Yes -Power Corrupts!

~ I made this last night and will comment on it later. Don’t have time now so I will just upload it.

 

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Pascalian Constraints ~ C. Stephen Evans

~ I just want to jot some notes from C. Stephen Evans’ book, Why Christian Faith Still Makes Sense: A Response to Contemporary Challenges. In this book, Evans describes two principles which he calls Pascalian Constraints. These constraints, which he refers to as the

(1) Wide Accessibility Principle

and the

(2) Easy Resistibility Principle

are what I note down below.

“If we assume that God exists and has created human persons so that they can enjoy a relationship with God, then it is surely reasonable to assume that a knowledge of God would be possible for humans and that the grounds of that knowledge of God would be generally accessible. One would not think that the knowledge of God would require great philosophical learning or scientific sophistication; it would be exceedingly odd if someone had to be a theoretical physicist or have a PhD in philosophy in order to come to know God. Rather one would expect that a knowledge of God would be generally available to ordinary people. If there is evidence of God’s reality, we would expect that evidence to be fairly pervasive and easy to recognize. I call the claim that evidence for God would be widely available the “Wide Accessibility Principle.”

However, Christian theology has generally assumed that God desires humans not just to have a relationship with him but to have a relationship of a certain kind. God desires humans to serve him freely, motivated by love of God’s goodness, not out of coercion or fear. Given God’s omnipotence and omniscience, if God’s reality were too obvious it would create difficulties for this goal, for it would be the height of foolishness for even a self-centered being to oppose a being who is omnipotent and omniscient.

It thus seems plausible to assume that, though the evidence for God would be widely available and easily accessible, it would also be the kind of evidence that a person who wished to do so could dismiss or reject. We might thus expect the evidence to have a degree of ambiguity, to be such that it could be reinterpreted or explained away by those who do not wish to believe in God, or who perhaps have been taught to think this way by those who do not believe in God. The evidence would then be easily resistible, even though widely available, and I call this second constraint on the evidence for God the quote “Easy Resistibility Principle.”

Pgs. 24-25

~ Evans then goes on to quote Blaise Pascal’s Pensees. He sees the above two principles in Pascal’s Pensees. I will jot the Pensees from where Evans sources and formulates the above constraints.

“If He had wished to overcome the obstinacy of the most hardened, He could have done so by revealing Himself to them so plainly that they could not doubt the truth of His essence, as He will appear on the last day with such thunder and lightning and such convulsions of nature that the dead will rise up and the blindest will see Him.

This is not the way He wished to appear when He came in mildness, because so many men had shown themselves unworthy of His clemency, that He wished to deprive them of the good they did not desire. It was therefore not right that He should appear in a manner manifestly divine and absolutely capable of convincing all men, but neither was it right that His coming should be so hidden that He could not be recognized by those who sincerely sought Him. He wished to make Himself perfectly recognizable to them. Thus wishing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart and hidden from those who shun Him with all their heart, He has qualified our knowledge of Him by giving signs which can be seen by those who seek Him and not by those who do not.

‘There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.'”

From Pensée 430 in Blaise Pascal, Pensées (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1958), 118.

More on all this that I will be following up on:

Knowing vs. Teaching | Bezalel & Oholiab

~ In the book of Exodus, we find mentioned, two artists par excellent.  These are Bezalel and Oholiab. One place among many that you can read about them is Exodus 35:30-35,

30 Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the Lord has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 31 and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— 32 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 33 to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic crafts. 34 And He has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. (NIV)

~ Now what I find interesting about this verse is that it is saying not only that God gave these guys the ability to do art, but God also gave them the ability to teach others how to do art.

As regards verse 34, Walt Kaiser says in his commentary,

“Verse 34 adds that Bezalel is given “the ability to teach others,” a capability of training and guiding assistants who work with these two artificers. All the abilities these gifted craftsmen own come from the expertise God has given to them.”

Kaiser, Jr., Walter C.; Kaiser, Jr., Walter C.. Exodus (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary) (Kindle Locations 7881-7883). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.

~ I find this interesting because we meet a lot of people in life who are super-smart at Neuroscience or Astrophysics or whatever, but you ask them to explain one jot of it and in no time, they are sort of out in who-knows-where-land and you have no clue what they are talking about.  And… and … they don’t get that you don’t get it. They just keep going, going, going. The plane is not about to land anytime soon.

Anyway, we all know these people. We’ve met them. Some people are freaky smart but they just can’t teach all thats stuffed in their heads. Teaching is a skill of its own kind. And while it comes easy to some, many people have to work hard to develop it. I just find this distinction to be interesting…

Ok… all that said, here is a really good song, For Such A Time As This from someone I just discovered on Youtube – Beckah Shae:

~ I think her songs are amazing.

When the Dead Give Life …

~ The following is a rewrite of a post that I started but did not really clean up and finish.  I intended to get back to it a bit earlier, but … 2+ years later here I am. I’m a little delayed but ehhh, whatever. Ok that said and aside. . . .  And Action!

ElishaAndJoash

      Joash Shooting The Arrow Of Deliverance by William Dyce (1806-64)

~ I love the above painting by William Dyce. It is of Elisha encouraging Joash to shoot some arrows out of the window.  The lighting is simply amazing. So also the skin tones… Anyway, here is a passage narrating something that took place when Elisha died.

20 Elisha died, and they buried him. Now the bands of the Moabites would invade the land in the spring of the year. 21 As they were burying a man, behold, they saw a marauding band; and they cast the man into the grave of Elisha. And when the [dead] man touched the bones of Elisha he revived and stood up on his feet. ~ 2 Kings 13:20+

The Psychiatrist:
~ I have an aunt who worked as a psychiatrist for decades. She is not only one on account of having gone to Medical School, but honestly, she is one also on account of her temperament. She once walked into the room of a new patient and within moments of her introducing herself to the patient, the patient said to her, “Oh. You can’t help me. You don’t know where I am coming from. You don’t know what I have been through!”

Up above we have a story of how Elisha, a man who during his life healed quite a few people and later on became sick and eventually died. Upon his death and subsequent burial, something interesting happened. Even while dead, he gave life to someone.

Could my aunt have given life to her patient? Or did she need to go out and get felled by the thing that felled this person and then come back and be on with it, saying to the patient, “I know just how you feel?”

~ I think not. While it helps a lot for one to have gone through what someone else has gone through, it is not necessary. Quite often you can do just as well if you have not gone through what others have, because you do not have a certain set of unhelpful biases.

I feel like I have observed this sort of phenomenon elsewhere also… Consider…

The Artist:
~ Some people cannot draw a line. However they are great art critics. In fact their critiques can be so constructive that an artist with an open ear can actually improve  their artwork.

    Swan Storyline

The Preacher:
~ Like so, some people cannot preach a sentence. However they can give such good feedback on a sermon heard that the preacher becomes much better. Though they themselves are dead in the pulpit, they however can give life to others in the pulpit.

The Prof:
~ An English Literature prof may at best write dead prose and even on a good day may not be able to write a line of poetry or fiction. However she may be a fantastic writing coach to her students.

And so it goes… from death to life.

Douglas Moo on the Law of Christ

In the Bible, there is a particular phrase “the law of Christ” that is used two and only two times. No more. It would seem like this would be the sort of phrase that would be found scattered all over the various books and epistles in the Bible, but it is not.  It is found only twice.

So where are those two places where this phrase found?

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

and

“To those without the Law I became like one without the Law (though I am not outside the law of God but am under the law of Christ), to win those without the Law” (1 Corinthians 9:21).

Now given that the phrase is used only twice and that too in such thought provoking ways, the question naturally arises as to what it means. So what does “Law of Christ” mean anyway?

I am leafing through a commentary on Galatians by Douglas Moo.  In Moo’s discussion of the passage, he lists out two major ways in which the phrase has been variously interpreted.  In looking over the list, I suppose you could say that the “Law of Christ” has been understood as either

(LoC1) having something to do with the Law of Moses

or

(LoC2) having somethings to do with the Jesus Christ, Himself.

So lets look at what these are as per Moo’s commentary.

Re: (LoC1) – Something to do with the Law of Moses.

The Law of Moses basically refers to the the Torah (i.e. the Pentateuch). It is referring to all those commands that you find in the first five books of the Bible especially those seen in the latter part of Exodus, then in Leviticus, Numbers and then in Deuteronomy.  If you flip through these books you will see various laws governing sacrifices, tithing, food laws, what kind of fabrics to mix or not mix and so on.

So according to one major interpretation, the Law of Christ is basically be identified with the Law of Moses.  So Law of Christ = Law of Moses.

The next way is distinct from the what I just discussed (LoC1) in that it has nothing to do with the Law of Moses.

Re: (LoC2) – Somethings to do with the Person of Jesus Christ.

~ Note that I said “something-s” not something as in LoC1. Moo here lists out three different ways that the Law of Christ has been interpreted such that it relates to the person of Jesus Christ. Here they are:

(1) The Law of Christ is referring to the famous love command which Jesus said was what was at the heart of the Law.  The apostle Paul mentions it in Galatians.

~~~> For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Gal. 5:14).

And … You can find variations of it all over the New Testament. For example,

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another” (John 13:34).

(2) The Law of Christ is referring to the various ethical teachings of Jesus.

~ These would be things like the Golden Rule or love for your enemies, judging others and so on.

(3) The Law of Christ is referring to Jesus example.

~ So you look at all the good things that Jesus did during His life and follow suite. So you feed the hungry, clothe the poor, and so on.

(4) The Law of Christ is referring to some combination of (1) – (3).

~ Moo thinks that (4) is where it is at with the addition all the teachings and commandments of the inspired apostles. So we could say it is a (4)+.

Here is a quote from the book:

Moo states “At the risk, then, of “having one’s cake and eating it twice” (or three of four times),  we think Paul’s phrase “the law of Christ” refers, in direct counterpart to “the law of Moses,” to the broadly ethical demand of the gospel.”

Ok… Ciao!

Paisley Lady – after Nth Attempt (for Inktober)

I have not been writing all that much here lately. I’ve just been doing a bunch of art.  I do hope to get back soon. In the meantime, this is my latest…

Paisley Lady

~ The above is my n-th attempt at trying to make a certain something. What I was originally trying to make did not work out, so I ended up with what you see. Oh well…  I will keep trying to get the other thing that I am trying to do work.

That all said, i used Affinity Designer for the inks and used Adobe Stock Images for the background since it takes just waaaaaaay too much time to do paisley and right now I just do not have the time right now.

NABEEL QURESHI (1983- 2017) – Statement of Faith & Hope in Eternal Life

News is getting around the net. Dr. Nabeel Qureshi, M.D. passed away and went to be with the Lord Jesus Christ. He was diagnosed with stomach cancer back in August 2016 and battled it until recently.  It was tough watching some of his youtube vlogs as he chronicled his journey through cancer. But now its all over. Nabeel was only 34 however his was a life well lived! Here is a short 3-1/2 minute moving testimony from one of his last messages that he gave not too long ago.

Excerpt:  ” . . . but let’s say the worst should happen and let’s say God should take me through this disease – I had all these months to prepare for it. I had all this time to spend with my wife and my daughter. More memories to make loose ends to tie up – tell my parents I love them. Write more works. Write more things to tell the world.

This didn’t have to happen. God could have taken my life just like that. The end could have come just like that. It happens for people all around the world. So who am I to say that this is a tragedy of the worst order? It’s not.

There’s much worse that’s going on in the world today but no matter what is going on I cannot think of something worse than being crucified! And of all the reasons to be crucified I cannot think of anything worse than to be crucified because I love the people who are crucifying me. To save the very people who are crucifying me – that is the worst and I think about what Jesus went through for us on the Cross.”

~ Watch it! Don’t simply read the above!!!

Idea On The Side . . . Girl Laptopping Away ~ drawing ~ & Take 2

~ The following is something that I scribbled on a piece of paper on my desk and had been meaning to get around to for some time now – in digital form.

I finally did a 1st cut in Affinity Designer, my new digital art tool – which BTW I recommend strongly.  Although I am a newbie with AD, and still learning, I find that I really like it.  Ok. Here it is.

Girl Laptopping Away – RGB Rao

Oks.  I this call it Girl Laptopping Away. I wanted to use an odd view and have it be symmetrically anal in the process.

One more go… take 2, 3 below… this I like better…

Virtue Aesthetics

~ I just created the following in XARA PGD.  I am not done with it as yet. I need to make changes… However … for now I will leave as it.

WomanSitting

~ The thought of the moment is the following:

Jonathan Edwards said that everyone in Heaven will be fully happy, yet will have differing degrees of happiness. So Sanju and Manju will be fully happy while Sanju may be more happy than Manju. Without getting into the philosophical particulars, what I want to mention for now is that according to Edwards we all will have differing capacities for happiness and this is because in this life we develop our capacity for it.

My thought: Mozart had a greater capacity to enjoy Classical Music that I do. Yet I can develop my capacity for Classical Music thusly and enjoy it more also.

~ The key word here is arete from Virtue Ethics. It means something like excellence.

~ Finish this post later…

Jonathan Edwards on Differing Capacities for Happiness

~ It is often understood that in Heaven there will be differing degrees of happiness (just as in Hell there will be differing degrees of unhappiness and suffering). Here and there though, the question arises as to how in Heaven, Joe and Jane can both be fully happy and yet still differ in how much happiness each has. I have wondered about this and found a great answer to this on-line in the following article at Reformed Answers. What follows is a link to the article, and some quick excerpts:

Jonathan Edwards on Degrees of Reward in Heaven   Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Question
I do not understand Edward’s on in his degrees of happiness, if the saints are completely happy how can there be degrees of hapiness?

“There will be a perfect harmony in that society; those that are most happy will also be most holy, and all will be both perfectly holy and perfectly happy. But yet there will be different degrees of both holiness and happiness according to the measure of each one’s capacity, and therefore those that are lowest in glory will have the greatest love to those that are highest in happiness, because they will see most of the image of God in them. And having the greatest love to them, they will rejoice to see them the most happy and the highest in glory.”  

So, to the question, ‘If all saints are perfectly and completely happy how can there be degrees of hapiness?

Edwards mentioned “capacities.” An illustration may help: Some may have a 8 oz cup of capacity based upon thier works and others may have the capacity of the ocean. When each arrive in heaven, they will each be perfectly happy because each one will be filled to the fullest of their capacity, but the person with the “ocean capcity” will of course have the greater happiness, while the 8 oz worker will not miss what the other has. Anthony Hoeksema answers and says:

“When one has studied music and has attained some proficiency in playing a musical instrument, his capacity for enjoying music has been greatly increased. In a similar way, our devotion to Christ and his kingdom increases our capacity for enjoying the blessings of that kingdom, both now and in the life to come. Leon Morris says, “Here and now the man who gives himself wholeheartedly to the service of Christ knows more of the joy of the Lord than the half-hearted. We have no warrant from the NT for thinking it will be otherwise in heaven.”

Timothy Larsen ~ Notes

Timothy Larsen is the Carolyn and Fred McManis Professor of Christian Thought at Wheaton College. There is a certain area in which he has done research in that I find to be very interesting. The following consist of some links to stuff that I have found online related to his research.

1) Doubting Doubt: An Interview with Timothy Larsen (by David Moore) at the Jesus Creed Blog (Scot McKnight)

2) Project Muse:

2.1) The Bible and the Victorians: An Interview with Timothy Larsen by Donald A. Yerxa @ Project Muse

2.2) A People of One Book: The Bible and the Victorians by Timothy Larsen (review) by Peter W. Sinnema

3) Timothy Larsen | Anthropologists and the Christian Faith ~ Youtube Interview by Greg Wheatley

4) A Closer Look at Victorian Christianity: A Conversation with Historian Timothy Larsen ~ Audio interview by Al Mohler @ Thinking in Public

5) Victorian Skeptics on the Road to Damascus ~ by Timothy Larsen at Christian History

6) A Portrait of America’s First Atheists by Timothy Larsen @ Christianity Today

7) Theology for Life (Ep. 11): Crisis of Doubt/Perseverance in Faith

Aldous Huxley Quote

~ I just made this. The above is a quote by Aldous Huxley found on page 293 of the book, What About the Big Stuff?: Finding Strength and Moving Forward When the Stakes Are High (2002) by Richard Carlson.  Aldous Huxley is of course the author of the famous novel, Brave New World.

Upon reading the quote, I couldn’t help but think to myself,

“Huh? What? – Thats it!?! Thats all you can say???”

This nothing but an empty platitude that anyone anywhere can mouth off.  This is it from the great Aldous Huxley? What a disappointment. 

Psalm 23 & God In Pursuit

~ Here and there I have heard Pastor John Piper say of Psalm 23:6, that a more literal Hebrew translation of it would be “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” 

In fact here is an excerpt from an article by him that states as much:

“God does not bless us begrudgingly. There is a kind of eagerness about the beneficence of God. He does not wait for us to come to him. He seeks us out, because it is his pleasure to do us good. God is not waiting for us; he is pursuing us. That, in fact, is the literal translation of Psalm 23:6: ‘Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.'”

How Much God Wants to Bless You @ Desiring God Ministries

I have always wondered about this.  Is that really one more valid way to translate the Hebrew? Because most Bible versions seem have the word follow in verse 6:

Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (NIV)

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me … (ESV), (KJV), (NKJV)

Of the Bibles found at BibleGateway.com, about 30 Bibles use “follow” and about 12 use “pursue”. 

So which is it? And why is it important?

~ Let me start with the question of which is it? For this, I will take a quick look at the Hebrew. One sec. 

This is the verse in question. Don’t worry if you do not follow the Hebrew. I myself am very rusty and you can get the point.  

The word that I have cirled, yirdphuni, comes from the word radaph ~ rdp, which it turns out really does mean pursue:

Here is a more colorful picture from Logos. I love these:

~ So a literal translation of the Hebrew really can be “Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life.” Interesting.

Ok. So why is this important?

One reason why is personal. I personally just find the idea of goodness and mercy being in a hot pursuit of us, to be something cool.  It’s as if they pursue us so as to tackle us and I like that picture.  I like the idea and image of being jumped by God’s mercy and goodness.

A second reason why I think it’s important is because there is quite often an asymmetry that governs our lives.  We all too often remember or notice the bad things that take place in our lives but rarely the good.  This is will help us to be more sensitive to the good in our lives.

A final reason why is that this is really about God pursuing us more than anything. All too often we are accustomed to thinking of ourselves as the ones seeking God. It really is the opposite – all through our lives… all the days of our lives.

You can read more about all this at the Piper article linked to up above. I will end for now.


*Note 1: All of the above and the following were accessed via Logos Software and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia in Logos.

Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia : with Westminster Hebrew Morphology. (1996). (electronic ed., Ps 23:6). Stuttgart; Glenside PA: German Bible Society; Westminster Seminary.

*Note 2: I was just reading Proverbs 13 during my quiet time and noticed that it says in verse 21 “Adversity pursues sinners, but the righteous will be rewarded with prosperity.” And yes. Sure enough. The word for pursue here is the same one discussed up above.

Effective Praying involves Reasoning from God to God

~ The best prayers are those which reason from God to God. That is to say, we go from God’s character and His acts to our requests and petitions. God is the ground of our seeking something. He is the foundation for what we want.

A classic case of this is Abraham reasoning with God when God reveals to him that He is going to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham intercedes saying,

“… Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?  Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”  ~ Genesis 18:23-25

Note what Abraham is appealing to. He is appealing to God’s goodness and justice.

Another example: It says in 1 Samuel 2:30: ” …Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained.” 

I think that Nabeel Querishi (see previous post) is totally honoring God with his joy, hope, faith and so on. He is like a living embodiment of Romans 12:12,

“Joyful in hope,
patient in affliction,
faithful in prayer.”

Praise God! So my point is that in my prayers to God, I can basically pray to God telling him that Nabeel has honored him, so do honor him also.  Why is honor important for Nabeel and really God at this moment in life? I mean he has Stage IV cancer with a 1% chance to live. Doesn’t he have better things to worry about than honor?

Well – there have been people who have alleged that the reason why Nabeel has cancer is because he converted from Islam to Christianity. Apparently this is some kind of divine punishment from Allah.  They have urged him to return to Islam so that Allah may heal him.

My personal concern here is that if Nabeel passes away, then this will discredit and dishonor the God of the Bible. So while I think we have good reasons to be hopeful that Nabeel will survive the cancer, I still think that if things go otherwise, we must pray that the living God will not be dishonored. So we can make our appeal on the basis of 1 Samuel 2:20. We ask God to honor Nabeel + the entire situation + its outcome because of what God said there. We appeal to God’s glory and honor here.

One last thing: Another 1 Samuel 2:30 related video from the movie, Chariots of Fire.  I will leave out the explanation since this has been long enough already.

The What and the When of a Calling

~ I am listening to Conrad Mbewe’s testimony on SermonAudio.com. He is the pastor of Kabwata Baptist Church out in Lusaka, Zambia.  In his testimony, he talks about his calling to the pastoral ministry and in the process passes on something that I think is sage advice. This is something I wish I had heard years ago and so I am noting it down here.


“I then moved over to start studying Mining Engineering at our local government owned university. About a year later, I began to sense in my own spirit, that God may be calling me to Pastoral Ministry. You have to appreciate that I was only a year old in the Lord and I didn’t know anything about how God calls men to the Preaching Ministry.

So I sought the counsel of an older Christian who was in our hall of residence whose understanding of the Bible I really admired and he – if I could summarize the way he put it to me. He basically said:

“It is one thing to know what God wants you to do. Its another to know when He wants you to do it.”

He basically used Romans 1 and argued for the fact that if I thought it was the Lord calling me, then I should go and have dealings with Him in prayer, but then wait for Him to open the door.  And between that point and His opening the door, I needed to be faithful to all the responsibilities that He would give me.

And thats what I sought to do for 7 solid years. From my first year in the University to the time that God finally opened the door for me to enter into the Pastorate of Kabwata Baptist Church.”

Getting back to the bold-faced statement up above:

~~> “It is one thing to know what God wants you to do. Its another to know when He wants you to do it.

I find this thought to be quite a powerful thought.  Its one thing to know what what God is calling you to do, but quite another to know when.  There are several stories of people who sensed God calling them to missions and what not in another country. However it was not about to happen overnight.  Patience would be needed as the call would only be realized many years a later.

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

BTW, here is ~~> Conrad Mbewe’s site

And … Here is a another post I wrote on a related topic: The Long Hard Wait.

Paul’s Mystical Experiences…

In Chapter 12 of 2 Corinthians, the apostle Paul talks about a man who he knows, who was caught up to the third heaven about fourteen years ago. This man apparently “…was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.”

Who is this man that Paul talking about? If you read the prior chapter to get some context and then keep reading forward, you will realize that Paul is really talking about himself. One indication of this is that Paul shifts his language from speaking in the 3rd person to the 1st person.

Now here is a question: How long ago did Paul have these remarkably great experiences and receive “surpassingly great revelations”?

Veil Nebula ~ Courtesy Pixabay

Ans. Fourteen years ago.

” …I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven…” ~ 2 Cor. 12:2

And another question: Why is Paul telling us this now?

Why has Paul kept silent for fourteen years? I mean should he not have written whole epistles and books on the subject matter. Why so much silence? Why just a bare paragraph’s worth of information – no details given – and all this fourteen years later! Why?

Ans. I can’t say I know 100% why, but we can gather at least this much. Part of it was this it was not God’s will that he speak of these things. Another part of it is that Paul did not regard these experiences as particularly important to the furthering of the Gospel. He simply did not think that these subjective, and if you will – mystical – experiences were anything worth talking much about or anything that would help his neighbor in some special way.

Other wise Paul would have been the last person to hold back. If one reads the New Testament and gets a feel for Paul’s personality and temperament, one will realize that Paul would have been the last person to hold back on anything that will help you get to know God better. So for me the question becomes – just how important are mystical experiences?

I opine that they are not of much value. They simply are not. At the end of the day, our most important need is salvation from our slavery to sin. This comes from the Cross.

Here is a sermon, Strength In Weakness by Kent Hughes that in part discusses said issue:

On Nullifying God’s Promises ~ Sort of…

~ Here is a thought:

Suppose it is early in the month and I make a promise to you and say,

“I promise you that I will give you a 100 bucks on the last day of the month.” 

Now since I have given such a promise, I am obligated to keep it – if I have any character and integrity that is.

Now suppose later on, during the middle of the month, I go to the amusement park for a holiday and to enjoy the rides ands such there I run into you again. Here you remind me of the promise I made.  Now, what would you think if I then say,

“Hey. Look. I know  I owe you a 100 bucks and I know I promised to pay you at the end of the month, but let me say this to you now:

I promise you that I will give you 50 bucks on the last day of the month.”

What would your reaction be?

Obviously you would not accept this. A 100 bucks was what the original promise was. This is 5o short! Of course you would not accept this.  You would regard me as in effect trying to break the promise. No?

On the flip side, suppose I say the following to you instead:

“I promise you that I will give you a 1,000 bucks on the last day of the month.”

Surely you would not object? And surely this does not speak ill of my character in anyway.  In fact it speaks the opposite. Perhaps I am very magnanimous.  Also if I do give the 1,000 at the end of the month, I cannot in anyway be charged with breaking my promise.

Yet also notice, this new $1,000 promise is what now holds. If I make this promise, then it over-rides the $100 promise. The greater promise in a sense nullifies the lesser promise. On the flip side, the $50 promise does not in any way nullify the $100 promise.

Abe Lincoln & Psychological Egoism

~ I want to jot a quick story about Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), the 16th President of the United States. The story comes from pages 504-505 of Joel Feinberg’s book, Reason and Responsibility: Readings in Some Basic Problems of Philosophy, 15th Edition

Mr Lincoln once remarked to a fellow-passenger on an old time mud-coach that all men were prompted by selfishness in doing good. His fellow passenger was antagonizing this position when they were passing over a corduroy bridge that spanned a slough. As they crossed this bridge they espied an old razor-backed sow on the bank making a terrible noise because her pigs had got into the slough and were in danger of drowning. As the old coach began to climb the hill, Mr. Lincoln called out,

“Driver can’t you stop just a moment?”

Then Mr. Lincoln jumped out, ran back and lifted the little pigs out of the mud and water and placed them on the back. When he returned his companion remarked:

“Now Abe, where does selfishness come in on this little episode?”

“Why, bless your soul Ed, that was the very essence of selfishness. I should have had no peace of mind all day had I gone on and left that suffering old sow worrying over those pigs. I did it to get peace of mind, don’t you see?”

Two comments:
~ I believe that as a thesis Psychological Egoism might be irrefutable. However just because we do not know how to refute it, does not mean that it is false.
~ It does seem so very true though…

Two Quick and Offbeat Thoughts On the Perseverance (= Preservation) of the Saints…

(1) John 10:27-29 says “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and NO ONE will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” 

The Point: “No one” up above surely means NO ONE. I mean absolutely no one.  So … even YOU cannot snatch yourself out of God’s hands.

(2) The second one I got from the Puritan John Owen (1616-83). John Owen basically raised a question of the good King Hezekiah whose story is recorded the Bible. And as the story went, Hezekiah was about to die due to being very ill and so he prayed to God asking God to spare him and God gave him an additional 15 years of life.

~~> So the question becomes, given that God has given Hezekiah a 15 years extension on his life, is Hezekiah now free to do as he pleases?

Does he need to look after his health anymore? Can he eat and drink as he pleases now? Can he now become a drunkard, drinking excessively because it will do no ill to his liver? Can he stop doing all exercise?

From John Owen, The Saints Perseverance, in Works, 11:280, accessed at The Puritans on Perseverance of the Saints by Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones

 

Genesis ~ Quick Note in Passing…

“Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven.” ~ Genesis 47:28

~ I just want to jot an odd note from a commentary that I read. This note has to do with the deaths of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  The commentary that I read was Genesis: A Commentary by Bruce K. Waltke with Cathi J. Fredricks.

From pg. 591 –

“Interestingly, the factorization of the lifespans of the patriarchs follows a distinct pattern: Abraham 175 = 5 x 5 x 7; Isaac 180 = 6 x 6 x 5; Jacob 147 = 7 x 7 x 3.  Sarna explains, ‘In this series, the squared number increases by one each time while the coefficient decreases by two. Furthermore, in each case the sum of the factors is 17.  Through their factorial patterns, the patriarchal chronologies constitute a rhetorical device expressing the profound biblical conviction that Israel’s formative age was not a concatenation of haphazard incidents but a series of events ordered according to God’s grand design.'”

~ Honestly, I don’t know how people observe or figure out such things. Go figure!

Here is another article, that discusses said issue:

The Mysterious Numbers of the Ages of the Patriarchs by Duane L. Christensen @ jbburnett.com

 

Submitted Strengths & Admitted Weaknesses

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

What is weakness? Can such a thing actually be good? Of what use is a weak person?

weakness_distinctions

I have been thinking about weakness a lot and let me start off by saying that broadly speaking, I think there are two kinds of weaknesses, amoral and immoral. They are in the little drawing I have placed above. Of these two, the amoral (or non-moral) weaknesses are what I think are in view in the verses up above.  This is the kind of weakness that God works through. It is the kind that God blesses – not the immoral weaknesses. 

Any my current take: I think a good way to understand strength and weakness in the Bible is to understand strength as submitted strength and weakness as admitted weakness.

Let me start by talking about submitted strength. What I mean by this is that God gives us various gifts and talents. We do this for God’s glory. We acknowledge God in all that we do with these. We still rely on him for the proper use of these gifts.  It is all to easy to misuse our gifts or to just run with them without thanking God. Its just simply all too easy to run on gift-power rather than on the power of the Holy Spirit, the end result being dryness or burn-out.  Samson is a classic case in the Bible of unsubmitted weakness. His life ends in a suicide. 

As for admitted weakness, what I mean is that we take our weaknesses to God in prayer and tell him about it. We cast all our anxieties upon him.  The amazing thing is that God will use us still. He will still work through our weaknesses and bring about some great things.

And… and… I suppose it goes without saying ~~~> It all boils down to prayer in a 1,000 different ways. 

Faith & Love ||| Note in Passing

James 2:19 states:

“You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shudder.”

~ In Koine the word used for believe is pisteuō (πιστεύω). It can also mean: to trust, to have faith in.

19 σὺ πιστεύεις ὅτι εἷς ἐστιν ὁ θεός, καλῶς ποιεῖς· καὶ τὰ δαιμόνια πιστεύουσιν καὶ φρίσσουσιν. [1]

~ Note however that in James 2:19, that the word pisteuō is not translated as trust. It does not say or associate trust with demons. What we can get out of this is that the demons believe in there being one God, but they do not trust that there is one God.  Something more is implied in saying that trust is involved. This means that the word trust does not mean exactly the same thing is believe.

~ Now lets go to one other verse, Romans 4:5 in English and in Koine:

“However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.

5 τῷ δὲ μὴ ἐργαζομένῳ πιστεύοντι δὲ ἐπὶ τὸν δικαιοῦντα τὸν ἀσεβῆ λογίζεται ἡ πίστις αὐτοῦ εἰς δικαιοσύνην· [2]

~ Here pisteuō  is translated as trusts and faith.

So all I am trying to say is this. In Koine, though the word often used in a given verse is pisteuō, in English, it may be translated as faith, believe, trust, etc.  Perhaps this should not be surprising.  Why? Well, we do this in English as well with some words. For example, the word you can have a singular referent or a plural referent.  Or the word love, can refer to something romantic or to friendships or to a fathers love for his child. And so on… We simply understand from the context what is going on.  And …

It seems to me that the Greeks were like that with the word, pisteuō. They simply understood from the context what was going on.

[1] Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed., Jas 2:19). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

[2] Nestle, E., Nestle, E., Aland, B., Aland, K., Karavidopoulos, J., Martini, C. M., & Metzger, B. M. (1993). The Greek New Testament (27th ed., Ro 4:5). Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

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