Archive for the ‘Bible’ Category

h1

Blog Carnival: Subconscious Cultural Assumption

December 15, 2011

Language is a strange thing. One can assume they understand what someone is saying, yet still miss the point the other is making. I was aware of the issue of language before I had children, however, I became more away of the intrinsic nuances of language when my children began to start reading and spelling. 

“Dad, how to do you spell red?” (It is easy to see this in writing) I responded, “R-E-A-D.”

“No, dad that is read. You read books you don’t red them.”

“Oh, I thought you meant read as in ‘you read a book’.”

“No, like the color!”

At this point my kids usually either assume I am joking with them or just a little touched in the head… which I am these days.

Now if those of us who speak English can get confused, imagine those learning our language or trying to translate from their language into English (or visa-versa).

Here is one example:


I believe this is Japanese, though since I don’t read or speak Japanese that is my best guess. I would have no idea what they are saying without the translation. However, I am a bit concerned that they seem to want me to slip and fall, but am thankful they want me to be careful as I do!


Here is another example:

I wonder if this is Chinese? More, I wonder if ever I go to China, will I be abducted!?! But it does sound like those abductors in China will give you at least one phone call! I guess in that case it would be good advice to call the police. However, I am not really sure that is what they mean.

Now, imagine trying to understand a translation (even if it is much better than these) that also holds historical contexts and idioms that are culturally specific. Once again it would come into play that at times words may not mean or be understood as they were originally intended.

Jesus spoke in parables, and His words about “eat my flesh” gave way to the thought from many non-Christians that those who believed in Jesus were—cannibals! Halsal (1998), points out just a part of an accusation that was raised against Christians. Just so you know, this was describing the Eucharist/Communion.

Now the story about the initiation of young novices is as much to be detested as it is well known. An infant covered over with meal, that it may deceive the unwary, is placed before him who is to be stained with their rites: this infant is slain by the young pupil, who has been urged on as if to harmless blows on the surface of the meal, with dark and secret wounds. Thirstily – O horror! they lick up its blood; eagerly they divide its limbs. By this victim they are pledged together; with this consciousness of wickedness they are covenanted to mutual silence. (para. 3).


Now imagine what we may be missing when we try to assume we know what the Bible is saying about Camels going through eyes of needles! We try to see it as a sewing needle, but what was being spoken about was in Jerusalem there was a doorway into the city that was called the “Eye of the Needle”. When someone entered that entrance with a loaded camel, they would first have to remove all the baggage from the camel, then the camel would have to kneel low and crawl through the door way. Thus, Jesus meant that it was easier for a loaded camel to enter the city than a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. Not impossible, but with difficulty.

O’Grady, & Lane, (1996) speak of a phenomenon in business called “THE PSYCHIC DISTANCE PARADOX” which happens when businesses see similarities in companies in other countries but miss the dissimilarities that may harm their relationship. It is sort of a spot blindness concerning cultural blindness that as O’Grady, & Lane, (1996) mention, “factors preventing or disturbing firms learning about and understanding a foreign environment”. In other words meaning, while one can see that Canada and the USA are similar in many ways, there are major differences in how we may see the world, especially concerning business.

We must take into account that the teachings in the bible may not be as we see them in our own culture. We must realize we are talking about at least 4000 years of historical context and 100’s of perspectives when we read the bible. To assume that when Jesus spoke of “the poor will be with us always” does not mean that we can use that for our own political position and develop policies to not take care of the poor in our cities. Remember, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for lack of hospitality and in how they treated visitors (the homosexual aspect was not about orientation but about rape and other violence against those who came to those cities). Here is a verse to show what I mean:

Ezekiel 16:48. As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, your sister Sodom and her daughters never did what you and your daughters have done. 49. “`Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy. 50. They were haughty and did detestable things before me. Therefore I did away with them as you have seen. (NIV)

The main point I am trying to make in this post is, don’t just assume. Don’t just assume what you were taught is what the bible is saying. Don’t just assume that you get it without digging deeper. I will also add, don’t assume you can understand the bible without help from the Holy Spirit. Also, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that the bible is not clear on many things that can be easily understood today. I am admonishing all to look deeper into what you think you know.


Be sure to visit my friends who are taking part in this Blog Carnival.


How to Change Subconscious Cultural Assumptions


Oh, here is one more for laughs: 



References
Halsal, P. (1998). Ancient History Sourcebook: . Retrieved from http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/christian-cannibals.asp
O’Grady, S., & Lane, H. W. (1996). THE PSYCHIC DISTANCE PARADOX. Journal Of International Business Studies27(2), 309-333.


 


Advertisements
h1

Ephesians 3 The Mystery, Jesus Christ

September 25, 2011
Picture source
Ephesians 3 The Mystery, Jesus Christ

Common English Bible (CEB) Via Biblegateway.com
 1 This is why I, Paul, am a prisoner of Christ for you Gentiles.
 2 You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right? 3 God showed me his secret plan[a] in a revelation, as I mentioned briefly before 4 (when you read this, you’ll understand my insight into the secret plan[b] about Christ). 5 Earlier generations didn’t know this hidden plan that God has now revealed to his holy apostles and prophets through the Spirit. 6 This plan is that the Gentiles would be coheirs and parts of the same body, and that they would share with the Jews in the promises of God in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 I became a servant of the gospel because of the grace that God showed me through the exercise of his power.

8 God gave his grace to me, the least of all God’s people, to preach the good news about the immeasurable riches of Christ to the Gentiles. 9 God sent me to reveal the secret plan[c] that had been hidden since the beginning of time by God, who created everything. 10 God’s purpose is now to show the rulers and powers in the heavens the many different varieties of his wisdom through the church. 11 This was consistent with the plan he had from the beginning of time that he accomplished through Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In Christ we have bold and confident access to God through faith in him.[d] 13 So then, I ask you not to become discouraged by what I’m suffering for you, which is your glory.

 14 This is why I kneel before the Father. 15 Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. 16 I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. 17 I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, 18 I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. 19 I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God.

 20 Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; 21 glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen.
Footnotes:
Ephesians 3:3 Or mystery
Ephesians 3:4 Or mystery
Ephesians 3:9 Or mystery
Ephesians 3:12 Or through his faithfulness


I love how the Common English Bible states the firsts verse in a form of a question. “v2 You’ve heard, of course, about the responsibility to distribute God’s grace, which God gave to me for you, right?” For me, it conveys the heart of the verse in a way other versions gloss over. Paul, mentions that he has stated this before, and this is a gentle (or rhetorical) reminder of what he has already taught and was accepted as truth by those in Ephesus who now are reading his words. Paul lays out the mystery, or “secret plan” that was always there yet hidden. This secret plan was hidden to those throughout the ages yet, was always there in plain sight. Paul, states he received the understanding of the secret plan by revelation.

Revelation is tricky. Many can claim revelation, and use it to abuse people. Some seem to think that they become special when they receive revelation and often this seems to go to people’s head and they become power hungry and abusive. I do think at times these people are truly humble at a point, as they could not receive revelation without humility. However, Satan or humanities own evil desires can twist even the purest revelation into something it was never intended for. Again, I am not speaking of something that was not there in the text, but the sudden understanding of a text of Scripture, more akin to Luther’s “the just shall live by faith” moment that rocks the Church even today.

This special revelation that Paul received was special in that Paul was the first to see it. Paul, by guidance of the Holy Spirit of Christ Jesus, began to understand who Jesus was. Jesus WAS the Mystery or Secret Plan from the beginning of creation. Jesus was the redemption of all creation. Jesus was the unveiling of the Goodness and loving compassion of God alone. God is and was possibly NEVER angry with mankind, but with sin.

But, there is more to this secret plan of Christ Jesus. For the Jews believed they were like the man who received that special revelation, however instead of spreading to all the nations of the world, they kept it hidden by not sharing the goodness of God to the Nations. They, like the pastor who sees a truth and uses it for his own advantage, twisted the true nature of the Law into a Graceless means to force God to listen and obey their desires. If that was not horrific alone, they then used the Law to divide and keep people away from God instead of using it to unite and bring those to God.  

Now, not all of Israel did this, but at the time of Jesus this was the case with the Roman rule and occupation of Jerusalem. The focus was on trying to get God’s attention as if God was like the pagan Gods. But they already had God’s attention, as well as the Gentiles who did not even seek God. God already had the secret plan in motion at creation in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Paul was suffering, as he was in chains bound by Roman guards. Paul had suffered much for Christ in many ways from stonings to whippings. However, Paul stated that these sufferings were all worth it if the Gentiles came to know Jesus. For this reason, Paul would kneel and pray that every ethnic group would come to know Jesus in an intimate way in a love that knows no boundaries.

V  18 I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers.

This love that has no boundaries or bonds goes beyond mere head knowledge. It is received only by revelation. It goes straight to the heart of a person and may take a while for the head to begin to even comprehend it (though I believe it never can). To know this love is to know the Fullness of God. The Fullness of God is Christ Jesus of course, so to know Jesus is to know the Fullness of God through Christ in you.

Often we want to peg down God in our mere and pathetic theologies. Yes, I am often guilty of this myself so do not mean to point fingers at others. However, we must realize that God is able to do much more than we will ever comprehend in and through us by His Power (not ours). By doing this, God brings glory to Himself and to His Church through Christ Jesus and this will be everlasting. 
h1

Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

August 15, 2011

Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

I rarely allow my critics to guide me in what I write these days. Most of what they say has been said as what they say contradicts itself and then end up agreeing with me—only to say I am still “not saved”. I see them as sad little people who do not know how to love others and have a warped understanding of the Gospel. 
Now that is out of the way…
Romans 6:1.  What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?
I was reading in Romans six and it hit me how so many people read this and miss the point completely. Why? They read this verse out of context of the others and not within the overall teaching of Scripture.
Yes, if you just take this verse it seems to say, “You cannot keep on sinning and expect grace to cover you.” But think about that…. If we can out sin grace, then grace means nothing. 
So, if we look at what Paul taught in chapter five we see that Paul just unpacked a teaching about grace in a profound and deep way. He stated things like:
Romans 5: 16 Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.
To summarize chapter five is to say that Jesus is our:
Reconciliation
Justification
Obedience
Salvation from death (as we died with Jesus on the cross) 
We also find that this is all by Grace. 
Then we hit chapter six. If we read it out of context we find that, yes, grace is not sufficient to cover all those things, but we just saw it did. So what is Paul saying?
Romans 6: 1. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2. By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3. Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.  5. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.  6.  For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with,  that we should no longer be slaves to sin– 7. because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. 8.  Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.  9.  For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. 10.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. 11.  In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
We died to sin. How? When we were “Baptized” (Immersed) into Christ. If you believe in Jesus, this already happened! We were buried with Jesus for a reason—to be raised again to New Life! You are united with Jesus in His death and then united with Jesus in His resurrection.  Your old self is dead (contrary to some who teach it still lives and you struggle with your old self). The process is then about the renewal of the mind and not dealing with sin. We are no longer slaves to sin because we died to sin and now live in Christ Jesus. Your old self is dead… buried… never to be dug up again… your old self is dead as sin…
Let me show another scripture out of Romans that shows more clearly what I’m, saying. We skip over to Romans chapter eight: 
Romans 8: 1.  Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2.  because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  3.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature,  God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in sinful man, 4.  in order that the righteous requirements of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit. 
I guarantee that people will say I am soft selling sin. Not at all, I am agreeing with the bible as to what happened to sin. Here we read that God sent His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to die for us or in place of us. When Jesus was on the Cross, He condemned sin IN sinful man. Man was never condemned, but SIN WAS!  In fact, what God did was make you His very righteousness. You are all that is right about God by His Grace! 
2 Corinthians 5: 21.  God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
So  when I read how some misuse this passage I am saddened that  in one breath they claim grace, then in another misuse a passage to abuse and condemn others and miss that it states the opposite of their intentions. So like Paul states in Galatians 3:
Galatians 3: 1.  You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2.  I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3.  Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? 
So do not let some legalist twist the bible to take away Grace from you. Live as the rightness of God through Jesus by His very Resurrected Life.
 My only (slight) disclaimer as I know some idiots out there will ask this is, no, I am not saying go out and live however you want. You are no longer “slaves to sin”, but the rightness of God. However, unlike many who would even suggest that (as I see it a lack of trust and faith in God), I trust that the Grace of God is sufficient to save as well as the Holy Spirit greatly qualified to change a person how God sees fit and not by my own agenda and understanding. When it comes to a person’s “sin”, I believe God has dealt with it and deals with us on a much deeper basis than outward “sin”. I see God as going to the core of our being and working in the renewal of our minds. Some people are more messed up than others and need patience and kindness. I wonder at those who judge and condemn others, when Jesus himself never did so. In fact, I see that those who act such a way toward others as to it to Jesus himself.
h1

A meditation on Psalm 23

August 3, 2011
A meditation on Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. – Yet I still do… 
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. – Yet I eat thorns and breathe dust.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yet I feel weak and do so much wrong.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: – Yet at times my fear consumes me.
For thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. – Yet I fear the rod is for me and not to protect me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: – And then You challenge me to invite them to eat with me!
Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup Runneth over. – Yet I fear how I will pay rent and other bills each month.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life – Teach me how to trust You, God.
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. – Only by your Grace and Mercy…
h1

Biblical obedience — may not be what you thought.

June 8, 2011

 
I often am amazed how many people do not know what the Bible actually states about obedience. People are taught that they must be obedient to serve Jesus. I get pastors (and others) who argue with me when I state we cannot be obedient as we have no obedience. These people tell me that Jesus enables us, or as Chuck Smith taught in a book I read, Jesus and you are lifting the table together… I see it as you look like you are lifting your end, but Jesus is lifting both ends. If not, then it is our works and not his work in and through us. 
The issue is the understanding of obedience. If we are to be obedient, (which we can’t) it becomes works. If we trust in the One Who was obedient even unto death, then we are in His Obedience and not our own. We walk in the obedience of Christ and not our own. The Bible seems rather clear on this matter in this simple statement:
Romans 5:19. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
h1

Conversation on Twitter takes more than 140 characters

March 25, 2011

On Friday 25th March 2011, said:

OK, I need to be careful here. The damnation of a soul is something that should cause us the greatest grief. We sing Charles Wesley’s great hymn with gusto and feeling: “O that the world would taste and see the riches of His grace, etc.” But OTOH, we should not be blind to the fact that God sees fit, as Judge, to banish guilty, impenitent sinners, whom He pronounces as “curséd”, into everlasting fire. If He does not do so for His own glory, then what He has done is at odds with His glory. Furthermore, when He comes to judge wicked Babylon the Great in Revelation 18, the redeemed are urged to “Rejoice over her, thou heaven and ye holy apostles and prophets, for God hath avenged you on her.” (v20) and consequently, the many people in heaven respond to this command to rejoice at God’s avenging hand, and say, “Alleluia” (19:3)

@weecalvin
1. You seem to lack skills in reading apocalyptic lit.

2. If you read John’s gospel you might find that Jesus did not come to judge and condemn us but to save us. In fact Jesus states He judges no one and that we judge ourselves by means of hear His words.

3. Hebrews states of Jesus return 27 Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.
Heb 9:27-28 (NIV)

Notice it is a contrast between judgment (which happened at the Cross and in 70ad) and what Jesus will come a do.

Now, back to #1. John is writing in code to show that while Caesar may claim to be King, Jesus is King of all. Much of the image of Revelation is around Ephesus and if you read up on the buildings rulers and other things there they line up to Revelation and showing Jesus is King of all. Also, how do we “overcome”… “by the blood of the Lamb and our testimony”. That is not about bloodshed of others, but salvation as noted in Hebrews. If you take symbols and images in apocryphal writings literal, you then get into real trouble fast… and get stupid things like the Rapture and other non biblical teachings. Even Luther and Calvin knew better than to write about Revelation.

h1

Sideshow 0003 Webcast

March 10, 2011

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeBrF2xzkPY&tracker=False