In Joel a most devastating locust plague has been levied on Judah for her sin, and it has been at the hands of Father that the locusts have devoured everything in a sharp rebuke moved out of love for his people and a passion for his reputation. There is a call issued for a solemn assembly to publicly repent of idolatry and injustice and on and on. The people and even the animals are languishing for food, and it is in this context that Joel 2:14 comes. Through chapters 2 and 3 there is the promise of three future days (Pentacost, the Day of the LORD, and the Day of the Messiah).
If read over without thought Joel 2:14 just gets passed and the implications missed.
Read it and see if it lands on you:
"Who knows whether he will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the LORD your God?"
Do you see it?
See, when I say "I am so blessed." What I mean is that I have such an abundance or that I have such pleasant things.
The word blessing is barakah, and here is it's definition:
"Bless, Blessing. Pronouncement of the favor of God upon an assembled congregation." The word is also in places translated "pools" "liberal" "present".
So, I do use the word correctly. I noticed my problem is not a misuse of the word. It is an outright abuse of the point of blessing.
Notice how the word is used. The blessing (grace in provision from the LORD in a time in which there is not enough) was considered a blessing NOT because they could then eat, but because they could then offer a sacrifice!
Wow! It is considered blessing if one could offer a sacrifice and go hungry because the created end had been achieved.
The difference is what one views as the ultimate goal in all things. What is their reason for existence? In Joel 2:14 the text presupposes that one's chief end is to make much of God and honor him as their created purpose and that is fulfilling even if one does not eat. After all, they were to bring all their first fruit to the LORD. If they had something to sacrifice, they were living! They were alive! They had met their life's aim!
I presuppose that if I'm abundantly supplied and all things are pleasant I'm blessed, oh, and I do give a little too. Not too much because my comfort level would be threatened, but I give some.
I'm blessed if it's all good first and I throw God a bone at the end of the day. I assume my created end is to be taken care of then worship when I'm happy in my abundance. The text considers me blessed if I'm giving first and foremost back to God as worship because that is my created end regardless of what I have or don't have because my created end is to make much of God not make much of me.
I'm most definitely blessed. I'm given much, a generous abundance. What am I doing with it? How do I view Father's provision? Do I view it as goods to be given back to the source, Father, as worship? Do I view it as stuff to be consumed on my perceptions of comfort?
I believe it's the latter and want it to be the former, so there is repentance needed.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
What is the problem?
There are those who want to broaden the scope of salvation through means other than Jesus and they are within the church. They presuppose some wrong things about the Scriptures, and therefore, they appeal to sources outside of the Scriptures to make propositional claims that fly straight in the face of the propositional claims of the Bible.
There is an obvious problem. There is an appeal to a time in history as a reference point for determining ultimate truth because that time in history was a revelation of God that brought about respect for other religions.
In the context of this communication respect equals acceptance as equally valid. Keep reading.
The hint is given in the notion that it is above the moral mandate to “tolerate” other of another religious background (in the proper sense of tolerate), to humble oneself and accept that God has revealed himself, obviously in a salvific manner, beyond Jesus.
In other words, people can get to God through other means than Jesus.
The reason that I say the problem is wrong presuppositions about Scripture is that the Scriptures, called the Bible, will just not allow any person who believes them to be accurate revelation from God to make such assertions.
Lets look at some possible belief systems regarding the Scriptures that feed ideas like the one we just looked at.
Neo-evangelicals hold that inspiration is limited to redemptive truths and does not guarantee the correctness of all scientific and historical statements. The neo-evangelicals feel comfortable with the term infallibility, but most evangelicals insist on the word inerrancy as well.
C.S. Lewis believed in a fallible Bible that manifests varying degrees of inspiration. He saw a process of development whereby myth becomes history. God providentially guided the natural and errant literary productions of the past. Then, at the appropriate moment, God adopted that natural myth and elevated it into the service of the Word of God. He now speaks through it to the edification of believers.
Neo-orthodox holds that the Bible becomes God’s Word.
The Bible is simply a witness to Christ. Christ is God’s revelation; the Bible is only a fallible human record of that revelation. 
One of the most popular of the old liberals was the famous preacher of the Riverside Church in New York, Harry Emerson Fosdick. He is forthright in declaring that “the liberal emphasis rests upon experience; we regard that, rather than mental formulas, as the permanent continuum of the Gospel.” The Bible is not an absolute guide, for “any idea of inspiration which implies equal value in the teachings of Scripture, or inerrancy in its statements, or conclusive infallibility in its ideas, is irreconcilable with such facts as this book presents.” What makes it necessary to reject the Bible? “The vast enlargement of the physical cosmos, the evolutionary origin of man, materialistic theories which endeavor to explain him, brutality of social life involving low conceptions of him, the innumerable masses of men such that old cynicisms gain new force … tend in many minds to undo what the Hebrew-Christian development did.” However, “we are saved by it [biblical criticism] from the old and impossible attempt to harmonize the Bible with itself, to make it speak with unanimous voice, to resolve its conflicts and contradictions into a strained and artificial unity.”
Fosdick acknowledges the source of the modern liberal rejection of the Bible. “Get back to the nub of their difficulty and you find it in Biblical categories which they no longer believe—miracles, demons, fiat creation, apocalyptic hopes, eternal hell, or ethical conscience.” This should be no surprise to us. For “it is impossible that a Book written two to three thousand years ago should be used in the twentieth century A.D. without having some of its forms of thought and speech translated into modern categories.”
The problem stated:
The problem seems to be that there is a view of the Bible that comes up short of being the full and final source of truth for salvation.
Why are the scriptures questioned or not valued as authority?
1. The primary reason is that the text is clear and leaves no room for one’s opinion to be shaped by any other influence. The text clearly exalts Jesus as the only God, the God of the Old Testament, who made clear he was teaching himself as the only way to know God, the Father, himself as God. This gave way to the church having to wrestle it’s way through the development of the doctrine of the tri-unity of God.
2. A secondary reason is that the world-view of many is that there is no super-natural, therefore, all things written are historical in nature only and all super-natural things are “myth” created to validate the claims of the writers, who are mainly second century writers who are writing to validate the claims of the church and therefore putting words in people’s mouths they did not actually say. This is the position of “Jesus seminar” “Scholars”.
3. Lastly, many just don’t want to believe because their god is themselves and mankind in general.
What is the solution?
Have the view of Scripture that it has of itself
Orthodox / Evangelical
The modern evangelical position on Scripture is heir of the traditional, orthodox position of historic Christianity from biblical times to the present. Mainline evangelicals from all major denominations and smaller groups accept the verbal inspiration of Scripture, as well as its divine authority and consequent inerrancy. 
Verbal, Plenary, Inspiration (inerrancy)
Verbal (the very words of the Bible)
- This does not deny the fact that God used men in their settings in life, with
their distinct personalities to speak.
Plenary (every part of the Bible)
- All of the Bible is inspired, not just the parts we like
Inspiration (are divinely inspired revelation)
- That is they are from God and are true without any error. That is they
do not affirm anything contrary to truth.
Scripture claims to be God-breathed or inspired
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16–17).
Peter says, “the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look” (1 Pet. 1:10–12).
Peter also says “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20–21).
“Jesus summarized the Old Testament Scripture as existing in three parts: the Law, Prophets, and Psalms (Luke 24:44). He accepted the Old Testament canon as it exists today without any modifications and came to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). As a rabbi, or preacher and teacher of Scripture, Jesus’ entire ministry involved the instruction and application of the Old Testament. Jesus’ public ministry even began with him reading from the Old Testament book of Isaiah and stating that his ministry was to fulfill the Old Testament promises about his coming (Luke 4:16–21). Jesus clearly stated that his ministry was an Old Testament ministry; it was to fulfill all of the Old Testament promises and longings that pointed to him.”
“Christians believe that Scripture is our highest authority, or metaphorical Supreme Court, by which all other lesser authorities are tested. Practically, this means that lesser courts of reason, tradition, and culture are under the highest court of truth, which is divinely inspired Scripture. During the Protestant Reformation, the slogan sola scriptura (and sometimes prima scriptura) became popular to summarize this conviction; it means Scripture alone is our highest authority. ”
Speaking of the New Testament writings of Paul, Peter actually calls his writing “Scripture”.
2 Peter 3:15, 16
And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.
The solution stated
The Bible claims to be the very word of God, given by God to man so that man can know the way of salvation.
The Scriptures warn us of errors regarding the proclamation of Jesus
2 Timothy 4:1-5
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” 
What do the Scriptures teach about Jesus regarding salvation?
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
“And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” 
2 John 7-11
“For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.”
1 John 4:1-6
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. 4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 5 They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. 6 We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”
1 John 4:14-15
“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.”
1 John 5:1
“Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.”
How does the Bible speak to the one who denies Jesus as the sole way to God?
1 John 2:18-27
For Further Reading on Bible Translations
- “Pastoral Reflections on Bible Translations” by Mark Driscoll
- The Indestructible Book by W. Kenneth Connolly
- The Word of God in English by Leland Ryken
- Choosing a Bible by Leland Ryken
- The Bible in Translation by Bruce M. Metzger
- How We Got the Bible by John H. Sailhamer
- A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman L. Geisler and William E. Nix
For Further Reading on How to Study Scripture
- Reading the Bible With Heart and Mind by Tremper Longman III
- Getting the Message by Daniel M. Doriani
- On the Old Testament by Mark Driscoll
- On the New Testament by Mark Driscoll
For Further Reading on Apparent Bible Contradictions
- When Critics Ask by Norman L. Geisler and Thomas Howe
For Further Reading on Miscellaneous Bible Issues
- The Origin of the Bible, edited by Philip Comfort, is a good introduction to the authority and perfection of Scripture from a team of theologians.
- Christ and the Bible, by John Wenham, is a very helpful survey of how Jesus Christ viewed the Old Testament.
- The Canon of Scripture, by F. F. Bruce, is a thorough book on how the sixty-six books of the Protestant canon came to be.
- The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, by F. F. Bruce, is a good survey of the accuracy and credibility of the New Testament.
- The Indestructible Book, by W. Kenneth Connolly, is a fascinating historical look at how the Scriptures have been both opposed and adored over the ages.
 Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996). A general introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded.) (178). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996). A general introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded.) (177). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996). A general introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded.) (171). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996). A general introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded.) (172). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996). A general introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded.) (166–167). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Geisler, N. L., & Nix, W. E. (1996). A general introduction to the Bible (Rev. and expanded.) (180–181). Chicago: Moody Press.
 Mark Driscoll, Revelation, http://blog.marshillchurch.org//2008/04/07/revelation/
 Mark Driscoll, Revelation, http://blog.marshillchurch.org//2008/04/07/revelation/
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (2 Pe 3:15–16). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (2 Ti 4:1–52). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Jn 14:6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (Ac 4:12). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (2 Jn 7). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (2 Jn 8–11). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Jn 4:1–6). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Jn 4:14–15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
 The Holy Bible : English standard version. 2001 (1 Jn 5:1). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
I was reading Luke 22 this morning, and it is about Jesus’ betrayal and trial before the high priest. I’m fairly desensitized to violence as a former perpetrator of it through fighting and as an avid fan of watching it in MMA and the very good man movies I enjoy on WWII and good crushing evil type stuff. So the feeling I get from reading this text, always, takes me off guard. It is uncomfortable. It is hard to read. This time, as I’m reading, the thought occurs to me that the uncomfortable feeling is because of my sin. It’s my punishment he is taking yet he takes it for me. Isaiah is right; he was wounded for my transgressions. The chastisement that brought me peace was upon him and by his stripes I am healed. I, like a sheep, have gone astray; I have gone my own way, and God has laid on him my iniquity.
All I have to bring to the table is, “thank you”, you are worthy to receiver honor, glory and great praise.
Help me to be holy as you are holy. I can’t earn that. My righteousness is dirty rags. My prayer of confession and repentance is that when I fail, that he applies to me his never-ending righteousness and continue to take my sin, for in him do I trust. Glory to God for his acceptance in the Son revealed and proclaimed by the Spirit.