Archive for category Jesus
We had an interesting discussion yesterday during our church’s Revelation Bible Study (we meet weekly, and it’s led by a good friend of mine who blogs about it at The Watchman’s Gaze). I didn’t at all mean to derail the discussion, and I think I only sidetracked us for a few minutes, but I want other opinions.
Revelation 3:14 provides:
To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this… (NASB)
Now, I don’t mean to call into question the divinity of Jesus, or his role as creator, but as “the Beginning of the creation of God,” was there a point in time where the manifestation of God as Jesus came into existence or did the representation of God as Jesus always exist?
Our discussion leader and our pastor (who blogs at the Monday Morning Review) were adamant (in a very friendly and cordial way-both are experienced in indulging my quirky rabbit trails) that Jesus always was. I, with very little other support around the table (except for possibly our pastor’s wife-who doesn’t blog yet), however, continue to be nagged with the metaphysical question of Jesus as “the Beginning of the creation of God” and as “…the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation…”
I certainly do not see it as heretical to think of Jesus coming into existence in some way as other reflections of God must have, His Word for example. I think we got hung up on the word “created.” And I don’t care if we use “created” or some other word to describe it. Physicists spend an awful lot of time and energy trying to figure out the moment of creation, but I want to know your thoughts about the time before that, specifically the moment of the creator.
Thoughts? Ideas? Scriptural Authority?
My regular readers will know that I’m a fan of searching out obscure, often lost, stuff in scripture. Well, I must admit, I never thought to research the inn in Bethlehem referenced in the story of the birth of Jesus.
Now, I don’t have to. It was the subject of our pastor’s sermon Sunday morning. I guess I do if I want to figure out if he’s right, there was a little scriptural hopscotch being played to make the connections he made, but my initial reaction was, “that’s pretty cool.” And I still haven’t come up with a reason why it’s wrong, so it must be right. Right?
The goal for this week was to cover two chapters, but we only made it through chapter 8. I suppose it was a little ambitious to try and cover chapters 8 and 9, but 9 will just have to wait until next week.
In verse 1, the author is again referencing Psalm 110, a Messianic Psalm which the author has referenced repeatedly throughout the book of Hebrews. And he or she says:
Now the main point in what has been said is this: we have such a high priest who has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man. Hebrews 8:1-2 (NASB)
The high priest, who is also the Messiah, has taken his place in Heaven and in the true tabernacle. This is the end of the need for sacrifices. The high priest has now entered the heavenly sanctuary and is now the mediator of a better covenant, the old now being obsolete.
So that it is clear, this is not a reference to the Abrahamic land grant covenant, but to the Mosaic covenant. Until the high priest became the mediator of the new covenant, the law was written in stone. Now the laws are in the hearts and minds of the believers.
This principle actually led to the liveliest discussion of the evening in our effort to determine when and how this imprinting upon the hearts and minds takes place. Does it occur upon becoming a believer, at baptism, during the baptism of the Holy Spirit? Without reaching definite conclusions, I think the general consensus was that (1) the Holy Spirit is the mechanism, and (2) it happens when the Holy Spirit becomes activated by faith in Jesus (which we also believed was distinct from the baptism in the Holy Spirit – which could happen simultaneously, but doesn’t always, or even usually).
We again were landed with a ministry opportunity which consumed a fair amount of the time, but the tradeoff was well worth it.
Earlier this week in What About Infants?, I directed my readers to TC’s post When Infants Die: Hell? Heaven? or Limbo?. As predicted, it generated a healthy discussion. I can’t definitively say who’s right or wrong, but I wonder if we shouldn’t be more worried about adults than the children.
Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 18:3 (NASB)
I have a strong suspicion that the children will be fine. We, on the other hand, seem to have a harder time getting it.
I think we get all worked up over sin and original sin, when our accountability begins, right and wrong, and the like. And that is the very problem.
God’s a pretty smart Dude, and when He forbade us from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, it was for our own good. He knew we would spend the rest of our lives worrying about whether we did good or evil. If not because of our own shortcomings, then because the enemy would beat us over the head with it.
And as if that wasn’t enough, now we’ve got to worry about whether our kids will be held accountable. It’s too much to worry about. And God knew it.
That’s where we go wrong, in our need (or desire) to know. We were better off before the knowledge of good and evil, innocent like a child.
I just wanted to share this sermon on walking with the Holy Spirit. It is one of the best sermons on the Holy Spirit I’ve heard in a long time (and from a Baptist preacher, no less).
I think our mindset is backward. We think we (1) meet Jesus, (2) get saved, and (3) progress into the things of the Spirit, when it is the power of the Holy Spirit that can enable our walk with Jesus from the beginning if we allow it.
Disclaimer: We attended this church (Beltway Park Baptist Church) for a few years, and absolutely loved it. We attended through a satellite campus which closed, so we found a local church. Enjoy!
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My intention for week 6 was to cover all of Hebrews chapter 7. But, you know what they say about intentions (actually, I have no idea what they say about intentions, but it sounded good in my head).
Suffice it to say, we didn’t make it through all of chapter 7, but the discussion was great anyway. It seems that ministry opportunity after ministry opportunity has presented itself during our Bible study (and, henceforth, I will use that term loosely). I’m just trusting that God is trusting our little group with these ministry needs, and I am so thankful for our core group who is more than capable of ministering the gospel, ragtag bunch that we are.
We spent a fair amount of time recapping what we learned about Melchizedek in week 3 because it has, in real time, been over a month since we discussed it. To this Melchizedek, Abraham apportioned one tenth of the spoils (from his battle with the kidnapping kings). We discussed this as the first reference to the Mosaic law of tithing. Also, that the author of Hebrews suggests this as a tithe:
And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Hebrews 7:9-10 (NASB)
And, although we are not under the law of Moses, the spiritual principle of making the whole holy by tithing remains operable. And, while we give our tithes to men, Jesus receives them in heaven, “In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on.” Heb. 7:8. Thus the principle of the tithe predates the law of Moses and continues on through the New Covenant.
As I mentioned, the balance of our discussion time was spent ministering to the newest member of our group. It was yet another unexpected, but totally awesome week. May there be plenty more of them.
Oh, that Jeff, poo-pooer of memes, has come up with a dandy. Here is my take:
Tagged by the Zealot,
to pen Haiku for this blog.
Jeff’s meme challenging!
Jesus Christ died on the cross
to redeem mankind.
God’s Word is life to
the soul in need of rescue.
Hear, listen, obey!
The web is full of stuff that churches do wrong, and a lot of it is probably right on. What disturbs me more, however, is our collective quickness to point out everyone else’s flaws, when we all have them.
If I am publicly critical of one of the flaws in the church, it is the church’s willingness to divide the body. So, rather than perpetuating division, I want to point out a few things churches do right.
I’ve taken the top 10 Christian denominations according to a The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/US Religious Landscape Survey and want to give them each a pat on the back for one thing each does right. Note: I haven’t distinguished so finely as between “Evangelical” and “Mainline,” or this sub-group and that.
Denomination (% of US population) – The good stuff:
1. Catholics (approx. 24%) – Disclaimer: I was born and raised Catholic, and a large part of my family is still Catholic. Catholics do “reverence” better than any other Christian denomination. I prefer a more contemporary, laid back worship service, but I have a great deal of respect for the reverence Catholics give to the Church buildings, altars, services, and rites. They get that God is holy, and we should approach Him that way.
Like obedient children, do not act in compliance with the desires of your former ignorance but, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, “Be holy because I (am) holy.” 1 Peter 1:14-16 (NAB).
2. Baptists (approx. 13%) – Disclaimer: I was “saved” while a member of a Baptist Church (Beltway Park) a few years ago, and I wouldn’t trade my time in that Baptist Church for anything. Baptists do “numbers” better than anybody else right now. They keep the calculators in heaven busy with the newly saved. Baptists get mission work and know how to evangelize.
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 (NIV)
3. Methodists (approx. 6%) – Disclaimer: I graduated from a Methodist university (Southwestern University); the connection was tenuous but important. The Methodists were charismatic before charismatics were cool. The Methodists once did mission work better than anyone else. Now, Methodists bridge gaps better than anyone – gaps between traditional and modern, fundamental and progressive, liturgical and extemporaneous. Methodists get inclusion.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body-Jews or Greeks, slaves or free-and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NRSV)
4. Lutherans (approx. 4.6%) – Obviously, Lutherans have historically done “grace” and “reformation” better than most. They do doctrine, confessions and creeds well. We should all have such well articulated beliefs. Lutherans get that you should be able to articulate and defend what you believe.
He must have a firm grasp of the word that is trustworthy in accordance with the teaching, so that he may be able both to preach with sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict it. Titus 1:9 (NRSV)
5. Non-denominational (approx. 4.5%) – Disclaimer: I currently attend a non-denominational church (Emmanuel Fellowship Church). Non-denominationalists do “worship” better than anyone. They let loose and worship shamelessly. Hands raised, banners waiving, and dancing in the aisles. Every church service is a party. Non-denominationalists get that God is to be worshiped.
Then David danced before the LORD with all his might…
Therefore I will play music before the Lord. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight. 2 Samuel 6:14, 21-22 (NKJV)
6. Pentecostals (approx. 3.5%) – Pentecostals do Holy-Spirit religion better than anyone else. They understand that we are spiritual beings first and foremost, and that we should live in a state of communion with the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals get that the gospel has to be presented not only in word but in power.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4 (KJV)
7. Presbyterians (approx. 2.7%) – Presbyterians do education well. I would guess that, per capita, Presbyterians are probably the most educated group of believers. Presbyterians get that you don’t have to check your intellect at the church door.
The lips of the wise spread knowledge; not so the minds of fools. Proverbs 15:7 (NRSV)
8. Christian Churches/Churches of Christ (approx. 2.4%) – Christian Churches and Churches of Christ do discipline and perseverance like no one else. I don’t think I know a more committed and determined lot. They get that the Christian life is a marathon not a sprint, something many Christians lose sight of.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3 (NASB)
9. Anglicans/Episcopalians (approx. 1.7%) – Anglicans and Episcopalians embrace diversity. This is not true for a lot of the Christian church, and it should be. There is, after all, a common thread which should bind all of us. Anglicans get that the body needs all of its component parts.
And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; Revelation 5:9 (AV)
10. Holiness Churches (approx. 1%) – Holiness churches do non-conformity well. They actually try to live what many Christians profess. They get that an encounter with Jesus and the Holy Spirit should be a life-changing encounter.
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2 (KJV)
On the whole, it sounds like a body of Christ I want to be a part of. Now, if we could get all of the component parts working in unison.
NOTE: My readers know that I allow and respond to virtually all comments and criticisms, but not on this post. If you leave a comment critical of a Christian denomination, please know it will be deleted. I know charismatics can take things too far, and I know other denominations can be legalistic. I get it. None of us are perfect, and there will be plenty of time and opportunity to discuss the problems later. You are, as always, certainly free to criticize me or my positions, but not the other members of the body. Not this time.
As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have been teaching a discipleship class at our church (different from the Hebrews Bible Study that some of you are following). It is a four-part series on Genesis 1:1, among other things. The class is a study of the supernatural nature of the Hebrew language and the ancient Hebrew pictographs making up Genesis 1:1 and other Biblical names and passages.
I have tried to upload the Power Point files, but none of the services that I am aware of allow for the Hebrew fonts I have used, so I have taken screen captures of the slides and included them as images. I hope it makes sense. Also, there are many slides, so I will publish the teachings in multiple parts.
The first class was entitled “Why do you believe the Bible?” We looked at at three key places in scripture where the same event is graphically depicted in the ancient Hebrew pictographs. I will publish the first teaching in three parts.
We began, appropriately enough, “In the beginning,” by looking at the pictographs that make up the Hebrew word “Barasheet,” most frequently translated, “In the beginning.”
In the original Hebrew alphabet, each pictograph represented a letter of the alphabet, a number, and had a symbolic meaning. By looking at those pictographs, a richer, deeper understanding of the text is gained.
Barasheet is spelled in Hebrew BET (the equivalent of our letter B, depicted in the ancient Hebrew pictographs as a house or tent, symbolically meaning “house” as in a lineage; RESH (R), depicted as a man’s head, meaning the first or highest person; ALEPH (A), depicted as an ox head, meaning strength or God, as in, “the Lord is my strength;” SHIN (S or Sh), depicted as two teeth, meaning to consume or destroy; YOD (Y), depicted as an arm from the elbow to the fist, meaning “my” or efforts or works; and TAV (T), depicted as two crossed sticks, meaning mark or covenant.
The first two letters of Barasheet BET and RESH together form the Hebrew/Aramaic word “bar” or “son.” So, when we look at the ancient Hebrew pictographs, we see that “In the beginning” is actually a graphic depiction of the SON of GOD being CONSUMED/DESTROYED with his HANDS on a CROSS. The slides show the modern Hebrew letter, the name of the letter, the symbolic meaning, what is pictured in the pictograph (in parentheses), and the pictograph itself.
That’s quite a remarkable beginning. For a slightly different look at this, you can read my earlier post In the beginning.
During the class, I taught that the traditional belief that the first prophecy in scripture is in Genesis 3 is actually incorrect, and that it is, “In the beginning.” I believe the most powerful and creative force in the universe is the spoken word of God. If so, by its very nature, it must be prophetic especially in view of God’s creativity. God not only created the universe, but in speaking, He created language, an alphabet, math and science, and everything else.
This week, however, I was humbled by the Lord who showed me something else quite remarkable. In Genesis 3, the “first prophecy” is God cursing the serpent saying,
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
“In the beginning,” the very nature of the Son’s destruction on the cross is accomplished by the pictograph depicting two teeth, the very manner in which a serpent would “strike.” So, the first prophecy in scripture is both “In the beginning” and in Genesis 3.
There was obviously a lot more, it was an hour-long class. I will try to put as much as I can in parts 2 and 3 which will follow soon. Enjoy.
Following the hugely popular 100 Names of Jesus, our pastor has posted 66 Pictures of Jesus, one from each book of the Bible. There are actually more than 66 listed, a few books have more than one, but it’s a fun list. Check it out.