Sunday, March 30, 2014

Isaac Newton's Thoughts on God

In the new movie "God's NOT Dead", Student Josh Wheaton, finds his faith challenged on his first day of Philosophy class by the dogmatic and argumentative Professor Radisson. Radisson begins class by informing students that they will need to disavow, in writing, the existence of God on that first day, or face a failing grade. When Josh refuses, Radisson assigns him a daunting task: if Josh will not admit that "God Is Dead," he must prove God's existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. In one of his counter-points during the debate, Professor Radisson states that Stephen Hawking is a world-famous physicist who held the same professorial chair that Sir Isaac Newton once did, and that Hawking does not believe in God. I was hoping that Josh would immediately jump on the the reference to Isaac Newton to counter his argument. There is plenty of material from Newton to argue the existence of God and since Josh did not use it, I thought I would list a few of Newton's thoughts on God.

 Newton's conception of the physical world provided a stable model of the natural world that would reinforce stability and harmony in the civic world. Newton saw a monotheistic God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation. "In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence."

 Newton embarked on an investigative study of the early history of the Church, during the 1680s succeeding into inquiries of the origins of religion instead, at about the same time as having developed a scientific view on motion and matter. Of Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica he stated: When I wrote my treatise about our Systeme I had an eye upon such Principles as might work with considering men for the beliefe of a Deity and nothing can rejoyce me more then to find it usefull for that purpose. Newton's religious views developed as a result of participation in an investigative discourse with Nature (the nature of the world) and developed from the apparent dichotomy of biblical reality from the increasing revealing of the structure of reality from investigation, and the subsequent challenges these truths of nature posed toward established religion for Newton, especially in light of Christian scriptural belief.
 According to most scholars, Newton was Arian, not holding to Trinitarianism. A manuscript he sent to John Locke in which he disputed the existence of the Trinity was never published. S. D. Snobelen has argued that manuscripts produced late in Newton's life demonstrated Newton rejected the view of the Trinity.
 Newton saw God as the masterful creator whose existence could not be denied in the face of the grandeur of all creation. Nevertheless he rejected Leibniz' thesis that God would necessarily make a perfect world which requires no intervention from the creator. In Query 31 of the Opticks, Newton simultaneously made an argument from design and for the necessity of intervention: "For while comets move in very eccentric orbs in all manner of positions, blind fate could never make all the planets move one and the same way in orbs concentric, some inconsiderable irregularities excepted which may have arisen from the mutual actions of comets and planets on one another, and which will be apt to increase, till this system wants a reformation."
 In addition to stepping in to re-form the solar system, Newton invoked God's active intervention to prevent the stars falling in on each other, and perhaps in preventing the amount of motion in the universe from decaying due to viscosity and friction.
 In private correspondence Newton sometimes hinted that the force of Gravity was due to an immaterial influence: Tis inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should (without the mediation of something else which is not material) operate upon & affect other matter without mutual contact. "This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent Being. [...] This Being governs all things, not as the soul of the world, but as Lord over all; and on account of his dominion he is wont to be called "Lord God" παντοκρατωρ [pantokratōr], or "Universal Ruler". [...] The Supreme God is a Being eternal, infinite, [and] absolutely perfect."
 "Opposition to godliness is atheism in profession and idolatry in practice. Atheism is so senseless and odious to mankind that it never had many professors."
 In a manuscript he wrote in 1704 in which he describes his attempts to extract scientific information from the Bible, he estimated that the world could end on 2060.
In predicting this he said, "This I mention not to assert when the time of the end shall be, but to put a stop to the rash conjectures of fanciful men who are frequently predicting the time of the end, and by doing so bring the sacred prophesies into discredit as often as their predictions fail."

 Newton's conception of the physical world provided a stable model of the natural world that would reinforce stability and harmony in the civic world Though he would never write a cohesive body of work on Prophecy, Newton's beliefs would lead him to write several treatises on the subject, including an unpublished guide for prophetic interpretation entitled Rules for interpreting the words & language in Scripture. In this manuscript he details the necessary requirements for what he considered to be the proper interpretation of the Bible.

 In his posthumously-published Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John, Newton expressed his belief that Bible prophecy would not be understood "until the time of the end", and that even then "none of the wicked shall understand". Referring to that as a future time ("the last age, the age of opening these things, be now approaching"), Newton also anticipated "the general preaching of the Gospel be approaching" and "the Gospel must first be preached in all nations before the great tribulation, and end of the world"
 To understand the reasoning behind the 2060 prediction an understanding of Newton's theological beliefs should be taken into account, particularly his nontrinitarian beliefs and those negative views he held about the Papacy. Both of these lay essential to his calculations, which are themselves based upon specific chronological dates which he believed had already transpired and had been prophesied in Revelation and Daniel.
 Despite the dramatic nature of a prediction of the end of the world, Newton may not have been referring to the 2060 date as a destructive act resulting in the annihilation of the earth and its inhabitants, but rather one in which he believed the world was to be replaced with a new one based upon a transition to an era of divinely inspired peace.
 In Christian theology, this concept is often referred to as The Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the establishment of Paradise by The Kingdom of God on Earth.

 Though he lived before Darwin, Newton was not unacquainted with the atheistic evolutionary theory on origins. He was convinced against it and wrote: Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and every where, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being, necessarily existing It is the perfection of God's works that they are all done with the greatest simplicity. He is the God of order and not of confusion.

 Newton, commenting on the complexity of the human eye, also said: “Did blind chance know that there was light and what was its refraction and fit the eyes of all creatures after the most curious manner to make use of it? These and such like considerations always have and ever will prevail with mankind to believe that there is a Being who made all things and has all things in His power and who is therefore to be feared.”
 God is.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Why I Would Never Force my Kids to go to Church -- by Ruth Meyer

My parents forced me to eat three times a day growing up. No joke. Three times. Every. Single. Day. And it wasn’t always stuff I liked, either. Matter of fact, I complained a lot about what my mom made. “Ewww, gross! Sauteed zucchini? Seriously? Mom, you know we hate this stuff!” So as I approached adulthood I made an important decision. Since my parents forced me to eat while I was growing up, I decided I was done with meals. Oh, here and there I’ll eat out of obligation. I mean, family traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah, I’m there. But daily eating? No way. I’m done. Set in any other context, excuses people make for not going to church sound completely ridiculous. But set in the context of Christianity, people say these things in all seriousness while others nod sagely in somber agreement. My son told me a few weeks into school that he didn’t like the teacher. He wasn’t getting excited enough about learning, and he didn’t really feel connected to the other kids in his class, so I told him he never had to go back to school again. Who wants to waste their time going somewhere where they aren’t being fulfilled? We’ve never forced our daughter to stay off the road when playing. We don’t want to restrict her imagination. We allow her the freedom to make her own choices in life. Okay, Ruth. Come on. That one was just ridiculous. No loving parent would ever say that. That’s a safety issue- a matter of life and death. Exactly. And that’s just my point. Church isn’t a place you go to get pumped up about life. It isn’t entertainment like a movie or concert. It is literally a life and death matter. Eternal life. Just as a loving parent wouldn’t allow their child to wander in the road or to quit school, a loving Christian parent also does not give the option to their children about going to church, learning Bible stories at home, and praying together. Do your kids always jump for joy when they hear you say, “Time to get up! Let’s get ready for church!” No. They won’t. Do they get excited for school every morning? Hardly. But you still make them go. Why? Because you are the parent and you know what’s best. Even when they complain, you serve them healthful meals and limit their junk food intake. You set boundaries for their own safety when playing outside. You insist they go to school because you’re looking at the long term picture. And you are right to do those things. How much more so are you responsible for doing all you can to secure their eternal well being? Yes, kids can be brought up in a loving Christian home and still turn away later. That’s on them. But you, parents, have a task of the utmost importance. God has placed these precious children into your homes for such a brief while. You have them with you for perhaps 1/5 of their lives. Set a strong foundation while they are under your roof. Take them to church. Make sure they understand that they are sinners and that Jesus is their Savior. They are never too young to learn this. My one-and-a-half year old sees a cross and excitedly shouts, “Jesus!” Don’t use the excuse that “they wouldn’t understand this.” Try them. I don’t understand it all myself, but I still believe. And you’d better believe that the Holy Spirit works in their hearts effectively. My children sometime amaze me with the insights they pick up during devotions or Bible readings. The strength of their faith often humbles me. Once when I was having a terrible day, my oldest asked, “Can I pray with you?” He was nine at the time. He knows there is power in prayer. He perceives that sometimes there’s nothing he can say that will make it better, so he’ll just go straight to the One who does have that power. Do my own kids complain about church? Yes. Do they tell me it’s boring? Sometimes, yes. They say the same things about school. But church and school are different environments for a reason. School is centered around learning and thus has its own schedule and structure. Church is a hospital for sinners. That would be all of us, mind you. You, me, the drug dealer a few streets away- all of us are sinners in need of a Savior. So what do we do at church? We confess our sins. Why do we do this at the start? To “wipe our feet” before entering God’s house, so to speak. Then we are assured of forgiveness. We hear God’s Word. We sing hymns proclaiming what Christ has done for us. We hear sermons where our pastors preach Christ. We don’t go to church to hear what we have to do to gain heaven. No, Christ did it all. 100%. We can’t do one thing to merit salvation for ourselves. That’s why we hear sermons about Jesus and not about us. We take the body and blood of Jesus in Holy Communion for the strength of our souls. And we depart refreshed to serve God by serving our families, friends, and neighbors in Christian love. So parents, don’t give in to outside pressures telling you not to force your kids to go to church. Don’t give in to them, either, when they complain about it. Because at some point an amazing thing happens- that kid who complains about church grows up and takes his or her own kids to church every Sunday. Going back to my opening analogy, believe it or not, there came a point in my own life where I realized I actually liked sauteed zucchini (although I never would have admitted that to my mother). Keep at it, parents. Just as we need three meals a day for physical strength and nourishment, so do we need regular worship to refresh and strengthen our souls. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go make breakfast.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Syria: In the News and In the Bible

In Syria, a fierce civil war between President Bashar al-Assad's supporters and rebel forces seeking his ouster has taken the lives of more than 100,000 people over the last two years, and Christians have been speculating over the fulfilment of Isaiah 17 on their blogs and websites. The speculations have grown since the Syrian regime allegedly used chemical weapons in an attack in a Damascus suburb on Aug. 21, killing 1,429 people, including at least 426 children. The attack led to Obama's plan to bomb Syria as punishment. Jan Markell, founder and director of Minnesota-based Olive Tree Ministries said the chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime brings to her mind Isaiah 17. "If one Israeli dies from chemicals coming from Syria, Israel is going to take the issue into her own hands," she was quoted as saying. "She would do some real destruction to the city of Damascus. Israel will send a huge message to the rest of the Islamic world [that] this is what happens when you mess with us." Syria is almost a 'city-state' with much of its population living in and around the city of Damascus. Some historians and archaeologists believe Damascus may be the oldest continually inhabited city in the world and there is no record in ancient history of it ever being fully destroyed. Syria is also the home of many Islamic terrorist groups and its army invaded and has occupied Lebanon for almost 30 years. Currently, Syria (with Iran) is supporting the Hizbullah in southern Lebanon against Israel. Syria, like the rest of Israel's Islamic neighbors hate Israel, have invaded and attacked Israel on several occasions, and have publicly called for the destruction of Israel. It is interesting to note that a number of years ago an Israeli general, on commenting on the growing threat of Syria, said the easiest thing to do to protect Israel from Syria would be to drop a nuclear bomb on Damascus . . . Damascus, Syria will someday be completely destroyed and become a "ruinous heap" . . . "The burden of Damascus. BEHOLD, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap" (This prophecy has not yet been fulfilled ... but it will be fulfilled) (Isaiah 17:1) The Bible warns it will also be a time of trouble for Israel . . . "And in that day (usually refers to the coming 'Apocalypse') it shall come to pass, (when God's Word says "it shall come to pass" it always happens.) the glory of Jacob (Israel) shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean." (Isaiah 17:4) The Syrian region was also second only to Jerusalem in importance for Christianity’s initial growth. The church in Antioch of Syria—a city 60 miles west of Aleppo, just past today’s Syrian border into modern-day Turkey—became a refuge for early Christians fleeing persecution in Jerusalem after Stephen, the first martyr of Christianity, was stoned to death. Paul made Antioch his headquarters for his famous missionary journeys when he founded churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth and Ephesus. Some scholars believe that Antioch was where the Gospel of Matthew was written, and the book of Acts notes that Antioch was the first place where the disciples were called ‘Christians.’ The second coming of Jesus is linked with the city of Damascus in both Christian and Muslim scripture, and some are interpreting those verses as an indication that the current Syria conflict points to the imminent return of Christ. The rest of Isaiah 17 elaborates upon the coming destruction, which some interpret as Armageddon, heralding the return of Christ. The second coming aside, many Christian websites have been speculating about whether the Syria conflict was prophesied in the Bible. Some scholars believe that this prophecy was fulfilled in 732 BC when Assyrians destroyed the city, while others are convinced that it is an "end times event yet come to pass," according to the Christian Post. Muslims also believe in the second coming of Jesus, which is mentioned in Surat An-Nisa, which says: And there is none from the People of the Scripture but that he will surely believe in Jesus before his death. And on the Day of Resurrection he will be against them a witness. (Sahih International translation) More specifically, these Muslims quote a hadith that relates to Damascus and Jesus' second coming. Sahih Muslim Book 41, Hadith 7015 says: ...Allah would send Christ, son of Mary, and he will descend at the white minaret in the eastern side of Damascus wearing two garments lightly dyed with saffron and placing his hands on the wings of two Angels. However, in the Muslim tradition, Jesus descends before the destruction happens. Imam Abdullah Antepli, the Muslim chaplain at Duke University and founder of the Muslim Chaplains Association, explaines that "there are two schools of thought within Islam regarding prophecies. Some Muslims understand prophecy as written in the Quran and hadith as literal, but the majority of Muslims have never taken prophetic predictions in the literal sense." With regards to the second coming of Christ, Antepli commented, "As a Muslim Imam, to me the second coming of Jesus represents a coming peace between Muslims and Christians to establish a kingdom of peace and justice on the earth." A literal coming of Christ is not necessary for this to occur. David Lose of Luther Seminary, author of "Making Sense of Scripture," also weighed in about the problems with literally interpreting prophetic verses, "Some read almost any prophetic utterances as blueprints about the future, rather than as metaphors meant to inspire hope and offer comfort in the present. If that's your lens, then the Bible is full of clues through which to read current events." Lose suggests that the reason that some are driven to interpret the Bible in that way is because "it gives them a sense of security to have a way of figuring out the time-table for the end of days." Twitter users have been speculating about the links between the end of days prophecies and the Syria conflict for a while, citing both Christian and Muslim traditions. “President Barack Obama announced on Saturday that he has decided to strike the Syrian military in retaliation for its nerve gas attack on civilians — but that he’ll wait for Congressional authorization before launching an attack. ‘I’m ready to act in the face of this outrage,’ he said. ‘Today, I’m asking Congress to send a message to the rest of the world that we are ready to move together.’ ‘I have the authority to carry out this military action … [and] I know the country will be stronger if we take this course and our actions will be more effective’ if it is approved by Congress, he said in a short statement delivered in the White House’s Rose Garden.” Despite uneasiness among the conservatives in the House of Representatives over whether to support military action in Syria, both Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Eric Cantor endorsed on Tuesday President Obama’s call for bombing the country. “I am going to support the president’s call for action,” Boehner said Tuesday after a White House meeting with the president and congressional leaders. “I believe my colleagues should support this call for action.” Cantor also released a statement on Tuesday saying he supports Obama’s call for military intervention. “I intend to vote to provide the President of the United States the option to use military force in Syria,” he said. “While the authorizing language will likely change, the underlying reality will not. America has a compelling national security interest to prevent and respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction, especially by a terrorist state such as Syria, and to prevent further instability in a region of vital interest to the United States.” With these statements, Boehner and Cantor will likely find themselves at disagreement with the more conservative wing of the House Republican Conference. Some conservative lawmakers are reporting that their constituents are strongly against any intervention. Regardless where we stand on attacking Syria; it's time to pay attention to what's going on and let our friends and neighbors realize how this fits into End-time Bible Prophecy. Thanks to multiple online sources for the info posted.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani

My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani
 Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22 Matthew 27:46
About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani,”—which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These words that Jesus cried out as he was hanging on the Cross have been a source of much confusion and debate among Christians through the years. Some teach that Jesus became sin, God cannot look on sin, and thus God forsook His Son. Others, citing the following verses, say that God did not forsake His Son when he needed Him the most: John 10:30
“I and my Father are one.” John 16:32
“You [disciples] will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” 2 Corinthians 5:19
“To wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.” By His very nature, our heavenly Father could not turn away from His only begotten Son, especially at the moment for which God has been preparing him all of his life. Jesus Christ was the crux of history, the one on whose shoulders the salvation of mankind was riding, the one who trusted his Father step by step all the way to this defining moment of His-story. And then God forsook him? That just doesn't make sense. More importantly, it is not what the Bible says. Many Bible commentators and teachers have promoted the idea that Jesus became sin for us and therefore the holy God had to forsake him because God cannot stand sin. This idea comes from 2 Corinthians 5:21, which in the NIV reads, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God." But an accompanying note indicates that another way to translate the phrase "be sin for us” is “be a sin offering." The NIV translators recognized that because of the semantic range of the Greek word for "sin," hamartia, it can be used (by the figure of speech Metonymy) to mean "a sin offering." Thus, they translate hamartia in Romans 8:3 as follows: "For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering." Hebrews 10:5 and 6 are especially relevant: "Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased’” (See also 6:8 and 13:11). These verses show that the Old Testament sin offerings, the best God could do for His people at that time, simply pointed to the coming of the only one who could sacrifice his own body as a once-and-for-all sin offering. [For further study read How can a man atone for the sins of mankind?] Scripture is all about the great truth that by his genetic perfection (God's choice via his virgin birth) and behavioral perfection (his choice to always obey God), Jesus, the Lamb of God, was the perfect offering (sacrifice) for all the sin (nature) and sins (behavior) of mankind. The righteousness Jesus “earned” paid the price for all men's sins and made possible the "gift" of righteousness (Rom. 5:17) to all who believe in his work on their behalf. It is significant that the first Adam did sin—royally—and yet God did not forsake him. Cain sinned, and God did not forsake him either. The truth is that God has never forsaken His people because of their sin, so why would He do so with His own Son? There is no way (and no verse saying) that God forsook the Last Adam after he had walked a perfect walk all the way to the Cross. There is another piece of evidence showing that God did not forsake Jesus in his final hours, and it has to do with the prophecy (see Exod. 12:46; Num. 9:12; Ps. 34:20) quoted in the following verse, which comes right after the record of the Roman soldiers breaking the legs of the others crucified with Jesus, but not breaking his because he was already dead: John 19:36
These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken." Think about the beating and torture that Jesus endured. And think about the fact that spikes were pounded into his hands and feet, each of which contains many bones. How was it possible that not one bone was broken? We assert that it was as if God drew a line in the sand and said, "No more than that!" That prophetic promise must have given Jesus assurance as he went through his horrible ordeal. He knew that his Father was right there with him, and God's keeping that promise was a forerunner of His greater promise to raise Jesus from the dead. [For further study read The Last Week of Christ’s Life.] If God forsook Jesus on the cross because he became sin, what will God do when you and I sin? He would have to turn His face away from our sin, and from us, but that is not how our heavenly Father is, nor what He does. When Jesus was arrested, and Peter pulled out his knife to fight the soldiers, what did Jesus say? “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:53). It appears that Jesus and His Father were quite close, and that Jesus was counting on God to be there for him with whatever he needed. And so, when we read Matthew 27:46—“Why have you forsaken me?”—we must ask ourselves if we really understand what Jesus said and why. Without going into depth about the Aramaic words Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, suffice it to say that Eloi means “My God,” lama means “why,” and the root word shabak, while usually translated “forsake,” is also translated “kept” or “reserved.” Thus, the context is important to determine its meaning. We assert that Jesus was quoting from Psalm 22, verse 1, not in a cry of despair at being forsaken by God, but rather a cry of proclamation to those Jews gathered at Golgotha that what was taking place before their eyes was the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy, and that he really was who he said he was. As for the idea that Jesus believed that God had forsaken him and thus cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” one problem is that verse 24 of Psalm 22 specifically says that God would not forsake the suffering Messiah. But before we go to Psalm 22, let us consider two other verses regarding the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy in the crucifixion of Jesus: John l9:24b
“This happened that the Scripture might be fulfilled which said, “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Matthew 27:41-43
(41) In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him.
(42) “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.
(43) He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God." Keep that in mind that Jesus repeatedly referred to Old Testament prophecies to substantiate that he was the Messiah to Israel, and, if you want to follow along in your own Bible, look at Psalm 22. As you picture the scene at Golgotha, remember that Jesus had been beaten and tortured for about 40 hours prior to his death, and that he was covered with blood. Besides Mary, Jesus' mother, and others close to him, no doubt many of those gathered around were people Jesus had healed, people who believed, or at least hoped, that he was the promised Messiah. What did that horrible sight on the center cross do? It assaulted their faith. Don't you think that what they saw happening to their hero might have caused them to doubt whether or not all Jesus had said was true? And so, as his manner was, Jesus Christ reached for their hearts with God's Word. He did so by quoting a section that they all knew, one that vividly sets forth that which was vividly being enacted right in front of their eyes. With some of his last breaths, he spoke the Word. He spoke to comfort those who believed on him, and at the same time gave those who did not believe, including those who were crucifying him, one more opportunity to believe that he was who he said he was—the Son of God, the Messiah. Have you ever heard of the twenty-third Psalm—maybe even before you were a Christian? Did you ever memorize a part, or all, of it? Would you agree that the twenty-third Psalm is one of the most famous sections of the Bible? You know, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want." And we're in the twenty-first century. What about 28 A.D.—in Jerusalem? Do you think the Israelites, to whom the Psalms were written, might have known it? Have you ever wondered why Psalm 23 is so well known, but not Psalm 79, for example, or 32 or 57? One of the reasons is that Psalms 22, 23 and 24 form what you might call a “Messianic Trilogy,” one that virtually every Israelite knew by heart. Keep that in mind as we look at Psalm 22. Old Testament prophecy often had both a current and future application, and here we are concerned with the future application of what is written in Psalm 22. As we read it, we will see why Jesus said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Later, in John 19:30, he said, "It is finished." And what we will see is that Jesus quoted the very first phrase in Psalm 22—and the very last phrase, which, properly translated, should read, “…it is finished.” Have you ever been listening to the radio and heard even one line from an old song that is one of your favorites? Doesn’t the whole song run through your head? Sure, because it is in your memory. Maybe you even start singing it. Well, Jesus quoted the beginning and the ending of one of the most famous, most well known, and most memorized sections of all of the Old Testament, one that vividly set forth what was taking place right in front of their eyes. No doubt for many of them who had ears to hear, the verses we are about to read flashed through their minds. Psalm 22:1
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? As we read on, we will see that these are basically rhetorical questions, because after verse 18 the theme of the psalm changes radically from death unto life. But to many standing around at the scene, their attention riveted by the horror of it all, it certainly appeared as if God had forsaken this man who had claimed to be His Son. Psalm 22:2-5
(2) Oh my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, and am not silent.
(3) Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.
(4) In you our fathers put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.
(5) They cried to you and were saved; in you they trusted and were not disappointed. To whom did Jesus come? Israel. To whom was this Psalm written? Israel. Look how he is reminding them of their spiritual heritage, which included the Messiah. Psalm 22:6
But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. The word “worm” here is very interesting; it is the Hebrew word tola, which is not the ordinary word for worm. Rather, this was a worm from which crimson or scarlet dye was obtained. Why is this word used? Because Jesus was covered with blood, and was the color of scarlet dye. Psalm 22:7 and 8
(7) All they that see me, they mock me. They hurl insults shaking their heads saying,
(8) "He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him." Didn't we read something like that in Matthew 27:41-43? Yes, that very prophecy was unfolding right in front of their eyes, and Jesus was trying to call their attention to it. Psalm 22:9-11
(9) Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust in you even at my mother's breast.
(10) From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother's womb you have been my God.
(11) Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Remember? "All of you are going to leave me," Jesus said. Psalm 22:12
Many bulls surrounded me; strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. “Bashan”? What does that mean? If you look it up you will find that Bashan was the chief cattle-raising area of Israel where the biggest, best, strongest bulls came from. Figuratively, Jesus is referring to the religious “top brass” of Israel. It was the Pharisees who had inspired, cajoled, and manipulated the Romans to pound the nails. As such, they were the ones responsible for Jesus' death. Psalm 22:13-15
(13) Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.
(14) I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me.
(15) My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. Using metaphorical language, these verses clearly describe a person dying. “All my bones”—we say things like that: “Every bone in my body is tired.” That doesn't mean all 216 or however many there are. It is a figure of speech. In regard to Jesus, crucifixion dislocated a number of his bones, and no doubt it felt like all of them. His heart, the most critical organ in his body, “turned to wax.” A “potsherd” was an old piece of pottery dried by the sun—Jesus’ strength had ebbed away. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth—from the cross he said, “I thirst.” Psalm 22:16-18
(16) Dogs have surrounded me, a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
(17) I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
(18) They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing. When the Romans crucified someone, they formed a cordon of soldiers around the cross to keep the people away. And the Jews referred to uncircumcised people like the Romans as “dogs.” “I can count all my bones.” That's another figure of speech meaning that in his many beatings and floggings, Jesus’ skin had been flayed to the bone. People spit on him, taunted him, and gloated over him. “They divide my garments among and cast lots for my clothing.” This could not more clearly describe what later happened at Golgotha in fulfillment of this prophecy. And it is at this point that the thrust of Psalm 22 begins to shift from death unto life. Psalm 22:19-21
(19) But you, O LORD, be not far off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
(20) Deliver my life from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dogs.
(21) Rescue me from the mouth of the lions; save me from the horns of the wild oxen. The Messiah calls upon his God, Yahweh, to save him. How? Not by taking him off the cross, but by raising him from the dead in accordance with other Old Testament prophecy. Look at these next verses: Psalm 22:22 and 23
(22) I will [in the future] declare your name to the brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.
(23) You who fear the Lord, praise him. All you descendants of Jacob, honor him! Revere him, all you descendants of Israel! How is the Messiah going to praise God in the future when it is clear that he was to die? Only if God keeps His Word and raises him from the dead. And the next verse indicates that God had not forsaken him and would do just that! Psalm 22:24
For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help. And this magnificent psalm, a vivid portrait of the death and resurrection of the man we now know as Jesus, the Messiah, ends with a crescendo of praise and promise pointing to some of the Millennial Kingdom blessings for God’s people: Psalm 22:25-31
(25) From you comes my praise in the great assembly; before those who fear you I fulfill my vows.
(26) The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the Lord will praise him—may your hearts live forever!
(27) All the ends of the earth will remember and will turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,
(28) for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations.
(29) All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—those who cannot keep themselves alive.
(30) Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.
(31) They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn—for he has done it. The last clause of verse 31 should be translated a bit differently. In the KJV you can see that the word “it” is in italics, indicating that the translators added it. The pronoun “he” should be “it,” so that the psalm closes with the words, "for it is finished." Jesus Christ knew that, and in the final agonizing moments of his life had the presence of mind and the love for all men, including those who were killing him, to once again hold forth to them the Word of Life. He quoted the very first clause and the very last clause of a section of Scripture that they knew very, very well. With his dying breaths he affirmed one more time that he was who the Word of God said he was—the Messiah, the Son of the living God, the Redeemer of Israel and all who in the future would believe on him. What a man! What a Savior! No, God did not forsake His Son, and He proved it three days and three nights later when He raised him from the dead. What a mighty God we have! Let us walk in Christ’s resurrection power and make known his life to a dying world. Amen. BY John Schoenheit

Monday, February 11, 2013

Where are the Pillars?

Where are the Pillars? Gen. 28:10And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. 11And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. [Jacob is running from his brother, Esau, who has threatened to kill him. Jacob is exhausted and stops at this place in the wilderness to sleep. He took some stones and made a pillow on which to sleep.] 12And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; 14And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Jacob has an incredible moment and a clear, powerful vision which is followed by a tremendous promise from God. After he saw this VISION and received his promise he did something that would change his life forever 17And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. 18And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. [Gen. 28:17-19] He made his pillow into a pillar He turned what he was comfortable with into a consecrated place The fact is that this was a sacred place. Jacob took the stones from his pillow, designed it into a pillar and poured oil on it which now made it a consecrated place. It is time that we get off our pillows and out of our places of comfort and become pillars in the church Connection Worship Center needs pillars Your family needs pillars PEVELY needs pillars Your co-workers need pillars Every time (Jacob) saw that pillar, he thought of God’s promise. At this very same place where a pillow became a pillar God changed Jacob’s name to Israel. It's not just the Pastor's job to be a pillar Its not just the leaderships job to be a pillar It's our job to be a pillar For the same God who worked through Peter as the apostle to the Jews also worked through me as the apostle to the Gentiles. In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. (Galatians 2:8, 9 NLT) Being a pillar did not mean they ran the show and everything was done their way and the where the only pillar It did mean that they were men whose presence strengthened the church, their faith encouraged others, their knowledge of scripture gave others direction, their walk with God was looked up to as an example for all to follow, their spiritual sensitivity respected. As pillars their presence held things together and kept it going in the right direction It is time to step up and become a pillar in this church and in the last day revival 2 Chron.3:1Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared in the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. [The beginning of the temple; the work begins. This chapter tells the time and place of the construction. The dimensions and very elaborate ornamentation are described. It is to be a very splendid work to behold with all the ornamentation, the gold, bronze. 10And the most holy house he made two cherubims of image work, and overlaid them with gold. [The author describes these gigantic works, each with a 15-ft. wingspan. They literally spanned the entire width of the holy place. 14And he made the veil of blue, and purple, and crimson, and fine linen, and wrought cherubims thereon. 15Also he made before the house two pillars of thirty and five cubits high, and the chapiter that was on the top of each of them was five cubits. 16And he made chains, as in the oracle, and put them on the heads of the pillars; and made an hundred pomegranates, and put them on the chains. 17And he reared up the pillars before the temple, on the right hand, and the other on the left; and called the name of that on the right hand Jachin, and the name of that on the left Boaz. 2 Chron. 3:1,10,14-17] Flanking the entrance to the temple were two gigantic brass pillars (35 cubits = 50 feet) that Solomon had erected. These pillars were made of brass of the highest quality and they stood on stone footings and were topped by colossal capitals. The account in 1 Kings, chapter 7, indicates they were some 18-ft. in circumference and stood before the house of God. The account in 1 Kings, chapter 7, says they stood in the porch of the temple. A review of the accounts in both Chronicles and Kings reveals that Solomon named the two pillars. He named these pillars just as one today might name an automobile or boat. One pillar Solomon called Boaz, who was David’s great-grandfather. [It was Boaz who married Ruth and their son was Obed. Obed’s son was Jesse who was the father of David and grandfather of Solomon.] The name of the other pillar was called Jachin who is much less known today but was well known in the days of Solomon. Jachin was the head of the twenty-first division of priests and ministered at his post during David’s reign. He may have very well been dead by this time. One view is that Jachin was the first High Priest of the temple. What is known however, is that he was an individual of some quality or importance to merit having a pillar in the temple named for him. He was a man of great renown, great faith, great quality and integrity. Jachin had a reputation for truthfulness, godliness, integrity, stability and character. A pillar can be either a foundation or support to hold something up or it can be a memorial. Solomon names the two pillars Boaz and Jachin, godly leaders whose names actually meant something of significance. Boaz in Hebrew means strength or God is strength; Jachin means established. These pillars served as a memorial to Israel every time the people went to the temple. To look upon the pillars was a memorial to God’s strength and His promise of enablement. God promised to enable His people to endure and for as long as the people served Him, He promised that the temple would endure. The Purpose of a Pillar Load Bearing or Decoration? Today as in ancient times, pillars served multiple purposes. They could simply be ornamental monuments or they could be functional, i.e., designed to hold up or support something. Pillars in ancient times were integral to the support of buildings as the Bible indicates in the account of Samson pulling down the temple of Dagon. [The mainstay of the building was the pillars that Samson used to bring down the entire edifice.] Pillars Defined: a long, slender, vertical structure used to support a superstructure; column; a person who is a main support of an institution, movement, etc. Pillars in the church should be reliable. Pillars aren’t Christians one day and heathen the next; they don’t vary. Pillars are constant, reliable, trustworthy, solid, stable and faithful Jesus said that He would build His church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it The cross Heaven --- Church “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true,the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. “Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name. (Revelation 3:7-12 NLT) When Sir Christopher Wren--architect for the rebuilding of London following the great fire of 1666--designed the inside of Windsor's Town Hall, his ceiling was supported by pillars. The building inspectors decided the pillars were insufficient, however, and Wren should add more. He protested, but to no avail. Therefore, Sir Christopher had the workers install four more pillars inside the hall, identical to the others but with one exception: these did not touch the ceiling. They only looked as though they did. The inspectors were fooled, and the four fake pillars still stand to this day. (Bartlett's Book of Anecdotes; Little, Brown and Company, 2000. p. 583) Sermon preached at CWC by Mark Tipton

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The priests were not able to continue ministering

And because of the cloud, the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the LORD filled God's temple. 2 Chron. 5:14 What brings this kind of presence? How do we get to that point where His Glory fills the temple? I believe there are two things that are needed to be done with excellence and reverence. Corporate Worship In our weekly services we seek to glorify and exalt the name of Jesus Christ, lead people to recognize his worth and celebrate His sacrifice, and prepare hearts to hear from God through the preaching of the his Word. We seek to accomplish this with an emphasis on excellence, creativity and authenticity, for we know God is worthy of our very best. We seek to worship God in spirit and in truth. Therefore we are careful to examine our worship elements in light of Scriptural truth, while also seeking to engage the heart and spirit. Personal Worship Worship is about connecting and communicating with God, and attributing worth to him. Our goal is to become worshipers, not just on Sundays, but every day of the week. Through quiet times, reading God's Word, family worship times and personal creative expressions that give God glory for who he is, we seek to become true worshipers. Sundays are a collective outpouring of what we practice during the week. Jerry Bridges writes, "The vitality and genuineness of corporate worship is to a large degree dependent upon the vitality of our individual private worship. If we aren't spending time daily worshiping God, we're not apt to contribute to the corporate experience of worship. If we aren't worshiping God during the week, how can we expect to genuinely participate in it on Sunday? We may indeed go through the motions and think we have worshiped, but how can we honor and adore One on Sunday whom we have not taken time to praise and give thanks to during the week?? If worship is giving all of ourselves to God, then everything we do is potentially an act of worship. So how we live our lives is how we praise God. Everything we do is worship when we do it for Him, displaying His face as we go. The question is not IF you worship, but WHAT you worship. Your calling is to turn your place in life into a place of true worship. To do whatever you do in a way that will reflect God's heart to those around you. It's to worship "as you live your life." Thanks to SCBC

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Leading Like Jesus

Who comes to mind when you think of the word “leader”? People with higher salaries and assistants and more authority and influence than you? Power suits who fly first-class? People who are respected and who are listened to? People other than you? Check out the examples that Jesus gave us: Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. John 13: 14-16 The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23: 11-12 It’s easy to slip into a place of comfort as students and think we're above serving, or to think that someone else will get it done. We think we don't have enough time or money to do the things we picture ourselves doing to serve others in Jesus' name. During those times, God has a way of reminding me through others that serving is the most powerful way to lead—I’ll see my senior pastor being the last one to leave after a long event, a worship leader helping with tear-down, or a volunteer sitting and praying with someone. These are true acts of humble leadership, motivated out of a desire to help others and love genuinely. In God’s economy, leadership and servanthood are synonymous. People who are power-hungry and authority-obsessed might think twice about becoming God’s definition of a leader, because it wouldn’t sound too exciting to them, would it? It might mean serving when it’s not fun or convenient. It might mean sacrificing something precious to you, like your reputation or time. It might mean doing something menial and “beneath” you, like picking up trash or staying late to stack chairs, or…washing other people’s filthy, smelly feet. Jesus set the example of how to lead…by serving. And the leader that he is calling us to be will require things of us. When you help someone out, don't think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. Matthew 6: 3-4 So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God. –Philippians 2: 1-11. Servant leadership isn’t restricted to interns or volunteers, part-time or full-time staff, secretaries or senior pastors. It's not limited by our age, or resources. It's only limited by our reluctance, our pride, our doubt. Regardless of where we are, what position or title we have, we need to choose to have an “others first” mentality and value others above ourselves; it is with this attitude that we can serve humbly, without seeking reward or recognition, and “make Jesus Christ attractive to all.” God, help us serve in a way that others might experience your heart. Not to us, but to Your name be the glory… - Radicalis