] who will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire! This fits in with the theme of a harsher punishment for those who reject the covenant of grace as opposed to those who rejected the covenant of law. I know these themes are not popular, but this is clearly the way Paul is presenting them. I also am not saying the ‘God’ of the Old Testament is different from the ‘God’ of the new [this is the heresy of Marcion! I think that was his name. He was an early Christian heretic who comprised the first canon of scripture for a ‘new testament’ it included basically Paul’s letters, and he taught that The God of the new testament was different from the God in the old] but Paul is presenting the new covenant in a way that says ‘don’t neglect this new way of salvation, those who do will receive a harsher judgment than those who rejected the law’. END NOTES- A HEAVENLY CITY. DON’T BE SAD, HE’S TREATING YOU LIKE A SON. NO REPENTANCE- OUTSIDE OF CHRIST THAT IS. CULTURE SHOCK IS HARD ON US ALL. Once again we see the contrast between ‘he that spoke from earth’ [Moses- the law]- and he that ‘speaks from heaven’ [Jesus covenant is more strict- to those outside of it and reject it- because he has heavenly authority- Moses had earthly]. Hebrews 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: The writer says ‘don’t be sad- God disciplines every son who he receives’- though this certainly applies to Christians- Hebrews 12:5 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: Hebrews 12:6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. Hebrews 12:7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? Hebrews 12:8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Remember this- though the message of grace and Jesus as the Messiah is wonderful- especially to us Gentile believers- Yet- it was indeed a cultural shock to the 1st century Jew- Why? Even though Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophets- yet in order for the Jewish person to accept this [Like the apostle Paul] He had to accept a real cultural change in the religion he practiced from his youth- He was being asked to stop the animal sacrifices- to ‘move on’ from the Law covenant- and to embrace Christ. Now- in reality- it would be the fulfillment of all that was contained in the law- but it’s often hard for anyone to ‘move on’ from former religious practices that are embedded in his culture. So- in context ‘Don’t be sad- God is disciplining you- showing you new stuff- and it’s tough for sure- but he does this with all the sons he receives’. We also see the promise of the heavenly city- As opposed to the earthly one. Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, The writer is speaking about the church- and how both Jew and Gentile are part of this spiritual community coming down from God out of heaven. And again we see the warning- of no repentance- for those who keep sinning. I stress that this is never taught to the Gentile churches- as a matter of fact the Apostle Paul wrote the Corinthians- about a sinning brother- sleeping with his father’s wife [his step mom]. And In the 2nd letter- this brother repented- and Paul exhorted the church to receive him back into fellowship. But to the 1st century Jew- still not fully in the covenant- he says ‘Hebrews 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. In keeping with the theme of the letter- Jesus is now the only acceptable means of repentance- and if you reject him as the Messiah- and continue in sin- then yes- there is no repentance. Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Revelation 21:10 And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Ephesians 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; Ephesians 2:21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: Ephesians 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit. Galatians 4:26 But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. CHAPTER 13: Once again we will see an image in this chapter that Paul will take from the Old Testament and use to describe the sacrifice of Christ. It might even be the best image yet! But let’s start with some basics. ‘Let brotherly love continue’ the other day I was shopping at Wal Mart and saw some Cowboys shirts. I have a homeless friend who I have known for 15 years who loves the Cowboys [The football team!] So I bought him a 13 dollar shirt [they had a nicer Jersey for around 40 dollars, but I am not that spiritual yet]. So I bought him the cheaper one. Sure enough he’s been wearing it ever since! Sometimes it’s the little things, the ‘brotherly love’ stuff that we need to do. We are so obsessed with doing ‘religious stuff’ and attending ‘religious meetings’ and ‘tithing’ that we really do not see the underlying reality of going out of our way for others. We will read in this chapter the 3 sacrifices God does want from us, after all the teaching Paul does on ‘no more sacrifices’ he will give us the spiritual sacrifices that God requires of us. They don’t even touch what we think is important! ‘Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them’ a regular part of my prayer life includes praying for our fellow brothers and sisters ‘in bonds’. A few years ago a brother from our area got sent to jail for stealing money from a famous Christian mission that he worked for. I met him a few times over the years. He used to go to the church I attended. I really didn’t like him to be honest with you. I loved him as a brother, but a little to ‘I am a Christian, cant you see’ type thing. I don’t want to judge him, but this was how I felt. Well many years later when he got sent to jail he became the talk of the town. I started regularly praying for him and haven’t stopped since. This has been around 5 years or so. I also recently included some other Christians who also did some public crimes and were sent to prison, a girl who was found guilty of murdering her foster child. I also pray for those around the world who are in prison for the faith. True persecution. I want to exhort you to pray for those in bonds. Paul knew how hard it was, he was in jail often. ‘Marriage is honorable in all… but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge’ Paul made it clear in all his letters that he was not preaching a gospel of grace that condoned sin. He will say this time and again thru out his writings. He was accused of preaching a sinful gospel, but he wanted to make it clear that in all of his preaching about the law and sacrifices passing away, that in Christ people by nature will do what is right [Romans]. At the end of this great treatise to the Hebrews he makes it clear ‘don’t go on sinning’. ‘Let your conversation [lifestyle] be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he hath said ‘I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee’ Paul once again deals with avoiding a materialistic mindset. He isn’t urging them to believe God for millions of dollars, or to set a goal of what you want and then to use scripture to get it. He tells them ‘you have Jesus, so be happy. Don’t be always trying to find fulfillment in things, they pass away’. You will find this mindset all thru out scripture [read 1st Timothy 6!] so many Christians today think that this mindset is ‘tradition’. But it is in scripture! ‘Remember THEM which have the rule over you’ to be fair, I have done a lot of teaching in the past against the authoritarian one man rule over believers. I want to submit to you that both here, and in every other New Testament letter that leadership is always plural. It is ‘them’ not ‘him’. Also there are a few other passages that use the term ‘rule’ you could also interpret these as ‘those who watch over you, have care for you’ and use more amicable terms. There are actual reasons why the stronger language is used, I don’t really want to get into the whole thing here, but some feel it had to do with the time that the English bibles were being translated. The kings of the time [England] wanted to maintain a strong hierarchy within their ‘nation states’ as they broke away from the Papacy of Rome, and the translators made a conscious decision to use the more authoritarian terms to keep the people under authority. A whole book has been written on this dynamic. But for now I simply want you to see that Paul is addressing a community of people and saying ‘submit to the eldership of your area, they have responsibility for your spiritual growth, they will give an account to God. So listen to them’ this is not a verse to be used to justify the present office of the singular Pastor in the Protestant church! ‘Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them which have been occupied therein’ I like this verse. It summarizes so much of the Christian life. The whole point of this letter is to establish people in grace. To see that in Christ we have been accepted with God. Our main message isn’t all the interesting doctrines and stuff that we like to argue about. It really is Christ and Gods grace being freely given to us thru him. A lot of the reproving I do is not for the purpose [I hope not!] of just arguing about things that don’t matter, but it is for the purpose of bringing Gods people back to a platform of grace. I teach ‘you are not under the tithe [law] but give all you can in love [grace]’ we are all living our lives openly before the face of God, we shouldn’t be running around trying to ‘one up’ the next guy. Or showing everybody how smart or spiritual we are. We are all here to become more like Jesus and to simply see our requirement as living a thankful life and doing good deeds and sharing our goods with others [the 3 sacrifices that we will see later in this chapter!] I like this verse a lot! ‘We have an altar [the Cross] whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle [those under the tabernacle system, the law!] For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp [the main area where the tabernacle and all the holy things of God were located]. Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate [right outside the City of Jerusalem at the hill of Golgotha]. Let us go forth therefore unto him [leave the Old Covenant and all of its sacrifices, and move on unto perfection found only in Christ] without the camp [outside of the rules and regulations of the law and all of its shadows], bearing his reproach [those who left their Jewish heritage for Christ suffered extreme reproach and ridicule from their friends and family. It was a very unpopular thing to do for the 1st century Jew] for here we have no continuing city [natural Jerusalem], but we seek one to come [spiritual Jerusalem]’ Paul sees significance in the fact that the bodies of the animals whose blood was used for atonement were burned outside the camp. There were different types of sacrifices that took place around the system of the tabernacle. Some were totally burnt [burnt offering] others were eaten [Passover] and for the one whose blood alone was used, these bodies were taken to a place outside of the camp and were disposed of by burning. It was purely a utilitarian purpose. They had to get rid of the bodies and they burnt them. Now Paul sees this as a prophetic symbol of Christ. Paul says ‘remember that place where those bodies were burnt? It is a type of Jesus who suffered outside of the city. It was showing that there would be a day where a sacrifice would be made, outside of the law system, that would sanctify all the people’! Amazing, once again Paul sees things in scripture that no body else is seeing, until now! Paul’s mind was consumed with seeing Jesus in everything. He sees hidden shadows of Gods preplanned coming of Messiah and how God all along would require people to ‘leave the camp’ and come unto Christ. In essence Paul is saying ‘even in the tabernacle system God prefigured a once for all sacrifice that would take place outside of the law’ Bravo! Also you will notice how Paul says ‘here we have no continuing city’ [Jerusalem] but we seek one to come [The heavenly city, the bride the Lambs wife, the church!] Paul does not do what many modern Evangelicals do. He does not exalt Israel’s natural heritage. Interesting that a first century Jewish believer [Paul] writing to a 1st century Jewish audience, downplays their ‘holy land’. If you go back and review everything in this commentary, you will see that there are no references to the prophetic significance to the land of Israel as a geographical ‘holy place’. As a matter of fact the main theme is ‘leave your dependence and cultural pride that comes from your natural heritage, and come into this ‘new city’ that all of our fore fathers were looking for’ there is this amazing lack of exalting the natural city of Jerusalem [which the New Testament calls ‘Sodom’ in a spiritual sense! Revelation] and a plea for all nations, including natural Israel, to come unto Christ. ‘By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased’ Paul gives us 3 main sacrifices that the New Covenant priest/believer can bring. Praise, doing good and giving of your goods and money to meet the needs of those around you [communicate means this here]. ‘Obey THEM that have the rule over you and submit yourselves’ again we see leadership in plurality. Every city has spiritual leadership, they are responsible before God for how they lead the people in their area. They are also responsible to bring the people to maturity and independence. A place where people are not co dependant upon leadership. I believe much of the modern system has failed in this respect. The modern system has actually taken these types of verses and used them to tell people ‘your main role is to come to church on Sunday and passively listen’ we have built this audience/ spectator mindset into people, and we have failed in this respect. ‘Pray for us’ I have found this simple request to be one of the most important things you can ask others to do for you. Enlist prayer support. Pray for me! Ask people to pray for you! We all need this desperately! ‘Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever amen’ What a great way to end this letter! It is thru the blood of Jesus Christ that we are accepted and perfected in every way. We can only live and function because of the blood! We have true forgiveness for all of our sins because of what Christ has done for us. Paul has penned 13 chapters of revelation showing us the great significance of Christ's sacrifice. He has urged his fellow country men ‘come out from trying to make yourselves holy and acceptable, and receive the once and for all sacrifice of Christ’ he has trumpeted this theme all thru out this letter. I want to exhort you guys to see the sufficiency of the Cross. We get so caught up in what we are doing that there is a tendency to rely on ourselves and our own ability to change things [even us!] we need to re-focus on the biblical priority and necessity of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. He truly is the way, the truth and the life. No man can come to the Father but by him! God bless you guys, John. Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue. Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. Hebrews 13:3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body. [Try and do this- I have this verse painted on a sign in my yard- I have a consistent prayer time- early in the morning- it includes nations- world issues- many subjects that God is concerned with. During this prayer pattern- which I have done for 30 years now- I also pray for the prisoners- and this verse asks us to do just that. I have friends- even Pastors- who simply do not pray- regularly. I would encourage all of you- learn a routine pattern of prayer- not a selfish time where you focus on yourself and your needs [though that can be a small part of it]- but a prayer time that consistently covers the issues that scripture teaches us to be concerned with]. Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge. [This past year- I have talked to my friends about this issue- sleeping around. Many of these friends- are still friends- but I felt my associations with them- sort of ‘overlooking’ this very issue- made them feel like ‘well- John will have to learn to live with it’- meaning they felt like I could still do ministry stuff with them- still hang out- all the things I have done for many years. But time is rolling on- and I fear that these friends- yes- even Christians- think this issue of adultery is a minor thing. The scripture makes it VERY CLEAR- that those who do these things cannot I inherit the kingdom of God. I am not trying to be mean to these guys [and gals] but this issue must be dealt with in this life- not the next. And I want my friends to get this issue dealt with- and that’s one of the reasons I have stopped ministry activity with some of the guys]. Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. [Over the years I have heard it taught that if you are content with what you have- you are in sin. Because you must believe God for increased wealth- to fund ministry projects. Many of the people who preach this are good men- but I fear the do not see it is a violation of scripture. This is just one- of many verses in the New Testament that warns against a wealth building mindset. The writer is saying when God meets our basic needs- and we show the world that our joy does not come from the things of this world- then that itself is a witness for God]. Hebrews 13:6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me. Hebrews 13:7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation. Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. Hebrews 13:9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein. Hebrews 13:10 We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle. [The altar ‘we have’ is the Cross- he is saying that if the Jewish brothers stay in ‘the tabernacle’- meaning the law covenant- then they can’t partake of the benefits of the final sacrifice of Christ- this verse is not talking about church buildings- as some have said]. Hebrews 13:11 For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp. Hebrews 13:12 Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate. Hebrews 13:13 Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. [The references to ‘without the camp/gate’ refer to the whole theme of this letter ‘you must go forth- move on from the Old Covenant mindset- and suffer the reproach of being a follower of the Messiah’- it was difficult for the early Jewish believers to embrace Christ. It brought scorn on them from family and friends- it was a price that many of us in the modern day don’t experience. So at the end of this letter the writer exhorts them to bear the reproach- become a believer in the Messiah- it will be worth it in the end]. Hebrews 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come. [He is speaking about the church here- I already pasted some of the verses in this post that show us this]. Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:16 But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you. Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. Hebrews 13:19 But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner. Hebrews 13:20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Hebrews 13:21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:22 And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words. Hebrews 13:23 Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you. [Frankly- this sounds just like the apostle Paul- these are reasons why I still lean towards Paul being the writer of this letter]. Hebrews 13:24 Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you. Hebrews 13:25 Grace be with you all. Amen. Masada. Hadrian. Judaism in transition. Did they ‘move on’ ? Who was Elazar ben Yair? In the last video I spoke about what happened to the Jews after the letter to the Hebrews was written. In a way- the Jewish people made a transition- though forcibly- into some of the exhortations we read about in this letter- They no longer offered animal sacrifices- why? The Jews saw the destruction of their city and temple in AD 70 under the Roman leader Titus- Some continued to resist Rome- they took over the fortress of Masada- a great fortress built by the late King Herod- Herod the Great. They held the fort for around 3 years- until the Romans built a rampart to invade it. The fortress was built high on a cliff by the Dead Sea- The only way to get to it was from a narrow road- called the snake. It had no ‘hand rails’ or walls to protect you- it was built this way on purpose. So when the Roman soldiers tried to capture the Jews in the fortress- a small group could easily fight back- and hold the fort. So the Romans built this rampart- it took about 2 years- and right before they reached the fort- the Jews holed up inside killed themselves. They chose 10 men by lot- who would kill all inside the fort [women and kids too]. Out of the 10- they drew lots for one of them to kill the other 9- then he killed himself. Elazar ben Yair was the leader of the Jewish resistance- we read the account in the writings of Josephus Flavius- the great historian who too fought against the Romans. Here’s a quote from Elazar ben Yair "Since we long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans, nor to any other than to God Himself, Who alone is the true and just Lord of mankind, the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice ...We were the very first that revolted, and we are the last to fight against them; and I cannot but esteem it as a favor that God has granted us, that it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom." Falvius wrote 4 great works [we read about this account in Jewish Wars] - after the rebellion was over- Josephus was brought to Rome- and he began writing his historical works in order to show the Romans that the Jewish people were a great people- with a great history. Many scholars refer to Josephus works [mostly Antiquities] because they give us history that we don’t find in the bible- it sort of fills in the gaps- and gives us historical context. The Bar Kokhba Revolt- The Jews had their last revolt against Rome around 130-132 AD- Under the leadership of Shimon Bar Kokhba they resisted Rome- Emperor Hadrian would eventually prevail- and ban the Jews from their land- and make laws outlawing Jewish religious practice. Over time the Jewish people learned/adapted to practice their religion- without Temple/Priest or sacrifice. The Seder meal became the memorial of Gods deliverance from Egypt- they use the bone of a lamb- but they do not actually have the Passover sacrifice [which the letter to the Hebrews exhorts them to do- to not practice animal sacrifices any more]. The priests were no more- but the people had Rabbis- one in particular tried to help the people transition after such a cultural loss. He taught them that the ‘new way’ of sacrifice and worship would be thru acts of charity- and prayer ‘sacrifice and offering I do not want’ a quote from the Old testament Prophets. So- in a way- the Jewish people did ‘move on’ from the Old sacrificial system- and embraced a ‘more Christian’ view of religion. Of course there are Jews today who fully embrace Jesus as the messiah- but over all- as a people- their Old Law system was done away- Today you have various forms of Judaism- ranking form the most strict- to the most liberal [we see this in Christianity as well]. But none of them practice ritual sacrifice any more- Some Christians [and Jews] actually believe the Temple will be restored- and at that time the sacrifices will be re-instituted. I actually do not hold to this end time view- But for now- that system has been done away with [or put on hold- if that’s your view]. And the ‘new works’ of religion- are charity and prayer and Mercy- The same theme we read in this letter to the Hebrews- 5 Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith , Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: Hebrews 10:5  By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is , the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. Hebrews 13:15 www.corpuschristioutreachministries.blogspot.com facebook.com/john.chiarello.5 ccoutreach87.wordpress.com Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John.#