Monday, December 28, 2009
I have just resigned a link listing for a Messianic group whom I have always had great respect for. I will not name it, because it does no one any good: I believe at least many of the people associated with the group are fine believers. I have also held Messianic congregations in the highest esteem, and though we do not have one in our area, consider myself an ardent Messianic believer, although I find 'messianic' and 'believer' to be redundant. There should not be 'Messianic Christians' and "Christians', but the word Messianic should be inherent in the profession of faith.
Recently though, I have seen the worst of 'Christianity' in many forms: I believe it happens often in the decline of a society, as well as in the beginning of one's life being 'poured out' for the Gospel: in the end, most true believers, who have 'gone all the way' with the Lord, will find themselves alone.
It is not that their sufferings might not be noted, even worldwide, such as in the case of the attorney GAO from China, but even when there is widespread human rights support, the one who obeys the Lord Jesus, or Yeshua, or Adonai, or Jesu, or Yetsunu, or whatever name is forefront, finds themselves alone and little understood even by other believers.
That said, though, what has happened recently without going into detail, has left me disheartened to say the least, and while I was going to write a Bible study on why Universities are like they are (watch there be 50 bible studies on that topic before I get to it), I think instead it is time for a sincere rebuke of what pastors , rabbis and congregations have allowed themselves to become: 'worldlings' in the words of a former friend.
Over the years I have been scrutinized for whether I say 'Jesus' or 'Yeshua', whether I eat cheese with meat, to see if I am truly 'Torah observant', whether I celebrate the feasts the way even messianics do etc, etc.
I do not always, and neither does anyone else, including the very best who occasionally slip and buy the wrong kind of candle, or run to the store just after twilight on Shabbat. And as we all know, if we offend in one part of the law, we offend in all. I try though, from the heart, to do the most right I can, and I pray for help in the rest, wanting neither to be legalistic nor licentious. There are a few things though, that I know from the heart that will, can, or have ruined congregations and belief in general and love among the brethren. One of the greatest is crass competition, and stealing one another's work for the Lord and otherwise.
A few years ago, I wrote a Bible study on the 'Lion of Judah'. I researched carefully to see what else was available online and off, and surprisingly found very little and in a very different vein than I was going, though the term is a common one. The bible study sat for years in a subsection of judahsglory.com, getting little attention, but I liked it, so I felt it was worthwhile because I learned in the process. About 5 or 6 years ago, another group , a fundamentalist group who hails from down south, became a little over attentive at everything I was doing and writing. Within a week of having to block some IPs, all kinds of bible studies on the Lion of Judah starting appearing on the net. I did a little research and found that almost all of them traced back to that particular group, or were alumni from there.
In the spirit of the Torah and not the letter, though I was offended, I let it go: Jesus, Yshua, Jesu, Yetsuni, said that those who do such things should not be stopped, and to resist not evil. The gospel got preached, the Lord was lifted up, and my Bible study, though hacked several times, remained on the net. I forgave them, but I have to say, it takes a while for feelings to die down, especially because certain of the group continued to the point of it being racketeering. I now have to guard my personal handwritten notebooks, worry about who may be illegally entering my house, rough being called 'paranoid' etc, although paranoia alone rarely results in pages ripped out of a dated notebook, or CD backups cracked or files erased.
Last week, I found that a bible study blog I had written online since 2004, first on one service then another, had been copied and 'redone' by a number of folks, including those from a position of Armstrongism, hardly a pro-Semitic stance. Well, I guess its good to be an influence but there is a sincere difference in being an influence and crowding someone out of free speech and practice of religion and being able to serve the Lord as called. I've seen it all: faked diskette dates, faked Search engine optimization (you don't have to worry too much about that, since it disappears after a week or two), fake 'eyewitness reports' of a bunch of folks from a church all claiming the the thief was really first, (well, he said he wrote it), and slander, slander , slander, slander, to the point that honest authors can hardly write any more.
I've never charged for my work which has been good enough for a number at the top to steal. I've always believed, freely given freely give, and that the Gospel is not to be put up for sale or individual 'glory'. God chooses whom he will. Having suffered this long though on barely any budget, and working for free often for 25 years, I am rewarding myself with this brief complaint: stealing and lying, slander and ruining is destroying the house of God in this country, if it still exists at all. That stuff is for the world not for us.
If one is right with the Lord, and obedient, walking in the Holy Spirit, then one is never without ideas of what to write, preach, pray or sing. It is living not stagnant water, a river that runs through the garden. I have hardly ever wanted for an idea of what to write in multiple ongoing studies or websites: in a few cases it was outright obedience, to begin to bring back the foundations of belief including the blood covenant, the laying on of hands, healing, and the gifts. My dear Baptist acquaintances may shudder at that but its in the Book, you know, the one without error from Jesus Christ, the same yesterday today and tomorrow. Love ya, but the only real dispensations are when God appoints out of the ordinary.
I never thought it could get dangerous to continue writing little Bible studies. I never thought I would get more than angry letters on my work on the holocaust, but if the whole truth were known about what has happened, I am afraid some would be discouraged from obeying their calling. God gives grace, but noone tells you the 'Cost of discipleship' early in the game: I suppose even Bonhoeffer could not have guessed.
The little 'petty' borrowings are no longer petty : they are creating lawsuits, threatenings, ill feelings etc as much as they are influencing the Church to go back to its 'one foundation'. It is causing people to give up as they see even pastors and teachers stealing and merchandising other people's work. It is causing true believing young people to think that believers are all a bunch of hypocrites. It has in some cases caused violence. Nobody walking right with the Lord needs to steal or slander another person. Nobody. at all.
Some will no doubt say that nobody can stop them from writing any kind of Bible study or sermon and that is true to an extent, the Word is not bound, but when the theft is purposeful and deliberate and intended to bring someone else down, because they do not 'fit', or to present a false sense of competence about the one who steals--- it guts God's plan for the church. It basically says: "Well God, you may have chosen her, or him, but we thought it better to do it our way": it is an arrogant affront to God's Holy Wisdom.
Without mentioning names, consider how bad it can get: force feeding someone after knocking them out to make them gain weight and look bad so that a younger person will be more 'marketable'. Sneaking into a house and drugging and beating someone or walking on them while knocked out in order to feel 'superior'. Having law enforcement decide that a person doesn't 'look the part' and forcing a relative to hand over material, free of charge to give to someone else. Sending mobbish persons into the genuine servant's children's lives to erase their faith and testimony. Attempting to break the hand with which an author writes, or ruining the physical health of an author. Some of the rest would horrify and you would not believe it is really happening, but it is, in order to intimidate and enslave those who really, even now, still care what God wants, and what His Church really is. The intimidation and theft is often to prevent a certain point of view from being expressed: namely, the genuine and original Gospel, the same in the first century as in the 21st.
In the Book of Acts, a couple for the first time mentioned after Pentecost, lies to the church, keeping back some money they promised by deceiving the Church, and are met with Peter's solid declaration of their impending death.
Ananias and Sapphira didn't fail to donate to the church, they just told a simple lie; they just didn't give as much as they promised. Many are appalled to think that Peter would announce a death sentence for a seemingly small offense. Do you know why it wasn't small at all? To that point in the history of the church, belief was so great, that the idea of a sin or lying to God or the congregation could not be imagined. Ananias and Sapphira though conspired to defraud the church: they would have been better to have offered nothing at all. They also started a process of merchandising and deceit which would never end, and would ruin the Bride of Christ in some places. Neither Peter nor the Lord were being unjust nor too severe: it was the rent in the garment which would lead to not only persecution from without the church, but division within: a sin of Jeroboam which earlier in Israel had led to even exile and slavery.
Need an idea for Shabbat sermon? Get in the Word, prayerfully. Seek out someone with a prophetic gift, or even fast and pray. Go back to the last thing God told you to do, that you didn't do, and repair the breach. What the river flow, then.
Lies, slanders, misinformation, and outright theft and violence against another in the House of God harms them, and destroys you and the house of God. A baseball bat swings two ways. If someone is writing on what looks like a 'hot topic', rather than trying to rewrite it 'your' way, or fit it into your doctrine and not theirs, or even trying to ruin or plagiarize, steel yourself and say, 'the reason I really want to write on that topic is __________________________", and then seek for the moment any other topic. It is not wrong to be inspired by a fine sermon or study or song, that is the creative process. That is how creativity grows. There is though a great difference between wanting to be in the position another has, or wanting to have a skill or anointing another has, and working passionately to overthrow that person or retaliate against them for having a gift or idea that was not yours.
Stealing from another believer their hard work, or attempting to steal an anointing or appointment from God, is no different that an enemy of the Lord and Savior trying to destroy God's house. When he returns, "Shall he find faith on the earth?"
Can it be yours?
Blessings in Yshua HaMeschiach, Our Shabbat, Jesus Christ of Nazareth and Heaven, Jesu, Ioesus, Redeemer, Lord and Savior, Adonai, The Way, the Truth and the Life, or whatever beautiful name of His you choose.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Is it really radical to suggest that canon was finished in the first century, during the lifetime of the apostles? No, not at all. In the last blog we saw that even the first few sentences in the book of Luke, the gospel according to Luke, show that the Gospels were collated and written down, by eyewitnesses as they happened, and the accounts given to the premiere eyewitnesses, the Apostles to write so that all reported events of the Life of our Messiah were recounted for believers yet to come. Yet these few verses, (repeated here as a reminder) tell us that they were delivered by those who saw and believed, and at the point Luke wrote to Theophilus in the first century, they were complete.
Luk 1:1-3 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us, Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word; It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus
There is far more evidence though that all of the New Testament , the complete canon was collated and agreed upon by the early church in Jerusalem, Antioch and the reaches beyond where Paul visited, and where the early disciples went in the Great commission: as far as the British Isles, India/Persia, and into Africa.
We really must believe that there was a complete canon in the first century. Why? Because of the Logic of John the Apostle (sometimes referred to as John the Divine )in the following passage:
Rev 22:18-20 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.
He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
Now, while some may argue that statement is only for Revelation, the book of Revelation was given in Holy Spirit utterance and vision to the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos with the instruction for its writing and distribution to the churches. John was the last apostle to die, and the churches already had copies of the other gospels and epistles. In sovereignty, the Revelation of John is given lastly, beyond which no book could have been written by anyone to include in canon: it is a matter of simple logic: since even later 'councils' like Trent and Nicea demanded an eyewitness account by someone who had seen Jesus and was anointed for the purpose, the accounts by self-attestation, were dried ink and a fixed work before anyone else encountered them, and long before any council of a seditioned and dissensioned church met for discussion.
There is far more evidence though, that there were substantial complete 'bibles' before the last apostle died. Even the word derives from the Greek 'biblion' or 'biblios' referring to the scroll or collation of scrolls. When it is said "in the volume of the book it is written..." it is an expression referring to the totally and completion of what is written.
Modern scholars love to talk of 'oral traditions' and how story was passed from person to person until they were eventually written down, replete with errors and folklore. Common 'agreement' of scholars today refer to 'text families', such as the Byzantine, Syriac, Western and Alexandrian, that refer to where the scroll fragments were found as though they were versions of a bible or even 'different' bibles. Modern sophistry dismisses 'inerrancy' of the Word of God by carefully stating in their doctrinal positions that the 'original autographs' were inerrant and inspired, but they leave unstated their true feelings that everything after that can't be trusted. For years there has been a popular assumption that there was some sort of 'Q' document, a sort of central group that everyone did a version of, or that perhaps there was the gospel of Mark, written by 'God knows who', that everyone else elaborated on because Mark was short in length and the others were extended. If we went only on manuscript evidence, this would not bear out, because the very oldest piece of a gospel (although another is in the offing), is from the gospel of John which scholars argue was later than the others. Papyrii 66 , closely matching the modern KJV reading (textus receptus) supports the authenticity of the KJV line.
The fundamental error in logic though, is that what is reported in the scriptures is in error, so it becomes a cat chasing its tail. If what is reported is erroneous, then anything can be invented, including lengthy oral traditions and later syntheses, all arguing a form of errancy and unbelief. The truth is, their arguments start with unbelief,with a belief that the scriptures are not inerrant and are not the Word of God.
However, men died for that Word, and for Yshua HaMeschiach, Jesus Christ, seeing what they had seen, they abandoned all that is safe, comfortable and respectable in this world, to lay down their lives for the telling of a truth so great they would rather be 'crucified upside down' or boiled in oil or sawn asunder rather than turn on that truth. While a martyr here or there might die for a fable or a lie, it is unlikely that even thousands, and then millions more over the centuries would in love lay down their lives if they had not truly seen something! These believers, dedicated to the truth, dying for the truth, sacrificing themselves and all they loved for the truth, were far more accurate under the scrutiny of men who had lived with Jesus and healed in his name, than the cynical theologians of questionable lifestyles who would snicker at a first century complete Bible.
To go a little farther, though, consider the times in the New Testament that such words as 'write', 'wrote' or writing(s)' are used: you will find that as the events in the life of Messiah occurred, they are very frequently reported as having been written down! More than that, Paul notes at the end of each epistle (meaning 'letter') that either he or one who scribed for him, basically taking dictation, WROTE down the letters: they were 'fixed' (as in a copyright) or complete and inerrant when they were finished.
Prophecy and Writing
Consider then, that the real first 'autographs' were often spoken, and then written, or written as events occurred. I used to wonder when I was an unbeliever or a new believer, how all those roughly 1100+ pages , especially the lengthy prophecies, could have possibly been remembered later to write down. I used to argue than since it was Holy Spirit Utterance in the power of God, that God must have given an anointing and more complete memory for whoever wrote down what the prophets said. As I went back though, into the Old Testament, I was surprised to find that the scribes were often either present at the time of the spoken utterance, or that prophesyings were often WRITTEN. We just assume that prophetic utterances are all spoken, but in some cases, they are letters, and in some cases God tells the prophet to write:
- Exd 34:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon [these] tables the words that were in the first tables, which thou brakest.
- Exd 34:27 And the LORD said unto Moses, Write thou these words: for after the tenor of these words I have made a covenant with thee and with Israel.Jer 36:17 And they asked Baruch, saying, Tell us now, How didst thou write all these words at his mouth?
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
God wrote, Moses wrote, Jeremiah wrote, Baruch wrote, John wrote, Luke wrote etc, etc. The events were conveyed even when oral, immediately by scribe, by word, by the prophet or one present, set for the task.
Until the next blog, consider a different idea about our Word of God and its 'original autographs'. Included below are some scriptures to review:
Jhn 1:45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
Luk 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Act 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.
Act 25:26 Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write.
1Cr 4:14 I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn [you].
1Cr 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
2Cr 1:13 For we write none other things unto you, than what ye read or acknowledge; and I trust ye shall acknowledge even to the end;
2Cr 2:9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.
2Cr 9:1 For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you:
2Cr 13:2 I told you before, and foretell you, as if I were present, the second time; and being absent now I write to them which heretofore have sinned, and to all other, that, if I come again, I will not spare
2Cr 13:10 Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.
Gal 1:20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
Phl 3:1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed [is] not grievous, but for you [it is] safe.
1Th 4:9 But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
1Th 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
1Ti 3:14 These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly:
2Th 3:17 The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle:
so I write.:
2Pe 3:1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:
1Jo 1:4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
1Jo 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
1Jo 2:7 Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.
1Jo 2:8 Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.
1Jo 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
1Jo 2:13 I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him [that is] from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.
2Jo 1:12 Having many things to write unto you, I would not [write] with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.
3Jo 1:13 I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:
Jud 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send [it] unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.
write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet [are] like fine brass;
And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
Rev 3:14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
Rev 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
Rev 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
Rev 14:13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, write, Blessed [are] the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
Rev 19:9 And he saith unto me, write, Blessed [are] they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.
Rev 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, write: for these words are true and faithful.
Jhn 21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
Act 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:
Rom 16:22 I Tertius, who wrote [this] epistle, salute you in the Lord
. 1Cr 5:9 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
1Cr 7:1 Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: [It is] good for a man not to touch a woman.
2Cr 2:3 And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is [the joy] of you all
. 2Cr 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.
2Cr 7:12 Wherefore, though I wrote unto you, [I did it] not for his cause that had done the wrong, nor for his cause that suffered wrong, but that our care for you in the sight of God might appear unto you
. Eph 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words,
Phm 1:21 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say.
2Jo 1:5 And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
3Jo 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
about 150 times for write , wrote: Not all included above. Most references are the apostles writing or God writing, e.g. Jesus writng in the sand, or write it on their hearts.
More on ‘written' later: ekbest
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
I just spent the past hour writing this quaint little study on Luke 1-3, and at the end it disappeared into cyber-etherland. So in the true Spirit of the faith once delivered to the saints, I will, begin again.
My son attends a local university, and as part of a philosophy course on Kierkegaard, was required to read the Gospel of Mark. He has somewhat of an unfair advantage, having been raised on the Word for almost 26 years, so his acing the test did not surprise me. What caught my ear though, rang back to the seminary cemetery I once briefly attended, as I heard the walls of Doubting Castle rise, echoing the words of theologians, who heard them from theologians, etc. etc.
My dear progeny began to tell me how the Gospel of Mark was really the first and that Matthew and Luke borrowed off it, and all the other refrains that I had heard and read for over 24 years, about Q documents, late dates on the gospels, and how basically nothing about the Bible can really be trusted as the idols of speculation take forefront. However, there is evidence from the Word, that the New Testament books were written just exactly as one expects even from a cursory reading, and the greatest 'evidence' if one requires it in the realm of faulty human reasoning, is found in Luke 1:1-3.
Luk 1:1 Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,
Luk 1:2 Even as they delivered them unto us, which from the beginning were eyewitnesses, and ministers of the word;
Luk 1:3 It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus,
Luk 1:4 That thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.
Who was Luke writing to? Some say Theophilus was of the household of Caesar, others claim he was a Roman official, and some say he used a rubric, a pseudonym of Theo-philus which means 'lover of God' to hide his identity. In any event, a few things become abundantly clear which shed light on how early there were extant Gospels around:
1. The first verse states "...for as much as many have taken in hand to set forth in order, a declaration of those things which are most surely believed among us,..." shows us that A.)Many were writing down what had happened, B.) they were diligently seeking to put the events coherently, logically and implicitly in chronological order, and that C.) they were setting in order the foundation of doctrine and the teaching of the Lord and Savior.
Why is this important? Because theologians today often claim that the Gospels were written much later, as though they were some fable and not a history of EYEWITNESS events, and though some 'oral tradition' circulated over time until after years of playing 'gossip' someone took it upon themselves to write it down. I was taught that several times about the Pentateuch, that the stories just circulated until someone write down, I don't know, thousands of intricate words which all tied in perfectly with one another, and pointed to events several thousands of years later. I guess they think 'oral tradition' is more believable than Moses picking up a pen, or anyone else in the years since the Gan. This first verse though shows that the WRITING started, well, immediately, as all who had seen and heard the most wondrous things, felt compelled to get it down on paper before they died and the next generation and those who had not seen might forget the fullness of 'Teleos'. So even in the first verse, the doctrine is set, the events are set, the order is set, and many delivered their accounts to the leaders/apostles and Luke before the century was out, wrote the whole of the Gospel of Luke and Acts, to his friend, Theophilus.
2. As mentioned about, vs 2 shows they were delivered to Luke, and that the writer, Luke was an eyewitness and minister: they SAW what happened. They ministered the teaching: these were not the result of an oral tradition handed down, like fairy tales which the Grimm brothers collected in many versions: they were eyewitness accounts, put together in order, carefully written which brings us to the next point:
3. It was written with Perfect Understanding.
One would have to be deaf dumb and blind not to believe that Luke had an anointing to write that Gospel, filled with the Holy Spirit, who only can give 'perfect understanding'. Those who walk in the Holy Spirit know, that when preaching or teaching, comforting, prophesying etc, when filled with the Holy Ghost, one just 'knows' what to say, perfectly, beyond our mere human efforts. The test of time has been applied: that 'perfect understanding' and exact rendering of what happened in Luke's Gospel has lasted 2000 years, and without flaw contradicts nothing in the Word, before or written at the same time. Theologians debate theories , they surmize, manipulate details, etc, but seldom take the Word of the most honest men who ever lived. These men were eyewitnesses "from the beginning It also says Luke was a witness of ALL THINGS, and that he WROTE them to Theophilus.
4. Lastly, Luke emphasizes the CERTAINTY of what he writes: the greek word 'asphaleia', the "undoubted truth"[BLB]. Theophilus has already been instructed of some of it: it says so.
Clement of Rome, and later Origen
Clement of Rome lived around 96 a.d. and he in response to a troubled church, admonished believers to read the Word. They had Bibles of a sort. Each church soon received a Gospel after they were written, and withing days or weeks, the Epistles of Paul and others reached every church. Those who could write, would copy the copies, and keep them. We know they did this because even today hidden copies turn up, one found in a hollow rail of a stairway. Origen later admonished the same. By the 300's we know the Gospels and Epistles were down in Alexandria, for Eusebius made 50 commissioned copies for Constantine, though it was a somewhat dissensioned text. So though Canon was not set till much later, the standard Books of the New Testament were in most Christian hands one way or another, and were not an oral tradition collated some years later by an anonymous source.
My doctorate was not in Theology, but in Psychology, and there were similar issues there: we read what people said about theoreticians but seldom went and read source material. Source material is often not at all what gets reported about it. We believed what our teachers taught because 'everyone in the field said so' and taught the same, but it was not always the case. There is a power in a number of austere and educated scholars all agreeing to the same thing, when standing before a young university student, or a businessman with education in some other field, or a housewife with young children. We tend to cower in their presence, thinking they must know more than we do, but the key is to listen to the Logic or 'ill-logic' of the idea. Could it really have come about the way they say? It takes more faith to believe that the same story circulated for years by thousands of mouths and then got written down with perfect synchrony by 4 separate authors, than to take Luke's word for it.
We believe Theologians who may not even believe in God (the oxymoron of centuries), but we won't take the Word of a man willing to lay down his life even against Rome, for the truth of what he had seen and reported, and others with him. Those theological surmizings can be real faith-breakers, if one doesn't walk back to the Word, and a step beyond their arguments. Their positings almost never end in faith and belief and trust: the Word always does. ekbest
Monday, August 31, 2009
Of all the things that I have heard in the past 24 years in Christian Circles, that infuriates me most, is the great error of meeting God's commandments, His Word, with the phrase "that was then, this is now". It has been repeated so often in modern American Christianity, that while we may rail against dissensioned faiths such as JWs or the Catholics or Mormons, we have essentially developed for ourselves a 'neo-christianity' that bears only a partial resemblance to true Biblical Christianity. We have done this while we regularly quote the Scripture:
Hbr 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
We consistently use the 'that was then, this is now' excuse to disobey the Scriptures and to pick and choose what we think is 'relevant' and what we think is not really 'modern'. Some will immediately attribute my concern to wanting us all to go back to (as true Christians are often accused) wearing sandals and tunics, a snide remark which really translates to modern pride. Legalism, though, was as wrong then as it is now, but obeying the commands of the Savior was never wrong. And thinking we somehow have an exemption from following the commands of Messiah, just because of the time period we live in is what I coin 'chrono-centrism': a sort of arrogant self-focus on the time period we live in, believing it is more modern, more correct, more advanced and less primitive than former times. It is a deadly argument, and has led to a gutting of the morale and health of the Church of Jesus Christ, Yshua Ha Meschiach in the 20th and 21st century.
Some even argue today that we are under no obligation to obey the commands of the Savior who said
If ye love me, keep my commandments. John 14:15
There are a dozen twists of logic as to why the Lord really didn't mean that, or why he meant it for back then, but not for now. One of the theological positions which argue the tired old argument is 'Dispensationalism', and sometimes even Covenantalism, who argue respectively either God's different dealings and administrations with mankind under different time periods, or under different 'covenants', as though there were separate economies for each. Those who spend years in study though, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit understand that these are artificial contrivances, man-made and laid upon the Scripture to 'organize information' , but they fall short: there were indeed times when God dealt in differing ways of a sort, but never outside of an Everlasting Covenant, and never outside of the whole of the Word which was always to be obeyed.
Why did Jesus say, knowing that He was bringing through his blood covenant, Grace, why did he say that 'not one jot or tittle would disappear from the Law'? Because he also said that He had come to fulfill the law. The Law did not change: not ever. Its purpose did not change: not ever: and believe it or not, the means to Salvation did not change from the Old to the New Testament: it was just a matter of the depth and perspective of understanding.
For example: Most people think that the imputing of God's Righteousness through Salvation is a New Testament concept, but it is not only. For those of you who read Psalms often, take a highlighter pen, and every time 'Righteousness' is mentioned or 'Salvation', highlight the words and note their context. Far more often than not, it refers to God GIVING or granting Righteousness, not to man earning it. The Law, even then was in its right place and perspective, as Paul teaches in Romans. It was not that the Law had to be obeyed to GET Salvation even back then: the Law was always the mirror of God's Righteousness.
When obedience to the Law is mentioned, it is almost always with regard to walking in Life, and in the reward of God, e.g.
Lev 26:3-4 If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them; Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.
The Law has an effect in this world, and when obeyed yields the effect of Life and God's reward and understanding of "the Way", the "Truth" and the "Life". The granting of Salvation and the Imputation of Righteousness though, is always from the beginning spoken of directly or indirectly as the gift of God.
When righteousness is spoken of as a product of the Law, it is individual 'righteousness' , 'right-ness' , 'goodness':
Deu 6:25 And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.
But the gift of God is rendered thusly, a righteousness we 'receive':
Psa 24:5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Psa 40:10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
When Salvation and Righteousness are mentioned together, it is given of God, and is His.
Psa 40:10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.
sa 24:5 He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Psa 51:14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: [and] my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.
Those are only a few sample scriptures mostly in Psalms, and one need note that Salvation is not spoken of, even in the Old Testament, as 'earned'. Further, even in the few passages above, God IS Salvation, and deliverer, and He is delivering from 'bloodguiltiness'.
Even this example though is not the main focus of what I mean to communicate here. Arguments against 'dispensations' or such are for another time, although I would point out that the most frequent use of the word in the Scriptures does not indicate a time period at all but means more of an 'administration'. For example, God may teach that a man should be the 'bishop' of a Church, what we call a preacher, but He does not mean that on a mission field if a man is not available that the Gospel should go unpreached. He may give a 'dispensation' for a woman to teach in a place or time, where the right order is not yet available. If I need to get a jar from the top cabinet in my kitchen, the right instrument is a 'ladder' but I don't have a ladder, so I grab a chair. Chairs are meant for sitting, not climbing, but in an emergency, I use the Chair. It doesn't change what ladders or chairs are for, and it doesn't replace chairs for ladders, but a 'dispensation' is given to use the chair until the right thing comes along.
Now, back to the original point, this notion that we have a Bible which only has certain things in it which must be obeyed, is not only nonsense but is dangerous and has harmed the Church. I am saved by Grace. Does that mean that I should not eat shellfish or seethe a kid in its mother's milk?[Exd 23:19 , Exd 34:36; Deu 14:21] People today say, "that's archaic" and most agree. The effect of the Law has not changed, though. Our Righteousness because of God's Salvation has made us free. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty'. We can eat shellfish if we want. Romans 8:28. But when God gave, for example the dietary laws, it was for a reason and the obedience to righteous laws kept Israel (and us) safe. Shellfish have more bacteria and are prone to salmonella. Not seething a kid in its mother's milk, and esoteric point of the law, kept the nation from becoming too cruel. The effect and excellence of the Law did not cease, nor was it replaced, but it was FULFILLED.
A Devastating Theology of 'That Was Then, This is Now'
One of the worst 'that was then, this was now' theologies ever devised, which still exists in the American Church in various 'sects', is that the teachings of Jesus, Yshua, were only for the Millennium Kingdom. Nuts! God put us to shame on that account by having Ghandi, a Hindu, pick up the Sermon on the Mount, use it as the base of his plan of action, and He won India back from the British! Though many fundamentalists consider Martin Luther King a 'liberation theologian', a liberal position, still the basis of his protests were..."the Sermon on the Mount" and he changed a nation. One of the first modern proponents of the teachings of Jesus being only for the Millennium Kingdom were German Theologians of the Deutsche Christen during WWII. The Reich did not want a nation of pacifist 'do gooders' who would passively resist the Reich. They believed it would ruin German morale. Hitler at one point even noted that the German people did not know how to 'hate' properly, but that it was incumbent on them for Germany to become strong, hardly a position consistent with the Beatitudes. They taught, as many in American churches teach that the Sermon on the Mount and the Parables are for the Millennial Kingdom or for Heaven, and therefore they are not obligatory to the modern Christian, but that is simply not the truth.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are likewise 'explained' away by many of Baptistic and High Church orientations, as being only some kind of 'igniter' for the Church and once it got going, they was not necessary any more. They argue that the Word of God is infallible, inerrant, and that not one word can be removed, but they discard such scriptures as passe, like 'Forbid not to speak in Tongues'I Cor 14:39, and 'despise not prophesying' I Thess 5:20.
We have lost the power of God in the Church, because we ignore or even defame the breath of the bride, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. I am not talking about the 'entertainment' type of gifts which the big money preachers promote, (the true lost among the false), but the real, daily practice of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to the Word of God, not adding to, but providing light and understanding.
The Way of God
Just as important, today in the Church we are confronted with the idea that 'anything goes' once we are saved. We rail against the 'world' but we do business the way of the world. We decry Casino lifestyles but go to Reno and Las Vegas or Mardi Gras on vacation and gather poker chips for the guys on Saturday. Many years ago, in a Sunday school class, the discussion came up of why whether a Christian should invest in RJ Reynolds, the mega-Tobacco giant. Most argued that if they didn't invest, someone else would , so what difference would it make. I argued that while we are free, its not what we HAVE TO do, but what we GET TO do for the LORD, including refraining from aiding industries which harm and even kill people.
I won't name the ministry, but a few years ago, I ran across a fellow in a well known online ministry who didn't think there was anything wrong with gambling. Well, again, you're a free person, but if you "yield your members to unrighteousness" you are essentially taking the life and hands you gave your Messiah, and giving them over to the 'other' kingdom which leads to bondage and destruction. You are free, but it quenches the Holy Spirit and makes your ministry less effective. If we continue to use such arguments, we could apply it even as far as Christian investment in drug deals and prostitution, or even prostitutes only for Christians! How close are we coming to that satanic logic?
Ted Haggard, Ray Boltz, and the Fruit of "That Was Then..."
There is a point in Ezekiel in which the prophet is led to a hole in the wall of the Temple, and God asks the Prophet to look through and tell what he sees.
Eze 8:10 So I went in and saw; and behold every form of creeping things, and abominable beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel, pourtrayed upon the wall round about. ....
Eze 8:12 Then said he unto me, Son of man, hast thou seen what the ancients of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the chambers of his imagery? for they say, The LORD seeth us not; the LORD hath forsaken the earth.
Eze 8:13 He said also unto me, Turn thee yet again, [and] thou shalt see greater abominations that they do.
Indeed, in the end, when 'Babylon' , Mystery Babylon falls, the Great 'Emulation' of the Bride of Messiah, who is portrayed as a Whore, John notes
Rev 18:2 And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.
Condemnation never saves or heals anyone. So what I am about to say, is with concern for healing of the Church and individuals, but it must be said. We have become so 'allowing' and discounted so much of the Word of God in the practice of our faith and understanding, that we have developed our own moral Relativism while negating the World for theirs. We are at war, folks. No one ever told you when you accepted Christ, accepted the Messiah that you had just entered a war zone. Principalities and powers war against the believer and against the Church always, until the end. I thought when I gave my life to the Lord that all would become steady and even and peaceful, but instead, I found war after war, that I never started. We really should not be so naive: we are admonished to 'put on the whole armor of God' and that the devil roars about seeking whom he may devour, and that we 'wrestle not against flesh and blood ' but
Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places].
It's a war out their. We are not to be as some in history wish, the 'Church Militant', but the Army which loves, but is well prepared for battle. Equipped, armed with the Word, and Faith, and praying for ourselves and each other daily. Not just showing up for the latest concert, or wanting greater entertainment etc, etc.
The TV Churches are vying for audiences, so they have turned into the Circus Maximus. Dry Ice, booming bass and sound effects, PowerPoint presentations on one side, Youtube or Godtube videos on another, and no teaching on living the Christian life, or more than 'what God will do for you'. The result has been tragedy after tragedy.
Last night, although I am about a year late in finding out, I read that Ray Boltz, the great Christian singer, has come out of the closet and announced he is gay. I always thought one of the best Christian songs ever written was 'Watch the Lamb' but also loved 'When others see a Shepherd boy', or 'Pledge Allegiance to the Lamb' and almost all of his were tops. Thirty three years married with 4 children, and in Church and ministry that long, and he is trading out the Lord of Life for a satanic lifestyle: sorry, but it is, it is utter bondage. Ted Haggard, the king of Evangelicals for awhile, traded out for a teen prostitute, while Evangelicals who lifted both to leadership railed against all those 'worldlings' who do such things or allow homosexual rights.
I am not advocating condemnation: these men were up against a war they did not understand (if their salvation was real) and the greater the heights, the worse the warfare, and it is real. Even now, the sin must be condemned and fellowship is to be suspended, but they are to be prayed for, for deliverance, for healing, for their families, for restoration, etc and for the vail to be lifted from their eyes to see how wrong those actions are, since hearts become seared over time. We are reaping though the effect of letting go of the doctrine delivered to us, and dismissing the need to obey the commands of the Savior.
Lest I sound accusatory, I have found the war close to home, raising kids for over two decades daily in the Word and in live, but 3 or 4 years in a secular university, one around unbelievers daily, one in the Army, and I have two young adults uncertain of what they believe, because neither they nor I were prepared for the degree of warfare we encountered. I am not judging anything but one thing: we have to get back to the Word of God, and we have to start obeying the commands which are taught, and seek the daily guidance of the Holy Spirit, or we are going to lose all we have worked for, our families, and possibly even our faith. We watch 4 or 5 hours of tv a night, but 'don't have time' for the Bible. We consider all exhortation criticism. We allow 'bored' housewives to ruin ministries or interfere in the raising of our children, and some of them are deadly. (Study it out: busybodiness is a demonic spirit). We promote businessmen to positions of deacons to aid in the 'corporation' of the church without any regard for their character or even knowledge of the Word. The Christian Music Industry is about as bad as the Secular Music Industry and we all shudder and point at celebrities who fall, not taking responsibility for putting them on precarious ledges.
There is no "That Was Then, This is Now". That is an Error, and a deadly one. We had better very quickly get back to what the Church is and how it is taught, as a living breathing body headed by the Savior, or in the near future, we will be virtually no different, than the Compromised Church of the Third Reich where anything went as long as the Pastor's pensions were paid by the State. This is NOW. This is where the Church begins again, with Her Messiah as Head.
Monday, June 29, 2009
I love the Apostle Paul. He started churches, but other people took over, he loved the Lord Yshua and could not forebear telling people about Him, so much that he was constantly beat up, imprisoned, stoned, rioted against, shipwrecked, bitten by vipers, and run out of town. Over and over. He never could hold a position in the pulpit for very long. One longstanding 'joke' letter in Christian circles is a letter from Paul applying for a job with the following credentials:
Understanding that you need a preacher, I would like to apply for the position. I have many qualifications that I think you would appreciate. I have been blessed to preach with power and have some success as a writer. Some say that I am a good organizer. I have been a leader in most places I have gone.
Some folks, however, have some things against me. I am over fifty years of age. I have never preached in one place for more than three years at a time. In some places I have left town after my work caused riots and disturbances. I have to admit that I have been in jail three or four times, but not because of any wrong-doing. My health is not too good, though I still get a good deal done. I have had to work at my trade to help pay my way.
The churches I have preached in have been small, though located in several large cities. I have not gotten along too well with the religious leaders in different towns where I have preached, and I am sure that they will not recommend me. In fact, some of them have threatened me, taken me to court, and even attacked me physically. I am not too good at keeping records. I have been known even to forget whom I have baptized. However, if you can use me, I shall do my best for you, even if I have to work to help with my support."
The Apostle Paul
HE kept on preaching though. Unlike preachers today, he had seen the Lord up close and personal and he was anything but the kind of man who went for any sort of fanaticism. Trained at the feet of Gamaliel, (Acts 22:3), he was in his own words, a "Hebrew of the Hebrews",
Phl 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;
He was a man among men. So zealous of the faith of his fathers, that when the new sect of 'little christs' came about he got a legal order to persecute and arrest all those radicals who refused to go along with the status quo, you know, the big money ministries that were ruining Israel and giving Judaism a bad name. They saw the little band of believers (then) as dangerous, nutzy , hellenized, and threatening Israel, possibly bringing trouble with Rome like their leader Jesus, Yshua, that rebel slave from Galilee. Zealous Saul Paulus of Tarsus got his order, mounted his horse and took off with a band to do some real damage, that Scholar of Israel, zealous for perfect Judaism. He wasn't opposed to a stoning or two, maybe even a roundabout here and there, if these rabblerousers were put in prison and their light put out. On the road to Damascus though, something so drastic happened, that it turned that Israeli Sanhedrin-bound scholar, into a shivering child, asking Yshua, "Lord, what would you have me to do?". The rest is History.
The Bones in the Tomb of Paul
While legend surrounds the Apostle Paul and other disciples, regarding where he died and how, it is known that his last letters were written from Rome, although some argue he travelled in between to Spain and Portugal, and then back to Rome where he was either burned, beheaded, or otherwise killed. One legend has it that Nero, setting Rome on fire attempted to blame Paul and the Christians for it, a great tradition of world leaders even in this day and hour. They all fiddle around with the truth.
However he died, though, this scholar of the Law turned itinerate preacher in love with the Messiah of Israel and filled with the Holy Spirit of God, however he died, Rome is now claiming that the bones in the tomb of St. Paul outside the Wall, are really Paul's, just in time for tourist season.
To begin with, it is a non-issue: whether they are or not, proves nothing and adds nothing to faith: we all have bones, all have a few left or at least ashes years after our death, and though today we can do DNA traces, then we could not. However, I had to wonder and even marvel at the constant lack of logic that comes up lately at the new hobby of finding Jesus and his apostles' bones, and how odd a hobby that has come to be.
First of all, buried in St. Paul's tomb, by the Roman Catholic Church automatically means that there is at least a 5% chance it might be Paul. The RCC wasn't around back then to collect bones or build tombs. Perhaps there was a note in his pocket that said, "Not John Mark, anybody but John Mark"---addressed to Barnabas. Maybe there were viper bite marks. Just a little first century humor here folks. Maybe it had enclosed a bookbag full of scrolls. Who knows? The article though said one thing, that makes me doubt completely that it was ever Paul's remains: it had a gold brocade wrap of some sort, and all of Paul's teaching is to the contrary.
Paul admonished women not to wear broided hair, and bangles, but to be adorned in the inner spirit.
1Ti 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;
and his constant theme was humility and surrender, dying to self. He himself surrendered the fine things of this life for the finer things of the next. Gold brocade wasn't on the list.
What are they going to do? Get DNA samples? Even if they could, the most they could tell is that the bones were possibly Jewish and male. How many Pauls were there in Tarsus? Or Rome? Thousands. The Vatican loves its icons and tombs, but most are idolatry, and our faith does not need to rest on the 'seen' but on the 'unseen', that being the substance of faith. Two thousand year old bones don't often tell very much when there are only fragments. Scientists, archaeologists, anthropologists and Bible scholars of the Curia may be brought in, but for all their observations and tests, they will be guessing, theorizing, and still will not be able to prove whether or not the bones really belonged to the Apostle Paul, who does not need them anymore, save for perhaps one day in the near future when God will decide which bones belong to whom, and what to do with them.
Some think that finding St. Paul's remains will 'prove' the Gospel, but belief in God and His Messiah is an issue of faith for Jews and Christians: all the authenticated bones in the world will neither cause faith nor destroy it. The Shroud of Turin, if anything, has been 'unauthenticated' but it does not prove Jesus and His Resurrection was not real, only that someone produced by whatever method, an icon to entice faith not in Jesus but in the Catholic Church. The recent controversy over someone thinking they had found Jesus' bones, rested solely on the name Joshua (yshua) scratched on the side of a stone ossuary, in a time when the name was very common and He is reported no where to have left bones.
Large religious organizations often feel the need to manufacture faith, objects, icons, statues, etc to entice or confirm belief. The ones that do it, feel they have real proof, and atheists argue that those inauthentic objects make faith inauthentic but neither is correct. Our faith does not hinge on objects or even on historical or anthropological 'proof'. We teach constantly that John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence and nobody doubts it, and we have his signature, but we were not there. Our belief that it is his signature rests on our FAITH, the belief in the unseen, that there was a John Hancock, and that the signature was his. Why then, do we think we apply a different set of rules to faith in Yshua, or Jesus, or God in General?
Chariots drowning in Reeds
A few years back, theologians, who may be known by skeptism more than wisdom, argued widely that when Moses crossed the Red Sea and the Waves allowed God's children to go through, that they were actually referring to the "Reed Sea" a shallow swamp, assuming that they , the million or so sloshed through mud and yuck to get to Canaan, and then the mighty Egyptian army, the greatest army of the day, experience in all forms of warfare and mad as heck, got to the 'Reed' sea, and what, got stuck in the mud? What a God.
A story was told of a little boy returning from Sunday School who was asked by his grandfather what he learned. He replied, Well we learned there was this general named Moses, and he was being chased by an army, so he got helicopters and hand grenades and bombs, and threw them in the water and it blasted the waves apart so all the people could go through and be safe'. His grandfather said, now is that really what they taught you? The little boy replied, Well, no, but if you heard it they way they taught it you would never believe it.
That's what our theologians are like. They can't believe the God who created the waves could roll them back for the purpose of the Salvation of the Jews, the Messiah and mankind. They have however been stuck in the mud before, so they use a whole different location than the one mentioned because they HAVE NO FAITH. Only the paltry thing called human reason---NOT DIVINE REASON. They argue that Mary, the virgin of Galilee could not have borne the Messiah of Israel in a virgin birth, because they cannot conceive (ahem) of it, so they say that a Roman soldier probably raped her, not knowing that this particular slander came from a Nazi theologian arguing for an Aryan Christ. They argue that the Word of God cannot possibly have been preserved over the years, but they have no problem with the writings of Josephus, or anyway lesser problems. They see miracles and they make archetypes. They want dead things for proof like bones, tombs, ruins, and artifacts, but when they find them, they still do not believe. Imagine their surprise at the finding of chariot wheels embedded in the sand under the RED Sea, or the body of Pharaoh, at least one of them! That is because faith has a different economy, comprehension and conversation than human reason and logic which fails us often, and especially about every 5 to 10 years.
The Catholic Church did not rest on the shoulders of Peter, the man with the keys to the Kingdom, nor Paul, the servant of God who gave up all for the high calling of Yshua HaMeschiach, Jesus Christ. It had its underpinnings in Paganism, including the worship of Ashtoreth, and Diana, and it was no surprise that Paul's preaching caused such a stir among the Diana worshipers who made their living off the sales of statues and idols. The solidifying of the emulation came in 313 a.d. not in a steady succession of Popes, but in a steady succession of Emperors from Rome who persecuted Christians, but because of the nagging of his mother, Constantine gave clemency to Christian worshipers ending severe persecution, but doing it even worse damage by making it a State religion and integrating pagan practices such as the worship of the sun god in what would become not the breaking of bread Messiah commanded, but the Eucharist and perpetual altar, instead of the one and for always sacrificial atonement. The nature of the beast was a "Holy Roman Empire" partly political, partly religious, ruled by the same persons, which has contrary to popular opinion never really died, but waxed and waned through the centuries. The Roman Church is the only religious body with declared and recognized ambassadors, the Apostolic Delegates and Pro Nuncios, which regularly influence world politics and defend the interests of the Catholic Church with embassy status. The Holy See and Vatican City is a Nation-State, though undeclared as a nation among nations, and has fought Israel at every turn for their right to Statehood. It is far more political than religious and has always been.
So the bones of poor Apostle Paul are no doubt not resting easy, as it is probably for political purposes that they rise up this one last time to speak to the Goyim.
Perhaps they are not his real bones, but the bones of some poor priest who decided to really preach the Gospel and got shown the Apostle Paul up close, say in the 15th century. How about enough of trying to find forged Copies of the New Testament at Mt. Athos like the Sinaiticus, or the bones of Jesus (since not one of his bones were broken, that would be hard) or the bones of Paul, or the miraculous radiated impression of Christ's face on a napkin which couldn't have been either since it was rolled up separately in the tomb, or Jesus' image on toast, or buildings, or in the photo on eBay, or the weeping Mary who only weeps blood when a little woman puts red dye in the faucet around Easter, etc, etc, etc, etc. Give it a royal rest.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
I became a Christian 24 years ago, this year. I was a university professor at the time, teaching in a College of Medicine in Behavioral Sciences. Contrary to popular opinion, I was successful in my career, and becoming well known in my field at the time, working on the national and even international arena in Grief and Bereavement. I was young, a single parent with two children, age 7 and 1 1/2 at the time and my daughter had recently been diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. While my professional life was filled with research, publications, teaching and conferences, my home life was a struggle, as any single parent can attest. While fighting off the barracudas of academics, I was trying to be the perfect mother (and father) at home , wrestling with new meal schedules, my daughter's three shots of insulin a day, rushed trips to the Children's hospital 16 miles away, blood tests, finger sticks, buying and remodeling a new home, juggling daycare for my son, and trying to deal daily with critical bosses who had no sympathy.
I had grown up Catholic, although I had believed very little in anything since I was a teenager, although with the birth of my children, a troubled marriage, and the other trials of life, I had at least suspended the question, thinking there might be a God somewhere, of some kind, but the question was left 'till another day'. I had met during that time Christians who ran in two extremes: either very remarkable loving human beings who testified to the Lord without even speaking, or zealous argumentative people who wanted me and everyone else to read the 4 spiritual laws, or right on the spot accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, (they didn't understand that as a first sentence to a college professor it often does just the opposite), and would walk away tiffed if one did not. Still, I did not make any kind of decision until life sort of fell apart. One can be even at the 'top of the world' so to speak, looking to all the world as young, progressive and successful and face quite another world personally. In 1985, one exhausting afternoon, after fighting off alot of grief, one child in school, one taking a nap, I was at home, and picked up a red Bible on the bookshelf which my daughter had been given.
The Red Bible
Now, this Bible had been through better times: it got accidentally dropped in the washer once, and the pages were swollen and wrinkled, but true to form, I don't throw away books, so it rested on the top shelf. I reached for it, the way one reaches for anything at all to read, and started turning or 'peeling' pages, curious about what it said,although I thought I knew. My academic arrogance was no less than anyone else's so I did not have alot of respect for God's Word, yet,but as a Psychology professor, I thought to myself, that one never knew, there might be something there that was at least wisdom about human beings, given that it was so old, and so many wise men had had a hand in writing or studying it. The first chapter I started to read, was 'Proverbs', and I know laugh at God's providence in acquainting an Assistant Professor with a doctorate in Psychology with Proverbs: the book of wisdom about how human beings are and the reasons they behave like they do. It was enough to be fascinated, and I started to talk to Christians at work.
When I got tired of hanging around the Behavioral Sciences department, I would go talk to the two artists in the Graphics department one of whom was designing a cover for one of my conferences. She was a born-again Christian, and working while we talked, she shared her knowledge and wisdom with me, and suggested I start reading the Gospels: I think she suggested John first, and I read Matthew around that time also. I got to the passage where Jesus is speaking with his disciples and asks them what others are saying about them. They reply
Mat 16:14 And they said, Some [say that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.
Following though, Jesus puts forth the question of centuries to his followers:
Mat 16:15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
and Peter answers:
Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
This is the question I had to confront, which in all my years of religious upbringing, never missing a Sunday, I had never considered. Who was He? Why did this one particular man, if a man at all, turn the world on its heel 2000 years ago so that even the calendar and worship changed? Why would He even bother dying for all of us, and what did that mean? I did not believe in a six day Creation back then, or the Garden of Eden, but that was not foremost in my thoughts: I was at least preoccupied with who Jesus was. As I read the next verse, though, I cannot explain, why or how, but I just understood absolutely that Jesus, Yshua, was exactly who he said he was, and that if that were true, then the whole Word of God must be true too.
Mat 16:17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
It was especially the passage about flesh and blood not revealing to Peter who Jesus was, but God himself. I knew it was true and was overwhelmed with that truth. Over time I read more, and in my living room, I knelt down, and as I had heard to do before from Christians along the way I 'asked Jesus to come into my life and heart'. I have just finished writing about why, that is not the fullness of Salvation through Messiah, but it is a starting point, and it was what I knew to do. It was a short time later, after reading the Scriptures and talking to Christians, that I began to fully comprehend exactly what Jesus, Yshua had done on that Cross that dark afternoon, when even the sky wouldn't look on. My first understanding all those years ago, was that sin was real, I could not ignore it in my life or others' having the seen the world for what it is, but that His death and blood, literally, not metaphorically, took away my debt of sin before God, and imputed to me the very righteousness of Him, of Yshua (the Hebrew for Jesus, meaning 'He saves'), the perfect Holy One of Israel, as though I had never sinned. Not to be understood with human reason, that paltry thing that has failed us so often, I understood instead with the faith He had given me.
I will not belabor 24 years of learning to walk with the Lord, that is another thing, except to say, that I felt His guidance immediately, and could no longer stand to even tell a little white lie. A week or two later at a church daycare I was asked who opened a door ( I had), and I did not want to get in trouble so I said 'I don't know'. My conscience was so pierced that I went back 20 minutes later to look for the person who had asked the question, so that I could apologize! I wish we all stayed at that point of First Love of Messiah, wishing to be taken away from this world rather than to lie or create any harm to Him , his or anyone else. Sometime later, praying heartily for God's will in my life, I received no other answer than 'Follow Me'. There were some serious 'Isaacs of obedience' I had to lay on the altar, including my success and career, in order to begin along a path that became far more difficult than I had ever imagined, but caused me to know and love Him more than I ever would have otherwise.
The Walk in The Way, The Truth and The Life
The modern American mind, does not receive any longer the cost of discipleship. We have a myriad of excuses, handbooks full of them as to why we do not have to suffer like the Christians of the centuries prior to the past one. One hears 'you cannot live like that, this is now, that was then, or what do you want us to do, all go back and live in the catacombs and wear sandals?' Well, I heard a sermon once in my early days of being His, that said what we need to do is to take a blank sheet of paper, and sign it at the bottom, and let Jesus fill in the terms of His contract with us. We do not merely receive an insurance policy against the day we die that gets us into heaven, which is every thing we carnally wish for, we enter into COVENANT, in which Yshua, Jesus suffered to gain eternity for us, and the Great Exchange of His life for ours, our life for His takes place: that is what has been forgotten. We would like His healing, His comfort, His blessings, and His wisdom and protection, but we do not want these days to even leave our hands off other people's lives and work.
I had envisioned early in my walk with the Lord that my life would be somehow easier: I kept hearing teaching after teaching on Christian radio or tv about how God was going to bless financially, and about how people turned from careers or other things in their lives and ended up a the head of ministries, Christian businesses, radio programs etc, and looked expectantly for that event in my life. I had after all given up so much already: I did what I was burdened to do, turned away from even social drinking (hadn't been much of a drinker anyway), from all the other things young people do that aren't particularly healthy, from teaching what I knew wasn't true no matter the consequence, and yet instead of immediately becoming rich and successful in some other way, I met with trouble and controversy, the borderlands of the divine conflict. When we believe that God owes us something for our sacrifices, we do not understand the Great Exchange. We are not yet made perfect in love. We have received a gift so great, that wherever He leads, and whatever the consequence, no matter how frightening, we have one reaction: Yes, Lord.
Paul was on his way to persecute, imprison and maybe even kill Christians in Damascus when he was met by a divine light, knocking him from his horse, blinding his eyes, and instead of questioning who it was, or interoggating God about whether he lived up to the Sanhedrin's standards, his response was short and to the point..."what would ye have me to do". After that, Paul never had a moment's rest in this world, and instead of banquets at the Temple and lecture series with a nice wife, home, and leadership in Israel, his life became beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, viper bites(more than one kind of viper in this world), quick escapes, running from murderers, trials, conflicts with the brethren, churches he started taken over by insincere incompetents, etc. He died upside down on a cross, or possibly in an arena with Nero trying to hold him accountable for the burning of Rome. He penned these odd, peculiar letters in the cold dark, without any funds or budget, thinking they might never be seen beyond a few months, I suppose, and died victorious in Messiah, not leaving "St. Paul Ministries Inc" behind but knowing he had done one thing: kept the faith. That is the battleground and victory, not mega institutions, beating each other out of contributors, tv spots, publications or the like.
Modern US 'Christian' Barges
I will probably be hated by some for what I am about to say, but what else is new. What we call the church in the United States today, is not the church at all. It is alot of vain puffery, and although it is a multi billion dollar industry, it has become vain, cold, cruel, flat, and powerless. Every insidious interest has been able to get in the churches these days because we forsook church doctrine and discipline about 50 or 70 years ago, and infused an 'anything goes' policy with regard to belief, practice and self sacrifice. One church today has the motto: No doctrine but Christ, and accepts any doctrine as long as you name His name. That's like saying, "No truth but whatever you believe" which fits nicely in the modern world but not in faith of Yshua Ha Meschiach, Jesus Christ of heaven.
We have married our churches to the State: they are the head of the church in the US now, and we like Red China and other oppressive countries have a State registered church through the invention of the 'non-profit' corporation, the 5013c. We answer ultimately not to Christ but to the FBI and the IRS. We place flags, declared living things, on our altars where we are not supposed to entertain idols, and we curtail our speech and sermons so as not to be arrested, or worse, to lose money. We look for certain kinds of people we want in our air-conditioned padded pew churches, with two working parents and salaries with 2.5 children families. We mock those who question whether Jesus would have done something one way or the other, and the only time the question "What Would Jesus Do" came up in this past decade or so was on several million bracelets and teeshirts on sale.
We have set our congregations up 'entertainment' style: one guy lecturing in the front, only with major 'pizazz' with video screens of his image, hundred voice choirs, drums, guitars, synthesizers, sequins, banners, dancers, confetti and anything else. 'Bring em in " Sundays, with costumes, prizes, ...I won't go to churches like that anymore. It is not Messiah, not Christ. He is joy, He is Peace, He is worth praising in truth in sincerity anywhere any time, and I am not criticizing types of music, or dress, or dancing: all those things can be all right, but they are not for entertainment. We pray very little and our churches sit empty in many places for all but Sunday services. When people pray now, more often than not it has nothing to do with love, but with getting their way in the world. Some even pray hatred, in little passive aggressive 'snipering' such as 'O Lord, show so and so this isn't the right church for him or her...', or one pastor even said, that when people got to him he prayed, "Lord, Get 'em". Blessing your enemies or walking the extra mile, so central to the Christian walk is not really taught anymore. One church bible study I attended many years ago was discussing whether Christians should hold stock in RJ Reynolds. Why would that even be a question? I got funny stares when I suggested it was not that we have to refrain from those investments but whether we get to: for the sake of loving Him more. I was called naive, but I am not: it is whether money is really the deciding factor or faith is.
I have called mega ministries, 'the great iron barges' of Christianity. Many do not teach more than certain peripheral sections of doctrine, usually not the blood covenant, and most are prosperity gospel, even the ones who teach against that , live it. I was not prepared for what happens when you begin to write, teach or publish things people want to read in Modern Christianity: the Great Iron Barges begin to line up like the pirate ships they are, to take whatever they want, without regard for the truth, the law, civil rights, or lastly any teaching in the Scriptures. Work for years to stay 'near to God' and not quench the Holy Spirit, and in the US today this is what you will get: the Great Pirate barges and their ensigns hacking your computer, breaking into your house, trying to steal copyrights, cheating you out of jobs, ministries and opportunities, soliciting your children against you, calling you crazy and trying to prove it, setting you up any which way but loose if they can walk away with all you have ever done, using your name, playing with your bank accounts or mortgages, and even resorting to physical violence. Some of the best known and richest ministries have so beset my little but since one, that I can hardly work anymore, hardly getting anything online or out before it is stolen or ruined.
Criminal attention and theft is rampant. Put out a Bible study called "The Passover Blog" and there will be 20 out tomorrow morning. One ministry for 20 years has over and over shown up with books or other materials using the same titles or concept of my little non commercial ministry, even talking openly about how nobody will ever believe me if it comes to court, they think, because, well, they are who they are and I am nobody. They will call in the dogs: hold mighty prayer wars which may have some effect because they do not tell their prayer warriors they are stealing and slandering. Some will buddy up with people of very ill repute who will do anything to get their way in the world. There are big names in Christianity, or more accurately Christian business, who do 'unspeakable things in the dark', and only a few ever come to light. It is not the faith delivered to the saints at all. It is not the same thing: it is an unholy illusion that has to be abandoned before the power of God can work in this country.
Red China and Home Churches
to be continued
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
It is never easy to conduct discussions of doctrine in the modern Church, of whatever brand. The other day on youtube, I found even a seething, volatile launch against a subgroup of hyper-preterists complete with star wars effects and music. Much of doctrinal disagreements come from one overriding problem: a lack of Bible Study in the House of God which is profound, mixed with erratic study using several hundred 'versions' of God's word. No one knows what is taught outside of what their Church creed or most recent Sundays sermon .
Many disagreements also come because we try in human reason to understand what only the Holy Spirit can shed light on. How many of us profusely pray for the teaching, guidance and direction of the the Holy Spirit, the 'Ruach Ha Kodesh' to open our eyes to the Word : instead we pull out our commentaries, encyclopedias, concordances and go to war outlining what other authors tell us the Word says, failing the God given precepts for the study of His Word.
There are a few main doctrines though, especially regarding Salvation, so central a topic, that need to be clarified. We say things we hear at every rally, festival and church service without even going to the Scriptures to be the 'Bereans' we should. Below are a few common 'misconceptions' or 'partial' conceptions:
Jesus Died in Our Place
Guess what? While this has been repeated over and over, in songs and sermons, (e.g. 'the cross in the middle should have been mine) it has a serious error in it: even if Jesus had never come, incarnate God that he was, our dying on that cross would have made no difference whatsoever in the salvation of mankind. We say the above all the time, grateful for salvation, thinking of Him as taking the place of the ones who would have suffered that fate if not for him. There is of course a kernel of truth here: He died FOR us, no doubt, but He was the ONLY one who could have held that place. No mortal person could have accomplished the finished work of the cross. NONE. They had to be a one unique nature, God made Man, never before and never again. Is this nitpicking? Not really. Jesus was not the 'great martyr of the First Century': He was the Lamb of God, sacrificed to put an end to the curse of sin, and reunite God with man, after the Fall. He died to fulfill the great Covenant promised since Genesis 3:16: but in His own Sovereign place and divine person: he did not merely 'take our place', but offered the one great gift of the history of the world.
2. Asking Jesus into our hearts, brings Salvation.
So often on TV Christian shows, in pamphlets and at rallies one hears 'ask Jesus into your heart right now..." etc. Asking Jesus into your heart and life, may very well bring the Sovereign Lord into your world and awareness (as if He had not been), but the working of Salvation, is by BELIEF, in the finished work of a blood Covenant on the Cross. Leave out the blood? So many churches try, but the whole Word from the first pages of Genesis to the last of Revelation teaches that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin. Even when condemned by their sin, Adam and Eve were given coverings of animal skin, necessitating a blood sacrifice. Priests made intercession and blood sacrifices for the sins of Israel from then until Messiah came. One sin, one blood sacrifice until One Sacrifice, covering all sin. Believers and unbelievers get hung up on why it had to be that way and here is the reason: we are not told. Faith and mystery require trust. We are told it IS that way, and that those who 'look and believe' are saved. When our children are very little we say 'don't touch that, it's hot'. We do not explain how heat works or coils and energy transfers work, or what electricity is: we say 'don't' and it only takes one burn on a little hand, and the child knows that the parent told the truth. We are not told why the blood completed the Covenant, only that it had to be applied. We are told to BELIEVE. Over and over, that is the command: believe. When we believe in all sincerity we are given the earnest of redemption, the Holy Spirit. You are not saved without God's earnest deposit: the indwelling Holy Spirit, the Holy Ghost, 'pneuma' as in breath or wind, or 'parakletos', the comforter or one who walks beside, the Holy spirit of God comes to live IN us. There is a difference between believing there was a Jesus, or that you can call on his name, and trusting in the blood as the finished work of salvation. The second exacts salvation, the first only admits He is probably real.
"Jam 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. "
3. Mere belief does not require trust.
this point is a natural outgrowth of the point before, that once we truly believe, we TRUST. I believe that there is tightrope 70 feet in the air. Will I walk on it if someone tells me I will not fall? The second involves TRUST. Believing in the Lord, well, millions, billions of people of marginal belief do that. TRUSTING few do. I knew someone once who described trusting the Lord for a parking space. Its not that its wrong to trust the Lord in the small things, no trust in the Lord is wrong, but that is where most believers leave their trust: small stuff. Jesus said though that we could move mountains, He said his followers could do greater works than the ones they saw him do when He returned to the Father.
Jhn 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
The first trust though, and many 'charismatics' and 'pentecostals' have to get ahold of this also: is in the finished work of a blood Covenant wrought by Jesus Christ of Nazareth, Yshua HaMeschiach, on Golgotha. He defeated death. He conquered and removed the curse of sin. He imputed His righteousness on us through faith. He paid the price of our sin we could not pay. And he literally, not figuratively, rose from the worst death imaginable, showing that the power of God was not encumbered by mere corruption and death. Do you really trust that first? All else is merely watching God work in this world in our defense and in defense of His Word, the Gospel of God.
4. The Resurrection and Miracles are not archetype and Metaphor.
When I first came to the Lord, my 'modern mind', trained in psychology at the University of Florida, had two great difficulties: Genesis and origins with a six day creation, and the resurrection. I had no real problem trusting that they were true, because I found all to be true that the Lord taught, but having been schooled in Evolutionary thought, and being a very pragmatic person, while I trusted, it was sometimes a struggle. Further down the line, though it is not only not a struggle, but I wonder why he decided to take 6 days. And resurrection from death, while the most remarkable thing that has every occurred also is not difficult to see when one gets ahold of God's sovereignty. A potter forms the clay any way he chooses. And the power, healing and miracles of God I have seen firsthand. Its not archetype!! I laugh now at the TV theologians who speak of how there were 'christ-figures' or archetypes of saviors or virgin births in all cultures as if that discounted the real thing! When I was an unbeliever, I used that to dismiss the reality of Christ. When I became a believer, I realized it was the Lord pointing even in other cultures and times who did not yet have the Word of God to the event that would occur. How foolish to think that because stories and myths which were untrue had elements of the forthcoming Gospel that it did not mean the Gospel was true: it was god preparing the minds of pagans to comprehend His Word when it was delivered to them at a later point in history. We teach 1/52nd of the time on the resurrection, and a little more on the Cross and atonement and most of the time on something else. We have become backwards in our views.
I will continue in the next post with more undetected 'errors' in modern belief.
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