Arm Them with the Sword of Truth

There are lots of problems in the world. There is at least one problem out there that burdens each of us. So what do we do? Depending upon which problem has our attention at the moment, we flitter from one problem to the next.

What problem have we alighted upon now? It is that mass school shooting in Florida. Scary. Sad. So we have once again turned to our “great” leaders, distinguish-sounding men and women who know how mouth meaningless words as the occasion demands. Year after year such ladies and gentlemen have offered “solutions”. Year after year they have demanded more power. Year after year we still have the same problems, or worse.

When what they offer us does not work, why do we keep going to these same “great” leaders, distinguish-sounding men and women who know how mouth meaningless words as the occasion demands? Is that not insane? When it clearly does not work, isn’t doing the same thing over and over again insane? Perhaps that is why they want to take our guns from us. They think we have mental issues, that it is not safe to trust us with guns. Are they right?

There is a solution. That is the subject of insanitybytes22’s post. Jesus saves!

You want an answer for all your problems? Turn to Jesus. Love and obey Him.

None get out of this life alive, but we can live worthwhile lives. Instead of listening endlessly to pompous people, people who have the audacity to tell us they have easy answers for complex problems, we can turn to Jesus. We don’t have to wait for some bureaucrats in Washington DC to do “something”, whatever that is. We can love our neighbors next door. To the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus, we can help each other.

Instead of taking all our problems to our “great” leaders, we can seek the wisdom of our Lord Jesus. A few problems can only be solved in Washington DC, but most we can work out locally. However, we have to care about each other. We cannot go into our homes and just hide from the world.

When we don’t involve ourselves in our communities, instead of being disciples of Christ, that is when we and our children learn to become monsters and victims. God did not make this world so that we could hand our responsibility to love each other over to the government. Because He wants us to learn to love each other, there are some things — many things — that we each must do ourselves.

See, there's this thing called biology...

Our faith, Jesus Christ Himself, the bible, the word, is often called the Sword of Truth.  It is more of a metaphorical sword, than a literal one, a sword that is good for slaying lies and deceptions, a sword of love and protection, perhaps. A sword you want standing behind you when the storms of life come at you, and they will come.

I wanted to weigh in on school shootings, on gun control, on some of the craziness swirling around the whole discussion, arm teachers, ban guns, pass laws, etc, etc. First let me say, I’m a big fan of the second amendment, so this is not a gun control argument by any means, it is simply that I sometimes grow weary of the American psyche, our good guy-bad guy mentality, as if life itself were as black and white, as cut and dry as an old western movie.

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28 thoughts on “Arm Them with the Sword of Truth

  1. Tom,

    I don’t disagree with any of that. In fact, I’m not sure that we disagree at all.

    Where have you argued against the contention that all of the Law and the Prophets “hangs on”, is driven by, should be interpreted in accordance with, or whatever imperfect way to put it, Jesus’ two commandments to love? Where have I ever argued for the emotivism of everyone having each his or her own equally valid and subjective interpretation of the Law and the Prophets?

    To love God with all one’s heart and soul and mind is not to make up your own God in your own image to love. To love your neighbor as yourself requires one to actually first “see” and “understand” your neighbor so that you can then actually see yourself in that person. If one wants to interpret the wisdom of the Apostle Paul, for example, one has to actually “see” Paul, as best one can, in his time, his place and his culture, and then “love” Paul as a fellow sinner redeemed in Christ. Only then can one understand the God given wisdom of Paul for what it is rather than what we may want it to be to fit our ideology or our politics of the day.

    We follow God’s Will (not some projection of our own will), with the grace “He has given us to know what we can know of Him” out of unselfish love and heartfelt gratitude. Our treatment of our neighbors when they don’t follow God’s Law is not out of the holier-than-thou judgement of the other, but with the love of a fellow sinner who sees himself in that person and loves that person he sees.

    I get the difficulties and traps in doing this, and I make no claim to expertise of knowledge or practice, but the concept is so simple that, as I said before, an early illiterate Christian slave can appreciate it and be saved by it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    To repeat, “A the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    You don’t like the word “lens”, then let’s just say that virtually everything in the Bible (Law and Prophets) that pertains to God’s Will “hangs” on love.

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    1. Do we mean the same thing when we say “hang”?

      But I’m not quite sure that I understand why you feel the need to find disagreement with me on this, or even if we do actually disagree. What is it that you are trying to distinguish away in Jesus’ simple commandments to actively love and, more importantly, why would you feel the need to do so?

      Have I answered your question?

      Put it this way. Here is a question for you. What do you think Jesus was saying when He said “On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Do all the Law and the Prophets just disappear when they “hang” on love? Does love replace the Law and the Prophets or support the Law and the Prophets? What is the relationship?

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      1. This issue seems simple to me, but I can only guess that your question involves the issue of hermeneutic interpretation.

        The concept that we interpret the Law and the Prophets through Jesus’ commandments to love is a simple statement, but, I’m not saying that it is simple in action or in every case of interpretation.

        Look at it this way. When we look at a given commandment, are we deciding how to follow it from our own perspective of desire of reward and fear of punishment, or instead are we interpreting and trying to follow this commandment as a reaction to our love of God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our mind? Is our obedience to God’s Will selfishly inwardly focused or outwardly directed to God in love and appreciation?

        Similarly, when we chose to follow Biblical rules to do a thing or not to do a thing, are we just being legalistic in our judgement or are we doing so as an expression of our love for our fellow humans because we love them as we ourselves? Are we really not harming or helping a person out of love, which requires empathy, compassion, mercy and a certain amount of selflessness?

        I don’t think this is hard to understand, but do recognize that it is difficult to do, and in fact, impossible to do perfectly.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @tsalmon

          Consider the irony. You are a lawyer. Don’t you know the danger of making up your own rules? It is called moral relativism.

          Proverbs 21:2 New King James Version (NKJV)

          2 Every way of a man is right in his own eyes,
          But the Lord weighs the hearts.

          When we judge our own case, how many of us do so impartially? Of course, we don’t. If we can, many of us will even twist the law to mean whatever we it want to mean. That is legalism.

          You want to read a horror story? Some of the stories in the Book of Judges are just about as horrifying as they get. Why? Consider this verse.

          Judges 21:25 New King James Version (NKJV)

          25 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

          That verse also occurs also occurs at Judges 17:6.

          Look at Judges. Read and determine the context where the verse occurs. When we do what is right in our own eyes, we make a bloody mess. As Christians, we call upon God to help us do what is right in His eyes, not our own.

          Psalm 19:7-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

          7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;
          The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;
          8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
          The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;
          9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;
          The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
          10 More to be desired are they than gold,
          Yea, than much fine gold;
          Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
          11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,
          And in keeping them there is great reward.

          What is the answer to the extremes of moral absolutism? Mercy. Grace. In Truth we don’t deserve salvation, but out of His Mercy God has withheld the punishment we deserve. Out of his Grace, He has offered us a salvation we do not deserve.

          https://www.gotquestions.org/moral-relativism.html

          https://www.gotquestions.org/moral-absolutism.html

          And yes, only Jesus is perfect, but He has called upon us to follow His example. His example of perfection included obeying the Word of God, something He did because He loves us.

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  3. Oh, and one other question for my biblical scholar brother: Wasn’t the whole point of Jesus’ statements on love above to simplify the foundation of God’s Law in opposition to the lawyers then who wanted to camouflage the simple spirit of the Law with man made legalese in the form of letter of the law distractions?

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    1. @tsalmon

      When Jesus spoke the words in Matthew 22:36-40, He was citing two passages from the Old Testament.

      Deuteronomy 6:5 New King James Version (NKJV)

      5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

      and

      Leviticus 19:18 New King James Version (NKJV)

      18 You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

      Just as those two passages did not preclude the necessity for the Jews being familiar with the rest of the Old Testament, Matthew 22:36-40 does not eliminate the need for us to know the rest of the Bible.

      Consider the importance of just knowing the answers to these questions:

      Why am I here?
      What is right and wrong?
      What brings me meaning
      What happens to a human being when I die?

      — Ravi Zacharias (an expert in Christian apologetics => http://rzim.org/) says there are Four Questions To Answer In Life.=> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfb5-7mtC-8

      The Bible contains the best answers we have.

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      1. Agreed. Thanks for the references – I knew that Jesus was refering to scripture, but it’s nice of you to give the sites them here.

        I looked back at the lively debate that we had on this some time ago. It was a good discussion then and a good discussion here.

        Don’t misunderstand me. I do think that there is always wisdom in being discerning. I just think that love is how we normatively should most wisely discern.

        I am also not claiming that every word of the Bible does not aid in the pursuit of that wisdom of discerning. What I am saying is that, with Matthew 22:36-40, Jesus gives us the lens through which to interpret all of scripture as it gives us the Law, or in other words, through which to understand the Will of God, both as to the Law of Scripture and as to everyday decision making. Love is the lens through which we discern the virtuous path, the wise path, and the virtuous path is the path we follow when we follow God’s Will.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. @tsalmon

          Love is the lens through which we discern the virtuous path, the wise path, and the virtuous path is the path we follow when we follow God’s Will.

          I have my doubts about the truth of that statement. The Bible tells us that God loves us (John 3:16). We learn that God loves us — how much God loves us — by reading the Bible, not by using love as a lens.

          When we use some kind of “lens” to read something, what we risk doing is applying our own biases to what we are reading. What matters is what the Bible says, not what we think love requires it to say.

          Does any part of the Bible stand alone? No. It is perfectly reasonable to figure out what some parts of the Bible mean by referring to other parts. In fact, books like Romans and Hebrews largely exist to explain other portions of the Bible. Nevertheless, it can be very tempting to say the Bible says things we want it to say or doesn’t say things we don’t want it to say. It can be very tempting to use “love” as an excuse for distorting the Word of God. When we do that we must remember God is love. So when we alter the meaning of the Bible, we are generating a doctrine that is more hateful than what the Bible actually says.

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  4. Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)

    36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment.

    39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

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    1. What would a sophisticated scholar do if she felt the need to distinguish exceptions to Jesus’ simple statement above?

      First the scholar might try to parse out the definition of the word “love”. He might say that, although it is a “commandment”, Jesus did not mean the word “love” as an active verb requiring us to each to continuously do something actively in the furtherance of God’s clear command.

      Second the scholar might try to create exceptions, distinguishing the clear and simple command to actively love with other gospel quotes: We are required to actively love our enemies except when they are acting like enemies; or we are required to actively love strangers except when they act strange.

      If this is the shrewd wisdom of supposed sages, then I prefer the simple saint’s sagacity of just taking things for their plain meaning. For a lawyer, I know it goes against my training, but for a judge, common sense is often a wiser path to cutting through the dissembling legalese. This is the difference between skillful self rationalizing and actual introspective wisdom.

      But I’m not quite sure that I understand why you feel the need to find disagreement with me on this, or even if we do actually disagree. What is it that you are trying to distinguish away in Jesus’ simple commandments to actively love and, more importantly, why would you feel the need to do so?

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    2. So that means we don’t have a responsibility to read the Bible? I don’t think so. Consider verse 40 again: All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

      We show God we love Him be obeying His commands. If we don’t bother paying any attention to His commands, how much must we love Him?

      Because of love, we do what is required. Love does not mean we know what is required. If I have a child, I learn how to care for that child and then care for that child because I love that child. Love provides motivation, not knowledge and wisdom.

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  5. @tsalmon

    God’s will is the simplest thing for us humans to understand and the hardest thing for us humans to carry out. We just need to always love and to always act toward others with love. Nothing to it, right?

    Are you familiar with the word “wisdom”? If I have a child, if I love that child that is important. Then I will make the effort to raise that child properly. Love, however, does not guaranteed that what I do will be done with wisdom. If I love my child with agape love, it just means I will try to do my best.

    What the Bible teaches is wisdom. Foremost among the virtues the Bible promotes is agape love. However, love is the necessary virtue; it is not the only virtue.

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    1. Tom,

      I don’t disagree with any of that. One can have a broad enough definition of love to include loving your children enough to discipline them, or loving your enemy while protecting your country from the harm that your enemy would inflict. What is the alternative? Spanking your children out of hate?

      All virtues stem from love just as all commandments stem from the commandment to love. This just seems obvious.

      And Your always accusing me of complicating things.😁

      Like

      1. @tsalmon

        Ecclesiastes 7:29 Good News Translation (GNT)

        29 This is all that I have learned: God made us plain and simple, but we have made ourselves very complicated.

        We have had this debate before. You may recall I wrote this: => https://citizentom.com/2016/07/09/love-is-it-our-chief-idol-or-our-most-prized-virtue/.

        Agape love is not an emotion. It may result in an emotional attachment, but agape love stems from a decision to care about other people just as we care about ourselves. Why would we love our neighbor that way?

        John 14:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

        15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.

        That is what God told us to do. God is love, but love is not God.

        How and when do we punish a child? Without the wisdom to understand when a child is doing something wrong, how would we even begin to make such a decision?

        Consider.

        Matthew 7:6 New King James Version (NKJV)

        6 “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.

        There are people whose aims are so vile we separate ourselves from them. That does not mean we stop praying for their redemption, but we avoid giving them material or moral support, nothing they could use to harm anyone.

        How do we decide when to apply Matthew 7:6? That takes wisdom.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. It seems to me that we believers try to overly mystify this question of God’s Will. One does not have to be a biblical scholar or a philosopher in order to divine its mystery. In some ways I think such austere knowledge just clouds what the illiterate early Christian slave understood far better with his heart than the modern day rationalist will ever be able to explain with his head.

    God’s will is the simplest thing for us humans to understand and the hardest thing for us humans to carry out. We just need to always love and to always act toward others with love. Nothing to it, right?

    All the rest is just a debate about how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. Fun to imagine, but impossible to ever really know, in this life anyway.

    Even moral nonbelievers, when you just keep asking the rational for their morality, must come down to something akin to selfless love, whether they want to call it that or not. Where the nonbeliever is justifiably critical of religion is when it’s adherents commit acts of hatred in the name of their religion. But then, the nonbeliever is not criticizing belief so much as error of belief don’t you think?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. “It is incorrect to equate evil with God’s will.”

    Well, seems you might want to inform all of Christian-dom of that little item because that’s not what I have viewed from the rank-and-file devout… nor is it what I have been “taught” while growing up as a Lutheran.
    Look, my friend.. as I’ve passed on to Tom often enough it’s not my place in life to critique another person’s religion and most certainly I am not about to offend his preferences inside his own blog. Our differences are political. My first reply was to his suggestion that sounded like a “giving up” or a “surrender” that when all else fails (in this case, his frustration with incompetent politicians.. “incompetent” by his definition), that we need to turn to prayer. Prayer is fine as a personal inspiration but somehow throwing one’s hands up as that being some final solution toward something as real as a political preferences when all else fails seems a bit unrealistic to me.

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    1. Not sure why my reply didn’t register as a reply. I apologize for the duplication.

      “that’s not what I have viewed from the rank-and-file devout… nor is it what I have been “taught” while growing up as a Lutheran.”

      There is little point in having a conversation about beliefs if you’re stuck with what you were “taught” growing up. The beliefs of the ‘rank-and-file devout’ should have no bearing on your beliefs either.

      “…somehow throwing one’s hands up as that being some final solution toward something as real as a political preferences when all else fails seems a bit unrealistic to me.”

      Right. That’s why you didn’t see the word “prayer” in Tom’s post.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. @Doug

      John Branyan has given you a good explanation. What I will do is cite a few passages from the Bible.

      James 1:12-15 New King James Version (NKJV)

      12 Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

      God does not inspire evil. We do evil when we do not try to obey God. We endure temptation best by focusing our minds productively on something else, by trying to do the Will of God.

      The next passage requires more thought, especially verse 28.

      Romans 8:26-30 New King James Version (NKJV)

      26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

      28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

      God has a plan, but He is an infinite Being with infinite capacities. We cannot understand His plan. If you insist upon doing that, you are wasting your time.

      What a Christian does is try to make use of God’s wisdom. What an unbeliever does is try to do what is right in his own eyes. You want to understand what it means to do what is right in our own eyes. Read the Book of Judges. I have never read a more frightening horror story.

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      1. If a political position weighs on a moral issue, which pretty much covers all aspects of the political sphere, a Christian’s faith cannot be separated from it. It’s high time to inform the secularist of this.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Seems to me an argument could be made for devout people praying in a church and the Almighty decides, in all his divine wisdom of course, that he wants these devout people in heaven, and decides to send in a mass shooter to accomplish this, who may or may not be insane. But that really doesn’t matter because this shooter carried out God’s will… inside a spiritual refuge devoted to Him. And you are suggesting that since politicians are incompetent in their jobs (by your definition) we should all pray to figure out this problem??

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    1. Christianity doesn’t just suggest we pray to figure out problems. It reveals to us how we are responsible for creating the problems. If it were as simple as merely claiming “God’s will” every time we encounter evil, there would be no reason for Tom to suggest Christianity as a solution.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Depends on what you mean by “God’s will”.
          It was God’s will that people have autonomy. We have the ability to make decisions. God certainly understood that we would not always choose to be obedient. He knew our will would be at odds with His.

          It is not God’s will that we rebel against Him. Rebelling against God is called sin. Sin produces things like school shootings. It is incorrect to equate evil with God’s will.

          Liked by 1 person

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