Posts Tagged With: theology

It’s So Sad-You-See (as in the Sadducess). It really is.

As you are about to hear in this new PODCAST, a new day dawned upon these first committed Christ-followers.

If that metaphor of a new day seemingly overstates the case, then at least we can say that a dark cloud now-shadowed the sun for these first committed Christ-followers. Not quite on the level of our eclipse; but portentous just the same. An ominous bellwether that signaled for these early believers a change in the temperature of Holy City.

For the first eight-12 weeks following Crucifixion and Resurrection, these early believers were able to bask in the glow of their newfound faith unmolested.

Not any more.

Persecution was about to break out for first time in the now-2000 year history of Church. Relatively mild at first. No one died. No one was beaten. It was limited to Peter and John.

But as you will hear, it did involve intimidation, incarceration, and threats of greater reprisals if the apostles refused to cease and desist as far as their preaching in Jesus’ name was concerned.

Refuse they did.

This was a harbinger of things to come. A dark cloud heralding a storm. A storm that continues to rage unabated to our day. Not here in America so much. But certainly in many parts of our troubled world, where committed Christ-followers today attend gatherings at great risk of life-threatening peril to themselves and their families.

As is becoming increasing clear in our ongoing study of Peter in HD, we stand in awe at the strength and resilience of these very first believers—our ancestors in faith, to whom we owe so much, and who have SO MUCH to teach us. As they will do here in this week’s study.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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Of Slugs and Kings

creationNot to be clichéd! But if the words, “Mission Accomplished” ever meant anything to anyone in any situation, they absolutely apply here in John 17.

As you are about to hear in this PODCAST, this is the moment, courtesy of John, now forever frozen in time.

The singular moment toward which all of human history, going all the way back to the Garden of Eden, had been slowly but steadily building.

The seminal moment from which the remainder of human history, down to our present day, has been rapidly descending.

The consequential moment when Jesus could literally look up to Heaven and finally acknowledge,

“I brought glory to You here on earth by completing the work You gave me to do.”

Such mystery, such majesty, in these few words.

Indeed, a Mission — the Mission — Accomplished!

That mission that Jesus Himself defined when He said in referring to Himself,

“For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost” (Luke 19:10).

Which, as you are about to learn, means far more than pulling people out of Hell. Indeed, infinitely more!

When the biblical writers, as well as Jesus, use the words “save” or “saved,” it means far more than whether we are going to Heaven or Hell when we die. Sadly, most of our Gospel-presentations focus almost exclusively on that locational / destinational dynamic.

However, a most compelling fact emerges from the first few words of Jesus’ prayer here in John 17.

As we are about to learn, if one’s view of his or her salvation centers primarily upon the notion that salvation is basically a “Get Out of Hell Free” card, we miss so much precious truth. So.Much.More than our finite minds can even begin fully to appreciate.

But try to appreciate it, we must.

So in an effort to appreciate it, let me take you on a bit of a journey, far back in time, to a faraway place, in order to show you where and why this journey originally began. All the way back to what is arguably the single most important verse in all of the Bible.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Mysterious Member of the Trinity (Part 3)

seal_of_the_united_states_department_of_justice-svgFear not, my friends. As you will hear in this PODCAST, Justice will be done!

Trust me. (Better yet, trust Jesus!) JUSTICE WILL BE DONE!

Welcome to Part Three in this 3-part mini-series within a series concerning the Mysterious Member of the Trinity, AKA The Holy Spirit.

Here in the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus presented to His disciples the first extended discussion of the Holy Spirit to be found anywhere in the Bible.

Yes, the Holy Spirit was very present and quite active in the Old Testament, making His first appearance in second verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:2. But not-so-strangely enough, there is within the pages of the Bible no extended discussion of the Holy Spirit until we break the seal on John 14-17, the Upper Room Discourse.

I say not-so-strangely because of a tantalizing little detail that Jesus shared with His men right in the middle of the Upper Room Discourse, in John 15:26 (CEV):

“I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father and shows what is true. The Spirit will help you and will tell you about Me.”

The Holy Spirit, third person in the Triune Godhead, did not inspire the biblical writers in either the Old nor the New Testaments to write about Himself; He inspired them to write about Jesus. So it is not-so-strange, is not surprising, that it’s not until the 43rd book of the Bible (John), in the final Gospel of the four (John), and in the last of Jesus’ sermons (the Upper Room Discourse) before we are greeted with, and treated to, an exposition of the person and purpose of the Holy Spirit.

BTW, given that the Jesus-mandated-mission of the Holy Spirit is (Jesus’ words, not mine) “to tell you about Me,” I must briefly interject a most important word of caution concerning various ministries, certain denominations, and some peoples’ personal prophetic pronouncements.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Mysterious Member of the Trinity (Part 2)

flickr-holy-spirit-stained-glassYou could call the Holy Spirit Jesus’ going away present, first to His disciples, and then, of course, to each of us. As you will hear in this PODCAST, we’re talking about The Third Member of Trinity, the Mysterious Member of the Trinity.

Here in John 14-17 — the so-called Upper Room Discourse, even though as we noted last week, Jesus taught the amazing truths of John 15-17 after He and the disciples-minus-Judas had hastily departed the Upper Room, steps ahead of the Judas-led-posse seeking Jesus’ arrest — we have the first extended theological discussion of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament, actually in the entire Bible.

Up until now the biblical writers have been largely silent regarding the multifaceted ministry of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the Holy Spirit is mentioned throughout the Old Testament. But the doctrine of the Holy Spirit is not developed in the Old Testament. This, as you are about to hear, for very good reason, one that harkens all the way back to the very first podcast in this series.

So here we have, in the Upper Room Discourse, one of the very few places in Scripture where the biblical writers (in this case, John) devote much ink and parchment to a discussion of the Mysterious Member of the Trinity.

One of three principle themes that Jesus develops in this, His  farewell address to His men, literally minutes before His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Underscoring this entire Upper Room Discourse is a vitally

important principle to which Jesus alluded in High Priestly Prayer that we will study in detail in John 17. A declarative sentence of very few words that speaks volumes as to how Jesus wants His committed followers then and now to engage the world in which we live.

John 17:15: “Father, I do not ask you to take my followers out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.”

HOW UTTERLY IRONIC!!! (I’ll tell just how ironic in this podcast. Enjoy!)

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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A Fox in the Henhouse

Jerusalem-4There is No.Clearer.Picture in all of the Bible of the heart of God towards sinners — I’m talking the hardest of hardhearted sinners — than this one right here in Luke 13.

A Scriptural snapshot that will go a long way to defining your biblical view of God and your biblical understanding of Jesus, both as a man and as God.

If you think of the Bible as a picture book, Luke paints for us a portrait of Jesus that is, quite frankly, irresistible, and most refreshing to my soul. It will be to yours as well. Guaranteed.

One that comes to us, ironically enough, thanks to a small cadre of good Pharisees. Yes! Heard me right. Good Pharisees.

The Pharisees as a group, as we have discussed in weeks gone by, and as you therefore understand, were historically among Jesus’ chief tormentors. That being said, there were in the minority some good Pharisees.

  • Nicodemus comes to mind as a good Pharisee, one who lovingly cared for Jesus’ body after the crucifixion.
  • In Mark 12, Jesus told a good Pharisee that he was “not far from the Kingdom of God.”
  • In Acts 15, reference is made to a number of good Pharisees who were committed Christ-followers.
  • And here in Luke 13, we find a small group of good Pharisees who traveled likely from Galilee to Perea to warn Jesus about the murderous intentions of Antipas.

This, my dear friends, is quite a gripping story.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed, it may take up to 60 seconds for this podcast to begin to play.

God bless you richly as you listen.

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The Wonder of It All (or if you prefer, Embracing Paradox)

cosmic-wonderBelieve it or not, there is in the Bible a grand total of (Are you ready?) 31,102 verses.

And, as you are about to hear in this PODCAST, of these 31,102 verses, the one verse that best summarizes the state of my relationship with God is this one verse here in Mark 9.

In all honesty, this is right where I live.

And, were the truth to be told, I’d be willing to wager that most of us live here too.

The words you are about to hear, uttered by the desperate dad in this story, could well be my words, my plea, my prayer…

…Every day in every situation.

And I rather suspect they could be yours as well.

Please remember that depending upon your web browser and connection speed it may take up to 60 seconds for the podcast to begin to play.

God bless you as you listen.

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“The Bible Made Me Do It!” (Spiritual Abuse, Part 4)

The deafeningly loud question that now demands an answer is,

Why our propensity to do what Jesus expressly told us not to do? Namely, “Do not judge others”?

The cause, believe it or not, lies in our faulty 4-point theology:

1. We tell people, Just pray a “Jesus Prayer,” or what is sometimes called “the Sinner’s Prayer,”and you’re in.

When we ask someone to tell us their testimony, what are we asking? When/where did you pray the “sinner’s prayer”? We have come to believe that becoming a Christian is all about “asking Jesus into your heart.” IOW, praying a Jesus prayer.

2. We then give them a birthday (You know how Jesus described our new relationship with Him as “being born again”?) a new-birth birthday present: a Bible. Which I’ll remind is called (in Hebrews 4) “a double-edged sword.”

Now that’s quite a metaphor, as you’ll see in mere moments. A double-edged sword.

3. We then teach them that they are competent to use it.

We buttress this claim of competency with verses like John 16:13, which is so typically yanked out of its context and twisted to mean something totally different than the biblical writer intended for it to mean:

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.

There it is, we tell our newly-born convert. Just pick up your Bible and read it. And as you read it, the Holy Spirit will personally teach you what the Bible says, what the Bible means, how the Bible should be applied not only to our lives, but to the lives of everyone around us.

I mean, this gets downright frightening! Because we put this doubled-edged sword into the hands of babes whose only claim to fame is that they prayed a prayer.

What, do tell, is the context of John 16:13? The basis of the claim of competency of brand new baby Christians to wield their swords? Listen to what Jesus actually said IN CONTEXT:

There is so much more I want to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you (Who’s the you? Who was in the Upper Room with Jesus when He said this?) into all the truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you what is yet to come.

Not to get too theological on you here. But John 16:13 is NOT what we call an Illumination verse. John 16:13 is a Revelation verse. This passage that has nothing to do with the faulty notion that you and I just pick up our Bibles and read them. And the Holy Spirit will personally teach us what the Bible says, what it means, and how it should be applied not only to our lives, but to the lives of everyone around us.

If it did, why do we need teachers? Why listen to sermons? Why read commentaries? Why study the languages–vocabulary/grammar? Why understand the culture? Why learn the geography? Why learn the history? Why learn archaeology?

John 16:13 has nothing to do with us. Jesus made this promise to His disciples on the night before His crucifixion. This verse has everything to do with the apostles writing the New Testament!

OK, so, pray a prayer and you’re in. Here’s your double-edged sword. You are competent to use it.

4. We then teach them — if you can imagine this — we teach them that the highest virtue of Christian living is to take their Bibles — their double-edged swords, lethal weapons, placed in the hands of these, what Peter called in 1 Peter 2:2, “newborn babies” — and to wield these swords at each other.

How? By “Holding.People.Accountable.” Like some self-appointed judge or Krino.)

 

Krinos who just LOVE to spot something not quite kosher in your life or mine, wag a finger of judgment at us, spew a memory verse or two, and then smugly walk away thinking that sure did serve Jesus today by taking a stand for His truth.

***And We Wonder Why So Many Sincere Christ-Followers Get Devastated By “Christians” In Church???***

We say that Christians are notorious for shooting their wounded, Yes? I’d suggest that — to use the biblical metaphor — “Christians,” not Christ-followers (You know by now how often I make that subtle-yet-significant distinction) — “Christians” are notorious for stabbing, slashing, and decapitating their wounded.

jesusdo“Christians” do that. Christ-followers don’t. Why? Because by definition, Christ-followers follow Jesus. They seek to put into practice what Jesus said. They seek to do what Jesus did. And what Jesus said, and what Jesus did was this:

Do not judge others.

“Christians” judge others. They make a sport of judging others. Christ-followers do not.

So one final question to consider: How should you and I respond to those “Christians” who do judge others? We’ll answer that question tomorrow. And the answer to that question will astound you.

But just in case you cannot wait that long, you can hear the entire discussion by clicking here:

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