Friday, December 12, 2014

An Article and a Half

/* I'm sorry about the long silence; I had not been enthusiastic about the topic so I hardly worked on it. So I will just give you the draft and let you finish it in your own meditations. Meanwhile I saw an article from the Rebelution that I would like to post, which can be found here. */

The Apostle John does not have many practical applications for cultivating a relationship with God the Father and His Son Jesus. That is because John's ministry was appointed to the Jews; (Galatians 2:9) and since from the Law and the Prophets they have a storehouse of applications, it would be redundant for John to list applications that they have heard read from the synagogues their entire lives.

What the Apostle John needed to do was to set these applications into focus where Jewish Christians would be able to apply them in the light of the Gospel.

The two primary categories that John gives are love and peace.

Agape is the common Greek word to refer to the love of God in Christ for His people. While those in darkness fear the Light and wish its annihilation, Light straightens its lovers and wishes them joy. As I said in the previous post, this is a giving love; a life that is humbly laid at the Altar to be partaken of others. The agape of Jesus is to be our standard of love for other believers in Christ, how we're known to be His followers.

The Israelites knew that loving their neighbor was a part of their calling as God's people; but they had never seen a living demonstration of that responsibility, nor knew why it was significant.  

Eirene is the Greek word to refer to the calm, quiet, restful state we call peace.


Friday, August 1, 2014

BWVC - The Apostle John's Desire (Part 3)

Now let's look at the unity of the Father and the Son in glory; for there is where Jesus desires for His Church to emulate. Jesus said in one place, "I and my Father are one."And He said in another, "And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:" Glory does involve the high recognition of one's name but it is more than that; glory in Scripture carries a sense of weight, a force expressed in physical quantities like light, fire, and smoke. Glory is Jesus and His Father's greatest desire; and Jesus prayed that those believe on Him would see Him in His restored glory. (John 17:24)

One fundamental quality of God's glory is His love. It is a part of His Trinitarian nature; "And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him." (1 John 4:16) God the Father loves God the Son; (John 3:35) God the Son loves God the Father. (John 14:31) And from thence they love those that love the Son, Jesus. (John 14:21) This is a love that gives. (John 3:16, 3:35, 4:14, 5:26-27, 6:27, 6:37, 6:51, 10:11, 10:28-29, 12:49, 13:3, 14:16, 14:27, 17:6-11, 17:24; 1 John 3:24, 5:20; Revelation 2:7, 2:10, 2:17, 21:6, 22:5)

Another fundamental quality of God's glory is the revelation of His purity. "This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all." (1 John 1:5) Light is used metaphorically in Scripture to refer to God's revelation through His word. (Psalm 36:5-9; 119:104-105) It also refers to God's righteous verdict on people whose actions are evil and those who do the truth. (John 3:19-21) This is a God who loves to reveal Himself and His glorious holiness.

Jesus (and John) wants us to emulate this relationship. How? By being set apart for holy use by God's word. How does His word enable us to relate to one another like the Father and the Son? First, protecting us with God's honor. (John 17:11) Second, encouraging us to live with a Gospel purpose and with loving unity. (John 17:22-23) This is John's desire for Christians not only for his co-workers in the Apostleship but "for them also which shall believe on me through their word;" (John 17:20)

Next we go over the means that John would have us to use for building our relationship with the true God and Jesus Christ who He sent.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BWVC - The Apostle John's Desire (Part 2)

So what does the Apostle John want his readers to know about God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ? No sincere relationship can be made or maintained without understanding who we are seeking to relate to, especially with God. So how does John introduce us to the triune God in his Gospel?

When the Apostle John introduces us to God the Father, he first claims that no one has ever seen God or heard His voice. (John 1:18; John 5:37) That would seem strange especially for those who know the Old Testament; God spoke to Moses and the Israelites. Isaiah saw the Lord high and lifted up. But John specified that Jesus is the I AM, the Word of God; so John is not contradicting the Old Testament, but unveiling it.

What role does the Father play? He is the source; (John 7:16; John 8:28):  He is the destination. (John 14:2-6) Essentially the Father is the decision-maker and initiator.

Not too much to say about God the Father? That's because His fullness is displayed in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, whom He sent to be the Savior of the World; in other words, God the Father cannot be known without God the Son. (John 14:7)

John begins his Gospel with Jesus as the Word who from the beginning created all things, something that his Jewish readers would recognize from Genesis. (Psalm 33:6) Then he declared, perhaps to the shock of his Platonic Gentile readers, that the Word took on human flesh. So in other words, what Augustine called the Divine Imperative took on the Carnal Subjunctive to accomplish for us the Perfect Indicative.

Jesus came, sent by God to fulfill His Father's design for the world, which is the salvation of all the Father gives Him and the gift of life in His Son. (John 3:16-17; John 6:38-40; John 12:47) He performed miracles showing Himself to be God's anointed One. And in His prayer He mentioned that His work was finished and confirmed it on the cross. (John 17:4; John 19:30) Being now our Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ is the righteous propitiation for our sins. (1 John 2:1-2)

Theologians commonly point out the seven statements that Jesus made about Himself in John's Gospel. Who doesn't like going over the seven I AM statements of Jesus? However, there is a danger of creating a philosophical construct of Christ that we just hang on our minds like a portrait in a museum just to gaze at, basically depersonalizing Jesus; John wrote these things that we would experience Jesus personally through his Gospel.

Jesus is the Bread of Life; He sustains and nourishes us in our sojourning by His Word. Jesus is the Light of the World; He sets all that is right and wrong for everyone's perspective, and illuminates our path. Jesus is the Sheep Gate; He protects us from harm. Jesus is the Good Shepherd; He devotes His life for His sheep. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life; He brings to life what was barren. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life; John is not being snobbish, he is just acknowledging that there is no one that is more like-minded and well-pleasing with God than Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Vine; all our strength and works is supplied by His love for us.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

BWVC - The Apostle John's Desire (Part 1)

One of the ways to know what a writer's theme is to look at what he prays about. What is his fervent, constant request(s)? What chief thing does he want from the One who controls our eternal destiny and the affairs of the world? Even better, if he's a gospel writer, what does he record Jesus praying about?

You might be able to guess correctly what passage I'm turning to, John 17.

Commonly called Jesus' High Priestly Prayer, this prayer displays the glorious relationship between Jesus and God the Father and His desire for His people to reflect their relationship. Verse three defines what is the common desire of the disciples: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." The word translated "know" is not limited to cognitive knowledge that is learned by second hand education but is knowledge earned through first hand experience by realization.

Thus we can glean from this and other passages that John's vision for his readers is that they would have a first-hand relationship with the true God and His Son Jesus Christ; and that from this relationship of glory, they would learn from His word to love those who believe the word of His apostles in unison with the love between God the Father and God the Son.

It is this conviction, that men and women would have a gracious and sincere relationship with Jesus Christ the Word-made-flesh, that the Apostle John was eager to write over one-ninth of the New Testament. He wrote a Gospel account to persuade his hearers that Jesus is God's equal, the Messiah. He wrote an epistle to give assurance to true followers of Christ of their saving relationship and the marks of such relationship. He wrote two other epistles to encourage his hearers in their walk in the truth and exhorted them to hold fast the doctrine of Christ in word and deed. Finally he wrote an apocalyptic work describing Christ's role in heaven in the early church and the last days.


Friday, June 13, 2014

The Biblical Writers' Vision for Christians - Introduction

John Howard, a preacher stated that he supposes every preacher "has a bone to pick," a topic that preachers are passionate about and outspoken about. For him, it was the Gospel. For one of our former pastors, it was the Kingdom of God. You could say the same thing about the writers of the Bible; each writer has a different emphasis on what God did in history.

But discerning what they were is a complicated process and difficult to glean especially with minor writers. So I will focus on what six biblical writers envisioned for their audience, namely:

  • The Apostle John
  • The Apostle Paul
  • The Apostle Peter
  • The Prophet Isaiah
  • The Prophet David
  • The Prophet Moses

Lord willing, we will look at their desire for Christians and the means they prescribe to acquiring it. May the Lord bless our meditation and understanding!

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What is Maturity?

If we wish to grow into men and women of courage, we must know what it means to be mature.

As I look back at my teens, I had false notions of maturity. I thought that in order to be an adult, I had to merely give up the stuff of my childhood for what seemed more adult. I would give up Lucky Charms for Honey'n'Bunches of Oats. I would give up my favorite websites for the more serious variety. I would give up conversations with imagination for more adult topics.

I didn't give up as much as I hoped, but it didn't matter; to begin with, I was still the same boy that I started out. It was not true maturity.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hollering over Theology

Some time ago I stated on Twitter, "Good Theology does not necessarily lead to good works, (just look at Jonah) but it does demand it. Likewise for bad theology and bad works." Let me expound on this statement.

This observation comes from looking at the history of Western Civilization and recent cultural phenomena. We see Christians in the past who knew the message of the Gospel but chose to violate it; we still bend over backwards to give an explanation for their hypocrisy, but we can see the character of the triune God and know how to imitate Him.

The other side of the coin is where many get tripped up, that bad theology does not necessarily lead to bad works, but demands it. They assume that as long as people don't do bad things, they can believe what they want. (As long as it does not go outside of the mainstream opinion!) So they get upset when challenged with the rotten elements of their 'theology.' We are not saying that if they believe such things, it is inevitable that they act consistently with it. But we do rejoice that they are borrowing from Christian morality and ask why they are doing it in the terms of their 'theology.'

The biblical case that I had was with Jonah. I've heard that the reason Jonah disobeyed God and ran away was because of fear. But that is not what Jonah told God. He said, "I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil." (Jonah 4:2) Since this was between Jonah and God, I assume this was an honest excuse. Jonah had good theology, theology that demands that he become what he obeys; but he did not know what manner of spirit he was of.

So that's the hollering over theology that has been going on these days.