Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Prophecy of the Good Shepherd


claims and references
Jesus made many claims. He made different references to himself. Some of these claims were according to how the people perceived him. They perceived him to me a prophet so he referred to himself as a prophet. They cast aspersions on him as being a drunkard and a gluttonous man, so he referred to himself as a drunkard and a gluttonous man. The Jews presumed to take offense that Jesus, by implication, equated himself with God. The Jews rightly inferred his meaning, but they resisted his words, because as they said to him, he was just a man, so he referred to himself as a man.

There were other claims and references which were seemingly, for lack of a better term, nice, as in perfectly noncontroversial and harmless. One such reference which Jesus made about himself was, not just that he was a shepherd, but that he was the good shepherd. There was nothing noble or prestigious about being a shepherd or for anyone to liken themselves to a shepherd. Even so, this sounded good for the Jews. It was as anemic culturally as it was harmless.It sounds good for us today.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Isaac, Schrödinger's cat, and Santa Claus: Virtual Reality, Paradox and Myth

Christmas is a time of joy for many people even many who have no basis of faith associated with the holiday concerning the birth of Jesus, the Son of God. It is also the time of the year which invariably brings out round after round of mockery, disdain and trouble against some saints in Christ, that is, Christians for their observance of the holiday. Some of this often arises over the practice of teaching children that to believe the myth of Santa Claus as a falsehood and a sin. Some of that mockery, disdain and trouble comes not only from atheists, but from Christians against Christians. Of course, a favorite of atheists is to ignorantly, mainly because it makes for better sporting for them, equate belief in the myth of Santa Claus with belief in the myth, according to them, of God. My purpose in this article is to bash neither Christmas nor Santa Claus. My objective is to apprise the myth of Santa Claus along with the reality of the sacrifice of Isaac and the paradox of Schrödinger's cat for the understanding and edification of the saints in Christ.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Why I Believe Jesus came in Finality in 70 A.D.

Actually, Why I Believe Jesus came in Finality in 70 A.D., is the title which appears in Don K Preston’s four part video series. The title, Why I Believe Jesus Returned in 70 A.D, is as the videos appear in YouTube. Just to be clear both of these refer to the same video work by the author. The title of this article does not reflect my understanding of the scriptures or my convictions. The title is Preston's own title. I do not agree with and I reject the overall content of the video messages. If there is any difference between the Part 1 and Part 4 videos I am not able to see it. Those two video messages appear to be the same and even the three videos bear much repetition which does not constitute a problem in itself. I played and listened to all four videos in their entirety. The appearance of the title on this blog article reflects neither my understanding nor agreement with his message. Here are the four video links for you. I encourage you to view them yourself. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3Part 4.

Just for the record and by way of a perspective, my understanding is that Matthew 24 relates the prophecy declared by Jesus himself to his disciples concerning his coming. I take no offense nor am I troubled by whatever label has instantly been pinned on me just now. I believe, as I have briefly done in this article and as I refer readers to my own blog article, that my explanation involving the particular elements of that prophecy (while being hardly original or unique) is a marked difference from the general double brush stroke, gloss-over given to the prophecy, namely, that it is about 1) the destruction of the temple and 2) the second coming of the Lord.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Day of the Lord: darkened sun, blood moon, fallen stars

In recent months I have heard a message from some brothers in Christ which is new to me. Briefly, the message is that Jesus has come already. Those who are waiting for Jesus to return are mistaken and they wait in vain. There is no second coming of Jesus. I have heard them proclaim this message with the glee and giddiness of a child who has just received a new toy or made a new discovery. This teaching purports to be the fulfillment of the word of the Lord. Clearly, there is nothing gleeful about it, but a seriously mistaken notion by some men.


an expression

Advocates and teachers of this message probably package their teaching under a freshly minted catchy name of which I am not aware and I am not given to throwing labels around. For the sake of reference and for working purposes I am going to use an expression in this article from the scriptures which refers to this doctrine and the elements of the doctrine. The expression is, the day of the Lord. There are varieties of that expression including the coming of the day of the Lord.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Is the virgin birth of Jesus a myth?

Christmas. It is the season to rejoice in the birth of Jesus, the Son of God in song, praise and fellowship. It is a time when some examine what they profess to be in terms of the faith. They examine their conviction to see if it is firm. They examine the testimony of their words with their deeds. In some instances some people come to terms with themselves. They realize there is a need for them to step up in order to be ready to give an account for themselves as Christians or as disciples of Jesus.

Christmas is also the season for some to mock the virgin birth of Jesus as being nothing more than a myth. One writer admonishes believers to forsake the virgin birth with these words: “Virgin birth: it’s pagan, guys. Get over it”. Do not make the mistake to assume that he rejects, at least not that it is apparent in his article, that which is pagan over that which is holy or divine. However, it is what has prompted me to write this article.

the subtly of a mother
I feel a certain sense of futility about writing this article. Certainly, there is no ‘deep anxiety’ (Carrier). It is not pessimism, doubt or unbelief. Rather, it is because it pertains to something which every human being, simply by virtue of being alive, has experienced, namely, their birth. We say it’s a done deal. Truly, we’ve been there and although it is not an event that we remember we say we've done that. (Our mothers would probably have a something to say anyone of three different ways: YOU'VE done that? You've DONE that? You've done THAT? Mothers have a subtle but very effective way of putting in our place as in, You did nothing.)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

the Son can do nothing of Himself

Select articles:

There are many voices. They all want to be heard. Mostly they are voices with a negative message with respect to Jesus. Their message is often nothing more than a hollow, negative assertion that “Jesus is not God.” Others will actually bring a morsel of a scripture to support their assertion such as the one which is the focus of this article.

These words spoken by Jesus that the Son can do nothing of Himself is just one example heard from those voices. Although many Christians are familiar with these words many of them have never wondered or have never seen the need to examine the meaning of these words. They fall easy prey to the message of those voices. Certainly, those who seize these words to make their assertions to deny the deity of Jesus have themselves not done anything to examine the meaning of these words. The conclusion extracted from these words is that this is an acknowledgment by Jesus of his inferiority and weakness on the level of a human being, not God, but is this the case? Here is a broader scope of the passage from John 5:19-21.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Jesus: a gluttonous man and a drunkard

This was the disparagement, the gossip, that was spread to malign Jesus, the Son of Man. It was said that Jesus was a gluttonous man and a drunkard. This was said of Jesus in contrast to John the baptist whose life mission was in the fringe of society and in the wilderness of the river Jordan. Alas, the comparative morality of the twenty first century is not new. The populist perception of John was as one of being a truly a religious, holy and pious man. The falsehood about Jesus being a gluttonous man and a drunkard neither troubled nor fazed Jesus in the least.

Jesus was happy and confident in himself as he went about the Father’s business in and among and with sinners.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Only True God

The purpose of this article to examine the expression, the only true God, which appears in the scriptures. There is a similar and related expression appears a second time in the scriptures.

The gospel according to John opens with a message that is often cited and quoted about the Word who became flesh. My own reason for citing this reference is for what John reveals about the mission of the Begotten Son several verses into the first chapter, namely, that the Begotten Son came to explain God. We understand that explanations are communicated with words and through words. This is what Jesus stated often. He declared that the words that he spoke were not his own words. They were the words which the Father had given him to speak to explain God. Additionally, this is true of the works that Jesus performed. The works which Jesus did were just as he saw the Father doing the same works. The words and the works is what Jesus cited for Philip and the disciples as proof that the Father dwelt in him.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

First Believe?

I must admit it is refreshing to hear an atheist who presents his argument, or objection as in this case, without the usual excess peppering of his message (I encourage you to view the video: First Believe?) with claims and appeals for logic and reason or mockery and derision. Too often the mere inclusion of these lofty puffs about logic and reason in one’s speech are taken as proof that one’s argument is on solid logic and reason simply because the individual says it, and therefore it is so. This is not limited to atheists. Christians tout and flaunt the same claims with each other as well as with atheists. This is not to dismiss logic and reason. (It amuses me to hear Christians toss around what was once solely the atheist ploy and brand about a strawman. And you thought scarecrows weren’t real, right?)


I agree with Matt about the proposition that I will describe and what amounts to, for working purposes, not as a bait and switch, but as a switch and bait.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Deity and the diversity and unity of one

We try hard to enhance and fill out our understanding of deity and the God whom we love. We think we have attained this by touting ourselves as so-called unitarians or trinitarians and even, perhaps, as Arians and Jehovah’s Witnesses. We think if we just use the right name, especially in the Hebrew language form of that name, that we have understood these things. Of course, there is the stout claims and assertions to defense of our understanding. It is a telltale sign of our lack of understanding when that defense is usually in the form of negative assertions. These include “Jesus is not God” “Jesus is not the Father” as though this were on par or as though it equates with teaching and conveying our understanding of the written revelation of the word of God. So much time is expended in exchanges calling out and sticking the label on the person with whom we engage in discussion together with all presuppositions rather to listen to the person’s words. Invariably, those views center on a small handful of passages together with a message from rote memory sometimes without much ability by the individual to offer much or any explanation.

 

The purpose of this article reflects a fundamental conviction of mine, namely, that the greater part and easier part of the scriptures for our understanding is readily apparent for the reader.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter and righteousness

What is righteousness? What is the righteousness of God? Can we possibly know that what we do is the righteousness of God?


Jephthah is a man who judged Israel. He was a mighty warrior who led Israel in their defeat of Ammon, one of the enemies of Israel. As the son of a harlot he had known rejection. His own siblings cast him out of the family only to call Jephthah to come and deliver Israel from their enemy. Although Jephthah reminded them of their rejection of him he set aside his feelings about the matter and came to the aid of his fellow Israelites. However, these are not the accomplishments which often come to mind about Jephthah, particularly among women some of whom anger and bitterness are stirred up. Jephthah sacrificed as a burnt offering his daughter whose name is not recorded in the scriptures. It is a fair question to ask what possible righteousness could there be in the act of sacrificing a human being, of one’s own virgin daughter by the hand of her own father?


Please understand, this is not some perverse call for human sacrifice. Rather it is an effort to understand both Jephthah and Jephthah’s daughter’s acts of righteousness.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Yahweh, Lord of hosts

The scriptures testify of God and of his purposes and the fulfillment of his purposes from antiquity to the time Jesus and the apostles walked this earth. (see Ephesians 1 for a succinct testimony of the Lord God and his purpose for redemption, the fulfillment of redemption and the affirmation of redemption.) My purpose in this article is to align a small glimpse of this testimony from the Tanakh, that is, the Old Testament along with the New Testament reference to those same testimonies. I will present the ways in which God refers to himself, the mindset of the hearers and his purpose to fulfill and accomplish his will. I prefer to leave it to the reader to draw the inferences and conclusions concerning the meaning and significance of this testimony of God for themselves.

Israel is a people and a nation who has the unique distinction of having being the people with whom the Lord God chose to associate himself and to declare himself as the God of Israel. Yet, for all the works, wonders and words which Israel heard, both directly from God and through his servant Moses and later the prophets, they did not believe in him. Initially, the first time when Moses informed the leaders of Israel of the words that the Lord had spoken to him they were quick to tell Moses that they would do all that the Lord spoke to Moses. Immediately following that session with the leaders the people heard the voice of God. Their reaction was one of terror and fear. They couldn’t bear to hear the voice of the Lord and pleaded with Moses to talk with God and whatever God told Moses for them to do they would do it.

(check out these two blog articles Christianity Unmasked & Human Sacrifice at Mt Moriah and Egypt
The first article was my response to Rabbi Blumenthal's article. Six months are I published it he learned about my article. This led to a prolonged amiable and respectful discussion with the rabbi as well as a few of his congregants who were a little less genial, but it was good that they joined us too. You can read our exchange in the comments  The rabbi saw the second article and we engaged in a much shorter discussion again.)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

The Christian's weapon of choice

Does a Christian have a weapon of choice? Is that weapon to inflict injury or is it to kill? The truth is that the Christian has a weapon. It is not for causing injury. It is for causing death. It is the weapon of choice which he or she received. Think about it as GI, God Issue, from the One whom you follow, Jesus, your Lord and Savior.

a disclaimer
Just to be clear this is not a rant about guns and gun control. You can read my blog article, Out-gunning the un-gunned to dispel such notions.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Jesus: I lay down my life

14 "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me,
15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
16 "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd.
17 "For this reason the Father loves Me,because I lay down My life so that I may take it again.
18 "No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." (the gospel according to John, chapter ten)


Generally, it is acknowledged and admitted that Jesus died; that he gave up his life. This is the quick, easy sharing point. What sometimes follows from this sharing point may be either the affirmation of the deity of Jesus or the denial of the deity of Jesus. This, too, from faithful Christians.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Why Do Churches of Christ Not Use Instrumental Music?

It is true that among the fellowship of churches of Christ mechanical instruments are not found or use in the worship of the saints to God. Although the reasons given for this are touted as being, to use the preferred term, “scriptural,” this is hardly suitable for the edification of the saints. This is not because the scripture is insufficient. Rather it is because the explanations often avoid and suppress unpleasant and discomforting realities which would expose the weak, piecemeal smatterings of such explanations. Too often and for too long the assemblies of saints in Christ are either torn apart when a determination is made to include the addition of mechanical instruments of music in the worship to the Father, or they remain locked into the practice of acapella (unaccompanied) singing under the mistaken false safe notion by which they not only believe their practice is safe, but there is a ready condemnation against their brothers and sisters whose practice includes the use of mechanical instruments.


A brother in Christ shared an article via PM on Facebook with me which prompted me to write this article.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Eternal Generation of the Son

There are many doctrines in the Old and New Testament scriptures. There are doctrines which are mentioned in the scriptures, but which were not part of the teaching of the apostles. One example of this is the reference (I Corinthians 15:29) by the apostle Paul to mistaken practice of some who were baptized for the dead. Some of these doctrines span from a virtual to an actual practice.

Monday, September 25, 2017

And Justice for All

What is it that elicits and casts some people into seemingly catatonic fits? I am referring to how Americans and Christians react to a protest march or a kneeling stance in response to a death or during the playing of America’s national anthem. Both, Americans and Christians in America have documents which assert the right to justice, the call to justice and the obligation to uphold justice. (I use the term American separately from Christians only to denote that not all Americans are Christians. There is nothing implied either in subtle questions or suggestions as to their moral character.)

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Serving Tables: The Involvement of the Daughters of God in the Assembly

Today is the eve of something great and wonderful. I am a participant in the increase involvement of our sisters in Christ in the assembly of the saints in Christ. This is not a token, gratuitous or condescension gesture. There may not be the understanding by all as to the solid foundation and roots for this decision, but the decision is definitely not one based on the popular cultural notions of equal rights or cries that this-is-the-new-millennium and it’s about time.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

How do those who are spiritual do justice?



The question as to whether saints in Christ have an obligation to engage and promote social action in the world has often been resisted and even refuted by the church on the basis that the she is not called either to change culture or the world. Of course, the reaction to this self-imposed seemingly uncomfortable and awkward stance has exposed Christians to the charge they are detached, removed and uncaring about the world. This is not quite accurate and I would like to examine the reason for the saints' awkwardness towards the call to do justice. Also, I would like to propose what is the saint's obligation towards doing justice with this question: How does spirituality relate to justice? First, it is necessary to understand what the saints have on hand before stepping out to do justice.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Women and the law of propriety and order

34 The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says.


Today the New Testament portion of my daily reading closed out with I Corinthians 14. There is a great bit of irony which whirls around this chapter. Specifically, the irony is that the apostle Paul in a few words did much to clarify our understanding concerning the gifts of tongues and prophecy. He cast a bit of light for us concerning how things are to be done properly and in order, or as I have called in the title of this article, the law of propriety and order. This is especially vital in our understanding of Paul’s words concerning women in the assembly.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ezra: Put away your wives

the marriage of non-believer and believer
This week my daily reading through the scriptures took me through Ezra in the Old Testament and I Corinthians 7 in the New Testament. There is a relevant reference concerning unbelieving spouses in both passages which is significant. When Ezra was informed that the holy race had intermingled through marriage with the people of the land he was appalled. He called on Israel to follow his proposal and to put away those foreign wives. (Ezra 9 & 10) It is a fair question to ask if what Ezra commanded was pleasing in the sight of the Lord. Ezra and Nehemiah, as priests, understood the importance of not only reading the scriptures, but working to explain the law to the people. The scripture notes that there were children involved in some of those marriages which were dissolved. Here are some brief observations with the primary focus on Ezra. I hardly think my observations are new or original.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why did Jesus not choose any women to wash their feet?

Some of you probably recognize the title of this article. It is a take on the retort from some brothers and sisters when the discussion revolves around our sisters in ministry: Why did Jesus not choose any women to be apostles? It sounds impressive. It sounds informative. It sounds knowledgeable. It is none of these.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Parallel objective lessons from Paul

There are two instances of parallel objective lessons in Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 5 and I Timothy 2. The objective in the former involved the salvation of a certain individual. He was the focus of Paul's admonition in I Corinthians chapter five. There are three progressive points which Paul uses to escalate and build up his point in his letter to the saints in Corinth. Paul gave them 1) an instruction “deliver such a one to Satan,” (I Corinthians 5:5a) 2) the reason or purpose for that instruction, “for the destruction of his flesh,” (I Corinthians 5:5b) and 3) the expected results from that instruction “that his spirit may be saved.” (I Corinthians 5:5c)


Here is the other similar instance of Paul’s teaching

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Principle and Practice, Prophets and Deacons

Much of the discussion concerning prophets and deacons is often framed by gender and exclusivity. It is assumed that these offices are the sole domain of males and they exclude females. This is much the same as to advocate for the presence and ministry of women in the church, but without a lack of understanding of the scriptures. This is equally true of those who oppose the presence and ministry of these women in the church, but who lack an understanding of the scriptures. The inability of the former and the latter to present a consistent understanding and explanation for the edification of the saints is uncannily similar.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Observation and query on Artemis in Acts 19

This observation and query is taken from my daily reading from last week (June 29) which covered Acts 19.

This is the single and only instance in the scriptures of any mention or reference to Artemis. The Holy Spirit in his wisdom introduced the saints in Christ to Artemis in this passage. The temple of Artemis was located in the city of Ephesus. Yet, the overall knowledge of Artemis with those who lead, teach and preach is dismal. Typically, a Sunday morning Bible study on the book of Acts chapter nineteen might meander through a low-grade PG-rated soft porn about sexual immorality and temple prostitutes. (Generally, a way is found to expound with great emphasis regardless of the book being studied, on Gnosticism. Yet, Gnosticism was a newcomer to Asia.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Is the Resurrection of Jesus a Falsifiable Prediction?

Atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists like to tout this claim about the so-called scientific theory: it can be repeatedly tested and, hence, verified. Scientific theory can, just as well, reveal falsifiable predictions. I understand the scientists’ use of the term. It is not the same as in the popular sense which views theory as something which is unsubstantiated and speculative. So, we do not need to chase down that rabbit hole. I do not take issue with this use of the term. I accept the use of the term and will abide by it in this article. Let’s keep in mind that the repeated testing of a theory does not equate to or require a replication of whatever is being tested in order for it to be verifiable or falsifiable. Also, I do not take issue with the claim that an aspect of the natural world can be repeatedly tested. Yes, all things ought to be subjected to testing.




Certainly, verification through rigorous testing such as ISO in the business and manufacturing sectors is highly valued. However, it does beg the question, how is that an accomplishment? How does that build knowledge? Yes, it is an important process for verification of processes, but the criteria for pass/fail in ISO is not set by outside sources, but by the very same client companies who are subject to the ISO audit. It is that client’s process operation which is audited  for adherence. Advocates of scientific theory tout it as far more than a method of investigation. The work of scientific theory is akin to repeatedly testing a battery charge which will go from a positive charge to a negative charge eventually; a process of degradation on which the tester causes no significant effect. It is in this respect that the ISO audit and the scientific theory do not yield, produce or build any knowledge. They merely direct the interested parties to what they need to observe. It is akin to an educational system which touts that its students passed a test. But have those students learned anything substantive beyond the facts which were necessary for them to learn in order to pass the test? My purpose is not to criticize scientific theory, although it is not above criticism and scrutiny. My purpose is to apply the scrutiny of a falsifiable prediction of scientific theory to the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.


What can scientific theory reveal about death?
Atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists expend much time and energy theorizing and testing. Generally, those areas of theorizing and testing involve either the vastly remote and infinitely distant in terms of billions of light years, the vastly long ago such as the beginning of the universe billions of years ago or the microscopically minute of molecular biology. Certainly, these areas of focus are important areas for study, but they are not exactly foremost in the daily lives of people. So, here is something which is foremost and does affect all human beings regardless of whether they are atheists, theists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists: it is death.


How does one test death to determine whether it leads to, according to nihilism, the annihilation of a meaningless human being at the time of death? Fundamental scientific theory tells us that there is nothing, for example a rock, which can be annihilated. It may cease to be visible and palpable, but it is not annihilated. The static energy of the rock is merely transformed into the dynamic energy of disassociated subatomic particles. This can be repeatedly tested with other things such as water. Theoretically, the subatomic makeup of the rock remains in the universe and can be recomposed and restored in the form of a rock, again. What the application of the method of scientific theory reveals about death is that death is the catalyst by which life, as stored energy in a human body suit, is transformed, and like the dynamic disassociated subatomic particles of the energy of a rock; life is capable of being recomposed and restored.  Life is no less capable than a rock of being transformed. This is the easy part.


The interesting point about this much touted bit of scientific information concerning the transformation from the state of static, solid matter of a rock into dynamic energy is that it is not applied to human beings when they die. This raises a couple of questions:


1   How is it that an inanimate, lifeless object with its vast subatomic information such as a rock can not be made to cease to exist but can merely be transformed into dynamic energy?


2   Yet, a human being with a vastly complex chemical and atomic makeup and a wealth of knowledge information of itself and its environment ceases to exist as though, according to the conclusions of atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists, it never existed in this world?


The meaninglessness of nihilism neither reflects nor reveals the work of scientific theory nor the result of repeated testing to determine whether death is a falsifiable prediction. Nihilism saddles itself with merely declaring life is meaningless, but it cannot begin to address much less anser the falsifiability of death. This is the hard challenge. The query continues.


Is the resurrection of Jesus a falsifiable prediction?
I expect that the question about the resurrection of Jesus from the dead would likely summon all manner of cynicism and mockery. Cynicism and mockery are like the meaninglessness of nihilism in that none of these capable, not that it would matter to the cynic and company, of articulating an alternative. This is not a surprise. However, do not be deceived or dazzled so as to mistake cynicism and mockery with the diligent work of scientific theory and the process of repeated testing to determine whether death or the resurrection are falsifiable predictions.


If the subatomic elements which make up a rock can theoretically and predictably come together again to form a rock, then why should a similar predictability be any less true of a human being when, just like another object or life in the universe, it dies. Scientists know and deal in the realm of events, such as the beginning of the universe. It is an event which cannot be replicated in the lab. The theories concerning the beginning of the universe may or may not be true. The scientist can only work within the realm of theory and with theory as a research tool. He does not need to replicate the beginning of the universe in the lab in order to conclude whether it is or is not falsifiable. The conclusion, or the results of testing of a theory, lead him to declare that repeated testing of theories concerning the beginning of the universe reveal that those tests do not and likely will not lead to a falsifiable prediction concerning the beginning of the universe. This is the understandable work of scientific theory. (Here is a brief and interesting article concerning the big bang theory and the beginning of the universe. See A. Penzias and R. Wilson on their discovery of Cosmic Microwave Background [CMB].)


Theory is the same resource available for the scientist to frame and explain his examination concerning the resurrection event of Jesus. The resurrection of Jesus, not unlike the beginning of the universe, does not need to be replicated by the scientist to determine whether or not the resurrection is a falsifiable prediction.


Jesus stated publicly to friend and foe alike that he would die and be buried and that he would rise again from the dead. He stated that he would rise up from the dead on the third day following his death by crucifixion. Essentially, Jesus revealed that he knew and had the code, that is, the scientific information, the authority, to take up his life from the grip of death and to rise up again. There have been others, as is often noted derisively, before and after Jesus who made similar claims. However, the question here is where are those who made those claims? They pass from this life along with their claims about their own death, burial and resurrection are like the rock when it is obliterated. They were cast from this life into death without ever substantiating or fulfilling their claims. There was no transformation, no restored life to their dead bodies.


The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is what reveals that death is a falsifiable prediction.
What Jesus demonstrated is that death has no power, hence, it is a falsifiable prediction.
Jesus revealed that the resurrection from the dead is not a falsifiable prediction.


The resurrection of Jesus is a falsifiable prediction because his disciples could have stolen his lifeless body and lied about him being being raised from the dead. Death is not an event which occurs on a microscopic level or in a place light years away from earth. It is daily, common occurrence for humans.


The resurrection of Jesus from the dead revealed that death had no power over him. If he did not rise from the dead there would be no disciples to proclaim his resurrection even under threat of death and later unto laying down their lives for what they could not deny.


Hence, the resurrection of Jesus is not falsified.
This is not to say that death does not occur. Death does occur. However, the point of the scriptures is precisely that it counters the mocking notion of atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists that the grave of death is the ultimate end and existence of a human being as though he or she had never existed. This is the falsifiable prediction of death. There is no denying and it is true, not false, that Jesus died by crucifixion.


The resurrection of Jesus complements scientific theory
The fact is that what Jesus claimed and fulfilled concerning his death, burial and resurrection exactly complements scientific theory and scientific knowledge concerning matter and energy and that these are merely transformed. Jesus himself emerged from death with a transformed body which his disciples were able to see and touch. Hence, his claims and the fulfillment of those claims is not a falsifiable prediction. Those claims and the fulfillment of those claims mirror the same scientific theory concerning the transformation and theoretical restoration of matter and energy. The claims and fulfillment of those claims by Jesus concerning himself is not a vastly remote, distant or obscure reality. It is a as close and real for every human being as it was for Jesus.


conclusion
The claims and the fulfillment of those claims are to Jesus what scientific theory and falsifiable predictions are to scientists. Just as scientists point out that theory is not an unsubstantiated speculation so to the claims of Jesus are not unsubstantiated speculation. The fulfillment of those claims can bear and stand up to the scrutiny of scientific theory and its repeated testing and its conclusions concerning the transformation of matter and energy. Certainly, from a human perspective those claims and theories are usually presented by their respective adherents as two totally separate and never-to-be-associated responses to life and to death. But, for better or worse, they concern all human beings. When the claims of Jesus concerning his death, burial and resurrection in the first century were realized there was no denial of those facts. However, this does not mean that even those in the first century who experienced it and knew about the resurrection necessarily accepted the reality and the implications of the resurrection of Jesus for themselves much less mankind. The same reality and implications, even if not repeatable, are not falsifiable. It is the burden on the backs of atheists, naturalists, scientists, humanists and evolutionists.


This is no different than running a test repeatedly in the twenty first century. The test results will speak for themselves. The tester is free to accept or reject the results of those tests. He could even forge or force the test results, but this is not necessary. He has the free will to accept or deny, like those first century witnesses, what the test results reveal for him. Even the skeptical scientist knows that according to scientific theory an event, such as the beginning of the universe need not necessarily be replicated to be verifiable, true and not a falsifiable prediction. Similarly, the resurrection of Jesus need not necessarily be replicated in order to be true and verifiable and true and not a falsifiable prediction.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Observations and lessons for women and men from Huldah, the prophetess

This article was developed from my recent daily reading which covered II Kings 22. The passage relates the finding in the temple of the book of the law of Moses by the Hilkiah, the priest, during the reign of King Josiah in Jerusalem. The book of the law had been lost for an unspecified period of time. There are some observations and lessons for our learning concerning our sisters in Christ in the royal priesthood of believers.

observations
  1. The book of the law was read by Shaphan, the scribe, in the presence of King Josiah who was the leader of Jerusalem and Judah.
  2. King Josiah, as the leader of the people of God, showed the wisdom into which he had grown. Josiah had ascended to the throne at age eight. Now, at age twenty six his wisdom was evident. After the book had been read to him by Shaphan, the scribe, King Josiah did not close the book and conclude that the content of the book was clear and self explanatory. No, he directed Shaphan to return to the men who had sent him to King Josiah. The king directed them to inquire of the Lord for him concerning the words of the book. They, Shaphan, Ahikam, Achbor and Hilkiah, did not take King’s Josiah’s instruction to mean that they were to discuss it among themselves and to come back to the king with the result of their discussion.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Were the apostles baptized?

Were the apostles baptized? This is a question which starts a flood of speculations and assertions often with little or no support from the scriptures. Of course, for some Christians the difficulty about this question is compounded by the different and diverse use of the term baptism. There is the 1) baptism of John the baptist for repentance, 2) the baptism which Jesus commanded for forgiveness of sins, 3) the baptism with the Holy Spirit, and 4) the baptism by fire. [1] The latter two of these four were experienced by the apostles and they are related in the scriptures. These were the baptism with the Holy Spirit and baptism by fire, or the cup of suffering, just as Jesus told them they would indeed drink. It is the former two of these four baptisms which the scriptures relate partially. These are the baptism of John for repentance and the baptism commanded by Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. A good distinction between these two baptisms was made by the apostle Paul in Acts 19. Like many questions for which Christians seek answers there is no better understanding to be gained than to look to Jesus and learn the lesson from him. What are the lessons and implications for believers with respect to their own baptism?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Announcements, communion and reading in the assembly by women

The three items which make up the title of this article represent three areas in which my sisters in Christ will soon be active in the assembly of the saints. Our sisters in Christ are being called on by the anointed shepherds of the Lord’s people to make announcements concerning the congregation. They will assist and participate in serving the communion cup and bread as well as the collection. Additionally, they will read from the written word of God before the assembly of the saints. I commend and praise our elders for this decision which, even if it is with the understanding and conviction of the written word of God, there can still be an emotional struggle of the heart, both for leaders and those whom they lead. I do not speak for anyone nor does the content of this article reflect the understanding, convictions and expressions of anyone other than myself.

voices
It ought not to come as a surprise to hear different voices and reactions to such a decision.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Spirits now in prison

in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison 1 Peter 3:19

There is a popular view often heard on the passage above. Often it is seen as sort of a second chance for those who lived and died after a life of disobedience to God. However, this popular message represents a mistaken notion concerning those who lived a life of disobedience to the will God. According to this view the “spirits now in prison” received such a second chance when he (Christ, verse 18) went to make proclamation to them.

two presuppositions
There are two presuppositions which are made concerning this passage both of which are indisputable.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Baptism, baptism by fire, baptism with/in the Holy Spirit


The purpose of this article is to examine three separate and distinct references to baptism. Specifically, it is to be noted that the references by Jesus to these three is separate and apart from the baptism for the forgiveness of sins which he commanded his disciples to carry out as they went preaching the gospel into all the world. Furthermore, the baptism performed by Jesus and his disciples was the only baptism which was in effect at the time, namely, the baptism of John for repentance. The passages in the scriptures do not spell out the meaning of the words spoke by John or Jesus concerning either 1) baptism, 2) baptism by fire and 3) baptism with the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, the meaning is made evident in the entirety of the life and message of Jesus and his relationship with the disciples. John’s words concerning baptism (1) were about what Jesus was to do in contrast to what John was doing. The words spoken by Jesus have to do with a baptism (2 & 3) of his own which he prophesies the disciples would also be baptized.

It is the apostle Paul who enlightens us concerning the difference between these references to baptism. The scriptures refer to a baptism with respect to John. The scriptures make three different references to baptism with respect to Jesus. These references were during their respective ministries during their lifetime. Hence, there is no need to read into or to assume that there is a contradiction in the light of Paul’s words in Ephesians 4 about one baptism which he wrote well after the same lives of John and Jesus. Briefly, I would like to cover the baptism of John as the first of these three references to baptism. Do not make the mistake or jump to a false and erroneous conclusion that these three references to baptism represent different requirements of obedience to Jesus as Lord and Savior.

the baptism of John
Paul encountered some disciples (Acts 19) when he arrived in Ephesus who knew only the baptism of John. Paul asked them into what they had been baptized. The replied that they had been baptized into John’s baptism. Paul then proceeded to enlighten them that the baptism of John was for repentance. Those people to whom Paul alludes were the Jews to whom the baptism of John was limited. Any forgiveness of sins by those Jews who submitted to John’s baptism was to be in compliance and accordance to the established law of Moses. The baptism of John was not a displacement or substitute for obedience to the law of Moses. (Even the healings of Jesus were not to be taken as license for the Jews to waive aside their obedience to the law.) The focus of John’s ministry was two-fold: to draw the children of Israel back to God and to point them towards Messiah, Jesus, the Lamb of God. The baptism by John of those who came to him is the first reference to baptism as enumerated above.

Note: The promise from Jesus concerning the Holy Spirit came long after the baptism of John. The baptism commanded by Jesus in the great commission, unlike the baptism of John, was for the forgiveness of sins. It was not limited to the Jews. It was for all who call upon the name of the Lord. The fulfillment and modeling of this began in the book of Acts in the second chapter. The three references to baptism in this article do not include that of the great commission for the disciples to baptize for the forgiveness of sins.

baptism by fire
One could argue that regardless of whether the baptism in question was for repentance or forgiveness or with the Holy Spirit it was all relatively safe both for the one baptizing as well as the one being baptized. There were no threats. Nobody was hurt. However, it was not long before the disciples begin to experience the progressive increase in the hostility towards them. It began with threats, (Acts 4:21) then came the beatings, (Acts 5:40) and eventually there was the death of our brother Stephen. (Acts 8:2) These threats and beatings began not long after the apostles had been baptized (again, this is not one of the three references to baptism in this article) with the Holy Spirit and received power. It was not long afterwards that, James, one of the apostles themselves was put to death. (Acts 12:2) This increased hostility and persecution of the disciples was their immersion, their baptism, their cup (which they had unwittingly asked for and which Jesus told them they would surely drink it) in the suffering of Jesus. This is the second reference to baptism as enumerated above.

This baptism with fire is what tries the heart and soul of the believer, the disciple of Jesus. It is something which ought to be a surprise for anyone who takes up their cross to follow Jesus. It may sound easy and in fact may be taken as some sort of euphemism by some believers, but to “take up your cross” is a call to brace yourself for the suffering that will certainly come in various ways so as to test the faith of the disciple. This is what seemed foolishly easy enough for the disciples when they replied to Jesus, “We are able.” to his question as to whether they were able to drink the cup that he was about to drink. The baptism with which Jesus was to be baptized might have seemed to the disciples about as safe and carefree as when they had submitted to the baptism of John (# 1 above) for repentance.

baptism with the Holy Spirit
However, it was hardly neither as safe as that baptism nor was it as powerfully dynamic as baptism with the Holy Spirit (# 3 above). I am aware of the quick assumption to equate this reference to baptism with the Holy Spirit with either 1) the Holy Spirit falling on the apostles as on the day of Pentecost, or 2) the Holy Spirit as received by every believer from the day of Pentecost onward. However, to associate this reference by John the baptist to his disciples that the one whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire does not contribute towards our understanding of these various references to baptism and it hinders the edification of the saints. The different reading in the gospel accounts that Jesus would baptize “in the Holy Spirit” and “with the Holy Spirit” are neither problematic nor are they constitute a contradiction. The fact that John may or may not have known about the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Joel and which was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost is pretty much a moot point.

What does contribute towards our understanding of this immersion with the Holy Spirit is found, of course, in the words of Jesus to his disciples. At the same time as Jesus prophesied to the disciples the promise of the Holy Spirit he informed that, he, that is the Holy Spirit, 1) is WITH you, and 2) will be IN you. The present and future tense mode of these words spoken by Jesus are not to be dismissed. They are significant and vital to our understanding. Therefore, it is fitting and appropriate within the topic of this article to speak and make use of baptism with/in Holy Spirit with respect to Jesus. More specifically, the reference "he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit," is not to be mistaken with the baptism with which Jesus with every step towards the cross anticipated and which was a cause of distress for him (Luke 12:50). Indeed, this baptism was one which he made all who would follow him (Mark 10:38, 39) that they, too, would receive that baptism of suffering and ultimate death for his name.

This is what this distinction teaches me about my path and every believer’s path to Jesus as Lord and Savior. It teaches me that believers who find themselves in the assembly and among the saints in Christ in the days before they themselves come to commit their lives to Jesus have the Holy Spirit WITH them. It is when they act on what they have believed that the Holy Spirit comes to be IN them. This was the same experience which did not escape the disciples. Although they had been with Jesus for three years they had yet to stand their ground with conviction as did Peter “taking his stand with the eleven” on the day of Pentecost.

This should be no surprise given the small, but significant detail by Jesus to the disciples. The Holy Spirit, once he came in the very near future of the disciples, would not speak of his own initiative. He would take from Jesus and speak (very much as between Jesus and the Father) as it was given to the Holy Spirit to speak. This is the third reference to baptism as enumerated above.

Conclusion
There are three different references to baptism in the gospel accounts. Of course, these occur during the life and ministry of John the baptist and Jesus. These three reference do not include the reference to baptism for the forgiveness of sins as Jesus commanded his disciple preach and do as they went into the world. Do not jump to conclusions and mistaken assumptions. This is not to dismiss or in any way put aside the commandment of baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Simply, it is that this article is as concerns these three references, 1) baptism, 2) baptism by fire and 3) baptism with the Holy Spirit.