Hitler, Mussolini, the Zionist Jew and the Trump of the will

Note: Besides Jewish Zionists, there are also Christian Zionists, which are not discussed here.

Where there’s a will, it’s a must to prove the death of the one who made it (Hebrews 9:16); that is, if you mean by a “will” a “last will and testament.” But that is not the “will” that I discuss here. I’m talking about that other kind of will, the one where you’re alive and forever kicking against the pricks, where at life’s end you can triumphantly sing “I did it my way.”

For the Jew, to be a Jew was something special. To be a German Jew, though, was something extra special – for the Jew. Yet the Jews (Zionist Jews) arranged two world wars to destroy Germany. What the enlightened Jew (maskil) loved most of all about the German was his rational Mind/Reason/Spirit. The maskil drank deep of the nectar of Kant and Hegel. For the German and the maskil, there was a rational solution to all social problems, but he knew that Reason remained impotent to solve problems without the will to solve them. (See Once a Jew, oiveys a Jew).

Darwinians ridicule the will. Viktor Frankl, the Jewish psychologist – a survivor of the German concentration camps – coined the term “logotherapy,” which he defines as “the will to mean” (Logos “meaning”). When in despair, Frankl says one should will oneself out of it, and fight on. For Frankl (also William James), the best thing you can do for yourself – and only you can do it is find meaning in your life and develop a positive attitude to the circumstances in which you find yourself. How do you find meaning? You will it; you will the courage to rise above your suffering, which Frankl considers to be the most noble thing you can do – the only thing you can do to cope with suffering. (See God in Viktor Frankl’s Logotherapy).

Theodor Herzl said“If you will it, it is no dream.” Like all Jews, in fact all mankind in their natural state, the dream finally becomes a reality through the expression of one’s true will. What is true for the Jew, however, may only be true for the few: one man’s meat is often another man’s poisson (fish). For example, for the atheist (Jewish and others), the will is a mechanical entity.

The Jewish writer Yoram Bogacz contrasts atheistic and (Talmudic) Jewish views of the human will. He writes:

“In his book Crime: Criminals and Criminal Justice (1932), University of Buffalo criminologist Nathaniel Cantor ridiculed ‘the grotesque notion of a private entity, spirit, soul, will, conscience or consciousness interfering with the orderly processes of body mechanisms.” Because we humans are no different in principle to any other biological organism, “man is no more ‘responsible’ for becoming wilful and committing a crime than the flower for becoming red and fragrant. In both cases the end products are predetermined by the nature of protoplasm and the chance of circumstances.’…This Darwinian tradition continues to this day. Jerry Coyne’s fellow New Atheist, the neuroscientist Sam Harris, sets out his position in his 2012 book Free Will: ‘Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control. We do not have the freedom we think we have.’”

In contrast, the Jewish view, says Bogacz is that “God has placed before us life and death, blessing and curse, we should choose life. The Talmud goes further. It records the first attempt in our tradition to refute the case for moral responsibility. It occurred when Job argued that human beings are forced to act as they do, and bear no moral responsibility for their actions. The Talmud rejects this out of hand.” Without saying more, the Talmud has a paltry understanding of Job, and of divine decrees and causality, in general. Who is God to argue with the rabbis. In any argument, says the Talmud, between God and the rabbis, God loses. When the (Talmudic) Jew, says Luria (Arizal), has cleaned up the mess God has made, has repaired the world (Hebrew Tikkun Olam), Messiah will come. (See Reference).

We move on to the heart of our topic, the triumph of the will in Hitler, the Zionist and Trump.

Consider the following paragraph:

The natural right of the (German/Jewish) people to be like any other nation, stands on its own in its sovereign state that will open the gates of their fatherland/motherland to every (German/Jew) and grant the (German/Jewish) people an equal status of rights among other nations. So, we are gathered here as members, representatives of the German/Jewish people in the land of Germany/Israel by virtue of our historical and natural right and our trust in the power of Germany/Israel. It is our wish that this State will endure for millennia to come, We are happy in the knowledge that this fortune belongs to us completely. When the older ones among us may start to falter, then the youth will take over and remain till their bones turn to dust.

Do the sentiments in the paragraph apply to both the German and the Jew, as I have phrased it? The paragraph is my combination of an except from Ben Gurion’s speech at the declaration of the State of Israel, Friday, 5th May, 1948 – the section in italics – and Adolf Hitler’s Closing Speech “Triumph Of The Will” (1934, Youtube) – the rest of the paragraph.

Here is Ben Gurion

This is the natural right of the Jewish people to be like any other nation, stands on its own in its sovereign state that will open the gates of her homeland to every Jew and grant the Jewish people an equal status of rights among other nations. So, we gathered, the members of the People’s Council, representatives of the Jewish Yishuv and the Zionist movement on the completion day of the British Mandate over the land of Israel. By virtue of our historical and natural right and based on the United Nations General Assembly resolution, we declare the establishment of a Jewish state of Israel. Due to our trust in the power of Israel, we are signing with our hands.” (My emphasis).

And Adolf Hitler

It is our wish and will that this State and Reich will endure for millennia to come, We are happy in the knowledge that this fortune belongs to us completely. When the older ones among us may start to falter, then the youth will take over and remain till their bones turn to dust. [Paul fight the good fight – see Mandela]. Only when the Party, with the cooperation of everyone, make it the highest embodiment of National Socialist thought and spirit will t he Party be an eternal and indestructible pillar of the German people and the Reich. Then eventually, the magnificent, glorious army, those old proud warriors of our Volk will be joined by the political leadership of the Party equally traditon-minded, and then these two institutions together will educate and strengthen the German man and carry on their shoulders the German State, the German Reich… the idea of our movement is a living expression of our people, and therefore, a symbol of eternity. Long live the Socialist moment, long live Germany.

The content, if not the brilliant oratory, in Hitler’s speech is the daily bread of political leaders of every stripe.

The dust mentioned by Hitler is not the “moral and economic dust” of Chaim Weizmann, one of the key founders of Zionism, He was asked before WWII: “Can you bring six million Jews to Palestine?” I replied, “No.” … From the depths of the tragedy I want to save … young people [for Palestine] “The old ones will pass. They will bear their fate or they will not. They are dust, economic and moral dust in a cruel world … Only the branch of the young shall survive. They have to accept it.” (Chaim Weizmann reporting to the Zionist Congress in 1937 on his testimony before the Peel Commission in London). (See Old Jews: “Economic and Moral Dust(Chaim Weizmann).”

Here is a transcript of excerpts of conversation between Webster Tarpley and Jeff Rense, where Tarpley argues that Hitler’s “triumph of the will” has much in common with the “Trump of the will.” (See Trump Sees Presidency in Terms of Hitler’s “Triumph of the Will”).

trump of the will

The Trump of the Will

[My additions appear in square brackets].

Tarpley: Trump seems to have a soft spot for Hitler. And this comes from his former wife, Ivana Trump… Donald Trump kept a collection of Hitler’s speeches at his beside reading table.

Rense: I would ask, maybe he was studying history… (Tarpley laughs). I don’t know he [Trump], says Rense. has a soft spot for Hitler. I’d rather have him have a soft spot for Hitler than for Joseph Stalin; 60 million dead.

Tarpley: You and I are going to disagree totally on all of this, but here is what I have to say: does someone who seems to have a fascination with Hitler… (Rense interrupts).

Rense: So do I [have a fascination with Hitler]; the guy blows my mind.

Tarpley: If we are going to continue, you have to stop with that. I can’t be associated with that.

Rense: I didn’t say it was great and it [that it] would be good here in our country.

Tarpley: I know a whole lot about Germany, having lived there. It would be very hard to find a German today of any seriousness who would agree with you. This I cannot entertain; this is off the charts.

Rense: You know we are on different sides of the fence. It’s fine, it’s fine.

Tarpley: Maybe not so fine but let’s push ahead. What can we do… [“with an idiot like you?”]. Let us examine some of his (Trump’s) behaviour. Can we call him “fascist?” Yes we can.

Tarpley gives examples of Trump’s fascist elements: His “demagogy” against immigrants. Trump would say “Let’s scapegoat the immigrants coming across our border” for the economic problems in our country. The wall on the US-Mexican border. “If you ask Trump how he will build this wall, he will say ‘I’ll just do it. I will cut through the opposition, I will bowl everybody over and I’ll just do it, and impose myself.” That is the ‘triumph of the Will’ [the title of the German movie on the Summer Olympics, Berlin, 1938]. Another example: How will you get a better deal with Iran? ‘I’ll just do it. I’ll do it by sheer force of personality.’”

Rense: He is talking like Obama talks: “I can do without the Congress, without the Senate, without the House.” [Trump said that Obama’s dictatorial way is wrong. Quote: “You come to a conclusion through negotiation and compromise. You don’t just go on signing [executive] orders.” (See reference Youtube Full Donald Trump and Wolf Blitzer Interview: Part 2; minute 3:30 ff).

Tarpley: I don’t care about executive orders. Let’s see what the contents of the executive orders are.. But generally speaking Obama has been absolutely pathetic. Obama could have done ten times more [executive orders(?) I thought Tarpley was accusing Trump of being a dictator, a fascist].

Tarpley continues to explain the “triumph of the will”:

Tarpley: It (the triumph of the will) means that the world of reality is somehow inferior to the subjective view of it.

Tarpley identifies Trump with Mussolini and Hitler, who stress the quality of the people over programs, the quality of their wills.

Is Tarpley right in saying that the triumph of the will “means that the world of reality is somehow inferior to the subjective view of it?” That is way too simplistic. To discuss the superficiality of such an observation would take us too far afield, so I shall refer briefly to Nietzsche’s view of the will, short for the “will to power”:

Nietzsche calls the will to power the “essence of life.” thus the heart of man’s existence: without it we would die. This will to power’s focus, says Nietzsche, is not self-preservation, which may be the sign of a weak will. So when Trump says he wants to make America great again, thus not make himself greater, there is no reason to disbelieve him, unless we don’t like him. Below the radar of Trump’s altruism, however, may be lurking, what Nietzsche calls the need of all living things “to discharge their strength,: where life itself is the “will to power.” In Trump, because he feels himself to be so strong, he needs to get this energy out. Sex and acquiring property are not enough. There’s nothing fascist about that. The main issue for people is can he improve their lives.

In conclusion, I repeat what Herzl, the atheist Jew said: “If you will it, it is no dream” where the dream finally becomes a reality through the expression of the Zionist’s true will; which is of course, the will to power, without which the will has no power. What, though, about God’s will – his sovereign will – which is the main thread running through the whole Bible from Genesis to Revelation. If our will does not flow from God’s will, it cannot be a true will, in which case the dream is destined to end in a nightmare, which the 3500-year history of my people, the children of Jacob, clearly shows. It is only in obedience to God’s will that our wills and minds find true power. With regard to those who trust in Jesus Christ, “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Old Jews: “Economic and Moral Dust” (Chaim Weizmann)

Who is the arch-villain of the Jewish “fate” of World War II?

OneDaring Jew

“These are a rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction. They say to the seers, ‘See no more visions!’ and to the prophets, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!'” (Isaiah 30: 9-11).

The messengers were maltreated, mocked, flogged, stoned, sawn in two, killed by the sword. They wandered in deserts and mountains and hid in caves (Hebrews 11:36-38). These were the wandering Jews of faith who did not receive what was promised.

There is another kind of wandering Jew who witnessed – unknowingly – the fulfilment of the promise. There is a legend that  a Jew taunted Yeshua as he passed on his way to Golgotha. Some say his name was Shalatiel (in Hebrew Shealtiel “I asked God”); others…

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Ultimate Collection of Free Presuppositional Apologetics Lectures

The Domain for Truth

knight armor

The blog True Forms (http://trueforms.wordpress.com) used to have a popular post titled “Ultimate Collection of Free Presuppositional Apologetics Lectures” that was heavily promoted on Social Media.  Unfortunately the blog owner has recently deleted his blog account.  Which is unfortunate if you are looking for great lectures on Presuppositional apologetics online.

I’ve been digging around online to reconstruct that original list.  I have also decided to post the listing with further expansion of other lectures!  This is a work in progress.

Feel free to share this on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks.

Also if there are more resources that you feel should be included on here, please let us know in the comment box.

Camden Bucey
1. Defending the Faith

Shane Kastler
1. Expositional Apologetics

Fred Butler
1. Apologetics Evangelism 101

Jonathan Harris
1. Apologetics Sunday School Class 2011

Brian Rickett
1. Presuppositional Apologetics 2014 Paschal Lectures by Brian Rickett (Videos)
2.

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Muslims don’t have or want to have a clue what their own scriptures say about the Bible.

Islam teaches that Jews and Christians have corrupted their scriptures, while the Qur’an remains pure and thus free of error. One reason why free of error is that the Qur’an, like Allah, is uncreated, thus, eternal, and so not susceptible to change. I examine the argument of corruption of the Bible with a helping hand from David Wood and “Christian Prince.” The latter is Christian Iraqi with qualifications in Islamic law and the literature of Islam.

In David Wood’s “Muslims have no clue what their own scriptures say about the Bible,” he quotes Shabir Ally.

“Why not [the preservation of] the previous books then? God was sending one book after another, God was sending one prophet after another so that if the message of the previous prophets was changed over time, that was not much of a great issue because another prophet came to restore the message and bring it back to its pristine purity. So, for example, when previous messages were confused by people, Jesus came and restored it, and preached again ‘this is the word of God for you.’ Now after him, the message becomes diluted again, and the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) comes and restores the message and puts it in its final form. Now it cannot be diluted because if it is diluted, people would be left without the guidance. This is why God has undertaken t preserve the Qur’an as he has not done with the previous books.”

There are many verses in the Qur’an that contradict the Islamic notion that God has preserved only the Qur’an.

Surah 5:47-48 (Malik) 47 Therefore, let the people who follow the Injeel (Gospel) judge by the Law which Allah has revealed therein; those who do not judge by the Law which Allah has revealed, they are the transgressors. 48 To you, O Muhammad, We have revealed this Book with the truth. It confirms whatever has remained intact in the scriptures which came before it and also to safeguard it. Therefore, judge between people according to Allah’s revelations and do not yield to their vain desires diverging from the truth which has come to you…

Here is Pickthall’s translation of verse 48: And unto thee have We revealed the Scripture with the truth, confirming whatever Scripture was before it, and a watcher over it. So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires away from the truth which hath come unto thee…

Compare Malik “whatever has remained intact” with Pickthall’s (Yusuf Ali’s translation is similar) “confirming whatever Scripture was before it” [the Bible – my square brackets].

By replacing the faithful translation of “confirming whatever came before it” (Pickthall and Ali) with the misleading “whatever has remained intact,” Malik misleads English speakers with words such as “whatever” (the leftovers?) remained intact (was left over after the Jews and Christians had corrupted there texts).

In the above passage it is Allah who revealed the Bible. Thus 1. Allah decreed that it be written, and 2. the Bible that Allah revealed was in possession of the Jews and the Christians at the time the above Qur’anic verses appeared. And these verses state that this Book/Scripture [the Qur’an]…confirms whatever came before it (Torah and Gospel).

But see Surah 3:84:

Say:”We believe in Allah and in what has been revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham Ismail, Isaac, ,Jacob and the Tribes, and in (Books) given to Moses Jesus and the Prophets from their Lord; we make no distinction between one and another among them and to Allah do we bow our will (in Islam).”

The Arabic does not have the words in brackets – in Islam. Pickthall’s translation omits these words because the last two Arabic words of the verse are ahu muslimoona, which means “to Allah we bow/submit/surrender our will.” Arabic Muslim/Islam means “surrender/submit.” Islam, in spite of what many Muslims assert, does not mean “peace.”

A Muslim would say that the words “make no distinction among them” in the above verse does not mean that all revelations from God are of equal worth but rather that all God’s prophets were of equally good character.

Regarding “what was revealed” (Surah 3:84 above), Shabir Ally and other Muslims believe that the Qur’an affirms the initial inspiration of the previous scriptures but not their preservation and authority. On the contrary, the Qur’an (7th century) affirms all three – inspiration, preservation and authority.

Surah 3:3-4

  1. He has revealed to you this Book with the Truth, confirming the scripture which preceded it, as He revealed the Taurat (Torah) and Injeel

  2. (Gospel), 4. before this, as a guidance for mankind and also revealed this Al-Furqan (criterion for judgment between right and wrong). Surely those who reject Allah’s revelations will be sternly punished; Allah is Mighty, capable of retribution.

David Wood points out that Muslims don’t believe that the Bible was preserved because they say it contradicts the Qur’an, for example, Jesus is the eternal Son of God; he died and rose from the dead. So, the Muslim reasons thus: the Qur’an affirms the inspiration of the Bible. They open the Bible and see it contradicts the Qur’an. Ergo, the Bible was not preserved but is corrupted. We saw, in contrast, that the Bible was preserved. If not, then Allah/Muhammad must be a fool.

Surah 7:157 says: “Those who follow the apostle the unlettered prophet whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures – the Bible); in the law and the Gospel; for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil: he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him honor him help him and follow the light which is sent down with him it is they who will prosper.” (The Jews and Christians mentioned above are those living in Muhammad’s time).

Muslims say Muhammad was prophesied in the Bible. I thought the Bible was corrupted, which implies that no one knows Arthur (or Muhammad) from Martha. Muslims will say that there are bits of Bible that were preserved; the bits that gel with the Qur’an.

Another verse – Surah 18:27 (Yusuf Ali)

And recite (and teach) what has been revealed to thee of the Book of thy Lord: none can change His Words and none wilt thou find as a refuge other than Him.”

So no one can corrupt the Lord’s (Arabic rabb) word. Is there any wiggle room left for the Muslim. Yes. He says “the Book of the Lord refers to different times and climes: “For each period Is a Book (revealed).” So, for thousands of periods and of specific groups, God revealed his word to thousands of prophets where the revelations were unique to that period/group/language. All were corrupted, says the Muslim, except the Qur’an. This means that Allah’s word has been corrupted more than anyone’s word in history. But as we see ad nauseam in the Qur’an, Allah says that no one can corrupt his word.

I turn to Christian Prince:

Here is a paraphrase of Christian Prince’s critique of Shabir Ally’s argument that the Bible has been corrupted by the Jews and the Christians.

In the Qur’an it says that Allah gave the Torah and the Gospel. Alas, he did not protect them. Muslims say that Christians and Jews corrupted the Torah and the Gospel. Is this true? According to Islam, yes – and no. “Because Islam is a stupid religion, says Christian Prince (CP), made by a stupid mental idiot, it contradicts itself.” CP is going to show that Shabir Ally, in trying to prove that the Christians and Jews corrupted their book, ends up proving the opposite. Someone will ask Shabir how the Qur’an was preserved. Because he is overconfident he makes statements that destroy what he is trying to prove.

Everything people do is according to a divine plan. The Muslims believe there is nothing out of the divine plan. The Bible, according to Islam, is God’s word, and, if God’s word, is eternal (like the Qur’an), and therefore it cannot be corrupted. Allah is the infallible guardian of his word, Shabir Ally says that Allah is the guardian and preserver of the Qur’an only, protecting it from all corruption. He tries to prove his point by quoting Surah 15:9:

The Reminder al-thikra

Asad: Behold, it is We Ourselves who have bestowed from on high, step by step, this reminder: and, behold, it is We who shall truly guard it [the Qur’an, from all corruption].

Malik: Surely We have revealed this reminder (The Qur’an); and We will surely preserve it Ourself.

Pickthall: Lo! We, even We, reveal the Reminder, and lo! We verily are its Guardian.

Yusuf Ali: We have without doubt sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (the Qur’an, from corruption).

Shabir Ally, and the four Muslim translators above, state that the “Reminder” in Surah 15:9 above refers to the Qur’an only, and so the Bible is excluded.

Christian Prince says surah 15:9 has nothing to do with the Qur’an. Not so fast; CP is trigger happy. A better approach is to ask Shabir, which CP then does, the question, “How do you know [the word “reminder” in] this verse has to do with the Qur’an? Let us examine, says CP, other verses where “reminder” appears. “Reminder” in surah 21:7 refers not to the Qur’an but the Bible.

Malik: The Rasools [Prophets] which We sent before you, O Muhammad, were also human to whom We sent revelation. If you, O objectors, do not know this, then ask the people of the reminder (Jews and Christians).

Revelation” refers to the “reminder” (the Bible) of the Jews and the Christians.

Asad: For [even] before thy time, [O Muhammad,] We never sent [as Our apostles] any but [mortal] men, whom We inspired-hence, [tell the deniers of the truth,] “If you do not know this, ask the followers of earlier revelation.” (Asad note: “Literally “followers of the Bible, which in its original, uncorrupted form represented one of God’s “reminders” to man”).

Malik: The Rasools [Prophets] which We [Allah] sent before you, O Muhammad, were also human to whom We sent revelation. If you, O objectors, do not know this, then ask the people of the reminder (Jews and Christians).

Pickthall: And We sent not (as Our messengers) before thee other than men whom We inspired. Ask the followers of the Reminder if ye know not?

Yusuf Ali: Before thee also the apostles we sent were but men to whom We granted inspiration: if ye realize this not ask of those who possess the Message.

Christian Prince points out that when these verses were “sent down” the Qur’an had not been completed yet. The Muslim might argue that the “reminder” (“message”), in this case, the Qur’an, can still be in progress, and therefore, not the finished product,

Surah 21:105 also refers to the Bible as the “reminder/message/revelation”:

Malik: We wrote this in The Zaboor (Psalms xxxvii, 29) after the reminder (Torah given to Musa): that as for the land, My righteous servants shall inherit it.”

Pickthall: And verity We have written in the Scripture, after the Reminder: My righteous slaves will inherit the earth:

Yusuf Ali: Before this We wrote in the Psalms after the Message (given to Moses): My servants the righteous shall inherit the earth.”

Christian Prince comments:

Allah made people responsible for protecting the bible. He found out (according to Muslims) he was wrong to do that, so never again. So he decided with the Qur’an that he would preserve it himself. Look how stupid, how silly this argument is. This Abdul is saying to us that Allah made a stupid decision, he trusted the rabbis, which means that Allah is not the almighty, because if the almighty is almighty, he should not trust someone who is corrupt. How do we know the rabbis are corrupt? Because the Muslims are accusing the rabbis of being corrupt. No decent man will corrupt his holy book unless he is corrupt himself, evil. Allah decides to correct it. So today (Allah says) I made a stupid mistake, and I promise you I will never do it again. I tried it once, I will never try it again. [Comment Allah, according to the Islamic literature tried it thousands of times in different times with different groups/languages]. This is the stupid logic of this religion called Islam. Can you find me anyone more stupid than Allah, because he is trusting the wrong ones to protect his book? And Allah is the one who is divine, and he (Shabir Ally) just said to us that no human being can do anything except from the plan of Allah. So how does this work? It’s stupid it’s funny, it’s dummy.”

I comment on CP’s last sentence: CP, like the majority of Christians, do not understand that owing to the fact that God is sovereign over everything, it follows that His decrees, even evil acts (such as the crucifixion) are compatible with man’s freedom, and thus man is responsible for the evil he does. (See more here: “We can’t let confusion get in the way of God’s decree: Response to a liberal Muslim”). With regard to the preservation/corruption of the Bible, the issue is that God (of the Bible) says (Isaiah 40:8) says: “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” And the (Muslim and Christian) Messiah says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

Alan Shlemon in his “Ambassador Guide to Islam” (pp.23-24) writes:

And Sayyid Ahmad Husayn Shawkat Mirthi notes how counterintuitive it is to claim that a religious community would knowingly corrupt their own scriptures. The ordinary Muslim people acknowledge that the Injil is the Word of God. Yet they also believe through hearsay (taqlidi ‘aqida) that the Injil is corrupted, even though they cannot indicate what passage was corrupted, when it was corrupted, and who corrupted it. Is there any religious community in this world whose lot is so miserable that they would shred their Muslim scholar Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub agrees. He doesn’t believe that Christians and Jews corrupted the Bible. Instead, he believes they misunderstood and misapplied it. Contrary to the general Islamic view, the Qur’an does not accuse Jews and Christians of altering the text of their scriptures, but rather of altering the truth which those scriptures contain. The people do this by concealing some of the sacred texts, by misapplying their precepts, or by “altering words from their right position” (4:26; 5:13, 41; see also 2:75).”

However, this refers more to interpretation than to actual addition or deletion of words from the sacred books. The Qur’an does not claim Jews and Christians corrupted the Bible. What it claims is that certain Jews and Christians distorted the meaning, interpretation, and application of their scriptures. The biblical text has remained the same prior to, during, and after the 7th century. Muslims who claim the Bible is corrupt either force the Qur’an into contradiction or worse, make Allah sound like a failure. The Qur’an assured Muslims in the 7th century that they could trust the Bible. If it was reliable then, it is reliable today. Here is a chart from Shlemon, p. 17.

shlemon chart

Yet another verse: “If you are in doubt regarding what We have revealed to you, ask those who have been reading the Book before you (Muhammad). In fact, the truth has indeed come to you from your Rabb: therefore, do not be of those who doubt” (Surah 10:94):

There are only two possibilities: the Bible is corrupted or not corrupted. If corrupted then Qur’an is wrong because it says the Bible is not corrupted. If the Bible is not corrupted then the Qur’an is also false and that score because it denies events in the Bible such as the death and resurrection of Christ.

Finally, Jesus says to the Jews, “unless you believe that I am (Greek ego eimi, Hebrew Yahweh) you will die in your sins.” He says this to Muslims, Jews and the rest of mankind.

So you wanna see Jesus. Are you losing it!

John 12

20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks (Greek-speaking Jews). 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

C.S. Lewis: Did God send His Son to shed His blood for my sins? A hell of a question.

Concerning hell, C. S. Lewis wrote, “There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power.” (C. S. Lewis, “The problem of pain”). J. D. Greear comments: “In many ways, I agree with him. No one, Christians included, should like the idea of hell. For years I’ve felt that if you were to give me a Bible, a divine eraser, and ten minutes, I would take hell out of the Bible.”

In the White Horse Inn podcast episode “Lamb of God Part 2” one of the participants quotes the same passage from Lewis, and comments:

The text is reality the same way the external world is for the physicist; it can’t be transcended. If we imagine that it can, then it is the one who rose from the dead who vindicates all his promises in the Old Testament scriptures and his promises to the not yet having been written new, who says “until someone else says that, you might as well listen to me.”

At that point, Michael Horton says “This is a great time to take questions.” Me, me, I have a question. “Onedaringjew, what’s it this time?”

I want to say that all of us here agree that the Bible is clear about hell, that it is eternal punishment. As our topic tonight is about blood atonement – the scarlet thread running through the whole Bible – the point we all want to emphasise today is that the texts in the Bible about the lamb who was slain as a propitiatory sacrifice, about the shedding of Christ’s blood for our sins, are as clear as the fact that there is no way we can hop over, or duck, or, to put it posh, transcend the physical world and say it does not exist outside our noggins. Except for idea-lists, of course.

Here’s a funny thing that C. S. Lewis said about the lamb that was slain, about the shedding of Christ’s blood says (in “Mere Christianity”):

You can say that Christ died for our sins. You may say that the Father has forgiven us because Christ has done for us what we ought to have done. You may say that we are washed in the blood of the Lamb. You may say that Christ has defeated death. They are all true. If any of them do not appeal to you, leave it alone and get on with the formula that does. And, whatever you do, do not start quarrelling with other people because they use a different formula from yours.”

No narrow formulas, says Lewis. Nor should we want a “cosy ecumenical love-in thing” (as someone said). Lewis, of course, indicates throughout his theological writings that this is the last thing he would desire. I wonder, however, whether this is exactly what Lewis has encouraged with his idea that substitutionary sacrifice (Lewis’ “washed in the blood of the lamb”) is merely an optional way of understanding the plan of salvation.

Lewis acknowledges the great influence of George MacDonald: “MacDonald rejected the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, and like many others, including Christians, believe that penal substitution, which involved the shedding of blood, was cosmic child abuse. MacDonald taught that Christ had come to save people from their sins, and not from a Divine punishment for their sins. (C. S, Lewis and the formula of “Christ’s blood shed for our sins.”

Lewis’s “optional formula” may not have found a way of transcending the text, or side stepping it; but definitely fudging it, or as Lewis might have objected, not definitely but “merely.”

Santa is coming tonight, but my stocking is already full

Santa is coming tonight. Mummy told me. Why is he coming ’cause my stocking is already full? He wrote me a letter and told me that he has to take some stuff out. Not only some stuff, but has to empty the stocking completely. He explained all to me in his letter: “your stocking is full of sin.” He is coming to take it out and put in the greatest present of all. He is going to make me like Him. Not exactly like him. That can never be, ’cause Santa is Santa three times over:

Santa, Santa, Santa is the Lord Almighty;
the Earth is full of his glory

(Isaiah 6:3)

Next morning

Mummy, Mummy, my stocking is full again.
He is born, he has borne my sin, I am born again.

Watch “The Biggest Scam In The History Of Mankind (Documentary) – Hidden Secrets of Money 4 | Mike Maloney” on YouTube

10 They close their hearts to pity;

with their mouths they speak arrogantly.

11 They have now surrounded our steps;

they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.

12 He is like a lion eager to tear,

as a young lion lurking in ambush.

13 Arise, O Lord! Confront him, subdue him!

Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,

14 from men by your hand, O Lord,

from men of the world whose portion is in this life.

You fill their womb with treasure;

they are satisfied with children,

and they leave their abundance to their infants.

15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;

when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness.

Psalm 17

Visions: why does God give them only to some?

 

Dozens of Muslims say that a vision of Jesus led them to Christian conversion. Most Calvinist Christians say that all these visions are delusions. With regard to conversion, a Calvinist believes that in conversion, one has to be raised from spiritual death (regenerated/born again) before one can or wants to believe in Christ as saviour. I hold the Calvinist view of conversion, which means the whole process of conversion is a sovereign act of God’s grace/mercy. An Arminian Christian friend to whom I tried to explain the sovereign grace of God in salvation sent me a link to a video of a Muslim, Afshin Javid, who came to Christ through a vision. After seeing the video, I believe Javid had a genuine experience of “I am the way, the truth and the life…I am Jesus Christ, the living God…” (Minute 9:30).

I asked my Arminian friend why does God give this vision to some but not to other Muslims? No answer. I said because God says, “I will have mercy on who I want to have mercy and compassion on whom I want to have compassion” (Exodus 33:19, Romans 9:15).She rebuked me, saying “It must be something else.” I left it there because I wanted to avoid yet another unpleasant confrontation. This difference in the nature of God’s sovereignty between Calvinists and Arminians shimmers through the whole of their opposing theologies, and consequently through every aspect of the way they pray, understand and communicate their faith.

I said to my friend that there are only two possibilities of why God gives only some Muslims a genuine vision of Jesus Christ: either God has mercy on them or He sees something good in them and consequently rewards them with a vision. My friend said that there might be a third reason. Most Arminians will say both of the following are true: there is nothing in them that can influence God to save them, AND – which seems to be this third thing my friend means – God has mercy on those who show a desire to be born again; which my friend says does not mean that they deserve to be saved. Odd. Regarding the desire to be saved, the Bible says that no one in their natural state can have the desire to be saved:

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:14). And – “5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8).

What pleases God most? To regenerate you (birth you again). The Arminian (Jacob Arminius), in contrast, says that the natural man can please God. Other Arminians, like my friend, would say that the natural ISH (“man” – Hebrew) “cannotish” please Him. (See The Arminian view of free will: Those who are in the flesh cannotish please God).

Christianity: Heavenly schmalz

I was speaking to a pastor, in my eyes and those of many many others devout and loving in so many ways. A large part of his ministry is comforting the dying and the bereaved. He also suffered terrible bereavement in his life, and is an example to us all of his courage. He told me of a woman who discovered she has cancer. She is responsible for many orphans. I asked the pastor whether the woman was a Christian and how old she was. He said she is a Christian and is 80 years old. I said, “What does it matter is she dies, she will be going home.” He asked what would happen to the orphans under her care. I said, as God was in control of everything and if she dies God has ordained it so. God will find someone else to look after her orphans. I asked, “Isn’t it your desire to go home to be with the Lord.” He replied that heaven was abstract, just an idea in the head.

Here are two verses of the popular song “How deep is the father’s love for us,” which he probably has sung in church at various times.

Verse 1

I just want to be where You are,

dwelling daily in Your presence

I don’t want to worship from afar,

draw me near to where You are

Verse 2

I just want to be where You are,

in Your dwelling place forever

Take me to the place where You are,

I just want to be with You

 just want to (wanna) be

I just want to (wanna) be with You

Here is a comment on a Youtube version of the song:. Lord take me to your home, I receive the anointing of the holy ghost. in Jesus name amen.

What does the “worshiper” think these words mean: “Take me to the place where you are, I just want to be with you?” The Bible says (many times in the letters of Paul) that to be a Christian is to be “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” Christians are born of God (born again), which entails that Christ lives – through the Holy Spirit – in them. So far, we are dealing with the notion to be “in Christ.” Once regenerated (quickened, raised to spiritual life), believers are enabled and therefore can choose the good things of God. If, though, believers don’t only want to be in Christ but also with Christ, that I would call radical radical Christianity. Radical Christianity is be consumed with living in and for Christ.; radical radical Christianity is “I want to be with Christ – and I want it now. Here is the Apostle Paul: Philippians 1:21-23 – “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.”

Jeremy Walker, in his “Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ,” explains the difference between being in Christ and with Christ, where “the anticipation of the dying saint” is to be with the Lord:

To lack food is terrible; to lack money is distressing; to lack health is miserable; to lack friends is tragic; but to lack Christ is to lack the greatest and most necessary good-it is the most awful situation imaginable. If we had Christ, all else could be borne, but to live and die without Christ makes any number of other blessings little better than dust and ashes in our mouths. Second, someone might be with Christ. If to be without Christ is the height of woe, then to be with Christ is the pinnacle of bliss, for this is the very joy and blessing of glory. To be “present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 528) is the heaven of heaven. There is no greater joy, no happier prospect, no sweeter moment than to have the eye actually rest upon the Lord Christ, the glorified Savior of sinners. This is the anticipation of the dying saint, the prospect for the resurrection that makes every other hint of the glory to come shine with golden light. However, if we are to be with Christ when we die or taken to be with Him when He returns, we need to bear in mind that no one will ever be with Christ unless they are first in Christ.”
(See I wanna be with you; but not yet).

If you are a Christian ask yourself whether you include yourself in the “we” below. If not your religion is schmaltz.

2 Cor 5

1 For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

“Not to follow my passion is suicide.” No, not to follow The Passion is.

Is it true that not to follow your passion – assume you have a passion, which many of those impressed by this advice, if they think deeply about, don’t really have – is suicide? “Suicide” in this context means, of course, ending in, as Freud would say, the trash can of your repressed desires: the sewer – sewerside.

In his ‘Follow your passion,’ is crappy advice. Joshua Fields Millburn interviews Cal Newport:

JFM: The advice often regurgitated throughout the Internet is simply, “You should follow your passion.” Why does this sound so appealing? Why is this bad advice?

Cal: It’s appealing because it’s both simple and daring. It tells you that you have a calling, and if you can discover it and muster the courage to follow it, your working life will be fantastic. A big, bold move that changes everything: this is a powerful storyline.

The problem is that we don’t have much evidence that this is how passion works. “Follow your passion” assumes: a) you have preexisting passion, and b) if you match this passion to your job, then you’ll enjoy that job.

When I studied the issue, it was more complex. Most people don’t have preexisting passions. And research on workplace satisfaction tells that people like their jobs for more nuanced reasons than simply they match some innate interests.

In Why ‘Follow Your Passion’ Is Bad Career Advice, Carolyn Gregoire writes:

Self-help books and career-building workshops love to peddle one secret to a successful career: Follow your passion. Ever since Confucius proclaimed, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” chasing one’s passion has been frequently served up as a quick fix for career happiness.

“Following your bliss” may be perfectly good (if a little hackneyed) advice, but when it comes to building sustainable success in your career, the answer might not be that obvious, according to Monique Valcour, a professor of management at EDHEC Business School in France, who has spent 15 years researching careers.

The ‘follow your passion’ self-help industry tends to under-emphasize this key point: all of the self-awareness in the world is of little use if you can’t pitch your passion to a buyer,” Valcour wrote in a recent Harvard Business Review blog. “A sustainable career is built upon the ability to show that you can fill a need that someone is willing to pay for.

With acknowledgment to Huffington Post.

With acknowledgment to Huffington Post.

Here is the kind of advice the above writers are bashing. The heading of the blog article is a quote from Kevin Claiborne: “‘Ignoring your passion is slow suicide. Never ignore what your heart pumps for.’ Chris Nicholas writes:

We should be living every day to the fullest. Regret should be just a word in the dictionary. But it never is. We humans are creatures of hindsight; we are forever bound to look back at moments and note missed opportunities and failures. Did you fail to chase your dreams? Or tell your lover how much they mean to you? Were you disappointed that you didn’t invest in those risky shares that ultimately paid huge dividends? No matter what you thought of in your moment of fear you did have regrets. At some point you settled for something other than your true passions and now when your life flashed before your eyes you wished you’d never been so foolish.”

The comment box was awash with empathetic comments. Examples:

I can definitely relate to this feeling. I was putting my passion on hold for too long. Great writing. Strong words.”

I read your column in the morning just before doing anything else. It really hits me. It woke me up. It made me think and brainstorm.”

And this one takes the CAKE: “Great post…You have TRULY been Heard!”

In contrast to all these endorsements, I asked the following questions on two occasions:

AUGUST 17, 2015 AT 8:08 PM

Chris Hi, Are there any wrong passions?

SEPTEMBER 13, 2015 AT 9:35 PM

Is it possible that following your passion could lead to suicide. As for death, it is indisputable, that following your passion has on many occasions led to death.

No reply.

None of the above writers – I would think – have paid any thought to the only passion that is of lasting value, of eternal value: The Passion; the Passion of the Christ, which has little to do with passion – human or divine passion. Follow The Passion – with passion (See my Christ’s passion: sufferings of every kind and Passivity and suffering in the Passion of the Christ.

Roman Catholic and Jewish faith: I don’t want to be alone

“I vant to be alone” – Greta Garbo

Regarding the relationship between faith and works, I received the following comment from a Roman Catholic in response to my Piggy-back into heaven: The Roman Catholic “Treasury of Merit.”

The only time in Scripture that the words “faith” and “alone” appear together is when James 2:24 says, “A man is justified by works and not by “faith alone.”
There is no other place in Scripture where these two words appear together. In fact Paul nor any other NT writer ever said, “We are justified by “faith alone.” Paul never uses the words “faith” or “only” in the same sentence either. Paul uses the word “faith” over 200 times in the Bible, but never with the word “alone.” So if James says, “A man is justified by works and not by “faith alone,” what do we do with this verse of Scripture? Do we just ignore it and continue on with what we want to believe, or what?

First let me shoo this canard away: “There is no other place in Scripture where these two words appear together.” And, where does the word “trinity” appear at all, never mind once, in the Bible. As for the assumption of Mary, and indeed the word “purgatory: – nada. That, of course, is not an issue with Roman Catholic theology for the reason that it posits two strands of divine revelation: scripture and tradition.

canard

Now to whether the concept of “faith alone” is in the Bible.

Romans 3:28

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.

The biblical view of “faith” is summed up in Ephesians 2:8-10 [my square brackets and italics]:

For by grace you have been saved through faith [in Christ]. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them [be faithful in them). (See Christian and Jewish faith)

But, if Pope Francis is your guide, why bother with the distinction between faith (in Christ) and works at all. Indeed, why bother about faith. Francis is famous for his loving kindness. It lies at the heart of Judaism, going back to Adam himself. The Jewish view is that as long as Adam was alive, God wanted to have an interaction with him. He knew that Adam had the capacity to sin, God knew it was going to happen. That was part of Adam’s struggle. That’s what God wanted. So after Adam made a mistake, God demanded him to love kindness. To love kindness, that’s a state of being that we have constantly to grow into. Adam could certainly have loved kindness more than He did. (Sin in Adam and his descendants).

According to the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the road to salvation is festooned with acts of loving kindness. It may be, said the Rebbe, your one tiny act of kindness that may bring Messiah (Moshiach). Pope Francis has much in common with Judaism, if not with the real Saint Francis: it’s all about loving kindness, says Pope Francis; salvation is all about loving kindness – good works. Justification (reconciliation with God) says Pope Francis, is no longer about faith AND good works, but solely about works – opera solum (if my Latin is any good). You can be an atheist, says Pope Francis, on condition that you’re good and kind. Well that is what I read on the internet, so it must be true.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – The Holy Father is full of surprises, born of true and faithful humility. On Wednesday he declared that all people, not just Catholics, are redeemed through Jesus, even atheists. However, he did emphasize there was a catch. Those people must still do good. In fact, it is in doing good that they are led to the One who is the Source of all that is good. In essence he simply restated the hope of the Church that all come to know God, through His Son Jesus Christ.”

The Vatican, it seems is alarmed, at best; no wonder, because Pope Francis is trashing Trent. Here is Trent:

Session 6, Chapter 8

[I)t is most truly said that faith without works is dead and of no profit, and in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth anything nor uncircumcision, but faith that worketh by charity [love].”

Here is how Pope Francis would, I suggest, rework Trent for the loving atheist:

It is most truly said that an atheist without works is dead and will remain dead….unless he worketh by love.” (See Atheism without works is dead, says Pope Francis: Who cares?).

As for the Apostle James’s “faith without works is dead”:

“[W]hen Paul says that a person is justified by faith without works (Rom 3:28), his context makes it clear that he defines faith as something more than passive assent to a viewpoint; he defines it as a conviction that Christ is our salvation, a conviction on which one actively stakes one’s life (Rom 1:5). James declares that one cannot be justified by faith without works (James 2:14)—because he uses the word “faith” to mean mere assent that something is true (2:19), he demands that such assent be actively demonstrated by obedience to show that it is genuine (2:18). In other words, James and Paul use the word “faith” differently, but do not contradict one another on the level of meaning. If we ignore context and merely connect different verses on the basis of similar wording, we will come up with contradictions in the Bible that the original writers would never have imagined. (“Biblical Interpretation” by Craig Keener).

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul writes:

4 As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3 It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4 that each of you should learn to control your own body[a] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5 not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; 6 and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. 7 For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8 Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit. 9 Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. 10 And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, 12 so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody. (See Faith and Jerks…).

So, are we justified by faith alone where works are its fruit, or we justified by faith and works? I think my Roman Catholic blogger needs to rework, if not reword, his comment. And if you want to eschew those canards, let context be your guide.

Understanding understanding: using your loaf

Whether you are an atheist, agnostic, Christian or whatever, you presuppose you are able to understand – at least this sentence.

In Christian apologetics, there are two main schools: the evidentialists and the presuppositionalists. Both agree that God gave us a loaf and expects us to use it, for you can’t assent to something that has not initially passed through your loaf. . They disagree, however, on how we go about using it. The evidentialist says there are three stages in coming to faith in Christ: 1. Information (notitia) 2. Intellectual assent (assensus) and 3. Trust (fiducia). The presuppositionalist agrees that you need all three. The two schools differ in the following regard. I use a verse from scripture to illustrate:

1 John 5:20
And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we know him who is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

The pesupposionalist says:

(Note: “This,” which begins the second sentence, refers grammatically to the immediate antecedent, namely, “his Son Jesus Christ.”

The reason we (Christians) understand his Son Jesus Christ to be the true God is because the Father decreed from eternity that we would understand it – providing us with the means of the three stages of notitia, assensus and fiducia.

How do I know that God decreed that some would use their loaf in the right way, how do I justify the presupposition that God decrees everything? You’re asking me to prove this presupposition. This presupposes that presuppositions can be proved. Atheists presuppose the “laws” of nature because, they say, THAT is the way nature has evolved; I presuppose the God of the Bible because the Bible says THAT is the way I was created.

Romans 1:14-21
I am debtor both to Greeks and to Barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith.
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; 19 because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: 21 because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened.

To put it gently, reject Romans 1,  you’re toast.

“I am determined to get well”: Yep, you are – to get well or not to.

“Happy enough is the man who is chosen of God; he may not ask a question as to when or where. Yet we could wish it were otherwise in our case, and that zeal and fervour were not restrained and hampered by being yoked to painful infirmities of the flesh. We could do more, and we think we may add, without self-confidence, we would do more, if we were not laid prostrate at the very moment when our work requires our presence. However, unto the Lord be the arrangement of our health or disease, our life or our death ; but while we live, we will leave no stone unturned for the increase of His glorious Kingdom “in the earth. Every interval of relief shall be laid out in His service. The time is short, it must therefore be spent all the more economically; the work is great, the Lord must be trusted the more simply.”

Excerpt from the Introduction by Thomas Spurgeon, son of Charles Spurgeon, of C. H. (Charles Haddon). “Autobiography of Charles H. Spurgeon compiled from his diary, letters and records by his wife and his private secretary.” Passmore and Alabaster, 1900. Free ebook https://archive.org/details/autobiographyofc04inspur.

One of my Christian relatives was in an accident and will be restricted in movement for a while. She feels, naturally, frustrated, and is determined to get well quickly. She is determined, but, as she is an Arminian (and thus has a thin understanding of the decrees of God), what she means by “determined” is not what the Bible means.

Christians of all stripes who know their Bible have a tendency to forget or no longer trust:

Romans 8:28
And we know that to them that love God all things work together for good, even to them that are called according to his purpose.

Or don’t understand or appreciate the reason for their existence:

Romans 8:38-39
38 I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The dying: Let them go gently into the night?

Christians, when last have you heard a sermon in your church about hell? If never, you have – although you might think not – been cheated, and your pastor will have much to answer for, even if at death he and you feel yourselves going gently into “that night.”

When I was living in England in a little hamlet, I attended briefly an Anglican church. After church, I was chatting with the priest who said he couldn’t talk long because he had to visit one of his dying parishioners. Being one daring you-know-what, I asked him what he was going to say to her. He replied “I meet her where she is at.” I asked whether he was going to find out if she was ready to die, that is, whether she was“in the faith.” He said, no, he tries to make them feel at peace. I ticked him off, and said, that a priest should do more than that. He scampered off. I am reminded of Mother Teresa who said that she helped her dying patients to reconcile with their gods, which any atheist would laud if not Lord.

In the biography Mother Teresa: Her People and Her Work, she is quoted by Desmond Doig as follows: “If in coming face to face with God we accept Him in our lives, then we are converting. We become a better Hindu, a better Muslim, a better Catholic, a better whatever we are. … What approach would I use? For me, naturally, it would be a Catholic one, for you it may be Hindu, for someone else, Buddhist, according to one’s conscience. What God is in your mind you must accept” (Doig, Mother Teresa, Harper & Row, 1976, p. 156). And in the April 7-13, 1990, issue of Radio Times tells the story of Mother Teresa sheltering an old Hindu priest.“She nursed him with her own hands and helped him to die and be reconciled with his own gods.”

And of Jesus Christ as the way the truth and the life; the saviour of the world? Not a word.

When Mother Teresa died, her long-time friend and biographer Naveen Chawla said that he once asked her bluntly, “Do you convert?” She replied, “Of course I convert. I convert you to be a better Hindu or a better Muslim or a better Protestant. Once you’ve found God, it’s up to you to decide how to worship him” (“Mother Teresa Touched Other Faiths,” Associated Press, Sept. 7, 1997).

I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic” (Mother Teresa’s A Simple path, p. 31).

(See Mother Teresa: The missing peace of the puzzle).

My friend, who does not believe in Christ, is dying. With so much killing going on in this wicked world, I need to remind myself that most of the more than 150 000 deaths during the last 24 hours occurred in a bed of some sort.

Most people, whether they believe they are going to heaven or not, fear death. Many put it this way: “I don’t fear death; I fear dying (in pain).” Then there are those who have had near-death experiences, often on an operating table, where they saw “this beauiful light,” and, as a result no more fear of death or judgment. Thank you my Angel of Light (Lucifer).

How terrifying for someone to fall into the hands of God; and what unutterable sweetness to fall into His arms.

We must, says Charles Spurgeon, be very earnest with our own hearts this morning, to discover, if possible, whether we come under the number of those whose warfare is accomplished, and whose sin is pardoned; or whether, on the other hand, we abide with the multitude on whom resteth the curse of God, and whose sins shall be discovered and punished by the right-hand of the Most High.” (A message from God to thee – Charles Spurgeon).

(See also “Death-bed memoirs: The hands and the arms of God”).

The Bible says (frequently in the letters of Paul) that to be a Christian is to be “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” Christians are born of God (born again), which entails that Christ lives – through the Holy Spirit – in them. Once regenerated (quickened, raised to spiritual life), believers are enabled and therefore can choose the good things of God. If, though, believers don’t only want to be in Christ but also WITH Christ, this means they want seeking a better place and can’t wait to get there. Here is the Apostle Paul: Philippians 1:21-23 – “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. But if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” 

(See Jeremy Walker, in his “Life in Christ: Becoming and Being a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ,” where he discusses the difference between being in Christ and with Christ, where “the anticipation of the dying saint” is to be with the Lord. See also “In Christ and with Christ: I wanna be with you-hoo-hoo.”).

We Christians should not fear suffering and death. Yet we do. But when we do,

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, For your sake we are being killed all the day long;  we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Another friend – contra Dylan Thomas, beseeched me to let my dying friend go gently into the night.

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Death-bed conversions: Lord, have mercy on my dying friend

Do the sick who are dying think more about their eternal destiny than do the healthy? Not at all. Death-bed conversions are as rare as hen’s teeth. “Rare” as hen’s teeth? Are there any hens with teeth. “If there are, you say, it must be a mutant.” True.

“If you thought hen’s teeth were the rarest thing in nature, think again: researchers from Britain and the US have succeeded in growing teeth in a chicken…And by studying a mutant chicken – which is too weak to hatch, explaining its rarity – the team has been able to stimulate “natural” tooth growth in chickens.”

A genetic mutation is “the changing of the structure of a gene, resulting in a variant form which may be transmitted to subsequent generations, caused by the alteration of single base units in DNA, or the deletion, insertion, or rearrangement of larger sections of genes or chromosomes.”

The Bible says that “if you live according to the flesh (your human nature), you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13). Everyone dies physically, but the death referred to here is an eternal death, an eternal living death.

Here is the context of this verse:

Romans 8
Life Through the Spirit

1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
3 For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man,
4 in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.
6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace;
7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.
8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.
10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.
11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.
12 Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation–but it is not to the sinful nature, to live according to it.
13 For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die;but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live,
14because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “”Abba,” Father.”
16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs–heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Future Glory
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

If you’ve never believed the above in the days of your health, it is unlikely that you will believe this on your death-bed. The only way anyone comes to believe in Christ is analogous to a genetic mutation – a rare bird indeed. In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

If this is true, why does the Bible also say that there are at least 100 million people in heaven. Well, that’s not relatively many out of a population of many tens of billions that will have populated the earth by the time Jesus returns.

But to return to our (relatively) rare mutant hens:

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Jesus speaking in Matthew 23:37).

Jesus is rebuking the Jewish leaders for preventing the people from coming to Him, but their efforts will be in vain. Those who come to (believe in) Jesus were given to Him by the Father before time began. And those who are given to Jesus will receive eternal life.

Matthew 23

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day.40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Do those whom Jesus saves cause this mutation within themselves? In other words did they decide to grow teeth, which enabled them to bite through their opposition to God-Christ? Of course not. It is Jesus who designs and engineers this spiritual mutation in human nature. It is He who enables those He saves to understand that “that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18 above).

“If your friend dies in her sins, you ask, why didn’t God show Himself to her?” Because, I answer, “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Romans 1:18).

If my friend understood the Bible, and trusted Jesus, she would be saved. You may ask “if those that the Father gives to Jesus before they were even born are the only ones that Jesus will give the desire to come to him, how can Christ blame your dying friend if she was not given to Jesus before she was born?”

Does my friend want to trust Jesus as her saviour? If yes, then she was given to Jesus by the Father. Therefore, no person that wants to trust Jesus will ever be excluded.

Lord Jesus, have mercy on my dying friend.

Will my prayer induce God to save my friend? Perhaps. It’s God’s business what he does with the means he has chosen (for example, prayer and the Bible) to fulfil his ends (salvation). He has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy.

You want nothing to do with a God like that, you say? Let every mouth be mute.

To live is Christ, to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).

Related: The Only Way to Live and Die
Speaker: Dr. Joel Beeke
http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=712151949551

Getting the wrong end of the stick: Who’s responsible

The evil powers is the only explanation of the world as it is today and has been through history. The greastest conflict in human history is the conflict between good and evil. The Bible is a record of that confict.

Ephesians 6

12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

Human history begins with the Fall of man. The world became the kingdom of satan, and satan became the god of this world. We are all born as children of wrath, slaves of the devil. Popular thinking ridicules this. The god of this world has increased the blindness. In this regard, I examine a few relevant biblical texts:

Matthew 13

10 The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”

11 He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. 12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

Though seeing, they do not see;
 though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

14 In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
 you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15 For this people’s heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

I isolate the verses in italics – Matthew 13:12-13, 16-19, and focus on the underlined words related to “understanding (seeing, hearing).”

12 Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 13 This is why I speak to them in parables:

“Though seeing, they do not see;
though hearing, they do not hear or understand.

16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. 17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart.

Commentary

Verse 12 – The one who has little understanding will have even less, and the one with much understanding will have more. Verse 16 – The disciples understood what the most exalted prophet or righteous person of the past had never understood. The disciples were “blessed” with this understanding, that is, it didn’t come from themselves but from God.

In Verse 18, “what was sown in the heart” the “evil one” snatches away? I understand this to mean that the devil steals what is little understood – “does not understand it” in verse 18. Recall verse 12 “Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.” The reason for this is that everyone born into this world is a child of God’s wrath; love it or hate it.

No one – who believes in the devil – will dispute the fact that his intention is to to steal and destroy “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). What might raise not a few hackles is that God (also) comes to kill and destroy. Our focus is on the destruction/obstruction of understanding. Here is Isaiah immediately after his devastating vision of the Lord:

Isaiah 6

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

9 He said, “Go and tell this people: “‘Be ever hearing, but never understanding;
 be ever seeing, but never perceiving.’ (Matthew 13 above quoted Isaiah 6:9).

10 Make the heart of this people calloused;
make their ears dull
and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
 hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts,
and turn and be healed.”

Above, I bracketed “also”: “God (also) comes to kill and destroy,” because God decrees/ordains all that comes to pass. Understanding (God decrees and all things) is of the Lord. And misunderstanding? This is of Satan, under God’s decree. The understanding of God’s sovereignty over both good and evil comes from God.

Two good resources:

Genesis 3 and the entrance of evil
http://www.oddinthetruth.com/genesis-3-entrance-evil/

Genesis 3 and the author of evil

http://www.oddinthetruth.com/genesis-3-author-evil-god-blame/

The significance of being a prosperous vile worm: A preacher at Whitney Houston’s funeral service

One Methodist pastor told me that sermons on sin were the old days and people need to be encouraged rather than be condemned. Besides, he said, many of his congregation are either elderly, sick or hurting in one way or another. What they needed was a boost of their image (not his exact words). They need to be told that when God looks at them, he jumps with delight (his words). (See And he opened to them the scriptures: a harsh sermon).

At the beginning of the sermon at the funeral service of Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church, Newark, Feb. 18, 2012, the “Prosperity Gospel” preacher started off by saying that he is going to preach the Gospel. Whoopee, that’s the stuff. Alas, he then said “Look at somebody and say ‘I’m significant.’” Yeah, you are so wonderful; that is why God saved you. Later on he said, “I don’t want anyone to leave here broke…You know there are lots of folks who say ‘I don’t believe in the prosperity gospel.’ I don’t know what other Gospel there is.” So God has a great plan for your life – to make it significantly prosperous – in the moola department – in front of Whitney’s coffin, who had it all. She got lost in the health and prosperity of it all. (See Wretched TV – With Todd Friel – Whitney Houston’s Funeral – Prosperity Gospel?

So, this asinine individual has told you that God has a great plan for your life. You poor sod. There was one “who was aroused to concern during his (Robert Murray M’Cheyne) sermon on “Unto whom coming as unto a living stone.” As he spoke of the Father taking the gem out of his bosom, and laying it down for a foundation-stone, she felt in her soul, “I know nothing of this precious stone; I am surely not converted.” This led her to come and speak with him. She was not under deep conviction; but before going away, he said, “You are a poor, vile worm; it is a wonder the earth does not open and swallow you up.”

If this wretched woman, who knew her spiritual poverty and thus nothing of this “precious stone,” is called “vile worm,” what shall we call this preacher for whom the Gospel was precious lolly. At best another “vile worm?”PREACHER WHITNEY HOUSTON FUNERAL

What happened after Robert Murray M’Cheyne called this woman a “vile worm?”

These words were blessed to produce a very awful sense of sin. She came a second time with the arrows of the Almighty drinking up her spirit. For three months she remained in this state, till having once more come to him for counsel, the living voice of Jesus gave life to her soul while he was speaking of Christ’s words, “If thou knewest the gift of God,” etc., and she went away rejoicing.” (The biography of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Andrew Bonar).

What was it that Whitney Houston, that prosperity pastor and those he preached to needed to know? The true Gospel of Jesus Christ, where we must, says Paul Washer, not begin with man but with “the character of God. Who is He? He is righteous God. Man is the complete opposite of righteousness.” “The most horrifying news according to the scriptures,” says washer, is that “God is good” and “we are not.” “The problem is this: if God is righteous he cannot pardon. His righteousness must be satisfied. I hear these evangelists say, ‘instead of God being just with you, he is loving.'”

Washer continues:

“God cannot lay down one attribute in favor of another. And so for God to pardon a wicked people, he must firsts satisfy the demands of his own justice. He must be appeased…In pagan religions, the deity demands that re people appease his wrath; in Christianity, this righteous God becomes a man, walks on this earth, lives a perfect life, the sins of his people are imputed to Him, and He crushed under the justice the people deserves. Our God appeased Himself. Our God satisfied His own righteousness on that tree. And that is why the Gospel is so splendid… (Jesus) was crushed under the wrath of God.”

And William Symington:

The Lord our God is holy. He is free from every vestige of moral pollution ; he delights in whatever is pure ; he hates whatever is of an opposite character. Now, sin is opposed to the holiness of God ; it is essentially impure, filthy, abominable. It follows that it is the object of his supreme detestation ; he is of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on iniquity. But how can this be made to appear, without the punishment of sin ? It is not enough that a penalty be annexed to transgressions, that a threat be appended to the violation of his law; if the penalty is not inflicted, if the threat is not executed, there is still room left to suppose that sin is not the abominable thing that was supposed; the blasphemous thought may nevertheless spring up in the bosom of moral creatures, that God, after all, approves of sin, and secretly connives at the commission of it. To vindicate the holiness of the divine character, the penalty annexed to disobedience must be executed. But its being executed on the transgressor is incompatible with the transgressor’s being forgiven. To the pardon of sin, then, consistently with the purity of God, the punishment must fall on the sinner’s substitute. In other words, the divine holiness proclaims the necessity of Christ’s atonement. Thus, and thus alone, can the sinner be saved without sin being palliated, or the perfect moral purity of the Holy One being sullied.”

Excerpt From: Symington, William, 1795-1862. “On the atonement and intercession of Jesus Christ.” New York : Robert Carter, 1847.

Only a remnant of modern professing Christians accept Washer’s and Symington’s words.

Related: Twisting God’s word: forgiveness and the sin nature Adrian Stanley, Helmut Thielicke, Joel Osteen and Rabbi Hirsch to the rescue.

Fear of others’ opinions

Fear of Man’s Opinion
BY J. C RYLE

“The fear of man” will indeed “prove to be a snare” (Proverbs 29:25). It is terrible to observe the power which it has over most minds, and especially over the minds of the young. Few seem to have any opinions of their own, or to think for themselves. Like dead fish, they go with the stream and tide: what others think is right, they think is right; and what others call wrong, they call wrong too. There are not many original thinkers in the world. Most men are like sheep, they follow a leader. If it was the fashion of the day to be Roman Catholics, they would be Roman Catholics, if it was to be Islamic, they would be Islamic. They dread the idea of going against the current of the times. In a word, the opinion of the day becomes their religion, their creed, their Bible, and their God.

Read on http://www.monergism.com/blog/fear-mans-opinion.

Abraham, a Christian? I’ll be stoned!

As many who read Christian blogs know “Christ” is English for the Greek “Christos, which is Greek for the Hebrew “Mashiach” (Messiah).

Muslims say Abraham was a Muslim. If you mean he submitted (Arabic “Islam”) to God, yes, he was. Jews say he is the father of God’s chosen people – the Jews. Yes, he IS. Abraham, of course, wasn’t Jewish, but a “wandering” (Deuteronomy 26:5).

So, how can Abraham be Christian, a follower of the Messiah – who, two thousand years after Abraham, took on flesh in Jesus? Because Jesus said so, and called those who disbelieved him – members of God’s chosen people – children of the devil.

John 8:46-59
Which of convicts me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? 47 He that is of God hears God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. 48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeks and judges. 51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom make thou thyself? 54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honourme; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Where did Abraham “rejoice to see my day, and saw it.” One place was:

11 And the ANGEL OF YAHWEH called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham! Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” 12 And he said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the boy; do not do anything to him. For now I know that you are one who fears God, since you have not withheld your son, your only child, from ME.”

John 8:51
Truly, truly, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.

Psalms 95:8-11
8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation,

and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me,

proved me, and saw my work.

10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation,

and said, It is a people that do err in their heart,

and they have not known my ways:

11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath

that they should not enter into my rest.

Are you for the most part in some misery?

The bruised reed is a person who for the most part is in some misery, just as those were who came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as its cause, for, whatever pretences sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken. He is sensible of his sin and misery, even to his bruising; and, seeing no help in himself, he is carried with restless desire to have supplies from another, with some hope, which raises him a little out of himself toward Christ, though he dare not claim to have gained any present interest of mercy. This spark of hope being opposed by doubts and fears rising from his corruption makes him like smoking flax; so that both these together, a bruised reed and smoking flax, make up the state of a poor distressed man. This is such a person as our Savior Christ terms “poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3), who sees his wants, and also sees himself indebted to divine justice. He has no means of supply from himself or the creature, and thereupon he mourns, and, upon some hope of mercy from the promise, and examples of those that have obtained mercy, he is stirred to hunger and thirst after it.

(Richard Sibbes, “The bruised reed”). Free PDF here http://www.onthewing.org/user/Sibbes%20-%20Bruised%20Reed%20-%20Updated.pdf

Joel Beeke: “What the Puritans Would Say to Theological Teachers and Pastors Today.”

Here is one of many wonderful messages by Joel Beeke: “What the Puritans Would Say to Theological Teachers and Pastors Today.” Date: 1/13/2014

http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=3171558328

How different the “asperity” (asp – snake) pastors/theologians – prosperity ones are one kind – infesting the world.

The text of the lecture appears in the Puritan Reformed Journal, p. 183 ff.

Click to access PR-Journal-6.1-final1.pdf

Headings

1. Invest Precious Time in Prayer.
2. Depend Radically on the Holy Spirit.
3. Embrace the Thorns of affliction.
4. Cultivate Personal Holiness (Professionalism is resumé-driven).
5. Digest the Bible one verse at a Time.
6. Feel the momentous dignity of ministry.
7. Love the Triune God and His People.

The last two are not in the PDF.

8. Focus on Jesus Christ.
9. Love and romance your spouse.

This advice is also for all Christians.

Brit Lesbian to American anti-LGBT, “I’ll pray for you.”

I’ve heard (North) Americans lamenting that Richard Dawkins can talk drivel but, with his posh Brit accent, melt any audience.

American monergist (Calvinist) James White and a British synergist (Arminian) church-planting “couple” (man and wife, for you moderns) were on either the “Unbelievable” show or the JanetMefford show, where the wife laced the conversation with mellifluous interjections “but James… (in a “my dear American boy, tone), which seemed, if not to deflate James, to unsettle him a tad. You know; it’s that colonial thing.

Then there was the encounter between American, Robert Gagnon and Brit, Jayne Ozanne, on a recent “Unbelievable” show (24 April, 2015). Blurb – “Prof Robert Gagnon has become a well-known voice advocating the traditional biblical view on sexuality. In a highly charged show he debates the scriptural issues on sexuality with Jayne Ozanne, the director of Accepting Evangelicals who came out as gay earlier this year.”

Indeed, a highly charged show. Ozanne said she would pray for Gagnon to see the light. The unbiblicality and effrontery of it all! But what made it worse – no, not a lesbian dressing down a man – was that stabbing colonial thing: “I’ll prrrray for you.”

Zorba the Greek goes to church: I have a right to be clean

When Zorba the Greek said: “Life is trouble. Only death is not. To be alive is to undo your belt and look for trouble” I don’t think he meant the best way to deal with a preacher who says wrong things is to whack him. I am sure that after a church service, many a preacher, when accosted by the roaming critic who ticks him off about something he said in his sermon, also wants to take off his belt and whack him one; but immediately thinks “that is not the way for a Christian to manifest the fruits of the spirit.” Guides have been written for preachers on how to deal with the post-sermon pain in the kneck.

Let me tell of one of these nuisances who attended a Methodist Church in a city he was visiting, Johannesburg.

After the sermon he introduced himself to the preacher/pastor, and after the exchange of a few sweet nothings, asked him about the line in “Bind us together,” the final song of the service, namely,

Verse 2 third line

Made for the glory of God
Purchased by His precious Son
Born with the right to be clean
For Jesus the victory has won

Pain – Surely everybody born into this world has not been born with the right to be clean.
Preacher – Perhaps it should say those who have been born again have the right to be clean. Let me see. (The song appears on the printed sheet he is holding). No, it does mean everybody without exception is born with the right to be clean. Look at the context. (He reads):

“Made for the glory of God
Purchased by his precious son
Born with the right to be clean.”

Pain(ful) – But surely not every one born into the world has been/will be “purchased by his precious son” (thinking to himself – all those God knows from eternity whom he has condemned to hell), because if Christ purchases, that is, pays with his blood to release everyone from bondage to sin, this means that everyone born into this world certainly is washed clean of sin, and will, logically, end up in heaven, whether they are born again (through grace by faith), that is, born of God or whether they are born of a husband’s will.

Preacher – I disagree with you (pointing to other people who wanted to speak to him).

Pained, I said goodbye and retreated.

Accosting a preacher-pastor straight after a church service – who is usually exhausted and sometimes, hopefully, wondering whether his sermon failed – is not exactly the most tactful or considerate thing to do. But what was I to do? Calvinists can’t help getting into a scrap, especially when so much scrap is flying around.

Remember another nugget (that could’ve come from) Zorba: no pain, no gain.

My faith, works and perseverance will get me to heaven. Amazing (grace?)

The Calvinist says that man plays no cooperative or contributive role in coming to faith, while the Arminian says that man cooperates with God in that man turns his heart to God, that is, exercises his will to come to faith. In Calvinism, God first regenerates the sinner and then gives the sinner the gift of faith, while in Arminianism, regeneration follows the sinner’s acceptance of God’s offer of salvation. Faith, for the Arminian is something the believer does, not something God gives, as Calvinism understands it.

Arminians maintain that the “elect” are sinners that God selected on the basis of God foreseeing from eternity that they would decide to choose to permit God to raise them from (spiritual) death. They love singing the song “Amazing grace (that saved a wretch like me).”

Would it make sense to tell the Arminian that the ultimate reason why people are not saved is because there is something bad in them (in their wills) that causes them to reject the Gospel, and so deserve damnation? Of course it would make sense; it’s clear as day. What about people who are saved? What is the final clincher in God’s decision to save them. For the Arminian – there is no escaping the logic: the clincher is their decision – something in them, something good in them.

(See WHY DO MOST CHRISTIANS CALL GRACE (THAT SAVES) AMAZING? THEY CAN’T SEE THAT IT IS THEY WHO ARE).

John Girardeau (Arminianism and Evangelical Calvinism) explains Arminianism in a manner I wish I could:

“It is out of accord with Scripture in regard to the ultimate end of election. It admits that the proximate end is salvation; but it is logically bound to deny that the ultimate end is solely the praise of God’s grace. For, the praise is due to grace for the provision of the means of salvation, and it is due to the elect themselves for the free determination of their own wills to employ those means. God does not determine the sinner to use the means; the sinner determines himself. He may be grateful for the provision of the means, but gratitude for electing grace would have no ground. His faith, good works and perseverance bring him to heaven, but they are not grounded in or due to election: it is conditioned upon them. He could not sincerely praise the grace of God for bringing him to heaven: he could only praise it for affording him the means of getting there.”

Born foolish: A Hebraic view

I distinguish between the biblical (Hebraic) view and the rabbinical (Judaism) view. The rabbis do not accept that born foolish leads to the inability to please God, and to destruction. Now, to it.

We are born, we are fools, we are born fools.

Proverbs 22:15 – Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him.

Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Genesis 8:21 – … the inclination (yetser) of man’s heart is evil (ra) from his youth.

And if course, the famous Jeremiah 17:19 verse: The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick: who can know it?

Sick = foolish, despising instruction, despising authority.

So, how can we then blame the child! I’m stumped; but if the perfect and just God said it, then it is so, and remains, at least while we’re in this world, his secret:

Deuteronomy 29:29 (29:28 Hebrew Bible) – The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Deuteronomy 32:4-5 – The deeds of the [Mighty] Rock are perfect, for all His ways are just; a faithful God, without injustice He is righteous and upright. 5 Destruction (corruption) is not His; it is His children’s defect you crooked and twisted generation.

Rashi’s commentary of the above:

Destruction is not His: Heb. שִׁחֵת לוֹ לֹא, [to be understood] as the Targum renders it: חַבִּילוּ לְהוֹן לָא לֵהּ,“Destruction is theirs, not His!”

“Corruption” is perhaps more accurate than “destruction.” There is a sense in which destruction is rooted in man and thus is his responsibility; and a sense in which destruction is ordained by God:

Deut 6:14-15 – Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Deut 7:2-4 – And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor show mercy unto them. Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy THEE suddenly.

Deut 32:21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation…Deut 32:25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.

Sometimes God gives up the disobedient to their own lusts:

Psalms 81 – 10 I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it. 11 But my people would not hearken to my voice; and Israel would none of me. 12 So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels.

And sometimes God turns them away from their lusts towards Him, but only when they realize they are unable to turn to God because they are dead in their sins:

Psalms 80 – Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself. 18 So will not we go back from thee: quicken us (bring us life CHAYA), and we will call upon thy name. 19 Turn us again, O Lord God of hosts, cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved.

Impending: The Supreme Court’s decision on homosexual marriage, the persecution of faithful Christians, and the doom of their persecutors.

Rick Philips writes:

“As the Supreme Court deliberates on the question of homosexual marriage, American Christians are bracing for a level of government persecution yet unknown to us. The fear is that with homosexuality declared a constitutional right, opposition will officially be akin to racism. Under such a ruling, Christian institutions who refuse to grant homosexual rights may be subjected to official oppression and lose their tax exempt status as non-profit institutions. Even churches may lose their tax-free status if they refuse to permit marriages between two men or two women. This would deal a heavy financial blow and may be a precursor to the removal of our religious freedoms, so that public speech against moral perversion becomes a crime punishable by fine or imprisonment.

Christians who know the book of Revelation will notice a striking parallel between this potential situation and that which Jesus described to the church of Smyrna in Revelation 2:8-11. This ancient city was a jewel on the Aegean Sea, the chief city of the Roman province of Asia. With over 200,000 residents, it was noted for its historical loyalty to the Roman empire. In the year 26 a.d., the city even competed for and won the honor of erecting a temple to the emperor Tiberius and was famed for its commitment to the Roman imperial cult. As such, the church there was vulnerable to the persecutions that the emperor Domitian was about to unleash on those who would not bow to his supposed deity.”
– See more at: http://www.reformation21.org/blog/2015/04/will-the-american-church-be-a.php#sthash.BafpJ18d.dpuf

Deathbed memoirs: the hands and the arms of God

With so much killing going on in this wicked world, I need to remind myself that most of the more than 150 000 deaths during the last 24 hours occurred in a bed of some sort.

“Few things are more interesting than deathbed memoirs. They interest every reader, because they speak of a period at which all must arrive, and afford solid ground of encouragement to survivors to expect the same or similar support and comfort when they come to die.” (William Cowper).

Read:http://www.swcs.com.au/uploads/Dying_Hours_of_Good_and_Bad_Men_Contrasted_by_D_P_Kidder.pdf

How terrifying for someone to fall into the hands of God; and what unutterable sweetness to fall into His arms.

“We must be very earnest with our own hearts this morning, to discover, if possible, whether we come under the number of those whose warfare is accomplished, and whose sin is pardoned; or whether, on the other hand, we abide with the multitude on whom resteth the curse of God, and whose sins shall be discovered and punished by the right-hand of the Most High.”

A message from God to thee – Charles Spurgeon

Here is an excerpt on Adoniram Judson, the missionary to the East:

Though he grew up in a pastor’s home, Judson walked away from the truth as a young man, only to be recovered in a dramatic fashion. John Piper details this part of Judson’s life in his book Don’t Waste Your Life:

What his godly parents did not know was that Adoniram was being lured away from the faith by a fellow student named Jacob Eames who was a Deist. By the time Judson’s college career was finished, he had no Christian faith. He kept this concealed from his parents until his twentieth birthday, August 9, 1808, when he broke their hearts with his announcement that he had no faith and that he wanted to write for the theater and intended to go to New York, which he did six days later on a horse his father gave him as part of his inheritance. . . .

[Some time later, Judson] stayed in a small village inn where he had never been before. The innkeeper apologized that his sleep might be interrupted because there was a man critically ill in the next room. Through the night Judson heard comings and goings and low voices and groans and gasps. It bothered him to think that the man next to him may not be prepared to die. He wondered about himself and had terrible thoughts of his own dying. He felt foolish because good Deists weren’t supposed to have these struggles.

When he was leaving in the morning he asked if the man next door was better. “He is dead,” said the innkeeper. Judson was struck with the finality of it all. On his way out he asked, “Do you know who he was?” “Oh yes. Young man from the college in Providence. Name was Eames, Jacob Eames.”

Facebook and the resurrection

None of Christ’s disciples were expecting Jesus to rise from the dead. The Jewish leaders believed more in that possibility – what irony!; they had Roman soldiers guard the tomb. If there is anything on facebook that is crucial to your life – and death, it is the fact of the Resurrection.  At the end of your life you will be faced with two books – Facebook and the Book that will show the face beneath.  Here is Richard Ganz on the Resurrection.
http://richardganz.com/the-certainty-of-the-resurrection-of-jesus-christ-from-the-dead/

How a Jew makes it to heaven. Or anyone, for that matter

The history of Israel (God’s “first-born” and unique son) is something like this: He ( Israel) is self-willed and with a strong desire to be free to do as he pleases. As a result he nurtures and cherishes the desire to be his father’s enemy. The father desires to rebuke and correct his son. Alas, this affection angers the son and causes him to become more stiff-necked and distant. The son’s aversion grows so strong that he comes to see his father as a bully and a tyrant.

The son’s hatred grows so strong that the mere thought of his father makes him ill. His hatred is exacerbated by those of similar dispositions around him. No matter how much the father pleads and tries to show kindness, the son spurns this love. “Tonight, I’m going awhoring.” Suppose that this enmity continues for months, for years. Do you think the son is able, in a moment, or at any time of his choosing, to turn this ill-will into a godly sorrow and a desire to repent and be reconciled to his father? His father has been pleading with him. “Take out you heart of stone, and replace it with a heart of soft warm flesh.” Or to say it another way: “Circumcise your heart.” “After all, the father says, what I want you to do is not on Mars or under the sea; it’s as close to you as it can get.”

The son is do deep in the mire (“second nature”) of self-love and enmity towards his father that he is unable to change AND doesn’t want to change. Do we exonerate an inveterate criminal because he can’t help doing what he loves doing? No. A large part of the history of Israel is like that of an inveterate criminal. The father alternates between pleading “why won’t you turn?” and venting his hot anger by inflicting the ultimate punishment – mayhem and destruction. The son was unable to change yet was exceedingly culpable – to the point of near annihilation.

This is not the end. If it were, what a sorry tale that would be. The father decides to have mercy on a remnant, so that a stump of a stump of his son remained. And not because of anything good he saw in them.

Renewed Garden of Eden

Jossl – Issy, how did you manage to make it, you were such a schmoozer?

Issy – To you yes. But our father sees more than you can see, and so he saw that I was basically a good sort underneath.

Jossl – Shucks, you’re far better than I. I was the biggest ganef (thief) on earth, right down to my socks.

Issy – How can that be! How did you get in, then?

Jossl – Simple, for our father. He said he was going to circumcise my heart, and so here I am. You never believed the scriptures.

Issy – No, I do; you’ve got it all wrong; he said you must circumcise your own heart.

Jossl – But later father said, “I will circumcise your heart.”

Issy – Oh. So I suppose a bit of both. You circumcise a bit of your heart – the big bit? – and father will circumcise the other bit.

Jossl – Did you read that in the Talmud? The way I see it, now that father has opened my eyes, when he says he will do something he means HE will do it – ALL; especially when he goes on about it: ” I will…I will…I will…I will…” Amazing! Hey, you know what’s also amazing?

Issy – What?

Jossl – That He saved a chochem (wiseacre, idiot) like you.

Can you suffer for my sake?

Jason Helopoulis’s “Rejoice in suffering” contains much of value. There is, however, one thing he says that reminds me of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the “Treasury of Merit,” which teaches that the overflow of the sufferings of Mary and the “saints” are stored up and applied to “indulgences.” Helopoulis uses Colossians 1:24 as a key text. Later, we shall see how others interpret this text.

Here is Helopoulis: (I have italicised the salient portion).

Benefits Others

“We can also rejoice in suffering because of the benefit it has for others. One of the most curious texts in the Scriptures is Colossians 1:24 when Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh, I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church…” Paul is rejoicing in his suffering, because it is not only a benefit to himself, but also to others. Paul is alluding to the fact that the Church must endure a certain measure of suffering before the return of Christ. This suffering has been appointed by God and He has determined its breadth and depth. It appears to be a set and fixed amount and Paul is fulfilling some of this appointed suffering. And any suffering that he can endure lessens the amount left for the rest of the body of Christ. I have often found this truth to be comforting in the midst of trial. My suffering is not just for me, it is also for others. There is an unseen benefit that is accruing for the entire body of Christ. The rest of the Church will suffer less as I endure this trial for the glory of God.”

Here is the Roman Catholic view

The merits of Christ, since they are infinite, comprise most of those in the treasury of merits. By applying these to believers, the Church acts as Christ’s servant in the application of what he has done for us, and we know from Scripture that Christ’s work is applied to us over time and not in one big lump (Phil. 2:12, 1 Pet. 1:9).

“But what about the merits of the saints—by the doctrine of indulgences aren’t the saints made co-saviors with Christ?”

Not at all. At best they would only be saving us from temporal calamities, which any human may do (and should do!) for another without blaspheming Christ.[19] Besides, the saints have the ability to please God because the love of God has been put in their hearts (Rom. 5:5). It is God’s grace that enables them to please to him. His grace produces all their good actions, and his grace is given to them because of what Christ did. The good actions of the saints therefore are produced by Christ working through them, which means Christ is the ultimate cause of even this temporal “salvation.” “Should we be talking along these lines? Isn’t it better to put all of the emphasis on what Christ alone?”

No. If we ignore the fact of indulgences, we neglect what Christ does through us, and we fail to recognize the value of what he has done in us. Paul used this very sort of language: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col. 1:24).

(Jim Aiken “A Primer on Indulgences”).

And a Protestant view:

Fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ (Colossians 1:24).

Paul does not here claim for himself extra merit, to be placed in the “Treasury of Merit” for the assistance of souls in purgatory. He was writing from prison, where he was suffering for preaching the Gospel which his Lord had provided at the cost of His sufferings on Calvary. The Lord Jesus had told His disciples that they would be hated of all men for His name’s sake, and so indeed it came to pass, with them and with Paul. (See II Corinthians 11:23-28 where Paul recalls the suffering he had already endured as a preacher of the Gospel).

(“Against indulgences: Roman Catholicism In the Light of Scripture,” Chapter 15, by F. C. H. Dreyer and E. Weller

I suggest John Gill says it best.

for his body’s sake, which is the church;

not in the room and stead of the church, and people of Christ, as were the sufferings of Christ personal; or to exempt them from sufferings who all have their share in this life; nor for their sins to make reconciliation for them, and procure the remission of them; nor to redeem them, or obtain salvation for them, all which is completed by Christ; but for their good and profit, that the Gospel might continue and be blessed to the conversion of many, for the increase of the church and additions to it, and for the furtherance of the Gospel, and that such who professed it might be established and confirmed in it, by the sufferings of the apostle for it: and such good effects did follow upon his sufferings and afflictions; they were for the consolation of many souls, the strengthening of weak believers, and causing even preachers of the Gospel to wax more confident, and more boldly preach the Gospel without fear of man.

The Torah and the Qur’an for preschoolers

I compare briefly the basic principles of  the Jewish Talmudic view of scripture, the Islamic view of the Qur’an, and the prevalent Western secular view of Islam.

The Torah

What is most important in textual interpretation should be context, that is, a single context – the grammatical-historical (surface) context. The surface text of scripture, namely, its normal linguistic and communicative properties, should be the best guide to its meaning. There are, of course, parts of scripture where the surface text is a hard nut to crack; for example, some of the visions of Ezekiel and parts of the book of Revelation. Those who believe scripture is God-breathed (theopneustos – breathed out by God; divine “expiration”) also believe that there are no deeper meanings lurking below the surface text. So, if one differs in the interpretation of a text, the interpreter is at fault.

In contrast, Rabbi Akiva Tatz  says in one of his lectures, “any six-year-old can understand” the Written Torah. Orthdox Judaism generally believes that one has to enter the pardes (the deeper levels) of Torah to derive any lasting good. These deeper levels are not found in the Written Torah, but in the Oral Torah, which for some Jewish movements is not found deep in the Written Torah but above and beyond it. For Tatz, Kabbalah (means “received”) is the apogee of Oral Torah. It is not always, or perhaps not even often, the case that the Oral Torah and the Written Torah complement each other. Often it is rather that the Written Torah implements what the Oral Torah dictates it to mean. For Tatz, it is the Kabbalah  that dictates the meaning of Oral Torah (See  Christian slave learns Midrash magic, The slaughter of scripture: Let his blood be on us and our children and The Written and Oral Torah: Which is Primary?

Islam and the Qur’an

Islamists (those who know and believe what is written in their texts) say, perhaps not in so many syllables, the Qur’an can be gobbledygook by itself – in Arabic and translation. Anyone who has read the Qur’an – in Arabic or translation – should agree with this view , if not heartlily. In contrast to the Torah or the Bible as a whole, there is no historical context in the Qur’an neither any meaningful connection between chapter and verse. Islam relies on the Hadiths to explain the Qur’an. The Hadiths are a vast collection of the purported deeds and sayings of Muhammad.

There are bits in the Qur’an – for example “kill” doesn’t mean “kiss” –   that any preschooler can understand. For example, after you explain what idolatory, beleagure, and Zakat, Surah 9:5 is a piece of cake- And when the forbidden months have passed, kill the idolaters wherever you find them and take them prisoners, and beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they repent and observe Prayer and pay the Zakat, then leave their way free. Surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful.

Here is one Muslim’s “proof” that anti-Islamists use this verse to malign Islam: “The verse does not say infidels it says idolaters.” Duh. Merci beaucoup for nothing, says the Great Satan. Which takes us West.

Secular West and Islam

Western politicians and the intelligentsia, for example, in the land of free, are abysmally ignorant of the Qur’an; they swallow everything the Islamophiles feed them. For example, one of many lies is that Muslims don’t hate Jews; all they want is an equitable solution to the Israeli-Arab question. The truth is that Islam’s hatred of Zionism and the Jews are two edges of the same sword. The Imam of the Al-Haram mosque in Mecca, Sheikh Abd Al-Rahman Al-Sudayis, said in one of his sermons:

“Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil forefathers of the even more evil Jews of today: infidels, falsifiers of words, calf worshippers, prophet murderers, deniers of prophecies … the scum of the human race, accursed by Allah, who turned them into apes and pigs … These are the Jews – an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption …”

The intense Islamic hatred of the Jew did not originate with the Declaration of the State of Israel in 1948, but with “Allah.” In three places in the uncreated, eternal Qur’an, Allah calls Jews monkeys and/or pigs. For example: Surah 2:65 “And you know well the story of those among you who broke Sabbath. We said to them: “Be apes—despised and hated by all” (Trans. Maududi).”

(Islamic Jew-Hatred: It’s in the Qur’an).

When it comes to Islam, Western leaders and journalists are delusional. Here is another bit of hilarity from David Wood – “Pop Quiz for Potential World Leaders.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXGFQ8TKzZ8&feature=youtube_gdata_player

The Arabic Issa (Jesus) in the Qur’an: Shouldn’t he be a woman, a Hebrew one?

Michael Heiser is a very good Hebrew scholar. I thank him for his profoundly interesting series on the “Two powers” in the Hebrew Bible (The LORD and THE ANGEL of the LORD). What I want to touch on briefly here is the origin of the Qur’anic name for the Hebrew “Yeshua” (Jesus) with a little (unwitting, if not witty) help from Heiser.

In one of his replies to questions on his blog, he corrects one person referring to Yeshua as Yahusha: “… there is no such word as “Yahusha” in Hebrew. Israel’s Messiah was named “Yeshua” – that is the Hebrew word, if you can read Hebrew; or better yet “Eshoa” if you want to get real technical, since the everyday language and therefore naming-process was in Aramaic.” http://michaelsheiser.com/TheNakedBible/bible-versions/

In the Qur’an, Yeshua is called Issa. Critics have pointed out (for example, Sam Shamoun of answeringislam.org that he doesn’t know where Allah/Muhammad got Issa from, because, Shamoun says, the Hebrew is Yeshua; and the Arabic for Yeshua would be a close equivalent and not anything like Issa. For one thing Arabic would not drop the initial consonant. The Aramaic “Eshoa” set me thinking. Muhammad had contact with the Eastern Syrian church whose Bible translation was in Syriac, a language similar to the Aramaic of Palestine. Actually the more accurate Syriac pronunciation of the Hebrew equivalent Yeshua seems to be “Isho.”

Ergo Isho (Syriac) -> Issa (Qur’an).

Now for proof that the Qur’an is divinely inspired or that Muhammad had a hearing problem:

If it was revealed or if he had heard the name “isha” instead, which is much closer to Issa, it wouldn’t look good calling Yeshua a woman (“isha” in Hebrew). Besides, Arabic is the eternal language of Allah. Also, with a name like Isha, Issa would only be half the man the Qur’an describes, because in Islam the witness of one woman is worth half a man’s.

Can you see it: Isha – “Go into half the world and bear witness to half the good news.”

Inerrancy Summit Mark Dever’s Session: Psalms 119

I think jay Smith very good on Islam. What he said, however in a debate with Shabir Ally on scripture I didn’t find that hot.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSj0sIr1OmY&feature=youtube_gdata_player

He said that the Bible is not the Word of God, Jesus is. Smith says that the Bible is the record of the person, the  Word of God. That is no way to defend scripture. Yes, there are textual variants and linguistic errors in the thousands of documents we have of the NT, but Smith’s way of brushing them off is not the way to go.

Here is Mark Dever on scripture.

The Domain for Truth

Note: The following are rough notes from the conference.

Mark Dever Shepherds conference

We sometime need to unpack what it means when we say that the bible is true?

Issue: translation, transmission, truth content (teaching)

We want to get to the issue of its teaching

4 questions to help understand God’s Word:

1.) What is God’s Word?

2.) What is God’s word like?

  • True (v.142)
    Good (v.68)
    Ancient (v.152)
    Unchanging (v.160)

Note God’s word is like this because He is like this

To attack the word of God is to attack God

3.) What does God’s word does?
Studying God’s word should not make us morally indifferent
Sir us to holiness? (V.102)
Note if Jesus use the Scripture in temptation why would we think we need it less than Jesus?
Rejoice (v.65)
Understanding (v.105)
Answering prayers (v.66)
Give life!

If God is speaking why would we not read it?

4.) How do we respond?

View original post 36 more words

Isis has nothing on the Abortion mills of america

Open air preaching at the Auschwitz of New Jersey?

James White writes: Robert Parker and myself alternated open air preaching at Englewood’s “Women’s Center” (aka the Auschwitz of New Jersey). This mill kills more babies than any other abortion mill in New Jersey. Many women walked in with tears or they just had a somber face. And when they walked out of the mill most of them looked liked zombies. We know why. They know deep down they have committed an evil act against the holy One. God has given each one of them a conscience, though they try to suppress this knowledge. Incidentally, there were Roman Catholic women there who were an obstruction to our gospel proclamation, by handing out rosaries and telling people not to listen to us. Rome’s false gospel will also perish in the day of wrath, along with those who place their hope in its deception.”

The Roman Catholic talks to the security guard about a play she saw (about killing babies?).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_v8kIOO2Mds&feature=youtube_gdata_player

Belief and reason: What has Athens (Plato) to do with Jerusalem (Isaiah)? Stacks

A Jew called Concerned Reader asked me on another blog: “Shouldn’t faith be reasoned, and based on a comprehension of the covenant G-d made with Israel? As opposed to just a belief?”

Let’s consider reason without bringing God or religion into it. It is not, logically, possible to use reason to prove that it is rational. Without faith/trust in your reason, you end up in an unreal, relative, random, nonsensical universe. Most human beings refuse to accept this logic. An illogical person will say he reasons well without having faith in his reason.

With regard to the relationship between reason and belief in the God of the Bible (Tanach and New Testament), this God chooses to reveal Himself to humanity. As with Abram, so with every one who accepts God. God of his good pleasure sovereignly, therefore, unilaterally, chose to reveal himself to Abram. No one knows why he revealed himself to Abram, to his progeny and later to the Israelites, or to any one else. “And the LORD said, ‘I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the LORD, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion’” (Exodus 33:19).

In the scriptures, reason (thought) is the tool God gives us to understand WHO He is; not THAT he is (exists). The revelation at Sinai was a special gift of God’s generosity (mercy, grace) revealing what reason couldn’t discover. The first verse of Genesis says “In the beginning, God…” God’s existence in the Bible is a given (not a “taken”).

The following sounds crazy to most Jews. “I believe that I may understand” (Augustine of Hippo). The Hebrew prophets, indeed, all godly people in the Tanach, would agree with Augustine.

Jews have too much faith in their reason. Many of them believe that reason is all they need to find God. They want to be Jewish Platos (chollile), when in fact they are, as the Tanach emphasises play dough – not play things – in the hand of God.
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Yes, Christ came to save the lost. But which ones?

I was telling a fellow Christian of my visit to an elderly man, a frequent church-goer, whom we both knew, who had collapsed twice in the last month, and was recovering at home. He was doing well and walking about. I spoke to him about such things as this world was not our home, and about judgment. My fellow Christian said to me he’s a simple person and wouldn’t understand. My fellow Christian does not understand who Christ came to seek. Yes, we know it was the “lost” but then everyone is lost, and Christ only came to seek those whom his Father gave him before the world began, and those whom the Father enabled to believe. Not so?

John 6

37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”… 65 He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”

Who were the ones given to the Son? They were the fools, the weak, the lowly, the despised, the nothings of this world. Unless you felt like this before you believed, and continue to feel so, it is certain that you’re not one of the lost Christ came to seek and died to save.

1 Corinthians 1

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

The ten most beautiful Jewish words in the New Testament: Let his blood…

Ann Barnhardt, a Roman Catholic, says there are “the ten most beautiful words” in the New Testament that should be music to Jewish ears. Instead, thanks to stupid Christians, she says, Jews execrate this verse.

In the first part of her Boston speech, she says (video minute 8:14):

“Now to the ten most beautiful words in the New Testament. Every Jew watching this has heard these words and shudders every time they’ve heard them. These ten words have been twisted by stupid, ignorant people, who justify horrific acts of evil against the Jews for 1978 years and counting, And many of these people will claim to be pious Christians. Well, we’re going to fix this deal once and for all. The ten most beautiful words are: “Let his blood be on us and upon our children.” These are the ten words shouted by the Jewish crowd as Pontius Pilate was sentencing Jesus. I day these words internally at every Mass because these are the words that give hope to humanity. These are the words tht open the gates of heaven. These are the words by means of which our salvation is accomplished….”

Continues into Part 2

[Words in square brackets are mine].

“…at every Mass, the temporally [in time] transcendent sacrifice at Calvary, which is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ himself, which is re-presented [NOTE not “represented”] to God the Father by the power of God, the Holy Ghost. This is accomplished through the transubstantiation of bread and wine as prefigured by the priestly kingdom of Melchisedech in Genesis Chapter 14. This sacrifice is the Todah sacrifice of Israel, which is the only sacrifice to be offered in the post-messianic age and do all eternity according to ancient rabbinic teaching. The Todah sacrifice is the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The word “thanksgiving” in Greek is (pause) “Eucharist.”

I won’t comment on Barnhardt’s “Todah” reference but on what should be the “ten most beautiful words” for Jews. It is difficult to see how one confining oneself to the context of the passage in which “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children” appears can interpret this to mean a blessing, the greatest blessing!, for the Jews. Surely, the Jews who said that couldn’t have meant that sending Jesus to crucifixion was the answer to all their sacrifices and prayers.

Roman Catholicism, because of its belief in extra-biblical revelation, brings more (or less) – it will deny that it does so – to the scripture than what is found there. I suggest that concerning the “ten most beautiful words,” Barnhardt, in submission to Rome, has followed the Pope Benedict’s lead. (See Pope Benedict’s retake of “Let his blood…). 

The full text of Barnhardt’s Boston speech can be found here.

 

Under that spell: Infant baptism in Reformed theology

 

A follow-on from The barque of Peter: The least leaky boat.

As is common knowledge among the uncommon, Roman Catholicism, as in Talmudic Judaism, teaches that there are two kinds of divine revelation: scripture and tradition. I, a Protestant, have found in discussions with Roman Catholics that they try to appeal to scripture alone, probably in an attempt to defeat – yes, it’s a battle – the “scripture alone” camp on their own ground. It’s a mysterium why they need to do that; after all, the reason why they belong to the Roman branch of the church is because they have handed over all authority on scriptural interpretation to the Roman Pontiff and his Magisterium. I focus on the Roman dogma of infant baptismal regeneration.

The Catholic Church teaches: “Through baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1213). Many baptised babies (reborn as children of God, born of the Spirit) never come to have faith in Christ, yet, according to “baptismal regeneration” they once were children of God. The term “children of God,” in the New Testament, however, only refers to believers in Christ:

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God… (John 1:12).

And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6).

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him” (1 John 3:1).

If, though, the Roman Church decides to call baptised babies the children of God, there is no reason why its apologists (defenders) should have qualms about saying to us Protestants “Rome has spoken.”

What about the Reformers’ view of baptism, for example, Luther and Calvin. By golly, they also believed in infant baptism (paedobaptism). In Calvin, it looks as if he believed in baptismal regeneration as well. How else to interpret his words below?

We ought to consider that at whatever time we are baptised, we are washed and purified once for
the whole of life. Wherefore, as often as we fall, we must recall the remembrance of our baptism,
and thus fortify our minds, so as to feel certain and secure of the remission of sins. For though,
when once administered, it seems to have passed, it is not abolished by subsequent sins. For the
purity of Christ was therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it
wipes and washes away all our defilements.
Calvin: Institutes of Christian Religion 4.15.3.

Whatever Protestant paedobaptists mean by baptism, it is bizarre to link it to regeneration. I cannot agree that in baptism “the
purity of Christ was therein offered to us, always is in force, and is not destroyed by any stain: it
wipes and washes away all our defilements.”

How could baptism wipe away an infant’s defilements. After all, many, indeed most, who are baptised as babies never make a profession of faith, which is required to wash away “all defilements.” Only those who believe in Jesus as their saviour are called – in the New Testament – the “children of God.” Calvin speaks like a Roman Catholic on the matter. In my view, infant baptism makes no biblical sense because it is not linked to faith in Christ.

By the way, there are many “Calvinists” who do not believe in infant baptism. Great names (in Protestantism) are Charles Spurgeon, John Gill and John Bunyan. A modern stalwart is Steve Lawson. In a lecture in his series on the Attributes of God, he was told that he shouldn’t call himself an adherent of the “Reformed” tradition (for example, Calvin, Luther) because he did not adhere to all of the Reformers’ doctrines such as paedobaptism. Lawson replied:

I presupposes that Calvin, the Dutch reformers, that Luther were right on everything. And I don’t believe that they were. To be as covenental as they are, I can go to a certain extent with them but obviously I’m not baptising babies. I would say in reality those that hold to those confessions (for example, the Westminster Confession) are not reformed enough. I think I am more reformed than they are. So, I would revers the question: “Why are they not Reformed?” I think they only took a partial step away from the Catholic Church. And I think they remained under some Catholic spell as it relates to infant baptism. And I think, ads one who is “baptistic,” that we went further in the reform, according to scripture. And as it relates to the Confessions, in some sense, sola scriptura (scripture alone) is the only confession that I have. There is no baby baptised in the Bible. You can’t point to any verse in the Bible where a bay is baptised. So, I have gone further in my reform away from the Catholic Church.” (“Attributes of God 5,” minute 32 ff. This is the link to all 14 wonderful mp3 lectures).

Pope Benedict’s retake of “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25)

Ann Barnhardt, a Roman Catholic, is a very knowledgeable and courageous person. I thought, though, her use of bacon strips as bookmarks in her Qur’an-burning episode was going too far. What I want to raise here is her interpretation, which is probably her popes’ interpretation, of what she says is “the ten most beautiful words in the New Testament,” which she says should be music to Jewish ears. Instead, thanks to stupid Christians, she adds , these words make Jews to shudder. In the first part of her Boston speech, she says (minute 8:14): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quVmg1c99HY&feature=youtube_gdata_player “Now to the ten most beautiful words in the New Testament. Every Jew watching this has heard these words and shudders every time they’ve heard them. These ten words have been twisted by stupid, ignorant people, who justify horrific acts of evil against the Jews for 1978 years and counting, And many of these people will claim to be pious Christians. Well, we’re going to fix this deal once and for all. The ten most beautiful words are: “Let his blood be on us and upon our children.” These are the ten words shouted by the Jewish crowd as Pontius Pilate was sentencing Jesus. I say these words internally at every Mass because these are the words that give hope to humanity. These are the words tht open the gates of heaven. These are the words by means of which our salvation is accomplished….” Continues into Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2tJzGSvLBA&feature=youtube_gdata_player [Words in square brackets are mine]. “…at every Mass, the temporally [in time] transcendent sacrifice at Calvary, which is the body, blood, soul and divinity of Christ himself, which is re-presented [NOTE not “represented” – that is, merely remembered] to God the Father by the power of God, the Holy Ghost. This is accomplished through the transubstantiation of bread and wine as prefigured by the priestly kingdom of Melchizedek in Genesis Chapter 14. This sacrifice is the Todah sacrifice of Israel, which is the only sacrifice to be offered in the post-messianic age and do all eternity according to ancient rabbinic teaching. The Todah sacrifice is the sacrifice of thanksgiving. The word “thanksgiving” in Greek is (pause) “Eucharist.” There you go, my Jewish kin, the Eucharist should now be no skin off your shnozz. I won’t comment on Barnhardt’s “Todah” reference but on what should be the “ten most beautiful words” for Jews. It is difficult to see how one can – confining oneself to the context of the passage in which “Let his blood be upon us and upon our children” appears – interpret this to mean a blessing [simcha], the greatest blessing! f[Barnhardt] for the Jews. Surely, the Jews who said those words (the words Barnhardt says internally at every Mass) couldn’t have meant that sending Jesus to cross was the answer to all their sacrifices and prayers. Roman Catholicism, because of its belief in extra-biblical revelation, brings more (or less) to the scripture – they will deny his – than what is found there. I suggest that concerning the “ten most beautiful words,” Barnhardt, in submission to Rome, has followed Pope Benedict XIV’s lead, which I discussed in the post I repost here.

OneDaring Jew

See also Psalm 25 – Judge me, O Lady, for I have departed from my innocence: What have they done to the mother of my Lord?

Pope Benedict writes in his latest book (2011) “Jesus of Nazareth II”:

When in Matthew’s account the “whole people” say: “his blood be on us and on our children” (27:25), the Christian will remember that Jesus’ blood speaks a different language from the blood of Abel (Heb. 12:24): it does not cry out for vengeance and punishment, it brings reconciliation. It is not poured out against anyone, it is poured out for many, for all. … Read in the light of faith, [Matthew’s reference to Jesus’ blood] means that we all stand in the need of the purifying power of love which is his blood. These words are not a curse, but rather redemption, salvation. Only when understood in terms of the theology of the…

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Humanism and the moral law: Law does not need God!

The latest “Unbelievable” programme is entitled “Does humanism need God? Angus Ritchie vs Stephen Law.”

Here is some information on the programme provided by the presenters:

“The term ‘Humanism’ is often seen as synonymous with atheism. But a recent Theos report titled: ‘The case for Christian Humanism: why Christians should be Humanists and Humanists should be Christians’ claims to show that atheism is ill-equipped to support the fundamental tenets of Humanism. Report author Angus Ritchie debates with atheist philosopher Stephen Law on whether atheistic humanism can account for the human dignity, morality and reason it espouses.”

Atheistic Humanists, in general, believe that morality has an objective existence, that is, morality is independent of the random processes of Darwinian evolution. When Ritchie told Law about an atheist who became a theist because he saw that without God there was no way to explain objective morality, Law said that although he could not explain objective morality, he did not think it necessary to posit God as the morality giver.

At the end of the show, the presenter, Justin Brierley, a Christian, said  “We had a lot of fun.” That remark, though, might merely have been Brierley being nice. Could he have been thinking of Romans 9? I know I was:

14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.

19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?” 20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is moulded say to its moulder, “Why have you made me like this?” 21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump done vessel for honourable use and another for dishonourable use? 22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory…

You have broken God’s Law, Stephen. You can only be reconciled to God – theism is not enough – by Christ; if he chooses to have mercy on you. “It’s not fair”  Shoosh.

“God loves you. He loves you. He loves you.” Since when?

I learn much about both Islam and the Bible from Pastor Joseph’s Aramaic Broadcasting Network and his support staff David Wood and Sam Shamoun. It’s also great fun. There’s one thing, though, that gets my Reformed (Calvinist) goat: when he tells Muslim callers that Jesus loves them, which reminds me of a church on a hill near my home where a big red stone (not stony) heart with the words below it, also in red, “Jesus loves you” festoons the green slope of the lawn visible to passing traffic.

In one of his videos (Pastor Joseph schools a confused muslim, minute 18.15 ff), he says “God loves you, he loves you so much…It (God’s love) is in Islam a little bit. In Christianity it is so much emphasised. God loves you, he loves you so much that he gave his most precious thing; what is the most precious thing he could give? His son…In the Bible it says God is love…”

The problem here is two-fold:

First, the overemphasis on love, which pervades the majority of Christian movements, at the expense of God’s holiness, manifested in his “wrath” against sinners.

Second, God wants to save everybody without exception if only they will let God do what he, through his Son, died to do. This is the Arminian view of salvation, the majority Christian view. (See definition of Arminianism).

I focus on the second problem.

The allusion in Pastor Joseph’s “he gave his most precious thing” is among the most well-known verses in the Bible; John 3:16 (NIV) “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Who(so)ever” (NIV) has the deceptive connotation of “whoever decides to believe in him.” The Greek says (Young’s Literal Translation – YLT) “every one who is believing in him may not perish.”

Contrast verse 16 (NIV) with verse 18 (NIV) Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” more correctly he who is believing in him is not judged, but he who is not believing hath been judged already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God” (YLT).

How to reconcile “God so loved the world” (verse 16) with “he who is not believing is judged already?” (YLT) This is where Arminianism splits and splutters. In Reformed theology (“Calvinist” if you like), it’s quite simple. “World” in verse 16 does not mean everyone in the world. There are several texts in the Bible that explain why it can’t mean everyone in the world. Verse 18 is one of them. I ask the Arminian: “Does Jesus love the unbelieving ones whom he is going to judge – send to hell, and whom he “knows from the beginning” (John 6:64) – from eternity?” Of course not; he hates them, as he hated all mankind before he chose to have mercy on some and save some as in Romans 9:

Romans 9

13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” 14 What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! 15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
 and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” 16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. 17 For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” 18 Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who is able to resist his will?” 20 But who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”[h] 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?”

No “hated Esau” definitely does not mean “loved Esau less.” I hate a lot of noise, that is, I love it less than quiet!

Christ saves those whom the Father draws:

John 6

44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day…64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

I once asked the pastor of a Methodist Church I attended for two years why he never preached on sin, or mentioned the word. He replied “Those were the harsh old days.” People need buttering up. All you need is love.

Here are a few excerpts from Gerhardus Vos’s “The Scriptural Doctrine of the Love of God”.



1. “There can be little doubt that in this manner the one-sidedness and exclusiveness with which the love of God has been preached to the present generation is largely responsible for that universal weakening of the sense of sin, and the consequent decline of interest in the doctrines of atonement and justification, which even in 
orthodox and evangelical circles we all see and deplore. But this by no means reveals the full extent of the danger to which the tendency we are speaking of 
has exposed us….There is, however, still another  serious defect to be noticed in this modern exploitation of the love of God, touching not the distinction of love from the other attributes, but the internal distinction between the various kinds  and degrees of affection, which in the case of a relationship so infinitely varied as that of God to 
the world are subsumed under the comprehensive term of love. The old theology was exceedingly careful in marking off these kinds and degrees from one another, and in assigning to each the group  of objects upon which it operates.

2 Elective love

To Pharaoh God speaks of Israel as His firstborn, i.e.His dearly beloved son (Ex. 4:22). Immediately before the making of the Sinaitic covenant and the promulgation of the Decalogue,  all Jehovah’s gracious dealings with His people connected with the Exodus are summed up in the  beautiful words: “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagle’s wings, and brought you unto myself. Now, therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:4-6). In the four classical statements, where  the Torah rises to the height of a description of the character of God, His benevolent attributes, such as lovingkindness (Chesed), mercy, grace, longsuffering, faithfulness, are strongly emphasized (Ex. 20:5, 6; 34:6, 7; Num. 14:8; Deut. 7:9, 10)… in thus bringing forward the thought of Jehovah’s  love for Israel, Deuteronomy throws special emphasis upon the elective character of this love. It is not so much the general fact that Jehovah now loves the people, but rather the special consideration that in the past at a definite moment He set His love upon them, to the exclusion of all other nations, upon which the book dwells.

3. Who are the children of God?

The extreme form of the modern theory, according to which all men as such, indiscriminately, are the children of God, certainly cannot claim our Lord’s authority in its favor. But even the less extreme form of this theory, according to which God is absolutely and equally the  Father of all mankind, whilst men may become partially and relatively His children by spiritual transformation after His image, is not in harmony with the facts. Not merely the sonship, also the fatherhood is given an exclusive reference to the disciples. Jesus always speaks of your Father, their Father, never of the Father absolutely, except where the altogether unique trinitarian relation between Himself and God is meant.

4. Love and wrath of God

So far as the actual manifestation of the love of God in human consciousness is concerned, a fundamental difference lies in this, that the enjoyment of the common love of God outside of the kingdom does not exempt man from being subject at the same time to the divine wrath on account of sin. Love and wrath here are not mutually exclusive. Within the circle of redemption, on the other hand, the enjoyment of the paternal love of God  means absolute forgiveness and deliverance from all wrath. Even this, however, is not sufficient clearly to mark the distinction between these two kinds of love, the wider and the narrower. For, previously to the  moment of believing, those who are appointed for salvation, no less than the others, are subject in their consciousness to the experience of the wrath of God. It would seem, therefore, that in his pre-Christian state the one who will later become a child of God is not differentiated from the one who never will, 

inasmuch as both are in an equal sense the objects of the general benevolence of God and of His wrath in their experience. Thus a representation would result as if the line of God’s general love ran singly up to the point of conversion, there to pass over into the line of His special love. The general love of God [without exception] would then be the only factor to be reckoned with outside of the  sphere of the kingdom; and a special love of God could be spoken of only with reference to those who have actually become His children.

5. Meaning of “all”

In the well-known passage of Romans (5:12-21), where a parallel is drawn between the first and second Adam and the spread of sin and  righteousness in the world through the transgression of the one and the obedience of the other, Paul speaks of the operation not merely of the former principle, but also of the latter as extending to all. But if this were to be interpreted in a distributive sense, as applying to every man individually, then plainly not the loving desire of God to save all, but the actual salvation of all would be affirmed, for the apostle  expressly declares that by the righteousness of the one the free gift has come upon all men unto justification of life. We are thus forced to assume that the “all” covers the totality of those who belong to the new human race  which springs from the second Adam. To find in the word “many” alternating with “all” in the context a reminder of the particularism of grace would be surely unwarranted, for this “many” is also used where the consequences of Adam’s sin are spoken of; but it would be equally unwarranted to conclude, as others have done, from the use of “all” that Paul advocated a doctrine of absolute universalism. Another instructive example of the manner in which the apostle’s wide outlook upon the cosmical reach of the grace of God influences his mode of expression is found in Romans 11:32, where, speaking of Jews and  Gentiles in their mutual relation to the gospel, he declares: “God has concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.” On the same principle we must also interpret the statement in the first epistle to the Corinthians (15:22) that “as all die in Adam, so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

In the Pastoral Epistles, however, a more pronounced form of universalism seems to find expression. Here we read not only that Christ gave Himself a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6), but also that God quickens all things (or keeps alive all things (1 Tim 6:13), that God will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:4), that the living God is the Savior of all men especially of those that believe (1 Tim. 4:10), that in Christ the kindness of God our Savior toward men appeared (Titus 3:4). In the case of these passages the context clearly indicates that a reference of God’s saving grace or Christ’s saving work to all classes of men rather than to all men numerically considered, is  meant to be affirmed. When the apostle first exhorts that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, then specializes this as including kings and all that are in authority, and finally assigns as the ground for this duty the fact that God will have all men to be saved, it is not only allowed but demanded by the principles of sound exegesis to interpret the second “all men” in the same sense as the first. This also applies to the passage in Titus 2:11, 12, where in succession the classes of old men, old women, young women, young men, and servants are named and the manner of life appropriate to each described, whereupon the apostle adduces as the most forcible and comprehensive motive for obedience to this exhortation the fact that the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lust, we should live soberly,  righteously, and godly in this present world.”

I return to the Muslims that Pastor Joseph longs convert by contrasting the scarcity of love in Allah with the overabundance of love in Yahweh. Here’s Vos at the end of his book”

It (the Bible) clearly teaches that the love of God, which it makes the center of His revealed character, belongs in its highest sense to believers only: “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not” (3:1). If God were nothing but love, to the exclusion of all other modes of being, no difference would be possible between His attitude toward the world and His attitude toward His own…That there is something which on sound biblico-theological grounds may be so designated, our inquiry has shown. But even more clearly than this it has, we believe, brought out two other facts. In the first place, that that form of love which the Bible everywhere emphasizes and magnifies, so as to be truly called one great revelation of love, is not God’s general benevolence, but His special affection for His people. This distribution of emphasis ought to be preserved in every creedal statement which professes  to reflect biblical proportions of truth. And in the second place, we have had occasion to observe that the  Scriptures do not leave room for the opinion that at any point, either in the eternal decree or in its historical unfolding, God’s love for those intended to become His people has been undifferentiated from His love for wider groups of humanity. Every formula which would efface or even tend to obscure this fundamental distinction ought to be at the outset rejected as unbiblical. The divine love for the elect is different not only in degree but specifically from all the other forms of love, because it involves a purpose to save, of which all the other forms fall short.”

“God is not a man.” Finish it. “What do you mean?”

 

S. Lewis Johnson, in his lecture XII Bunyan conference (God’s love towards Israel), gives the following advice:

“In reading the Bible pay attention to the connectives, if you want to study the Bible and become expert in the knowledge of the Scriptures one of the things you have to pay attention to is the “for’s” the “therefore’s” the “because’s” on this account various other connectives that connect the sentences of the word of God together that give you the kind of clues that enable you to put one statement with another in proper understanding.”

Recently I heard once again in a discussion on Islam the bit from Numbers 23:19, a favourite of Unitarians (Jews, Moslems and Jehovah’s Witnesses), “God is not a man…” This bit is part of the complete verse, which they either ignore or are ignorant of:

God is not a man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

The conjunction (connecting word) that connects 1. “God is not man,” to 2. “he should lie” in such away that all God is saying is that whereas man is (by nature) a liar, God is not. (The same grammatical point applies to “or a son of man…”). Numbers 23;19 has nothing to do with the nature of God’s being, namely, whether he has a divine or a human nature, or both. Therefore, it’s illegitimate to chop the verse into two chunks and present them as two separate arguments. It’s a bit like slicing up Raphael the Ninja Turtle  and ending up with Picasso. Later, of course, the New Testament does describe Jesus as fully God and fully man. But this is a different context.

In the endeavour to prove that Jesus cannot be God, unitarians milk the teats off the text.

Related

Raphael and Picasso pay attention; God is not a man that he should lie..

Milking the teats off the text: the Rabbinical interpretation of Numbers 23:19.

In the name of Hashem (God), does “Samuel” mean “God heard?” No.

A popular belief among “people of the Book” (as the Quran describes Jews and Christians) is that the name Samuel means “God heard.” Thinkbabynames.com explains the meaning of Samuel: “Samuel is of Hebrew origin, and the meaning of Samuel is “God heard”. Also possibly as “requested of God”, “God’s heart” or “God’s name.”

They derive the meaning of “God heard” from Samuel 3:9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel: ‘Go, lie down; and it shall be, if thou be called, that thou shalt say: Speak, LORD; for Thy servant heareth.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. (“Thy servant heareth” also appears in 3:10)

שֹׁמֵעַ עַבְדֶּךָ “your servant heareth”. Hebrew word order – “hears your servant”

[SHOMEIA שֹׁמֵעַ – HEARS] [AVDEKHA עַבְדֶּךָ – YOUR SERVANT].

But who heard whom? God didn’t hear Samuel. It was the other way round; Samuel heard God. What is more, Samuel was given his name at birth by his mother Hannah. So, did Samuel get his name at birth in anticipation of God hearing him about three-four years later in the house of Eli, more accurately, Samuel hearing God?

Actually, the Bible is very clear about how Samuel got his name:

Samuel 1: 20 And it came to pass, when the time was come about, that Hannah conceived, and bore a son; and she called his name Samuel: ‘because I have asked him of the LORD.’

Name – Hebrew SHEM

Samuel means “Name of (SHMU) God [EL)” – Samuel SHMU-EL.

So, Samuel means “Name of God.” When Jews talk about God, they often use the term HaShem “the Name.” Here is a remarkable thing, of which there are many – my remarks excluded. Recall SHOMEIA שֹׁמֵעַ HEARS in Samuel 3:9. The letters are similar to SHEM (Name). And that is how Samuel came to mean “God hears” (in passing, it was Samuel who heard, God who spoke ).

How “Thinkbabynames” got hold of “God’s heart” beats me. “Heart” in Hebrew is LEV. I LEaVe it there.

Christmas Mass: Bowing before the baby Jesus

This morning I saw on the TV the pope bowing before a statue of the baby Jesus. Here is J. I. Packer:

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(1973) J.I. Packer, Knowing God, Chapter 4
What does the word idolatry suggest to your mind? Savages groveling before a totem pole? Cruel–faced statues in Hindu temples? The dervish dance of the priests of Baal around Elijah’s altar? These things are certainly idolatrous, in a very obvious way; but we need to realize that there are more subtle forms of idolatry as well.

Look at the second commandment. It runs as follows, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” ( Ex 20:4–5 ). What is this commandment talking about?

If it stood alone, it would be natural to suppose that it refers to the worship of images of gods other than Jehovah* the Babylonian idol worship, for instance, which Isaiah derided ( Is 44:9–20 ; 46:6–7 ), or the paganism of the Greco–Roman world of Paul’s day, of which he wrote in Romans 1:23 , 25 that they “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. . . . They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator.” But in its context the second commandment can hardly be referring to this sort of idolatry, for if it were it would simply be repeating the thought of the first commandment without adding anything to it.

Accordingly, we take the second commandment* as in fact it has always been taken *as pointing us to the principle that (to quote Charles Hodge) “idolatry consists not only in the worship of false gods, but also in the worship of the true God by images.” In its Christian application, this means that we are not to make use of visual or pictorial representations of the triune God, or of any person of the Trinity, for the purposes of Christian worship. The commandment thus deals not with the object of our worship, but with the manner of it; what it tells us is that statues and pictures of the One whom we worship are not to be used as an aid to worshiping him.

The whole of Chapter 4 can be found here.

http://rpcnacovenanter.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/j-i-packer-on-idolatry-and-images-of-christ/

The Torah: David Wood, my favourite Islam fundi, can teach a Jew a thing or two

David Wood interviewed an ex-Muslim turned atheist, Heina Dadhaboy. 

One caller was a Jew (24 minutes from end of video), who said that David was incorrect in limiting the term “Torah” to the Pentateuch (Five books of Moses), because, he said, the Torah refers to all the books of the Hebrew Bible. Strictly speaking, the Jewish caller is wrong.

“To the fundamentalist Christian – says Rabbi Simchah Roth – the whole  Bible (and specifically what he terms the ‘Old Testament’) is the directly revealed word of God; while ancient Jewish tradition has ascribed that quality to the Torah, which is not true of the prophets and writings.”

Barry Freundel expresses a similar opinion. In his “Contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s response to modernity, p. 11, he says” “While the prophets and the Writings also contain revelations from God, these do not achieve the level of the Mosaic revelation, and, as we have said are not sources of law. Rather they tell us a history, exhort to follow God’s commands, and offer understanding of the human condition.”

So the above Jewish hashkafah (perspective) of the Jewish Bible says that only the Torah is all from God, and the rest of the Jewish scriptures is a melange of man and God. The meaning of “Torah” can be confusing. The Jewish virtual library explains:

“The Written Law consists of the books of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. The term “Bible” is more commonly used by non-Jews, as are the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament.” The appropriate term for Jews to use for the Hebrew Bible is “Tanakh.” Tanakh is an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).”

“The Torah is also known as the Chumash, Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses. The word “Torah” has the following meanings:

1. A scroll made from kosher animal parchment, with the entire text of the Five Books of Moses written in it by a sofer [ritual scribe]. This is the most limited definition.

2. More often, this term means the text of the Five Books of Moses, written in any format, whether Torah scroll, paperback book, CD­ROM, skywriting or any other media. Any printed version of the Torah (with or without commentary) can be called a Chumash or Pentateuch; however, one never refers to a Torah Scroll as a Chumash.”

Jewish denominations differ on which parts are more of man and less of God. Christian denominations also differ on which parts are from God, which from man.

Related:

The written and oral Torah: Which is primary?

The four deaths

A popular song in modern English-speaking churches is “How deep the Father’s love for us.” It’s theme is “I want to be where you are, i want to be with you.”

Here is the hip-hop chorus

I just wanna be (clap, clap)
I just wanna be (clap, clap) with You

The Bible says many times, as in the letters of Paul, that to be a Christian is to be “in Christ” and “Christ in you.” Christians are born of God (born again), which entails that Christ lives – through the Holy Spirit – in them. To be “without” Christ in this life means Christ is not indwelling that person. “Without Christ” is not the opposite of “with Christ.” “Without Christ” means “not IN Christ,” which is the spiritual state of the unsaved. “With Christ,” on the other hand, means to join Christ in his glorified state – on the right hand of the Father in heaven. This means be with Christ now – chop chop..

So, Christian, IN whom Christ lives, do you still want to be WITH Christ? If so, you have sentenced yourself to death – the death of your body. If that is not really what you want, stop singing these silly adolescent boyfriend-girlfriend songs.

(See In Christ and with Christ: I wanna be with you).

If there are four loves (C.S. Lewis) then there must be four deaths.

– A “living death,” an expression of non-believers that describes a miserable life.
– The death of the body, which happens to all without exception.
– The New Testament “second death,” another name for being cast by God into eternal darkness after the death of the body.

There is a fourth kind of death, also Christian: “I want to be like Christ (in this life).

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“The most dangerous prayer a human being could ever pray, says Paul Washer is, “Lord, make me like Christ. I don’t care if you have to dethrone me. I don’t care if you have to tear apart my ministry. I don’t care if you have to destroy me. I don’t care what happens. Make me like Jesus Christ.”

“It is practically calling a death sentence upon yourself. But then, again, ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit’ (John 12:24).” (Pray and be alone with Christ).

A Christmas sermon: Mary, the mother of the Saviour. God’s mothering something bigger in you

Many pastors use the Bible as a springboard to leap into their seeker-driven cesspool of self. In the next three posts, I discuss three of these sermons, two of which come from Chris Rosebrough’s podcast “Fighting for the Faith,” and the third from one I heard in a church a little while ago. Here is the first one from Kory Cassell. I give verbatim highlights. My comments appear in square brackets. The sermon begins after the first hour of the podcast (“A sound membrane is bulging,” December 14, 2014).

Cassell’s text for the sermon is Luke 1:26 – 33:

26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, fyou will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and gyou shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God iwill give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

At minute 15 of his podcast, Rosebrough gives a foretaste of Kory Cassell’s sermon entitled “Name your Nazareth.”

Rosebrough – With a name like that [for a sermon] there is no way to rescue the sermon. It’s not going to be an exegesis but a narcigesis, reading your own self into the biblical text, which is pretty much what we’ve heard from every seeker-driven “Christmas”sermon we have heard on “Fighting for the Faith.” [There are hundreds of these on “Fighting for the Faith”].

The sermon begins at the one-hour mark. I start at minute 19 into in the sermon. [Cassell’s key word is “send” (Greek apostolo). His message is that every Christian is an apostolo, is sent. How does that fit into the text he is using? And what are Christians sent to do?]

Cassell – My father has sent me on a mission. [Using his earthly father as a springboard to his heavenly Father].

Rosebrough – What has this got to do with the Christmas story. Let’s take a look again at the text he is preaching from Luke 1:26. [Rosebrough quotes the text]. Who is this about? The arrival of none other than the Son of David, the King, Jesus, the Messiah… the one whom we should be listening to. And you’re focusing on the Greek word apostolo (send), and now you’re changing from [the text] being about Jesus to we’re all to have a special sending from God and all be purpose-driven. The purpose of pastors is to preach the word.

Cassell – When it says that you’re sent, it comes with certain things implied there. The first thing is that there is a purpose, everybody say purpose [garbled “*&$$$£”]. What is my purpose? …When you have a purpose, you are sent. Say purpose [“$%$$£$%$^”]. This implies there is a choice. Everybody say choice [“C3$*@S”]. As human beings we do have free will …”

Rosebrough – Actually no. The scriptures say that when it comes to the things of God we are born dead in trespasses and sins. God is the one who makes us alive.” [He quotes Ephesians 2] “

[1] And you were dead in the trespasses and sins [2] in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—[3] among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. [4] But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—[6] and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, [7] so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, [9] not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”

We are born, says Rosebrough, with a bound will [Luther’s “Bondage of the will”], no free will [to choose Christ].”

Cassell – When I get up in the morning, God has sent me with a purpose to serve my community. Am I going to go? There’s a purpose, there’s a choice, say choice [“^&%$$”]. God the creator of the universe has sent you to your family, to your workplace… My Father believed in me, he trusted me.

Rosebrough – So God believed in us. Isn’t the call of scripture for us to believe and trust in Christ? All this is based on his bunny trail of the word “sent.” He’s not actually exegeting the text at all.

Cassell – And there is something about knowing that the creator of the universe believes in you and he trusted that you are capable.

Rosebrough – Where in scripture does it explicitly say that God believed in you. [Nowhere. Where does it say so implicitly? Also, zilch].

Cassell – The first thing we see here [in Luke 1] is that Gabriel was sent. We serve a sending God. Everybody say sent [“s£%$$$”]. He was sent to a village of Nazareth. Everybody say Nazareth [“£%^*()£££$”]… Nazareth was overlooked, nobody looked at it… undervalued, insignificant. God sent Gabriel to this insignificant place. This raises the question: “What place in our lives…what is that space in your life that feels insignificant, overlooked and undervalued?

Rosebrough – NO! This is not how you read the Bible. This is not about you. It’s not about God sending your undervalued, insignificant Nazareth in your life. This is the story of the announcement and the birth of the saviour of the world.

Cassell– The first thing we have to do if we want to find God’s favor is to name our Nazareth.

Rosebrough – Was that how Mary was able to find God’s favor? What kind of nonsense is this?

Cassell – God sent Gabriel to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, say Nazareth [“%£££%$$$”], to Mary. He said “Greetings oh favoured one. You have found favour. Everybody say favour [“Flavour” or something?].

Rosebrough – She found favour long before the angel showed up.

Cassell – Where did Mary find favor? In [Audience pips Cassell – “*^z££$$*^@!”]. In Nazareth. An overlooked and undervalued place. That is where Mary found favor.

Rosebrough – Was it because she was in Nazareth or was it because she found faith? Hebrews 11 says, without faith it is impossible to please God.

Cassell – So where do we find favor? In Nazareth.

Rosebrough – We find favour in Christ.

Cassell – He [Gabriel] said “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” What does that tell us? What God wants to do in you and through you is so much bigger… [Bigger than what God has done through Mary – conceiving the Messiah, God made flesh!]

Rosebrough – This has nothing to do with what God wants to do in me and through me. This has everything to do with what God did in and through the virgin Mary for me.

[That’s one sermon that should have been smothered at birth. But I’m sure it has a purpose]. 

Related: The seeker- and shikker-driven church

 

Holy Whore

Jeff Benner writes:

“When we use the word holy, as in a holy person, we usually associate this with a righteous or pious person. If we use this concept when interpreting the word holy in the Hebrew Bible then we are misreading the text as this is not the meaning of the Hebrew word qadosh. Qadosh literally means “to be set apart for a special purpose”. A related word, qedesh, is one who is also set apart for a special purpose but not in the same way we think of “holy” but is a male prostitute (Deut 23:17). Israel was qadosh because they were separated from the other nations as servants of God. The furnishings in the tabernacle were qadosh as they were not to be used for anything except for the work in the tabernacle. While we may not think of ourselves as “holy” we are in fact set apart from the world to be God’s servants and representatives” (Ancient Hebrew meanings by Jeff Benner, Ancient Hebrew Research Center http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/27_holy.html).

So, holiness in a Christian means living in the world but not of the world; part of the world but set apart from the world (system). “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou should take them out of the world, but that thou should keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:14-16).

And the relationship between the Christian and God? The Christian is the temple of the Holy Spirit, and so is never apart from God. But also never a part of God. The Bible’s main focus is on who God is; on the God who is (YAHWEH). Although the scriptures are mainly about God, they totally FOR you; for all – without exception, For their salvation or their damnation.

When you think the Gospel is the raw material God is using to write a Gospel about you, you are apart from God. A whore (qedesh – qadesha). “You shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel” (Deuteronomy 23:17).

Related: “Stop awhoring with the enemies of Christ unless God wants you to.” https://onedaringjew.wordpress.com/2013/07/18/stop-awhoring-with-the-enemies-of-christ-unless-god-wants-you-to/