Jesus in Paradox

      “Sinners call Him a Samaritan and demon-possessed. Yet He, the true Samaritan, saves sinners who “came down from Jerusalem and fell among thieves”. The demons confess Him, as He expels them, drowning legions of unclean spirits into the sea, seeing the Prince of demons fall like lighting. They cast stones at Him, yet He isn’t taken. He prays, yet hears prayer. He weeps tears, yet makes tears cease. As Man, He asks where Lazarus was laid; as God, He raises Lazarus. He is sold, very cheaply too, for a mere thirty bits of silver; yet He buys the world’s freedom, at boundless cost, for the price was His blood. As a sheep, He is lead to the slaughter; yet he Himself is Israel’s Shepherd, and now the Shepherd of the whole earth too. As a Lamb He is dumb; yet He is the Word, preached by the voice of one crying in the wilderness. He is bruised and wounded, yet He heals every illness and infirmity. He is lifted up, pierced with nails to the tree; yet by that Tree of Life, He brings us back to Paradise. Behold, He saves even the thief crucified with Him, draping the world in darkness as He dies!

“They give Him vinegar mingled with gall to drink. To whom do they give it? He who turned water into wine! He is the destroyer of death’s bitter taste, for He is sweetness itself and the soul’s full desire. He lays down His life, yet He has the power to take it up again. The temple’s veil is rent asunder, for the mystic portals of heaven are opened. The rocks are ripped asunder, and the dead rise up. He dies, yet gives life, and by His death He destroys death. He is buried, but bursts forth again!”

~Saint Gregory the Theologian

*Third Theological Oration Against the Arians, ch 20 as printed in “Daily Readings: The Early Church Fathers” by Nick Needham

Episode 5: Churches and the Bible. Why?

In this episode we talk about the Bible and common myths. Is it full of errors? Yes. What!? Watch and find out!

 

 

Resources Referenced in the Video:

Dan Wallace vs Bart Ehrman: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVlapUsHxhg

James White vs Muslim on Reliability of the New Testament vs the Qur’an: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MThl8qxAc2k

Dan Wallace Shorter video on New Testament Reliability: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lEmch2OAhs

Be sure to check out the documentary “The God Who Speaks”. It’s free if you have an Amazon Prime membership!

And check out our website: https://theologybrewers.com. I (Samuel) have done a couple lectures on this topic as well.

He Who Does the Work

     “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
     To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
     I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”  ~1 Corinthians 1:1-9

By who’s will is Paul called?

God’s

To who’s church does Paul write?

God’s.

Who sanctifies them (and makes them His church)?

God

Who’s catholic church (to which they now belong)?

God’s

Who gave them grace?

God

Who enriched them?

God

Who will sustain them?

God.

Who makes them guiltless?

God

Who called them?

God

Why?

Because He is faithful.

There is no hint from Paul that the work of God; calling, sanctifying, enriching, sustaining, pardoning, calling; will not be accomplished. There is no condition placed upon it. His work is accomplished because He is faithful.

A Dove, 3, 7, and Creation

Noah_mosaic

Genesis 8:8-11

Noah is waiting for the flood waters to recede and he sends out two birds. I have not contemplated or researched enough yet to comment on the raven but when reading about the dove being sent out, some striking things stand out (note: there is no mention of a seven day waiting period between the raven and the dove…significant? I do not yet know).

The dove is sent out and comes back with nothing. Noah waits seven days and then sends it out again. The dove hovers over the face of the water because it is formless and void and returns again with nothing.

Noah once more waits seven days and sends out the dove, and on this third time it returns with an olive branch of new creation.

In this four verse narrative we see all of the trinitarian creation story being told again.

Later on we also see the Edenic exhortation beings reiterated, this time to Noah: “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.”

This is a command-blessing that echoes that given to Adam during the first creation.

Now, there is another waiting of seven days and on this fourth time being sent out the dove does not return, and maybe this means everything I said above means nothing-or it ties in some how that I have not yet seen. I welcome comments and will update this post as I contemplate more on this passage; however, I think there is way to much coincidence to be ignored.

God loves to tell His story, many different times, in many different ways. Eschatologically we and the earth, which is under another curse, are waiting for the next new creation, and the final seventh day sabbath rest, that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit to inherit at the second advent of our Messiah.

Dangerous Christianity and Galatians

Recently, Tim Keller was interviewed by the NY Times and in that interview Keller espoused the importance of believing the basic orthodox beliefs of Christianity, namely; the virgin birth and resurrection of Jesus.

John Stone Street wrote an excellent article that talks about the backlash that Kellers has received from other “Christian” groups who are labeling Keller’s brand of Christianity- i.e. the orthodox, confessional brand- as dangerous.

As much as I didn’t like C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity (I know, #unpopularopinion) John Stonestreet points out that even Lewis declared the need to believe in the miracles of Jesus.

The passage in Galatians I am currently focsuing on tells us exactly how important Paul thought the essential doctrines of Christianity to be:

“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” Galatians 1:6-9

Paul is astonished by how quick these believers have started to believe false doctrines and listen to “other” gospels. Paul does not mince words in his condemnation of those who forsake orthodox Christian truth: “let him be accursed”.

In short, if you forsake the essential truths, and the virgin birth and the resurrection of Christ definitely fall under this category (see my post here), there is no salvation.

“I thought all I needed was the ABC’s: Accept, Believe, Confess”.

Sure, but what are you accepting, believing, and confessing? If you do not believe the Bible to be entirely true, you call God a liar. If you do not believe the Jesus was who He said he was (virgin born and resurrected) then you do not believe in the actual Jesus-this means you are not a Christian by the Bible’s own definition.

Admittedly, the title “Christian” is probably the most hijacked title of all time. Anyone can call themselves a Christian and does not have to justify why because…who cares about objectivity and history.

Why is this acceptable? Frankly, I have no idea. In society one cannot be considered a US citizen without the proper paper work. Someone cannot just come into America and declare themselves a citizen and magically receive all the benefits thereof. There are things they have to agree and submit to before they can gain citizenship. This is also true of Christianity. If you do not preach the orthodox truths of Christianity, yet have the gall to identify as a Chrstian-i.e. a “Christ follower” then Paul says:

“Let him be accursed”

Well, that’s not very ecumenist of you Paul.

Let me tell you; if you thought Paul was dangerous as a Pharisee, you should get to know him as a Christian.

Beginning in Galatians 

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Along side my regular Bible reading I am hoping to also do more in-depth studies of several books of the Bible. Writing about it will help me meditate on the passages and get my thoughts down. I will admit to this being a selfish tool of accountability that, as an added benefit of being a public forum, might also bless someone else.

I decided start in Galatians and move on to Hebrews (probably). I did a little with Hebrews last year but definitely not enough.

It seemed appropriate to starts in Galatians too because it is, arguably, Paul’s earliest letter that we have. What did he teach those early church plants?

I have already read through Galatians in the ESV, ASV, KJV, and the HCSB; maybe I’ll try to brush up on my Greek too…maybe. The hope in reading it through so many times to start off with, is to have the entirety of the context in the back of my mind as I now digg deeper into specific, smaller portions of Paul’s letter.

Also, I am trying to work on memorizing the letter (check out the all called “Verses”. Very useful memorizing tool). But I may modify this plan to end up being that I just memorize the highlights-we shall see.

Today I was looking at the first 5 verses and stopped to the think about vs 4 in particular:

“Paul, an apostle-not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead-and all the brothers who are with me,

To the churches at Galatia:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever.  Amen.” Galatians 1:1-5

What does it mean “the present evil age” ? Once I accepted Christ as my savior I was not instantly raptured into His presences. I also am greatly affected by the evil in the world around me-to which I, as a sinner, sometimes contribute.

My mind was taken to the gospels and how the Jews thought that Jesus was going to deliver them in a very literal way on earth by overthrowing Rome and establishing a physical Kingdom on earth. Yet this is not what He did, and they missed what He was doing. The Jews had no concept of a dying Messiah, and Jesus definitely was not what they pictured their conquering Messiah to be like. However, Jesus did exactly what He promised He would do in the Scriptures. He overthrew the kingdom of Satan and established-and is establishing, His Kingdom.

Did sorrow cease? Not yet. Did evil desist? Not yet. Not Yet. But God did deliver us from the present evil age.

If you are a child of God, you are His. Nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:35). We may still be affected by sin but we are not defeated by it, nor a part of that community. If someone has accepted Christ as their Savior, they are part of  God’s covenant people, ultimately delivered from this present evil age and currently having a citizenship not of the evil age around them.

Let this also be a lesson in hermeneutics-not everything is literal. Christ did not establish a literal kingdom in Jerusalem at His first advent, and this was one reason the Jews rejected Him. The Bible often talks in spiritual terms and it takes being saturated with the Scriptures to learn and discern when.

If you don’t believe me, check out Galatians 4:21-31. Paul specifically tells us how Old Testament Scriptures where allegorical in the case of Hagar and Sarah (this does not mean the account was not also true). If Paul had not pointed this out, would any of us have seen it? Maybe, but not without having read our Bibles-a lot.

If you are God’s child you are delivered. Live in that truth as you deal with this present evil age.