Post Index

Sunday, October 23, 2016

King Hezekiah and King Hazael

He who has ears, let him hear.


Election day draws near. Some Americans and Christians alike struggle to decide for which candidate they will cast their vote; an insider or an outsider; whether Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Gary Johnson or some other individual. There are, to be sure, many voters for whom none of the issues or events which emerge during the campaign bears any significance or meaning so as to affect their vote. Their resolve is an automatic, default vote for their party’s candidate regardless of what they might hear or learn.


Although Christians have the wealth of the wisdom of the scriptures they too often tend to caught up in the spirit of politics and whatever the mainstream media might peddle for them. There are two kings who come to mind from the history of Israel. One represents an insider; the other an outsider. Hezekiah was an insider. Hazael was an outsider.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Anointed Sinners, Moses and David

Moses and David were without question two of Israel’s most prominent theocratic leaders. There was no debate or vote for these men. They were selected and anointed by God. What might we possibly learn from two these sinners whom God selected and anointed? Might those lessons inform or expose our own political thought processes concerning the selection of our national leaders in America?


No one is perfect
There. The proverbial cat. It is out of the bag. The pithy header statement is the blithe default disclaimer of some individuals for themselves as well as for others. It is intended, both for their own flaws and the flaws and failures of others. The latter part of this holds especially true and is limited to one’s preferred not-perfect candidate, not the other candidate. The statement implies a sinlessness, or in worldly terms, being flaw-free. The truth is that neither the statement nor its implication is found among believers in Christ nor those who are of the world. Nevertheless it, like so much about politics, sounds good.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Quietness, Salvation and Women

Women, specifically ours sisters in Christ, are often told and in many instances are instructed as to their place in the ministry of the church, not surprisingly, by men. They are to be quiet and silent in that assembly of believers. There is, to be sure, no small number of women who have accepted this instruction and teaching of men. Those women have themselves become active propagators of this message of men concerning the ministry of women in Christ. I will not question the sincerity or the good intentions behind this teaching. I derive no spiritual thrill from casting names on them or questioning their faith. This is not in discussion. What is in discussion is a carnal, worldly approach to the reading and teaching of the scriptures. What is in discussion here is the teaching which continues to be perpetuated as much by men as by women which calls for and places the quiet and saved woman into a second and lower tier in the royal priesthood of believers. This is especially true of women who are willing, able, and even more; who have a calling to teach and preach. This is at vastly serious odds with the scriptures.

Monday, August 8, 2016

The Call for Making Reparations

Over the last few years the call has been stirred up by some apologists (1) (2) (3) (4) (5) seemingly on behalf of blacks for America to pay reparations for the past enslavement of blacks. This appears to be nothing less than a lofty mistaken notion because it traces back to a convenient point in recent history to the temporal problem of slavery, but not the root problem of mankind. It purports to take the moral high road and it sounds like a moral, just cause for some. It sounds like something out of the question for others. Of course, there are ideological and economic considerations involving such reparations. I am concerned with neither those considerations nor the reparations themselves. I am concerned with what purports to be a moral call for justice on behalf of blacks by some even while others deny any wrong involving the enslavement of blacks in America. Still others resist and oppose reparations for no reason other than their contempt and disdain for the black skin color of a human being.

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Murder of Homosexuals in Orlando, Florida Nightclub

This is going to be brief concerning the killing of Americans in a Miami Florida nightclub. I admit I do not have all the details. I have not conducted any type of investigation and the premise concerning that murder is based on some mainstream media reports and social media sources. The preliminary indications, as I have been able to understand and about which I have drawn my conclusions (and about which I may turn out to be mistaken, nonetheless the core of this message will stand) is that the murderer targeted his victims because of their homosexuality or their association with homosexuals, or otherwise no particular reason. It’s not like he made sure that anyone who did not fall in either of those two categories would be spared the slaughter which would soon follow.


Undoubtedly, there are various views taken and which are being heard concerning the Orlando nightclub murders. There is the gun control view,

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Psalm 110: Melchizedek and the preexistence of Jesus

There is a great deal of speculation and denial concerning the preexistence of Jesus. Some, perhaps much or most of this, originates with what is touted as scholarly handling of the scriptures. The extension of this problem is that the some, or many, saints accept unquestionably as being true and accurate. The ancient and new sources which are cited and quoted are seemingly endless. Some are quick to ascribe a level of authority to those sources (such as Second Temple era) on par with the scriptures solely on the basis of their antiquity and their notable variation from scripture. In other words the fact that those sources are at variance with the scripture is sufficient to question the veracity of scripture rather than those ancient sources.  There is also the abundance of word and phrase dissections in the Hebrew and Greek languages. This is not to oppose or reject scholarly work. Rather, it is just that much of what often emerges is of little edification for the saints in Christ.

my Lord

There is an interesting insight concerning the preexistence of Jesus

Sunday, April 10, 2016

God: Thinks, Feels and Acts

parameter: the minute and the distant
There are some things which characteristically typify the discussion on God. Those are the parameters, not the actual substance, which outline the discussion. They are the infinitely, microscopically minute on one side and the infinitely distant in the universe on the other side. Between those parameters is a free-for-all of impassioned mockery and much-speak. The sole objective of one is to tear down; the other to build up.


God: thinks, feels and acts
These objectives, in the fuller spectrum of things, are not bad or evil in themselves. They are as much a part of life as anything else. There is a time for one as much as the other, Solomon said. The impassioned drive behind those discussions on God is not that we do not see or understand what or how we think, feel and act.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Love With All Emotion, Intellect, Subconsciousness and Strength

4 "Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!
5 "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.


God always reveals himself. Sometimes it is in a way that intrigues. Sometimes He reveals himself in such a manner that it fascinates and captivates the seeker. He finds himself compelled to want to more fully understand what the Spirit has revealed to him about God.


the Shema
Although the pronouncement of the Shema of Deuteronomy 6 is arguably the preamble of the monotheist claims of Christians, Jews and Muslims it is also, I believe, one of the most misunderstood revelations about the Lord [who] is one. Merely calling out “God is one!” “Allah is Great!” or “Jesus is Lord!” can make for great soundbites and slogans believed by those who profess them, but this does not equate to an understanding of God.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Muhammed as Spirit of Truth: A Christian Testimony Against Islamophobia

(This message is in response to a friend’s invitation to comment on the article by Ian Mevorach. I have used the title of his article for my own article here.)


Thank you, Abhi, for calling my attention to this post. I will gladly contribute a comment.


As a disciple of Jesus I not only reject, but I oppose any and all manner of persecution against Muslims. My rejection and opposition is in keeping with what Jesus himself taught and which I have embraced as his disciple, but also what he clearly demonstrated to the disciples. One, he never urged or encouraged the Jews to revolt against Rome, and two, when Peter thought to take up the sword and kill those who came to arrest Jesus he was stunned to hear his Master exhort him to put away his sword.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

David himself calls him 'Lord'

So, in what sense is He his son?


This is the question from Psalm 110 which Jesus posed in Mark 12 to the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees who were present. They were at their usual preoccupation: trying to find fault in the teaching of Jesus. It is a question with a lesson. It is a lesson not easily learned since Jesus did not answer his own question but left it for those to whom he directed it to ponder it. It is possible that when we have wrestled and struggled with this unanswered question which Jesus posed about David that we might then begin to understand and answer the question the quandary of so many saints and scholars. Their quandary  stems from their question and rejection of various claims concerning Jesus, the Son of God, that he was one with the Father. Yes, it is good to pose questions even to question authority, but when you do listen for the response. Rightly, the very same about David, or at least a very similar question can be posed to believers about Jesus, the Son of God: Paul (and Peter) calls Jesus, the Son of God, God. (Titus 2:13; II Peter 1:1) So, in what sense is He God?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Unity of the Spirit and The Shema

two messages, one God
This is a view of the scriptures concerning the apostle Paul’s message on the unity of the Spirit in the New Testament and it’s similarities with the message of Moses on the Lord God who is one in the Shema in the Torah; the Old Testament. Even more, these words on the call for unity or to be one were proclaimed by Jesus himself, both in his quotation of the Shema, (Mark 12) but also in the priestly prayer of John 17. It is this priestly prayer by Jesus which serves as the commentary and test between the message of one in the Shema in Deuteronomy and the unity of the Spirit in Ephesians from the same God.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

He Has Explained

. . . Him.


This peculiar phrase, which is borrowed for the title of this article, is found in the opening words  in the first chapter of the gospel according to John. The words refer to God whom no one has seen, but whom Jesus has explained.


There is a second and equally interesting phrase which appears immediately prior to that phrase. It is a brief summary which distinguishes between the Law which was given through Moses for Israel and grace and truth which were realized through Jesus.


What is the significance of how Jesus realized these things? What was it that Jesus explained about God for believers in Christ? Similarly, what is the significance for atheists, well represented in John’s gospel in Pontius Pilate, who look to see God, but who can not see him and would not know him or recognize him if he were in their presence?


the gospel according to John
Before looking further into these things

Friday, February 19, 2016

What's In Your Heart?

Do you trust that God knows what is in your heart? Do you trust that what you teach and how you worship is from the heart? Do you trust in your love of God?

Many of us have heard the credit card commercial which asks viewers: What’s in your wallet? The sales pitch is to persuade listeners to make no mistake about all credit cards being the same. Trust the right credit card in your wallet, Capital One assures its customers, to get more than any other card.

a man after God’s own heart
There is a similar view about the heart among some saints, but with a notable difference. Specifically, this view is one of self-reassurance that as long as you believe it in your heart and it feels good in your heart then it must be right and that’s all you need.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Were The Prophets Called Gods?


Today, there is a teaching which denies the deity of Jesus. It is not true. It is mistaken. It is ignorance. It is a lie. It purports to be scholarly. It is false. It is not new. It is bad enough when an individual struggles to understand the deity of Jesus, but it is a vastly different matter when that individual joins with others to take this teaching to others. Although there are a number of different reasons and passages which are cited to substantiate and bolster this mistaken teaching. This article will focus only on one. It is the particular mistaken claim that when Jesus stated he was the Son of God he was not saying anything significant or suggestive of his deity. He did not mean anything more than to simply equate and cast himself as just another messenger of God to whom the word of God came in the same manner as the prophets.

Friday, February 12, 2016

They Saw God

Seeing is believing or so the saying goes in America. But how true is that saying? Do we believe it? Generally speaking it is safe to say that it is true and that we believe it in its colloquial use. It is in this same sense that we understand without confusion or question what a blind man means when he says, like sighted people, “I see.” We recognize the expression, not as referring to visual sight, but to understanding. Otherwise, we might see with our eyes what we had suspected or something about which we had been told and a visual sighting is sometimes added corroboration.


Yet, there seems to be something of an aversion by which people who think and do their jobs with certain mental faculties become utterly lost outside of that environment. Suddenly, the thought processes which are part of their daily lives are abandoned. What they see; they are not sure that it is real or that it can be trusted. Among believers this seemingly extraordinary abandonment of the thought process and the input of virtual and literal sight by which something is seen results in a nonsensical riddle concerning God and seeing God.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Not All Things Edify

pillars, leaders, teachers and preachers
There are various decisions in recent decades which the church has made, or conversely, has not made with no particular reason, understanding or guidance and authority from the scriptures. Sometimes the decision to do something or to go in a particular direction is nothing more than the carnal stubborn mindedness of those who are reputed to be pillars, as Paul referred to some in the church at Jerusalem. (As an aside, but one not unrelated, the standard, not for pillars or leaders, but for those in the church in Jerusalem who were to carry out the menial task of serving on tables was that they be full of the Spirit and of wisdom. How much more so those who lead, teach and preach before the body of believers in Christ! I anticipate the charge that the title of the article as it is used (properly) here is taken out of context. This much touted call and cry for context and book, chapter and verse is, if we look at Jesus, seriously overrated and mistaken.) A carnal decision, that is, one devoid of wisdom with little regard for the body of believers raises serious questions for those who discern these matters according to the Spirit and wisdom in themselves. Even as there are others who cry out in protest that such a decision is wrong no one thinks to ask the question as to whether or not the implementation of that decision edifies the saints and whether this decision is the wise thing to do.

Not All Things Edify

pillars, leaders, teachers and preachers
There are various decisions in recent decades which the church has made, or conversely, has not made with no particular reason, understanding or guidance and authority from the scriptures. Sometimes the decision to do something or to go in a particular direction is nothing more than the carnal stubborn mindedness of those who are reputed to be pillars, as Paul referred to some in the church at Jerusalem. (As an aside, but one not unrelated, the standard, not for pillars or leaders, but for those in the church in Jerusalem who were to carry out the menial task of serving on tables was that they be full of the Spirit and of wisdom. How much more so those who lead, teach and preach

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Worship: With All Your Heart, Mind, Soul, and Strength

There seems to be a great bit of effort among the saints in Christ to sharpen the precision of what they profess and teach concerning salvation, worship and other matters of faith. This seems admirable. It seems commendable. It also reveals a tendency towards some form of pseudo science as opposed to trust and adherence in the same scriptures which the saints profess as their guide and which they teach.


There are some areas in which this is almost virulent and rampant such as what is the exact point of a person’s salvation. (The memory comes to mind of seminarians laughing at monks and theologians who pondered and argued about exactly how many angels can stand on a pinhead? Sounds like nothing new, right?) Another one is exactly what and how is worship acceptable to God? It is this latter area which is the subject of focus in this article.


performing experience, inexpressive experience
Some brothers and sisters, with good intentions, practice and teach a form of worship
which must consist of a certain number of elements and nothing more. The sole focus of this worship is long and hard on what one does or performs. It has little or nothing as to whom we belong and what we are towards the one to whom we belong.


Some brothers and sisters seem to be, unwittingly, more the adherents of existentialism than faith in Jesus and the Lord who is one. What does this mean? It means that much like the existentialist who is not able to express with words the experience which he has just had and by which he has authenticated himself/herself. Indeed, he sees no need or reason to explain with words the experience which is supposedly so monumental in his life existence, so too the Christian. The Christian who is not able to articulate with words what they profess or to have experienced much less their practice of worship has underestimated or forgotten the word of God in his life. The experience for both that existentialist and that Christian might have been a joyful, but fleeting feeling of their inexpressive experience.


to be worshipers
Jesus did, in fact, tell us in his own words that the Father seeks true worshipers to be* his worshipers in truth and spirit. (John 4) It is true that Jesus did not elaborate as to the particulars of what constitutes worship in truth and spirit. It is also true that as much as some saints dispense short lists as to a specific elements of worship these have the effect of performance fulfillment. Yes, worship does and must involve doing what is worship to God, but is there anything which might possibly be missing?


Jesus had a way of bringing things down to their simplest level. When he was asked, by men with evil and impure hearts, what is the foremost commandment he replied:


Jesus answered, "The foremost is, 'HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.'


heart, mind, soul and strength
If ever there were a list; this is it. You may wonder, perhaps even resist, what this has to do with worship. Now I draw your attention back to the words of Jesus: “. . . the Father seeks to be* his worshipers.” While worship does involve doing something it must not be detached from who we are, or our very being.


What more could ever possibly encompass who we are than when we reveal and present our HEART, MIND, SOUL and STRENGTH before God, to God and in the company and fellowship of fellow true worshipers of the Father?


Yes, there are some saints whose life in the Spirit has been a struggle because they have been told, not something they have learned from the written word of God, that either worship is all about letting yourself go with unbridled abandon, or keep a tight rein on your emotions.


heart
Nothing could be farther from the truth. The reason this is so is because somewhere between the HEART, MIND, SOUL and STRENGTH which God has given each one of his children is the feeling of emotion whether of joy, pain or rejoicing in worship. It may seem outlandish to you, but the HEART seems the likely vessel of that emotion.


mind
Whomever we might have allowed to get into our head and plant in our MIND the mistaken notion that knowledge and understanding have no place in who we are before Father and how we worship the Father did not understand these things themselves. The mind is where and how we process, discern and understand what we profess and what we teach such as in worship.


soul
Who hasn’t had the experience of having driven through several towns on a long trip before they realize that they had pass those towns many miles ago. We say the person zoned out, or he/she was running on auto-pilot. In other words, what we did, namely, driving and navigating along through the traffic was done without thinking about it. When we reach a level where we can do things without thinking about them we say they have become second nature. Worship with all your SOUL is to worship, not zoned out, but even more than second nature; it has become our first nature. The psalmist’s life was one of continual worship, much like what Paul states in Romans 12:1, and the commandment of the Lord was ever on his mind, his lips and in his hands to fulfill it gladly and joyfully.


strength
Whether it is the capacity to get up in the morning when your body is telling you to sleep-in, driving to assembly, standing up to sing in the assembly or going over to meet and greet a stranger, a visitor or a fellow brother or sister; it is by the simple God-given STRENGTH in your God-given body to worship the Father.


conclusion
Jesus said, the Father seeks true worshipers to be his worshipers. It is significant and it is to be noted that Jesus included the qualifier true of these worshipers; they are to be true worshipers. It is also significant to note that Jesus stated these are to be the worshipers of the Father. It is not vague, ambiguous or impersonal. Worship is to the Father.


Worship to the Father is to be in spirit and truth. It is in spirit in that it is with and according to our understanding of the written revelation of the will of God as to how we live, worship, and yes, how we die. It is truth in that worship has the richness of the heritage. It is worship with the perspective of past, present and future of our brothers and sisters, whom, as Jesus noted, knew what they worshiped. The glorious blessedness of the saints in Christ is that through the same word of God we are guided by the Holy Spirit in order that our worship might be in spirit and truth.

Worship involves doing, but it no less involves being worshipers who love God. They are those who love the Father and they readily reveal that love with all their heart, with all their mind, with all their soul, and with all their strength in their worship.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Who Died?

professions of faith
Generally speaking, Christians profess to believe in Jesus as the Son of God. This is an ancient profession of faith from as far back as the first century. But, it is a profession which seems to take on a low-grade form of acquiescence get-around to making a bold assertion that Jesus is God. This latter profession of the deity of Jesus is not only resisted and opposed by self-described Unitarians, but it also constitutes a conception of deity as both Son and God which is a source of much confusion and difficulty for the saints in Christ to believe much less to proclaim with confidence. Those who lead, teach and preach and others to whom the saints look to or hope to gain some insight and understanding reveal that they are no less confused and uncertain. The weak disclaimer that this subject is a mystery and can not to be understood may be a fitting response from an agnostic like Bart Ehrman, but not what the saints in Christ ought to expect from those who teach the word of God.

How is it that Christians have come to such a bog in their faith concerning God and man with respect to Jesus?

Friday, January 22, 2016

Was Jesus Ignorant?

Is there anything substantive to be made of the so-called ignorance of Jesus concerning the time of his second coming? This is a stumbling block, seemingly, for saints and scholars alike. It is the taunt of Muslims and other Unitarians who believe they have dealt a deadly blow to the deity claims of Jesus. How can it be, they wonder, that the one whom the scriptures reveal and Christians proclaim as God incarnate does not know the time of his return?


The fact that such taunts and mockery come from non-believers is bad enough, but even worse when these come from believers. The mere mention of this so-called ignorance of Jesus is gleeful for some and is disheartening for others. Yet, this is not exactly of cosmic proportions nor does this have any bearing on the salvation and destiny of the believer. There are two simple questions to query before examining a response to this question.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Do You Hear The One I Saw?

A Christmas song lyric played in my mind as I read this book: Do you hear what I hear?

It is commendable and praiseworthy how these three men, three brothers in Christ, have co-authored and penned their discussion concerning the God who is one in their book, The Son of God. The essay format followed by challenges by the other two men and then explanations by the original essayist is an excellent one. I do not feel compelled to disparage or assail any one of them no matter our differences. The format of the book, especially the spirit of the authors, is worthy of imitation by those who would engage in discussion or in that loathsome, grandstanding format of public debate. I understand their struggle to understand the God who is one is not unlike that of other saints in Christ.

I read the book not because I expected to fulfill some unmet need in my understanding of the God who is one.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Preexistence: John is Elijah

During my daily reading of the scriptures I read through a passage which brought to mind a much discussed, speculated mostly, question of preexistence. Did John the baptist exist before his life as the child who was born to Elizabeth? What might the lesson of John's preexistence reveal for us about the preexistence of Jesus before being born to Mary and Joseph?

the failure of lessons not learned

Israel readily understood and accepted many lessons from God. Some lessons were rejected. There was the lesson involving the human sacrifice of Isaac by his father Abraham.

Although Israel pondered the significance and meaning of the sacrifice of Isaac, which was virtual and not actual, it was a lost lesson. This, despite the reality of the human sacrifice of Egypt’s firstborn to procure the deliverance of Israel from its bondage of slavery to Egypt. These instances involving sacrifice represent just two lessons which God gave to instruct and inform Israel of what God was capable of doing. These lessons were part of the unfolding revelation of the will of God for Israel and for all mankind and which was to culminate with the coming of Messiah. History reveals the failure of Israel to learn the weightier lessons, hence, Israel’s denial, rejection and crucifixion of Jesus.

Christians are not exempt from the real possibility of a failure to understand some of those same lessons as concerns Jesus whom Christians revere as the Son of God. Although there are numerous New Testament texts which attest to the deity of Jesus, that is, that Jesus is God in the flesh, the saints continue to struggle concerning his deity. In some instances, the befuddlement leads to the deity of Jesus being rejected. Some do not see it as a struggle. They simply deny the deity of Jesus and ascribe to Jesus a divinity much like that of angels. Is it not possible that like as God did with the sacrifice of Isaac and the sacrifice of the firstborn of Egypt that He might have done no less concerning the question of the preexistence of his Son Jesus whom he sent into the world?

the lesson concerning John the baptist

There is a struggle which precedes, among some saints, their quest to understand and accept the deity of Jesus. The struggle in their mind centers on a god who had a beginning, as did Jesus, when he was born to Mary. According to their understanding the birth of Jesus as Mary’s firstborn child nullifies the belief and teaching by Christians that Jesus, the Son of God, had a preexistence before his appearance on earth. However, Jesus himself delivered a real-time history lesson for Israel and for Christians on preexistence. It was the lesson concerning John the baptist in Matthew 11:2-15.

John was related to Jesus. Their mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, were cousins. John was born shortly before Jesus. It was not long before John began his preaching message of baptism for repentance to the children of Israel. The account in the book of Matthew recounts the time when John was imprisoned and feeling a bit unsure John wondered about Jesus whom John himself had baptized. So John sent his disciples to inquire for an answer and some reassurance from Jesus as to whether Jesus was the one who was to come.

the response of Jesus to the inquiry of John

Jesus revealed quite plainly without subtleties or nuances to the disciples in the above text that John is Elijah. He did not say John was like Elijah. The words of Jesus are clear and without ambiguity. John is Elijah in a different aspect; as more than a prophet. Jesus, as was customary of him, knowing that such a clear and bold assertion by him could easily be met with resistance and rejection attached these words, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

The Jews were aware and mindful of the expected fulfillment of the prophecy of Malachi 4.

5 "Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.
6 "He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers,so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse."

Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, records by name Elijah as the prophet whom God would send before Messiah to prepare the people for the coming of Messiah. Jesus’ own disciples were familiar with the prophecy and asked Jesus about it. Jesus affirmed the prophecy of Malachi for them. Some time after the instance in Matthew 11 Jesus was later asked by the disciples concerning the same matter which he had plainly revealed to them concerning John being Elijah.

10 The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?"
11 Jesus replied,"To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things.
12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished.In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands."
13 Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Note that the disciples understood from his response that Jesus was talking to them about John the baptist. The fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy concerning the prophet Elijah in the life of John the baptist reveals some powerful lessons and raises some strong implications (and nuances) concerning the preexistence of Jesus. We may understand and not accept those lessons concerning preexistence, but that is why Jesus admonished his listeners with these words: He who has ears to hear, let him hear. The fear of being anything less than of sound doctrine among those who lead, teach and preach often has the effect (often the desired effect) of the saints keeping quite rather than bursting forth with joy upon coming to the realization of, for instance, the implications concerning the preexistence of Jesus.

the preexistence of John

The birth of John was almost as extraordinary as the birth of Jesus. One of the first lessons of the birth of John is that he existed prior to being born to Elizabeth. Do not rush to jump to crass conclusions on the preexistence of John so as to ascribe the status of deity to him. The preexistence of John does not equate to such a thing. The basis for this statement is that Jesus himself asserted that John is Elijah. Elijah lived several centuries before John was born. It is significant to note that while some saints may cite Hebrews 9:27:

And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment

that the prophet Elijah did not die. He was taken up to heaven in a chariot of fire in the presence of Elisha and the prophets. (II Kings 2:11)

Elijah as John

The prophet Elijah had come in a new role. It was a role, Jesus said, as much more than a prophet. John is Elijah. It is important to note and understand the name change and to keep those separate and distinct and not to think we have gained any understanding merely by freely interchanging those names. It would be as inappropriate to address a married woman by her maiden name after she is married to her husband as it would be to call John the baptist Elijah. The statement by Jesus that John is Elijah is a clarification for his disciples and not an instruction for them to address John as Elijah. It does little or nothing to merely plug-in a name change or a title or a label instead of understanding the significance and implications of what it is that has been revealed for us. The mistaken practice of plugging in names, titles and labels (such as Yahweh, Father, and son) is as common among the saints in Christ as among the scholars whom the saints follow; the understanding of both being seriously questionable.

the lesson outline unfolds

What the lesson of the life and birth of John the baptist reveals for our understanding is the reality of preexistence of a specific individual. The lesson outlines for us from nothing less than the pages of the written word of God the name of that individual as being Elijah. When the lesson unfolds before the eyes of the disciples they are informed that John is that individual whom the prophet Malachi had named. John is the one whom the Holy Spirit designated as the one who would prepare the way for Messiah.

conclusion

Suddenly, the much mistaken notion and seemingly inexplicable and incomprehensible teaching of scripture concerning the question of preexistence in general, and as concerns Jesus specifically, is not such a conundrum, _ if we have ears to hear. What the birth of John reveals is that that physical birth by Elizabeth no more marked the beginning of John’s existence anymore than did the physical birth of Jesus by Mary mark the beginning of his existence. While the preexistence of John as Elijah does not make either of them deity; the physical birth of Jesus does not nullify or invalid his preexistence or his deity. Do not be quick to think that merely plugging in some other name for Jesus, who like John, appears in the Old Testament or that such a name change translates to an understanding of the preexistence of Jesus. It is not an inexplicable or incomprehensible teaching to understand from the Old Testament concerning the name by which the pre-existent Jesus is known. Yes, Jesus did preexist. Take heart. Be assured. Be encouraged. He was no less God when he humbled himself to take on the form of a man than when he appears throughout the history of Israel as recorded in the Old Testament. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Book: The Son of God: Three Views of the Identity of Jesus . . . a response

I have no need to rail against, cast aspersions, engage in name-calling or pinning labels on Charles Lee Irons, Danny Andre Dixon and Dustin R. Smith. I am mindful that they are no different than many saints who struggle to know the God who is one. However, inasmuch as they are teachers they bear a greater burden for their teaching. There is, too often, a quickness to flash one’s own righteousness with respect to doctrine and the scriptures when engaged with those whose understanding of doctrine and scripture is at odds with our own understanding. I read all the available excerpts and then the entire co-authored book, The Son of God while I was waiting on my hard copy to arrive.


I did not read the book because I was looking to fulfill some need in my understanding of Jesus.