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How did Jesus read the Bible? He taught that the Bible, while containing wisdom, was chiefly about him and his gift of eternal life to us, not about us and how we can have our best life now. He frequently showed how the Old Testament ultimately pointed to him. “For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” (Luke 22:37 ESV)

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, ‘Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.’ But he turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’ Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.‘”
(Matthew 16:21-24)

Peter had in mind what was best for him, but Jesus had a secret ambition which had been in writing for centuries (Isa 53), though how suffering could lead to victory was not understood. When we read the Bible, we will learn wisdom for life, but it is more important that we deny ourselves the center stage as we read it. Then we will see that it is God’s story of redemption.

The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed!” (Mark 14:21)

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. . . . For if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?
(John 5:39-40, 46-47)

These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. . .
(Luke 24:44-48)

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And behold, a man came up to [Jesus], saying, “Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.
(Matthew 19:16-22 ESV, emphasis added)
But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And they were exceedingly astonished, and said to him, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” (Mark 10:24b-27)

Jesus revealed the man’s lack of following the first four commandments having to do with love for God. His love for money occupied the spot of God to him, thus breaking the very first command of God which Moses wrote of in the second of his five books:
And God spoke all these words, saying,
“I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
(Exodus 20:1-3, the first of the Ten Commandments)

Jesus said, “…if you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?”
(John 5:46-47)
“…for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24)
The young man didn’t believe and went away sad. Trying to be good yet excluding God reveals your idol. Jesus revealed that you aren’t basically good. Thus, salvation is by faith in his goodness instead.

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The Good News and the Law of Moses was the center of the very first controversy within the church, so don’t be caught unawares by people claiming that you don’t follow the Bible consistently if you follow Jesus and not the old laws of Israel about stonings and food restrictions.

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the [church], “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question…. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders…
And after there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. Now, therefore, why are you putting God to the test by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples that neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”
(Acts 15:1-11 ESV)

In short, we’re saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ Jesus alone. It is therefore consistent that we are not under the jurisdiction of laws pertaining to a particular region and time. Rather Jesus said he fulfilled those laws. The laws that remain for all to follow are the same laws that were always meant to be followed, namely the moral laws related to living as God designed humanity to live, to love Him and love others (as well as what love should look like).

Jesus is considered the new “High Priest” that will live forever as such, never to be replaced by a new comer. He was not a Levite, but rather his priesthood is superior to the Levite line of priests. And, as the author of the letter to the Hebrews reasons, “when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.” (Hebrews 7:12)

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God can and does speak to people directly, but shouldn’t it go without saying that this is quite exceedingly rare? Why are there so many “prophets” today then claiming they’ve got a special word which is above and beyond his Word? Because, according to God, they’re deluded liars that give him a bad name.

And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:14, ESV)

And that was said about people who were saying God would bless them with material wealth and peace! There is also the other problem where God is said by some to be evil or to be sending curses where he isn’t. Where God speaks to everyone is within God’s Word, the Bible. If we add to it or speak authoritatively about it (critics included), it can be equivalent to saying “thus sayeth the Lord” when he doesn’t sayeth. If we are going to speak authoritatively about God, we’d better have his Word right. If one is going to comment or quote an academic source, then one had better have read it well enough to have the right gist of it.

These days, we have many “false prophets”, but they’re not all in churches. Some of them are attacking the church by making exaggerated claims that the Bible describes a God who is immoral. If only we could just read for ourselves without adding our agendas as much as we do, then we might just find the grace which God has extended. Let’s make an effort to humble ourselves so that we do not keep arrogantly taking God’s name in vain like this. After all, Jesus died for deluded liars who misuse and abuse his name.

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Bigot!

Bigot: (n) a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.

Tolerance: (n) 1 : capacity to endure pain or hardship : endurance, fortitude, stamina
2 : sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one’s own.

So to “tolerate” something or someone means my views will differ from, even conflict with, the ones tolerated. So it doesn’t make anyone a bigot to disagree. It doesn’t even make someone a bigot to conflict against views that are really emotionally charged. It makes them a bigot to hate and be obstinate about it. It may even be possible to be a bigot while calling someone else a bigot, especially if they really aren’t.

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It’s called the “god particle,” present surrounding all things, yet unseen.

Scientists yesterday revealed how they had discovered evidence to show the existence of the elusive Higgs Boson a particle said to be responsible for holding other particles together and thus giving mass.  That’s my rudimentary understanding of it.  This is certain to once again spark the debate as to whether the universe can be seen to have been created without the need of a creator – think Stephen Hawking and “The Grand Design” last year.

Yet, what one can observe here is a great amount of precision and planning in what seems to be a purposeful design.

and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. – Hebrews 1:3b (ESV)

How do I arrive at this?  Well I believe that this discovery by the scientists at the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland have made a significant scientific discovery.  I also believe that this discovery shows us great beauty in the design of the universe.  If this particle does as the physicists claim and grants mass to matter by holding it together, I can then understand that this is one way that God is upholding the universe with his hand.  Indeed, this discovery leads me to worship God all the more for his wondrous creation, and revealing how he is holding up his creation.  This discovery is helpful in understanding God’s design, and thus can lead us in to seeing God’s beauty, power and majesty all the more.

 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. -Romans 11:36

Thank God for science!

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Just for fun, let’s consider this for a bit. An answer to this question could go all over the place, but I’ll start with another question. What do we mean by “good?” Roughly speaking, “good” is contingent on a transcendent standard which is prescriptive of purpose and between persons. If God is not that standard, he too is subject to that standard, but morals are contingent on personal relationships. We aren’t obligated to rocks to be good, but we do have responsibility and obligation toward authorities and persons. It would seem then that God being evil is a logical impossibility, since there is no one else higher in which to ground morality objectively. One might argue that God being evil is like a square circle. If he’s evil, he no longer fits the necessary conditions of being God, but is instead just some kind of cosmically powerful bully. And evil, needing a transcendent standard to oppose yet finding none, no longer fits the necessary conditions of being evil. However, for the sake of the “what if” presented . . .

Part of what makes God worship worthy is His pure goodness and wisdom in all things moral. If he didn’t have goodness, he’d be that much less worship-able and either something else would be God or morality would be a foreign concept. If I chose to worship him for other reasons (his power, his being Creator, fear, etc.) could I love God in my worship? Instead I think I’d worship him out of self-preservation. Is that really worship then if it lacks a true heartfelt component? Isn’t that just lip service or rote duty? (I’m not sure, I’m asking) It might not even be possible to offer such a god acceptable worship! And how would I act if the object of my worship were evil? Likely, I’d praise many evil acts as well (we imitate and value what we worship). Would we be required to praise evil over and against good? Don’t we already do so to a degree? How much more if I couldn’t even know what evil was! There would just be no category for a standard of good if God weren’t it, and therefore evil would have no referent. Though good can exist without evil, evil can’t exist without a standard for good! If for the sake of argument the created could exceed its Creator and somehow become moral even without an existing standard, then no we shouldn’t worship God if He were evil, but consequently we’d likely not enjoy eternity very much either so worshiping Him would depend on my integrity which apparently only I cared about. This can’t end well.

Ultimately, it’s an absurd world which would destroy itself, and while one might argue that this is exactly what we have, I think by the very same sentiment which condemns such a state one reveals that it is not in fact the case. Our world does know good from evil as it tears itself up and a look toward what is resisting such destructive chaos also reveals that God is not evil. When I’m tempted to think otherwise (to elevate myself above God morally or to judge him as evil) by reading shocking parts of the Bible without knowing the context or by following my musings then I focus on the clearest indication to the contrary—to the coming judge who displays the fullness of the deity in bodily form: Jesus of Nazareth.

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