Big Picture Gospel – Part 2

What does it mean to be a human being? Why are we here or what is our purpose? What is truth and where do I find it? Why do we suffer? Where is everything heading? In sharing the gospel, these are the questions that also need to be answered. We need a “big picture gospel”, one that not only provides the answers to life’s larger ontological questions but shows their connection to God’s redemptive plan[1].

1. God created men and women in His image as eternal[2], free-will spirits[3] with a moral conscience[4] and a two-fold purpose: 1) to have relationship with Him and others (and) 2) to promote and protect moral physics (truth, beauty and justice[5]) in relation to Him and the rest of Creation.

It is this two-fold purpose that establishes the two greatest commandments in the Bible (love the Lord your God and love your neighbor) (Mat 22:37-40).

It should therefore come as no surprise that moral physics – most specifically the practice of justice (or equity), is what makes us peacemakers (Mat 5:9 “peacemakers” = Equity promoters and protectors – Mat 7:12 “for this is the Law and the Prophets” [Mat 22:40 “on these two commandments depend the whole Law and Prophets”]; IOW: Equity [or justice] is the foundation of moral physics, the Bible and our creation mandate. Hence Psa 89:14 “justice is the foundation of your throne”).

2. God created everything that exists according to His moral physics (truth, beauty and justice) which is defined by the Bible (God’s written words).

Anything therefore not agreement w/the Bible is not truth, beauty or justice.

3. Our rebellion (sin) against our two-fold purpose is the biggest reason we suffer and die.

It is b/c we fail to have relationship w/God or others and/or violate truth, beauty and justice in our image-bearer relationships w/God and the rest of Creation.

4. This Creation was never meant to be the final version but rather the test to determine who is worthy to enter the New Creation where there will be no suffering, sin, death or disappointment but rather perfect and perennial truth, beauty and justice.

This then is the other reason we suffer; this life is a test.

5. If we are to make it to the New Creation (i.e., be saved), we must exist with God in a marriage covenant – which could also be called a “new creation covenant” since this is not only its goal (to enter the New Creation), but the same goal given in the first human marriage (new creation).

6. Like our human marriages, the covenant relationship we exist in with God operates according to the principles of gain and maintain: we gain the relationship w/God by grace through vows of faith (expressed in baptism) and we must maintain it through faithful submission to the rest of His covenant laws (His moral physics: truth, beauty and justice) as our Head or Husband.

1) (Exo 24:7-8 w/Lev 18:5 [Eze 20:11]; 1Pe 1:1-2 w/3:21 w/Gal 3:26-27 [“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ”; IOW: faith = baptism]; Mat 28:19-20).

2) (Mat 19:16-19 [v21, “if you wish to be complete”]; Luk 10:25-28; Rom 3:28 w/Jam 2:21-24 [v22, “faith was completed”]; Phi 2:12-13; Phi 3:16 [“let us keep on living by that standard to which we have attained” = Let us maintain what we gained] followed by a warning vv17-19; Deu 29:18-20 w/Heb 10:26-30; Jer 3:3-8; Isa 50:1).

3) Faithful not perfect (Deu 28:1); We can be faithful (Deu 30:11-14).

4) God is our head/husband (Isa 54:5).

5) We must obey the latest version of God’s Law and its application – i.e., the one associated w//His current salvific covenant. In our case, the New Covenant. In every case, this Law is comprised of two-parts: clean laws (the signs associated w/that covenant’s justification/right standing w/God: 1] Adamic and Noahic = Animal sacrifice, 2] Abrahamic = Animal sacrifice and circumcision, 3] Old = Animal sacrifice, circumcision, separation and sabbaths [in the NT these are referred to as “the works of the law”], 4] New = baptism and the LT) and moral commands (the rest of God’s commands according to the current covenant’s prescribed application – e.g., 1Co 5:1-5 versus Lev 20:11).

7. Jesus, the fully God – Son of God is not only the specific Person of the Godhead[6] with whom we must gain and maintain a marriage covenant if we want to be a part of the new Creation (i.e., He is the divine Husband), but also the One lovingly sent to earth by the Father so that through His death and resurrection, sin could be sufficiently cleansed from His covenant people and the way of salvation finally opened to all those nations who formerly rejected Him.

1) (Joh 1:1 “Word” [Grk., logos] = Jewish philosopher Philo id’d Melchizedek as “the logos of God” before the time of Jesus w/Joh 8:56 [Gen 14:17-20 w/Heb 7:1-28 and Heb 11:10 “city whose builder was God” = Jewish tradition says that Mel was the builder of Jerusalem – i.e., Jesus built Jerusalem; Jud 1:5; Heb 9:15-16 w/Exo 24:1-8; Eph 5:22-23).

2) (Joh 3:16; Eph 2:4-5; Rom 3:25 w/Heb 10:1-18; Rom 4:25; 1Co 15:1-4).

3) (Mat 1:21; Luk 2:32 [Act 13:47]; Act 17:26-31; Luk 10:1w/17 = Seventy sent out to take control back from the demons as a sign of Jesus’ coming deliverance of the seventy gentile nations given over to Satan and the demons [Gen 10:1-11:9 w/Psa 106:35-37 w/1Jo 5:19]. Hence v18; Eph 2:12).

8. Because God is reasonable and just (or equitable), He will give to people as their eternal home what they freely chose based on their deeds in this life which means hell – or a place of nothing but fire – for those who rejected their two-fold purpose since this is all that is left after God takes His truth, beauty and justice with Him into the New Creation.

1) (Deu 7:9-10; 1Sa 26:23; Mat 16:27; Rom 2:6-10; 1Pe 1:17; Hence Rev 20:11-15).

2) (2Pe 3:10-13) = The removal of the righteous and all that is righteous from this Creation will start a blaze that will never be put out or escaped by those left behind.[7]

 

CLOSING CHALLENGE = Do your best to give people the big picture (gospel).

 

[1] Without the big picture, we run the risk of people hearing our gospel as the answer to the larger ontological questions. This risk is exacerbated by the fact that our world is becoming increasingly post-Christian. IOW: more and more people are operating without a biblical worldview. As such what the typical 3 point gospel of: 1) God is holy, 2) you are not (your are sinful and suck), 3) God sent Jesus to save you from His holy wrath (b/c you sin and suck) is interpreted as God created humans unlike Him (as image-offenders not image-bearers) whose purpose for existence is escaping His wrath through self-deprecation at the feet of His Son.

[2] Eternal = Cannot cease to exist.

[3] Free-will spirits = Spiritual beings characterized by unrestrained choice.

[4] Moral conscience = Ethical right and wrong are lens and limits (locus) of one’s operation in the world (we do b/c we deem it right).

[5] Truth = Agreement w/reality; Beauty = Agreement w/symmetry; Justice = Agreement w/equity.

[6] The one true and only God of heaven and earth eternally exists as three distinct persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Hence the reason all three are named in our baptism of allegiance (Mat 28:19 w/1Pe 3:21).

[7] Hell or the lake of fire is also described as a place of utter darkness (Rev 21:8 and Mat 25:41 w/Mat 8:12, 22:13, 25:30 and 2Pe 2:12, 17 and Jud 13). Is it possible this is all that remains when the elements of Creation are removed? A field of dark energy or burning plasma similar to that found in space? Is it possible that the expansion of the universe caused by this dark energy (which scientists believe came after initial creation of the universe) is a result of sin and the countless demons and dead spirits which are expanding its realm (Eph 6:12 “forces of this darkness”)? “An exotic possibility is that [dark energy] springs from the physics of extra dimensions.”(Ron Cowen, “A Dark Force in the Universe,” Science News).

Big Picture Gospel – Part 1

What does it mean to be a human being? Why are we here or what is our purpose? What is truth and where do I find it? Why do we suffer? Where is everything heading? In sharing the gospel, these are the questions that also need to be answered. We need a “big picture gospel”, one that not only provides the answers to life’s larger ontological questions but shows their connection to God’s redemptive plan[1].

1. God created men and women in His image as eternal[2], free-will spirits[3] with a moral conscience[4] and a two-fold purpose:

1) to have relationship with Him and others.

1) (Gen 1:27 “image”) = Not only does this word infer humans are eternal, free-will spirits w/a moral conscience like God but also relationship w/God and other image-bearers given this is the primary reason things are created to be like one another: to make them compatible in relationship.

2) (Gen 1:28 “be fruitful and multiply” = Create others w/Gen 2:18-20 “there was not a suitable helper found for him”) = Because of the massive dissimilarity between humans and animals, animals cannot be used to create other humans and remove loneliness (deficiency of deep relationships w/others like you -i.e., humans).

2) to promote and protect moral physics (truth, beauty and justice[5]) in relation to Him and the rest of Creation. 1) (Gen 1:31 w/2:15-17 “cultivate”) = Promote or develop and expand…the borders of Eden according to its moral design (“Eden” = Paradise – a place filled w/truth, beauty and justice); “keep” = Protect and care for… Eden according to its moral design.

2) God’s moral physics (t/b/j) were to be promoted and protected in relation to both Him and His Creation – which included the woman or other image-bearers since the garden of Eden was her (or humanity’s) original residence as well.

3) It is this two-fold purpose that establishes not only the two greatest commandments (love the Lord your God and love your neighbor) but the entirety of God’s Law and Word (Mat 22:37-40).

2. God created everything that exists according to His moral physics (truth, beauty and justice) which is always in agreement with His law, as established by His written words in the Bible.

1) (Gen 1:31 [Heb., tobe]) = Full of truth, beauty and justice (excellence).

2) (Gen 2:7 w/19) “formed” [Heb., yasar] = To form as art (beauty); “breathed” = Filled w/His moral essence (t/b/j). This same idea is communicated when speaking about the Bible (2Ti 3:16).

3) Consider also (Psa 119:142, 15, 160 w/Joh 17:17 “your Word is truth”; Psa 119:96 “I have seen a limit to perfection [beauty]; Your commandment is exceedingly broad” [the most beautiful] w/ also Ecc 3:11 “everything [in God’s Word] is appropriate [beautiful] in its time [perfect for understanding God’s purpose and plan]”; Psa 19:7-9 = God’s Word establishes justice).

3. Our rebellion (sin) against our two-fold purpose is the biggest reason we suffer and die.

1) IOW: it is b/c we fail to have relationship w/God or others and/or violate truth, beauty and justice in our image-bearer relationships and/or w/the rest of Creation.

2) (Gen 2:17 w/3:16-19; Rom 6:23; 1 Jo 3:4)

3) Consider also (Rom 8:19-21) = The rest of Creation suffers b/c of the sin of humanity in failing to promote and protect her according to t/b/j. As a result, we suffer also. Hence the reason the Creation waits w/eagerness for the revealing (or arrival) of those who will be her good moral stewards (i.e., “the sons [children] of God”).

4. This Creation was never meant to be the final version but rather the test to determine who is worthy to enter the New Creation[6] where there will be no suffering, sin, death or disappointment but rather perfect and perennial truth, beauty and justice.

(Mat 10:37-38 [Contra Mat 22:8]; Luk 20:35; Rev 3:4-5; Jam 1:12 [Hence Jam 1:1-3]; Rev 21:1-8)

5. If we are to make it to the New Creation (i.e., be saved), we must exist with God in a marriage covenant – which could also be called a “new creation covenant” since this is not only its goal (to enter the New Creation), but the same goal given in the first human marriage (new creation – Gen 1:28 w/Gen 2:18).

1) What you discover when you read the Bible is that God uses covenants to save people. And those covenants are marriage covenants (e.g., Jer 31:31-32). Hence the reason the Bible begins with a marriage and ends with a marriage (Gen 2 and Rev 19) and a great portion of the language of Scripture is marital in nature (e.g., Rev 21:2). 2) In addition, the first marriage (Gen 2:23), possesses the same Hebrew structure as the Bundesformel [“I will be their God and they will be My people”], the vow of allegiance God makes when He enters into covenant w/people for the purpose of salvation (Lev 26:12; Jer 31:33; 2Co 6:16).

3) We likewise take vows of allegiance in our marriage to God (Exo 24:7-8 and 1Pe 1:1-2 and 1Pe 3:21 “appeal to God for a good conscience” = Pledge/vow of our allegiance to God).

4) As an additional connection between marriage and new creation, consider what we become when we get saved/enter into marriage w/God (a new creation – 2Co 5:17).

To be continued…

 

[1] Without the big picture, we run the risk of people hearing our gospel as the answer to the larger ontological questions. This risk is exacerbated by the fact that our world is becoming increasingly post-Christian. IOW: more and more people are operating without a biblical worldview. As such what the typical 3 point gospel of: 1) God is holy, 2) you are not (you are sinful and suck), 3) God sent Jesus to save you from His holy wrath (b/c you sin and suck) is interpreted as God created humans unlike Him (as image-offenders not image-bearers) whose purpose for existence is escaping His wrath through self-deprecation at the feet of His Son.

[2] Eternal = Cannot cease to exist.

[3] Free-will spirits = Spiritual beings characterized by unrestrained choice.

[4] Moral conscience = Ethical right and wrong are the lens and limits (locus) of one’s operation in the world (we do b/c we deem it right).

[5] Truth = Agreement w/reality; Beauty = Agreement w/symmetry; Justice = Agreement w/equity.

[6] This then is the other reason we suffer: this life is the test.

Divine Council – Part 3

Stranger things = Those fringe[1] subjects of the Bible which exist at the intersection of the supernatural and natural, the immaterial and material worlds.

Why we are discussing these kinds of subjects = So that we are viewing of our world in the same way Jesus and those living in the ancient near east (the bible’s authors) viewed their world since this is not only the real world but also vital to proper biblical interpretation (or the avoidance of projecting on the text/reading into the text our modern ideas and assumptions [eisegesis] – e.g., Gen 2:18-20).

“It would be dishonest of us to claim that the biblical writers read and understood the text the way we do as modern people, or intended meanings that conform to theological systems created centuries after the text was written. Our context is not their context. The proper context for interpreting the Bible is …not the modern world at all, or any period of its history. The proper context is the context of the biblical writers-the context that produced the Bible…The biblical context was produced by men who lived in the ancient near east (ANE). Seeing the Bible through the eyes of an ancient reader [therefore] requires shedding the filters of our [modern] traditions and presumptions. They processed life in supernatural terms.” – Michael S. Heiser (The Unseen Realm)

Divine council (def.,): a heavenly assembly of beings who have been deputized by God to function as His vice-regents on earth governing and judging the nations on His behalf.

1. Biblical evidence of their existence

(Psa 82:1-8)

(1) “God (Heb., elohim [singular – see underlined] = Divine being/God) takes His stand taking His stand(participle -singular) in His own the divine (Heb., be el = the divine [See ESV], e.g., el shaddai = God of the mountain, Gen 35:11) congregation (or council); He judges in the midst of the rulers (or gods) (Heb., elohim [plural – see verse 2], “you” [plural] = Divine beings/Gods/gods). See also verse 6, “I said, ‘you are gods’” (again, elohim).

2. Who are the plural elohim that make up this divine council? After considering the possible options, there is only one that meets all the biblical tests: the anointed priests and levites (judges) of the covenant community.[2]

3. What are the practical implications and application associated with the God’s divine council being the priests and levites in Christ’s churches (the New Covenant community)?

3.1. Deacons/officers are a part of the DC by proxy (i.e., they are deputized not anointed, e.g., Korah the levite – Num 16:3 “we are all holy” [anointed]) (Deu 21:5 [priests are judges] w/2Sa 15:1-4 and 2Ch 26:21 [kings are judges] = Deu 17:8-9) = The king and priests are the anointed judges in the CC (high court judges or divines[3]). Levites and the heads of households help the king and priests in judging. They are the low court judges (2Ch 19:8). They have been deputized to represent the high court judges – i.e., the divine council or council possessing divines or those w/divine authority/anointing (Deu 16:18 “judge the people…tribes…in all your towns”; “judging ones [participle; the wise heads of household in each tribe[4]] and officers” [Levites] versus 17:8-9 “if any… cases of dispute” are “too difficult…then you shall arise and go to…the Levitical priests and judge” [priests and king/the anointed/divines]; NC = Pastors and deacons, Isa 66:21 [priests and deacons selected as heads of their households] w/1Ch 17:6 “the judges of Israel whom I commanded to shepherd My people”).

3.2. Jesus confirms that the NC possesses a DC just like the OC which means there is supernatural authority, power, protection and guidance in our church that Jesus Himself backs up or supports – which is what makes it a divine council issuing divine judgments:

1) (Mat 18:15-16) = [Deu 16:18, 17:6],

2) (Mat 18:17a) = [Deu 17:8],

3) (Mat 18:17b-20) = [Deu 17:9-12].

3.3. The way God perfectly cares for and leads His people to heaven is through the fallible and fallen leadership of His DC which means:

1) though fallible and fallen, God’s DC can judge/rule with justice (or equity) and righteousness (e.g., 2Sa 8:15).

2) unless it can be disproven to the congregation, our default position as a congregation should be to view the decisions and judgments made by our DC as coming directly from God (Pro 16:10; 2Co 1:21 w/4:6-7; Consider also 1Ti 3:1-16 = The P+D are what make the church the pillar and buttress [fortress] of truth; Mat 10:40 and 18:19-20; Act 15:22).

 

3.4. Anyone who thinks the church possesses no DC (i.e., no human judges w/divine authority):

1) is ignorant of the Scriptures and God’s power (in the church) (Mat 22:29).

2) has not considered the implications of such thinking w/respect to not only the preservation of justice and righteousness in the church but protection from demons and demonic influence (e.g., how many of us wb okay w/getting rid of the American judicial system which appoints secular men as judges w/final authority in relation to laws and issues of justice? If we deem them necessary to procuring the aforementioned things in this country, why would the same not be necessary for the church? [1Co 6:3-4]. Do we not view the secular judges as possessing authority from God? [Rom 13:1] Then why not those leaders in the church?).

3) are more than likely rebels who despise such authority or judges since they are a threat to their wicked way of life (Pro 21:15).

3.5. The church’s DC will be under stricter judgment by God and so should be careful in their decisions and judgments to make sure they are always promoting justice and preserving equity (Deu 16:20; Jam 3:1; the result of such carefulness wb the ignorant/disobedient viewing many of their decisions/policies as petty or unrighteous – e.g., late = absent; Pro 28:5).

3.6. Understanding that the DC in the church is actually referred to as elohim, brings further clarity and certainty to why insubordination or insurrection amounts to apostasy from God (Deu 17:9-12 [Num 15:30-31; Deu 29:18-20] w/Mat 18:17b-20 [Mat 12:32]; Mat 10:14-15; Rom 13:2 w/5; the crayon-eaters dilemma = When you refuse or reject the counsel of the DC, you have pushed your case to God on J-Day – which allows for no recourse/redemption after judgment).

3.7. It makes sense that the DC of the church will be involved in the final judgment of those who were a part of their congregation given they will also be involved in the judgment of those angels who caused their office and congregation pain and distress (1Co 6:3 = Those angels who caused trouble to the CC over which that DC was responsible. The righteous angels will face no judgment; Heb 13:17; Hence why then even the archangel Michael chose never to speak against the DC – Jud 8-9; Consider the context of Jude: humans treading where no angel would dare to tread; 1Th 5:12-13 “live in peace w/one another” = CC w/their DC; Num 12:1 w/9-10).

3.8. The existence of a DC in the church means that though Jesus has left us for heaven, He has not left us as orphans (i.e., persons w/o a father – or one who through their vision and discernment, discipline and discipleship, provides them with the tools to prospering in this world and passing the eternal test).

In the ANE, it was assumed that those w/o fathers were also those w/o the proper leadership in their lives to become wise or make wise decisions. Orphans – or those left as orphans, were as a result, often the idiots and criminals of society.

How (then) Jesus (though again in heaven), keeps His church from becoming aimless idiots and crooks who ultimately damn their souls b/c of such folly or lack of wisdom = Through the special anointing of “another Helper…the spirit of truth…the Holy Spirit” on certain members of His DC (Joh 14:16-18a w/25-26).

Why we cb confident that John 14 is a reference to the HS’ special anointing of the priests (in Jesus’ DC) and not the HS given to all at baptism:

1) bc the three things Jesus says about it are in perfect agreement w/what Jesus says at the initial special anointing: 1] He will personally deliver it after His death (18-20), 2] it will be associated w/Jesus’ special peace (26-27), 3] it will strengthen their belief (28-29). All three of these things are only found in (Joh 20:19-22).

2) the purpose of the John 14 HS is not the purpose of the Spirit given at baptism/@Pentecost. It can make someone a prophet (the gift of revelation – Act 2:15-18) but not a judge/part of the DC (the gift of remembrance in re: to truth – Joh 14:26; Consider also 1Co 15:29 “others judge” = The judges/DC [v28 w/Act 15:19 “my judgment” = James the anointed priest]. IOW: prophets are not judges. What about the prophet Samuel who “judged Israel”? [1Sa 7:15] Sam was also a priest – 1Sa 2:18 w/22:18 and 7:9 in contrast to 13:12]).

[1] Subjects not part of the mainstream; topics or understanding that are unconventional and/or uncomfortable to modern culture and thinking.

[2] In the ANE, the spiritual realm and humanity were inextricably linked. To believe in the spiritual realm meant also believing that its supernatural power had also been given to certain humans who functioned as authorities within specific spiritual communities. Those communities were identified as religions (or the old term, cults) and the dispensers of this power, their priests (e.g., Psa 132:16). To assume then that no such power or authority existed – or still exists today, would have been for those in the Bible, the same as believing the spiritual realm itself was fantasy. The question should therefore never be, are their human beings functioning as God’s divine council today? But rather, who are they?

[3] Old term for priests and theologians (e.g., Westminster Divines)

[4] In ancient times, being the head of a household or tribe did not require you be the oldest in the family (e.g., David; hence Psa 119:100). It meant that those in the community (or household) viewed you as among the wisest and most righteous of their clan (Exo 18:21).

What the Bible Teaches About Resurrection

Resurrection (def.,): The supernatural phenomenon whereby the present state of those who have died is replaced by once more being alive in a physical/material body yet unable to die again.

1. Easter is also known as “Resurrection Sunday” since it marks the day Jesus Christ became the first person to experience resurrection. Jesus’ resurrection is also the reason God’s people corporately worship God on Sunday rather than Saturday (Rom 6:9; 1 Co 15:20; Act 20:7 = Every Sunday is Resurrection Sunday).

2. Jesus’ resurrection (to Paradise): 1) proved that He is the Divine Son of God (Rom 1:4 w/Joh 10:18), 2) means His sacrificial death was sufficient to propitiate – or satisfy God’s requirements for cleansing the sins of His people and make them truly righteous before God the Father. As such, the temporary injunction of animal sacrifices (“pass-over atonement”) was forever canceled (Rom 3:23-25, 4:25 w/Heb 10:10-17; also Mat 1:21).

3. No one since Jesus has experienced resurrection since: 1) the son of the Shunammite woman, the widows’ sons, Lazarus, Dorcas, and Eutychus experienced resuscitations not resurrections given they died again (1Ki 7:17-23; 2 Ki 4:18-37; Luk 7:12-15; Joh 11:39-44; Act 9:36-41, 20:9-10), 2) all those who have died in the past currently exist like God without physical/material bodies ([Due 4:15-18 w/Joh 4:24 w/Luk 24:39] w/1Co 15:20-23; 1Th 4:16-17; 2Co 5:8).

4. Every person who has ever lived will experience a resurrection at the return of Jesus to earth (Joh 5:28-29; Act 24:15 [Dan 12:2; Psa 11:7]).

5. Before Jesus’ resurrection, those who died went either to Abraham’s bosom (the temporary resting place of righteous disembodied spirits) or Hades (the temporary torturing place of wicked disembodied spirits) and neither could cross over to the other (Luk 16:19-26).

6. After Jesus’ resurrection, those in Abraham’s bosom were allowed into heaven (their sins having been propitiated versus simply passed over) to fellowship w/the Trinity, the angels and the righteous disembodied spirits of those who die after Jesus’ resurrection (Heb 9:15-16 w/Eph 4:8-10; 2Co 5:8; Luk 23:43).

7. Experiencing the resurrection of the wicked will: 1) be the fate of most human beings because they chose to love wickedness rather than put faith in and be faithful to Jesus during their earthly life (Mat 7:18-23; Luk 13:23-24; 2Th 2:1:5-9, 2:10-12, 2) be followed by God’s condemning judgment and then being tortured in a lake of fire everyday forever (Psa 11:4-6; Rev 20:11-15; 2Th 2:10-12; again Joh 5:28-29 and Dan 12:2).

8. Experiencing the resurrection of the righteous will: 1) be followed by God’s approving judgment then an eternal life of never sinning, suffering or being bored, as they will be forever equipped with superhuman bodies and forever occupied with discovering, developing and enjoying King Jesus’ perfect new – and infinite universe to His glory (Rev 21-22), 2) require not only pledging your allegiance to Jesus in this life through baptismal faith but then living in faithful obedience to those vows until you die or Jesus returns (1Pe 3:21; 1Jo 3:7-10; Luk 20:35 “those considered worthy to attain to the resurrection [of the righteous] w/Joh 5:29).

9. We should not be surprised that people mock our belief in a future resurrection, the resurrection was as unpopular (a belief) in the ANE as it is today (e.g., Act 17:18 w/31-32). To not believe in a resurrection – most especially, the resurrection of Jesus, will eternally condemn you (1Co 15:1-4 “the gospel which I preached to you” w/Gal 1:6-9 “a different gospel…anathema”).

“Nobody in the pagan world of Jesus’ day and thereafter claimed that somebody had been truly dead and had then come to be truly, and bodily, alive once more.” – N.T. Wright (The Resurrection of the Son of God).

10. The fact that there will be a future resurrection not only confirms that this is not the only life we will live, but that the point of this very temporal life is to determine what version of eternal life we deserve (1Co 15:32).

 

TODAY’S TAKEAWAY: GOD IS REAL. THIS LIFE IS THE TEST. GAIN THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS AND THE RIGHTEOUS.

 

PHI 3:10-11

“10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; 11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

A Tale of Two Kings: David

1. David had all the potential to be a great king.

– 16:1, 5-13 = Divine blessing, confirmation, & guidance

**notice however, humble beginning

**notice also, God’s choice for ‘most likely to succeed’ v.7

16:18; 17:4-11, 26, 32-37, 45-47; 18:30 = Courageous, confident, & great leader (vs Saul hiding in the luggage), giving guarantees ahead of time.

2. David demonstrates his righteous careful character through extreme trials.

18:10-11, 17, 19, 25, 19:6, 9-12, 18, 20:41-42, 21:13-22:2, 22:21-23 = Saul’s attempts to kill David -> Saul makes aggressive efforts to kill him, David loses one of his best friends, flees like a criminal, makes himself look insane, and Saul kills the priests in pursuing David.

*23:1-14 = stands up to his people, seeks God’s guidance

*24 = David’s test of sparing Saul’s life & standing up to his men. Attention to detail despite everything pointing to God’s deliverance.

*26 = David spares him again & again stands up to his men.

*30 = David’s own peeps talk of stoning him. Seeking God through the situation is part of being righteous.

2Sa 1 & 4 = David continuing to respect the King’s office

2Sa 7 = David’s covenant with God

8:15 = justice and equity

9:1-13 = David’s integrity

Character tests = Spares Saul’s life, is pressured by his men, is under threat of being stoned, David is reliant on God, trusts God, continues to pray to God (ref Psalms)

3. David saves his soul by submitting faithfully and quickly to God’s discipline.

2Sa 11 = David’s complacency leads to committing serious sin.

2Sa 12:1-25 = discipline (Psalm 51)

*Notice that David accepts what God uses to punish him. David doesn’t mope around.

*Ref David’s continued rapport with Nathan all the way into 1Kings

2Sa 15-18 Absalom’s rebellion and David’s response.

David ends his life with the legacy of a man after God’s own heart intact, ‘faithful in all things’, (Act 13:22; 1Kings 15:3-5)

Concluding principles that come from comparing Saul & David’s life:

1. What makes a man mighty in God’s eyes is not his ability to physically conquer but rather his commitment to carefully obeying God.

2. Response to discipline is a defining moment and test for people, possibly more than anything else.

3. Having the deck stacked in your favor is an indicator of future POTENTIAL, not future SUCCESS.

New principles from David’s life

1. Complacency kills. (David’s comfy in his palace instead of going to battle, Pro 1:32)

2. God expects us to respond righteously to authority even if/when they respond unrighteously. (Rom 13; 1Ti 5:19; 1Pe 3; Mat 5:38-41)

3. God expects us to be faithful, NOT perfect.

4. Growing distant from church members and/or your pastor(s) after discipline is a huge red flag. (notice David’s continued comms with Nathan vs Saul)

5. God doesn’t hold grudges. (He will bless and work all things for good if you’ll just turn and be faithful to Him. e.g. God doesn’t desire the death of the wicked [Eze 18, 33], and uses Bathsheba to continue David’s bloodline)

6. God demands our attention to detail even under pressure. (David slows down when pressured to kill Saul, doesn’t violate God’s command about building the temple, etc. vs Saul’s compromise, or Moses’ rush to strike the rock)

7. God expects you to honor your covenants/keep your word even to your own detriment. (Psa 15:4; 1Sa 20:14-17 w/ 2Sa 21:1-2)

8. Your sin has consequences and God expects you to accept that and move on. (David’s life was characterized by trouble after what happens with Bathsheba, but he doesn’t complain about it)

9. It’s important to be in your place when the fighting starts. (You don’t have to go sword to sword but do your part! This requires sacrifice, the good of the “ nation” over personal achievement/comfort. Don’t be someone who sits on the sideline or worse, thinks we shouldn’t be fighting)

Closing Contemplation: at the end of your life, will your choices reveal you to have been more like Saul or David?

The Power of Loyalty – Part 1

In Matthew 6:19-24 Jesus reveals the power our discretionary and listening loyalties possess not only for determining who we truly serve (who we are loyal to as King), but also producing the salvation-essential attributes of affection (for God) and conviction (in regard to the Word of God). Our confidence that loyalty is indeed His subject is confirmed by His conclusion (24 “serve…be devoted to” = be loyal to).

What the Bible Has To Say About The Transfer Of Our Church Membership

Common belief today: “We have the right to transfer our membership whenever we want, for whatever reason we want, as long as we believe the other church to be biblical.”

Those who believe such things indicate they are not only completely ignorant – or rebellious to, what the Bible actually teaches on this subject, but also the church’s divine authority in such matters[1].

1. We cannot transfer to another church without our current church’s allowance or approval.

Why? Because our membership is attached to our baptism and our baptism is the property of the church currently possessing it -not us.

1.1. God only recognizes us as a member of a specific church when that church performs/possesses our baptism (Act 2:41 “added” [to the church as members] at the point of baptism). IOW: Membership = Baptism.

1.2. To transfer our membership to another church therefore requires the transfer of our baptism to that church.

1.3. Given that baptism is also the way we receive initial forgiveness or the washing away of our sins, it constitutes one of the keys of salvation given to the Christ’s churches – not the individual (Act 2:38, 22:16 w/Joh 20:21-23 w/Mat 16:18-19: Keys unlock gates – in this case, the gates to the kingdom of heaven [in contrast to v18 “gates of Hades”]. The key of baptism gives us access to the blessings of the Spirit and forgiveness [the blood of Christ]).[2]

1.4. Transferring to another church would therefore also require allowance/approval of the church (possessing your baptism) since: 1) they (not you) are the owners of that heavenly access key (baptism) (again, the keys are the property of the church not the individual) (Gen 28:11-18: Notice the gate to heaven is in God’s house, the pillar of truth; the NT church is that place today – 1Ti 3:15 “household of God…pillar…of the truth”), 2) it is impossible to have access granted by another church since only one legitimate baptism is allowed (Heb 6:1-6 “washings” which makes us “partakers of the Holy Spirit.” = Baptism; “impossible to renew them again to repentance since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God” = No second forgiveness or cleansing from sin – i.e., No second baptism; Hence, Eph 4:5)[3].

1.5. As additional support that our baptism is the property of the church and not us, consider also the church’s authority to permanently bind or remove forgiveness (i.e., declare apostasy) – which therefore means the rescinding of that person’s baptism (Mat 16:19 and Joh 20:21-23 w/Mat 18:17-20). Hardly could the church do that if baptism was the property of the individual (at least not without their consent)!

 

2. The church where our baptism resides, must be very careful when it comes to transferring a person’s baptism/membership to another church.

Why? Because the church where our baptism currently resides – most specifically its shepherds (elders/pastors), have been assigned as our primary overseers for protection and the promotion of obedience to Christ’s commands (Mat 28:19 w/20; Act 20:28).

2.1. Allowing members of the church to leave without absolute confidence in the new church and its pastors, would therefore constitute a failure in these shepherds’ duty of care for which they will be severely judged (Act 20:26-27 w/Eze 33:7-9; Jam 3:1).

2.2. This will be especially true if the church where their membership is transferred possesses: 1) a false gospel (allowance to or approval of a church with a false gospel is the same as approving a false gospel which in turn brings judgment on their former church – or at least its pastor; Gal 1:6-9 w/2Jo 1:9-11) or 2) no relationship w/their current church by which to confirm the legitimacy of their gospel (that they are a true church) and competency of their shepherds (that they are a safe church) (Act 20:28-31 = Guard the flock from wolves. Would anyone consider someone to be a good shepherd guarding their flock from wolves if they allowed them to be cared for by strangers or someone they knew to be incompetent? This is akin to those Jesus refers to as “hired hands” or false shepherds – Joh 10:12-13; Consider this same question from the perspective of a parent)

 

3. Clear evidence it is not God’s will that the church allow or approve of the transfer of someone to another church:

3.1. They have outstanding discipline or grievances with their existing church (Mat 5:23-26).

3.2. The church they wish to be transferred to is false or not safe (point #2; Consider Paul’s perspective in regard to those pastors he knew to be false though they claimed to be comrades and had received the support of the people – 2Co 11:6 w/10-15 = Paul fought against giving approval or equal footing to flaky or false shepherds – regardless of what other people thought. Notice also, Paul has no problem using strong language in his assessment of such men).

 

3.3. Their current church does not know or have a relationship w/the transfer church so as to confirm them as true and safe (again, point #2). The idea that the church can trust the individual to make that decision is like saying we trust our children to make the big decisions in the home or the patient to determine the diagnosis or prescription for the doctors [who will still be responsible for the consequences of those decisions]).

3.4. They don’t want their current pastor over them and/or believe him to be unrighteous/unfit/using his office for evil/a false teacher – though they do not have the biblically required evidence to prove it (1Ti 5:19; Deu 17:12-13; Num 16:1-3 w/Num 15:30-31 w/Mat 12:32; Consider also 2Co 13:1-2).

3.5. They want to live somewhere too far from the existing church w/o confirmation of a church in that area (Jam 4:13-17).

3.6. There is nothing to be gained by them or the other church (this is the pattern est’d in the NT: those sent out will profit those other churches [e.g., Phoebe, Rom 16:1-2; Apollos, 1Co 16:12 w/Act 18:24; Timothy, 1Ti 1:3; Paul and Barnabas, Act 13:1-4]).

 

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: What should the church follow, the will of God or the will of people (those wanting to transfer)?

 

[1] Both now and going forward, what is to be assumed is that the church we are attempting to transfer from is a biblical church as well as the church where we were baptized or is currently possessing our baptism based on the allowance or approval of our baptizing church.

[2] Hence the reason churches have always viewed the sacrament of baptism as the prerequisite to the other key of the kingdom, the LT (the sacrament where we receive continued cleansing by Christ’s blood – Joh 13:1-10), because baptism is the only way to gain access to this atoning reservoir (the blood of Christ resides in His church – Act 20:28; In this light Consider again Joh 13:10 = IOW: the original bath or washing of baptism by Jesus is what grants us access to the additional – and necessary washing provided thru the “supper” [v4]).

[3] “The sacrament of baptism is but once to be administered unto any person,” – WCF, (ch.27)

Canon – Function

Canon (definition): Those books containing God’s spoken words (the Old and New Testaments otherwise known as Scripture, God’s Word or the Bible) preserved for the purpose of saving (physically, spiritually) His people (the covenant community).

A major deterrent to canonical confidence[1], is not only a poor understanding of the canon’s formation, but the intended function of God’s spoken words as communicated in the canon itself. This study (or part one) will address the latter, part two, the former. With that in mind, there are several important truths that must be understood with respect to God’s spoken words:

 

1. The exclusive instrument God has chosen to lead and have relationship w/His people (i.e., to save them) has been His spoken words (not feelings or Jesus’ face in pancakes or naan – or the more recent and local example, glitter bombs [Church of the Front Range]) (Exo 34:27 “in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” = God’s words were the means to covenant relationship w/OC Israel; Deu 31:8-9 = God’s words were the means to leading OC Israel; Isa 8:19-20 = Those led by anything other than God’s spoken words are counterfeits; Heb 1:1-2; 2Ti 3:16 “inspired” [Grk., “God-breathed” = Spoken by God] = What has been written down as Scripture is what was spoken [to the human authors] by God; 2Pe 1:19-21 = Gaining and maintaining a saving relationship w/God [“until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” = Until you get to heaven/the day of your eternal salvation is realized] requires that you give yourself to His “spoke[n]” words [“Scripture”] as the exclusive means to leading and living your life [versus to false teachers who lead thru feelings, their experiences or promises of false freedom [2:1-19]; What about Gideon’s fleece? See Jug 6:36 w/37-40).

2. Since the purpose of God’s spoken words is the salvation (physically and spiritually) of His people, we should: 1) always view His spoken words with this as their intention (i.e., whatever He has said is relevant/important to the subject of salvation – 2Ti 3:15), 2) never view His spoken words as an attempt at referring to or explaining all things (e.g., the Bible has very little to say about dinosaurs; the Bible spends very little time on the subject of Creation).

3. Never – including the present, have God’s people ever possessed all God’s spoken words yet they have always had what they needed to be faithful (Deu 29:29; 2Pe 1:3; e.g., 1Sa 10:10-11; Joh 20:30; Col 4:16; Rev 10:4).

4. God at times, has deliberately hidden His spoken words – or their understanding, until His people were ready to receive it and take the next necessary step in their journey of obedience (Neh 8:13-18 [Lev 23:34; Deu 16:16]; Eph 3:1-6 = OT saints not given full understanding as to the prophecies regarding the coming Messiah. Hence Mat 13:34-35 and Luk 24:27, 45-46//Luk 9:45, 18:31-34; Joh 12:16, 13:7, 20:9; *the importance of this truth to our church: do not become unsettled by the fact that as we mature, God corrects our poor understanding of His spoken words from the past – e.g., Calvinism, baptism, Insurrection or the unforgiveable sin, what other things qualify as a capital crime, etc. ** what has never changed: our view that what a person needs to do to be saved is more than simply put faith in Christ, they must also be faithfully obedient to His laws).

5. God has also deliberately foregone giving the exact application for some of His spoken words to accommodate the changing moral climates experienced by His people throughout the world and redemptive history (e.g., Deu 25:1-3; 1Co 5:1-5 w/2Co 2:6-8; see also 2Co 8:21; *important not to miss: though the church is given freedom as to the application of these laws, that does not make our decisions arbitrary or without God’s authority and backing[2]; Mat 18:18-20).

6. Under Jesus’ new covenant kingdom, God has deliberately changed the way we are to understand and apply some of His previously spoken (or preserved) words (e.g., Rom 10:20-21 w/Isa 65:1-2; 1Co 5:1-5; Col 2:11-12; Act 15:17 w/Amo 9:12 [LXX versus MT[3]]).

7. In addition, God has deliberately made some of His spoken words hard to understand (e.g., 2Pe 3:16) so that those who truly love Him will truly understand it and those who don’t, won’t[4] (Jer 29:13 “with all of your heart” = Hard work motivated by love is the condition to finding God; Isa 6:10 w/1:1-15 and 5:24 = Dull and dim are God’s curse on those who refuse to love Him by listening to His laws [to love is to listen]; Mat 13:13-15; Joh 8:42-43; Act 28:27; 2Co 12:7-10 [the theory of desirable difficulty] = We are better at understanding things [we are “stronger”] when those things are presented in a difficult way[5]).

8. Though not always apparent on the surface, there are no contradictions or inconsistencies between the principles established by God’s spoken words in the Old Testament and those established in the New Testament (Hence the reason: 1) Jesus and the NT’s speakers always appeal to the OT in support of their position or teaching – e.g., Act 24:14 [roughly, one out of every three verses in the NT is a direct or indirect reference to the OT], 2) Paul supports the OT as a source for becoming “wise” about NT salvation or training in righteousness [2Ti 3:15-16], 3) the Scriptures used at the start of the 1st century church to discern truth from error was the OT [the NT didn’t exist] – e.g., Act 17:10-11//e.g., Act 15:17 w/Amo 9:12 = No contradiction in the way James applies Amos since the intended goal of the prophet’s words agree with James’s interpretation [i.e., the Gentiles will be able to seek God’s salvation w/o becoming Jews [“all the nations who are called by My name”. Hence Paul’s struggle w/the Jews – Gal 6:13-15 w/3:28).

9. The two worst things therefore a person can be, are: 1) lazy in working hard to understand God’s spoken words (2Pe 3:16 = The reason they are “untaught and unstable” is due to their unwillingness to put forth the effort or work to “grow” in their understanding of God’s new covenant plan [the “grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” They are “unprincipled men” [lazy – literally, w/o a law governing their behavior- most esp. God’s law – e.g., 2Pe 2:7], vv17-18; why so bad: v16b, “to their own destruction”) and 2) under the impression that no changes or corrections will be made to their understanding of God’s spoken words as a consequence of their growth in understanding (and therefore refuse to change – or call into question what is being taught) (this too is implied in 2Pe 3:16-18 = People refusing to grow are people refusing to change; e.g., Act 6:8-7:53 [51]; Gal 4:1-10 [8-10]; why so bad: Heb 6:1-8).

10. The end of first-century supernatural offices, brought an end to any additional spoken words from God in human history (1Co 13:8-10).

 

[1] By canonical confidence I mean, confidence that what we possess as God’s spoken words is enough to save us.

[2] Arbitrary (def.) based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

[3] Based on the evidence from other extant Jewish sources (e.g., Dead Sea Scrolls), some scholars believe the LXX rendering to be the more accurate/correct rendering.

[4] To say that something is hard to understand does not mean the same thing as beyond human understanding. If this were true, then hardly could Peter (for example) make an appeal to Paul’s wisdom – or encourage other Christians to read his letters since their message would be indiscernible (2Pe 3:14-15). It should also be noted that acknowledging the difficulties of Scripture (i.e., their interpretation) does no violence to the doctrine of Perspicuity or clarity of Scripture. Clarity is not the same as simplicity. In the words of Mark D. Thompson, “The clarity of Scripture [does] not mean, and [has] never meant, that there are no difficulties in Scripture.” (A Clear And Present Word, p.153).

[5] For a popular culture treatment of this subject see Malcom Gladwell’s David and Goliath (Part 2: The Theory of Desirable Difficulty).