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Posts Tagged ‘gospel project’

By clicking on Trinity Day 2 Answers you can see the answers I promised to the Bible Study on manifestation of God’s character in His trinity in God ordained social institutions. We could avoid much of the heart-ache and problems we sustain if we would follow God’s plan for how the social interactions are supposed to work. Government, for instance, is involved far beyond its God ordain sphere of influence so that it mettles in the church and family spheres. Avenging evil and defense of the citizenry is all it is supposed to do. As a result of the many other things it forces on us, we lose freedom by each one.

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Having reviewed the biblical doctrine of the Trinity I now turn to its application by God to all God-ordained social institutions. Because we have refused to understand how God’s character is expressed in what He has created and ordained we try to re-invent social institutions apart from God, effectively destroying them.  I will allow several days for study before I fill in the blanks. (Lest I be called for plagiarism, I must acknowledge the ideas of Del Tackett in “The Truth Project”. I have digested and added my own study and organization to his framework.)  Click on Outworking of the Trinity to start the study.

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About a month ago I was leading our Sunday School class in a quick discussion of what the the Bible says about the Trinity and what it doesn’t. Confusion about God’s triune nature is not merely a theological blunder. It effects how you live because theology has consequences. Misunderstandings and refusals to believe the basics of God’s character and intra-relationship of His persons result in more than difference of conviction. It results in heresy. We cannot fully understand the Trinity because it our logical ability to resolve the interplay of the three Scriptural declarations about who the triune God is. Read my attempt at clarifying the issues involved by clicking on Trinity

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In the Summer 2013 Gospel Project, Lesson 12, the following quote by Robertson McQuilkin appears:

“The more I know [Christ], the more I love Him. The more I love Him, the more I obey Him. The more I obey Him, the more I become like Him. The more I become like Him, the better I know Him. The better I know Him, I love Him the more. And the more I love Him, I reach a new level of likeness to Him.”

I think better in diagrams and so remember concepts better. Additionally, I need to know what it looks like when it is happening including what part I have in the process and what part is applied to me. I hope the following helps you as well. The row of “looks like” bubbles are only a few examples that need expanded. You can click on the diagram to enlarge it.

Becoming Like Christ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are drawn to strength and power. Whether it incites fear because of its wildness and antagonism or security because of its protection and deterrent, we are curious and awestruck and enamored by the sight and use of power and strength. Strength is the shear magnitude of force that may be brought to bear on an object whereas power is how fast that strength may be utilized to move or deflect an object. But how do we account for all powerful, omnipotent. Is it just a hypothetical construct? Or perhaps it is a “my dad is bigger than your dad” scenario invented by Christians trying to justify their puny conception of reality. Is it necessary to God’s character and is it true? Does the Bible teach that God is omnipotent?

Having previously discussed God’s infinite character in “Omniscience”, Omnipresence”, and “To Infinity and Beyond”, I submit that omnipotence is indeed a necessary part of God’s nature in order for Him to be infinite any respect and infinite in knowledge and presence in particular. How can He know all things if He is not everywhere at once? And how can He be all places at once if He is not all powerful? Or else on the latter question He is but a background noise in the universe that influences nothing and no one. But He is active. We know that He is because we observe it in nature; we observe it in changed lives; we observe it in answers to prayer. His influence reaches throughout all of Creation and into all spheres (physical and spiritual). So if God is omnipotent, what is possible for Him to do?

God can save to the uttermost. “And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?”  And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”” (Matthew 19:23-26)  In fact, Isaiah 63:1 says that He is “mighty to save”. ‘

This power of His makes Him the only Sovereign: “Why should the nations say,“Where, now, is their God?” But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.” Psalm 115:2-3  

He is so powerful that nothing He does may be changed, for it says, “Forever, O Lord, Your word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89)  Having seen His power to bring down and rise up, to produce wind and lightning and storm Job declared, “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:1-2)  

He spoke the Creation into existence out of nothing, for II Peter 3:5 says, “it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago”. His judgments have been and will be with great and unassailable power. He will form the new heavens and new earth to stand fast forever.

But there are things that God cannot do, or more accurately, will not do. Anything contrary to His nature He will not do. Titus 1:2 gives to us who are trusting His promises great encouragement when Paul reports on our salvation, “the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago”. And James 1:13 proclaims, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” Since there is no evil in God, none proceeds from Him nor influences Him. Another discussion seems outside what the Bible proclaims about God. There is a hypothetical argument in Physics that pits an immovable object against an unstoppable force. But if the adjectives both hold true, then these two items have infinite inertia and strength, respectively, making them strictly speaking gods. But the Bible is clear on this point when it teaches that there is but one God (Deuteronomy 6:4). There are several ways out of this problem, but saying there is no God is not acceptable on either logical (look around you man) or biblical grounds (Romans 1:19-20). Perhaps neither of the objects exist (it is hypothetical afterall), or perhaps only one of them exists, or perhaps they describe the same object, namely God. The argument reminds me of another one that the skeptic likes to bring up to throw the believer off kilter and off subject (You need Jesus!). Can God make a boulder so big that He cannot lift it? If the boulder were that big it would be infinite. If it were infinite then it would be god. Then there would be two gods and not one as the Bible declares. And in reality there would be no gods because neither is fully sovereign, so no, God will not make a boulder too big that He cannot lift it.

For the Christian there are a number of daily applications to this concept of God’s omnipotence. We may feel secure. This security is a great gift from God, but this is not the reason we are here. How does God’s power enable us to fulfill His mission, which is our mission? His mission is glory to Himself through our spreading of the Gospel. His omnipotence enables us to defeat spiritual forces through prayer when witnessing and during spiritual opposition. His power enables us through the Holy Spirit’s work to overcome the sin and temptation in our own lives. Witnessing is the hardest thing to be involved in because of resistance from the world, the flesh, and the devil. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)  And we are speaking life to dead people who don’t even know that they are spiritually dead, separated from God. Their non-response, or conversely their antagonism, proceeds from this separation from God. We are in every sense in spiritual battle and need God’s power to overcome darkness in the form of hatred, apathy, skepticism, and our own faltering tendencies.

May God’s omnipotence be pleased to include us in His mission for His purposes and glory and our growth and joy. Amen.

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He is everywhere all the time- ubiquitous location! He doesn’t have to rush to get somewhere because He’s already there. If you can observe all situations in all locations you can know everything. We are so tied down by location. We say, “I can’t be two places at once,” but what about an infinite number of places all of the time? 

“Where can I go from Your Spirit?
 Or where can I flee from Your presence?
 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
 If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.
 If I take the wings of the dawn,
 If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea,
 Even there Your hand will lead me,
 And Your right hand will lay hold of me.”  Psalm 139:7-10

David grapples with this transcendent attribute of God in a very personal way. There is no escape from God’s presence resulting in God’s complete control of David’s path. Many find such an arrangement very confining, but David finds His presence and thoughts of him comforting, for “when I awake, I am still with You.” Psalm 139:18b  

So why do we pretend to hide actions from God?

“…she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.  Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”  And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”  Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”” Genesis 3:6-13

Adam and Eve hid in at least 3 ways. They sewed figs leaves as coverings. They hid in the garden. Adam hid by standing by passively and receiving the fruit from Eve without comment.Then they hid by casting blame on others: the woman you gave me, the serpent. But God had no difficulty finding their location or their orientation toward Him. God was gracious to give them opportunity to admit what they had done, but they just kept hiding when they began the blame game. God was present during the whole scenario, but gave them free choice to obey or disobey. 

“Each man said to his mate, “Come, let us cast lots so we may learn on whose account this calamity has struck us.” So they cast lots and the lot fell on Jonah.  Then they said to him, “Tell us, now! On whose account has this calamity struck us? What is your occupation? And where do you come from? What is your country? From what people are you?”  He said to them, “I am a Hebrew, and I fear the Lord God of heaven who made the sea and the dry land.”  Then the men became extremely frightened and they said to him, “How could you do this?” For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of the Lord, because he had told them.” Jonah 1:7-10

As if he could flee from God’s presence, Jonah tries and the men think he is, or at least is trying. Our lack of understanding of God’s omnipresence is baffling. If Jonah is fleeing but the storm results from God’s pursuit then Jonah is not really getting away and they know it and fear. Our thoughts and attempts are logically inconsistent. We should cease trying to get away, but if we are tempted to attempt it, we should fear. Like the mouse between the cat’s legs, we may run but we are always firmly within His grasp. God addresses the preposterous nature of such attempts: 

““Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24

Though God is everywhere He is not just anywhere. We who believe in the God of the Bible are not because of this doctrine become pantheists. God is Creator, not created. He is over, around, within, and beside all created things but He is separate: 

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Genesis 1:1-2

He sees the wicked and knows their ways but He dwells with others:

“You felt secure in your wickedness and said, ‘No one sees me,’
Your wisdom and your knowledge, they have deluded you;
For you have said in your heart, ‘I am, and there is no one besides me.’” Isaiah 47:10

“The Lord is far from the wicked,
But He hears the prayer of the righteous.” Proverbs 15:29

Besides communicating the immediacy of God’s presence the following passage points out that God is both transcendent in His presence and personal in His presence.

“”For thus says the high and exalted One
Who lives forever, whose name is Holy,
“I dwell on a high and holy place,
And also with the contrite and lowly of spirit
In order to revive the spirit of the lowly
And to revive the heart of the contrite.”” Isaiah 57:15

Since God is always present with us whether we sense it or not, we may take comfort in His powerful presence. We who have trusted Jesus and belong to God are secure. In some of His last words Jesus promised: 

“Lo,I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20 

And because of His presence we should be desirous and careful to act in a way that is pleasing to Him. It is our motivation to be pleasing to Him and because He is near He sees all. He is also near in that He is coming again to take us to be with Him for eternity. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!  Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:4

His nearness is comfort to us and dreadful to the wicked.  We should be careful to live for Him out of thanks for all He has done. The wicked should repent of their wickedness and not pretend to be able to hide from Him or avoid His judgment. He is here. He sees. He knows. Take heed.

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He knows everything- the position and momentum of every particle (Heisenberg Principle doesn’t apply), where they have been and where they are going? He knows all thoughts and possibilities? If the idea doesn’t blow your little mind it’s just because you haven’t understood it yet.

That’s OK; David didn’t either:

“O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
 You understand my thought from afar.
 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
 And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
 Even before there is a word on my tongue,
 Behold, O Lord, You know it all.
 You have enclosed me behind and before,
 And laid Your hand upon me.
 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
 It is too high, I cannot attain to it.”      Psalm 103:1-6

David points out that God knows his location, position, thoughts, intentions; direction before, during, and after moving; the words coming to his tongue. The result is entrapment, control, of which David realizes he has no comprehension beyond the fact that God does know, which was also revealed to David as a prophet in this Psalm. To state the case simply, God has intimate knowledge of us.

Do you find God’s thoughts of you, as expressed here, threatening or comforting? David was awed, acknowledging that he could not understand, but how did that make him feel? Jesus tells us the proper response to such a knowledge and power:

 “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a slave above his master. It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, and the slave like his master. If they have called the head of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign the members of his household! Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.” Matthew 10:25b-31

Do not fear; fear; do not fear. Which is it, Lord? Well, it depends on who you should fear and in what way. People can harm and even kill the body, but do not fear that because the worst it can result in is pain and the best is ushering you into the presence of God (not an excuse for humanly speaking “untimely” death by one’s own hand or someone else’s). Do fear, reverence, hold in awe God who can eternally separate you from His presence into an eternal world of hurt. But for those who know Him (not merely about Him), do not fear for His knowledge of you is intimate down to the counting of each hair and He values you.

Not only does He know us intimately, but He also knows us and all things completely:

1) in the present

“Listen to this, O Job,
 Stand and consider the wonders of God.
 “Do you know how God establishes them,
 And makes the lightning of His cloud to shine?
 Do you know about the layers of the thick clouds,
 The wonders of one perfect in knowledge…?”  Job 37:14-16 

“Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.  We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.  I John 3:18-20

His knowledge is our security!

2) in the past and the future 

“Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’”  Isaiah 46:9-10

One outside of time can see “the end from the beginning”, but I can’t fathom lack of time, existing in the eternal present, or foreknowledge. I can praise Him as the one of a kind God He is and be secure in His plan, established and accomplished as it is by a His good pleasure which is good (James 1:17). Not only does He know everything actual- past, present, future- but He also knows all potential as seen by the call to repentance of Jesus:

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” Matthew 11:21

The application for our lives is powerful. Since God knows my good, bad, and ugly sides and still loves me and chose me apart from any good or bad, then my relationship with Him is totally secure. But did He really choose me apart from foreknowledge of me?  

“…there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.”  Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.””  Romans 9:10-13

What are we to say about those who do not know Jesus? Are they simply doomed to hell because they have not been chosen? We can’t know who is and who isn’t, because we are limited in knowledge. But we do have the opportunity to plead for our salvation and we know that He hears, for “it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Acts 2:21

Additionally, our security in Him is greatly increased because His plan is based on perfect knowledge so that nothing takes Him by surprise. His plan will be accomplished, period: “…You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.” Isaiah 25:1

The result of these assurances of security should be to help us interpret situations that come up in our lives in a more patient, confident, purposeful, thankful, and eternal manner. Circumstances may be hard but they are not without purpose. We can add to the glory given to God by working with His plan instead of against it. He is worthy and there is great reward. 

The thoughts expressed herein are a mixture of mine and those of Kendell Easley in the Summer 2013 Gospel Project lesson “The Omni God”.

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Over the next several blog entries I want to consider the three omni-attributes of God: omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. By their very quality I can not hope to touch their grandeur, that is the grandeur of their owner, but it is always appropriate to explore and praise the glories of our God. 

As I begin to consider these facets of the most perfect jewel it seems to me that these facets are three perspectives on one characteristic of God. Afterall, He cannot do all things if He does not know all things. And He cannot know all things if He is not everywhere at once. And He cannot be everywhere at once if His power is limited. To what one characteristic do I refer? God is infinite. He is without limit or boundary. “…Who is like the Lord our God…?”   Psalm 113:5a

But is it true? Do we exaggerate who God is for our own comfort or to ward off the claims of opposing viewpoints or other gods? We Christians are a people of the Book. Does the Bible reveal God as infinite in these three ways: all knowing, all present, all powerful?

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I realized when reading the following two questions in our Gospel Project lesson today that they lend well to a positive feedback loop in our lives:

“What role does hope play in our seeking to be faithful to God’s commands?

In what ways can we deepen ‘the roots’ of our hope in God’s promises?”  (Winter 2012-13, p.111)

Hope-Keep

When hope is applied to our lives through the working of God’s Word we are enabled to keep His commands. The Holy Spirit is always enabling and He uses the truth. Keeping His commands will result in confidence and hope that God is active in our lives and the promises apply to us as we review God’s Word. It is a positive feedback loop in that each one increases the other and is life giving.

 

 

 

 

 

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Wisdom Tree3Godly wisdom is rooted in the fear of God and bears foliage and fruit of godly living, contentment, and witness. Following are supporting Scriptures for the tree at the right:
0. James 1:5
1. Proverbs 1:7, Job 28:28, Matthew 10:28
2. Micah 6:9, Psalm 2:10-11
3. Job 12:12, Proverbs 3:1-2, 16:22
4. Song of Solomon 6:3, Proverbs 5:18
5. Job1:20-21, Proverbs 3:5-6
6. Ecclesiastes 12:13-14, Psalm 73:17
7. I Corinthians 1:24,30, Ephesians 1:15-19
 
The following table contrasts the way of worldly foolishness
and the way of godly wisdom. Our lives as Christians should
exhibit God’s goodness by our wisdom gained from Him:
 
 

Contrast of

Worldly Foolishness

Godly Wisdom

Living

Selfish, destructive

Skill for living successfully

Path

Going your own way

Obey and seek God

Self

Be true to yourself

Renounce sin and self

Focus

Passion to please yourself

Passion for God and others

Restraint

Unrestrained passion

Directed, exclusive passion

Perspective

Blind optimism or pessimism

Sin is real; God is in control

Priorities

Survival, self-gratification

Fear God; obey His commands

Eternity

Can’t find it Eccl. 3:11

Trust in Christ->hope   &evangelism

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Consider Joshua and the children of Israel on the Plains of Moab just after the death of Moses. Are they asking, ‘What now?’ God doesn’t leave them in this position long. He is about to give them the land He promised to their fathers. Yes, there is much history behind this moment. God said to Abraham,  “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8) He puts no conditions on Abraham or his descendents and he calls it an “everlasting possession”. This covenant is as unconditional as they come as stated here. God had delineated the extent of this gift two chapters earlier (Genesis 15:18): “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates”. It is a literal land given unconditionally to the Israel. Later when Moses is talking through the law and its application, just before he dies, he says a curious thing in the light of the promise we have just seen: “Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other. So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am giving you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.” (Deuteronomy 4:39-40) So God is giving them the land but the keeping of it is conditioned upon whether or not they obey God? How does that represent an unconditional covenant of everlasting possession when all sin and fall short of God’s glory? Is it possible for this promise to be both conditional and unconditional and God fulfill it both ways? I believe it is and mean to show how. What will God do if Israel obeys? “Then it shall come about, because you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers. He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock, in the land which He swore to your forefathers to give you. You shall be blessed above all peoples; there will be no male or female barren among you or among your cattle. The Lord will remove from you all sickness; and He will not put on you any of the harmful diseases of Egypt which you have known, but He will lay them on all who hate you. You shall consume all the peoples whom the Lord your God will deliver to you” (Deuteronomy 7:12-16) It seems to me that this passage explains that possession of the land is representative of God providing prosperity, peace, and posterity. Prosperity is seen as abundant food and lack of disease while posterity is children. Peace is given by God’s initial defeat of enemies and continued peace is declared other places.

With this history of being promised the land of Canaan the book of Joshua begins, Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, “Moses My servant is dead; now therefore arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel. Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:1-9) The application is as follows: We can take risks because His promises are sure. As Gospel Project author, Jonathan Leeman, says, “Knowing that God is generous and faithful to His promises helps us be strong and courageous because we can trust His character as we pour out our lives for Him.”

Judges 2:11-23 sets forth the cycle of God and Israel’s interaction during the days of the judges. Israel would forsake God for idols. God gave them over to their enemies. Israel cried to go in their distress. God raised up judges to both deliver them from their enemies and direct them to God. As soon as the judge died, the cycle began again. Israel was squandering the good gift God had given them so that the conditional nature of the promise overtook them. Was God unfaithful by not honoring His promise to Abraham? As Ezra and the Levites prayed to God, “However, You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly.” (Nehemiah 9:33) “How does our sin cheapen God’s good gifts (creation, sex, family, etc)?” asks the Leeman (p.59). Using God’s gifts wrongly and pervesely is saying to God the gift was somehow not good enough the way He gave and intended it so I have to improve on it. The term used in Scripture is prostitution, selling ourselves to other gods to pervert God’s gifts for our own temporary pleasure and for hatred of God. God promises to cast such rebels off His land. I believe the land is representative of God’s provision of rest (prosperity, peace, and posterity as I said earlier) so that Hebrews 3:17-4:2 is talking about rest when it refers to God’s actions that cast Israel off the land “And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:17-19)

But God is gracious and faithful to His promises as is hinted at by the book of Ruth. In the second chapter Boaz is introduced as a part of the faithful remnant during the time of the judges who is prosperous, kind to His workers, acknowledges God, and is kind to this alien, Ruth (Ruth 2:1,4,8-9,12). Boaz has prosperity and peace but where’s the posterity? God provides the answer through Ruth (Ruth 4:13-17 ) in the form of their son, Obed, the father of Jesse, the father of King David, the ancestor of Jesus. Boaz had become the kinsman redeemer of Leviticus 25 for the land of Elimelech (Naomi’s deceased husband and Ruth’s father-in-law) and raised up children for his name just as Jesus became the kinsman redeemer of all who will trust in Him to buy them back from the slavery and poverty of sin. By this means Jesus will fulfill the unconditional promise made to Abraham to provide and literal land forever. Micah 4:1-4 prophecies clearly what will happen, “And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains…..For from Zion will go forth the law, even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem….And never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine and under his fig tree, with no one to make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.” There most certainly is a spiritual aspect to the rest of God, a continual faith rest. But that does not exclude literal, believing Israel, past or present or future, and all those who have trusted Jesus, spiritual Israel ( ) from being included on a literal land. I firmly believe that God speaks of both literal land and rest in Hebrews 4:8-11,  “For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. so there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” The actual fulfillment of this promise is proclaimed in Revelation 20 and 21. “Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.” (20:6) Reigning with Christ for a 1000 years is a literal reign on literal land since it delineates a specific time verse nine mentions the location of these events being earth. But 1000 years is not an everlasting possession. God is more than up to the task of completing His promise and remembering every little detail.  “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (21:1-4) Literally amazing, everlasting peace, prosperity, and posterity provided by God in the everlasting possession for His people. Praise God!

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Our “Gospel Project” lesson today was about God’s nature revealed in the Creation story and in the results. I produced a table that summarizes the differences in how God’s nature is revealed in the two different (but not contradictory) stories of Creation in chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis.

  God’s Nature Clarification God’s Name Exhibitied in Creation Response in us

toward God

 

 

 

Above

 

Transcendent

 

Separate

 

Elohim

“Stong One”

“In the beginning God” Have to

must have

-allegiance

-worship

-accountability

Powerful

 

Able to effect He spoke into existence

ex nihilio

(“out of nothing”)

Authoritative Rules

 

 

 

Beside

Personal Identity, relational Yahweh

“Pre-existent One”

Speaking Want to,

gladly

-desire

-seek

-trust

The lesson speaks of four ways that man is made in the image of God based on Genesis 1 and 2. I think there is clearly from the text a fifth way:

    “27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the [a]sky and over every living thing that [b]moves on the earth.””

We relate- God gave us as male and female to have relationship and commanded multiplication so there would be many people to interact. In fact, all God ordained institutions (family, church, government) reflect the interaction within the Triune Godhead.

We rule- Both the words rule and subdue occur. This is a stewardship that should neither result in abuse of the creation nor worship of it, but care for our benefit. All authority we have is delegated from God and should be carefully dispatched as such.

We work- 1″5 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”  Work that is purposeful, creative, orders chaos, and work with God’s plan was ordained before the Fall and is a good gift. The type of work we dislike is the punishment on man because of sin and is toil (literally “pain” 3:17) that causes sweat (3:18).

We reproduce- It says “multiply and fill the earth”. When we procreate God provides the spirit so He is still active in creating and allows us to be involved in the process.  God is always involved in the process of giving life. 

We rest- “3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”  God was not tired but He was satisfied with the result of His completed work. Christ has completed the work of salvation in us so that we need to rest in Him, faith rest:  “10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”

I hope that you will consider how to bear the image of God in you in such a way as to point to Him rather than to yourself. It glorifies Him and satisfies you because you are at peace with Him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The serious student of the Bible must take seriously the principles of interpretting the biblical text (hermeneutic). Many scholars who have a less than high view of Scripture want to dismiss it as a merely human authored book. Men were involved in the process but lead by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit did not, however, negate the personalities, languages, grammar, styles of writing, or contexts by which the texts were produced. It is the Word of God, infallible in the original manuscripts. We need to understand those human elements that were used to give God’s thoughts meaning. As a part of teaching a lesson in the “Gospel Project” and few weeks ago on interpretation of various genre of the Bible I produced the following page as a beginning to understanding Bible interpretation. I give credit where credit is due. The organization is wholly mine. Click on Hermeneutics for the Bible Believer to view the document.

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On page 126 of the “Gospel Project” lesson 13 for Fall 2012 Christian George discusses the connection between the centrality of God’s Word and Christian Community, that is, “Scripture is the basis of true community”. Words are good but for my mind understanding and memory are better had by diagrams. So here is this week’s unravelling of interrelationships: (the arrows should be read as “leads to”)

God’s Word and Christian Community

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Christian George (“Gospel Project”, Fall 2012, p.109) says, “Theology must lead to worship. And worship is not an end in itself either. Worship must lead to mission. Let’s dig deeper into this concept. What if Christians leave out theology? Then we have worship without an objective and mission without a message. What if Christians leave out mission? Then we have theology without obedience and worship without growth. And what if Christians leave out worship? Then we have theology without devotion and mission without ammunition.”

In lines 1-4 I have mapped out my understanding of what he says in this quote. Line one is the simple outline. Lines 2-4 are the negative results of leaving out one of the disciplines: theology, then mission, then worship. Line 5 is my attempt at putting all of these ideas back into the original outline (line 1). The arrows in line 5 should read “provide ________ to”.

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