January 31, 2011
January 31, 2011
Check out Jonathan’s post entitled “It’s easier to mimic community than have community.” Jonathan writes:
I believe my thinking is supported by the reality that it’s easier to have a Facebook community than a ‘in the flesh’ community. Why? My guess is that digital communities are easier to control. You can cut in or cut out of the community with the press of a button. You can hide fear, joy, anxiety, disapproval–and so much more–since your face isn’t seen and your voice isn’t heard (I’m sorry, but emoticons like , , and don’t cut it). In short, it’s easier to mimic a deep rooted community than be a deep rooted community.
January 31, 2011
“Acquaintance with up-to-date systematic work on the nature of language seems an indispensable foundation for proper exegesis. It could hardly occur to a serious student to make historical judgments without reference to the latest and most reliable archeological publications” (Silva, Biblical Words and Their Meanings, 10).
January 29, 2011
I have the privilege of delivering the sermon tomorrow morning when the church assembles. When I was instructed to speak from any passage I wanted, I knew I would choose something in Hebrews. After much deliberation I landed on Hebrews 12:18-29, “For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched. . . .” This passage has provided some real challenges in study, some of which include:
-Why does v. 18 begin with “for”? What is the connection with the preceding sentences?
-How does the author interpret Haggai 2:6 in v. 26?
-What about the textual variants in v. 28? I take echo as a subjunctive, but latruo as an indicative, contrary to NA (of course, none of this jargon will be mentioned tomorrow morning).
-How should one translate charis in v 28, as thanks or grace? I lean towards “grace” — a seeming inclusio with v. 15, and fitting extremely well with the author’s usage elsewhere (4:16; 13:25).
-How does this paragraph relate with the argument of the whole book, and especially with the passage begun in ch. 10?
If you’re interested, the message will be posted online, and you can listen to it HERE. I recommend, however, that you listen to Jonathan’s sermon from the week before entitled “strong and courageous.” You will not hear a better message on boldness, seriously!
January 28, 2011
The apostle Paul set an example in so many ways: as a missionary, an evangelist, a theologian, and, though we often overlook these aspects of his ministry, as a prayer warrior, a hard worker, and a big-hearted, joyful individual. Paul was a man in motion. He could confidently say in his letter to the Corinthians, “I worked harder than all the other Apostles” (1 Co 15). To the Thessalonians he wrote, “Night and day I worked when I was with you so that I would not be a burden to you.” Come on, Paul, Night and Day? when did you find time to preach and minister?
But today especially I’m struck by his example of prayer. One can hardly read a paragraph from his Epistles without encountering some mention of prayer. Isn’t it amazing that he could write to numerous churches and tell each of them, “I’m constantly remembering you in my prayers!” I think it’s safe to assume that if you and I had known Paul, he would have been praying for us as well, and he would have made it a point to tell us so. He seems to leave no relationship, no circumstance, unmentioned in prayer.
And this is what astonishes me the most. Paul, the worker, the busy minister, prayed. Prayed all the time. In doing so, he was not unlike Jesus who often withdrew to lonely places to pray, and spent many a night in prayer. Is my attitude the same in prayer? I’m simply asking God to make prayer a priority in my life, not an after-thought.
January 27, 2011
“As you grow up you begin to realize that some family trees bear an enormous crop of nuts!” – unknown (And yes, I did just unashamedly copy this quote from someone’s facebook status). It’s so true, there’s no such thing as a normal family!
January 27, 2011
A lot of important things are going on for me this semester:
1. I am investigating Universities in Germany and the U.K. to discern where to pursue a doctorate
2. I will be making some trips to visit these schools, and then submitting applications
3. I hope to submit a formal prospectus in order to get approval on the thesis I’m writing
4. I hope to write another chapter of my thesis
5. I’m only taking one class so that I can have some more free time to work on these matters
To be honest, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by this. Just the process of looking at schools is dizzying; your prayers are appreciated. I’m taking great comfort from the words of Proverbs, “The Lord directs your steps.” I praying that he direct my steps through the whole process.
January 24, 2011
18 Unlike Israel, you have not come to a mountain that can be touched, that has been scorched by fire, to gloom and doom and a raging tempest, 19 to blasting trumpets and to audible words, such that those who heard them begged to be excused from having to listen any further. 20 They were too terrified by the command “If even an animal touches this mountain, stone it!” 21 The sight was so dreadful that Moses said, “I’m so scared my whole body is quivering.”
22 No, you all have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem, to angels beyond number all in joyful celebration, 23 And to the church of the First Born Son, whose names are engraved in heaven, and to God the judge of all humankind, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24 and to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to blood sprinkling that speaks a better word than Abel’s (which remember, still speaks).
25 So make sure that you don’t ask to be excused from the one speaking, for if the Israelites could not get by when they excused themselves from the one commanding them, then how much more will you be held accountable for turning from him who speaks from heaven. 26 That voice shook the earth, but now God promises,
I’m going to really shake things up again,
not only the earth, but also the heavens.
27 This verses signifies the transformation of the things that can be shaken, so that what is unshakeable will remain. 28 Therefore, since we are heirs of an unshakeable kingdom, let’s always be thankful, offering the thankfulness through which we continually serve God in a way that pleases Him, full of devotion and profound respect. 29 For, without question, our God is a raging fire.
18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”
22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”
18-21 Unlike your ancestors, you didn’t come to Mount Sinai—all that volcanic blaze and earthshaking rumble—to hear God speak. The earsplitting words and soul-shaking message terrified them and they begged him to stop. When they heard the words—”If an animal touches the Mountain, it’s as good as dead”—they were afraid to move. Even Moses was terrified.
22-24 No, that’s not your experience at all. You’ve come to Mount Zion, the city where the living God resides. The invisible Jerusalem is populated by throngs of festive angels and Christian citizens. It is the city where God is Judge, with judgments that make us just. You’ve come to Jesus, who presents us with a new covenant, a fresh charter from God. He is the Mediator of this covenant. The murder of Jesus, unlike Abel’s—a homicide that cried out for vengeance—became a proclamation of grace.
25-27 So don’t turn a deaf ear to these gracious words. If those who ignored earthly warnings didn’t get away with it, what will happen to us if we turn our backs on heavenly warnings? His voice that time shook the earth to its foundations; this time—he’s told us this quite plainly—he’ll also rock the heavens: “One last shaking, from top to bottom, stem to stern.” The phrase “one last shaking” means a thorough housecleaning, getting rid of all the historical and religious junk so that the unshakable essentials stand clear and uncluttered.
28-29 Do you see what we’ve got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful, but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. He’s actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won’t quit until it’s all cleansed. God himself is Fire!
January 24, 2011
January 24, 2011
(If you’re wondering why I am translating these verse out-of-order, it is because our baby was born the week I was going to teach this passage in class at church. When I returned to teaching, the class was on ch. 11, so I had to put these verses off in order to keep up with the schedule)
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have boldness to enter the most holy place by the blood of Jesus 20 (an entrance right through the inner veil available to all of you — made possible by his life and sacrifice) 21 and since we have a great priest in charge of God’s house, 22 Let’s draw near with sincere hearts and full of faith, which we can do since our hearts are purified from a wicked conscience and our bodies washed clean with purifying water.
23 Let’s keep clinging firmly and unswervingly to this hope we say we believe in, since the promise that backs up our hope is made by one who is faithful. 24 And let’s keep thinking of ways to inspire each other to love others and to do all sorts of good deeds, 25 which, of course, is impossible to do if you stop gathering together, as some have done. So, instead, keep challenging each other onward, and do so especially since you see that Christ is about to return!
26 There remains no other sacrifice for us who continue willfully sinning after grasping the full implications of Christ’s life and ministry, 27 but a dreadful anticipation of judgment and angry fire that swallows God’s adversaries. 28 Whoever put aside the law of Moses faced a pitiless death upon the testimony of only two or three witnesses. 29 How much more awful a punishment do those deserve who treat the son of God like a floor mat and consider the blood that sanctified them something ordinary, and even mock God’s grace. 30 We know who said,
Revenge is mine. I will definitely repay!
The Lord will judge his people
31 How horrendous it is to fall into the hands of the living God.
32 Remember how you suffered when you first came to the Lord, 33 how at times the world looked down on you for all the disgrace and trouble you endured, and then at other times how you stood alongside those being similarly treated. 34 To those in chains you acted as if you yourselves were in chains, and you rejoiced when people seized you possessions since you knew that there awaited better and lasting treasure for you. 35 Don’t throw your boldness in the dumpster as if it were worthless — boldness leads to valuable rewards! 36 What you need is endurance: after you do God’s will, then you receive the promise, 32 for
In a very, very brief moment
God will come without dilly-dallying.
Now, the righteous will live by faith;
if he turns back I will find no pleasure in him.
39 But we are not those who retreat and are destroyed, but belong to the people of faith in whom God delights.
19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
32 Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.
36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised. 37 For,
“In just a little while,
he who is coming will come
and will not delay.”
“But my righteous one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure
in the one who shrinks back.”
39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.
19-21So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body.22-25So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word. Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching. 26-31If we give up and turn our backs on all we’ve learned, all we’ve been given, all the truth we now know, we repudiate Christ’s sacrifice and are left on our own to face the Judgment—and a mighty fierce judgment it will be! If the penalty for breaking the law of Moses is physical death, what do you think will happen if you turn on God’s Son, spit on the sacrifice that made you whole, and insult this most gracious Spirit? This is no light matter. God has warned us that he’ll hold us to account and make us pay. He was quite explicit: “Vengeance is mine, and I won’t overlook a thing” and “God will judge his people.” Nobody’s getting by with anything, believe me. 32-39Remember those early days after you first saw the light? Those were the hard times! Kicked around in public, targets of every kind of abuse—some days it was you, other days your friends. If some friends went to prison, you stuck by them. If some enemies broke in and seized your goods, you let them go with a smile, knowing they couldn’t touch your real treasure. Nothing they did bothered you, nothing set you back. So don’t throw it all away now. You were sure of yourselves then. It’s still a sure thing! But you need to stick it out, staying with God’s plan so you’ll be there for the promised completion.
It won’t be long now, he’s on the way;
he’ll show up most any minute.
But anyone who is right with me thrives on loyal trust;
if he cuts and runs, I won’t be very happy.
But we’re not quitters who lose out. Oh, no! We’ll stay with it and survive, trusting all the way. (Hebrews 10:19-39, The Message)