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Author Archives: Jeremiah Blasi

Leaning in TRUTH

It has been my intention to continue jotting down some notes from my meditations on Isaiah 10. As you can tell, I haven’t exactly done what I planned! Things are just busy, and when I get home, I’m worn out and ready to relax a little bit. Therefore I don’t have much time to spend in front of the computer screen. However, as I have time, I’ll write down a few thoughts.

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.”—Isaiah 10:20-21

As we continue to meditate on “leaning in truth”, we must recognize that the idea of truth relates to God’s revelation of himself. As God speaks through the prophet Isaiah, he bases his proclamations on what the nation of Israel already knows. They have received the oracles of God, and have been disobedient to them. In the covenant God made with them, he made clear the consequences for disobedience. Despite that clear Word, they have repeatedly rejected God’s truth. God now prophesies of the future. His people will return. They will obey. They will learn to depend absolutely on their gracious God. And they will do it because God has faithfully revealed himself repeatedly through their history.

But not only has God revealed himself to the nation of Israel, he has in these days spoken unto us by his Son! Peter tells us that we have a more sure word of prophecy. Jesus told his disciples is that they would do greater things than he had done following his ascension to the Father. It would not be through their skilled efforts, but because of the sure work of the Holy Spirit in them.

God does not expect us to depend on mere myths and fables. We do not rest on platitudes or clichés. Rather, we lean on him in truth—through his clear revelation of himself in the Scriptures that he has so graciously given us.

May we read, study, memorize, and meditate in what he has given so that we do not simply trust in a god of our own making, out of our imagination, but in the One who alone has the words of life. May God give us the grace to LEAN on him in TRUTH!
 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Perseverance in our Leaning

I haven’t been able to get away from Isaiah 10 – so much meat here! Of course, I have been reading more, but my meditation continues in these verses.

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.”

Notice that the prophet proclaims that God’s remnant will lean “in truth”. This is a powerful description. In both the OT and the NT, this idea carries much weight. Over the next couple days, I’ll point out a few brief thoughts on what this statement includes.

“In truth” means that God’s people lean steadfastly – faithfully. This is the perseverance of God’s saints! As you read the book of Isaiah, and later the New Testament, I believe it is plain that these prophecies find their fulfillment in the time of the Messiah. Christ came as the suffering servant to provide redemption for His people. As he draws his remnant to himself, he is faithful to perform that which he has begun in us. That is, He causes us to lean on Him, and causes us to continue to lean.

All of life is for this purpose: that we might know the Father, and the Son He sent, through the continuing ministry of the Holy Spirit. That’s why God worked the way He did in the Old Testament, and He has not changed. He is bringing us to Him that we may lean on Him, and find our complete satisfaction in His goodness.
 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Leaning on our Rock

I’ve continued meditating on Isaiah 10.20-21. It’s really an astounding passage!

 

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.”

 

Who “struck” them? In context, the striker was their enemy, the Assyrian. Are we expected to believe that they actually leaned on their enemy? The history of the nation demonstrates that they did!

Just look at the fulfilled prophecy in their return from exile in Ezra and Nehemiah. We make much of the return, but often fail to remember that the majority of the nation actually stayed behind in the enemy land. If this should seem odd, it was a pattern. Don’t you remember how that, when things got tough, the Israelites in the wilderness longed to return to Egypt, where they had it so much better? Was it really better? Of course not. But when their eyes were not fixed on Yahweh, it was easy to confuse reality.

How the same is true even of us! So often, we “lean” on the very thing that will destroy us. We cling to our sin instead of our Savior. We lean on our enemy instead of on Ebenezer. We trust in the riches of this world instead of the reward of eternity.

May God, in His sovereign mercy, redirect our lean. Instead of finding support in those things that will fall away, bringing us with them, let us plead that we will lean on the rock which endures forever.
 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Bible Study, Devotional

 

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Learning to Lean

On my mildly stressful drive this morning, I was listening to the book of Isaiah. I was in chapter 10, listening to the section on God’s sovereignty even over evil emperors to accomplish his purpose, when I was struck by something a little later in the chapter:

“In that day the remnant of Israel and the survivors of the house of Jacob will no more lean on him who struck them, but will lean on the Lord, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the mighty God.” (vs. 20-21)

So even in God’s purpose being accomplished by the sin of the nation of Assyria, his purpose is to draw his people to himself. It is a guarantee (election will be accomplished). I’ve focused much from this passage on God’s sovereignty even over sin. However, these verses jumped out at me declaring God’s purpose – it’s to glorify himself by surely drawing His people.

Be comforted: while you are absolutely responsible for your sin, it does not thwart God’s purposes! Nor is God scrambling to figure out how to “fix” it. He is always at work to make us lean on Him.

May we lean in truth, no matter the circumstances!

 
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Posted by on February 24, 2015 in Bible Study, Commentary, Devotional

 

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Review of “One Bible, Many Versions”

“My work as a translator brought me to the realization that literal Bible versions in English often take turns being the most (or least) literal among their peers. . . I was shocked to find that not only are literal versions not always literal, but sometimes the notably nonliteral versions are more literal than the so-called literal ones.”  (p. 30)

“All translations use meaning-based translation principles to varying degrees.  It is not a question of whether or not translators will change the form but rather how much of the form will they try to preserve.  It appears that the one thing that is truly consistent in Bible translation is the fact that it is impossible to be truly consistent.” (p. 132)

The following is a helpful review of a recently published book. The review itself is well worth reading. The review was written by Doug Kutilek, and published in his monthly e-magazine. The magazine is free to subscribe, and contains helpful articles on diverse subjects. You can find more information at http://www.kjvonly.org/aisi/aisi_intro.htm.

One Bible, Many Versions by Dave Brunn.  Downer’s Grove, Illinois: IVP, 2013.  205 pp., paperback.

The author is “director of education for New Tribes Mission Missionary Training Center” (to quote the back cover) and was formerly phonetics instructor at the NTM Language and Linguistics Institute.  He is an experienced Bible translator, having made a translation of the Scriptures into Lamogai, one of the tribal languages of the interior of Papua New Guinea, a twenty-years-long labor.

Brunn discusses at length the theory and practice of Bible translation, particularly the tension between “formal equivalence” / “essentially literal” translations such as, e.g., the KJV, ESV and NASB, and “functional equivalence” / “meaning equivalence” versions such as the NIV, HCSB and NLT.  With numerous charts, he shows that while on the whole the ESV and NASB are more “literal,” there are numerous times where one or both of these abandon a formal equivalence translation for a meaning equivalence one, and in not a few of these cases, one or more of the meaning equivalence versions is more literal than the “essentially literal” versions!

While it is true that the form of the Scriptures in Hebrew and Greek is verbally-inspired, inspiration also includes the meaning of those words (see my article from As I See It 7:6, “Inspired Words and Inspired Thoughts, or Variant Readings in the Inspired Autographs”).  Sometimes strictly preserving the verbal form of the original–say, an infinitive, or a genitive case, or subjunctive verb form, or a participle, or an idiom–, would actually impede comprehension by the reader of the translation, and in such cases strict adherence to the form of the original would fail to convey the meaning of the original.  So there is always this tension: how literal is too literal?  How free is too free?  This is why Bible translation is commonly referred to as both an art and a science.

The issue of literal versus literary translation is less an issue in languages not related to Greek or Hebrew.  English is part of the same family of languages as Greek (Indo-European; of the 6,909 known living human languages, “only” 426 are I-E), and so formally and syntactically has many features in common with Greek, making literal translation possible much of the time.  But Hebrew is from a wholly unrelated family (Semitic) and so literal translation from Hebrew into English is much less often possible (anyone who has studied Hebrew and the OT original can testify that this is the case); on the other hand Hebrew can be much more readily and literally translated into other Semitic languages such as Aramaic, Syriac and Arabic.  But when you seek to translate both Greek and Hebrew into wholly unrelated languages such as Lamogai (or Japanese, Chinese or Swahili), it immediately becomes apparent that meaning must take precedent over form when the two are at odds, if the translation is to be intelligible and effectively and accurately communicate God’s inspired truth to the target people.

Among the difficulties every translator faces is dealing with the matter of gender in translation.  Some languages have three grammatical genders, some have two and some have none, possessing only “natural gender” or even none at all.  The nature and use of pronouns varies from language to language, and there is regularly an imperfect correspondence between languages, which renders formal equivalence translation impossible.  This requires adjustments and improvisation in translation.  The work of translation, if done accurately and intelligibly, is often extremely laborious and exhausting, and those who haven’t or couldn’t do it have insufficient appreciation for the difficulties that it involves.

The author affirms with entire justification that one major cause of much of the long-standing controversy in English over Bible translations is the monolingualism of our culture and of most English speakers.  Such is not the case in many other parts of the world–e.g., bi-lingual continental Europeans are commonplace, and tri- and quadra-lingual Europeans are not rare.  We on the whole don’t have the broad linguistic experience, exposure and knowledge to have a clear and well-informed perspective on the issue.

The author does not quote two of the most famous aphorisms regarding the issue of translations, though I am sure that he would affirm their accuracy.  The first is the Italian, “traduttori traditori,” lit. “translators are traitors,” that is, they always fail to do full justice to the text they translate in conveying its meaning but only its meaning in translation.  The second is the “golden mean” of translation: “As literal as possible, as free as necessary.”

It is suggested that a person should, if possible, regularly read both an “essentially literal” and a “functional equivalent” translation.  I whole-heartedly concur (see As I See It 10:3, “Which Bible–For Today?” in which I recommend two of each sort–NASB and ESV, and NIV (1984) and HCSB.  Decades ago (1965), F. F. Bruce produced a parallel edition of Paul’s epistles, The Letters of Paul, with the highly literal ERV of 1881 in parallel to Bruce’s own paraphrase of these letters.  I read it through with considerable profit.  Zondervan has a parallel NASB-NIV edition with an interlinear translation of the Greek text [Nestle 21st ed.]–a very handy format, especially for the beginning student of Greek.  I also own and use a parallel Spanish Bible with the RV 1960 and NVI, and a four-version Spanish NT, as well as a two-translation German NT with the Nestle Greek [26th ed.]).

Two subjects not addressed in this volume are 1. the matters of translator bias—corrupt theology and down-right dishonesty–which seriously, even fatally, mars the reliability and usability of such English versions as the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation, the RSV and NRSV, the NEB and several others; and 2. translator competence, that is, does he have the necessary language and linguistic knowledge and training to produce an accurate and reliable version?  Brunn no doubt assumes that a Bible translator should be both honest and competent before beginning his work.  Oh, that all in fact were!

There are a few factual errors.  On p. 77, he writes as if Wycliffe made his translation from the Greek (logos) when of course his work was made from Jerome’s Latin translation of the Greek; and it is implied that Tyndale was influenced in his translation by Wycliffe, when this was almost certainly not the case (both knew and used the Latin Vulgate, which no doubt accounts for their common rendering in the place in question; Tyndale also had Erasmus’ Latin version and Luther’s German NT).  On p. 80, in quoting a word from the Greek of Rev. 22:18 (three times on the page), he gives the nominative singular “vocabulary” form logos instead of the form actually found in the text, logous, the plural accusative.  On p. 97, note 27, he inadvertently incorrectly inserts the words “of-the” in his literal rendering of a phrase from Matthew 1:6

This is an worthwhile book on the theory and practice of Bible translation, and will introduce that reader to the problems, pitfalls and possibilities of Bible translation in the modern era.  For those with limited or no foreign language training or knowledge, it will certainly serve as an eye-opener.  Some who are unjustifiably vehement in their opinions regarding English Bible versions might find cause for re-evaluation of some of their dogmas.

Doug Kutilek

Some quotations from One Bible, Many Versions.–

“My work as a translator brought me to the realization that literal Bible versions in English often take turns being the most (or least) literal among their peers. . . I was shocked to find that not only are literal versions not always literal, but sometimes the notably nonliteral versions are more literal than the so-called literal ones.”  (p. 30)

“All translations use meaning-based translation principles to varying degrees.  It is not a question of whether or not translators will change the form but rather how much of the form will they try to preserve.  It appears that the one thing that is truly consistent in Bible translation is the fact that it is impossible to be truly consistent.” (p. 132)

“In such a version as the one commonly in use [i.e., the KJV] in this country [i.e. England], there are scarcely two consecutive verses where there is not some departure from the original such as those indicated, and where these variations may be counted by tens of thousands, as admitted on all hands, it is difficult to see how verbal inspiration can be of the least practical use to those who depend upon that version alone.” (p. 162.  Quoting, not approvingly, Robert Young [1822-1888], famous for his analytical concordance of the Bible, and his literal English translation (1863).  Young strongly favored the translation principle of “as literal as possible, and then some.”  The quote is notable in being the opinion of a strong literalist toward the KJV’s frequent lack of literal translation–Editor)

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2014 in Bible Study

 

An Interpretation of Acts 1:1-8

Someone on a forum asked a question about the interpretation of Acts 1:6-8 in regards to the kingdom of God from the “Gospel Millennial” position, also unfortunately known as “amillennialism”. This is my attempt to give an answer.

Dispensational theologians break up the passage. They see Jesus speaking of the kingdom of God in verse 3, and then, in their minds, he drops this subject until the disciples ask about it in verse 6. I don’t believe he changes the subject back and forth, rather, he’s dealing with the kingdom throughout the passage.

Remember that Jesus has addressed the kingdom much already. He spoke much of it throughout the Gospel records. He told Pilate very plainly, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Now, he spends 40 days speaking of it to his disciples. To make the assumption that his teaching is substantially different here from what he’s been teaching throughout his ministry would be eisegesis.

Further, why would he spend 40 days teaching on something that wouldn’t really matter a bit in the lives of the disciples? According to DT, the disciples will go through their lives, suffering for something that Jesus promised but they would never see. And if he really taught of a physical, earthly reign of 1,000.000 years, how could he have missed teaching them concerning the timing of it?

Rather, consider that the entire passage is dealing with the same truth. Go back to verses 1-2: “…all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands…” Verse 3 tells us more about what he was teaching – “the kingdom of God.” Then verse 4 continues the theme. They are instructed to wait for the promise of the Father. What is that promise? The very thing he’s been teaching for the last 40 days: the kingdom! His continued statement of John’s baptism with water compared with the baptism of the Holy Spirit coming soon is simply an extension of that teaching. He does not give them a day, just tells them to wait for the promise. The Spirit will empower them, making it very clear that God is working through the church. Note the groups on whom the Spirit comes throughout the book of Acts – Gentiles and Jews alike, demonstrating the broken wall of partition.

In verse 6, when the disciples ask the question of timing, they are continuing the conversation. Jesus has said, “Wait.” He is now preparing to ascend, and they are assuming that the fullness of the promise is at hand. Their wrong assumption is that of the centrality of physical, geographical Israel in the kingdom (Israel is central, but it is as described by Paul in Galatians 4 and Romans 9/11). Far from ignoring their question, Jesus answers it by showing the universality of the spread of the kingdom.

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” In other words, “Wait!” Do exactly as you have been instructed, and let God work in his own time. The kingdom will be manifested, but its fulness and consummation are up to God (compare Daniel 2 and 1 Corinthians 15).

“But you will receive power” – The promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the manifestation of the kingdom that were addressed in 3-5

“When the Holy Spirit has come upon you” – This is, I believe, a clear reference to Isaiah 32. The first verse makes it plain that “a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule in justice.” Now note verse 15, to which I believe Jesus refers: “Until the spirit is poured upon us from on high…” The reference is plain. Read also Isaiah 44:3 – “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Much prophecy is fulfilled at Pentecost, not only Joel 2!

“And you will be my witnesses” – Could it be another Old Testament reference? It sure is! Read Isaiah 43. God speaks there of gathering his seed from the ends of the earth. From the north, south, east, and west, he will gather all of his elect. How will he accomplish this work? Verse 10 says, “You are my witnesses…”, and again in verse 12, “You are my witnesses, declares the Lord.”

“In Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” – Yet another reference to Isaiah here: in chapter 49, God speaks again of gathering Israel (his elect) to himself. in the end of verse 6 he says, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

And just in case you try to say that those passages in Isaiah cannot be used in that manner in this “dispensation”, take note of how Paul himself uses those very passages. In Acts 13:47, he defends turning to the Gentiles based on the Lord’s command in Isaiah 49:6, the very passage quoted above!

Peter seems to follow this interpretation in chapter 2 as he speaks of the fulfilled prophecy of Joel, as well as the fulfillment of the covenant with David in Christ. Finally, note one other passage in Acts that supports the understanding that this was the belief of the apostles themselves. We’re all familiar with the dispute and resolution of the questions of law in chapter 15. Note James’ words in verses 14-18:

“Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take from them a people for his name. And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written,
“‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the tent of David that has fallen;
I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it, that the remnant of mankind may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by my name, says the Lord, who makes these things known from of old.'”

It just so happens that James is quoting from Amos 9:11-12, demonstrating that it is fulfilled exactly as God had promised!

Therefore, Jesus was not evading the question of the disciples. Rather, he answered it in a way that they clearly understood when the promise of the Father had come upon them.

I hope I have been clear. Even if you disagree, I trust you will see recognize the desire to carefully interpret Scripture.

Grace and Peace to you.

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2014 in Bible Study

 

We Live If Ye Stand

Pastor Roy Johnson

Pastor Roy Johnson

Last Friday night, God called another special man home to heaven. Dr. Roy Johnson was my first pastor. Of course, I was completely unaware of the fact at the time, but his influence was far-reaching. The Lord saved my parents a month before I was born at Messiah Baptist Church in Wichita, Kansas, where Dr. Johnson pastored. We were only there for a year, but God used his ministry to give my parents a solid foundation in biblical teaching that gave them a good start in spiritual discernment.

We came back to Messiah years later, during the first of my teenage years, but Dr. Johnson had retired by that time. Our fellowship was renewed when he joined the church my parents were members of a number of years ago. Over the past few years, I’ve been blessed by letters, an occasional phone conversation, and visits. I’ve had opportunities to talk to him about ministry issues, and just life in general. 5 years ago, Dr. Johnson was on my ordination council when I began pastoring Grace Baptist Church. I’m grateful to have been influenced by a man who has served the Lord faithfully for many years.

Dr. Johnson

Dr. Johnson

I was blessed to be able to take part in his funeral service yesterday (September 12). I played the piano for the congregational music, and my wife and I sang “New Grace”. The preacher who gave the message mentioned Hebrews 12, where it is said of Adam, “he being dead yet speaketh.” He asked all the preachers in the audience to stand. There were probably 30 preachers and missionaries in attendance whose lives had been touched by Dr. Johnson! That’s only a small sampling of all the others scattered around the globe. As I thought on this, I was once again reminded of a verse that holds a special place in my heart.

“And now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord.”

     — I Thessalonians 3:8

One of my greatest memories of my time at Crown College in Powell, Tennessee was the baccalaureate service on the Sunday evening prior to my graduation. It was a great relief: 4 years of schooling were over! I learned much in those years, developed many friendships, and met and married the love of my life. Out of hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours of listening to Bible classes, sermons, etc., the message Clarence Sexton brought that night from I Thessalonians is the one that has stuck with me since. Maybe it was the timing of the service, but I think it was the content of the message that made such an impact. I remember the outline he used (I may have a word off, but I think it’s the same!).

Pastor and Evangelist Forrest Keener

Pastor and Evangelist Forrest Keener

The point is this: As long as we remain faithful to the things we have been taught, those who taught us continue to live. Paul could not remain constantly with the Thessalonians. But while they heeded his instruction to take heed for the coming of the Lord, and continued in faith and charity, he would remain with them through their obedience. I’ve been blessed to have known many faithful preachers of the gospel who have passed on. I think of several college professors who taught me much: Keith Kiser, and his love for the Word of God; Richard Worsham, and his tenacity and desire for God to work through the ministry of the church; Forrest Keener, with a steadfast focus on the great truths of God’s Word; Jim Gaylor, and his tenderness for God’s people; Roy Johnson, with a real pastor’s heart; and others that have been a personal encouragement to me.

If we are to be faithful, how must we stand?

Stand Convincingly.

There are many who are wishy-washy in their beliefs. They never want their positions to be nailed down.

When it comes to the great truths of the gospel, we must be grounded in conviction. There are too many issues of great importance that require a solid biblical answer. When dealing with the world, we must take strong positions on the issues of our day: child murder, the desecration of marriage, the culture of death, the glamorization of sin, etc. Even among believers (and professing believers) we must be willing to stand on important things: the centrality of the gospel, the sufficiency of Christ, the authority of the Scriptures, the nature of God and man. We must seek to establish scriptural convictions and drive them a mile deep.

Stand Compassionately.

Far too often, those who lay claim to strong convictions are unable to draw the line between those who are active rebels and scorners, and those who are simple fools, blindly following the culture. Jesus was not afraid to castigate the religious hypocrites who made their proselytes two-fold children of hell, but never fail to take note of the mercy he expressed to sinners. Yes, there are times when faithful Christians must be bold in condemnation of wickedness. There are also opportunities to minister by compassion. That does not indicate a need to compromise biblical conviction, but requires an understanding of the fact that the people of God are to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. We must stand with conviction, but may we do so with great compassion as well.

Stand Continually.

There are many who begin. Take the parable of the seeds and soils. Many receive the Word with joy, but soon the enthusiasm is choked out by the cares of the world. One who stands fast must have a life marked by patient endurance. Demas started, and seemed to be strong. But he soon forsook the ministry, having loved the world. Judas was one of The Twelve. The other disciples seemed to have trouble believing that he would be the betrayer. Yet he had a part in the crucifixion of our Lord. But consider the testimony of those who endure to the end! Jeremiah was told that his preaching would be resisted. Yet it is Jeremiah who writes of mercies that are new every morning toward the end of his life! Job was assaulted by great trial. But he recognizes God’s hand in it all: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” Joseph endured years of mistreatment before God lifted him up. Moses experienced 80 years of the school of hard knocks before God used him to deliver Israel. Abraham waited 99 years for the son of promise. Yet in each of these, God proved Himself faithful.

You see, the emphasis is not on the perseverance of the man. We are certainly instructed to apprehend. But we must not be focused on the fact of our faith. Rather, our life is tied up in the OBJECT of our faith. We can stand continually only because Christ has gone before us! It is he who, for the joy set before him, endured the cross, and is now set down on his throne. Because He lives, we too shall live. What mercy it is that he has not only given himself as an example, but also given us faithful men for us to follow as they followed Christ.

I’m grateful for each of the special people that have influence my life. Some have gone on to glory. Others remain on this earth. May we stand fast in the Lord, that the cloud of witnesses may live on through our faithfulness.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2013 in Bible Study

 

No Fault Found in Him

daniel-in-the-lions-denI’ve been thinking a lot lately about our relationship to the government. Early this year, there was a big brouhaha over gun control, which, thankfully, did not result in greater restrictions. Yet. No doubt that will happen at some point, but I’m grateful for our current liberty.

Most recently in my thought process was the New Mexico Supreme Court decision, in which it was stated that a photographer has no right to refuse services to a “commitment ceremony” involving two homosexual participants based on religious conviction. Justice Bosson stated in his opinion that religious compromise is “the price of citizenship.”

Certainly, numerous other examples could be stated which challenge every Christian. We have been commanded to be in subjection to the authorities God has placed over us. At the same time, we ought to obey God rather than man. This is a difficult topic for all believers. It is not one which should be approached lightly, and deserves much prayer, study, and prior determination.

Peter writes that governments are appointed for the punishment of evildoers. Throughout history, that has largely proven true. Even godless governments tend to enforce laws that uphold the Ten Commandments: do not murder, do not steal, etc. Granted, they do not uphold them for the right reason (glory of God), and they are selective by ignoring the First Table of the Law, but they do punish genuine evildoers. Paul also writes in Romans 13 that rulers are not a terror to those who do good works. Once again, that is generally true. Obedience to the law, as a whole, means that one has nothing to fear from his government (political considerations aside for the moment!).

Ultimately, what is the responsibility of Christians? I believe the basic principle is stated clearly in the book of Daniel. The young Hebrew had been given much authority and influence in the kingdom. By the reign of Darius, Daniel’s wisdom and spirit had been noted by many in positions of power, especially the king. Daniel 6 notes that Daniel was placed at the top of three presidents who were directly accountable only to the king. Yet he was hated by those under him. This was certainly because of his heritage as one of the exiles. As a foreigner, from a conquered country, how could he rise to such prominence above natives of the land?

Those other governors did their absolute best to trap Daniel. They watched his life, no doubt with the lawbook in hand, seeking to find him in violation. But they could find no fault in him. His lifestyle was blameless, both in moral character and in obedience to the laws of the land. Yes, he perfectly followed the legal system of a pagan culture. And we complain about our laws! He was found faithful, not by a group of peers, but by his enemies. What a testimony he had.

Since the princes could not find Daniel in violation of the law, they had to find another way to snare him. Daniel 6:5 tells us of their plan:

We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

Ultimately, the only fault they could find in Daniel was by manufacturing a law that would punish Daniel’s faithfulness. They recognized his absolute conviction by recognizing that a law in contradiction to God’s would force Daniel’s disobedience. They went to Darius and tricked him into signing a law against petition to any but the king. The law was signed, Daniel was found in violation, and he was cast into the den of lions. We know how God chose to deliver Daniel and glorify Himself.

That should cause us to consider our own lives. If we are honest, most of us would have to admit that one trying to find fault would probably not have to go to these lengths. That’s a convicting thought! On the other side of it, using the same tactics the princes used with Daniel may not work simply because we would obey the law rather than suffer the consequences.

May God grant us the wisdom and character of Daniel.

Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God. (Daniel 6:4-5)

 
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Posted by on September 7, 2013 in Bible Study, Daniel, Devotional

 

Oklahoma History Lesson

After having dug to a depth of 10 feet last year, New York scientists found traces of copper wire dating back 100 years and came to the conclusion that their ancestors already had a telephone network more than 100 years ago.

Not to be outdone by the New Yorkers, in the weeks that followed, a California archaeologist dug to a depth of 20 feet, and shortly after, a story in the LA Times read: “California archaeologists, finding 200 year old copper wire, have concluded that their ancestors already had an advanced high-tech communications network a hundred years earlier than the New Yorkers.”

One week later, a local newspaper the Sterling News reported the following: “After digging as deep as 30 feet in his pasture near Sterling, OK, Bubba, a self-taught archaeologist, reported that he found absolutely nothing. Bubba therefore concluded that 300 years ago, OKLAHOMA had already gone wireless.”

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2013 in Funny

 

A Chiastic Structure of Redemptive History

I’ve been doing some thinking on the chiastic structure of the Bible. If you’re not familiar with chiasmus, you should be – check it out on Wikipedia. It is a fascinating device that is often found in the text of Scripture, and can help clarify difficult parallelisms. 

A     Before time – the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world to redeem a people to Himself

     B     At the beginning of time – the Garden of Eden, in perfection, with man who was created in the image of God, but with the ability to sin

          C     During time – God reveals a covenant to save His people – progressively [to the Jews] through Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets

               D     The Law demands perfect righteousness

                        X     The center of all History is the event of the Lamb slain

               D’     The perfect righteousness of the Law is fulfilled

        C’    During time – the New Covenant, as the fulfilment the old, is fully revealed to the people of God, Jew and Gentile alike through the writings of the apostles

   B’     At the end of time – the New Heavens and the New Earth, where that “Garden” is restored, and our nature is restored, this time lacking the ability to sin because of that Lamb slain!

A’     After time – the eternal worship of the Lamb slain by those whom He redeemed

 
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Posted by on September 4, 2013 in Bible Study, Doctrines of Grace