WHERE HAS TOM BEEN? PLAYING HOOKY AT THE LION’S DEN

From here.
From here.

From time to time I enter into a debate. Since I don’t have much time for blogging, that sort of activity chews up my blogging time. Still debate is what makes blogging interesting. Celebrating the Word with lions can be especially interesting.

When I read ColorStorm‘s post, Circuits down but the word is good, I discovered Arkenaten taking issue with ‘s post. Whereas  argued for the truthfulness of the Word of God, argued the case for Atheism.

Since I enjoyed ‘s post and agreed, I took his side. Therefore, I expect had a great time as the center of our attention.  Nevertheless, I don’t think we wasted our time.

  •   ColorStorm says:

    You know CT, some think we waste our time by engaging so.

    But God can take our small effort, and sanctify them for His good. It is not only good for unbelievers and atheists to see the uselessness of godlessness, but for us believers to see just how far people will travel to dismiss God above all, and strengthen our faith and prove His word.

    And thx back to you for your always valuable time and commentary done so in the most gracious way.

What was my favorite comment?

  • last I checked, following Jesus was a free choice…you follow or you don’t…nothing about indoctrination in free…or so last I checked…
    and the moniker of imbecile is simply one poor soul’s opinion…
    but based on what I wonder…Is it based on your choice to be free and follow whom you so choose? Reminds me of those who probably watched Noah building that silly arc of his….no rain in sight…silly old man…imbecile some probably said…and then it rained.
    But wait, I forgot…that was just a fairy tale of indoctrination….
    silly me….

What we believe is a choice, and we each have the right make our own choices. What we do not have the right to do is force others to suffer the consequences. So it is that Noah could have been wrong, and he would have wasted decades of work, but it was his time to use as he chose.

What comment of my own pleased me the most? Well, some of them got rather lengthy. So I will just quote of a portion of one comment, but first let’s hear from .

The biblical character , Jesus of Nazareth never, ever once said he was Yahweh (your god) and there are several places he not only flatly denied it, but based on what whoever wrote the gospels stated, it would be utterly absurd to suggest he was, as, for example, who the hell was he talking to upon the cross when supposedly cried out:
.” lama sabachthani”.

or who was he praying to in the the garden of Gethsemane?
Himself?
These are some of the blatantly obvious examples that show the character Jesus of Nazareth was not Yahweh.
The Trinity along with the god hood was devised by the Roman Catholic Church.
Go study some history and don’t come with your whining apologetics to me. (from here)

Here I reply to .

Why did Jesus say “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). Have you ever read Psalm 22?

I read that quote, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?”, in the Gospels, and for years I was confused. Then I decided to study the Bible, and I finally came to Psalm 22. I was shocked into awe. Here => http://biblehub.com/psalms/22-1.htm is Matthew Henry’s explanation. Here => https://www.gty.org/resources/print/bible-qna/BQ032913 is John MacArthur’s explanation.

What happened on the cross when Jesus died? Frankly, I doubt we will ever understand, even if we have eternity to consider the matter.

That mystery is so great and imponderable that it is not surprising that Martin Luther is said to have gone into seclusion for a long time trying to understand it and came away as confused as when he began.

Some say that for a moment Jesus was split from the Father, and some disagree (=> https://carm.org/jesus-cross-father).

When I want to understand how and why Jesus suffered for our sins, both as man (Hebrews 2:14) and as God (John 14:7), I first refer to Isaiah 53. Then I read the Book of Hebrews. I believe, but I still do not understand. Mostly, I just weep when I think of it.

Consider the typical child. When our mothers gave birth to us, they suffered a price. Both our parents labored to feed, cloth, shelter, and love us. God, as our Father, paid an even greater price for us. He sacrificed His Son on our behalf.

The Trinity bothers you? Who did Jesus pray to in the garden of Gethsemane? Of course, the man Jesus prayed to His Father. The Son communed with His Father.

You want me to explain God? How would anyone? How could man explain this?

Philippians 2:5-11 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Humbled and Exalted Christ

5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

When people consider the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf, I think many just balk. The evidence is not the problem; it is the very idea of God humbling Himself that they refuse to accept. Since they would do no such thing, they are horrified their Creator would and might expect them to do the same. The horror of humbling ourselves before our Maker, the Creator of the Universe, particularly when He loves us so much, is too much. They cannot bring themselves to stoop (as they see it) so low. So why would God? They think God models their behavior, of course.

Jesus observed both haughtiness and humility, and He explained the crucial difference.

Luke 18:9-14 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
The Pharisee and the Publican

9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

(from here)

What do I find most sad about ‘s denial? Because he does not believe (apparently does not want to believe), cannot understand the Bible well. He is so busy trying to disprove the Bible that when he discovers an apparent contradiction he never seriously considers any explanation. At least, I know I once did that sort of thing. Nevertheless, knows the Bible better than most people who call themselves Christian, and that is sad.

1 Peter 3:15 New King James Version (NKJV)

15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;

If we don’t know what the Bible says, how can we give a defense? How can we say have any reason for our hope in our Savior, Jesus Christ?

THE JOY OF BEING TORMENTED?

cross.pngWhen Jesus spoke, He must have caused lots of confusion. Can you imagine trying to decipher The Beatitudes, this one, for example

Matthew 5:11-12 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Jesus had yet to die on the cross. He only just begun to teach. He had performed miracles, but just who was He? Nevertheless, His followers soon saw the truth in His words. Christians did suffer for their faith in Jesus and still suffer from insults, persecution, and false accusations.

Here in the United States we are supposed to consider the persecution of Christianity a minor thing. Yet it is not. It is just more subtle.  So we get articles like this:

All this sort of talk is silly.  What is at issue is whether our we can fulfill our Christian obligations, whether the society we live in tries interfere with our duty to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.

Consider two examples.

  • Do we want to educate our children in the Christian faith? Is it not obvious our government now hinders us in that effort. Over the decades, government has secularized our schools. They have practically banished the Bible, and they teach religion causes wars, including the Christian religion. Why would the leaders of our government do that? Christianity, which promotes individual rights, is an obstacle to the growth of government power, and some of our leaders crave more power.
  • Do we want the right to speak freely about our faith in public? Once that was commonplace in America, but over the years the mass media, desirous of selling sex and violence, has constantly pushed the envelope of decency. So it is that many corporate executives in the mass media, now dominated by sales people who want to use indecent behavior to mass market goods and services, feel obliged to repress Christians, who teach modesty, abhor gratuitous violence, and promote frugality.

Because sin is popular in all societies, even the United States, anyone who strives to follow the example of Jesus Christ will experience some degree of persecution. There is no point in pretending otherwise. The only issue is whether what we choose to do about it honors Jesus Christ.

WHO IS THIS MAN? by JOHN ORTBERG — PART 3

Here we continue with the third installment with a review of John Ortberg’s book, Who Is This Man? The previous two installments can be found by clicking on the links below.

We have been going through Ortberg’s book two chapters at a time. Since Election Day is just before us, I had hoped the next two chapters would be relevant, and they are.  Chapter 5 concerns how we should regard knowledge of the truth. Chapter 6 is about Jesus’ example of grace and humility.

Everyone Needs To Know The TRUTH

Chapter 5 begins with these words.

Jesus spent most of his life as a blue-collar worker, crafting benches and tables. Then one day he decided to change jobs.

The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890
The Sermon on the Mount
Carl Bloch, 1890 (from here)

Imagine. You are a carpenter, an ordinary carpenter in a poor village. Then you decide to become a rabbi, but not just any rabbi. Imagine as Ortberg describes the results of your first sermon.

Sitting down is the traditional teaching posture of the rabbi — the scholar-teachers of Israel. When Jesus sat down, he was proclaiming his new occupation. He claimed in his first message that God is a Gentile-lover ready to embrace anybody. Jesus claimed to know this. By the end of his sermon the congregation was so furious that they drove him out of town and attempted to throw him off a cliff. They resisted his knowledge.

Ortberg goes on to explain the importance of rabbis in Israel. The Jews had become the People of the Book. That book held the Jews together as a people, and the rabbis taught the Book.

As if He had written it, Jesus taught from the Book, and his disciples — His apostles — made His teachings famous. They added new chapters. They explained the Book was about Him.

Jesus taught to change lives — to change hearts — and He taught everyone. Unlike what our education system does in our secularized age, Jesus sought to instill values and morals, not just knowledge.

Ortberg cites Jesus’ final command to his disciples.

Matthew 28:18-20 New King James Version (NKJV)

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

So Jesus’ followers did something unheard of. They taught everyone, both men and women, slave and free.

Moreover, Jesus’s followers expanded their search for Truth beyond the confines of one small Book, believing as Augustine did, “All truth is God’s truth.”

In their search for knowledge of God’s truth, Christians made their monasteries into universities. Even in America, our first universities were Christian seminaries.

America’s education system originated in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Yet oddly enough, these very same universities now have almost nothing to say about Jesus. Why? Where did we go wrong?

What Makes Someone Great?

Chapter 6 describes the difference between aspiring to greatness (in human eyes) and attempting to serve God.

There are two ways to think about a meaningful life, says Georgetown University professor Francis Ambrosio.  One is the way of the hero; the other is the way of the saint. In the Greco-Roman world, what was admired was the hero. A hero is somebody who overcame obstacles to achieve his full potential or excellence and therefore to receive status, honor, and recognition. Life is a striving for this recognition.

Ortberg, using comparisons we are with familiar with today, describes the Greco-Roman world as thoroughly hierarchical and status conscious.  Christians were an affront to such people. Their hero — their Redeemer — died ignominiously crucified on a cross, and Christians proudly served this Redeemer, slaves to a slave? Thus, the way of the saint competed with the way of a hero. In fact, even today that competition continues.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio.
The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio. (from here)

Can you imagine how Jesus’ disciples reacted to these words?

Matthew 20:26-28 New King James Version (NKJV)

26 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant. 27 And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

The way of the hero is our natural inclination. That God would die a humiliating death upon a cross for our sake defies explanation. That’s what it means to be The Savior? Even Jesus’ apostles balked at the idea. Only after the resurrection did they believe.

Who wants to be a great slave? Yet Jesus taught that we should gather titles only as opportunities to serve, that true heroism involves sacrificing our self for others, not for our own self-aggrandizement.

A Thought For Election Day

What passes for conventional wisdom from the broadcast news is that we vote based upon pocketbook issues. Perhaps that is true, but such narrow-minded foolishness is destroying our constitutional republic. When Christians vote, we have an obligation to vote for the good of our family, friends, neighbors, and countrymen. If our leaders have to twist our Constitution into a pretzel to get what we want for our self, then what we want is wrong. If we have to rob our neighbors or even our own children to get what we want for our self, then what we want is wrong.

When we require our leaders to lie and steal for us, our government will not protect the rights of our family, friends, neighbors and countrymen. That kind of government will only make beaten slaves of us all.

Jesus gave us an example of what a leader should be, full of truth and grace. He taught and served both the great and the humble with equal grace and humility. He gave of Himself. He did not steal and give what belongs to others. He gave His own life, not the life of another. When we vote, we must remember we have a duty to imitate our Savior. We can be charitable following the example of Jesus only if we give from our own heart.

WHO IS THIS MAN? by JOHN ORTBERG — PART 1

who-is-this-manEven those who do not believe he was God must find the life of Jesus of Nazareth incongruous. Yet do they ever wonder? How did a mere man, a man unbelievers say was not God and never did anything, ever become the most famous man in history?  Well, the unbelievers are wrong. Jesus did quite a bit, and that is the point of John Ortberg‘s book, Who Is This Man?

In chapter 1, Ortberg begins his book by observing that Jesus did not become famous in any of the usual ways. He was not a conquering general of armies. He was a teacher, but not just a teacher. He was not particularly famous in His lifetime, but He left a church that grew and spread His Gospel.

Made In The Image Of God (Chapter 2)

We live in a nation — in a Christian culture — that believes that we were all made in the image of God. There was a time men did not believe any such thing. Some men, like the emperor or the king, claimed kinship with the gods, but rest of men? No. Some men were thus thought literally better than other men.

Until 2,000 years ago, when Jesus taught about the virtue of humility, the elites did not bridle their pride. In fact, except for those unfortunates at the bottom of the pecking order, most men thought it appropriate to “peck” upon those lower than themselves in the pecking order. Their justification was simple enough.

The king was divine, or semi-divine. The king was understood to be made in the image of the god who created him. Only the king was made in the image of god. This was the dividing line between the king and the rest of the human race. Peasants and slave were not made in the image of god; they were created by inferior gods. (from Chapter 2, page 25)

Jesus taught differently. He said there is only one God, and He made all of us in His image. Jesus destroyed any justification for a pecking order. In Jesus Christ we are all God’s children.

Colossians 3:5-11 New King James Version (NKJV)

Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you have put off the old man with his deeds, 10 and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, 11 where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.

Because of Jesus, the men who wrote our Declaration of Independence added these words.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. –That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, (from here)

To be continued