SUNDAY SERMON [9-24-17- verses from Church Unlimited- Mass- New Christian Harvest]
Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lord thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
NOTE- This is from last Sunday- I’m about a week behind on the teachings posts. The news this morning is the tragic shooting on the Vegas strip last night- as of now- 50 dead- about 200 injured- please pray for the families of the victims- thanks.
.My low rider
.The good seed
.Don’t wait for perfect environment- plant now
.Some seeds will fail- that’s part of the process
.Kerygma [Phil. 2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerygma
.Oral tradition in the 1st century
.Martyrdom- the 1st century- and now
.The mind of Christ- lay down your rights
.Guatemalans in North Bergen- they want to work
.Parable of the landowner
.Get to work!
.1st century context of the parables
.Genres of scripture [Historical narrative- poetry- prophecy- etc.]
NEW- On these ‘Sunday sermons’ I simply teach on the verses from various Sunday church meetings- for the date that I make the post- I have covered most of the material before- and that’s what you see below [Past Posts section].
I really have no ‘new’ teaching for this post.
But just a reminder- I do try and post a video or 2 every night on my facebook page https://www.facebook.com/john.chiarello.5?ref=bookmarks
– and for those who want to download the teaching videos- you can get them from the zip links I add to each post. Everything is free- feel free to copy as much as you want- download as many teaching zips as you want- that’s what these sites are there for- Thanks
PAST POSTS- These are my past teachings that relate in some way to today’s post- I either quoted from a bible book- and then added the links where I taught that whole book- or just pasted text from past teachings on something I taught on today’s video- Sunday Sermon]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhhg5c3D6LY [I mentioned the Guatemalan immigrants in North Bergen- sure enough- I have a video of the brothers!]
(739)ACTS 16- Paul and Silas hit the road. They are being led by the Spirit and are evangelizing large regions without a lot of money, organization or ‘corporate help’. Now, these things are permitted, but we need to make sure we are seeing this story right! Jesus imbedded a mindset into the Apostles, he told them ‘don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment! No special appeals for funds [ouch!], keep it simple’ [Message bible- Jesus instructions when he sent them out by two’s]. So here we actually see the Apostles living the vision. Paul by the way has a vision! He sees a vision of a man in Macedonia saying ‘come and help us’. Luke writes ‘we took this as a sure sign of God sending us’. Wow, what childlike simplicity. The great theologian Paul, the man who could argue orthodoxy all day [and win]. He has a vision and says ‘we took it as Gods will’. Don’t develop doctrines that cut you off from God’s supernatural guidance. Sure, people have gotten into trouble with visions. Cults have ‘prophets and apostles’. But the church also had these things and it helped on the journey. Now at Philippi they convert a woman down by the river. They cast out a demon from a fortune teller. The ‘masters’ see they lost their ‘money maker’ and stir up trouble in the city. Paul and Silas get thrown in jail. They praise God and sing, an earthquake happens. The doors swing open. The jailer thinks they all escaped and is going to kill himself. Paul and Silas preach the gospel and he asks ‘what must I do to be saved’ they say ‘believe on the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, your family too!’ The whole house gets baptized and the city leaders send word ‘tell them to leave’. Now, Paul is a lot like me. He doesn’t let stuff slide. He says ‘they beat us unlawfully, we are Roman citizens! Now they want us to leave secretly. Let them come and tell us publicly’ the leaders hear they are Romans and are worried. Paul made them squirm! Let’s do a little overview. We are halfway thru the book of Acts and we see the ‘churches’ as these free flowing believers carrying out the gospel. Baptisms and healings and visions. We also see doctrinal growth. We challenge the mindset of many evangelicals, baptismal regeneration is not taught [at least I don’t see it] but baptism in water is the immediate outward identification of the believer. In essence it was the New Testament ‘altar call’. Our Catholic friends will eventually develop an idea of baptism as washing away original sin. But sometimes we miss the other idea of putting off adult baptism because of fear of future sins. Saint Augustine, the emperor Constantine and others delayed their baptism thinking they would use it to ‘clean them up’ after any future faults. The doctrine of baptism in Acts is seen as an immediate rite that does affect the believer [as do all outward acts of obedience! Even the Lords Supper strengthens the faith of the believer]. But justification and believing are prior to baptism. But not two weeks or two years prior! But a few minutes. I also forgot to mention that Paul has Timothy circumcised in this chapter. The great Apostle Paul, who will eventually pen the words ‘circumcision means nothing, but a circumcised heart is what matters’ here he gave in. Paul and Silas are fresh off the recent Jerusalem council. They have been accused of teaching Jews ‘abandon the law and circumcision’. The decree from Jerusalem said the gentiles don’t need to worry about these things. But they were still teaching Jewish converts to maintain Jewish law and custom. Timothy was not circumcised, and everyone knew it! His mother was Jewish but his father was Greek. So Paul realized that the judiazers would eventually say ‘see, Paul is even teaching Jews to break Moses law’ so Paul gives in and compromises here. Do the restrictions at the Jerusalem council still hold sway over Jewish believers today? No. Paul will eventually abandon all Jewish law and custom from his doctrine of justification by faith. But at this stage they are still learning and growing. The mindset of ‘God’ in this book is one of ‘less restrictions’ and more acceptance as time rolls on. We see enough stuff on baptism to not call the churches who emphasize baptism ‘Cambellites/heretics’ [the term Cambellite comes from the founder of the Church of Christ/ Disciples of Christ groups. Their founder was Alexander Campbell. He falls into the restorationist camp. He saw the emphasis on adult baptism in scripture and many of his followers see the act of water baptism as the moment of conversion]. But we also see the basic ‘ingredient’ for acceptance as faith. So God is not excluding those who focus on baptism [Peters initial converts] but showing us greater acceptance among ‘those who believe’ [Acts 10]. This is what I tried to say in our introduction to this study. As we read we shouldn’t be looking for formulas or hard and fast verses to simply justify our churches beliefs against the church down the block. But we need to see the heart and mind of God. We also shouldn’t trace our peculiar belief to this historic church and say ‘see, our group is the most accurate one’. Why? Don’t I believe my idea of simple church is closer to the historic church? Yes. But the ‘church’ will develop in good and bad ways as the centuries roll on. The fact that many Catholics and Orthodox and future Protestants will grow and fight and reform, means the church herself has within her the inherent ability to ‘get back to the Cross’ or the reality of all of these groups believing in Jesus causes there to be a fundamental unity that exists because we all possess Christ’s Spirit. So even though I personally see the organic church in Acts, this doesn’t mean that I see the other expressions of church as totally illegitimate or lost! So let’s end this chapter rejoicing with the jailer who heard the gospel and ‘believed with all his house’.
(1148) THE TOWER OF BABEL- Today I finish the Genesis study that I started a few years ago. Sort of a milestone if you will. In chapter 11 we see the famous story of the Tower of Babel. Man united his efforts, learned how to build things contrary to God’s initiative [brick and mortar versus stone] and gave his time and efforts willingly in order to make a name for himself [image building]. Over the years I have observed the church of God go thru various seasons, sometimes I cross paths with good men who are at different levels of the journey [like myself]. One of ‘the levels’ is the realization that ministers/pastors have often unconsciously built towers of Babel when they meant to build Gods church. Babel was an affront to what God wanted. Babel was an edifice that drew your attention to man and his ability to get things done, it shouted ‘look how much I have been able to accomplish, cant you see what I’ve done’! Contrary to mans building plan, God used stones that were honed and fashioned at the quarry before they were brought to the temple site. This represented the reality that though man is used in Gods building program, yet he is simply a stone carrier/placer. He doesn’t actually produce the building materials [brick and mortar]. The Lord stopped the tower of Babel by confusing the languages of men and scattering them throughout the land. The contrast to this chapter is Acts 2, where the Lord supernaturally allowed men of many different languages to once again come together and understand each other. Sort of like Gods divine imprimatur on the new building/tower that he was going to build [the church]. He would allow men once again to take part in this unified effort to build something. But it would be like the prophet said ‘not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit saith the Lord’ [stones versus brick]. On the journey most leaders will eventually see the common mistake that many Protestants have made in allowing the things we have built to bring honor and attention to who we are, what we have been able to do. This mindset of building is exactly what God rebuked at Babel, he did not want man to ‘build a tower unto heaven’ and believe in his own intellect and abilities. Jesus often challenged the mindset of the disciples on the nature of leadership, he built into them a new way of seeing leadership, it would not be a means to become the greatest, the most well known one among the group. It is common today for the leader/pastor of a congregation to unconsciously become the center of attention; this is a mistake that Christians have made by not seriously following the commands of Jesus about leadership in his kingdom. Most leaders will face a time where they will have to die to this addiction that is common among good men, men who mean well. When confronted with this challenge it is a conscious choice that leaders will make that is not easy, it truly will be a Cross to bear. But it’s better than God having to come down and personally stop the building program!
(1147) Lets do a brief overview. Those of you reading these last 10 or so entries from the Genesis Study will see that I taught the chapters 12-50 a few years ago. I had no real reason to have left out the first 11 chapters; it just worked out that way. It gave me some time to look at both sides of the creation debate [young versus old earth]. First, I want to say that I still lean towards old earth myself, but do not consider myself a Progressive Creationist. These brothers view the creation days as long ages, the problem I have with that view is it has God intervening directly and creating life at many different intervals over millions of years. I don’t hold to that. But I do believe it’s possible to have an old earth and a literal reading of the days [I already explained it in these last few posts]. Most of all I want to stress that the bible is not clear when it comes to the age of the earth. The young earth brothers have made a very noble effort from verses that connect the beginning of creation with man [Mark 10:6] or other verses speaking about things from the start [Mark 13:19-20, Luke 11: 50-51]. Too much to do now, but it is a long argument for a young earth. The other word that comes up often is Phenomenological, this word is used to explain the language of scripture that is used when speaking to the common man. Like when the bible speaks of the Sun set and Sun rise, most of us realize that the Sun is not the object that is moving! So to technically argue something that we know is ‘not true’ would be silly. Mark Noll wrote about stuff like this in the popular book ‘Scandal of the Evangelical mind’. So, how much science do we accept? Do we use these arguments to open the door to Evolution and everything else that comes down the pike? Of course not! But we try and stay open to science while at the same time staying true to Gods word. For many years science and philosophy believed in an eternal earth and universe. It wasn’t until the tremendous breakthroughs of the 20th century that the Big bang Theory became accepted science. If you listened to Einstein’s theories at the beginning, they seemed utterly ludicrous! His ideas about time not being fixed, and the relationship between time and space were way out there. Many Christians did not accept his ideas. But there were many atheistic scientists who were more troubled, if Hubble and Einstein were right [they were] that would mean the universe had a starting point [the so called point of singularity] the atheists knew that this would sound the death bell for their belief in atheism. If there was a starting point to time and matter, then there was no way to get around it, you would need an initial starter [Aristotle and Aquinas would be right- prime mover, though they both believed in an eternal universe]. So today the majority view of cosmology is the Big Bang theory, some scientists still argue for the eternal universe, but most believe in the Big Bang. In essence this is an example where science has handed to the theologian one of the greatest weapons to argue for the existence of God. But just like the age of the earth debate, you have believers who challenge Big Bang cosmology. Some are smart and have good reasons to challenge it. When I say I believe in the Big Bang, I am not saying I hold to the various views of evolutionary processes that come along with the theory; things like the stars producing the matter that swirled out over millions/billions of years and formed planets. There are obviously parts of the Big bang theory that are questionable. So scientists try and come up with ideas to make the questions go away. A major problem to the Big bang theory is how can the universe have such a stable balance of temperature all over the place. If everything expanded [that’s really a better word to explain it than explosion] at such a rapid rate, you would not have the stable atmosphere that science shows us. So a professor at M.I.T., Alan Guth, came up with an idea called ‘inflation’ he guessed that at the initial point of singularity, everything first expanded to the size of a basketball and all the matter of the universe was stabilized at this point. Then the massive expansion took place and that’s why you have a steady balance when there shouldn’t be one. To say the least these ideas are very questionable, that’s why some scientists don’t accept the whole theory. But for the most part the accepted truth that all matter did have a beginning point is one of the strongest apologetic arguments that science could have ever given to the church. The point being we as believers need to look at both sides of these issues, the debate between young and old earth creationism has at times lost the Christian mandate to deal charitably with each other. I realize the views held are sincere, and many believe the integrity of Gods word is at stake. But we need to present our views and let the chips fall where they may. I will probably finish this short excursion into Genesis tomorrow, but those of you reading these entries from other parts of the blog besides the ‘Evolution/Cosmology’ section, I would suggest reading the stuff I have written in that section along with these last 10 posts. It will help give you a better idea of where I am coming from.
(1146) SONS AFTER THE FLOOD- In Genesis 9 we read the account of Noah and his sons repopulating the planet. God promises Noah that he will never destroy the earth again [by way of water- what about fire? We’ll get to that in a minute] and we see the beginning of man eating animals for the first time, the institution of the death penalty and civil justice [Romans 13] and the famous promise of the rainbow ‘when ever it rains again you will see my bow in the clouds and know I will not flood the earth again’. Are there natural explanations to things that the bible ascribes to God? Yes. Does that mean the bible is a book of myths and fables that were fake and only meant to give us moral lessons? No [contrary to liberal theology]. The fact that we know every time there is a rainbow in the sky, that there is a natural explanation to it, this does not mean this story is fake. God obviously created a repeatable situation that never occurred before, and he told man it was for a sign. Just because science can ascribe a naturalistic explanation to a thing, this does not mean the thing has no supernatural elements to it. This is also where the theistic evolutionists/progressive creationists make parts of their case. Does the fact that God created something mean that there are no possible natural means for him to work by? They will show you that when David said God formed him in his mothers womb, that obviously ‘God formed’ David in a different way than Adam! When you look at ‘a test tube baby’ do you not see a creation of God? Yes, even though there are obvious natural explanations to the conception and birth [like the rainbow being explained by nature] yet the actual life itself is still a mystery that can only be attributed to God. Also God reassures man not to worry about a total future destruction of the planet, in the last verse of chapter 8 he says as long as the earth remains there will never be another worldwide ceasing of the created order [seedtime and harvest]. How do we square this with the Christian doctrine of ‘the end of the world’? Now, this can get complicated and take more time than I have right now, but lets try and take a quick ride. The famous New Testament verse on the future ‘destruction’ of the planet is found in 2nd Peter 3 [the same chapter that deals with the flood] Peter says the elements will melt with a fervent heat and we await a new heaven and earth. In the gospels Jesus also speaks about ‘the end of the world’ the word for world does not mean the planet, but the age. Just like when the bible says ‘satan is the god of this world’ it speaks of age, not earth. So a careful reading of the ‘end of the world’ verses show us that there will be a future time of cleansing ‘by fire’ that will usher in a new age/order. Preterists [those who believe the future judgment scenarios were speaking of a.d. 70 and the end of the old order of the law] take these verses to mean that God was ending ‘the old order/age of law and bringing in a new age of grace’ I see partial truth to this, but don’t fully accept that there is no future aspect to it. The futurists [dispensationalists] see a destruction of the world and sometimes allow this view to effect their responsibility to the planet and society at large ‘heck, why worry about the environment and future stuff, it’s all coming to an end soon’ type mentality. Some, not all, have this mindset. The Preterists think the Futurists have made a fatal mistake in misreading the verses that should say ‘age’ instead of ‘world’. There are very good points that the Preterists make, though I don’t fully embrace everything they have to say. Overall we see that God wanted to reassure man that he was not going to totally wipe the earth out again like he did in the past. Whether you see the future fire burning up the elements as some sort of nuclear thing [I don’t] or a reference to the glory of Jesus burning up the chaff at his return, the important thing to remember is God wanted man to know that the natural order of day and night would go on, and a new heaven and earth would continue to exist for all eternity. The mindset of ‘don’t give up on the mandate to have dominion and care for the planet’ was being instilled in Noah and his sons. I think it would do the evangelical church some good if we looked more seriously at some of these issues.
(1145) THE FLOOD- Okay, this is a hot topic. First, the flood really happened! Some old earth creationists insist on a local version of it, others say it was worldwide [I’m in the world wide camp]. God tells Noah to embark on a very long building program. He certainly looks like a nut to those around him. Eventually the Ark is finished and Noah and his family get in, they bring 7 of every clean animal and 2 of every ‘unclean’ type. It rains [some say 40 days and nights, others think it rained longer] and the ‘fountains of the deep are opened up’ obviously a reference to some type of Tectonic action. After everything dies, the Ark rests and Noah and his family repopulate the planet. The young earth creationists have good arguments from this story [real event!] some of the old earth brothers tend to trivialize it. Ever since the science of geology gained ground [19th-20th centuries] many have argued for a very old earth based on the geologic table. They look at the different strata of the earth [levels] and say ‘see, these levels took millions of years to develop, you have dinosaurs buried in the lower levels, then other types of animals, birds and then man is rarely found fossilized’ these brothers see a sort of scientific record that backs up the progressive creation view. They say the creation days are ages, and the science shows us deep time. Are there any other explanations for the various fossil levels? Yes. The young earth brothers will make a very good argument that the cataclysmic effect of the flood caused the levels. They say the reason you find dinosaurs and other land animals at lower levels is a result of natural panic and survival during the flood. The slower, heavier animals would die first and get buried first. The birds lasted longer of course; they kept flying to high land until they too died off. Man was the smartest of the bunch, he managed to survive longest, and that’s why you don’t find as many fossils of man as you do other creatures [those who die late would not get covered in sediment and would simply rot!] This argument isn’t that bad, to be honest. There are of course many other things besides this, the point I want to make is if you rule out the biblical record of a world wide flood, then you are leaving out other interpretations of the data. Most young and old earth brothers agree on the actual record [i.e.; we do see things buried at different levels] they simply disagree on the interpretation of the data. Lets do a few practical things here, God had Noah prepare things ahead of time. He also spent some down time in a huge boat with a ‘lot of dung’ [ouch!] Often times on the journey we hit spots that don’t look [or smell] that great. People might even mock us ‘look at that idiot Noah, he’s even got his family believing in this stuff!’ but when it was all said and done he was vindicated. Those who tend to spiritualize the stories of Genesis usually see the first 11 chapters as a mix of symbol and history. The genealogies of chapters 4, 5 and 11 are sometimes seen as not exact [by the way, in the last entry I used Enoch as an example of the ascension, the Enoch who was taken up was the Enoch of chapter 5]. The reasons are various [like the other ancient near east genealogies used 10 generation lists, both chapter 5 and 11 are 10 generation lists]. Some do this in order to fit more time into the biblical record. Jesus, Peter and the writer of Hebrews all speak of Noah and his flood as a real historic event! There should be no reason for believers to doubt or spiritualize these stories away. But we also want to be open to the reality that other cultures had their own tellings of these stories, and that the recording of genealogies does not mean there is no room for an older earth [the genealogies are accurate, but they don’t start right at the beginning of time!]. And let’s finish in a practical way, are you going thru a season of feeling stuck in a big box with a lot of dung? Sometimes the word of the Lord to us is ‘just survive at this time, when the storms over things will look better again’. The Lord used Noah to have an influence on the entire civilization that would re-populate the planet! God will increase your influence if you simply find a way to survive the flood.
(1144) CAIN AND ABEL- After the fall of man, God kicks him out of the garden and he loses intimacy with God. Eventually Eve has kids and Cain kills Abel his brother. In Hebrews 11 and 1st John we read the story. Abel brought an animal offering, Cain brought from the fruit of the ground. Some say this was a comparison between Jesus [typified in Abel’s sacrificial animal] and the law [Cain’s work of his hands, the ground]. Maybe so? Hebrews says God accepted Abel’s offering because it was in faith and rejected Cain. Cain got jealous and killed his brother, the first recorded murder in the bible. Cain has a son named Enoch [which means teacher- rabbi] he builds a city and names it after his son [God is building us, the city of God- we are named after his son, the Body of Christ] and Enoch will eventually be caught up bodily into heaven [a type of the ascension]. The skeptics often ask ‘where did Cain get his wife’? The most likely answer would be from his extended family. There was no rule against marrying your kin back then, so this sounds reasonable to me. But wait! The skeptic says because we don’t know for sure where Cain got his wife, therefore atheism is true. They then will tell you where all people really came from. Around 15 billion years ago nothing existed [not even God] and from this point of nothing something exploded into existence [without an exploder!] eventually the earth showed up and it rained on the earth for millions of years. Somehow the rain on the rocks produced this soupy mixture [primordial soup] that all by itself produced the first living cell. After millions of more years man showed up. Yeah brother, that explanation sure puts to shame the Cain and his wife thing! The story of Cain warns us of the danger of jealousy, comparing ourselves with others. Putting pressure on people to make things happen so you look better. I recently read a story about a mega church [not in Corpus] and they went thru a few years of battles. They were building a new expensive building; the pastor put pressure on the people to give. Some of the people felt like they were always being challenged to give more money. Then word got out that the Pastor bought expensive gifts for his friends with church money, 3-4 thousand dollar suits and jewelry. He was flying all over the world at great expense, doing public speaking and stuff. It was a big mess, lawsuits entailed and relationships ruined. From what I read about it in the news paper stories that were on line, it seemed like there were mistakes on both sides, both the church leadership and those who wanted to expose it. The bigger problem is this basic style of church, the high powered world traveling leader, spending lots of money on seemingly okay things. The people being supporters of the gifts and persona of the charismatic personality [whether thru media or personal travel] this whole system is being rightfully challenged at the present time by a new generation of community minded believers who see that this high powered style of an individual leader is not the pattern of church found in the New Testament. Often time’s jealousy can be a factor on both sides of these issues, but we also need to understand that there are legitimate challenges against this whole expression of church. Most of all we want to avoid taking things into our own hands, trying to personally stop what we might perceive as wrong. Cain was jealous; he allowed his rage to lead him to the killing of his own brother. He might have gotten rid of the thing he felt was an obstacle, but he would live with the guilt for the rest of his life.
(1143) THE FALL- God puts man in the garden, he gives him only one restriction ‘don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil’ sure enough, he does! The serpent [satan] tempts Eve in 3 areas, the tree is good for food [lust of the flesh] good to look at [eyes] and can make you wise [pride]. In 1st John 2 we see these three areas mentioned as the common categories of all other temptation. These were the same areas the devil used on Jesus in Matthew 4. The temptation to Eve essentially said ‘look at this God of yours! He wont give you the freedom to do anything you want, he is withholding such a good tree from you’ sounds like the philosopher Freud, he taught that the problem with man was Gods restrictions. That if man would cast off the limits that religion imposed upon them, then all would be well. But what man did not know was that these basic limits were for his own good. When man would choose to walk out from under Gods limits, he would suffer for it. In this chapter [Gen. 3] we also see the great prophecy of the child of the woman eventually crushing the serpents head [called the Protoevangelium- Latin] a prophecy about Christ’s future victory at the Cross. God also covers man with animal’s skins, a type of the future sacrifice of Christ on behalf of man. Man tried to cover up with leaves, God said it wont do, so he sacrificed the life of an animal and used the skins as a covering. The wages of sin is death, the price was paid. In Romans chapter 5 Paul will show us that death and sin passed upon all mankind from Adams sinful act, but thru the obedience of one man [Jesus dying on the Cross] righteousness comes to those who believe. This is the basic Christian doctrine of original sin. Some refer to this as the federal head theory of redemption. I believe it’s vital for Christians to have a grasp of this doctrine. In the 19th/20th centuries you had liberal theologians deny the doctrine of Jesus dying on behalf of man. Along with this they also denied that original sin existed. Most believers realized that this denial was heresy and avoided it, but some are playing with the idea again. The bible clearly teaches the substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ on the behalf of man [Isaiah 53] and it is a foundational doctrine for all true believers. To some it seemed unfair to charge God with the doctrine of original sin, and along with it the doctrine of Penal substitution [Christ being punished for us] these are core Christian truths, if people want to deny them, that’s their choice. But to be a Christian in the biblical sense of the word, these truths are necessary, they are part of the foundation of all true Christian churches.
(1142) MAN, GODS UNIQUE CREATION- Okay, we already saw how God made the animals and fish and birds, but when he describes mans creation he shows us that it is unique. Out of all the other created things, man alone is in ‘Gods image’ and bears his likeness. Man is a moral being with a built in conscience, he has the capacity to know God and live with him forever. This is the basis of the Judeao Christian value on human life. Those religions who believe in the Genesis account of creation, see man as having special value. The Darwinian worldview [social Darwinism] sees man as a simple blob of meaningless flesh, no different than the other life forms along the line. I always found the atheists reasoning to be a little illogical; they will argue that they are the real intellectuals, the so called ‘brights’ [a recent term they have come up with to describe their group] they will then explain to you how their view of their mind and brain is purely naturalistic, their brains are simply these jumbled masses of cells that are the result of thousands of years of meaningless process. Their whole being started as an accident, they have no initial purpose or final end. They see themselves, and along with it, all their reasoning and education and knowledge as being the result of years and years of luck and chance, and then they want you to trust in their conclusions! Ah, the utter foolishness of mans wisdom. God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed into him his own breath and man became a living soul. Though the basic material of man is the same as the other material things God made, yet he only breathed his own image into man. The great 17th century philosopher/mathematician Blaise Pascal was reading the gospel of John one night, he was meditating on John 17 and had an awakening, he began to see that God was ‘the God of Jesus’ not the God of the philosophers. He saw that having a real relationship with God was different than simply knowing the things about him. God built into man the capacity to know him, while all other creatures are valuable and special to him [Jesus said not even a little sparrow dies without God caring about it!] yet man alone has the capacity to know and be in true communion with his creator, man was created in Gods image.
(1141) UNIFORM OR CATASTROPHE ? One of the key verses in the debate between young and old earth creationism is in 2nd Peter chapter 3. Peter says that in the last days scoffers will doubt two specific things; the second coming and the flood of Noah’s day. I find it interesting that some theories on the long age of the earth also incorporate a local flood for Noah’s day. The young earth guys will use the Peter verse to show that if you purposefully rule out a world wide flood from your theory, that you fall into the snare of viewing certain scientific data [geologic table] as being a result of millions/billions of years of gradual uniform time [uniformitarianism] as opposed to being a result of the flood. The young earth brothers point to the fact that much of the fossil evidence and geologic column [like the Grand Canyon] can be a result of the universal flood. These brothers see the catastrophe [catastrophism] of the flood as the cause for these things. Does Peter [or any other bible passage] shed light on this subject? Yes, even though the bible does not speak to us in scientific language, it is reliable on all the things it does speak about; history, events like a flood, the future judgment, the second coming, etc. So it is important to not rule out the effects that a worldwide flood might have had on the data. Do we have any examples of the bible referring to worldwide things, and not really meaning ‘the whole world’? Yes, in Acts 2 the bible says there were people gathered from ‘every nation under heaven’ at the time, but the chapter gives us the nations that were there, there were obviously no people from America! So does ‘every nation’ simply mean every nation from the known world of the time? Yes. So some local flood believers use this type of stuff to defend their view. We do need to be careful when doing theology like this. Does the biblical account give us other clues that the flood was worldwide? Sure, why in the world would God have Noah build a huge ark, gather all these animals, have them in it for a long time while the earth floods. If the flood was regional, just tell the guy to move! The biblical account says the waters covered the highest mountains of the day, this could not happen unless the flood was world wide. So even though the bible does say ‘world wide/all nations’ at times in a non literal way, this does not mean we can change all the events described as world wide into local events. Some who read the first few chapters of Genesis in a poetic language way, also have the problem of deciding when the poetry stops! Is the Genesis 6 account of a flood real? What about the tower of Babel in chapter 11? Once you start going down the road of over spiritualizing the bible, you can run into problems. Overall I believe we need to be open and willing to see both sides of this argument [young and old earth views] there is somewhat of a tendency to view opposing views as real heresy [I sense this mostly from some of the young earth writers]. But there is also a condescending attitude towards young earth believers that at times seems to say ‘how can you be so behind the times in your views’? This debate on the age of the earth and the various progressive stages of evolutionary progress [cosmological evolution- stars producing basic elements over billions of years and these things ‘birthing’ planets and so forth] these theories are in no way definite! There are a lot of things that we simply don’t know for sure. But at the same time there are and have been true scientific breakthroughs that have challenged the mindset of the church and have corrected the church’s view in certain areas. As believers we need to hear both sides, while avoiding the warning of Peter who did say that there would be scoffers who purposefully would overlook the historical event of the flood of Noah’s day, we must let scripture form our views, while at the same time understanding that the bible does not give us a scientific explanation for all things.
(1140) CREATION DAY 7- On the seventh day God rested and enjoyed what he had made. This does not mean he was tired, or that he ceased from activity. But is shows us the process and ways of God. When you read the parables of Jesus he often uses land and seed analogies to explain God’s kingdom ‘the kingdom is like planting a seed’ and stuff like that. God rested because it was his purpose to initiate the first 6 days of creation and for that creation to be self sustaining/propagating [under his sovereignty]. It’s important to see this aspect of creation. In chapter 1 God chose to use the words ‘let the waters bring forth’ and ‘let the ground bring forth’ when speaking of land and sea creatures. Why not simply ‘let there be animals, fish’? It seems as if God himself is leaving some room here for a reading of the text that has more to it than meets the eye. Does this mean the Progressive creationists are right? [or theistic evolutionists] not necessarily, but is shows us that there is some language in the text itself that shows a sort of ‘co-operative effort’ where God caused the initial base elements to ‘bring forth’ life. Some see this as God using simple language to describe deep scientific truths that would be found thru out the ages. Some equate this language with deep time ideas [old earth]. Also in chapter 2 we see the Lord describe the entire creation event as happening in ‘a day’ [singular]. This simply meaning ‘at the time period’ the young earth creationists are correct in pointing out that this does not mean the first 6 [or 7] days were not literal 24 hour periods. Scripture does use the word Day to speak figuratively at times; the ‘day of the Lord’ and stuff like that [meaning both a day and a time period]. But the point can be made that very early on [Gen 2] God chooses to use the word Day in the singular to describe the entire event. Also the writer of Hebrews will ‘spiritualize’ the phrase ‘and God rested on the seventh day’ to describe the age of grace, the new covenant ‘rest of God’ [read my Hebrews commentary, chapter 4- To be honest I don’t remember what I said at the time, but I’m sure I must have explained it!]. Once again, this would not necessarily leave the door open for a symbolic, non literal reading of day 7. But it shows us the various ways other new testament teachers used these scriptures, they were not afraid of applying them in theological ways. Of course we can get into trouble if we carry this too far. In the early days of the church you had the Alexandrian school, a great 3rd century Christian school, that adopted a highly symbolic way of reading scripture. The famous teacher Origen would head up the school at one point. He taught a type of spiritual interpretation of the bible that had 4 meanings to it, it was a little [or way] overboard to be honest about it, but the school was very influential. Eventually saint Augustine would embrace many of these ideas. Augustine was a titan in the early church and has been said to have had more influence in the later centuries of the church than any other teacher next to the apostle Paul! So we have had somewhat of a history at how far we should go when reading these texts. I would simply point out that there is some room here, early on in the bible, to see that even a straight forward reading of the text leaves room for some progressive ideas, some ‘spiritualizing’ of certain aspects, and a certain feel for the text that seems to say ‘there’s more going on here than initially meets the eye’. This does not mean we should abandon a literal view of the days, but shows us that God can use natural, normal days and extend his ideas to us in a manifold way [like Jesus use of the seed in his parables- real seeds, greater meaning]. Also the text shows us that God created the heavens and earth first and used language that said ‘let the waters/ground bring forth’ showing us that all other things were made from the basic stuff of the original heavens and earth. Does natural science go along with this? Yes, science shows us that all the base elements of all things come from the initial base elements that were used in the creation of the material world [The 90 or so elements found in the periodic table- hey, it’s been a long time since high school!] So even science itself would agree with the biblical record! How would the writer of Genesis have known this at such a pre scientific time? These things testify of the Divine nature of scripture itself. So we need not abandon a literal view, but we also see there is room for more than initially meets the eye.
(1139) CREATION DAYS 2-6 There are various views on these days; of course the literal view, each day is a 24 hour day that ends with the description of ‘evening and morning’. The symbolic view would argue that there was no ‘real’ evening and morning until day 4, because on day 4 God made the sun. So an ‘evening and morning’ that would be measured by the earth’s rotation as it relates to the sun [solar day] could not happen in a literal sense. These see certain poetic elements in these verses. A repetition of certain phrases- evening and morning, let there be, God said. These repetitive phrases show a stylized Hebrew narrative. It should be noted that this argument is true, whether you believe in the literal or figurative reading. It is still possible to have this type of stylized element, while at the same time speaking a real historic narrative. Another interesting view is called The Framework Theory. This view has been around since the early 20th century. It’s a topical view of the creation days. It sees the first 3 days and the 2nd set of three days as basically describing the same time frame. Basically this view says that God simply used the ‘framework’ of the 7 day week to give to man a real historic explanation of creation, but God used the framework of the 7 day week in a symbolic way for mans benefit. This view will compare day 1 [the first day of the first 3 day set] with day 4 [the first day of the second 3 day set]. Day one has God creating light, day 4 has the sun and stars. This view says these are 2 descriptions of the same creation act. The light from day one comes from the luminaries in day 4. Day 2 coincides with day 5. Day 2 has the heavens appear when God divides the waters [heaven and sea] day 5 [the second day of the second set] has the things that fill the heavens and seas- birds and sea creatures. Day 3 has land and vegetation, day 6 has land animals and man- things that eat the vegetation and walk the earth. It’s interesting, though not exact. You could see the seas as being part of day 3, and as you read both creation accounts [Genesis 1 and 2] there is a mixture of when things showed up. Are there other explanations for why the account in chapter 2 differs from chapter one? [chapter one has man being made after the animals, chapter 2 shows Adam before the animals, God brings the animals to show Adam, he sees nothing fitting for him and God then makes Eve]. Some see a purposeful inconsistency, put in the text by God himself, to show man that this was not to be taken in a literal, consecutive way. Sort of like the critics of the gospels, they will find various inconsistencies in the gospel narratives, like one gospel having two angels at the tomb, the other showing one. The critics say ‘see, inconsistent’ but the other argument can say if you had exact testimony from various eyewitness accounts in a courtroom, this would not convince the jury that their testimony was true, to the contrary it would indicate that the witnesses were coached. So the various different details might be actual clues to the validity of the gospel writers! So in Genesis, some feel there are purposeful poetic structures and differing accounts for the purpose of telling the reader ‘don’t take this too literal’. I don’t personally hold to this, but do see the point. It should be noted that in Exodus 20 and 31 Moses will speak about the creation days as historical narrative. No matter which view a person takes [literal or symbolic] the fact that creation itself happened by the hand of God is an undeniable fact of history and science. All things could not have come from nothing, there had to be an initial cause some where down the line. This initial cause himself had to have had no beginning [logic and science show this] and it just so happens that these attributes belong to the God of the bible, even before we knew that creation needed an initiator that possessed them!
(1138) CREATION DAY 1- In Genesis 1:1-5 we have the first recording of Gods creative acts, over the years Christians have struggled with this text. One of the main reasons believers ‘struggle’ with it is because modern scientific understanding [majority view- not all!] indicates that the earth is quite a lot older than 6 thousand years. Some scholars believe that the church has been duped into believing in old earth science and because of there acceptance of science, above Gods word, they have come to compromise Gods word. A simple reading of the first 5 verses of Genesis tell us that ‘in the beginning’ God made the heaven and the earth. At this point, God is not constrained to a time/space continuum of ‘day’ [the Hebrew word Yom]. The day itself will be created in this time period called ‘in the beginning’. God will create light and separate the light from the darkness and call this ‘day’. I see the possibility of there being a very long period of time having passed at this point, at least according to this text [we will look at Exodus 20:11 in a moment]. I do not see a need to create a ‘gap theory’ between verse one and verse two, some theorize that you had an entire pre adamic world, that God judged this world and this is how they explain the long age of the earth. I believe that a simple reading of the first five verses could go like this ‘at the start of all things, God made the heaven and the earth [no day constraint yet] and he also made light and dark [now we are getting into Gods cycle for man] and he saw that all these things were good. He made the day itself at this time, and the day became mans measurement of time’. Now, this is my paraphrase on how this text could be read. I do find it interesting that out of all the scholars I am presently reading on this subject, none of them are making this simple point; that the 24 hour day constraint was itself created ‘in the beginning’. Now, exodus 20:11 does say that God made all things in ‘6 days’, this verse seems to indicate that there was a time constraint to the actual making of the heaven and earth ‘in the beginning’ so to be fair to both sides [young and old earth creationists] I had to throw this in. Jesus also refers to the creation of man as an historical event [as opposed to a theistic evolutionary view] he says ‘in the beginning God made them male and female, and for this cause a man leaves his parents and is joined to his wife’ the young earth brothers will use this to show that Jesus believed that God created man ‘in the beginning’ as opposed to there being billions of years passing before man showed up [which is also a progressive view of creation- a sort of joining together the timeline of long age science with the Genesis account]. The point I would make is if God created time at ‘this point in time’ then the phrase ‘in the beginning’ could refer to thousands, or millions of years all being ‘at the start’ [compared to forever!]. I do not hold to a ‘progressive view’ myself, I simply believe that a plain reading of the first 5 verses of Genesis shows that the time constraint of day [Yom] was itself created at this time. The Exodus verse does seem to say that all the events of Gods creative acts did fit into the time/space of 6 days, but this first Genesis reading seems to leave room for a longer period of ‘one day’ when speaking of the creation of heaven and earth. While the young earth creationists do seem to fault the old earth creationists for trying to make scripture fit into current scientific theories of the earths age, I would like to point out the fact that both sides [young and old earth groups] see the first 3 days as distinct from all the other days that have occurred since that time. All agree that the sun was not the original light source for the first three days [well, some believe God was not giving us an exact consecutive recording of creation. So these see the sun as being the source of light for all the creation days] the charge could be made that even the young earth creationists are admitting that some of the creation days are not ‘days’ in the classical sense of the word. These first days were not solar days! The whole point is we do find some room for the interpretation of the creation days as having some areas that we don’t fully understand, or at least we don’t know all that was going on in a scientific sense [was the light for the first three days God himself? Possible. But then that would leave the door open that God created himself! A much greater theological heresy than the long earth view!]. I also believe that the fact that ‘the day’ itself was said to have been created by God ‘in the beginning’ leaves much room for a longer time period of the earths age. Out of all the other ancient near east [A.N.E] stories of creation, none of them have ‘a god’ who himself transcends time and space and actually created time itself. For thousands of years the common belief was that either matter itself always existed, or that time always existed. So the competing stories of creation found in other cultures have a god that was himself formed from matter, or creation itself was a process of these dependant gods fighting each other. No other view has a god that transcends time and space and actually creates time and space. It wasn’t until the 20th century that science itself proved this to be a fact, Einstein’s theories on time and space gave us proof that all things did have a starting point [big bang cosmology]. So anyway, in the coming weeks I might hit on these things a little more, but for today I wanted to emphasize that a simple, literal reading of Genesis 1:1-5 does show us that God created ‘the day’ [the actual time measurement that man goes by] during his initial act of creation. God himself was not ‘bound’ or constrained to the time/space continuum, he actually made the time/space continuum at ‘the time’.
(716)GENESIS 37- Chapter 36 has a lot of genealogies, so let’s skip it. In this chapter we see Joseph having the dreams that his brothers and father and mother will bow down to him. He makes the mistake of telling everyone about it! Rueben is already mad about the favoritism shown towards Rachel’s sons as opposed to him being the firstborn. The other brothers clearly see the favoritism too. Jacob made Joseph the coat of many colors. To me this represents the multi ethnic diversity of Christ’s church [body]. Skins represent ‘covering’ or flesh. All the animals sacrificed in the Old Covenant were a type of Christ. The tabernacle represented a living mobile dwelling place of God, the church. They used skins as a covering. So this coat of many colors is like the body of Christ. Joseph typifying Jesus as the favored son who will eventually bring together all tribes and nations into unity as Jesus ‘wears them like a robe’ [truly we are his dwelling place, covering of flesh if you will!] Jacob sends Joseph to ‘see how his brothers are doing and bring back the report’. Just like the parable Jesus gave about the king sending the servant to check up on the vineyard. Eventually the king says ‘I will send my son’. Jesus says they take the son and kill him. Joseph’s brothers see Joseph coming and say ‘here comes Mr. big shot, the dreamer’. Understand Josephs dreams were simply the destiny of God on his life. It is important to differentiate between ‘what I want out of life’ and Gods purpose. Joseph’s dreams did speak of exaltation and fame. But these were things he did not seek! Jesus gives instruction in the New Testament to actively pursue the lowest place. The teachings on taking the seat in the back of the room and not the front. The teaching against gentile ideas [Roman] of authority. So we must not read into Joseph’s story that God wants us to ‘be all we can be. Become great’. Greatness in Gods kingdom is backwards. You seek not to be exalted and exaltation comes! Now the brothers take him and throw him into a pit [grave] ‘without water in it’. A type of death. Water and spirit are interchangeable words. A pit without water is like the grave [body] without the spirit. James says this is what death is, separation of body and spirit. Now something is happening at this point. The brothers are falling into the trap of group think. Just going along with something because others are doing it. Rueben begins seeing this deception. He also despises Joseph, but begins realizing things are getting out of hand. He says ‘lets not kill the boy, just throw him in the pit’. Judah also speaks up on his brother’s behalf. So they take Josephs coat, put blood all over it. They sell Joseph into slavery and they bring the coat to Jacob. ‘Dad, we found Josephs coat with blood on it. I wonder what happened to him?’ Now, how many options do we have? Maybe the boy got into a scrap trying to save some sheep and that’s what happened, or maybe he hurt himself and used the coat as a tourniquet? Yeah, that’s possible! But Jacob is a pessimist ‘surely some wild animals got to him’ bad enough! But wait ‘and they tore him to pieces, devoured him and he’s gone’ Yikes! Then he says ‘I will be depressed about this for the rest of my life and go to the grave never getting over it!’ Boy, who would have thought the guy was gonna take it like this? We once again see the over reaction of Jacob. It’s so easy for leaders with destiny and purpose to think all is lost. Moses and others have thought the same. Elijah was ready for the Lord to take his life because some Jezebel was giving him a hard time! I want to encourage leadership, don’t make rash or major decisions when your emotions are out of whack. We have a tendency to take reproof or correction the wrong way. We want to quit and start all over. Find someone else to ‘take over the church’ so we can get out of dodge. Jacob thought the worst, but what was actually happening was Gods pre ordained plan that would actually be for his salvation down the road. Jesus is still thought to be dead by Jacobs descendants, they only see the ‘pit without water in it’. They don’t realize that Jesus [Joseph] is actually alive and waiting for them to come and bow the knee!
(1010)CORINTHIANS 15:1-19 Paul will deal with the greatest threat yet to the Corinthian church, their doubt over the physical resurrection of the body. Various ‘Christian’ groups over the years have doubted the physical resurrection. Now, some have done this out of a sincere attempt at trying to defend the faith! [their view of it] In the 1900’s you had one of the most popular theologians by the name of Rudolf Bultman [most of his career was spent at the University of Marburg, Germany. Much of the higher criticism of the day originated from Germany] He wrote a book called ‘Kerygma and Myth’. What he tried to say was that any modern man living in the 20th century, with all the breakthroughs in science and knowledge, could not ‘literally’ believe the miraculous stories in scripture. Or even the way scripture spoke of heaven and hell and used limited terms to describe spiritual truths. He used the bibles terminology on Cosmology as an example. How could man believe in a Cosmos where ‘heaven is up there, with the stars and all’ and he felt that enlightened man needed to ‘re-tool’ the bible and cleanse it from all these mythical images, but yet keep the spiritual aspects of it. The moral teachings of Christ and stuff like that. So you have had sincere men doubt the truth claims of scripture. The problem with this attempt [higher criticism] is it throws out the baby with the bathwater. The resurrection of Jesus is presented by the apostles as a real event. The fact of this resurrection can also be attested to by examining the historical events of the day. Simply put, there is a ton of proof for the real resurrection of Christ. Bultman and others meant well, but some of the ‘facts’ that they were using were later proven to be false. Bultman used a model of cosmology that would later be rejected by science. Yet the testimony from scripture would remain sure. Paul told the Corinthian’s that they needed to reject any attempts at spiritualizing the resurrection of Christ. Sometimes believers grasp hold of limited proof’s for certain doctrines. For instance, the New Testament does speak of a spiritual resurrection. In Ephesians Paul says we are presently raised with Christ. In Romans chapter 6 we have all ready been raised with Jesus. This reality does not mean there will be no future resurrection of the saints. In Johns gospel Jesus speaks of the resurrection as being a future real event, as well as a present reality. Those in the graves will hear his voice and be raised from the dead. And those who were presently ‘dead in sins’ would ‘come alive’ [spiritually] when they heard and believed the testimony of Jesus. It is important for the believer to be familiar with the various theories and ideas that theologians and believers have grasped over the years. It is a mistake to simply see all higher learning as ‘liberalism’. There are some very important things that we have learned thru the great intellectuals of the church. But we also need to stick with the ancient traditions as seen in the creeds, as well as the plain testimony of scripture. If Christ ‘be not raised from the dead, then we are of all men most miserable’.
Now, as we go thru Acts, I want to stay as close as possible to both the doctrine and practices of the early church as seen in scripture. We are not the first [or last!] study that has attempted to do this. That is attempted to ‘get back to the original design’ as much as possible. Historically you have whole categories of believers who fit into this mindset. They are referred to as ‘Restorationist’ as opposed to Catholic, Protestant or Orthodox. The Church of Christ, The Disciples of Christ, the Anabaptists and others fall into this class. I believe you find true believers in all of these groups.
As you read the history of Christianity as told by the other perspectives, you will find it interesting as to the way the institutional church describes these ‘out of church’ groups. Some are called heretics [Waldensians] others are simply seen as fringe groups. The strong institutional church has branded those who would reject her authority as schismatics and heretics on the grounds of their refusal to submit to the hierarchy of the institutional church.
As we go thru Acts, I want us to read carefully and see the story as told by Luke. We will not find ‘another more true group’ in the sense that I want to start some new denomination. I also don’t want to simply find proof texts to justify doctrine. Many well meaning believers can find the verses they like the most and use them to combat the other points of view. We will see verses emphasizing the importance of water baptism, or various truths on the outworkings of the Spirit. We will see prophets functioning and read texts that clearly teach Gods sovereignty [as many as were ordained unto eternal life believed]. Instead of getting lost on these side trails, I want us to read with an open mind and allow our beliefs to be shaped by ‘the story’.
I will spend time defending my own view of Local church. Not because I believe ‘my view’ is the only thing worth arguing about, but because I believe we see the intent of God for his people to be a living community of believers in this book. Right off the bat we will see giving taught in a radical way. The early church at Jerusalem will ‘continue in the Apostles doctrine and breaking of bread and prayers’. They then sell their goods and distribute to all who had need. Where in the world did they get this idea from? The Apostles doctrine obviously taught the plain teachings from Jesus on sharing what you have with others. So instead of seeing an early tithe concept, you see an early ‘give to those in need idea’ straight from the teachings of Jesus. We will see this early Jerusalem group meet daily, as opposed to seeing ‘Sunday worship’ as some sort of New Testament Sabbath. Of course this group will meet at the Temple [actually an out door courtyard called Solomon’s Porch] and from ‘house to house’. But the simple realty of Christ’s Spirit being poured out on them as a community of people will be the basic understanding of what ‘church’ is.
You will find citizens of many surrounding areas going back to the their home towns after Pentecost. These believers shared the gospel with those in their regions and this is how the early church would spread. Some commentaries will show you how when Paul will eventually show up in Rome there already was an established church there. They obviously heard the gospel from these early Roman Jews who were at Jerusalem during Pentecost. So we will see ‘church planting’ from the paradigm of simple believers going to areas with the message of Christ. Those who would believe in these locations would be described as ‘the church at Corinth’ or ‘the church at Ephesus’ and so on. So we see ‘local church’ as communities of believers living in different localities.
We will see the development of leadership along the lines of ‘appoint elders in every city’. Not a top heavy idea of ‘Bishop’ in the later sense of Catholic belief, but a simple ordaining [recognizing!] of those in the various cities who were stable enough in the basic truths of the gospel, that in Paul’s absence these elders were to be trusted as spiritual guides. Now, many of our brothers can trace the historic office of Bishop as a fairly early development in church history. Polycarp and others were considered direct disciples of the Apostles who would be seen as Bishops and even write of the importance of Bishops for the church ‘Where there is no Bishop there is no church’.
This will cause many well meaning believers to eventually become Catholic/Orthodox as they read the church fathers and see the very early development of Catholic Christianity. In many of the church fathers writings you will also see an early belief in the Eucharist as being the actual Body and Blood of Jesus.
To the consternation of many Protestants you even find Luther condemning fellow Protestants for not taking literally the words of Jesus ‘this IS my Body’. Now, I will not defend transubstantiation, but try to follow the trend lines in Acts as to the lack of this doctrine being a part of the early church. We will find Paul’s letter to the Corinthians addressing the Lords Supper, but for the most part we do not see a strong belief in the transmitting of divine grace to the soul thru the eating of Christ’s literal Body and Blood as they ‘broke bread’. We do see the sharing of the common meal and the ‘Eucharist’ as one meal called the ‘love feast’. Only later on in church history is there a division made between the full fellowship meal and the Eucharist.
So to be frank about it, I will challenge both our Catholic and Orthodox brothers on some very fundamental beliefs. Well I hope this brief introduction sets the proper tone for the rest of this study, God bless you guys and I hope you get something out of it. John.
Locke taught that each man has individual rights- and he empowers government- an elected designated body- to have rule-
Yet- that government exists solely for the benefit of the people- and when/if that government ‘forgets’ this- the people have a right/duty to revolt.
Locke’s ideas were formed at a time when his own government experienced a sort of revolution [1600’s- England].
The people revolted against monarchy- and replaced it with a sort of Democratic Parliament-
Referred to as the bloodless revolution or the glorious revolution.
The king [or today- queen] would still play a role- like a figurehead- but the power was in the people- willingly given over to a Parliament.
The political ideas of Locke influenced our founding fathers- and our Declaration of Independence and Constitution are in parts almost word for word taken from the writings of Locke.
Locke believed in natural law- that morality was indeed a universal reality [some scholars/thinkers will say that Locke does not fully embrace the Christian concept of natural/moral law].
He taught that knowledge comes from man’s experience- the things he interacts with thru the 5 senses.
That man is not born with innate ideas [like the early Greek thinkers said] but his mind is a Tabula Rasa- or blank slate at birth.
This is an Empirical understanding of knowledge.
Locke also believed in the concept of the separation of church and state- this idea was not unique to our founding fathers- no- they got it right out of the writings of Locke [his parents were Puritans- and they obviously influenced their son].
Locke’s political views were-
Contractual [social compact]-
These ideas differed from the early Greek thinkers [especially Aristotle] who held to a naturalistic view- meaning that nature itself ‘intended’ for certain individuals to have rule over others [the smarter should have rule over the ‘less smart’- and of course Aristotle saw himself in the more nobler crowd!]
Locke also believed in religious toleration- a view held by most in the Western world today.
He saw the Right to private property- as a natural right.
He believed that denial of the existence of God would lead to anarchy in the long run.
He believed that the cosmological argument for the existence of God was valid [called teleology].
I think I mentioned him on today’s video [I am writing this before I review the video and add the bullet points].
In the study of philosophy- he is not known for deep thought- or new ideas.
He lived in the 5th century B.C. – died in the 4th in the biblical city of Corinth.
Diogenes believed in ‘living with less’- he was known to have slept in a ceramic pot- he lived and ate on the streets- and was basically like many of my homeless friends.
Yet- he felt in doing this he was a sort of ‘prophetic’ sign to the world around him.
He is believed to be the first to refer to himself as a ‘cosmopolitan’- meaning a man of the world- and not identifying with any one city.
He was born at Sinope- [Modern day Turkey] traveled to Athens- the main center of wisdom/philosophy.
Attended the lectures of Plato- and interrupted them
He disputed Plato’s interpretation of his teacher- Socrates.
And had a memorable encounter with Alexander the Great.
The story goes [there are a few versions of it- maybe more along the line of myth] that Alexander wanted to meet with Diogenes- and he heard he was in town [Corinth] so Alexander went to meet him.
Upon arriving at the spot- he greeted Alexander and told him he would fulfill any request that the Cynic asked.
Diogenes replied ‘Move over- you’re standing in my sun light’.
It is said that as Alexander left- and made the statement ‘If I were not Alexander- I would be Diogenes’.
How true- well we will never know for sure.
He did live at a time- and in a place- where the famous philosophers would come from.
He believed rejecting wealth- and the comforts of life- were a statement against the society of his day.
He purposefully challenged the ‘normal’ way of life- by being different- and at times- vulgar.
It is said that he carried a cup- for drinking.
And he saw a young boy one day- drinking from the brook with his hands.
He then threw away the cup- realizing that ‘the god’s’ had given to men the basic things to survive- and he really did not need all the material things of life.
Like I said at the top – he is not known for his great thinking ability- but he was respected by the stoics-
Note- Do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on. Thanks- John..#
The Iliad and Odyssey [Homer]
I want to cover some of the classics of Western Literature- when I do the philosophy and science stuff- the purpose is to show how God- and ‘religion’ are an inescapable thread that we see all thru out history- and in fact- the rise of what we call ‘intellectualism’ did indeed come from the Judaic/Christian tradition [for instance- the modern day university system did come from the Church].
Ok- lets start with what most believe to be the greatest work from antiquity- outside of the bible.
These are 2 poems by Homer- the Iliad and Odyssey.
These poems were written in the 8th century BCE- and cover the Trojan war- which most believe was a real war- that took place in the 12th-13th century BCE.
In Homers works we read about this epic battle.
The war starts with- once again- a ‘woman’ issue.
Prince Paris of Troy steals Helen of Greece- from her husband King Menelaus [king of Sparta].
The Greeks- led by Achilles- lay siege to Troy.
In Homers telling of the event- the Greeks are actually defending the honor of marriage- and are carrying out a just retribution against an unjust act.
Sort of the same themes we read in scripture- when the sons of Jacob defended the honor of their sister Dinah- when she was treated unjustly by the pagan nation that took her- forcefully- to be the wife of a kings son.
The brothers meted out justice- by tricking these pagans to get circumcised- then- while recovering ‘from surgery’- the sons went in and wiped out the city- to their fathers dismay!
In the story- Achilles is a warrior- who displays extreme violence- and also the human traits of a man who acts out of selfish motives.
At one point in the war- he removes himself from battle- because he feels his honor was betrayed.
The only thing that brings him back is the killing of his close friend Patroclus- by Hector.
Achilles leads the Greeks to victory- and reflects the struggle between living a long life- or dying young- yet dying for a just cause.
One of the more famous quotes form Homer’s Poems- attributed to Achilles- is ‘I carry 2 sorts of destiny to the day of my death. Either, if I stay here and fight beside the city of the Trojans, my return home is gone, but my glory shall be everlasting; but if I return home to the beloved land of my fathers, the excellence of my glory is gone, but there will be a long life- left for me, and my end in death will not come to me quickly.’
There has been some debate over the historicity of the war itself.
Some scholars believe it was Myth [I’ll get to this in a moment].
That is- they believe the war itself was not true- but a sort of Oral Tradition- that encompasses the reality of the human condition- and that Homers Poems are simply mythological ways to reveal the true condition of man.
Yet- much like the debate that took place in the 19th century German universities- over the ‘Myth’ of the bible- later on- the rise of what we now call Archaeology [because of the Industrial revolution- a new field arose- men started digging up the ground- for the primary purpose of extracting materials from the earth- and at this time we also discovered ‘lost worlds’- that is we could actually trace cities and lands that were once deemed fake].
So- as with Homers Troy- and bible lands- these archaeologists did indeed find Cities that matched the stories.
In 1870 the German Archaeologist Schliemann discovered remains that seemed to find the city of Troy- the area is known today as modern day Turkey.
This same thing happened with the bible- we did indeed find historical evidence that seemed to back up the historicity of the stories we find in the bible.
As a matter of fact- a famous doubter of the bible embarked on a search- to prove the bible was ‘myth’ yet- after researching carefully the historical names and places we read about in the book of Acts- he came to believe that the book of Acts- written by both an historian and doctor [Luke] was the most historically accurate writing that came from the first century [Acts has lots of names of political figures- court proceedings- stuff like that- and when doing research like this- it is quite easy to debunk the historical reality of a fake work- but- when these names and places were researched- from actual historical records dating back to the first century- it was amazing how the pieces fit].
The Trojan War is found in many works of Greek literature- and art.
But the most comprehensive account comes from Homer’s 2 poems.
Now- in Homer’s poems there are obvious references to Mythology- Goddesses- Golden apples- the Greek gods intervening in the affairs of men.
So yeah- we see that there are obvious mythological aspects to the work.
Yet- the ancient Geeks did indeed believe the war itself was a real war that took place at around the 12th century BCE.
Some believe that Homer never actually wrote the poems- but that he told the stories- like Oral Tradition- and they were later written down by others.
Sort of like the classic- Paradise Lost- by John Milton. Milton was blind- and told the story to his daughters [oral tradition] and the actual work was penned by those who heard it.
Jesus himself used this method- he never wrote a book- or letter in the New Testament- yet the gospels were compiled by his men after his death.
We read about this when Luke [who I mentioned above] gives the reason for his documenting stuff in the book of Acts [read Acts chapter one].
Luke also wrote his gospel a few years after the death and resurrection of Christ.
So- some believe the same thing happened with Homer- those who heard him tell the story multiple times- simply put it together later on.
Most scholars believe that Homer did indeed write the poems- and that the famous Trojan War was a real historical event.
Last year- when in North Bergen- my atheist friend Daniel said he watched a PBS show- and he said ‘even a priest said the bible was Myth’.
I explained to Daniel that when the more liberal scholars use this term [like in the writings of Bultman] that they do not mean ‘fake’- like Greek Mythology.
But they mean that some of the stories in the gospels might be a compilation of the many Oral teachings of Jesus- and they were put together as one story [some think the Sermon on the Mount was actually multiple teachings Jesus did- and they were compiled into one event].
Now- when I explained this to Daniel- he said ‘see- even you believe it was Myth’.
I told Daniel that no- I do not hold to this theory [not 100%] but that I was simply telling him that even those who use the term Myth- when talking about Theology- they do not mean Myth- as in fake.
So- I find it interesting that both the New testament- and Homers poems- got the same scrutiny.
In these poems we do indeed see the condition of man- which Homer depicts as one of constant war- not peace.
The letter of James in the New Testament says- James 4:1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
James 4:3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
Homers poems are considered by some to be the beginning of the great works of Western literature- of which there are many.
The great writer C.S. Lewis- who rejected Christianity for many years- later became a believer.
He attributed his conversion to the fact that he could not escape the reality of the Church- or Christian themes- found in all the fields of study.
Whether it was the classics- or history- philosophy.
He said every were he read- studied- he could not escape this scarlet thread that ran thru out all the fields of knowledge.
Yeah- in the end- his thirst for knowledge- his intellectual search- led him to the Cross.
Jesus- in a way- was a 1st century Achilles- he battled the forces of darkness- for the honor of a woman- the Bride- the church.
He- Like Achilles- chose a just death- for a just cause.
There’s a prophecy in the Old Testament- it speaks of Christ ‘the zeal of thine house has eaten me up’.
Jesus was a righteous warrior- a prophet, priest and king- and he had a zeal for the church- that far exceeded anything we find in Homers poems.
VERSES- [These are the verses I either taught- or quoted on today’s post- Sunday sermon]
Philipians 2:1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
Philipians 2:2 Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
Philipians 2:3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
Philipians 2:4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
Philipians 2:5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Philipians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
Philipians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
Philipians 2:8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
Philipians 2:9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
Philipians 2:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
Philipians 2:11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Matthew 13King James Version (KJV)
13 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side.
2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.
3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow;
4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up:
5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth:
6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.
7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them:
8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
For many are called, but few are chosen.
In Context | Full Chapter | Other Translations
September 24, 2017
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Twenty-fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading 1IS 55:6-9
Seek the LORD while he may be found,
call him while he is near.
Let the scoundrel forsake his way,
and the wicked his thoughts;
let him turn to the LORD for mercy;
to our God, who is generous in forgiving.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
so high are my ways above your ways
and my thoughts above your thoughts.
Responsorial PsalmPS 145:2-3, 8-9, 17-18
R. (18a) The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Every day will I bless you,
and I will praise your name forever and ever.
Great is the LORD and highly to be praised;
his greatness is unsearchable.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
The LORD is just in all his ways
and holy in all his works.
The LORD is near to all who call upon him,
to all who call upon him in truth.
R. The Lord is near to all who call upon him.
Reading 2PHIL 1:20C-24, 27A
Brothers and sisters:
Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.
If I go on living in the flesh,
that means fruitful labor for me.
And I do not know which I shall choose.
I am caught between the two.
I long to depart this life and be with Christ,
for that is far better.
Yet that I remain in the flesh
is more necessary for your benefit.
Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ.
AlleluiaCF. ACTS 16:14B
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Open our hearts, O Lord,
to listen to the words of your Son.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner
who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.
After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage,
he sent them into his vineyard.
Going out about nine o’clock,
the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard,
and I will give you what is just.’
So they went off.
And he went out again around noon,
and around three o’clock, and did likewise.
Going out about five o’clock,
the landowner found others standing around, and said to them,
‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’
They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’
He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’
When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman,
‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay,
beginning with the last and ending with the first.’
When those who had started about five o’clock came,
each received the usual daily wage.
So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more,
but each of them also got the usual wage.
And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying,
‘These last ones worked only one hour,
and you have made them equal to us,
who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’
He said to one of them in reply,
‘My friend, I am not cheating you.
Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?
Take what is yours and go.
What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?
Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?
Are you envious because I am generous?’
Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
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Note- Please do me a favor, those who read/like the posts- re-post them on other sites as well as the site you read them on- Thanks- John.#